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Commentary: Another perspective on election fraud claims and the Capitol riot



For the past week, the nation has been absorbed by the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol housing one of the three branches of the federal government. The debate over what it meant and may continue to mean, has been joined.

What has led to this commentary is the rise of theories that what we saw on myriad news video footage isn’t really what we saw. That despite the “Stop the Steal” rally earlier that day addressed by President Trump, among others promoting the notion that Joe Biden’s 7-million popular vote and decisive 306-232 Electoral College, 74-vote margin of victory is a hoax perpetrated on the American public – that somehow the violence and anarchy displayed by the crowd urged to the Capitol by President Trump, wasn’t the work of Trump supporters and more radical elements of the “Stop the Steal” crowd.

Assertions have been made that the huge pro-Trump crowd was not one prone to violence and social media “rumors” and other Internet “theories” have been forwarded to shift blame to the political right’s boogeyman – ANTIFA (acronym for Anti-Fascist) infiltrators – as responsible for the violence and subversive invasion of the U.S. Capitol building leading to five deaths, including one Capitol Policeman reportedly beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.

Above lower right, mob attacks blockaded door where woman was killed by officer as she climbed onto door; below, a Capitol Police officer in distress as he is pinned between another doorway and barrier crowd was pushing against door. Still Photos from TV video new sources as identified – Roger Bianchini

Before I continue, let me say that from the extensive amount of video news footage I have watched over the past days, I believe there were good people in the crowd who descended on Capitol Hill on January 6. Associated Press (AP) footage of one of its cameramen being assaulted by a portion of the mob near the Capitol building showed one man outside the Capitol building porchway wall protecting the newsman from that mob after they had tossed him over the concrete wall. Others outside the Capitol building stairway also appeared to help move the AP photographer away from the rioters that had been roughing him up and initially began climbing over the wall to continue their assault. And let me add that I am not a fan of America’s two-party system. I believe it is too prone to corruption from either side, without the check of multiple viable parties to challenge for Congressional seats to keep clear majorities harder to come by.

Uh oh, graffiti on door inside Capitol says, ‘Murder the Media’.

That said, as with the repeated court rulings dismissing Trump state vote count challenges around the country as not supported by ANY factual evidence, including without dissent by the Trump multi-member-appointed and conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court, the idea that leftist radicals were somehow responsible for the violence and rioting at the U.S. Capitol appears to have NO basis in factual evidence. As noted above, the source of this idea is social media “rumors” or “articles on the Internet” making claims without fact-checking or editorial oversight.

But we have not heard specifics on the Internet sources of those rumors and articles. For if we had, one might wonder if they would have been from the same right-wing blogs that have been reported rallying neo-fascist, Q-Anon, and racist elements of the extreme American right-wing toward D.C. for the pro-Trump rally and move against the January 6th certification of the Electoral College count by Congress for weeks.

Above, a Dec. 19 Tweet before the president’s post-riot lifetime Twitter ban trumpets one of his enablers’ report, apparently without the factual basis to be used in court, and invites followers to D.C. Jan. 6, promising a ‘wild’ time. Below, well a little wild but – what, a new vice president to preside over the absent Senate?

And while the initial video seemed to show a disorderly mob entering the Capitol, some chasing an isolated Capitol Policeman upstairs, others occupying podiums, carrying them away, and relaxing in Nancy Pelosi’s office, feet on the desk, the overall mood while somewhat riotous, didn’t seem horribly malevolent.

However, that changed with the release of additional video, including security footage, several days later indicating a more aggressive and violent mob assault on the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government, perhaps explaining the immediate moving of Vice President Mike Pence, now labeled a traitor by some Trump supporters, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and numerous other Congressional members to undisclosed safe locations at the Capitol for their safety. The threat was taken so seriously that Capitol security shot and killed a woman as she attempted to breach a barricaded secure location with a window-smashing mob inside the Capitol.

Above, this shirt with an anti-Semitic coded, neo-Nazi message was reported being worn by some inside the Capitol Wednesday. 6MWE purportedly stands for ‘Six Million Weren’t Enough’, a reference to the 6 million Jews killed during Nazi control of Germany. Below, a fellow traveler with a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt celebrating one of the Nazi concentration camps where Jews were held and executed.

Videos I have seen over the weekend have shown people with anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans emblazoned T-shirts and at least one with a string of plastic hand restraints used by police for large crowd control arrests roaming the halls of Congress. Security and news video, as well as self-posted social media images, have been used to identify people around the nation known to be right-wing supporters of President Trump, including a West Virginia Republican state assemblyman who resigned after being charged with criminal conduct at the Capitol. As of Sunday evening, 70 people had been reported arrested on charges related to their videotaped actions inside the U.S. Capitol.

None, to my knowledge, have been identified as ANTIFA or any other leftist group members.

But the Trump base continues to believe what it wants, regardless of the questionable nature of sources or any factual evidence to the contrary. Many in that base suggest an ongoing “establishment” and “media” conspiracy to unseat Donald Trump. The formation of committees to study the notion of election fraud already rejected as absent of ANY supporting factual evidence in, I believe the last count was 60 courts around the nation, are demanded by some. How much of their own and fellow citizens’ federal tax revenue do they want spent to overturn a “conspiracy” two of the three branches of the federal government, Legislative and Judicial, have determined exists only in an “alternate fact” universe of the Executive Branch’s creation?

Above, a guillotine noted for its use in executing the French nobility during the French Revolution, erected on the Capitol grounds. I have not heard whether it was functional or not. Below, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was not popular with the crowd.


Alternate explanation

Let me suggest an alternative election scenario which even conservative court after conservative state legislature has ruled is based in real-world facts, as opposed to one simply repeated over and over by a desperate, deposed would-be “president for life” and echoed back by his either horribly naïve or complicity corrupt, bigoted, anti-democratic cult-of-personality base:

Donald Trump was honestly and decisively defeated in the 2020 election because outside of his 35% hardcore base, it has been apparent to the majority of the American public that his has been a failed, inept and destructive to the American brand presidency. In the wake of the insurrectionist siege of the Capitol and apparent physical threat to the legislators inside, even former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has felt compelled to go online from his own website to call Trump “without competition” the worst president in American history, one who should be relegated to its dustbin as soon as possible.

Really, the Trump base may ask, “Arnie’s turned on us?!?”

Former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has placed the blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the Legislative Branch of government squarely on President Trump’s shoulders.

Yes, despite his success in several science-fiction epochal films, it seems Schwarzenegger has publicly thrown in with a decisive American majority who do believe in facts and scientific inquiry and do NOT believe in “alternate facts”. This is likely a non-evangelical majority that also believes in maintaining the separation of church and state, not permitting any religious group, even the nation’s dominant one, of dictating all Americans’ moral, sexual, or lifestyle choices. And I would suggest, it is a majority that doesn’t arbitrarily dismiss the history of a Trump presidency marked by a daily accumulation of documentable “false or misleading claims” now chronicled by “Fact Checker” on the Washington Post website at over 20,000, what some less kind might term, “lies” told by the president in office.

Above, one news source’s appraisal of rioters in possession of a large number of plastic hand restraints used by police in mass arrest situations, as well as rope. The man jumping the barrier is carrying a large number of them in his left hand. Below, plain clothed security personnel with guns drawn as mob tries to break into a secured area barricaded with furniture.

And the anti-Trump voters’ number may be buoyed by others who just believe the president has failed miserably to act proactively to deal with the most dangerous worldwide health crisis in decades, if not a century, directly leading to the death of over 350,000 Americans in one year – over 20% of the world’s Coronavirus pandemic deaths with 4% of the world’s population despite the resources available to the most advanced nation on the planet.

Not everyone in America believes COVID-19 is an international Q-Anon style hoax perpetrated to discredit Donald Trump. – Trust me, for those whose eyes aren’t “wide shut”, he doesn’t need the help.

Not everyone in America believes everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

Not everyone in America believes even Republican state officials in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere Joe Biden won the popular vote, are traitorous liars because their recounts maintained what their initial counts had shown – Donald Trump lost their state, not by fraud, but rather by a majority of those states’ voters’ awareness of the relentless failures of the Trump presidency. Internationally perhaps most tellingly, America’s distancing itself from the post-World War II Western alliance that has kept post-Soviet Russian expansionism into Europe in check.
I might suggest an alternate Commission or two be formed to those some suggest to chase the election fraud phantom: One to ascertain the psychological makeup of Americans who continue to believe something simply because Donald Trump says it’s true, despite overwhelming evidence reviewed by both Democrat and Republican legislators and judges, that it is not.

And a second to ascertain why the Capitol Police were not more prepared for the right-wing onslaught radical social media sites had been promoting for weeks; and why the necessary federal authority emanating from the Oval Office didn’t deploy D.C. National Guard immediately after the Capitol was breached by a mob disrupting the function of the Legislative Branch of the American government.

(The is the opinion of the writer.)

Above, the president and vice president at a March 2020 COVID conference before the falling out over certification of the election result. First image below, rioters on Wednesday attempted to replace an American flag flying on the Capitol with a Trump flag. Something tells me ANTIFA wouldn’t have risked their lives doing that. And finally, perhaps a hint as to why adequate security for Congress wasn’t in place or dispatched by the president. It was Vice-President Pence who eventually authorized D.C. National Guard’s deployment, which normally rests with the president since D.C. is not a state under gubernatorial authority.

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Travel Bans 2021



historically speaking

Two of the biggest stories in the past couple of months have been about travel and immigration. First, with the fall of Afghanistan, we have opened our borders to refugees escaping the tyranny of the Taliban. And then just last week, President Biden has placed travel restrictions on eight African nations. What is interesting is that both occurrences, an opening and a closing, have drawn the most criticism from the right while the praise came from the left. As most readers of this column know, immigration and travel restrictions are not in any way new and, historically speaking, we have been having similar debates for more than a hundred years.

We do not have to go back very far to find travel restrictions. In Trump’s last year of office, he placed similar restrictions on African nations because of COVID. The only difference then was the right praised his actions while leaders on the left condemned them as racists. Nancy Pelosi released a statement that said, “The Trump administration’s expansion of its outrageous, un-American travel ban threatens our security, our value, and the rule of law. The sweeping rule, barring more than 350 million individuals from predominantly African nations from traveling to the United States, is discrimination disguised as policy.”

While this type of hypocrisy is expected today, barring travel or even those escaping persecution go back much further, and with some of our most respected presidents. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter put a ban on all travel and immigration from Iran. The previous year the Islamic Revolution took over the country and held American embassy workers hostage for what turned out to be 444 days. Even though many Iranians worked with the U.S. and feared the revolution, they were cut off from seeking refuge in the U.S.

Even more tragic were the events in Europe leading up to WWII. You have probably heard the Holocaust referred to as the “final solution.” The meaning behind this term is that the eradication of the Jews in death camps was not the Nazis’ first attempt to solve the “Jewish problem.” Earlier plans included shipping Jews off to somewhere like Madagascar or, better yet, push for Jews to immigrate out of Europe on their own. As the Nazis began to make life difficult for the Jews by clamping down on their rights, many Jews did try to immigrate to neighboring nations, but soon those nations came under Nazi influence and their troubles began again. The one bastion of hope for many of these fleeing Jews was America.

America, however sympathetic to their plight, was not really excited about opening its doors to thousands of Jews. To appear helpful President Roosevelt organized a conference in France to discuss with national leaders how to help. Thirty-two nations arrived and tried to help Hitler solve his “Jewish Problem,” but most of them, including the U.S., in the end determined that, when it came to Jews, they were full.  There was no room at the inn, you might say.

The most tragic example came in 1938 after what is known as Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass. Jews were already being persecuted, but after that night those who could leave knew they needed to. Several hundred Jews boarded a ship called the St. Louis heading for Cuba, hoping they could stay there until they gained access to the U.S.  Upon their arrival, the Cubans revoked their visas and would not let them off the ship. Out of desperation, the ship sailed to Florida, believing America to be a land of freedom. Once again, they were not allowed to disembark even after pleas to Roosevelt himself who refused them out of political necessity. Giving up hope, the ship finally sailed to Canada only to be refused one more time before returning to Europe. The Coast Guard even followed them until the ship was well out of sight of the U.S. coast to make sure no one jumped off.  Once home, half of the refugees, some 254 Jews, eventually lost their lives to the “Final Solution.”

While there is plenty of fault to go around, it is also true that no one could have ever imagined the Nazis trying to exterminate an entire race. All nations were suffering the economic effects of the Great Depression and were concerned with more mouths to feed. There was also a growing fear that bringing in European refugees of any race or ethnicity had the potential of bringing in communists. Stopping African tourists because of Covid is not exactly the same thing as stopping Jews during the Holocaust, but it is interesting that both times it was done in the name of protection to the U.S.

As always, I am not trying to support or condone the President’s policies but simply to shed some light on the subject. So, make your arguments and support your stances on immigration and travel bans, but if you use history try to get the details correct. When these same restrictions were passed under Trump, he was called a racist by the same people putting the policies in place today. Also, remember as much as we want it to be true, America has not always been open to all immigrants, even those fleeing repression at home.

Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at

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Councilman’s federal employment scrutinized



As it has been reported by multiple news sources, including the Rachel Maddow show on Wednesday (Dec.1), it has come to my attention that one of your town council members has a highly unusual fascination with girls’ menstrual cycles. According to those reports, it appears that Scott Lloyd likes to push teen girls, including some who had been raped, into reporting to him all about their periods. He kept mementos of these nosey inquiries in the form of governmental records that include the girls’ names and the dates they menstruated.

It is very disturbing that a grown man like Councilman Lloyd would have such a detailed interest and that he would feel entitled to act on this interest as soon as he has immigrant girls in custody who are captive to his whims. I assume it is a personal absurdity on the part of Councilman Lloyd to inquire of raped girls about their periods, as I like to hope that the average person in your town does not share the councilman’s obsession with periods.

I’ve tried to imagine why a grown man would behave this way.

I’ve asked myself if it is possible that Councilman Lloyd has read “Twilight” and that he has a secret longing to be Edward Cullen – a vampire who is obsessed with a teen girl’s blood?

I’m also curious to know if he would accept a COVID vaccine if it came with a complimentary box of Kotex and a copy of “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”.

Jessica Farrish
Beckley, W.Va.

(Editor’s note: This letter is a reference to news reports culminating with a story on the December 1st Rachel Maddow show exploring now Front Royal Town Councilman Scott Lloyd’s tenure as Director of Refugee Resettlement at the southern border during the Trump Administration. It concerns the incarceration of teenage female refugees, tracking of their menstrual cycles, and blocking of medically approved abortions for some while in U.S. custody at the border. The writer explained that the “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” reference is to a Judy Blume novel about a young girl coming of age, who talks to God about the changes, including physical, puberty brings to her life.)


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No Good Happens After Midnight



When I was a teenager growing up in Front Royal, my father would tell me and my sister two things before we went out on the town: “First, remember it takes years to grow a tree and only minutes to cut it down.” He told us the tree was like a reputation that takes a long time to build and only one foolish, thoughtless action or word to destroy. Be careful, be smart – what we did or said had consequences.

The second piece of wise advice was, “Be home by midnight because nothing good happens after that time.” My dad would reinforce this by explaining that we will encounter situations where people may ignore their better judgment when dealing with social pressures. This could be caused by drugs/alcohol or outside influences, driving some individuals to act without thinking of the consequences of their bad decisions, especially under the cover of darkness. He would reinforce his statement by telling us that he and other family members would have peace of mind knowing we would be home before that time. They cared and let us know it. The consequences were clear when not heeding his sage counsel, which could be the loss of the car and being grounded. We would often hear at school, following a weekend, that some of our classmates had gotten into serious trouble from not heeding or hearing caring, parental guidance.

It was my father’s concern for our well-being and his good advice that I followed during my adolescent years. It was the same advice that I passed on to my kids when they were teenagers and out of our protective sight.

I feel obligated to write about this as a result of the trial of the young man in Wisconsin who was acquitted in the killing of two people during the civil unrest in Kenosha. It’s unthinkable for me to comprehend that an under-aged teenager managed to take a semi-automatic weapon in public without adult supervision, even more, unimaginable that he could travel to another state and involve himself in an area of dangerous civil unrest. Most troubling is that a certain segment of our population, and elected leaders, have elevated this young man to a position of respect and hero status after killing two human beings; solely to promote their own self-serving ambitions and craving for attention. Just think if this young man had someone in his life who saw the need to impress upon him the above wisdom maybe this situation would never have happened. After the aura of gratuitous back-slapping has worn away he would not be stained for life when the spotlight becomes as dark as midnight.

The actions and resulting consequences for our kids today have escalated to an unbelievable degree compared to when I was a teenager or when my kids were growing up. It’s scary that as a society we have become so blinded by the political dogma that we can no longer separate common sense right from wrong. The consequences of our actions as adults may now be creating a generation of young people that feel unpowered, even encouraged to make a bad decision.

No good happens after midnight and shame on us adults for allowing it to happen to any of our kids.

Michael Graham
Front Royal, Virginia

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For the Record



I want to publicly congratulate and thank Melanie Salins for stepping up to the plate. She has displayed unrelenting fervor for this community. If you have ever been as lucky as I to have a one on one conversation with her, you know how much she desires to support others who have experienced injustice.

As someone who is compelled by the current state of affairs (not specifically Warren County, but overall the reports from Public Schools throughout the last decade-only worsening) to homeschool my children, I respect Melanie for the years she has sacrificed educating her children. Every time I see them I am amazed by their vocabulary and manners. I am encouraged by her election to the school board. Perhaps she can help drive the positive change needed to reassure parents that they can trust again and enroll students.

The negative things said of Melanie have been untrue. Even when accused of being involved with illegal activity, Melanie upheld the board’s code of conduct by remaining silent. Melanie’s appointment was not illegal and was advertised as required by law. She was competitively interviewed along with other applicants prior to the board vote.

As with any position and experience, there are lessons to be learned. Melanie has shown me at every turn how willing she is to learn.
She will continue to do a good job for our community.

Thank you, Melanie, for putting up a tough fight. I pray God leads you and gives you the strength to continue each and every day! May His light guide you as your term has just begun!

To those who saw past the rubbish and voted her in: thank you, from outside of your district! To those who are less than happy for her election: keep your chin up and give her a chance!

Jeanne Anderson
Warren County, Virginia

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Religion In Government



historically speaking

I am inspired this week by an assignment my wife is doing for a Law in Education class. Her assignment was to write about religion in school and particularly release time for religious classes. It is an interesting assignment for her because, unlike most of her class, she grew up in a state that actually does have release time in the high school. Religion, in general, is an interesting subject and historically speaking I have found most people are confused about what the Constitution says.

When I teach classes on the Constitution, after I cover the checks and balances and go over how the Constitution protects the people from the government and the government from the people, I then like to throw out some interesting questions to my students. First, I ask what the Constitution says about political parties, hint it says nothing. Then I like to ask, which article covers the separation between church and state. This is a trick question because even though the vast majority of Americans believe this line is in our founding document it is not. In actuality, the original Constitution said nothing at all about religion or God. You cannot argue for or against religion using the original document, there is simply nothing there to support your claims. Now after the Constitution was ratified, the first Congress amended the Constitution with the First Amendment which contains the Establishment Clause that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” You can interpret that for yourself if that clause restricts religious influence on government or just whether government cannot interfere with the practicing of religion. If you are wonder where the wall between church and state comes from, it was in a letter Thomas Jefferson sent to the Danbury Baptist Association.

If you are so inclined to see the Constitution as a Christian document, there are two good arguments. First, all the framers of the document were Christians, not all active church goers, but all would profess a belief in Christianity. Secondly, the Supreme court will not take up a case about religion until 1878. So, for eighty-nine years the courts, nor the government had any problem with some blending between church and state. The state simply could not interfere with how people practiced their own faith. That is until the government decided to crack down on polygamy in Utah in 1878. The courts really did not start taking up religious cases until the 1940s. If you are inclined to believe there should be a wall between the two, the best historical ground is simply if the Founders wanted to protect Christianity, they could have done so. Almost every state Constitution in 1789 had religious protections. The Founders did not just forget to add it.

However, while not everyone reads the Establishment Clause the same way, what is important is how the courts have interpreted it and the Supreme Court today has seen it as a wall. Today, whenever the courts have to decide a religious issue they apply what is known as the Lemon Test. In 1971, the Supreme Court struck down a practice in Pennsylvania where the schools were helping to pay for teacher’s salaries and books at religious schools. Alton Lemon led the charge against Pennsylvania for violating the Establishment Clause. Acknowledging the First Amendment’s language is vague, the Court determined a simple three question test to determine if any government is running afoul of the Constitution. The Lemon Test asks, 1) the primary purpose of the assistance is secular, (2) the assistance must neither promote nor inhibit religion, and (3) there is no excessive entanglement between church and state.

For my wife’s assignment, the Lemon Law had not come into effect when the Supreme Court originally denied an Illinois school board the ability to allow release time in 1948. The case, McCollum V. Board of Education said that since the school was allowing religious education on school grounds that it was unconstitutional. However, four years later the Court saw things differently in the case of Zorach V. Clauson in 1953. In this case, New York was allowing students release time for religious instruction off campus. They saw the difference in schools supporting religion as opposed to just accommodating it. Though it was not a unanimous decision Justice William Douglas wrote in favor of release time, “The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. Rather, it studiously defines the manner, the specific ways, in which there shall be no concert or union or dependency one on the other. That is the common sense of the matter. Otherwise, the state and religion would be aliens to each other—hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly.” In other words, Douglas was arguing that the government does not need to be hostile to religion to be separate.

Though release time from schools is still allowed by law, the Lemon Test since 1971, though controversial, has moved government more towards a wall of separation. The controversial part of the test is “excessive entanglement” and what that means.  The test was supposed to clarify the Establishment Clause and yet in some ways has only made it more confusing. With conservatives now the majority on the bench the question is will the Lemon Test continue to apply or might the Court swing the other direction and protect religious rights as we have seen with Hobby Lobby in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

Dr. James Finck is a Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. To receive daily historical posts, follow Historically Speaking at or on Facebook.

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Parents/Guardians of High School age students (Public, Private and Homeschool)



If you are interested in a wonderful opportunity for your High School student to learn about community service, engage with other local students, and learn more about leadership, please reach out to me at

There is a wonderful program through Rotary International called Interact and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership). You can learn for yourself by going to or watching this video.


Specifically, and locally, there is a “free” full-day event at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center on Saturday, December 4, with guest speakers, free lunch, snacks, and a Rise Against Hunger Service project, where we will package 10,000 meals in two hours, in order to help fight global poverty.

Students will network with other students (from their school and others) to learn how to become true humanitarians, positive citizens, and be good stewards of their community and World.

Michael S. Williams
Vice President, Rotary Club of Warren County, VA
Lifelong Youth Advocate

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