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Commentary: The Russians are coming!



Why does Russia exact fear in our cumulative thinking? Why are Russians always the bad guys? Think about how Russia is portrayed in the media and the impact that has on our cumulative psyche. Much of that is a function of how Russia is portrayed in history, film and our daily news. Vladimir realizes this fear and plays upon it. His conventional forces have proven to be rather inept but his portrayal of a madman with nukes has paralyzed the world with fear and inaction.

Reflection time: in the early 1990s, the USSR dissolved, and we all had hope that Russia would join NATO and all would be good with the world. It started out that way with Boris Yeltsin but then things changed with the emergence of Vladimir Putin. George W. Bush tried to befriend Vladimir but it didn’t take.

In the Russian mindset, you are either strong or you are not. To the West, Russia is always the bad guy or the dubious actor that is at odds with our principles and normalcy. Even in the movie “Highlander”, the most feared of the immortals was the Kurgan – portrayed as a fierce Russian warrior who played the fearsome antagonist throughout the movie. The Kurgan’s Russian ancestry was an easy sell in the movie because the evil Russian villain was already a part of our collective awareness. If the Kurgan was French, Belgian, British or Italian – it is doubtful that his character would resonate the same.

Let’s step back through the last 100 years of Russian infamy. Remember the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932 – the Stalin-led forced famine when Russians removed all the wheat from Ukraine resulting in the starvation of an estimated 8 million Ukrainians. That was followed up in the Second World War with the 1940 Katyn Forrest massacre. The Russians murdered 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia. The Russians celebrated victory over Hitler by raping the vanquished women and marching off millions of German soldiers to captivity – few returned. They also subjugated the countries of Eastern Europe to 45 years of servitude and sealed them off from the rest of the world. Over the next forty years, the USSR brutally squashed the Eastern European countries that expressed a desire for freedom. Recall the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the 1968 “Prague Spring” in Czechoslovakia. They also shot down commercial jetliners, provided haven for Red Brigade terrorists, terrorized the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis, started wars in Central America and Africa, invaded Afghanistan and outlawed free thinking and free press in all its spheres of influence. All of these actions shape Russia as the bad guy and permanently stamp Russia into our latitude of rejection and fear. After a lifetime of hearing about this ‘Evil Empire’ we accept it. Fear is a byproduct of this bad guy persona.

Lately in the news, when Vladimir Putin is blamed for poisoning Russians, killing local journalists and allowing Syrian President Assad to gas his population – we hardly take notice anymore – because that is expected of Russia. They are the Kurgan. I challenge you to find one movie that paints Russia in a friendly light. Subsequently, if there is a Boogie Man that keeps the United States up at nights, it’s Russia and its leadership. No other country’s leader acts with naked aggression while wielding the threat of nuclear holocaust and no other country is currently feared like Putin’s Russia.

While it is true the United States deploys more forces abroad than any other nation, most of the world does not expect to be thrust into servitude if we land upon their shores. We may travel over and conquer but we always depart after we’ve depleted our treasury rebuilding that which we destroyed while there. We are not conquerors that plant the flag. The Russians are the antithesis of the U.S. though. Once they’ve spent blood and treasure, they reap the benefits as the conquering victor. And from one perspective there is something to be said for that – but modernity comes with expectations. That is why we are all appalled with the Ukrainian invasion.

Russians as a people are harder than the West and distinctly less refined. I harken back to an interaction I had in the Balkans with a Russian soldier. While sitting in the back seat of a car with a Russian Special Ops soldier (Spetsnaz), I was taken aback by his ill-tempered disposition. His forearms were stone and his demeanor fierce. He evoked fear. He was all that I thought a Russian should be. So, as I sat next to him my fingers held tight the pistol in my coat. That was a function of fear – overflowing from all that encompassed my cognitive map of Russians. Fast forward to present day. In 2022 we cannot even process the horrors we see on TV as Russian forces terrorize a neighboring country of similar culture and history. The Russians are attacking with vehement aggression with no regard to civilian life. Perhaps they are acting out human instincts without the polishing of modern day civility and expectation. After all, in the words of General William Sherman, “War is cruelty and there is no refining it.”

Humans have always been a bit fearful of the black flag – meaning being fearful of those that are unbalanced in accordance with cultural norms and manners. Think Blackbeard the pirate and the menacing ruse he perpetrated during the heady days of piracy in America. Blackbeard won many engagements by notoriety alone. His fearsome reputation motivated many to surrender without a fight. He once terrorized the City of Charleston into surrendering a medicine chest under fear of bombardment. Fear is a strong emotion. Today Vladimir Putin plays this card better than all others. He simply publicizes that his nuclear forces have gone to DEFCON 1 and the U.S. and NATO stand down.

Russia in its name alone wields uncanny powers of persuasion as we see played out before us on TV now. The West has refined warfare to smart weaponry and expects the same of others – although these are means that are not prevalent in everyone’s arsenal. Smart weapons were initially showcased by General Norman Schwarzkopf in 1991. The Russians don’t seem to have many of these weapons yet. Subsequently, they must resort to indiscriminate bombing to destroy the target and all its surroundings.

In the words of Bodhi played by Patrick Swayze from the 1991 movie “Point Break”, “Fear causes hesitation and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”  The West fears Vladimir and those fears are coming to us in vivid color as we watch Ukraine burn.

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The Good Idea of America



In July of 1776, the American Congress approved the Declaration of the Independence of the 13 United States of America. One of the key figures behind the Declaration was Thomas Jefferson, whose writing in “Defense of Liberty and Rights of Man” was the intellectual force behind the Revolution. Jefferson distilled many of his ideas in the Declaration itself when he wrote the following familiar lines:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

Of course, these are the more famous words of the Declaration but there is another part that is equally important but less well knows. Jefferson goes on to say:

“…that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.”

On this July 4th celebration, as a Christian and an American, I would like to make a few comments about Jefferson’s ideas that echo as true today as they did over 200 years ago when he penned them.

1. Good ideas are powerful

Jefferson played a key role in the American Revolution because he was able to crystallize and express an idea that burned in the hearts of the people who had built this young nation. At the time, America was outgunned and outnumbered by the British, but it had a better idea for social progress than its old-world cousins, and that is what made the difference in the end.

The “idea” of America, where every person could pursue individual happiness in freedom with the actual support of its government was so superior to the stifling grip of feudal Europe that when the spirit of the Declaration was set loose, no political or social or military force could stop it.

The old maxim is true, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” In 1776 the idea of “freedom” and safety from one’s enemies and one’s own government permitting the pursuit of individual happiness, all enshrined in law, was an idea whose moment had come and over 200 years later we are still celebrating its arrival.

2. Good ideas produce good results

There have been a lot of powerful ideas that have affected the world in the last 200 years, but not all of them have had good results:

  • Friedrich Nietzsche produced the powerful idea that man should control his own destiny and the more powerful the man, the better the destiny. This idea was hijacked by the Nazis in Germany as they tried to build a super race and create a better destiny; WWII was the result.
  • Karl Marx had the great idea of a social utopia where there would be no rich or poor, where all could be equally shared and managed by a central government. This led to 75 years of Communist aggression and misery for untold millions.

So as you can see, not all-powerful ideas produce a good result. But the idea of a government elected by the people, and charged with protecting the safety and freedom of the people; the idea that individual life is sacred; the idea to develop laws to maintain and promote the social and moral fabric of a nation; the idea that the people have a legal right and duty to change a government so that it will preserve these basic freedoms and rights; these were good ideas and the proof is that despite the imperfect ways these ideas have been carried out, this nation still has the greatest wealth potential; has made the greatest progress; is the most desired location for immigration from other nations.

That America is the nation most envied for its wealth and success is due to the fact that it is based on a powerful and good idea.

3. Good ideas have a good source

Jefferson as well as most of the founding fathers of this nation were men who believed in God and knew their Bibles. Most of the key ideas in the Constitution that deal with the way man treats other men are based on Biblical concepts.

Recently the Human Genome Project that mapped out the 3.1 billion chemical letters that makeup human DNA discovered that the entire human race of 6 Billion people can be traced back to a founding population of some 60,000 people. In other words, there is very little genetic variation in the entire history of man. In still other words, this means that genetically speaking, all human beings throughout history have been and are pretty much the same.

How wonderful that 200 years later science has proven Jefferson’s words to be true: that all men are created equal. Not just theoretically but now scientifically so.

But what is truly wonderful is that Jefferson and the others had the wisdom to base their good ideas on God’s perfect ideas contained in the Bible.

In II Timothy 3:16, Paul the Apostle says:

Every Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

On this glorious day as we celebrate the ideological foundations of this country, we can also say that “Every Scripture is inspired by God and also profitable for building a great nation.”

I hope and I pray that as we go forward we will remember the good ideas that made the USA the country that it has become. I also hope and pray that in charting our future we will go to the source for great ideas, God’s Word, whenever we want to inspire us as a people; build us up as a country; protect our borders; renew us as a nation; point us in the direction that we need to go.

We love to say, “God bless America” but let us always remember that the Bible says

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. (Psalms 144:15)

America began with the great source idea that God was her Lord and she seeded her laws with His Word; America will remain great if she maintains those great ideas and renews her efforts to be the nation whose God is the Lord.

Mike Mazzalongo

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Commentary: Lipstick on a Pig



Before I begin my commentary, I have to clear up some confusion. I say, in my commentary that no one famous has stayed in the Afton Inn – now called “The Afton”. I was challenged by a critic who said, “King Edward VIII and his jaded American wife Mrs. Simpson stayed there to get away from Washington publicity following his abdication from the British throne.” Well, that should have made some records someplace, so I called the British Embassy. After explaining what a Front Royal is, I was eventually connected to one of their historians. Nope, no records of a romantic tryst on the banks of the Shenandoah.

Off to the Heritage Society. Great place! Incredibly nice, informed ladies (and Tony Carter) were very helpful. Here’s what we found: The nearby Weaver House – 35 North Royal was built by State Senator Aubrey Weaver, who used money from fees for securing Mrs. Simpson’s divorce in Baltimore. With family in the area, Shirley McClain and Warren Beatty played there during a visit at what was later the law offices of Pond, Pond, Athey & Athey, Napier, et al.

The Afton Inn, built circa 1866 (at least the brick part), was once named the Monte View Hotel, circa 1876. But by any name, due to a lack of supporting evidence my statement that nobody famous stayed at the Afton/Monte View holds. If you have proof otherwise, let me know, it would be a great addition to the Heritage Society.

Now, back to Commentary business.

The Afton in its porched heyday during the early days of the motorcar, one of which driven by someone apparently more used to steering a horse according to our Historical Research Department, took out that front porch assemblage. Below, ‘The Afton’ in bloom today.

On a recent jaunt down Main Street of our “beautiful town” (from the toxic waste site bordered by Stokes on one end and the famed “Historic Afton Inn” on the other) revealed beautiful indigenous flowers, painted by a local artist, covering the oh-so-familiar vacant windows of the Afton Inn. The developer, creeping along with little bitty steps of random construction (consisting mostly of moving one pile of debris to another), hired this artist to “beautify” a potential “Walking Dead” movie set.

One could write a book about the machinations of this historic rubble pile (deemed historic by decree, no one famous ever slept, died, or ate there; no Civil War entities, no space Aliens; as a matter of fact, the only famous person who has been in there was the famed The Tederick. The history of the place includes time as a “bawdy house,” a homeless shelter, and allegedly a crack joint. Mostly inhabited by rats, it has posed a threat to the Town Hall by collapsing in a shower of bricks.

The “who’s who” of who owned this mess ranges from the EDA, to the Town, to a Northern Virginia-based developer named Barros who became so enamored of our community he eventually threatened legal action against any Town or EDA official who attempted to contact him after the Town sued itself to derail his rather elaborate redevelopment plan, circa 2007-08, that would have left the restored Afton structure slightly taller than the courthouse across the street, apparently a local zoning no-no. I don’t know who really owned it before but let’s just say Jennifer McDonald’s magic EDA touch really started the ball rolling.

True, I have always recommended turning it into a tourist haunted house ride or bulldozing it and selling the bricks. We could advertise them as “historic magic bricks” and sell them at the Wine and Crafts Festival.

But kudos to the new owners for at least attempting to spruce the place up, and I wish them luck in their plans. Still, it’s akin to putting lipstick on a pig. All you get is a very weird-looking pig.

A pig without lipstick; below, pig with lipstick – weird looking pig

(Editor’s Note: Apologies to Mr. Schwartz, our resident staff satirist, for the delay in getting this commentary published in a timely manner, as it was temporarily lost between the lines of a crashed computer and distracted editorial staff. Oh, and informed of Mr. Schwartz’s research the “critic” claiming the Edward VIII and Ms. Simpson stay at the Afton, contacted us to point out the couple likely checked in under false names without alerting the British embassy of their “Helltown” hideout plan – a plan he assured us he had verified via Quija Board.)

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‘Right to Life’ – or Condemned to Death?



You have no idea of the detrimental results of the recent overturn of Roe vs Wade. There will be plenty of reports for you to read in medical journals, newspapers etc. such as:

The increase of infant mortality (already high compared with other industrialized countries).

The increase of women’s deaths due to complications because of a lack of adequate prenatal and post-delivery care of mothers and newborns.

The increase of deaths because of laws being passed where certain medical procedures are denied because of a lack of understanding of complications of pregnancies.

The decline of OB-GYN specialists will continue as laws prevent them from properly treating their patients, and malpractice insurance costs soar.
Women, once again, will be put in desperate situations that give them no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Some will survive but others will die of excessive bleeding or infection.

The majority of people today support birth control and women’s rights to choose. If you don’t, follow your religious beliefs, but do not force your beliefs on me or the majority of people of this nation.

If you want to protect the living, add mental health care with health insurance, increase psychiatric units for longer stays and incentives for people to enter this needed field – and pass real gun safety laws.

After these things are done, maybe you will have earned the right to say “I AM A RIGHT TO LIFE PERSON”.

Carol Poulson
Staunton, VA

(Editor’s note: Mrs. Poulson is a retired nurse, former Front Royal resident, and WCHS graduate.)

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The White House Plumbers (Watergate-50 Years Later)



Some of us are ancient enough to remember the Watergate burglary that brought down the President of the United States 50 years ago, June 17, 1972. The burglary became the ostensible reason for President Richard Nixon’s political downfall. Shortly after the burglary, Nixon’s handlers initiated a series of schemes to insulate the White House from responsibility for the bungled political espionage plot. No one knows if Nixon ordered the Watergate break-in or if he was aware of it beforehand – but we do know that he participated in covering it up or ‘containing’ information once it occurred.

In hindsight, the intelligence gathering mission against the Democrats wasn’t necessary at all and revealed that Nixon’s paranoia had gotten the best of him in the end. Nixon ended up winning the 1972 Presidential Election by a landslide margin against George McGovern. Unfortunately, this incident consumed his remaining time in office and ruined what till then had been a rather impressive presidential legacy. This tale is steeped in intrigue and has been portrayed in various movies and tons of books over the last 50 years. Allow me to provide a small Cliff Notes version for now. It all started with the White House “Plumbers”.

The White House Plumbers: Late in 1971, Attorney General John Mitchell and White House chief of staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman decided that J. Gordon Liddy should be given the green light to lead an espionage program against the Democrats at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Office Complex.

Gordon Liddy had a colorful past and was one of several men referred to as “the Plumbers” for their ability to “stop leaks” in the White House. Amongst White House staffers, these men were referred to by several names: The Plumbers, The Room 16 Project, and more officially, the White House Special Investigations Unit.

The Plumbers were a covert White House unit created to respond to the infamous leaking of the “Pentagon Papers” that revealed the secret U.S. expansion of the war in Vietnam. At the time, that was an enormous embarrassment and the resulting public outcry threatened to impede Nixon’s re-election. There is one thing that every first-term president wants and that is a second term. With that in mind, the Plumbers transitioned their efforts to assisting the Committee to Re-elect the President.

Gordon Liddy became general counsel on the Committee to Re-elect the President and worked with Campaign political-intelligence operations. John Ehrlichman, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and Special Investigations Unit gave the Okay for Liddy’s intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats during the 1972 election year.

During the pre-dawn hours of June 17, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard Baker and James McCord were apprehended by guards while installing electronic listening devices in the national Democratic Party campaign offices located in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Liddy controlled this operation from another location. A phone number found on the burglars led reporters to E. Howard Hunt, a man that worked for the White House. Soon tips started coming in to reporters within the Washington Post. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Post, was assigned the story. He was subsequently informed by a secret source that senior aides of President Nixon had directed these men to obtain information about Nixon’s political opponents. At this point, the story took on a life of its own with unimaginable consequences and intrigue. Woodward began working with a fellow Washington Post reporter, Carl Bernstein on the Watergate case. As time went by, their secret source became known as Deep Throat. But where pray tell did Deep Throat get his information? That piece of the puzzle was a secret that intrigued Washington for the next 30 years. The results of this steady supply of information mesmerized the nation while the U.S. was engrossed in getting out of Vietnam and in the wake of Nixon’s strategic overtures with Mao Tse-Tung’s Red China.

Deep Throat: Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward pursued the Watergate burglary story for two years – stoking the public’s thirst periodically with juicy information coming from within the White House – provided by their informant – Deep Throat. The continuous volume of damning information positively drove the President and his cabinet out of their minds. They could not figure out how the Washington Post was getting the information and accusations and finger pointing mounted.

Soon many of the President’s inner circle began turning on each other. One of them, White House counsel John Dean, fearful that he was being made a scapegoat – resigned. Soon after, he exchanged leniency for testimony against his former Nixon aides. By now, the country was in a frenzy with ongoing congressional investigations revealing wrongdoing and a cover up. As more and more evidence mounted, the scandal eventually implicated many members of Nixon’s White House, culminating in Nixon becoming the first United States president to resign.

Woodward and Bernstein wrote a book about the Watergate drama a few years later entitled, All the President’s Men. It was followed by a movie thriller with the same name starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein. In the book, they noted that key information in their investigation had come from an anonymous informant whom they dubbed “Deep Throat”. The transition of information from the informant to the reporters was rather elaborate and clandestine. Woodward and Deep Throat often met in secret at an underground garage at 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, VA at 2 a.m.

Today, a historical marker is at the location. Interestingly, Deep Throat’s identity remained secret for more than 30 years and was one of the biggest mysteries in American politics until 2003. Woodward and Bernstein insisted that they would not reveal his identity until he died or consented to reveal it. Alas on May 31, 2005, former FBI agent, Mark Felt revealed that he was Deep Throat in an article published in Vanity Fair magazine. Felt was a highly placed FBI agent and had access to all FBI investigative findings surrounding the Watergate drama. His disdain for the Nixon administration prompted his actions. Shortly after Felt’s confession, Woodward and Bernstein corroborated the fact and detailed their relationship with him in Woodward’s book, The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat.

The “Smoking Gun” – White House Tapes: President Nixon secretly recorded tapes of daily conversations and phone calls during his administration – presumably for posterity purposes. The tapes Nixon made of his White House meetings became a central element in the drama when their existence was leaked to the press. Investigators wanted access to them. The White House resisted. Later, the White House gave up some of them grudgingly but refused to release all of them. When one tape was found to have an 18 minute gap, the public immediately assumed the President was erasing key information about the Watergate burglary cover-up.

This prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to direct Nixon to turn over all of the tapes. The result was the discovery of the “smoking gun” long sought by prosecutors. One of the tapes revealed a conversation that occurred just a few days after the break-in in which Nixon discussed with H.R. Haldeman a plan to have the CIA tell the FBI to stay clear of the situation because it involved national security. It proved that Nixon himself was involved in the cover-up. With impeachment looming on the horizon, after being told by key Republican Congressmen they now supported that impeachment, Nixon resigned from office.

When the dust cleared: Watergate is usually considered shorthand for a story about five burglars caught in the midst of a covert operation to impact the outcome of the 1972 presidential election. Yet the reality of the case is obviously much larger than that.

First, the burglars went to jail. J Gordon Liddy — along with Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzales, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez, James McCord and Frank Sturgis – were all indicted in 1972 by a grand jury for involvement in the break-in at the DNC headquarters. In 1973, Liddy and former CIA employee James McCord, security director of the Committee to Re-elect the President, were found guilty of conspiracy, burglary and bugging the DNC headquarters. They went to jail. Next the President’s inner circle were found guilty.

The full scope of Watergate boggles our mind. By the time the scandal’s flames had finished consuming Richard Nixon’s administration, 69 people had been charged with crimes, including two of Nixon’s Cabinet secretaries, Attorney General John Mitchell and Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans. Nearly all pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial. The White House tapes implicated dozens of companies, from Goodyear to American Airlines for illegally financing Nixon’s reelection campaign. Nixon aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were subsequently convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice by other White House disclosures – largely from John Dean’s testimony. All of the aides served jail time as well.

The evidence that forced Nixon to resign — the famous “smoking gun” conversation — proved that Nixon tried to prevent the FBI from investigating the matter by lying about it. The tapes and subsequent testimonies from aides also revealed that Nixon approved giving hush money to Watergate conspirators. Simply put, that’s obstruction of justice. But how high White House involvement went in planning the break-in was never established. Given the scale and breadth of the crime and corruption that surrounded Nixon’s presidency, it’s all the more surprising that no one was ever charged with ordering the burglary of the DNC.

Today most of the key players in the Watergate drama have passed on but we do have a few that are still with us. Only John Dean survives from the Nixon inner circle, but both reporters, Woodward and Bernstein are still around. Meanwhile, you can be sure the Washington Post and the Watergate Hotel will take time out to commemorate the 50th anniversary Friday on June 17, 2022.

Now you know.

LanceLot Lynk

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Congress Needs New Leadership – Vote June 21



Congress has a 14 percent approval rating. Nearly everyone agrees that Congress needs new leadership, yet Americans keep reelecting incumbents. Virginia’s 6th district has been dominated by the same political machine since 1993. In that time, our district had just two Congressmen. The second Congressman, Ben Cline, was Chief of Staff to the previous Congressman. Rep. Cline has never faced a primary challenger. He was installed as his boss’s successor in a convention and without the input of voters. Ironically, Rep. Cline talks about wanting to drain the swamp. Well, I’m here to help him do that. I’m Merritt Hale and I’m running to bring new leadership to our 6th district. I’d like to tell you why I’m running for office and how my views and values differ from those of Rep. Cline.

I was born and raised in Virginia. I graduated from the University of Virginia and then served as a Naval Officer. I now work as a systems engineer supporting the intelligence community. What inspired me to run for office was my father. He was a 20-year Navy veteran who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014. After seven incredibly difficult and frustrating years, my dad passed away last Christmas Eve. While this was obviously a very hard time for my family, what made it even worse was dealing with all of the bureaucratic inefficacy surrounding the health care system, including the VA. You shouldn’t need a Ph.D. in government bureaucracy and tax codes to be able to take care of a dying loved one. One’s political affiliation doesn’t change the fact that we will all need end-of-life care at some point and that the current system is broken.

While Congress created these agencies, it continues to abdicate its duty to fix them. Congress’s lack of action on healthcare, elder care, veteran’s issues, and the devastating impact this had on our family, was what first inspired me to run for office. I then looked into what Congress was doing to help people in our 6th district. We need infrastructure to support agriculture and industry, we need funding for high-speed internet, and we need funding to maintain and expand I-81. We’ve all driven on I-81 and know that two lanes simply aren’t getting the job done. Virginia’s 6th district needs new representation focused on representing the needs of its constituents, which is why I’m running for office. There are two main staples of leadership I will bring to the office which aren’t currently being employed: proactive leadership and servant leadership.

Whether dealing with foreign policy issues or issues at home such as ballooning inflation impacting everything from gasoline to grocery costs, we need leaders that will proactively address issues before they become problems. Ben Cline is a reactionary politician who addresses every issue by blaming Biden, Pelosi, or the Squad. He blamed Biden for the invasion of Ukraine but espoused essentially the same solution as Biden before the invasion! Taking American deterrence off the table by guaranteeing no American response resulted in disastrous results. Ronald Reagan had a superior approach to peace through strength. Cline-Biden had it wrong with strategic weakness. Rep. Cline never addressed our need to be energy independent. Russia has leveraged its oil reserves, causing our petroleum prices to soar and inflation has skyrocketed, leaving our citizens to try to navigate an increasingly rocky economy. I addressed all of these issues prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I’m tired of reactionary politicians who do nothing but blame others, yet provide absolutely no solutions or leadership.

Rep. Cline has also flipped-flopped on Ukraine more times than I can count. Most recently he voted to send $40 billion of taxpayer money to Ukraine for a war that could have been prevented in the first place. His vote is all the more confusing because Rep. Cline often votes against programs that could help Americans at home. For example, he voted against the PAWs act which would cost $10 million over four years and provide service dogs to wounded veterans. I’ve personally seen how veterans aren’t receiving the care they deserve for protecting our country. I have friends who have died in service to this country, and I have people close to me who suffer from PTSD. While I believe we should help Ukraine to succeed against Russia, there are far more effective ways to do so than a $40 billion giveaway when Americans are struggling with high gas prices, inflation, and a baby formula shortage.

In addition to proactive leadership, we also need servant leadership. This means we need leaders who are willing to stand up for what they believe in and be transparent with their constituents. Rep. Cline has held just three in-person town hall since 2020. To date, he has refused to debate me. How can he stand up to the politicians in Washington if he refuses to debate opponents or face his own constituents?

When I’m elected, I will hold regular town halls, I will sincerely listen to the voices of my constituents, and I will be transparent and consistent in my goals for moving forward. If you’re going to hide behind the establishment and refuse to debate your opponent or interact with your constituents, it is clear that you’re not working for the people you represent, you’re in it for yourself. That’s not the type of leader our sixth district needs.

My background as a Navy veteran, a systems engineer, and a Washington outsider will bring a unique perspective to Congress and our country’s overall health. I encourage all registered voters in the 6th district to please go vote on June 21, because that’s the only way to effect change and get new leaders in office. Otherwise, we will be back with the status quo and the 14 percent approval ratings of a do-nothing Congress.

Merritt Hale
US Congress
VA 6th District Candidate


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Warren County Sheriff’s Office Community Advisory Council (CAC) is looking for new members and new leaders



The WCSO CAC was established in July 2020, as the Covid-19 virus was raging and everyone was trying to figure out how to deal with it, continue working, and persevere. The first meeting was just to get acquainted with all the applicants and to begin the process of nominating officers. We were all masked and we all abided by the social distancing protocols. It was comical but constructive nonetheless. We’ve come a very long since then.

The first official meeting was in August 2020 and during that meeting, the current chair and vice-chair were elected and the CAC got to work. The CAC officers were elected to 2-year terms. The role of the CAC is twofold. The members represent all the different areas of the county and the Town of Front Royal in bringing community concerns to the attention of the sheriff’s office, and they also receive updates on all the initiatives and operations of the WCSO on a bi-monthly basis. The CAC meetings are not a place for people to come and vent or register complaints (the WCSO has a very good process for that) but rather for the free exchange of information on issues and topics that are important to the community. The CAC meets on the third Thursday, every other month. The current secretary assumed that duty in early 2021 when the original secretary had to step down due to personal reasons.

I was fortunate and humbled to be elected as the first chair of the CAC and I have truly enjoyed the time and commitment. Getting the CAC going and organized has been rewarding and fun. Since its establishment two years ago the CAC has assisted the WCSO in applying for a grant to hire more deputies; endorsed its application for accreditation as a Certified Crime Prevention Community which, if approved, would make Warren County one of only 13 in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia with that certification (and enable the WCSO to apply for many more grants); and challenged the WCSO leadership when incidents demanded it. The WCSO has always been willing to share any relevant information with the CAC members, within legal guidelines, and has offered all the CAC members the opportunity to “ride-along” with deputies after proper coordination.

There is much work left to be done and I am excited about the future of the CAC, the WCSO, and Warren County in general. That’s why I am asking that the people of this beautiful community think about becoming members of the Community Advisory Council. We meet for two hours, once every two months. It’s not a large time commitment, but a very worthwhile and rewarding one. It’s a great way to give back to the community in a small but meaningful way. I’ve enjoyed my time as the chair immensely, but my term is just about to expire and it’s time for me to hand off the duty to a new chair. I intend to remain active on the CAC but as a member, not the chair. If there is one area I really would love to see improve, it is to grow the membership of the CAC from its current 13 members to at least 20.

The next meeting of the CAC is on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at 6 PM. We meet at the Warren County Public Safety Building in the meeting room. We hope to see you there. The CAC needs you.

Bruce Townshend
Chair, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Community Advisory Council

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