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Retired Marines support Walt Mabe for Supervisor



Dear editor,

A big reason that Tom Sayre doesn’t deserve reelection on November 5th is that the doesn’t back up with his “accomplishments” as a Front Royal Town Councilman for eight years (2006-2014) and a member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors for four years (2016-2019) with facts.

Are we expected to simply take him at his word without any back up? Isn’t this what got us into the EDA mess in the first place?

Mr. Sayre, you present no dates, times, and locations of actions — that you initiated — that would have prevented one of the biggest scandals in the history of Virginia from occurring. You simply makes claims.

We’ve had enough of the current Board of Supervisors lack of integrity, credibility, courage, and leadership! We are tired and angry. We want a clean sweep of all local government officials.

That includes Mr. Sayre. We no longer want to be the laughing stock of the state — or the nation!

Here’s an example of Mr. Sayre’s lack of credibility. It is based on his personal Facebook page entry dated October 8, 2019:”

  • Mr. Sayre state: “As a freshman supervisor [2016], the now notorious long-standing corruption related to the EDA broke-open and I played a big roll in exposing the rogue EDA director.” Then says, “I played a significant part in putting pressure on people to look at her actions and involve the Virginia State Police.”
  • Mr. Sayre, where are the details of this pressure you put on people? Where, when, and with whom did you meet? Where, when, and with whom did you make telephone calls? What actions did you initiate? Most importantly, what were the results? Mr. Sayre also states in his October 8th Facebook post, “I became aware of irregularities in the work force housing issue and held open meetings questioning Jennifer McDonald.”
  • Mr. Sayre, Where and when were the meetings held? Were the meetings advertised to the public?
  • How many constituents attended?
  • Were any media present?
  • The truth is these “open meetings” were never held according to all available evidence.

Here’s another example of Mr. Sayre’s lack of integrity and credibility:

It’s common knowledge that the first red flags that something was amiss with Jennifer McDonald and the EDA were raised in November 2016 — not by Mr. Sayre — but by Front Royal Councilwoman Bebhinn Egger. For months, after Bebhinn raised the red flags, Mr. Sayre and the Board of Supervisors did nothing of substance while the scandal spun out of control. Now, three years later, Mr. Sayre is shamelessly trying to take credit for what Bebhinn did. It’s a blatant and brazen misrepresentation of what really occurred.

Also, note that when Bebhinn voiced her concerns in November 2016, she was roundly mocked, derided, and belittled by fellow town council members. Why didn’t Mr. Sayre and Board of Supervisors — which appointed the EDA and had the ability to dismiss them at any time for any reason — come to her defense? Why were they so silent about the debacle?

The stonewalling was nothing but contempt for the truth and the people of Warren County.

Also, in a letter-to-the-editor in the Royal Examiner on October 14th, 2019, “I never claimed to have made a motion in open session to conduct a forensic audit. To do so before criminal charges are placed would have told the people who were subsequently arrested that we were on to them.”

Yet, six months earlier in an article in the Northern Virginia Daily dated April 11, 2019, journalist Josh Gulley wrote, “Sayre said he and supervisor Archie Fox wanted the board to approve a Virginia State Police investigation into the EDA in 2017 — but they were voted down in a closed session.”

Mr. Sayre, had this supposed motion been passed, wouldn’t it have had the same affect?  Wouldn’t it have “told the people who were subsequently arrested that we were on to them?”

Also, if the EDA irregularities were important for you and Archie Fox to want the Virginia State Police to investigate, why were you absolutely silent after this supposed vote went against you? A good leader would have held open public meetings, conducted press conferences, and written “open letters” to the media and government officials to express EDA concerns to the public. Mr. Sayre, you did none of these things.

In the same April 11th Northern Virginia Daily article, Paul Gabbert asked Mr. Sayre:

  • “You say you wanted a special investigation. Couldn’t you have gone further if you knew what was happening… Couldn’t you have gone further to the public?”
  • Sayre said: “I was doing what I could do” and “I was letting people know” but “it fell on deaf ears.”
  • Mr. Sayre, this is such a weak response. To whom did you speak? Who refused to listen? Most importantly, what did you do after your efforts “fell on deaf ears”?

Two final items on Mr. Sayre’s credibility and courage:

1. On October 25th, 2019 — just over a week ago — Mr. Sayre caved shamefully and voted with the other supervisors to use taxpayer’s money to fund defenses against the recently-filed removal petition — after pledging earlier in the month to pay for his own defense against charges of misfeasance and nonfeasance. How convenient again that the charges were dropped on a technicality and Mr. Sayre will not have to answer the question.

2. Why did Mr. Sayre refuse the invitation from Walt Mabe — his opponent in the current campaign for the Board of Supervisors — to debate the EDA scandal and other issues during the closing days of the campaign? The offer was mad by Mr. Mabe in an October 21st letter-to-the editor of the Royal Examiner. A real leader would have welcomed Mr. Mabe’s challenge. We believe the real reason Mr. Sayre ignored the challenge is that he doesn’t have a public record he can defend.

On November 5th, the voters of Warren County will have a chance to vote Mr. Sayre out of office — and begin the healing of our badly fractured county. Let’s give Walt Mabe a big win on November 5th.


Bill Hammack, retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, campaign manager for Walt Mabe
John Lundberg, retired U.S. Army colonel, assistant campaign manager for Walt Mabe

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’



Sometimes words remain appropriate, not only for the era in which they are spoken, but for multiple eras, and perhaps for the length of humanity’s struggle to overcome the worst aspects of our collective nature – greed, avarice, hypocrisy and the bondage of others to forward one’s own self interests – in other words, FOREVER.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of April 4, 1967 now known as the “Beyond Vietnam” speech are such words. They illustrate the depth of Dr. King’s comprehension that the Civil Rights Movement was a struggle of more than one race in one nation at one point in time.

These words, spoken exactly one year to the day before his assassination, are why some pause each January to remember and celebrate his life; while others are simply reminded of why he was, and continues to be hated by those attracted to power without compassion.

As the past three years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this first month of 2020 we might again ask ourselves if our ongoing borderless, worldwide war on terror isn’t at least in part, a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967?

And 53 years down the road from this speech as Central American Hispanic refugees fleeing chaos and anarchy in their own nations are increasingly lumped together with international terrorists and drug dealers for partisan political advantage, we must again ask ourselves one final question – how close to the “too late” moment Dr. King described in 1967 are we as a people and a nation today?

– Due to the speech’s length, some introductory comments and other details on the Vietnam era have been edited out – deletions are indicated by (…) and some points have been emphasized with bold highlights.

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photos/Public Domain)

Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘Beyond Vietnam’

I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” … The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one

…Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world … Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.

And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history … For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us …

“Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask?

And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live …

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program.

There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such …

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.

Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent …

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men – for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

… Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula … They must see Americans as strange liberators … We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops … Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness … They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?

… At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved … and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I speak as a child of God … I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit … and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about … Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution … It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them, is not just … America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood …

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice … It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.

Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind … When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality … This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God”

…We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace … and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world …

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

‘We’re not there yet’ – NAACP honors Dr. King’s memory with a call to continued commitment

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Commentary: Can’t we do better than this? – State of Emergency as armed protesters head for Richmond



As Royal Examiner and myriad news agencies across the Commonwealth and nation reported, on January 15 based on what is believed to be credible intelligence gathered by Virginia law enforcement agencies, Governor Ralph S. Northam declared a State of Emergency beginning Friday, January 17 (Lee-Jackson Day) and lasting till Tuesday, January 21, the day after an anticipated guns rights demonstration at the State Capitol Complex in Richmond on Monday, January 20 (Martin Luther King Day).

The Democratic Governor’s Executive Order # 49 creating the five-day State of Emergency prohibits all weapons, including firearms, from Capitol grounds, and will provide joint law enforcement and public safety agencies resources available to head off or react to any violence tied to planned demonstrations at the state capitol. The order coincides with previous General Assembly initiatives against certain weapons in the Virginia State Capitol area and Executive Order 50 (McAuliffe) prohibiting firearms in offices occupied by executive branch agencies.

“Credible intelligence gathered by Virginia’s law enforcement agencies indicates that tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square for events culminating on January 20, 2020. Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection,” Governor Northam wrote in Executive Order 49, adding, “Assuring that Virginia’s Capitol Square and surrounding public areas are sheltered safe places for those who come to participate in the democratic process, as well as those who work on or near Capitol Square, is my greatest priority.”

Overreaction – or not?
Is it State overreaction to citizens’ normal desire and right to express political dissent to proposed legislation they disagree with or prudent action to a credible threat from right-wing extremists? Reports of six arrests by the FBI in Maryland, Delaware and Georgia around the time of Governor Northam’s State of Emergency declaration may offer a clue.

Multiple news agencies including ABC, NPR and the BBC reported on January 16 that the FBI had arrested three men in Maryland and Delaware with ties to a neo-Nazi group known as “The Base”. The men were alleged to have been in possession of several weapons and over 1600 rounds of ammunition and had discussed travelling to Richmond for Monday’s demonstration.

An online report we first encountered at the WRIC Newsroom website indicated one of the men, Patrick J. Mathews, was a former reservist in the Canadian Army who was discharged over his ties to white supremacist groups. The criminal complaint indicated Mathews had recently entered the U.S. illegally and had been illegally armed by other men arrested in the FBI operation targeting The Base. Those arrested in Maryland or Delaware at the time of Mathews arrest were Brian M. Lemley, Jr. and William G. Bilbrough.

And on January 17, three more men tied to The Base were arrested by the FBI in Georgia. According to the BBC report they were charged with attempted murder and participation in a criminal organization: “Luke Austin Lane, Michael Helterbrand, and Jacob Kaderli were planning to ‘overthrow the government and murder a Bartow County couple’ who they believed to be Antifa members, Floyd County (Georgia) police said in a statement.”

That BBC report linked Canadian Mathews to the Georgia group and the targeted killing, stating, “The gang member, presumed to be Mr. Matthews, is said to have called for the ‘death penalty’ against anyone engaged in anti-fascist activities. It was not known if the three men arrested in Georgia were planning to attend the gun-rights rally in Richmond. The group was involved in the gang’s paramilitary training camp located at a home (in) Silver Creek, Georgia, police said.

“According to arrest affidavits, The Base is a racially motivated violent extremist group that sought to ‘accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state,’” the BBC reported.

The shadow of the neo-fascist, white supremacist Charlottesville demonstrations and anti-fascist counter-demonstrations that resulted in three deaths, one anti-fascist demonstrator run down by a self-proclaimed neo-fascist who plowed into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators and two state policemen who died in a helicopter crash monitoring the situation on the ground in Charlottesville, appeared to play heavily in Northam’s decision.

“Three years ago, Virginia and the nation, watched horrified as civil protest was marred by violence and hate. The events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrated what can happen when peaceful demonstrations are hijacked by those who come into the Commonwealth and do not value the importance of peaceful assembly. We lost three Virginians. We must take all precautions to prevent that from ever happening again,” Virginia’s Democratic governor wrote in his executive order, continuing, “The anticipated effects of the potential convergence of tens of thousands of demonstrators on Capitol Square, some of whom may not come to assemble peacefully, constitutes an emergency as described in § 44-146.16 of the Code of Virginia (Code).

The call for large numbers of guns rights advocates to gather, perhaps across state and even international lines, at the State Capitol in downtown Richmond on Monday appears to be, at least in part, a culmination of the so-called “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” movement that has circled Virginia in recent weeks and months. That effort led a large number of politically conservative municipalities, including Warren County, to designate themselves sanctuaries against pending gun control legislation being brought forward by the first Democratic majority in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly since 1996.

Second Amendment advocate speakers waive a ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag during Dec. 10 Public Hearing on the ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary Resolution. The Resolution passed unanimously in front of well over 1,000 citizens, for the most part supporters of that resolution. This and following photos do not suggest anyone pictured plans to be in Richmond armed or otherwise, they are just the only 2nd Amendment debate related photos we have. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

As previously reported in Royal Examiner, among legislation being forwarded for consideration by Virginia’s new Democratic legislative majority are House and Senate Bills that include mandatory background checks for firearms purchases, red flag laws, expanded age restrictions on youth gun use unsupervised by adults, requirements to report stolen or lost firearms within 24 hours, and an expansion of the definition of “illegal assault weapon”.

County resolves – what?
The 2nd Amendment Sanctuary initiative propelled forward by these pending gun control bills was introduced to the Warren County Board of Supervisors on November 19. Less than a month later at a December 10 Special Meeting held at Warren County High School to accommodate a crowd spilling out of the school’s 1,024-seat auditorium, in its final meeting a majority lame duck County Board of Supervisors did unanimously resolve that Warren County is a sanctuary against what some see as obtrusive gun control laws. But the remaining question is, if not the Virginia State Legislature or State Supreme Court, who defines “obtrusive” or “unconstitutional” – the county board of supervisors; the sheriff; or citizens, some perhaps with a vested interest in not having their backgrounds checked or red flags waived at those backgrounds?

The pro-2nd Amendment Sanctuary Resolution crowd was hostile to the first opposition speaker, but listened quietly to several others after being chastised for rudeness by one of their own.

With such questions still looming, newly elected County Board Chairman Walter Mabe and newly-elected Sheriff Mark Butler expressed some skepticism to a January 7 citizen request that Warren County expand its 2nd Amendment stance to include formation of an armed citizen militia to assist local law enforcement in large-scale emergency or mass casualty situations.

While there is no known evidence linking local guns rights advocates to violent extremist groups like The Base, the danger of legitimate 2nd Amendment advocates having their movement infiltrated or co-opted by agents of more militant extremist groups expressing sympathy for their cause will persist. Such political dynamics are ripe when measured give-and-take political dialogue takes a back seat to in-transient partisan ideological rhetoric.

And what is troublesome in today’s political landscape, not only in Virginia, but across the nation is an increasing resistance to political discourse and procedures that are open to a bipartisan search for the truth and grounds for political compromise for a common good, rather than a partisan political one. This seems particularly true, not only in the gun rights versus legislative initiatives to stem gun violence and mass shooting causalities debate, but also surrounding presidential behavior and alleged Constitutional misconduct as the possibility or impossibility of an impartial, factually-based U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump dominates the national political landscape.

Some political scientists and historians have said U.S. politics is currently at its most divisive level since the 1850’s lead up to the American Civil War. Governor Northam acknowledged the damaging effect of the breakdown of civil political discourse in calling the State of Emergency in anticipation of thousands of potentially armed, anti-government demonstrators being poised to descend on Richmond in coming days.

“Virginians understand that diversity of opinion keeps our democracy strong. The more voices involved in our political dialogue, the stronger we are. Civil discourse, even and especially, amongst those who disagree, is critical to our democracy’s evolution and success. When the civility of that political discourse breaks down, the Commonwealth suffers,” Northam wrote in opening his Executive Order 49 State of Emergency declaration.

Let’s listen to each other – two sisters described the positives of firearms training and competitive use on them and their family’s life.

Hope or conflict?
A recent email from a reader critical of Royal Examiner’s content as being “Liberal Propaganda” seemed to initially reflect this breakdown in civil political discourse. In that first message the reader appeared to illustrate some knowledge of the coming Richmond demonstration and perhaps anticipated consequences with the observation, “The Liberal Left VA Government will soon find the Power of the People … (expletive deleted) newspapers like this will soon be a thing of the past.”

OUCH – does it really have to be a survival of the most heavily armed or can we continue to dialogue about our differing political and philosophical perspectives in the hope of a mutually acceptable resolution? We decided to try and find out.

After that initial email aligning us with liberal messaging but not citing any examples, we reached out to inquire which articles had aroused the reader’s ire. The reply cited “Liberal VA State Government Articles” emanating from the offices of Democratic officials including Governor Northam and U.S. Senator Mark Warner, rather than any original Royal Examiner content.

“It appears that the RE has an infatuation with these folks and always are publishing articles about how much they are doing for the state but nothing is written about the DAMAGE they are doing and the great divide they are causing,” our estranged reader replied in a more measured response to our inquiry.

However as we replied, we hope a search of our State Government news category page will illustrate that we publish press releases from both Democratic and Republican state and federal politicians in balance. And this writer feels fairly confident that our Publisher Mike McCool would not allow that state political content to be slanted toward a liberal bias, much less the progressive one this writer might put forward on occasion. And if there just happen to be more Democratic officials in major electoral offices like governor, attorney general and both of Virginia’s U.S. Senate seats at this point in time, I would contend that is on a majority of Virginia’s voters, more than it is on Royal Examiner.

Will that satisfy our critic and bring them back to occasional forays onto our website to keep up with the goings on in Front Royal and Warren County? Perhaps, perhaps not – but at least we are communicating about our various perspectives. In fact, as our email dialogue continued to include our planned commentary on the Richmond situation and governor’s reaction to the intelligence about it, our reader included this thought in a response: “By the way, my hope is for Nothing but Peace and our Rights as American Citizens to stay as written in the US Constitution.”

So, perhaps there is hope, not just for us and our estranged reader, but for Virginia and the nation as a whole.

Why not talk and seek movement toward mutually acceptable resolutions beneficial to the most Virginians, and most Americans on issues that ultimately impact us all?

Because if we can’t have those discussions where all are willing to listen with an open mind to ideas other than their own, we are likely to continue living in an escalating State of Emergency as we witness the continued decline of civil political discourse into increasingly aggressive and “eyes wide shut” partisan factionalism amidst a world of “alternate facts” (also known as lies) and the potential of armed confrontations between sides such as that Virginia’s governor and law enforcement officials fear was, or may be, on the horizon for Richmond in coming days.

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New Special Grand Jury needed



With the announcement of charges against Mr. Poe being dropped by the new Prosecutor, the lack and complete absence of any further indictments by either the Special Grand Jury or the Federal Grand Jury, and the growing rumors of a plea agreement for Ms. McDonald, it is apparent that the judicial/law enforcement system has broken down.

Investigations are noteworthy in the complete lack of focus. Investigators have yet to talk to Mr. Egger who could provide a treasure trove of information. They haven’t interviewed any of the Supervisors, any of the EDA Board members and may not have even interrogated Jennifer! Her Attorney has tried to contact the VSP to set up an interview but they have not returned his call.

The new Prosecutor has already complained that he can not focus on the charges. The understaffed VSP has been overwhelmed with information provided by the Feds when they dropped out of participating in the Grand Jury. Several heroic citizens have done a remarkable job in uncovering evidence and providing it to Law Enforcement. But, is that really their job?

We need a Special out of County Prosecutor focused only on this outrageous crime. The Special Grand Jury has turned out to be infected with personal relations and incredibly strong bogus charges (misfeasance of the Supervisors) that cost citizens more money in paying for the defense of the Supervisors (against patently bogus charges).

We need a completely new Special Grand Jury. Held out of County, made up of non-Warren County residents eliminating any hint of conflict of interest.

We need a dedicated Virginia State Police Task Force that focuses on this County and this investigation.

True, the Prosecutor and Law Enforcement have other crimes and issues (training, travel, etc.) that precludes their full time efforts. They have highly qualified Special Agents trained in investigative accounting.

What do we need to do to get these programs? Let your Governor know, let the Attorney General know.

Fred Schwartz
Warren County

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Missile Attacks



historically speaking

If anyone was hoping for a calmer more peaceful decade, then surely by now they are disappointed. With just a few days into 2020, the major news story already is a drone strike and death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Instantly political sides were drawn as Trump supporters praised the president’s actions as a strike against terrorism and protection for American lives. Trump detractors criticized the decision as dangerous. Presidential contenders have all denounced the president, calling him basically a war monger and a murderer. As always, I am not here to comment on the president’s decision. There is enough of that already. But historically speaking, the president’s actions are far from new. We have seen presidents strike Middle Eastern targets as far back as there have been Middle Eastern issues. You can claim he had ulterior motives, the same as previous presidents, but you can’t claim his attack is out of the ordinary.

Though most modern presidents have used missile strikes, I want to focus on two, President Clinton and President Reagan, both of whom made similar decisions. When Reagan took over in 1981, one of the principal “bad guys” was Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Similar to Iran today, Libya in the 1970s and 1980s was a principal supporter of terrorism. They were outspokenly anti-Israel and supported terrorist groups in Palestine and Syria. Like Iran, they were also actively trying to start a nuclear program.

The 1980s saw an uptick in Islamic terrorism when 239 marines were killed in a bombing in Lebanon in 1983. 1985 saw bombings in Vienna and Rome airports, the high-jacking of a TWA plane and an Italian cruise ship, both with American deaths. Finally, in 1986 American service men were killed and injured in a disco bombing in Berlin. Libya had ties to them all. After the disco bombing, Reagan ordered Operation El Dorado Canyon, which were air strikes against Libya hoping to kill Gaddafi. Unfortunately, Gaddafi was warned of the strikes and escaped before the bombs fell on his compound, sparing his life. The bombing did very little to curtail Libya’s support of terrorism as they continued throughout the 1980s. The United Nations condemned the attack, but Americans overwhelmingly supported Reagan’s actions, strengthening his popularity.

Two presidents later President Clinton launched his own Middle Eastern attacks. The first time was in June of 1993 when Clinton hit sites in Iraq. Supposedly the attack was in response to an assassination attempt against former President H.W. Bush while he was visiting Kuwait. Saddam Hussein was seen as a leading sponsor of terrorism and, like Iran, was supporting terrorism around the globe. The missiles hit the building where the assassination was planned but did little to curtail Saddam Hussein’s support of terrorism. The show of force did help Clinton’s poll numbers, which had dropped in recent months.

Clinton’s second strike came in August of 1999 and targeted a then little-known terrorist origination known as Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had recently attacked American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Clinton’s response was a missile attack against Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The attacks killed 24 but missed Osama bin Laden. This attack has more in common with Trump’s recent attack as it was seen more skeptically. Clinton was in the midst of his own impeachment issues and many saw it as an attempt to divert the nation’s attention. The catch phrase of the day was “the tail wagging the dog.” Clinton had taken a hit with the Black Hawk Down incident and was hoping this show of force would help his image. In the end the attacks on Al Qaeda did little to stop their growth as we all found out on 9/11.

Trump’s latest missile attack has some differences and some similarities. Iran is a supporter of terrorism, both in Iraq and Syria, and Soleimani was behind much of the violence. As with Reagan and Clinton, Soleimani and Iran can be tied to several key attacks. Last May they supported the terrorist group that attacked Saudi oil fields. In June two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman and a U.S. Navy drone was shot down. In July they captured a British oil tanker. In September they once again supported a terrorist group that attacked Saudi oil fields. In December rockets killed U.S. service men in Kirkuk. Finally, in December they attacked the American embassy in Iraq. Also, all the while, they continued to work towards nuclear weapons. Yes, during the escalation the president and Iran carried on a verbal battle which seemed childish considering the consequences, but the list of terrorist activities is not unlike the list from Libya or Iraq.

The key difference between all these attacks seems to be that Trump was the only one to hit his target. Another difference is that outside of the bin Laden attack, the other attacks occurred in the target’s own nation. Soleimani was not in Iran, but Iraq. What we cannot know is the retaliation. Libya, Iraq, and Al Qaeda all vowed retaliation for the bombing. None of the previous presidents stopped the terrorists and we did see more mass destruction, though we can never know if attacks were a response or would have been carried out anyway. Iran did launch missiles at American bases in Iraq, but there were no casualties. Maybe that will be enough for the Iranians to save face. Only time will tell. They do not want to look weak, but are they willing to escalate?

The other major difference is the American response to the attacks. Clinton took some flack, but most of the attacks by American presidents, including Bush and Obama, have been met with positive reviews. Obama was even praised by both parties for taking out Bin Laden. With Trump, as expected, the attacks have come swiftly and brutally. All the major candidates trying to secure the Democratic ticket have condemned Trump. Historically speaking, maybe what Trump has done is no different from past presidents. Maybe it’s we who are different and more cynical.

Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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A Christmas poem for our troops


























Written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan

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2019 Silent Ideas



How do college students mentally “wrestle with a wide range of ideas” when they prevent those ideas from being expressed? This is not a rhetorical question. It is spawned by remarks made by a dean of a prestigious American college.

That dean stated, “education requires them (students) to wrestle with a wide range of ideas which sometimes means engaging speakers with controversial messages, and sometimes, it means making use of their own free speech to combat objectionable ideas.”

This dean — Michele Murray, dean of students at Holy Cross – failed at both logic and leadership with this one statement. Why?

How can students wrestle with a wide range of ideas if they refuse to hear those ideas? One can neither agree nor disagree with that which one has not heard.

Dean Murray says her students were “making use of their own free speech to combat objectionable ideas.” But the students had not heard the “objectionable ideas” when they, in a premeditated action BEFORE THE LECTURE, blocked many others who wanted to listen to the talk by filling up the venue’s seats. This, the Dean fails to notice, is not a response!

No, this was no “unruly student protest” during a talk at College of the Holy Cross. It was premeditated, planned, and executed with chants of “my oppression is not a delusion” and “your racism is not welcome.” The target of this action was Conservative scholar Heather Mac Donald, an American political commentator, essayist, and attorney. She is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.

But the students knew all this beforehand. So did Dean Murray.

And the college? College of the Holy Cross is a highly respected college of Jesuit Catholic tradition in Worcester, Mass.

Two of my neighbors are Holy Cross alumni. They are among the smartest people I know. And yet?

Wouldn’t we expect such deny-first-amendment antics from Stanford or U. Cal Berkeley? Anti-intellectualism seems to be contagious! Perhaps Dean Murray might wish a transfer.

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