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Why I am concerned about the state of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office

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The information released about evidence known by the Commonwealth attorney’s office regarding Jennifer McDonald is concerning at best. If that office had information that Ms. McDonald was misusing funds over a year ago then a Special Grand Jury should have been immediately impaneled.

Ms. McDonald should have been immediately indicted and not allowed to walk the streets for over a year. Who knows what evidence has been lost or destroyed in that time? With this information, along with the botched prosecution some months ago of Ms. McDonald, the people have a right to ask if the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office is up to the job.

If not, they should step aside so that this investigation and prosecution can be handled properly from here going forward.

John Bell

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Democrats and Deception

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A Lake Frederick resident calls Democrats to task!

Cal Thomas wrote (March 13), “The Democrat party has shown a lack of will to tell the truth.…” He might as well have said, “The Atlantic Ocean is wet!”

When it comes to “…a lack of will to tell the truth…” Democrats, I have observed, offer a bumper-crop. To be fair, most politicians – both sides of the aisle – have falsified truth. But with today’s Democrats it’s become an art form.

A liberal might say the same about Republicans. We could spend weeks drawing up lists. With our combined lists we could build stair-steps to the moon. But let’s stop a moment and dwell upon an uncomfortable truth.

We are allowing this to happen, you and I. We allow deception, perversion, evasion, and outright disinformation. Why? Why do we lack the will to demand truth? Why don’t we hold our leaders accountable for their statements, for their actions? I’ll return to this. But first let’s examine some recent Democrat examples of deception (A lie by any other name would smell as foul, to paraphrase Shakespeare).

In their attempt to gather voters, the Democrats would have us believe what they claim about global warming, now climate change. But here is what they’d rather we not know on this topic. Recent tests (2017) of Antarctica’s buried ice have revealed (again) that during the Pleistocene era – all without the interference of humankind – our earth experienced numerous periods of global warming. It’s part of what our planet routinely does.

If they sought truth, Democrats could check the Geology 101 textbooks of their college years. They’d find that New York City (long before it was populated) was buried under thousands of feet of ice. Actually, there were five “ice ages.” Guess what? It melted! Thank global warming!

To round up yet more voters, Democrats routinely claim they’ll solve our nation’s social and economic problems. Yet, from 1931 until today, with 62-years of Democrat majority in both houses of Congress, have they fulfilled their promises? Ask children in Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland why they cannot achieve basic reading and math proficiency standards. Has Detroit gone bankrupt? Does Chicago have street killings? Let’s compare truth — supportable, factual truth – to Democrat deception.

Given a Democrat-controlled Congress for 62 of the past 85 years and given Democratic Party Presidents for 48 of those years, it ought to be easy to see the results of their leadership. Actually, it is easy. All we need to do is compare promises with results.

Let’s begin with education. Facts: In 2015, fully 73 percent of Detroit’s 8th grade students failed to achieve basic proficiency in math skills. Those same Detroit students performed at only 44 percent proficiency in reading. And Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland ought not boast about scores at 58, 51, and 48 indicating scarcely half of their students can read at proficient levels.

So, what have these academic scores to do with Democratic Party majority for more than six decades? It should be readily apparent. Failure. Failure of promises. Deficiency of leadership.

Let’s shift our focus to economics. Fact: Detroit was declared bankrupt on December 3, 2013 with its $18.5 billion debt. Fact: Illinois, according to valuewalk.com, “has $15 billion in unpaid bills, and has entered its fifth straight year without a budget. This has created a devastating situation for social programs within the state…. The prospect of an Illinois bankruptcy appears inevitable.” Fact: The Democratic party since 2004 holds the majority in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. No budget?

One final gut-wrencher. Crime. Fact: In 2016, Chicago suffered 751 killings by gunshot. This year to date 318 have similarly fallen and 1,821 have been shot in Chicago although the year is but half complete. Now recall the April 2015 Baltimore riots and the high crime rates of Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Education, economics, crime. Dismal failure. All this despite another fact: Per CNBC.com “Two-thirds of America’s 100 largest cities are controlled by Democratic Party mayors.”

And how does this relate to those 62 years of Democratic majorities? Consider these 2016 Presidential election results favoring Democrat candidates: Chicago (83%), Detroit (68%), Baltimore (84%), Philadelphia (82%), and Cleveland (75%). These voters are victims of embezzlement. Votes delivered. Promises unfulfilled.

Fact: There is an inverse correlation between Democrat promises and Democrat results.

Finally, do Democrats – while catering to yet another of its voter bases – tell us that Margaret Sanger cared not a whit about women’s reproductive rights when she spurred our nation’s abortion movement? She was a racist. A eugenicist. Her goal was the same as Hitler’s, but the target was black Americans! She’s succeeding. Check it. I did. And it’s grim!

So, why are we allowing this deception to continue? We have become complacent! We don’t energetically seek out facts. I do, and, if you so request, I will give you the sources for each of the facts I’ve cited here.

We do not demand fact-based reporting. We do not call to account those who glibly pile falsehood upon falsehood into our newspapers and onto our broadcast airwaves! We can do this. We can cancel newspaper subscriptions. We can switch-off television stations. These actions send warning signals to advertisers. As print media readership declines, ad revenues follow suit. The same is true for broadcast ad revenue.

We must daily, you and I, demand quality, objective journalism. We must identify falsehood and deception and hold accountable those who persist in such.

If we do not, soon, we will see Democrats continue their sleight-of-hand, our Supreme Court will have term limits, the electoral college will be dismantled, and we’ll be saluting a socialist flag.

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Facts and Politics

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Want to attempt something difficult? Try talking with your grandkids about facts and politics. Problem is, facts are not the most popular of ingredients in today’s dialogs (true for grandkids, true for adults). Yet I remain convinced that given facts my grandchildren are capable of a rational understanding of issues. It probably helps that the youngest of them is beyond high school age.

Before we examine facts, let’s agree to keep in mind such things as campaign promises, stated priorities, and party platforms.

Facts: Looking back from 2016 to 1931, the Democratic Party held the majority of both the House and the Senate for 62 years. During those same 85 years, the Republican Party-held the majority in both houses for 22 years. So, from the Hoover presidency to the Obama presidency Democrats controlled Congress more than two-thirds of that time span.

Given a Democrat-controlled Congress for 62 of the past 85 years and given Democratic Party Presidents for 48 of those years, it ought to be easy to see the results of their leadership. Actually, it is easy. All we need to do is compare promises with results.

Let’s begin with education.

Facts: In 2015, fully 73 percent of Detroit’s 8th grade students failed to achieve basic proficiency in math skills. Those same Detroit students performed at only 44 percent proficiency in reading. And Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland ought not boast about scores at 58, 51, and 48 indicating scarcely half of their students can read at proficient levels.

So, what have these academic scores to do with Democratic Party majority for more than six decades? It should be readily apparent. Failure. Failure of promises. Deficiency of leadership. And this despite another fact: Per CNBC.com “Two-thirds of America’s 100 largest cities are controlled by Democratic Party mayors. “Let’s shift our focus to economics.

Fact: Detroit was declared bankrupt on December 3, 2013, with its $18.5 billion debt.

Fact: Illinois, according to valuewalk.com, “has $15 billion in unpaid bills, and has entered its fifth straight year without a budget. This has created a devastating situation for social programs within the state…. The prospect of an Illinois bankruptcy appears inevitable.”

Fact: The Democratic party since 2004 holds the majority in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. No budget?

One final gut-wrencher. Crime.

Fact: In 2016, Chicago suffered 751 killings by gunshot. This year to date 318 have similarly fallen and 1,821 have been shot in Chicago although the year is but half complete. Now recall the April 2015 Baltimore riots and the high crime rates of Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Education, economics, crime. Dismal failure. And how does this relate to those 62 years of Democratic majorities?

Consider these 2016 Presidential election results favoring Democrat candidates:

  • Chicago (83%)
  • Detroit (68%)
  • Baltimore (84%>)
  • Philadelphia (82%)
  • Cleveland (75%)

These voters are victims of embezzlement. Votes delivered. Promises unfulfilled.

Fact: There is an inverse correlation between Democrat promises and Democrat results.

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Opinions are like shoes

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If Frank Tilton’s writings are anything, they are eclectic. Much like his life experiences. Much like his education. Much like the books he reads, the music he chooses, the ideas in his cranium.

Meet Frank Tilton.

Hence this column, as opinion pieces, reflect my own views. You are welcome to disagree. Still, keep this in mind. There is opinion and there is informed opinion. The distinction matters.

This is the page where you the reader find what the author wants you to know about himself. Typically, you’ll see Ph.D., Dissertation, a list of books and articles published, and a list of  emberships in professional organizations. Some of which they’ve actually attended within the past fifteen years. All this so you’ll know you really ought to read what they have to say. I don’t mean to belittle anyone here.

If they walk the walk of what they talk and talk, fine. They might be worth attending to. Some are. But, I, too, have Curriculum Vitae. And here they are (notice the plural):

  • grocery clerk (long before items were “scanned”)
  • chicken farm ranch hand (or was that chicken ranch farm hand?)
  • filling-station attendant (when window washing and a check of the oil was standard service)
  • gold mine dynamiter’s assistant
  • gold ore crusher operator
  • backwoods firewood splitter
  • rattlesnake exterminator (self-defense only)
  • telephone solicitor (lasted only one-day, detested it)
  • UPS route driver
  • typist for an Italian attorney (when keyboards were mechanical not electrical, and there was no spellcheck)
  • Air Force Morse radio operator
  • sports writer, sports editor, news writer, newspaper editor
  • Air Force historian (real books, some classified)
  • public affairs officer, USAF (24-year USAF career)
  • college instructor, English and Journalism
  • assistant professor teaching international officers
  • teacher, 9th grade English and middle school
  • German, 19 years
  • husband, father, grandfather …. whoa!
  • resident of California, Colorado, Montana, upstate New York, downstate Texas, Nebraska, Indiana, Virginia and a few other places such as Italy, Germany (both sides of the Iron Curtain), Libya (before Kaddafi), Egypt, Greenland, and oh my, the memory fades.
  • All right! I’ll fess up. Yes, I’ve also garnered one Bachelor’s degree in English, another in German, a Master of Science in radio-television, and state teaching certification for English, German, and Journalism, all at the secondary level.
  • And, no. I do not have a Ph.D. I needed some time in there for rattlesnake exterminating, firewood splitting, and those pesky little wads for the dynamiting.

Frank Tilton

Opinions are like shoes. Some shoes are stylish and colorful but aren’t die sort of footwear you’d want to walk a mile in. Others are of quality leather and crafted for support and comfort, and, yes, for walking far more than a mile. I could set this up as a quality vs. style dichotomy, but truth be told, both have their place and time. Stylish wins with formal attire; support and comfort win for day-to-day and distance.

So it is with opinion. Some gets by just fine in stand-alone mode, like stylish shoes. Some needs quality support to gain credibility. In my Preface I made the statement: There is opinion and there is informed opinion. I wasn’t just being loftily academic. There is a difference. And the distinction is important.

Consider this:
George says: Best car on the planet, that Chevy Camaro.
Phillip asks: Really? Have you ever driven one?
George says: Not yet. But that’s a really hot car!

Now consider this:
Al says: Best car on the planet, that Chevy Camaro.
Fritz asks: Really? Have you ever driven one?
Al says: This is my third one. Been driving these for 20 years. I’ve had over a 100,000 miles behind the wheel of each one. Terrific car!
Okay. No contest, right?
Al has given us an informed opinion. George not so much. So, if you apply this model to your listening and reading skills, you’ll have little trouble recognizing which opinion you find more credible. True with Camaros. True with politics. But not so true with soda pop.

Soda pop brings us to another variety of opinion – personal preference. Like die stylish shoes, personal preference has its time and its place. Your friend likes Coca Cola. You’d rather drink Pepsi. You can imagine the conversation, right? You and your friend could debate all day, but chances are at the grocer you’d both buy die product you prefer. It’s a matter of taste. Personal preference. But not always! It’s possible your beverage choice is based upon informed opinion. For example, if your concern is caffeine, you might choose either Coca Cola (39 mg) or Pepsi (38mg) over Mountain Dew (54mg). If sugar content is important to you, you’d likely select, Coca Cola (44g) or Pepsi (41g) over Mountain Dew (46g). A little more research might lead you to shop for a diet soda. The point remains; informed opinion is one thing, and personal preference is another.

With examples like Camaros and Colas it may seem of little importance to you, this matter of opinion whether informed or otherwise. Not so! In today’s world of misinformation, disinformation, media manipulation and downright skulduggery much is at stake. That’s why it is critical to recognize opinion in all of its forms. For a prime example of informed opinion, go to the article About those Democrats.

Any statement positing what is good, better, or best, (or any synonym of these) is opinion. Likewise, the word will. Will is future tense, and neither you nor I know factually what will happen tomorrow much less ten-minutes from now. Should, must, and ought are words of advice, hence opinion. Many adjectives – especially those ending with -able, -ible or -less – are opinion words.

Finally, let’s go back in history, to a time when folks could disagree with civility. A decade or so before or after the American Civil War, there was a British essayist by the name of John Stuart Mill. This fellow wrote a piece called On Liberty. He offered some advice I wish we’d heed these days. He wrote:

  • Opinions ought never to be suppressed.
  • There are three sorts of beliefs (opinions) that can be had—wholly false, partly true, and wholly true—all of which benefit the common good.
  • If an opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true.
  • Though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth.
  • Since the general or prevailing opinion on an)’ subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by die collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being  supplied.

Even if an opinion be true, it must be vigorously and earnestly contested (in the interest of it being accepted and understood) so as not to be lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect. (I have ever so slightly edited this last point to modernize it a bit without losing the intent.)

Today’s college and university campuses would surely benefit (yes, this is an opinion – mine) by returning to Mill’s recognition of the value of hearing-out opinions, even, or especially, those with which one might disagree. Such civil listening, however, is not much in evidence at this time.

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Warren County named after the greatest martyr of the American Revolution

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When Sondra and I moved to Warren County, I did not have a clue for whom the County was named. I asked dozens of folks if they could tell me; no one else knew either. So I did some research. It was named for, in my opinion, the greatest martyr of the American Revolution, Dr. Joseph Warren of Boston. So I began the job… maybe better, I went on a tare! I encouraged county leaders to elevate Joseph Warren’s memory to a place of honor in every citizens’ mind and heart.

Recently, a leaflet I wrote and produced that became a poster was placed in an exhibit in the Warren County Heritage Society Museum. The poster was my first PR piece which I put in front of leaders, boards… anybody who would listen. Things began to happen when folks learned who our county’s namesake was.

I am thrilled the County Supervisors approved that all County flags are lowered to half-mast on Dr. Warren’s birthday and remain lowered until his date of martyrdom, June 17. He died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Later this year, every county public school will have a specially designed historical plaque erected in it’s foyer. These have been funded by the Knight-Patty Fund through the encouragement of our local SAR chapter president. All civic buildings will erect plaques… the court house, hospital, library, and more.

There are 14 counties and cities throughout the United States named for this “Forgotten Founding Father.” Ours is one of these. Further, our Board of Education has directed that Joseph’s life story will be taught in history classes. I am so happy this young doctor and Major General, dead at age 34, is forgotten no more! Our thanks to you, Joseph, for your leadership and sacrifice to make US free. Abigail Adams said, “Our dear Joseph would have been our President!”

Pictured with me at the Museum is the chief archivist, Deborah Corey, wife of our SAR President, Dale Corey. She builds great educational exhibits and is instrumental in designing numbers of Revolutionary War exhibits at the museum, along with husband Dale! Thank you both, and thanks to the School Board and Board of Supervisors. Let us all cheer and give thanks for our Free America!

Larry Johnson
Front Royal, VA

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OPINION: Layton is effective, deserves support for Commonwealth’s Attorney bid

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I write today, to you and your readers, in support of Mr. Bryan Layton, Esquire, in his quest to be the next Commonwealth’s Attorney for the County of Warren, Virginia. I carefully weighed entering this contest myself, and after careful deliberate consideration of current affairs, I declined to run. Both Messers, Layton and Bell, are friends and colleagues of mine, and we have all dined and had adult beverages together, and if I am not mistaken, both have been to events at my home. I respect both Messers, Layton and Bell, but a choice must be made.

I have known Bryan since he moved to Warren County to work. He is an excellent attorney and does his job well. I have always found him to be honest, ethical, and able to fairly evaluate and value a case. He does not waste time on cases that should not have been brought, and zealously prosecutes those cases which are properly brought. He strives for justice. He is an effective and efficient prosecutor and works to protect the citizens of this county on a daily basis.

In the past several weeks, Mr. Bell called for a special grand jury to be impaneled, which was done but not because of Mr. Bell. Please let that be known. Mr. Bell and those around him who have tried to politicize this process, now seek to blame Mr. Madden and thus Mr. Layton for “not doing enough.” Such is absurd. Since December, the CA’s office had been in communication with the Judge to request a Special Grand Jury, which the press has not reported on. Such accusations are bogus and ill-informed, if not just ignorant. Those naysayers were not aware of the ongoing investigation because they are simply not privy to such information, nor should they have been. Certain court orders, which are available to the public, show that the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (hereinafter CA) was already working on developing a case along with the Virginia State Police. Mr. Bell and those should be familiar with § 52-8.1 and § 52-8.2 of the Code of Virginia.

The laws of this Commonwealth require that when certain people or organizations are to be investigated, there is a proper mechanism for doing so. Otherwise, you may end up with political witch hunts. In the instant matter, when the CA realized that local law enforcement was not providing him the whole story, he realized that an outside organization, namely the Virginia State Police (VSP), needed to be brought in to investigate the matter since the former Front Royal Police Department leadership (FRPD) was effectively obstructing him from learning information (remember the FRPD and the Warren County Sherriff’s Office (WCSO) are the investigative agencies for him to use), and since the Sheriff was possibly involved, the WCSO would be conflicted. Thus, the referral. The CA’s office in conjunction with the VSP then started their own investigation. See the public search warrants that have been unsealed.

Mr. Layton and Mr. Madden had already been addressing such matters, drafting relevant search warrants, subpoenas, affidavits in support of the search warrants and knew full well that a special grand jury would be required as early as late last summer/early fall of 2018. But folks, timing is everything. Calling for a special grand jury, before your investigation is even partially done, is putting the cart before the horse and frankly could jeopardize the entire investigation. Prudence rather than headlines is called for. And thankfully, Messers Madden and Layton displayed prudence and patience and were not seeking headlines. This due diligence allowed the VSP to conduct a significant part of its investigation to develop facts and background which can then be presented to a grand jury. That is how a case is developed.

The CA’s office was well aware that local media coverage could and would create undue influence over a potential jury due to premature disclosure of evidence or revelations regarding people that were or are the foci of the investigation.

We should all be very thankful of the discretion exercised by Messers Layton and Madden, in the discharge of their duties, and for not political grandstanding, as Mr. Bell is displaying now in his press releases and mailings which impugn the character of two good men.

On Thursday, April 25, 2019, the citizens of Warren County have the right to vote in the Republican Canvass (primary) at the Warren County Community Center (the old library) from 3 to 8 pm. I ask, if you are a registered voter, please attend (make sure to bring photo I.D.) and vote for Bryan Layton for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

David W. Silek, Attorney at Law
Front Royal, VA
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Opinion

Today is Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter

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Holy Saturday… the watch had begun. A Carpenter had been tried, convicted, executed and now entombed… the tomb sealed at the request of His enemies. Why the fear? They denied that He was the Christ, didn’t they? His followers had fled and were in hiding.

Evil hates and fears Goodness and Love… and followers of Christ’s Father are these! JESUS is Truth, Love, Goodness… the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. The evil ones hate all these things… Eternal Life they mock… and this we have. Our enemies do not grasp this. What they do not understand is Christ. All this is ours because we love… as Jesus teaches. Our love is not of this world. His enemies did not want to understand Him. They love the things of the world… lust, riches, status… they hated Him all the more because He promised none of these.

Those who follow Him will be feared and hated. But, we shall have no fear… He is with us! His love, shown through us, is evidence that He lives. The battle has been won! So my friends, we shall come before His altar in gladness, and we shall lift our voices in joy and thanksgiving! Jesus shall rise… He is risen! Amen.

Reverend Larry W. Johnson
Front Royal, VA

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