California

Theives Buy Pot In California With Senator Saslaw's Stolen Credit Card Number

Rosalind Helderman just reported on The Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) had his American Express Card number stolen and that it was used in California to buy, of all things, $225 worth of medical marijuana! The senator told Helderman it appears as if the number was lifted during a visit to a Northern Virginia restaurant because two unnamed N.Va. legislators also were victimized.  The identity theft came to Senator Saslaw's attention in March and he quickly notified the Virginia State Police who, in turn, notified the California Highway Patrol. However, the two suspected thieves are still on the loose, and believed to be in the Sacramento area. Not only did they buy the pot, they've actively tried to get new credit cards in the senator's name. 

The story came to light after Senator Saslaw gave an interview, at the request of California authorities, to a Sacramento radio station yesterday. The rest of the Golden State media picked up on it (ABC News10) and since then the alarms have gone off at national media outlets, including Fox News. Probably not the way the senator wished to gain notoriety, and we sympathize with him and the other two victimized lawmakers. Identity theft not only is an unpleasant experience, it can be ruinous to your life if not detected in time.

While the fact that marijuana was purchased with a high-ranking elected official's stolen credit card number may sound humorous to some, the suspects probably had a practical purpose in mind. It is California after all. Not only is life a little loose out there, but with its economy in its own depression, perhaps we'll learn this was just an exercise in creative commerce — rather than medical or even "recreational" use, we suspect the the thieves will try to flip the pot on the street. Criminals need to eat, too, during tough times, and smoking the weed will only make them hungrier.

Urge Governor McDonnell To Ban Funding For Planned Parenthood, Taxpayer Funded Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Governor Bob McDonnell currently is reviewing the state budget passed by the General Assembly during its recent session. He has the opportunity to send amendments to the General Assembly to bring the budget in line with his goals, objectives and values. In doing so, he can send to the legislature budget amendments that defund Planned Parenthood, elective abortions and failed embryonic stem cell research. The legislature, in turn, will vote on any amendments Governor McDonnell sends it during its veto session on Wednesday, April 21. In today’s financial climate, it is even more essential that these publicly unsupported expenditures causing the destruction of human life not be financially backed by a fiscally failing government. If financial support is to be handed out from Richmond for anything, there are numerous life supporting and worthy causes that come to mind that deserve and truly need support. Here's some background on the budget language that we hope Governor McDonnell sends the General Assembly:

Banning Planned Parenthood Funding: This amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of the radical pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood. In its last fiscal report, Planned Parenthood Federation of America reported a budget of more than $1 billion. During this decade, Virginia taxpayers have sent nearly $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, one of the most politically partisan organizations in our nation. They do not need your hard-earned tax dollars. By the way, Planned Parenthood is responsible for nearly a quarter of the abortions that take place in our nation.

Banning Funding for Elective Abortions: Incredibly in 2006 and 2007, Virginia tax dollars directly funded 322 elective abortions. The federal government requires states to subsidize abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman’s life is at risk or in the cases of rape and incest. In Virginia, we fund elective low-income abortions — a standard beyond what is required by the federal government. Regardless of their position on abortion, a vast majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

Banning Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Let’s be honest, embryonic stem cell research has failed, while adult stem cell research has produced dozens of treatments and cures. Virginia has a clear choice: fund what works or fund failed research to make a political point. According to a recent article in Investor's Business Daily, California, the most severely racked state in the nation, has learned some difficult lessons:

Five years after a budget-busting $3 billion was allocated to embryonic stem cell research, there have been no cures, no therapies and little progress. So supporters are embracing research they once opposed (adult stem cell research).

With all this in mind, we need your action to redirect Virginia in a positive direction on these important public policy issues. They are so important, in fact, that Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham asked candidate McDonnell about them in October on her nationally syndicated radio talk show. He promised then to ban funding for Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funded elective abortions. (Planned Parenthood even attacked him for the pledge.) Hear his pledge for yourself, right here:

 

Now, please contact Governor McDonnell immediately and urge him to keep his word and send the General Assembly budget amendments prohibiting taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and elective abortions, as ewll as embryonic stem cell research.

Contact him by phone at 804-786-2211 or click here to e-mail him.

California Court Upholds Marriage Amendment

STATEMENT BY VICTORIA COBB, PRESIDENT OF THE FAMILY FOUNDATION OF VIRGINIA, CONCERNING TODAY'S CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT DECISION REGARDING MARRIAGE

It is always a relief, and usually a surprise, when courts do the right thing, but it is never a sure thing. The California Supreme Court today simply upheld the important right of the citizens to recognize the traditional definition of marriage, and the sanctity of the vote. It is ironic, however, that those who claim "every vote counts" are today decrying a decision that validates the voters of California.

The people of Virginia in 2006 voted overwhelmingly to protect the definition of marriage. Like California, our laws protecting marriage were at the mercy of the courts until Virginians were given the opportunity to amend the state Constitution to define marriage. Because of that vote a handful of judges should not be able to toss aside thousands of years of human history and the evidence of social science that marriage between one man and one woman is best for society, families and children.

Regardless of the unpredictability of the courts, the law in Virginia is perfectly clear — we recognize that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that children deserve both a mom and a dad. Because of that, our children can rest easier.

Following The Leader Off The Cliff

It's beyond lame, now . . . the automatic, reflexive response by Virginia's liberals that not only do we need more taxes but that we can afford them. Regarding the former, it's that the "government doesn't have enough money," as if the people it is sucking it from does. That's the problem we're facing now, right? People have less money. Too bad. Government elites want whatever it is you have left. Regarding the latter, whether it's Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) pitching higher gas taxes or now Governor Tim Kaine pleading  for higher unemployment insurance taxes on businesses, it's always something about Virginia's taxes aren't as high as a neighboring state's or the national average or states that begin with letters never chosen in the final round on Wheel of Fortune, therefore we can afford them. As if the fact that Virginia may happen to have a particular tax lower than North Carolina, Maryland or Utah makes a difference as to whether it's justifiable on the merits to raise it .

The latest in this nonsense is the aforementioned tax on businesses that funds unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Last week, during its veto session, the General Assembly rejected the governor's attempt to accept federal "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance payments. The main argument against accepting the money was that, after the two year federal funding period, Virginia would have been obligated to continue the expenditures at a level necessitating a large tax increase on the people that create the jobs to begin with — businesses, including small businesses (often family owned) which create most jobs.

According to Governor Kaine, as reported in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia employers pays the second lowest annual amount of unemployment taxes in the nation." By that logic, let's raise every tax in Virginia in which we are in the bottom 10 percentile. Or 20 percentile . . . or heck, make it the 50 percentile. Don't want to feel too fortunate, here, do we?

In effect, they're saying let's give up our advantage in order to tax more people because other states are doing it. But isn't the idea to create an economic environment to recruit new business to Virginia and to encourage start-ups? But these liberals are saying, "We're not taxing our residents enough. If other states can do it, so can we!" Worse, they believe it!

Turns out though, Virginia isn't such a low tax state after all, the perception perhaps perpetuated as a ready excuse to raise taxes (we're under taxed, so ante up more). According to Scott Hodge of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Virginia's overall tax burden is one of the nation's worst, rivaling notoriously high-taxing New York, New Jersey, California and, even, "Taxachussetts." (So much for our low-tax advantage.) Hodges spoke recently on Freedom & Prosperity Radio and you can hear the interview here with other interesting statistics.

Either way — whether they believe there is "room" to raise taxes compared to other states or they selectively pick and choose taxes that are lower here by comparison in order to raise a sense that an increase won't hurt — Virginia's tax-and-spenders insist on following other states rather than leading. Never mind that it's following them right off the economic cliff.

Pastors Energized To Make A Difference After This Week's "Watchmen on the Wall" Conference

Nearly 250 pastors and church leaders earlier this week joined together in Williamsburg at a "Watchmen on the Wall" conference co-sponsored by the Family Research Council and The Family Foundation of Virginia. The attendees were urged to speak out on important issues of the day and to encourage their members to take their civic responsibilities seriously.This year The Family Research Council is hosting several "Watchmen on the Wall" pastor conferences across the nation, including in Washington, D.C.; California, Arizona and New Hampshire. To date, nearly 2,000 pastors have joined together and hundreds of others have joined The Family Research Council's pastors' effort. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told the crowd, "Your leadership is absolutely fundamental and essential to this nation. My hope for America is not bailing out Wall Street. My hope for America is not in education. My hope for America is not in our strong military. My hope for America is Jesus Christ."

Former U.S. Representative Bob McEwen (R-Ohio) encouraged pastors to make sure people in their congregations are registered to vote. He said, "There are fifty million self-identified evangelicals in the United States. That's fifty million votes. Fifty million votes wins everything." Statistics indicate that at least half of self-identified evangelicals are not registered to vote. Dozens of churches in Virginia have been holding voter registration drives and will continue to do so up until the registration deadline (click here to see how to get involved).

Pastors also were educated by Alliance Defense Fundsenior counsel Jordan Lorence about their legal rights concerning speaking about issues, educating their congregations and providing election materials. Lorence has argued numerous times before the United States Supreme Court. 

The audience also heard from Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown) and Attorney General Bob McDonnell. 

The Family Foundation, along with its pastor outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, co-hosted the event. Pastors For Family Values provides support for pastors who speak on cultural issues and provide civil leadership. Pastors For Family Values formed in 2007 after Virginians in 2006 overwhelmingly voted to pass a Constitutional amendment defining marriage — as an outgrowth of pastoral involvement in that effort, several pastors of various denominations and ethnicities approached The Family Foundation with the concept of forming a pastors group.

It is absolutely essential for church leaders to take the lead and speak out on the values issues that shape our nation and our culture. While some organizations try to intimidate and discourage religious leaders from exercising their rights and freedoms in the political sphere, we urge them to reject those fear tactics and take a vocal stand on important issues. Only when our churches take a stand will we see our laws begin to reflect the traditional values our nation once stood upon.

Attendees left the "Watchmen on the Wall" conference excited and challenged. Nearly 20,000 church going Virginians were represented by the participating pastors. The impact these pastors and those church members can have on Virginia's political culture is enormous.

There is a tremendous amount of energy among pastors and church leaders and there is no question this energy will affect the congregations they represent. The potential impact of this energy and leadership cannot be underestimated. It isn't intended simply to affect one election or one campaign cycle but to bring change to an entire culture. This week was an important step toward that change.

Sex Doesn't Just Sell . . .

Once again the California Supreme Court has issued a ruling that could have frightening implications across the nation. The court's recent decision allows the government to force doctors to perform medical treatments that violate their religious beliefs. In this case, two Christian fertility doctors refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian who wanted to have a baby. Never mind that there are hundreds of other doctors who would have gladly taken the money and done the procedure, and this is hardly withholding treatment in a life threatening situation, but the lesbian in question sued. The doctors in this case even referred the woman to another clinic — but she refused (and they paid for the referral). Obviously, this was not about a medical treatment. This was about forcing one's morality on someone else and using the courts to do so. 

This is just another example in the ongoing battle between sexual liberty and religious liberty that has more often been played out in the abortion debate. Most recently, abortion activists have fought attempts to protect pharmacists who do not want to distribute abortifacient drugs because it violates their conscience. Again, its not like there isn't a Rite-Aid on every corner, giving people plenty of options. Medical providers are not allowed to have a choice in the matter of conscience.

No, this is about forcing people to act against their religious beliefs. And in America today, religious liberty is the least protected right in existence. In nearly every case thus far, sexual liberty wins out over conscience.

Does no one feel a chill when they read about the government forcing doctors to act against their conscience? Does history not teach us the danger of such oppression?

California Values

Yesterday, homosexual activists and ultra liberal politicians in California finally got what they could never get through California's legislature or even its generous initiative and referendum system: the legalization of homosexual marriage.  How did they get it? In a state of 37 million people, four people made law for everyone else when the California Supreme Court ruled by a 4-3 vote that the state's Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The law passed overwhelmingly by the voters in a 2000 referendum (Proposition 22 got 61 percent of the vote). Now four people have undone that. The dissenting justices wrote that to strike down the law was out of the court's jurisdiction and/or a violation of the separation of powers. No matter. Take what you want anyway you can get it. Who cares if the people and their elected representatives have no say?

The majority opinion, which reads more like an Equality Virginia press release than a legal document, argued that there is a fundamental right to "form a family relationship" regardless of one's "sexual orientation." In fact, they do not appear to put any parameters on what exactly a "family relationship" is, perhaps leaving that open to any of an assortment of behaviors. Although 26 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, the majority opinion said there is no "compelling state interest" that justifies preventing same-sex couples from marrying. So 26 states are wrong and these four judges are right. Sure.

The court argued that there is no difference between the "domestic partnerships" that the California legislature created, which grant all the rights and benefits of marriage, and marriage itself. The California Court actually has it right here. This is exactly what we argued in 2006 during Virginia's Marriage Amendment campaign — that so-called "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions" had to be covered by the Marriage Amendment because they are the same thing! (See The Richmond Times-Dispatch article about our reaction here.)

The California Supreme Court proved our point on this as well as on activist judges striking down statutes — the precise reason the Virginia M.A. was needed — to sustain our statutory laws. (See this interesting blog post from the Houston Chronicle.) One wonders where the homosexual activists in Virginia will find any legs for their arguments now (not that they had any to begin with).

Ultimately, the court conjured that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny the use of the word "marriage" to same-sex couples since they already enjoy all the rights and benefits of marriage through so-called "domestic partnerships." Such discrimination, the court said, could encourage same-sex couples to be treated as "second-class citizens" and deny them the "dignity" of the more "familiar and highly favored designation of marriage." The ruling now lays the foundation for same-sex marriage advocates to redefine marriage state-by-state, while pro-marriage and pro-family Californians haven't given up (click here). 

This decision to deny the right of children to have both a mother and a father is appalling.  It is not surprising, however, that the court found no difference between so-called "domestic partnerships" allowed by California and marriage itself. Regardless of what they are called — domestic partnerships, civil unions, or some other arrangement — any union that is given the rights and benefits of marriage is marriage, and undermines that institution. By determining that there is no difference between a so-called "domestic partnership" and marriage, the California Supreme Court validated what supporters of Virginia's marriage amendment said all along — we must have a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage and protects Virginia from another state's version of marriage — whatever they decide to call it.

In 2006, Virginians voted overwhelmingly to protect the definition of marriage, anticipating days such as this. Like California, our laws protecting marriage were at the mercy of the courts until Virginians were given the opportunity to amend the state Constitution to define marriage. Because of that vote, a handful of activist judges cannot toss aside thousands of years of human history and the evidence of social science that marriage between one man and one woman is best for society, families and children.

Regardless of the insanity caused by only four California judges, the law in Virginia is perfectly clear — we recognize that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that children deserve both a mom and a dad. Because of that, our children can rest easier.