Chris Freund

Defending Human Life

On Friday, in honor of the March for Life in our nation's capital, Delegate Nick Freitas delivered a gentle, yet passionate speech about why he is pro-life during the House of Delegates' Morning Hour at our state capitol.. Our team of General Assembly lobbyists caught this and thought it was worthy of sharing to as many people as possible. I agree. Please click on the image below and view it, and please share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. It is only about four-and-a-half minutes long, but each word is powerful and meaningful. I know you and all you share it with will be as touched as we were.

The Real Ralph

That was quick.

Anyone who has been around Richmond for any period of time knows that the first few days of a General Assembly session are full of seeing old friends, lots of talk of happy-go-lucky bipartisanship and a general atmosphere of congeniality.

That usually lasts right up until the first bill is debated in a committee. 

This year, it seemed to last until newly minted Governor Ralph Northam addressed a joint session of the General Assembly.  Until that point, there were members of the assembly who actually might have lived under the media-created delusion that Governor Northam is something of a “moderate” who really wants to “get things done.”

Instead, his speech Tuesday night was reminiscent of his predecessor’s litany of left-wing progressive ideology focusing primarily on making sure unborn children can’t survive the womb and redefining marriage and human sexuality down to nothing more than an emotional whim.  In similar tones, former Governor Terry McAuliffe spent much of his last speech as governor last week decrying “divisive social issues” while then proceeding to spend much of his speech advocating for divisive social issues, like making sure unborn children can’t survive the womb and, well, you know.

In other words, the real Ralph was on full display, much to the dismay of conservatives who thought, maybe, just maybe, the new Governor was actually interested in governing. 

That was all followed yesterday with competing speeches in the House of Delegates between Republican majority leader Todd Gilbert and Democrat minority leader David Toscano.  Gilbert took Northam to task for his blatantly partisan speech, making sure to note that when a left-wing liberal says bipartisanship, they generally mean, “do everything that I want.”

To which Toscano answered with, well, a litany of left-wing progressive ideology that he claimed are all bipartisan!  Just agree with him on everything and you can be bipartisan, too.

All this leaves us pretty much where those of us who have been around a while have come to expect – a deeply divided legislature with partisan groups that have nearly completely opposite worldviews that leave very little room for compromise.  Of course, few Virginians know any of this, because the political media in Virginia (which is mostly made up of VCU journalism students posing as reporters) is so devoid of objectivity they can’t report anything close to reality.  Remarkably, the stories out about the competing speeches, and the editorial boards, are making it seem like the breakdown in bipartisanship is all on the side of Republicans, presumably because they simply won’t pass everything Democrats want. 

Be prepared for lots of that in the next eight weeks.

Maybe it's freedom that's at stake?

There’s been a lot of banter on Virginia political blogs recently about the state of Ralph Northam’s campaign for governor and just how accurate are polls showing a statistical dead heat.  Some are reporting internal grumblings among Democrats that indicate serious concerns within that party over Northam’s campaign just a few weeks out from Election Day.

A test of whether or not there is true concern can often be found in the pages of the Washington Post.  And, sure enough, there have been a series of recent articles from Post reporters seeking to stir up controversy over everything from Republican candidate Ed Gillespie’s direct mail pieces to his fundraising. (Not to mention some pretty bogus polling numbers.)

Their goal: drive Northam’s base into a frenzy so they’ll actually show up to vote and discourage potential Gillespie voters who don’t want to vote for what the Post wants them to believe is a losing candidate. 

But this is the Post headline that takes the cake in hyperbole:

“Future of Public Education at Stake in Virginia’s Governor Race”

Que the left wing hysteria!

Imagine that.  The entire future of public education rests on our gubernatorial race.

It should surprise no one that the entire article attacks Gillespie for his support of policies that would give families more education freedom.  The article proceeds with a litany of accusations about how terrible it would be if parents are provided more options than the school to which their child is assigned based on nothing more than their zip code.  Everything from charter schools to Education Savings Accounts is attacked as “Bad for Kids” according to numerous quotes from those opposed to parental freedom, namely the education establishment. 

The article countered with quotes from supporters of education freedom…oh wait, never mind.  There are no quotes in the article from supports of education freedom.  None.  Anywhere.  Zero.

There are, of course, lots of scare quotes about Betsy DeVos, current U.S. Secretary of Education, who has used a personal fortune to advance the cause of education freedom. 

Northam makes it clear that he hates the idea of “unaccountable, private organizations” educating children.  His assumption being that parents aren’t capable of holding private schools accountable, making government run schools the only option.  Yet, private schools are thriving, growing, and producing students who are doing just fine, thank you, with little – and all unwanted – government involvement.  All the while being held accountable by the people paying tuition.  You know, sorta like a “free market.”  Imagine that.

Fearing competition reveals a lack of confidence in your product.  The education establishment is terrified that parents might actually get some freedom and make choices for their kids that run counter to what the establishment wants.  This would mean parents are in control, not the education power brokers, and that is their real fear – and perhaps what the Post means when it desperately claims that the future of public ed is at stake. 

Opioids and Abortion

The Washington Post headline screams, “Fentanyl fuels the nation’s opioid crisis.”  It is another in a long line of articles seen in most news sources about the growing public health crisis that is opioid abuse and addiction, a plague destroying lives, families and communities across the nation and our Commonwealth.

Fentanyl is a Schedule II opioid pain reliever, and is “is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to a recent statement on fentanyl by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and 25-50 times more potent than heroin.”  A Schedule II drug is defined as having “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

So, why did one doctor who owns four abortion centers in Virginia get nothing more than a slap on the wrist when it was discovered that his facilities kept no legally required records of the fentanyl he had obtained and allowed unlicensed staff members to transport the drug from facility to facility?  (Never mind that he allowed an unlicensed staffer to administer the drug to women unfortunate enough to enter one of this abortion centers.)

In its July 9 and 10, 2014 inspection report from the Charlottesville Medical Center for Women, Department of Health officials found that unlicensed staff members were transporting narcotics (fentanyl) from one facility to another with no record or documentation.  In fact, the facility had no records in accordance with federal and state laws regarding any drugs used at the facility.  According to the inspection report:

“…the facility failed to keep records of all drugs in Schedules I-V received, sold, administered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of…” 

The Charlottesville Medical Center for Women is owned by W.K.G. and J., Incorporated (the secretary is Marianne Fitzhugh), which also owns the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, the Richmond Medical Center for Women and the Peninsula Medical Center for Women.  W.K.G is William Fitzhugh, one of Virginia’s more notorious abortion doctors.  The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Board of Medicine apparently “investigated” and found an incredible record of Fitzhugh violating federal and state drug laws.  Among other violations, the Board concluded that “for several years prior to July of 2014” he “failed to maintain a record of all drugs administered or otherwise disposed of at his Charlottesville clinic.”

For several years.  Didn’t keep track of fentanyl.  Fentanyl being one of the most abused opioids on the market.  With unlicensed and unaccountable staff members transferring the drugs from abortion center to abortion center.  With no way of knowing what happened to those drugs.

The Board of Medicine acted as forcefully as you would imagine when a doctor who performs abortions is involved – it issued a “reprimand” and required him to make a pinkie promise to be good from now on (okay, it was to promise to read the law and follow the law, but seriously?). 

Other than that, there is no evidence that anyone ever did anything to find what happened to the fentanyl of which no one at Fitzhugh’s clinic kept record. You know, like is required by every other medical doctor and medical facility in the United States of America because fentanyl is dangerous and we have an opioid crisis!

Now, there is also no evidence that the fentanyl Fitzhugh obtained was distributed illegally or abused, but that might be because no one ever bothered to investigate because, you know, it’s abortion and, well, the abortion industry is “singled out.” 

A Board of Medicine that makes decisions like letting Fitzhugh off the hook certainly doesn’t give hope that it’s serious about dealing with Virginia’s opioid crisis.  At least not when it involves abortion doctors.

The Abortion Litmus Test

Somehow, I made it on to the campaign email lists of Ralph Northam and Mark Herring and have been the recipient of hundreds of their pleading missives over the past year or so.  I’ve noticed a theme.

Abortion.

They love to use their gutless euphemisms like “women’s health,” “access” and “choice” to avoid the word abortion, but the message has been loud and clear:

For Democrats, the Virginia elections of 2017 are about abortion. 

In fact, the overwhelming majority of emails I get from both Northam and Herring are about a single issue – the promotion and defense of the killing of unborn children.

For them, 56 million abortions just aren’t enough.  We need more; a lot more.

And we need them paid for by the taxpayer, money funneled to their friends at Planned Parenthood.

And now we see where Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, attacked Republican Jill Vogel at their first debate over the ultrasound bill from five long years ago.  A bill that simply required abortion centers to do what they claimed they already did – an ultrasound prior to an abortion to make sure 1) there really is a pregnancy, 2) that it’s not a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and 3) the size of the unborn child to make sure they use the right procedure to kill the child and not put the woman’s life at risk.  For that, the left and media went into hysterics, and Democrats can still fundraise and motivate their base.  Of course, what they really feared was the requirement that abortion centers offer women an opportunity to see the ultrasound picture before they make their decision.

That window into the womb scares the abortion industry perhaps like nothing else.

Vogel’s response, as quoted in the Washington Post, nailed it – “There was nothing in that bill that forced them to do anything against their will.”  In fact, no doctor can force anyone to have a test against their will – you just have to live with the consequences of your decision to ignore the doctor.

Regardless, the irony in all this is that the party with the real litmus test on abortion is the Democrat party, which then uses the media to attack and ridicule Republicans for having a litmus test on abortion, when most Republicans talk about the issue only when asked.  All while Democrats are having a now public internal debate nationally over whether they need to stop having a litmus test on abortion because it’s costing them elections.  While Virginia Democrats make elections all about abortion.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Politics and elections are all about a narrative, and for Virginia Democrats, that narrative is abortion, all the time, anywhere, taxpayer funded, with no restrictions. Ralph Northam and Mark Herring are counting on it energizing their base. So is the abortion industry.

The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Evolving Ethics

What are ethics?  According to good ole Merriam-Webster, they are “a set of moral principles or a theory or system of moral values.” 

Ethics, principles, values…all words that generally, throughout history, implied something intrinsic, moral, perhaps even permanent.

Of course, we now live in a culture where such notions are something at which many scoff.  Everything changes, particularly ethics and morality.  

So it came as no surprise in a recent meeting I attended when an “ethicist” with a major hospital association in Virginia voiced his opinion about how health care ethics “have evolved,” attempting to lend credibility to the idea that medical doctors should be allowed to help their patients commit suicide under certain circumstances.  Generally, that would be when someone has a “terminal” illness with fewer than six months to live.  Simply providing “relief from suffering” (i.e. helping them kill themselves) must be moral, according to this ethicist.  The “ethical” argument in favor of this included that, according to some polling, it’s supported by a majority of Americans.  (Another member of the group chimed in with, “like with abortion,” the morality has changed, as if one couldn’t possibly have a moral objection to killing an unborn baby.)

Now, never mind the reality that doctors are notoriously terrible at predicting the lifespan of the terminally ill, and that new treatments for many once incurable diseases are helping extend lifespans each and every day. 

No, the problem with “evolving ethics” is that today’s physician-assisted suicide (PAS) for the terminally ill is tomorrow’s PAS for the chronically ill.  And then those who have a genetic disposition toward a terminal illness.  And then those who simply want “relief from suffering,” regardless of the cause of the suffering.  And what about those who aren’t really sick but who believe themselves to be sick?  I mean, if you can be a biological female but headlines can scream “Man gives birth” because that woman believes themsel to be male, why can’t a healthy person claim a terminal illness?  

And of those in the medical profession, including pharmacists, who have conscientious objections to participating in one’s suicide?  Well, the ethicists at the table assured everyone that “no one would ever force someone to participate” in this.

Ummm…but ethics evolve, no?  Today’s “no one would ever” is tomorrow’s “you’re denying access” to this “treatment” and must be required to do so (see abortion).

If ethics “evolve,” particularly medical ethics, where does that evolution end?  Might makes right is a frightening thought in the world of government controlled health care and PAS.  The slippery slope in this evolution takes us to some very dark places – places we should have learned from history we do not ever want to return.

Breaking: PWC School Board Chair Violates Law?

The chairman of the Prince William County School Board has apparently decided to take a page out of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s playbook and violate the law and policy to accomplish his personal agenda.

The Board is set to vote tomorrow night on a controversial policy that would threaten the dignity, privacy and safety of school children in intimate settings like showers and locker rooms.  At multiple meetings over the past year, opponents to the policy have dominated the public comment period at board meetings.  Apparently, the chair of the board, Ryan Sawyers, is tired of the opposition – you know, parents and grandparents of children in the schools.  (Sawyers is currently seeking the Democrat nomination to run for Congress in the First District.)

Through text messages obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request from Delegate Bob Marshall, it was revealed that that Sawyers is apparently trying to use his power and influence to place hand selected speakers at the top of the public comment list for tomorrow's meeting, instead of requiring them to sign up like everyone else. 

The first person Sawyers wants to speak?  The first openly transgendered candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who just happens to be running against Marshall in Prince William County.

That would be called a politically motivated PR stunt.

At the last school board meeting, the first ten people who had signed up were able to speak during the public comment period, but several others were forced to wait until the end of the meeting to speak, at the decision of the chair.  If that same thing happens tomorrow, it would mean that Sawyers' hand selected proponents of the policy would be able to speak before the vote, but all those who oppose would be forced to wait until after the vote to speak. 

According to Marshall’s press release, “A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall today that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak.  Chairman Sawyers’ directive that his preferred list of supporters speak first, ‘cannot be given precedence over any speakers who signed up with the Clerk to speak before the submission by the chair.’”

Marshall said, “I asked the PW School Board Clerk today whether Sawyers’ list was submitted after others had requested to speak.  The Clerk responded that other citizens had already signed up to speak prior to the Chairman’s submission.  Legal counsel further advised me that if the Board failed to follow its own regulations in adopting transgender policy changes, that failure could give rise to a court invalidation of such action.” 

Of course, in Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia, rules and regulations are simply a burden to be ignored.  It is his administration that violated the law multiple times to roll back abortion center health and safety standards, a decision that is now being challenged in court.  Apparently, now others are following his lead, knowing that the media won’t hold them accountable, and few have the resources to fight these illegal acts in court.

It remains to be seen if the Board bows to the chairman’s illegal action or follows the law.  

Media reports indicate that five members of the eight member board are prepared to vote favorably on the dangerous policy, despite overwhelming public opposition.

Of Fatherhood

Recently, my daughter celebrated her eleventh birthday.  As with any parent, I’m amazed at just how fast time has passed.  Like most kids at her age, she’s caught between wanting to be a lot older than she is at times (see “teenager”), while still also wanting to stay a child.  I know which daddy would prefer!

As we celebrated her birthday, I realized that at the age she reached, eleven, I lost my mom to cancer.  It is hard for me now to comprehend that I was that young when my mom died.  In my memory, I was never really eleven.  My mom’s death forced me to take on a level of responsibility few kids are prepared for, and as I look at my daughter, I realize just how young and unprepared I was for what I had to handle. 

But I was blessed by having a dad who took on the responsibility of raising me as a single parent and never, ever wavered.  As I grew up, my dad was always there for me.  He became my best friend, my mentor, my confidant, my advisor, and my constant encourager.  It’s impossible for me to completely express what he did to form who I am today.  Don’t get me wrong, he was far from perfect, but considering the circumstances, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if he had been anyone other than who he was.

But despite all he did, there is one thing my dad could never be, no matter how hard he tried.  He couldn’t be my mom.

Now, it doesn’t mean he didn’t fill some of that role.  Every single-parent has to fill the role of both parents as well as they can.  But I believe if people who have experienced being raised by a single parent are completely honest, they’d tell you that their parent couldn’t fulfill both roles completely.  That’s not an indictment or criticism or judgment on those single parents.  It’s the result of the simple reality that moms and dads fill different roles because men and women are different

Even now as my wife and I raise our daughter it is abundantly obvious that we parent differently.  There is a role my wife plays in my daughter’s life that I simply cannot fill, and vise versa.   Again, those aren’t weaknesses, they are not societal constructs.  They are the result of the fact that I am male, she is female, and we are different.  She can’t be my husband, I can’t be her wife.  She can’t be dad, and I can’t be mom.  Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other for the benefit of our child. 

But in our culture today we are being told that’s not acceptable.  Indeed, we are being told that this reality is dangerous, discriminatory and bigoted.  We are witnessing a “progressive” drive to erase “gender-specific” terms like “husband” and “wife” from the law because they offend people who don’t emotionally align with their biology.  They brush aside truth and social science and replace it with personal motives and desires.  They argue that kids simply need to be “loved” and everything will be okay.  They conclude that the gender differences moms and dads bring to parenting are social constructs or patriarchal deceptions and that there really are no differences and that mom and dad are interchangeable. 

Sorry, but it simply isn’t true.  Sure, kids are resilient and can overcome a lot, but if we want the best possible outcomes for our kids, our law and policy should strive to encourage a two-parent family with a mother and a father because each brings something different and necessary to family.  To purposefully deny children one or the other to fulfill the emotional needs of adults is narcissistic. 

Single parents have it tough.  Often, like in my dad’s case, it isn’t by choice.  Primarily, it’s the consequence of someone else’s decisions or tragedy.  Many do a remarkable job considering their circumstances.  But to ignore the reality that men can’t be moms and women can’t be dads isn’t hateful. It’s accepting of the real and, frankly, remarkable differences found in humanity.  The mysterious and wonderful differences between men and women, between mothers and fathers.

It’s amazing that those who claim to fight for “diversity” are bent on removing the differences between men and women because it is within those differences where the strength of true diversity thrives.  It is amidst those differences that children are more likely to find success.  To deny children that diversity is not progress, it’s shameful.

McAuliffe's Economy

This week our salesman-in-chief Governor Terry McAuliffe touted that Virginia was once again named a Top 10 state for business by Site Selection magazine, coming in at number six.  This is apparently a good thing, even prestigious.  Given that Virginia had been dropping like a rock in nearly every similar business ranking since he took office, it’s not surprising the Governor’s press office tried to make a big deal out of this one.

In his press release, the Governor said, “We are working every day to build a new Virginia economy that works for everyone, and moving back into the top 10 in Site Selection’s prestigious Prosperity Cup ranking is evidence that those efforts are paying off.”

Pretty boiler plate stuff.

What was interesting, however, was what wasn’t mentioned in the Governor’s press release, given that in nearly every speech he’s made he’s been sure to mention how terrible things are in our neighbor state to the south, North Carolina, because its legislature dared attempt to protect the privacy of women and children in public restrooms.  He’s demeaned and demonized the Tar Heel state, and ridiculed efforts to protect women and children here in Virginia.  He’s attacked efforts to defend religious liberty while he’s also made sure his efforts to increase the number of abortions in Virginia has been front and center in his messaging about making Virginia more “open” for the kinds of businesses that care about such things.   Yet in this press release, not a peep.

Odd.

At least until you look at the actual Site Selection rankings and low and behold what state do you find at the top of the list?  Well, it ain’t Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia.

You guessed it, the top state in the nation for business according to Site Selection would be North Carolina.

Amazingly, despite the media-driven, leftist hysteria generated by the now famous HB 2, businesses are still moving to North Carolina, apparently at a higher rate than the Old Dominion.   Perhaps public policies like low tax rates actually do matter to intelligent business owners despite state Senator Dick Saslaw’s remarkable claim made during session that he didn’t know of a single business that ever made a decision about where to locate based on the tax rate.

Umm, okay. 

Anyway, if we’ve learned anything from the HB 2 debacle it is this: the narrative wins out over reality every single time.  Reality tells us that North Carolina is doing just fine, better even than Virginia.  But my guess is that if you asked most lawmakers or your average citizen they’d be convinced otherwise. 

Unconscionable

I try, really try, to understand the issues we deal with from the perspective of those on the “other side.”  Sometimes, some have valid, logical arguments, with which I simply disagree.  Other times, I find it impossible to even comprehend their position.

Now and then, I find their position not just incomprehensible, but unconscionable.

Recently, it was revealed that a woman in Chesterfield county “self-aborted” her unborn baby in the later stages of her pregnancy – the third trimester.  She then buried the child in her back yard.  The autopsy found that the woman had used a combination of drugs and “penetrating injuries to the head” of that nearly fully developed baby to kill them. 

The ACLU’s response?  Anger that the police would dare charge the woman with a crime.

“No woman should fear arrest or jail for ending her own pregnancy…it appears that this is another example of overreach…in an attempt to shame and punish [the woman] for her circumstances.”

It’s bad enough that groups like the ACLU and their friends in the abortion industry are perfectly comfortable with fully developed unborn babies being killed days or even hours before birth, a position with which a large majority of Americans disagrees.  Americans object to abortion after the mid-point of pregnancy when they believe it’s being “performed” in something at least resembling a medical facility.  Oh, and it’s downright barbaric.  In Virginia, abortions after the first trimester must be done in a hospital because killing a baby that is nearly fully developed is complicated and somewhat dangerous – for the mother that is.  It’s downright deadly for the baby. 

The medical examiner in this case couldn't determine what the woman used to “penetrate” the head of her unborn child enough to kill it.  I wonder, was the child kicking when she did it?  Could she feel her child moving around as she killed them?  Had she never heard of adoption?  If her circumstances were so dire, why wait until the last days or weeks of the pregnancy?  For a few hundred bucks Planned Parenthood would have gladly taken the baby’s life months earlier.  

If you’ve seen a sonogram of a baby in the third trimester you know.  You see the humanity.  You recognize the dignity and the worth.  As a pro-life community, we believe that dignity and worth don’t suddenly materialize at some random point on the continuum of life that is undeterminable.  It’s there from the moment of conception because it comes from our Creator, not from our judgment.  But while some may not believe that, many become uncomfortable with taking the life of unborn children at some random point during pregnancy when through sonogram you can see the child’s face, see their features;  they move, they smile, they live.  At what point does our humanity require us to say no?

For the ACLU, sadly, that point doesn’t exist.  Don’t want the child?  Kill them.  Don’t worry about when, where or how, just do it. 

Like I said, unconscionable.

On Target

In case you haven’t heard, apparently, despite nearly a year’s worth of scoffing denials by the retailer’s officials, Target isn’t doing so well. 

Paint me shocked!

Plummeting sales and stock can be blamed on the weather only so many times before any thinking person starts to suspect that perhaps there’s more here than we’re being told.

Now comes a story in the Wall Street Journal where sources with Target claim that the announcement about a policy allowing men in women’s restrooms in the name of tolerance was never actually approved by the boss.  It was just a blog post that got a little out of hand.  And, oh, the CEO now claims he wouldn’t have approved the announcement because he thought, well, just maybe, there might be a backlash. 

Ya think?

Of course, the CEO and others, along with the media and even many market “experts” claimed for the past year that there has been no backlash and that Target’s plummeting sales and stocks are due to the weather or other unusual market forces.  Weather and market forces that weren’t, however, having any effect on Target’s biggest competitor, Walmart.  Odd.

And that $20 million plan to add private restrooms to stores had nothing at all to do with the backlash that wasn’t really happening.  Just move along…

Now, I’m not a big fan of “boycotts” in general, and measuring their impact is pretty near impossible.  But you have to admit that when 1.5 million people say they aren’t going to shop someplace anymore, it might have a bit of an impact.  And that doesn’t include those who may have decided to not shop there but never signed any petition or pledge.  Regardless, the fact that the retailer’s sales have dropped in every quarter since the announcement can’t be simple coincidence.  Apparently, now, a year later, officials are starting to admit it. 

Target’s biggest worry?  Those who figured out they never needed Target in the first place, and discovered online shopping at Amazon.  Not sure there’s a blog post correction that can fix that.

Private Parts

It was quite an interesting morning outside the Governor’s Mansion on Capitol Square today.  Late yesterday Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office released his “Public Schedule” for the week:

McAuliffe Schedule.jpg

You’ll note that his “Public Schedule” includes “Governor McAuliffe to act on legislation impacting womens health” at 9:45 am today at the Executive Mansion.  Now, we are well aware that the so-called “progressive” left has some difficulty discerning what is public and private (see bathrooms), and we learned this morning that this apparently includes what constitutes a “public” event. 

You see, several of us who wanted to see the Governor’s “public” activity showed up at the Mansion and tried to gain access.  Only when we did we were informed that no, the event wasn’t “public,” it was private.  Yet we watched as several people entered the event without showing any form of ID, so how the Capitol Police could distinguish between those invited to the public/private event is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps it was the signs we were carrying that said things like “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “Planned Parenthood Lies” that made us undesirable.  

So undesirable, in fact, that we were then informed that we couldn’t hold up our signs because we “didn’t have a permit.”  This was a bit perplexing since we know that permits aren’t granted for any areas of Capitol Square with the exception of the area around the Bell Tower, far removed from the Capitol and the Executive Mansion; and this despite having witnessed numerous groups all session long being allowed to hold up signs wherever and whenever they pleased.  We’ve watched Planned Parenthood apologists line the sidewalks of Capitol Square with their signs.  Apparently, they are permitted to do that.  In all fairness to the Capitol Police, they were just “doing what we’re told,” apparently by the administration, because we did hold up signs when we first arrived, but then we couldn't. 

While standing outside the fence surrounding the Governor’s Mansion unable to hold up our signs, we were able to hear the Governor pontificate on how it is so important to have an “open and inclusive” Virginia where everyone feels welcome.  While we were standing outside the fence.  Barred from being welcome. 

The Governor then very publicly (sort of) vetoed legislation that would have redirected taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood toward real health clinics that offer comprehensive care for women.  McAuliffe was joined at this public (oh, never mind) campaign rally by candidate for Governor Ralph Northam and candidate for AG Mark Herring. 

For the second year in a row, the Governor celebrated vetoing a bill supported by 54 percent of Virginians; last year he did so at a Planned Parenthood abortion center.  At least this year he did it in public/private/behind a fence. 

Save the Babies!

The definition of “women’s health care” is as fluid it seems as the definition of gender, at least to the political left.  Yesterday’s floor debate in the state Senate is another example.

As the Senate was debating Delegate Ben Cline’s bill to redirect non-Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care facilities, Senator Barbara Favola lamented that such a prohibition would end a contract the state has with a Planned Parenthood affiliate to provide STD testing.  She worried that such a change would endanger “women’s health” and put unborn babies at risk (no, really) because they are more likely to have health issues if their moms have an STD:

The clinics our colleagues are targeting help women treat infections like Hepatitis B to make sure these infections are not passed on to newborns through no fault of their own.

Never mind that being killed in the womb is “no fault of their own” either, Favola and Planned Parenthood itself sure are awfully concerned about STD testing all of the sudden, which is kind of surprising.  You see, over the past year plus while the industry was fighting to dilute abortion center health and safety standards, they fought to remove a requirement that abortion centers provide STD testing!

That’s right, the same people lamenting that they aren’t going to get paid by taxpayers to do STD testing also fought against having to do STD testing.  Apparently, it’s only women’s health care when you profit off of the taxpayers.

And by the way, there is no reason that community health clinics can’t apply for the same grant and provide the same service.  And they can do so in really “underserved” areas because they actually have clinics in underserved areas.  There are no Planned Parenthood abortion centers west of Roanoke. There are dozens of community health care centers.  

It really is remarkable that the abortion industry seems absolutely incapable of being honest in any way.  Or they are completely blind to their own distortions.  But they can get away with it because there is absolutely no one in the media that is going to challenge their claims.

Faking News

If anyone ever wondered why so few people trust the “mainstream” media, today’s stories about two bills that passed yesterday in the House of Delegates and state Senate are clear evidence.

Now, as someone who has been doing political media work for nearly 20 years, let me first say that there are still good reporters out there trying to be accurate.  Not all reporters are so blatantly biased that they manipulate stories, and even some who have bias do an admirable job of trying to be fair.  But the decline in accuracy, the inability to even begin to hide bias, the have-to-get-this-online immediately syndrome, and quite frankly, the rise of a generation of reports who have no concern about being subjective and inaccurate has ruined media credibility and if not corrected is going to have devastating consequences for our nation.  Fake news is just the beginning.

Back to today’s news stories (some of which first appeared online last night, leaving no time for any reporter to verify claims made). 

In a story delivered by the Associated Press to multiple news outlets concerning the passage of a House bill that would redirect money away from Planned Parenthood, several false claims were made and printed as if true.  The first claim, that abortion makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, has been repeatedly proven false and misleading, even by the media’s own “fact-checkers.”  The statement is not attributed to anyone in particular in the story, so where did the “reporter” (I’ll explain why that’s in quotes shortly) get the information?  Was it her own bias?  Did someone with Planned Parenthood or some other abortion-defending group tell her?  It’s in the paragraph that prefaces other claims with “according to the organization.” Does that apply to the 3 percent claim?  Who exactly should be held accountable for the falsehood?

Another false claim in the article states, “Without the funding, the organization says it would have to shut its five clinics in the state.”  The reality is that most of the money Planned Parenthood receives is from Medicaid, which this bill doesn't address, and the amount of taxpayer dollars that would be affected by this bill is relatively small.  Small enough that it would have no bearing on whether or not a facility would close. 

Late this afternoon, a correction on the second claim was posted on the story on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website, stating, “An earlier version of this story reported erroneously that losing funding would force the group to close its five clinics in the state. Planned Parenthood officials said defunding would ‘significantly undermine our ability’ to provide services at the clinics, but they did not say the facilities would close.”  Frankly, the correction is just as false as the original statement, but it’s at least moving in the direction of accuracy.

Here’s the interesting part, the “reporter” on the story is, in fact, a student at VCU and not a professional journalist.  Because news outlets are bleeding money and most veteran reporters in Richmond have been kicked to the curb or left for other jobs, some media outlets are relying on something called the Capital News Service, which is primarily staffed by college kids!  So, the Associated Press story was not actually written by someone with the AP, but by a college student.

Now, I’m all for “real life” experience for college kids.  Heaven knows many could use some.  But relying on a college student for actual news reporting is far removed from the days when they would research and verify facts for a story, not have the actual byline!  Regardless, an editor somewhere along the way should have known about the 3 percent falsehood.  It’s easily found with a simple Google search.  Clearly, no one cared if the story was accurate, just that it went online quickly and, I dare say, fit the narrative that Planned Parenthood must be saved at all cost.

A second story came from the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding a religious liberty bill that passed the state Senate.  It quoted the Senate Democrat caucus this way: “The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus issued a news release saying the bill would allow state employees to refuse marriage licenses to people based on religious beliefs.”

Except that statement is patently false.  The bill clearly defines to whom it would apply and “state employees” are nowhere to be found.  It’s very limited to those associated with religious organizations in the performance of duties associated with the organization.  Again, the story popped up online and my guess is the reporter had no time to verify the claim, which was since deleted from the online version of the story.  This afternoon, after the reporter was made aware of the erroneous claim, the Senate Democrat caucus issued a correction saying, “Yesterday's press release incorrectly stated that Senator Carrico's SB 1324 would allow state employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses on account of their sincerely held religious beliefs. That was not the intention of the bill. We apologize for the staff error and commit to further quality controls in order to make sure this does not happen again.”

Intention?  No, it’s the actual language of the bill, but here’s to “quality controls” to make sure facts are used.  Perhaps the editors at the Associated Press and RTD should think about some “quality controls” as well.

Of course, online corrections to these stories is simply too late.  How many people go back and read a story again to find the corrections hidden at the bottom?  My guess is you won’t see these false claims challenged in any meaningful way on any media website or in print.  Anchors or reporters on newscasts (like here) who may have quoted the falsehoods won’t likely begin tonight’s newscasts with an apology (rarely do you see that happen) or correction.  The fact is the narratives for these stories were affirmed and people were fed falsehoods that they will continue to believe because “it was in the news.”

I repeat, some of these errors can be attributed to reporters not having time to verify claims in the age of news is now.  But still, these falsehoods are suspect on their face and a simple reading of the legislation will show them to be false.  Clearly, a reporter should have time while sitting waiting for votes to be cast to actually read the bills?  An editor should be aware that fact-checkers have found statements to be false or misleading.  Some of it may be shear laziness.

But a lot of it is biased.  Too many reporters believe what confirms their bias.  How do we know?  Last night, when talking with reporters about the Planned Parenthood bill, we challenged the false claims, because the "AP" story was already online.  And we were ignored.  To me, that’s proof they weren’t interested in truth, but in telling their version of reality, which just happens to align with Planned Parenthood’s. 

And that’s why people are just as willing to believe “fake news” as they are what they are being fed by the “mainstream” media. 

"...the schools people go to..."

If I hadn’t been reading carefully, I might have missed it.  After all, reading anything the Washington Post prints is painful enough, and the temptation is to skim.  But in an article today about how Democrats plan to rebuild a party that faces minority status at every level of government – including many state legislatures – came an extraordinary admission. 

In the article, Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, argues that if the party wants to take back power, it first must focus on winning back state legislatures, because:

State legislatures determine voting rights, congressional districts, things like collective bargaining, the schools people go to — the everyday things in people’s lives.

Did you catch it? 

In a list of priorities that Democrats believe they must control to gain back power that includes obvious mechanics like “voting rights” and “congressional districts,” Post adds “the schools people go to.”

Say what? 

Anyone who has been around the General Assembly long enough knows that if there is one thing progressive liberals fear perhaps even more than losing the “right” to kill their unborn children it’s this – losing the power to control where your children go to school.  You see, right now, for the overwhelming majority of families the state (state and local governments) determines where kids go to school, by zip code.  Few have the resources to escape.  Progressive liberals know that if they can keep your children confined to their schools with their agenda and their ideology, many will fall prey. 

That’s why they are so adamantly opposed to any and all forms of education freedom.  While they argue that school choice will “cost public schools resources,” etc., the truth is they fear losing control over your children.  Ms. Post’s statement shows that the Democrat party has made the connection – whoever controls the education of our children eventually controls the halls of power. 

It’s fitting that such an admission took place at the start of National School Choice Week.  The battle to free our children from a government controlled, zip code based, antiquated education system is perhaps one of the most important of our generation.  From tax credits for donations to scholarship programs for low and middle-income families to virtual schools to education savings accounts, whatever the mechanism, school choice is the battle for the future.  

Day of Tears

There is little doubt that millions of Americans mourn abortion.  Polling shows that the public is split on the issue, so it's not a stretch to conclude that a large percentage of us are in the very least troubled by and often times repulsed by the idea of taking the life of an unborn child. 

This year, Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), at the request of a Virginia non-profit, has introduced a House Resolution that would simply encourage Virginians to fly their flags at half-staff on January 22, the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that forced abortion on our country, calling it the “Day of Tears”:

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That January 22 hereby be recognized as the Day of Tears in Virginia and that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia be encouraged to lower their flags to half-staff to mourn the innocents who have lost their lives to abortion.

Simple, yet profound.  No requirement, just a statement of encouragement.

Not surprisingly, the “progressive” secular left is appalled at the thought that Virginians might be appalled at the killing of unborn children.  Testifying against the resolution in committee today, the representative from something called “ProgressVirginia” worried that such a resolution might “shame” those who have had abortions.  

Now, never mind that it’s highly doubtful many people outside of those pro-lifers who choose to do this will know what it’s about.  Perhaps it will encourage some conversations when someone asks their neighbor why their flag is at half-staff, leading to some hearts and minds being changed.  Hopefully, as more people become aware of this campaign, pro-life Virginians will see that there are many others who share their belief that abortion should not be celebrated but mourned.  Certainly, there’s no intent to shame anyone.

What is troubling, however, about the opposition’s argument against the resolution is that it is not far from saying that any speech that condemns abortion could cause someone to feel bad and is, therefore, suspect and should be prohibited.  We’ve seen this in Europe already, and there’s little doubt that the progressive left in this nation would like nothing more than to silent its opposition, particularly those who believe the science that shows life begins at conception.  This is not just a threat to the profit of the $1 billion abortion industry, but a threat to one of the pillars of the secular left’s entire worldview – that life has no value outside of what the majority assigns it. 

Republicans on the committee quickly advanced the resolution, which should be voted on by the full House of Delegates in the next day or two.  Sadly, while we expect the resolution to pass the House, it’s likely to end up being a party line vote.  Long gone are the days where Democrats were allowed to vote their conscience on such an issue.

Regardless, we at The Family Foundation hope that you will join others this Sunday by lowering your flag to half-staff.   It’s an opportunity to express your mourning for the loss of nearly 60 million children and to elicit conversation about the humanity of unborn life, something the progressive left fears maybe most of all.

Economic Reality Check

Imagine for a moment you lived in a state:

  • That has created over 300,000 new jobs since 2013, including over 30,000 net new jobs since April 2016

  • That has seen unemployment decline from 10% to 4.9% (under the national average);

  • That has a $425 million budget surplus (not a deficit of over $1 billion);

  • That has improved its ranking in CNBC's best states for business in 2016, jumping from #9 up to #5;

  • Was named by Forbes Magazine the second best state for business in America for the second year in a row in 2016;

Sounds pretty good, no?

Then you better move to North Carolina.

That’s right, the state the hysterical left – including our own Governor – is painting as being on economic life support is actually doing just fine.  In fact, it's doing better than the Commonwealth in several key economic areas – including job growth – as it’s rankings in key surveys from CNBC and Forbes indicate.  North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped seven-tenths of a percent over the year, the fourth-best improvement in the nation, while Virginia's has recently inched up. Forbes ranks Virginia the sixth best state for business, a decline from past years and behind NC.

And all this is happening despite the fact that – hold on – North Carolina would prefer men use men’s restrooms and women use women’s restrooms.

Even if you buy the argument that North Carolina’s effort to protect the safety, dignity and privacy of women and children has had a negative effect on its economy, the state is still doing better than Virginia in many ways!    

The hysteria from the media, political class and pseudo-conservative bloggers over legislation before the Virginia General Assembly regulating bathroom use in government buildings (i.e. public schools) was as swift as it was predictable.  The belief in an underlying reality that biology and DNA matter and that common sense dictate that no one should expect young school girls to be exposed to members of the opposite sex in school showers and locker rooms are now labeled bigotry, hateful and worse than all – bad for the economy.

Of course, this is politics in Virginia, so the narrative being forced on us by a mainstream media no one is supposed to believe any more will likely win out over objective reality.  But reality is something different, regardless of what the media and political class are telling you.  

Hurry Up and Wait

So, it turns out, the desperate emergency that required the Virginia Board of Health hold a costly, special meeting to gut abortion center health and safety standards might not have been so necessary after all.

You may recall that the Board voted on October 24th to amend the standards at the behest of the $1 billion abortion industry.  The Board was scheduled to vote at its September meeting but so many errors and violations of state law were made during the process that a special commission of the General Assembly urged the Board to delay its vote.   The abortion industry and its apologists hysterically claimed at the September Board meeting that a special meeting must be held because delaying until the regularly scheduled December meeting would have “put women at risk” and Virginia would be “in violation of the Supreme Court,” etc., etc.  (One person actually said Virginia had to follow the “directive” of the Court, though the Court doesn’t issue directive, it gives opinions.)

From that point, the amendments have continued through the regulatory process, from being approved by the Attorney General to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, then landing on the Governor’s desk for his approval on December 9th. 

Apparently, however, Governor Terry McAuliffe is still in his “safe space” after Hillary Clinton’s surprising defeat on Election Day.  You see, despite the “emergency” and hysterical pleas of the abortion industry in October, the Governor has yet to take action. 

Twenty-five days later and counting. 

Now, one would think, if women were at risk of life and limb and all, the Governor would have acted a bit more urgently on a matter of such import.  Or maybe he was just caught up in holiday festivities?

More likely, the issue wasn’t an emergency at all, and the special meeting that costs taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $8,000 wasn’t so necessary.   

Regardless of when the Governor takes action, the long delay has revealed the truth – the special meeting was a costly waste of time for everyone involved that amounted to little more than a PR stunt for the abortion industry.  

Every Minute Counts

Hypocrisy reigns within the Virginia Board of Health, with the latest example coming again from pro-abortion members of the Board appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.

At last week’s Board meeting, some once-aggressive members appointed by McAuliffe were extremely grieved over attempts to correct the official minutes from the October meeting at which the Board voted to eviscerate abortion center health and safety standards.  At that October meeting, the Board rushed through several amendments to the standards with little or no discussion, including some amendments that had not been seen by Board members until that day.  Yet, the amendments were nearly all adopted without pro-abortion members needing any time at all to consider their implications. 

But at last week’s meeting, when members of the Board who had objected to the amendments and had repeatedly made the case that the Board was acting illegally wanted the official minutes of the October Board meeting to clearly and accurately reflect their concerns, they were rebuffed.  Incredibly, the same Board members who needed no time whatsoever to contemplate adopting consequential amendments to the health and safety standards that put women’s health at risk pleaded for time to “absorb” and contemplate the amendments to the minutes!  Apparently, the official record of the meeting was suddenly something of import – even more so than the health and safety standards themselves.

Perhaps pro-abortion members needed to go to their “safe-spaces” to be able to handle something as emotionally traumatizing as the truth.

Or, maybe, the McAuliffe-appointed members know a lawsuit is in the wings and they don’t want the fact that they violated the law reflected in the official record?  Could it be that the administration and its appointees (along with the Attorney General’s office who advises the Board) are well aware of their violations of the law and are now doing all they can to try to cover it up?  Why not simply allow the minutes to reflect the reality of what happened at the October meeting?  After all, if the objections to the votes were without merit, what’s the downside? 

From the beginning, the McAuliffe administration’s desperate efforts to appease Planned Parenthood and the $1 billion abortion industry have been tainted with politics, incompetence and illegality.  Last week’s actions by McAuliffe’s litmus-tested pro-abortion Board members is just the latest example; one that reeks of fear.  

Tar Heels Still Beating Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe with assistance from his media allies has spent the better part of his administration carrying the message that Virginia must be a “welcoming” state to successfully attract businesses, and therefore jobs, to the Old Dominion.  By “welcoming,” of course, he means disregarding religious liberty, personal privacy and safety, abandoning common sense and imposing McAuliffe’s so-called “progressive” agenda on the Old Dominion.

When North Carolina was ground zero last year for the hysterical left’s latest fear campaign during  debate over that state’s effort to protect privacy and dignity, Governor McAuliffe went so far as to invite businesses in NC to move to Virginia.

The latest analysis from Forbes magazine indicates that Mr. McAuliffe’s efforts have done little to help Virginia, while NC’s economy is doing just fine.

Forbes recent list ranking the best states in which to do business found North Carolina at #2, ahead of the Commonwealth's 6th place ranking.

Not a big deal, you say?

How about this. Seven of the top 10 states in Forbes rankings have not caved to the progressive left’s anti-freedom agenda that elevates sexual behavior to protected classification by adding “sexual orientation/gender identity” at the expense of safety, privacy and dignity.    

Oh, and while Virginians are learning on a seemingly regular basis that many of Governor McAuliffe’s press releases about new jobs and business to Virginia have been unfulfilled or are just a tiny bit exaggerated, North Carolina has added thousands of jobs, particularly in high tech.  In fact, despite the rhetoric that NOVA is the Silicon Valley of the east, Raleigh, NC has seen an over 38 percent increase in tech jobs since 2010, second only to San Francisco in that time period.  Charlotte was also in the top 20 list of cities with increased tech jobs.  No city in Virginia is on the list.  It seems the new economy Terry McAuliffe promised has moved just a little bit down the road, to North Carolina.

Despite the well-funded, cultural elitist driven campaign of fear against North Carolina and the best efforts of Virginia’s salesman-in-chief, the Tar Heel state is crushing Virginia in jobs and business climate. 

But wait, you say, the North Carolina governor just lost his race!  See, there’s proof that protecting human privacy and dignity are losing issues.

Not so fast.  While that race is still being contested, it’s important to note that nearly every Republican who favored the bill the left is hysterically attacking as hateful and bigoted kept their seats.  One state House leader of the bill easily won a seat in the state Senate – in a district near Charlotte, the epicenter of the left’s fear mongering. 

If we learned anything from this year’s national election it’s that you really can’t believe anything the national media tells you.  Sadly, this has brought about so-called “fake news,” but it also must make you question everything you’ve been told by the media about what’s been happening in North Carolina and the consequences for that state’s economy.  The reality is, North Carolina’s economy is booming while Virginia’s remains stagnant and continues to rely too heavily on the federal government. 

Virginia’s lawmakers are likely to use the potential defeat of Governor McCrory as reason enough not to defend and protect the privacy and safety of women and children in Virginia.  They’ll conveniently argue that such efforts will make Virginia less “welcoming” to business and hurt our economy.  In doing so, they will have fallen for the media-driven narrative that makes their fear of taking a stand seem reasonable.  The Virginia media and editorial pages will provide all the assistance they need, and they’ll all pat themselves on the back for their pragmatism and vision.  But they’ll be wrong, and consequently, jobs will continue to flow to North Carolina instead of our Commonwealth, and the privacy and dignity of women and children will be sacrificed.