Dick saslaw

Quote Of The Day: Yesterday

Things move fast at the General Assembly and we don't always have time to post the Quote of the Day, especially since we witness so many good ones. Add in social media, where lawmakers are disbursing their wit, wisdom and snark minute to minute, we're overwhelmed in the humor that lightens the often tense debate. But we couldn't resist revisiting yesterday's tweet from Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), our first-ever QOD via social media, on the reaction (or lack of) Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) to the birthday card he received from the Senate's pages. The gruff, shoot-from-the-lip, say-anything Northern Virginia liberal was nearly moved to tears and admitted, "I'm speechless. Imagine that!" That it itself was worthy of QOD status, until the senator from The Valley retorted via Twitter:

QOD Obenshain

Senator Dick Saslaw in rare form: speechless. 

Senator Saslaw set up the tweet by appearing to be a little emotional as he accepted his gift from the pages, and said, "I don't know what to say," at which point his colleagues applauded sarcastically, before he sputtered out, "Thought you'd never hear that." Alas, the goodwill lasted all of a few hours, as the sharp tongues came out again during the transportation plan debate — and we still have three weeks to go.

Who's Wasting Time And Not Dealing With The "Real Issues"?

One thing we hear often is that the General Assembly needs to work on "real issues," such as job creation, and stop "wasting time" on social issues; that Virginia's lawmakers must focus on their most important job — the budget. If so, then why are the same Senate liberals who say the legislative session's focus should be on the economy, blocking adoption of a budget? They aren't even willing to pass a Senate budget as a means to get to a conference committee with the House and work out differences. Twice, they've blocked a budget bill from advancing. Since the Constitution of Virginia requires 21 senators' approval to pass a budget, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling cannot break a tie. In fact, it doesn't even need to get to 20-20, as long as there are not more than 20 "yeas" as was the case on the 20-19 vote that none-the-less sank the Senate budget a couple of weeks ago. The missing vote was that of freshman Senator Barbara Favola (D-31, Arlington), who skipped the proceedings to do an interview on MSNBC about (drum roll, please) social issues! Was she doing the people's business or "wasting time"?

So, who's obstructing resolution of the "real issues"? Who's "wasting time"? The day each chamber presents its budget the chambers entertain floor amendments before the final up-or-down vote. There are dozens of floor amendments, each with the requisite questions of the patron, debate, parliamentary inquiry and vote. The Republican controlled Senate accepted almost all (if not all) of the Democrat sponsored amendments, a process that took considerable time and lasted late into the afternoon, delaying committee hearings into the evening. After all that work and all those accepted budget amendments, Senate Democrats still blocked passage of the budget. What was the purpose of offering all the amendments if they were still going to block the budget? Sounds like a "waste of time" that lasted a lot longer than any debate on a "social issue."

Days later, Senate Democrats, voting as a bloc of 20, put the kibosh on the House budget, even though it had come over with bipartisan support. Apparently, there were no interviews with left wing media that day. But they also had no interest in working (key word) to amend it to their satisfaction. If it's not about interviews or grandstanding, it's not worth their time. Who is obstructing the resolution of the "real issues"? Who is "wasting time"? And over what?

First it was about budget cuts, but all knew, including every editorial page in the commonwealth, that it was about committee assignments and power, a power they lost in the election despite favorably redrawn districts. Then the already thin veil had a wardrobe malfunction when Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) said it was all about parity on the Education and Health Committee (see Bearing Drift).

(Education and Health is where all pro-life issues are referred to in the Senate. Senator Saslaw, who is known for his bombast, two years ago in that committee ridiculed a large bipartisan vote on a House pro-life bill, saying delegates told him they only voted for it because they knew "we'd kill it over here," which no one believed and was an astonishing impugning of motives of fellow legislators. This year, knowing those bills would pass the Senate, these same delegates still voted for pro-life bills.)

Now, according to Senator Charles Colgan (D-29, Prince William) in a floor speech today, it's all about raising taxes. (Lose an election, raise voters' taxes? Sounds like retribution rather than "working" to help struggling families in a tough economy.)

Whether it's sour grapes or wanting to inflict pain on Virginia taxpayers, Senate Democrats, for once candidly speaking, have cornered themselves into not-very-enviable positions. Who wants to run on that platform?

We are two days away from session's end. Senate liberals still have not agreed to help pass a budget. By their own words, approving one is the most important job they have, especially in a challenging economy. Despite the eight weeks they've had to sort out differences, they continue to play games over the power they lost in November. We face deadlines for local governments to fund schools, police and fire fighters; to build or repave roads; for state agencies to continue vital services; for economic development incentives to be put into place; for healthcare — all the essential tools to maintain Virginia's place as the best managed state and best state for business.

So, we ask again: Who is obstructing work on the "real issues"? Who is "wasting time"?

Breaking News: Lt. Governor Bolling Demands Apology From Senate Dems Who Slammed Capitol And State Police In Floor Speeches Today

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has just released audio of his answer to a question at a news conference today, where he let loose on Senate Democrats who criticized Virginia State and Capitol Police for their handling of Saturday afternoon's Capitol Square pro-abortion protest (see Richmond Times-Dispatch article and pictures). This afternoon, after the Senate concluded its business, several Democrats asked for a return to the "Morning Hour" — the time before bills are debated and voted upon at the beginning of each floor session, where speakers can address any subject at length, from introducing constituents or school groups in the gallery to addressing an issue or bill in general terms. The return to Morning Hour is a pro forma event, but what followed was not. In an unprecedented move, Democrat Senators Chap Peterson, Janet Howell (who woodenly read from a prepared statement) and Dick Saslaw (all of Northern Virginia), and Donald McEachin (from the Richmond area) verbally went after those who protect them on a daily basis, seemingly for purely partisan, crass political reasons — to appease their rabid base.

One member described it as a "disgraceful police presence" and it made us wonder two things:

» What would they have said had there not been a police presence and events got out of control, including physical violence and/or vandalism of Capitol Square?

» What would they have said had it been pro-life activists who rallied and ignored the parameters of their permit — a rally at the bell tower, with the capitol building area off limits?

Neither of those are hypothetical, especially the latter. That's exactly what the pro-abortion rally permit allowed, as all rally permits allow. But going to the mat to preserve the pro-abortion double standard doesn't surprise us. Anything to protect the sacrament of the left — abortion.

While Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) replied in kind to the floor attack with an unusually impassioned response, Mr. Bolling said that in his 16 years at the capitol he's never heard members of the Senate attack Virginia' Law enforcement. Here's a key portion of his statement:

Those comments were over the top. I think those comments were inappropriate and I believe the senators who made those comments owe an apology to Virginia's law enforcement professionals. They owe an apology to the Capitol Police and they owe an apology to the State Police because these guys were doing their job as they saw it, and none of us have a right to put ourselves in their position if we weren't there and if we don't know all the facts and if you don't know what they did. And that's why it is important that you talk to the head of the Capitol Police, you talk to the head of the State Police and get all the facts. ... Everybody has a right to protest. Nobody has a right to violate the law.

Click here to listen to the entire sound byte, which lasts 1:42. 

Not So Pretty In Pink

As summer draws to a close, and November's crucial state Senate elections approach, pro-abortion groups are recognizing that their long term control of the all-important Senate Education and Health Committee may soon slip from their grasp. Ed and Health, referred to by Planned Parenthood in a recent email as its "saving grace," has, according to committee member and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, killed nearly 80 pro-life bills in recent years (see Washington Post). Anyone who has attended an Ed and Health meeting knows how antagonistic some committee members can be to pro-life advocates. All of which would explain NARAL and Planned Parenthood's recent endorsements of Ed and Health Chairman, Senator Edd Houck. Now, Planned Parenthood is organizing phone banks throughout September and October to drive out abortion supporters in Senator Houck's district. Houck, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican Bryce Reeves. In a recent e-mail Planned Parenthood encouraged the "power of pink" to help get Senator Houck reelected.

As chair of Ed and Health, Senator Houck has voted against every pro-life measure brought before the committee, including legislation allowing women to view an ultrasound prior to their abortion and reasonable abortion center safety regulations.  When regulations finally passed the General Assembly this year Senator Houck referred to it as "A terrible tragedy." To pass the bill, we had to use legislative maneuvers to bypass Senator Houck's committee.

To his credit, Senator Houck has directed the atmosphere of the committee in a professional way during his tenure, quite the opposite of former committee chair Russ Potts, who publically relished killing pro-life bills and ridiculing pro-life leaders. Instead of using the sledgehammer approach of Russ Potts, Senator Houck prefers using a scalpel. The results are the same, it's just less painful.

It seems clear that pro-abortion groups are planning to spend a lot of money and do all they can to keep control of the Education and Health Committee. They've already placed staff in the field and now are working to protect pro-abortion candidates. Pro-life Virginians need to be aware, just as pro-abortion advocates are, that the future of pro-life legislation in Virginia hangs in the balance this November.

Paid for by The Family Foundation Action.

BREAKING NEWS: Game On! Justice Department Approves New General Assembly Districts!

The uncertainty officially is over. After weeks of legislative back and forth, a gubernatorial veto, empty trash talk by Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (which he meekly caved on, incurring wrath from his own left-wing), forced Senate negotiations between majority Democrats and minority Republicans, predictions of unelected judges eventually drawing the lines themselves, and, finally, districts almost everyone can live with, Virginia's newly redrawn General Assembly districts were approved by the U.S. Justice Department per the Voting Rights Act. Now, with everything in place, the campaigns can begin in earnest! Here's the news release just released by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announcing the news:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced this afternoon that he has received notice from the U.S. Department of Justice that it has approved Virginia’s state legislative redistricting plan as submitted on May 11. The approval means that all redrawn Virginia Senate and House of Delegates districts have been approved and can be used in the upcoming primaries and November general elections.

Cuccinelli said, “Obviously we are pleased by the Department of Justice’s determination that the state legislative redistricting plan passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor complies with the Voting Rights Act. We have believed from the beginning of this process that Virginia complied with all legal and constitutional requirements in adopting the new district lines, and the decision of the Department of Justice simply confirms that belief.

"Credit goes to the members of the General Assembly for working diligently to draft a compliant redistricting plan as quickly as they did. Credit also goes to Governor McDonnell for his leadership on this issue. Finally, credit goes to the Department of Justice for reviewing and approving the plan as quickly as they did. By issuing a decision in 37 days, the Justice Department has insured that the 2011 state legislative primaries and elections will occur as currently scheduled with little or no complications from the redistricting process. That is not only good news for the political parties and candidates, but it is good news for voters in the commonwealth, who will be able to go to the polls focused on the issues of the day rather than issues related to redistricting."

Abortion Industry Opposes Safety, Loses Case It Brought Against Its Own Standards

Last week, in a victory for women's rights, abortion center regulations that were passed into law more than a decade ago finally went into effect in Arizona when a court there ruled the law constitutional (see Americans United for Life blog). It took that long because of an irony only the abortion industry could engineer: Pro-abortion groups sued Arizona to stop the law — even though the language in the law used Planned Parenthood's and the National Abortion Federation's own suggested safety regulations! The same people who claimed they had standards of care didn't want to be held accountable to their very own standards! For several years The Family Foundation has advocated for common sense standards of care for women who go to abortion centers in Virginia. These facilities essentially are unregulated, viewed as doctor's offices by state regulators, instead of as the outpatient surgery centers they are.

Of course, the abortion industry, led by the $1 billion behemoth Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU have  fought desperately against even the simplest of regulations, such as licensing and inspections of abortion centers, and a requirement to have resuscitation equipment on premises.

In recent years, opponents to safety have championed the so-called NAF standards as proof that no state regulations are needed. A thorough review of NAF's "standards," however, reveals that they are even less protective than the one requirement we do have in Virginia — that a doctor must perform the abortion procedure. Incredibly, NAF would allow nurses to perform this invasive surgery. (With fewer doctors willing to perform abortions, the industry is getting desperate.)

Arizona's new regulations include a proposal that The Family Foundation  also has supported, that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at an accredited, local hospital. Decent medical care requires that a doctor performing a surgery should have some responsibility for follow up care should something go wrong. This is the very least we can do to ensure women’s health. Again, this proposal has not seen support in the General Assembly.

The Arizona regulations were instituted after a woman died at an abortion center due to substandard care — the doctor involved was convicted of manslaughter in the case! Sadly, the death of a woman in Virginia a few years ago resulted in no outrage from women's advocates in the General Assembly. In fact, it met with a shrug and "no" votes against better standards. Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) shouted "That [death] has been beaten to death here" during debate over abortion center safety in one Senate Education and Health Committee meeting.

However, there may be hope in the future, given a recent legal opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The Family Foundation once again will support abortion center safety standards in the upcoming 2011 General Assembly session. We owe it to the women of Virginia.

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.

General Assembly Leaves Richmond While Leaving Planned Parenthood Big Winner

When the General Assembly session closed Sunday, Planned Parenthood ended up one of the session's biggest winners. Despite efforts in the House of Delegates to deny it from benefiting financially from a "pro-choice" license plate, a conference committee recommended that it should, and the legislation easily passed both chambers Saturday. While license plates usually pass the assembly with few "no" votes, there were several members in each chamber who simply would not vote for a bill that benefited Planned Parenthood. Now this omnibus license plate bill goes to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature, veto or amendments. In addition, the General Assembly yesterday sent a state budget to the governor's desk that does not prohibit taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. It also does not include prohibitions on taxpayer funding of failed embryonic stem cell research and low-income elective abortions. All in all, a good weekend for the nation’s billion-dollar abortion behemoth.

On the license plate, according to media reports, it appears that some in the legislature were intimidated by the ACLU’s threat to sue if Planned Parenthood didn’t get the money from the plate. Courts have ruled that if one viewpoint is allowed on a license plate (i.e., "Choose Life") than the opposite viewpoint must be allowed (in this case, "Trust Women, Respect Choice"). Courts have not, however, ruled on the issue of funding from the license plates. Nowhere in this session’s legislative process was the message of Planned Parenthood’s plate an issue — except for some members who weren’t going to vote for the plate regardless of the courts! Instead, it always, as ever with Planned Parenthood, was about the money.

Unfortunately, once the Planned Parenthood plate was attached to legislation that included several other license plates, it was going to pass. Planned Parenthood and its cronies in the legislature were willing to allow every other license plate (including one that would fund a program that helps feed children) to be defeated in order to get their way. If pro-life legislators had held out, you can imagine the headlines: Anti-abortion legislators kill funding for children.

On the other hand, the General Assembly passed its FY 2011-2012 state budget. Considering the weeping and gnashing of teeth we’ve heard for the past several months over the growing "budget deficit," it was amazing that the legislature finished its work just one day late. According to media reports, the two-year $70 billion budget takes the state back to 2006 spending levels. While we are pleased that the budget does not include any direct tax increases on Virginia’s families, we are disappointed that simple language protecting the taxpayer from funding unethical activities was not included.

Once again, Senate Democrats such as Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) and Janet Howell (D-32, Reston) were willing to put the entire commonwealth at risk by blocking a budget that included those protections. Just waiting for it to happen were headline writers and editorial page editors who would have ripped those legislators willing to stand on a pro-life principle.

But the battle isn’t over. These bills now await action by the governor. Over the next several days we will put together a comprehensive action plan for how you can make sure that your voice is heard — and heard loudly — during the veto process concerning the continued taxpayer funding of unethical activities by your state government.

Pro-Life Budget Amendment Decisions This Week

We are in the final week of the 2010 Virginia General Assembly session, and legislators now are making decisions regarding the state budget. It is critical that your delegate and senator hear from you concerning budget amendments defunding Planned Parenthood, elective abortions and embryonic stem cell research. They are scheduled to vote on the budget in the next few days! In today’s financial climate, it is even more essential that these publicly unsupported issues causing the destruction of human life not be financially backed by a fiscally failing government. Here's a rundown on three budget amendments:

Banning Planned Parenthood Funding: This amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of the radical pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood. In its last fiscal report, this organization reported a budget of over $1 billion! During this decade, Virginia taxpayers have sent nearly $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, one of the most partisan organizations in our nation. They do not need your money! And of course, Planned Parenthood is responsible for nearly a quarter of the abortions that take place in our nation. In fact, as the national abortion rate is declining, the number of abortions taking place in Planned Parenthood clinics continues to rise.

Banning Funding for Elective Abortions: Incredibly, in 2006 and 2007, Virginia tax dollars directly funded 322 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.

Banning Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research: This amendment, patroned by Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights), prohibits taxpayer funding of research that requires the destruction of human embryos and is consistent with other amendments placed on legislation funding research in Virginia. Embryonic stem cell research has failed, while adult stem cell research has produced dozens of treatments and cures.

In past years, several Senate budget negotiators, in particular Senators Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), Janet Howell (D-32, Reston) and Edd Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania), have refused to include similar amendments in the final budget. Incredibly, they have gone so far as to threaten to break off budget talks — threatening the entire state government and all its services — to keep the money flowing to Planned Parenthood and these other issues. They must be asked: When teachers and social services organizations are screaming because of budget "cuts," how can they funnel money to partisan organizations and failed research?

Please contact your delegate and senator immediately and urge them to support budget amendments prohibiting taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, embryonic stem cell research and elective abortions.

If you know who they are, you can get their contact info here for delegates and here for senators, or to look up Senators Saslaw, Howell and Houck. If you don't know who your delegate and senator are, click here.

Questions And Answers Regarding The Virginia Senate

After all the reporting we've done this week on SB 504, Senator Ralph Smith's (R-22, Roanoke) coerced abortion bill, and the Senate's mischief with it, the in-box has been flooded and the phone lines burned up with questions. We are grateful for your interest and for your desire to get involved. With all the interest, we decided to compile a FAQ list, of sorts. Here goes:   Who hires the Clerk of the Senate?

Mrs. Susan Schaar is the Clerk of the Senate and has held that office since 1990. According to Senate Rule 8a:

A Clerk of the Senate shall be elected by the Senate for a term of four years and shall thereafter continue in office until another is chosen.

Among the Clerk’s duties are the maintenance of all Senate records and the referral of bills to committees. In different circumstances, we would provide you with Mrs. Schaar’s contact information and ask for you to contact her to encourage judicious bill referrals. However, since Mrs. Schaar is not elected by the populace and instead is elected by the Senate — and instructed to strictly follow its rules — contacting her to encourage changes to bill referrals is not the most appropriate course of action.

When can "the rule" be changed?

According to Rule 54 of the Senate, the Senate rules are adopted at the beginning of the first General Assembly session upon the election of the Senate. The Rules were last adopted in January 2008. Amendments can be made any year; however, January 2012 is the next year rules will be adopted.

What can I do?

Contacting legislators really does make a difference. In the past, we’ve seen that even as few as two or three e-mails or calls from constituents can cause a legislator to reconsider his or her vote. Concerning this bill, there are two things you can do:

1. Contact the Senate Courts of Justice Committee members (see below). Thank those who supported SB 504 for their principled stand for life. For those who opposed SB 504, let them know that you were monitoring this bill and that you were disappointed with their vote.

2. Contact the Senate Education and Health Committee members (click here) and encourage them to support SB 504.

How can I express thanks/disappointment to senators on their SB 504 vote?

Below are the names and contact information for the Senators on the full Senate Courts of Justice committee. E-mailing or calling is the best way to contact these senators to express your thanks or disappointment.

Senators to thank for voting to add penalties for coerced abortion:

Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), district13@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7513

Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg), district03@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7503

Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), district20@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7520

Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), district26@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7526

Ryan McDougle (R-4, Mechanicsville), district04@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7504

Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham), district19@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7519

Senators voting against adding penalties for coerced abortion:

Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond), district16@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7516

Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), district25@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7535

Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), district32@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7532

Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth), district18@senate.virginia.gov, 804-98-7518

John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), district21@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7521

Toddy Puller (D-36, Mount Vernon), district36@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7536

Creigh Deeds (D-25, Charlottesville), district25@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7525

Don McEachin (D-9, Richmond), district09@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7509

Chap Petersen (D-34, Fairfax) , district34@senate.virginia.gov, 804-698-7526

Quote Of The Day

Today's quote happened yesterday — and it's not particularly humorous, either. More like revealing. Which is great because there is a lot of humor around this place, so it's nice to have a change of pace. Tomorrow, which is expected to be a very light day here — afternoon committee meetings are cancelled so members can get home ahead of the forecasted snow — and Friday's are slow anyway with the floor sessions starting at 10:00 a.m. instead of noon, I'll have some hysterical stuff said today. But here goes: Yesterday in the lobby of the General Assembly Building, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) was holding court with several people huddled around him. Not sure if they were constituents, lobbyists or representatives of an organization on a "lobby day." But he said this to them:

I spoke with Speaker Howell yesterday and asked him: Is there any bill in the General Assembly that is not a battle? Because if there is one, I haven't seen it.

Now, one can take that as meaning the majority leader is pining for some easy bills and lovey-dovey bipartisanship. Which is understandable. (In fact, there are plenty of uncontested bills each day on each chamber's floor.) Or, you can take it as the majority leader saying he really doesn't think people should debate and fight over the issues and ideas facing our commonwealth and in which they believe.

Take your pick on your interpretation. Either way, they are interesting words from a man who's taken a slender two-seat majority and hammered out super majority committee ratios. Gee, I wonder why there are such battles, senator.

Campbell County Mother Murders Newborn, Time For Virginia Senate To Act!

As we draw closer to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, a story out of Campbell County has drawn outrage from across the nation, and reveals just how far we have fallen in our culture in defense of abortion on demand: A baby allegedly was murdered by its mother moments after it was born, but because the child was still attached by the umbilical cord, under Virginia law, it is not considered a "separate life." Thus, no charges will be filed. In the words of one investigator:

In the state of Virginia as long as the umbilical cord is attached and the placenta is still in the mother, if the baby comes out alive the mother can do whatever she wants to with that baby to kill it. She could shoot the baby, stab the baby. As long as it’s still attached to her in some form by umbilical cord or something it’s no crime in the state of Virginia.

You can read more about this disturbing case here, from WSLS.com. It's also received national attention, including this, from the blog Hot Air, here.

The Family Foundation worked with Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk) during the 2007 and 2008 sessions of the General Assembly to fix the law regarding a case where a mother shot herself in the stomach on the day her unborn child was due to be delivered. That legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Delegates (see new 2010 member contact information) on two occasions but was defeated both times in the Senate Education and Health committee.

These are the members of the Senate Education and Health committee who are so extreme in their defense of abortion that they voted against legislation that would make it a crime for someone to kill their child in this way: Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth), Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), Maime Locke (D-2, Hampton), George Barker (D-39, Alexandria), Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk), John Miller (D-1, Newport News). Committee Chairman Edd Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania) did not vote on the legislation. (Click on the links to get their contact information. Click here to see our General Assembly Report Card on their votes.)

Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Lynchburg) and Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) will introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly session that once again will attempt to fix this "loophole" and make it a crime to murder a nearly born or newborn child. We must remember, however, that there are many in our General Assembly who, like our president, apparently believe it is perfectly reasonable for a mother to take the life of a newborn child if it protects the sacred "right" to abortion. How else can one explain their voting records? If we can’t fix this and protect the lives of those children born alive, God help us.

Now, here's an important, coincidental, side note to all this: A new policy in effect just this week by the Senate of Virginia (contact clerk, here) blocks all e-mail from non-constituents that come through action alert programs. We are reviewing the legality of this, but you can contact these senators by e-mailing, calling or faxing them directly. We hope you will do just that and urge them to support legislation during 2010 that will ensure that this type of murder does not happen again. When you do, please:

» Mention the Campbell county story; you could even include a news link.

» Remind them that they voted against legislation in 2008 (HB 1126) that dealt with similar circumstances.

» Tell them they will vote on legislation fixing this situation in 2010 and you expect them to vote in favor of it and will hold them accountable for their vote!

Deeds Going Through Religious Experience

Not exactly. But this week Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds has thrown his fourth Hail Mary by my count. First, his lackluster campaign — a candidate whose idea of a solution to any problem is "to work together with the General Assembly" and who ducks hot issues such as cap-and-trade, card check, FOCA and nationalized health care, richly deserves the "lackluster" moniker — ran the abortion play. Sacked! Then came the "Bob McDonnell is George Bush" play. Sacked! Of course, there's the thesis play, as complicated as Al Groh's three-quarterback-spread-offense and not nearly as effective, especially since Deeds voted for the Marriage Amendment twice and has displayed his own views against (his words) "special rights" for homosexuals. Now, Deeds is running radio ads claiming that McDonnell is a tax increaser, despite the fact that Deeds has voted for almost any bill that would have raised any tax over the last eight years, including the 2004 record $1.4 billion tax increase. He also backed each one of the Tim Kaine/Dick Saslaw tax increase proposals, including a $1.015 billion increase that would have raised gas taxes ever year for five years when gas was near $3.00 a gallon (SB 713/2008).It would have cost Virginia families as much as $624 more per year in year five. 

All hypocrisy aside, if McDonnell is a Bush clone and Bush cut taxes (which ruined the economy, according to Deeds) where is Deeds' logic? According to Deeds, tax increases are good! That's why he's proposing another one if elected! Besides, if Deeds wants to throw federal issues into the race, shouldn't he answer to the above policies his party is pushing in Washington (including cap-and-trade which would shut down the largest employer in his senate district)?

Seems to me that Senator Deeds, instead of throwing Hail Mary's, should be praying them instead.

If Only Wagner's Revenue Projections Were As "Clear," Or, A Campaign Without Communication . . . Yet!

If you haven't heard it by now, and you want a good laugh, listen to Democrat lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner's interview this morning with WRVA's Richmond's Morning News host Jimmy Barrett (click here). Barrett gets right to the point and asks the former Kaine administration finance secretary about her missed revenue projections, which have resulted in consecutive budget deficits and multiple budget cuts. I'll give her some credit for her answer — she's at least learned something from the Obama administration, and that's the one thing it's good at: blame, blame and pass the buck, with a litany of boilerplate liberal excuses:

» It was the Bush administration's fault (at least twice);

» At least Virginia isn't as bad off as some other states (that'll make people feel secure);

» Passed the buck to economic forecasting agencies, business leaders and groups, and General Assembly leaders (how about that, Dick Saslaw?);

» But the 6.6 percent revenue growth projection in a slowing economy never gave her pause, even as many in the General Assembly warned the Kaine administration it was too high (she emphatically was "not overly optimistic"); and 

» Repeatedly said, "Let's be clear," (to the point where Barrett mockingly repeated it himself).

Not to mention her defensiveness when Barrett tried to loft her a softball about her campaign — she thought he was trying to blame her for the recession, for which she blamed George W. Bush (again).

All these excuses inevitably led to contradictions. Follow this bit of illogic: If it's the federal government's fault when things are bad, she must then credit it when things are good; if so, we have no reason for state government. So why is she running? She also got defensive when Barrett mentioned the recession came into focus a year ago, and rudely interrupted him to say she wasn't in office then, as well as when he simply asked how forecasts might be improved in the future.

But we still haven't heard the classics from her! Here goes:

On the grossly inaccurate revenue forecasts: 

"If I'm powerful enough to be personally responsible for that, then you want me to be your lieutenant governor."

Then, the absolute best for last: On the Public Policy Poll (a liberal pollster) that shows all three Democrats behind by double digits:

"The Democratic candidates have not yet begun communicating with the public yet and we will be doing that as the campaign moves along." 

So, that entire primary thing back in June was a what? Those television ads she ran . . . ? Those campaign appearances and interviews . . . ?

There you have it. It has nothing to do with her previous job performance, but that she and her ticket mates haven't yet communicated with the public. Don't worry, though. They plan on it. But with interviews like this, Ms. Wagner may want to delay that communication as long as possible.

Who Says Bloggers Can't Fill The Gap?

Hopefully, you've perused the March 3 News Stand. In it, I bring to readers' attention an article by The Washington Post's Marc Fisher who laments that economic downsizing has led to a reduction in media coverage of state government in Richmond and Annapolis. Among the Mainstream Media, he notes, several newspapers have reduced the number of reporters at the capitols, about half as many in Virginia as there used to be, and that only one Virginia television station still maintains a bureau in capitol square. Alas, he maintains, despite the explosion of new media —blogs in particular — it isn't enough to fill the gaps left by the reduction of full-time journalists. Says who? While we won't be pretentious enough to claim bloggers fill the exact same role as political beat journalists, especially the old-fashioned five W's objective reporters — those days disappeared along with the buggy whip manufacturers anyway — we can say, speaking for ourselves, that bloggers have more than replaced what passed for electronic media coverage of the legislature. Never more than sound byte "journalism," exactly how much depth do viewers get from one- and two-minute television reports, or 30-second updates on radio?  

Perhaps Mr. Fisher should have looked at our blog during session (see Capitol Square Diary) and our YouTube page. Everyone should. At last count we had 23 videos posted there, almost all concerning the General Assembly, and many of them from committee hearings. Not five- or 10-second sound bytes, but full testimonies and questions and answers between committee members and witnesses, not to mention the committee votes. Ahh, the votes.

Often what passes for news coverage of devious parliamentary gimmicks that kill bills without the legislators going on record is the media's complyingly innocuous, "the bill died in committee." But how? We show you! Which is something, that no matter how many television or radio station bureaus there are, never seems to be told. We don't let the politicians escape, unlike the Mainstream Media. I'm not sure why Mr. Fisher doesn't think that's laudable.

The fact is, the new media is here and will continue to grow in outlets as well as users, evolve in its delivery mechanisms (we were just getting used to blogs, then Facebook, when Twitter came around), and increase in importance. If that's to the Mainstream Media's demise, so be it. But if the MSM is at least partly responsible for its own demise for its complacency in  seeing the future, it surely is fully responsible for its diminishing presence by its lack of depth of coverage and its flat-out distortations of its coverage of politics and policy.

Apparently, what matters most to MSM apologists is numbers — after all, what can legitimize the biased MSM other than to say tens of thousands read their publications or watch their broadcasts? It certainly isn't in the quality or depth of coverage. But the velocity of change in information consumption is happening faster than a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. So new media audience numbers will grow in time. Of course, expecting the MSM to acknowledge that is like expecting them to cover a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. It rarely, if ever, happens.

When Do Liberals Love Big Oil?

If it's not the liberal enemy number one, "Big Oil" certainly must be in the Left's top five. But yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) played not only played "Big Oil" cheerleader, but also Secretary of State in the Senate Finance Committee. Which leads to another question: When do liberals advocate military intervention? Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) introduced SB 1545, which would force the Virginia Retirement System to divest of holdings in foreign companies that do business with Iran until it disarms it nuclear capabilities. Under U.S. law, American companies are barred from doing business with Iran, so there is no conflict there.

Senator Blevins had an expert foreign policy witness, who has advised the previous five presidents, and top pentagon officials and officers who clearly showed Senator Saslaw out of his depth. Saslaw kept asking how can lil' ol' Virginny, with $20 million worth of said investments, have any affect on Iran.

The expert said repeatedly, it isn't Virginia alone. It's 14 other states undertaking this measure, and about 30 other points in a comprehensive plan, almost all that the federal government must undertake. This was Virginia's piece, he said. Cumulatively, all 30-plus points would have an affect. Undaunted, the majority leader pressed him and deduced two points on his own, which he must think are brilliant:

1. We cannot divest of foreign companies doing business with Iran because about the only foreign companies that do business with Iran are oil companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and oil stocks are one of the few that are doing well. (Translation: Money over principle, always.)

2. The only way Iran will disarm its nuclear program is when Israel does it for them, citing its action against Iraq's nuclear plant in 1981 and a Syrian facility several months ago. (Translation: Better to put an ally's future at risk than for us to do the moral thing now.)

So, there you have it. Big oil bad, except when it's in the VRS investment fund; and military action good, but only if it's Israel doing the work we won't do. An interesting take, to say the least.

T-Mac Was In The House

None other than Terry McAuliffe was in the GAB yesterday. I saw this familiar face standing by himself by the elevator on the 4th floor, I think. After that second or two of recognition focus it takes to remember who this person is you've seen before, but not in this context, it hit me. So I went up to him. Our conversation went something like this: admin: Mr. McAuliffe, my name is Steve (last name witheld for security reasons), it's nice to meet you in person after seeing you all these years on "Hannity and Colmes."

T-Mac: Nice, to see you again. (We've never met.)

admin: So, you're making the rounds, huh?

T-Mac: Yes. So what do you Steve?

admin: I lobby for The Family Foundation.

T-Mac: Great! (Then, with concern in his voice) How are you guys doing? Are you getting cut, too?

At that point, I realized, he really needs to bone up on his Virginia politics. He thinks we are a charity group getting our state grants cut. I wanted to put him on and say, "You know, we are. Can you ask some of the Democrat senators you meet with today if they could cut The Family Foundation a break?"

But if I did, it would cost him the nomination. Instead, we talked about "Hannity and Colmes," Alan Colmes' upcoming new show, and the big new contracts signed by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

But can you imagine T-Mac asking Dick Saslaw if he could help restore some funding to The Family Foundation?

Social Networks And TFF

Social networking was one of the absolute strengths of Barack Obama's campaign for president. Understanding the new ways that the next generation communicates was key to his ability to reach and mobilize younger voters like no candidate in history. Using tools like Facebook (register for TFF page), MySpace, YouTube (see TFF page) and Twitter (see TFF page) is critical to getting a message out and, frankly, bypassing some in the Mainstream Media who can be antagonistic to our efforts.

The Family Foundation is joining this new media revolution once again. In 2007 we launched familyfoundation.org, which quickly became one of the most read political blogs in Virginia. 

Now, we are pleased to announce we are accelerating our move into the New Media. We have started Facebook and YouTube pages and are offering Twitter updates during the 2009 General Assembly Session (click on the links above to register).

Twitter is an opportunity for you to receive short, concise minute-by-minute updates of what is happening in the General Assembly. You won't have to wait for the "News at Six," or even for a more detailed blog update (which, by the way, we will also provide — faster than any other blog in Virginia).

You will hear the latest Dick Saslaw "foot-in-mouth" incident while the words are still hanging in the air! You will know the votes before they are recorded by the committee staff. You will hear the inside of the inside of the debate, political maneuvering and policymaking.

All in 140 words or less (wow, that is a big challenge).

To sign up for our "Tweets," simply click here.

Also, join the Friends of The Family Foundation Facebook Page. This is another place where you can network with other like-minded citizens. If you don't have your own Facebook page, you must register first (click here or above).

Perhpaps the most fun, especially for those who thrive on information and news, especially that which isn't covered by the Mainstream Media, is YouTube. There's no registeration involved. Simply click here (or above) to go to our new YouTube page and see videos by and about The Family Foundation and issues we work hard to advance. We already have several more to add, which we will do soon. We guarantee this will be a robust page, augmented by this blog. (If you haven't noticed, we like posting videos here, so the two sites are natural complements.)

We also plan to videotape 2009 General Assembly committee debates and then make relevant portions available here and on our YouTube page (we have our own videotaping capabilities now). This way you can watch, listen and see for yourself some of the things our opposition says and does, but which rarely gets reported. As they say, "If only more people knew." We aim to make sure more people will.

All of this effort is to ensure that you are a more informed citizen, and thus better prepared when you contact your legislators and when you vote. We hope you will be part of our new media and social networking efforts. A more connected grassroots via networking gets the word on events and news faster from blogs and YouTube, and soon, the public at large knows and the MSM can't ignore the story anymore.

We look forward to providing more opportunities like these to keep you instantly informed and active in your government and its policies that affect you and your families.

The Great Divide

The MSM in Virginia is today talking up a Virginia Commonwealth University poll taken recently that provides some "surprising" results in light of the upcoming special Tax Session of the General Assembly. According to the poll, the issue the general public says should be the top priority of state government is, drum roll please — not transportation.

Its public education. Followed by jobs. Followed by the environment.

Oh, then comes transportation — nearly tied with illegal immigration.

Now, the environment, transportation and immigration are really in a statistical dead heat, but given all the political rhetoric concerning the "transportation crisis" one would think it would top the list. And while politicians in Virginia scramble for "solutions" to the "crisis" as they prepare to invade Richmond next month, Virginians don't appear to be on the same page — either with the level of concern or the with ways to fix whatever problem exists. 

Now, one can argue over the implications of any poll. And taking this one too far and ignoring transportation altogether would not be a smart move either. 

Yet, the divide between our elected officials and the concerns of citizens seems to grow each and every day. Anyone who has spent time in Richmond knows how quickly legislators can lose touch with what people really care about. Too often their only information comes from "special interests" (oh yeah, we be one of 'um) and the media. In the case of transportation there are two clear drivers — much of the business community in Virginia who are once again pushing tax increases on consumers, and politicians who simply want more revenue to spend (Dick Saslaw are you listening?) and will use any issue to push higher taxes. Citizens are not behind the wheel of this one (OK, enough with the puns).

But as we've said in previous posts: The June 23 special session isn't really about transportation. It is about taxes — more specifically, raising them. The revenue increases that will result are in no way promised to future road repair or building. They will just mean more money for politicians to spend on the next "crisis."

And the Great Divide gets even wider.