Richmond Times-Dispatch

Manufactured Abortion Outrage

You have probably heard by now that state Senator Steve Martin has found himself in a bit of a brouhaha over a comment he made on Facebook over the weekend. And while the fact that a Facebook comment merits news coverage at all is an indictment on Western civilization in and of itself, the manufactured hysterical reaction of the abortion industry to sarcasm — yes, sarcasm — is simply fascinating. Our friends at Bearing Drift have a couple of takes on "MartinGate" here and here. Both are good reads. It is interesting that the abortion industry recognizes someone who is pregnant is a "mother," the definition of "mother" implying parenthood, which, of course, requires the existence of a child. As in the unborn child.

But I'm more interested in the fact that the abortion and gay rights obsessed Richmond Times Dispatch jumped all over the abortion industry's press release and ran with it. Apparently, an abortion industry press release about a sarcastic Facebook post earns a story in that once proud newspaper.  But over the past three years, not a single story can be found in the Richmond Times Dispatch that examines the abortion centers in Richmond that had multiple health and safety violations — all of which was shared with the RT-D through numerous press releases. You know, the unsanitary conditions, the lack of safety policies, the ownership of one Richmond center by someone who has had abortion centers shut down by health officials in other states. Nope, not a word in the old RT-D.

It's a shame. There are some good reporters at the RT-D, people who work hard and do their jobs well. But I really have to wonder why they (or is it the editors?) are so animated by the abortion industry being "offended" by a Facebook comment, and so uninterested in women being put in danger by abortion centers in their own city.

The Lieutenant Governor Jumble And The Silent, But Crucial, Issue

It's a jumble out there. Maybe a jungle, too, with about 10,000 delegates crammed in the Richmond Coliseum tomorrow at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention (not to mention circulating tonight through the city's downtown at no less than 12 parties by candidates and GOP and public interest organizations). Never has there been a less predictable campaign for a party's nomination for the commonwealth's number two spot. But never has there been so much at stake with the Virginia Senate split at 20-20. (There was one somewhat similar in 1985, as I commented on here.) What to make of it all and the seven candidate jumble? A lot of organizations and web sites, who otherwise wouldn't be considered too important, have either made themselves so, or have been granted such status because in a crowded and unpredictable field, where no one can accurately gauge delegate preferences until people actually show up — and who knows who will or even can show up for an entire day and at least some evening? — candidates have to find a way to gain traction. Thus, what has been a generally clean campaign (nothing like the rear-end exam the Left will launch at the nominee starting Sunday) has become something of a He lied, She lied, They're all playing dirty affair.

The crossfire has been amusing. Candidate 1 criticizes Candidates 4 and 5 through robocalls, and maybe Candidate 3 via mail. Candidate 2 attacks Candidate 1 for that, but goes after Candidate 7. Candidate 6 claims Candidate 4 is attacking him through a front group, while Candidate 5 says certain web sites and blogs are in Candidate 2's back pocket. But in person, they all seem to get along. That was the case two weeks ago at their last debate, at Benedictine College Prep in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond City Republican Committee and other Central Virginia GOP units. (It drew, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 250 people. A Democrat debate several days later, at the completely contrasting Richmond Gay Center, only drew about 150 according to the same source.) In the holding room where they were briefed by the host committee and moderator Scott Lee (of WRVA-AM and Bearing Drift/Score Radio Network), they joked with each other and exchanged campaign anecdotes. The potential fireworks during the debate itself were limited, with each touting him- or herself. Perhaps the "offenses" being felt are coming from over zealous supporters instead?

News was made at the debate, though. For the first time ever, an obscure process issue which punches well above its weight in importance, was addressed. After a warm up question about recently read books, they were asked what reform to bring accountability to the office would they work for. After all, so many of their campaign promises are really desires, because so much of what they want to do has almost nothing to do within the powers of the office of lieutenant governor. It's a question I've put to a few of them individually, though phrased differently. Some had no clue. They all seem to know about it now.

Call it the crucial, but silent, issue, because not many are talking about it and the media isn't reporting it. It's about the power of the LG to assign bills to committee, similar to the House Speaker's power. What good is it to be the presiding officer of a legislative chamber if your have little clout? Decades ago, during the day of one party (i.e., Democrat) rule, the lieutenant governor was a liberal populist named Henry Howell. The majority thought even he was too liberal to have that authority, and stripped it away, giving it to the unelected, unaccountable senate clerk, in cooperation with the majority leader. It's one of the reasons the Senate has been the graveyard of many good bills and reforms, especially pro-life bills, where Democrat and Republican majorities have sent them to unfavorable committees that do not have a natural connection to the bills. (For example, coercive abortion is always referred to the "Committee of Death," the Education and Health Committee, rather than the Courts of Justice Committee as it is in the House.) Restoring that power to the Senate's presiding officer will make for a more responsive and accountable process. After all, what LG isnt' already running for the top job?

Pete Snyder, Senator Steve Martin, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart all brought up bill referral power as a critical reform to governing the split chamber and to advance conservative legislation that many Republican senators would just as soon see fail. Martin, Lingamfelter and Stewart even expounded on the idea and expanded upon it.

Snyder was assertive, while Stewart was assertive and passionate about ending the Senate's "graveyard" reputation by assigning bills to their rightful committees. Even though the LG has never had the power to assign members to committees as does the Speaker, Stewart went so far as to say he would use his clout as the tie-breaking vote to influence who sits on what committees (a power left to the party leaders in the Senate). Former Senator Jeanmarie Davis gave a lukewarm "I don't disagree with it" answer. Susan Stimpson and E.W. Jackson never mentioned it.

There's an old expression in Virginia politics: If you want to change Virginia, then change the Virginia Senate. Sometimes, it's not the headline grabbing issues that make the difference, just as it can be a little thing no one suspects that wins a campaign. In this case, the two may have merged. While this just reform may not happen over night, it now is part of the conversation, whereas previously, no one had ever heard of it From now on, Republicans candidates will feel the necessity  to campaign on it until it finally happens.

Urge Defeat Of Massive Tax Increase!

Yesterday, ten members of the General Assembly presented a "compromise" tax and spending proposal that includes a substantial increase in taxes and fees for a large portion of Virginia, particularly residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Facts about the plan reveal that not all the new revenue is even going to transportation.

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Among the taxes that will increase are the state's sales tax, the sales tax on car purchases, and local taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Worse, not all the new revenue will be spent on transportation. According to today's Richmond Times Dispatch:

Not all of the 0.3 percent increase in sales tax goes to transportation. Part of the overall revenue generated by the increased tax would go toward an increase in education funding and other general fund priorities.

The fact is that outside of a constitutional amendment, how Virginia spends our tax dollars can be changed every year through the budget and budget amendments. This plan is no different. In fact, the Senate today again killed, for the second time this session (as it has for years), a proposed constitutional amendment to keep transportation funding off limits to future non-transportation spending whims. So while the fiscal needs for transportation are obvious, those who argue that this plan is going to "solve the problem" of transportation in Virginia are fooling themselves.

This plan is not just a tax increase, but new across the board spending. Make no mistake, if you live in the urban crescent or plan to or need to purchase a new or used car in the future, you are going to pay higher taxes. The idea that our gas prices are going down as a result of replacing the antiquated gas tax with a wholesale gas tax are, honestly, foolish. The plan calls for the elimination of the gas tax (17.5 cents per gallon) with a wholesale gas tax increase, which proponents of the plan indicate will be the equivalent of a 10 cent per gallon tax. The consensus, however, is that the "savings" will not be passed on to the consumer, so we will continue to pay higher prices at the pump.

It's disappointing that those involved in the negotiations of this plan couldn't come up with a solution to our transportation needs that didn't include placing even more financial burden on already struggling families and small businesses in the face of even more national fiscal uncertainty. Unfortunately, there is a lack of political will in Richmond to fix one of the biggest problems we face (outside of federal mandates that continue to destroy our state economy) — an antiquated and irresponsible public school funding formula that costs billions of dollars for more and more administration and fewer teachers. There's no doubt that the issues faced are complex and difficult, but this plan is simply not the best solution for Virginia's families.

Please contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) immediately and urge them to vote against the tax increase!

Watch What The Media Doesn't Want You To See . . .

Yesterday was the midpoint of the 2013 General Assembly session, and a lot has happened so far this year. Some of it you may have read about in the newspaper or seen on the news, but a lot you have not. For several years, in an effort to bring you the most comprehensive information about what happens at the General Assembly, we have videotaped key debates in both sub- and full committee meetings (see our YouTube channel). At a meeting of the Senate Education and Health Committee earlier in session, at least one capitol reporter seemed a bit put off by our efforts. As one of our staff members set up our camera in the committee room, in the same place we've set it up for several years, one senior reporter asked her for whom she worked. Upon hearing that she was with The Family Foundation, he chastised her saying, "You can’t do that here. You aren't credentialed press." A quick conversation with a Capitol Police officer made it clear to the reporter that committee hearings are public meetings and we can videotape them if we want.

So, it would appear that either the reporter had forgotten that our government's actions are open to the public or, perhaps, he's a bit intimidated by the fact that the media narrative is going to be challenged by the video showing exactly what happened, not how he and his colleagues describe it in in their "stories" and "articles." Of course, maybe he just didn't want his view blocked (though our camera was right next to a large post so we wouldn't block anyone's view).

Perhaps some of the issue is that our video exposes their media myths. In a Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the Ed and Health meeting — and specifically the debate over abortion center health and safety standards — one reporter wrote:

Both sides in the abortion debate packed the hearing room with advocates of the same arguments they've used to battle each other for the past two years.

Except, that's not at all accurate. As you will see watching the video, we used material from Department of Health inspection reports that show wide spread health and safety violations at Virginia's abortion centers — something the Times-Dispatch simply refuses to cover — material that was available just this past summer. It is new evidence we obtained from the department this past summer and last month via Freedom of Information Act requests and proves why we needed the health and safety standards. It is evidence we didn't have prior to the regulations, so we couldn't have used it "to battle each other for the past two years."

Even if we obstructed some reporters' views, we didn't affect their hearing, yet the media reported we offered no new information on the abortion center safety standards debate. It is clear we had new evidence of numerous violations not previously available to the public. (The new evidence is presented at about 5:50 into the video.)

We've said for the past year that there are some capitol reporters who have exchanged reporting for opining and, in particular, have driven some of the hysteria surrounding pro-life legislation. They've ignored or dismissed the facts about what's happening in Virginia's abortion centers, and they have little interest in balance.

Many journalists in Richmond still do great work and are fair, balanced and hard workers, while several clearly have allowed their bias to affect their work. All the more reason for our being here — years ago we accounted for the reasons the changing media landscape demanded we be here — and for you to watch the video and to share it with others.

Us, Them & The Media

Us . . .

One thousand pro-lifers . . . 

Them . . .

. . . about 18  pro-abortion supporters (plus a bullhorn).

Yet, the media took the 18 just as serious as the 1,000 and gave the them equal coverage, if not more. In fact, the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran only one picture — one of the protesters similar to the one above, giving the impression that there was only one event, or that the tiny event was larger than the huge event. No matter how obvious the evidence is to the contrary, nothing will ever persuade these "objective" journalists into reporting anything that will even remotely conflict with its abortion-on-demand-is-the-majority narrative — no matter how big and large the facts and evidence are, even when it's 1,000 people standing in their midst.

To sample the coverage, check out today's News Clips. Meanwhile, let us know what you thought of the rally and the media's coverage. (See still more coverage here.)

Time For Pro-Lifers To Leave The Republican Party?

As Virginia Republicans meet this weekend for their annual "Advance," there will be plenty to talk about. From this year's election results to this week's stunning announcement in the Virginia's governor race (which we were one of the first to blog about), there's plenty of debate going on between the so-called "establishment" and the "grassroots" of the Republican Party. As usual, the primary target of some in the debate is pro-life voters. Many words have been spilled from pundits and politicians over this debate, not just this year, but in nearly every election cycle as far back as many of us can remember. It's important to recall that in 1980 the political experts told Ronald Reagan to "tone down" the rhetoric on abortion and talk only about the economy. Of course, most will remember that the 1980 election focused almost entirely on the economy, foreign policy and moral decay. Abortion wasn't a major "theme" of the election or of Reagan's agenda.

But when asked, he wasn't ashamed to be pro-life. In fact, he used the opportunities his leadership position presented to persuade people to his position — one he believed most Americans shared. Was he offensive? No. Was he restrained? Never. He simply was willing to talk and sought to convince people of the legitimacy of his position that the unborn should be protected.

Unfortunately, in our culture of "all or nothing" politics, even those seeking to be incremental and strategic in advancing conservative causes with reasoned rhetoric are labeled and attacked as "putting ideology ahead of winning."

It's time we pro-life, pro-family, pro-limited government, pro-religious liberty conservatives require the candidates we support hold strong, principled — dare I say — ideological positions, but who also are able to persuade people in a logical, approachable, reasonable way that those principles are really what is best for America and our commonwealth.

Why must we so often have to choose between angry belligerence and cowardly silence? Is there no room in the Republican Party tent for reasoned, rational and principled pro-life voters? Certainly, as evidenced by this year's Democrat convention, there's little room in that party's tent for pro-lifers.

In a recent opinion piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a well-known political commentator made the statement that wherever I go, "a fight breaks out." Truth be told, I believe The Family Foundation has been very good at using reasonable and logical arguments to persuade people to our position, never personally attacking people or throwing "rhetorical bombs" that drive people away. After 10 years of doing this, we're still attacked by the media as the group that "picks fights," while it falls at the feet in worship of those who were arrested on the Capitol steps in violation of the law, and who daily use vile, vulgar rhetoric (click links to see examples).

Let's face it: We live in a commonwealth where those who believe that women making the sad choice of abortion should enter sanitary facilities with emergency equipment are attacked by the media and secular left as "extreme" and "out of touch." All the while, those who support abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy (as our president does) are considered "centrist." That's the environment, that's the playing field. We can whine all we want about how unfair it is, or we can do something about it.

We live in a culture of cynicism and skepticism making it even more difficult to persuade. But giving up is not an option, and neither is compromising our principles. We, the whole of the conservative movement — not just social conservatives — must figure out a way to improve our message. Then, perhaps more importantly, find new ways to go around the Mainstream Media to get our message out. Blogs aren't enough. Social media isn't enough. Cutesy Facebook posters won't cut it.

Could the answer be going back to the basics (and hard work) of grassroots organization and mobilization? It's how conservatives changed the course of the nation before. Its successes are proven.

So, back to the question at the top. Is it time for pro-lifers to leave the Republican Party? Frankly, trying to answer that question is a colossal waste of time. While many are debating it, secularist liberals are unified and mobilized to take our state. Let's stop arguing about 30-year-old partisan struggles that may never be resolved. Let's start telling others about our principles, and let's put together the plan that will save our commonwealth.

Vote For Question 1! New Ad, Editorials In Favor Of Property Rights Amendment!

On November 6, Virginians have a lot of important decisions to make at the ballot box. There are choices for President, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In some cities, there will be choices for mayor, city council and school board. But there is another important decision to make that does not involve a candidate: Virginians will have an opportunity to amend the Virginia Constitution to protect private property rights. Protecting private property rights has become an urgent and priority issue for The Family Foundation and other concerned organizations since 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court incredibly ruled in Kelo v. New London, Conn. that the U.S. Constitution did not protect one's private property rights in the case of a taking by a locality. (Funny, other protections, such as free speech, seem to trump state and local laws.)

Since then, state after state has enacted constitutional protections. Virginia, meanwhile, dragged its feet for seven years as the General Assembly, session after session, found ways to deny and delay its citizens' the opportunity to speak on this vital issue — and by the trick of a parliamentary maneuver came within a vote of killing it again this year.

Property rights are vital because without the guarantee of private property, there is no check on government's ability to grow in size or power. Without private property, you have nowhere from which to speak, worship or work. Without it, government is unchecked in its ability to do anything it wants, including taking property only after you have increased the value of it, as has happened time after time across Virginia.

The amendment specifically prohibits what happened in Connecticut — perhaps the most blatant abuse of governmental power in recent years — when New London took private property (in this case homes) and not only did not use it for a public purpose, such as a school or road, but gave the homes to a private company!  New London said the company could do something better with the property and create more tax revenue for the city. It's always about revenue to the government, isn't it?

So, who could be against this amendment? Precisely! Local governments, which use your tax dollars to lobby against your rights. They claim this amendment will prohibit economic development. That's a peculiar argument because securing private property is the best way to promote economic development. What entrepreneur wants to build a business if he or she knows the city or county will decide it can do something better with that land and take it for themselves?

Only local government can think this way because local government bureaucrats think their job is to run their county or city as their own powerful, controlling entity, and not as stewards of your money and rights. This amendment — which among its guarantees provides that government can only take the amount of land it needs when it truly has a public use; and that it must provide just compensation for that land, including for lost access to the property and for lost business profit — will be a necessary brake on that attitude. It will foster true economic growth by guaranteeing property rights as well as limiting government power. It will be another stroke for the liberty intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

We urge a vote for Question 1, to protect our basic liberty and rights to own property and to check the growth and power of government.

We're not alone. The amendment was put on the ballot by a bipartisan vote in the General Assembly. A coalition of organizations, including The Family Foundation, The Virginia Farm Bureau, Americans for Prosperity, The Virginia Agribusiness Council, Virginia Forestry Association, National Federation of Independent Business, and the Virginia Property Rights Coalition all are working hard for its ratification. In addition, two major papers, which typically have different editorial views, recently endorsed Question 1: The Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

Click on the image to hear this radio ad by the Virginia Farm Bureau. Then spread the word about Question 1, Virginia's Property Rights Amendment, by sharing this post, logo and radio spot!

There has only been one public poll released on Question 1, and it was done by Public Policy Polling, a Democrat polling firm based in North Carolina. While its results were favorable, it is from September and the local government opposition has been working in high gear ever since. (The Castle Coalition, a national property rights group, has a take on the poll here.)

Perhaps the biggest opponent of the amendment is unawareness. With the presidential and senate campaigns sucking up all the political oxygen this fall, most Virginians are not aware the question is on the ballot. When they find out, they are supportive. So the mission is to get the word out! Above is a radio ad released yesterday by The Farm Bureau. Please share it and this link with as many people as you can by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. After seven years, this is our one and only chance to protect our property rights in Virginia and to further secure our liberty and restrain government growth and power.

Media Seeks TFF's Opinion On President Obama's Political Coming-Out-Of-The-Closet

The unintended consequences of President Obama's coming out of the political closet to tell everyone what we already knew — that he supports homosexual marriage — we're in the news! Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb was interviewed by WRIC-TV (see below or click here), the Richmond Times-Dispatch (click here) and the Washington Post/AP (click here) about the president's declaration and its impact on the dynamics of the presidential campaign in Virginia, seen as a key swing/battleground state in this November's election, and WWBT-TV ran a statement TFF issued on its 11:00 newscast (click here). It reads:

President Obama is busy pandering to his dwindling base in an election year. It's the sign of a desperate candidate.

In the WRIC report, Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico), just can't contain his glee. He hasn't smiled so broadly or been this giddy since his law license was restored last week. Offering different perspectives are Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Victoria.

But if President Obama is being so courageous, as some on the left in these (and other) media reports are saying, why didn't he come out before the North Carolina vote Tuesday, where Tar Heels passed its Marriage Amendment by a 61-39 margin. (It also bans civil unions.) After all, he won North Carolina in 2008 and the Democrats will have their convention in Charlotte. Leading from behind, once again. Never was a man so brave where risk was so unapparent. No wonder he's so loved.

Also interviewed on WRIC is Governor Bob McDonnell, who has an interesting take. While he is continues to be for traditional marriage and supportive of Virginia's Marriage Amendment, he agreed with the president in one respect. He said marriage should be a state issue, not a federal one. Hmmm. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney thinks there should be a federal Marriage Amendment. Does this affect his Veepstakes candidacy?

Ahhhh. Good to see Delegate Joe Morrissey smile again. He didn't have much reason to during the General Assembly this winter.

Mr. Jefferson's Capitol: One Of America's 10 Most Influential Buildings

As physically and mentally grueling as a session of the Virginia General Assembly is, as many heartaches and headaches as it produces, and despite the 12-hour days and ups-and-downs of seeing good bills advance only to see them watered down or even defeated, or bad bills pass, there is one thing that keeps us (or at least me) inspired and lobbying legislators with optimism: Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. It even (rightly) tempers the glow of victory with magnanimity. Knowing the momentous events that took place there (and take place there), the towering figures who have purposefully paced its marble floors and filled its stately chambers, as well as the man who designed it, gives perspective to passing good bills and killing bad ones — at once it's not saying a whole lot, yet still a significant contributor to the continuum of representative government, the oldest continuously meeting one in the Western Hemisphere, at that. Attempts at poetic prose and the mysticism and majesty of history aside, it's one cool workspace! After all, who gets to work in a 1788 building as modern as it is historic with some of the most interesting characters in the country?

It's hard to believe some people in the country, let alone Virginia, still don't realize what a treasure the capitol is, but that number will shrink early next year when a PBS special on the 10 of the most influential buildings in America airs. The production crew shot video in Capitol Square this week, as well as at U.Va. and Monticello as background to Jefferson's Temple of Democracy.

Jefferson's Temple to Democracy sits on Richmond's Shockoe Hill. Originally in the middle of nowhere for all to see and from which to take inspiration. Historians and architects agree. It's a treasure we never take for granted.

That's what it is, of course. Situated on Shockoe Hill and reminiscent of a Roman Greek classical temple in France, Jefferson built it as he did and where he did so that people far and wide would be reminded of, and respectful of, their freedom. High rise buildings now block the reach of the temple, but not its influence. Geoffrey Baer, the host of the documentary 10 Buildings That Changed America, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch today:

The Virginia State Capitol really started the tradition in this country of government buildings looking like Roman and Greek temples.

But its not only the outside that the show's producers keyed on. It will play up Jefferson's most fascinating architectural aspect, its interior rotunda, as well a skeleton look at the buildings walls. That's appropriate because as awesome as the outside is, the inside is nothing less than an office masked as a museum. Imagine talking over education reform with a senator next to the most valuable piece of marble in North America? That the old is always new and regenerative alone makes this Temple unique. As places of worship are supposed to do that, this secular temple refreshes us not with a worship of government, but a love of liberty.

The 10 buildings selected were judged by architectural historians and others to have had a powerful architecturally but also an influence "on the way we live," according to Baer. The capitol influenced the U.S. Capitol as well as banks across America, according to the show. If only it influenced the governance that comes out of the U.S. Capitol.

The Houdon statue of George Washington, done from life by a body cast, gives us the best impression of what he looked like and is considered the most valuable piece of marble in the continent. 

House Sensitivity Caucus Announces Annual Awards

Although the end of session may provoke emotions ranging from physical relief (the meat grinder is over) to mental relief (the legislative sausage making is over) to melancholy (friends and colleagues going home for a year), there is one thing we greatly look forward to: The House Sensitivity Caucus Awards, presented the last Friday of session each year. In a year truly turned upside down, epitomized remarkably by the staid Senate being more entertaining than the rowdy House, the Sensitivity Caucus Awards capture real atmosphere of the General Assembly: good-natured and sincere willingness to work together, despite the negative reporting that overwhelms mainstream media's sparse coverage. The Sensitivity Caucus, one of many intra-legislative coaltions, is a semi-secret cadre of House members who, throughout session, observe and make note of all 100 members' (and some staff, as we found out) rhetorical and habitual idiosyncrasies. It awards those members who fit certain parameters and who make themselves (in)famous for certain statements, proclivity to speak no matter what the occasion and willingness to serve as instant experts on topics far and wide. Both quality and quantity are recognized.  It's non-partisan and all offending (in a very good and fun sense). While there are many caucuses, the Sensitivity Caucus

Some of the members are Steve Landes (R-25, Verona), Terry Kilgore (R-1, Gate City) and Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock). The caucus even creates teams and "drafts" members in a secret competition of "pop-ups" — members who get up and speak the most. Not only that, but this year they added awards this year to reflect behavior in committee. Whether on the floor or in committee, there was plenty of material this year, and each award pronouncement and explanation was greeted with loud bipartisan laughs (see Richmond Times-Dispatch's Virginia Politics Blog).

The award winners were:

Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale);

Kay Kory (D-38, Falls Church) as Best Team Player for her adoring gaze at Minority Leader David Toscano (D-57, Charlottesville) during his perfunctory challenges to conservative bills;

Barbara Comstock (R-34, McLean) for the Homeland Security Award, for her more than casual references to her federal experience in speaking up on bills not her own;

Gilbert for the Wish I Hadn't Said It Award for his mention of a particular "lifestyle choice;"

Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico) for the On Board Award, which exemplifies action in committee, for the time he said in the Appropriations Committee that several organizations were "on board with this bill, the governor is on board with this bill, and I'm on board with this bill" (it was his own bill);

Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth) for the I Don't Practice Law In This Area Award, for the phrase he repeatedly prefaces his remarks with when fighting passionately for eminent domain reform (which he ultimately won);

Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-6, Wytheville) for the Breakfast With The Devil Award, for using that phrase in a rousing speech she made on a gun bill;

House Clerk Paul Nardo, the first-ever staff winner, for the Speaker's Award, for keeping Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg) more or less in line, on time and moving along;

Scott Garrett (R-23, Lynchburg) for the Cheerleader Award, for his much continued, solo clapping after a standing ovation had long since finished in honor of a speech given by Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights);

Greg Habeeb (R-8, Salem) for the Freshman Of The Year Award, which, caucus leaders assured us, was a tough competition that lasted three or four ballots due to the many talented rookie legislators, for asking a lot of questions (he shouldn't be asking). Further hint: He's not a freshman!

The final award was the granddaddy of them all, the coveted Pop-Up Award. It's the Heisman Trophy of the General Assembly. It's given to the member who has tallied the most floor speeches, who pops out of his or her seat to speak the most on any and all issues. According to Kilgore, there was a lot of competition this year. He said, "There are a lot of people in this chamber who want to tell us what they know." So much so, that a first-ever Honorable Mention Award was given to freshman Alphonso Lopez (D-49, Arlington).

But in the end, there was no suspense. No one jumps out of his seat more frequently, nor with more brazenness, the one who's speeches have been dubbed "Morrissey Moments," than "Fightin'" Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico) himself, who popped up 51 times this session, more than one of the entire teams. True to form, as Speaker Howell called the chamber back to order, the first person in his queue to speak was, none other than, Morrissey, who had his own ad hoc Sensitivity Award: The Too Much Information Award. Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44, Mount Vernon) was the front runner early on for a floor speech he made bemoaning Virginia's traffic congestion, a condition that, apparently, affects the sanctity of his marriage (see video here).

But he had nothing on Delegate David Albo (R-42, Fairfax), who went into great detail on the floor on February 24 about how the ultrasound bill affected an evening with him and his wife. See (or not) the painful and inartful details here. Why, Morrissey, rightly wondered, after 12 years of marriage, did Albo find it necessary to slyly slip his arm around his wife's shoulder? More curious is that viewing the "Redskins Channel" is an apparent prerequisite for mood acquisition. So, appropriately, Morrissey presented Albo an oversize poster of his head superimposed on the Redskins' number 21. Quipped Speaker Howell, "What's nice about that is that it has his IQ on the jersey, too."

More On The "Mild-Mannered" Abortion Protestor . . .

Remember Margaret Doyle? She catapulted into the national limelight two weeks ago as the face of the pro-abortion movement in Virginia when the Mainstream Media in a rare, candid instant, caught her in a rage over pro-life legislation, baring her fangs and trying to barrel through a Capitol Police officer to confront Delegate Bob Marshall (R-10, Prince William). The Richmond Times-Dispatch, whose photographer Bob Brown captured it, immediately posted it on its web site and we followed suit that morning. It went viral and the T-D, almost embarrassed that it exposed the true disposition of the pro-abortion faction, published a fluff piece on Ms. Doyle by the next morning's hard copy edition, explaining that she, well, you know, really isn't like that — that, in fact, she is a lovable, sweet, popular catering company owner who just happened to get caught up in the passion of the moment.

From the article:

Most mornings, mild-mannered Margaret Doyle, owner of Richmond's Espresso-A-Go-Go Coffee Catering, is in a chipper mood. ...

Really?

It seems that when Ms. Doyle is in the solitude and comfort of her own home, where she has an opportunity to pause and reflect, you know, just chill, she, uhhhhhh . . . is filled with perpetual rage! Here are the contents of an e-mail she sent a pro-life legislator:

What a disgusting, disgraceful and vile pig you are -- the women of Virginia(except for the Christians that drink your kool-aid) have been pushed back to the dark ages because of you and Bob Marshall -- shame on you for being a foot soldier in the war on women -- once you come up for air after giving the governor a b!@#-j0%, you will be able to see how dangerous you really are -- how does it feel to be an accessory to state-mandated molestation -- at least you're not an accessory to rape anymore -- go to hell you f!#$!^+ monster!

Intemperate and poor punctuation skills. Not the way to go through life, Margaret — and in case there is any doubt, she wrote that on February 20, three days before the committee vote that ignited her heat-of-the-moment, national-headline-stealing outburst at the General Assembly. "Mild-mannered"? You be the judge.

But there's more. You see, Ms. Mild-Mannered Doyle seems to have an abundance of venom, sending the same legislator this belated Valentine's greeting, with the subject line:  "F*#@ you!"

In a pose only the pro-abortion movement could call "thoughtful and rational," Ms. Doyle conveys to a lawmaker an internationally known gesture.  (Photo: courtesy, Margaret Doyle)

The fact of the matter is that the people who protested at Mr. Jefferson's Capitol the last two weeks are not the face of Virginia. They are not normally-calm-every-day-citizens who are upset about certain legislation. They have bombarded pro-life legislators and their staffs with vicious e-mails and phone calls throughout this session, many so threatening they had to be forwarded to Capitol Police. They are ferocious, abortion-at-all-costs, in-your-face, members of relentless pressure groups who worship at the altar of abortion. Finally, despite attempts to conceal their true behavior and attitude, by the slip of the Mainstream Media and their own lack of restraint, their face has been revealed for all to see — and more often than we can even document.

Remember me? The face the media would have you believe is mainstream: Ms. Doyle two weeks ago after she was really fired up!

Admin's note: The text and subject line of the note and picture to the legislator is verbatim, but we used symbols to obscure the indecent language. We also blurred over the obscene gesture.

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. 

Primary Day Is Tomorrow: What To Do?

Tomorrow is primary day in Virginia. But there was a little problem on the way to Super Tuesday: Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot via Virginia's petition process. Write-ins are not allowed, which means no Newt or Rick. With all that as backdrop, who are you voting for — and why? Let us know. Is it because you like one of the candidates, resigned that one will be the nominee, or will you vote for one to stop another in lieu of your preferred candidate not making it on the ballot? Or, will you not vote at all, either out of protest or disinterest? Or will you go to the booth and not pull the lever, which will record a voter on the registrar's rolls, but not a vote — a protest vote of none of the above.

Even with a limited field, then, there are choices. There have been lots of rumors of subterranean voter plots, although we haven't heard of any organized movement. Disinterest, if anything, seems to lead the unofficial polls. The remaining field of four has inspired only modest interest in primaries where all were on the ballot. So with only two of them on the ballot in Virginia, and almost no campaigning or advertising here to excite the base, activity has been almost non-existent. Some voters, who previously expressed disappointment in the field and intention not to vote, now say with so many delegates at stake to nominate someone to run in the most important election in our lifetime, will vote.

It may not be the most exciting times in Virginia presidential political history — the biggest splash may have been an appearance last week by a non candidate, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who drew a record crowd of 1,800 people at House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's annual breakfast (see Richmond Times-Dispatch and WTVR.com) — but the ironic permutations of tomorrow's vote make it no less interesting.

Let us know what you intend to do. Leave your comments here or join the conversation on our Facebook page. 

What The Media Calls Mainstream . . .

The face of Planned Parenthood in Virginia: Today was its lobby day at the General Assembly and this was the reaction this morning of one of its activists (and several behind her, see the raised arm) after the Senate Education and Health Committee reported out two pro-life bills and one to make the HPV vaccine an opt-in. Several Planned Parenthood activists were escorted out of the General Assembly Building by Capitol Police in a scene more reminiscent of Chicago or Wisconsin, than Virginia.

A rare glimpse by the mainstream media at the pro-abortion lobby's fury. (Photo is from Bob Brown of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. See article here.)

Herman Cain Rocks Richmond!

I hope you were among the 1,100+ people who packed the Greater Richmond Convention Center ballroom on Saturday night to hear from Herman Cain.* If not, you missed what many people are calling the "best Gala ever." Herman Cain, as expected, delivered a message that brought the crowd to its feet several times. Mr. Cain repeatedly referenced the 2011 Gala theme “Our Time Is Now” in calling the attendees to stay engaged in the process of choosing our nation’s leaders. Because the future of our country is at stake, he exhorted the crowd to stay informed, involved and inspired. Never one to shy from speaking his mind, he told the crowd that he was a mathematics major in college and, "never took a course in political correctness and I’m never going to!"

He also shared in depth on his personal journey, including how his faith got him through his bout with Stage IV colon cancer, adding a very personal element to his message that proved inspiring to all.

After an enjoyable time visiting with old friends and meeting new ones during dinner, the audience heard an inspiring report from Family Foundation President, Victoria Cobb, on the year's impressive legislative victories. She also reminded everyone of the importance of next month's elections, when Virginians have the chance to elect a conservative majority in the Virginia Senate and break the stranglehold on that body in which liberals have enjoyed for far too long.

After the event concluded guests had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cain and have him sign copies of his new book.

If you appreciate the work of The Family Foundation, and want to make a special gift in support of the Gala, you can do so by clicking here and choosing the option that says, “I am unable to attend, but would like to make a special gift. . . .” and then filling out the appropriate payment information.

Thank you for your support of the Gala and The Family Foundation as a whole. We hope you can join us for next year’s Gala . . . so you can see just what we do to top this one!

Visit our Flickr page to see a few photos from the event by clicking on the image or caption below:

Bringing down the house! Herman Cain brought 1,100 people at the Greater Richmond Convention Center to their feet several times with an exciting, motivational speech.

You can see news coverage of the event at the following links, including from three national media and two video reports:

Presidential candidate Cain emphasizes economy as a priority (WTVR/CBS6.com video)

Herman Cain rallies Republicans in Richmond (WWBT/NBC12.com video)

Cain embraces "American black conservative" label (CBSNews.com)

Cain offers rousing speech at Family Foundation gala (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Cain says dream is 'under attack' (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Cain rallies social conservatives at Va. gala (AP/blueridgenow.com)

GOP presidential candidate Cain pitches plan in Richmond (The Daily Press)

Cain Embraces 'American Black Conservative' Label in Richmond (National Journal)

 

* DISCLAIMER: Mr. Cain’s appearance was in his personal capacity, not as a candidate, and does not imply any endorsement by The Family Foundation.

Paid for by The Family Foundation Action.

Board Votes To Delay Adoption Regulations 30 Days, But No Change Is Expected

The Virginia Board of Social Services yesterday voted to delay the implementation of recently approved adoption regulations under the threat of costly litigation from the ACLU and Equality Virginia (see The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). In a not unexpected decision, the vote will allow for 30 days of additional comment, beginning September 12. As we noted yesterday, however, with Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opposing the old proposed regulations on several grounds, opponents will only succeed in dragging out the process longer and perhaps set the stage for a legal action challenging Virginia law. In April, the VBSS voted 7-2 to adopt new regulations for Virginia's private adoption services. The regulations approved did not include a proposal that would have discriminated against faith-based adoption agencies by forcing them to adopt children to homosexuals. Despite having nearly two years to make their case through the regulatory process, organizations such as Equality Virginia and the ACLU claimed that the decision to not include the discriminatory language was done so without adequate information (see the AP via wral.com).

After losing the vote in April, Equality Virginia and the ACLU threatened to sue if they did not get an additional public comment period (see The Richmond Times-Dispatch). During the initial public comment time, more than 1,000 Virginians commented on the proposed regulations, with only around 30 in favor. On average, proposed regulations receive less than two dozen comments.

At yesterday's meeting, a host of representatives from the homosexual lobby spoke in favor of the additional comment period (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Some of the speakers honestly stated that they believed allowing homosexuals to adopt should take precedence over the religious liberty rights of faith-based organizations.

When the comment period is opened we will encourage you to make your voice heard on this important issue. It is clear that homosexual groups intend to use the additional 30 days to get as much publicity as possible. We must make sure that the Board of Social Services hears from Virginians who believe in religious liberty.

Admin's notes: Family Foundation staff is quoted in every cited link in the post above. Please click those links to read further. In addition, we were cited on the National Organization For Marriage Blog (click here).

Also, Family Foundation Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund was featured in coverage from WTVR/CBS6 in Richmond (immediately below) and on Charlottesville's WVIR/NBC29 (click this link)

30 days more. The homosexual lobby and ACLU couldn't wait to slow down the process. 

Lawsuit Threatened In Adoption Regulations Battle

Today, the Virginia Board of Social Services is scheduled to consider a request by several homosexual activist groups to reopen its decision to protect the rights of private, faith-based adoption agencies. In April, the VBSS approved new regulations for adoption agencies that did not include a proposal that would have forced private, faith-based adoption agencies to adopt children into homes with co-habitating, unmarried couples. Unfortunately, homosexual activist groups are not satisfied with the nearly two-year regulatory process and 30-day public comment period already undertaken and are petitioning the VBSS for an additional 30 days of public comment, thus requiring a second, unnecessary vote. Oddly, groups like Equality Virginia and the ACLU that today are advocating for more public comment were silent for nearly two years as the regulations, stealthily proposed by former Governor Tim Kaine, went through the process. After losing the vote (7-2) in April, they suddenly are very interested in more time and another vote. Now they are threatening a costly, frivolous lawsuit if they don't get their way. It's also odd that they talk a lot about freedom, but they have no forcing private institutions into policies that run counter to their believes. Apparently, religious liberty isn't a freedom they choose to protect.

During the earlier comment period, only an approximate 30 of the 1,000-plus public comments were favorable toward adding restrictions on faith-based charities (see Washington Times). In 2002, the last year for which data is available, nearly 80 percent of adoptions in Virginia were facilitated by private organizations, nearly half of which are faith-based. Adding the restrictions advocated by Equality Virginia and the ACLU would seriously threaten the well-being of thousands of children awaiting adoption. Similar actions have forced charities to close their doors to children and families in other states.

Sadly, it appears that these organizations are more interested in advancing their political agenda than helping vulnerable children. Punishing the organizations that handle 80 percent of the adoptions in Virginia to advance a political agenda is punitive and harsh. The Board of Social Services, as well as the overwhelming majority of those in the public who commented, saw that and rejected the proposed regulation.

The Family Foundation will monitor the meeting today and comment if necessary. Regardless of the VBSS' decision on opening the public comment period again to avoid an unnecessary lawsuit, we don't anticipate a change in the final vote. The majority of Virginians have spoken in the previous public comment period, Governor Bob McDonnell has committed to protecting faith-based agencies (Richmond Times-Dispatch), and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Washington Post) has made it clear that the proposed restrictions are unnecessary. Equality Virginia and the ACLU may get their press conference and media exposure, but we will fight for the children and families as well as religious liberty.

Exclusive Video Of A.G. Cuccinelli's Remarks At Yorktown Family Foundation Event

Earlier this month 125 pro-family, pro-values conservatives gathered in Yorktown for a Family Foundation dinner event with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the keynote speaker. The event drew activists, financial partners and candidates for elected offices, long-time supporters and new faces — people from all ages, including children, college students and retirees — from Williamsburg to Chesapeake and points in between. Good food, great fellowship and an outstanding message from the Attorney General made it a worthwhile evening for all who attended. The Attorney General shared his insight on a number of federal legal cases that illustrate the on-going struggle between liberty and tyranny, including the EPA's attack on the coal industry in southwest Virginia, which is contributing to unemployment there and driving up costs on items we all use. He shrewdly pointed out that the groups of people most harmed by these assaults on freedom are the most vulnerable among us — the poor, elderly and minorities. While liberals portray themselves as champions for the poor, in reality, he said, many of their policies harm them. By contrast, he asserted that it is conservative principles of limited, constitutional government that provide opportunity for all Americans.

Although it wasn't a point of the event, Attorney General Cuccinelli has made big news recently for something else: Securing the release from prison of Thomas Haynesworth (see Richmond Times-Dispatch), who served 30 years for a crime DNA evidence now proves he did not do. His stewardship of the Office of Attorney General is proving difficult for the liberals to caricature as The Innocence Project's award to him proves. (See David Keene via The Washington Times as well as Timothy Carney at The Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential.) But it shouldn't surprise anyone. His principles are grounded firmly in the constitution and he is consistent with his application of them.

The Attorney General autographed Gadsden ("Don’t Tread On Me") Flags for event sponsors. A few flags remain and are available for a $250 donation. You may receive one by calling The Family Foundation at (804) 343-0010, by e-mailing John Downer at john@familyfoundation.org, or by sending a check with "autographed Gadsden Flag" on the memo line made payable to The Family Foundation of Virginia, and mail it to our news address at 919 East Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA 23219. Please view this brief exclusive video from Attorney General Cuccinelli's remarks.

Attorney General Cuccinelli stands on firm, consistent foundational principles — and a good sense of humor.

Despite Survey, Freedom Isn't Very Free For Virginia Parents

As we celebrated the birth of our nation over the weekend, a George Mason University Mercatus Center study pronounced Virginia the "ninth" freest state in the nation (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Taking into consideration tax rates, criminal law, education and several other factors, the study proclaimed Virginia the freest state in the South. Juxtaposed to this study is an editorial in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that announced 2011 as “the year of school choice.” According to The Journal, "No fewer than 13 states have enacted school choice legislation in 2011." From Florida to Maine to Utah, state legislatures have enacted policies that advance the cause of freedom for parents of school children.

The piece goes on to say:

School choice proponents may have had their biggest success in Indiana, where Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation that removes the charter cap, allows all universities to be charter authorizers, and creates a voucher program that enables about half the state's students to attend public or private schools.

Unfortunately, Virginia is not one of the states that has advanced in the area of education freedom. In a state where its politicians tout its business-friendly environment seemingly on a daily basis, parents are unfortunately left with little or no option when it comes to where they can send their children for their education. Unless financially able, most parents lack the freedom to choose the school that best meets their children's needs.

While many other states recognize the advantages of education freedom and its benefits for both families and our economy, Virginia remains stuck in the past, bowing to education elites and failing to live up to its perception of liberty. Unfortunately, this is not just a partisan issue, as some Republicans who wouldn't dare vote against anything that would hinder business in Virginia are all too happy to vote against freeing families from education purgatory, joining Democrats who have blocked even the most modest education freedom legislation for years. All seem fearful of the Virginia Education Association, the state chapter of the powerful National Education Association, which just endorsed President Obama in his 2012 presidential bid despite his Republican opponent not yet being chosen. The VEA leads the opposition to Virginia educational freedom and many elected officials in Virginia march in lock step with the VEA.

The Family Foundation has fought for education freedom since its early days and will continue to do so. Providing families with multiple education options for their children remains one of our highest priorities. Virginia’s ranking as a "free" state would be more believable if parents were actually free.

It's Only A Matter Of Time

In just the past few years, nearly half a dozen states have voted to make it legal. Public polling on it has reversed and a majority of Americans (including a large majority of Virginians) now are in support of it.

It is one of the most important civil rights issues of our day.

What is "it" you ask? With all the media coverage and hyperventilation over New York's legislature voting to approve homosexual marriage, you would think that is the answer. But it is not.

"It" is actually school choice, the opportunity for school children to attend the school that best suits their educational needs. Yet, compared to the nearly daily media articles, plethora of news editorials and nearly constant television news cycle coverage of one state's legislature passage of same sex marriage, you wouldn't know that school choice is expanding far faster and is vastly more popular.

Wonder why?

It's quite simply. The political and media elites that are foaming at the mouth over same sex marriage, because they support it, aren't so fond of the idea that parents ought to choose where to send their children to school.

While homosexual organizations and proponents were celebrating their "victory" in New York, we began receiving media calls asking for comment about how that vote affects Virginia. Interestingly, when Pennsylvania passed school choice, no one called. When Arizona passed school choice, no one called. When Florida passed school choice, no one called. When Indiana passed school choice, no one called. When Wisconsin passed school choice, no one called.

When we released polling that indicated 76 percent of Virginians support education freedom, not a peep from the news media.

So let's take the same sex marriage message of some in the media and homosexual advocates to its logical conclusion: because one state, New York, has passed homosexual marriage, it's inevitable that all other states will follow suit. Because one recent media poll indicated that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, it's only a matter of time before it's legal everywhere. Because homosexual groups claim it's a "civil rights" issue, there can be no logical opposition.

If that's true, then I expect our Commonwealth's most ardent opponents of school choice, homosexual rights advocates such as Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) and Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), to carry the banner for education freedom very soon. After all, if one state has made it law and one poll says it's popular, well then, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it! I expect the editorial pages at the Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot to beat the drum for education choice any day now!

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath either.