Virginia governor tim kaine

Virginia News Stand: November 19, 2008

Laugh Of The Day

The last sentence on the second page of The Politico piece about Terry McAuliffe's  campaign for governor was a hoot. Not about him. But about our current Excellency:

And McAuliffe's opponents are already painting him as a rowdy Democratic partisan in a state that has elected reassuring, purple-tinged Democratic governors like Sen.-elect Mark Warner and the state's current chief executive, Tim Kaine, an abortion opponent.

The article's author, Glenn Thrush, apparently has as much experience covering Virginia politics as McAuliffe has running in Virginia. That, or he knew some of us needed a big laugh out loud.

One Sacred Cow That Needs A Diet: Virginia's Department of Education

Later this week, members of the House of Delegates and Senate (contact here) will gather in separate enclaves in Virginia to discuss the Commonwealth's estimated $2.5 billion "shortfall" in budget revenue (see recent post). Much of the problem stems from exaggerated revenue projections when the economy was clearly headed for a recession. As we cut our family and business budgets, there aren't many things that are off limits. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily true for government. Can you guess which Virginia department's budget is described by these facts?

» $4-5 billion more than any other department's annual budget;

» 39 percent of the 2007 budget; and

» Structurally designed to prevent budget reductions or even slow budget increases.

If you guessed Virginia's Department of Education, congratulations! You won. But so has the DOE under our current budget structure — and has won for many years.

Consider these two statistics (it's stat day at FFblog):

» DOE was 39 percent of the state's budget in 2007, but its budget increase from 2007 to 2008 accounted for 57 percent of the total state budget increase. It's important to note that enrollment did not increase by such magnitude!

» Unless altered, the DOE's budget will increase another 6 percent in 2009.

Even with its rapid budget increases, however, Governor Tim Kaine (contact here) has already stated that, despite the revenue shortfall, public education is off the table in the current round of budget reductions.

In fact, even when legislators hint at simply reducing the rate of increase for public education, the maelstrom of anger from the Virginia Education Association (see previous comments) and other educrat entities quickly subdues elected officials. DOE's state budget is increasing 18 percent more than what would be proportionally expected. 

Not all departments have the same good fortune as DOE. For example, from 2007 to 2008, the Department of Natural Resources experienced a 36 percent decrease in its budget. Even the technology department, a department many would expect to have an expanding budget due to development and growth in the field, was relegated to a 6 percent decrease from 2007 to 2008.

The annual boost in DOE's budget is driven by a faulty and antiquated Standards of Quality formula (see previous comments), which increases funding due to growth in hiring as opposed to growth in student achievement or enrollment. Virginia is, in fact, one of only four states that funds public education based on staffing and not on number of students. Even in school districts with decreasing enrollment, funding increases!

Without a revision of the SOQ formula, DOE's budget will continue to rise year after year at an exponentially higher rate than we can hope to sustain (see previous comments). We can continue to adequately fund public education but not at the rate that the VEA demands. Simply put, we cannot continue to increase spending in this area by $1 billion every biennium without a massive tax hike. Of course, some in Richmond know that and will push for that increase in the "name of the children" eventually. To oppose such an increase will be deemed anti-child.

In this time of economic uncertainty, it is even more important that government be fiscally responsible. The Department of Education's budget should be just as vulnerable to state budget adjustments as any other department in order to return Virginia to economic stability. Education funding should be tied to education outcomes. Virginia's Standards of Learning do not in anyway influence funding, although they most certainly should factor into the equation. 

There are two ways to fix our ailing education system in Virginia — fix the SOQs and provide families with the freedom to choose the school, public or private, that suits their needs (more school choice and options). We cannot continue to fund public education without public accountability.

McAuliffe Gearing Up For Gubernatorial Bid

Although only in an "exploratory" stage, make no mistake: Top Clintonista Terry McAuliffe is running to be the commonwealth's next governor, just as we predicted in September (see here). Before all the ballots could be counted from the just completed election, he announced a tour of Virginia to meet and listen to voters (or just to learn town and county names and locations, thinks the cynic). However, based on who he is lining up as campaign staff, he's fully committed to go. According to Wednesday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has secured the services and/or commitments of Mike Henry, who ran Mark Warner's winning U.S. Senate campaign and Governor Tim Kaine's2005 gubernatorial race; Jenny Nadicksbernd, a fundraiser for Warner and Kaine; and communications veteran Mo Elleithee. Other consultants under consideration for polling and advertising all have long-time Virginia Democrat connections.

McAuliffe will face Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath) and Delegate Brian Moran (D-46, Alexandria) in a June primary. While there is plenty of material to use against McAuliffe, such as his ties to Teamsters Union corruption (see Counterpunch, here) and his massive stock profit while Global Crossing went bankrupt (Enron, before Enron), Dem supporters of the two legislators may be queuing up another line of attack: Not only is he a come-here with no experience in Virginia government, he flirted with running for governor once before — in Florida. The degree of the nastiness of the Democrat campaign may go a long way in determining the success of presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, his ticket mates and House candidates.

Prayer Rally Tomorrow For State Police Chaplains

By now most Virginians are familiar with the decision of Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty, a political appointee of Governor Tim Kaine, to order state police chaplains to cease praying "in Christ's name." Six state police chaplains resigned their duties as chaplains over the decision (see our commentaries, here). In the beginning of October, The Family Foundation participated in a capital press conference with several pastors from around Virginia in support of the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains and to urge Governor Kaine to reverse an order telling the chaplains they can't pray "in Jesus' name."

You were faithful when we asked you to contact Governor Kaine and state police Superintendent Flaherty and urge them to reverse the chaplain prayer policy!

Now, we are asking you to consider joining other Virginians for a "Pray in Jesus Name" prayer rally, on Saturday, November 1, at the Capitol Square Bell Tower, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (900 Bank Street) in downtown Richmond. This free, non-partisan rally will include pastors, policymakers, political, civic, and church leaders, a praise band, a gospel choir, and a time of prayer for the chaplains, our nation and our government. Please arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. so the event can begin promptly. 

You will hear the following individuals share their hearts and prayers at this event:

    » Mat Staver, Dean, Liberty University School of Law     » Dr. Rick Scarborough, Vision America     » Pastor Victor Torres, New Life International Outreach     » Bishop Darryl Husband, Mt. Olivett Church     » Delegate Charles W. "Bill" Carrico (R-5, Independence)     » Dr. Jeff Ginn, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia      » Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, "Chaps"

For more information about this event, click here, at the Pray In Jesus Name Web site.

Breaking News: McDonnell Tells Fairfax Registrar To Count The Military's Votes!

The U.S. Military doesn't fight and die overseas to protect our freedoms so that unscrupulous people in power back home can deny them their own constitutional rights.

When the news first broke late last week that the grossly partisan Fairfax County registrar, Rokey Suleman (contact here), was not going to count absentee ballots by military personnel, we were livid. This same man registered Fairfax County Jail inmates to vote earlier this month. (Why not? Captive audience, right?) But he wanted to deny the votes of hundreds of Virginians who are abroad fighting for our (including his) security and freedom. The gall of this man!

From the D.C. Examiner:

Inmates at the Fairfax County jail were encouraged to register and vote last week by (Democrat) elections officials making what the county's (Democrat) sheriff called the first visit of its kind in his 30 years with the county. 

We were ready to blog about this absolute gross injustice — first brought to the public's attention by Delegates Bill Janis (R-56, Glen Allen) and Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), both military veterans (Delegate Lingamfelter was a tank colonel in the Gulf War) — when we just received a news release from the office of Attorney General Bob McDonnell announcing that he has written and issued an opinion that tells Mr. Suleman to shape up and count the votes! (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article, here.) Delegate Janis last week officially requested the opinion from Attorney General McDonnell — himself a vet and whose daughter has been deployed to Iraq.  

At issue was a minor technicality (Richmond Times-Dispatch article, here) that no Virginia registrar had ever considered an impediment to the counting of the votes of overseas military personnel, especially since a federal law allows military personnel a waiver for the particular circumstance in question. Yet, Mr. Suleman, the jailbird cherry picker, proposed to be the first to ignore the federal law. (Human Events article here).

Another irony: Fairfax County is the home to George Washington. Fine way of continuing the tradition, Mr. Suleman, of respecting the U.S. Military, which your county's most famous citizen did so much to form.

Meanwhile, where was Governor Tim Kaine on this issue? Not a peep. Isn't he Barack Obama's national co-chairman? Coincidence in his silence? We can tell you that besides travelling the country to campaign for liberal Democrats while the commonwealth's finances are falling apart, Governor Kaine was busy restoring felons' voting rights at such a dizzying rate that one wonders if he has diligently reviewed their applications. At this point last year he had restored a record 729 felons voting rights outdone only by this year's blistering pace of 758, per Delegate Janis on WRVA radio Friday afternoon.

The right to vote is a cherished value in our country. Actions by Mr. Suleman and the governor, not to mention renegade groups such as ACORN (see the CNN column of Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times), devalue the votes of all law abiding citizens and the brave men and women in uniform who constantly defend us and our freedoms.

Posted below is the news release issued by the office of Attorney General Bob McDonnell. The link to the opinion itself is at the conclusion of the statement. 

McDonnell Opinion: Count Absentee Military Ballots

Opinion Finds Federal Law Preempts State Law; Federal Ballots without Witness Address Are Lawful, Must be Counted

Fairfax — Attorney General Bob McDonnell released a formal opinion today concluding that federal absentee ballots from overseas military voters lacking the printed name and address of a witness must be counted. The opinion affirms that federal law preempts state law, thus clarifying the state and federal statutes regarding the issue. The confusion centered over whether a state law requiring a witness's printed name and address controls federal absentee ballots or the federal law governs this issue. The opinion was requested by Delegate Bill Janis (R-Henrico) and is attached to this release.

In the formal opinion the Attorney General finds, "It is . . . my opinion that the applicable provision of Virginia law, § 24.2-702.1(B), interpreted to require an overseas military voter submitting only a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to include the printed name and address of the person who signs the witness statement is preempted by the provisions of the (federal) Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Finally, it is my opinion that general registrars may not reject a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot submitted by overseas military voters for the November 4, 2008 federal election that does not include a printed name and address for the person who signs the witness statement. ..."

Approximately 100 Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots have been set aside in Fairfax County pending a legal conclusion regarding the discrepancy between state and federal law. Additional Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots may also have been received in other jurisdictions. The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is most commonly used by members of the military who are stationed overseas and have not received a state absentee ballot. It is a means by which service members can be guaranteed a vote in federal elections.

A copy of this formal opinion was provided to the State Board of Elections this afternoon.

Click here for Attorney General McDonnell's official seven page opinion.

Is The Governor Fiddling, Part 2/Quote Of The Day

Two weeks ago we asked if Governor Tim Kaine was fiddling around with national politics while Richmond and the Virginia budget was burning (click here) because he was running around the country campaigning for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. We're not the only ones who think so. Today, The Washington Times (click here) ran a feature on what the governor's schedule has been like in recent weeks. Among the states he's visited: Georgia, Iowa, Indiana and Texas, Colorado and Arizona. Which prompted this comment in The Times from House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-8, Salem):

He clearly has spent almost as much time out of the state as he has in the state. I think we're going to find a lot of little things that he probably should have been on top of.

One of those "little things" is "chaplain-gate" which Griffith notes had been brewing for several weeks. The out of balance Virginia budget may be another. Although many claim the governor's budget was out of whack from the beginning or, at the very least, he wasn't paying attention to it because of his campaigning, he claims in The Times article that the national economy is to blame. (Funny how the national economy gets no credit when times are good, eh, governor?)

The governor says he has good people in place and gives them latitude to run the government. How does this explain Jody Wagner, his former finance secretary, who produced the bogus numbers upon which he based his budget? Also, if true, why elect a governor? Let's just keep these good people in place for life.

Delegate Bill Janis (R-56, Glen Allen), who has claimed that Kaine called this past summer's special session of the General Assembly to raise his national political profile in order to wedge his way onto Senator Obama's ticket, however, earns our coveted Quote of the Day. As he told The Times:

I think he's abandoned any pretense of trying to be the governor. At least Nero stayed in Rome and fiddled while it burned. He's out in Colorado.

Just as we said two weeks ago. The other difference Kaine has with Nero is that he not only fiddled during the fire, he started the fire as well. Now the question is, does the governor have the will, the poise, the sound judgement, the willingness to be bi-partisan — the time off the campaign trail — to grab a hose and put out the fire — not to mention tend to the other matters at hand?

Is The Governor Fiddling?

Is Governor Tim Kaine fiddling while Richmond burns? While he lays off 570 state government employees (see Washington Post, here), many of whom are in the all important corrections field, because of a budget deficit he caused by ignoring projections of a severe revenue shortfall so he could start new, unwanted programs such as Pre-K education, His Excellency is heading this weekend to Arizona and Colorado to campaign for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. It was his hyper campaigning for Senator Obama during the primaries, then his self-promotion campaign to get himself on the Democrat ticket as its vice presidential nominee, that many say got Governor Kaine into this budget mess. That is to say, he took his eyes off his duties for the glamor of presidential politics. Whether that's true or not, it is certain that he obstinately refused to listen to many sane voices in the General Assembly to scale back his spending plan (the budget is based on revenue projections). He didn't and here we are, eliminating security jobs and closing prisons instead of eliminating social engineering programs.

More savings Governor Kaine said he's found are in the elimination of unfilled jobs. How this saves money since no salary is spent on people who aren't working is confusing at best. Phantom savings? But don't forget about his cutting the bottled water shipments to Capitol Square offices (see Richmond Times-Dispatch, here).

The governor also will use bonds instead of cash to pay for construction which will pile up further debt to be repaid later. Funny how it's fine to use debt to build monuments — uhhh, make that buildings to name after politicians — but can't be used for transportation which is a necessity and government responsibility. It also begs the question, why is our government so big that we are constructing more state buildings? (Buying them, too: The state just bought the high-rise Verizon building in downtown Richmond.)

Another major component of Governor Kaine's budget balancing is his raid on the Rainy Day Fund, which is budget surplus; in other words, our tax money which just sits in an account, not to be refunded when we have annual surpluses, but to be used to continue feeding the government beast when the economy turns south and the politicians don't think they can tax us any further. 

Governor Kaine's actions haven't been too popular, to say the least, with state government employees and others. Now the interesting part really comes into play: Will his barnstorming for Senator Obama while the state's budget deficit explodes have any backlash on Senator Obama in Virginia? It's a tune we're waiting to hear the fiddler play while the fire rages on.   

Still More On Chaplain-Gate, From The Press Conference

This is the statement delivered by Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb (see archived video) at last week's news conference regarding the Virginia State Police chaplains who resigned after ordered to stop praying in Jesus' name. More than a dozen pastors attended,  including ministers from our pastors outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, and other organizations, as well as from various denominations and ethnic backgrounds, many of whom addressed the media as well. 

Remarks of Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia states, "That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." Today, thanks to the action of State Police Superintendent Flaherty (contact here) and its endorsement by Governor Tim Kaine (contact here), Thomas Jefferson's words are little more than ink on paper. Today, the words of the Statute for Religious Freedom that is the foundation for the tradition of religious liberty in our nation, rings hollow in the ears of a handful of Christian chaplains who have had their opinions in matters of religion diminished and their civil capacities affected simply because they refuse to silence their faith.

Unfortunately, expunging our Judeo-Christian heritage from the public square seems all too in vogue in 21st century America, with elected officials and their political appointees leading the way. In the name of tolerance, public faith is frowned upon. While we would hope that Virginia's rich heritage of freedom would insulate us from such discrimination, recent history proves this not to be the case.

The recent decision by Superintendent Flaherty and its subsequent endorsement by Governor Kaine is an act of anti-Christian hysteria based on a flawed decision by a three judge panel of the 4th circuit court that has yet to be upheld and is, in fact, in conflict with other circuit court decisions from around the country. 

The policy clearly violates the First Amendment protected rights of free speech and religious freedom. Requiring a Christian chaplain to effectively pray "to an unknown God" should frighten every American and Virginian regardless of their faith. Once again our sacred rights are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. 

At The Family Foundation, we are urging our members and members of our pastor outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, to contact Governor Kaine (contact here) and Superintendent Flaherty (contact here) to urge them to reinstate the religious freedom and free expression rights of chaplains by reversing their decision. The people of Virginia are responding. Today, you see before you several members of Pastors For Family Values who are also here to show support to the chaplains and to encourage that this policy be reversed.

In the meantime, The Family Foundation is working with attorneys from Alliance Defense Fund and members of the General Assembly to determine what legal or legislative remedies are available to us. While we would prefer that the governor and superintendent do the right thing, we will be prepared for them if they choose to entrench themselves behind this poor decision.

It is unfortunate that at a time when the commonwealth faces a $3 billion revenue shortfall because of poor planning, the governor's administration has found the time to restrict the religious freedom rights of state police chaplains.  Of course, this isn't the first time in recent years that a governor and his staff have chosen to try to reduce religious liberty rights or remove traces of our Christian heritage from our nation.

During the administration of Governor Mark Warner, efforts were made to remove the phrase "In the Year of our Lord" from official documents. In fact, today if you apply to be a Notary Public, you are given the option to have that simple phrase left off of your certification paperwork. One must ask, for what reason did Mark Warner choose to spend time while governor removing a simple Christian phrase from state documents? Perhaps it was motivated by his fear of the "Christian Coalition, right to lifers, and home-schoolers" who he once referred to as "threatening to what it means to be an American."   

Considering the challenges of being governor, it is disturbing that both governors Warner and Kaine have found the time, or their staffs have found the time, to attack religious freedom.

Virginians are growing tired of these attacks on public faith. Our commonwealth and nation are founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and no amount of revisionist history or politically motivated anti-Christian bigotry will erase the truth.

The Family Foundation urges the governor and state police superintendent to reverse this discriminatory policy immediately. We urge them to reflect on what it means to be a Virginian, to reflect on the responsibility they have to our Founding Fathers. Stand for religious liberty — true religious tolerance — and protect the rights of these chaplains.

Eminent Domain Update In Virginia

One of the many legislative victories of which we have been a part during recent years, and one in which we are most proud, is the 2007 eminent domain reform law. Proud for a number of reasons: It righted a grievous wrong and demonstrated that when we stand on principle and work hard, much can be accomplished; we were part of a large coalition that fought the entrenched corporate and bureaucratic interests and proved that good really can come out of the legislative system; and because so many of you faithfully stayed engaged and kept up the pressure on legislators as the story of the legislation took more twists in the tale than the Crooked Road in our Great Southwest. Bills patroned by Senators Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Steve Newman (R-23, Forest), Delegates Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) and Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth), and others helped overturn the effects of the deplorable Kelo vs. New London, Conn. decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed governments to take private property, often family owned homes and businesses, and give it to large corporations. The bills were passed — after much redrafting and debate (one powerful senator said property rights are not in the constitution!) — by overwhelming majorities in both chambers and signed into law, somewhat reluctantly, and with a few slight amendments, by Governor Tim Kaine.

While the law has immensely improved property protections for Virginia families who own homes and family-owned businesses, it still doesn't go far enough as evidenced by "quick takes" of local governing bodies. Nor are its protections fool-proof since a future General Assembly can change the law. Don't think it can happen? Jeremy Hopkins, in a study he authored for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, documents Virginia's lapse from a leading private property state that cherished and constitutionally protected individual property rights, to one of the weakest in the union prior to the 2007 legislation (click here). (This study was the "Bible" for those of us who worked on this bill in 2007. The state's power over the fruits of you labor will frighten you.) 

Hopkins underscores the foundational importance of private property rights to a democratic society:

Finally, the right to private property undergirds and protects all other rights. It truly is "the guardian of every other right." A cursory review of the Bill of Rights reveals that many of the rights Americans cherish have little significance without the recognition and protection of private property. Not only do many of these rights presume the right to private property, but these rights have little meaning without the right to private property.

For instance, what good is the right to free speech if one has no property from which to speak freely? What good is the right to free speech if the government owns all printing presses and all means of recording, producing, and dispensing speech? What good is the right to assemble and petition the government if one has no property on which to freely assemble and petition? What good is the right to worship freely if one has no property on which to freely worship? What good is the right to worship freely if the state owns the church, employs the clergymen, and prints all religious material?

For an absolute guarantee of secure property rights in Virginia tougher measures are needed and they need to be put into the constitution. Some of the same lawmakers noted above are interested in proposing such an amendment this coming session. It's never too early to encourage your delegates and senators to support such constitutional protections (click here)

To get an update on the status of eminent domain in Virginia — and your rights — read this post and hear this interview with Hopkins from the blog Tertium Quids (click here). Just as with any right, to secure it, we must stay informed and active.

Constitution 101 Quote Of The Day

It truly is remarkable the lack of understanding some people have of the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions. Some of them actually run for, get elected and serve in high office. Case in point: In Friday night's debate between U.S. Senate candidates Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Jim Gilmore, both former governors, Warner was asked a question regarding his veto of a bill which would allow Virginia offshore drilling for oil and natural gas once federal approval is given. Even his Democrat successor, Governor Tim Kaine signed a similar bill. That the question came up surprised us. We posted it Friday afternoon as one of five questions we wanted to hear, although we doubted they would get asked. Gilmore used the veto to blunt Warner's claim that he now supports domestic drilling. 

Defending himself, Warner gave us our Quote Of The Day:

That bill I vetoed because it was the legislature telling the governor what to do in terms of a specific piece of legislation.

But a quick glance at the Constitution verifies that is, in fact, how it works: The legislative branch passes a law and the executive branch executes it (thus the word "executive"). Sort of like a tax increase, where the legislature sets "specific" rates and the executive collects it, something Mr. Warner should know all about. It's as if he was saying he didn't recognize the other two branches of government. Even stranger, this is the same Mark Warner who loves to talk about how bipartisan he and the General Assembly were during his four years in Richmond. All of sudden, it was a partisan machine, trying to roll him over.

(Almost as peculiar, he advocated that "all levels of government . . . local, state and federal" start placing orders for new cars "for 2010 and 2011" from Detroit — cars that get 100 miles per gallon. There are several problems here, perhaps the major one being that they don't exist!)

Also during the debate, adding to his misunderstanding of constitutional matters, Warner repeated the often misstated meaning of overturning Roe vs. Wade. If the case ever gets overturned, it would not end abortion nationwide immediately — a common liberal scare tactic. It simply would return the decision making from the federal courts to each state. 

There are no individual sound bytes of the Quote of the Day that we could find. Instead, you can view the entire debate by clicking here. You can drag the progression bar forward to 40:45 to hear Warner's futuristic 100 mph car claim and to 43:38 to hear the QOD. If you did not see or hear the debate, we encourage you to view it in its entirety in order to make an informed decision this November in this important U.S. Senate contest. It takes less than an hour and is an invigorating give and take.

Live From Roanoke! Jim Gilmore And Mark Warner In Senate Debate Tonight

We had some comments earlier this week on the vice presidential debate, such as posing questions we'd like to hear asked. We only had two. Alas, neither were asked. In just a few hours, live at 7:00 from Roanoke's new Taubman Museum, former governors Jim Gilmore, the Republican nominee, and Mark Warner, the Democrat nominee, will have their only live televised statewide debate in their campaign for Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat. (George Allen and Jim Webb even debated on NBC's Meet The Press.) It will be worth watching. Record it if you must. In some areas it will be replayed later and C-SPAN is televising it and may repeat it as well. Others are Web streaming it.

Since Jim Gilmore has repeatedly asked for several live debates, as is the Virginia tradition, and since Mark Warner bailed out of one and only agreed to this one late in the game, we'd like to hear any one of these questions to Mr. Warner:

1. Mr. Warner, you claimed at the time, and still do, that your record setting tax increase was necessary because you had cut state government spending as far you could and needed the state revenue to keep the budget in balance. If so, why does the State Department of Planning and Budget Web site (click here) show that state spending under your administration went from $12.1 billion in Fiscal Year '03 general fund spending to $12.4 billion in FY '04 and then to $13.8 billion in FY '05. What exactly did you cut before you burdened Virginia's families with higher taxes?

2. If you tax increases left Virginia in such great fiscal shape, why has Governor Tim Kaine felt it necessary to try to raise taxes still more every year since?

3. Mr. Warner, when you were governor, you vetoed a bill to allow off shore drilling in Virginia. Now you say you are for it. Why should we believe you are for meaningful off shore drilling that will create thousands of jobs and bring in millions in revenue for Virginia?

4. Mr. Warner, you say you are a "moderate" who is willing to reach out and be bi-partisan. Yet you have not shown one area of disagreement with Barack Obama, who was listed as the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate by the non-partisan National Journal (more liberal, even, than the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont). Please list some major policies where you disagree with Barack Obama and agree with John McCain.

5. To both: What year was Franklin Roosevelt elected president and when did he first go on television?

We're not expecting any of the questions to be asked, but the candidates are welcome to come here and respond.

Stations Showing The Debate Live Tonight Charlottesville: WVIR 29 NBC Johnson City, Tenn.: WJHL 11 CBS Harrisonburg: WHSV 3 ABC Norfolk: WVBT 43 Fox Norfolk: WHRO 15 PBS Richmond: WWBT 12 NBC

Richmond: WTVR Digital 6.2 CBS (Comcast Channel 206) Roanoke: WBRA PBS Roanoke: WSLS 10 NBC  National: C-SPAN Streaming live online at Streaming live online at

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Stations Re-Broadcasting The Debate Washington, D.C.: News Channel 8 at 11:00 p.m. Friday Washington, D.C.: WRC 4 NBC at 7:00 a.m. Sunday

"Chaplain-Gate" Not Going Away

State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty's decision, since endorsed by Governor Tim Kaine (contact here), to forbid Christian chaplains from praying "in Jesus name" during "public events" is causing quite a commotion in the capital city. Tomorrow, The Family Foundation and our pastor outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, will participate in a press conference with several other groups urging a reversal of the policy.  In addition, citizens are making their voice heard. Through The Family Foundation and Pastor For Family Values e-mail alerts, both Kaine and Flaherty have received dozens of e-mails in the past 24 hours from concerned citizens wanting the policy to be changed.

Regardless, this issue isn't going away. We're looking at both legal and legislative options, so if Kaine and Flaherty decide to ignore the voice of Virginians and hide behind their friends at the ACLU, we'll take the battle to court or to the statehouse. 

Chaplain Gate

The birthplace for religious freedom in America is quickly becoming its graveyard.  News stories broke across Virginia yesterday concerning a case The Family Foundation became involved with last week (read Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article, here). The superintendent of the Virginia State Police, a political appointee of Governor Tim Kaine, recently ordered State Police chaplains to cease praying "in Christ's name" (read Richmond Times-Dispatch article, here). Apparently the superintendent did this proactively, without any complaints from anyone "offended" that a chaplain actually had prayed to God. Six of the chaplains have had the courage to resign their positions over this order.

Last week we were informed of this new policy and were put in contact with one of the chaplains involved. We then connected him with Alliance Defense Fund, one of the leading religious liberty legal advocate groups in the nation. It currently is reviewing the facts of the case to determine the proper action. Wednesday,  House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-8, Salem) and Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Independence) slammed Governor Kaine and the state police superintendent for this new policy in a press release, bringing this situation to light (read Washington Times article, here).

The superintendent says he is basing his policy change on a recent U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving prayer at government meetings, specifically a case where a pastor in the Fredericksburg area was ordered to stop praying "in Jesus name" at city council meetings. The court concluded that allowing someone to publicly pray according to his beliefs at a government meeting was an "establishment of religion" because the prayer was "government speech."

Once again the religious liberty and free speech rights of Christians have been banished from the public square (read Roanoke Times article, here). Arguing that allowing someone to offer a sectarian prayer is an "endorsement of religion" is absurd. It turns the establishment clause of the First Amendment against the free exercise clause as if the two are incompatible. Just the idea that there is such a thing as "government speech" violates the fundamental idea of America. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves.

This situation again highlights the importance of who will sit on the courts deciding these cases. Ultimately, it is likely that this will all be resolved by the United States Supreme Court. Because at least two justices on that court likely are to retire during the term of the next president, the judicial philosophy the candidates for president hold is a critical decision point as we determine who should receive our vote.

We will continue to work with the troopers involved in this case, the Alliance Defense Fund, and members of the General Assembly to seek an outcome where religious liberty once again stands as a pillar of strength in our commonwealth.

Unintended Consequences

No, not that one. Not at all. Actually, something interesting, realistic and possibly good. Norman Leahy yesterday wrote at Tertium Quids (click here) that an unintended consequence of Governor Tim Kaine's $3 billion budget deficit is that real cuts in state spending might be made — not just reductions in increases that pols like to brag about at campaign time as big-time spending reductions (see Times-Dispatch article, here). If such cuts are made, speculates Leahy, then maybe cost-conscious state government may turn to school choice to reduce taxpayer funded public education costs. (Click here to listen to his interview about this possibility with school choice expert Adam Schaeffer of The Cato Institute.) While we're not holding our breath, maybe the pols will eliminate the unnecessary and budget busting new Pre-K program as well.

"Bishop" Biden Follows "Pope" Pelosi In Attempt To Redefine Church Truth

It keeps getting worse for certain liberal pols, especially liberal Catholics who continue to try to redefine the faith. On the heels of "pope" Pelossi's comments on Meet The Press attempting to redefine when life begins, Democrat vice-presidential nominee Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) now wants to destroy human embryos for no reason, also in contradiction to Church teaching. During his own turn on Meet The Press Sunday (see YouTube video here), Senator Biden started off well enough as he distanced himself from Pelossi, saying he knew life started at conception and understood Church teaching. However, he reiterated the typical gross, intentional misleading position that the Church's believes only are for Catholics. (In other words, the "I can't impose my believes on you" theory; or, the "I believe slavery is wrong, but if you want to own a couple, go ahead" defense.) So, when he votes to create new felonies, he's not imposing his views on the rest of us, we suppose; and certainly not when he takes away and spends our money on failed programs that ostensibly are designed to help others. No, lawmakers never impose their morality on us. The fact is, Church teaching is that Catholics have a duty to protect innocent life, not to stand by while it is massacred. (Read the "Biden Gospel" here, by Father Thomas D. Williams, on National Review Online.)

Just as with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fallacious remarks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops quickly condemned Biden's remarks (read the entire statement here). Justin Cardinal Riglai, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., and chairman of the bishops' Committee on Doctrine, wrote that the Church . . .

does not teach this as matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact. ... Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

Then, a cutting blow to the deception on which the so-called "pro-choice" argument is made. Wrote the bishops:

Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed?

The Catholic Church's answer is: Everybody . . . we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not.

In other words, there is no compromise, senator, no matter how bad you want to rationalize it to accomodate your extremist friends.

Furthering Senator Biden's blubbering attempt at Church doctrine were his remarks yesterday when he claimed that Governor Sarah Palin's (R-Alaska) pledged support for parents raising children with developmental disabilities or birth defects should drive them to support embryonic stem cell research.

Speaking to voters at an event in Columbus, Missouri, Biden said:

I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there's joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?

Catholic teaching clearly holds that embryonic stem cell research is unethical because it kills the embryo, from which life springs forth. Furthermore, he showed his lack of knowledge on the issue because recent research has proven there are techniques under development that soon will make embryonic stem cell research obsolete, where adult stem cells can be converted to act as embryonic stem cells. Not that it is necessary — while more than several dozen documented medical breakthroughs have been accomplished through adult stem cell research — not one has been accredited to embryonic stem cell research.

The McCain-Palin campaign fired off this response:

Barack Obama's running mate sunk to a new low today launching an offensive debate over who cares more about special needs children. Playing politics with this issue is disturbing and indicative of a desperate campaign.

Wrote Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List:

Today Senator Biden outrageously implied that Americans who refuse to sacrifice innocent human life in the name of unproven, desperate attempts to cure our nation's ills through embryo-destructive research somehow don't really care about children. I am a mother of five children, one with a mental disability. The fact that Joe Biden questioned the compassion of parents like me — Governor Sarah Palin, among them — makes me sputter in disbelief. 

Religion is breaking out among liberals at a dizzying and profoundly hierarchical pace: first and foremost is Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama, the "messiah;" Governor Tim Kaine played "moses" and attempted to moved mountains in Denver; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fancies herself "pope;" and former DNC Chairman Don Fowler prayed for a hurricane to hit New Orleans for political gain. What, then, could Senator Biden's fallacious and egregious pronouncements make him other than the "bishop"? He preaches at no cathedral we'd want to attend.

The Tax Payer Pledge

Yesterday, at Mr. Jefferson's capitol, the National Taxpayers Union, along with Tertium Quids, kicked off its national taxpayers pledge campaign with a news conference (read more about the event here). Perhaps there is no better location for such a launch other than the colonial capitol in Williamsburg where Patrick Henry railed against ol' King George's oppressive taxes. Interestingly, some of Governor Tim Kaine's media staff attended, doubtless on guard now that it is clear Virginians aren't exactly warm to his tax increase plans as he thought. (It must be tough getting re-accustomed to such mundane affairs after getting passed over for the VP nod.) But this in not a no tax pledge campaign, in existence for years, which asks candidates to pledge not to vote or propose or sign into law tax increases. Unfortunately, not all candidates keep their word on that.

That's where the No Tax Hikers campaign comes in. By signing the No Tax Hikers petition (click here), voting tax payers pledge not to vote for candidates who vote, propose or sign into law tax increases. (You also get a free bumper sticker.) It's the inverse of the No Tax Pledge, a counter balance to the politicians who campaign one way then cavalierly abandon their ostensible small government principles once in office.

You think people are mad about rising taxes? Even before the official unveiling of its Web site, more than 5,000 people had signed the No Tax Hiker pledge. (A counter greets you on its home page.) The more people who sign it, the more politicians of all stripes will know there are waves of voters demonstrably serious about their commitment to low taxes and smaller government — and demonstrably serious about dealing with politicians who confiscate their hard-earned money.

NOVA-Envy: Richmond-Area "Planners" Show Tone Deafness, Approve NOVA-Style Transportation Tax Authority!

For the nearly 1 million people who live in the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover, the alarm has sounded. Apparently, the business elites and their politician and government bureaucrat proxies have a bit of NOVA-envy. A panel of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission has approved the Central Virginia Regional Transportation Authority. However, given the scope of taxes it would be empowered to levy, it is grossly misnamed. We'll call it the Tax Authority. It would be able, according to today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, to raise in taxes "more than $108 million . . . annually to finance road-building and other projects." (Not to mention the inevitable staff, offices, travel to conferences and other government extravagance.) It will have the power to take your money

"from seven new or increased taxes or fees, including a 2 percent increase in the gas tax, a 40-cent increase in the grantor's tax on real-estate transactions and a 1 percent first-time vehicle registration fee." (Emphasis added.) 

The Richmond area is a growing, dynamic area for sure, home to about 13 Fortune 1000 corporate headquarters, seven universities and colleges, and Mr. Jefferson's capitol, among many other notable institutions that help it thrive. But who here is complaining about traffic? Metro Richmond is not NOVA, nor is it a wannabe. It isn't even Hampton Roads (hold your jokes until after class). At least not its citizens. Maybe the politicians have NOVA-envy. However, there's no clamor to emulate the megapolitan Northern Virginia's failed idea of burdening hard-working families, with already stretched budgets, with another layer of government and another layer of taxers and spenders waiting to dip their hands into our bank accounts. Not when local spending is as wasteful as state spending (read this and this and this and this — and that's just for starters and only for Richmond City). (Don't laugh if you live in Goochland, New Kent, Powhatan or any of the other 16 localities in the planning district — you may be next. Your politicians will be allowed to petition their way into this Tax Authority, too.)

How tone deaf can these bureaucrats and politicians be? Are they that beholden to big business to do their bidding even now, when these authorities have been voted down in other regions? When these same fees are so unpopular, even Governor Tim Kaine couldn't bully them through this summer's Special Tax Session? When the Supreme Court ruled another version of them unconstitutional — unanimously? Especially in such slow economic times? Do they not know the three taxes listed above are extra burdens on the three most troubling sectors of the economy? Is big business that desperate to make us taxpayers subsidize roads for their malls, office parks and residential areas?

As of now, this scheme isn't close to finalization. First, each governing body of the member jurisdictions must approve it, although some of the geniuses who created it are on those bodies. Then the General Assembly must approve it and the governor sign it.

The typical RINO suspects are behind the deal. One is Hanover County Supervisor John Gordon. Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett has about as much patience for your money as Dracula has for blood — he drafted the plan. (He also pushed a referendum for a $20 million meals tax in 2005 that was defeated.) What remains to be seen is whether Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) and Delegate Frank Hall (D-69, Richmond) will bring back their bills in the 2009 General Assembly session allowing the creation of the Tax Authority. They were tabled last session because the local governments had not studied them enough. Look what a little time has done.

You can contact Delegate Hall or Senator Watkins by clicking on their names at the links above. In the meantime, if you live in Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico or Hanover, click on the link to look-up your councilman or supervisor and tell them despite their inferiority complex, you have no NOVA-envy.

Is Mark Warner Afraid Of Barack Obama?

A couple of nights ago, as I nervoulsy was cheering on whatever American individual or team on the brink of elimination or medal at the Olympics, I got a call with a pleasant sounding woman on the other end. She wanted to know if I'd participate in a survey regarding the presidential campaign. I obliged, but wanted to know who was conducting it. She said she could tell me at its completion, and so we started. Here are the question predicates pretty much verbatim (they each had a scale or a modifier at the end, which isn't relevant here). I scribbled them down as soon as I hung up:

  1. Are you following the presidential campaign closely?
  2. Who are you likely to vote for?
  3. How likely are you to vote for that candidate?
  4. If not, would you vote for Barack Obama?
  5. In the U.S. Senate race, are you more likely to vote for Jim Gilmore or Mark Warner?
  6. Are your neighbors ready for a black president?
  7. Is experience or change more important in a presidential candidate?
  8. (This was a long winded push-poll question about the evils of pro-life candidates ruining women's lives versus the freedom loving pro-abortion, uhhhh, "pro-choice" candidates.)

I live in a very liberal, pretty upscale area, smack dab in the middle of Governor Tim Kaine's former fiefdom of Richmond's Fan District (when he was a Richmond city councilman just a few years ago; you know, at the same time Obama was an Illinois state senator). So I found the question about my neighbors' attitudes on a potential black, pro-abortion president, interesting. Surely the pollsters know what neighborhoods they are calling.

Surprise! At its conclusion the nice woman identified the poll as being paid for and authorized by . . . drum roll, please . . . "The Democratic Party of Virginia."

Well, I'lllllllllllllllllllll be. If it's all such a slam dunk, why are Tax Governor Warner and his apparatchiks so concerned?