Not Playing Nice IS Good Politics!

On the heels of my post last week when I extolled the leadership of New Jersey's conservative Republican Governor Chris Christie, comes a poll that shows his job approval has skyrocketed the more he confronts and takes on the opposition to reform. A new Rasmussen survey shows the governor at a whopping 57 percent approval rating (! This astonishing number comes as he is cutting state employees, their benefits and their pensions, among many other sacred cows. In August, he was at 51 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll (see The State Column blog). Either way, in a climate where establishment politicians are getting their heads handed to them, the numbers are more than impressive. It's more than a fascination or amusement with Mr. Christie's sharp tongue and undiplomatic public sarcasm (though he does score style points for that, I admit).

The lesson is that trying to be Mr. or Ms. Popularity by appealing to all sides, by playing the bland policy game, by not taking on bold initiatives, offering lukewarm reforms, and not doing what you are going to do (reduce government and tax rates, for example) pleases no one. Liberals always will think conservatives are mean and hateful, and the conservatives who elected Mr. or Ms. Popularity will abandon him or her (hello George W. Bush) for living up to his or her word.

So, it pays to have a definitive point of view, a bold agenda and a take no prisoners approach to getting it done. Better to have a dedicated following willing to give their all, than to attempt to appease all sides, water down your plan, and still have the sides aiming at each other because while they'll accept the bone thrown to them, they don't like the bone thrown to the other side. It's ironic, but you can't get popular by pleasing everyone. To paraphrase the general in one of the many great scenes in Patton:

We're fighting a war, darn it. We have to offend someone!

This is why Governor Christie is reaping a following, not only in New Jersey, but around the country. He's willing to take his policies forward not caring who complains or takes offense. He  obliterates the idea that conservative values and philosophy can win and work only in certain states or regions, or that candidates must be tailored to certain electorates. What it really shows is that conservatism, when its time-tested core of life, liberty and property are clearly articulated and fearlessly fight for, strikes the very core of the yearning most people innately have for freedom from a nanny state and their antipathy for a leviathan that thinks it can and must do everything (while driving us into insolvency) — and that they will justly reward those who do so.

Pelosi's AmeriKa

Remember when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called attendees who opposed nationalized health care at this summer's Congressional town hall meetings, "Nazis"? Ironic, since "Nazi" was a word formed from an acronym that stood for "National Socialist," but apparently it's the speaker who's all in for totalitarianism. Here, she makes it clear that she thinks it's "fair" for people who don't get health insurance to go to jail, as is in a provision of the recently passed "Saturday Night House bill." But that's only a small part of it. Among many other loss-of-freedom provisions, the bill includes fines as well as forcing self-employed people out of the insurance they purchase, like it or not, into the government-run plan. Freedom in Amerika be damned.


Government knows best, don't ya know? Speaker Pelosi: No freedom for you. If you don't like it, go directly to jail and stay there until you change your mind!

Happy Veterans Day!

The retired Army Lt. Colonel who was the commandant at the military high school I attended would tell us that the purpose of giving people off from work and school on holidays was so we would remember the significance of the day and perpetuate it. So, remember, dear readers, today is Veterans Day, not Memorial Day. Too often the days are considered synonymous (see While we should always keep in our prayers, especially after recent events, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and their families and friends who bare an unthinkable emptiness in their lives, let's remember today is the day to thank all those who served and returned. For many, however, coming home didn't mean instant joy. Whether through an unspeakable stress, severe physical injury or a prejudice of an ungrateful people, our veterans have carried a burden beyond the battlefield. Let's be sure to thank them today, and all days, for their selflessness, while still keeping those who committed the ultimate sacrifice in our prayers. Then, maybe, we'll learn to keep certain holidays for the intentions of which they were meant.

So, Happy Veterans Day to all those who proudly wore the uniform of our great nation. To those who bravely served, and still bravely serve, their fellow Americans in defense of our country and freedom around the world, we proudly offer you our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt and sincerest thanks. To those who served or still serve as Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Air Men, Reservists, and in the Coast Guard and National Guard, we offer a salute to your heroism and service to our country and freedoms.

Click here for a slide show tribute to our vets.

Click here to learn more about the holiday and how we can thank them.

We Stood For Freedom Roger J. Robicheau Former U.S. Army Specialist Fifth Class

We stood for freedom just like you And loved the flag you cherish too Our uniforms felt great to wear You know the feel, and how you care.

In step we marched, the cadence way The same is true with you today Oh how we tried to do our best As you do now, from test to test How young we were and proud to be Defenders of true liberty.

So many thoughts bind soldiers well The facts may change, not how we jell Each soldier past, and you now here Do share what will not disappear One thought now comes, straight from my heart For soldiers home, who've done their part.

I'm honored to have served with you May Godly peace, help get you through And now I'll end with a request Do ponder this, while home at rest America, respect our day Each veteran, helped freedom stay.

©2002 Roger J. Robicheau/ 

That's One Big All-Purpose Table

This isn't so much a slam against Creigh Deeds for his vague, indecisive, obfuscating way of saying he'll raise our taxes in a recession, as it is the grammarian and rhetorician in me: Can we please cut out the cliches, people! However, since it is election season, when you combine this with his infamous tax and other dodges, and his braggadocio on submitting the most budget amendments in the General Assembly — a billion dollars worth — it all kind of comes together nicely. Oh, one other thing thing not purposely vague about the Deeds campaign was the news of a late $25,000 donation from the United Association, a Big Labor group that works to dismantle Right-To-Work laws.

Disparate questions about his plans, but the same answer from Senator Deeds:

If it's pro-Big Labor and means more taxes, spending and regulation, and less freedom, "it's on the table" for Creigh Deeds. 

Voter Registration Deadline This Monday Afternoon!

This coming Monday, October 5, is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the November election. If you are not registered, or if you have recently moved, be sure to go to your local voter registrar’s office and register to vote. You may also download the Virginia voter registration from the State Board of Elections’ Web site by clicking here. All eyes are on Virginia and New Jersey this November, as the only two states with statewide elections. The outcomes will be crucial and it is vital that your voice is heard. Will Virginia continue down the path of secular progressivism, the seeds of which are being planted by the Obama Administration, or will we say, "enough is enough," and return to the proven principles of freedom, respect for life, traditional marriage and smaller, limited government? We are blessed in this nation to be able to choose our governmental leaders. We must do all that we can to ensure that we elect men and women who understand that the greatness our nation is in its Judeo-Christian foundation and that we must uphold those principles if we are to remain a great nation.

If you already are registered to vote, make sure your friends and family members also are registered. Offer to take them to the registrar’s office or help them download the registration form (you can also register at places such as libraries and the DMV). If possible, hold a voter registration drive in your church this Sunday.

Four years ago, the Attorney General’s race was decided by just 360 votes. Every vote counts!

In addition, the military deadline is approaching as well! If you are a Virginia resident serving in the military outside of the commonwealth or have a son or daughter deployed who needs to register, military personnel may use the Federal Post Card Application to register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot both at the same time. The application must be received by the local registrar by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 5. There is a provision for these to be faxed or e-mai as well as through the U.S. Postal Service. For more information, click here for the Virginia State Board of Elections page on the military.

Tea Party Redux

We were so overwhelmed by pictures and video of the almost two dozen official Tax Day Tea Parties last month, that we haven't been able to post all the great sights and sounds from them. We got some of them up — from Richmond, Woodbridge, Virginia Beach, and even Chicago. We pledge to get more highlights up as we approach July 4, when more are planned across the country, as a follow-up and a reminder not to let this fire die. Below is video of John Taylor, president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy and Tertium Quids, at the Richmond Tea Party, where he addressed an estimated 5,000 people as one of the featured speakers. (He also spoke in Charlottesville that day.) A combination of intellect and inspiration, he covers a lot of ground. But it's well worth a look and listen. The applause at the  conclussion of his speech doesn't do justice to the actual level of noise and approving enthusiasm he received.

"In a sentence in a half . . . Jefferson . . . set forth a new world order for the ages. ... The role of the sovereign would be performed by the people." 

"We know what our Founders stood for. Do we know what we stand for?" Freedom is something "no good man surrenders but with his life."

Christmas: The Triumph Of Light

From all of us at The Family Foundation of Virginia, to all of you, heartfelt wishes for a blessed, joyous and God-filled Christmas. May the  joy of His birth and the humility it represents refresh our lives to the true meaning and purpose of life, love and worship. We will be off for a few days, but will return as hard hitting, informative and snarky as ever. In the meantime, we leave you with this beautiful Christmas message from the Great John Paul II, from AD2000:

The Mystery of Humanity Redeemed By Christ

Pope John Paul II

Christmas 2000 homily

The words of the Apostle Paul — "The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45) — sum up the mystery of humanity redeemed by Christ. A mystery hidden in God's eternal plan; a mystery which, in a certain way, became history with the incarnation of the Eternal Word of the Father; a mystery which the Church re-lives with profound emotion each Christmas.

Adam, the first "living man", Christ, "a life-giving spirit": the words of the Apostle help us to look more deeply, to recognise in the Child born in Bethlehem the Lamb once slain, who unveils the meaning of history (cf Rev 5:7- 9). At his Birth time and eternity met: God in man and man in God.

The immortal genius of Michelangelo portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel the moment when God the Father communicated the gift of life to the first man and made him "a living being". Between the finger of God and the finger of man stretching out to each other and almost touching, there seems to leap an invisible spark: God communicates to man a tremor of his own life, creating him in his own image and likeness.

Human Dignity

That divine breath is the origin of the unique dignity of every human being, of humanity's boundless yearning for the infinite. It is to that instant of impenetrable mystery, the beginning of human life on earth, that our thoughts turn, as we contemplate the Son of God who becomes the son of man, the eternal face of God reflected in the face of a Child.

Because of the divine spark placed within him, man is a being endowed with intelligence and freedom, and thus capable of deciding responsibly regarding himself and his own destiny.

The great fresco of the Sistine Chapel continues with the scene of original sin: the serpent, wrapped round the tree, persuades our first parents to eat its forbidden fruit. The genius of art and the intensity of the Biblical symbolism are perfectly wedded in order to evoke that tragic moment, the beginning for humanity of a history of rebellion, sin and sorrow.

But could God forget the work of his hands, the masterpiece of creation? We know faith's answer: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5).

These words of the Apostle Paul ring out with particular eloquence as we contemplate the wondrous event of Christmas. In the newborn Child, laid in the manger, we greet the "new Adam" who became for us "a life-giving spirit". The whole history of the world tends towards him, born in Bethlehem in order to restore hope to every man and woman on the face of the earth.

From the manger, our gaze takes in all humanity, called to receive the grace of the "second Adam", yet still heir to the sin of the "first Adam". Is it not this first "No" to God, repeated in every human sin, which continues to mar the face of humanity? Children subjected to violence, humiliated and abandoned, women raped and exploited, young people, adults and the elderly marginalised, endless streams of exiles and refugees, violence and conflict in so many parts of the world.

We cannot but recall that shadows of death threaten people's lives at every stage of life, and are especially menacing at its earliest beginning and its natural end. The temptation is becoming ever stronger to take possession of death by anticipating its arrival, as though we were masters of our own lives or the lives of others. We are faced by alarming signs of the "culture of death", which pose a serious threat for the future.

Yet however dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the Light which appeared on that Holy Night at Bethlehem is stronger still. So much good is being done, silently, by men and women who daily live their faith, their work, their dedication to their families and to the good of society.

Encouraging too are the efforts of all those, including men and women in public life, striving to foster respect for the human rights of every person, and the growth of solidarity between peoples of different cultures, so that the debt of the poorest countries will be condoned and honourable peace agreements reached between nations engaged in tragic conflicts.

Message Of Christmas

To peoples in all parts of the world who are moving with courage towards the values of democracy, freedom, respect and mutual acceptance, and to all persons of good will, whatever their culture, the joyful message of Christmas is addressed: "Peace on earth to those on whom God's favour rests" (cf Lk 2:14).

You, Lord Jesus, born for us at Bethlehem, ask respect for every person, especially the small and the weak; you ask for an end to all forms of violence — to wars, oppression, and all attacks on life. O Christ, whom we look on in the arms of Mary, you are the reason for our hope. Saint Paul tells us: "The old has passed away, behold, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5:17).

In you, only in you, is humanity offered the chance to become "a new creation". Thank you, Child Jesus, for this your gift! Happy Christmas to all!

This is the edited text of Pope John Paul II's Christmas 2000 homily. With acknowledgement to Catholic Information Network.

School Choice: Whether Educrats Like It Or Not

Despite rabid opposition from the education establishment across the nation, more states are realizing that restoring parents' freedom to choose how their child is educated is critical to guaranteeing the best education possible. In recent years Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania, to name a few, have passed various forms of education choice legislation. Even the District of Columbia has opened the doors of education freedom to parents. In Virginia, the birthplace of liberty in our nation, the idea of extending that freedom to parents of children in elementary and secondary schools is met with ferocious hostility by the education unions and, unfortunately, a majority of legislators. "Choice," it seems, is limited by too many only to abortion. While Virginia government provides direct assistance to families with children in pre-K programs or college, no such assistance is available for kids K-12. In fact, college TAG grants provide essentially the same type of education choice we need in K-12, so for the state to say the general model won't work is a little disingenuous.

We have long advocated for providing parents the freedom to choose the best education environment for their children. As we move through the 21st century, we remain in a 19th century education model — a "once size fits all" approach that fails too many children. Educrats simply offer to continue to pour more and more money into a system — notice their rhetoric is always about the "system" — instead of allowing parents to find the best environment for their children's particular needs.

Tuesday, we were pleased to join several other organizations in Virginia to announce the formation of School Choice Virginia, started by school choice advocate Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton). The event garnered a lot of statewide attention (see our post and the news links here, as well as a new article, today, here.) This group will review the myriad of potential proposals and work to bring about real education freedom in Virginia through advocacy and education.

At the Richmond press conference announcing the group, former Washington, D.C., City Councilman Ken Chavous, an African-American Democrat, endorsed our efforts. Mr. Chavous has seen first hand the impact of giving families more opportunities to educate children in communities where far too many never even make it to graduation. He now is traveling the country, working with legislators and organizations, to bring education choice to all of our nation's families.

In his comments, Mr. Chavous made it clear that this is not a partisan issue — it became largely so, as so many others, when it became federalized. Rather, this is an issue of liberty and it's about what is best for our nations' children. We can no longer be held hostage by the education establishment.

Not only will education freedom help students struggling in poor performing schools, but it also will save taxpayers money. Study after study shows that when choice is introduced, enrollment in public schools decreases, but much of the money spent on the students that leave stays with the school. In essence, the schools have more money to spend per child.  Though we know that money isn't the answer, this undermines opponents who claim that school choice will "take money from public schools." Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only that, but the new competition forces public schools to improve — and in many cases they do.

Frankly, school choice is coming to Virginia. It's coming whether the educrat establishment likes it or not. It may take some time, but as more and more states recognize the need for educational freedom, the only question that remains is whether Virginia will take the lead in granting families more liberty, or whether it will once again choose to fall further and further behind the rest of the nation in the area of freedom.