legislature

Priggish? Who, Us? The Family Foundation? Never!

Michael Paul Williams is a Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist who puts the lie to the myth that the paper is "conservative." A front page metro section columnist whose topics expand well beyond issues affecting Greater Richmond, he blames every societal ill and snowless Christmas on conservatives. He bangs out knee-jerk responses to to anything conservatives do and screams that the world is coming to an end. Why, yesterday, he even was upset that some mindless cable comics who have fewer viewers than he has readers  might make some jokes about Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Williams' concern? The attorney general is embarassing our state over a lapel pin! Horrors! We'll never survive!  Unlike the accusation that the AG was "changing" the state seal to cover an exposed breast on the Roman goddess Virtus, Mr. Cuccinelli simply bought his staff — with donated money — lapel pins that replicated an actual historic flag that hangs in the capitol itself.

Mr. Williams thinks this somehow is a religious view "encroaching on government." What about Mr. Cuccinelli's freedom of expression? Are Americans not allowed to wear whatever buttons and stickers they want? Or is that right reserved only for liberals? Instead, Mr. Williams and the hysterical liberal crowd would have you believe the attorney general somehow ordered all official state flags and stationery changed (which only the legislature can do). It's typical leftist demagoguery: Misdefine the issue and blast away with vindictiveness, derision and hate. The irony is hard to escape any regular reader of Mr. Williams, who has uncommonly come to the defense of a historic Virginia symbol.

But I digress. The real issue here is that Mr. Williams dares to call Mr. Cuccinelli and The Family Foundation, among others, "priggish"! How dare you, sir!

For the record, in our office, front and center as you enter, we proudly display this:

Virginia_state_flag

Exposed breast in all its glory, The Family Foundation is decidedly NOT priggish!

Delegate Chris Saxman Decides To Retire

In an unusual move, Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) today announced he would not seek re-election this November, despite being in the middle of a campaign as the GOP nominee (see Harrisonburg Daily News-Record). The fact that Saxman, 43, first elected in 2001, is considered a rising figure in Virginia GOP circles (he flirted with running for the U.S. Senate in 2006) added to the surprise. He wrote, this, in part, to his constituents today:

The responsibility of representing you requires, and you deserve, a full-time commitment. As I have recently felt pulled to pursue new opportunities to serve my community and our Commonwealth, I believe the time has come for me to step away from my current elected position. As such, I have decided that I will not seek re-election this November to the Virginia House of Delegates.

I've always believed in a part-time legislature and that our Founding Fathers thought it a good idea to leave the State Capitol for a while and recharge. I have had a view of state government from the inside for eight years as an elected representative, and I now have a better understanding of how our government can be improved. However, if you are only looking out, as I have been, you can't always see clearly what needs to be done on the inside.

I continue to have a strong commitment to public service, and I plan to remain active working to advance commonsense conservative solutions and work on issues about which I am passionate. There are many ways to serve, and I am blessed that several new opportunities to continue this service have presented themselves. I know that now is the time to pursue those projects fully, and I look forward to sharing more details about each of these projects in the near future.

For the past eight years, I have been working diligently on issues that I know will help our families, our Commonwealth and our nation. One of these projects is school choice and ensuring that every child has access to the educational options that will give them the best opportunity for success. It is an issue I have fought for in the legislature, and as many of you know, a year ago I launched School Choice Virginia to further our efforts in this arena. I now look forward to taking a more active role in promoting this issue, which I believe I can better do outside of the confines of the legislature.

The last line rings of soon-t0-be-ex-Governor Sarah Palin. But we do look forward to seeing what endeavors Delegate Saxman will embark upon as he tries to advance school choice, something with which we also fully support. In fact, we partner with him in his School Choice Virginia organization. 

Of course, as it is Virginia, and campaigning is perennial, questions quickly popped about who would take his place on the ballot. The Daily News-Record reports it will be 13-year Staunton City Councilman Richard Bell.

Same-Sex "Marriage" In Iowa Decreed By State Court

But it couldn't happen here, right? That's why there was no need for a Constitutional Marriage Amendment in 2006. Sure. That's what the opponents said.  Unfortunately, as we've seen in Iowa today (see New York Times), and in various states where courts force "civil unions" or same-sex "marriage" on its citizens by arbitrary decree, constitutional amendments absolutely are necessary.

The fact is, we have a judiciary that is no more interested in interpreting law than it is in giving up their salaries. Rather, they think of themselves as super legislators, not needing the imprimatur of the electorate as the legislature does, which is where law is made, which is why legislators are elected and judges are not. But, who cares about that?

Even though representative democracy was what this country was founded on, to certain judges — such as the ones in Iowa, New Jersey and Massachusetts — the electorate and its representatives don't matter. If these judges don't like something, they decree it and hand it down from on high, what the people think and expect be damned. If this doesn't make the case for constitutional restraint through each state's amending process, nothing does. At least in Virginia we're safe . . . just as we told we needed to be.

Who Says Bloggers Can't Fill The Gap?

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

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

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

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

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