tim kaine

Will Session End On Time?

When the House of Delegates and Senate passed their respective budgets several days ago, the most glaring difference between the two, as anticipated, was the two chambers' approaches to Medicaid expansion. To wit, Obamacare in Virginia. The Senate included expanding Obamacare in its budget despite agreement last year with the House that the issue would be kept separate from the budget so it wouldn't become a stumbling block to passing a future budget. The agreement consisted of the creation of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, which has the authority to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning expansion. Its charter is to formulate necessary reforms for the abuse- and fraud-ridden program that state and federal governments must accept before Medicaid expansion gets anywhere near a floor vote for approval.

MIRC has yet, after almost a year's work, to draft its recommendations for reform. Instead, it continued its efforts for another year. Despite last year's agreement and MIRC's continuation, three Senate Republicans — John WatkinsWalter Stosch and Emmett Hanger — joined all 20 Democrats to passing the Senate budget with Medicaid expansion in it. The Senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe want to backtrack on last year's arrangement and want Obamacare expanded immediately.

To emphasize its position, House Republicans offered a budget floor amendment, modeled after the Senate expansion plan. It promptly went down 67-32. House Republicans have maintained that it would be irresponsible to expand Obamacare because future costs would be so great that it could cripple the state budget.

They also argue that the program is wrought with inefficiency and fraud and have proposed a first-ever outside audit before any expansion can take place. By example, former Governor Tim Kaine refused a VDOT audit for his four years and closed rest stops and other unnecessary cuts. After he left office, the audit House Republicans sought finally took place and revealed more than $1 billion in waste. There's no telling how much waste an audit of Medicaid would uncover since it is much larger than VDOT — about 21 percent of Virginia's budget and growing fast.

Most insiders in Richmond believe that the battle over Obamacare expansion will leave the state without a budget well into spring, if not longer. A new budget must be adopted by June 30 or state government could theoretically "shut down" July 1. Governor McAuliffe has stated that he intends to veto any budget sent to him that does not include Obamcare expansion and willingly shut down state government in order to get his way — not this session's much referenced, bipartisan-and-honor-your-agreements buzz phrase, "Virginia Way." That means police and fire departments without funding, teachers without pay and roads unpaved, among other disruptions.

A few days after the House passed its budget, reports surfaced that that Governor McAuliffe threatened vetoes of legislators' unrelated bills if they didn't go along with expansion,  something his office quickly denied. But delegates took to the floor later to recount the governor's bullying tactics and threats.

The House and Senate remain in conference in an attempt to settle their budget differences. But if conferees cannot come up with a solution before March 8, the General Assembly will have to adjourn without a budget — an unprecedented scenario that is growing more likely by the hour during this last week of session. Also, should a budget not pass, or a budget pass without the continuation of the MIRC, some believe that the governor will unilaterally expand Obamacare. That action could result in litigation, leaving it up to Attorney General Mark Herring to choose sides on the issue.

If it all sounds like Washington style politics and not "The Virginia Way," you're right. It's what many predicted during the campaign if Governor McAuliffe was elected. Be prepared to watch this battle go on well into the spring, and beyond.

Virginia, and "The Virginia Way," isn't for shutdowns. But it may come to that. 

Media Ignores "Tolerant" Democrat Congressional Candidate's Hateful Twitter Attack On TFF

Democrat Congressional candidate Mike Dickinson today went off the rails and attacked us and TFF President Victoria Cobb via Twitter. There was no rhyme or reason. He didn't cite any specific bill or policy we're working on at this year's General Assembly, only a trite, false, hateful, demonizing, inflammatory attack — and not even a good one. The incoherent rant is full of punctuation mistakes. In the first one (the second one below) he omitted the apostrophe in "Virginias" but included one in "it's" when he meant "its." He could've used the saved character for a period at the sentence. But perhaps most offensive is that Dickenson, who's is in the strip club business — nothing spells out respect for women more than exploiting them as strippers — calls Victoria a "grand wizard." Again, if you're going to insult someone, do it right: titles before names are capitalized. Besides, what's he insinuating by using the masculine form of the word? Shouldn't it be "Wizardess"?

GrandWizard

Seriously, though, isn't a man of, and on, the Left, supposed to be tolerant? Then what's with the attack? Not even his audience was amused. Of the 10 people who replied to his two tweets, at least eight chastised the 7th district candidate for his hateful tirades against people who simply disagree with him. More than that, this "tolerant" liberal proposes to use the force of the federal government, if elected to Congress, to restrict the free speech rights of people with whom he disagrees by arbitrarily designating them as "haters." He also went on unrestrained tirades against the NRA and Fox News.

But we just report. You decide:

According to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, in a recent campaign speech, Dickinson said that Democrats "don't judge," that the party is "open," and added . . .

judging people by outdated stereotypes is exactly what Democrats are supposed to be against.

Nothing like a good bit of hypocrisy and double-standard to go with your foot-in-mouth. The same article noted that 7th district Democrats were ready to vote for "no candidate" rather than nominate Dickinson if no one else entered the race. That speaks volumes.

Another question: Where's the media? It went bonkers on the orders of — excuse me, a "news release" by — Planned Parenthood over a pro-life politician's Facebook posting, which did nothing but sarcastically use a term for pregnant women the abortion industry frequently uses.  The lack of understanding of irony is beyond belief — Planned Parenthood was making a point it doesn't even agree with, i.e., that pregnant women are mothers, yet the media tried to excoriate the lawmaker.

Now, we have a left wing politician using social media to attack a woman and we issued a press release. But no phone calls, no interviews. "War On Women" anyone? Here's the news release:

Democrat Candidate Attacks Family Foundation on Twitter

- Organization Demands Democrat Leaders Distance Themselves from Statement -

RICHMOND – The Family Foundation of Virginia today called on Democrat leaders Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe to distance themselves from inflammatory statements by Mike Dickinson, a Democrat running for Congress against Representative Eric Cantor.

"As the Democratic party continues to seek to silence any opinion in America that they oppose through the IRS, bullying the news media and threatening free speech, we now have yet another Democrat candidate for office who clearly has not read the First Amendment of the Constitution or has no intention of applying it to all Americans," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia. "Regardless of one’s position on controversial issues, the idea of candidates for office threatening American citizens with the awesome power of the federal government for simply exercising their fundamental constitutional rights to speak out on controversial issues is chilling. We call on Virginia Democrat leaders like Tim Kaine, Mark Warner and Terry McAuliffe to distance themselves from this candidate and his inflammatory, hateful rhetoric."

A lot has been made by Democrats this session, from the governor on down, of the "Virginia Way." We're wondering if this is what they mean. Meanwhile, we'll wait for their statements — and their explanation of "tolerance" — as well as the media's coverage of it all.

PolitiFact Or PolitiBiased?

In the summer of 2012, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a scathing 86-page critique of PolitiFact alleging bias against Republicans and conservatives. This critique was made in the summer leading up to the election of Tim Kaine to the U.S. Senate. PolitiFact's legitimacy is directly tied to the perception that it is providing an unbiased fact-check of politicians. As you would expect, PolitiFact swiftly responded to the complaint:

The party takes issue with the fact that 26 of our last 36 rulings have concerned Republican candidates and elected officials. But Virginia is largely controlled by Republican politicians. The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general belong to the party, as do eight of the 13 members of Virginia's congressional delegation, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Both houses of the General Assembly are run by Republicans. In addition, the GOP fielded four candidates in its primary for the U.S. Senate this spring and sponsored three debates between them. Democrats, in contrast, handed their nomination to an unopposed Tim Kaine.

Well, times are a changing. Virginia now is largely controlled by Democrats. The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general belong to the Democrats. Pending the outcome of the 6th Senate District special election (currently in recount mode with Democrat Lynwood Lewis holding a 9-vote lead over Republican Wayne Coleman), Republicans may control only the House of Delegates. With the retirement of U.S. Representative Jim Moran, it seems that every Democrat in Northern Virginia has declared for his federal seat. Quite a different political environment from just eighteen months ago. It's time to put PolitiFact to the test and see how fairly they review and critique liberals and Democrats.

On Sunday, PolitiFact launched its "Macker-meter" to track whether Governor Terry McAuliffe keeps his campaign promises. PolitiFact is going to track 17 promises "the Macker" made on the campaign trail. Of course, they tracked 48 promises for former Governor Bob McDonnell. Don't worry, PolitiFact has an explanation for this discrepancy of what they will monitor:

McDonnell — a 17-year veteran of elective office when he ran for governor — put out more than a dozen nuanced policy papers during his campaign. We could not find the same level of detail from McAuliffe, a first-time elective office holder who was criticized during last year's campaign for being light on policy.

In other words,  Governor McAuliffe gets a pass because it is his first-time being elected to office. But he is not the political novice PolitiFact describes. They conveniently leave out his failed run for governor four years earlier and his decades of well publicized political experience.

PolitiFact also released its first promise check. Governor McAuliffe received a "promise kept" for signing an executive order putting restrictions on gifts, but because his executive order is only valid for one year, they will check back to see what happens next year. I may be mistaken, but I recall that promises Governor McDonnell didn't fully complete were given scores of "in the works" and PolitiFact checked back before determining if it was a promise kept. Double standard? Time will tell.

Regardless, this is great news for Governor McAuliffe. By failing to espouse specific, nuanced policy positions during the campaign, he will be lightly judged by PolitiFact. We'll leave the question of why the press corp did not call for the governor to task for failing to provide a detailed policy plan prior to the election for another day.

Tuesday Is Primary Day In Virginia

Tuesday is primary day in Virginia and several intraparty races will be decided in preparation for November's elections. Democrats will decide on their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk) is facing off against former Obama administration appointee Aneesh Chopra for the nomination for lieutenant governor. Northam, who received a 25 on The Family Foundation Action's 2013 General Assembly Report Card, has the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and has been one of the abortion industry's most vocal apologists. Chopra, who served as Secretary of Technology for then-Governor Tim Kaine, has made public statements that are supportive of the abortion industry and abortion on demand, is supportive of elevating sexual behavior to a protected class, and opposes the "Tebow Bill" (see Blue Virginia). The winner of the nomination will face Republican E.W. Jackson in November.

Democrats also will decide their candidate for attorney general between Senator Mark Herring (D-33, Fairfax) and former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax. Herring, who received an 18 on TFF Action’s Report Card, also is an ally of the abortion industry in Virginia. Fairfax has made comments in opposition to Virginia's abortion center health and safety standards. The winner will face Republican Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) in November’s general election.

In addition to these two statewide nomination campaigns, there are several House of Delegates primaries in both parties. Follow this link to see if there is a primary in your district for either or both parties. In November, all 100 seats in the House are up for election.

As you know, The Family Foundation is restricted by federal law from endorsing any candidates for office and we do not participate in primaries for either party. Our goal is simply to keep you up to date on the elections that are happening and to ensure that you have the best information available on the candidates' stances on important values issues so that you can make an informed decision.

 

An Outside Angle View Of The Gubernatorial Campaign

Often we can gain a perspective of something by taking a look at it from that of someone else's non-interested or, at least, limited-angle perspective. Michael Voris offers us that today in his daily video commentary, "The Vortex," about Virginia's gubernatorial candidates. Voris lives in Michigan and his interest here has nothing to do with campaigns, but rather a case study in how candidates who profess faith actually live up to what they say they believe.

A traditional Catholic, Voris draws the stark contrast between how Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, both of whom are Catholic, practice their faith and how they realize it in the public square. (Along the way, he skewers some prominent, national liberal Catholic politicians for their distorted public practice of the Faith.) To some degree, the same contrast Voris draws between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe can be made between current Governor Bob McDonnell and his predecessor, Tim Kaine, both of whom also are Catholic.

What's interesting is that, even for non-Catholics who may view some of this as intramural squabbling, from the parameters of one aspect of their lives — granted, a significant one at that — parallels to their public policy objectives and even their deportment and manner  of execution of official duties become clear. In a broader context some would call it their "worldview." But it's more than that. Pun or not, it gets to their souls — one who upholds his faith and one who conveniently bends and breaks it, and if one breaks his faith with God, it's a rather minor step to break faith with mere mortals.

Virginia campaign for governor is being watched around the country — and from many different angles.

Sexual Orientation Bill Passes Senate Committee

In a surprise vote Monday afternoon, the Senate General Laws Committee, by a vote of 8-7, reported SB 701 to the full Senate. This bill would add sexual orientation to the state's hiring policy of non-discrimination. A similar bill died in the same committee last year, but Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) changed her vote. If this bill is successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class in the law. A vote is likely by the end of the week.

Please contact your senator today and urge him or her to vote NO on SB 701 when it comes up for a vote in the full Senate.

Debates over similar legislation during the last several legislative sessions revealed no evidence of widespread discrimination. In fact, according to The Washington Post, there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government. Both previous governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, signed executive orders against discrimination, and Governor Bob McDonnell issued an executive directive stating that his administration will not discriminate against homosexuals. In fact, since 1992, a span of 18 years, an allegation of discrimination has taken place at a rate of just over one per year, and few, if any, have been found to be true discrimination.

This is a solution in search of a problem.

In addition, SB 701 will open the Commonwealth of Virginia to costly litigation by people who fail to qualify for employment but sue the state based on this proposal. SB 701 would open private businesses and faith-based entities to similar litigation. The words of an Equality Virginia lobbyist reveal the true intent of the legislation: she stated that voting for the bill that would add sexual orientation to the state government hiring policy was a "baby step."

A baby step toward what? In response, we presented the committee with the argument that passing the legislation is a "baby step" toward requiring private businesses, and faith-based ministries that receive state funding, to hire homosexuals. This has already happened in other states, including our neighbor Maryland.

Elevating sexual orientation to a protected class, despite the fact that homosexuality is not immutable, would create an entirely new level of protection — protection based on one's sexual behavior. Senators need to hear from you today!

Dawn Of Election Day: Insights On Tim Kaine And Barack Obama

As we prepare to vote in the most consequential election of our lifetime and, perhaps, in many generations; an election that will transform America into a European-style social welfare state, or one that will restore the country to a dynamic economy with government's role properly limited; a country where distinctions no longer matter and anything goes, or one where the protection of life, marriage protected and defined, and religious liberty are safeguarded for us and future generations as the foundation of a free, prosperous and safe people. We will decide on a president and the composition of Congress, including one of the nation's highest profile Senate races which could determine the balance of power in that powerful chamber, and further accelerate which direction the country moves. Tim Kaine, once President Barack Obama's chief at the Democrat National Committee, and George Allen, once the Republican in charge of electing more Republican senators, seek the office.

There's no need to rehash the entire presidential and senate campaigns here. But as the president and Mr. Kaine have long been friends (Mr. Kaine was the first Democrat official elected to statewide office to endorse then-Senator Obama) and served as his primary defender as the chairman of the DNC, a couple of insights are in order from each that illuminate how their lack of capacity to lead honestly.

First, Mr. Kaine. It is well documented that he promised not to raise taxes in his campaign for governor and that he broke that promise in his first week in office. He introduced massive tax increases each of his four years in Capitol Square. He argued the need in order to fund Virginia's lagging transportation improvements.

What isn't so well documented (and a mystery as to why the Allen campaign has not used this against him) is that while Mr. Kaine hammered away at the need to grab more hard-earned income from Virginia families, is that he also refused each of his four years to audit VDOT. While House Republicans asked and asked, his reply was to demand tax increases. But the theory was that if we audit VDOT, perhaps we'll find some money there and we can see how much we really need to raise. Mr. Kaine flatly refused to acknowledge even the possibility. Nothing there, there, he'd say, and then demand the tax increase, even going so far as to launch robo calls into the districts of certain House members, telling their constituents that their delegates didn't want to fix Virginia's roads.

In 2010, in one of his first actions, Governor Bob McDonnell ordered the long sought VDOT audit. It turned up $1 billion in unused and wasted funds and funding opportunities. Mr. Kaine offered no apologies. It's one thing if the public truly needs to pay up to improve its community. It's another when a politician tries to pry away hard earned family income into government coffers when he was wasting what he had to begin with.

The insight into President Obama's character is quicker to arrive at. After all the snark, sarcasm, small and demeaning attacks, and vicious lies about his opponent, Mitt Romney, he runs this ad (see Ben Shapiro at Breitbart's Big Government).

One question: Would the president allow his daughter to see this? Is he really proud of this?

Whether it's unscrupulously fleecing taxpayers for his own political schemes or producing near-obscene ads, neither Tim Kaine nor Barack Obama offer the dignity to lead.

Candidate Kaine's Marriage "Pirouette"

North Carolinians overwhelmingly voted one week ago to define marriage as between one man and one woman in their state constitution. The same day, Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine was asked about his position on the issue. Kaine’s answer was anything but clear. In fact, his obfuscation led the National Journal to label his attempted response “policy pirouettes" (see Shane Goldmacher at Hotline On Call blog). Kaine said:

The number one issue is should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. I believe in the legal equality of relationships. Is it marriage, is it civil unions, is it domestic partners? I kind of let that one go.

The crowd and reporters kept pressing, but Kaine remained steadfastly vague. His remarkable press session is chronicled here at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog by Ben Pershing.

In 2006, then Governor Kaine publicly opposed Virginia’s marriage amendment, going so far as to campaign against the measure that eventually passed with 57 percent of the vote. Just a few months before, while a candidate for Governor, Kaine gave The Family Foundation Action the following response to a candidate survey question about the measure:

I have long supported Virginia law that declares marriage to be between a man and a woman, and I support a Constitutional amendment.

Incredibly, just days after being sworn in as governor, Kaine reversed his support for the ballot measure and urged the General Assembly to keep it off the ballot. (The legislation calling for the measure passed the 2005 General Assembly but had to pass again in 2006 to be placed on the ballot.)

At one point during the press availability last week, Kaine indicated that "marriage" is little more than a label, saying, "I think the labels actually get in the way of the issue."

But marriage isn't the only issue on which Kaine has shifted since running for governor in 2005. Relatedly, at that time, he told The Family Foundation and the media that he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but supported Virginia law allowing homosexual individuals to adopt. Late in his administration, however, he introduced a regulation that would have prohibited child placement agencies from considering homosexual behavior at all when choosing parents for adoption. Last year, he said that unmarried homosexual couples should be able to adopt if a judge determined it was in the best interest of the child (contrary to the Virginia Constitution and statute).

One has to wonder why Kaine continues to dodge the question if opinions on the issue of marriage are shifting — as constantly asserted as fact by same-sex marriage supporters and mainstream media. Of course, while progressives insist that Americans are shifting in their opinion on the definition of marriage, they are 0-31 when it comes to marriage amendments at the ballot box. Candidate Kaine knows that.

Conveniently in 2005, Kaine invoked his Catholic faith in response to his position on the death penalty. No mention of Church teaching on this issue. Hmmm. Our guess, however, is that whatever he says on the issue while on the campaign trail doesn't really matter. History has proven that Tim Kaine's position is likely to change as soon as Election Day is over.

Breaking News: Governor McDonnell Releases Statement On Senate Democrats Blocking Budget For Third Time

Following Senate Democrats unprecedented partisan rejection of the Virginia state budget, again, Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement:

Today, Senate Democrats cast the most fiscally reckless vote I have witnessed in my 21 years in office. They have killed an $85 billion state budget that benefits all Virginians, for one earmark regarding an 11.4 mile rail project in one district of the Commonwealth. That is extremely irresponsible. Senate Democrats, again, put partisan politics ahead of the needs of 8 million Virginians. They brought their political agendas to the Senate floor, and in the process have put at risk a Bristol teacher’s paycheck, a Chesterfield sheriff’s salary, healthcare for a senior citizen in Hampton, road projects in Richmond, and the fiscal soundness of the entire Commonwealth. Unfortunately, this is not the first time they have done so.

When the General Assembly convened in January, Senate Democrats were clear that they wished to use the state budget as a means to gain more committee assignments. As one Senate Democrat wrote at the time, “the real reason the Senate Budget must lose — at this point — is so the power balance in Richmond can be adjusted.” For the 60 days of the regular session, they refused to pass any budget, despite multiple individual meetings, letters and conversations with them. They voted down two budgets.

Last month, Senate Democrats gave a few policy reasons to explain their obstruction. They were met with broad accommodation by Senate Republicans. They sought more funding for healthcare and education. They gained it. In fact they gained nearly $170 million in reallocated funding for the issues they identified as priorities for their caucus. Throughout budget negotiations, Republican legislators and this office worked strenuously to ensure that Senate Democrats were heard in the budget process. Only after these compromises were achieved did Senate Democrats turn, in the last days of session, to a third reason for opposing a budget: toll abatement on the Dulles Toll Road.

Since 2009, when Governor Tim Kaine signed the deal on the tolls and the rates were publicized, and no state funding was provided, Senate Democrats were silent. They offered no objections to the tolls for nearly three years. Then, at the very end of this session, after killing two budgets on the floor, Senate Democrats decided that they would make that their next issue. This will have serious consequences for all Virginians.

Budgets are a tapestry of compromises. No legislator ever gets everything he or she wants in a governing fiscal document. Nonetheless, all involved can get much of what they seek if there is cooperation and civility in the process. The budget killed by Senate Democrats today was a positive document. This budget made historic investments in our higher education system so more Virginia students can access and afford our great colleges and universities. It reduced unfunded liabilities in our retirement system by nearly $9 billion by 2031, an historic achievement that ensures our dedicated state employees will receive the retirements they have been counting on. The budget combined accountability and innovation with over half a billion dollars in new funding for our K-12 system. It improved public education in the Commonwealth. And this budget provided fiscal liquidity and stability for Virginia as we continue to navigate a very uncertain economy. Now, Senate Democrats, continuing a trend, have killed a budget for a third time. They will have to answer to every single Virginian. This vote will have real consequences in creating uncertainty and chaos for local governments, school boards and countless agencies and individuals.

I encourage all Virginians to contact the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus today to let them know that this vote is unacceptable. First, the members killed the state budget to make a point about committee assignments. Then, they demanded more funding for healthcare and education, which they received. Then, they brought up an entirely new reason for voting against the budget, an earmark for am 11.4 mile rail project in one area of the state. Teacher and sheriff salaries are now at risk. Local governments and school boards do not know what level of state funding they will receive. Road and other state projects will have to be stopped in every single region in the near future. All because Senate Democrats continue to obstruct the passage of the state budget. They even killed the ‘caboose’ budget for the remainder of FY 2012, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Dulles tolls. This is an incredibly disappointing development. This is the kind of conduct we’ve come to expect out of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, where no budget has passed for over 1000 days. It is not the conduct we would expect from Democrats who serve in Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol. Senate Democrats need to hear from all Virginians about the direct and immediate impact their partisan posturing will have on the citizens of this Commonwealth.

Truths And Facts About The Abortion Industry: What It Doesn't Want You To Know

Last week and the week before, in the run-up to the vote by the Virginia Board of Health's vote to approve abortion center regulations drafted by the Department of Health, we posted on our Facebook page and tweeted one truth or fact per day about the abortion industry in order to cut through the misinformation pumped out by its well funded and powerful lobby. Below, we have reconstituted them, added four more, expanded on others, and provided a couple of reference links as we continue to provide more information about the nefarious abortion industry and as public sentiment continues to grow in favor of these common sense measures — even though the Mainstream Media continues its pandering to the pro-abortion side (see The Daily Press as an example). Speaking of Facebook and Twitter, this is a good time to remind you that if you do not follow us on those social media networks yet, be sure to join us there and remind others you think would be interested. We post exclusive content there, link to newly written blog posts, announce breaking news from state government and politics, capitol square, the General Assembly and important regulatory meetings, as well as provide Family Foundation, grassroots activist and pastors updates. Click here to join us on Facebook and click here to follow us on Twitter.

Truths and Facts about the abortion industry:

Truth: Waivers available through regulations give abortion centers ability to make a case to the Department of Health that some construction standards are not necessary for the procedure.

Fact: The abortion industry claims it self regulates, but the National Abortion Federation standards allow non-physicians to perform surgical abortions!

Truth: During the last three General Assembly sessions, the abortion industry rejected "regulation lite" — just an annual inspection, licensing and emergency equipment. It simply does not want even the slightest independent oversight. (See Thomas Peters at LiveAction.org's blog.)

Fact: Currently, a woman who wants to report a medical complication resulting from an abortion must give up her privacy.

Truth: The abortion industry claims it is safe, but there is absolutely no way to know. It has blocked efforts to require reporting of medical complications due to abortion.

Fact: In Arizona, the legislature called the abortion industry's bluff, and codified the abortion industry's supposed self-governing regulations. The abortion industry immediately sued Arizona!

Truth: Planned Parenthood is a $1 billion industry (see Lisa Grass at LiveAction). It can easily afford the cost of the regulations to its facilities.

Fact: Abortion center regulations are not politically motivated. The Department of Health that drafted them is directed by an appointee by former Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

Truth: Opposition to abortion has and always will be bi-partisan. Of the 12 votes in last week's 12-1 vote by the Board of Health to approve the Department of Heath's abortion center regulations, three were by appointees of former Governor Kaine. (A fourth was the lone dissenting vote and not one of his amendments received a seconding motion.)

Fact: Of the 15 board members, nine are Republican appointees and six are Democrats (two did not attend). 

Fact: Planned Parenthood says abortion is only a small part of its business, that it offers a full range of medical services — even to men. If so, then how can abortion center regulations put them out of business?

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.

Ask Your Senate Candidates A Question Or Two

With Virginia's crucial state Senate elections fast approaching — primaries are one week from today and the general election is November 8 — candidates will campaign and talk ad nauseam about certain issues. Incumbents will toot their horns about how much money they've saved taxpayers (while simultaneously demanding funding for their pet issues) in stark contrast to the other side's handling of the nation's finances in Washington (the other side, of course, no matter which side it is, always being at fault). So, we have a question or two for you to ask candidates when they talk about how they saved Virginians' tax dollars and how they are so much more responsible than those in Washington. Despite what they would have you believe, many in the General Assembly (especially in the Senate) the last several years have shown no distinguishing characteristics from the big spenders in Washington. You know the types — spend now, tax even quicker and ask never ask questions later.

We all remember former Governor Tim Kaine's campaign promise not to seek a tax increase. In record flip-flop time, he proposed one of the biggest tax increases in Virginia history in his first week into office, ostensibly for transportation improvements. One week! Forget looking into other ways, forget looking at the books, forget taking time to review the best options. Not deterred after the legislation's rebuff, he jumped on board every tax increase bill, most notably ones that emanated from the Senate. They all failed, but he never stopped trying, even as he was turning over the keys to the executive mansion to current Governor Bob McDonnell, proposing a budget that included what would've been the largest tax increase in Virginia history (by raising the income tax, no less).

During Mr Kaine's four years of trying to raise taxes on an already-sputtering economy, conservative spending hawks in the General Assembly asked for an audit of VDOT. If you want to raise taxes for VDOT to spend, shouldn't we see how it spends what it has? But the then-governor and the tax-first, ask- later never spenders, whose reflexive answer to every problem is to tax and spend because government does no wrong with what it already spends, balked. Enter Governor McDonnell and, finally, an audit of VDOT. About 11 months ago, the audit revealed VDOT hoarding $1.45 billion (while refusing to pay just compensation to property owners whose land they confiscate). All that money while Mr. Kaine and numerous members of the Virginia Senate (many listed here) wanted to dip their hands into already-pressed families' wallets for money that wasn't necessary, a situation now mirrored by his former boss, President Obama, and liberals in Washington even as debt and spending have emerged as the biggest non-military crisis to confront us in generations.

So, as they campaign this summer and fall, and things continue to be dicey in the economy, and all blame points to Washington, ask the candidates for the Virginia Senate:

1. How many tax increases "for transportation" did they support the last four years, and

2. Did they support auditing VDOT, while advocating increased taxes on Virginia families at the same time VDOT hoarded $1.45 billion.

If they answer to either is yes, you may want to follow up with a third or fourth: Is that your idea of good fiscal management? and, Why is it you think it's okay to tax hard-working families to feed wasteful government spending?

The fact is, the VDOT audit, although seemingly forgotten already, was one of the biggest single reforms in recent state government memory and serves as a bell-ringing reminder to politicians, in Richmond or Washington, who think increasing already high tax burdens (especially in hard economic times) must be part of a solution to bring budgets into balance. It just isn't so. Cutting spending must always be the first place to look. Not to do so is patently disingenuous and shows no regard for the taxpayers, but instead, homage to the Leviathan state, instead.

Mr. Schapiro's Problem Is That Governor McDonnell Has No Problem

The Richmond Times-Dispatch's very opinionated chief political reporter, Jeff Schapiro (who doubles as a columnist and online pundit), must have had a writer's block problem recently. How else to explain his pulling out the tried-and-true "anti-gay" attack on a social conservative? But seemingly out of nowhere, Mr. Schapiro's latest video commentary at timesdispatch.com goes after Governor Bob McDonnell for his alleged "gay problem," reciting votes and actions thoroughly vetted by the voters themselves who have never rejected Mr. McDonnell at the polls. Mr. Schapiro even dredges up the "thesis" and a crude question once asked to the governor when he was a candidate. The spark that ignited Mr. Schapiro was the recent vote by the Social Services Board that rejected proposed regulations to allow homosexual couples to adopt children, which would have forced private and religious affiliated charitable services to comply with a rule that compromises their consciences and beliefs, or close down. The problem with Mr. Schapiro's problem with Governor McDonnell is that the governor has no problem. He may want him to have a problem so much that he manufactured one, but no one is paying attention. It's a right and just policy, popularly supported and, by the way, the law.

In fact, although the board retains a majority appointed to it by liberal former Governor Tim Kaine, it approved standards that omitted the original same-sex couple requirement by a lopsided 7-2 vote. No matter how often certain media (ahem, WRVA* in Richmond) misreported the issue as taking away a right (they never had), it's no problem for officeholders to defend the sanctity of the traditional family. It may be a problem for Mr. Schapiro to understand that, but a gratuitous attack over a contrived problem on Governor McDonnell is only a problem for Mr. Schapiro to resolve.

* Not only did the station misreport the issue over a 2-day period, a producer chimed in on a locally produced show to call pro-family supporters "bigots."

Proposed Adoption Regulations Contrary To Virginia Law And Constitution; Clarifying Where We Now Stand In Process

Just two months before leaving office, former Governor Tim Kaine left Virginians an unwanted present in the form of proposed changes to adoption guidelines for private agencies (see the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). These proposed regulations — by a Social Services Board still dominated by Mr.Kaine's appointees — slowly working their way through the process, seek to force private adoption agencies to place children in foster care or for adoption with parents irrespective of faith or sexual orientation. It would force faith-based adoption agencies to either abandon their principles or cease providing adoption services (as did Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, after more than 100 years, when that state's Supreme Court imposed such regulations by judicial fiat). The proposal under discussion here goes far beyond any policy currently in Virginia law. The Virginia Code clearly details who is eligible to adopt. In § 63.2-1201.1, it plainly states:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any child to have more than two living parents by birth or adoption, who have legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, in the form of one father and one mother.

There is no mistaking Virginia's intent. The current regulatory proposal, which includes prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, contradicts the intent of the General Assembly.

Nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. While one may agree or disagree with the actions of individuals or private organizations that express their faith in these ways, their fundamental right to do so is at risk with these proposed regulations. Faith-based family organizations have assisted children for decades without unnecessary intervention by government entities. It is very clear that homosexual special interest groups have no concern with preserving religious liberty in pursuit of their political agenda.

Upon learning about these proposed regulations weeks ago, The Family Foundation immediately contacted the governor's office. At that time, we were assured that Governor McDonnell does not support the current non-discrimination proposal and the current proposal would not stand. To ensure our voice was known where it needed to be, we submitted our official public comment and encouraged pastors to do so as well. After the public comment period closed, Governor Bob McDonnell publicly weighed in, telling the Washington Post:

I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws — which I think are good — the way they are now. … I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make [the proposed regulations] part of their policy or other similar situated groups. Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can't discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper.

Since then, concern has mounted based on the circulation of incorrect information stating Governor McDonnell must act by April 15. However, this is an incorrect interpretation of a section of the Code (§ 2.2-4013) that details the time frame for the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action stage, not the proposed stage. The public comment website shows that the adoption regulations are completing the proposed stage, not the NOIRA stage.

A chart published by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget is extremely helpful in understanding how the circuitous regulatory process works: The proposed adoption regulations currently are in the bottom box of the middle column (not the second box of the first column). Correct reading of Virginia Code and regulatory process shows that the Board of Social Services has no less than 15 and no more than 180 days from April 1 (April 16 through September 28) to adopt the proposed regulations and submit them for full executive branch review. As displayed in column three of DPB's chart, the proposed regulations must then pass several more reviews prior to final acceptance, including reviews by DPB, the corresponding cabinet secretary, possibly by the attorney general (see Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's stated disapproval in the Washington Post) and the governor, then go through at least one more public comment period. The Department of Social Services already has amended the regulations and will present these changes to the Board of Social Services at an upcoming meeting. During any of these stages, the governor can reject or make changes to the proposal.

This adoption proposal, which tramples religious liberty, is a significant overreach through regulation into uncharted waters prohibited by Virginia Code and Virginia Constitution and will not be tolerated. The Family Foundation has been actively involved in seeing that these proposed regulations are not adopted and will continue to monitor the issue very closely.

21-20, 21-20, 21-20: Pro-Life Bills Finally Pass Virginia Senate Roadblock To Become Law; Behind The Scenes At Last Night's Drama!

Near the end of an already extraordinarily long annual "Veto Session" last night, at around 10:00, after intense debate and several failed parliamentary maneuvers by opponents, the Virginia General Assembly handed pro-lifers and Governor Bob McDonnell another big victory. After passing the House of Delegates by a comfortable margin, the Virginia Senate — whose committees long have been the burial ground for commonsense bipartisan pro-life legislation, deadlocked 20-20 on the governor's amendments to HB 2434 — to restrict Virginia's health insurance exchanges (when and if ObamaCare takes effect) from publicly funding abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother — allowing Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie and send the bill back to Governor McDonnell for his signature. We long have stated that if certain measures could get to the floor, they would pass. This victory, another vote last night to restore the abstinence education funding eliminated by former Governor Tim Kaine, as well as the landmark vote the last week of the regular session to regulate abortion centers (all by 21-20 margins with Lt. Governor Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote each time), vindicates us. As represented by their legislators in Richmond, Virginians are decidedly pro-life.

The hard work began as lawmakers returned to the capitol Monday. Family Foundation lobbyists hit the ground running, going door to door to sure up votes and answer questions from legislators. Preceding that were efforts well before the reconvened session to educate lawmakers and their constituents. While the House looked secure, the Senate was always going to be close, with perhaps one or two senators leaning one way or another, but not fully committed.

Meanwhile, opponents in both chambers used several procedural motions to derail the votes. House members yielded their time from member to member in an attempt to control the debate and even moved to break up the governor's amendments into separate votes. While that succeeded, all four passed. The bill then moved down the hall where Senator John Edwards (D-21) challenged the germaneness of the governor’s amendments. When Lt. Governor Bolling ruled them in order, opponents attempted to overturn the decision by a floor vote, but lost 21-19 (see vote).

After intense debate, the Senate voted 20-20, with all 18 Republicans and pro-life Democrats Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) voting yes. Interestingly, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), who voted to sustain Lt. Governor Bolling's ruling, voted no. When the clerk read the result, The LG decisively announced that "The chair votes aye." Thus, the making of a law (see vote).

Despite the late vote, an early morning event may have had the most impact — the first ever meeting of the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus (more on the LPC in a future post). More than 500 Virginians, including many delegates and senators of both parties, gathered at the steps of the historic capitol to pray for God to shower His blessings on our Commonwealth. As Governor McDonnell reminded attendees, Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

The Family Foundation gives its overwhelming appreciation to Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, all 20 Senators who voted for this pro-life amendment, and to all who contacted their senator to urge their support. If you don't think this has the grassroots excited, see our Facebook page!

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Adopts Abstinence Education On 21-20 Vote!

It was a pro-life, pro-family sweep today at the reconvened "Veto" session of the General Assembly tonight. In addition to a dramatic abortion limiting 21-20 vote within the last hour, the Virginia Senate earlier voted by the same margin to concur with Governor McDonnell and the House of Delegates to restore abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine cut out of the state budget. As with the vote to ban taxpayer dollars from use in elective abortions in the ObamaCare state run health insurance exchanges, all 18 Republicans were joined by pro-life Democrats Phillip Puckett and Chuck Colgan to get to the magic number of 20 votes and a tie in the chamber allowing pro-life Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie in favor of the amendment. The funding, match money corresponding to a federal grant, was initially presented in the House budget but, in the final days of session, Senate conferees stripped it out in budget negotiations. But today, the House reiterated its position by a 69-29 vote, which sent it to the Senate. Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the amendment and urged its passage. Pro-abortion Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington) rebutted the argument, parroting Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League, which claim abstinence education is ineffective (despite an Obama administration study that says otherwise).

The Family Foundation thanks Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, and the members of the House and Senate who ensured the success of these two important pieces of legislation that soon will become law, as well as all committed pro-life, pro-family Virginians who answered our call to contact their state legislators this week. More to come tomorrow about today's exciting developments.

Orwellian: Saving Babies Is An "Attack On Women's Health"

The pro-abortion forces in Virginia are nothing if not masters at hyperbole. That, or downright Orwellian. Today, they held a news conference at the General Assembly Building to reinforce their message of choice since their stunning defeat on the abortion center regulation bill: That limiting abortions, and thus saving the most innocent among us, is "an attack on women's health." Among attendees were a who's who of the General Assembly pro-abortion crowd: Senators Donald McEachin and Mary Margaret Whipple; and Delegates Patrick Hope, David Englin, Jennier McClellan, Scott Surovell, Adam Ebbin, Onzlee Ware, Vivian Watts and Charniele Herring — the so-called "Reproductive Health Caucus." They were joined not only by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, but by the ACLU and the League of Women's Voters, whose representative enthusiastically gave herself a shout-out when Delegate Herring failed to recognize her. What abortion "rights" has to do with registering women to vote is anyone's guess, but that moment was the most exciting thing at what had to be the most uneventful news conference in General Assembly history — nothing more than introductions, a statement by Delegate Herring, and a story by a woman whose situation was not relevant to the exchanges. Not even a question by one of the two or three members of the press who attended. Even the distributed prepared press statements were boring. Sorry, but no video, excerpted quotes, nor links worth citing. Even Planned Parenthood's e-mail alert left a lot to be desired. An indication that the tide is turning? We'll find out tomorrow when our electeds vote to sustain or reject two pro-life amendments passed down by Governor Bob McDonnell: One, to HB 2434, to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in the new state health insurance exchanges mandated by the federal healthcare law; and another, a budget amendment, restoring abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine eliminated.

These votes promise to be very close in the Senate tomorrow during the "Veto Session." Please contact your senator Wednesday morning and ask him or her to vote for each.

Click here if you know your senator and need his or her phone number.

Click here if you don’t know who your senator is.

Meanwhile, here's more coverage on the health insurance exchange amendment, from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (here) and below, from WTVR-TV/CBS6 in Richmond. Both feature comments from Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb.

Support Abstinence Education Funding In Virginia Budget

In addition to Governor Bob McDonnell's amendment to HB 2434, which would restrict Virginia's health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare from covering abortion services, Governor McDonnell also added an amendment to reinsert abstinence funding in the Virginia budget. This funding was included in the House of Delegates budget, but budget conferees left it out of the final budget which the General Assembly approved and sent to the governor. Such funding was a regular line item in the budget until then-Governor Tim Kaine abruptly stripped it out in November 2007 as a political IOU to Planned Parenthood. Tomorrow, the General Assembly reconvenes for its annual "Veto Session," when it reconsiders gubernatorial vetoes and amendments to bills, and will have the opportunity to include this provision back into the budget. While it is likely the House will accept this amendment, the Senate will be an uphill climb. Please contact your senator today and urge support for Governor McDonnell’s abstinence funding amendment to the budget.

Planned Parenthood, and its ally NARAL, have made it their national agenda to stop abstinence education. Both groups consistently assail abstinence programs as being ineffective. One legislator, who works closely with Planned Parenthood and NARAL, said, "The reality is with teenagers, their hormones come into play, and abstinence-only doesn't always work." Work for who? The more teens postpone sexual activity, the less profit the abortion industry makes.

The pro-abortion lobby also asserts that "abstinence education doesn’t work," "parents don't support abstinence education," and "it's naive to think that teenagers can be abstinent." None of those arguments, though, are correct according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, an October 2010 study paid for by the federal Department of Heath and Human Services found that abstinence education is highly effective and it is widely supported by parents and teenagers.

The HHS survey found that 70 percent of parents agreed that it is "against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage" and that "having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do." Adolescent beliefs, according to the survey, were similar. In fact, there are federal abstinence education funds that Governor McDonnell has applied for that Mr. Kaine refused. So, even the Obama administration realizes it works.

Clearly, abstinence education is not only effective, but it is widely supported among both parents and teens. So, please contact your senator today and urge support of the governor's amendment to reinstate abstinence funding in the budget.

Click here if you know your senator and need his or her phone number.

Click here if you don't know who your senator is.

A Shocking Day: Chief Justice Hassell's Untimely Death, Webb Won't Run For Re-election

I was in the Senate Finance Committee this morning watching, thankfully, two good bills, which may lead to some much needed tax reform, fly through. The committee agenda was short, normal right after "crossover," and only six bills were heard, all passing on unanimous voice votes. Can't be much simpler than that. At what should've been a quick bang of the gavel to dismiss, committee Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) made the announcement, the first one in public as it turned out: Former Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Hassell, Sr., died, unexpectedly, at age 55 (WTVR.com). He previously stepped aside as chief justice, but remained on the court.  Governor Bob McDonnell ordered that the flag of the commonwealth be flown at half-staff on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds (WTVR.com). New Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser was scheduled to be sworn in officially this week. There is no word on the status of that ceremony at this point. She will be the first woman Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice.

(Updated 4:45 p.m.: The governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until his burial on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in Virginia. Additionally, Justice Hassell will lie in state in the Virginia State Capitol prior to burial. See his official statement honoring Justice Hassell)

Chief Justice Hassell was the first black person to serve in that position. He was a native Virginian, and proudly so. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli included this 2003 quote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his statement honoring Mr. Hassell:

I do not wish to serve, however, because I happen to be black. Rather, I desire to serve because I am a Virginian by birth who has a strong affection and love for the commonwealth and its people.

He will be missed. He was a man of great faith, intellect, warmth, stature and humility.

Later in the morning, a bombshell e-mail from a political consultant friend: U.S. Senator Jim Webb will not run for re-election in 2012 (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Though not totally unexpected, the timing (through no fault of Senator Webb) was strange, so soon after the sad news about Justice Hassell. Mr. Webb had not actively engaged in fundraising and many thought from the beginning he would term limit himself, given the flukish nature of his election — and a possible Defense Secretary appointment in a potential Obama second term.

Now, the attention turns to who the Democrats will nominate. Early speculation ranges from everyone from former Governor Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe (if he can be pulled away from running for governor) to former Congressmen Rick Boucher and Tom Periello, to Krystal Ball, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rob Wittman in the first district last year.

Former Virginia First Lady Running From Pelosi, Too?

The TEA Party Convention wasn't the only big event in the capital city last weekend. There was our gala, of course (more about that soon). But if you've never been, each year around this time the city hosts the Richmond Folk Festival — traditional music from cultures around the world. It's the old-time of the Crooked Road to Irish Celtic music to amazing Japanese percussionists. About 180,000 people attended the free event last weekend.

Among those 180,000 was a familiar looking woman dancing off to the side of one of the seven stages, where a Texas fiddle band played, while her friends smiled at her approvingly. My friend and I couldn't figure out how we knew her and then it hit me. Hmm. But I wasn't sure. After the band finished, we walked around the to get another angle. Still not sure. We debated whether to ask her if she was who we thought she was, but thought that wasn't too bright. I saw one of her friends peel away from the group so I approached and asked if her friend was who I thought she was. The reply was yes.

"Will she pose for a picture?" At this point the friend sneered at my "Fire Pelosi" button and my "Chuck Smith for Congress" lapel sticker and said, "You'll have to ask her yourself." So, I did. She was no longer dancing, but holding court so I had to interrupt her, tapping her gently on her shoulder.

"Excuse me, Ms. Holton, may I get my picture with you?" She turned, faced me straight, with my accessories in full view, smiled and said, "Sure. I'm glad someone still recognizes me!"

That's life. Not long ago people would pay $500 for a photo with her and her husband, former governor, and current DNC Chairman, Tim Kaine. Now, any old music fan, even a nemesis conservative blogger, can get one for free. Will we be able to say the same about Tim at next year's festival?

Steve&AnneHolton

Odd Couple finds common ground: Former First Lady Anne Holton posing with your Admin. We both love the Richmond Folk Festival.