Friday, February 24, 2006

How to turn a Red State Blue

How to Turn a Red State Blue

February 23, 2006; Page A16

If you think Republicans on Capitol Hill have troubles, take a look at Virginia, where GOP lawmakers are busy writing an instruction manual on how to become a minority party.

Republicans in that ostensibly "red" Southern state got their clocks cleaned in November's elections after they refused to take a coherent stand on taxes, and Democrat Tim Kaine squeezed to their right on pocketbook issues. As GOP state senator Ken Cuccinelli explained, "We ran on a message of almost being for tax cuts, almost for smaller government, almost for protecting Second Amendment rights, and almost being pro-life. As a result, the voters almost came out and voted for us."

And they apparently have learned nothing from that rout. When the legislature reconvened last month, the first proposal from the majority Republicans in the state senate was to endorse a $1 billion tax hike for roads and transit projects -- the second huge tax increase in two years. The GOP plan would increase auto fees, the gas and diesel tax, and even taxes on batteries and tires. This is the same party that last won the governorship under Jim Gilmore in 1997 promising to abolish the very car taxes they now want to increase.

Last week the senators floated another tax plan that is so bizarre and complicated it has made them a laughing stock. This scheme would raise the gas tax by 5%, but the sponsors insist that "no one would have to pay the tax if they didn't want to," because motorists could get a rebate at the end of the year if they keep shoeboxes full of tiny scraps of service station receipts. This would add immeasurably to the joys of April 15.

These tax-hike proposals keep coming despite a state revenue office report that Virginia now has a $2 billion biennial budget surplus. As a high-tech state, Virginia has been a huge beneficiary of the expansion spurred by the Bush investment tax cuts. But the entrenched senate Republicans -- many of whom have been fixtures in the capital of Richmond for decades -- want to spend the tax windfall and then some.

A Virginia Institute for Public Policy study notes that, over the past decade, the state budget has swollen at twice the rate of inflation plus population growth in the state. That's an $11 billion bonanza for state agencies, or about $500 more spending annually per Virginian. It's true that roads have been neglected during these high-spending years, causing some of the worst pockets of traffic gridlock in the country. But that's because state pols spent like crazy on social services and schools -- though student achievement tests show virtually no gains.

Only 18 months ago this same senate gang rammed through a $1.5 billion sales tax increase, even after 55% of the voters had defeated the same tax scheme when it was a ballot initiative a year before. The original senate Republican tax plan was so supersized that even then-Democratic Governor Mark Warner, who openly promoted higher taxes only after he'd won election in 2001, denounced the GOP plan as too heavy a burden. In short, this is a state GOP suffering from a severe identity crisis.

Meanwhile, property taxes are rising and clueless Republicans haven't lifted a finger to cap assessments. Thanks to a housing boom in Northern Virginia, state property tax bills for median priced homes have risen by $2,000, or 85% in six years. The sticker shock has enraged homeowners and taxpayers are fighting back locally. Yet Republicans are proposing to raise taxes again anyway.

And that's how to turn a red state blue.

Copyright 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Democracy quotes

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years."

"Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage."

- Authors unknown. (Sometimes attributed to Alexander Tytler and Benjamin Disraeli, respectively, but unverified by the Library of Congress.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Marriage Amendment, No Rush: The Process Has Seen Ample Debate

No Rush: The Process Has Seen Ample Debate



The national movement to amend state constitutions to protect the traditional definition of marriage has come to Virginia, giving citizens of the Commonwealth an opportunity to vote on the matter this November. In the past 18 months, voters in 15 states have passed amendments by overwhelming numbers, bringing to 19 the total number of states defining marriage in their constitutions.

The need for this amendment stems from the actions of judges in other states that have overturned long-standing state laws preventing same-sex marriage. The most publicized case came from Massachusetts, where in an act of remarkable judicial activism that state's highest court ordered the legislature to redefine marriage. More recently, in our neighboring state Maryland, a judge invalidated a 33-year-old ban on same-sex marriage. Judges in Nebraska and California have also rejected the will of the people and state legislatures when it comes to defining marriage. The only true protection against an activist state judge in Virginia overturning current laws defining marriage is a constitutional amendment.

The arguments for protecting the traditional definition of marriage are many, but perhaps the most important is the well-being of children. More than 10,000 social-science studies prove that children are better off in every way in a stable, traditional home with a married mother and father. No compassionate society intentionally creates homes without both a mom and a dad, and that is exactly what same-sex marriage would do.

Frightening Virginians
In opposition to the amendment, those who wish to redefine marriage are relying on the same, tired arguments used across the nation. Opponents attempt to frighten Virginians into believing that the proposed amendment would somehow remove protections from domestic violence or void contracts between any two persons. These reckless arguments, however, have been consistently dismissed in the courts -- two Ohio appellate courts, the Louisiana Supreme Court, and a Michigan circuit court, to name a few. By ignoring these decisions, same-sex marriage advocates are showing their disdain for the facts and instead are resorting to irresponsible scare tactics.

But Virginians need not look outside the state to dismiss the misinformation of amendment opponents, for they are reviving the same arguments used two years ago when the General Assembly passed the Marriage Affirmation Act. At that time homosexual political activist groups promised immediate lawsuits and even solicited for plaintiffs claiming contracts voided or visitation rights denied. We are still awaiting even the first lawsuit. We are waiting, because once again the argument is not legally valid.

Opponents of the amendment are now using the ridiculous argument that Virginia is somehow "rushing" the amendment through with little debate. It is important to remember that the amendment process in Virginia takes nearly two years. This amendment was first introduced more than a year ago. It was vigorously debated in Senate and House committees last year and then again on the floors of both legislative chambers. There has been the necessary intervening election of the entire House of Delegates and again this year the bill was considered by both the House and Senate and passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. The citizens of Virginia now have nine months to consider both sides of the debate before casting their ballot in November. Compare this to places such as Ohio and Texas that put amendments on the ballot and passed them in just a few months. To say that Virginia is somehow working in haste simply does not match up with reality.

Editorial Opposition
While same-sex advocates have lost the citizen vote in every state, they have had one group clearly on their side -- the so-called mainstream media. The disconnect between editorialists in particular and the general public in every state that has passed a similar amendment has been extraordinary. In fact, of 107 newspapers' editorial pages in the 15 states that have passed amendments in the past 18 months, a grand total of 13 supported the amendments, and four of those were in one state. That means more than 90 editorial pages opposed state constitutional amendments defining marriage in states where the citizens supported the amendments by an average of 70 percent!

Everywhere citizens have been given the opportunity to protect traditional marriage, they have done so decisively. It is very likely that Virginians will do the same.

Victoria Cobb is the executive director of the Family Foundation of Virginia.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Great words from Ronald Reagan

Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."

- Ronald Reagan

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

"Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too strong." - Ronald Reagan

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandment's would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." - Ronald Reagan

"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." - Ronald Reagan

"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

- Ronald Reagan

"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program." - Ronald Reagan

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting." - Ronald Reagan

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

- Ronald Reagan

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." - Ronald Reagan

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."

- Ronald Reagan

"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.

- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Remembering a Man and His Ideas

Remembering a Man and His Ideas


Arlington. August 19, 1976, Charlottesville, Virginia. On the television that night was a special event featuring a collage of circus-like antics and serious news commentary. Adults blew horns, waved signs in the air, and wore large hats and buttons and patriotic red-white-and-blue clothing. They were being interviewed by staid reporters who made the antics sound so momentous. That's what made the 1976 Republican National Convention so fascinating to a 12-year- old boy.

There was suspense and intrigue. Rumor swirled about whether President Ford would be nominated and, if so, whom he might pick as his vice-presidential running-mate. The reporters kept focusing on this man named Ronald Reagan. Occasionally the television cameras would pan up to the balcony where he was seated, as the convention crowd kept calling for him until, at last, President Ford invited him to the podium to address the audience. It was all so spontaneous.

I recall vividly how this tall man seemingly plucked out of the crowd strode gracefully to the podium. He had no written remarks in his hand but his confidence was unmistakable. I wondered how he was going to pull this off. And that's when I heard Ronald Reagan speak for the first time. Within a few mesmerizing minutes, I would learn why our 40th President is called "The Great Communicator." His speech was gracious, eloquent, and hopeful. He spoke with the personal conviction that bolstered the meaning of every phrase. That night, Reagan left an indelible impression.

YEARS LATER I became even more captivated by Ronald Reagan's message as he campaigned for the presidency. Perhaps, in the view of some, a low-income housing tenement in Charlottesville is an odd place for the conservative message of Ronald Reagan to resonate.

But Ronald Reagan soon became a familiar voice to me. He spoke with tremen- dous conviction about faith in God, a strong work ethic, and the right of each person to achieve according to his or her God-given talents, free from burdensome regulation and taxation. He seemed to understand me in my station of life, and he spoke to my deep yearning for a better day.

Yet I didn't know of a single adult in my family or in my community who supported this man. By the time he was sworn into office as our nation's 40th President, I was quite intrigued by Ronald Wilson Reagan -- the public man and his ideas.

A teenager is as good as anyone in detecting conviction, and Ronald Reagan quickly demonstrated conviction as the new President. He signed a major tax cut his first year in office. He also set about restoring America's spirit and hopes for the future as well as our military superiority. And he wasted no time in setting out to defeat the "Evil Empire." President Reagan had convinced me in the rightness of all of these fronts. Even more, he gave America -- and me personally the confidence that our best days were ahead.

IN THE FALL of 1982 I enrolled as a political science major at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). I took with me to Hampton the ideals on which I had been raised -- the same ideals that President Reagan articulated -- hard work, trust in God, and service to country. And yet despite my affinity for Ronald Reagan, I still did not consider myself a Republican.

But Hampton University is the kind of place where students are taught how to think, not what to think. For me -- an impressionable 18-year-old -- common-sense honesty supported Reagan's position on cutting taxes and building a stronger military. And that's where I found myself -- agreeing with the honesty and effectiveness of Ronald Reagan's ideas as I found them, without any preconceptions or lingering bitterness from a bygone era.

And somewhere between the night of the 1976 Republican National Convention and adulthood, I had resolved that I was not just a Republican, but a Reagan Republican.

Indeed, Ronald Reagan -- who would have turned 95 today -- will forever stand out as the pre-eminent leader of my lifetime, whether as the man who lost the 1976 nomination battle but won the war of ideas . . . or the fiery candidate who gave America purpose again in 1980 . . . or the President who restored the American economy and won the Cold War without firing a shot . . . or the cultural icon who left us forever reminded and hopeful that great leaders do emerge when we need them.

Paul Harris, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates and a former deputy associate U.S. Attorney General, is senior counsel and director of enterprise compliance at Raytheon and chairman of Americans for Prosperity -- Virginia.

Friday, February 03, 2006

RU-486 abortion pill linked to fatal infections

Mifepristone (RU-486): Fatal Infections Linked to Abortion Drug's Suppression of Immune System

Issue No.: 26
by: Mr. Christopher M. Gacek

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Smoke appeared four months ago when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) heightened RU-486's "Black Box Warning" to physicians based on the drug's dangerous tendency to produce severe infections or sepsis. Now a fire is clearly visible: last Friday the FDA notified medical professionals that all four U.S. sepsis fatalities linked to RU-486 abortions tested positive for an anaerobic bacterial strain, Clostridium sordellii. Furthermore, a Canadian woman died similarly in 2001.

C. sordellii belongs to the same group of pathogenic bacteria that secrete tetanus toxin and botulinal toxin (i.e., botulism); this particular bacterial strain produces Lethal Toxin. Mifepristone short circuits the body's ability to repel C. sordellii. Septic shock can result and is often fatal.

In women of childbearing age, rapidly and intensely developing lethal infections caused by C. sordellii were rare and exclusively associated with postpartum infections prior to FDA's approval of mifepristone. Since septic shock syndrome due to C. sordellii has not been reported in surgical abortions, the occurrence of these five deaths within four years argues strongly that these deaths are not random events. One scientist has plausibly described this syndrome as "mifepristone-induced septic shock," whereby young, healthy women die shortly after taking the drug.

How many more women have to die before FDA extinguishes this murderous fire and pulls RU-486 from the market?

Family Research Council