Who Hit the Brakes on NoVa Growth?

Hamilton Lombard. Photo credit: UVA Today

by James A. Bacon

Northern Virginia’s population is growing, but not nearly as fast as before. According to a new study by University of Virginia demographer Hamilton Lombard, Northern Virginia accounted for 66.5% of the state’s population growth between 2010 and 2019, but slipped to 33.7% in the last year.

“While Northern Virginia is still growing in population, its recent slowdown is remarkable given how long so much of Virginia’s population growth has been concentrated in Northern Virginia,” Lombard said in an interview with UVA Today. “Since 1980, Northern Virginia has contributed to over half of the commonwealth’s entire population growth. Earlier in the 2010s, over two-thirds of Virginia’s population growth occurred in Northern Virginia.”

“Yet, since the mid-2010s, population growth in Northern Virginia has slowed considerably as more residents have left the region, often moving to other Southern states,” Lombard said. “Some of the initial out-migration may have been driven by the federal budget sequestration and shutdowns, which slowed growth in the region’s economy.”

Northern Virginia has driven demographic, political and economic change in Virginia over the past three or four decades. The region now dominates the state in much the same way that Chicago overshadows the rest of Illinois and New York City runs the Empire State. A marked slowdown in the region’s growth could have momentous consequences for Virginia’s economic prosperity and political economy. Here’s the big question: Was 2020 a transitory blip or does it portend longer-lasting changes? Continue reading

Shapira’s Confederates in the Attic

Ian Shapira. Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

In a series of blistering articles over the past year, Washington Post staff writer Ian Shapira has accused the Virginia Military Institute of “relentless racism” and written favorably about the renaming of statues, memorials and iconography associated with slavery and the Confederacy.

Reporting on the May meeting of the VMI Board of Visitors, for instance, Shapira recounted how the Board took steps to downplay the military academy’s tributes to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, whom he described as “a former professor at the college who owned six enslaved people.” The board stripped the Civil War general’s name from an arch and from the memorial hall. The purge went so far as to expunge Jackson’s name from a barracks plaque that was inscripted with a maxim he often quoted.

That erasure came, Shapira noted in a self-administered pat on the back, after The Washington Post published a story, which he had written, “chronicling a host of disturbing incidents in recent years at VMI.” That article also prompted Governor Ralph Northam to launch an investigation into racism at the school.

One would never imagine it from reading his broadsides against VMI, but Shapira himself has a few Confederates in the attic. The Post reporter sits on the board of directors of a Kentucky-based distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. The family-owned business sells three brands of bourbon named after owners or employers of slave labor and a brand of rum named after a fervent defender of England’s slave plantations in the West Indies. Continue reading

Gas Lines and Headlines

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s tempting to mock the folks lined up at gas stations these past few days as “panic buyers.” You know, fearful, gas-addicted, greed balls.

Smug members of the media have been quick to blame them for the shortages.

The Washington Post: Panic buying strikes Southeastern United States as shuttered pipeline resumes operations

New York Times: Gas Pipeline Hack Leads to Panic Buying in the Southeast

The Boston Globe: People in the Southeast are panic-buying gas.

The Charlotte observer: Long lines growing at NC gas stations as Colonial Pipeline hack spurs ‘panic buying’

Then again, these lazy, unimaginative  headlines were written by editors who — especially since the beginning of the pandemic — do the bulk of their work from their La-Z-Boys. With their cats on their laps. Continue reading

Marx, White Moral Panic and a White Liberal’s Rosary

Derrick Bell, the father of Critical Race Theory

by James C. Sherlock

A couple of days ago Dick Sizemore-Hall published CRT and Virginia History here.

Dick is an excellent essayist. That one was the exception that proves the rule.

He indicated early in the more-than-1,500 word piece that he would discuss “the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT.” I actually looked forward to hearing his point of view on that subject.

But he never got around to it.

He may actually have forgotten that was what he set out to do. Instead he recited the history of racism in Virginia from the perspective of a white man from Richmond.

He named me several times. Yet he ignored my well-documented position that CRT-driven educational policies threaten the futures of young black students. He wrote instead that people like me either ignore or deny the history of racism.

That was, of course, a classic straw man fallacy. This one has the singular disadvantages of being false and he has ample reason to know it. Continue reading

State Tax Harvest Under Northam Expands Again

by Steve Haner

With the release today of the April 2021 Virginia state revenue report, a correction in an earlier post becomes necessary. Overall general fund state tax collections are not up 26% so far compared to four years ago, they are up almost 30 percent. Corporate income tax collections are not up 68%, but 86% over the same period four years ago.

Your correspondent regrets the error and admits jumping the gun after the March report knowing things would become more dramatic soon. Since the essence of good communication is repetition, expect another update in a month. And as has been the case for a while now, expect Governor Ralph Northam to seek to distract the voters from what is really going on.

From today’s news release:

“Virginia is posting the largest monthly revenue increase in the 21st century this month, in sharp contrast with many other states,” said Governor Northam. “Make no mistake — this is the result of strong fiscal management and Virginians doing the right things to put this pandemic behind us. People are getting back to work, businesses are investing, and we expect this surge to continue in the months ahead as our economy returns to full strength.”

“Make no mistake — this is the result of strong fiscal management…” the Governor said. Well, no, unless you count a host of tax increases to be “strong fiscal management.” Or unless you consider a set of federal bailout bills that flooded people with cash to spend as “strong fiscal management.” Stimulus yes, management no.  Continue reading

Do Not Discount the Anger Over School Shutdowns

by James A. Bacon

Arlington County is one of the “bluest” localities in Virginia, exceeded in its propensity to vote Democratic (81% in the 2020 election) only by black-majority cities like Richmond and Petersburg and the Berkeley of the East Coast also known as Charlottesville. (The way things are heading, I soon may be compelled to refer to Berkeley as the Charlottesville of the West Coast.) But the level of dissatisfaction with the Arlington County School Board’s handling of the COVID-19 school shutdown has many Arlington parents up in arms.

I have issues with mainstreaming autistic children with major behavioral problems, but I think it’s a good thing to try if the children can exhibit a modicum of self control. Whatever one’s view of the matter, it is heart-breaking to hear what happened to Reade Bush’s autistic son when deprived of social interaction during Arlington’s fling with distance learning.

As Bush testified to the U.S. House Labor and Education Committee last week, the social isolation was devastating. His son lost sleep, lost social skills, lost his love of learning, and lost his grip on reality. He created an imaginary world with 52 friends. On his ninth birthday, he asked his father, “Daddy, can I die for my birthday?” In November Arlington schools began providing partial in-person learning for students with disabilities, and the lad’s situation has stabilized. But Bush says his son is a full year behind in reading, reports ArlNow.  Continue reading

Great Moments in Virginia Governance: John Marshall Higgins

It looks like John Marshall Higgins, former superintendent of the Rockbridge County Regional Jail and former member of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors, will himself be heading to jail. He was convicted Sunday on multiple charges of failure to protect inmates, denial of medical care, and accepting money for favors.

According to WSLS, Higgins accepted at least $3,000 in payments and other items from family and friends of an inmate in exchange for special treatment. The money was funneled through a scholarship fund operated by Higgins and his family. In turn, he allowed the inmate to have unsupervised contact visits, ice cream deliveries, unfettered access to jail facilities, and, at the inmate’s request, an upgraded cable package for the jail.

— JAB

Glenn Youngkin’s Good Vibes

by Chris Saxman

Over the last week and a half, I attended three Glenn Youngkin campaign events with three different women — my wife Michele and our two daughters, Mary Kathryn and Nora. It wasn’t intentional that I went to separate events with each of them, it just worked out that way. All three are college-educated suburban women.

While you might think that in our house we talk politics a lot and always vote the same way, I can assure you — we do not. Never have. I have always told our kids to vote for the person you think is best for the job. We compare notes afterwards. Michele and I have been the same way since our first political conversations thirty years ago. “Who did you vote for?” “Oh, okay.” “How about you?” “Oh, okay.”

The first event was at a local restaurant the Henrico GOP uses for its meetings in Innsbrook called Atlas 42. Good size. Clean. Plenty of room without being cavernous. Mary Kathryn and I went to check out the campaign of Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading

This One Easy Trick Makes Gas Lines Grow Expontentially

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

As panic buying sends Virginians to the gas pumps to top off their tanks, Attorney General Mark Herring is encouraging citizens to report instances of price gouging.

“This ransomewear (sic) attack on the Colonial Pipeline could create disruptions in the gasoline supply across the Commonwealth, and unfortunately, bad actors could take advantage of this just to line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a press release. “Virginians should not have to worry about paying exorbitant prices for gas and other necessary goods during this time.”

Herring encouraged Virginians to file complaints with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

This is the absolute worst possible thing the state can do. Economics 101: During times like this, prices should rise. Continue reading

Gas Shortages: Deja Vu All Over Again

Photo credit: New York Post

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s like old times. 1979 to be exact.

Just 3 1/2 months into the Biden administration and we’ve gone from energy independence to gas lines.

What’s next, 18% percent mortgages? Or will Joe borrow Jimmy Carter’s old cardigan and urge us all to turn down the thermostats?

Yep, everywhere I went yesterday it looked a lot like it did 32 years ago. Long lines of cars snaking around gas stations. Exasperated drivers pounding their steering wheels.

I remember 1979 well because I was living in Northern Virginia and the odd/even gas rationing was chaotic. I became so desperate for fuel for my diesel VW Rabbit that I actually siphoned gallons out of the heating oil tank at my house one day.

I can still taste it.

Yes, I know that’s illegal. I believe the statute has run on that crime. Continue reading

Seven GOP House Primaries on June 8

by Steve Haner

Virginia Republicans in seven of the 100 House of Delegate districts still have House nominees to pick in the June 8 primary. The focus on last Saturday’s unassembled convention for statewide candidates has overshadowed these races.

They will also be overshadowed by the Democratic nomination contests on the same date. But some of these Republican contests are showing signs of being heated, and with strong candidates picked for November could be some of the seats which determine control of the House.

In the three western Virginia contests, Republican incumbents seeking new terms face internal challenges. Three other contests have more than one Republican seeking to challenge an incumbent Democrat. One seat, House District 51 in Prince William, will have no incumbent on the ballot (Democratic Del. Hala Ayala surrendered it to run statewide).

For those of you Republicans or Independents who consider yourselves done voting until November, peruse the list and watch your email or snail mail for signs you are in one of these contested districts. Democrats, you’re all getting pushed to show up anyway by your statewide races.  Continue reading

Combating the Great Awokening

Read about woke math in National Review.

by James A. Bacon

Outside of the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, Northern Virginia is the most lopsidedly Democratic region of Virginia. It is also the most woke, and it is pushing the so-called “equity” agenda in schools more aggressively than anywhere else in the state. But the educrats have over-reached, pushing too far, too fast, and much of the population is up in arms. Insurgent groups are popping up over Northern Virginia, mobilizing support through social media, raising money to take back school boards, and using investigative-journalism techniques to delve into topics that local media refuse to cover.

The Washington Post has covered the Great Awokening in Northern Virginia schools only anecdotally. The region’s dominant newspaper has devoted none of its investigative resources to probing school board machinations and excesses as it has with, say, racism at the Virginia Military Institute. Citizens have been on their own to figure out what is going on.

Fortunately, one of those citizens is Asra Nomani, a parent of a student at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who became outraged by the Fairfax School system’s equity-driven assault on the school’s admissions practices. A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she fought back with the tactics she knew. Linking up with other super-savvy Northern Virginia moms to create Parents Defending Education (see the leadership team here) the India-born Nomani has wielded the Freedom of Information Act like a Gurkha kukri to hack out the story that the mainstream media has been unable or unwilling to tell. Continue reading

GOP Is Dead Serious About Retaking Governor’s Mansion

by Kerry Dougherty

Wow. They’re serious. The Republicans really want to win in November and they set aside their predictable losing behavior to do it by nominating outsider multi-millionaire Glenn Youngkin to be the next governor of Virginia.

This gambit might not work, but in an unusual election year, it could. The Democrats and Gov. Ralph Northam have made so many mistakes that there are rich issues to mine that may resonate with Northern Virginia’s liberal wine moms.

Virginia’s schools, for instance: The desultory rate of reopening, thanks to Dems being in bed with the militant teacher’s unions is a scandal. So is the dumbing down of education due to DOE’s policies that are headed toward eliminating advanced math before 11th grade and advanced diplomas when students graduate.

Then there’s public safety and the Parole Board’s shenanigans as they set killers loose. Continue reading

An Old Use of Solar Power

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Greenhouses have been used since the time of the Roman Empire. A couple of Virginia Beach entrepreneurs are planning to use this old technology to harness the sun’s energy in a big way.

Their company, Sunny Farms, plans to invest $60 million to build hydroponic greenhouses on more than 30 acres, about 25 football fields, over three years. It would be one of the largest greenhouse facilities on the East Coast. The goal is to produce fresh vegetables for the big box chain stores in Hampton Roads, as well as for military commissaries. In its first year of operation, the company projects it will grow 10 million plants. Continue reading

CRT and Virginia History

“I have a dream.”

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Over the past few months, there has been considerable commentary on Bacon’s Rebellion regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT). Many on this blog seem to genuinely fear that this theory, or frame of reference, presents an existential threat to society, with our schools becoming centers of “Marxist indoctrination.”

Before discussing the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT, it is useful to define it. James Sherlock, who is the leading commenter on this blog raising the alarm about CRT, defines it thusly:

“It postulates that racism is the driving force in society, that in order to understand power relations, in order to understand institutions such as the law, education, the Constitution, social relations, you have to understand that through the lens of race.” Continue reading