Author Archives: James A. Bacon

Another One Bites the Dust

Utility-scale solar projects are getting shot down like Hamas rockets.

by James A. Bacon

From today’s news dump courtesy of VA News:

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected an application by Dynamic Energy LLC to build a five-megawatt solar facility on 40 acres of farmland near Bealeton, reports Fauquier Now. “When I looked at this,” said Supervisor Rick Gerhardt, “I didn’t want to take solid farmland out of production. Those are good soils on that property. For me, I do not want to see that removed from farming.” The county planning commission had rejected it previously by a 3 to 2 vote.

Meanwhile, Round Hill Solar LLC has withdrawn a plan to develop 560 acres of solar panels from the Augusta County Board of Supervisor. The planning commission had already determined that the plan conflicted with the county’s comprehensive plan that took location, character, and extent of the project into consideration, reports the News Leader. Continue reading

Kibosh the Cancel Culture

Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira has won two journalism awards — the Poke award for state reporting, and the Hechinger Grand Prize for educational coverage — for his coverage of “relentless racism” at the Virginia Military Institute. It’s a good bet that the Washington Post will nominate his coverage for a Pulitzer Prize, the gold standard for American journalism.

VMI alumnus Robert Morris has started a petition at Change.org calling for the Pulitzer Committee to conduct a “full and objective investigation” before granting him a prize for what many in the VMI community is his highly biased reporting. Check out the petition here.

Update: If you’re of a mind to express your indignation this quiet weekend, speak out about Fairfax County’s plans to implement a new “Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Curriculum Policy” in place of the old “Controversial Issues Policy” that ensured that teachers would be fair and impartial discussing controversial issues in the classroom. Parents Defending Education takes tells you how to let your opinions be known.

— JAB

Kasey Meredith Makes History at VMI

Kasey Meredith made national headlines yesterday when she became the first woman in the Virginia Military Institute’s 182-year history to serve as regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets. She will be responsible to the commandant of cadets for the training, discipline, health, welfare and morale of the corps.

“The great thing about VMI is it pushes you to do what you’re capable of,” Meredith said, according to the Roanoke Times. “I shot for every opportunity that I had. It’s amazing to see the way I’ve grown here.”

VMI is not for snowflakes. That makes it almost unique among all higher-ed institutions in the United States. Meredith, a Navy brat like myself, is planning a career in the U.S. Marine Corps. Thank goodness for VMI. We don’t need snowflakes in the military. We need warriors and leaders.

— JAB

The F*ck Quilt Lady Is W&L’s New College Dean

Chawne Kimber

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia had its “F*ck UVa” sign controversy. Brace yourself for Washington & Lee University’s “F*ck quilt” brouhaha.

About ten days ago, W&L announced a new dean of the college, Chawne Kimber, head of the math department and co-director of the STEM education at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. She will oversee 21 departments and 13 interdisciplinary programs.

“We are fortunate that Chawne will be joining the W&L community to lead the College,” said Lena Hill, the current dean and soon-to-be provost, in a press release. In addition to her academic accomplishments in mathematics, STEM pedagogy, and promoting diversity, Kimber is an “accomplished visual artist.” Her work, presented in galleries and museums across the country and lauded in publications ranging from The Washington Post to Quilting Arts Magazine, uses quilting to explore social justice themes.

Yes, some people call this art.

One of Kimber’s artistic tropes is to “challenge boundaries” by quilting variations on the word f*ck and other profanities. As she says on her quilting blog, “completely cauchy,” “We express our potty-mouths in patchwork using the ultimate in four-letter words.”

It’s not entirely clear from the completely cauchy blog what the philosophical impetus is behind the ornamentation of profanity. Continue reading

Ranked Choice Republican Recap

Image credit: The UP Lab

by Chris Saxman

Well, the Republican Party of Virginia actually pulled it off. Their Ranked Choice Voting Unassembled Convention Through the Legs off the Backboard with Twist (which lasted lemme see…one… two…three…no, FOUR days) finally ended and ended well.

Not only did RPV manage to pull it off, but their statewide ticket of Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares is the most diverse in the history of the Commonwealth. National Republicans are thrilled, but more importantly for the GOP, Virginia Republicans are united, well-funded, and energized for the 2021 campaign season. They also have a month head start on their Democratic opponents.

Since I attended the Phillies/Nationals game in DC yesterday, you’re probably going to read more than a couple baseball references. But since politics and baseball are so similar the references usually work, I offer no apology.

Like the movie Mr. Baseball starring Tom Selleck pointed out – every batter has a “hole in their swing.” That’s the place in the strike zone a pitcher looks to throw the ball because, for some reason or another, the batter just can’t hit a ball thrown there. Swing mechanics, stance, hands, hips, shoulders …. all create holes. The problem Selleck’s character had was not just a hole in his swing, but more importantly he had a hole in his attitude. His Japanese manager and the Japanese culture, filled those holes. It’s a fun movie with a nice storyline.
Anyway… Continue reading

Will Northam Cling to Mask Mandates?

Yes, I burned a mask yesterday. It felt good.

by Kerry Dougherty

Well, the ball’s now in Ralph Northam’s court. The CDC announced yesterday that it’s recommending vaccinated people lose the masks.

Indoors and out. Imagine that!

And, no, the science didn’t magically change yesterday. Many of us knew all along that a piece of cloth couldn’t stop a virus.

What changed is that the Biden administration is up to it’s wrinkly neck in problems. Gas lines, inflation, a border crisis, poor employment numbers and a war brewing in the Middle East are quickly eroding the president’s popularity. Getting rid of masks — which normal people hate — is a way to curry favor with the public.

There is no need for vaccine passports, although the CDC seemed to set the table for them. Predictably, Karens are screaming for them.

They miss the point. Vaccines are widely available, so those who aren’t vaccinated are on their own. The vaccinated should mind their own business. It matters not if the maskless guy next to you hasn’t gotten the vaccine. You’re protected! Continue reading

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

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

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