Tag Archives: Guest contributor

The Transgender Wars — Part III

This is the third of a five-part series on Virginia’s transgender wars.

by Tom Pafford

The Left is waging a very successful War to manipulate the public into accepting Transgender identity as normal. Neither the LGB crowd, nor the “Right-Wingers” who do not accept Trans, have successfully countered this War. The Left’s agenda moves forward daily, e.g., the recently passed Equality Act by the House. And, it is based on a simple precept: “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.”

Little is known for certain about the causes of Trans. But there is no lack of studies.

Identical Twin Studies: When one identical twin is Trans, more often both are Trans. This frequency is not seen in fraternal twins, indicating that there may be a genetic influence for this identity.

Neurobiological Studies: The volume of the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminals (BSTc), a brain area essential for sexual behavior, is larger in men than in women. Studies show that Trans females had female-sized BSTc; the Trans males had male-sized BSTc. (Also see.) Continue reading

The Transgender Wars — Part II

This is the second part of a five-part series on the transgender wars in Virginia.

by Tom Pafford

A behind-the-scenes tug-of-war is happening between the Left and many in the LBG movement. You certainly won’t read about it in USA Today! But you can in Gay news outlets where Gay intellectuals state their concern over Gender Identity.

One such outlet is the Intelligencer:

As many of us [Gays] saw our goals largely completed and moved on, the far left filled the void. The movement is now rhetorically as much about race and gender as it is about sexual orientation. [intersectionality] prefers alternatives to marriage to marriage equality, sees white men as ‘problematic,’ masculinity as toxic, gender as fluid, and race as fundamental. They have no desire to seem ‘virtually normal’; they are contemptuous of “respectability politics” — which means most politics outside the left. Above all, they have advocated transgenderism, an ideology that goes far beyond recognizing the dignity and humanity and civil equality of trans people into a critique of gender, masculinity, femininity, and heterosexuality. ‘Live and let live’ became: “If you don’t believe gender is nonbinary, you’re a bigot.” I would be shocked if this sudden lurch in the message didn’t in some way negatively affect some straight people’s views of gays…. If the gay-rights movement decides to throw in with this new leftism, and abandon the moderation and integrationism of the recent past, they risk turning gay equality from being about a win-win process for gays and straights into a war between ‘LGBT’ people and the rest. That’s a battle none of us need to fight. Especially after the real war was won.

Continue reading

Transgender Wars — Part I

This is the first of a five-part series on Virginia’s transgender wars.

by Tom Pafford

With only 1% of the population claiming transgender status, Trans issues are not a common topic at the dinner table. It wasn’t until I got into the race for a Fairfax County School Board seat this year that I became aware of the Transgender Wars.

For those ignorant about the War or the word “transgender” or the folks who claim to be transgender, let’s start with Bruce Jenner, aka, Caitlyn. As reported in Vanity Fair in July 2015, Bruce’s life was long conflicted, torn between being a biological man and obsessive thoughts that he was really a woman. His Trans journey started in the 1980s with hormones, the removal of body hair and surgery to make his face more feminine. By 2014, he announced his identity as the woman Caitlyn.

As Bruce (Caitlyn) illustrates, every Trans is at war with him (her) self over his (her) body and their gender. Trans want to separate their gender (boy/girl) from their biological body (male/female). Until recently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defined the Trans phenomenon as Gender Identity Disorder, labeling it as a mental disorder.

The controversy over Trans identity is especially intense in LGBTQ circles. Not all Gays are happy with including Trans in their movement. This struggle is played out forcefully on Reddit and other online forums where you’ll find arguments for both sides. A Reddit user, Defsnotmymainaccount, posted the following: Continue reading

Arlington’s Dark Money Candidate

Parisa Dehgani-Tafti

by Liam Bissainthe

Virginia has primary elections coming up tomorrow. Some matter a lot, and you should vote in them if you have the chance — like the prosecutor’s race in Arlington County and Falls Church. That race pits left-wing radical Parisa Dehghani-Tafti against the moderately liberal incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington and Falls Church. In Virginia, you can vote in whichever primary you want — Democratic or Republican — without registering, regardless of which party you’ve voted for in the past.

The left-wing radical Dehghani-Tafti received a staggering sum of money — $583,237 — from a “dark money” group bankrolled by George Soros. So reports the mainstream liberal newspaper the Falls Church News-Press, which has endorsed Stamos. A week ago, the Washington Post reported that Soros’s group had already pumped over $1 million into just two races in Northern Virginia, seeking to replace incumbent Democrats with leftist challengers.

The leftist Dehghani-Tafti wants to lead an office of prosecutors despite never having prosecuted a single case in her life. She does not seem to understand the basic role of a prosecutor in deterring crime. Indeed, she complains about Stamos’s success as a prosecutor. Stamos has never had a single conviction overturned on appeal in her decades as a prosecutor. Stamos’ office prosecutes felonies, rather than ignoring them. That deters violent crime and theft. Continue reading

Utility-Sponsored Energy Efficiency Benefits the Commonwealth

by Chelsea Harnish

The stage is set for a total transformation of the energy-efficiency industry in Virginia. With the passage of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, the electric utilities in Virginia have committed to proposing over $1 billion for energy-efficiency programs over the next ten years. However, none of these commitments are actually guaranteed.

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC), a member-based organization headquartered in Richmond, is dedicated to ensuring that these commitments come to fruition. Energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most direct ways to save consumers money on their monthly bills while spurring economic development, cutting emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Utility-sponsored programs are one of our top priorities, as they are among the largest opportunities to expand energy efficiency in the state. Continue reading

However You Define it, Solitary Confinement is Barbarous

by William Thorpe

In a recent column about solitary confinement, Richard Hall-Sizemore discredited any observations he made based upon his visits to Virginia prisons when he acknowledged that guards and correctional officials may not have showed or told him everything. “They would have if I had asked, but I did not always know enough to ask,” he confessed.

Mr. Hall-Sizemore is in accord with his compatriot Mr. James Bacon, who in an earlier work about solitary confinement opposed the idea that conclusions should be fact-based and data driven, in defending the indefensible.

We are hard-pressed to take Mr. Hall-Sizemore’s column seriously. Is he saying that if Virginia’s use of Solitary Confinement doesn’t comport with Hollywood’s depiction of prison — i.e Cool Hand Luke, The Great Escape, or Communist North Vietnam’s practice of Solitary Confinement — then it is not Solitary Confinement and that society can safely ignore what is being done by its prison officials? If this is Mr. Hall-Sizemore’s position, then the vehicle of its dissemination, Bacon Rebellion, sullies the deeds of Nathanial Bacon in 1676. But considering the the reactionary worldview Mr. Hall-Sizemore’s work intimates, it isn’t surprising that the historical Bacon’s Rebellion and its ethos have been misappropriated and perverted. Continue reading

Coming to Higher-Ed Near You: Transparency, Tuition Freezes

by James Toscano

The year 2019 has been a historic one for public higher education in the Commonwealth.  Thanks to a series of recent state and institutional policy decisions, Virginia’s colleges and universities are on a track to more transparency, accountability, and affordability.

Click for more legible image.

Until this year, the trendline of skyrocketing tuition and fees in Virginia — an 80% increase over the past decade — showed no signs of slowing. In a springtime ritual, some institutions had raised tuition for 17 straight years.

Just last year, tuition and fees increased an average 5% across all public two- and four-year institutions in the Commonwealth, bumping Virginia up one spot to #6 for highest tuition and fees in the nation for public four-year institutions. Continue reading

Educators, Stop Your Whining!

by Bob Shannon

Having attended last Thursday’s Joint School Board and Board of Supervisors meeting at Hamilton Holmes Middle School, I have a few observations.

Dr. David White, King William County school superintendent, made specific mention of the low morale problem among school personnel. Of course the remedy, according to Dr. White, is an across-the-board 5% pay raise for everyone. He cited the lack of a pay raise last year and the need to keep King William schools’ compensation attractive/competitive.

Last year in an effort to keep anyone’s take home pay from declining, measures such as higher co-pays and deductibles had to be raised in order to accomplish this. Have these folks already forgotten the hundreds of thousands of dollars that tax payers picked up in their increased health care costs?

In the economic contraction beginning in 2008 and lasting six years, did a single school employee get laid off or lose their job? Did one school employee have to take a pay cut? Did a single school employee have their pension contributions cut?  Did even one of them lose a week of the 12-13 weeks they get off each year ? Continue reading

I Wonder Why That Is

by Megan Rhyne

We humans are observant creatures. We notice everything, even when we don’t notice that we’re noticing. We especially notice when things are different. How often have you seen something in your community, something that’s part of your regular routine, and noticed that it’s just not quite the same as it used to be. And haven’t you often asked yourself, “Hmm, I wonder why that is?”

If that’s happened to you, you should meet Lee Albright and his wife, Paulette, who retired to Nelson County some years ago. A dozen years ago, Lee and Paulette liked to visit their local fish hatchery, which was run by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). When the fish hatchery was suddenly closed to tourists, Lee and Paulette asked themselves, “Hmm, I wonder why that is?”

Lee wasn’t content to let that question be merely rhetorical. Instead, Lee set out to get answers.

He turned to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a law that can be used by any Virginia citizen to gain access to the records our local and state governments use, maintain, generate and possess in the course of carrying out the work of the people. Continue reading

Ralph Northam Panders to Save His Own Skin

Mr. Sincerity

by Hans Bader

It’s unsavory for a politician to try to buy forgiveness from those he has offended with taxpayer dollars. But that is what Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is doing. In an interview with the Washington Post, he announced plans to spend more money on government programs like “affordable housing” in the name of racial “equity” and fighting “white privilege.”

How this would actually benefit black people is unclear. Many wasteful and destructive programs exist in the name of “affordable housing.” Cities like Detroit have blighted and decaying public housing projects that consumed taxpayer money only to end up producing concentrated crime and poverty. One national “affordable housing” program produced 50 rapidly decaying slums, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As Jazz Shaw notes, Northam’s aides are also “saying that he will be focused on things like new legislation to enforce diversity and equality along with pushing through new funding for Virginia’s five historically black colleges and universities.”

Continue reading

Why Does King William Need a $11 Million Cash Reserve?

King William County cash reserves — how much is too much?

by Bob Shannon

We often listen to Pols cite the “gouging” we poor rubes are being subjected to. Members of Congress & our state legislative bodies –even local Pols get in on the game — tell us that big banks, big insurance companies, big brokerage firms, big pharmaceutical companies, big this or that are gouging us … and, by golly, the Pols are going to do something about it. Absent our Pols’ intervention, we would be bowled over by institutions cheating us at every turn.  

What they don’t talk about is the gouging they do themselves. No better example of this is what we have happening right here in King William County. A theft of epic proportions is taking place right in front of us.

Local governments need a reserve fund for a  time when the economy contracts and the local government needs funds to continue operating. This fund is supposed to be for the purpose of paying the ongoing routine costs of local government.  Continue reading

Equal Access for Teachers Organizations!

Bill DeSteph

by Chris Braunlich

Should Virginia teachers have equal access to any legitimate employee association offering professional support, insurance and other benefits, so they can find the best deal for their money?

Legislation introduced by Sen. William DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, SB1236, would give non-profit Virginia teacher associations an equal opportunity to make their pitch to teachers in every school division. It would end the practice in many school systems of providing monopoly access to politicized employee associations, notably the Virginia Education Association.

The issue is no trivial matter – not for the associations nor, especially, for the employees. In a litigious world, teachers – who regularly interact with underage minors, parents, colleagues, and powerful administrators – are especially in need of professional support and liability insurance providing legal protection. It is something they never want to use but know they need to have. Continue reading

Gerrymandering Virginia from Red to Blue

by Hans Bader

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel redistricted Virginia’s House of Delegates, adopting a highly favorable map for Democrats. It is effectively a political gerrymander in their favor. The result will be to lock in Democratic dominance in the state for years to come, giving them control of future redistricting.

Tuesday’s redistricting will shift control of the House of Delegates, which currently is controlled by Republicans by a narrow 51-to-49 margin, to the Democrats. Democrats already control the governor’s mansion, and were virtually certain to pick up control of the State Senate next year, which is currently split 21-to-19 in favor of the GOP. That’s because four Senate districts currently represented by Republicans have become Democratic-leaning, and Democrats are almost certain to pick up one of those seats, because the incumbent, Dick Black (R), is retiring in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 6%. Continue reading

Filling Virginia’s Flood Insurance Gap

by Lisa Miller

A new Federal Emergency Management Agency report is shocking: 69% of Virginia homes in high risk flood zones do not have flood insurance. Another report reveals 17% of Virginia properties should be listed in high risk zones – but are not. Congress’s continued failure to reform an increasingly expensive National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), coupled with last year’s record-setting floods and now Hurricanes Michael and Florence, has created an urgent need to improve the availability and affordability of flood insurance. The Virginia General Assembly and legislatures in other states can help address this dangerous situation by encouraging a larger private flood insurance market.

There is only one private insurance company writing primary flood insurance in Virginia, defined as up to $250,000 in coverage. Although 106,000 Virginians have NFIP coverage, FEMA’s report, “An Affordability Framework for the National Flood Insurance Program,” found that only residents with higher incomes are buying it, leaving an ever-growing majority of others unprotected.  While FEMA studies the situation, the private market is moving ahead and delivering more affordable flood insurance where it can.

New catastrophe models are allowing insurance companies to better understand risk and thus accurately price flood premiums – down to the individual property – providing greater consumer choice and alternatives to the federal NFIP. When state government encourages it, a vibrant, competitive environment emerges as it has in Florida where, in just 3 years, almost 30 companies are offering better coverage at a cheaper price. In Miami-Dade County, ground zero for Hurricane Andrew in 1992, one private insurer’s average premium is $677 compared to the NFIP’s $980 average.

Catastrophe models, model law. The use of catastrophe models in setting rates isn’t new. But it’s usually used together with claims data, something the NFIP hasn’t been willing to share, citing privacy concerns. Also, greater consistency is needed among individual state insurance departments on how catastrophe models may be used in submitting rates.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) has begun reviewing a simple two-page proposed draft law, based on Florida’s, whose concept is, “If you build it, they will come.” The draft law permits companies, as an example, to test market rates in order to promote competition and choice, with the regulator approving policy language if a state requires a review (some do not) to ensure policies meet or exceed NFIP coverage.

The model law also ensures that insurance agents educate consumers about the dangers of going without coverage, and that insurance commissioners certify that policies are adequate to meet mortgage banking requirements. The safeguards in this simple model law will reduce our reliance on federal flood insurance.

Some in the insurance industry are concerned that this proposed regulation is overreaching or unnecessary. It is nonetheless designed to provide suggestions to regulators and those regulated on how to work together to launch and grow a successful market. What isn’t in dispute is private flood coverage’s cost savings, improved benefits, and greater consumer choice.

Start the conversation. NFIP premiums are rising an average of 8% this year but in some areas by 18%,the maximum annual increase allowed under law. So it just makes sense for state legislators and regulators to begin the conversation to fast-track the growth of a private market, which has the added benefit of spreading the risk to private insurers and away from U.S. taxpayers.

Too many Virginians are unprotected from the hazards of flood waters. There’s an urgent need to improve the availability and affordability of flood insurance so more homeowners are able to buy protection for their property and families. While Congressional paralysis stymies needed NFIP reforms, we must work toward model private flood insurance legislation to let Washington know “we got this.”

Lisa Miller is a former Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner who served as an advisor on passage of Florida’s key laws encouraging a vibrant private flood insurance market. She is CEO of Lisa Miller & Associates, a Tallahassee, Florida-based consulting firm. @LisaMillerAssoc

Forgotten Battles, Missing Landmarks


by Cliff Page

On an abnormally warm early Spring day, I took a 150-mile motorcycle ride from Portsmouth to Stony Creek, Va. That’s where my Great Great Grandpa was captured by federal forces in 1864. He rode with the South Carolina 6th Insurgent Calvary (Aka: the Dixie Raiders), which fought in nearly every major engagement in Virginia from 1862 until the surrender.

Before visiting Stony Creek I had no idea of the importance of the place. I presumed that it was just an outlier to the defense of Petersburg. But from talking to some old timers who live there today, I learned that Stony Creek was a critical logistical hub for the Army of Northern Virginia and a focal point of the lengthy siege of Petersburg, the loss of which precipitated General Lee’s calamitous retreat towards Appomattox and the end of the Civil War.

Stony Creek lies to the west of Interstate 95 between Emporia and Petersburg. During the siege of Petersburg between June 1864 and March 1865 nearly all the supplies to the Confederate defenders — including those from Wilmington, N.C., the only Confederate port not blockaded on the East Coast at the time — came up the Petersburg and Weldon (now CSX Railway) into the Stony Creek depot. Goods were offloaded from the trains and put onto wagons and hauled on plank roads through the back woods and swamps to Petersburg, 25 miles to the north.

During the siege of Petersburg, a largely static affair, a series of engagements were fought over Stony Creek. In June, the Confederates turned back a Yankee cavalry foray, but not until the raiders had torn up 60 miles of railroad track. General Grant ordered another raid in December, which the defenders likewise repulsed. But the attack disrupted the vital supply line, doubling the distance supply wagons had to travel and exacerbating the Army of Northern Virginia’s shortages of ammunition, food, and medical supplies.

By March it was clear that Lee could no longer hold on. After a series of reversals, he evacuated Petersburg. In full retreat, the Army of Northern Virginia would fight only a couple more engagements before being forced to capitulate at Appomattox Court House on April 3rd.

I don’t know exactly where my Great Great Grandpa Randolph Page was captured at Stoney Creek, or where he was imprisoned. Many Confederate Calvary POWs were incarcerated on the Eastern Shore. But one thing is recorded – he was given ten dollars in gold, at discharge and walked on foot back to Landrum, S.C. Upon arriving at his log cabin and farm, he stripped off his lice-infested uniform, burned it, shaved off his hair and scrubbed his body down with lye soap in the creek. Thereafter he returned to the plow and put the war behind him.

Today Stony Creek is a little rural community in sad shape, and hanging by a thread. Cars and trucks whiz by on I-95 and and pay no mind. The BBQ pit and little antique shop, once easily accessible on old I-301, are off the beaten track. The billboard next to the BBQ displays the rust of over 50 years, as worn sign paper and gauze wisp gently in the breeze like curtains to the past.

The town’s history is being forgotten as those who remember get older. But the rail that brought in supplies and ammunition is still there, as are the winding roads where muleskinners ported supplies from the depot to Petersburg. A cannon abandoned in the swamp rests on the main street. The one-room Sappony Baptist church — where Confederate infantrymen fought off a company of Yankees before friendly cavalry ran them off — still stands. The church bears the scars from where a Yankee cannon ball punched through the front wall and a bullet hit the church Bible. Today, the wall’s hole is patched with tin and the church is sided with vinyl.

A wealth of knowledge about the Civil War resides in small communities like Stony Creek, but it is dying. I talked to the locals and encouraged them to print a flyer with a brief history of Stony Creek and a map showing the battlefields and the plank road routes that channeled supplies to Lee’s defenses. Virginians in communities across the state should do likewise, and put up materials on a common statewide History and Tourism website. Tourists could download and print these maps and history as guides or view them on their smart phones.

This would be a great project for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, indeed a project in which all Southern states could participate. Creating a platform for small communities to tell their story of Virginia’s defense and the Confederate cause would lift local spirits and stimulate tourism. History could be brought to life for a new generation, as folks discover the little places, now forgotten, that played significant roles in history.

Stony Creek is a great day trip on a motorcycle or an open convertible on a warm sunny day. I encourage Virginians to visit the place and learn about the history of which we all are apart.

Cliff Page, a sculptor, lives and maintains his studio in Portsmouth.