Tag Archives: Guest contributors

A Dialogue on Money in Virginia Politics

Jeff Thomas: Thank you for having me to Bacon’s Rebellion, Jim. I’m a longtime reader, first-time poster. Money in Virginia politics is an important topic on which I think we both agree, and I’m eager to hear your take on it. As I understand it, we’ll each answer and ask a question of the other within a 500-word limit. So let me begin.

What would be the rules for your ideal campaign finance system in Virginia?

Jim Bacon: Jeff, I’m delighted to engage in this exchange. As author of “The Virginia Way: Democracy and Power after 2016,” you are one of the few writers to take a deep interest in Virginia’s political economy, genuinely trying to understand the sources and distribution of power at the state/local level. Hopefully, this dialogue will prove illuminating.

Like you and many others, I find the role of money in politics to be disturbing. It is deeply unfair that the rich and powerful can buy more political influence through campaign contributions than ordinary citizens. But unfairness is part of the human condition. The question is whether the cure is worse than the disease. I do not believe in restricting campaign contributions, even if it means giving a billionaire California liberal like Tom Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action group (more than $3.7 million in the past few years) a bigger voice in Virginia politics than a life-long resident like myself. The Constitution gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and the right to petition government, and I regard the donation of money to political candidates as an extension of both those rights. Continue reading

Rankings Spam

by Chris Saxman

There are a LOT of rankings and polls coming out these days. Some are credible, others less so.

Recently, a ranking was released by Oxfam that graded the states and the District of Columbia. This is the second year of their ranking. Here’s what their release stated:

In 2018, workers are not sharing in the bounty of our thriving economy—and the federal government is not going to make changes that matter. However, some states are taking steps to keep working families out of poverty, and to give them a decent chance. How does your state rank?

According to Oxfam’s rankings, Virginia ranks LAST out of the 50 states and DC.

#51 out of 51.

LAST? <cue gasp>

Wait. How are these rankings compiled? And what is Oxfam anyway? (Click the link above.) Continue reading

Those Tenant-Eviction Stats Are Valid

by Marty Wegbreit

The August 15, 2019 post, “A Closer Look at Those Tenant-Eviction Stats,” fails to stand up to statistical or critical analysis. The post blames Virginia’s Independent City/County form of government for high eviction rates. (Five of the highest ten eviction rates in large U.S. cities over 100,000 population are in Virginia.) Virginia’s independent cities do not incorporate the wealthier suburbs. Supposedly, this artificially raises the eviction rate. No data are presented to support this theory.

When you examine cities of similar population, similar area, and similar percentage of African-American population, Richmond still stands out with a high eviction rate.

Richmond’s eviction rate is substantially greater than Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La. Something clearly is wrong in Richmond. The theory of cities that do not incorporate wealthier suburbs also fails when comparing Richmond to Chesapeake, an independent city more than 5½ times larger in area. Continue reading

The Microgrid Option

Microgrids would make it easier to integrate more rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources into the electric grid.

By Jane Twitmyer

Building a clean electric system takes more than switching from fossil fuels to renewables. To make good use of wind and solar power, Virginia needs a modern, flexible electric grid that can exploit and optimize the unique attributes those resources bring to bear. And it needs new rules — laws and regulations — that can allow such a system to develop.

A more flexible electric system will be built in part around microgrids. The Navigant consulting firm defines microgrids as networks incorporating a variety of distributed energy resources, such as wind and solar, that can be aggregated, can balance loads and generation with or without energy storage, and can function whether connected or not to a traditional utility power grid.

As distributed renewable energy resources replace large central generation plants — more rooftop solar, more community wind and solar — electricity generation becomes more localized. Localized generators, particularly photovoltaic solar, require less supporting infrastructure. For instance, local generation doesn’t require transmission lines to wheel electricity across long distances (leaking electricity in the process). And unlike natural gas, it doesn’t require pipelines to deliver fuel to the generating site. Continue reading

Saving Atlantic Loggerheads from Plastics

Nesting loggerhead at Cape Hatteras

On the evening of June 11,  two endangered Loggerhead sea turtles crawled out of the ocean and wriggled up the sand at Virginia Beach. One dug a hole, laid 150-eggs and covered them with sand before returning to sea. The eggs had to be carefully relocated by human intervention to a safer nesting spot. In about 60-days, these eggs should hatch, and the baby loggerheads will instinctively head out to the Gulf Stream to mature, taking a  giant “lazy river” ride, circulating repeatedly to the other side of the Atlantic and back for more than a decade.

Should they survive, these hatchlings already know that Virginia is for Lovers, since they are biologically encoded to return here to mate and lay their eggs.  Virginia however is at the northernmost extent of the Loggerhead range and has only a few sporadic sea turtle nests.

To more closely study Loggerhead survival, our family recently made a scientific journey to prime Loggerhead breeding territory: Hilton Head Island, S.C. Continue reading

The Transgender Wars — Part V

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

by Tom Pafford

Around the 5th Century BC, Sun Tzu wrote a book on War.  No one comes close to what this Chinese master of battle devised. Chapter 6 in his book is titled, Week Points and Strong. Here is Sun Tzu’s advice…

You may advance and be absolutely irresistible if you make for the enemy’s weak points… Though the enemy be stronger in number, we may prevent him from fighting… Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.

In Part One, I mentioned that Virginia has become a battleground for all things Transgender. Here’s how this came to be and why Fairfax County is important…

As you know, Fairfax County, Richmond, and Hampton Roads are Democratic Leftist strongholds. The vote there moves all of Virginia left. The Left has big goals for Virginia. Since 2013, major news outlets have stated that, “As Virginia goes, so goes the nation. Why? Because Virginia is a state that increasingly resembles the United States as a whole. Millions of dollars are funneled into Virginia to gain National momentum for a 2020 Democrat win and force the Transgender Catechism upon parents, children and society. I do not know their Virginia strategy, but it appears that Virginia is a must-win state. Continue reading

The Transgender Wars — Part IV

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

by Tom Pafford

There is a song by Wendy McNeill, Ask Me No Questions, that reminds me of the Transgender Catechism. In the song, she meets a charming but unpleasant character who, like a chameleon, tempts her.  One verse sticks out…

I’ll say, can you see
It’s not about hope,
It’s not about truth,
Don’t be naïve
Just, come dance with me
I’ll keep you safe
Give you all you can take
I’ll make you happy

This Catechism is not about hope for you. It does not concern the truth about Trans. You would be naïve to think so.  But, if you embrace this Catechism, come dance with it, Trans will be given all they need to be safe. The Catechism will make Trans happy.

It’s a great story, just not for the rest of us. Here’s how the other half of the story is unfolding… Continue reading

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