Tag Archives: Guest contributors

The Detrimental Effect of Cell Phones in Public Schools

by Robert L. Maronic

I read a sad commentary three days ago entitled, “At This School, the Cellphones Rule,” written by James A. Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion in Richmond. His commentary, which conceals both the name of the teacher and “high-poverty high school,” truly has to be read in order to be believed, but as a former high school Latin teacher, I don’t find it surprising. In my opinion, it should be required reading for all education students, especially their all-knowing, ivory-tower professors, in both the Commonwealth of Virginia and other forty-nine states. That also includes Governor Glenn Youngkin.

I first observed this serious problem of the highly addictive nature of cell phones, which some have likened to either nicotine or heroin, among high school students while teaching myself and listening to the frequent complaints of other teachers beginning in 2009 in Roanoke City Public Schools. I later learned that Roanoke County Public Schools were often not much better, depending on the high school. Now this problem has become truly dystopian in most major urban and “inner city” school districts throughout Virginia. Continue reading

A Virginia-Centric History of the Honor System

The modern honor system took form under the leadership of Robert E. Lee at Washington & Lee University.

This essay about the evolution of the honor system at Washington & Lee University was published by The General’s Redoubt and is republished here with permission. — JAB

by M. Neely Young

Honor systems in higher education are difficult to trace as they are usually unwritten and based upon tradition. The concept of honor, itself, is difficult to define as it is organic and implicit and changes over time. A working definition of honor is the idea or ideal of a bond between an individual and society as a quality of a person that is both of social teaching and personal ethos and that manifests itself as a code of conduct. Originally, honor was practiced only by certain groups or classes of individuals within society, but over the last few hundred years, honor has become more democratic and egalitarian in the West and in the United States and today anyone can behave in an honorable manner.

Almost all societies have some concept of honor. In Japan, the Bushido Code or code of the Samurai developed, and in China the Confucian system promoted the idea of the chun-tzu or gentleman who practiced moral rectitude and proper behavior. In the west, the concept can be traced to the ancient Middle East. It then flowed through Greece and Rome to Medieval Europe. In the Middle Ages, honor was associated with the chivalric code and was associated only with the warrior class and the nobility. Christianity came to have a moderating influence on the warlike concept of chivalry by calling for protection of the weak, the promotion of peace, and the “just war.” Beginning in the Renaissance, particularly in England, honor came to be associated with the rising gentry class who aspired to the rank and marks of nobility. They practiced gentility which gave rise to the term “gentleman.” Gentility became synonymous with dignity or integrity, and this ideal was transferred to the new colonies in America. Continue reading

Youngkin Signs Donor-Privacy Bill

In recent years, “cancel culture” has targeted many individuals, businesses, and organizations with the intention of silencing them into submission. In one tactic, political activists target or hack donor lists of groups they disagree with and publicly shame or intimidate donors and/or their businesses who expected that their gifts would be kept private. For example, some donors to the Canadian truckers’ Freedom Convoy had their gifts made public, and the givers were subjected to public shaming, in some cases costing them their reputations and livelihoods.

To remedy this, the General Assembly passed HB 970 and Governor Glenn Youngkin signed it April 11.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Zack Pruitt had this to say about the signing Monday of HB 970, a bill that protects the private information of individuals who support charities and other nonprofit organizations of their choice: Continue reading

Key Victories for Virginians in 2022 Legislative Session, But Work Remains

by JC Hernandez 

This past legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly set the stage to unleash opportunities for all Virginians by passing several key measures.

One of the most significant victories came in the form of a “regulatory sandbox” for health care authorized in the new budget. In simple terms, this sandbox creates space for regulators to temporarily freeze regulations and penalties. The process paves the way for private companies to develop or introduce innovative products and services in the health care arena where regulations may otherwise make that impossible. The result: better care at lower cost.

Remember that federal, state, and local governments waived over 800 regulations in the name of combating the COVID-19 pandemic and the sky didn’t fall. In fact, consumers are better off as a result, which makes you wonder why these regulations were in place to begin with. This was abundantly clear in the health care sector, where telehealth was employed to great success in areas that badly needed it.

Regulatory sandboxes are a relatively new concept. They were first introduced in the U.S. in Arizona in 2018, and since then 10 states have adopted some form of them — in the fintech, insurance, and legal realms in addition to health care. We are pleased that Virginia will now join the growing number of states to break down barriers to innovations that help people flourish and thrive. Continue reading

Commanders, Punt the Name and Try Again

By Tom Blau

For almost a century the local pro football team has been the Washington Redskins. When the Redskins name became politically incorrect, the team temporarily became “The Washington Football Team” (WFT). Two years later, the WFT is “The Commanders.”

Few Washingtonians like the new name. Competing cities think it looks good – on us.

Sports teams, highways, and buildings inspire naming and re-naming by combining politics, money and ego. Political correctness has added controversy, and fan emotion has added intensity.

Public naming presents politicians with an opportunity to signal their virtue. Private political entrepreneurs guilt-trip donors into donating more to the entrepreneurial cause. (Think of how the co-founder of Black Lives Matter parlayed her cred with the woke crowd into a portfolio of upscale homes.) Office holders, perhaps bored by housing, roads, health care, education, and law enforcement, welcome the distraction. Continue reading

Richmond’s Reaganesque Time for Choosing

Chris Braunlich

by Chris Braunlich

Richmond, like Washington, has always been a place where an “insider’s game” is played – not in a pejorative sense, but simply as the way things are done.

Relationships are paramount, people speak in the arcane language of lawmaking, agendas are confusing for outsiders, and the activities of a subcommittee for an obscure commission are followed in detail because those in the know understand that what happens there will end up as a new regulation. Continue reading

Key Data on Dominion Wind Project Still Secret

Cover page blocking public access to the engineering and cost details for Dominion’s proposed $10 billion plus Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.

By David Wojick

A previous article published by Bacon’s Rebellion and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow challenged the notion that Dominion Energy Virginia can build a huge amount of wind and solar generating capacity and retire all of its fossil-fueled generators with almost none of the enormous storage capacity that is required to make the renewables viable.

This proposed long-term plan does not work and Dominion knows that, but in the short run it can make billions in profit by building the unreliable wind and solar. The disastrous unreliability shows up only in the long run.   Continue reading

Remembering Til Hazel

Photo credit: Virginia Law Foundation

by Ken Reid

Northern Virginia is the object of admiration and contempt, in Republican circles, and even among some liberals in economically stagnant Maryland and Washington, D.C.

In the last few years, Loudoun County, where I had a political career as a Republican, has gone “blue” as has Prince William and much of Fairfax counties.
Some conservatives lament the influx of liberals and also immigrants, notably from Asia and Latin America, though of late, Latinos seem to be voting more Republican.

But the counties and cities that make up “Northern Virginia” – Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and cities Alexandria, Fairfax, Manassas, etc. – are one of the most prosperous regions in the U.S. It is nearly recession-proof due to the largesse of the federal government, particularly defense and homeland security dollars (which we Republicans support, no?)

The success of NoVa is also due to business leaders who in the 1950s and 60s saw the area, particularly Fairfax County, as a potential economic engine. One of those was John Tilghman Hazel, known as “Til,” a Harvard-educated attorney and developer, who passed away March 15 at his farm in Fauquier County at the age of 91. Continue reading

A Disastrous Week for UVa

Open letter from Bert Ellis, president of The Jefferson Council, to members of the University of Virginia community.

Last week will go down as one of the worst weeks in the history of UVA.

The Honor Code is Effectively Dead

By a margin of over 4 to 1, UVA students voted in a referendum to permanently change the Honor System to eliminate expulsion as the sanction for an honor offense in favor of a two-semester leave of absence… the equivalent of a time out.

A 3rd year law student (who’s next stop on his path to save the world is to study global affairs at Beijing’s Tsinghau University) led this effort. In his view, the Honor System is inherently racist because more people of color or more international students are found guilty of honor offenses than their exact percentage of the UVA student population.

He argued, “we can no longer support a sanction that is historically allowed and could prospectively allow the most severe outcome to fall disproportionately on some communities more than others.” Continue reading

The Legislatures Strike Back: The Pandemic and Balances of Power

by David Toscano

In her recent SLogLaw post “Harrisburg COVID-19 Response Is No Model,” Meryl Chertoff provides a great explanation of Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic. Except for the use of a constitutional amendment pushed by Republicans in the Keystone state to constrain a Democratic governor, the dynamic is similar to what is occurring in most other states, even those where one party enjoys the so-called trifecta of controlling both bodies of the legislature and the governorship.

When asked about the proper federal response to the pandemic, President Trump remarked “I would leave it to the governors.” And, apart from Operation Warp Speed, that is what happened. State constitutions explicitly confer extensive powers upon governors to act in times of emergency, and they were not shy about using them.

Washington state Gov. Inslee was one of the first to seize the mantle of executive power by proclaiming a state of emergency on February 29, and the legislature said little. Republican governors DeWine of Ohio and Hogan of Maryland followed closely thereafter. In my state of Virginia, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, himself a physician, declared a state of emergency in March, 2020, just as the legislature was adjourning for the year, that remained in effect for 15 months. Continue reading

Still Time to Limit Governor’s Emergency Powers

by Barbara Hollingsworth

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Should the governor of Virginia have the power to unilaterally declare an open-ended state of emergency that indefinitely restricts Virginians’ civil and constitutional rights without a recorded vote by the General Assembly?

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns raised this serious question. But so far, nobody has answered it definitively. Continue reading

UVa Needs Facts and Reason, Not an Opinion Survey

by Charles L. Weber, Jr.

Recently Jim Bacon argued that the University of Virginia needs to conduct another Climate Survey to compare the results with the one conducted in 2018. He argued as follows:

The premise of the Ryan administration is that making African-Americans feel more welcome at UVa requires rooting out the racism endemic in the old system, and the only way to extirpate that racism is to make “anti-racism” (as defined by leftists) the university’s number-one, all-consuming preoccupation. If that premise is correct, then one would expect African-Americans to give higher scores in a survey given today.

But there is a different view: that the obsession with race feeds the sense of minority victimhood, grievance and alienation, and encourages minorities to be hyper-sensitive in their interactions with others. In this view, the predictable result is that Blacks will feel less welcome and experience less belonging — precisely the opposite of what President Ryan wants to achieve.

There is only one way to find out: conduct another survey.

It’s high time we find out whether the sweeping changes implemented by [President Jim] Ryan are having the desired effect.

Color me skeptical. Continue reading

Reliable Electricity Not Part of the Plan

The amount of storage will matter.

by David Wojick

I recently published a report on how Virginia’s big electric power utility, Dominion Energy Virginia, deliberately ignores the fact that the state’s zero emission law does not work. Utilities are doing this around the country. They will make a fortune building useless wind and solar generation before they finally admit it does not work and have to revive the abolished “power generated when needed.”

VCEA is the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which foolishly mandates zero emissions from electric power generation by 2045. Below is the executive summary of my analysis on Dominion’s VCEA compliance plan, building on the engineering realities I outlined previously.

“Reliability means designing for the likely worst case. With conventional generation this means supplying peak need, also called peak demand. When counting on solar or wind there is also the critical issue of minimum supply backed up by storage. The reliability analysis reported here looks at minimum supply with battery storage under VCEA, in two separate steps. Continue reading

GMU Re-Koched

Republished with permission from VoxFairfax.com.

There are several cognitive cautions that may sensitize a reader’s appreciation of important information. Among these is the elegant French caution that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Another is the guide that instructs the reader on the behaviors of public figures to “watch what they do, not what they say.” VoxFairfax, on several occasions, has favored Rule #37 from the TV series NCIS, where investigative instincts are cautioned that “there are no coincidences.”

In a swift set of moves, Virginia’s new attorney general terminated the employment of two institutional lawyers in the state’s higher education system. One at George Mason University (GMU) served there for two decades. And that action is the moment when the bell of all three cautions rang.

The GMU vacancy was quickly filled by an experienced attorney from the institution’s legal staff. The individual is the spouse of a well-connected GOP fundraiser who also served as an executive with Koch organizations, a longtime and highly criticized donor to GMU. The Koch companies contributed $50,000 to Youngkin’s inauguration and $10,000 to his campaign.

“There are no coincidences.” Continue reading

Poll: Bipartisan Support for Scholarship Tax Break

by Chris Braunlich

The following was issued today by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy as a news release:

As National School Choice Week 2022 concludes, the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy today released results of a polling question demonstrating the overwhelming popularity of Virginia’s sole education choice program. Support is particularly strong in the state’s Black community. Continue reading