Tag Archives: Guest contributors

On the Unlawful Nature of ‘Equity’ in Virginia

by David Gordon

The Democrats wanted a fight over Critical Race Theory (CRT). The Virginia Project and our friends gave them the fight they were begging for — and spanked them so hard they’ll never forget it. When the facts were made known, the public was overwhelmingly against it, across every demographic. Fighting CRT was a clear winner and Virginia’s Republicans rode the issue to success across the state.

However, CRT is merely the root of a much broader structure, one that includes other concepts such as “equity, diversity and inclusion” and “antiracism.” While CRT itself has been purged, with leftist schools and school boards rushing to scrub it from their materials lest they get caught and become the next schools scandal, its products remain deeply embedded — not just in the schools, but all across the state, implemented at the local level.

Critical Race Theory is dead. It’s now time to kill off its hyper-racialist demon spawn, starting with “Equity.”

“Equity” is the new “Critical Race Theory,” and the war to defeat it is rapidly entering into full swing. Continue reading

Wojick On Whales IV: Deaths Spiked with Surveys

A Humpback carcass that washed up in New Jersey recently. Photo: Marine Mammal Stranding Center

By David Wojick

The recent deaths of seven whales off New Jersey, mostly humpbacks, drew national media attention. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Directorate is responsible for whales. An outrageous statement by their spokesperson got me to do some research on humpback whale deaths.

The results are appalling. The evidence seems clear that offshore wind development is killing whales by the hundreds.

Here is the statement as reported in the press:

“NOAA said it has been studying what it calls ‘unusual mortality events’ involving 174 humpback whales along the East Coast since January 2016. Agency spokesperson Lauren Gaches said that period pre-dates offshore wind preparation activities in the region.” Gaches is NOAA Fisheries press chief.

The “unusual mortality” data are astounding. Basically, the humpback death rate roughly tripled starting in 2016 and continued high thereafter. You can see it here.  That data is just for humpback whales, with a dramatic acceleration in particular between 2016 and 2020. Continue reading

Youngkin’s Housing Start

by Adam A. Millsap

U.S. housing prices have risen 10 percent since last September and 41 percent since before the pandemic. Though prices have dipped slightly over the last three months, inflated costs remain a major problem. Policymakers around the country are trying to bring prices down, and a new proposal from Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin follows the right playbook but requires further elaboration.

America’s housing crisis is largely a supply problem. Data show that housing prices fell at an annualized rate of 1 percent in September, the third straight monthly decline. While this may seem like progress, the decline is largely driven by the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes. A higher benchmark interest rate leads to higher mortgage rates, which means monthly payments—another measure of affordability—remain elevated.

To make housing more affordable, policymakers must boost supply relative to demand, while holding everything else, including interest rates, constant. The press release announcing Youngkin’s Make Virginia Home plan acknowledges the supply problem, promising to “promote increasing the supply of attainable, affordable, and accessible housing across the Commonwealth.” That’s a worthy goal; achieving it is another matter.

Research shows that the primary culprits behind high state and local housing costs are restrictive zoning and land-use regulations that artificially limit the housing supply. Youngkin’s plan is short on details, but it explicitly mentions establishing guardrails for local zoning and land-use review processes. The state would impose deadlines to stop local governments from slow-rolling approvals; such delays impose big costs on developers and make otherwise attractive projects financially infeasible. Continue reading

JLARC Agrees: Index Virginia Taxes to Inflation

by Barbara Hollingsworth

Inflation is eroding the value of each dollar earned by Virginians, making it harder for them to afford decent housing, put food on the table and educate their children. But what many Virginians don’t know is that they have also been paying more in state income taxes while their real income has declined because the commonwealth’s tax code is not indexed to inflation.

A new report by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) points out that state income taxes in the commonwealth “have far outpaced median income, because income brackets have not been changed since 1990.”

Thanks to inflation, state income taxes owed by a median filer have increased 173% since 1990, while that same taxpayer’s actual income increased only 108%. Continue reading

A Jewish Perspective on Arlington’s Confederate Memorial

Photo credit: Cliff at flickr

The Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery has recommended the removal of the 32-foot-tall memorial to Confederate veterans buried there on the grounds that it is “riddled with racist iconography” and perpetuates the Lost Cause narrative. The following letter was sent today to the Committee. — JAB

On March 19, 1841, at the consecration of its new synagogue in Charleston, Rabbi Gustavus Poznanski of the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim congregation rose to speak to a throng of temple members and Charlestonians of many faiths who were invited to witness the important occasion. For centuries Jews all over the world had sought a return to the Promised Land, and generations of families had vowed as much at their annual Passover Sedar, “Next year in Jerusalem!” In a remarkable display of chutzpah, Rabbi Poznanski proclaimed, “…this synagogue is our temple, this city our Jerusalem, this happy land our Palestine.” The Jews had finally found a home.

In his book, American Jewry and the Civil War, Rabbi Bertram Korn, the recognized expert in the field, seems quite emphatic that during the antebellum period, Jews experienced a cultural and religious renaissance in the South that was unrivaled. Jews who lived in the region adopted the southern way of life with all its peculiarities, including slavery, because for the first time in modern history, they were treated with dignity and respect, and flourished culturally, politically, and economically on par with their Christian neighbors. Korn concluded, “Nowhere else in America–certainly not in the ante-bellum north—had Jews been accorded such an opportunity to be complete equals as in the old South.”

And while we condemn the evils of slavery then and now all over the world, we cannot pass judgement on our ancestors as viewed through the 21st century lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion. No previous generation of Americans can survive such scrutiny. Continue reading

Virginia Drops from A+ to C in Worker Freedom — Largest Decrease in the Country

Nao credit: Commonwealth Foundation “50 State Labor Report”

by F. Vincent Vernuccio

Virginia’s ranking fell more than any other state in the Commonwealth Foundation’s 50 State Labor Report “The Battle for Worker Freedom in the States: Grading State Labor Laws.”

Virginia plunged from an “A+” ranking in 2019 to a dismal “C” this year. This was due to what the report called “[t]he most dramatic government union victory of the post-Janus legal frontier” – Janus being the 2018 Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME declaring everything government unions do is political, and public employees have a First Amendment right not to subsidize this political activity. It essentially brought right-to-work provisions to public employees across the country.

As the report noted “Three states experienced major grade changes since our 2019 report. Virginia dropped from “A+” to “C” for instituting collective bargaining, while Arkansas jumped from “C” to “A+” for banning it. Missouri’s comprehensive labor reforms were officially struck down, moving the state back down from “B” to “C.” Continue reading

Youngkin Champions Licensing Reforms, Loosens Regulatory Barriers

by Eric Burk

The Virginia Board of Social Work has changed licensing regulations, making it easier for social workers licensed in other states to get licensed in Virginia.

There is a critical shortage in Virginia of mental health professionals, and this is a significant step by the Board of Social Work to help address this shortage,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Wednesday press release. “A priority of my administration is to reduce state regulations and regulatory barriers, and this action shows how regulations can be streamlined to remove barriers to practice with the goal of bringing more mental health professionals to the Commonwealth.” Continue reading

The Robert E. Lee of Appomattox

by Kenneth G. Everett

Adversity is the first path to truth.
Lord Byron, DON JUAN, Canto XII, Stanza 50

Few things in life reveal more clearly the true character of a man than his response to the circumstances of defeat and failure. The deepest impulses of the soul emerge when cherished hopes collapse and undertakings of much labor, sacrifice, and suffering end in ruin. All of this we see in Robert E. Lee at his surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox in April of 1865.

Given the severely reduced and depleted state of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia by April 1865, and short of the useless sacrifice of this remnant of faithful veterans in a defiant last stand against Grant, Lee saw no option but that of surrendering the army. This exigency of circumstances, however, did not put Lee under the necessity of making peace.

On the eve of Lee’s meeting with Grant at the McLean house near Farmville, Virginia, Gen. E. Porter Alexander, Lee’s Chief of Artillery and one of his most gifted officers, passionately implored him to order the army to “scatter in the woods & bushes & either to rally upon Gen. Johnston in North Carolina, or to make their way, each man to his own state, with arms, & to support his governor,” rather than to surrender, arguing to Lee that “the men that have fought under you for four years have got the right to ask you to spare us the mortification of having you ask Grant for terms. . . .” Continue reading

Addressing the Spiral Effect in Learning Loss

by Dr. Kathleen Smith

During the COVID-19 pandemic educators did what they had to do in a short amount of time (five months in the case of Virginia) with little resources (extra funding came long after September of 2020) to keep kids learning through the 2020-2021 school year. A wholesale shift to remote and hybrid learning had never been tried before. Perhaps the challenge could have been handled better, but educators did the best they could under trying circumstances.

Rather than panic over the gap between the pre- and post-pandemic Standards of Learning pass rates, educators should focus now on catching up. The good news is that they know what they need to do, and they have many resources to get the job done.

Here is the bad news: teachers have only a finite amount of time to sequence what needs to be taught, and the scope of recouping lost learning is more than can be accomplished in one school year. Their job is made more challenging by the phenomenon of “spiraling” — in which a student must master one skill level before moving on to the next.

For example, in mathematics, the student first learns simple multiplication and then moves on to more complex multiplication. Continue reading

Dominion is Keeping Whale Data Secret, Too

Click for expanded view. Source: NOAA

by David Wojick

Secrecy abounds around the monster offshore wind (OSW) project proposed by Dominion Energy. In this case the hidden data is about the threat to the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whales.

I earlier reported on the big hidden whale study done by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is doing the Environment Impact Assessment for this huge project.

Digging into Dominion’s filing with BOEM I found something even worse. Dominion has done an actual threat assessment, but it is 100% secret! This is outrageous.

Here is a bit of background so folks can dig for themselves. There is a lot to look at. BOEM has a separate website on this monster OSW project, which would be one of the world’s largest. The project is titled Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind or CVOW. Dominion has submitted a large set of documents in what is called the Construction and Operations Plan or simply the COP. The COP is here.

There is a long main report plus 32 technical appendices. My endangered whale interest was immediately drawn to “Appendix R: Threatened and Endangered Species Review.” It is here, and the title indicates it reports on any and all species on those lists for protection. Continue reading

Next Virginia Tax Reform: Index for Inflation

by Barbara Hollingsworth

Most Virginians are painfully aware ­­­­that it’s becoming much more difficult to make ends meet. Prices for fo­­­­od, housing, gasoline and other necessities have soared. Inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June, the largest yearly increase since January 1982. And a recent study from the University of Iowa found that a typical American had to pay $669 more for basic living expenses than they did just two years ago.

All while the Commonwealth of Virginia was pocketing $2 billion in “surplus” revenue that was not anticipated and therefore not included in the two-year $165 billion state budget the General Assembly passed earlier this year. Most of that windfall was the result of the Federal Reserve’s monetary inflation, which made the prices of consumer staples soar because there were suddenly a lot more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services.

But inflation had another unwelcome effect. It also pushed Virginia taxpayers into higher tax brackets despite the fact that their actual living standards went down, not up.

Governor Glenn Youngkin wants to set aside $400 million for tax relief in his revised budget, which he will present to the state legislature in December. But that’s less than a quarter of the total surplus. The budget signed by Youngkin also includes $450 million to pay for potential cost overruns on the commonwealth’s capital projects due to … you guessed it …. inflation. Continue reading

School Board Races: The Next Best Hope for Our Children

by Craig DiSesa and Nancy Smith

“I’m just gonna have to step in. You need to stop saying, as a Board member, we are giving pornography to minors. … It does not happen!”

That was the reaction of Virginia Beach City Public Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence to School Board member Vicky Manning’s assertion that there are pornographic books in the Virginia Beach City school libraries. She was referring to books such as Gender Queer and Lawn Boy, which have illustrations that depict sexual acts between two individuals.

Superintendent Spence was quibbling over the definitions of pornography and sexually explicit material. The difference between the two phrases is such a fine line that it doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have seen any of these books, you will see they contain illustrations that are inappropriate for developing minds and will create tremendous confusion among adolescents and pre-adolescents.

Even more disturbing is that introducing this type of material to children is often a technique used by people who want to groom children. Essentially, schools are giving predators a gateway to sexually and physically abusing our children. Continue reading

Division Ends Today at the Virginia Military Institute

by The Cadet Editorial Staff

To the families of matriculants:

This is a difficult day for you. As you leave your daughters and sons to face the struggles and challenges that they are about to meet, take heart in the fact that you, too, are about to become a part of the VMI family. Today your sons and daughters leave you and you will have little contact with them in the coming weeks. For those of you out of state, as I am, it will be difficult to come and visit. But you can lean on the other parents for support. You cannot imagine now all the ways this community will aid you in your time of need, nor can you estimate how you might be able to give a helping hand. You will soon be glued to a computer scouring photos for tell-tale signs of your child. This is the greatest community of alumni and parents in the country, and we welcome you to it.

To the Matriculants of the Rat-Mass of 2023+3:

You will now embark on your journey to earn the right to call yourselves VMI Cadets. There is one single and all-important theme that must resonate with every one of you given the divisiveness we see in America today and the investigations, media scrutiny and other trials we have endured at VMI – and in some cases still endure.

You are all now here on Post. You have come from all over the country and from around the world. You have come from various economic backgrounds and from different levels of education. Before today, you have had every reason to be divided.

That ends today. Continue reading

Solar Development Continues to Erode VA Farmland

by Barbara Hollingsworth

First published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Virginia lost about 2,000 acres of productive farmland per week in 2021, according to data released in February by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are many reasons why farmers sell off their land, including development pressures, lack of interest by younger members of farming families, and the difficulties of turning a profit in the face of ever-changing market and weather conditions.

But there is now a new threat to Virginia’s agricultural base, which has a $70 billion economic impact on the commonwealth annually, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau. Continue reading

Wojick on Whales II: Missing BOEM Report?

by David Wojick

In my previous article I raised this question: what is the potential adverse impact of Virginia’s massive offshore wind project on the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whales? Answering this basic question should be a central feature of the upcoming Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) required for the wind project by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

The 70-ton North Atlantic Right Whales migrate through Virginia’s offshore waters twice a year, making the impact of these proposed huge offshore wind projects a serious question. I have been doing some digging, and the results are puzzling. We may have some secret science going on.

To begin with, while there has been a lot of research on these whales, it has almost all been done in their northern and southern habitat zones. There is almost nothing on migration, even though migration is especially dangerous for any critters that do it, whales included.

So, it is not clear that we even have a clear picture of how they migrate through the waters where these massive wind projects are proposed. A lot of the risk depends on how they migrate, and we seem not to know much about that.

I say we “seem not to know” because someone in the federal government may actually know more than they are prepared to divulge. This is where it gets puzzling, as follows. Continue reading