Author Archives: Peter Galuszka

Private Sector Screws Up Vaccine Dispersal

By Peter Galuszka

For more than a year, there has been a stream of criticism of government handling of the COVID vaccine.

On this blog, there has been a relentless pounding of Gov. Ralph Northam for his role in trying to navigate the pandemic that has so far killed more than 500,000 Americans. This is a far greater number than all of U.S. troops killed in World War II.

Now, two members of Congress, both moderate Democrats, are raising questions about the current system of providing vaccines. The private sector has a lot to answer for.

According to U.S. Rep. Abigail D. Spanberger (7th District) and Rep. Elaine G. Luria (2nd District), the current system is confusing, as large pharmacy companies CVS and Walgreen try to handle giving people protective shots.

Of special note is their concern that the current system favors the rich over the poor. In their letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers fort Disease Control and Protection, they wrote:

“Unfortunately, the complicated array of programs has caused significant confusion and frustration for public health officials and the general public. The varied eligibility requirements and appointment-making procedures favor the technologically savvy and well-resourced who can navigate the different systems. Retail pharmacy partners have been reluctant to coordinate their outreach and appointments with state public health officials’ priorities, meaning vulnerable individuals patiently waiting their turn according to health department guidelines could be passed over.’

Continue reading

WaPo Nabs Polk Award, Is Pulitzer Next?

Ian Shapira

By Peter Galuszka

How ironical.

Our esteemed Jim Bacon has been on a tear in recent months writing about media coverage of the problem of systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute.

Of special interest to Jim is the reporting of Ian Shapira, a Washington Post reporter who has been digging into the VMI. After his stories were published, the superintendent of VMI retired and an inquiry was launched.

Jim doesn’t like what the Post and Shapira have done. Some of Jim’s headlines go right to the jugular including “VMI Update: The WaPo Makes Another Sleazy Insinuation” and  “WaPo Ratchets Up Assault on VMI.”

At one point, Jim made this observation: “Polish up that Pulitzer. It looks like The Washington Post is vying again for the big prize in journalism”

Well, guess what happened? Shapira and the Post have won a George Polk award for their VMI coverage. The citation reads thusly: Continue reading

Buy Bacon’s Book

By Peter Galuszka

This is a shameless advertisement. Jim has written an excellent book and you should buy it and review it.

While some of Jim’s focus is at odds with a similar book I wrote eight years ago, “Maverick Miner” is a really well put together effort at research and writing.

In my reporting, I asked many people, mostly miners, what they thought about E. Morgan Massey. The response: tough on unions but good guy. I heard this over and over. I was told that if rank and file miners had a serious problem, they could call Morgan and he’d come to the mountains to work things out. I heard this a lot and it gives credence to Jim’s book.

You should buy the book, read it, and like it or not, post something on Amazon. Here’s something I did:

“In this book, Jim Bacon, a Richmond journalist, tells a fascinating story about 94-year-old E. Morgan Massey, the former head of coal company that would become highly controversial. Massey paid Bacon to write a private narrative about the Massey family and agreed to let Bacon write his own unabridged account. Taken as a biography and while understanding that this is from Massey’s viewpoint, the result works very well. Massey explains why he hired Donald L. Blankenship, who achieved remarkable notoriety as the boss of Massey Energy, a company spinoff. He ended up in federal prison. The book underestimates the human and environmental cost of coal mining in the Central Appalachians. It also takes Massey’s side in dissecting what caused the April 5, 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners – the worst such U.S. coal disaster in 40 years. Even so, Bacon’s access to internal sources and records is a welcome contribution to understanding a great story.

Peter Galuszka is author of “Thunder on the Mountain: Death At Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2012)

What Texas’s Crisis Means for Virginia

by Peter Galuszka

The Texas freeze and ensuing energy disaster has clear lessons for Virginia as it sorts out its energy future.

Yet much of the media coverage in Virginia and certainly on Bacon’s Rebellion conveniently leaves out pertinent observations.

The statewide freeze in Texas completely fouled up the entire energy infrastructure as natural gas pipelines and oil wells stopped working, coal at generating plants iced over and wind turbines stopped working.

Making matters much worse, Texas opted not to have power links with other states. Its “free market” system of purchasing power meant utilities skimped on maintenance and adding weather-relative preventive measures such as making sure key generation components were weatherproof.

The result? Scores dead and millions without electricity. Here are more points worth considering in Virginia:

Climate Change is For Real

It is a shame that so much comment in Bacon’s Rebellion is propaganda from people who are or were paid, either directly or indirectly, by the fossil fuel industry. Thus, the blog diminishes the importance of dealing with climate change in a progressive way.  Continue reading

Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Virginia Coal Exports??

Norfolk Southern’s coal loading terminal at Lambert’s Point in Norfolk

By Peter Galuszka

Oilprice.com, a petroleum trade newsletter, has a story that could spell more bad news for the faltering Virginia coal industry.

For many years, the most valuable product from Virginia’s coal fields was coking or metallurgical coal that is exported to other countries for use in steel making.

China has been a crucial buyer of Virginia coal but recent pronouncements from the Communist Party leadership indicate that coal is on its way out after leader Xi Jinping outlined a far-reaching program that set a peak of carbon emissions in 2030 followed by net zero policy by 2060.

Correspondingly, steel companies are also setting net zero carbon goals including the world’s biggest steel makers ArcelorMittal of Europe, Baowu Steel of China and Nippon Steel of Japan.

The moves could erase Virginia’s coal experts because the demand for the steam coal used to generate electricity has already been undercut by the remarkable growth of renewable energy sources like solar and wind in China and India. As they expand, their costs go down – below those of coal.

Coking coal exports from Hampton Roads could get slammed as global steelmakers experiment with new manufacturing processes. Continue reading

The Mythology of Robert E. Lee

By Peter Galuszka

With excellent timing, the former head of the history department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has come out with a book about the mythology of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and much of the White “Southern” culture.

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Ty Seidule, a former paratrooper, has deep Virginia roots and his analysis goes right to the heart of the problems plaguing Virginia, Civil War memorabilia, Richmond, Charlottesville, the Virginia Military Institute and more.

He grew up in Alexandria and had ties to the Episcopal prep school where he expanded his desire to be a “Southern” gentleman while worshipping the likes of Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Here’s a link to my review of his book in Richmond’s Style Weekly. The Post also reviewed the book this past Sunday.

Bye For Now

By Peter Galuszka

I am delighted that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now in office.

Here is a brilliant poem from a 22-year-old Black woman from West LA.

You won’t be hearing from me for a while.

Best Regards

Peter Galuszka

Northam’s Good Move: End Executions

The Martinsville Seven

By Peter Galuszka

Governor Ralph Northam will propose legislation to ban executions in the state. The move could end decades of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

“I’ve strongly about this for a long time,” he was quoted as saying. The bill will be taken up by the General Assembly, which met in its 2021 session today.

If the bill passes, it would make Virginia the only Southern state to ban executions.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, 113 executions have been conducted in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. Virginia’s vigorous efforts to kill those convicted of capital crimes gave it the dishonorable distinction of being No. 2 in the country after Texas which had 570 executions in that time frame.

Historically, African Americans have been executed at rates that exceed their numbers in the general population. Continue reading

You Were Warned

By Peter Galuszka

Here are some posts over the past year warning of what happened Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/is-a-mighty-storm-coming/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-new-face-of-virginias-gop/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-plot-to-nab-northam/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-very-real-threat-of-boogaloo/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-real-danger-with-antifa/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/notes-from-the-right-wing-echo-chamber/

One other note: One Trump rioter was photographed holding a bunch of white flex cuff handcuffs, presumably to restrain Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence and others. It reminded me of the 1991 coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev. Plotters ordered hundreds of thousands of handcuffs in advance.

A New Fad: Bashing Offshore Wind Turbines

By Peter Galuszka

 Offshore wind power is becoming a whipping boy even as the technology involved becomes more advanced and its costs go down.

Northwestern Europe is offshore wind headquarters globally and countries such as the United Kingdom have wholeheartedly embraced it.

Yet some critics, some of whom are supported financially by the fossil fuel industry, refuse to accept its growth and see its potential. They insist on keeping fossil fuel generating stations going that contribute to dangerous climate change. They also back nuclear plants that have a high capacity factor.

The problem is that any generating station can go offline for any number of reasons. Considering nukes, there are a few points to be made. Consider this from Power magazine:

“North Anna Power Station’s 1,865-MW twin pressurized water reactors were at full power when the quake struck on August 23, 2011, at 1:51 p.m. The quake’s epicenter was 11 miles southwest of the station in Mineral, Va. Both of the station’s units shut down immediately, automatically, and safely. As a result of the earthquake, the plant lost off-site power from the switchyard, but back-up power from diesel generators picked up the load within 8 seconds, as designed. The station returned to off-site power later that evening.” Continue reading

Critical Lizard Theory Sweeps Nation

By Peter Galuszka

Bacon’s Rebellion has been filled with many thumbsuckers about how “Critical Race Theory” is an existential threat to Western Civilization.

But now there is a new theory of concern that makes the racial considerations seem, well, so 2020.

It is called “Critical Lizard Theory” and it actually exists.

According to NBC News, investigators are probing possible links between Nashville suicide bomber Anthony Quinn Warner and the conspiracy idea that many prominent people in the world such as Queen Elizabeth, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Madonna, Paul McCartney and even Bob Hope are or were lizard-like aliens who arrived on Earth and assumed human characteristics.

There seems to be evidence that Warner made trips to an undisclosed spot in Tennessee to check into aliens, NBC reports. Warner is believed to have constructed a bomb at his suburban Nashville home and placed it in a recreational vehicle before setting it off in the city’s downtown. Continue reading

Media Bashing at Bacon’s Rebellion

by Peter Galuszka

Two recent blog posts critical of The Washington Post and The New York Times are way out of line.

They assume that two leading newspapers have a definite agenda on race.

Jim Bacon goes after the Post for reporting about the bad experiences a Black student, Rafael Jenkins, endured during  ‘”Rat Week” hazing at the Virginia Military Institute.

When Jenkins was reluctant to recite the names of 10 VMI graduates who died while fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, a senior cadet screamed at him that he’d be lynched and his body would be used as a punching bag.

Jenkins, who had been suspected of cheating during his ACT entry exam, was accused of cheating on a test at VMI. He was convicted of what seems largely circumstantial evidence and left the school. The Post piece lays this all out.

Is this a story? Of course it is. Black alumni have made vigorous calls to investigate systemic racism at the state-supported school. The president has resigned. Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered a probe of what is going on.

This blog skirts these issues by claiming there is no racism and not questioning why Virginia taxpayers are footing the bill for such behavior. Why pay for such ridiculous hazing? If the state wants a Parris Island, then erect one. It is so odd that conservative VMI gets a pass while the more liberal University of Virginia is the devil incarnate. Continue reading

The New Face of Virginia’s GOP

Amanda Chase. Credit: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

By Peter Galuszka

If ever one photo best describes what 2020 was like in Virginia, this shot, by the brilliant veteran photographer Scott Elmquist at Style Weekly, shows it.

The photo is of state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, at a July 4 rally at the capitol. Her defiant expression, the assault-style rifle and the over-the-top elephant skirt tell you what has become of the Virginia Republican Party, which hasn’t won a statewide public office in about a decade.

Chase is a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, tough-talking show girl who is running for governor and backs the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of outgoing President Donald Trump. Chase is so extreme that her county GOP kicked her out.

Republicans were still so frightened of her that they decided to hold conventions and not a primary to decide between her and Kirk Cox, a more moderate politician and perhaps anyone else who runs. Now Chase has announced she will run as a Republican. Doing so gives her a leg up. Continue reading

The Virginia City Boondoggle

The Virginia City hybrid energy center. Credit: David Hoffman, Flickr

By Peter Galuszka

Back in 2007, Dominion Energy was touting its new hybrid generating plant near St. Paul in Southwest Virginia as the wave of the future because it would burn coal and wood using advanced fluidized bed technologies.

But for eight months this year, the 624-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center operated at only 20% and has never reached more than 65% capacity since going online in 2012.

Now, the utility must face the fact that it may close the plant, according to a new report by the non-profit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Dominion has said it intends to keep the plant open.

If it closes, it would affect 153 full-time jobs and 400 additional ones. Localities would lose from $6 million to $8.5 million in taxes.

The Institute undertook its research at the request of Appalachian Voices, an environmental group. It is based on testimony provided to the State Corporation Commission by Atty. Gen. Mark Herring that ratepayers would have to shell out $472 million more than the plant is worth over the next 10 years. Continue reading

WTJU Podcast on State’s Economy

By Peter Galuszka

This may be familiar turf for some readers, but here is a podcast I worked on with WTJU, the radio station of the University of Virginia. It gives a larger overview of the changes that data centers are making in the state’s economy and what that might mean in the future.

This elaborates on a Style Weekly story I posted here a few weeks ago.

Early this year, WTJU started preparing a series of podcasts under the “Bold Dominion” banner that explores how politics, economics and culture are changing in the Old Dominion. I think they have had 25 episodes up until now and I have participated in some of them. I also do a weekly Q&A on state politics.

Here’s the most recent podcast:

https://bolddominion.org/episodes/what-does-a-burgeoning-tech-industry-mean-for-virginia