Bacon Meme of the Week

Greetings from Sedona, Arizona. Not only is Sedona one of the most spectacular spots on the planet, inhabitants display a healthy reverence for wild pigs, or javelina, as seen in its statuary. –JAB

Riley Gaines: Role Model

by Kerry Dougherty 

We live in a world hungry for role models for our young children. Especially girls.

I met one yesterday.

Twenty-four year old Riley Gaines. Champion athlete and accidental feminist. Poised, proud and witty. Listen to her speak for an hour and you’ll be convinced this smart and attractive  dynamo can accomplish almost anything.

The White House someday? I wouldn’t be surprised.

You’ve heard of her, no doubt. She was the swimmer from the University of Kentucky who tied Lia Thomas, a 6’4” transgender competitor, for fifth place in the NCAA Women’s Championship 200-meter free style in 2022.

Even though they finished at the exact same time, event officials made sure it was the man in a tank suit who held the trophy aloft.

“Sorry, Riley. There’s only one trophy and we need Lia to hold it for the photos,” she was told as they presented the hardware for the fastest women’s collegiate swimmer to a man.

It seems that moment was her awakening. Continue reading

Off the Interstate: “God’s Thumbprint”

Burke’s Garden,   Photo credit: Va. Dept. of Historic Resources

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I first encountered Burke’s Garden many years ago the first time I drove to Southwest Virginia.  I was enchanted with it and visit it every time I go to Southwest Virginia.  The latest visit was late last month when I was on the way back to Richmond from visiting my grandson in college in Kentucky.

I don’t remember how I found out about Burke’s Garden.  I certainly did not stumble upon it.  One does not stumble across Burke’s Garden.  One has to be looking for it.

To get there, you take a local road south from the town of Tazewell.  That road will lead up a mountain with the usual S-curves and hairpin turns.  Upon coming down the other side of the mountain, you will be in a large, fertile, green valley completely surrounded by mountains.  The road you came in on is the only paved way out.  (There is a forest service road at the other end of the valley but whether it is passable varies.  Some descriptions of it advise those attempting to travel it have a chain saw handy.)

Radford University geologists explain that the area was once a large dome comprised of shale and limestone capped by harder sandstone. As the forces of erosion cut through the sandstone, the softer rock beneath it eroded more quickly, forming the valley floor with hard sandstone forming the ridges around the edge of the valley. Continue reading

No, Virginia Beach Did NOT Cut Taxes

by Kerry Dougherty 

I don’t normally link to Virginian-Pilot stories. Today is an exception.

Find the fiction in this one: “Virginia Beach Adopts $2.6 Billion Budget, Cutting Taxes and Increasing City Worker Pay.”

Once again, the press joins the city in spreading a fantasy. This time it’s that when the city council lowered the property tax rate from .99 per $100 of assessed value to .97, our magnanimous elected officials “cut” taxes.

I’m calling BS on that.

As John Moss pointed out in his clear-eyed analysis of the budget here yesterday, to actually keep taxes about the same for most Beach residents – given the sharp rise in assessments this year – the city should have lowered the rate to .92. Continue reading

Greasing the Skids for the Budget

Oxen hauling logs over greased skids Photo courtesy of Museum at Campbell River

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Virginia General Assembly can be efficient when it puts its mind to it.

Consider the 2024 Special Session that convened on Monday.  The House convened at noon and adjourned at 3:15. The Senate stayed around a little bit longer.  It convened at noon and adjourned at 3:51.  (Technically, both houses actually recessed, rather than adjourned, but that was done so they could come back into session later in the year if they so desire.)

During that period of a little over three hours, both houses accomplished the following: introduced guests in the galleries,  recessed so that their money committees could consider the budget bill, elected eight judges, passed a bunch of commending resolutions, and passed the budget bill.

Speaking of the budget bill, here is the legislative history of that most important piece of legislation:

Sat.  May 11

  • Prefiled
  • Referred to the House Appropriations Committee

Mon. May 13

  • Reported from House Appropriations Committee
  • Read first time
  • Constitutional readings dispensed
  • Passed by House  (94-6)
  • Constitutional reading dispensed by Senate
  • Referred to Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee
  • Reported from Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee
  • Read second time
  • Constitutional reading dispensed
  • Passed by Senate (39-1)
  • Enrolled
  • Signed by Speaker
  • Signed by President of the Senate
  • Signed by the Governor Continue reading

Fewer Children Seeking ER Treatment for Cannabis Ingestion

Cannabis-Related Pediatric Emergency Department Visits by Month. Source: Virginia Hospital Association

by James A. Bacon

The number of pediatric patients visiting hospital emergency rooms in cannabis-related incidents fell 21.5% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period the year before, a decline that some attribute to bipartisan legislation regulating the production, sale, and potency of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana-related products.

A Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association analysis shows that the volume of cannabis-related visits among pediatric patients had been trending higher over the past several years, peaking in late 2022 and early 2023 before dropping sharply in June 2023.

“This law was introduced to protect Virginia children and families from being harmed by ingesting unregulated, intoxicating products that can pose serious health risks,” said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, who sponsored the bill to regulate THC-infused products. “So, it is certainly welcome news to see that this policy change appears to be having a positive effect in terms of declining pediatric emergency department visits due to cannabis exposure.” Continue reading

Virginia Beach Budget Will Lower Your Standard of Living

When Councilman John Moss narrowly lost his seat on City Council in a 2022 three-way race, Virginia Beach lost the lone elected official who actually understood municipal budgeting. Moss could be counted on to make city budgeteers squirm as he peppered them with intelligent questions about why they continually funded vacant city jobs and then used the surplus as a slush fund for the pet projects of city cronies. Plus he ALWAYS pressured his colleagues — fruitlessly, as it turned out — to lower the annual real estate tax rate to give homeowners relief from soaring assessments.

John Moss, who was first elected to City Council in 1986, is running for mayor. We asked Mr. Moss for his input on the budget City Council will vote on tonight.

—Kerry Dougherty 

by John Moss 

No Beach family or resident who lives alone needs to be told they are losing control over their economic lives. We all know our purchasing power is in free fall.

Inflation benefits only tax collections.

There is one group in our community that is clearly detached from the economic reality that Beach residents — and all Americans — understand and experience each day.

That group is the Virginia Beach City Council. Continue reading

Frosted Fame in Chesterfield

by Jon Baliles 

The Chesterfield County weekly newsletter featured a great story last week about Bailey Sheetz, a 13-year old Chester resident who is now on a first-name basis with Jerry Seinfeld and Melissa McCarthy in Hollywood. Sheetz made his movie debut in Seinfeld’s new Netflix movie Unfrosted, the satirical comedy about the launch of what we now know and love as the Pop-Tart.

Sheetz walked the red carpet with the venerable comedian and has become noticed in Hollywood and has his own agent and an page. A few years ago, at the tender age of eight, CBS6’s Wayne Covil ran a story about Sheetz and his innate ability to fix old vacuum cleaners and his appreciation for anything antique. From that story, Sheetz was sought out and cast in the Season 4 premiere of Little Big Shots.

After his Little Big Shots appearance, Covid shut down the filming industry for a while but Sheetz got an agent and received a callback. He finally got a voiceover role in the Duck and Goose animated children’s series and then received a callback in early 2022 to audition for Unfrosted. He recorded his audition tape at home with his parents, Bryan and Nancy, both teachers in Chesterfield schools, reading with him and filming him. A month later, Bailey received an invitation for a Zoom callback that was conducted by Jerry Seinfeld himself. Continue reading

UVA Grad Students Urge Withholding of Year-End Grades

From UCWVA Instagram post

From UCWVA Instagram post

by James A. Bacon

The United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCWVA) at the University of Virginia has launched a campaign urging faculty and graduate students to withhold grades until the Ryan administration capitulates to its demands of amnesty for people arrested during the May 4 crackdown on the pro-Palestinian “liberation zone.”

“UVA exec admin stood by while state police cracked down on a peaceful gathering,” says the UVA chapter. “If you disagree with the repression of campus protest, join your colleagues in this immediate action to demand amnesty!”

The Jefferson Council has not yet been able to determine the degree to which the grade-repression movement has gained traction. However, UCWVA claims on Instagram that Provost Ian Baucom “is sending scared emails.”

“Punishing students by withholding their grades to pressure the Ryan administration is reckless, irresponsible, and grounds for immediate dismissal,” said Tom Neale, president of The Jefferson Council.

Neale urged students, faculty, and parents to notify him at if they know of any classes where semester grades are being withheld. Send him the names of professors and graduate students and the classes they teach. He will make sure the Administration and the Board of Visitors are made aware. Continue reading

Youngkin Kills Tax Hikes, Still Gets Record Budget

Governor Glenn Youngkin

By Steve Haner

After much political theater, the Virginia General Assembly and Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) have now compromised on a $188 billion state budget based simply on the revenue projected from current tax law, with neither tax hikes nor tax reductions. Making those revenue projections slightly more optimistic eased the path.  

With both sides backing off their desire to change the tax rules, it became clear there was less controversy over how to spend the state’s money in the new biennial budget from July 2024 to June 2026. The top shared priorities of legislators in both parties include education, public employee salaries and benefits, transportation, mental health services, and capital improvements. Medicaid is also a huge budget growth driver which the Assembly really does not control.     

The Democrats in the majority in both chambers will celebrate that the plan achieves the spending they included in the budget they passed in March. Youngkin will celebrate that it did so without either the sales tax or carbon tax provisions that budget included. His success looks even more impressive when you recall the two other major tax hikes Democrats approved and he vetoed this year, one to impose a massive payroll tax and the other to allow localities to hike the general sales tax.  

With a slight hint of sour grapes, a budget summary from the House Appropriations Committee opens with: “The adoption of the digital economy modernization was not driven by a systematic look at Virginia’s tax structure.” That is a euphemism for the expansion of the state’s sales tax to digital transactions, which just a few weeks ago was deemed by Democrats to be vital to the Commonwealth’s future. 

The idea is hardly dead. One provision in this final budget, which was not included in previous versions, directs a 12-member legislative study committee to revisit the digital tax. It is also directed to review “existing sales and use tax exemptions” and evaluate “efforts to increase the progressivity of the income tax.” The goal is a tax package with some actual consensus behind it to consider in 2025. Continue reading

Mother’s Day in Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty 

It all began in 2020. Our annual Mother’s Day escape.

Four years ago Ralph Northam’s reign of Covid despotism was underway and we were desperate to shake off the suffocating restrictions he imposed on a weekly basis. (The governor’s Thursday press conferences were a source of stress and dread for many of us.)

Confident that rural Virginians were as skeptical as we were of masks, social distancing and not gathering in groups larger than 10, our family snuck out of town, rented an Airbnb in Meadows of Dan, and celebrated Mother’s Day. Pre-pandemic style.

For four glorious days that first year, when the pandemic was in its infancy and the lunacy was cranking up, we were able to forget that society at large was losing its collective mind.

Thus began our annual Mother’s Day weekend trip to explore Virginia with those near and dear.

In 2021 we went to Onancock. Next year it was a river house in Gloucester. After that, a creek-side place in Madison.

This year we found ourselves in a sprawling log cabin on Lake Anna. Big enough for 11 of us – plus three dogs.

Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

Bacon Meme of the Week

The Crying Game

by James A. Bacon

After President Jim Ryan ordered a breakup of their liberation zone for Gaza a week ago in what one might call a “mostly peaceful” police action, encampment veterans are posturing as victims of “brutal” fascist state “violence” and “trauma.”

“I got brutalized by the police at a UNESCO World Heritage site,” reads one meme making the rounds.

“Welcome to the University of Virginia, where we encourage free speech and expression unless you’re protesting genocide, where we brutalize our students and mace our community members,” says an UVA Encampment for Gaza post on Instagram.

“I just want to acknowledge the trauma that I believe some of them [the protesters] felt in all this,” said a health-care provider participating in a two-hour “Honest Town Hall” organized by faculty members in response to Ryan’s earlier “town hall” presentation.

A student speaking at the counter-town hall spoke of “layers of violence” at UVA stretching back to the displacement of the native peoples and days of slavery. “The University is unique in the kind of violence that it has … endorsed and propagated.”

“Every time I go to Grounds,” the student continued, “I actually am physically ill when I’m near the Range. I feel like I’m surrounded by the ghosts of slaves … and also the recollection of seeing police brutalize my friends.”

Time out, snowflakes! Are you ready for some hard truth? You don’t have the faintest idea of what it’s like to be brutalized or to experience trauma. You belong to the most coddled, privileged, self-indulgent generation in the history of mankind. Most of you wouldn’t know hardship or adversity, much less brutality or trauma, if it smacked you over the head… with a foam pool noodle. Continue reading

So Much for Empathetic Listening

by James A. Bacon

Militant students and faculty at the University of Virginia — and elsewhere — often talk about having “hard conversations” about the tragic realities in Gaza. To see what those “conversations” sound like, click on the video above.

It was hard alright — hard for President Jim Ryan. The students had no interest in confronting any discomfiting truths themselves.

The Daily Progress has the back story.

Ryan had an appointment on his calendar for more than a month with UVA Apartheid Divest, a coalition of 43 student groups demanding that UVA divest endowment assets from any company doing business with Israel. He entered Pavilion VI on the Lawn, accompanied by Chief Student Affairs Officer Kenyon Bonner and Dean of Students Cedric Rucker, expecting the meeting he had agreed to. But the students had other ideas.

“President Ryan, your students are waiting for you outside,” they said. They stepped out of the room and onto the Lawn where 30 classmates had gathered. Many had red paint on their hands, symbolizing blood. Continue reading