Left-wing media from the New York Times to National Public Radio are as excited as can be about a civil trial starting today in Charlottesville that targets organizers of the infamous Unite the Right rally in 2017. As the Times puts it, lawyers for the nine plaintiffs “are hoping that their quest for unspecified financial damages will both punish the organizers and deter others.”
I have zero sympathy for the white supremacists who organized the event, staged an intimidating torch-light march through the University of Virginia, peddled racism and anti-Semitism the next day, clashed with counter-protesters, and in case of James Alex Fields, Jr., drove a car into a crowd, killing a peaceful demonstrator, Heather Heyer. I would love to see white supremacists put out of business. If the civil lawsuit manages to do that, then I’m all on board.
What concerns me is the media-created mythology exempting the Left from any responsibility for political violence in America today while indicting broader American society for the actions of white supremacists.
The New York Times opines that the case will “underscore some of the most divisive fault lines segmenting the Untied States.” Continue reading →
First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
This makes if official: Even the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has documented and highlighted how poorly Virginia’s economy is performing, how far our state is lagging national growth averages.
Source: JLARC 2021 Report on Virginia State Spending, Slide 7.
The admission comes in the most recent summary on state spending trends, an annual report (detailed version here) which was submitted to and approved by the legislators on the panel last week. It covers the ten-year period of 2012-2021 and does a rolling update on previous years.
Virginia’s average annual change in gross domestic product of 1.2% was just 63% of the national average, our per capita income grew 1.1% annually (58% of the national average) and our labor force grew just 0.6% annually over the period, 60% of the national average. The general correlation of the three deficits just demonstrates their interdependence. Continue reading →
Here it is. Another sign of Democratic desperation.
I’m talking about this parade of out-of-state lefties coming to Virginia to demand we vote for Terry McAuliffe.
While Glenn Youngkin goes from overflow crowd to overflow crowd with a positive message for the future of Virginia: no grocery tax, more money for education, no CRT in schools, no return of parole, an increasingly frenzied McAuliffe screams two words over and over: “Trump” and “abortion.”
It’s ghoulish. And it’s as if he’s written off independents and centrists. McAuliffe is appealing to his base.
For instance, former President Barack Obama was in Virginia this weekend and in his peculiar sneering way lectured us about a “phony” culture war:
“We don’t have time to be wasted on these phony trumped-up culture wars, this fake outrage the right-wing media peddles to juice their ratings.”
The culture wars are never ending. My previous Bacon Bits post only scratched the surface. Here’s more….
Crackdown on parents was orchestrated. Remember how the National School Boards Association wrote that letter accusing parents of terrorizing school board members across the country, leading to Attorney General Merrick Garland ordering the FBI to collaborate with local law enforcement to deal with the threat? Well, that NSBA letter didn’t come out of the blue. Emails obtained by Parents Defending Education through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that NSBA President Viola Garcia and CEO Chip Slaven conspired with the White House before sending out the letter, reports The Federalist. In one email Slaven explained that there were “talks over the last several weeks with White House staff” who “requested additional information on some of the specific threats, so the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring.” Of course, as we all know now, one of those threatening “incidents” involved Loudoun County plumber Scott Smith, whose daughter had been raped in a Loudoun school. After the school board refused to let him speak about the incident, he got highly emotional, was escorted off the premises, refused to leave, and was arrested. To cap it off, Loudoun’s woke prosecutor charged him with a misdemeanor.
Free speech for some, not for others. Suppressing conservative free speech is increasingly routine. Most recently, Republican students at Washington & Lee University were banned from displaying campaign material at their booth in an annual activities fair. The material supported Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, reports The Daily Mail. The director of student activities told them that their display violated university policy regarding the endorsement of p0litical candidates. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), however, that policy applies to universities as institutions, not to students. W&L’s stance is beyond ludicrous. The Dudley administration openly supports “social justice” movements on campus, but it’s telling students they can’t pass out pamphlets, pins, and bumper stickers promoting a governor? No wonder W&L alumni are in revolt. Continue reading →
Sounding more like the Taliban every day! The rhetoric regarding Civil War statues may be undergoing a significant shift: from tear ’em down to melt ’em down. It’s not enough to remove the statues from the public square. Now they must be destroyed. The latest straw in the wind: The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center has submitted a proposal to Charlottesville City Council to melt down the Lee Statue that was removed earlier this year and use the bronze to create a new work of public art. The Swords into Plowshares project has received almost 30 letters of support from organizations and individuals, reports the Daily Progress. The saving grace of the tear-down-the-statues movement has been that the statues have been preserved with an idea that they might be placed in a museum or cemetery. Swords into Plowshares reopens the debate. The statues must be extirpated. One thing never changes. The Left is never satisfied. The Left always pushes for more.
It didn’t take long for that to get racialized! The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 9 to 1 this week to allow unions to engage in collective bargaining with the county. Chairman Jeff McKay said collective bargaining will lead to better employee retention and service to the community. Yeah, right. When have public-service unions ever led to improved service to the public? Wokeness is not an ideology attuned to pleasing middle-class taxpayers. Indeed, trouble may be brewing before the ink dries on the resolution. SEIUrepresents about 2,000 Fairfax County employees. But some say it is too White. What? Fairfax Now quotes David Lyson, executive director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, as saying, “The bargaining units are tilted toward wealthier white employees.” Uh, oh.Continue reading →
Jason Kamras Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools
by James C. Sherlock
This space this morning published a great column by Kerry Dougherty about the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). She was as desperate for a solution as the rest of us.
I have found over the years that it is absolutely impossible to talk or embarrass the RPS into improving its schools. They simply don’t want to do it in any way that has a chance of working.
The system is run for the adults, not the children.
Administrators simply refuse to consider doing the things they could do immediately to improve their schools:
Find out where the kids are when they are absent and bring them to school if there is no valid excuse. Ultimately pursue the parents of the chronically absent in court under existing Virginia law. Both will require hiring back the truancy officers RPS fired en masse; and
reduce chaotic learning environments in the classrooms with a restoration of effective discipline processes.
There is a new conservative meme loose in the land. It is profane and disrespectful, and it does nothing to elevate the civic discourse. But it gets the point across. It seems that crowds in football stadiums around the country have taken to chanting, “F— Joe Biden!” Hilariously, one sports commentator mistook the vulgarity as, “Let’s go Brandon!” Now the phrase “Let’s go Brandon” has taken on a life of its own.
At a recent football game at Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium, students broke out in just such a chant, and, apparently, the Tech administration did not approve. According to WJHL News, following displays of “selfish, inappropriate and embarrassing student behavior” that “falls short of Virginia Tech standards,” the administration restricted student attendance to season ticket holders and student lottery winners. As examples of objectionable behavior, the university mentioned students entering the game illegally or violating line protocols. The communique did not mention the profane mantra, but the Media Research Center blog, reading between the lines, viewed the crackdown as a rebuke of the anti-Biden chants.
I don’t know the truth of the matter, but based upon memories of my own sordid behavior as a University of Virginia undergraduate, I offer some advice to the Tech students. Continue reading →
In video message, Jason Kamras tells Richmond Public Schools community that teachers are burning out.
by James A. Bacon
A student at a Petersburg public school took a knife to school Tuesday and used it to cut a classmate from his earlobe to his face, reports the Associated Press.
The perp and the victim were six years old.
While that particular horror was unique to Petersburg, fights and violence are on the upswing in many Virginia public schools this school year, especially in schools where the student bodies are dominated by African Americans. Most incidents never make it into the news. But disorder in the schools has become so widespread that it is causing teacher burnout. Most teachers signed up for idealistic reasons, not to disarm knife-wielding six-year-olds.
What we’re seeing is the manifestation of social breakdown caused by the confluence of three megatrends. One is the impact of closing schools last year due to COVID-19 and attempting, largely unsuccessfully, to teach poor minority kids through distance learning at home where many were left inadequately unsupervised. A second is the social upheaval triggered by the George Floyd killing and the spread of the conviction that America’s institutions, including schools, are systemically racist and that White teachers are ill equipped to deal with Black-White cultural differences. A third is the watering down of school disciplinary policies, in which school districts have adopted a therapeutic approach to dealing with misbehavior. The bar has been raised so high for punishing students that more disruption and disorder is tolerated than ever before. Continue reading →
The Virginia Redistricting Commission has hit another wall. This one, over Congressional districts, is good, old-fashioned partisan politics, dressed up as differing perceptions of fairness.
Last week, the Commission decided to keep Congressional districts Three and Four intact, with only those changes needed to bring their populations in line with what was needed to meet the legal requirement. These districts were those drawn by the special master and adopted by the federal court following the lawsuit several years ago. On advice of counsel, the Commission decided that this was the safest approach to avoid any Voting Rights Act challenges. Each set of map drawers was directed to proposed appropriate changes for those districts. For the reminder of the state, the Republican map drawers were directed to draw the lines for the districts in Southwest Virginia, Southside and the Valley. The Democratic map drawers were directed to draw the three districts encompassing Northern Virginia. Both sets of map drawers were then directed to draw the lines for the other three districts in the state, after accounting for the districts drawn by their counterparts. Continue reading →
At last — a serious discussion has occurred about the reliability of Virginia’s electric grid as the state moves toward zero-carbon electricity generation by 2050 (and 2045 in the Dominion Energy service territory).
Reliability was a prime topic of conversation at the third Virginia Clean Energy Summit Tuesday. A panel discussion — “Can Texas Happen in Virginia?” — focused on an issue that has gone long ignored in Virginia. (I base my commentary upon the article posted by Virginia Mercury reporter Sarah Vogelsong who attended the event.)
What happened in Texas during a deep freeze in February most likely would not happen here, panelists agreed. Virginia is different. First, its electric utilities are more tightly regulated. Second, Virginia belongs to a regional transmission organization, PJM, which would allow the state’s power companies to import electricity from outside the state should the need arise.
Some of the arguments presented are valid. Virginia has backstops that Texas did not. But Texas may not be the most valid point of comparison. Perhaps we should be looking at the calamity that is California, which also has a tightly regulated electric power industry and also imports electricity from outside the state. Indeed, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Younkin has warned about blackouts and brownouts in Virginia’s energy future, he was alluding to the example not of Texas but California. Continue reading →
This is a follow-up to my Monday report on VPI+, a federally funded four-year pilot program to assess the value of the Virginia Preschool Initiative.
Today we will discuss what was not reported to the public. We will also assess the dreadful results of the pilot participants after those kids graduated and went on the kindergarten and first grade.
Clearly, SRI International (main report) and RAND (cost-benefit report) were directed not to disaggregate the results of the data they collected by division and school. Those, of course, are the levels that give parents enough information to evaluate the program.
What was revealed, at the very end of the main report, was that disadvantaged kids participating had made learning gains compared to their disadvantaged peers who did not attend, but
“like other state public preschool programs, by spring of first grade the differences were no longer statistically different.”
That heart-breaking outcome was left un-assessed.
The mandarins at VDOE (and perhaps the federal DOE) appear to believe that pre-school is too important for parents to get involved.
If given full information, some might challenge the program or decide it is not appropriate for their own children in their local school district.
Like the domestic terrorists some of them are considered in certain circles to be. Continue reading →
First published today by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
Any claim that Virginia cannot reduce taxes on its citizens without damaging state programs has been further eroded by two recent announcements.
The explosion of revenue from recent state tax increases is continuing into this new fiscal year, pointing to a potential repeat of last year’s $2.6 billion general fund surplus, which the state’s leadership is still trying to attribute to anything but its tax legislation. In the first three months of this new fiscal year general fund revenue is running $570 million ahead of last year’s record amounts, blowing out projections that assumed last year’s surplus was pandemic-related lagniappe.
The flood of money wasn’t related to the pandemic, not totally. It was related to tax policy decisions made in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the bulk of the surplus revenue coming from higher individual and corporate income taxes.
Adding to that, the Virginia Retirement System told legislators Monday that it has done so well with its investments (a 27% return in one year), the next General Assembly will be able to reduce the amount of cash it invests in the next few years, a significant reduction in annual costs. Continue reading →
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