Author Archives: James A. Bacon

Motoring Mariners

by Kerry Dougherty

I was surprised when my granddaughter excitedly phoned last night to tell me that due to flooding, school was cancelled today. I was reminded of the time area schools closed prematurely for snow and not a flake fell from the sky.

But then I checked the forecast: High tide today could be 7.3 feet above normal.

That’s serious. It means all of the usual places will flood and some areas that haven’t flooded in decades.

That also means a certain type of individual will be plying the roads.

I’ve written about them before.

Click on 24-hour disaster-time TV — such as we saw over the weekend — and you’ll catch images of brave storm-chasing pilots who flew into the eye of the hurricane to get accurate weather reports, rescue workers helping dazed survivors, linemen restoring power to hurricane ravaged neighborhoods and folks with chainsaws buzzing their way through tree-littered neighborhoods.

But there’s a less celebrated group of storm warriors who rarely are recognized.

The folks who dare to go where no one ought to in a storm. Into the floodwaters. At full throttle. In their cars.

They’ll be out today in Hampton Roads. Trust me. Continue reading

How to Think About Monuments

Statue of George Washington at the Virginia Capitol. Will he be canceled next?

by James A. Bacon

The conservative movement in Virginia faces a huge dilemma: how to build a “big tent” political coalition that is welcoming to African Americans and other minorities while resisting the cultural cleansing of everyone associated, however remotely, with the Civil War, slaveholding or segregation — including founding fathers of the republic such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

The iconoclasts are full of fury, and their logic is simple: monuments to Confederate soldiers and generals, they say, were erected as symbols of White supremacy and racism; White supremacy and racism must be expunged; therefore, these figures must be removed from the public sphere. Step by step, this syllogism has been extended to any figure tainted by racism, segregation, or slaveholding. An individual’s contributions and accomplishments count for nothing. Historical context is irrelevant. Artistic and aesthetic considerations of the statuary and pedestals as adornments to public places are of no import.

Conservatives and traditionalists have been powerless to reverse the momentum. They have mounted many lines of defense, but they have counted for naught. While many business and civic leaders lament the iconoclasm in private, they are too timid to speak publicly. No one wants to be tarred as an apologist for White supremacy. Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has been outspoken about “divisive” leftist concepts in schools, has been mute about monuments. The political parties are undergoing the greatest realignment in a half century as Blacks and Hispanics increasingly see the Democratic Party as antithetical to their values and interests. For Youngkin, there is no upside to standing up for the statues of Civil War generals.

The challenge, as I see it, is for conservatives and traditionalists to articulate a set of principles regarding monuments and memorials that does not alienate the demographic groups — Blacks in particular — that the Republican Party is courting. Indeed, the rhetoric of conservatives and traditionalists should fully acknowledge the fact that African Americans in Virginia and America endured centuries of slavery, racism, and segregation, and that their experiences should not be discounted in our re-telling of history. Insofar as they fought for liberty, we should unabashedly embrace them as our heroes, too. Continue reading

It’s a Memorial, Not a Racist Ideology

by Carol J. Bova

Accounts from lawyers, reporters, pundits and other outsiders have severely distorted the debate over the Confederate memorial in Mathews County.

To The Washington Post, the controversy is about the ”enduring power of the Civil War’s legacy.”

To the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher, LLP, writing on behalf of the local NAACP, it’s an endorsement of white supremacy. “Confederate monuments were intended to assert that white supremacy would remain a dominant force of social control.”

To Mathews families whose ancestors never came home from the war, the monument in front of the county courthouse provides an enduring connection to their ancestors – a love and commemoration of family. The monument is not a political statement. 

The controversy originated with a proposal before the Mathews Board of Supervisors to deed the land underneath the statue to a private preservation group. The County neither commissioned nor paid for the memorial. It did allow its placement on the corner of the Courthouse Green in 1912 because, at that time, there were no paved roads in the County, and many were impassable in bad weather. The business district was centered near the Courthouse Green, so when families came to shop, the location of the memorial was accessible to pay respect to the Mathews war dead. 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

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

Three Virginia Counties Are Great Places for Black People to Live

by Ken Reid

In the aftermath of the nationwide orgy of riotous violence perpetrated by supporters of Black Lives Matter due to George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020, both the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) School Board issued resolutions of “apology” for how blacks were mistreated in the past.

“Although we recognize that we have yet to fully correct or eradicate matters of racial inequality, we hope that issuing this apology with genuine remorse is a valuable step followed by additional actions,” the apology, issued in September 2020, read.

WUSA Channel 9 reported that the “Loudoun County NAACP President [Michelle Thomas] said racial issues run so deep in LCPS that they were stepping in to initiate town halls, adding that the school system had been on its radar for five decades since the integration of Black students into the school system.”

A year later, in her annual State of the County address, County Chair Phyllis Randall, the first African American woman elected to the position, said 2020 was a year of “a long overdue reckoning on systemic racism that has plagued America since its birth.”

Thomas’ activists pushed for a Comprehensive Equity Plan and the Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism.” The result, as we all know, was top-down revision of the school curriculum in Loudoun along lines of anti-racism and critical race theory, which has wreaked havoc among parents and helped Republicans win back Richmond in 2021.

But according to The Black Progress Index: examining the social factors that influence Black wellbeing (just released by the liberal Brookings Institution in D.C.), Virginia’s three largest counties are great places for African Americans to thrive. About 1,677 counties were ranked. Continue reading

Bacon Meme of the Week

Complete and Total Incompetence & Negligence

Fox Elementary School after the fire. Photo credit: WTVR

by Jon Baliles

There can be no more fitting title for this post than this jaw-dropping, migraine-inducing story from Tyler Lane at CBS6 about the repeated warning signs about fire safety that were not only missed — but flat out ignored — by Richmond Public Schools (RPS) officials in 2020 and 2021, which culminated in the destruction by fire of Fox Elementary School and the school bus maintenance facility a few months later.

If it’s not criminal to so blatantly put thousands of kids’ lives at risk, it certainly should be a fireable offense. But what happened to the Director of Facilities who ignored all the warnings and repeated pleas by Fire officials to do something —anything — about the clear and present dangers to our schools and the kids inside them? RPS gave him a $30,000 raise?

Before the fire that destroyed Fox Elementary School in February 2022, a Richmond Fire Department captain pleaded with leaders of RPS that Fox was in violation of eight fire codes (including a faulty alarm panel) since August of 2021 and warned them “of ‘extreme neglect’ to fire safety and accused the district of a “complete lack of effort” ensuring schools were safe for occupancy.” Those violations were supposedly fixed but no re-inspection ever took place. Continue reading

GMU Rebates Tuition Increase Students

by James A. Bacon

George Mason University, the last holdout among Virginia’s public universities in freezing tuition for in-state undergraduate students this year, has announced that it will rebate this year’s 3% tuition increase.  Now all 15 public colleges in Virginia have acceded to a request by Governor Glenn Youngkin to forebear on raising tuition during a year in which Virginia families have been pummeled by 9% inflation.

The statement came, interestingly enough, from the office of Governor Glenn Youngkin. Said the Governor:

Today, George Mason University joined the 14 other public college and university boards, which serve more than a quarter-million undergraduate college students in Virginia, by pledging to keep tuition flat for in-state students. Early on in my administration, I encouraged all colleges and universities to take on this challenge and I  am pleased that now all of Virginia’s students will have the opportunity to pursue their higher education at every public college, university, and community college in the Commonwealth free from tuition hike fears.

This is a victory, albeit a transitory one, for Youngkin.
Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Signs of the Times

I identify as a rattlesnake. The Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 5,600 drivers licenses and other forms of identification with a “nonbinary” identification since an enabling law went into effect July 1, 2020, reports the Virginia Mercury. “For decades the government put lots of people in boxes in lots of ways,” said the law’s sponsor, Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “And going forward I don’t think a lot of young people see themselves that way.” Gee, I thought the purpose of ID cards was to help authorities verify if people are who they say they are, not to be a vehicle for self expression — like, say, customized license plates. Ok, I was wrong about that. How, then, can I, as an ordinary male, express my identity? Surely, it is but a small step from stamping the Gadsden Flag on my license plate to embossing it on my ID card. Do I hear any legislators volunteering to submit a bill?

Eat your heart out, VCU. The Virginia Commonwealth University police department has, as I recently noted on this blog, appointed two of its officers as liaisons with the LGBTQIA+ community. Not to be outdone, the 170-person University of Virginia police department has hired a full-time Diversity, Equity & Inclusion officer to organize racial and cultural sensitivity training. Indeed, university officers received such training Sept. 1, exactly one week before an unidentified White man hung a noose on a statue of Homer on the University Grounds. The noose, which is associated with lynching, is often considered a symbol of White supremacy. “The recent training allowed police to identify the incident as a hate crime without second-guessing it,” writes The Daily Progress, quoting DEI officer Courtney Hawkins. The article did not explain how hanging a noose on a statue of an old, dead White man constituted a hate crime. Hopefully, the investigation into the incident will identify the perpetrator and illuminate his thinking.

Speaking of hate crimes… University of Virginia Health has organized what it calls Emotional Emancipation Circles where Black students can “heal the emotional legacies of racism and racial trauma.” Participants will “share stories and deepen our understanding of the impact of historical forces on our sense of self-worth, relationships, and communities.” Among other skills, participants will learn “African-centered practices for healing cultural wounds.” I don’t know anything about these African-centered practices, but they have to be better than the Euro-centered practice of cultivating grievance, victimhood, and fragility- and fatalism-inducing self-pity. The further these Emotional Emancipation Circles can distance themselves from Eurocentric psychiatric influences the quicker the healing can begin.

Media Gins up Anemic School Walkouts

by Kerry Dougherty

You could almost hear the local media panting Tuesday morning. There were rumors that some Virginia high school students were going to walk out of school to protest the new parental rights policies of the Youngkin administration.

You know, the Department of Education regulations announced earlier this month that support the principle that parents are the ultimate authority over their own kids.

I wrote about this reversal of Ralph Northam’s policies on parental authority last week.

The mainstream media, desperate to weaken an increasingly popular Youngkin, portrays the policy as limiting transgendered rights.

That’s nonsense and if members of the media took the time to actually READ the language of the regulations, as I did, they would know it. Continue reading

To Be Elected Or Not

Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.” He was unaccountable, too.

by Jim McCarthy

The exploits of Robin Hood and his band of merry men in the cover of Sherwood Forest have been colored heroic as they engaged in a redistribution of wealth from one class of Englishmen to another. The Sheriff of Nottingham was a spoiler, though his mission was one of law and order as a minion of the king or royalty charged with maintaining peace and order while collecting taxes and rents (usually produce or farm animals) from the feudal estate and its serf residents. The sheriff (shire reeve) transplanted to the colonies morphed into an elective position and, in many instances to the present, is the sole and primary law enforcement officer in a jurisdiction.

The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA) counts 123 members responsible for the management of 8,000 to 9,000 deputies and staff. Most residents are familiar with the broad range of duties performed by sheriffs, from law enforcement to supervision of county and regional jails (with about 28,000 inmates), to service of process (over 3 million events), and security for city and county courts. Just over half of the sheriffs identify politically as independent; 29% as Republican; 15% as Democrat. Of the thirty city sheriffs, nine identify as independent, nine as Democrat, six as Republican, and six with no affiliation.

Whether a political party can represent a more appealing choice or prospect for enforcement of the law is debatable and likely irrelevant to voters. In the nation’s contemporary hyper-partisan environment, however, political intrusion into every electoral office has become the norm. At the end of 2019, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors announced plans to create a county police department, in part it said, related to asserting civilian authority over the jurisdiction’s policing. The county’s sheriff proclaimed that the move was unnecessary because his office was held responsible and accountable every four years at election time. Besides, he offered, the proposal was a mere power grab by political opponents. Continue reading

Graph of the Day: Maternal Mortality

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, by way of The Virginia Mercury

by James A. Bacon

When writing about “systemic racism” in health care, journalists routinely cite the disparity in health outcomes between White and Black Women. Here in Virginia, the maternal death rate per 100,000 for Black women in 2018 was 37.3 — nearly twice the rate of 14.9 for White women. The disparity has grown even wider since then. That disparity often is presumed, without the need for further proof, to reflect racism.

But could there be other explanations? Virginia health officials will be working over the next two years to understand the disparity by digging into the details of individual cases to get a clearer idea of the factors that might have contributed to the deaths, reports the Virginia Mercury.

Among other factors the team will examine is “noncompliance with appointment.” Is it possible that women who died from pregnancy- or birth-related issues were more likely to have missed their prenatal medical appointments? Could some mothers, for instance, have had difficulty accessing transportation to the doctor’s office or been unable to break free from their jobs? (Or could they have just forgotten about their meetings or otherwise blown them off?)

I’ve never heard this mentioned as a possible factor before. Depending on the findings, the inquiry could change the complexion of the debate. Difficulty in finding transportation is a very different problem than, say, physician racial bias.

Continue reading

Map of the Day: Corporate Tax Rates

Why does Virginia have such an also-ran economy? Perhaps one reason, among many, is that its combined state and local corporate tax rate is higher than that of 24 other states. We’re not hostile to business like, say, Illinois or New Jersey, but we’re not welcoming either. — JAB

Wokewashing Comes for the Executive Mansion

by Shaun Kenney

Ned Oliver over at Axios Richmond takes two separate and distinct wires and touches them together for maximum dramatic effect, namely how the tour for the Virginia Executive Mansion — recently reopened after the COVID pandemic — whose narrative has satisfied historians for a good two decades or more, is today somehow tied into Youngkin’s opposition to Critical Race Theory.

From the objective-because-it-is-short method at Axios Richmond:

Why it matters: One of Youngkin’s first acts as governor was to ban public schools from teaching what he called “inherently divisive concepts,” prompting fears his administration was attempting to whitewash history books.

  • His administration’s handling of tours at the Executive Mansion offers up-close insight into how he thinks complex histories should be taught.

Does anyone in their right mind think this is objective reporting? Continue reading