Author Archives: James A. Bacon

Bacon Bits: Government, Race, and Poverty

Whites need not apply. The initial draft of a Loudoun County Public Schools “student equity ambassador program” barred white students from admission to the program. The selection guidelines said specifically, “This opportunity is open to all Students of Color,” reports The Virginia Star. The guideline was deleted after whistleblowers called public attention to it, but the draft reveals the mindset of the Critical Race Theorists running Loudoun public schools. “Anti-racism” is transmogrifying into anti-white racism before our very eyes.

Your tax dollars not at work. Virginia’s unemployment insurance program ranks worsts in the country for processing claims that require staff review. The backlog has increased to more than 90,000 cases, reports The Virginia Mercury. Additionally, Virginia was the second-to-last state in the country to issue $300 weekly supplements authorized by President Trump. State officials attribute the delays in a decision early in the COVID-19 epidemic to prioritize helping people submit and complete applications that can be automatically validated using state payroll data; 86% of routine applications have received their first payment within three weeks, the fifth best in the nation.

Testing the guaranteed-minimum-wage theory. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has announced a pilot program to give $500 a month to 18 families over the next two years. Recipients will be randomly selected from families that no longer qualify for public benefits programs. The Robins Foundation, a local nonprofit, is splitting the $480,000 bill for the test with the city. “Poverty is symptom of centuries of injustice, not a result of personal failure. Richmond must lead the way in lifting hard-working families up,” Stoney said. “This is part of something much bigger: a national movement toward economic stability and the fight for a living wage.” The program will test the theory that families will use the extra money to improve their situations or avoid spiraling further into poverty. Let’s hope the city is keeping close track of the results to determine if the program works as designed.

— JAB

America’s New Ruling Class: Washington Post Edition

So long, Stonewall

by James A. Bacon

That didn’t take long. In the wake of Washington Post articles alleging systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute, the Board of Visitors voted Thursday to remove the statue of Stonewall Jackson from its campus. The action follows the Monday resignation of J.H. Binford Peay III, the institute’s superintendent, who had resisted calls to remove the statue on the grounds that Jackson, one of America’s iconic military geniuses, had been an instructor at the Institute before the Civil War.

After the board’s capitulation, Chairman John “Bill” Boland told the Washington Post, “It’s time to move forward. [The monument] was drawing a lot of fire and distracting from what our true mission is. The most important thing to me is to maintain our mission and our methods.”

The board also voted to create a diversity office and a diversity inclusion committee. Of its 17 board members, three are black, noted reporter Ian Shapira. Also, he observed, “All of the school’s top officials, including the VMI chief of staff, the faculty dean and the inspector general/Title IX coordinator, are White men.”

I got to thinking, how diverse is the Washington Post editorial staff? Does the Post live up to the standards it imposes on others? The newspaper lists its newsroom leadership here. You can click on the names, and in most cases you will find a photograph by which you can discern the individual’s gender and race. But I’ll save you the trouble. Scroll down and see if you detect a pattern. (To read my wrap-up, scroll all the way to the bottom.) Continue reading

Big Tax-Hike Push Coming

by Chris Saxman

Earlier today I was asked by Virginia Business Magazine what the business community could expect in the 2021 General Assembly Regular Session. I talked about the construct of the short session with a gubernatorial election, House of Delegates staving off primary challenges, bills that were not passed last session, and the prospects of the changing political dynamic should Joe Biden win the presidency armed with a majority in the U.S House and Senate.

That interview will be out in January.

Not a half an hour after that call ended, a job was posted on line that will actually define the 2021 Session “and potentially beyond.”

Ohhh….what’s that you ask?

A tax increase campaign driven by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis Continue reading

Ryan Defends UVa’s Diversity of Viewpoints

Earlier this week, University of Virginia alumnus Joel Gardner wrote a letter to President Jim Ryan outlining his concerns about the decline of intellectual diversity at the university. Writing in response, Ryan defended the diversity of viewpoints found at UVa. He cites numerous instances which have not gotten play on this blog, and I present them in the interest of… viewpoint diversity. What follows is an excerpt from a longer letter. — JAB


University of Virginia President James E. Ryan

The problem you identify is not unique to UVA, and I also believe there are some very bright spots at UVA. As I mentioned on our Zoom call, UVA is a place that fosters debate and discussion across lines of difference, through our curriculum — including the new College curriculum; student groups that intentionally bring diverse groups together to discuss issues; a wide range of student political groups; faculty who work hard to encourage robust conversations; and faculty who are themselves diverse ideologically. This may be why UVA is ranked in the top ten by national organizations that assess universities based on their protection of free speech and viewpoint diversity.

Continue reading

Indoctrination U

Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

This January the University of Virginia offers what it calls “signature” courses, which address inter-disciplinary topics that are “timely and of enduring significance.” The University has just released a preliminary list of 11 courses for the 2021 term. Four appear to be devoid of overt political bias. But judging from the course descriptions, the rest have leftist perspectives baked in. Not one of the courses explicitly addresses conservative, libertarian or traditional perspectives on society. This is what passes for intellectual diversity at UVa today.

These excerpts are taken verbatim from the course descriptions:

ARTS 1505 The Art of Resistance
Faculty: Mona Kasra & Lydia Moyer (Drama and Art)

This course will focus on the role of the contemporary visual culture in staging social movements and the ways in which grassroots activists employ visually-oriented practices as a means of political resistance and collective mobilization. … Guest lectures will include activists, artists, and protesters from recent social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Appalachians Against Pipelines, and Extinction Rebellion, many of whom have connections to local Charlottesville and surrounding Virginia communities. Students will be evaluated based on reflective writing assignments on course content and a collaborative project-based final assignment. Continue reading

How Title IX Created the Campus Sex Police

Teresa Manning

by James A. Bacon

When Congress enacted Title IX in 1972, the intent of the federal law was to ban discrimination against women at higher-ed institutions receiving federal funds. The application of the law morphed over the years to require equal funding of women’s athletic programs, ban “hostile” workplace environments, and in 2011 under Obama administration administrative guidance, root out sexual violence.

In a new report published by the National Academy of Scholars, “Dear Colleague: The Weaponization of Title IX,” Teresa Manning documents how at James Madison University, George Mason University and Virginia Tech, among other higher-ed institutions, the law is no longer applied to equal access issues, which are no longer a concern, but is used to advance a feminist agenda.

“By [President Obama’s] stroke of a pen, an educational equal access law was transformed into a campus sex crimes law,” writes Manning, a pro-life GMU law professor who was appointed in 2018 to a post in the Trump administration’s Office of Population Affairs. Continue reading

Radical Idea: Elections Should End on Election Day

by Kerry Dougherty

Here are four words Democrats don’t want to hear: “Elections must end sometime.”

They were written by Justice Neil Gorsuch in a recent ruling that required Wisconsin to stop accepting ballots after 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Pity that rule doesn’t apply everywhere in the United States.

I know, I know. States get to make their own election rules. But a little consistency might be nice. In federal elections, anyway.

That way we’d have some hope of knowing who will be the next president during the first week in November rather than getting the news on Thanksgiving. Or worse, Christmas.

The post-election season is going to be crazy this year. Lawyers, start your engines.

Continue reading

Connolly: Expel VMI Students Guilty of Racist Conduct, Track Thought Crimes

Rep Gerald Connolly: Expel VMI students guilty of racist conduct. Question: Who decides what’s “racist” — the Washington Post? Photo credit: Stream.org.

by James A. Bacon

Representative Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and other congressional Democrats have written Governor Ralph Northam, calling for the expulsion of students at the Virginia Military Institute who have been found guilty of “racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Citing a Washington Post article that alleged the existence of “relentless racism” at the military institute, the letter from the House Armed Service Committee decried “lynching threats, professors openly reminiscing about the Ku Klux Klan, a campus culture that venerates the Confederacy and little to no disciplinary action by VMI.”

“We are dismayed that racism is tolerated and has been allowed to persist throughout VMI,” says the letter. The congressmen made three requests:

  1. Remove any statues or symbols that memorialize leaders of the Confederacy.
  2. Conduct regular climate surveys of cadets and recent alumni “to gauge the prevalence of racist beliefs, experiences of discrimination, and harassment within the institution.”
  3. Immediately expel “any offending cadet or faculty member who breaches the honor code through racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Continue reading

Stonewall Jackson: Getting It Right

by Kerry Dougherty

Newspapers aren’t what they once were. That’s especially true for the lean local papers that serve our area.

They’ve laid off staff, farmed out editing and rely heavily on wire copy from the national newspapers.

Yes, there is a knot of earnest young reporters trying desperately to cover the region, but they don’t have the numbers for comprehensive coverage and they’re all working without a net. Shoot, newspaper staff no longer have a building since the old Pilot offices on Brambleton Avenue were sold and The Daily Press headquarters in Newport News was shutdown last month.

There was a time when any story with even the most tenuous Virginia connection was covered aggressively by local staff writers. After all, they knew the commonwealth. Those big-shot, out-of-town scribes who parachuted in for the occasional national story didn’t.

Lately, however, even Navy stories are coming from the Associated Press and coverage of the alleged racial strife at the Virginia Military Institute are brought to readers courtesy of The New York Times. Continue reading

C’Villity

by Jock Yellott

A comparison of Michael Signer, “Cry Havoc, Charlottesville and American
Democracy Under Siege” (2020), with Harry Clor, On Moderation, Defending an Ancient Virtue in a Modern World (2008)

Howling mobs thronged the city, bloodied the streets, swarmed City Council — and now that shouting dominates the national conversation. What happened in the pleasant leafy college town that was Charlottesville, Virginia, yclept by a local newsweekly C’ville? What happened to C’villity?

Two books of interest: one, former Mayor Michel Signer’s “Cry Havoc” (2020) about his embattled town. The other, the late Professor Harry Clor’s “On Moderation” (2008), a larger appreciation of civility in every city, everywhere.

Signer’s “Cry Havoc” asks how can a well-meaning, reasonable mayor cope with raucous extremists, first on the Right and then on the Left? Hint: it doesn’t go well. Continue reading

Henry Defends Role in $1.8 Million Statue Contract

Devon Henry

The Associated Press snagged an interview with Devon Henry, owner of NAH, LLC, the shell company that was awarded a $1.8 million contract to remove Richmond’s Civil War statues earlier this year. That contract, awarded by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney after bypassing normal procurement protocols, is now under investigation.

The AP story provides insight into why Henry, a 43-year-old African-American construction contractor who has done more than $100 million in business with the federal government, hid his identity by setting up a shell corporation.

Henry huddled with his family to make sure everyone was on board. His son and daughter “started Googling” and “there was most definitely a level of concern” when they read about what happened in Charlottesville (where plans to remove a Robert E. Lee statue sparked a deadly white supremacist rally in 2017) and New Orleans (where a contractor’s car was firebombed).

Ultimately, they all agreed to take the job. This was an opportunity to be a part of history.

For safety, he said, he sought to conceal his company’s identity, creating a shell entity, NAH LLC, through which the $1.8 million contract was funneled.

Continue reading

Woke War on VMI Is Just Getting Started

Ian Shapira

by James A. Bacon

Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira does a victory dance in the newspaper today with his coverage of J.H. Binford Peay III’s resignation as superintendent of Virginia Military Institute. Last week the Post had published Shapira’s reporting based on quotes from a half dozen VMI cadets and graduates that alleged “relentless racism” at the military institute. Governor Ralph Northam ordered an investigation into the school’s culture, and Peay resigned on the grounds that Northam had lost confidence in his leadership.

“During Peay’s tenure, multiple accounts of racist incidents have surfaced at VMI,” summarized Shapira in his follow-up. In his original piece, he had recounted six or seven incidents over several years, which today’s article described five separate times as “relentless racism.” He quoted a half dozen or so sources who were unhappy with VMI, implying that their experiences and sentiments were typical of the 130 to 140 African-Americans enrolled at the institute. Continue reading

Casino Gambling a Risky Bet

by Kerry Dougherty

“I thought you were a libertarian,” a friend of mine said accusingly last week. “So why would you vote against casino gambling if you lived in Norfolk?”

I’m not against gambling, I explained. I just don’t want it in my backyard. There’s no benefit to society. Plus, it brings sleazy activity, crime and poverty to places that legalize it.

Gambling almost never lives up to the hype.

Last winter the General Assembly approved casino gambling for Virginia and allowed five “economically disadvantaged” cities; Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, Richmond and Bristol to hold referendums on the matter. Four of the cities vote next week. Richmond is holding off for a year.

What this means is that cities with more than their share of poor people will get casinos. I’m not sure that will work out the way the politicians think it will. Continue reading

UVa Needs to Shut Down the Echo Chamber

Joel Gardner, Undergraduate class of 1970; Law School class of 1974.

The following passage is the second excerpt from a letter written by Joel Gardner, author of “From Rebel Yell to Revolution,” to University of Virginia President Jim Ryan. We published the first excerpt  yesterday. — JAB

Without being able to accurately substantiate the following with specific facts and figures … I believe there are virtually no Republicans or conservatives among the top members of your administration. including deans. Our faculty is probably not much more diverse. I have heard renowned former University professor Jonathan Haidt speak … at a Jefferson Scholar event at Darden about four years ago. At that time he had a chart that showed that about 60% of college faculty are liberal/far left, 30% moderate and 10% conservative/ far right. I have no reason to believe the breakdown is any different at UVa. This is way out of line with the breakdown of thought diversity in the population at large.

This was not always the case. When I was a student, the faculty was split about 50/50 in ideology. In fact, a vote to ban ROTC from the Grounds drew a tie vote in the faculty senate. Until recently, there were a number of deans who were in the relatively conservative camp — Law, Batten and Commerce. This no longer the case. Until recently there was a mix of Republicans and Democrats on the BOV. But with Democrat governors in the statehouse since 2014, there are no longer any Republican appointees on the Board. The result in effect is one party rule on Grounds — and as we all know, one party rule is never healthy. Without meaningful debate and exchange of opposing ideas there is little opportunity to digest other viewpoints and even less motivation to compromise. Continue reading

The Big Gamble

Image source: www.piqsels.com

by Bill O’Keefe

Virginia’s Clean Economy act requires Dominion to provide a 100% carbon-free grid by 2045. This law represents a big gamble that Dominion embraced with a “balls to the wall” enthusiasm because the $9 billion cost, which will most likely be higher, will be provided by rate payers, not share owners. To quote a truism, nobody spends someone else’s money like their own. This legislation proves it.

Dominion’s confidence in achieving the General Assembly’s mandate is unrealistic. Given technological uncertainties, it is the height of folly to accept a mandate that establishes a goal and the date by which it is must be achieved. The history of technology-forcing mandates is a sorry one.

Dominion has touted the recent tests of two offshore turbines as reason for optimism for the planned project of 180 to 220 turbines located 27 miles offshore will cover 112,800 acres. That represents 176 square miles, roughly the size of King George County and more than three times as large as Norfolk. And the turbines will stand 600 feet about the surface. Continue reading