Author Archives: James A. Bacon

A Powerful Defense of Thomas Jefferson

In this interview with Jean Yarbrough, author of American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People, Douglas Murray explores Thomas Jefferson’s life and legacy, and dissects the modern-day assault on Jefferson’s reputation.

How UVa Addresses Student Loneliness, Depression

A federal survey shows a 63% increase in depressive symptoms in teens and young adults in the 10 years prior to COVID. Source: “Hoos Connected: Enhancing Social belonging & Support Among UVa Students

by James A. Bacon

A new preoccupation of college administrators across the United States is how to give students a sense of “belonging.” The concern is understandable. There is increasing awareness that America is experiencing a “loneliness” epidemic, as reflected by a 40% rate nationally of anxiety, depression and other diagnosed mental illnesses among college students. If students fail to connect with classes, professors, or other students — to feel part of a community — they are more likely to fall into a state of anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior.

The University of Virginia is trying to address the problem of loneliness and isolation with a program called Hoos Connected. Psychology Professor Joseph P. Allen, executive director, will brief the Board of Visitors tomorrow about the program.

Hoos Connected organizes weekly small-group discussions and activities for first-year and transfer students. In a pilot program, according to a PowerPoint presentation posted on the Board website, Hoos Connected participants and a control group of non-participating students started out roughly equivalent in a measure of student loneliness. Among the goals was to get students to make inter-personal connections and recognize “how much we all have in common beneath the surface.” By the end of the semester, the Hoos Connected cohort showed a decline in loneliness, while the control group exhibited an increase, according to Allen. Continue reading

Youngkin Reacts To Raid By An ABC Goon Squad

by Kerry Dougherty

In one of the most bizarre actions in recent memory, law enforcement on Friday raided Gourmeltz, a popular Fredericksburg restaurant, and confiscated its liquor and sales records because the owner in 2021 defied former Governor Ralph Northam’s long-defunct executive order that required liquor-selling establishments to abide by a host of nonsensical COVID-related rules.

You remember Northam’s anti-science magical regulations, don’t you?

No liquor could be sold, served or consumed after 10 p.m., no seating was allowed at bars — tables only, all patrons over the age of five had to wear a mask unless they were seated and eating or drinking, all employees had to wear face diapers and restaurants had to close by midnight.

Authoritarian insanity. All of it.

I get COVID PTSD just thinking about the Northam regime.

Gourmeltz owner, Matt Strickland, refused to comply with Northam’s idiocy and was cited for not forcing his employees to wear face masks. His liquor license was suspended. He continued to serve booze anyway.

Pity all holding Virginia ABC licenses didn’t join Strickland in ignoring the power-drunk little governor. Instead, Strickland was on his own and easy to target. Continue reading

Anti-Semitism in Virginia

Source: Anti-Defamation League, as republished by “Combating Antisemitism in Virginia

by James A. Bacon

Antisemitism in Virginia isn’t as severe as in some other states, but the number of incidents of harassment and vandalism has increased in recent years, according to a report by the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, “Combating Antisemitism in Virginia.”

In 2021, 411 reported antisemitic incidents impacted residents of the Commonwealth, reports the study, based on Anti-Defamation League data. These incidents showed a 71% increase over the 292 reported in 2018. Fortunately, none of these events involved the infliction of physical harm to anyone.

Antisemitism became a high-profile issue in 2017 during the Unite the Right rally of White supremacist groups, which was marked by numerous chants, and signage and sieg heils that singled out Jews for vilification. The vast majority of White Supremacists came from outside the state, but the event gave Virginia a bad name.

“Antisemitism is a wide-ranging problem that cuts across diverse segments of American society and exists on both the extreme left and extreme right sides of the political spectrum, as well as within the gradients in between,” states the report. Continue reading

Map of the Day: Disability Processing Times

Map credit: The Washington Post. Click on link to view the Post’s interactive version.

There’s a new crisis in the welfare state: longer waiting times for the processing of Social Security Administration disability claims. More than a million Americans wait in limbo, says The Washington Post. Though far from the worst, the slowdown in processing claims in Virginia — a state responsibility — has increased 129% between fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2022. Says the Post: The failure has left “thousands of poor disabled and increasingly desperate people without the benefits they need to survive.”

The article blames tight labor markets and staff shortages, obsolete technology, increasing medical evidence that must be reviewed, and shortages of physicians to review them. While the disability program is federally funded, states vet the claimants. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

at The Bull Elephant.

SCHEV’s Study on College Completion Rates Is… Incomplete

by James A. Bacon

The dirty secret of the higher-ed industry is the high rate at which students drop out of college. The six-year graduation rate for full-time, in-state students entering Virginia’s public four-year institutions in 1995 was 60%, implying a drop-out rate of 40%, according to State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) data.

After Virginia institutions made strenuous efforts to improve performance, the rate increased to 73% for the 2015 entering class — a big improvement. But there is still a long way to go — and it’s not yet clear from the published data what impact the COVID pandemic had on completions.

A high drop-out rate is a major social issue. Thousands of Virginia students spend tens of thousands of dollars, often borrowed, on tuition, fees, and room and board without ever acquiring a credential to improve their job prospects. Recognizing the problem, SCHEV has issued a report, “What Matters Most,” which explores how Virginia higher-ed can get better results.

The report contains some useful perspectives. But, as one might expect from a document compiled with input from university administrators with vested interests and sacred cows to protect — deans of students, vice presidents of student affairs, vice presidents of admissions, student support services administrators, and unspecified “subject matter experts” —  it has blind spots as well. Continue reading

Bacon Meme of the Week

Passing the Baton

The Big Bacon is pleased to announce that Bob Rayner and Robin Beres will make taking over primary editing duties at Bacon’s Rebellion. They will take on tasks that I will no longer be able to fulfill as executive director of The Jefferson Council.

Bob and Robin have been working as a team for years. They put out the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page back when it was independent from the newsroom operation. After they retired, they edited the Bacon’s Rebellion-affiliated newsletter, The Blunderbuss.

From here on, if you wish to submit a column for publication in the Rebellion, you can contact them at Readers are welcome to continue communicating with me directly at my Bacon’s Rebellion email address. Just be forewarned that I have delegated most editorial decisions to Bob and Robin.

The good news (for me) is that this new arrangement will free up time for me to continue posting to the blog. You’ll be hearing a lot about the University of Virginia and Virginia higher education generally.

Comments. On a related matter, I have provisionally decided to continue allowing readers to post comments. I have heard from enough of you that the comments are part of the (ahem, shall we say) unique Bacon’s Rebellion experience that I will make one more effort at bringing them under control. Bob, Robin and I are still working out the details. More to come.

COVID Accounted for Half of Excess Deaths in 2020, 2021

Source: Virginia Department of Health

by James A. Bacon

The number of deaths in Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 and 2021) was roughly 15,000 higher, or 22.5%, than would have been predicted from pre-COVID trends, according to a new report published by the Virginia Department of Health. However, COVID accounted for a bit less than half (47%) of the excess deaths.

Deaths attributable to accidents, homicides, liver disease, diabetes, hypertension and renal disease all increased more than 20% as well. On the other hand, the pandemic saw a decline in fatalities due to influenza and pneumonia, sepsis, and chronic respiratory disease.

Major conclusions from the study:

COVID-19 drove excess mortality in Virginia, but mortality for other causes of death was also higher than expected. The top five leading causes of death contributed to 70.4% of all excess deaths observed between the two time periods. COVID-19 contributed to 47.0% of all excess deaths. Continue reading

Normalizing Pedophilia

Allyn Walker

by Kerry Dougherty

Turns out Allyn Walker is not a lone academic pushing a repulsive agenda. Others in the woke crowd are chiming in.

Remember Walker? That was the ODU professor who was sacked last year after this site and others sounded the alarm about how they/them was preaching the gospel of “minor attracted persons” – a euphemism for pedophiles.

Calling perverts who lust after children “pedophiles” hurts their feelings, said Walker. We need to treat these monsters with more respect.

Last time I checked, Walker was working at Johns Hopkins.

Acceptance of pedophilia as just one more wrinkle in our sexual tapestry is the latest attack on children by the people who brought you drag queen story time. Those of us who refuse to recognize the humanity of men who want to rape babies are being too judgy, they say. Stop with your Christian moralizing, they scold. Pedophiles are just like everyone else, except they find Pampers sexy.

Time for normal people to shout ENOUGH. We will never show compassion to people who hurt children. And we will object every time some leftie voices these repugnant ideas. Continue reading

When the WaPo Admits There’s a Homicide Crisis… There’s a Homicide Crisis.

Graphic credit: Washington Post. Click here to access the WaPo’s interactive feature showing the data for each city.

by James A. Bacon

Delve into the comments on Bacon’s Rebellion, and you will find that the dialogue often collapses due to disagreements over basic facts. One recurring dispute is the degree to which the violent crime rate is increasing, both nationally and here in Virginia. Some see the violent-crime-is-increasing narrative as a right-wing talking point with little grounding in reality… except when we’re talking about mass shootings, in which case the U.S. is the most violent country in the world.

News alert: When The Washington Post acknowledges that violent crime is surging, it can no longer be dismissed as a meme of election deniers, MAGA-hat wearers and other right-wing knuckle draggers. A WaPo story today refers to the spate in violence as “America’s homicide crisis.”

“The rate of killings rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 and remained high through the following year,” said the Post. “Even now, as the bloodshed has slowed, the homicide rate outpaces pre-pandemic levels.” Continue reading

Don’t Forget the Dismal History SOL Pass Rates

by Carol J. Bova

As the battle rages over the History and Social Science (HSS) Standards of Learning criteria — the State Board of Education decided earlier this month to delay its review of Youngkin administration revisions — it is worth noting how poorly Virginia students mastered the old standards. More than one-third of Virginia students failed the 2021-2022 HSS tests.

Of all the HSS tests administered in every grade, according to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) data, only three had a pass rate of 70% or higher.

Grade 6 Civics & Economics — 71.5%
Grade 8 Civics & Economics — 70.5%
Grade 8 Geography — 73.4%

The highest pass rate for the twelve History and Social Science SOL tests for 10th, 11th and 12th grades was 50.8% for 10th-grade Geography. The other eleven pass rates ranged from 24.5% to 46.6%.

Considering the 2021-2022 test scores, why would anyone object to a different approach?

Chesapeake Walmart Tragedy

by Kerry Dougherty

Ask them.

Someone please ask the knee-jerk lefties who joined the Greek Chorus of “we must do more to end gun violence” last week just what “we” — the government, I suppose — could have done to prevent the massacre of six Walmart employees in their Chesapeake break room last Tuesday.

Ask them.

I’ll wait.

An assault weapon ban? Uh, no. That wouldn’t have prevented this. He used a pistol.

One gun a month? Nope. The shooter only bought one gun.

Short of a total ban on firearms, which would have to include confiscation of every weapon in the country, there is no law that would have saved these innocent lives from this homicidal maniac.

That’s the sad, but awful truth. Continue reading

The Curious Case of Anthony Johnson

The mark of slave-turned-master Anthony Johnson. Source: Wikipedia

by James A. Bacon

The man who would come to be known by the English name of Anthony Johnson was born in the Angola region of southern Africa, enslaved by the Portuguese, and transported to Virginia for sale. There he was sold to a colonist, and then resold to a merchant planter by the name of Edward Bennet around the year 1622. None of the American colonies had yet legalized slavery — Massachusetts would be the first in 1641; Virginia would not follow until 1661 — and the only legal framework for bondage was indentured servitude. Accordingly, Johnson entered his service to Bennet as an indentured servant.

Bennet sent some 50 servants, including Johnson, to a point on the James River to clear grounds for a tobacco plantation. The following month, the party was attacked by the Powhatan Confederacy headed by Chief Opechancanough, who was bent upon exterminating and expelling the English colonists. Johnson was one of only a  handful of survivors. After that harrowing episode, he proceeded to serve out his term as a servant and was given his freedom. As was standard practice at the time, he was given tools and allotted land. He settled along the Pungoteague River on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

An enterprising man, Bennet took advantage of the so-called “headrights” system, in which anyone who imported labor to the colony was granted 50 acres per head. By acquiring a dozen or more servants — some English, some of African origin — he built an estate of more than 1,000 acres, which he named Angola. Thus, Johnson was one of the only — perhaps the only — documented instance in history of an African who became the master of White Englishmen in the American colonies. Continue reading