Author Archives: James A. Bacon

Cuccinelli Gives His Take on Youngkin’s Election

Ken Cuccinelli. Photo credit: USA Today

by Bruce Majors

Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2013, spoke to a breakfast of conservative activists Wednesday, and expressed glee about Terry McAuliffe’s election loss.

“Terry beat me by two and a half percent in 2013, and Glenn Youngkin beat him by two and a half percent this year,” Cuccinelli said. “When I ran against McAuliffe he had no record, having never held office, and he hid, making the minimal amount of campaign appearances. He was the fresh face. This time his opponent Glenn Youngkin was the fresh face, and McAuliffe spent the campaign whining that he was releasing hundreds of pages of White Papers, but no one paid any attention. Except journalists, who are Democrats, but even they fact checked McAuliffe and said he was lying about his record.”

Cuccinelli’s most interesting remarks were in reply to a question from an Arlington first responder, who wanted to know what Governor Youngkin or the Virginia GOP would be doing about county vaccine mandates for government employees. Continue reading

Brace Yourself for Omicron… and Omicron Hysteria

Pre-Omicron: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia. Source: Virginia Department of Health

by James A. Bacon

The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has set foot (perhaps I should say set its little viral spikes) in California, and it is only a matter of days (perhaps hours) before it arrives in Virginia. How worried should we be?

Some will dismiss the virus as nothing special, nothing to divert us from business as usual — the virus is said to have mild symptoms, after all. Others will engage in non-stop fear porn — we don’t know what we don’t know about the variant! Most of us, I suspect, will take a wait-and-see attitude before either blowing it off and putting ourselves at unnecessary risk or subjecting ourselves to another round of economy-wrecking, school-debilitating government mandates.

Personally, I incline toward the former response. The virus isn’t going away; it will continue mutating, and we have to learn to live with it just as we live with the flu. Maintaining a permanent regime of shutdowns and restrictions has massive unintended consequences, from medical procedures foregone to increased social isolation, depression, substance abuse and suicide; from supply-side disruptions to a massive and unsustainable run-up in the federal debt. Continue reading

Omicron: It’s Here!

by Kerry Dougherty

He could barely contain his glee. He was positively giddy.

I’m talking about White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci who held a press conference yesterday to declare that the long-awaited moment had arrived: We had our first confirmed case of the Covid omicron variant.


Now the government has an excuse — however flimsy — to institute more arbitrary rules and extend others all while quietly nudging governors to crack down on civil liberties just in time for the holidays. Continue reading

Virginia Consumers Are Getting Cranky

The Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment published by Roanoke College.

For commentary on the graph, see The Roanoke Star.

More Bacon Bits

Mia Love to Speak at UVa. Mia Love, the first Black Republican woman elected to Congress, will deliver a speech at the University of Virginia tomorrow, addressing the topic, “Preserving the American Tradition.” Love’s address is the second in a series of events bringing outside conservative voices to UVa sponsored by The Jefferson Council. For details, click here.

Police shortages not just for big cities. The City of Lynchburg Police Department has 28 open positions, and recruiting new officers is difficult. In 2010, the department saw between 1,500 and 2,000 applicants. Last year, it had only 342 applicants. “Officers are just getting into a profession that they don’t feel like they’re valued in a lot of times, unfortunately,” Police Chief Ryan Zuidema told WSET News. As a consequence, response times to 911 calls are slower, he said. Part of the problem is that Lynchburg police tend to be younger and have less experience. Another is that mental health calls are taking officers off the streets. “On any given night or any given day, we have multiple police officers sitting at the hospital with mental health patients, and those officers are not available to respond to calls for service.”

Another one bites the dust. The Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals has turned down requests from two solar energy companies to convert hundreds of acres near the community of Axton into solar farms, according to The Martinsville Bulletin. Henry County’s solar ordinance calls for no more than 2.5% of the land area within a five-mile radius to be devoted to solar, and one solar farm already operates in the Axton area. “Solar energy is here, and it’s the future, but Axton doesn’t need to be the epicenter of it,” said zoning director Lee Clark. Solar projects are being approved in Virginia, but arguably not enough to meet the requirements of the Virginia Clean Energy Act to decarbonize Virginia’s electric grid by 2050.

UVa Board Ponders Tuition Increase

After freezing tuition (but not room, board or fees) this academic year, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors is considering raising tuition and fees between 3.5% and 4.9% for the 2022-23 academic year and the year after that, reports The Daily Progress.

The Board had considered a 3.1% boost in tuition last year, but deferred the rate increase out of concern that the COVID pandemic had created financial hardship for many students. Meanwhile, in the past year there has been a spike in inflation-driven operating costs such as utilities and faculty/staff salaries.

Offsetting inflation, UVa saw a 49% return on its investment portfolio last year, boosting the size of its endowment to $14.5 billion. It might be difficult justifying a significant tuition hike after adding $4 billion to $5 billion to its endowment.

Between tuition, fees, room and board, the estimated cost for an in-state undergraduate student to attend UVa this year is about $34,560. The cost is about $70,000 for out-of-state students.


Bacons Bits: Personnel Is Policy Edition

Is Charlottesville ungovernable? In the latest example of revolving-door leadership in the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, Marc Woolley has withdrawn from his appointment as interim city manager just a day prior to his start date. According to the Daily Progress, Woolley had faced questions from the newspaper about his resignation from two previous jobs and multiple lawsuits in which he was named when working in other states. Woolley’s withdrawal, notes the newspaper, follows the departure of five city managers in three years. It’s bad news when a city can’t hang onto a city manager. It’s downright dysfunctional when a city can’t even appoint an interim city manager.

Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out. As the Northam administration winds down, Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni has left his post to take a job managing the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article published today emphasizes Qarni’s efforts to “solve modern-day school segregation,” particularly his efforts to “diversify” the state’s 19 elite Governor’s Schools. “Former Secretary Qarni has served Virginia’s students well, and I am proud of the work we have done together to support public education and raise teacher pay,” said Governor Ralph Northam. 

Neither Northam nor the RTD took note of the fact that under Qarni’s leadership, Virginia schools experienced among the lowest rates of in-person learning among the 5o states during the COVID epidemic, that Virginia students saw unprecedented drops in the Standards of Learning test scores, or that the gap between Asian/White and Black/Hispanic test scores got worse during his tenure.

Cop Who Shot Donovan Lynch Acted in Self Defense

by Kerry Dougherty

On a balmy spring Friday night last March — the 26th to be exact — the Virginia Beach resort strip was packed with young people as an orgy of violence exploded. By the time the gunfire stopped and the crowds were dispersed, 10 people had been shot. Two were dead. And scores of gun casings were retrieved from the area around 19th Street.

A brief special grand jury report, released to the public yesterday, described the scene as one of “chaos” and a “war zone.”

The jurors concluded that a police officer who shot and killed Donovan Lynch during the melee acted in self-defense.

Cue the anti-cop outrage. Continue reading

VCU Is Top-Heavy with Administrators, Faculty Group Says

Source: VCU Chapter, American Association of University Professors

by James A. Bacon

Virginia Commonwealth University is deploying the revenue from tuition increases to expand administrative staff rather than hire more tenure-track faculty and improve the educational experience of its students, charges the VCU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in a just-released paper, “A Report on the Administrative Structure at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Between fiscal 2019 and 2020, VCU increased salary outlays for management employees by $10.5 million, or 13.6%, according to data contained in the report. Over the same period, tuition revenue increased $13.1 million, or 3.8%. In other words, higher payroll for management amounted to 80% of the new revenue raised from the tuition increase that year.

“As an institution, VCU is responding to the crisis in higher education in the least effective way possible — hiring more and more administrators and non-instructional employees — rather than investing in the core, intertwined missions of education and research,” concludes the paper, which will be presented as written comments to the VCU Board of Visitors next month. Continue reading

What Criteria Are We Looking For In University Board Members?

by James A. Bacon

As Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin selects cabinet members and other key members of his administration, he has more pressing concerns to occupy his attention at this moment than replacing members on Virginia’s public university boards whose terms don’t expire until June 30. But as soon as he has the opportunity to do so, he needs to give serious thought to the criteria he will use to select these new board members.

I argued recently that Youngkin should look for individuals willing to support academic freedom and oppose the excesses of the “social justice” movement in Virginia’s system of higher education. He needs pugnacious advocates willing to endure controversy, hostility and ostracism to change campus cultures that are evolving into intellectual monocultures harmful to free inquiry, free speech, and free expression.

Since posting that column, I have received feedback that I thought was worth sharing from a prominent board member of a Virginia university. He made the case that Virginia has a system in place to take some of the politics out of the selection process. With the caveat that colleges and universities have become so politicized that appointing “non-political” board members itself has the political implication of maintaining the status quo, I think my correspondent has a point. Enthusiasm for reforming a decadent academic culture is not, in and of itself, sufficient to qualify someone for a board seat. Continue reading

New COVID Data Displays

Rates of infection per 100,000 (Jan. 17 through Nov. 20, 2021. Source: Virginia Department of Health

The Virginia Department of Health is now publishing a graph that compares the COVID-19 infection rate by vaccination status. The graph above, based on 2021 data, shows that unvaccinated people have confirmed COVID-19 infections at a rate 4.6 times that of fully vaccinated people and 2.2 times that of partially vaccinated people. Continue reading

Omigod, Omicron Is Coming!

by Kerry Dougherty

I’ve seen this movie before. And I’m not buying a ticket this time.

I’m talking about the latest remake in the theater of the absurd: “A New COVID Variant Is Coming! We’re All Going To Die!”

Fear hustlers managed to spook the stock markets on Friday with panic porn about a variant detected in South Africa among a handful of healthy people being tested for travel.

Naturally the nation’s biggest attention whore, Anthony Fauci, was on the Sunday shows hinting at the possibility that more lockdowns and mandates could be coming. (When he wasn’t weirdly dabbling in politics and bringing up January 6th, that is.)

If there’s one thing public health officials learned during the pandemic it’s that scaring the bejabbers out of the populace is the best way to prepare them to knuckle under and surrender their civil rights. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Crime and Delusion Edition

Another drive-by, two more dead. Family, friends and community leaders gathered a week ago to remember 14-year-old Rah’quan Logan, who was murdered at a Richmond community store, in a drive-by shooting. Nine-year-old Abduel Bani-Ahmad, whose family owned the store, died in the same incident, in which occupants of an SUV drove past the store and let loose a hail of bullets. The boys’ deaths brought the number of slain in Richmond this year to 82, compared to 75 in 2020, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. JJ Minor, president of the Richmond branch of the NAACP urged fellow Richmonders and parents to take action. “I’m tired of marches, I’m tired of rallies, I’m tired of waiting on government,” he said. “We have to repair the village. We have to rebuild the village.”

Meanwhile, police morale continues to plummet. WTVR News tells of three-year Richmond police veteran Brenda Ruiz, who is calling it quits. She is one of 102 police officers who have either retired, quit or transferred this year, leaving the Richmond Police Department with a 600-person headcount, or 150 short. One issue can be solved easily, should City Council choose to make it a priority: raise police pay. The other problem is not so easy to fix — the lack of respect from local politicians. Amid last year’s social-justice protests and riots,” said Ruiz, “at least two of the City Council members made us look like the bad guys. … A lot of the time our command staff has their hands tied, and they can’t do much for us.” Continue reading

A Speech Notable for Its Banality, Vanity and Hypocrisy

by William L. Respess

“A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.”
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), former governor of Illinois and twice unsuccessful democratic candidate for president against Dwight Eisenhower.

I assume most persons aware of the turbulent year that the Virginia Military Institute just transited have also informed themselves of the content of Governor Northam’s speech delivered on the evening of November 15 just past. As an alumnus (class 0f 1961), I expected it likely to be as memorable as his now famous (perhaps “notorious is a better descriptor) letter of October 19, 2020, in which he and a cohort of other Virginia Democrat politicians flayed VMI, his alma mater, with the accusation of “our deep concern about the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism” at the Institute. Burdened with that expectation, I thought reading it would propel me into a state of high dudgeon. It didn’t. Instead, I found the speech to be flaccid and unmemorable. Continue reading

White Supremacists Are Pathetic Broke Losers

Mathew Heimbach in front of the Charlottesville courthouse in 2017. Photo credit: AP

by James A. Bacon

The mainstream media portrays white supremacists as an ever-present danger to the republic, and heavy hitters from the New York Times to the Washington Post gave the trial of White nationalist leaders in Charlottesville daily coverage. At last an article has been published that portrays the racists as the broke, pathetic — dare I say “marginalized” — losers that they are.

The Associated Press says that the nine people who sued the organizers of the United the Right rally in 2017 might have won a $26 million judgment, but they aren’t likely to collect much. As the article states, “Most of the defendants claim they will never have the money needed to pay off the judgments against them.”

“I have no assets. I have no property. You can’t get blood from a stone,” said Matthew Heimbach, co-founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Heimbach is a single father to two young sons, works at a factory and lives paycheck to paycheck. The plaintiffs, he said, “just wasted $20 million to try and play Whac-a-Mole.” Continue reading