Tax that man behind the tree. As Congress works to pass a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package a group of “moderate” Democrats are threatening to block the spending bill unless the State and Local Tax (SALT) caps are repealed. Prior to Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, state and local taxes were fully deductible on federal income tax returns (for itemized filers). The 2017 tax law, passed at the urging of Donald Trump, limited the SALT deduction to $10,000. This cap has long rankled Democrats elected to office in high-tax, high-spending locales such as the New York metropolitan area and San Francisco. Closer to home the cap also impacts people living in Virginia’s high-cost, high-tax areas like Northern Virginia. Continue reading
Fiasco. The hasty and chaotic withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan has shocked politicians from both sides of the aisle. Virginia’s own Senator Mark Warner, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, will work with other committees to investigate how the US was caught off guard by the Taliban’s quick victory. The Hill quotes Warner as saying, “As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces.” Warner correctly adds, “We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”
Warner described the images from Afghanistan as “devastating.” Continue reading
Stolen without a gun. NBC News is reporting that hackers and scammers have pulled off “an epic theft” of COVID benefits. Foreign and domestic criminals have looted tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. As reported, “The federal government cannot say for sure how much of the more than $900 billion in pandemic-related unemployment relief has been stolen, but credible estimates range from $87 million to $400 billion — at least half of which went to foreign criminals, law enforcement officials say.” In other words, more money could have been stolen from the jobless benefits program than the U.S. spends on K-12 education in a year. Continue reading
May I call you Glenn? Glenn, we are neighbors. We’re roughly the same age. If you object to me calling you Glenn I suggest you stop reading this article now. It’s only going to go downhill from here. Dude, you need to wake up! Belay that You need to wake the hell up. And I use “hell” only because Jim Bacon won’t let me use the word I really want to use on his blog. I was watching the Washington Football Team play last night from my usual perch at Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls. I saw endless commercials from your campaign. Ineffective would be the polite term. Sucks out loud is my term. Seriously, buddy … you think small business is good? That’s your point? Really? I happen to own a small business in Virginia. I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Small business is good? Now what? And I’m on your side. I voted for McAuliffe when he ran against Cuccinelli because the Cooch was too radical even for me. I won’t be voting for the Macker this fall. I saw his efforts as governor. Never again. You’ve got my vote unless some kind of Northam blackface incident comes up. Now, let’s talk about how you get more votes than just mine. Continue reading
To vax or not to vax? I’m vaccinated. I think everybody who is eligible to be vaccinated should get vaccinated. Jim Bacon makes the excellent point that people who are vaccinated may still get COVID but are far less likely to die from the virus. Others believe that vaccinations will confer herd immunity to the population as a whole if only enough people get vaccinated. Not so claims a world renowned virologist. Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group and a leading epidemiologist, calls herd immunity from the Delta variant “not a possibility” and “mythical.” If herd immunity really is “mythical,” is there a public health basis to mandate vaccines? The pro vax mandate crowd has continually compared the COVID vaccinations to vaccinations against diseases like polio. But if herd immunity is “not a possibility,” where do we stand? Continue reading
Is cannabis legal in Virginia? Most followers of this blog are aware of the recent legislative efforts in Virginia to decriminalize and then legalize the possession of intoxicating marijuana by adults. Most followers of this blog believe that Virginia is presently in a twilight world where recreational possession of intoxicating marijuana is legal while the sale of such marijuana is illegal. Most followers of this blog are wrong.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and sale of hemp based products so long as those products contained almost no delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound in THC that (usually) gets people high. Unfortunately for the federal legislation there is no prohibition on delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-8 as it’s called has a mild intoxicating effect. The apparent assumption in the 2018 Farm Bill was that Delta-8 was not a problem in the quantities found in non-intoxicating hemp products. Then along came the free market. Legal hemp products are being used to extract Delta-8 in quantities and potencies easily sufficient to intoxicate a person consuming the substance. Intoxicating marijuana products based on Delta-8 are publicly and legally on sale across the country including in Virginia. So, the sale of intoxicating marijuana products is currently legal in Virginia. Continue reading
D.C. Statehood. There has been a long running chorus of cries for D.C. residents to have full representation in Congress. From “Taxation Without Representation” slogans on D.C. license plates to the Biden Administration’s calls for DC to become the 51st state … this debate has gone on for a while. Most discussion devolves into pure politics. D.C. would bring two more liberal U.S. senators and a liberal U.S. Representative who can vote. People either love or hate that idea. Back in May I wrote a column on this blog about Northern Virginia joining D.C. in the 51st state. In this column I’d like to put aside the politics and focus on the ethical considerations for making D.C. a state.
Because they’re Americans. The nearly 700,000 residents of Washington, D.C., pay their full share of federal taxes. Residents of D.C. were subject to be drafted in times of war, fought and died in our country’s battles and are required to obey all laws passed by Congress. In other words, D.C. residents have all the responsibilities of American citizenship. However, they are not represented in the U.S. Congress. They have no senators and their one representative can’t vote. The biggest ethical reason to make D.C. a state is so its citizens have all the rights of being American, including the right to representation in Congress. Continue reading
by DJ Rippert
The big lie. Various intellectuals, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, have repeatedly put forth the falsehood that funding for public K-12 education in America has been decreasing. In fact, the opposite is true. However, the number of times that false claims about defunding public education have been made, published and (eventually) retracted / corrected leaves one wondering whether these are uninformed errors or an effort to repeat a “big lie” in the hope that Americans will come to accept the lie.
Falsehood. Publication. Eventual correction. Repeat. An Op-Ed piece in the Washington Examiner penned by Corey DeAngelis documents disturbing cases of factual errors about education funding made by so-called experts and published by so-called professional news outlets. In each case, the error was eventually corrected. However, those corrections were made days after the original false statement. Continue reading
by D.J. Rippert
Mom at home. An article from The Center Square summarizes a number of studies relating COVID-19, school policies during the pandemic, and the number of women in the workforce. A study by the journal “Gender & Society” characterized the matter as a “tidal wave of women” leaving the workforce in 2020. Center Square notes that, “Researchers found that women primarily left the workforce (in addition to layoffs and job closures) to help educate their children when schools reverted to virtual learning and children were no longer physically at school.” Statistics indicate that the employment gap between mothers and fathers was less in states where the schools stayed open for in-person instruction, either full-time or part-time. As the article states, “But the gap grew by an average of 5% in states where only virtual learning was offered, such as in California, Delaware and Virginia.” Continue reading
State flag of New Columbia (including NoVa)?
By Don Rippert
Taxation without representation. The Democratic Party’s control of Congress and the White House has reopened the question of statehood for Washington, DC. This is not a new issue. The question of statehood for D.C. has been actively debated since 1980. Since the 98th Congress, more than a dozen statehood bills have been introduced. Two made it out of committee. The closest any bill came to success was a 1993 effort that was defeated 277 to 193 in the US House of Representatives. Support for D.C. statehood lies almost entirely along party lines with Democrats favoring statehood since it would yield two U.S. Senators and one Representative — all of whom would almost certainly be liberal Democrats. Republican opposition has been insurmountable over the years. Maybe a major repackaging of the idea of statehood for D.C. could break the logjam. Continue reading
By Don Rippert
Warm up the bongs. Adults in Virginia will be able to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use starting July 1. The bill originally passed by the General Assembly would have delayed that date until July 1, 2024. However, Governor Ralph Northam amended the bill and, after some haggling, the General Assembly accepted the amended bill. Unsurprisingly, the bill that ultimately passed got more than a little frayed in the back and forth between the General Assembly and the Governor. Continue reading
by Don Rippert
Double Gus, all the way. Students who attended The University of Virginia going all the way back to 1953 are likely to be familiar with the White Spot “restaurant.” The term “restaurant” is in quotes because The Spot, as it is affectionately known, is a hole in the wall that originally had 11 stools all in a row along a counter directly across from the stovetop. At some point The Spot expanded to include the adjacent space where a few simple tables sit. As for the food… The Spot never served alcohol but still managed to attract lines of UVA students out the door waiting for a stool. Enough said. The hallmark dish was the Gus burger. The Gusburger was a mainstay of The Spot going back at least to 1977 (and probably much further). It was a cheeseburger or double cheeseburger with a fried egg on top. And this was long before the trend of putting eggs on burgers became a common fad.
Everybody wondered what would become of the beloved Spot given the Coronavirus shutdowns. A cramped space like The White Spot was not expected to fare well. But suddenly … Good news! An icon has come to save an icon. UVa and NBA basketball legend Ralph Sampson has teamed with businessman Bert Ellis to buy The White Spot. Best of all, they insist that maintaining the classic look, feel and menu of The Spot is job #1. Continue reading
by DJ Rippert
Author’s note. There is a story circulating about a private Facebook group focused on Loudoun County schools that is keeping an “enemies list” of people opposed to Critical Race Theory (CRT) as it is being used in the Loudoun County Public Schools. The members of the group reportedly include teachers, parents, school board members and at least one prosecutor. Some within the group have reportedly gone so far as to seek hackers to compromise the websites of groups opposing CRT in Loudoun County.
I initially picked up this story from an article in The Bull Elephant written by Jeanine Martin. The story was titled, “Loudoun County teachers plot war of harassment against parents and others who disagree with racial curriculum.” That article, published Tuesday, relied on information from Townhall.com and The Daily Wire. I was not sufficiently confident in those sources to either ask for permission to repost Ms. Martin’s article or to write my own summary. However, the story continued to gain traction yesterday and today in the conservative media Fox News and The Washington Times have picked up on the story. Finally, there is a direct quote attributed to a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (Kraig Troxell) stating, “The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the situation and the information has been forwarded to our criminal investigations division to review the matter.” Given that, I believe there is something going on that merits the attention of Bacon’s Rebellion readers. Continue reading
by D.J. Rippert
Slow burn. The General Assembly passed marijuana legislation and sent it to the governor to sign. However, almost nobody seems satisfied with the bill as it is written. Now Governor Ralph Northam must decide whether to sign the bill, veto the bill, or ask for the bill to be amended. As he ponders his next move, he is getting a lot of advice from different directions.
While there are many issues with the proposed legislation, the timeline for recreational legalization of possession is arguably the biggest problem. The legislation, as written, would legalize recreational marijuana possession and sale in 2024. Yes, more than three full years from now. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people including Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas, who wrote on social media, “Kicking the can down the road has the effect of continued over policing people of color.” Sen Lucas would like to see marijuana legalized on July 1, 2021. Continue reading
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Tagged DJ Rippert, Don Rippert, marijuana, marijuana reforma
by DJ Rippert
Joltin’ Joe. President Joe Biden increased his planned administration of the Coronavirus vaccine from 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office to 150 million doses. Given that the United States is already distributing around one million doses per day Biden almost had to increase his plan if he wanted to make good on his campaign promise of an aggressive rollout of the vaccine. Biden added to his new plans by claiming that anybody who wants a Coronavirus vaccine will be able to get vaccinated by “spring.” Yet even Biden’s newly found optimism about the pace of vaccine distribution was insufficient for some people. An Op-Ed in the New York Times urged the president to strive for 200 million doses in his first 100 days.
Unfortunately, the planned acceleration at the Federal level will be of little use in Virginia unless the Commonwealth finds a way to accelerate its administration of the vaccines received. As of yesterday, Virginia was dead last in administration of the vaccines it has already received. Number fifty out of fifty states. Or, number 52 out of 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. This miserable performance obviously renders any acceleration by the Feds moot in Virginia. If we can’t administer more than 42.22% of the vaccines we received at a one million doses per day at the national level, what good will it do for the Feds to go to one-and-a-half million doses per day or even two million doses per day? The case could easily and logically be made that the accelerated distribution of vaccine doses by the Feds should be limited to states that have shown the competence to distribute the doses they have already received. That would clearly exclude Virginia. Continue reading