Author Archives: Robin Beres

Roanoke County Quietly Extends Contract For $109,000 Year Registrar But Questions Persist

by Scott Dreyer

For many historical and cultural reasons, America has traditionally been what sociologists call a “high-trust” society. As reported in this report from the Pew Research Center, cultures with high trust (such as Canada and Sweden) usually have low crime and corruption while the reverse (such as South Africa and Peru) is also true.

Unfortunately, polls show Americans’ trust in major institutions has been on a downward slope for the past 15 years or so. Gallup first measured confidence in institutions in 1973 and has done so annually since 1993. A Gallup poll from June 2022 showed significant declines for 11 of the 16 institutions tested and no improvements for any.

Those who expressed “a great deal” of confidence in the three branches of the federal government, newspapers, TV news, big tech, and the criminal justice system were all at 26% or below.

On the issue of voting, most Americans have generally trusted the system, although documented cases of stolen elections exist. One example is the 1948 Democrat primary Senate runoff in Texas. Then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson (D) was initially behind until some mysteriously “uncounted ballots” were found in a ballot box called Box 13. Johnson then won with an 87-vote margin, earning him the nickname “Landslide Lyndon.” Johnson went on to defeat the Republican candidate in November and from the Senate later became John F. Kennedy’s vice president and then president after JFK’s assassination. Continue reading

NAEP Before and After COVID

by John Butcher

We’ve been hearing about the post-COVID declines in scores on the National Assessment of Educational Process (NAEP) tests. The NAEP database offers some (in fact, an abundance of) details.

Here, as a small sample, are the 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics data for the nation and Virginia.

First, reading:

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Hey Amanda, Woman-Up and Let It Go

by Andrea Epps

It’s no secret that I was thrilled to watch Glen Sturtevant’s name replace Amanda Chase’s on the election night ticker. However, this isn’t about my disdain for Chase, nor my approval of Sturtevant; I don’t even know him.

This is about simple math and what I believe to be a last-ditch effort at a con job by a professional.

I’m sure not many people expected Amanda Chase to do the right thing and concede with grace. No, most of us expected some post-primary cry of foul. I did expect, however, that her foul cry would be based on something that made sense, and it doesn’t.

Since Tuesday, Chase has hit the airwaves and social media with the claim that the early voting in Chesterfield County was rigged. This accusation is ridiculous on its face to anyone who knows about elections in Chesterfield. The registrar’s office has been run like a Swiss watch for years, but even that doesn’t matter in this case. Continue reading

Occupational Hazard, 4 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

Two recent signs of the deterioration of journalism. One is this comment from President Biden to a gaggle of reporters:

I hear some of you guys saying is, ‘Why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is?’ Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that’s going to help me get it passed? No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well.

The second is this, from Harrisonburg Patch, a news aggregator:

A 33-year-old teacher at James Madison Middle School has been accused of soliciting inappropriate pictures from a student, leading to criminal charges against him. The alleged incident involved the teacher requesting pictures from a student at the school where he was employed, according to the police. The teacher has been arrested.

The first is obvious. Biden mocked the press corps for its reporting skills, and the press corps reported it as a Biden idiosyncrasy instead of as a failing on their part. The second, a little less so. The algorithm saw James Madison and thought Harrisonburg, even though the school is in Maryland. And it showed up in my email as a local story, which is a little jarring considering my wife, Deb, chairs the School Board.
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Occupational Hazard, 3 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

In “A Pirate Looks at Forty” Jimmy Buffett describes the dilemma of one for whom the cannon doesn’t thunder: “My occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around.” He could be describing journalists as well.

Journalism and piracy aren’t the only occupations disappearing, of course. The Chronicle of Higher Education and other pricey academic newsletters report regularly that universities are turning out more English and history doctorates than there are jobs to accommodate them. The magazine isn’t as worried about the loss of journalism jobs, possibly because journalists aren’t their audience. A site search of The Chronicle turns up 59 mentions of “journalism major,” mostly in job listings, and 268 mentions of “English major,” including this one:

Becoming an English major means pursuing the most important subject of all — being a human being. We’re sorry. Something went wrong.

I’m allowing for the possibility the search engine’s comments may be involved in that response. Still, something has gone wrong. The Daily News-Record is running stories about the Warren County sheriff to fill space with seemingly local stories. Six Virginia dailies will soon publish only three days a week, and by mail. The kid that started out delivering papers and wound up as a reporter will have to go back to the lemonade stand for spending money.
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Occupational Hazard, 2 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

A perceptive friend recently spoke to me about press releases his outfit would send to the Daily News-Record back in the day. He said they always wound up in the paper with small inaccuracies, and his perception was that the releases were handed to the least experienced reporters to teach them how to type and rewrite.

I know it looked like that from the outside, I explained, but what actually happened was that I gave them to the least experienced reporters to teach them how to type and rewrite. I was happy to be able to clear that up.

We ran Valley Briefs, Business Briefs, Real Estate Briefs, not to mention the ones in non-news sections of the paper. They piled up on my desk until a reporter needed make-work, or mild punishment, or until I got tired of looking at them. They came back and went into another pile, from whence I’d compare them to the reporter’s efforts to see if they — the release or the reporters — had improved. Nine out of 10 were improved, either in AP style or news sense or clarity, and I caught the errors in half of the remainder. That success rate may not have been as obvious to someone who saw “attorney” changed to “lawyer,” “firm” changed to “company,” parentheses changed to dashes, or John Smith changed to William Johnson.
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Occupational Hazard, 1 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

Harrisonburg police rescued a possible abduction victim one day last month after shooting the apparent perpetrator. A city press release said a domestic dispute on Old Furnace Road around 6:30 p.m. turned into an abduction. Police pursued the suspect’s vehicle to downtown, where they shot the suspect, who was apparently armed. The suspect was flown to UVa hospital and the victim was safe.

At least that’s what I got out of a Daily News Record story that included the line, “The pursuit ended in front of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office following an officer-involved shooting that ultimately injured the suspect.”

Journalism is dead. Or, in the same jargon as the press release, “Journalism ended following a Craigslist-involved financial loss that ultimately ate the newspapers’ lunch.”
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Colleges Falsely Claim Juneteenth Was ‘The Day Slavery Ended in the U.S.’

by Hans Bader

Many colleges and progressives are claiming that Juneteenth — June 19, 1865 — was “the day slavery ended” in the U.S. But slavery actually remained legal in Kentucky and Delaware until December 6, 1865, the day the Thirteenth Amendment’s ban on slavery went into effect.

Yale University has a web site titled, “Juneteenth: Remembering the day slavery ended in the U.S.” Similarly, Bill Nye, the self-proclaimed “science guy,” claimed that “the last” slaves “were not freed (officially) until June 19, 1865.”

These claims are not true. As the London Daily Mail notes, the last slaves were not legally freed until six months later, when “the 13th Amendment fully prohibited the owning of slaves, spurring states such as Kentucky and Delaware – where it had still been legal – to cease the practice.” Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation only declared slaves free if they were held in areas that had been controlled by Confederate rebels, not in slave states that remained loyal to the union, such as Delaware and Kentucky.
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Light Rail: Idiotic Idea In 2016. Idiotic Idea Now.

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach voters THOUGHT they drove a stake through the heart of the absurd plan to bring light rail to the city after an overwhelming vote in 2016 against the nutty, developer-driven boondoggle.

But never underestimate cultists with an agenda. You know, developers who believe taxpayers have a duty to open their wallets to help THEM get rich. Or climate kooks who don’t understand a cost/benefit analysis.

No surprise, then, they’re back. Some shadowy online group is beginning to push a bad idea that was buried in a landslide 7 years ago.
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Cash On Hand Determining Outcomes in Virginia Senate Primaries

by Shaun Kenney

On 20 June, Virginians in both political parties will be selecting their nominees for the November elections to the General Assembly.

Virginia Democrats seem to be caught in a literal death spiral of trying to out-abortion one another, as flyers are going about accusing certain candidates of being “pro-life” while others proudly announce their fanatical desire to stack the dead baby pile higher than their opposition.

Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans as an electorate seem to be keeping to the Buckley Rule, nominating the most conservative candidates that can win in the November general election. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more contested seats in Virginia (gratuitously stolen numbers from our friends at the Virginia Political Newsletter):

• Amanda Chase (R)
— $100,026 raised
–$19,199 cash on hand
• Glen Sturtevant (R)
— $203,945 raised
— $112,882 cash on hand
• Tina Ramirez (R)
–$218,281 raised
— $31,991 cash on hand
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The Problem Isn’t Guns, It’s Richmond

by Shaun Kenney

Do you ever sit around and wish that a public figure would actually stand up and call out a problem for what it is? Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears is out there doing just that when it comes to Richmond’s rising tide of violence.

Virginia Democrats have responded to last week’s tragedy at Monroe Park, which killed 2 and wounded 17, with the usual tropes. Blame guns — which if one believes other leftist tropes about fearful gun owners clinging to their firearms and Bibles, you might wonder why all of rural Virginia isn’t some dystopian hell scape.

Instead, the dystopian hell scape seems to be centered in polities where Democrats are imposing their own utopian visions of a safe and secure society only to discover their policies are delivering neither safety nor security.
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Prediction: General Assembly Elections*

by D. J. McGuire

Election Day is five months out; early voting begins in a little more than three months. Primary Day isn’t for another week and a half. Still, yours truly is ready to make my first asterisk-heavy prediction on who will win the General Assembly in November. The prediction is based on assumptions driven by current facts. Should those facts change, the assumptions and the prediction change. Hence the asterisk(s). The prediction itself comes from my belief that the assumptions will hold up.

The GOP Case for Optimism
I begin with what happened in 2021 (Republican +7 House of Delegates seats, flipped chamber), and examine the differences from then to now that would impact the 2023 result. For the Republican Party of Virginia, two factors argue for a change in their favor.

First, Glenn Youngkin has gone from largely unknown candidate to minimally successful governor. That change is impactful: no incumbent governor of Virginia has seen their party suffer a genuine mid-term loss in 20 years — and even that — Mark Warner losing a State Senate seat – came as he picked up a few delegates in 2003. To find a governing party suffering serious losses in a Virginia mid-term, you have to go back to 1991.

To some extent, many of Youngkin’s predecessors had the advantage of a politically unpopular foil in the White House. That said, so does Youngkin (538), which is the second factor in the GOP’s favor.

Assuming Youngkin can maintain his approval rating at about 50 percent (probably) and keep his party together (not so likely, see below), he would expect to keep the House of Delegates under GOP control at least. Continue reading

Pat Robertson, 1930-2023

by Kerry Dougherty

To those of us who live in Virginia Beach, Pat Robertson, who died yesterday at the age of 93, was more than just a religious broadcaster who ran for president in 1988.

He was a man who built a television network, a university, a major charity, and a law school in our city. His enterprises provided good jobs to thousands of folks and his international evangelization put Virginia Beach in the spotlight.

Yet politics was also in Pat’s blood. He was, after all, the son of a prominent U.S. Senator, A. Willis Robertson, a conservative Democrat who served in that chamber from 1946 to 1966. When Pat stunned pundits by finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, he established evangelical Christians as a powerful bloc in the Republican Party.

Pat Robertson was loathed by the left and by most members of the media. Yet reporters found him curiously addictive and waited for him to say something they thought was kooky on The 700 Club so they could mock him and invite late-night talk show hosts to join in.

There were eye rolls and outright groans whenever the local newspaper had to cover Robertson. You see, the media instinctively distrusts most Christians and almost all Republicans.

Trust me on this one. I was on the inside for decades. Continue reading

Town of Bedford Honors June 6 D-Day

by Scott Dreyer

World War II saw conflict across Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the oceans of the world. However, the charming Central Virginia town of Bedford is the site of the famous D-Day Memorial. Bedford sent 35 men to land at Normandy, France.

The memorial honors the 19 local boys who died on June 6, 1944, in the heroic struggle to liberate Europe from Nazism. Before the end of that campaign, four more Bedford boys lost their lives. Bedford’s mind-numbing 65 percent death rate means that on a per capita basis, the town sacrificed more residents than any other American community in that epic fight between good and evil.

Because of the fog of war and poor communication then, horrific news of those casualties did not begin to come into Bedford until July 17th, a month and a half after D-Day, when the first 11 deaths were reported. Reports of the other deaths trickled in over the following days and weeks.

Notably, since telegraph messages then were sent from town to town, news of Bedford’s losses first came through the Western Union telegraph office in Roanoke. One Roanoker had the terrible task at work of sending these five words to the Bedford office: “Good morning, we have casualties.”

“The youngest one was just about to turn 21 and the oldest was 30,” said Linda Parker, co-director of the Company A Bedford Boys Tribute Center.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke at Tuesday’s commemoration (June 6th) at the D-Day Memorial to honor the 79th anniversary of that event. Remembering the sacrifices of those who went before, the Town of Bedford has festooned the lampposts along Main Street with banners featuring the names and photos of those Bedford Boys who never made it home from WWII, along with U.S. and French flags, since the site of the landings, the Normandy beaches, are in Northwest France.

As our state and nation face today’s many challenges, we can take hope and encouragement from the bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice of those who have gone before.

Republished with permission from The Roanoke Star.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Back Thanks to McCarthy-Biden Debt Deal

by Shaun Kenney

As part of the debt ceiling deal, the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), long thought dead, is now suddenly back in the cards.

But don’t expect bulldozers back in Virginia anytime soon, as the 4th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is not expected to grant permission to cross any streams or wetlands before 15 June. From The Roanoke Times:

Efforts to obtain the permit — the last major approval needed to restart construction that has been stalled since the fall of 2021 — were underway well before the Mountain Valley provision was added to the debt ceiling bill at the urging of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Most importantly for Mountain Valley, the bill prohibits any legal challenge of the Army Corps permit or any other government approval.

Since work on the pipeline began in 2018, the Fourth Circuit has thrown out about a dozen permits, siding with environmental groups who argued that agencies failed to take adequate steps to limit muddy runoff from the construction sites.

A pending lawsuit over the fate of endangered species in the pipeline’s path, and a potential legal challenge of a permit allowing its passage through the Jefferson National Forest, will be rendered moot as soon as the law takes effect.

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