by Kerry Dougherty
Had this been an ordinary Saturday afternoon in September, I would have scanned the “crowd” at the Marshall v Eastern Kentucky football game and shaken my head.
Attendance was sparse. People were seated in knots of small groups throughout the stands. Some were solo. It looked as if the Joan C. Edwards Stadium – which holds 38,227 – was about one-third full.
But, dang these fans were making some noise.
My son attended Marshall and I’ve been to that stadium many times. Fifty years after the plane crash that killed most of the team and coaching staff, they treasure college football in Huntington, West Virginia.
Last Saturday’s anemic crowd was simply college football in 2020 thanks to the fear of COVID-19, which had some colleges, including ODU and the entire Big 10 conference cancelling their seasons.
Yes, I saw the opinion piece by ODU President John Broderick and Wood Selig in yesterday’s Washington Post defending their decision. What did you expect them to pen, a big mea culpa as they watch the rest of Conference USA playing without them? Continue reading
Democrats’ commitment to fight voter suppression apparently does not extend to candidate suppression. Backed by the prominent Democratic law firm Perkins Coie, two Suffolk residents have sued to kick black rapper/entrepreneur Kanye West off the presidential ballot in Virginia on the grounds that signature gatherers for West deceived them.
According to the Washington Post, Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, filed a motion for an emergency hearing today and filed a brief highlighting deficiencies in 13 elector oaths.
West’s real offense, of course, is threatening to drain African-American votes from Joe Biden. The Dems purport to support black voting rights…. but only as long as it helps Democrats win elections. Dems sue to create more black-majority districts… as long as it helps elect more Democrats. But when African-Americans think for themselves and run as independents or Republicans they must be suppressed.
Update: A circuit court Judge has ordered state election authorities to remove West from the ballot, saying that some signatures were gathered illegally. Dems were certainly within their rights to take West off the ballot… but the optics still look bad.
Note to readers: I had hoped to do more blogging this week while at the beach, but my laptop crashed, and my blogging capabilities are severely curtailed.
Wilber’s barbeque. Sunsets. Red wine. Farkle. Long, deep sleep. Early morning coffee. Sunrises. Not shaving. Long bike rides. Gnarly pin oak trees. Powdery sand. Squinting into the sunlit waves. Perspiration and sun tan oil. Cooling breezes. TV not working — no cable, no worries.
Moonlight over Emerald Isle
Sorry to be out of contact, folks, but I’m chilling at the beach in North Carolina. After two other vacations were aborted, this is the first vacation the Bacon family has had in more than a year! (Curse you, COVID-19!) I’m sure the rest of the Bacon’s Rebellion crew will keep you entertained in my absence. And in case they don’t, I’ll be checking in periodically.
by Carol J. Bova
The University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute’s COVID-19 Model Weekly Update for August 28 shows the R-naught reproduction rate was below 1.0 as of August 15 in every health region but the Northern one, and that number was barely over 1 at 1.018. A rate below 1.0 suggests that the viral spread is slowing.
UVA is predicting a 10-20% increase in transmission beginning September 8th based on schools reopening and the Labor Day holiday. Seasonal weather may play a role, but no one knows for sure what that might be, according to the report.
The number of COVID-19 cases the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports isn’t a reliable indicator of what’s happening with the pandemic in Virginia. The statistics are influenced by many factors, such as where the tests are being done, who is going for testing, and how many tests are done. Hospitalizations are a better reflection of the virus’ spread. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
Remember the educational cartoon video “I’m Just a Bill”? Well this is different. This is the Virginia General Assembly in emergency session 2020.
I offer here an example captured in the brief history of a single bill in the House of Delegates that is very illustrative of the vast differences between the attitudes of the two parties.
Let’s see what happened to a bill to provide immunity from civil claims related to the transmission of or exposure to the COVID-19 virus when it got into the House Committee for Courts of Justice.
We will first examine House Bill 5037 offered by Republican Jason Miyares. It was designed to grant immunity, except in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct, to public officials and businesses who followed the rules.
by James C. Sherlock
In response to my suggestion to use the Corps of Engineers to assess Virginia’s needs for hurricane and flood control, libertarian commenters on this blog used the argument that only oceanfront landowners will benefit.
That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the process works. I ran into that same level of ignorance in the General Assembly.
No plan can defend everything everywhere, but a proper plan will do a cost-benefit analysis, and the USACE by law does that in every plan. Corps plans will protect what that its cost-benefit analysis indicates can be protected with a significant return on investment. The value of people, disadvantaged communities, historically minority communities and areas of historical and ecological significance are counted in that assessment, not just property.
The Corps is a designated federal enforcer of environmental laws with regards to water and water related projects. They first will do everything they can with natural solutions before shifting to such construction projects as levies, pumps, seawalls, flood gates and berms.
The Corps uses a Regional Economic System (RECONS) model, which is a program used to assess the regional, state, and national impacts of projects. It is constantly assessed and updated. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
Updated Aug 27 at 9:46 AM
From the latest weather forecast:
Hurricane Laura is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 as it heads for a destructive landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. A catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds will batter the region and a threat of flooding rain and strong winds will extend well inland. …
The hurricane is now a Category 3 with 125 mph winds and is expected to continue strengthening. Laura is forecast to become a Category 4 hurricane later today as it approaches the northwest Gulf Coast.
Laura’s maximum sustained winds jumped from 75 mph to 125 mph in the 24 hours ending 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday. That increase in maximum sustained winds easily meets the definition of rapid intensification in a hurricane.
Laura has prompted hurricane and storm surge warnings for the northwest Gulf Coast.
A huge amount of money over the past 13 years has been spent to create hurricane protection systems not only for Northwestern Texas, but especially in Louisiana. The Louisiana projects have been led by the Corps of Engineers and Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and have completely transformed that region, not only with levees and pumping stations, but also with restoration of nearly 48,000 acres of land and 60 miles of barrier islands and berms. In Texas, the Galveston District of the Corps of Engineers has built seven major federal levees.
This storm will likely test the systems like no other.
So, while this is of interest to all Americans, why highlight it on a Virginia blog?
We care here because the two areas of the United States other than in Texas and Louisiana most threatened by a combination of sea level rise and storm surge are Miami and Hampton Roads. The great Chesapeake and Potomac hurricane of 1933 flooded downtown Norfolk streets six feet deep — before the last 87 years of sea level rise and subsidence. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Four days ago State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said he planned to mandate a COVID-19 immunization once it’s safely released to the public. Yesterday Governor Ralph Northam said he’s not planning a mandate, despite what his top health official said.
When asked why the the Governor wasn’t embracing the stance of his top health official, Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky said in a statement, “We are focused on accessibility, affordability, and fair distribution of a vaccine—not on a mandate.”
“When a vaccine becomes available, we’re confident that Virginians will seek it out. That’s why we don’t have plans for a mandate,” Yarmosky continued in a separate email, reports WAVY TV.
I’m no expert on the subject of vaccines, to be sure, but it strikes me as way too premature to begin discussing a mandate. Many potential vaccine candidates are being tested, we don’t which one (or ones) will be approved, and we know nothing about the efficacy, side effects and trade-offs of each. Continue reading
by DJ Rippert
Saving America’s bacon. In 2010 Jim Bacon, blogrunner of this site, wrote a book titled Boomergeddon. The sub-title of the book is, “How Runaway Deficits and the Age Wave Will Bankrupt the Federal Government and Devastate Retirement for Baby Boomers Unless We Act Now.” The book is well written and contains considerable supporting detail but that sub-title pretty much sums things up. At the time of publication Bacon’s book amplified the conventional wisdom of the day — deficits are bad and, as our president might say, big deficits are bad bigly. That traditional belief has come under scrutiny lately. One leading critic of the theories espoused by Boomergeddon is Stephanie Kelton, an economics professor at Stony Brook University and former advisor to the Sanders campaign. Her new book, published in 2020, is titled, The Deficit Myth. One paragraph from the description of Kellon’s book on Amazon.Com sums up her thesis vis-a-vis Boomergeddon. “Kelton busts through the myths that prevent us from taking action: that the federal government should budget like a household, that deficits will harm the next generation, crowd out private investment, and undermine long-term growth, and that entitlements are propelling us toward a grave fiscal crisis.” Kelton believes the United States has considerably more room to incur debt without causing economic harm and we should get about the business of incurring more debt. Paying homage to her Democratic-Socialist roots, Kellon sub-titled her book, “Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy.”
by James A. Bacon
The New York Times has drawn a straight-line linkage between the redlining of neighborhoods in Richmond nearly a hundred years ago and the fact that African-American neighborhoods have higher average temperatures than mostly white neighborhoods. Black neighborhoods, often comprised of public housing, have fewer trees “to shield people from the sun’s relentless glare.” Writes the NYT of Richmond’s Gilpin Court housing project:
More than 2,000 residents, mostly Black, live in low-income public housing that lacks central air conditioning. Many front yards are paved with concrete, which absorbs and traps heat. The ZIP code has among the highest rates of hear-related ambulance calls in the country.
There are places like Gilpin Court all over the United States where neighborhoods can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, white parts of the city, the Times says.
And there’s growing evidence that this is no coincidence. In the 20th century, local and federal officials, usually white, enacted policies that reinforced racial segregation in cities and diverted investment away from minority neighborhoods in ways that created large disparities in the urban heat environment.
It’s certainly true that there was redlining in the 1930s, and the NYTimes makes a good case that many of the redlined neighborhoods remain predominantly African-American today. Trouble is, when you interpret everything through the lens of race, every disparity looks like a racial inequity. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The progressives’ imposition of identity politics on Virginia’s public universities continues apace. Hans Bader has already called attention to a July announcement by George Mason University’s new president, Gregory Washington, of a “Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence.”
None of Virginia’s media outlets seem to have paid attention. Your humble correspondent decided to take a closer look at what is going on at GMU.
As Washington acknowledged in announcing the task force, GMU “enters this national conversation with an admirable track record as a pace-setter of action for racial justice and truth-telling about our own past.” He cited the establishment of the Trust, Racial Healing and Transformation campus center, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (“one of the nation’s very few schools dedicated to social justice and peace”) and the Enslaved People project to “fell the full truth of our university’s namesake.” He also noted that GMU hosts “Virginia’s largest and most diverse university student body.”
But that’s not enough. The new task force will dig deeper, addressing: Continue reading
Note to readers: It seems that all the comments on Bacon’s Rebellion have disappeared. This is likely related to an update to our WordPress software I made this morning. Unfortunately, I cannot identify the source of the problem, much less how to fix it. I have summoned help from our web host provider, but it’s a weekend, so… who knows.
We’ll get this problem resolved as soon as possible.
A scene from Dollywood, near Knoxville, Tenn.
by James A. Bacon
John Accordino, a planning professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been giving extensive thought to a perennial problem, the nation’s urban-rural divide. As author of a newly published article and State and Local Government Review, he provides a broad overview of his thinking in a Richmond Times-Dispatch column.
Accordino sees the urban-rural divide — the divergence in incomes and job growth — as unhealthy for America’s economy, society and politics. And he thinks it is something that government intervention can address.
I know John, and I think he is a very thoughtful guy. And I agree that there may be a limited role for government. But I am skeptical that the federal and state governments can be very helpful. The solutions, such as they are, must come from the bottom-up — from rural communities and local governments themselves.
But before I get into that, let’s see what Accordino has to say. Continue reading
Source: Virginia Department of Education. Click for larger image
With 132 school divisions across Virginia, it’s hard to keep track of which school districts are doing what this fall to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. The Virginia Department of Education has published a map, which it will update regularly, showing who’s doing what.
It turns out the 60 school districts, including those in the Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond metros, are going fully remote. Only a few rural counties are still planning to hold entirely in-person classes at this point.
I’ve been pretty tough on VDOE leadership, but the department has done a good job with transparency. I don’t know whose idea it was to compile and publish this data, but to whomever you are… kudos.