• Jeanine’s Memes

    From The Bull Elephant

  • A Confessed Killer is Found Innocent

    by Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Christopher Harper, age 3. He was murdered in 1975. His murder is now unsolved. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

    Marvin Grimm spent 44 years in jail and prison for sexual abuse and murder of a three-year old boy, to which he confessed and pleaded guilty. However, the Court of Appeals of Virginia recently said that there is no evidence he committed the crimes and fully exonerated him.

    Grimm’s case is largely an illustration of the utility of forensic tools that were unavailable until relatively recently. It is also an illustration of the reality of false confessions and their role in the criminal justice system.

    In November 1975, three-year old Christopher Harper (designated as “C.H.” in the Court of Appeals opinion) was reported missing by his mother. His body was found four days later in the James River. An autopsy and forensic analysis reported that he died of asphyxiation. There was sperm in this mouth and throat and a significant amount of ethanol, chlorzoxazone (a muscle relaxant), and acetaminophen in his blood, liver, and stomach.

    There was considerable coverage. The police went weeks without solid clues or a suspect. Eventually, they came to focus on the 20-year-old Grimm, a laborer, because he had had two arguments related to the little boy with the boy’s father prior to his disappearance; the boy’s mother had said she felt “Grimm was odd in his actions;” and Grimm lived in the apartment across the hall from the boy’s family.


  • Bacon Meme of the Week

  • At Least He’s Taking His Punishment Like a Man

    Miles Adkins

    by James A. Bacon

    In Frederick County, Marine Corps veteran Miles Adkins pleaded guilty Monday to two federal misdemeanors and was sentenced to 12 days in jail, fined, and ordered to pay restitution for offenses he committed during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

    According to DC News Now, Adkins waved other rioters into the building and helped one person climb into the building through a broken window. Later, he was seen on social media with a canned beverage, “bragging that he drank a Coors Lite beer in the U.S. Capitol building.”

    Adkins committed misdemeanors, and he’s paying the legal penalty. He may pay a political price, too, as calls are mounting for his resignation from the Frederick County School Board. Voters have every reason to reject an elected official who egged on January 6 rioters and desecrated the Capitol. But Adkins does have one saving grace: He’s not whining about being mistreated.

    Contrast that to students in Charlottesville who were arrested during the pro-Gaza protesters for refusing police orders to disperse.


  • Somebody Call a Waaambulance!

    by James A. Bacon

    Four students who participated in the pro-Gaza encampment protest May 4 are complaining that the University of Virginia is withholding their degrees pending the outcome of University Judiciary Committee hearings into their cases.

    Go ahead and berate me for my cold, cold heart but I feel zero sympathy for their plight. When you engage in civil disobedience — the protesters defied repeated orders to break up the encampment — you take the consequences.

    In this instance, it appears that the consequences have been exceptionally light: Local lefty prosecutors have declined to press charges against a single protester in the municipal courts. The problem is that school is out and the student judiciary is not in session, and it may not be able to adjudicate university complaints until students return in August.

    The Daily Progress article exudes sympathy for the four protesters, among 11 whose fates are in limbo, because they can’t get a sheepskin. It is difficult, the newspaper avers, “to find work in a job market in which employers often require a bachelor’s degree.”


  • “Founders March”

    Today is the 4th of July, and I’m too lazy this holiday morning to expend the mental energy to compose a tribute to our nation’s independence. So, I’m letting AI do it for me.

    At my prompting, Suno has composed a patriotic song in praise of Virginia founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. The lyrics are a tad insipid — though probably better than I could compose — and the melody and orchestration remarkably good. I nominate the “Founders March” for the state song of Virginia!

    (Thank you Bing Image Creator for the image above. I bow down to our AI soon-to-be masters.)

    — JAB

    Listen to the song, and read the verses:

    Washington brave led the way
    Liberty’s dawn shining day
    Across the fields battle cries
    Freedom’s flame never dies


  • The Cesspool Is Back

    by Jon Baliles

    When former Governor Doug Wilder ran for Mayor in 2004, his theme was that City Hall had become a “cesspool of corruption and inefficiency.” His promise to clean it up and his tough, no-nonsense reputation led him to win 78+% of the vote in a 4-person race. People were begging for change and leadership after repeated scandals perpetrated by those who were supposedly running the government under the old Council-Manager form of government.

    City Council members were arrested for various charges in the five years preceeding the change of government; one for taking a bribe for their vote, one for defrauding a legal client, and one for a fraud and tax scheme. The then-City Assessor resigned after it was discovered he lowered the assessment for his own house and billed the city for gas for a trip from Miami to Key West.

    The real whopper was when the then-Assistant City Manager was busted in 2002 for a mail scheme in which he sent more than $500,000 of city money go to firms he created for work that was never done. Two of the things that finally brought the fraud to light occurred when someone noticed that two phony invoices from two of his fake companies both included the word “debris” misspelled as “debre;” the other tip off was that some invoices were signed by Council members who were no longer serving on the Council. Of course, $500,000 went out the door before it was discovered.


  • COVID’s Baaaaack! (Not Really)

    by James A. Bacon

    July is the hottest month of the year in Virginia, and Virginia public health officials are warning that a tendency for people to seek cooler temperatures indoors will boost their exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

    “We went through a period where we really saw great decline,” Heather Harmon-Sloan, chief of the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 unit, told WRIC-TV. “And now, we’re starting to see those diagnosed cases of COVID-19 start to creep back up slowly.”

    Public health officials don’t sound terribly worried, though, and you shouldn’t be either. The uptick in COVID cases is what you might call a dead cat bounce. The rate of COVID incidence in the population, according to the state’s COVID tracker, is less than one in 100,000, way down from this winter.


  • The Porridge-Too-Cold Economy

    Back in January Harvard economist Paul Krugman wrote that the U.S. enjoys a “Goldilocks” economy where “where “growth, inflation, and unemployment are all at levels that look “just right.” Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released 1st-quarter numbers for the Gross Domestic Product, and it turns out economic growth nationally was 1.4%.

    Remember, the federal deficit as a percentage of the GDP was 6.1% in fiscal 2024, which ended June 30. Six-percent deficits to buy 1.4% economic growth is not fiscally sustainable. This looks more like a porridge-too-cold economy to me.

    If this is Goldilocks, I’ll take the three bears.

    Fortunately, the numbers look a little better for Virginia. The Old Dominion’s economy grew at a 2.1% rate in the first quarter. We’re growing slower than our peers on the South Atlantic Coast, but at least we’re growing faster than the national average.


  • Fredericksburg Schools Ban Cell Phones

    Another Virginia public school division — Fredericksburg — has joined the growing movement to ban cell phones in schools. Last night the city School Board unanimously approved a policy forbidding students from operating PCDs (personal communications devices) including tablets and smart watches during the school day, reports the Fredericksburg Free Press.

    “It’s time for all of us to tackle this issue of students who are either addicted to social media or flagrantly disregard the rules,” Deputy Superintendent Matt Eberhardt said in a press release. “Teachers want to teach and don’t want to police students and cellphones.” 

    Devices will be locked in Yondr storage pouches. Exceptions will be granted for heart and diabetes monitors or other health-related reasons.

    Fredericksburg, a low-performing school district where fewer than half the students passed their English Standards of Learning exam in 2022-23, has many other problems to tackle, such as an exceptionally high absenteeism rate. But banning cell phones, which reduces distractions and helps restore teachers’ authority in the classroom, is a good start. — JAB

  • Uh, Oh, Fairfax Schools Are Updating Grading Standards

    by James A. Bacon

    Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in Virginia, has updated its grading standards in an effort to make them fairer and more consistent, reports The Washington Post. Among the more prominent features of the new system, students will be allowed to retake tests for full credit.

    In theory, the new system will base grades on what a student has learned rather than “behavioral metrics,” a term the Post leaves un-defined but apparently refers to how students behave in class.

    Let us postulate up front that there is no “perfect” grading system. Creating uniform criteria makes it difficult for teachers to exercise judgment based upon their personal knowledge of the student. On the other hand, a system that allows teachers to inject personal judgments in their grades opens itself to charges of bias, in particular racial/ethnic bias.

    As educators have wrestled with grading practices over the years, the overall trajectory in Virginia public schools has been to lower expectations, relax standards, and promote students to the next grade on the pretext that they have mastered the material. Grade inflation is the result. If grade inflation were a country, U.S. schools would be Venezuela.


  • Ryan’s Testimony All Over the Map

    Jim Ryan

    by James A. Bacon

    Testifying under oath several days ago in a Daily Progress lawsuit to pry open a report into the slaying of three UVA football players, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan elaborated upon his official explanation of why he decided to withhold the report until after the trial of the alleged shooter next year.

    Based on the reporting of the Daily Progress (admittedly, not a disinterested observer), Ryan offered multiple explanations before Judge Melvin R. Hughes in Albemarle County Circuit Court, none of which withstand scrutiny.

    By way of background, here’s the justification the University offered November 23, 2023, in reversing earlier promises to make the report public:

    “After conferring with counselors and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley, we have decided that we need to wait until after the criminal proceedings to release further information. Making the reports public at this time, or even releasing a summary of their findings and recommendations, could have an impact on the criminal trial of the accused, either by disrupting the case being prepared by the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, or by interfering with the defendant’s right to a fair trial before an impartial jury.”

    What Ryan did not reveal at the time — but The Daily Progress exposed through Freedom of Information Act queries — was that Ryan had requested the meeting with Hingeley, using University police chief Tim Longo as a go-between.

    Now the newspaper is suing to get a copy of the report, which was ordered by Attorney General Jason Miyares and outsourced to the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm at a cost of $1.5 million. The Daily Progress‘ attorney Brett Spain posed the central questions: “What did UVa know before the shooting? What could UVa have done differently?”

    The newspaper’s lawyers put Ryan on the stand, and his story has, to put it charitably, “evolved.”


  • Republicans Still Fighting in the Fifth District

    by Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Republicans are still fighting each other over the primary results in the Fifth Congressional District. 

    As reported by Cardinal News, Bob Good is still contesting his loss in the Congressional primary and a candidate for Lynchburg City Council has filed suit to invalidate the results.

    According to the latest tally, Good, the incumbent, trails John McGuire by 376 votes. He raises three objections to certifying the election:

    • Fire alarms went off in three precincts. Good claims the odds are against that being a coincidence. However, the cause of each fire alarm going off has been identified as innocuous. Furthermore, no potential voters were turned away.
    • Ballot tabulation in Albemarle County began without a Good representative present. Good won the vote in the county and his current percentage (almost 55 percent) is virtually the same as the unofficial percentage on election night. Therefore, it is hard to see that anything untoward was going on.
    • Unsecured drop box. A dropbox in Lynchburg was left unsecured and ballots were found and counted days after it should have been checked. For a party that is constantly voicing complaints about “election integrity” and is now in charge of the electoral process, this is embarrassing. On the practical level, however, only seven ballots were involved, not enough to have influenced any election.

    The margin between Good and McGuire is 0.6 percent of the total number of votes cast, small enough to entitle Good to request a recount. However, because it is greater than 0.5 percent, he would have to pay for it. Cardinal News estimates the cost would be greater than $100,000.

    In the city of Lynchburg Republican primary contest for a council seat, incumbent Chris Faraldi was being challenged by Peter Alexander, who was backed by Marty Misjuns, the maverick council member who has been censured by the council majority.  (See “Showdown in Hill City.) Final voting totals show Faraldi winning by 33 votes. In his suit, Alexander alleges that the registrar received 125 absentee ballots, but the records do not show they were ever counted.

    Unlike Good, Alexander does not have the option to request a recount. The 33-vote margin between the two candidates is 1.6 percent of the total 2,051 votes cast. State law allows for a recount when the margin is 1.0 percent or less. Consequently, he is taking the unusual step of suing to have the election invalidated.

    The State Board of Elections meets tomorrow to officially certify the election results.

  • Youngkin Appointees Now a Majority in Virginia University Boards

    by James A. Bacon

    With the announcement of his third round of appointees to the governing boards of Virginia’s public universities, Governor Glenn Youngkin has ushered in a new era for higher education in Virginia. For the first time in his two-and-a-half years in office, he will enjoy board majorities to back his priorities of free speech, intellectual diversity and affordable cost of attendance.

    However, the nominees face confirmation by the General Assembly early next year, and more forceful advocates for change could face resistance from within universities and their Democratic Party allies in the legislature.

    Developments at the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Virginia, where Youngkin appointees enjoy support from well-organized alumni groups, especially bear watching. Old Dominion University could prove to be a wild card as well.

    At VMI the appointments represent a clear victory for traditionalists, building on the election of a new slate of board officers in May. John D. Adams, a McGuire Woods attorney from Richmond and 2017 Republican candidate for Attorney General, replaced Tom Watjen, a Northam appointee. Watjen had been a stalwart supporter of Superintendent Cedric T. Wins and the contentious effort to re-make VMI after former Governor Ralph Northam accused VMI of being systemically racist. The new board wins plaudits from alumni offended by the racism epithet, the implementation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and what they view as a relaxation of standards.

    The implications of a Youngkin-appointed Board at the University of Virginia, by contrast, are unclear. UVA Rector Robert D. Hardie, a Northam appointee, has not stepped down, and there is uncertainty about how committed the new Board will be to challenging the administration of President Jim Ryan. Although Youngkin and close advisers have signaled their unhappiness with the politicized social-justice agenda at Virginia’s flagship university, the Governor declined to appoint Joel Gardner, a UVA alumnus whose passionate advocacy and deep knowledge of the University would have made him a force to be reckoned with on the Board.

    Also worth watching is Stanley Goldfarb, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus and founder of the Do No Harm organization opposed to “gender-affirming” care, DEI and racial preferences at hospitals and medical schools nationally. His appointment at ODU comes on the heels of the university’s merger with the Eastern Virginia Medical School.


  • Jeanine’s Memes

    From The Bull Elephant