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group of “moderate” Democrats are threatening to block the spending bill unless the State and Local Tax (SALT) caps are repealed.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
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
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
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 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
Posted in Business and Economy, Children and families, Courts and law, Crime , corrections and law enforcement, General Assembly, Regulation, Uncategorized
Tagged DJ Rippert, Don Rippert, marijuana, marijuana reforma
Image used with permission of Coastal Cloud
Fiasco. From the start, Florida prioritized anybody 65 or older into its top tier for receiving the COVID vaccine. Virginia initially limited early access to the vaccine to those 75 and over. Last Thursday Gov Northam announced that Virginia would include people 65 and over in the current distribution of vaccines. That adds 9.5% of Virginia’s population, or 810,920 Virginians, to the “eligible now” list. What can Virginia learn from Florida about distributing the vaccines to a larger percentage of the population?
Florida’s initial efforts to distribute the COVID vaccine were widely described as a fiasco. Newspapers featured pictures of senior citizens in long lines waiting to get vaccinated. Just registering for a vaccination appointment was chaotic. Registration call centers were overwhelmed. CNN described the registration process as haphazard. If Florida is a benchmark … Virginia will soon enter the “chaos zone.” However, there is good news from Florida that could help Virginia. A Florida based technology company, Coastal Cloud, has started managing vaccine appointments using an application built on Salesforce.Com. I interviewed the husband-and-wife team that founded Coastal Cloud yesterday and they explained how their company is helping four counties in Florida get a handle on the scheduling of COVID vaccinations. Continue reading
by DJ Rippert
Ralph Reefer. On Wednesday the Northam Administration unveiled legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Virginia. The legislation will be introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and Del. Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth. Northam took up the cause of legalizing marijuana last November citing both racial equity and financial issues. Sale of legal marijuana would start by Jan 1, 2023, under the Northam plan. Continue reading
Photo credit: Rip Dog Photography
by DJ Rippert
Elections have consequences. The recent presidential election along with the Georgia run-off election has secured Democratic control of Congress with no serious risk of presidential veto. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., has tried for years to establish a recreational marijuana marketplace only to be thwarted by Republicans in Congress. Finally, in the 2020 session Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation that made the possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a fine so low that it could hardly be compared to a parking ticket ($25). This combination of events will soon have Northern Virginians buying marijuana in D.C. and bringing the weed back to the Old Dominion to consume. D.C. will profit while Virginia gets nothing. Continue reading
By DJ Rippert
The medium is the message. Medium is an online publishing website founded by Evan Williams — who also co-founded Blogger and Twitter. The genre of Medium is sometimes called social journalism. As described in Wikipedia, social journalism “relies on community involvement, audience engagement, social newsgathering and verification, data and analytics, and relationship-building.” That’s all true. However, the biggest point is that authors get paid to write for Medium. Medium generates revenue by selling subscriptions at $5 per month. People who buy those subscriptions are called “members.” Members are eligible to enroll in Medium’s partner program. People in that program are eligible to earn money based on the level of engagement the author’s stories get from other members. While Medium keeps its payment algorithms secret most members believe that the amount paid is calculated based on the number of members who read the story and how long they spend reading it. In some ways Medium could be considered Uber for writers. It facilitates easy paid participation in the gig economy of writing. Continue reading
By DJ Rippert
Here we go again. The Richmond Times Dispatch is reporting that Governor Ralph “NoPlan” Northam signaled a possible increase in COVID-19 restrictions during an interview with CNBC yesterday (Dec 7). Northam is quoted as saying, “We’re actively discussing on how to mitigate the numbers, and we’ll take further measures if we need to this week.”
The actual interview was even more embarrassing than the RTD article would have you believe. At about the 1:50 point in this video David Faber does something Virginia’s gutless media has so far refused to do. He asks NoPlan Northam to describe his plan. “What are the numbers that are going to trigger you, governor, to take further measures” is the specific question asked by Faber. The same question I have been asking on this blog here, here and here.
Northam declares it to be a “great question,” insists he is “data driven,” and reminds everybody that he is a physician. He then proceeds to evade and avoid the question in a stumbling, bumbling soliloquy to nowhere. He explains that the spread is happening where people are gathering, sometimes in homes and sometimes in places of worship. He keenly cuts through the fog by declaring that places of worship will be advised to take things seriously. He concludes by insisting that “the decisions we make will be data driven in Virginia.” NoPlan Northam skates a simple question he should answer. His obviously cavalier attitude toward the people of Virginia is disgraceful. Continue reading
Help! WJLA is reporting that the State of Virginia is using a 35-year-old computer system to process unemployment checks. The system has buckled, leaving 70,000 Virginians without their unemployment benefits. In a stunning admission, Bill Walker, Director of Unemployment Insurance with the Virginia Employment Commission says, “We are right at the first of July now” when asked how far behind the process stands.
It seems obvious that ineffective processing of unemployment claims disproportionately impacts less affluent and minority Virginians. Yet this issue has been missing from the Ralph Northam COVID-19 updates I have watched. Those press conferences have included discussions of the presidential election and a description of court cases involving Confederate statues but nothing about the real pain that the ineptitude of the Northam Administration is visiting on 70,000 Virginians, including many people of color. Continue reading
by DJ Rippert
Come out with your masks on, we’ve got you surrounded. COVID-19 new cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in Virginia. However, the situation is not as dire in Virginia as elsewhere in the United States (see graphic above). At 229 new cases per million people Virginia is well below all neighboring jurisdictions. Kentucky at 814 per million tops the list of sick neighbors while D.C. at 302 is the second most healthy in our immediate vicinity. The question for Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam is, “Do you believe in miracles?” Or, perhaps somewhat less charitably, “Are you feeling lucky, punk?” Whether one prefers the Hot Chocolate version or the Dirty Harry version, we are in an interesting situation. Do we dare hope that Virginia will miraculously avoid the surge that is consuming most other states? Or, do we assume it is inevitable that we end up in the same situation as Kentucky, et al and start serious COVID abatement efforts (e.g. lockdown and partial lockdowns) now?
by DJ Rippert
Marcel Marceau. Ralph “The COVID Mime” Northam dropped a bevy of increased Coronavirus restrictions on the state last Friday. Those new restrictions on Friday followed another rambling COVID press conference held by Northam the prior Tuesday. Anybody watching the Tuesday news conference could be forgiven for being shocked by The COVID Mime’s actions on Friday. Unlike governors such as Larry Hogan in Maryland Northam avoids any serious discussion of possible actions he might take to slow the spread of the resurgent virus in Virginia during his press conferences. Instead, Northam recites statistics about COVID-19 in Virginia and reminds people to wear masks, maintain social distance and wash their hands regularly. He also provides pithy commentary such as, “This is very concerning, especially because it is getting colder. The holidays are approaching and the temptation to gather with other people is high.” Then, as the news week winds to a close, Northam drops a COVID bomb. To say Jim Bacon was exasperated is putting it mildly. The virus has continued to spread internationally, nationally and in Virginia. So, we get to play the next installment of the Bacons Rebellion game show “What will The Mime do next?” Continue reading