by William Moore
Three Card Monte is a classic short con. The Dealer places three cards face down and the Shill, who is in on the con, attempts to pick the money card. They play boisterously, hoping to catch the attention of some poor sap, the Mark. Thinking himself quite good at following the money card, the Mark puts his money down. Using sleight of hand and misdirection, the Dealer makes sure the Mark never finds it.
A similar game is being played in the media’s coverage of the Virginia Military Institute racism investigation. Call it Three Card Media.
Like its street-hustling counterpart, Three Card Media has three actors in the con: the media (the Dealer), politicians (the Shills), and the public (the Mark). Here’s how it works: In reporting news, the media picks the facts and quotes that fit its narrative. Politicians comment upon the “news,” adding their own spin and distorting the picture even more. The politicians’ quotes become news, and the distortions are amplified. Unable to follow the sleight of hand, the public is gulled into believing a story starkly at odds with reality.
To see how the scam works in the political world, readers should read the Barnes & Thornburg interim report dated March 8, 2021, on the investigation. Then read The Washington Post’s (“WaPo”) March 9th summation of the B&T report, “Racial slurs at VMI a common occurrence for Black cadets, investigators told.” Continue reading
Glenn Youngkin — Reagan-like optimist?
Virginia Republicans embark today upon their bizarre, COVID-safe, convention-like proceedings to select candidates for statewide office. Bruce Majors, an active Republican, writes how he has experienced the run-up to this unorthodox event. — JAB
by Bruce Majors
Back in March, I listened to Virginia conservative talk radio from John Reid’s excellent morning show in Richmond to Larry O’Connor’s afternoon show in northern Virginia and D.C., and I got the impression that this Glenn Youngkin fellow was a left-“liberal” wolf in GOP sheepskin.
Coverage focused in particular on Youngkin’s donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which, beyond its far left politics, is charged with being a con game to enrich its founders while (paradoxically) discriminating against some of its African-American employees.
Right-of-center folk also were not so happy with Youngkin’s long career with the Carlyle Group, an investment firm usually described as a Beltway Bandit, a cog in the political class, and even as an arms merchant or a funder of arms merchants.
Back then I hoped these exposures had done in Mr. Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading
by Jack White
By now, Virginia voters have heard from many candidates running for Attorney General making sweeping promises about policy changes they will implement as AG or talking about being the chief prosecutor for Virginia. With due respect to the other candidates in the race, I feel compelled to reiterate what is and what is not the role of the Virginia Attorney General.
The Office of the Attorney General is established in the Virginia Constitution with a clearly defined role. That is to defend the state in criminal appeals and suits against the state, provide legal advice and representations in court for the state and the Governor, provide legal counsel and official opinions to the General Assembly, and defend the constitutionality of state laws. This Attorney General is intended to be the Chief Advocate for the state of Virginia.
This is not a policy-making role. I have heard my fellow candidates talk about everything from their vision for health care to policing reform – all of which are functions of the legislature, not the Office of the Attorney General. One candidate also seems to be under the impression the Attorney General is a prosecutorial role, when in reality it is not. Continue reading
by F. Vincent Vernuccio
In mid-April, the City of Alexandria passed an ordinance allowing government unions to bargain with the city. Unfortunately, many of the ordinance’s provisions are lopsided: they grant special advantages for government unions to easily organize public employees and trap workers into paying dues.
Alexandria’s lopsided ordinance. Alexandria’s ordinance makes it is easy for a union to petition for an election, which the ordinance says may happen in several ways, “including, without limitation, electronic authorizations and voice authorizations.” Once there is a determination by a labor relations administrator or the city manager that a majority of employees have given authorization, no one can challenge the petition.
In a sense, if a union were to use ambiguous language to trick an employee over the phone, and that employee were to respond with “yes,” the union may show that the employee wants the union to represent them – even though that may not really be the case if the employee is not informed of both their rights and of all the facts. Once the LRA makes a determination, the employee would have no recourse to say that verbal “yes” was not what they meant, or to rescind their indication of approval. Continue reading
Letter from Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, to Governor Ralph Northam, dated May 5, 2021:
With the onset of warm weather and summer quickly approaching, we request clarification of your mask protocol for children participating in required school activities.
I heard from multiple constituents regarding yesterday’s high temperature and the dangerous effect it had on our school age children, who are still being required to wear masks when participating in PE and recess. Here in Virginia Beach, temperatures reached a high of 92 degrees, and numerous children suffered heat-related complications and injury as a result of wearing a mask.
Governor, the CDC has already announced that masks are not necessary when outdoors. In addition, with school staff being vaccinated, the risk of COVID-19 transmission to students is minimal. There is no health benefit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by having our children wear masks outside. If your mask protocol is an attempt to protect our children, I would submit that requiring masks outdoors and inside during PE accomplishes quite the opposite of
protecting—it is, in fact, harmful. Continue reading
Achievable Dream Academy in Highland Springs. Photo credit: Richmondmag.com.
by Aubrey L. Layne Jr.
My first experience with An Achievable Dream Academy is one that I never will forget. I remember shaking hands with Newport News elementary school children and seeing the excitement in their eyes.
Every encounter since further solidifies my belief in the value of this program for our community, and for the future. Its presence in Henrico County is a sign of the community’s dedication to some of our most vulnerable children.
My wife, Peggy, and I have been supporters of the program for almost 20 years — beginning with my serving on the board of directors for An Achievable Dream’s (AAD) Endowment. My commitment to this program only strengthened when I served as president and CEO of AAD in 2013, just prior to my appointment as secretary of transportation for the commonwealth of Virginia.
While leading AAD, I was fortunate enough to spearhead the expansion of the program to Virginia Beach — in partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am so proud of how it has flourished.
Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane
by Andy Rotherham
Years ago Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Bud Spillane had a plan to collapse early grades K-2 into an ability group approach. He went around the county explaining the approach to parents. They generally liked it because it offered customization and a more individualized experience.
Then, at some point parents starting asking, “but how will I know when my kid is in the first grade?” And pretty soon the idea fell apart. What Tyack and Cuban call the “grammar of schooling” is indeed potent. People like conceptual approaches; they like knowing when their kid is in first grade more.
I suspect the same fate will befall this idea in Virginia to change the sequence and scope of middle and high school math in the name of “equity.” It sort of already is. As soon as the idea made contact with parents and media the state superintendent submarined it and the Department of Education overhauled its website.
The Washington Post wrote a somewhat credulous story about the whole thing largely blaming the confusion on conservative media, that’s the lede. They changed the website! (Democracy updates the html in darkness?) This Virginia Mercury story has more texture. If you have no hobbies, here and here are some video discussions of the issues you can watch. Weirdly, an idea floated to do away with the state’s advanced studies diploma hasn’t set off the same firestorm. Continue reading
Sentara RMH Medical Center
by Dr. Robert H. Sease
As a lifelong resident of Harrisonburg, a retired physician and a volunteer hospital chaplain, I feel compelled to write about the current and ongoing situation at our local hospital. My father, my two uncles, my brother and myself have a combined 180 years of medical service to this community, so I have a genuine vested interest in the welfare of our local hospital and the community it was designed to serve.
Historically, for a small community hospital, we have been blessed to have phenomenal medical care. It’s a well recognized fact that the Shenandoah Valley has some of the lowest insurance reimbursement rates in the entire state, so it’s vitally important to attract and then retain talented hospital personnel. So, it disturbs me profoundly when I hear and see what is becoming of our community hospital.
There’s always been a healthy tension between hospital administration and staff physicians and that’s been a good thing. In the past that has led to dialogue, compromise, and in the long run, improvement in healthcare delivery. There was a shared, mutual respect. Not so any longer! Healthcare locally and nationally was already on the road to becoming big business in 2011 when RMH became part of Sentara, but with that partnership really, really big business came to town with a corporate mentality that unilaterally decides and blatantly disregards input from the very people who make this hospital great. Continue reading
by Brady Biller
Leadership is made, not born.
I have almost completed my cadetship at The Virginia Military Institute. In 22 days, I will be graduating with a Civil Engineering degree. I’m currently on my last ever guard shift as the Night Officer of the Guard while typing this thought. Its 03:41 on a Saturday morning and my shift ends at 07:00. All my hometown best friends at other universities just got done partying or going out to the local bars. After 4 years of being in barracks we’ve gotten used to “missing out” on a normal college experience.
Yet, every now and then I still have the thought on why I came to VMI, even 22 days until I graduate. I just ponder how badly I want to get out of here. I’m thinking on why the hell I’m walking around Barracks in the middle of the night with a flashlight while everyone is sleeping? I just want my life after VMI to start so I can finally have that freedom I’m craving so badly. With all these negative thoughts about this place and wishing time away, you would think I made a wrong decision signing the matriculation book on August 19, 2017.
Shortly after feeling sorry for myself, a cadet walks into the guard room with a one-hundred-dollar bill and tells me that he found it by a stairwell. Its pitch-black outside with no one around him and he had every chance just to walk away a little bit richer. I couldn’t help but smile, I’m not sure who was listening inside my head, but this was a moment where I was able to look past all the annoying aspects of being a VMI cadet and appreciate the bigger picture of what this Institution upholds. I’m sure that cadet was raised with good intentions, but I know for a 100% fact that any other person at another school in the world would’ve ran off with that hundred-dollar bill.
This is the reason why I became a VMI cadet. Continue reading
by F. Vincent Vernuccio
While local governments in Virginia debate whether to allow public sector collective bargaining, many are already pointing to the high cost of implementing the process.
Fairfax County is forecasting a combined $1.6 million for administrative costs surrounding collective bargaining for both the county and the Fairfax school district, just as a start.
Loudoun County proposed almost $1 million in their planned FY 2022 budget just for increased staffing and overhead. However, with a $2 million funding shortfall some are starting to rethink the proposed expenditure.
The city of Alexandria estimates administrative costs alone will cost between $500,000 and $1 million per year. This amount varies depending on the scope of bargaining and how many individual unions they need to negotiate with.
Since there is no statewide infrastructure set up, each local government will be on its own. Continue reading
Public housing project in Richmond.
by Stephen Jordan
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to describing poverty in Virginia. Portsmouth, aka “Pistol City”, population 93,000, is six hours away from Galax, population 6,000. The housing projects of east and south Richmond are very different from the hollowed out small towns that dot Southside and coal country. Both urban and rural decay are powder kegs waiting to blow, but no one has seriously tackled them in Virginia politics for decades because the issues are so complex.
Conservatives are complicit in this problem because for too long they have allowed liberals to frame the debate and set policy. The result is that since 1964, more than 1,500 “low income apartment communities” have sprung up around the Commonwealth. They are hotbeds of drug abuse and violent crime. Rural Virginia has some of the largest concentrations of people over the age of 65, in part because young people can’t find enough good paying jobs. Democratic mayors, Democratic governors, and Democratic federal policy have predominantly shaped the current state of Virginia’s communities. It is a disgrace.
To start to develop solutions, we have to evaluate the roots of the problem. One of the things that you will notice walking around many housing projects is how isolated and in some cases, empty of outdoor life they are. They are badly designed, set away from services, and with no mixed-use opportunities for jobs close to home. If you can interview some of the residents and get to the point that they trust you, they’ll tell you there is nothing to do but sell some weed, play ball, and wait for something to change. Continue reading
Color blindness is good.
by Michael D. Purzycki
I commend Dick Hall-Sizemore for his column of April 10. I agree with his outrage at the behavior of police in Windsor. There is no reason for an officer to point a gun at a person, or pepper-spray them, for anything to do with a license plate. And I agree that Army lieutenant Caron Nazario being black was a major factor in the officers behaving so egregiously.
To deeply reduce the risk of such terrible behavior happening again, we must take race out of the equation.
Diversity is not something to resist. While it can be difficult to navigate, it brings many benefits. But if a diverse society is going to be a free and democratic society whose members respect each other, emphasizing similarities helps. Atlantic journalist Peter Beinart explored this when writing about immigration; citing studies showing greater diversity makes people less charitable – not only toward people different from them, but people similar as well – he suggested that advocates of liberal immigration policies celebrate “America’s diversity less, and its unity more.” In an age when millions of Americans hate each other’s guts, highlighting difference (whatever the dividing line) is an incentive for dislike. Continue reading
by Mark Reed
My wife and I, Lexington residents since 2016, adopt” VMI “Rats” through a local church. We’ve had the pleasure of serving these fine young people in our home every Sunday during the school year, and we’ve been fortunate to continue our relationship with them and their families as they pursue their degrees at the finest military school in America.
The VMI controversy — conceived, birthed, and raised up from a tiny sample size of anonymous “allegations” — has toppled the academic and personal lives of these young men and women during a time when America reels from a pandemic. I submit that I, a military veteran, accomplished investigator, and retired child welfare professional, have far more insight into the institution that is VMI than do Richmond politicians or The Washington Post.
I have spoken face-to-face with far more Keydets than had the Washington Post when it first alleged that VMI is a systemically racist institution. I have hosted Rats every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. from October to April. They studied (and some dozed off, wouldn’t you if you were them?) in my office and my guest room. They ate at my dinner table (often in huge quantities), and they bared their souls to my wife and me during one of the most chaotic periods of their young lives. And at 20:00 I escorted them back to Post. Continue reading
The bronze equestrian statue (1890) of Robert E. Lee covered in graffiti, September 2020 (Photo courtesy of author)
by Catesby Leigh
Beautifully landscaped with ample medians and harmoniously lined with gracious houses in various historic styles, Richmond, Virginia’s block-paved Monument Avenue and its several statuary tributes to Confederate leaders were once recognized as a triumph of American urban design. The residential frontages served admirably as a variegated frame for the monuments, creating a superb urban tableau that it made no sense to eradicate—especially as the monuments lost ideological currency with the passage of time, as monuments often do.
But after the mayhem triggered by George Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis in May 2020, the 14 blocks of the avenue comprising a National Historic Landmark District present a sorry spectacle. Bare pedestals, with the vandals’ graffiti not entirely washed away, stand on the avenue’s median. Statues of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the cavalry commander J. E. B. Stuart, Confederate president Jefferson Davis, and the world-renowned oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, who played an inconspicuous role in the Confederate war effort, are gone—victims of fanaticism fueled by Twitter slogans drawing, in turn, on national-guilt and systemic-racism narratives in which Americans have been increasingly indoctrinated. Continue reading
Virginians for Safe Technology has launched a petition to halt the deployment of 5G wireless technology. Bacon’s Rebellion does not endorse the petition but does believe that the issues it raises are worth discussing. Next-generation wireless is critical infrastructure. The sooner the concerns are addressed, the better. — JAB
To our elected and appointed officials and the big business Non-Governmental Organizations tasked with making decisions regarding technology across the beautiful State of Virginia on our behalf:
We, the people of Virginia, do not consent to this involuntary exposure of 5G blanketed wireless radiation and we believe current and future generations of Virginians deserve to be protected.
Thousands of peer reviewed research studies show the negative health effects of radiation from wireless technologies. As such, 5G Next Generation and beyond (5G+) wireless technology poses significant risks to humans — especially young children — animals and the environment. (www.BioInitiative.org) Yet, 5G+ has never been required to be safety tested for mmWave phased array health effects by you or the industries implementing this technology, and thus constitutes a human experiment without consent.