Tag Archives: James A. Bacon

Bacon Bits: Government, Race, and Poverty

Whites need not apply. The initial draft of a Loudoun County Public Schools “student equity ambassador program” barred white students from admission to the program. The selection guidelines said specifically, “This opportunity is open to all Students of Color,” reports The Virginia Star. The guideline was deleted after whistleblowers called public attention to it, but the draft reveals the mindset of the Critical Race Theorists running Loudoun public schools. “Anti-racism” is transmogrifying into anti-white racism before our very eyes.

Your tax dollars not at work. Virginia’s unemployment insurance program ranks worsts in the country for processing claims that require staff review. The backlog has increased to more than 90,000 cases, reports The Virginia Mercury. Additionally, Virginia was the second-to-last state in the country to issue $300 weekly supplements authorized by President Trump. State officials attribute the delays in a decision early in the COVID-19 epidemic to prioritize helping people submit and complete applications that can be automatically validated using state payroll data; 86% of routine applications have received their first payment within three weeks, the fifth best in the nation.

Testing the guaranteed-minimum-wage theory. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has announced a pilot program to give $500 a month to 18 families over the next two years. Recipients will be randomly selected from families that no longer qualify for public benefits programs. The Robins Foundation, a local nonprofit, is splitting the $480,000 bill for the test with the city. “Poverty is symptom of centuries of injustice, not a result of personal failure. Richmond must lead the way in lifting hard-working families up,” Stoney said. “This is part of something much bigger: a national movement toward economic stability and the fight for a living wage.” The program will test the theory that families will use the extra money to improve their situations or avoid spiraling further into poverty. Let’s hope the city is keeping close track of the results to determine if the program works as designed.


America’s New Ruling Class: Washington Post Edition

So long, Stonewall

by James A. Bacon

That didn’t take long. In the wake of Washington Post articles alleging systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute, the Board of Visitors voted Thursday to remove the statue of Stonewall Jackson from its campus. The action follows the Monday resignation of J.H. Binford Peay III, the institute’s superintendent, who had resisted calls to remove the statue on the grounds that Jackson, one of America’s iconic military geniuses, had been an instructor at the Institute before the Civil War.

After the board’s capitulation, Chairman John “Bill” Boland told the Washington Post, “It’s time to move forward. [The monument] was drawing a lot of fire and distracting from what our true mission is. The most important thing to me is to maintain our mission and our methods.”

The board also voted to create a diversity office and a diversity inclusion committee. Of its 17 board members, three are black, noted reporter Ian Shapira. Also, he observed, “All of the school’s top officials, including the VMI chief of staff, the faculty dean and the inspector general/Title IX coordinator, are White men.”

I got to thinking, how diverse is the Washington Post editorial staff? Does the Post live up to the standards it imposes on others? The newspaper lists its newsroom leadership here. You can click on the names, and in most cases you will find a photograph by which you can discern the individual’s gender and race. But I’ll save you the trouble. Scroll down and see if you detect a pattern. (To read my wrap-up, scroll all the way to the bottom.) Continue reading

Ryan Defends UVa’s Diversity of Viewpoints

Earlier this week, University of Virginia alumnus Joel Gardner wrote a letter to President Jim Ryan outlining his concerns about the decline of intellectual diversity at the university. Writing in response, Ryan defended the diversity of viewpoints found at UVa. He cites numerous instances which have not gotten play on this blog, and I present them in the interest of… viewpoint diversity. What follows is an excerpt from a longer letter. — JAB

University of Virginia President James E. Ryan

The problem you identify is not unique to UVA, and I also believe there are some very bright spots at UVA. As I mentioned on our Zoom call, UVA is a place that fosters debate and discussion across lines of difference, through our curriculum — including the new College curriculum; student groups that intentionally bring diverse groups together to discuss issues; a wide range of student political groups; faculty who work hard to encourage robust conversations; and faculty who are themselves diverse ideologically. This may be why UVA is ranked in the top ten by national organizations that assess universities based on their protection of free speech and viewpoint diversity.

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Indoctrination U

Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

This January the University of Virginia offers what it calls “signature” courses, which address inter-disciplinary topics that are “timely and of enduring significance.” The University has just released a preliminary list of 11 courses for the 2021 term. Four appear to be devoid of overt political bias. But judging from the course descriptions, the rest have leftist perspectives baked in. Not one of the courses explicitly addresses conservative, libertarian or traditional perspectives on society. This is what passes for intellectual diversity at UVa today.

These excerpts are taken verbatim from the course descriptions:

ARTS 1505 The Art of Resistance
Faculty: Mona Kasra & Lydia Moyer (Drama and Art)

This course will focus on the role of the contemporary visual culture in staging social movements and the ways in which grassroots activists employ visually-oriented practices as a means of political resistance and collective mobilization. … Guest lectures will include activists, artists, and protesters from recent social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Appalachians Against Pipelines, and Extinction Rebellion, many of whom have connections to local Charlottesville and surrounding Virginia communities. Students will be evaluated based on reflective writing assignments on course content and a collaborative project-based final assignment. Continue reading

Connolly: Expel VMI Students Guilty of Racist Conduct, Track Thought Crimes

Rep Gerald Connolly: Expel VMI students guilty of racist conduct. Question: Who decides what’s “racist” — the Washington Post? Photo credit: Stream.org.

by James A. Bacon

Representative Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and other congressional Democrats have written Governor Ralph Northam, calling for the expulsion of students at the Virginia Military Institute who have been found guilty of “racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Citing a Washington Post article that alleged the existence of “relentless racism” at the military institute, the letter from the House Armed Service Committee decried “lynching threats, professors openly reminiscing about the Ku Klux Klan, a campus culture that venerates the Confederacy and little to no disciplinary action by VMI.”

“We are dismayed that racism is tolerated and has been allowed to persist throughout VMI,” says the letter. The congressmen made three requests:

  1. Remove any statues or symbols that memorialize leaders of the Confederacy.
  2. Conduct regular climate surveys of cadets and recent alumni “to gauge the prevalence of racist beliefs, experiences of discrimination, and harassment within the institution.”
  3. Immediately expel “any offending cadet or faculty member who breaches the honor code through racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Continue reading

Henry Defends Role in $1.8 Million Statue Contract

Devon Henry

The Associated Press snagged an interview with Devon Henry, owner of NAH, LLC, the shell company that was awarded a $1.8 million contract to remove Richmond’s Civil War statues earlier this year. That contract, awarded by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney after bypassing normal procurement protocols, is now under investigation.

The AP story provides insight into why Henry, a 43-year-old African-American construction contractor who has done more than $100 million in business with the federal government, hid his identity by setting up a shell corporation.

Henry huddled with his family to make sure everyone was on board. His son and daughter “started Googling” and “there was most definitely a level of concern” when they read about what happened in Charlottesville (where plans to remove a Robert E. Lee statue sparked a deadly white supremacist rally in 2017) and New Orleans (where a contractor’s car was firebombed).

Ultimately, they all agreed to take the job. This was an opportunity to be a part of history.

For safety, he said, he sought to conceal his company’s identity, creating a shell entity, NAH LLC, through which the $1.8 million contract was funneled.

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The Latest Casualty of the Culture Wars

J.H. Binford Peay III

J.H. Binford Peay III, superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, has submitted his resignation, stating that Governor Ralph Northam and senior legislations had “lost confidence” in his leadership. The VMI board accepted his resignation “with regret.”

Peay’s departure follows a Washington Post article alleging an atmosphere of “relentless racism” at the military college. Two days later, Northam and top legislators announced an independent, third-party review of VMI culture, policies, practices and equity.

While racist acts have occurred at VMI in the past several years, most cited by the Washington Post were punished by the administration or involved private expressions of opinion by students or staff. I detailed my response to the Post article here. Continue reading

Caroline Volunteers Remove Statue for $6,000

Using volunteer labor, Caroline County has removed a Civil War statue from the front of the county courthouse for approximately $6,000. The county had received estimates ranging in price from $170,000 to $260,000 from out-of-town companies that would have charged for lodging and other costs, reports the Free Lance-Star.

Balking at the price to move the 43-ton monument, county building official Kevin Wightman and a crew of more than 20 volunteers stepped up. Community members donated a forklift, trailers, straps, and plywood. Wightman had requested a $25,000 budget, but ended up spending less than $6,000. Said Wightman: “This is Caroline County. We take care of our own and we’re fully capable.” Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Fear, Loathing, and Excess

Rise of the surveillance state. The Virginia Supreme Court has declared that Fairfax County’s mass collection of license plates does not violate legal privacy protections. Automated cameras can collect and store data even if a driver is not suspected of committing a crime, and police can access the data for 364 days after its entry in the system, reports The Virginia Star. Good to see that the American Civil Liberties Union, which is on the wrong side of so many issues these days, litigated the case on the behalf of Harrison Neal, a Fairfax County resident whose license plate data was collected. Also good to see that The Virginia Star has gotten its sea legs as a news-gathering publication and is starting to run stories I don’t see anywhere else.

Who is driving Critical Race Theory in Loudoun County? Kudos again to The Virginia Star for publishing a short profile of the power behind the throne in Loudoun, an obscure unelected group called the Minority Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC). Much of the left-wing racial policy in Loudoun schools has originated with this group, including most recently the proposed wording, since withdrawn, of an employee handbook that would have allowed the school system to punish employees who publicly disagreed outside school with its controversial policies on race. The story does not dig deep, but it’s a start. The public knows more about the so-called “anti-racism” movement in Loudoun now than it did before.

Millions more for educating the elites. The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has announced the launch of the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning, including the establishment of an endowment for 12 new faculty positions at the business school, thanks to a $68 million gift made last year. The Institute is named after donor Frank M. Sands Sr., founder of the Sands Investment Group Inc., and his wife Marjorie, reports Virginia Business. The gift will develop more online courses, build a 199-room hotel and conference center, and offer new degrees for “working professionals.” Question: What is the educational value added and the social value added of this gift? Not to second-guess the Sands’ generosity, but could they have made a more positive impact by directing their gift to help people who are not members of the nation’s business elite? Continue reading

What’s Worse for the Environment: Natural Gas or Rare-Earth Metals?

Projected demand for rare metals production required to meet Paris climate accord CO2 emission goals. Source: “Metal Demand for Renewable Electricity and generation in the Netherlands.”

by James A. Bacon

Tom Hadwin is one of the smartest, most well-informed commentators in Virginia on the subject of the electric grid, utility regulation and Dominion Virginia Energy. He sets a high standard for the discussion about energy policy in Virginia. He is calm, rational and fact-based, he refrains from ad hominem attacks and does not engage in partisan hysterics. It is a pleasure exchanging views with him, even when we disagree, and I would recommend readers with an interest in the future of the electric grid to read his thorough and thoughtful comments on Dominion’s 2020 Integrated Research Plan, which you can find below.

That said, Hadwin advances several propositions that are at best debatable. In this post, I wish to focus on one in particular: the way he frames his analysis to include the system-wide costs of drilling and distribution when calculating the environmental costs of natural gas and ignoring the system-wide costs of mining and processing rare-earth metals when calculating the environmental costs of solar panels and wind turbines.

Hadwin observes that many energy executives and financiers promoted natural gas as the “bridge fuel” to a clean energy future on the grounds that CO2 emissions from power-plant combustion are half that of coal. But he goes on to argue that it is not adequate to consider natural-gas combustion alone. One must take a holistic approach of natural gas drilling, fracking, and distribution as well as combustion. Writes Hadwin: Continue reading

Loudoun Board Embraces Public-Employee Unions

Members of the Service Employees International Union at a recent Loudoun County board meeting. Photo credit: Loudoun Now

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s slow-but-steady metamorphosis into New Jersey continues apace. The Loudoun County board of Supervisors has voted to let unions into county buildings to recruit public employees. Reports Loudoun Now:

Currently, under state law, state and local governments are not allowed to recognize any union or collective bargaining. … But with a new state law signed in April and going into effect in May 2021, localities may elect to recognize collective bargaining representatives, allowing unions to negotiate on behalf of employees.

Continue reading

A Reasonable Approach to Sea-Level Rise

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s environmentalists are smarter and more forward-thinking than California’s environmentalists. That’s a low bar, admittedly, but it’s a not-inconsiderable consolation now that environmental lobbyists and their friends in the Democratic Party run the commonwealth.

In California, leaders of the environmental/political establishment fervently believe that human-caused climate change is increasing the incidence and severity of heat waves and droughts. But rather than follow through on the logical implications of such convictions, California persisted with forest-management practices and growth-management strategies that turned arid forests into tinderboxes while steering housing development into vulnerable areas. The result has been a series of massively destructive forest conflagrations. Bottom line: California’s environmental and political leaders are idiots.

Here in Virginia, leaders of the environmental/political establishment fervently believe that human-caused climate change is accelerating the rate of sea-level rise and flooding along Virginia’s coast. The difference is that they are following through the logical implications of this belief and giving serious thought to how to make coastal areas more resilient. Thus, while I could nitpick with the breathless conviction that the science is settled, I find the newly issued “Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework” issued by the Northam administration to be a reasonable and useful document. Continue reading

Racism Case Settled

The Amet family and Cape Henry Collegiate have settled their differences arising from an incident in which school officials suspended 16-year-old Connor Amet after accusing him of expressing white supremacist statements in class. The school and family released the following statement.

Cape Henry Collegiate and the Amet Family have met regarding a recent issue that resulted from a classroom discussion. It became the subject of a letter from the Amets’ attorney that subsequently appeared on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog. Without commenting on the letter’s content or the incident that precipitated it, the School and the Amet Family are both satisfied after our meeting. Cape Henry seeks to foster an inclusive environment on our Virginia  Beach campus where we focus on individual students and their success, both in the classroom and in life.

The letter, republished here, described from Connor’s perspective how teachers and administrators had incorrectly imputed racist sentiments to his words in a classroom discussion about immigration, berated him repeatedly, and suspended him.


Hey, What Happened to All the School Shootings?

by James A. Bacon

Anyone notice how we don’t hear about school shootings anymore? Ever since the nation became fixated on the COVID-19 epidemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, school shootings have dropped out of the headlines.

According to an ongoing list compiled by Wikipedia, there have been eight school shootings (four in Texas, two in California, and one each in Florida and Illinois) so far this year. Six occurred before Feb. 4. Since then, only two school or college shootings been reported. In 2019, there had been 40 shootings by this time of year. What’s going on?

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Private Schools No Haven from the Thought Police

If you thought sending your child to private school offered any protection against the spreading and increasingly totalitarian virus of Critical Race Theory, consider a recent incident at Cape Henry Collegiate School in Virginia Beach. I publish here an open letter, written by attorney Timothy Anderson, on behalf of student Connor Amet, to school officials. The letter should be read with caution: It represents Connor’s view, not those of school officials. But if the incidents described are remotely representative of actual events, they should terrify every Virginian who values independent thinking and free expression. — JAB

Christopher Garran, headmaster of Cape Henry Collegiate School

On October 7, 2020, Connor Amet (“Connor”) was a student at Cape Henry Collegiate School (“Cape Henry”) and was in Mr. [William] Fluharty’s club for global scholars. On that day, Mr. Fluharty commenced a discussion on immigration to the group via Zoom. During that conversation, when there was a discussion about President Trump on immigration and whether immigration is bad/good, Connor weighed in that immigration could have detrimental effects on society. Connor’s opinion was based on his understanding of conflicts that have historically risen in societies that have multicultural immigration policies. Continue reading