Tag Archives: Peter Galuszka

Millionaire vs. Millionaire

Terry McAuliffe. Photo credit: The Virginia Star

This article was published originally in Style Weekly.

by Peter Galuszka

Call it a tale of two campaign stops.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin picks a small office building in a working-class part of Emporia, a Southside town where Amtrak passenger trains no longer stop. It is chiefly known for stock car driving and speed traps given its proximity to the North Carolina border.

Democratic candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s choice is the parking lot of Port City Brewery in a middle class neighborhood of Alexandria lined with modest red brick houses of the type built by the thousands after World War II.

Glenn Youngkin

Seem similar? They are and they reveal strategies that both candidates must follow if they are to win what seems to be a close race Nov. 2.

Both neighborhoods are modest and might play to voters who may or may not favor former President Donald Trump. How they choose might mean the election.

McAuliffe already seems to have wrapped up rich suburbs that have voted predominately Democratic for the past 12 years. Youngkin, a Harvard-trained financial expert who has Trump’s endorsement, needs to lure more undecided from more varied areas. Continue reading

Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Virginia Coal Exports??

Norfolk Southern’s coal loading terminal at Lambert’s Point in Norfolk

By Peter Galuszka

Oilprice.com, a petroleum trade newsletter, has a story that could spell more bad news for the faltering Virginia coal industry.

For many years, the most valuable product from Virginia’s coal fields was coking or metallurgical coal that is exported to other countries for use in steel making.

China has been a crucial buyer of Virginia coal but recent pronouncements from the Communist Party leadership indicate that coal is on its way out after leader Xi Jinping outlined a far-reaching program that set a peak of carbon emissions in 2030 followed by net zero policy by 2060.

Correspondingly, steel companies are also setting net zero carbon goals including the world’s biggest steel makers ArcelorMittal of Europe, Baowu Steel of China and Nippon Steel of Japan.

The moves could erase Virginia’s coal experts because the demand for the steam coal used to generate electricity has already been undercut by the remarkable growth of renewable energy sources like solar and wind in China and India. As they expand, their costs go down – below those of coal.

Coking coal exports from Hampton Roads could get slammed as global steelmakers experiment with new manufacturing processes. Continue reading

Northam’s Good Move: End Executions

The Martinsville Seven

By Peter Galuszka

Governor Ralph Northam will propose legislation to ban executions in the state. The move could end decades of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

“I’ve strongly about this for a long time,” he was quoted as saying. The bill will be taken up by the General Assembly, which met in its 2021 session today.

If the bill passes, it would make Virginia the only Southern state to ban executions.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, 113 executions have been conducted in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. Virginia’s vigorous efforts to kill those convicted of capital crimes gave it the dishonorable distinction of being No. 2 in the country after Texas which had 570 executions in that time frame.

Historically, African Americans have been executed at rates that exceed their numbers in the general population. Continue reading

You Were Warned

By Peter Galuszka

Here are some posts over the past year warning of what happened Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/is-a-mighty-storm-coming/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-new-face-of-virginias-gop/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-plot-to-nab-northam/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-very-real-threat-of-boogaloo/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-real-danger-with-antifa/

https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/notes-from-the-right-wing-echo-chamber/

One other note: One Trump rioter was photographed holding a bunch of white flex cuff handcuffs, presumably to restrain Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence and others. It reminded me of the 1991 coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev. Plotters ordered hundreds of thousands of handcuffs in advance.

A New Fad: Bashing Offshore Wind Turbines

By Peter Galuszka

 Offshore wind power is becoming a whipping boy even as the technology involved becomes more advanced and its costs go down.

Northwestern Europe is offshore wind headquarters globally and countries such as the United Kingdom have wholeheartedly embraced it.

Yet some critics, some of whom are supported financially by the fossil fuel industry, refuse to accept its growth and see its potential. They insist on keeping fossil fuel generating stations going that contribute to dangerous climate change. They also back nuclear plants that have a high capacity factor.

The problem is that any generating station can go offline for any number of reasons. Considering nukes, there are a few points to be made. Consider this from Power magazine:

“North Anna Power Station’s 1,865-MW twin pressurized water reactors were at full power when the quake struck on August 23, 2011, at 1:51 p.m. The quake’s epicenter was 11 miles southwest of the station in Mineral, Va. Both of the station’s units shut down immediately, automatically, and safely. As a result of the earthquake, the plant lost off-site power from the switchyard, but back-up power from diesel generators picked up the load within 8 seconds, as designed. The station returned to off-site power later that evening.” Continue reading

Critical Lizard Theory Sweeps Nation

By Peter Galuszka

Bacon’s Rebellion has been filled with many thumbsuckers about how “Critical Race Theory” is an existential threat to Western Civilization.

But now there is a new theory of concern that makes the racial considerations seem, well, so 2020.

It is called “Critical Lizard Theory” and it actually exists.

According to NBC News, investigators are probing possible links between Nashville suicide bomber Anthony Quinn Warner and the conspiracy idea that many prominent people in the world such as Queen Elizabeth, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Madonna, Paul McCartney and even Bob Hope are or were lizard-like aliens who arrived on Earth and assumed human characteristics.

There seems to be evidence that Warner made trips to an undisclosed spot in Tennessee to check into aliens, NBC reports. Warner is believed to have constructed a bomb at his suburban Nashville home and placed it in a recreational vehicle before setting it off in the city’s downtown. Continue reading

The New Face of Virginia’s GOP

Amanda Chase. Credit: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

By Peter Galuszka

If ever one photo best describes what 2020 was like in Virginia, this shot, by the brilliant veteran photographer Scott Elmquist at Style Weekly, shows it.

The photo is of state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, at a July 4 rally at the capitol. Her defiant expression, the assault-style rifle and the over-the-top elephant skirt tell you what has become of the Virginia Republican Party, which hasn’t won a statewide public office in about a decade.

Chase is a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, tough-talking show girl who is running for governor and backs the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of outgoing President Donald Trump. Chase is so extreme that her county GOP kicked her out.

Republicans were still so frightened of her that they decided to hold conventions and not a primary to decide between her and Kirk Cox, a more moderate politician and perhaps anyone else who runs. Now Chase has announced she will run as a Republican. Doing so gives her a leg up. Continue reading

The Virginia City Boondoggle

The Virginia City hybrid energy center. Credit: David Hoffman, Flickr

By Peter Galuszka

Back in 2007, Dominion Energy was touting its new hybrid generating plant near St. Paul in Southwest Virginia as the wave of the future because it would burn coal and wood using advanced fluidized bed technologies.

But for eight months this year, the 624-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center operated at only 20% and has never reached more than 65% capacity since going online in 2012.

Now, the utility must face the fact that it may close the plant, according to a new report by the non-profit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Dominion has said it intends to keep the plant open.

If it closes, it would affect 153 full-time jobs and 400 additional ones. Localities would lose from $6 million to $8.5 million in taxes.

The Institute undertook its research at the request of Appalachian Voices, an environmental group. It is based on testimony provided to the State Corporation Commission by Atty. Gen. Mark Herring that ratepayers would have to shell out $472 million more than the plant is worth over the next 10 years. Continue reading

WTJU Podcast on State’s Economy

By Peter Galuszka

This may be familiar turf for some readers, but here is a podcast I worked on with WTJU, the radio station of the University of Virginia. It gives a larger overview of the changes that data centers are making in the state’s economy and what that might mean in the future.

This elaborates on a Style Weekly story I posted here a few weeks ago.

Early this year, WTJU started preparing a series of podcasts under the “Bold Dominion” banner that explores how politics, economics and culture are changing in the Old Dominion. I think they have had 25 episodes up until now and I have participated in some of them. I also do a weekly Q&A on state politics.

Here’s the most recent podcast:

https://bolddominion.org/episodes/what-does-a-burgeoning-tech-industry-mean-for-virginia

Liberty’s Curious “Think Tank”

By Peter Galuszka

Imagine there is a “think tank” at a private, non-profit university. It produces no academic papers and does no peer-reviewed research. Instead, it holds podcasts, seminars and buys ads on Facebook that obviously promote a political party and president.

Would that be a “think tank” or a political action committee?

That about sums up the situation involving Falkirk Center at Liberty University in Lynchburg, according to Politico, a Washington-based news outlet.

True, Liberty is a private, conservative religious institution. But that does not mean it can do what it wants.

“Universities are not allowed to back candidates or be involved in elections because of their status as 501c(3) nonprofits, which exempts institutions like Liberty from paying income tax and allows donors to deduct their donations from their taxes,” according to Politico. Continue reading

The Strange Case of the Pandemic Patriots

by Peter Galuszka

In rural Southwest Virginia, the coronavirus pandemic has gotten so bad that Ballad Health, a major health care provider there, is suspending elective surgery for a month.

System-wide, Ballad, which also operates in adjacent states, had 45 available beds as of Wednesday, only 13 or 14 of them ICU beds, according to the Virginia Mercury.

In Southwest Virginia, the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has soared from an average of 76 a day in late April to 361 as of Wednesday, the Mercury reports.

Meanwhile, in other rural parts of the state, such as Campbell County and Appomattox County, public officials are protesting the “tyranny” of Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID 19 restrictions, such as closing bars at 10 p.m. and not allowing people to congregate in groups larger than 25.

“Free people have a duty to push back against these restrictions,” said County Supervisor Charlie A. Watts II, according to The Washington Post.

Is this the same state? How strange since the pandemic is pushing to new heights as more people contract the disease and die. Public Enemy No. 1 is, of course, Northam, a Democrat that conservatives like to pummel. Ironically, compared to other governors, Northam has actually been fairly moderate. This week he announced he is not ordering more restrictions although he urges caution. Continue reading

The Lies in “Hillbilly Elegy”

By Peter Galuszka

A 2016 memoir by J.D. Vance, a former Ohio resident, drew praise from conservatives for its laud of self-reliance and disciple and criticism from others for its long string of debunked clichés about people from the Central Appalachians.

The book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” was held up as being a great explainer as to why so many in the White lower classes voted for Trump.

Vance exalts the strength of self-discipline, family values and hard work. He complains that when he worked as a store clerk he resented it when people on welfare had cell phones but Vance couldn’t afford one. He ended up going to Yale Law School.

Vance also spends a lot of time complaining about his dysfunctional family including a nasty grandmother, a mother constantly stoned on alcohol and opioids and lots of divorce – in other words the “social rot” of the hillbilly lifestyle he so disdains.

His tie to Appalachia is a bit thin. He grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati but spent summers in Jackson in the mountains of East Kentucky.

Now director and child actor Ron Howard has made a feel-good movie from the book that stars Glenn Close and Amy Adams. It is getting lousy reviews. Continue reading

Behind Dominion’s Shift to Renewables

Image credit: Style Weekly

By Peter Galuszka

Ever wonder why Dominion Energy found religion and announced a major shift to renewable energy?

The answer is that modern, high technology businesses want it and the Richmond-based utility wants to respond to their desires.

This one of the themes in this recent cover story I did for Style Weekly that explores how Dominion’s major shift in direction is part of several dynamics that are pushing solar wind and other renewables instead of keeping on with fossil fuel.

Here’s the reporting in a nutshell:

  • Virginia’s economy is being driven more by data centers, giant box-like warehouses loaded with servers that can handle tremendous amounts of data. Northern Virginia, the incubator of the Internet, already handles about 70% to 80% of the global Net traffic and has a mature and still growing network of data centers.
  • The Northern Virginia experience is shifting downstate. Henrico County now has a partially construction data center run by social media giant Facebook. Centers have been announced or are being planned in Southside and Southwest Virginia.

Continue reading

Why We Love Governor Ralph

Governor Northam loving those poll numbers. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Peter Galuszka

He’s been through “coonman,” “blackface,” a muddled interview about late term abortion, and aggressive and controversial steps to stop the pandemic, but Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has sprinted through a recent statewide poll with flying colors.

According to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll, more than half of Virginia’s registered voters approve of the overall job performance of Gov. Ralph Northam, and an even larger majority support his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Northam’s job approval rating of 56 percent is up from 49 percent about a year ago and from 43 percent in the wake of his blackface scandal in early 2019, “The Post said.

“His disapproval is also up, at 38 percent from 31 percent last year, with far fewer voters now expressing no opinion. But his ratings remain net positive by 18 percentage points.”

The Governor gets a drubbing on this blog, but not with people who really count, given their numbers. Continue reading

What Is Cuccinelli’s Role in Defining Extremism?

Photo credit: Forbes

By Peter Galuszka

Allegations that the Wolverine Watchmen, a far right extremist group based in Michigan, discussed kidnapping Gov. Ralph Northam draw questions about the role another Virginia politician has played in defining extremist threats.

Kenneth Cuccinelli a former Republican attorney general and failed gubernatorial candidate, has been accused of helping delay a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that designated white supremacist groups as the biggest domestic threat the country faces.

That apparently is at odds with President Donald Trump’s view that threats by the so-called “Antifa” leftist groups are the main worry.

Cuccinelli is currently acting deputy to Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that Cuccinelli helped block an assessment by former Homeland Security intelligence chief Brian Murphy that white supremacists are the larger threat. Continue reading