Tag Archives: Social breakdown

A Life of Low-Level Crime

Chelsea Eileen Steiniger

by James A. Bacon

Meet Chelsea Eileen Steiniger, a 31-year-old Buckingham County woman who, according to The Daily Progress, may have accomplished the feat of having been arrested more often — 63 times — than anyone else in Central Virginia.

One reason she has been arrested so frequently, it appears, is the leniency of judges who are reluctant to sentence her to jail time.

“It’s become a philosophy that you don’t want to put someone in prison for a low-level, low-dollar-amount crime,” Charlottesville lawyer Scott Goodman told the newspaper. “It’s basically treated as a sickness as much as it is a crime these days. If you show any kind of an effort that you’re trying to overcome your addiction, that goes a long way with the courts.” Continue reading

Things Fall Apart: Loudoun County Edition

Loudoun County is not Appalachia. Loudoun County is not the inner city. It is, in fact, one of the most affluent counties — sometimes the most affluent county — in the country. But something is very, very wrong, and you can’t blame it on poverty. From Loudoun Now:

In a statement emailed to division parents just before 8 p.m. Nov. 1, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence said there have been 10 suspected overdoses at six of high schools [sic] this year. The news from school officials comes one day after the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying it was investigating eight student opioid related overdoses at Park View High School.

Referencing the Loudoun overdoses, Governor Glenn Younkin called for greater school transparency with parents. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Ungovernable Virginia

It’s not just the big stuff we need to worry about — broken borders, riots, crime waves, school shootings — we need to pay attention to the little stuff, too: small things that betray the fraying of the social fabric. Some instances in today’s headlines:

From WAVY-TV: “Video shows man choking county attorney at Gloucester Co. meeting.” Cell phone video taken at a public meeting to discuss a bond referendum shows Gloucester County resident Lawrence Cohen with one hand holding a microphone and the other choking Gloucester County Attorney Edwin N. “Ted” Wilmot. I know nothing about the issues or personalities involved, but that’s just not acceptable. Choking people in public hearings is not the kind of thing that used to happen.

Meanwhile, Arlington County Public Schools is rolling out a new “electronic campus management platform” at several schools, reports ARL Now. The platform will allow schools to regulate the number of students in the halls and going in and out of buildings. Sounds like Orwellian overkill for a school disciplinary problem. What’s next? Artificial Intelligence to decide who gets a hall pass and who doesn’t? Continue reading

Poking the Woke, and Human Waste in Charlottesville

California comes to Charlottesville: urine, feces, hypodermic needles, trash, and all.

“Affordable housing.”

by Jock Yellott

“What happened to the First Amendment in this country . . . ?” demanded somebody calling himself ‘Rudy Hess.’ Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook cut the audio. This was late in the City Council meeting, about 10 p.m. during public comments mostly taken up by remarks on Charlottesville’s new homeless tent city.

Several previous callers had exhausted Snook’s patience and good humor. They started by pretending to be agreeably Woke. “Speaking as a transgender person,” said one before launching into obscenities, which had to be cut off. Another, ‘Sadie Enwird’ (sound it out after you finish the paragraph) claimed to be a Social Worker helping the homeless. Two minutes later she broke into a toxic rant: “The best solution is to round them all up and send them back to Africa, all these fucking niggers . . . ” Such hate speech, the City Attorney opined, justified cutting her off, too.

Then came ‘Rudy Hess.’ The original Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess sentenced at Nuremburg, committed suicide in prison at age 93. Why would a dead Nazi war criminal poseur phone in to Charlottesville’s City Council? Or the others who were cut off?

Calling it Poking the Woke.

City Council and the Woke champions of the “unhoused” who dominate public comments in the last couple of meetings are easy targets. The activists hurl invective and obscenities of their own, as well as indulging in make-believe. They fomented a fake grievance to loosen the City’s purse strings and get funding for a homeless shelter. From the video of the City Council meeting September 18, 2023, starting at 2:53:19:

There was a incident at the park, where one of the officers kicked the young man that was setting here …. [The officer] was trying to wake him up. But instead of gently touching him … he decided to kick him. And … prior to that … your officers went over to Lee Park and woke everybody up, and made ’em leave with the exception of the white people that were in the park.

He kicked that boy like he was kicking a football down the field to the other team,” another alleged witness told our local paper, the Daily Progress. “He put his soul into that kick.

Continue reading

Is K-12 Absenteeism Too Complex a Problem for an Administrative Fix?

Source: Virginia Department of Education. There is a strong correlation between days of school missed and educational under-achievement.

by James A. Bacon

In releasing the 2023 Standards of Learning (SOL) scores, which showed marginal overall improvement from the disastrous 2022 results, Team Youngkin added a bit of useful analysis — it drew a connection between poor educational performance and school absenteeism.

The Virginia Department of Education press release noted that students in 3rd through 8th grades who missed more than 18 days of school scored 18% lower in reading exams than students with regular attendance. Students who missed more than 36 days scored 43% lower. Similar discrepancies occurred in the math exams.

This should come as a surprise to no one. Students can’t learn if they’re not in school (or home school, which these children are not).

To raise SOL scores, the Youngkin administration is targeting the school skippers. #AttendanceMattersVA, according to DOE, “works with Virginia schools and parents to increase attendance by communicating the importance of attendance to families, expanding breakfast after the bell programs, ensuring that every child has a trusted adult at school, monitoring and celebrating successes, and reducing barriers to attendance such as transportation and mental health challenges.”

Clearly, something must be done. These ideas seem as reasonable as any other. But I fear that the problem may be so deeply rooted in social dysfunction that the initiative will prove ineffective. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Plumbing New Depths of Depravity

“I shot that bitch dead!” Those are the words of the six-year-old student at Richneck Elementary School in January shortly after he shot his teacher Abigail Zwerner, according to recently unveiled court documents reported by The Virginian-Pilot.  One has to ask: in what kind of world does a six-year-old child think that way? In what kind of world would a six-year-old who thinks that way actually carry out his violent intent? Somehow, we have come to live in a world in which many families fail to teach the most basic norms of civilized behavior. I apologize: I shouldn’t have used the word “civilized.” Even in so-called uncivilized societies, young children don’t behave that way. The United States of America has reached a new stage in human social evolution that is more debased than any other.

Parents’ rights and social media. Speaking of plumbing new depths of depravity, there is a growing sense that social media has a corrosive effect on America’s children — mainstreaming pornography, violence, and reckless, self-destructive behavior. Social media was a major topic of conversation in a “parents matter” town hall meeting that Governor Glenn Youngkin held in Hanover County yesterday. Said one participant: “It is like closing a door with all the windows open. I feel like anyone can come in at any time, and as much as we try to protect our children, it’s really hard and you feel incredibly vulnerable.” Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Social Breakdown Update

Every so often you might read some uplifting story in the news — a woman is rescued from a burning car, a charity raises money to buy Christmas toys for homeless tots — that makes you feel better about the world. Don’t be gulled. We live in the wealthiest society with the highest level of education and the most advanced technology the world has ever seen. Yet things are getting worse! Signs of the times pulled from today’s headlines:

Virginia sees highest number of babies born with syphilis in several decades. Reports WAVY-TV: The number of syphilis cases in Virginia has rebounded to the highest level in years.  The rate among women has surged 159% between 2013 and 2021, which drives up the rate of syphilis in newborns.  The Virginia Department of Health reported 20 cases of congenital syphilis last year, the highest number in three decades. Up to 40% are born stillborn or die from the infection. Survivors can have deformed bones, an enlarged liver, blindness or deafness.

Meanwhile, the death rate of American kids is skyrocketing. Deaths of American kids spiked 205% between 2019 and 2020, the result of increased car wrecks, shootings and drug overdoses, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. According to Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Steven Woolf , even poisonings are up. Woolf said he has not seen an increase like this in his career. “This is a red flashing light. We need to understand the causes and address them immediately to protect our children.” Motor vehicle fatalities remain the highest cause of childhood death, but homicides and suicides are catching up. Continue reading

So Crazy That You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

A defund-the-police protest in downtown Charlottesville. Photo credit: The Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

I’ve just returned from a week in Costa Rica. The country is beautiful and the people are friendly. More than that, they’re sane. I saw none of the zaniness that is routinely on display in Los Estados Unidos. By contrast, here at home the lunacy is so loco that it could emanate only from a people educated by a system bent upon extinguishing rational thought, and possessed by a naïveté so extreme that they believe in the social-justice equivalent of unicorns and leprechauns.

Costa Rica defunded its army back in 1948, a fact lauded by many on the left. But the country still has a police force. During my stay, the police were very much in evidence — pistol-packing guards in the airport, motorcycle cops enforcing the speed limit ($600 fines!), and agents who enforce the nation’s strict immigration laws. (Nicaraguans who overstay their visas are quickly booted out.) Maybe Costa Rican nut cases are calling for defunding the police, but they haven’t had much impact. According to Wikipedia, the number of police per 100,000 population in Costa Rica is 297 (2012 figures) — more than that of the U.S. at 242 (2019 figures).

In Charlottesville yesterday, a group calling itself SURJ, which is dedicated to ending “white supremacy,” held a protest downtown to defund the police… this in a small city where, even The Daily Progress acknowledges, gun violence is (pardon the pun) SURGing: nine homicides and 18 injuries since September. In 2021, the city had reported zero homicides, and only five the year before that.

The solution? “Loving and supporting one another,” according to one scribbler on the city’s free speech wall.

Consider the words of a certain Laura Sirgany to The Daily Progress. Her interactions with police have been negative, she said. Continue reading

About That 6-Year-Old’s “Acute Disability”…

by James A. Bacon

Kudos to The Washington Post for continuing to dig into the particulars of the shooting by a 6-year-old student of a Newport News elementary school teacher. The latest revelations raise urgent questions about the causes of the breakdown of discipline at Richneck Elementary School and other schools across the commonwealth.

As the Post reports, school officials downplayed repeated warnings about the boy’s behavior, dismissing a threat to light a teacher on fire and watch her die.

Speaking through their attorney, the boy’s parents said that he has an “acute disability.” In one instance, he wrote a note saying that he hated his teacher and wanted to set her on fire. In another, he threw furniture, prompting students to hide beneath their desks. In yet another, he barricaded the doors to a classroom, preventing a teacher and students from leaving.

A six-year-old terrorizing the class. I shudder to think what he’ll be like when he’s ten or twelve.

The main question consuming the media is how the child gained access to a handgun, which his parents stated they store out of reach with a trigger lock. That’s a legitimate question. But there’s another: why was that child in school in the first place? Continue reading

Tech Complexity and the New Dark Age

by James A. Bacon

There are numerous existential threats to Western Civilization — reckless fiscal and monetary policies leading to government collapse, the rush toward a zero-carbon economy supported by a shaky electric grid, and, least appreciated, the increasing complexity of technology and information systems. We have brought the first two dangers upon ourselves, and we theoretically have the power to reverse them. But we are powerless to deal with the fourth.

I have ranted in the past about system complexity. Like most Americans, I live on the Internet now. I cannot function without it. And it’s a mess. Infuriated by recent incidents, I feel compelled to escalate from rant to fulmination. Imagine me typing these words with spittled lips and fire shooting out of my eyes.

My consternation began earlier this week when I was spending the night out of town on business. My old laptop was frustratingly slow and klunky, so I broke down, went to Best Buy and purchased a new one. When I brought my shiny new Samsung back to the hotel and tried to set it up, I got caught in a Catch 22. I couldn’t establish an Internet connection, my laptop informed me, because the time on the laptop’s internal clock needed resetting. But I couldn’t reset the clock because… I couldn’t get on the Internet! Continue reading

Conservatives Are Exaggerating Violence In Schools: Newport News Edition

Hot off the wires from The Virginian-Pilot:

A teacher was injured in a shooting Friday afternoon at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, according to police and school officials.

No students were injured but an adult was taken to the hospital. Police believe they have the person responsible in custody and said there is no longer an active shooter.

A Newport News school district spokesperson confirmed the adult is a teacher. The extent of the teacher’s injuries [was] unknown.

Never fear. This won’t affect teacher morale. I have it on the highest authority that the explanation for the increasingly acute teacher shortage in Virginia is the Youngkin administration’s policies on transgenderism and prohibition on the teaching of “real” history!


Inmates Running the Asylum

by James A. Bacon

Inmates in the City of Richmond jail have cell phones, we are learning. They’re not supposed to, but they do. When a deputy attempted to confiscate one not long ago, he (or she) was surrounded by inmates with knives, according to WRIC. Deputies have been physically assaulted, too. Many fear for their safety, which is not surprising considering that the jail is severely short-staffed; 168 of 385 positions (44%) are vacant.

We can surmise that morale isn’t the greatest when deputies are complaining to local media and Sheriff Antionette Irving has taken to giving the deputies polygraph tests. Irving says the jail administers the polygraphs because of “safety and security” considerations. She wants to know if “things are coming through the front door, the back door, or the mail.” Whistle blowers say she’s running deputies through the polygraph to find out whom they’re talking to.

Deputies are talking to Reva Trammel, among other people. The Richmond councilwoman has taken her concerns to local media and has written a letter to Robert Mosier, Virginia secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. The letter cited three inmate deaths this year and “a growing number” of assaults on deputies. WRIC claims to have seen documents indicating that inmates have inflicted “several deputy injuries” in the last month.

“We’ve only had a few major assaults. We have had little incidents take place, but they haven’t resulted in injury,” Irving told the television station. “We’re doing a good job collectively to keep all of us safe.” Continue reading

“Violence Is Spinning Out of Control”

Richmond crime scene. Photo credit: WWBT NBC 12.

by Jon Baliles

On Wednesday, CBS6 Crime Insider Jon Burkett gave an interview to John Reid on WRVA about the rising and scary number of shootings happening all over the region, most of them in the city.

He noted that as of Wednesday morning there had been 12 shootings in the previous 7 days, and 10 just in the previous 5 days, with two murders.

He talks about how a lot of it is driven by feuds on social media and then gives a scary quote: “Credit the surgeons at VCU — if we didn’t have them, we’d be in really big trouble,” while also noting that their job in the ER is the “equivalent to a combat surgeon.”

He goes into more detail and talks about one woman who was interviewed whose brother had been murdered and she wondered why he was even out on the street – he had 13 serious felonies on his record. Burkett also said he was threatened by someone in a passing car while he was conducting an interview following a shooting. Does it feel like we are turning or have turned things around? Continue reading

When There Are No Consequences for Bad Behavior, the Consequence Is Bad Behavior

Brookland Middle School. Photo credit: Forrest Shelor / 8News

by James A. Bacon

At some public schools across the state last year, educators relaxed standards for everything from classroom attendance to cell phone usage out of a sense that children who had spent a year doing remote learning needed to ease back into learning at school. Adults effectively relinquished control, and anarchy followed. (See “No Grades, No Discipline, No Structure, No Learning.”) School officials say they learned their lesson, and they are trying to reestablish order in the new school year.

But educators are finding that it’s not easy putting the genie back in the bottle.

As WRIC reports, school divisions across Central Virginia are addressing internal security policies and procedures “amid a rash of in-school violence in local academic buildings.”

Brookland Middle School in Henrico County was put on “lock and teach” status — school and classroom doors are locked while teaching continues — after a 7th-grade student was hospitalized from a locker-room stabbing. Several students at Highland Springs High School, also in Henrico, had to be treated for pepper spray after a School Resource Officer used the chemical to break up a fight.

“There is an enormity of threat, both inside and outside the school building,” Richmond school board member Jonathan Young said Tuesday. “In a year, we average something like 20,000 incidents. To be clear, not all of them materialize in a melee or all-in assault on a student. But too frequently, they do.” Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Special Societal Dysfunction Edition

Parents can’t be trusted. Childhood gender dysphoria diagnoses leaped 70% from 2020 to 2021. More than 40,000 children received the diagnosis nationally in 2021, up from 15,000 in 2017, reports Reuters, citing a Komodo Health Inc. analysis. The number of children on puberty blockers more than doubled between 2017 to 2021 to more than 5,000 — 1,390 cases added last year alone. Against this backdrop, Charlottesville City Schools has declared its opposition to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s transgender guidelines for public schools that would give parents the power to decide the names, pronouns, restrooms and locker rooms their children use.

Can you say, “lower standards”? Ninety-two percent of Virginia’s public high school students graduated in 2022. That’s a tad higher than the pre-COVID graduation rate of 91.5 for the Class of 2019 — even though high school students in 2022 suffered massive learning loss during the pandemic and consistently under-performed the Class of 2019 students in their Standards of Learning test scores.

No, wait, don’t kill all the lawyers. We still need some. Facing high caseloads and a “dwindling staff,” reports the News & Advance, the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney has made the decision not to participate in the prosecution of some misdemeanors. Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison said the number of attorneys is 27% shy of what it should be. If police want to prosecute trespassing, drunk in public, altered license plates, or driving with a suspended license as standalone charges, they will have to handle the cases themselves. Unfortunately, the police department is suffering a labor shortage, too — with 28 vacancies reported in the fall of 2021. Continue reading