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Nearly a year after members of the South Hill Volunteer Fire Department ousted longtime fire chief Rosser Wells, members of the department say he and town officials are harassing them…


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Fact, fiction and consequence / March 17, 2021
Someone remind me a year from now to go back to the archives and check whether Del. Tommy Wright’s latest column (see page A4 of The Mecklenburg Sun, Mar. 17) about how Democrats have trashed Virginia’s criminal justice system proves to be overwrought nonsense or is borne out by future events.

Because so far, the odds are heavily in favor of “overwrought nonsense.

There’s another subject that I want to get to today — one where Del. Wright could play a constructive role, rather than simply whining about all the times Republicans in Richmond have been on the losing end of General Assembly votes — but first, let’s separate some known facts from obvious fictions in the discussion of alleged law-and-order outrages enacted by the legislature this session.

Wright writes (say that three times quickly) in his column that “Democrats made it clear that they intended to continue their assault on law enforcement, and their efforts to comfort violent felons. To some extent, they succeeded.” In support of this view, he cites the abolition of Virginia’s death penalty as Exhibit #1. So how does the rhetoric square with the reality?

Sure enough, the evidence is clear that states without the death penalty have lower rates of murder than states with the death penalty. For every year from 1990 to the present, there have been more murders, on average, in states with capital punishment than those without, and the gap between the two — death penalty, no-death penalty states — has risen since 1990. These are not my opinions, this is the hard data from the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports from 1990-2018. If cold-blooded murderers are feeling so comfy and coddled in non-death penalty states, it would be odd indeed if their euphoria led them to move to states where the electric chair still operates. Perhaps Wright can explain the contradiction here?

The rest of our delegate’s crime ‘n’ punishment Richmond rundown proceeds along similar lines, equating harshness in criminal justice with effectiveness, and exaggerating the impact of some of the bills that have emerged from the 2021 session. On the subject of law enforcement officers being handcuffed by overzealous liberals, a key issue to consider is “qualified immunity,” the legal doctrine that gives cops near-total discretion to take action without fear of sanction or consequence if their decisions are motivated by something other than the need to protect others or themselves. This is a complicated subject and not one that should be boiled down to a bumper sticker (as if), but the key takeaway is that the Democratic majority in Richmond has not eliminated qualified immunity, and in fact it mostly kicked the matter to the curb for further study. Cheap rhetoric and knee-jerk action on either side only serves to discredit and dishonor the brave service of the overwhelming majority of Virginia police officers. That said, efforts to redefine qualified immunity to give wronged parties an avenue for redress, however carefully ascribed, represent a necessary effort to curb the worst abuses against innocents that keeps turning up on cellphone videos. The fact that Wright and his ilk choose to ignore this fact — and gloss over footage that turns up on the nightly news with some regularity, and which people can see and consider for themselves — may help explain why Wright and his party find themselves without the votes in Richmond to prevail in their views.

But enough on this subject for now. It’s all basically standard-issue slash ‘n’ burn politics that has been the Republican Party’s stock in trade for generations now. (I’m so old that I remember when Tim Kaine had to defend his opposition to the death penalty against a barrage of withering campaign ads that junked up TV sets for months during the 2005 gubernatorial campaign. Things worked out okay for future Governor Kaine, now U.S. Sen. Kaine.)

So let’s look at a different partisan obsession, which I’d really prefer not to foul up by mixing in politics, but, well ....

From (citing them this time because of all their bullet-point goodness:)

Americans of all ages, education levels, genders, races and political parties say they’re more likely than not to get the coronavirus vaccine — except Republicans.

Why it matters: Vaccine hesitancy is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, and it hasn’t been improving much as the vaccination effort continues, according to Civiqs polling.

By the numbers: 41 percent of Republicans say they don’t plan to get a vaccine if it’s available to them. Only 33 percent say they do plan to get vaccinated ....

Blue states have lower rates of vaccine refusal than red states, and battleground states are generally somewhere in the middle.

Wyoming, North Dakota and Mississippi have some of the highest rates of vaccine refusal, while Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut have some of the lowest.

The bottom line: The virus doesn’t care about politics, and it certainly won’t confine itself to states with the largest unvaccinated populations.

Hear, hear. Is Tommy Wright open to using his column for some purpose other than to bash Democrats? Will Wright (who actually got COVID-19) urge his followers to get their shots? What say ye, Honorable Delegate?

I’m going to skip the obvious commentary here and direct your attention to a story that appeared a week ago in the Idaho Statesman newspaper. It’s about Paul Russell, a 63-year-old truck driver who contracted COVID-19. The title: “Idaho man thought ‘the virus would disappear the day after the election.’ He was wrong.”

An excerpt:

Russell once thought the coronavirus wasn’t a real threat. He didn’t believe in masks. All that has changed.

“Before I came down with the virus, I was one of those jackasses who thought the virus would disappear the day after the election. I was one of those conspiracy theorists,” he said.

Instead, he was in the hospital with COVID-19 a week after the election.

“All these people that are saying that it’s fake, blah blah blah, they’re lying to themselves,” he said.

“COVID gave me a foggy memory, it gave me — I occasionally have speech problems.”

His scans show scarred lungs. He has pain in different parts of his body. He has dizzy spells. His heart races when he gets up to do anything.

He said taking a shower can raise his heart rate to 128 beats per minute — at his age, the upper range for vigorous exercise — and drop his blood oxygen to levels far below normal.

When he returned home from the hospital, he developed “what they call ‘COVID foot,’ ” he said. “The bottoms of my feet were cracking, and it felt like I was walking on needles.”

A course of steroids helped with that, he said.

Since he got infected on the job, Russell said he’s receiving workers’ compensation. But it’s not enough to afford house payments, so he’s selling his family’s home to move to a less expensive suburb.

After a life-saving hospital stay, his perspective has changed, he said.

One of his nurses told him that eight patients left the ICU the same week as him, but he was “the only one that didn’t have a toe tag,” he said. He asked her to take his toe tag and shred it.

“Life is no good right now,” he said. “Except for one thing: I’m alive.”

For the full version, click here.

Hey folks, as vaccines become more and more available, whaddaya say we all get our shots?

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