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Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

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The shame of Virginia’s redistricting process

If the election were held using the William and Mary model, we’d have competitive races across the commonwealth and democracy would be well served. But, of course, that’s not the way it’s going to happen.

Redistricting is not a pretty thing to watch. It’s the one time every 10 years when whatever party is in power does its best to subvert the principles of representative government. I know that sounds cynical. I didn’t mean it to be. But it’s completely accurate.
Using the recent census data, and sophisticated demographic software, they draw the district lines to make it as easy as possible to keep the party in power in its dominant position. It’s as simple as that. There is nothing democratic or representative about it.
This is easier to do than you think. Modern computer software, specifically designed for this purpose, uses income data, ethnic information, voting history, polling data, and other demographic tools to draw districts all but guaranteed to behave pretty much the way the politicians want them to. Opposition areas are often consolidated, to have as few as possible or heavily diluted, depending on how big they are, so they represent as little a threat as possible to the party in power. The emphasis is on creating as many solid seats for the party in power and giving the opposition as few seats as possible. Most of all, the goal is to keep the number of swing seats to an

Read more: The shame of Virginia’s redistricting process

The A, B, C and D lists of Presidential Politics

Larry Sabato, the noted University of Virginia commentator, likes to divide up the prospective candidates for President according to tiers. First tier, second tier, third tier, that sort of thing. All very scientific. But me, I prefer to track the Presidential candidates the way the tabloids track Hollywood Stars.

In the case of celebrities there are A listers, B listers, C listers, and D listers. And what list you’re on determines parties you get invited to, who is seen with whom, and who gets the most pictures taken by the paparazzi. A Listers get the doors flung open wherever they go. B listers are the ones who arrive in the second wave of limousines. The

Read more: The A, B, C and D lists of Presidential Politics

A snippet of history: Fort Belvoir’s nuclear power plant

If you want to surprise somebody, even in our area, which has its fair share of engineers and scientists, tell them that there is a retired nuclear plant at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. That usually will get their attention. Located at Fort Belvoir, approximately 18 miles from the White House, and not that far up the Potomac from Fredericksburg and King George, the SM-1 as its called became the first nuclear facility in the country to provide power to a commercial grid. It was in operation for 15 years.

As nuclear plants go, this was a tiny facility and was capable, at maximum operational capability, of generating 2

Read more: A snippet of history: Fort Belvoir’s nuclear power plant

2012 might not be as bright for Allen after all

When George Allen first announced his intention to try and win back his old Senate seat, my reaction, as a long time George Allen watcher, was that it was his for the taking. Allen’s luck, campaign skill, in spite of his 2006 debacle, and sense of timing, just seemed like too much for the Democrats, particularly without Jim Webb, to overcome. However, during the past few weeks my opinion, so solid at first, has shifted. Maybe, the former Governor and Senator isn’t as invincible as I once thought.

While George Allen is still the odds-on favorite to be the GOP nominee, it’s not going to be as smooth a path as it

Read more: 2012 might not be as bright for Allen after all

Mitt Romney – Back again in 2012

The race for the GOP nomination for President in 2012 is likely to be one of the most hotly contested nomination battles in the party’s history. There is a general perception that President Obama is highly vulnerable and that the Republican tide of 2010 is still rolling in.  It’s only nine months to the Iowa caucuses and this means, that for all practical purposes, campaign 2012 is already underway.

There are several candidates already off and running, and several more who are still weighing their prospects.  One

Read more: Mitt Romney – Back again in 2012

Help at last for Virginia’s roads

Virginia’s roads get a lot more use than you think. Just look at the numbers. In 1975, the year I got my driver’s license, motorists clocked roughly 95 million miles each year on the Commonwealth’s roads, highways and interstates. Thirty years later that number had risen to 225 million miles and it keeps going up. While our road infrastructure has grown and improved, the Commonwealth has still been hard pressed to keep up with that kind of demand. Anyone caught in the umpteenth cycle of a traffic light somewhere past Fredericksburg Route 3 knows exactly what I mean. Our local roads, more often than not, just can’t handle the volume.   

Sadly, for years, it seemed that nothing was getting done to address the problem on the scale it deserved. For over a decade the yearly Richmond

Read more: Help at last for Virginia’s roads

 

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