- Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 00:00
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If you read my column regularly, this won’t come as a big surprise. However, just to make sure you know from the start, I am what is called an “Anglophile.” That’s not a word I like that much. It makes me sound as if I have some sort of untreatable, even rather ominous sounding psychological disorder. Which, in spite of what you may think of my column, I don’t.
Rather, it means I like things that are British. That’s a function of several factors. I enjoy English literature, always have. I read British history and my family has strong British connections. I also had a very
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 00:00
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The 2010 elections were devastating for the Democrats. Overnight, their majority in the House of Representatives disappeared and their edge in the Senate was whittled down to just three seats. When the Congress convened in January 2011 Washington D.C. had more new Republicans in town than at any other time since 1946. The GOP was joyous, and looking two years ahead, they began to see winning the
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 00:00
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The 2012 Senate race in Virginia, just as it was back in 2006, will be a contest with national implications. It was Jim Webb’s surprise victory, late on that election night that gave the Democrats control of the Senate. While election night 2012 may not put the Commonwealth in the same pivotal position as it did six years before, when it comes to who controls the Senate the next day, the race in Virginia is going to be important. Unfortunately, the Republicans, with the all but given nomination of their long-time hero George Allen, aren’t
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 00:00
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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
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 00:00
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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
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:00
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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