The only press coverage that Goode is getting for his wacky fourth-party presidential bid is for the possibility that he may be a spoiler for Romney in Virginia. This is another story in that vein. If Romney does lose Virginia by Goode’s Tuesday tally, a lot of people will be upset, but I’m pretty confident that Goode will not be among them. This is his fourth political party in the past decade—if need be, he’ll just join a new one. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
I’m amazed that they even bothered to fact-check Marshall’s claim that being gay “cuts your life by about 20 years,” since it’s obviously false. To their credit, they contacted the author of the study that constitutes Marshall’s evidence, who said that Marshall is guilty of a “gross misrepresentation” of his research, and that he is “misusing the data” by using his study “to support the notion that gay and bisexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early.” →
At 508 miles, Route 58 is the longest numbered road in Virginia. It stretches from Cumberland Gap to Virginia Beach, passing through Martinsville, Danville, Emporia, and Franklin along the way. When living in the New River Valley, I looked at taking it as a shortcut to the Outer Banks. That would have been a very long drive, indeed—460 is the way to go. It was built in 1931, using much of the 1918 State Routes 12 and 10. →
At long, long last, the state is accepting lobbyist registrations and disclosures electronically. I gather that lobbyists must use this—they can’t keep filing on paper. Pssst, Virginia! Don’t make me FOIA these records, just let me download them! →
On the blog for my State Decoded project, I explain how a bill becomes law. Hint: It’s not how you think. →
Remember in 2008, when every Republican senator in the General Assembly voted against the the budget bill, how they were labelled “obstructionists”?
Yeah, me neither. →
The state legislature routinely puts together commissions that conclude by issuing a report about its assigned topic. Dozens of reports have been published this year, on topics as varied as “Management of State-owned Bottomlands on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore” and “Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors in Virginia.” Although most of the older reports have only the title—not the report itself—some old ones and all of the recent ones can be read on the General Assembly’s website, clear back to 1897. →
Chicago recently announced that they’d be sharing the GPS-tracked positions of snowplows online, for people wondering when their neighborhood would be plowed, and what roads are cleared. Now VDOT is doing the same in Virginia, although only upstate. →
- Bloomberg: Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales
The Koch Brothers have secretly, criminally sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, an enemy of the United States with whom it is unquestionably illegal to do business. This is no aberration for these bastards—they're out for a buck, and they don't care how they get it.
- Commonwealth Data Point: Expenditures by Agency
Wondering what the state spends its money on? Here's the state's checkbook, by agency, so read to your heart's content. A warning: good luck with the weird menu system. Somebody apparently thought that rather than menu items, it would be fun to just give people a single letter to try to decipher. O? F? S? P? I don't get it.
- MSNBC: Bachmann condemns Arab Spring, blames it on Obama
If stupid were bricks, she'd have a lot of bricks.
- PolitiFact: George Allen changes stance again on ethanol subsidies
Allen was against ethanol subsidies. Then he was for them. Now he's against them. It's got to be dizzying, change positions every time the political wind shifts.
- PolitiFact: Virginia GOP says Phil Puckett voted against sending EPA a message
PolitiFact finds the RPV's criticism of Sen. Puckett to be "absurd," rating it "pants on fire" on their "Truth-o-Meter."
- Kudzu and the Marriage Amendment
Sex is not binary. I don't mean that in a fluffy pick-yer-gender-identity way, but in a very real biological way. Sex is a spectrum. In this essay, Rick Moen provides a series of examples of the many ways that labeling sexes can be difficult (Exhibit A: Caster Semenya), and how opposite-sex marriage laws could actually legally mandate same-sex marriage for some people.
- Gratiot County Herald Letters To The Editor
Ithaca, Michigan school superintendent Nathan Bootz wrote an open letter to the governor to ask that his school system be converted to a prison, noting that Michigan spends $30,000–$40,000/year on each prisoner, but only $7,000/year on each student.
- WVEC: Taxpayers foot the bill when the governor flies on state aircraft
I don't think it's inherently bad that Bob McDonnell is using state aircraft more than prior governors, but using a state plane to fly his family to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival to have his daughter crowned as queen? Less good. More problematic is the governor's office's response to WVEC's FOIA request, trying to figure out how to avoid responding, and offering conceptual excuses—it's a long drive from Virginia Beach to Cumberland Gap, it's a money saver—for which there's no real-world scenarios that support those claims.
- New York Times: Steady Decline in Major Crime Baffles Experts
Violent crime is at at forty-year low. Combine this with the recent news that divorce is at a thirty-year low, and you can see how the pervasive claims of alarmists are just foolishness. Those who would have you believe that our country is more dangerous and marriages more disposable than ever are either ignorant or trying to sell you something.
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has announced their annual Muzzle Awards, highlighting the very worst offenders of the right to free speech, and Virginia managed to get two of the eight “awards.” The Virginia Department of Corrections was rightly upbraided for barring a prisoner from buying a buying a legal self-help book. And Albemarle High School made the cut for destroying the entire print run of an issue of the student newspaper for running a column that questioned the value of gym class. Other winners include President Obama and BP, the TSA, among others.
(You’ll remember the TJ Center as having been one of the three groups that represented me when I was fighting a subpoena a couple of years ago. I’m a long-time fan of the organization.)
- PolitiFact: Bob McDonnell says he cut $6 billion from Virginia’s budget
Gov. McDonnell keeps claiming that he cut $6B from the budget "by cutting spending, not raising taxes." This is a lie. Spending reductions eliminated just $2.34B from the budget, only slightly more than the $1.9B of funding provided by federal stimulus dollars. (Apparently, federal stimulus money is "cutting spending.") The balance of the $6B is bookkeeping chicanery—mere slight of hand.
- New York Times: The Prosecution Rests, but I Can’t
John Thompson spent fourteen years on death row for a robbery and a murder, neither of which he committed. Prosecutors knew he hadn't done it—they covered up the ample evidence demonstrating his innocence. If a private investigator hadn't uncovered the conspiracy against him, he'd have been executed by now. In this op-ed, Thompson wonders what to make of a legal system where doing this to him and others is perfectly legal, as the Supreme Court ruled last month.
- Los Angeles Times: Ikea—Workers’ complaints surround Ikea’s U.S. factory
Ikea's Danville factory is becoming a national shame in Sweden. The story is par for the course for Virginia—the company is treating workers terribly, allegedly discriminating against black employees, paying employees terribly and providing lousy benefits. The employees have tried to unionize, but a) Ikea is preventing them from doing so—despite their corporate commitment to unions—and b) it's Virginia.
Woot! It's not just open government—it's open government about open government. Virginia needs one of these.
- Virginian Pilot: Va. House members back redistricting plan
The state's House of Representatives delegation have agreed on a redistricting plan that would protect all incumbents. Let's all pause and put on our best surprised faces. Griffith's district grows to take some of Goodlatte's, absorbing Martinsville from Hurt's district. Rigell's district grows to take some of Wittman's, while Wittman's district expands up towards D.C. Connolly gets Reston and Herdon, losing conservative parts of Prince William for more liberal parts of the county. Everybody wins. Except voters.
- Tumblr: Virginia Coalition for Open Government
If you're not already following VCOG on Twitter or the VCOG blog, you might follow it on its new Tumblog. I'd be surprised if there is a more open, active state-level open government organization group in the nation. (Disclaimer: I'm on the board, though I've had nothing to do with any of this outreach.)
Because I’m a big dork, when I encounter Virginia place names that I’m not familiar with, I like to look them up on Google Maps and see how many times I have to zoom out until I recognize what part of the state that the place is. Sometimes there’s a highway or a river that allows me to round it down to a particular chunk of Virginia. Sometimes there’s a park or another town nearby that I can place. But sometimes I’ve got to zoom out an awfully long way before I can find something familiar to grab onto. My progress in the Commonwealth Quest has been helpful in getting to know Virginia better, but I think it’d take a lifetime to learn every nook and cranny.
Here are a few out-of-the-way places, by way of example.
How long did it take you to place them?
WVTF is running a “Captive Audio” series, and they’ve been featuring audio that’s been unearthed from 60s Virginia record label Arcania. I loved .