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I was elated by the results of Virginia's 2017 election for the House of Delegates. The level of support for Democratic candidates was amazing. Surely, we'd be able to march into Richmond and make things right. Alas, my hopes were dashed when I realized that despite the overwhelming number of votes against them, the Republican Party still controls the House of Delegates. I set out to figure out why. I pulled data from a variety of sources (please be sure to check my source notes for details) and ran some analysis. It appears to me that gerrymandering will likely keep the House of Delegates in Republican hands for the foreseeable future due to an efficiency gap of nearly 16%. The way that the districts are apportioned means that a very large number of Democratic votes are wasted. The next re-apportionment happens after the 2020 census, but to be able to positively impact that, the Democrats need to control the House of Delegates or the U.S. Supreme Court needs to rule that this type of gerrymandering is unconstitutional.

...continue reading "This Is What Gerrymandering Looks Like in Virginia"

Originally published February 28, 2003

Theodore Roosevelt

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

Iraq Map

The Bush Adminstration has been presenting the Iraq issue as a choice between war or voluntary disarmament by Saddam. Since everyone knows — even the French — that Saddam will never voluntarily disarm, then that means war is the only alternative. Or is it? I happen to think that inspections are going well. They've turned up those missiles and some chemical artillery shells. At the very least, Saddam can't develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) while foreigners are cavorting all across Iraq. Sure, it will take time, but if the real goal is to prevent the use of WMD, then war is the last option you'll want to take.

George W. Bush
Photo by Eric Draper, White House.

And that, I believe, is the crux of the issue: George W Bush doesn't really care whether WMD will be used. He wants war because it will further his goals. What those are, I can only guess: increase his poll numbers, distract the public so his tax cuts and other domestic initiatives can sail through un-opposed, or perhaps he is just a trigger-happy cowboy. I don't know, but it scares the crap out of me.


These are the core principles that guide my beliefs.

We are all in this together

We cannot exclude anyone from the benefits our nation confers. All of us, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual preference or citizenship. True, being a citizen confers certain rights and responsibilities, but not being one doesn't put you beyond the pale.

Let's be careful about using the label "them".

We are the government

There is no other institution that allows all of us to act together. Businesses are beholden to their owners, religions to their god(s).

If we abdicate our responsibilities as citizens, since politics abhors a power vacuum, someone will step in and they will not likely care about everyone.

Consider, too, that since we are the government, the government acts in our name.

Good guys don't shoot first

It's tempting, I know. Holding back means good people will get hurt or killed. I agree, it's sucks in the short term. However, long term, it shows the world who the bad guys are and it makes sure that our wrath, when it is stirred, is properly directed.

This applies domestically as much as on the international scene.

Don't be a dick

We should work to make sure that all of those who need help, get it, even at the cost of some undeserving reaping benefit. I do not want to hurt those who need help in an effort to stick it to the bad actors.

Don't be stupid

Don't let our principles lead us off a cliff. We should constantly evaluate our actions and their impact. If something doesn't seem right, revisit the core principles. Maybe it's an unavoidable situation. Or maybe we need to readjust how we act.