Saturday, July 20, 2013

More Virginia Shit

Growing up in Virginia I heard much about the "Virginia Way" and how this special gift made Virgina politics not only sublime, but genteel and gentlemanly.  Mills Godwin was the first Virginia politician I saw wrap himself in the Virginia Way, sniffing that a rabble-rouser like Henry Howell questioning the very cozy relationship between state government and big business was to question the foundations of the Commonwealth itself.  Godwin wasn't the last.  These days wanna-be governor Ken Cuccinelli bathers about Virginia's "very reserved traditions" even as he makes a mockery of them.

All of which makes Dahlia Lithwick's Slate column about Virginia's lax ethics laws a good read.  Not only does she see the legal absurdity of having, for all intends and purposes, no effective laws governing gifts to public officials, she also understands the deep psychology of Virginia politics.  True Virginians know that Virginia is near-perfect, a fantasy that renders all change dangerous and unwise.  Those few imperfections are preferable to the unknown danger posed by change.  Lithwick sums it up well, "given the opportunity to do something to hold [elected officials] to account, we’re somehow too romantic to try."

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dubious Propositions

Paying attention to Virginia news, especially Virgina politics, is ingrained in me even though I departed my home state long ago.  I've watched Virginia turn from a conservative Democratic (neo-Republican, in fact if not name) oligarchy into a somewhat competitive two party state.  In all those years, I never heard a candidate campaign on criminalizing consensual sexual behavior in adults.  Thanks to Ken Cuccinelli that deficit has been erased. 

Which would give me every reason to vote for his Democratic opponent, for whom I have no respect or trust.  I know Terry McAuliffe only as Clinton's bagman, a rich guy with minimal history in Virginia.  Not being Ken Cuccinelli, for whom crusading against oral and anal sex is fully in character, is more than enough to make Terry a reasonable choice.

A choice but not much of one.

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio
--Salt of the Earth
   The Rolling Stones

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nadezhda Popova, 1921-2013

Another historical detail I did not previously know:
Nadezhda Popova, a Soviet aviator who became one of the most celebrated of the so-called “Night Witches,” female military pilots who terrorized the Nazi enemy with their nocturnal air raids during World War II, died July 8. She was 91.
Ms. Popova was among the first female pilots to volunteer for service in the Soviet military during World War II and became a squadron commander in her swashbuckling all-female regiment. She flew 852 combat missions — including 18 during one night — and was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the nation’s highest decorations.
The pilots achieved a degree of surprise by shutting down their engines in the last stages of their bomb runs; the Germans heard only the hiss of the air flowing across their wings and, likening the sound to that of a broomstick in flight, referred to the women as Night Witches.
Godspeed, Commander Popova.


Women also flew for the United States during WWII.  Not in combat like the Night Witches but as WASPs.   

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Did You Know

...that there is a Missile Defense Agency Store?  You can order one of these:

 Did you know that there is a Missile Defense Agency?  You do now.