March 21, 2006 [LINK]

Political geography in Virginia

Thanks to Chris Green, the unabashed gun nut and T-shirt mogul, I came across a wonderful Web site,, that includes an interactive map (much like the "dynamic diagrams" on my Baseball pages) that shows the evolution of counties in Virginia since the early colonial days of Jamestown. It is a truly splendid resource, especially for history and geography buffs like me. It also sheds light on one of the odd peculiarities of the Commonwealth: Unlike every other state in the Union, cities are considered entirely separate from, and independent of, the counties in which they are located. If you have ever seen a nationwide county-by-county electoral or demographic map, you will notice that Virginia contains many small "urban islands" within its counties' borders. I remember some civic meeting I attended in Charlottesville in the mid-1990s, at which then-Council member Kay Slaughter was explaining why some proposed project couldn't be done. (It might have concerned schools or roads, but I forget the details.) I made the point that the problem stemmed from Virginia's unique arrangement, and that many problems could be solved if the state constitution were amended to erase the artificial division between cities and counties.

When I took a closer look at the post-1900 maps that show the separate cities, however, I realized to my horror that Staunton was missing! Well, nobody's perfect.

"It's all about Hillary"

Chris also drew my attention to a useful and interesting Web site, Just Hillary, which is run by New York Post political editor Gregg Birnbaum. It purports to be an impartial compilation of the latest news and comments about New York's junior senator, and seems to do a very good job. Rush Limbaugh has pointed out that Senator Clinton has been reticent about the recent Dubai Ports World uproar, perhaps because her husband has done lobbying for some business interests in the United Arab Emirates.