Adventures With The Virginia Courts Case Information System

Regarding the DWI charges against Mrs. Sayre, Republitarian cited: “Case # for first offense GV03000972-00. Case # for second offense GT063034-00.” I don’t live in the 24th, but I thought it might be fun to do a little fact-checking on this today. (I applaud Republitarian for giving voters the means to independently verify these claims.) I fired up the Virginia Courts Case Information system and started looking. Here’s what I found:

GV03000972-00 (screenshot) is a civil case filed in Rockbridge County/Lexington by the Commonwealth of Virginia against Mrs. Sayre in August 2003. The nature and result of the case is not shown.

“GT063034-00” isn’t a valid case number and returned no matches. I tried some other permutations without any success. I then tried searching for the name “Sayre” in SWAC-area counties and found:

GT06000444-00 (screenshot): A misdemeanor DWI filed in Staunton against Mrs. Sayre in January 2006. It looks like a fine was paid and her license was suspended for a year. I’m not familiar enough with legal lingo to tell whether there was any jail time served. The charge was “amended” (whatever that means) from a “DWI, 2ND” to a “DWI, 1ST.”

From this I’m satisfied that at least one DWI charge is factual and in the public record.

P.S. You might be wondering why I would care about Mr. Sayre’s family since I don’t live in the 24th District. It’s because I believe fact-checking is a crucial part of the modern political process, especially with the apparent ascendancy of completely unaccountable political blogs. Somebody needs to protect the public from overzealous activists. :)

P.P.S. The New Dominion did similar fact-checking, but they must have better “online court records” than I do, because I saw no indication that the 2003 case was DWI-related. (They also called John Maxfield an “editor.”)

P.P.P.S. I should get some kind of medal for spending so much time in the Virginia Courts Case Information system. It’s icky.


I’m sorry to say that I just turned on Blogspot’s “word verification” for comments. I finally got sick of deleting comment spam. I personally can’t stand CAPTCHAs, so I apologize for the inconvenience.

Ringside In The 24th District Primary

Grab the soda and popcorn, it’s getting ugly in the Virginia 24th district primary race! Republitarian just reported that candidate Scott Sayre’s wife has been charged with driving while intoxicated — not once but twice. SWAC Girl called the report “slanderous,” although I think she is using a different dictionary than mine, because that word sort of implies “false,” which would require some sort of contradictory evidence to the DWI claims. All we’re getting from Sayre-supporters so far is a stream of ad hominems, followed by a quick change of subject. It’s Virginia grassroots politics at its finest!

Early Retirement

Cindy Sheehan has “resigned” as the face of the anti-war movement, two days after announcing that she left the Democratic Party.

The early retirement was apparently the result of two days of criticism from Democrats, including some from our own local Daily Kos affiliate, Raising Kaine. The gist of the criticism is: “America will always be a Two-Party System, and the Democratic Party is the only hope for war protesters, so it is foolish and irresponsible to leave The All-Knowing, All-Seeing, All-Powerful Democratic Party.” (I am paraphrasing slightly.)

But that’s not even the worst part. After two days of pounding from Democrats, now she’s getting non-stop criticism from Republicans, too. They are piling-on with fiendish glee, as if Sheehan leaving the anti-war scene is some kind of major endorsement of violence and brutality. (“Cindy Sheehan quit! We won! Violence really IS the answer!”)

I never particularly cared for Sheehan’s brand of politics, but I feel bad about her being on the receiving end of non-stop verbal abuse from the entire political blogosphere. I hope she turns off her Internet connection, disconnects her phone, and finally starts grieving for her son.

Operation: Mindcrime II

I was interested to see that Queensrÿche released a sequel to Operation: Mindcrime a few years ago. I just got it last week. I had very low expectations, because I think Queensrÿche peaked in the mid- to late-90s, and their last couple of albums have been occasionally good, but overall nothing to write home about.

The original Operation: Mindcrime concept album was the last of Queensrÿche’s more operatic metal efforts of the 80s, which were not as appealing to me as their efforts in the 90s. But OMC’s dark, tragic story grew on me after a while (it’s a bit like a Shakespearean tragedy mixed with the Manchurian Candidate, all set to progressive metal music), and I thought it was interesting to hear the seeds of what I liked in their later works.

Operation: Mindcrime II picks up the story of anti-hero Nikki 18 years after OMC. The music is very different from OMC, but that’s not surprising, since the band is also 18 years older and lacking one of its principle founding members. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Just be aware that if you try to listen to both albums one after another, expecting a seamless transition, you’re going to be disappointed.

But having said that, I’m surprised to say that OMC II is growing on me just like the original did. It starts off a little weak (and puzzlingly upbeat), but it builds momentum (much like the original, actually), and by the end it’s almost mesmerizing. There is a pretty harsh edge that I haven’t seen in Queensrÿche music for a while, and a few new twists on the band’s sound.

OMC II is definitely Queensrÿche’s most theatric effort since the original OMC. Parts of it sound like classic rock opera material — “The Chase,” for example, with guest vocalist Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath fame, sounds like it could have come right out of Phantom of the Opera. Unlike the original OMC, there isn’t very much political or societal commentary, though. Most of the story focuses on Nikki’s revenge and his struggle with inner demons.

Incidentally, I see that Queensrÿche is releasing a live album where they will perform OMC and OMC II in their entirety. I’ll be interested to hear how they perform OMC 20 years later, and whether they can actually make one seamless story out of it.

Overall, I give Operation: Mindcrime II a 4 out of 5.

Stosch/Blackburn Roundup

The Hanger/Spammer…er…Sayre race in the 24th District is getting all the blog press here in Virginia, but there’s also a thrilling Republican primary race going on here in the 12th Senate District. (Thrilling in the sense that nobody seems particularly interested in it.)

The Virginia Federalist weighs in on the action: Blackburn vs. Stosch.

The Conservative VOICE completed their report on the debate between Stosch and Blackburn a few weeks ago: Stosch/Blackburn debate-Part 2 (Dr. Holsworth’s questions). They also reported: Senator Stosch asks lobbyists to help with grassroots.

I can personally report that I’ve received four mailings from Stosch and one from Blackburn. I’ve seen two or three signs for Stosch and no signs for Blackburn. So at least from a campaign funds standpoint, it looks like Stosch is beating the pants off of Blackburn.

I can also report that Blackburn’s one mailing is definitely of the negative campaigning variety, whereas Stosch’s four mailings were very positive.

Blog Humility Lesson

Today’s lesson in blog humility: Don’t forget that real, flesh-and-blood human beings can read your blog, even long after you’ve completely forgotten what you’ve written. If, for example, you hastily whip off a snarky personal criticism about someone from another state that you read about somewhere in the news, there is a distinct possibility that a year or so later they will read what you wrote and not be very happy about it. Then you’ll be really embarrassed about your callous insensitivity to their plight. Of course, that’s just me — your mileage may vary.

Virginia Fallen: PFC Gautier, CWO Moore

I’m not quite sure why I keep doing this. It’s actually quite depressing, but it feels wrong not to make an effort to shine a little bit of light on the people getting killed over there in Iraq, regardless of one’s political views about the situation.

Army Private 1st Class Aaron Gautier was killed in Iraq on Thursday, May 17. From the Daily Press: “To his family, Aaron was a funloving, goofy kid with a good heart. He was also something of a challenge during his teenage years, his father said. The Army matured him.”

Previously unreported, apologies for the omission: Army Chief Warrant Officer Dwayne L. Moore from Williamsburg was killed by enemy rocket fire in Iraq on April 19, 2007. Hundreds Mourn Virginia Soldier Killed in Iraq.

  • 2007-05-17, Gautier, Aaron D., Private 1st Class, Hampton
  • 2007-05-12, Murphy, Christopher E., Private 1st Class, Lynchburg
  • 2007-05-06, Kiernan, Christopher S., Staff Sergeant, Virginia Beach
  • 2007-05-05, Cauthorn, Forrest D., Sergeant, Midlothian
  • 2007-04-19, Moore, Dwayne L., Chief Warrant Officer, Williamsburg
  • 2007-04-01, Arnette, Jason R., Staff Sergeant, Amelia
  • 2007-03-03, Peek, Michael C., Sergeant, Chesapeake
  • 2007-03-05, Stanley, Robert, Staff Sergeant, Spotsylvania
  • 2007-02-16, Frazier, Joshua J., Sergeant, Spotsylvania
  • 2007-02-14, Morris, Daniel T., Lance Corporal, Crimora
  • 2007-01-20, Booker, Daryl D., Staff Sergeant, Midlothian
  • 2007-01-20, Kelly, Paul M., Colonel, Stafford


Is Taxation a Purchase or Extortion?

Today’s random zen government thought involves taxes. I’ve observed — on blogs and in real life — that a lot of people seem to think that paying taxes also implies receiving some kind of preferential treatment or getting a say in how the government does business. They equate paying taxes with, for example, buying shares of stock in a company. They say, “As a taxpayer, I’m entitled to X, Y, and Z, more than someone who doesn’t pay taxes.”

I see taxes as, well, taxes. When you pay taxes, you’re not buying anything — all you get in return is a promise that you won’t be locked up for failing to pay taxes. You pay so you don’t draw the ire of the Internal Revenue Service. When you think about it, it’s more like extortion than purchasing government goods or services.