State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

14 free states and the horde

Politics and possibly life and probably everything are a struggle between power and anti-power; anti-power makes power stronger until it overrides it. Then it kills it. With the historic healthcare vote this week, the forces of anti-power have overwhelmed and conquered the American impulse to power. That is a good thing, as we won’t be nuking the Russians now. It is a bad thing because we won’t be doing anything else of consequence. It is a marker, like Waterloo to Napoleon, like Lenin’s black train to Nicholas and Alexandra’s Russia. Change has come.

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The Two Americas: Greater New York and the 37 states

I’m just a simple Ray Wylie Hubbard liberal, but I’ve lost track of how Nancy Pelosi got to run the country. Someone from such a rare, esoteric, even strange and narrow constituency and one generally at odds with the main run of the country. But there it is, that aging Mod Squad skipping to work; she with that mad amphetamine grin, hand in hand with Steny Hoyer and John Lewis, singing “Kumbaya.” We were screwed when the Democrats started calling for rock stars instead of responsible executives. 

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Doug Hoffman’s New York and David Paterson’s

A Wall Street Journal essay last weekend called Albany’s possibly the most corrupt legislature on earth. That would include Poland’s, Belarus’s, Argentina’s, the Union of Myanmar’s and Philadelphia’s.

But Doug Hoffman’s NY-23 is a vastly different place from David Paterson’s Albany. This town-and-country relationship is taken for granted, but when state and federal deficits collectively reach into the tens of trillions, accompanied by draconian taxes on the dead, the living and — what is mind-boggling — generations yet to be born, the unthinkable can suddenly materialize and all our assumptions could evaporate overnight. And things could be made dramatically worse if China suddenly bowed out of the economic vogue of globalization. Or Kentucky. Or Nebraska. Or Texas.

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Scott Brown unites New England

Scott Brown may be out in the cold in Washington for voting with Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, but here in New England he has brought a kind of equilibrium. Since the ’90s and the coming of people like Independent Maine Gov. Angus King and Democrat Howard Dean in Vermont, New England has been seeking a new political and cultural identity. These people, including Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who wants to run for governor as an independent, are all liberals with a particularly New England sense and sensibility that today defies national party identification. And that defines them and us more than national party labels.

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At a granular level

It’s always good to get home to Chicago, which I did this weekend for my brother’s 40th birthday. He seemed surprised to see me — a good thing, since it was a surprise party.

I got a chance to talk to a few folks about the economy, politics and the nature of the world, and I must say, the national mood (as seen from the prism of a family party) was pretty sour.

Probably the most popular political figure is Glenn Beck. Being not a huge fan of Beck myself (I find him completely over the top), I was in the distinct minority. If the subject turned to politics, one of the first questions I would get is: “What do you think of Glenn Beck?” The man has a following out there. No question about it.

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Scott Brown’s Hail Mary pass to the White House

If there is a celestial guiding spirit behind Scott Brown, it could be that legendary Bostonian, Dropkick Doug Flutie, who might be considered the father of the Hail Mary pass, as he once threw the ball so far at just the right time that it is considered one of the greatest moments in college football and in American sports history. Flutie supported and campaigned for Brown in his recent election. As The Hill reports that Scott Brown is being considered for president, it would seem right now like a Hail Mary pass.

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Nikki Haley: The new face of the South (Rick Perry/Nikki Haley 2012)

Think I’ll pack it in and buy a pickup . . . take it down to LA.
— Neil Young


The Democrats are experiencing “big-truck envy.” Somebody call Dr. Freud. It’s all about trucks now. Big ones. The entire political culture has turned on one symbol: Scott Brown’s pickup truck. Now the rumor that John Cougar Mellencamp might be thinking of running for Senate likewise comes down to trucks. For those who have been living under a rock for the past few years, Mellencamp is a pitchman for Chevy trucks and has probably logged more TV time in post-season football than Brett Favre.

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What’s the matter with Massachusetts?

Two violent cases. Two district attorneys who went on to bigger things — one Martha Coakley, to become Massachusetts attorney general and then to an unsuccessful run, as a Democrat, for the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by Ted Kennedy; the other DA Bill Delahunt, since 1996 a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

There were many reasons Coakley lost that Senate race — among them a case from 2005 when, as Middlesex County district attorney, she delayed in prosecuting a policeman who was alleged to have sodomized his 23-month-old niece with a hot object, probably a curling iron. It was left to Coakley’s successor to prosecute, and the man is now serving two life terms. Rumors, never proven, abounded that the ex-cop’s father had political ties to Coakley.

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Scandal(s) du jour

I was listening to the radio Tuesday morning, and Don Wade, who co-hosts (with his wife) a popular talk show on WLS-AM Chicago, was reporting the latest weather (snow and more snow) and strenuously hyping a story-to-come about what he promised would be a huge scandal.

Wade, no fan of Barack Obama, was so obviously delighted that I knew the bad guy would be a Democrat, and probably a member of the Obama administration.

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