State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

Does Rick Perry’s Dog Hunt?

The Republic of New England? California broken in three? Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society.

These are not the broody and misanthropic wanderings of the few too long in winter up here in the snowy hinterlands. It is front page of The Wall Street Journal this past Saturday in an essay accompanied by a map of the United States divided in parts, titled “Divided We Stand.”

Palin vs. Letterman

It turns out that the new political feud isn't Rush Limbaugh vs. Barack Obama or Dick Cheney vs. Colin Powell. As Rick Klein notes in ABC's indispensable The Note, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and David Letterman are locked in a battle over jokes made at Palin's expense this week while she was on the East Coast.

The jokes included a line in Letterman's famous Top 10 list, this one devoted to Sarah Palin, in which he joked about Palin having a "slutty" look and another joke in which he described Palin's daughter being "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez at a Yankees game.

David Letterman’s Hate Speech

Having been a New Yorker in the ’70s and ’80s, I don’t ever watch the David Letterman show. It seems an insipid and bitter celebration; a shadow of past glory when network TV featured brilliant entertainers and commentators like Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett, and on into the middle of the night Tom Snyder interviewing Marlon Brando, who, in one very brief aside, seems to threaten his life for smoking a cigarette.

Late Storm in VA Governor’s Race

Just as polls were closing yesterday, a rapturous thunderstorm came across Northern Virginia. By the time the storm had cleared, Creigh Deeds had convincingly vanquished the two early favorites to claim a surprise victory in Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“If you asked me three weeks ago whether Creigh Deeds had a chance to win the election, I would have said probably not … Tonight proves once again why we hold elections,” offered state House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong after Tuesday’s stunning victory for the rural legislator. The results are further proof that Virginia has perhaps the most competitive and ideologically unpredictable democracy in the union.

My Year in Review: ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ Dow Jones to 50,000, ‘Doodling Without the Yankee’

As I have been writing for the Pundits Blog for one year this month I would like to review three key issues which have awakened this year. They are: Endless war, endless debt and a new division in America. They are really all one problem, as they will interact dynamically, the one affecting another to form our future.

Issue One: Endless war — Mitt Romney’s “Battlestar Galactica”

When Wesley Clark asked his Army superiors in the early 1990s what could be done about the rising tragedy in Bosnia he was told that the Army had no plan. The Army had a vision of future history and it included war rising in the Middle East.

Cat Scratch Fever: The Ted Nugent Conservatives

It is futile today to try to understand what is happening through the traditional framework of Democrat vs. Republican. So much has changed since the beginning; class status and wages since Roosevelt have somewhat equalized in a vast middle class; integration has come to the South; moral and ethical issues have become regionalized; and new groups like Libertarians are gaining ground. East vs. West, Roosevelt vs. Barry Goldwater, heartland vs. big city are abstractions that better express where we might be heading.

A Jeffersonian Awakening in Texas

Something of possibly great historic importance occurred on April 15 at the “tea party” anti-tax demonstrations. Heartland America found a voice and a natural leader: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

The story, which made a sardonic splash on the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the other major venues this Saturday, was not so much about the substance of what he said, but that the governor, American native son, rancher and Texan back to the fifth generation, had the audacity to speak at all.

Sex, Drugs and Secession in Vermont

If you drive across the hills between Brattleboro and Burlington, where most people with more than one generation in Vermont live, you will see signs that read “Take Back Vermont” painted on the sides of barns. They intensify on the way up to the Northeast Kingdom, as we call it, where there are still evangelical pockets left over from the 19th century. Everyone from the outside thinks these signs are in opposition to the civil union law passed during the Howard Dean administration. The signs began long before that.

Sarah and the Volcano

Newt Gingrich said recently that if the Republican Party doesn’t respond correctly to the president’s “monstrosity” of a budget, there could be a third-party challenge come 2012. Those comments folded in nicely with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), who challenged the administration and tried to refuse the federal bailouts, folding his hand. But this is not over for Sanford. His theme could well grow in the heartland. To his call came GOP Govs. Rick Perry of Texas, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sarah Palin of Alaska.

The Purple Leadership of Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker

When he first ran for office, some of the black political establishment accused him of not being "black enough." When he graduated from a prestigious law school, he chose to do community organizing in an inner-city neighborhood where too many black men were either incarcerated or unemployed.

When he ran and won election to his first local office, he rejected the "left" vs. "right" paradigm. He worked with Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, and focused on solutions to problems - not ideological labels. Defying the purist-left ideologues of his Democratic Party, he campaigned for Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in the 2006 Democratic primary.