State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

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.

With Democrats Like These ...

I was a fan of David Paterson when he became governor of New York. He seemed like an interesting, unique guy who would make a solid governor. Boy, was I wrong — Paterson has been a total and complete failure who is in entirely over his head.

After weeks and weeks of whining about how “Saturday Night Live” treats him unfairly, Paterson defended the New York Post for its racist chimp-shooting carton. Paterson tells us to "move on." One doesn't need to be a genius to see how self-serving his defense of the Post is, after an op-ed of theirs supported the return of the tax-cheating ex-priest Charles O'Byrne as his chief of staff. Because what Albany needs are more cheats and con artists. (O'Byrne's lawyers claimed he had a condition known as "non-filer syndrome," which causes people to not be able to file their tax returns. Not a joke. That was really what they said.)

Behind the Times and Beyond the Pale

Fal Asrani, the principal of Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., either doesn't like gay people or is an extremely slow reader.

The school was scheduled to perform “Rent,” a Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning rock musical (and, arguably, the only culturally relevant musical produced on Broadway in the ’90s), as its spring show. Asrani, apparently a huge fan of censorship, wanted approval over the script — already gutted for the high school edition — but needed more than a month to review.

Even so, she had already made her decision on the show, according to drama instructor Ron Martin — "she had already told me that she would not let it proceed because of the homosexuality in it."

‘Falling Apart’: California hits bottom; Calls for a Constitutional Convention — The Obama Republicans and the Republican Insurgent Governors

California has this week scored the lowest Standard & Poor’s credit rating of any state in the country. Facing a $42 billion budget deficit and a legislature in gridlock, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, brought in by radical intervention of the usual democratic processes, has been unable to make a difference. Rumor is he plans to go back to making movies when this governor gig is up.

The Great Man having failed, San Francisco’s Bay Area Council is calling for a Constitutional Convention.

“We believe California’s system of government is fundamentally broken,” they write in a press release. “Our prisons overflow, our water system teeters on collapse, our once proud schools are criminally poor, our financing system is bankrupt, our democracy produces ideologically-extreme legislators that can pass neither budget nor reforms, and we have no recourse in the system to right these wrongs.”

Rod Blagojevich — America’s First Political Reality TV Star

Do you love the first few episodes of “America Idol,” when the deluded try to convince the world they’re next great American singer? Are you a fan of “The Real World” or “Big Brother” or “Dancing with the Stars,” where people will do anything short of murder to ensure that their 15 minutes of fame is extended to 17 or 18? Maybe you love to watch the emotional travails of the vain and vacuous as showcased by the “Real Housewives of Orange County” (or New York, or Atlanta)? Well, I’ve never been a big fan of so-called reality TV — until now. Let me introduce America to our newest reality TV star — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

“Blago TV” (and every reality TV star needs a great nickname — think Sanjaya — and how can you beat “Blago”?) is a masterful concoction of all the things that America loves about reality TV stars — two parts crazy, one part funny (though not ha-ha funny), with just a little splash of “koo-koo-for-Cocoa-Puffs-I-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-this-car accident” seasoning. And, for those of us who love politics or need a little distraction from our dire economic reality — how can you beat Blago reality TV?

Why Chris Matthews Didn't Run, And Caroline Kennedy Should Have

Our politics have become such a sick and nasty sport that many of the best people in the nation choose not to subject themselves to the venom, vitriol, slanders, demeaning and character assassination of seeking public office. Of course Chris Matthews would never have run for the Senate, a prospect that was never more than a contract ploy with NBC, for a plush Washington life where it is far more comfortable to sit in a studio recycling pundit bromides than entering the arena of America in crisis.

I am not faulting Chris. He might have made a good senator, and I might have even supported him. Chris made the smart move. If you can make a few million bucks being wrong more often than right, with no responsibility, being a megaphone for the insults of our age rather than a target of them, why not?