State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

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?

Fifty Ways to Steal an Election

The problem is all inside your head, Al said to Reid
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be filibuster-free
There must be 50 ways to steal an election

Al said it really is my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be 50 ways to steal an election
Fifty ways to steal an election


That Same Old Place, Sweet Home Chicago

The Roland Burris Saga — or Operation Ego Drop, as I like to call it — has once again forced those outside the realm of Chicago politics into a state of confusion and those within the seedy world of Second City politicking to declare this strange affair business as usual. As someone who lived and worked in Chicago politics only briefly, I hope to bring a not-quite-outsider's view to the world of vote-getting (and, occasionally, vote-taking or vote-buying) in the shady city.

Just think of me as the de Tocqueville of de on-the-Takeville, giving a close view of a place as perplexingly crooked as it is delightfully fascinating. Strap yourselves in and hide your wallet as we take the El straight to insight — until we're detoured by another transit cutback caused by the state's power brokers' unwillingness and inability to secure funding for infrastructure projects.

Kelsey Grammer for Governor? Is California Dying?

The train hasn’t left the station yet and already they are feeling post-seasonal. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic senator from California, is speaking out: Why wasn’t she informed ahead of time that Leon Panetta, a former Clinton employee who now works in a vineyard in California, I think, was appointed chief of the CIA?

I used to have a lot a CIA types in my old neighborhood and was wondering about that myself. I thought we liked to use Mormons for jobs like that.

There was no reason she should have been informed. She just wants to be the first to scold Obama. The first, that is, to put him in his place.