State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

Arnold is the God that Failed — Is California a Failed State? Do We Still Have Failure? Do We Still Have States?

It is becoming a pitiful end to an auspicious beginning. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governator, riding in on a white horse like Vishnu, come to awaken a new age.

He loved California as George W. Bush loved Texas; as Jefferson loved Virginia. Or so it seemed. To some eyes he was the Titan conjured in the zodiac pouring water; the Aquarian arrived in the Promised Land. Instead, California found unprecedented drought and endless fire.

In many ways, Arnold was the best representative of America in our California manifestation, born free in the sun and unbeholden, welcoming the millennium’s new beginnings. And in a magnificently beautiful and temperate state just recently, in historical perspective, come into its own, he might have set a standard that would have lived on in mythology for centuries. He could have been California’s Original Man.

Illinois Special Election is a Must

With Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) sleazy "pay to play" scheme fully exposed — he attempted to extort monetary favors from potential candidates to be appointed to President-elect Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat — there is only one viable solution to filling that seat. There must be a special election in Illinois.

With potential appointees' names being dragged through the mud — some possibly for good reason if they were, in fact, offering bribes — Illinois residents and the entire country deserve to have a fair election. Leading Democrats in Springfield should not hesitate to work with Republicans and have both parties’ elected officials fall in line to ensure they have the votes to override any veto the disgraced governor may launch to legislation they need to pass for a special election. As well, no self-respecting citizen should allow Blagojevich to appoint him or her to the Senate. Who would want to be the skunk at that garden party?

There’s Something Rotten in Chicago

Duke Cunningham. William Jefferson. Jack Abramoff. Bob Ney. Tom DeLay.

Just when we’d thought we’d seen the bottom of the barrel, along comes another politician more crooked than all the rest: Rod Blagojevich, governor of Illinois.

He’s given the opportunity to name the next United States senator from Illinois to replace President-elect Obama — he’s given the chance to make history — and what does he do? He turns it into a chance to line his own pockets, instead: brazenly and openly plotting with his chief of staff and others how to trade the Obama Senate seat for a cushy job for himself or his wife.

Corruption, Inc.

It seems that the specter of corruption has once again visited the great state of Illinois.

With the federal arrest and indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) yesterday, we now have five sitting or former Illinois governors who have faced jail time in as many decades.

I realize these are acts committed by individuals, each with his own personality traits and character flaws. Heck, stories out today are even questioning the psychological balance (or imbalance, as the case may be) of Gov. Blagojevich, because members of his own party didn’t know where he was coming from on certain policy initiatives.

Make New York City the 51st State

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg usually gets what he wants, and having more money than Canada doesn’t hurt. What I like about him is that he doesn’t seem to mind the money and it doesn’t seem to get in his way, and with approval ratings that sometimes spike at 80 percent in a very cranky city, most others don’t seem to mind.

But Reuters reports that New York City voters are split on whether Bloomberg should be allowed to run for a third term and 89 percent believe the issue should be decided by a referendum, not the City Council.

The Quinnipiac University poll indicated 51 percent of New Yorkers oppose extending the city's eight-year term limit to 12 years, while 45 percent support the move.

All-American Radical

I never thought of my father as Atticus Finch.

In fact, there was a time when I was so certain that he was a hyperconformist, party-pooping fuddy-duddy that I hardly spoke to him at all, or at least hardly listened to him.

But, like Mark Twain's father, mine managed to learn a lot in just a few years, so much so that he quickly made up for how far he fell behind while I was in college.

As I push on toward my mid-50s and he, closer to 90, I thought I'd try to take stock of a few things I've learned from my father, something everybody should do at some point.

What to Do in September

Congress gaveled back into session yesterday after a long August recess, though it will only be working for a few more weeks before it breaks again so its members can campaign furiously before the November election. Congress should resist the temptation to use these last few weeks as a proxy for the upcoming election and focus on getting some urgent and common-sense legislation passed.

There's no place better to start than reforming the nation's foster care system. There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care, many of whom have been languishing in the system for years with no chance to exit — remaining in the custody of the state — and deprived of the normalcy all children deserve. The current foster care system can produce some burdensome bureaucratic nightmares for children. Currently, even if a child has been in the care of a relative for years, he or she can be required to get signed permission from a case worker to do everyday activities like stay over at a friend’s house or visit another state on a school field trip.

The Four Conservative Mavericks: Sarah Palin Comes into the Country

Americans were always meant to be Alaskans, just as we were meant to be Texans and New Englanders. Emerson instructed us to “go alone; to refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men.” Our fate is to find ourselves again here in nature and don’t look back. That is why we go west and that is why we go to Alaska.

But it is one thing to go alone into the wilderness as Thoreau did when Concord was still in sight and with Emerson within a short afternoon walk for thoughtful conversation about the Vedas. Quite another is Jack London’s narrative of the Klondike almost a hundred years later: “He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air. Undoubtedly, it was colder than fifty below — how much colder he did not know.”

Sad Saga Finished?

The nasty underbelly of politics is when a politician assumes power and then utilizes it to the degree that his political opponents are not just wrong but become criminals. Such a politician then uses anything in his considerable power to criminalize politics and lock up his enemies.

No, this is not a blog about the Chinese, who recently imprisoned people who had the audacity to protest the carefully staged Olympics of the communist regime. And we're not talking about Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who had tanks rolling into Georgia, slaughtering innocents along the way.

Let Bloomberg, Rendell and Schwarzenegger Rebuild America

Three of the country’s major politicians, Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, have urged both the Republican and Democratic national committees to adopt pro-infrastructure planks in their party platforms. They are co-chairmen of Building America's Future, which is dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in the infrastructure that enhances our nation’s prosperity and quality of life.

Both parties should heed their call. Both parties should call for an expanded mandate for these three to the point of assigning enough authority to them to create an organizational infrastructure within the government to fix falling bridges, collapsing levees, abandoned cities and other internal ills. And more should be added to their committee: people who know things that politicians don’t know; artists and waitresses and hockey players and novelists and people who understand that cities and regions have souls and who understand what those souls are made of in their particular area.