State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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Average American Investors Should Thank Eliot Spitzer

Those of us who are players in financial markets know very well that the system is rigged in favor of those at the top and against those at the bottom and in the middle.

Because of a substantial body of work over a career, the market is a little bit fairer.

Because of Eliot Spitzer, average American investors in the market are a little more protected. Those most corrupt forces in the market are a little more investigated.

The guilty are a little more prosecuted and the potentially corrupt are a little more deterred because of Eliot Spitzer.
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Spitzer Caught in His Own Trap

Here’s one thing I’ll never understand: Why do such smart men do such dumb things? Or maybe we should ask: Why don’t smart men use their brain instead of some other part of their anatomy?

It’s a bipartisan malady. Mark Foley and Larry Craig. Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. And now, Eliot Spitzer — caught by a federal sting operation in the middle of a high-class prostitution ring.

Ironically, Spitzer was trapped in a classic Spitzer-type investigation. As attorney general of New York, he was a relentless, moral crusader. Busting up crooked dealers on Wall Street. Fighting big insurance companies. And, yes, tracking down and exposing prostitution networks aimed at the big business and tourist trade.
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Bucking the Odds

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore’s announcement this afternoon that he will seek the Republican nomination for Senate to run against another former governor has been expected for some time. The common wisdom is that he will face an all but impossible task if he really hopes to beat former Gov. Mark Warner (D).

He will, after all, be running in a year that most inside-the-Beltway observers expect to be a strongly Democratic year at all levels, and the interim signs in Virginia itself aren’t all that promising. Warner left office with a high approval rating and was, until deciding he wanted to move across the Potomac as a senator, considered a possible Democratic vice presidential nominee. Moreover, Virginia these days is widely believed to be changing color rather rapidly, from red to purple, and perhaps to blue by the fall of 2008.
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