State & Local Politics

State & Local Politics

Tea Party totalitarianism: What’s next for Rick Perry?

“Come and take it” — Texas flag at the Battle of Gonzales, March 1831

Rick Perry takes it back to Texas. He might run again for governor. He should. As Steve Forbes says, he's a great governor with great ideas. I'd make the case that his poor performance in the presidential race is a credit to him as a Texan and as a Texas governor. He feels uncomfortable away from home, away from Texas. It is the Jeffersonian ideal, and Perry is paragon of these earth-based, sense-of-place values. More than values. A sense of being; at one with the ancestors, at one with God, at one with one’s own place on earth and free of abstractions.
What Perry wanted to achieve for Texas as a Texan is unachievable for a president, and Ron Paul should take note. Because Perry and Paul are both “free-state” guys. But the freedom and autonomy they seek cannot be granted top-down like a benevolent master freeing his provincial serfs in the far provinces. They need to take it. Like his boots say, "Come and take it." If Texas wants it, she’s got to take it.


Free Kansas

The “revolution in a cornfield” that is happening today in Gov. Sam Brownback's Kansas is potentially as important as what happened here in 1776. Because in the last two years the states have learned that they don't have to do what the federal government tells them to do. They can think for themselves and govern themselves, just as Dorothy promised. As The Washington Post reports with an excellent article today titled “In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback puts tea party tenets into action with sharp cuts”: “If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas. In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama’s healthcare law. And that’s just the small stuff.”


Free New England. Free California. Martha Coakley to the rescue.

“…  states’ rights, states’ rights, states’ rights …” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, April 15, 2009

When I proposed up here at the buildup to the war on Iraq that if the United States no longer wanted to be part of the U.N. then New England should send its own representative, it brought a kindly note from John Kenneth Galbraith, who thought it “wonderfully to the good.” America’s greatest ambassador since Franklin, George Kennan, like Galbraith, almost into his hundreds, proposed New England secession. “We are a monster country,” he wrote, and proposed decentralizing the U.S. into a dozen constituent republics. Harvard’s pastor, the Rev. Peter Gomes, proposed a new Hartford Convention like the one during the War of 1812.


Are Republicans 'normal'?

My daughter, who is not old enough to go to college, says that although she doesn’t really understand all of the issues, she likes President Obama because he seems “normal.” She says most of the Republican candidates “don’t seem normal.” It’s been my observation. I met Obama with my kids up here when he was running and instinctively liked him for that reason. It is why as things go today, Obama will likely win in a landslide. Jon Huntsman seems normal too and Republicans have no use for him whatsoever. Rick Perry, normal. Same.

Another thing, they like to fail. The Republican apparatus today is enormously proud of its failures (Gingrich). The Democrats, especially in Massachusetts, were like that for a long time after JFK. Took pride in impossible losers like George McGovern and The Duke. Considered losing with McGovern a victory. With Howard Dean as well. Likewise, they did not seem exactly “normal.” They seemed ideological, driven by ideas, even vengeance, abstracted and ungrounded. Like Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum today. Maybe it is a Reagan afterglow; there will never be another; we will wait devotedly for the return of the avatar. 


Texas redistricting plan could bring back Speaker Pelosi

Kudos to Cameron Joseph for his story in The Hill Wednesday about the gigantic victory for House Democrats in the new redistricting plan just approved in court. This is huge. This is powerful. This is potentially transforming.

Under the new plan, Texas Democrats, who now control 9 House seats, could win 13 House seats in the next Congress. If the Democrats gain 4 new seats in the House from Texas alone, they have a big head start on regaining control of the House of Representatives and returning the Speaker's gavel to Nancy Pelosi.


The Rick Perry uprising

“ … states' rights, states’ rights, states' rights!” — Rick Perry at the Alamo, June 15, 2009

Until you get higher in the hills, Laconia might be considered the vortex of New Hampshire redneck politics, heavy into the Tea Party. The Lakes Region Tea Party is small but might be indicative of how things will go. A straw poll on Nov. 16 gave Newt Gingrich 49 percent while Cain tied with Ron Paul at 15. Romney 12 percent and Rick Perry 0. Similar results in a straw poll at a Republican club in Alabama on Saturday: Newt 45 percent, Cain 13, Paul and Romney both 11 and Perry 3. Interesting because Perry first gave national credence to the Tea Party when he chanted for states’ rights at the Alamo. But with the sudden rise of Newt, the consummate Washington insider, the Tea Party is no longer really about states’ rights and specific issues. It’s about passion.


What’s next for Sarah Palin? How about a 'supercommittee' of governors?

What's next for Sarah Palin? She seems at the moment to be finding a role as a general commentator, remarking on Ron Paul's foreign policy and whatnot. That is, she seems to be at loose ends. There is much more she could do as an Alaskan, in terms of advancing regionalism and states as laboratories, as Rick Perry talks about it.

Palin’s role these past two years has been much as the La Passionara of the Tea Party movement. Seeing her at the Nashville Tea Party Congress at the beginning showed a connection to this rustic grassroots movement, which brought it to large recognition.


Suspend elections?

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue just came out with a startling thought about how to solve our nation’s economic woes — suspend democracy.

That’s right, in Gov. Perdue’s world, the blame for our massive debt and almost unprecedented joblessness falls on the voters.

Her theory is that voters who hold their elected officials accountable for their actions need to be taken out of the governmental system to allow politicians leeway to take whatever actions they choose, without fear of the ballot box.

I’m confident that many politicians have wondered to themselves about what it would be like not to have to worry about those pesky voters. President Obama himself recently told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China.


Let’s hear it for the bashees

All those anti-government and press bashers, like Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman (R) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, owe one to their governments and the media.

When the hurricane winds were endangering liberals and conservatives, and floods were damaging Democratic and Republican citizens, Tea Partyers and socialists, up and down the East Coast, government officials worked all weekend with no extra salaries to inform and protect a worried public. They always aren’t successful, but when they are, as they were this weekend, we owe them a big thank you.


America needs a 'supercommittee' of governors

A fine mess now, Ollie. It was a mistake from the first to allow S&P, Moody’s and the others an unelected overview and a voice in the life of sovereign American states. Now, like those tragically broken school systems in Atlanta and Pennsylvania, the ones with so many erasures on tests that the odds are 3 trillion to one that they are authentic, this Congress with the lowest rating in American history calls for a “supercommittee” of its own members to repair itself.

We have just recently had a supercommittee called the Simpson/Bowles Commission. To the surprise of some, it brought quite a dignified, fair and sensible beginning. Congress ignored it and so did the president. Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia did not get the credit deserved in the debt-ceiling debate, although his opinion and that of the Gang of Six incorporated Simpson/Bowles conclusions. And as one commentator said, there is already a supercommittee to discuss these issues ... it is called the Congress.