Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nick Clegg, Charlie Crist and My Roster for a Third Party

In terms of domestic politics, the past couple of weeks have focused on immigration and financial regulatory reform.

Charlie Crist announced as an independent for the Florida Senate seat at the end of this week, and I say go for it! I wish we had more strong third party candidates -- I see what's happening with Nick Clegg in Britain and love that he's shaking up the system.

There's no way that two institutional structures come up with as many good ideas as three, four or five would - I know there are reasons that two parties have served the US well historically, but right now our politics is largely broken and I think a viable third party could contribute to the fix. The middle-of-the-road kind of people who I'd like to see involved:
  • Crist
  • Bob Kerrey
  • Alan Simpson
  • Patrick Fitzgerald
  • Colin Powell
  • Evan Bayh
  • Olympia Snowe
  • Schwarzenegger
  • Joe Lieberman
  • Petraeus, Odierno (I assume without knowing that Petraeus and Odierno are middle-of-the-road), Wesley Clark
  • Colin Powell
  • Tom Brokaw (I'm only kind of joking)
  • Susan Collins
  • Lindsay Graham
  • Kenneth Feinberg (he could provide the oversight and keep everybody in line)

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The big debate right now is whether Arizona's new law (under which police can demand proof of residency/citizenship based purely on reasonable suspicion) is constitutional.

George Will argues that there's plenty of case law -- including a recent 9th Circuit decision upholding another Arizona law -- that supports the constitutionality of the provision, but the conventional liberal wisdom is that it will necessitate prohibited racial profiling. My questions:

437. Jan Brewer is the governor of Arizona (she assumed the position based on her role as Secretary of State when Napolitano left for Homeland Security) and finds herself smack in the middle of the brouhaha. What other minor public figures have played this kind of a prominent national symbolic role in controversial issues?

438. Which state will be the next to pass a similar law? The stories keep saying that Rick Perry thinks the AZ law is foolish, so it won't be Texas. Could it be a midwestern or southern state in which the conservatives have a strong majority in the state legislature? (Incidentally, Bob McDonnell was one of the few Republicans to speak out against the law this past week)

439. Belgium is in the process of prohibiting the wearing of the burka. My question is, which law - Belgium's or Arizona's - is more problematic from the standpoint of civil libertarians? Which law is more offensive in their eyes?

440. David Plotz's rant on last week's Political Gabfest (in which he called for violence as a response to Wall Street misbehavior) got a bunch of attention on Fox News. How big a "player" in the political/media world is Slate? There was a big article in last week's Times about how prominent Politico has become -- what's the relative readership of Politico versus Slate versus The Daily Beast?

441. Will there be large-scale protests/marches in Iran in June, to commemorate last year's election protests? There's been relatively little American media follow-up about what the opposition leaders are doing these days.

442. Which of the three current "corporate bad guys" - Goldman Sachs, BP, or Massey Energy - will suffer the greatest long-term effect to its reputation and its business? Which one will recover quickest?

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