Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On Olympia Snowe's departure in The Daily Beast

As you've undoubtedly heard by now, Olympia Snowe, one of the last of the Yankee Republicans, has announced she is not going to seek reelection to the U.S. Senate this fall. And as you can probably imagine, it's created something of an earthquake here in Maine, where any additional candidates have only 15 more days to round up signatures.

Here's my piece on Snowe's departure at The Daily Beast, what it means for the Senate and House races here, and for the future of centrists and the Maine Republican party generally.

We may learn more about Snowe's decision on Friday, when she holds a press conference here in Maine.

For more background on Snowe's deteriorating position, try this Newsweek piece. On the changing face of the Maine Republican Party: this Down East article.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

OpEd, revised American Nations map in Maine Sunday Telegram

I'm pleased that my hometown paper -- the Maine Sunday Telegram / Portland Press Herald -- has picked up my OpEd on American regionalism. Local print readers will find it on the front of the Telegram's Viewpoints section today.

For those further afield, the Telegram also has a sneak preview of the revised map of the American Nations Today, which will be in the Penguin paperback edition of American Nations, to be released in the fall.

On this map, we bumped up the state-level borders a notch to make it easier for people to find their way around the continent, added a label to South Florida (since everyone asks about it), and corrected four small errors I made when drawing the county map. The latter errors -- all my oversight -- were the inadvertant placement of Allegheny Co., Pa. and St. Charles Co., St. Louis Co., and St. Louis City, Mo. in Greater Appalachia, when the book text has them (correctly, I believe) in The Midlands. (Well, to get really technical, St. Louis, Chicago, Monterey, and New Orleans are all border cities split between nations, but on the county level map they each have to be assigned to one "nation" or the other.) My apologies for the errors, and thanks to Portland-based mapmaker Sean Wilkinson for continued maintenance help.

Also in American Nations news: The New Maine Times reviewed the book last week and, this morning, New Hampshire Public Radio rebroadcast my hour-long interview with Laura Knoy. Thanks for all the attention in this northeastern corner of Yankeedom.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Washington Post review of David Hackett Fischer's new book

I've long been an admirer of David Hackett Fischer's works, especially Albion's Seed, Champlain's Dream, and Liberty and Freedom, which helped inform my own work on American regionalism. So it was a pleasure to have been assigned to review his new work for the Washington Post, which is in the paper this weekend.

As you'll read, Fairness and Freedom compares two western democracies with British colonial origins -- New Zealand and the United States -- and asks why the latter has placed overwelming emphasis on liverty and freedom, the former, fairness. He makes the case that the U.S. could perhaps learn a little from its South Pacific cousin. With "fairness" reentering the American political lexicon this political season, it's a timely topic for this country at least.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On the Maine Caucus results at The Daily Beast

On those occasions when my home state of Maine wanders in front of the national headlights, I provide coverage for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Tonight was one of those occasions, owing to the fact that the state Republican presidential caucus might actually matter this time around. Here's my piece on Mitt Romney's narrow victory over Ron Paul here, which posted an hour ago.

The results matter mostly in terms of media narrative, both because there won't be another contest for 17 days and because, due to the state party's rules, they have no binding effect on the delegate count. Delegates are free to ignore the vote altogether and pledge their support to whomever they wish.

While the Maine caucus was good news for Romney, a national poll released today showed Rick Santorum leading the field. Romney will almost certainly be the GOP nominee, but he's going to be sweating it for some time to come.

Friday, February 10, 2012

OpEd on American regionalism picked up by McClatchy

My recent OpEd on American regionalism is making the rounds after having been picked up by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service. Originally written for last Sunday's edition of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, in the past 48 hours its run in at least five other U.S. dailies. (Some versions are shortened from the original). Hopefully this list includes one near you:

The San Jose Mercury-News (Left Coast)

LinkThe Savannah Morning News (Deep South)

The Bellingham Herald (Washington; Left Coast)

The Oregonian (Left Coast)

The Bradenton Herald (Florida; Deep South)

[Update, 2/12/2012: a seventh, eighth, and ninth paper:]

The Lewiston Sun Journal (Maine; Yankeedom)

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky; Greater Appalachia)

Sacramento Bee (Far West)

[Update, 2/14/2012: Two more:]

Juneau Empire (Alaska, Left Coast)

Contra Costa Times (California, Left Coast)

[Update, 2/20/12: my hometown paper:]

Maine Sunday Telegram (Yankeedom)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maine: What happened to the Marine Resources commissioner?, an update

This past summer I wrote a piece for Down East, trying to get to the bottom of the fiery resignation of Maine's Department of Marine Resources commissioner, Norman Olsen. The article was based on the partial release of public records in response to an open records request, so I promised at the time to update readers once the governor's office finally completed the request.

This wasn't as easy as one might hope, but I did obtain a few additional documents, which largely support the previous story. Nonetheless, I've filed a slightly revised (and updated) account in the new issue of Working Waterfront, whose readers may have a particular interest in marine policy and could well have missed the first story.

Monday, February 6, 2012

In U.S. politics, there is no Midwest

Tonight at Washington Monthly, I responded to an intriguing argument put forth yesterday by's Nate Silver that Mitt Romney's Achilles heel (if he has one) is his potential weakness in "the Midwest." Only this, Silver argues, could derail Mr. Romney's ride to the Republican presidential nomination this year.

I think Silver is correct that Romney has a regional weakness, but as readers of American Nations know, I don't think there's really a regional culture called the Midwest. Instead, the middle third or so of the country is split between three regional cultures, and that has important implications for Mr. Romney and his Republican rivals.

But I've said too much already. If you're interested, check out my piece.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On American Nations in the Fredricksburg (Va) Freelance-Star

For those in the Tidewater country, my OpEd on America's regional cultures is in today's Freelance-Star, the daily newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and serving a swath of south exurban D.C.

"Not one America, but Many," encapsulates the thesis of my new book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, and some of the implications it has for this year's U.S. presidential contest.

[Update, 2/9/2012: The McClatchy-Tribune News Service has picked up this OpEd, which ran today in Washington state's Bellingham Herald and Florida's Bradenton Herald.]

I've been delighted with the media attention the book has received since it was released at the end of September, including the PBS News Hour, The Washington Post, The Week, Boston Globe, Daily Beast, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Arizona Republic, Bloomberg, Rolling, Maine Sunday Telegram, Charleston Post & Courier, the CBC, Northeast, Jefferson, Maine, and New Hampshire Public Radio, Annapolis Capital, and the Raleigh News & Observer. It was named a Best Book of 2011 by both The New Republic and The Globalist. I've also been able to demonstrate the analytical utility of the paradigm in understanding current political developments in a feature and blog posts at Washington Monthly.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

American Nations, Portland, and the Superbowl

LiveWork Portland, a blog here in Maine, interviewed me this week about the topic that's on everyone's minds: the cultural differences between Patriots and Giants fans. (And whether Portland is really a Yankee city or not.)

LiveWork isn't the only media outlet interested in this topic. Earlier this week, AdAge carried this story on the stark differences in brand preferences, music, and the like between fans of the two football teams, one from New Netherland, the other from Yankeedom. I don't know if there are any clear conclusions to be drawn from this about these respective regional cultures, but it is certainly a reminder that mass consumer culture is far from homogenous.

For more in regards to Portland (and Maine's) cultural identity, I heartily recommend one of my previous books, The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier.