Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maine: who is behind the regulatory takings bill?

Here in Maine, a special legislative study committee has been at work on recommendations in regards to a proposed bill to compensate landowners if the potential resale value of their property is diminished by regulations. It's a controversial issue on which a fair bit has already been written about in the press and blogosphere.

In this week's Portland Phoenix, I focused on a matter of process: how could it be that the Pierce Atwood takings attorney who wrote the original "takings" bill and is said to be the driving force in the study committee hasn't ever registered as a lobbyist or revealed who she has been hired to represent? And what's up with this 2008 rule change allowing lobbyists to avoid disclosure when serving on commissions, task forces, and study commissions? (Source.)

Read on to find out more.

A few readers have asked what the next step would be in pursuing this matter. The answer: an interested party would ask the state ethics commission to investigate the issue; the body would presumably communicate with Pierce Atwood, evaluate their rationale, and determine if they believed the firm was in compliance. No word as yet as to whether anyone has done so.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

American Nations makes The New Republic's Best Books of 2011

I am very pleased to see that the editor's of The New Republic have included American Nations in their Best Books of 2011 list.

"Woodard persuasively argues that the origins, spread, and clash of “Yankeedom,” “Borderlanders,” and the “Midlands,” along with eight other regional “nations” that he identifies, explain a great deal about how we arrived at our current pass and raise serious questions about our union’s future prospects," writes TNR senior editor Alec MacGillis, who was assigned to review the book for the Washington Post.

The book is in good company. The TNR list also includes the new titles from Adam Hochschild, Michael Kazin, Jeffrey Eugenides, and the late Ellen Willis. Thanks again, TNR.

A reminder for those of you in midcoast Maine: I'll be meeting readers and signing books in Boothbay Harbor this evening from 5:30 to 7:30. The event is at Studio 53; come by if you can.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

American Nations in North Carolina, Midcoast Maine

Today's Raleigh News & Observer recommends five titles as gifts this holiday season including, I'm pleased to say, American Nations. (The compiler, Rob Christensen, also wrote a recent column referencing the book.)

I was also a guest yesterday on Inside Maine with Phil Harriman on Portland's own WGAN. (Phil kindly plugged the book as well.) Our conversation is now online at their website.

If you happen to live in central Midcoast Maine and want to take Phil or the News & Observer up on their recommendations, I'll be meeting readers and signing all of my titles in Boothbay Harbor this Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The event is at Studio 53. (At last report, there were also signed copies still in stock at Longfellow Books and the Maine Historical Society in Portland and the Maine Coast Bookshop in Damariscotta.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jon Huntsman's conquest of Yankeedom

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has been receiving a lot of ink in the past 48 hours, in large part because his polling numbers have surged in New Hampshire. I started this past week with him in Plymouth, New Hampshire. My take on his stake-it-all-on-the-Granite-State candidacy is up over at Washington Monthly.

I argue that Huntsman differs from the rest of the GOP pack not in political moderation -- he's extremely conservative in most respects -- but in that he does not share the belief that government is inherently evil (and must be destroyed) or that big oil, big banks, and bigtime lobbyists are inherently virtuous (and, therefore, should be deregulated.) It's an argument that will get a fair hearing in Yankeedom and Utah, though its likely to win him few friends among Deep Southern primary voters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Speaking on American Nations, Damariscotta, Dec. 15

A notice for midcoast Mainers: I'll be giving my American Nations talk at the Skidomha Library in downtown Damariscotta tomorrow, December 15, at 10 a.m.

The event is sponsored by the Maine Coast Bookshop, one of the state's finest (and, I suspect, strongest) bookstores, whose staff will be selling all four of my titles. Do come by if you can.

Some other upcoming events in Maine: I'll be doing a signing in Boothbay Harbor on the evening of Dec. 21, and will be a guest on WGAN's Inside Maine with Phil Harriman about 11:30 am this Saturday, Dec. 17.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Geography of Executions

My latest piece over at Washington Monthly is on capital punishment's stark regional patterns. It is, of course, utilizing the American Nations framework.

This is the third analytical piece I've posted at the Monthly's Ten Miles Square blog since my feature on the geography of the Tea Party appeared in the magazine six weeks ago. The others looked at the regional patterns of the Occupy movement, the results of the 2011 off-year elections, and the implications of Mormonism's Yankee roots for Mitt Romney's candidacy and perhaps even the long-term political alignment of Utah.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maine Sunday Telegram reviews American Nations

The Maine Sunday Telegram -- the Sunday edition of the Portland Press Herald - reviewed my new book, American Nations, yesterday.

"One sure sign of a good book is that you can read it straight through enjoyably," writes reviewer Bill Barry of the Maine Historical Society. "The sign of a superb book is that you find yourself debating its propositions and arguments weeks after reading it. American Nations... is a superb book."

A few upcoming American Nations events: I'll be doing a live webinar at Global Post on Tuesday mid-day, a lecture in Damariscotta, Maine on Thursday morning, and a signing in Boothbay Harbor on the evening of Dec. 21.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ABC interview on Tea Party, Globalist excerpt on Greenland

My feature in the current issue of Washington Monthly argues that the Tea Party is doomed to failure in large swaths of the country, due to the underlying regional values I've identified in American Nations. Since the piece appeared in mid-October (the Monthly is no longer monthly), various polls have showed declining support for the movement, which experienced setbacks in November's off-year election.

ABC News interviewed me yesterday for their digital story on these developments -- "Is the Party Over?" -- which you can read here.

Meanwhile, The Globalist -- the online magazine on global culture, politics, and economics -- published an excerpt today from the book's epilogue describing the (re)emergence of what I call First Nation, with special focus on Greenland, a nearly-independent nation I reported from in 2007.

A couple of scheduling notes: I'll be doing a live webinar at Global Post on Tuesday mid-day, a lecture in Damariscotta, Maine on Thursday morning, and a signing in Boothbay Harbor on the evening of Dec. 21. Perhaps will see some of you at one of these events.

Friday, December 9, 2011

American Nations webinar at Global Post, Dec. 13

I'm Colin Woodard and I endorse this message:

Free Webinar: American Nations — The Eleven Rival Cultures of North America

Join us for a Webinar on December 13

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

GlobalPost is pleased to invite you to a Webinar with Colin Woodard, author of the best-selling "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America."

On the cusp of the 2012 election year, few books provide more insight into the complex riot of American politics than American Nations, which delves into the country's entrenched regional cultural mosaic.

Newsweek calls Woodard's book "a triumph," and the Washington Post hails it as "compelling and informative ... a bracing corrective to an accepted national narrative that too often overlooks regional variations to tell a simpler and more reassuring story. "

Woodard is a writer, historian, award-winning journalist and occasional contributor to GlobalPost. He will be interviewed by GlobalPost Senior Editor David Case, and will take questions from the audience.

Space is limited, and priority for this call will be granted to GlobalPost members. To ensure your attendance, you can join GlobalPost for less than $3 per month, at

(Important note: Everyone — including members — must register for the call at least two hours before it begins.)
Title: Free Webinar: American Nations — The Eleven Rival Cultures of North America
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM EST
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

Friday, December 2, 2011

Talking American Nations on Maine Public Broadcasting

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of being the guest for the pilot episode of a new 45-minute call-in and interview show on the radio stations of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. The show -- as yet unnamed -- is hosted by the always-brilliant Keith Shortall. We were, of course, discussing my new book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.

MPBN hasn't posted a link to the full show, but this evening they ran a cogently-edited six-minute segment of my interview on their flagship news program, "Maine Things Considered." Links to the audio -- and a map of the "nations" -- are available on their website.

(A footnote for Maine media watchers: MPBN has a new president, one who has extensive experience in public broadcasting, having headed Vermont Public Radio for years. VPR, like MPBN, is based in a rural state, and has transmitters that extend across state boundaries and on into Canada.)

[Update, 12/8/2011: The audio of the full call-in show is now up at MPBN's website.]