Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Business Insider on American Nations....twice

American Nations is in the midst of its second episode of mysterious internet viral-ness, this time prompted by the organic growth of traffic to a 19-month old blog post on the concept at the Washington Post, pushing the story to #1 Most Read on their site Sunday.

Business Insider has pushed it along with not one but two articles this week. The first, based on a recent interview with one of their reporters, posted on Monday afternoon and has, in two days, racked up over 330,000 views. Here's an excerpt:

Woodard says that among these 11 nations, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations. "We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture," Woodard says. "Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat."

Yesterday, the site followed up with this short article on how American Nations explains regional variations in violence, a topic I treated in greater detail in a Tufts Magazine article which prompted the first viral episode in 2013.

I'll also be on John Gibson's Fox News Radio show at about 1:20 Eastern tomorrow to talk about the book

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Passamaquoddy elder challenges leaders, gets led away in handcuffs, recalled from office

Readers of "Unsettled" -- my 31-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy tribe -- learned about the legal vacuum that exists on Maine's easternmost reservations, where there is no tribal constitution and the conduct of elections and anything else that can be categorized an "internal tribal matter" is beyond the judicial review of the tribe's own courts, better yet state or federal ones.

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram I write about what can happen in such an atmosphere. Here's an excerpt:

Mary Creighton decided to take on tribal officials she thought were mismanaging affairs. She found herself handcuffed in the back of a tribal police van bound for the Machias jail.

Creighton, 72, was subsequently ousted from the tribe’s governing council in a recall election after a hearing presided over by the very official she herself had been trying to recall. Someone tore down the sign of the gift store she runs from an addition to her home on the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy reservation, located between Eastport and Perry in easternmost Maine. She faces criminal charges of aggravated forgery...

Welcome to the rough and tumble world of Passamaquoddy tribal politics, where politicians operate within an elections system without judicial review, on reservations that lack a constitution, and where almost everyone is connected by blood or business, marriage or divorce. Here a candidate for chief can be bounced from the ballot days before an election, defeated governors can order subordinates to dole out a $40,000 “severance payment,” and a tribal elder with a recall petition can quickly be recalled from office.
If you missed the story Sunday, it may have been because it was initially given The Most Boring Headline in the Universe -- "Recall effort backfires under tribal law on Maine reservation" -- which it is cursed to carry in Facebook and Google's metadata for the rest of time.

[Update, 8/10/15: Charges were dropped against Creighton, as reported in this update.]

Monday, July 27, 2015

At Washington Post, 2 year old American Nations article hits #1 Most Read

Remember that time in late 2013 when my then-two year old book, American Nations, suddenly went viral on the Internet? It started with a story I did for Tufts Magazine explaining the profound regional differences in violence, gained steam organically (with the newly colorized map), and then went berserk when the Washington Post's Reid Wilson put up this post at the paper's GovBeat blog. It got millions of hits in the first week, prompting newspaper columns and national radio and television appearances, and pushing the book to #50 of all books sold on Amazon.

Well, that GovBeat post just won't quit. After "trending" for the past two weeks, yesterday the year-and-a-half old post surged to No. 1 on the Post's Most Read list and, as of this morning, is still at No. 3. The paper put this Facebook status update up last night, which generated over 900 shares and nearly 2000 likes in its first three hours alone.


So, for those of you who may have just discovered the American Nations Map and want to know more, read this for a cogent summary or, if you’re really in a hurry, go here.

My next open-to-the-public speaking appearance on the American Nations will be in Ames, Iowa October 6. Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Recapping the strangest month in Maine governance for Politico Magazine

This past month has been the strangest in memory for Maine governance, starting with the governor squeezing a rubber squeaking pig at a Christmas Tree-themed press conference and ending with him under legislative investigation, the threat of impeachment, the shadow of a federal civil rights law suit, and having provoked a potential constitutional crisis while letting dozens of bills he opposed become law and burning bridges with many of his natural allies.

My round up of this chaotic period posted at Politico Magazine today. Here's a sample:

“For whatever reason the governor has chosen to demonize the entire legislature and people in both parties who don’t always agree with him on everything,” says Sen. Roger Katz, a moderate Republican whose face adorned one of the ornaments on LePage’s Christmas tree. “There is so much he could get done if he chose to work with the legislature instead of against it.”

My last piece for Politico Magazine was on the reasons for our regional disunity and, prior to that, this Letter from Budapest.

[Update, 7/20/15, 18:00: Rachel Maddow's blog has picked up the story, which has been No. 1 at Politico for most of the past 48 hours, suggesting the nation has an unusual interest in Maine politics.]

Friday, July 17, 2015

Signing books, Whydah Museum in Provincetown, Mass., July 21

If you live on Cape Cod, I'll be meeting readers and signing copies of The Republic of Pirates at the Expedition Whydah Museum in Provincetown this coming Tuesday, July 21, from 4 to 6pm.

The museum was established by Barry Clifford, the explorer who found Sam Bellamy's flagship, the Whydah, and it houses many artifacts found at the wreck site in nearby Wellfleet. Ken Kinkor -- one of the world's most knowledgeable scholars of the Golden Age Pirates -- was the resident researcher there until his untimely death in 2013.

The museum is located on Macmillan Wharf; I'll be at the gift store, so you don't have to buy admission to come by and say hello.

My next pirates-related event is at the scene of the crime -- Nassau, The Bahamas -- in late October.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Jeb's "Walker's Point" Advantage

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram, I write about one of Jeb Bush's many fundraising advantages: the existence of the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Walker's Point, a town park purchased by his great-great grandfather at the opening of the 20th century and developed into a summer retreat, has been the base camp of the Bush clan since Jeb's great-grandfather served in the U.S. Senate. Since then, the family has produced two presidents, and the compound has been used to host world leaders, national luminaries, and family weddings. Get an invitation to a party there, and you're probably going to say yes. As one campaign finance expert told me, Hillary Clinton has no Walker's Point.

And if Jeb had any reticence about publicly embracing his family's quasi-aristocratic legacy, he seems to have set it aside. He's just built himself a house on the compound and last Thursday co-hosted with his parents 300 major campaign donors for a reception and dinner.

Kennebunkport, it seems, is back on the political map.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Speaking on American Nations, Bridgton, Maine, July 9

For those in the Sebago Lakes, Maine-to-North Conway, New Hampshire corridor, I'll be speaking about the American Nations and their effect on our history and current events in Bridgton, Maine this Thursday, July 9th.

My host is the Bridgton Historical Society for which this is the annual summer lecture. It starts at 7pm at their Narramissic Farm. It's open to the public, but they're raising money for the institution, so tickets are $8, and you can get them here.

Here's the Society's description of the talk, which comes out of my most recent book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, with a bit of Lobster Coast to boot:

Thursday July 9, 7 p.m. at Narramissic, the Society will host its featured summer lecture.  We are pleased to host Colin Woodard, award-winning Maine author of American Nations, who will talk about Maine's cultural heritage.  Our immigrant ancestors helped to shape our culture of self-reliance, local governance, and the thrifty hardworking lifestyle that helped to promote innovation and industry.  It also helps explain our particularly New England character.  "There's never been one America," Colin Woodard argues in this award-winning book, "but rather several Americas, each with its own, centuries-old ideals, values, and religious and cultural heritage. Understanding the real map of the continent and its rival cultures is essential to grasping our history, from the divisions of the American Revolution and Civil War to the 'blue county / red county' maps of past and recent elections." A reception will be precede the event at 6:30, and a there will be a book signing fter the lecture--so bring your treasured copies of his books, or buy some at the event.

For more information, follow this link.

My next entirely public talk is for the community read (on Lobster Coast) in Damariscotta, Maine in August. Talks in Ames, Iowa and Nassau, the Bahamas follow in the fall.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Our Disunited States

For your Fourth of July reading pleasure, I bring you my take on our Disunited States in Politico Magazine. It's the weekly "cover story" so it has to be good.

It's a peculiar article in that I was tasked with explaining the United States' disunity -- via American Nations of course -- without explicitly mentioning the American Nations or unpacking the framework. Still, it seems to have gotten plenty of attention, and hopefully a subset of readers will dig further to uncover the full picture.

Factoid I learned while researching this article: the Fourth of July was celebrated in the Confederacy at least until 1864. As in the Antebellum Period, they chose to pretend the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence didn't exist, instead focusing on the other stuff about just rebellions against tyrants, the virtues of self-governance and all that un-revolutionary stuff. Fascinating.

This article also marks a milestone: the first national media mention of my new book, American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, out with Viking on March 15, 2016.

For those new to my take on American regionalism, I've created synopses here and here.

My last piece for Politico Magazine was on Hungary's abandonment of liberal democracy, which came out just a couple weeks back.