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taking stock

Spent some time on the phone earlier this afternoon answering questions about politics, health care, and insurance. This got me to thinking about how my interest in/involvement with politics and the news has changed over the last couple of decades.

I know a lot more about national and local politics than I used to, but unfortunately for me most of that local politics knowledge is useless to me now since it all pertains to the way things are done in Minnesota, and things are done differently down here in the Commonwealth. For example, there aren't any caucuses down here - or if they are, they aren't publicized as heavily as they are in Minnesota, where caucuses determine who's going to be running the DFL and Republican parties on the ground for the next couple of years. On the other hand, Minnesota has nothing (yet) like the Citizens' Defense League. Democrats bitch and whine about the NRA, but everybody down here knows that it's the VCDL that really exerts the power, and politicians in Richmond cross the VCDL at their peril.

I'm more aware than I used to be that while the media and political parties seem to concentrate most of their attention (and ours) on Washington and the Federal government, but joelrosenberg makes an important point here: isn't it more important to pay closer attention to the would-be nannies in our state and local governments who actually have more control over our day-to-day lives than the Congresscritters and bureaucrats in DC? YMMV, especially if you're dumb enough to actually live in Washington, but even here in Alexandria, cheek by jowl with the confused Federal city and its seventeen different police forces (!) what goes on in City Hall and Richmond affects my wallet and my little burrow here in Alexandria a lot more than what that tax thief James Moran and the Commonwealth's two Senators are doing downtown at the Capitol.

My sources of news and information have also changed. I get almost all of that off the Internet now, usually as a result of something Glenn Reynolds has mentioned. I do read The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal - but online. Any exposure to the WaPo or NYTimes I get is usually mediated through someone else's critical take on an article that appears there. I hardly ever watch TV or listen to radio very much any more, although I will concede I miss the latter a lot more than the former, and will probably spend more time listening to the radio when the Nationals start playing later in the spring.

I'm also not as much of a hardcore party loyalist as I used to be - there are some Republicans I absolutely will not support, even by making token mouth noises. On the other hand, I am far more disgusted with the Democratic party than I used to be. With a couple of exceptions, the party seems to be made up of a bunch of nihilistic Socialists who believe that whatever is good for their party (i.e. puts it in power and keeps it there) is good period, even if it wangs the country good and hard. On the other tentacle, since the departure of Newt Gingrich, there seems to be a shortage of real Federalists in the Republican Party; we need a lot more people like Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake. Surrender is not an option, though; we need more Coburns and Flakes, and fewer damn Kennedys/Pelosis running the joint.