White House's Common Problem

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Common Problem

First, an update on Tuesday's story about first lady Michelle Obama inviting the rapper known as Common to Wednesday evening's White House poetry event. Now, the New Jersey State Police union is expressing outrage at the invite, which coincides with National Police Week here in Washington.

One of Common's songs expresses support for a former Black Panther who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper back in 1973. Another issues a call to burn former President Bush over the Iraq war.

Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president opposes some of Common's lyrics, but added that critics have blown the issue out of proportion.

Flag Flap

The town of Orcutt, California has been told it cannot fly an American flag at a memorial to fallen warriors.

The California Department of Transportation is refusing to grant a permit calling the flag an impermissible act of public expression. It says if one flag goes up then all flags regardless of what they represent must be allowed to fly at the site.

The town is fighting the ban.

The Great Divide

And liberals in southern Arizona want to break away from the rest of that largely conservative state.

A new political action committee called Start Our State aims to split off Pima County to form the 51st state, tentatively called "Baja Arizona." Supporters have until July 5th next year to get 48,000 signatures on a petition to get the measure on the ballot.

The last secession was West Virginia during the Civil War.