Alabama

Change The Voters, Or Change The Rules?
February 16, 2010

As I've been saying, the procedural critique of the Senate that some of us have been making for years is starting, but only starting to make headway into the conventional wisdom.

More Calls To Fix The IPCC
February 11, 2010

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has done indispensable work over the years in assessing the vast amount of research out there on the Earth's climate system and putting it all together into an accessible summary for policymakers and laypeople. I'd very much recommend the IPCC's Working Group 1 report from 2007 to anyone who wants to delve deeper into the basics of how scientists know that humans are warming the planet. Still, the panel isn't perfect.

Has Sprawl Recovered Enough for the National Economy?
January 27, 2010

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama and University of Florida, sponsored by the Natural Resource Defense Council , shows that car-dependent communities have statistically higher rates of mortgage foreclosure than communities with multiple transportation options, such as transit, biking and walking. This also explains to some extent why across the country that “walkable urban” home values over the past two years have been flat or slightly down while fringe “drivable sub-urban” communities have suffered the worst price declines.  The average American household spe

Small Ball
January 19, 2010

In early December, the White House announced four finalists for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award--a competition that plumbed the depths of the federal bureaucracy for ideas on how the government could save money. One finalist proposed streamlining the way the Forest Service forwards campground fees to the government. Another suggested that the Social Security Administration allow people to book appointments online rather than only by phone.

The Hunger Artists
January 18, 2010

Dancing In the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression By Morris Dickstein (W.W. Norton, 598 pp., $29.95) Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits By Linda Gordon (W.W. Norton, 536 pp., $35) American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty In U.S. Literature, 1840-1945 By Gavin Jones (Princeton University Press, 248 pp., $38.50)   “Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a story of 1926, at the height of the economic boom and his own creative powers.

Parker Griffith Can Change Parties, But Not History
December 23, 2009

For southern Democrats, the news that freshman Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama was switching parties brought back bad memories from the 1990s, when a goodly number of elected officials from the region who had been Democrats for no particular reason other than political convenience became Republicans for no particular reason other than political convenience. But the exodus of party-switchers back then was both natural and healthy, painful as it was. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics seems to think,  or hope, that Griffith's flip-flop could touch off another wave of party-switching.

Missile Man
December 05, 2009

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 534 pp., $35)   In late March 1953, a colonel named Bernard Schriever sat in a briefing room at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, listening as John von Neumann, the brilliant mathematician, and Edward Teller, the physicist, discussed the future of the hydrogen bomb, the far more powerful follow-on to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki eight years earlier.

Industry Clusters: A Rural Boon?
December 02, 2009

With a House-Senate “conference” committee soon to decide whether to create a truly valuable regional industry clusters initiative, misconceptions linger. Some rurally oriented conferees fear that cluster strategies pertain exclusively to urban development and leave rural America out. Others fret that cluster initiatives point exclusively toward high technology growth. However, none of the doubters need worry.

The Most Frustrating Body
November 19, 2009

WASHINGTON--Normal human beings--let's call them real Americans--cannot understand why, 10 months after President Obama's inauguration, Congress is still tied down in a procedural torture chamber trying to pass the health care bill Obama promised in his campaign. Last year, the voters gave him the largest popular vote margin won by a presidential candidate in 20 years. They gave Democrats their largest Senate majority since 1976 and their largest House majority since 1992. Obama didn't just offer bromides about hope and change. He made quite specific pledges.

Would UAW Wage Concessions Have Been Good for Louisville?
November 05, 2009

Just after Ford Motor Company announced third-quarter profits of nearly $1 billion, its UAW-represented workers rejected a package of concessions including a wage freeze for newly hired workers and a no-strike pledge when the current contract expires in 2011. The concessions would have put Ford’s labor costs on par with those that GM and Chrysler obtained earlier this year. Those concessions, in turn, brought the companies’ wages and benefits down to the levels of the (non-union) Japanese manufacturers with plants here.

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