June 07, 2012
Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew PoetryBy Alan Mintz (Stanford University Press, 520 pp., $65) I. ON DECEMBER 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar.
Not With a Bang, But a Whimper: The Long, Slow Death Spiral of America’s Labor Movement
June 06, 2012
Many commentators have correctly observed that the reelection of Governor Scott Walker is a grave blow to unions, especially public sector unions. They went all in to defeat Walker and, despite the great outpouring of protest last year against his collective bargaining bill, he won by a greater margin this time than he did in 2010. But something else was exemplified by the Wisconsin results. It’s not that unions can’t win a defensive fight.
The New Jobs Report: Ooof
June 01, 2012
The new jobs report is out and it’s not good at all. It may not suggest the economy is slowing down, at least according to the economists I’ve consulted and read. But it certainly suggests the economy wasn’t growing as fast as we thought. And it’s not like anybody thought it was growing that fast in the first place. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday morning that the economy created just 69,000 jobs last month. It also revised its estimate for April, down to 77,000 from 115,000. Unemployment has gone up a tenth of a percentage point, to 8.2 percent.
Meet the Romney Campaign’s Snarkiest Wonk
May 21, 2012
Since Lanhee Chen joined the Romney campaign in March last year, his public pronouncements have been liberally seasoned with snark. Tweeting about Newt Gingrich during the first Florida debate, he wrote, “Thanks for explaining why you were forced to resign in disgrace, Mr. Speaker.” In April, he tweeted: “[David Axelrod] says Obama to be judged on his record.
The Metropolitan Nature of IPOs
May 18, 2012
Facebook’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) is projected to value the company at $104 billion. Reportedly, only Visa has had a larger IPO. Only time will tell if Facebook is really worth such an astronomical sum, but one thing about it is not all extraordinary: Its location in the Bay Area. From 1996 to 2006, 9 percent of all U.S. IPOs were headquartered in the San Francisco metropolitan areas--where Facebook is located--and another 10 percent came from the San Jose metro area. The data come from University of California-Davis professor Martin Kenney and his colleague Don Patton.
There are many reasons to be glad that President Obama has finally decided to stop dissimulating and openly advocate gay marriage. Not least among them is that he is no longer giving tacit approval to a prejudice in the African-American community that becomes more awkward and regrettable by the year. Homophobia, to be sure, is a sadly universal phenomenon. But it is one with especially deep roots among blacks. Polling numbers bear this out.
The Man Who Beat Lugar Is—Gasp!—Right
May 09, 2012
If you were trying to get a handle on what the Senate will look like over the next decade or so, you could have done worse than watch Richard Mourdock and Joe Donnelly make the rounds on television Wednesday morning. Mourdock is, of course, the man who just ousted Indiana’s longtime eminence, Dick Lugar, from the Senate. Donnelly is the Democratic congressman he’ll be facing in November. Mourdock fulminated against everything Lugar stood for—namely bipartisanship and civility in politics, but also the auto bailouts that saved tens of thousands of Indiana jobs.
The Middle Distance
May 04, 2012
As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964–1980 By Susan Sontag Edited by David Rieff (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 523 pp., $30) Susan Sontag’s prose is designed to strike readers as measured, simultaneously wise and matter-of-fact. She favors relatively short words and she is spare with her adjectives. The writing, whether in the essays or the novels, has a workmanlike neutrality, as if Sontag were not presenting her own thoughts so much as offering a guided tour of the higher regions of human experience.
Vienna Offers a Glimpse of the ‘Next Metropolis’
May 03, 2012
“Smart cities” is the urban buzz phrase of the last few years, and fans often turn to European cities for inspiration. From Amsterdam’s bike lanes to Copenhagen’s wind power, from Barcelona’s 22@ innovation district to Berlin’s dramatic redevelopment, European examples abound.
Contracting for Railcars and Jobs in Los Angeles
April 25, 2012
March’s job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were bleak. The 120,000 jobs added to the economy fell far short of the 200,000 that were expected. While the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent, in California it remains stubbornly high at 11 percent. Against this backdrop, an interesting and complicated discussion is taking place in metropolitan Los Angeles over the best way to spend public dollars, create jobs, build needed infrastructure, while simultaneously boosting U.S.