Gay Bars, Bike Paths, Ka-Ching! The Creative Class’s 10th Birthday
August 03, 2012

When I’m not deep in a presidential election season, I do like writing about subjects other than politics, including the whole realm of urban policy/economic development/land use. It was that interest that led me, two years ago, to write a long magazine piece critiquing the remarkably lucrative enterprise that had grown out of Richard Florida’s 2002 best-seller, The Rise of the Creative Class.

Romney At The NAACP: A Filial Tragedy
July 11, 2012

Mitt Romney’s appearance at the NAACP convention in Houston was the occasion for much media tittering—after all, the candidate’s prior attempts to ingratiate himself with African-Americans had produced some awkward moments. The speech did not disappoint in the awkwardness department — Romney opened with a cringe-worthy line of praise for the convention’s organ music, and the same organ later tried to prematurely usher him off the stage, like a verbose Oscar recipient.

Don't Try This at Home, J-School Grads
July 09, 2012

A few years ago, national journalists discovered Detroit—or, rather, discovered that the city of Detroit was a dream subject. Its ruins of abandoned buildings made for astounding photo spreads of an apocalyptic wasteland, and writers big and small tried to wrestle with the question of how the former auto capitol of the world could have turned into this shell of a city. Detroiters hate these stories, say they’re the journalistic equivalent of rubber-necking.

To Track the Nation’s Sluggish Recovery the MetroMonitor Goes Interactive
June 27, 2012

Brookings’ MetroMonitor has been, we hope, a steady witness over the past three years, tracking the downs and ups and back-down-agains of economic recession and recovery across the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas each quarter.   The story hasn’t often been one of breakthroughs but it has been revealing about the nature of the nation’s sluggish recovery and the extensive variation among the nation’s diverse metro areas.  Now, though, the Monitor has morphed. To celebrate its third anniversary, the Monitor has today shed the text-based format of its youth and reemerged as a fully overhau

The Diversity of the White Working Class
June 19, 2012

Are Republicans increasingly becoming the party of the white working class? So says Jonathan Haidt, but political scientist Larry Bartels offers up a convincing response: While the white working class has trended toward Republicans over the last few decades, the movement is exclusively a Southern phenomenon.

Why Walker's Urban-Crime Scare Ad Might Work
June 01, 2012

Well, so much for Scott Walker's brand of Republicanism being all about forward-looking, green-eyeshade bottom-line reform. It's flown mostly under the national radar this week, but Walker decided to go old-school, late-1980s-style, with a TV ad conjuring the menace of inner-city crime to attack his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mitt Romney, Teen Barber
May 11, 2012

Unlike Paul Begala (“Once A Bully, Always A Bully,” Daily Beast) I’m not inclined to connect the story of Mitt Romney’s teenage homophobic cruelty to such adult cruelties as imposing layoffs on companies leveraged to the hilt by Bain Capital or making his dog Seamus ride on the roof of the family car. Clearly Romney had a mean streak in him back then.

A Portrait Of The Candidate As A Young Jerk
May 10, 2012

Jason Horowitz's long piece in the Washington Post about Mitt Romney's prep-school years is an absolute must-read, not least because of its revelation, confirmed by several fellow Cranbrook Prep graduates, of the the time that Mitt led a posse of students in pinning down a gay classmate and cutting off his bleached-blonde locks -- an episode the student, who died in 2004, decades later told a fellow classmate had been "horrible" to experience.

Here We Go: Mitt's Middle-Class Upbringing
April 19, 2012

What's the best way to run for president as a private equity titan and son of a CEO in a time of rising worry about economic inequality, against an opponent who likes to note that he "wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth"? Well, you could accept your lucky lot in life and do everything possible in your proposals to offer opportunity to the less well-off. Or you could start revising your own biography. From today's Washington Post: Romney is sensitive to perceptions that he grew up wealthy, so Obama’s “silver spoon” remark could strike a nerve.

Global Cities’ Success Isn’t A Zero-Sum Game
March 30, 2012

Two of the country’s best-known urban thinkers have a discussion underway at Atlantic Cities and New Geography about changes in the urban hierarchy brought along by globalization. It paints a picture of globalization as a zero-sum game in which one city’s growth comes at the expense—at least relatively—of another’s. They suggest that peaks—concentrated centers of population and prosperity—get higher while valleys—economic left-behinds—get lower. Global competition certainly can sap a region’s assumed strengths and lead to periodic even multiple decade long population decline if a transition in