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God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right By Daniel K. Williams (Oxford University Press, 372 pp., $29.95) From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism By Darren Dochuk (W.W. Norton, 520 pp., $35)  In the presidential election of 1976, the Democrat Jimmy Carter split the votes of American white evangelical Protestants almost evenly with the Republican Gerald Ford. With a clear plurality of at least ten percentage points, Carter did even better among the nation’s white Baptists.

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New Brookings research on transit and access to jobs enables for the first time metro to metro comparisons on transit performance. One question quickly emerges: Do metro areas with well-established transit systems provide the best access to jobs? We know that some of the largest metro areas are home to the best known and most used transit systems in the country. Several are at the vanguard of innovative planning and land use strategies. These metros are also some of the country’s most powerful economic engines. However, we were surprised to find uneven results in these places.

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My latest column for Kaiser Health News: Los Angeles—I'll never forget the first time I visited the St. John's Well Child and Family Center about seven years ago, because it's the first time I heard about a grisly intruder pediatricians sometimes find in young children's ears: Cockroaches. It's a problem endemic to poorly maintained, low-income housing, of which there is quite a lot in the South Central neighborhood surrounding St. John's. And it's one reason the staff there are so aggressive about confronting the health hazards of their patient population.

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In April, the southern Israeli town of Sderot hosted its eighth annual French film festival, which was an achievement more impressive than it sounds. Sderot is a small town, and it is also a poor one; it has only 20,000 residents, many of them immigrants from former Soviet Asian republics. But Sderot’s biggest challenge may be the missiles. For the past ten years, not long after the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas has launched thousands of Qassam missiles over the border from Gaza, barely a mile away.

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There is an old joke among demographers (a group well known for their hilarity) about a drunk who loses his car keys at the front door of a house that has no porch light. After he realizes his loss, he goes to the nearest street light but well away from the front door to look for them. When asked why he wasn’t looking where he lost the keys, he replied, “This is where the light is.” Looking "where the light is" is the bane of demographic analysis.

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Clarification: Our original post below neglected to mention that the American Fast Forward plan includes its own bond finance plan (known at Qualified Transportation Investment Bonds or QTIBs) separate from the TRIPS bond legislation proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). While both plans address financing solutions through bond issuance, they are not bundled together in the America Fast Forward plan. *** The main theme of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s recent marathon hearings about the future of the federal transportation law was: don’t cut back the program.

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You can see why HBO thought to re-make Mildred Pierce, especially if it had Kate Winslet committed to playing the title part. The James M. Cain novel (published in 1941) is attuned to our grim economy: It’s the story of a single mother in Glendale in 1931 who has to take a job as a waitress and who then builds it into a flourishing, modest restaurant trade, based on the pies she bakes at home. As with so much of Cain, this is a story about money and business—I think he was more interested in those things than in the sex that dogged his reputation.

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Yesterday, we noted the extreme concentration in just a few metropolitan areas of the leading-edge U.S. cleantech firms honored in the Global Cleantech 100 list of the most promising start-ups. We noted that a whopping 39 of the 58 U.S. firms included in the list are hyper-clustered in just four metropolitan areas—San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and Los Angeles, in that order.

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The columns I’ve written so far in this space may suggest that going to the movies these days is a happy experience. That is, in part, because of the time of year: We have learned that the only movies the business has any pretense of respect for open as a year closes—because Christmas is a rich season that builds towards the Academy Awards nominations. It is also because I prefer to praise films, or to send you in search of watchable stuff.

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More than a few observers (here, here or here) are finding it difficult to interpret last week’s BLS employment report. The household survey recorded a fairly large 0.4 percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate, at the same time that the establishment survey recorded an increase in payroll employment of a measly 36,000. An increasingly missing piece of the puzzle may be the workers themselves. According to the latest report, fully 22 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds are not in the U.S. labor force.

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