More Justification Of The Electoral College
July 30, 2010
A couple days ago I opined that defenses of the electoral college seem to be driven by two factors: A partisan Republican desire not to retroactively delegitimize George W. Bush's 2000 election, and a general attachment to the status quo.
The fate of the $10 billion edujobs bill, which is meant to prevent more than 100,000 teacher layoffs across the country, remains unclear. Before Congress went on vacation earlier this month, the House passed edujobs as an amendment to a larger spending bill and sent it to the Senate. But, as I wrote at the time, the House agreed to pay for the provision in part by cutting funds from some of Obama’s most vital education reform initiatives, including Race to the Top. The president threatened a veto, and the Department of Education immediately embarked on a push to find the money elsewhere.
On the Map: Bus Riding Boost Seems to Stall
July 15, 2010
As part of our State of Metropolitan America project, we reported last week on the increase in public transit commuters from 2000–2008. While this increase is small (less than 1 percent), it’s the first time that’s happened in 40 years. As the map below shows, most transit commuters are concentrated on the coasts. But what type of transit saw upticks? One would assume that light rail or commuter rail would be responsible for the increases since system mileage increased by 67 and 40 percent, respectively, over the period. Nope.
The United States may have missed its chance to play Spain in the World Cup final Sunday (and the Netherlands in the semifinal, and Uruguay in the quarterfinal), but similar battles take place every day on American turf, where the world meets for pick-up soccer games. There’s weekdays outside an MIT building in Cambridge, weekend mornings behind the White House, and barefoot on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are, in fact, times when the U.S.
What If California's Climate Law Gets Killed, Too?
July 12, 2010
Over the past few years, large polluters have become pretty adept at blocking climate legislation in Congress. But there are still plenty of individual states out there trying to put limits on carbon emissions. So what's a poor oil or coal company to do? Why, bring the battle to the states, of course. Back in 2006, California passed AB32, a law that would set up a cap-and-trade system and cut the state's emissions 15 percent by 2020.
The End Of The Hoover Dam
July 09, 2010
Michael Hiltzik has an interesting piece in the Los Angeles Times on the false promise of the Hoover Dam, that great symbol of the New Deal (even though, of course, the dam wasn't actually brought about by the New Deal—FDR had initially campaigned against Hoover's large public-works projects, and only changed his mind once in office). During the postwar era, the reservoir created by the dam helped transform the U.S. Southwest, allowing Los Angeles and San Diego to balloon in size and setting the stage for a major agricultural boom in the region.
In South Africa, Missing My Favorite Univision Announcer
July 09, 2010
One of the only bad parts about being here in South Africa for the World Cup is missing out on Univision’s Spanish-language coverage. I should probably note that I don’t speak Spanish. Not fluently, at least. But I vastly prefer watching my fútbol en español. And being here, subjected to the dry and ramblingly irrelevant South African announcers on the local SABC and Supersport stations has reminded me just how superior the voices of Mexican television are on the global scale.
Futurist/urbanist/cultural provocateur Joel Kotkin was back again yesterday on the WSJ op-ed page declaring that the “back-to-the-city movement is wishful thinking.” His evidence: steep declines from peak in condo prices in a handful of big Sun Belt cities, including Miami, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. That and the results of a few surveys indicating continued residential preference for suburban over urban environments. (The piece more than echoes a similar one he penned for the Journal in 2007.) But why look at these indirect data points when you can go to the source: recent city population t
Why Immigration Reform Matters to Metros
July 06, 2010
Last week, President Obama delivered a major speech on the need for federal immigration reform. He made his case to Congress, especially Republicans, to step up, put aside political posturing, and have the courage to get the job done rather than continuing to “kick the can down the road.” The federal lawsuit against Arizona’s recently adopted state immigration enforcement law, set to be filed today, may also add impetus for a federal, rather than a piecemeal, solution.
Suburban Spies Among Us
July 02, 2010
The revelation that suspected Russian spies have been hiding in the suburbs of major U.S. cities has been regarded by some as a throw back to postwar Cold War novels replete with money drop-offs, hidden identities, and old school technology. Perhaps the most telling aspect of these Russians’ retro status is their attempt to “fit in” with a suburbia that no longer exists. At least eight of these alleged spies were classic suburbanites replete with dogs, families, or suburban jobs which could be part of any 1950s “welcome wagon” contingent.