What The Snowpocalypse Tells Us About Global Warming
February 10, 2010

Washington D.C.'s getting slammed by record snowfall right now, which means that in addition to unplowed roads and Mad Max-style scenes at Safeway, we also have to suffer through a flurry of Al Gore jokes and Republicans snorting about how this proves global warming is all fake. I guess the prim, boring response is that a single weather event, even an extreme one, simply doesn't tell us much about long-term climate trends. But blah, blah, everyone's heard that line before.

Will High-Speed Rail Funds Get Spread Too Thin?
January 27, 2010

So it looks like tomorrow, after the State of the Union, President Obama is planning to announce how the $8 billion in stimulus money for high-speed rail projects will get spent. As noted earlier, a line between Tampa Bay and Orlando will probably be the first lucky recipient, getting federal funds to supplant private investment. But what about the rest? According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration may end up distributing the funds far and wide—hitting 13 projects across 31 states in total, mostly for incremental improvements to existing lines. But is that spreading the money too thinly?

Slideshow: The First Women in the Senate
December 10, 2009

After winning the Democratic primary to fill the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is poised to become the Bay State’s first female senator. It's a bit late. Indeed, many Northeastern states only recently entered the female-senate-representation club, while the first women senators were from the South and Midwest. Click through this TNR slideshow for a look back at the first ten women who made their way into the ultimate boys’ society.

End State
October 26, 2009

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.

Short Cuts
October 13, 2009

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

Zoning Caused the Housing Meltdown?
October 12, 2009

Restrictive anti-density land regulations are responsible for many bad things, like racial and economic segregation, as well as suburban sprawl. To this list, Randall O’Toole of the Cato Institute adds another. He claims that these regulations--and not Alt-A mortgages and lax oversight of asset-backed derivatives markets--are responsible for the ephemeral and extraordinary price increases associated with the housing bubble. This simply can’t be true. First, there is the logical problem. It is difficult for a place to experience excessive growth when its growth is excessively hindered.

Economic Recovery? Not So Fast!
September 10, 2009

The Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, released yesterday, painted a cautiously optimistic portrait of the state of the nation’s economy. The New York Times, reporting on the Beige Book, heralded a “slow and still fragile recovery” that is “taking hold across the country.” But even if the data bear out this anecdotal assessment, don’t think that a robust recovery is going to appear in your metro area anytime soon. Here’s why: In many parts of the country there are few signs of recovery. Of the 12 Federal Reserve districts, only Dallas (covering Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico) re

The Green Bubble

SOMETIME AFTER THE release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, environmentalism crossed from political movement to cultural moment. Fortune 500 companies pledged to go carbon neutral. Seemingly every magazine in the country, including Sports Illustrated, released a special green issue. Paris dimmed the lights on the Eiffel Tower. Solar investments became hot, even for oil companies. Evangelical ministers preached the gospel of “creation care.” Even archconservative Newt Gingrich published a book demanding action on global warming. Green had moved beyond politics.

The Discovery Of Pride
November 19, 2008

Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus GarveyBy Colin Grant (Oxford University Press, 530 pp., $27.95) I. In the pantheon of the past century's African American leaders, Marcus Garvey holds an exceedingly ambiguous place.

Obama-hillary: A Dream Or A Nightmare?
May 24, 2008

I am not going to get into the game of saying whom Barack Obama should choose to be his vice-presidential nominee. I am chastened from having argued for John Kerry to pick John Edwards in 2004. And I am not going to say whom he shouldn't choose either. But I want to suggest that there are pitfalls to his endorsing the "dream ticket" of himself and Hillary Clinton, which prominent Clinton supporters like Diane Feinstein are promoting. There are two arguments for Obama choosing Clinton: one is plausible; the other is bogus.