The Cleveland Conundrum
July 29, 2010

The Cleveland metro is an export powerhouse. Exporting industries employed more than 110,000 of the region’s workers as of 2008 (over 10 percent), and its economy is among the nation’s most export intensive. So, if exports will be, and must be, a critical component of economic growth in the future (which is one of the messages of the new Export Nation report), Cleveland, and the other Great Lakes metros that are also intensely export oriented, are pretty well positioned, right? Yes and no.

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.

Are Oil Accidents Cyclical?
June 21, 2010

"The last time you saw a spill of this magnitude in the Gulf, it was off the coast of Mexico in 1979. If something doesn't happen since 1979, you begin to take your eye off of that thing." That was what a senior administration official recently told a McClatchy reporter, in regards to the Gulf gusher. As it turns out, this is a pattern with engineering accidents, be they bridge collapses or oil-platform blowouts. Disaster strikes, a flurry of safety improvements follow, but then engineers get over-confident in their new innovations, and eventually disaster strikes again. Repeat ad infinitum.

Hummus Goes Mainstream
June 17, 2010

A few years ago, I wrote an article on Ralph Nader, and I recall coming across this story from 1980 in the Christian Science Monitor, in which the reporter feels compelled to define "hummus": Mark Green, who's just taken a leave of absence as head of Congress Watch to run for the New York legislature, has watched Nader, too, for years as a friend and disciple. He says, "Ralph reminds me of a camel -- he has the discipline to go for 10 or more hours without eating, but when he does it's in such volume that he seems to be storing it away for the future.

Easy Rider
June 16, 2010

I bought a folding bicycle earlier this year in the hope that it would help me solve an embarrassing personal problem. I live in New York City, but, though I love the people I live among, I just don’t like the place. I’m loath to move out, because I only recently moved in. I left a house and a yard in Westchester for an apartment in Morningside Heights, near Columbia University, where my husband works and where life seemed likely to be more lively. But then, I got here and realized that I hated the noise and the filth and the smell.

Good Health Care for Less Money? Yup, Still Possible.
June 03, 2010

[Guest post by Jonathan Cohn] Advocates for health care reform (including yours truly) have frequently argued that it is possible to reduce the amount of care without reducing the quality--or, to put it more simply, that less care doesn't have to equal worse care. A story in today's New York Times may leave readers thinking that argument is bunk. It isn't.

Great Lakes are Dead, Long Live the Great Lakes
June 01, 2010

The portion of the blogosphere inclined to noodle over Brookings State of Metro America report, included some who now ask, “whither the Rust Belt?” and “whither the Brookings Great Lakes Economic Initiative?”.  I’m pleased to say all are alive and in forward-looking form. The Great Lakes Economic Initiative developed several years ago, not out of a DC-based “mega-region” overlay, but as I traded notes from my years as an elected official and public policy-shaper in Michigan and teamed up with similarly situated political, business and civic leaders from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and el

How They Did It (Part Two)
May 21, 2010

This is the second of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read part one.) Be sure to come back Monday for the third installment, which examines just how nasty negotiations got in Congress—bruised egos, threatened careers, the works.   Workhorses It was an intimate gathering at Ted Kennedy’s home in Washington—just the senator, his colleague Max Baucus, and three senior staffers who worked with them on health care.

How They Did It
May 21, 2010

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

Please “Treme,” I Beg You--Get Over Yourself
May 07, 2010

On Wednesday, TNR senior editor Ruth Franklin explored the way authenticity is played with in David Simon’s new HBO show, “Treme.” Here, John McWhorter offers his own, markedly different opinion on the subject. People can get irritating about their authenticity.