New Jersey

Mayor Friendly
June 08, 2012

Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s star has been rising for what seems like an eternity. His fame rests largely upon a number of almost absurdly heroic acts, which have varied from harrowing to Hollywood-esque: saving a resident from a burning building, cradling a twelve-year-old dying from gunshot wounds, hunger-striking for better police protection in the projects, sleeping in a trailer for five months to halt open-air drug markets. Along with Booker’s media-friendly persona, these superhero moves have ensured a steady stream of adulation.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Facts and Fantasies
May 18, 2012

Elena I Wish  Naturalism lives. If Zola were a Russian in Russia today, he might have written Elena. Zola being absent, the director Andrei Zvyagintsev has written this screenplay with Oleg Negin, looking at lives with that combination of candor and regret that marks the best naturalist work. This approach in itself is a novelty in Russian films. Another is the milieu. The history of naturalism is closely woven with suffering, with the impulse to inform the disregarding world of social or economic oppression.

Your Dubious Polling Story Of The Day
May 11, 2012

Not long ago, I argued that Democratic candidates ought to be trying to make transportation infrastructure an issue in areas where voters care about such things and where Republican anti-spending dogma was undermining projects, such as New Jersey, where Chris Christie rejected the new tunnel under the Hudson River.

An Issue Democrats Should Be Talking About
April 30, 2012

My apologies for the lack of posts today – spent the day at a terrific policy seminar far from the madding crowd (did Obama say something about Romney and bin Laden?) Posting may also be light in the next few days as I dig into reporting a feature piece. But seeing that as I am now riding good old Amtrak, I figured that would be a good occasion to …announce a run for president!

Why Regions Fail: Zoning as an Extractive Institution
April 19, 2012

The hottest topic in economic development theory right now is the role of institutions.

Why Baseball is the Best—And Least Exploitative—American Sport
March 31, 2012

Since the 1960s, professional football has supplanted baseball as our nation’s favorite sport—generating higher revenue and better television ratings. And, as the past few weeks have demonstrated, college basketball has captured the attention and diminished the productivity of the American workforce in ways baseball does not. But let’s not confuse popularity with superiority. Major League Baseball (MLB), the oldest spectator team sport in the nation, has become the most affordable and least exploitative one—and its labor relations are remarkably harmonious, too.

Reform With No Mandate? Ask New Jersey About That
March 21, 2012

My latest article for Kaiser Health News: On Monday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, the justices will also contemplate a policy issue: Is it possible to reform the private insurance market, making affordable coverage available to all, without an individual mandate? The Obama administration has told the court that if it invalidates the mandate it should also invalidate two key insurance reforms that would prevent discrimination because of preexisting conditions.

Broken Promises: How Obama’s Immigration Failures Have Put a New Jersey Community on Edge
March 02, 2012

Saul Timisela was supposed to report for deportation at seven o’clock Thursday morning, but he didn’t show up. Instead, he went to the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey, where, as of this writing, he is still seeking sanctuary. An immigrant who arrived in the U.S. from Indonesia in 1998 after fleeing religious violence, Timisela suffers from hypertension, heart disease, and liver disease. He does not have a criminal record, say advocates speaking on his behalf.

Today’s Bruce Springsteen is a Pale Imitation of the Real Thing
February 24, 2012

Before Bruce Springsteen put together the first incarnation of the E Street Band, forty years ago, he had a scrappy little bar band called Steel Mill, which played at my friend Doug Mendini’s eighth-grade graduation party. Like Springsteen, Doug and I were both literary-minded products of New Jersey factory towns (I worked for the summer before my first year of college in a steel foundry, on the late shift with my father), and a tenuous early sense of kinship with Springsteen has given me a weakness for his work.

TNR Film Classics: American Silent Film (July 1, 1978)
January 27, 2012

If sensation-gorged sound movie audiences think about silent films at all, it is in that narrow category bounded by the ridiculous on one side and the grotesque on the other.