New Mexico

In George Packer's excellent New Yorker piece about the Senate's dysfunction, Lamar Alexander is quoted at the end offering a rebuttal: None of the Republicans I spoke to agreed with the contention that the Senate is “broken.” Alexander claimed that he and other Republicans were exercising the moderating, thoughtful influence on legislation that the founders wanted in the Senate. “The Senate wasn’t created to be efficient,” he argued.

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Don't look now, but cap-and-trade is coming to the United States—and there's nothing the Senate can do about it. Earlier today, California, New Mexico, and three Canadian provinces—Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia—unveiled a plan to set up a carbon-trading system for greenhouse gases by January 2012.

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The New York Times reported today that Democratic governors are worried the White House's decision to sue Arizona over its controversial new immigration law could threaten their already-vulnerable party in November's elections. "It is such a toxic subject," Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said of immigration, which is emerging as a key issue in this year's mid-terms. So what do the numbers show? Since Arizona passed its law in April, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans support it.

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Politico details the Republican turn against cap and trade: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), under pressure back home from a conservative primary challenger, hasn’t come anywhere close to the climate issue that was once a key component of his “maverick” credentials. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who joined Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on cap-and-trade legislation in 2008, challenged the Obama administration earlier this month by forcing a floor vote that would have removed EPA’s authority to write its own carbon rules. Sen.

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The federal transportation finance system is broken and will be short on cash for the foreseeable future. Some regions—like the growing Phoenix, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and Denver metropolitan areas—have meanwhile achieved system viability through unusual self-help yet even so face massive outstanding maintenance and capacity needs. Is there a deal to be done? Perhaps there is.  Check out, for example, the intriguing concept for a new federal-metro partnership in transportation finance being shopped around by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in Arizona.

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Who Versus Where

Last week on this blog, I riffed about one of the more interesting findings to emerge from our State of Metropolitan America report—that demographically, our nation’s major metropolitan areas didn’t always look very much like their geographic neighbors.  To illustrate the point, I looked at the Southeastern seaboard, which counts metropolitan members from each of the seven demographic categories we identify in the report, from the “Next Frontier” region of Washington, DC to the “Industrial Core” area of Augusta, GA.  We argue that metropolitan demographic peers may have more to learn from one

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Check out the Intermountain West states on this map from the Metro Program’s “State of Metropolitan America.” Now look at the major metropolitan areas—Phoenix, Denver, Provo and Ogden, Albuquerque and others. Do you notice how most of the major metropolitan areas except Las Vegas, Salt Lake, and Boise have being seeing growing shares of their workers commuting by public transit? It’s but one finding among dozens in the extensive drill-down on what’s happening in U.S.

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Politico says immigration reform is a bad issue for both parties: [T]he polarizing issue is fraught with peril for both parties — so much so that, when asked about the politics of it all, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie paraphrases the words of Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: “When immigration is an issue, nobody wins.” Of course this is almost literally impossible.

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The Sheriff

For the better part of an hour, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been kicked back in the front cabin of Coast Guard One, the small but handsomely appointed plane on which she travels, chatting easily about the challenges of running the third-largest Cabinet department. En route back to Washington after three days of nonstop meetings in Mexico City--a whirlwind visit made more challenging by the fact that Napolitano broke her right ankle playing tennis last month and is still hobbling around on crutches--the secretary is in wind-down mode.

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This is the way it happens. They sit in your class poring over Dante’s Inferno or grousing good-naturedly about the silent film you’ve insisted they admire. They graduate to crawling through the mud at Ranger School or learning how to fly a Chinook in Alabama. They write to let you know about the milestones and about the weirdness; they ask what’s new on your end and tell you not to work “too hard.” They stop by the office whenever they’re back in town for a classmate’s wedding or some other event.

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