The Whipping Boy
December 27, 2009
WASHINGTON--Punditry in the nation's capital has its own rhythms, and one common practice involves almost everyone beating up on the same politician at the same time. Such assaults are rarely about ideology, though I have found that liberals or Democrats are often the object of these sustained attacks, perhaps because journalists are overly sensitive to charges of liberal bias. There's nothing like hitting a Democrat hard to "prove" impartiality. For quite a while, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the target of choice.
The First Palinologist?
December 01, 2009
Sarah Palin isn’t the only person cashing in on her ill-fated bid for the vice-presidency. A whole slew of authors, fashion designers, movie producers, pornographers, cartoonists, and opticians are riding the Palin gravy train. So I was not surprised when a press release landed in my inbox plugging what seemed to be the latest category of Palin profiteer: Academics. The University of Alaska Southeast is now touting one of their political science professors, Clive Thomas, as a one-stop Sarah Palin expert.
What *Can't* You Do With Leftover Food?
November 17, 2009
A new recycling idea is slowly catching on in restaurants and cities around the United States—the "zero waste" movement. The concept's simple enough: Produce less, avoid plastics and packaging that aren't biodegradable, recycle and compost what you can. With food waste making up some 13 percent of the junk that gets tossed in landfills, composting especially is becoming popular: Seattle has been offering residents separate that can be picked up for compost, and San Francisco has just made sorting mandatory.
Debating the Health Care Bill
November 09, 2009
I had a friend visiting me this weekend who had fervently backed Barack Obama for President (against the “devil-woman” Hillary), but who now thinks Obama has betrayed his followers – most recently by agreeing to disastrous compromises in the health insurance bill.
Transportation's Value-Added Funding Option
November 02, 2009
As if we needed more reminding, the country has a huge gap between costs required for transportation needs and the funding sources to pay for them.
Why Newsom Dropped Out
October 30, 2009
Joe Mathews is the Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation. In the days ahead, you may hear all kinds of explanations for why San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the race for governor. Poor fundraising. Poor standing the polls. Internal problems in his campaign. But none of them were decisive. Newsom had only one problem, but it was a problem to which there simply is no solution. That problem is the name Brown. This state has had only three Democratic governors in the past 67 years. Pat Brown. His son Jerry. And Jerry's chief of staff Gray Davis.
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.
Do the Fed's Rate Cuts Still Have Juice?
October 20, 2009
Jose Lopez at the San Francisco Fed takes a look at the Fed's power to influence a wide variety of market interest rates and finds that, despite improving economic conditions, the relationship between the fed funds rate (the rate the Fed controls) and other rates is still broken. The following chart from Lopez's analysis shows the pre- and post-crisis movements of the inflation-adjusted fed funds rate (blue line) and an indicator for 13 different market rates (red line): The disconcerting thing about this picture is that the gap between the funds rate and market rates is wider now than at any
Just a Cartoon, But Still: Is Family Guy in Blackface Funny?
October 13, 2009
To strike a note I generally avoid, I am offended. And by a cartoon. Has anybody noticed what a patronizing mess Seth MacFarlane’s new The Cleveland Show is? Cleveland is the pudgy, mild-mannered drawling pal of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, who now has, in the parlance of the grand old days of the seventies television spinoff, “his own show.” And indeed, the whole notion of the show is in quotation marks in a sense.
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