Small Town America is Metropolitan America
August 25, 2011
Each year, Money magazine sets out to identify the “100 Best Places to Live in America.” As we noted when we reviewed the magazine’s 2009 list here, the American appetite for rankings and hometown pride drives a plethora of such lists. Reflecting America’s “small town” mythology and nostalgia, Money’s focus in both 2009 and 2011 was on small-to-medium sized communities (populations between 8,500 and 50,000) with a desirable location (within 60 miles of a major airport) and a modicum of diversity (less than 95 percent white).
Selling Public Works to the Tea Party
August 11, 2011
I know Tea Party Republicans don’t care for infrastructure spending. But I presume they still care for infrastructure. That is, I presume they like well-maintained roads, affordable electricity, and clean drinking water as much as I do. And when those things aren’t available – when antiquated air traffic control systems delay their flights, for example, or broken down street sewers flood their neighborhoods – I presume they are just as frustrated as I am. The problem, for the Tea Partiers and their allies, is the government part.
April 07, 2011
The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.
The Trouble With Economics As Culture War
March 07, 2011
Interesting concession today from AEI president Arthur Brooks: What is that governing philosophy? Here is an answer from the great economist and Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek: As regards the economy, the government should provide a minimum basic standard of living for citizens, and address market failures in cases where government action can do so cost effectively. That's all. We should acknowledge that markets are not perfect.
March 02, 2011
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement By David Brooks (Random House, 424 pp., $27) Why would David Brooks, the frequently interesting and reasonable-even-when-you-disagree-with-him columnist for The New York Times, write a book offering the latest insights from brain research? And why would he do it by adopting the method pioneered by Rousseau in Émile—that is, by inventing fictional characters whose adventures in life are meant to illuminate larger questions of individual development and social obligation?
Colorado vs. Ohio
February 23, 2011
In some presidential cycles, an incumbent’s reelection strategy doesn’t matter all that much. When the economy is very strong (1984), the incumbent wins big; when it’s very weak (1932), he loses even bigger. And when a party chooses a nominee seen as outside the mainstream (1964, 1972), it suffers a crushing defeat. It’s possible that one or more of these circumstances could prevail next year. The economy could over- or under-perform current projections; the Republicans could choose a nominee who’s too conservative or lacks credibility as a potential president.
TNR Film Classics: 'National Velvet' (February 5, 1945)
January 21, 2011
National Velvet tells how a twelve-year-old butcher’s daughter, Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), helped by a vagabond ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney) wins the Grand National steeplechase. It is the best thing to see at the moment, next to another very happy MGM technicolor film, Meet Me in St.
January 13, 2011
The bomber carried balloons. They were silver and purple, and when he stepped inside the parking garage, they flitted and danced around his head—obscuring his face, as well as his intentions. It was October 2008, just after 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, and the workers in the office tower above the garage in suburban St. Louis were still at their desks. Only surveillance cameras saw the man with the balloons as he hurriedly walked to the parking space marked “654,” knelt down, and placed a wicker basket next to the driver’s side door of a late model Acura TL.
October 07, 2010
The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.
April 30, 2010
Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch By Eric Miller (Eerdmans, 394 pp., $32) In a moving tribute to Christopher Lasch written shortly after his death in 1994, Dale Vree, a Catholic convert and the editor of the New Oxford Review, wrote that “Calvinism was his true theological inspiration.” Lasch was certainly not one of the faithful.