Tennessee

Welcome to a new feature at the Avenue we are calling “On the Map.” Borrowing from a new tool we created to accompany the recent release of our report on the State of Metropolitan America, On the Map will look at some of the demographic trends behind issues in the news, and use (you guessed it) maps to illuminate those trends. We’ve posted previously on Arizona’s new law to curb illegal immigration, and noticed that legislators in other states like Tennessee didn’t take very long in mounting efforts to follow Arizona’s lead. But Massachusetts? The New York Times reports that a bill to signific

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Here’s some news: you can go home again. For me it’s Chicago, and I had a fervent urge to see some of the Blagojevich trial for myself. I do not know him—most likely because I left Chicago in 1977. I had, however, known two of his predecessor governors who went to the slammer for malfeasance: Dan Walker and Otto Kerner, the second of whom I met in my mother’s living room, post-indictment.

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Judith Shulevitz's article in the print magazine about salt is well worth reading on its own. But I was struck by this passage, about the difficulty of making consumers understand the drawbacks of excessive salt without putting them off salt altogether: Reeducation programs focused on a single ingredient almost always confuse people. No matter how careful education campaigns are to stress that salt is essential to life in small doses, some Americans will demonize the condiment, rather than its industrial overuse.

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Recently we have noted here and here that the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act--one of the nation's key vehicles for keeping the nation competitive--seemed to be proceeding well, with the addition of several important updates, including language embracing the Department of Energy’s Energy Innovation Hubs, a related pilot for clean energy regional consortia, and a new regional innovation clusters title. Well, we spoke too soon.

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So… anyone who's fretting about the fate of the climate bill will just have to wait and see whether John Kerry and Joe Lieberman can drag Lindsey Graham back into negotiations—they're all meeting this afternoon. But if anyone needs a wonky way to pass the time, Harvard economist Robert Stavins has a nice post on an issue that's likely to be particularly contentious if/when the climate bill ever hits. Namely, state preemption.

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Jacob Levy marvels at the way conservatives have portrayed President Obama's student loan reform as a "Soviet-style takeover": Notice that banks would be free to continue to make student loans. And they're not having their existing assets taken. All they're losing is the ability to make publicly subsidized student loans in the future. A comparison with Soviet nationalization is just nuts. The old system consisted of guaranteed loans -- the government would pay private banks to lend money to students for tuition, and guarantee their losses if the students defaulted.

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Noam Scheiber: Obama's next big crusade.

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Last Hurrah

From the opening seconds of the final vote on HR 3590, all you had to do was watch the House leaders of both parties to know what the outcome would be. On the Democratic side, Speaker Pelosi, radiant in lilac suit and matching pumps, was handing out hugs and kisses and posing for pics with groups of her House sisters. Across the aisle, meanwhile, Republican whip Eric Cantor looked even edgier and more vibratory than usual as a handful of his members huddled close, all eyes on the giant illuminated list of member votes projected on the wall above the press gallery.

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News on health care reform will increasingly be about individual members, as President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to accumulate the 216--er, now 217--votes House Democrats need to pass the Senate bill. The widely held assumption among insiders is that the Democrats can count upon about 200 "yes" votes right now, or maybe a few more. There are, meanwhile, somewhere between 30 and 40 House Democratic votes up for grabs. Thursday brought several developments.

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Lloyd Grove reports that, after the 2004 election, Harold Ford Jr. requested and received an audience with Karl Rove: [S]hortly after the 2004 election, no less a Democrat than Rep. Harold Ford Jr.—back then a four-term congressman from Memphis—requested a meeting to discuss his political future in Tennessee.

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