The Siege of Washington Begins
July 25, 2012
If, like me, you live in the D.C. area and your housemate has been watching “Jeopardy” over the last few weeks, you’ve probably gotten to hear Romney singing “America the Beautiful” pretty regularly and you may be wondering if the sheer number of political ads have sky-rocketed.
Eleven years ago, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work on education. The liberal think tank that hired me focused on state issues, so I had nothing to do with the project that was consuming D.C. wonks at the time: a once-a-decade reauthorization of the mammoth federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would become the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
A. Philip Randolph, Nomad
June 12, 2012
Many years ago the AFL-CIO gave Union Station, the big Beaux Arts train station opposite the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a statue of A. Philip Randolph, the great labor and civil rights leader. Randolph organized and was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which waged a 10-year battle to win recognition from the Pullman Company. He was also the person who first conceived what eventually became Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington.
Honest Marion Barry
June 11, 2012
In 1967 the Mamas and the Papas recorded a song called "Creeque Alley" that included the refrain, "And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass," a rude but accurate reference to the band's caftan-wearing star, Cass Elliot. The line is repeated three times, but on the fourth go-round it's changed to "And everyone's gettin' fat except Mama Cass." Which comes as a humorous surprise because in fact all the other band members were quite svelte. (According to one plausible reading, "gettin' fat" actually referred to the rising and falling financial success of individual members of the band.
What Would You Pay for Clean Water?
May 24, 2012
What would you pay for clean water? Clean water is a top health issue for any community, and that includes public and economic health. A modern s
Guest post by Thomas Toch Some school reformers said it would never happen. But after spending nearly two decades launching thousands of charter schools to challenge traditional public school systems, the Teach for America generation of social entrepreneurs who poured out of the nation’s best colleges bent on transforming urban education are now moving into leadership positions in the very school systems they sought to replace. Not surprisingly, they’re working hard to introduce a new performance-driven brand of public schooling into often-dysfunctional government bureaucracies.
Go-Go, From Scopitone to Chuck Brown
May 18, 2012
I don’t mean to slander his legacy, but the news this week of the death of Chuck Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go,” made me think of Scopitone, the proto-video platform for cheesily risqué musical films that Susan Sontag enshrined in the early canon of camp. Brown, who worked since the 1960s around the area of Maryland (where he was born), northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C., never made a Scopitone film. He did something better, though, leading the development of the sexy, upbeat subgenre of funk that has its own name, go-go, but could just as well be called Chuck Brown’s music.
“We’re Americans,” Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu told me two weeks ago in the Russell Senate building in Washington, D.C. “We don’t eat our dogs, and we don’t eat our horses.” She had just finished delivering a speech to a rapt audience of two-dozen bright-eyed teenage girls, a handful of congressmen, top members of the ASPCA and Humane Society, and Lorenzo Borghese, star of the ninth season of the reality television show The Bachelor.
Defending The Secret Service
April 17, 2012
The more you look at this Secret Service scandal, the less there seems to be. Eleven Secret Service agents and about as many military officials are suspected of hiring prostitutes during their stay in Cartagena, Colombia, in advance of the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas, which President Obama attended. I’m not saying this isn't embarrassing. I’m not saying the wives of these government employees don’t have grounds to be very, very angry with them. I’m not even necessarily saying the Secret Service agents in question shouldn’t be fired.