Politics

The Uncertain Future of the California Bullet Train

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On July 18, at a site pregnant with symbolism — the future location of what HSR advocates hope will become San Francisco’s terminus of the state’s bullet train — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to fund construction of the first section of the high-speed line. Earlier in the day, Brown had traveled for a similar ceremony to Los Angeles, the other "bookend" of the project.  read more »

Let L.A. Be L.A.

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Victor’s Restaurant, a nondescript coffee shop on a Hollywood side street, seems an odd place to meet for a movement challenging many of Los Angeles’s most powerful, well-heeled forces. Yet amid the uniformed service workers, budding actors, and retirees enjoying coffee and French toast, unlikely revolutionaries plot the next major battle over the city’s future. Driving their rebellion is a proposal from the L.A. planning department that would allow greater density in the heart of Hollywood, a scruffy district that includes swaths of classic California bungalows and charming 1930s-era garden apartments.  read more »

Public School Parent Trigger Laws: Something’s Gotta Give

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In the mid-1950s, the McGuire Sisters’ version of Johnny Mercer’s song about what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object made it to number five on the record charts. Their prediction, that “Something’s Gotta Give,” provides an apt description of the outcome of today’s battle between the parents of Millennials who want more say in their children’s education and the teacher unions and school district administrators who refuse to give up a smidgeon of control over the public schools they run.  read more »

The Tribal Election: Barack Obama Turns to the Karl Rove Playbook

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Move over, Iraq. Tribal politics have arrived at home.

It’s not like our tribes will arm themselves, but American politics is developing a disturbing resemblance to Mesopotamia’s ever-feuding Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds as the 2012 election rapidly devolves into a power struggle between irreconcilable factions rather than a healthy debate among citizens.

The blame here falls in large part on President Barack Obama, who after four years of economic lethargy needs to recast the election as anything other than what it naturally is: a referendum on the incumbent and the state of the nation.  read more »

The New Geography Of Success In The U.S. And The Trap Of The 'New Normal'

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This year’s presidential election is fast becoming an ode to diminished expectations. Neither candidate is advancing a reasonable refutation of the conventional wisdom that America is in the grips of a “new normal” — an era of low growth, persistently high unemployment and less upward mobility, particularly for the working class.  read more »

Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?

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Today’s youth, both here and abroad, have been screwed by their parents’ fiscal profligacy and economic mismanagement. Neil Howe, a leading generational theorist, cites the “greed, shortsightedness, and blind partisanship” of the boomers, of whom he is one, for having “brought the global economy to its knees.”  read more »

How Fossil-Fuel Democrats Became An Endangered Species

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In an election pivoting on jobs, energy could be the issue that comes back to haunt Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as the cultural and ideological schism between energy-producing Republican states and energy-dependent Democratic ones widens.  read more »

High Speed Rail Advocates Discredit Their Cause - Again

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Is there any high speed rail boondoggle big enough to make rail transport advocates reject it?  Sadly, for all too many of them, the answer is No, as two recent developments make clear.

The first is in California, where the state continues to press forward on a high speed rail plan for the state that could cost anywhere from $68 billion to $100 billion. Voters had previously approved $10 billion in bonds for the project, but as the state's economy and finances have continued to sour – including multiple major cities going bankrupt – the polls have turned against it, and with good reason.  read more »

China and the Future of Hong Kong

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Last week Hong Kong’s new leader Leung Chun-ying was sworn into office by Chinese President Hu Jintao. The ceremony coincided with the 15th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China so there was plenty of rhetoric about ‘strengthening ties with the motherland’.  read more »

Coney Island's Invisible Towers

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When crowds thronged Coney Island for the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest on July 4th, they found a boardwalk amusement strip that was, for the umpteenth year in a row, undergoing a summer of change and transition.  read more »