Sunday, January 15, 2017

Talking American Character with BYU Radio

One of American Character's biggest markets, curiously enough, has been Utah, a corner of the ruggedly individualist Far West settled by Utopia-building communitarian planners. So it was my pleasure to talk about the book -- and what it says about saving the Republic -- with Brigham Young University Radio's Matt Townsend on Friday (audio at the link.)

By coincidence, I was just out in Utah for POLITICO Magazine's What Works series, to write about their 20-year experiment in long-rang, collaborative, land-use planning. That story -- out Thursday -- is yet another example of the sort of individual liberty/common good balancing act that cities across the country manage to pull off. If only we could learn to do it at the state and federal level.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Washington Monthly primer on American Nations and 2016 Election


While you're all waiting for Donald Trump's first press conference in half a year, here's a primer I posted over at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog on my American Nations-driven analysis of the election (itself, data and all, over at the Press Herald.) It summarizes the paradigm for those unfamiliar with it, or who've forgotten it.

That is all.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On Sen. Collins' championing Sessions nomination


A few minutes from now, Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General will be introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee by an unlikely champion: Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who by most metrics is the most moderate member of her caucus.

Why is Collins actively supporting the controversial nominee? What do Maine-based women's and civil rights groups think of it? It's all in my story in today's Portland Press Herald.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

The American Nations and the 2016 Presidential Election


Thanks to all of you out there who've been asking for my American Nations-driven analysis of the 2016 presidential election. At long last -- and with the help of Christian MilNeil at the Portland Press Herald and Will Mitchell of NBT Solutions -- I'm able to provide that. It's all posted at the Press Herald's website.

The highlights: the regional cultures followed precisely the same partisan pattern as they have in the last three cycles, but Donald Trump's substitution of ethno-nationalism for laissez faire economics on the campaign trail allowed him to outperform his recent predecessors in the Midlands and rural Yankeedom, tipping margins just enough to eke out victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, securing an Electoral College victory, but not the popular vote. Details herein.

A note for data geeks: while preparing this analysis, I discovered and corrected an error in the maps published in the book: Bernadillo County, New Mexico -- that's Albuquerque, which coincidentally I wrote from last month in Politico -- should of course be in El Norte, not Far West.

I've been tied up with other professional and family responsibilities this past year and a half -- including the writing and launch of American Nations' sequel, American Character -- so wasn't able to provide frequent analysis of the campaign as it happened, but here are some American Nations-driven pieces I did on past elections and political developments:

* On the regional cultures's constraints on the Tea Party's agenda (that's the laissez faire stuff again).
* On the 2012 Super Tuesday Republican primaries.
* On Obama's Greater Appalachia problem (from 2012).
* On the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections and Dixie-style Republicans' weakness in Yankeedom.
* On why to watch Utah as a potential swing state down the road (2012).
* On regionalism trumping rural/urban splits in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race.
* On regional effects in New Jersey's 2013 gubernatorial contest.
* On why Iowa matters, as the strongest indicator of Midlander thinking (late 2015)

Hopefully I'll have more time in the coming weeks and months to generate more regular analysis.

[Update, 6/13/17: Here's a little primer for all this I put together for Washington Monthly's readers.]




Saturday, December 31, 2016

End of the year round-up on POLITICO cities project

2016 is thankfully about to end, though I suspect we will long for it by the second quarter of next year. In parting, a quick round-up of items related to my series on successful innovations in American cities for POLITICO Magazine.

The Vermont "hack": Burlington Electric, the city-owned utility in Vermont's largest city, is in the news today because they discovered malevolent Russian state "hacker" code on one of their computers. I profiled the utility last month for the series.

Roanoke Times editorial: thanks to Roanoke, Virginia's newspaper of record for this editorial discussing how to move cities forward, with special focus on my POLITICO article on that city, and the work of The Atlantic's James Fallows. Much appreciated.

Bloomberg View on homelessness: Syndicated columnist Noah Smith took up the issue of work and
 homelessness this week, citing my most recent piece for the series on Albuquerque. The column was carried across the country, including at Maine's Bangor Daily News.

And, separately, thanks to columnists at the Herald Dispatch in Huntington, West Virginia and the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho for taking up American Nations this month. Much appreciated.

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's hope it outperforms expectations.







Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Maine: How will Trump administration effect LePage's education reform drive?

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram, I write about how the incoming Trump administration -- and its education secretary nominee, billionaire school voucher and charter school champion Betsy DeVos -- might effect the landscape for Gov. Paul LePage's school reform drive.

The most likely effect, experts say: new pressure to lift the 10-school cap on taxpayer-financed, privately-operated charters schools. Read on for details.

DeVos is a board member and major contributor to Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, a focus of this 2012 investigation for the Telegram.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How Albuquerque took on homelessness


My latest for POLITICO Magazine's What Works series is on how a concerned Republican mayor and an out-of-control police department created the context for an impressive and comprehensive effort to deal with homelessness in Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. From a van that picks willing panhandlers off the street and puts them to work for the day for $9.50 an hour to a drive to get the most vulnerable homeless people into permanent homes immediately, the city has been turning heads and pointing the way toward more effective strategies for helping people get off the streets.

This is my tenth full-length "What Works" piece this year. The others were on how Des Moines went from dull to cool; how Manchester, New Hampshire turned its vast 19th century millyard to spinning high-tech gold; on how Denver built its game-changing light rail system, only to discover its most powerful effects were not what they'd expected; how Cincinnati transformed "America's most dangerous neighborhood"; how Philadelphia repurposed a 1200 acre former naval base;  how Milwaukee breathed life back into a legacy industrial district, creating the manufacturing park of the future; how Roanoke, Virginia went from a train city to a brain city;  how Winston-Salem, North Carolina pivoted from tobacco manufacturing to high-tech innovation and how Burlington, Vermont -- Bernie Sanders' hometown -- became the country's first all-renewable-powered city. In addition -- on the occasion of the Republican National Convention -- I had this shorter story on how Cleveland revamped its long-neglected Public Square.

Where's next for What Works? Hint: for one religious denomination, it's literally the Holy Land.