Joel Kotkin on New Orleans as a symbol for what ails urban America:
This collapse of responsibility and discipline goes against the entire grain of urban history. From republican Rome to the golden ages of Venice, Amsterdam, London, and New York, cities have flourished most when they have served as places of aspiration and upward mobility, of hard work and individual accountability. By becoming mass dispensers of welfare for the unskilled, playpens for the well-heeled and fashionable, easy marks for special interests, and bunglers at maintaining public safety and dispensing efficient services to residents and businesses, many cities have become useless to the middle class, and toxic for the disorganized poor. Today’s liberal urban leadership across America needs to see the New Orleans storm not as just a tragedy, but also as a dispeller of illusions, a revealer of awful truths, and a potential harbinger of things to come in their own backyards.
Kotkin also has a great companion piece at the American Enterprise Online that compares New Orleans and Houston and the two very different paths they took to become what they are today.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM
Gov. Schwarzenegger has denied clemency to convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams.
Here is a pdf file of the full decision.
Here is a long clip of Jesse Jackson reacting to the decision on CNN, via The Political Teen. An excerpt:
"To kill him is a way of making politicans look tough."
Posted by dweintraub at 12:44 PM
My colleague Dan Walters is writing a 10-part series on the mistakes that led to Schwarzenegger's rapid descent from one of the most popular governors ever to a man fighting for his job. In part 2 today, Walters says Schwarzenegger's first act -- rolling back an increase in the car tax -- was his first mistake. Dan's point is that the governor blew a $4 billion hole in the budget that he is still wrestling with today. Can't argue with that. But I'd offer a couple of points to consider. First, you can't assume that without the car tax cut the budget gap would be $4 billion smaller now. It's likely that if that money had been in the budget, it would have been much harder for Schwarzenegger to win the spending trims that he has enacted, so while the state would have more money, it would also be spending more, and the gap might be exactly what it is today. Second, as a political matter, renouncing such a high-profile campaign promise on day one would have not only been cynical, it would have obliterated any good will the new governor had as he took the job, and thus he never would have had the high approval ratings that allowed him to have a downfall. If you think the car tax cut was a mistake, the better argument might be to say that he never should have made it the centerpiece of his campaign. But once he did and was elected, I don't think he could have credibly walked away from it.
Posted by dweintraub at 8:49 AM