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Showing posts from November, 2014

Black Thursday: Does It Matter?

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The arms race among chain stores for Day-after-Thanksgiving shoppers breached midnight a couple years ago, and this year stores were advertising "doorbusters" as early as 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. The muscling in by holiday shopping onto what had been a sacred day for American civil religion has occasioned some outrage among commentators, which has in turn led to counter-outrage and charges of hypocrisy. My friend and fellow blogger John Heaton noted on Facebook:
For everyone concerned about retail workers having to work tomorrow, please don't forget to boycott the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade; NFL football; NHL ice hockey; NCAA football and basketballl; and literally anything else that airs on any TV or radio station. Unless you think it's OK for cameramen, engineers, stadium beer vendors, balloon wranglers, newscasters, and athletes to have to spend their holiday away from their families. My own initial instinct is to be, if not outraged, at least profoundly t…

Four towns, four days

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Last weekend I had the opportunity to drive south of chilly Iowa, as far as Arkansas, where the leaves were still colorful, but it was also chilly. The impetus was an event at the Clinton Presidential Museum and Library, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The museum is in a new building...

...but the neighboring Clinton School of Public Service is in a repurposed building that has been a train depot, shop and a storage facility over the years. The makeover is lovely.
Here's an interior shot, of the library where they had a reception for us visiting academics Thursday night. There's just something about a historic building.. The Clinton campus is located east of downtown, and has spurred some commercial development in the area now known as River Market. An internal report out in advance of the anniversary celebration credited the museum with spurring $2.5 billion in development since its opening (cited in Leslie Newell Peacock, "Ten Years After," Arkansas Ti…

Ballot initiatives: Election 2014

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There was more to Election Day than met the eye. Specifically, there were a number of state and local initiatives that bore directly on our common life. In nearly all of these cases I was unaware of the vote; the information below comes from the sources listed at the end of the piece.

Transportation. San Francisco and Seattle passed propositions that would expand public transit operations and routes, and in Seattle's case prevent proposed transit cuts by raising the city sales tax. San Francisco's Proposition A also set aside funding for 27 miles of bike routes, as well as traffic signal and crosswalk improvements for pedestrian safety. Other transit improvements were passed in Alameda County (Oakland), California; Arlington County (suburban Washington), Virginia; Clayton County (suburban Atlanta), Georgia; and the State of Rhode Island. Transportation measures lost in Alachua and Pinellas Counties (Gainesville and St. Petersburg, respectively), Florida, and Austin, Texas, whi…

Turn red for what?

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The off-year elections of 2014 occurred in the shadow of continued economic uncertainty. Economic indicators have shown improvement since the recession hit bottom in 2009, but the public is slow to buy into the idea of recovery--appropriately so, in my view. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last summer found respondents split almost down the middle: 50 percent believed the economy is improving, 47 percent disagreed. Similarly, 49 percent said the economy was still in recession, 46 percent disagreed. (The percentage describing the economy as in recession has steadily declined since 2010, but remains too high to describe the public mood as anything like confident.) 69 percent of respondents told CNN that another financial crisis in the near future was either "very likely" or "somewhat likely." (Source: Polling Report) As of today, the Real Clear Politics average on the question of whether the country is on the "right track" or the "wrong track" st…