Summer 2009

Urban America Volume 36, Number 2, Summer 2009. Letter from the Editor The Ten-Year Plan IAN MERRIFIELD Daring to end homelessness The Future of Urban Education Tiffany wen and jyoti jasrasaria The impact of new innovation on urban school systems Cities Without Limits Chris danello and ashley fabrizio How long-term factors drive municipal economies A … Read more

Conservative Mental Gestures

The last few days, I’ve been reminded of Lionel Trilling’s rather impolite description of conservatism as a philosophy expressed in “irritable mental gestures” rather than ideas. What keeps provoking this thought in me is all the carping about Sonia Sotomayor’s “reverse racism.” I got to thinking about what I find so, well, irritating about this … Read more

A Letter to the Editor of the NY Times

To the Editor: Please explain to me the logic of an article that announces that Sonia Sotomayor has an “issue of temperament,” presents exactly one instance of allegedly intemperate questioning, and concludes with a quote from the lawyer to whom those questions were addressed, saying that the questions were “reasonable and fine.” Okay. Now explain … Read more

Judges and Biography

Conservative pundits and their mainstream-media abettors are stunned, stunned I say, at the suggestion that a judge’s biography might have some sort of influence on his or her decisions. Somewhere under the Mojave Desert, a cabal of conservative engineers is working on the Adjudicator 9000, the amicus brief-processing automaton that will solve the problem of … Read more

Urban America Introduction

In Pursuit of the More Perfect City Since 1630, when John Winthrop first exhorted his fellow Puritans to “be as a city upon a hill,” America has preoccupied itself with serving as an exemplar. Indeed, perhaps no belief plays a more important role in the American psyche than the concept of national perfectibility. Speaking of … Read more

Too Soon to Tell

Predicting political realignment Most discussions of youth politics tout blog posts and text messages rather than grand realignments. Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics goes for the latter, and makes the case that America is at the crossroads of a political realignment driven by the distinct character of Millennials. Though the … Read more

To Build an Empire

Tolerance and hyperpowers History often remembers empires as power-hungry, violent aggressors that conquer at the expense of victim nations. In Day of Empire, Amy Chua uses case studies of empires of the past, present, and future (such as Rome, America, and potentially, countries like India) as well as failed “hyperpowers” (such as Nazi Germany) to … Read more

The Ten-Year Plan

Daring to end homelessness While the recent collapse of the U.S. housing market has prompted a renewed debate about American homeownership and its future, the related topic of homelessness has remained largely ignored. Hundreds of thousands of citizens live lives of addiction and mental illness on the streets of American cities. On any given day, … Read more

The Shia Awakening

Sunni-Shia conflict and the logic of containment In 2003, for the first time in history, the Shia were poised to take control of a major Arab state. But the toppling of the Sunni-dominated regime in Iraq was followed by horrifying levels of ethnic violence, bringing the divide between Sunni and Shia to the forefront and … Read more

The Politics of Line Drawing

The future of gerrymandering after the 2010 census When Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary in February, Republicans blamed the debacle on the White House’s alleged attempt to usurp control of the 2010 census, which rests with the Commerce Department. This short-lived controversy reminded us that while the census might be … Read more