Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Two comments on national politics

The blog focuses on urbanism, placemaking, metropolitan and regional planning, transportation, and local governance, so I try to not comment on national politics except in how it impacts these matters, but two things are worth mentioning, because of how they are portrayed in the media.

1. The Special Elections, especially in Georgia, as a thermometer of support "for the Democrats" or "for President Trump."

If the special elections were in districts where Republicans had previously been elected on very close margins, it would be reasonable to say that they are good indicators for the tenor of the electorate. Plus they are elections run on a much shorter time line than the traditional election process.

The Kansas State Legislature is about 80% Republican, so expecting a Democrat to win in a special election, on a short time frame, is unrealistic. The same with Wyoming. Georgia may be a little different, but over the last couple decades, Georgia's Sixth Congressional District has been represented by pretty conservative guys, Newt Gingrich and Tom Price. Expecting it to flip was unrealistic. That Jon Ossoff did as well as he did sets him up to run again next year.

I do say that there are things to be learned from each of these elections, especially Georgia's since that is a district in a metropolitan area, which should be going "Democratic" in theory, but isn't.

cf. Jennifer Rubin's Washington Post blog entry, "Is victory in Georgia race of great consequence, or none?"

2. Making the Congressional Budget Office out to be a political animal against Republicans is about denying factual and objective research and analysis.

The New York Times reports ("Little known agency, striving for neutrality, finds itself under withering attack") on how Republicans are attacking the CBO for telling the truth about the impact of Republican proposals for changing health care, etc.

The CBO traditionally has been seen as a nonpartisan, objective, fact-driven organization. So why should Republicans not want such an organization to be seen as credible? Because they are pushing forward legislation that is mendacious and they want to be able to deny it ("CBO Has Clear Message About Losers in House Health Bill "NYT).

Remember the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment?

I finally understand, 20 years after the fact, why the Newt Gingrich led Congress abolished the OTA ("Bring Back the Office of Technology Assessment, NYT; and "The Much-Needed and Sane Congressional Office That Gingrich Killed Off and We Need Back," The Atlantic).

It's because Gingrich, despite having a PhD and being a college professor, wasn't favoring facts and knowledge, but ideology. An independent assessor of technology and science was seen as a threat, not a capacity builder.

The same is now true of the CBO. Hopefully, the same won't happen to the Congressional Research Office.

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At 9:05 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...


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