Restoring the California Dream, Not Nailing Its Coffin

Virtually everyone, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, is aware of the severity of California’s housing crisis. The bad news is that most proposals floating in Sacramento are likely to do very little to address our housing shortage.

Newsom has promised to have 3.5 million homes built over the next seven years to solve the problem. That is, conservatively stated, more than 2.6 million that would be built at the current rate of construction.
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Party of the People? Or the Oligarchs?

The Trump uprising, with a renegade capitalist serving as the tribune of the forgotten working class, appears headed toward an inevitable denouement. Trump’s intemperance, jingoism and lack of political skills have undermined the GOP’s ability to reach beyond its base in the South, the exurbs and parts of middle America.

The Democrats should be able to easily overcome this collapsing regime, much as has occurred in California when the GOP managed to alienate immigrants in an ever more diverse state. An entire generation of young people, minorities and immigrants have been lost, and, almost by default, the Democrats are positioned to consolidate their power on a national basis. Read more

Gentrification is Failing in Los Angeles

If Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti runs for president, he will no doubt point to the high-rises that have transformed downtown L.A. into something of a hipster haven. He could also point to fevered dense development, both planned and already in process, spreading across the Los Angeles basin, particularly near transit stops, as well as an increasingly notable art scene.

Yet for all the changes in the city, have things improved for most Angelenos? Sadly, the answer is no. For all the speculative capital pouring into the city from China and elsewhere, the L.A. area suffers the highest levels of crowding, the greatest levels of poverty, the least affordable housing, the lowest homeownership rates and the second-largest concentration of homeless in the nation.

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The Middle Kingdom and the U.S. Economy

In the poker match between President Donald Trump and China’s new all-but-emperor, Xi Jinping, it’s widely assumed that Xi holds the best hand. Yet President Xi’s hand may not be as awesome as it appears, while the United States, even under this very flawed president, may hold some fine cards.

Of course, Xi wields power in a way that Trump could only dream about. He has close to total control over the media, academia and the business community. In a way not seen in my over three decades of travel to China, Xi has fostered a cult of personality that looms over that vast country, and even has developed a strong cheering section among western business and intellectual leaders.

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The Democrats Finally Won the Suburbs. Now Will They Destroy Them?

The Democratic Party’s triumphal romp through suburbia was the big story of the midterms.

In 2016 the suburbs, home to the majority of American voters, voted 50 to 45 for Donald Trump; this year, 52 percent went Democratic. In affluent suburban districts once controlled by the GOP—outside Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Kansas City and Philadelphia, and in Orange County, California—long-held GOP seats flipped and are unlikely to flip back unless Democrats alienate their new constituents by seeking to destroy suburban life.

The suburbs are where most Americans, including roughly four in five residents of our largest metropolitan areas, live. Historically, they have favored Republicans in most elections. But that tie has been weakened for reasons including the growing diversity of these areas and revulsion at Trump, particularly among educated women. Read more

Emmanuel Newsom?

A youthful and handsome appearance, the blessings of the autocrats and clerics of our times, and a fawning media — all these belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron just a year ago. He was praised as everything from the “new leader of the Free World” to Europe’s Reagan.

Today Macron’s presidency is adrift, paralyzed by grassroots opposition to his policies — mostly from the middle and working classes — and a popularity rating about half of that suffered by Donald Trump. Is this the fate that awaits our new governor, Gavin Newsom?

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What Will Come After the Era of Trumpism?

If this undisguised reality series played by Hollywood rules, it would have already been canceled. The President Trump show has failed to grow its audience, and the reviews, even from the mildly sympathetic, are consistently bad.

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The Past and Future of Latino Politics

Perhaps nothing will define our future politics more than the dispensation of Latino voters. Once limited to a few states, Latino voters are now an important and growing factor in many parts of the country beyond the Southwest or New York.

Where are Latinos going? More than African-Americans, who tend to vote roughly 90 percent Democratic, Latinos have traditionally divided their votes, with roughly two in three generally supporting Democrats. Some Republican politicians, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. Bush, new Florida Sen. Rick Scott as well as current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have gotten over 40 percent support or higher.

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The First Shots in the Climate Wars

In launching their now successful protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s gas hike, the French gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) have revived their country’s reputation for rebelling against monarchial rule. It may well foreshadow a bitter, albeit largely avoidable, battle over how to address the issue of climate change.

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The Soul of the New Machine

Thirty-five years ago Tracy Kidder electrified readers with his “Soul of a New Machine,” which detailed the development of a minicomputer. Today we may be seeing the emergence of another machine, a political variety that could turn the country toward a permanent one-party state.

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