Links elsewhere 2010/06/22

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Man of the West looks at the Leftist track record and wonders why America's leftists "champion the same policies that have brought whole nations to their knees and criticize their opponents for their alleged insensitivity to the poor--the poor that leftist policies indisputably create in massive numbers!" He also offers the short and painful truth about taekwon-do.

Mikhail Gorbachev was just as callous a despot as his less-polished predecessors, according to once-secret Soviet documents. There's a treasure trove of documents about the USSR from the last years of the Cold War, smuggled out at great risk, but they've yet to find an English translator or publisher.

Ever read about a head of state's snub of Jesse Owens after his triumph at the 1936 Olympic Games? Owens said the snub wasn't from Hitler but FDR. (Via Kathy Shaidle.)

It's like Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the funny pages: The Comics Curmudgeon. (I had no idea how depressing Funky Winkerbean had become.)

C. Michael Patton (the theologian from Edmond, not the recycler from Tulsa) writes about the day he quit believing in God.

Brandon Dutcher offers a Father's Day anecdote from a recent Weekly Standard cover story about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Lori Bongiorno, the Conscious Consumer, says it's wasteful to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

Brace Books -- a great independent bookstore in Ponca City (with a coffee bar, too) -- passes along a parent's recommendation of John Grisham's book for pre-teens: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer.

I just visited with a customer, who is the mom of a 10-year-old son, about this book. She and her son have read it......and she said it's a good read, a page-turner like Grisham's courtroom books, and very appropriate for kids.

Barbara Hollingsworth, local opinion editor of the Washington Examiner, critiques plans for high-density, transit-oriented development in Tysons Corner, Virginia:

It will cost billions of dollars to transform Tysons Corner, but the fact is that the county simply doesn't have the money. Instead of asking the landowners to pick up the slack, county leaders are proposing a series of general countywide tax increases -- on meals, real estate sales, vehicle registration, rental cars, hotel rooms and car repairs.

This means that average Fairfax County residents and businesses, whose property taxes have doubled during the past decade, will be taxed even more to pay for redevelopment in Tysons Corner --over and above the estimated $100 million a year they will be charged for the Silver Line's operating costs. In the current economic climate, there's no guarantee taxpayers will get a return on their forced investment.

Gene Healy examines the structural damage done to federalism by the passage of the 17th Amendment:

"Let the state legislatures appoint the Senate," Virginia's George Mason urged at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, lest a newly empowered federal government "swallow up the state legislatures." The motion carried unanimously after Mason's remarks.

So it's probably fitting that it's a George Mason University law professor, Todd Zywicki, who has done the best work on the 17th Amendment's pernicious effects.

Zywicki shows that selection by state legislatures was a key pillar of the Constitution's architecture, ensuring that the Senate would be a bulwark for decentralized government. It's "inconceivable," Zywicki writes, "that a Senator during the pre-17th Amendment era would vote for an 'unfunded federal mandate.' "

And finally, Mark Merrill offers a simple set of Rules of the House.

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» Urban notes, 2010/07/20 from BatesLine

Recent articles of interest on urban policy, both in Tulsa and elsewhere: Daniel Jeffries posts a map of the present-day University of Tulsa campus, comparing it to a map from the 1960s, showing the removal of the street grid over the last half century... Read More


Nick Roberts said:

The thing about Tyson's Corner is that the entire transit overhaul was actually born out of the immense traffic nightmares, gridlocked streets, and other overtaxed infrastructure. Tyson's Corner doesn't have much of a choice but to embrace sustainable development. The alternative is spending near as much on widening all of the roads. I'm glad they have recognized there is potential for much higher-quality growth if they embrace sustainability.

Sneakz said:

First, on Funky: People have been hating on the strip, hard, ever since the Lisa with cancer story arc - sometimes with good reason, but usually with the reflexive hatred that is reserved for Family Circus.

Don't get me started on Tyson's Corner, but I think that the Examiner is wrong wrong wrong on this one in many many ways. The only way to TRULY fix Tysons (and I live here) is to tear the thing down and start over again. With the addition of some mass transit, widening arterial roads, a shift in development to include some more dense residential areas and real shopping for inhabitants, some pressure will be taken off the surface transportation grid. I, for example, have to drive to Vienna or Falls Church to shop for groceries.

Now, to the meat: Tysons is a regional problem, not just a local one for the people in the 5 or so square miles that is considered Tysons Corner. The traffic congestion in Tysons causes a cascade of problems not only on the arterials that cross through, but also on the three local freeways, and more distant arterials as well.

Next, the argument that Fairfax taxpayers have a doubled tax burden is true, but misses the point of WHY the tax burden has doubled. Simply speaking, because Fairfax is judged a good and desirable place to live, the value of homes has gone up, and thus taxes have increased. The marginal tax rate has changed, but certainly not by 100% over the past year. In return, the Fairfax Government, while not spending wisely, has bought for its citizens a truly admirable school system and outstanding services like parks, police, court system and water and sewage.

Another major problem here is the so-called Byrd rule, by which the Commonwealth government has to approve any number of actions that are the normal province of local governments (States' Rights, but not Counties' Rights - how conveeeeeenient).

A final problem, with is not addressed at all in the article, is that the state government (see above) squashed plans to create a special taxing district along the Silver Line corridor that would have put the burden on the landowners whom Ms Collingsworth would like to tax now.

Roy said:

How amazing that a Tulsa, OK blogger has interest in and links to Tyson's Corner in VA.

Note also the proof of your blog's following, Mike. This will be the third follow up re Tyson's.

Decades ago my wife grew up in near Tyson's. Her stories tell me it has always had traffic problems.

We got from her mom's books one on the history of Falls Church. This book also tells of Tyson's history. From colonial times the diagonal roads to Tyson's existed. Short cuts then, they became 20th C traffic headaches, especially at their intersection.

Maybe 'roundabouts' on a large scale would provide some sort of solution?

Thanks for taking the time to post your first-hand perspective, Sneakz. At the heart of the problem seems to be an 18th century road network combined with late 20th century suburban development. Interesting that the state government is so involved in local government decisions. I recall reading long ago that the states that style themselves Commonwealths -- Mass., Pa., Va., and Ky. -- granted more autonomy to local government, but evidently that's no longer the case in Virginia. A special taxing district would have made a lot of sense, with assessment proportionate to benefit; that's been mentioned as a way to finance light rail transit here.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 22, 2010 8:59 PM.

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