James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Showing posts for "Renewing America"

How Do We Pay to Repair America’s Decaying Infrastructure?

by James M. Lindsay
Passengers wait for a train at New York's Penn Station. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters) Passengers wait for a train at New York's Penn Station. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

America’s publicly owned infrastructure is falling apart. One in nine bridges in the United States is “structurally deficient.” There are 240,000 water main breaks each year. Thirty-two percent of America’s roads are in “poor or mediocre condition.” Amtrak’s Acela (which I am riding right now) is on time only 65.2 percent of the time, and runs at a top speed well below that achieved by fast trains overseas. Then there are the failings of airports like New York’s LaGuardia, which Vice President Joe Biden rightly likened last month to “some third-world country.” To add insult to injury, our long, harsh winter has only added to the long list of infrastructure repairs needed across the United States. So it’s not surprising that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States a D+ on its latest report card for America’s infrastructure. Read more »

Public College Costs Up, State and Local Support Down

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama speaks about college affordability at the University of Michigan in January 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama speaks about college affordability at the University of Michigan in January 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday I posted some good news on the higher education front: The just-released Times Higher Education (THE) 2013 World Reputation Rankings show that no country can match the United States when it comes to great research universities. We are number one by a country mile. Today, however, brings some bad news: the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association released a report showing that America’s public universities face stiff challenges in staying on top of the global higher education pile. Read more »

U.S. Universities Dominate Reputation Rankings

by James M. Lindsay
Harvard University t-shirts on display in Harvard Square in Cambridge (Jessica Rinaldi/ Courtesy Reuters). Harvard University t-shirts on display in Harvard Square in Cambridge (Jessica Rinaldi/ Courtesy Reuters).

The latest rankings are out! No, not the ones claiming that Gonzaga has the best men’s basketball team in the land. Rather, the Times Higher Education (THE) 2013 World Reputation Rankings for colleges and universities. They came out this week. As was the case with the THE World University Rankings that came out last October, the reputational rankings make it clear that when it comes to post-secondary education, “America rocks!” Read more »

U.S. Universities Dominate World Rankings, For Now

by James M. Lindsay
A UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony. (Jonathan Alcorn/ courtesy Reuters) A UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony. (Jonathan Alcorn/ courtesy Reuters)

The new college rankings are out. No, not the rankings for football prowess (though they are out too). The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. They debuted last week, and American higher education has reason to chant, “We’re Number One!” The question, though, is for how long? Read more »

Is the Soaring Cost of College a Problem?

by James M. Lindsay
College-Tuition-20120514 Political science major Paul Fabsik wears a price tag hanging from his mortarboard. (Brian Snyder/courtesy Reuters)

The New York Times ran a fascinating article yesterday on soaring student college debt. To make a long story short—and at 4,500+ words it was a long story—students are taking on a lot more debt to get themselves through college and finding it harder to pay back what they borrowed. That trend is worrying. Because if the system for financing American higher education breaks down, one of the country’s primary mechanisms for Read more »

Friday File: Obama’s Open Mic Gaffe

by James M. Lindsay
obama-medvedev-hot-mic-2012-03-30 U.S. President Obama talks with Russian President Medvedev in South Korea. (Larry Downing/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. President Obama got himself into hot water this week when he was overhead telling Russian president Dmitri Medvedev he would have “more flexibility” on issues like missile defense after the November election and that incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin should give him “space.” The incident added to a long list of presidential and vice presidential “open mic” gaffes. During a sound-check before a 1984 radio interview, Ronald Reagan warmed up by saying,  “My fellow Americans, I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” That got people’s hearts pounding. Vice President Biden famously called the signing of Obama’s health-care bill in 2010 “a big f***ing deal.” Parents of young children were not pleased. Read more »

Friday File: Cherry Trees Blossom in Washington, DC

by James M. Lindsay
The cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are in full bloom in Washington, DC. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) The cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are in full bloom in Washington, DC. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. Washington, DC, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Tokyo. It was one hundred years ago next Tuesday that Japan’s largest city gave our nation’s capital 3,000 cherry trees to plant along the banks of the Tidal Basin. (No, George Washington did not plant them, and no, he did not cut down any cherry trees. That story was invented by Parson Mason Weems who wrote a not-quite-accurate biography of Washington shortly after America’s greatest president died.) First lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two trees. Thanks to the splendid caretaking of the National Park Service, the trees have thrived. Seeing them in full bloom brings to mind the lovely words that Henry Wadworth Longfellow wrote long ago: Read more »

Guest Post: Anya Schmemann on the U.S. Education Reform and National Security Report

by Anya Schmemann
Cover of the U.S. Education Reform and National Security report, released March 20, 2012. Cover of the U.S. Education Reform and National Security report, released March 20, 2012.

I had the great pleasure to spend the past two days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  (Oskee Wow Wow!) To walk the Illinois campus is to see American education at its best. Whether it’s the work being done at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology on electronic nanostructures, or the high-end software being developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, or the efforts by the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Program to turn biomass into fuel, to name just a few outstanding research initiatives underway at Illinois, it’s easy to see how education improves our lives, creates jobs, and keeps the United States competitive. Read more »

Is the United States Making Progress in STEM Education?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama pumps air into the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon designed by Joey Hudy in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama pumps air into the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon designed by Joey Hudy in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters)

Last week President Obama held a science fair at the White House. More than 100 students showed up. So too did Bill Nye the science guy. The student-crafted projects ranged from a new cancer therapy to a marshmallow cannon. Read more »