Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

Great discussion about sports:

Obama: Well, it’s funny, the mythology of sports is just — it’s deeply embedded in us. I remember I visited Iraq as a senator, and I think at that point I had already started running for president, but I can’t remember. Anyway, they invited me to go into this gym, and there were like 3,000 of our troops there. And somebody just handed me a ball and said, “Come on, Mr. President, take a shot.” And I said, OK, and I shot it and swished it from the 3-point line. And the amount of excitement that those folks had was surprising to me.

But I think it just sort of reminded me of the kind of bond that sports creates in people. People — for all our differences politically, regionally, economically — most folks understand sports. Probably because it’s one of the few places where it’s a true meritocracy. There’s not a lot of BS. Ultimately, who’s winning, who’s losing, who’s performing, who’s not — it’s all laid out there.

When Barack Obama took office, he created the first-ever White House Office of Urban Affairs, and he tapped Mr. Carrion to be his city’s czar. This was seen as the first great signal that things would be different, that the promises made by Candidate Obama, of “putting the UD back in HUD,” would be fulfilled.

“It’s symbolic, the White House Office of Urban Affairs,” said Ed Blakely, the former dean of the New School’s urban policy department and New Orleans’s “recovery czar.” He currently directs the United State Studies Center at the University of Sydney in Australia. “It’s very important because it showed the president’s commitment to cities, though a lot of work remains to be done.”

But the office fell by the wayside amid the mounting recession, competition from the cabinet agencies and ambivalence within the administration. When Mr. Carrion left for his provincial position at HUD in May 2010, it all but vanished, with staff falling from six to two. The White House switchboard cannot find it sometimes.

Yet Eastwood seems to have arrived at a similar place as Springsteen. Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad for Chrysler sounded like a script from The West Wing—or even (God forbid) an ad for Barack Obama. Ramrod straight, Eastwood strides through the half-light and defiantly snarls that the dimness is a new dawn, not dusk. “People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback … The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now the Motor City is fighting again.”