Friday, October 29, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Daft Punk

So in the middle of a Phoenix concert at Madison Square Garden, this happened:

So epic.

Heckuva Job, Halliburton

You'd think that the constant fraud and waste would have stopped them from getting massive government contracts, but then again:
WASHINGTON — Halliburton Co. acknowledged that it skipped a critical test on the final formulation of cement used to seal BP's oil well before it blew out catastrophically in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company, which was BP's cementing contractor, came under increased scrutiny when investigators from the president's oil spill commission revealed Thursday that tests performed by the company before the deadly blowout showed the cement to be unstable.

Halliburton in a statement issued late Thursday night said it did not conduct a stability test on the final mix of cement after a last-minute change by BP added more of a certain ingredient. Earlier statements by the company had said tests showed the cement to be stable.

The cement mix's failure to prevent oil and gas from entering the well has been identified by BP and others as one of the causes of the accident, the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP and Halliburton decided to use a foam slurry created by injecting nitrogen into cement to secure the bottom of the well, a decision outside experts have criticized.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't Tread On Me

By now I'm sure you've heard of the disgusting video where a Rand Paul supporter attempts to curb stomp a activist in Kentucky.

If you havn't seen it, here's the video:

At least he's sorry for what he did:
Tim Profitt, the Rand Paul supporter behind the white sneaker that notoriously stomped on a MoveOn activist's head in Kentucky, sought to play down the importance of the incident Tuesday, and went so far as to ask the victim for an apology.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Profitt told WKYT. "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

While the victim, Lauren Valle, said Tuesday that she believed the campaign workers' violent reaction to her presence there was "premeditated," Profitt told WKYT that he thought Valle was following a strict protocol with the intent of creating controversy.

"She's a professional at what she does," Profitt said, "and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing."
Well, ok then.

I see the Ginny Wells-Thomas approach is taking hold all over.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"There Is A Muslim Problem"

I feel like this is more overtly racist than usual, even for O'Reilly: (via atrios)

When Don Imus thinks you've crossed a line...

False Equivalency Awesomeness

DougJ at Balloon Juice nails this:
What I’ve learned over the past few days is that both sides do it. Whether it’s a left-leaning writer using the phrase “curb-stomping” or an angry mob of conservatives actually performing a curb-stomping, whether it’s a liberal drawing a Hitler mustache on George W. Bush or a right-wing militia member blowing up a federal building, whether it’s two black guys in berets standing outside a polling station or a hundred years of Jim Crow laws. It’s all the same stuff and we should just admit it.
It feels like anytime something happens that's bad for conservatives, the media spends more time trying to find something similar on the Democratic side so they can play this game, rather than actually investigating what happened.

I'm not sure what it will take to stop this type of dishonesty, but it really has to change.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

They Are Who We Thought They Were

The Washington Post actually does some research on the teabaggers, comes to a stunning conclusion:
But a new Washington Post canvass of hundreds of local tea party groups reveals a different sort of organization, one that is not so much a movement as a disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings that do surprisingly little to engage in the political process.
Hey, Post? How about you tell the person who published the deluded (unedited) ramblings of a teabagger as front page news a few months back?

Oh yeah, and this:
The report released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People argues that Tea Party groups “have given platform to anti-Semites, racists and bigots,” and have attracted white nationalists looking for recruits.

“The Tea Party movement has unleashed a still inchoate political movement who are in their numerical majority, angry middle-class white people who believe their country, their nation, has been taken from them,” it says.

The study was written by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which is dedicated to examining and mobilizing against racist, anti-Semitic and far-right social movements. It analyzed what it calls six nationwide Tea Party networks at the core of the movement, and concludes that leaders of all but one — FreedomWorks, a libertarian group in Washington headed by Dick Armey, a former House Republican majority leader — have raised questions about the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
Yeah I know it came from the NAACP, which allows media organizations to make it a NAACP vs. Teabaggers story, rather than taking a closer look at any of the hundreds of documented examples they cite.

It would also be nice if either of these stunning new revelations were occasionally mentioned during all the fawning media attention they'll be getting in the run up to the election.

I'm not gonna hold my breath.

The Corporate Whore Caucus

Pro Publica's investigation breaks down the New Democrat coalition:
As Congress entered the final weeks of its struggle to overhaul regulation of Wall Street in May, several hundred friends and colleagues slipped out of Washington for a private weekend on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Most were lobbyists for large banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, and big-ticket trade groups. However, 28 were members of Congress, and 29 were legislative staffers, all part of a coalition of House Democrats with a business-friendly agenda.

The retreat was held in honor of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made their organization one of the most successful political money machines since the Republican K Street Project collapsed in 2007. In the past year and a half, New Democrats have pulled in more than $18 million in campaign contributions from their lobbyist fundraising network. The lobbyists, in turn, have mingled with lawmakers and their staffers at least 850 times during fundraising events and informal get-togethers.
The whole investigation is amazing and worth a read.

There's no question the Republicans are the worst, but the New Democrats and the Blue Dogs aren't very far behind. There's lots of work to be done, but driving these assholes out of the party is high on that list.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jaime Moreno - Thanks for the Memories

Tonight is Jaime Moreno's last game with DC United.

After 130 goals, over 100 assists, and 4 titles with The Black & Red, we say good-bye to a DC sports Legend.

Número 99, número uno en nuestros corazones

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hey, Let's Make Shit Up For David Brooks!

Things that make JJ's mind explode with rage: (via Ezra)
DAVID BROOKS, NYT: Yes. Well, I shouldn’t have confessed this. He said this to me off the record about a year ago. But it hasn’t…

JIM LEHRER: Off the record? So, then you can’t talk about it.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, because Peter Baker is a better journalist than I am, because I couldn’t get him to go on the record with that thing.

JIM LEHRER: He said this to you a year ago?

DAVID BROOKS: It was obvious. I mean, you are trying to build a stimulus package. And when they were trying to build it, believe me, they would have loved to have filled it with infrastructure jobs. But the projects just didn’t exist. They couldn’t do it. They couldn’t find them.
Ok, Barack. A few things:
  1. Shovel ready projects do exist.
  2. Infastructure projects do exist, like fucking hundreds of thousands of them.
  3. Not only do these projects exist, but they've been very successful in your own stimulus bill. 
  4. The actual reason people think the stimulus didn't work is because you wasted lots of money worthless on tax cuts because you though it would make the Republicans wuv you more.
  5. Apparently you think that whispering right wing talking points about the stimulus to David Brooks accomplishes something. I don't agree.
  6. Forget the echoing right wing talking points, why the fuck are you talking to David Brooks in the first place?
My brain hurts.

A Re-Endorsement Of Joe Sestak

In our primary endorsement we wrote this:
[Specter] fears for his job because Joe Sestak has balls of the size of grapefruits, and hasn't been intimidated by the calls/threats to drop out, even when they came from the President of the United States. For more information on the race, here's a Chris Bowers' endorsement, someone who has serious knowledge of Pennsylvania politics:
Sestak is an extraordinarily relentless campaigner--I have honestly never seen anyone better than him on this front. His constituent services are, from what I understand, possibly the best in the entire Congress. His biography and resume are difficult, if not impossible, to match. Further, he is significantly more progressive than Specter according to all voting scorecards. Also, despite the standing ovations in front of the party leadership, there was a stronger anti-Specter undercurrent at the state Democratic committee this weekend then I think most news reports are indicating. You are talking about hundreds of people who spent thirty years trying to defeat Specter, after all.
We defeated Specter and now we face Pat Toomey, the man who drove Arlen out of the Republican party. I'm sure Joe Sestak and I won't aggree on everything (who does?) during his time in the Senate, but he's already shown one thing that trumps almost anything. There are few characteristics more needed in the Senate's Democratic caucus that a willingness to stand up and fight for things you believe in. If Joe Sestak was willing to risk torpedoing his career in order to challenge Specter, something tells me it won't be the last time he takes a stand against powerful forces for something he believes in.

Donate to Joe through our Train Action Page!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: N.E.R.D.

A new album coming out next month...

and this song is produced by Daft Punk.

N.E.R.D. - Hypnotize You

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Doesn't Fucking Work

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this won't improve England's economy: (via atrios)
But the economist Joseph Stiglitz argued that the government’s plan was “a gamble with almost no potential upside” and would lead to lower growth, lower demand, lower tax revenues, a deterioration of skills among the unemployed and finally, an even higher national debt.

“We cannot afford austerity now,” he wrote in The Guardian. “Austerity converts downturns into recessions, recessions into depressions. The confidence fairy that the austerity advocates claim will appear almost never does, partly because the downturns mean that deficit reductions are always smaller than was hoped.”
Britain has been bracing for the cuts for months, after Mr. Osborne announced in June the details of the so-called spending review, but Wednesday’s announcemenet was the first time the government set out its plans, department by department.

Mr. Osborne said that 490,000 public sector jobs would be lost over the next four years, some to attrition. At the same time, payments to the long-term unemployed who fail to seek jobs would be cut, he said, saving $11 billion a year. Additionally, he said, a new 12-month limit would be imposed on long-term jobless benefits, and that measures would be taken to curb benefit fraud.
Why can I be so sure? Well, because as people much smarter than me have pointed out, austerity measure have NEVER actually improved the economy.


In the history of time.

Inexplicable! The story of the B53

Does it blow anyone else's mind that the most powerful weapon in the US arsenal is a holdover from the 1950s and therefore has almost no safety features whatsoever?

The B53 is a nine megaton bomb. That's 600 times more powerful than the bomb that completely destroyed Hiroshima, enough to deliver lethal burns to almost everything in a 1000 square mile area and spread radiation across an enormous swath of the planet. It is only now, twenty years after the end of the cold war, being dismantled – a process that will take years.

It was slated to be replaced by the ICBM-based W53 (a newer, safer weapon with the same 9-megaton yield) until a maintenance worker dropped a wrench into the silo of an Arkansas-based Titan II missile, causing it to explode and hurl the warhead all the way to the missile complex entrance gate. Because of this accident, the B53 was reassigned to active duty until 1997.

And I'm serious about it having virtually no safety features. It's not going to go off if you get it wet, or if its plane gets struck by lightning. But you know the launch codes that presidents use in the popular imagination to unlock and launch and then possibly to abort nuclear weapons? The codes that ensure that only the president can arm a nuke? In real life those are called a Permissive Action Link. SInce they were introduced during the Kennedy administration, the B53 doesn't have one.

The air force nicknamed the B53 "The Crowd Pleaser." Because they are horrifying like that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fearful Of Real Change

This is painful to read, but Krugman nails it:
In today’s report on the foreclosure mess, a revealing sentence:
As the foreclosure abuses have come to light, the Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook the banks and hobble the broader economy.
Surely this can serve as a generic statement:
As NAME ISSUE HERE has come to light, the Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook the banks and hobble the broader economy.
Stimulus, bank rescue, China, foreclosure; it applies all along. At each point there were arguments for not acting; but the cumulative effect has been drift, and a looming catastrophe in the midterms.
As Krugman has said a bunch of times, we'll never know what could have been if Obama had been more aggressive, but we do know this wasn't good enough.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ben Nelson Calls For Douche Summit


Even for Ben Nelson, this is incredibly stupid:
Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) traveled to the conservative Heritage Institute on Wednesday to make the case once again that Congress should pass a full extension of the Bush tax cuts, at least until the economy turns around.

This is nothing new, even if the setting for the declaration was a bit off for a Democrat. Nelson voted for the Bush tax cuts in the first place and has been a leading skeptic of President Obama's plan to extend them only for those earning less than $250,000.

What stood out in the address was how the Nebraska Democrat tried to carve out a role as a Democratic emissary to the conservative crowd. Nelson told the crowd, according to an advance copy of his remarks, that he had written Obama recently encouraging him to host a bipartisan, bicameral summit on taxes, spending and the deficit.

"I suggested holding a private discussion, free of posturing and playing to the cameras, perhaps at Camp David," Nelson said. "If that setting could lead to the Camp David accords, why not the Camp David agreements?"
If there's anything our country needs right now, it's a pretentious gathering where the Olympia Snowes and Joe Liebermans of the world can exchange tactics on how to be bigger assholes. Thanks Ben, you never disappoint.

It's Your Birthday

I was on the road so I didn't get to post this, but yesterday was JN's birthday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The continually embarrassing state of the Right

TRAGICALLY, C-SPAN has disabled embedding for this video. But if you've ever wanted to watch someone enact an extremely calm but deeply cutting revenge plot on an obviously unbearable ex-lover during a C-SPAN panel about conservatism organized by Jonah Goldberg, then, well, this is your chance.

The guy gets 10/10 for having the balls to follow through with the scheme, but there's a shadowy undercurrent below the otherwise unbelievably hilarious exchange: this, ladies and gentlemen, is the party that is poised to sweep into power during the upcoming elections, because... ?????!???!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spotlight: VLC

You probably have VLC. It's that traffic-cone-shaped program that plays absolutely any video you throw at it. No doubt you haven't even thought about it in the last few years, since it just does its job with fewer problems than just about any application ever built.


But if you have thought about it, the answers to all your question about this 21st century marvel are likely held in this article about VLC by some douchebag or other. In case you were particularly wondering about the traffic cone:

One drunken night, an École Centrale student stole a traffic cone and brought it back to the lab. The trend caught on, and soon an enormous collection had been stockpiled. It's easy to imagine that it became impossible to take video on campus without a traffic cone in the frame; but whatever the reasoning, when it came time to release VLC into the world, no other symbol had quite the same resonance as the by-now-ubiquitous cone.

"Both Sides" of Gay Teen Suicides

Thanks, Washington Post!
Via Pam's House Blend, I learn that the Washington Post's remarkably poor decision to post Tony Perkins's falsehood laden, anti-gay screed on their On Faith blog (on National Coming Out Day nonetheless) was because they felt they needed to "cover both sides" of "bullying and gay suicide." No, really, they're serious. Apparently they hosted a Live Q & A chat with Dan Savage to discuss "bullying and gay suicide" and his "It Gets Better Project," which is a You Tube channel Savage created in order to reach out to gay youths to prevent suicide. So, to balance Savage, the Post turned to Perkins to respond. Apparently to the Post, gay suicide is a two-sided issue.

GLAAD and the Washington Post had an exchange over Twitter, in which the Post responded to criticism over publishing Perkins' column, by saying, "[W]e're working to cover both sides. Earlier, we hosted Dan Savage of It Gets Better in a live chat." GLAAD rightly replied, "There are not 'both sides' to this issue. Teen suicide isn't a debate-it's a tragedy."

Need I remind you that Perkins's argument was that gay suicide, which often is prefaced by homophobic bullying, was caused not by the bullying, but because "homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression," and that the "homosexual movement and their allies" teach kids "that they are 'born gay' and can never change. This--and not society's disapproval--may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide."
Worst people in the world.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"We Are Open For Business"

Well, that was fun while it lasted:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration lifted its moratorium on deepwater drilling for oil and gas on Tuesday, after imposing new rules intended to prevent another disaster like the Gulf of Mexico rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history.

“We have made and continue to make significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater drilling,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the step. Therefore, he said, “I have decided that it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar that we have set.”

Though the administration’s decision takes effect immediately, it may be weeks or months before drilling operations resume, because companies will first have to submit new permit applications showing they have complied with the tougher rules, and have their rigs inspected. Officials said that they expect at least some of the idle drilling rigs in the gulf to be at work again by the end of the year.

“We are open for business,” Mr. Salazar said.

President Obama’s administration imposed the moratorium after the blowout of a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. The accident killed 11 men and led to the release of almost 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf before the leak was stopped.

The moratorium was due to run through Nov. 30, but the White House has come under intense pressure from the oil and gas industry and from elected officials and businesses in the gulf region to lift the ban early, because of the economic impact of about 30 drilling rigs that had been at work in the region.
I figured that not having the slightest clue about how to stop 5 million barrels of oil from exploding into our seas might make us rethink how we do this stuff.

Guess not!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nobel Aftershocks

Other people have said that the effects of Mr. Liu winning the Prize are likely going to build over time, and I'm inclined to agree. He probably won't be released in the upcoming weeks, no matter how many people and organizations call for it. But in emboldening other activists and in generally reshaping the Overton Window inside China, this award could end up being very important. The China Media Project has already gotten wind of one thing: a group of 23 "Party Elders" including "Mao Zedong’s former secretary Li Rui and former People’s Daily editor-in-chief Hu Jiwei" have written an open letter to the National People's Congress calling for a number of changes, including:

1. Abolish sponsoring institutions of [Chinese] media [NOTE: This is the controlling organization that exercises Party control over the media], allowing publishing institutions to independently operate; Truly implement a system in which directors and editors in chief are responsible for their publication units.

2. Respect journalists, and make them strong (尊重记者,树立记者). Journalists should be the “uncrowned kings.” The reporting of mass incidents and exposing of official corruption are noble missions on behalf of the people, and this work should be protected and supported. Immediately put a stop to the unconstitutional behavior of various local governments and police in arresting journalists.

4. The internet is an important discussion platform for information in our society and the voice of citizens’ views. Aside from information that truly concerns our national secrets and speech that violates a citizen’s right to privacy, internet regulatory bodies must not arbitrarily delete online posts and online comments. Online spies must be abolished, the “Fifty-cent Party” must be abolished, and restrictions on “tunneling/[anti-censorship]” technologies must be abolished.

5. There are no more taboos concerning our Party’s history. Chinese citizens have a right to know the errors of the ruling party.

Given that the NPC functions as a rubber-stamp institution for the Communist Party, this letter was likely intended to further stir up debate and to put their names on record for supporting reform, rather than an attempt to get the NPC to do something itself.

Meanwhile, major mainland newspaper Guangming Daily has written up a strongly supportive editorial calling Wen Jiabao a hero for his pro-reform stance. As EastSouthWestNorth notes before its translation of the piece, this same paper lambasted him just two weeks ago. This time, however:

Premier Wen Jiabao is a great hero for the Chinese people. He is a true man of today. For more than a month during this grim autumn, Wen Jiabao has shown unmatched courage to bring up the issue of political reform. On September 23, he was interviewed on CNN and he brought out these "earth-shaking" statements: "The desire and need of the people for democracy and freedom are unstoppable" and "No party, organization or persons have the privilege to bypass the constitution and the law. We must all act in accordance with the constitution. I believe that this is an important characteristic in contemporary political systems. Let me summarize my political ideas in four sentences: let the people live happily with dignity; let the people feel safe and assured; let society be filled with justice; let people be confident about the future." "Although there are various kinds of ideas in society and although there exists various kinds of obstacles, I will firmly and immovably carry out my ideas to the best of my ability. I will increase the pace of political reform. I want to use two phrases to express my determination: 'Wind and rain will be no obstacle, no rest until I die'." "The people and the power of the people will determine the future and the history of the nation. The hope and will of the people will not stop. Those who abide by it will flourish, those who oppose it will perish!"


A small number of people do not understand high-level politics. They accuse the virtually isolated Premier of being "all show and no action." They don't understand that Wen Jiabao is just one person out of nine (note: in the Politburo). One vote out of nine votes is insignificant. His decisions are only made in the economic realm. He cannot eliminate the system of labor reform or release some prisoner or the other. Besides, when politicians talk, they are already doing things. A call to social mobilization is more powerful and valuable than doing one or two specific things.


Perhaps Wen Jiabao is the least powerful government official in China and many people are happy to see him being so beleaguered. But the majority of the Chinese people will support the people's hero -- Premier Wen!

The reality of the Chinese government is that its monolithic facade conceals a number of divisions. Guangming Daily writes this column in support of Wen's CNN interview, while at the same time the censorship offices continue to delete any posts referring to it. These ripples on the surface are indicative of ongoing debates within the Party, which has struggled to maintain a unified public front since Tiananmen. In reality, different factions have been fighting over different policies for some time, and I think it's safe to say that these fights have been escalating recently. Hopefully the right people will come out on top for a change.

Not Everyone Is Suffering

Just a reminder:
The WSJ did a survey of "Wall Street," meaning the top three dozen or so banks and investment firms. Behold those numbers!

Total projected Wall Street revenue, 2010: $448 billion (up 3%)
Total projected Wall Street pay, 2010: $144 billion (up 4%)
In other words, Wall Street pay this year will be more than the gross domestic product of New Zealand.
Keep this in mind when it seems like a lot of our policy making elites don't have a sense of urgency in fixing the economy.

Why would they be concerned? There isn't much wrong in their world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rich Iott Has Interesting Hobbies

Even in the teabagger era, this is impressive:
The Atlantic's Josh Green reports that millionaire businessman Rich Iott, the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in Ohio's Ninth District, has an unusual hobby: He likes to pretend he's a Nazi.

Iott, a tea party-backed candidate, spent time fighting another battle before he hit the campaign trail against Kaptur as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a group of Ohio World War II reenactors.

According to their website, the Wikings strive to "salute" the "idealists" from occupied northern Europe who saw the Third Reich as "the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life" and signed up to fight for the Wermacht and "gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free."
You'd think someone with hobbies like that wouldn't go into public life... but I guess you can't predict the behavior of people who dress up like Nazis on weekends, can you?


For all you Tim and Eric fans out there, here's another duo with strongly absurd comedy stylings:

My favorite:

and my second favorite:

They Didn't Try

But if they won’t say it, I will: if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried.
But Obama didn't want to try it because that would be socialism or something.
In the only other economic situation comparable to this, we tried it, and it worked.

It might be a good idea to try it again. We now have close to 10% unemployment, and the administration seems to have attempted one approach and is now out of ideas.

Oh yeah, and something the administration should remember for the future: You could build a statue of Milton Friedman fucking Ayn Rand on the White House lawn and the Republicans would still call you a socialist. They don't care. They really don't.

North Korea Celebrates

Video is old, but I'm sure it's an accurate depiction of the festivities for the transition of power:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem: Drunk Girls

It's not my favorite song of theirs, but the video is fucking insane.

Liu Wins!

This makes up for the choice they made last year.  Liu is pretty clearly Peace Prize material- check out the document that got him imprisoned here.  Anyway-  I'm going to spend a few hours imagining how angry those jerks in Beijing must be.

Train of Thought Local Sports Throwback Theatre – YOU THE MAN!!

To commemorate the possible return of the “Bullets” name to our local NBA Franchise, I bring you all this fine video:


Anyone catch Brandon Witt, Olaf Kolzig, and IMMATURE in the video?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The War On Trains

Ugh... apparently this is going to be a thing now: (via atrios)
TRENTON — Two senior officials say Gov. Chris Christie today will kill the controversial $8.7 billion Hudson River rail tunnel project, which he says the state cannot afford to build.
. . .
The tunnel, the largest public works project in the U.S., was to double train capacity between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan when it was completed by the end of 2018.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been trying to keep the tunnel project on track, has called a rebuttal news conference for 3 p.m. outside Newark Penn Station, anticipating the cancellation by the governor.

Memo from ARC Project Executive Committee:
“Canceling the tunnel project is not just bad transportation policy – it’s bad fiscal policy,” Lautenberg said in a statement earlier today.
These people are such idiots.

Update: Krugman has more on the economics:
The usual suspects on the comment board are, inevitably, arguing that rail transit should pay for itself. The obvious response is that road transit doesn’t; why should only public transit have to self-finance, when private vehicles generally drive on free roads built and maintained out of taxes?

But in a way that misses the larger point: urban transportation is an area in which we know that market prices bear very little relationship to true social costs. Even if you ignore environmental impacts and the national security implications of oil imports, the fact is that driving in an urban area, especially in rush hour, imposes huge congestion externalities on other people. And I mean huge: Felix Salmon had a nice piece last year putting the external cost you impose on other people by driving into lower Manhattan at $160 a day. (I can’t find the reference, but Dave Barry once had an “ask Mr. Question Authority” about how long it takes to drive across Manhattan during rush hour. The answer was that nobody has ever succeeded in driving across Manhattan during rush hour.)

Now, Econ 101 says that the first-best answer to these externalities is to make people pay these social costs; if we did, New Jersey Transit could charge much higher fares! But since that isn’t going to happen — at best, we may someday get a modest congestion charge — we’re into second-best territory.

And rail transit takes people off the roads, thereby yielding a large benefit that doesn’t show in NJT’s books.
Right around the start of the Obama's presidency I went to a talk where a Steelworkers official stood at a podium next to someone from the chamber of commerce, both in agreement about how everyone benefits from improvements to our infrastructure.

These people don't have a method to their madness, they're just know-nothing shitheads, who will blindly destroy any good idea in their way and claim they did it on principle afterwords. It's really fucking depressing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rewarding Bad Behavior

Hey, I got to use that picture again!:
"If I lived in Chicago, I would vote for him for mayor," said Gerald McEntee, president of giant public workers union AFSCME.
. . .
McEntee clashed with Emanuel over elements of health care legislation and has at times been a critic of the Obama administration from the left. But while many in his wing of the party remain bitter at Emanuel — and plan to campaign against him in the Chicago mayor's race — McEntee said that Emanuel's record was, on balance "for progressive forces and ideas."

"We’ve had our ups and downs but mostly ups," he said. "We've also had some downs, over health care in particular. But what's over is over."

"When he was in the House he was an excellent vote for progressive forces," McEntee said. "He had a role to play in the White House. When he could, within that role, he was for progressive ideas and forces."

Asked for a message about Rahm to skeptical allies on the left, McEntee echoed Joe Biden: "Suck it up."
David Sirota:
Rahm Emanuel was the chief legislative proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement under President Clinton. As an investment banker, he publicly campaigned on the pages of the Wall Street Journal to give China Most Favored Nation Status. Under President Obama, he was the chief architect of the deal that coddled insurance and drug companies by negotiating away the public option - a public option that union leaders said was crucial for their support of health care legislation.
. . .
That it comes from a political actor as amoral as McEntee is no surprise. Remember, while McEntee is paid by workers' hard-earned wages to jealously champion those workers' agenda regardless of party, McEntee made headlines in 2007 telling Democratic congressional leaders that he would personally crush labor-oriented groups looking to exert pressure on Democratic legislators:
"I'm the sheriff of the incumbent-protection program, and if you need help, let me know. In Blue America, there's no room for PACs to chase vulnerable members they have differences with."
So with McEntee, this is certainly par for the course. And while Politico notes that his personal endorsement is not an official endorsement by AFSCME, the announcement goes a long way to further highlighting how progressives outside of Washington have been undermined by those purporting to act in their name inside of Washington.
Nothing like rewarding those who worked their asses of to stop your agenda.

If unions make it clear that even people like Rahm can get their support, why would any Democrat try to push their priorities?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wen Calls Again for Political Reform

Third time in the last few months, this time during an interview with CNN:
In a rare interview, aired on CNN on Sunday, Mr Wen said: "I believe I and all the Chinese people have such conviction that China will make continuous progress and the people's wishes and need for democracy and freedom are irresistible. I hope you will be able to gradually see the continuous progress of China."

Premier Wen also said he has faced “resistance” from sections of the Chinese leadership in taking forward political reforms in China, for the first time indicating that there was a split between leaders of the Communist Party over the sensitive question.

He said freedom of speech was “indispensable” for any country, and warned the next generation of leadership, which takes over from him and President Hu Jintao in 2012, that those who went against “the will of the people” would “fail.”

The Tyranny of High Speed Rail

We really are dealing with biggest douche bags in the history of the universe: (via john cole)
In his State of the Union address this year, the president called for buildinghigh-speed rail, and backed up his words with $8 billion in stimulus money, distributed to various states, for rail projects.

But Republican candidates for governor in some of the states that won the biggest stimulus rail awards are reaching for the emergency brake.

In Wisconsin, which got more than $810 million in federal stimulus money to build a train line between Milwaukee and Madison, Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive and Republican candidate for governor, has made his opposition to the project central to his campaign.

Mr. Walker, who worries that the state could be required to spend $7 million to $10 million a year to operate the trains once the line is built, started a Web site,, and has run a television advertisement in which he calls the rail project a boondoggle. “I’m Scott Walker,” he says in the advertisement, “and if I’m elected as your next governor, we’ll stop this train.”
You could say that worrying about paying the maintenance costs of an economy expanding high speed train line that HE'S GETTING FOR FREE is the dumbest part, but it's not even that's the real reason. Since "" is nothing but donate button and a place where you can "Say no to Obama" by giving them your email address, I'm guessing this is just another way to convince the idiots in your base that you too can stand up to Obama's Gay Train Marxism by giving Republicans more money.

Of all the stupid shit you see, I honestly never thought I'd see people campaigning against high speed rail... but here we are.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Kanye West

This performance on SNL... Jesus

Epic Starcraft II Replays

Chances are, if you're reading this, you at least know what Starcraft is. In fact, chances are you've wasted hundreds of thousands of hours playing this king of games, and know the precise difference in dps between sieged and unsieged siege tanks. But just in case you aren't in on the awesomeness:

•Starcraft supports thousands of professional players worldwide. And yes, by professional players I mean people who get paid (often handsomely) to do nothing but be among the best in the world at a computer game. How do they get paid? This is an aerial photo of a tournament, presumably in South Korea where the game is all but a national sport:

•Remember that snipe about something being as boring as watching someone else play a video game? That's really not true about Starcraft. Spectators exist because the game is fast-paced, impeccably balanced, and a blank canvas for creative strategic thinking. Tradition aside, Starcraft matches are generally way more fun to watch than, for example, baseball games.

•How fast is fast paced? Top players – particularly in Korea, where high apm is socially prized – frequently top 300 actions per minute within the game. That's five actions a second. Can you even click your mouse five times in a second? I didn't think so.

•I should note that Starcraft came out in 1998, and was still being played by hundreds of thousands of people when its sequel came out this year. This sequel, Starcraft II, took twelve years to release – and you will never, ever hear anyone complain about the fact that it really isn't all that different from the original.

So enough synopsis. Here are some super-epic pro or semipro replays, commentated by my two favorite professional Starcraft commentators. Yep, there are professional Starcraft commentators.

1. Here is possibly my favorite replay to date, basically the definition of a knock-down, drag-out fight between Zerg and Terran (two of the three races you can play – the third being Protoss). Both players hammer each other as hard as they can all game, with lots of back-and-forth control of the map and hard counters to advanced, powerful units.

2. Here's a quick Protoss vs. Zerg game that showcases a whole series of brilliant wall-off moves by the Protoss player.

3. And here's a recent free-for-all (where more than two players duke it out with no set alliances) played by members of Team Liquid, a pro Starcraft team.

For more from Husky and HD, check out their website (Starcraft Arena) or subscribe to their YouTube channels.

They Don't Like Taxing The Rich In Kentucky

The plan was to endorse Jack Conway as the next Train Action candidate. Maybe not:
No matter who Kentuckians elect to the Senate this fall, they're going to get an advocate for extending all the Bush tax cuts -- and not just those for the middle class. In their first (and likely only) nationally-televised debate of the race, Republican nominee Rand Paul and Democratic nominee Jack Conway disagreed on just about everything -- except for extending billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at a time when government is struggling to shrink the deficit.

"I think that raising taxes -- we shouldn't be doing it in a time of recession," Conway said. "Listen, in 2002, when I was running for the United States Congress, I was for the Bush tax cuts then. I was one of the few Democrats that was for them and I think now we just ought to extend them."

So fucking stupid.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Roadmap Towards Hiding Your Actual Plan

Shorter Paul Ryan: "Don't tell them what we're actually going to do!" (ThinkProgress via Digby)
When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his radical Roadmap for America’s Future — which he claims will balance the budget via privatizing Social Security and Medicare — Republican leadership quickly ran away from it, emphasizing that it was Ryan’s personal plan and not the official GOP platform. Now, it seems, Ryan doesn’t want anyone else scrutinizing his plan at all.
During an appearance at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Ryan criticized Democrats for “the political weaponization” of Social Security, and asked candidates on the campaign trail to please stop attacking Republican plans to gut entitlements. Politico reported:
“We’ve got to get through this political moment. The political weaponization of entitlement reform is very unfortunate. It’s hurting our chances of actually getting bipartisan agreement in the near future. It’s unfortunate but we’ve got to get out there.” Though he called for candidates to stop talking about entitlement reform on the campaign trail, Ryan also cast his Roadmap in a soft light to deflect criticism that it will hurt seniors. He reminded the audience that his plan doesn’t affect those over 55.
Of course, Ryan’s plan would radically alter Social Security, to the detriment of the program, which is something that needs to be talked about. Remember, under the Roadmap, Social Security would be privatized through the creation of personal investment accounts and benefits for future retirees would be cut, all without setting the program on a path for solvency:
The Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits — roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone — and initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency. Because the plan would divert large sums from Social Security to private accounts, it would leave the program facing insolvency in about 30 years, just as under current law. The plan would avoid insolvency by transferring $1.2 trillion from the rest of the budget to Social Security between 2037 and 2056.
Ryan’s Roadmap would also end Medicare as we know it, creating a voucher that won’t keep up with the cost of health care.

Never Been To Dallas

So, so true. (via Sports Bog)