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    • Here was my neighborhood last night
      Because the family of a mentally ill Philadelphia man holding a knife called for an ambulance, and the cops showed up. They claim he “charged” them and they shot and killed him. The mental health unit is a pilot program and isn’t paid to work on the weekends. Protesters didn’t do this, looters did. (Maybe … Continue reading Here was my neighborhood last nigh […]
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    • Interview Part 2: Politics Thru Climate Change
      This second excerpt from my interview is more interesting and longer. This is the second clip from my interview with Ian Welsh (Ian blogs at ianwelsh.net). For this segment, we went on a wild ride discussing the big picture mess that is US politics and society more broadly. I asked Ian what might happen if […]
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I’m Not Worthy, I’m Not Worthy!

James Wolcott skewers some of our former friends and blogmates in one of the most merciless pieces of snark I’ve read in a long time.  Teacherken gets a starring role.  It’s like watching a trainwreck, it’s fascinating and horrifying at the same time.

Just read it:  The Sorrow and the Pity Party

Teach me, Master!

The Latest on MI and FL: Obama digs deeper

green-eggs-and-ham.gifReaders may remember that on Wednesday, well before Mark Schmitt got the credit (*sigh*, so typical. The guy always gets the credit), The Confluence presented the plan to seat the MI and FL delegates in Look, It’s Very Simple. (There was a followup with A Modest Proposal) The plan was, have both candidates agree to waive the rules and seat the Florida delegates or have the holdout pay for a mail-in primary. For Michigan, the current results would be thrown out, because not all candidate names were on the ballot, and a mail-in primary would be conducted. This was a win-win for both candidates. Hillary gets her delegates, the voters of CA, NY, NJ, OH, TX etc, get their critical mass, Floridians get their votes counted and since Barry will not win Florida anyway, he gets their good will in the unlikely event that he is the nominee. In Michigan, Hillary gets the goodwill of Edwards and Obama supporters by requesting a re-do and Barry has an opportunity to win this state legitimately through a primary, not a caucus.

But it seems that Barry is a little hesitant about this. No doubt, the angel on his left shoulder, Donna Brazile, is urging him to let the RULZ dictate and Howard Dean, who has forgotten his role as the head of the Democratic National Committee, is dithering as well in order to continue his experimentation with the 50 State Strategy. (Um, Howard, that would mean that Obama would have to win at least *some* of those big, Democratic states, like MINE.)

Well, it isn’t looking good for Barry. Passing up his chance to be magnanimous and to unite the voters in November, Barry has decided to go with the self-interest of having the perception of an artificially inflated vote count. James Carville spoke on Clinton’s behalf yesterday and went one further. If Obama insists on a re-do in Florida, thereby becoming the only candidate in primary history to lose the same state twice, Hillary has backers who would offer to foot the bill up to $15M. It’s a little like Sam-I-Am, chasing the hapless seussian around with a plate of Green Eggs and Ham. “Would you eat them on a train, would you eat them on a plane? Would you eat them here or there? Would you eat them anywhere?” So far, Obama is resisting with “Sam, let me be!”

He doesn’t want to be VP. He doesn’t want want to waive the RULZ. He’d rather piss off the voters in Florida. And I’ve heard that there is a new twist to this. Apparently, Gov. Crist in Florida can decertify the Democratic party in Florida if its delegates aren’t seated and the name of our nominee can be left off the ballot in November. (Thanks Boston Boomer for the reference) Obama’s in a tight spot alright. Too bad he isn’t listening to the better angels of his nature and taking the sure thing, even if it results in what could be a temporary loss of frontrunner status. Under these circumstances, it would be stupid for Carville and buddies to not milk the story of Obama, The Great Disenfranchiser, for all it’s worth.

With political acumen like this, he’d be a lousy president.

As the Worm Turns…

I rely on two very busy Confluentians, MABlue and ghost2, to point me to the current media narratives. Today, these two have a goldmine of linky goodness. From the comments, MABlue gives us:

Even with the likes of Pumpkin head polluting the media landscape, there is still some glimmer of hope.

Don’t give up on the US press… Yet:

Here Howard Kurtz exposes the fraudulent narrative about VILE Hillary going negative against poor choir boy Barack:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030701158.html

Don’t give up on the US press… Yet:

Here Jon Last from the Philadelphia Enquirer explains in clear terms what every sober person should know by now: Hillary Clinton is by far the strongest GE candidate due to the quality of her coalition and her primary victories:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20080309_One_Last_Thing_.html

Don’t give up on the US press… Yet

Here Bill Maxwell from St Pete Time add his 2c to the outrageous coverage against Hillary Clinton:
http://www.sptimes.com/2008/03/09/Opinion/Media_tainted_by_anti.shtml

And ghost2 adds:

Check out this issue of Newsweek. It’s good. Lots of Hillary.

Tina Brown: http://www.newsweek.com/id/120064

Press and Hillary: http://www.newsweek.com/id/120068

and Anna Quindlen:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/120049

Thanks, guys, I hear your pleas for an Open Thread. Would either or both of you like to be contributors in charge of that? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll send an invite if you haven’t already received one.

Now, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade and I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but I would urge a note of caution with regard to any attempts by the press to actually, um, do their jobs and report the truth. Remember, the media is not our friend. It has an interest in keeping the horserace nice and tight and in generating revenue. We suspect that the Villagers, and Kurtz and Quindlen fall into that category, have an interest in keeping their Republican friends and neighbors employed in office. So, please treat these articles with a grain of salt. We might be able to exploit them for our own purposes but we must never rely on them to be our friends. Nah, Gah, hap

Now, here’s my ownlink du jour.  Anglachel nails it again in Unpopular Votes and Obama’s Legitimacy Crisis

One more thing: I’d like to give a shout out to the Democratic faithful at Corrente, some of whom are former Edward’s supporters and kindred spirits. One of my favorite pieces from Lambert at Corrente just before primary season got underway, Obama Stump Speech Strategy of Conciliation Considered Harmful, should be read far and wide. Give them some hits if you’re bored with the “same old, same old”. You won’t regret it.

This is an open thread

Sunday- Spring Forward!

I overslept this morning and it felt so good. Last night was a logistical nightmare getting home from Manhattan. The train system in NJ was designed by Berlin Wall escapees from East Germany. All trains from the burbs are routed to centralized collection centers and then funneled from Newark into Manhattan’s Penn Station. That’s because some genius back in the 60’s allowed the decentralized commuter rail system, the Central New Jersey Rail Road, to go bankrupt. The tracks are still there and are owned by conrail but they aren’t being used. No, instead we drive half an hour from the house to one of the NJ Transit stations to catch the train. Even the closest stations put me an hour and a half from Manhattan (on a good day) even though it’s only 36 miles from my house. I don’t drive directly to Manhattan because only cab drivers who never graduated past the “I am young and immortal” stage can navigate the streets without permanent mental damage.

So, I split the difference. I drive directly to Newark’s central collection train station that most NJ Transit trains go thru and take the PATH train. The PATH train is a small commuter rail train that goes from Newark to Manhattan and terminates at the World Trade Center (WTC) on weekends. On the weekdays, it takes you further up 7th avenue to around Penn Station. This is more convenient for me because I can drive most of the way, park my car in Newark in a safe lot near the train station for a mere $8 buckaroos for the whole day, fill my Metro card with $10 worth of rides (that’s 6 rides) and the adolescent, “Brook” and I share the Metro card between us. It’s perfect.

Except yesterday, it wasn’t. The rain was coming down really hard on the trip to Newark on Rt 78, a nice big highway. Ususally, the traffic moves at s nice clip on the weekends. We would have been in Newark in about half an hour. But the rain really slowed us down. We jumped on the PATH train with about 45 minutes to spare to make our 2:00 matinee for Curtains (highly recommended. David Hyde Pierce is a riot). But the PATH train got stuck in a tunnel underneaath the WTC, which already tends to give me the willies. We sat on the train for about 10 minutes with no particular explanation for what was holding us up. I got out of the WTC station at 1:45 and grabbed a cab. It was pouring rain and we had to get about 60 blocks to the theatre. The BFF was texting me frantically on the phone. He ended up leaving the tix at willcall. In fact, 45th street, where the theatre is located, was jammed. We sat in the cab a for a few minutes while the heavens opened up and the cab itself was in gridlock. From inside the taxi, we could see the theatre and with no time left, Brook and I got out of the cab and made a run for it. We got into the theatre after the overture, soaked to the skin and waited at the back of the theatre for a break between scenes to be seated.

On the way back, we hit a different set of problems. We exited the restaurant and the BFF walked us to 7th avenue where we coud catch the subway to the WTC and pick up the PATH to Newark from there. HE gets to go to Grand Central and takes Metro North home. HIS trip is blissfully uncomplicated. Ours is, um, different.

We get on the 1 line going to the WTC except that it actually stops at the Chambers street station about 4 blocks from the WTC and we have to walk the rest of the way. Don’t ask me why this is. The line clearly shows it going all the way to WTC but it never actually does. But last night, they decided to surprise us. At 14th street, the conductor announced it wasn’t even going to Chambers street. Nope, it was ending right here. Everyone off and find the 2 line. So we fumbled around in the grimy, poorly signed station for the 2 and took it to Chambers street, then hoofed it to the WTC. It’s spooky inside the WTC station. The station is right over the Pit and as you pass through it, you can see the huge eerie void and construction equipment working away by the light of some high powered spotlights. People pass through it silently as if to not disturb the dead any further. Personally, I don’t know how people in office buildings will ever be able to work there normally, but I digress.

So, we find the PATH tracks. Now, here’s where those East Germans display their brilliance. It turns out that after 7:00pm, you can’t go directly back to Newark from the WTC. No, first you must go to Hoboken. But, you say, you left your car in Newark. This is correct. So, after the PATH goes to Hoboken, it turns around and reverses itself partway and finally ends up in Newark. It roughly doubles the travel time but whatever. Sigh. We get on the PATH train, standing because there’s not a seat to be had, and wait a few minutes. Then a voice crackles over the loud speaker, “Due to weather conditions, there is a signalling problem on the PATH train tracks. Everyone off the train and find alternate means of transportation to Newark and Hoboken”. WTF?!! Now, what? Well, there’s only one way to catch a train to Newark and the car: NJ Transit. And the only way to get to NJ transit is to schlepp back to the Chambers street station and take the 1,2,3 back to Penn Station at 34th street.

Twenty minutes later, we’re at Penn Station at the NJ Transit hub. And here is a new twist on the commute strategy. Because we get to the station at 9:30pm but the East Germans have set it up that the Northeast Corridor line that we need to take will leave Penn on the hour and 14 minutes after. Brilliant. So now we have to wait half an hour to catch the NE Corridor train and the NJ Transit collection area, although nicely refurbished, is already filled with Jersey commuters. There’s not a chair to be had. People are sprawled on the floor and on the stairways. And it’s early. Brook and I find a couple unoccupied stairs and make ourselves comfortable. 25 minutes later, the collection area is literally packed to capacity as NJ commuters filter in from all over the city, many of them refugees from the PATH train, like us. We all stare up at the track sign waiting for the assignment. And this part is crucial, because when the track is assigned, you don’t want to be at the back of the line. Finally, the track assignment goes up and there is a mad, frantic dash for the one person escalator to track 10. It’s really insane. It looks like something from Tokyo with this mass of humanity, hundreds and hundreds of very annoyed New Jerseyans pushing and shoving one another down the escalator to the track and sprinting for the nearest open car. Everyone is desperately looking for a car where they won’t have to stand. Brook and I walk forward a long way before we find a seat. Twenty minutes later we are in Newark and 35 minutes after that, we are home. The whole trip from the restaurant to home took about 3 hours.

Is this any way to run a railroad???

Sorry I went on like that but I happen to be a big fan of mass transit. My grandfather was a Pittsburgh PAT bus driver. I stick to mass transit when I go to Europe on business trips and I love the efficiency of the Paris METRO-RER system. Last time I visited France, I only took a taxi once in the whole week and I visited two company sites, one in Paris and one in Toulouse. It was bliss. The trains run frequently, the stations are clean and the signs, even in French, are easy to figure out and plentiful. We have BADLY ignored our mass transit infrastructure in this country. it’s almost criminal. With oil at its peak, we have to get our act together on mass transit and from what I’m hearing coming out of NYC with “congestion pricing” and ignoring the defunct Central New Jersey Railroad (with Conrail owned tracks still in place *hint, hint*) in favor of digging a new expensive tunnel underneath the harbor, we are dangerously misguided in our attempts to get ahold of this problem. I hope that when Hillary is elected that she puts someone who’s spent some time in France in charge of the Department of Transportation because these East German dudes are going to be the death of us.

In other news:

NBC’s Tim Russert breathlessly exclaims that Obama won Wyoming!!! He WON it! He gains 2 delegates over Clinton. Why won’t The Monster concede already?

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.