Saturday, August 16, 2008
Public criticism over the ticket policy has sent church officials scrambling to explain itself as the big day approaches — although many would-be attendees remain unsatisfied by their explanation.
Church officials said they'd hoped to have some tickets available for the public but ran out when they couldn't satisfy demand among church members, who got the first crack at tickets that sold for $500 to $2,000.
Church officials said they decided to charge admission for people who wanted a chance to see the Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls because of the expenses to stage the event and provide television feeds to a host of networks.
On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The audience seemed skeptical, even dismissive. As Roubini stepped down from the lectern after his talk, the moderator of the event quipped, “I think perhaps we will need a stiff drink after that.” People laughed — and not without reason. At the time, unemployment and inflation remained low, and the economy, while weak, was still growing, despite rising oil prices and a softening housing market. And then there was the espouser of doom himself: Roubini was known to be a perpetual pessimist, what economists call a “permabear.” When the economist Anirvan Banerji delivered his response to Roubini’s talk, he noted that Roubini’s predictions did not make use of mathematical models and dismissed his hunches as those of a career naysayer.
Friday, August 15, 2008
New information filed late Thursday by federal prosecutors says Sen. Ted Stevens made more than $100,000 in profit off a Florida real estate deal after a friend secretly loaned him $31,000 interest-free to buy a condominium.
The condo deal came to light in a motion describing what sort of evidence federal prosecutors plan to introduce in their case against him.
There's a lot of this nonsense floating around today by pampered commentators who want to find a new world historical conflict to write bracing commentary about before we're done with the one from last week.
This tendency of people to link themselves to events which they have nothing to do with is pretty weird, along with their desire to not clean up the last 5 messes they made.
Go read a novel or something. That can be exciting too!
With young motorists losing their driver's licenses like never before under a tougher state law targeting teen speeders, state hearing officers are increasingly overwhelmed with desperate youths pleading to keep their licenses.
The emphasis of the article is how nasty and rude those bad teenagers get when their licenses are taken away. But being a teen in many places without a license really sucks. A bit later the article finally gets at the actual issue:
It is a message most people do not want to hear. "There's hostility in this office," said Brownell, "from children and adults." They complain about the new junior operator penalties. They contend that the $500 reinstatement fee is too stiff and the suspension harsh. Living without a license, especially in the suburbs, leaves youths stranded, said student James Dexter, 18, whose license has not been suspended.
"Kids have to work," said Dexter, who will be a senior at Danvers High School this fall. "It's just wrong. They should be able to do that. They should be able to give you a warning first."
I have no opinion about whether licenses should be suspended after one speeding ticket, but I do think more families should consider what it means to have their kids grow up in a place where their mobility is severely limited unless they have a license.
I suppose this is a pretty good strategy for pretending the last 8 years didn't happen. Fred Hiatt will probably play along, too.
WASHINGTON — President Bush Wednesday promised that U.S. naval forces would deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn Georgia before his administration had received approval from Turkey, which controls naval access to the Black Sea, or the Pentagon had planned a seaborne operation, U.S. officials said Thursday.
As of late Thursday, Ankara, a NATO ally, hadn't cleared any U.S. naval vessels to steam to Georgia through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, the narrow straits that connect the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, the officials said. Under the 1936 Montreaux Convention, countries must notify Turkey before sending warships through the straits.
Pentagon officials told McClatchy that they were increasingly dubious that any U.S. Navy vessels would join the aid operation, in large part because the U.S.-based hospital ships likely to go, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, would take weeks to arrive.
"The president was writing checks to the Georgians without knowing what he had in the bank," said a senior administration official.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Singer, songwriter, liberal activist and now John McCain scourge Jackson Browne filed a lawsuit today against the presumptive GOP nominee and the Republican Party for failing to obtain a license to use one of his songs in a television commercial.
The song, "Running on Empty," has been used by the Republican Party apparently against Browne's approval. The music icon also claims that in doing so, the false perception is created that he is endorsing McCain's candidacy.
Philly trolley map. Green and light green still run. Red ones suspended in 1992. Blue ones killed in the 80s. Black are the two subway/El lines, and the yellow and pink are high speed trolley-like vehicles.
...for comparison, a 1932 trolley map.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Traffic deaths in the United States declined last year, reaching the lowest level in more than a decade, the government reported Thursday.
Some 41,059 people were killed in highway crashes, down by more than 1,600 from 2006. It was the fewest number of highway deaths in a year since 1994, when 40,716 people were killed.
So where does that leave Irvine's housing market? Without Alt-A, people will not be able to get the loans necessary to support today's still-inflated prices. Buyers will actually need to qualify for loans based on their real income, and they don't make that much money. And since many previously Alt-A borrowers have defaulted and are now Subprime, and since Subprime is currently defunct, the buyer pool in Irvine has gotten much, much smaller.
Once it became clear that the housing bubble had been largely fueled by giving loans to people who couldn't afford them, it was obvious that home prices in many areas and price ranges were going to fall. A lot. Not enough people make nearly enough money to afford them.
The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell by 10,000 last week but remained at levels that show labor markets under severe strain.
The Labor Department said on Thursday initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits dipped to a seasonally adjusted 450,000 in the week ended Aug. 9 from an upwardly revised 460,000 in the prior week. That was still well above the 432,000 claims level that economists polled by Reuters had forecast.
In addition, the number of people remaining in the benefits roll after drawing an initial week of aid shot up by 114,000 to 3.42 million in the week ended Aug. 2 , the most recent week for which the data is available. That was the highest level for continued claims since November 2003.
More frequent buses. Late-night trains. Better weekend service.
That's what SEPTA promises in the next few weeks and months as it launches what it calls its most ambitious service expansion ever.
After decades of cuts, SEPTA will announce today a $10 million project aimed at easing overcrowding and improving daily service. The first of the 65 upgrades will begin Aug. 25, and all of the changes are to be made by Nov. 3.
The changes will include bigger buses on busy Route 14 along Roosevelt Boulevard between Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County, more frequent service on Route 23 between Chestnut Hill and South Philadelphia, and after-midnight trains on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale, R6 Norristown, and R7 Trenton Regional Rail lines.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans scaled back their driving during June by almost 5 percent in response to soaring fuel costs, the government said on Wednesday -- a day after announcing the biggest six-month drop in U.S. petroleum demand in 26 years.
The Transportation Department said U.S. motorists drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June compared to a year earlier, marking the eight month in a row that travel declined in the face of record gas prices as Americans change their driving habits, buy more fuel-efficient cars and switch to public transport.
Things were different back then, in ways which are hard to explain or even comprehend now.
"You're right," Pelosi said. "Joe Lieberman has said things that are totally irresponsible when it comes to Barack Obama. Here we have a leader for the future, really a great leader for the future and one that comes along only every now and then, and they know it so they have to undermine him. And one of their best weapons, of course, is someone who is considered by some to be a Democrat."
Pelosi bluntly explained that Senate Democrats are leery of challenging Lieberman because his vote is crucial to maintaining the Democrats' 51-49 majority in the Senate. But she warned that Lieberman's top spot on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee could be in jeopardy next year if the Democrats gain seats in the Senate in November.
"The Democrats in the Senate are in a tough spot. They have 51 votes. Joe Lieberman organizes with them," she said. "In 85 days or something, they will have five more Democrats they won't need him to make the majority. And it will be interesting to see what the leadership in the Senate, the Democratic leadership in the Senate, does at that point in terms of Joe Lieberman's chairmanship of his committee."
Actual Evan Bayh:
You just hope that we haven't soured an entire generation on the necessity, from time to time, of using force because Iraq has been such a debacle. That would be tragic, because Iran is a grave threat. They're everything we thought Iraq was but wasn't.
CNN Recruits Key Political Experts for Campaign Coverage
Brody, Castellanos, Milbank, Rosen, Wall Span Spectrum of
Politics for CNN Analysis, Commentary U.S.
Building upon its winning coverage of the
The contributors, who will appear across CNN’s numerous platforms in the coming days, include:
· David Brody, senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years, Brody writes the political blog, “The Brody File.”
· Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and former campaign consultant for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Castellanos is a partner in National Media Inc., a political and corporate consulting firm.
· Dana Milbank, a Washington Post staff writer and author of the thrice-weekly “Washington Sketch” column. A veteran of political coverage, he has also worked for The New Republic and The Wall Street Journal, and his latest book is Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes That Run Our Government.
· Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and currently the political director and Washington editor-at-large for HuffingtonPost.com. In a previous role, she was chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.
· Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor and columnist for The Washington Times. Previously, she served as director of the office of public affairs at the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as director of outreach communications for the Republican National Committee.
"She's a bit of a fool that's the only thing you can say," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie. " Don't forget Cokie Roberts and the whole Washington crowd live in a kind of an incestuous relationship to one another, they talk to one another, they see one another, they know nothing about ordinary people."
July was another month of weak sales at retail outlets, adding to evidence that the spending power of American consumers has weakened considerably, despite help from the government’s tax stimulus program.
Retail sales declined 0.1 percent in July, led by a sharp drop in sales of motor vehicles and related parts, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Restaurants and health care providers also saw a drop-off in demand.
The decline follows a 0.3 percent increase in June, which was revised higher from the government’s initial estimate.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Since no matter how much I write about this stuff there are still people who misunderstand me let me spell out my radical plan to convert all of America into Manhattan:
1) More money for mass transit, including, where appropriate, subway, light rail, better bus systems, commuter rail, and high speed medium haul trains. In development corridors, right of ways should be preserved for future rail lines, with strong commitment to build them when the population moves in.
2) Changing land use rules especially around transit stops and stations, encouraging higher density and mixed used zoning.
3) Better pedestrian integration between nearby lower density development and higher density development near transit stops.
4) Reverse trend of construction of single access road development.
5) Within existing urban areas, a reversal of the car-centric planning which damages the urban streetscape.
None of this is actually all that radical and will only have a direct impact on a relatively small geographic footprint. There are lots of existing transit corridors where local residents have resisted higher density development; these people will be affected. Both existing and newer suburbs would essentially retain their character, just be more like the 40s versions and less like the 90s-00s versions. All this would ideally reduce car dependency and give more people easier access to mass transit and at least some small walkable town center type areas. Aside from shifting a wee bit of that Iraq money to build some SUPERTRAINS, the policy changes I imagine are actually surprisingly minor, though over a longer period they could have larger impacts on how we live.
It's important to remember, again, that what happens results from an intersection between consumer demand and policy. Suburbs exist the way they do in part because people like them and in part because they're the natural outcome of certain policies which are pretty universal in this country. I'm not telling people how they should live, I'm suggesting that relatively minor tweaks to those policies might result in the potential for better places which still have the character that people want.
I imagine more people than currently do would like to live in a world where they don't have to have one car per driving age family member, where their non-driving teens have some independent mobility, and where they can walk to get a cup of coffee or a beer occasionally. And, yes, their yards too.
Growth in the center has now reached the point where the challenge isn't saving inner-cities, it's working to maintain affordable housing. Research has shown that limited access to employment opportunities is a huge burden for poor households. In the 1980s and 1990s, lower income workers often lived in central areas while jobs were increasingly located in wealthy suburbs, unreachable except by car (which many poor households are unable to afford). As job growth in central cities takes off, it's important to ensure that lower income households maintain access to employment opportunities.
Philadelphia's somewhat strange is that even as the center has boomed there are still plenty of not awful places which are still somewhat affordable. Obviously for the very poor affordability is always an issue, but for those of modest but not awesome means Philadelphia is very affordable relative to Boston, Chicago, etc. But basically the city really needs more mass transit, and to some extent better exploitation of the existing transit system.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors could approve plans as early as next month that would allow developers to transform traffic-clogged Tysons Corner from suburb to city, but critics are growing louder in their opposition to a vision that they say will ruin Tysons and surrounding communities.
Efforts to transform Tysons are intended to take advantage of a planned Metrorail extension through the business district and out to Dulles International Airport and to ensure that the area with Virginia's largest concentration of jobs stays vibrant. Traffic is choking Tysons Corner, and the hope is that a new, urban Tysons where people can live, work, shop and play will reduce congestion and keep the high-paying jobs coming.
Monday, August 11, 2008
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some Wall Street companies might not resume paying New York City taxes for "a number of years" because they can offset future profits with the losses they are currently suffering, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.
"I think it will be a number of years before they start paying taxes again," the mayor told a news conference. "Look at those losses. They can carry them forward for a number of years."
Big expected deficit ahead.
Back in 2005, speaking before a crowd of more than 150,000 exuberant Georgians cheering "Bushi! Bushi!", President Bush made a promise to the people of that former Soviet republic: "The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you."
So where was Bush as Russia launched a major military attack against Georgia? Monkeying around with the U.S. women's volleyball players -- and otherwise amusing himself at the Beijing Olympics.
This is not to suggest that Bush should have sent in the Marines. But his impotence in the face of such a gravely destabilizing move highlights not only his personal loss of stature, but how deeply he has diminished American authority on the world stage generally and, particularly, in the eyes of Russia.
Maybe it's better. I'm not a fan of "something's happening so we must be involved or at least appear to be involved." Still it's a bit weird that war preznit bunnypants is still clowning around at the Olympics.
But, uh, what?
As Yglesias says, the conservative pundit response to anything around the world is to offer up an argument which strongly suggests that anything other than bombing stuff is deeply unserious, or some such rot, but yet they usually stop short of actually advocating that we go bomb some stuff.
Non-bombing stuff options: silly.
Bombing stuff: Probably the right idea, but I'm not going to actually say so.
BAGHDAD — Hampered by years of violence, a decimated infrastructure, a lack of foreign investors and a flood of imports that undercut local businesses, Iraq’s private sector, particularly its small non-oil economy, has so far failed to flourish as its American patrons had hoped.
In its absence, the Iraqi government has been sustaining the economy the way it always has: by putting citizens on its payroll. Since 2005, according to federal budgets, the number of government employees has nearly doubled, to 2.3 million from 1.2 million.
It's one of the many lost narratives, but "Iraq as libertarian paradise" was one of the big goals of the people in charge. It has become a glibertarian paradise, which is no surprise to anyone.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's foreign minister insisted Sunday that any security deal with the United States must contain a "very clear timeline" for the departure of U.S. troops. A suicide bomber struck north of Baghdad, killing at least five people including an American soldier.
Obama has clearly sided with our enemies, the Iraqis. Er, uh, splutter ZZZZTTTTT
It isn't for people on the East Coast because it's, you know, really fucking far away.
You know what's actually elitist? Owning and maintaining 9 homes.
The GOP's decline is most obvious in Fresno County, where the losses have turned into an avalanche, even as the party gears up its efforts to keep the White House in GOP hands by electing Arizona Sen. John McCain as president.
The most recent voter registration numbers show the Democrats are closing the gap and are now fewer than 9,000 voters behind the Republicans.
At the peak in 2004, GOP registrations were ahead by more than 23,500 voters.
ABC's "This Week" — Govs. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Bobby Jindal, R-La.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — Gov. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President Bush.
NBC's "Meet the Press" — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
CNN's "Late Edition" — T. Boone Pickens, chairman of the energy investment fund BP Capital and creator of an alternative energy plan; Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Govs. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., and Charlie Crist, R-Fla.; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston.