Obama, Not an Android, Imperfect, and also the clearly better candidate.

Gawker’s Mobutu Sese Seko explains why you should vote for Obama despite how mediocre his job performance has been, and why Mitt Romney may not be the worst person ever, but he certainly is not someone who you want in charge of the launch codes or anything else that matters:

Mitt Romney, a cipher who calls to mind the venial, sniping entitlement of Frank Burns from M*A*S*H and a Hawkeye quip from early in that series: “Someone ought to tear him down and put up a human being.” Romney’s campaign was an egregious concatenation of lies, and his advisors admitted as much on more than one occasion. He attempted to cravenly bullshit his way to the most powerful job in the world, and he did so with such disdain for voters that he straight-up said, My strategy is to lie to your dumb ass.

Read the whole thing. Its giggletastic and, of course, on point. I’ll be happy when this election is over and done with and I will happily revel in the hand wringing and excuse making of jackasses like Erick Erickson who for months now have been claiming that America wants and needs a true conservative in the White House (when is the last time that happened). Once the “America is a Center-Right” country doggerel is buried 12 feet underground and the idiotic pronunciations of unqualified asshats like Erick Erickson and his ilk are retired the country will be a better place.

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Alex Pareene in the Baffler: “Come On, Feel the Buzz”

Alex Pareene, master of the takedown, shifts his gaze to the inanities of Politico and BuzzFeed:

“This, in a nutshell, is what you get when Politico, if not Matt Drudge, rules your world. The future of Internet-enabled political journalism now seems to be little more than a Hobson’s choice between wide-eyed elation at Newt Gingrich’s excellent submarine ride or a sober appraisal of the essential honesty of Mitt Romney’s campaign manager. And so there is one undeniable truth to be gleaned from the many meaningless legacies that Politico shall undoubtedly bequeath to the generation of political scribes it is now schooling: the major forces of Washington’s political establishment have little to fear from the mighty democratic specter of an Internet-empowered citizenry. Their many ornate depravities are in less danger than ever of getting revealed to the public at large—unless, that is, they let slip a remark that can be tortured into a seventh-grade- level double entendre.”

Neil Barofsky on the Need to Tackle Banking Reform | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

NEIL BAROFSKY: SIGTARP. Was to have two focuses. One was the oversight function and doing reports and audits and keeping an eye on Treasury and making recommendations. But what I was more focused on in the beginning and what I thought my job would be is we also created a brand-new law enforcement agency, completely from scratch, whose job was to police the TARP program.

And with $700 billion going out the door, the idea was that, inevitably, there were going to be criminal flies drawn to that honey. And our job was to catch them, do the investigations, and then get the Department of Justice to prosecute them. So I really looked at this job going in as a law enforcement job. And I was thrilled with the opportunity to build one from scratch.”

Neil Barofsky on the Need to Tackle Banking Reform | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com.

Get Hudson County Moving: Transit Solutions for a County in Need

With more than 650,000 people living in mostly contiguous cities and municipalities, Hudson County today has a larger population than the cities of Boston, Denver, Portland, Seattle, and Washington DC. With a population density of around 13,000 people per square mile it is also denser than all of those cities and its car ownership rates are among the lowest in the country. If you called Hudson County one single city and compared it to these other cities based on mere statistics and removed their names you would assume that Hudson County must enjoy a robust public transit system to serve its large, pedestrian heavy population. You would be wrong.

If you read Matt Hunger’s article in the Jersey City Independent about Jersey City’s public transit issues you would assume that the biggest problem facing the city is the PATH nearing capacity. You would be wrong. The PATH has four stops in Jersey City. All but one is in Downtown. Downtown, while certainly the financial and business center of Jersey City, has around 50,000 residents. That is one tenth of HudsonCounty’s population. Tiny Harrison, with 10,000 or so people, enjoys a PATH stop and Hoboken’s 50,000 residents have one as well. So, roughly 20% of HudsonCounty enjoys immediate PATH access; the rest of us rely in some measure on NJ Transit buses, jitneys and the Light Rail to get us to where we need to go.

Hudson County straphangers are stuck between massive public transit institutions that they have no control over. NJ Transit puts most of its resources into its commuter rail service (especially during Republican administrations) and even when it worries about buses, HudsonCounty is just one part of the state within its purview. The Port Authority is such a bloated, bureaucratic mess in the midst of the stunningly over budget World Trade Center construction and constant interstate squabbles between the New York and New Jersey powers that be that they can scarcely be bothered to worry about Hudson County and everything East of the Hudson River is run by an MTA that doesn’t much give a hoot about commuters from outside the city.

As many journalists have documented in recent years, capital transit costs are so prohibitively expensive in the United States that expanding public transit requires federal money. Gobs of it. The 2 billion dollar Hudson Bergen Light Rail was the biggest piece of pork to roll into New Jersey until Governor Christie was elected. Each bus and its one driver on a bus line costs NJ Transit hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Never mind staggering per mile costs of subway construction. The total cost of New York City’s 8.5 mile long 2nd Avenue Expansion is estimated to be 17 billion dollars. That works out to something like 2 billion a mile, not to mention the project has been in the works since the late 1920s and is still nowhere close to completion! Hudson County could never foot that kind of bill so new PATH tracks throughout the county are out of the question, which leaves of with buses.

Buses are a relatively cheap, efficient and quick way to drastically improve public transit in a given area. Given how compact Hudson County is a robust bike share program and concerted efforts to improve biking infrastructure would also significantly improve the quality of life of Hudson County residents. While the Jitneys are quick and convenient they are often uncomfortable, unsanitary, tend to disappear during off hours and due to safety concerns do not pick up certain people at a certain time of night (like me). So just a few buses that connect people in the more far flung areas of the County to transit hubs would get more cars off the road, shorten people’s commutes and create the kind of affordable transit infrastructure that an urban area like Hudson County absolutely needs. With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to invest.

Bicycles and bike share programs are the next part of the solution. The DC Bike share program, as I have witnessed it, is convenient, affordable, and environmentally friendly and brings in revenue for the city through monthly rental fees (like a PATH or MTA card). Before my bike was stolen I could get to the Grove Street PATH station in ten minutes from my house in the Heights. Relying on a mix of bus and/or the Light Rail, that trip becomes a 45 to an hour long trip sometimes. Bikes, especially for younger and middle aged residents, greatly increase the ease of getting to the few public transit hubs that HudsonCounty has. In WashingtonDC the bikes are stored at areas like parks, transit hubs and other main thoroughfares. This could easily be replicated in HudsonCounty. I know the issue is already being mulled by folks at the County, but based on how slowly things tend to move, our elected officials need a kick in the pants.

While myopic officials may think Hudson County’s transit issues begin downtown, the opposite is true. The real problem is elsewhere, where it can take residents of the Heights, Union City, North Bergen or even Bayonne two hours to get to Gotham. The easier those connections cane be made the more growth the county will see and claims to be New York’s Sixth Borough will be true. New York is New York because of its premier transit infrastructure and density. Hudson County is a great alternative because if offers the kind of smaller city life you find in places like Boston, Washington DC and even Philadelphia, where good bus service are a major part of those City’s appeal. Hudson County can be a world class urban area again, but without forward-thinking public transit solutions, we’ll remain New York’s redheaded stepsister. There isn’t much we can do about the MTA, Port Authority, or NJ Transit, so Hudson County has to start taking its internal transit into its own hands.

EB White on the Moon in the New Yorker

The moon, it turns out, is a great place for men. One-sixth gravity must be a lot of fun, and when Armstrong and Aldrin went into their bouncy little dance, like two happy children, it was a moment not only of triumph but of gaiety. The moon, on the other hand, is a poor place for flags. Ours looked stiff and awkward, trying to float on the breeze that does not blow. (There must be a lesson here somewhere.) It is traditional, of course, for explorers to plant the flag, but it struck us, as we watched with awe and admiration and pride, that our two fellows were universal men, not national men, and should have been equipped accordingly. Like every great river and every great sea, the moon belongs to none and belongs to all. It still holds the key to madness, still controls the tides that lap on shores everywhere, still guards the lovers who kiss in every land under no banner but the sky. What a pity that in our moment of triumph we did not forswear the familiar Iwo Jima scene and plant instead a device acceptable to all: a limp white handkerchief, perhaps, symbol of the common cold, which, like the moon, affects us all, unites us all

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1969/07/26/1969_07_26_025_TNY_CARDS_000295131#ixzz24ko5JbAJ

Polygamists and the Presidency (Buzzfeed)

Buzzfeed has a real whopper of an article here about Polygamists and the family histories of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. One of the strangest parts, when a polygamist talks about what they have in common with the gay rights movement:

 

“We’re about faith, family, and getting the government out of our lives,” Darger said. “It’s a quintessential conservative argument.”

Which is why it was so jarring when, about 20 minutes into the discussion he started dropping terms that were borrowed from another community that hasn’t always gotten along with religious right: The gay rights movement.

“We made the decision as a family to come out,” he said, at one point.

“All we want is our equal rights,” he said, at another.

When finally asked whether he saw parallels between the gay marriage cause and his own, Darger didn’t hesitate: “Definitely.”

Gay rights advocates want nothing to do with the polygamists, having spent years batting down the right’s argument that the freedom to marry could extend in unexpected directions. But to get polygamy decriminalized, Darger said he is modeling his strategy after the successes of that movement (which he supports on Constitutional principle). As part of the effort, he and his family are waging a public awareness campaign to demystify their lifestyle.

The Student Loan Racket; Too Sketchy for Wall Street

Moe Tkacik, who in general is my favorite unattached journalist, wrote this blockbuster about the student loan industry and the fact that they are the only debts not dischargeable through bankruptcy. Also, we Millennials are basically fucked:

Maybe the student loan shark scam was too fishy even for Wall Street, even in 2007, to want to get too close to the action. And if Lord has been spreading the no-risk wealth around Wall Street in the aftermath of the credit crisis it is not apparent from securitization volume, which has slowed to a trickle even as student borrowing keeps setting new records. In 2010 students borrowed $100 billion, but Student Loan Asset Backed Securities (SLABS) issuance was a meager $13.6 billion, down from a peak of $78.7 billion in 2006.

Perhaps this lack of Wall Street skin in the game is partially to credit for the fact that such reliable business lobby organs as Forbes have demonstrated refreshing equanimity to the cause of restoring students’ financial rights. The student loan shark bubble will, after all, ultimately prove far worse for business than the subprime mortgage bubble. But it also demonstrates that the shadowy ruling elite’s overwhelming contempt towards its citizenry runs deeper and dates back farther than full time chroniclers of American decline ever believed.
Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/08/moe-tkacik-student-debt-the-unconstitutional-40-year-war-on-students.html#yBtVA3qcBz7UAz96.99

 

Moe has also been doing some serious blogging over at her new site. Check it out: http://daskrap.com/