Populist movements don't build themselves ...

... It doesn't matter what the "horse race" outcome of the campaign is, if we fight the campaign. Fighting it, we learn how to fight. Learning how to fight political battles, we become citizens again. Becoming citizens again, we reclaim the Republic that lies dormant beneath the bread and circuses of modern American society.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Train: Why the CEI is Intrinsically Broken and How to Fix It

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

What is the CEI? It is the "Cost Effectiveness Index", used to evaluate applications for capital improvements in transit. As described by Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic:
In reviewing transit capital projects to fund with New Starts grant money, the Federal Transit Administration evaluates proposals from a variety of perspectives. Since 2005, it has placed an overwhelming focus on one criterion, requiring a medium “cost-effectiveness” rating, which values predicted overall travel time saved by commuters likely to use the new service.

And indeed, it is a puzzle from The Transport Politic which brings this issue back to the fore: a little while back, Yonah described how the CEI was forcing an inferior light rail alignment choice, in Minneapolis, while in the article linked to above, he is arguing against a proposal by two Congressmen to overturn the policy.

The thing is: the Cost Effectiveness Index is not simply a badly put together formula. Rather, it represents a fundamentally flawed assumption under which there is no way to put together an appropriate formula. However, setting that assumption aside would allow a framework to be established that would overcome the limitations of the CEI.

The Specific Problem with the CEI

The Specific Critique of the CEI is presented quite well by Yonah Freemark back in August:
One, the cost-benefit analysis is heavily biased towards the number of annual hours commuters will save by using the new transit system. This means that people who already have longer commutes are seen as more valuable for the FTA than those who choose to live in in-town locations with shorter distances between their residences and workplaces. As a result, transit networks are encouraged to extend out into the suburbs, rather than be densified and reinforced downtown. This policy encourages sprawl; though more suburbanites may find themselves taking transit to work, they won’t be using it to go shopping or out on the weekend. European policies, which generally encourage densification of transit networks in dense, inner-city locations, have produced transit systems that are far better-used per mile compared to American lines.

Two, similarly, the FTA likes speed. As a result, the slightly shorter 3A route is better for commuters in the far-out suburbs hoping to get to jobs downtown. The tunnel planned for route 3C, which ramps up costs exponentially, is only necessary because a surface route would be too slow and make the commutes of people from Eden Prairie slightly longer. Note that a 3C route without the tunnel would have a significantly lower construction cost, but it still wouldn’t meet FTA cost-effectiveness criteria because fewer outer-suburban people would ride it because their trip would be longer.

Three, the formula used by the FTA prefers new riders to old ones. In other words, a person moving from a car to a train is considered more important than a person moving from a bus to a train. This means that people already using transit are disadvantaged and are unlikely to receive upgrades to their transit service. Circuitously, the fact that fewer people use transit in the areas along route 3A (because of their wealth, car-dependence, and sprawling neighborhoods) means that they’re more likely to be considered for funding by the federal government.

Well, so fix it! The problem is, when you start digging into it, each modification has a strong counter-argument. Indeed, is it wrong to give credit to a line for better speed? Is it wrong to give extra credit to a line for attracting new riders? Indeed, it is wrong to give credit to a line for saving more hours to commuters rather than saving fewer hours?

If you step back and look at each of those in isolation, they are quite defensible. The central question is: how can you give weight to those factors while still allowing a local alignment to be designed that best meets local needs, where those generally good things may not be as high a priority as running the alignment through an attractive non-commute destination to provide stronger off-peak ridership.

The General Problem With the Cost Effectiveness Index

Its easy to so got lost in the details of the debate over the details of what is in the CEI that we lose sight of a more basic question: is any single index number going to be right for identifying all of the most worthwhile projects?

And the answer to the basic question is: of course not. A new transit project is an addition to an existing transport system, which is a structured collection of component parts. And that transport system is a subsystem in the local economic system.

There is no conceivable way to formulate any index that will pick the best new transit project for every different transport system in every different local economy in the country. If it picks the best alignment for Minneapolis, it will go awry somewhere else. The actual weight of the different facets of new transport infrastructure depends on the system in which it is to be placed.

But why would anybody imagine that there is a single index number that can pick out "the" right projects? Well, its not a surprising assumption in mainstream economics, which relies upon the fiction of "utility" based decision making, because it allows us to quite accurate in our predictions of what would happen in an entirely different universe where the people in the economy were not human beings.

But its a silly thing to just assume that such a surprising thing is possible in this case. So unless and until someone does present the formula which is accepted by all observers as picking out the very best projects in each of the various big cities, small cities, suburbs and rural areas of this country, there's no reason to believe there is any one index number that gets it right more often than not.

A Particular Solution to Fixing It

The reason that some bureaucrat was told, "make up an index number" was an effort to provide a means for selecting projects that was not entirely based on political clout. But when we accept that no one number can be all things to all people, that does not mean we have to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Say that we want to encourage construction of systems that save energy. And we want to encourage construction of systems that reduce emissions of CO2. And we want to encourage construction of systems that provide alternatives to suburban automotive commutes. And we want to encourage construction of systems that attract people to make a large number of rides. And we want to encourage construction of systems that promote economic development in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Once we abandon the effort to build a single index number, we actually simplify the formula making process. For energy efficiency, use energy saved per dollar. For reducing CO2 emissions, tons of CO2 emissions saved per dollar. For suburban commutes, peak-hour passenger miles per dollar. For attracting a large number of ride, rides per dollar. There could be six to eight different "good things".

Then, instead of putting all these quite distinctive goals into some arbitrary index, rank the applicants against each goal. For each goal, provide a certain pot of money to distribute and a maximum percentage of the system cost it can contribute. For example, energy saving can contribute 30%, CO2 emissions reduction 30%, suburban commutes 20%, ridership 20%, supporting economic development in (some already Federally designated) disadvantage neighborhood 20%.

Each system can obtain up to 80% of its cost - depending on how it ranks on a range of measures. However, unlike the existing CEI formula or any alternative CEI index, which is biased toward some particular type of system which is most useful to some particular type of local economy ... local communities can look at the range of goals being funded, and design a system that does an excellent job in serving some of those goals.

And ranking applications on each goal is a self-balancing system. If some goals are being less well served ... there is an extra incentive to try to do a better job of serving that goal, in order to win that slice of funding.

So, that fixes it, does it?

Of course, this is just one part of the problem. The bigger task might seem to be getting an adequate amount of money allocated to these projects in the first place.

Still, first things first. The system of ranking against distinct goals and allocating funding "slices" is one where it is far easier to ensure a wider range of communities will benefit from access to a larger pool of money. And that is critical to making sure that the benefits both cross urban/rural divides, but, sometimes even more critically, are seen to cross urban/rural divides.

If we are going to get the level of investment in sustainable transport that our nation will be needing in the two decades ahead - it cannot be seen as a "cities only" issue.

And so its an important innovation if we can break the funding regime free of the shackles of the "one size fits all" Cost Effectiveness Index.

And now, the headline act, Midnight Oil, with Dreamworld

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Train: Doctor Dan prescribes High Speed Rail for Kentucky

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Doctor Dan Mongiardo, Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination for the Kentucky Senate race, to take on whoever wins the Republican nomination to challenge for the seat that Senator Bunning (R-Big$$$) has announced he is giving up.

Lots of politics to unwrap in that paragraph, which I'll leave to the political wise-guys. The Sunday Train today is about Dr. Dan's Rail Plan.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Dan's Rail Plan has four main parts, and regular readers of the Sunday Train will recognize much from each of the four parts:
  • Support for expanding Kentucky's existing and potential Amtrak routes into 110mph Emerging Higher Speed Rail corridors
  • Support for regional rail services to complete the above state rail map
  • "Hybrid Light Rail" to provide cross-metropolitan local rail services, principally to Louisville
  • Heavy investment in complementary local transit, including bus rapid transit and a high frequency driverless monotrain system for Kentucky.

Dr. Dan's Prescription

The YouTube plays the powerpoint slideshow that accompanied the speech where Dr. Dan announced his Rail Plan.

Dr. Dan lays heavy weight (speech) on the fact that Kentucky gets under 30% of its gas taxes to the Transit Fund back, while getting over 90% of its Highway Fund gas taxes back, so his proposal to fund the bulk of the local transit is basically, "get our Transit Money back".

What makes this encouraging for those of us outside Kentucky is that he lays part of the blame on the Bush-era Dept. of Transport practice of underfunding the 80:20 Federal match, which he claims discriminates against cities without an established system. And its likely to do, but there was a political shell game in getting there.

The political shell game was to persuade rural and suburban Congressmen that there was little in transit funding "for them". That discouraged them from voting to fund at reasonable levels. That made competition among applications was brutal, so matches dropped from 80:20 to sometime 40% or less Federal, 60% local. And that was a game that few rural and suburban counties could play at, without substantial help from their state government.

Dr. Dan also looks at the economic benefits of rail and transit, lays out his plan with lots of maps (which pass by too quickly on the YouTube, so its necessary to hit pause frequently, which interrupts the jazz ensemble backing track). And on this point, I believe he has a very handy frame to put around the dry policy wonk arguments on economic benefits:
Per capita income for counties served by Interstate highways is nearly THREE times that of counties that do not have access to good four-lane highways.

It is obvious that continuing to maintain, improve and expand our existing highway and bridge infrastructure in Kentucky is critical. What may not be obvious to some, however, is my belief that if Kentucky is left out of a federal high speed rail network - a network that is - as I said earlier -- in the infancy of its planning stages - I fear the economic consequences to our Commonwealth will be like those communities left out of the Federal Interstate Highway system 53 years ago. We will only fall farther behind in our efforts to expand economic opportunities and increase personal incomes.

The next Senator from Kentucky must be a fierce advocate for Kentucky when it comes to not only highways, bridges, locks and dams but also a fierce advocate for mass public transportation.

Have I Seen This Somewhere Before

For three of the treatments prescribed by Dr. Dan's Rail Plan, all I can say is, "I resemble that remark!". I would, however, extend his plan in one important area.

In his speech, he says regarding the Higher Speed Rail component:
The high speed rail grid that I envision would connect northern cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus and Cleveland to cities in the south like Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans and Miami, we would connect not only Louisville and Cincinnati into a national high speed rail system ... we would connect Lexington and potentially Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and London.

By connecting Washington D.C. to the West Coast in a transcontinental high speed rail line that bisects our nation and a passenger rail connecting our smaller cities in Kentucky with our urban centers - something that I will address in a moment -- we could potentially enable the majority of Kentuckians to easily access most major cities around the country.

If by "transcontinental HSR", we are to understand passenger High Speed Rail corridor, it does not make much sense - since "Higher" Speed Rail is primarily for trips of 100miles to 300miles, and very "High" Speed Rail for trips of 200miles to 500miles.

But if "transcontinental HSR" refers to electrifying one of the main east/west STRACNET corridors and upgrading it to allow 100mph single stack container freight - well, that is a vital national priority, and as a side-benefit that corridor would also effectively permit 110mph tilt-train passenger rail services. So under the definitions the DoT uses, that's a "transcontinental HSR".

And with one bridging section added to the existing STRACNET, there really could be a transcontinental corridor that passes through Kentucky:
  • From the Shenandoah Valley through Charleston WV, Cincinnati, and Louisville;
  • Upgrading the corridor through southern Indiana to Vincennes IN, where it connects to the existing STRACNET again
  • West to St. Louis and Kansas City, and from there either:
    • West to Colorado, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Reno via the northern route, Sacramento and the Bay; or
    • Southwest to Amarillo, Albuquerque, Tuscon and the LA Basin

Of course, as previously discussed in the Appalachian Hub series on the Sunday Train, the Steel Interstate approach also supports Louisville / Nashville. And Dr. Dan proposes (as would I) a link from Lexington to Knoxville which would then connect through Chattanooga to either Atlanta or Birmingham and the existing proposed Gulf and Southeast HSR corridors.

The Steel Interstate provides a second solid answer to the question, "what does a Senator have to do with transit?", since the Steel Interstate is chock full of National Government responsibilities, including Defense, International Trade and, of course, Employment and Economic Stability.

Did You Say Monorail?

I will not go into the full plan - you can get an overview from either the speech or the youtube or both - but I will not the Monorail Question.

There are certain circumstances wherea 55mph Monorail offers a compelling case. If distances are too long for 35mph to be fast enough, short enough so 55mph is fast enough, there are too many obstacles to get a right of way on the ground, and there are places to put the large number of pylons required by the monorail, it could be the answer to that question.

Dr. Dan seems to undermine that case for Monorail in Louisville when he stresses how many rail corridors run through Louisville and how he hopes to be able to gain the cooperation of the Right of Way owners in most or all of them for Hybrid Light Rail. If a Hybrid Light Rail system criss-crosses the city, then either a Bus Rapid Transit, Aerobus, or Rapid Streetcar or mix of two or three might be a better match.

On the other hand - Dr. Dan is running for the Senate. So what is important is how he proposes to go about supporting the monorail. If the support consists of technology neutral preferences for systems that can offer high frequency and can be operated effectively in service of late night shifts, then its up to the city putting together the application to find the approach that is the right fit.

So there is that caveat: as long as the discussion of the driverless Monorail is pointing to the need to support those kind of features in a city like Louisville, where there needs to be support for all shifts, and not just a 9am-5pm office commute ... I'd hope that Louisville would do a wide canvass of all technologies to place that role in the integrated system.


Writing on Dr. Dan's Rail Plan at TheTransportPolitic, Yonah Freemark says:
The candidate’s proposals reflect that he is a novice in matters of transportation, but there’s a larger point here.

What’s most interesting about Mr. Mongiardo’s proposed transit links is that a senator in the U.S. Congress has very little direct influence on the decision-making of local authorities when it comes to transit, nor on the choices made by the state government on intercity rail. Nevertheless, he seems to have concluded that a specific vision of where new transit might go is more palpable to voters than a simple promise of more federal money. Unfortunately, the latter is the one thing a senator actually can produce.

In fact, Mr. Mongiardo makes the very good point that his state contributes around four times as much to the mass transit trust fund as it gets back — the federal government should fund more non-automobile transportation there.

I would disagree on one specific point. U.S. Senators have an unfortunately large amount of influence on the decision-making of local authorities when it comes to transit and the decision-making of state government on intercity rail. Indeed, Yonah Freemark himself made the point about Minneapolis likely choosing a second-best light rail alignment because that's what "scored well" on the Department of Transport formula.

Getting those formulas so that they deliver better outcomes is a problem local transport planners areas know about, but can't do anything about. Senators, on the other hand, can do something about it - the enabling legislation that the formula rests on passes through the Senate - but generally see a lot other areas as more exciting things to grandstand on.

Which is one of the biggest reasons that, in this month of bad news for progressives, I find Dr. Dan's Rail Plan something to get a little bit excited about.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Train: Hey, Joe, I still want sustainable electric HSRail for Christmas

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Left Orange Station a little after 7pm Eastern

Last year, I told VP Joe Biden about the Sustainable Electric High(er) Speed Rail I wanted for Christmas (cf. links below). It involved electrifying the 30,000+ miles of STRACNET, and establishing 100mph Rapid Freight Rail paths, including support for running 110mph or 125mph long haul electric passenger services on the Rapid Freight paths.

In short, I wanted Joe Biden to take Alan Drake's plan and just fracking DO it.

I didn't get it for Christmas last year - but then, I guess he was only VP-elect last 25DEC08. The post today is to look at the progress toward the goal. The answer, surprisingly, is that we have made substantial progress. Certainly we are not halfway there, yet, but we are much further along than I expected to see.

Regional Passenger HSRail Corridors

The biggest steps forward have been in the area of Regional Passenger HSRail Corridors. The first step happened way back in February. As reported at The Transport Politic, Final Stimulus Bill Rewards HSR Massively; Falls Somewhere Between House and Senate on Transit:
The U.S. Congress Conference Committee has agreed to the final provisions of the economic stimulus bill, which now moves back to the two chambers of Congress for final passage. The most important news is the massive amount of money proposed for high-speed rail – $8 billion – and the large increase in Amtrak funding, up to $1.3 billion from $800 and $850 million in the respective House and Senate bills. This represents the largest single expenditure on rail in United States history and promises a new day for train travel. The U.S. Department of Transportation will lead the distribution of these funds; most of the money is likely to go to existing programs such as California High-Speed Rail, Midwest High-Speed Rail, and Southeast High-Speed Rail. States will get no supplementary money for rail programs. The legislation says that some of the money can be used for standard-speed rail corridors, but that the Secretary of Transportation is to give priority “to projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”

According to the AP, President Obama and Senator Reid pushed for the increase personally. This fits in directly with Mr. Obama’s statement yesterday about the benefits of high-speed rail and his repeated insistence during the campaign that he would push for better train service, especially in his native Midwest. It also may be a response to Mr. Obama’s seeming ignorance about the lack of money for infrastructure that Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) described at the beginning of the month.

The applications went in last October, with California, Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia applying for over $1b each, and Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio (Go Bucks!), Washington and Wisconsin each applying for between $400m and $1b.

Then in the annual appropriation, the White House asked for $1b for next year, the House appropriated $4b, a 300% increase, the Senate $1.2b, a 20% increase, and after much dithering the Senate and House recently agreed to $2.5b, a 150% increase.

Now, because HSRail and Energy Efficient Transport advocates were making a major public push for the Senate to fall in line with the House $4b, there were those who saw this as a defeat, but in reality, anytime what comes out of Congress is 150% better than what the Administration proposes, that's called a "win". Imagine where we would have been on so many fronts if the Stimulus Bill was 150% better than what the Administration proposed!

Now, admittedly, $2.5b annually is not enough if we are going to be building one or two serious Express HSR systems to prove the concept. However, for the 110mph and 125mph systems, this level of funding is enough to get systems started that will serve over half the states in the nation.

Indeed, for Express HSR advocates, that fact alone is tremendous good news. Since the Emerging (110mph) Higher Speed Rail is time-competitive with driving, and the Regional (125mph) Higher Speed Rail is perceptibly faster than driving, operation of these systems will revolutionize common public perception of "ordinary" rail service. This will ensure that those with systems will want them expanded, while many states that presently lag in developing Higher Speed Rail plans will be facing pressure to get off the stick ... and that is a strongly favorable political environment for an HSRail development bank that can provide the Express (220mph) High Speed Rail systems the funding security they need.

But What About Long Distance Rapid Freight and Passenger Rail?

The focus for Emerging (110mph) and Regional (125mph) Higher Speed Rail is providing 100mile to 300mile trips between medium-large to large metropolitan areas. The focus for Express (220mph) High Speed Rail is providing 200mile to 500mile trips between major metropolitan areas, together with tips to those areas from smaller metropolitan areas along the way.

As became clear as I mapped out why America Was Made for HSRail, those trips can be provided along some longer corridors stringing overlapping trips together. For example, at the 110mph level, Pittsburgh / Cleveland / Toledo / Chicago / Milwaukee / Madison ... and then connecting (likely via Rochester and the Mayo Clinic, but other local areas are making their own case) to Minneapolis.

Generally, however, the corridors supporting those kinds of trips do not make for a nationwide grid. However, they often do lie along the existing strategic national heavy freight grid, STRACNET, and when the do, their improvements will help pave the way for the national sustainable electric HSRail system.

There is also a second way that they help. That is, for those corridors where passenger HSRail alone will not make the case for the system, there will still be constituents thinking it would be a good thing to have the service. So, in addition to the direct investment with multiple benefits is the demonstration effect.

And if the Rapid Electric Freight rail is the basic justification for the improvement, that means that a two per day or three per day Amtrak style service could well be established with 110mph or 125mph electric tilt-trains, and the incremental capital cost is the station and its approaches and the rolling stock itself - which can provide more passenger miles per set than conventional Amtrak, simply due to the higher speed, and yet more due to being able to operate on the tighter schedules made possible by Rapid Freight Paths.

However, just recently, I saw even more encouraging news. As I discussed in Sunday Train: Supporting Rail Electrification with the Climate Bill, there are a variety of ways to help support rail electrification that can be and, in terms of addressing climate change, ought to be, included in any overall bill addressing climate change.

Of course, the overall details of the Climate Change bill were not encouraging, with too little handed back as a social dividend, too much opportunity for Wall Street monkey business, and the permits being located far to close to the final use, which is just asking for an ongoing fight against it ending up riddled with industry specific loopholes. Indeed, a permit system set too far "downstream" would seem every bit as likely to get riddled with loopholes and exceptions as any real world carbon tax.

Add on top the specter of the same thing happening to the Climate Bill as is presently happening with Health Insurance Reform, and I feared it was an idea that would get dragged down by the rest of the package. So it was with great interest that I read of Senators Cantwell and Collins propose a "bi-partisan" Climate Bill (I am presuming that the 'bi' refers to Democratic and Independent, since the vast majority of the Republican caucuses in both houses will of course do the bidding of the Oil and Coal Companies). From CQ Politics:
The Cantwell-Collins alternative would instead create what has been called a “cap and dividend” structure. The government would still cap emissions and sell carbon permits, but the polluters — such as coal producers and oil companies — could trade the credits only among themselves. There would be no outside market for trading the emissions credits.

Under the Cantwell-Collins plan, 75 percent of the revenue raised by selling emissions permits would go straight back to U.S. taxpayers in the form of monthly electronic payments made directly to their bank accounts. Cantwell’s office is expected to release a report Friday finding that under the plan, a typical family of four would receive tax-free monthly checks from the government averaging $1,100 per year, or $21,000 between 2012 and 2030.

The remaining 25 percent would be spent on projects such as clean energy technology research and development.

In the previous Sunday Train discussion of using Carbon Fees to subsidize interest costs while user and access fees covered the original capital costs of establishing Rapid Freight Electric Rail - that was based up to 20% of the 10% State Share in the current bill, which is to say up to 2% of the carbon fee revenue. So 25% devoted to clean energy technology development remains ample to getting started on the actual coast to coast rapid electric freight rail system that we need.

There is no doubting the need. We import roughly 2/3 of our petroleum products, and even the increase in rail freight caused by $4/gallon diesel pushed many trunk rail lines close to capacity. In the face of a $6/gallon diesel or, still worse, a physical interruption of supply, we will simply not be able to rely on the present road plus air freight system to keep our national industrial economy going. Indeed, this is something even the war-monger rabble ought to support, since the way that things presently stand, once the crude oil supply line from overseas is cut, the logistics supporting military deployments will come under tremendous strain as well.

So, combine, first, an alternate climate bill has been floated which addresses the three most glaring weaknesses of the Kerry bill - inadequate social dividend, permits too far downstream, and the risk of setting Derivatives Traders loose on the trading system - and the fact that is has "bipartisan" support, and that is quite promising.

The task ahead is to ensure that Transport Electrification and ActiveTransport (walking and cycling) are as well represented in the new bill as they are in the present climate bill, and the future is so bright, I'll have to wear shades (I can't actually afford sunglasses, so they'll be borrowed).

But if we do can do that in the months ahead, we will get one more step closer to getting our Sustainable Electric High Speed Rail for Christmas.

BTW, I am not sure if Joe is getting these ... someone sees him on the Acela sometime, be sure to give him the link.

All of Which is a Follow-up to last year's ...

Dear Joe, I want an Electric Train for Christmas (Pt. I)

Dear Joe, I want a High Speed Electric Train for Christmas (Pt. II).

Dear Joe, I want a Sustainable High Speed Electric Train for Christmas (Part 3)

Part 1 and Part III have the clip of Joe Biden at the National Governor's Association last year which originally inspired the title.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

LCD: The FAQ Lawyers, part N of an unending series

This is a Lazy Comment Diary, with reference to some points that have recently been discussed in various watering holes around the progressive interwebs.

I'm feeling a bit essayed out at the moment, but coming home after evening class on a day that I get up around 6am to be in school sometime 7:30am to 8am before 8:30am-12:30pm class, then come home to hang out before going to school around 5pm for the 6pm to 10pm class, I was groggy enough to be easily provoke-able, so firing up the Twitter machine and seeing someone with a link to a dKos meta controversy, I too a peak over and, yeah, I got provoked.

Especially when its a fracking rhetorical question. God rhetorical question cheese me off sometimes. Why is that? I dunno, they just do.

Daily Kos has been taken over by the other side provoked, of course, the usual fight between Administration critics and Obama loyalists, including this steaming pile of organic fertilizer (NB: note that what is contained in the blockquote is an ASSERTION that I have just insulted - any kossack that believes they are immune to the general human tendency to say bullshit now and again and are therefore insulted to learn that someone thinks something they said was bullshit is, of course, welcome to feel insulted, because they are in the very best case too naive to be allowed at in the Internets without supervision):
Actually, this website was founded under the (36+ / 0-)
NB:Recommended by: Ray Radlein, askew, burrow owl, TLS66, walthamricke49, Iberian, Urizen, jaywillie, GN1927, blueyedace2, leftynyc, SocioSam, xanthippe2, edwardssl, Triscula, happy camper, GoldnI, lordcopper, Patricia Bruner, luckylizard, A Man Called Gloom, MKSinSA, Bull Schmitt, Otherday, stegro, iRobert, nickrud, indubitably, Reetz, Jane Lew, soothsayer99, notwisconsin, I said GOOD DAY sir, randomfacts, James Robinson, wolfie1818

the distinct banner of all Democrats, whether we agree with it or not, let's not fudge the truth with your distortion. This is specifically re iterated currently as NOT a progressive site.

... and I will pull one strand of the follow-up to where I jumped in.

Uh huh (7+ / 0-)
Recommended by: Bob Love, cotterperson, conchita, corvo, Johnny Q, thethinveil, WaryLiberal
Nevermind that Kos supports primarying blue dogs and even supported progressive Republican Scozzafava.

Don't donate to the DSCC in 2010 - they'll give your money to Harry Reid. Donate to the candidates instead!
by arcticshadow on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:35:25 PM EST

don't take my word for it: (19+ / 0-)
Recommended by: Ray Radlein, askew, brillo, walthamricke49, Iberian, Urizen, jaywillie, blueyedace2, xanthippe2, Patricia Bruner, beltane, Sun dog, MKSinSA, Bull Schmitt, Otherday, nickrud, I said GOOD DAY sir, randomfacts, wolfie1818
"This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we're all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN's Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we're around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog."

That's the first thing written in the FAQ.

There are only 2 things in life I believe about religion: There could be a God and I'm sure as heck not him.
by Irixsh on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:36:51 PM EST

I don't care about a FAQ written years ago (7+ / 0-)
Recommended by: cotterperson, conchita, corvo, SlackwareGrrl, thethinveil, svboston, WaryLiberal
What Kos says goes, as it's his site.

Don't donate to the DSCC in 2010 - they'll give your money to Harry Reid. Donate to the candidates instead!
by arcticshadow on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:38:02 PM EST

so, the FAQ is optional? (6+ / 0-)
Recommended by: askew, Urizen, blueyedace2, dougymi, chicago minx, Jane Lew

That's interesting, because there are a lot of the site's policies/guidelines laid out in the FAQ.

But apparently none of it matters, since it was written years ago?

Huh...who knew?

Thanks for clearing that up. I wasn't aware anyone had given you the greenlight to dismiss the FAQ.

-8.25, -6.97
by jaywillie on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:46:25 PM EST

Well.. (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by: conchita, TiaRachel
You should read what Kos himself has to say today.


...Achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life... EMK
by SlackwareGrrl on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:50:32 PM EST

okay (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by: askew, pstoller78

And what does any of that have to do with the FAQ? I don't see what you're seeing.

-8.25, -6.97
by jaywillie on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:54:25 PM EST

Which was my hook, since rhetorical questions like that, as I said, really cheese me.

I think they are seeing this part: (1+ / 0-)
Obama spent all year enabling Max Baucus and Olympia Snowe, and he thinks we're supposed to get excited about whatever end result we're about to get, so much so that we're going to fork over money? Well, it might work with some of you guys, but I'm certainly not biting. In fact, this is insulting, betraying a lack of understanding of just how pissed the base is at this so-called reform. The administration may be happy to declare victory with a mandate that enriches insurance companies, yet creates little incentive to control costs or change the very business practices that have screwed so many people. But I'll pass.

Under the theory "all Democrats are equally good" with the FAQ-lawyers are peddling, this "kos" fellow is guilty of:

(1) Not even criticizing Baucus, an equally good Democrat under the "all Democrats are equally good" hypothesis, but talking about Obama enabling Baucus, which takes for granted that enabling Baucus is a bad thing.

This "kos" fellow is contradicting that reading of the FAQ by that faction of FAQ-lawyer.

Even further, the whole DNC, chock full of people who are each and every one of them a Democrat, and therefore an Equally Good Democrat under the All Democrats Are Equally Good No Matter What They Believe Or How They Behave theory, is to be denied money by this "kos" fellow, just because he thinks that the so-called health care compromise in which we pretend to get a Swiss-style not for profit health care system and instead we are more likely just left out in the cold is a horribly mangled bit of policy.

What a purist! Get Rid of Him! He Actually Presumes to Judge A Group of Equally Good Democrats by Results!

That would be at least one of the parts that was read. Having started reading the site on the front page before I ever worked out what was going on with these diaries and recent diary list and all (having gotten my feet wet in a smaller diary based blog first), I am confident we can find THOUSANDS of posts by this "kos" fellow that directly contradict the All Democrats are Equally Good reading o the FAQ.

Which either means that this "kos" fellow is violating the FAQ, or else that the All Democrats Are Equally Good mob are misreading the FAQ.

Of course, those of you opposed to the Democratic party base using Kos as a place to organize are going to lose in the end. After all, kos is just a guy that set up a blog. What made dKos special is that it was where the base gathered to organize, with all the creative energy, passion, family fights and family feuds, and everything else that came with it.

And if in the aftermath of huddling together during the Bush years, and then finding our voice as a rising opposition, and then playing a role in not one but two successive wave elections - the opposition to the Democratic base has worked out a successful formula for neutering dKos as a place for the base to gather, it will just mean that as we gather to primary the bastards that did this to the health insurance reform, we will gather somewhere else, and it will become the place that has all the creative energy, passion, family fights and families feuds and everything else that comes with it.

Of course, it continues - there was an answer that refused to tackle the content and instead went meta (meta2 as the original diary is meta) and I answered it, and so on. I know that the informal rule is that diaries are not allowed to be commented on once it drops off the recent diary or reclist, whichever is later - but one thing we are free to do is to break the informal rule and keep dKos diaries alive by reference to the longer lived presence on smaller, progressive, blogs.