92 Replies to “Weekend open thread: bus maintainer”

  1. Martin, if it’s possible, I’d like to see posted interviews with mechanics, drivers, supervisors, and other operating people. And also the Sound Transit Board, and the King County Council.

    But here’s an even better thing that STB might also advocate and facilitate. It’s there online that several of our community colleges have classes in escalator and elevator maintenance. How ’bout we push for transit-mechanic training programs too?

    Works for cars, works for cars, works for cars. Doesn’t it?

    Mark Dublin

  2. King County Metro Transit Base Chief Retires after 40 years. This is one of the saddest video I’ve ever seen.

      1. I liked it, too. I said it’s sad mostly because of the video’s music is quite somber, and his stab in the back quote.

    1. Sam and everybody else, facing our present situation in its every facet, the trouble with sadness is that it can accomplish nothing except to help us passively accept our defeat. Have to wonder if that sound-track’s not psy-WAR.

      In her whole DNA, COVID-19 is conscienceless, but none can say she’s not straightforward. Could be easier dealing with her than with with the other entities here mentioned. She’s never withheld anybody’s benefits. And wastes no time making her conditions known.

      She’s certainly got no problem with people doing things like unionizing and voting. Why do you think she invented Zoom? She makes her will known, giving workers a healthily fearsome example. So permit me to substitute this sound-track:


      And be sure you read the lyrics all the way to the end. In times like these, for negotiations like this, DIRT has its use!

      Mark Dublin

    1. Perfect. Let’s just be sure we hang the catenary so it’ll be visible from Highway 2 as the train clears Stevens Pass. Considering the size of its barely-moving audience, its own most convincing choice of modes.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Um, Mark. Trains haven’t “cleared” Stevens Pass since 1893 when the first Cascades tunnel was completed.

      1. Strength, speed, and economy in three dimensions. Thank you, Sam. Transit-advocacy should go for training that’ll combine engineering with pure art. Where what’s most efficient requently costs least.

        Looking forward to seeing the likes of this one presented to a public hearing. Would be worth the bus ride into Jefferson or even Clallam County.

        And Skagit’s already got a “Bintherdunthat”. Side-on inclined railcar lift to build Ross Dam. Could give us the incentive to at least start getting escalators right.

        Mark Dublin

  3. I don’t know how sad it is. He is retiring with a decent defined pension benefit. Even though an essential worker he was allowed to use massive amounts of banked paid time off to stay at home the last 8 months or so with full pay and benefits. His complaint is he hoped to cash out that banked leave when he retired — a real issue for city and agency budgets, especially police and fire — and wanted to use sick leave to cover his stay at home so he could cash out the banked leave, when bus drivers were out every day, along with grocery workers, nurses, doctors, and most other essential workers or those who had to work to survive. Someone was doing his job when he was at home, and the video didn’t look like his co-workers who were in the office were young and bulletproof from Covid-19.

    1. Tell me, AM. Did the average worker in Toronto, and their loan account, ever get over the Crash of 2008? Or will a lot of them go HOME-less when the car they’ve been sleeping in gets repossessed? Cruelest thing about a loan-financed economy is that you have to keep your every debt a secret. Even at their most diligent, nobody will hire a LEECH.

      Will they, Daniel?

      Which really should put Toronto’s passenger public in a deadly-strong condition to tell The System’s Elected Ones just this: “You’ve got a choice. Either build us some rails, or go buy yourself a tent. And guess what else. Toronto’s every vacant lot is full!

      Mark Dublin

      1. I could not say. But the Governor of the Bank of Canada at the time (Mark Carney, I believe) did a good job maintaining the economy, as I recall, so Canada was supposed to have come out of the recession better (and faster) than other similar countries. So I would imagine the average Canadian was probably better off than the average American, but that’s just an educated guess.

  4. Daniel, and Martin, is there any way to switch the soundtrack to the melody I just linked? It’s really getting in the way of the presentation.

    One thing digital technology has done for those of us in the driver’s generation, is to make it possible to do high-speed precision machining with one’s study for a workplace. Without risking any physical damage except “carpal tunnel.”

    Let alone the whole field of everything from equipment design to passenger information and assistance. What this driver has in common with enough people of all ages to swing an election is the fact that the wages we should be EARNING are just not THERE!

    Messing with Joe Biden and not you, Daniel, but to a lot of bus and streetcar drivers in the world with names like “Sven” and “Greta”, co-pay-free national health-care is Responsible Center Right. “Progressive?” Dicey. Too bad if it slips into reverse.

    History shows that “Public Works” work. Budget source? Everett to Tacoma and Ballard to North Bend, just grooved-rail some lanes and a lot of catenary stanchions can keep their shields. “Interurban” already starts with an “I-”

    Mark Dublin

    1. The good news Mark is I think you will get your Christmas wish: 2021 will see a big bipartisan infrastructure bill. More good news is much of the funding will go towards those concrete highways you mention and wages will be at prevailing union wages with minority set asides based on federal mandates, but the bad news is there won’t be any rails going into that concrete, and any money coming to Seattle via the state will go toward bridge repair and replacement based on the auditor’s report and general feeling the Seattle Council is not very responsible when it comes to infrastructure maintenance, with maybe a little towards transit, primarily “equity” transit.

  5. Iggyfritz is taking over as CEO of Community Transit?

    I’d expect that means continuing focus on efficient operation and improved bus/LR integration.

  6. Now that we have an approved vaccine, any word on where transit drivers fit in the pecking order? Hopefully, soon after the hospital workers and nursing home staff?

  7. Everyone seems to be tightening their transportation budgets. Fascinating article in today’s Weekend Financial Times about China’s Belt and Road project. From lending $75bn in 2016 they loaned only $4bn last year.
    When lending to flaky dictators etc., it’s hard to get your money back. Welcome to the real world.

    1. Deborah, the most rewarding way to handle the real world is to choose it for the one we also ACT in. If we scratch its head it always starts to purr.

      Mark Dublin

  8. Daniel, Franklin Roosevelt took office four years after the Crash of ’29. COVID’s been here, what, six months? Comparisons with the 1918 flu are sketchy, for a very good reason.

    Liberal Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, who outlawed bi-racial marriage in Washington DC, probably jailed as many people for complaining about the plague as he did for criticizing either World War One or him. Small wonder there’s nothing in writing.

    It would’ve been bad enough if we only had my evil little eight-month-old nemesis to blame. But for many years before her current outbreak, a lot of things were far from going well. Problem with “winging” things is how often one of them falls off.

    My Defense-Highway Restoration plan stems from one observation. How often our dead-slowest traffic is sitting on one “Free-way” or another. How can anybody even call them that with a straight face? “Free” to do what? Certainly not “leave.”

    Leaving the Field of Likelihood wide open and as high as the sky. We’ve got a brand new governing generation coming in, who’ll not likely take contentedly to the political economy we’re handing them. Like the West Seattle Freeway, maybe reparable, but not a joy to anticipate the fixing.

    Transit-wise, events and experiences in my life suggest to me some approaches and courses of action. With road conditions and drivers’ habits now gone “Suicide”, I’ve been “pushin'” quarantine to “scope” some first-hand possibilities.

    An electrified Route 27 will not only give a beautiful ride, but regeneratively power a lot of the homes it passes. And I’d be glad and honored to attend a meeting of Mercer Island’s downtown cafe owners. To get their feeling on restored ferry service. Roanoke Landing is still there and also pretty.

    Relax. I’ve got no grounds to think I’ll live to see these things. But must also respect that your job truly is the harder. History’s hardest thing to prove is called a “Negative.”

    Mark Dublin

  9. Yesterday Mike mentioned that the 577/578 were shifting to Metro at some point, would that mean that they’re dropping Puyallup from the route?

    1. Metro’s 2024 plan doesn’t. ST hasn’t said what it will do, but all the alternatives from 2016 truncate all ST Express routes that overlap with Link. ST hasn’t said what it will do route-wise, but the service hours in ST3 cover only the low scenario. The scenarios are from before ST3 so they assume truncation at KDM; now they’ll probably truncate at Federal Way.

      Metro is now revising the long-range plan so it might change. It has also been a bit coy about express routes. The plan says express routes are typically half-hourly until 7pm. But when I asked a Metro rep about the most surprising ones (Enumclaw, Renton-Snoqualmie), he said a decision hadn’t been made about whether all of them would be all-day or some might be peak-only. However, with Metro’s new emphasis on equity and favoring South King County, I’d assume these routes would be all day. Of course all of this is subject to the 2020 revenue loss, and it depends on a future countywide tax measure for full funding. So budget limitations might lead to these routes not being realized.

  10. It is interesting to see heavy duty trucks and transit going away from drum brakes to disc brakes. I know Metro has both systems. They showed both in the video. Plus it is cool to see people using a cherry picker to remove calipers. You would never see that in a car shop. I have had to do that on a truck also. You can lift them off, but they are so heavy.

    1. Because this posting is dedicated to them, I’m going to give somebody at either Atlantic, Central Base, or LCC this chance to explain the relative advantages of disk and drum.

      My guess is same as for diesel bus, trolleybus, and light-or-heavy rail: Every tool to its use. This had BETTER not go political. Brake choice does not seem to go by ethnicity or party.

      Pretty sure, however, that if scholars keep looking, Ben Franklin left behind an interplanetary kite that didn’t even need a thunderstorm. Though I can already hear complaints about the kite-string spoiling somebody’s view. Floor’s open, gang.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Disc brakes are definitely better on cars. But disc brakes are more complicated on an air brake systems. They cannot be compared equally.

  11. Human Transit is furious at the lack of federal aid to states. “In an absurdity that only Federal policy could create, high ridership in the big agencies before the Covid disaster is exactly why they are in such trouble now. New York, Washington, Boston and possibly others are looking at [transit] service cuts that will simply devastate those cities, undermining essential workers and destroying the access to opportunity without which an equitable economic recovery is impossible. Smaller agencies are in better shape at the moment, but if there isn’t a new funding package soon we’ll see devastating cuts across the US.” that they are probably furious too, but are in roles where they can’t express that.” The comments compare the situations in Japan and France.

    1. On the Fury-Scale(tm), this is nothing compared to this country’s lack of a Federal Government. Fury’s got its purpose.

      Downside? Like the classic “Jet-Assisted Takeoff” among fighter-planes, it’s a one-shot boost to punches, kicks, and running for your life. Fight-or-Flight is not a moral choice. If it were, we’d all be dead.

      But my Russian martial-arts instructor Viktor Sirotin put it this way. “Against any skilled attacker, whoever loses his or her temper first, loses the fight.”

      Which would definitely put to rest the media’s choral wailing of this question: “Why oh why is (US Developer/Defendant-In Chief) DOOOOING this?”

      To be sure the rest of us lose the fight, that’s why. But to be fair to him, the choice is up to us.

      Mark Dublin

    2. It’s almost like we have a dysfunctional system due to right-wing extremists having too much power.

      1. With some company self-inflicted company, Ross. Some experienced and in-charge career Democrats calling me an Extremist. For favoring the health-care that Gothenburg drivers named Olaf and GRETA call Responsible Moderate Right.

        Operator Thunberg? Come on. She sails the Atlantic! You telling me she can’t handle Route 7 Columbia City at Rush hour? Know her chief’s been told to cut her some slack about the autism. Under-wire, a driver’s got to CONCENTRATE!

        Mark Dublin

    3. The wealthiest cities in America need someone to bail them out? Perhaps they should try to bail themselves out first. With the Federal government running a deficit over a trillion dollars this year, the Feds are already doing their Keynesian duty. If the State of New York can’t find $10B for transit, it’s because Albany wants to ignore problems not solve problems. There is plenty of liquidity; every state in the Union can borrow money right now at historically favorable rates.

      Money can be found if there’s a will. The King County executive found $100M under the couch for the convention center because it’s important to him. He could have directed that $100M to transit if it was important to him & his staff.


      1. Cities drive economies that end up giving more to the Feds than they get back in return. This pandemic has hit cities the hardest, and it’s time for the Feds to return the favor. Maybe we can use some of the $40 billion that Trump gave in farm subsidies this year.

      2. Chris is right — cities pay more than they get back.

        The other issue is that they can’t bail themselves out. They aren’t independent countries — they don’t have their own currency. Yes, they could go into debt (although there are limits to that). Ultimately that money has to be paid back, and without a promise to pay it back, no one will accept that debt. This is different than the federal government. The U. S. can run a debt forever, and when things get really bad, they simply print more money (which is essentially what the Fed has been doing for a while, and this started *before* the pandemic). This reduces the value of the currency, but a U. S. bond is still worth the same amount of U. S. dollars (it is just that compared to other currencies, it isn’t as valuable, as inflation eats away some of its worth).

        Thus any local debt needs to be backed up with local taxes. This is where the problem occurs. If you tax too much, you lose businesses, and it all falls apart.

        Consider this example. Let’s say the federal government raised corporate income taxes 5% (over the course of ten years). This would be closer to what they were before Trump took office, but still nowhere as high as before. While there would be grumbling, very few companies would leave the country.

        Now imagine if Seattle did that. Various companies — lead by Amazon — would immediately look for other places to locate. You would see a major shift in wealth to other places. This is why it is very difficult for cities to raise taxes. This is beyond the limits that states (like ours) put on the ability to raise taxes.

        In short, those articles are ridiculous. It assumes that New York City has nothing else to pay for but the subway. It suggests first bailing out the MTA (which is contrary to your suggestion) then it says that “value capture was used to fund system expansions, a broad real-estate tax was used to fund maintenance, and the fare box was dedicated to funding operations.” In short, raise local taxes to pay for all it, neglecting to point out that New York City has some of the highest local taxes in the country, and plenty of other things to pay for.

      3. “Cities drive economies that end up giving more to the Feds than they get back in return. ” I thought that was progressivism? Take from wealth communities and funnel to poorer communities? Or was it take from wealth communities and funnel to favored communities. It’s often hard to tell the difference amidst all the rhetoric.

        Ross – you missed Chuck’s point. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a liquidity problem, but today the cost of money is low for everyone, not just the Feds; the liquidity problem has been resolved since the summer. In the medium/long term, our major transit systems don’t have a revenue problem, they have a cost problem. This is confirmed frequently over in pedestrianobservations. Writing a blank check doesn’t simply kick the can down the road, it makes the problem worse by letting issues fester.

        Look at the specific solution he offered: higher property taxes. Jobs can flee (as they are currently fleeing the Bay Area), but the real estate wealth isn’t moving. If the counter is “property prices might crash,” that’s as vapid as Republicans saying they can’t raise the corporate tax rate because the stock market might crash.

        Sound Transit doesn’t need a bailout. Yes, projects will likely get deferred without free money from the feds, but scarcity is about making hard choices. NYC is the greatest & wealthiest city in America. Shame on the state & city of New York for being at the mercy of a bailout in the first place. They built their prosperity on someone else’s dime and now want just ‘one more hit’ to keep the party going.

      4. I thought that was progressivism? Take from wealth communities and funnel to poorer communities?

        Right, but that’s not what is happening. It would happen if the cities were independent little city countries. Then they would use that money to take care of all the poor people that live there. But that isn’t how it works. Rich people (and the middle class) pay for Republican wars and other projects that largely ignore the cities. Money for the poor (who live in the cities, too) is cut. The cities then try to fill in, but with so much money going to the feds (and the other problems I mentioned) they are limited.

        Come on man, its like you fell asleep for the last forty years. A lot has changed. The federal government doesn’t fund things like they used to. From colleges to transit systems, they have pushed the costs to the local level (New Federalism and all that). But at the same time, the federal government still spends a bundle on the military and security (Republicans don’t mind government waste as long as it goes into the military).

        In the medium/long term, our major transit systems don’t have a revenue problem, they have a cost problem.

        Bullshit. Metro didn’t reduce service because running buses suddenly got more expensive. They don’t have enough revenue.

        This is confirmed frequently over in pedestrianobservations.

        Since when? Alon Levy writes frequently about costs *for new construction*. I’ve never heard him write that it costs too much to run the buses, or even the trains. I don’t remember a single article about how maintenance costs are too high here, either. These are the issues that transit agencies are dealing with, right now.

        Writing a blank check doesn’t simply kick the can down the road, it makes the problem worse by letting issues fester.

        Again, bullshit. The problems have festered because there wasn’t enough revenue. The New York City subway system was underfunded for years. This has nothing to do with the money used to build the Second Avenue Subway, or any new addition. What is true in New York is true in DC and other cities. The problems have festered, and they have festered because of lack of funds. Funding maintenance and operations doesn’t make things worse. It may not fix the long term issues, but it certainly doesn’t make it worse. In the long term they may need more funding — which should be funded by the feds at a higher rate — but providing a decent level of service (and maintenance) would still be a big step in the right direction.

      5. Maybe just to set them an example, AJ, since its been awhile since 2008 and no improvement, its about time THE BANKS bailed themselves out, instead of us with our every endless dollars’ worth of debt.

        Any chance what you call a Bailout, the rest of the world might just call “paying for what you need?” And transit-wise, one man’s tax is definitely another man’s investment. Gender-conscious here. Reason I’m keeping my criticism male is that women already know all these things.

        Mark Dublin

      6. I concur with RossB’s position; it is far better fiscal policy to have the needed additional debt sit on the Treasury’s balance sheet than on state ledgers. And if one is ultimately worried about currency devaluation, I’ll remind them to check the history of the Fed’s actions over the last decade, first to counter the Great Recession and then to prop up the US economy which has struggled with GDP growth during the ensuing recovery. Although the US greenback bears have been predicting the demise of the world’s standard bearer for what seems like forever, despite the Feds monetary policy moves over the last ten years or so those predictions have not come to pass. Conversely, the US dollars woes have mostly been tied “recently” to the larger issue of the weaknesses in the US economy.


        A couple of additional points….

        The federal government actually closed out FY2020 with a deficit over $3.1T. However, even before Covid-19 hit the globe, the US was on pace to exceed its 2019 shortfall and pass the $1T deficit mark. (I just wanted to set the record straight on that point.) Surprise, surprise….the signature achievement of the unified federal government that the Trump administration enjoyed during its first two years, 2017’s tax reform act, has failed to produce its promised economic growth and ensuing revenues. (Where have I seen this movie before?)


        As far as the 2020 liquidity crisis is concerned, that was a relatively sudden but short-lived global experience. The central banks around the world responded appropriately and by the summer the crisis had been resolved. Frankly, I think it’s a bit of a red herring to bring it up now in the context of federal aid to the states.


        “Shame on the state & city of New York for being at the mercy of a bailout in the first place. They built their prosperity on someone else’s dime and now want just ‘one more hit’ to keep the party going.”

        I have no idea as to what this even means. It just seems like a cheap shot rather than an actual argument. I seem to recall ST and KC Metro taking some transit federal bailout funds a few months ago. Where was the same outrage then?

      7. In the 1970s the federal government changed the tax laws to redirect the gains from productivity to the 1%, and that left workers in 2020 with even less purchasing power than they had in the 1970s. Around the same time, corporations changed how they see their responsibilty, from a balance of their shareholders/workers/communities to solely their shareholders, and started throwing money at CEOs, who in turn focused on short-term stock-price gains to benefit their stock options. Also, real estate development went from local financing to Wall Street and derivatives, which demanded a higher return and doesn’t care about the long-term quality of buildings beyond the first twenty years. That and restrictive zoning and nimbys caused housing prices to skyrocket, at the same time the cost of medical care and education skyrocketed, and workers’ aforementioned loss of purchasing power, and federal reduction in support to states or leaving it to a last-minute coin toss (like the current coronavirus relief bill). That all is what led to the current plight of residents and states that can barely make ends meet.

        Most states have balanced-budget requirements so they can’t run an operations debt. Bonds are mostly for long-term capital projects. But the problems states, transit agencies, and residents are facing now is operational — keeping buses running, paying rent, getting food, etc. And the businesses that have seen their customer base suddenly evaporate.

        There are excesses in some union contracts, but the time to address those is not during a public health emergency. At the same time, I would favor the government simply paying cost-burden people’s rent. That would allow the existing landlord-bank-staff systems to function in their usual way. I’d hold my nose because I think some rents are an excessive windfall caused by restrictive zoning — but again, the time to address that is not during a public health emergency. An emergency that’s equivalent to a military attack or natural disaster that the federal government would step up for.

        The problem isn’t the national debt. Other countries would applaud if the US borrowed more to give pandemic relief, fix our neglected infrastructure, improved our social safety net, and migrated to a less carbon-intensive infrastructure — just as they have done. It should be OK for every country except the United States? Once we’ve done that, the economy would improve, and Americans would be less anxious. Less anxiety would mean less extremism, less national instability, and more certainty that the US will pay all its debts. All of that would make bondholders happier.

        And much of the national debt is because of the Trump tax cuts. The same thing happened under Reagan and Bush II. The Republicans cut taxes for the 1% and ballooned the deficit, and the Democrats followed them and reversed the tax cuts and the deficit fell dramatically. During Clinton there was actually a surplus, and Wall Street was freaked out that the debt would be paid off entirely, and it begged the government to keep a small deficit so that last-resort failsafe bonds would still be available. (A minimal guaranteed something for nothing in their yields, paid by taxpayers to Wall Street.) Now the Biden administration can, if Congress agrees, reverse the Trump tax cuts, and a large part of the pre-covid deficit would evaporate, and it would make it easier to pay off the covid debt too.

        As for Social Security and Medicare, it comes back to, what kind of society do we want to have? Social Security was enacted because of the acute poverty facing many seniors. And nowadays many seniors don’t have the fallback options they had then: a family house and/or adult children who could help support them. Nowadays the adult children are living paycheck to paycheck, in another state, or they don’t take their responsibility to their relatives as seriously as they used to. If we just let Social Security and Medicare fail or decline because of debt paranoia, we’d be going back to that situation. That would lead to millions of seniors — many of them disabled — joining the ranks of homeless or living in cars. Again, other countries don’t do this. They have more robust social programs, and still manage to make their economies function and keep their debts manageable. The difference is that those countries put their people first — their voters first — rather than putting well-connected corporate lobbyists and libertarian-ideology fanatics first.

      8. “Sound Transit doesn’t need a bailout.”

        That is not the issue. The issue isn’t whether ST3 projects are delayed by a few years. It’s whether Metro has the service hours to keep buses running now. And the same for CT, PT, New York, Washington DC, LA, Atlanta, SLC, the rural agencies in western Washington, etc. ST is in a better place than most because its budget is mostly the large capital projects, so it can shift a portion of that to operations until the economy recovers. Metro can’t do that because it doesn’t have any comparable large capital projects to delay. (Except the bus electrification program, which I would delay, but the county electeds decided the opposite.)

      9. “Come on man, its like you fell asleep for the last forty years.”

        Exactly. While I might tend to give some leniency for youth, the 40-year history is out there for anyone to examine and thus one’s age is not a blanket excuse by any means. The Cons have done a good job of selling the Reagan mythology (and burying the Iran-Contra offenses) over the last several decades. Trickle-down economics has always been bullshit and there was a time when honest Cons knew that and actually pushed back. Today it’s heresy in that party to even suggest it.

        “The New York City subway system was underfunded for years.”

        Decades actually, but yeah. One of the things I was involved with back when I worked in the NYS Legislature in the early 80s was language over a state funding package for the MTA. That was the start of the mid 80s revitalization program for the system, which was still woefully inadequate given the state of the system’s infrastructure and assets by then. But at least it was a start (under Gov. Carey and continued under his successor Gov. Cuomo).

    4. Mike, surely you understand by now that policies which gut transit are a feature for Republicans, not a “bug”. Very few Republicans still live in cities with effective transit. If they did, they wouldn’t ride it anyway.

      1. That’s the stereotype, but if you look closely at the numbers, Republicans in cities still do exist. In fact, the density of Republicans per acre may paradoxically be greatest in the large cities which are Democratic strongholds.

        As an example, imagine a 20-storey residential high rise in Manhattan with 10 units per floor. Imagine one person per floor being a Republican (a very low bar to meet). That’s still 20 Republicans in an area of land that, in the middle of Trump country, would be have just two Republicans (one house with an extra large yard).

      2. Yeah, but Tom is right from a political standpoint. Generally speaking, those Republicans are motivated by tax policy. They are OK with gutting transit, as long as their taxes are low. There are also a handful of traditional Republicans, who will vote for most Republicans, regardless of what they do.

        By and large, those cities are in states that are solidly Democratic (New York, Illinois, California). There are exceptions (Pennsylvania, Texas) — swing states where Republicans could use the support of Republican voters in the city. But they figure they will win over way more votes by giving suburban voters additional road projects than they will be rescuing the transit system.

        Of course one of the big strategies is to blame all the problems on local politicians, an idea that many urban Republicans would support, given that the local politicians are almost overwhelmingly Democratic. Even when Republicans are in charge of big cities (Bloomberg) there was little interest from federal Republicans in helping the city, or any of its infrastructure. This would run counter to the main political philosophy that has driven the party since 1980 — Reaganism. This extreme right wing reactionary approach includes an anti-urban agenda, as it fits the Nixon era stereotype that the national Republican Party has worked hard to create.

        It would be quite reasonable for the Republican Party to embrace someone like Bloomberg and focus on creating well run, well financed transit systems, as well as other government programs. But that just isn’t how the modern Republican Party is organized.

        As Norquist put it: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub”. This is a mainstream Republican idea. As Steve Kroft wrote: “Norquist has been responsible, more than anyone else, for rewriting the dogma of the Republican Party.” So while I refer to it as Reaganism, it can be considered Norquistism (although that is much harder to pronounce).

      3. I wonder whether the 10% of people in Manhattan who are Republicans even use the transit system, or if they just drive and take taxis everywhere.

        Some could even be rich people living elsewhere, using their second or third home as their official address.

      4. Cities don’t pay taxes: citizens and businesses do. Cities receive federal and state funding but don’t send money to the state or federal government, the citizens do. Because of the density businesses and citizens in large cities do pay a lot of state and federal taxes, and cities are expensive to maintain and have high densities of poor residents who are expensive. It is often said no job is harder than to run a large city.

        Ross is correct there are caps on the amount of debt stares allow cities to take on. Comparatively WA has reasonable amounts of debt, mostly bonds that have low interest rates because they are tax exempt. .

        What isn’t reflected is the unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities some states will never be able to pay. Some of this covered by allowing states to assume an annual 8% investment return which is around 2% too high over the long term that compounded annually is huge.

        Also unaccounted for is unfunded infrastructure repair and replacement. The council should have reserved more infrastructure spending during the economic times, but Progressives are just terrible at that. They wait until something fails. (Republicans have their faults too, like Kansas destroying education will silly tax cuts).

        This problem comes from public sector unions and local (Democrat) politicians who benefit each other without regards to long term fiscal responsibility. A politicians definition of the long term is the next election.

        We saw this in Seattle in which police officers were allowed to gorge on overtime two years before retirement to goose the pension formula as though that is free money.

        Some states like Illinois are now having difficult funding choices. Since courts have held the pensions can not be reformed deep cuts to other services from education to transit are necessary even though Illinois and Chicago are vey high tax. This drives business away because the poor education is reflected in the workforce, poor infrastructure. and high taxes.

        The federal government acts like debt is irrelevant which is not true unless GDP exceeds the debt growth rate. The U.S. just added $3 trillion in direct debt. Most states have exhausted their unemployment trust funds.

        The reality for the next decade or so is more belt tightening. During good economic times the debate is where to spend. In bad economic times the debate is where to cut. Too often we have Republican presidents when the debate is where to spend (which includes tax cuts) and Democrat Presidents when the debate is where to cut, (although I am not sure Biden understands that yet, and the Seattle council never will), and that is not their strong suit.

      5. This problem comes from public sector unions and local (Democrat) politicians who benefit each other without regards to long term fiscal responsibility.

        That is simply the symptom of the states being underfunded. When you choice is draconian cutbacks on basic services or sky high tax rates, you tend to kick the can down the road. There are several problems. One is the shift of responsibility to the states, which is a form of unfunded liability in itself (New Federalism). Of course, Republicans would say that they should just do away with public schools, clinics and social workers, just as they have gutted federal funding for education. After all, if college students can get student loans, why not school kids and the homeless? Let the churches and charities take care of the down and out, just as they’ve done a wonderful job of taking care of the homeless these many years.

        Another is the stupid war on crime, which hit states like California and Texas really hard. It costs a lot money to put all those people in jail. You can’t lead the world in incarceration on the cheap.

        Then there are cities that struggle on both ends. They have an increasing number of struggling citizens (the result of racist policies and a lack of safety net) as well as plenty of crime that goes along with it. So in a city like Chicago, it sounds quite reasonable to spend a bunch more money on the police. Unfortunately, even that isn’t working out that well, as a huge part of the budget goes into settling lawsuits (https://www.chicagoreporter.com/chicago-spent-more-than-113-million-on-police-misconduct-lawsuits-in-2018/).

        So no, it isn’t that the government workers get paid too much, or that they have decent pensions. It is all these wars. Not only the real wars, but the war on drugs, the war on crime, and of course, the war on federal programs that Reagan started about forty years ago.

      6. What Ross neglects to mention is the increased amount of taxes going to the federal government compared to the past is for social security, Medicare, and Medicaid which funds assisted and nursing home care for the elderly poor.

        The percentage of military spending compared to GDP has stayed the same; it is the surge in federal spending on the elderly, many of whom are wealthy that is driving federal spending.

        Not only that but the FICA payroll tax is incredibly regressive. A worker pays 7.625% of every dollar in FICA taxes no matter what their income, and the employer pays the same amount no matter how profitable. The FICA tax ends at around $136k today, and only applies to wages, not passive income.

        Basically the difference between the 1950’s and today is the federal funds that once went to infrastructure now goes to social services for the elderly with no means testing except for Medicaid and no progressivity.

      7. “Basically the difference between the 1950’s and today is the federal funds that once went to infrastructure now goes to social services for the elderly”

        It went to tax cuts for the 1%. Costs for the elderly have gone up because the percentage of elderly has gone up as the Baby Boomers retire, as we always knew it would. The way we treat seniors should not depend on the size of the senior cohort.

        “with no means testing except for Medicaid and no progressivity.”

        That was intended to make the law acceptable to a broader section of taxpayers. Now you want to use it against the programs?

        The problem isn’t that some wealthy elderly are getting some Social Security money they don’t need. That was the compromise when the law was enacted. The problem is that the cost of housing, medical care, and other necessities seniors use is rising faster than general inflation or Social Security payments. That’s the problem that needs to be addressed somehow.

        Who cares if some rich people get some money they don’t need? There could be a citizens’ campaign to encourage them to donate it to charity or other worthwhile causes. They could even give it to the IRS to reduce the debt, through the account it has available for this purpose.

      8. “The reality for the next decade or so is more belt tightening. During good economic times the debate is where to spend. In bad economic times the debate is where to cut.”

        This is literally the opposite of basic, sane counter-cyclical fiscal policy. Budget cuts in times of economic contraction just prolong and worsen recessions.

        Say Metro (and all the other transit agencies) cut transit service substantially, laying off a bunch of workers. Those laid off workers now have less money to spend, meaning that every business they would usually buy goods and services from now faces less aggregate demand. Those businesses cut their own expenses in turn by laying off workers, cutting pay, and reducing capital investments.

        Further, those laid-off workers will go looking for jobs in an economy with unemployment well above its natural rate. With this added competition for labor, wage rates decrease, leading to even less aggregate demand, more lay-offs, and so on.

        Combine the impact of government layoffs across the entire economy with the fact that the Fed has little ability to further stimulate the economy through monetary stimulus (real interest rates on Treasury bonds are already negative), and you have the recipe for a deflationary spiral that dampens economic recovery for a decade.

        You may be right that the next decade will involve “belt tightening” but, if so, this will be an absolute policy failure. It will mean a persistently weaker economy, higher unemployment, and lower incomes than would be the case if the federal government simply sold a bunch of Treasury bonds at negative real interest rates and distributed the funds to keep people employed.

        The reason why the recovery from the Great Recession was so slow was because inane austerity mindsets like yours ruled the day. I hope we don’t make a similar mistake this time around.

      9. Daniel, Social Security is surprisingly progressive. The formula for computation of benefits gives 90% of the first $996 of averaged monthly compensation over the 35 highest years of work on which taxes were levied. It then gives 32% of the next $5,006 of averaged monthly income and 15% of any remaining averaged monthly income. Very few people make it into the 15% bracket.

        Thirty-five years ago almost nobody’s monthly income exceeded $6000.

        What this means is that people who have made a lot of money for many years get a relatively small slice of their average income from Social Security during retirement, while people who made little can at least in theory get a benefit of 90% of their averaged compensation.

        Right now the Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25, providing and income of $1250 per month on average. It did not reach $2.65/hour until 1978, yielding a bit over $450/month. A person would have to have worked for more than the minimum wage for a good part of this particular period to end up with an Average Compensation of $996/month, but if one did so, that person would get $896/month in Social Security benefits.

        Anybody making wages which average out to less than $996/month is going to get 90% of what he or she made a few years before reaching retirement. Few people will get 90% of their actual final income of course because of the long averaging period.

      10. @JesseS
        “I hope we don’t make a similar mistake this time around.”

        I share that aspiration. Your post was spot on. Sadly, so many people, including commenter DJT apparently, just don’t get it. At least 70% of our national GDP comes from consumption these days. Stimulus plans that put funds directly into the hands of households/employees in one fashion or another helps the economy keep churning, just as you explained in your comment above. The money spent by the federal government goes right back into the local economy, meaning the stimulus funds have served their purpose. Worrying about deficit spending or adding to the accumulated debt at times like these is exactly the wrong approach.

  12. Caught on video. Thanksgiving. Passenger on (I believe), the A or F Line, stabs another rider. Suspect still out there.

    1. I forgot to add the irony that many public pensioners in states like Illinois and NY move the states like Florida where there is no income or inheritance tax, and a lower cost of living.

  13. Thanks for the Public Service, Sam. So here’s some footage that will certainly interest you, or at least give you some perspective:


    Know something else? Ever since the incident, he’s been claiming self-defense. Not to get political, but also just a reasonable conjecture.

    If his name had happened to be antifa’s “Michael Reinhoel of Lacey,” might not the police have shot HIM thirty-five times instead of accepting his surrender? To the applause of a certain Attorney General who’s himself just turned disloyal?

    Look him up on wikipedia. We’re trusting you for Truth.

    Mark Dublin

  14. AM, my warning was in support of your assessment of the transit system, and not at all critical of the Government of Canada.

    Democracy’s own preventive maintenance. What your one public servant can’t accomplish, their successor might have better luck. Though surely nothing anti-Francophone to note that Robespierre might’ve used a little more tact.

    Pretty sure his own last thought was to agree.

    Mark Dublin

  15. Um, Tom T? Between the beginning of the Universe and 1893, no train had ever cleared Stevens Pass at all. Proof that given time, many an oversight can be corrected.

    Perspiration-zero. These things get solved by events themselves. In this case, the steady irrevocable self-conversion of a major scenic state highway into an ever-slowing vertical parking lot.

    But Tom, somebody really wants to get in touch with you:


    The man was of a generation of youth-oriented illustrators who fought Hitler before so-doing was “American.” Wasn’t his own decision that Captain Marvel fought the mob.

    When the Brown-Shirts (not Olympia’s dirty-shirted “Three Percenters”) had already topped Capone’s worst body-count. You’ve got a proud lineage. Make the best of it! He’s askin’ me what’s taking you so long!

    Mark Dublin

  16. And that’s Michael Reinoehl. Best not to mis-spell the dead. Shooter? Maybe. Murder or self-defense, up to a judge and jury none of whom is the US Attorney General.

    Past-practice? Union-haters don’t see any harm in “Working Out of Grade.” Ingrate too. All that “Un-Stopped Stealing?” Shame on you, Bill Barr? “Ratted out” the Chief who’d just appointed you! Almost as bad as this whole week’s High Court Disappointers he’d also just Appointed!

    Talk to Pfizer. They can maybe find a cure for THAT!

    Mark Dublin

  17. I’ve got it! A catenary-free solution for my US 2 congestion relief! And we’ve read the concerns and are responding. No way anybody’s scenery will be blocked by unsightly overhead, as so often happens along the Route 36 on Beacon Hill.


    Emissions? A car full of batteries could easily be coupled on, with charging stations spread out as needed. Powering what indeed used to be a steam engine, but now completely modernized. Including harmless puffy steam just for the kids. Only enough power to work the whistle. Which every single kid will get to do.

    “Stuck?” It’s just a state of mind.

    Mark Dublin

  18. Does the number of Metro bus cancellations this morning seem abnormally high to anyone? My texts have been blowing up with alerts for 3 hours straight. What’s going on, are a lot of operators coming down with covid? Is it a coincidence that Thanksgiving was two weeks ago?

    1. The same here.

      Normally there are some in the morning and afternoon rush hours but the cancellations have continuing all day long and on routes throughout Metro’s system.

      1. Adding to my post that I have had over 125 or more messages today about Metro cancelling trips today and it is all over their system and areas and it is continuing through the late afternoon.

    2. I have alerts set on two routes. One had two early morning cancellations, the other had an afternoon one. I thought the first ones were just a one-off issue, but maybe not.

  19. The Urbanist ran a recent article about the RapidRide J (AKA 70) changes (https://www.theurbanist.org/2020/12/11/sdot-presents-abbreviated-rapidride-j-plan-now-opening-in-2025-or-2026/). One of the interesting things the author noted was how the plans are designed for future expansion (north). This changes my perspective a bit.

    For our RapidRide program, the bus stops are improved. They typically add nicer shelters, reader boards (that show you when the next bus is coming) and ORCA readers (for off-board payment). North of Campus Parkway, the only stop with extra amenities would be Roosevelt. Thus they won’t be spending a bunch on fancy stops, only to abandon them years later (if the line does get extended).

    Apparently the stop on 45th doesn’t have enough room, and the stop on 43rd is being spiffed up by Sound Transit. The only other stop is the northbound (outbound) layover, which obviously doesn’t need any special treatment. So this is more or less what would happen even if this was the permanent plan.

    In my previous comments, I forgot about the changes made to other bus routes. One of the key transfers is to the 44 (easiest to describe in two broad terms, Ballard and Eastlake). Ballard to Eastlake is ideal — it is a same stop transfer. Eastlake to Ballard will requite the same sort of walk as Eastlake to Link. Rides will cross three intersections and one short block. Fortunately, the intersections have stop signs (not signals) so it isn’t that bad (simply crossing the Ave or 15th takes a lot longer). This wouldn’t be the case if the bus kept its current routing.

    I think the weird thing about the change is that the 70 is now scheduled to be altered twice in a few years. First, with the Northgate restructure (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gaHp1o3ly4GI5KLUCJ57XIhiNWYhSvKb/view) and second, with the change to RapidRide. I think this is nuts. I think they should either follow the new path of the 70 (in the U-District) or the new 70 should look like the new RapidRide J. The former would mean a few more stops in the U-District that don’t have the fancy RapidRide treatment. The latter would simply be setting up the system for the future.

    If nothing else, I hope that the RapidRide route assumes no new wire. It is bad enough that wire is being moved for the 44 (a route deviation I don’t support) but it would be crazy to move it again for the J (and move it in the future if the J goes farther north). The bus should be able to run off wire, and then connect in at 12th or 45th.

    1. Stop signs on a route whose whole purpose is to be fast? And that’s a good thing? Sounds kind of Federal Way-to-Tukwila International to me. Lot of “Branded” ….stops. Problem’s basic Physics.

      “Inertia” really does apply to both Motion and Rest. Main point about which is that they both take extra energy to make the move. So: Show me one Pre-emptible and then we’ll talk.

      Mark Dublin

      1. The bus doesn’t go past the stop signs, the pedestrians do. The bus should be fast as will the walking. Here is the route again: https://i0.wp.com/www.theurbanist.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020_1201_SDOT_RRLineJ_U-District_Map_vF-002.png. The turns are at the beginning and end of the line — it doesn’t effect the through-routers.

        It would be different if the bus cut over and then back to get to 65th, but that won’t happen. If the bus goes past 65th then it will stay on the Roosevelt couplet, which should be faster (and could be a lot faster if bus/BAT lanes are added here and there).

        It is about as fast as you can make that loop. Whether it is the best way to make it depends on where you are going.

    2. My concern is transfers between the J and 67. Southbound looks OK if there’s a same-stop transfer at 42nd. That’s two blocks before the 67 turns left to Campus Parkway, so hopefully it will make the stop. Northbound, the J stops at 11th & Campus Parkway, the 67 joins 11th a block further north at 41st, and the next J stop is a block further east at 12th & 43rd. So for people going from Eastlake to Roosevelt, it looks like there’s room for improvement. (I used to make that trip from my dad’s on Eastlake to my apt at 56th, or reciprocally to go to physical therapy on Eastlake or to the clubs on south Eastlake, and others would go to the library or Monkey Pub or Friendly Foam Shop or Roosevelt businesses between 50th and 65th. When I lived there the 66 was still running so it was a one-seat ride.)

      Regarding the southbound left turn, the westbound 11/43/49 have stopped making the stop at 4th & Pine when they turn left on 3rd, which screws up transfers at 3rd & Pine. Worse, sometimes they stop there and sometimes they don’t, so you always have to ask the driver, “Will you stop on 4th?” With the 10 it’s not as much of an issue because it almost always wraps around 2nd so it makes the 3rd & Pine stop. But the 43 doesn’t anymore, and the 11 has gotten iffy in the mornings.) I wouldn’t want the same to happen to southbound 67+J transfers.

      1. Right now the 67 stops at 42nd, so it should be a same stop transfer heading south. They will be able to leverage the work already done (https://goo.gl/maps/kGoBTsgMGNxvdv3Y7).

        Northbound, the best bet is to ride to the end, and walk along 43rd and 11th (https://goo.gl/maps/NvJRdLk7iSiMGKuRA). Not great, but not horrible either (no street crossings, and relatively pleasant walking). Once you get to the corner, you can see the bus coming, which gives you a better chance of waving for them to stop if the driver is about to pull away.

        It is better overall in that regard. Right now, southbound is a bit of a pain (https://goo.gl/maps/VHVjbrKQ35YCT3Ci8). Northbound is shorter, but still requires crossing Campus Parkway (https://goo.gl/maps/Spr2GGjFFpMapEV78). With this new routing, not only is there less overall time on foot, but less time on the bus (as it deviates to Campus Parkway). It isn’t as good as a through-route, but people just trying to continue on the Roosevelt couplet come out ahead. It is folks headed to campus, or trying to “round the horn” (to the hospital or stadium) that have extra walking.

      2. How many riders will be going from 55th and Roosevelt (say) to Eastlake and Roanoke (or vice versa) such that the “through” transfer matters? The Roosevelt couplet buses used to run through but Metro diverted them to HSS when Link opened. How many people did that hurt versus those who were benefited by the direct connection to Red Square and the Med Center?

        I imagine that peak riders and evening riders liked the direct to downtown routing, but the all-day riders strongly prefer the University-orientation.

      3. It’s a grid corridor, with impressive density (for Seattle) and a wide variety of commercial destinations. The Eastlake density isn’t just on Eastlake; it extends a few blocks west to the water. Roosevelt is the center of the U-District post-upzone area. The current 67+70 situation is substandard because both directions require turning to Campus Parkway and back, and crossing the street (three intersections). The off-turn is defensible for long-distance multi-county trips like North Seattle to Aurora Village to Edmonds CC, but stands out like a sore thumb for shortish trips like 55th to Lynn Street.

  20. Thanks, RossB. Fact is, I had San Francisco’s N-Judah in mind. Whose major problem was full-bore light-rail Vertols on tracks conceived for PCC’s. Kind of got itself a breather now.

    Have we got any pictures of what our next procurement for this project will look like? Looking forward to some visuals.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Have we got any pictures of what our next procurement for this project will look like?

      The older pictures go into great detail: https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/TransitProgram/RapidRide/Roosevelt/2020_1130_RRJ_ConceptDrawings.pdf. These take it up to University Bridge.

      The main project page (https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/transit-program/transit-plus-multimodal-corridor-program/rapidride-roosevelt) focuses on everything north of the bridge. For example, this: https://www.seattle.gov/Images/Departments/SDOT/TransitProgram/Roosevelt%20Rapid%20RIde/2020_1201_SDOT_RRLineJ_U-District_Map_vF%20(003)(0).png. There are also overview pictures as well.

      1. Thanks, Sam. Couple thoughts, though. Transparency should be taken as a given. Bad sign is when something gets painted over. But I really wish the view I’d get would be mainly of the repair work in progress, not just noticed and discussed.

        Mark Dublin

  21. Can anybody give me one good reason we should care what Republicans think about anything? Who cares about the Whig vote anymore! I still do think, though, that what’s really, really Radical could definitely be Republican.

    Like they really really really were before. Proudly called themselves that. Second Amendment? Truly-tested in action. “Open Carry” really does belong aboard a battleship. The Union fleet made an AR15 look sort of like a pop-gun. gun.

    And just link yourselves to Thaddeus Stevens.image. Between him, Joe Biden, and Mitch McConnel, who would YOU want on your websites and bumper-stickers?

    One Equity problem, though. When Republicans brought down upon us the Civil Service, a lot of loyal contributors really suffered a loss of influence for their lack of education. It’s all Bob LaFollette’s fault. Shows what happens when you let a Progressive have their way with you.

    And as to Transit? Acquiring 1.3 miles of light-rail-grade transit tunnel (bus-only would’ve been a lot cheaper) at the height of a building boom without having to condemn an inch? Sorry, Democrats, but James R. Ellis did it. Like I always say, to every tool their use.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Democrats are the Whigs now. The Republicans rave on about “National Greatness” which indeed is a hold-over from their Whig roots. But they don’t DO anything about it.

      1. Their concept of national greatness contradicts the plain English meaning. A normal observer would point to our 231-year adherence to democracy and electeds giving up power at the end of their term, putting a man on the moon, creating a covid vaccine in one year, helping Germany and Japan recover after the war, having an open society and independent media, etc.

        When Trump said “Make America Great Again”, I couldn’t even understand what it meant. He offered an appointee candidate “control over domestic and/or foreign policy” while he would dedicate himself to making America great. What does that mean? Over several months it became clear it meant make America white-supremacist again. That’s the only explanation that explains the most facts, as far as i can tell.

        The reasonable Republicans who created the party as an anti-slavery party, and those like Eisenhower and Dan Evans, have been driven out of the party as RINOs, left the party in disgust, or have little power to influence its policies, and are just some 20% of its primary voters. People talk about the inexplicable rise of Trump, but the 2016 primary voters rejected 20 traditional and tea-party candidates for Trump. Conversely, the 2020 Democratic primary voters rejected 20 progressive and new candidates for Biden, who is the closest thing to mid 20th century reasonableness we have.

        But it’s not just the 2016 primary voters changing their minds. it started with the Democrats supporting the Civil Rights Act and school desegregation, and segregationists gradually switching to the Republican party. They merged with the anti-New Deal faction from the 1930s. Nixon brought his anti-elite grudge and dog whistles. Goldwater tried to make it libertarian and failed, but he was supported by the segregationists, and the Ayn Randian movement later gained more influence. (But it lost Rand’s atheism in the collision with the Religious Right.) Gingrich followed with the “accuse your opponents of doing what you’re doing” tactic. Cheney and Trump and McConnell adopted that tactic. All that has become 70% of the party.

        I hope some Never Trumper Republicans will be able to lead the party in a new direction, but the party’s anti-democratic, anti-half-of-Americans tendencies go back decades and remain a simmering danger to the republic. That matters far more than that some Republican presidents and governors decades ago were like Eisenhower or Evans, or that some like Kim Wyman have retained their integrity. (And I voted for her because she remains good and competent.)

      2. @Mike Orr
        Excellent summary, Mike!
        I know you didn’t mean to include an exhaustive list of “progressive” achievements but still I would add Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act to the list. I don’t think there’s been any federal program that has lifted as many people out of poverty as Social Security has. My parents lived through the Great Depression so I’ve heard their first-hand stories what things were like during that era and then the transformational nature of the FDR years.

        I’m a born and bred NYC liberal and I wear that label proudly. When I was considering moving to Seattle from the east coast some 30+ years ago, I asked my sibling who was already living here by then what the politics of the state were as that’s an important factor to me. He explained the “Cascade divide” and the rest of it and within a few months I was preparing for a 2-week visit. I came out, toured the area, assessed some job and education opportunities, had some more conversations with my brother and his partner and ultimately made up my mind to make the move. I have never regretted this decision and am pleased with the direction in which the state has moved politically over the last 30 some years. (My first Presidential cycle as a Washingtonian was the 1988 contest of Bush 1 vs Dukakis, which if you recall was an electoral landslide for the former. However, Washington (and Oregon) said “NO” to Papa Bush and that helped cement my decision to relocate here.)

        All of this is a lead-in to my real point here. Growing up in NYC in the 60s, I was represented at the state and federal levels by two very decent (and accomplished) Republican politicians who actually believed in public service for the right reasons, Senator Jacob Javits and Gov. Nelson Rockefeller*. Both men, long gone, would not recognize the GOP as it exists today, and, frankly, would be disgusted by the behavior of its members and particularly its leadership. The Cons as a party have moved so far to the right that their “centrists” today would be far to the right of politicians like Sen. Javits, Gov. N. Rockefeller, Sen. Dole, etc.

        *Wiki links:

  22. And could we pretty please just cut the crying? Can anybody on earth run an ongoing business without borrowing?

    Which in addition to cash, you always repay in value that’s not money? A road- including Rail- can help you earn money just by being there. Bringing you customers, for instance, and bringing your employees to work so you won’t have to?

    There are honest and competent ways to run a business, and also ways that aren’t. Like Bob Barr or not, at least we can take a leaf from him. The fraud he was ordered to look for, he did not find, nor did all the rest of his appointer’s disappointers. Massive criminal malfunction, just FAKE NEWS.

    Don’t like the way somebody’s handling their office, no time like the present to start replacing them in 2024. And since your kid can be a legislator at 18, take his i-pod away from him and get him off the couch. If it’s a “she”, she’s likely already filed.

    Mark Dublin

    1. In response to Mike’s post gerrymandering and just more isolation between different political persuasions has resulted is many more “safe” seats. This marginalizes moderate voters in both parties. Now an incumbent’s biggest fear is a primary challenge from someone to the left or right of them. Frank Chopp’s race was a good example. This has created the polarization we see at almost every level.

      Biden’s campaign was a good example of a race the Dems knew would be close (except Pelosi who left $2.2 trillion on the table). The Dems had to win which meant fickle suburban voters so they cut out Sanders (again) and went with a boring and uninspiring caretaker who has appointed a cabinet of qualified centrist caretakers. Hardly what progressives wanted, but were willing to take anyone other than Trump.

      2024 will likely be an open Presidential election with both sides desperate to win, but with plenty of zealot candidates alongside the likely candidates so the primaries will be extreme politics.

      . The Republicans have learned that if they run conservative women without the nuttiness and character flaws of Trump they win. Nikki Haley is more conservative than Trump but comes across as a “passionate conservative” who would be tough for Dems to run against. Dem prosecutors in NY may give the Republicans a huge gift and put Trump in prison without a cell phone.

      1. The parties aren’t balanced. The center runs through the rightward half of the Democratic party. Both parties gerrymandered and both conservatives and liberals have myopic news sites, but the Republicans took gerrymandering to a new level in 2010, and only the right goes for an alternative media universe, conspiracy theories, railroading over democracy, obstructionism, economic/science blinders, scorched-earth policy, and throwing half of Americans under the SUV. As one person put it, “Republicans watch Fox News, read the New York Post and Breitbart and listen to Rush Limbaugh.” Democrats listen to NPR and read the New York Times as much as MSNBC.” A left-wing radio network (Air America) failed because not enough people listened to it.

        To me the Democrats are basically the same center-and-left party they’ve been for seventy years. Liberal utopianism was riding high in the late 1960s and 1970s but crashed and burned under Reagan. The Democrats were so scared of the rise of Reagan’s conservative movement that they became conservative-lite all the way up until 2017, when the left finally began making serious inroads. I’d say the Democratic party now is basically deciding how liberal it wants to be, and is trying different things.

        When I asked my mom about Bernie, she said, “I hope he’s not nominated because he’d lose in a landslide like McGovern.” The left disagrees, but there are a lot of Democrats like that, probably the majority. Much if the left isn’t even in the Democratic party, they’re in parties like the Greens or Socialists or Naderites, or they’re anarchists who don’t vote.

        My favorite in the primary, Elizabeth Warren, is lumped with the left but I’d say she’s more like a centrist who wants to finish the New Deal. Likewise, there’s a gap between Bernie and his supporters. Bernie wants a social democratic society and is willing to compromise. His followers are way off in identity politics. His “socialist” rhetoric is problematic because both the right and left misinterpret it in different ways. He means social democratic like Scandinavia, but Scandinavia says, “We’re not socialist, we’re capitalist.” People focus on Bernie’s “We need a revolution”, but he was just pointing out that to enact his poicies he’d need a Democratic House and Senate and a fillibuster-proof majority. Otherwise he’d compromise and get what he could done, as he has done in the Senate. Pramila Jayapal has also impressed me more than I expected, she went in with leftist rhetoric and this month it flew up again, but what she does is more compromising and pragmatic, being willing to work with whoever will work with her.

        In offices across the country, some Democratic moderates got primaried by leftist challengers, but many others didn’t. Overall it’s mostly moderate, with some leftist inroads here and there. It will be clearer in 2022, after we see how much of the Warren/Bernie agendas Biden adopts, and how much influence the left has on the party.

      2. “When I asked my mom about Bernie, she said, “I hope he’s not nominated because he’d lose in a landslide like McGovern.” ”

        I have to say I agree with your mom. I tried to convince a few Bernie supporters at my local caucus back in the 2016 cycle of that likely outcome but to no avail. They weren’t really even interested in listening to these types of pragmatic arguments, which were largely met with “ok, boomer” type of responses. The electoral vote calculus today is also very different than it was in 1972, and not in a candidate like Bernie’s favor. (I still don’t know what his EC path would have been.) And now, four years later, Sanders would have been facing an incumbent President whose favorable/unfavorable ratings have remained very consistent over his tenure despite all of the scandals, incompetence and even an impeachment. So, yeah, I agree with your mom; Sanders would have lost in an EC landslide in 2020 as well.

  23. If you go to Metro’s Twitter page, you’ll see dozens and dozens of cancelled trips today. In just the last hour, there were 10 different alerts of at least 10 different cancelled trips on various routes throughout the county. Here’s an example of one of the alerts that was posted in the last hour.

    “Transit Alert – Route 226 to the Eastgate P&R scheduled to leave the Bellevue TC at 6:45, 9:40 and 11:50 PM will not operate this evening.”

    I was curious if this number of cancelled routes is normal, so I look at Metro’s Twitter page one week ago, Monday, Dec 7th. 5 cancelled trips during the entire day. So, 5 trips cancelled last Monday. Possibly hundreds of cancelled trips today?

    1. I heard that earlier today. I don’t know the answer to your question but I’m sure glad we will soon be done with Chao who has notoriously slow-walked FAST Act appropriations as well as transit projects in the pipeline. Good riddance.

    2. A mayor of South Bend Indiana is federal transportation secretary? What are his qualifications for this job? This is like appointing the AG of CA to be Sec. of Health and Human Services when he has no medical background, and has never run a large federal dept.

      Some of Biden’s appointments are purely political while some have been very qualified. Ordinarily HUD (Ben Carson), HHS (not during a pandemic, although most of the heavy work on the vaccine is done, and J&J will apply for emergency approval for a one dose vaccine in early January, and most think that vaccine is the game changer longtime due to J&J’s manufacturing capacity) and Transportation are lesser Departments Presidents try to meet their quotas with.

    3. Oh, and while Mayor Pete wouldn’t be an ideal pick in my book, the bar certainly isn’t very high here to be a better Transportation Secretary than Chao, who is cut from the same cloth as her boss. (Trump certainly did like to surround himself with other grifters*. ) A retread from both Bush administrations, Chao has never accomplished much at Labor or Transportation other than being a loyal team (red) player. We are still waiting for this long anticipated trillion-dollar-plus national infrastructure plan, something the Trump administration could have gotten done in their first two years while they had complete control of Congress. (I guess that plan is still locked away in some secret vault along with the Cons’ replacement health care plan.) But, sadly, a tax cut giveaway and a border wall took priority for Moscow Mitch and Putin’s Puppet respectively. Meanwhile, Chao has done very little to even produce a replacement for the expiring Fast Act funding, an Obama-era accomplishment. So yeah, the bar is pretty low right now. A department with a $75B annual budget and some 60,000 employees shouldn’t be too much of a reach for some smart, experienced under- or assistant secretary at Transportation, Commerce or Labor.


  24. How would a currency devaluation work if we ever had one? I asked my Canadian friend how other countries do it, and he said the president would simply declare the dollar was worth less in foreign currency (e.g., 0.41 euro instead of 0.82). and then the exchange markets would adjust their tradesw to bring it to what they think it’s worth (which might be 0.70 euro). Is that right? That sounds like how companies declare an IPO rate ahd then the markets adjust it up or down. But if the exchange markets are already doing that every day and have already determined what they think the dollar is worth, then isn’t the declaration just a suggestion, and why would it make much difference?

  25. Chao is the wife of Mitch McConnell. She served as deputy sec. of transportation under Bush I and Sec. of Labor —a huge federal dept. — under Bush II where she did little harm despite Dick Cheney’s desire to destroy labor, especially through immigration.

    She has held several other federal posts. She is much more qualified than Mayor Pete to run the Dept. of transportation whether you agree with her or Trump’s transportation priorities.

    If Biden wanted to give Buttegieg a federal plum he wasn’t qualified for make him an ambassador to a minor country in a warm location, not head of transportation.

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