KUOW

O. Casey Corr has a good run-down of what’s been going on at KUOW-FM in the wake of Ken Vincent’s surprise resignation. As Seattleites spend more time stuck in traffic, expect KUOW to do even better.

I’m one of those (annoying, pretentious) people who listen almost exlclusively to public radio (KUOW and KEXP), mostly because I can’t stand commercials while I’m driving (I also listen to podcasts, natch). There are definitely times when KUOW (and NPR in general) annoys me, but overall it’s my guy.

I sometimes tune in to right wing radio (to keep my game sharp), KIRO (when Goldy‘s on Sunday nights), and Coast to Coast AM late at night when I’m driving home from somewhere, because it’s one of the most bizarre, beautiful community experiences left on 21st Century radio.

I tried listening to Air America for a while, but found that unless I was in the car for more than 20 minutes at a stretch (rare!), it wasn’t worth it.

Parking Tickets = Evil Empire

darth.jpg

My extremely subtle effort to register my annoyance with the City of Seattle’s bureaucracy through careful selection of postage stamps continued today. I got a parking ticket for parking in front of a curb ramp last week, which was annoyingly placed mid-block, and, even more annoyingly, apparently not a crime unitl last week. I’d been parking there for 3 years with no problem. You’d think they’d start with a warning.

But of course, I have no real case and no time to fight it, so I paid the ticket. Consider Darth Vader to be my extended middle finger to the arbitrary enforcement of parking rules in the Emerald City. But listen, Seattle, there’s a way you can make this right. Just build me a citywide monorail with my thirty-eight bucks and all is forgiven.

The Allawi Thing

I’ve been meaning to link to this smart Allawi critique on Americablog. There’s one part that bothers me:

Most importantly, and quite simply, Allawi has virtually no support in Iraq. In the last elections, in December 2005, his party won a piddling 8 percent of the vote, earning just 25 seats in the 275-seat parliament. Further, his support is hardly rising: in the previous election, in January 2005, his party won 14 percent, capturing 40 seats. So his support is low, and it got lower in between elections. Iraqis largely view him as an American puppet, which isn’t unreasonable considering his oft-reported ties to the CIA. But just in case that wasn’t enough to torpedo his popularity in Shia-dominated Iraq, he’s also a former Baathist — to be fair, he split from the party nearly 30 years ago, but Iraqis have long memories and he’s still tainted by the association.

The real reason that Allawi’s party won just 14 percent of the vote (or 8 percent) was that the Sunnis by and large boycotted the 2005 elections. Turnout was just 2 percent in Anbar province. Whatever you make of the Anbar Awakening, it seems clear that if an election were held today, the same Anbar sheiks that are cooperating with the U.S. to recruit police would also encourage their people to participate.

This explains to the 2nd part of the argument, about why the Iraqi government has yet to topple Maliki:

Or the parliament would pass a vote of no-confidence — remember, Iraq isn’t like the American system; there the parliament can topple the PM anytime with a majority vote. The fact that they haven’t jettisoned Maliki should be a big glowing sign that there’s no consensus alternative. The country is majority religious Shia, and that fact is reflected in the government. It’s true that even the religious Shia parties aren’t getting along, but the idea that Allawi would improve things is ludicrous. Anyone who claims otherwise doesn’t understand Iraq.

Isn’t it more likely that the reason they haven’t jettisoned Maliki is because their are so few Sunnis in the parliament? A new, non-boycotted election would change the balance of power and probably make Maliki’s position less tenable. That’s one reason that Mickey Kaus’ idea for “faster elections” from a couple years back was so appealing:

One advantage the Iraqis have had, accountability-wise, is several votes (and quasi-votes) in rapid succession. That’s arguably just the ticket when a country’s starting up–if a leader clearly isn’t doing the job, he can be gone in a matter of months (before destroys the nation). But the current election will choose a parliament that is to serve for four years! If those leaders screw up, their government won’t make it to the end of their terms. Which means that after Thursday, accountability is in some crucial respect out of the voters hands. … Wouldn’t a two-year term have been better? If the Sunnis are still angry after this vote, do we think they’re going to wait patiently four years to have another crack at it? Where’s Feiler when you need him? …

I don’t want to suggest that Allawi’s the answer to our prayers. But the reason he has no constitutency is not simply that he’s just the candidate of DC elites, but rather because of the specific sectarian makeup of the Iraqi parliament that’s due to a boycott that might not happen the next time around.

Fox Bashes Katie Couric

I’m having a hard time understanding this:

In two separate segments yesterday, Fox News attacked CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric for reporting from the ground in Iraq, calling it “a desperate move” and asking if it was a “ratings ploy or legitimate journalism.”

On Your World With Neil Cavuto, guest host Dagen McDowell featured Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, who characterized Couric’s trip as “a clear act of desperation” by a single mother whose “priorities [are] so determined by her ambition rather than her children’s welfare.” Crouse pointedly accused Couric of being a bad mother for going to cover Iraq:

I would say the same thing if this were a man journalist going out there, a male anchor, because when you look at the choice she’s making, she’s saying my ratings are more important than my children. That’s the bottom line.“

Weird. I thought Iraq was safer than California, and Baghdad was safer than Washginton, DC. At least that’s what Cavuto and his buddies keep saying. So how come it’s okay for Couric to go to those two places?

Find The Slowest Lane And Sit In It

Earn money by purposely idling in traffic — ask me how:

Some companies pay millions to have their logos on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racecar, but others prefer to pay Brian Katz $500 or more a month for space on his Ford Expedition.

Mr. Katz, 32, of Manhattan, is one of the tens of thousands of motorists who have signed up to have their cars and trucks wrapped in advertisements in exchange for a stipend up to $800 a month.

These offers are becoming so popular that car owners have been willing to limit where they shop and abide by a code of conduct while they are behind the wheel.

Even with the restrictions, a free car or a hefty subsidy is attractive to motorists like Mr. Katz. “One of my friends read something about someone giving away free cars for being a moving advertisement, which didn’t sound like anything that could actually happen,” Mr. Katz said, adding that it struck him as “a little shady.”

But he found the offer to be legitimate and has been paid handsomely to wrap his car for several companies, including Jamba Juice and Verizon Wireless.

True, he does not always feel like rolling down his window to answer strangers’ questions about, say, Verizon’s calling plans. “It can be a little intrusive sometimes, but that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things,” Mr. Katz said.

. . .

Some companies are taking mobile advertising into their own hands. Brian Morris, the owner of We Fix Ugly Pools, a pool repair and construction company in Phoenix, wrapped more than 30 vehicles in his fleet in ads for his company. He monitors how customers find him, and attributes more than $1 million in revenue over the last year to people seeing one of his trucks in a driveway.

Or in traffic.

“I tell my guys, ‘If you’re in rush hour, find the slowest lane and sit in it,’ ” Mr. Morris said. “I’ll pay for the time and gas. The people behind you can’t help but sit and stare.”

IraqSlogger

I’m sad to see IraqSlogger going subscription-only. I found it to be a pretty great aggregator of Iraq news. It’s clearly a high-end site for contractors, diplomats and the like, so I guess it’s no surprise that it’s shutting the free door. Clearly I won’t be spending $60/month on a subscription.

So, before it goes, let’s marvel at this picture of construction cranes dotting the Baghdad skyline. For a moment, we are filled with joy to see the country rebuilding, but moments later, our joy is crushed as we read the caption and realize that all the cranes are being use to build the new U.S. Embassy with an assist from imported Fillipino labor. Because it’s not like there are a bunch of unemployed Iraqi men who need a job. The kind of guys who might just pick up a gun and kidnap someone to feed their family. Nah, those guys don’t exist in Baghdad…

How to Fix Air Travel

I’ve been up since five trying to figure out a way to get my mom from SEA to FNT before noon tomorrow. Yes, that’s right, she’s got a confirmed flight reservation, and yet as of 5a today, we knew she wasn’t going to make her connection in ATL, and thus wouldn’t get in to FNT before 2p tomorrow.

As this article in WaPo notes, this hasn’t exactly been the summer of love for the airlines. Weather, overburdened infrastructure [explain to me again, Port of Seattle, how having a second airport in the Puget Sound hurts travelers?], labor unrest, etc., have all played their part, but to me, the real reason why this summer has been such a fiasco is due to the irresponsibility of the airlines themselves. Planes are full to the point of busting, which means that when the inevitable “act of god” type delays happen, there’s simply no way to move stranded passengers efficiently.

So I’m just going to say it — the Feds need to step in and reintroduce some additional oversight on this industry. Specifically, I’m calling for the Feds to mandate that airlines sell no more than 95% of the seats on any one flight. Thus, there’s legally required spare seat capacity to help passengers get where they’re going.

Will this lead to higher prices? Sure it will, inasmuch as it reduces total capacity. But it will also reduce the overall strain on the system and allow passengers more opportunities to reach their destinations in something approaching a timely fashion.

Seriously, the system is obviously about to explode. The Feds need to do something before it’s too late.

[edit]

In response to the first comment … good point.  You inspired me to do a little research.

Actually, the Feds do regulate overbooking … in the sense that there’s a law dating from 1978 (pre-deregulation) that limits the damages payable to passengers for travel disruption due to overbooking to $400.  Clearly this number is not indexed to inflation; while $400 must’ve seemed like a reasonable amount of money in 1978, you can also very plainly see the economic incentive for airlines to overbook.

Since the economics work out best for the airlines to overbook, and since their ability to do so hinges on information asymmetries vis a vis their passengers, this is a clear example of market failure and thus there’s a clear case for government regulation.

Thanks for the comment.

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When Stretch Met Turd Blossom

I know it’s August and everyone’s on vacation, but yesterday’s Meet the Press was a disgrace, one that should make NBC News bow its head in shame. David Gregory, who thinks he’s hot shit for his tough questioning of the President in the briefing room, had Karl Rove on for a half hour. But on MTP, “Stretch” showed none of his newfound bravado.

Rove laid into Hillary Clinton, full of misinformation about her health care plan, with nary a follow-up from Stretch, who was clearly more interested in the “horserace” than in any of the actual policies or how they might impact people’s lives.

But the real indignity was the final question, where Rove claimed that it was Congress, not the President, that was overstepping its Constitutional mandates by asking him to testify. His answer is so obviously mendacious it needs to be reprinted here in full:

MR. ROVE: Yeah, look, here’s the issue. There is a tension between Congress and the executive. Congress wants to be able to call the—this Congress in particular—wants to be able to call presidential aides up at its whim and convenience and have them testify. That would have a chilling effect on the ability of a president to get candid, straightforward advice from his aides. We have a constitutional separation of powers. The founders talk about this. They, they understood this issue, and they wanted to insulate the judicial, the executive and the legislative from each other in this respect. Imagine the outcry if the executive branch said, “We have a right to pull up any congressional aide we want and ask you at any time what advice you’re giving your member about a vote.” Imagine the outcry in the country if we said Supreme Court clerks can be called before Congress or called before the executive at any time to talk about what they’re, what they’re advising the Supreme Court Justices as they write their opinions.

The counsel’s office had made a very generous offer. If they want to find out what Harriet Miers and I said and did, we’d be happy to go up there and have a visit with them about it. But we would—have an obligation, when we’re sworn in as an officer inside the White House, a commissioned officer, we swear to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution has a separation of powers. It should not—the Constitution should not be weakened, and we should not weaken the prerogatives of the power of the presidency just because somebody wants to have kind of show hearing on the Hill.

How’s that for the pot and the kettle? Rove accusing Congress of weaking in the Constitution. This is the man whose boss makes use of “signing statements,” that allow him to not enforce any law that he doesn’t feel like enforcing. Gregory could have followed up on this, but instead chose to show a cute and funny video of a young Karl Rove working for Richard Nixon. Aww!

Update: Media Matters has more on the “unasked questions” from Sunday.