Monday assorted links


5. Put another way, the liberal program of admitting lots of refugees, and then treating them really badly--the same way liberals treat anyone who doesn't share their cultural values--is a recipe for disaster.

Treating them badly? Where?

He's talking about Europe.

Exactly. Inviting people into your country and then manifesting constant contempt for their ethnicity and culture--the standard European approach--is a poor strategy.

What a strange choice of word.

"manifesting constant contempt for their ethnicity and culture"
Yes, it is so rude - a lot of arabs dont want to live in the arab world. They then move to europe to enjoy the european societies, and then the europeans are like expecting something from the arabs. You know, to like behave and dont try to make europe like the arab world. The europeans are so evil.
The europeans should admire islam and arab culture - it is so wonderful that millions of muslims would rather live in europe.

The Europeans should stop living in a fantasy world, in which their moral superiority will permit them to admit lots of non-European refugees, who will react to the self-evident superiority of German or Swedish culture by conforming their behavior to German or Swedish norms, thus demonstrating that all America's problems with ethnic minorities result from the racism of American yahoos. That was a silly plan. It wouldn't work in Virginia, either, but fortunately Prof. Cowen's fellow citizens are too intelligent to even try it.

The US is the most successful refugee admission experiment in the history of the world. General conformity to superior American culture--and yes, it is a bit of a melting pot--is quite high.

America doesn't expect much of its people.

Learn the national anthem. Watch a baseball or football game a couple times a year. Get a job. Pay taxes. Obey some traffic laws. Dress casually. Speak English or at least make sure that your children do.

Congrats you're an American now. You can be rude and fairly unassimilated and still get by in this country just fine.

America's melting pot is based on holding people to fairly low standards. It works well when given the chance. I don't know if it's anywhere near as easy to "become Swedish".

Refugees? We were not running a refugee camp. The immigrant streams who entered between 1880 and 1930 were largely from eastern and southern European countries which were poor but passably governed by the standards of that day (see Daniel Patrick Moynihan on that point). The refugee inflows between 1840 and 1880 were largely German, Scandinavian, and irish Catholic. Poor, as nearly everyone was at that time, but not cruelly governed (or certainly less so than nearly every other place on Earth). The initial bloc of Irish immigrants might be considered refugees, but of a crop blight, not a war.;

Of course. Just about every US immigrant is a refugee of some sort.

No, that's insane. The vast majority of immigrants have social networks on the receiving end to repair to and immigrate for job opportunities or to join families.

And what do you think refugees have, Art Deco?

"The refugee inflows between 1840 and 1880 were largely German, Scandinavian, and irish Catholic"

At least some of those German migrants were participants or alleged participants in the events of 1848. Some of the 48ers later went on to play an important role in the abolitionist movement and served with distinction on the Union side of the Civil War.

It's not treating them badly per se. It's that it's extremely difficult to compete with European workers in rigid labor markets. Based on test scores, a Syrian university education is inferior to a Scandinavian secondary education. This doesn't even take into account the language barrier. It's hard enough for educated native-born young Europeans to get jobs. The chance that a rural refugee who doesn't speak the language can become economically self-sustained is pretty much nil.

Syrian refugees would do much better in countries with similar levels of economic and educational development. For example it'd be much better for both refugee and potential European destination to pay a state like Morocco a certain stipend for each Syrian refugee they re-locate. A Syrian shepherd has a decent shot of actually making something of his life there.

Liberals believe that differences in test scores are due to racism. So once the Syrian refugees are in Germany or Sweden--as opposed to that racist hellhole the U.S.A.--their test scores will magically equal those of Germans and Swedes, and all problems will be solved. That's how easy life is when you know your own moral superiority.

The Right believes that differences in test scores are due to laziness, stupidity and God's will. Once the refugees are in Germany or Sweden they will rape the countries and use so many welfare resources that stupid, sad liberal Whites are left literally screwed, Euroless and deserving of their fate. When you are so sure of your political and racial superiority all you see is destruction wrought by liberals and have a ready rebuttal to any acts of compassion towards the inferiors.

Rational people believe in science

Conservatives are better in every measure, including allowing others to accept their cultural values. Legislating against the prospect of Sharia law, banning people from using the toilet they prefer, disproportionately omitting certain cultures from the elections process, and banning books of a certain kind of cultural leaning. Other than that, we're very tolerant.

Yes, conservatives are much better in every measure. They are not banning people from using the toilet they prefer. They are not even trying to prevent a tiny number of radicals force everyone else to allow men to use the little girls' room. There is nothing actually stopping a grown man using the little girls' room. It is an honor system by and large. But people who pay for those toilets want to have some say in who should use them and the Left is determined to stop them.

But be that as it may, let's take a moment to think of Adbul. Who is a semi-literate Afghan shepherd who has been raised to believe that if a strange man talks to his daughter, he should kill them both. How, do you think, is he going to feel about letting grown men who think they are women take their penises into his daughters' toilet? How do you think he feels about one group that tells him they would like his daughter to be a good wife and mother (as if any conservatives still had the balls to do that) and another group that says he ought to feel proud that his daughter is a non-binary pink-haired, multi-pierced porn star who is marrying her pony next week?

I have no idea what you mean by omitting certain cultures from the election process, well sure, the Left hates the South and is determined to wage a war on it until it is culturally extinct. Which they have been doing and have had a great deal of success. It is now almost illegal to display any sign of southern pride or even southern origins. Paula Deen didn't get done for what she said, it was simply unacceptable to have an unashamed southern voice on the TV and so she had to go.

Again I am not sure if Abdul would care, but if we asked him if people should have pride their origins and should be allowed to displays signs of it, I don't think he is going to side with the North-Eastern liberals.

As for banning books, the only people even slightly interested in banning books these days are the Left. It is not the conservatives that are preventing Solzhenitsyn's last book being published in English. It is not the Right that is forbidding science fiction writers being published if their books might be interpreted as an attack on abortion rights. The Right is not picketing anything or demanding the Oscars be shut down.

All the intolerance comes from the Left these days. But you do have a point. Abdul is probably fine with that.

Blech, now the right is legislating to protect the fragile sensibilities of Afghan shepherds. The no trannies rule is a solution in search of a problem.

Jim Crow lives! The South should be proud of something that is good about it, not symbols of hate.

You are quite wrong about banning books. Read up on which entities have banned books recently and why.

The Right hates the new, the different. Because The Right's daughter just might decide she doesn't agree with pappy's fragile sensibilities and wants to kiss girls, study music and ride public transportation.

Well, female happiness in the U.S. has declined remarkably over the last 30 years or so, so congratulations on that achievement

18x April 25, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Blech, now the right is legislating to protect the fragile sensibilities of Afghan shepherds. The no trannies rule is a solution in search of a problem.

You have gone from an "is" to an "ought" without stopping to think. It is not that the Right is protecting anyone. It is the reality of the situation. It is the arrogance mentioned above. Whether or not banning transsexuals from bathrooms is a good idea, insisting that allowing them to do what they like is the highest moral good is going to do nothing to build bridges to the Muslim world. This is the reality. Accept it. Don't have to care if you don't want to but you cannot deny it.

Jim Crow lives! The South should be proud of something that is good about it, not symbols of hate.

But the Left defines anything and everything about the South as a symbol of hate. They just hate the South.

You are quite wrong about banning books. Read up on which entities have banned books recently and why.

That would still be the Left.

The Right hates the new, the different. Because The Right’s daughter just might decide she doesn’t agree with pappy’s fragile sensibilities and wants to kiss girls, study music and ride public transportation.

I can understand why you do not want to face the facts much less my argument but you really ought to. For your own good.

Books are by and large banned by publishers. Remember when the left was concerned about the power of private corporations?

Your premise is wrong the point isn't legislation for afghan Shepards he was addressing that property rights and not legislating morality one way or the other is better to prevent those situations.

Your vaginal passive aggressive writing exposes how weak you are.

What does admitting refugees have to do with anything?

At least in Canada, "liberals" are pretty good at building bridges with newcomers. It's really not that hard. It's starts with not attacking them offensively for the differences, and instead lead by example.

Canada has a rather selective/meritocratic screening process for immigrants. And when they recently decided to take in Syrian refugees, they limited it to women and children (whereas 60% of those entering Europe are adult men).

I much prefer electionbettingodds; far better layout

#2, is there a good reason why neighboring states should be required to continue to pour money into Metro? Why could it not survive on user fees?

Why would you think the user fees would cover it? They're only WAY more expensive than every other subway system in the U.S.

It depends on how far you're traveling. My commute on WMATA that involves me switching lines is cheaper than the MTA fare in NYC.

Except BART, which is arguably Metro's closest comparable?

But yes, user fees never cover public transportation, so we're agreed on that point.

Because metro runs through all 3 states. They aren't neighboring metro, they're part of what metro encompasses.

I don't think many (any?) public transportation system, including highways, could survive on user fees alone.

(#2) The warnings about relying on automation as a substitute for safety brought to mind the hopes for driverless cars.

Re: DC Metro article,

Certainly the best summary of Metro's many issues that's ever been produced in a major news publication. I love the article, but I don't actually think it answers the question of "how did it get so bad?"

Is it funding? Is it the tri/quad jurisdiction Compact structure? Is it politicians? Is it some combination of both? We really just don't know how it got so bad! That's the point of the article!

Actually, I take it back. The article does say HOW things got so bad but it doesn't answer WHY they went wrong. I'm a huge supporter of the Metro system and I'd love for it to work well. I'm very disappointed so few politicians seem invested in making it work. I wonder how this relates to Tyler's earlier posts modeling the Democratic and the Republican parties (especially on the Rs/local government issues).

.....the stalwart left-progressive Washington-Post tap dances around various supposed factors in the Metro Mess -- but of course concludes with an indictment of selfish "taxpayers"... unwilling to pay a "special tax" to rescue the Metro white elephant.

Incompetent & corrupt politicians (overwhelmingly Democrats) are the genuine cause of all Metro problems, but receive only mild indirect rebukes from WashPost apologists.

NYC subway system went through a similar crisis about 30 years ago for the same reason-- city politicians had grossly neglected routine maintenance and operations responsibilities... and that NYC subway system has never fully recovered from it.

Politicians are always lousy managers, but let's give them ever more power to run more stuff.

I'm curious how you know it's the politicians, rather than, say, Metro upper management. What about the individual employees? You don't think they're at all responsible? If, as you imply, it is simply neglected routine maintenance that needs to be done, where do "the politicians" get the cash in order to complete the repairs?

What about the individual employees? You don’t think they’re at all responsible? -

A bit of commentary from Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, SJ: in a human organization, you may find 5% are heroes, 5% are scoundrels, and the rest are just trying to keep their head down and do their jobs. If the heroes set the overall tone, malefactors are identified, punished and expelled. Without much change in proportions, there can arise a situation where they no longer do and the organization's priorties shift to image and covering up malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfesance. Shaughnessy describes this latter state as 'sociological corruption' and offers that the salient feature is that the organization is no longer able to aright itself with its own resources. See also Northcote Parkinson's notion of 'injelitance'.

Doubt the concepts of hierarchal organizations and management are new to you.
Levels in a hierarchy do not operate independently, but are directly managed by the level above in a pyramid scheme. The top level is ultimately responsible for everything in the organization; higher levels may delegate partial management authority to lower levels, but not responsibility. If lower levels are screwing up -- it's the fault of the higher levels that are responsible for supervising/managing/staffing/training the lower levels.

DC/VA/MD politicians are formally at top of the METRO hierarchy... and ultimately responsible for it all. Those top politicians select/appoint the 16-member Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The current Board seems to be comprised of political hacks with no experience running a transit system. The formal approved 2016 WMATA budget is quite ample and boasts that is enough to implement desired safety and operations improvements.

All the Metro problems stem from dysfunctional top management -- DC area politicians are the Metro top management. If underlings are also dysfunctional, it's the fault of top management/politicians. Top management is supposed to closely supervise things below them.... not just appoint underlings and then attend campaign fund raisers.

I don't now how you can question the appointment of someone who served 14 years at the National Confectioners Association, Jim Corcoran. (But as Art Deco points out, Jim's just there to make sure unqualified black people have and keep good jobs, so I guess he's ok in my book.)

It does, kind of. The root of the problem stems from the fact that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, too many different agencies on the board attempting to dictate the direction and contributing funding at will. The metro system needs a dedicated baseline funding source independent of several different agencies budgets. With a dedicated funding source, maintenance and capital improvement projects can be planned out over several years and can be completed without having to worry that one agency may pull funding at the last minute. The metro suffers from that common good problem: everyone owns it, therefore no one owns it. It needs 1 entity, with a stable dedicated funding source independent of all the different jurisdictions the metro runs through, to manage the system.

Going forward, even if they could sort out their management issues, I'd expect a long-term decline in ridership as ride-sharing services siphon off customers. Anecodotaly, Uber doesn't seem to compete with car ownership, but it does compete with fancy subway-card ownership.

I think the bike share system (capital bikshare) actually steals more and more share from metro then uber. Uber is still on par with the price of parking. For 75$ a year I can bike home when ever its nice out--reagrdless of whether I may be avoiding a metro delay as well.

This seems plausible (and I know people who do something similar), but obviously the numbers are much smaller. Most people can't ride bikes most of the time. That's why Uber's worth a lot more money. And why you probably know more people commuting via Uber than commuting via bicycle.

@Lord Action, yeah--bikes aren't something you could rely on all the time. But thats not needed to cut into metros bottom line. 5 people biking one day a week costs metro just as much as one person driving all the time

Not sure if you live in the area, but for the majority of daily Metro riders it's not really feasible to swap an Uber trip for their train commute. For one, it would cost a decent amount more for reach ride, even if Uber prices came down a bit. Second, if that many more people switched to driving/car-sharing services, the roads would get too crowded during prime commuting hours. They're already pretty bad, and this would make commutes that much slower. For those commuters who go from the burbs into DC to work, more of them already drive than use public transportation: On the other hand, the study does show that most of those people drive alone, so perhaps there is a bit of ground to be gained for those folks switching to shared rides.

One thing that has assuredly driven down Metro ridership is telecommuting. The federal government allows it for most jobs a couple days per week, but many private employers and even the feds could stand to increase it.

Jan, I don't know if your experience is different. I've seen federal employees can telecommute, but the contractors usually cannot. I suspect it is because the contractors are the ones doing the actual work.

I don't know if it's the rule, but I actually think the major contractors, like Booz Allen, do a lot of telework. I know contractors who don't even have permanent office space, just the rollaway style bags. My company occasionally uses some of those same firms, but only when totally necessary. Hard to believe they're doing most of the work, because they typically underperform. There just aren't good alternatives usually.

I don't live in DC, but I live in a city facing a similar decline in public transit users while the urban area is apparently booming. I'm sure telecommuting is also contributing.

Here's a question: are hiring and promotion determined by the results of timely competitive examinantions? Are the examinations composed so that 95% of the working aged population could pass them? If the answer to the first question is 'no' or if they answer to the second question is 'yes' (presuming the answer to the first is yes or yes-in-part), why is that?

People like Joseph Rauh who wanted hire bars removed ended up (as early as 1970) arguing for the abolition of standards if those standards stood in the way of their social engineering projects. Recall Rauh's row with Ed Koch at a cocktail gathering in a Georgetown townhouse, "we will fight you in the streets! We will fight you in the cities!". "Equal competition of unequals is inherently unequal' Rauh used to say. That cleared the path for cretins like Marion Barry (protected by court orders). The character in Doctor Zhivago who said it wouldn't be the first time a lofty ideal gave way to pure materialism was speaking of the tragedy of Soviet Russia. We contemplate the farce of the DC metro.

Too many piglets, not enough teats.

My guess would be that board members appointed by the DC and Maryland state government have been down with allowing the Metro to turn into a patronage dumping ground for cunning but incompetent blacks because that's how Democratic politicians roll.

Of course, if you had a strict examination system for hiring and promotion, that would inhibit that, but strict examination systems net you lawfare and court orders from officious federal judges.

If you understand the Democratic Party as a predatory criminal organization crucially aided by pretentious fools in robes and predatory and criminal lawyers, it all makes sense.

A large majority of the board is white.

I'm perfectly aware of that. Manufacturing patron-client relationships with blacks and elevating people suitable for clientage over blacks who do not need white patrons is what bourgeois whites do. Bad for everyone else except the people who do it and some conniving creatures of the sort now dominating the Metro apparat.

Board members have no incentive to do that.

No, they have a preference for doing that.

So your argument is that the mostly white leadership just has an inherent preference for putting unqualified but cunning black people in place and they won't stop until Metro is dead? You should write a book: "This I Know (no, seriously, I just know)"

Jan, it's no mystery if you observe the behavior of people in the legal profession or the educational apparat.

If you ride metro, you will see incompetent many incompetent black employees. That's the fact. Just because we do t have a good explanation doesn't change the fact. What is the good explanation?

Monolithic black voting. Affirmative action. Ideological preference for government employment. Quite the mystery, if you try hard enough.

Whatever the merits of the rest of Art Deco's comment, there's a good point here.

Humans have some preference for helping others of our own race, but we're more than willing to change that. And if (1) much of the population and potential workforce is black anyway and (2) many of them -- and some outsiders, sometimes powerful ones -- will feel better about you if they see you hiring more blacks (due to our country's history)...well, why not?

"I’m very disappointed so few politicians seem invested in making it work."

Mass transportation is a failure just about everywhere. It only is adequate where there are few other options because of aggressive anti-car policy {NYC, SF}.

Low ridership, corrupt and/or poor management is nearly universal.

First step is to stop federal and state assistance, re-direct it to highways which are actually used. If cities want it, they can pay for it.

Mass transportation is a failure just about everywhere.

A failure at what? The buses in my home town get you from here to there passably if you elect to use them. Mass transit services do not turn a profit. They're a social service for the impecunious and some allied clientele, not a business. Public parks and libraries do not turn a profit either.

First step is to stop federal and state assistance, re-direct it to highways which are actually used.

There is no reason for the federal government to subsidize local commuter belts. Let the locals pay for it. As for long-haul Interstates, put up toll booths and charge at average cost per vehicle-mile. As for ordinary public roads, lay a fat excise on motor fuels to pay for maintenance and any amortization (I've done some caculation. About $3 a gallon would get the job done). People can pay for roads in their capacity as motorists rather than their capacity as property holders or consumers or workers or income recipients.

We already have a "fat excise on motor fuels". It's just that the money doesn't get spent on roads. It gets spent on things only useful to a select group of people. Like the Metro.

Well metro takes 700+ thousand people off the roads everyday. Traffic is bad enough for DC already, pack that many more people (thats more than DC's population) onto the roads and you've made traffic much worse. Metro definitely does benefit everyone on the roads.

Kevin is right. There's virtually no space for more roads. The evidence is very clear. If you build more roads, more cars just enter them, creating more traffic.

The excise is not fat enough (try sexutpling it) and to passably associate costs with benefits it needs to be in a dedicated fund for road maintenance.

As for the metro, mix fares with a subvention out of the general treasury. It's a social service.

There is space for roads, but it requires exercises of eminent domain and troublesome construction projects which block the way. As is, there is superoptimal use of road transit because the costs are socialized.

"The evidence is very clear. If you build more roads, more cars just enter them, creating more traffic"

Do the cars appear by magic? What's the mechanism? Migration? (Net benefit to all involved from that)

Is this at the margin or are you telling me that if a city was 50% roads it would still be completely packed by vehicles?

Cliff! Do not question the liberal creed! A pox upon you!

"There is space for roads, but it requires exercises of eminent domain and troublesome construction projects which block the way."

You would also need to substantially redevelop certain parts of D.C. and Arlington to create more parking lots and garages. If I recall correctly, Pentagon staff below a certain level are simply not allowed to park at the Pentagon complex and so have no choice but to take public transit to get to work. At that point, you might as well just move the entire nation's capital on to some previously undeveloped land in a place like Iowa or Nebraska and create an American version of Brasilia or Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar's new capital city, built from scratch in the middle of the jungle). Or continue running the type of public transit that is needed for a metro area of D.C.'s density.

#5 - I am surprised how low the contribution to ISIS is from the big Muslim countries - Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia. It seems like most of the ISIS fighters come from the Mediterranean and ex Soviet Muslim countries. It also seems like the majority of attacks in Europe are being committed by North Africans (purely anecdotal). I would be curious to see the ethnic origins of the European fighters.

The Portugueses are all converts - some are ethnic Portugueses and others are ethnic Angolans.

I think Portugal is the exception, i dont think there are many converts there...

The ex-soviet countries, has an explanation, probably many of these terrorist graduates were trained by you know who (ex: the famous red-bearded guy from ISIS received US training as part of Georgian army, etc) and are going to be used to desestabilize Russia in the near future.

It's a Sunni Arab movement primarily.

The Muslims of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia are all over whelmingly Sunni. The Gulf War does seem to have radicalized a generation of Arab Sunnis. Or maybe something even before that. Much less so than the Muslims of the non-Arab world.

Except perhaps the Sunni radicals of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia have people to kill at home. So they don't need to go to Syria.

Wahhabism? I don't see why the Gulf war would have radicalized them, didn't they support that?

Saudi authorities supported that and other things, but I doubt it goes over well with lots of people there, notably including those who may be prone to radicalization into violence.

#5 it could be due to education. In a poor country most people go to the mosk and kind of believe what the generally moderate imam says, but in a more affluent and literate place people read the sacred text on their own and decide for themselves. They have more time for devotion.

2. Of course, this isn't rocket science: public transit has always suffered from inadequate revenues to cover maintenance/repair/replacement costs. It's partly a contest over who should bear the total costs: the riders alone, or a combination of the riders and the public. The riders could cover the total costs, but the fares would be so high that ridership would suffer and the whole purpose of transit would be undermined. I suspect that the hosts of this blog believe that if transit can't cover its total costs, then it ought not exist. Supporters of transit might respond that other means of transportation receive much higher subsidies than does transit. The cost of highways, for example. And the cost of long commutes. And all that carbon. We don't expect users of cars to pay the total costs for driving, but we do expect users of transit to.

+1. It's no mystery that when operating costs increase annually at 3% while funding increases at 1% (something along those numbers) - you will see problems. Highways would similarly suffer if that was their equation.

Congestion pricing on major roadways has been advocated on this blog before. Does Metro use anything like that? If not, why not?

They do something, rush hour fares range from $0.50 to $2.30 higher than off peak fares (metro fares vary with distance), for a short time the peak rush hour times had an additional added fee, but that didn't last very long (without electronic signage that would change with the fares through the day), there were an enormous number of fares to check.

Yeah, as bluto said. However, Metro's prime-time fares currently go from 5 to 930am and 3 to 7pm. So, it covers any time a person with somewhat sane working hours could possibly commute to work. I don't know anyone who tries to swing their daily Metro schedule to save money by avoiding the prime-time fares--it's not feasible, given the hours.

I think they should narrow the prime-time fares to something that actually reflects rush hour (like trips starting between 7:45 and 8:45am) and raise their price to something like double the current off-peak fare. This is DC, many people will pay it. At the same time, they should expand the off-peak time to include everything besides rush hour. This off-peak fare would be set just a little lower than the current prime-time fares.

These changes would make a lot of the daily commuters happy, even though their fares will go down just a very small amount. It would piss off a small number of people who use off-peak hours, and it would annoy a few folks who currently commute during rush hour. But it will give those people at least some realistic option to adjust their commutes to avoid the super high fare.

They sort of tried to do that with peak peak fairs awhile back. Everyone, tourists and commuters alike, found it way too confusing. Metro ended up paying more workers just to help riders figure out how much to pay. It is a good idea, perhaps terribly implemented. Adding a simple dollar or doubling per trip would've made much more sense, although I suppose you could argue thats a much more regressive tax on the poor--something most people believe public transportation is supposed to help.

I routinely see people at Union Station hanging around at 6:55pm, waiting for the clock to hit 7:00pm, at which time they go through the turnstiles.

"The riders could cover the total costs..."

That would undersupply relative to the optimum because everyone else on the road gets to benefit from less congestion. Even ignoring how public transportation improves matching in the job market, due to avoiding negative externalities of congestion, non-rider contributions into public transportation must be positive in order to achieve an economic optimum.

4. We are so screwed.

5. Who doesn't want to be present at the apocalypse. The really strange thing is that Jesus (yes, that Jesus) is expected to have the lead role in the Muslim apocalypse. Jesus taught that the apocalypse was imminent. Maybe His idea of imminent differs from mine. Muslim extremists in ISIS just want to be the catalyst.

So ... what leads them to believe that the time of the apocalypse is now?

Trump, Cruz and Hillary.

This is just throwing sand in the eyes of people...Of course there is Always some ridiculous ideology behind it but what matters is: who trained them? who financed them? and who buys their freaking oil? how the hell did all those foreign fighters passed so easily through turkish border? but our "free" press, is reluctant to say anything about it...

Right. It's the Guardian carrying the CIA's water, again. Or something.

"Ninety-seven percent of the bus and train operators at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are black"
"The homogeneity, interviews with dozens of current and former Metro workers indicated, is a proxy to a clubby culture of favoritism in which merit has little to do with promotions, and accountability, such as noting safety violations, is a career death knell. In typical examples, court and Metro records show, a black man who spent eight years in prison for dealing PCP was promoted to a high-level management position soon after his release, and whites in the same positions as blacks with far less seniority are inexplicably paid less."
It is a culture in which a white male engineer near completion of a Ph.D. was passed over for a management position in favor of a black man who was barely literate, multiple staffers said.

“The average rider wouldn’t believe the things that go on. There are so many easy things we could do to make the system better,” a station manager said. “But they’d never put me in charge because they know I’d make sure others actually did their jobs. They don’t want change. It’s go along to get along."
“There appears to be an entrenched network of African-American employees at WMATA that is able to steer jobs, promotion, training and other career enhancing benefit to persons of their own racial or ethnic group.”

The average Metro worker had a $60,000 salary, which rises to $69,000 including overtime. That is more than 71 percent of area residents who had an income in 2010, including 62 percent of whites, census records show.
Of a dozen senior supervisors overseeing the rail division in 2007, 10 were black and two were white, and five black supervisors, all with less than a year of tenure in the position, were paid more than both whites, who had more seniority — one with 20 years — personnel records obtained by The Times show.

The group making more money includes senior supervisors such as Orlando Terrell King, who has been charged with reckless endangerment and fraudulently attempting to obtain a driver’s license, according to Maryland state records. Mr. King, who is paid $62,536, was promoted by Metro to oversee those who drive trains carrying thousands of passengers daily.

Also rising rapidly to senior supervisor was Robbie O. McGee, who spent eight years in federal prison for felony distribution of PCP while on probation for another crime. He received five pay increases at Metro in two years.
Union leaders sometimes invoke racial language, including Mrs. Jeter, who heads the $20 million union with her husband, Roland Jeter, second in command. Graphics on the union’s website have depicted her in her role as union president alongside photos of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

A flier circulated as Mrs. Jeter was running for election claimed she worried that “too many whites might end up in charge. She also told me she was sick and tired of hearing about the Latino Caucus.”

When a worker says he or she has been treated unfairly by Metro, the union membership holds a vote to decide whether to defend the worker, typically obtaining reductions in punishment from management for or voting to take to arbitration more than 40 complaints monthly.

Court records show that a white woman, Denise Brooks, was fired after her wallet was stolen from an area accessible only to employees. She reported the theft, then asked to modify the report to better reflect the contents of her wallet after checking bank records. A supervisor said the update amounted to lying and fired her, a move that ultimately was overturned.

When Mrs. Brooks brought problems about the way she was being treated to the union, records show, the membership voted twice to deny her grievances.

Court records show many of those who get into trouble at Metro for fighting, drugs and the like and have disciplinary actions reversed at the union’s behest, meanwhile, already have documented track records of similar behavior. A newsletter boasts, for example, that the union won reinstatement with back pay for a train operator if she completed a drug class. But a search of her name in criminal records indicates that far from this being an isolated incident, the woman has a well-documented drug and theft problem.

Marion Barryism. The thing is, the DC government does not run the Metro. The authority is a constituted through an inter-state compact with a tripartite board.

#4 seems to be accurate.
Theres also which claims to get probability from betting markets but does not say from which. Their probability for Clinton and Trump are 67% and 18% respectively which is quite a bit off from the markets I can find. is a prediction market. Maximum exposure per position is limited however (I think the cap is $750) which might explain their implied probabilities of 57% and 26% for Clinton and Trump respectively. Quite the arbitrage opportunity there.

Implied probabilities from Pinnaclesports: (sharpest sportsbook for most sports, not sure about politics betting; is 72,5% for Clinton and the rest for the field.

To get a feel for the efficiency of betting markets one can take a look at the overview at

#2, mass transit systems are nearly all poorly run. Metro just gets more publicity because it is in DC so affects reporters..

Poorly run compared to what? That's like saying all city governments are poorly run. Some are better than others. What can they teach the others?

The standard people are generally assuming Art is a privately run for profit company. They are not assuming, as you noted above that the metro is run for the benefit of some allied clientele without regards for cost.

#5. It is surprising that the single relevant concept to explain most of the data is not insisted upon in the paper, nor in the comments here. This emergent concept is *Arabs*. Arabs constitue less than 25% of the total Muslim population, but a very large majority of the people going to Syria to fight with ISIS are Arabs -- and of course, the (almost-)totality of indigenous ISIS fighters also are.

Look at the data: Among the eight biggest contributor are 5 Arab countries: Tunisia, the largest one, Saudi Arabia, the second largest, and Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon -- all relatively unpopulated countries, which make their contribution per capita to the ISIS' Jihad even more striking.

The three others on these list are Russia, Turkey, France. People who leave France to join ISIS are in general second-generation immigrant from North African countries, that is Arabs. They are sometimes joined by ethnic French youngster involved in groups of Arab young, and converted to Islam. There was on a related subject a paper in the New York Times two weeks ago, about the radicalization in Belgium. The paper noted that there were two main Muslim community in Belgium, in comparable socio-economic conditions, one from North Africa, and one from Turkey, and that only the first one (Arabs) was part of the radicalization process. I do not know what to make of the data concerning Russia and Turkey. It would be interesting to know who, more precisely, go from those two countries to Syria. But in any case, compared with their huge population (Turkey is about as populated as the 5 above-mentioned Arab countries together) and their proximity to the field their contribution is not really big.

From anecdotical evidence, it seems also that the majority of fighters from Austria, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden are also Arabs. And obviously so are those fighters form Egypt and Algeria. From Germany and UK, this is less clear, as an important proportion could be of Turkish or Pakistani origin respectively. It would be interesting to have a more precise analysis in those two countries. But just limiting ourselves to the Arab countries and France and Belgium, we see that those account for already more than 16,000 Arab fighters, or about 3/5 of the total number given on the list.

What's the conclusion? Certainly not that we should "close our borders to Arab until we figure out why they hate us".
But simply that to understand ISIS (and the same was true for Al-Qaeda), we should not be focussing only on he religious (Muslim) aspect, but on the ethnic ones, and recognize those movement as ultra-nationalist Arab movements.
In fact, this is exactly what they themselves say, if we listen to them. Of course, that does not mean that all Arabs, or even a majority of them, support ISIS.

Joël April 25, 2016 at 5:43 pm

What’s the conclusion? Certainly not that we should “close our borders to Arab until we figure out why they hate us”.

Why not? What is the benefit to the receiving countries of any Muslim immigration whatsoever? Why should we take a single one?

Don't Muslim immigrants to the U.S. do pretty well?

Language barriers do tend to shape membership in organizations. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that most of ISIS's business is done in Arabic.

I'm not sure where to go with that, but it seems like an interesting angle. I think it's relevant to mention that the total number of fighters is still in the range of less than 0.1% (too lazy to check exact numbers) of the population being described.

In domestic politics in Tunisia, there seem to have been pretty good efforts to build bridges with the less extreme of the hardliner Muslims. I'm not sure that the lessons are easily extended to other nation states however.

Ethan's point on language barriers shaping memberships also seems likely to be highly relevant, and I think few people have specifically considered that. There need not be something particularly "Arabesque" about the situation, rather, that it started off among Arab-speaking circles, therefore largely determining the future networks.

rice-beer, and the hops, circa 18th-19th Century Binghamton, NY

fine landscape indeed, just missed out on the haber-bosch process by a few years

rolling hills, nice barns, and a quiet living

4) so, if voters are not stupid, they know they are nominating Trump as a protest, and not as a President?

People are smart, but not that smart. Conversely they are dumb, but not that dumb. Which means they know what they are doing ...


"We find that poor economic conditions do not drive participation in ISIS. In contrast, the number of ISIS foreign fighters is positively correlated with a country's GDP per capita and Human Development Index (HDI). In fact, many foreign fighters originate from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions. Other factors that explain the number of ISIS foreign fighters are the size of a country's Muslim population and its ethnic homogeneity. Although we cannot directly determine why people join ISIS, our results suggest that the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS is driven not by economic or political conditions but rather by ideology and the difficulty of assimilation into homogeneous Western countries. "

So it wasn't all of the horrid overt or systemic racism and the intentional marginalization of these beautiful souls?

Free version of #5:

#2 This shows why "rates are zero, we should do more infrastructure spending" is a dumb argument

I push back at people who just say "we should do more infrastructure" or worry about "our crumbling infrastructure." They say things you can always say, no matter how much infrastructure you have, or how good it is (something breaks somewhere even then).

You need good bottom up analysis for projects that make sense, and have good ROI. But if you can find such projects, yes zero percent interest is a good time to do them.

Does building curling rinks in towns of supporters and gazebos in electoral districts of Ministers of State have a high ROI? I guess it depends on what kind of returns on investment you're looking for ...

I would call those amenities rather than infrastructure, wouldn't you?

miracle mets

was there, on my bicycle, celebrating on douglas rd. :)

boobie doobie doo, poopy f o's

lil dots out there, . . . , we is talking 2u

such was thus when conveyed, dream like, ever more, baby baby boo boo

playing synopsis of the way things played out, little f o f's . . .

didn't have 2b, but was, shiiiiiiiiiit

events were going reasonably well, circa 1958-2016, despite all the junk from the pricks [communication, 4 0, extra credits 4the serious nerds] of the briar patch, ad, whenever . . . .

ricocheting, caroming, and keeping a flow going ~ by ella fitzgerald

we was here, and then, gone, splat, forgetaboutit . . .

dear pygmies, we try2 communicate from time2time

we is still out here, bless you

i was playin' the axe like that, b4 u got hit by the asteroid

such is, as such things, are

like a roller-coaster, this album, and the time

we is here, 4u, anytime, people/things from, whenever u r, f o's

5) Perhaps related to the sorts of technologies described by an NSA whistleblower at, leading some into violent radicalism, thinking the end of times are near. Or, maybe ISIS is just supremely amazing at Twitter.

Strategy: push and push and push in all manner of ways, and when they finally demonstrate intent to hit back, crush them. Who is the more guilty party in such a situation?

Do not respond in ways that will legitimize further violations of civil liberties and increased resource allocations to agencies that operate under the cover of "national security".

Uh, I guess I should probably visit a psychiatrist where I can sign up for my mental health record and enjoy some confinement in the absence of due process?

Center for Cognitive Liberties and Ethics:

"The CCLE is dedicated to protecting and advancing freedom of thought in the modern world of accelerating neurotechnologies. Our paramount concern is to foster the unlimited potential of the human mind and to protect freedom of thought."

Re the DC Metro: I think this should be engraved in stone in economics departments.

Command economies overinvest in production at the expense of maintenance and quality control.

This is painfully obvious in Eastern Europe.

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