“Worst Possible Backdrop … No Worries”

Funniest thing I saw all day:

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Mother of All Traffic Jams

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I have friends going to Washington for Obama’s inauguration, but I’m content to watch it on TV, thank you very much. Even the DC Metro system is expecting madhouse-level crowds:

“It will be sardine crush-load on the way in and sardine crush-load on the way out,” agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

The image, by the way, is of the special $7.80 weekend pass the Metro folks will be selling for the inauguration. They suggest buying in advance.

Matt Yglesias isn’t convinced of the soundness of Metro’s approach, given that they plan to waive parking charges at stations for the day:

Fares and fees should really be kept as low as possible, with as much of operating costs as possible covered by direct subsidy. The exception to this guideline, however, is when you’re genuinely up against a supply constraint. When you can’t fit any more people on to your trains and there’s no good way to expand service, you need to use pricing to keep demand in check, even in an Yglesian world where transit funding was sky-high. … What’s more we of course don’t live in that ideal world where public subsidy is generous enough to use fees purely for rationing purposes. Metro needs to cover some of its operating costs through fares and parking fees. And Inauguration Day is a potential bonanza in that regard.

Spoken like a true right-winger there, Matt.

A New Toy

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US Special Forces has acquired a new UAV, with a twist: It’s a helicopter. And it’s got some real capability:

“The Hummingbird is designed to fly 2,500 nautical miles with endurance in excess of 24 hours and a payload of more than 300 pounds. The autonomously-flown A160 is 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter,” according to Hummingbird-maker Boeing’s rather brief entry on the craft. “It will fly at an estimated top speed of 140 knots at ceilings up to 30,000 feet, which is about 10,000 feet higher than conventional helicopters can fly today.”

Surveillance, strike, supply, even casualty evac all appear to be potential tasks. Cool.

Patience

Obama intends to wait until 2009 before asking for repeal of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell. Sullivan disagrees:

I understand the need not to repeat Clinton’s errors, especially at the very beginning of an administration. Delaying and consulting is fine. But the way in which gay servicemembers, risking their lives for their country as we speak, are still regarded as radioactive in the Democratic establishment, enabled by the internalized homophobia of the Human Rights Campaign, is appalling.

To me, however, this is a wise choice. If the administration and the active-duty military are together in seeking repeal, there will be no room for the Republican hard core to oppose them.