Thursday Mashup (7/12/12)

  • Leave it to a former Bushie to throw cold water all over a good idea (here)…

    High-speed-rail executives from around the world gather in Philadelphia this week, hoping to boost support for bullet trains in the United States, where momentum has been slowed by high costs and political disputes.

    The new national transportation funding act signed by President Obama on Friday contained no money for high-speed rail, although the administration had sought about $8 billion a year. And Republican governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have spurned federal money for high-speed rail projects, sending the money back to Washington.

    “There’s no federal money, there’s no private money, and states are not in a position to finance it,” said Ken Orski, a transportation adviser to several Republican presidents, including George W. Bush. “The conference in Philadelphia will be high on rhetoric and talk of things going on in Europe and the Middle East . . . but in the domestic situation, their only hope is California.”

    Meanwhile, I give you the following (here)…

    High-speed rail does not exist in the U.S. And the fact that the new congressional budget deal completely eliminated high-speed rail funding for 2011 may lead many to believe it never will. Who can forget the headline-grabbing declarations by governors Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin that high-speed rail is a no-go in their states? Between their refusal of federal funds, the political posturing on Capitol Hill and the endless debates in the editorial pages of newspapers, it’s easy to get the sense that high-speed rail is dead.

    But while the fast train indeed has been dealt a serious blow, the fact remains that it’s coming: Illinois will spend more than half a billion dollars this year on upgrading existing tracks to accommodate speeds of 110 mph, while California officials plan to break ground next year on the $42 billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail link. Notwithstanding the congressional budget cuts, there was still $2 billion up for grabs this year — thanks to Florida. Twenty-four governors — 12 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one Independent — applied for that money. The Federal Railroad Administration dedicated the $2 billion to 15 states and Amtrak in May.

    And from here

    By 2017, the fastest train in America will zip through Central New Jersey at 160 m.p.h…

    In two decades: New York to Philadelphia in 37 minutes. To D.C. or Boston in 94 minutes.

    Does that work for you? I hope so. Particularly since, as noted here, it is vital that our public transportation system do all that it can to connect workers to jobs (and even though I realize high-speed rail may cater to higher earners than many people living in cities, I’m quite sure it will return more “bang for the buck” than building more highways, hastening further sprawl and congestion).


    As that noted philosopher Mongo pointed out in “Blazing Saddles,” “got to do with where choo-choo goes”…

  • Next, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to accuse Obama Attorney General Eric Holder of “Jim Crow”-style politics (here)…

    Speaking to the NAACP in Houston on Tuesday, Mr. Holder assailed the Texas law that requires voters to show some identification, using terms redolent of Deep South racism before the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” he said. “We call those poll taxes.”

    The nation’s first black Attorney General knows exactly what he is doing by citing the fee that some Southern states used after Reconstruction to disenfranchise blacks. Poll taxes were made illegal by the 24th Amendment in 1964.

    Oh, and as far as the Journal is concerned, that automatically means that no such thing as a real or potential violation of the 24th Amendment could ever occur, right? Would that that were true – this tells us how the IRS under Bushco tried to find out the political affiliation of taxpayers in 2006 (also a violation of the amendment).

    And in response to that paragraph in the Journal editorial about Texas voters being allowed to use their gun permits as acceptable ID for voting (figures), I give you this

    In South Texas, the region with the richest tradition of voter fraud in the state, few election officials believe a new law requiring all voters to have photo identification will do much to curb voting chicanery.

    And that’s because more of a potential for actual fraud exists with mail-in ballots than in-person ballots, with 18 percent of Texas voters lacking proper ID as noted here (I don’t have any numbers on the percentage of mail-in ballots nationally from Democrats versus Republicans, but I would venture to guess that mail-in ballot voters typically are not the ones being targeted by ALEC and the Koch Brothers).

    In conclusion, the Journal tells us the following…

    As for the “poll tax” canard, the law says the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a free Election Identification Card if requested.

    Umm, OK…of course, the Journal happily discounts the fact that voters most likely to be affected probably don’t know that they’re non-compliant with the law as it currently stands (also caring not to admit that there would be a huge burden put on state workers responsible for mailing out the proper ID to everyone, that is, if the affected voters realized something was wrong – and Heaven forbid that the “yellow rose” state, among all the others with onerous new voter ID laws, would educate in advance those who would be turned away on Election Day).

    The Journal also referred to Holder’s characterization of the Texas Voter ID law (and by extension, laws across the country, including our beloved commonwealth) as “buncombe,” which, I suppose, is French for horse dookey (thanks to the Journal for expanding my word power).

    Update 7/14/12: More here.

  • Finally, did you know that African American voters could actually cost President Obama the election?

    OK, you can stop laughing now.

    No, really, you can stop, OK?

    I mean, Edward Klein of Fix Noise says so here, so he must be right…right?

    And do you know why? Well…

    Many socially conservative church-going blacks are deeply upset with Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.

    Oh, please.

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    The expected backlash among blacks to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage has yet to materialize. And a new Washington Post-ABC survey suggests that black opinion is very quickly moving the other way, with a majority of African Americans now saying they support same-sex marriage.

    Fifty-nine percent of blacks now say they support same-sex marriage, an 18-point jump since the president’s announcement of his own support two weeks ago. Fifty-three percent of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized, which also marks a substantial spike since 2006, when just 39 percent of those polled thought it should be legalized.

    And as noted here from Ben Jealous of the NAACP…

    “If you go to the board, you’ll see a lot of religious leaders,” Jealous told The Huffington Post last month. “All of the religious leaders on our board, except for one, were for marriage equality.”

    That one happens to be William Owens, who of course was also quoted at length in Klein’s piece.

    And if anyone thought Obama’s support of gay marriage was going to hurt him among African Americans, the following should be noted from here

    As Gallup itself reported in early May, Romney led Obama among non-Hispanic white voters by 54 to 37 percent, while the president had the support of more than three-quarters of non-white registered voters (77 percent). Obama’s support among African Americans on Gallup’s tracking poll stood at 90 percent.

    Oh, and let it be known that a certain Willard Mitt Romney hasn’t exactly endeared himself to African Americans lately (here and here).

    As noted here, though, Klein has been wanking away with fact-free punditry for some time now, infamously in his tome “The Truth About Hillary” (here). And the Tucson Citizen referred to Klein’s book on Obama called “The Amateur” as “the literary equivalent of a backed up-septic tank.”

    Well then, I’ve suppose we’ve identified Klein’s area of subject matter expertise at long last (buncombe, anyone?).

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