Thursday Mashup (7/12/12)

July 13, 2012
  • 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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    Sorry Meg, The Price Isn’t Right

    August 28, 2010

    Sounds like “Gubernatorial Campaign Fail, Clean Up Aisle 7″…


    Tuesday Mashup (8/3/10)

    August 3, 2010

  • 1) Even the animals are feeling the effects of the wars (here)…

    Gina was a playful 2-year-old German shepherd when she went to Iraq as a highly trained bomb-sniffing dog with the military, conducting door-to-door searches and witnessing all sorts of noisy explosions.

    She returned home to Colorado cowering and fearful. When her handlers tried to take her into a building, she would stiffen her legs and resist. Once inside, she would tuck her tail beneath her body and slink along the floor. She would hide under furniture or in a corner to avoid people.

    A military veterinarian diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder _ a condition that some experts say can afflict dogs just like it does humans.

    “She showed all the symptoms and she had all the signs,” said Master Sgt. Eric Haynes, the kennel master at Peterson Air Force Base. “She was terrified of everybody and it was obviously a condition that led her down that road.”

    A year later, Gina is on the mend. Frequent walks among friendly people and a gradual reintroduction to the noises of military life have begun to overcome her fears, Haynes said.

    Haynes describes her progress as “outstanding.”

    I came across this after reading another spot-on column by Bob Herbert today on Iraq and Afghanistan (describing the effects on humans who are serving and those non-serving who are sick of the wars and want to end them, bring our people home, do our best to try and heal their wounds and fix our country as well).

    And by the way, the VA recently finalized regulations on processing PTSD claims as of July 13th; to learn more about the regs and obtain related information, click here.

  • 2) And in news of the California gubernatorial contest, Repug Meg Whitman is outspending Dem Jerry Brown 86-1 (here).

    And she still trails (here).

  • 3) Also, Joke Line is at it again (here, on the matter of the upcoming congressional elections)…

    The total damage assessment will have to wait until election day. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Democrats’ losses may fall short of the 1994 wipeout–the loss of the Senate is still a prohibitive longshot. But the House is in jeopardy, especially–as always–its most moderate members. It will be interesting to see if a House composed entirely of radical Republicans and safe-seat liberal troglodytes is any more successful than the current disaster. I suspect not.

    I’d like to introduce Joke to a concept called “reporting,” and by that I mean that he should bother to read the information from this link listing the accomplishments of the 110th Congress, which he, being a scion of villager punditry, considers a “disaster.”

    Has this congress had its share of pratfalls? Yes. However, let’s consider them in light of the good that has been done, outpacing the wretched, Repug-run 109th, shall we?

    Do I actually think Klein will bother to take me up on this, though?

    I suspect not.

  • 4) Finally, this tells us the following…

    Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned mosque near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

    After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they wanted to table the issue and vote at a later date.

    The board has no official say over whether the estimated $100 million mosque and community center gets built. But the panel’s support, or lack of it, is considered important in influencing public opinion.

    Holding up photos of loved ones killed in the Twin Towers and carrying signs such as, “Honor 3,000, 9/11 — No mosque!” opponents of the proposed Cordoba House on Park Place called the plan an insult to the terror-attack victims.

    “That is a burial ground,” said retired FDNY Deputy Chief Al Santora, referring to the fact that victims’ remains were scattered for blocks.

    Santora’s 23-year-old son, Christopher, was the youngest firefighter to die that day.

    “I do have a problem with having a mosque on top of the site where [terrorists] can gloat about what they did,” said Santora, with his wife, Maureen, by his side.

    I’m not taking sides on this one way or the other, but I just wanted to note the following in response.

    This tells us about the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, Inc. (SSMA); here is how the group came to be formed as a result of a horrific WWII battle…

    At dawn, on October 14, 1943, in foul weather, the 8th Army Air Force, also known as the Mighty 8th, dispatched 291 B-17 bombers to the town of Schweinfurt Germany, a flight of some 800 miles. Since this city was vital to the ball bearing industry, it was at the top of the list of strategic targets for the allied forces and had already received a first attack on August 17, 1943.

    The bombers were initially protected by friendly fighter escort, which were forced to turn back about half way to the targets. Arriving at the target, the bombers were attacked by an estimated 1,100 enemy fighters firing cannon and large caliber rockets manned by the German Lufwaffenhelfer (LWH) or flak-helpers. The vicious attacks were continued and repulsed until the bombers reached the English Channel on the return flight to England.

    The battle brought great loss to both sided. Sixty heavy bombers and 600 airmen perished. Many lost their lives in the burning, badly damaged, crashed planes. Many became prisoners of war. Fifteen additional aircraft were so damaged they could never fly again. On the ground, 276 people died and countless more were injured. Businesses and homes were razed. Valuable and treasured possessions perished. Consequently, October 14, 1943 – Mission 115, became known as “Black Thursday” in American military history and one of the greatest air battles of World War II.

    Thirty years later some of the survivors from the Mighty 8th, including Colonel Budd Peaslee, S/Sgt. Phillip Taylor and 1st Lt. William Allen, decided to form an organization to commemorate their fallen comrades-in-arms. They called it the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, Inc. (SSMA), giving it direct connection to the second air raid on Schweinfurt.

    The story also tells us that…

    “(on) the 50th Anniversary, two Germans, Dr. Helmut Katzenberger and Vomar Wilckens came to the reunion in New Orleans to present to the group information they had on that fateful day. Then in 1996, the SSMA members invited more of their former enemies, including Georg Schaefer, whose grandfather founded one of the “targeted” ball bearing factories, to attend their reunion in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Schaefer, now retired from the Board of Directors of FAG Kuglefischer, had served, along with his classmates, in one of the 8.8 cm Flakbatteries around Schweinfurt. He brought many artifacts from “Black Thursday”. Many of these artifacts are permanently included in the Second Schweinfurt display at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

    It was at this reunion that the Americans suggested erecting a joint memorial remembering this mission. Mr. Schaefer presented this idea to his fellow Luftwafferhelfers, who embraced the idea and June 16, 1998 a German American Memorial was dedicated on a former air raid bunker site in Schweinfurt.”

    It should be noted that, concerning the proposed mosque near the WTC site, a memorial to the victims of the attacks has been proposed, as noted here.

    I’m not saying that the mosque is a good idea at this point. I’m also not saying that the wishes of the friends and families shouldn’t be paramount here (they should).

    All I’m saying is that an earlier generation of combatants was able to put aside its differences to the point where they could construct a memorial honoring the sacrifices made by both sides.

    I’m just saying that it’s possible to do that. That’s all.


  • Carly Fiorina, The Teabaggers Choice In CA

    July 24, 2010

    Another home run from Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films…


    “Accountability” For All But Herself

    July 14, 2010

    Step right up and see the greatest show on earth, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – otherwise known as the Meg Whitman gubernatorial campaign in California.


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