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Archive for March 3rd, 2011

Selective de-humanization

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:48 am by HL

Selective de-humanization
Try not to be shocked, but Conservatives are just dismissing groups of people as, well, people.

illustration by DonkeyHotey at flickr.com

Pretty brazen, right up there with alleging there are palm trees in Madison, Wisconsin:

BILL O’REILLY: Americans are now caught up in a very important conflict: cost-cutting vs. union benefits.

According to a new CBS poll, 37 percent of Americans favor cutting pay or benefits for public union employees, but 56 percent oppose that. The New York Times headline on Tuesday was: “Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector.” But the poll is misleading because 20 percent of the respondents say they are from union households. If you subtract them, those who favor cutting benefits win the poll.

Yes, that’s right, it never counts when you might be an interested person holding an opinion opposite of Bill O’Reilly. The fact that the very well-paid are the only income group that favors (and barely) restricting collectively bargain isn’t mentioned because in FoxWorld the wealthy are non-partisan pure intellects, unaffected by wants or desires — rich people are funny that way. In short, they’re just better than the rest of us, and no one is “more better” than you than Bill O’Reilly, just ask him.

Sadly, this isn’t even the most offensive example of a conservative doing this, right Byron York?

[Obama’s] sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.

Because African-American opinion doesn’t count for Byron York, not even 3/5ths as much as “real Americans”.

Late Late Night FDL: Big Town Playboy
Angela StrehliBig Town Playboy with WC Clark, Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, and Denny Freeman.

Angela StrehliBig Town Playboy with WC Clark, Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, and Denny Freeman.

What’s on your mind?


Two U.S. Ships En Route to Libya

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Two U.S. Ships En Route to Libya
As tens of thousands of Libyans look to leave their homeland or have already fled, the United Nations on Tuesday called for aid in response to the crisis, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed the kind of help that America was prepared to offer as the news that he was sending two warships to the African nation hit the wires.  —KA Los Angeles Times: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Tuesday he was dispatching two warships and 400 Marines as a humanitarian response to the crisis in Libya, but he cautioned that U.S. military intervention should be carefully considered. “The kinds of options that have been talked about in the press and elsewhere also have their own consequences,” Gates said on Tuesday, referring to calls for a no-fly zone and other possible steps to halt attacks by Moammar Kadafi’s forces on rebels. “They need to be considered very carefully.” Read more

As tens of thousands of Libyans look to leave their homeland or have already fled, the United Nations on Tuesday called for aid in response to the crisis, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed the kind of help that America was prepared to offer as the news that he was sending two warships to the African nation hit the wires.? —KA

Los Angeles Times:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Tuesday he was dispatching two warships and 400 Marines as a humanitarian response to the crisis in Libya, but he cautioned that U.S. military intervention should be carefully considered.

“The kinds of options that have been talked about in the press and elsewhere also have their own consequences,” Gates said on Tuesday, referring to calls for a no-fly zone and other possible steps to halt attacks by Moammar Kadafi’s forces on rebels. “They need to be considered very carefully.”

Read more

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For Governors: Responsibility Equals Invisibility
If you want to get national attention as a governor these days, don’t try to be innovative about solving the problems you were elected to deal with. By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

If you want to get national attention as a governor these days, don’t try to be innovative about solving the problems you were elected to deal with.


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Jeff Danziger: Gaddafi and Sheen

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Jeff Danziger: Gaddafi and Sheen

Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch — February, 2011
In terms of shifts in public opinion, January and February were the best two months President Obama has yet had during his entire presidency.

GOP Leaders May Skip White House Budget Meeting
White House efforts to bring Congressional leaders together Thursday to kick off bipartisan budget talks are already hitting a wall: GOP leaders are signaling they…


Right-Wing Media Ignore The Facts To Bash Mass Transit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Ignore The Facts To Bash Mass Transit

Recent op-eds in The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard have claimed that mass transit does not reduce traffic congestion and as an alternative, they promoted building more highways as a means to reduce traffic. However, studies have shown that mass transit can reduce congestion, while building more roads usually does not.

Wash Examiner Claims More Roads, Not Mass Transit, Would Ease Traffic Congestion

Wash Exam Op-ed: “Building More Roads” Would “Ease Traffic Congestion.” A March 1 op-ed in The Washington Examiner entitled “Bureaucrats can’t change the way we drive…but they keep trying,” repeatedly claimed that traffic congestion could be decreased by building more roads. From the article:

For most Americans — make that most of mankind — the car is an instrument of mobility, flexibility and speed. Yet officials in Washington, transportation experts, state and local functionaries, planners and transit officials are puzzled why their efforts to lure people from their cars continue to fail.

[…]

Refusal to ease traffic congestion by building more roads and inertia in the face of rising gasoline prices make driving a car less appealing, even if those policies are not pursued with that purpose in mind. Restricted lanes for buses and bikes often infuriate urban drivers.

[…]

Washington is a special case. Roughly 19 percent of the jobs in the Washington urban area are downtown. Not surprisingly, the Metrorail system experiences high ridership and, according to transportation consultant Wendell Cox, “represents transit’s best chance for removing cars from the road.” Despite massive traffic congestion, few have been.

But Metro isn’t at fault. The transportation plan for the Washington area, drafted in the 1960s, called for one or two more beltways outside the one that was built. They would have diverted traffic on Interstate 95, the major artery along the East Coast, from merging with Washington traffic. Opponents insisted the beltways would lead to development in pristine rural areas. Neither of the outer beltways was ever built. The development occurred anyway.

[…]

Cars and drivers, sad to say, don’t function in a free-market world. Both are highly regulated, sometimes for good, sometimes not. If the law of supply and demand were operative, we’d see a smarter approach to improving transportation in America.

The supply of cars would create a demand for more roads and bridges to accommodate them, just as food lines outside a grocery store create demand for more grocery stores. Instead we get more mass transit, demand for which is imperceptible, and fresh rounds of confusion among officials whose plans are destined to come to naught. [The Washington Examiner,

[TTI, 2010 Mobility Report, 12/10]

However, Studies Show Building More Roads Usually Does Not Reduce Traffic

APTA/FCF Report: “Building More Highways Is Not A Solution.” An October 2003 report published by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the conservative think tank Free Congress Foundation (FCF) stressed that because of induced demand, “building more highways is not a solution.” From the report, titled “How Transit Benefits People Who Do Not Ride It: A Conservative Inquiry”:

Not only do people recognize the problem, they also understand that building more highways is not a solution.  The same survey found that, “If new roads are built, 66% of Americans do not think that congestion on the roads will be eased.” That 66% of Americans are correct.

It is useful to understand why they are correct.  The main reason is what is known as “induced demand” or “generated traffic.”  Simply put, what these terms mean is that if you build it, they will come.  Each new highway or highway lane draws more cars until it, too, is congested.  Some of these cars are drawn from other roads, but many represent trips that otherwise would not be made.

[…]

Study after study has confirmed the induced demand problem. Just how strong can induced demand be?  Some studies find an almost one-to-one relationship. [From a 1995 Mark Hansen study]:

Our study… found that adding lane-miles does induce substantial new traffic. . . . A 1.0 percent increase in lane miles induces a 0.9 percent increase in VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] within five years.  With so much induced traffic, adding new road capacity does little to reduce congestion.

Another study notes that “Transportation economist Kenneth Small provides a good review of previous studies and concludes that 50-80% of increased highway capacity is soon filled with

generated traffic.” [APTA/FCF, 10/03]

TTI: In 2010, “Only 14” Of 101 Metro Areas Studied “Add[ed] Roadway At About The Same Rate As Traffic [Grew].” In its annual “Mobility Report” for 2010, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) concluded that “[i]t is clear that adding roadway at about the same rate as traffic grows will slow the growth of congestion,” but went on to note that only “14 of the 101 intensively studied urban areas were able to accomplish that rate” in the period from 1982 to 2009. From the report:

The analysis in this section (shown in Exhibit B-11) addresses the issue of whether or not roadway additions made significant differences in the delay experienced by drivers in urban areas.  These years saw a range of economic conditions but a relatively consistent pattern between demand or population growth and increase in congestion.  Rapid population growth was usually accompanied by significant congestion growth, while slow growth saw less congestion growth.  The length of time needed to plan and construct major transportation improvements, however, means that very few areas see a rapid increase in economic activity and population without a significant growth in congestion.  It also reinforces the idea that congestion is not a problem that can be addressed and then ignored for a decade.

[…]

The difference between lane-mile increases and traffic growth compares the change in supply and demand.  If roadway capacity has been added at the same rate as travel, the deficit will be zero. The two changes are expressed in percentage terms to make them easily comparable.  The changes are oriented toward road supply because transportation agencies have more control over changes in roadway supply than over demand changes.  In most cases in the Urban Mobility Report database, traffic volume grows faster than lane-miles. [TTI, 2010 Urban Mobility Report, 12/10]

Studies Also Show Mass Transit Can Reduce Traffic Congestion 

APTA/FCF Report: “Does Rail Transit Actually Relieve Traffic Congestion? Yes, It Does.” The 2003 APTA/FCF report found that “people who can drive but choose to take transit instead…are the key to reducing traffic congestion.” From the study:

Does rail transit actually relieve traffic congestion?  Yes, it does.  In some cities, it actually reduces congestion; in others, it reduces the rate at which traffic congestion grows.  In both cases, people who drive rather than riding transit benefit.

[…]

The facts show that, as usual, the anti-transit myth-makers are wrong.  A good place to start finding the facts is in an interesting study by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University.  The TTI looked at the increase in traffic congestion in large urban areas between 1992 and 1997. It found a substantial difference between cities that had rail transit and those that did not.

For the 1992-97 period examined, traffic congestion . . . increased 55.9% in

urban areas without rail transit, but only 32.4% in urban areas with rail transit

in major travel corridors.  In other words, traffic congestion grew at a rate 73%

higher in non-rail cities, than in cities  with rail in one or more major travel

corridors.

A detailed study of a light rail line planned for Austin, Texas, undertaken by Lyndon Henry of Mobility Planning Associates and Samuel J. Archer of Austin’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority…[showed that]:

In regard to new LRT service, an Oregon Department of Transportation study suggested an apparent impact of  Portland’s Westside MAX LRT line on traffic.  The study concluded that increased transit trips in the Westside corridor, stimulated by the MAX extension, tended to keep pace with auto trip growth, with the result that traffic would be significantly heavier without those [transit] improvements.  Looking at the data collected in the periods May 1993, October 1997, and May 1999, researchers  found that “transit’s share of westbound trips leaving downtown during evening rush hour increased 5 percent, while the share of drive alone auto trips declined 3 percent.” [APTA/FCF, 10/03]

TTI: “Peak Period Public Transportation Service During Congested Hours Can Improve … Transportation Capacity.” The TTI 2010 Mobility Report found that “in the 439 urban areas studied,” ridership on public transportation systems saved “almost 784 million hours” of traffic congestion that they would have caused without mass transit. From the report:

Buses and trains carry a significant number of trips in many large areas, and provide important benefits in many smaller ones.  Peak period public transportation service during congested hours can improve the transportation capacity, provide options for travel mode and allow those without a vehicle to gain access to jobs, school, medical facilities, and other destinations.  In the case of public transportation lines that do not intersect roads, the service can be particularly reliable as they are not affected by the collisions and vehicle breakdowns that plague the roadway system and are not as affected by weather, road work, and other unreliability-producing events.

[…]

Exhibit B-30 shows that in the 439 urban areas studied, there were approximately 55 billion passenger-miles of travel on public transportation systems in 2009 (6).  The annual average ridership ranged from about 19 million passenger-miles in the Small urban areas to about 2.8 billion in the Very Large areas.  Overall, if these riders were not handled on public transportation systems they would contribute an additional roadway delay of almost 784 million hours or about a 16 percent increase in the total delay.  Some additional effects include:

· The range of benefits derived from public transportation in the 101 intensely studiedurban areas ranged from about 24 percent in the Very Large Urban Areas down to about 3 percent in the Small Areas.

·  Of the 784 million hours of potential extra delay, 754 million are in the 101 urban areas studied in detail. [TTI, 2010 Urban Mobility Report, 12/10]


GOPer Wolf Questions AG Holder On Allegations Of Politicized FOIA Process

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:44 am by HL

GOPer Wolf Questions AG Holder On Allegations Of Politicized FOIA Process
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) had his first shot at Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday, and he based his first question on a report on the handling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests authored the ex-Justice Department “whistleblower” behind the controversial New Black Panther Party case.


Lila Rose: DOJ ‘Looking The Other Way’ On Sex Trafficking
Lila Rose, the head of the anti-abortion activist group LiveAction, decried Eric Holder’s statement on Tuesday that the FBI will not prosecute in connection with a LiveAction video “sting,” which was aimed at catching Planned Parenthood employees looking the other way on sex traffickers.



Return of the “Chicken Little” Syndrome?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Return of the “Chicken Little” Syndrome?
If an online columnist can not convince one of his friends that there is a credible possibility that JEB Bush not only can be, but will be elected President in the November 2012 Election, should he persist in expending time and energy writing material to post online that continues his attempt to call attention to […]


Kennedy Gunman Denied Parole Again

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Kennedy Gunman Denied Parole Again
Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of killing Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was denied parole for the 14th time, the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Sirhan, who assassinated Mr. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968, had originally been sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted when the State Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.”

Senate Investigators Interview Coburn About Ensign
Senate ethics investigators have interviewed Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) about his friend Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) ongoing scandal involving an affair with the wife of a former top aide, “the latest sign that the Senate ethics inquiry into the Nevada Republican is intensifying,” Politico reports.

“It is unclear precisely what Coburn told Senate investigators and whether the information could further implicate Ensign, but sources say the scope of the ethics committee’s investigation into the Nevada Republican is widening and that more information that could be harmful to him could emerge just as Ensign gears up to run for another term in 2012, a race Democrats privately hope he continues to wage. Coburn lived with Ensign at a Capitol Hill home, known as the C Street house, run by a Christian fellowship during the period of Ensign’s extramarital affair.”

Late last year, the Justice Department ended its own inquiry that could have landed the Nevada senator in prison.


Can Gay Play Straight? What Sexuality Has to Do With Winning Roles and Academy Awards

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Can Gay Play Straight? What Sexuality Has to Do With Winning Roles and Academy Awards
If gay actors can’t play straight convincingly, and are losing gay roles to straight actors, what parts are left?

Vision: Fighting Privatization and Corporate Control By Taking Back the Commons
A new book, ‘All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons,’ asserts that protecting the commons can help save the environment, the economy and democracy.

Why Don’t Teachers Get the Respect They Deserve? Republicans Would Rather Destroy Schools Than Raise Taxes on Millionaires
Schultz: "They got more millionaires in New Jersey than they do teachers, but we got to have the teachers pay for everything."


Common Ground with Republicans: Nix NSF Funding for Economics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Common Ground with Republicans: Nix NSF Funding for Economics
One of the items on cut list for House Republicans is the National Science Foundation (NSF). They want to cut $150 million, or 2.2 percent, from its 2010 budget for the current fiscal year. This should be a place where…


How Democrats Can Become Relevant Again (And Rescue the Nation While They’re At It)
Republicans offered Democrats two more weeks before the doomsday shut-down. Democrats countered with four. Republicans held their ground. Democrats agreed to two….


Sheriff Joe Arapaio Lashes Out At Jeb Bush For Criticizing Arizona?s SB1070 Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 3rd, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Sheriff Joe Arapaio Lashes Out At Jeb Bush For Criticizing Arizona?s SB1070 Law
ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ. In December, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) lashed out at Arizona’s SB1070 law, a law that allows police to racially profile people they believe to be in the country without documentation. During a speech criticizing the law, the Denver Post reported […]

ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ.

In December, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) lashed out at Arizona’s SB1070 law, a law that allows police to racially profile people they believe to be in the country without documentation. During a speech criticizing the law, the Denver Post reported that “Bush said if his children walked the streets of Phoenix they might look awfully suspicious to police.” Bush’s wife was born in Mexico and his children are Hispanic. At the Tea Party summit, we asked Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff responsible for the Phoenix area (Maricopa County) about Bush’s remarks. A staunch supporter of SB1070, Arpaio was dumbfounded. Arpaio said he was a “campaign guy” for George W. Bush, so Jeb should have spoke to him first before commenting on the law. He then said he’s “gotta educate” Jeb on SB1070:

FANG: What do you think about Jeb Bush? He said he’d be afraid for his sons to be coming to Maricopa County, that they would be racially profiled.

ARAPAIO: What? Who said that?

FANG: Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

KEYES: His wife is Mexican.

ARAPIAO: So what? My daughter in law is Hispanic, what’s that got to do with it? You mean, because I was a campaign guy for George W. here, a good friend of mine, and you’re saying Jeb said he’s afraid to come to Maricopa County? […] Jeb doesn’t understand the law. Why doesn’t he call, why doesn’t he talk to me? […] Why would he talk to me?

FANG: Well you’re America’s sheriff.

ARAPIAO: The world’s sheriff. […] So he really said that? We gotta educate him. We gotta educate that. I don’t know, you probably misquote him.

Watch it:

Also during the interview, Arapiao fully endorsed State Sen. Russell Pearce’s (R-AZ) effort to pass a new law the Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill has referred to as “SB1070 on steroids.”