American Elephants

Congestion and How to Solve It — or Not by The Elephant's Child
November 8, 2007, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Politics | Tags: ,


I have never been to Boston, but I have heard of the famous (or infamous) “Big Dig”.  The impressions are scattered: ‘scandal’, ‘mismanagement’, ‘cost overruns’, ‘woman killed by falling roof tiles’, ‘boondoggle’.  Unseen, it is the first thing that comes to mind when government proposes a big infrastructure project.  How is the public supposed to judge?  We hear of studies and studies, cost estimates, engineering marvels and urban planners.  We recall the bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed.  We recall the vast amounts of gas taxes supposedly building and repairing our roads.  We wait, frustrated, in traffic. 

We are faced with these projects on the ballot.  Are we willing to tax ourselves to pay for the dreams of government planners?  Experience tells us that the costs they tell us about are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and a vastly larger, more threatening hulk drifts unseen beneath the surface.  Government officials dream of glorious stadiums, beautiful bridges, highways that free the commuter, and of course, “light rail”. 

Most American cities of any size had rail transportation. As people moved farther out from the central city, rail lines helped suburbs to grow, and commuting became a way of life.  There is, however, fashion in all things, even transportation.  San Francisco’s cable cars have survived as a national park.  Other rail lines fell out of fashion and were torn up.  Freeways were going to solve all traffic problems, but they just created more.   Enter HOV lanes, toll roads, and congestion.  Congestion is now to be solved by forcing people out of their cars and onto light rail or bike paths, or into apartments in the central city.  Or by more laws to put the newest, most fashionable idea into practice.  But does anyone know what they are doing?

Those who will participate in the construction of whatever edifice is planned will invest vast amounts of money to convince the voter that the project is an invaluable solution that will improve your life immeasurably.  Opponents make other claims.  Who do you believe, and how do you decide?

For most people, the way they vote on a large infrastructure project is determined by their level of frustration with the status quo.  It is possible to be more informed, and to demand better performance from our public officials.  Nicole Gelinas has written a splendid article on the “Lessons of Boston’s Big Dig” in the Autumn issue of City Journal.  The story suggests that we can invest in infrastructure and do it smart. 

Many of America’s think tanks have studied transportation, congestion, infrastructure, the potential of different fuels, the promise and problems of oil, and the dangers of congressional meddling. It is very worthwhile to do a little reading-up.  As an informed voter, you can hold your representatives to the straight and narrow, and perhaps prevent them from chasing temporary fads. 

Terrorism and Communism: Myth or reality? by The Elephant's Child
November 8, 2007, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy | Tags: , , , , , ,


In spite of 9/11, the first World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, the Cole, the London Subway bombers, the Madrid bombers, and dozens of attacks across the world there are still people out there who feel that we have an “inordinate fear of terrorism”, just as Jimmy Carter once accused of an “inordinate fear of Communism”.

Randall Hoven, writing at the American Thinker, takes on the inordinate fear of Communism and clarifies some of the myths and realities of the Cold War.

“To many people today, “communism” is just an old bugaboo–something crazy people used to fear some 50 years ago.  Crazy people like Joe McCarthy.  Or crazy people like John Nash in the movie A Beautiful Mind.  In that movie, Nash’s insanity was manifested in the belief that communists were spying on him.  (The real-life Nash’s schizophrenic hallucinations were of the more garden variety “space alien” type)  Hollywood has given us several films about the bad old days of the Cold War, from The Front and The Way We Were to The Majestic and Good Night, And Good Luck. “

Read the whole thing.

2008, The Return of the Republicans by American Elephant

Rudy Giuliani and John McCain

Jim Geraghty at National Review makes a point that I’ve been increasingly realizing of late: 2008 is not 2006. And despite the the mainstream media’s propaganda-blitz to the contrary — Democrats are not a shoo-in for the Presidency or even to hold onto congress.

Remember, after all, how Democrats came to power — no progress was being made in Iraq, the media was pushing wall-to-wall Tom Foley coverage, the conservative base was demoralized, and in perhaps the biggest pot-calling-the-kettle-black moment of all time, Democrats were promising to clean up the so-called, “culture of corruption.”

Instead, Democrats have taken more trips funded by lobbyists than Republicans, have spent billions more on earmarks than Republicans, and have spent the last 8-9 months usurping powers that the constitution does not grant them (commander in chief, foreign policy, administration hiring, etc.), trying to sabotage their country in wartime, and abusing their powers to launch over 300 investigations that have discovered absolutely zero wrongdoing and to try to legislate themselves into a permanent majority (amnesty, union card-check, “fairness” doctrine).

This doesn’t even account for the fact that Democrats seem dead-set on nominating the most corrupt presidential candidate since, well, her husband. A woman who is married to an impeached president, who appointed an impeached federal judge to lead her campaign, and who is getting her national-security advice from a man who stole and destroyed top-secret documents to cover-up the incompetence, negligence and corruption of her husband’s administration. Indeed, Democrats seem hell-bent on nominating her despite the fact that we seem to be picking up with the Clintons right where we left off  — with them taking illegal campaign contributions from the Chinese!

No, 2008 is anything but a lock for Democrats.

Remember also that the American people elected Democrats to make things better, and poll after poll shows Americans approve less of the Democrat controlled congress than they ever did the Republican congress. Indeed, under Nancy Pelosi (Quinnipiac favorability rating: 22%) and Harry Reid (Quinnipiac favorability rating: 9%), this congress has marked the lowest approval ratings ever recorded. Compared to Democrat congressional leaders, President Bush’s Quinnipiac approval rating of 35% is downright stratospheric.

And then there is the Democrat agenda, which is increasingly at odds with the American people’s wishes.

Hillary just stepped in it big-time because she couldn’t come out and admit that she supports givng drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Why couldn’t she? Because voters oppose giving illegals drivers licenses by more than a 3 to 1 margin.

Charlie Rangel, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Democrat presidential candidates themselves have made it crystal clear that electing Democrats will guarantee monumental new tax-hikes.

Keep in mind also, that the surge in Iraq keeps working better and better. So much so that the GAO has declared it an official “trend,” and Democrats have opposed this winning strategy with gnashing teeth and slashing claws. And that Democrats, by playing to their pacifist base by denouncing military action against Iran have all-but promised they will practically give nuclear weapons to the mad-mullahs. This just after national polls show a majority of Americans would support military action to prevent the terrorist nation from going nuclear.

And finally, my fellow elephants, the “conventional wisdom” — which I think is neither conventional nor wise — that Democrats have 2008 locked up flies in the face of recent electoral history:

After the 1994 landslide “Gingrich Revolution,” Republicans thought Bill Clinton’s defeat in ’96 was all but a done-deal. Americans thought different. Defeated, they decided they weren’t going to do well in 98 and as such, some strong candidates decided it wasn’t the year to run. But the GOP did well in 98 and could have done even better had they not been so timid.

And Republicans are forgetting perhaps the most important point of all — that the media and the polls always say the Democrats are poised to win the next election when its this far out. Al Gore and John Kerry enjoyed the same type of early hype. But the closer the election gets, the more the American people are forced to examine the choice they are being offered, and in 2008 that contrast could be starker than ever. Democrats are almost unabashedly running a platform of socialism and retreat in the war on terror.

As Geraghty says,

Next year could be a surprisingly good one for the GOP, though it’s clearly not guaranteed. The party will need good candidate recruitment, message discipline, a clear, unifying agenda, and a bit of good luck. [read the whole thing]

But the 2008 election is hardly guaranteed to be the, “Democratic-Tsunami Part Two,” that the media are portraying it is destined to be.

I would also add that Republicans need to quit feeling gloomy, quit listening to the media and start contributing and volunteering. If we do those things, I think we stand a very good chance of not only holding our own, but doing very well indeed.

I think liberals are quite possibly in for a very rude awakening in November, 2008. And personally, I look forward to it most enthusiastically.

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