American Elephants

Analyzing and clarifying the differences between the right and the left. by The Elephant's Child

In the wake of the Homeland Security Department’s memo identifying the Extreme Rightwing Radicals, a little lesson in how to tell the difference will perhaps help.  At the time of the last election, exit polls determined that only 13 percent of Americans could accurately define the differences between the two major parties.  We want to help

Americans Slowly Learning… by American Elephant
April 19, 2009, 6:19 am
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, Socialism | Tags:

Which is precisely why Democrats are moving so quickly to enact economy changing, power-structure changing environmental regulation.

Only 34% Now Blame Humans for Global Warming.

Hilarity ensues by American Elephant
April 19, 2009, 4:35 am
Filed under: Humor, Liberalism, Politics, Pop Culture, Progressivism | Tags: ,

If you live anywhere near an urban center,  you probably recognize these people. They are “hipsters”; formerly known as simply “urban”, “geek chic”, “fashionistas” or, alternately, “alternatives”.

They are, just so you know, ex-suburbanites desperately ashamed of their suburbaninity. They repent their cul-de-sac roots by rebelling against everything their parents might like, and atone by embracing everything “new” and urban, which, in that ironic “everything old is new again” fashion sense, means precisely the clothes and hair their parents wore in the 1980s.

They are Twitter Twits, they celebrate Earth Day, abhor carbon dioxide, and worship John Stewart. And yes, they voted for Barack Obama by 98.4%.

They are also hilarious:

(h/t: Ace)

Who, me, worry? After all, it’s only money. by The Elephant's Child

Are we spreading ourselves a little thin?  As if we did not have enough to worry about, President Obama announced his plan for a massive investment to develop high speed rail networks in the United States. The term “massive investment” may be becoming a little over-used.

According to Obama’s “vision” for high speed rail, Chicago is one of the cities considered to be the center of a hub network connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.  As a candidate, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of “rebuilding America.” He talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation, and as an alternative to air transportation connecting all those cities.

The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill dedicates $8 billion to high speed rail, and Obama will ask for $1 billion more in each of the next five years. The Reason Foundation suggests that $13 billion would hardly be a start on such a plan.

Richard Nadler, president of the Americas Majority Foundation, says high speed rail is a “genuinely horrible idea.”  Here, he said, are some  reasons why Obama’s idea to make a major investment in passenger rail is horrendous:

Genuine high-speed rail—1150-to-200 miles-per-hour, as found in Japan and parts of Europe —requires separate rights of way; broad curves, very shallow grades, and no 60-mile-per-hour freight sharing the track.  It is very expensive to engineer and maintain.

If you cut corners, as Obama implied, by using existing infrastructure, you come out with a system that will do 90-mph max, and will gum up existing freight traffic, which is much slower.

The Reason Foundation has been studying California’s high-speed rail system.  It will cost tens of billions more than estimated.  Ridership numbers will be much lower than predicted according to a due diligence report on the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans.  “The current high-speed rail plan is a fairy tale,” said Adrian Moore PhD,  the study’s project director.  “The proposal suggests these high-speed trains will be the fastest ever; the most-ridden ever; the cheapest ever; and will convince millions of Californians they no longer need to drive or fly.  Offering up a best-case scenario is one thing, but actually depending on all of these miracles to happen simultaneously is irresponsible public policy.

In California, the Rail Authority claimed the first two phases of the system would cost $45 billion.  The Reason Foundation suggests the final price tag would be more like $81 billion.  Any failure to meet the Rail Authority’s ridership projections would force ticket price increases, further cutting ridership. The report also found that no existing high-speed rail train is currently capable of meeting the speed and safety goals set by the system’s advocates.  But California will have to use slower heavier trains because it plans on using the same tracks as freight trains in some sections.

Like I said, the term “massive investment” may be getting a little over used.  Isn’t it wonderful that we have absolutely unlimited funds to spread around on whatever strikes our fancy?

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