Free Markets, Free People

Politics

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As the Obama economy continues to tank and unions become more desperate, socialism seems more attractive

Well, sorta.  Union leadership apparently isn’t as comfortable with the Sanders brand of socialism as it is with the Clinton brand.  Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO, sent out a memo this week:

His message wasn’t anything new for the federation’s state leaders: They know that endorsement decisions belong to the national leadership. Still, it was unusual for Trumka to call them out in a memo. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before like this,” said Jeff Johnson, the president of the AFL-CIO’s Washington state labor council.

Johnson agreed that it was important for the AFL-CIO to speak with a single voice. But “there’s a lot of anxiety out there in the labor movement,” he said, “and we’re desperately searching for a candidate that actually speaks to working-class values. The Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders camp is very, very attractive to many of our members and to many of us as leaders, because they’re talking about the things that need to happen in this country.”

Things like making sure unions regain their pre-eminent and privileged spot they used to hold. Oh, and free stuff! And then there’s the pension mess … something a Sanders or Warren would likely be willing to help bail out so what’s going on in Chicago won’t go on later on a larger scale in more unions:

About 1,400 Chicago public school teachers and staff are expected to lose their jobs in order to finance a pension debt of $634 million, the city announced Wednesday.

The layoffs are part of an aggressive $200 million budget cut to help finance the pension payment, which is required of Chicago Public Schools by Illinois law. The rest of the pension payment is coming from heavy borrowing, as the district already has a massive $1.1 billion budget deficit.

Rahm Emanuel is pretty sure this is everyone else’s fault for not pitching in more.  Most people, other than union members and lefty politicians, know better:

Thousands of retired Illinois teachers receive a six-figure pension, and the typical teacher received more in pension payments than they personally paid in within 20 months of retirement. Most teachers retire at age 59 or younger, and the lifetime pension cost per teacher in the state is estimated to exceed $2 million. Not helping things for the state is an annual 3 percent cost of living adjustment that is fully guaranteed and totally untethered from actual inflation rates.

Or, as usual, an over-promised, underfunded benefit which the union and politicians now want to shift onto everyone else.  You see, they promised it, your job is to shut up and pay up.  The left only ever has one answer to this – higher taxes, fees, whatever, to fund their promises.  The fact that you weren’t consulted, nor did they at all care what you might think, when this nonsense was “negotiated” never weighs into the equation.

But they’re for the middle class – or so they claim.

It is going to be fun to watch the left this year as they try to reconcile the mess this country is in with what they demand.  As usual, the blame game will be in full effect as the left tries to point to everyone else as the fault even as it becomes more and more obvious, even to low information voters, that the blue model of just about everything is a failure.

But … racism!  Confederate flag!  Christian bakeries!

~McQ

SCOTUS is a political branch, not a legal one

I pretty much agree with Andrew McCarthy:

Already, an ocean of ink has been spilled analyzing, lauding, and bemoaning the Supreme Court’s work this week: a second life line tossed to SCOTUScare in just three years; the location of a heretofore unknown constitutional right to same-sex marriage almost a century-and-a-half after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the refashioning of Congress’s Fair Housing Act to embrace legal academe’s loopy “disparate impact” theory of inducing discrimination.

Yet, for all the non-stop commentary, one detail goes nearly unmentioned — the omission that best explains this week’s Fundamental Transformation trifecta.   Did you notice that there was not an iota of speculation about how the four Progressive justices would vote?There was never a shadow of a doubt. In the plethora of opinions generated by these three cases, there is not a single one authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, or Sonia Sotomayor. There was no need. They are the Left’s voting bloc. There was a better chance that the sun would not rise this morning than that any of them would wander off the reservation.

Indeed, if there is any speculation it centers mostly around Justice Kennedy and now, of all people, Roberts.  There’s not much of a doubt on any case that comes before the court as to how either the liberal bloc or the conservative bloc will vote.  Up for grabs, apparently, are only two votes.  And you can expect absolutely tortured verbiage and logic from those two (and others who believe in a “living Constitution”) in order to justify their vote.

Elizabeth Price Foley wants to lay it off on liberals:

Leftists believe that “law is politics,” so they’re not particularly interested in how they get there: What matters, to the political left, is simply getting there.  The ends justify the means

But we all know why Thomas, Scalia, Alito and, oh yeah, Roberts, ended up on the Supreme Court.  The conservatives believe “law is politics” just as much as the left – they just haven’t been as successful at it recently.  There is a reason there are veritable political wars about who gets appointed to the highest bench in the land.  This isn’t some sort of scoop.

It’s a pity though.  You expect politics in Congress, which is why it’s reputation is so … low.  You want a statesman in the presidency.  And you expect justice and law from the judiciary.

Instead, we have nothing but politics from all three.

And they wonder why the people’s view of government is at a nadir?

We all know what “politics” means … and it has nothing to do with integrity, justice, the law, statesmanship or what is best for the citizenry.

~McQ

 

It is what it is and we should have no fear denouncing it

Dr. Ben Carson writes the following about the murderer of the 9 in Charleston:

Not everything is about race in this country. But when it is about race, then it just is. So when a guy who has been depicted wearing a jacket featuring an apartheid-era Rhodesian flag allegedly walks into a historic black church and guns down nine African-American worshipers at a Bible study meeting, common sense leads one to believe his motivations are based in racism. When the sole adult survivor of the ordeal reports that the killer shouted before opening fire, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go” — well, that sounds to me a lot like racial hatred.

Let’s call this sickness what it is, so we can get on with the healing. If this were a medical disease, and all the doctors recognized the symptoms but refused to make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient, we could call it madness. But there are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate.

It is and was an act of racism.  Anyone with a tepid IQ should know that and why anyone would deny it is beyond me.  Racism is not dead in this country.  Plenty of racists still exist.  But here’s a news flash … they’re not just confined to the white race.

That said, Carson is right.  Face what it is, call it what it is and then deal with the aftermath.  The fact that this yahoo was a racist, however, doesn’t allow anyone the broad brush they’d like to have and we’ve seen waved about in the wake of this tragedy.

Oh, and by the way, the citizens of Charleston, much better than our leadership (political, cultural and opinion leaders included) have shown the world how a town handles such a crime.  They know it was an act of racism.  They also know that not everyone is racist.  And they’re uniting not dividing. The families have forgiven the slug who killed their loved ones – something I’d likely have difficulty doing.  But when all is said and done, the citizens of Charleston are acting like the adults in this tragedy.  Too bad our president hasn’t acted that way.

~McQ

 

The wages of emotional voting and lack of scrutiny? Obama

National Review has published an article by Victor Davis Hanson with three views of the Obama presidency.  One view is that of an Obama partisan and presents his presidency in a positive light.  The second is a decidedly non-partisan look that does precisely the opposite.  However, there’s a third view that I find most appealing and frankly the most honest:

A third view of Obama is neither so rosy as the first nor so melodramatic as the second. Obama may well have been an unapologetic progressive wolf in centrist clothing, but mostly he was a continuation of what he had been in the past: an unimpressive state legislator, a one-term partisan senator without any accomplishments, a lackadaisical executive who in his own words had to worry most about not appearing lazy and distracted. Obama as president simply pushed the right progressive buttons, all the more easily once his own party lost the Congress and he was freed to sign executive orders that enraged his enemies and moved the country leftward. He cares little about the scandals involving the IRS, VA, AP, NSA, GSA, TSA, EPA, Benghazi, and the Secret Service, other than ensuring that they stay far away from his own godhead.

Mostly, President Obama likes the ceremonial perks of his office — the public spotlight to pick sports winners, the regal access to the links in sporty golf attire, the huge plane and entourage, the video clips of his catlike descent down the stairs of Air Force One, and the captive audiences for his often ahistorical and confused ramblings about America’s past and present shortcomings. Rarely has a president entered office so inexperienced and unprepared, yet with such great hopes and expectations among the public. That he squandered such good will through petty spite and inexperience should not be surprising, given his meager qualifications and thin résumé. Most of Obama’s career in community organizing, academia, and the Illinois legislature was predicated on leveraging his race, name, and unique background with the pretensions of liberal America to land opportunities for which he knew in advance that he would never be held accountable.

Make sure you read the other two views, but unlike some who are sure Obama is following some sort of plan to hurt America, I don’t find this man able to purposely do much of anything.

One of the warnings many of us threw out there early on is he’d never “run anything or done anything”.  Think about it – his sole accomplishment before essentially running unopposed for and Illinois Senate seat, had been to write an autobiography.  About what?  Well, himself, of course.  He was all about self-promotion.   He is a first class narcissist as we’ve all discovered.  He loved the campaign but not the work.  He no sooner became an IL state senator, a poor one at best, than he began running for the US Senate.  In the case of both senate seats he came with an extraordinarily thin resume.  But, he was the right color with the right party at a time of two wars and an unpopular US president, and it just opened up for him.  Once ensconced in the US Senate he almost immediately began running for President on an even thinner resume (heck, with the US Senate run, he could at least claim “experience” at a state level).

I find Hanson’s point about Obama liking the “ceremonial perks” of office over the work to be dead on.  You’ve seen others remark about our “semi-retired” president.  His lack of leadership qualities is staggering.  And yet, there he is, in the Oval Office.

His domestic and foreign agendas have been a mish-mash of college dorm discussions and naive beliefs proffered by others equally as clueless (such as his former Secretary of State) combined to do enough harm that we’ll need years to overcome them.  His inability to work within the system, mostly because he doesn’t seem to know or understand how,  has left him frustrated.  His manner of dealing with his frustration is spiteful childishness and unilateral action which, frankly, he doesn’t care whether its legal or not.

What concerns me more than the fact that he’s so incompetent and as Hanson says “inexperienced and unprepared” is that a significant portion of the population was gulled into voting for him the first time and then, apparently uncritically, re-elected the man for 4 more awful years.

We’ve certainly paid the price for that bit of emotional voting and lack of scrutiny.

But let’s also not forget who aided and abetted this travesty and the lack of scrutiny.

All you have to know to understand what institution that was is to know that Marco Rubio and his wife have had 17 tickets in 20 years and own a “luxury speed boat” while Hillary Clinton’s past is essentially ignored.

And, as you might have surmised, that institution is again cranking up its machine to give us another incompetent who has more baggage and corruption surrounding her than one can shake a stick at.

Forewarned is forearmed, not that it is likely to change much.

~McQ

Slouching our way to oppression

Again we are inundated with the usual and unusual via the internet.  Let’s take a look at a few.

It’s called “projection” Mr. Carter:

In a new interview, former Democrat President Jimmy Carter slammed America as a “racist” nation that refuses to let “old wounds” heal.

Carter spoke to the liberal AARP retirement group in an interview that was released late this week. At one point, Carter said that dreams of a color-blind society are still unrealized in the U.S.

“The recent publicity about mistreatment of black people in the judicial and police realm has been a reminder that the dreams of the civil rights movement have not been realized,” Carter said.

Carter continued insisting that “Americans still have racist tendencies or feelings of superiority to people of color.”

Unless he’s speaking for himself, he damn sure isn’t speaking for me.  I’m not sure where he gets off with trying to tag all Americans with “racist tendencies” or “feelings of superiority to people of color”.  And one must remember the party he’s affiliated with and it’s history in the region of the country from which he hails

Would someone inform this idiot that her 15 minutes of fame are over?

Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia graduate famous across the country as “Mattress Girl” after she hauled a mattress around campus for a year to protest the school’s handling of her alleged rape, has apparently released a sex tape recreating her alleged rape.

Like the Rolling Stone “rape” story out of UVa, she is a fraud.  Now Sulkowicz inflicts this nasty little piece of work on the internet?  Shuffle off to  … wherever, lady.  You’ve overstayed your welcome and our tolerance.

Lord they must think we’re dumb (“Wizard’s first rule).  NOAA has suddenly discovered “adjustments” in temperature data that conveniently wipes out the 15 year hiatus on warming:

To increase the rate in warming, NOAA scientists put more weight on certain ocean buoy arrays, adjusted ship-based temperature readings upward, and slightly raised land-based temperatures as well. Scientists said adjusted ship-based temperature data “had the largest impact on trends for the 2000-2014 time period, accounting for 0.030°C of the 0.064°C trend difference.” They added that the “buoy offset correction contributed 0.014°C… to the difference, and the additional weight given to the buoys because of their greater accuracy contributed 0.012°C.”

This, my friends, is not science.  This is adjusting the data to get the result one wants.  And we all know what that is.

Fraud.

Incompetence, as usual:

The federal government is notifying up to 4 million current and former employees that their personal financial data may have been breached by a hack attack from China, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Credit card data, banking records, and other forms of financial information could have been stolen in the attack, affecting people across the spectrum of the federal government, officials said.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing investigation, said hackers working with China are the main suspects.

Hey, I know, let’s trust them with our medical records, shall we?

Opacity, as usual:

New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.

According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).

The “special project” this team was given?  Concealing information from Congress.

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”

Our government is becoming more and more of a criminal conspiracy daily.

Why are so many poor people obese?  Well, as the SJWs would like you to believe its because of “food deserts”.  That is they don’t have access to nutritious food, but are stuck with fast food, etc.  A new study says “not so fast”:

The paper — “What Drives Nutritional Disparities? Retail Access and Food Purchases Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum,” by economists Jessie Handbury, Ilya Rahkovsky and Molly Schnell — found that “systematic socioeconomic disparities in household purchases persist after controlling for access.”

Translation: Even when healthful food choices are available, low-income consumers don’t always take them.

As a result, the authors suggest, local policies intended to punish fast-food purveyors, liquor stores, quickie markets and other sellers of high-calorie, low-nutrition food might not be the best way to go.

One thing that can make a difference is education. Low-income households with higher education levels, the authors say, “purchase more healthful foods.” Those with low income and low education “respond very little” to having healthful foods available.

Of course this won’t deter SJWs from trying to limit choice even more, will it.  After all, they always know best how you should live your lives.

Finally a little piece on “Progressives: The target is never what it seems” which hits on some points we’ve talked about here many times.

I have written  (here and here) how progressives are masters are distorting words and redefining them so that they no longer are even close to their original meanings. “Liberal” and “gay,” of course, are probably the most such distorted words. Words are the ammunition of discussion and debate, and if one side is allowed to select the ammunition, well, the ensuing discussions and debates are to be expectedly one-sided.

When you’re allowed to redefine words within the narrative, you own the narrative.  And when you own the narrative and you’re a progressive, you end up driving the cultural bus off a cliff.

~McQ

Global cooling? But the “science” is settled!

Not according to a new British study:

new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.

Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.

This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.

Got to love the attempt of these people to try to conform their findings to the current “conventional wisdom” of the alarmist crowd, i.e. we’re heating up – despite the fact there has been no increase in global temperatures for 15 plus years.  They claim this will give us a “brief respite” from something that hasn’t been happening.

“Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic vary between warm and cold over time-scales of many decades,” said McCarthy, the study’s lead author. “This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences.”

“The observations of [AMO] from [sensor arrays], over the past ten years, show that it is declining,” Dr. David Smeed, a co-author, said in a statement. “As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”

Researchers argue that a negative AMO will bring “drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region,” according to the study’s press release. Interestingly enough, the study also predicts fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.– a result of a cooler Atlantic.

Oh, you mean natural forces at work?  Well maybe the environment isn’t as sensitive to a trace “greenhouse” gas as some would like us to believe.

And this:

For years, scientists have been debating why satellite temperature data shows there have been about 18 years with no warming trend. Surface temperature data shows a similar pause in warming for the last 10 to 15 years.

So far, the dominant explanation seems to be that oceans have absorbed a lot of the heat that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere. And most scientists argue the world will continue warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s not, is it?  Maybe, as we’ve been saying for years, it’s that big, hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday and alarmists continue to ignore as a major factor in climate change:

Some scientists, however, have been arguing the world is indeed headed for a cooling phase based on solar cycles. Scientists from Germany to India have argued that weakening solar activity could bring about another “Little Ice Age.”

“The stagnation of temperature since 1998 was caused by decreasing solar activity since 1998,” wrote Jürgen Lange Heine, a physicist with the German-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE).

And:

“From 1900 to 1998, solar radiation increased by 1.3 W / m², but since 1998 it has diminished, and could reach values ​​similar to those of the early 20th century. A drop in global temperature over the next few years is predicted,” Heine wrote.

Imagine that.

~McQ

Someone, anyone, give Bernie Sanders an economics book

I’ve been reading about Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders announcing for the presidency.  In reality all he’s likely to do is make Hillary seem “moderate” in comparison.

I guess what I don’t understand is why someone like Sanders is even taken seriously.  Read Ed Driscoll at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal“:

And despite Clinton’s great strength, [Sanders is] also perhaps the most credible seriously lefty candidate in living memory. He’s no Dennis Kucinich, doomed to become a figure of fun.

Really?  When have any “lefty candidates” of his pedigree been “credible”?  Socialism?  It’s now credible?  Where?

Venezuela’s bolivar is collapsing. And as night follows day, Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate is soaring. Last week, the annual inflation rate broke through the 500% level. It now stands at 510%.

That’s just the latest example.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg there.  The Bolivar is now more valuable as toilet paper (something that is impossible to get in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela) than money.

And now this “credible” socialist wants to take us down the very same path:

In his campaign “launch” yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders presented one of the most succinct, easy-to-summarize policy agendas we’ve seen from a presidential candidate in a long time. More progressive taxes. Breaking up the big banks. A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. A carbon tax. A single-payer health care system. Expanding Social Security. Universal pre-k. Free college tuition. A trillion-dollar infrastructure program. A $15 an hour minimum wage. And a reversal of international economic policies that promote/allow job exports.

“Free” health care, “free” tuition, “free” pre-k, $15 minimum wage, more taxes to include a carbon tax, anti-capitalist laws to cripple the producers and spending of a trillion dollars on “infrastructure” (didn’t we just do that a few years ago?).  This is “credible?”  He is “credible?”  In what universe?

Would someone please, please send Sen. Sanders a freaking book on economics?

Oh, and Ed Driscoll too.

~McQ

What difference does it make!?

It’s a really good question, given we were apparently purposely lied too by the President and Secretary of State as to the “why” of Benghazi:

New documents obtained by Judicial Watch and made public Monday show that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials under President Obama were given intelligence within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack describing how it had been planned at least 10 days in advance “to kill as many Americans as possible.”

A heavily redacted copy of a Sept. 12, 2012, Defense Intelligence Agency memo to Clinton, then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the White House National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff said “the attack was planned 10 or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye ((ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 atacks on the World Trade Center buildings.”

The attack “was planned and executed by the Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR). BCOAR is also responsible for past attacks on the Red Cross in Benghazi and the attack on the British Ambassador, they have approximately 120 members.” Rahman is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which killed six people in New York.

The memo was labeled: “Information Report, Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence.”

“Not finally evaluated” but certainly much more plausible than some video made by some clown in CA.  And per the memo, both Obama and Clinton knew this within hours of the attack.

So, what difference does it make?  Well, quite a bit to anyone with an sense of morality about them. It points to blatant dishonesty to hide their incompetence.  But to partisan hacks and the left, it probably doesn’t mean much that they stood by the coffins of the 4 slain in Benghazi and spun a web of lies.

Has that sunk in yet? Your former Secretary of State told you a bald-faced lie and now would like to be your President.

Tell me how she’ll be truthful about everything from now on, won’t you?

Oh, wait … emails …

~McQ

Politicizing the Amtrak incident

One of the favorite ploys of Democrats is to claim the GOP has a tendency to “politicize” tragedies.

Well, there’s politicizing a problem and then there pretending there is a problem in order to politicize it.   This recent Amtrak tragedy is the latter.

What do I mean?  Well, they hadn’t even cleared the bodies from the wreckage before former Governor Ed Rendell was on “Morning Joe” talking about how it was due to a lack of infrastructure spending.

Meanwhile, the NTSB is putting out stuff like this:

screenshot 2

Oh … 100 mph in a 50 mph curve?  That’s an obvious problem with “infrastructure spending”, isn’t it?

But that didn’t stop the Democrats talking point from continuing to roll, did it?  Nope, the good old reliable media pitches in as well.  Phillip Bump in the Washington Post:

As The Post’s Colby Itkowitz noted, Congress has delayed passing legislation to fund Amtrak since 2013. The last time it did so, in 2008, the vote passed only after a rail disaster. Which, of course, happened again Tuesday night.

The constant struggle of Amtrak to get funding derives largely from the fact that not very many Americans use the rail system. Ridership is heavily centered in the Northeast, in the corridor between Boston and Washington where Tuesday’s accident occurred. But more than that, ridership is unevenly distributed politically. Data from the National Association of Railroad Passengers shows the number of passengers that get on or off the train in any given congressional district, and reveals an obvious reason why Republicans might not be too concerned about funding the system.

Amtrak has never had a profitable year since its inception.  In fact it is a totally subsidized rail system that would fail if not subsidized.  And as Bump mentions, it is “heavily centered” in a northeastern corridor.  So essentially, given the fact that the “elites” want Americans in mass transit and this fits the description, plus it is very handy for said elites to use if they so choose, they’re fine with a wealth transfer from the rest of the country to support their desires.

Powerline picks up on the media bias as well:

There is a certain irony in these three stories perching one above the other on Politico’s main page: House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crashAnalysis: GOP cuts to transportation, housing draw fire; and Derailed Amtrak was likely traveling at twice recommended speed.

Politico is a mouthpiece for the Washington establishment, where all spending is good spending. But the anti-Republican theme was picked up by many other news outlets, like Reuters: “Amtrak crash throws spotlight on funding disputes; Republicans back cuts.” And the New York Daily News: “Deadly malfeasance: Amtrak passengers paid with their lives for Washington’s neglect of transportation.”

But funding is not the problem.  Amtrak has gotten over 30 billion dollars in subsidies since its founding in 1970.  30 billion.  For a small railroad.  The WaPo’s Bump also claimed that “Republicans” hadn’t funded Amtrak since 2013.

In fact, they gave Amtrak nearly $1.4 billion less than five months ago.

One of those anti-narrative facts that keep ruining their righteous rant.

Oh, and as for “infrastructure spending?”  You remember the stimulus don’t you?  Wasn’t that for “infrastructure?” And who was in charge of doling out the loot then?

Yeah, certainly not Republicans.

Meanwhile, the union associated with Amtrak decides it too needs to score political points on the back of the 7 dead and many injured:

The Teamsters-affiliated Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 3014(BMWE) published a blog post on Tuesday attributing the deadly crash to new safety standards proposed by management of the government-partnered railroad.

“The new ‘One Amtrak Way’, along with the new inexperienced Amtrak senior management (after the old experienced senior managers were fired) has lead to this massive derailment,” the union said.

[…]

Reuters reported that the train was not equipped with the latest U.S. safety controls that are supposed to prevent high-speed derailments.

The Pennsylvania-based BMWE failed to mention the actions of the operator on its website, instead focusing on the union dispute with management. The crash, the post said, came as “senior management has declared war on safety with it’s [sic] unions.” Union membership unanimously approved a resolution in April giving union leadership permission to call a strike. Lodge 3014 had about 240 members in 2014, according to its most recent federal labor filings.

“The unions [sic] struggle to maintain safe working conditions is hampered by Amtrak senior management’s lust for complete control and railroad inexperience,” the blog post said.

Amazing.

Why does Amtrak continue to be such a fiscal wreck?  The usual reasons:

In its current form, Amtrak is less a for-profit passenger rail corporation and more a union jobs program (its ridiculous labor contracts are a major reason why the company is perpetually swimming in red ink).

Despite all the disingenuous chatter about a lack of infrastructure funding for Amtrak, the company’s salary costs absolutely dwarf its infrastructure depreciation expenses. In 2013, for example, Amtrak spent $2.1 billion on salaries, while it recorded $687 million in annual depreciation costs. Amtrak’s pension losses alone in 2013 totaled $425 million.

The numbers are pretty easy to compute.  Nothing is going to change here.  Amtrak will continue to be a money pit that benefits only a relative few in the country.

However, again, funding and spending wasn’t the reason this train crashed and killed, is it?  At least no according to witnesses and a preliminary finding by the NTSB.

But since the politicizing has begun by the left, why not jump in.  Powerline asks the pertinent questions:

The real question is, why is the federal government in the railroad business at all? Far more people are killed in automobile accidents than train crashes, but no one says the problem is that the federal government doesn’t pay enough money to car companies. If Amtrak can’t operate safely–reasonably safely, since nothing is absolutely safe–based on the revenue it gets from customers, it should go out of business, like any other company.

Here is another question: why should businessmen, journalists, lobbyists and politicians who commute between Washington and points north have their travel costs subsidized by taxpayers? Train travel costs what it costs. Those who ride the trains should pay those costs, just like those who fly in airplanes. It is absurd that the richest and most powerful companies in the United States have their employees’ travel costs subsidized by you and me. This is cronyism at its worst. Amtrak should be a wholly private enterprise. Having ridden that Northeastern line that goes to Washington a number of times, I think it has great advantages over air travel and could easily charge enough money to be profitable in competent hands.

Look folks, the federal government has proven its incompetence for decades when it comes to running or managing anything in a efficient and cost-effective way.  Why?  Because there are no penalties for it not doing so.  It just takes more of your money to cover its incompetence or goes into debt in your name.

These questions deserve answers. The incompetence involved, the fiscal waste, is simply staggering.  And 7 people paid with their lives because of it.

Will we get any answer to those questions?  Oh, no.  The elites are fine with you subsidizing their travel expenses.  And since, it seems, most of our “leadership” comes out of that area anymore, you’re not going to see that change anytime soon.

Divestment of Amtrak is the answer, but then, passengers would have to pay real costs wouldn’t they?  And the leaching elites, who will condemn you in a NY minuted for not paying your “fair share” aren’t about to see this bit of subsidized cronyism pass by the way side are they?

I mean how would Joe Biden get home?

~McQ

 

 

 

What I learned reading this morning’s USA Today

I don’t read newspapers much, and of course, I’m not the only one. But I’m travelling today, with most of my work for the week behind me. So I browsed through a USA Today while having breakfast in my hotel.

Here’s what I learned from it.

I learned that the driver of the crashed train in Philadelphia was going over a hundred miles an hour. I also learned that the way to respond to a government employee going double the speed limit around a curve on a government-run train is to raise taxes and spend more on infrastructure

I learned that Jeb Bush is raising scads of money. I learned that he knows exactly how to game the system of complex campaign finance regulations to raise the most money. I learned that one such technique is to delay a formal announcement. So he can talk incessantly about what he will do as president, but he is wise to delay the day he actually says (or tweets) “I’m running for president.”

I didn’t learn anything of consequence about what Jeb would do if he were elected president. The reporter seemed completely uninterested in that, possibly because said reporter is about as likely to vote for Jeb Bush or any other Republican for president as she is to vote for SpongeBob Squarepants.

I did learn from this reporter that GOP insider named Fergus Cullen said “Somebody like Jeb Bush doesn’t need to be worried that his poll numbers are mediocre right now.” Just as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Bob Dole didn’t have to worry about their vote totals being mediocre on election day, I suppose.

I learned that there is a breakthrough in medical research between the US and Cuba. That’s because an early trial found that Cuban doctors have this incredible vaccine that, on a modest sample, let lung cancer victims live two to four months longer. Having watched my dad die of lung cancer, I didn’t exactly see this as something to get joyous about – extending the pain and suffering of cancer for a few months doesn’t strike me as a huge breakthrough. But the reporters sure seemed excited about it. They talked about a “quantum leap” of breakthroughs. I have the feeling that if it had been, say, New Zealand instead of Cuba, their enthusiasm would have been a bit more muted.

They didn’t seem interested in the possibility that this modest trial in a Communist country might have some fudged data either. Because, as we know from the client science debate, leftists just don’t do that. So Castroite communists certainly would not.

I learned that the Senate really, really wants to give Obama more power, specifically to fix up a trade deal with Asia, but he doesn’t want it because there’s one minor thing in the bill he doesn’t like. Something about currency manipulation by China. The bill has large bipartisan support, according to the article, which I interpret to mean that both Democrats and establishment Republicans are for it. But that famous compromiser Obama somehow just can’t give in a bit to get a whole bunch of other stuff he wants. Odd, that.

I learned that Rubio has a doctrine of defense. I learned that if it’s a Republican, the headline needs to put “doctrine” in scare quotes. (The web article moves the scare quotes from the headline to the article. Nice try, USA Today. But I’ve got a photo of the print copy.)

On the casual side, I learned that Saturday Night Live’s newest, hottest cast member is breaking new ground with fart jokes. (Web article again sanitizes things. Print copy’s subhead is “With farts, weed, and sex his forte (for jokes, that is) the new kid slays”.)

I learned that the average CEO makes 373 times more than the average worker. That doesn’t mesh with the CEOsc of mid-size companies that I happen to know, but the data is from an AFL-CIO database, and, given how close American labor leaders are to Castroite communists, you can be sure it’s reliable. (This article was apparently too hot for the web. I can’t even find it on their site.)

I learned that economic growth is sputtering. Nothing in that article about how much more politicians make than unemployed people, but I guess they can’t cover everything.

I learned that USA Today has a reporter named Gregg Zoroya who “covers the impact of war on troops and their families for USA Today”. I didn’t notice that they had any reporter who “covers the impact of government policies on workers and their families”, but perhaps I just missed it.

Remember, now, these people are not biased. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

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