Dane County Train Opponents Playing Fast And Loose With The Facts

Trains are green friendly transportation that will create economic growth.  How much more needs to be said to make the argument about why trains are the way to go in Dane County and all over Wisconsin?  Throw in a bit of nostalgia about riding the rails, and the deal should be ready for everyone’s signature. 

But where other states are moving forward with optimism about the future of trains, there is a vocal segment in the area that is doing all it can to derail a great idea.  Many train opponents are not being honest with the facts about Dane County’s regional transportation policy.

The train opponents spin their views on talk radio, and bloviate at meetings.  That is the way democracy works.  But when they want to weave falsehoods into referendums  at the ballot box over trains and their funding  then they have crossed the line, and have to be called out.

Such is the case with train opponents who want to place on the November ballot the following question.  “Do you support increasing the sales tax to pay for commuter rail?”  The aim of the train opponents is to create an image that the public is opposed to this form of transportation, and create a myth that trains will be a costly addition for taxpayers.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz used his blog today to make it plain to all why the proposed question from train opponents is not an honest one.

The problem is that it’s not accurate. The new Regional Transit Authority has the ability to levy a half-cent sales tax to pay for all kinds of transit options that would also provide property tax relief. In fact, the RTA would probably start by taking over the Metro bus system and expanding it both within the city and out into the county. The sales tax would also give us the chance to try bus rapid transit, expand transit services for the elderly and disabled and create a network of park and ride lots. Commuter rail might also be part of the mix, but it’s far from the sole focus.

So, this question, now on the ballot in some municipalities, is really just a piece of meaningless political theater designed by opponents of rail to drum up opposition in places where they know they can win.

Thanks, Dave.

I love a good robust discussion about the issues, but think it important that all start with the same facts.  The real facts.  Train opponents think they can do a ‘ball of fire’ over the issue of Dane County’s public transportation needs. A ‘ball of fire’ would never work on the rails, and it should not be allowed to work in the ballot box either.

These Quotations On New Oval Office Rug

These are the quotations President Obama chose for his rug in the newly decorated Oval Office. 

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Towards Justice” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Government of the People, By the People, For the People” – President Abraham Lincoln
“No Problem of Human Destiny Is Beyond Human Beings” – President John F. Kennedy
“The Welfare of Each of Us Is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt

Majority Of GOP Believes Obama Wants Worldwide Islamic Law

After reading this article I must ask are Republicans not being genuine when they answer pollsters questions, or are they clueless?  I also must ask how deranged can white America get over having a black President?  After all, this reeks of pure racism!  For all the pious faces that listened to the heavenly call of  Reverend Glenn Beck this weekend, we have to ask in light of these types of polls, what lurks in the hearts of Republicans?  A godly person would not trash another in the way the GOP is treating President Obama.  So are the Republicans  faking godliness, or are they just utterly stupid?  It is either one or the other.

Recall how the old line about Iraq being responsible for 9/11 was used by many as a pretext for America’s invasion?  If a lie is allowed to be repeated often enough people will start to think it true.  After all the vile nonsense that passes for entertainment on talk radio and FAUX News is it any wonder that the simps who tune in do not then echo what they are told?  There has been an endless amount of rubbish about President Obama and his religion.  What the three-thumb crowd fail to consider is that his religion should not even be an issue.  But that does not matter to these folks who can not get over the fact a black man actually won the White House in 2008, as opposed to the Supreme Court electing the last white man.

Given the political culture of the nation, the rants of the teabaggers, and racist attitudes that have been stoked by the GOP for political gain, I guess no one should be surprised over the results of this poll.  And yet as an American who still holds to some rather high ideals I am angry that there are those who harbor such hate and bigotry in 2010.  I am truly miffed how gullible and easily led people can be to admit to believing a totally irrational point of view.

I am one of those who think that in spite of all the educational opportunities that exist in this nation, and all the various ways we have to stay informed, the general public is, by and large, not overly educated.  That may make me sound smug and elitist in some eyes.  So be it.  I am not either, but if one cares to view me that way, fine.  In light of those surveyed in this poll I consider being labeled ‘elitist’ a step up from the negative terms that can be applied to those who think in such racist and bigoted terms about President Obama.

A majority of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world,” according to a survey released on Monday.

That figure, buried at the very end of a newly released Newsweek public opinion poll, reflects the extent to which a shocking bit of smear and misinformation has managed to become nearly commonplace within the GOP tent.

A full 14 percent of Republicans said that it was “definitely true” that Obama sympathized with the fundamentalists and wanted to impose Islamic law across the globe. An additional 38 percent said that it was probably true — bringing the total percentage of believers to 52 percent. Only 33 percent of Republicans said that the “allegation” (as Newsweek put it) was “probably not true.” Seven percent said it was “definitely not true.” The rest (eight percent) either didn’t know the answer or didn’t read the question.

The Oval Office Has Been Remodeled

It looks grand!

While President Obama was on a much deserved vacation the Oval Office was given a needed update.

I think one of the perks of being President or First Lady would be the chance to update and redecorate the various rooms of the White House.    With so many pieces of art and historic artifacts to choose from the possibilities would be endless. 

When it comes to the Oval Office there are some things that remain regardless of the person serving the nation.  For instance, the golf shoe marks left by President Eisenhower near the door in the Oval Office.   But for the most part the rest is up to the President to decide on how it looks.

Even though I am one who places more color into rooms than most I must say I love the color scheme for the office.  It looks professional, powerful, and yet warm and inviting.

Gone is the sunburst rug that Mr. Bush loved so much; designed by his wife, Laura, he used to say it evoked a spirit of optimism. In its place is a more muted, mostly wheat and cream-colored carpet featuring the presidential seal in the center, and ringed on its edge with five quotations selected by Mr. Obama – four from former presidents (Lincoln, Kennedy and both Roosevelts) and one from the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Bush’s yellow brocade couches have been replaced with two custom-made sofas of brown cotton that resembles velvet. They face a boxy table, fashioned from American walnut and mica, that features a fruit bowl – not flowers – as its centerpiece. There is a lone navy blue pillow on one of the couches, which pulls in the blue from some new, modern table lamps.

The new wallpaper is striped, gold and yellow, but the pictures – portraits of Lincoln and Washington – have remained, as has the grandfather clock. Mr. Obama reupholstered Mr. Bush’s two mahogany chairs and kept the desk, called the Resolute, that every chief executive since Rutherford B. Hayes — with the exception of Johnson, Nixon and Ford — has used.

Child Soldiers To End In South Sudan

One of the more wretched visual images in the world will end later this year, if one can believe the reports coming from Sudan.  Child soldiers will no longer we used for military purposes.   That we consider this progress in 2010 speaks volumes about where some parts of the world still reside.  To see small boys carrying weapons that nearly equal their size, or speak about warfare and killing as if they were seasoned old veterans remains an image that will linger long after these kids no longer are part of the military.  The fact remains even afterwards they will never get back what they lost.  A childhood.

The army in Southern Sudan has pledged to demobilise all child soldiers by the end of the year.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has established a child protection unit to fulfil the pledge. The UN children’s agency estimates that the SPLA, thought to have already discharged more than 20,000 children, still includes about 900 in its ranks.

South Sudan, which fought a long civil war against the north, is to hold an independence referendum in January.Sudan’s civil war ended with a peace agreement in 2005, which committed both sides to an extensive process of demobilisation. But tensions have remained high in the run up to the referendum.

Will Brenda Konkel Run For Madison Mayor?

Folks have been mulling over the names of those who might challenge Madison Mayor Dave  Cieslewicz in 2011.  At our home the topic has come up over and over as friends gather.  I have argued that a strong challenge from the left is inevitable given the issues that have percolated over the past several years.  How truly vulnerable Cieslewicz is continues to be the $800 dollar question.  I suspect while he has angered many on the left, he has fostered enough relations with the center-right to win another term.  That may be the political landscape, but one needs to ask how smart such a turn of events would mean for policy.  No one should forget how the Landmarks Commission was treated this past year, or what the larger implications of the Edgewater project will be on the city.

One of the names mentioned to take on the task of removing Cieslewicz from office is the ever-interesting and always verbal Brenda Konkel.  If she were to enter the political arena this would be one of the best stories Madison has had in many election cycles.  Konkel commented on her blog this week about the chances of her making a bid for mayor.  Those interested in both cheap theatre, and city policy would benefit from her entry into the race.

Today, its a definite maybe. People are asking me to do it every where I go. And I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to seriously consider it due to their pleas which vary depending upon who I am talking to. On the one hand, it sounds completely crazy. On the other hand, if you look into the eyes of the people of this City, its hard to say no. There are so many important issues that they, and I, care so much about that are being ignored and mangled. And people seem desperate to have a local government they can believe in.

Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree Gone, New Shoot Will Be Grown

I love those who clip and mail me newspaper stories. Since the ones that get mailed are always related to things that never make the front page of the paper, and always somehow relate to history (or so it seems) it means they are always appreciated.    So with thanks to Marion, one of my clippers, I make note of a piece of history that came to an end last week, but has a new chapter about to start.

A shoot growing from the splintered trunk of a chestnut that cheered Anne Frank during her time in hiding could give the tree a new lease of life after a storm toppled it, a spokeswoman for a group that campaigned to save the tree said Tuesday.

A storm that buffeted Amsterdam on Monday snapped the towering chestnut and sent it crashing to the ground in a garden behind Anne’s secret wartime hideaway.

Helga Fassbinder of the Support Anne Frank Tree foundation said the remains of the trunk will be left in the ground so that a shoot growing out of healthy wood on one side can grow.

She said using an existing shoot on the trunk should provide a swift replacement for the chestnut.

“It grows faster than normal because it benefits from the enormous root system,” she said. The owner of the private garden where the tree stood agrees with the plan.

“Constitution Is Gone….A Dictator Is The Supreme Law”

A senator warns the ‘”despotic” president is launching experiments, calling them “fearful and appalling.”  Unless the president is stopped “a complete change in our government” will take place.  If this is allowed to happen the Constitution will not survive.

Another Senator in the chamber called the president a “tyrant”.

One newspaper proclaims  the “Constitution is gone….a  dictator is the supreme law.”

One might think the above  is aimed at President Obama.  Such is the rhetoric these days from the Republicans and their creation, the Tea Party, that the  words above seem like they could have been pulled from recent news accounts.

While the actions of those opposed to President Obama is often beyond the pale, history shows that this type of bloviating has been going on a very long time in our country.  We have always had a very frothy form of political dialogue.

As I read last evening about the controversy over the Second Bank of the United States, and President Jackson’s energized actions to destroy it, I had to stop and smile.  The words from the book could have been ripped from the page, placed in the mouths of modern-day Republicans, and it would be seamless with what we hear today.

The words of Senators Webster and Clay, and the story from a pro-Clay newspaper all seem truly historic when read in books today.  After all the nation survived, the Constitution still lives (in spite those who think it not a living and adaptable document) and all the players from that era are now the subject of many books and countless college lectures. 

For all the bile that was created over President Jackson’s veto the nation never buckled.   The Executive Branch was made stronger as a result of the veto, and the nation started to better understand how a president could use public psychology for the benefit of the White House.

When people lament the mean-spirited nature of politics, or the mud-slinging of a presidential campaign, I often remind  them that history can produce an even more dreadful example.  The election of 1800 comes to mind at once. 

While I am no fan of the dirty side of politics that we witness today, it is important to know that it was also wretched in the past.  That is not to condone anything that happens today, or stop urging it to end.  But it is important to know our past and allow it to add perspective to the mix.  After all, we come from a long history of rough and tumble partisanship.