Ending High-Speed Rail In Wisconsin, And The End Of The ‘Can-Do’ Spirit

The news that Governor Doyle requested his DOT Secretary to stop the current work on the high-speed rail project in southern Wisconsin was most unsettling.  To seemingly buckle to the whims of the next governor who was only elected two days ago, and will not take office for two months, makes for more than a few irate people in this state.

We all know that rail is an earth-friendly mode of transportation.  The economic stimulus it would provide for those in the construction trades now, and the business people and tourists who would make it profitable in the future, make this project a no-brainer.  Everywhere in the world where high-speed train was constructed progress has followed.

Therefore to have had this common-sense project turned into a political football these past months has made me think about the larger picture of where we are as a country, a state, and a people.  What are we capable of doing as a society when it comes to leaping forward in meaningful ways?

Everywhere I turn I see the huge undertakings that history tells me are all ones that should be easily accomplished either barely stumbling over the finish line, or mangled so bad they never get off the ground.

Health care was such a tortured process that those who voted for it cowered in fear when they went back home to campaign for re-election.  Stem cell research which has the potential to allow for huge dramatic discoveries to stem the misery of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is being undermined by out-dated reasoning for partisan purposes.

So when I read the news today that Doyle had suspended work on the high-speed rail line from Madison to Milwaukee I was more than upset about just the project itself.  I was also questioning if we as a people have the ability to do the big things that this country was once noted for?  Are we so filled with fear post 9/11, and economic anxiety that no large dreams are worth the investment of our spirit and sweat?

I was one of those lucky kids in 1969 old enough to be aware, and yet young enough to be absolutely thunderstruck, when man stepped onto the moon.  That night is as crystal clear to me as if I had placed the boot on the lunar surface myself.  But to get that historic moment completed took education dollars and research funds and a driving force of political will by our leaders.

Our leaders once told us to look upwards and outwards. 

Today we are reminded we can’t even build a high-speed train track from Madison to Milwaukee.

Is this really the way we want our state and country to be?

Trip To Mumbai By President Obama Will NOT Cost $200 Million Dollars A Day

Leave it to the conservative echo-chamber of FAUX News, Madison’s cigarette-voiced Vicki McKenna, and others to trot out one of the most outrageous stories and try to pass it off as fact.  Just because one repeats it over and over does not make it true.

So….here are the facts…….for those that can read….and you know who you are.

Q: Is President Obama’s trip to India going to cost $200 million per day?

A: This highly doubtful claim originated with one Indian news agency quoting an anonymous source in Mumbai. The White House says it is “wildly exaggerated,” and there’s no evidence to support such a huge figure.

This story has spread rapidly among the president’s critics, but there is simply no evidence to support it. And common sense should lead anyone to doubt it. For example, the entire U.S. war effort in Afghanistan currently costs less than that — about $5.7 billion per month, according to the Congressional Research Service, or roughly $190 million per day. How could a peaceful state visit cost more than a war?

What else can you get for $200 million? Try the New Jersey Nets basketball team or possibly the Hope diamond — if only the Smithsonian were selling it.

The hard-to-swallow claim originated with a Nov. 2 Press Trust of India article quoting an unnamed “top official” in the government of Maharashtra (one of India’s states). The source was quoted as saying that Obama’s upcoming trip to Mumbai will cost $200 million per day for security and living arrangements, among other things. The story claimed that the president would be accompanied by about 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents, government officials and journalists, and will stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel — the scene of a 2008 terrorist attack.

We find stories based on anonymous sources always deserve special caution, especially when they come from only one news organization. In this case, the anonymous official is not even in the U.S. government, and any information about costs would necessarily have come second-hand at best, an added reason for caution.

Nevertheless, the story was widely repeated without any additional reporting. Soon after the article was released, The Drudge Report — a news aggregation website — linked to the Press Trust of India article, with the headline “REPORT: US to spend $200 million per day on Obama’s Mumbai visit…” Later that day, Rush Limbaugh claimed on his radio show that “Five hundred seven rooms at the Taj Mahal, 40 airplanes, $200 million a day this nation will spend on Obama’s trip to India.” He repeats the “$200 million a day” claim several times throughout the show without specifying its source.

The allegation has generated a great deal of Internet discourse over the past few days, including a Washington Times post that claims Obama’s entourage on the trip “will spend enough to bankrupt a small nation.” According to the Economic Times and The Daily Mail, Obama will take over the entire 570-room Taj Mahal Hotel for the trip. A Google search for the exact words of the original Press Trust article returned about 11,000 results. And we received about two dozen queries about it.

The White House is always reluctant to discuss cost figures about presidential trips, since the bulk of the expense is for Secret Service security. Not this time. The White House press office, which said it had been flooded with queries, gave us the following statement:

Matt Lehrich, White House Office of Media Affairs: The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality. Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it’s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated.

It is always costly to move a U.S. president around the world. And in this case, the president is attending a G-20 meeting and will be accompanied by several cabinet officials. But given the dubious source of this assertion, the fact that the claimed cost exceeds the cost of a war, the flat denial by the White House and the lack of any evidence to support the claim, we’ll classify this one as false.

Lisa Murkowski Leads Votes In Alaska, Nation Needs To Say Thanks

The counting and verifying in the Alaska senate race will take time, but one thing is clear.  The outlandish antics that propelled Joe Miller into the media will not be repeated in Washington, D.C.  His sails are being trimmed.  

The Miller campaign security team had a reporter handcuffed to a chair.  That incident, along with Miller’s extreme right-wing perspectives on the Constitution,  should only confirm that Lisa Murkowski is doing the nation a favor.  Joe Miller and his brown-shirted private security team will never get anywhere close to power.  Murkowski and her legal team will make sure of that.  We need to express our gratitude for her work.

(Once this is over will FAUX News hire Miller, too?)

With 99 per cent of polling stations having reported write-in votes made up 41 per cent of the total, Mr Miller had 34 per cent and Democrat Scott McAdams had 24 per cent.

Verifying the names written in was not due to begin until Nov 18, but after the large number of them became clear officials decided to start on Wednesday. It will take three days. There are also 30,000 absentee ballots to count.

Pat Quinn Lead In Illinois Grows

Just a matter of time until it is official.

UPDATE…..Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has won election in Illinois over Republican Bill Brady, the AP reports

In the hours after the election Quinn was nursing a roughly 8,000-vote margin, but as straggling ballots are counted that margin has kept growing.

A Tribune review of election jurisdictions in Illinois showed it is unlikely Brady can make up the difference based on uncounted absentee ballots, as his campaign has suggested. President Barack Obama already has called Quinn to congratulate him on the victory.

In Chicago, Quinn took a victory lap at Manny’s Deli during lunch time to thank voters. He told reporters “I think the people of Illinois know I won the election.”

He refused to call on Brady to throw in the towel, but said it was clear the state senator could not overcome his lead.

GOP Slaps Back At Tea Party

Lets face the facts.  The tail should never wag the dog. 

The Tea Party has taken it upon themselves to mold the Republican Party into some bat-crap crazy party, and just expect the establishment GOP to smile.

What is now being stated by prominent Republicans about the Tea Party should have been said months ago.  Folks like myself had no problems speaking the truth.  Now more and more folks are seeing the light, and speaking out.

I am glad to see the mature experienced leaders within the GOP take a stand against what happened this year.  If the GOP can not contain the virus within the party they have no chance of a national victory in 2012.  The need for establishment Republicans to speak out is more than just a political one for the GOP.  It also needs to be done so the country is not undermined by the most base element that we have seen in politics in many decades.

“Candidates matter,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It was a good night for Republicans but it could have been a better one. We left some on the table.”

 

Referring to the debate within the right about whether the party was better off losing the Delaware seat than winning with a moderate Republican like Rep. Mike Castle, who lost the GOP primary to Christine O’Donnell, Graham was even more blunt.
“If you think what happened in Delaware is ‘a win’ for the Republican Party then we don’t have a snowball’s chance to win the White House,” he said. “If you think Delaware was a wake-up call for Republicans than we have shot at doing well for a long time.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott put it plainly: “We did not nominate our strongest candidates.”

Had Republicans run Castle in Delaware and establishment favorites Sue Lowden in Nevada and Jane Norton in Colorado, Lott said, Tuesday would have turned out different.

“With those three we would have won and been sitting at 50 [senators],” he observed.

Another high-profile senator went even further, placing the blame for the Senate GOP’s failure squarely at the feet of Graham’s South Carolina colleague, DeMint.

This Republican senator said that the tea party was the “big winner” by helping bring enormous energy behind GOP candidates Tuesday, but he said that “Sen. DeMint was the big loser.”

“It’s like you’re on the five-yard line ready to score and the quarterback calls the play and some member of your team tackles one of your members and keeps you from scoring,” the senator said. “We came tantalizingly close to a majority.”

“I’m completely mystified by it,” the senator said of DeMint’s tactics.

WOW! Comet Pictures Spectacular

Intense!  If I were a teacher this story and pictures would be incorporated into my lesson plans…period.  These pictures are stunning.

NASA’s Deep Impact (EPOXI) probe has just completed its 435 mile flyby of Comet Hartley 2’s nucleus. The spacecraft has turned its high-gain antenna toward Earth and data are being transmitted to mission control at JPL. The first raw images have just arrived and, even without processing, they are spectacular.

More pictures on link above.

Rep. Boehner: Politician Or Leader?

There is a time to sow, and a time to reap.  There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern.

The election is over. 

Will governing begin?

Let us set up the question that faces Rep. Boehner.

The man with the biggest new job is Rep. Boehner. Thanks to the size of Tuesday’s Republican wave, he will have the votes to do pretty much as he pleases in the House. But he’ll face a choice: He can score points with legislation he knows will die in the fractured Senate or under the president’s veto pen. Or he can try to weave his way toward legislation that both pleases his troops and voters, and has a chance of surviving.

One of the issues that will require Boehner to decide if he acts for narrow partisan motives, or larger national goals is immigration.

The question of what to do about the 11 million or so undocumented workers in the U.S. will dog both parties over the next two years. Democrats risk angering some non-Hispanic voters if they pass comprehensive reform, but could disappoint Latinos if they don’t. Republicans face an internal debate over how to accommodate their anti-immigration wing while reaching out effectively to Hispanic voters.

Rep. Boehner now has the chance to show the entire nation what he is made of.

Rudy Giuliani Tells GOP To ‘Ease Up” On Gay Americans, End DADT

A voice of reason on this issue from the GOP.

GIULIANI: I didn’t see [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] as a big issue in this. The social issues were not in this. So maybe that’s an area where Republican can ease up a little bit and not

BLITZER: But you support gay rights?

GIULIANI: I do.

BLITZER: So you would get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

GIULIANI: My feeling about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was, in the middle of the height of the Iraq war, not a good time to do it. We’re not in the middle of the height of the Iraq war. Afghanistan is a different kind of thing. You could probably accomplish it now. It’s eventually going to happen and it seems to me that it gets my party out of this anti-gay, feeling that we’re being unfair to people who are gay.