September 6, 2009 archive

Sunday Train: 21st Century Steel Interstate

crossposted from MyLeftWing

Having lost sight of our goals we redoubled our efforts
– Mark Twain

I have blogged on this topic before (links below the fold), and the concept is both powerful and simple. Electrify main rail corridors and provide the capacity to support 100mph Rapid Freight Rail. The points are direct:

  • Electric rail freight needs under 10% the energy of diesel truck freight
  • Even with short-haul trucking to origin railhead and from destination railhead, 100mph Rapid Freight Rail is faster door to door freight than long-haul trucking
  • In underused Rights of Way, rail capacity is decreasing cost, with additional capacity cheaper than existing capacity
  • As a side-effect benefit, any system that supports high reliability scheduled freight delivery automatically support substantially upgrade passenger rail services

With the focus on Long-Haul Freight, this proposed system has been dubbed the “Steel Interstate” (pdf).

Virginia is facing a Dinosaur Economy proposal to expand I-81 to  eight lanes to cope with the combination of truck and car traffic. RAIL Solutions has turned to the Steel Interstate that:

  • is a lower cost alternative
  • is not addicted to oil,
  • and takes semi-truck traffic off I-81, rather than imposing more semi-truck traffic on the motorists using I-81.

Is Mount Vernon, Washington about to become the epicenter of hate?

Mount Vernon, Washington is now apparently soon to become the PROUD home of native son Glenn Beck.  In fact, their mayor has recently scheduled an event during which he will be presenting Beck with the key to the city later this month.  Some of those who are outraged have suggested changing the locks. The following newspaper article provides additional detail:…

Just in case you might need a refresher regarding Babyface Beck:

Mount Vernon is a regional trade center, a county seat (Skagit County), and a logical stopping off point between the Greater Seattle area and many popular tourist destinations (i.e., the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island, North Cascades National Park, and is approximately halfway between the Seattle metro area and the Canadian border).  The area also hosts the annual Tulip Festival every spring, which provides a reliable financial bonanza for the Mount Vernon-La Conner area.  

CNN Nudges the Overton Window: Bush Behind Bars?

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Meaningless in the grand scheme of things, interesting on the level of political phenomenon and moving the Overton Window.

(CNN) — Could George W. Bush or some of his top aides end up behind bars?

George W. Bush could be investigated for the steps taken after 9/11.

It’s extremely unlikely, but the Obama administration is taking its first steps along a path that could lead in that direction, with the investigation of Central Intelligence Agency interrogators involved in the war on terror.

“You don’t know where these things are going to end up,” former CIA agent Peter Brookes told me. “They could go to very high levels in the government.”


I have never heard of this polling outfit, so it must be considered with a grain of salt, but…


As the myth propagated by Cheney and the Washington Post that ‘torture works’ starts to fade under the facts revealed by the CIA’s own report, and as the slow unraveling exposes the fact that torture actual HURT counter terrorism efforts, perhaps we will get to the real story, and what really matters.

Torture is illegal.

The President and Vice-President authorized and ordered the CIA and military torture.

The President and Vice-President authorized and ordered the CIA and military to create an organized, planned and funded NETWORK of torture.

The President and Vice-President broke the law. And not just the law, but every moral code on earth.


Do the Public Airways Really Belong to the Public?

The Current Media System favors the Representation of Corporate Interests by our Politicians.

Since the Media Airtime costs so much, Politicians generally have little choice but to give Corporate Speech an Audience, in order to get Elected. … Helloooo Corporate Lobbyists!

Click to Enlarge Flowchart A

The Summer of Hate 2009

Hunter S. Thompson revised 2009

The hippies Wingnuts, who had never really believed they were the wave of the future anyway, saw the election results as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the establishment on its own terms by stealing elections and voter suppression.

There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move – either figuratively or literally –

Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury cognitive dissonance to sheer lunacy, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics propaganda to dope violence…

The thrust is no longer for change obscene wealth” or progress retrogression” or “revolution blind obedience,” but merely to escape enslave, to live on the far far right perimeter of a world that might have been they do not understand.











WH Pollster Memo Omits Proof of Strong Support For Public Option

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Under the spreading chestnut tree

I sold you and you sold me

– George Orwell, 1984

     Funny thing is, I don’t remember the part where I sold anyone.

    Okay, so the White House is circulating an upbeat polling memo citing a bunch of public surveys showing that public opinion still tilts heavily in Obama’s favor on health care.

    The memo, by Obama pollster Joel Benenson, doesn’t mention the public option (the White House may not be committed to it) and largely cites general numbers showing support for action and for Obama’s plan.

    But here’s the funny thing: We went back and checked, and virtually every poll cited in this memo also found strong support for the inclusion of a public plan.

By Greg Sargent

    More analysis and my own take on things below the fold.

Bill Moyers On Health Care: “No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President”

Transcript follows.

Death Row Inmate Receives Purple Heart

N.C. death row inmate receives medals earned in Vietnam

James Floyd Davis would never know freedom again.

Now 62 years old, slightly stooped with thick reading glasses and pasty skin, he looks far removed from the wild-eyed loner who snapped in a violent, bloody spree 14 years ago.

And he looks far removed from the tanned, wiry young man who traded an abusive home life for two tours in the jungles of Vietnam – and a chunk of shrapnel that still throbs in his thigh when the weather turns cold.

All of that past, all of that horror and hurt, stared through thick reading glasses at Jim Johnson as the retired Fayetteville therapist tried to discover who James Davis was.

Docudharma Times Sunday September 6

Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance



Published: September 5, 2009

After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.

The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash – $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.

Is America ready to admit defeat in its 40-year war on drugs?

A wave of decriminalisation is sweeping through Latin America

Ed Vulliamy in Tijuana

The Observer, Sunday 6 September 2009

Bruno Avangera, a 40-year-old web designer from Tucumán in Argentina, pauses to relight a half-smoked joint of cannabis. Then he speaks approvingly of “progress and the right decision” by the country’s seven supreme court judges, who decided last week that prosecuting people for the private consumption of small amounts of narcotics was unconstitutional.

“Last year three of my friends were caught smoking a spliff in a park and were treated like traffickers,” he said. “They went to court, which took six months. One went to jail alongside murderers. The others were sent to rehab, where they were treated for an addiction they didn’t have, alongside serious heroin and crack users. It was pointless and destroyed their lives.”

The court’s ruling was based on a case involving several men caught with joints in their pockets.

It’s Not a Blue World After All, Max

“No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.”

Well…shucks, that’ll show ’em. Awesome viral activism, gang. Maybe somewhere, in another parallel Pepperland, Max Baucus and Kent Conrad immediately updated their Facebook status in sweet, serene solidarity. I can see it now, splattered in big, 16-point Verdana Bold atop the “MAX 2008” senatorial profile, right next to the photo of Baucus with azaleas sprouting from his nose and ears. In this universe, of course, our own Blue Meanies sold us all out long, long ago (if Matt Taibbi said so, then it must be true!), and have been stumbling their way to a new round of Snatching Fail From The Jaws Of Win.  

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Overnight Caption Contest (new)

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