Jan 26, 2010

Good News, Everyone

Seriously, there is some very good news on the way, and it probably won't occur in tomorrow's state of the union address. There is a lot of stuff to talk about - Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Google, China, Pakistan, spending freezes, growing unemployment, cybersecurity, Nepalese elections and a lame-duck-esque compromise on health insurance reform - but I want to focus on the positive.

President Obama is giving me a birthday present. On Thursday, which happens to be the 29th anniversary of my birth, Obama and Joe Biden are expected in Tampa, Florida to announce the creation of the United States' first true high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. This announcement has the potential to kick off the creation of tens-of-thousands of jobs and spur economic development. This is the culmination of a plan to initiate spending on new rapid train technology over ten federally-designated corridors that Obama and Biden announced last April.

Though only $8 billion in funding was initially announced, the US Department of Transportation received over $50 billion in rail construction requests. Florida's rail line will cost approximately $2.5 billion, leaving over $5 billion for the government to spend at its discretion. The safest bets are on the government also funding construction on high-speed rail projects in Illinois and California.

If the rail geek in me gets to make another post this week, I'll talk about why the Tampa-Orlando proposal won the first allotment of money, and what lines should be built next.

Jan 21, 2010

Brown Wins In Mass: What Does It All Mean?

Despite Obama's best efforts, Martha Coakley was soundly defeated by Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday's special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. There are a few instant impressions that one can take from this result.

One is that the Democratic brand is tarnished, and the reasons for this are manifold. The unpopularity of health insurance reform in its current format would be one of them. The compromise proposal isn't winning over any conservatives or entrenched Republicans, and fails to motivate liberals to support the policy.

Nationally speaking Obama hasn't been viewed as the inspirational leader his campaign portrayed him to be. Though he remains a popular president in general, either his policies aren't catching on with the electorate or he has not effectively sold them. There is a wealth of valid criticism over his appointments of Wall Street insiders to the Treasury and his continuing support of Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve.

Striking the middle road in Afghanistan has also been a mark against Obama. There is widespread criticism from the left whenever a president escalates a conflict by sending more soldiers overseas. The escalation was made with a rough blueprint for reassessment and withdrawal within a certain number of months, drawing complaints from the right. Liberals again found reason for their bitterness when Obama's withdrawal plans were themselves quickly withdrawn.

In the meantime the economy's stability appears fragile at best. Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed and tens of millions on top of that are underemployed, working for wages and benefits far to low to raise their families. Obama is unable to push any job-creation stimulus without criticism over expansive federal spending, but businesses are so strapped for cash that another round of furloughs and layoffs may be imminent.

Amidst all of this bad news, a special election is held in Massachusetts to replace beloved liberal Senator Teddy Kennedy, and the normally Democratic electorate in that state sent a clear message to President Obama and the Democratic Party: stand up and fight for principled, innovative and vigorous legislation to help WE THE PEOPLE, or step aside.

Jan 19, 2010

No Way to Sugarcoat This

Democrats are going to lose in Massachusetts, and President Obama is going to have a very difficult time of doing anything for the next few months. Grim days in 2010, folks. The last thing the Democratic Party should be doing now is pointing fingers and playing the blame game, but that is exactly what is about to start happening.

While congressional and legislative Democrats are eating their own heads, and the left chases its tail by continuing to blame Bush for all of this country's problems President Obama is aggressively pursuing a centrist agenda against the protests of the left wing of his party and the entire GOP. And the scary thing is that his government's solutions are practical, intuitive and effective.

It seems to this blogger that Mr. Obama has plenty of coattails, but no Democratic candidate has the chutzpah to really ride on them for fear of alienating moderate Republicans and the liberal base.

In the mean time, the GOP is dancing in the streets... or something like that.

Jan 15, 2010

Obama to campaign for Coakley in Mass

It is official, President Barack Obama is extending his coattails and giving Martha Coakley a ride, injecting some much-need life into her campaign to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant seat and maintain the all-important Democratic supermajority in the Senate.

Lets hope that Obama's centrist credentials don't turn off voters in one of the most liberal states in the Union.

Recent polling has Coakley down four points to her opponent, Scott Brown. Out-of-state Republican interest groups have been filling Brown's coffers in hopes of claiming momentum coming into the 2010 primary season. This is not-unlike the out-of-state influences orchestrating the meteoric rise of arch-conservative Rand Paul against the needs and better judgement of Kentuckians.

Jan 14, 2010

Teddy Might Start Rolling

Because it is starting to really look like a Republican will take his seat in the Senate.

What a travesty: The lion of liberalism loses his seat to the Republicans - if this happens it is a sign of the weakness of the Democratic Party and the shortness of Obama's coattails.


On Tuesday evening a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 magnitude on the richter scale struck western Haiti. While Haitian President René Préval has estimated the casualties at over 100,000, the International Red Cross thinks 45,000 to 50,000 people have died.

That number could potentially climb due to health and sanitation issues within Haiti. The country has become synonymous with epidemic disease over the years. With many hospitals either totally destroyed or without water and electricity, the population has no where to go to seek medical treatment.

The infrastructure in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, was notoriously fragile before the quake. In a country with a weak, almost non-existent central government, most buildings were not earthquake safe. The result has been blood-curdling footage of people trapped in collapsing houses and offices, and rubble crushing bystanders on the street. Let this be a lesson to those who think there is no place for federal regulations. A strong central government could not have prevented this earth quake, but Haiti could have been better prepared to deal with a disaster of this magnitude with increased regulation and a large federal workforce.

Government buildings - including Parliament and Haiti's Presidential Palace - were not spared by the quake. President Préval is currently homeless. Citizens of Port-au-Prince are erecting tent cities in public parks and soccer fields that resemble the refugee camps in the Sudan - no sanitation, no order and no safety.

Aid is beginning to trickle in from both neighboring countries and private sources. President Obama has taken a leadership position in offering and delivering help to the Haitian people. Obama has assigned former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to take control of the recovery and relief efforts there, though Obama's fast action has come under fire from the likes of Rush Limbaugh here at home.

Beware of e-mail scams taking advantage of American's big hearts and (comparatively) fat pocketbooks. There are already many scam organizations trying to take advantage of the plight of the Haitian people. Only donate to trusted organizations and don't be afraid to use Snopes to weed out the low-lifes.

I'm Back!

After a long and stressful holiday I am back to the comfortable environs of daily blogging. Go ahead and fire up the noisemakers and confetti cannons.