Archive for January, 2008

Dulles rail

Rumors and uncertainty fill the void left by teetering Metro project

That argument is the underpinning behind the position of Dranesville Supervisor John Foust, who sees the FTA’s refusal to fund the current project as an opportunity.

“This gives us another chance to do the project right,” said Foust.

His vision for the future of the project echoes the stance of many Vienna and McLean residents and TysonsTunnel.org. They want the FTA to put the project and its allocated funding on hold, allowing planners to submit one that’s competitively bid and more palatable to Tysons Corner residents.

Highly placed sources in the Tysons business community say that this is what the FTA is leaning toward, but time will have to tell. Other sources close to the negotiations with the FTA say that the tunnel remains “a pipe dream.” Such a time out would almost certainly require at least another year of delay, during which construction costs for the project would almost certainly rise.

Immediately after the FTA’s announcement, rumors swirled that Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation would find some other way to appropriate the money. According those who work in Congress, the idea is problematic.

“I don’t know how that would happen. $900 million is a lot for an earmark,” said Austin Durrer, an aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th).

Since this weekend, congressional and Fairfax County leaders have said they are not working on alternative solutions, but on bringing the FTA around.

Waiting in the wings is the specter of private funding, but since it would almost certainly involve ceding control of the Dulles Toll Road to a private backer – the same concept that was unsuccessfully proposed before the toll road was turned over to the airports authority – many area lawmakers are uncomfortable with the idea.

“It would be very problematic to go forward with just private funding,” said county board chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At large).

I would hope it would be a deal killer.

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Concerning telecom immunity

Glenn Greenwald

Of all the creepy post-9/11 phrases to which we’ve been subjected (“The Patriot Act” – “Protecting the Homeland” – “enhanced interrogation techniques” – “Department of Homeland Security”), I think the creepiest and most Orwellian is the phrase “good patriotic corporate citizen,” used to describe companies which broke our laws because the President told them to. It’s now apparently a Patriotic Duty to obey the President even if he tells you to violate the law.

The accompanying claim that companies should never “second-guess” the “judgment of the President regarding what’s legal” — which I just heard from John Cornyn and Saxby Chambliss — is equally creepy, and is the crux of the authoritarian case for telecom immunity

Judge Dan Haywood in Judgment at Nuremberg

if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs – these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes. But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men – even able and extraordinary men – can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs… The murder of children… How *easily* that can happen! There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the “protection” of the country. Of “survival”. The answer to that is: *survival as what*? A country isn’t a rock. And it isn’t an extension of one’s self. *It’s what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult!* Before the people of the world – let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what *we* stand for: *justice, truth… and the value of a single human being!

Sibel Edmonds

Buckle up, there’s much more coming.

Missing from Obama’s “round table”

Camille Stewart

Letter from Obama

I wrote a letter to Obama on his campaign website asking him to support Dodd on FISA and oppose telecom immunity. I don’t have the letter, but it was all of two sentences. I assumed that it would be read by a software bot which would spit out is FISA form letter in response. I also assumed that Obama would get a mail report telling him how many people were writing about this.

I am fine with software bots, neither the candidate, nor his staff have time to read this other than tabulate how much mail and what subjects. What I did not expect was the form letter I did get:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for sharing your observations on the tone of the dialogue in this campaign. This is an aspect of modern politics that understandably troubles many voters, and I take your comments seriously.

In the final stage of the primary campaign, candidates are seeking to contrast their positions and public record with those of their opponents. That is not only legitimate public discourse, it helps individual voters decide which candidate best reflects their aspirations for the country.

There is a distinction, however, between laying out differences between you and your opponents and “attacking” them personally. I have no interest in crossing that line. But, in my view, pointing out inconsistencies in terms of how people present themselves now versus what they were talking about years before is fair in a campaign with consequences of this magnitude.

We owe it to our country and our Party to put forward the best presidential nominee possible. And to do that, every candidate must be tested. They must answer tough questions, and tell the American people what they believe, even when it’s not the easiest thing to do politically. If we nominate a candidate who won’t explain his or her positions or can’t defend their record, that person will have a very difficult time against the Republican nominee.

Democrats need to present the American people with a fresh start and a clear choice next November. When I’m your nominee, my opponent won’t be able to say that I was for the war in Iraq before I was against it; or that I supported an extension of the Iraq war into Iran; or that I support the Bush-Cheney diplomacy of not talking to leaders we don’t like. And he won’t be able to say that I flip-flopped on something as fundamental as whether our nation should use torture.

The stakes are too high to leave it to the press and the pundits to define the candidates before voting and caucusing begins. That’s why I will continue to ask the other candidates tough questions and hold them to account for vague or inconsistent answers. And I welcome the same questions from them, and from you. No one’s perfect, so everyone needs to admit when they’re wrong, and show that they’ve learned from their mistakes.

The politics of hope doesn’t mean hoping you don’t get asked tough questions. It means that we debate our plans and our records openly, without the mean-spirited personal attacks that have plagued our politics for too long. It means that after a full and open debate, when all the facts are aired and all candidates have their say, the voters will decide.

I’m spending most of my campaign time this year talking to the American people about who I am and what I will do as President. I’ve set out a vision for a nation that is more united, healthier, better educated, more secure financially, safer at home, and more respected abroad. I’ve listened to America – to workers and farmers and policy experts – about how to achieve this vision, and developed policies to get us there.

I’ve done more than talk about change. I’ve made it happen during more than a decade as a legislator, as a community organizer, a civil rights lawyer, and a law professor. I’ve demonstrated the ability to practice the politics of hope and get real results. I’ve brought people together to achieve big goals when others said it couldn’t be done, brought a new level of transparency and openness to the Illinois government and Congress, and built the largest grassroots movement in the history of presidential politics with the most small donors and without money from lobbyists and special interests. To learn more about my accomplishments and proposals for the future, please visit barackobama.com/issues.

This is the leadership I will bring to America as president, and I hope you’ll look past the headlines and the political posturing and judge for yourself. It’s going to take millions of people united for change to fix our politics, so I hope you’ll join us.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

My letter made no reference to the tone of the campaign. Frankly I did not have much use for his constant disrespecting Clinton’s work as first lady of Arkansas and then the US. It is insulting to women to suggest this is not experience. But I did not pay much attention to it at the time, save that it did not give me a better opinon of Obama.

This confirms my view that Obama thinks this election is all about him and that he is deliberately building a personality cult and egging his supporters on.

Other than vote for Edwards I don’t know what to do.

Health insurance is not health care

Today’s Short Health Insurance Lesson

It is about the words “universal coverage” and “single-payer coverage.” The two are not identical. Note that a candidate could be for universal coverage but not for having a single source of funds. That would mean wanting everyone to have insurance but the insurance could be sold by many different firms, some for-profit, some not-for-profit, and by the government. A “single-payer” proposal is something different and greatly hated by the insurance industry, naturally.

Responding to the cult of the personality

What Obama Really Meant

More and better Democrats

John Edwards for President


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