Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Subway fantasies

San Francisco Subway Vision Heat Map

Actually, "fantasy" is not the best way to describe the subway exercise, though it is entirely fanciful. First, it's a political ploy by Scott Wiener in his campaign for the state senate: he's a man of vision! And it's a PR stunt by City Hall deployed by some of the MTA's many employees.

From the MTA's blog:

To ensure our city remains vibrant and livable, under the direction of Mayor Ed Lee, the SFMTA, the Planning Department and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority have been working hard to make sure our transportation system keeps pace. The Subway Vision is just one piece of a new effort to create a broad, long-range plan for all aspects of transportation called Connect SF, which is meant to lay the foundation for an effective, equitable and sustainable transportation network for the city’s future.

Though fantasizing about trains isn't as cool as the bike fantasy, Streetsblog likes this campaign because trains aren't cars, which is why it supports another fantasy: the high-speed rail project.

Curbed likes the campaign but injects vulgar reality into the discussion:

Of course, the awkward subject of precisely how we’d pay for all of this inevitably came to rain on the collective parade eventually. The final proposal will probably be much less ambitious than everything talked about now, but why not let the people dream?

Yes, there will apparently be a final subway "proposal" by the city later this year, which will presumably have some numbers about what it will cost: $1 billion a mile to dig a subway anywhere in the city.

The hed on SocketSite's story: Here’s Where San Franciscans Most Want New Subway Lines. In fact only 2,600 people participated in the subway PR stunt---in a city of 866,583 people.

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Lincoln Atheists


On the ballot: Dumb rail projects

Image result for train crash pictures
Montparnasse derailment

From the Antiplanner:

If you think the presidential election is stupid, just get a look at all of the cities that are voting on stupid rail transit projects. Los Angeles wants $120 billion; Seattle $54 billion; San Diego, $7.5 billion; San Francisco, $3.5 billion; San Jose, $3 billion; Atlanta, $2.5 billion, Kansas City, $2 billion; Virginia Beach, $310 million; and Tigard, Oregon, which has the chance to kill a $2 billion project in Portland. 

That’s nearly $200 billion worth of stupidity that has rail contractors salivating.

Voters from these cities should look at the experiences other cities have had with rail. Portland opened a new light-rail project a year ago that was supposed to carry 17,000 people a day in its first year. Actual ridership is more like 11,000

Rail apologist Jarrett Walker says he isn’t surprised as rail lines “are designed to encourage denser and more sustainable development in addition to serving people who are there now,” so initial ridership is “almost always disappointing.” 

C’mon, Jarrett: planners took this into account when they made their projections (or if they didn’t they should have). By the way, the article also says the project came in “under budget,” but it doesn’t say that the budget was almost twice as much as the original projected cost, just one more way transit agencies lie about rail transit...

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Repugs invented myth of rigged elections

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Cratering in the polls, besieged by sexual assault allegations and drowning in his own disgusting rhetoric, Donald Trump has been reduced to hollering that November’s election is “rigged” against him. His proof? It looks like he’s going to lose.

Senior Republican leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from this dangerous claim. But Trump’s argument didn’t spring from nowhere. It’s just one more symptom of a long-running effort by Republicans to delegitimize Democratic voters, appointees and leaders. For years this disease has infected our politics. It cannot be cured until Republican leaders rethink their approach to modern politics.

Anyone with children knows that whining about imaginary cheating is the last refuge of the sore loser. But GOP leaders have served up such a steady diet of stories about imaginary cheating that an Economist-YouGov poll shows that 45 percent of Republican voters believe voter fraud is a “very serious problem,” and 46 percent have little or no confidence that ballots will be counted accurately. 

They hold these views even though there is literally no evidence — none, zero, zip — that widespread voter fraud is a factor in modern American elections. A recent study looked at around a billion ballots cast in the United States from 2000 through 2014 and found only 31 instances of impersonation fraud at the polls.

Republican leaders — and even Trump’s running mate — have tried to tiptoe out of the room when Trump makes ever-wilder claims of a rigged election. But as much as these Republicans would like everyone to believe that this is a Trump-only problem, it’s not.

For years, Republican leaders have pushed the lie that voter fraud is a huge issue. In such states as Kansas and North Carolina, and across the airwaves of right-wing talk radio and Fox News, Republican voters have been fed exaggerated and imagined stories about fraud. Interestingly, all that fraud seems to plague only urban neighborhoods, minority communities, college campuses and other places where large numbers of people might vote for Democrats. The purpose of this manufactured hysteria is obvious: to delegitimize Democratic voters and justify Republican efforts to suppress their votes.

The voting-fraud lie has been used to justify the passage of dozens of voter ID laws, typically rammed through state legislatures by Republican partisans. A study by political scientists at the University of California at San Diego recently concluded that strict photo-identification requirements disproportionately suppress turnout by Democratic voters — especially blacks and Latinos. 

Meanwhile, after a key provision in the Voting Rights Act protecting minority voters from discrimination was unceremoniously declared defective by a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court in 2013, those same Republican leaders who seem so concerned about threats to the integrity of our elections have largely remained on the sidelines.

Trump also didn’t invent ominous appeals for partisans to patrol “certain areas” and “go and watch these polling places” where citizens often vote for Democrats. More than three decades ago, the Republican National Committee was caught orchestrating expansive efforts to intimidate individuals at polling places in minority neighborhoods. Federal courts have barred the RNC from engaging in poll-watching activities relating to “ballot integrity, ballot security or other efforts to prevent or remedy vote fraud” in minority areas ever since.

It’s not just voters, either. Trump’s effort to delegitimize federal officials and political opponents also shares a long-standing Republican pedigree.

After Trump was sued for fraud over Trump University, he attacked the legitimacy of the federal judge with Mexican heritage presiding over the case, claiming that Trump’s own bigotry undermined the judge’s neutrality. Paul Ryan tsk-tsked, but Trump was simply joining a long line of Republicans in Congress who have spent years assaulting the federal courts. 

For years, the Republicans have blocked scores of nonpolitical lower-court nominees who haven’t pledged their allegiance to the financial interests of the rich and powerful. These attacks culminated in a national campaign of slime against the president’s highly respected choice to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat. It’s no surprise Trump would conclude that federal judges are fair game.

Similarly, some Republicans pretended to be shocked when Trump asserted that he would follow two-bit tyrants such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and imprison his political rival after the election. 

But for years, congressional Republicans have focused most of their resources on finding some way to brand Hillary Clinton a criminal. A party that wastes millions of taxpayer dollars on eight separate Benghazi investigations — and shouts itself hoarse attacking an FBI director who served as a senior political appointee in a Republican administration when he concludes that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Clinton over her emails — shouldn’t feign astonishment when its presidential nominee echoes their efforts to criminalize American politics.

Democrats and Republicans disagree about a lot of issues. We both fight hard to win elections. But winning isn’t everything. Al Gore understood that when he stood down after the 2000 election. Now Republican leaders seem increasingly concerned that when Trump loses, he won’t follow that example. But Trump’s words and deeds are merely the latest — and loudest — examples in a long line of Republican tactics that are poisoning our political system.

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