RIDING THE RAILS
- My sign today at the Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works had a painting (by an artist friend) of a public transit system with the words "Made in Bath" underneath. Studies show that if they built rail systems at BIW the number of jobs would nearly triple. A no brainer.
- I went to Portland yesterday morning for a meeting about putting a public transit system between that city and Auburn. I've always been a huge supporter of public transit since living in Germany as a kid and seeing the value of it. Funny though that most of my life has been in places that don't have much public transit, like Maine.
- One of the more interesting things about the meeting was the sales pitch coming from the organizers of the event. I never heard the words oil, climate change, nature, or environment ever mentioned. One speaker summed up the prevailing message when he said, "We are not trying to move people - we are trying to drive development" into the places where the commuter rail system would travel and around the stations that would be built in each community where the train stopped. I sadly noted to myself that capitalism has infected every facet of decision making in this country. We can't even talk about public transit without it being taken over by the investors who are looking for the next big development opportunity. It's all about leveraging "public-private partnerships" to fund rail.
- No company makes rail cars in the US so it is likely that the Maine system, if built, would purchase their equipment from Canada.
- But still I continue to support rail expansion because it is anti-car, anti-oil consumption, anti-individualism, and if we got serious about it could help in a small way deal with climate change.
- The news last night brought us word that Obama's new Secretary of War (former Republican senator Chuck Hagel) has announced "missile defense" changes that include: more underground interceptor missiles to be put into Alaska; a possible similar interceptor base in upper New York state or Maine; a second space warfare radar going into Japan; and some changes to Obama's earlier announced schedule (Phase Four plan now being amended) for interceptors that are being used to surround Russia. It appears to me to be more about a push-back by Boeing forces who are behind the long-range Alaska-based interceptors. Soon after coming into office Obama announced that he would scale back that system and instead reward the Chicago-based Crown family who helped him get elected - and they just so happened to be majority owners of General Dynamics which builds the Aegis-based system that he decided to favor. Seems that things are evening back out - it's all corporate $$$ driving the policy.
- There is a very important article being passed around by long-time activist John Stauber. It's called The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats and blows the lid on the Democratic Party colonization of the left in the US. You can see the whole article here
- I have to say that I am intrigued by the new pope story. It's a crumbling church and the revelations that the new pope was involved in throwing radical Jesuit priests under the bus in Argentina guarantees that their "fresh face" will come into "power" already compromised. There is so much corruption in that church - their "holy bank" runs drugs, sells weapons, sells birth control devices while preaching the virtues of just the opposite. Total hypocrisy.