Sunday, December 04, 2016

New Secretary of Education is a crackpot

by Benjamin Wermund

The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's Kingdom."

Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.

Her comments came during a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were interviewed a year after voters rejected a Michigan ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to allow public money to be spent on private and religious schools, which the DeVoses had backed.

In the interview, an audio recording, which was obtained by POLITICO, the couple is candid about how their Christian faith drives their efforts to reform American education.

School choice, they say, leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” The two also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend...

Betsy DeVos also described her efforts, using the biblical term “Shephelah,” an area where battles — including between David and Goliath — were fought in the Old Testament.

“Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,” she said...

The audio of the 2001 interview was given to POLITICO by Bruce Wilson, who works for the LGBT rights nonprofit Truth Wins Out and has researched the "Gathering" conferences. The Devos family has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes — including donating hundreds of thousands to "Focus on the Family," a conservative Christian organization that supports so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation...

Thanks to Patheos.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

"Multiple": Another single word cliche

Image result for single word cliches

It's everywhere. In written journalism and used by talking heads on TV. "Multiple" when plain old "many" is called for. 

In the print version of the NY Times a few days ago: Great Barrier Reef Facing Multiple Threats, Report Says. (The online version of the story did better: Great Barrier Reef Threatened by Climate Change, Chemicals and Sediment).

Besides, there's really only one threat to the reef: human activity.

The  single word cliche is a variant of the Elegant Variation rule about using the same word twice in a sentence. Writers making this error apparently want to tart up their prose with a word different than the obvious---and usually shorter---choice.

See also this, this, and this.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Toy train system sponsors a toy drive!

Tour The Inside of a SMART Train and
Join SMART's Holiday Express Toy Drive 

Come tour the inside of our SMART Holiday Express Train, and join us in sharing the spirit of the season.
On Saturday, December 10, bring an unwrapped toy or gift card to our Cotati, Petaluma or Novato San Marin stations during the times listed below.
Come check out the inside of the SMART train, and help make the holidays special for children in need. Donations will be distributed to Toys For Tots and other non-profit organizations serving children in need in Sonoma and Marin counties.
Saturday, December 10
Cotati Station:
980 East Cotati Avenue
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 

Petaluma Downtown Station:
220 Lakeville Street
 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Novato San Marin Station:
7700 Redwood Boulevard
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact us at: or (707) 794-3077

Rob's comment:

Image result for toy trains

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Trump voters are morons

There's no such thing as facts anymore

Morons who voted for Republicans now worry they will take away their health care—as promised

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dumb rail projects crowd out good transit investment

SMART claims that it was paid for by the 1/4 cent sales tax and has only cost $429 million. So I decided to dig and understand if this was the real story.

Remember as you read this SMART clearly states they do not help solve congestion, they position themselves as an "alternative" or "option." (Source: KQED Forum on the Road, June 2016, 16 minute mark.)

SMART promised never to divert funding away from other transportation projects. They purported to be self-sufficient on its 1/4 cent sales tax, for which it claimed in Measure Q to be able to deliver a line from Cloverdale to Larkspur and a multi-use path. Neither of these are being delivered and the excuses continue to pile up. But what about the funding? Has SMART adhered to its promise not to divert?

Here's a list of the SMART's funding to date---this funding is in addition to those generated by the Measure Q sales tax...

As predicted, the SMART train is cannibalizing regional transportation funding that would be better spent and more desperately needed elsewhere. Rather than fighting global warming it is not only increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is diverting funding away from projects that would genuinely have helped with that fight.

One might say, "It had better have very high ridership if it costs this much" but ridership estimates rather than being a pivotal consideration have been a secondary consideration. The SMART Board is all at sea when it comes to working out what fares might attract reasonable ridership---finally landing on higher fares sure to make SMART's ridership even lower...

Rob's comment:

The comments to the above article are a must-read.

The same cannibalization charge can be made against the state's high-speed rail project:

In addition to the[$2.5 billion] stimulus grant, the California project is receiving about $500 million a year from state greenhouse gas fees and an additional $1 billion federal grant approved in 2010. But it faces an estimated $43.5-billion shortfall to complete the San Francisco to Anaheim system by 2029...

It never was likely that the federal government was going to provide the money required to build this system. It's particularly unlikely now that the Republicans control the government. That's a lot of money already wasted on a system that's unlikely to ever get built that could have been used to repair roads all over the state, including in San Francisco and in Marin.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

President Obama, release the JFK documents

From JFK Facts.

[The following is an open letter from 22 JFK authors and investigators addressed to the White House General Counsel. The letter calls for full enforcement of JFK Records Act in October 2017.]

November 18, 2016

The Hon. W. Neil Eggleston
Counsel to the President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20502

Dear Mr. Eggleston,

October 26, 2017 will mark the 25th anniversary of the JFK Records Act, one of the most successful full disclosure measures in the annals of open government law. We write to ask your support for effective enforcement of the Act now and under the next administration.

The JFK Assassination Records Act was approved unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 26, 1992. The Act resulted in the declassification of some 4 million pages of records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. The Act also serves as a model for other open government measures that have made public key chapters in the nation’s history without compromising legitimate secrets. As President Obama said in August, “we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.”

The JFK Records Collection is now the single most-requested body of records at National Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Scholars, journalists, historians, and students have found these records invaluable for writing the history of the Cold War, Kennedy’s presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Warren Commission, Vietnam, and Watergate.

The final test of the law will come on October 26, 2017. That’s when all of the redacted documents in the collection, as well as nearly 3,600 JFK records still withheld in full, are scheduled to be declassified in their entirety. The staff of the National Archives is now preparing for the online release of all material before the statutory deadline, an ambitious goal that we hope will be fulfilled.

One provision of the Act gives federal agencies the right to request continued postponement of JFK records after 2017, if release would result in “identifiable harm” that outweighs the public interest. As authors, historians and investigators, we believe withholding any portion of any JFK records would result in identifiable harm to the public interest. After 53 years, continuing JFK secrecy would provoke unnecessary suspicion and flout Congress’s clear preference for full disclosure within 25 years of 1992. And it would deny the American people access to portions of our history.

We ask you, as White House Counsel, to affirm and uphold the spirit and language of the JFK Records Act, and to instruct all U.S. government agencies to fully release all assassination-related records on or before October 26, 2017.


Robert Blakey, general counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)
Russ Baker, author
Rex Bradford, President, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Deb Conway, Publisher, JFK Lancer
Dan Hardway, HSCA investigator
Dan Ellsberg, author
Doug Horne, Assassination Records Review Board analyst
Brian Latell, Former CIA Cuba analyst
Jim Lesar, attorney
Ed Lopez, HSCA investigator
Joan Mellen, author
Jefferson Morley, author
John Newman, author
Gerald Posner, author
Dick Russell, author
Larry Sabato, author
Peter Dale Scott, author
Phil Shenon, author
Oliver Stone, director
Anthony Summers, author
Robbyn Swan, author
David Talbot, author
Howard Willens, asst. counsel Warren Commission

Thanks to Alternet.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

US media and Jihad

A news alert from the Washington Post:

"Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State student, drove a speeding car into a crowd outside a classroom building Monday morning officials said, then got out and slashed at people with a large knife, sending 11 people to the hospital in what authorities said was a planned assault. 

Officials said they had no information on a possible motive and said that campus video cameras showed Artan was alone in the car."

As soon as I saw this guy's name, I knew what his motive was: individual Jihad

Google "stabbing jihad" and you quickly get a list of other recent examples.

I loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for, except that he at least pretended to take Islamic fascism seriously, which surely got him some votes. Banning all Muslims from entering the US is dumb and probably unconstitutional, but acknowledging that we have an Islam problem is at least a start at understanding the issue.

Local liberals have a problem understanding this issue.

President Obama and Hillary both carefully avoided mentioning Islam after such attacks, apparently for diplomatic reasons and not wanting to offend Muslim majority countries. (See The speech on Islam that Hillary needs to give and Liberals failing to talk honestly about Islam.)

Islam has an extremist problem, and Islam's problem is also our problem. If Muslim countries don't like our leaders saying that, too fucking bad.

Unlike some of Trump's associates, I don't think Islamist extremism by individuals like this is an "existential" threat to our country's existence. 

But it is now and in the future a threat from people like the Ohio State student, who see it as their divine duty to kill unbelievers wherever and however they can. These fanatics can't destroy the US, but they can do a lot of damage and kill of lot of people. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives, since there is no obvious or easy solution to individual jihad.

We should be grateful that this fanatic didn't have an automatic weapon.

Islamic State claims it "soldier" carried out Ohio State attack

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Elizabeth DeVos: Anti-gay activist is Secretary of Education

Getty Images

...During the campaign, Candidate Trump endorsed a vastly expanded “charter school” system and pledged to divert $20 billion in federal funds away from public schools. It would end up financing Southern segregation academies, religious schools, and private and for-profit ventures. To do this Trump was going to tie federal dollars to individual children, so wherever they went, the dollars would follow.

Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education could hardly be worse. Right-wing billionaire Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos has spent decades and millions of dollars in campaigns to privatize, defund, and destroy public education in her home state of Michigan and in the United States...

DeVos is a product of Christian education and she and her family members are involved across-the-board in right-wing activities including anti-gay marriage efforts and covert for-profit military operations. DeVos never worked in public education in any capacity and her children all attended Christian academies...

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Preying on motorists: The city's take

Since the MTA is no longer issuing its annual Transportation Fact Sheet, we have to look through its Proposed Operating Budget for 2016 to find out how much the anti-car city makes directly from preying on motorists. 

Pages 15-19 provide an idea of where the agency gets its money. To get a total for what is directly extracted from motorists, I included parking tickets, parking meters, red light tickets, the boot program, neighborhood parking permits, towing fees, bridge tolls, the gas tax, and the many city-owned parking lots/garages.

Note that the city makes twice as much on parking tickets as it does from parking meters.

This is an under-estimate, since I don't know what a lot of the line items are that should be added to the total. The Transportation Fact Sheet used to do that for the public.

The total: $216 million, which is more than 20% of the MTA's billion dollar budget.

The MTA has 6,263 employees, which is where most of the money goes (budget, page 20).

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Bird of the Day: black oystercatcher

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump's financial threat to San Francisco

The Trump administration threatens to punish sanctuary cities by cutting the money they get from the federal government.

The Chronicle has reported this amount as around $1 billion. 

From this Examiner story, we learn that it's more than $1 billion:

Citing the Controller’s Office, Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that San Francisco directly receives $478 million a year from the federal government and another $915 million annually from the state — much of which is federal money. That does not include federal funds for major transportation projects like the Central Subway from Market Street to Chinatown, Peskin said.

When you look at this from the Controller's office, you see where Peskin got the $478 million and where the city apparently gets more than $500 million from the state in "pass-through" money. When I asked about the Chronicle's $1 billion number, the Controller's office replied:

The Chronicle story likely includes federal revenues passed through the state (e.g. TANF, food stamps, etc.); whereas the numbers provided previously are strictly federal revenues sent directly to the City. We are in the process of breaking out these pass-throughs and can provide you with this information when it is available if you desire.

With a budget of $9 billion, a billion dollar cut would be a major financial crisis for the city.

The Feds are paying most of the cost of the Central Subway project and the $26 million Masonic Avenue bike project.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The alt-right and neo-racism

From Kevin Drum:

The David Duke version of racism may be repugnant, but for that very reason it's fairly easy to fight. There are just too many people who are put off by it.

The Steve Bannon version is far more effective. Partly this is because, yes, critics will overreach and discredit themselves. Partly it's because his more subtle attacks on "political correctness" don't put off as many people. Partly it's because he assures people they can have racist attitudes without actually being racists. And partly it's because his sub rosa approach is just plain harder to expose...

Rob's comment:
Yes. The worst of Trump's supporters hate political correctness because it means they can't call black people "niggers" and gay people "queers" anymore. But bigots like Bannon instead brandish the Confederate flag as a symbol of "cultural heritage" and endorse voter suppression to make it harder for black people to vote.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Van Jones and "The messy truth"

From Sunday's New York Times:

...Central to his[Van Jones's] progressive mission is finding common ground with right wingers, even as he disagrees with them on matters big and small...

“There’s a ritual Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots quality to TV news, where everyone is supposed to come bludgeon the other person with their talking points,” Mr. Jones said. “And over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve fallen out of love with that. I think the truth is messy.”

That segues neatly to Mr. Jones’s new web series for CNN, called — what else? — “The Messy Truth.”

It debuted in late October, and the first episodes featured Mr. Jones going to Gettysburg, Pa., where he spoke with empathy and open-mindedness to Trump supporters, who discuss their economic concerns and heartbreak over being branded as racists simply because they support Mr. Trump.

Several thanked Mr. Jones at the end for really listening to them and asked him to pose for pictures. The symbolism of this black man surrounded by a phalanx of star-struck white Trump supporters was hard to miss. (A televised special of “The Messy Truth” will air on CNN Dec. 6)

Consequently, Mr. Jones didn’t want people to infer from his election-night comments that he thinks all of President-elect Trump’s supporters are bigots. At the same time, he thought it was essential not to brush aside the role of racism in Mr. Trump’s ascent...

Rob's comment:
Trump supporters are suffering "heartbreak over being branded as racists simply because they support Mr. Trump"? Boo fucking hoo! 

If you voted for Donald Trump, you voted for racism, not to mention misogyny and sexual assault. Trump made his racial appeal explicit during the campaign.

I wish Jones well in his TV career; he's trying to walk a fine line. But I admit I lack "empathy" for those crybabies. Taking a selfie with Jones doesn't mean you're not a racist.

Turns out the reports about the downtrodden and "forgotten" Trump supporters are bullshit:

According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.

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Aftermath November 2016 from Steve Cohen on Vimeo.

Thanks to the Friendly Atheist.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Friendly Atheist

Too late on this great principle. We're in for four years of Christian crap under Trump, who doesn't have a religious bone in his body.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

$40 million for 131 passengers: Smart?

From the Marin Independent Journal:

[Mike]Arnold believes SMART is an expensive project that will not significantly improve traffic or carry the numbers of passengers SMART expects.

But now that the train is leaving the station, it should not go farther south than San Rafael, he says.

An environmental impact statement for the Larkspur extension projects a ridership of 131 people a day, he says — “$40 million for 131 riders on a concept."

“To an economist like myself, that seems like a really bad buy. It’s a lot of money to be spent on something that is likely to generate more traffic congestion on Second and Third (streets in downtown San Rafael), potentially backing up cars onto Highway 101 during the congested peak hours.

“To the extent that they do that, they’re going to generate far more congestion than any riders that they’re ever going to take to near the Larkspur ferry.”

See Officials scramble to overhaul San Rafael Transit Center to accommodate SMART trains. As usual, the comments to this story are essential reading.

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The soul of the American people

From H.L. Mencken:

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Thanks to Roger Cohen

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

London Breed, Dean Preston, and "progressive" leadership

Dean Preston, left,
and London Breed are running to represent District 5 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
Photo: Jessica Christian, SF Examiner

Tim Redmond on the re-election of London Breed as District 5 Supervisor:

And I have to say: The race in D5 was far, far closer than anyone in the mainstream of even progressive political thought expected. I heard all kinds of people who might have been helping Preston say they saw no reason to piss off the current board president when her challenger had no chance of winning. But when you look at the results, if all the folks in leadership positions who so often say that we need a progressive majority on the board had gone out and pushed for Preston, he would have won.

Preston gave District 5 voters little reason to vote for him, since, as I pointed out in February, he essentially ran a one-issue campaign---it was all about housing. His website had no "issues" section to inform voters about where he stood on other issues; it was just about raising money for his campaign.

And why exactly do "we need a progressive majority on the board"? There really is little difference between the so-called progressives and moderates in San Francisco, since all are more or less liberal Democrats. People like Redmond who call themselves "progressives" apparently think they're morally and politically superior to the rest of us mere "liberals," but the actual differences when it comes to voting as a supervisor are often hard to detect.

The danger of running a one-issue campaign: you better convince voters you're a lot better than your opponent on that issue. My prediction on how the housing issue would play out in the Breed-Preston campaign:

Incumbent Breed will probably be able to fuzz the housing issue by essentially agreeing with Preston that eviction is bad and that we need more affordable housing, which means he'll have to define himself by his positions on other issues.

He tried to do a little of that at the September forum, but that late attempt mostly lacked specifics, and he made muddled, mystifying statements like this:

He[Preston] added that his work in community-based planning efforts has given him the skills and experience needed to expand the District 5's pedestrian and bike infrastructure. "We know that our city has never been more congested than it is now," he said. "That's a result not of population increase; it's a result of poor planning."

The population of San Francisco has in fact increased significantly in recent years, and, given City Hall's misguided smart growth development policies, it will be increasing a lot more in the near future. Preston is right that increased traffic congestion is a direct "result of poor planning," but what does expanding "pedestrian infrastructure" even mean? More sidewalks? 

Except for the Panhandle and Masonic Avenue, where specifically in District 5 can more bike lanes be created? And of course Preston never took a position on the dumb Masonic Avenue bike project that is now under construction in the middle of District 5.

Population growth aside, gentrification means more motor vehicles are registered in the city every year, since---surprise!---well-off people tend to own cars instead of riding Muni.

London Breed would have been vulnerable against a candidate who ran an issue-based campaign, since she was wrong---even goofy---on a lot of issues. Alas, Dean Preston wasn't that candidate, which is why he deserved to lose.

As promised, I refused to vote for either of them. The District 5 ballot had Breed and Preston alone on the last page. When I left the ballot blank, and the machine rejected it, a baffled precinct worker asked, "You don't vote for either of them?" Nope! She then pushed the button that allowed the blank card to go through.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Repugs are awful and Trump is their perfect representative

Maybe we're supposed to be all bipartisan now and give our new president a chance---even Dave Chapelle says so---but many of us will be floating turds in that punch bowl for the next four years.

President Obama was obligated to invite Trump to the White House to affirm the country's democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power, but the rest of us have different duties.

Maybe it shouldn't have been, but the thing that surprised me most about the primaries and the general election was how awful the Republican Party has become. If some version of fascism comes to our country, that party will provide the political nucleus and the shock troops.

And it really is about race with the Repugs:

Racism is a very real driver of Trump’s success. As the ANES[American National Election Studies] data shows, economic and social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus. Where to go from here? More research will certainly come, but it seems clear to me that Democrats need to begin organizing and mobilizing. Democrats need to vigorously fight voter suppression techniques and take seriously their ability to reduce turnout, particularly among young people, low-income people and people of color. Turnout in the presidential election was dampened by new voting restrictions and closed polling places...(Yep, race really did Trump economics: A data dive on his supporters reveals deep racial animosity).

I suppose it's possible to be intelligent and a racist, but most Trump supporters are apparently stupid and ignorant: two thirds of his supporters think President Obama is a Muslim and 59% think he wasn't born in the US! Gee, I wonder where that came from?

Watching the 60 Minutes Trump interview shows us how this contemptible person will be normalized by the media. The major networks have no choice, since their shunning a president is unthinkable---and it would be bad for business.

When I went to CBS for a link, the video of the interview was preceded by one of those vulgar Viagra ads. That seemed somehow appropriate, since it led to this question: how much longer will Lesly Stahl continue to inflict her 74-year-old legs on her audience? Does anyone want Charley Rose to take off his shirt? 

I love women and their bodies, but surely she's long past the point where she should stop pretending she's sexually attractive to anyone but her husband. Maybe Stahl has too much seniority at the network for producers to tell her to stop.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

...The Band’s first two albums, “Music From Big Pink” (1968) and “The Band” (1969), sounded antiquated and thrillingly modern at the same time; they seemed to open new vistas on American life. The vocals were passed from man to man as if they were a spliff...

Everyone in the Band became famous and wealthy. The bad habits and car crashes commenced. “Oh, you don’t know the shape I’m in,” the keyboard player Richard Manuel sang in one of Mr. Robertson’s best-known songs. He was speaking as if for all of them.

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Donald Trump and bicycles

A message, below in italics, from Dave Snyder at the California Bicycle Coalition made me laugh:

What does the election of Trump mean for our mission to enable more people to ride bicycles? The key to that question lies in the word people. Because our work is truly on behalf of people, not the machines, wonderful as they are, that we want more people to ride.

Right. Never mind global warming and the Supreme Court. Whither the bike revolution under President Trump?

Doesn't look very promising, Dave, according to the video above.

Typical that Trump mangles the facts: he can't get Kerry's age right and Kerry wasn't actually in a race when he had the accident.

Also typical: Trump sponsored a bike race in 1989, which was called---wait for it---Tour de Trump, which of course was a failure.


What does the election of Trump mean for our mission to enable more people to ride bicycles? The key to that question lies in the word people. Because our work is truly on behalf of people, not the machines, wonderful as they are, that we want more people to ride.

This election has filled most of California’s people with fear. A proven racist and misogynist man was elected President, in part by stoking hatred of and encouraging violence against people of color, women, immigrants, the disabled… in other words, most Californians. But it’s important to understand that he only took advantage of deep divisions already present. His election is more a symptom than a cause.

We all need to work to overcome racism and sexism, no matter who is in the White House. It’s work we have to do from the ground up, community by community. As bike advocates, we can’t be successful outside of the context of the lives of the people riding bikes—and the people we want to join us, on more bikes.

Our mission is to enable more Californians to ride bicycles to create healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities for all. That last phrase, for all is essential. Every last one of us on the staff and board is committed to the project of ensuring that our work reaches all our communities. After this election, and before it, too, we ride together for a better California.

Together, we can find a path to social justice, including transportation justice. That path will help to lift people out of poverty, giving everyone opportunities to live in healthy and safe communities where bicycling, among other things, is easier. The new national government will likely make the path more difficult, but in California the election provided new opportunities. In next week’s CalBike Report, we will report more on the implications of California’s election, with some good news.

In the meantime, take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Senate Legislators Speak to the Press After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons

Harry Reid's statement:

I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear---especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear---fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. 

Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. 

Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.

If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.

More Democrats should be talking like Harry Reid right now


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Thursday, November 10, 2016

The delusional left and the election

The enemy?

I agree with the below by Milt Shook. It's a good response to the ultra-left crap by David Talbot in today's Examiner:

...If there was a theme to this election, it was that everyone just wanted it to be over. Of course Donald Trump was an embarrassment as a major party candidate, but voters largely didn’t like Hillary, either. And one major reason for that comes from the left side of the proverbial “debate.” 

You don’t get to trash Clinton in the primaries and then pivot after the convention and say you didn’t mean it. Everything those of us with megaphones do becomes part of the overall politics...

See, here’s the thing; when both sides of the political debate are saying “Hillary sucks,” guess what the overall meme becomes? Of course Trump sucks, but so does Hillary. So why would you expect everyone to vote in droves when both choices are horrible? Why don’t more vocal lefties get that?...

In short, our side of the public debate is long on stridency, strong on opinion and just as fact-free as the far right. Worse, it lacks any kind of political sense. If you are talking about “organizing” right now, you’re clueless...If you spend all of your time complaining that the Democratic Party just doesn’t cater to progressives enough, you really need a new hobby. 

There are TWO viable political parties out there and one of them kicks our asses every election, which means your anti-Democratic rhetoric would seem to be at cross purposes. And you there, you with the petitions, well, stick them up your ass....

When it comes time to be an “activist,” if your strategy doesn’t involve winning elections for Democrats, you should realize that you’re not an activist, you’re a masturbator; you’re not pleasing anyone but yourself. 

If progressives are to have political success, those who think they alone have the definition of “progressive” and that everyone who doesn’t fit into that definition should be shunned. Those who think that being “activist” means never shutting up and thinking about the political consequences should be shoved into a corner somewhere so that they can’t continue to screw things up. 

It’s time to change the entire progressive movement to the model that Barack Obama put forth in 2008, in which our movement is one of hope and positive development. “Everyone sucks because they don’t do what I want” is not a political movement that will ever be successful. At some point, we have to make people like us.

I know, some of you think that people liking us is “selling out,” but you’re too stupid to listen to anyone about anything. You’re the types of morons who think that making the term “progressive” so exclusive that it takes a secret handshake to join is an effective political strategy. Such egocentric behavior as the “Bernie Stans” engaged in over the past two years has no place in a successful political movement. I know you think shouting “No more war!” at the Democratic convention was cute and brought you attention, but you would be wrong. 

I know you think your hashtag #NeverHillary marks you as a “maverick,” but again, you would be wrong. In fact, I’m curious; given that the Democratic Party, which is the only major political party that will even listen to us, has only had complete control of the federal government for two two-year terms since 1980, why would anyone listen to the professional left about anything? When do you people notice that your way stopped working about 50 years ago? When progressives worked WITH the Democratic Party, we accomplished great things. Since progressives started working against them, more and more of those great things we did have been coming apart...

Yet, look at the so-called “progressives” that serve as our voice right now. I mean, for Chrissakes, if you didn’t see similarities between Trump’s and Bernie’s “movements,” you weren’t looking very hard. Both of them portrayed America as an economic hellscape. You would swear that we had 30% unemployment, that everyone in the country wore rags and little girls were selling matches on street corners so their family could buy soup. 

There is a “yuge” problem with that. That type of vision works great for people who would happily vote for someone like Trump, but it works against progressives and anyone more liberal than the average right wing talk radio listener. How do I know this? Nearly 8 million fewer voters showed up to vote for president in 2016 compared to 2012. Again, Trump didn’t win, we lost.

Put simply, “hope and change” works for us, while “Oh my God! The country is falling apart!” works for the far right. Take your “we have to organize!” and shove it. Take your “we have to fight” and shove that, too. And you really have to take your “I blame Democrats” game and shove it so far that you’re forced to puke. Democrats showed up to vote; progressive “independents” did not...

There are TWO viable political parties in this country and one of them is irretrievably broken. And yet it stays in power because we attack the only functioning party in a way that mirrors the right’s attacks on it and causes increasing numbers of voters to stay home. Again, if both parties suck and both candidates suck, why would you expect people to vote in droves, you dumb-asses?

Milt Shook's list of President Obama's accomplishments, most of which will be quickly overturned by President Trump.

Rob's comment:
Talbot's allies---the "activists"---are right now disrupting traffic in San Francisco to protest Trump's election, even though few city residents voted for Trump. So why punish the people of this city with your jerk-off, narcissistic demonstrations? The answer: because you apparently think this election is all about you and your equally delusional comrades. 

See also this and this.

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