Friday, February 18, 2005

Governor Daniels on Amtrak

No, he's not riding the train, he's in favor of ending the preposterous subsidies Amtrak receives. Daniels will not fight to preserve the subsidies. From the Indy Star:
"Amtrak costs Indiana taxpayers a fortune," Daniels said. "Every time someone gets on an Amtrak train it would be less expensive to buy them an airplane ticket and hand it to them on the platform."
My goodness, but that's a breath of fresh air! Less expensive still would be to allow transportation to be the concern of those using the transportation, but I'll refrain from nitpicking. Right on, Gov!

The downside in the immediate future is that the Amtrak facility in Beech Grove could be shut down without the continued subsidies. That's unfortunate for the workers and families at the facility. I know that they are skilled workers, so they should be able to translate those skills into jobs in other facilities.

The upside is that all residents of this state will be spared some measure of tax burden. This is big picture thinking, and for that, Daniels deserves credit.

Predictably, there are politicians who are looking small picture. US Senator Evan Bayh and US Representative Julia Carson are two have so announced themselves.
"The Beech Grove facility and Amtrak not only provide hundreds of Hoosier jobs but also help improve our air quality and cuts down on traffic congestion and similar problems," Bayh said in a statement.
Unfortunately, the hundreds of jobs that produce for no particular demand is a drag on all six million Hoosiers.

Moreover, the idea that Amtrak reduces traffic congestion is a myth. Most riders are leisure travelers who prefer the leisurely pace of the train. The one exception is the Northeast Corridors, where there is actual commuter demand. Here in Indy? People don't want to take the train. It's way too slow from a-to-b (4:50 by train, 3:00 by car) and still leaves the rider renting a car at the station of destination.

Proof that nobody rides? There is only one direct roundtrip train available daily. The other three offerings are BUS RIDES! This is from Amtrak's website! The current Amtrak fare for an Indy- round trip Chicago is $20. Twenty stinkin' bucks! When demand is low, so is the number of runs, and the prices follow.

Now, let us hope that Daniels, a Republican, can take this very logical position on subsidized rail and prevail on the various Republican regional leaders who are backing another subsidized rail boondoggle on the old Nickel Plate railroad, from Fishers to Indianapolis. Quoth Daniels,
"...the idea of downsizing Amtrak to places where people actually ride trains, as opposed to hitting the taxpayers of Indiana and America over and over for hundreds of millions of dollars to support a losing venture is not something I support."
It's true on the national scale, and true on the local scale.
Poker Results

My second evening of tourney play showed more improvement, as I finished 9th overall, which put me the points for the second week in a row. More on that later.

The most fun I had all evening was the first hand I won. It was a fairly unremarkable hand. There was an ace on the flop, I had an ace in hand, and I check-raised hard. The player making the initial bet correctly guessed that I had the ace, but asked me to tell him. That wasn't happening, so I trotted out one of my favorite Matt Damon lines from Rounders: "Sorry. Funny enough, I forgot".

He was pissed! He said something to the effect that he would get me later. I snickered and acknowledged that he might well.

I was eliminated on the last hand before consolidating the last two tables into the final table. My new friend was nowhere to be found. Again, in losing, there were lessons to be learned.

There are plenty of novices at the table besides myself, but in addition to that, since there is no buy-in, the players tend to be really loose and agressive in betting up lousy hands. What the heck, they aren't betting the rent. As a result, tight play can help a player survive as wild play takes several players out. I took this route. It helped me later, as players reacted to my larger bets assuming that I had the cards since I wasn't playing anything weak.

I discovered that I could bully anybody with a shorter stack of chips. If another player started the betting, so long as nobody else made a bet, and I could raise the bet to put the betting player all-in. Invariably, they chose certain survival over potential elimination. They would fold and I would rake in the chips. Best yet, I never had to show the cards.

I used this ploy successfully four times before being moved to a table where all of the players but one had greater stacks then I did. That one player had only a little more than enough to make the big blind, which she had to put up. She went all-in without even looking at her cards. I was on her left, and another player with a larger stack was on my left. After I called the big blind, he quickly went all-in, and I figured it was little more than an attempt to run her off the table. I believed that he probably didn't have much more than a K-Q or A-10, and with his full stack on the table, he would scare everybody else away. I had pocket 8s. A pair of Jacks showed on the flop. I went all-in, even though I couldn't cover his bet, which was over 1,000 chips. I had about 900. He was shocked that I called. We turned the cards over.

He had a Jack. So, he got much more than he bargained for, taking down two players at once and an extra 900 chips above what he had planned. The lesson is: stick to the game plan, especially when it is working. Two pair was a nice hand, but I was only in for 80 when he went all-in. I could have easily folded and kept the 900 chips, and more importantly, kept playing deeper into the tourney.

Now, as the tournament scoreboard goes, I was in the points both weeks- 50 points for best hand of the night last week, 100 points for 9th place this time. I'm going to need to do much more if I'm going to advance to the next round. In fact, I pretty much have to win a night. Only the top five in points will advance, and winning is good for 1,000 points. I'm guessing there will be five winners, so five players with at least 1,000 points. Points system.

LPIN Central Committee member Chris Ward and his girlfriend Beth did not fare so well this time. Still, with Beth's 4th place finish in the first week, she's in a position I would happily trade for.

See you at Barley Island next Thursday!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Poker Tonight

Join me for Texas Hold 'Em tonight in Noblesville, at the Barley Island Brewery. Nothing to lose- there is no buy-in fee, just a nice for-fun tournament setting. Registration is from 6-7pm, with play starting at 7:00.

Fellow LP leader Chris Ward will be there, too. Let's see if I can't outlast him tonight.
Another Distraction

With another recent post, I began to chronicle the difference between the issues the candidates were campaigning on and what they are bringing up as legislative proposals.

This time? Abortion.

Nobody volunteered positions on abortion after the primaries, when Republicans were trying to sort out there allegiences. Now, there are ten different bills circulating that address the topic.

There is a budget crisis in this state. I do not describe the abortion issue as a crisis. Abortion is still the law of the land, and should probably be revisited in debate at the Federal level. So, at the state level, I describe it as a distraction from dealing with the real crisis, which is the budget.

Observe this lengthy quote from the Indy Star story, where the circus-like, emotional gushing makes what seems to me the perfect distraction.
"During Wednesday's House debate, several lawmakers shared emotional, personal stories.

Rep. Bob Alderman, R-Fort Wayne and chairman of the House Public Policy and Veterans Affairs Committee, talked about his own rough childhood and how that shaped his anti-abortion views. Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, stormed out of the room in tears before returning to talk about the babies she lost during pregnancy.

Austin's story brought Rep. Robert Kuzman, D-Merrillville, to tears. Kuzman, who was adopted and who adopted a child of his own, has worked to improve Indiana's adoption laws.

Rep. Cleo Duncan, R-Greensburg, cried as she talked about how a near-abortion affected her family.

And an angry Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, left the hearing after her vote and yelled to an anti-abortion proponent who approached her: "In the name of Jesus, get out of my face," before threatening to call in Indiana State Police troopers.

The Statehouse is turning into Bedlam. Please- Don't forget about the budget. It is still the real Number One priority.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Interesting Comments By A Conservative

George Will talks about something he calls "the church of true conservatism" in his most recent column. He mentions libertarianism, and clarifies that libertarianism is distinct from "true conservatism".

I couldn't agree more. What gets my attention is not the mere mention of libertarianism in his column. It is that Will, a highly respected and influential conservative columnist, describes Arnold Schwartzeneggar as a libertarian conservative, and says that, "his conservatism ... Is the point of the spear in conservatism's primary political challenge -- defeating liberalism's attempt to Europeanize America".

Libertarian purists might bristle Will's description of Arnold as a libertarian. However, Will cites thusly:
"His libertarianism extends beyond the theory of political economy he
encountered as a young man in the writings of Milton Friedman, and beyond the
exuberant entrepreneurialism of his life, to social issues. He favors abortion
rights, does not care if any state's voters endorse gay marriage, and has "no
use" for a constitutional amendment barring that."

It is the fiscal side that Gov. Ah-nohd is focusing on, and in that area, the Governor is a-ok. I like that Will has reminded conservatives of Friedman. They need that reminder. In fact, we could use a Governor here in Indiana much like him. Ironic that Mitch Daniels had the nickname 'The Blade' when in DC on the Bush Administration. Daniels' solution to budgetary shortfalls? A laughable 'temporary' tax on those earning $100,000 or more. Arnold, as a Libertarian governor would do, proposes cuts across the board. From Will:
"He proposes to cut spending across the board when the budget is not balanced,
and to adopt nonpartisan redistricting by a panel of retired judges. This latter
might pick the lock that the Democratic Party and its base in the public
employees unions have on the Legislature. Schwarzenegger's program aims to
curtail the distributional politics that drive government's expansion."

In fact, all of these could as easily have come from a libertarian governor.

I like that will credits Arnold's libertarianism. If the case of California is to be in the public eye, and Arnold is instituting libertarian solutions to the extent his state's legislature will allow it, let's make sure that libertarianism is credited when the successful outcomes arrive.

I get a kick out of the searches that bring people to this page. Check out some of the recent ones, either Google or Yahoo searches:

On Yahoo, "the evil Mitch Daniels," this page turns up 5th from the top. I don't think Mitch is evil, but I do think that he could cut the budget 2% across the board.

On Google, "Nancy Pelosi's Makeup at 2005 State of the Union response", this page turns up 12th from the top. I have no idea why. I didn't notice a thing about her makeup in the response. Harry Reid, however...

Back to Yahoo for, "Mitch Daniels Sucks," this page turns up 11th from the top. Why all the Mitch hate? I don't think Mitch sucks. Actually, I admire his boldness. I don't agree with him on everything, especially when he proposes raising taxes, and I certainly would have preferred a Governor Gividen, but it beats a Governor Kernan so far.

On Yahoo, the #1 response for the query, "Facts on Atocha train station", is the Kole Hard Facts blog. I'm ahead of CBS, MSNBC, and other news agencies. Go figure that. I happened to be at Atocha station about six weeks before it was bombed last year, so I blogged my experience at the station. It's a wonderful station, or was, with luscious tropical plants and trees throughout the interior. I included a link to some of my pictures. Maybe that did it.

It amazing to me that since this is mainly a political blog, I get more hits on things non-political. The name "Victoria Snelgrove" still ranks as the highest bringing people to my site. She was killed in a crowd control effort after the Red Sox won the World Series. I might have thought that the word 'libertarian' would have been the top draw. Alas. What the heck- I'm glad for people checking out the site, and the libertarian politics, even if they were looking for other things.