Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Linkage

My friend Steve has been avidly reading on water policy, and has turned me on to some interesting reading- such as the book Cadillac Desert, which chronicles our disastrous western water policy.

Another great read is the Aguanomics blog, by economist David Zetland. He's a free-market economist, and lately, he's been showing example after example of how the government monopoly utility method of water allocation is ensuring environmental disaster. He believes markets would inject higher prices, which would be a good thing, for it would cause people to be less wasteful and more judicious in their water usage.

The link has been added, at the right.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Candidates

Two candidates have campaign staff with ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the form of lobbyists for the lenders. Two candidates have been guarded in their comments about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One has not.

Bob Barr had this to say about the lending collapse:
Oklahoma City, OK -- The latest financial crisis involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee home mortgages, demonstrates yet again how government intervention in private markets almost always comes to grief. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are nominally private, but were created by Congress and enjoy significant advantages over truly private companies, including cheaper borrowing, lower capital requirements, and an implicit federal guarantee.

As a result, the two organizations behaved irresponsibly, confident that they were “too big to fail.” They own $5.1 trillion in mortgage debt, almost half of the nation’s total. With the sub-prime lending crisis in full swing, their losses are up, their capital is down, and their ability to borrow is falling. Immediate privatization is difficult because the markets doubt the organizations can survive without government support. Insolvency and a forced asset sale would roil both the housing and financialmarkets.

These problems are almost entirely the fault of the federal government. Congress created programs to artificially inflate the housing market, established Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be exempt from normal scrutiny, oversight, and competition, and expanded their activities in response to the sub-prime lending meltdown. Government must get out of the mortgage business, but must do so in a way that least harms taxpayers and the economy.

Link to full Barr statement.

Today, the Washington Post treated its' readers to a rare piece of actual journalism, wherein the campaign team members for Obama and McCain who have also lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are named. This is not small-change lobbying, by the way:
That payroll has cost Fannie and Freddie nearly $200 million in lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade, according to lobbying reports and Federal Election Commission disclosures. It has also won them plenty of protection from calls for greater regulation, less federal protection, and even nationalization.

$200 million. That's a lot of money to syphon away from the core business in order to buy special favors.

McCain the Maverick. Omaba the Agent of Change. Bullshit!
Reviving The Call For A Greenway

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization is bent for leather to build a light rail starter on the old Nickel Plate rail corridor, which runs northeasterly from Indianapolis to Castleton, Fishers, and Noblesville, roughly parallel to Allisonville Road. It is the trackage that the annual Fair Train runs on, from the Fishers station to the Fairgrounds.

I have long maintained that this isn't even the best possible use for the corridor. Make it a greenway, like the Monon.

You'll note that nobody is clamoring to re-track the Monon. Why is that?

Well, it runs through Carmel, for one thing. Wouldn't want to upset their apple cart. After all, they have enjoyed a significant boost to their property values thanks to the Monon Trail. There are other benefits that light rail cannot provide: The greenway encourages a healthy lifestyle. People actually use it. It gobbles far fewer tax dollars to create than a light rail line will.

I can't help but believe there are politically connected contractors waiting in the wings, hoping this light rail boondoggle gets built on the Nickel Plate. There is a lot of money to be made in restoring and improving the trackage, supplying locomotives and passenger cars, building fences, landscaping, etc.

I know that the price of gasoline has pinched everyone. It hurts. But let's not throw good money after bad. Most people aren't going to ride the rails, despite chatter to the contrary. It's only one line, and is unlikely to take the rider to their ultimate destination. Congestion on I-69 isn't very heavy at all. (Drive in Chicago, for comparison.) Parking downtown is plentiful and cheap.

Build the Nickel Plate Greenway!

Comment can be posted to the MPO.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Daily Kos Noticed

A recent Daily Kos article noted the under-inclusion of Bob Barr in national reporting and polling.
First we had the anti-war republican (sic) Ron Paul, polling well but consistently ignored in any primary discussions.

Now we have the viable republican (sic) alternative Bob Barr consistently ignored by CBS, NBC and ABC, as well as the corrupt clowns at Fox, CNN and most of MSNBC.

Going foward, we should chart how frequently (or infrequently) Bob Barr comes up in polling.

The July 11th Zogby has Bob Barr receiving the following:

9% in New Mexico
8% in Colorado
6% in Florida
5% in Virginia
4% in North Carolina

Bob Barr is a major factor in the 2008 race, far more relevant statistically than Ralph Nader in 2000 or 2004.

Yet our corrupt assclowns in the National Media continue to ignore Barr, creating a McCain/Obama vacuum, with the occasional mention of Ralph Nader thrown in.

Now, clearly Daily Kos has an agenda- mainly, it wishes to see Obama elected, and it views Barr as one who would 'take votes from McCain'. That's cool. Go for it. Please push for more inclusive coverage. But I think that the assumption that Libertarians are 'Republican alternatives', or only draw votes from conservatives is far off the mark. Barr is running to the left of Obama on Iraq, on FISA, and on some other issues where the Democratic base is being alienated by Obama's rightward push to the center.

I myself have never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, but I have voted for a Democratic one. There are plenty of Libertarians who had their political beginnings in the Democratic Party or other areas of The Left.
JibJab on Campaign

"It's time for some campaignin'!" (h/t Gregg Puls)

"When we promise you anything you want to hear". Couldn't be more on the mark.
Indiana Governor Fundraising Notes

(Fishers, IN)- The Indy Star had an interesting report on the fundraising efforts of the three candidates for Indiana governor. Here are the bottom lines:

Mitch Daniels (R): raised $3.37 million + in 2008, through reporting period
Jill Long-Thompson (D): $2 million + in 2008
Andy Horning (L): $500 in 2008

You get what you pay for, and sadly, Andy Horning isn't going to be getting any notice in a year where the media is going to be clogged with competing messages from the other two, in addition to the presidential candidates. I ran a very active statewide campaign in 2006 for Secretary of State, making more than 200 campaign appearances across the state. I spent some $40,000, mainly on radio ads. The results? I received fewer votes than Rebecca Sink-Burris, our candidate for SOS in 2002. The lesson? Appearances mean nothing. Paid media, hence name recognition, is everything. Make of that what you will, but that's the lesson.

Other notes:
Long Thompson got a big chunk of her money from two sources: the Service Employees International Union, which gave her $700,000 from January through June and has given her campaign a total of $1.225 million; and Emily’s List, the Washington-based group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, which gave $400,000.
More than half her money from two lobbies? Don't Democrats normally complain about this sort of thing? Or, is it more important just to win?
Daniels’ biggest single source of income in this latest report? The more than $40,000 in interest his campaign funds earned sitting in Fifth Third Bank.
I actually kind of snickered when I read this. Don't know why. It just seemed funny. I wonder if seeing this comparison in print will nudge the Daniels campaign in the direction of tapping special interest money? I haven't had much positive to say about Daniels, but I respect the fact that he isn't getting money in big gobs from groups that would certainly want a return on their investment.

Now Andy- Please, start asking for contributions. Your message is worthy. Don't relegate it to being the tree that falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it. Dissatisfaction with Rs & Ds is indeed great, but overcoming the Wasted Vote Syndrome won't happen by accident.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Random Driving Pictures

(Sheridan, WY)- Here are some from the first leg of our Saturday drive, from Big Sky MT into Yellowstone Park. These are of the "shooting through the window as Ame drives" variety.

The Gallatin River ran parallel to the highway for much of this leg. It was a beautiful, gently rushing stream of cold, mountain run-off.

Mama and baby moose, with the Gallatin River behind.

Evidence of the great forest fires that swept through the area a few years ago. The charred trees remain upright though dead, while grasses and other underbrush grows beneath. It was startling to see the hills and mountains with brown exteriors, and green surfaces beneath.

Approaching the park, there were meadows covered with wildflowers, while mountains loomed in the distance.