Southwest Light Rail. News that Minnesota Speaker of The House Kurt Daudt says the House will not consider funding for the Southwest Light Rail, leads this midweek update from the Bob Davis Podcasts. SWLR has caused headaches for the Minneapolis Park Board, Bicyclists, Residents of Western Suburbs, Mayors, City Councils and legislators since its inception, and it isn’t even built yet! Despite the fact that light rail does not carry more passengers than buses, doesn’t spur development without expensive subsidies, and doesn’t generate employment beyond construction crews (which is a small swath of the working population and short term) the unelected Met Council and transportation ‘activists’ plan as many as twenty of these light rail projects, with the Southwest Light Rail central to the overall plan. Moreover, media coverage of how the state funds transportation projects is very confusing. Senate transportation chair Scott Dibble wants to add a wholesale gas tax which some report could add as much as twenty cents to a gallon of gas, which is projected to raise almost a billion dollars, add a license fee increase and then borrow 576 million for ‘roads and bridges’. What’s the other 800 million plus a year for? And let’s not forget the transportation amendment, passed a few years ago, which generates God knows how much in revenue. Is there a sinkhole someplace where this money goes? Oddly enough people who a month ago were touting the lower gas prices as acting economically as a ‘tax cut’, now advocate raising the federal gas tax. Hint, there is plenty of money if they would just dedicate all of the money raised in gas taxes for roads and bridges. Furthermore, what about Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus? Wasn’t that for roads and bridges too? New economic numbers this week has the media touting the ‘booming’ Obama economy, and leftwing commentators laughing at Republicans for spinning the good news, bad. But, there are still some questions about employment, central bank policy, and worrisome signs. 2.5 to 3.5 percent GDP growth is good, but wages are not increasing and some say, this isn’t enough to sustain the growth. Don’t get too cocky. The Bob Davis Podcasts provoked a lot of reaction in Podcast 287 regarding tea party politics in Minnesota, chiefly that rhetoric does not win elections, or force politicians to do your bidding. Almost as proof is a new poll of registered republicans in Iowa. If there is a grassroots tea party movement, the poll doesn’t show it. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush lead a field of GOP candidates in the first primary state. Shockingly, the White House says journalists should be careful what they say, since it might provoke attacks against US military personnel and in his role as Commander in Chief, President Obama might have to shut down journalists who write stories jihadists don’t like, or satire that might make them attack. Not making this up. And you wonder why the President didn’t go to Paris. Finally, the IRS head continues to bitch and moan about the lack of funding for the agency, saying fewer audits are in store, and they may not be able to collect taxes …The Nation Rejoices! Sponsored by Baklund R&D.
Polar Vortex 2015. Perhaps we should start off by saying, “Previously on Polar Vortex”. It happens just about every year around this time in the Upper Midwest. It gets real cold. We call it winter. A few weeks of below zero temperatures with little relief. It’s been colder. Where are the cavalcade of ‘economists’ (astrologists) predicting the inevitably dour economic effects of the ‘polar vortex’? Surprise! Now that a Republican majority is about to take office ‘economic experts’ are optimistic! Touting 5 percent GDP growth, lackluster employment statistics and a host of other debatable ‘facts’, some formerly doom and gloom analysts are finding rose colored glasses not used since the Bush administration. As a new Congress is about to be sworn in, scolds to tell Republicans, “It’s time to govern”! Isn’t ‘governing’ something both parties and all branches of government engage in? Not just a majority and not just one branch of the government? Freedom Works has declared Speaker Boehner ‘must go’, and thus the factional battles in the new Congress begin. Freedom Works instructs you to write, call or email your congressman and demand the speaker be retired! (Editor’s Note: A waste of time, since interns answer the phones, review emails and open letters, even writing replies. If you want to get your congressman to pay attention to you, you have to control votes or money, and preferably both. If you want to write, call or email, go right ahead, but don’t fool yourself. Until you’re organized, you’re nothing to them.) Next we have the ‘Restore America’ crowd. ‘Restore’ in this case means turning back the hands of time to 1950, everywhere in America. Uh…no thanks, there were no smart phones. Want to bet this will be Jeb Bush’s campaign slogan in 2016? What America needs isn’t ‘restoration’, but new ideas that meet the challenges of new technology and a world that doesn’t look anything like 1950. Now there is one place in the world where it is, in fact, still 1950. North Korea. Here’s a question; What if the Sony Hack wasn’t the work of North Korea’s ‘army’ of hackers? The FBI’s contention – and the President’s – is under fire from tech security companies. If it wasn’t the North Koreans and the President ordered a retaliation, this could be the first major Obama Screw Up of 2015. Stay tuned. Back home in the land of ten thousand lakes, and taxes, Minnesotans should prepare themselves for a gas tax increase. Democratic Governor Dayton has decided that while cheap gas acts ‘like a tax cut’, it just isn’t expensive enough for the dancing peasants, so we need an increase in the gas tax. Or something like that. Minnesotans need new trains, and bike trails and bridges are falling down, right? Not really, but it works every time. Meanwhile, Kurt Daudt, Republican Speaker of The House says there will be “give and take” this session. Sigh. And a final parting shot at ‘morning people’ and their arrogance. Nocturnal People Rule! Sponsored by X Government Cars, and Depotstar.
Torture. Budget. Washington struggles with the release of a damning Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, and democrats appear to be willing to shut the government down over language in the budget bill concerning Dodd/Frank. These issues show how the contours of ‘partisanship’ and the causes of ‘gridlock’ will change after the new congress is sworn in, in January 2015. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation and report was conducted and written wholly by democrats, offers no suggestions on what to do about what it called torture in the future, or for curtailing the CIA when it runs amok, and none of the accused parties were interviewed for have had the chance to defend themselves. As former Democrat Senator and Senate Intelligence Committee member Bob Kerry suggests, this does not bode well for the objectivity of the report or win any friends at the CIA. Even President Obama has been put in a difficult situation, since current CIA Director Brennan is furious that the report paints a one sided picture of what happened at the agency after 9/11. Maybe it is a good thing this information is released now, maybe not. One thing is for sure, neither party has come up with a foreign policy that addresses asymmetric warfare going forward. Libertarian, Interventionist, Neoconservative, Neoliberal, or whatever you want to call them, these policies aren’t going to be effective in future conflicts where it is likely potential state enemies of the US will use asymmetric methods because they strike at our weaknesses. On the budget front, Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren threatens to block passage of the budget bill because of changes it makes in Dodd/Frank regarding how derivatives are regulated. Which party is ‘obstructionist’ now? What will the minority party do after Republicans take over the majority in Congress? Expect a return to ideas like increasing gas taxes and ‘rebuilding’ America’s ‘crumbling infrastructure’, and to the idea that – since we can’t prove ‘inequality’ hurts the economy – we now have to deal with the ’empathy gap’. This is the idea that the working poor are just unfortunate and that we have to have laws to make the economic system ‘fair’, since hard work and brains have nothing to do with success. The founding documents talk about being created equal and having unalienable rights to life and liberty … not a ‘fair’ economic system. What you do with your liberty is your choice, rich or poor. The good news? All of these stories will be swept from television screens because of the storm-of-the-century in California. Finally, out of nowhere a movement we can all get behind, or in front of. “Free The Nipple”. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.