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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

USDOT finalizes $1.76 billion TIFIA loan for Maryland Purple Line project

Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and Purple Line Transit Partners, LLC (PLTP), have closed on a new $1.76 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Build America Bureau.

The loan for the 16.2-mile Purple Line Light Rail Transit Project in Maryland was originally announced in early March and replaces a previous TIFIA loan that closed in 2016.

“The much-anticipated Purple Line will serve areas that will benefit from associated economic development, while creating opportunities for transit-oriented development,” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “We worked closely with our partners to finalize this loan, which is an essential piece of the financing to move this critical project forward.”

The new TIFIA loan will finance up to 33 percent of the $5.9 billion in eligible project costs for the 21-station line that will connect Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. ................(more)


The Big Lie is here to stay: Republicans plot to overturn elections on every level

The Big Lie is here to stay: Republicans plot to overturn elections on every level
Democrats should be worried about what Republicans will do if they lose just as much as what they'll do if they win


(Salon) Mike Allen of Axios, one of D.C.'s most venerated purveyors of conventional wisdom, dropped a big bomb last week when he wrote that Democrats who study polling are panicking over the possibility that Donald Trump could win the trifecta in 2024 and end up with a "compliant filibuster-proof Senate majority in January 2025" courtesy of what data analyst David Shor, best known for his "popularism" theory, predicted would be "a minority of the vote.

How's that for a cherry on top of a shit-sundae?

Allen pointed to a piece by Yale's Simon Bazelon who accuses Democrats of "sleepwalking into disaster, noting that a close presidential election in 2024 might take out Democratic Sens. Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan and Jackie Rosen in Nevada. Allen writes, "in all those states, hardcore liberalism is a tough sell," as if the Democrats are unaware of that and these candidates know nothing about the states they will be running in.

Yes, of course, it will be a tough map for Democrats in 2024 because all those incumbents are up for re-election in what are, with the exception of West Virginia, battleground states which by definition are well ... battles. Of course, that also means these same states are tough for Republicans. After all, they all lost in 2018.


This November is a lot closer and the usual midterm dynamics are apparent, so it's not ridiculous to be worried about the Democrats losing control of Congress. But to assume Donald Trump has already won the 2024 election because of the party's alleged "hardcore liberalism" is the predictable stale beltway dogma about politics in "Real America" which has never been an accurate analysis of why people actually vote. We should, however, be concerned that the Democrats will lose the 2024 election for an entirely different reason, and, in fact, every Democrats' hair should be on fire. There is an excellent possibility that they will be shut out in 2024, but it won't be because they lost the vote.

We have all heard about Trump's followers in various states making moves to strike Democrats from elections boards and run for secretaries of state to oversee future elections. We know that Trump himself is still obsessively pushing the Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 election — and that nearly 70% of Republicans believe him. We have learned recently that members of Congress were actively involved in helping him do that, even in one case, asking the White House chief of staff for talking points to help make the case. The result of all this is to make the majority of Republican voters accept election results, as Trump openly declared back in 2016, only if the GOP wins. ..............(more)


Environmentalists Target Mountains of Fertilizer Waste

IN MID-SEPTEMBER OF 2016 in Tampa, Florida, News Channel 8 reporter Steve Andrews received an alarming phone call. A sinkhole had opened in Mulberry, a small city in Polk County about 30 miles to the east.

“I went up to the assignment desk and asked them to send the chopper up,” Andrews, who retired in 2020, recounted. “The guys radioed back and said, ‘Man, this looks like something from the moon.’” He later added: “It looked like a crater, like you could just drop down straight to hell.”

The sinkhole, which measured 152 feet across at its widest point and 220 feet deep as of October of that year, had opened beneath a 700-acre phosphogypsum stack, a pyramid-like structure of radioactive waste created during the fertilizer production process. The sinkhole sent 215 million gallons of acidic water into the Floridan aquifer, a major source of drinking water for the state.

According to a 2019 report from the Fertilizer Institute, an estimated 734 million tons of phosphogypsum have accumulated in the United States — a number the industry group projected to steadily increase each year. That material sits in more than 70 similar open-air piles, which can be hundreds of feet tall and hundreds of acres wide, rising above the horizon like powdery mountains the color of ash. .............(more)


Fox Host Rails At 'Pinko' Bruce Springsteen After His Song Plays On Air

Rock icon Bruce Springsteen has clearly not got a fan in Fox’s Lisa Kennedy Montgomery.

When Springsteen’s “Glory Days” played after a commercial break during Monday’s broadcast of “Outnumbered,” the conservative commentator called the music legend “a big commie.”

“I like ‘Glory Days,’ I like ‘Born In The U.S.A.,’ la la la la la, but he’s turned into a massive pinko,” Kennedy declared.


Kennedy did not expand on her dislike for the rocker.

But it may stem from his fierce criticism of former President Donald Trump, vocal support of 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and perhaps even his podcast with former President Barack Obama. ..............(more)


Rick Scott's loony-tunes 11-point plan: Classic GOP projection, and a roadmap to theocracy

Rick Scott's loony-tunes 11-point plan: Classic GOP projection, and a roadmap to theocracy
No wonder Mitch McConnell is unhappy: Scott's "batsh*t" plan reveals way too much about what Republicans want


(Salon) Why do I consider Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the wealthiest person in the U.S. Senate, so thoroughly dreadful? Is it his background in defrauding the American taxpayer? His penchant for spreading disinformation? His smarmy habit of getting all Jesus-y, even in the face of a public health crisis?

It was indeed very Christian of Scott to release his new plan to "save" America — but I don't mean that as praise. At least he's honest: The gentleman from the Sunshine State openly advocates for dismantling the federal government, undoing all federal laws and regulations and effectively transforming our democracy into a white male Christian theocracy.

OK, not in so many words, but that's the idea. For some reason Scott dispensed with a hyphen in the title of his "11 Point Plan to Rescue America" — is punctuation "woke" now? It's so hard to keep up — which might better be described as a Christian-right reboot of the Ten Commandments (plus one).


Salon's Heather Digby Parton thinks that Democrats should shine as much light as possible on Scott's plan, since it is "batshit lunacy" yet has been embraced by many Republicans. As she recently put it:

Much of it is the usual right-wing cant about work and family and law and order. But there is some stuff in this thing that will make for some beautiful ads if the Democrats can find it in themselves to get off the defensive and tell the American people about it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was apparently horrified that Scott's plan was published (remember, the Republican Party refused to have platform for the 2020 presidential campaign), but Scott himself fearlessly and correctly observes that "Americans deserve to know what we will do when given the chance to govern." .............(more)


Does Trump still have the juice? His spotty endorsement record suggests decline

Does Trump still have the juice? His spotty endorsement record suggests decline
Endorsements based upon Trump's own personal vendettas and celebrity worship will be put to the test this election

PUBLISHED APRIL 18, 2022 10:33AM

(Salon) When you read about all the ring kissing and boot-licking that's going on at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort these days, it is clear that Republicans of all stripes see him as president-in-exile, our once and future Dear Leader. He is believed to be so powerful that his endorsement will make or break any candidate, from the loftiest seat of power in the U.S. Senate to a lowly election clerk in a small jurisdiction in Real America. The big question facing the GOP now is whether or not that's actually true. And new reports from around the country suggest that it may not be as clear-cut as many think.

The New York Times' Shane Goldmacher characterized Trump as a "modern-day party boss" and quotes insiders comparing his "Mar-a-Lago Machine" to the notorious Tammany Hall, which dominated New York politics for centuries. Naturally, Trump is personally making money from it and he's not the only one:

An entire political economy now surrounds Mr. Trump, with Trump properties reaping huge fees: Federal candidates and committees alone have paid nearly $1.3 million to hold events at Mar-a-Lago, records show. A phalanx of Trump whisperers has emerged with candidates paying them in hopes of lining up meetings, ensuring that he sees damaging research on their rivals or strategically slipping him a survey showing a surge in the polls, even as Trump alumni warn that it is always buyer-beware in the Trump influence game.

Goldmacher points out, however, that while Tammany Hall kept its grip on power by doling out patronage, Trump isn't spending much of his massive war chest at all. One of his spokesmen, Taylor Budowich, explained that the benefit of Trump's support lies not in money, but in the fact that voters value his endorsement and it generates a lot of "free media." We'll soon find out that that is as valuable as people think it is, but in the meantime, there is apparently a long line of supplicants night after night seeking his favor, and he is reveling in it.


Many eyes are on Georgia as a microcosm of the "Mar-a-Lago Machine" in action, where Trump has waged a particularly ugly crusade against GOP Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, along with anyone associated with them, endorsing their challengers and insisting that all GOP candidates running for any office sign off on the Big Lie. So far, however, it does not appear to be having much of an effect, with the incumbents still leading in the polls. Meanwhile, Trump's handpicked candidate to oppose Georgia's Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock, 1980s NFL star Herschell Walker, is causing plenty of heartburn in the state as well. Walker is ducking debates, showing himself to be extremely weak on policy and dealing with many long-standing personal scandals. .............(more)


EU anti-fraud body accuses Marine Le Pen of embezzlement

(Guardian UK) The European Union’s anti-fraud body has accused Marine Le Pen and several of her party members – including her father – of embezzling about €620,000 while serving as members of the European parliament.

France’s investigative website Mediapart published a section of the new 116-report alleging that the MEPs misused EU funds for national party purposes.

The claims come a week before the second round of the presidential election, on 24 April, in which Le Pen will go head to head with Emmanuel Macron.

A spokesperson for Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) party questioned the timing of the accusations. Le Pen’s lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut told Agence France-Presse he was “dismayed by the way that Olaf [the European anti-fraud office] is acting”. He insisted some of the report related to “old facts, more than 10 years old”.

“Marine Le Pen contests this. She contests it without having had access to the details of the accusation. It’s a manipulation; unfortunately, I’m not surprised,” Bosselut told the French channel BFMTV. ...............(more)


Lessons of the Radical Republicans: Race, revolution and Reconstruction

Lessons of the Radical Republicans: Race, revolution and Reconstruction
Their crusade to remake America after the Civil War fell short — but it was one of our nation's finest hours


(Salon) Once upon a time in a country somewhat resembling this one, the Republican Party had a radical faction — and not because it believed in bizarre theories about election fraud or wanted to undermine democracy. By modern standards, the Radical Republicans of the 1860s would clearly be regarded as leftists: They fiercely supported racial equality, had no tolerance for insurrectionists and believed government should help the most vulnerable people in society. Their story is important for many reasons: They helped shape modern-day America, and they may even provide clues about how it can be saved.

As with so many great stories in American history, this one begins with Abraham Lincoln.

After Lincoln won the contentious presidential election of 1860 — in several states, his name wasn't even on the ballot — slave-owners across the South convinced that this meant the end of their "peculiar institution" decided to secede from the Union. That provoked the Civil War, of course, but as you probably know, it didn't immediately lead to the end of slavery. Indeed, for almost two years, many Republicans harshly criticized their own party's president for moving too slowly on that issue. Even after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the so-called Radical Republican wing noticed his loophole: It only applied to enslaved peoples in the rebellious states; those in states that had not seceded, such as Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, were still in shackles.

Lincoln was unambiguous, however, in his contempt for rebels. Whether or not it's fair to compare the attempted coup of 2021 the insurrection that began in 1860, Lincoln viewed the latter as straightforward treason. If citizens in a democratic society are permitted to rebel simply because they dislike the results of an election, he reasoned, then democracy itself cannot endure. One law passed with Lincoln's support banned former Confederate leaders from holding political office of any kind — and even there, many of the Radical Republicans felt he was being too lenient.


One more shoe needed to fall, and that was the tortuous presidential election of 1876, in many ways an eerie precursor to the 2020 contest. As I observed two years ago, the 1876 election had the highest voter turnout rate in American history, at 81.8%, while the 2020 election had the highest turnout (about 66%) in 120 years. At least in 2020 only one side tried to cheat, whereas in 1876 both sides did.

Republicans hoped their candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, could keep them in power another four years despite the apparent turning of the tide. It's still not clear whether Hayes or Democrat Samuel J. Tilden would have won a free and fair contest, but that tainted and deadlocked contest ended in the Compromise of 1877, in which Hayes won the White House at the cost of ending Reconstruction and effectively allowing the South to launch the Jim Crow regime of racist oppression and legal segregation. ..............(more)


Florida man guilty of killing wife, 3 kids and dog because he thought 'apocalypse was coming'

A Florida man will spend life behind bars after jurors on Thursday convicted him of killing his wife, their three children and family dog — and then living for weeks with the decomposing remains — due to what prosecutors said were apocalyptic beliefs.

The panel in Kissimmee found Anthony John Todt, 46, guilty on four counts of first-degree murder — for the slayings of his 42-year-old wife Megan, and their kids Zoe, 4, Tyler, 11, and Aleksander, 13 — and one count of animal cruelty, for the killing of the family dog, Breezy.

Todt, a physical therapist originally from Connecticut, had tried to blame his wife for the killings, saying she had committed murder-suicide two years ago inside their Celebration home, just a few miles from Walt Disney World Resort. ...............(more)


Putin can't take much more of this: What lies ahead, defeat or apocalypse?

Putin can't take much more of this: What lies ahead, defeat or apocalypse?
With the sinking of the Moskva, Putin's war has become an almost unthinkable disaster. That increases the danger


(Salon) Well, the Big Lie, Russian style, has begun. It's not exactly like losing an election — that's never going to happen in Vladimir Putin's Russia — but losing a guided missile cruiser, the Moskva, the most important warship in Russia's Black Sea fleet is, let us say, just a little hard for the big guy to stomach back at the Kremlin, or the dacha, or whatever bunker he's keeping himself in these days.

But not to worry! Russki spinners were on it before the big ship even hit the bottom! Uh … hmm … I've got it! A fire broke out on board! It spread to the ammunition stores! There was an explosion! That's the ticket!

Anything but the obvious: it was sunk by two Neptune anti-ship missiles fired from Ukrainian soil. So what does Putin do? Why, he has one of his factotums deliver a diplomatic protest known as a démarche from the Russian embassy in Washington to the Department of State threatening "unpredictable consequences" unless the U.S. stops shipping advanced weapons to Ukraine.

The Russian threat came on the heels of a warning by CIA Director William J. Burns that Putin might resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons to counter his losses on the battlefield and now the high seas. "Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they've faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons," Burns said in answer to a question from former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, who was one of the architects of the agreement that removed nuclear weapons from Ukraine and other former Soviet client states 30 years ago. (You remember that jewel: Russia would take the nukes from Ukraine and the rest of the vassal states in return for providing their security.) Burns is a former ambassador to Russia who dealt directly with Putin while serving in Moscow and is the Biden administration official most familiar with his thinking.


Which makes you wonder why Putin hasn't learned any lessons over the last 50-plus days. He appears to be readying a new offensive in eastern Ukraine that will be a carbon copy of the one he launched against Kyiv and Kharkiv in February and March. The Pentagon is being very open about what it is "seeing" on the ground in both Russian staging areas and in Ukraine itself, as it was before the invasion on Feb. 24. If the Pentagon was correct the last time about both Russian intentions and movements — and it was — the chances are very strong it's correct this time as well. It would be safe to assume that the Ukrainian response to the new Russian offensive in the east will be at least as effective as it was before, given the new weapons systems that even now are making their way to Ukraine's army. These include attack helicopters, long-range artillery and ground-to-ground rocket launchers, and the MIG-29s from Poland that are finally going to join Ukraine's air arsenal. ...........(more)


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