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Amtrak Problem

An Amtrak train derailed this week. There were 8 deaths and over 200 injuries. Information is still being obtained, but what we do know is that the train was going over 100 mph into a turn. Amtrak is more of a VW bus (from the ’70s) than a sleek BMW when it comes to hugging the turns. This is sad and TOTALLY preventable. We need to spend money on infrastructure, including Amtrak.

From TP:

At least seven people died and 200 were injured in Tuesday’s Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia — even though technology exists that could have prevented the tragedy. A day after his Republican colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to cut about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) incorrectly claimed that Congress had already funded implementing the safety system it mandated in 2008.

Positive Train Control (PTC) would allow railroads to use GPS to stop or slow trains in cases of driver emergencies, switches left in the wrong position, hijacking, natural disasters, or other human error. Seven years ago, Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which required the nation’s busiest railroad operators to have these technologies fully in place by December 2015. Though Amtrak’s president has called PTC “the most important rail safety advancement of our time,” the chronically cash-strapped Amtrak has struggled to put in place its Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) PTC technology system on the timetable it planned and the section of track where Tuesday’s accident occurred lacks it. The train was reportedly traveling at more than 100 miles per hour in a 50 MPH zone. Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board official leading the investigation into Tuesday’s crash, made clear on Wednesday, “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

By |2015-05-14T18:33:30-04:00May 14th, 2015|Domestic Issues|Comments Off on Amtrak Problem

Republician Presidential Field

Finally, after months of non-candidates announcing that they were running for President, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is throwing his hat into the ring. Huckabee is different than many of the other candidates. I think that he really has a chance to tied up the religious conservatives. He could be a real problem for whoever becomes the front runner. Huckabee’s problem when he ran the last time was that he ran out of money and had a terrible organization. I suspect that he will correct the organization problem. It is really unclear if he can raise the funds necessary to compete.  In my opinion, there are a few candidates who can stay in the race because they will have one or two very deep pocketed donors who will keep them a float.


Ben Carson. Dr. Carson announced that he was running for president yesterday. He is a non-candidate. He says way too many things that are frankly crazy. You can’t take him seriously. ObamaCare might be bad. It might not work (although the data suggests that it is working as intended). It isn’t the worse thing since slavery. That’s just nuts to say something so over the top. You say it for effect. You say it to get attention. If you are a serious candidate you try to avoid over the top rhetoric like that.

Carly Fiorina. The former CEO of HP has thrown her hat into the ring. She is running as an outsider. She is the “I’m not a politician, so vote for me” candidate. She will push her business experience as a plus. All I know is that government is a big computer business. Government needs to reach out and help people (natural disasters, the poor, etc.). As I recall, we had a president who was supposed to be the CEO president, the one who had a degree from Harvard Business School. That didn’t work out so well for us. I would also like to add that many of these candidates know in ther hearts that they have no shot at winning the nomination. Instead, they are running for something else. I wonder if Carly is running to be Treasury Secretary or some other cabinet position? (more…)

By |2015-05-09T17:42:24-04:00May 9th, 2015|Party Politics|Comments Off on Republician Presidential Field

So was Chertoff to blame?

If you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s new documentary on New Orleans, you haven’t seen a Spike Lee documentary on New Orleans. Yes, I know that his first documentary was great, powerful, in-your-face, raw, truthful, emotional and more. This is all that and more. The HBO special, If God is willing and da creek don’t rise, is Lee’s latest look at New Orleans and the Gulf five years after Katrina. This is must-see TV.

So, we placed the blame for the slow government response on Michael Brown, the hapless head of FEMA at the time. New documents appear to show that Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, may have been the man with the deer in the headlights look in his eyes.

The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.

Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the “principal federal official” in charge of the storm.

As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina’s early morning Aug. 29 landfall, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives.

But Chertoff — not Brown — was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government’s blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.

But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn’t shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department. (more…)

By |2012-09-05T05:30:55-04:00August 26th, 2010|Katrina|Comments Off on So was Chertoff to blame?
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