Federal authorities furnished Michigan transportation officials Wednesday with a $196.5 million grant for track and signal upgrades on an Amtrak passenger rail running between Chicago and Detroit. The line, running on Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services, will reportedly yield speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on a route serving nearly 30 million people. Granted to its own beloved enterprise (all of Amtrak’s preferred stock is owned by the federal government), the government’s lavish gift to the train line comes at the expense of American taxpayers.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claims the grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation will slash travel times between Detroit and Chicago by up to 30 minutes. "This is an important investment that will reduce travel time, improve reliability and on-time performance, and attract more passengers," LaHood applauded. "We are creating jobs in Michigan, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the regional economy."
Predictably, Democratic supporters tout the infrastructure jobs and new business activity that will stem from Amtrak’s latest endowment. Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow hailed the grant’s approval and its economic benefits for their state —
The Supreme Court stands a good chance of ruling on the constitutionality of all or part of ObamaCare in 2012, as The New American reported September 29. Should the court strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the implications are obvious: Everything that has been implemented under the law thus far would have to be scuttled. But what happens if the court strikes down only the individual mandate? Would it then be compelled to invalidate other, related portions of the law?
The lawsuit being appealed to the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The first judge to rule on the case, U.S. District Judge Roger K. Vinson, began by finding the individual mandate unconstitutional. Then, noting that Congress had not included a severability clause in the law, Vinson declared the whole act invalid. (A severability clause, which states that if one provision of a law is found unconstitutional, the rest still stands, was included in the House of Representatives’ version of the legislation but left out of the Senate’s version — and, as a result, from the final bill — as a political gambit by Democrats, according to Politico.) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, upheld only Vinson’s finding with regard to the individual mandate. It reversed his decision with regard to severability, arguing that most of the law is not connected to the mandate and that the court could not determine whether Congress would have enacted the law in the absence of the mandate.
Time Magazine is accusing climate change deniers of a vast right-wing conspiracy of deceit that threatens to subvert efforts protecting the Earth from eco-catastrophe. In "Who's Bankrolling the Climate-Change Deniers?" Bryan Walsh bemoans the fact that only a few years ago Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney supported government cap-and-trade programs to restrict industrial emissions of so-called greenhouse gases (GHG) but are now backpedaling. He cites polls showing a growing number of conservatives in the deniers' camp. "That's deeply troubling," Walsh laments, "... despite an overwhelming scientific consensus" confirming imminent calamity.
He highlights two sociologists who blame "climate denialism" on long-term efforts of "conservative groups and corporations to distort global-warming science." Walsh quotes their article in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, in which the sociologists claim, "Contrarian scientists, fossil-fuel corporations, conservative think tanks and various front groups have assaulted mainstream climate science and scientists for over two decades. The blows have been struck by a well-funded, highly complex and relatively coordinated denial machine."
Missing from Walsh's diatribe is any actual proof of a well-heeled denial machine or the "settled scientific truth" of climate change.
Steve Jobs, a man who played a pivotal role in defining the future of home and business computing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. Part of Jobs' legacy is a world in which many individuals under the age of 25 simply take for granted the innovations that he helped bring to the realm of personal computing. When Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer in 1976 the very concept of computers having a place in the home of the average American seemed farfetched — at best.
Now, the seeming-omnipresence of Apple-inspired or influenced technologies surround us every day. The fundamental change that Apple has helped to bring was symbolized when the company changed its name to “Apple, Inc.” in early 2007 — the integration of phones, music, television and computing had reached the point where the very concept of computing had changed.
Whether leftist or rightist; Democrat, Republican, or Independent; “liberal,” “libertarian,” or “conservative,” anyone in search of a hearing in contemporary American politics is sure to express nothing less than unadulterated reverence for our country’s Founders. Doubtless, the old cliché that “actions speak louder than words” is not without its share of wisdom. At least as true, though, is another consideration that, in spite of the regularity with which experience has born it out, has of yet failed to achieve such universal recognition: Some words speak louder than others.
There is quite possibly no arena like that of politics to which this maxim more readily pertains. Neither, perhaps, is there anything quite as illustrative of both the maxim itself and its political application as the ubiquitous phenomenon of enlisting the Founders in the service of justifying every conceivable ideological cause.
However, once we go behind the scenes of political theater, what we discover is that this trans-partisan devotion to the Founding Fathers is not what it appears to be. More to the point, what we see is that either the devotion was deliberately contrived from the outset or, if not, it is something that immediately gives way under the pressure of just a little familiarity with basic logic. For the vast majority of political actors — i.e., our fellow countrymen and women — their reverence for the Founders is either insincere or groundless.
What does “separation of church and state” really mean? Many point out that the phrase is not found anywhere in the Constitution. Rather, it was mentioned by Thomas Jefferson, after the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were adopted. Others note that at the time the Constitution was adopted, about half the states had established state churches and that, although these states on their own ultimately disestablished these churches (ended official state religion), the federal government and federal courts were not involved in this process at all.
The 14th Amendment, not the 1st Amendment, is technically at issue when anyone raises the issue of separating state government operations from religion. Based upon the “Incorporation” principle, after the Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the Supreme Court gradually found various parts of the Bill of Rights to then apply to state governments because the “due process of law” section of the 14th Amendment was deemed to also implicitly include the federal Bill of Rights.
Each state had already incorporated into its own constitution a bill of rights, and often these state constitutional rights were more robust than were the federal Bill of Rights.
Representative Ron Paul suggested before the National Press Club October 5 that President Obama's assassination program of alleged terrorists could grow into an assassination program for journalists who disagree with the federal government.
"Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?" the GOP presidential contender asked. "What's going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? Or a professor becomes a threat? Someday that could well happen. This is the way it works. It's incrementalism.... It's slipping and sliding, let me tell you." Paul's remarks were a reaction to a September 30 drone strike in Yemen authorized by President Obama which targeted and killed two American citizens, one of whom — Anwar al-Awlaki — had been on a presidential assassination list for more than a year.
Unlike Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin did not threaten to commit suicide to convince the nation's news media that she will not be a candidate for President in 2012. But she came about as close as anyone since William Sherman ("I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.") to closing, locking and double-bolting the door against a bid for next year's Republican presidential nomination.
"After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president of the United States," Palin said in a statement she issued Wednesday.
"As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order."
Republican presidential debates have been marked by sometimes awkward audience cheers, but former Obama administration official and U.S. Senate candidate frontrunner Elizabeth Warren got a really awkward and wild audience cheer in a Massachusetts Democratic Party primary debate when she declared that she'd use her government position to attack Wall Street. Warren stated, "Forbes magazine named Scott Brown 'Wall Street's favorite senator.' And I was thinking, that’s probably not an award I’m going to get.”
The audience erupted.
The remark was part of a broad-based attack on capitalism by Warren, who, when asked about the Occupy Wall Street protests, remarked,
The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. It happened more than three years ago, and there has still been no basic accountability and there has been no real effort to fix it. That's why I want to run for the United States Senate. That's what I want to do to change the system.
Again, the Lowell, Massachusetts, audience erupted with wild applause.
The answer is Yes — and No. Yes, the Pentagon said, despite the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman, military chaplains may still perform “marriage” ceremonies between homosexual partners. Barely two weeks after the dropping of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which effectively prohibited homosexuals from serving in the armed forces, the Pentagon has issued a new policy that will allow military’s chaplains to officiate at same-sex wedding ceremonies.
A memo on the Defense Department website reads: “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law.” The memo adds, however that “a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion.”