Friday, 31 October 2014

Talking Mass Transit

There are five states which don't provide funding for mass transit. Alabama is one of the five.

Personally, I don't think of it as being a big deal, but the business news folks at Business Journal in Birmingham felt it was worth talking about (their article came out this week on the topic).  They'd like to see some changes in Montgomery, and a more friendly mass transit atmosphere.

I've traveled around the world and seen just about every type of mass transit idea operating.  Some work.  Some are failures that simply work like a pit.....throw money in and see nothing in return.

The success stories are mostly in highly urbanized areas.  If you had a town of 500,000, and run a decent bus network....folks tend to use it if the prices stay at an acceptable limit.  The DC system with subway and buses?  It only works because the federal government puts a fair amount of money into the system beyond the daily income and the state contributions from DC, Maryland and Virginia.  If the Feds quit paying extra money....the whole gimmick would fold up because of the massive  cost.

There was a study in the hometown region of Bama....Tuscumbia, Florence and Sheffield....had become the largest urban area in the US without any mass transit (not even a single bus).  The public that might appreciate mass transit in this area?  It's the lower class only, and by the time you consider the massive layout of the landscape, the minimum number of passengers per day, and daily operational's unsustainable.

You start to gaze across Alabama....Mobile, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Birmingham....same story.  You need four essential elements to mass transit to make it effective.  First, you need to convince all work classes that it's more effective in getting you from A to B.  Second, you need it to run seven days a week, for people to put trust into the deal.  You can run Sundays at half the rate.....but folks still need the bus if they are in the right frame of mind.  Third, you need it to run from 5AM to midnight to convince the locals that it's helpful, but you assume higher costs because of the increased hours. Fourth, you ensure absolute safety while traveling, with robbery or assault the last thing that might happen on a public bus.

The trouble in Alabama is that if some state senator started to pick this up and discuss the matter....indicating that the state would funnel $2 million to Birmingham for bus operations....then the rural folks of Bama would ask where this money came from and how they'd get mass transit money in the rurals of the state.  Naturally, it's an argument with no end.

A gas tax that would run back to each county for mass transit?  You'd typically expect the money to be misused or abused.  Some guy would rig up a contract for his cousin to operate a bus deal.....and the guy would hire some illegal guy, and use a 1966 Greyhound bus for the cross-town adventure.  Corrupted?  Yeah.

I don't expect much out of this.  The governor might bring up the topic, but he tends to bring up 350-different topics a year, so it doesn't really mean much.  Life will just continue on, as is.

Profanity Usually Gets You into Trouble

This week, it got around that some guy or gal in the White House, had been using the term "chickensh*t" when referring to the Israel prime minister....Benjamin Netanyahu.

The question was posed to the Press Secretary to identify who used the term, and he kinda declined.

I looked over the story.  It seems like someone was doing a comment dump to a source with the national news, and used this "chickensh*t" comment in a big meeting.  It appears that some type of apology had to be worked up and pushed to Netanyahu, but it's not clear what was said or how it was said.

So, I come to my general history of hanging around Air Force guys for over thirty years.  "Chickensh*t" just isn't a term you heard or picked up.  I can probably only identify two guys who ever uttered the term on a frequent basis.  I would take a guess that it was their standard term of frustration to use.

I would challenge you to go out and ask guys.....just on a rough average, how many times have you ever uttered "chickensh*t"?   Most will stand there and note that it's just not one of their 2,500 normally used words in a month.  So you run through forty guys and end up finding that only one guy notes some use with the word.  From women?  It's probably one out of 250 that would utter it at least once a year.

Now, if you were talking the word "bullsh*t", that would be different.....more frequent, and fifty-percent of all guys utter this at least once a week.  Chickensh*t is different on a verbal commentary than bullsh*t.

I might ask is it possible that the President himself is the one who uttered chickensh*t?'s best not to ask that.  It'd just get you into deeper thought processes and is it really worth two minutes of your thinking time to consider that?

All of this gets me to a point....when you start to throw around's usually not going to mean much unless you dropped a lead weight on your foot, or accidentally flipped your new $8,000 riding mower over in the ditch.  Using profanity over some political guy?  Total waste, if you ask me.  But this is what got around in the news this week.....a bunch of news guys trying to tell this story about "chickensh*t" but they can't say it on the air, so they have a graphic behind them with "chickensh*t" written on it.  The clean word police?  So far, nothing.

Only in America.

Why Jury Duty Matters

Jury duty is a pretty rough deal.  You registered to vote.  You get an envelop from the county clerk to show up for jury duty with an ID.  You show up and they ask a few questions.  Of course, from that group.....they want to establish right off the are an American citizen.  If you aren' are dismissed.

A smart guy would pause there and ask the did you end up on the registered voter listing?

From the states of Virginia and Maryland, they apparently had a listing of failed jury members, who disqualified themselves over the past couple of years because they weren't US citizens.

You can imagine the shock here, especially by significant party strategists who just wanted to look the other way and pretend you could walk right through and vote.

All of this finally got figured out by a group in the region, who've decided enough is enough....they will sue in court.  All of this puts Maryland and Virginia judges in an awkward position.  There are two things in play, if you haven't thought about it.  First, you'd have to clean up the mess by forcing voter ID, which Maryland folks probably won't be happy about.  Second, this group of people who have voted while not American citizens (you can easily prove that point as well).....well, there is a $15,000 fine established for fraudulent voting.

The group contends....there's roughly 40,000 people in this mix.  Yep, the fine collected by both states could go upwards to $600 million.  Enough to pave roads in both states for six months.  Getting the money from the non-citizens?  Oh, I'm guessing it's practically impossible.  That's the amazing part of the story.....a fine that would get you nowhere.

What happens?  This cannot affect the 2014 election, except to reinforce voter fraud as they look at names, who voted, and who declared themselves non-citizens at the jury process.  The Maryland court will likely take it's time and get to this around May of next year.  The state will try to defend itself and delay this.  Figure no real court case until August of 2015.  The judge?  He'll come to an opinion by fall of 2015, and force it upon the state.  Appeals?  You attract a lot of attention by trying to deny voter ID....especially as you come into spring of 2016 and another Presidential election.

In Virginia, it might go differently.  They might size up the mess by the state legislature, and opt for voter ID rather quickly.

I have left off one other detail which a second group of analysts noticed in checking names from Virginia and Maryland.  There's roughly 14,000 dual voters from the states....meaning they are registered to vote in both Maryland and Virginia.

Part of this issue is that once you tend to stay on the system for two years.  There are fair number of people who get a job up in the region, and buy their original house in Maryland.  After a couple of years, they realize.....Maryland probably isn't as safe, or tax-friendly, as Virginia.  So they sell the house, and move to Virginia.  Getting off the Maryland register?  They don't tend to think about that.  Could some of these people have voted in both states?  That would be a curious thing to check out.

All in means that this gimmick of checking jury listings is going to pick up steam.  Those who try to just get around this and fix some way of an illegal being on the jury?  Well, all that would create a fraudulent jury, a fraudulent jury outcome, and a conviction that can't be sustained.  What idiot would want that atmosphere in his state?