Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open Letter to Fayette Commissioner-Elect Steve Brown

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey's data for 2006-2008 (the most recent data for Fayette County) shows that 53.62% of Fayette workers do not work in Fayette county, not 40%.

I understand you want your citizens to be able to continue to free-ride on the back of my and other Atlantans lungs (unless you are planning to build a Simpsons Movie-like dome over Fayette to prevent anyone from leaving, leaving ARC won't keep emissions from Fayette vehicles in Atlanta from my lungs) and my and other Atlantans safety (I bicycle to work and traffic from drivers, including the not insignificant number from Fayette, makes it difficult to add more bicycle lanes; if a significant number of those drivers came in by commuter bus or rail) and lack of greenspace (the amount of land in Atlanta devoted to letting primarily out-of-city commuters park is unbelievable).

I suppose that's your job, assuming you ignore the fact that Fayette is absolutely metro Atlanta, not a place with "rural sensibilities." For that matter, much of Three Rivers is not "rural sensibilities" either

But at least be honest with your constituents when you make that case.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shame on Transportation Board Chair David Doss

The Atlanta streetcar aside, I was outraged by the gall of Surface Transportation Board Chair David Doss' claim that "he supports transit, too" in "Streetcar victorious" (Oct 20) while plugging the $1.4 billion managed lanes and its potential 34000 riders. Its predecessor agency, the Transportation Planning Board did a study on commuter rail, released in 2007, when building costs were, if anything, higher than today. It found that for $1.17 billion dollars, we could build ALL 7 proposed commuter rail lines (cutting off the Athens line at Tucker and the Macon line at Lovejoy, but keeping the full lines to Bremen, Canton, Gainesville, Madison and Senoia), run 12 trains on each line per day (6 in, 6 out) and get as many as 32400 riders per day. The Canton line via Marietta, in particular would have provided an option for a large number of drivers on the I-75/I-575 corridor. If this state had even a modicum of support for transit in its political leaders outside of the perimeter, we'd be in final design mode by now. As things stand, we haven't heard a peep out of GDOT about it since then.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I-75/I-575 Corridor Project: Elimination of Transit REDUCES Environmental Impact?

This state is nuts. Really. Georgia is absolutely nuts.

Because of a lack of leadership and the continued consequences of the racially-tinged failure of Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton (all of which now have large minority populations anyway so they didn't even "win" on keeping their counties lily-white) to join MARTA, rather than moving forward on something that would be really, really useful (commuter rail/MARTA extension to Cobb, Gwinnett, Alpharetta/Roswell), we're going to be building a streetcar that is no more than a 30 minute end-to-end walk and is very close to existing heavy rail MARTA lines. (I guess this doesn't explain why we didn't go for the BeltLine; I guess stupidity/anti-tax idiocy/Central Atlanta Progress and businesses not putting up sufficient cash for it).

Instead, we're going to go with, yet again, more highway lanes. Now, I guess two lanes each direction is a little low given the rampant sprawl growth in I-75/I-575 area, so it's not entirely bad.

Except for two thing. The worst part is here, in the project's Winter Newsletter

The Bus Rapid Transit system with supporting facilities
and the Truck Only Lanes are no longer included as part of the project. These
changes result in a reduced project footprint with reduced costs and less severe environmental impacts, while still addressing the original Purpose and Need for the project.

Yeah, elimination of transit will reduce environmental impact. Also, gay people cause earthquakes and the moon landing was filmed in Hollywood.

They're also, of course, basically doing what amounts to $350 million subsidy to a corporation that will be running these additions for a profit (via tolls); of course, the state won't get any of the toll money even though it's paying for a hefty chunk of the road. We could build quite a bit of commuter rail for that much, thereby massively decreasing congestion.

So depressing, Atlanta policy is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who besides Yehuda Levin is in the Rabbinical Alliance of America?

This Levin guy is very embarrassing, acting like a Christian evangelical, and this time he's not just doing it on his own.

I mean, it was bad enough when he blamed the Haiti earthquake on gays in February like he was Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or something.

But at least that was not a major media thing. Now he's gone and made national news with the speech he wrote for Carl Paladino to give at his shul, with such nice media events as

“nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

“I don’t want [children] brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equal valid and successful option,”

Also, they didn't let women journalists into the shul because apparently Mea Shearim has come to America, and water was poured on women journalists waiting outside.

But what is this Rabbinical Alliance of America (Igud Harabbonim in transliterated Ashkenazi-pronounced Hebrew, or אגוד הרבנים in actual Hebrew)? Humorist Heshy Fried said it "sounds like the Kennedy Fried Chicken version of the RCA" (Rabbinical Council of America, affiliated with the Orthodox Union), and that he had not heard of it.

So I decided to do some Googling,

Their website claims 800+ rabbis but lists 3 (none of whom are Yehuda Levin).

They include Abraham B. Hecht, who had spoken approvingly about the possible assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres after the Oslo Accords; online archive articles refer to him as president of the organization as early as July 1980.

Hershel Kurzrock, rabbi at the Young Israel of Kensington, NY; nothing interesting about him on the Internet.

Gershon Tannenbaum, who apparently has been found guilty of Securities Fraud, and is/was rabbi at B'nai Israel of Linden Heights in Brooklyn.

Searching Google archives led to the following rabbis. Note that these rabbis may no longer be alive and may no longer be members. There is no point in linking because only scraps of the articles show up without paying for them.

From Kashrus Magazine

A long list, at the end of this newsletter, of member rabbis participating in their conference

Rabbi Noach Bernstein, Commission on a Moment of Silence
Rabbi Shaul Bick, Congregation Agudas Achim
Rabbi Mayer Birnhack
Rabbi Herbert W. Bomzer, listed as a member by the Forward (via Failed Messiah)
Rabbi Dov Brisman (then head of the beth din of Philadelphia), listed as a member in August 2003
Rabbi Michoel Chazan, Director of Chaplaincy Services at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center
Rabbi Samuel I Cohen, listed as a member in 1960
Rabbi Rafoel Yochanon Davis, IDT Beis Midrash
Rabbi Herman Eisner z"l
Rabbi Saul Eisner, Igud Executive Vice President
Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, Ahi Ezer Congregation
Rabbi Mosha Epstein, Rabbi of Agudas Achim in Bridgeport, CT
Rabbi Mallen Galinsky, listed as a member in 1966
Rabbi Bernard Goldenberg, listed as a member in 1950
Rabbi Leibish Goldstein, Tefila V'rina L'achynu Merusya
Rabbi Meyer Greenberg z"l, mentioned as having been president in the early 1960s in his 2008 obituary
Rabbi Avrohom M. Greenhut, Beth Israel Hospital
Rabbi Abraham Gross, mentioned as president in April 1970
Rabbi Meir Grunberg z"l, listed as a member in his 1993 obituary
Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt of Canada, listed as a member in 1956
Rabbi Philip Harris z"l, listed as a member in his 2006 obituary
Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, Igud President
Rabbi Eli Hecht, listed as vice president in April 2001
Rabbi Sholom Hecht, Hecht’s Religious Articles
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht
Rabbi David Hollander, mentioned as president in September 1973.
Rabbi Shlomo Isaacson
Rabbi Nachum Josephy, listed as vice president in August 1993
Rabbi Michael Kakon, Ahavas Achim of West Orange
Rabbi Sholom B. Kalmanson (a Chabad rabbi)
Rabbi Pinchos Karr
Rabbi Avrohom Dovid Katz, Congregation Mishkan Avrohom D’Porgibisht
Rabbi Yechiel Kaufman
Rabbi Brian Kent
Rabbi Eliyahu Kirsch
Rabbi Sholom Klass z"l, listed as a member in his 2000 obituary
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Torah Editor of the Jewish Press
Rabbi Leibish Koenig
Rabbi Yehuda Korczak
Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Igud Rosh Beth Din;
Rabbi Rachmiel Liberman
Rabbi Yitzchok Liebes is listed as head of beit din,
Rabbi Yaakov Neiman
Rabbi Avrohom Niyazov, Congregation L’maan Achai Bukhorim
Rabbi Dovid Niyazov
Rabbi Shlomo Chai Niyazov, Congregation L’maan Achai Bukhorim
Rabbi Ralph Pelcovitz, listed as president in July 1952
Rabbi Hershel Pollak, Semihyer Beis Midrash
Rabbi Yisroel Popack is implied to be a member as it says he was cleared of wrongdoing by them in an abuse case
Rabbi Abraham Poupko z"l, listed as having been a member in his 1964 obituary
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, from his bio
Rabbi Harry Rabinowitz
Rabbi Joseph Rosenbluth, Young Israel of Vanderveer Park;
Rabbi Joseph Salamon, Yeshiva Ohr Torah
Rabbi Dr. Zecharia Senter
Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, listed as a rabbi in Toronto and as a member in February 1985
Rabbi Shmaryahu Shulman, author of Meiresh B’Birah
Rabbi Yidel Stein, Congregation Tiferes Israel Brisk
Rabbi Aryeh Steinberg; Kashrus Supervision
Rabbi Peretz Steinberg
Rabbi Avrohom Stone, Congregation Adas Yeshurun of Flatbush
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, B’nai Israel of Linden Heights
Rabbi Yitzchok Tenenbaum
Rabbi Samuel Turk, mentioned as president in July 1958
Rabbi Dovid Wachholder, Kollel Emek Halacha
Rabbi Bernard Weinberger, mentioned as president in January 1969
Rabbi Moshe Y. Weiner, Kosher Information Center
Rabbi Luzer Weiss, NYS Kosher Law Enforcement.
Rabbi Marvin Zelkowitz

This is all I could find, but the Internet may well not be all-knowing when it comes to the Rabbinical Alliance of America

A July 2000 article from the New York Daily News noted in an article about Dr. Laura being attacked for support from Abraham Hecht, said the following:

The Rabbinical Alliance is the same group that told Congress in 1997 that it would boycott the Holocaust Museum because it included information about Hitler's homosexual victims.

Later in the article, Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel, who himself has been a tireless advocate for Jonathan Pollard, defended Dr. Laura by telling the Daily News that "I am sure Dr. Laura didn't know any of the other stories about the Rabbinical Alliance;" i.e. even Rabbi Lerner, not a "moderate" (whatever that may mean), thinks that the RAA is pretty extremist.

Is Don't Ask Don't Tell Finally Over?

Federal judge Virginia Phillips has issued an immediate injunction "'to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced' under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

The judge, appointed by President Clinton, let out of committee by then Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch, and confirmed by voice vote on November 10, 1999, issued her ruling in response to a lawsuit filed, ironically, by the Log Cabin Republicans.

The Log Cabin Republicans, of course, are the very same Log Cabin Republicans who could not get even one Senator from their party to even allow the Senate to vote on repealing don't ask don't tell last month.

I guess "judicial activism" is okay for them, though.

Anyway, hopefully the Obama administration does not appeal the ruling (even though I think it is supposed to do so), and this ban is finally over with.

Friday, October 8, 2010

On Cook Political Report's Predictions of Democratic Losses

So Cook Political Report took a step they often don't take, and put a whole bunch of incumbent-held seats for leaning to the other party. Obviously, this being a heavily anti-party in power year (I won't call it a pro-Republican year because we have not seen polls showing that people are particularly thrilled with what the Republican party has to offer, even in comparison with the Democratic party has to offer; they're just pissed about the state of things in the country), and the Democrats being the party in power, the overwhelming majority of those seats (and any seats in play) are held by Democrats.

Specifically, the Cook Political Report currently ranks an unbelievable and depressing 90 seats currently held by Democrats as being Lean Democrat, Tossup, Lean Republican or Likely Republican. There are exactly 7 such Republican-held seats.

That being said, of the 90 seats now (or in the case of NY-29, vacant but having been held by a Dem) held by a Democrat and listed as lean Democrat, tossup, lean Republican, or likely Republican, just 8 do not fall into at least one of the following 2 categories (several fall into more than one, which is why the totals add up to more than 82)

  • 40 are: a seat that was a pickup for Democrats in one of the last 3 election cycles (21 between Election Day 2008 and today, 16 between Election Day 2006 and Election Day 2008, as well as CO-3 (Election Day 2004), and KY-6 and SD-AL (special elections in 2004)
  • 62 are: a seat that was carried by the Republican candidate for president in at least one of 2004 and 2008 (PA-12, John Murtha's old seat, was the only seat to go for both Kerry and McCain; likely, the latent racism in the district alluded to by the late Murtha played a part)

Of those 8, only MA-10 and RI-1 would not be considered marginally Democratic, and both of those are leaning Democratic and are open.

WI-7 is also an open seat, after having been held for 40 years by David Obey. Then there's WI-3 (leaning Dem), CA-20 (leaning Dem), IL-17, where Phil Hare is in his 2nd term, and PA-11, where Paul Kanjorski was showing major signs of weakness even in 2008 against popular anti-immigrant mayor Lou Barletta (he had to be weak because he significantly underperformed Barack Obama here, meaning a bunch of people voted Barletta & Obama).

That being said, things are no less depressing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Georgia Should Toll ALL of I-75/575 except for high occupancy vehicles

Make the tolls higher during rush hour (say, $1.00 during rush hour, 25 cents otherwise), and you can bet that would drastically reduce congestion at a teeny fraction of the price.

The feds rejected the idea of paying for Georgia to add a lane,
but adding another lane is silly, even though it's "relatively" small in terms of number of lanes.

Better it should add commuter rail on the median.

Monday, October 4, 2010

DeMint's Position on Unmarried Women and Gays Not New

Does nobody have a memory span that last 6 years? Does nobody have the ability to do a simple Google News archive search?

This was Jim DeMint's signature issue back in 2004 (okay, that's an exaggeration, but he had this exact same position).

WISTV, Oct 6, 2004

In a debate Sunday with Democrat Inez Tenenbaum DeMint said openly gay people should not be allowed to teach in the state's public schools.

DeMint defended that remark during an interview with the Aiken Standard on Tuesday and said he would feel the same way about single, pregnant women who lives with a boyfriend teaching a third grade child. He said teachers should be held to a higher moral standard.

Now, of course, in the above link it says he apologized-for the remark about single, pregnant women. Not, heaven forbid, about openly gay teachers.

Apparently, though, he's walked this one back.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Note to David A. Graham: You Just Joined Rick Sanchez

In your reporting on Sanchez's on-air rants about how Jews like Jon Stewart control the media, you did the same thing, though admittedly more subtly.

News personalities who make anti-semitic comments tend to fare poorly; just ask Helen Thomas, the Hearst columnist who was forced to retire days after saying that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine."

Nice. You make it seem like Helen Thomas got pushed out by the powerful Jews for daring to say Israel should leave the West Bank.

Now, Democracy Now, while unbiased, is hardly going to be accused of trying to make Helen Thomas look more anti-Semitic than she was, so I'll take the transcript of her remarks from there:

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Yeah, and any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today. Any comments on Israel?

HELEN THOMAS: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Now, far from a gotcha at this point, Rabbi Nesenoff gave her a chance to clarify (i.e. if she had in fact meant that Israel should leave the West Bank)

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Ooh, any better comments than that?

UNIDENTIFIED: Helen is blunt.

Instead, she makes it clear that she was not merely using intemperate language to push an immediate end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Instead, she makes it clear that she favors some sort of ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel to countries that were (Germany) responsible for the Holocaust and (Poland) the residence of 3,000,000 Holocaust victims, but are not "home" in any meaningful sense of the word to more than a tiny fraction of Israelis.

HELEN THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, and it’s not Poland.

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: So where should they go? What should they do?

HELEN THOMAS: They could go home.

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Where is their home?

HELEN THOMAS: Poland, Germany—

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: So the Jews—you’re saying Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?

HELEN THOMAS: —and America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?

RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Now, are you familiar with the history of that region and what took place?

HELEN THOMAS: Very much. I’m of Arab background.


Now, of course, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics shows that only 79,600 (1.4%) of Israeli Jews have Poland or Germany (or Austria, included together with Germany) as home in the sense that they were born there. 2/3 of them are over 65 and are probably Holocaust survivors.

Even stretching to include as having a "home" there either being born there or having a father born there, 361,700 (6.4%) of Israelis are included.

On the other hand, there is the fact that 20.7% by this inflated standard had their home in the Arab world, but had to leave because they weren't wanted there either.

All that being said, 71.2% of Israelis have, as their home in the most direct sense, Israel, as this is where they were born.