What is it with Republicans and junk science?
Among his other famous malapropisms and false statements, Ronald Reagan once claimed:
"Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources." - Sierra magazine (September 10, 1980)
The environmental record of the Reagan Administration should be enough to give pause to anybody who would consider voting for people who base policy on junk science and that is certainly what I was thinking when I read Nancy Mistele's "evidence" against using commuter rail in Jay Rath's piece on the Dane County Executive race this week.
Now, it's clearly no secret that Mistele has cast her lot with the anti-rail crazies - who have swarmed to meetings about the proposed Regional Transportation Authority spouting claims that commuter rail will make the Isthmus a traffic hell, blow untold amounts of taxpayer monies, wreck the environment and illegally install a socialistic Kenyan national as President. Whoops...mixed my wingnut talking points for a second. And the anti-rail forces have certainly cast their lot with her.
But now it has come to this:
Mistele claims that besides costing a billion dollars, commuter rail will lead to increased pollution. "I actually had a student who did a little carbon footprint study analysis of it," she says. "He's an astrophysics student at the UW." The increased pollution would come from "all the cars...stopped at different sites where road closures are to occur."
In fact, Jeff Waksman, who did the analysis (he also edits the newsletter of the Dane County Republican Party) [Spin City note: How convenient!], is a doctoral student in plasma physics, not astrophysics, and admits his analysis is not a scientific study. Still, citing Transport 2020 numbers, he says that commuter rail would only take 500 cars off the road, and that some streets would have as many as 12 rail crossings an hour.
You get that, everybody? Nancy Mistele is going to base policy on a "study" that's not peer-reviewed, clearly political spin and by the author's own admission cannot be called a "scientific study". Where do these Republicans get the idea this is any way to do things?!? Oh right, Ronald Reagan - who also once said:
"Trains are not any more energy efficient than the average automobile, with both getting about 48 passenger miles to the gallon."
- Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1980
[And remember, "Ronald Reagan" is to wingnut talking points as garlic is to vampires. As I always like to say, use liberally.]
Which brings me to...
Spin City's deep thought of the day: In order to buy into this week's faux wingnut outrage about President Obama filling out college basketball brackets and showing up on Leno while there's so much that needs to be done (waitaminute...wasn't last week's talking point that Obama is working on too much? Oh well...), you have to conveniently forget about the work habits of his predecesor.
Put aside for the moment that George Bush treated the year 2008 as if he had the world's largest case of senioritis. This was a man who made the French say "Geez, he sure likes taking a lot of vacation."
And he wouldn't cut short a month-long vacation to address a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within United States" in 2001 and stayed on vacation in 2005 while a major American city drowned.
The Official Spin City Obama Recovery Watch:
Ever since Dave Blaska last glibly cheered for America's economy to fail, the Dow has had two straight weeks of gains and is up 10.37%. Here's hoping he keeps up the cheerleading - my retirement account thanks him for his efforts.