Oh, Wisconsin. You gave the world Robert La Follette, but also Joseph McCarthy; Frank Zeidler, and Paul Ryan; and, of course, Scott Walker, whose latest rigidly-ideological imbecile move will keep Wisconsin firmly in the 20th century:
Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to hand back $810 million to the federal government — money that would have built a fast train from Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago — remains one of the most unfortunate and stupid acts in recent Wisconsin history. Not only did Walker deprive Wisconsin of a modern rail system, his ideological rigidity cost our state thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars.
Walker’s decision, supposedly based on avoiding about $5 million a year in operating costs, has cost the taxpayers plenty. Because the federal grant would have made necessary repairs to the Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Chicago, returning the federal money has meant that the state has had to spend tens of millions of Wisconsin taxpayer dollars instead. The cancellation of the rail link also meant that the state was out $50 million to the train manufacturer Talgo for trains that were built but never used, plus a large punitive settlement.
It wasn’t just tax dollars we lost. In a state that has fallen behind the rest of the nation in job creation, we also forfeited a large number of employment opportunities. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, rail-related employment would have peaked at 4,732 jobs, largely in construction of the line. Operating and maintaining the trains would have created 55 permanent jobs. On top of that, the train manufacturer Talgo laid off its workforce and moved out of state. Talgo employed 150 workers in a section of Milwaukee that desperately needs jobs and held promise to expand future employment significantly. Also, a modern transportation system is a big draw for high-tech companies.
Progressive administrations are also draws for high-tech companies (or, rather, their employees), as North Carolina is finding out.
I wonder if voters will ever figure out that the Republican Party is killing their economic opportunities every chance they get?
New Republic's Joe Miller outlines how the Alabama Republican Party has made life worse for just about everyone in Alabama:
“There is nothing good that has come from the Republicans being in power in Alabama, and I’m a Republican,” says Arthur Payne, a former state representative from Birmingham. “Since the Republicans have taken over, we have borrowed more money than we ever have in the history of the state, and our budget is in worse shape than it’s ever been.”
That’s saying a lot for a state that for decades has ranked near the bottom of just about every socioeconomic measure. Nearly 660,000 Alabamians go without health insurance. The state has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, and ranks in the top ten in heart disease, cancer, stroke, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease. It has the seventh-lowest percentage of residents with college degrees, the fifth-lowest with high school diplomas, and the sixth-highest unemployment rate. The median income is $42,278, third-lowest in the country, a mere 3 percent increase over what it was in 2010, when Hubbard and the Republicans took control. Over the same period, the nation’s median income has increased 8 percent.
In the most recent legislative session, Alabama faced another budget shortfall, and instead of raising taxes or finding places to cut state programs, legislators took it all out of Medicaid’s budget.
They've also made it unlikely that any foreign companies will open factories there for at least a generation, in party by arresting executives from Honda and Mercedes-Benz on charges of giving food to illegal immigrants.
So when you say that Donald Trump doesn't represent the mainstream GOP, your definition of "mainstream" is awfully narrow.
These are the kinds of articles that make me want to go into exile:
- A years-long investigation by journalist David Cay Johnston uncovered links between Donald Trump and key mafia figures, which would make Trump the most corrupt presidential candidate since Harding.
- James Fallows warns us not to assume that even though because the U.S. has gotten out of previous political crises, we shouldn't complacently assume that we'll do it again if Trump gets elected. He draws on Madison's Federalist #10 to make his point: "It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
- Finally, The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik comments on "The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump," underscoring the point Fallows made: "[U]nder any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is."
It's going to be a long five months.
With perfect weather and a D&D-themed pub crawl today, posting will be...suboptimal. I promise at least one photo later this weekend.
The National Climate Prediction Center has released its outlooks for the next few months, and they look mixed for Chicago:
For the summer months of June, July, and August, the outlook for Illinois is [equal chances] for rainfall and an increased chance of being above-normal on temperatures. It is a rare combination in Illinois to have a warmer than normal summer without being drier than normal as well.
For September, October, November, southern Illinois has an increased chance of being drier than normal. This is part of a larger area of drier conditions in the South and Southwest. The rest of Illinois is EC. All of Illinois, and almost all of the US has an increased chance of being warmer than normal in the fall.
I haven't gone back to look at earlier predictions, but I think they've been pretty close this year.
It's crystal-clear and 20°C in Chicago right now, so blogging will lag a bit as I spend all of my free time outside.
YouTube user John Meyer has found two films of boat rides on the Chicago River and into the lake. This one is from 1956:
And this one is from 1983:
Too many things to read before lunchtime:
Now, back to work.
Bullet the Bison takes this folk song literally:
The Dallas NBC affiliate has more.
On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court handed down Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which ended "separate but equal" education after finding that the two concepts are antagonistic. Also on this day in 1954, the City of Chicago announced plans for the Stateway Gardens housing project, which eventually replaced an African-American slum with a high-rise hell-on-earth housing African Americans. As historian John R. Schmidt comments, "Maybe the new public housing projects were an attempt to keep Black people on 'their side of the tracks.'" (They were; he's being sarcastic.)
A similar pattern exists today. Despite historic, unprecedented support for the LGBT community throughout most of the U.S., the right has taken on the non-existent issue of predators in bathrooms to win votes in an election year. The small minority of people who (a) care about this issue and (b) are afraid of gays nevertheless has support from latter-day Sheriff Clark figures like Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans.
Progress is never smooth. I just wish people on the wrong side of history would get out of the way sometimes.