I Guess The Technology Had Already Been Funded

US News & World Report reported yesterday that the section of the railway track where the Amtrak train crashed did have a computer system that allows speeding trains to be slowed remotely. Unfortunately, the system was not turned on at the time.

The article reports:

“The PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philadelphia accident occurred, but for whatever reason had not been turned on, the PTC in that section,” Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., tells U.S. News, referring to “positive train control.” 

His account was corroborated by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

“The tracks had PTC, the train had PTC,” Harris says.

 Both congressmen are members of the House Appropriations Committee, which contacted Amtrak for more information about the crash.

“According to Amtrak, PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philly accident occurred,” a committee source writes in an email to U.S. News. “There have been delays in ‘turning it on’ associated with FCC dealings and getting the bandwidth to upgrade the radios from 900 MHz to something higher (for more reliability).”

Amtrak’s application for the bandwidth needed to use the positive train control system was approved in “early March,” an FCC official says.

Because speed has been cited as a major cause of this tragic crash, this is critical information. Somehow, this has not been widely mentioned in the discussion.

Bringing Back The Old Play Book

Why is it that when someone expresses concern about the 1.2 million babies killed in the womb in America or attempts to lower that number, they are accused of waging ‘war on women?’ It seems to me that women’s health is broader than the right to kill their offspring. Evidently this is an issue where you don’t cross the left–even if you are one of them.

U.S. News & World Report posted an op-ed piece last Tuesday by Jamie Stiehm about Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The piece states that:

Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act‘s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?

…Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I’ve noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can’t know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women’s rights and liberties. We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.

The article is snarky at best. The writer obviously does not understand the idea that some people apply what they learn in church to their daily lives. The Catholic Church is not the only religious group that opposes abortion–they are simply the largest and most vocal. Evidently, when you disagree with the liberal view that abortion should be underwritten by the government, you are accused of not understanding or applying the concept of separation of church and state. That concept was not in the Constitution. In fact, in the early days of America, there were churches that met in the Capitol building. Our founders understood that Biblical morality would be a good foundation for our representative republic. Unfortunately, most of our current politicians have forgotten this.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

About That College Thing

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about President Obama’s speech detailing his plan for higher education. The goal of the plan is to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve the value of college for students and their families. That sounds really good until you realize that federal subsidies are largely responsible for the exponential increases in college tuition in recent years. Included in the President’s plan for colleges is a federal rating system.

Mr. Mirengoff points out:

The federal rating system is unnecessary. Plenty of private outfits — most famously, U.S. News and World Report — rate colleges on a broad array of criteria. Relevant information about colleges is easy to come by, and from sources more trustworthy than ideologically-driven federal bureaucrats.

While the first elements of Obama’s plan is merely unnecessary, the second element — tying federal assistance to the federal rating system — strikes me as pernicious. First, I doubt the federal government’s ability to rate colleges with sufficient accuracy to justify attaching monetary consequences to its ratings.

Second, Obama’s plan will increase the federal government’s ability to coerce colleges into embracing even more fully a left-wing agenda — e.g., discriminating against whites in admissions and hiring, unfairly disciplining male students based on flimsy allegations of sexual harassment, and so forth.

Third, even if the federal government were able to come up with a reasonable and unbiased rating system, it would still have no business discriminating financially against the families of students who decide to attend colleges they (and the families) believe are better suited to their particular purposes.

The federal bureaucracy is already out of control. We really do not need to make it worse. The plan offered by the President does not reduce federal subsidies to colleges–it simply redistributes them. This seems to be another opportunity for the government to pick winners and losers. The government has already meddled unsuccessfully in the auto industry and in the energy industry. We don’t need to let them meddle unsuccessfully into higher education.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Jobs Numbers In Perspective

Mort Zuckerman posted an article at the Wall Street Journal yesterday analyzing the latest jobs report. Mort Zuckerman is chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report. In the article Mr. Zuckerman points out that the longest and worst recession since the end of World War II has been followed by the weakest recovery from a recession in that period.

The article points out that the jobless rate is actually increasing–not decreasing:

The jobless nature of the recovery is particularly unsettling. In June, the government’s Household Survey reported that since the start of the year, the number of people with jobs increased by 753,000—but there are jobs and then there are “jobs.” No fewer than 557,000 of these positions were only part-time. The survey also reported that in June full-time jobs declined by 240,000, while part-time jobs soared by 360,000 and have now reached an all-time high of 28,059,000—three million more part-time positions than when the recession began at the end of 2007.

That’s just for starters. The survey includes part-time workers who want full-time work but can’t get it, as well as those who want to work but have stopped looking. That puts the real unemployment rate for June at 14.3%, up from 13.8% in May.

That is not a recovery.

The article also points out:

That brings us to a stunning fact about the jobless recovery: The measure of those adults who can work and have jobs, known as the civilian workforce-participation rate, is currently 63.5%—a drop of 2.2% since the recession ended. Such a decline amid a supposedly expanding economy has never happened after previous recessions. Another statistic that underscores why this is such a dysfunctional labor market is that the number of people leaving the workforce during this economic recovery has actually outpaced the number of people finding a new job by a factor of nearly three.

We need a serious change of economic policy to turn this around. ObamaCare is a major part of the problem, but over regulation and over taxation also play a part in this problem. Unemployment numbers of above 7 percent should not be allowed to become the norm.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Establishing Our Rights Through The Courts

The courts were not meant to be the all-powerful entity they have morphed into, but as long as the courts have assumed that role, we ought to be able to use them to protect our rights as citizens. A number of organizations have figured this out.

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) have filed a lawsuit against the government calling for the end of the NSA domestic phone surveillance program. The lawsuit, ACLU v Clapper, argues that the surveillance program is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and exceeds the Patriot Act. The article states that both the ACLU and NYCLU were customers of Verizon Business Network Services, which had been required to hand over on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ domestic phone records by a routinely renewed order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The article reports:

A class action suit already in place against the U.S. government for the NSA’s routine collection is expected to be amended Wednesday to include the Internet companies alleged to have partnered with the NSA regarding a secret Internet surveillance program, reported U.S. News & World Report.

The accused Internet companies — AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo! and YouTube — have all denied any knowledge or  the program.

I don’t have a problem with monitoring calls from and to Americans from out of the country, but it does seem a bit much to put all Americans under telephone surveillance.

Enhanced by Zemanta