Looks Like We Got Us A Convoy

Let those truckers roll:

President Joe Biden claimed on Wednesday that he once drove an 18-wheeler truck, but his remark—made during a visit to a Mack Truck factory in Lower Macungie Township, Pennsylvania—quickly garnered a skeptical reaction.

In audio recorded by local news channel WFMZ-TV, Biden can be heard off camera telling workers at Mack Truck Lehigh Valley Operations: “I used to drive an 18-wheeler, man […] I got to.”

This claim is, like many of the Leader of the Free World’s observations, unmoored from reality. Apparently back in 1973, Biden took a long ride with a truck driver, but there’s no evidence he ever drove the rig:

Zach Parkinson, director of RNC Research, also questioned the president’s claim, sharing a 1973 opinion piece written by Biden, who was then a first-term senator.

In that article, Biden talked about how he had ridden in a “47,000-pound cargo truck” on a 500-mile-plus trip from Delaware to Ohio.

“There is zero evidence that Biden ‘used to drive an 18 wheeler,'” Parkinson tweeted.

“The extent of Biden’s trucking experience is that he **rode in** a truck once, for one night in 1973 (he made sure to return home by plane though).”

Truck drivers and CB radios were a thing back in the 1970s and an advertising guy from Omaha named Bill Fries had a big hit single under the name C.W. McCall. The song “Convoy” made it to #1 on the country and the pop charts in the early part of 1976 and it led to a huge rise in sales for CB radios, which had been, up to that time, primarily a tool for truck drivers and other people in the transportation industry. The song was catchy and the trucker jargon lyrics were entertaining to hear coming through on the AM radio of your ’75 Cutlass:

Well, we rolled up Interstate 44
Like a rocket sled on rails
We tore up all of our swindle sheets
And left ’em settin’ on the scales

By the time we hit that Chi-town
Them bears was a-gettin’ smart
They’d brought up some reinforcements
From the Illinois National Guard

The amusing thing about Fries/ C.W. McCall is he was never a truck driver, either:

“I was never a truck driver, even though people think I must have been,” Fries says. “I wanted to sound authentic. I wanted to talk like people talk. If you want to talk to truckers, you have to sound like a trucker.”

Biden has been straining for authenticity for 50 years now. He’s truck driver, a tough guy from Scranton, friends with Corn Pop and God only knows what else. And he has access to the nuclear codes. 

Come on and join our convoy
Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way
We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy
‘Cross the USA

Sleep tight, everyone.

The Boon That Keeps On Doggling

The Southwest Light Rail Line appears likely to go years and “hundreds of millions of dollars” over schedule and budget.

…what’s happening between Park Siding and Depot Street today is construction of a half-mile tunnel that will carry the Metropolitan Council’s Southwest LRT project through a pinch point in its 15-mile path from downtown to Eden Prairie. Complexities with water, underground debris, and construction methods seem poised to push the line’s opening deep into 2025 or 2026.

Ever since word started to leak out last fall that the Kenilworth tunnel construction was stuck in a sloppy mess of water and boulders, contractors and Met Council officials have known the line could not meet its opening estimates, and that tunnel costs could blow through the project’s contingency fund. But the agency insists even today that it cannot estimate the magnitude of delay nor additional cost.

But in midwinter, in a private call with government stakeholders, the Met Council did offer some specificity, [Twin Cities Business] has learned. At the time, the project was expected to be delayed by at least two years into late 2025, say individuals on that call, including state Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), who chairs the state House Transportation Committee. Hornstein is a supporter of the project who frames himself as disappointed in its current state.

“We raised questions about all these problem areas. They were waived away. Every dire prediction came true, the ones about cost overruns, the ones about the tunnel, the millions given away to railroads in negotiations,” he said in a spring interview.

Who could have possibly predicted this?

Heck – who reported on the ghastly overruns when the bill was half what they’re talking now?

It’s Transit Memorial Day


Today is the 17th anniversary of the opening of the Metro Transit Blue Line – the beginning (or re-beginning) of light rail transit in the Twin Cities.

So on this anniversary, let us remember the people who gave their lives – unwillingly and in many cases unwittingly – to further Big Minnesota obsession with feeling like a Big City.

The Blue Line has claimed 15 lives – eight pedestrians, three bikers, a man in a wheelchair, and three people in cars. There was also a stabbing death this past winter on the Blue Line, and two more murders at stations along the line. That’s an average of just one death per year.

The Green Line has taken eight victims in only five years – the first just six weeks after the train started operating, mostly pedestrians trying to navigate the badly-designed street-level crossings. The most recent was in the last couple years.

The Northstar line has five fatalities so far.

That’s 29 dead, so far. 29 lives sacrificed so that the Met Council, the various governments, and other people who love to play with the dials and levers of government can feel like they’re “running” a big city with all the trimmings. 

Let’s take a moment today to remember these innocent victims of government megalomania.

The New, Blue Flavor

Mass transit.

Old and busted: “it’s about moving people”

New and Fresh: “It’s about smashing racism”.

The Met Council released its new plans for yet another extension to the “Blue Line”, which would push the rail line – whose usage has plummeted since Covid – all the way up to Oak Grove.

And it would appear that the motivating factor was…equity?

“As a Hennepin County Commissioner and North Minneapolis resident, I’m excited about the transformative benefits light rail projects can bring to communities,” said Irene Fernando, Hennepin County District 2 Commissioner and chair of the Regional Railroad Authority. “The new direction of the Blue Line Extension is positioned to serve among the most racially and economically diverse communities in Hennepin, while also connecting transit-reliant residents to the broader regional transit system. This will change the trajectory of what’s possible for so many of our neighbors — connecting students to education, patients to healthcare, and workers to jobs.

“To pursue this work equitably, we must also recognize that large-scale public investments can accelerate patterns of residential and economic displacement, and work together to ensure this investment benefits corridor residents, builds community wealth, and meaningfully addresses decades-long patterns of disinvestment,” Fernando said.

I’d urge commissioner Fernando to come to the Midway and breathe in all the “equity” that the Green Line has brought to my neighborhood. Come with a group.

I heard Met Council commissioner Charlie Zelle on MPR over the weekend tie the change in plans to…

…you guessed it…

…George Floyd.

Is “George Floyd” turning into a progressive branding gimmick?

(The MPR News site’s search feature being apparently nearly worthless, I can’t quite find the clip from yesterday. I’ll keep looking).

All Is Not As It Seems

A friend of the blog emails:

https://www.startribune.com/biodiesel-not-electric-buses-may-join-metro-transit-fleet/600029359/

[The Strib notes that] “Biodiesel, not electric, buses may join Metro Transit fleet. “

Biodiesel? Made from animal fat?

That means I’ll need to eat more meat!

After almost three years of keto, it’s a tempting conclusion.

But I’ll haste to add that a key source of biodiesel is…

…er…

…the downstream leg of the human digestive function, ifyaknowwhatImean.

Go To Any Part Of The Bus You Want

A friend of the blog emails:

So, the St Paul City Council unanimously told MNDOT to take away lanes in areas where POC live because of racism.

CM Mitra Jalali is really proud of the unanimous support. They’re really sticking it to those white supremacist racist highway planners by saying that these poor, mostly Black and Asian communities need to ride busses instead of cars. Wait a minute- what is our city council actually saying here?

It’s saying “we don’t care when you get somewhere – just don’t do it in a car”.

Timing

A friend of the blog emails:

Do I have this right? The pandemic has reduced commuter travel as employees and students work from home. The buses all say “essential travel only” and are not allowing the crowds they once had. Honestly, they probably don’t even have the crowds- fewer people are using the bus right now. I haven’t been on a bus lately, but I still get the texts about reduced service. Several times a day, buses aren’t running for all sorts of reasons.

Yet, despite all of this, Metro Transit employees were set to get a 2.5% raise and a $1500 bonus? The hospital where I work cancelled raises, eliminated CEU money, and cancelled the Holiday parties and meals because elective surgeries were cancelled for 2 months. Yet, these transit employees think their bonus and 2.5% raise are “crappy offers” and rejected the offer, voting for a strike?????

 I rarely use such language, but seriously, WTF is wrong with these people? I mean, look around- they ought to be happy with being employed, let alone a raise this year.

If Metro Transit struck now, who would know? 

Other than the people the DFL and their public employee union enablers want to keep miserable anyway? 

Transit Memorial Day

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the opening of the Metro Transit Blue Line – the beginning (or re-beginning) of light rail transit in the Twin Cities.

So on this anniversary, let us remember the people who gave their lives – unwillingly and probably unwittingliy – to further Big Minnesota Left’s obsession with feeling like a Big City.

The Blue Line has claimed 15 lives – eight pedestrians, three bikers, a man in a wheelchair, and three people in cars. There was also a stabbing death this past winter on the Blue Line, and two more murders at stations along the line. That’s an average of just one death per year.

The Green Line has taken eight victims in only five years – the first just six weeks after the train started operating, mostly pedestrians trying to navigate the badly-designed street-level crossings. The most recent was less than a year ago. j

The Northstar line has five fatalities so far, the latest just last winter.

That’s 29 dead, so far. 29 lives sacrificed so that the Met Council, the various governments, and other people who love to play with the dials and levers of government can feel like they’re “running” a big city with all the trimmings.

Let’s take a moment today to remember these innocent victims of government megalomania.

The Good News: Americans Have Learned A Lot About Dealing With Crises

The bad news: they learned it by watching The Walking Dead.

I’ve noticed a serious uptick in incredibly dangerous, reckless driving since the onset of the epidemic.

Now, out on I94 between the Cities is one thing. But this includes a lot of episodes on Saint Paul’s narrow side streets.

Worst example? I was driving down Phalen Parkway, out toward the East Side a few weeks ago. Not long after I passed Olive street, moving about 40MPH, I saw a car way behind me, moving very fast, swerving between the oncoming and right lanes, doing at least 90mph (in a 40mph zone).

Worse yet, I saw a concrete median, and cars in the oncoming lane, Speed Racer was going to have to squeeze into the right lane, along with me, before we got to the median.

Part of me thought “just carry on, and let the moron either jam on the binders or smack into the median – before I remembered that “me and my new-ish used car” were also a viable option. I pulled over – and the moron (a twenty-something of Vibrant descent) swerved into the lane with probably ten feet to spare, jamming on the gas.

I followed him, hoping to get a license or at least be around to call in the crash report, but he swerved onto Frank Street, narrowly missing an oncoming car, and gunned it up the hill into the neighborhood. I lost him. I have to hope he didn’t kill anyone – yet.

So I’d been wondering when we’d start seeing stories like these all over the place.

Spitting In Your Soup And Calling It A “Dumpling”

As the Southwest News reports, city governments in the southwest metro are getting ready to try to deal with the plague that no DFL-dominated city government dare name; crime descending upon them via the light rail.

The article explains the basics.

I thought this bit here was particularly interesting (and I’ve added all emphasis):

Metro Transit communications and outreach manager Sam O’Connell echoed [Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie] Zelle’s sentiment that the increased disturbances on public transit are signs that the light rail, now 16 years old, has become a part of the community fabric. Addressing these problems will take a multi-pronged approach, she added.

“Part of this is just a maturation of the system,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s ever a silver bullet that will reduce all of this altogether.”

Catch that?

Crime, vandalism, blight, fear, predation – they aren’t signs of decay anymore.

They’re signs of “maturation” into the “community fabric”.

In some future edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, this quote may wind up as part of the definition of the phrase “Racism (classism, whatever) of low expectations”.

And probably of “moving the goalposts”.

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight 6PM

One man stabbed to death in an incident on the Ventura Trolley (Blue LIne) by the Mall of America Wednesday night:

tro Transit police and Bloomington police were called to a Park & Ride just north of the Mall of America station shortly before 1 a.m. 
Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla said video shows a fight between two men on the Blue Line ended after one of them pulled a knife. 

Will the city’s “Resiliency” Department handle this? Or will it be the Bikeability director?

Not sure the people who run these cities realize what “quality of life” problems are going to do to this city’s future.

End Traffic Violence!

Nobody needs more than one car. Nobody needs to drive a car more than once a month. There should be psychological profiles and strict background checks for all vehicle transfers, including loans to friends and rent a cars. A 6 gallon gas tank limit is plenty.

No wonder the Democrats and media are pushing the “impeachment effort” so hard; Warren is insane, and she’s the sanest of the bunch (among those who have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting nominated – sorry, A-Klo and whoever that flavor of the month from Hawaii was…).

When The NARN Talks, People Listen. Eventually. Maybe.

Back in 2007 or so, James Lileks stopped by the NARN broadcast at Back to the Fifties – the classic-car show at the State Fairgrounds that used to be such a vibrant focus of life in the Midway before the same people that brought us Tony Soprano-style trash collection badgered the cruising hot rods out of existence.

Because “vibrancy”, to the new Urbanites, must exclude those who actually vibrate.

Anyway – while on the air, Lileks pointed to a 1967 Mustang Fastback, and proclaimed that “the electric car will never succeed until Detroit builds one that looks like that“.

Was Detroit tuned in that day?

I’ll just assume they were; Ford’s new battery car is going to be an electric version of the car that, along with the Model T and the F150, may be the marque’s most iconic vehicle – the Mustang:

Originally Ford was working on what it openly described as “a compliance car,” one built simply to meet incoming emissions rules in the US and Europe. But in 2017 it threw out those plans, putting together an internal skunk works called Team Edison with a brief to reimagine the project. Its goal was to design a BEV that could only be a Ford, and there’s little that’s more iconically Ford than the galloping pony.

Five models are on the way:

Between late 2020 and spring 2021, Ford will bring out a mix of rear- and all-wheel drive Mach-Es with either standard- or extended-range battery packs. The cheapest of these is the Select; $43,895 buys you a rear-driving one of these with the smaller pack, but you’ll have to wait until early 2021 to get one of those. That also applies to the $52,400 California Route 1, a RWD version with lower-drag 18-inch wheels and the long-range battery pack. All prices are before the IRS tax credit is taken into account; this will be $7,500 until Ford joins Tesla and General Motors in having sold 200,000 plug-ins, at which point it will begin to sunset. Ford expects this to happen at some point in 2021.

Maybe there’s hope? 

Who Has Two Thumbs…

…and tried to warn you that this exact thing was inevitable?

(Points thumbs at self).

This guy.

The Vomit Comet (aka Green Line) is a rolling assault and robbery laboratory.

The FOX 9 Investigators revealed that aggravated assaults on the light rail system, those involving a weapon or causing serious injury, numbered 59 through July 31 of this year. That is more than the 52 aggravated assaults in all of 2018, and 41 aggravated assaults in 2017.
Robberies and thefts are also on the rise with 384 incidents through October 28 of this year. That’s more than the 330 incidents in all of 2018 and 374 incidents in 2017.
“Sadly, Metro Transit’s own data reveals a transit system in crisis with a record number of assaults, robberies, and other criminal activity taking place on trains and at light rail stations,” said [Republican representative Paul] Torkelson.

In 18 months of riding the Vomet Comet to work pretty much daily, I think I saw transit cops a dozen times – and two of those were responding to assaults that’d already happened; essentially, they were crime janitors. 

And that’s just crime on the trains; it doesn’t cover the spike in crime along the Green Line.  I’ll be working on getting those numbers together for the five years since the Vomit Comet started bringing fare-skipping thugs to the Midway.  It’s not gonna be pretty. ]

In Memory Of Lives Sacrificed For The “Greater Good”

The nation’s political class is currently paralyzed with rage over people dying of vaping.

Ignoring the fact that vaping has likely saved thousands of lives by helping people stop smoking, and more people never start – never mind! A death toll in single digits, almost entirely from using home-made vaping fluids or the occasional extremely rare lung condition, and Big Government, Big Left and, presumably, Big Tobacco are on the warpath against legal vaping.

Over less than ten deaths out of 320 million people in a decade.

And our political class is beating the whole world over the head with climate change – a crisis that has killed nobody, but has terrorized hundreds of thousands of school kids into turning into protest droogs on command. .

So I got to looking at the records for the Twin Cities’ three rail lines – the Blue and Green (“Vomit Comet”) light rail lines and the North Star heavy commuter line.

Now, I expected these deeply dim-witted projects to rack up a death toll.

I wasn’t ready for what I found.

Currently, the lines have claimed 26 lives in fifteen years.

Rail LineDeath TollYears in OperationBodies Per Year
Blue LIne1315.88
Green Line (aka “Vomit Comet:)851.6
North Star Line510.5

I’m adtually a bit surprised that the death toll on the North Star is as high as it is; the intersections tend to be pretty well-controlled, and the trains run on existing right of way.

On the other hand? The death toll on the Green Line astounds me – and the number for the Blue Lline kinda snuck into double digits when I wasn’t looking too.

That’s 26 people dead. 26 families forever altered. 26 Transit employees scarred.

Something has to be done.

June 23, 2020. That’s the 16th anniversary of the start of regular Blue Line service. And I’m going to observe it as Transit Memorial Day. A day of solemn rememrance of the 26 people (so far) whose lives have been sacrificed…

…for what?

To support the Met Council and the Political class’s urge to feel like a real big city? To build a monument to the government’s power?

Yeah, totally worth it.

See you June 23.

Overpowered By Awful

I just finished spending a year and a half riding the Vomit Comet (aka “the Green Line”) to work and back most days.

At its best, it was a serviceable ride.

At its most middling, it was crowded with free-loading University kids and, early on cold mornings, homeless people curled up sleeping on the chairs.

At its worst? I navigated between puddles of vomit, stepped in a pool of urine, and was to the point of intervening as a man attacked a woman.

You can almost sense the defeat in the Met Council’s latest release:

Metro Transit is ending 24/7 service on the Green Line between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis.
The change, which is scheduled to take effect in August, comes amid concerns about drug use, assaults and other misconduct on the trains.
Under the plan, the light rail trains will not run between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. weekdays.
General Manager Wes Kooistra said the trains will be replaced with buses that will stop near each Green Line station.
Kooistra said the two-hour shutdown will also give crews more time to clean train cars and repair tracks

Emphasis on “clean the cars”.

An Idea Whose Time Should Not Come

When you’re a Republican, especially in a bluish-purple place like Minnesota, you hope you can vote for Republicans who’ll hold the line on taxes – even to the minimal level of not proposing new ones.

Sadly, we’re disappointed – as I discussed with Liz Mair on the show over the weekend. Senator Howe is proposing a tax on electric vehicles.

Here’s the interview:

I get the logic, sort of – it’s to replace some of the gas tax revenue lost by the increasing efficiency of cars the greater number of people driving electrics, and the people dropping out of the commuting force as telecommuting picks up speed.

But a Republican should be proposing fewer, not more, taxes.

And if we could see to some of that unsustainable spending, that’d be a cherry on the sundae.

Train In…Yep, Vain

The advocates of high-speed rail to Chicago have changed their minds; they now want another low-speed train for a total of two per day.
Conspicuously left unasked: where are the photos of the throngs of people left standing on the train platforms because there’s no room on the existing train?   Is there actually a demand for a second train?  Is St. Paul-to-Chicago passenger demand unmet by the MegaBus, or airline?  If so, shouldn’t we know how many people we’re talking about, to gauge whether it’s worth spending a pile of money providing the service?
It seems odd to me that Amtrak would be intentionally leaving customers stranded rather than add another passenger car to the train.  That suggests there are no customers, only lobbyists.
Like the ones who convinced St. Paul and Ramsey County to spend a fortune remodeling the downtown train station, for its once-a-day train visit.  Beautiful, but desolate, a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Joe Doakes

Minnesota Progressives – not solving non-problems for 100 years.

Ideas

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I can’t believe how self-centered and thoughtless Christmas shoppers are.

I’m trying to back out of my parking space and pedestrians walk right behind me! Don’t they see me backing up?

They’re as bad as the drivers who back out of their parking spot when I’m trying to walk to the store. Don’t they see me walking here?

Joe Doakes

If only there were…pedestrian lanes!

The Carnage Continues Apace

The Green Line (aka “The Vomit Comet” – ride it late on a weekend night or early on a weekend morning to find out what that means.  Or…don’t) has claimed its second life this year:

The crash occurred at Syndicate Street and University Avenue about 4:30 p.m., according to Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla. Two men were crossing the tracks at the intersection, when a westbound train struck one of them.

The man who was struck by the train was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died about 5 p.m., Padilla said.

The crash disrupted Green Line service between Hamline and Western avenues until shortly after 5:30 p.m., according to posts on Metro Transit’s Twitter account.

That’s on top of another, two blocks away, last January, and at least 2-3 more previously.

That’s a project I may need to take on – going over the human factors problems that make the Green Line such a death machine.

On top of the six (last I checked) on the Blue Line, and makes the Metro Transit trains’ body count roughly 11 times that of Minnesota carry permit holders.

 

Dispatches From Never-Never Land

A friend of the blog writes:

Oh, boy. I think we know why this person isn’t a business owner.

I just think about my own job on this. Imagine your nurse showing up late or leaving early because she biked. Imagine morale amongst the co-workers who don’t have that luxury to bike, but have kids to pick up from school or other obligations, yet they need to cover the bicyclist’s 40 minutes of non-work. But, hey, I hope she does actually try to start a business. She might learn a lot.

She’ll have a flat tire and miss the grand opening.

The Power Of “No“

The most powerful word in the free market is “no”.

With the simple word “no”, each individual consumer votes every day on the products and services they do or, vastly more often, don’t want to spend their scarce, precious resources on.

Were it not for the word “no”, cell phones would still weigh 2 pounds and cost $10 a minute; cars would still have two wheel drum brakes; VHS tapes would still rule the home-video market.

The lack of the term “no” – or, at least, it’s complete on importance to central planners, who are all about their various pet “yeses”,- is one of the great flies, if not the fatal weakness, and socialism.

Without the word “no”, there would be no free market. Also, no improvement in goods, services or, really, the entire human condition.

With that in mind – people are saying “no” in record numbers to government subsidized mass transit.

The Federal Transit Administration released June 2018 data revealing that the transit industry has now experienced four straight years of ridership losses. June 30 was the end of the fiscal year for most transit agencies, and ridership has fallen in every fiscal year since 2014.

Nationwide, the total decline since 2014 was 7 percent, but declines in many urban areas were much larger:

• 29 percent in Memphis;

• 27 percent in Charlotte;

• 26 percent in Miami;

• 25 percent in Albuquerque;

• 24 percent in Cleveland;

• 22 percent in St. Louis;

• 21 percent in Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Virginia Beach; and

• 20 percent in Los Angeles.

The article Dash by the excellent Randall O’Toole – notes that the feds are blaming a lot of factors for this tree fall Dash ride healing services for the middle class, and the simple fact that most poor people own cars, and most people can reach more better paying jobs in 10 minutes by car than an hour by transit.

But they all boiled down to one thing – people everywhere, nationwide, of all economic groups (except for a tiny fringe of “car free” middle class trend follower is) are saying “no” to being jammed into trains to go with the government has deemed they need to be.

Spirit Of America

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/car-technology/a21272157/aerodynamics-car-science/

 

The reason all cars look the same is aerodynamics, which matter to fuel efficiency, which is mandated by the government.

I’d gladly give up a few miles per gallon if I could have my ’67 Mustang back, only with less rust and a modern reliable engine.

Give me a Mustang body sitting on a Hyundai Sonata powertrain and we’re golden.

Let’s see:

Yeah, that’d work.