Blaming Obama for Everything

A very humorous yet frustrating phenomenon has been occurring since November 2008. On a somewhat regular basis, ultraconservative commentors on various websites blame President Barack Obama for everything they don’t like in this country — or, at the very least, use every opportunity possible to badmouth him. Some may compare this to the way liberals blamed President Bush for our nation’s problems over the past 8 years, but I would argue that this is a very, very different situation. In some of these comments, President Obama is being blamed for issues that have absolutely nothing to do with the ferderal government or even politics in general. As you can see, there is absolutely no reason why President Obama should even be mentioned in relation to many of these topics.

Poster “Liz” writes a negitive review for the Broadway musical Avenue Q:
“We have been season tickets holders to Broadway in Austin and this was one of the offerings. This is the first time in five years that I left at intermission. My husband and I usually go to the shows but my husband was sick so I read more went with my daughter – my 28 year old daughter. She was the one who suggested we leave. The actors were talented, the staging with the puppets was interesting, the pornography was disgusting and the lyrics were, well, just plain stupid. It wasn’t thought provoking unless you are so completely uninformed you just learned Obama was half white. Like OMG!”

WTF does President Obama have to do with Avenue Q?

Poster “Diogenes” comments on news story [edit: now offline] about people returning empty boxes to retailers while getting a refund for the product supposedly in the box:
“I waited behind two guys in white paint splattered coveralls as they returned three large step ladders, slightly used of course, to the returns desk and their complaint was ‘they didn’t like them’. They got to use the ladders free, more than likely for their one speciality job, and the store takes the hit for now having USED merchandise on their hands. Of course they don’t eat the cost. It gets folded into their overhead and we end up paying for it by prices that are just a little bit higher. If you understand Obama’s spreading the wealth philosophy then I’m sure you have no problem understanding this.

How exactly does fraudulently returning merchandise to a retailer relate to Obama?

“Smorgasbord” comments on a Consumerist article about Walmart accidentally pricing an item at $17.504 (yes, that’s four-tenths of a cent):
They are preparing you for what prices will be once Obama gets all of his extra taxes he is going to put on businesses. The price is actually $17,504. But keep in mind, he promised 95% of the people will get a tax cut. Only businesses and the rich will be taxed more. So if you never buy anything, you won’t be paying higher taxes.

Originally posted on Notes from the Undertow.

National Dark-Sky Week 2009

Tonight, take a look into the sky. Your view will be very different than that of someone a century ago. You will likely see a lot more light, and a lot fewer stars, than our ancestors would have seen.

An unfortunate side effect of our modern industrial society is light pollution. Unlike the contamination of our air or water, light pollution is one type of contamination people may not think about or take very seriously. But over-illumination causes a variety of issues, such as an annoying nighttime glow, unnecessary energy usage, problems for astronomers, and even human health problems like reduced visual acuity and increased fatigue. Like our air and water, our dark night sky is a natural resource that we must work together to preserve.

Today marks the beginning of National Dark-Sky Week (April 20-26, 2009). This annual event encourages Americans to audit their outdoor light fixtures and reduce their contribution to this problem. To help, you can turn off any unnecessary lights and make sure the rest are aimed toward the ground and are only as bright as necessary. Maybe even consider purchasing a directional shade to prevent your fixtures from spilling light upward.

One emerging technology that may help reduce light pollution is LED lighting. Although LED bulbs last longer and use less energy than incandescent or even CFL bulbs, their highly-directional light is typically seen as a drawback. In the case of outdoor lighting, directionality could be a benefit, as less light leaks up to the sky.

Although it may seem minor in comparison to other pressing issues, it’s easy to make a small step toward reducing light pollution and improving public quality of life. This National Dark-Sky Week, take a moment to think about the simple things you can do to reduce your impact.

Originally posted to UrbanCincy.

Blue Wisp could move to Clifton

Depending on their mood, Gaslight dwellers can walk to get groceries, watch the latest independent film, grab a bite to eat at restaurants featuring various types of cuisine and price levels and take their pick of assorted taverns to drink a cocktail, including the city’s oldest gay bar. They even have a wide choice of places to worship, ranging from a mosque to a Unitarian church.

Soon those choices will include a place to buy hammers and nails and possibly a venue to hear live Jazz performed nightly.

Transit-Oriented Development Isn’t a Myth

In their second article this month criticizing the Cincinnati Streetcar proposal, the organization COAST continues to make bold claims backed up with few facts.

Their claims in this article?

  1. The belief that “Transit Attracts Development” is a myth.
  2. The extension of Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail system into Prince George’s County, Maryland has been a failure.
  3. The Cincinnati Streetcar will be a failure.

I’ll address those one at a time.

(1.)  It is a fact that transit does attract development.  Historically, all development has been centered on transit.  Cincinnati was founded on the Ohio River which provided us with access for transportation and shipping.  Modern day Cincinnati is heavily oriented around our many highway corridors, also used for transportation and shipping.

Of course, I understand that when most people refer to “transit,” they are speaking of “mass transit,” and specifically, “rail transit.”  But the evidence shows that these attract development as well, and there is actually a specific term for it: transit-oriented development.  It is defined as “higher-density mixed-use development within walking distance of transit stations.”  Ironically, the Wikipedia page for Transit-oriented development features a photo illustrating how Metrorail and the resulting transit-oriented development have shaped Arlington, Virginia.

(2.) I’m not extremely familiar with the Washington Metrorail system and its extensions throughout the years.  However I seriously question COAST’s claim that the Prince George’s County’s routes have been a failure.  Mark Miller claims that none of the expected development around the line has actually happened.  But in fact, the Branch Avenue station is the location of transit-oriented apartment complex called MetroPlace at Town Center, and a proposed 801-unit apartment unit and retail center.

If there has not been an much of an explosion of transit-oriented development as expected, I have a logical explanation why: In that area, Metrorail basically serves as a commuter rail service.  You can see from aerial photos that the stations in question are mostly surrounded by park-and-ride lots, parking garages, and suburban development.  It’s not a surprise that it might take awhile for transit-oriented development to spring up in those areas.

(3.) COAST ends their article with the statement, “They [Prince George’s County] have created a money-pit, and can’t bring themselves to stop digging. Let’s not make the same mistake with a Cincinnati streetcar.”

But I can’t really see how the two systems relate. They’re both rail systems, but they’re very different.  The Metrorail extension serves as a regional rail system that helps connect the suburbs with the city.  The Cincinnati Streetcar is an urban circulator serving the city’s residents and visitors. It’s illogical to say that if the Metrorail doesn’t cause development, the Cincinnati Streetcar won’t cause development. Unlike the Maryland suburbs, many urban neighborhoods in Cincinnati simply can not develop beyond a certain point without modern mass transit.

Perhaps COAST is not trying to create a comparison between Metrorail and the Cincinnati Streetcar.  Perhaps they are just doubting the authenticity of the reports showing the amount of development that will be caused by the Cincinnati Streetcar.  But rather than just saying, “these studies aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on” (Miller), why not tell us what’s wrong with the studies?  If they’re based on inaccurate information or illogical conclusions, point out specifically what those are.

Originally posted to the Explore Cincinnati website (now offline).

Instead, in a misguided effort to appear ‘balanced’, the media gives you the classic false duality:

‘A large number of Americans believe the earth is round. But is it really? Some argue that the earth is flat, and we’ll talk to one such person after these commercials. Back to you, Tom…’

David Cole

Stand Up for the Cincinnati Streetcar, Part II

The arguments being thrown out by Streetcar opponents are getting stupider and stupider. The Cincinnati Beacon just published two absurd stories to scare people away from supporting the Streetcar. The first claimed that streetcars are not capable of making it up the hill on Vine Street between Downtown and Corryville/Uptown — a totally untrue claim. The second described a scenario where “a lunatic with two bottles of motor oil” pours them on the Streetcar tracks, causing “199 terrified passengers to go sliding backwards down the track, totally out of control.”

You can clearly see the absurdity in these statements. Their arguments are getting further away from reality, and they are getting more desperate in their attempts to scare people, while the Streetcar system gets closer to being built.

The Streetcar is a nonpartisan idea, supported by Democrats and Republicans. It’s only being made into a political issue by three organizations opposing it: our local chapters of COAST, the NAACP, and the Green Party. Recent accusations from various media outlets claim that COAST has created an inappropriate political association with the NAACP, and that NAACP president Chris Smitherman is only being motivated by his desire to advance his own political career. Our local NAACP has taken additional criticism lately (from CityBeat, Cincinnati Black Blog, and even the Cincinnati Beacon!) for appointing Chris Finney, a lawyer who has been accused of taking both anti-Black and anti-gay positions in the past, as their attorney.

What can you do to support the Streetcar and help Cincinnati live up to its potential?

    1. If you are a UC student living in the Clifton, Corryville, CUF, or Uptown areas, make sure you are registered to vote at your Cincinnati address. You need to be registered in Cincinnati to vote on the Streetcar and other Cincinnati issues.
    2. Do not sign the petition that will put the anti-Streetcar/anti-rail amendment on this November’s ballot.
    3. If the issue does make it on the ballot this November, vote no to the amendment that is attempting to block the Streetcar and stop any future rail projects from being built in Cincinnati.
    4. Keep up the the latest news on the Streetcar proposal. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the facts yourself and I believe you will support the proposal.