NJ Governor Chris Christie (Mr. GW Bridge) endorses Donald Trump for president

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Friday, the latest sign that Republicans are beginning to accept the idea that the real estate magnate may win the party’s nomination.

“I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States,” Christie said at a news conference alongside the businessman, explaining that he has been friends with Trump for over a decade. “I absolutely appreciate him as a person and as a friend.”

But the endorsement extended beyond the personal, and Christie said he believed that “there is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs, both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump.”

Among the field of GOP candidates — which also includes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and retired doctor Ben Carson — Trump is “the clear standout, and the person who will do exactly what needs to be done to make America a leader around the world again,” Christie said.

In fact, Christie said establishment favorite Rubio is “desperate” and that his attacks on Trump during Thursday’s debate would not succeed: “Nobody is going to get inside this guy’s head,” Christie said of his presidential pick.

“He’ll provide strong, unequivocal leadership, he will do what needs to be done to protect the American people first and foremost, both in the homeland and in creating jobs for this country, and he will make sure that people around the world know that America keeps its word again,” Christie said of his one-time competitor. “Donald Trump is someone, who when he makes a promise, he keeps it.”

Christie added that Trump is the candidate Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton fear the most: “They do not know the playbook with Donald Trump because he is rewriting the playbook.”

“He is rewriting the playbook of American politics because he’s providing strong leadership that’s not dependent upon the status quo,” he added.

As many of you know, I do not usually comment on Mr. Trump. This is because of a really old friendship with friend known to me as Ivana Czechoslovakia.

Note: Bernie would beat him into the ground.

Hillary Clinton’s Firewall Does Not Go West or North

Despite the corporate media’s desire for the so-called “Clinton firewall” to stop the political revolution, they will be disappointed to find out that the Northeast, Midwest, and West are not protected from the bern.

The media keeps telling us that after winning South Carolina, Hillary Clinton will dominate Super Tuesday and that will make her the nominee. Not so fast. First of all, Bernie Sanders can do well on Super Tuesday even if Hillary Clinton dominates the southern states. The last time I checked, Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, and Oklahoma were not southern states. That is 5 out of the 11 Super Tuesday states.

So what is Bernie’s path to victory after that? Bernie is leading in Massachusetts, so I would think that Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and that big state just to the south of New England where Bernie was born and raised are all winnable for Bernie. Oh, and I don’t think people in those states follow the trends of the South – they pride themselves on being more progressive.

Now let’s move to the mid-Atlantic: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware – and based on some polling let’s move West Virginia and North Carolina out of the South. Bernie has a big lead in the polls in West Virginia, and I believe he can win in North Carolina. Let’s remember Bernie has the white blue-collar vote that gave Clinton Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia in ’08. If he pulls off those three states to add to New York, then Bernie is in great shape, not to mention that Nate Silver thinks Sanders will dominate the West. Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and New Mexico are states where he could beat Clinton.

Let’s even say there is a split in the Midwest and the breadbasket. What if the race went to California dead even? Bernie can win the biggest prize and have a strong argument to the superdelegates that he, not Hillary Clinton, is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in November.

Let’s look at the day California holds its primary, June 7th. It might be the most important day of this whole process.

Data covering primary results for 2016. (photo: Reader Supported News)

Data covering primary results for 2016. (photo: Reader Supported News)

The Dakotas, Montana, and New Mexico are states Sanders should do well in. The fight will be for those 601 delegates that California and New Jersey have. I do not see Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders in the Bay Area. San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Oakland are ready for the revolution. There is a substantial enough progressive community in Southern California to keep Clinton from dominating there like Sanders will in the Bay Area. They don’t call it the Left Coast for nothing – Bernie can win California. Add that to New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and may other states and you can see a clear path to victory.

Even without damaging Hillary’s firewall in the South, Bernie Sanders can win the Democratic Party nomination. Before you pounce, I am not saying he will win all of those states, but he can win all of those states, so he has a path to victory even if he loses the South.

The first time the Blue Dogs tried to nominate a candidate with a Super Tuesday in the South was in 1988. The Clintons were very involved in the Democratic Leadership Council, whose goal was to nominate a southerner to take back the White House. A progressive candidate from Chicago ruined their day, Jesse Jackson won more delegates on Super Tuesday than anyone else, leaving the door open for Michael Dukakis. The DLC would have to wait four years for Bill Clinton to achieve their goal.

This time I think the southern strategy is flawed. The Sanders campaign has not conceded the South but they are forging a path to the nomination that doesn’t need the South. Pssst … guess what, it’s working. The latest Reuters tracking poll has Bernie up 6 points nationally, and has had Bernie in the lead nationally most of the month.

More troubling for Clinton in the Reuters poll than being down 6 points is she is down to 35% support in the poll. Not a number that can win the nomination in a two-candidate field.

Polling guru Nate Silver, in an article, “Bernie Sanders’s Path to the Nomination,” used models that were based on Clinton being up 12 nationally or tied with Sanders. I wonder what his formula would show with Sanders up 6 nationally?

As much as the media and Democratic Party establishment want you to believe it will all be over next Tuesday, it’s only wishful thinking. Just like in 2008, not only will Hillary Clinton’s opponent still be standing after Super Tuesday, he will be in a stronger position than she will. The wind is still at Bernie’s back.

Why Hillary Clinton’s Black Supporters Should Feel the Bern

South Carolina is upon us. Hillary thinks she will win. If Black voters wake up, she will have to rely on “Super Delegates” to win the nomination.

The African-American vote is always critical for Democrats. In 2008 and 2012, Black voters turned out in historic numbers for President Obama. And with this year’s primary contest closer than anyone anticipated, the focus has turned even more intently to Black voters. This is especially true for Hillary Clinton, who needs a big Black turnout to defeat Bernie Sanders. The question is: Will she get it?

So far, Clinton still remains more popular with Black voters than Sanders but not because she is the better candidate when it comes to taking on racism and injustice. Clinton benefits from her longevity in the public eye—as first lady, senator and secretary of state—and from the mythology that she and former president Bill Clinton are friends of Black people. The Clintons, the media, and the Black political establishment have worked hard to create a narrative of the Clinton era as one of Black progress. It is a narrative that is undeserved and, until recently, has gone largely unchallenged.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign likes to describe Sanders as a newcomer to the struggle for civil rights, implying that she has much deeper roots. Whatever her involvement with civil rights organizations, the destructiveness of Bill Clinton’s policies on the lives of African Americans—many of which were enthusiastically championed by Hillary—remains unparalleled. Recently a number of well-known Black activists and writers have begun exposing the actual legacy of the Clintons in the 1990s. The Clintons helped whip up an atmosphere of hysteria surrounding crime that created the pretext for draconian legislation that dramatically expanded the powers of the criminal justice system. It is well known now that by the end of the Clinton era, the incarceration rate of Black men had tripled, but what is less understood is how the law-and-order hysteria directed at Black men ushered in the era of racial profiling and stop-and-frisk police practices.

In 1998, major class action lawsuits in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida highlighted the extent to which African Americans were subjected to unwarranted suspicion and harassment on the nation’s interstates. That same year the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of several Black motorists who complained of racially-motivated traffic stops on Interstate 95. This growing activism and legal action against “driving while black” was punctuated by the police killing of unarmed, Black immigrant Amadou Diallo in February of 1999. Diallo was shot at 41 times and struck with 19 bullets while standing by the front door of his apartment building. The campaign of criminalizing Black skin intensified under the Clinton regime in ways that we are only beginning to grasp today.

Bill and Hillary also championed anti-social welfare policies that hinged on thinly-veiled racial stereotypes of Black women as “welfare cheats.” I will never forget the celebration of Clinton’s anti-welfare bill in the White House Rose Garden in 1996. There he sat, flanked by two Black women who had received public assistance while signing the bill into law. Few at the time knew that, of course, the vast majority of welfare recipients at the time were white women.

Perhaps the most insidious legacy of that era is how the Clintons, and the Democratic Party in general, doubled down on notions of “culture” and lapsed “personal responsibility” to explain the material differences between Blacks and whites. Indeed, Clinton’s welfare repeal law was called the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.” Years earlier, after the Los Angeles rebellion in 1992, then-candidate Bill Cinton traveled to South Central L.A. and diagnosed the roots of the crisis. He said, “People … are looting because they are not part of the system at all anymore,” Clinton said. “They do not share our values, and their children are growing up in a culture alien from ours, without family, without neighborhood, without church, without support.” These comments foreshadowed the Clinton Administration’s approach to race politics.

Hillary Clinton, of course, cannot be solely held to account for the crimes of her husband, unless she chooses to wrap herself in what she considers to be a successful aspect of his presidential tenure. But she cannot have it both ways—embracing the positive while distancing herself from the destructive.

Between the Clintons’ thirst for a racist law-and-order political agenda and their simultaneous invocation of racist stereotypes to undermine public support for social welfare policies, it is not a stretch to say that the Black Lives Matter movement is, at least in part, a reaction to the failed and utterly destructive policies and politics of the Clinton era that ended a mere 14 years before its emergence.

Given this history, I was underwhelmed last week when Hillary Clinton unveiled her carefully crafted yet still strategically vague speech on race in Harlem. Clinton went to great lengths to describe her battle plan to combat “systemic racism.” Describing aspects of racial inequality in the U.S., she said, “We still need to face the painful reality that African-Americans are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage.” And she went on to say, “Something’s wrong when the median wealth for black families is just a tiny fraction of the median wealth of white families.”

This is, of course, very true and indicative of the persistence of racism in the U.S., but what is Clinton’s plan to eradicate this racial inequality? Clinton has pledged an anemic $125 billion to “economically revitalize” urban and rural African-American enclaves throughout the country. Given our crumbling urban infrastructure, from deteriorating schools to ancient water main pipes, $125 billion is a paltry sum. And it’s a fraction of what the banks received when the government bailed them out.

But just as important is how Clinton says she wants to use those funds. In declaring support for job training and education, re-entry for the formerly incarcerated, and low-income homeownership, she describes Blacks as having been “left behind.” Indeed, on her website, the plan is referred to as the “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda: Revitalizing the Economy in Communities Left Behind.” This passive characterization of Black poverty and structurally deteriorating communities diminishes how larger, systemic economic changes combine with racial discrimination to exclude poor and working class African Americans from good jobs, schools and housing. All the job training in the world cannot change how Black college graduates experience almost three times the unemployment rate of their white peers. That is not the result of being “left behind”—that is job discrimination.

Moreover, it is telling that while Clinton cites mortgage discrimination in her examples of racial inequality, she says next to nothing about how she will combat bias in the banking and financing sector. Will she champion robust enforcement of current anti-discrimination policies against the banks? Will she support steep punishments against banks for resurrecting redlining practices? And what exactly is her plan for ending poverty in working class Black communities? Clinton is opposed to a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. Is it enough to simply call for “more jobs” without clarifying what kind of jobs and whether they will offer a living wage and benefits?

Instead of providing concrete details on how a Hillary Clinton administration would confront racism and discrimination in the job market, Clinton has instead cynically attacked Bernie Sanders for being too focused on economic issues.

Comparatively, the Sanders campaign is a breath of fresh air and an affront to the status quo. Although Sanders’ popularity has seemed to come out of nowhere, in many ways it is an outgrowth of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement. By highlighting the economic inequality at the heart of American society, Sanders has tapped into the growing anger and resentment of policies that have favored the rich and elite for decades now. He has clearly positioned himself as the candidate of the 99 percent vowing to break up the big banks, but also championing a broader social platform of universal healthcare, free college tuition and other programs intended to redistribute wealth from the one percent to the vast majority of the population.

In the same way that the Occupy phenomenon was dismissed as a “white movement,” there have been similar complaints about the Sanders campaign. While it’s fair to say that Sanders has been almost exclusively focused on economic inequality, it is a significant leap to conclude that Black voters must feel alienated by that focus.

This argument vastly underestimates the ways that economic inequality radiates throughout the lives of African Americans. This is, perhaps, why Black people were so supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the first place. Despite efforts to mischaracterize Occupy as “white,” one poll found that 45 percent of Blacks thought favorably of the anti-Wall Street protests, compared to 32 percent of the rest of Americans.

Black voters are very concerned with racial justice and policing, for example, but those issues cannot be neatly separated from concerns regarding the economic health of their communities. In fact, the absence of good paying jobs and other resources in Black communities directly contribute to higher crime rates that serve as a pretext for the over-policing of Black communities.

But African Americans not only suffer from racial oppression, they are overwhelmingly oppressed as working and poor people. Twenty-six percent of the 46 million poor people in the United States are African American. A shocking 55 percent of Black workers make less than $15 an hour. So please don’t tell me that Black people are not interested in economic issues.

Bernie Sanders does face a major challenge. He is running as a Democrat, and thus must bear the weight of a party that has been directly responsible for the corruption and money that taints all of mainstream politics. Sanders’ campaign may raise expectations among African Americans, and it may even continue to force Clinton to reluctantly tack to the left, but it is nearly impossible to believe that the Democratic Party would spearhead (or Congress would ever pass) a Sanders agenda. This is what Clinton means when she promotes herself as a pragmatist while chastising Sanders for making promises he cannot keep.

Yet I welcome the Sanders campaign and its dogged focus on the growing economic inequality in the U.S. His popularity reflects the anger of the growing number of people left out of American affluence. If Sanders’ candidacy ultimately does not resonate with Black voters, it won’t be because they don’t care about economic issues. It may have more to do with repeated efforts to discredit Sanders’ sincerity on combatting racial discrimination combined with the strategic amnesia concerning the Clintons’ record with African Americans.

FRA’s regional plan to include Ohio-to-Chicago passenger-rail corridor

The Ohio-to-Chicago passenger-rail corridor will be part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) regional rail plan for the Midwest, two passenger-rail advocacy organizations announced last week.

Last month, the FRA announced it would commit about $2.8 million toward two regional rail planning projects: the Midwest and Southeast. The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) recently received preliminary notification that its November 2014 application to the FRA for a multi-state planning project had been chosen as one of the two planning efforts, the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) and All Aboard Ohio advocacy groups announced last week on their websites.

The MIPRC submitted its application in response to the FRA’s request for statements of interest in a federally led regional planning process. The commission applied for passenger-rail planning on behalf of several states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

MIPRC received more than 90 letters of support, including from participating departments of transportation, cities and counties, MPOs, freight railroads elected officials, unions, universities and other advocacy groups, according to NIPRA.

The FRA will use the funds to engage stakeholders in both regions in forming comprehensive regional governance organizations to sustain current planning, and develop a long-term passenger-rail vision for their respective regions, according to the NIPRA website.

Delaware & Hudson Passenger Train Demise

Albany-Binghamton died in 1962 or 63, the commuter trains to Altamont and Saratoga went just about that same time.To be more exact: Trains 250/208 Binghamton – Albany & return came off in January 1963. My September 1930 Susquehanna Division Employes’ Time Table shows no dedicated Altamont commuter service, and no convenient times to and from Albany for commuters on Binghamton trains. Saratoga commuter trains 5 and 40 came off ca. 1960.

The D&H was down to two Montreal trains when 205 and 208 were discontinued in 1963. There had been discussion of substituting Budd RDCs for the Laurentian in that time period also, but I’ve never heard a reliable source on how far that got, or what that would have meant for the night train. (discontinuance, presumably?)

John Hiltz proposed to the NYPSC to substitute Budd RDC’s for conventional equipment on 34 and 35, The Laurentian, ca 1964 but the PSC objected and the issue was not pushed. I don’t recall the night trains, 9 and 10, being an issue at the time.

A little background. Passenger traffic soared in the summer of 1967 during Expo 67 in Montreal. No. 9, the Montreal Limited, had three units (RS-2’s) and 23 cars on Friday night, July 1, 1967. Most were NYC sleepers. The D&H leased coaches from EL and Reading to handle the load, but only used the same passenger RS-2’s. In the middle of that, No. 9 ran into the side of RO-2 at BM Cabin, and the 4024 and 4025 were destroyed. And Buck Dumaine became President of The D&H.

Buck first restored dining cars to 34 & 35, leasing two from the New Haven. He wanted to upgrade the service and grow the business. It was a fairly economical move, because the D&H dining service employees were protected by their labor agreement, and were working various jobs in the Headquarters building, including elevator operators, etc.

With the 4024 and 4025 gone, and most of the existing passenger car fleet in need of serious overhaul, it was a wise decision to upgrade the fleet with some good used locomotives and cars. That took the form of the four PA’s from the Santa Fe, and the 12 cars from the Rio Grande. I was told by good authority that the four PA’s cost $135,000 for the lot, and the Rio Grande cars totaled $120,000. That was almost certainly less money than an overhaul of the car fleet, and it took care of replacing the 4024 and 4025.

I can remember several months early in 1967 when both Montreal trains were covered by two RS-2’s, the 4005 and 4009. One went north on 35 and returned the same night on 10, and other went north on 9 and returned on 34. The only time they missed a turn was for their monthly inspections at Colonie. Two other passenger units were assigned as yard engines at Whitehall and Rouses Point to protect the passenger service.

The PA’s went into D&H service at the end of 1967, after Expo was done.. The first unit, I forget which, arrived at Plattsburgh on the Sunday night after Christmas, I believe. The major problem with the PA’s came up later in the winter, when we learned the hard way that one PA could not heat six cars on No. 9 when the temperature reached minus 20 F.

On the north end, the passenger locals (common reference: “Milk Trains” ) came off in 1963,

 

Movie Review: A Trip To Unicorn Island

Great vibes

Hey guys! I’m back after a bit, hope y’all are having a great day!

YES. You read that correctly.

I’m gonna review Lilly Singh’s ‘A Trip To Unicorn Island’.

First, some background. This is a documentary, feature length film produced by Astronauts Wanted detailing Lilly Singh’s ‘worldwide’ (we’ll talk about that) tour. It premiered on the 10th of February, and it is available for purchase on YouTube Red in the US, Google Play elsewhere (in 103 countries).

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