Last Spring, the Bush Administration changed federal regulations, requiring public bus companies to drop out of bidding for large transportation contracts against private companies.
The Kentucky Derby draws a couple of hundred thousand people to Churchill Downs, and a lot of those people park at distant lots and take buses to the track. For as long as anyone can remember, the city bus company, TARC, has provided shuttle service to and from the track. This year, a private company has taken over. The result: there will be fewer buses, the buses will be of lower quality, and the cost to riders will be nearly double what it was one year ago. It's expected that lines to board the buses will be longer, since the private company is using less than half as many buses on the busiest routes. The problem is expected to be particularly acute after the race, when everyone leaves at the same time.
I'm not entirely sure that, 10 years from now, Democrats are going to think having unbridled power was such a great thing. I mean, I think the hacktastic Bill Kristol is nuts to conclude that the departure of Arlen Specter for the other side of the aisle is good for Republicans, but I'm also intensely aware that Democrats are capable of all kinds of nuttiness.
And then there's that broadly applicable rule about absolute power...
Senator Olympia Snowe, one of the last Republican moderates, makes sense:
There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a
majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to
retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket
back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when
we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our
basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.
The party is under the control of the bigoted, angry and small-minded. Its leaders are obvious in their disengagement from reality and utterly lacking in courage. It is a party of fundamentalists -- religious and ideological -- that operates under rules of engagement perfected by Karl Rove, seeking to cater only to its radical base. Until that changes, the party will continue to shrink.
A study at Ohio State University reveals that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to believe that the satirical character played by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report seriously believed what he was saying.
NASA's Swift satellite first spotted the 10-second-long burst on April 23, but could not see any corresponding visible light to match it. This suggested the burst occurred in an early time of the universe some 13 billion years ago, when dense clouds of hydrogen gas completely absorbed visible light, obscuring our view of a time when scientists believe the first stars and galaxies were born.
Subsequent examinations of the gamma-ray burst were taken from two ground-based telescopes located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii: the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and the Gemini North telescope.
Astronomers using these telescopes were able to look at the burst's infrared light afterglow to determine the distance of the explosion based on its redshift, or how much the light's wavelength had stretched towards the red end of the spectrum in response to the expansion of the universe.
Just as the sound of a radio from a car moving away from us sounds stretched out, so too does light shift to a longer wavelength as its source moves farther away. Since the universe is expanding, faraway objects are moving away at a faster rate than those closer to us, and so their redshift is correspondingly higher.
According to this poll, only 21% of voters identify themselves as Republicans. That's down from...well, from pretty much whenever you want to measure going back to 1983.
The polling numbers are comprehensively bad for Republicans. On traditional Republican strong points, President Obama is running up big approval ratings: 71% on Iraq, 62% on terrorism in general, 67% on his handling of international affairs, 56% on taxes. In those areas where Republicans have hit Obama hard, they've scored no points. The President gets 61% approval on his slight softening of Cuba policy, and 54% approval for making conciliatory noises toward Iran.
On the other hand, the antic Republican members of Congress are down eight points after becoming a non-stop bitching machine with no real idea what they'd do if they were in charge. (Remember the Republican budget alternative that contained no numbers?) Of those polled, 78% have little or no confidence in the ability of Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions for the country's future.
Conservatives with any sense are declaring themselves independent, leaving the
Republican Party a bastion of idea-free, angry radicalism. There's no one left to speak for the party except the far-right fringe; most of what people see and hear of Republicans is, by definition, immoderate and scary. The true believers who remain are disinclined to do anything but remain ideologically pure, even when that purity makes no sense.
The Republican brand, so popular a topic of conversation just a few months ago, has been successfully re-defined: they're a party of unpleasant whiners. One of President Reagan's great strength was his attractive magnanimity; he compromised freely, didn't sweat the small stuff, and retained his geniality while always inching the ball forward. In contrast, today's Republican Party is dug-in and nearly Maoist in their repetition of ideology. They scream bloody murder about anything the President does or says, the volume turned up high no matter how insignificant the complaint. They compromise on nothing and are insistent that the answers to all our problems are more of exactly what people rejected at the polls last fall.
Republicans aren't going to manage any kid of comeback until they calm down and come up with some positive solutions. For now, they're apparently operating under the same assumption as Democrats during the Reagan Administration, that people support the President because they're ignorant dupes. That's a tough message to sell to voters, and until Republicans come up with something better, they're headed nowhere but down.