The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal
Friday, November 19, 2004
WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO SHOULD QUIT WHILE WE’RE AHEAD! Part 2
Home of So Few Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing
Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds. Einstein
IMPORTANT NOTE: FOC's ("Friends of the Cabal") (you know, like "FOB's"--"Friends of Bill" [Clinton]) have now all been promoted to "Adjuct Scholars" of The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. You know, like Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, et al are "Adjunct Scholars" (sic) to the Reason Foundation, the Buckeye Institute, the Cascade Policy Institute, and 500+ other conservative/libertarian "Think (sic) Tanks". Congratulations, Dudes!
From the Cabalmaster:
[aka “RANDAL O’TOOLE IS OUT IN THE WOODS – AGAIN!”] PART 2:
We’ll start off with a “dig” at one of our favorite targets for riposte and ridicule:
HAS RANDAL O’TOOLE GOTTEN BASHFUL ???
We couldn’t help noticing that an Independence Institute page that formerly contained an image of O’Toole no longer does.
Hmmm . . .
This is the same page (www.independent.org/events/detail.asp?eventID=15) that we mentioned last time.
Ya don’t think . . .
Nah. Sounds unlikely that O’Toole would remove, or request removal, of the photo in question. Anyone who wants to find an online image of Randal need only do a Google image search (images.google.com/images?q=Randal+O%27Toole&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search). But stranger things have been known to happen online.
Now that we’ve gotten that over with . . .
Continuing our coverage of the latest –
– AND UNSUCCESSFUL!!! –
– Quixotic campaign by Randal O’Toole and Denver’s Remulac . . . er, Libertarian . . . faction against public transit in general, and rail transit in particular:
A study by Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments recommended 119 miles of new “rapid transit” (commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit), purchase of land to permit relocation of freight trains away from residential areas, bus service expansion, doubling of park-and-ride capacity, and development of Union Station as an intermodal hub. The local share of financing would be raised by a sales tax increase of 0.4 percent. The plan, dubbed “FasTracks” (www.fastracks.org; see www.rtd-denver.com for plan details) was approved unanimously by the RTD Board and, on November 2, 2004, won an overall “yes” vote of 57 PERCENT (!!) in the eight-county RTD district.
(Can any of you out there in cyberland imagine Randal O’Toole letting something like FasTracks pass without comment?
(NOT BY THE HAIRS ON HIS CHINNY-CHIN CHIN!
(Instead . . .
(HE HUFFED, AND HE PUFFED . . .
AND HE HUFFED, AND HE PUFFED . . .
(JUST WHAT YOU’D EXPECT
FROM A STEAM TRAIN BUFF*!
(But Denver-area voters evidently paid little attention to all the hissing and snorting.
(* “Alleged” steam train buff”: You will probably not be surprised to read that good ol’ Randal has failed to respond to an earlier post – with newspaper citation www.tri-cityherald.com/news/2002/1023/Story1.html. Online evidence suggests that O’Toole is in fact a “steam train buff.” Check out this page: www.sps700.org/gall0210mont_part5.html, scroll to the very bottom, and note the photo captioned “Randal O'Toole (wearing white cap)- selling books dawn til' dusk.” The face is a bit blurry . . . but the beard is unmistakable!! www.independent.org/tii/forums/011003ipf2.html And remember: you saw it first on our blog!!!)
(If you try razzing Randal about the outcome of the “FasTracks” vote, you might hear something like: www.barbneal.com/wav/ltunes/Bugs/Bugs53.wav.)
Pausing with the cheap shots for a moment . . .
(. . . but only for a moment . . .
(. . . after all, our various attempts at riposte and ridicule are what bring you back to our blog, over and over again . . .
(. . . c’mon, admit it! That’s you like our blog!!)
Denver’s RTD is unusual in the USA because it has a directly elected board. Perhaps not by coincidence, transit issues tend to get mired in politics. Another curious characteristic: because the RTD board is “non-partisan,” political parties may not field candidates and so vigorous contests for RTD board seats are uncommon. During the ‘90s, a Conehead – er, Libertarian – faction got itself elected to the RTD board (the “Libs” downplayed their ideology before the election). They attempted to terminate light rail development, but failed. Instead, Denver-area voters resoundingly rejected the Libertarian approach to urban transportation – and the “Libs” themselves.
Star of the debacle outlined above – although he’ll claim it was a “victory” – is Jon Caldara, former RTD board chair, current talk show host (www.850koa.com/shows/caldara.html) television producer (i2i.org/independentthinking.aspx) and president of the Independence Institute i2i.org, a “free-market” (= “Libertarian”) think tank based in Golden, CO.
In 2001, the alternative weekly “Westword” named Caldara as Denver’s “Best Media Manipulator” www.westword.com/issues/2001-03-29/bestpeople59.html. Caldara, an ornery cuss, does not downplay this reputation, nor that for his “in your face” style.” He’s also a shameless publicity hound who cultivates as much attention as he can get. “Independent Thinking,” the Independence Institute’s weekly TV talk-a-thon, “features lively, and sometimes nasty, debates between elected officials, journalists, activists, concerned citizens, top experts and a cranky conservative host” i2i.org/independentthinking.aspx - none other than (taa daa!) Jon Caldara.
Caldara claims credit for leading the effort to defeat an earlier transportation plan, “Guide the Ride,” in 1997. This proposed a sales tax increase of 0.6 percent, in contrast to the 0.4 percent increase approved by voters for “FasTracks.” Early polls showed strong support for “Guide the Ride” – 73 percent – but this fell to 42 percent by the time of the “poll” that counts – the one on Election Day.
(Caldara would probably prefer that you not know that he, and the Independence Institute, were just part of part of the broad-based opposition generated by “Guide the Ride.”)
Things were different in 2004 . . .
(Try razzing Caldara about the outcome of the “FasTracks” vote, and you might hear something like: www.barbneal.com/wav/ltunes/Bugs/Bugs11.wav.)
Caldara tried his best to ignore early signs that “FasTracks” was attracting strong public support (a poll published at the end of April 2004 found that 69 percent of likely voters supported “FasTracks” www.polstate.com/archives/005471.html). Even before these poll results were released, Caldara started gearing up for yet another bare-knuckles campaign against yet another transit measure -- working in concert with his “bearded buddy Maynard,” none other than Randal O’Toole.
Y’know, sometimes it’s hard to tell just who plays “bearded buddy Maynard” to whom:
www.ejrc.cau.edu/martapressjune16.htm (scroll down to bottom)
www.volpe.dot.gov/ourwork/ntlexprts.html (scroll down; third from bottom)
But in this case, the “bearded buddy” description is quite appropriate. Caldara, you see, provides Denver-area lodging for the hirsute O’Toole, in his basement. No, no, no, a thousand times notm, we are not [the ones] making this up! (www.rmpn.org/weblog/archives/issues/Transportation/index.cfm; scroll down).
(See www.freecolorado.com/2004/10/failrail.html for a veritable “rogues gallery” of various and sundry “SAPstm” (scroll down), including Dennis “Ozone” Polhill, Caldara and, of course, Randal.)
And so: Randal O’Toole (Jon Caldara’s “bearded buddy Maynard”) released in February 2004 his piece de la resistance (sic): a 45-page screed titled “Great Rail Disasters” www.ti.prg/1-2004.pdf.
The key point (. . . in fact, just about the only discernible point . . . ) of “Great Rail Disasters” may be summed up as follows:
STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT!
Ah, Randal, Randal, Randal,
Ya let us down once more!
Your sycophants may grovel,
But there’s naught that’s new or novel!
The whole thing’s just a bore,
So excuse us while we snore!
As Your Favorite Transit Pundits have noted in previous posts, we’re a TRANSIT cabal, not a RAIL cabal. We tend to support rail transit because it can provide high-quality alternatives to private autos. But rail costs big bucks to build. So it’s perfectly legitimate to ask, through honest inquiry, honest research and honest debate, whether benefits outweigh costs.
The key word here is “honest.”
Certain “SAPpytm” individuals (. . . such as “The Bearded Blowhard of Bandon,” aka “Baron von Bluster” . . .), who can’t stand the “’r’ word” for reasons of ideology or (gasp!) self-interest, resort to all sorts of distortion and deception.
“Great Rail Disasters” is a special kind of deception: self-deception - by the author (Randal) and his sycophants (like, well, you know, Mr. Fudge). They try their best to pretend otherwise . . . and they’ll try their best to convince you to do the same . . . but the report contains nothing new. It’s just a long and windy rehash of a timeworn slogan:
STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT!
(. . . Long and windy?
(Perish the thought!!!! . . .)
Opinionated though he is, O’Toole is no fool. We really WERE expecting something MORE (!), and something NEW (!!), but:
STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT!
That’s about all you’ll find in “Great Rail Disasters.”
Opinionated though he is, O’Toole is no fool . . .
. . . but, among other things, Randal’s a shameless self-promoter and publicity hound. Intrepid Websurfers wanting to garner loads of free publicity might try the following: pound out a variation on the “theme” that looks at least plausible upon superficial once-over and post it online. We guarantee: you will get lots and lots of free publicity.
STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT!
(In case you were wondering what “theme” to which we referred . . .)
Randal’s latest effort – although it contained errors that he scrambled to fix – fits the description above:
A “variation on the ‘theme’ that at looks at least plausible upon superficial once-over.”
As such, it was disseminated far and wide by various and sundry anti-rail foamers, notably the Conehead Contingent . . . er, all those Libertarian “think tanks.” These are perhaps better described as “’Lib-Crib’ Clubs,” given the degree to which they reproduce each other’s work almost verbatim. We Opinionated Ones take pride in our “originality,” but some of the “Cohorts in ‘Lib-Crib’” don’t seem to know the meaning of the word “originality.”
We’ll digress briefly to an issue at least as relevant as content . . . and a bit more brief:
(Ahem . . .)
WHO PICKED UP THE TAB FOR “GREAT RAIL DISASTERS?”
Your Favorite Transit Pundits do not think for a nanosecond that Randal O’Toole, shameless self-promoter and tireless book salesman (. . . for his own works . . .), wrote this tome on a “pro bono” basis.
We believe this “research” (so to speak) was funded through the network of Conehead “’Lib-Crib’ Clubs” . . . er, Libertarian “think tanks.” Another blog (“Rocky Mountain Progressive Network,” www.rmpn.org/weblog/archives3/permalink/000988.cfm suggests that O’Toole’s “research” was financed by the Coors family (whose members fund various conservative causes; the late Joseph Coors provided a $250,000 grant in 1972 to the fledgling Heritage Foundation; Peter Coors lost his November 2004 bid for the U.S. Senate www.beverageworld.com/beverageworld/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000708178).
(We’ll bet that Randal’s response to the “FasTracks” vote went something like this: www.barbneal.com/wav/ltunes/Bugs/Bugs46.wav.)
We’ll continue our coverage in a following post.
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