Over at Grist, Jonathan Hiskes writes:
Two weeks ago, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table and told a group of bike advocates that federal transportation planners were finished raising the almighty auto above cyclists and walkers.
"I’ve been all over America, and where I’ve been in America I’ve been very proud to talk about the fact that people do want alternatives," he said. "They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in livable neighborhoods and livable communities ... You've got a partner in Ray LaHood."
He followed up on his blog: "Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."
This is great stuff, particularly from a 65-year-old Republican from downstate Illinois who was never expected to be one of the Obama cabinet stars. Progressive transportation advocates were clearly underwhelmed when Obama chose him. But when I watched him announce a new Smart Growth partnership with top EPA and HUD officials in Seattle last month, he fit right in with the sustainable-urbanism types there. Seemed to be making friends.
And now he’s making enemies.
A National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) advisor, speaking for grownup business people everywhere, bashed the new policy: "Treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe."
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) complained that a bike lane never created a job.
Matthew DeBord at The Big Money, in a cynical take on the tabletop speech, essentially said the hell with trying to improve this country: "A more over-the-top example of shameless pandering you won’t find anywhere in the halls of our current government. The transportation system of the United States is set up to accommodate one thing and one thing only: the automobile. I’m not going to say whether that’s good or bad. It just is. We can talk all we want about light rail and urban mass-transit and even flying cars and jetpacks—when push comes to shove, we’re Americans and we drive."
• • • • •
At Daily Kos on this date in 2004:
Last week, [Bill] Frist's ridiculous attempts to discredit [Richard] Clarke included an amazing demand that Clarke's previous testimony be declassified to search for inconsistencies. Nothing like playing politics with classified information to discredit an opponent. Exactly the sort of thinking that brought us the Plame Affair.
Nevermind that Frist had no evidence that Clarke had perjured himself. Nevermind that all Frist had to do to get that information declassified was call his buddies in the White House. He smeared Clarke by insinuating inconsistencies, knowing full well that no one could verify the consistency of Clarke's testimony. All the while confirming that to this administration, "classified intelligence" is merely a means to a political end, whether it be discrediting critics or justifiying a bogus war.