Friday, September 5, 2008

Time to engage the BS meter

Spin, distortion, misrepresentation and, in some cases, outright lies will fill the airwaves for the next two months. You can count on it.

With the conventions of both political parties over and the race for the presidency in full swing, the challenge of sorting out truth from fiction falls squarely on the shoulders of voters.

Calling this an emotionally charged election is pretty much an understatement.

The general mood of the American people isn’t a happy one. Pick your issue and you’ll find someone not happy about it: the economy, the war(s), education, healthcare, etc.

We have history being made by both parties: a black on the Democratic ticket and a woman running for the Republicans.

Face it, there’s a lot riding on the November election. And you can bet it’s going to be game on in the meantime.

Everyone has the agenda of painting their candidate in the best possible light. “Rhetoric” will be spouted by politicos – everyone from candidates, to staff, to so-called hired gun analysts – which doesn’t make our jobs as voters any easier. Commercials will evoke emotions. Columnists and special interest groups will attempt to sway you.

So how do you find out what the facts really are?

The best thing is to actually stay up on your elected officials all the time, to know how they’re voting. But, if you’re playing catch-up right now and can’t research thousands of past votes, all is not lost.

A few handy one-stop Web sites can be a great resource for getting to the bottom of things.

Factcheck.org and PolitiFact.com, for example, are nonpartisan. One is a watchdog group; the other is a couple of media outlets that have teamed up.

If you have more, please add them on the comments. The more resources we have, the better informed as voters we can all be.

The bottom line is, it is so important to make sure you’re voting for the candidates that best represent your positions on the critical issues. Taking a few minutes here and there to check out these sites – and hopefully others you all add – will be time well spent.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mary Peters paints a truck-free picture

It’s difficult to imagine a world without trucks. That is, unless you’re with the DOT.

Solutions offered by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to some of the nation’s most challenging transportation problems do not bode well for truckers.

Here’s the proof.

Peters recently announced a plan for reform that would consolidate 108 DOT programs into eight programs with priority given to congestion relief, tolling and public-private partnerships.

The DOT provided a glimpse at what the future could hold with stylish “before” and “after” shots posted on the Web.

Click here to check out the current state of highways “without reform.” Notice the typical gridlock.

Now click here to see what the highways are supposed to look like “with reform” under the Peters plan. Notice a wide open highway with only five vehicles on it.

None of these vehicles are trucks.

During a transportation hearing earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, asked Peters if the administration’s call for more congestion tolling was geared to price everyone off the roadways except for the occasional Lexus.

Judging by her suggested reforms, the answer is pretty clear.