[snip] Unclear on the concept. Christopher Hayes spent seven weeks in Wisconsin this fall talking face-to-face with undecided voters. It’s a myth, he writes in the New Republic (online November 17), that they were conflicted about the issues. “Occasionally I did encounter undecided voters who were genuinely cross-pressured–a couple who was fiercely pro-life, antiwar, and pro-environment for example–but such cases were exceedingly rare. More often than not, when I asked undecided voters what issues they would pay attention to as they made up their minds I was met with a blank stare, as if I’d just asked them to name their favorite prime number.”

[snip] The important thing is that whoever still works there will tell the president whatever he wants to hear. One of ten examples of intelligence failures CIA veteran Michael Scheuer submitted to the House and Senate intelligence committees: “In the CIA’s core, U.S.-based Bin Laden operational unit today there are fewer Directorate of Operations officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than there were on 11 September 2001. There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September” (Atlantic Monthly, December).

[snip] Mobility is a government product, according to Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, in a September 3 press release. “Americans travel chiefly by car and airplane because the federal government has provided state governments with highway funding assistance since 1919 and has provided cities and counties with airport funds since 1946. What we need now is a comparable program for passenger-rail service. We need to stop treating passenger-train travel as a business and start treating it as a federal transportation program. That’s been the American way to create mobility for more than 80 years.”