Tweet of the Day, Next Time, @SpeakerBoehner, Call It ‘A Clown Question, Bro.’

[UPDATE: Video of the exchange is up.  The full version is actually even more entertaining. And note that the Speaker was exasperated enough to not wait for the reporter to actually finish asking that particular clown question before he laid down the smackdown.]

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question? Listen, you know they started this yesterday, ‘it’s all about funding, it’s all about funding.’ Well, obviously it’s not about funding. The train was going twice the speed limit. Adequate funds were there. No money’s been cut from rail safety, and the House passed a bill earlier this spring to reauthorize Amtrak and authorize a lot of these programs. And it’s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here.”

Continue reading Tweet of the Day, Next Time, @SpeakerBoehner, Call It ‘A Clown Question, Bro.’

The Amtrak crash was because of human error.

I say this as the son and grandson of good railroad men. If you have been trying to argue that this crash was do to some mythical infrastructure negligence by the GOP, then sit down and shut up, fool. The speed limits are there for a reason:

An Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night had been going at least 100 mph before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board announced on Wednesday– more than twice the legal speed limit.

Sources familiar with the investigation of the crash told The Wall Street Journal that the train hit a sharp curve and failed to slow down. As NBC News reported, the speed limit on the curve itself was 50 mph, while the limit on the track preceding the curve was 70 mph — still far below the train’s apparent speed.

Continue reading The Amtrak crash was because of human error.

Chuckie Schumer’s Do Not Ride Amtrak plan.

I have a very quick question for Sen Chuck Schumer regarding his desire to create a list of people who are not allowed to go on Amtrak… no, really: the Senator from NY apparently got a little scared by reports that al-Qaeda was thinking about debating about targeting American rail lines.  There’s no real indication that there’s an active terrorist plot to do that – not malignantly sexy enough, apparently – but, well, Democratic politicians panic easily.

Anyway, let’s set the scenario: I am in the Newark-Penn Station train station located in New Jersey.  I wish to take an Amtrak train to the Trenton, New Jersey train station*. Please note that both locations are fully within the confines of one state: please also note that Amtrak tickets may be purchased with cash, which traditionally does not require providing ID.  So here’s my question: under what authority is Congress allowed to either restrict or regulate my intrastate transportation? Please be specific, including the underlying Constitutional clause.

No, I’m being perfectly serious.  Do-not-fly lists cover international flights, not national ones; if the need to regulate the latter ever came up, you could possibly stretch the Commerce Clause to fit (we do it for everything else involving interstate activities, apparently).  But even then, the default domestic flight crosses state lines, except in the very largest states; Amtrak provides services to people who travel inside states, and I’d like to know precisely where the federal government would derive its authority to regulate such activity.  Continue reading Chuckie Schumer’s Do Not Ride Amtrak plan.

#rsrh Reality has defeated me.

If I understand this story correctly, the Amtrak station in Wilmington renamed for the Vice President (and Stimulus Czar) was not only an over-budget stimulus project; its dedication ceremony was complicated by the CEO’s inability to get to the soiree via Amtrak.  His train broke down, you understand, so the poor man had to arrange for a car to take him the rest of the way.

See what I mean?  Actually, reality has not only defeated me; it’s now looming over my prone form and taunting me about my mom.

The Report that triggered the Weiderhold ‘retirement.’

[UPDATE] In honor of Troglopundit’s request for respect for the KISS principle, here goes:

Fred Weiderhold quit rather than tell Congress he was under Biden’s thumb.

If you don’t have time to read the report that apparently triggered the Weiderhold matter (said report is also available via Senator Grassley’s office, as part of his ongoing investigation) – or even Stacy McCain’s article – here’s a quick timeline.

  • June 18, 2009: Fred Weiderhold, Inspector General for Amtrak, receives a report from a third-party legal firm indicating that Amtrak’s Law Department’s oversight of the Office of the Inspector General resulted in a situation where (as Grassley’s letter put it) “Amtrak’s policies and procedures have systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act.” The firm recommends that Congress be notified, either at the next semiannual report or immediately.
  • June 18, 2009 (evening): Weiderhold resigns.

Well, sometimes the story isn’t complex.  Please read on – but one last summary detail: the General Counsel for Amtrak is Eleanor Acheson, who is well-connected with the Biden family. Continue reading The Report that triggered the Weiderhold ‘retirement.’

The latest on the latest IG situation.

[UPDATE] Welcome, Instapundit readers (and Michelle Malkin readers).  In other news, I have made a prediction.

It turns out that former Amtrak IG Fred Wiederhold quit right after Senator Grassley started asking some questions.

As a senior member of the United States Senate and as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance (Committee), it is my duty under the Constitution to ensure that Inspectors General, which were created by Congress, are permitted to operate without political pressure or interference from their respective agencies.  Inspectors General were designed for the express purpose of combating waste, fraud, and abuse and to be independent watchdogs ensuring that federal agencies were held accountable for their actions.  I understand that Inspector General Fred Weiderhold, Jr. has retired today.

Based on contacts that my staff had with Mr. Weiderhold on two recent occasions (April 2, 2009 and June 4, 2009), I understand that the OIG has suffered from repeated and continuous interference from the agency.  After the most recent discussion, it was agreed that the OIG would provide, among other things, a White Paper and specific examples of agency interference with OIG audits and/or investigations.  To date, the OIG has not yet provided any documents.  As you know, any interference such as that was described in these previous discussions is a direct violation of the Inspector General Act of 1978.

In light of Mr. Weiderhold’s unexpected retirement, please provide the previously requested documentation immediately.

Continue reading The latest on the latest IG situation.

Add another IG ‘retiring’ to the list.

Via RS McCain – whose post in general on the potential legs of the IG story is well worth reading all on its own – comes the third Inspector General to suddenly stop working for the government in a week:

The inspector general of Amtrak unexpectedly resigned Thursday night, becoming the third such federal official to leave prematurely since the Obama administration took office and the latest in a string of potentially controversial moves involving government watchdogs.

Fred E. Weiderhold, a 35-year veteran of the agency who was responsible for rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse, is the most high-profile change among the group of senior government officials who have responsibility to conduct independent investigations of federal agencies and institutions.


But several officials who asked not to be identified raised questions about the development, which set off alarm bells among some close Amtrak watchers.

Continue reading Add another IG ‘retiring’ to the list.