2011 In Review

Dec 31st, 2011 | Posted by

At the end of a tumultuous year for high speed rail in California, opponents are increasingly confident they can kill the project and retard California’s hopes of economic recovery and energy independence. But a review of the year about to end shows that the most important factor in shaping high speed rail’s fate hasn’t been the NIMBYs or deniers here in California. Instead, the extremists in the House Republican Caucus in Washington DC have played the most important role in determining what happens to high speed rail in California. By throwing into question the future of federal funding, they have created a context in which the opponents’ campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt could gain more traction.

This took place against a backdrop of an ongoing battle – maybe even a war – over the future of California and the United States as a whole. American politics today is defined not by right versus left, not by Democrats versus Republicans, but by those who want to preserve the 20th century at all costs and those who want to build a better, more sustainable 21st century future.

Those who want a better future won a major victory in November 2008, electing Barack Obama and passing Proposition 1A in California, approving the high speed rail project and $10 billion in funds to start building it. And at the time they believed little stood in the way of achieving the better 21st century future. But they underestimated the numbers and power of those who were dead set against change and improvements. Those opponents might be classified as NIMBYs, as Tea Partiers, as supporters of austerity, but they all shared the same root belief that the changes they were beginning to see unfold were bad and had to be stopped – even if the cost of doing so was prolonging the worst economic crisis in 60 years.

By 2009 the defenders of the failed 20th century status quo had begun to limit what President Obama could accomplish in DC, and in 2010 they won electoral victories across America – though notably, NOT in California, where a forward-looking Democratic Party swept all statewide races and did not lose a single seat in Congress or the legislature.

Still, the opponents of change in California had new allies in Congress, where control of the House had flipped to what is undoubtedly the most radical and extreme group of people to ever hold a majority in that body in its entire history. House Republicans began waging war on 21st century America in all its forms – as well as going hard after much of the 20th century too, in ways that both surprised and alienated many of their 2010 voters. High speed rail was just one casualty of this insane attack on American civilization. House Republicans nearly defaulted on American debt, brought the federal government close to shutdown on numerous occasions, rolled back decades’ worth of women’s rights, and demanded and won pledges from Democrats and President Obama for massive austerity that will cripple any future economic recovery.

As House Republicans succeeded in killing further funding for high speed rail in 2011 and 2012, this allowed critics here in California to use that to call into question the project’s viability. Never mind the polling data suggesting Republican rule in the House is unlikely to last beyond 2012 – HSR opponents and their media allies, both of whom are inherently small-c conservative and oppose change, nevertheless assumed these cuts were permanent, that they would last forever, and that no future Congress would ever reverse them.

In that context, the California High Speed Rail Authority’s excellent work in 2011 – a year that represented a major turnaround for the organization – was ignored in favor of story after story, always rooted in flawed or even false evidence, that suggested something was wrong with the project. Those stories weren’t new, but without promises of federal funding, the project’s problems seemed more significant and harder to resolve.

Yet the CHSRA had done good work to resolve them. A new board with new leadership began finding ways to cut costs, saving $500 million so far in the Valley. But that has been largely ignored by a media that has become shockingly biased in its reporting against the project. Reporters for the LA Times and the San Jose Mercury News provided the most egregious examples of outright misleading and dishonest reporting about the project, with the Mercury News even going so far as to say that a project that could create tens of thousands of jobs each year for 20 years was somehow a bad thing for California. Apparently the Mercury News likes an unemployment rate of 11% and thinks a prolonged recession for California is a positive thing to embrace.

With a few notable exceptions like the Sacramento and Fresno Bee and the editorial pages of the LA Times, the media has made its choice – to defend the failed status quo and to fight change with everything they’ve got. This is in part a consequence of their strange decision to target a demographic of people between ages 45 and 70. By writing off young people, providing articles biased against their interests, these newspapers have doomed themselves to eventual extinction. That’s their choice, but the effect on politics is that many in the media are now against us too, and are willing to ignore facts and evidence in pursuit of their political goals.

But it should also be clear that 2011 was not all bad news for California high speed rail. Governor Jerry Brown mounted a strong and strident defense of the HSR project, indicating that California critics have a big hurdle to jump in their efforts to kill it in the legislature in 2012. He is a crucial ally to have, and HSR advocates should neither underestimate him nor take his support for granted.

For HSR advocates, the lesson of 2011 is clear: the project will rise or fall not on merits and not on facts, but on politics. Many HSR advocates come from an engineering or planning background. Understandably, they want to win arguments on the basis of facts and evidence. But the bitter truth is that those things no longer count in either American politics or even the pages of newspapers in Los Angeles and San José. Instead, it’s all about underlying values, beliefs, and ideologies.

We know from 2008 – and again from 2010 – that Californians do not want to remain stuck in a flawed and failed status quo, and that they will continue to choose a better future instead. The problem is that many HSR advocates have been beaten down by the relentless drumbeat of criticism. And that’s precisely how such criticism is intended to work. A Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt campaign is targeted not only at moderates, but is also designed to undermine the will of advocates to continue supporting the target of the criticism.

HSR advocates remain in a strong position. The public still likes the project, a limited Field Poll question notwithstanding. The public sees the underlying reasons for the project and knows those reasons aren’t going away. Gas prices are still near $4 per gallon. The climate is still getting hotter. The state is still in recession. And desire for passenger rail is still strong.

Advocates are facing a tough situation. But they should not underestimate the support they still have, or the ability to mobilize it to defend the project in 2012. To retreat into a bunker mentality or to give up entirely would be to quit prematurely even when they are in the stronger position.

They should take a lesson from Europe in 1939. After World War II was declared, the French army had a significant numerical advantage over the German army on the western front. French forces even began moving into the Saarland in September 1939, meeting little opposition along the way. German forces were not in a good position to resist and with their best troops engaged in the invasion of Poland, they would have had a hard time fighting and winning a two-front war.

But the French did not press their advantage. They had begun to believe the criticisms leveled at their fighting capabilities. French generals did not believe a conscript army could break the German defenses, even though the French had much greater numbers. Their military doctrines at the time held that defense was the only sensible posture to take against the Germans, and that the Maginot Line would provide all the protection they needed.

As it turned out, the French attitude was not defensive but weak. By hiding in their bunkers they were helpless as the German blitzkrieg went around them in May 1940, collapsing the French position and forcing France into a humiliating surrender and four years of brutal occupation. Had they attacked in the fall of 1939, they might well have forced an end to the war six years early, and saved millions of lives in the process.

The point is that they had an advantage but had begun to doubt their ability to use it effectively, sowing the seeds of ruin. This is a classic political lesson and one that HSR advocates would do well to consider.

We still have supporters in Sacramento and DC. Governor Brown and President Obama are two of the most important. But even they will be reluctant to fight on our behalf if we give in to fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

High speed rail will be built in California. The only question is when. The underlying reasons of a growing population, inability to afford costly oil prices, a need for energy independence, and fast growing demand for passenger rail make high speed rail inevitable. But that could be delayed by 5, 10, even 20 years. California literally cannot afford to wait. We know the cost of doing nothing is not zero.

Now is the time for HSR advocates to rally to the project’s defense. If this project dies, it won’t come back anytime in the near future. When it does, it will be even more costly than it is today. And California will have suffered greatly in its absence.

More importantly, if HSR were to be killed or even delayed, it would open the floodgates to further attacks on other important elements of building a better future. The people who oppose HSR are not simply going to go away if they win this battle. They will turn their guns on other mass transit projects, on green energy and green jobs, on efforts to improve our schools and health care, and on efforts to solve the state’s budget and economic crisis. These opponents are not motivated by factual concerns with the project, but by a visceral hatred of anything that is different from the 20th century way of life they were taught as kids was the Greatest Thing Ever. Giving them a victory on HSR will simply embolden them to demand more victories at greater cost.

HSR is a microcosm of the battle for California’s future. It is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

Tomorrow: A look ahead at HSR in 2012.

  1. joe
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 17:11

    More importantly, if HSR were to be killed or even delayed, it would open the floodgates to further attacks on other important elements of building a better future. The people who oppose HSR are not simply going to go away if they win this battle.

    HSR is a microcosm of the battle for California’s future. It is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

    I don’t consider support for HSR to be transitive as support for contractors or “business as usual”.

    In fact, I see a risk to CA by those those who want to stop the project to improve it, perfect it, or wait until we change how public projects are managed. That’s also part of the problem.

    We need to start HSR in the CV and concurrently challenge the for-profit-contractors that would reuse 20th century construction and car-centric design.

  2. J. Wong
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 17:26

    My prediction: Gov. Brown will ask the Legislature to release funds for the ICS, which it will. Court challenges will be rejected. Bids will be solicited and come in under estimates. Construction will begin in the Fall. Obama will be re-elected.

    Joe A. Reply:

    Amen to that. Obama is not perfect, but if any the republican clowns running for president get elected, and institute their regressive – lunatic policies, this country will be in trouble and in decline.

    Spokker Reply:

    Obama extended the Patriot Act, will probably sign SOPA and signed the NDAA with “reservations.” These are far more serious issues than this specific project and CHSRA’s faulty routing.

    Establishing a sound high speed rail project in California remains an important issue, but still less important than those that I mentioned. I can’t support Obama or mainstream Republicans unless they support my right to take a picture of this stupid train if and when it’s ever built without being harassed by security guards and cops. That would require a restoration of civil liberties.

    Spokker Reply:

    He also remains committed to war and more war. Bringing the troops home from Iraq happened on the Bush schedule. Obama promised to do it by 2009.

    Spokker Reply:

    That being said, Obama’s reelection chances are as good as any Republican’s chances. In general, the polls show a generic Republic beating Obama, but Obama beating specific Republicans. I don’t want either of them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Let’s wait a few days to see what goes on. Governor Romney is only a little bit behind the generic Republican, so he has a shot of beating his doppelganger. The other Republicans don’t; if Santorum really wins, or if Governor Romney gets dragged down in a protracted nomination battle, then President Romney will be able to cruise to reelection.

    Spokker Reply:

    Well, the realist in me understands that Romney is going to be the nominee partially because he looks presidential and knows how to play the game, but I’ll be damned if Paul vs. Obama wouldn’t be a more interesting contest. The debates would be exhilarating.

    Spokker Reply:

    If you think about it as a “constitutional scholar vs. constitutionalist” kind of thing, man oh man I want to see it happen.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Spokker, it’s people like you thinking like that that might actually lead to Paul being the nominee. And if he is, you’re right, it will be something to see. In fact, it may actually turn into an election with substance, for a change, instead of just a selection between ground beef and hamburger with all the argument focusing on the condiments.

    Spokker Reply:

    Even if Ron Paul does not beat Obama, I think Obama would be forced to defend many of the things his administration is doing right now. Ron Paul is the only person talking about the NDAA. The other candidates can’t wait to use it! And they may not have the “reservations” the current president has.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Everyone is anti-authoritarian when it comes to the enemy’s authoritarianism, and to Confederate revanchists like Paul, the US as it currently is is an enemy. Expecting Paul to be any different is a little bit like expecting Hugo Chavez to have been a democrat because the socialists are so good at criticizing the fascists’ human rights abuses.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    In what way is Paul a “Confederate revanchist”?

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t think Ron Paul is going to be successful at re-instituting slavery.

    You know, if this country wanted indefinite detention why not just amend the constitution? Would the states ratify? Let’s do this thing. In any case, I don’t think this is going to be settled by an “Everybody is a little bit fascist sometimes.” argument.

    Spokker Reply:

    Along those same lines, Ron Paul is not going to be successful at most of the things he would like to do. He understands he will have Congress to contend with. But I think that out of the things he can actually control, such as his duties as commander-in-chief, will be very beneficial to this nation. I also think he’ll wield that pardon power in very interesting ways.

    Fed? Gold Standard? Maybe a more thorough audit, but that’s it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Paul consorts with KKK leaders, proponents of segregation, opponents of US entry into WW2, and unreconstructed anti-Semites. He defended his letters (probably written by Lew Rockwell, but still) as late as 2001, and even today engaged in culture war, e.g. by peddling the War on Christmas lie.

    On top of that, his view is not about individual rights, but about states’ rights; in other words, he’s perfectly comfortable with fascism as long as it’s done by the states. In general, states’ rights is an excuse made up by Southerners to justify what couldn’t be justified in any other way; back when they ran the country, in the 1850s, they passed the Fugitive Slave Act. Will they reinstitute slavery? No. But they’ll do what they did in the 1870s, that is pass the most fathomable set of laws that restore the old situation as much as possible.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, I don’t know about what you allege in the first paragraph of your post, although it seems more than a bit overdone. I haven’t heard or read anything about him “consorting” with the types of people you describe.

    But I would like to address your second point, “his view is not about individual rights, but about states’ rights.” I don’t think it was a “states’ rights” perspective that led to Ron Paul voting against the “Patriot” Act, or challenging domestic surveillance programs.

    I agree with Spokker, who suggested in his 7:06 p.m. post that Paul would be more successful in some areas, including his duties as commander in chief, and less successful in other areas. For me the appealing thing about Paul is not his fiscal policies, which I don’t think he would have much of a chance to accomplish, but rather his ideas concerning foreign policy and interventionism and individual liberties. Even if he were not to succeed in those areas, at least his candidacy would cause the body politic to confront some issues that have been too stage managed for too long by the political and media elite.

    Spokker Reply:

    “But they’ll do what they did in the 1870s, that is pass the most fathomable set of laws that restore the old situation as much as possible.”

    And they say Ron Paul supporters are paranoid.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For Ron Paul’s friends, see e.g. http://patdollard.com/2011/12/photo-of-the-day-ron-paul-hanging-out-smiling-with-stormfront-org-founder-don-black/

    And before you think he has any interest in reducing interventionism, read this: http://www.thenewamerican.com/history/american/8677-ron-paul-as-an-anti-communist-cold-warrior

    Spokker Reply:

    Alon, do you know if Trader Joe’s is open on New Year’s Eve? We are out of cat food and they have the best quality (much better than mainstream types) at a reasonable price.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, thanks for the links. As for the first one, I have no idea where it was taken, so for all I know this is another situation where someone has his picture taken with a politician. There is no indication that Ron Paul knows about the person’s views, let alone that he endorses them.

    As to the second link, I’ve gone over it quickly. However, it does not seem to support your assertion. Ron Paul may have voted to keep a strong defensive capability vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, but he did not promote attacking the Soviet Union or any of its proxies. As for Korea, the article says that he believed South Korea is capable of defending itself from attack by North Korea.

    Maintaining a strong defensive capability does not make someone an interventionist. Invading other countries does.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ron Paul voted not just for strong defensive capability, but also for massive handouts to the military-industrial complex. Does the man not realize that the lobbies that feed at the trough of Star Wars or excessive nuclear stockpiling then turn around and promote more war? If not, he doesn’t deserve to have any leadership position.

    I’d give Paul the benefit of the doubt re taking a photograph with the owner of Stormfront if he didn’t have a history of promoting racism under his own name. In the 1980s, Rockwell and Rothbard decided on a strategy of appealing to racist impulses to win libertarianism back from the Koch Brothers, who they regarded as excessively libertine. (Reason, which is now a Koch vehicle, is unsurprisingly skeptical about Paul’s candidacy.) That’s where the Ron Paul letters come from.

    The states’ right impulse and the racism involved go even further back. Rothbard supported Strom Thurmond, and was an early adopter of the “neither compulsory segregation nor compulsory integration” approach now favored by Paul and other opponents of the Civil Rights Act.

    It’s pure wishful thinking to believe that the good Paul would get what he wants and the bad Paul would not be able to because of Congressional pressure. If the Wilson administration is any indication, the opposite is true: racial animosity would rise and social trust would decline, both of which would take decades to undo, while the power of the state would be unchecked.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, There may be things in Paul’s background that are cause for reflection and perhaps alarm. However, it is hard for me to rate him lower on an overall basis than the other Republican candidates. As for Obama, Spokker has already talked about that.

    We probably should discontinue this exchange about Ron Paul since it doesn’t match the subject matter of this blog, unless there is something about Ron Paul’s attitudes towards government funding for rail worth talking about. Otherwise, perhaps we are abusing the blog.

    I’ll close, at least my part in this, by saying that I do appreciate your views and the way in which you express them.

    Spokker Reply:

    Apparently there is a video out there titled “Ron Paul begged for federal money for high speed rail” or something but the video was taken down by DMCA.

    Spokker Reply:

    Oh, and he doesn’t like Amtrak. The Infrastructurist threw a tantrum about it.


    Then again most of the Amtrak service in California is funded by the state anyway. If the national system goes away I don’t think we’ll see a huge difference (I had heard at one of those fruity trainsit advocate meetings that California is going to soon be on the hook for all Amtrak California operations including the legacy Surfliner runs). The significant federal funding we are getting (which is our money anyway since we are a donor state) in terms of high speed rail is going to the wrong place. The federal funding we are receiving for the most important routes is paltry in comparison.

    I think this is one area in which “states’ rights” would improve things quite a bit. There isn’t much left of a national HSR plan anyway.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    States’ rights (modulo the continuing coast-to-interior subsidies!) may work for California, but in the East they’re a recipe for more agency turf battles.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but in the East they’re a recipe for more agency turf battles

    Meh. If the money wasn’t getting siphoned off to DC something would get cobbled together. A consortium of the turnpike and bridge authorities? One that comes up with “cheapest way to move people in the Northeast and Midwest is HSR”? The Port Authority isn’t blinking at spending a few billion dollars a year on the “port”. The Turnpikes are going to be swimming in cash – at least the NJ Turnpike.


    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe, maybe not. Port Authority had to be created by federal judicial fiat, New York and New ersey were so uncooperative.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Federal Government told them to come to an agreement. It didn’t tell them how to do it. Worked out so well that it’s the model for many other agencies the world over. Has it’s faults but works out reasonably well. Didn’t resolve everything – New Jersey was suing New York City over the conditions in the port well into the 70s – when you flushed in Manhattan in was dumped into the river untreated….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Back to the original topic of this thread drift, here is Ron Paul about the Civil Rights Act.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I agree, and that would be one of the two good outcomes, Obama v. Paul. Another good outcome would have been a primary challenge to Obama, but that hasn’t happened.

    Spokker Reply:

    Let’s just say I regret voting for Obama as much as synonomouse regrets voting for Prop 1A. That being said, there was no viable alternative in 2008. There’s a slim chance there will be one in 2012.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Spokker

    While you are at TJ’s try the “Nouveau” 2 buck chuck red. My daughter got some today and it is not bad -2011, kinda like French Beaujolais primeur

    Spokker Reply:

    Thank you synonymouse :)

    VBobier Reply:

    If there was someone, anyone who was more popular than Obama and not a Repug from the land of the hard christian right or else, people would vote for that person, but of course there is or will be only one choice for the Democratic Party and that’s the President. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said once Her term is up that she intends to retire, that She is leaving politics, So who are Democrats left with? I don’t see anyone at all Myself. Yes I wish there was, As Obama isn’t a take No Prisoners type, unless some light a fire under Him, He’s more a I’ll try and reach a consensus, than rule by Veto threat to get what He wants, As He knows full well that Vetos can be undone if the will to do so is there.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The most interesting thing would be a brokered convention.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    A brokered convention would be interesting to political junkies, but would be a tragic outcome if it results in Wall Street picking the Republican nominee.

    Much more interesting and a healthier outcome for the body politic would be what Spokker is talking about.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Brokered conventions are run by party hacks. Which is similar to how the invisible primary works (the one of endorsements and money, which Romney has won by a landslide), except it’s more open.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Those all seem reasonable to me.

  3. D. P. Lubic
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 19:42

    Came across this while looking for something else, and thought it might be of interest here:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Could this be a helpful development?–Fox News ratings down:


    This guy really, really, hates Fox:


    Of course, there are conflicting statements out there. The stories above have Fox losing while other cable networks gain, but this one has all the cable news services losing viewers:


    I guess I’ll have to borrow something from Fox, about “we report, you decide.”

    Happy New Year!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Could this be of importance?


    Another opinion:


    I would still say you should vote anyway–why take a chance on your (in)action changing the outcome?


  4. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 19:50

    Obama is smart and respectable has accomplished a lot. he’s not a left wing nut. Ron Paul is a nut case and an asshole.

    Spokker Reply:

    Obama is smart and respectable and in American politics most presidents tend to be right of center, including Democrats.


    With Obama’s recent moves, he has moved nearly as far right as Bush II in my opinion.

  5. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 20:18

    I’d like to see a Obama make a deal with the republicans to support the pipeline in return for some hsr money. that way we can get jobs moving in two areas. They seem unwilling to wheel and deal though.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    So in addition to PAMPA nimby’s, you want HSR to battle Keystone nimbys too? Brilliant.

    Tony d. Reply:

    @#$%& PAMPA! HAPPY New Years!

  6. Sobering Reality
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 07:17

    After reading this crap, I’ve added to my New Year’s resolutions. Really Robert? A quasi call to war over a freakin’ train? It’s a train Robert. When you post crap like that, how do you expect that anyone will take you seriously?

    So here it is. I’m going to come here less often. Some of you will love it, because you don’t know what to do when someone else challenges your way of thinking (which in many instances is completely wrong). Some of you are alright; the vast majority of you are fringe nut jobs. It’s been fun watching the nut jobs twist in the wind not knowing if I’ve been serious with them for choking their chain. Those people know who they are; you wasted most of New Year’s Eve on a blog about trains posting mostly conspiracy theory crap about politicians that don’t matter. Totally hilarious, and yet predictable.

    Just remember. Orange County voted for an El Toro Airport before they voted against it. In 1994 San Diego voted for an airport at Miramar before voting against it in 2006. In both instances, only the passengers, airlines and private aircraft operators that use the were going to be on the hook for the costs. Some food for thought.

    Queue the lame commentary by the aforementioned nutjobs.

    Jack Reply:

    I feel bad that you don’t have anything better to do other than come on here and twist the nipples of people that have something to be passionate about. You statement “it’s just a train” shows your complete lack of understanding of just how important this project is for the state and the country.

    There is a huge difference from presenting ideas that “challenge” someone’s thinking and being an ass to get a rise out of people.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    good stuff. drew a chuckle from me.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    when someone else challenges your way of thinking (which in many instances is completely wrong).

    Crimethink is doubleplus ungood. The thinkpol should send them all to joycamp.

    jimsf Reply:

    LOL really sobering. You are the last person here who has any business criticizing other people’s ability to be taken seriously. You are so busy repeating right wing tripe and adhereing to ideology, it not only can’t be taken seriously but its boring. Its been done to death

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Right Wing Tripe? That’s rich. Unlike you, I’m more than willing to bash both sides of the party – and have. Had you bothered to read any of my posts you’d know that to be true.

    Let me know when you have an original thought. Cut and paste coupled with an occasional childish tantrum makes you look stupid.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There ya go ignoring the handbook again. The ad hominem attacks are supposed to stop once you’ve made the announcement. The announcement that we will no longer be graced with your omniscience.

    “Sobering Reality
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 07:17
    …….So here it is. I’m going to come here less often…..”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Didn’t say I was leaving just that I might, but hey reading is a challenge for some, thanks for not disappointing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought “I’m going to come here less often” was rather concise. Too bad you don’t keep your promises.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I’m going to bicycle more often this year too. Does that mean I do all the additional riding in one day?

    Man you are just too easy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yet another frequent post. What part of “less often” was unclear when you wrote it?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Another predictable post from a project gadfly. Yeah, thats what politicians, even those who support HSR, call you (and several others on this board I might add) went they aren’t using you to drum up support.

  7. Sobering Reality
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 08:16

    Thatnks for not lettign me down Jack.

    Yes, it is just a train. No, it’s not an important project for the State or the Country.

  8. BMF from San Diego
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 08:42

    I am not ‘up’ on the politcal strategies or lingo as folks above… but I feel the only way a Republican will win in November is if Obama stumbles tragically. And I mean tragically. Neither GOP candidate is electable. Or, Dem voters become so unconcerned about the probability that Obama loses, that they do not show up in November…, but GOP voters do. That, my friends, is the most likely possibility for Obama to lose. But, I will not make any bets on that.

    After an Obama win in November, and I hope a few House seats taken back too… funding support for HSR should become more fruitful. The war by GOP on Obama, and the battle lines on the HSR front… will begin to focus elsewhere. The GOP will begin to focus on 2016. HSR funding will no longer be a high profile battle front.

    That is my 2 cents

  9. rooting for bart down geary
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 12:22

    As a reference to this post I think its true that Republicans are stuck in the 20th century. I live in a little city in southwest Virginia called roanoke an as anyone should know Virginia is ran by Republicans. Roanoke is deprived of passenger rail the closest Amtrak stations are 45 miles Northwest and east. As a future bay area resident high speed rail would help me out a lot in my area of work commuting back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles without the need for flying delaying or stopping the project is simply not an option prop 1A ensures it. I think its absurd that these “nimbus” and old farts are running the show they meed younger people who understand. they’ll be dead soon

    rooting for bart down geary Reply:


    Peter Reply:

    What area of work are you in that requires you to frequently fly back and forth between SF and LA?

    rooting for bart down geary Reply:

    Im a traveling nurse

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Hello, “Root,” I live in north end of the Shenandoah Valley myself, across the state line from Winchester, Va. You might want to take a look at these links and organizations if you haven’t already done so; I suspect you’ll find them interesting.



    The Californians are not alone. . .


  10. rooting for bart down geary
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 12:28

    Oh and can anyone explain why it costs so much and takes.so long to build I know China’s rich and all but their not dumb they budget and they build their high speed rail lines in no time

    Peter Reply:

    Because unlike China, we have things called environmental laws and limited government funds. And, unlike China, our construction actually has to be done to code. Look up the Chinese garbage bridge for an example of why we don’t want to emulate their construction practices.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Um right. Like BART has never built defective bridges.

    Peter Reply:

    And what part of the BART bridge NOT being opened (because of safety inspections) did you miss? Unlike the Shanghai bridge, which was open for a year before it collapsed? Subtleties, subtleties.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    BART was very lucky in its first 15 or so years.
    Some real cowboy stuff, and more than a few there-but-by-the-grace-of-God moments.

    The sotto voce implications that “the Chinese” are morally and intellectually inferior remain dispiriting.

    Peter Reply:

    So, because I call the morality (where the hell did you get “intellectual inferiority” from?) of certain Chinese contractors and government officials into question, I’m now accused of being a racist. Nice. Thanks.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It was a fluke that the BART bridge had to get inspected by Caltrans. Had it not been located over a state highway, nobody would have been the wiser.

  11. J. Wong
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 13:12

    Yea, I don’t get it why critics assume that just because the current Republican Congress has zeroed out funding for HSR for the last two years that HSR will never get more funding. 2013 will be a new Congress and the U.S. can easily afford to fund HSR.

  12. Peter
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 14:01

    Good news for BART: BART Police arrest suspect in copper cable theft

    Admittedly, this is nearly a month old, but it is nonetheless interesting.

  13. William
    Jan 1st, 2012 at 19:35

    Just to mention, Gilroy residents had reached the consensus to prefer a downtown, split-grade station. This would also include grade-separating UP/Caltrain tracks through the Gilroy downtown.

    I think this is the HSR station design that many people in this blog preferred. Not only does this avoid destorying farmlands, but also revitalize Gilroy downtown, and allow passengers on future trains using UP/Caltrain ROW to easily transfer to HSR if needed.

    Link: http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Gilroy_HST_CC_StudySession2_handout.pdf

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