Valley Republicans Make HSR A Top Target

May 1st, 2012 | Posted by

Good article in the Fresno Bee about Republican candidates in the Central Valley making opposition to the high speed rail project a top priority in their campaigns – even when it means reversing long-held positions:

For Republican candidates this election season, high-speed rail is Enemy No. 1 — or had better be.

And that’s putting some Republicans who once supported the idea in an uncomfortable spot.

Take Republican Assembly hopeful Jim Patterson, for example. On Bullard Avenue, just west of Blackstone, a sign for Patterson’s 23rd Assembly District campaign proclaims: “Stop the High Speed Rail Boondoggle.”

But a Republican opponent, Fresno attorney David DeFrank, points out that in the 1990s when Patterson was Fresno’s mayor he spoke glowingly of the project.

That, Patterson responded, was a different proposal that was to be routed along Highway 99 and paid for with private dollars.

Welcome to the 2012 political campaign, where the state’s proposed high-speed rail project has become one of the hottest campaign issues for Republicans from city council right up to Congress.

Some of this is about crass partisan politics. The article quotes a GOP strategist as saying HSR is one issue where Republicans can draw a clear contrast with Democrats. So it is worth keeping in mind that for a lot of Republicans, their anti-HSR statements are intended not as factual assessments of the project but instead as politically motivated attacks designed to undercut Democratic candidates.

But it’s also about Republican candidates needing to appease their own base – both their voters and their donors. Most right-wing voters, who make up the base of the Republican Party, are ideologically opposed to passenger trains. This causes difficulties for those Republicans who are supportive of rail, like Patterson, or like many people who do vote Republican and who like trains. Because most Republican voters oppose trains, any Republican candidate has to play to that train-hating base if they are going to prevail against another Republican. They don’t have to do that, but if they didn’t then another Republican could run to their right on an anti-rail platform and win more of the base’s votes.

Similarly, the people who fund the Republican Party are also dogmatically opposed to rail, especially high speed rail. The Koch brothers emerged in 2010 as key funders of GOP candidates, and they fund right-wingers who among other things oppose rail and other forms of public transit. They do so because they have several business lines in oil, and perceive trains as a threat to their bottom line. This attitude is shared among many of the wealthy donors on the right, and it’s an important consideration for Republican candidates.

That puts Democrats like State Senators Alan Lowenthal and Darrell Steinberg in a tough position. Lowenthal wants to go to Congress as a Democrat. For his party to retake the majority this fall, they’ll need to pick up some Central Valley seats. If Lowenthal continues to side with Republicans against fellow Democratic candidates on the HSR project then it could cause significant problems for him with the Democratic leadership, including Nancy Pelosi, as it would undermine the all-important effort to retake the House.

For Steinberg, the problem is similar, although he’s not himself running for Congress. Steinberg needs good relations with Congressional Democrats and also needs to see Dems pick up some Valley seats, including a key run for the State Senate by Cathleen Galgiani, one of the strongest supporters of the HSR project. Steinberg would cause himself serious political problems if he helped undermine those Valley Democrats, even though that’s exactly what Sen. Joe Simitian would have him do.

High speed rail would provide a dramatic economic boost to the Central Valley, creating desperately needed jobs in the near term while enabling the region to participate in the economic growth driven by the coastal metropolises. For Republicans to oppose the project is to consign the Valley to decades of economic stagnation. But that’s exactly what their agenda is. Let’s hope California Democrats don’t help them succeed.

  1. Tony d.
    May 1st, 2012 at 09:30

    Central Valley RePIGlicans are against construction jobs and economic development in a region battered by high unemployment. Yeah! That should go over well with CV citizens…

    wu ming Reply:

    it’s like they’re trying to accelerate the CV’s gradual shift from safe republican to swing region. if democrats had any sense, they’d run ads locally accusing big-city republicans of looking down on the valley.

  2. Jack
    May 1st, 2012 at 09:49

    Do people realize the candidates can do nothing about HSR if it’s budgeted for construction this year… Are people that ignorant?

    One of these signs is on a corner I pass every day, I look at it and just sigh….

    How do you justify killing this project with 15% unemployment….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Anyone who gets the majority of their information on things like that from the TV machine is going to be awfully uninformed. Add in those eager to pick their information on the basis of tribal allegiance, and there’s a a good chunk of the electorate who is certainly ignorant enough to think that the candidates can do something about the ICS.

    Heck, the Republicans in Ohio were actively spreading the notion that Ohio could just take the Triple-C money and spend it on highways instead, and large number of people bought it, hook, line and sinker ~ only to be OUTRAGED! at the Federal government when funds appropriated and funded for rail projects turned out to be unavailable for highway spending.

    Nathanael Reply:

    TV news is appallingly terrible, full stop. Newspapers have gotten pretty bad too.

    I rely on foreign news, tiny community newspapers, and citizen journalists on the Internet. Even people who do that can easily fall victim to selection bias of information.

    But people who get most of their news from the idiot box… well, they’re not being informed, and that’s all there is to it.

    lex luther Reply:

    translation: you rely on euro socialist news, far left marxist community propaganda newspapers and huffpost /daily kos bloggers.

    how can you say your being informed more than anyone else? NO JOURNALIST is objective, they all have an agenda. youre no different than the wack jobs who listen to rush lim-blah

    Rick Rong Reply:

    You don’t know how wrong you are. The main problem with the American main stream “media” is that it only allows a narrow range of news and opinion to be disseminated. Anything outside of that range, for all practical purposes, might as well not exist. The other problem, which comes a close second, is how ignorant many so-called journalists are. It may be that they’ve gotten used to being spoon-fed press releases and have become accustomed to doing little more than regurgitate their contents. There are a lot of newspapers and other media outlets out there in the big world, outside of the U.S. If you think that all of them fall into the category of “euro socialist news, far left marxist community propaganda newspapers and huffpost /daily kos bloggers,” then you are ignorant of what media really exist outside of this country as well as on the internet.

    lex luther Reply:

    thats what I was saying. MSM is limited in its range of news and opinions, with FIXED NEWS being right wing and MSNBC and the Clinton News Network (CNN) being slanted to the left, there is no such thing as truth in journalism, so no matter what you read, its slanted, its biased, its largely crap

    what foreign news outlets tell the truth? hmm? bbc? haaretz? cbc? get real

    Rick Rong Reply:

    So evidently you don’t believe any of the media, is that it? Then where, exactly, do you get your information? What sources do you rely on?

    Andy M. Reply:

    I trust my horoscope. :-)

    Spokker Reply:

    Russia Today

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s “slanted” and then there’s “completely utterly devoid of journalism”.

    If I read, say, three different British newspapers with different slants, I can learn a lot, because all three of them have actual journalism (facts, research) along with a slant.

    In contrast, if I read three US newspapers regurgitating the same press release, I learn nothing. If I watch FOX News, which just makes stuff up, I actually become more ignorant than before.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The equivalence between Fox News and MSNBC is false, though, since MSNBC airs hours of right wing coverage in the morning, and while the distinct MSNBC evening shows each pursue their own mostly centrist to center-left agendas, none of the liberal opinion and public affairs evening hosts have the power to dictate the talking points of the day to the “news coverage” shows airing in between the conservative and liberal opinion and public affairs shows ~ Fox News is all right wing, and all Fox News shows, whether “news” or “opinion” are notified about the talking points of the day.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you look at announcements about things related to trains (just as an example — try, much of the “reporting” in newspapers is *literally* identical to the press releases.

    Jonathan Reply:

    So, oh, The Independent and Le Monde are “euro socialist news”? Sounds _exactly like rush lim-blah.
    Please do not feed the troll.

    lex luther Reply:

    im a troll, youre a commie. great that we can label eachother

    Alex M. Reply:

    How old are you?

    wu ming Reply:

    my hunch is late 40s, early 50s glibertarian newspaper comment board troll.

    lex luther Reply:

    nope. a just a disenchanted democrat

    jimsf Reply:

    yes I’m a somewhat disenchanted democrat too. What are you most disenchanted about? Democrats weakness on standing up for labor? The fact that we didn’t get a single payer health care system, or the fact that we still have a federal ban on gay marriage?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Those are all disenchanting, but there’s also the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, and the failure to roll back extra-Constitutional claims of executive powers by the W Bush administration.

    On the other hand, Obama’s positions would have been mostly Republican positions in the 1950’s and 1960’s Republican party, so its not really surprising that we get a kind of Rockefeller Republican administration when we elect a President from the once-were-Republican Hedge Fund wing of the Democratic party.

    Of course, those who get their information courtesy the radical reactionary propaganda mills know that we have always been at war with EurAsia.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On health care, Obama’s positions were Republican positions from 1993 until about 2006.

    joe Reply:

    Bob Dole’s 96 healthcare plan and “Mittens” plan for MA which he enacted.

    I think the Heritage Foundation concocted the idea of mandating insurance.

    The 56 GOP Platform was to the LEFT of Obama.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Personally my top disenchantment with Obama has to do with the harassment and persecution of whistleblowers and the tremendous efforts he’s made to cover up the crimes of the Bush adminstration and protect the criminals. This is not only wrong, it’s also politically stupid; the Bush-era criminals won’t thank him for it, because they are ingrates.

    Though the political malpractice of letting the Republicans run the show with a 40-person minority in the US Senate is pretty disenchanting too.

    Then there’s letting BP harass reporters, give orders to the Coast Guard, and dump neurotoxins into the Gulf of Mexico.

    thatbruce Reply:


    the failure to roll back extra-Constitutional claims of executive powers by the W Bush administration.

    No US President has voluntarily relinquished claimed Executive Branch powers, even when the initial claim of power was made by the Other Party against the wishes of the Opposition Party. One of the many oddities of our political system.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Similar tendencies are true of Kings through history.

    I’m not saying it was a *surprising* that he did not fulfill the campaign promises about rolling back extra-Constitutional authority, just that the promise to do so is part of what would have been enchanting for civil libertarians among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and so the failure to do as promised would be disenchanting for those Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Compare-and-contrast reading of the Guardian, the Independent, and the Financial Times (each with different opinions on the same facts) will usually give you a pretty good sense of what’s going on in the UK.

    There is nothing comparable in the US; most of our media has degenerated into Xeroxing of press releases.

    I’m lucky enough to have not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE local community newspapers in my area, and they all have journalists who are trying to do more than regurgitate press releases. A little compare-and-contrast and you can get a good sense of what’s happening locally, better than from the corporate-owned daily.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    NO JOURNALIST is objective, they all have an agenda. youre no different than the wack jobs who listen to rush lim-blah

    This is the “push” strategy ~ excusing Rush Limbaugh because “no journalist is objective” implies that there is no substantial difference between the process of fact checking that Rush Limbaugh engages in and the process that The Guardian engages in.

    All you have to do to deploy the “push” strategy is to declare an unattainable standard, and then everyone, because they do not reach the unattainable standard, is equally bad. “What Person A says is deliberate propaganda, and Person A does not care whether its true or false so long as it has the desired effect, what Person B says is reporting on the facts checked as well as they are able, with their selection of what facts are significant and what source of information to trust as credible influenced by their personal history, neither are “entirely objective” and therefore they are both just as bad ~ its a push.”

    lex luther Reply:

    you have all hit on the very things that made me disenchanted. Guantanamo bay, continued war in afghanistan, too much compromise on health care reform, protecting bush and cheney and the deathstar gang from prosecution, , no immigration reform but instead deports 5 times more people than bush, even victims of crime right after they call the police for help are taken away, charging the wikileaks whistleblower with helping terrorists (?wtf?) in order to scare any other potential whistleblowers, and his failure to stand up to the GOP on almost any issue and the list goes on and on

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And so you treat the Washington Times editorial page as a credible information source and repeat a constant string of Fox News talking points? That doesn’t line up with any of the above.

  3. slackfarmer
    May 1st, 2012 at 10:06

    This is sad. There is nothing inherently Democratic about HSR, and no reason Republicans shouldn’t support useful infrastructure projects. Unfortunately when something becomes a partisan wedge issue, reason exits and is replaced by sound bites and mudslinging.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The CHSRA was intentionally politicized by the Democratic Party machine which conceived it. It was their own doing that made it into a partisan hot potato.

    The routing was subverted in order to provide Palmdale with “free” quasi-proto-BART.

    The 99 routing was selected similarly to provide Modesto-Fresno-Bako with a crypto-BART.

    Altamont was killed to ensure that the Capital of Silicon Valley would be assured to be the nexus of hsr in the Bay Area.

    Liberal to moderate but affluent homeowners in PAMPA were harassed by PB aerial scare tactics and gratuitously radicalized.

    Meanwhile the mega-NIMBY’s and visceral haters of hsr known as the Tejon Ranch Co. were rewarded by having their kingdom declared utterly off-limits, virtually the holiest of holies. You would think the Bear Trap Canyon was Yosemite Valley. Clearly Villaraigosa intends to call in the marker from the Chandlers when he runs for higher office.

    So here’s a big middle-finger salute to the various and sundry heroes of welfare-stated politically correct and economically torpedoed hsr – Kopp, Diridon, Richard, Moonbeam and his construction unions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    you forgot the mind rays and helicopters again

    thatbruce Reply:

    Those are obviously working if he has forgotten about them.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    There are issues with the CAHSR project to be sure. Rather than debating these, the GOP (driven primarily by the Tea Party types) throws around the “socialist” label. On the flip side, the Dems tell their members to get on board or risk the entire Dem caucus. Such is the nature of a wedge issue. Neither approach is very helpful, and both parties share blame.

    The GOP stands to lose more than the Dems; however, as it simply becomes the party of no. Reagan was so popular because he claimed his administration represented morning in America, and that tomorrow would be better. Now the GOP just opposes whatever the Dems say (even if, as is often the case, the GOP previously supported it), and is fast becoming the party of doom and gloom. It’s tough to be a Republican today.

    The other loser is CAHSR itself. Instead of members of both parties debating its pros and cons, and working to make a better system, it (warts and all) becomes a litmus test of Democratic fealty.

    synonymouse Reply:

    GOP opposition pales in significance in comparison to in-house incompetence and apathy at the CHSRA. Every indication is that there is but one good to very good route alignment available for the mountain crossing. It is utter dereliction of duty on the part of Brown and Richard to not insist this option be fully studied free of any limitations or bias emanating from the Chandlers. PB needs to proceed with the engineering study on the ideal assumption the CHSRA already owns the ROW free and clear and then select the optimum alignment.

    Then and only then can they proceed with building out the mountain crossing. Just settling for a freight detour incompatible with freight is a prescription for failure. No matter whether you go for price is no object or value engineered the result will be second rate. Why blow a fortune on mediocrity expensive to maintain and way underutilized Go for the permanent 21st century solution.

    Nathanael Reply:

    No, practically everything pales in comparison to GOP lunacy. People from other countries sometimes *literally don’t believe* the antics of the modern Republicants — think they’re just parodies, jokes.

    Only thing I can think of worse than that is our health care “system”, where foreigners *frequently* can’t believe what it’s actually like, because it’s so astoundingly terrible and ridiculous, like something from Gogol.

    lex luther Reply:

    that is the price you pay to live in a capitalist country. you dont like it, move to canada

    Joe Reply:

    Happy May Day troll.

    lex luther Reply:

    may day? you mean happy mafia employee union day, happy illegal immigrant rights day, happy occupy wall street day, happy anarchists and people who hate america day…

    Tony d. Reply:

    Unless, like myself, you’ve actually served in the US military, don’t talk about paying a price to live in this country…troll!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Unless, like myself, you’ve actually served in the US military,

    Ooh! A government welfare queen!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Richard, I rarely say anything really negative to you, but that last one was uncalled for. Show a touch of consideration.

    joe Reply:

    It’s a political view: a “political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as “anarchists”, advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. ” -wikipedia.

    HSR, Contractors, Government … all bad, freeloaders and not useful.

    VBobier Reply:

    Welfare Queens are a Repugnican MYTH as they do not exist & they Never have Richard Mlynarik…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You are forgetting that corporations are people ~ while recipients of personal transfer payments receive a very small fraction of our nation’s GDP, recipients of corporate welfare receive a much larger fraction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Corporations are comprised of people, though. If you’re a major shareholder of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE, or one of many other defense contractors, you’re a welfare recipient.

    Spokker Reply:

    It seems that the only people that can be honest about soldiers are those who used to be one.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I am actually moving to Canada.

    VBobier Reply:

    To be a Canuk, You’d have to swear allegiance to the Queen or King as the case may be.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    However, you don’t have to swear allegiance to the Sovereign to become a permanent resident alien, though of course you do have to promise to respect his or her laws.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I would also have to severely mispronounce the vowel in out and house. But it’s only for two years, and then I need to get another job.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, I suspect you can get permanent residency if you know what you’re doing. Canada’s immigration laws don’t seem to be quite as “get the hell out” as ours; if you get your residency permit based on the job, you don’t necessarily get kicked out when it ends.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ‘Course, if you do ever get voting rights in Canada, you have to try to get that criminal Harper out of power… Canada has some problems too….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I have just more than enough points, but chances are I’ll go for a temporary work permit instead. It really depends on what’s easier to get.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you have the points, its likely to be worth while to apply for the temporary work permit to go and then permanent residence when you get there. Living in a place for two years is likely to lead to connections, and those connections are much easier to leverage into a job if there are no work permit application hassles attached.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s why you need to be born a Canadian, then you don’t have to swear allegiance… Same for the U.S.

    wu ming Reply:

    is america the only capitalist country in the world? every other developed country has universal health care systems.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. According to Lex, Canada, the UK, France, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Mexico, etc. are not capitalist. Incidentally, Germany’s beating our pants off in terms of industrial production.

    Lex is either trolling or has been ingesting right-wing bullshit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The UK is not capitalist, but Britain is. ;)

    VBobier Reply:

    Lex is delusional, someone get the nets out, He needs a jacket…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’m sure that there are some “disenchanted Democrats” read the Washington Times editorial page as if it is an information source … when switching sides from one political party to the other, its natural to seek out reassurance that you made the right choice. The propaganda outlets are good places to go for that reassurance.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s a lot easier to defend good projects from rabid know-nothings than it is to defend pork-laden corporate welfare scams.

    The “choice” offered by PBQD=CHSRA is between enriching the mafiosi beyond their dreams of avarice by wasting tens of billions on utterly unnecessary pork that makes HSR in California worse, or enriching the mafiosi in some other fashion.

    It’s not a choice between a world class, efficient, and justifiable transportation system against the forces of darkness.

    So how would you like your shit sandwich? With or without dysentery?

    thatbruce Reply:

    Add a bit of sand to diarrhea, and you’ve got an acceptable, if a bit smelly, building material.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’d like my pork with some high-speed trains, thank you very much. Better than military pork, by far.

    Remember, Tammany Hall was popular as long as they got things done. Nobody cared about the graft until it got so large that they actually *failed to finish building the buildings* (Tweed Courthouse).

    Joe Reply:

    There are precisely three problems in the world. All others are trivial or are derived from these three sins.

    Recreational Sex

    Cardinal Richard spreads the word. Abstain from construction. It is sinful and wasteful.
    Ignore all other waste, all other eenses. HSR will weaken the soul and ring it will blind you.

    StevieB Reply:

    The alternative offered by the GOP is to cut taxes, increase military spending, and pay for it by reducing all programs other than the military. This is what the Fresno Tea Party and Kings county has signed onto.

    lex luther Reply:

    so you dont support our troops?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I support’em; I should, my godfather (who is also my uncle) was among the men who waded onto the beaches in Normandy, my own father spent some time in the postwar Philippines, another uncle was a paratrooper assigned to Germany in the Cold War era of the 1950s. Partially thanks to them, I haven’t had to wear the uniform, but I still have my draft card around somewhere.

    And one of the things we should do to support our troops is to try to set things up so this country doesn’t have to fight unless it has to. That includes energy security, and that means getting off oil for transportation–PERIOD!!!!

    That action includes electric or other power-source autos, and it includes rail, in forms ranging from local streetcars to commuter service to regional rail to HSR.

    It’s been said that the big difference between WW II and just about anything else we’ve been in later was that in the 1940s we fought the Axis with the country, while since then we’ve only been using the military.

    Back in the 1940s, meat was rationed, along with sugar and a lot of other things. That included tobacco and booze, and even then, what you could get was considered awful (the production of alcohol by the large distilleries went into explosives, so what was left was the stuff made by smaller, marginal firms.) Silk was rationed or non-existent, to the dismay of women everywhere; ladies’ stockings then were made of silk, which also went into parachutes. Many women, my mother included, tried to get by with leg make-up to make it look like they had stockings; one of the “fun” things about the make-up was that you also had to draw a line up the back of your leg to represent the seam hosiery had then. Nylon wasn’t quite available in large quantities, and some of that went into parachutes, too.

    Even men were “rationed.” Everybody remembers a song called “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” but there was a companion or response song to it that’s not as well known, titled “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old.”

    The big rationing thing everyone remembers from then was gasoline. The rational wasn’t a lack of oil; rather, it was a lack of rubber. Rubber then was almost entirely natural rubber, from rubber tree plantations in the Pacific. Right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese captured all the rubber plantations in the Pacific, which was where we got most of that stuff. At that time, there was very little in the way of a synthetic rubber business; it wasn’t economical at that point. The war changed that, but in the meantime, it would take a minimum of two years to build the synthetic rubber plants and ramp up production, and even then, the military would use a great deal of that.

    What was essential was to make the available natural rubber last as long as possible, and that meant curtailing driving.

    That curtailment was through gasoline rationing. Most people got a book of coupons to turn in at a gas station, and a sticker that denoted how much they could buy. Most people got an “A” sticker, which was good for four gallons per week, later reduced to three. “Essential” war workers got a “B” sticker, good for eight gallons per week. The “C” stickers went to doctors, ministers, mail carriers and railroad workers, a “T” sticker was for truckers, and the rare “X” sticker was–no surprise–for Congressmen and other VIPs.

    Most cars then got maybe 17 to 20 miles per gallon, about the same as a modern SUV. Try driving around on four or three gallons a week today! Tires? Forget about them! One of my neighbors who lived through that said “You couldn’t buy a tire for love or money.”

    On top of that, there was a national speed limit of 35 mph. Do you remember how people squawked at a national 55 mph limit? That’s part of why I think so many of us today are wimps!

    What made this turning away from driving possible was that we still had a strong rail network then. You didn’t need a car for everything; local trolleys, a few interurbans, and trains took up the slack, and not only handled all the new civilian traffic, but something like 75% of all military personnel movements and something like 95% of all freight movements in this time.

    Today we are in another war, but this is one neither we nor anyone else can win in the normal or historic sense. Oil is running out, not completely out (which it will never do), but the easier and cheaper stuff is gone or declining (look up “peak oil”), and everybody else wants what’s left. As powerful as we are, I don’t think we (or you) would want to take on the entire world, and in any event, that would only buy us a little time; sooner than we think, we would run into supply problems again.

    As it is, we are trying to take on the world now; oil is a global commodity bought and sold in a global marketplace. What that means is that our oil goes into that global market, and we buy it out of that market, with the net effect that we are bidding against the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese, the Africans, and everybody else for our own oil, even if that oil never leaves the country.

    Rail is part of what we need to get out of that mess; that’s why I’ve been supporting this and other projects, some quite personally, for 40 years.

    Is HSR expensive? Yes. But I think it’s more expensive, in money and in the lives of our troops, to keep on thinking we can go on with driving and oil as we have for the last 60 or 70 years.

    Jerry Reply:

    DPLubic you correctly point out that
    WWII was Guns OR Butter, and the
    Korean War was Guns OR Butter, but the
    Viet Nam War was Guns AND Butter, and the
    Iraq War was Guns AND Butter AND Tax Cuts,
    and borrow the money from China to pay for it.

    wu ming Reply:

    iraq war was guns NOT butter AND tax cuts.

    StevieB Reply:

    The unpaid expansion of the medicare drug benefits is the Iraq war butter.

    Jonathan Reply:

    False dichotomoy. Don’t feed our little Lex, our new resident troll.

    lex luther Reply:

    False Dichotomy? LOL yet another pseudo-intellectual infesting this blog

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You don’t know what a false dichotomy is?

    wu ming Reply:

    fucking dictionaries, how do they work?

    fake irishman Reply:

    I think Lex was referring to himself with that remark. I do wish the rest of us would force him to up his game a bit before we give him the satisfaction of responding. I mean “Far-left Marxist”? He sounds like the washed-up press secretary for a lunatic GOP state rep phoning it in. I really expect more wit out of trolls. He must have gone to a for-profit college.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    but he’s just a garden variety “disenchated democrat” or so he would like everyone to believe.

    he probably one of the loons in this article

    Jonathan Reply:

    Our new pet Troll is calling me a “pseudo-intellectual” because I called him out on posing a false dichotomy.

    Lex, when you learn what Lower Predicate Calculus (with identity) is, and you can prove it sound and complete via model theory. then we can have a conversation about “pseudo-intellectuals”..
    Or alternatively, when you publish original research which is cited in standard textbooks in your field.

    VBobier Reply:

    My family served in the US Civil War(A Major General in the Union Army, nickname of Pearl), WWII and Vietnam, I oppose unneeded increases in the Military budget designed to procure unneeded Military toys, The Troops will get paid as I have no problem with that, I also have no problem with replacing a 50 Year old Enterprise class Carrier… So don’t tell Me about supporting the Military, I just don’t like Blind Obedience or Blind Patriotism as they both come off as shallow & phony.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The military spending in the US is mostly not going to help our troops; a big hunk of it goes to contractors, and much of the rest goes to fund useless wars (a.k.a. “killing our troops”). The way to support our troops is to (1) bring them home, and (2) treat them decently.

    It would also help to stop spending money on useless expensive technology which can be defeated by guys in caves with improvised explosives, but which makes some corporate execs very rich.

    VBobier Reply:

    And at everyone elses expense too.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A lot of the spending goes to contractors who provide services at bases in foreign countries, where those bases cause more national insecurity from the anti-American feeling they engender than national security they provide from their direct capacities.

    We still have forces left in Germany and Japan from the post-WWII occupations.

    synonymouse Reply:

    GOP posturing today is just that – quotidian, mundane. As they say, “subject to change without notice”.

    Giving away the Ranch for a secondary default path of least political resistance is a 200 year f***-up.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Speaking of GOP posturing, the right side has taken to claiming Obama’s primary one-word slogan, “Forward,” is Communist and Fascist–which is interesting, in that Fascists and Communists were opponents for years, as far as I know still are, and for the most part are polar opposites in terms of political theory:

    Each time I think the Republicans have to have run out of ways to make themselves look silly, they go and surprise me. “Forward,” a very common word in the everyday use of language, is Communist? And Nazi? And at the same time? Good grief!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Calling them “Libbbbbbbbruuuuls” while shaking jowls was wearing out so they had to come up with something. Whole book written about how liberals are fascists. It was applauded widely on the right.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’m not a fan of George Carlin, but he did have an interesting opinion that “when fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jackboots. It will be Nike sneakers and smiley shirts. Smiley-smiley.”

    Actually, I don’t think it will be like that at all. It will come dressed in patriotism, but in reality will be extreme nationalism, militarism, and corporatism, the latter claiming to be capitalism, and all of it leading to authoritarianism, and even the possible resurgence of real racism. Its enemies will be liberalism, which will include atheism, Communism, socialism, feminism, lesbianism, vegitarianism, and nudism. . .did I leave out anything. . .oh, and Catholicism, despite some (cough) Catholic Republican congressmen’s claims that they are directed by their faith. . .until they are reminded of the sermon on the mount, and that the Catholic church takes that part of its mission seriously as well as its (controversial to some) respect for life. . .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A play on Sinclair Lewis’s “When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

    Rick Rong Reply:

    It may also come wrapped in the mantle of “progressivism.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Greenwald… that would be the guy who keeps portraying Ron Paul as a great choice for civil libertarians (which he is, for those who are white and male and Christian and native-born and Southern), and then when questioned on the fact that Paul is a racist tries to change the subject?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, should I say “nice try”? You make as much sense as someone who might try to tie the high speed rail project to targeted assassinations or drone attacks, because the same person and the same administration support them all. I don’t know if Paul is a racist, but Paul isn’t the issue, nor is the issue whether Greenwald approves of the views concerning personal privacy, constitutional rights, and war that, unfortunately, only Ron Paul has expressed during the campaign. The issue was whether “fascism” in the U.S. is something only the Republicans or the right wing have a monopoly on.

    Given your other posts, I am truly astonished that you would take such a cheap shot, but then I guess sooner or later the ad hominem attacks become second nature to some people. Oh, and on that point, so far as I know, Glen Greenwald is neither Christian (his background is Jewish) nor Southern (he was born in New York City), assuming that kind of thing matters to you, nor heterosexual (he is openly gay), either, in case that is something that is important in your handbook on demonology. Before Greenwald became a blogger he was a constitutional and civil rights lawyer, and unlike many people on the left, he has criticized Obama’s abuses of power as strongly as he did those of Bush.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you make a claim with no support other than an appeal to Greenwald as a supporting authority, is an attack on Greenwald’s credibility an argument ad hominem?

    joe Reply:

    The issue was whether “fascism” in the U.S. is something only the Republicans or the right wing have a monopoly on.

    The politically correct answer is BOTH SIDES DO IT. The Greenwald article proves it true. There’s the evidence – by not refuting the GOP’s right wing polices we are at threat by liberals like Obama.

    Plus Liberal Fascism.
    More proof.

    Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism.

    So I have a test and when The Pantload’s right, I know it’s the other way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, Paul is more of a fascist than any of the Patriot Act writers. He just happens to be a fascist for another country, namely the Confederacy. Everyone’s against the enemy’s civil liberties abuses: American neocons are against communist aggression, and vice versa. Mistaking Paul for a civil libertarian is no different from mistaking Pravda for a liberal source.

    Second, I appreciate that Greenwald keeps writing about civil liberties issues, but he has a soft spot for Paul, and he shouldn’t. I know very well that Greenwald is not on Paul’s list of approved people. Neither are many other adoring liberals.

    The problem is the same as what led to this article you’re linking to: Greenwald decided that other liberals don’t really care, so he might as well go ahead and spend his energies defending a Confederate revanchist. It’s professional contrarianism. If he’d cared more about civil liberties and less about his image as a guy who criticizes both sides equally, he’d have spent his energies launching a Feingold for Wisconsin petition six months ago; Feingold could’ve won the recall if he’d decided to run, and this could lead to a Presidential primary run in 2016 by someone who gives a crap about civil liberties even when his country abuses them.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    With regard to the Greenwald article I linked to, for the benefit of those who did not read it, and notwithstanding Mr. Levy’s bizarre posts about Ron Paul, there is nothing in the article that says anything about the confederacy or about Ron Paul. It doesn’t even contain the name “Ron” or the name “Paul,” let alone the name “Ron Paul.”

    I won’t try to explain again the context for my reference to the article or the issue the reference was intended to address; Joe did it admirably well (at 3:16 p.m.).

    To Bruce McF, you seem to suggest that there is no supporting authority. Yet much of Greenwald’s article, which states the proposition that many “progressives” support actions by Obama they once criticized when done by Bush, contains supporting authority in the form of quotations.

    As for whether Mr. Levy was making an ad hominem argument, well yes, he was, even if the article did not contain facts to support Greenwald’s assertions. Essentially, Mr. Levy says that (1) Glen Greenwald has a soft spot for Ron Paul and (2) Ron Paul is a bad guy, therefore (3) anything Greenwald says is discredited. The interesting thing is that Ron Paul is respected by people far removed from him on the political spectrum, people like Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. Does that mean Kucinich and Nader are racist Christian southerners?

    joe Reply:

    I’m not a Ron Paul fan and think he has expressed racists ideas:

    Some samples: A December 1989 newsletter quoted by James Kirchick in the New Republic predicted “Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities” because “mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white ‘haves.’ ”

    Another letter said “I think we can assume that 95 percent of the black men in that city [Washington] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

    An August 1992 edition of the Ron Paul Report labeled former Rep. Barbara Jordan (D) of Texas “the archetypal half-educated victimologist,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

    I’m also old enough to know that most of my generation (and Paul’s) was inherently raised to see race. That doesn’t excuse the above comments and others – Barbara Jordan BTW was awesome and was far smarter than Ron Paul contrarianism.

    Paul consistently defers to the use of private power to advocate private interests. That’s a thread closer to the confederacy which was more egalitarian and had more of america’s millionaires than the North.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @ D. P. Lubic: “When Fascism comes”? Wrong tense. It’s been. Pat Buchanan.
    Republicans even coined a name to hide the frankly Franco-Fascist stance: “Paleo-Conservative”.

    Jonathan Reply:

    D’oh. Duke. How could I forget David Duke?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Kucinich and Nader can be kooks when they want to be; they’re just useful idiots in this case.

    Anyway, the point I’m making is broader. Greenwald makes things up about what liberals support in order to appear evenhanded; he’s boot-licking the libertarians here. The reality is that the civil rights community is livid at what Obama is doing, especially regarding deportations (what? You mean there are civil rights issues that the Paulistas aren’t talking about?). Democratic voters at large support more hawkish foreign policy (including drone attacks) than the most hardcore civil libertarians, but so what? Democratic voters, and self-identified liberals, are not very far left. Never have been. Criticize them for being Bush-lite (and this really is lite: nothing here approaches the scale of devastation caused by the Iraq war), but not hypocritical; it’s the same position they’ve had since 9/11, and it’s still well to the left of the average non-liberal.

    You might as well accuse conservatives on hypocrisy on domestic issues because a fair number of them necessarily support raising the minimum wage (I don’t know specific numbers, but the general population supported it 83-13 in 2006, so there had to be some conservative support).

    Rick Rong Reply:

    To Bruce McF, you raised the question of proper usage of the term “ad hominem. Our soon-to-be Canadian friend has provided a convenient example: “Kucinich and Nader can be kooks when they want to be; they’re just useful idiots in this case.” (10:25 p.m.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As for whether Mr. Levy was making an ad hominem argument, well yes, he was, even if the article did not contain facts to support Greenwald’s assertions. Essentially, Mr. Levy says that (1) Glen Greenwald has a soft spot for Ron Paul and (2) Ron Paul is a bad guy, therefore (3) anything Greenwald says is discredited. The interesting thing is that Ron Paul is respected by people far removed from him on the political spectrum, people like Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. Does that mean Kucinich and Nader are racist Christian southerners?

    Bear in mind that the entirety of the argument was:

    It may also come wrapped in the mantle of “progressivism.”

    That’s it, claim, evidence to back the claim is that Glen Greenwald said so. The tacking on of an actual argument over and above appeal to Glen Greenwald as an authority came later.

    Then you appeal to authority again, appealing to Kucinich and Nader as authorities on the credibility of Ron Paul.

    My reaction here is the same as my original reaction: how do you justify arguing by appeal to authority and then crying “argument ad hominem” when the credibility or relevance of the authorities that you appeal to is questioned? Its not as if you presented an argument that Kucinich and Nader had presented, and then Alon rejected the argument based on the source. The sources of your claim is the support for your argument.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    The article asserted that supporters of the administration are justifying what they had previously condemned. The article supported the assertion by reference to poll results. If you don’t consider the poll results evidence to support the assertion, fine. In any event, I suggested that “fascism” “may also come wrapped in the mantle of ‘progressivism’.” Do you disagree with that comment?

    As for my reference to Kucinich and Nader, it was to show how ludicrous it is to try to tarnish one person’s credibility by associating him with someone else who is supposedly bad. I tried to make the same point by noting how idiotic it would seem to link the high speed rail project to targeted assassinations, even though the administration supports both.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Greenwald… that would be the guy who keeps portraying Ron Paul as a great choice for civil libertarians (which he is, for those who are white and male and Christian and native-born and Southern)”

    Gee, with Ron Paul being a racist and all, I wonder why I saw such a diverse crowd at the Ron Paul speech in Fullerton, CA last night.

    “and then when questioned on the fact that Paul is a racist tries to change the subject?”

    Debunked a long time ago, which is why few people talk about it anymore.

    Of course, in this day and age you are a racist if you have the audacity to talk about racial issues and aren’t 100% in the camp of political correctness, so I don’t take charges of racism very seriously anymore.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As far as going into the content of Greenwald’s argument now, that doesn’t change the fact that its perfectly fair to read the original argument as, “this claim is true because this Glen Greenwald supports it,” given that originally there was nothing to the argument by a claim and a link.

    As for my reference to Kucinich and Nader, it was to show how ludicrous it is to try to tarnish one person’s credibility by associating him with someone else who is supposedly bad.

    That would explain why I found the argument unpersuasive, as I didn’t see Alon as “tarnishing” Greeenwald’s “reputation” by association with Paul ~ but as bringing into question Glen Greenwald’s credibility as an authority.

    I actually disagree with Alon ~ I am not convinced that Ron Paul is a racist. Rather, he was willing to pander to racists is a strategy in promoting his position. This is similar to the recent controversy in which the Romney campaign kept a spokesperson on national security who is openly gay from speaking, because they are pandering to homophobic bigots in their party. That does not prove that Romney is a homophobic bigot himself.

    However, pandering to bigotry and prejudice is sufficiently despicable behavior for me.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bruce, it’s not just pandering. Paul is clearly losing support due to this, and yet he tries to sell people the story that he wasn’t responsible for letters published under his name. The very least he could do, name the person who did write them and publicly dissociate himself from him, he hasn’t done.

    And let’s not talk about his idiotic opinions about the Civil War and WW2. The US has done plenty of bad things that it’s okay to realize that the South and the Nazis really were the aggressors. (He will never act the same way toward atrocities committed by communists; he supported Star Wars. Apparently, it’s okay to maintain a national security state when the enemy does not enslave blacks or slaughter Jews. Every single thing David Frum wrong about those people is true.)

    And Rick, you’re using the term ad hominem wrong. Hell, what you’re doing with bringing up Kucinich and Nader is an ad hominem defense: good people support Paul, so supporting him can’t be all that bad. (Except, those aren’t good people.)

    If you trace the comments I’ve written in this subthread, you’ll see that I explain briefly where Greenwald is wrong, and spend a lot of time explaining what leads him to write such inane articles. This is the relevance of his Paulista support.

    Spokker Reply:

    Alon certainly has the upper hand because charges of racism apply to a broad spectrum of opinions and statements, up to and including simply stating what you’ve observed, and racism is inherently bad. It’s this bad thing that apparently comes from nowhere and if you’ve got it, you are deserving of scorn and ridicule. It’s an emotionally charged term and an emotional argument will almost always win out. Actual racists being called racist (someone who would, for example, deny an otherwise qualified black individual a job because of his skin color) is getting more and more rare. It more or less applies mostly to those who would enjoy a racial joke or criticize a group, regardless of the content or merit of the argument.

    Anyway, if exploring hypothetical scenarios in which the Civil War could have been avoided is tantamount to racism and lunacy, California taxpayers may want to get a load of what they are teaching at CSU. Ron Paul’s argument that the Civil War could have been avoided was something I studied in my American Economic History course during undergrad, and it wasn’t presented with any sort of disdain. It was meant to highlight the cost of war versus the economic value of slaves (literal human capital, some joked).

    Other things were learned that should not be uttered among polite company. Slaves were treated poorly but not as bad as those in the awareness business have suggested. Only 7% of all Africans who were forcibly taken to the Americas ended up in the United States. 4 million were packed up and sent to Brazil. Here’s the fun part. By 1825, the U.S. contained 36% of all slaves in the Western Hemisphere, and Brazil 31%. This implied better treatment. High fertility rates and low mortality rates.

    We both agree that slavery was a human rights issue and agree with its abolition. Alon, on the other hand, is going to have way more friends. I concede the debate to Alon, of course. There is no way you are going to win allies by stating the fact that slavery was not the domain of racist whites and was above all an economic engine of growth for the United States. In Africa, slavery was also militaristic policy designed to demoralize your opponent by reducing them to slaves, but ask King Ghezo about that shit.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Apparently I hit a nerve. Alon Levy wrote, about my reference to Greenwald, “that would be the guy who keeps portraying Ron Paul as a great choice for civil libertarians (which he is, for those who are white and male and Christian and native-born and Southern),” thus suggesting that Ron Paul would be a great choice for civil libertarians who are white, male, Christian, native-born, and Southern.

    Yet several people I have referred to do not fall so conveniently into that category, which is one of the points of mentioning Greenwald’s background: he is neither Christian nor Southern, nor is Kucinich or Nader southern. And I don’t think anyone with a straight face can accuse Greenwald, Kucinich, or Nader of being racist. I wasn’t stating, as Alon implies, that “good people support Paul, so supporting him can’t be all that bad.” I didn’t say that at all.

    But for some reason he feels the need to attack Kucinich and Nader, calling them kooks and useful idiots, but not explaining why he makes that claim, and now says that “those aren’t good people,” again without explanation. Apparently there is something about Greenwald, Nader, and Kucinich that Alon Levy doesn’t like, but it certainly cannot be because they are racist, or southern, or Christian, or white, male, or native-born.

    Spokker Reply:

    Rick Rong, Ron Paul is great for whites as well as others, which is why his speech in Fullerton was well attended and diverse.

    “Teenage and twentysomething whites locked arms with their Latino and Asian brethren, forming an amen chorus for all of Paul’s high spots, during a nearly 50-minute speech that made only vague references to an official campaign, thanks to GOP voters who have pretzeled themselves into voting for the flip-flopping Mormon with great hair.

    Among the faithful was Tahmina Habi, a 25-year-old Irvine resident (and genuine Muslim babe!), who came out of the closet Wednesday night. (Many of her friends and family presumably didn’t know she was a Paul disciple.)

    “I think everybody just found out today,” she said. “I think he’s brilliant.

    Habi supports Paul because he wants to repeal the Patriot Act and scrap the Internal Revenue Service. “

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Spokker, just out of curiousity, are you “white and male and Christian and native-born and Southern”?

    Spokker Reply:

    White: Half
    Male: Yes
    Christian: No
    Native-born: Yes (Grandparents were not)
    Southern: No

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Romney gets some working-class support. His support from the white working class this election is going to be a lot higher than Paul’s support from minorities. Does it mean Romney is not anti-worker and pro-upper class?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Although the anecdote in the link is about upper-class whiners, the same is true for a large section of the white middle class. There are a fair number of middle-class white Americans who think that they are an oppressed class, and act accordingly. They discount racists and panderers as just people who are speaking truth to power, as if Ron Paul and his ilk are some tragic Malcolm X-like characters.

    There are, I believe, three big parts to this. First, the belief that there’s not much actual racism anymore. (Hello, Trayvon?) Typically, it’s strongest in people who have never been on the receiving side of it. People who’ve never dated native-born North Americans who had family and friends saying behind their backs, “How dare you date an atheist immigrant?” People who’ve seen a little bit of overt discrimination coming from affirmative action and conclude it’s worse than the covert discrimination in the usual direction.

    Second, the related belief that there aren’t actual racists. Paul is just pandering, they say. (So was George Wallace, who as a judge in the mid-50s treated black lawyers unusually respectfully.) Supposedly, no employer is a racist and no judge or juror is a racist, and to call people on this is to deny them their freedom of speech.

    And third, the belief that there’s something radical about telling the white middle class that its prejudices are okay and something oppressively mainstream about saying the reverse. It’s this sort of professional contrarianism that imagines what power is and then attacks it. Speaking truthiness to power is really popular, but has a knack for making you think you’re being brave.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    It’s really remarkable how you can turn anything into an introduction to a criticism of Ron Paul, who, for those who didn’t read the Krugman link, is not mentioned there at all, let alone that you take something that is about “upper-class whiners,” as you put it, and then apply it the the “white middle class” to whom it seems you suggest that Ron Paul “and his ilk,” “racists and panderers) are pandering.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s really remarkable how when I say “the anecdote in the link is about upper-class whiners” and then explain how a similar attitude permeates the white middle class, you think it’s necessary to repeat that the link is in fact about the upper class.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I won’t dig in on the rest of this, but Spokker, I’ve studied the Civil War heavily enough to know that the North had no way of avoiding it. The South could have, of course, but the Southern elite *chose* not to. The Confederacy really was the aggressor, and the more you dig into the details, the more blatantly obvious it is.

    For one plain example, it is pretty well settled in international law that when you secede, you don’t get to take federal military forts with you. (Consider the sheer number of forts the US and Britain retain from the places we’ve ‘decolonized’.) It may have been less well settled then, but it was generally a matter of negotiation. Confederacy’s reaction: fire on Fort Sumter.

    You think you could have stopped the Civil War earlier? You have to look at the history. Numerous plans for gradual abolition were proposed. By the time of the Civil War, Southern Senators were openly demanding the *expansion* of slavery. This is what the entire Kansas-Nebraska debacle was about.

    Southern gangs were already kidnapping free blacks from the north to sell them into slavery. The Dred Scott decision by the Southern-dominated racist Supreme Court drastically overreached the actual case at hand, to rule that (among other things) kidnapping and enslaving free blacks was OK, and the government was required to allow slavery in all the territories!

    The only way for the North to avoid the Civil War would have been for the North to surrender outright to the South and allow the reimposition of slavery everywhere, all the way to Massachusetts. And that was not going to happen.

    After studying it, I ended up agreeing with William Tecumseh Sherman; the rich slaveholders of South Carolina who started the war needed to be crushed beyond any chance of recovery, their livelihoods destroyed, their houses burned, their farms seized. Lincoln was too generous and we ended up with Nathan Bedford Forrest organizing the KKK.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    No, I’m just expressing my admiration how you can take anything and use it as a basis for a polemic about Ron Paul. Just amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could take a time table or a grocery list and use it to similar effect.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Except I’m not using the Krugman post as a basis for a polemic about Ron Paul. I’m using it as a basis for a polemic about a certain class of moderates, which includes some people who are charmed by Paul and are prone to making asinine statements about political correctness.

    I wish it were just Paulista kooks. They’re 15-20% of the US, which is manageable. But the same view is common among swing voters, the middle class, and other social groups that politicians actually give a crap about.

    Spokker Reply:


    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, I’m trying to decypher your post. Evidently, you say that there is a “certain class of moderates,” meaning, I suppose, some but not all moderates, and that that class “includes” people whom Paul charms and who “are prone to making asinine statements about political correctness.” What isn’t clear is whether you are saying that all people who are charmed by Paul make “asinine statements” or just some of them.
    Then you relink Ron Paul and kookiness, and say they represent 15-20% of the US. But then you go on to say “the view,” which apparently is a reference to “asinine statements about political correctness,”is “common” among not only swing voters and other social groups, but among the “middle class.”
    Now I guess you are suggesting that either all or most Ron Paul supporters are “kooks” and “prone to making asinine statements about political correctness.” If so, I suggest you reread Spokker’s post about the Fullerton rally.
    In fact, it seems the vast majority of those who have been drawn to Ron Paul are attracted, not by whatever statements concerning race may have been attributed to him, but by his views on the constitution, on civil liberties, on personal freedom, on the “Patriot” Act, and on American militarism and foreign policy. Many, if not most, of those people are young, as well. If you are calling the majority of Ron Paul “kooks” and suggesting that they are making asinine statements about political correctness, then I suggest you are the one who is being asinine.

    VBobier Reply:

    Give up Syno, You’ve lost, admit defeat…

    Joe Reply:

    Wedge issues:
    Birth control.
    Public schools.
    Minimum wage.
    Climate and global change.
    The Presidents eligibility to hold office

    I propose that there are scant few thinks Dems can propose that would not become a wedge issue.

    The continuation of HSR to spend the Arra funds is not a blank check or blind endorsement of the Contractors first draft.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Lessee ~ a Democratic President proposes the Republican Health Care Reform cooked up in the 90’s as part of the campaign to kill “ClintonCare”, and suddenly what was a “Demand that People be Responsible for Themselves” turns into “Socialized Medicine”.

    Anything can be made into a partisan fight if you count on your base electorate to believe that we have always been fighting Eurasia, while counting on unaffiliated low information voters to be swayed by a flood of TV advertising in the last month before an election.

    joe Reply:

    I agree.

    The best way to negotiate a compromise is to propose your plans and work to pass them without the opposition’s help. Mock them and highlight the differences. FDR did it and so did Truman: IN response here was the 1956 1956 Republican Party platform:

    “The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

    Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;

    Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;

    Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;

    Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;

    Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;

    Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;

    Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

    Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

    Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

    Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public.

    The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is what they said. What they actually did: zero progress on equal pay for women; slow profess on civil rights for blacks; a poverty rate that was stuck at 30% during an economic boom.

    joe Reply:

    I agree – GOP moves to the right of whatever is the current Dem position which is why Obama’s unilateral concessions are STOOPID.

    BUT when the opposition uses your talking points, you are winning. Obama’s talk about deficits and big government, like Clinton’s, is losing the debate. It reenforces the opposition’s world view and makes advancements in your core values difficult (that is if the Dem leadership actually agrees with the rank and file – the don’t).

    Nathanael Reply:

    But at least the pressure from New Deal Democrats got us the Eisenhower-era tax rates (92% top bracket).

    I don’t think you and Joe disagree, and I agree with both of you.

    VBobier Reply:

    The US needs a return to higher rates of at least 70%, although 92% might be a tad high.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What matters is that its progressive enough to result in a net progressive system overall, which is required for economic stability.

    Payroll income taxes, with the current temporary 2% payroll tax cut, at 13.3% up to the OASDI cap at (presently) around $106,000, dropping at that point by 10.9% to 2.9%. An extra 10.6% at that bracket would be required to keep total income tax rates neutral.

    Nominal rates of 70% were top rates in a system of a large number of graduated brackets, and those relatively few people with incomes so high that they are dominated by the top bracket typically find ways to direct their incomes in ways that attract tax breaks, so the tax incidence could well be 50% or less.

    But there is a very clever game that can be played of a “tax reform” of closing loopholes and dropping the tax rate, and then over the next decade or two opening new tax loopholes, then another “tax reform” of closing loopholes and dropping the rate, … repeat as necessary to get tht top rate as low as possible.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    repeat as necessary to get tht top rate as low as possible.

    Like the tax reforms of 1986?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yup. Since 1980, the only step I can recall that we took that was a step toward a more progressive tax structure, and so make a more stable economic system less prone to violent booms and busts, was the Clinton “10% surtax” on millionaires. I wasn’t in the country when Bush rolled it back, but roll it back he did.

    But at the same time in the 90’s the Republicans and Democrats were rolling back our Depression-era protections against commercial banks engaging in financial speculation, and so we got the dot-com bubble anyway. And when the bubble burst, the reaction was more “financial deregulation”, with the predictable result hitting us in the global financial meltdown in 2008.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think we do disagree. The Eisenhower administration was simply not good on matters of socioeconomic equality. It looks good today because, in hindsight, people tend to confuse similar eras together, and they lump 1945-1973 into one postwar era of prosperity. In reality there was a phase of “what’s good for the US is good for GM and vice versa,” of big union-big business collusion, of restrictions on strikes, of a poverty rate that stayed still despite growth. Then there was a phase of an expanding welfare state, in which the poverty rate went down and new social programs and strong civil rights laws were enacted. The progress did not come out of any postwar elite consensus; it came out of the breakdown in that consensus, the one that said all the right things about everything but then declared the race problem should be dealt with in all deliberate speed.

    Andrew Reply:

    It really has become quite your habit to convey the false impression of authoritative knowledge:

    “The Eisenhower administration was simply not good on matters of socioeconomic equality.”

    There can only be one reason for the word ‘simply’ in that sentence, you know what it is. Reflect for a moment on what reasonable people conclude about those who engage in such artful rhetoric and purport to have special expertise in exactly everything. Enough.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Andrew, for future reference, when you want to do a tear down, pick a time when you’re right.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The 92% rates applied to levels which are, inflation-adjusted, more than a million dollars a year in income.

    Sure, people with a “mere” 2 million a year in income could shelter their income and pay less. But that’s not who these rates are targeted at.

    These rates are targeted at looting, thieving corporate executives who are walking off with $50-100 million per year stolen from their companies. They can’t hide enough of it to stay out of the top tax bracket.

    This matters. A lot.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I want to say that the super-rich managed to avoid taxation (which is why the alternative minimum tax was eventually created), but there was less excessive wealth then so it mattered less.

    That said… these amounts of money are just power anyway, and the top execs had that in droves. Jane Jacobs believed that some of the impetus for declaring functional neighborhoods as slums was the Rockefellers’ desire to redevelop them at a profit. It still happens today, but less often.

    Krugman et al are right that there’s been a remarkable rise in income inequality measured in the income of the top 1% or even higher, and the 1950s were fine on that metric. But on other measures, like the experience of the bottom 20%, the big progress was in the New Deal and then again in the 1960s.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I think we do disagree. The Eisenhower administration was simply not good on matters of socioeconomic equality.

    Nor are today’s Democrats.

    And there is a difference between the sympathies of an administration and the institutions in place. The ability of workers to organize and fight for a fair share of productivity gains under an administration unsympathetic to labor in the 1950’s was substantially greater than the ability of workers to organize and fight for a fair share of productivity gains under an administration sympathetic to labor today.

    Spokker Reply:

    Wage gap is a myth.

    Women generally make 77 cents for every dollar men make. Female business owners make less than half of what male business owners make. Are women discriminating against themselves? No, they have a different value system.

    The state of blacks is in the hands of progressives and democrats, and where they reign supreme, like California, progress is also slow.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The pay gap is not a myth. If you study it carefully, you find much of it is due to the “glass ceiling” where women are prevented from getting to the “looting level” of top CEO.

    And plenty of them do want to. Claiming that women “have a different value system” is sexist bullshit.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, the article’s full of even more discredited nonsense on top of that.

    It’s been documented that when more women go into a profession, THE PAY GOES DOWN. Nursing was a high-paid profession when it was “mostly male”, then low-paid when it was “mostly female”, and as men are going back into it, the pay is going up again. Secretaries are an even more dramatic example.

    This is another huge, huge portion of the pay gap.

    And of course women are systematically excluded from a bunch of those “most dangerous” jobs (ever read about the sexism in logging work? yeah.) Claiming that women “choose” not to go into these jobs is willful, sexist ignorance of the facts.

    Now, it’s pointed out that unmarried women without children earn more than married women. Well, why don’t unmarried men without children earn more than married men? *Because employers expect married men to force their wives to do all the housework and childcare*, but do not expect married women to force their husbands to do all the housework and childcare.

    And here we have the third part of the pay gap. Voila.

    In the bottom of the economic scale, where men and women both have to work in every family, where women are starting to demand that men pick up their fair share of the housework, the pay gap is going away. It persists at richer levels of the economy (dominated by older people, perhaps?) and where men are allowed to skate on housework and childcare.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and as men are going back into it, the pay is going up again.

    Or more men are going into it because the pay is going up.

    Because employers expect married men to force their wives to do all the housework and childcare

    Because people in management, whatever their sex, are making enough money to let the spouse stay at home ( or hire a part time housekeeper, landscaper etc ) And because a significant portion of the people who make it into management have no life outside of work and think 60 hour weeks are a great thing.

    Spokker Reply:

    “And because a significant portion of the people who make it into management have no life outside of work and think 60 hour weeks are a great thing.”

    Which suggests a different value system, and if there are generally men who reside in these positions and think this way and have no lives outside of work, it’s sexist to even utter such a possibility that men and women think differently. Hell, you could even blame it on culture. And maybe it’s men who are the victims of society’s pressure to chain them to a desk for 50 years to take care of a family he slowly comes to resent before dropping dead from a stress-induced heart attack (patriarchy sure did work for him!).

    But that’s the way things are and it’s not some conspiratorial patriarchy keeping women down, which is what a lot of these arguments start to sound like after awhile. But I’ll concede that we are not in Tumblr territory yet.

    “where men are allowed to skate on housework and childcare.”

    “Allowed” to skate? Please. People come together in a relationship and if they are mature adults they agree to how they want to live their lives together. Those who fail to have even the modicum of discussion about their lives together will see these kinds of conflicts and have no sympathy from me.

    I’ve discussed these things in my own relationship. I want a woman who works and my woman wants a man who works, and we both want to keep up the home. But to imply that an old school traditional relationship is somehow inherently bad is ridiculous. Though not all women want that, some are going to want that, and you’re going to see a wage gap emerge as a direct consequence of those individual decisions.

    “*Because employers expect married men to force their wives to do all the housework and childcare*, but do not expect married women to force their husbands to do all the housework and childcare.”

    Where does this come from? Nobody can force anyone else to do anything. The wage gap often cited is the result of the voluntary interactions of consenting adults.

    If it were only discrimination at work we might see these fair pay laws actually work to close that gap. If law after law is passed to ensure fair pay, and it does not happen, then what? At that point, the only way to achieve equal pay is to pay women more for less work.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Claiming that women “have a different value system” is sexist bullshit.”

    Men and women generally think differently. As with many controversial statements the issue is not the veracity of the claim but whether or not it should be acknowledged openly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Female business owners make less than half of what male business owners make.

    Discrimination isn’t just an employer-employee relationship. It’s access to an old boys’ network, social capital, and sufficient funding to start a successful business. It’s social approval of a workaholic lifestyle.

    These social networks are really good at creating toxic atmospheres. All you need is one asshole referring to a more talented woman than he is as “She’s not one of us” and other people who acquiesce. The same way we treat trolls, those people treat people who are not like them in race (modulo tokenism) or gender or social background.

    On top of it, when a woman isn’t perfect, it’s much easier to criticize her gender. It happens here, too. By my count, more people here have called Elizabeth Liz, a name by which she has never identified here, than have called Richard Dick. This despite the fact that both are quite controversial here (Elizabeth may have a few more detractors, but just a few), and Richard’s attitude is such that calling him Dick has another layer of epithet.

    If it were only discrimination at work we might see these fair pay laws actually work to close that gap. If law after law is passed to ensure fair pay, and it does not happen, then what?

    If there’s no wage gap, then it means there’s no sexism anymore. If there’s still a wage gap, it means that women just want to work less and there’s no sexism anymore.

    Spokker Reply:

    “On top of it, when a woman isn’t perfect, it’s much easier to criticize her gender. It happens here, too.”

    Well, she has actual arguments and points to make, and those who give her the business generally do not. So when you don’t have a point to make you insult someone based on what you know about them. They know she’s female. They also know she lives on the Peninsula. But then again, since when did calling someone by a common nickname an insult?

    By the way, if Elizabeth is getting shit for her gender here as you claim, it would be very shady of me to mention that it’s *probably* the left-leaning HSR supporters, who would probably call out a right-leaning guy on his sexism, giving her shit. I’m just putting it out there.

    I, on the other hand, am wholly and unrepentantly unsympathetic to gender issues and I personally admire “Liz” for her background in econometrics and statistics and courage to speak out publicly against what she feels is a bad project. And she is attractive doing it. I’ve said all this before.

    “If there’s no wage gap, then it means there’s no sexism anymore. If there’s still a wage gap, it means that women just want to work less and there’s no sexism anymore.”

    There’s still a wage gap.

  4. Nathanael
    May 1st, 2012 at 15:19

    Oh! I noticed that Patterson is making stuff up in order to excuse his about-face.

    The 1990s project was planned to go along the same corridor as the current project (Hwy 99 / BNSF). It was not supposed to be “paid for with private funds” any more than the current project.

    joe Reply:

    The Etch_A_SketchPOLITICIAN is controlled by the two large knobs, one of which moves political viewpoints vertically and the other to the Right and Extreme Right; turning both knobs simultaneously creates diagonal drawings Political stances. To erase the picture, the artist Party turns the toy Politician upside down and shakes it him.

  5. VBobier
    May 1st, 2012 at 20:24

    I find it kind of strange that HSR like the CHSRA is called a boondoggle cause it’s supported by Government and yet if HSR is supported by Private Industry/Evil Big Banks it’s not.

    I say build HSR.

    lex luther Reply:

    lol thats because spending public money is different than spending private money. nobody really cares if the rich want to pay for something on their own

    Andy M. Reply:

    Only that private money does not equate to the rich spending their own money on their own, but to banks and pension funds gambling with your money and asking the government to bail them out when they fail.

    VBobier Reply:

    And that’s hypocracy in action…

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ VBobier

    “Private Industry/Evil Big Banks” building hsr would not create a boondoggle because they would not allow it to be politicized nor turned into a welfare project.

    A private entrepreneur would build out Tejon, I-5, and Altamont and try like hell to keep it non-union.

    VBobier Reply:

    No actually they would see no Profit there, They’d go where the money is at, You just can’t see beyond Yer preconceptions, ignorance and therefore are a fool.

    Nathanael Reply:

    An entrepeneur (Elon Musk type) might do things that way.

    But “Private Industry / Evil Big Banks” are, these days, generally NOT entrepeneurs, they are at best what economists call rent-seekers, and at worst outright frauds. There’s a huge difference. If they could manage it, they would collect a lot of “investor” funding for the project, and then walk away with the money without building a damned thing.

  6. Brian
    May 1st, 2012 at 21:06

    If we stopped paying for roads and required the cost of roads be directly added to gas and car purchases then Americans would be screaming for rail, but since road construction is ‘hidden’ in the budget and distributed through state and federal agencies it’s not easy to track. Rail cost are always put upfront and even though its less then we spend on roads its a clear and easy target without and established corporate or entrenched political interest. Actually you know HSR is the High-speed train to communism, its true if your republican after 2hrs on the CHSR you’ll change your registration to Democratic party (actually closet socialist). It’s so ridiculous that we have these crazy discussions and biases about rail, if we had honest and open debates of cost for roads cost for rail etc rail would easily be authorized.

  7. Andrew
    May 2nd, 2012 at 07:57

    Somebody at the WSJ gets it: Trading a Backyard for a Train Station


    Tom and Pat Kelly spent 22 years living what many people consider the American dream: They owned a four-bedroom home with a pool and a big yard in Turnersville, N.J. They traded that in to live near a train station.

    With two of their three children living on their own, the couple no longer wanted to spend time raking leaves, shoveling snow and doing other maintenance their large home required. So they moved to LumberYard, a mixed-use condominium development near their son’s and daughter’s homes and within walking distance of the local train station.

    Now, instead of spending two or more hours commuting daily in his red Volkswagen Beetle, Mr. Kelly, 56, hops on the Patco high-speed train line and gets to his Philadelphia law-firm job across the Delaware River in about a half-hour. “It’s just a much more enjoyable life,” he says.

    joe Reply:

    New Jersey lost a chance to improve rail with NYC.

    Report Faults Christie’s Tunnel Numbers
    Christie Slammed for Tunnel Cost Estimate

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his cancellation of a rail tunnel across the Hudson River Tuesday, as Democrats seized on a federal report suggesting he ignored his own transit agency’s conservative cost projections to kill the project.

    But the GAO found the state’s direct share would have been $1.3 billion, or 14% of the project’s total, as of an April 2010 analysis. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was expected to cover 35% of the funding for the tunnel. The federal government would pay the rest.

    Few expect the GAO report to revive the ARC plan. Mr. Drewniak said the plan is “dead.” Other experts were looking forward to a new plan to help ease rail congestion, and to provide relief so that the existing, decades-old Hudson River tunnels can be maintained.

    “ARC’s behind us,” said Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association, in an email message. “We look forward to working with all of the region’s leaders to advance sorely needed trans-Hudson capacity; we’re happy that there are a number of options with potential out there; we’d like to see them studied.”

    Mr. Lautenberg and others have thrown their support behind a new effort, Amtrak’s Gateway Project. It would add tunnels, with two new rail tracks, across the Hudson River. Unlike ARC, though, it lacks federal and state funding, except for a $15 million federal appropriation to study the concept.

    Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota has endorsed Gateway as the best bet to improve access to Manhattan from New Jersey and to relieve overcrowding at Penn Station, the busiest passenger rail station in the country.

    Gateway’s total cost could reach $13 billion to $15 billion, an official said.

    The alternative project has no federal support. It’s 10 times more expensive.

    Our Calif. LAO would say it’s feckless to plan rail projects without knowing the full source of all needed funding. I hope, for NJ’s sake, they don’t listen to our LAO.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The alternative project has no federal support. It’s 10 times more expensive.

    The alternative is only 30 to 50 percent more expensive. ARC was budgeted for 10 billion, New Jersey would have had to come up with 1.4 billiion. The 30 to 50 percent more expensive option will have less capacity than the cheaper option.

    Reedman Reply:

    My understanding is that the rational, cost-effective alternative
    is extending the #7 subway line west under the
    Hudson — it will cost half of what the original project was going to cost, has equal
    passenger capacity, and would provide direct access to Grand Central Terminal.
    This doesn’t change Penn Station’s train capacity, however, but it solves the problem by
    moving people on a completely different system (subway) than the trains.
    The “train people” don’t consider this a solution.
    Interestingly, Amtrak’s Gateway proposal also includes extending the #7 subway,
    in Gateway’s case, extending #7 east to Penn Station.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s not really a solution; Amtrak needs to run trains *through* NYC while NJT needs to run trains at least into Manhattan; the #7 line simply wouldn’t have enough capacity to absorb all the transfers from NJT.

    There are good solutions. The original study said that “Alternative G”, two new tunnels to Penn Station plus a pair of tunnels from Penn Station to GCT lower level would actually reduce operating costs as well as being the most effective. It also advised equipping trains to make NJT-MetroNorth and NJT-LIRR run-throughs.

    Nobody in power has seriously considered these options, perhaps because of the expensive real estate at the corner of Park Avenue and 34th Street (which would need to be tunnelled under), or perhaps because Metro-North, LIRR, and NJT are incapable of cooperating with each other.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was all a plot by August Belmont

    Run trains south from the lower level of Grand Central. You’ll really piss off the people in Queens who can’t use the Flushing line to get to Manhattan anymore.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I believe the #7 line station was found to be deep enough that you can just run over it. The Lexington Line is actually more of a problem.

    joe Reply:

    For the Citizens of NJ, the cost is ten times greater.

    The awesome XXXL szied Gov of NJ has save his state a pantload of money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gateway is an Amtrak project. New Jersey hasn’t been asked to contribute any money to it. Not directly anyway. Money Amtrak gets comes from somewhere, including New Jersey.

    joe Reply:


    Mr. Lautenberg and others have thrown their support behind a new effort, Amtrak’s Gateway Project. It would add tunnels, with two new rail tracks, across the Hudson River. Unlike ARC, though, it lacks federal and state funding, except for a $15 million federal appropriation to study the concept.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And it can continue to lack state funding forever and ever and ever.

    joe Reply:

    Example of state funded improvements to amtrack:

    DRPT is changing that. Using state Rail Enhancement funds, DRPT is working with Norfolk Southern, CSX and Amtrak to extend Richmond’s Amtrak Virginia regional service, which began in July 2010, to Norfolk. When complete, residents in and around Norfolk will have a one-seat ride from Norfolk as far north as Boston. The estimated start date for this new service is 2012.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And from Houston, Tx., we have the pattern showing up as well:

    Besides the usual hot-headed comments, we have a couple of interesting things in the article itself. One that stood out for me was a survey result that just over half the people in this survey were in favor of a different Houston, one that I would interpret looked like a pre-car city:

    “This year’s Kinder Houston Area Survey found strong support for mass transit and a growing number of people who say they want to live within walking distance of work and shopping, reflecting what survey founder Stephen Klineberg predicts will become a fundamental shift in one of the nation’s most car-centric cities.

    “It’s not just $4-a-gallon gas, he said.

    “The suburbs were beautiful when only a few of us were living out there,” he said. “The romance with the automobile is fading.”


    “Just more than half of people – 51 percent – said they would choose a smaller home within walking distance of workplaces and shops, rather than a single-family home with a big yard, which required driving almost everywhere they wanted to go.

    “That was up from 39 percent in 2010, the last time the question was asked.”

    fake irishman Reply:

    A blockbuster light-rail line there — which is about to be expanded drastically — seems to be changing people’s minds there. That and being stuck in traffic Too bad Tom Delay and John Culberson did everything they could to stop rail there — and ended up delaying it by at least five years, maybe 10.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a world of difference between urban light rail on a major transit corridor(most likely enjoyed streetcar service in years past)and the Stilt-A-Rail non-viable mutation of hsr.

    Recall there is currently zero service over the Loop and what lasted until 1971 was the San Francisco Chief to points east, not LA.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There is a world of difference between urban light rail on a major transit corridor

    True as far as that goes, but recall that everything rail–from local streetcar to HSR–has been given the Communism-socialism-liberalism label for years, and that much of that came from Texas (cough, cough) “conservatives.” That’s part of what makes this so interesting, even when you allow that Kay Bailey Hutchinson was a surprising Amtrak supporter.

    fake irishman Reply:

    Thanks for grasping my point. Also, Hutchinson was generally supportive of light rail in Houston at the time (and still is).

    joe Reply:

    HSR from Fort Worth to Houston.
    “The Texas Central Railway is trying to raise $10 billion in private money to build a high-speed rail line from Fort Worth to Houston.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not all of them grasp the concept yet.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The anti-rail crowd, including Wendell Cox, tried to argue that this nonsense made light rail “unsafe,” and from a statistical standpoint, it looked true; indeed, the accident rate was, perhaps still is, worse than the bus line that used to run there. Left unsaid was the fact that Houston drivers must be much worse than average; I recall reading that this segment of the light rail line averaged six wrecks PER DAY before the light rail line was built, and that the Houston metro area also suffered something like 600 traffic fatalities per year–almost two per day! At that time Baltimore was having severe trouble with 300 homicides per year.

    I ought to check out the per-capita rate, but it seems to me autos are a bigger killer than criminals, and potentially are to be feared more.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    While on the subject of car wrecks, we have more on that van that went off a bridge and landed in a zoo in the Bronx:

    What stands out is that while this is certainly a very tragic incident, there is no criticism of a driver going 18 mph over the speed limit of 50 mph. Keep in mind that 50-mph limit is on a road and bridge opened in the 1920s, and is in a major city, presumably with a heavy traffic flow.

    I don’t know about NYC or New York state police practices, but in West Virginia and in a lot of other places, the normal tolerance for overspeed operation is 5 mph; this woman’s running over 18 mph is more than triple that. Why isn’t that mentioned?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The part near the Zoo is from the 50s.

    There’s no shoulder, no place for the cops to set up a speed trap.

    Spokker Reply:

    They are too shy to take licenses away from bad drivers. They end up driving anyway, but at least you can take the car away if they get caught again.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Spokker

    You’re gonna love this story:

    Meanwhile in same issue of SF Chron(today’s)it is reported that Quentin Kopp and Aaron Peskin have come out against the Muni Central Suxway. Ordinarily I am Quentin’s worst critic but in this instance he is right on. The plan is truly defective – 3rd & Kearny was always the route of choice and would have been cheaper and more serviceable. Gerry Cauthen, if I recall correctly, pushed for a dual-purpose design – if you had to go with 4th & Stockton – that would have allowed buses as well as streetcars to use this very short tunnel. At least you could have routed the 30 Stockton thru the very expensive facility. Alas, no way.

    Now they are stuck, supposedly in Columbus Avenue at Washington Square, altho I cannot figure out why they would want to turn left as Columbus Avenue is all downhill from there and I would guess in very dubious geology. Might as well proceed straight ahead in deep tunnel to the Wharf down Stockton St thru Telegraph Hill.

    Spokker Reply:

    Good story synononmous but I’m not sure why you thought I would specifically love this story!

    Nathanael Reply:

    God, is there any advocate of rail transportation who likes the “Central Subway”? The design is feroociously bad. First, it’s extremely expensive, and second, due to the misbalanced loads, it will essentially provide a one-stop shuttle from Chinatown to the already-overcrowded Market St. subway, followed by a lot of excessive redundant service east of there. And it can’t practically be extended anywhere useful beyond Chinatown, either.

    I guess if you abandon the Transbay Terminal and terminate all the HSR and electrified Caltrains at 4th and King, the Central Subway would suddenly seem more useful….

    But we’re talking about the people who managed to make the T-Third terminus miss Caltrain Bayshore due to lack of coordination.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I have seen worse and worse and worse driving lately, and I really wonder if anyone’s license ever gets taken away for ANYTHING.

  8. trentbridge
    May 2nd, 2012 at 16:06

    Obviously the term “socialist” is loosely applied to anything here promoted by the Government. I was born in a country that became “socialist” before I reached my first birthday. The coal industry was owned by the state as was the steel industry, the railroad industry, the airline industry and the electrical industry and the health industry. I even voted – when old enough – for the socialist government. I know socialism. Building a high-speed railroad across the central valley is not – nor ever will be – “socialism”. Socialism is “owning the means of production”. Buying CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Kansas Southen etc. outright would be socialism. The people would own the railroad industry.
    Is Nevada socialist? EIGHTY-FOUR PERCENT of Nevada is “owned by the Federal Government”. SIXTY-NINE PERCENT of Alaska, and FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT of Utah. Are they socialist states?
    “The United States government has direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land (2.63 million square kilometers) – nearly 30% of its total territory. ”

    Apparently – if you say its for “military purposes” – it’s not socialism. I, for one, can see that CAHSR would be an ideal way for the Governor to move large concentrations of National Guard troops around the state – rapildy and efficiently. I say build it – our state needs this military option!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Check out the warning that this is a “socialist” plot in the comments from the WSJ piece; the author has particularly harsh words for building construction and railroads in California:

    ‘”OneBayArea” is the “vision” being pushed by ABAG and MTC, unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies. It is about “equitable outcomes” and “social equity.” It is being done in the name of reducing greenhouse gas, but it admits that it will not achieve any reduction. Ask how greenhouse gas reduction factors into “equitable outcomes.”

    “The housing will be subsidized housing for “very, very low” and “very low” income people. This is a move to force people to live in stack&pack highrises, ban auto use, and override local zoning and control. Communities are being mandated to build thousands of these subsidized units. Some communities have resisted, challenging the data used to come up with the number of mandated units. Interestingly, when a couple of Marin County communities resisted, ABAG backed off very quickly and drastically reduced the allocations. ABAG fears public debate about its mandates. Palo Alto also is resisting. This has been going on behind closed doors. The word is just getting out to the general public, and then only to those who seek out information.

    “It purports to be related to projected job growth, but the numbers tell a different story. Marin, for example, has lost jobs for 20 years, and there is no indication it will experience a reversal any time soon. ABAG backed off its numbers, saying there had been an error in calculations. If Corte Madera and Napa had not resisted, the staggeringly expensive “error” would have gone unnoticed.

    “The “visioners” have been criticized for using “delphi” tactics to control outcomes at the very few public meetings. The meetings themselves were packed with bureaucrat insiders, skewing the “vote” on purported options to fulfill the “vision.” Parts of the manuals are cut and pasted from UN Agenda 21.

    Government is waiving or fast-tracking environmental studies in order to rush these projects through. Of course developers want to do these–no environmental hassles, and heavy subsidies.

    “This read like a paid advertisement for stack&pack subsidized housing, but it neglected to mention the heavy subsidies. I got a good laugh at the hair stylist who said the train was not audible 100 feet away. Anyone considering a move should spend a lot of time “testing” the claim that there is no vibration or noise. In California, the quality of much construction is so shoddy (no insulation because it’s not needed for weather, so there is none for sound) that people hear their neighbors snoring and using the toilet. There is no reason to believe additional units will be any better.

    “This is being pushed by environmental and “social justice” extremists out to punish people who worked hard and were able to establish a decent lifestyle in a single family home. They want everybody to have the same lifestyle, next to a train track. Much of the rhetoric is heavily racist and anti-white. The groups consulted about what planning should look like were “minority” and “underserved” folks.

    “Everything I’ve written can be fact-checked.”

    VBobier Reply:

    I wouldn’t trust anything from Murdoch owned WSJ, as it’s a filthy trashy rag…

    Jonathan Reply:


    Oh, please. Let’s have some minimum standards of literacy.

    “Ownershpi of the means of production” is Marxism-Leniism. That is _not_ Socialism, as the word is used with respect to Western European democracies. In English, it’s called “Commuism” and has a very bad rep. Don’t mistake the propaganda-label of those regimes for the reality.

    Equating Marxism-Leninism to “socialsim” is a straw-man. I mean, really, are you in danger from the Checka/OGPU/NKVD in Sweden? Or in France under Mitterand? No — well, not unless you’re with Greenpeace in New Zealand, that is.

    Nathanael Reply:

    On the other hand, random people on the street seem to be in danger from the “security forces” in the US, under both Bush and Obama — Maher Arar is the first famous example. This is neither communism nor fascism, but simply the worst aspect of both — police-state behavior.

    Not sure what to do about that, other than reform local governments and strengthen them. Currently some local police seem to be even more abusive than the national DEA/CIA/TSA types (Oakland comes to mind), but you have to start somewhere, perhaps with local elections… off the topic of rail though.

    trentbridge Reply:


    Well tell wikipedia then, smarty-pants!

    Socialism /ˈsoʊʃəlɪzəm/ is an economic system characterised by social ownership and control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy,[1] and a political philosophy advocating such a system.

    I was referring to Britain which had a Labour Government i.e. Socialist and has never had a communist government. The key difference is that a communist government believes in centrally-planned economy so you don’t allow capital to flow by the market mechanism to the best uses. At no time did Britain have a centrally-planned economy and the stock exchange was open all the years I lived there.

    Is the California aquaduct socialism?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s a definition from one context ~ that would be the classical Socialism of the late 1800’s. However, you seem to have skipped over the “as the word is used”: You skipped:

    That is _not_ Socialism, as the word is used with respect to Western European democracies

    Post-WWII Western European Socialist parties have not tended to be pure socialist in that sense for many decades, lip service to the contrary, and in recent times have tended to be dominated more by Social Democrats in political philosophy than “ownership of the commanding heights” Socialists of immediate postwar British Labour Party.

    Nathanael Reply:

    postwar British Labour created a pretty good society.

    Nationalizing the coal mines was very questionable (especially given that the plan ended up being to shut them down…) but the National Health Service and British Rail were definite improvements over their immediate predecessors. Certain areas of the economy are more “suited” to market forces (commodities) and certain areas are more suited to central planning (transportation)…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Complex systems cannot be designed by market forces ~ leaving the design of complex systems “to market forces” is a fiction, when mainstream economists say it, and when politicians say it either a fiction or a euphemism for having it decided by some private corporate government instead of a democratically elected one. That decision should not be made on the basis of political ideology, but on the basis of whether the pursuit of maximum profit is likely to lead to the desired outcome.

    It is, however, important to only centrally plan what is necessary, since any organization has information processing limits which means if it takes on too many objectives, some of the objectives will necessarily get short shrift. That is equally true of a central government that takes on too many tasks that could be effectively decentralized, and of a too big to fail bank which ought to have its bank holding company dissolved and its separate state commercial banks and its investment banking operations operate as independent companies.

    lex luther Reply:

    jonathan the elitist at it again

    Jonathan Reply:

    Try to address the facts, not the person, Lex.

  9. Reality Check
    May 2nd, 2012 at 18:20

    O/T: Caltrain budget proposal adds 6 new trains to ease peak-period crowding:

    Caltrain Operations Dependent on One-time Funds – Again

    Caltrain is the only Bay Area transit system without a dedicated source of revenue and agency staff is expected to warn the board that the one-time funds are an unreliable and unsustainable source of funding.

    For the last two years, Caltrain has maintained operations in part through one-time only funds. After Fiscal Year 2013, those funds will be gone, which means that that a year from now, Caltrain could face drastic service cuts and fare increases.

    “We have not solved our fiscal crisis,” said Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon. “We have only delayed it by one year.”

    The board will review a $111 million proposed budget; no service cuts or fare increases are expected in the coming year.

    In fact, the proposed budget includes $375,000 to add six new trains to relieve overcrowding during peak commute times. Caltrain’s weekday ridership is at a historic high this year with a 12 percent increase and 20 consecutive months of ridership growth. During peak commute times, many of the system’s most popular trains have more passengers than seats.

    Evans Reply:

    This is good direction. I hope they will create better time table, meaning more frequent stop at each station while maintining good express service.
    Will they also add more express train on the weekend? Since first round of weekend express was very sucessful and archived the initial goal of ridership increase. I would like to see second round of additional express trains on weekend.
    Increase Caltrain ridership is only way to reciving support for HSR project/Electrification.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    During peak commute times, many of the system’s most popular trains have more passengers than seats.

    Quelle horreur!!

    swing hanger Reply:

    I laugh too. I find it peculiar that in the U.S. there is a notion that every commuter requires a seat, regardless of the distance traveled.

    Derek Reply:

    When there’s a shortage of seats, it’s proof that the price is too low. That’s easy to fix, even without adding trainsets, and would provide Caltrain with some much needed revenue.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or it’s evidence that your highways are so congested that people would rather stand on a train than drive.

    Derek Reply:

    Traffic congestion is also evidence that people would rather sit in congestion than stand on a train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or that the price of gas is too low.

    Spokker Reply:

    This matters in the short-run. In the long-run they will buy electric cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Electric cars are going to have a VMT tax applied to them one way or another someday.

    Nathanael Reply:

    True. But there’s still the cost of roads. I suspect the attractiveness of driving declines as the roads get really, really ratty. (There are expressways around here which I avoid because of the washboard pavement.)

    Spokker Reply:

    Good points, both of you, but unless the attractiveness of transit improves, the state of the roads and the gas price are irrelevant in the long run. I have an impression that many transit agencies are banking on the deteriorating conditions of driving and exogenous factors like gas prices to drive ridership without looking closely at improving their own operations and long-term plans for growth. We see these periods of ridership growth in which high gas prices send riders to transit, but they cannot sustain the ridership once gas prices go down. I think the long-term goal should be to cultivate a system that is attractive even in the face of $1/gallon gas.

    This whole focus on the fact that gas prices are trending upward and the freeways look like Swiss cheese is not necessarily flawed, but it just feels like we’re treating transit like the bad but less bad option. It’s “Support Measure R because there’s too much traffic and gas prices are out of control!” versus “Support Measure R because taking the train is a really goddamn enjoyable experience!” Of course, you do what you have to do to get it passed.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Good points, both of you, but unless the attractiveness of transit improves, the state of the roads and the gas price are irrelevant in the long run. I have an impression that many transit agencies are banking on the deteriorating conditions of driving and exogenous factors like gas prices to drive ridership without looking closely at improving their own operations and long-term plans for growth.”

    I won’t say your’re wrong–in fact, it’s an excellent point–but most transit managers and the systems they run are always starved for funding. How can you work to make things better when you often don’t have the money to work with?

    I won’t speak for BART, but it seems a lot of transit systems, particularly the very small ones, don’t have the alleged corruption problems of some of the others, but just hang on by their fingernails.

    You also have some systems, despite accusations of “socialism” and “inefficiency,” and even some embarrassing accidents–I’m thinking of Washington’s Metrorail–that have pretty decent cost recovery ratios, especially when compared with the highway system. Nobody bats an eyelash at the highway deficit though, nor at the external costs, including oil dependency and all the bad stuff that comes from that, nor do they question the road system’s generally poor safety record (and factually poor record compared with rail).

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you attempted to address the safety problem with better licensing standards, you would again be accused of “socialism.” “anti-automobile liberalism,” “anti-car environmentalism,” and who knows what else.

    One thing that would be accurate is that you would be trying to take cars away from people–the bad drivers–but somehow, I think they would get the sympathy, and where would we be (again)?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Spokker’s point is very cogent- every time I return to the States for the holidays, I am always reminded why public transport has an image problem- inconvenient schedules, broken ticket machines, buses that don’t give change, panhandling and vagrancy, smelly interiors- riding a bus or tram/train shouldn’t have to be an urban adventure.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Good points, both of you, but unless the attractiveness of transit improves, the state of the roads and the gas price are irrelevant in the long run.

    Except gas price shocks have regularly driven increases in transit ridership. The problem is that in much of the country, the increases in transit ridership come from the least politically influential groups of people, and so it doesn’t change the balance of power which drives the massive subsidies to driving.

    I have an impression that many transit agencies are banking on the deteriorating conditions of driving and exogenous factors like gas prices to drive ridership without looking closely at improving their own operations and long-term plans for growth.

    I get the impression that rather than banking on anything, many transit agencies are struggling to keep running. “Banking on X to drive ridership” gives the impression of a lot more freedom of choice than most transit agencies have.

    joe Reply:

    No Derek 101 congestion is not evidence people would rather sit in cars than trains.

    Derek Reply:

    101 congestion is not evidence people would rather sit in cars than trains.

    Then where would they rather be than stuck in congestion, and why aren’t they there?

    Obviously being stuck in congestion must be preferable than the alternative, or they wouldn’t be stuck in congestion.

    joe Reply:

    Why not ask them ?

    The trivial observation that being stuck in congestion is preferable provides no insight.

    Spokker Reply:

    Put up the cash, joe. We’ll do a survey.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its also evidence that the available common carrier transport is not sufficiently accessible at their origin and/or destination, or does not have an adequate schedule to meet their transport needs.

    Its also evidence that there is inadequate local transport at their destination, so they have to drag their car along with them to have it there.

    Its also evidence that some people follow habits of behavior without considering the actual tradeoffs that they are making.

    Its also evidence that some people will consume costly goods that are offered to them for free even though the free offer attracts a crowd.

    There are surely large numbers on that congested road who would be willing to pay a bit to get some of the other drivers to take common carrier transport instead, and large numbers who would take that payment in the form of higher quality, frequency and coverage common carrier transport. Its the lack of the congestion charge institution that deprives both sides to strike that bargain.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The first of these is the critical one; I wouldn’t drive as much if there were, you know, *any rail service at all* where I live….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pick someplace that has enough people to make rail service worthwhile. Until cars are banned the Black Diamond or the Phoebe Snow ain’t coming back and you are SOL.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @Derek: if it was only about avoiding seat shortages, then all would be fine even if Caltrain switched to 1-car trains with fares so high that everyone could still get a seat. Where does the notion of providing meaningful alternative transportation to drivers clogging the roads come into it?

    Did everyone also see the surprise news that VTA/Caltrans has quietly be planning to add a new 2nd HOV lane to Hwy 101 the entire length of Santa Clara Co.? More excellent competition for Caltrain/transit, courtesy of VTA/MTC/Caltrans! For years we keep hearing the era of highway widenings is over … but yet it seems there’s no end to major widening projects like this cropping up.

    The first segment, to open in about 2 years, will be between the SMCo. line to the Mtn. View Hwy 85/101/Shoreline clusterf*ck. The extra lane in both directions will allow expansion of the MTC-planned Bay Area-wide HOT (high-occupancy/toll/”express”/”Lexus” lane) network to Hwy 101 and will be addition to and part of the already-ongoing/funded “auxiliary” lane project to to add an extra “merge” lane between exits/overpasses. VTA/Caltrans reportedly figured out about 2 years ago that at little additional cost, they could shoe-horn in a 2nd HOV lane by eliminating the center median and narrowing the existing lanes. Local transit observers/watchdog types reportedly are now asking why has this been kept so quiet and when was this decided!?

    joe Reply:

    Hey. Free highways tanked Caltrain in south county.

    When I moved to Gilroy in 2000 we used to have 4 Caltrain each way and decent ridership until 101 was widened from 2 to 4 lanes – free.

    The ridership dropped and 1 train was cut.

    Ridership is building back up but frankly it is hard to rely on only 3 trains – we often use an express bus to get home in place of one of the dropped trains (6:30 PM)

    Spokker Reply:

    Highways don’t pay for themselves but it’s not as if zero funding is contributed by users. There is still a gas tax, woefully inadequate as it is.

    joe Reply:

    We invest in HW 101 without blinking – rail is a uphill climb. The investment in 101 expansion hurt ridership – people are not disinterested in Caltrain. Commuters followed infrastructure investments.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mass transit whether it’s buses, light rail, heavy rail, ferry boats charge fares. Paid by users.

    Derek Reply:

    Where does the notion of providing meaningful alternative transportation to drivers clogging the roads come into it?

    A clogged road means the price of using it is too low.

    When roads and mass transit start paying for themselves, it will become economical to expand them.

    joe Reply:

    Yes – we charge $100 to ride on HW101 and the problem, goes away. So do the jobs.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    $9.50 roundtrip isn’t deterring New Jersey commuters from driving into Manhattan. A significant fraction of them then pay tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike.

    Derek Reply:

    Yes – we charge $100 to ride on HW101 and the problem, goes away. So do the jobs.

    That doesn’t make sense. If the 101 is still filled nearly to capacity despite the $100 fee, then how can you say that any jobs have left?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You’d not need $100 to reduce congestion, but a sufficient congestion charge would eliminate gridlock traffic jams.

    So, too, would charging cars the full cost of their use of the transport system, but that is considered too high a price to charge, so instead the idea is to charge a lower price that still succeeds in eliminating the predictable effect of treating road access it as if it was a free good.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Step #1 to fixing the funding crisis: Fire Scanlon, who is pulling in three salaries for one full-time job.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Fire Scanlon???

    I suppose you would rather have someone where BART is top priority rather than Caltrain and Samtrans?

    Under Scanlon’s predecessor, we got the disastrous (SFO extension) agreement with BART that nearly bankrupted Samtrans. Valuable Caltrain right of way was given to BART in Millbrae; right of way was given away in downtown San Mateo, Redwood City, and other locations. And don’t forget about the San Carlos/Belmont grade separation that limits Caltrain track expansion.

  10. Reality Check
    May 3rd, 2012 at 02:12

    [CC-HSR] expert warnings on rail costs flawed by ‘wrong numbers,’ [HSRA] official says

    Rail board member Mike Rossi told a legislative hearing this week that incorrect data undergirds a downbeat analysis of the bullet train’s finances published recently by four Peninsula-based financial experts.

    Their report, which predicts that if built, the bullet train will need multimillion-dollar subsidies “forever,” was the subject of a story earlier this week by California Watch.

    joe Reply:

    By Rossi’s account, it contains operating cost data obtained from the Union Internationale des Chemins de fer, a European rail lobby. That organization, known as the UIC, has acknowledged that the BBVA study had misreported the data, Rossi said.

    “The UIC has said it is a mistake,” Rossi told the lawmakers. “The BBVA said they would correct it.”

    The report in question misreported other data, UIC data.

    Rossi’s explained the problem but the NIMBYs blame Rossi.


    “We took the BBVA data because it was footnoted in (the bullet train’s) business plan,” said William Warren, a retired Silicon Valley business executive and one of the report’s authors.

    Of Rossi, Warren said, “If his business plan data is wrong, he needs to fix that and we need to rerun our numbers when we get that data.”

    Rossi’s data isn’t wrong, in fact he knows the data well enough to recognize it was misreported – just as some comments here made skeptical sanity checks on their results.

    Brian Weatherford, a fiscal analyst in the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, agreed that the question is complicated. But he said that the Legislature needs to get a handle on the issue of operating costs for the bullet train. The experts’ report was “useful in raising questions and concerns,” he said.

    You don’t know the full comments by the LAO’s Weatherford but one would hope a focus on correctness was more important than the political value of repeating the same questions and concerns.

  11. Reality Check
    May 3rd, 2012 at 15:35

    Spirit Airlines raising carry-on bag fee to $100

    Putting a bag in the overhead bin will soon cost some Spirit Airlines passengers $100. That’s more than they may have paid for their tickets.

    The Miramar, Fla., airline currently charges $45 for a carry-on bag. As of Nov. 6, customers who wait to pay the fee at the boarding gate will fork over $100. Any bag that needs to fit in the overhead bin is considered a carry-on. A small bag that fits under the seat is free.

    The price for a carry-on paid for at an airport kiosk will increase to $50 from $40.

    Larger pieces of luggage checked at the airport will cost between $8 and $10 more, while the fee for bags checked online will rise by between $2 and $5.

    Spirit also will increase a handful of other fees by between $2 and $10.

    Spirit is one of two airlines that charge for carry-ons. Allegiant is the other. In the first quarter, Spirit’s average revenue from fees per passenger on a round-trip flight topped $100 for the first time.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    From $45 to $100 seems like an awfully big jump; having your fees come to more than your tickets doesn’t sound good, either. What makes them think they can get away with it?

    Alternately, does this suggest the air business is in an era similar to the pre-regulated railroads of the 19th century, in which efforts to steal business from other carriers becomes true cut-throat competition, and no one makes any money, or even everyone loses money?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    airlines have been busy engaging in cut throat competition that means almost no one makes money since deregulation.

    VBobier Reply:

    Spirit Airlines is demanding a $100 baggage fee for all carry on luggage now.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s what I heard on the local LA CA TV News.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Carrying weight is expensive for airlines. They’d rather people didn’t carry any luggage at all. They’re hoping to retain the portion of the (shrinking) airline passenger market who carry only bags small enough to fit under the seat in front of them. To be fair, this includes most business travellers, so this is still a sizeable market.

    D.P., yes, the airlines are into death-throes competition now. Jimmy Carter, you shouldn’t’ve deregulated them….

  12. Reality Check
    May 3rd, 2012 at 17:29

    Flying Between Smaller Cities Is Becoming a Marathon Sport
    Even with the demand for seats increasing, the big airlines have not restored many of their flights, particularly on routes to small airports.

    For anyone trying to fly between the smaller cities in the United States, it’s not easy to get from here to there anymore.

    The major airlines have been paring service for much of the last decade. But their cutbacks accelerated three years ago as carriers merged, fuel prices spiked and the recession reduced demand for seats. Even after the economy started to recover and passengers came back, the big airlines did not restore many of their flights, particularly on routes to small airports, as they sought to bolster their profits.

    The strategy has squeezed the regional airlines, whose purpose is to ferry passengers on behalf of the major airlines and provide the backbone of air service to the nation’s small airports. Three regional carriers have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2010, including Pinnacle Airlines in April.

    So while airports in large metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago and Atlanta have emerged relatively unscathed from these changes, the smaller cities have borne the brunt.

    From 2006 to 2011, the nation’s top 25 airports lost 4 percent of their nonstop domestic capacity, according to Jeffrey Breen, the president and co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group. In that same period, the next 25 airports, including those in Oakland, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., lost 13 percent. At the next 50 airports — in places like Tulsa, Okla.; Providence, R.I.; and Reno, Nev. — the drop in direct service was even steeper, 15 percent. Smaller airports, like the one in Flint, Mich., have fared even worse, down 19 percent.

    “We are all in the same boat here: most airports have lost nonstop capacity in the last five years,” Mr. Breen said. “But the smaller airports are really the ones that have taken it on the chin the most. It’s been a perfect storm for them.”

    The result is that travelers now face more complicated itineraries, often involving a connection at a big hub airport, and trips that used to take two or three hours can now stretch all day.

    Fares in the smaller cities have also risen the most. Ticket prices out of Bellingham, Wash.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Fort Myers, Fla., for instance, jumped 16 to 18 percent from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, while the average nationwide increase was 6 percent, according to the latest data compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

    The three most expensive airports to fly from? Cincinnati (where the average ticket price was $488 in the third quarter); Huntsville, Ala. (average price $473); and Memphis ($472). The nationwide average ticket price was $362. (And none of this includes extra fees for checked bags or seats with extra legroom, which have also been rising in recent years.)

    joe Reply:

    Soylent Green is people!

    The concept for what became Federal Express came to Fred Smith while he was studying at Yale University.

    In his paper, Smith proposed a new concept – have one carrier be responsible for a piece of cargo from local pick-up right through to ultimate delivery, operating its own aircraft, depots, posting stations and delivery vans. To ensure accurate sorting and dispatching of every item of freight, the carrier would fly it from all of its pickup stations to a central clearinghouse, from where the entire operation would be controlled. He submitted the paper to the professor teaching the course, who gave the paper the grade of “C”. Despite the professor’s opinion, Smith held on to the idea.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    have one carrier be responsible for a piece of cargo from local pick-up right through to ultimate delivery

    …Rural Free Delivery and Parcel Post…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed, the Royal Mail and the United States Postal Service both did this very early.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Heh. And now FedEx ships “FedEx Ground” containers by rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    REA and the predecessors used rail almost exclusively.

  13. Reality Check
    May 3rd, 2012 at 18:45

    Unsurprising news release from Caltrain today:

    Caltrain Board Approves Regional Agreement to Fund Modernization

    The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the agency that owns and operates Caltrain, today unanimously approved a regional agreement to fully fund the electrification of the railroad.

    The Memorandum of Understanding between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and more than a half-dozen Bay Area public agencies leverages local, regional and federal funding to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed rail funds for the project. Riders could see an electrified Caltrain system as soon as 2019.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Now that’s what I’m talking about!

    Matthew Reply:

    As soon as 2019? What’s the big hurry? That’s only enough time to widen 101 thrice.

    joe Reply:

    In 2014 HW 101 From Mountain View to Menlo Park will grow to 12 lanes, two car pool, four traffic and one lane for merging and exiting. It’s all free, cost recovery and the LAO analyst approves this construction.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    What about the thousands of trees that will be cut down?
    What about the hundreds of homes and businesses that will be destroyed?
    What about all the dust, noise, and vibration?

    joe Reply:

    PAMPA should sue and block the EIR. Who would have imagined adding 4 more lanes to 101’s 6??!?

    Four more lanes on 101 will result in more street traffic for PAMPA NIMBYs. It will, as it did elsewhere along 101 expansion, draw away public transit ridership.

    Google today busses people from home to work but that’s temporary. Google uses Netscape & SGI buildings – eventually, profit will force Google to drop free transit bus perks. 10 years is an eternity in the Valley.

    Google employees will age (I did) and they’ll have kids (oops me too) and then they’ll need more flexibility – flexibility the current “public transit is for the poor” system does not offer.

    Thank goodness they’re adding 4 lanes to 101.

    GoGregorio Reply:

    I was just at Google the other day, and they seemed pretty committed to their program. Although you’re right, 10 years is a long time, and values and priorities change. However, I don’t see them dropping the program to make more money. They make plenty of money as is, and their shuttle program is very successful, and something they’re very proud of. They’d also have to add more parking if all of their employees were to start driving themselves to work.

    I don’t understand you’re point about aging and having kids. Many of the employees, especially those living on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, own cars and use them for personal errands, but take the shuttle to work. So they’re not losing flexibility, unless you’re talking about picking kids up on the way home from work.

    Joe Reply:

    Google is hot now, so was netscape at one time. The facilities they build draw workers. These will permenantly increase traffic. They have mitigated the traffic impact with shuttles but that free service is based on a growing income. How long can they grow and please shareholders and afford the program? I guess ten years tops.

    They have parking for employees with shorline but 101 cannot take that traffic on top of the mess it is now. Expansion work is starting on 101 but facebook has yet to move into thier expanded 101 facilities in menlo park. The new highway capacity is going to be used the day it finishes so I think new and better public transit is essential.

    Kids: A few coworkers left for google and comment on the youthful, graduate school atmosphere. What did you think? It feels like stanford to me when I visit. What happens as employees mature and start families?

    With kids the corporate shuttles and long hours give way to more complex lifestyles that might not fit the shuttle schedule. You have to drive or need better public transportation you get to your kids in time. I think the maturing/aging of google will put more folks in cars unless public transit is improved. More frequent and reliable caltrain for example and free shuttles to and from the stations.

    NIMBYs in the area need improved Caltrain, improved grade seperation and should demand better connections from the transit hubs and stations to work centers. They will choke on cars if this current model continues.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Then in 2015 they can rip out the middle lanes, and finish running BART ’round the bay.

    Nathanael Reply:

    4 more lanes — more space and concrete than a 4-track railway.

  14. lex luther
    May 3rd, 2012 at 20:36

    CHSRA has been around for 16 years, at the earliest there wont be a train for another 10 years,
    YET CHSRA employees make ridiculous pay, with the executive making 2 times+ that of the governor who oversees tens of millions of people…..WHAT A WASTE!


    Roelof Van ark

    Thomas C Fellenz

    Jeffrey M Barker

    Christopher C Ryan

    Shahin Pourvahidi

    Carolyn H Pourvahidi

    Dan S Leavitt

    Wen YU Vongjesda

    Timothy Buresh

    Patricia L Jones

    Lupe V Jimenez

    Sarah M Allred

    Robert Rosas jr

    John D Mason jr

    Victoria HARTZO Janek

    Cruzita Flores

    Thomas D Carter

    Namjoin Tran

    Elizabeth Stone

    Rachel E Wall

    joe Reply:

    55K – outrageous.

    As of 2009 the median income for a family in Menlo Park was $123,251.
    In 2000 the median income for a household in Antherton was in excess of $200,000, as is the median income for a family.
    According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $119,046, and the median income for a family was $153,197.

    lex luther Reply:

    you only used cities as affluent as Carmel and Beverly Hills to make a point, but HSR is not being built to run from MP to Athernton, infact HSR wont even be in Atherton or MP because by the time it gets to the peninsula it will slow down to the point you cant seriously call it high speed anymore…

    and since there is no guaranteed funding for anything beyond the central valley, lets use a relevent statistic: merced median income – $32,513

    but thats beside the point i was making above. 16 years of existence, NOT ONE TRACK LAID, but they are getting paid nicely, with the executive director making more than the governor

    joe Reply:

    I’m tougher than you softies. I say pay minimum wage. And yes, HSR does’t count if it’s less than 10% the speed of light – those are my standards.

    But really my point is we need to ask CARRD et al. to stop making HSR waste money answering their detailed questions about the project. It’s not as if all this respond to the citizen watchdog now and hold meetings for the locals is free after all.

    And this whole business plan thing – can’t we just reuse another and use word replace to tailor it to Cal? it’s not as if this stuff matters. Just do it – screw planning.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    because by the time it gets to the peninsula it will slow down to the point you cant seriously call it high speed anymore…

    I’ll point at that running somewhere around 110mph to 125mph between San Francisco and San Jose does not actually slow the train down between Chowchilla and Bakersfield.

    Its not entirely clear where you got the idea that it does.

    lex luther Reply:

    it will never be that speed along the peninsula. you really think that those uber rich suburbanites have no political pull? you think they are going to just sit by and watch their home values decrease because of HSR trains whizzing by making noise pollution like the planes do in San Bruno? guaranteed they will get the trains slower than 100 when passing their cities

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s just a conspiracy to make Silicon Valley like the slums of Mansfield, Attleboro, and East Greenwich.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought it was a plot to turn them into Hartsdale, Cos Cob and Short Hills.
    Or perhaps Gladwynne, Villanova and Merion.

    Joe Reply:

    The Wealthy do not live near the tracks. Stanford professors who live on a narrow block between a major road and Caltrain tracks are wannabes.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Since those positions likely require a college level education, a more relevant comparison would look at similar education levels.

    The median income in Merced in 2009 for residents with a bachelor’s degree = $50,876.

    Of course, these jobs are not physically located in Merced, they are in Sacramento. So the comparison should also be against Sacramento (where the market pays more) not Merced.

    lex luther Reply:

    no because at current, the HSR will probably not reach Sacramento until after 2033, and who knbows what the median income will be by then

    datacruncher Reply:

    No, you posted the current salaries of current CAHSRA jobs currently located in Sacramento. The comparison for those CAHSRA salaries would be to other college educated Sacramento area salaries today not 2033.

    Nathanael Reply:

    These people could all get paid more in private industry.

  15. lex luther
    May 3rd, 2012 at 20:47

    IN 2010, Exec. Director Roelof Van Ark had a base pay of $168,743, yet somehow without overtime, he made a total of $243,901.

    ONLY ONE YEAR LATER, he got a raise and his base salary rose an extra $190,375 to $359,118, though yet again without overtime got paid $359,502, but whats a few hundred dollars more.

    after all, its just taxpayers money

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t really harp on high pay for public officials in general, but I do question what van Ark actually did in hindsight.

    Spokker Reply:

    My impression is that he didn’t really understand California politics and couldn’t get anything done.

    lex luther Reply:

    thats my point. what exactly did he do to deserve to be paid higher than the governor or even POTUS?

    on a side note, he isnt the worst violator. 3 of the top 5 highest taxpayer paid employess are state university sports coaches, all making between $1.8 million and $2.35 million in 2010 alone

    Spokker Reply:

    Yeah but the coaches are probably worth their weight in gold. College sports is a huge business.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’re worth not only their weight in gold, but also that of the children they molest.

    Spokker Reply:

    Sports is so dumb.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Governor and President could make more money in the private sector. Try looking at corporate CEOs, where if you make less than $10 million a year, they laugh at you.

    If you really want public servants to be paid less, you have to first cut the pay of the people in the competing careers. Watch how much these people can make in private industry. Hint: cutting the pay of the people in private industry requires reforming corporate governance so that stockholders have some power and the SEC isn’t a lapdog.

  16. DavidM
    May 3rd, 2012 at 21:14

    At the CHSRA board meeting today, a Madera developer offered to put up $1 billion to build a maintenance yard for the project (that would be leased back).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, the financing is starting to come together.

  17. Paulus Magnus
    May 3rd, 2012 at 22:55

    For those interested, March Amtrak CA figures:

    Pacific Surfliner: +1.6%
    San Joaquin: +15.9%
    Capitol Corridor: +2.9%
    Coast Starlight: +17.1%

    Pacific Surfliner: +22.3%
    San Joaquin: +18.1%
    Capitol Corridor: +13.4%
    Coast Starlight: +12.2%

    Surfliner finally broke their 5 month downturn in ridership thanks to track work causing holy hell with delays and cancellations.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I take it these are year-to-year figures.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Interesting… but I thought nobody in California rides trains?

    lex luther Reply:

    not 125 million riders per year as is projected

    Eric M Reply:

    Hate to break it to you, but BART does over 100 million alone each year.

    lex luther Reply:

    100 million COMMUTERS…..


    Eric M Reply:

    You should have made yourself clear the first time….which your comment still has no bearing on the original post

    Eric M Reply:

    Besides, where is your technical analysis, not opinion (or some others), which shows otherwise there will not be that many RIDES, not RIDERS?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As projected by whom? Certainly not as projected by Amtrak California.

    Heck, “125m riders per year, as projected” would even be a lie about the HSR system, with the Phase1 ridership projected as follows:

    Year: Low estimate / High estimate
    2025: 5.8m / 10.5m
    2030: 16.1m / 26.8m
    2040: 20.1m / 32.6m
    2060: 22.2m / 36.0m

    “Not 125m as projected” is clearly trolling, the only question is whether lex luthor is the source of the trolling or is rather just incredibly gullible and is repeating the trolling of other people that he has fallen for, hook, line and sinker.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The original full-system projection (on the assumption of a full Phase 1 opening in 2018 and full Phase 2 by 2030) was 65-117 million by 2040.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So there’s a midrange estimate of 92m by 2040, with full Phase 1 and Phase 2 system rolled out. Where’e the 125m projection?

    125m is certainly in the realm of possibility for 2050, given that the total intercity transport market in the area covered by Phase 1 and 2 is well over 125m total per year, but the question is where 125m appears as a projected ridership, other than in deliberate overstatement as a propaganda technique.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, 125 million is as far as I can tell an ex recto number. Some random number Lex remembered wrong or something. But it’s close to the upper end of an official projection.

    I think 65 is a believable estimate for Phase 2. 125 is not. If I’m not mistaken, the entire NEC travel market is about 100. If you compare city sizes in California to existing HSR systems around the world, you get a number in the mid tens – could be 40, could be 70. There are outliers in both directions (fortunately, the biggest downward-direction outlier, Eurostar, you could anticipate from the pre-HSR size of the market, too). I wouldn’t bet on California being an outlier in the upward direction – too much sprawl in the intermediate cities, possibly too much in LA and SF.

    By analogy, expecting 65 million riders is like expecting a dense American city with a good record of cost control to build a subway for $200 million per kilometer, whereas expecting 125 is like expecting $100 million per kilometer.

    Of course the focus should be on preventing the kind of blowouts that lead to $1 billion/km lines, or in our case on the kind of compromises and poor design choices that restrict ridership to 15 million.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The 2012 size of Californian cities or the 2040 size of Californian cities? The 2040 population size is, of course, a projection itself. A substantial part of the difference in ridership between the low and high ridership numbers are assumed gas prices, assumed average motor vehicle mileage and assumed economic conditions, with the low ridership coming from cheap gas, very efficient cars, and the lower of their two source projections of economic conditions, and the high coming from moderately expensive gas, less efficient cars, and the higher of their two source projections of economic conditions.

    As far as $8/gallon gas, in 2012 dollars, they didn’t dare imagine that, but its certainly in the realm of possibility over the decade ahead.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, those other countries I’m comparing California with already have $8/gallon gas.

    And LA and SF aren’t growing that quickly. The Central Valley cities are, but their current growth is sprawltastic. The new freeway to nowhere they’re building east of Fresno is going to create little extra ridership for HSR, and a lot more for CA-99 (hopefully still CA-99 then not I-9).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Lex, learn about compounding of percentages. If you increase by 15.9% per year (San Joaquins), you’re doubling ridership every 5 years. You’re going to need more capacity pretty quickly.

    In actual fact the growth rate has been accelerating.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    Are those percentage changes over March of 2011?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:


  18. lex luther
    May 4th, 2012 at 10:47
  19. lex luther
    May 4th, 2012 at 10:51


    thatbruce Reply:


  20. lex luther
    May 4th, 2012 at 10:53


    synonymouse Reply:

    The revenue drop-off comes as a surprise to me. I had assumed Brown was going to get lucky with at least some improvement in the economy. After people have to replace their stuff eventually, from cars to washing machines to water heaters, and there should be some uptick in sales taxes.

    As Kotkin is pointing out, California has become the “sick man” of the US. Interestingly the cheerleaders are quick to condemn infrastructure expenditure cutbacks as ill-advised “austerity” but fail to recognize that tax increases also constitute “austerity” and are traditionally avoided in a recession, especially a prolonged one such as we are currently experiencing.

    There are other surprises. One is the degree and depth of discontent with the hsr scheme in the San Joaquin Valley. I doubt even the most militant of the gung-ho’s expected so much opposition. I suggest they failed to consider Stilt-A-Rail in the Valley constitutes a sort of regional BART, which is a hard sell in a place that is so auto-centric, spread out and poor. There will be some riders to be sure but the requisite subsidy will be noticeable, not trivial.

    The other surprise is the unhappiness of some erstwhile supporters and their willingness to break with Machine orthodoxy. I am thinking in particular of Kopp, who is dissing the Central Suxway bad and bringing to the light of day the really bad planning going on. As currently laid out the Suxway is a tertiary project, tapping little ridership in relation to cost. As far as proceeding to the Marina is concerned, 3rd, Kearny, and the Broadway Tunnel are a much better and shorter route. Following the existing #30 express alignment. Lombard and Van Ness is a poor location for a subway station. Golden Gate Transit does not even stop there.

    The only upside I can conceive is a Geary subway could cross Market at 3rd St. at the mezzanine level. I dunno about engineering a deep, deep tunnel under BART-Muni in and around Montgomery Street. So the mezzanine level may be the only recourse.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Tax increases *on the poor* are austerity (more sales tax == bad idea). Tax increases *on the rich* basically have no negative impact on the economy, since the rich were just saving the money, not spending it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    …but look how hard it is to get a “millionaire’s tax” passed anywhere. The billionaires deploy a lot of money to stop it…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, by the way? If you’re quoting him right, then Kotkin’s a lunatic! California’s far healthier economically than most of the US, even with one of the worst real estate bubble blowouts.

    thatbruce Reply:

    from the linked article
    By November 2011, costs ballooned to a range between $98.5 billion and $117.6 billion

    Any NIMBY, Done Right or ideologically opposed commentator who is even aware that the initial estimates were given in 2008 dollars, and that the first ‘ballooning’ of costs was due to an introduced requirement that the same original estimates be restated in Year Of Expenditure dollars, is never going to acknowledge this point. Doing so would leave them open to acknowledging that what actual ballooning of costs that there has been look more in line with the cost increases that have occurred in other major infrastructure projects, including highway construction.

    A 60 billion (Year Of Expenditure) increase in costs looks much scarier than a 20 billion (Year Of Proposal/2008) or whatever increase in costs.

    This doesn’t excuse the CHSRA remaining in thrall to the cost padding of its prime contractor.

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