Sep 30th, 2013 | Posted by

For the first time since 1995, the federal government has been shut down. The radical, extremist House Republicans have chosen to take this step in hopes of undermining the Affordable Care Act, even though the collateral damage to the rest of the American economy of a shutdown will be severe.

This is a high speed rail blog, so opinions about Obamacare don’t really matter here. The shutdown won’t affect the California high speed rail project, at least not immediately. But it is a symptom of the problems that face virtually every aspect of American life in that the extremist House Republicans can undermine projects and businesses in pursuit of their ideological goals.

Immediate prospects for additional federal HSR funding have been grim ever since Republicans seized control of the House in the 2010 elections. That’s not out of any inherent problem or weakness of the California HSR project. In fact, it has nothing to do with HSR at all. Everything from NASA’s asteroid monitoring to Head Start child care to the national parks are threatened by Republican extremism. HSR, like those other things, is one of many victims of those anti-government attitudes. No change to the HSR project will ever appease Congressional Republicans and convince them to fund it.

America’s future, from HSR to child care to asteroid monitoring to national parks and more, is increasingly on hold until the political situation in Congress changes for the better. Hopefully that will happen in 2014. If not, California would do well to begin planning how it can fund its priorities without waiting for a Republican Congress to come to its senses.

  1. Chad
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 22:41

    Using extortion to overturn the results of the ballot box is both treason and terrorism. Anyone who would vote for a Republican for as much as dog catcher deserves exile at best and Gitmo at worst.

    Donk Reply:

    I actually feel bad for the Republicans. Even Boehner and McConnell are just going thru the motions on this, because they have to. Anyone Republican who is not part of the Tea Party is toast.

    joe Reply:

    There are 233 Republicans; 200 Democrats, 2 vacancies.

    Boehner only needs 217 votes.

    As Speaker, he chooses to not bring legislation to the floor if it lacks a majority support of the majority party, his party.

    The Speaker could line up the 200 Democrats and only needs 17 Republicans.

    Andy M Reply:

    I wonder if that would really work. The republicans are not the only party that has people who obstruct as a matter of principle.

    Emily Reply:

    Why don’t we try a vote in the House and see if the Republicans are the only party who obstruct as a matter of principle or not?

    joe Reply:

    Ask the speaker of the house. He refuses to introduce legislation that would pass the Senate.

    “Both sides do it” is what got us here.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Both sides don’t abuse it.

    VBobier Reply:

    The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp in the House has been sitting on bills like H.R. 1601 and H.R. 3118, but then Rep Dave Camp from what I read doesn’t like any bill related to Social Security. Oh and one of the people calling for a shutdown was Rep Paul Cook of California’s 8th Congressional District. Top two needs to be repealed, as His opponent was another Republican, some choice, two baggers, heads you lose, tails you lose.

    Wells Reply:

    “That’s not out of any inherent problem or weakness of the California HSR project”

    That quote is not the truth, whatsoever.

    The CAHSR Project has selected and misdirected unacceptably poor route selections according to many professional polls. There is indeed “numerous inherent weaknesses” through the valley route. Tejon or Tehechapi, Altamont or Gilroy route decisions are being questioned in more serious terms within national rail advocacy groups. Most of us will be happy to deprive Fresnoidiacs and Bakersfieldians of the money they plan to waste with concrete–anywhere ill-considered intentions.

    Do inform readers with more discerning analysis, Cruickshank.

    And, California? I’m sayin go 135mph Talgo (hybrid) via Tejon/Altamont.
    Do that and I’ll stop bugging you. You can take the credit, tee hee.

    Travis D Reply:

    Um no. The route selections are just fine. Only idiots say otherwise.

    Joey Reply:

    Are there any specific arguments against any of the current route choices you’d care to refute?

    joe Reply:

    “The CAHSR Project has selected and misdirected unacceptably poor route selections according to many professional polls.
    There is indeed “numerous inherent weaknesses” through the valley route.
    Most of us will be happy to deprive Fresnoidiacs and Bakersfieldians of the money they plan to waste …”

    First, the above is nonsense gobbly-gook.
    Second, one can refute unapproved routes on the basis they are not in the approved plan.
    Fuck you Fresno and Bakersfield = Fail.

    It’s a consensus choice which means people compromised.

    Joey Reply:

    se gobbly-gook.
    Second, one can refute unapproved routes on the basis they are not in the approved plan.

    So in other words, don’t question the infinite wisdom of your all-knowing overlords at the CHSRA?

    Now, I agree that Fresno and Bakersfield need to be served, but trying to send express trains through those respective downtowns seems equally problematic. It’s near impossible to balance those interests on the current route without very severe compromises (large and unmitigatable noise impacts near the tracks, 115mph speed limits, etc). That’s to say nothing of the mountain crossings…

    joe Reply:

    No Joey. CAHSRA are not Overlords. They do have the *delegated* responsibility, authority and capability to build the project. That’s all. There’s no claim CAHSRA has unchallengeable wisdom.

    The route selection is not a math or physics problem – it’s a public project. There is no right answer. There’s the approved – consensus answer. The “best” route critics offer will change based on criteria and over time. They’re playing RailRoad fantasy without constraints.

    The project that CA approved, funded and started has a planned route – change it substantially the CAHSRA risks undermining the consensus.


    Wells Reply:

    “Um no. The route selections are just fine. Only idiots say otherwise.”

    So you’re saying communities along the Bay Area Peninsula which approve the PLAN B “blended” system are idiotic? And, LA County communities that will likewise see safety upgrades to local passenger-rail lines are idiotic? Nevermind. Don’t bother answering, ever, Travis D (for Duh?). Go play with your toys, you little prick. The CAHSR project should make route changes through the valley to reduce cost and impacts and to build a better HSR system.

    joe Reply:

    So you’re saying communities along the Bay Area Peninsula which approve the PLAN B “blended” system are idiotic?

    Peninsula “Plan B” is the exact same route and ROW as “Plan A” HSR.

    A County communities that will likewise see safety upgrades to local passenger-rail lines are idiotic? Not with HSR funds. Unless these local passenger-rail lines feed into HSR or share track. Change the CV route and there’s nothing shifting to Local LA routes in the Project budget. Nada.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unless these local passenger-rail lines feed into HSR or share track. Change the CV route and there’s nothing shifting to Local LA routes in the Project budget.

    I little tidbit the advocates of an I-5 routing ignore. When pressed they wave their hands and talk about spurs to the cities along 99. As if spurs will build themselves. With free concrete.

    Wells Reply:

    joe’s Reply, “Peninsula Plan B is the exact same route and ROW as Plan A,” is NOT true. The CAHSR Plan A was a completely separate ‘widening’ of the ROW along the peninsula and parts of Los Angeles that would take out miles of mature eucalyptis, shrubbery, nearby structures, and add high decibel wheel-squeel NOISE to nearby neighborhoods with 200mph tech.
    You are wrong, joe boy, lying.

    (Paraphrased) joe then says this: “Communities will NOT see safety upgrades to passenger-rail lines with HSR funds unless they feed into HSR or share track. Change the CV out and nothing shifts to LA routes in the Project budget. Nada”

    You don’t know that, joe. You’re speculating and ignoring the facts.

    Adirondacker spouting about shifting funds is likewise speculation. “A little tidbit advocates for the I-5 route ignore. They talk about spurs to the cities along 99 as if spurs will build themselves with free concrete.”

    Plenty of money for poorly engineered Tehachapi and the senseless downtown Bakersfield convention center/boutique shop-o-rama tourist trap venues. Los Angeles and the Bay Area Peninsula found a low-cost, sensible Plan B to go with, but Valley conservatives know best how to spend money badly. The 200mph Nowheresville-to-Whateversburg Express (Fresno to Gilroy) is their Plan A. Good grief.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So someone has replicated the Synomouse Turing Test?

    that would take out miles of mature eucalyptis
    An invasive weed species that’s a fire hazard.

    nearby structures

    Which ones and explain to us the historical and cultural significance of places like the 7-11 parking lot.

    high decibel wheel-squeel NOISE to nearby neighborhoods with 200mph tech.

    Noise they won’t make if they are traveling on the existing magic tracks that are noiseless. Currently being used by those noiseless, smoke free diesels?

    Maybe it’s not Turing machine but just boilerplate FUD.

    J. Wong Reply:


    Where is this “Plan A” you speak of? (“The CAHSR Plan A was a completely separate ‘widening’ of the ROW along the peninsula and parts of Los Angeles that would take out miles of mature eucalyptis, shrubbery, nearby structures, and add high decibel wheel-squeel NOISE to nearby neighborhoods with 200mph tech.”)

    My understanding of the original non-blended plan was to add the 2 HSR tracks to the existing Caltrain ROW, which for most of its length is already wide enough for this purpose. So how can you say it is “a completely separate ‘widening’ of the ROW” that would require “take out [of] miles”?

    joe Reply:

    joe’s Reply, “Peninsula Plan B is the exact same route and ROW as Plan A,” is NOT true. The CAHSR Plan A was a completely separate ‘widening’ of the ROW along the peninsula

    Oh!! So the Plan A Route would follow Caltrain’s ROW whereas Plan B is follows Caltrain’s ROW.

    Thanks for helping me understand how to read “dumbass” .

    Wells Reply:

    Joe, J.Wong & Adirandockster, I can’t believe you guys.
    You’re either not thinking or ‘purposefully’ ignoring the facts.
    Yes, the faster train is LOUDER, and in many segments of the corridor,
    narrowly set between mature trees, landscaping, structures,
    plus new grade-separate (underpass interchanges) add that much more impact, you see.
    Oh no, you do not see, sirs. You are wrong for this advocacy.
    Cruickshank, these guys are much too educated to NOT know better.

    Thanks for ruining HSR for the rest of us, all of you purist armchair potatoes.
    I was a general contractor 3 years.
    Home energy conservation. For the last 20 years,
    an ardent light rail/streetcar/better bus advocate.

    Wells Reply:

    15 years of Home Energy Conservation, 3 years
    as a contractor, then 20-some years at TRANSPORTATION
    energy conservation work with those of us who DO MORE than talk,
    and with many admirable light rail & streetcar projects in place as commensurate recompense.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes, the faster train is LOUDER,,/I>

    Electric trains are much quieter than diesel trains. And they don’t burn anything, not along the tracks anyway.

    narrowly set between mature trees, landscaping, structures,

    Life’s tough if you buy the cheap real estate next to the noisy smelly trains. Replacing them with quieter emissionless electric trains is bad in what ways?

    new grade-separate

    Waiting for the train to pass is so much fun. And listening to the train horn and the bells is so evocative. Not to mention how many people get killed and maimed at the crossings.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    That’s quite possibly the most insane bit of political rhetoric I’ve seen in quite some time. Normally it’s the right I have to remind that treason is very carefully defined in the Constitution…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Chad only exaggerated slightly; it was an exaggeration only because he didn’t mention the genuinely-treasonous stuff which Republicans have done. (The Reagan campaign team clearly committed treason back in 1980 by contacting the Iranian government and telling them not to release the hostages until after the election, directly contrary to the attempts of the US Government.)

    The Republicans have gotten worse since then.

    They’re now trying to force the US to default on its debts, which is forbidden by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

    That may or may not be treason (“aid and comfort to its enemies”) — I think it is treason. It is definitely a violation of their oaths of office. It’s grounds for impeachment, removal from office, and permanent bar on holding future public offices.

    Of course, since the Appeasement Democrats never impeached Bush or his gang of criminals, I don’t expect anyone to do anything about this. It’s barely possible that the Congressional Democrats have woken up to the fact that most of the elected Congressional Republicans are actually enemies of the United States — but I have seen no evidence that they’ve figured it out yet.

    Travis D Reply:

    Treason is very narrowly defined. It doesn’t change the fact that Republicans are some of the worst people to ever obtain power over a democracy.

  2. BMF of San Diego
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 22:45

    I fear that if Barack Obama were white, Washington would not be shut down right now. I believe the reality is that Tea Party members, and probably some other Republican, are blinded by the fact that our presidents skin color is not white. The will not admit it. They probably don’t realize it. They have rationalized their positions to fit their thought of what an ideal world might be, which is currently upside down from their perspectives.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They shut down the government twice during the Clinton Administration.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah but Bill Clinton was the “first black president”.

    Emmanuel Reply:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    There were frequent government shutdowns in the Carter and Reagan eras. In 1982, there was a shutdown coming from the fact that Congress forgot to pass a budget and members of both parties were too busy with their social lives to notice (link).

    Congress didn’t start sucking in 2011.

    joe Reply:

    Contract on America, The 1990’s under Newt. You do recall Clinton’s pointless impeachment?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but it goes back much farther than that.

    joe Reply:

    Yeah 1849.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Government shutdowns” were impossible until Warren G. Harding. Why? Harding invented the crock of garbage called the “federal budget”.

    Before that, each Congress simply passed individual tax and appropriations bills which usually ran forever — self-implementing — rather than needing to be redone each year. Frankly, that worked better.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does it really work better to have spending and taxation levels that last forever without annual budget debate?

    For a hint that it doesn’t, certain anti-democratic factions in the international organizations recommend doing a budget every 2 years instead of every 1 year. Guess which putatively democratic country bought this and successfully halved the amount of budget debate per unit of time, so that the prime minister (who went to early elections on a budget he refused to reveal) would be subjected to less criticism.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Does it? Good question. I can see arguments against it — it can lead to things like the 1872 Mining Act.

    But we *already have* permanent spending and taxation for all the *worst* things in the government. We’re way better off if we do it for everything than this complete bullshit under which most of the *good* things are subject to hostage negotiations every year, while the *bad* things continue regardless.

    The looters aren’t stupid. *Their* laws aren’t subject to Harding’s “budget” nonsense. The Department of the Treasury, in its role as support of major banks, can basically continue operating indefinitely, because it’s got permanent funding!

    As long as institutions like that have permanent funding, everything should have permanent funding. (Of course, permanent means “permanent until Congress repeals it”).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, what? The mandatory spending is almost all on social programs. The discretionary spending is about half on the military, which in principle is subject to hostage negotiations, and in practice gets fully funded each year by bipartisan consensus.

    Eric Reply:

    No, it’s just that gerrymandering after the 2010 census has allowed the Republicans to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives even though they only got a minority of the voters. And those Republican seats disproportionally belong to the more extreme wing of the party. Being an unpopular minority, these Republicans cannot pass any legislation of their own, all they can do is hold up other groups’ legislation.

  3. Tim
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 23:22

    And to think, the debt ceiling boondoggle (<– see what I did there) is only 2 weeks away…..

  4. Donk
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 23:58

    If you don’t care about anything else in the world except for HSR, then this would be a good thing, since it will result in more Republicans being kicked out of office.

    Same with immigration reform. If they don’t pass it this cycle, there are going to be many fewer Republicans in the house in 2015.

    More broke federal workers + more angry Hispanics = more HSR

    Andy M Reply:

    Is there any evidence that angry Hispanics are likely to be more pro HSR than some other random sample of the population? I mean, coming from countries that have even less of a passenger train culture than the US? I wouldn’t want to wager on their support.

    It is a frequent error in democratic thinking that if you are nicer to people than the other lot are and help they more than the other lot are, then they are going to agree with everything you do after that and it will remain thus for ever.

    joe Reply:

    Yes. The same poll showed they were more pro rail.

    It’s not being “nicer” that helps Dems with Hispanic voters. Cooperation and inclusiveness is the cornerstone of a political party.

    And they are being driven to one party, you can be a 4th generation Hispanic and get harassed over citizenship. A frequent error in GOP thinking is that culture war politics doesn’t attract American white supremacy.

    Karl Rove was unable to use legacy dog whistle politics about lazy undeserving getting welfare and free stuff AND appeal to the Hispanic voter.

    nick Reply:

    Yes the way the Mitt Romney tried to win the Hispanic vote was by applying some tan before a meeting and asking that some of their family friends or relatives “self deport” themselves. Strange really considering his background. The good thing about it was that it was yet another milepost on the way to Mitts “self un-electability” !

    I don’t understand how the Republicans can act in a way that is so against the best interests of the country. Apparently 800,000 are temporarily out of work despite the regular criticism of unemployment under Obama. Their action or inaction could threaten the USA’s credit rating which would lead to higher debt payments. And stocks went down worldwide when news of the impending shutdown broke thus wiping billions of share values. And they say Obama is anti-business. What hypocrites

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s not their interests, it’s who they identify with that matters, exploit that and the Repubs/baggers are finished as a national party.

    nick Reply:

    What about having an American mother and being born in Hawaii and being harassed about your citizenship ? Would a white American such as myself be asked that ?

    VBobier Reply:

    No one would care.

    jonathan Reply:

    rick: Ask yourself whether Ted Cruz will get “Birthers”. And he _was_ born in Canada.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    John McCain was born in Panama. IOKIYAR

    VBobier Reply:

    And My older Niece was born in Japan.

    Andy M Reply:

    I’m not sure I fully buy into that.

    The worst of the middle class are the newcomers. You know, if you’ve been living in a house with a white wicket fence in urban-sprawlistan and driving cars for three generations you sort of get to see it’s not really what its made out to be and are ready to dump it all and go back to the city and live in an apparment in a walkable neighborhood and go to work on public transportation. But if you’ve just made it into the middle class and all your family and friends are just about surviving an inch or two above the poverty line, that lifestyle is part of your status. It’s what makes people look up to you. You’re not going to voluntarily live in an inner city or catch the bus. There is pressure on you to show that you’ve made it in the world and living in sprawlistan and driving a car is part of that. People who have lived in sprawlistan forever maybe forget or ignore that, because they haven’t seen it from the outside and don’t appreciate how people who can’tz afford that are envying them. But ignoring something is nor making it go away.

    It would be nice if such people supported public transportation nevertheless, but honestly, I’m not holding my breath for it.

    joe Reply:

    There’s no better place to find cash in a budget than forgoing a car. Even reduce that dependency; live in a walkable community, commute on public transit and you save hundreds in a family budget per month. Everyone gets it. Everyone.

    What we’ll see is de facto tiered public transit. To me that’s the Santa Clara Express bus vs Local. The VTA 522 vs the 22 on El camino. One costs more, offers wifi and runs faster and stops less.

    The 168 from San Jose to Gilroy vs the Local 68 – very different ridership. And Caltrain vs 68 bus.

    I could make a counter argument that those who climb out of the “lower” immigrant class (not that many right now can) are successful with planning, prioritizing, budgeting and “sacrifice” consumerism.

    Joey Reply:

    What’s gilroy’s transit mode share? How many people don’t need a car for basic functions like buying groceries or getting kids to and from school?

    Derek Reply:

    That depends on how you define “need.”

    joe Reply:

    You tell me Joey.
    I don’t really care to bother rooting around when you have internet connection. Answer your own broad questions to your own satisfaction.

    To me it depends.

    It depends on where you choose to live in Gilroy. You can choose to live in a gated community or in the old town center. You can choose to use your local school or use a Dual Immersion school outside your area. It all depends on where you choose to live. It depends if you are uncomfortable in a predominately Spanish speaking / Mexican store.

    VTA buses serve city shopping centers.
    My home’s walk-ability index is 80. At my old SF Noe Valley address, it is currently was 82.
    I can walk or drive.

    VTA’s local bus lines carry a lower economic class. Express buses cost more and do not. They cost more, offer more for commuters and are designed to attract commuters. It’s a far better ride for getting to and form work. They even stop at Caltrain stations which serve as transit stations in south county.

    Capitol Corridor will add three commuter trains (each way) to the area in 2018, for 6 total with an intention to add three and total nine trains.

    Brian Reply:

    There was this little poll:

    It got some coverage here:

    When you look at the cross tabs, Latinos support HSR more and are more likely to use HSR. That despite the push-poll, negatives only, wording of the HSR question. I believe those results would qualify as evidence.

  5. jimsf
    Oct 1st, 2013 at 07:42

    Its not the northern counties who should secede from cali, its cali who should dump the dead weight of the US.

    joe Reply:

    Under 10,000 people in Modoc think California oppresses them because they don’t get an equal voice in Sacramento.

    A vote to secede is a vote to dissolve the County.

    Dissolve these counties and merge them with larger counties. Anyone that unhappy can hitch up a wagon and ride to Wyoming. I’m sure the Modoc Nation would be glad to lose the “squatters”.

    Derek Reply:

    Reynolds v. Sims is why those counties don’t get equal representation like the states do in the U.S. senate. If they had equal representation and they still felt like they were underrepresented, they could simply divide up into smaller counties in order to get more seats in the California state senate.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    They can tack the North to Oregon and the East to Nevada.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Assuming Oregon or Nevada would want them.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, agreed.

    jimsf Reply:

    The northern counties of california are too nice and too valuable to let them go. They must stay. Obvioulsy most on this blog are urban dwellers with little appreciation for the rest of the state but trust me, the north is the most stunning part of cali. If we go, they come with us, whether they want to or not. We can always give them more of what they want to placate them.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Some in south OR and north CA want to split and form a new state called Jefferson. So I asked one blogger how they would handle: land use, development, forestry, mining, water rights, plowing snow off the highways, highway patrol, education, medical services, fire protection… and then, what would be their policy on nuclear energy, National Guard, and would they have an international airport which requires TSA. I wanted them to think about what states typically take care of, how it relates to Federal functions etc. and appreciate what they get being a part of California aside form poor representation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Poor representation? They get all those lush subsidies from the state, what else do they want?

    James in PA Reply:

    I don’t think they know what they are asking for. I suspect it would not turn out to be the utopia they imagine.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People with the same mindset are common up here in the mountains. They whine endlessly about how their tax money goes to those awful downstaters. The State publishes statistics. Last set I saw, they don’t vary much year to year had some interesting tidbits. 40 percent of the population lives in New York City. The state collects 60 percent of it’s revenue in NYC. Another 20 percent of the population lives in the suburbs of NYC. And remits 20 percent of the revenue. The rest of the state has 40 percent of the population and remits 20 percent.
    Apparently so does the state of California.

    …let ’em go. they are a drain on the treasury.

    Andy M Reply:

    Let them go, I say. They’ll come back sooner or later, but wiser.

    VBobier Reply:

    They want minority rule reinstated, what else…

    Tony D. Reply:

    You know Jim, it’s the fact that rural idiots from the south and interior (through their reps) that are ruining this country is what makes me yearn for a California secession…

    jimsf Reply:

    People think its a crazy idea but everytime I think about the size of the state economy, which rivals many developed nations I think,….”what in hell are we playing footie with the us for if we have everything we need and are paying them extra to prop up less productive welfare states…

    Lets face it, we don’t live, think and dream the way the rest of the country does. ( do they even dream at all?)

    Think of the possibilities of making our own trade agreements, our own immigration policies, our own energy policies, managing our own natural resources/parks/coast/water/timber/minerals/ag. etc.

    Imaging being able to tell washintong dc what we will, and will not do, or go along with. I can’t think of single state that I couldn’t live without.

    Joey Reply:

    We loose money to federal government, but not too far from breaking even. The really shafted states are the urbanized ones in the Northeast. I agree with everything else you said though.

    Donk Reply:

    In general, the Red State and Red District congressmen have no business telling the rest of the country to cut spending, since their states are by far the biggest moochers of federal funds. These articles focus on income taxes, but they don’t even take into account other stuff like FEMA funding or transportation funding, which also overwhelmingly favor the Red States (per capita):

    So I don’t understand why we can’t just tell all congressmen from the moocher states and districts to shut their pie-holes, since their states (and districts) are just a drain on the economy. We should just pass a new sequester that levels out all of the expenditures, and then see if the Red States will still talk about cutting taxes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Wikipedia article includes all taxes and all spending.

    And the numbers have shifted around a bit since 2007. States hit hard by the recession, like Michigan, got a lot worse; California is now up to 91 cents in federal spending per dollar in federal taxes. See link to table and sources at my place, although the source links may not work because the census website is down because of the shutdown.

  6. Reedman
    Oct 1st, 2013 at 09:48

    A reminder that the debt ceiling vote is coming up (Oct 17 deadline). As has been mentioned above, we know how to shutdown the government — mandatory spending goes on, discretionary spending gets tabled. We’ve done it before. Nobody knows how to deal with hitting the debt ceiling — we’ve never had the temerity to test it.

    In rail news: a reminder that Jerry Browns 60 day cooling-off ends on October 10, and another BART strike is possible.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry will have to launder money thru MTC to BART and AC to bankroll Amalgamated raises. Otherwise a straight pass-thru in the form of fare hikes and service cuts would anger the public against the sacrosanct house unions.

    I have not been following the State tax receipts as to whether they have been jumping but on the spending side it sure seems increasing demands. Amalgamated, the Federal courts demanding more prison spending, the teachers always greedy – my surmise is Jerry is going thru the Prop 30 money fast.

    They could start saving by cutting Janet Napolitano’s take down to to $150k from, what, $500k? If that is not sufficient for her, hire some unemployed UC graduate off the street and buy him a nice suit or two and lease an apartment in Berkeley. Good enough.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes it’s a pity it’s not 1955 anymore and the schools can’t get lesbians and divorced women to work at low wages as teachers.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Relatively 1955 was more prosperous than now altho most people got by with one car. Perhaps fewer possessions but nothing like the homelessness of today.

    The average clod could buy a house on one income. I do not remember any female teachers who were butch.

    Times were different. As teenagers we could not give the cops any lip. They would just clock you. And that was that.

    VBobier Reply:

    The US Dollar relative to other currencies back then was stronger, but then most countries were still rebuilding from the calamity that was WWII, Germany and Japan were still in ruins to one extent or another, though Germany would be split in two for decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was more prosperous if you were white male and straight. That usually came with a union membership card for the straight white males who weren’t WASP.

    jimsf Reply:

    now that the nation’s “demographics” have “changed” suddenly we are “broke” and there is no money to pay for all those nice middle class perks. Seems like everyone grabbed what they could and they are all heading for the hills.

    Andy M Reply:

    That’s more or less what happened. We partied too hard during the good years and now that times are getting a-tough, we awaken to the fact that we neglected the future.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The middle class was much larger than today because we were on top of our game. Japan and Germany in reconstruction still; the rest of Europe losing the colonies; the USSR and China totally self-contained and inward looking. Fat city.

    Unfortunately for rail, and especially electric transit rail, a very bad time.

    Andy M Reply:

    yup, absolutely so.

    TomA Reply:

    Sounds more like everyone else was off of their game, than us being at the top of ours.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The US poverty rate in 1955 was a lot higher than today, actually.

    Teenagers (especially black ones) didn’t give cops any lip, because cops would kill them and nobody would care or even take a photograph. The riots were when people were fed up with this arrangement.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The correct method to handle the “debt ceiling” nonsense is the trillion dollar coin — it’s the only option which is *unambiguously* legal and constitutional. In fact, it is required.

    The fact that the idiots in DC aren’t talking about it is a sign of how utterly nonexistent the rule of law is in the US.

    Without the rule of law, I see no point in having a federal government. Let’s print our own money, grab the useful bits of the federal government (the EPA, the Postal Service) and ditch the deadweight (Congress, the President, the military).

  7. James M in Irvine, CA
    Oct 1st, 2013 at 11:37

    Too bad we can’t withhold their pay from our taxes.


    Howard Reply:

    Did you read the news about how the WWII Veterans broke down the barriers around the “closed” WWII monument?Is this the begining of another “Bonus Army” patriotic protest againt the shutdown of the Federal Government? Will there now be an “Occupy Washington” with all the furlowed Federal employees?

    VBobier Reply:

    Doubt it, bunch of 90+ year old WWII vets, plus some Repub Rep helping to distract the Park Police, but then these vets may not have another chance to visit the memorial, it was now or probably never.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A thought occurred to me–maybe the Park Police let the vets in because the policemen were decent people who understood how much it meant to the veterans? Maybe they were people who might not have fired upon the “Bonus Army” of the 1930s?

    As much as I think I live in the wrong time, I do see some things that have improved since the steam age.

  8. trentbridge
    Oct 1st, 2013 at 15:49

    Did AA Milne thinking about John Boehner when he wrote Winnie the Pooh?

    ““When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    or pehaps:

    “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    D. P. Lubic Reply:


  9. Reedman
    Oct 2nd, 2013 at 15:42

    FYI, off track:
    Video from British Transport of a bicyclist almost meeting her maker by not observing the train crossing gates.

  10. Brian_FL
    Oct 2nd, 2013 at 17:25

    O/T but more positive passenger news out of Florida:,0,1139471.story

    All Aboard Florida (AAF) has secured agreements with the Orlando airport authority (GOAA) today and will receive an agreement tomorrow from the local Orlando area toll road authority (OOCEA). A new $200 million dollar station (using state grant money!! Imagine that) will be built at the airport along with a $50 million dollar train maintenance facility to hold up to 8 of the 10 AAF train sets for the new service. With these agreements this week, AAF can now begin construction of the new service between Orlando and Miami. Train set manufacturer and operator to be announced soon as well as station designs for Miami, WPB, and Ft Lauderdale by end of year. Construction will begin soon according to AAF, with operations set to start late 2015.

    More comments and information at:

  11. joe
    Oct 2nd, 2013 at 20:19
    High-speed can succeed: Study says bullet trains in Illinois costly but feasible
    A true high-speed rail system in Illinois would be hugely expensive but feasible, whisking passengers at 220 mph from Chicago to St. Louis and, eventually, Indianapolis, a new state-funded study concluded.
    A game-changing transportation system like that would take a “substantial” public investment but would not need operating subsidies, according to a panel of experts at both campuses of the University of Illinois and several outside consulting firms.
    But here’s the catch: It would cost at least $20 billion to build the Illinois segment alone, using the cheapest construction method, and could cost as much as $50 billion to extend it to Indianapolis and the St. Louis airport, using the most optimal, long-lasting construction method.
    The staggering cost of building a true high-speed rail system could be mitigated to some extent by using a “blended” approach, using some existing track at lower speeds.

    Good luck building anything high speed to Indianapolis.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Any word on the current Chicago – St. Louis project? I read the press releases that get reprinted in the papers, but I can’t see that the service has changed much since the project started.

    joe Reply:

    IN progress.

    On the Chicago-St. Louis route, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad will begin the second of three phases of 2013 upgrades for future 110 mph operation of Amtrak Lincoln Service trains, according to an Amtrak press release.–37541


    CHICAGO — Workers are entering the final phases of upgrades that will someday allow Amtrak trains between Chicago and St. Louis to travel at up
    to 110 mph.

    Amtrak officials say the construction work includes new rail with concrete ties, upgrades to bridges and signal equipment installations.

    Starting Oct. 16, there’ll be bus service for sections of Amtrak routes. The work will last eight days.

    Read more:

  12. Spokker
    Oct 2nd, 2013 at 23:05

    I didn’t know it when I moved, but I managed to move into a district with a bro-tier Republican Congressman who opposed getting involved in Syria when people cared about that. I was going to research him some more but it turns out he won’t run for another term. In any case, I was happy just looking forward to never getting a Loretta Sanchez Christmas card in the mail ever again.

    With the Tea Party seemingly taking the government “hostage,” I bet ya’ll want to be dealing with Neocons exclusively again.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Personally I want to deal with maximally offputting Republicans so that Democrats can retake the House. Pelosi is actually a good leader.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t think so, Tim.

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