The Tea Party’s Political Storm

Jan 8th, 2014 | Posted by

Adam Nagourney has been writing extensively about California politics for the New York Times for a few years now. Usually he makes good insights, but sometimes he misses the point entirely. His article yesterday on California high speed rail falls into the latter category.

Gov. Jerry Brown of California is riding into an election year on a wave of popularity and an upturn in the state’s fortunes. But a project that has become a personal crusade for him over the past two years — a 520-mile high-speed train line from Los Angeles to San Francisco — is in trouble, reeling from a court ruling that undermined its financing, and from slipping public support and opponents’ rising calls to shut it down.

This overstates the case – HSR is not in serious political jeopardy, and as the articles goes on to note leaders in the Legislature continue to support it. But more importantly, it gets the story backward. The “rising calls to shut it down” are coming from Tea Party members of Congress, who have blocked new federal funding and set in motion the court case that Nagourney is responding to (though he is wrong to suggest that the ruling “undermined its financing”).

The main problem is that Nagourney casts Republican opposition as a reaction to the project’s problems, rather than its cause:

“It’s time for the governor to pull up the tracks,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, who is the majority whip in the House. “Everything he has said has not come to fruition. It’s time to scratch the project.”…

“I don’t see them getting any more money from the federal government,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I don’t see $9 billion to build it from California taxpayers, and I don’t see them getting any private investment.”

The only reason “everything he has said has not come to fruition” is because of McCarthy’s own actions. He is not a bystander or a pundit, he is actively working to destroy the project. He is the reason why the federal government won’t give any more money, and he began this anti-HSR crusade as soon as his party got the majority in the House in 2011, well before any of these recent “problems” emerged.

This is an unwanted complication for Mr. Brown, a Democrat, as he enters what otherwise looks to be an easy bid for a second term, assuming he decides to run again. Republicans are united against the project and say they will use it to undercut Mr. Brown’s effort to present himself as a moderate and fiscally prudent check on the Democrat-controlled State Legislature.

A U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey of California voters taken in September, before the latest adverse court ruling, found that 52 percent of respondents wanted the project canceled. Just 43 percent continued to support it. The initiative was approved in 2008 with the support of 52 percent of voters.

Let’s be clear: Brown is in no danger whatsoever of losing his bid for re-election. It won’t even be close. And we can go further and say that HSR won’t be a factor in the race. In 2012 Republicans tried to use HSR against California Democrats and failed in each race it was tried. Those poll numbers aren’t great, but it represents a fairly small swing from the 2008 election.

It’s also important to keep these issues in perspective. Building a piece of major transportation infrastructure is never easy, as Rod Diridon points out:

“We’ve talked about the Golden Gate Bridge having 2,300 different lawsuits against it at one time,” Mr. Diridon said. “Big projects tend to have problems. I think it’s going to go. It may not even be delayed.”

That’s a reasonable point to make and indicates that the “political storm” HSR is facing is more of a common winter rain than a hurricane.

Sadly, Nagourney gives the last word to McCarthy, who again is allowed to talk like a pundit rather than the chief reason for the HSR system’s woes. The reader doesn’t get the true story, then, which is that Tea Party members of the House have waged an ideological war against California HSR which is causing all sorts of problems for the project.

What would have been interesting is if Nagourney had written about the discussions of having California go it alone in funding the project. He has written in the past about California’s divergent political path from the rest of the country, and so you’d think that angle would appeal to him. Instead he wrote a story that ignored the Tea Party’s role in creating the problems in the first place.

  1. John Nachtigall
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 08:47
    #1

    let me translate

    “If only the federal government would give us 100 billion dollars we would have no problems. And its the GOP and the Teas party that prevents that from happening”

    The problem with this narative is that there was never a promise to give this money in the first place. At no time, even when the democrats were in charge, was a promise to fund 70-90% of a CA only project made by the federal government.

    The core issue is that 9 billion was not nearly enough contribution from the CA side and dream of private money was just that, a dream.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe AdNags needs to read his won newspaper.

    By MICHAEL COOPER
    Published: January 2, 2012
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/us/politics/for-high-speed-rail-support-in-the-past-from-gop-presidential-hopefuls.html?_r=0

    President Obama’s program to bring bullet trains to the United States has been left on life support by the strident opposition of Republicans in Congress and in statehouses around the nation. But the idea may carry more favor with some of the Republican candidates vying to unseat Mr. Obama, who have a history of supporting high-speed rail.

    As recently as 2004, the Republican Party platform stated that “Republicans support, where economically viable, the development of a high-speed passenger railroad system as an instrument of economic development and enhanced mobility.”

    J. Wong Reply:

    “The problem with this nar[r]ative is that there was never a promise to give this money in the first place.”

    Why is that a problem? It seems like lots of projects have started without a promise (but with an assumption) of federal funds. Usually, Congress agreed, but with the Tea Party, the party of “No”, in charge, Congress stopped everything. Note that HSR did get Federal funds when the Dem’s controlled Congress before 2010.

    Also, Prop1A funds were only seed money. The assumption that other funds would have to be found was always implicit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    prop 1a was supposed to be 20-40% of the money depending on which estimates you belived. The costs have now doubled at least (really more but until they start to get cost overruns you have to assume just doubled).

    And if you start a project without a promise (and just an assumption) then why is it the fault of the people you assumed would give you money. If your parents always give you gas money on Monday and then they dont because they decide they want you to get a job and support yourself, who is to blame, your parents or you for assuming the gravy train would last forever?

    flowmotion Reply:

    Well, California got lucky and ended up with stimulus funds intended for other states’ LSR systems, otherwise we wouldn’t even be at this point.

    My question is, where is the serious funding proposal from Feinstein or Pelosi? It’s easy to blame the tea party, but I’m not seeing any democrats sticking their necks out for HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s simple Repubs currently hold and control all bills that enter or leave the House of Representatives in DC and only bills that have support from the Majority of the Majority get voted on, that’s the Hastert Rule, unless the little thing called an Election changes that by changing the balance of power in the House, by putting at least 17 ungerrymandered House seats back into Democratic hands and holding on to a further 7 seats in the House, while also holding or enlarging Democratic control of the US Senate…

    Democrats need 17-19 seats that’s all, this is a Serious Election folks, here’s the battle plan…

    Below are 27 House seats that need to be taken back/or kept from Insane People, the 17 house seats Obama won are not gerrymandered, three of the seats are pickup seats, the last 2 seats(UT-04 & PA-06)I do not know if they’re gerrymandered or not…

    States where Romney won(7 states)
    AZ-01 Ann Kirkpatrick (D–Flagstaff) R+3
    AZ-02 Ron Barber (D–Tucson) R+3
    GA-12 John Barrow (D–Augusta) R+9
    MN-07 Collin Peterson (DFL–Detroit Lakes) R+5
    NC-07 Mike McIntyre (D–Lumberton) R+11
    UT-04 Jim Matheson (D–Salt Lake City) R+14
    VA-03 Robert C. Scott (D–Newport News) D+27

    States where President Obama won(17 states)*
    DCCC Potential Targets

    *CA-10 Jeff Denham (R–Atwater) R+1
    *CA-21 David Valadao (R–Hanford) R+2
    *CA-31 Gary Miller (R–Rancho Cucamonga) D+5
    *CO-06 Mike Coffman (R–Aurora) D+1
    *FL-13 *Vacant* (R–Indian Shores) R+1/ Alex Sink (D) running for FL-13 in a Mar 2014 Special Election
    *FL-27 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–Miami) R+2
    *IA-03 Tom Latham (R–Clive) R+1/ Retiring
    *MN-02 John Kline (R–Lakeville) R+2
    *MN-03 Erik Paulsen (R–Eden Prairie) R+2
    *NJ-02 Frank LoBiondo (R–Ventnor) EVEN
    *NJ-03 Jon Runyan (R–Mount Laurel Township) R+2
    *NV-03 Joe Heck (R–Henderson) EVEN
    *NY-02 Peter T. King (R–Seaford) R+1
    *NY-11 Michael Grimm (R–Staten Island) R+4
    *NY-19 Chris Gibson (R–Kinderhook) D+1
    *VA-02 Scott Rigell (R–Virginia Beach) R+2
    VA-10 Frank Wolf(R-Vienna-Retiring) R+2
    *WA-08 Dave Reichert (R–Auburn) R+2

    UT-04 Jim Matheson(D-SaltLake-Retiring) D+2
    PA-06 Jim Gerlach(R-Chester Springs-Retiring) R+1

    We need to get bills like this and a raise in the minimum wage passed H.R. 1601: Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2013 and that will require a Democratically controlled Congress where insanity does not rule…

    VOTE as many Repubs out of office on Tuesday NOvember 4th, 2014 as possible to fix the USA…

    The House has 435 seats, 218 are a majority, Democrats have 201 now.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Democrats had a majority in 2009-10.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    So… can we now finally consider viable upgrades that will actually benefit the people of California such as turning LOSSAN into a HSR corridor 120 mph max, electrified or not. It would probably be completed by 2020, able to carry more passengers and hit a sweetspot turning the corridor into the busiest outside of NEC.

    Make it run from somewhere Santa Barbara to San Diego. Plenty of people who would be ready to ditch the car to take a train that can beat travelling times to and from Los Angeles. Plenty of college students who would most definitely take advantage of this to travel from home to school and vice versa.

    Let’s face it. $100 billion is just not going to happen and the more this project gets delayed the more embarrassing it gets. The Authority should start drafting a plan B.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    The biggest problem with a LOSSAN first proposal is obviously that it wouldn’t have the votes from NorCal because it leaves them isolated and the original HSR was supposed to bridge the gap. But, I think we can always bridge the gap later on once we get more revenue in.

    Travis Reply:

    Good luck getting the votes for that.

    Travis Reply:

    “Hi, we’re Southern California. We’ve already taken all the water from Northern California, now we want to spend all of the state’s high-speed rail money too. Please vote to pass our bond, liberal San Francisco-ites!”

    EJ Reply:

    It already is the busiest US rail corridor other than the NEC. But why leave NorCal out? There are plenty of potential improvements up there: SF-Sac, Caltrain electrification, etc.

    Though, often as I personally take the Surfliner between San Diego and Santa Barbara, I think major improvements north (or, technically, west) of Chatsworth are less of a priority. You’ve got some pretty expensive mountain construction there, and Santa Barbara’s always been pretty emphatic about their desire to not be yet another LA exurb. I’d say – complete the LAUS run-through tracks, settle on a solution for Miramar Hill in San Diego, double track as much of the line south of San Clemente as possible, electrify the whole line from SD through LAUS up the valley to Chatsworth, and then continue to use diesel hauled trains between there and SLO.

    You’d still have to solve the San Clemente/San Juan Capistrano bottleneck eventually, IIRC correctly there was a proposal a while back to just tunnel under the whole thing, it was supposed to cost something like $2 billion.

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed.

    Travis Reply:

    The problem with SF-Sac is that I don’t think there’s much more you can do without a new ROW. UP isn’t going to allow the Cal-P to be electrified, so you’re stuck with diesel motive power… which means there aren’t a whole lot of (efficient) speed gains to be made.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s BS Travis, UP does not own the Caltrain ROW anymore, that ended when the SP sold the ROW, UP only has trackage rights now, so UP has no say in Caltrain going electric.

    Travis Reply:

    Umm, no, it’s not BS and SF-Sacramento has nothing to do with Caltrain whatsoever.

    The Cal-P is the UP Martinez Subdivision – the line from Oakland to Sacramento via Martinez and Davis, which carries the current Capitols service. It’s a heavily-used freight corridor and has pretty much been brought to full capacity.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, and I know it’s been argued to death on this blog and elsewhere, but SF-Sac via Dumbarton and Altamont would be a solid first stage project for California HSR. It’s not the most direct route, but it’s more constructable than trying to upgrade the trackage around San Pablo bay, even without UP’s input. And at HSR speeds transit times from SF-SAC would be very reasonable. Not to mention it would be easy to overlay good quality commuter service between Stockton/Tracy and both SF and Sacramento.

    And of course then you’ve got a viable mountain crossing between the CV and the Bay Area that can be hooked into a future line to SoCal.

    EJ Reply:

    Of course, what I’m talking about would be primarily new ROW, the existing line through Niles Canyon and Altamont isn’t viable for high speed service and UP probably would object.

  2. Eric
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 09:08
    #2

    Best description I’ve heard of for the Tea Party…

    “Ideological purity.
    Compromise as weakness.
    A fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism.
    Denying science.
    Unmoved by facts.
    Undeterred by new information.
    A hostile fear of progress.
    A demonization of education.
    A need to control women’s bodies.
    Severe xenophobia.
    Tribal mentality.
    Intolerance of dissent.
    Pathological hatred of the U.S. government.
    They can call themselves the Tea Party. They can call themselves conservatives. And they can even call themselves Republicans, though Republicans certainly shouldn’t. But we should call them what they are – The American Taliban.”

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    you just described zealots across both sides of the political spectrum.

    And I dont think calling people names and comparing them to terrorists is a great way of negotiating.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    I’m addressing my response to both Eric and John:

    Eric – if you’re quoting from a source other than yourself in describing the Tea Party, you would help us greatly if you could name your source and refer us to where we could find it. Thank you!

    John – If Eric is quoting from a source other than himself, then that source is the actual one “calling people names.”

    Moreover, the Tea Party hasn’t exactly earned itself the reputation of being the kind of group one can expect to negotiate with on a reasoned, adult basis.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    fair points, but the tea party is just the latest in a long line of political offshoots and splinters that have all the same aspects. the difference is they have managed to stay relavant and organized.

    The tea party is no more zealous than the occupy movement. The occupy movement distrusts government, had a fear of progress (globalization), tribal mentality, intolerance of dissent, etc. The difference is the tea party managed to actually change something, as opposed to the occupy movement just melting away.

    And it is Eric’s (or whomever he quoted) right to say all that. But to call them terrorists is both wrong and bad strategy. you can’t compare someone to a terrorist and then turn around and wonder why they wont engage you in a civil, reasoned conversation.

    They are Americans just like you and me. They have a passion for what they belive in and are willing to get involved in politics to make their vision happen through non-violent manipulation of the political system. That is exactly how it is supposed to work in democracy. That is how every other group (AARP, NAACP, NRA, Corporate America) does it and how it is supposed to be done. They dont blow up buildings or threaten to shoot people who dont agree.

    I dont actually agree with them on most issues and I absolutly dont agree with the “no compromise” vision that seems to dominate the movement. But they are playing by the rules and dont deserve to be compared to people who specifically dont play by the rules (terrorists).

    you dont like them…start a movement that attracts voters and elect your own canidates. Or better yet, find some common ground and start to work with them on issues you agree on. For example, the tea party does not like NSA spying just as much as the left detests it. But they are too busy calling each other names to work together. Now me personally, I am fine with what the NSA is doing, but if the majority wants it stopped they could do it, but it takes talk and understanding, not calling each other terrorists.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    The Tea Party was born sold out, from the moment Rick Santelli ranted about how the blame for the Great Recession should be placed at the lowest rung of the economic ladder. There have been plenty of authoritarian regimes to claim the populist mantle, but there has never been one as plutocratic.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement was weak because of its distrust of authority led it to reject anything resembling leadership, but while they were in the headlines, they performed an important function: they reminded the pundits where the real Left was, and for a few months, these pundits stopped demaning that Obama should take a position halfway between itself and the Republicans.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The rich establishment will always try to co-opt. That’s why the Tea Party needs to stay on the crazy side – to scare off the Wall Street hangers-on.

    The real world is all sell-out. Look at Egypt. Kumbaya cannot handle the truth.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    The rich establishment will always try to co-opt. That’s why the Tea Party needs to stay on the crazy side – to scare off the Wall Street hangers-on.

    Too late. The Koch brothers and Dick Armey were not scared off.

    Eric Reply:

    The quote is from the the HBO show “The Newsroom”, episode 10 – “The Greater Fool”, by the character of Will McAvoy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Same guy who said hurricanes are caused by high air pressure?

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, they tanked on that line. Hard to say if it was Jeff Daniels flubbing the line or Aaron Sorkin not researching it as he wrote it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wouldn’t they shoot another take if Daniels got the line wrong? (Granted, I don’t know the conventions for ad libs or retakes on Sorkin shows… that said, Sorkin has a reputation for zealously claiming writer credit, so my barely informed guess is he’s more zealous about actors getting their lines right.)

    jonathan Reply:

    …..apparently quoting from the season finale of HBO’s _The Newsroom_.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’ve heard something similar to this many years ago, possibly on atheist forums. Sorkin sometimes steals things from Internet witticisms – see e.g. the presidential monologue in The West Wing about taking the Bible too literally (“I’d like to sell my daughter into slavery, what would be a good price for her?”, etc.).

    jonathan Reply:

    “American Taliban” by Markos Moulitsas? (Founder of The Daily Kos)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe it originally comes from Kos, but I remember this long before this book was published, in 2010.

  3. synonymouse
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 11:05
    #3

    Be advised the Taliban and Al Qaeda are strengthening in their redoubts.

    Be interesting if the Saudi princes try to cut an alliance of convenience with Al Qaeda in their war with the Ayatollah and his Bomb aborning.

    Meantime your fearless leader Moonbeam is going to declare a state drought emergency so he can send NorCal water down south to fill swimming pools in Beverly Hills.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    equally non-helpful

    enough with the terrorist and nazi references. We can all disagree and be polite. It is not mutually exclusive.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    He’s not being impolite (and no big deal to the world if he were.)
    He’s being reality-estranged.
    Little different, other than in fluctuating degree, from any other frequent contributor here.
    “Al Quaeda” “Moonbeam”
    “Millenials” “Amtrak success”
    “Demand curve”
    “America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals”
    “Transit oriented development” “vibrant”
    “Trenton” “Princeton Junction”
    Whatever

    EJ Reply:

    At least when you’re moaning about there being too many black (excuse me, “ghetto”) people on BART we can understand what the hell you’re talking about.

  4. Rob Dawg
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 13:14
    #4

    Does anyone have a list of the private funding and amounts so that the scurrilous lie that there is no private funding can be quashed?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “—”
    “$0″

    You’re welcome.

    Rob Dawg Reply:

    Excellent. We can leverage that on top of the massive local commitments pouring in. Didn’t we just give Gilroy $600k to plan their station? Shouldn’t they have bid $600k just to be allowed to be considered for a station?

    Any news on how the private rail R-O-W encroachment negotiations are proceeding? Are they not willing to pay enough?

    joe Reply:

    Clever idea.

    Gilroy spent 150K of city money to do the initial education and outreach which wen into the city’s initial plan and station recommendation to CAHSRA.

    That City investment and decision to put the station downtown probably saved hundreds of thousands in needless lawsuits and support for the project helps keep the alignment along Pacheco. The 600k is followup to plan the station location in greater detail.

    You’ll be pouring billions into hick HSR towns like Fresno, Bakersfield and Gilroy soon enough.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    A downtown station raises the costs of the line by quite a few millions however. Saving hundreds of thousands in needless lawsuits is the epitome of penny wise, pound foolish.

    Joe Reply:

    Foolish is pretending trolling the city is at all serious. It’s sophomoric.

    The initial Hanford greenfield station was trenched. They didn’t even ask for one.

    We may not want the station downtown when EIR is refined. The idea building infill is pound foolish is totally inconsistent with every other station location except Hanford’s.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I honestly have no idea what in the world that comment of yours is supposed to be saying.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You need to be having some of what he’s having!

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Joe,

    I haven’t seen anything in which the decision to give Gilroy a downtown station has been made by CHSRA. Do you have a document or have you spoken to someone?

    Joe Reply:

    We, gilroy, have not approved a downtown station.
    I’ve linked to the documents – using a phone now so you can wait or go to the city’s highspeedtraun site. It’s all there.

    We recommended downtown trenched approach to the CAHSRA.
    Now they will work with the city to refine the station concept and design do we can continue to evaluate the options.

    If they out it out of town, near the hospital in a greenfield, we’ll still see a massive investment in the city. I doubt well have to pay to get a station, opposition to HSR has made gilroy’s cooperation an asset to the state.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’ll have what he’s having.

    VBobier Reply:

    Gilroy would have to pay for any trenching, the CHSRA said they won’t pay for any Trenching, they’ll build if someone else pays for a trench, but that’s it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Also in some areas trenches might not be advisable cause of the water table.

    joe Reply:

    The initial Hanford Station was at ground level and had a trenched approach to mitigate noise. There’s clearly precedent for trenching at stations. A ROW without a station is not the same thing.

    It’s hard to say about flooding. I saw a legacy picture of the downtown flooded 110+ years ago. Since then they’ve built levies and other flood control measures. The water table has sunk due to extensive pumping for Ag which is not going away. It’s so bad there are reservoirs to help recharge the ground water. Lifers here say local springs and wetlands are long gone – dried up as the water table was pumped. There’s no perched water table here as I know of – Hanford site has one.

    joe Reply:

    Phase II
    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/
    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Vision_Report_Final_web.pdf

    The goal of Phase II is to study potential impacts
    in more depth in order to develop a station area plan that will
    achieve the vision set out by the City of Gilroy. More research
    will be done to plan for positive new development and to fully
    assess economic, traffic and other potential impacts of the
    high-speed train and associated private development on the
    chosen station area site. The plan will be based upon the best
    practices for transit-oriented development within a half-mile
    radius of the station and will address location, transportation
    connectivity, and development issues.

    Phase III of Gilroy’s HST Station Area Planning project is the
    implementation phase involving environmental clearance,
    adopting the Station Area Plan as a Specific Plan, adopting
    General Plan and Zoning Code amendments, and performing
    other tasks necessary for implementation.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Keep the studies rolling, stack them and use them as retaining walls to line the trench. If there’s one thing HSR has learned from regional rail is the value of studies. Will any of it be built? Well, you can be sure the studies you are doing today will be out of date by the time construction is funded so you’ll have to do them all over again. Sip,sip sip at the gravy.

    joe Reply:

    Paul, you cannot complain about community involvement.

    The Gilroy studies educated citizens about, the project, the alignments, the station, the impacts to the city. It also produced a recommendation to the CAHSRA that the City can endorse and defend. It narrowed the number of studies CAHSRA needs to produce for the City – that saves money.

    There were bi-lingual workshops at multiple dates across Gilroy…people looked at and created multiple scenarios for the City. City Planners show early results and provided better maps and info to the Study about the land use and zoning. More workshops and the results included briefings to the City Council.

    The end result at Phase III will be a Specific Plan incorporating the Station. New Zoning, and Code amendments…

    I would have thought you’d be happy a city is working to a Specific Planf for a rail station at the existing, multi-use rail station. When people get involved it is not a waste of money – money and plans for building public infrastructure without involving the public doesn’t exist very long.

  5. 202_cyclist
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 14:39
    #5

    This hearing will be of interest:

    A Review of the Challenges Facing California High Speed Rail
    http://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=366174

    Invited Witnesses:
    •Honorable Joseph Szabo, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
    •Mr. Dan Richard, Chairman of the Board, California High Speed Rail Authority
    •Ms. Alissa Dolan, Congressional Research Service

  6. Alon Levy
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 17:56
    #6

    Off-topic: the Bully’s political career may be sinking like a… very heavy thing.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25659532

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    This turned up on my Facebook page:

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/01/09/3140081/bridge-sociopathy/

    What’s really worrying is that there seem to be so many of them in all levels of government and in business, too. Making things worse, I think we are in a period of diminished opportunity. Think of how if you wanted to be a president of an automobile company, that in the 1950s you had not only the remaining American Three, but you also had Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, Willys, and Kaiser, plus specialty automotive builders such as Checker and Difco (milk trucks). Today all that’s left are GM, Chrysler, and Ford, and Chrysler is owned by Italians in the form of Fiat.

    What do we do with people with ambition who also want to be moral and not be barracudas and sharks? What do we do as a nation if we be ruled by barracudas and sharks?

    Did such a barracuda or shark misclassify the shipment again?

    http://news.yahoo.com/train-carrying-oil-derails-catches-fire-canada-133548843.html

  7. Herb McLane
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 20:13
    #7

    I’m just a passenger train rider, here in the USA and in Europe. Observing the passenger rail service in Germany and being a life long resident of California (minus 10 years in Oregon) I am baffled at the fight between higher UP’s about passenger rail service. Ive seen how Germany stacks transportation modes (air, rail and road) so that passengers can fly in, use rail and then use cars. It’s a system that provides real choice and is beneficial to the nation in many ways. California (and the nation) need a rail passenger component that provides links between intermediate towns and cities as well as the end point cites. Statistics and personal ridership observation has shown me that we can’t have a HSR line without a supporting operation that connects the smaller cites and towns to the system.

    Observer Reply:

    I too have traveled in Europe. When I compare their more integrated transportation system against what we have, I sigh. We are lagging badly behind. Perhaps HSR can be a beginning; people perhaps will realize the need and absolute sense of an efficiently integrated transportation system. But their is hope, in Fresno for instance they are the verge of approving a Bus Rapid Transit project (it is fully funded) that will stop near the HSR station. Of course tea party council members are leading the charge against it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Europe’s railroad network was also more impressive in 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed but even in the 1900s when the SP was at its peak.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    One big difference between German (and other European countries) and the US is that the sense and awareness of “service public” is much more developed, as well as urbanism and planning. Infrastructure is considered a service public, and it is the “Staat” (interesting, there is no suitable word for that in English… should be some food for thought; “government” has a completely different tone) who is setting the guidelines. An integrated (at least to some extent) plan for transportation infrastructure usually exists, and has been approved by the political powers.

    An other thing is that service public and planning is accepted by a wide political spectrum, which means that even if there is a change in the political landscape, infrastructure projects are not completely overturned, but maybe changed. But the principal idea and concepts remain. In the US, it is possible for a single person to overturn infrastructure projects, just for ideological or whatever else reasons. Maybe some people in the US would need some lessons in democracy…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “In the US, it is possible for a single person to overturn infrastructure projects, just for ideological or whatever else reasons. Maybe some people in the US would need some lessons in democracy.

    Sadly, this is true.

  8. michael allen
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 21:06
    #8

    In California, the Republican Party is going extinct. There are more registered Independents than registered Republicans in California. The ‘Tea Party’ Republicans are a very small minority within California. The opinion of “Tea Party” Republicans in California should not count for much in any major policy debate in the state. Unfortunately, the media gives this group of ‘conservatives’ far more attention than they deserve and as a result the ‘tea party’ has more media and opinion influence than they deserve.

    Which brings me to the polls which showing 52 percent in favor of canceling the Bullet Train. When the media reports only negative viewpoints on any particular policy, public opinion tends to shift in the negative direction. But this negative shift cannot be sustained if IN REALITY a particular policy also has positive merits. Because in REALITY, voters will weigh both the pros and cons of any particular policy against each other. A great example of this is the current polling on Obamacare. The polling was very unfavorable recently due to the website fiasco and the intensely negative press that it generated. But looking forward 6 months, the REALITY of Obamacare will be that millions of people will have health insurance for the very first time. And this positive REALITY will be weighed by the public against the negative aspects of Obamacare such as the individual mandate penalty. And the polls on Obamacare will become more positive and more reflective of the REALITY of this policy.

    If construction begins on the bullet train in 2014, many Californians will be employed by this project. This will be the new REALITY of the bullet train – Employment. And average voters will weigh this new positive REALITY against the negative arguments of Bullet Train opponents. And support in the polls for the bullet train will be more favorable as a result.

    Observer Reply:

    This is what I am hoping for too. The Affordable Care Act is a good example. Republicans are trying to gain politically because of the bad start, but I do not think that will fly. When people realize the alternative, they will realize the ACA will be preferable to being handed a silly voucher and told here – go shopping. Again, what is the alternative to HSR – three congested and increasingly unsafe highways, a single track rail system for both freight and passengers; eventually people will realize that is not sustainable.

    VBobier Reply:

    Some Republicans want to put Voter ID on the ballot in California, I don’t know if it will get there, but I’d thought I’d say something about it here.

    Eric Reply:

    The reality is that some people have insurance for the first time, and other people have more expensive insurance than before (inevitable, since insurance companies have to cover people they previously could have dumped). Do more people perceive themselves as having gained than lost? Unclear. Are the ones who gained more politically influential than those who lost? I would think not.

    joe Reply:

    I think you are right. Perception is muddied. It’s complicated.

    Most cost increases pay for better policies that meet the ACA minimum standard. Many probably did not know their policies were not going to help them if they did more than routine visits to the Dr.

    Those with very affordable, good employer insurance will pay more out of pocket. They are likely voters and more influential.

    “The [ACA] provision is often called the “Cadillac” tax because it targets so-called Cadillac health plans that provide workers the most generous level of health benefits. These high-end health plans’ premiums are paid for mostly by employers. They also have low, if any, deductibles and little cost sharing for employees. ” http://www.healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief.php?brief_id=99

  9. Donk
    Jan 8th, 2014 at 22:19
    #9

    One problem with the press coverage on the latest HSR court ruling is that nobody understands what the heck happened. I am relatively knowledgeable about the project and I don’t think I can explain to anyone what the heck happened. When nobody understands what the heck happened they draw their own conclusions. And if you are a journalist, the best way to get people to read your article is to make it sound like the sky is falling.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So if you don’t know what happened how do you know the sky is not falling?

  10. joe
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 07:33
    #10

    San Jose Version 3.1
    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_24872622/transformation-north-san-jose-into-urban-tech-hub

    SAN JOSE — For decades a zone of low-slung research-and-development buildings, North San Jose is being transformed into an urban transit village and tech hub.

    City officials envision thousands of new housing units, millions of square feet of new office and research spaces and additional retail, restaurants and recreation spaces — all served by BART and light rail. Their hope is that North San Jose will become the bustling heart of Silicon Valley.

    To encourage more projects and corporate expansions in North San Jose, city officials have slashed development fees, cut red tape for developers and are allowing higher density than was previously permitted.

    “Higher density is the future, and if the demand is there, then it makes sense to build more in North San Jose,” said Chad Leiker, a vice president with realty firm Kidder Mathews. “San Jose is betting on light rail and on BART to really make this work.”

    Another challenge is stiff competition for tech companies from Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Santa Clara. But San Jose officials hope the north side’s plentiful land will give the city an edge.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The “Silicon Valley(!?) Rapid Transit” BART extension goes nowhere near North San José.

    As is right and proper, it will, in progressive stages, serve the defunct auto manufacturing plant, the San José Flea Market, Brasília, and the dead tank manufacturing plant.

    But North San José, the “hope [to] become the bustling heart of Silicon Valley”? (Hang on, wasn’t that supposed to be “downtown” Brasília? Never mind, forget we ever mentioned it.) Misses by miles.

    Perhaps the Gilroy High Speed Rail Education Outreach Working Groups has passed a committee resolution supporting BART up North First Street in SJ, which is how it, despite superficial apparent geography, it all does truly come together to really make this work.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The plans for the downtown subway start with a portal before crossing under US 101. The Alum Rock subway station would be on North 28th Street between Julian Street and Santa Clara Street. The Downtown San Jose station would be underneath Santa Clara Street spanning the block from 3rd Street to Market Street. (The Downtown San Jose station was combined in 2005 from earlier plans for separate subway stations at Civic Plaza/San Jose State University and Market Street.)[11] The Diridon/Arena station would be between SAP Center at San Jose and Diridon Station, which currently serves Amtrak, Caltrain, ACE and VTA Light Rail. The BART subway would then turn north, following the Caltrain route, and exit to the surface at another portal after crossing under I-880. The Santa Clara BART station would be co-located at the existing Santa Clara Caltrain station. Separate construction plans by San Jose International Airport would bring a people-mover train to the Santa Clara BART/Caltrain/ACE/Amtrak station

  11. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 10:29
    #11

    More on the generational shift; wonder what the Tea Party types think of it, if it’s even on their radar at all?

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/01/09/juniors-not-driving-and-millennials-arent-buying-what-gives/

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