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"I was totally naïve when I took the job. I spent my time and didn’t succeed. I realized the system didn’t work. I just wasn’t smart enough. I don’t know how they can build it now."

Said Michael Tennenbaum, "a former Wall Street investment banker who was the first chairman of the rail authority 20 years ago," quoted in "How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails America’s first experiment with high-speed rail has become a multi-billion-dollar nightmare. Political compromises created a project so expensive that almost no one knows how it can be built as originally envisioned" (NYT).

The idea of beginning construction not on either end, but in the middle — in the Central Valley, a place few in Los Angeles would want to go — was a political deal from the start. 
Proponents of running the rail through the booming cities of Bakersfield, Fresno and Merced cited a lot of arguments: The Central Valley needed jobs. It would be an ideal location to test equipment. It would be the easiest place to build, because it was mostly open farmland. 
But the entire concept depended on yet another costly diversion. Instead of following Interstate 5 through the uninhabited west end of the valley, the train would travel through the cities on the east side — more passengers, but also more delays, more complications over acquiring land, more environmental problems.... 
State senators were under pressure to endorse the Central Valley plan, not only from Gov. Jerry Brown but also from President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, who came to the state Capitol to lobby the vote. 
The Central Valley quickly became a quagmire. The need for land has quadrupled to more than 2,000 parcels, the largest land take in modern state history, and is still not complete. In many cases, the seizures have involved bitter litigation against well-resourced farmers, whose fields were being split diagonally. 
Federal grants of $3.5 billion for what was supposed to be a shovel-ready project pushed the state to prematurely issue the first construction contracts when it lacked any land to build on....

When Californians voted for the project in 2008, the projected cost was $33 billion and the completion date was 2020. The current projected cost is $113 billion, and the completion date is... never. It costs $1.8 million a day but it isn't possible to complete it "in this century." 

Here's a post of mine from December 5, 2010, "The high-speed rail boondoggle at its worst — in California." Excerpt:

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, we just elected a new governor whose central election promise was to say no to $810 million connect Madison and Milwaukee by high-speed rail:

Scott Walker has made no secret of his aversion to high-speed trains, but before he goes any further with his plans to derail the planned Milwaukee-Madison line, Walker might consider some earlier chapters in Wisconsin's transportation history. They indicate that the governor-elect could be putting his state in reverse..

As long as there has been a Wisconsin, residents have labored mightily to establish connections with each other and with the world beyond the state's borders. Although disputes often arose in working out the details, the general trend was unmistakable....

Connections! We're all about relationships among people. 

The idea seems oddly nostalgic at first - why build passenger trains in the 21st century? - but it actually fits an emerging settlement pattern. Not in my lifetime but perhaps in my grandchildren's, and for better or worse, an interconnected megalopolis will sprawl from Benton Harbor, Mich., to Minneapolis-St. Paul. As the empty spaces fill in, there will be a demand for some form of transport that's faster than cars but has more frequent stops (and fewer exasperating waits) than airplanes.

The columnist — John Gurda in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — is imagining a megalopolis in the future and telling us what people then will want. But people don't even want trains now. We drive cars. Or we take planes. There's also the bus. True, a bus doesn't go at a speed in between the speed of a car and a plane, but come on. Pick one. Road or air.

I'm so glad we elected Scott Walker and avoided the train fiasco. I was a one-issue voter in 2010, and I look back on that choice with satisfaction. 

I've never understood what was so important about efficiently shuttling people between Madison and Milwaukee — or L.A. and San Francisco. Pick a city, you Madison/Milwaukee and L.A./San Francisco wafflers. What on earth is so important about your 2-city ambivalence? It's especially obvious now that there's so much remote work being done easily through technology. Use Zoom or Metaverse or something. The clunky, repeated transportation of your physical body not a worthy demand on public money. And the lies about the amount of money it would take are ongoing and horrifying.

"But the Democratic Party establishment distanced itself from the Wisconsin uprising. Notably, President Barack Obama did not go to Wisconsin..."

"... during the Act 10 protests, betraying a campaign promise to 'put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes myself' and 'march on that picket line with you' if collective bargaining rights were ever under attack. (Vice President Biden did not go to Wisconsin either.) Outrage over Act 10 prompted an effort to recall Mr. Walker that garnered nearly a million signatures and forced him to face a new election in 2012. But Mr. Obama deliberately avoided campaigning with Tom Barrett, the governor’s Democratic opponent. 'This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office,' Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign spokeswoman, told NBC News. 'It has nothing to do with President Obama.' The fallout from the financial crisis, and Mr. Obama’s tepid economic response to it, helped enable the Tea Party backlash, allowing the movement’s funders to realize long-held ambitions of weakening the labor movement and the public sector under the guise of austerity. That effort was made easier by the Democrats’ embrace of their framing. A few months before Mr. Walker announced Act 10, his predecessor, Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, bragged that he made steeper cuts to size of the state employee work force than any governor in Wisconsin’s history. Mr. Obama, too, championed public austerity, imposing a two-year wage freeze for federal workers just after the 2010 election...."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Paved the Way for Donald Trump’s America."

"First Amendment rights are really pretty cool. There’s a lot of sacrifice we’re asking… in order to save lives. Some people may not get the message and focus on what’s being taken away."

Said Governor Tony Evers, quoted in "'Reopen Wisconsin' protest permit denied; organizers say it’ll happen anyway" (Madison365).

Here's something I wrote in October 2013, "Scott Walker gives up fighting for the permit requirement for protests in the Capitol":
Under pressure from an ACLU lawsuit.
Under the new rules, groups must notify the DOA of a gathering of 12 or more people two business days before the event takes place. The notification may be sent by phone, email, in person or by a state form, according to the statement. There is no limit on the number of notifications groups and individuals can submit.
That's a good resolution of the problem. There's a long tradition of spontaneous protests in the Wisconsin Capitol building, and the permit requirement interfered with it. Yeah, sometimes the protests get way out of hand, and the building does require security that varies when a lot of people show up at once, but focus on those real issues. Don't have a policy that's designed — or seems to be designed — to suppress spontaneity.
As for this week's protest — the organizers of the protest seem mostly concerned about getting access to the Capitol so they can use the bathrooms or at getting an outdoor permit so that
portable bathroom companies will work with them. But the Capitol building is closed and won't be opened and, as for the outdoors, the Department of Administration (DOA) says the planned protest "poses a hazard to the safety of the public." So the permit was denied.

"Trump impeachment drive has similarities to Wisconsin recall."

ABC News is just noticing.

I don't need a refresher on the Wisconsin uprising against Scott Walker, but the key similarities lie in the future. After Walker-haters stormed their way to a recall election, they not only lost the recall, they lost the next regular election.

The ABC article tells us:
Walker ultimately won the recall election in June 2012, becoming a conservative hero on his way to a short-lived run for president in 2015. In a testament to Wisconsin’s political division, just five months after Walker won the recall vote, Obama cruised to victory in Wisconsin on his way to reelection....
Yeah, but Walker won his next election. That fact is tucked away in the article, here:

But Stephan Thompson, who led the state GOP during the recalls and went on to manage Walker’s successful 2014 reelection campaign, said impeachment is “such a monumental event in history and politics” that it will hang over Democrats the rest of the cycle and make it difficult for them to bring moderate voters back to their side.

“When the left pushes this hard and overreaches, it helps you band together with people because you’re all in the foxhole together,” Thompson said. “I think that’s something they don’t realize.”
I don't know about banding together. I never band together. But I do resist the partisans who push too hard, especially when they try to do something disruptive and abnormal like a recall or an impeachment. Just let the next election roll around.
“People may not like impeachment, simply because it adds to the drama of his presidency, but that doesn’t mean they are on the fence or sympathetic to Trump,” said Jon Erpenbach, a Democratic Wisconsin state senator... [who] was among those who fled to Illinois for two weeks to try to kill the anti-union bill. He argues that unlike the recall, which was motivated by a policy disagreement, Congress was forced to hold impeachment hearings because Trump is alleged to have violated the Constitution.
Oh! The Constitution! As if the anti-Walker movement lacked any constitutional arguments that were as good as the House has against Trump! I know it's hard to remember the substance of the legal challenges Walker's opponents made, but some of them were constitutional. Either Erpenbach forgets or he's just being outright deceptive:
Democrats are taking a political chance, Erpenbach said, but they’re doing what the Constitution requires, a key distinction from the recall.
On that one, it's easy to say outright deceptive. Who believes the Constitution requires the impeachment of Trump? It's political, and saying that it's required is part of the politics, not a reason to believe these impeachers are above politics.
“It worries me that it could backfire,” Erpenbach said, “but that’s not the point.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker re-named the state capitol "holiday tree" the "Christrmas tree," and the new governor, Tony Evers, renamed it back to "holiday tree"... and declared that it would "celebrate... science."

Students are always invited to make ornaments for this tree, and this year, the invitation — from the Governor — was "to make holiday ornaments that celebrate what science means to them, their families and their communities" — HuffPo reports.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called it “‘PC’ garbage,” while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted: “We all know it’s a Christmas tree no matter what @GovEvers calls it.”

But Walker had the biggest reaction, firing off multiple tweets, including these...
You'd expect something really harshly judgmental to follow, but it's just a photo of a very conventional Christmas tree in a private residence and the line "This is a Christmas Tree that is used by people celebrating Christmas 🎄 / This is not a holiday tree." There's a second tweet: "Type this word on your iPhone and look what emoji comes up: Christmas 🎄" — which seems to be a new form of the kind of quip that goes if you look X up in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Y.

The HuffPo article proceeds to embed 12 tweets reacting to Scott Walker. 11 are from "blue check mark" people. The best one is the one that's not a blue check marker: "Oh, is it War on Christmas season again? Already? It seems to start earlier every year... 🙄"

I'll just feature the blue check mark person Matthew Dowd — because I have a tag for him and because he's using that asshole tactic of being informative:
You do know that trees were stolen from a pagan holiday? And Christ wasn’t actually born on December 25th? It was a day celebrated by Roman pagans and taken over by the church in the fourth century. And that many faiths put up trees that aren’t Christians.
Stolen! Does Matthew Dowd know that stollen is a traditional German fruit and nut cake that is popular in Wisconsin during the Christmas season? Does Matthew Dowd understand that all culture and tradition is handed down and borrowed and adapted and that it sounds very mean to say "stolen" and it's triggering when the homophone "stollen" is the very cake we share amongst ourselves at Christmastime in the hinterlands of Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker re-named the state capitol
CC-Ulrich van Stipriaan

HuffPo has nothing about the science theme given to — imposed on — the children this year. The tree becomes a free-speech forum for the children, and it would violate free speech to have viewpoint discrimination, so how can there be a science limitation on the ornaments? Presumably, the ornaments will be accepted even if they express the idea that "what science means to them" is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so you could believe in him and have everlasting life.

Has the Tony Evers science tree attracted any litigation? I haven't looked. I hope not. Can't we all be generous and kind during the dark cold weeks that are so well stocked with holidays... like raisins in stollen?
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker re-named the state capitol "holiday tree" the "Christrmas tree," and the new governor, Tony Evers, renamed it back to "holiday tree"... and declared that it would "celebrate... science."

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