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Beyond The White House

by Montereyan Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 12:45:30 PM EST

I've been a longtime lurker and occasional commenter here at the European Tribune, and love the diaries, whether they're extended insights on the Anglo Disease or whether they're beautiful travelogues like DoDo's bike trip across Moravia. One of my favorite genres here is the pre-election overview - these are incredibly useful guides to not just the election but to national politics I previously knew little about, such as Lithuania or Austria or Hungary.

As I'm sure many of you know, the USA is a federal system of government, and although the federal government in Washington DC has steadily accumulated power over the centuries, states still retain a significant amount of control over economic and social policy. Political trends in the USA happen as much at the state level as at the national level, but state level politics have a much lower profile. American politics has been nationalized and presidentialized, and one effect is that knowledge of and engagement in state politics has declined.

Below I'm going to offer an overview of the election as it pertains to my home state, California. For more about California politics visit Calitics where I am a member of the editorial board. I also founded and maintain the California High Speed Rail Blog, which I'll discuss below, and I work part-time for the Courage Campaign, a California version of MoveOn.org that has been very deeply involved in some of these races.

Colton Hall in Monterey, less than a mile from my home. Site of the 1849 Constitutional Convention in California that took place shortly after the American conquest. Monterey County Democrats are holding a rally on front steps, September 2008.


California is considered the classic "blue state" when it comes to the presidential race and this year is no exception. Field Poll, rightly considered the most accurate pollster in California, gave Obama a 22 point lead last week, 55%-33%. There is a stark inland-coastal divide here in CA - the coastal counties, which hold 71% of likely voters, favor Obama 60-28. The inland counties - places like Fresno, Bakersfield, San Bernardino-Riverside, favor McCain 47-44, but only comprise 29% of the likely electorate.

It was not always thus. Until 1992 California was a reliably red state in presidential elections, comprising a key part of both Richard Nixon's and Ronald Reagan's base. (Nixon was a California native, and Reagan got his start in elective office as California's governor from 1966 to 1974.) There seems little possibility of a return to Republicanism in presidential elections anytime soon. But on the state level, Republicans retain important power.

Ronald Reagan's campaign for governor in 1966 was a key moment in the development of conservative politics nationally and in CA. See this Reagan for Governor TV ad from 1966, promising to cut government spending to lower taxes


Since 1914 California has held its elections for governor in the middle of a presidential term, in an effort to decouple state politics from national trends. To some degree it has worked - California has gone "blue" in presidential elections, but since 1982 has elected Republicans as governor, with the exception of Democrat Gray Davis' term from 1998 until his recall in 2003.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was reelected in 2006 by a wide margin, 55%-38%, over weak Democratic candidate and former developer Phil Angelides. Arnold might seem like a lame duck, especially if Obama wins the White House on Tuesday. But he will be in office until January 2011, and still has considerable power over the state budget in particular.

The 2010 race will be most intense on the Democratic side, with a number of heavyweights lining up to contest the nomination. They include former governor and current state Attorney General Jerry Brown (served from 1974 to 1982 and is exempt from term limts laws passed after he left office); Senator Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi. Feinstein and Villraigosa have not officially declared their candidacy, and a lot of speculation is focused on Feinstein - a moderate, almost DLC Democrat who progressives despise but who would likely win the nomination and the election. She will be 77 in 2010, which may cause her to stay out of the race and retire from the Senate (we hope) in 2012.

Arnold has a reputation for being socially liberal and being something of an environmentalist, although that is the product of no small amount of greenwashing. On economic and government matters, however, Arnold drinks deeply from the well of Milton Friedman and his administration is a textbook example of what Naomi Klein called the shock doctrine, especially on the budget.

The state budget deficit currently dominates California politics. Since 1978 California has suffered a structural revenue shortfall - our tax rate is artificially set too low to maintain basic services. Conservatives have had great success in ensuring that taxes are low to ensure spending is cut - see that Reagan 1966 ad - and have written into the state constitution a series of rules, like the infamous Proposition 13 that limits property taxes, which have the effect of creating permanent budget crisis.

This was exacerbated in 1998 when Republican governor Pete Wilson and far-right Republicans rammed through nearly $12 billion in tax cuts, using a temporary budget surplus produced by the dot-com boom as an excuse. When the result was a whopping $35 billion deficit in 2003, Republicans blamed Gray Davis for the problem and Californians agreed, recalling him and replacing him with Arnold.

At the center of Arnold's administration, then, is his maintenance of the conservative low tax agenda. His first act as governor was to cancel a return to the pre-1998 vehicle license tax. Costing about $150 per year per driver, it now costs the state $6 billion a year to maintain this tax cut, as the state reimburses local governments for the lost revenue.

Arnold's popularity has declined somewhat as a result of the budget crisis, and Arnold has had to soften his anti-tax rhetoric...just a bit. He is proposing a 1 cent sales tax increase, but also a $2-$4 billion cut in public education. The state plays a major role in education, health care, and transportation spending and Arnold has been determined to cut all of them.

State Legislature

Because 2008 is not a gubernatorial election year, the action in California state politics is in the Legislature. Democrats currently hold a clear majority in both houses (our Legislature is bicameral, with an 80-seat Assembly as the lower house and a 40-seat Senate as the upper house). However, owing to Proposition 13, a 2/3 vote of the Legislature is required to pass either a budget or a tax increase. Democrats have controlled both houses since 1970, but have not reached the 2/3 mark. That has allowed the Republican minority, comprised of Grover Norquist and Milton Friedman acolytes, to hold the state budget hostage.

In 2008 they held out for three months, refusing to agree to any budget that increased any taxes. They have broken with Arnold over this, and over Arnold's support of environmental legislation like AB 32, which mandates carbon emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. Arnold has no sway over the Republicans in the legislature, who demand massive and crippling spending cuts in the midst of a recession (they want far larger cuts than even Arnold is willing to contemplate). The budget deal that ended the 3-month standoff basically punted the budget until after the election.

Happily, that election is shaping up to be very nasty for the Republicans. Democrats need 7 seats in the Assembly to reach 2/3, and are competitive in at least 7 races. Three of them are likely victories for Dems - AD-15 in the Oakland suburbs, AD-78 in the San Diego suburbs, and AD-80 in the deserts of Palm Springs and Imperial County (near Yuma, AZ). The other four lie in  Central Valley suburbs, which are traditionally Republican but have trended toward Democrats in recent years.

One complicating factor is that California legislative and Congressional districts have been heavily gerrymandered to stabilize party control of districts - ensuring that the division of seats in 2001 remains relatively stable. All 7 of the competitive races are taking place in districts drawn to favor Republicans, a sign of the strength of the Democratic wave nationally and in California.

Republicans are trying to respond with a two-pronged approach - downplaying their party affiliation (their ads and fliers omit the word "Republican") while also trying to rally their right-wing base. An billboard against Manuel Perez, the Democratic candidate in AD-80, provides some visual evidence of the strategy:

In the State Senate Democrats are only two seats away from a 2/3 majority. However, we are not likely to achieve that, thanks to a shocking deal. The leader of the Senate Democratic caucus is Don Perata of Oakland. He is being term-limited out of office this year (the state legislature has been subject to term limits of 6 and 8 years for the Assembly and Senate since 1990, limits the legislature's effectiveness).

In 2007 he cut a deal with Republican Abel Maldonado, who represents a district here on the Central Coast (including Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and part of Santa Barbara County). Maldonado is a moderate Republican who voted for the Democratic budget in 2007 in exchange for a promise from Perata, who as leader of the caucus controls funding for Democratic senate candidates, to refuse to support a Democratic challenge to Maldonado in 2008. Perata kept his word, dissuading several high-profile candidates from running even though our district, the 15th, has a Democratic registration advantage.

That leaves the 19th district, comprising Santa Barbara and Ventura, as the only competitive Senate seat. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a progressive Democrat, is in a tight race with Republican Tony Strickland for the seat.

Democrats are likely to come just short of a 2/3 majority in the Legislature, but the augmented majority might make it easier to pick off Republicans in the upcoming budget fight. It also sets Dems up to actually get a 2/3 majority in 2010.


I would be remiss if I did not mention some important California congressional races, one of which should have great interest to EuroTribbers. In the 46th Congressional District, located in Orange County (LA suburbs, where I was born and raised) Debbie Cook is mounting a strong challenge to longtime, extremely wingnutty Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Cook is currently mayor of Huntington Beach, and on the board of ASPO-USA.

Debbie Cook, photographed under the Huntington Beach pier (not my photo)

I have had the pleasure to meet and have extended conversations with Debbie Cook, who shared a panel with our own Jerome at the Netroots Nation convention in Austin back in July. She is more than just a peak oil and energy activist. She is a deeply democratic, progressive person who understands the need to solve our energy and economic crisis through widespread public engagement. She is critical of calls for "a new Apollo Program" on energy, instead pointing out that we need to help Californians change their basic living habits in order to achieve energy independence. She questioned the bailout and the war in Iraq, and understands the link between oil dependence and economic weakness.

Rohrabacher is a contrast. He once claimed global warming was the result of "dinosaur flatulence." He visited Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's convicted assassin, trying to convince the world that RFK was killed as part of an "Arab conspiracy." Rohrabacher went to the meeting dressed in drag. He was an early supporter of the Taliban, as shown in the picture below (he's at right):

When I met him in the mid 1990s, as a recent high school grad, he ranted at me for a half hour about "the Chinese menace" - how "Red China" was determined to take over the USA from within, using their contacts at the Clinton White House.

How is Debbie Cook's message playing in famously conservative, car-centric Orange County? Quite well. No public polls have been conducted, but private polls show a VERY close race. Rohrabacher himself predicts he will lose if there is a heavy Obama turnout and a Democratic wave this year. That strikes me as accurate. High gas prices earlier this year made many Orange County residents receptive to her campaign, as has weariness with Republican politicians, especially crazy conservatives like Rohrabacher. The suburbs are restless, and that provides progressives an opportunity. If we are to get America off of oil and cured of the Anglo Disease, we need to be winning districts like this.

Cook can win this but it will be a race to watch Tuesday night.

California Democrats are also poised to pick up seats here in Northern California, including three seats in the rural northern half of the state. Other races in Southern California are winnable but close. If the wave is strong in CA we could pick up six Congressional seats. But it is the 46th and Debbie Cook that I am watching the closest.

Ballot Propositions

These races are actually the most intense here in California, and where I have spent the bulk of my time and effort this cycle. California differs from the federal government in that voters can pass laws and even constitutional amendments at the ballot box, whether they are citizen-initiated or placed on the ballot by the legislature.

These initiatives have come to dominate California politics. Proposition 13 was at the center of the right-wing attack on progressive taxation and government services. This year we have several important initiative races that will help determine the state's future.

The first is Proposition 1A, which would authorize $10 billion to build a high speed rail system linking San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Central Valley. I provided an overview  of the proposal at Daily Kos, and of course in-depth discussion can be found at my California High Speed Rail Blog.

The California High Speed Rail Route Map. The lines to Sacramento and San Diego are going to be built in a second phase.

This project would seem like a no-brainer. California desperately needs improved passenger rail. Currently passenger rail in California is slow but successful. Ridership on Amtrak California trains sets monthly records and routes like the Pacific Surfliner and the Capitol Corridor are packed, standing room only in some cases. The SF to LA corridor does not have a passenger rail connection at all, certainly nothing high speed. The energy savings are self-evident.

Prop 1A and HSR would also provide a considerable economic stimulus to California, with some studies suggesting as many as 160,000 jobs being created by the construction alone (in both construction work and jobs created as a downstream effect of those construction jobs - waitresses, loan officers, etc). Numerous economists have argued strongly for infrastructure spending right now as both economic stimulus and a way to ease the financial crisis - which after all is happening because of underlying insolvency here in the United States. These economists include Lawrence Summers, Nouriel Roubini, Duncan Black, Dean Baker and Brad DeLong, and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.

However, their message has been drowned out by right-wingers who claim that the state's budget deficit and the economic crisis more broadly make this a bad time to float bonds and create new government spending. These claims then get repeated uncritically by a compliant media. I have taken to calling these people the new Hoovers for their preference for austerity measures, and have reminded Californians that we used bonds to build lasting infrastructure during the Depression, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately Californians seem to be listening to the new Hoovers. In August Prop 1A had a 55%-40% lead in the Field Poll. That has been whittled down to 47-42 in favor, with 11% undecided. Obama voters, Democrats, and voters under 35 strongly support Prop 1A, so if they show up in large numbers Prop 1A is likely to pass. However, the slippage in support is a disturbing sign that neo-Hooverism is taking deep root within the California electorate.

The other proposition I am closely involved with is Proposition 8. This is a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage in California, which has been legal since the California Supreme Court overturned the previous ban in May 2008.

That ban was the product of another ballot proposition, Proposition 22, enacted in 2000. Since that was a law and not an amendment, the court had the power to overturn it. It is highly unlikely the California Supreme Court would have either the grounds or the will to overturn a constitutional amendment. If Prop 8 passes, same sex marriage rights will suffer a major setback, to put it mildly.

The campaign over Prop 8 is bitter and high-profile. Enormous sums of money have been raised - nearly $30 million on both sides. The Yes on 8 campaign (anti-gay) has received most of its contributions from the Mormon Church and from the Knights of Columbus, an organization of Catholic laymen. The No on 8 campaign has matched this fundraising, primarily from "small donors" - those giving less than $200 at a time. Both sides have saturated California televisions with their ads, including this recent ad from actor Samuel L. Jackson placing Prop 8 in the context of historic discrimination.

The polls show a VERY close race. A recent Field Poll shows 49% no, 44% yes which is tighter than the polls showed in September and is corroborated by other polls. Turnout will decide this one.

Which is where the problems come in. The Yes on 8 campaign is based out of California's right-wing megachurches, and they have a readymade get out the vote rally today - Sunday church services. The No on 8 campaign has not demonstrated a strong field operation and is getting a lot of behind the scenes criticism on their failure to provide better on the ground outreach. As with so many other races, we can win this - meaning Prop 8 is defeated - if we get a big Obama and young voter turnout. But two days out, that is not certain.

400 volunteers flood the No on 8 headquarters in San Francisco yesterday afternoon.


The Obama campaign has dominated Democratic and progressive attention spans here in California even though he holds an unassailable advantage in the state. That focus has made it difficult to get volunteers and money for the "downticket" races, Prop 8 aside. Calitics and the California Democratic Party have launched a "Stay for Change" action to try and convince people to NOT travel to swing states for Obama, but to stay in California and help progressives candidates and causes win.

Still, most Democratic and progressive causes are relying on an big turnout of voters motivated to cast a ballot for Obama here in California, who will help boost fortunes in the downticket races.

Party organizations are relatively weak in California, with the California Democratic Party undergoing its own evolution and strengthening. This will not likely be realized until 2010, however. 2008 is a building block for California, not a realigning election.

More information:

Courage Campaign California Progressive Voter Guide


No on Prop 8

California High Speed Rail Blog

2008 Election Results - from the California Secretary of State

Carmel River State Beach, taken by me in May 2008. The Monterey Peninsula is rockier and more wooded than the stereotypical wide sandy beaches of Southern California, but we have some stunning beaches here too. The hillside in the background is Palo Corona, the northern extreme of Big Sur.

This is a rather general overview of the various campaigns, but I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have about California political trends. Hope you enjoyed it!

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 12:46:50 PM EST
A very useful and thorough summary!

I have indeed noted Debbie Cook's election as one to watch, and I'm glad she has a chance - I was very much impressed by her in Austin, both during the panel, and on a separate occasion when I had the opportunity to talk to her for a bit longer privately. She's an avid reader of the Oil Drum.

A question: would there be any plan to link LAX to the HSR? That would certainly help in eliminating lots of smaller connecting flights in or out, no?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 04:57:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

LAX is out of the way of the HSR line. The Green Line of LA Metro Rail misses LAX by about a mile - in the early 1990s when the Green Line was being built LAX parking companies lobbied successfully to prevent the line from going to the terminal. Metro has long wanted to rectify that mistake and has plans to connect the Green Line directly to the terminal.

The other end of the Green Line was to terminate in Norwalk, which is slated to get an HSR station. The Green Line wasn't completed to Norwalk but falls about 2 miles short. HSR could provide the impetus to finish the Green Line at both ends.

It's worth noting that Millbrae/SFO is going to be an HSR stop, which is connected by a brief BART ride to the SFO terminal, and will come within a mile and a half of the San José airport terminal. The San Diego terminus might be at the airport there, depending on the final routing decision (the specific routing of the SD branch should be treated as theoretical at this point).

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:29:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
model diary, great overview, thanks montereyan!

i was fortunate enough to live and work in california for 6 months, living in s. cruz, and bopping down to L.A. (via esalen and H101!) to massage in beverly hills.

very nice period, amazing coast, wonderful counterculture.

trips to s. jose were a reality check...airport-sized parking lots filled with new tanks.

or over to watsonville, where the immigrants lived, so s. cruz stayed WASP-y. only thing i didn't like about s. cruz, everything else was stellar.

inland, it was redneck madness...modesto, bakersfield...shudder...

did some time in the seventies in marin and mendocino too, very wild woods living.

lovely shot of the bay!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 07:42:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also meant to note that here in Monterey County, two Swiss-Germans are helping lead the local Obama campaign. Vinz Koller is the chair of the Monterey County Democrats and is now a US citizen but was born and raised in Bern. He was interviewed on Swiss radio over the summer, and a 19-year old from Lausen named Kevin heard it. Inspired, Kevin came to Monterey and has spent the last three months organizing the field outreach for Obama - running the phone banks and distributing walk lists.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 01:04:39 PM EST
On a Hungarian news site, a Boston-based emigree Hungarian writes up his experiences as Obama campaign worker. I read a part on a tour in New Hampshire.

What caught me most was what he called his only negative experience, which was from a Democrat: the middle-aged man lost temper as he mis-spelt his name (Roland instead of Ronald) and hit on his head with a newspaper, then declared: "Would I vote for fucking McCain, you would not still be standing here!" LOL... maybe one of those rednecks angered enough by the economy to swallow the toad and vote for the Muslim terrorist Obama?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 04:51:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder where in the US he is campaigning. Here the worst Kevin has had to deal with is bars not letting him in because he's not 21.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
....Boston-based emigree Hungarian writes up his experiences as Obama campaign worker. I read a part on a tour in New Hampshire.

What caught me most was what he called his only negative experience

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:53:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I recounted it not for the negativity, but because I thought it's funny -- and it reminded me of that recent article about rednecks telling Republican pollsters that they vote Obama even if he is a terrorist Muslim because of the economy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:55:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe this wasn't posted on ET yet:

Ben Smith's Blog: Voting for Obama anyway - Politico.com

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills.  I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 06:06:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... when one of the people asleep up in the bridge during the wreck of the ship had put his hand up to get promoted to Captain. And offers the chirpy cocktail waitress from the first class club as his executive officer.

This is the effect that shows up in Democratic canvassing in terms of "I'm voting for the n****r." After building up the racist vote since Nixon, the Republicans are getting worried about it ebbing in influence, and then wham, everything is fast-tracked by the economic crisis. "Obama'll do things I hate, but McCain will destroy the economy."

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 02:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah. That's what I get for not reading closely the first time!

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:56:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting diary. Thanks. Local politics is always more interesting to me than national politics, and I know California quite well - except for the Monterey Peninsula!! ;-)

Americans were in love with railroads before they were in love with cars. Rail is more social. I hope you Proposal 1a passes - it IS a no brainer.

One question though. What are the risks in the Central valley for earthquakes? Even small shifts can be dangerous to the tracks, I assume?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 01:56:09 PM EST
The Central Valley doesn't have many faults that run through it and the region generally doesn't suffer from earthquake damage.

The problem is instead entering and exiting the Valley. The HSR line will cross the Calaveras Fault when going through the Pacheco Pass (between Gilroy and Merced), the seismically active Tehachapi Mountains between Bakersfield and Palmdale, and the San Andreas Fault between Palmdale and LA. The San Andreas also runs parallel to the tracks between San Francisco and Gilroy, at a distance of 10-15 miles to the west.

California's urban geography evolved around the rails, something you can still see when riding the passenger trains here in the state. It would not take a great deal of effort to expand rail here in California - it just requires money and the political will to spend it.

Even we here in Monterey evolved as a railroad town. Founded by the Spanish as the capital of California, our fishery and tourism industries emerged after the 1870s when the railroad from SF reached here. Passenger rail service ended in 1971, but the ROW and even the station here in town have been preserved and are now publicly owned. Monterey County is studying a light rail plan to connect to the UP Coast Line at Castroville, where it will meet with a Caltrain extension to Salinas.

Prop 1A contains $950 million for non-HSR passenger rail that connects to the HSR system, which could well help restore more robust passenger rail to Monterey County. The Gilroy HSR station would be less than an hour away by car or train...

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 02:52:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to Montereyan, I note the Shinkansen lines in Japan are exposed to a stronger risk of Earthquakes than CHSR will be. They have warning systems that stop trains -- which worked, see Kobe earthquake and a recent one on the Western coast -- and they just do the repairs on earthquake-damaged superstrucure.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 04:46:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's true, although the California HSR line is going to cross some very seismically active areas. The middle section of the San Andreas, in the vicinity of the Tehachapis, has produced some massive quakes, including the 1857  Fort Tejon quake and potentially a magnitude 8+ in 1812. The Hayward-Calaveras Fault in the East Bay is expected to produce a large quake sometime in the next 30-40 years as well.

Japanese expertise on engineering HSR structures in seismically active areas will be crucial to our project's success.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 05:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No matter what you try and build in California people will say "but what about earthquakes?"  The bigger the project, the louder their dismissals.  

This is of course based on pure ignorance.  The bigger a project the more likely it will have the most state-of-the-art earthquake safeguards, which are tremendous.  Earthquakes are simply not a concern for a project like this.  If a quake occurs and the tracks spread there will be immediate breaks put on all running trains.  After the quake you fix the tracks.  It's not really a huge deal.

Tall buildings, for the record, are built with counter-weighting and shock absorption that makes them far safer in an earthquake than your new McMansion.

by paving on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 02:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, and curiously, the same people forget to say "but what about the hurricanes?" when spending public money on the South Eastern coast or "what about flooding?" in the Mississippi basin.

California deserves louder dismissals when the money is spent by Dems I guess...

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 04:22:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was just a little innocent question from someone parked on top of very old and unyielding rock ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 10:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's talk.  I'm in Sac.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 06:38:18 PM EST
... coverage of the closing stages of the Prop 1A California HSR race in my lazy quote diary on dKos, California Election Hangs in the Balance: Field Poll, 47:42

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 02:43:16 AM EST

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