Undoing high speed rail

California used to be known for doing stuff. The early 21st century looks to be our era of undoing stuff.

A Field Poll was released on Monday showing that 60 percent of voters, given another chance, would vote against funding for California’s ambitious high-speed rail project.

Californians approved nearly $10 billion in seed money for the system back in 2008. A clumsy PR effort, a bad economy, and a fuzzy initial understanding of the costs of building the system, have since conspired to turn public opinion against the project.

A hefty majority of both Democrats and Republicans think there should be another vote. If the vote were held today, almost 50 percent of Democrats would vote “no” on the bonds, while the party of “no,” the Republicans, would reject them by 73 percent.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority responds that giving up now means walking away from $3 billion in federal stimulus, 100,000 new jobs and will in the long run mean paying even more to build new highway lanes. None of those points were made during the Field Poll’s questions.

Frankly, it’s surprising that the project has the support it does, given the economy and the concerted media campaign against it. There are columnists like The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters who practically make their living badmouthing high-speed rail. It’s working beautifully.

Compiled from Snog.

Burton effing nails it

If there’s one thing more boring than a Dan Walters column railing against high-speed rail, it’s another “Hiram Johnson would be rolling in his grave” story about how California’s problems are brought on by ballot initiatives and other forms of direct democracy.

Boooooring. Until John Oliver and the The Daily Show With Jon Stewart got hold of the subject this week. They put former Senate President Pro Tem—and current chairman of the California Democratic Party—John Burton on camera, to give his most Burton-esque description of California’s initiative wars.

“It’s totally fucked up. It was put in place to protect the people from the special interests. It’s now become a tool of the special interests to screw the people,” he explained.

He dropped the F-bomb a couple more times before concluding, “It happened because we bought a bag of bullshit and voted for it.” Later in the segment, he explained that he wouldn’t use the Amazon Kindle his daughter had given him as a gift, because of the bullshit that Amazon tried to pull with a ballot initiative to undo a California law requiring online retailers to pay sales taxes like everyone else.

Rather than support Amazon, Burton said, “I go to my bookstore. I buy a goddamned book and sit and read it.”

Fuck yeah you do, John Burton.

Compiled from Snog.