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U.S. Politics: 22 Trillion Problems But An Unsecured Border Ain’t One

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6 hours ago, lokisnow said:

So levy can’t let go of his crayon drawing, but this route is a settled issue since 2007 and cannot be changed.

I don't think anyone thought it could be changed, but it was flawed then and it's still flawed now.

7 hours ago, lokisnow said:

Newsom has committed to building out the 172 miles from Bakersfield to Merced, which there is enough money for.

Bakersfield is a city of roughly half a million people (800K for the whole metro area) which is around 100 miles away from Los Angeles (in a straight line). Merced is a city of roughly 80K people which is roughly 80 miles to San Jose and more than 100 miles to San Francisco (again, in a straight line). The entire idea behind high speed rail is to connect large cities over distances that are between one and two hours away by air. It doesn't make any sense if part of the way is fast and part is slow -- people will just take a plane.

You are right in that the writer (and, for that matter, myself in this post) completely ignored all of the local stuff about environmental reviews, needing to fit the track to existing passages, etc. etc., but the point of the article was not to analyze the local minutia, but to illustrate how the current system (it's not specific to high speed rail or California) renders infrastructure projects simultaneously absurdly expensive in terms of spending and nearly worthless in terms of the result.

Here's a more national example of exactly the same mentality at work: NASA has now spent nearly $50B on deep space rockets and capsules with almost nothing to show for it. For comparison, the privately developed Falcon Heavy (which has the distinction of actually having been launched once) has a development cost of less than a tenth of that and is almost certainly going to see a whole lot more usage because it's cheaper per launch as well as to develop.

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As far as healthcare goes, we have 2 problems in the Presidential primary. On one side we have Sanders, while his goal is laudable, he has yet to convince me he can pull it off. On the other side, we have centristy candidates who are proposing solutions best described as small beer. We really need someone between these 2 extremes, I feel. We need radical movement on healthcare. We also need to not fall on our faces when we attempt such. 

If Democrats do manage to take power of 3 branches in 2020, and if they fail to take extreme action, it will be something like 2030 before anything can be done again. And many Americans will suffer long and hard in the meantime.

Furthermore, as the Omamacare expansion of Medicaid showed, it's almost impossible for Republicans to unwind. And as they consider it to be socialism, they feel they have no choice to make a suicide charge to destroy this horrible communism. 

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32 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

As far as healthcare goes, we have 2 problems in the Presidential primary. On one side we have Sanders, while his goal is laudable, he has yet to convince me he can pull it off. On the other side, we have centristy candidates who are proposing solutions best described as small beer. We really need someone between these 2 extremes, I feel. We need radical movement on healthcare. We also need to not fall on our faces when we attempt such. 

I disagree entirely.  Absolutely.  EXTREMELY.  The LAST thing you want to do is get specific on health care.  "Medicare for All" polls well, in large part because no one knows exactly what it means - myself included.  You don't want to fuck that up.

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1 hour ago, Altherion said:

...

Bakersfield is a city of roughly half a million people (800K for the whole metro area) which is around 100 miles away from Los Angeles (in a straight line). Merced is a city of roughly 80K people which is roughly 80 miles to San Jose and more than 100 miles to San Francisco (again, in a straight line). The entire idea behind high speed rail is to connect large cities over distances that are between one and two hours away by air. It doesn't make any sense if part of the way is fast and part is slow -- people will just take a plane.

...

My city has around 350k, it is 400 miles from Berlin (6 ish hours by current rail connection, not even true high speed) and I happily take the train when I go there. Centre-to-centre is just so much more comfortable.

Although it does help both ends of this journey have good local transport options, great ones in a US context probably.

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4 hours ago, Altherion said:

I don't think anyone thought it could be changed, but it was flawed then and it's still flawed now.

Bakersfield is a city of roughly half a million people (800K for the whole metro area) which is around 100 miles away from Los Angeles (in a straight line). Merced is a city of roughly 80K people which is roughly 80 miles to San Jose and more than 100 miles to San Francisco (again, in a straight line). The entire idea behind high speed rail is to connect large cities over distances that are between one and two hours away by air. It doesn't make any sense if part of the way is fast and part is slow -- people will just take a plane.

You are right in that the writer (and, for that matter, myself in this post) completely ignored all of the local stuff about environmental reviews, needing to fit the track to existing passages, etc. etc., but the point of the article was not to analyze the local minutia, but to illustrate how the current system (it's not specific to high speed rail or California) renders infrastructure projects simultaneously absurdly expensive in terms of spending and nearly worthless in terms of the result.

Here's a more national example of exactly the same mentality at work: NASA has now spent nearly $50B on deep space rockets and capsules with almost nothing to show for it. For comparison, the privately developed Falcon Heavy (which has the distinction of actually having been launched once) has a development cost of less than a tenth of that and is almost certainly going to see a whole lot more usage because it's cheaper per launch as well as to develop.

Well yes and no to it doesn’t make any sense. There is no more air capacity between Los Angeles and San Diego. There is no more freeway capacity between Los Angeles and San Diego, both are maxed out, which is why it’s the ideal City pair for high speed rail (and shit just upgrading it to Acela standard (slow high speed) would cost less than a billion in infrastructure and cut the travel time to 90 minutes).

and the same would be true of air capacity between the Bay Area and the LA area, except it’s spread out between three airports in the Bay Area and three in LA, and even then they are nearly maxed out as well. LA to the Bay is the most frequently traveled air route in the country and reducing any of the flight volume would be a massive boon to the climate. Additional freeway capacity would be a climate diasaster and also cost about ten billion, and it doesn’t get any one there faster.

and in LA, simply hopping on a plane isn’t always so easy, where we live now, about thirty miles from LAX, because of traffic, we have to leave about four hours before a flight, an alternative would be much appreciated, and having to invest four hours to take an hour flight is a really strong deterrent to flying. So it’s not necessarily as simple as just hopping on a plane, there are a lot of logistical obstacles to flying in LA for regular residents, and if you’re, for example, living in Bakersfield, and want to fly somewhere and are not rich enough to afford the astromocal fares out of a regional airport, you have to leave six-seven hours before a flight in order to catch your LA departing flight to whatever destination, a train that got you to union station in 70 minutes where there’s a fly away bus direct to the airport in twenty five minutes is a huge improvement. The same would be true for people of Fresno, flying out of the Bay Area.

there is a lot value capture to connecting the entire state to a frequent and fast rail service, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to not start with LA-SD. the ridership estimates figure that only about thirty percent of ridership will be SF to LA, most of the ridership comes from intermediate stops to either destination.  And the conservative end of cumulative revenues collected over sixty years is about 165 billion, which is a less than five percent chance of it being that low, with a median expectations in the mid 200 billions in fare revenue collected.

as for Tejon, these are nasty mountains containing the San Andreas fault, the pass acts as a catchment for bad weather in the wet (winter) season and the pass has the infamous interstate crossing known as the grapevine, they are very poorly suited to HSR even if it doesn’t look like it on a map. Now they’re no alps, and I’m sure there are more impressive mountain crossings around the world, but Southern California struggles with dealing with the existing infrastructure in the Tejon environment already, I seriously doubt they’d manage rail any better. To say the route is ideal because it is the most direct on a map ignores the actual conditions on the ground and of the ground itself.

Edited by lokisnow

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7 hours ago, DMC said:

I disagree entirely.  Absolutely.  EXTREMELY.  The LAST thing you want to do is get specific on health care.  "Medicare for All" polls well, in large part because no one knows exactly what it means - myself included.  You don't want to fuck that up.

Yes, that is why some candidates are giving small-bore decisions or obscuring their positions, to be better positioned in the general. However, my job remains to attempt to make an informed decision in the primary. One thing is certain, I won't be voting for the candidate proposing small amounts of action. 

Edited by Martell Spy

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2 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

However, my job remains to attempt to make an informed decision in the primary. One thing is certain, I won't be voting for the candidate proposing small amounts of action. 

I think the objective is to avoid getting bogged down into a "they're gonna take away your insurance" attack.  Remain open to solutions and figure it out after you win.  This is literally what Obama did - the ACA ended up being a lot closer to Hillary's plan during the primaries than his "plan" at the time.

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2 minutes ago, DMC said:

I think the objective is to avoid getting bogged down into a "they're gonna take away your insurance" attack.  Remain open to solutions and figure it out after you win.  This is literally what Obama did - the ACA ended up being a lot closer to Hillary's plan during the primaries than his "plan" at the time.

Yeah, I thought of bringing that up actually. Obama said his plan wouldn't have the mandate, and this was one of the reasons I supported him. The thing was, the policy in that case turned out not to matter that much, in particular since it was later taken out. I did not feel bad about him violating that promise, considering the massive action he pulled off. That possibly worked for Obama simply because he was convincing. Or the policy may have made him look more like an outsider. I'm not sure how I would have voted if the two had reversed positions, but I did not like the mandate at the time. 

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17 hours ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

The candidates will be spending an oversized amount of time getting Democrats to know them in Iowa (a state almost lost to them), and maybe New Hampshire (a state with fewer electoral college votes that probably doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. No offense. And they do that weird split anyway). 

What "weird split"?? Are you confusing New Hampshire with Maine?

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16 minutes ago, Ormond said:

Are you confusing New Hampshire with Maine?

Sounds like it.

Anyway, that reminded me I did have some thoughts on the certain criticisms voiced on the primary schedule.  In general I entirely agree - what I particularly don't like is both of the first two states, which hold momentously disproportionate influence, are veritably lily white compared to the rest of the country. 

However, I don't think the schedule is necessarily bad for candidates - at least the idea that a couple small states should have this undue influence.  In fact, I think Iowa and NH will actually be particularly useful for the current crop of Dem candidates.  For Biden and Sanders, it's not too useful, they both obviously know how to run presidential campaigns.  But for the other 4 candidates in (my definition of) the "top tier" - Harris, Beto, Booker and Warren - the grassroots and retail politics nature of Iowa and NH is a useful test. 

No one questions all of those 4 candidates will have any trouble raising money.  The first 3 especially have already demonstrated they'll have no problem with fundraising, at all.  And all four don't really have any concerns about the national media either - they're all already experienced with it and each is at least adequate at the bully pulpit aspect of the role. 

But developing grassroots organization in parts of the country that didn't know who you were a few months ago is a very important part of presidential politics, including the general election.  And Iowa and NH is a good tryout for that.  In fact, I know many campaign operatives that have said as much.  If you want a substantive example, David Plouffe expounded upon the organization the Obama campaign developed in Iowa during the 2008 campaign, and how that not only informed them going forward, but helped them win Iowa in the general.

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22 hours ago, Maithanet said:

Is this administration actively insane? 

Well, duh.

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47 minutes ago, Ormond said:

What "weird split"?? Are you confusing New Hampshire with Maine?

Yes...all those tiny states run together for me (and I lived next door to NH for 3 years).

I understand the usefulness of retail politics, developing grassroots and testing some ideas regarding your policies in these little states. On the flip side, sometimes narratives get baked in pretty soon that can be hard to overcome. For instance, while NH may not have much to offer Sanders in terms of lessons, I know he will do well there just by its proximity to Vermont. Iowa being a caucus state also guarantees him a strong showing. While I supported him in 2016, not entirely sure how fair it is to the other candidates to be handicapped this early in the race (Clinton was enough of a juggernaut that the early states didn't matter as much)

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14 hours ago, Jace, Basilissa said:

That seems unfair. She pretty brazenly stabbed him in the front.

Fair point :P

Jokes aside though, I do wonder if the people who were early to dogpile on him risk losing Minnesota. Democrats here are still pretty bitter about the affair.

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14 hours ago, DMC said:

Yes, this is what I mean by "disqualifying," which I should have..qualified because it can mean a number of things.  I was not referring to still voting for that candidate against Trump in the general.  I assume pretty much everyone here will do/advocate that.  However, what I mean by disqualifying here is, well exactly what you said - refusing to support someone, even eventually, in a primary because they were a prosecutor. 

It seems odd that Harris is getting a lot of heat for being a prosecutor while Klobuchar isn’t, especially when you compare their records. Amy was significantly more harsh, though to be fair this city was once called Murderapolis. I wonder what’s different about the two?

Just some food for thought…..

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2 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

On the flip side, sometimes narratives get baked in pretty soon that can be hard to overcome. For instance, while NH may not have much to offer Sanders in terms of lessons, I know he will do well there just by its proximity to Vermont.

First off, I'm not sure how much the "native son" aspect matters anymore, especially as pertaining to proximity.  Good example of this is Dick Gephardt.  In 1988, he ran and easily won the Iowa caucus, being from neighboring Missouri.  In 2004, he planned another run and was thought to be formidable early on - Nancy Pelosi endorsed him (!) - but he came in fourth in Iowa. 

Second, regarding the Sanders example, that's why NH will be less impactful this cycle.  If him AND Warren are still kicking come NH, it's expected they'll do well.  Anyone that could manage second, or maybe even third, could potentially claim victory a la Bubba in 1992 (obviously this is dependent on polling and expectations).

12 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

Iowa being a caucus state also guarantees him a strong showing.

No, it does not.  Bernie outperformed Hillary in caucus states, yes, but so did Obama.  Hillary was particularly bad at caucus states.  In 2008, it was because of her campaign staff.  I wasn't as involved in 2016, but another aspect was because of the simple fact fewer people tend to be "strong" Hillary supporters compared to most other candidates.  That's an outlier though.  I don't think Sanders has any particular advantage in caucus states this time around.  At least at the moment.

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He has a dedicated (near fanatic in some cases) group of followers, and benefits from fragmentation. In my opinion he will do very well in Iowa, but we'll have to wait and see.

As for proximity, 538 seemed to think that for NH in specific candidates from neighboring states did well - Tsongas, Kerry, Sanders and Romney were the examples they gave,  But if you throw in Warren into the mix, that does complicate the narrative.

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31 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

He has a dedicated (near fanatic in some cases) group of followers, and benefits from fragmentation. In my opinion he will do very well in Iowa, but we'll have to wait and see.

He does, but I don't see how that specifically translates to Iowa, or most other states.  Bernie Sanders didn't especially crack the code on caucuses, he just had a weak opponent, in that regard.  Hopefully that won't be the case this time.

33 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

As for proximity, 538 seemed to think that for NH in specific candidates from neighboring states did well - Tsongas, Kerry, Sanders and Romney were the examples they gave,  But if you throw in Warren into the mix, that does complicate the narrative.

The historical examples are more plentiful that that regarding native sons.  My point is this mitigates the expectations game.  So Bernie winning won't mean as much, if he's still competitive overall.  Same goes for Warren.  In that way, NH is compromised to some extent whereas Iowa looks like a much more open field.

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I agree with @IheartIheartTesla that Sanders could very well benefit from fragmentation with such a large Democratic primary field, especially if there end up being a large number of well-funded, viable candidates come Iowa caucus time.

Sanders has a head-start on all current and potential candidates in that he already has a campaign infrastructure in place in all 50 states, while the others will have to go about building theirs. He's already crushing fundraising numbers, raising $5.9 million in the first 24 hours after his announcement from 225k individual donors.

And in a large field, I could easily imagine a scenario where Sanders gains a lot of momentum with wins in Iowa, NH and Nevada, then accepts a close 3rd place finish in South Carolina. After that comes Super Tuesday where I can see his campaign focusing on close 2nd or 3rd place finishes in places like California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Massachusetts, so as to not fall too far behind in the delegate count, before swinging back to more favorable territory in the Rust Belt, the Midwest and the West. I think most of the top-tier candidates (Harris, Booker, Biden, O'Rourke - if he decides to run, Sanders, probably Klobuchar, and Warren, maybe) will have sufficient campaign funding to continue to Super Tuesday without a win, but after Super Tuesday, the only candidates I could see with the funding to continue their campaign even if they're winless are Sanders, Harris, Biden and maybe Booker and O'Rourke, although since Massachusetts, Texas and California all vote on Super Tuesday, you'd expect O'Rourke to win Texas, Harris win California and Warren win Massachusetts, which would extend all of their campaigns. And I think a larger pool of candidates benefits Sanders the same way a large 2016 Republican field benefitted Trump (with the caveat being that Democrats' proportional allocation of delegates may mitigate the "Trump effect" in large primary fields). The delegate allocation, however, won't much affect the media horse-race narrative of wins.

What I would really like to see this time around is, after everyone declares and before debates start, the candidates all put out some kind of statement saying that despite whoever wins, the others pledge to offer their full assistance to the winner to defeat Trump in the general.

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NH seems to make a point of not choosing whoever they "ought" to choose, and almost always not backing whoever won Iowa.  In 2008 Obama was polling way ahead in NH, but when he won Iowa, he (almost inexplicably) came up way short of his polling results, even though Iowa was only a few days before and Obama had been getting nothing but positive press.  In 2016 Clinton was the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination, so of course New Hampshire had to pick someone else, and Sanders was the only option.

So basically, whoever looks like on paper that they ought to win New Hampshire, expect them to lose. 

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