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End of high-speed rail boondoggle?

Original post made on Aug 24, 2013

A Sacramento judge has thrown a monkey wrench into Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to build a $68 billion high-speed rail system to traverse the state from the capital to San Francisco, Los Angeles and points in between. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had violated state law and "abused its discretion" in proceeding with the controversial train system without first identifying the funding sources for the line's first usable segment. The decision presents a new setback for the rail authority, the agency charged with building the voter-approved project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 23, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (46)

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Posted by RC
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

I just read the article "end high speed rail boondoggle". We live in a state with over 38 million people. Our reliance on fossil fuel is ridiculous, and fuel prices will just continue to rise. This rail is not for you and me. This is for the future. Where is our vision as a society. You can cry cost,but it will just be more costly the longer we wait. Let's not kick this down the road!


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

I agree with you, RC. Unfortunately, the oil industry has a huge foot planted in this state, lots of power and influence, and the corporate media never tires of playing lapdog for Big Oil and other corporate monsters.

Hey, speaking of corporate media, let's check out PW editors on this one -- you know, the ones who think they can discern what is printable by posters and what is not? You know, yeah, that one.

First, editors call this opinion piece "a story." This is a blatant effort on PW's part to pass off opinion as news. Second, to further obscure matters, PW editors do not name the writer who wrote the opinion and, of course, nor do they reveal his respective affiliations. Good work, guys! Just couldn't wait to 'put out the word', eh?

Our objective corporate media at work! Newspaper? Or corporate rag?


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Posted by insert uber-patriot nom de plume here...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thank goodness for activist judges.

Now we can get back to doing nothing.

Now we can give tax breaks to the job creators.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Never mind that those in the future won't be able to afford to ride this train because without adequate, identified funding, they'll be paying higher taxes and/or fares to make up for all the checks written on a multitude of empty accounts.

I'm going to go with neither corporate media or rag, Mike (words like corporate media/monsters/rag and lapdog are tells).


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Yeah, I guess it doesn't matter so much what the media does, how it reports or doesn't report the news. Rather, it's about what one believes. And we see ample evidence of KR and the other true believers believing what they want to. One gets the sense they actually like systematic distortion by the corporate media, as it fits with their own warped view of things.

KR's formula: When you don't know much, and the evidence is against you, just repeat the mantra: It will mean higher taxes, irrespective of whether it's a good idea of not.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

From PBS' Newshour in March 2012: "But times have changed for the worse. The price tag and the economy -- plus plans to start in the center of the state rather than in the cities -- have soured many Californians on the whole project. A recent Field Poll shows that two-thirds of voters would like another chance to vote, and most of them would vote against it." Web Link

The piece includes commentary from those who support the project for California and nationwide.


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Does Kath have any arguments to advance? Nope. Troubled by corporate media's distortion of fact? Not at all. Does the NPR piece do anything by way of supporting her above ridiculous remark, which is only missing her typical reference to tsunamis? Nope.

Here's the remark: "Never mind that those in the future won't be able to afford to ride this train because without adequate, identified funding, they'll be paying higher taxes and/or fares to make up for all the checks written on a multitude of empty accounts." Any evidence to support such a ridiculous claim? Nope, because there isn't any. She simply believes this unbelievable stuff.

Let us all pray on behalf of all those in the future who Kath assures us won't be able to ride the train.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

An older article: Web Link

"First, there's the question of paying for the system. Estimates peg the cost of building the initial San Francisco to Anaheim section at $42.6 billion. So far, the authority has about $11 billion from the California bonding measure and the federal stimulus. This is an impressive start. There's no way California could attract private investment without this upfront public commitment.

"But cost estimates already have increased. What if they increase again? The authority's business plan counts on $17 billion to $19 billion in federal funding and $10 billion to $12 billion in private funding. The stimulus package only had $8 billion for high-speed rail for the entire country. If Congress doesn't provide recurring funding for high-speed rail, the project's budget will a have giant hole. It's a hole that California – the nation's most fiscally troubled state – is uniquely unqualified to fill. 'They don't appear to have the dollars to do the $43 billion of construction that they're estimating,' says Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt, 'and $43 billion appears to be severely below what it will really cost. They're two giant steps away from reality.'

"Another question is ridership. A series of trade-offs will influence how many people ride the trains. The more stations that are built, the more places trains can pick up riders. But stopping frequently slows high-speed rail down. Likewise, lower fares would mean higher ridership, which would relieve more train and plane congestion. But up to a point, higher fares would generate more revenue for the system.

"The authority's most recent business plan floated the idea of train fares at $104.75 from San Francisco to Los Angeles – or 83 percent of a plane trip's projected cost, instead of the 50 percent in its previous report. For ridership, that difference is huge: The authority projects 58 million riders with the 50 percent level in 2035. At 83 percent, it drops to 41 million. Critics contend that the projections are unrealistic. Everyone agrees ridership estimates are, at this point, informed speculation at best."

And from the US House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: Web Link

"Of the $68.4 billion cost, the Authority assumes $55 billion will come from public funds, of which $42 billion will be federal taxpayer dollars."


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm

So sad, the train to nowhere is a pipe dream for union labor (brown's contributors) and their big chance to make a fat paycheck for laying rails near I-5 are history.
Maybe now they can get started on that big ladder to the moon......


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Posted by Get with it ca
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 25, 2013 at 5:27 am

Having moved back to the US from Europe, I will say the US is WAY behind the curve on public transportation. You can get all over Europe on train. You can travel within your own city or to any other major city on train. It is such a better way to travel then sitting in some car for hours in a traffic jam. The US needs to build these projects and get off their fossil fuel dependence.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:43 am

How are those trains in Europe powered? Fossil fuels, either directly or through the production of electricity. Once you get off the train, how do you get to your destination? Cab? Bus? Bike? Horseback?
You train enthusiasts have it all figured out, except for those inconvenient practical details.....


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Posted by Griddle Jim
a resident of Valencia
on Aug 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

This mean old judge is going to make the High Speed Rail Authority actually follow the law as it was written???

That is so mean and unfair!

LOL! Stop the bullet train to bankruptcy!!!
www.facebook.com/stopCAbullettrain


 +   Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

This train is a huge example of why people do not trust government. The voters were asked to approve a real expensive, specific item. It passes. The the politicians significantly change the project and thumb their noses at those who voted for it. The politicians know they significantly changed the project yet they continue to abuse their power.

Personally I would like the legislature take a vote on whether to bring this project back to the voters. If that fails, get a measure on the ballot that the citizens can stop the train and at the same time fire/fine/jail all the politicians who voted to continue the project without voter approval.... I can dream, can't I?


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Posted by I
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:47 am

local,

I do not think you are dreaming in one respect. At the end of the day when the money ends the music stops and the politicians know this but they do not want to be the one holding the grenade when the music stops so they keep passing the it down the row. Unfortunately, with a state unfunded pension liability of over 800 billion we are way beyond the point of no return. The next couple of years will be interesting and I would not miss it for anything.


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm

It's kind of like a big tsunami is coming. We don't dare project the possibility of higher state revenues, especially with the wealthy spending their big bucks on houses to buy and then rent out to the suckers. And raising taxes, say on renters, is out of the question because even though they represent a parasitical class, they have more influence than us little people and so they'll go untouched.

And then there's the NPR piece that Kath posted that tells all about how they've conducted all kinds of studies that show that after they finish the big boondoggle there won't be a single person in California able to afford a ticket. And this is true. See Kath's posts above. These projections into the future are done with great precision, which is why posters like Kath have no problem spouting them.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Can you give me the name of the bank you use? I'd love to do a remodel or to buy a car based solely on hopes, dreams, possibilities, and maybes.

" . . . there won't be a single person in California able to afford a ticket." Never said it. And here's the quote you skipped: "The authority's most recent business plan floated the idea of train fares at $104.75 from San Francisco to Los Angeles – or 83 percent of a plane trip's projected cost, instead of the 50 percent in its previous report."


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Right -check your facts on the source of power. The German and French systems are not powered by electricity from fossil fuels.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm

and cost of an airfare to SoCal is how much? $126? Seriously. Try 2x of that today and fares continue to climb. 10 years from now demand will significantly outstrip supply. Buy Southwest stock...


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Why be concerned with facts, Joe? When you're a true believer within an ideological bubble world, then known lies can be presented as facts, floated ideas at a meeting become concrete reality, our society becomes a matter of the 'strongest of the fittest' prevail because Darwin said something like that, right?, and anyone who doesn't believe like you do must be in defiance of human nature.

You've got to develop a sense of humor when dealing with these gas bags, Joe. Mark my words, the person you corrected will reappear, using a different moniker, and chastise you for bullying poor, em, "Right." No matter how thoroughly you refute them, no matter what manner of victory dance you celebrate over them, they continue to scrape themselves off the mat in order to once again spew their true believer's doctrine, all for purposes of recruiting you and your children into their make-believe world.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Joe, rather than going back and forth with you, provide a link with information about your magic electricity in Germany and France that comes out of thin air...or from wind , or the sun. I'd love to see a solar collector that can produce enough electricity to propel a train full of commuters at 200 mph for hundreds of miles...unless the trip is downhill both ways......


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This article is from CNN with two opinions on how free is HSR: "Supporters of HSR often list environmental sustainability among its virtues. Some argue it's a greener alternative to car and air travel and see it as an easy win in weaning people of fossil fuels. But just how green is HSR? Two experts with different views give their opinions." Web Link


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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm

To "Right",

In France, something like 75% comes from nuclear energy.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:06 am

Wait, so you guys are OK with nuclear plants in this state as long as they run your union built trains? Wow, amazing the handstands you guys will do without concern for the rest of the general public, considering the last major plant in Cali. was shut down last year due to leaks and concerns about earthquake safety. But, I guess nukes are ok as long as they power your choo choo, right?
Does anyone else see the hypocrisy of those on the left supporting this boondoggle? Lets hear you try to justify your way out the box you've put yourselves into....


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Posted by insert uber-patriot nom de plume here...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I love this part:

... a remodel or to buy a car based solely on hopes, dreams, possibilities, and maybes...

Sounds an awful lot like how America was built.

Like I said before, let's just keep handing fistfuls of dollars over to the already excessively wealthy; surely, someday we'll see a return on that investment. Reagan said so, didn't he?


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Insert, send me your tax dollars and I promise I'll return to you as much profit as Solyndra did for the rest of us. For you to advocate for govt control of any industry or form of transportation is both naive and irresponsible. It's OK if it's your retirement funds being spent on investments that have no chance to succeed, but you are not entitled to waste other people's money.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"Sounds an awful lot like how America was built." It also took hard work, ingenuity, and the ability to at least barter or get loans/credit.


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Yeah, and we all know state workers, or govt-contracted workers, don't work hard, they don't have ingenuity, and ... why the bartering? Oh, shoot, I forget.

Lest we not forget. Private sector work is haaaaard. Public sector work is easy because nobody has to do anything.

I believe. Do you believe? I do.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Lenny, except for the sarcastic part of your post, you have successfully stated what is obvious to most intelligent taxpayers.


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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

"Right" said,

"Wait, so you guys are OK with nuclear plants..."

I don't know you "you guys" are, but I don't have a problem with using nuclear power to generate electricity for any purpose. It's the way the French do it, and it's the way California should do it.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Every survey during the past 12 months indicates that taxpayers, voters, and many of our elected state representatives want this project shelved. If a re-vote were taken today this project wouldn't see the light of day based on current information.

So why is the project continuing giving all the taxpayer backlash, court rulings, projected cost overruns before anything has been constructed, for a train that wont be very fast or economical while diverting revenue from our airports and other currently operating rail systems (many of which are struggling).

If replacing a relatively small section of the Bay Bridge can rise in projected costs of Two Billion Dollars to over Six Billion Dollars, what are the odds that the HSR comes in under 150 Billion Dollars for the reduced LA to SF line?

Jerry Brown seems hell-bent on pushing this boondoggle to fruition as a favor to the unions that helped put him in office, IMO. Who benefits the most from the construction of this project; the private sector unions. Once built which class of employees will be employed to operate this boondoggle into bankruptcy; the public employee unions. And how will this be managed any differently then the current relationship between bart/bart management, always scratching each others back, at the taxpayers expense and the fare paying customers?

What we are creating is another group of public employee unions that will hold us hostage for even higher taxes, fees, and fares ... or else!


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

Ah, from high-speed rail system to unionized workers. I knew the connection would be made somehow. And what about the tsunamis?


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Posted by right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

Lenny, even you are not naive enough to think that the labor contracts for this choo-choo to nowhere will be awarded to union labor, versus the best bidder. Brown is in office due to union support, so he must continue to serve his masters.


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

Oh, yeah, and that politicians are corrupted by the unions. How could I forget?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Wall Street Journal, 2012, about union contributions to political campaigns: Web Link

Maybe not corrupted, but certainly influenced.


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Kudos to Kath who has recently learned that unions exert influence on political campaigns. Yes, they spend money on campaign contributions, and they lobby. Can you imagine that? And she went rummaging through Google-for-right-wingers in order to reveal this valuable nugget of information.

Union influence upon politics? Obviously, a better alternative would be to bust up the unions so that only corporations and rich individuals have money for lobbying and campaigning purposes.

Unions are corrupt. But corporations and wealthy individuals are virtuous and are playing the game the way our Founding Fathers wanted it to be played.

The truth is out there. Somewhere. You just have to believe. Believe in the corporations. Believe in wealthy individuals. And unions? No, because they're bad. Really bad.

BTW, when is Obama going to come clean on Benghasi? And why is my kid's tuition so high?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I think as long as politicians have pockets, someone is going to want to fill them--both sides of the aisle and by any person, organization, or corporation with a buck and a cause.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Lenny, after you learn how to spell Benghazi, come back and tell us why you think paid off union bosses are better businessmen than corp. and 'wealthy individuals'? Wealthy individuals got that way through hard work and ingenuity, whereas union workers and their bosses employ an assembly line, robotic, non thinking mentality. But, feel free to defend them......I'm sure it's in your best interest and personal benefit...otherwise, why would you publicly make such an ass of yourself?


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Posted by Daveg
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Daveg is a registered user.

Have all of you noticed the similarity in writings between Mike Cherry on other postings & Lenny Green on this one!? Hmm, makes one wonder.


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Posted by Right
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Good catch, DaveG. The same troll used to refer to himself as 'mittens' during the 2012 election. Rumor is he hasn't left his basement for several years. It reminds me of an episode of South Park when the kids were playing video games for several a days without a break...


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for your trenchant analysis, as always, Kath. Also, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the hill. Oh, and don't forget, tomorrow is another day. I'll get back to you later with links.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Thanks Lenny. I wanted to acknowledge your point, it's not just unions influencing politics. Why do you spend so much time (and verbiage) on what I post if it is so cliché; why comment at all?


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Posted by Lenny Green
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Both of you true believers -- you and the other guy with the special search engine that masks one's IP number -- try so hard to bring people into your shared belief system.

On the one hand, both of you annoy me, much like proselytizers who knock on my door, thumping their biblical beliefs. But on the other, I get a certain perverse pleasure in revealing the shallowness of their beliefs. I'll first ask them if they've read Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind (which they haven't), then I'll ask about Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (again, no), and the list goes on. Rarely have these proselytizers read much beyond their bible which, by any intellectual or moral standard, is a woefully deficient text. I delight seeing these bible pushers fumble for coherent thoughts against a sustained critique.

So we come to you and the other true believer who routinely proselytize on these threads. Both of you are very poorly read. In the case of unions, for example, you obviously have no conception of the role of unions within US labor history, nor do you have any sense of how unions fit within any political-economic framework that might help us in moving toward further democratization of our institutions and larger society as a whole. The terms of your own proselytizer's discourse rarely take us beyond the cliché-ridden views we see on Fox News. They are thin and very poorly grounded in any coherent framework of thought. (That's why you have such difficulty when I occasionally pose a serious argument.) You've demonstrated clearly enough that you're not much more than a newspaper reader (mainstream) who fits tiny little formulaic ideas into a pinched belief system which you then attempt on these forums to push upon others. I only provide the ridicule that you and your ideas deserve, Kath. But rest assured, I find delight not only in commenting on the humorousness of your own views, though given your own deep narcissism, I understand how you would feel singled out. Better to think of me as an equal opportunity provider of rational commentary in the face of aggressively forwarded, rigid, irrational belief systems.

And, yes, I used the name of Mike Cherry when I demonstrated the need for unions in the United States; and I posted under the name Mittens during that most enjoyable time when the true believers, despite a preponderance of evidence, shouted out about how Mitt-boy was going to win. Only a true believer could have thought Mitt was going to win. BTW, I wonder how he's enjoying this beautiful state which he lambasted throughout the election but in which he and the rest of his cultic family now reside.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 28, 2013 at 8:10 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Well, this is what happens when you make so many completely incorrect assumptions (bibles, Fox, Mitt's win, union history, and aggressively forwarded, rigid, irrational belief systems). You got me on the two books, though. If you stand strongly behind your own beliefs, why not pick one anonymous name and stick to it? Anyone who pays attention knows it's you.

As for the train, it is clear it will cost too much to build and ride.


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Posted by liberalism is a disease
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

...and so, the troll has been outed and proceeds to annoint himself as the only intellectual in an empty room. I can't wait for the next persona to emerge from under a rock from Berkeley espousing another lost cause, all the while claiming the high ground from his mom's basement. Court is adjourned.


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Posted by Daveg
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

Daveg is a registered user.

liberalism, one of the funniest postings to date regarding Mittens, Cherry, Green! And Kathleen, great point regarding using one name (anonymous or not) to support a position.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 29, 2013 at 8:14 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Tom Meyer added a great editorial cartoon on this topic in today's SF Chronicle: Web Link


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