American Soldiers Are Very Special People

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line today that is an update of an incident that occurred on a Paris to Amsterdam train on Friday. Two American military men in civilian clothes were riding a high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam on Friday.

The article reports:

A friend of the heroes, Anthony Sadler, also was aboard the train and saw what happened. He identified them as Spencer Stone, of Sacramento, who was injured and Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Ore., who was unhurt.

“We heard a gunshot, and we heard glass breaking behind us, and saw a train employee sprint past us down the aisle,” Sadler told the AP.

Then they spotted a gunman entering the train car with an automatic rifle.
“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said.

“Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious. The gunman never said a word.”

A military friend of mine reminded me that the American military is trained ‘to run to the sound of guns.’ These men did exactly that. All of us should be grateful for their training and for the lives they saved that day.

What Do You Do When Your State Runs Out Of Money ? Borrow More For A New Project ! reported today that California legislature has approved selling $4.5 billion in voter-approved bonds that includes $2.6 billion to build an initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line in the Central Valley. That will allow the state to collect another $3.2 billion in federal funding that could have been rescinded if lawmakers failed to act Friday. California received more federal aid than expected after Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down the money.

Included in the article are the following statements:

Before Friday’s vote, at least half a dozen Democrats in the 40-member Senate remained opposed, skeptical or uncommitted. Some were concerned about how the vote would impact their political futures, while others were wary about financing and management of the massive project.

One dissenter, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said public support had waned for the project, and there were too many questions about financing to complete it.

“Is there additional commitment of federal funds? There is not. Is there additional commitment of private funding? There is not. Is there a dedicated funding source that we can look to in the coming years? There is not,” Simitian said.

There is no financing to complete the problem–that is one of many reasons the other states turned it down! There is also the cultural element–this is California–the state with a massive highway system that exemplifies America’s love affair with the automobile. There is a cultural aspect of mass transportation that simply does not fit in with the California culture.

California has budget problems. It has had budget problems for many years. The public schools in California have cut art and music teachers from the curriculum in order to save money. To spend $4.5 billion on a high speed rail project that will need even more money to complete is simply not wise. Then there is the matter of whether or not the environmentalists will let it go forward even after construction has begun.

No wonder the state is going broke.

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Another Stimulus Project Bites The Dust

The Washington Examiner reported yesterday that the partially stimulus-funded high speed rail project in California is essentially dead. The project fell victim to a combination of environmental lawsuits and federal deadlines for breaking ground on stimulus projects.

The article reports:

President Obama’s stimulus allocated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, including, eventually, up to $3.5 billion for California’s project. However, according to the stimulus law, California must begin construction on the project before December 31, 2012 or they will not be eligible for any more high speed rail stimulus dollars. Obama’s Transportation Department reaffirmed this time limit last year when they admitted they had “no administrative authority to change this deadline.”

…Studies show that the average time to complete the NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) process is 6.1 years. And NEPA is designed to be a preventative statute. Federal courts routinely issue injunctions to stop projects before they ever begin. That is why oil companies preemptively sued environmental groups earlier this year over leases in Alaska. They wanted to get the litigation out of the way so they could begin oil exploration as fast as possible.

The California high-speed rail project was a bad idea from the start–it was not going to attract riders and was going to be a financial black hole for the already financially distressed state. It is, however, ironic that the thing that finally stopped the project was environmental red tape.

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When Government And Common Sense Part Company

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article yesterday about California’s plans to build a high speed railway. In 2008 the voters approved bonds for the $33 billion that the project was estimated to cost. Unfortunately, the project, which is not yet started, has now been estimated to cost $99 billion to complete (and not provide any service for ten years). If this sounds like insanity, that’s because it is insanity.

A few of the problems with the project–California is a net importer of electricity–no one has proposed how to power the train, the fixed-rail system will be on top of or parallel to the San Andreas fault, and taxpayers will have to heavily subsidize the service to make it price competitive with the other options of driving or flying.

The article reports:

The Obama administration vowed Thursday at a House committee meeting in Washington that it would not back down from its support of California’s bullet train project despite attacks from critics who alleged it is tainted by political corruption.

We need people in Congress who will put a stop to this sort of outrageous spending.


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