Whose idea was it to push bullet trains? Rahm Emanuel’s doctor brother. I feel ill.

“The Escape Artists,” the new book about the Obama administration’s economic policy-making, has an amazing story about who’s responsible for the decision to dump tens of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money into bullet-train debacles. One Chris Reed, writing at Cal Watchdog, has all the details.

The key passage from “Escape Artists” is here:

Arnold’s self-loving ode: It’s revealing what he omits — and what he includes

After Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher got national attention for self-righteously quitting the GOP to pursue the San Diego mayor’s seat as an independent, it was inevitable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would write an L.A. Times op-ed patting himself on the back for being a constructive non-Neanderthal maverick Republican. Years before he was fine-tuning the constructive maverick narrative for Fletcher, political guru Matt David was doing it for John McCain,  Arnold and Jon Huntsman. But the problem for Schwarzenegger is what he leaves out of his op-ed — his assault on the Sacramento establishment from 2003-2005 — and what he leaves in — implied championing of three of the left’s biggest boondoggles: Obamacare, green jobs and the bullet train. If I were Fletcher, I’m not sure I’d want to be linked to Arnold.

What Arnold’s memoirs need: A chapter on his betrayal of California

Smart new essay in Cal Watchdog:

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s offbeat request last week on his Facebook page for the public to tell him what to write about in his pending memoirs got the result he wanted: lots of attention. “More than 2,000 people responded: Talk about bodybuilding, your childhood and your time on movie sets, they wrote,” said an account in the Sacramento Bee. “Talk about politics. And sex.” But the former governor’s upcoming book is unlikely to truthfully detail perhaps the most profound and far-reaching action of Schwarzenegger’s life: his decision to betray Californians and saddle their economy with a permanent burden because of his determination to be remembered as a green icon.

Bullet train’s cruel charade: getting up the hopes of Orange County’s dopes

I roared with laughter when I saw the alert saying the geniuses at the California High-Speed Rail Authority had changed their minds and added a direct Orange County line back to their revised business plan. All that praise for being realistic and for bringing the mythical cost down to $68 billion and the kudos from Sen. Feinstein for smartly avoiding construction in crowded urban areas? Never mind. It’s back to the selling of the bullet train as political pork once again. Yo, Edmund G. “Jerry” — thanks for the guffaws. That extra layer of spectacle and silliness you’ve added to this mess since going all-in last year? It’s been a treat!

The CTA’s pending good deed: It’s going to kill the bullet train

This Chris Reed fella, writing in the L.A. Daily News, has some good news about the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

Why would the [California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers] turn on their normal allies and oppose plans for the bullet train? Because of the growing evidence that Gov. Jerry Brown thinks the only plausible way to fund the project is with the fees that heavy industries pay for the right to pollute under AB 32, the state’s landmark 2006 anti-global warming law. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office expects the fees from the “cap and trade” system to generate billions of dollars annually — perhaps as much as $14 billion by 2015.

When will lies about jobs make ‘green’ a synonym for dishonesty?

Here’s my latest column for Cal Watchdog:

Just as red and blue have become associated with Republicans and Democrats, respectively, because of Election Night maps, will green someday become a synonym for fraud and dishonesty? After listening to Jerry Brown’s two years of lies, prevarications and fantasies about “green jobs,” I hope so. It would be semantic justice.

Odds cap-and-trade fees will be spent prudently: 1 quadrillion to 1

The Legislative Analyst’s Office is required to pretend as if Sacramento is not a place where public policy debates usually revolve around the question of how to best disguise the fact that just about everything state government does is dedicated to protecting the interests of public employees. That’s why I got such a kick out of the LAO’s earnest exhortation Thursday that the up to $14 billion a year that will be forthcoming from AB 32 cap-and-trade fees be spent in a thoughtful manner. Are you kidding me, LAO? This is California! That is not an option!

First unions, now greens, use state’s poor as political props

When will the media finally figure out that the most powerful groups on the California left — public employees and environmentalists — use poor people as political props to get their way? Deny teachers their raises based on seniority and accumulation of meaningless graduate credits and you’re “punishing the kids” — no matter what the facts are. Get in the way of climate change policies? Then you’re a heartless cad who doesn’t realize that “low-income communities in California are more vulnerable to climate change-related health risks.” But what about the huge likelihood that AB 32′s main effect will be to impoverish poor people? Instead of prompting the rest of the world to follow California’s lead in switching to cleaner but costlier energy, the geniuses in Sacramento are on the brink of punishing the needy — all so rich greens in West L.A. and the Bay Area can feel good about their purity. Great, just great.

Is California cap-and-trade dead? What it looks like to someone paying close attention

Like 99.9 percent of the California media, I’m not keeping all that good tabs on the implementation of AB 32′s cap-and-trade system under which companies will buy and sell their pollution rights as part of the state’s forced shift to cleaner but costlier energy. I may have written about it Sunday partly to make fun of Jerry, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert. So what does California’s implementation look like to someone who understands the issues? It looks stalled — maybe permanently. This is from the respected SoberLook.com economics web site:

Jerry said WHAT about high-speed rail? It’s time to revive the Gov. Moonbeam label

Three months ago, Jerry Brown was winning praise from state journos for naming savvy people to the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority who were much more honest about the numbers and the project in general, especially this guy. This had Sacramento speculating he was setting the stage for the bullet train’s demise, as this new honesty produced a jaw-dropping new $98 billion cost estimate for a statewide system that didn’t even reach San Diego or Sacramento. Now Jerry is mocking the cost estimate as too high and saying the proceeds from cap-and-trade will help pay for the bullet train. Has Jerry been smoking PCP? Is this a first sign that we’re about to witness our governor’s ugly public descent into senescence? One way or the other, this much it’s obvious: It’s time to revive Gov. Moonbeam as a nickname. Unless this is some sort of freaky iPhone 5 Zen triangulation, Jerry appears to have lost his mind.