What Legislators in Sacramento Want to Ban

From The Sacramento Bee:

Extinguish your filtered cigarettes, ditch the plastic bags to carry your groceries, toss your micro-beaded facial scrub and cancel those plans to catch an orca show at SeaWorld.

Each of those things would be prohibited under a package of bills circulating in Sacramento. Seeking to address such issues as pollution, animal cruelty and tobacco use, lawmakers have advanced measures to ban or limit the availability of various consumer products and activities.

The items facing potential prohibition join a growing list of products legislators have banned in recent years, like lead ammunition, foie gras, eggs from tightly caged chickens and edible shark fins. Those bills drew protests from specific groups saying they were being unfairly penalized – hunters decrying the loss of lead bullets, Chinese Americans who eat shark fin soup mourning the loss of a cherished tradition.

Taken together, critics say, sweeping statewide bans are prime examples of unmerited government interference.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

States with most segregated public schools are Liberal Epicenters

From The Daily Caller:

The state with the most segregated public schools is New York.

Other states with exceptionally segregated schools include California,  Illinois and Michigan.

These findings come from a longitudinal study of enrollment figures conducted  by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. The period  studied was 1998 through 2010.

(Read Full Article)

democrat party liberal

Public Pension Reform Unlikely, but Problem isn’t Going Away

From The Sacramento Bee:

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s chances of enacting a comprehensive public pension reform ballot measure were scant even before Attorney General Kamala Harris gave it an unfriendly official summary.

He faced the essential dilemma of all would-be pension reformers: They have no natural allies among the political interest groups that might put up the many millions of dollars a successful ballot measure drive would require, but must contend with public employee unions – foes with bottomless wells of campaign money.

When Harris’ office issued a summary that characterized the proposal in negative terms closely paralleling the unions’ position, and Reed couldn’t persuade a judge to alter it, he backed off.

public employee union pension

Republicans should fire McConnell and Boehner

From The Daily Caller:

Senate Republican boss Mitch McConnell and his House counterpart, John  Boehner, have a clear strategy and a honed communications plan to undermine the  opposition.  Unfortunately, the two men believe that opposition is  comprised of people who think the congressional GOP should actually do things.   For that reason — and the opportunity that the feckless duo are poised to  botch — their Republican peers in Congress should fire them.

Remember the last time Congress mattered?  In the four years after the  1994 Republican landslide, a GOP-led Congress forced a Democratic president to  accept welfare reform, tax cuts, and the first balanced budget since 1969.   Can you think of a significant conservative legislative accomplishment  from the Beltway GOP since that era?  Neither can anyone else.  Nor  does anyone seriously think McConnell and Boehner are up to the task of  challenging Obama successfully in the final two years of the Obama era — even if  Republicans win control of both houses of Congress.

Time and again, McConnell and Boehner have failed to fight wisely or even  fight at all.

(Read Full Article)

Mitch McConnell

CA Budget is Balanced? Not by a Long Shot

From The Sacramento Bee:

One of the conceits of Capitol politicians – much on display during this election year – is that they finally balanced the state budget after years of deficits.

Gov. Jerry Brown is especially prone to making the claim, particularly when he grants audiences, as he often does, to out-of-state journalists who don’t know better.

It simply isn’t true, or at least isn’t when one looks at the state’s finances holistically, rather than piecemeal.

(Read Full Article)

brown budget

Can Republicans win the War on Women?

From The Daily Caller:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller,  Live Action president Lila Rose ridiculed the Democrats’ “War on Women” mantra, calling the “fear-mongering” used by pro-choice advocates “assault rhetoric.”

“We don’t want to be pitted against our children — no woman wants that — but that’s what the political climate has done,” Rose said. “It has pitted us against our children and against our fertility, as threats and that is something that is completely disempowering to a woman and has a whole host of other problems that comes with it.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

Identity Politics Defends Against Affirmative Action

Identity politics saves California’s Proposition 209—for now.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, a ballot initiative prohibiting the use of racial preferences in college admissions, state employment, and state contracting. Repealing it has been at the top of the Left’s wish list ever since. Current conditions would seem to favor the law’s undoing: Democrats control the state legislature, all of the state’s constitutional offices, and the University of California Board of Regents. Yet something unexpected happened on March 17. Assembly Speaker John Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, returned Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5 to the senate without a vote. The amendment would have given voters the chance in November to restore racial preferences in state university admissions. But, Pérez explained, “as it’s currently written [SCA 5] requires a two-thirds vote of both houses, and those votes don’t exist in both houses.”

The measure’s sponsor, West Covina Democrat Ed Hernandez, claimed that it would “ensure that universities reflect the diversity of the state,” arguing that Proposition 209 caused “a precipitous drop in the percentage of Latino, African American, and Native American students at California public universities.” Hernandez didn’t mention Asian Americans, but itwas a coalition of Asian activist groups that loudly and successfully stopped SCA 5.

In January, Hernandez’s amendment easily passed the state senate on a party line vote. Three “yeas” came from Asian-American senators Ted Lieu, Carol Liu, and Leland Yee. Very soon, however, the senators began hearing from their constituents in Torrance, Glendale, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Thousands of calls and e-mails poured into their offices. AChange.org petition urging assembly members to reject SCA 5 garnered more than 110,000 signatures in just a few weeks. Eventually, Lieu, Liu, and Yee cosigned a letter asking Pérez to withdraw the measure. “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities,” they wrote, “we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.” The senators came to see what their constituents recognized at once: the preferences that SCA 5 seeks to restore would result in negative quotas for Asians.

University of California officials have long thought that the student body should reflect the racial and ethnic proportions of the population. UC Davis, for example, twice rejected Allan Bakke—a white man—for medical school, even though his academic qualifications exceeded those of minority students admitted under a “special admissions program” which reserved places for members of minority groups and “economically and/or educationally disadvantaged” applicants. In 1978, Bakke sued the university and won. UC Davis appealed the verdict all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that, though the university could take race into account when making admissions decisions, it could not reserve a specific number of seats for applicants from certain minority groups.

Asians suffered decades of official discrimination in California. Since their arrival in the mid-nineteenth century, the Chinese experienced racism and exclusion in the form of the Federal Immigration Act of 1924 and California’s Anti-Coolie Act of 1862. During World War II, the government interned American citizens of Japanese descent in what were essentially concentration camps. Like Bakke, many Asian Americans found their applications to California’s public colleges and universities rejected, despite having academic qualifications superior to those of applicants from other minority groups who did gain admission. Proposition 209 did not do away with racial and economic admissions preferences entirely—university admissions officers could continue to consider those factors when making decisions. Only racial or ethnic preferences imposed by politicians and university officials were prohibited. Nevertheless, UC brass maintains that Proposition 209 “harms diversity.”

The trouble for supporters of SCA 5 is that—without preferences—Asians are overrepresented in California’s public universities relative to the population. According to Census figures, Asians—a diverse group that includes Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Cambodians, Indians, Filipinos, Malaysians, and more—make up 14 percent of the state population. But at some University of California campuses, Asians simply dominate the landscape: nearly 52 percent of undergraduates at UC Irvine; about 50 percent at UC San Diego; 43 percent at UC Berkeley; and around 40 percent at UCLA. As one wag at the San Diego Reader put it, parodying Dr. Seuss, there are just “too many Nguyens.”

Yet, as Thomas Sowell noted in his 2013 book Intellectuals and Race, declines in minority enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley have been offset by increases at other UC campuses. More important, the number of African-American and Hispanic students graduating from the UC system has gone up, including a 55 percent increase in those graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. After the ban on preferences took effect, blacks and Hispanics with degrees in science, technology, math, and engineering rose 51 percent, and the number of doctorates earned by such students rose 25 percent.

Pérez and state senate leader Darrell Steinberg are reportedly forming a task force to revisit the university admissions issue. It would be better if Californians had an opportunity to vote on what Hernandez, Pérez, and their colleagues really have in mind. Here’s an idea: Simply drop the word “not” from the original language of Proposition 209—“The state of California shall discriminate . . . on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin”—and put that on the 2016 ballot. Then let California voters express their preference.

(Lloyd Billingsley is a writer in Sacramento and author of Hollywood Party. Originally published on City Journal.)

Union Compensation Trumps Services in Los Angeles

A proposal supported by some members of the Los Angeles City Council begs the question: Just what do we pay taxes for?

Los Angeles City Officials want to increase sales taxes for which, in return, they will repair the streets. Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino are promoting the plan, while Councilman Herb Wesson was quick to provide a thumbs up on the tax hike, telling a reporter, “Without a doubt … this city needs some kind of additional revenue stream for us to take care of our business.”

So what is the city’s business? Is it unreasonable for residents to expect their representatives to give public safety and street maintenance the highest priority for the significant tax dollars already provided?

Los Angeles is a high-tax city in a high-tax state. The city’s utility user tax ranks second in California. Every time a resident turns on a light or opens a tap, the city makes money. Business taxes, too, are higher than average. A Kosmont–Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Report ranked Los Angeles as the 9th most expensive city in the nation for business. In spite of all the revenue the city takes in, it appears that officials will now demand a bribe, in the form of higher sales taxes, to provide a basic essential service.

Last year, Englander and Buscaino were pushing a bond that would have raised property taxes to fund street repair, but withdrew the plan when Wesson succeeded in placing a sales-tax increase on the ballot to help the city through the economic downturn. The measure failed to achieve a majority vote – voters too were the victims of the economic downturn.

Now Los Angeles voters may see another half-cent sales tax increase measure on the ballot as soon as this November. If passed, it is estimated it will cost the average household over $90 per year. This, from the point of view of the highest paid city council in the nation — its members make nearly $180,000 annually – probably sounds like a pittance, but to average folks, it’s real money.

If passed, the higher tax will hurt local businesses too, as consumers look to get a better deal in nearby communities with a lower sales tax levy.

Will the Los Angeles politicians get the new revenue? Perhaps they think that their negligence over the last 20 years – 35% of Los Angeles streets are in need of repair – will force voters to give in and pay the tribute officials are now demanding.

However, here is a novel idea. How about the City Council first fully fund essential services, including street maintenance, and then, when they run out of money, they can turn to the voters and ask for a tax increase to support the sweetheart wage and benefit packages the politicians keep approving for their government employee union backers. Those who think this is straight from the “Department of the Obvious” should keep in mind this is not at all obvious to our elected officials.

(Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. Originally published on Union Watch.)

Obama Feels Ukraine’s Pain

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Biden Unchained

From The Daily Caller:

Democratic Vice President Joe Biden is running for president, and he’s eager to ingratiate himself with every political constituency, flatter every donor and pander to every ethnic group between now and the 2016 nomination.

Biden is best known for his many gaffes and smears. In August 2012, he told African-Americans that GOP policies “are going to put y’all back in chains.” These days, he’s trying eyewash, sycophancy, fawning and even blarney.

“Eleven million undocumented aliens are already Americans, in my view,” he told a group of American employers, whom he assumed would empathize with unknown, low-skill foreigners merely because they share the same ethnicity.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy Barack Obama, flickr

Photo courtesy Barack Obama, flickr