Half of California Adults Have at Least One Vaccination Shot

More than half of California adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, a promising milestone that comes as the state is now inoculating as wide a swath of its residents as possible.

To date, 52.2% of Californians 18 and older have been at least partially vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That level of coverage ranks 11th among all states, federal figures show, and is higher than the proportion of adults who have received a dose in other heavily populated states — including Pennsylvania, 51.8%; New York, 51.3%; Texas, 45%; and Florida, 44.8%.

Nationwide, 48.3% of adult Americans have received at least one shot. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Caitlyn Jenner for Governor of California?

What on Earth makes Caitlyn Jenner believe she’s qualified to be governor of California?

She’s an Olympic gold-medal-winning decathlete, a former spokesperson for Wheaties; she posed for the cover of Playgirl magazine, has appeared in all sorts of TV shows including “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and is an activist on behalf of transgender rights.

That’s a lot of stuff for one person’s resume. But nothing on it screams out “Gov. Jenner.” She has no electoral or policymaking experience. Call me narrow-minded, but neither throwing javelins nor peddling breakfast cereal is meaningful preparation for running post-COVID California.

Nevertheless, when Axios reported earlier this month that Jenner was exploring a run to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom (assuming the recall election moves forward), her candidacy was taken seriously by a number of political professionals — simply because she’s really, really famous. “I think she’d be a formidable candidate,” said former GOP Rep. Mimi Walters. Former GOP Chairman Jim Brulte called her “viable.” …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Here’s where the Democratic and Republican parties are growing most in California

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Republican Party grew in California last year. At the same time, Democrats expanded their dominance as the largest party in the state.

Political experts say the growth of both parties — with a simultaneous decline in the number of independents — is the result of growing polarization in the state’s electorate and a belief on both sides of the divide that the opposing party poses an existential threat.

The Chronicle analyzed registration numbers across California and found that voters in almost every county gravitated toward the two major parties starting after the 2018 elections and running through the November 2020 presidential vote. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Facing Down Fear of a Mega-Drought

Four years ago, then-Gov. Jerry Brown announced the end of California’s historically severe drought by lifting various emergency restrictions. “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” the governor intoned. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” Brown was right about the next drought now that 99 percent of our state is facing abnormally dry conditions, with more than two-thirds of it in an actual drought situation.

In fact, this latest dry spell has led to hyperbolic predictions about a coming mega-drought. No one knows what Mother Nature will bring next rainy season. This rainy season is at a close, however, and the Sierra snowpack is only 59 percent of normal, while the state’s reservoirs are again less than half filled. It doesn’t matter if California is facing a mega-drought or just a garden-variety drought of the type that comes and goes every decade or so.

The state simply needs to do more than promote conservation and even rationing — or to exaggerate fears of drought to highlight its concerns about climate change. Unfortunately, their goal isn’t to fix a basic infrastructure problem or find new ways to funnel more water into our plumbing systems, but to use short-term dry spells to say, “See, we told you so about the climate crisis,” and lobby for more intense emission standards.

“Drought has scorched western North America for the better part of two decades, withering crops, draining rivers and fueling fires,” according to an article last April in Smithsonian magazine. “Scientists now warn that this trend could be just the beginning of an extended mega-drought that ranks among the very worst of the past 1,200 years and would be unlike anything known in recorded history.”

Last year wasn’t particularly dry, but now that the West is facing low rainfall again, this concept is all the rage. Just Google “mega-drought” and you’ll be stunned by the amount of reading material. Such a drought could be coming, of course, but when environmentalists compare a drought that hasn’t fully arrived to historic, civilization-changing droughts from the Dark Ages, one has a clue that something more than water policy is in the offing.

Frankly, conservation already is a way of life in our relatively arid state. “California’s urban water suppliers exceeded the statewide conservation goal, saving over 59 billion gallons (about 182,000 acre-feet) compared to the same period a year ago. June conservation efforts put the state on track to achieve the 1.2 million acre-feet savings goal by Feb. 2016, as called for by the Governor in his April 1 executive order,” Western Farm Press reported near the end of the last drought.

Since then, urban water users have continued to meet aggressive conservation targets even during years of hearty rainfall. In one typical example, residents of the San Jose area voluntarily reduced their water usage by 20 percent below 2013 levels through 2019 — and reduced their water usage by 16 percent below those levels last year, according to a recent Mercury News report.

A new law mandates individual indoor water-use targets of 55 gallons per day by 2023, with those targets falling to 50 gallons by 2030. Despite inaccurate claims to the contrary, the state won’t punish California residents or police their showers, but it could fine local water districts that miss the targets. The policy game is to keep reducing the targets. There are no limits on lawn-watering now, but it’s not hard to see how we might arrive there.

Californians have been remarkably thrifty, but to no avail. We use less water individually than the residents of many other states, despite the environmentalist finger-wagging about swimming pools and green lawns. The problem isn’t the public, but a state government that has squandered the last four years doing little about rebuilding our water-infrastructure backlog, boosting storage capacity, or permitting new desalination facilities.

On the last point, Gov. Gavin Newsom, to his credit, supports a proposed desalination facility along the Orange County coast (although it would be nice if he used more of his clout to secure the latest permits). State-imposed roadblocks have delayed the project for years, even though a similar facility in Carlsbad can meet 9 percent of San Diego County’s water needs. Projects such as these can make a real dent in our water supplies.

One recent column opposing the project offers this alternative: “There are plenty of things we can do to ensure that Southern Californians have enough water to thrive. Cisterns and rain barrels could be placed adjacent to every building to capture rainwater.” The writer also calls for the usual policies of drought-resistant landscaping, water recycling, and high-efficiency toilets and showerheads. I quote from the piece because it reiterates common misconceptions.

Residential consumers use only 5.7 percent of the state’s water resources, and, as noted above, they have conserved more water than anyone expected. Around half of the water flows out to the Pacific Ocean, with 40 percent going to agriculture. Eking more savings with more-efficient showerheads isn’t going to mean anything. Environmentalist writers can be expected to tout these non-solutions, but what’s the excuse for a governor and lawmakers?

As another drought comes upon us, California lawmakers need to embrace a simple and cost-effective suite of policies that feed more water into the system, rather than using it as an excuse to prattle about climate change and march toward water rationing.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He is author of the 2020 book Winning the Water Wars. Write to him at [email protected]

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Merchants of Revolution: California’s Ethnic Studies Initiatives Train Children In Marxist Theory

California public schools are embarking on a new experiment: education as social justice. Earlier this year, the state Department of Education approved an ethnic studies model curriculum, and individual school districts have begun to implement programs that advocate “decolonizing” the United States and “liberating” students from capitalism, patriarchy, and settler colonialism.

This will likely come as a surprise to most California residents, who may be familiar with the movement’s euphemisms—“ethnic studies,” “educational equity,” “culturally responsive teaching”—but do not understand the philosophical and political premises of these programs. As the state and many school districts begin to implement the state ethnic studies curriculum, however, details are emerging.

I have obtained documents from one such program, the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Ethnic Studies Initiative, that paint a disturbing picture of the ethnic studies curriculum and the activists leading the charge. According to the documents and to sources within the district, the Office of Education held a series of teacher-training sessions on how to deploy ethnic studies in the classroom. The leaders, including district staff, an advisor for the state Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, and a professor from San Jose State University, encouraged teachers to inject left-wing politics into the classroom and to hide controversial materials from parents.

According to slides and contemporaneous notes from the session, the Santa Clara Office of Education began the presentation with a “land acknowledgement,” claiming that Santa Clara County and the public school system “occupy the unceded territory of the Muwekma Ohlone Nation, the sovereign nation and original people of the skies, land, and waters.” The premise of this ritual, which has become common in progressive organizations, is that the American government, founded by white settlers, is an illegitimate colonial power that should return the land to the Native American tribes.

Next, Jorge Pacheco, president of the California Latino School Boards Association and advisor for the state Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, presented the movement’s conceptual framework. Pacheco explained that the ethnic studies curriculum is based on the work of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire, who invented the concept of the “pedagogy of the oppressed,” which holds that students must be educated to understand their oppression and develop the practical skills, or “praxis,” to challenge and eventually overthrow their oppressors. Pacheco acknowledged that the Marxist underpinnings to ethnic studies “scare people away” but insisted that teachers must be “grounded in the correct politics to educate students.”

Pacheco then argued that the United States is a political regime based on “settler colonialism,” which he describes as a “system of oppression” that “occupies and usurps land/labor/resources from one group of people for the benefit of another.” The settler colonialist regime, Pacheco continues, is “not just a vicious thing of the past, but [one that] exists as long as settlers are living on appropriated land.” The white colonialist regime of the United States is a “parasitic system” responsible for domestic violence, drug overdoses, and other social problems. In a related PowerPoint slide, Pacheco presented examples of this oppression, including “men exploiting women,” “white people exploiting people of color,” and “rich people exploiting poor people.”

What is the solution? Pacheco argues that teachers must “awaken [students] to the oppression” and lead them to “decodify” and eventually “destroy” the dominant political regime. The first step in this process is to help students “get into the mind of a white man” such as Christopher Columbus and analyze “what ideology led these white male settlers to be power and land hungry and justify stealing indigenous land through genocide.” Pacheco describes this process as transforming students into “activist intellectuals” who “decodify systems of oppression” into their component parts, including “white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, genocide, private property, and God.”

Teachers must be careful, though: Pacheco and the other panelists suggested that local educators hide this revolutionary pedagogy from administrators and families. “District guidelines and expectations are barriers,” said one panelist. “[We] have to be extra careful about what is being said, since we can’t just say something controversial now that we’re in people’s homes [because of remote learning].” In addition, teachers must acknowledge that they, too, can become oppressors in the classroom. “Inherently, [it is the] oppressor who sets the rules.” Teachers must “recognize [their] own privilege and [their] own bias” in order to align themselves with the oppressed and work toward dismantling systems of oppression.

The goal, according to the presenters, is to “develop, pilot, and refine an adaptable and scalable Ethnic Studies program design plan and curriculum that can serve as standalone courses or be integrated into core content areas.” This is already happening. Last month, the California Department of Education approved the statewide curriculum, which will bring the “pedagogy of the oppressed” to schools throughout the state. But for the movement’s leaders, the goal is to go further. At the end of the presentation in Santa Clara, Pacheco argued that schools should start transforming children into “activist intellectuals,” beginning in first grade. “[It’s] never too young,” he said, arguing that educators should be “cashing in on kids’ inherent empathy” in order to reshape their ideological foundations.

This is a dystopian project. As these pedagogical theories make their way into the classroom, California schools will be teaching millions of children to hate their own country. They will be oriented toward the work of “decolonizing,” “deconstructing,” and “dismantling” their own society. The ethnic studies activists grasp the destabilizing nature of their project—and believe that it provides them leverage for their broader political ends. During the Santa Clara presentation, Pacheco and the other instructors provided the audience with a handout quoting Freire: “Critical consciousness, they say, is anarchic. Others add that critical consciousness may lead to disorder. Some, however, confess: Why deny it? I was afraid of freedom. I am no longer afraid!” Though they are coy about their ultimate intention, the ethnic studies activists seek, at a minimum, a moral revolution—and, out of such tumults, political revolutions often follow.

California voters may not realize it, but they have installed a radical movement in the state educational bureaucracy.

Christopher F. Rufo is a contributing editor of City Journal. Sign up for his weekly newsletter and watch his latest documentary, America Lost, which tells the story of three “forgotten American cities.” This article is part of an ongoing series on critical race theory.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Orange County Announces Pilot Program for COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

There is much talk across the country about establishing vaccine passports as a way to provide evidence of vaccination for COVID-19 – all for a still experimental vaccine for a virus that is 99.98% recoverable.

“The vaccine passport should be understood not as an easing of restrictions but as a coercive scheme to encourage vaccination. The idea that everybody needs to be vaccinated is as scientifically baseless as the idea that nobody does,” a Wall Street Journal op-ed says.

Yet, Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and acting county health officer has proposed a pilot program for “vaccine passports” in Orange County – a “show-me-your-papers” or “digital passport” program to provide COVID vaccination evidence.

What could go wrong with the Orange County Health Care Agency planning a pilot program to figure out how proving immunity would work in the real world?

Othena is a private company that the Orange County Health Care Agency will allow to collect personal medical data and sell it or share it. Many worry this could be a prelude to a social credit system like China’s where they regulate the citizens’ behavior based on a point system.

The coronavirus is not smallpox, which killed 300 million people in the 20th century. This is all for a virus that is 99.98% recoverable. Talk of a vaccine passport sounds wholly un-American and rather nefarious.

Additionally, the vaccine passport is a violation of HIPAA, as is contact tracing.

The Orange County Register first reported on this Monday:

“Dr. Clayton Chau, the agency’s director and county health officer, said he told state health officials Tuesday that Orange County could easily introduce a function to Othena for people who used the county’s system to get vaccinated to show anyone who asks for proof.

But Chau said he worries about leaving behind people who either haven’t been vaccinated yet, or who have but don’t have a smartphone or internet access to use a digital version of such a passport. He suggested also issuing printed cards.”

and:

“The county’s rollout continues to outpace other providers – Othena vaccinations account for 35% of doses given so far; CVS pharmacies are in second with 12%, according to the OC Health Care Agency’s latest data.

But what needs figuring out, Chau said, is how to bring the records of people who were vaccinated through traditional and private providers under the Othena umbrella for a passport system.”

All for an experimental vaccine for a virus that is 99.98% recoverable.

The Epoch Times did not pull any punches either: “California’s Orange County plans to launch a pilot program for digital CCP virus vaccine and testing passports, according to health officials.”

Many say if the gross mishandling of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns and mask mandates felt like crushing government overreach, imagine how bad the vaccine passport will be.

Already large entertainment organizations like Disney and professional sporting events and venues are telling fans to prepare to prove they’ve been vaccinated if they want to be allowed into Disneyland, or a NFL game. Ticketmaster announced plans to verify proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for COVID-19 using a digital health pass for sports fans and concertgoers who want to attend live events, MSN reported.

But the passports only serve to open a complicated can of worms and prolong the lockdowns, say Harvard Medical School Professor Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a physician, economist and professor at Stanford Medical School. “It sounds like a way of easing coercive lockdown restrictions, but it’s the opposite,” they wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week. “To see why, consider dining. Restaurants in most parts of the U.S. have already reopened, at limited capacity in some places. A vaccine passport would prohibit entry by potential customers who haven’t received their shots. It would restrict the freedom even of those who have: If you’re vaccinated but your spouse isn’t, forget about dining out as a couple.”

Kulldorf and Bhattacharya warn, “The young are at low risk, and children—for whom no vaccine has been approved anyway—are at far less risk of death than from the flu. If authorities mandate vaccination of those who don’t need it, the public will start questioning vaccines in general.”

“The public has lost trust in officials in part because they’ve performed poorly—relying on lockdowns to disastrous effect—and in part because they’ve made clear their distrust of the public,” they said. “Trust, after all, is a two-way street. Coercive vaccination policies would erode trust even further. Even well-informed people may legitimately wonder: Why are they forcing me to take this shot if it’s so good for me?”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have already issued executive orders barring the use of vaccine passports. Expect more governors to do the same, because they witnessed that the residents of Florida and Texas are doing just fine, and there were no spikes or surges when the masks came off for good, and the states fully re-opened.

“Vaccine passports are unjust and discriminatory,” Kulldorf and Bhattacharya said. “Most of those endorsing the idea belong to the laptop class—privileged professionals who worked safely and comfortably at home during the epidemic.”

“Vaccines are one of the most important inventions in human history—the reason that before last year many in the West had forgotten that infectious disease could pose a populationwide threat,” Kulldorf and Bhattacharya added. “Those pushing for coercive Covid vaccination threaten all this progress by undermining public trust in vaccines. In this sense, they are more dangerous than the small group of so-called anti-vaxxers have ever been.”

Perhaps the most interesting and important comment in the WSJ op ed summed up one root problem – business liability: “What you need is to indemnify business from rapacious lawyers and I suspect you’ll see the cry for passports to vanish.”

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?

This article was originally published by the California Globe.

California Ban On Fracking Fails To Advance

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in September called on state lawmakers to ban fracking and voiced his support for safety buffer zones around wells, saying they posed a significant health threat to vulnerable Californians, primarily in predominantly Black and Latino communities near well fields and refineries.

The legislation that failed Tuesday was much more ambitious than what Newsom proposed, however, and faced fierce opposition from California’s oil industry, which holds tremendous political sway among Central Valley legislators, along with trade unions, a powerful force within the Democratic Party. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Will Vaccine Passports Hasten California Exodus?

Orange County is testing a digital vaccine passport, but so far, there’s been no movement at the state level to require all Californians to present their papers to freely move about. Meanwhile, Texas, Florida, and Idaho have banned vaccine passports. Other red states are likely to follow. Should Sacramento decide to demand passports, will it be yet another reason to leave a state that is already losing residents and businesses?

The state has dropped some hints about its intentions with its announcement that by June 15, businesses “may return to usual operations … with limited public health restrictions, such as … testing or vaccination verification requirements for large-scale higher-risk events.” Add to this California’s status as the state that had the strictest lockdown policies, and it’s reasonable to expect policymakers to eventually require proof of immunization.

At least Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin thinks that’s the plan. He’s writing legislation to block passports.

“You shouldn’t have to provide personal health information to go about your daily activities. I think that would be a very dangerous thing, it goes against fundamental notions of privacy and liberty and it’s not a road we want to go down,” he said.

As would be expected in our all-politics-all-the-time era, the lines are drawing themselves over vaccine passports. Some believe they “may help us move past the pandemic,” as J.D. Tuccille of Reason says, but, he adds, there’s also concern they could “add new intrusiveness and frustration to our activities.”

Will Californians who feel frustrated and intruded upon for having to show their papers say “enough” and move Texas, Florida, Idaho, or other states that will ban vaccine passports? The rest of the country is already home to a multitude of former Californians who left the state due to choking taxes, excessive housing and energy costs, poorly performing schools run by teachers unions, overwhelming homelessness, extreme cost of living, near-permanent drought and runaway wildfires, and a creaking infrastructure – all of it rooted in fourth-rate public policy. For some, a mandated certification just might be the policy that breaks them, or as Kiley has tweeted, the “last straw for many Californians.”

Responses (granted, they make up a small sample size) to Kiley’s tweet suggest that for quite a few, the edge is near:

  • “100% spot on. Precisely what I told our (real estate) agent.”
  • “That or permanent mask mandates and we are out of here.”
  • “Absolutely. Saving up to leave.”
  • “With this insanity in California … Plans are ahead of moving out! The ‘golden’ state has a bad ‘spirit.’”
  • “We will fight this, and not comply. Move away, if needed.”
  • “I’m 100% out if that happens.”
  • “As a business owner here in CA, I’m not prepared to leave quite yet. But I want to. And I will.”

Not all agreed with Kiley. Many were critical of his statement and of those who agreed with him or “liked” his comment. But a clear winner emerged from the dark cloud that is almost any Twitter thread on any given day. The man who wrote “pretty sure the last straw should have been the ban on real straws” summed up well a mood that might be behind California’s recall fever.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Lawsuit Seeks To Clear Out Skid Row

The plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit about homelessness are calling for the city and county of Los Angeles to offer some form of shelter to skid row’s most vulnerable by August.

The legal move — a request for a preliminary injunction — comes as lawyers for the group of mostly downtown business owners and residents are said to be inching toward a settlement with the city that would require it to provide new housing or shelter for thousands of homeless people across the city. At the same time, it would allow the city to use anti-camping laws to clear anyone remaining on the streets.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs want the city and county to offer some form of shelter or housing within 90 days to every homeless person between 3rd and 8th streets and Alameda and Main streets, a downtown quadrant that essentially encompasses skid row.

Their brief describes how homeless people are dying on the streets of Los Angeles every day and how, on April 7, a man in a wheelchair burned to death in a tent on skid row, and his charred corpse “remained on the sidewalk for hours, a testament to decades of intentional actions and deliberate indifference by the city and county.” …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Recalling a California Governor, Explained

Gov. Gavin Newsom is fighting for his political life. He’s working to fend off a recall that began as a far-fetched effort by Republican activists — but has turned into a credible campaign that could throw the Democrat out of office.

It’s hard to fathom in this deep blue state where Newsom clobbered his 2018 GOP opponent, although his job approval among voters has plunged from its high in the early months of the pandemic. But the coronavirus pandemic shifted California’s political landscape in two significant ways: It prompted a judge to give recall supporters more time to collect signatures — keeping their campaign alive long enough to gain momentum — and it led Newsom to enact a slew of new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus that have frustrated some Californians and energized recall backers. 

The recall petition doesn’t say a word about the pandemic — it was written before the virus upended normal life. But it gained a surge of signatures after news broke in November that a maskless Newsom joined lobbyists for a dinner party at the posh French Laundry restaurant, even though he was telling Californians to mask up and avoid socializing. The count grew as the state’s unemployment system paid out billions to fraudsters, and its chaotic COVID vaccine distribution left people scrambling for shots. With many schools, churches and businesses closed by Newsom’s stay-at-home orders, the recall that began as a conservative rebuke of his progressive policies has morphed into a referendum on his pandemic response.  

So is it election year again in California? Will you be asked to toss a governor just a year shy of the end of his term? It seems likely. Recall supporters say they collected more than enough signatures necessary by the March 17 deadline to get it on the ballot. Here’s everything you need to know about recall elections in the Golden State. …

Click here to read the full article from CalMatters.org