US investigators reportedly wiretapped Paul Manafort before and after the election

As reported by Business Insider:

US investigators obtained a warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before and after the election, CNN reported Monday night.

The revelation marks a potentially significant development in the ongoing probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Some of the information gleaned from the surveillance prompted concerns that Manafort had encouraged Russians to “help with the campaign,” CNN reported, citing three unnamed sources.

Investigators last year obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Manafort, which continued through early 2017. …

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California sues Trump over DACA

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday formally challenged the Trump administration’s directive to rescind a program protecting unauthorized young immigrants from deportation.

Becerra, joining the states of Minnesota, Maryland and Maine, announced the lawsuit flanked by two “dreamers,” young women who were brought to United States illegally but were allowed to stay here, study and hold jobs after applying for the now-imperiled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“They should not be punished for things that were done by others,” Becerra said of the DACA recipients. “We don’t bait and switch in this country.”

Becerra said his lawsuit, which he previewed last week and planned to file Monday in the Northern District of California, was meant to “immediately address the president’s unlawful and mean spirited actions” by alleging his administration violated the due process protections of DACA applicants by putting their personal information at risk. …

Click here to read the full story

California Attorney General Claims Rescinding DACA is Unconstitutional

xavier-becerraPresident Donald Trump argued Tuesday that his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.”

But California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has vowed to lead the so-called “Resistance” to Trump, argued the opposite, claiming that the president’s decision to rescind DACA Tuesday was unconstitutional — though he did not explain why.

“We believe the Trump administration has violated the Constitution, federal law, and certainly we believe wholeheartedly the Trump administration has ignored the American people,” Becerra said, according to the Fresno Bee.

He threatened to sue the administration over rescinding DACA, echoing comments by New York’s governor and attorney general — though none of them explained clearly what part of the Constitution Trump had violated.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York State had a “sovereign interest” in “the fair and equal application of the law,” though the distinction between legal and illegal residents is one with a clear basis in law.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — a vociferous critic of Trump who is reportedly working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in investigating him — referenced the Statue of Liberty, rather than the law.

Ironically, Becerra’s opinion of the constitutionality of Trump’s DACA decision was not shared by liberal Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). California’s senior U.S. Senator admitted to left-leaning MSNBC on Tuesday that DACA was “on shaky legal ground.” She referred to a legal threat from ten states’ attorneys general, on the basis of the fact that DACA had usurped Congress’s legislative power. She added: “That’s why we need to pass a law.”

Liberal legal scholar Jonathan Turley of George Washington University agreed, publishingan op-ed Tuesday in The Hill in which he accused Democrats of being “constitutional short sellers” who had allowed Obama to violate the Constitution’s separation of powers, then cited the Constitution when Trump lawfully rescinded Obama’s policies.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in cities across California Tuesday to protest Trump’s DACA decision.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Trump rescinding DACA program protecting young immigrants

As reported by the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON  — President Donald Trump on Tuesday began dismantling the government program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared the Obama administration’s program “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” that must be revoked.

New applications will be halted for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits.

“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions announced.

But the administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix — “should it choose to,” Sessions said — before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program. …

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The Republican Party Legislative Incompetence

Let me preface this piece by stating no party better encapsulate the values and policies – unfortunately not today’s actions – that have made America the greatest nation in the history of mankind than today’s Republican Party. It was my great honor to be elected to the recent California Republican Party Presidential Platform Committee in 2014 and I was stunned by what came out of the committee – a document that was about economic growth, limited government, families, protecting the unborn, religious freedom and overall prosperity in all facets of life for all Americans and immigrants – legal or otherwise.

Chad MayesThe party of Lincoln and Reagan, the party that fought against slavery, the KKK, and overwhelmingly voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act is at a crossroads … and it has nothing to do with President Donald Trump. The party has lost its way – the national party and more importantly the California Republican Party – epitomized by Republican Assembly Leader Chad Mayes who just supported huge tax increases while never thinking about the awful fiscal outlook for California. Moreover, Minority Leader Hayes has a complete lack of understanding for how California and the United States thrive in our dangerous, geopolitical world.

The best way to describe the disarray of the national Republican Party that bleeds down to the CPR is a recent comment by Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He had a candid response at a Town Hall when local ABC27 News Anchor Dennis Owens asked about the Republican struggles with the failed repeal of Obamacare and overall health care reform. Senator Toomey said:

“Look, I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation.”

After seven years of railing against President Obama and the Democratic Party, the Republican Party had nothing to show for the over 60 times they voted in Congress to repeal or replace Obamacare led by the ineptitude of Senator John McCain. People voted for a repeal of Obama’s health care law, tax and regulation cuts to bolster the economy, American trade interests being at the forefront of economic treaties, defunding Planned Parenthood, enforcement of our borders and laws along with a more robust deterrent in our foreign policy. Instead the American voter received John McCain’s cowardly health care vote and the other Republicans who voted with him. They voted to be thought of favorably at D.C. cocktail parties and on Morning Joe than what’s best for their constituents and America.

The American public and California voter was also told that Secretary of Health and Human Services, and leading Obamacare critic when he was in Congress, Tom Price had a plan of action ready to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Thus far Secretary Price has been silent on Capital Hill, and neither Secretary Price, nor the Republican leadership (led by Californian Kevin McCarthy), or critics of the current Republican health care overhaul have any answers on how to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

What should concern any Republican or independent is California Senator Kamala Harris becoming President Harris, because of Republican malfeasance on health care reform. Republicans bemoan they aren’t being given a fair chance and fake news is difficult to overcome while searching for health care solutions. Those sentiments are why we will lose, and lose big if we don’t get our act together immediately. Either stand up and fight for Republican values or else.

If Congressional Republicans, particularly California Congressional Republicans need assistance (and they do!) then listen to shows like Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt or Dennis Prager who consistently interview health experts of all political stripes with answers and solutions to these problems; or contact the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation or RAND for detailed legislation that can be immediately voted upon.

However, if those are to far right then click on the Brookings Institute website for various plans and solutions to Obamacare – even the ultra-left leaning publication The Atlantic has answers.

Additionally it has been over seven years, and now a Republican majority of not anticipating for someone like Donald Trump to win doesn’t have an idea of what legislatively comes next. It’s mind-numbingly incompetent, and why Democrats will take back the House and Senate if something substantial isn’t put in place on how to govern before the year is over. Where are Darrel Issa, Kevin McCarthy and the dwindling California Congressional delegation? If Secretary Clinton were President Clinton does anyone believe she wouldn’t be pushing her Godless, radical agenda down America and California’s throats at this time? Not hardly.

The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the workingman or women or middle class, but is only about the top 1% in technology, entertainment, media and universities. Democrats are now about appeasing all sorts of anarchists and radical Islamists along with economic and energy policies that will deeply hurt America. The Party of Governor Pat Brown, and Presidents FDR, Truman and Kennedy is finished – the Scoop Jackson wing of the party is also dead. In finality, the Democratic Party’s policy ideas will kill America and a world in desperate need of California and American leadership.

According to the new, controversial, best-selling book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray, Europe is committing national suicide implementing the same polices as U.S. Democrats want ad nauseum to occur immediately in America. Yet Republicans like John McCain and the editors and contributors at The National Review and The Weekly Standard should learn that Donald Trump is not the enemy. It’s the social, economic, education, energy, and national security policies of the Democratic Party led by Chuck Schumer, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders that should be fought against with World War II-like vigor.

Outside of confirming Neil Gorsuch – using a Democratic legislative trick – Republicans also haven’t rid the world of the disastrous Iranian Nuclear Deal that hasn’t worked, housing is now depressed because of Democrat polices from the previous administration, and China is a continued menace; but somehow Republican leaders believe passing higher taxes on Democratic-controlled states is tax reform. Moreover, North Korea has missiles that can obliterate this state.

But Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnel, Darrel Issa and the rest of the Republican-controlled Congress seemingly can’t put together a plateful of legislative pancakes without choking them all over California and the American public. Democrats seem to never have that problem.

What Trump proved and Republicans aren’t grasping are Democrat-controlled states and California can be won with a pro-growth, pro-jobs, and pro-American message. Trump won states that haven’t been won in a generation with that message. The solution is to find real candidates for state and federal positions who can articulately convey the message of growth, putting American interests first, and watch the bluest state of all – California turn back to its pro-growth, pro-prosperity roots – that made it a beacon of light for the post World War II generation.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

California Republicans sweat Trump effect

Travis-Allen-Associated-PressSAN FRANCISCO — Republicans running for governor in the Democratic stronghold of California face a myriad of challenges. One of the them is how to handle the issue of Donald Trump.

Travis Allen, an assemblyman who announced his bid last week to succeed Jerry Brown as the state’s next governor, argues that he’s already a standout — of the three leading Republicans in the race, he alone proudly admits voting for the president.

“There were 4.4 million Republicans in California who voted for Trump, and they are looking for real leadership in California,” Allen told POLITICO last week as he tooled around the state’s highways on a campaign trip.

He said the reluctance of the leading GOP challengers — millionaire businessman John Cox and former Assemblyman David Hadley — to embrace Trump and his positions “may not sit very well with Republicans who are voting come June 2018.”

Yet at the same time, the deep animus toward Trump in California makes embracing him a difficult proposition for any candidate who hopes to win a general election. Together, it’s presenting a thorny situation for GOP candidates as the state’s marquee 2018 race ramps up.

In an overwhelmingly blue state — where Democrats hold a 19-point voter registration edge over Republicans — leading Democratic contenders like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin are busy collecting donors’ checks and are widely covered by major media outlets.

By contrast, the GOP candidates in California are relative unknowns who, on top of a party registration gap, face the hurdles of the state’s “top two” primary system — which calls for the top two vote-getters of either party to advance to the general election. In a crowded gubernatorial field, that drastically decreases their chances of making it to the general election.

And this year, the Republican candidates have the added “Trump factor” to contend with.

Thanks to Trump — whose approval rating in California is just 27 percent and who lost the popular vote by 4 million votes here — getting to the governorship is “almost an insurmountable mountain for Republicans to climb,’’ said USC political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.

The delicate formula for victory involves backing Trump enough to please the party’s base — volunteers and donors who are critical to success — while not alienating the independents, 1 in 4 state voters who could make the winning difference in the general election.

Jim Lacy, a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention and author of “Taxifornia: Liberals’ Laboratory to Bankrupt California,” frankly acknowledges that “if a Republican candidate went out and fully embraced Trump, and shouted through the state that they’re Trump’s candidate for governor,” it would almost certainly end their chances to make it to the state’s general election.

But he says there’s a way to thread the needle — though to have any chance of victory, a California Republican must have the backing of the loyal GOP grass-roots activists and donors who can make or break a campaign here.

“Even though many of them didn’t like Trump, they voted for him because they are tried-and-true Republicans,’’ Lacy said. Allen alone “can very proudly say he voted for the GOP candidate — and that these other folks who say they are Republican haven’t done so.”

Hadley — a moderate who has in the past won the backing of millionaire donor Charles Munger Jr. — told the Los Angeles Times recently that he didn’t vote for Trump in the 2016 election. The former assemblyman said he hopes to appeal to voters who may be willing to cross party lines and that he will soon announce endorsements from more than 20 GOP members of the legislature.

Cox, in a past interview with POLITICO, declined to say for whom he cast his vote, though he said last week that he is glad Hillary Clinton didn’t win, because she “would have been a disaster.”

But Cox, who ran for both U.S. Senate and president in Illinois before he moved to California — and has never been elected to office — has wholly embraced the Trumpian notion that an outsider can offer fresh solutions and break up the stale government insiders’ hold on Sacramento. “I’m a businessman, not a politician,’’ he said, a line that comes directly from Trump’s playbook. “I’m running to clean out the barn.”

Yet he’s also carefully attempted to distance himself from some of the president’s more controversial moves — his tweets, for example. “Take a look at my Twitter feed,’’ he said, when asked about Trump’s critiques of the media, TV personalities and the intelligence community. “My tweets are positive … that’s the tenor of what you’ll see coming out of me. … I’m not going to comment on the president.”

All three GOP candidates accuse Democrats — who hold supermajorities in both houses of the California legislature — of overreaching, and Brown of failing to keep them in check. Despite the open hostility of many California political leaders to Trump, Allen argues Democrats and independents are not all in lockstep with the “State of Resistance” agenda on issues like sanctuary cities.

“A friendly relationship with the White House could only benefit California’’ in areas like infrastructure, jobs and federal funding, Allen said.

“It’s up to the government in California to take care of our state first and foremost,’’ he said. “And this is what has been completely lacking with the Democrat leadership in Sacramento — from Jerry Brown to [Senate President] Kevin de Leon to [Attorney General] Xavier Becerra. They have taken an antagonistic stance, regardless of the detrimental effect to the state, and it’s gotta change.”

Allen cites Brown’s recent support for an increase in the state gas tax, which he argues is unpopular and won’t solve the state’s traffic gridlock problems. He also points to sanctuary cities — a concept that polls show is not nearly as popular as Democrats suggest, he argues.

“There is a widely held misconception that the Democrats are invincible in California,’’ he said “But there is a silent supermajority that has been marginalized and forgotten by Jerry Brown and the ruling Democrats. These are the people who are screaming at their TVs every night and can’t understand why their politicians aren’t listening to them.’’

Allen said he’s already lined up party-slate mailers that will reach 14 million of those voters by the fall — an advantage he argues will give him a major advantage over his fellow Republicans in a state with eight major media markets where TV spots are among the most expensive in the country.

But even that may not be enough. On the fundraising front, Democrats have raised more than $20 million to date — and front-runner Newsom alone has banked more than $10 million. By contrast, GOP front-runner Cox, who says he’s putting $3 million of his own money in the race, last week announced he has raised $202,000 — the most to date in the Republican field.

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen, who was an adviser to former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, says popular San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer dashed the Republican Party’s hopes recently by insisting again that he won’t enter the race, so “there is not an alpha in the field.” As a result, Republican candidates will get even less attention.

Which means “until any of these candidates show serious money or the ability to raise their name recognition, let’s forget about Donald Trump,” Whalen said. “He’s the least of their problems.”

This article was originally published by Politico.com

At What Point Will We Say Politics Is Out of Control?

It’s no secret people are not excited over President Trump, and tensions are high among supporters and dissidents alike about the current situation in Washington. Debates over the health care bill (in every iteration), social issues and gun rights have lost all logical merit, and we are starting to see similar tendencies in state governments, who are clinging to as much agency as possible in these interesting times.

But now we’ve reached the point of violence; violence that could have been prevented with less partisanship and better discourse. Political gamesmanship has gotten out of control, for both politicians and fervent supporters. This seems to be a known fact, but when we will finally accept it? When will we finally accept politics are out of control?

Politics Over Policy, Party Over Country

How many representatives vote against their own party? Outside of Democrats in more conservative districts and Republicans fearing backlash in districts without a strong base, barely any, and when someone does break ranks, it is for sure-to-pass bills or when the risk of a scandal is just too high. While political parties were formed in part to organize ideas and provide a united front to defend them (much to the chagrin of some of the founding fathers), the fact that representatives have little individual voice is concerning, most of all to constituents from districts that stand to be most affected by legislation.

Is party loyalty not turning into a great cost to America? What bipartisan efforts have we seen coming from Congress? The only things of note this writer could find were a mental health bill passed last year and a budget that’s necessary for the government to run in the first place. Business as usual has become no business at all, and conservative ideas won’t fly if they come from a liberal, and vice versa. Policy has become about the person, not the benefit to society.

Legal Corruption and Rigging the Game

Gerrymandering is doing nothing to improve democracy, both at the state level and federally. It encourages pandering exclusively to a party base, silencing moderate and centrist voices that keep radicals out of office and limit partisanship.

On top of that, the concept of a judge as a political appointment has escalated, with court appointments and resignations playing out like a chess board, and some appointment periods growing far longer than the constitution intended. These types of actions extend beyond terms and are clear efforts to entrench policy and power. It removes the American people’s ability to react to changes and political gestures.

People Are Afraid

People are doing everything they can to stay safe from real and perceived threats, but without organization or an acknowledgment of reality, what can they do? They can stay private from snooping and attempt to make an impact on the local level, but there is an entrenched attitude in Washington that is toxic and is only spreading fear.

Now people are afraid of their own government, with some talking of it as a police state or a country ruled by a tyrant. The narrative being spun by both sides of the media is that we’re headed towards disaster and that every action is taking us one step closer. It seems like we’ve been in a constant state of disaster or emergency for the last 15 years. People have either acclimated and stopped caring, which is bad if there’s a real disaster, or have lived in a state of panic, which makes them easily controlled.

Is it time to say enough’s enough?

There is a growing trend in this country towards the irrational and towards an utter breakdown of political discourse. Some people (likely justifiably) think that politics is completely out of control and that America needs to focus its efforts on finding a new, healthier political norm. Yet that isn’t going to happen until the voting public comes together and makes their voice heard at every level.

What do you plan on doing to raise the standard? Do you think that the current political situation is out of control? Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.

Sandra is a writer and blogger who focuses on political topics and technological issues. Having lived in California for several years, she is seeing more division than ever within the state’s borders.

Meanwhile – Back In The Real World

CNN sad faces on Ga election night 5-20-17My temperance mentor W.C. Fields had a saying: “Never give a sucker an even break nor smarten up a chump.” At the risk of smartening up the media, Democrats and George Soros-funded “resistance” chumps, I’d like to remind the rest of us that outside of the Left-wing bubble things are going quite swimmingly in the real world.

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency, liberals have comforted themselves by saying it was all a mistake. They assume he is foolish, self-indulgent and incompetent. Much like the campaign last fall, the Left has believed their media cheerleaders that all was well – that by now Trump would be on the ropes or gone and the GOP would be reeling from electoral disasters.

The crown jewel was going to be Democrats capturing Georgia’s 6th Congressional district in the special election last Tuesday. The stars were in alignment. Their candidate had received 48% + in the April primary election, just a few thousand votes short of the 50% that would have given him victory.  His Republican opponent for the runoff received 18% in the primary.

Manhattan, Georgetown, San Francisco and Hollywood loved the Democrat Jon Ossoff, eventually providing his campaign with $32 million. Ossoff outspent Republican Karen Handel by over $10 million, which in a Congressional district with 500,000 voters is a huge amount. The Democrats, drinking deeply of the media-supplied Kool Aid, insisted that the election was a “referendum” on President Trump.

There were more traditional Democrat vs. Republican issues that could have been the race’s focus. But the Democrat rabid left, the Soros and Resistance looney tunes who now set the tone for the party, needed a pound of Trump flesh. In his announcement speech Ossoff said he was running “to make Trump furious.” The race did not need to be a referendum on President Trump. The Democrats made it so. They lost. President Trump won, again. He and the GOP are now 4 for 4 in special elections. (For UCLA grads that means the Republicans have won 100% of them.)

Republican Handel beat Ossoff 52% to 48%. Without going into deep psephology, the result is much worse for the Democrats than that margin makes it appear. In 2016 the Democrat candidate in this district raised $0 for his campaign and received 124,917 votes. $32 million was spent for Jon Ossoff for this election. He received 124,893 votes. The more the voters heard and understood the Democrat message the more votes Handel picked up. As Ohio Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan morosely but accurately observed the day after the election, “Our brand is worse than Trump’s.”

Ryan was spot-on, which brings us to the real world, where the Democrats are in a world of hurt. President Trump is dong to them and the media what cat owners do with those red dot laser pointers. Point it so the dot appears on one wall and the cat runs full speed at it, often crashing head first into the wall. Point it at the opposite wall and the cat rushes over there, often crashing head first into that wall.  Then point it at the sofa and the cat races there to catch it. But it never does.

President Trump’s latest “go chase the red dot, you dolts” moment with the media and Democrats was his trolling them on having taped his conversations with former FBI Director Comey. The Left furiously chased that red dot for several months, bumping into the walls labelled “no proof.” The president turned the laser pointer off a couple of days ago by announcing that he really didn’t tape anything, leaving the media and Democrats with egg on their faces and much of America with a large smile on theirs.

While the Democrats, media and the Soros-funded Left continue to chase the red dot of Russian “collusion,” conservative judges are being appointed, the economy is roaring ahead, federal regulations are being eviscerated, basic American industries are being revitalized and Republicans continue to win elections.

Some liberals not totally invested in the Trump-as-Hitler narrative are catching on. Katrina vanden Heuvel, the very liberal editor and publisher of the very liberal “The Nation” wrote a piece about how the media is being duped and played for fools by the Trump administration. Her point is that there is nothing to the Russian kerfuffle but the Left’s total focus on it allows Trump to advance his agenda while liberals are searching for Boris and Natasha in the Lincoln Bedroom. While the Left is looking for Russians, President Trump is implementing his conservative agenda.

Twenty-one constitutional conservatives have now been nominated for Federal judgeships, with dozens more in the pipeline. New jobs are being created at near record numbers. The number of Americans dropping out of the workforce is steadily declining for the first time since George W. Bush was president. Federal regulations are being slashed and burned. Coal mines are re-opening in Pennsylvania. Small business, which employs 70% of the total American workforce, finds itself free from Big Brother and able to operate at a profit. Thanks to our withdrawal from the bogus Paris climate “accords,” American industry can ignore the dictates of socialist European bureaucrats. The stock market has responded with a series of record highs.

The American people are taking note. The headline on the results of a a recent CNBC national survey is, “Economic Optimism Surges To Record High As Trump Gets Credit For The Economy.”  The take away lines from survey are: “The latest CNBC ‘All American Survey’ finds that 30% of the public are both optimistic about the economy now and for the future, the second quarter in a row that present-future optimism scored so high. That’s the highest reading in the survey’s 10-year history.”

The Democrats are now paying the price for the nearly year-long plunge into the fever swamps of Trump Derangement. They and their Media/Soros paid allies chortle about President Trump’s approval ratings that hover in the low-to-mid 40s. It should be sobering to Democrats that a CBS News poll released the morning of the Georgia election found that only 31 percent of Americans thought a Democratic takeover of Congress would make their lives better.

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni is very liberal, but like Katrina vanden Heuvel a realistic one. The day after the Georgia election he wrote, “So a party sorely demoralized in November is demoralized yet again — and left to wonder if the intense anti-Trump passion visible in protests, marches, money and new volunteers isn’t just some theatrical, symbolic, abstract thing.”

Theatrical, symbolic and abstract perfectly sums up the “resistance” to President Trump. Or to paraphrase Shakespeare in Macbeth, it is “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The resistance hit its high water mark last Tuesday in Georgia and will slowly recede. The Democrat base activists are demoralized and confused, feeling like children whose parents tell them that Santa is coming the next morning – every day for 6 months.

In the real world, where Santa is not coming tomorrow morning, some people hate President Trump.  Many more people hate liberals. That’s real news, in the real world, and is good news for America.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

Trump nominee threatens to shake up Central Valley water status quo

WaterAs a presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s promise to help Central Valley farmers get more water and to reduce environmentalists’ influence over the federal government got him a warm reception in rallies last May and August in the region that leads the way in feeding the nation and in powering California’s$54 billion agricultural industry.

As president, for a variety of reasons, Trump so far has only been able to providepart of the relief on water supplies that many in the Central Valley sought, even in the wake of a winter rain deluge. But Trump has signaled his intent to honor his promise to help the region by choosing David Bernhardt – a veteran of California’s water wars – for the No. 2 job in the Interior Department.

Bernhardt is a Colorado-based partner in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a multi-state law firm which has on four occasions represented the Central Valley’s Westlands Water District, the largest U.S. irrigation district, in lawsuits targeting Interior Department policies. The law firm has been paid $1.3 million by the water agency since 2011.

Bernhardt’s Senate confirmation is expected this week or soon thereafter, but it may be close to a party-line vote. At a May 17 meeting of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Bernhardt was grilled by ranking Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington and other Democrats over the conflicts of interest he would face because of his history representing Westlands and Cadiz, a Los Angeles land development firm that has fought with federal regulators over its audacious plan to access the water in a Mojave Desert aquifer.

Bernhardt: Effect on jobs should matter in regulatory decisions

At the hearing, Bernhardt repeatedly said he would avoid issues involving former clients unless given the blessing of Interior Department ethics lawyers. But Bernhardt’s remarks in answer to another question explain why he may be such a threat to the Central Valley’s water status quo.

When asked about his commitment to “scientific integrity” in enforcing Interior Department policies, Bernhardt said, “I will look at the science with all its significance and its warts. You look at that, you evaluate it and then you look at the legal decision you can make. In some instances the legal decision may allow you to consider other factors, such as jobs.”

This is music to the ears of many Californian Republicans, starting with Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare. He has long contended that the Central Valley has suffered from a “man-made drought” because of bureaucratic decisions that interpret laws in ways that place the interests of  endangered fish such as the delta smelt over the needs of humans – despite no compelling legal obligation to do so.

The Obama administration rejected the contention, saying that its actions to use fresh water supplies to help sustain the delta smelt instead of helping Central Valley farmers followed laws requiring the federal government to protect endangered species and the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Administration representatives said the decisions Nunes slammed as arbitrary were anything but.

Yet the highest-profile fight between Bernhardt’s law firm and Obama’s Interior Department wasn’t about the delta smelt or allegedly dubious bureaucratic maneuvering. It was over toxic substances in the irrigation water coming from Westlands’ 940 square-mile district. Despite criticism from environmentalists, the Obama administration agreed to a settlement on how the problem would be ameliorated that the Fresno Bee estimated could save the water agency more than $375 million. Greens who didn’t like the ruling couldn’t overcome the case that Bernhardt built that federal courts had consistently held that the federal government bore the burden for building drainage systems to limit the impact of the toxins.

Feds control 100 million acres of land in California

But Bernhardt’s confirmation would also insert him in other California water issues.

As a Sacramento Bee editorial noted, the deputy interior secretary historically has been “directly involved in virtually every aspect of California water, from the Colorado River agreement in the south to the Klamath River in the north, and, especially, the operations of the Central Valley Project.”

Given that the federal government owns or effectively controls 100 million acres of land in California – second only to Alaska in federal land holdings in the 50 states – this focus by the agency’s number two official is unsurprising.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Union leaders launch hyperbolic grenades at Trump education budget

shocked-kid-apDid you know that the Trump/DeVos budget is manifestly cruel to children and catastrophic to public schools? Are you aware that Trump/Devos are planning to slash funding for public schools, and use voucher schemes to funnel taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools?

Well, I sure didn’t “know” these things till the two national teachers union leaders told me. But actually, climbing out of the union rabbit hole and venturing back to the real world, one regains perspective. And the reality is that the Trump/Devos budget cuts – which of course will have to run through the Congressional obstacle course before becoming law – don’t warrant the union leaders’ outlandish hyperbole. Not one iota.

In a nutshell, the budget does away with some programs that are wasteful and many that can be funded elsewhere. Alaska Native Education, Native Hawaiian Education, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers are on the elimination list. (A good summary of the budget cuts can be accessed here.) All in all, the proposed budget will pare federal spending by $9 billion, which represents a 13 percent cut. The budget also includes $1.4 billion “to support new investments in public and private school choice.” Most of the money earmarked for school choice would be an increase to the part of the existing Title 1 program that provides supplemental awards “to school districts that agree to adopt weighted student funding combined with open enrollment systems that allow Federal, State, and local funds to follow students to the public school of their choice.”

Is a 13 percent cut worth the hysteria? Hardly.

First of all, 92 percent of education spending comes from state and local sources, while federal dollars account for just 8 percent. Reducing that 8 percent by 13 percent means that each state will be losing a shade over 1 percent of its total education funding. That’s it. Hardly a slash. More like a minor paper cut. And of course any state that loses federal funding (Alaska and Hawaii take note) is perfectly capable of adding the 1 percent back via the legislative process.

As for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, they are typical of bureaucratic waste. As Brookings Institution Mark Dynarski writes, “To date, more than $12 billion of federal tax money has been spent on a program that a preponderance of evidence indicates doesn’t help students.”

It’s also instructive to step back and examine the effect that spending in general has on student achievement. And it has been proven time and again that there really is no correlation. In fact, between 1970 and 2012, our education spending tripled (in constant dollars) and student achievement was flat. On the 2015 international PISA test, which measures math, reading and science for 15 year-olds, the U.S. was in the middle of the pack – average in science and reading, but below average in math, trailing Estonia, Poland, Finland et al, while outspending those countries considerably. Additionally, a stunning 60 percent of all U.S. students now entering college need remediation.

President Trump recently told Congress, “We need to return decisions regarding education back to the State and local levels, while advancing opportunities for parents and students to choose, from all available options, the school that best fits their needs to learn and succeed.”

Trump is right on target here. Education should not be controlled by a federal bureaucracy. As Center for Education Reform CEO Jeanne Allen said in response to the budget, “Throughout the nation, at all levels, policymakers, parents, teachers and innovators are leading critical new endeavors to focus on student achievement, some by using new technologies in the classroom, some by implementing new schools of choice, some through boosting the traditional activities of districts.”

Only the special interest teachers unions and their fellow travelers could disagree.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

This piece was originally published by the California Policy Center.