President Trump Doing California a Bullet Train Favor

At last count, California’s Democratic political leadership had filed four dozen lawsuits against President Donald Trump’s administration, reflecting differences on policies large and small.

For the most part, California’s legal allegations have been on target. However, Trump is on solid legal and logical ground in the latest conflict over the state’s disastrous foray into high-speed rail transportation.

Nine years ago, the Obama administration gave the state a $3.5 billion grant to finance a big share of the initial bullet train segment, more than 100 miles of track from a point north of Fresno to the outskirts of Bakersfield.

The federal money was to be matched by state funds from a $9.95 billion bond issue passed by California voters in 2008 and the San Joaquin Valley stretch was to be completed by 2017. Later, before Trump became president, the feds gave California an extension to 2022, but only tiny portions have been built.

Late last year, the state’s auditor, Elaine Howle, told the Legislature that meeting the 2022 deadline would be nearly impossible, citing the High-Speed Rail Authority’s “flawed decision making regarding the start of high-speed rail system construction in the Central Valley and its ongoing poor contract management for a wide range of high-value contracts.” Howle said the problems “have contributed to billions of dollars in cost overruns for completing the system.”

A couple of months later, Gavin Newsom succeeded bullet-train booster Jerry Brown as governor and told the Legislature in his first State of the State address, “Let’s be real. The project as currently planned would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.”

He said he would concentrate on finishing the San Joaquin Valley segment and extending it on both ends to piece together a three-system pathway for traveling between San Francisco and Bakersfield.

After Newsom’s address, President Donald Trump declared on Twitter: “California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the federal government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration, in a 25-page letter, formally rescinded about $1 billion dollars not yet given to California and hinted again that it would claw back the other $2.5 billion.

“It is now clear that California has no foreseeable plans, nor the capability, to pursue that statewide High-Speed Rail System as originally proposed,” wrote Ronald Batory, the federal railroad administrator, adding that the state “is chronically behind in project construction activities and has not been able to correct or mitigate its deficiencies.”

“The Trump administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state,” Newsom responded in a statement. “This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”

That’s not really true. The money was part of an overall appropriation by Congress for rail projects and California was given a piece of it by the Obama administration under a contract.

It has not met its contractual obligations and cannot, as Howle said late last year, meet the 2022 deadline due to poor management during Jerry Brown’s administration.

The bullet train utterly lacks a rational purpose, has been ill-managed from the onset and is a black financial hole. If the Trumpies strangle it, they would be doing California a big favor.

This article was originally published by CalMatters

California Regulator Threatens Trump With `Extreme’ Auto Rules

A top California environmental regulator is threatening to enact tough, new pollution rules — including an unprecedented ban on cars burning petroleum-based fuels — in response to a Trump administration plan to relax vehicle emission standards.

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said the state would be forced to pursue “extreme” requirements to offset the uptick in pollution that would be unleashed if federal vehicle emission and fuel economy standards are weakened.

“If we lose the state vehicle standards, we have to fill up the gap with other measures,” Nichols said at a forum on the issue Thursday. “We will be faced with dramatic alternatives in terms of tighter, stricter controls on everything else, including movement of vehicles and potentially looking at things like fees and taxes and bans on certain types of vehicles and products.”

Nichols did not explicitly outline possible changes at Thursday’s event, which was held to discuss the consequences of the Trump proposals and potential California countermeasures. But in remarks prepared for the meeting, she raised the specter of outlawing conventional vehicles with combustion engines, as well as tougher anti-pollution requirements on everything from fuel to the refineries producing it. …

Click here to read the full article from Bloomberg

Trump administration cancels $929 million in California high speed rail funds

The Trump administration said on Thursday it was formally cancelling $929 million in previously awarded funding for California’s high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal by the state.

The U.S. railway regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said on Thursday it had canceled the funding awarded in a 2010 agreement after it said the state had “repeatedly failed to comply” and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

In a statement, the FRA said it was still considering “all options” on seeking the return of $2.5 billion in federal funds the state has already received. …

Click here to read the full article from Reuters.com

California Senate approves bill requiring presidential candidates to submit tax returns

California’s Senate approved a bill this week requiring presidential candidates to submit five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot, joining 18 other states in a jab at President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

California joins New York, Illinois and Washington, among other states, that have introduced bills requiring all candidates to release their individual tax returns to qualify for the presidential primary ballot. Tax returns have become a key 2020 issue, with Trump refusing to surrender them and Democratic presidential candidates sharing their tax information with varying degrees of timeliness.

The state’s Senate passed the measure by a 27-10 party line vote Thursday. The bill now goes to the state’s assembly for consideration. It’s not clear if California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, would sign the bill into law should it make it to his desk. …

Click here to read the full article from CNN

Gavin Newsom wants California to be its own nation-state in the Trump era

Gavin newsomJust five weeks into the job, Gov. Gavin Newsom has crystallized his vision of what California will look like in the Trump era: It won’t just be the hub of the resistance against the president; it will be its own nation-state.

But before Newsom can create a country-within-a-country, he had to defuse two multibillion-dollar grenades that his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, left in his in-box: high-speed rail and the delta tunnels project. In proposing Tuesday to scale back both of Brown’s unpopular legacy projects, Newsom hopes he can preserve enough political capital to get his own legacy projects on the fast track.

If he can do that, he can lead California down its own path for as long as Trump is president. California must go it alone, because Trump’s portrait of America is “fundamentally at odds with California values,” the governor said Tuesday in his first State of the State speech. …

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

Trump Administration Sues California over Bay-Delta Plan


Delta TunnelsThe Trump administration sued California’s State Water Resourced Control Board (SWRCB) in federal court in Sacramento on Thursday, escalating a legal war over the fate of the water in the San Joaquin River valley system.

The San Joaquin River and its tributaries provide crucial water supplies to farming communities in the Central Valley — and also provide the vast majority of the drinking water supply to San Francisco and surrounding areas.

However, environmentalists, fishing interests, and Native American communities have claimed that overuse of the river system’s waters has resulted in a steep decline in native fish populations in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta.

Last December, the SWRCB approved a controversial plan that would require the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to maintain an average of 40% of “unimpeded flow,” i.e. the flow that would exist in the river system without human activity, for the late winter and spring months of February through June.

Environmentalists argued the plan does not go far enough, saying 60% of unimpeded flow would have been necessary to make a real difference in boosting fish populations. Farmers countered that other factors are affecting fish populations, including predation by non-native fish species in the Delta.

The board approved the plan despite efforts by then-Governor Jerry Brown and incoming Governor Gavin Newsom to broker voluntary water conservation agreements between the state and the local water districts that would involve fewer restrictions. The Trump administration was also critical of the plan, and Republicans urged the administration to block it.

Once the plan was approved, the various water users — rural and urban — filed dozens of lawsuits. And one of Newsom’s first acts as governor was to replace the SWRCB’s chair, Felicia Marcus, an environmental attorney.

Now the U.S. Department of the Interior has joined the fray. The Sacramento Bee notes: “The lawsuit …  says the state water board’s plan would violate California’s own environmental laws, as well as foul up the federal government’s ability to deliver water from New Melones reservoir on the Stanislaus River to member agencies of the Central Valley Project.”

The legal fights are likely to go on for years unless a comprehensive set of voluntary agreements can be reached.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Immigration to America is Not What It Used To Be


Maria Ortiz, at left, a Mexican immigrant has been living in the United States for 23 years. "I am single. I work so hard to stay. I never needed support from the government," Ortiz said. She is not a citizen and works as a janitor, she said during an immigration protest outside Rep. Ed Royce's office in Brea. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: – MINDY SCHAUER, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – Shot 111713 – immig.fast.11.19 Advocates for immigration reform will camp our near the office of Rep. Ed Royce for five days, where they will stage a fast. They are asking OC's Republican leaders in Congress to publicly support an overhaul to the nation's immigration laws, including the so-called pathway to citizenship that would create a process for some 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally the right to become citizens.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony in Texas on March 18, former president George W Bush said that immigration to America “is a blessing and a strength.” He also said that “borders need to be respected,” and praised the work of border patrol agents, but that’s not what the media seized upon.

The Washington Post inserted “blessing and strength” into the lede of their report, entitled “George W. Bush: ‘May we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength’,” also working into the first sentence the following dig at Trump, “a message that sharply contrasts with President Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.”

CNN Politics covered the speech, making sure to note that “the rhetoric and policy positions from Bush came in contrast to much of the modern Republican Party and President Donald Trump.” The BBC said “Mr Bush’s comments were seen as an implicit rebuke to President Donald Trump’s administration.”

And on and on. CBS News: “Bush urges politicians to ‘dial down rhetoric’ on immigration.” Boston Globe: “described immigration as ‘a blessing and a strength,’ a message that sharply contrasts with President Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.” People Magazine: “it was a soft rebuke of the prevailing anti-immigrant position of some members of the Republican Party, including President Donald Trump.”

Get it? George W Bush has won his grim battle with history. Various photos showed him inviting dozens of new citizens up to the podium, including Muslims in headscarves, Hispanics, and Africans. Apparently including anyone of European descent would have been bad optics. And never mind that if Bush the Second hadn’t bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq, the Middle East might be relatively stable today. Iraq, for all its problems, would nonetheless provide a strategic counterweight to Iran. We would have saved trillions of dollars and spared millions of lives, and additional millions of refugees would have stayed home.

The problem with all this media-spun anti-Trump wisdom from Bush is simple: President Trump is right, and the spin is wrong. It is true that America was enriched in the past by waves of new immigrants. It is true that in the past, these waves of new immigrants benefit the economy. And it is true that even now, if immigration were brought under control, reduced somewhat, and reformed so that only highly skilled immigrants with a commitment to learning English were vetted and admitted, it would again be beneficial to our economy and enrich our culture. But that’s not what’s happening.

According to CarryingCapacity.org, the United States “now accepts over one million legal immigrants each year, which is more than all of the other industrialized nations in the world, combined.” Additionally, according to ImmigrationCounters.com, there are nearly 28 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

Attempting to quantify the costs and benefits of immigration into the U.S. is not easy. A study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the cost to America taxpayers to provide illegal immigrants government funded education, health care, justice and law enforcement, public assistance, and general government services is estimated at $135 billion per year. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, “63% of non-citizen households access welfare programs compared to 35% of native households.”

Statistics abound – and for every study suggesting that America’s immigration is creating a burden on the economy, there is another that concludes the opposite, that immigrants continue to provide a net economic benefit to the economy. So rather than provide yet another regurgitation of battling statistics, it is important to note some crucial qualitative differences between immigration trends in America today, compared with past centuries in America.

Why Immigration to America Today is Different

(1)  Immigrants today are not coming from nations of equal or greater economic achievement. In the past, immigrants from Europe, for the most part, were emigrating from nations that were as advanced as the United States was, if not more so. Today the overwhelming majority of immigrants are coming from developing nations.

(2) Immigrants in the past came primarily from European nations which had cultural values – educational, religious, and political – that were, if not nearly identical to American cultural values, were on a shared trajectory towards achieving those values. Immigrants today come from nations that, relatively speaking, have far less cultural similarities to America than past waves of immigrants.

(3) Immigrants today, for the most part, are coming from nations that are rapidly increasing in population and, in aggregate, dwarf the United States in population. Related to this is the fact that in the past, the people already in America were themselves rapidly increasing in population, but this is no longer the case, except among populations of recently arrived immigrants.

(4) Immigrants today arrive via ten hour hops on an airliner. In the past, waves of immigrants spent ten months traversing land and sea in a journey of staggering expense and significant dangers. While this isn’t universally true, particularly for the overland migrants that cross America’s southern border, in general it is – coming to America today does not require the commitment it required in the past.

(5) Similarly, in the past, immigrants pretty much renounced the nations of their origin, they made a one-way trip, and they adopted the language and values of America. Today, retaining cultural unity with one’s country of origin is a few clicks on the internet, a cheap telephone call, an affordable airfare. Technology has greatly eroded the forces that used to impel immigrants to become Americans.

(6) Immigrants in the past arrived in an America that had a voracious need for unskilled workers. Today the American economy is relentlessly automating jobs that used to require unskilled labor, and the American population already has a surplus of unskilled workers.

(7) Immigrants today are arriving in a welfare state, where they are assured of food, shelter and medical care that are, in general, orders of magnitude better than anything available to them in their native countries. This creates a completely different incentive to today’s immigrants. In past centuries, immigrants came to America to find freedom and to work. Today they are offered a smorgasbord of taxpayer-funded social services.

(8) Immigrant students today – especially in the coastal urban centers where most of them settle – enter a public education system that teaches them with a reverse-racist, anti-capitalist bias. They are taught in our public schools not to assimilate, but to celebrate diversity; not to earn opportunities through hard work, but through fighting discrimination. They are taught, often in their native language, that they have arrived in a nation dominated by racist and sexist white males, who exploit the world to amass evil profits.

These final three points are the most problematic. If immigration reform advocates made those a priority and addressed them decisively with new policies, the other concerns might be manageable. But we must address the problems caused by immigrants with low job-skills, who encounter the welfare state, and are subjected to anti-Western cultural messaging.

To suggest Americans ought to resist competing with highly skilled immigrants, for example, is not only xenophobic, but it smacks of an entitlement mentality. Allowing immigrants into the United States who are qualified to join our ranks of scientists, engineers, researchers and doctors will only help our economy and overall standard of living. Allowing unskilled immigrants into this country, however, when we already have tens of millions of unskilled workers who are either in our prisons or unemployed and collecting welfare – who themselves could perform this work – is much more likely to constitute a drain on our economy.

Similarly, it is a recipe for disaster to allow immigrants into an America where the curricula in K-12 schools and universities – beholden to powerful left-wing teachers and faculty unions – indoctrinates immigrants to resent the alleged evils of capitalism and the incorrigible racist, sexist core of our American culture. This is particularly true when accompanying this siren song of corruption is easy access to social services of all kinds, including welfare. If new immigrants are taught the cards are stacked against them, and at the same time they are offered a free ride that provides a standard of living many times greater than what they knew in the countries they came from, why work?

Clearly an increasing population, all else held equal, does cause overall economic expansion. It isn’t clear at all, however, that this is the optimal way to create economic expansion. First of all, global human population is destined to level off by 2050 anyway, so rather than expanding the population through immigration, economic policy needs to search for the answer as to how to continue to experience economic growth despite a stable, aging population. In Japan, they have already made this policy decision – with zero net immigration and the oldest population on earth, Japan leads the world in the development of androids that will, presumably, become caregivers to the elderly. Economic growth oriented towards improving the quality of life for the elderly is one example of a sustainable growth sector – economic growth dependent on an immigrant-fueled population expansion is not sustainable.

There is another factor, of course, that makes immigration today far more problematic than it was in past generations. Now more than ever, mass immigration of unskilled economic migrants and political refugees has become a strategy to move America sharply to the Left by dramatically transforming the electorate. What the establishment uniparty is doing in America today is a deliberate devaluation of American votes, and a deliberate thwarting of the general will of the Americans who have lived and worked in America for generations. Trump’s bellicosity may scare the soccer moms, but they along with everyone else who loves America ought to reflect on his actions instead of his tone. He is the only major politician in modern times who has tried to do anything to stop this. George W Bush, God bless him, should stop letting the media use his words as weapons in their war against Trump.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

California Voters Could Be Asked To Impose An Estate Tax

property taxCalifornia voters would consider a state-mandated tax on the assets of wealthy residents, one that could generate as much as $1 billion a year for low-income families, under legislation introduced in the state Legislature on Tuesday.

The bill would ask voters next year to impose an estate tax of a size equal to what was loosened in 2017 by President Trump and Republicans in Congress as part of a broad tax overhaul law. The goal, said the proposal’s author, is to create an overall tax burden for wealthy Californians equal to what existed before the federal tax break was created.

Under Senate Bill 378, the revenues from the tax would be earmarked for programs designed to combat income inequality.

“A California estate tax benefits low-income families by helping them build wealth and end the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said in a written statement. …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Times

The Vast Attempt to Undo the 2016 Election Has Failed


Robert MuellerWell, I am going to miss the full-bore SWAT-team raids at dawn against aging political factota like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. It was really very courteous of CNN to have been parked outside the homes of those hapless victims so that television audiences all across the country could all be edified by these exhibitions of the coercive arm of state power in action. Mr. Mueller could just have had one of his 17 Obama-and-Hillary supporting prosecutors ring up the latest mark and ask him to pop down to headquarters. But that would not have been as dramatic, as expensive, or as cruel.

All good things come to an end, however, and yesterday, after 674 days, the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, G-Man extraordinaire, finally came to an end when he filed his long-awaited report with the Attorney General, William Barr.

As for what’s in the report, I know exactly as much as you, Rachel Maddow, Jim Acosta, Anderson Cooper, and their brethren in the Fourth Estate, that is, nothing at all.

Nor is it at all certain that we will ever know all that much that’s in the report. Since the law prohibits the dissemination of potentially damaging information about people who were investigated but not charged with a crime, there are bound to be large sections of the report that will remain forever under lock and key, especially now that James Comey and Andrew McCabe are not in the FBI to leak them.

All we really know at this point pertains not the the contents of the report per se but rather to the future action of the Special Counsel. There will be no more indictments.

How that announcement must have stung the NeverTrump fraternity. Here they were, huddled around Bill Kristol’s Twitter feed for the last two-plus years, praying, predicting, posturing that very soon now, any day in fact, Robert Mueller would descend into their midst, the deus ex machina through whose instrumentality they were to be delivered at long last from the nightmare of Donald Trump and his unacceptable record of robust economic growth, hundreds of constitutionally-minded judicial appointments, rising wages, historically low unemployment, a more rational and business-friendly regulatory environment, deeper ties with Israel, a revitalized military, and serious attention to our immigration crisis and the growing threat of an increasing militant China. Yes, it’s been a bad couple of years for the NeverTrumpers.

And even though Robert Mueller has hung up his spurs, their travails are not yet at an end. Mr Mueller indicted a slew of individuals and three Russian companies. He extracted seven guilty pleas from various people close, or formerly close, to President Trump, from the shyster Michael Cohen, at one time Trump’s personal lawyer, to Michael Flynn, briefly the president’s National Security Adviser before he was set up by the FBI and ruined financially by the-process-is-the-punishment legal fees.

The really splendid thing about Mueller’s indictments, though, is that not one of them pertains to the ostensible subject of his investigation, to wit: possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to steal the 2016 election.

The question is, however, what comes next? Last May in these virtual pages, writing about the efforts of Devin Nunes, then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to get to the bottom of the skullduggery that instigated the Mueller investigation, I wrote that

‘What is being exposed is the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States: the effort by highly placed — exactly how highly placed we still do not know — members of one administration to mobilize the intelligence services and police power of the state to spy upon and destroy first the candidacy and then, when that didn’t work, the administration of a political rival.’

John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, John McCain, Christopher Steele, Glenn Simpson, and others did their best to undo the results of the 2016 election. The Mueller investigation was their not-so-secret weapon upon which vast hopes rested.

It has, unfortunately for them, been increasingly clear for some time that Robert Mueller was coming up empty-handed, at least on the main task, which was to unseat the President. Hence the newly energized efforts by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and others to construct an ‘insurance policy’ in the form of impeachable offenses that might be brought against the president should, horrible dictu, Robert Mueller’s efforts at decapitation fail. As I wrote here a few weeks ago, ‘no one not named Bill Kristol now thinks that Mueller’s expensive, long-running entertainment will issue in any actionable charges against the president.’ Nevertheless, Nadler and his colleagues have opened a sweeping corruption probe in a desperate search for compromising tidbits from Donald Trump’s past business dealings that could plausibly form the basis for articles of impeachment.

It’s a fool’s errand. That chapter is closed. There may be a few backwards glances as the story moves forward, but moving forward it is, and not in a direction that the NeverTrump fraternity and the anti-Trump coven in the media and the government will like. Here we are just a day after Mueller pushed his report over the transom at Main Justice and we’re getting headlines like this: ‘As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges.” That story begins:

‘We now have strong evidence that retired British spy Christopher Steele began his quest in what ultimately became the infamous Russia collusion dossier with a series of conversations with top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr between December 2015 and February 2016 about securing evidence against Manafort.

‘We know the FBI set up shop in the U.S. embassy in Kiev to assist its Ukraine–Manafort inquiry . . . while using Steele as an informant at the start of its Russia probe. And we know Clinton’s campaign was using a law firm to pay an opposition research firm for Steele’s work in an effort to stop Trump from winning the presidency, at the same time Steele was aiding the FBI.’

Uh oh. And there is a lot more where this came from.

Schadenfreude is an unlovely emotion, one it behooves us to renounce, especially in the midst of Lent. But I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of it abroad in the coming weeks and months as the beady eyes of the FBI swivel away from Donald Trump onto those who have spent the last two and a half years trying to destroy him.

This article was originally published by The Spectator

California Gov. Newsom offers rare praise for Trump

Gavin Newsom budgetPresident Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have been at odds long before the latter took office in Sacramento earlier this year – lambasting each other in speeches and on social media over issues ranging from immigration to high speed rail projects.

So it probably came as a shock to many when Newsom on Monday offered rare praise of a Trump administration policy that provides tax breaks to spur investment in low-income areas.

During a speech at Stanford University, Newsom said the Opportunity Zones program will not only help boost California’s already enormous economy, but would also help provide funds to deal with state’s housing crisis and would promote energy investment to help the state reach its climate change goals. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News