Trump’s Budget Will Cut Payments to California

President Trump’s proposed budget would likely result in billions of dollars of cuts to vital health and human services programs in California, state Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the poor said Tuesday,” reported the Los Angeles Times,

“It’s unconscionable and un-American,” blasted Gov. Jerry Brown, who himself slashed state social spending to balance the budget.

In announcing the May Revision to his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017-18, Brown warned, “We have ongoing pressures from Washington and an economic recovery that won’t last forever.”

Actually, to use a line from another California governor, Ronald Reagan: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The cuts in California programs soon will be much larger than those in Trump’s proposal, and they will strike whether or not he’s president, or the White House occupant is Elizabeth Warren or the ghost of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Nor will it matter if Nancy Pelosi again becomes House speaker and is joined by Chuck Schumer as Senate majority leader.

The reason is simple: The Baby Boomers will continue retiring, and Social Security and Medicare payments will gobble up an increasing proportion of federal spending. That will crowd out everything else: spending for defense (especially wars), even though Trump now wants to increase defense spending $50 billion a year; and for all discretionary spending, including for health, education and welfare transfers to state governments.

According to Brown’s May Revise budget proposal, general fund spending would be $124 billion for fiscal 2017-18, which begins on July 1.

Brown’s January budget proposal included more details on federal funding. For example, turn to p. 28, Figure K-12-05. We see the $90.7 billion in revenue for K-12 education will come 61% from federal sources.

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The May Revise also warns: “The state must also continue to plan for and save for tougher budget times ahead. The federal government is contemplating actions – such as defunding health care for five million Californians, eliminating the deductibility of state taxes, and zeroing out funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood – that could send the state budget into turmoil….

I got some of the following charts from an article on the libertarian website LewRockwell.com, by Gary North, Ron Paul’s first economic adviser. Title, “Guns or Granny: The Looming Political Battle of the West.” North, who has written about this issue for years, copied the charts and data from non-libertarian sites. His analysis makes sense to me. But feel free to come up with your own interpretation of the independent data.

His conclusion, “Sometime before the 20’s are over, there will be no more discretionary slice of the budgetary pie. At that point, there is going to be a guerilla war in Washington. It will be a battle over the size of the slices of pie. Political voting blocs that thought the size of their slice was guaranteed will find that it isn’t.”

Check out this chart:

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The first thing to note is federal taxing is limited to 20% of GDP. In America’s entire history, it only briefly went slightly above that amount during World War II, until Hitler and Tojo were defeated. Then it went back below the 20% threshold. Americans just won’t be taxed more.

In most years since 1970, the federal government has spent more than revenues, usually around 23% to 25% of GDP. That is, spending is at least 3 to 5 percentage points above revenues. That’s how presidents and Congress have run up a massive debt that now clocks at $20 trillion. This year’s projected deficit of $603 billion, in the proposed Trump budget, sure doesn’t help. The rising debt, of course, means higher interest payments in the future – meaning less money to spend on other areas.

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Note that there is no connection between the top marginal income tax rate and tax receipts. Even if President Warren boosted the top tax rate back to 90%, as it was in the 1950s, total tax receipts would not rise, but would remain under 20%.

So, there isn’t going to be any more money. And more Baby Boomers will be retiring, putting extra demands on Social Security and Medicare. That means: Something has to give.

North’s point is that old people are not going to let their Social Security and Medicare be cut before everything else is cut: defense, education, environmental programs, science, etc.

Here’s a chart I found from the UC Davis Center for Regional Change from the 2014 California election:

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Notice how those ages 64-74 voted more than six times those of ages 18-24. That was not a presidential election year, but the votes affected congressional races. And it’s the Congress that passes the bills, not the president. In a democratic system, with majority ruling, if it’s Social Security and Medicare vs. aid to colleges and K-12 schools, who’s going to win that battle? Who is more likely to write a letter to Rep. Porkbarrel insisting on funding? It won’t matter whether the honorable representative is a Democrat or a Republican.

Finally, here’s a pie chart of federal spending in 2015:

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Notice the two slices on the right: Social Security is 24% of the budget. And 25% goes for health care – which includes not only Medicare for retirees, but Medicaid (Medi-Cal here), the Veterans Administration, federal retiree health guarantees, etc.

Those two slices are guaranteed to increase, which means the rest of the slices will have to be cut. Even in that nutty new math they teach under Common Core in the California public schools, all of something = 100%, not 110% or 150%.

When the feds cut the gravy train, which inevitable, the California state budget, like most of us aging baby boomers, is going to find it’s going to have to go on a diet.

John Seiler wrote editorials for the Orange County Register from 1987 to 2016. He now writes freelance White Papers. His email: writejohnseiler@gmail.com

Bay Area companies paying employees to protest Trump

While many conservative claims about paid protesters demonstrating against President Trump have been met with skepticism and dismissal — in the Bay Area — some of them might actually be getting money for being there.

Companies in the region are increasingly offering their employees paid time off to participate in protests, marches and other demonstrations as part of civic engagement policies.

“Democracy is a participatory institution; it’s not just something that takes place every four years when you have a candidate in a race,” Adam Kleinberg, CEO of San Francisco ad firm Traction, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The company gives its workers two paid “Days of Action” per year.

Furthermore, tech giants like Facebook recently allowed their employees to take a day of paid leave to participate in the May Day immigration rights demonstration in San Francisco — a rally that was largely a protest of Trump’s agenda.

“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesman explained in an emailed statement. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”

Major tech figures like Facebook COO Sharly Sandberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin have all spoken out against the president, illustrating this administration’s frosty relationship with the industry.

And even those who showed a willingness to work with the White House have faced a wave of scrutiny. For example, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from the president’s business advisory council earlier this year after facing intense backlash, seeing #DeleteUber trend at the top of Twitter over his decision to offer guidance on a job growth agenda.

The policies appear to reflect a growing discontent in the heavily liberal region that Trump presents more than just policy differences — but an existential threat to their well being and daily life.

“It’s a recognition of the fact that civic engagement is something that we should be doing not just as individuals but as a company,” Buoyant CEO William Morgan told CS Monitor about his software company’s policy. “I wanted to make it more clear that we could not be passive citizens in this world.”

While the policies aren’t new — as companies like Comcast have been offering such leave for years — they appear to be taking on new life in the Trump era.

“People were wishing that I was dropped off in an (Islamic State) territory, calling me an idiotic libtard, candy-ass, saying they hope we’ll go out of business. Really nasty stuff,” Kleinberg told the Chronicle about the backlash to the policy.

Overall, Trump’s policy proposals have been met with a particularly strong response in Silicon Valley due to his stance on issues like the controversial H-1B visa program that tech companies say they rely on to recruit top talent — but one critics say comes at the expense of American workers.

And the president’s rhetoric may be having some effect, as the number of H-1B applications dropped to under 200,000 in 2017 — a 15 percent decrease from a year earlier.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

What Exactly is the “Rule of Law”?

court gavelPart of the difficulty in finding common ground on the immigration debate in California is a different understanding of a basic governmental concept: the “rule of law.”

California officials have readily used the phrase when it comes to resisting the Trump Administration’s immigration policy.

Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, admonished the administration for stalking courthouses looking for people in the country illegally when she told the state legislature in her annual speech on the courts, “I submit to you today that the rule of law is being challenged.”

California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, in responding positively to a federal court’s injunction halting Trump’s executive order against sanctuary cities, declared, “This injunction is consistent with the rule of law.”

Yet, those opposed to sanctuary cities and California’s effort to become a sanctuary state ask that if people came into the country against the laws on the books, is not that a violation of the “rule of law”?

Some have even compared the efforts to ignore federal immigration laws to the nullification efforts future Confederate states used to challenge federal authority prior to the Civil War.

Differing views on what constitutes the rule of law intensifies the country’s political divide. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court will determine the law.

Cases before that court on the issue of state sovereignty have occurred in the past, of course. One case cited that may influence the outcome of a new Supreme Court test is Printz vs. United States.

This 1997 case, dealing with the Brady Gun Law, said the state could not compel local officials to execute federal law. The 5 to 4 majority declared that the Tenth Amendment to the constitution allowed the state to ignore a federal mandate, in this case requiring local law enforcement to enforce certain gun laws, because the constitution did not address the specific issue covered by the law.

Interestingly, the court majority, lead by Justice Antonin Scalia, were the conservative jurists on the court. Liberals may now use this decision to argue the Tenth Amendment allows states to declare sanctuary despite federal immigration laws because the sanctuary issue is not in the Constitution.

However, the Printz decision may not cleanly cover the issue of sanctuary cities. The majority opinion in Printz argued that the Framers of the Constitution allowed for federal regulation of international and interstate matters but reserved internal matters for the judgment of state legislatures. It may be argued that border security between nations is an international matter.

Cities can choose to not enforce federal immigration law, but they cannot stop the federal government from enforcing it. This is where the denial of federal funds to sanctuary cities comes into play and will ultimately be tested in court.

Despite the legal battle, it seems a basic understanding of what is meant by “the rule of law” is in order for the on-going immigration debate.

The American Bar Association attempted to frame a discussion of “the rule of law” in a three-page document.

The Bar Association dialogue started with questions:

“The rule of law is a term that is often used but difficult to define. A frequently heard saying is that the rule of law means the government of law, not men. But what is meant by “a government of law, not men”? Aren’t laws made by men and women in their roles as legislators? Don’t men and women enforce the law as police officers or interpret the law as judges? And don’t all of us choose to follow, or not to follow, the law as we go about our daily lives? How does the rule of law exist independently from the people who make it, interpret it, and live it?”

The site contains differing views from two civil rights historical figures.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leader of the early women’s rights movement, is quoted: “It is very important in a republic, that the people should respect the laws, for if we throw them to the winds, what becomes of civil government?”

But one can respect laws and still resist, The Rev. Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail. “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

The Bar Association comments, “The rule of law is intended to promote stability, but a society that operates under the rule of law must also remain vigilant to ensure the rule of law also serves the interests of justice.”

Strict adherence to laws on the books in relation to a concept of true justice reflects the current debate over immigration issues in this state. Yet, perception by the public of how laws are enforced is as an important part of this debate as is a finally sliced Supreme Court decision on the law. The public’s understanding of the “rule of law” is the tie that keeps in place the foundation of a civil society. So, it is incumbent on all sides of this debate to make clear what is meant in arguing for the “rule of law.”

Joel Fox is editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Bay Area demonstrators may be paid to protest, by employers

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

It’s a common accusation lobbed at liberal protesters gathered at town hall meetings, statehouses and in the streets: They’re being paid to protest.

Thanks to a rising trend among tech companies and some Bay Area firms, some, in fact, may be.

Since the beginning of the year, an increasing number of companies have unveiled policies that allow employees to take paid time off work for political or civic activities, such as protesting, canvassing, voting, volunteering or even running for office.

Big corporations like Comcast and outdoor-apparel maker Patagonia have been offering social-justice benefits to their employees for years. But several executives said the election of President Trump, and the backlash that followed, turned them on to the idea of giving their employees time off to express themselves politically. …

Click here to read the full article

California Is Headed Into a Very Dark Pit

california-flagAs California still continues thumbing their nose at the brute, non-global-warming believing Donald Trump, we the people may need him now more than ever. After eight years of doing away with 70 years of post World War II deterrence, realpolitik, balancing hostile nations and leading the world, supposedly California voters thought it was more prudent “to lead from behind.” And now the price to restore global deterrence that will protect California is being paid.

These actions, where elections have consequences, now find California in the cross hairs of North Korean nuclear missiles. Global warming, human rights (whether gay rights or religious freedom) and despising Donald Trump/Republicans won’t take precedent when the threat ignored by “strategic patience” takes aim at Los Angeles and San Francisco for nuclear annihilation. Eight years of hand wringing and indecisive rhetoric has produced North Korea, Iranian, Chinese and Russian belligerence. Each of these war-seeking nations will strike California (the heart of the U.S. economy) if and when they are given the chance.

None of these issues are crossing the California Legislature or Gov. Brown’s collective minds at this time. If that’s the case then what is the state of the state? We’re on our way to passing the largest transportation tax in the history of California, according to State Senator John Moorlach, that will do nothing to alleviate the current transportation issues, address concerns about former transportation taxes that were appropriated elsewhere or address Cal Trans union-led inefficiencies, instead of accounted for transparency. Additionally, CalSTRS continues missing investment return rates, and the unfunded liability will drain state, city and county finances in only a few years. Other California pensions aren’t doing much better, and these workers who were promised one thing will more than likely never see there money in the coming decades.

Something will have to give – pensions to public employee unions. The promise was, we (the Democratic controlled state), will promise you hundreds of billions of taxpayer money, if only you keep electing us without ever actually asking how that plays out in the real world of diminished returns, an aging society and an already overtaxed electorate. California is also trillions in debt along with almost a trillion dollars of infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, canals) work that needs to be done immediately.

Through this maelstrom, Gov. Brown is leading in polls to replace Senator Feinstein if she retires and the California Legislature has solid approval ratings. Yet crime soars in all major California cities after the passage of anti-cop, anti-incarceration propositions (47 and 57) and AB109. Democratic voters, moreover, allow the governor to reign over a “green clergy or green clerisy state,” says Joel Kotkin, to the detriment of the very constituents he claims to help with his anti-carbon, non-negotiable environmental policies.

Now cities such as Hermosa Beach want to be carbon-free without ever asking the economic, long-term, scalable viability of renewable energy to replace coal or gas-fired power plants. With the difficulties imposed by environmental mandates, (which do nothing to offset coal-fired carbon use by countries such as Germany, the U.K., China, India, most of Asia and Africa), the U.S. Census Bureau now reports housing permits and construction have slowed in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles, where I am based, continues to pass higher taxes while flouting federal immigration law. When does the madness stop? Or does it ever, particularly if Prop. 13 is overturned and state revenue would soar. That is an ever-looming possibility to solve budgetary gaps, but California continues voting for Democrats who govern this way.

What California has become, moreover, is a paradox of dysfunctional Republicans and Democrats who aren’t the kind of Democrats our parents grew up under – Pat Brown, FDR, Truman and Kennedy – men who cared about middle class prosperity and jobs, instead of billionaire Tom Steyer’s environmental edicts. Which is ironic, since he made billions off fossil fuels. We also lead the nation in illegal immigration, increasing welfare recipients, decreased incarceration causing skyrocketing crime rates and a overregulated middle class that is fleeing the state. But this is good for Democrats since the arriving poor take their place hoping for generous entitlements, service jobs or some type of government employment that benefits the California Democratic Party. It’s a perfect storm of how California is headed into a very dark pit of titanic proportions.

According to a Social Science Research Council report California has the most un-equitable levels of income, education levels and standards of living between coastal and inland communities. But as Joel Kotkin states: “Our emerging republic of climate” will only exacerbate these problems while tech, entertainment and media companies keep headquarters in California, but the real work is done in Texas, Nevada, North Carolina and other low cost, low tax states. California, however, was once the heart of the American dream, but the Democratic Party and apathetic, longing-for-Reagan-Republicans have killed that dream until voters change their patterns.

California losing its manufacturing base, aerospace and military industries is analogous to the U.S. losing deterrence; seeking to recapture that lost spirit is among the most dangerous moments when great powers lose their way. California and the U.S. will find this out at their peril whether this year or in the near future – but we will find out.

Allowing the North Koreans to develop an ICBM or signing a nuclear agreement with the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism – Iran – or letting the Chinese militarize the $5 trillion a year South China Sea while backing down to Assad continuing to gas his population are the same as California wholeheartedly believing in climate change/global warming without ever asking the consequences of your actions? California and the U.S. are on a sure-fire path to war – militarily and economically – because what was once normal (deterrence and middle class prosperity) have been replaced by fashionable, progressive policies. The false canard of sloganeering has taken over from that passé, dullard way of studying how economies grow, jobs are created and families being at the epicenter of public policy is no longer in vogue.

I implore California voters to begin asking themselves, their families and friends why they keep voting for the same public officials while expecting different results. Further, President Donald Trump doesn’t need us – and would beat Hillary Clinton again if the election was held today – so the Legislature and Gov. Brown should make nice immediately. One strategically placed nuke flips California’s massive electoral college votes to the next Republican running for president. That’s not made up scenarios, but realpolitik at its scariest. So stop the nonsense and imprudent hatred of the president. Our lives and state may depend upon it, quicker than we want to believe.

While elite, California enclaves decry high crime rates, they voted for the very people who put in place the propositions that treat criminals the way a parent treats a child who takes an extra piece of candy. Deterrence works – for societal criminals, murderous, nation-state tyrants and for California policymakers – but for now, sticking our heads in the sands and hoping for the best while Senator Kevin de Leon and Gov. Brown shove climate change legislation down our economic throats won’t stop North Korea or the downfall of California.

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

Can Trump Help California Dodge Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train?

Gov. Jerry Brown, Anne GustThe State of California issued the first tranche of taxable construction bonds last Thursday for the High Speed Rail Project, making it clear that it is determined to go ahead with the unpopular project despite numerous obstacles, including federal funding roadblocks thrown up by President Donald Trump.

According to a Bloomberg News report, California officials have made a show of faith by moving forward with the $1.25 billion offering, despite challenges including a lawsuit filed in Sacramento’s Superior Court. According to a Los Angeles Times story, “The suit was brought by John Tos, a farmer; Kings County; the city of Atherton; and several opposition groups,” and focuses chiefly on AB 1889, a bill that alters the way bond money can be spent. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, who oppose the train, state that “the bond act never gave the legislature the authority to alter it.”

The project is roundly vilified by pundits and talk radio hosts up and down the state — every major California GOP politician has denounced it, with the exception of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin — and now many residents who originally voted for it, no longer support what they see as Brown’s “boondoggle.”  But none of that has stopped Jerry Brown from making his legacy project the state’s top priority.

“California can well afford it, and it will make our state a much better place,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in February in a recorded news conference to which his press office referred in response to questions from news organizations. “I know we’re going up against a very red tide here of opposition. This thing is a long-term project, and one way or another we’re going to get it.”

Brown is coming off a rough couple of months, as California’s crumbling infrastructure became front page news — highlighting the apparent folly of building a very expensive train with money the state doesn’t have — while raising gas taxes that will hit the working poor the hardest.

Proceeding with the controversial project comes at considerable risk to California’s perennially shaky finances.  If the lawsuit is successful in freezing the original bond funds, that would be a major setback.

At issue in the suit is the diversion of $713 million of Proposition 1A Bond Funds — specifically designated for the High Speed Rail — to act as matching funds for a $2 Billion project to electrify and retrofit a government-owned Silicon Valley commuter rail known as Caltrain.

On top of that, if Trump freezes all federal funds, both rail projects will struggle even more. CalTrain officials were banking on a $647 million matching grant from the Federal Transit Administration — which Trump has “deferred” indefinitely.

If the federal spigot is turned off, California taxpayers might be forced to foot the entire bill, essentially killing the projects by delaying them —which can force the return of matching funds already spent.

The Washington Post reports that President Trump weighed in on the issue in a note to Congress last month, stating that “localities should fund these localized projects.”

Some political observers believe that Trump’s denial of funds is just playing politics.

Christopher Leinberger, chair of George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, told the Post that the cuts suggest Trump is “playing to the base,” because he received much less support in urban areas than in “drivable suburban locations.”

“This is about pure politics,” Leinberger said.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), who chairs a key House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, disagrees.

Denham, who lobbied Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to deny the grant on the basis that the new Caltrain cars did not meet the definition of high-speed rail, urged Brown to find a different source of state funding for Caltrain, then reapply for the matching federal grants, cautioning that overcommitment puts other priorities at risk.

“If you’re going to continue to obligate state dollars that you do not have, then you’re in jeopardy of at some point the federal government calling for those notes to be due, which could then put public safety dollars at risk, other transportation dollars at risk or education dollars at risk,” said Denham according to Bloomberg, who sits on the transportation and infrastructure committee.

Brown, who met with Chao last month to discuss the grant, said of Denham in a phone interview with the Post:

“That’s called blackmail.”

Californians “voted for a bond issue” for high-speed rail “but envisioned other projects” using the cash, the governor said in the interview. “To go against it is the rawest, stupidest form of politics.”

Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and author who is doing a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless. He ran for governor in 2014.

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.donnelly.12/

Twitter:  @PatriotNotPol

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

How the Trump administration can stop the bullet train

From the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

The only kind of news the troubled $64 billion California bullet train project seems to generate is bad news. In January, a Federal Railroad Administration analysis was leaked that projected the initial 118-mile, $6.4 billion segment of the project would run 50 percent over budget. Then last week, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that the project’s price tag may continue to be pushed higher and higher by “the complex engineering needed for passenger safety.” It also offered an alarming warning from rail safety consultant Steven Ditmeyer that corners were being cut already on safety issues for budgetary and political reasons.

The jarring questions these reports raise about the project’s finances and management couldn’t come at a worse time for the rail authority and Gov. Jerry Brown, the bullet train’s most vocal backer. That’s because U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is being urged by California House Republicans not only to audit the project but also to reverse Obama administration decisions that exempted it from normal standards relating to the state’s use of about $3 billion in federal funds.

One of those decisions was explicit and aboveboard, if dubious: a 2012 agreement that allowed the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding without matching state spending. Rep. Jeff Dunham, R-Turlock, and other bullet train critics have long argued that this waiver is directly in contradiction to decades of precedents under which the federal government requires matching state spending on big projects to lock in states’ commitments to finish what they start. …

Click here to read the full article

The #NeverTrump Crowd Owes President Donald Trump An Apology

donald-trump-3Before launching into this piece I know wonderful conservatives who are part of the #NeverTrump ideologues. I also have close, personal friends – even mentors – who are still part of this movement; but now for the good of the country, California and professional reputations I implore all of you to let prudence be your guide. Stop your continued misguided, ridiculous and frankly embarrassing behavior and admit he is a great, conservative president who actually stands up and fights for what is best for the United States and California.

Let’s review what President Trump accomplished in one week. He got Judge (now Associate Justice) Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court, and according to Senator Tom Cotton (a former member of the 101st Airborne, served in Iraq and Afghanistan), “Restored America’s credibility in the world,” after striking Syria over their chemical weapons attack. Senator Cotton further remarks:

“It’s also telling that the strikes in Syria occurred while President Trump dined with President Xi Jingping of China since the president has repeatedly expressed his concerned about North Korea and expects China to restrain Pyongyang.”

No fan of President Trump, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, echoed the same sentiments as Sen. Cotton, that Trump understands the rough and tumble world of international diplomacy. He one-upped President Xi by making him wait an hour for his arrival at their recent summit the same way Ronald Reagan first greeted Gorbachev on a cold winter day wearing only a suit while Gorbachev was bundled in a heavy top coat and scarf. Trump understands what Obama didn’t, and the Chinese have begun changing their behavior after the summit, when it was reported by Reuters that China is turning back North Korean coal (North Korea’s main export) from their docks.

“But wait,” the #NeverTrump crowd will say, “Donald Trump is an ally of Putin and aligned himself with his crude behavior against American interests by wanting normalized relations with Russia.”

Sen. Cotton takes issue with that line of reasoning from the #NeverTrump crowd when he further stated in an op-ed for the New York Times (not the biggest President Trump fans by the way):

“Russia’s geopolitical standing has taken a severe blow. Mr. Putin was powerless to protect his client in Damascus. Moscow now faces a Hobson’s choice of empty words of condemnation or escalation on behalf of a global pariah, which risks further American action. After years of Russian aggression being met by empty American words, now Mr. Putin finds his credibility at stake.”

Or, as my former graduate school professor Victor Davis Hanson recently opined about “redline threats” in a brilliant article titled, “Ancient Laws, Modern Wars,” when smaller nations (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran) believe deterrence is nothing more than hollow words – which the former administration gave the U.S. and the world – then wars such as World War I are the outcome. Words need forcible actions and this president and his secretary of state are proving that on a daily basis.

Even a former high-ranking Obama administration official despaired over the moral depravity and ineptitude of her former colleagues and boss who knew chemical weapons were still in Syria, lied about it anyway, and did nothing to stop this latest chemical attack – except having the Treasury Department:

“Quietly introduce last minute treasury sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Assad in particular.”

In other words, President Obama’s administration, led by former Secretary of State John Kerry (Kerry said, “100 percent of chemical weapons are out of Syria”), knew Putin and Russia had done nothing about Assad’s chemical weapons, continued the myth, or are such gross incompetents they had no idea that Putin’s government didn’t keep their promises to remove Assad’s chemical weapons.

That would mean the 16 U.S. government intelligence agencies, “that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the nationals security of the United States,” never spoke with, wrote a memo of, or even had an underling relay that information (chemical weapons still exist in Syria) to President Obama, his national security team (led by Susan Rice), or former Secretary Kerry.

But the Republican purists and #NeverTrump crowd will still argue and debate President Trump’s merit as a leader, policymaker and how he isn’t presidential enough for their liking. As Dennis Prager articulates in a recent column: “Purists Kill Whatever They Believe In,” whether health care reform (Obamacare is still law costing hundreds of billions in taxes, wages and premiums), no hope of tax reform (also costing hundreds of billions), or not having the ability, reasonable level of competency and skill to actually govern, which purist Republican are demonstrating right now in California and the U.S. Congress.

Why wouldn’t he go to Twitter to bash his own party and the press? Given the above example does any reasonable person believe he will receive fair coverage by the press and his own party at this time?

Ironically, his tweets of Sweden being overrun by terrorist-immigrants and President Obama spying on him have more truth than falsehoods to them. Read Eli Lake’s piece in Bloomberg on Obama officials spying on Trump transition team members where NSA Susan Rice was behind breaking the law and high-ranking national security officials (Deputy Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas) admitted to spying on the incoming administration along with high-ranking officials from the National Security Council, Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA.

But Trump is a buffoon and un-presidential, correct? Now the Swedish Prime Minster has said, “His country will never go back to the days of mass immigration,” after the failed asylum seeker (who launched the recent Swedish terrorist attack) was let in Sweden without being vetted. The #NeverTrump crowd and Republican purists owe President Trump their deepest gratitude for their safety, because he doesn’t seem so wrong after all – now does he? And whom do you trust – the eloquent, former law school professor or the rough and tumble real estate developer?

Yet Republican policymakers are still blaming President Obama while not working with Trump for their inability to pass any of the above changes. This was confirmed by Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Ok.) to Politico when he said, “Clearly President Obama gave us a common focus. Now that he’s gone, we have to govern.”

Congressman Lucas and his ilk should be voted out of office. Either govern or at least support the president, because members like Congressman Lucas and California State Republican Senator Anthony Cannella are killing the Republican Party while making the case for the continuation of leftism perpetuated by the Democratic Party.

Using the reasoning that the enemy of the good is the perfect, here are a few questions for the #NeverTrump crowd: Who else was going to beat Secretary Clinton? I voted for Cruz and supported Rubio wholeheartedly until he dropped out of the race, but if it weren’t for Trump in Florida, Rubio loses, to the detriment of Florida and the country. Were Drs. Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson wrong for supporting Trump? Are they stupid, unwise, without domestic or international knowledge or simply non-prudent bumpkins? Not hardly.

Final question for The National Review and The Weekly Standard folks and California policymakers who didn’t support Trump, and still lost: After your high-priced and overpaid columns, speeches, lectures, luncheons, dinners, conferences, radio and television appearance along with week long cruises around the world, where you are all speak and no action, what would you have done if Hillary Clinton had won and the Democrats were in control?

Because for 99.9 percent of the world under assault from the U.S. and California Democratic Party over social issues (abortion, gay marriage – support it or else – transgender rights – also support it or else, and global warming – unfortunately, support it or else) not to mention the disaster that is taking place around the world echoed by Victor Davis Hanson and for California, written extensively by Joel Kotkin over its forthcoming financial and societal meltdown there are few options over our intrusive, leviathan government. What are your answers? As opposed to we hate Trump’s tweets and he isn’t Reagan?

Trump is confronting Russia, China, North Korea and Iran the way Reagan confronted Russia. Secretary Tillerson is exactly what is needed to deal with those four bastard countries. The day of niceties red-reset buttons with Russia are over.

Here’s what today’s Democrats are giving us: Higher taxes, horrible racist, crime-infested cities, poor infrastructure, failing universities and public education, higher taxes, global warming policies costing trillions and most Republicans go right along with it like lambs to the slaughter. Is it any wonder the country elected Trump? Paradoxically, these same Republicans and the #NeverTrump crowd still haven’t repealed Obamacare, cut taxes or begun rebuilding the military – it’s been Trump – and it’s why you owe him an apology. Begin working with him, and start preparing for the foreign policy disaster that is coming our way when California implodes and China/North Korea, Russia or Iran attacks us.

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

On Legal Marijuana, Congress Should Stay Sessions’ Hand

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

The Trump administration has stayed relatively quiet on the subject of state measures to legalize recreational marijuana. However, recent statements from Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Attorney General Jeff Sessions would suggest a change in tone from candidate Trump’s earlier statement that he’d be willing to let states chart their own course on marijuana policy. Although such a change in policy will likely prove ineffective, the uncertainty it creates only goes to highlight the necessity of congressional action to give states the necessary leeway to pursue their own reforms without relying on executive indulgence.

Since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, some 28 states have legalized medical use of marijuana, and eight have passed full legalization, with half of that number coming in the last election. While those eight states passed their reforms at the ballot box, a number of other states are considering legalization bills in the current legislative session. Naturally, this change in the legal landscape has accompanied a shift in public opinion. According to Gallup, support for legalization has gone from about 25 percent in 1995, the year before Proposition 215, to 60 percent late last year.

All of this has occurred with varying degrees of forbearance on the part of the federal government. The Clinton and Bush administrations pursued fairly aggressive policies toward dispensaries and even patients in medical marijuana states, and the Obama administration continued the trend. Then, in 2013, the Obama DOJ issued the Cole memo, which instructed federal authorities to lay off those who were in compliance with state law. This relative détente has held up to the present. In fact, this approach of ad hoc federalism enjoys solid public support. A Quinnipiac poll from February found 71 percent of Americans opposed federal enforcement of prohibition in states that have legalized, and even among Republicans that figure stood at 55 percent to 36 percent against.

Of course, this shift from the long-dominant prohibitionist orthodoxy hasn’t been without controversy. In 2011, just after legalization passed in Colorado and Washington, Hillary Clinton maintained that there was “too much money” in black market marijuana for it to be legalized, and Ed Feulner, former president of the Heritage Foundation and member of Trump’s transition team, just this past fall called for a re-declaration of the War on Drugs, explicitly including marijuana. In that piece he singled out data from Colorado showing increases in “marijuana related” emergency room visits and hospitalizations, as well as “pot-positive” traffic fatalities. However, as detailed in a report by the Colorado Department of Public Safety in March 2016, the data don’t lead so readily to alarmist conclusions. In fact, Colorado’s own governor, John Hickenlooper, has gone from musing about undoing legalization if only he had a magic wand to guarded optimism.

Despite the ominous statements from administration officials, Trump himself apparently struck a more accommodating tone in a meeting with state governors in late February. Even though he made no explicit mention of marijuana, he signaled a willingness to let states pursue their own policies without fear of federal interference. Given the impossibility of policing a combined population of 70 million in the states that have legalized with the roughly 5,000 special agents of the DEA, it would seem like an easy call for the administration to prioritize investigations of otherwise violent traffickers over hounding commercial growers and retailers complying with state law. Furthermore, letting legalization run its course in the states might be one of the best ways to undercut the black market. In an NPR report from 2014, one Mexican grower they interviewed reported that the wholesale price per kilo had fallen by more than half, and, per the Washington Post, overall seizures at the border had fallen from 4 million pounds in 2009 to 1.5 million in 2015.

The current disconnect between federal marijuana policy and the ongoing reforms at the state level is untenable. Rather than revert to the tried and failed prohibitionist approach, it’s time for Congress to codify the current ad hoc federalism of Obama’s second term and give the states and their burgeoning marijuana industries the breathing room they need. In so doing, they will sap the strength of the cartels, create jobs, and allow law enforcement to turn its attention to more important work.

Dan Spragens is a criminal justice reform intern at Reason Foundation.

Donald Trump Declares California a ‘Major Disaster’

U.S. Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking  - RTX24HM9

President Donald Trump approved a declaration of a “major disaster” in California over the weekend, freeing up federal funds for flood relief in several rural counties in response to requests from Governor Jerry Brown and local residents.

In a press release on Sunday, the White House stated:

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump declared a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides during the period of February 1 to February 23, 2017.

Federal funding is available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides in the counties of Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

The Los Angeles Times notes that President Trump’s declaration extends federal relief first offered in January.

Despite California Democrats’ determination to “resist” President Trump’s broader agenda, the president has granted the state’s requests for emergency relief.

However, the administration has also warned “sanctuary cities” in California that they will lose millions of dollars in federal grant money for law enforcement if they continue to refuse to cooperate with or honor federal immigration law.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California