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.

How Trump’s Paris Climate Agreement Decision Will Affect California Businesses

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12155315The issue of how business will fare, respond to or be affected by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement received much attention after Trump’s announcement yesterday. Responses to the move in California often highlighted the business issue in both supporting and opposing the president’s move.

Trump argued that his decision would help preserve jobs and businesses in the United States. But many business leaders, especially in California, opposed Trump’s move. The Wall Street Journal reported that many companies will not change strategies that are designed to reduce greenhouse gases because of the announcement. According to the Journal, these companies are responding to shareholder or customer demands to reduce greenhouse gases; are on the path to converting to renewable energies; or businesses in states like California are responding to state mandates to reduce their carbon footprint.

While some energy companies, particularly coal companies, applauded the president, other company leaders expressed disappointment. Business always likes certainty and many business leaders complained that they want to follow a consistent set of rules to face the challenge of climate change. One such company urging a consistent message was ExxonMobil, the country’s largest oil producer. General Electric’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt said, “Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

In California, both foes and advocates of the president’s decision used the business issue in commenting on Trump’s move.

Two prominent California based business leaders, Tesla and Space X head Elon Musk and Disney’s Robert Iger announced they were resigning from the president’s business advisory council because of Trump’s decision on the Paris accord.

Gov. Jerry Brown said California’s growing economy and new jobs were created under the state’s strong climate change mandates. “California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has advanced its nation-leading climate goals while also growing the economy. In the last seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs – outpacing most of the United States – cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and has seen its credit rating rise to the highest level in more than a decade.”

NextGen Climate president Tom Steyer went from the farcical calling Trump a “traitor” to urging “courageous action from American business leaders, who know clean energy is simply the better way to clean the air, protect our health and create jobs.”

California Manufacturers & Technology president Dorothy Rothrock said, “California has a new reason to provide meaningful leadership by adopting a market-based approach to reduce emissions that will protect manufacturing jobs and keep costs affordable for consumers.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Trump made the right choice by relieving a burden on the United States and freeing private enterprise to create more jobs. “The American energy renaissance has been good for our country and the world. It created American jobs, freed the United States and our allies from OPEC price controls, and helped to reduce emissions at the same time…President Trump made the right call in leaving a deal that would have put an unnecessary burden on the United States.”

Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council business association, said California’s businesses will continue to pursue a clean-energy future. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative.”

ditor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

California Bills Target Private Business to Help Immigrants

As reported by NBC News:

California Democrats are expanding their efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally with bills aimed at limiting how much private businesses can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Democrats control all levels of state government, and leaders have vowed to resist Trump administration policies at every turn. Immigration is among their key issues, but most legislation so far has been aimed at limiting what police can do to help immigration authorities and providing additional state services and support to immigrants in the country illegally.

Now, two bills that advanced in the Assembly in the past week are taking aim at private businesses.

A measure that would bar landlords from disclosing tenants’ immigration status or reporting them to immigration officials passed the chamber. A bill prohibiting public and private employers from letting immigration agents come into their worksites or view their employee files cleared a committee. …

Click here to read the full article

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.