California Democrats Behaving Like Confederates

For fiscal conservatives and free market advocates, the national elections in 2008 and 2012 brought no small measure of disappointment. In its eight-year run, the Obama administration imposed a host of new taxes – including several as part of the failed “Affordable Care Act” – and, just as egregious, nearly doubling the national debt from $10 trillion to over $20 trillion.

Those who advocate for lower taxes, property rights and less burdensome regulation understood and begrudgingly accepted that “elections have consequences.” (As President Obama was known to brag.) So it is now with amusement – if not outright schadenfreude – we are watching progressives across the nation, and especially here in California, melt down in shock and disbelief.

Particularly frustrating for progressives is their growing realization that many of the policies and actions of the last eight years that they jammed down the throats of conservatives and center right citizens from “fly-over” country are now coming back to haunt them. For example, former Democrat Senator Harry Reid from Nevada changed longstanding Senate rules regarding how many votes it would take to stop the filibuster of a presidential appointee. Progressives imposed that rule to pack the United States Court of Appeal for District of Columbia Circuit, a powerful court because it reviews most legal challenges over federal regulations. The “Reid Rule” will now be used by the Trump administration to fill his cabinet quickly over the objections and efforts to obstruct by Democrats and, more importantly, to seat a replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Another example of their being hoisted on their own petard was discussed recently by California political analyst Tony Quinn who noted that the federal courts struck down most of Arizona’s efforts to enforce border security. The U.S. Supreme Court noted that, in the area of immigration, federal laws pre-empt conflicting and even complimentary state laws. That throws into doubt any efforts by California and other left-leaning states to enforce any so-called “sanctuary” policies.

confederate-flagBut all this hasn’t stopped California’s top Democratic leadership from posturing (mostly for the cameras) about how they will “stand up” to the federal government to protect “California’s values,” whatever that means. Apparently, Gov. Brown and newly elected legislative leaders have mistaken Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento with Fort Sumter in South Carolina which heard the first shots fired in the Civil War. They need to be reminded that things didn’t work out so well for the Confederacy back then and if, by taking on the federal government, they think they will get a better outcome, they’re probably wrong.

The latest evidence that Democratic leadership has lost its moorings with reality is the hiring of Eric Holder, the disgraced and corrupt former U.S. Attorney General in order to “push back” against both the Trump Administration and the Republican controlled Congress. (Holder advocated for international criminal Mark Rich, and was admittedly running guns to Mexico as part of the “Fast and Furious” scandal).

The hiring of Holder is an insult to all California taxpayers. First, California has a multitude of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. (all at taxpayer expense) to represent the actual interests of the state. Second, the action was clearly a provocation intended to generate a response from Washington. But California should be careful what it wishes for. The Congress of the United States has the power of the purse and California would do well to work collaboratively with those upon whom they rely for billions of federal dollars.

Near the close of the Civil War, President Lincoln gave his famous second inaugural address in which he implored Americans to show “malice toward none, with charity for all.” Let us hope that the petulant, foolish posturing of California’s political leadership receive as much grace from the federal government in the coming years.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

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Clinton Allies Target Comey Over New Email Probe

As reported by Bloomberg Politics:

Hillary Clinton’s allies dramatically escalated attacks on FBI Director James Comey in a bid to stem political damage from his disclosure the agency is reviewing a new batch of files that may be related to an investigation of the former secretary of state’s e-mail practices.

Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, delivered an unusual rebuke to the FBI chief in a letter Sunday that said Comey may have broken the law by revealing the review so close to the election, and suggested the agency is sitting on potentially damaging information about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Reid’s scorching letter — typical of the combative Nevadan’s style — was one of the most confrontational messages being delivered by Clinton supporters, who took to talk shows, newspaper opinion pages and social media to question the propriety of Comey’s disclosure.

Late Sunday, one Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, called for Comey’s resignation. Judiciary is among the congressional committees that oversee the FBI, and Cohen is the top Democrat on a subcommittee with jurisdiction over matters involving ethics in government. …

Click here to read the full story

Chinese Venture Looks to Connect L.A. and Las Vegas Via High-Speed Rail

xpress-west-1 trainFor bemused Californians, there’s another bullet train in town, thanks to the Chinese government.

More specifically, credit — $100 million worth — goes to China Railway International USA, a venture spearheaded by Beijing’s national railroad, China Railway. The consortium has ponied up funds for XpressWest, “the transportation arm of Marnell Companies, a gaming resort development firm,” as the Sacramento Business Journal noted.

Formerly known as DesertXpress, the company has labored to send a high-speed track toward Las Vegas since “at least 2007,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to Chinese officials cited by the Times, passengers would travel “a 230-mile route with an additional stop in Palmdale and eventual service throughout the Los Angeles area using some of the same track that would be used by the publicly backed California high-speed rail project.” Past plans envisioned a run of 185 miles alongside I-15.

The logic behind the idea drew from some straightforward numbers. “About one-quarter of Las Vegas’s 41 million visitors in 2014 came from Southern California, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, many via a several hour highway drive,” Quartz noted. Vegas has been without a passenger train since Amtrak shut down its Desert Wind line in 1997.

Logistical doubts

This  train, which would share track with California’s state-funded high-speed rail, has run into its own version of a problem plaguing that track: reaching Los Angeles proper. “The project has the approval to cover about 190 miles from Las Vegas to the California desert city of Victorville, about 100-mile drive northeast of Los Angeles. It hasn’t broken ground. The project still needs government permission to connect with Southern California’s population centers,” Fox News reported.

“The project currently lacks permission to connect with the state of California’s planned high-speed rail project at a station to be built in Palmdale, 50 miles west of Victorville. A mountain range and about 50 more miles separate Palmdale from downtown Los Angeles.”

Skeptics quickly emerged with unflattering questions about the logistical constraints that could be imposed by the train’s pathway and travel times. “Anybody in L.A. keen to drive to Victorville to pay $89 to take an 80 minute ride to Vegas on a high-speed train?” tweeted Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter.

Adding to the speculation, estimates emerged that the train would require far in excess of the $100 million the Chinese have so far made available. “China’s CRRC Corp’s unit along with its peers from China will implement the rail corridor project at an estimated cost of $5 billion,” the Venture Capital Post noted.

Marshaling support

As yet, American officeholders have remained cagey. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he hadn’t learned any details about the plans. “But in 2009,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “the XpressWest project drew a key supporter: U.S. Sen Harry Reid, D-Nevada. ‘Senator Reid has been a cheerleader on this project for many years,’ Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said Thursday. ‘He’s glad to see this progress and remains committed to assisting as needed.’”

And the Chinese government appears to have a firm interest in seeing the project to completion. Beijing created CRRC with the specific purpose of throwing the country’s considerable industrial weight around in foreign territories. “The merger of China’s two largest state-owned rail equipment makers has created an industry behemoth, second only to General Electric in size, that will be competing aggressively for projects across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America,” Quartz observed. “China, once a major importer of rail technology, wants to be a world leader in high-speed rail, with projects that span the globe, focusing especially on emerging markets.”

But growth in the U.S. has also been marked as a priority. An employee of the conglomerate told Caixin online that the company “views China Railway International USA an important part of its plan to expand abroad.”

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CARTOON: Reid calls it quits

Reid cartoon

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch