Trump’s Political Vulnerabilities Mount

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Stunning new revelations about former President Trump’s fight to overturn the 2020 election have exposed growing political vulnerabilities just as he eyes another presidential bid.

A former White House aide last week described Trump as an unhinged leader with no regard for the safety of elected officials in either party as he clung to power on Jan. 6, 2021. The testimony from the congressional panel investigating the Capitol attack provided a road map for prosecutors to potentially charge Trump with a crime, some legal experts say.

Republican voters — and Trump’s would-be rivals in the 2024 presidential race — took notice.

Here in Iowa, the state expected to host the first presidential nominating contest in roughly 18 months, several voters signaled Thursday that they were open to another presidential candidate even if Trump were to run again. Nationally, some conservative media outlets issued scathing rebukes of the former president, and aides for multiple GOP presidential prospects indicated, publicly and privately, that they felt increasingly emboldened to challenge Trump in 2024 after the explosive new testimony.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, drew roughly 350 conservative activists to a congressional fundraising barbecue on Thursday in Sioux County, where Trump won 82% of the vote in 2020.

There was ample evidence of Trump fatigue. Interviews with a dozen attendees revealed strong interest in a 2024 alternative, even if Trump is on the ballot.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find people in this area who support the idea that people aren’t looking for someone else,” said Dave Van Wyk, a transportation company owner. “To presume that conservative America is 100% behind Donald Trump is simply not the case.”

Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson on Tuesday offered previously unknown details about the extent of Trump’s rage in his final weeks of office, his awareness that some supporters had brought weapons to the city on Jan. 6 and his ambivalence as rioters later laid siege to the Capitol.

Upset at the size of the crowd at his “Stop the Steal” rally — many supporters avoided entering because they were armed and didn’t want to go through metal detectors — Trump said words to the effect of, “I don’t care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” according to Hutchinson. She recalled hearing about a separate incident after the rally in which Trump tried to grab at the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle to go to the Capitol to join his supporters.

That detail has caused some pushback. The agent who was driving the vehicle and another official were reportedly prepared to testify under oath that Trump never lunged for the wheel.

But the renewed concern was evident.

The conservative Washington Examiner’s editorial board said Hutchinson’s testimony “ought to ring the death knell” for Trump’s political career. “Trump is unfit to be anywhere near power ever again.”

The often Trump-friendly New York Post blasted the headline “Tyrant Trump.” And the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Just when it seems as if Donald Trump’s behavior after his 2020 loss couldn’t possibly look worse, a new piece of wild testimony arrives.”

To be sure, conservatives have shared serious concerns about Trump repeatedly in recent years. And in every case, the former president has emerged largely unscathed, sometimes stronger. He has been caught on video bragging about sexual assault; he instigated a violent attack on the Capitol; and he has been impeached twice.

Trump is sitting on campaign funds that exceed $101 million and remains deeply popular with many Republican voters. Lest there be any question, Republican candidates in states including Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia have been battling one another this midterm season for his support.

“The American people remain hungry for his leadership,” Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich said, citing Trump’s strong endorsement record and fundraising success. “And as another witch hunt is blowing up in the faces of Democrats, President Trump is in a stronger position now than at any time before.”

But even before last week’s revelations, a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48% of U.S. adults say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Views on Trump’s criminal liability break down predictably along party lines, with 86% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans saying Trump should be charged. Still, the fact that nearly half the country believes he should be prosecuted is a remarkable position for the former president, pointing to the difficulties he could face if he makes another run at the White House.

Trump reported raising nearly $9 million in March and April combined. Figures for May and June were not yet available, but aides to the former president say his fundraising has remained strong.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, eyeing a presidential bid in 2024, says he was hearing concerns about Trump from donors and voters alike before last week’s testimony, which adds to the “cumulative weight” of the former president’s political shortcomings.

“People are concerned that we could lose the election in ’24 and want to make sure that we don’t nominate someone who would be seriously flawed,” Christie said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is also considering a 2024 run, said he considers Trump beatable in a GOP primary even if Republican voters aren’t paying close attention to the congressional hearings, as he suspects.

“His approval among Republican primary voters has already been somewhat diminished,” Hogan said. “Trump was the least popular president in American history until Joe Biden.”

Aides for other Republican presidential prospects said privately that Trump may still be the overwhelming favorite to win the next GOP presidential nomination, but they believe his standing with Republican voters has been in steady decline. There was a broad sense — or at least a hope — that Hutchinson’s testimony would accelerate that decline among voters and donors in a way that would open opportunities for others.

Marc Short, a senior advisor to former Vice President Mike Pence, another likely 2024 presidential contender, was blunt when asked about Trump’s political strength.

“Republican activists believed Donald Trump was the only candidate who could beat Hillary,” Short said. “Now the dynamic is reversed. He is the only one who has lost to Joe Biden.”

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves on the Jan. 6 commission and has not ruled out a 2024 presidential bid, cast Trump as a direct threat to American democracy in a Wednesday night speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. We must choose,” she said.

Haley, who has said she would not seek the 2024 GOP nomination if Trump ran, declined to say Thursday whether the testimony has given her reason to rethink that plan.

Instead, she sounded an upbeat note.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Newsom Runs a TV ad — In Florida

Gov. Gavin Newsom is launching his first television ad of the general election on Monday, but not in California. The ad will air thousands of miles away, in Florida, further fueling speculation that he wants to run for president — or, at a minimum, to troll the state’s Republican leaders.

In the ad, Newsom contrasts the policies in California and Florida while images flash of former President Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis, potential 2024 presidential candidates.

“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom says in the 30-second spot. “I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.”

Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign is spending about $105,000 to air the ad on Fox News stations around the state, according to AdImpact, a firm that tracks political advertisements.

The size of the buy is a pittance for the governor, whose reelection campaign had more than $23 million as of May 21, according to the latest filings with the California secretary of state’s office. Newsom is heavily favored in the fall election over his conservative Republican challenger, state Sen. Brian Dahle.

The move, which was rolled out on CNN on Sunday, appears designed to draw national media attention. After Newsom tweeted the ad and the media began running stories, it had been viewed 1.4 million times on Twitter and 90,000 times on YouTube as of Sunday evening.

Newsom, 54, has denied that he wants to run for president, but many political experts are skeptical, particularly considering the speculation about President Biden’s plans to seek reelection.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Does the 4th Mean Party Time, or Time for an Intervention?

In ordinary times, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.

Free from religious dogma and familial obligations, America’s birthday usually means sunshine, a parade, baseball, a barbecue, maybe the beach, and finally, pyrotechnics.

Somewhere in the mix, I try to read the Declaration of Independence aloud if possible, or listen as someone else reads it.

And I’ll always say my own silent prayer of thanks that I was born here and nowhere else.

These are not ordinary times.

This year, the Fourth of July seems less like party time and more like time for an intervention.

America’s birthday comes while everyone is mad at our country.

I don’t mean mullahs somewhere over there, or Putin, or people like that. We don’t need foreigners hating on us; we’re mad enough at ourselves.

The left believes America has followed Donald Trump off a cliff of craziness antithetical to democracy and the rule of law, while the right believes the left (with their media co-conspirators) has subverted America’s core values to destroy us from within.

It’s hard to celebrate a birthday when you’re mad at the guest of honor.

These past few weeks have been, to say the least, ugly. Between mass shootings, Supreme Court rulings, seriously disturbing Jan. 6 testimony, a truckload of dead migrants and continued out-of-control inflation with no end in sight, the Fourth of July has arrived not as a respite from our troubles but as a begrudged obligation. With gas at seven bucks a gallon and the air grid bordering on chaos, running away isn’t even an option. Yet, if we have any hope of pushing through this ugly epoch, we’re going to have to find some common ground, right?

For most of our history, the Fourth of July and the American flag were givens, two symbols everyone could rally around. On the Fourth, these two symbols go together like hotdogs and mustard.

Ol’ John Adams famously said, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epocha, in the History of America … it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parades from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Of course, he got the date wrong, July 2nd, rather than July 4th, because he wrote this in his diary after the Continental Congress voted to declare our independence, two days before the Declaration was published. Still, with the exception of the rebellious states during the Civil War, the Fourth has been celebrated as a secular holy day, with left and right agreeing for that one day to put aside what divides us to focus instead on all that unites us.

Today, we don’t even agree on the fireworks: they’re too dangerous in a drought and too upsetting for Snowball and Mr. Whiskers.

For many millions, the American flag is now seen as a partisan symbol, specifically a conservative/Republican expression of patriotism they don’t share. A friend recently told me, “I don’t fly the flag because I don’t want people to think I voted for Trump.”

The American flag flies at our house every day. This makes us unique on our block, and possibly suspicious to our neighbors and UPS drivers. When I installed our flagpole 20-plus years ago, it never occurred to me that flying our nation’s flag would be controversial — maybe in Tehran, but not in the west San Fernando Valley — but today it is.

How did this happen?

In the turbulent ‘60s, the right weaponized patriotism, declaring, “These colors don’t run!.” “America, love it or leave it” and “My country right or wrong.” Rather than fight for their rightful piece of American heritage, many on the left abandoned the flag and the Fourth and other traditional symbols of national identity thereby making them partisan by default.

If the Stars and Stripes are to remain the symbol of “We the People,” We the People have to embrace it, not just some of the people.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

‘Operation Just Reward’: A Tale for the Ages

Something’s afoot in Washington that dovetails almost eerily well with the invigorating cultural moment we have found ourselves in once again courtesy of Tom Cruise and the makers of the “Top Gun” film franchise.

As we drive irresponsibly on the way home from movie theaters, calculating whether or not we are too old to actually join the Navy and fixate anew on the folklore that has always surrounded our nation’s most elite military aviators, a great, bipartisan thing is shaping up in Congress (believe it or not!). Something which will hopefully culminate in an even greater thing happening very soon in a White House ceremony.


In the midst of a determined campaign by retired military officials of all stripes dubbed “Operation Just Reward” that’s had its ups and downs mostly due to bureaucratic nonsense, Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, has grabbed the reins, built an impressive bipartisan coalition of fellow lawmakers, and introduced H.R. 5909 to fast-track the effort to authorize the president to give one of the greatest combat pilots the world has known, retired 97-year-old Capt. E. Royce Williams, just that in the form of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The tale of Capt. Williams’ real-life heroics and the reason why it has taken so long to secure for him the United States government’s highest and most prestigious military decoration could fit right in with the “Top Gun” franchise, should Mr. Cruise and company feel the urge to have another go. His story is long, intense and perhaps more fantastical than even the best Hollywood screenwriters could conjure.

As an aside, the very first commanding officer of the Navy’s advanced fighter tactics program that came to be called TOPGUN, retired Rear Adm. Roger Box, simply referred to him in an email exchange as “the most remarkable fighter pilot alive.” From what I can tell that sentiment seems very much to be shared in most relevant quarters. 

Here’s the gist: 70 years ago this Nov. 18, one of the greatest and certainly the hardest-won dogfighting triumphs in military aviation history took place in international waters off the Korean coast. On that day, 27-year-old Williams found himself suddenly alone in the sky in his F9F-5 Panther, staring down seven superior Russian MiG-15s who had come to eat his lunch and move on to sink his nearby carrier, the USS Oriskany.

By any clear-headed calculation, lunch-eating is exactly what should have happened at that moment. Except it didn’t. What did ensue was a fierce 35-minute dogfight (note that most last mere seconds, and in exceptional cases have lasted up to five minutes) which ended with Williams safely back on the deck of the now-safe Oriskany after a dicey landing, 263 bullet holes and a 37-millimeter shell gash in his crippled Panther. 

It didn’t end quite as well for at least for six of the seven MiGs that set out to dispatch the outgunned American, as only one of them returned to base. 

Though one of the most extraordinary feats in the history of military aviation had just happened, there was no celebration and no dramatic recounting from Capt. Williams to his shipmates. Quite the contrary. A frank conversation and handshake with his admiral was intended to be the last time the mission would be spoken of.

Turns out the circumstances and detail surrounding the dogfight, which ended so badly for the Soviets, contained a level of sensitivity that necessitated immediate top-secret classification. No one outside of a very small cadre of individuals knew a whiff of it for over 50 years until the Soviet Union fell and it was reported out of their archives. One of those in the loop, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was president-elect of the United States at the time. Eisenhower summoned Capt. Williams for a visit and a drink during a dramatic pre-inaugural fact-finding visit to Seoul because he wanted to meet the young aviator. Yet even in that rarified setting, the mission was not discussed.

When the U.S. government finally declassified it all in December of 2017, no one was more surprised than Capt. Williams’ wife and his brother — a fellow elite military aviator with whom he shared a long-running friendly pilots’ rivalry.

Capt. Williams had gone half a century without breaking his promise to his admiral. Half a century keeping secret something that could bring him immediate fame, fortune and a place among the greatest aviators in history. As 146 of his fellow Korean War heroes were honored and celebrated with well-deserved Medals of Honor, he was content with his Silver Star, knowing full well that an upgrade was out of the question for national security reasons.

But as Mr. Issa says, “America owes Williams a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid, and we won’t stop fighting until he is at least given the proper recognition he has not sought but richly deserves.”

Thanks to Mr. Issa’s laudable efforts to force the issue (remember, Capt. Williams is 97 and we don’t have all the time in the world here) and thanks to the longtime determination of his “Operation Just Reward” comrades plus the endorsements of over 100 retired general officers and admirals, The American Legion, Distinguished Flying Cross Society, Special Operations Association of America and others, the most deserved and overdue military honors upgrade of all time may well be imminent. 

Click here to read read the full article in the Washington Times

Supreme Court Deals Blow to U.S. Climate Agenda with EPA Decision

California Gov. Newsom defiantly vows to double down on California’s climate change policies

The Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set standards on climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants.

The court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA says that government doesn’t have the power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

While many in the U.S. are celebrating the decision curtailing unelected bureaucrats from making energy policy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a defiant press statement:

“The Supreme Court sided with the fossil fuel industry, kneecapping the federal government’s basic ability to tackle climate change. Today’s ruling makes it even more imperative that California and other states succeed in our efforts to combat the climate crisis. While the court has once again turned back the clock, California refuses to go backward – we’re just getting started. California will remain the tentpole for this movement with record investments and aggressive policies to reduce pollution, to protect people from extreme weather, and to leave our children and grandchildren a world that’s better off than we found it.”

Gov. Newsom, who is making moves for a possible Presidential bid in 2024, doubled down on California’s government-led “forward-thinking climate policies,” claiming full credit.

“Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, California is taking bold action to further advance California’s progress toward an oil-free future and bolster the state’s clean energy economy.”

Nearly every poll taken on American voters’ concerns and priorities shows climate change at the bottom of the list next to abortion. Yet Democrat politicians continue to push their agenda.

The Supreme Court decision summary explains the issue which stems from Obama administration era EPA rules:

“In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated the Clean Power Plan rule, which addressed carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants. For authority, the Agency cited Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which, although known as the New Source Performance Standards program, also authorizes regulation of certain pollutants from existing sources under Section 111(d). 42 U. S. C. §7411(d). Prior to the Clean Power Plan, EPA had used Section 111(d) only a handful of times since its enactment in 1970.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

San Francisco Defends Right of Non-Citizens to Vote in School Board Elections

San Francisco is defending the right of non-citizens to vote in school board elections.

In a brief filed Friday, the City Attorney’s Office swung back at a legal challenge by a Republican operative that aims to revoke the right of non-citizens to vote in San Francisco Unified School District elections. 

The motion comes in response to a lawsuit filed three-and-a-half months ago in San Francisco Superior Court by James V. Lacy—an Orange County lawyer, right-wing pundit and author of conservative books such as Taxifornia—alleging that non-citizen voting is unlawful and should be banned.

Fellow plaintiff Michael Denny, a San Francisco resident, said non-citizens participating in local elections unlawfully dilutes the votes of citizens.

In his response Friday, City Attorney David Chiu countered that while California’s constitution guarantees voting rights to citizens over the age of 18, it does not prohibit cities from extending the electorate to additional residents in local elections. 

Even if the court found a conflict between the city’s charter and state law, Chiu argued that San Francisco’s “home rule authority” would prevail.

Chiu noted in his filing that non-citizens were allowed to vote for the first 150 years of United States history.  

“While women and racial minorities who were citizens were deprived of voting rights, non-citizens who were white male property owners could vote in state and local elections well into the 20th century,” he wrote in the brief. “Non-citizen voting in 40 states and U.S. territories was curtailed only after an influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants and World War I provoked xenophobia and nativism in this country.”

In 2016, San Francisco voters passed Proposition N, allowing non-citizens—including permanent residents, visas holders, refugees and undocumented immigrants—to cast ballots in school board races. Five years later, in 2021, the city made non-citizen voting in school elections a permanent right for parents or guardians with at least one child under 19 years old.

San Francisco’s response brief to Lacy v. City of San Francisco

Chinese for Affirmative Action—a group that advocates for multiracial democracy—told The Standard the Lacy lawsuit coincides with a national Republican effort to engage in voter suppression and prevent  immigrant voters from having their voices heard.

The nonprofit advocacy group pointed out that more than 500 bills have been introduced since the 2020 elections to effectively disenfranchise people by, among other things, requiring photo identification and purging voter rolls.

If the litigation against San Francisco’s non-citizen voting law succeeds, Chinese for Affirmative Action says it would discourage some immigrant voters from weighing in on issues that affect their children. 

“By extending the right to vote to non-citizens, San Francisco has led the way in expanding access to democracy and promoting immigrant inclusion,” Chinese for Affirmative Action Immigrant Rights Coordinator Olivia Zheng said. “In the face of attacks on voting rights across the country, it is crucial to continue defending the right for immigrants to fully participate in and shape their communities.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, 105,000 of San Francisco’s 870,000 residents are non-citizens.

Proponents of non-citizen voting rights say it gives people with roots in their community a chance to have a say in local governance. 

Immigrant parent and San Francisco resident Hwaji Shin said it brought her to tears when she voted for the first time in the U.S. in 2018.

Click here to read the full article in the San Francisco Standard

Calif. Attorney General Leaks Names and Addresses of State’s Legal Gun Owners Following SCOTUS Gun Ruling

‘Vindictive sore loser bureaucrats have endangered people’s lives and invited conflict by illegally releasing confidential private information’

Last week the Supreme Court issued a decision striking down a New York gun law that puts unconstitutional restrictions on concealed carry of a gun out in public, as the Globe reported.

Less than one week later, it appears the California Attorney General leaked the state database of names and addresses of the state’s legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders.

How could this happen – is it accidental or deliberate? California gun owners cheered the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirming that state officials cannot require concealed carry applicants to show “proper cause” and “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.”

The Reload reports:

“The California Department of Justice’s 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal went live on Monday with publicly-accessible files that include identifying information for those who have concealed carry permits. The leaked information includes the person’s full name, race, home address, date of birth, and date their permit was issued. The data also shows the type of permit issued, indicating if the permit holder is a member of law enforcement or a judge.”

The AG’s Firearms Dashboard Portal is currently down:

The Reload reported they reviewed a copy of the Lost Angeles County database and found 244 judge permits listed in the database including the home addresses, full names, and dates of birth for all of them. “The same was true for seven custodial officers, 63 people with a place of employment permit, and 420 reserve officers.”

Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 171 into law, which allows the state to share personal information of gun owners with gun violence research organizations.

Bill analysis of AB 171 specifies “the DOJ may at its discretion, also disclose specified information, to other nonprofit bona fide research institutions that are accredited by the United State Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for the study of violence prevention in the matter prescribed. Requires that any material identifying individuals to only be used for research and statistical purposes and prohibits reports or publications derived from the material from identifying any specific individuals. Requires DOJ to establish procedures for these requests and allows researchers to be charged reasonable fees related to their requests.”

The Reload reported that the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed private information had been exposed and said they are examining the situation.

“We are investigating an exposure of individuals’ personal information connected to the DOJ Firearms Dashboard,” a spokesperson for the office told The Reload. “Any unauthorized release of personal information is unacceptable. We are working swiftly to address this situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible.”

The Reload published a statement from the California Rifle & Pistol Association, which they say “slammed the leak and said it was looking into potential legal action against the state.”

“Vindictive sore loser bureaucrats have endangered people’s lives and invited conflict by illegally releasing confidential private information,” Chuck Michel, CRPA President, told The Reload. “CRPA is working with several legislators and sheriffs to determine the extent of the damage caused by DOJ’s doxing of law abiding gun owners. Litigation is likely.”

Attorney General Bonta announced the new and updated firearms data available through the California Department of Justice (DOJ)’s 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal in a press release Monday:

“Transparency is key to increasing public trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve. As news of tragic mass shootings continue to dominate the news cycle, leaving many with feelings of fear and uncertainty, we must do everything we can to prevent gun violence. One of my continued priorities is to better provide information needed to help advance efforts that strengthen California’s commonsense gun laws. Today’s announcement puts power and information into the hands of our communities by helping them better understand the role and potential dangers of firearms within our state.”

“Instead, the leaked private information of gun owners is likely to increase the risk criminals will target their homes for burglaries–something the state’s dashboard reports happened 145,377 times in 2020 alone,” the Reload reported.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Latest ‘racist’ Smear Against Prop.13

Here we go again. Another “study” purporting to reveal how unfair Proposition 13 is. But this time, the tax-hikers are using the progressives’ favorite catch-all justification: inequity and racism. Prop. 13 has been under constant assault for 42 years by people who want to raise property taxes without limitation. Like all their other arguments, this one won’t stick either.

First, let’s review a few of the many complaints leveled against Prop. 13 over the last few decades. An early one was the “nosy neighbor” argument, complaining that some new homebuyers pay more in property taxes than their neighbors. Of course, exactly like their neighbors, new buyers’ taxes are based on the price they paid for the property, and increases are capped after that.

Next there was the false charge that “Prop. 13 starves education.” Then there was bitterness that Snow White didn’t pay enough in taxes on her Disneyland castle. Now the theme is Social Justice and the Fight Against Racism.

The 47-page report from the Opportunity Institute and Pivot Learning, titled “Unjust Legacy,” wrongly asserts that Proposition 13 has contributed to inequities in schools and communities. Contrary to the authors’ contention that Proposition 13 is unfair to minorities, the nation’s highest court concluded just the opposite. In Nordlinger v. Hahn, the United States Supreme Court expressly stated that California can “legitimately … decide to structure its tax system to discourage rapid turnover in ownership of homes and businesses, for example, in order to inhibit displacement of lower income families by the forces of gentrification.”

Ironically, at the same time the “Unjust Legacy” report was being released in California, the Washington Post carried a story out of Texas with the headline “Modern ‘redlining’ is pushing some Texans out of their homes.” The Post relates the sad situation of Rebecca Flores, a 79-year-old woman in San Antonio who wants to keep her home in the family. But “she and many of her mostly Mexican American neighbors say they are being priced out of their homes due to skyrocketing property taxes and a hot housing market that has developers pressuring them to sell in the rapidly gentrifying city.”

The Post notes that rising home values, and the rising property taxes that follow, threaten to displace the longtime residents who helped give San Antonio its distinctive culture and character. “It’s a crisis facing cities across America,” the paper reports, “where housing is in short supply, affordable housing is even scarcer, and investors are sweeping into high-demand markets with big cash offers that are pricing many Americans out of the market altogether.”

Flores, the 79-year-old grandmother, is at her wits’ end. “This is how the fiber of a community is frayed,” she said. “Investors come and take over. It’s just like 1836, people with money came and changed laws, got the land and the power and they threw all the Mexicans out. Here we are in 2022, and they are doing the same thing all over again.”

The so-called “Unjust Legacy” report concludes that scholars and others “should collectively determine what it will take to overcome political and taxpayer resistance to changing Proposition 13.” This is a thoughtless assault on California property owners, who do not pay property tax bills “collectively.” They pay property taxes for the property they own, based on the price they paid, with an annual inflation adjustment that cannot exceed 2%.

Click here to read the full article in the Daily Breeze

Newsom Has a Plan to Keep the Lights On in California — Using Fossil Fuels

A controversial plan from Gov. Gavin Newsom would reshape how business is done on the California power grid, potentially helping to extend the life of beachfront gas plants and the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, making it easier for solar and wind farm developers to sidestep local government opposition, and limiting environmental reviews for all kinds of energy projects.

State lawmakers could vote as early as Wednesday night on the polarizing legislation, whose text was revealed late Sunday.

The bill would give the Department of Water Resources unprecedented authority to build or buy energy from any facility that can help keep the lights on during the next few summers — including polluting diesel generators and four gas-fired power plants along the Southern California coast that were originally supposed to close in 2020 but were rescued by state officials.

Those decisions would be exempt from the normal public input process under the California Environmental Quality Act — and from approval by agencies such as the California Coastal Commission and local air quality management districts.

A separate provision would allow companies building solar farms, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries — as well as electric lines to connect those facilities to the grid — to opt in to an accelerated approval process that doesn’t require sign-off from county governments. State officials would be required to conduct environmental reviews and approve or deny those projects within nine months. Legal challenges to any project approvals would need to be resolved by state courts within another nine months.

The legislation is technically a follow-up to the state budget approved by lawmakers earlier this month. It’s part of the Newsom administration’s frenetic effort to address twin challenges: the risk of blackouts and the growing dangers of the climate crisis.

It’s been almost two years since brief rolling blackouts roiled the state on two brutally hot August evenings when there wasn’t enough electricity supply to power millions of air conditioners after the sun went down and solar panels stopped generating.

Electric utilities have managed to keep the lights on since then — barely. But preventing outages is only getting harder as fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, extreme drought drains hydropower reservoirs and worsening wildfires disrupt power lines.

Newsom responded last month by asking lawmakers to approve a $5.2-billion “strategic electricity reliability reserve” that would pay for emergency power supplies over the next few years. But he surprised many observers with Sunday’s proposal to let the Department of Water Resources secure those supplies through a special review process at the California Energy Commission, which critics say could limit opportunities for public input and lead to more pollution in low-income communities of color.

The strategic reserve “is an insurance policy that will only be used when we face potential shortfall during extreme climate-change driven events (e.g. heatwaves, wildfire disruptions to transmission),” the Newsom administration says in a bill summary.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California Takes Aim at Supreme Court’s Concealed Gun Ruling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Days after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed more people to carry concealed weapons, California lawmakers on Tuesday moved to limit where firearms may be carried and who can have them, while struggling to stay within the high court’s ruling.

They aim to restrict concealed carry to those 21 and older; require applicants to disclose all prior arrests, criminal convictions and restraining or protective orders; require in-person interviews with the applicant and at least three character references; and allow sheriffs and police chiefs to consider applicants’ public statements as they weigh if the individual is dangerous.

“We’re going to push the envelope, but we’re going to do it in a constitutional way,” said Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino.

It’s the latest example of California, where Democrats hold sway, pushing back against recent decisions by conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices. On Monday, lawmakers advanced a gun control measure modeled after a recent high court ruling in a Texas abortion case, and adopted a ballot measure that would enshrine a right to abortion in the California Constitution.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a New York law requiring that people seeking a license to carry a gun in public demonstrate a particular need, such as a direct threat to their safety. California is among a half-dozen states with a similar requirement, and Attorney General Rob Bonta said the ruling renders that portion of California’s law immediately unconstitutional.

But lawmakers won’t act on the replacement legislation until August, after they return from a monthlong summer recess and make further amendments. And even then they won’t seek to impose the new standards immediately, which would require a two-thirds vote, instead waiting to have the legislation take effect in January.

New York, meanwhile, plans a special session of its legislature Thursday to consider gun legislation that could also impose new requirements for a carry permit, perhaps as many as 20 hours of mandatory live-fire training, along with a substantial list of areas where carrying is prohibited.

The California legislation was advanced Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 5-2 vote over the objections of gun owners rights advocates who said it goes too far and predicted that it, too, would be ruled unconstitutional.

“This amendment is not improving California’s concealed carry laws — it’s in defiance of this court opinion,” said Daniel Reid, the National Rifle Association’s Western regional director. “We’re seeing a complete redrafting of places where law-abiding citizens can carry in the state of California. It’s an incredibly confusing patchwork.”

He said lawmakers are using a “shell game” to substitute new rules for the one outlawed by the Supreme Court.

The proposed legislation would bar concealed weapons from schools and universities, government and judicial buildings, medical facilities, public transportation, any place where alcohol is sold and consumed, public parks and playgrounds, and special events that require a permit.

No other state uses those kind of restrictions, said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California.

“This bill will never become law,” he said.

The proposal would allow anyone whose application is denied to receive a hearing before a Superior Court judge.

Applicants would be required to provide fingerprints each time they apply for a permit, regardless of whether they have previously submitted their fingerprints to the state Department of Justice, which opponents called redundant and designed to drive up the cost and bureaucracy of obtaining a license.

It also would require the applicant to be the licensed owner of the specific firearm for which they seek a license, which opponents said would make it more difficult for spouses to be licensed for weapons they jointly own, potentially putting them in legal jeopardy.

Bonta said the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t undermine other requirements of California’s law, including that those seeking to carry concealed weapons demonstrate “good moral character.”

Sheriffs and police chiefs are required to perform background checks before issuing permits. The applicant must have training in carrying a concealed weapon, must live or work in the city or county where they are seeking the permit, and the sheriff or police chief may require psychological testing.

California officials issued about 40,000 permits last year, down from more than 100,000 during the peak year of 2016, according to information newly posted on the state Department of Justice’s website.

Click here to read the full article at AP News