GOP Debate Had Multiple Winners…and Losers

Donald Trump not only held his own at the CNN debate in Las Vegas on Dec. 15, he gave a hugely important answer to moderator Hugh Hewitt when he said he would run only as a Republican.  I believe that was one of the most important statements of the night, and made him a debate winner, because Republicans can now put to bed fears of a divisive third party candidacy that might hand Hillary Clinton the election.  Trump’s timing on the statement could not have been better to help himself.

I was sitting in the live audience, and I thought Marco Rubio was the best communicator, and he surely received the most positive responses from the live audience.  Yet television commentators seem to tip the scales in favor of Ted Cruz over Rubio.  I did not see Cruz doing better at the debate than Rubio, but many I talk to feel he did.  I do see a growing interest in him among my conservative friends, many of whom are less open to Rubio’s position on one issue: immigration reform.

Both Kasich and Fiorina seemed annoyed and off-kilter, perhaps because they felt they weren’t getting enough time, and it seemed to show.  Fiorina had a good line calculated to appeal to women voters about “going to a woman to get a job done,” quoting Margaret Thatcher.  But as she has done in previous debates, she interrupted questions and answers repeatedly to draw attention, and at one point drew soft “boos” from the crowd for doing so.  Kasich seemed overly animated at times, using his hands to “karate-chop” points for emphasis.  Carson started with a well-meaning gesture of a very brief moment of silence for the victims of the San Bernardino attack.  It was a “miss” for the organizers of the debate to not do that themselves, on their own time.  However if there was any candidate that “lacked energy,” it was Carson.  He handled tough questions in much too moderate and uninspiring a manner.  These were the candidates that probably did not gain ground at the debate.

Chris Christie once again addressed himself directly to the television audience, and highlighted his experience as a Federal prosecutor during the 9/11 attack in New York.  In a low moment for the debate, Rand Paul attempted to minimize Christie by bringing up “slowing bridge traffic” or words to that effect, in a blunt reference to the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey whereby Christie staffers concocted a bogus traffic-slowing study to get even with a Christie political opponent.  Paul’s line was ignored by Christie, rightly so, who has not been directly implicated in the matter.  Christie had a good night, Paul had his usual night.

Some observers feel Jeb Bush had a good night.  I must say I did not think his referring to Trump as the “chaos candidate” reflected the class that we usually associate with the Bush family, particularly George H.W. Bush, Jeb’s father.  It was a line not in keeping with what you think Jeb’s temperament really is or should be.  I thought Jeb handled questions well on the substance (when he wasn’t attacking Trump), but he had a weak close with two or three vocal cadence trip-ups.  I don’t think he was a loser in the debate, but I do not think he gained ground.  He surely has not slowed down Donald Trump, which was his goal.

I attended both debates: the first “undercard” and then the mainstage debate, and I am grateful to have attended these as a guest of Mike Huckabee’s campaign and my old friend Floyd Brown.  And I felt Huckabee was a winner too, by his solid performance in the first debate.  I also think Lindsay Graham would make a terrific Secretary of Defense, is funny and intelligent, but according to polling probably won’t have much of a campaign going down the line.  Though on the undercard, Huckabee remains the “mature man” in the race, and the “shout out” Donald Trump gave him from the mainstage (along with Rick Santorum) a few hours later was significant.

California Political Review Publisher Jim Lacy before start of CNN Presidential debate, Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, 12/15/15.

California Political Review Publisher Jim Lacy before start of CNN Presidential debate, Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, 12/15/15.

CNN Presidential debate Live Tweets here…

Be sure to follow me on Twitter.com at @JamesVLacy1 to receive my live commentary on the CNN GOP Presidential debates, which I will be attending, in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel on Tuesday, December 15.  Also look for me to post my own analysis of the debate in this column the next day on Wednesday, December 16.  I’ll look forward to your comments on the post too!th

Long Live France

The news of the despicable attacks, the huge loss of life over the weekend, and subsequent shoot-outs between police and radical Islamic extremists in Paris has surely touched all right thinking Americans.  This new battle started by ISIS is a struggle between good and evil, plain and simple.  It is a fight between freedom and the darkest chaos and we support freedom.  And therefore we support France.  Here is an English translation of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, most relevant to the tears we shed today for America’s oldest ally:

Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

Refrain

Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This horde of slaves, traitors, plotting kings,
What do they want?
For whom these vile shackles,
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, oh! what an insult!
What emotions that must excite!
It is us that they dare to consider
Returning to ancient slavery!

What! These foreign troops
Would make laws in our home!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would bring down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brows would bend beneath the yoke!
Vile despots would become
The masters of our fate!

Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Will finally pay the price! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heros,
France will make more,
Ready to battle you!

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
But not these accomplices of Bouillé,
All of these animals who, without pity,
Tear their mother’s breast to pieces!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sacred love of France,
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Fight with your defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags, let victory
Hasten to your manly tones!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

Refrain

We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues. (repeat)
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!

Refrain

Translated by Laura K. Lawless

th

 

My take on GOP Presidential debate, CNBC

Trump did not fade in this debate. From the start he answered the first question about “weakness” honestly and he didn’t lose it when CNBC’s liberal John Harwood baited him twice in the second question on his Reagan-inspired tax plan, and in his closing statement. Rather, Trump rose to the occasions when he was asked tough questions. Carson was definitely not quite as “gifted” in responding to the questions as he may be at neurosurgery, gave some unfocused answers, but rallied well when CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla tried to link him, unfairly, to a business ethics issue, and got better deeper into the debate. Between just Carson and Trump, however, I think Trump won.

Kasich tried to help himself by attacking “fantasy” proposals off-the-bat and showed some real good common sense and passion, but probably didn’t get the traction he was hoping for. Rubio’s answer to missing Senate votes and his response to Jeb Bush was outstanding and his performance overall to tough questions on personal finance and other points were great and close to break out.

If there was a loser, it was Fiorina. She surely gained no ground given the focus on her firing at HP, reminding listeners of a business failure; her ducking a direct question about taxing the Internet with bloviation; and her rudely interrupting all of Rubio, Cruz, Trump and Christie when they were all on a roll, and her repeating the “secretary to CEO” lie for which the Washington Post gave her three Pinocchio’s, were all bad moments for her.

Bush stunk of the GOP establishment and was unconvincing, and might have been as bad a loser as Fiorina as well if he were not so well mannered. I heard him say higher income people should pay more taxes and get fewer benefits at the end of the debate. Unfair! Yet I don’t see any of these or the other candidates dropping out before New Hampshire.

Rubio did just great as did Cruz, and even Christie to a lesser degree; but no one broke out much, and we seem to be moving toward a historic brokered convention where the early primaries will not settle on one candidate, and California’s June primary could actually matter.th

Senate Majority Leader Focused on Protecting Budget Caps, No New Taxes

I had a chance to join in on a half-hour conference call today with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took questions from a group of American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform board members that was organized and moderated by Americans for Tax Reform leader Grover Norquist.  McConnell made his view clear from the start that the Senate is no longer dysfunctional as it was when Democrat Harry Reid was Majority Leader, and that this is an important achievement.  McConnell said that in Reid’s years as Majority Leader, not much got done, and Reid only allowed 15 roll-call votes on amendments, yet this year alone Republicans have allowed 165 roll-call votes on amendments.  In the last five years the Senate under the Democrats didn’t pass one budget.  But this year the Republicans did pass a budget. McConnell said these were important accomplishments even with Obama in the White House.  Though Democrats have been able to filibuster and stall some legislation, McConnell notes that Republicans “got enough Democrats to weigh in on the Iran treaty” in opposition, and that this could encourage a new President to scrap the bad Iran deal entirely, because it is an executive agreement that can be changed by the President, and is not a treaty.

McConnell said the idea that nothing has changed in Washington as a result of the last election is inaccurate.  He said the policy agenda in the Senate is totally different from Harry Reid’s.  What can change further is winning the White House.   More than just stopping Obama’s liberal legislative agenda today, “we really have to win White House,” said McConnell.

The Majority Leader cited debate on the upcoming Budget Control Act as very important.  The Budget Control Act has indeed reduced federal government spending without raising taxes.  But there is pressure to undue the caps from some conservatives who want more military spending and from liberals who “want to increase spending on everything else.”

McConnell said he would not support tax increases, including a proposed tax increase for a highway bill and also on the capital gains tax.  He said, “what we need to do is scrub the whole code.”  But he said that won’t happen with Obama in the White House because “we can’t do comprehensive tax reform since Obama won’t allow a ‘tax neutral’ change” – he wants more tax, and he basically wants to tax job creators more, and not treat all taxpayers the same way.

Asked if he had endorsed a Presidential candidate, McConnell said he has not endorsed anyone.  He said he likes his friend from Kentucky Rand Paul, but he is more focused on holding the Senate and especially the “purple state incumbents,” as in New Hampshire, with a chance for a pick up in the Senate in Nevada, and a chance in Colorado.

The Majority Leader said he opposed new gun control laws, which he sees as not addressing the real problem of the recent rash of violence as at the community college in Oregon.  He said if there is to be new legislation, it should concentrate on the problem, which is mental illness,  as “none of the gun control bills” he has heard about would have any impact at all reducing such crimes.  Rather, focus might be given on the seriously mentally impaired people who commit the crimes.  “Let’s talk about addressing mental illness, keeping people on their medication, getting them help” to try to avert such tragedies.th

Taxifornia 2016: 14 Essays on the Future of California, just released

My new book, “Taxifornia 2016: 14 Essays on the Future of California” has just been released and is now available for purchase at CreateSpace here.  “Taxifornia 2016” is a collection of 14 essays authored by a dozen prominent conservative and libertarian writers on the future of California. Understanding that liberal Democrats and their public employee union allies wield great control on state policy, these writers see California in deep crisis and in need of reform, and tackle the state’s problems in 2016 with an eye toward new solutions that are faithful to the transformational value of limited-government and personal freedom. This book exposes the truth about California’s problems and offers detailed common-sense solutions to fix them.  I am so excited to have it published and to share it with reform minded Californians!

Contributing authors also include Floyd Brown, President of the Western Center for Journalism; Brian Calle, Opinion Editor of the Orange County Register; Joel Fox, former President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Publisher of www.foxandhoundsdaily.com; investigative journalist Katy Grimes, a Senior Correspondent for www.flashreport.org; Chris Reed, who has been an editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 2005; John Hrabe, who publishes www.CalNewsroom.com; Michelle Moons, who writes for Breitbart California; Shawn Dewane, an elected director of the Orange County Water District; Ben Boychuk, associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal; Stephen Frank, editor of California Political News and Views; Jon Fleischman, Publisher of www.flashreport.org; and Thomas A. Fuentes, Jr., an official of the Republican Party of Orange County.Taxifornia_2016_Book_Front_Cover copy

California is not as liberal as you might think

The fact is, California is really not as liberal as the politicians it continues to elect.  According to a little reported March, 2015 poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (“PPIC”), a respected bi-partisan organization, an eye-popping plurality of 35% of Californians consider themselves to be “conservative”, while 34% consider themselves to be “liberal”, and 30% identify themselves as “middle-of-the-road.”

Looked at another way, a huge majority of 65% of Californians identify themselves as center or right!

Respected public opinion polls conducted by organizations like PPIC, USC/Los Angeles Times, and The Field Organization reveal a markedly more politically diverse, moderate and even conservative outlook of the populace than reflected by the cast of characters California routinely now elects to office.  Actual voter sentiment on many issues is in some cases startlingly different from the actions of its elected leaders.  It is these opinions of Californians themselves that give hope for reforming the state.  It is not such an extreme statement to make in saying that just as the personal views of the East German people themselves were not reflected by their own distant and abusive communist government before these citizens tore down the Berlin Wall, it is these voter sentiments in California that serve as the reason for me not giving up on the state, and in urging my conservative and Republican friends to stick around and join the fight!  Voters are actually with us on many issues.

For example, other important findings in the PPIC poll conflict with the policies California’s elected leaders in control seek to impose. While Sacramento politicians still introduce new tax increase measures by the dozen, 62% of voters think the tax burden is already near the top or above average compared to other states; 57% think they are paying more taxes than they should be; 78% think that the state and local tax system should be changed and of that 47% favor major changes; 81% oppose raising the state gasoline tax; and 74% oppose increasing vehicle registration fees.

A Field poll confirms PPIC’s findings, and shows again that 76% of Californian’s think the gasoline tax is too high, while just 4% think the state’s gas taxes are lower than those in other states.

Though voters accepted Governor Jerry Brown’s arguments in November, 2012, to “temporarily” raise taxes to record levels, 56% of Californians today either oppose the taxes or are against making them permanent.

After years of liberals trying to lay the blame on the Proposition 13 tax cut, a recent poll showed 58% of Californians today still support Proposition 13.

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“Taxifornia” author Jim Lacy, Publisher of California Political Review

The contrast today in voter attitudes and the philosophies of the people Californians elect could not be starker than in the case of voter sentiment in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The pipeline is favored by Congressional Republicans, but opposed by environmentalists and President Obama, and both of California’s liberal U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, who voted against it. While the majority of Californians approve of the job Obama, Boxer and Feinstein are doing, 54% favor building the pipeline.  And though Feinstein and Boxer are indeed popular, when voters were asked whether the state would be better off if California’s two U.S. Senators who have served for 22 years continued to run for re-election or if new candidates should become senators, nearly 60% voters said the state would be better off with new candidates, as opposed to 29% who said California would be better off if the long-serving senators continued to run. And 48% of voters said they felt “strongly” that the state would be better off with new candidates, according to the poll.

So take heart my conservative and Republican friends in California.  You are not alone and we have plenty to work with to reform this state!

 

We were hacked!!

Work_in_the_computer_labThe editors at California Political Review were a little perplexed late last week when we had a disruption in our daily email system.  Then on Monday morning we lost our entire site, it just went blank on the Internet.  Sadly, we learned that a computer hacker had somehow managed to secretly sabotage our website, and just shut us down.

California Political Review has become a significant news and opinion content provider.  In the last two years, our site has received over 1 million Page views and our readership grows every day.  We have published over 20,000 reader comments.  Our daily email subscription list stands at 23,000, and we have a robust Facebook page with close to 20,000 fans.  We are very grateful for the loyal support of our readers and regret that our website has been disrupted this week.  Thank you for your support!  Please know we are back now and as ever, absolutely committed to offering the best we can on news and views on California politics!

M. Stanton Evans Memorial at Heritage Foundation – Video

M. Stanton Evans passed away earlier this month at the age of 80.  A graduate of Yale University, Stan was a true giant of the conservative movement, a contemporary of William F. Buckley, having published 10 books, including “The Future of Conservatism” in 1969, which predicted the rise of Ronald Reagan and the emerging success of the Republican Party if it represented conservative principles.  That book greatly influenced my own involvement in politics.  Stan helped define modern conservative political philosophy in his books: we was not a libertarian or tea party person, rather he defined himself always simply as “a conservative,” favoring limited government, lower taxes, less spending, more freedom, and a coherent national defense policy to not contain, but rather to defeat communism, the greatest worldwide threat to political freedom in his era.  He is credited with authoring the “Sharon Statement” of Young Americans for Freedom (“YAF”), was chairman of the American Conservative Union, and founder of the National Journalism Center.

As National Chairman of YAF and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union myself, I came to know Stan well and call him a friend.  I was saddened by his passing but glad I was able to personally attend his memorial service at The Heritage Foundation on March 13.  Stan was known personally not only for his commitment to conservative principles but also for his terrific sense of humor.  Much of his memorial service focused on the retelling not only of touching tales about Stan, and also his humor.

Attached below is a video of his service and I hope you will view it, whether you knew Stan Evans or not, to learn more about this wonderful human being now departed:th

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZV9d0OHwEU&feature=player_embedded&noredirect=1

ABAG claims $1.3 million embezzled

The “Association of Bay Area Governments” or “ABAG” is a nonprofit lobbying group that many Bay Area local governments pay big annual dues to, in order to coordinate their efforts to get more funding from Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  ABAG, based in San Francisco, is not exactly a government agency, rather, it is like a “trade association”, and therefore its operations are far more opaque than those of a real government agency subject to all the public scrutiny laws.  Sometimes the government agency members of ABAG try to lay-off responsibility for some of their functions on this “trade association” for government.  A secret benefit of doing so it that sometimes the activity can occur below the public’s radar screen and more-than-a-little outside the more ready enforcement mechanisms of the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act against ABAG’s members, which are the state’s key public integrity laws.  One such situation occurred when San Francisco politicians and bureaucrats decided to deposit public bond monies meant for parks and other public improvements for ABAG to manage regarding the so-called “South of Market” fund, which also collects payments from developers pursuant to development agreements, in order to use the funds to enhance public facilities in a general effort to offset negative public impacts of a new development.

But the San Francisco Chronicle has reported trouble at ABAG, big trouble.  News reports and a statement by ABAG itself, indicate that Clarke Howatt, who resigned late last week as Director of Financial Services for the nonprofit government advocacy agency, “executed a sophisticated scheme to defraud” ABAG of $1,300,00 of public funds entrusted to the agency for park improvements.  The funds were found missing as a result of an audit of the South of Market Stabilization Fund, which is a pool of public bond funds and developer funds.  Howatt, who is under criminal investigation, has issued a statement that he “will make every attempt to get the funds restored.”  But no one seems to be able to account for them at the moment.  The $1,300,000 million was wired out of a bank account at Howatt’s orders to a different bank account setup in San Diego county to the attention of a person who does not exist.

Thank God for audits!  Let us hope they can find the money!

Reactions to the million dollar government embezzlement have been muted in California.  While the Chronicle has reported the story, other news media outlets have ignored it.  That is a shame, because the story is an example of how government agencies have mismanaged a public bond fund, by pushing authority for the bond funds outside the exclusive responsibility of a responsible and more accountable government agency.  While our Sacramento politicians love to pass laws that make things like serving duck liver and shark fin soup in our state’s restaurants illegal, they really ought to better be spending their time on considering laws about things that are really serious problems, like improving the public’s confidence in how the billions of dollars in public bond funds are managed in the state, and making sure rogue employees in groups like ABAG, let alone ABAG itself, can’t and budget don’t steal our public’s bonds.