Interviewing the Host of the Channel That Never Happened

Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. With nothing they came and with nothing they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumor. They never happened. – Amon Goeth, Schindler’s List, 1994

Invoking the holocaust as analogous to cancel culture is a tasteless stretch. Or is it? We hear the analogy every day applied to climate skeptics, who are stigmatized as “deniers.” And when it comes to online censorship, Amon Goeth’s quote from Spielberg’s masterpiece is too evocative to ignore. Because when someone is cancelled online, they don’t just lose their ability to publish new material. Their entire body of work, their history, their audience, their past, present and future, is wiped out. They never happened.

On October 18, 2018, the YouTube channel Red Ice TV was erased. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Red Ice TV is a white nationalist hate site, promoting racist views. At the time of “cancellation,” Red Ice TV had 334,000 subscribers and its videos had been viewed nearly 50 million times.

Today, Red Ice TV is just the latest YouTube channel that never happened. The online megaphone that can reach the world instantly and […] Read More

The Boondoggle Archipelago

Across California, there is a growing string of islands, exquisite gems in the urban ocean. Dredged from the pockets of taxpayers, constructed by elite artisans, these pristine islands have been created at stupefying expense. But their beauty is seductive. Spend more!

Each time an island is completed, or even proposed, glowing reports are logged across the land. So fortunate are those who shall live on these islands! So wonderful are those who shall build these islands, and care for their inhabitants! What a magnificent, marvelous thing we have done!

Or have we? From deep within the ocean a seismic wave is building, triggered by reality and propelled by common sense. Because these islands, more properly referred to as homeless shelters, supportive housing, and “low income housing,” are far too small, and far too precious, to ever, ever accommodate every castaway that needs a roof over their heads. They will never offer the required land mass to solve the problem. Instead, history shall know them as California’s Boondoggle Archipelago.

The builders of the Boondoggle Archipelago hide behind laws they won’t try to change, and behind court rulings they won’t challenge, and happily follow the rules. Happily, because the rules are rigged to ensure that the vast majority of California’s homeless and low-income families shall remain forever adrift, and so long as there are castaways, there’s money for the builders.

A short cruise across the urban ocean from north to south, visiting various typical islands in California’s Boondoggle Archipelago, should offer ample […] Read More

The Seven Deadly Sins of California’s Political Establishment

To be fair, California’s politicians aren’t alone in their quest to destroy America’s rights, freedoms, prosperity, culture, traditions, and pride. They’re just more advanced in their quest. But since what happens in California often ends up happening later in the rest of America, it’s important to highlight just how bad it’s gotten in the Golden State.

Just as a theologian might argue there are more than seven deadly sins that are fatal to spiritual progress, there are more than seven policy areas where California’s political leadership have fatally undermined the aspirations of ordinary Californians. But in the interests of brevity and clarity, here are what might be the most damning seven deadly sins of California’s political establishment.

Law and Order – Californians have prided themselves on being trendsetters in human rights, but the pendulum has swung too far. Thanks to Prop. 47, the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative” approved by California’s voters in 2014, it is nearly impossible to arrest and hold anyone for possession of hard drugs, so long as they claim the drugs are for personal use. Prop. 47 also downgraded the punishment for property crimes if the value of the stolen goods are under $950 per offense.

The consequence of these laws are public drug use and rampant theft to support these drug habits. Other ridiculous laws include AB 953, the “Racial and Identity Profiling Act” (2015), that requires police to fill out an extensive questionnaire after every encounter with a member of the […] Read More

The Cost to Taxpayers of Enhancing Sonoma County Employee Pensions

In the early 2000s, along with many other cities, state agencies, and counties in California, Sonoma County enhanced their employee pension benefits.

As of 6/30/2018, Sonoma County’s pension system had $2.7 billion of invested assets, but nearly $3.1 billion in actuarial accrued liabilities. To what extent is its $400 million unfunded liability attributable to the pension benefit enhancements? Put another way, how much have these enhancements cost Sonoma County’s taxpayers?

Just as it is impossible to know with perfect accuracy the amount of a pension fund’s actuarial accrued liability, it is impossible to precisely calculate the cost to taxpayers of Sonoma County’s pension benefit enhancements. There is enough data available in the financial statements provided by Sonoma County’s pension fund, however, to provide credible estimates.

To improve the credibility of these estimates, the assumptions made herein are designed to understate the costs. For example, the impact of the increased cost is not assessed until the year the enhancements were fully implemented. In the case of general Sonoma County employees, that was 2005, and in the case of public safety employees of Sonoma County, that was 2006.

Sonoma County’s original pension benefits were based on the typical annual percentage accrual, multiplied by years worked, with the total percentage multiplied by the final pension eligible salary to calculate the retirement pension. For example, up until 2005, Sonoma County’s general (non-safety) workers would accrue their pension benefit at a rate of 2 percent per year. An employee who worked 30 years would have […] Read More

Saving California From Wildfires Requires Cooperation With Trump

President Trump recently tweeted “The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” Newsom tweeted back, “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

October 29th, former Governor Jerry Brown addressed the U.S. Congress, saying “California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all. The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up, because this is not politics, this is life, this is morality. You’ve got to get with it – or get out of the way.”

Despite that California’s current and former governors are both ardent members of the catastrophe chorus, climate change has almost nothing to do with California’s recent wildfires. These fires are the result of a century of successful fire suppression, combined with a failure to remove all the undergrowth that results when natural fires aren’t allowed to burn. Not only does excessive undergrowth create fuel for catastrophic super fires, but these excessive trees and shrubs compete with mature trees. This is the real reason why our forests are not only tinderboxes, but also filled with dying trees.

Forest professionals who were consulted for this article were in agreement that despite the antagonistic rhetoric, and notwithstanding the misplaced “climate crisis” scapegoating and fearmongering, state officials are working with federal agencies on practical solutions. But it isn’t easy to reverse a century of forest mismanagement overnight.

While a consensus […] Read More

Long-Term Solutions for California Wildfire Prevention

Nobody knew how the fire started. It took hold in the dry chaparral and grasslands and quickly spread up the sides of the canyon. Propelled by winds gusting over 40 miles per hour and extremely dry air (humidity below 25 percent), the fire spread over the ridge and into the town below. Overwhelmed firefighters could not contain the blaze as it swept through the streets, immolating homes by the hundreds. Even brick homes with slate roofs were not spared. Before it finally was brought under control, 640 structures including 584 homes had been reduced to ashes. Over 4,000 people were left homeless.

Does this sound like the “new normal?” Maybe so, but this description is of the Berkeley fire of 1923. In its time, with barely 4 million people living in California, the Berkeley fire was a catastrophe on par with the fires we see today.

When evaluating what happened in nearly a century since this fire, two stories emerge. The story coming from California’s politicians emphasizes climate change. From former Governor Jerry Brown: “In less than five years, even the worst skeptics will be believers.” From current Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking on the threat of wildfires in the state: “If anyone is wondering if climate change is real, come to California.”

The other story, which comes from professional foresters, emphasizes how different forest management practices might have made many of the recent fires far less severe, if not avoided entirely. Specifically, California’s misguided forest management practices […] Read More

How Trump Can Declare War on the Homeless Industrial Complex

California’s homeless crisis is now visible to everyone living in the state. Along with tens of thousands of homeless who are concentrated in various districts of the major cities, additional thousands are widely dispersed. If you drive into most major urban centers, you will see their tent encampments along freeway junctions, under bridges, along frontages, beside drainage culverts. Even in very small towns, they congregate by the dozens in parks and parking lots, along the streets and in the alleys. In California’s largest cities, by the tens of thousands, they erect makeshift housing along sidewalks, using tarpaulins draped over shopping carts, tents, boxes. It is completely out of control. Billions have been spent to ameliorate the situation, and these billions have only served to make the situation worse than ever.

It’s hard to identify ground zero for California’s homeless crisis. But the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County host, between them, well over 100,000 of California’s estimated 130,000 homeless. And in both of those metros, local government policies have utterly failed. This failure is partly because local elected officials are hampered by state laws which make it nearly impossible to incarcerate petty thieves and drug addicts, or institutionalize the mentally ill, and court rulings that prohibit breaking up homeless encampments unless these homeless can be provided free and permanent “supportive housing.”

The state and federal governments have even mandated that providing “housing first,” and getting every homeless person under a roof prior to any allocations of funds […] Read More

How Federal Intervention Can Ease California’s Homeless Crisis

On October 24, Curbed LA reported that the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to provide an additional $24 million in homeless housing bonds to “repurpose a building (207) on the Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles for housing for veterans.” According to the article, the rehabilitated building would provide 59 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and chronically homeless senior Veterans.”

According to Ryan Thompson, writing for VeniceUpdate.com, the developer’s budget for this rehab project is $54.6 million, which equates to a per unit cost of $926,000. In his write-up, Thompson not only questions the astronomical per unit price tag, but the entire process whereby these contracts were awarded and how the designated developers were selected. It warrants close reading.

Spending up to one million dollars per unit to not even create new housing, but to upgrade an existing structure, is not an outlier. These astronomical costs are typical. In Venice Beach, a new structure being proposed to accommodate homeless and low income residents is budgeted, including the value of the land, at over $200 million, in order to create 140 new apartment units. That’s a cost of $1.4 million per unit.

In order to assist the homeless, in 2016, Los Angeles voters approved Prop. HHH, authorizing $1.2 billion to construct “supportive housing.” As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the total project cost, on average, for the few thousand units that will eventually get built is $550,000 each.

Up north, the San […] Read More

The Many Derangement Syndromes of Our Time

The term “derangement syndrome” has made it into everyday speech, thanks to the now ubiquitous use of the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a term coined by Esther Goldberg back in 2015.

Writing for the American Spectator, Goldberg offered prescient observations as to how Trump Derangement Syndrome had afflicted “ruling class conservatives” such as George Will and Charles Cooke. These two were among the first “Never Trumpers, and since then Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS, has spread across America. But TDS is only one of the many derangement syndromes of our time.

The British conservative author and journalist Douglas Murray made derangement a central theme of his recent book, “The Madness of Crowds.” Writing about his book for the Daily Mail, he says “We are going through a great mass derangement. In public and in private, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and unpleasant.”

In his book, Murray claims that in post-modern society’s retreat from the great narratives offered by religion, patriotism, and traditions of family and community, people have found new ideologies to absorb their passions: social justice, identity politics, and intersectionality.

At face value, these ideologies aren’t especially toxic. Who doesn’t want social justice? Who isn’t proud of their heritage? Who would not acknowledge that the various group identities embodied in any individual intersect in a manner that helps define how they view themselves in the world? The toxicity is introduced by what overlays these ideologies: oppressor vs oppressed, empowered vs […] Read More

Can Libertarians Be Honest About Immigration and Assimilation?

Balanced on the edge of the deplatforming abyss, but still standing, is Vincent James. He is one of the last prominent YouTube video commentators with outspoken views on America’s immigration policies and how they affect America’s electoral politics. Despite his channel being demonetized and algorithmically suppressed, he continues to produce videos that frequently attract over 100,000 viewers. Even if his arguments were odious, and unsupportable with data or logic, James would deserve to speak his mind. But what makes him dangerous is his arguments are always backed up with impeccable data.

In a recent video, James took on America’s libertarians, specifically calling them out on the issue of immigration. At the 9:15 point, he replays a clip of a student challenging Charlie Kirk (founder of Turning Point USA) during his Q&A with a college audience. Kirk repeatedly skirts the question of whether or not mass immigration is sustainable by attempting to change the subject to why America needs to attract the best and the brightest of the world. And of course, Kirk can’t help but remind his audience that “this growing anti-immigration portion of the Republican conservative movement is dangerous.”

This is a standard response from a member of what James and others have dubbed “Conservatism Inc.” It is condescending and disingenuous. Condescending because everyone knows we welcome the Albert Einsteins and Elon Musks of the world, disingenuous because that’s not the point. Millions of unskilled immigrants to America will drive down the wages of low income […] Read More