Immigration to America is Not What It Used To Be

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony in Texas on March 18, former president George W Bush said that immigration to America “is a blessing and a strength.” He also said that “borders need to be respected,” and praised the work of border patrol agents, but that’s not what the media seized upon.

The Washington Post inserted “blessing and strength” into the lede of their report, entitled “George W. Bush: ‘May we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength’,” also working into the first sentence the following dig at Trump, “a message that sharply contrasts with President Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.”

CNN Politics covered the speech, making sure to note that “the rhetoric and policy positions from Bush came in contrast to much of the modern Republican Party and President Donald Trump.” The BBC said “Mr Bush’s comments were seen as an implicit rebuke to President Donald Trump’s administration.”

And on and on. CBS News: “Bush urges politicians to ‘dial down rhetoric’ on immigration.” Boston Globe: “described immigration as ‘a blessing and a strength,’ a message that sharply contrasts with President Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.” People Magazine: “it was a soft rebuke of the prevailing anti-immigrant position of some members of the Republican Party, including President Donald Trump.”

Get it? George W Bush has won his grim battle with history. Various photos showed him inviting dozens of new citizens up to the podium, including Muslims in headscarves, Hispanics, and Africans. Apparently […] Read More

How “New Way California” Can Find Its Way

In November 2018, former Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen wrote a guest commentary for CalMatters entitled “GOP is dead in California. A new way must rise.” She’s right on both counts. California’s GOP is dead. And a new way must rise.

Unfortunately, the New Way California political action committee that Kristin Olsen, Chad Mayes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have formed, at least so far, is heavy on inclusive rhetoric but short on the sort of bold policy proposals might actually excite voters. Snippets from the NewWayCA website:

“The most durable solutions have bipartisan support.” “We will work collaboratively to advance solutions on issues that are important to all Californians.” “Not everyone has the same chance to develop their abilities.” “Often it is clear that a helping hand is needed because too many people are excluded from achieving their dreams.” “Race, religion, gender do not determine a person’s abilities or natural rights, and should not affect the way we govern.”

Bravo. These are all good thoughts. And every word of that could have come from anywhere, Right, Left, Republicans, or Democrats. It’s important to establish principles. But policies are what attract voters and change our lives. For some examples of New Way California’s policy agenda, scroll down their homepage to the “News” section, where three policy issues are highlighted. Let’s consider these one at a time.

“Bipartisan” Climate Policy

The first is entitled “Bipartisan climate policy IS possible!” The premise of this is that climate solutions should adopt a […] Read More

San Diego’s 2012 Pension Reform at Risk

“The ruling is also an implicit endorsement of the state Public Employment Relations Board’s conclusion that the employees hired since the measure took effect must be made whole and get a pension equivalent to what they would have received pre-Proposition B.” – Editorial, San Diego Union Tribune, March 18, 2019

The ruling in question is the California’s Supreme Court’s August 2018 decision which found that “San Diego’s six-year-old pension cutbacks were not legally placed on the ballot because city officials failed to negotiate with labor unions before pursuing the measure.” It’s in the news again this week because the U.S. Supreme Court has just announced they will not hear the City’s appeal of the California ruling.

What’s going to happen now is uncertain. Back in 2012, a super-majority of San Diego voters, 65 percent, approved pension cuts for new employees, putting all but police hires onto 401K plans. The union immediately appealed, claiming that since one of the proponents of the ballot measure was the mayor, it was necessary to “meet and confer” with the unions before asking the voters to change the pension benefits that new employees would receive.

The trajectory of this case is complex. Back in 2012, the unions challenged the voter approved reforms before the union-stacked Public Employee Relations Board, which in 2015 ruled in their favor. Then the City of San Diego got PERB’s ruling overturned in 2017 in state appellate court. Which brings us to round three, back in August, won […] Read More

What Would it Cost for the U.S. to “Go Solar”?

Proponents of renewable energy claim that wind and solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. According to USA Today, “Renewables close in on fossil fuels, challenging on price.” A Forbes headline agrees: “Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels.” The “expert” websites agree: “Renewable Electricity Levelized Cost Of Energy Already Cheaper,” asserts “energyinnovation.org.”

They’re all wrong. Renewable energy is getting cheaper every year, but it is a long way from competing with natural gas, coal, or even nuclear power, if nuclear power weren’t drowning in lawsuits and regulatory obstructions.

With both wind and solar energy, the cost not only of the solar panels and wind turbines has to be accounted for, but also of inverters, grid upgrades, and storage assets necessary to balance out the intermittent power.

Taking all variables into account, what might it cost for the entire U.S. to get 100 percent of its energy from solar energy?

Speaking the Language of Energy and Electricity

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States in 2017 consumed 97.7 quadrillion BTUs of energy. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are often used by economists to measure energy. One BTU is the energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit.

If we’re going understand what it takes to go solar, and usher in the great all-electric age where our heating and our vehicles are all part of the great green grid, then we have to convert BTUs into […] Read More

A New Approach to Pension Reform Goes to Appellate Court

The recent ruling by the California Supreme Court in the case CalFire vs CalPERS has garnered much attention from pension reformers. While falling short of being a landmark ruling, the result was nonetheless encouraging. The court left open the possibility that vesting does not protect prospective benefits of current employees. The implications of that are left to related, still active court cases to decide.

Meanwhile, a completely different approach to pension reform has been hitting courts around California, centered on the argument that government agencies did not follow due process when approving pension enhancements. Between 1999 and 2007, one by one, nearly all of California’s government agencies enacted pension benefit increases of 50 percent or more. These increases were made retroactively, causing an actual financial impact well in excess of 50 percent. But when they did this, did they obey the law?

Three lawsuits have been filed by citizens taxpayers seeking to have pension increases overturned on the ground that they were adopted in violation of Section 7507, but each time, the trial court has dismissed the case on the ground that the lawsuit is barred by the three-year statute of limitations.

Convinced that the statute of limitations should not act as a bar to taxpayer claims to challenge these statutory violations, taxpayer/plaintiff George Luke raised the money to hire counsel, Robinson & Robinson LLP, to take an appeal from the statute of limitations ruling. If Mr. Luke is successful, it will open the door to every agency, or […] Read More

Defining American Nationalism

The Make America Great movement confronts hostility from nearly every establishment sector in American life; legacy media, social media, academia, entertainment, big corporations, big labor, big government, all Democrats, and a sizable percentage of the Republican elites.

Decrying the movement as “nationalism,” the establishment offers endless cautionary comparisons to nationalistic movements in history, condemning nationalism as tribal, racist, reactionary, hateful. The response to this relentless condemnation is an understandable belligerence, manifested all the way from Presidential tweets to Tea Party Facebook pages.

Belligerence is a justifiable reaction. The establishment has imposed a double standard that should infuriate any member of MAGA. Imagine if black-clad flash mobs of “nationalists” took over the streets of Portland, while police did nothing? Substitute hundreds of Antifa thugs and their sympathizers for nationalists, and that’s life in Portland today. Why isn’t that, and topics like that, the top story on ABC nightly “news,” night after night, forever?

The reason may be as simple as this: The Left invariably speaks with moral authority, whether they deserve it or not. The Left has managed to rhetorically out punch the MAGA movement because they’ve been able to associate MAGA with hate. In response, MAGA complains bitterly, instead of focusing on the optimistic, positive, inclusive, practical, solutions-oriented, wondrous hopeful future it imagines for America and the world. Until that alternative is presented, relentlessly, with enthusiasm and attention to detail, the establishment will continue to condone if not actively support the American Left. They will do this despite the contradictions […] Read More

California Rule Does Not Protect “Airtime”

Earlier this week the California Supreme Court ruled in the case CalFire vs CalPERS. The case challenged one of the provisions of California’s 2014 pension reform legislation (PEPRA) which had eliminated the purchase of “Airtime.”

This was the practice whereby retiring public employees could purchase “service credits” that would lengthen the number of years they worked, which would increase the amount of their pensions, even though they hadn’t actually worked those additional years. While the amount these retirees would pay was always estimated to cover how much they’d eventually get back, with interest, in their pensions, in practice these estimates were always too low.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that airtime was protected by the “California Rule,” which, the argued, prevents pension benefits from being reduced unless some other benefit of equal value is offered in return. But the court found that the California Rule wasn’t applicable in this case, setting an interesting precedent for other pending cases.

According to attorney and pension law expert Jonathan Holtzman, this ruling is a breakthrough.

“This is the first case in which, ever, where the court has attempted to define a principled basis for vesting doctrine – to analyze in a rigorous manner the legal basis of the vesting doctrine,” Holtzman said, “Although it does not resolve the issue, the case leaves wide open the question whether vesting protects prospective benefits of current employees. It takes a narrow view of what constitutes […] Read More

America’s High Frontier

On May 25, 1961, in a speech before Congress, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending an American to the moon and back before the end of the decade. Eight years, one month, and twenty-five days later, on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neal Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface, joined a few moments later by Buzz Aldrin.

To fully appreciate how much the Americans accomplished in just over eight years, consider the situation in mid-1961. On April 12th, the Russians had embarrassed the U.S. by blasting cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space. And while American astronaut Alan Shepard followed Gagarin into space a few weeks later on May 5th, his mission was only a 15 minute suborbital flight. Gagarin’s flight lasted 108 minutes and completed a full orbit around the planet. We were way behind.

Moreover, compared to what eventually became the Apollo lunar spacecraft, these early forays into space were extremely primitive. Basically the entire Mercury program, designed to achieve spaceflight in low earth orbit while keeping an astronaut on board, consisted of putting an aerodynamic pressure vessel atop a souped-up intercontinental ballistic missile. By contrast, the many modules and maneuvers required to safely deliver three astronauts to the moon and back, was orders of magnitude more complex. Yet America made all that progress in just over eight years.

Back in 1969, if you told anyone that nobody would return to the moon for another fifty years, they would have laughed. The […] Read More

How to Make California’s Government Agencies Far More Transparent

Last year, California’s state Senate and Assembly passed 1,217 pieces of legislation. Governor Brown signed 1,016 of them into law, and most took effect January 1st. Included were predictable acts of liberal zealotry – sanctuary for the undocumented, gender equity on corporate boards, gun control, “me-too” inspired laws, a mandate to move California to 100% “clean” energy by 2045, laws to protect government unions, reduce mandatory criminal punishment, and, of course, a ban on plastic straws.

To be fair, most of these issues aren’t black and white. But what’s notable is a complete lack of legislation that might reflect some kind of ideological balance. Where were the laws to rebuild our highways, fast-track the construction of the Sites Reservoir, open land for housing development, license new nuclear power plants, or permit drilling for natural gas? As Tony Soprano would say, “fuggedaboutit!”

There’s one law pending in this year’s legislative session, however, that could do a world of good. It’s probably the best new proposed law that nobody’s ever heard of. It’s utterly bipartisan, and wouldn’t cost much at all to implement.

That law is SB 598, the Open Financial Statements Act, sponsored by Senator Moorlach. It’s fitting that Senator Moorlach is the author of this bill, because Senator Moorlach is the only certified public accountant serving in a state legislature that, in general, is quite likely the most financially illiterate group of state legislators in America.

This isn’t idle speculation. An recent analysis by the California Policy […] Read More

California Poised to Lower Voting Age to 17

Expect 17 year olds to be voting in California’s 2020 election. A new bill, ACA 8, just introduced by Assemblyman Evan Low, will amend the state constitution to lower the voting age from 18 to 17. Having kids vote is ridiculous, but in California these days, ridiculous is the new normal. And it’s easy enough to understand what’s really behind this: California’s youth tend to vote for Democrats, so lowering the voting age means more Democrats get elected. The youth vote made the difference in several close races in California last November.

For example, in Orange County, 45th Congressional District incumbent Republican Mimi Walters was upset by 12,523 votes. Nearly half of that margin of victory came from just six precincts in and around UC Irvine, where Democratic challenger Katie Porter received 93 percent of all votes cast, 5,300 votes more than Walters received.

It should come as no surprise that college students favor Democrats. For a taste of what they’re perpetually exposed to, have a look at this “electionlawblog,” authored by a UC Irvine professor, “generously supported by” the UCI School of Law. Amid post after post with anti-Trump, anti-GOP headlines, you’ll scroll long and hard to find content critical of Democrats.

Back in August, 2018, the Sacramento Bee ran a story entitled “Billionaire, unions have a plan to tip California’s closest congressional races.” That title says it all. Billionaire donors in California – Tom Steyer in this case – don’t just give […] Read More