Ted Cruz is Right About Space Piracy

On May 14, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made the mistake of using “space” and “pirates” in the same sentence, and the Twittersphere pounced. At first, media coverage of the story focused on Cruz’s supposed humiliation on Twitter. Then the story moved to Cruz’s criticism of Twitter highlighting his detractors on its platform, but not his responses. And then the makers and shapers of public opinion, from the lowliest tweeter to the top news anchors, found something else to pounce on. Just another week in 2019 America.

But the story should have focused on the substance of Cruz’s remarks. Here’s what Senator Cruz actually said:

“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors. Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a space force to defend the nation, and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.”

It’s about time there was more public dialog about the security challenges presented by new space technologies. The rapidity with which these technologies have advanced over the past 30-40 years rivals that of chip technology, where capacity has doubled roughly ever two years. For example, in 1981, the ultra-modern reusable Space Shuttle brought the price to launch a kilogram into space down to $85,000. This enabled a global communications revolution […] Read More

Why Are Public Safety Unions Supporting Teachers Unions?

During the Los Angeles teachers strike earlier this year, an article in the ultra-left publication The Nation offered an excellent glimpse into the mentality of strikers and their supporters. The article begins by describing a scene in front of an LAUSD middle school on day three of the strike. A truck driver has arrived to make a delivery to the school, and the picket line won’t budge. Police have been called.

What happens next? According to The Nation, “The line holds. The police don’t make good on their threats to cite or arrest teachers, and the truck and police cars drive off. One of the officers even gets on his radio before he leaves and says, ‘Don’t let them come between us. We support you!’”

It would take an expert to determine whether this conduct falls within the boundaries of normal police discretion or constitutes a minor act of civil disobedience in solidarity with the strikers, but it doesn’t take an expert to determine whose side this officer was on. “We support you.”

Police, along with the firefighters who on January 19th actually marched by the hundreds through downtown Los Angeles to support the teachers strike, can be applauded for wanting to support teachers and students. They can be applauded for doing what they think is right, especially if they think they are helping the next generation of Americans get a quality public education. But what if everything the teachers union is trying to do is wrong?

For […] Read More

How Voters Can Transform California in One Election

Oxnard, California, wouldn’t immediately come to mind as the epicenter of a political revolution, but that’s exactly what it will be, if a small group of citizen activists succeed in putting not one, but five reforms in front of voters in the next major election.

The citizens initiative has been available to Californians at the state and local level for decades, but they are relatively unusual in local elections, and typically come one at a time. Local activists in San Jose and San Diego, for example, both placed pension reform initiatives on their municipal ballots, which voters passed by by landslide margins.

But what’s happening in Oxnard is unique, because voters may have the chance to vote on an entire slate of initiatives. While each one addresses a different topic of reform – financial transparency, street maintenance, term limits, open meetings, and permit streamlining – if voters approved all of them, they would have a mutually reinforcing impact. They would transform local politics in Oxnard forever, and pave the way to even bigger reforms.

At the state level, a slate of initiatives was tried in 2005 by then Governor Schwarzenegger. Taking office in Nov. 2003, Schwarzenegger tried for over a year to get California’s legislature to implement the reforms that voters had apparently mandated when they recalled the previous governor, Gray Davis. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger’s initiatives had no viable campaign. Tepid variants of “it’s gone too far” doused the airwaves, barely, while the opposition went […] Read More

Public Sector Unions – The Other Deep State

When government fails, public-sector unions win. When society fragments, public-sector unions consolidate their power. When citizenship itself becomes less meaningful, and the benefits of American citizenship wither, government unions offer an exclusive solidarity.

Government unions insulate their members from the challenges facing ordinary private citizens. On every major issue of our time; globalization, immigration, climate change, the integrity of our elections, crime and punishment, regulations, government spending, and fiscal reform, the interests and political bias of public-sector unions is inherently in conflict with the public interest. Today, there may be no greater core threat to the freedom and prosperity of the American people.

In the age of talk radio, the Tea Party movement, internet connectivity, and Trump, Americans finally are mobilizing against the uniparty to take back their nation. Yet the threat of public-sector unions typically is a sideshow, when it ought to occupy center stage. They are the greatest menace to American civilization that nobody seems to be talking about. Ask the average American what the difference is between a government union, and a private sector union, and you’re likely to be met with an uncomprehending stare. That’s too bad, because the differences are profound.

While America’s labor movement has always included in its ranks varying percentages of crooks, Communists, and thugs, it derived its mass appeal based on legitimate and often compelling grievances. Most of the benefits American workers take for granted—certainly including overtime pay, sick leave, and safe working conditions—were negotiated by private sector unions.

Over time, […] Read More

Challenging Liberal Racism

About a year ago, Vice published an article by Kesiena Boom called “100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color.” Offered as a way for the “anxious [White] allies of the world” to “be the change,” the article serves as a pretty good example of leftist attitudes on race. But what if these leftist, liberal attitudes are themselves racist?

By now we’re all familiar with the broad outlines of this narrative. Racism is real whether you can see it or not (No. 1). Don’t engage in “cultural appropriation” (No. 11). Don’t claim to know what is or isn’t racist (No. 17). Realize that “some days are mentally exhausting for people of color” (No. 20). Make a fuss if a collection of art, music, literature, or whatever, doesn’t include proportional representation by people of color (No. 27). Understand the “intersections of race and gender” (No. 43). Shut up and “just listen” (No. 68).

Perhaps the biggest common thread in Boom’s article is its air of moral superiority. People of color will dictate the terms of any discussion on race, and white people will keep quiet and listen. The problem with accepting this premise, however, is that the stakes are too high. According to Pew Research, by 2020 one-third of America’s eligible voters will be “nonwhites.”

Colorful Symmetries, Troubling Trends If America’s “people of color” were as diverse in their voting preferences as non-Hispanic whites, the fact that they’re about to constitute one in every […] Read More

The “Packed White Nationalist” Rally That Wasn’t

It’s no secret that the mainstream media is biased to the left. A 2018 survey conducted by researchers at Arizona State found that only 4.4 percent of journalists consider themselves “right-of-center.” A similar 2014 study found that only 7.1 percent of journalists were registered Republicans. Examples of this bias are relentless, from two years of hyping an investigation into “collusion” between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia that came up empty, to slanderous attacks on the Covington Catholic High School students.

It isn’t just obviously distorted coverage of current events that taints American journalism, it’s the way they continue to mischaracterize past events, knowing they can get away with it. “Trump defended neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.” No, he did not. “Trump mocked a disabled reporter.” No, he did not. Yet the anti-Trump “journalists” routinely repeat these lies and others, using them to reinforce the negative context of whatever it is they’re currently reporting about Trump.

One of the most shameless propagandists against President Trump in particular, and conservatives in general, is “ABC Nightly News” anchor David Muir. If he weren’t such a partisan hack, one might feel sorry for him.

Every afternoon at 5:30 p.m., Muir begins his broadcast by uttering the same phrases as if he’s saying them for the first time: “Welcome on a very busy Monday, there are several developing stories as we come on the air.”

Managing to look both solemn and dashing at the same time, Muir paces through the […] Read More

Citizen Reformers Set to Transform Oxnard’s Politics

Oxnard has got a problem. The city’s contributions to CalPERS, which totaled $23 million in their fiscal year 2016-17, are going to increase to $45 million by 2024-25.

Where is this money going to come from? As reported last week, the “skyrocketing pension costs” have already led Oxnard’s Mayor to call for “painful cuts.” But if pension payments are set to double in just the next six years, where will all these cuts come from?

Meanwhile, in Oxnard, a small group of local activists, led by Aaron Starr, a local executive with a financial background including a CPA, are working to qualify five reform initiatives. If they gather the signatures required for each initiative, residents of the City of Oxnard will vote on them in November 2020.

The process of filing a citizens initiative is relatively straightforward. One reference is Ballotpedia, which provides a good summary of laws governing the local ballot measures in California.

In Oxnard, for example, there are 82,000 registered voters, and in order to place a local initiative onto the ballot, ten percent of registered voters have to sign a petition. In practice, it is advisable to collect 40-50 percent more signatures than the minimum necessary to qualify. For Oxnard, that would mean 12,000 gross signatures are necessary to qualify each ballot measure.

Citizen sponsored ballot measures to repeal local taxes or implement other reforms are common, but not as common as proposals and counter-proposals initiated by local city councils, school boards, and county […] Read More

Why Not Nuclear Power to Mitigate Climate Change?

AUDIO: A discussion of nuclear power, especially asking the question: why aren’t climate change activists in favor of nuclear power? – 8 minutes on KNRS FM 105.9 Salt Lake City – Edward Ring on The Rod Arquette Show.

http://civfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-04-29-Edward-Ring-on-Rod-Arquette-8-minutes-KNRS-SLC.mp3

City of Oxnard Pension Contributions Set to Double by 2024

As reported by the Ventura County Star, the City of Oxnard faces budget headwinds. Quoted in the article, Mayor Tim Flynn had this to say:

“We’re making decisions that should have been made 10, 20 years ago to put the city on a sustainable path,” Flynn said. “These are very painful cuts, but we have to live within our means. The city historically has not lived within our means.”

City Manager Alex Nguyen was more specific:

“Skyrocketing pension costs and spikes in health care are some of the reasons for the budget shortfall. With projected expenditures approximately $10 million more than anticipated revenue, there is no choice but to recommend programmatic cuts to the City Council.”

Skyrocketing pension costs. You can say that again. Depicted on the chart below is a summary of what’s happening to Oxnard, thanks to “skyrocketing pension costs.” The biggest takeaway from this chart is the fact that Oxnard’s pensions have just begun to “skyrocket.” If you want to skip the details and cut to the chase, view the yellow highlighted figures in the middle and at the bottom of the right column.

The first highlighted numbers show how much Oxnard had to pay CalPERS (not including employee contributions through withholding) back in 2017. Back then, it cost them $23 million. Now look to the bottom of the chart, to see what these pensions are going to cost the city in 2024 – nearly twice as much at over $45 million.

The numbers on […] Read More

Why Don’t Climate Activists Support Nuclear Power?

For several days in mid-April, downtown London was paralyzed by thousands of “climate activists” who were protesting the failure of the U.K. government to act swiftly enough to combat climate change. In mid-March, thousands of students across the United States staged school “walkouts” to demand action on climate change.

These protests are ongoing, but there is little underlying logic to them. The primary sources of anthropogenic CO2 are no longer Western nations, which in sum are only responsible for about 30 percent of global emissions. The biggest single culprit, if you want to call it that, is China, responsible for 28 percent of global emissions, nearly twice as much as the U.S., and literally 28 times as much as the U.K. Rapidly industrializing India, responsible for 6 percent of global CO2 emissions, is on track to become the most populous nation on earth. The chances that China and India will sacrifice their national future in order to reduce CO2 emissions is zero. The same holds for every emerging nation, including the demographic heavyweights Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, along with all the rest.

The logic of these protestors also fails when it comes to the science of climate change, although to even suggest this is heresy. So rather than point out that moderate warming might actually be beneficial to the planet, or that extreme weather is actually more highly correlated with a cooling planet, let’s accept all the popular wisdom with respect to “climate science.” So […] Read More