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

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

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

The Politics, the Science, and the Politicized Science of Climate Change

“Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying” – David Bowie, Five Years, 1971

One has to wonder if the shock and despair described in David Bowie’s 1971 hit, “Five Years,” would be the preferred collective mentality for humanity, at least if the relentless propaganda campaigns of climate change activists are successful. And one must admit they have powerful allies at their disposal. A climate alarm consensus informs America’s entire educational, entertainment, and media establishments, along with most corporate marketing, and most political platforms from the local city council to the United Nations.

Climate alarm shouldn’t be a hard sell, and it isn’t. The horror of natural conflagrations taps into primal, instinctual fears; when vividly imagining terrifying acts of nature, even the most hardened skeptic might have a moment of pause.

California’s horrifying wildfire that incinerated the town of Paradise in November 2018 is a good example. Later that month, retired Governor Jerry Brown appeared on Face the Nation, and predicted, “in less than five years even the worst skeptics are going to be believers.”

Taking shameless advantage of every natural disaster to stoke fear of global warming has become normal. In October 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report predicting imminent global climate catastrophe. […] Read More

California Cronyism and its Consequences

Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is done using state power to crush genuine competition in handing out permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention. – Wikipedia, Feb. 2019

If the goal of public policy is to optimize the role of government, cronyism must be identified and curbed wherever possible. Cronyism wastes the limited resources of governments, at the same time as it reduces the efficiency of the private sector by using subsidies and other incentives to undermine healthy competition.

The harm caused by crony capitalism can best be illustrated by example. In California, cronyism is a major culprit in one of the worst policy failures in recent decades, the housing and the related homeless crisis. Several types of cronyism played into California’s housing debacle. The most significant was cronyism that took the form of regulations that favored the wealthiest, most established corporations, while driving the smaller, emerging competitors out of the housing business entirely.

This form of cronyism through regulations was originally described by Bruce Yandle, now with the Mercatus Center, back in 1983. Yandle, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, coined the phrase “Bootleggers and Baptists,” to describe how during prohibition, the bootleggers who profited from the trade in expensive illicit liquor, would support the temperance movement’s Baptist activists and others, […] Read More

How California Can Do Its Part to Stop Sea Level Rise

California is a global leader in fighting climate change. California’s citizens consistently have supported cutting edge technologies to wean their state off fossil fuel and nuclear power, and are on track to be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. But is this enough? How else can Californians do their part? What more can they do to set a fine example to the rest of the world?

Clearly, more can be done. So why not flood California’s Great Central Valley, sequestering billions of gallons of ocean water that might otherwise be endangering coastlines around the world?

The feasibility of such an endeavor is hardly a pipe dream. One great dam, extending south from the Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate, plumb into the mountainous ramparts of the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, would easily permit the establishment of a gigantic lake, over 1,000 feet deep, to extend from majestic Mt. Shasta in the north to the red rock Tehachapi Mountains far to the south. For nearly 500 miles from north to south, and 150 miles or more from east to west, this gigantic reservoir could absorb 100 percent of California’s precipitation and storm runoff for decades, slowing the rise of our expanding oceans.

At the same time, Californians can quickly harvest the “low-hanging fruit” of seawater sequestration, by flooding the Imperial Valley. Since much of the Imperial Valley is below sea level, all it would take would be a pipeline, siphoning water out of the ocean off the […] Read More

California’s GOP Plays it Safe When Safe Equals Death

In September 2016, Michael Anton published an influential essay entitled “The Flight 93 Election.” It compared the 2016 election to the tragic Flight 93 of 9/11/2001. Anton’s essay opened with this: “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain.”

California’s GOP faced a similar existential choice this weekend at their semi-annual state convention, when they had to elect a new party chairman. California’s GOP, like Flight 93, faces certain death. Many would say it is dead already. A new term has been coined to describe the status of the GOP in California, a “mega minority.” Whereas a “super minority” means your party holds less than one out of every three offices, a “mega minority” means your party holds less than one out of every four offices. That would describe California’s GOP these days, where they control a mega minority in the State Assembly, the State Senate, California’s Congressional Caucus, and the higher state offices such as Governor, Lt. Governor, etc., where they are not represented at all.

Three people rose to the challenge of flying California’s GOP into 2020, hopefully not crashing on the way. Firebrand populist and 2018 Gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen, who is openly supportive of president Trump, the thoughtful veteran […] Read More

Defining Appropriate Housing Development in California

One of the most frustrating contradictions inherent in the policies being enacted by California’s one-party state goes something like this: We are inviting the welfare cases of America and the expatriates of the world to move here, while simultaneously enacting environmental policies that make it extremely time consuming and expensive to build anything.

No wonder there’s a “housing crisis.” Until demand decreases, or supply increases, housing in California will remain unaffordable for most of its residents. But don’t expect demand to slacken any time soon. The political consensus in favor of increasing California’s population has a strong moral justification – why shouldn’t the wealthy, innovative, compassionate people of California be willing to share their wealth with millions more people who are less fortunate? But there are other less high-minded upsides to population growth and obstacles to new housing.

Currently, real estate prices and rents are on the rise, favoring investors and landlords. Banks enjoy higher lending volumes, while borrowers enjoy greater liquidity, however precarious, as the property bubble offers them more collateral as security. The government agencies profit from higher property tax assessments and higher capital gains collections on sales of real estate. Large land developers that have the political clout and financial heft to build housing despite the many obstacles, enjoy unusually high margins that they could never achieve in a normal competitive market. Finally, as an expanding population increases demand for housing, at the same time public school districts can increase attendance-based revenue – which […] Read More