We Need To Learn From Past Mistakes

I live very close to a national forest–a very large national forest. Watching what has happened in California makes me wonder how safe I am here. However, I am also aware that controlled burns in the national forest here are a part of summer life. I should also mention that generally there is enough rain during the summer to make these burns safe. Unfortunately that is not always the case in California, and sometimes a controlled burn is simply not practical. However, there are other ways to clear out brush and possible fuel for a fire.

The Washington Times posted an article about the California fires on Friday. What has happened in California is horrific, and we need to do everything we can to prevent it happening in the future.

The article reports:

A national logging organization is offering support to President Trump following catastrophic wildfires in California and a political debate over the causes of the destructive blazes.

“President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made,” said Daniel Dructor, executive vice president of the American Loggers Council, a coalition of state and regional associations that represents independent contract loggers.

“It’s time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management — including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning — are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes,” Mr. Dructor said in a statement.

According to the council, some 60 million to 80 million acres of national forest are at “high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.”

Citing research from the U.S. Forest Service, the council backs such methods as thinning stressed trees and prescribed burns to reduce wildfires but said “only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated.”

Mr. Dructor advised the Trump administration and Congress to expand public-private partnerships to manage the problem.

The article concludes:

Loggers are America’s ‘boots on the ground’ to conserve our forests and reduce the risks of wildfire,” council president Chris Potts said in a statement.

We work in the woods every day, we understand forestry and see the dangers every day, and we know what needs to be done. Without forests, we are out of business. That’s why we’ll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire,” he said.

Lumber is a renewable resource. A properly managed forest can continue indefinitely. Good forest management will not only provide jobs and resources, it will create a healthy environment for wildlife and avoid the environmental catastrophe that the California forest fires have been.

The Economic Problem With Green Energy

Townhall posted an article today about the impact of green energy on the middle and lower class.

The article reports:

Liberals love to talk about helping the poor and the middle class, and they are obsessed with reducing income inequality. So why is it that across the country they are pushing one of the most regressive taxes in modern times?

I am talking about the fad “green” initiative in states such as California, Arizona and New Jersey that require local utilities to buy expensive renewable energy. These renewable energy standards require that utilities to buy expensive wind and solar power. They then pass these costs onto the poor and working class who get stuck paying the tab.

In Sacramento, California, the legislature is speeding ahead with one of the most absurd proposals of modern times by mandating 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. This would mean no coal, no natural gas and no nuclear power.

Meanwhile in Arizona, voters will decide on a ballot initiative funded by billionaire Tom Steyer that would increase renewable mandates to 50 percent over the next decade or so.

The article concludes:

Low-income households spend at least four to five times more out of their incomes in energy costs than do millionaires. For a family with an income of $40,000 or $50,000, an extra $500 a year in costs means less money for school supplies, day care, a family vacation or health insurance.

All of this is so unnecessary. If wind and solar are truly the energy sources of the future — with reliability and low costs — let the market determine that. Why do they need mandates and billions of dollars of federal subsidies to make them work? This is an experiment of imposing high costs on American small businesses, farms and families to pay off wealthy green energy investors. Could anything be more illiberal than this?

One of the benefits of the economic growth the Trump administration has created is the resurgence of the middle class–it is growing instead of shrinking (as it did under President Obama). The middle class is the strength of our republic–it is the only bulwark we have against the misguided proponents of socialism. When the middle class realizes the impact socialism will have on them, they oppose it. Unfortunately the students in our high schools and colleges are not getting that message. Using green energy as an excuse to increase the poverty levels is not a good idea. It is not a surprise that the people proposing the increase of green energy are the people least likely to be impacted by it.

Usually This Shows Up In The Headlines

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about an attack on Rudy Peters, the Republican nominee in California’s 15th Congressional District. CNN has not yet reported this attack.

The article reports:

Farzad Fazeli, 35, allegedly made disparaging remarks about the Republican Party before pulling out a switchblade and attempting to stab Rudy Peters at a festival Sunday, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Peters is the Republican nominee in California’s 15th Congressional District, where he is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell.

The sheriff’s office arrested Fazeli on Tuesday and announced it to the public that afternoon.

This is not acceptable. I realize that political passions are running high at this time, but supporters of all candidates need to act with civility. There is no excuse for this sort of attack on a political candidate. Hopefully the attacker will spend significant time in jail in order to deter others from committing similar attacks.

When The State Thinks It’s Your Mother

The Independent Journal Review posted an article today about a new law that California is planning to pass.

The article reports:

In an attempt to reduce childhood obesity rates, the state of California is taking the reigns from parents and banning restaurants from serving sugary beverages to children. 

The new bill restricts children’s drink options to be listed as just water or milk. The bill passed through the state legislature and is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown. 

The American Cancer Society led the charge on this bill, telling CBS 13, “Cancer is fought in the halls of government, not just in the halls of a hospital.”

…Mike Slater, a radio host in San Diego told Fox News, “It amazes me always, the progressive instinct to ban things they don’t like. Whether in California it’s banning plastic bags or straws, or even speech.”

Under this bill, parents are still allowed to ask for a different drink, such as soda or chocolate milk, but it cannot be listed as a default beverage by the restaurant. 

If a restaurant fails to comply with the new bill, they could face a fine of up to $500. 

Maybe it would be better simply to educate parents on basic nutrition. I also think that if a child is taken out to dinner by his (or her) parents on a special occasion, he (she) should be allowed to drink anything he (she) wants.

I remember in junior high school (back in the age of dinosaurs) that the class did a science experiment with mice. There were two mice. One mouse was fed potato chips and soda (the dream diet of many children), and the other mouse was fed vegetables and things that were considered healthy. After a few weeks, the junk-food mouse was actually skinny and not healthy looking and the healthy-food mouse was growing and doing well. Do they still teach basic nutrition in schools? Might that be part of the problem?

Just for the record, I am not sure that what the children are drinking is the problem. Admittedly, soda is not good for you. However, what about looking at the ingredients in the foods you buy in the supermarket every week. How much of our bread has high fructose corn syrup in it? Isn’t that a product that contributes to obesity? How much of our children’s cereal has high fructose corn syrup in it? What is the price difference between real maple syrup and syrup made up of everything but natural maple syrup?

Aside from the government intrusion involved in this law, I think it is taking aim at the wrong thing. Soda is the least of our worries in terms of what our children are eating.

When You Neglect The Obvious

The following is a December 2017 News Release from the U.S.D.A.:

VALLEJO, Calif., December 11, 2017 – The USDA Forest Service today announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.

“The number of dead and dying trees has co ntinued to rise, along with the risks to communities and firefighters if a wildfire breaks out in these areas,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. “It is apparent from our survey flights this year that California’s trees have not yet recovered from the drought, and remain vulnerable to beetle attacks and increased wildfire threat. The USDA Forest Service will continue to focus on mitigating hazard trees and thinning overly dense forests so they are heal thier and better able to survive stressors like this in the future.”

Moore continued, “To increase the pace and scale of this important work, we need to fix how fire suppression is funded. Last year fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the USDA For est Service’s national budget. As fire suppression costs continue to grow as a percentage of the USDA Forest Service’s budget, funding is shrinking for non- fire programs that protect watersheds and restore forests, making them more resilient to wildfire an d drought.”

Though California received record -breaking rains in the winter of 2016-2017, the effects of five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and rising temperatures have led to historic levels of tree die-off. The Tree Mortality Task Force (TMTF), with support from the Governor’s office and comprised of more than 80 local, state and federal agencies and private utility companies, continues to remove hazardous dead trees. To date, the TMTF members have collectively felled or removed over 1 million dead trees; this includes over 480,000 dead trees felled or removed by the USDA Forest Service.

The TMTF members are using a triage approach to this tree mortality crisis, first focusing on public safety by removing dead and dying trees in high hazard areas. To further improve forest health, the USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE have increased their pace and scale of prescribed fire. The USDA Forest Service has treated over 55,000 acres and CAL FIRE has com pleted over 33,000 acres in fuel treatment projects. By combining tree removal with prescribed fire, crews will be able to decrease overly dense stands of trees, reduce greenhouse gases, and protect communities across the state.

“Tree mortality at this magnitude takes on- going cooperation between public, non- profit and private entities,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “California’s forests are a critical part of the State’s strategy to address climate change. By working together and using all the resources at our disposal we will be able to make more progress towards our common goal of healthier, more resilient forests that benefit all Californians.”

With record breaking levels of tree die-off, the TMTF has used t his event as an opportunity to collaborate on several fronts: from public workshops about reforestation, public outreach in urban and rural areas, and awarding over $21 million in grants aimed to protect watersheds, remove dead trees and restore our forest s. The TMTF continues to collaborate on the efficient use of resources to protect public safety and build consensus around long -term management strategies for California’s forest lands.

“The Tree Mortality Task force has provided an essential venue for co ordination of response efforts, exchange of ideas, reporting, and accountability for the ongoing statewide response to this incident,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig of Fresno County. “Leadership from the Governor’s Office, CAL FIRE and Office of Emergency Services has helped to ensure county issues are heard and addressed. Monthly coordination of the 10 most impacted counties has resulted in a more effective use of resources and has allowed counties to share ideas and successes.”

With a staggering 129 mil lion dead trees in the state, the work of the task force is far from over. The strong foundation built will continue to be an advantage as the TMTF continues to address tree mortality and its impacts.

Learn more about tree mortality and the work to restore our forests in California at the USDA Forest Service ‘s web page Our Changing Forests . To learn about how to be prepared and protect your home against wildfire and your trees against bark beetle attacks visit CAL FIRE’s web page Ready for Wildfire.

###

Media Notes:

Tree Mortality Website
2017 Tree Mortality Aerial Detection Survey Results
Tree Mortality Combined Map, 2014- 2017
Tree Mortality Progression Map, 2014- 2017
Animated Tree Mortality Progression Map, 2014- 2017
Tree Mortality Project Pictures
CAL FIRE Prescribed Fire Video B -Roll
CAL FIRE Tree Removal Video B-Roll

If you follow the link to the original article, there are multiple links in the Press Release.

Cleaning up the forests is one way to help control forest fires which can begin for a number of reasons. Some are man-made and some are the result of lightning strikes. Even in drought conditions, if the forest has been properly cleared of dead wood and potential fuel, a fire will be much more easily contained. The fires in California are tragic and the loss of property is enormous, but some of this disaster could have been avoided had the State of California cleaned some of the forests during the winter months.

This was an avoidable disaster.

Responding To Union Extortion

On Saturday, PJ Media posted an article a recent lawsuit filed by seven in California.

The article reports:

Less than a week after that ruling, Janus v. Association of Federal, State, City, and Municipal Employees (FSCME), seven California teachers have filed a class-action lawsuit to recoup unjustly forced fees.

“This lawsuit will enable teachers like me to recover the agency fees that we were wrongly forced to pay against our will,” Scott Wilford, the plaintiff in the new lawsuit, told Education Week. Wilford filed the lawsuit in the Central District of California’s federal court on Tuesday.

Wilford and six others filed the class-action lawsuit against the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and others. The suit seeks “redress for the defendants’ past and ongoing violations of their constitutionally protected rights. The defendants have violated the representative plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by, among other things, forcing them to pay fair share service fees as a condition of their employment.”

The AFT, like other unions, used “non-political” agency fees for its annual convention in 2016, at which Hillary Clinton spoke.

It is not news to anyone that union dues were used for political purposes. It does seem unfair that people would be compelled to support candidates and causes that are against their political ideology.

The article concludes:

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

The Supreme Court put an end to these ill-gotten gains last month, and Wilford, Friedrichs, and their fellow plaintiffs deserve an apology if nothing more. Wilford and Friedrichs especially deserve something, since their case was blocked for two years by a deadlocked Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, it seems unions are unlikely to give even that, as they staunchly attacked Janus as an unjust decision. Some contrition, and a direct settlement for Wilford and Friedrichs, might save the unions a huge headache — and a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Instead, it seems they’re in for the long haul.

Stay tuned. I suspect this is just the beginning.

It’s Good To Know What You Are Protesting Before You Protest

Yesterday The Federalist posted an article about a protest in West Oakland, California. The protest occurred last year, but the video has resurfaced this year because of the Democrat’s idea to abolish ICE. The protesters were protesting an ICE raid in their neighborhood.

The article reports:

Assuming the agents were arresting illegal immigrants, people began protesting outside of the house.

Neighbor Hadar Cohen woke up to her roommate crying, saying she didn’t know what to do. The two of them and other housemates went outside to find agents on their street. Cohen, who was holding a “No person is illegal” sign, said that agents weren’t telling the neighbors what was going on.

This is what the protesters did not know:

The raid was part of an ongoing criminal investigation of a child sex trafficking in Oakland. Investigators were executing a federal search warrant, a fact which the Oakland Police Department later confirmed.

Agents were seen taking two individuals to their cars; both had blankets covering their faces to conceal their identities.

Protestors wrote in chalk on the ground “We love our neighbors” and “Oakland PD is a disgrace,” as the agents and police officers busted up the child prostitution ring.

So the protesters were supporting the rights of child sex traffickers rather than the rights of the law enforcement agencies trying to protect the children in the area. How loony have protests become? If these protesters had known the truth, would it have mattered? Would the protests be different if any of their children had been taken by these people?

The ‘resistance’ has totally lost its way. It has been so blinded by hatred of a person that it cannot see. One of the accomplishments of the Trump administration is the ongoing battle against child pornography and human trafficking. This raid was one example of that battle, and protesters who had no idea what was going on made fools of themselves.

This Might Actually Be A Serious Proposal

CNS News posted an article today about an item that will appear on the ballot in California in November.

The article reports:

The State of California is “nearly ungovernable,” given its “diverse population and economies.” So says a newly qualified ballot initiative that would split California into three states — maybe — if voters approve the proposal in November.

The summary posted online by the State Attorney General’s office says the split would require the approval of Congress and undoubtedly the courts. If all parties approved the plan, “all tax collections and spending by the existing State of California would end. California’s existing state assets and liabilities would be divided among three new states. These states would make their own decisions about state and local taxes and spending.”

One of the new states would be named Northern California (or a name to be chosen by the people of that state). It would encompass 40 northern counties, including San Francisco and its surrounds.

The second state, tentatively named California, would include only six counties: Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The third new state, to be named Southern California (or a name chosen by the people), would include 12 counties, including Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Tulare.

Los Angeles Times cartoonist David Horsey has already proposed names for the three new states:

Los Angeles Times cartoonist David Horsey suggested naming the Northern California/Napa area “Weed” or “Merlot”; he suggested that the Silicon Valley area be named “iState”; and Los Angeles/Hollywood could be called “Bling.”)

The article points out two aspects of this change if it is voted in–first, California would then have six representatives in the Senate–making it more influential than states with only two representatives (but there is no guarantee all six senators would agree on anything). Secondly, California votes in the Electoral College might be split between candidates–giving Republicans votes from a state that generally does not give them Electoral Votes.

It will be interesting to see exactly how this plays out.

This Is Good News For A Lot Of People

George Soros has a rather checkered past. He has been associated with Nazis in Germany when they were in power and has been accused of acquiring much of his wealth through collapsing the currency of various countries. He is one of the richest men in the world and tends to dabble in the political affairs of various countries–America included. He hasn’t had a lot of luck in America recently–Hillary Clinton lost and many of the California District Attorney candidates he funded lost. He believes in a one-world government controlled by himself and his friends. It won’t be a democracy, and the American Constitution would be irrelevant. Freedom would be optional. Well, I’m grateful things are not going his way right now. I am hoping that continues to be the case.

The Daily Caller posted an article about George Soros yesterday.

The article reports:

George Soros recently lamented the rise of President Trump and anti-establishment parties across the globe, saying “everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.”

Soros made the comment in an interview with The Washington Post published Saturday. He also said that he did not expect Trump’s election, saying, “Apparently, I was living in my own bubble.”

The activist billionaire also made the bizarre claim that President Trump would be “willing to destroy the world.”

Soros has become known for using his immense wealth to influence politics in the United States and around the world.

Actually I suspect George Soros would be willing to destroy the world. He has worked very hard to undermine the national sovereignty of America. I don’t suspect he is giving up on that–just grousing that it is taking so long. Eight years of Donald Trump might make him go away.

No, It’s Not A Level Playing Field

Not every American high school student took part on the much-publicized anti-gun march in Washington last month. However, you might not have known that if you depend on the mainstream media for your news. Some California students wondered if a pro-life (anti-abortion) march would be treated equally by schools and in the press. Yesterday The Sacramento Bee posted an article that answers that question.

The article reports:

Rocklin High School junior Brandon Gillespie wanted to test school administrators when he planned a walkout Tuesday to protest abortion. Would the school punish anti-abortion protesters for leaving classes for 17 minutes, the same amount of time that students taking part in the National School Walkout left classes on March 14, without discipline?

The answer was no.

About 40 students holding pro-life signs left classes at about 10 a.m. and squared off peacefully in the quad with 10 or so students holding pro-choice signs, according to district officials, who would not allow media near the protest. Another dozen students looked on, according to officials. There were a few speeches, but after about 17 minutes, the students returned to class.

District officials said there were no plans to discipline the students.

The article also notes that about 350 schools nationwide participated in the march on Tuesday. How much news coverage did they get?

The article also notes another difference between the two marches:

Gillespie and Benzel both say that Tuesday’s protesters were not treated the same as the participants in the National School Walkout, who were given tents to shelter them from the rain and a public address system. Teachers also were directed not to discipline students who participated in the March 14 protest, Benzel said. She said similar directives were not given to teachers about Tuesday’s protest, although the district did say it would not punish students who participated in the protest Tuesday.

No, it’s not a level playing field. The media is not doing the job the American people need done. The death of the mainstream media will be the result of their own actions–they have no one to blame but themselves.

 

Does This Make Sense To Anyone?

California has declared itself a sanctuary state. Frankly, that is unconstitutional–even under the Tenth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment states:

The Tenth Amendment assigns all powers not delegated to the United States, or prohibited to the states, to either the states or to the people.

Securing the borders is one of the powers delegated to the federal government, so California’s declaration that they are a sanctuary state is unconstitutional. However, there are other aspects of the actions of California that need to be looked at.

Yesterday The Western Journal reported that California will raise tuition for out-of-state students by nearly $1,000, a hike that will not apply to illegal alien students. So an illegal alien will pay less for an education in California than a legal American citizen from another state. That seems a little odd to me.

The article reports:

California Assembly Bill 540 mandates that illegal alien students can obtain in-state tuition if they attend high school in the state for a minimum of three years and earn a California high school diploma.

…UC regent chair George Kieffer reported that UC students have 31 percent less funding each in 2018 when compared with their 2000 counterparts.

“California is perpetually broke,” Mehlman told TheDCNF. “And yet they manage to come up with services for illegal aliens.”

The immigration advocacy spokesman elaborated on services the state provides to illegal aliens, such as grants, public housing, as well as various other state and local services.

Mehlman postulated that about half of illegal aliens work “off the books” and the other half use “bogus social security numbers.”

The demographic costs California taxpayers over $25 billion per year, according to FAIR.

TheDCNF reached out to the California Immigrant Policy Center for comment but received none in time for press.

I think if I were a legal American student from another state I would sue for discrimination. This policy makes no sense.

The “Dreamer” Spin

If your news sources are limited to the mainstream media, you may have the impression that President Trump is randomly breaking up families and deporting illegal immigrants. Stories in the mainstream show crying children whose parent or parents are being deported, and these stories just reek of sympathetic angles. However, when you look past the obvious, you often find out that what you are being told may not be the entire story.

Hot Air posted an article today about one such story about a deported illegal alien.

The article reports:

ICE agents took Armando Nunez Salgado into custody outside his home. According to family members, he was in the backyard when agents walked right in through the side gate. His 14-year-old daughter Isabel Salgado dissolved into tears.

“I cried. I got very emotional, I was really sad,” said Isabel. “I mean to watch someone who is part of your everyday life and then you just have to watch him leave without saying goodbye. It kind of hurts.”

Armando is a construction worker who has been in America more than 30 years. His wife Elena Ponce said his parents brought him to the U.S. when he was only four years old.

The article at Hot Air begins to tell us more of the story:

But it turns out, Armando does have a dangerous past. After our interview, his family members told KPIX 5 he was involved in gangs and drugs for a long time.

In fact, at one point, he was on ICE’s most wanted list for charges of felony force and assault with a deadly weapon.

…“On Sunday, Feb. 25, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) San Francisco Fugitive Operations Team arrested ICE fugitive Armando Nuñez-Salgado, 38, a citizen of Mexico and documented Sureño gang member, who has been previously removed by ICE on four prior occasions. Over the past 18 years he has accumulated criminal convictions in California that have resulted in more than 15 years of prison sentencings. His criminal convictions include assault with a deadly weapon (statutorily enhanced because of his gang member status), burglary, hit-and-run causing injury and evading a peace officer.”

The man had been deported four times and done fifteen years in prison! This is not an innocent man who is an asset to America.

If You Dislike ‘Big Pharma’, You Should Also Dislike ‘Big Pot’

There is a move in America to legalize marijuana. I don’t know if it can be stopped. I doubt it can. Marijuana is proclaimed to be a miracle cure for everything from headaches to ingrown toenails. Well, it may have medicinal value, but it also has a pretty serious downside. I remember looking at the Sunday paper in California after medical marijuana was legalized. The last four pages were ads from doctors who would prescribe it to cure any ailment. All you had to do was call. The legalization of medical marijuana essentially made recreational use much easier to do legally. So what are the consequences of legal marijuana?

Yesterday Dr. David B. Samadi posted an article at Fox News about some of the dangers of legalizing marijuana.

The article states:

From a health standpoint, why is legalization of another mind-altering drug the right thing to do?  The U.S. is already in the midst of a devastating prescription opioid and heroin crisis.  And individuals from all walks of life struggle with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

It may be too late, but taking an illegal drug and making it legal needs to be well-thought out, to determine what impact this major step will have on future generations.

…What is especially concerning is the fact that the marijuana of today is not the same as it was back in the 1960s or 1970s. Over the past few decades, the concentration of THC in the cannabis plant has been increasing, making it more potent than ever.

A fairly recent popular method of getting high is smoking THC-rich resins extracted from the plant. Extracts are quite powerful, delivering very large amounts of THC to the body. This has sent many users to the emergency room.

…Researchers are still studying the long-term effects of marijuana. But what is known is that the younger a person begins using pot, such as in the teen years, the greater the declines in general knowledge, impaired thinking, learning difficulties and lowered IQ.

The article discusses the medical claims and research on marijuana:

At this time, treating medical conditions using marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. There is still insufficient data from large, long-term, well-designed studies on the potential risks versus benefits of using marijuana to relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions.

There are however, ongoing studies on cannabidiol, a component of marijuana that does not have the mind-altering effects of THC. That may hold potential promise in helping conditions like drug-resistant epilepsy and some psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, substance use disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis.

The article concludes:

No matter how much fun using marijuana looks like on TV or in the movies, no matter what your friends say about it, no matter how many people tell you it’s harmless, and no matter what laws politicians pass to get votes or raise tax revenue, remember one thing: unless you have certain medical conditions where the drug may be beneficial, you are better off without it.

The campaign to legalize marijuana is not unlike the campaign to encourage smoking that went on in the motion picture and entertainment industries up until recent years. We all saw how well that turned out.

The Definition Of Serendipity

Serendipity means a “fortunate or happy unplanned coincidence”. We may be seeing an example of that concept in one of the unintended consequences of the recently passed tax bill.

Yesterday the Associated Press reported the following:

In New Jersey and California, top Democratic officials want to let people make charitable contributions to the state instead of paying certain taxes. In Connecticut and New York, officials are exploring a switch from income taxes to new ones on payroll. A few governors have even called for tax cuts.

The ideas are bubbling up as state lawmakers begin their 2018 sessions and assess the effects of the Republican tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law last month. Lawmakers and governors in some states are grappling with how to protect their constituents.

Loosely translated this is what is happening as a result of the fact that states with low state taxes will no longer be subsidizing states with high state taxes. Under the current plan, if your real estate taxes were $20,000 a year, which is not unusual in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey or California, you knew you could deduct them on your federal income tax, so it really wasn’t that important to you. Now those deductions will be limited to $10,000 and you will still have to pay the balance to your state.

No one likes it when their gravy train is cut off.

The article further reports:

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his state-of-the-state speech to pledge to sue over the GOP tax plan, which he called “an assault” by the federal government. A lawsuit would add taxes to the growing list of Trump administration policies that Democratic states have challenged in court.

Other states have not committed to sue, but some leaders have indicated they’ll explore the idea.

“I’m certainly not a constitutional lawyer, but the notion that this is not constitutional is something we want to pursue,” said Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s Democratic governor-elect.

Officials in California and Connecticut also said this week they were considering legal options.

In high-tax states, officials have been focused on protecting taxpayers from the impact of a new $10,000 cap on deductions for paying state and local taxes. In California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, more than one-third of tax filers claim the state and local tax deduction on federal taxes; the average deduction in each state is over $15,000.

The Constitution gives Congress the right to levy taxes. Good luck with your lawsuit.

It is remotely possible that fiscal responsibility may be forced on some of our high-taxed states. When you consider that the Founding Fathers saw each state as a laboratory to experiment with unique ideas, it becomes obvious that some states did better than others in controlling expenses. Those states which controlled expenses have been subsidizing those that spent wildly for years. It is nice that things are changing. Now the governments of those states who have overspent need to change.

How Is This Not A Violation Of The Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Keep in mind when reading that amendment that the Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment, was added to the Constitution to further insure the rights of citizens–not the rights of the government. This Amendment is there to insure the rights of the people to possess arms.The Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord occurred because the British, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, were ordered to capture and destroy military supplies that were reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. From our beginnings as a nation, Americans have wanted to protect their right to bear arms.

California seems to have forgotten America‘s history and the U.S. Constitution. Breitbart posted an article today about new regulations going into effect in California starting today.

The article reports:

Currently, law-abiding Californians must buy their ammunition from a licensed in-state ammunition dealer. This means that Californians who buy ammunition online must have that ammo shipped to a licensed in-state dealer and pay that dealer a fee when picking up the ammo.

These controls immediately lessen the supply of ammunition, thereby driving up the price for those who demand it. Also, these controls set the stage for phase two of ammunition control, which will consist of requiring a point-of-sale background check for ammunition purchases starting January 1, 2019. The point-of-sale background check will also carry a processing fee, which will drive the price of ammunition even higher.

These controls are in addition to the requirement that law-abiding Californians obtain a firearm safety certificate from the state before buying a firearm, endure a ten-day waiting period for gun purchases, pass a universal background check, register all firearms with the state, and live under the shadow of gun confiscation laws. There is an “assault weapons” ban, a ban on campus carry, and a new law against K-12 teachers being armed to shoot back if under attack at school.

California also has a “good cause” requirement for concealed carry, which allows bureaucrats within the issuing system to strictly control the number of permits given to law-abiding citizens. This single gun control has resulted in limiting the number of permits issued in Los Angeles County to 197; Los Angles County has a population of 10.2 million, yet only 197 concealed carry permits have been issued to the law-abiding citizens residing there.

That looks like infringement to me! Unfortunately the result of these laws will be more guns in the hands of those who do not follow the law and fewer guns in the hands of those who do follow the law. That is not the way to lower the crime rate.

Where Are People Going?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article citing the statistics of where Americans are relocating. The article leaves me wondering if liberalism is so wonderful, why are Americans leaving the most liberal states:

The article reports:

Three Democratic-leaning states hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of people in 2016 and 2017 as crime, high taxes and, in some cases, crummy weather had residents seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

The exodus of residents was most pronounced in New York, which saw about 190,000 people leave the state between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week.

…Despite the massive domestic out-migration flow, New York’s net population grew slightly, largely due to high levels of international immigration and a so-called “natural increase” — the difference between births and deaths in a given year. New York’s net migration was about minus 60,000 residents, but the state had 73,000 more births than deaths, resulting in a net population growth of about 13,000.

 Illinois was not so fortunate. Long-beset by twin budget and pension crises and the erosion of its tax base, Illinois lost so many residents that it dropped from the fifth to the sixth-most populous state in 2017, losing its previous spot to Pennsylvania.

Just under 115,000 Illinois residents decamped for other states between July 2016 and July 2017. Since 2010, the Land of Lincoln has lost about 650,000 residents to other states on net, equal to the combined population of the state’s four largest cities other than Chicago, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

California was the third deep blue state to experience significant domestic out-migration between July 2016 and July 2017, and it couldn’t blame the outflow on retirees searching for a more agreeable climate. About 138,000 residents left the state during that time period, second only to New York.

However, because California was the top receiving state for international migrants, its net migration was actually 27,000. Add to that number a “natural increase” of 214,000 people, and California’s population grew by about just over 240,000, according to the Census Bureau.

The increased migration from other countries into California is a partial explanation of the fact that in recent decades California has gone from a reliably red state to a totally blue state.

All three of these states have high state taxes. Those taxes will no longer be fully deductible under the new tax laws. It will be interesting to see how the new tax laws impact future migration from these states.

The Message Hidden Inside The Message

I have been a fan of Peanuts cartoons ever since I was old enough to read them. I have visited the Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. I have eaten at the Warm Puppy Cafe and watched the skaters skate. I have Tivo‘d the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I watched it this morning. Then I read something that made me realize I had missed a major truth in the cartoon.

Yesterday The Federalist Papers posted an article about the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I love the special–it deals with the feeling some of us get when we are up to our necks in shopping and responsibilities and we are in danger of losing the meaning of Christmas. Obviously, the most important scene in the cartoon is the scene where Linus schools Charlie Brown in the true meaning of Christmas, but there is a hidden message in that scene which I had missed.

Here is the scene as posted on YouTube:

Notice that as Linus begins quoting the Biblical story of Christmas he is still holding on to his security blanket. That is not unusual, Linus is rarely seen not holding on to his security blanket. However, notice that just as Linus quotes the angel saying, “Fear not,” he drops his blanket. The message here is that Linus understands that his security is not in that blanket–it has a bigger source. Previously I had not noticed that.

Merry Christmas to everyone, and may you follow the example of Linus and ‘fear not.’

The Insanity Continues

The Daily Caller posted a story today about the latest protest of the National Anthem.

The article reports:

According to SFGate.com, the national anthem is a “racist song” and the NAACP wants to push state lawmakers to change it.

Alice Huffman, the president of the California chapter of the NAACP, said the song is “racist” and that it “doesn’t represent our community. It’s anti-black people.”

 The cites the song’s third verse, which is usually not sang, as evidence of its racist overtones. The third verse includes a line that says, “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

When the song was written in 1814, slavery was still legal in the United States.

Slavery is part of America’s history. It’s not a positive part, but it is a part. In 1814, slavery was legal.

Just as a point of information, according to a website called federalobserver:

…according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America.

And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.

Slavery is over in America. Unfortunately it is still alive and well in other parts of the world. Those protesting the National Anthem might do better to protest the places where slavery still exists.

Eliminating A Tax Break That Only Benefits The Rich

The class warfare that surrounds tax reform is bothersome. It’s not constructive and most of the information is false. The reason some tax cuts appear to benefit the rich is that the rich pay 80 percent of the taxes. They are the ones who need tax breaks. However, there is one tax break that generally impacts the rich that may disappear if the tax code is truly reformed.

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes. The article explains how this deduction impacts the residents of California:

Yes, California has high state income taxes. For instance, the rate for millionaires is 13.3 percent. It’s not insanely lower for the middle class, either: A married couple making $103,000 or more would pay a 9.3 percent rate, and while $103,000 might go far in plenty of areas in the United States, California’s outrageously high housing prices ensure that such a couple wouldn’t have an easy time paying all the bills.

But those Hollywood liberals raking in the big bucks and paying the 13.3 percent rate? Well, they’re not actually paying the 13.3 percent rate, thanks to our current U.S. tax code, which allows deduction for state and local taxes.

Let me explain. Currently, if anyone files taxes with itemized deductions, he can deduct his state and local taxes. In other words, if Joe Random makes $250,000 a year, and pays $26,000 in state and local taxes, and then donates an additional $14,000 to charity annually, he could deduct $40,000 from his salary—and pay federal taxes on only $210,000.

This deduction has big benefits for wealthy Californians. According to The Heritage Foundation’s research, that deduction means the effective tax rate for rich lefties in the Golden State is 8 percent, not 13.3 percent.

Essentially the rest of the country is subsidizing California’s high tax burden.

The article further reports:

Furthermore, for individuals pulling in over $200,000 a year, the average benefit of the state and local tax deduction is $6,296, according to Heritage research. For those making in the range of $40,000 to $50,000, that benefit shrinks to $134.

And it’s not just California whose blue-state government is currently raking in the perks thanks to the tax code.

“Just seven states receive 53 percent of the value of the state and local tax deduction: California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut,” write Rachel Greszler, Kevin D. Dayaratna, and Michael Sargent in their upcoming report for The Heritage Foundation.

Why should Americans from red states and lower-tax blue states be subsidizing other states? If states like California want to embrace big government, that’s fine—but they should also have to finance it themselves, not ask for a handout from the rest of the country.

Ending the deduction for state taxes would help make the income tax more equitable for everyone. There will be loud cries from the states it will impact, but it still needs to be done. Hopefully the Republicans will have the courage to do it.

Does The Truth Matter?

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about the reporting of the recent shooting in Fresno, California.

The article reports:

The Associated Press edited the words of a Muslim man who allegedly killed three white people in downtown Fresno Tuesday afternoon and shouted “Allahu Akbar!”

The suspect, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, holds fervent anti-Trump beliefs according to his social media profile, and he told police afterward that he hates white people.

Rather than reporting the gunman’s literal words, however, the AP reported the gunman as saying “God is great.”

If David Duke made a racist statement saying ‘n***s are inferior’, would the media report it as ‘white people are wonderful’? I don’t think so. Yet that is essentially what the Associated Press (AP) did. By translating the phrase into English, the report misleads the reader into believing that some sort of Christian fundamentalist with a grudge against President Trump killed these people. There is no way an ordinary person would interpret this as an act of domestic terrorism by a radical Muslim (which it was) from the AP report.

If Our Leaders Don’t Follow The Law, Why Should We?

On Sunday, Breitbart posted an article about California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon.

The article reports:

California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Léon (D-Los Angeles) said last Tuesday that “half his family” was in the country illegally, using false documents, and eligible for deportation under President Trump’s new executive order against “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

De Léon, who introduced the bill, made his remarks at a hearing in Sacramento on SB54, the bill to make California a “Sanctuary State.

…Testifying before the Senate Public Safety Committee, De Léon defended the widespread practice by illegal aliens of using fraudulent documents to work and obtain taxpayer-paid benefits, dismissing any concerns California citizens may have about being the target of identity theft.

In an interview the following day on KPCC 89.3’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle, De Léon expressed outrage that President Trump’s executive order would include those who possess fraudulent documents or committed identity theft to obtain a Social Security number.

“Someone simply who received or purchased a [fraudulent] Social Security card down at McArthur Park, or elsewhere in my district would be eligible immediately for mass deportation,” De Léon said (at 11:45 in the link above).

Senator De Leon was interviewed by Larry Mantle, a talk show host after making the above statements.

Senator De Leon further explained:

Host Larry Mantle asked him: “… First of all, I just — I want to make sure I understand correctly: You don’t think purchasing a phony Social Security card and number should be a deportable offense?”

De Léon replied: “I don’t think so … the vast majority of immigrants — hard working immigrants — have done that.  I can tell you I have family members specifically who came here as undocumented immigrants, and they did the same thing. That’s what you need to do to survive in this economy.”

Mantle objected: “But of course the problem is, — and I know people too — who’ve had their Social Security numbers and identities stolen as a result of that….”

De Léon minimized the problem, saying it was not the same as “Russian” hacking.

So it’s okay to steal someone’s Social Security number if you are here illegally. Wow. That is the leadership in the California legislature. Just wow.

 

 

Voter ID Would Solve This Problem

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the charge by Donald Trump that non-citizens voted in the last presidential election.

The article lists a few examples:

  • Election officials in a Kansas discovered that about a dozen newly sworn citizens had already voted in multiple elections when they offered to register them in 2015.
  • An investigation into a 1996 California House race in which Loretta Sanchez defeated incumbent Rep. Bob Dornan found 624 invalid votes by noncitizens in a race where Sanchez won by fewer than 1,000 votes.
  • A September report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found more than 1,000 noncitizens on Virginia‘s voter rolls, many of whom had cast votes in previous elections.
  • A district-court administrator estimated that up to 3% of the 30,000 people called for jury duty from voter-registration rolls over a two-year period were not U.S. citizens.

The article also quotes John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, who have both tracked voter fraud extensively,. They made the following statement, “we don’t know how big of a problem voter fraud really is because no systematic effort has ever been made to investigate it.”

The only way to know how much of a problem voter fraud is would be to investigate it and to purge voter rolls of illegal or deceased voters.

I believe President Obama encouraged illegals to vote. Here are some quotes from an interview President Obama did with the Latin-oriented YouTube channel mitu, millennial actress Gina Rodriguez asked Obama:

“Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens – and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country – are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will Immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us?”

Obama responded: “Not true, and the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, etc. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential.”

The video of that interview can be found here.

 

 

Some Common Sense Regarding The Inauguration Of President Trump

Holly Robichaud posted a column in The Boston Herald yesterday about the Inauguration of President Donald Trump that will occur this Friday.

The column states:

Failing to comprehend the mood of the country, Democrats have been working feverishly to undermine Trump in every way possible. In doing so they are holding back our country and further sabotaging any chance for a political comeback in two years.

Their collective tone-deafness emphasizes how out of touch and how much they are dedicated to the status quo of big government. Voters have had enough of the Washington political gamesmanship. That’s why the outsider candidate won the White House.

…Not only do Democrats need to give Trump a honeymoon, but so do establishment Republicans. They need to put aside their damaged egos. Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham are trying to hijack foreign policy and Marco Rubio is offering up some political payback. Being frustrated that Trump did what none of them could — win the presidency — is not acceptable.

The people deserve at least a 100-day honeymoon with Trump. I urge the Republican establishment and Democrats to work with our new president to get things done. The status quo is over! It is Trump time.

The thing to remember about the election of Donald Trump is that with the exception of parts of California and New York, Donald Trump won the popular vote by a wide margin.

This is the popular vote if you exclude California:

Popular vote total outside California:
Trump: 58,474,401
Clinton: 57,064,530
_________________
Trump: + 1.4 million

We have some serious problems globally and within America right now. Donald Trump has won the right to put his policies in place to solve them. Let’s at least give him a chance.

The Next “To Big To Fail”

On December 23, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the problem with public employee pension funds. These future pensions are generally unfunded liabilities that municipalities take on when negotiating with public employee unions. What generally happens is that employees are promised great pension benefits instead of instant raises. That way the municipality does not have to raise its immediate budget–it looks as if it is being fiscally sane, and it quietly kicks the can down the road. In most cases (if not all) no provision is made to pay for these future benefits. Well, there always is a place where the can is no longer kicked down the road because the road ended. California is nearing that place.

The article reports:

Last week, the 85-year-old California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, slashed its official investment forecast going forward, meaning that state and local governments, police and sheriffs departments, and even school districts will have to spend billions of dollars more to CalPERS to support their future retirees. And, no doubt, it will mean higher taxes for all.

Sadly, this move won’t be enough. For years, the state has projected steady investment returns of 7.5% for CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the nation. But returns have been below that. So now CalPERS is trimming its return to 7% per year. But, given the pension fund’s mismanagement and poor performance, even that may be too high. Today the fund is a little over 60% fully funded, meaning it will have to raise billions of dollars more to be solvent. That means higher contributions for government workers, and higher taxes for average citizens.

It’s no accident. “CalPERS has … steered billions of dollars into politically connected firms,” wrote Steve Malanga in City Journal, back in 2013. “And it has ventured into ‘socially responsible’ investment strategies, making bad bets that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Such dubious practices have piled up a crushing amount of pension debt, which California residents — and their children — will somehow have to repay.”

That’s happening now. California’s famous Highway Patrol, for instance, has grossly underfunded its pensions. So it got the state to agree to a $10 hike in car registration fees to help make up the shortfall. No doubt, it will be asking for more soon.

It’s not just California. Across the country, pension funds have been underfunded, mismanaged and in some cases looted by managers. Today, according to the Fed, pension funds across the country are $2 trillion in the red — after being overfunded as recently as the year 2000. That means tax hikes are coming, like it or not.

This is a nationwide problem. This is also not a new problem. In 2010 I posted an article about the shortfall in union pension money. The close connection between many local politicians and local union leaders is a major contributor to this problem.

The Investor’s Business Daily article concludes:

In a scathing, just-released report, the American Legislative Exchange details how “rather than investing to earn the best return for workers, (politicians and fund officials) use pension funds in a misguided attempt to boost their local economies, provide kickbacks to their political supporters, reward industries they like, punish those they don’t and bully corporations into silence and behaving as they see fit.”

It’s quite an indictment. It’s time for a national commission to look into the misconduct and mismanagement — which pose a clear danger to the financial system — and answer the scariest question of all: Have public employee pension funds become too big to fail?

We have just elected a businessman to the Presidency. Hopefully he will have the skill and the knowledge to deal with this upcoming disaster. What is happening in California will eventually impact the rest of the country.

Why We Need Financial Accountability In Washington

On Monday, The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the Pentagon‘s request that California members of the National Guard pay back their re-enlistment bonuses.

The article reports:

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.

Nothing like punishing the little people for the mistakes of the bureaucracy.

The article goes on to report the following:

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard’s incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution.

This is a disgrace. Promises were made, and even if those promises were made in error, they still need to be kept. To ask the members of the National Guard, who generally don’t earn much to begin with, to pay back thousands of dollars because the bureaucracy made a mistake is simply wrong. I also wonder why the California Congressional delegation chose to be quiet about the matter for two years.