Breaking: John Wiley Price Walks

April 28th, 2017

Just after I hit post on today’s LinkSwarm, I see this:

In a stunning defeat for federal prosecutors, John Wiley Price, the veteran politician who wields vast power and influence over Dallas County, was on Friday found not guilty of bribery and fraud.

The jury that considered whether he was abusing his public office to rake in about $1 million in secret profits over a decade also couldn’t reach a verdict on charges of tax evasion. The judge declared a mistrial on the deadlocked charges.

The U.S. attorney’s office will decide whether or not to retry Price on the tax charges.

The prosecutors badly mishandled their case, being forced to turn over evidence withheld from the defense on multiple occasions. While I have ample reason to believe Price is guilty, I also believe the jury’s verdict was a logical one given how poorly the case had been presented.

LinkSwarm for April 28, 2017

April 28th, 2017

It’s been a week, so enjoy an extra-late Friday LinkSwarm

  • There’s lots of meat in President Trump’s tax reform proposal:

    Individual Reform

    Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:

  • Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets of to%, 25% and 35%
  • Doubling the standard deduction
  • Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
  • Simplification:

  • Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers
  • Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Repeal the death tax
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income
  • Business Reform

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests
  • Texas House passes anti-Santuary City bill that fines officials for violating federal immigration laws.
  • North Korean ballistic missile test fails. Cue the sad trombone.

  • Obama’s Iran deal was even worse than we thought. “By dropping charges against major arms targets, the administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces.”
  • If Democrats keep moving left, they could experience another election like 1972:

    The highest-profile Democratic-party supporters are increasingly smug Hollywood actors, rich Wall Street and Silicon Valley elitists, and embittered members of the media, along with careerist identity groups and assorted protest movements — a fossilized 1972 echo chamber.

    Democrats’ politically correct messaging derides opponents as deplorable racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes, and nativists. That shrill invective only further turns off Middle America. Being merely anti-Trump is no more a successful Democratic agenda than being anti-Nixon was in 1972.

  • If the election were held today, Trump would still beat Clinton.
  • Former Mayor of Hubbard, Ohio pleads guilty to raping a four year old. Go ahead, guess which party he’s a member of.
  • The Other McCain does his part for sexual assault awareness month.
  • The media does indeed live in a bubble, both geographic and ideological, of its own making.
  • Hundreds of illegal voters in North Carolina. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Nancy Pelosi: tried, drunk or stroke? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • 107 Cancer Papers Retracted Due To Peer Review Fraud. But don’t worry: All climate science is completely on the level…
  • When Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke swore up and down he never hire any campaign consultants, what he meant was he’d hire some.
  • “Facebook and Google confirmed as victims of $100M phishing scam.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump as a systems thinking President.
  • NYPD corruption scandal. Bribes? Check. Guns? Check. Prostitutes? Check. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Marine Le Pen heads to a runoff with Emmanuel Macron on May 7. Is there a better figurehead for modern Globalism than a Socialist investment banker?
  • Dishonest medical equipment startup Theranos used a shell company to secretly buy outside lab equipment to actually run the lab tests they were faking as coming from their own equipment. And check out that picture caption: “[CEO] Elizabeth Holmes speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.” Because of course she did.
  • Liberals love denouncing the imaginary Christian theocracy of The Handmaid’s Tale (now a miniseries) because it keeps them from having to think about the real Islamic ones oppressing women all over the world right at this very moment.
  • Related: “Lesbian Couple Discover Islamic Culture During Exciting International Trip.”
  • “When God sends a Plague of Wild Boars against you, he’s done sending messages, and is now sending armored bacon.”
  • Less than half of Democrats know a gun owner.
  • Richard Gere blacklisted in Hollywood on China’s orders.
  • Sonny Bunch has some “helpful” advice for Democrats. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nordstrom selling $425 fake muddy jeans. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • You too can own a baseball inscribed to Justice Antonin Scalia by Joe DiMaggio.
  • “My Boyfriend Ate Nothing But Pineapple For A Week And Now His Dick Is Covered In Bees.”
  • SchadESPNfreude

    April 27th, 2017

    You may have heard that ESPN has laid off at least 100 on-air employees. ESPN is the latest company to choose between being liberal and being profitable, and choosing liberal.

    You want to watch the Lakers game? Okay, but first you’re going to hear about Caitlyn Jenner. Want some NFL highlights? We’ll get to those eventually, but coming up next will be a discussion about how North Carolina is run by racist, homophobic bigots. You want to see the box scores of today’s baseball games? You can watch those at the bottom of the hour, but right now some D-list network talent would like to lecture you about gun control. After that we’ll have a panel discussion about how much courage it takes to turn your back on the American flag.

    The most interesting aspect of the mass layoffs on Wednesday isn’t that they happened, it’s who the network targeted. Not the high-priced carnival barkers and the know-nothing loudmouths doing their best to make Rachel Maddow proud. Nope. ESPN targeted sports reporters. In an effort to cut some fat from its bottom line, ESPN exchanged a scalpel for a chainsaw, skipped the fat entirely, and went straight to cutting out muscle.

    If ESPN wants to once again be the worldwide leader in sports, it should refocus on covering sports, which used to be a refuge from politics and the news. America is politicized enough already, and if its citizens want political news, several cable outlets do political news far better than ESPN ever could. Instead of doing sports and politics poorly, perhaps the network could return to the thing that it used to do better than everyone else in the world: cover live sports.

    To be sure there were a lot of other contributing factors (rising fixed costs from overpaying for sports, people dropping cable, etc.), but the relentless left-wing culture war slant was among the most avoidable of all ESPN’s self-inflicted wounds.

    More reactions:

    A Bad American Thinker Piece on Marijuana

    April 26th, 2017

    Paul Ingrassia makes “The Case against Legalizing Marijuana.” It’s a bad piece because it asks the wrong questions, and thus comes to the wrong conclusions. It approaches the question from a harm/benefit analysis angle, without ever pausing to ask: Why is this the government’s concern?

    The question it doesn’t ask is: Is it the federal government’s job to continue federal marijuana prohibition?

    Missing from this piece: Any mention of the Constitution. Where in the Constitution did the founding fathers list control of what people might grow in their own ground as an enumerated power of the federal government?

    Nowhere.

    The statutory standing of the federal government to do so rests on a tendentiously expansive reading to the commerce clause in Wickard vs. Filburn, which radically expands the power and scope of the federal government. Absent interstate commerce, federal marijuana regulation is neither necessary nor proper.

    The question of benefit or harm of marijuana is irrelevant to the question of whether the federal government has the enumerated constitutional power to regulate marijuana if it is not being sold across state lines. It does not. Therefore, under the Tenth Amendment, federal marijuana prohibition should be ended and the power of non-interstate commerce regulation on marijuana should devolve to the states, to regulate or not as voting citizens and their representatives see fit.

    Further nits:

  • “Additionally, with legalization follows an implicit societal acknowledgment that marijuana use is benign or even advantageous.” No it doesn’t. Ingrassia makes the erroneous assumption that it is government’s job to decide what’s “good” or “bad” for people. Spending all your time drinking and watching reality TV is unquestionably bad for you, but it’s not government’s job (much less the federal government’s job) to regulate such behavior.
  • “Libertarians likewise should take a guarded outlook when evaluating Colorado, their magnum opus. Indeed, tax revenues are up – but at what cost? Is the inevitable uptick in pot users an opportunity cost worth having for such revenues? Given its novelty, the wider societal implications are not fully explored, and the economics of the issue is far from definitive.” This makes the erroneous assumption that Libertarians believe that all that is not permitted should be forbidden rather than the reverse.
  • Chelsea Clinton Watch: “Please, God, Stop”

    April 25th, 2017

    The worst thing about doing a Chelsea Clinton Watch is that anyone, anywhere, would ever need to do a Chelsea Clinton Watch. Yet here we are.

    Conservatives would be happy to ignore Chelsea Clinton (at least when she’s not aiding and abetting bribery at the Clinton Foundation) if only the mainstream media would do the same.

    Alas, the Democratic Media Complex doesn’t want to hold up their end of that bargain.

    So enjoy(?) this first (hopefully only?) roundup of Chelsea Clinton news:

  • “Please, God, Stop Chelsea Clinton from Whatever She Is Doing. The last thing the left needs is the third iteration of a failed political dynasty.”

    Also:

    “Increased Chelsea exposure is tied closely to political despair and, in especially intense cases, the bulk purchasing of MAGA hats.”

    Thanks you sir, may I have another?

    “Reading anything by Chelsea Clinton—tweets, interviews, books—is best compared to taking in spoonfuls of plain oatmeal that, periodically, conceal a toenail clipping.”

    And this:

    The crude conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton craved adoration and Hillary Clinton craved power. But Chelsea Clinton seems to have a more crippling want: fashionability—of the sort embraced by philanthropic high society. So you tell The New York Times that your dream dinner party would include James Baldwin, Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Jane Jacobs, and Jane Austen, and discussion would be about how “people and communities can evolve to be more inclusive, more kind, have a greater and broader sense of solidarity, while still respecting individual liberties; what provokes or blocks those changes; and what stories might resonate today to encourage us toward kindness, respect, and mutual dignity.” You almost have to bow down before someone who could host Shakespeare for dinner and make the agenda wind up sounding like a brochure for the Altria Group. At least Kafka would be on hand to capture the joy of the evening.

  • Kevin D. Williamson is also not a fan:

    Chelsea Clinton, most recently lionized on the cover of Variety, is a 37-year-old multi-millionaire who has never uttered an interesting word about any subject at any time during the course of her life. Judging from the evidence of her public statements, she has never had an original thought — it isn’t clear that she has had a thought at all. In tribute to her parents, she was given a series of lucrative sinecures, producing a smattering of sophomoric videos for NBC at a salary of $600,000 a year. She later went more formally into the family business, leaving her fake job at NBC for a fake job in her parents’ fake charity. She gave interviews about how she just couldn’t get interested in money and bought a $10 million Manhattan apartment that stretches for the better part of a city block.

    And, since her mother’s most recent foray into ignominious defeat, she has been inescapable: magazine covers, fawning interviews, talk of running her in New York’s 17th congressional district. The Democrats are doing their best to make Chelsea happen.

    And, who knows, it might work. It would be tempting to write her off as a know-nothing rich kid who has made a living off her family connections while operating one of the world’s most truly asinine Twitter accounts, but . . . well, you know.

    But, for Pete’s sake, stop it. Have a little self-respect, Democrats. Build Bill Clinton a statue or . . . whatever. Send him your daughters like a bunch of bone-in-the-nose primitives paying tribute to the tribal chieftain. But stop trying to inflict this empty-headed, grasping, sanctimonious, risible, simpering, saccharine little twerp on American public life.

  • The problem with Chelsea is the same one Democrats faced with Hillary. She’s unapproachable and scripted, unnatural in a crowd, and seemingly condescending to the camera. Anyone not previously employed by the Obama or Clinton administrations can see it. They can smell it. And they’ve made it clear (twice now) that they don’t like it.”
  • The American Interest tells us why the Chelsea boom won’t go away.

    The loyalists who make up this apparatus want—or even need—for the gears to keep spinning. And for that, the machine needs to offer the promise of future influence. Otherwise, donations to the Clinton Foundation would dry up; speaking engagements would become less lucrative; Clinton-backed spin organizations would wither; and dozens of jobs would disappear. All this is to say that the strange persistence of Chelsea boosterism does not come out of nowhere; it is the product of a supremely well-organized political organization revving its engines. And it will not be shut down voluntarily.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Video game writer Ian Boudreau offers the case against Chelsea Clinton in Tweet form:

  • Finally, if the MSM is going to push Chelsea as a “glamorous icon,” then we need to puncture that idea with the cruel truth of how absolutely devoid of glamour she is.

    How cruel? This cruel:

  • Ending the baleful influence of the Clinton family should be a bipartisan issue. Evidence suggests that from, oh, 1994 on (and 2001 at the outside), Democrats have suffered for the misdeeds of the Clintons far more than Republicans. Indeed, it is far more in Democrats interests than Republicans to see the irrational boomlet for Chelsea Clinton end, as she sucks time and attention from potential Democratic candidates with actual talent and ability.

    And it’s in my interest to see her go away, as I really don’t want to make Chelsea Clinton Watch a regular item…

    Andrew Cuomo’s Fishy Book Royalties

    April 24th, 2017

    A few days ago news broke of New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fishy book royalties:

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported his income last year more than doubled from the previous year, thanks to another round of royalty payments on a 2014 HarperCollins memoir [All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life] that saw lackluster sales.

    In all, Cuomo has made $783,000 from HarperCollins for his book. The book sold 3,200 copies since it was published in the fall of 2014, according to tracking company NPD BookScan.

    That works out to royalty payments to Cuomo of $245 per book.

    It’s not unknown for a political book to get a big advance and bomb. What is unknown is getting big royalties on such a book two years after publication, since it will not have “earned out” it’s advance and thus no royalties should be forthcoming.

    So how could a book earn royalties if it wasn’t selling enough copies to according to BookScan?

    One possibility is that HarperCollins is somehow passing money on to Cuomo for political favors. Since HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., this seems unlikely

    Another, far more likely possibility is that Cuomo is pulling a Jim Wright. Wright, then Democratic Speaker of the House, published a slim volume of supposedly pithy aphorisms, Reflections of a Public Man, the vast majority of copies being sold via bulk sales to Wright’s political cronies (including unions) for which he was paid an unheard of 55% royalties on the cover price. Stephen King and J. K. Rowling don’t even get remotely that much per hardback. (E-book sales are a different matter, but physical books still outsell e-books.)

    Wright Reflections

    It’s quite likely that bulk sales of Cuomo’s book to unions wouldn’t show up on BookScan, which only tracks regular book channel sales. (Amazon, for example, shows that Cuomo’s book is the 337,666 best-selling book they stock.) And, like Wright’s, those sales would likely count as an illegal campaign contribution, assuming the unions in question had already hit New York state contribution limits.

    Even by the standards of the Democratic Party, Cumo has gone out of his way to do special favors for unions.

    The book royalty mystery is just another in the long list ethical lapses and corruption swirling around Cuomo. He famously created a commission to root out state corruption, then abruptly shut it down when it got too close to his own honeypots.

    Andrew Cuomo is, of course, the son of a far more charismatic New York governor, Mario Cuomo, as well as the brother of CNN host Chris Cuomo. (He also happens to be married to a Kennedy.) If he had any more silver spoons he’d he could open a shop on Martha’s Vineyard. I would suggest that the overclass cease foisting their hellish drop as future politicians, but we all know they’re not going to stop…

    LinkSwarm for April 21, 2017

    April 21st, 2017

    Yesterday’s huge Texas vs. California update sucked up all my time, so today’s LinkSwarm is a little lite.

  • Texas residents should remember that tomorrow kicks off a preparedness sales tax holiday, giving you a chance to purchase batteries, fire extinguishers, etc. without paying sales tax on them.
  • How “diversity” is tearing France apart.
  • Another Paris shooting, another known wolf.
  • #Winning. “If your critics are reduced to complaining about what might be in your tax returns, you already won.”
  • USA Today staff too stupid to know the difference between tons and kilotons.
  • The real Russian stooge:

    The circumstantial evidence is mounting that the Kremlin succeeded in infiltrating the US government at the highest levels.

    How else to explain a newly elected president looking the other way after an act of Russian aggression? Agreeing to a farcically one-sided nuclear deal? Mercilessly mocking the idea that Russia represents our foremost geo-political foe?

    Accommodating the illicit nuclear ambitions of a Russian ally? Welcoming a Russian foothold in the Middle East? Refusing to provide arms to a sovereign country invaded by Russia? Diminishing our defenses and pursuing a Moscow-friendly policy of hostility to fossil fuels?

    All of these items, of course, refer to things said or done by President Barack Obama.

  • A strategy for repealing ObamaCare. How much inside baseball legislative wonkery can you stomach? Though it starts with full repeal. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nothing says “class” quite like Democrats openly cheering the news that suicides among white males are up. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Controlling the border: “It’s not that there’s a new sheriff in town – it’s the fact that after eight years of Obama’s open-borders lawlessness there finally is a sheriff in town.”
  • The Trump Administration has actually carried out several successful reforms that got very little press.
  • You know all that “polls show Ted Cruz could lose in 2018” blather? Not so fast.
  • Scott Adams. “The people who know the most about science don’t think complex climate prediction models are credible science, and they are right.”
  • Trump gets U.S. aid worker held in Egypt for three years released. Naturally NYT buries the story on page 10…
  • 1. India’s government does yet another stupid thing. 2. “Technically correct is the best kind of correct.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Hognose of WeaponsMan RIP.
  • Oxygen-deprived naked mole rats turn into plants. Sort of.
  • Woman misunderstands, brings therapy dog to furry convention. Happy ending: “Furrycon ended up raising $10,000 for Pets for Vets.”
  • Texas vs. California Update for April 20, 2017

    April 20th, 2017

    This didn’t get done while I was doing my taxes, but here, at last, is another giant Texas vs. California update:

  • Appeals court finds San Diego’s pension reform legal. “California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.” San Diego transitioned to a 401K style program. Naturally public employee unions screamed bloody murder and sought to have the reforms overturned. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Unions attempts to role back San Diego’s pension reforms amounted to an attempt to retroactively apply collective bargaining to older laws.
  • More: It’s “shocking the agency’s officials would have even argued that a union’s right to negotiate pay and benefits trumps the public’s right to hold an election.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California exports its working poor to Texas.

    Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

    About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

    Snip.

    The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

  • Hat tip for the above is this Zero Hedge piece, which notes “By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as more and more residents leave, the burden to fund the state’s welfare exuberance will fall more and more on the wealthier (that actually pay taxes). Rather than secession, perhaps it’s time for the wealthy to join ‘the poor’ exodus and beat the crowd out of California…”
  • A look at a California tent city of 1,000 people.
  • Kevin Williamson on why Houston’s diversity is different than the liberal ideal of same:

    Living in a place where it is less of a struggle to pay the rent or make the mortgage payment does indeed chill most everybody out a little bit. But it is not at all obvious that what Houston — or Texas at large — enjoys is in fact a culture that is generally welcoming to immigrants in a way that is different from Scottsdale or Trenton or Missoula. What Texas does have is something close to the opposite of that: a large and very well-integrated Mexican-American community. Anglos in Texas aren’t welcoming to Latinos because we are in some way uniquely open to the unfamiliar, but because they are not unfamiliar.

    This matters in ways that are not obvious if you didn’t grow up with it. My native West Texas, along with the whole of the border and much of the rest of the state, has a longstanding, stable Anglo–Latin hybrid culture. Houston does, too, but Houston, being a very large city, is a little more complicated; I had lunch yesterday with a conservative leader who chatted amiably with the staff in Spanish at . . . an Indian restaurant.

    That robust hybrid culture ensures that the people Anglos hear speaking Spanish are not always poor, not mowing the lawn or cleaning a hotel room, that they are not usually immigrants, not people who cannot speak or read English — not alien. They are neighbors who, if you are lucky, make Christmas tamales. And they might be your employer or your employee, the guy who sells you a car or approves your car loan, a pastor at your church, a professor, a member of your Ultimate Frisbee team . . . or an illegal immigrant, or a criminal, or someone who is in some way unassimilated, alien, or threatening. When one out of three people in your county is “Hispanic” — a word that in Texas overwhelmingly means “Mexican-American” — then you tend to know Hispanic people of all descriptions: the good, the bad, and the ordinary.

    That is not the case in, say, Arlington, Va., which does not have a large and well-assimilated Mexican-American population but does have a large and poorly assimilated population of Spanish-speaking immigrants. The two things are not the same — more like opposites. Add to that the fact, sometimes lost on Anglos, that there is no such thing as a “Hispanic” culture or population, that people with roots in Mexico do not think of themselves as being part of a single cultural group that includes people from Central America and South America. A while back, I heard an older fellow of Mexican background complaining about the Guatemalans moving into his area — and he was an illegal immigrant. That’s a funny reality: In Texas, even some of the illegals don’t think that we can let just anybody cross the border. But ethnic politics is a strange business: In West Texas, young whites without much money (college students and the like) who would never for a moment seriously consider moving into a low-income black neighborhood will not give a second thought to moving into a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

    All of which is not to say that Texas does not have a fair number of poorly assimilated Spanish-speaking immigrants: It surely does, especially in the big cities. (People forget how urban Texas is: Six of the 20 largest U.S. cities are in Texas.) But it is easier to accommodate — and, one hopes, to assimilate — those newcomers when you have a culture of mutual familiarity and trust, which is based not on newcomers but on oldcomers. Texas’s ancient Mexican-American community — whose members famously boast, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” — is a kind of buffer that makes absorbing newcomers less stressful.

  • Leaving coastal California is a ‘no-brainer‘ for some as housing costs rise.”

    Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.

    They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.

    So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.

  • “California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities.” Versus zero for Texas. So they have the nation’s most stringent pollution laws…and the nation’s worst air pollution. (Golf clap) (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore’s Twitter feed.)
  • 16 Reasons Not To Live In California. Samples (snippage implied):

    #2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row…
    #3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation. For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.
    #4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.
    #5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse. According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.

  • CalSTRS’ funded status falls to 64% as deficit grows $21 billion following rate reduction.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas is on its way to passing a conservative budget.
  • A Democrat-sponsored bill in the California legislature guarantees free healthcare for all, without specifying a way to pay for it. Maybe they’ll institute a unicorn tax… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection spells out exactly what Californians would actually get under the plan:
    • With no choice, there is no competition, unless you are wealthy enough to leave the state for medical care. However, this is a golden opportunity for medical tourism companies!

    • There will be a limited supply of doctors, as those who don’t want to go through the bureaucratic hoops for procedures and payment will also leave the state.
    • Clinicians will be forced to make their treatment decisions based on the state-run rules: Why choose surgery when a pill will do?
    • Shockingly, some funds need to be directed to other budget items instead of perks for illegal aliens (refer to Oroville Dam for a handy reference).
    • Medicare, the system that is the foundation for this proposal, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse (e.g., 3 Floridians bilked the system for $1 billion).
    • Co-pays and deductibles will be transformed into monies paid for non-state government healthcare services (like the Canadians who cross into the United States to obtain MRI’s and other innovative treatments).
    • Public oversight will translate into political wheeling-and-dealing strictly for the benefit of those plugged into the rigged system. An indication that Sacramento may be headed for such a system, I offer this piece published in The Sacramento Bee for consideration: Why California must accept more corruption.
    • The cost of drugs has soared, despite Obamacare. As an example, I had a skin medication that would cost me $150 for an annual supply. The same medication now costs nearly $1000 a year, and I no longer use it.
  • In order to further bestow members of the ruling Democratic coalition with rights and privileges mere citizens don’t enjoy, California’s Senate Bill 807 proposes making teachers exempt from state income tax. Some pigs are evidently way, way more equal than others…
  • Teacher’s unions have helped create California’s teacher shortage. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California hikes its gas taxes yet again, making them the highest in the nation.
  • Pension liabilities are pinching in Gilroy, California: “Gilroy’s three biggest public employers have amassed more than $183 million in unpaid pension liabilities. That’s likely more than ever, and a figure that, absent major reform, will grow and siphon budget funds from essential public services, say officials and pension experts. In Gilroy, 23 city pensions exceed $100,000 and more than 60 exceed $70,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Court to determine whether California’s public employee union members can simply continue to buy years of service rather than actually working them.
  • Silicon Valley slows down. “Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August.”
  • What the lords of Silicon Valley actually think: “Inequality is a feature, not a bug.”
  • Hold on to your seats for this one: California’s government actually did something right, legalizing the selling of home-made food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Hotel construction continues apace in the United States, and dozens of new properties are expected to open this year in two major corporate and tourist destinations, New York and Los Angeles. But the three other cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to the industry research company STR, are all in Texas — Dallas, Houston and Austin.” Notice the implied condescension in the NYT piece: New York and LA are real places, whereas Dallas, Houston and Austin are “other cities.”

    More:

    The number of new hotels in Texas is notable. In 2017, Marriott plans to open eight hotels in Austin, seven in Houston and 23 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the company. Ninety-two other Marriott hotels are in the planning stages for the three metro areas. Hilton says it is planning for 75 new hotels there. InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 100 hotel projects in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metro areas, including the Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and Staybridge Suites brands.

    Austin is home to the state capital; the University of Texas at Austin, a campus with 50,000 students; and a long list of technology companies. Its growing recreation and dining scene is attracting more leisure travelers, filling guest rooms on weekends and making the city “more of a seven-day-a-week hotel market,” according to Tim Powell, the managing director for development for Hilton’s southwest region.

  • A bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of California plays Santa Claus with a bank’s money.
  • Just what illegal aliens cost California.
  • “L.A. To Worsen Housing Shortage With New Rent Controls.”
  • “California Dems Promise Taxpayer Dollars to Defend Illegal Immigrants.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Calpers Is Sick of Paying Too Much for Private Equity…Pension fund’s private-equity returns were 12.3% over 20 years, but they would have been 19.3% without fees and costs.” (WSJ hoops apply.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Texas top state for number of new, expanded corporate facilities for fifth consecutive year.”
  • It’s not just Oroville Dam that needs maintenance: a section of Highway 50 collapsed in February. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency.”
  • “A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam.” Namely for noting that Hayden supported “a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.” Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) came to America as a Vietnamese refugee, and Democrats were incensed she was allowed to speak truth to power when it came to hagiography for one of their own. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform.'”
  • Selling carbon indulgences just isn’t what it used to be under Trump:

    February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state.

    Results for last week’s auction were posted Wednesday morning, revealing that just 16.5 percent of the 74.8 million metric tons of emission allowances were sold at the floor price of $13.57 per ton.

    The state auctions emission allowances to polluters and speculators as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are supposed to be spent on public programs to slow climate change.

    February’s auction is being closely watched by market analysts because the last three quarterly auctions in 2016 posted sub-par results.

    Almost all of February’s proceeds went either to California’s utilities, who sell allowances they receive free from the Air Resources Board, or the Canadian province of Quebec, which offers emission allowances through California. Both are first in line when auction proceeds are apportioned.

    The ARB was offering 43.7 million tons of state-owned emission allowances, but sold just 602,340 tons of advance 2020 allowances, which means the state will see only $8.2 million, rather than the nearly $600 million it could have received from a sellout.

    (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore on Twitter.)

  • California’s high speed train-to-nowhere is still doomed.
  • “Six former LA safety officers collected pension payouts of over $1,000,000 apiece last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Oakland Fire Chief Announces Retirement Days After Pension Vested, Warehouse Fire Probe Continues.”
  • San Rafael has the the highest pension costs in California by percentage of their total budget (18%). “Money that goes to one thing can’t go to another thing, so if you’re spending almost $1 out of $5 on pension payments, that is a lot less money available for tangible public services such as filling potholes, keeping the library open and making sure there is sufficient police protection.”
  • Remember Anthony Silva, mayor of formerly bankrupt Stockton? He’s been arrested again, this time for embezzling “at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years.” That would be the same Anthony Silva who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose own guns were stolen and used in crimes, and who was also arrested for “for playing strip poker with minor and giving them alcohol while at a youth camp.” Given such august leadership, I can’t imagine how Stockton went bankrupt… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • New survey of the Permian Basin in Texas shows that there’s another 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil than previously thought.
  • More on the fracking boom:

  • Minimum wage hike watch: Wendy’s to try out more than 1000 self-serve kiosks.
  • San Francisco’s wage hike is already closing restaurants. Especially those that serve affordable food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • California’s “hide actor’s age” law struck down.
  • “Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty on obstruction of justice and other charges.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I would like to celebrate Austin Austin having the shortest commute time in this study of major cities except, since I now experience that commute time every weekday, I can tell you that 16 minute estimate is utter crap. Maybe Austin is the best if the commute time for other cities is similarly underestimated. By contrast, the Austin rental rate of $476 a week seems slightly high, while the London rate of $489 a week seems way too low…
  • Kubota Tractor Corp. finished its’ U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Grapevine, Texas. (Previously.)
  • “West Plano’s $3 billion Legacy West development has landed another big name business. Boeing will locate the headquarters for its newly formed global services division in the 250-acre mixed-use project at the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121.”
  • Los Angeles-based fashion company Nasty Gal declares bankruptcy. Also, nice proofreading on this subhead, LA Times: “Why couldn’t they the company hold on to shoppers?” Note: That’s still up for a story published February 24th…
  • Los Angeles clothing brand BCBG Max Azria Group, owner of Hervé Leger, also filed for bankruptcy.
  • The City of St. Louis sues the NFL, and all 32 NFL teams, over the Rams relocation to Los Angeles.
  • “L.A. County Sheriff’s Department switches from silver to gold belt buckles at a cost of $300,000.” That’s some might fine resource allocation there, Lou… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Easy On, Easy Ossoff: GA06 Goes To Runoff

    April 19th, 2017

    Democrats were hoping to pick up a House seat in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Newt Gingrich’s old district most recently held by Republican Tom Price, who became President Trump’s Health and Human services secretary. Though Price regularly won the district with more than 60% of the vote, Trump only beat Clinton there by 1.5%, making Democrats think they could flip it in a nationalized special election with documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (who doesn’t even live in the district) running against multiple Republicans in a jungle primary, and poured $8.3 million (95% of it from out of state) into the race.

    And early last night it looked like that strategy might pay off, as Ossoff opened a big lead in early voting, only to see it whittled away as voting-day returns came in. He ended up with 48.1% of the vote and will face Republican Karen Handel on June 20. Adding up all the remaining Democratic votes in the race only gets Ossoff to 48.9%. With results so close, both Democrats and Republicans will no doubt pour millions into the runoff.

    Next up on the Special Election Calendar: the May 2 primary for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, where Republicans will be favored to retain OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s seat in the general election, which also falls on June 20.

    UK PM Theresa May Calls Early Elections

    April 18th, 2017

    This is unexpected (at least to me): UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a plan to call a snap general election on June 8, despite the ruling Tories already having won an absolute parliamentary majority in 2015.

    Her statement:

    I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on 8 June.

    “I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.

    “Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.

    “Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

    “We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back.

    “And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.

    “We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.

    “That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

    “This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.

    “At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.

    “In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.

    “The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.

    “Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.

    “They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.

    “Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe.

    “If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.

    “Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.

    “So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.

    “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.

    “And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on 8 June. That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons.

    “So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, you have criticised the government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament.

    “This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.

    “Let us tomorrow vote for an election, let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.

    “And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your prime minister, or weak and unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union.

    “Every vote for the Conservatives means we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.

    “It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

    “So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.”

    A snap election is a bold, risky move for May, but one that could pay off. With none of the post-Brexit vote gloom-and-doom scenarios of the Remain faction having materialized, Brexit’s popularity itself at all-time highs, the economy strong and the unpopular Jeremy Corbyn still leading Labour, May obviously thought now was the time to strike. She might be right: the Tories stand to pick up a lot of support from UKIP now that their raison d’etre is gone, while Scottish National Party looks poised to lock out Labour in the north yet again. But the downside is that if the Tories lose power, she goes down as the shortest serving PM since Bonar Law.