Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

New Frontiers in Poor Life Choices

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

A good bit of education used to be dedicated to helping people avoid poor life choices. “Gallant studies hard to pass tests, while Goofus knocks over liquor stores to feed his meth habit.” But some people go above and beyond the call of duty to make the worst lifestyle choices possible.

Meet Matthew Stager.

U.S. Marshals need help tracking down a convicted sex offender recently released from a Virginia prison after he failed to show up at a transitional center in Texas.

News outlets report authorities say 44-year-old Matthew Ezekiel Stager was released Thursday from the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg.

He was supposed to check into the transitional center that day but never did.

Marshals say it’s possible Stager is in the Hampton Roads area or has recently traveled through the region.

Authorities say Stager has known connection to multiple states and has a history of drug abuse and mental health concerns.

You don’t say.

Marshals describe Stager as a white or Hispanic man, about 145 pounds, 5 feet 8 inches tall with blond or strawberry hair. He has tattoos on his face, head and neck.

Anyone with information can contact the U.S. Marshals at 1-877-926-8332.

So if you see this freak, Uncle Sam will likely make it worth your time…

Update: As per commenter Roadgeek below, he’s been captured. And another tidbit: “He is known to go by the aliases Moon Black and Jesse Crew.”

Trump is Serious About Securing America’s Borders

Monday, February 6th, 2017

President Trump’s first two weeks have been extremely busy, including making good on his campaign promises to secure America’s borders in the form of three Executive Orders:

  • Executive Order 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, which states:

    It is the policy of the executive branch to:

    (a) secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism;

    (b) detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating Federal or State law, including Federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations;

    (c) expedite determinations of apprehended individuals’ claims of eligibility to remain in the United States;

    (d) remove promptly those individuals whose legal claims to remain in the United States have been lawfully rejected, after any appropriate civil or criminal sanctions have been imposed; and

    (e) cooperate fully with States and local law enforcement in enacting Federal-State partnerships to enforce Federal immigration priorities, as well as State monitoring and detention programs that are consistent with Federal law and do not undermine Federal immigration priorities.

  • Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which states:

    It is the policy of the executive branch to:

    (a) Ensure the faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States, including the INA, against all removable aliens, consistent with Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution and section 3331 of title 5, United States Code;

    (b) Make use of all available systems and resources to ensure the efficient and faithful execution of the immigration laws of the United States;

    (c) Ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law;

    (d) Ensure that aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed; and

    (e) Support victims, and the families of victims, of crimes committed by removable aliens.

    Pursuant to which, Executive Order 13768 further states:

    Enforcement Priorities. In executing faithfully the immigration laws of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall prioritize for removal those aliens described by the Congress in sections 212(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 235, and 237(a)(2) and (4) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6)(C), 1225, and 1227(a)(2) and (4)), as well as removable aliens who:

    (a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;

    (b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;

    (c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;

    (d) Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;

    (e) Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;

    (f) Are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or

    (g) In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

  • Executive Order 13769: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, which states:

    It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

    Sec. 3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.

    (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

    (b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

    (c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

    (d) Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

    (e) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

    (f) At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

    (g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

    (h) The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

  • Much has been written abut these executive orders, a great deal of which is wrong:

  • First, it was not the Trump Administration who selected the seven nations covered by Executive Order 13769, it was the Obama Administration, which in February of 2016 added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to “Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.”
  • Because they were chosen by the Obama Administration, the decision of which countries to include had nothing to do with Trump’s business interests.
  • It’s not a “Muslim ban”:

    What did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones.

    Let’s analyze the key provisions, separate the fact from the hysteria, and introduce just a bit of historical perspective.

    First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.

  • Despite what various liberal protestors would have you believe, President Trump’s Executive Orders are firmly within the bounds of existing federal immigration laws:

    Federal immigration law also includes Section 1182(f), which states: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate” (emphasis added).

    Section 1182(f) plainly and sweepingly authorizes the president to issue temporary bans on the entry of classes of aliens for national-security purposes. This is precisely what President Trump has done. In fact, in doing so, he expressly cites Section 1182(f), and his executive order tracks the language of the statute (finding the entry of aliens from these countries at this time “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States”).

  • The mainstream media would like you to believe that Trump’s orders limiting immigration are widely unpopular. That’s not the case:

    Politically, the open borders rhetoric helps Trump. Even in California, three-quarters of the population, according to a recent UC Berkeley survey, oppose sanctuary cities. Overall, more Americans favor less immigration than more. Most, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, also want tougher border controls and increased deportations. They also want newcomers to come legally and adopt the prevailing cultural norms, including English.

  • You know how all your liberal Facebook friends say that “no Muslim refugees” have been involved in terrorism in the United States? That’s false. At least 20 have. Among these lovely individuals was Ramadan Alwan. “He pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad.” He also “boasted about attacks on American troops in Iraq.”
  • All of which makes it amazing that unlimited Muslim immigration seems to be the hill liberals want to die on.

    Even more ridiculous and blinkered is the suggestion that there may be something unconstitutional about refusing entry to refugees or discriminating among them on religious or other bases (a reaction that was shared at first by some Republicans, including Mike Pence, when Trump’s plan was announced in December 2015). There are plenty of moral and political arguments on these points, but foreigners have no right under our Constitution to demand entry to the United States or to challenge any reason we might have to refuse them entry, even blatant religious discrimination. Under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress’s powers in this area are plenary, and the president’s powers are as broad as the Congress chooses to give him. If liberals are baffled as to why even the invocation of the historically problematic “America First” slogan by Trump is popular with almost two-thirds of the American public, they should look no further than people arguing that foreigners should be treated by the law as if they were American citizens with all the rights and protections we give Americans.

    Liberals are likewise on both unwise and unpopular ground in sneering at the idea that there might be an increased risk of radical Islamist terrorism resulting from large numbers of Muslims entering the country as refugees or asylees. There have been many such cases in Europe, ranging from terrorists (as in the Brussels attack) posing as refugees to the infiltration of radicals and the radicalization of new entrants. The 9/11 plotters, several of whom overstayed their visas in the U.S. after immigrating from the Middle East to Germany, are part of that picture as well. Here in the U.S., we have had a number of terror attacks carried out by foreign-born Muslims or their children. The Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing were children of asylees; the Times Square bomber was a Pakistani immigrant; the underwear bomber was from Nigeria; the San Bernardino shooter was the son of Pakistani immigrants; the Chattanooga shooter was from Kuwait; the Fort Hood shooter was the son of Palestinian immigrants. All of this takes place against the backdrop of a global movement of radical Islamist terrorism that kills tens of thousands of people a year in terrorist attacks and injures or kidnaps tens of thousands more.

  • President Trump is also working to limit immigrants who need welfare.
  • John Hindraker thinks that President Trump’s orders are only a good first step.
  • Back in the dim, long ago fairy tale days of 2006, plenty of Democrats voted to build the border fence, including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer.
  • Evidence suggests that Hilary Clinton received 800,000 votes from illegal aliens. Not the three million Trump claimed, but clearly more than the “zero” Democrats falsely claim.
  • Austin is now ground zero for cutting both state and federal fund for refusing to cooperate in enforcing immigration laws. Expect more detail on this at a future date.
  • “The House chairman who oversees Justice Department spending is telling so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that funding for police, jails and housing will end under President Trump’s new executive orders tightening immigration control. ‘It’s real easy, their money disappears. There’s no fight, their money is gone,’ said Texas Rep. John Culberson, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds Justice.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • At least one sign that the sanctuary city crackdown is working: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has ordered his jail to start cooperating with the INS to deport illegal aliens.
  • Of course, people working to defy the law and keep illegal aliens from being deported are freaking out over Trump.
  • Current state of legal play on Executive Order 13769:

    It’s unfortunate that Judge [James] Robart’s decision, like the one handed down last weekend in the Eastern District of New York, includes nearly no legal reasoning or explanation, such that we could judge why he found the order unconstitutional or illegal. Federal district judges often issue very summary orders when they are asked to rule on an emergency basis on a request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, so expecting a scholarly opinion is unrealistic. But with the order halting a nationwide Executive Branch policy in its tracks and sure to be used as a political club, it should not have been too much to ask the court to provide some clue to its reasoning for just saying “this is illegal.”

    Fourth, this is a TRO: it applies only until the court can hold a more complete hearing, which it scheduled for Monday.

  • Byron York also says that the Trump Justice Department demolished Judge Robart’s case.
  • Other border control actions are going to require congressional approval (including much wider use of E-Verify) and whatever tax changes “make Mexico pay for the wall” (there are ways).

    Could Trump’s orders have gone farther? Sure! But it’s a tremendous start for somehow who many in the Republican primaries thought was a secret fan of illegal alien amnesty.

    LinkSwarm for February 3, 2017

    Friday, February 3rd, 2017

    It’s been a weird, busy week here at BattleSwarm World Headquarters, including a bunch of job interviews and having my iMac in the shop most of the week. Now I’m back up and running, and even have that OS upgrade (to El Capitan) I’ve been putting off for longer than you would believe (I was running Mac OS 10.6.8).

    All of which explains why today’s LinkSwarm is somewhat abbreviated.

  • Democrats retreat from reality:

    “Real people” are what the Democratic Party is sorely missing. By real I do not mean the members of a specific ethnic or religious or cultural or regional group but simply those men and women who are uninterested in the latest trend embraced by the left. For the Democratic Party to win again, it would need to recapture voters in the Midwest and Appalachia who supported Barack Obama twice but felt so disillusioned and dejected by the end of his second term, so utterly unenthused by the bland and corrupt technological illiterate the party nominated to replace him, that they embraced an outsider who promised to upend the system. The Trump era is just beginning, but so far Democrats have been much more willing to retreat into their ideological cubbyholes, or ascribe the election results to (take your pick) James Comey, fake news, or Russian subversion, than to acknowledge the power of nationalism and populism. It’s their loss.

    (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

  • Democrats still don’t get it:

    3) The race/class/gender agenda so favored by coastal elites and promulgated by media, Hollywood, and popular culture is an anathema to Middle America, especially its strange disconnect between affluence and the mandate for purportedly progressive equality. Moralistic lectures from wealthy people are not a way to win over the working classes. Rants by Hollywood celebrities and racialist sermons by would-be DNC chairs will not win over 51 percent of the voters in swing states. The twin agents of progressive dogma, the media and the university, are themselves under financial duress, must recalibrate, and have lost support from half the country.

  • Over at Ace of Spades Open Blogger helps articulate what I call the “How my liberal Facebook friends helped elect Trump” theory:

    Let me start by saying that Donald Trump is a reactionary phenomenon and most of us who voted for him are, by definition, reactionaries. And I would argue that most of this is due to social media.

    When one looks at the left wing, you can basically separate the institutional left from what I call the soft left. The institutional left consists of the political players and their lackeys, media, academics, street agitators and the like. These are the people that shape the direction, agenda, strategy and tactics of the left.

    The soft left are the voters. They don’t give much thought to anything other than their preferences, which the Democrat party caters to very effectively. They are, traditionally, passive players.

    Now I’ve understood since the Clinton years that the institutional left was actively seeking to harm me. Historically they’ve primarily done this through policy while other tactics such as demonization, othering, character assassination and lawfare were generally reserved for powerful political players and institutions on the right.

    During the Obama years, we saw a radical shift. No longer were the Tom Delays and the Rush Limbaughs of the world the exclusive targets of what Bill Clinton labeled “the politics of personal destruction.” Your average citizen was now in the cross hairs as well.

    I first became aware of this during the Joe the Plumber episode when the media relentlessly attacked a citizen simply for asking, on his own property where Barack Obama was a guest, a question that happened to make their Boy-King look silly.

    I thought it was a one-off due to the threat that Plumber’s inquiry posed, but soon after the examples piled up–the slandering of the Tea Party movement, targeting of Christian wedding photographers, the harassment of the Memories Pizza owners, etc…

    Which leads me to social media, Facebook specifically.

    As this dramatic shift occurred, we began to see another shift within social media, one that reached its apex during the 2016 presidential election. That was the politicization of everything, not just by the institutional left, but by the soft left as well.

    Where before the voters on the left were mostly passive receivers of Cultural Marxism, they had now become active participants via propaganda, slander, social shaming, and otherizing. This meant that conservatives were now being assaulted on two fronts, both from the institutional left and the soft left.

    Every conservative who is active on Facebook knows what I’m talking about. After decades of Americans keeping their politics mostly to themselves, suddenly our feeds were jammed up with political invective.

    It wasn’t just directed at politicians. It was personal–a relentless litany of insults and abuse, first at the Tea Party and then Trump supporters. Most of it was generalized, but the message was clear. They held our kind in contempt and didn’t care who knew it. In fact, they seemed to be in a contest to see who could broadcast it the loudest.

    Most conservatives were hurt by this. We tend to keep our politics relatively private, both out of decorum and respect for our relationships with people whose politics differ from ours. The message that these public posts sent to us was that our “friends” on the left didn’t respect or value us enough to avoid giving offense.

    As someone who has been following politics since high school, I tend not to trust my own instincts what the average voter thinks. I’m simply to close to the subject. My wife, however, is a fairly low-key traditionalist who doesn’t care to immerse herself in that world and so I use her as my political weather vane.

    And so I knew that there was a storm brewing when she snapped down her phone over breakfast one day after reading Facebook and told me how sick and tired she was of her friends’ political posts.

    “When they say those things,” she fumed, “they’re talking about our family.”

    “I’m so sick and tired of being told that I’m a bad person because I disagree with someone’s position on abortion or transgender bathrooms. Who do they think they are to tell everyone what they’re required to believe?”

    The hurt had turned to anger and quiet resolve.

    The left sought to reprimand the right. What they did was alienate it. Their social media echo chamber only served to steel conservative misgivings about Donald Trump, if for no other reason than we simply couldn’t abide by being pushed around for another 4-8 years.

    It’s one thing to know that your friends disagree with you. It’s another to realize that they think you’re stupid, uneducated, a bigot, bully, sexist, jerk and everything that’s wrong with the world.

    It’s then that you realize that it’s not just the institutional left that yearns to place its boot on your neck, it’s your left-wing neighbors, friends, coworkers and even family. When you see attacks on regular citizens cheered and reinforced by people on Facebook, your worldview changes radically.

    You can no longer believe that they don’t really understand what they’re voting for. It becomes clear that they do–they’re voting to turn you into a second class citizen, an “other” who is not due the same rights and courtesies as their exhalted tribe of Right Thinkers.

    We loathed Obama and all the Marxist cockroaches surrounding him. Now we were beginning to loathe his supporters.

    Donald Trump had exposed the press for the lying, shameless partisan hacks that they are. But social media exposed the soft left, the formerly passive Democrat party support.

    This is why the left never saw it coming. They took over public spaces and shouted down the opposition with personal attacks. Horrified conservatives withdrew from engagement, but we didn’t disappear.

    We seethed with resentment and contempt.

    And it drove us to the polls, quietly and without fanfare, like assassins in the night.

    The left still doesn’t know what hit him. They’re still too busy screeching, insulting, protesting, rioting, and trying to manipulate the rules to ask the simple question: Why?

    I’ll tell you why. We see you. We see what you’ve become. And we’re not having what you’ve been dishing out any longer.

  • The rise of the alt-left intifada. “Just like ISIS and Hamas have found the use of unique hashtags on social media to recruit and radicalize, unique hashtags are now being used by groups here in the U.S. that call for violence, protest, resistance and anarchy. By the use of these unique hashtags with a call to action to a specified group and location, the online mob becomes a real world-mob that can cause damage, disruption and violence, like we just witnessed in Berkeley.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Why Democrats have declared war on Trump: They’re terrified:

    I believe it stems from the inability of many Democrats to accept their defeat in November, or to understand that the people of mainland America — that heartland between California and New York — overwhelmingly rejected their elitist vision and collectivist values.

    During the campaign, Donald Trump made a number of specific promises to the American people. Over the past 10 days, he has been fulfilling them one by one and the Democrats are tearing out their hair, because they know what this means for 2018.

    Democrats are terrified that Trump will succeed.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The war between President Trump and the bureaucracy. “Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • DHS Secretary John Kelly says that the border wall should be finished in two years. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Other McCain has more on the Berkeley riot.
  • Milo (congrats liberals, your hate has tuned him into a one-named celebrity like Bono or Cher) talks about being the object of SJW wrath in the center of it:

  • Mother killed by President Trump’s travel ban is a hoax. She died five days before he even issued the order.
  • Army selects Sig Saur as it’s new official pistol.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott cuts funding to Travis County over the sheriff’s refusal to enforce immigration laws.
  • Women send Gov. Abbott soiled tampons.” Because that’s a dandy way to prove to moderates that feminists aren’t deranged lunatics.
  • “I Don’t Dress For Men, I Dress For The Sea Witch That Cursed Me.” Parody site, just in case that was unclear.
  • Trump Starts Bringing a Rogue EPA to Heel

    Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

    President Trump is wasting no time in cleaning up Obama Administration messes where it’s possible to do so by executive order. One over the weekend started reigning in the EPA. “The Trump administration instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants. Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press, detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.”

    Under Obama the EPA was a rogue agency perusing a radical environmental agenda at the expense of congressional intent. Texas alone has sued the EPA numerous times. A few of the lawsuits currently in progress over EPA overreach:

  • The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
  • The “Endangerment Finding” over greenhouse gas emissions congress never authorized the EPA to regulate.
  • The unconstitutional Clean Power Plan to regulate coal power plant carbon dioxide emissions.
  • The “Waters of the U.S. Rule,” allowing the EPA to micromanage the way farmers run their own farms.
  • Pollution Control Permitting, where the EPA illegally disapproved of Texas’ permitting program.
  • The 2016 Regional Haze Plan Suit. “Once again, the Obama Administration is misinterpreting and misusing federal agencies to force through a radical agenda based more on the beliefs of his environmentalist base than on common sense.” There was also a lawuit over the 2012 Haze Plan.
  • A lawsuit over the EPA’s failure to analyze job losses from coal regulations.
  • The Qualified Facilities Program for oil and gas drilling.
  • The Flexible Permit Program.
  • The Mercury Rule.
  • Industrial Plant Regulation.
  • Two separate Sulfur Dioxide Rule lawsuits. one still pending.
  • Multiple Greenhouse Gas rule lawsuits.
  • A lawsuit over Freedom of Information Act requests over the EPA colluding with various environmental groups to issue laws.
  • There are probably a few I’ve forgotten.
  • U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey has said that the agency “evidences the continued hostility on the part of the EPA to acceptance of the mission established by Congress.”

    Says Powerline’s John Hindraker:

    The EPA was created by Congress and owes its powers exclusively to Congressional enactment, but over time it has become contemptuous of its democratically-elected master, and has come to view itself as a superior and independent power, entitled to enforce those legal provisions that it likes, and ignore those that are inconvenient. Agencies like the EPA are the single greatest threat to the freedom of American citizens.

    The EPA is a rogue agency long overdue for reining in.

    Ted Cruz Makes Deadspin His Bitch

    Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

    Upon finding out that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz started a regular senate basketball game, Deadspin asked for pictures of Cruz playing. Cruz himself posted a reply:

    Heh. I’m pretty sure that’s Duke freshman Grayson Allen, who does indeed look a little bit like Cruz.

    Instead of laughing it off (“Nice try!” would have been a good response), Deadspin decided on a response that was…disproportionate.

    That just goes to show: You can take Deadspin out of Gawker, but you can’t take the Gawker out of Deadspin.

    (As for those who object to this post’s title: I thought it was important to pitch it at an intellectual and emotional maturity level that Deadspin staffers were sure to understand…)

    LinkSwarm for January 20, 2017

    Friday, January 20th, 2017

    Welcome to Inauguration Day, when Donald J. Trump is sworn in as the Forty-Fifth President of the United States of America! Celebrate the momentous day with a Friday LinkSwarm.

  • Trump plans to hit the ground running with a number of executive actions his very first day on the job. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Trump started planning his presidential run right after Romney lost. In fact, Trump registered his “Make America Great Again” slogan six days after Romney’s defeat. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Clinton Family Friend: “Yes, I will be at the review stand at the inauguration and I am going to kill President-elect Trump… what are you gonna do about it Secret Service?” Secret Service: “Enjoy these complimentary handcuffs.”
  • Much of the hatred against Trump is pure class bigotry:

    I don’t think reasonable differences of opinion on the one hand, and the ordinary hypocrisy of partisan politics on the other, explain the extraordinarily stridency, the venom, and the hatred being flung at the incoming administration by its enemies. There may be many factors involved, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that one factor in particular plays a massive role here.

    To be precise, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the product of class bigotry.

    Snip.

    Until last year, if you wanted to experience the class bigotry that’s so common among the affluent classes in today’s America, you pretty much had to be a member of those affluent classes, or at least good enough at passing to be present at the social events where their bigotry saw free play. Since Donald Trump broke out of the Republican pack early last year, though, that hindrance has gone by the boards. Those who want to observe American class bigotry at its choicest need only listen to what a great many of the public voices of the well-to-do are saying about the people who votes and enthusiasm have sent Trump to the White House.

    You see, that’s a massive part of the reason a Trump presidency is so unacceptable to so many affluent Americans: his candidacy, unlike those of all his rivals, was primarily backed by “those people.”

    Snip.

    This isn’t just because so large a fraction of working class voters generally backed Trump; it’s also because Trump saw this from the beginning, and aimed his campaign squarely at the working class vote. His signature red ball cap was part of that—can you imagine Hillary Clinton wearing so proletarian a garment without absurdity?—but, as I pointed out a year ago, so was his deliberate strategy of saying (and tweeting) things that would get the liberal punditocracy to denounce him. The tones of sneering contempt and condescension they directed at him were all too familiar to his working class audiences, who have been treated to the same tones unceasingly by their soi-disant betters for decades now.

    Much of the pushback against Trump’s impending presidency, in turn, is heavily larded with that same sneering contempt and condescension—the unending claims, for example, that the only reason people could possibly have chosen to vote for Trump was because they were racist misogynistic morons, and the like. (These days, terms such as “racist” and “misogynistic,” in the mouths of the affluent, are as often as not class-based insults rather than objective descriptions of attitudes.) The question I’d like to raise at this point, though, is why the affluent don’t seem to be able to bring themselves to come right out and denounce Trump as the candidate of the filthy rabble. Why must they borrow the rhetoric of identity politics and twist it (and themselves) into pretzel shapes instead?

    Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)

  • “In donated shoes and suit, a Trump supporter comes to Washington.”
  • Follow-up:

  • How ObamaCare helped destroy Medicare.

    Physicians across the country have been firing Medicare patients; and according to a late 2015 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 21% of physicians are not taking new Medicare patients.

    Much of this trend is based on stiff penalties and financial disincentives from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and 2015’s Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization (MACRA) Act.

    MACRA in particular is completely mystifying.

    The law created a whopping 2,400 pages of regulations that Medicare physicians are expected to know and follow.

    Many of the rules are debilitating.

    For instance, MACRA changed how physicians can be reimbursed for their Medicare patients by establishing a bizarre set of standards to determine if a physician is providing “value”.

    As an example, if a patient ends up in the emergency room, his or her physician can incur a steep penalty.

    This explains why my step-dad was dropped by his doctor.

    The healthcare system has been broken to the point that physicians now have a greater incentive to fire their Medicare patients than to treat them.

  • City journal has an extensive profile of George Soros.

    Soros’s global reach and influence far outstrip those of the Koch brothers or other liberal bogeymen—and that underlying it all is a vision both dystopian and opportunistic. “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order,” Soros has declared, “is the United States.” Ergo, that constitutional republic must be weakened and its allies degraded. The Sorosian world order—one of open borders and global governance, antithetical to the ideals and experience of the West—could then assume command.

    Snip.

    n the United States, Soros bankrolls a broad range of political and cultural causes. One is to destabilize the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. In 2015, he dedicated $650,000 for the purpose of shaping Pope Francis’s U.S. visit, using left-leaning Catholic groups to promote gay marriage, abortion, and physician-assisted suicide. Leading the effort was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, a self-professed Catholic. Bill Donohue, outspoken president of the Catholic League, vainly called for Podesta’s dismissal. “He is fomenting revolution in the Catholic Church, creating mutiny and is totally unethical,” Donohue said. “He is the front man for George Soros to create a host of phony anti-Catholic groups. These are not just bad comments, as some have suggested. These words are orchestrated, calculated and designed to create fissures in the Catholic Church.”

    Another Soros favorite is Black Lives Matter, the radical protest group dedicated to the proposition that police are inherently racist. Working the streets with incendiary rhetoric, at odds with the truth about black-on-black crime, BLM has helped foster “depolicing,” as Heather Mac Donald describes it, in high-crime urban areas. In 2015, after days of rioting in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, an Open Society Foundations memo excitedly commented that “recent events offer a unique opportunity to accelerate the dismantling of structural inequality generated and maintained by local law enforcement and to engage residents who have historically been disenfranchised in Baltimore City in shaping and monitoring reform.” Three straight acquittals of police officers involved in the matter left the prosecution’s case in shreds but made no difference to the Open Society Foundations. It has donated at least $650,000 to Black Lives Matter and pledged more assistance to antipolice factions across the country. These activities prompted the father of one of the Dallas police officers killed during a Black Lives Matter protest to sue Soros (along with other individuals and groups) for inspiring a “war on police.”

    (Hat tip: John Tierney at Instapundit.)

  • I always thought George Soros was running Black Lives Matter, and now here’s some proof: “BLM leader lives in home owned by Soros’ Open Society board member.”
  • Don’t look now, but the Clinton/Sanders rift is still roiling the Democratic Party. Sadly, neither side seems to be willing to give up on Social Justice Warrior victimhood identity politics. (Hat tip: Hot Air, which notes “Democrats have to come to grips with the fact that they stopped speaking for most Americans over the past eight years, and started lecturing at Americans instead. The party got wrapped up in the progressive-academic social-justice agenda to the point that the party made diversity into an obsession at the expense of the real economic issues facing voters outside of the coastal enclaves and college campuses.”)
  • One college Democrat has had enough:

    A National Councilman for the College Democrats of America is jumping ship and considering joining the Republican Party just before President-elect Trump takes the oath of office.

    Michael J. Hout, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told Campus Reform that he believes the contemporary Democratic Party is no longer the best place for an ideological moderate like himself, saying the Party is pivoting towards more extremist rhetoric and appealing more to those who often do not even consider themselves Democrats, such as socialists and independents.

    Snip.

    “This strategy of catering to the whims of those for whom identity politics matters more than anything else, and of allowing for even anti-white, anti-male rhetoric to find a home within the party, is a large part of its untenable strategy moving forward,” Hout explained, predicting that “it will continue to cause Democrats to lose, time and time again.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Former California Democratic Party chair argues that Democrats should move their headquarters to Detroit to reconnect with middle class voters. I agree, but for a different reason: So they can be forced to see the results of their handiwork firsthand every day.
  • A glimmering of a clue: “U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, breaking ranks with other Democrats who are trashing President-elect Donald Trump and boycotting his inaugural, is imploring his party’s rank and file to figure out why middle American voters went Republican in November….’Folks, we lost their trust and being mortified and mystified about their vote doesn’t bring it back.'” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Tolerant left gets another Milo speech cancelled.
  • Ignore the shame mob and they’ve got nothing else to throw at you:

    While [Steve] Harvey tries to use his celebrity for something selfless and useful and while the Talladega College marching band gets the world stage to show off the results of its hard work and school spirit, think of their detractors as the latter sit behind their cell phones and sling names like “coon” and “Uncle Tom”[i] in between posting their twerking and ghetto fight videos.

    Ouch! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Joe Bob Briggs takes aim at the “angry white male” concept.

    Numero Three-o: Why is anger as a voting incentive limited to white males? Don’t black men get angry? When Louis Farrakhan holds a rally, why doesn’t Yahoo News say “Angry Black Men Gather in Chicago”? Why aren’t there any Angry Latino Men or Angry Chinese Men?

    Numero Four-o: More specifically, how do you explain the fact that the Angry White Men who voted for Trump in 2016 are the same white men who voted for Obama in 2008? When they vote for Obama they’re not angry, but when they vote for Trump it can only be because they’re enraged hicks? Gogebic County in Michigan is 92 percent white and hadn’t voted for a Republican since 1972—until this election. The counties in southwestern Wisconsin, all heavily Democratic, went for Trump after a strong Obama vote in 2008 and 2012. Eastern Iowa, Democratic since 1988, went for Trump. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, which is frequently used as the very definition of “working-class,” went for Republicans for the first time since 1988. Why are all these people classified as “angry” now, but in 2008, when they were angry at George Bush, they were just “voting for change”? Could it be, just perhaps, maybe, they feel betrayed by the Democratic Party? If we’re gonna call them angry, let’s define what they’re angry about.

  • Then again, fake outrage over non-issues is the stock in trade of the center-left.
  • Four reasons why nobody trusts the media. Including that nothingburger of a New York Times hit piece on Rick Perry that relied on no facts whatsoever.
  • For all that CNN flack global warming, they certainly don’t act like they believe it. In addition from moving CNN headquarters from Atlanta to New York City, “Time Warner, the company that owns CNN, just invested in SEVEN new buildings located in Hudson Yards, a part of Manhattan just a block or two away from the water. An area that, according to its own CNN, will soon be underwater, and therefore utterly and completely worthless.”
  • Speaking of CNN, they just hired Valerie Jarrett’s daughter to report on Trump’s Justice Department. “Valerie Jarrett’s daughter quietly joined CNN in September as a reporter in the network’s Washington bureau. She came to CNN with no experience in journalism.” Evidence suggests CNN has naked contempt for both objectivity and those not in the anointed liberal overclass. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.”
  • Post-Brexit, an economic boom in the UK. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • UK PM Theresa May aims at a “hard Brexit.” Andrew Stuttaford (and I) wonder why she isn’t going for the ‘Norway option’ of leaving the EU but staying in the European Economic Area.
  • Marine Le Pen cues up Frexit. “The euro has not been used as a currency, but as a weapon—a knife stuck in the ribs of a country to force it to go where the people don’t want to go.” I disagree with Walter Russel Mead: The EU, as currently constituted, is incapable of being reformed. Reform is impossible without scraping the European Commission, which is impossible without scraping Maastricht, which would scrap the EU. Better to start again from scratch or go back to just the common market.
  • Jihadwatch’s Robert Spencer had a minor piece at The Hill on why Lindsay Lohan’s (rumored) conversion to Islam was a bad idea. I wasn’t even going to link it. The The Hill took it down due to political pressure. Now I have to.
  • As one of his last acts, Obama commutes the sentence of convicted Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera.
  • And it’s not just terrorists: Obama commutes the sentences of four South Texas druglords:

    Four family members who ran one of the largest cartel smuggling operations in south Texas had their life in prison sentences commuted and will likely be returning to this border city from where they ran their criminal empire. One of the main destinations that the criminal organizations delivered drugs to was Chicago, Illinois.

    This week, outgoing President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 209 convicted criminals and pardoned 64 others. The majority of the convictions were from drug trafficking or production offenses.

    Four of those convicted criminals who had been sentenced to life in prison will be released by May 17. They ran a criminal organization made up of close to 80 men and women who worked with Mexico’s Gulf Cartel to move between 100,000 to almost 750,000 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. during a 10-year period. The drugs were moved into Houston and then distributed to Atlanta, Chicago, and other major metropolitan areas.

    According to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas, brothers Cesar Moreno Sr., Eduardo Moreno, Lazaro Moreno, and Luis Moreno along with other relatives and friends had been at the helm of a large-scale drug distribution operation based out of the border city of Roma, Texas.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • A tweet:

  • Brian Krebs deduces the author of the Mirai worm.
  • Seattle kills bikeshare program. If it can’t make it in Seattle…
  • 3D TV is dead again. Good. 3D always struck me as an annoying gimmick, even in IMAX.
  • “Woman stabbed man 9 times after he wouldn’t commit to relationship.” I’m pretty sure the guy made the right call there… (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Man gets head start on the epic douchebag Olympics. “28-year-old James Allen is facing a charge of driving while intoxicated. [He] drove a $385,000 Ferrari off a bridge in Westlake, went airborne for 40 feet and crashed into the woods while speeding on Friday night.” (Hat tip: Iowahawk’s Twitter feed.)
  • Oakland Raiders file papers to move to Las Vegas.
  • “It’s come to my attention that some of you Hollywood types are calling yourselves ‘the Resistance’. Stop. Now.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Graduate student sues after being kicked out of school for not supporting left-wing causes.
  • Scott Adams being unable to comment on his own blog due to a software bug has to be the most Dilbert thing ever…
  • Dawnna Dukes Indicted on 15 Counts, Faces 28 Years in Jail

    Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

    The shoe has landed:

    A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on 13 felony corruption charges and two misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of 28 years behind bars, a courthouse source said Wednesday.

    Dukes, an Austin Democrat, faces two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity and 13 felony counts of tampering with public records, a source with knowledge of the case said. Travis County prosecutors and investigators from the Texas Rangers presented the evidence to the grand jurors Tuesday, who indicted Dukes on the first day that they met to consider the case.

    The indictment comes seven days after Dukes reneged on a promise to step down and took the oath of office for a 12th two-year term representing parts of North Austin, East Austin, Pflugerville and Manor.

    Dukes posted a statement on Facebook following the indictment, which was first reported by Spectrum News: “Of course, I am disappointed but I expected that if I was sworn into office in January 10th that this indictment would follow. All I can say today is that I will be entering a plea of Not Guilty.”

    One abuse of official capacity charge deals with Dukes using her legislative staff for personal purposes. In April, the American-Statesman reported that Dukes had arranged to give a taxpayer-funded raise to an aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school.

    With the other abuse of official capacity charge, the grand jury accused Dukes of using money raised from campaign contributors for personal purposes. Politicians may use campaign money to pay for election activities or for expenses related to carrying out their elected office, but state law forbids them from using it for personal purposes.

    Dukes has made numerous questionable expenditures from her campaign account over the years, including $13,000 in payments to family members, $30,000 on gas and $2,700 to a seamstress, a Statesman investigation in June found.

    $13,000 to family members? Yeah, that’s gonna raise red flags.

    The grand jury accused Dukes of converting to personal use campaign expenditures that were earmarked for the African-American Community Heritage Festival, an East Austin event Dukes co-founded 18 years ago but ended last year after negative attention caused by the investigation. Dukes has listed at least $17,600 in campaign expenditures for the festival, including $303 to an electronics store for “replacement of digital camera broken by staff,” $146 for Mardi Gras beads and more than $7,000 for musical performers, the Statesman investigation found.

    The 13 charges for tampering with public records concerns an allegation that Dukes collected pay from the state during the 2014 legislative interim for days that she did not travel to the Capitol, which is required under House rules. The American-Statesman in May reported that a former Dukes staffer had accused the legislator of filing requests for per diem payments for days that she never traveled to the Capitol and may not have worked at all.

    So Dukes was getting paid for not working. In other words, she was living the Democratic Party dream…

    (Previously.)

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Texas vs. California Update for January 12, 2017

    Thursday, January 12th, 2017

    It’s been a long time since I compiled one of these, so this is going to be monstrously large. Also, just as I was finishing this up, the San Diego Chargers announced they were moving to Los Angeles. Hell, LA has proven in the past it’s incapable of adequately supporting one NFL franchise, much less two…

  • When you look at the full recession records, not just the last few years, Texas is still kicking California’s ass. “Over that time frame, Texas has grown more than THREE TIMES FASTER than California. Actually 3.4 times faster (Texas grew at a 4.1% annual rate vs. 1.2% for California).” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A just released study calculates the total state and local government debt in California as of June 30, 2015, at over $1.3 trillion.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California faces its first budget deficit since 2012. Or at least it’s first official deficit since then. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • A second judge, this one on the California First District Court of Appeal, rules that public pensions may be modified.
  • The California Democratic Party has gone hard left, and it’s taking the rest of the state with it:

    Increasingly, inside the party, it’s been the furthest Left candidates that win. In the Democrat-only Sanchez vs. Harris race for the U.S. Senate, the more progressive candidate triumphed easily, with a more moderate Latina from Southern California decimated by the better funded lock-step, glamorous tool of the San Francisco gentry Left.

    Gradually, the key swing group — the “business Democrats” — are being decimated, hounded by ultra-green San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer and his minions. No restraint is being imposed on Gov. Brown’s increasingly obsessive climate change agenda, or on the public employee unions, whose pensions could sink the state’s finances, particularly in a downturn.

    The interior parts of California already rank near the bottom, along with Los Angeles, in terms of standard of living — by incomes, as opposed to costs — in the nation. Compared to the Bay Area, which now rules the state, the more blue-collar, Latino and African American interior, as well as much of Los Angeles, account for six of the 15 worst areas in terms of living standard out of 106 metropolitan areas, according to a recent report by Center for Opportunity Urbanism demographer Wendell Cox.

    Given the political trends here, it’s hard to see how things could get much better. The fact that most new jobs in Southern California are in lower-paying occupations is hardly promising. In contrast, generally better-paying jobs in manufacturing, home-building and warehousing face ever-growing regulatory strangulation.

    Sadly, the ascendant Latino political leadership seems determined to accelerate this process. In both Riverside and San Bernardino, pro-business candidates, including San Bernardino Democrat Cheryl Brown, lost to green-backed Latino progressives.

    For whatever reason, Latino voters and their elected officials fail to recognize that the increasingly harsh climate change agenda represents a mortal threat to their own prospects for upward mobility. Before this week’s election, California policy makers could look forward to Washington imposing such policies on the rest of the country; now our competitor regions — including Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Texas — can double down on growth. Expect to see more migration of ambitious Californians, particularly Latinos, to these areas.

    California is on the road to a bifurcated, almost feudal, society, divided by geography, race and class. As is clear from the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, it’s not just the poor and ill-educated, as Brown apologists suggest, but, rather, primarily young families and the middle-aged, who are leaving. What will be left is a state dominated by a growing, but relatively small, upper class, many of them boomers; young singles and a massive, growing, increasingly marginalized “precariat” of low wage, often occasional, workers.

  • Sanctuary cities might drive California into bankruptcy:

    California is about to face the music as Donald Trump becomes 45th President of the United States. Their Sanctuary Cities violate federal law and after Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General (and he will be), they are going to either have to knock that off or have funding to their law enforcement and their government stripped away. Sessions can’t wait and I have to say, I will enjoy watching this showdown. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Trump pulling 37% of federal funding for their governments would cause chaos and upheaval. Yes, it will… it will also cause California to go absolutely toes up bankrupt.

    It’s simple. They can either follow the rule of law, or the free flow of money from DC gets cut off. In 2015, that amounted to about $93.6 billion. That’s a lot of money to turn away because you insist on not following the law. Let’s see how long that lasts. I love the thought of this. It’s about time Sanctuary Cities were stopped and this is an excellent way to do it. New York, Chicago and DC will all face the same choice by the way. Imagine the meltdown. Good times.

  • “California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.” Freeloaders love the Blue State model… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Another way of looking at California’s economy:

    California has 39 million people — 43% larger than the 2nd largest state (Texas). Such GDP comparisons don’t tell us much in terms of the PROSPERITY of a nation. Or a state.

    The proper comparison is PER CAPITA GDP. Using that more meaningful figure, CA is the 10th most prosperous state.

    But an even MORE accurate comparison is to take the per capital GDP and adjust it for COL. Because of California’s high taxes, crazy utility laws, stifling regulations (paid by consumers) and sky-high housing costs, CA in 2014 ranked WAY down in 37th place. Only 13 states were worse.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Same as it ever was:

    Governor Jerry Brown announced today that the budget was $1.4 billion in deficit. At the end of last year, the state announced that it was giving state employees a raise which would cost taxpayers over $2 billion over the next four years. Do you think there is a connection?

    A story ran locally in Southern California saying that over 105 employees in Santa Monica, a medium sized city, earn over $300,000 a year. The Governor of the state of California earns $174,000 per year. If you do the research, you will find that there are over 200 state employees that earn more than that

    When I was deciding what I wanted to do in my younger years, my mother told me I should go to work for the government, good benefits she said. I knew I would be bored and would die young if I became a government drone. My little sister listened to her. Today, my little sister is retired on a great government pension, I still fight to pay my taxes. Given the pay that even the lowest government official receives, my mother was right.

    Our government pension system is over $500 billion upside down. Retired state employee health benefits add an additional $300 billion or more to that deficit. The system is out of control. Pay and benefits to government employees at state and local levels is incomprehensible, and the government leaders still come to you and I and ask us to foot the bill for their indulgences.

    What is even more evil about the system is that government unions, led by thugs who force people to pay union dues for the privilege of having a government job, take the money from the government employees and put it into the political system to pay for the campaigns of the Governor, statewide elected officials, legislators and city councils with whom these unions then negotiate for the out-of-control pay and benefits. If anyone tries to limit them, as I once tried by tying everybody’s salaries to the Governor’s salary, they are marked for political defeat. And the system perpetuates itself, taxes to employees to unions to politicians, as it did in the Soviet Union, until the whole system collapses.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California has stopped growing:

    Driven by rising out-migration and falling birth rates, California’s population growth has stalled, leading analysts to consider a possible forecast of a so-called “no-growth” period in the future.

    Although Americans nationwide have been flooding south and west for years, the Golden State has become an exception. Nearly 62 percent of Americans lived in the two regions, Justin Fox observed from Census figures. “That’s up from 60.4 percent in the 2010 census, 58.1 percent in 2000, 55.6 percent in 1990 — and 44 percent in 1950. The big anomaly is California, which is very much in the West, yet has lost an estimated 383,344 residents to other states since 2010.”

    “The state’s birth rate declined to 12.42 births per 1,000 population in 2016 — the lowest in California history,” the San Jose Mercury News noted, citing a state Department of Finance report. “In 2010, the last time figures were compiled, the birth rate was 13.69 per 1,000 population.”

  • California Democrats legalize child prostitution.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Some are objecting to the term “legalization”.
  • California Democrats vote to line Eric Holder’s pockets:

    Last week California’s progressive lawmakers announced that they’ve put former Attorney General Eric Holder, now a Covington & Burling partner, on retainer as the state’s outside counsel. “This is potentially the legal fight of a generation, and with Eric Holder we’ve added a world-class lawyer,’’ said Senate majority leader Kevin de León.

    This is odd. Typically states hire outside counsel for help with specific cases, but the legislature is paying Mr. Holder $25,000 a month for three months under the initial contract, apparently for 40 hours a month and the privilege of his attention if something comes up.

  • At least one California assemblyman thinks that the Holder deal is illegal. “California courts have interpreted the civil service mandate of article VII of forbidding private contracting for services that are of a kind that persons selected through civil service could perform ‘adequately and competently.'”
  • In California, robots are replacing people in warehouse work. The minimum wage is mentioned, but only in passing.
  • California is the state third most likely to enter a death spiral in a recession. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase their own salaries by more than $19,000 a year, despite public comment from dozens of opponents.”
  • “California state firefighters will receive substantial raises of up to 13.8 percent this year, according to newly released details from a proposed contract that their union negotiated just before Christmas.” Just the thing a state with a budget deficit needs…
  • “The evidence is clear that standards of living are substantially higher in Texas than in California, which has a model of excessive government.” More: “During the last decade, economic growth in the real private sector has increased by 29 percent in Texas compared with only 14 percent in California. Job creation increased by 1.2 million in California compared with 1.7 million in Texas, which has a labor force two-thirds of that in California. Remarkably, Texas’ job creation was roughly one-third of total civilian employment increases nationwide.”
  • Texas ranked third nationally in economic freedom for the sixth consecutive year. California ranked 49th, just ahead of New York.
  • California Democrats vow to go all-out to keep illegal aliens from being deported. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • CalPERs plans to sell $15 billion worth of equities over the next two years. Also: “CalPERS’ current portfolio is pegged to a 7.5% return and a 13% volatility rate” even though the most recent returns were “a 0.6% return for the fiscal year ended June 30 and a 2.4% return in fiscal 2015.”
  • But the shift from Fantasyland to Reality has been a slow and painful one for CalPERS:

    Overseers of the nation’s largest pension trust fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), last month reduced – albeit reluctantly – its projection of future earnings by a half-percentage point.

    With earnings on investments the last two years barely exceeding zero, CalPERS has been compelled to sell assets to make its pension payments – which far outstrip contributions from state and local governments and their employees.

    Reducing the “discount rate” to 7 percent will force employers, and perhaps employees, to kick billions of more dollars into the system to slow the growth of CalPERS’ “unfunded liabilities,” as the $150-plus billion debt is termed.

    However, the extra contributions generated by lowering the discount rate will not erase that debt, which is likely to keep growing if CalPERS’ investment earnings continue to fall short, as many economists expect. In fact, CalPERS’ own advisers see a prolonged period of relatively low earnings, and say the system shouldn’t count on more than 6.2 percent.

    Rationally, the discount rate should have been lowered by at least another full percentage point. But CalPERS has already increased its mandatory contributions by 50 percent to make up for investment losses during the Great Recession and other factors, and cutting the discount rate to 6 percent would probably mean bankruptcy for a number of local governments, especially some cities.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • And CalPERs needs to do a lot more:

    This is why the CalPERS board must do far more — starting with, on a large scale, finally embracing pension reforms and, on a smaller scale, shuttering an over-the-top corner of the CalPERS website that says it’s a myth that pension costs are crowding out “government services like police and libraries.”

    It’s no myth. The Los Angeles Times reported last month that pensions and retirement health benefits now consume 20 percent of revenue in Los Angeles and Oakland and a stunning 28 percent in San Jose. While the state government is in better shape than most local governments, it’s beginning to feel the strain as well. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that beginning in April, the state will increase vehicle registration fees from $46 to $56 to help cover the soaring cost of pensions for California Highway Patrol officers. In 2000, the state had to pay about one-eighth of annual CHP pension costs. Now it must pay about half.

  • “Home values in San Francisco have doubled in a matter of four years. Since 2012 the typical San Francisco home went from $600,000 to $1,200,000. The Bay Area is under a tech based hypnotic spell and foreign money just can’t get enough of million dollar crap shacks in San Francisco. As we all know trees do not grow to the sky with unlimited potential and at a certain point the laws of reality have to hit. Only 11 percent of households in San Francisco can actually afford to purchase the typical $1.2 million crap shack.”
  • San Francisco welcomes immigrants…unless they threaten to move next door. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “New housing data show foreclosure activity in California dropped to an 11-year low in 2016. But the state is still working through a backlog of homes purchased with bad loans during the last housing bubble.”
  • How America’s restaurant bubble is about to burst. Actually, the piece focuses mainly on the impossibility of running a profitable fine dining restaurant in San Francisco and other similarly expensive locales. (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “How the University of California exploited a visa loophole to move tech jobs to India.”
  • The Census bureau says that Texas continued to grow in 2016. “Another big gainer was Texas, whose addition of about 433,000 people accounted for 19% of the country’s growth. The state, with 27.9 million people, grew from a relatively strong flow of immigrants and people relocating there from other states.”
  • Texas was second relocation destination choice in 2015:

    Texas experienced a net gain of out-of-state residents in 2015, with 107,689 more people moving to Texas than Texas residents moving out of state. This is a 4 percent increase in the net gain of Texas residents from 2014 (103,465 residents).

    The total number of residents moving to Texas from out of state in 2015 increased 2.8 percent year-over-year to 553,032 incoming residents. The highest number of new Texans came from California (65,546), followed by Florida (33,670), Louisiana (31,044), New York (26,287) and Oklahoma (25,555).

    Texas once again ranked third in the nation for number of residents moving out of state (445,343) in 2015. The most popular out-of-state relocation destinations for Texans were California (41,713), Florida (29,706), Oklahoma (28,642), Colorado (25,268), and Louisiana (19,863).

  • Arizona and Florida managed to dethrone Texas for the relocation top spot for the first time in a dozen years.
  • Why is Austin housing more expensive comapred to other Texas cities? “The reasons vary, but boil down to Austin’s relative unwillingness–thanks to NIMBYism and regulations–to build more housing.”
  • It doesn’t help that Austin is experiencing a net influx of 3,000 Californians a year. Seems like more…
  • California ban on modern sporting rifles went into effect January 1. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Police in Kern County, California, have killed more people per capita than in any other American county in 2015.” Caveat the first: The Guardian. Caveat the second: Thanks ever so much for that full-frame background video designed to bring by computer to a screeching halt, Guardian
  • How Marfa, Texas turned itself into an art colony.
  • Students at California law schools are doing horribly on the bar exam. “Law schools are admitting less and less qualified students in an effort to bolster their bottom lines. And why do their bottom lines need to be bolstered? Because they have too many faculty relative to student demand for the schools, and are either reluctant or unable to reduce the size of the faculty to “right size” the law school relative to present demand for the JD.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Maybe they should start calling it “North American Apparel“:

    Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear Inc. has won a bankruptcy auction for U.S. fashion retailer American Apparel LLC (curxq) after raising its offer to around $88 million, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

    Gildan’s takeover marks the end of an era for the iconic Los Angeles-based company, which was founded in 1998 by an eccentric Canadian university drop-out and grew to become a part of U.S. popular culture thanks to its racy advertising.

    Gildan will not take any of American Apparel’s 110 stores, but will own its brand and assume some of its manufacturing operations, the source said. The deal is subject to a bankruptcy judge approving it on Thursday.

  • State of California: You can’t mention actresses ages, because Reasons. IMDB: Free speech. Bite me.
  • And if you hadn’t seen them already, two previous BattleSwarm stories that touch on the Texas vs. California issue:

  • Interview with TPPF’s James Quintero on the Texas Municipal Pension Debt Crisis
  • The Texas 85th legislative session opens with budget tightening on the agenda.
  • 85th Texas Legislative Session Begins Today

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

    Lock up your women and liquor, the legislature is back in town!

    The 85th Texas Legislative Session started today, and one of the biggest concerns is a smaller budget, as detailed by the comptroller:

    For 2018-19, the state can expect to have $104.9 billion in funds available for general-purpose spending, a 2.7 percent decrease from the corresponding amount of funds available for the 2016-17 biennium. If not for the new constitutional provision dedicating up to $5 billion in biennial sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund (SHF) starting in fiscal 2018-19, projected funds available for general-purpose spending for 2018-19 would be $109.6 billion, 1.7 percent greater than in 2016-17.

    The $104.9 billion available for general-purpose spending represents 2018-19 total revenue collections of $106.5 billion in General Revenue-related (GR-R) funds, plus $1.5 billion in balances from 2016-17, less $3.1 billion reserved from oil and natural gas taxes for 2018-19 transfers to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and the SHF.

    Tax revenues account for approximately 87 percent of the estimated $106.5 billion in total GR-R revenue in 2018-19. Sixty-two percent of GR-R tax revenue will come from net collections of sales taxes, after more than $4.7 billion is allocated to the SHF. Other significant sources of General Revenue include motor vehicle sales and rental taxes; oil and natural gas production taxes; franchise tax; insurance taxes; collections from licenses, fees, fines and penalties; interest and investment income; and net lottery proceeds.

    In addition to the GR-R funds, the state is expected to collect $74.9 billion in federal income as well as other revenues dedicated for specific purposes and therefore unavailable for general-purpose spending. Revenue collections from all sources and for all purposes should total $224.8 billion.

    Absent any appropriations by the Legislature, the ESF balance is expected to be $11.9 billion at the end of the 2018-19 biennium, below the ESF constitutional limit of an estimated $16.9 billion.

    Following a strong 5.9 percent increase in real gross state product in fiscal 2015, the Texas economy is estimated to have grown by only 0.2 percent in 2016, well below the average growth rate of 3.8 percent per year over the past 20 years. Contraction in activity related to oil and natural gas production has been a drag on state economic growth. Still, the diversity of the Texas economy has allowed for continued growth in employment over the past two years and we expect sustained growth over the coming biennium. Texas stands in contrast to other states with large energy industries, many of which have suffered through declines in employment and economic output.

    Here’s an eyechart visual summary. Click for a bigger version.

    The budget is the meat-and potatoes of the legislature, but we’ll get to some hot-button issues (like sanctuary cities and tranny bathrooms) at a later date.

    The Great Pickup Truck War of 2017

    Monday, January 9th, 2017

    This past week brought one of those small, illuminating skirmishes in the culture wars, this time over that quintessentially Texas vehicle, the pickup truck.

    First came this New York Times piece by Many Fernandez on the Texas Truck Rodeo. If it weren’t for the opening paragraphs, it would be a pretty solid (if not terribly in-depth) piece on pickup trucks in Texas.

    But look at those opening paragraphs:

    DRIPPING SPRINGS, Tex. — Tim Spell has noticed a peculiar condition that affects Texans’ mental, physical and automotive well-being.

    “I call it ‘truck-itis,'” said Mr. Spell, the former automotive editor for The Houston Chronicle. “People in Texas will buy trucks even if they’re not going to haul anything heavier than raindrops. I was interviewing one guy. He had a 4-by-4. I said: ‘You live in Houston. Why do you have this 4-by-4?’ He said, ‘Well, I own a bar, and 4-by-4s are higher, and I can climb up on the cab and change out the letters of my marquee.'”

    It’s like New York Times editors think their target readership wouldn’t dean to read an article on pickup trucks without two opening paragraphs of smug, patronizing condescension. The rest of the piece focuses as much on Texans’ love of pickup trucks as the truck rodeo, and few would take issue with that portion:

    Whether for high-up urban letter-switching or more rural and rugged purposes, pickup trucks are to Texas what cowboy boots and oil derricks are to the state — a potent part of the brand. No other state has a bigger influence on the marketing of American pickup trucks.

    Texas is No. 1 in the country for full-size pickup trucks. More of them were sold in 2015 in the Dallas and Houston areas than in the entire state of California, according to the research firm IHS Markit. There is the Ford F-150 King Ranch, named for the iconic Texas ranch. And the Nissan Texas Titan, the floor mats and tailgate of which are emblazoned with the shape of Texas. And the Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition, featuring leather seats that mimic the look and feel of Western saddles, was named for the year that the JLC Ranch in San Antonio was established.

    The Texas-edition truck is a product of the state’s pull on the truck world. Some truck styles are sold and marketed only in the state as Texas editions, ensuring that pickup trucks, like a lot of things in Texas, are different here than elsewhere.

    “I like to say that you almost can’t overmarket Texas to Texans,” said Fred M. Diaz, a Nissan North America executive and a native Texan.

    All true, and all largely uncontroversial.

    But what really shifted The Great Pickup Truck War into high gear was one simple Tweeted question:

    From the reactions of the chattering classes, you’d think Ekdahl asked “How many of you liberal reporters have stopped raping your children?”

    And there’s been many an interesting roundup on the subject:

  • Sean Davis at The Federalist: “Even after a presidential election in which scores of media personalities were shown to be entirely disconnected from the country and people they report on, the liberal media bubble is alive and well. All it took to reveal the durability of that bubble was a simple question about pickup trucks.”

    Rather than answer with a simple “no,” the esteemed members of the most cloistered and provincial class in America–political journalists who live in New York City or Washington, D.C.–reacted by doing their best impersonation of a vampire who had just been dragged into the sunshine and presented with a garlic-adorned crucifix.

    There were basically three types of hysterical response to a simple question about truck owners: 1) shut up, 2) you’re stupid and/or sexist and/or racist, and 3) whatever, liar, trucks aren’t popular (far and away my favorite delusional response to a simple question from a group of people who want you to believe they’re extremely concerned about “fake news”). It turns out that people who are paid large sums of money to opine on what Americans outside the Acela province think get very upset if you demonstrate that they don’t actually know any of the people about whom they pretend to be experts.

    I have a quibble with that: I doubt many of the liberal reporters snipping at Ekdahl are well-paid.

  • Here’s SooperMexican at The Right Scoop on the topic, including capturing a tweet since deleted:

    The automotive editor for Ars Technica compares truck owning to BEING A HEROIN ADDICT BECAUSE HE’S NOT SENSITIVE ABOUT IT AT ALL:

    .@JohnEkdahl plenty of heartlanders are opioid addicts. Does that mean to report on real Amerikkka you need an oxy habit?

    — Jonathan Gitlin (@drgitlin) January 4, 2017

  • Kevin D. Williamson at National Review:

    The responses were predictable: The sort of smug progressives who are proud of their smugness scoffed that pick-ups, pollution-belching penis-supplements for toothless red-state Bubbas, are found mainly in the sort of communities where they’d never deign to set foot; the sort of smug progressives who are ashamed of their smugness protested that it is a silly question (which it is — that’s part of the point) and made strained connections with pick-up-owning childhood friends back home in East Slapbutt; conservatives mainly said “Har har stupid liberal elites.”

    Snip.

    Russell Kirk, describing his “canons of conservative thought,” argued that to be a conservative is to appreciate genuine diversity, “the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.” The Left is living up to Kirk’s expectations: The increasingly sneering attitude of coastal elites toward the more conservative interior, particularly for the poor communities there, is as undeniable as it is distasteful. But conservatives are not immune to these Kulturkampf tendencies, either. No, the whole country does not need to be Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It doesn’t need to be Lubbock, Texas, either.

  • T. Becket Adams at The Washington Examiner: “Following Trump’s win, one would think members of the press would reflect more on what they know and don’t know about the electorate they cover. Though some journalists seem to be doing just that, others appear to be extremely upset with the idea that their industry is insular and operating out of a bubble.”

    Ekdahl’s question doesn’t suggest that owning a pickup truck somehow makes one morally superior or “more American” (it’s sort of pointless anyway for someone living in Washington, D.C., or New York City to own a vehicle, let alone a giant, hulking truck. Good luck parking that thing). His question appears to be about the insular nature of media, and whether those who cover the electorate have a broad and significant understanding of American culture.

    The point is that a significant number of people drive pickup trucks. How many national media reporters can say they know one of these drivers? The question seems like a worthwhile exercise in self-reflection for the press, especially after it was so violently broadsided in November by Trump’s victory.

    Becket concludes with this question:

    Rifles are consistently the most manufactured firearm in the U.S., according to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in the U.S., according to the National Rifle Association.

    How many reporters can say they own or know a person who owns an AR-15?

    Hell, no need to even go that far: How many reporters know someone that owns any gun?

    If there’s one thing missing from the commentary, it’s the unspoken moral code liberals bring to the question. The late novelist Michael Crichton noted that environmentalism is the new religion for unchurched urban elites. To them owning a pickup truck makes one an environmental sinner, a moral lapse no less offensive than committing adultery is to a Baptist.

    Declaring you own a truck is declaring you’re a sinner in the eyes of an angry media…