Archive for the ‘Welfare State’ Category

Texas vs. California Update for July 11, 2017

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Long time no Texas vs. California update. I’ve been busy.

  • California’s descent into socialism:

    In the end, we are witnessing the continuation of an evolving class war, pitting the oligarchs and their political allies against the state’s diminished middle and working classes. It might work politically, as the California electorate itself becomes more dependent on government largesse, but it’s hard to see how the state makes ends meet in the longer run without confiscating the billions now held by the ruling tech oligarchs.

  • Lots of comparisons between California and the rest of the nation. Like: “California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits.” And “CA public school teachers the 3rd highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.”
  • All across California, higher pensions equal fewer government services:

    Across California, many local governments have raised taxes while cutting services. Local officials desperate for union support have made irresponsible deals with public employee unions, creating staggering employee costs. Taxpayer money meant to provide essential services to the least well-off instead goes directly to higher salaries and benefits.

    In Santa Barbara County, the 2017-2018 budget calls for laying off nearly 70 employees while dipping into reserve funds. The biggest cuts are to the Department of Social Services, which works to aid low-income families and senior citizens. Meanwhile, $546 million of needed infrastructure improvements go unfunded as Santa Barbara County struggles to pay off $700 million in unfunded pension liabilities. County officials estimate that increasing pension costs may cause hundreds of future layoffs.

    Unfortunately, Santa Barbara County is far from alone. Tuolumne County is issuing layoffs in the face of rising labor and pension costs from previous agreements. In Kern County, a budget shortfall spurred by increased pension costs has led to public safety layoffs, teacher shortages, budget cuts, and the elimination of the Parks and Recreation department, even as Kern County’s unfunded pension liability surpasses $2 billion. In the Santa Ana Unified School District, nearly 300 teachers have been laid off after years of receiving pay raises that made them unaffordable, including a 10% raise in 2015.

    In Riverside County, non-union county employees took the blow for the county’s irresponsible pension deals, as all but one of the 32 employees the county laid off this June were non-union members. This came after contract negotiations granted union employees hundreds of millions of dollars in raises. The Riverside County DA said these raises caused public safety cuts. In addition, Riverside County imposed an extra 1% sales tax to pay for these benefits. Across California, citizens suffer as local governments give away their money while cutting their services.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • That Awkward Moment When Saudi Arabia Is More Pro-American Than California:

    Don’t think I’m going soft on the Saudis. I’ve just not seen a recent image from California where there were this many American flags and none of them were on fire.

    But let’s not forget that we are dealing with a corrupt, degenerate, autocratic state where there is no free speech, where universities are run by fanatics who indoctrinate students with radical ideology; where street thugs aligned with the ruling party freely commit acts of violence against opposing views, and whose ruling elite routinely violates the basic rights of Christians and other minorities. Also, Saudi Arabia is pretty bad too.

  • A piece on California banning public employees from traveling to Texas over various social justice warrior causes. I haven’t met anyone in Texas who doesn’t count that as a win/win situation.
  • The whole thing is an example of California’s Democrat-controlled government favoring virtue signaling over actual governance.

    Whether you agree or disagree with [religious liberty] laws, they don’t seem like any of our state’s business. California passes its share of laws that might offend any number of Nebraskans or North Carolinians, but we don’t see travel bans on official visits to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Federalism is a wonderful thing. Each state gets to pass laws that reflect the values of its voters.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • There was a big, biased piece in New Yorker about Texas politics. Instead of linking to it, I’m going to link to Cahnman’s takedown of it.
  • California pension funds are going broke because math is hard:

    Unlike water deficits, pension deficits compound. As a result, years of healthy investment earnings cannot close pension deficits. Ironically, Walker herself supplies the proof with these two sentences from her op-ed:

    • “[CalPERS’s] investment returns over the last 20 years have averaged 6.7 percent.”
    • “[CalPERS’s] funded ratio [today] is at about 63 percent.”

    Yet CalPERS’s funded ratio 20 years ago was 111 percent! Ie, despite averaging a wonderful 6.7 percent annual return for 20 years, CalPERS’s funded ratio fell 48 percentage points. That’s because pension liabilities compound at high rates.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “Illinois at the brink: Parallel should give Californians pause….As in Illinois, the Democrats who control California politics use their power first and foremost to protect the interests of public employee unions — not the poor and powerless. This has created an entrenched pension-protection complex.”
  • Helping Californians move to Texas isn’t just an idea, it’s a business model:

    Paul Chabot was a hard working candidate for Congress in the Redlands area. He lost twice and decided that California was no longer a decent place to raise his family—so he moved to Texas. Now he is organizing conservatives and family people to move to Texas. There is an effort to re-populate that State of New Hampshire—indeed former San Diego Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian moved to the Granite State, along with thousands of other Americas.

    “So Chabot has found a new pursuit. Last week, he launched the website Conservative Move. It’s a business aimed at helping people leave blue states like California and move places where they might be a little more comfortable — like North Texas, where Chabot and his family moved in January.

    “The purpose of this organization is to help other families create an opportunity where we didn’t have much guidance,” Chabot says.

    After the election, Chabot searched for a community that appeared to uphold the values that he and his family held dear, like safe streets and good schools. Eventually, they decided on McKinney, Texas, a city about 40 miles north of Dallas with a population around 150,000.”

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Missed this for the last Texas vs. California update:

    On Tuesday, May 6th, Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, who are more concerned with the needs of parents, kids and taxpayers than stoking the bureaucracy and complying with teacher union diktats, were elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District board. Reformers are now the majority of the seven member governing body in America’s second largest city.

    Melvoin, especially, was vocal in his campaign that the school district needs a major shake-up, including a call for more charter schools. He also stressed the need for fiscal reform, which includes a reworking of the district’s out-of-control pension and healthcare obligations. In December, LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly told the school board that the district may not be able to meet its financial obligations in the future because it faces a cumulative deficit of $1.46 billion through the 2018-2019 school year. While that dollar amount has been disputed in some quarters, there’s no doubt that the district is facing a budgetary crisis. It’s also no secret that an abysmal graduation rate (pumped up with the help of fake “credit recovery” classes) and shrinking enrollment have taken a serious toll on LAUSD. Also, in 2015, only one in five 4th-grade students in Los Angeles performed at or above “proficient” in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

    Needless to say, anything that bodes well for parents and taxpayers will rankle the teachers unions, and the LA school board race was certainly no exception. Not only did the young Turks (Melvoin is 31 and Gonez 28.), defeat the unions’ candidates, they raised more money – in Melvoin’s case far more – than their opponents. This was a rare occurrence, because historically teachers unions have greatly outspent their opponents to get their candidates elected, especially in high-profile elections. But this time the unions could not compete with the likes of philanthropist Eli Broad who donated $450,000 to the campaign and former LA Mayor Richard Riordan who contributed over $2 million. Additionally, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donated nearly $7 million since last September to CCSA Advocates (the political wing of the California Charter School Association), which spent almost $3 million on the board election.

    On the union side the United Teachers Los Angeles was the big spender, pitching in about $4.13 million, according to city filings. But much of this money came from the UTLA’s national partners. The American Federation of Teachers gave UTLA $1.2 million and National Education Association, $700,000.

  • More on the same subject. “Melvoin, especially, was vocal in his campaign that the school district needed a major shakeup, calling for more charter schools. He also stressed the need for fiscal reform, including a reworking of the district’s out-of-control pension and health-care obligations.”
  • California teacher who was laid off shortly after winning her school’s Teacher of the Year award takes her union to court:

    Bhavini Bhakta never intended to become an activist, but after being laid off six times in the first eight years of her career as an elementary school teacher in the Pasadena suburbs, she decided to get involved in the education reform movement. She focused first on challenging seniority-based layoffs, which in turn led her into conflict with the California Teachers Association. Now she is a plaintiff in Bain v. CTA, a case which challenges the dues structure of unions as a violation of the First Amendment. The suit seeks to restore voting rights on union matters to agency fee payers, who pay full dues for representational activities but opt out of paying for lobbying and political activities.

    “The state union forcibly takes our money and uses it to misrepresent us. They’re not serving the teachers on the ground,” she said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. “They’re using my money for their own purposes.”

  • Tenure reform is the only big education reform under debate in California this year.
  • Back in May: ICE Nabs 188 In LA During 5-Day Operation. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Soros-Linked Groups Behind California Ban on Detaining Illegal Immigrants.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California uses one credit card to pay off another. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Amid Funding Shortfall, Santa Ana Raises Median Police Compensation Above $213,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California Democrats receive death threats for daring to point out that single-payer socialized medicine bill is pie-in-the-sky malarkey without a funding mechanism.
  • Let California try single payer…and deal with the consequences.
  • So how’s that minimum wage hike working out? At least 60 restaurants around the Bay Area had closed since September.
  • San Francisco has a staggering $5.8 billion pension liability, and a series of retroactive benefit increases approved by voters over a dozen years is largely to blame.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California farmer facing a $2.8 million fine for plowing his own field. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • California voters pass legislative transparency measure. California’s Democratic legislators ignore it. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Committing felonies on the job is no reason to give up your cushy pension:

    Mark Peterson, the Contra Costa district attorney forced to resign as part of a felony perjury conviction, cut a sweet plea deal with state prosecutors allowing him to keep most of his pension.

    The deal will probably let him walk away with starting annual retirement payments of about $128,000 in addition to Social Security benefits. That’s because he pleaded no contest to only the most recent of 13 felony counts stemming from his illegal tapping of campaign funds for personal use.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “California Democrats Want Data on Lobbyists’ Race, Sexual Orientation.” Social justice Warriors wanting to milk the graft cash cow? Get the popcorn!
  • San Francisco to pay illegal alien $190,000 for violating their own sanctuary city policy. (Hat tip: Gabriel Malor’s Twitter feed.)
  • Just how big is Houston? Take a look at these overlay maps.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott celebrates the opening of Toyota’s American headquarters in Plano:

    Today we celebrate another milestone marking the incredible momentum of Texas’ continuing economic expansion. Toyota Motor North America joins Hulu, Jacobs Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kubota, Jamba Juice, Sabre and many other innovative industry leaders who have decided to go big in Texas.

    Our greatest natural resource in the Lone Star State is the hardworking people of Texas. And that work ethic draws global leaders like Toyota to Texas every day. With the second-largest workforce in the nation at more than 13 million strong, Texas continues to be a national leader in job creation. In fact, more Texans have jobs today than ever before, even as more people are moving here every year from states that overtax and overregulate.

  • Why Texas is so attractive for business relocation:

    During his latter years in office as Texas governor, Rick Perry made it a priority to lure businesses to the state, particularly from California. Two-and-a-half years into the term of Gov. Greg Abbott, the successor to Perry, the pace of corporate relocations to the Lone Star State shows no signs of slowing down.

    Much has been written about the state’s business-friendly environment. Most businesses in Texas that aren’t sole proprietorships or partnerships pay a 1 percent or lower “franchise tax,” in lieu of a traditional corporate income tax. In addition, the state’s governing bodies tend to favor minimal regulations and sponsor research and development initiatives.

    The state’s economy is healthy, evident by strong employment growth. The Texas Workforce Commission reports a net gain of 210,000 jobs across the state in 2016, and employers are projected to add another 225,000 jobs in 2017.

    Equally important to strong job growth is the quality of life that employees are promised upon relocating.

    According to Robert Allen, president of the Texas Economic Development Corp., the lifestyle element is perhaps the most common incentive for moving to Texas among executives and employees alike.

    “When we ask executives why they’re moving to Texas, what we hear is that providing a high quality of life for their workforces is number one on their lists,” says Allen.

    “Employees back that claim up. They’re able to buy larger houses, keep more of their incomes, send their kids to good schools and live in safe neighborhoods. This makes it easier for employees to take a leap of faith,” he adds.

    Texas has no personal income tax. Its education system currently ranks 21st based on a state-by-state study by wallethub.com, a credit scoring and reporting site. The study considers factors such as average SAT/ACT score, dropout rates, student-teacher ratios, graduation rate for low-income students and remote-learning opportunities within online public schools. The Huffington Post also notes that Texas has the fourth-highest graduation rate in the country, despite its ever-growing population and high percentage of non-native-English-speaking students.

    And according to a recent study from the NYU School of Law, while violent crime rates are rising in urban areas throughout the country, they’re holding steady in Texas. The state’s murder rate falls in the middle of the pack despite it being a national leader in population growth.

  • And Californians are still flocking to Texas.
  • Los Angeles, San Francisco homeless woes worsen despite funding boosts.”
  • “Federal judge blocks California ban on high-capacity magazines.” Note that’s not just a sale ban: “The law would have barred people from possessing magazines containing more than 10 bullets.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “A former Diablo Valley College professor was arrested Wednesday in connection with the use of a bike lock in the beating of three people during a rally for President Donald Trump last month, police said Thursday.” I guess that’s the “high road” liberals keep talking about… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Bonus: He was tracked down by 4Chan, who are supposedly working on a face database of Antifa members.
  • Student Agreed to Orgy, But Later Called It Sexual Assault, Lawsuit Claims. Judge says that University of California, Santa Barbara, may have denied accused male student due process.”
  • “San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee recently proposed legislation that would prohibit autonomous delivery robots – which includes those with a remote human operator – on public streets in the city.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz Just As Good at Cybersecurity as at Running the DNC

    Thursday, May 25th, 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz has long been the gift that keeps giving for Republicans. Her tenure at the top of the DNC saw dramatic declines Democratic Party officeholder at a time when Obama was still (theoretically) personally popular. Now her incompetence may be endangering not just the Democratic Party, but American security.

    Remember earlier this year when three Pakistani brothers (Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan) who managed office IT for Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computer networks without permission?

    Refresher:

    Jamal handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.

    “As of 2/2, his employment with our office has been terminated,” Castro spokeswoman Erin Hatch told TheDCNF Friday.

    Jamal also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.

    Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier, a California Democrat. Carson and Speier are members of the intelligence committee. Spokesmen for Carson and Speier did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comments. Imran also worked for the House office of Wasserman-Schultz.

    Then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, employed Abid for IT work in 2016. She was a member of House committees dealing with the armed services, oversight, and Benghazi. Duckworth was elected to the Senate in November, 2016. Abid has a prior criminal record and a bankruptcy.

    Abid also worked for Rep. Lois Frankel, a Florida Democrat who is member of the foreign affairs committee.

    Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat who was previously the target of a disastrous email hack when she served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.

    In addition to the brothers Awam, two more staffers, Hina Alvi (Imran Awan’s wife, who worked for Rep. Gregory Meeks (Democrat, New York) and Rao Abbas, were also fired. “The five current and former House staffers are accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”

    (Though reports often list five members, Natalia Sova, another Awan wife, also worked as a staffer.)

    So when they were accused of stealing and improperly accessing information, they were fired, right? No. Because they were Muslims:

    Meeks said he was hesitant to believe the accusations against Alvi, Imran Awan and the three other staffers, saying their background as Muslim Americans, some with ties to Pakistan, could make them easy targets for false charges.

    “I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion. We want to make sure everybody is entitled to due process,” Meeks said.

    “They had provided great service for me. And there were certain times in which they had permission by me, if it was Hina or someone else, to access some of my data.”

    [Rep. Marcia] Fudge [Democrat, Ohio] told Politico on Tuesday she would employ Imran Awan until he received “due process.”

    “He needs to have a hearing. Due process is very simple. You don’t fire someone until you talk to them,” Fudge said.

    On Wednesday, Lauren Williams, a spokeswoman for Fudge, wouldn’t provide details about Imran Awan’s firing but did confirm he was still employed in Fudge’s office as of Tuesday afternoon.

    The bottom line is simple – these House Democrats decided it was better to be at risk of hacking and extortion than to be accused of racism.

    Then it came to light that “House IT Aides Fear Suspects In Hill Breach Are Blackmailing Members With Their Own Data.” Turns out that the Awan brothers were incompetent at their jobs, but House Democrats refused to fire them or consider cheaper employees.

    Also this: “Court records show the brothers ran a side business that owed $100,000 to an Iranian fugitive who has been tied to Hezbollah, and their stepmother says they often send money to Pakistan.”

    More on that lovely individual the Awan brothers do business with:

    The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has reported that while working for Congress, the Pakistani brothers controlled a limited liability corporation called Cars International A (CIA), a car dealership with odd finances, which took–and was unable to repay–a $100,000 loan from Dr. Ali Al-Attar.

    Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, wrote that Attar “was observed in Beirut, Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official” in 2012–shortly after the loan was made. Attar has also been accused of helping provoke the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a leader of Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam Hussein.

    After moving to the U.S., Attar made his money practicing medicine in Maryland and Virginia and defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies by billing for non-existent medical procedures. The FBI raided his offices in 2009 and the Department of Health and Human Services sued his business partner in 2011.

    Attar was indicted in March 2012 on separate tax fraud charges after the IRS and FBI found he used multiple bank accounts to hide income. He fled back to Iraq to avoid prison.

    “He’s a fugitive. I am not aware of any extradition treaty with Iraq,”

    Then the story of the Awan brothers’ security breech took yet another strange turn:

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite.

    The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.

    The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.

    “My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

    “We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.

    “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.

    As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members.

    In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police’s annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case.

    “If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” she said.

    Police tell her it is important to “an ongoing investigation,” but presses for its return anyway.

    The investigation is examining members’ data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010.

    The congresswoman characterizes the evidence as “belonging” to her and argues that therefore it cannot be seized unless Capitol Police tell her that she personally, as opposed to her staffer, is a target of the investigation.

    When TheDCNF asked Wasserman Schultz Monday if it could inquire about her strong desire for the laptop, she said “No, you may not.” After TheDCNF asked why she wouldn’t want the Capitol Police to have any evidence they may need to find and punish any hackers of government information, she abruptly turned around in the middle of a stairwell and retreated back to the office from which she had come.

    Very curious indeed.

    It seems that Wasserman Schultz (and very possibly other Democratic congressmen) would prefer to see American intelligence compromised rather than have embarrassing personal information revealed. One wonders if the dismissed staffers were conveying information to overseas jihadis, or if they had incriminating information on any of the DNC, Obama or Hillary Clinton scandals so much in the news.

    Stay tuned…

    Texas vs. California Update for May 22, 2017

    Monday, May 22nd, 2017

    We’re in the home stretch of hammering out the Texas biannual state budget, which has to be completed by May 29. Until then, enjoy another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Texas is once again ranked the best state for business, while California is ranked the worst. (Hat tip: Will Franklin’s Twitter feed.)
  • California’s big-government model eats its young:

    In this era of anti-Trump resistance, many progressives see California as a model of enlightenment. The Golden State’s post-2010 recovery has won plaudits in the progressive press from the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, among others. Yet if one looks at the effects of the state’s policies on key Democratic constituencies— millennials, minorities, and the poor—the picture is dismal. A recent United Way study found that close to one-third of state residents can barely pay their bills, largely due to housing costs. When adjusted for these costs, California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty.

    California is home to 77 of the country’s 297 most “economically challenged” cities, based on poverty and unemployment levels. The population of these cities totals more than 12 million. In his new book on the nation’s urban crisis, author Richard Florida ranks three California metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego— among the five most unequal in the nation. California, with housing prices 230 percent above the national average, is home to many of the nation’s most unaffordable urban areas, including not only the predictably expensive large metros but also smaller cities such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Unsurprisingly, the state’s middle class is disappearing the fastest of any state.

    California’s young population is particularly challenged. As we spell out in our new report from Chapman University and the California Association of Realtors, California has the third-lowest percentage of people aged 25 to 34 who own their own homes—only New York and Hawaii’s are lower. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, the 25-to-34 homeownership rates range from 19.6 percent to 22.6 percent—40 percent or more below the national average.

  • California continues to slouch toward socialized medicine. “California’s current system relies in large part on employer-sponsored insurance, which is still the source of health care coverage for tens of millions of people. That coverage would disappear under SB 562. Instead of receiving coverage financed by their employers, working Californians would see a tax increase of well over $10,000 per year for many middle-income families.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • “If you live in California, have a job and pay taxes Governor Jerry Brown would like you to know that you’re a freeloader and he’s tired of your complaining.”
  • “Congratulations, California. You keep electing these same Democrats over and over again. and then you act surprised when they make you one of the most heavily taxed populations in the country. And when you finally raise your voices to protest the out of control taxation and spending, the state party’s titular leader is brazen enough to come straight out and tell you what he really thinks of you.”
  • Has the Democrats latest gas tax hike created an actual tax revolt in California? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • One lawmaker is the target of a recall petition over the tax hike: “Perceived as the most vulnerable of the legislative Democrats who passed Gov. Jerry Brown’s gas and vehicle tax package by a razor-thin margin, freshman state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, faced an intensifying campaign to turn him out of office, potentially depriving his party of the two-thirds majority that allowed them to pass Brown’s infrastructure bill in the first place.”
  • Vance Ginn’s monthly summary of Texas economic data. Lot’s of data, including the fact that all major Texas cities created jobs in 2016 except Houston, which was down just a smidge.
  • San Bernardino could go bankrupt again.
  • Buying a house in Southern California is insane. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • California starts selling bonds for the doomed “high speed rail.”
  • 40-60 “youth” flash mob robs passengers on Oakland BART train. The complete absence of descriptions or pictures cues the astute modern American reader in to the ethnic makeup of the mob. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Gov. Jerry Brown and state Treasurer John Chiang have a plan to help cover the state’s soaring pension payments: Borrow money at low interest rates and invest it to make a profit. What could go wrong?” I can see it now: “Come on seven! Baby needs a new High Speed Rail!” Also this: “The problem was exacerbated because Brown’s so-called pension “reform” of 2012 failed to significantly rein in retirement costs. Statewide pension debt has increased 36 percent since his changes took effect.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Riverside utilities dispatcher triples salary to nearly $400,000 with state’s 10th largest overtime payout.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And speaking of California public employees working overtime:

    The time cards Oakland city worker Kenny Lau turned in last year paint a stunning, if not improbable, picture of one man’s work ethic.

    Lau, a civil engineer, often started his days at 10 a.m. and clocked out at 4 a.m., only to get back to work at 10 a.m. for another marathon day. He never took a sick day. He worked every weekend and took no vacation days.

    He worked every holiday, including the most popular ones that shut down much of the nation’s businesses: 12 hours on Thanksgiving and eight hours on Christmas.

    In fact, his time cards show he worked all 366 days of the leap year, at times putting in 90-plus-hour workweeks. He worked so much that he quadrupled his salary. His regular compensation and overtime pay — including benefits, $485,275 — made him the city’s highest-paid worker and the fourth-highest overtime earner of California public employees in 2016.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District has decided it can break federal immigration laws at will. “No immigration officers will be allowed on campus without clearance from the superintendent of schools, who will consult with district lawyers. Until that happens, they won’t be let in, even if they arrive with a legally valid subpoena.” There’s no way such a genius decision could possibly backfire on them… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • How California hurts the poor by jacking up traffic fines. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “San Diego using loophole to hand out large raises during pay freeze.” It’s a blatant attempt to evade Proposition B.
  • An auditor funds the University of California President’s office of Janet Napolitano had a secret slush fund:
    • The Office of the President has accumulated more than $175 million in undisclosed restricted and discretionary reserves;
      as of fiscal year 2015–16, it had $83 million in its restricted reserve and $92 million in its discretionary reserve.

    • More than one-third of its discretionary reserve, or $32 million, came from unspent funds from the campus assessment—an annual charge that the Office of the President levies on campuses to fund the majority of its discretionary operations.
    • In certain years, the Office of the President requested and received approval from the Board of Regents (regents) to
      increase the campus assessment even though it had not spent all of the funds it received from campuses in prior years.

    • The Office of the President did not disclose the reserves it had accumulated, nor did it inform the regents of the annual undisclosed budget that it created to spend some of those funds. The undisclosed budget ranged from $77 million to
      $114 million during the four years we reviewed.

    • The Office of the President was unable to provide a complete listing of the systemwide initiatives, their costs, or an assessment of their continued benefit to the university.
    • While it appears that the Office of the President’s administrative spending increased by 28 percent, or $80 million, from fiscal years 2012–13 through 2015–16, the Office of the President continues to lack consistent definitions of and methods for tracking the university’s administrative expenses.

    An Ex-Obama Administration official with a secret slush fund? What are the odds?

  • Texas continues to attract net in-migration from every region.
  • California wants to tax rockets launched from California into orbit, based on miles traveled away from California. I’m sure many of Texas own spaceflight companies will welcome any business California drives out…
  • Speaking of spaceflight, Elon Musk’s Space X, just like Telsa, is more emblematic of subsidies and special favors than the free market:

    Tesla survives on the back of hefty subsidies paid for by hard-working Americans just barely getting by so that a select few can drive flashy, expensive electric sports cars. These subsidies were originally scheduled to expire later this year, and Tesla is lobbying hard to make sure that taxpayers continue to pay $7,500 per car or more to fund their business model. Tesla even tried to force taxpayers to pay for charging stations that would primarily benefit their business. That is not what Musk’s high priced image managers will tell you, but it’s the truth.

    SpaceX is even worse — its business model isn’t to invest its money developing competing space products that meet the same safety and reliability standards as the rest of the industry. Instead, its business model is to get billions in taxpayer money and push, bend, and demand regulatory special favors. Then, it produces a rocket that is more known for failed launches, long delays, and consistently missed deadlines.

  • How California’s air emission rules went to far.
  • “California may end ban on communists in government jobs.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Bachrach Clothing Stores File for Bankruptcy Protection in Los Angeles.”
  • “California solar installer HelioPower filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada.”
  • Hudson Products relocating from Tulsa to Rosenberg, Texas.
  • “Bay Area bookseller Bill Petrocelli is filing a lawsuit against the state of California, hoping to force a repeal of the state’s controversial ‘Autograph Law.’ The law, booksellers claim, threatens to bury bookstore author signings under red tape and potential liabilities. Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, filed Passage v. Becerra in U.S. District Court for the North District of California, pitting the bookstore against California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.” As a bookseller on the side, I can tell you that California’s law is particularly asinine and is completely ignorant of the signed book trade.
  • LinkSwarm for May 12, 2017

    Friday, May 12th, 2017

    Lots of border control news at the top of today’s LinkSwarm:

  • “According to figures released yesterday, the number of illegal aliens crossing the U.S. southwestern border has dropped by an astonishing 76% since President Trump took office.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Authorities Arrest 1,378 in ICE-Led Operation Targeting Gangs.” More: “The majority, 955, of those arrested were U.S. citizens, while 445 were foreign nationals from around the world.” Also: Three were Obama’s “Dreamers.”
  • “If the Trump administration is serious about controlling illegal immigration and illegal alien driven crime, it should begin by going after employers who hire illegal aliens. The move would not only help to prevent the exploitation of illegal immigrants, but it would also help to foster higher-paying jobs for American workers.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Maryland Democrats shocked, shocked to discover that legal immigrants who followed the rules aren’t wild about sanctuary city BS for illegal aliens. (Hat tip: Louder With Crowder via The Other McCain.)
  • “James Clapper: Still no evidence of any Russian collusion with Trump campaign.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • From the House to the Big House: Former Florida Democratic Representative Corrine Brown was found guilty on fraud and tax evasion charges.
  • Democrats had a real shot at winning the Omaha Mayor’s race…until the DNC came in and pulled all support to punish pro-life heresy.
  • “Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, has announced that it will exit all Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 after experiencing massive losses in 2016 and 2017.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • On the Democratic Party’s civil war:

    If Obama is really responsible for Democrat losses, then the party and its donors just bought first class seats on the Titanic. That’s why Democrat autopsies of the defeat remain so explosive. Blame can be apportioned to white people, to racism, Islamophobia and to Global Warming, but not to Barack Obama.

    Keith Ellison was the best messenger Sanders had to take a shot at Barry. Black loyalty to Obama is still the third rail of politics. And Ellison is one of the few black people in the Sanders inner circle. Obama’s pricey Wall Street speech offered the opportunity for a more direct attack from Bernie Sanders.

    “I just think it is distasteful,” Bernie slurred on CNN. “At a time when we have so much income and wealth inequality … it just does not look good.”

    The attack went to the heart of his differences with Obama. Unlike the Clinton era, the split is no longer between the left and the radical left. Obama and Sanders are both representatives of the radical left.

    But they don’t represent the same radical left.

    Bernie embodies the old left. Its mantra is class warfare. There is a great deal of talk about billionaires, working people and the ruling class. Obama pays lip service to that same rhetoric, but his is the program of the intersectional left. The intersectional left is far more interested in identity than class. It defines its organization around a coalition of racial, sexual and other minorities. Where Bernie wants to talk to the working class, the intersectional left wants to hear from transgender Muslim women of color.

    The differences aren’t just intellectual. They define the tactics and agenda of the Democrats.

    When Tom Perez, Obama’s DNC boss, recently read pro-life Democrats out of the party, he was following the Obama blueprint. Bernie meanwhile went on campaigning for a somewhat pro-life Dem. Bernie does not really care about abortion, gay rights, transgender bathrooms and the social issues of the intersectional left. The old Socialist follows the older slogan of the hard left. No war, but class war.

    Snip.

    Democrats and the left had long ago replaced pure class warfare with identity politics warfare. Intersectionality entirely displaced and demonized the old Dem white working class base.

    And the Dems paid the price.

    Obama’s reign torched most of the last of that white working class base. Trump’s victories would not have been possible if the Dems had not become a party of wealthy bicoastal urban and suburban elites who were out of touch with the South and the Rust Belt. And who were proud to be out of touch with a bunch of “ignorant racist, sexist homophobes” still “clinging to their guns and religion”.

    The clash between Bernie and Obama is also over the autopsy of Hillary’s defeat. Did the Dems lose because they failed to turn out the base as effectively as Obama had or because former Obama voters had come out for Trump? Should the Dems try to appeal to working class whites with a class warfare pitch or work harder to turn out the intersectional coalitions of minority voters?

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The U.S. is arming Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State despite Turkish opposition. Good. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • 10% of French voters turn up at polls only to spoil their ballot in disgust.
  • Mark Steyn covers the French election:

    The French have voted to postpone their rendezvous with destiny. But kicking the croissant down the road means another half-decade of demographic transformation that lengthens the odds against ever winning the numbers to halt it….

    Yet the fact is that, with the arrival of President Macron in the charmed circle, the leaders of Europe’s biggest economies and of all the European members of the G7 are childless: Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May, Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni, and now France’s Macron.

    This would have been not just statistically improbable but all but impossible for most of human history. Whatever Euro-politics is about, it’s not, as Bill Clinton was wont to say, the future of all our children. Indeed, of the six founding members of the European Union – France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg – five are led by childless prime ministers: joining Merkel, Gentiloni and Macron at the no-need-for-daycare Euro-summit are the Dutch PM Mark Rutte and the Luxemburger Xavier Bettel. Mark Rutte is single and childless. Xavier Bettel of Lux is married, but gay and, hélas, for the moment without progeny….

    That’s the demographics of Western Europe writ small. The Eurocrats are a Continental version of the Shakers: They’re apparently forbidden to breed, and can only increase their numbers through conversion. From Nice to Cologne to Rosengård, a significant proportion of New Europeans seem to think that, au contraire, they’ll be the ones doing the converting.

  • Sally Yates was the real blackmailer.”
  • Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto wants choose senators based on diversity rather than all those annoying elections. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Canada arrests 104 men on child sex trafficking charges. The Other McCain notices a certain pattern to the names of those arrested that will be familiar to those that followed the Rotherham child sex trafficking scandal:

    Suresh Patel, 49; Muhammad Jaffer, 22; Muhammad Sarchami, 31; Hernando Carvajal, 29; Intekhab Shaikh, 42; Sakhi Alekozai, 29; Shamim Abowath, 54; Ruchir Shah, 34; Nima Latifpour, 25; Sanjay Ninan, 42; Jaipal Sidhu, 26; Adeniran Adekola, 33; Ming Wong, 39; Zan He, 33; Segundo Fernandez, 54; Anpalagan Kanapathipillai, 39; Navaneetharan Packianathan, 25; Rajorshi Bhaumik, 34; Miguel Feliciano, 38; Virushan Premanathan, 25; Suhayl Rajan, 24; Sivanesan Veerasingam, 50; Jamshid Jalilian, 25; Zhi Situ, 22; Tejash Patel, 33; Quang Tran, 37; Ravikumar Ghandhi, 31; Ahmad Hassan, 21; Anshu Manocha, 33; Sivaratnam Sinnappillai, 39; Naidu Matas, 54; Paramjit Sandhi, 35; Hari Bhaskar, 55; Ramy Kawar, 39; Zu Liang Xiao, 28; Ali Mansourinajand, 24; Ramiz Multani, 25

  • AC-130 gunship now comes with a 105mm Howitzer option. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Wargaming a second Korean war. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B space plane finally lands after circling Earth for “an unprecedented 718 days.”
  • UT stabbing spree followup: The stabber “was suffering from mental illness and didn’t seem to be targeting anyone in particular during his Monday afternoon spree, police said Tuesday.”
  • “‘Chicago Is A War Zone’: Police Suicide Rate Surges To 60% Above The National Average.”
  • Gun-blogger Bob Owens dead of apparent suicide. Unlike many in the blogsphere, I didn’t know Owens personally, but we did follow each other on Twitter. RIP.
  • Windows 10 on ARM supports x86 apps, and Microsoft says your 32-bit applications should run just fine. Won’t make me use it, but for some people…
  • Behold the #BowWowChallenge.
  • Bucket-eye view of critters drinking water.
  • Texas vs. California Update for April 20, 2017

    Thursday, 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.)
  • LinkSwarm for February 24, 2017

    Friday, February 24th, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Here in Texas, Spring has sprung, full stop.

  • The elites are revolting:

    It’s no coincidence that the most vocal outcry against President Trump’s measures have come from urban elites and the corporations that cater to them. It’s easy to spot the class divides in the scoffing at Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company behind Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, getting a cabinet position instead of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg who had been tipped for Treasury Secretary by Hillary.

    Carl’s Jr and its 4 Dollar Real Deal are a world away from Facebook’s Gehry designed Menlo Park headquarters. Or as a WWE tournament is from Conde Nast’s Manhattan skyscraper.

    It’s hard to imagine a clearer contrast between coastal elites and the heartland, and between the new economy and the old. On the one side are the glittering cities where workforces of minorities and immigrants do the dirty work behind the slick logos and buzzwords of the new economy. On the other are Rust Belt communities and Southern towns who actually used to make things.

    Facebook’s top tier geniuses enjoy the services of an executive chef, treadmill workstations and a bike repair shop walled off from East Palo Alto’s Latino population and the crime and gang violence. And who works in Facebook’s 11 restaurants or actually repairs the bikes in the back room? Or looks through the millions of pictures posted on timelines to screen out spam, pornography and racism?

    Behind the illusion of a shiny new future are Mexicans getting paid a few dollars an hour to decide if that Italian Renaissance painting you just shared violates Facebook’s content guidelines.

    If you live in the world of Facebook, Lyft, Netflix and Airbnb, crowding into airports shouting, “No Borders, No Nations, Stop The Deportations” makes sense. You don’t live in a country. You live in one of a number of interchangeable megacities or their bedroom communities. Patriotism is a foreign concept. You have no more attachment to America than you do to Friendster or MySpace. The nation state is an outdated system of social organization that is being replaced by more efficient systems of global governance. The only reason anyone would cling to nations or borders is racism.

    The demographic most opposed to President Trump is not a racial minority, but a cultural elite.

    This isn’t a revolution. The revolutions happened in June in the UK and in November in the US. Brexit and Trump were revolutions. The protests against them are a reaction.

  • In the midst of freaking out, Instapundit notes that our elites are displaying why they’re unfit to rule:

    Why all the anger over Trump?

    As I’ve pondered this, I’ve gone back to Tyler Cowen’s statement: “Occasionally the real force behind a political ideology is the subconsciously held desire that a certain group of people should not be allowed to rise in relative status.”

    I think that a lot of the elite hatred for Trump, and for his supporters, stems from just such a sentiment. For decades now, the educated meritocrats who ran America — the “Best and the Brightest,” in David Halberstam’s not-actually-complimentary term — have enjoyed tremendous status, regardless of election results.

    An election’s turn might see some moving to the private sector — say as K street lobbyists or high-priced lawyers or consultants — while a different batch of meritocrats take their positions in government. But even so, their status remained unchallenged: They were always the insiders, the elite, the winners, regardless of which team came out ahead in the elections.

    But as Nicholas Ebserstadt notes, that changed in November. To the privileged and well-educated Americans living in their “bicoastal bastions,” things seemed to be going quite well, even as the rest of the country fell farther and farther behind. But, writes Eberstadt: “It turns out that the year 2000 marks a grim historical milestone of sorts for our nation. For whatever reasons, the Great American Escalator, which had lifted successive generations of Americans to ever higher standards of living and levels of social well-being, broke down around then — and broke down very badly.

    “The warning lights have been flashing, and the klaxons sounding, for more than a decade and a half. But our pundits and prognosticators and professors and policymakers, ensconced as they generally are deep within the bubble, were for the most part too distant from the distress of the general population to see or hear it.”

    Well, now they’ve heard it, and they’ve also heard that a lot of Americans resent the meritocrats’ insulation from what’s happening elsewhere, especially as America’s unfortunate record over the past couple of decades, whether in economics, in politics, or in foreign policy, doesn’t suggest that the “meritocracy” is overflowing with, you know, actual merit.

    In the United States, the result has been Trump. In Britain, the result was Brexit. In both cases, the allegedly elite — who are supposed to be cool, considered, and above the vulgar passions of the masses — went more or less crazy. From conspiracy theories (it was the Russians!) to bizarre escape fantasies (A Brexit vote redo! A military coup to oust Trump!) the cognitive elite suddenly didn’t seem especially elite, or for that matter particularly cognitive.

    In fact, while America was losing wars abroad and jobs at home, elites seemed focused on things that were, well, faintly ridiculous. As Richard Fernandez tweeted: “The elites lost their mojo by becoming absurd. It happened on the road between cultural appropriation and transgender bathrooms.” It was fatal: “People believe from instinct. The Roman gods became ridiculous when the Roman emperors did. PC is the equivalent of Caligula’s horse.”

  • You have to read this Glenn Greenwald piece on what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. “The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.” Never mind that Greenwald ignores one of the big elephants in the room (the Social Justice Warrior/victimhood identity politics brigade doing such a bang-up job alienating American voters). His description of the other elephant in the room, the party’s fundamentally corrupt and anti-Democratic nature, is fairly acute.
  • The number of Republicans passes the number of Democrats in Gallup’s Party ID tracking poll. This has happened a few times before, but the mere 25% for Democrats does appear to be the lowest rating ever.
  • All the Trump Derangement is masking the Democratic Party’s own civil war. “There is no Barack Obama among the ranks of current Democrats. He simply does not exist. That truth, and Hillary’s defeat, means the years ahead will be ones of rebuilding and rebranding. So far, it’s not going well.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Seven days in February. “Why were former Obama-administration appointees or careerist officials tapping the phone calls of an incoming Trump designate and then leaking the tapes to their pets in the press?” Also this: “The Democratic party has been absorbed by its left wing and is beginning to resemble the impotent British Labour party. Certainly it no longer is a national party.”
  • “The Social Security Administration paid $1 billion in benefits to individuals who did not have a Social Security Number.”
  • “This is what Chuck Todd and others like him fail to accept or comprehend: The mainstream media have delegitimized themselves. Republicans and independents watched for eight long years as Todd and others of his ilk did their best to help and support the last administration; not only refusing to hold President Obama to account (the way they are imploring each other to do with Trump) but providing cover for him.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Turns out that patiently explaining to the deplorable redneck freaks of JesusLand why they’re ignorant rubes that need to be ruled for their own good doesn’t win votes.
  • MSNBC: Controlling what people thing is our job.
  • A look at the shell games played by the dark money left. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • With President Trump, America has an administration that is finally willing to name radical Islam as the enemy.
  • Women celebrate being liberated from the Islamic State. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • President Trump contemplates designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and the New York Times freaks out. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Texas preschool teacher fired for tweeting to “kill some Jews.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Marine Le Pen is winning over French women. In addition to refusing to wear a headscarf, “Le Pen again vowed to protect French women after the mass sexual assault by groups of men in Cologne, Germany, just over a year ago in an op-ed that tied together immigration and women rights.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Part of Geert Wilders’ security detail has been suspended for possibly leaking details of Wilders locations to Jihadest groups. “Secret Service chief Erik Akerboom said he could not confirm the man’s identity but confirmed media reports he has a ‘Moroccan background.'”
  • Fourth circuit court decides to just ignore Heller.
  • The AFL-CIO is is cutting staff “amid continuing declines in union membership.” Faster, please. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Paul Krugman, the Cleveland Browns of economists. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • If you’re looking for a pundit with a clear-eyed vision of where President Donald Trump is going, Ross Douthat is not your man.
  • NASA contemplates a bold leap forward to 1968.
  • Men who SWATed, sent heroin to Brian Krebs’ house sentenced.
  • Cahnman’s Musings has a roundup of what various school district Superintendents make. It’s an interesting list, though I personally would not have broken it up by Texas House committee chairman. I’m not surprised that they average a low six figures, or that the Superintendents of Houston and Dallas ISD make in excess of $300,000. Why I don’t understand is why the Superintendent for Galena Park ISD, a working class school district with 22,549 students and a single 4A high school, makes $270,531, or 90% of the what the HISD Superintendent makes…
  • Feminist derangement syndrome: “I was walking into a gas station for a bottle of water when the man behind me stepped up to open the door for me. With that act of kindness, something inside me snapped and I flew into a blind rage. I began screaming at him at the top of my lungs.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Trump Administration to Social Justice Warriors: No tranny bathrooms for you!
  • “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women” says ex-WNBA player Candice Wiggins, who says she was bullied and harassed for being straight. This is not exactly a surprise, thought that 98% number may be slightly high. I casually followed the WNBA back when the Houston Comets were dominating the league, but haven’t paid attention since they folded. Today half of the teams still lose money. But I’m sure their popularity will skyrocket any day now…

  • Vice President Mike Pence helps repair vandalism at a Jewish cemetery.
  • I have heard the bots reverting, each to each. I do not think that they will revert for me…
  • Are you smuggeling illegal butter, comrade?
  • Texas vs. California Update for February 15, 2017

    Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

    Welcome to another Texas vs. California Roundup!

  • California Governor Jerry Brown wants to hike gas taxes by 42% to bail out CalPERS.
  • Brown’s pension reforms have failed:

    Since 2012 passage of his much-heralded changes to state retirement laws for public employee, the pension debt foisted on California taxpayers has only grown larger.

    The shortfall for California’s three statewide retirement systems has increased about 36 percent. Add in local pension systems and the total debt has reached at least $374 billion. That works out to about $29,000 per household.

    It’s actually much worse than that. Those numbers are calculated using the pension systems’ overly optimistic assumptions about future investment earnings.

    Using more conservative assumptions, the debt could be more than $1 trillion.

  • And speaking of Brown: Math is hard.
  • Why California can’t repair its infrastructure: “California’s government, like the federal government and most other state and local governments, spends its money on salaries, benefits, pensions, and other forms of employee compensation. The numbers are contentious — for obvious political reasons — but it is estimated that something between half and 80 percent of California’s state and local spending ultimately goes to employee compensation.”
  • Put another way: “Governor Moonbeam and the other leftist kooks in charge are flushing a staggering $10 billion down an unneeded high-speed rail project, on top of the still more staggering $25.3 billion per year they spend on the illegal aliens they have gone out of their way to welcome.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California can’t afford green energy:

    California has the highest taxes overall in the nation, worst roads, underperforming schools, and the recent budget has at least a $1.6 billion shortfall.

    Moreover, depending on how the numbers are analyzed California has either a $1.3 or a $2.8 trillion outstanding debt. This is before counting the maintenance work needed for infrastructure, particularly roads, bridges and water systems. Yet tax increases aren’t covering these obligations.

  • Three of the ten least affordable cities in the World are in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.
  • Austin named best city to live in the U.S. But wait! San Jose ranks third! I can only assume that “affordability” was not a significant criteria. Dallas/Ft. Worth ranks 15th (one ahead of San Francisco), Houston 20th, San Antonio 23rd (one behind San Diego).
  • “A sizzling residential real estate market fueled by incoming Californians, low supply, high demand, flat salaries, and local property taxes are pricing people out of homeownership in Austin.” More: “The Texas A&M Real Estate Center examined the Austin local market area (LMA) over five years. In January 2011, the Austin-Georgetown-Round Rock area median home prices were $199,700. By January 2015, that median hovered at $287,000. At the end of 2016, university real estate analysts found the home mid-price point at $332,000.” Of course, in my neck of the woods, $332,000 will buy you a 2,500 square foot house, while in San Francisco, you’d be lucky to find a 500 square foot condo…
  • “An IGS-UC Berkeley poll shows that 74 percent of Californians want sanctuary cities ended; 65 percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans.”
  • Of the top 20 cities for illegal aliens, five (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Riverside) are in California, while three (Houston, Austin and Dallas/Ft. Worth) are in Texas. I’m actually a bit surprised to see that San Antonio isn’t on that list, while Seattle and Boston are. “American citizens who paid into the system don’t receive benefits like long-term medical care because — in part — we’re all subsidizing aliens.”
  • California pays $25.3 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $2,370 per household. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • By contrast, Texas pays $12.1 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $1,187 per household. (IBID)
  • “In testimony provided before the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) decided to admit that “half of his family” is residing in the United States illegally and with the possession of falsified Social Security Cards and green cards.”
  • “California spent on high-speed rail and illegal immigrants, but ignored Oroville Dam.”
  • Pensions are breaking budgets across San Diego. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Despite California having some of the best recreation spots in the world, we have systematically reduced our business in California by 50%, and I have a moratorium in place on accepting new business (I won’t even look at RFP’s and proposals to avoid being tempted.)”
  • That same blogger on why his company pulled out of Ventura, California. Like this:

    It took years in Ventura County to make even the simplest modifications to the campground we ran. For example, it took 7 separate permits from the County (each requiring a substantial payment) just to remove a wooden deck that the County inspector had condemned. In order to allow us to temporarily park a small concession trailer in the parking lot, we had to (among other steps) take a soil sample of the dirt under the asphalt of the parking lot. It took 3 years to permit a simple 500 gallon fuel tank with CARB and the County equivalent. The entire campground desperately needed a major renovation but the smallest change would have triggered millions of dollars of new facility requirements from the County that we simply could not afford.

    And this:

    A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing “safe” harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

  • California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, but can’t pay for road maintenance:

    Texas has no state income tax, yet excellent highways and schools that perform above average, way above California’s bottom-dwellers. Yet both states have similar demographics. For example, in the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas was 37% Hispanic, California 37.6%.

    Texas is a First World state with no state income tax that enjoys great roads and schools. California is a Third World state restrained from getting worse only by its umbilical-cord attachment to the other 49 states, a cord the Calexit movement wants to cut, but won’t get to.

    California is Venezuela on the Pacific, a Third World state and wannabe Third World country; a place with great natural beauty, talented people, natural resources – and a government run by oligarchs and functionaries who treat the rest of us as peons.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “Texas Ends 2016 with 210,200 Jobs Added Over the Year.”
  • All Houston does economically is win.

    The Houston metropolitan area’s population now stands at 6.6 million with the city itself a shade under 2.3 million. At its current rate of growth, Houston could replace Chicago as the nation’s third-largest city by 2030.

    Why would anyone move to Houston? Start with the economic record.

    Since 2000, no major metro region in America except for archrival Dallas-Fort Worth has created more jobs and attracted more people. Houston’s job base has expanded 36.5%; in comparison, New York employment is up 16.6%, the Bay Area 11.8%, and Chicago a measly 5.1%. Since 2010 alone, a half million jobs have been added.

    Some like Paul Krugman have dismissed Texas’ economic expansion, much of it concentrated in its largest cities, as primarily involving low-wage jobs, but employment in the Houston area’s professional and service sector, the largest source of high-wage jobs, has grown 48% since 2000, a rate almost twice that of the San Francisco region, two and half times that of New York or Chicago, and more than four times Los Angeles. In terms of STEM jobs the Bay Area has done slightly better, but Houston, with 22% job growth in STEM fields since 2001, has easily surpassed New York (2%), Los Angeles (flat) and Chicago (-3%).

    More important still, Houston, like other Texas cities, has done well in creating middle-class jobs, those paying between 80% and 200% of the median wage. Since 2001 Houston has boosted its middle-class employment by 26% compared to a 6% expansion nationally, according to the forecasting firm EMSI. This easily surpasses the record for all the cities preferred by our media and financial hegemons, including Washington (11%) and San Francisco (6%), and it’s far ahead of Los Angeles (4%), New York (3%) and Chicago, which lost 3% of its middle-class employment.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas conservative budget overview vs. the 2018-2019 proposed budget.
  • On the same subject: how to reduce the footprint of Texas government.
  • “Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: it takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students.”
  • New LA housing initiative to undo previous housing initiative. Frankly all of them sound like market-distorting initiatives guaranteed to backfire…
  • “California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
  • “For the past five months, BART has been staffing its yet-to-open Warm Springs Station full time with five $73,609-a-year station agents and an $89,806-a-year train dispatch supervisor — even though no trains will be running there for at least another two months.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “After studying “tens of thousands of restaurants in the San Francisco area,” researchers Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research found that many lower rated restaurants have a unique way of dealing with minimum wage hikes: they simply go out of business.”
  • Meet Gordon, the robot barista. How’s that $15 an hour minimum wage working out for you, San Francisco?
  • “Nestle USA announced today that it is moving 300 technical, production and supply chain jobs to the Solon [Ohio] plant as part of the company’s plan to relocate its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia, from Glendale, California.”
  • Auto dealer AutoAlert is moving it’s headquarters from Irvine, California to Kansas City.
  • Peter Thiel to run for governor of California?
  • The Oakland Raiders may not be moving to Las Vegas after all, because billionaire Sheldon Adelson backed out of the stadium deal, accusing Raider owner Mark Davis of trying to screw him.
  • Now there’s talk the Raiders may rexamine moving to San Antonio.
  • Or even Dan Diego.
  • Lawsuits are flying over the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund debacle. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Lyle Steed Jeffs Wanted by the FBI

    Thursday, January 19th, 2017

    This is not exactly breaking news, but I stumbled across it looking for something else, and it ties into previous posts on Futuramen on Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints head Warren Jeffs.

    Last year, his son, Lyle Steed Jeffs, skipped town before trial for food stamp fraud. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for him.

    So if you see this guy around:

    Contacting the FBI would be very much worth your time.

    (Crossposted from Futuramen.)

    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.
  • LinkSwarm for September 30, 2016

    Friday, September 30th, 2016

    Another Friday, another LinkSwarm. On a personal note, I am once again looking for a Senior Technical Writing position in the greater Austin area. If you have any leads in that direction, please let me know.

  • Polls show Hillary losing ground after debate.
  • Likewise, LA Times poll shows a slight bump for Trump.
  • Professor says there are 13 keys for an incumbent to lose the White House. By my count, Democrats suffer from just about all of them.
  • Minnesota, the only state to vote for Walter Mondale in 1984, is now a battleground state. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Democrats give up on Ohio. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nineteen dead people registered to vote in Virginia. Yet more of that voting fraud Democrats swear up and down doesn’t exist… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Republicans cave on everything and leave town. But somehow it’s Trump that’s going to sully the spotless reputation of the Grand Old Party…
  • But at least congress overrode Obama’s veto of bill allowing 9/11 survivors to sue the Saudis 97-1. One wonders why Obama even bothered vetoing the bill, given how he had already stabbed the Saudis in the back with the Iran deal.
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield drops out of ObamaCare exchange in Nebraska.
  • More illegal aliens on the way. (Hat tip: Praire Pundit.)
  • Two Maryland Democrats fight over which is more responsible over making Baltimore burn.
  • Chicago schools are boned. (Hat tip: The American Interest.)
  • Taxis vs. Uber.
  • Will Franklin of WILLisms put a lot of work into this school choice video:

  • Texas among four states to sue to stop the transfer of ICANN to an international governing body.
  • “Target Corporation’s transgender bathroom pander costing its shareholders billions.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Scott Adams think that the Middle East is just building a wall around the Islamic State.
  • Ace of Spades declares war on the Republican leadership:

    Apparently, some in this party really do think they’re going to hand the election to Hillary, and, bizarrely, they think this will bully the rest of us into knuckling under to their agenda in 2020.

    Rather than simply getting payback and tanking their candidate in return.

    This party is on the verge of self-destructing. The upper class of the party is upset that the lower class has finally had its say, and they’re determined that should never be permitted to happen again.

    Why then would anyone of the lower class ever vote for the GOP again? Are they required to sign a piece of paper confirming that they are Lessers who should know their place in order to have the privilege of voting against their own interests?

    He’s also turns his fire on #NeverTrump:

    we have a hundred people who claim to be #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary but, strangely enough, never talk about the downsides of a Hillary presidency. Oh, they’ll talk up how much of an authoritarian Trump is, but not Hillary’s sense of entitlement, grievance, vengeance, and her own history of authoritarianism and lawlessness in covering up her crimes.

    They talk all day about “Principles,” but discard the most basic principles — such as keeping a proven lawbreaker out of the White House, or just honestly admitting which candidate they’re actually supporting to their readers — as convenience may recommend.

    In fact, right now they’re howling about Ted Cruz’ “calculations” in endorsing Trump, while not admitting their own pose of “Being Against Both Equally” is in fact a completely contrived lie they’ve calculated will permit them to agitate for their candidate (Hillary) while not compromising their career prospects within Conservatism, Inc. too much.

    How much can I agitate for Hillary while still retaining plausible deniability?

    How much can I agitate for Hillary to appease my anti-Trump donors while still keeping enough pro-Trump readers that my anti-Trump donors will feel they’re getting enough eyeballs per dollar of their patronage?

    The party — not just the party;the writers who are supposed to have telling the truth as their first mission, but instead of become nonstop liars all the time decrying Trump as a liar himself — has declared war on all of the Lessers beneath their station, those not in The Media and who should, therefore, not have quite as much of a say in things as they themselves have.

    They’ve made themselves into exactly what they pretend to oppose — and exactly what I do in fact oppose.

  • Canada launches prescription smack. Part of me wants to see how the experiment turns out. And part of me wants to start offering junkies one-way bus tickets to the Great (China) White North.
  • Other Canadian craziness: Montreal to euthanize all non-owned pit bulls. Way to jerk those knees, French Canadians.
  • Navy changes the way it categorizes sailors.
  • Burning Man camp vandalized.
  • More of that vaunted liberal tolerance we hear so much about these days. “Kill yourself bitch.” (Hat tip: Will Shetterly.)
  • There’s a proper and an improper way to turn down an orgy. Proper: “No thank you.” Improper: Getting stabby. Don’t they teach kids basic manners these days?
  • I picked up some signed William F. Buckley, Jr. books cheap.