Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category

LinkSwarm for June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! There’s so much news I’m going to punt “The Pelosi Question” to the weekend:

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, illinois is going bankrupt.
  • John Podesta to testify before the House Intelligence committee. Hopefully they’ll ask him about the allegations in Shattered that he and Robby Mook cooked up the entire “Russia hacked the election” fantasy within 24 hours of Hillary’s loss. And also about his and his brother’s documented financial ties to Russia.
  • Former state Department/CIA employee charged with espionage for China:

    A former State Department employee was arrested Thursday and charged with espionage for allegedly transmitting Top Secret and Secret documents to a Chinese government agent, according to an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

    Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg is a self-employed consultant who speaks fluent Chinese. Court filings show that Mallory was an Army veteran who worked as a special agent for U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1987 to 1990. Since then, Mallory has worked for various government agencies and defense contractors, maintaining a Top Secret security clearance. The Washington Post reports that Mallory was also an employee of the CIA.

  • A lot of hardcore Democrats are becoming increasingly uneasy about the way that Trump Derangement Syndrome has warped their party:

    We do know that Wednesday’s congressional attacker, James Hodgkinson, shared a conspiracy-tinged Change.org link on March 22, accompanied by the caption, “Trump is a traitor.” Once again, it has to be stressed that this information is woefully insufficient to conclude that the perpetrator was motivated by Russia-oriented conspiracy theories. Motivations are multifaceted, and often political beliefs “intersect” with mental distress, causing people to act violently. But the sharing of the link does indicate that Hodgkinson has been affected by the frenzied climate Democrats have stoked around the Russia issue.

    Once again, for extra emphasis: calling attention to the link Hodgkinson shared is not to say that Democrats are directly culpable for this shooting. That would be ridiculous. But the shared link does show that he was to some extent enmeshed in the conspiratorial paranoia that Democrats have knowingly fostered, at full-blast, for approaching an entire year. One ancillary consequence of fostering conspiratorial paranoia for a full year is that certain people with unstable mental predispositions may latch on and commit violent acts. But Democrats and liberals, in their self-assuredness, have been reticent to acknowledge this byproduct of their current political strategy. Proclaiming that the president engaged in treason — as many members of Congress and media figures have — is going to have an influence on the broader public, and included in that broader public are people who might be deranged and/or have violent inclinations.

    If you deny that the kind of overblown rhetoric that Democrats have specialized in over the past months — warning about traitorous subterfuge and foreign infiltration — can have any trickle-down effect on regular people, you’re deluding yourself.

  • It looks like Democrats are learning all the wrong lessons from Jon Ossoff’s loss:

    Democrats want a resistance. They want to impeach the President. They want full-blown socialism. They want to go further to the left than the tea party wanted to go right. A lot of activist Democrats are already interpreting Jon Ossoff’s loss as him not being aggressively anti-Trump enough.

    The Democrat base has moved way further left than where the American public is and at a time we seem to be in a pendulum swing back to the right, that could hurt them. As they start challenging Democrat incumbents with more liberal activists and start winning primaries in swing seats with radical progressives, they risk their ability to win.

    What makes this fun to watch is knowing they reject that idea and think the more radical and more militant the more likely their candidates will win. I cannot wait to watch their slate of moonbat crazy challengers.

  • All those “Ossoff’s loss was a moral victory” excuses? Vox says don’t believe it: “Don’t sugarcoat it — Ossoff’s loss is a big disappointment, and a bad sign, for Democrats. Democrats need to outperform Hillary Clinton to take back the House. Ossoff did worse than her.”
  • As bad as political violence is now, the 1960s and early 1970s were much worse.
  • Phil Montag, technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party, was caught on audio saying he was glad Rep> Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot and wishing he had died. Make that the ex-technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party. Good. Pink slips seem to be the only thing these people pay attention to. (Hat tip: Gabriel Malor’s Twitter feed.)
  • “A professor at a Connecticut college said he was forced to flee the state after he received death threats for appearing to endorse the idea that first responders to last week’s congressional shooting should have let the victims ‘f**king die’ instead of treating them.” Step right up, Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams! You’re the next contestant on “Trump Derangement Syndrome Ruined My Life!”
  • And speaking of Democrats losing it, “Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused ex-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson of lying under oath when he said the DNC refused the help of the DHS in their hacking scandal.”
  • “This May was the Democratic National Committee’s worst May of fundraising since 2003. The DNC raised $4.29 million in May of this year, according to data recently released by the Federal Election Commission. It is the weakest take for national Democrats since May of 2003, when the party raised a paltry $2.7 million.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Did 5.7 million illegal aliens vote in 2008? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to kill deferred action for illegal alien parents, AKA DAPA.
  • TPPF’s Chris Jacobs is not impressed with the Republican Senate ObamaCare replacement bill. TPPF’s Chip Roy said:

    Simply put, the bill doubles down on the fundamentally flawed architecture of Obamacare and if implemented, will neither increase the actual care available to the people nor drive down the cost of care or insurance. It maintains Obamacare’s subsidy regime, retains almost the entirety of the regulatory architecture driving up people’s premiums and deductibles, continues the previous Administration’s unconstitutional bailouts to insurers, and maintains the Medicaid expansion for five more years before slowly attempting to reform the program.

  • More on the same subject: “Top Ten Ways Senate Obamacare Bill Is #FakeRepeal.”
  • ObamaCare tweet:

  • Liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz states that Presidnet Trump’s tape bluff is perfectly legal. “What President Trump did was no different from what prosecutors, defense attorneys, policemen, FBI agents and others do every day in an effort to elicit truthful testimony from mendacious witnesses.” Also: “We must declare an armistice against using our criminal justice system as a political weapon in what has become a zero-sum bloodsport.”
  • Saudi king replaces crown prince with his own son.
  • Saudis foil Iranian sabotage attack on their offshore oilfields.
  • “Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine.” Insert record scratch sound over derailment of the “Trump is Putin’s stooge” narrative here. Oh, also, New York Times: When you invade, occupy and annex territory, it’s not an “incursion,” it’s an “invasion.”
  • Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who oversaw German reunification, dead at age 87. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Remember all those “refugees” Angela Merkel invited in? “Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Trump Administration Begins to Dismantle Obama Campus Rape Tribunals.” Good.
  • “CENTCOM confirms Islamic State’s ‘Grand Mufti’ killed in airstrike…Turki al-Bin’ali was killed in a May 31 airstrike in Mayadin, Syria.”
  • Amazon buying Whole Foods ties into their overall strategy of high fixed costs and returns to scale.
  • Alternate view: Amazon buying Whole Foods is this cycle’s AOL/Time Warner merger.
  • East Lansing, Michigan punishes man for daring to express pro-Christian thoughtcrime on Facebook.
  • “The amount of labor that once bought 54 minutes of light now buys 52 years of light. The cost has fallen by a factor of 500,000 and the quality of that light has transformed from unstable and risky to clean, safe, and controllable.”
  • The year-by-year descent into airline hell. But: More people are flying than ever before, and airlines are actually profitable. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Man almost dies after getting swept away by a river while hiking, learns important survival lessons. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Harvard introduces segregated commencement ceremony for black students. next up: Their own water fountains.
  • “A mentally ill homeless woman in Florida is accused of vandalizing a policeman’s patrol car and smearing feces on a church where she left the walls defaced with nonsensical writings against ‘patriarchy.'”
  • F-35 puts on an impressive demonstration at the Paris Air Show. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • F-16 catches fire at Houston airport.
  • The meaning of Bill Cosby’s hung jury:

    The extraordinarily high prosecutorial burden of proof in any criminal trial is intentionally designed to heavily favor defendants, because we long ago embraced as a society Blackstone’s principle. Formulated in the seventeen-sixties by the English jurist William Blackstone, the presumption is that it is better to have ten guilty people go free than that one innocent person suffer. Hard as it is to stomach today, embracing that calculus means that we should even want ten rapists (not to mention terrorists and murderers) to go free in order to protect the one falsely accused. Unfortunately, Cosby is one of those to escape criminal punishment. And, to put a fine point on the over-all gendered impact of requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the inevitable effect of the heavy tilt toward defendants is that in sexual-assault trials, which involve mostly male defendants and mostly female accusers, men are favored over women.

    What works in Bill Cosby’s favor also works in Bill Clinton’s favor… (Hat tip: Christina Hoff Summers’ Twitter feed.)

  • 15 companies that made great games that still went bust. Spoiler: The phrase “bought by EA” appears a lot.
  • Colin Kaepernick seems to have decided that his career is indeed over. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Whipped cream fatality.
  • And that gives me the thinnest of possible justifications to post this classic:

  • LinkSwarm for June 16, 2017

    Friday, June 16th, 2017

    Briefer than normal due to a packed schedule today:

  • Coalition forces continue to advance in the Islamic State capital of Raqqa.
  • Speaking of Raqqa, Russia is saying one of its airstrikes there may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Great news if true, but right now the report should be taken with several grains of salt.
  • Illinois bonds headed toward junk status.
  • “Mueller Hires Clinton Foundation Lawyer for Russia Probe.” Transparent this is not… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that in the last six years around 220,000 criminal aliens have been booked in Texas jails. DHS confirmed to DPS that at least 148,000 or 66% of those criminal aliens had entered the U.S. illegally.”
  • “Qatar’s financial system is running out of dollars.”
  • ObamaCare is failing. “Not one Republican voted for Obamacare. A Democratic Congress passed and a Democratic president signed the legislation over the loud objections of the GOP. Conservative activists and legal groups fought tooth and nail to prevent its roll-out, and when that failed, they repeatedly warned it was doomed to failure.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • And some ObamaCare premiums have increased by more than 100% in the last four years.
  • More of those peaceful Democrats: “FBI Investigates Package With ‘White Powdery Substance’ Sent to GOP Candidate in GA-6.”
  • This piece on the current state of the Democratic Party comes with caveats, namely: a.) Rolling Stone, b.) Obviously hostile to Republicans, Trump, etc., and c.) Lots of “Ra-ra isn’t Tom Perez great” flacking. But look beyond that and there’s a cold-eyed assessment of just how badly off Obama left the Democratic Party:

    The Democratic Party is in the worst shape of its modern history. The presidency of Barack Obama papered over the fact that the party was being hollowed out from below. Over Obama’s two terms, Democrats ceded 13 governorships to the GOP and stumbled from controlling six in 10 state legislatures to now barely one in three. Across federal and state government, Democrats have lost close to 1,000 seats. There are only six states where Democrats control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

    More troubling: Even amid the great upwelling of anti-Trump resistance, Democratic favorability ratings have continued to tumble since Election Day – to just 40 percent in a May Gallup poll. “Our negatives are almost as high as Trump’s, as far as party goes,” says Rep. Tim Ryan, a rugged Ohio Democrat serving Youngstown. Ryan led an unsuccessful 63-vote insurgency against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in November because, he says, “We weren’t winning.”

    There is no official accounting for this erosion of power and popularity. Unlike the GOP in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, Democrats have not published post-mortems. But get party insiders talking – with anonymity exchanged for candor – and there’s little debate about how the party went sideways.

    Responsibility rests foremost at the feet of former President Barack Obama. As a candidate, Obama sidestepped the party’s next-in-line culture, riding into the White House on the strength of a then-revolutionary digital-and-grassroots machinery of his own creation. “Obama was almost like the anti-Democrat,” a former DNC chair tells Rolling Stone. “The president didn’t care about the Democratic Party.”

    Once in office, Obama had the weight of the world to bear. He staved off financial collapse and secured health insurance for an estimated 20 million Americans, leveraging the party’s infrastructure for these fights. “When you’re at the head of the DNC and you have the White House,” says Sen. Tim Kaine, who chaired the party from 2009 to 2011, “a lot of the job is about promoting the president’s agenda.” But Obama and his team neglected a far less heroic duty: the care and feeding of the national party, which Democrats had rebuilt during the Bush years with a “50-state strategy” that had empowered Obama with dominant Democratic majorities in Congress.

    The GOP took full advantage of the president’s disregard for party politics. The Tea Party vaulted Republicans to control of the U.S. House and statehouses across the country in 2010 – putting the party in the driver’s seat for the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative boundaries known as redistricting. The White House mounted no resistance. “The Obama team, David Axelrod, had no organized structural redistricting [game plan],” says a longtime Democratic strategist. “The Republicans just ran up the fucking score everywhere. They got two or three extra congressional seats in state after state after state, creating lasting struggles to get back to a majority.” Case in point: Democratic House candidates netted 1.3 million more votes than Republicans in 2012, but secured 33 fewer seats.

    The 50-state strategy devolved under Obama into a presidential-battleground strategy, leaving state parties starved for cash and leadership. “Obama didn’t put resources into local parties unless it was for his re-election effort,” says the former party chair. Making matters worse: Obama tapped ambitious Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz – a favorite of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett – to run the DNC in 2011. “That congresswoman had no idea what she was doing,” adds the former chair.

    Wasserman Schultz went rogue. In a rift with the White House that spilled into a story on Politico, she was criticized for using the DNC as a vehicle for self-promotion, hoping the office would serve as a springboard into House leadership. The White House made overtures to oust Wasserman Schultz, but she dug in, promising an ugly fight that could tar the president as both anti-woman and anti-Semitic. (Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to resign in the aftermath of the Russian hack of the DNC, declined to participate in this story.)

    Obama dodged that fight, and instead fostered Organizing for Action, the grassroots group born of his campaigns. “They had a mirror organization that did just their politics, and it weakened the DNC,” says a source in House leadership. “It directed money elsewhere and was not in the interest of the long-term stability [of the party]. It was a selfish strategy.”

    The hobbled DNC’s chief remaining value was as a fundraising vehicle. For Obama, it “was like his ATM – and Clinton was the same,” says the former chair. Clinton pioneered a strategy that allowed her largest donors to give $10,000 to each of 32 state parties participating in her Victory Fund. But that money didn’t stay in the states. Instead, nearly every penny was hoovered up to the DNC for the benefit of Clinton’s election.

    Clinton today says she found the DNC to be a liability. In an onstage interview at a Recode tech conference in May, Clinton recalled, “I get the nomination. . . . I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. It was bankrupt. . . . I had to inject money into it – the DNC – to keep it going.” Clinton then raised eyebrows by indicting the DNC’s data, which the party had inherited from the Obama re-election campaign. “Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong,” Clinton said. (The DNC’s former data chief hit back, tweeting that Clinton’s broadside was “fucking bullshit,” but declined to be interviewed.)

    Under Obama, the party infrastructure was honed to elect a president. And being a presidential party is a powerful thing – until you lose the White House. The Clinton campaign lost significantly on its own merits, though the party is loath to admit it. The same candidate who was caught flat-footed by the rise of Obama in 2008 found herself stunned by the grassroots surge behind Sen. Bernie Sanders. “And she was really surprised by how strong Trump was – and part of it was she just sucked,” says the Democratic strategist, who criticizes Clinton despite being entrenched in her center-left, pro-trade wing of the party. “At a really fundamental level we gotta get people to acknowledge what a fucking piece of shit her campaign was.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • CNN’s Jim Acosta flat out lies about President Trump’s visit to wounded Representative Steve Scalise’s hospital room. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More lying from CNN:

  • New York Times editorial about Rep. Scalise’s shooting is not just a lie, it’s actually libelous.
  • New bill aims to eliminate “structuring” civil asset forfeiture abuse. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • A profile of radical Islamist and left-wing media darling Linda Sarsour. “Her rise, and the celebration of her by progressives as one of their own, demonstrates how clearly and phenomenally Jews and Jewish concerns are being written out of the progressive movement.”
  • “DOJ Moves To Seize DiCaprio’s Picasso, Rights To ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ As Part Of 1MDB Case.” Or “Hollywood accounting meets a Malaysian dictator, and hilarity ensues!”
  • MLA votes against Israel boycott.
  • How Indians scam their way to Australian citizenship, and how a crackdown on the practice may crash Sydney and Melbourne property values. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • President Trump orders the federal government to stop working on the Y2K bug.
  • “Is this some kind of bust?” (Hat tip: Dwight, who also came up with the Police Squad! reference.)
  • “My Trip to a Marijuana Dispensary, the Happiest Place in Boulder.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • All the people Billy Martin brawled with.
  • TPPF Legislative Update Recap

    Thursday, June 8th, 2017

    Tuesday I attended the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Legislative Update following the close of the regular 85th Texas Legislative Session. I meant to live-blog it, but I neglected to get the WiFi password before it started, so I ended up live-tweeting it from my iPhone instead.

    So here’s a recap in tweet form of what was discussed.

    The panel was introduced by TPPF Executive Vice President Dr. Kevin Roberts.

    Next was Dr. Vance Ginn, economist at the center for Public Policy.

    Next was James Quintero, who you may remember from this interview on the Texas municipal debt crisis.

    That was Gov. Abbott’s call for a special session, and one of the items on his agenda was indeed property tax reform.

    Next was Stephanie Matthews, Senior Policy Advisor of the Center for Education Freedom.

    ESA mentioned here stands for Education Savings Accounts.

    Next was Dr. Derek Cohen, Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Justice.

    The final panelist was Brandon Logan, Director of the Center for Families and Children.

    In case it’s unclear from the tweet, Logan was not enthused at the prospect of CPS using predictive analytics.

    I hope these tweets give you at least the gist of what was discussed.

    If you want to attend yourself, the Legislative Update has other dates around the state open to the public, so sign up for free tickets in advance if you’re interested.

    Gov. Abbott Calls Special Session

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18:

    Abbott gave legislators an ambitious 19-item agenda to work on — including a so-called “bathroom bill” — after they approve must-pass legislation that they failed to advance during the regular session. An overtime round, Abbott said, was “entirely avoidable.”

    “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business,” Abbott told reporters. “But if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count.”

    (Ignore the usual Texas Tribune hand-wringing about the “controversial” nature of the bathroom law; it’s just a restoration of the status quo, reversing what the Obama Administration imposed on the nation via executive fiat.)

    Here are Governor Abbott’s 19 items:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • That’s an ambitious agenda…if Texas Speaker Joe Straus, who did so much to thwart so many of those items, let’s any of them pass.

    In an effort to force the special session, [Lieutenant Governor] Patrick had held hostage legislation, known as a “sunset bill,” that would keep some state agencies from closing. That “will be the only legislation on the special session [agenda] until they pass out of the Senate in full,” Abbott said.

    That’s quite defensible from a governance perspective, but it is going to eliminate Lt. Gov. Patrick’s biggest piece of leverage against Straus.

    With fewer items on the agenda, maybe House Republicans will have a chance to concentrate and actually act like Republicans rather than let Straus’ liberal coalition run roughshod over them.

    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.
  • A Bad American Thinker Piece on Marijuana

    Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

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

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

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

    Nowhere.

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

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

    Further nits:

  • “Additionally, with legalization follows an implicit societal acknowledgment that marijuana use is benign or even advantageous.” No it doesn’t. Ingrassia makes the erroneous assumption that it is government’s job to decide what’s “good” or “bad” for people. Spending all your time drinking and watching reality TV is unquestionably bad for you, but it’s not government’s job (much less the federal government’s job) to regulate such behavior.
  • “Libertarians likewise should take a guarded outlook when evaluating Colorado, their magnum opus. Indeed, tax revenues are up – but at what cost? Is the inevitable uptick in pot users an opportunity cost worth having for such revenues? Given its novelty, the wider societal implications are not fully explored, and the economics of the issue is far from definitive.” This makes the erroneous assumption that Libertarians believe that all that is not permitted should be forbidden rather than the reverse.
  • LinkSwarm for April 21, 2017

    Friday, April 21st, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.)
  • ObamaCare Repeal: The Dam Breaks

    Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

    After a couple of weeks of President Trump and GOP House leadership insisting “Nope, this is it! Kiss this pig or it’s nothing!” and conservatives replying “Die in a fire!” it looks like the GOP establishment has finally gotten the message.

    First came this news from Senator Mike Lee:

    Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has told him that it may be possible for Republicans to push harder on repealing Obamacare’s regulations than the current House bill, which contradicts the assertion by House leadership that the legislation goes after Obamacare as aggressively as possible under Senate rules.

    “What I understood her to be saying is that there’s no reason why an Obamacare repeal bill necessarily could not have provisions repealing the health insurance regulations.”

    Now Speaker Paul Ryan, the pig’s primary pimp, has relented as well:

    In a last-minute bid to woo conservatives ahead of a high-stakes vote on Thursday on repealing and replacing Obamacare, House leaders are considering gutting more Obamacare regulations.

    The news comes as President Trump and White House officials are in talks with House conservatives over changes that can win over holdouts and secure enough votes to move the bill to the Senate.

    Among the many arguments conservatives have made against the House healthcare bill, one of the most significant is that it leaves too many costly regulations in place and thus fails to address long-standing criticisms of Obamacare — that it limits choices and drives premiums higher than they otherwise would be.
    Latest Videos

    Previously, House leaders have argued that the regulations could not be nixed, because doing so would blow up the bill in the Senate, where Republicans will have to pass the measure under restrictive rules to enable it to clear with a simple majority.

    But a House leadership aide told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that Republicans received new information from the Senate, indicating that axing the regulations would not automatically doom the bill from being considered on an expedited basis.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office is now more open to nixing the regulations, known as “essential health benefits.” Under Obamacare, all insurance policies must include ten categories of benefits, such as maternity care and preventive coverage, that make policies more comprehensive but also make it costlier for individuals who would prefer cheaper plans with fewer benefits.

    You know what would be a great bill? One that completely repealed ObamaCare. You know, the way every Republican House and Senate member running for election since 2010 has promised.

    The Trump Administration can also gut Obamacare without any help from congress:

    Within the bill there are 2,500 references to “the Secretary”. 700 times the Secretary “shall” do something, 200 times the Secretary “may” do something, and 139 occasions when the “Secretary determines” what should be done.

    These “shall” and “may” determinations cover things like what type of insurance coverage Americans are required to have, how insurance networks and exchanges are organized, how grant money is doled out, what the “essential health benefits” that every insurance policy must cover are.

    Suppose the new Secretary determines that Americans “shall” only be required to have catastrophic insurance? Or no insurance at all? What if the “essential health benefits” are left to the discretion of the purchaser of the insurance policy? What if the Secretary “determines” that there will be no insurance mandates or penalties? Or that insurance “may” be sold across state lines?

    The Secretary also has discretion over “pilot programs” and “demonstration projects” for controlling costs. These include wellness plans, information technology, quality measures, and national payment for Medicaid. Perhaps throw in tort reform and a rollback of many of the many more onerous regulations strangling the medical profession. The Secretary “may” implement these reforms.

    In reality, the Secretary has the statutory power to infect Obamacare with the cancer of repeal and replace, metastasizing into so many aspects of the law that what emerges is a shadow of the original bill. Repeal and replace from within.

    The downside to this approach is that any future Democratic administration could restore all the Obamacare nightmare taxes and regulations at will.

    Still, there’s no reason Republicans can’t pursue a two-track approach: Gut it administratively while also working on a full legislative repeal.

    Both approaches are far superior to the original “embrace and extend” ObamaCare bill Republican leadership originally tried to cram down representative’s throats….

    Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus at CPAC

    Sunday, February 26th, 2017

    Considered including this in Friday’s LinkSwarm, but decided this panel with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus at CPAC was important enough for a separate post.

    A few points:

  • As previously reported, there’s none of the discord here between Bannon and Priebus that the mainstream media likes to ascribe to them. I’ve seen panels where the panelists were barely hiding their animosity with other panelists, and there’s none of that on display.
  • As for President Trump’s cabinet being the best cabinet in the history of cabinets: George Washington’s first cabinet included Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, so no.
  • “The greatest public speaker in those large arenas since William Jennings Bryant.” Untrue. Martin Luther King, Jr. takes that crown, unless Bannon meant campaign speeches given in Presidential campaigns. There John F. Kennedy was a better speaker, but his venues tended to be smaller.
  • Priebus’ pick for biggest priority of the first 30 days of the Trump Administration: “Neil Gorsuch.”
  • Priebus’ pick for second and third biggest priorities: deregulation and immigration.
  • Bannon’s picks for same: Nations security/sovereignty, “economic nationalism,” and “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Suck it, Jacques Derrida!
  • I’m not sold on “fair trade” and economic nationalism, or how the Trump Administration will keep them from becoming protectionism and crony capitalism. Given their embrace of the Export-Import Bank, the answer appears to be “they won’t.” But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that their vision of more bilateral trade deals can pan out better for American economic interest than the dog’s breakfast of Trans-Pacific Partnership would have. It’s “the devil’s in the details” question, and there are so many, many devils…
  • Bannon: “The rule of law is going to exist when you talk about sovereignty and you talk about immigration.”
  • The Trump Administration is clearly the most serious about deregulation of the economy since Reagan, and maybe the most serious ever.
  • Bannon: “If you think they [the mainstream media] is going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day it is going to be a fight.”
  • Bannon and Priebus use close synonyms to describe each other: “dogged” and “indefatigable.”
  • Watch the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)