Posts Tagged ‘unions’

LinkSwarm for September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Welcome to the first LinkSwarm of fall! Between a new job, car trouble, dog trouble and iPhone updates, you’re lucky there’s a LinkSwarm at all!

  • Final total for J.J. Watt’s YouCaring campaign: $37,131,967.
  • Death toll in the Mexico City earthquake hits 273.
  • Mexican rescue dog saves over 50 lives.
  • 100% of Puerto Rico is without power following Hurricane Maria.
  • Obama Administration official Samantha Power asked for over 260 unmaskings of American citizens. “She continued to seek identifying information about Americans caught up in incidental surveillance right up to President Trump’s inauguration.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • And Obama’s FBI Director James Comey was apparently eavesdropping on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “House IT Worker At Center Of Scandal Allegedly Abused Three Muslim Women.” “Multiple women in relationships with Imran Awan, the indicted former IT aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have recently called Virginia law enforcement and alleged being abused by him, police reports obtained under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act show.”
  • President Trump didn’t forget Poland.
  • “The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.” People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.”
  • “Federal Prosecutors Say Anthony Weiner Convinced [15-year old] Teen To Strip, Touch Herself On Skype.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Evergreen State College has settled a tort claim against it from embattled Professor Bret Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, for $500,000, according to an email sent to faculty Friday evening.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Article on the decline of NFL ratings offers and explanation in the comments section: “One after another, cogent, thoughtful comments clearly stating the exact reason that life long NFL fans have turned off the TV, dropped their cable subscription, and moved on.” Sample: “There will be no NFL at my house until the employment of players that disrespect our flag and anthem is terminated.”
  • More signs of NFL’s decline in popularity: Los Angeles Rams can’ even sell out their temporary stadium. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Flashback: Ted Kennedy, drunken serial sexual molester.
  • Wisconsin appeals court dismisses union lawsuit against right-to-work law.
  • Armed citizen stops would-be rapist near downtown Austin. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Scientists create world’s first ‘molecular robot’ capable of building molecules.” No indication these 150-atom “robots” can contain programming or self-replicate, so we’re still a long way from K. Eric Drexler’s nanotechnology…
  • Valerie Plame steps in it:

  • LinkSwarm for September 8, 2017

    Friday, September 8th, 2017

    It would be swell if I could stop leading the LinkSwarm off with hurricane-related news, but Irma is now a class five hurricane headed straight at Florida. If you’re in any evacuation zones, heed authorities, as this does not look like a storm you want to ride out in place unless you have to. Hsoi’s preparedness checklist is also a good thing to go over earlier rather than later.

  • One reason President Donald Trump had to act on DACA: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states were threatening to sue to end Obama unconstitutional backdoor amnesty program.
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.” And yes, the ASCII Shrugging Emoji is actually in the headline, so it just wouldn’t have felt honest to leave it out…
  • “Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Aliens is Driving Wage-Growth in US Construction Industry by up to 30%.” In other news: Basic economics have not been repealed by liberal talking points. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Congress passes hurricane relief bill and debt ceiling hike. Both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill. I haven’t read the bill, but I’m hoping it’s less stuffed with pork than the Sandy bill.
  • J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey flood relief fundraiser hits $29 million.
  • What it takes to keep HEB stores up and running after a hurricane.

    One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.

  • The bribery trial for New jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez gets under way.
  • “It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Israel had to bomb Syria’s chemical weapons complex. For one thing, it looks like Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will all emerge strengthened from the Syrian civil war…
  • Speaking of Iran, they’re amassing new weaponry. “While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.” However, since Iran has (to my knowledge) no wafer fabrication plants to produce integrated circuits, this statement is almost certainly false, at least as far as electronics goes. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Bulgaria is projected to have the fastest-shrinking population in the world.” I suspect this is a combination of communism (and its aftermath) sucking, of it wrecking disproportionately more damage on backward, mostly rural countries, and of the general trend in Europe toward a modern, unchurched, welfare state society, with its attendant population decline.
  • Betty DeVos vows to dismantle the Obama-era campus kangaroo rape courts. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • This is disappointing.
  • Texans handled Harvey better than Louisianans handled Katrina because both their governments and societies are more functional.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The American Railway union was founded on segregation. “George Pullman famously hired African Americans to work for him. Eugene Debs infamously did not allow African Americans to join his union striking against Pullman’s company.”
  • Al Gore’s new book being outsold by scientist’s book debunking Al Gore.
  • I laughed.
  • 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.)
  • LinkSwarm for July 7, 2017

    Friday, July 7th, 2017

    It’s Friday on CNN Self-Immolation Week! And yes, there are a few CNN items at the top of this week’s LinkSwarm:

  • 4Chan declares the Great Meme War of 2017. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Trump just schlonged the media again.

    Just before a holiday, Trump does something that amuses the rest of us but shocks the media into doing nothing but talk about it over and over again while he enjoys his time off.

    Hmm.

    When had he done that before?

    Oh yes, just before Christmas 2015, Trump said Obama schlonged Hillary.

    (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)

  • How CNN abandoned its written standards to go after “HanAssholeSolo.”
  • Why the media has broken down in the age of Trump:

    There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale — that most of what you read, watch and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

    Snip.

    The behavior of much of the media, but especially the New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered.

    Snip.

    Here is a true story about how Abe Rosenthal resolved a conflict of interest. A young woman was hired by the Times from one of the Philadelphia newspapers. But soon after she arrived in New York, a story broke in Philly that she had had a romantic affair with a political figure she had covered, and that she had accepted a fur coat and other expensive gifts from him. When he saw the story, Abe called the woman into his office and asked her if it was true. When she said yes, he told her to clean out her desk — that she was finished at the Times and would never work there again. As word spread through the newsroom, some reporters took the woman’s side and rushed in to tell Abe that firing her was too harsh. He listened for about 30 seconds and said, in so many words, “I don’t care if you f–k an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.”

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • The Democratic House IT Scandal deepens:

    A Pakistani family under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police for abusing their access to the House of Representatives information technology (IT) system may have engaged in myriad other questionable schemes besides allegedly placing “ghost employees” on the congressional payroll.

    Imran Awan, his wife Hina, and brothers Abid and Jamal collectively netted more than $4 million in salary as IT administrators for House Democrats between 2009 and 2017. Yet the absence of signs of wealth displayed among them raise questions such as was the money sent overseas or did something other than paychecks motivate their actions?

    Snip.

    Official documents, court records and multiple interviews suggest the crew may have engaged in tax fraud, extortion, bankruptcy fraud and insurance fraud and the money could have been funneled overseas. Abid has hired high-profile attorney James Bacon who specializes in anti-money laundering litigation.

    The Awans share modest homes, drive unremarkable cars and report little in the way of assets on congressional disclosures. The family owns significant amounts of Virginia rental properties, which are heavily financed, with second mortgages sometimes taken out. It’s unclear where the rental income goes because the Awans insist tenants pay in odd ways.

    The Daily Caller News foundation interviewed multiple current and former tenants who said Imran insisted rent be paid in untraceable ways. Many of those TheDCNF interviewed about the Awans asked not to be identified for fear of suffering retaliation by the family, particularly renters to whose homes Imran has keys.

    “He only wants cash — for the security deposit, everything. The mortgage is probably $600, we pay $1,800 a month,” one said.

    “I would write the rent to all sorts of different people,” another claimed. While still another tenant said the family insisted on blank money orders.

    Those interviewed also were puzzled that Congress kept the Awans on the payroll full-time when the family spent months of the year in Pakistan.

    The four Awans were each making approximately $160,000 a year on Capitol Hill. Other House IT workers told TheDCNF that the Awans appeared to hold no-show jobs, with bare-bones services provided, and it appeared one person was doing the work for the rest of them.

    Cristal Perpignan, a former Awan renter, said Imran instructed her to pay the rent to Imran’s friend, Rao Abbas, who lived in the basement of the home she occupied and was also on the House payroll as an IT worker. But Perpignan said Abbas spent his days at home.

    Imran’s wife purchased the home in 2008 for $470,000. A second mortgage was taken out in 2012, and — at least on paper — it was sold to Imran’s 22-year old brother Jamal in November 2016 for $620,000 — $43,000 more than its assessed value.

  • “Phoenix dropped their sanctuary city status and started enforcing the law…and crime rates went down.”
  • “Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since [President] Trump took office.” Also this: “Give Trump critics credit: They predicted he would destroy jobs, and they were right; he appears to have destroyed a considerable number of positions in the previously vibrant and lucrative illicit people-smuggling industry.”
  • How liberals gave up on telling the truth about immigration:

    In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

    The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.

    Prominent liberals didn’t oppose immigration a decade ago. Most acknowledged its benefits to America’s economy and culture. They supported a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Still, they routinely asserted that low-skilled immigrants depressed the wages of low-skilled American workers and strained America’s welfare state.

    Snip.

    Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base. “The fastest-growing sector of the American electorate stampeded toward the Democrats this November,” Salon declared after Obama’s 2008 win. “If that pattern continues, the GOP is doomed to 40 years of wandering in a desert.”

    As the Democrats grew more reliant on Latino votes, they were more influenced by pro-immigrant activism. While Obama was running for reelection, immigrants’-rights advocates launched protests against the administration’s deportation practices; these protests culminated, in June 2012, in a sit-in at an Obama campaign office in Denver. Ten days later, the administration announced that it would defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and met various other criteria.

  • More on the ObamaCare expansion/opiate overdose link.
  • South African is contemplating seizing the land of white farmers without compensation. Because Zimbabwe is such a sterling model of economic success to emulate…
  • The battle for Raqqa continues, with U.S. supported forces having breached the Old City’s wall.
  • Russia hits the Islamic State with cruise missiles. Good. (Hat tip: Stephen Green.)
  • The text of President Trump’s address to Poland:

    Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity — indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. (Applause.) Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken. (Applause.)

    And when the day came on June 2nd, 1979, and one million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first mass with their Polish Pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down. (Applause.) They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II’s sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer. A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: “We Want God.” (Applause.)

    In those words, the Polish people recalled the promise of a better future. They found new courage to face down their oppressors, and they found the words to declare that Poland would be Poland once again.

  • Speaking of Poland, they just agreed to buy Patriot missiles.
  • Austria deploys troops to Italy’s border to keep Muslim “refugees” out.
  • Czech Republic to enshrine right to bear arms in their constitution. Gee, why on earth would a nation situated between Germany and Russia need its citizens to own guns?
  • “Yeah, Abdul, we’re going to need to tweak your resume for this position. Instead of ‘Beheading Infidels,’ let’s put ‘Contractor.'”
  • Vladimir Putin and President Trump meet at the G20 summit.
  • Speaking of the G20 Summit, mostly peaceful protestors there commit the mostly peaceful arson for which they’ve become so well-known. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • German intelligence admits that hundreds of jihadis were among those Islamic “refugees.” Thanks again, Angela…
  • Study finds what conservatives have been saying for years: temperature readings have been systematically changed to support the global warming narrative:

    The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments,that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever – despite current claims of record setting warming.

  • “Democratic lawmakers voted 71-42 to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a $5 billion tax hike on Thursday.” Can’t possibly imagine how Illinois’ Democrats plan to tax and spend their way out of a financial hole could possibly backfire… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “From its founding in 1919 in the wake of the Russian Revolution until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party of the United States of America was an instrument of Soviet foreign policy.” Not that anyone should be unclear on the topic after all these years, but I’m sure the piece was a shock to at least some of the New York Times dwindling readership…
  • British woman convicted of making flase rape claims against 15 different men. One look at the convicted should tell that claims of multiple rapes are highly implausible. (Hat tip: Instaundit.)
  • Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised over $1 million for his Senate race against Ted Cruz.
  • The ratings for some network TV shows are so bad that the networks are mispelling them to game ratings. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Common sense tips to keep your home from being broken into.
  • Scenes from Central America’s vibrant pre-Colombian diversity: Archeologists find an Aztec temple tower of skulls. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • AFSCME vs. 10 goats. (Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.)
  • Long, long, long article about video game maker Konami, where they actually get their money (fitness clubs and gambling machines), and how they came to treat their employees so poorly.
  • Tiny house regret.
  • And a few more CNN tweets:

  • 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.
  • LinkSwarm for May 19, 2017

    Friday, May 19th, 2017

    Another eventful week, and not just for the special-prosecutor and impeachment talk freakout Democrats are having. (Looks like they failed to learn the lesson of “Fitzmas.”)

    Now the LinkSwarm:

  • “Almost every promise made eight years ago about Obamacare turned out to be a falsehood.”

    No, you couldn’t keep your insurance plan, doctor or provider in many cases. No, it didn’t save $2,500 per family (more like cost $2,500 more per family). No, it didn’t lead to expanded patient choice. And yes, the tax increases and insurance mandates damaged the economy and cost jobs. We are now left with insurance markets that have entered a death spiral. The entire health insurance market will financially implode unless it’s changed.

  • “Several raids by federal and local authorities across Los Angeles on Wednesday led to the arrests of 44 MS-13 gang members, including murderers, CNN reported. The series of 50 raids occurred before dawn and were led by ATF agents and 1,000 other officers who have been working on the case for around three years. More than half of the 44 gang members arrested were undocumented immigrants, while three members are currently on the run.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Boston prosecutors go out of their way not to deport a foreign national for bank robbery. Result? Two American citizens murdered.
  • More proof that the Obama Administration used national security intelligence gathering to spy on domestic political opponents.
  • Anthony Weiner pleads guilty. “Prosecutors said they would ask for 21 months to 27 months in prison for Weiner once his plea is entered. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.” That would put him safely past the 2018 midterm elections, but not the 2020 election…
  • The peoples of the bubbles:

    “Call it the zeroth bubble.

    In it are the self-proclaimed elites of government and media. The residents of the zeroth bubble reside in coastal enclaves and surrounded by elaborate systems that protect them from those who live in the first, second and third bubbles.

    The residents of the zeroth bubble often secure permanent employment in the form of government sinecure or job-hopping between government, media, academia, lobbying, and public relations.

    Their personal security is assured by heavily-armed forces that offer many of them around-the-clock protection.

    There is little crossover from the zeroth bubble to the first. And certainly less still between the zeroth and the second.

    It’s also safe to say that the device has yet to be invented that can measure the empathy that the elites feel for the residents of the third bubble.

    Which helps explain why illegal immigration — from human- and drug-smuggling to MS-13 — is of no concern to the Chamber of Commerce, or your typical Senator, or Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

    The zeroth bubble people wouldn’t ever see the results of the open borders policies they espouse and support, nor can they even countenance them.

    In fact, they’re sufficiently disconnected from the residents of the first bubble that they missed the entire Trump phenomenon.

  • Scott Adams looks at positives (the economy, jobs) and negatives (“Unproven allegations of Russian collusion with Trump campaign”) of the Trump era. “All the important stuff is trending positive.”
  • President Trump rolls back another Obama Administration power grab:

    President Donald Trump reversed another eleventh-hour Obama administration regulation, rolling back Democrats’ effort to push private sector workers into state government retirement plans.

    Trump signed House Resolution 66 on Wednesday, undoing a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor on October 31, 2016. The department’s rule would have allowed state and local governments to create IRA accounts for private sector workers and automatically deduct contributions from their paychecks without the protections savers enjoy under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Draining the swamp: Half of EPA advisory board dismissed. Also: “The Interior Department has also frozen the work of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and subcommittees last week.” Just think of all the damage they won’t be able to do to the American economy for a while…
  • Democratic congressional leaders: Ixnay on the mpeachmentinay alktay! (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In Montana, Democrats have recruited a signing socialist in favor of gun control for their candidate.
  • “Routine arrest of arguing Muslims leads Minneapolis police to huge weapons cache and bomb-making devices.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Former Social Justice Warrior on why she quit the cult:

    I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

    The most pernicious aspect of this evolution of the left, is how it seems to be changing people, and how rapidly since the election. I have been dwelling on this Nietzsche quote for almost six months now, “He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.

    (Hat tip: PJMedia via Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Signs of cognitive dissonance that show you’re winning the debate: “If you have been well-behaved in a debate, and you trigger an oversized personal attack, it means you won.”
  • #NeverTrump was (mostly) wrong.
  • The challenges of treating children who are born psychopaths:

    One bitter December day in 2011, Jen was driving the children along a winding road near their home. Samantha had just turned 6. Suddenly Jen heard screaming from the back seat, and when she looked in the mirror, she saw Samantha with her hands around the throat of her 2-year-old sister, who was trapped in her car seat. Jen separated them, and once they were home, she pulled Samantha aside.

    “What were you doing?,” Jen asked.

    “I was trying to choke her,” Samantha said.

    “You realize that would have killed her? She would not have been able to breathe. She would have died.”

    “I know.”

    “What about the rest of us?”

    “I want to kill all of you.”

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • “Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, the first admiral ever convicted of a federal crime while on active duty, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about his involvement in a bribery scandal that has ensnared numerous Navy officers.” That would be for the Fat Leonard scandal. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Senate Conservative Fund-backed Ralph Norman wins primary for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional seat by 203 votes.
  • “After a drug search, a cop brushes some residue off his shirt and within minutes falls to the floor overdosing.” Carfentanyl, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, sounds less like a drug and more like a chemical warfare agent…
  • UK election watch: Why Labour is about to get wiped out in Wales:

    it becomes clear that what you’re seeing is the strange death of Labour Wales – one that goes back further and deeper than June 2016.

    In its heartlands, Labour was always a working-class party, and what’s changed is that the working class has been smashed up. The physical traces of that are evident all over south Wales. The mines are now museum pieces. The Sony factory in Bridgend has long since gone, while the town’s Ford plant is reportedly preparing to shed over half its workers. What’s replaced those careers? A scan of the windows of the recruitment agencies tells you: fork-lift drivers, warehouse staff, “recycling operatives”. All at around minimum wage, and hardly any full-time.

    For decades, Labour took this area and its other heartlands for granted – while it flirted with Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman. It parachuted in its plastic professional politicians – just think of the way Tristram Hunt was airlifted into Stoke – and ignored the need to nurture local talent. Now in Wales and elsewhere, it is paying the price of decades of ingrained arrogance.

    (Hat tip: The Political Hat.)

  • “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened the British government with ‘consequences’ if it were to restrict immigration from the EU member states after the country formally breaks away from the union.” This brings up a number of questions, foremost among them why does she care? First, why should the leader of one country care how another country sets its immigration policy? Second, this suggests that Frau Merkel thinks she’s President of the EU rather than Germany (to be fair, so does most of the world). Third, why would the EU fight to make it easier for their own citizens to leave the EU? Why it’s almost as if Merkel is more loyal to the interests of open borders elites than the German people. Or else the EU wants to dump more Islamic “refugees” on the UK…
  • Texas House Speaker Joe Straus seems to have finally met his match in Lt. Governor Dan Patrick:

    Joe Straus looked like a speaker unquestionably in charge. Then things started falling apart.

    The problems for the speaker have been caused by a small group of Republican legislators known as the Freedom Caucus. The core group is nine lawmakers out of the 150-member House, and sometimes they can get their vote up to nineteen. Even some conservative Republicans complain that the Freedom Caucus is not truly Republican, but rather a group of libertarians more bent on causing chaos in the House than anything else. Some of the most prominent members are Matt Schaefer of Tyler, Jeff Leach of Plano, and Matt Rinaldi of Irving. Their titular leader is Bedford Representative Jonathan Stickland, who uses parliamentary rules to kill other members’ bills and then strongly objects when his own legislation suffers a similar fate. The Freedom Caucus opposes Straus but have generally been an ineffective annoyance.

    That changed on April 27, when the House endured sixteen hours of debate on an anti-immigration bill to address so-called sanctuary cities. In the course of the debate, Schaefer offered an amendment to prevent police chiefs from restricting their officers from asking people who have been detained about their immigration status. In a moment of conciliation, Schaefer offered to pull down his amendment if Democrats would stop offering their own amendments designed to make Republicans look heartless and cruel. Some Democrats wanted to take the deal, but Representatives Armando Walle of Houston, Cesar Blanco of El Paso and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio argued against it. By refusing to compromise, the three guaranteed that the so-called “show me your papers” amendment would become part of the bill that Abbott eventually signed into law.

    But undeniably, Straus had an opportunity to affect the outcome of that bill. He could have kept it bottled up as he was doing with the bathroom bill, though he had allowed a similar sanctuary cities bill to go through the House in 2011. Straus also could have demanded discipline out of his chairs to vote against Schaefer. The amendment went on the bill by a vote of 81-64, with fourteen of Straus’s committee chairs voting for the Schaefer amendment, while three other members of his leadership team were away at a conference committee on the budget. Straus needed to switch only a dozen votes to keep the most controversial language out of the bill.

    The Freedom Caucus was empowered, at least in perception.

    In the days that followed, caucus members got an amendment on a foster care bill to prevent the vaccination of children who have been removed from their homes until a court ordered the child’s permanent removal. And last week they used maneuvers to slow down the House calendar so that a “safety net” bill failed to pass to keep agencies subject to the sunset review process alive even if their reauthorization legislation failed. And finally, they won passage of an amendment to a State Bar of Texas bill to make it an affirmative defense for a lawyer under disciplinary review to claim he or she acted because of a sincerely held religious belief—an amendment that Democrats viewed as giving lawyers the ability to discriminate against the LGBT community.

    After the religious beliefs amendment passed on a vote of 85-59, Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas blurted out, “Last session these guys couldn’t pass gas. Now they’re running the floor.”

    Several senior Republican members of the Straus leadership team have told me they don’t feel like anyone is in charge in the House. One called it a rudderless ship. None said they are ready to abandon Straus or revolt against him, though the frustration is rising.

    With the Freedom Caucus suddenly finding some success in the House, Patrick no doubt saw an opportunity to reassert control of the session. The death of the House version of the “safety net” bill was important. It’s called a safety net bill because it allows agencies under sunset review to continue operating. It has to pass. With the demise of the House’s bill, the only option left is the Senate’s version. And Patrick made clear he intends to hold that bill hostage.

    In his press conference Wednesday, flanked by the flags of Texas and the United States, Patrick noted that he had control of the Senate version of the safety net bill. Then he demanded the House surrender on using the state’s rainy day fund to pay for a revenue shortfall in the budget; that the House accept both a private school voucher program in a substantially reduced school funding plan, and a controversial property tax reform for cities and counties; and that some form of his bathroom bill receive House approval. Otherwise, Patrick would force a special session to get what he wants.

    Ignore the analysis of the Freedom Caucus. What’s really going on here is that Patrick has emboldened House Republicans who previously lived in fear of Straus’ vengeance to actually start acting like Republicans again.

  • The Germans are coming…to lower your grocery bill.
  • Turns out that female college graduates are now making more than their male counterparts. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Roger Ailes, RIP.
  • Deal reached on Dallas pension crisis? (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Saudis to Make $6 Billion Deal for Lockheed’s Littoral Ships.” This is evidently just one component of a $110 billion arms deal negotiated by both the Trump and Obama Administrations. Though most famous for aircraft, Lockheed has built combat ships off and on for decades and, especially after their merger with Martin Marietta in 1995, has a lot of fingers in a lot of defense contracting pies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital closes.
  • Good things for a track coach: Burning speed. Bad things for a track coach: burning his own home.
  • “How ‘social justice warriors’ are like McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan.”
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates’ social justice warrior Marvel comic Black Panther & The Crew cancelled after two issues due to low sales. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Slowdive just released their first new album in two decades. It’s excellent and you should buy it.
  • Andrew Cuomo’s Fishy Book Royalties

    Monday, April 24th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wright Reflections

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

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

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

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

    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?