It Is Fine Here

With all the viscous California, I thought I might comment on the weather locally. We had one serious rain storm (which located two leak areas in my roof), but otherwise we in the San Diego area have been un-impacted. Whilst there are several microclimates locally, my inland area has had about eight inches of rain during this rain season (about an extra three inches over normal), there are central and Northern California areas with twenty five inches of rain. 
Those on the East Coast who are unfamiliar with California, we have Counties that are larger than East Coast states, and our coast line length means we have at least three main weather zones, and many sub-zones. San Diego is a sub-zone of Southern California, and our rain is seldom just the bitter end of a Northern storm coming in from Alaska, but is often one such storm that picks up moister from Hawaii, a So-called Pineapple Express.

As you can note, the California drought is mostly over. It never existed in San Diego because we have spent a decade building drinking reservoirs, and we have a huge, new desalination plant. We suffered through the drought rules only because the idiots in Sacramento wouldn’t let us out of the rules.

California has a couple of northern storms to go, and a huge snow melt — none of which will impact San Diego. Our area remains placid. As a consequence, San Diego has almost unlivable house prices, and the median price for current house sales is $555,070, and it takes a salary of $118,000 to buy a median home. That is a steep climb for new arrivals.

Honeyfuggled!

Last year San Diego County voters were offered an “opportunity” to fund a large number of local road repair/building and resurfacing efforts, if the voters approved by a 2/3 vote.
Despite massive advertising, the Measure A, failed.

Now we learn, we were being honeyfuggled! (Yes, it is a word, and it has been years since I used it, but when writing about politicians I should use it far more often.)

The government entity giving the public this “opportunity” is called SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Area Governments, a high powered group with a huge staff and a governing board with representatives from each city in the County. Often, Mayors themselves are the representatives.

Like most government organizations, the government representatives on the Board are politicians and are not skilled at reading spreadsheets. 

(As an aside, I once got my hands on the Summary Budget of the Poway School District, and a quick comparison to the previous budget jumped out to me on the page that every new figure was a multiple of the previous figure out to three places! All the assurances that the staff was supposed to have worked for months on the budget, when actually some guy with a calculator spent 15 minutes multiplying last year’s numbers to increase them by the same multiple.)

The SANDAG staff KNEW that their income from a proposed tax was vastly overstated — the public position was $18 billion when they, and at least some of the political members KNEW that the actual number was $14 billion. 

Window Dressing

POLITICO is reporting just what I feared and blogged prior to the Inauguration, that President Trump is surrounding himself with a first class Cabinet — then ignoring them. 
Apparently, after getting Tillerson as Secretary of State by promising him that as Secretary of State, Tillerson would have a strong input into Ambassadorships, the first 15 Ambassadors had no input from Tillerson. Reports are that Jared Kushner is a Shadow Secretary of State, and that Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary General Kelley and General Mattis, Secretary of Defense are a Bloc called the “Adults in the Room”

According to POLITICO, the “Adults” are being ignored also on appointments to their own staffs, despite promises made before recruiting them to the Cabinet, and General Mattis is traveling the globe on tour to reassure nations after some of Trump’s statements.

Although the official announcement of SEAL Admiral Bob Harward refusal to accept the National Security Advisor post referred to personal reasons, it has been widely reported that his main reason was the Administration chaos. One could easily guess that the Admiral knew that he too would be window dressing, and that his knowledge and counsel would be ignored. 

This a a Donald and Jared show, and each of his Cabinet members were powerful and successful individuals who might just submit their resignations. They are not the window dressing type!

Trump’s Watergate

My opinion earlier this week that I strongly suspected that General Flynn was in contact with the Russian ambassador at the behest of President Trump is further questioned by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post this morning.
Under a headline that asks why smart people do dumb things, he concludes (probably correctly) that Trump orders them to do it.

Milbank says that General Flynn, deeply involved with spying “means and methods” knew his conversations, several of them, with the Russian Ambassador prior to the Inauguration was being recorded. Milbank concluded, as I did, that Trump ordered it. 

Milbank further concludes that Spokesman Spicer, a long time and highly capable spokesman would not have made that embarrassing first news conference in which he angrily berated the press and took no questions, unless ordered to do so. Kellyanne Conway, likewise a consummate professional, would not have plugged Ivanka’s clothing line without direct marching orders from Trump, nor would Advisor Miller had so vigorously defended the undefinable claim of vast voter fraud on the Sunday shows without orders.

That General Flynn was so summarily thrown under the bus was a shame, but he decided to obey an unlawful order, and he should have resigned rather than obeying it. I had previously opined that if he has to give sworn testimony, he will not lie.

I also questioned if this incident had the heft to rise to the level of impeachment, but now I think it just might.Trump has no political capital to spend with the press,  and little support among Republicans in Congress. 

It is not, as Thomas Friedman claims, 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, but it may well be Watergate.

Who Is Next?

General Flynn is out, but the question that the Intelligence Committees must answer is: What did President Trump know, and when did he know it?
It would surprise me if General Flynn would call the Russian Ambassador on the same day as the Obama placed sanctions against Russia. The Democrats are calling for an investigation, but they would jump on any issue to embarrass President Trump. 

It is going to take some disaffected Republicans to further an investigation, and this issue could have the sort of heft necessary to actually impeach the president if General Flynn was acting on orders from the President. (I strongly suspect he was!)

I have previously written that given the choice of Trump or Hillary, I would prefer Trump because the Republicans would be more willing to impeach Trump on an issue, than the Democrats would be willing to impeach Hillary on ANY issue.

I don’t know if this is the issue that will dismount the president, but he will give many issues over four years. Certainly if General Flynn was directed by President Elect Trump then this could be the issue, and if General Flynn were to be placed under oath I sincerely doubt that he would lie.

I doubt the General Petraeus is a serious candidate, and I expect Admiral Harward is the leading candidate.

Fear Among the Illegals

I think I can explain the Immigration raids, because I have been to this rodeo before.
The question of who gets picked up and deported is a story seen before. Right now they are concentrating of those with Deportation Orders from an Immigration Judge, but one that was placed on hold by the Obama Administration.

Those are people who have had their day in Court, and the Court has agreed they are “Bad Hombres.” Those Court Orders have piled up for years, but now they are. Active again.

If in knocking on doors, they find otherwise innocent family members or friends who have committed no crime other than the misdemeanor of crossing the border, then Immigration can’t ignore them, so they will be deported also.

INS isn’t looking for gardeners and housekeepers, but Immigration officers are sworn peace officers and can’t simply ignore those gardeners and housekeepers so they get swept up also, and there may be more of them than those with outstanding warrants in the family. 

The fear in the illegal immigrant community is warranted if they live with someone previously ordered deported, or are just visiting them at the wrong time. There is a huge backlog of Court ordered deportation orders, so this will continue for some time

And So It Begins

The case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is very instructive. She is in Mexico tonight, having been tried, convicted of using a falsified Social Security card, and having been given temporary asylum by President Obama because she was not a threat.
Not a threat, but a convicted felon, and under the Trump administration, eligible for deportation! She knew she was on borrowed time, and her time ran out. She has two children who were American citizens as Anchor Babies. (Critics will claim this is breaking up the family, but that was Guadalupes’ choice, she could have taken her family with her.)  

Guadalupes’ main problem is that she is in Mexico that she has not lived in for decades and she is a bit lost, I am certain. That is not a legal concern, just a note that deportation is difficult for many, and it will also be difficult for the countries who must host the deportees — particularly gang members.

It would be more acceptable to me if the first deportee had been some gang member of MS-13, but Guadalupe was not just convicted of a felony (fake SS number), she actually spent time in an ICE facility and was released as a low risk ONLY if she checked in with ICE regularly. She had been marked for deportation, the question was, “when.”

Well, when was yesterday. Those who have kept their heads down should not be worried, but millions of illegal aliens who, in addition to simply coming across a usually unmarked border, (a misdemeanor,) also committed a serious misdemeanor (drunk driving) or a felony (using forged documents), are looking over their shoulder. (And should be.)

It begins, and the reaction begins also. 

It’s As If Robert Byrd Never Existed

Former US Senator Jeff Sessions was pilloried in the Senate on his attitude many decades ago that MAY have reflected the soft racist Southern attitude of the South of the day. No actual evidence exists, just “feelings.” Consequently, the Democrats, still smarting from their November defeat, are trying to wound all of Trump’s nominees for HIS Cabinet.    
Senator Chuck Schumer opined under the Obama administration “that once you elect a president, he deserves his choices to run the executive branch.” Of course that was then under Democrats and this is now under Republicans!

As I recall, Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, had been a “Kleagle” and “Grand Cyclops” (whatever those are) of the Ku Klux Klan, and I don’t recall anyone on the Senate floor commenting negatively on him! Associate Justice of the Supreme Court was approved to the Supreme Court in spite of his prior membership in the Ku Klux Klan…but somehow Senator Sessions is unqualified because he was a Racist?

The mind boggles! 

Next Up!

According to the state pension retirement fund, CalPERS, in 2001 there were 2 workers for each state retiree. Today, that is 1.3 workers, and in the near future (10-20 years) there will have 6/10 of a worker. Obviously, the numbers do not work out.
An LA Times article on the next candidate to declare bankruptcy identifies the 110,000 populated Bay Area city of Richmond, California. The city has already cut its city workforce by 20%, its streets are returning to their natural state, and its is even cutting library books. The city’s bond rating is at a junk bond status, and the residents rejected a new tax increase. 

The average income of the city residents is $55,000 but the average city worker averages $92,000. The police and firefighter average income in the city is $137,000.

By 2021, pensions will consume 41% of the city’s annual budget. Bankruptcy is in the offing, and there is no relief in sight. Richmond will join four other California entities, Vallejo, Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes in bankruptcy, but other cities are in equally bad shape. Four cities in California are in similar shape with Richmond, and the state itself has more than a $100 billion unfounded pension deficit.

The description of California as an economic landmine with beautiful coastline, is accurate.

Morning Musings

One wonders what access to CIA and NSA information that Federal Judge Robart has that let him presume to overrule the president of the US on a question of national security. Judge Robart said in his temporary ban that he had no Constitutional section to reference, and indeed another federal judge in Boston removed his temporary ban because he too had no Constitutional authority in matters of national security. The judiciary learns slowly…
Nationwide bans such as Judge Robart issued are exceedingly rare because they encourage Judge shopping, and the 9th Circuit is likely to put the ban on hold on Monday, even if Judge Robart doesn’t on Monday.

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The last time Iran tested the US, they mined areas of the gulf, the US retaliated by wrecking one of their oil platforms, then wrecking two of frigates and a bunch of their speedboats. That essentially put their Navy out of business. 

In more modern times, missiles are much better, but on both sides. The Saudi destroyer put out of action by the suicide speedboat last week, shows that the Iranian supported Yemeni rebels can still use speed boats effectively against relatively low technology targets. The Yemeni Rebels tried out some sophisticated Iranian-supplied missiles against a US Navy destroyer destroyer, only to have them all shot down and the radar control site destroyed.

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Dan Balz, writing in the Washington Post has an analysis of Democratic Party potential, gathered from Gallup and the Cook Report. It isn’t pretty.

In 2008, Gallup had 35 states solidly in the Democratic camp or leaning Democratic, some neutral and only five in the Republican camp.

In 2018 there are 25 Democrat seats being contested and only eight Republican seats. Worse, 10 of the 25 Senate seats to be contested in 2018 are in states that Trump WON!

In short, unless Trump complete falls apart, which is really possible, the Republicans are in good shape for the next election. Obviously, Trump can’t keep up his shock and awe for two years, so the administration may be in a less frenetic state of something approaching normalcy. 

The current state of chaos serves no one for two years. Admittedly, there is a lot of over-regulation to tear down, but there is plenty of time to do it. The world is moving to the right, or at least this hemisphere and Europe, and it just doesn’t seem necessary to do it all in the first month. (Trump may feel differently.)

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If you think Trump has California, and California cities in his Sanctuary Cities crosshairs, and he does, consider the plight of the city/state of Washington, D.C. and their liberal government, which depends heavily on appropriations from the Republican House of Representatives.

That city’s Mayor and city hall are scared to death. They have legalized marijuana, and assisted suicide antagonizing even the Republicans who might give the District a pass, but when you add the Sanctuary Fund designed to financially support any illegal aliens caught up for deportations, the District is just poking their thumb in Trump’s eye, and they are close, too physically close for comfort. 

To say they are scared would be an understatement, but they are also defiant for public consumption. They have no plan, because there can be no plan when you are the District. The Republicans can, with full control of government levers, shut down the city that houses the leadership of the Western World. 

The District counts on mercy. That’s a bet they can’t cover. They are low hanging fruit!