Saturday, March 18, 2017

Manifest Destiny versus those  babies
  The culture war threat to California's
  history, folklore, identity and people

Click on image to see a larger version!
The Neoliberal war with multiculturalists in the U.S. gained headlines this week when Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) supported extreme nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilder with this not so eloquent tweet:
King set off a firestorm of simplistic accusations about his racism from the left while other Republicans tripped over themselves to disassociate with King. But King says he is not a racist and he was tweeting on behalf of policies supported by all Republicans.

In response to the firestorm he started, Representative King defended himself on CNN. King argued:
It’s the culture, not the blood.

And if you can go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby with as much patriotism and as much love of country as any other baby.

“It’s not about race,” he added. “It’s never been about race, and in fact, the struggles across this planet, we describe them as race. They’re not race — they’re culture-based. It’s the clash of cultures, not the race.”
King is almost right. In the United States it has become a dispute between those who embrace the American Cultural Melting Pot concept versus those who would prefer the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept. The Wikipedia entry outlines the origins and history of the American Cultural Melting Pot concept, but all we need to know is:
The first use in American literature of the concept of immigrants "melting" into the receiving culture are found in the writings of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. In his Letters from an American Farmer (1782) Crevecoeur writes, in response to his own question, "What then is the American, this new man?" that the American is one who "leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world."
"…whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes... What, then, is the American, this new man? He is either an European or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. . . . The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared."
    — J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer
What the son of  the Comte and Comtesse de Crèvecœur and former French Army Lieutenant who fought the British in the  French and Indian War doesn't include in his description are Native Americans or Moors or Asians, just Northern Europeans. Nonetheless, seven years before 1789 and the adoption of the Constitution, we see the term "melted into" to refer to the term "American."

Arguing in 1789 for the adoption of the Constitution, Founding Father John Jay - descended from Protestant Huguenots who had come to New York to escape religious persecution in France - notes in Federalist Papers No. 2:
It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division....

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection.
In this argument intended to create support for one united country, Jay notes the similarity among Americans in ancestry, language, religion, manners and customs as evidence of the strongest ties to avoid splitting our society. But then he notes similar attitudes "among all orders and denominations" among Americans, maybe because he is of French  Huguenot descent not English.

What exactly did he mean? For honest multicultural advocates, it's impossible to bury the reality that the Founding Fathers greatly feared a split within the former colonies. The first Congress of the United States of America in its Second Session, wanting to make the intent very clear, passed the Naturalization Act of 1790 which said (emphasis added):
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled,

That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States. And the children of such person so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, that no person heretofore proscribed by any States, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an Act of the Legislature of the State in which such person was proscribed.
Gradually, this fear of a split because of a lack of common heritage was overcome by those teaching about the American Cultural Melting Pot effect. But that was to be undone by the end of the 20th Century by militant advocates for the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept who argue that only their view represents the affirmative moral value of "toleration."

As usual, it is far more complicated. When one fast forwards through 200 years, from 1789 to 1989, we find this eloquent Republican President from California explaining how he saw an America:

As you can hear in the video above, in his "Farewell Address" given from the White House, President Ronald Reagan said (emphasis added):
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind­swept, God-­blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.
Was Reagan referring to a Melting Pot or a multicultural America? There is no doubt...


So there is some irony in this statement from the Democratic President from Georgia he unseated...


Carter used the term "mosaic" used in Canada instead of "salad."  I would ask Carter what do you do when within the salad that looks like this...


...and some of these different vegetables believe that their community on the American plate should implement Sharia Law, and others believe our laws should be based on the Christian Old Testament, and both are proposing to stone to death any jalapeño chili peppers that might appear on the plate?

That is, of course, the inherent problem with uninhibited multiculturalism. It is one thing to advocate offering equal respect to people from various ethnic and racial cultures. It is quite another thing to embrace policies
  1. in which people of various ethnic and religious groups are addressed by the authorities as defined by the group to which they belong and
  2. that promote maintaining the distinctiveness of multiple cultures rather than policies such as social integration and cultural assimilation.
In other words, American history expects social integration and cultural assimilation, though the act of recognizing America's multicultural history is also expected. Consider this BBC News article:
Americans take pride in their "melting pot" society (a term coined by an immigrant, Israel Zangwill) that encourages newcomers to assimilate into the American culture.

But the melting pot imagery has been contested by the idea of multiculturalism, the "salad bowl theory", or as it is known in Canada, the "cultural mosaic", whereby the immigrants retain their own national characteristics while integrating into a new society.

Some go further. Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington says that large-scale Latino immigration poses a threat to American identity.

He sees the gravest threat to American identity in Mexican immigration which, according to him, is splitting America in two.
Apparently the late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington - who lived in the former British Colonies of Massachusetts and New York with their "Little Italy" neighborhoods - was unaware of California when he wrote that Latino immigration would "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages" Because he also wrote:
Would America be the America it is today if in the 17th and 18th centuries it had been settled not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is no. It would not be America; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.
Or perhaps it would be California! In fact using the criteria of before the 19th century, here is the truth about the portion of America settled (or stolen from Native Americans) by Huntington's British Protestants versus the portion of America settled by Spanish Catholics:


The fact is if you believe Professor Huntington, only the states indicated above in blue have any serious claim to a 17th and 18th Centuries historical British Protestant cultural heritage.

While some are careful to make the "English-only" language as a legal argument there are those who, apparently ignorant of American history, offer a cultural argument without any historical foundation whatsoever.

For instance, while ICE Agents and bigots are attacking the Hispanic neighborhoods in California, no one is attacking the many "Little Italy" communities in the United States as indicated in Wikipedia:
  • Several Little Italies exist in New York City, including:
    • Little Italy, Manhattan
    • Italian Harlem
      • Pleasant Avenue, East Harlem, Manhattan
    • Little Italy, The Bronx
    • Morris Park, Bronx
    • Country Club, Bronx
    • Pelham Bay, Bronx
    • Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
    • South Brooklyn
      • Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
      • Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
    • Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
    • Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
    • Williamsburg, Brooklyn;
    • Howard Beach, Queens
    • Ozone Park, Queens
    • Astoria, Queens
    • Middle Village, Queens
    • Rosebank, Staten Island
    • Many Staten Island neighborhoods (44% of Borough Residents claim Italian ancestry)
  • Little Italy, Chicago, in Illinois
    • Elmwood Park, Illinois
    • Melrose Park, Illinois
    • Norridge, Illinois
    • Berwyn, Illinois
    • Grand Ave, Chicago
  • Little Italy, Altoona, in Pennsylvania
  • Little Italy, Baltimore, in Maryland
  • North End, Boston, in Massachusetts
  • Little Italy, Bridgeport, in Connecticut
  • Franklin Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Little Italy, Buffalo, in New York
  • Little Italy, Rochester - Gates Ny - Lyell Ave & Spencerport Rd
  • Little Italy, Cleveland, in Ohio
  • Little Italy, Connellsville, in Pennsylvania
  • Little Italy in Erie, Pennsylvania, an area centered on West 18th Street between Sassafras and Liberty Streets.
  • Little Italy, Kansas City, Missouri – Now defunct and mainly inhabited by South East Asian migrants.
  • Little Italy, Los Angeles – a defunct neighborhood now part of New Chinatown
  • Wooster Square, in New Haven, Connecticut
  • East Haven, Connecticut (40% of residents claim Italian ancestry)
  • Little Italy, Omaha, in Nebraska
  • Little Italy, Paterson, in New Jersey
  • South Trenton, New Jersey
  • South Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island
  • North Providence, Rhode Island (small town with high number of Italians; about the size of most Little Italies in big cities).
  • The Hill Little Italy in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Little Italy, San Diego, California
  • North Beach, San Francisco, in California
  • Little Italy, Schenectady, in New York
  • South End, Springfield, in Massachusetts
  • Little Italy, Syracuse, in New York
  • Little Italy, Waterbury, in Connecticut
  • Little Italy, Clay County, West Virginia
  • Little Italy, Randolph County, West Virginia
  • Little Italy, Wilmington, in Delaware
  • Brier Hill in Youngstown, Ohio
Those who believe as Huntington should be wondering why ICE agents are not deporting American citizens of Italian descent back to Italy. Of course, on the map above there are no Italian 17th-18th Century settlements Huntington could worry about.

Which brings us back to Representative King. Despite the fact that his tweet makes him sound like an Alt-Right idiot, when you look back at a 2002 column written by someone who opposed King's first run for Congress, you get a fair picture of King's views (you should really read the whole article to get a good idea of Congressman King):
The large number of Southeast Asian and Latino people who came to Denison and Storm Lake, first as refugees and then later to work in meat packing plants, came after King was out of school, in business and living on a farm between Kiron and Odebolt.

Is he aware that he is often labeled as being “anti-immigrant” now?

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I know that.”

But he said that’s inaccurate and unfair.

I reminded him of his “Official English” bill, the “God and Country Bill” and his harsh comment in a letter to western Iowa editors after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “Preferential treatment and the obsession with the elevation of every third world culture to the status of our American Civilization are silenced for now and hopefully forever.”

So, how does he feel about immigrants?

“Anybody who comes to this country legally, I’m all for,” he said, “and I think we should all support legal immigration. But I do think we need to secure our borders. I think we need to take a serious look at our immigration policy.”

How does he view those from other cultures and countries, if they are here legally?

“I have a very strong, profound belief that we are all God’s children,” King said. “And I believe that God doesn’t draw distinctions between us to favor one race over another, or to favor men or favor women. We are all equal in God’s eyes.

“That has led me to advocate equal rights for everybody, and by virtue of that, no special rights for anybody.”

He said he enjoys “all the different cultures we have here now. Just look at it in terms of food alone, if you want to. I was raised pretty much on plain meat and potatoes. The variety of all the different kinds of food that other cultures have brought here is great.

“The cultural differences we have add to the richness of our life, and we should study them and celebrate them. But I come into this thing from the viewpoint that there are a lot of things that divide us as Americans, and a lot of multi-cultural efforts seem to divide us rather than unite us.

“When we first started to see multi-culturalism, I was in favor of it. But I now see it often being used as a political tool to divide us, and that concerns me. I like diversity of cultures and peoples, but we also need to recognize there is a greater American culture that unites us. It’s fine to celebrate the individual cultures we come from, but it can’t hinder the greater American culture.”

King said much of his understanding of immigration today, and the way Americans are reacting to it, has come from the writings of Thomas Sowell.

Sowell is a senior fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He is African American, was born in the South and grew up in Harlem. He is a graduate in economics from Harvard, earned his master’s in that field at Columbia University and his doctorate in economics at the University of Chicago.

He is a widely known and quoted conservative whose books include a 1996 work, “Migration and Cultures: A World View.”
Congressman King's views curiously bring us back to California. The Hoover Institution, in which the source of King's opinions Thomas Sowell is currently Senior Fellow, is one of California's 13 organizations which are members of the Neoliberal Atlas Network as I explained here in the post 21st Century California vulnerabilities to active Neoliberal political opportunists.

If King and other Neoliberals are concerned that the American Cultural Salad Bowl concept is "being used as a political tool to divide us" and a danger to "a greater American culture that unites us" and specifically are targeting Hispanic and Asian immigration through government policy, then Congressman King and friends are engaging in a culture war against California's history, folklore, identity, and people.

California Empirical Egalitarian Progressivism, which has the goal of assuring the long term survival and success of California and Californians, includes a social compact recognizing the common needs of a disparate peoples. As I explained in #Calexit. Perhaps 170 years of invidious doubtful scorn is enough we Californians live in a state of migrants. California has been called the land of sunshine and opportunity in the context of migrants. In fact people have been migrating here for 10,000 years, and still are today from East of the Sierras, West of the Pacific, and South of the Border. That's fine with us.

You see California was part of Spain, then part of Mexico. It never was part of the British Empire, never, never. It became part of the United States through a war of occupation by the United States and a treaty imposed on Mexico. California's heritage is Hispanic. Let me make sure this is clear, the heritage of the State of California is Hispanic, not like Massachusetts or New York with their "Little Italy" neighborhoods. Want to visit California from your home state of Iowa....


 ... you should see the Spanish Missions established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833. You can travel the El Camino Real.

After touring the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, in Carmel, California, you should visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the City of Monterey, which was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. That's the Alta California shown on this map:


Since Monterey was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California you should visit the Custom House State Park.

You won't see any sites associated with the Founding Fathers because they were in English colonies thousands of  miles away when the fastest travel was by horseback.

I won't repeat all the history of California covered in prior posts. But American California history begins with a war of occupation as indicated on this map....



...which ended on  February 2, 1848, with the signing in Mexico of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty added an additional 525,000 square miles to United States territory, including the land that makes up all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The Treaty has no direct impact on Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

But it clearly does apply to California. Among many other things to be settled after the Mexican-American War, the Treaty provides:
ARTICLE VIII

Mexicans now established in territories previously belonging to Mexico, and which remain for the future within the limits of the United States, as defined by the present treaty, shall be free to continue where they now reside, or to remove at any time to the Mexican Republic, retaining the property which they possess in the said territories, or disposing thereof, and removing the proceeds wherever they please, without their being subjected, on this account, to any contribution, tax, or charge whatever.

Those who shall prefer to remain in the said territories may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens, or acquire those of citizens of the United States. But they shall be under the obligation to make their election within one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty; and those who shall remain in the said territories after the expiration of that year, without having declared their intention to retain the character of Mexicans, shall be considered to have elected to become citizens of the United States.

In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans not established there, shall be inviolably respected. The present owners, the heirs of these, and all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire said property by contract, shall enjoy with respect to it guarantees equally ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States.

ARTICLE IX

The Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States. and be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time, shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.
There are a lot of words in those two Articles, but from my point of view the United States did agree to respect the culture and heritage of the Mexican-Americans (and presumably their heirs) then remaining in that 525,000 square miles within which California is wholly located.

Further, when California's first constitution was drafted in 1849, despite the fact that the state's Spanish-speaking population was already a minority, delegates to the constitutional convention without opposition approved recognition of Spanish language rights: "All laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions emanating from any of the three supreme powers of this State, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish."

You see, even the Nazi's after they occupied France recognized the language of the natives living there. In fact in 2010 in English invasion 'threatens French language more than Nazis did' we are told: "The invasion of English words poses more of a "grave threat" to French national identity than the imposition of German under the Nazi occupation, according to a group of self-styled guardians of the French language."

Anyway, one might think this treaty-based legal history should ameliorate the tension between the Melting Pot traditionalists and the multicultural advocates when it comes to the issue of Hispanic people in the Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, but it does not.

What I want to say to both the Neoliberals nationalists like King and the rabid  multiculturalists who are still debating  is "get over it." But what I will say is keep your nose out of California's business. We don't do Cultural Melting Pots or Cultural Salad Bowls. We do stews where you can taste everything...


We don't find this insidious and if Carlos O'Brien wants to put potatoes and carrots in, fine.

Yes, Carlos O'Brien. For more on relevant history read about the Saint Patrick's Battalion, highly revered in Mexico. You see in the mid-1840's Irish and other Catholic immigrants had the impression that the those now revered descendants of English immigrants shouldn't be forcing members of the Army to worship in Protestant services and those Irish had the impression that there was little difference between
  • British colonial bigotry as they had experienced it in the Ireland they were escaping and 
  • the American Manifest Destiny movement bigotry as it affected Mexicans and Native Americans.
Embracing their English Protestant heritage must have seemed to the Irish immigrants like an odd choice for people living in the home of the first revolution against British colonialism. But like all things American, it was confusing. Some of the folks in the 13 Colonies did not like some British taxes and military policies.


But the United States is still fighting wars in places like Iraq, in the process standing in for the British colonial bigots whose descendants just voted for Brexit mostly to keep out war refugees from places like the Iraq they created from whole cloth bigotry.

It is exactly the attitude the Irish encounted in the America of the 1840's that has resulted in Neoliberalism controlling the United States government. It is good that Twitter exists because without the bumbling tweets, we might not know just how much the Republicans have embraced the tradition of Manifest Destiny bigotry at the core of Neoliberalism.

And we might not understand just how dangerous this is to California's history, folklore, identity and people. But we need to, and then fortify our defenses.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The 115th U.S. Congress aims for budgetary chaos in California public services by 2020

DON'T READ THE CAPTION - QUICK, WHO ARE THESE THREE GUYS?

At the federal government level, the U.S. House of Representatives has the most impact on determining the direction domestic policy - not the President or the Supreme Court. And while the U.S. Senate participates equally with the House in approving legislation and budgets, House members usually set a course by voting first on budget matters and measures that impact the budget significantly.

Unlike the guys in the picture above, you probably have no trouble identifying the President of the Rust Belt in the photo to the left. That is because you have been taught in school and by the media that he's the most important man in the World. On the other hand, if you read the U.S. Constitution you may be surprised to learn that the only powers assigned by the Founding Fathers to the President with regard to domestic policy (which is established by laws adopted by Congress) are as follows:
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; ...he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed....
As it turns out, over the centuries Congress has adopted laws that give the President additional roles in the policy process. For instance, the current budget creation and spending implementation process was established by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, and by other budget legislation.

The process of the President submitting a formal annual budget request to Congress was authorized by the 1921 Act adopted by Congress. While that shifted leadership momentum, that could be eliminated tomorrow by Congress (though it would probably require a veto override vote).

Looking at that picture at the top you probably had trouble identifying Representatives Greg Walden of Oregon and Keven McCarthy of California who are flanking House Speaker Paul Ryan. In fact even if you are a resident of Oregon or California you probably did not recognize either one. It is ironic that both had more influence on the details of the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) than the guy in the little picture above left whose activities the media (and maybe you?) pay attention to all the time.

The AHCA as written today would cost California $20 billion in federal subsidies lost that support healthcare for the working class and the poor. To replace that money, the State of California personal income tax revenue would have to be increased by about 25%. The voters of California would have to approve that. That would be resisted.

Still many are suggesting we "go it alone" with regard to healthcare policy by implementing a California "single-payer" plan.

Speaking of the voters, there was an election this week in the City of Los Angeles. About 11% of the voters turned out. Fortunately, the few that voted turned down a ballot measure that would have prevented development in a City already struggling with skyrocketing housing costs.

And they approved a measure that would fund modernization and expansion of public transit. Pushed by the reelected Mayor Eric Garcetti, the $121 billion transit initiative would fund hundreds of miles of new rail connections, bus-rapid transit lines, and robust bike infrastructure improvements over the next 40 years. But the plans would need ongoing additional transit funding from the federal government.

As explained in Hey Transit Fans: Worry About Congress, Not Trump:
...President Trump has threatened to defund any cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities; L.A. remains a magnet for immigrants, and nearly one in ten people living in the county is believed to be undocumented. Though [Mayor Eric}Garcetti has refused to use the term “sanctuary city” outright, he has pledged to make “all Angelenos feel safe, secure and welcome in our community” and has criticized Trump’s travel bans and immigration policies. o accomplish his “signature initiative,” ...the mayor will need to negotiate a delicate relationship with the White House.

...Legally speaking, the president probably can’t withhold infrastructure funds on the basis of local immigration policies. More importantly, it’s Congress that deals with how transportation is funded....

...Rather than anticipating retribution for clashing with Trumpian ideology, cities should just prepare for serious transit funding cuts in general. Unless longstanding federal formulas are changed, the threadbare Highway Trust Fund will still pass onto states a handful of dollars to be used for public transportation. But ... signature grant programs that have supported transit—such as TIGER and TIFIA—may get cut. After all, the Republican Party’s official platform calls for a total elimination of federal subsidies to public transportation.
Healthcare and public transportation are only a part of the Congressional budget iceberg threatening the California ship of state.

Over the next four years Congress will grin, accept, file, and consider the budget requests from the President as they always do. Those three guys in the picture above will not only determine what will happen to the President's requests, it will determine the future success of Garcetti's transportation vision and the future as envisioned by other California governmental leaders.

And things don't bode well for that future.

Literally, across California's state and local governments, there are billions of dollars of future infrastructure improvement and operational governmental expenditures that will be hampered if not eliminated by a lack of federal funding.

This will begin somewhat in the federal fiscal year that runs from October 2017 to September 2018. By the 2019-20 fiscal year, without significant leadership from California officials we may be looking at State and local budgetary chaos.

Unfortunately it may be the result of California Empirical Egalitarian Progressivism which has the goal of assuring the long term survival and success of California and Californians. Consider the desire to prevent Californians from dying unnecessarily because of lack of access to healthcare, a goal contrary to the Neoliberal ideology of the guys in the pictures above.

In June 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed bills radically implementing Medicaid Expansion. That did away with many of the barriers that prevented people from enrolling in Medi-Cal by, among other things, eliminating an asset test for enrollees and allowing childless adults to enroll instead of forcing them to seek subsidized private coverage through Covered California, California's Obamacare health insurance exchange.

Last year the LA Times noted:
California, however, wholeheartedly embraced the Affordable Care Act.

“The ACA has not been perfect, there have been challenges,” said Sabrina Corlette, a senior research professor at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms. But “if there was one state where it was really working well ... it was California.”

The state enrolled millions in Medi-Cal, and 13.6 million people — one in every three state residents — is covered by the program. Insurance premiums have not increased here as much as they have elsewhere, and the exchange still offers many options so consumers can shop around.

The percentage of uninsured working-age adults in California had dropped by more than half to 11% last year, according to federal data. Beyond signing up large numbers for coverage, state officials had also started improving the way medical care is delivered to patients, Corlette said.

When considering what the Affordable Care Act could accomplish, she said, “California was held up as the gold standard.”
Perhaps being one of only five Democratic states among the 50 (as noted in the first post in this blog) should have made us a bit more cautious.

Being so Democratic in elections and policies, we sometimes forget that without California the U.S. voted Republican in the 2016 Congressional and Presidential elections. There is a certain irony that two of the three Republican Representatives pictured at the top are from California and Oregon, two of the five remaining Democratic states.

It's almost as if Paul Ryan was making a point on behalf of the Neoliberal movement. reminding us that the California delegation to the 115th United States Congress may include 39 Democrats, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi, but it also has 14 Republicans who are among the House Republican majority, including majority leader Kevin McCarthy. In his mind, it's all about that House Republican majority.

Maybe in the end we should "go it alone" but as discussed in #Calexit. Perhaps 170 years of invidious doubtful scorn is enough, not just on healthcare.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Blundering into war with North Korea
  Fools in the White House are dangerous to
  California, Oregon, and Washington

As noted in the first post in this blog, "What Trump's 'America First' speech means to Californians is that to continue to survive and thrive, we must embrace a 'California First' attitude for the next four years."

I said that because the Rust Belt President was elected by people in states not "within arms reach" of North Korean strategic or tactical nuclear weapons as indicated on the map above.

For some reason those folks seem afraid of brown skinned people from 3000 miles away carrying out a Oklahoma-City-type bombing, which was actually done by white-skinned Irish American Timothy McVeigh and  Michigan farm-boy Terry Nichols.

Californian's need to shift the nation's focus off of some petty thugs in the Middle East and onto real nations in the Pacific Rim, nations that have real war capabilities, nations that are a threat, before our children can only be remembered like we remember the shadows of Hiroshima.

As I noted in May of last year "the wild card for us [California, Oregon, and Washington} is North Korea which currently has nuclear warheads and missiles." And as I explained:
For us, the nation of North Korea which is working on longer range missiles is the potential threat to millions of Pacific Rim lives, not some ragtag groups of Middle Easterners that seem to dominate the political discussion in this Presidential election year.

And the economic and military power People's Republic of China is of far more concern than Putin's Russia.
And so Donald Trump got elected by spreading fear of ISIS and the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) among the ignorant.

It is 42 days since he was sworn in and the headlines that follow are not about a rag-tag bunch of Middle Eastern thugs, they are about Pacific Rim nations:


Were these the headlines you saw today leading to stories you read this week?

Or maybe you are a follower of Steve Bannon's Breitbart News:


But most Americans probably did not read the Breitbart stories either.

Almost no Americans read the story above from the Yonhap News. In fact, almost no Americans would know that the "Yonhap News Agency plays a central role in the South Korean press by delivering news to its customers as well as newspapers, broadcasters, government agencies, businesses and Internet portals on a real-time basis."

So you missed these headlines from people who live next door to North Korea:

Click on headline image to read the story! header Malaysia Lotte trip sales state department finalize policy dealt with social  media
In November  I offered:
I only mention my background as a native Californian because here is a list of nations of the world (and in some cases their states, provinces, or other political subdivisions) that have Pacific Ocean (or adjoining seas, bays, etc.) beachfront properties plus a map designed to give one a graphical feel for this world view:

Click on image to see a larger version!

Notice there is no Europe or Africa or Middle East or Indian Subcontinent on the map. It is absolutely necessary to show this reality - it is a reality. The narrowest distance between mainland Asia and the United States - specifically between Russia and Alaska - is approximately 55 miles.

The narrowest distance between Europe (Ireland) and the United States is approximately 2,600 miles, about the same distance between North Korea and Alaska's Aleutian Islands. The distance between the United States and Syria is double that.

Would it be troubling to know that at least 15% of the world's Muslims live in areas on this map as opposed to knowing less than 20% live in the Middle East-North Africa region? It isn't very troubling to me. Here's why....

Three nations on this map which are not friendly to the U.S. have submarines, missiles, and atomic weapons. At least one of these nations, North Korea, is run by a crazy despot....

Yes, it is troubling to me that millions of U.S. Pacific Rim citizens are within striking range of those nuclear weapons but Americans living east of the Rockies think the international threat to the U.S. is a bunch of Middle Eastern thugs who have mastered the internet.

On October 12 an opinion piece written by Ohio Governor John Kasich on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) appeared in the Washington Post.... I was surprised when I read his opinion:

Don’t be fooled by divisive talk in the presidential campaign that the TPP is only a debate about trade. At its very core, this agreement is about making sure the United States continues to strengthen its essential alliances and is willing to sustain its standing as the global leader — something we have done for more than half a century.

While China and Russia — and dangerous client states such as North Korea and Iran — jockey to outmaneuver everyone else and gain a dominant hand for their global schemes, there are fast-growing, independent nations looking to partner with the United States and thereby bring their strategic, economic and political values into alignment with ours. That list begins with the initial TPP partners, but as many as 10 additional economies have expressed interest in joining.

The last thing we need is for these thriving markets to come to believe they can’t count on U.S. support, pushing them instead into economic and geopolitical relationships with China or Russia. In the event of our inaction and loss of resolve, the United States will surrender global leadership to our most aggressive rivals, dictators who have the most to gain: Vladimir Putin, Russia’s latter-day Stalin; and Xi Jinping, the most repressive Communist Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
Does it bother me that the likes of Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Donald Trump from New York City - unlike Governor Kasich - failed to tell Americans that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement among twelve of the Pacific Rim countries was specifically designed to reduce the economic and geopolitical influence of China and Russia in the Pacific Rim region, plus continue to fence in North Korea?

You're damned right it does because Vermonters and New Yorkers are an additional 3,000 miles from these risks. So are the Ohio and Georgia voters who elected a Presidential candidate who has financial interests in Russia and China....
Which bring us to this map, the initial version of which was actually published by the East Coast/Atlantc oriented Wall Street Journal but the second, modified version emphasizes reality assuming the missiles would be aimed at significant strategic targets in the U.S:


There is some speculation about the progress of North Korean missile capabilities which ends up giving us a graphic that looks like this:


That, of course, ignores the fact that North Korea has submarines.including six ballistic missile submarines. As noted in a recent Popular Science article:
North Korea is currently pursuing a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which went from a spectacular failure of a test in December 2015 to a modestly successful 300-mile flight in a test in August 2016.
Such a 300-mile flight would allow a submarine to sit comfortable 150 miles offshore to strike every major city and port on this map located west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges:


What is not within range of any North Korean nuclear weapons is any Rust Belt, East Coast or Gulf Coast state or the people therein. While naturally people fear strategic nuclear weapons mounted on intercontinental missiles, North Korean submarines and warships can carry tactical nuclear weapons. As explained in Wikipedia (emphasis added):
There is no precise definition of the "tactical" category, neither considering range nor yield of the nuclear weapon. The yield of tactical nuclear weapons is generally lower than that of strategic nuclear weapons, but larger ones are still very powerful, and some variable-yield warheads serve in both roles, for example the W89 200 kiloton (1/5Mt) warhead armed both the tactical Sea Lance anti-submarine rocket propelled depth charge and the strategic bomber launched SRAM II stand off missile. Modern tactical nuclear warheads have yields up to the tens of kilotons, or potentially hundreds, several times that of the weapons used in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [both estimated at 18± kilotons].
It is difficult to overemphasize the complexity of the situation in the Pacific Rim. It could easily become a Cuban Missile Crisis level situation. Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are not Jack and Bobby Kennedy. Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who since the age of 16 has been a politics nerd, is no Kenneth O'Donnell who spent World War II in the US Army Air Corps (1942–1945).

China, which has plenty of ICBM's that can hit anywhere in the United States plus their own submarines with nukes, is disturbed about our plans for placing Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles, a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, in their backyard. Per Wikipedia:
In May 2014, the Pentagon revealed it was studying sites to base THAAD batteries in South Korea. In February 2016, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed concerns that deployment of THAAD in South Korea, despite being directed at North Korea, could jeopardize China's "legitimate national security interests." The major controversy among Chinese officials is that they believe the purpose of the THAAD system, "which detects and intercepts incoming missiles at high altitudes, is actually to track missiles launched from China" not from North Korea. In July 2016, American and South Korean military officials agreed to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in the country to counter North Korea's growing threats and use of ballistic missile and nuclear tests; each THAAD unit consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire control and communications unit, and an AN/TPY-2 radar.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is crazy, of course. The Chinese know this. They also know the American THAAD system is not designed to defend against ICBM's - we have no defense for that. They also know the reliability of the THAAD system in warfare conditions has not been tested.

But they do have disputes with neighboring countries involving the South China Sea as explained in the November post previously mentioned. It's complicated.

Most of Trump's supporters don't understand the Pacific Rim. If they did, they would not have opposed the TPP. The Rust Belt and most of the other states whose Electoral College members voted for Trump have put fools in charge of protecting the Pacific Rim including California and Oregon and Washington.

It's as if Americans are ignorant of the fact that WWI, which led to the European theater of WWII,  began as the July Crisis with incompetents blundering their way into creating the worlds most violent century killing 160± million people. Along with East-of-the-Rockies-Americans ignorance of the Pacific Rim which has been continuous since California was admitted to the Union, there is almost no chance of adequate monitoring of the fools in the White House. The President of the Rust Belt said Thursday while standing on an aircraft carrier:
We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war and, if required, to fight war and only do one thing. You know what that is: Win. Win! We’re going to start winning again!
What exactly the voters in the Rust Belt and The South have in mind for the 21st Century is unclear, but if they care about the next generations they had better become familiar with the Pacific Rim. Because there are no winners when you kill 160± million people.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

For 3rd Graders and Donald Trump
  Where the water in a river comes from


In another move against the health and welfare of the people of California, the President of the Rust Belt today signed an order to start the process of eliminating the effective protection of our water.

The order directs the rollback of a 2015 environmental regulation that was issued issued under the Clean Water Act of 1972 to give the federal government authority to regulate pollution in smaller streams and rivers that flow into larger bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, Puget Sound, and the San Francisco Bay.

The rule would have given protection to 60 percent of the US’s bodies of water, including wetlands. The rule was attacked by oil and gas developers, farmers, pesticide and fertilizer makers, and golf course owners, which claimed the regulation infringes on property owners’ rights and is bad for the economy. In 2015, the American Farm Bureau Federation led a lawsuit against the rule, arguing it puts the burden on farmers to get a permit for using fertilizers near ditches and streams. The case has been in the courts ever since, and the rule has never actually been implemented.

Trump's order basically puts defending the legal case on hold, directing the EPA to revise the rule. It was a clear action to continue the process of the Deconstruction of the Administrative State as advocated by Neoliberal Presidential Strategist Steve Bannon.

There was a typical Trump signing event:
“It’s a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad,” Trump said at a White House signing ceremony, surrounded by Vice President Pence, first lady Melania Trump and top opponents of the regulation, including newly installed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio.).

Farmers, homebuilders and county commissioners were also present.

“The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate navigable waters, meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that navigable waters can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or any place else that they decide,” Trump said before signing the order.
It is reflective of Trump's ignorance, of course. Here's what I would expect third graders to understand.

Most of the water that river systems ultimately deliver to the ocean...

...and that floats the barges...

...comes from such locations as headwater streams...


...but in between the headwater streams, other waterways that ultimately run into navigable waters are polluted by agricultural irrigation runoff filled with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer...


and runoff from improper development carrying petroleum waste and sewage...


and industrial waste...


which besides killing wildlife gets into our drinking water...


...which in my opinion should be third grade level knowledge. I'm not sure where Trump thinks that nasty water in the puddle outside Trump Towers goes, but it goes somewhere.

California has a significant water quality regulatory program a lot of which depends upon federal regulations the enforcement of which has been delegated to agencies such as the State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

Fortunately, California's navigable waters are wholly within the boundaries of our State. That, combined with proposed new legislation, announced Thursday by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and his colleagues,as an attempt to ensure federal rules on air quality, water protection, endangered species and worker safety would stay on the books in California as explained in the last post California opens environmental defensive front in Trumpism's anti-California War will be enough to protect our children.

As I urged in a post in another blog we must not suffer fools gladly and never forget Cipolla's five fundamental laws of stupidity:
  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.
The Trump Administration is full of foolish people led by a fool who apparently lacks a third grade understanding of stream and river systems.

Most importantly despite what the news media says about how it will take time for these orders to actually become effective, we must understand that our defenses must be in place well before that can happen. In fact we must act as soon as possible as just as the implementation of the federal regulations has been stopped by a lawsuit making its way through the courts, the State will undoubted see such a lawsuit.

Understand that if we in California can get our act together soon enough to protect our waters we can feel badly for the people around Puget Sound if they don't get their act together soon enough. But we cannot keep the stupid people along the Mississippi River and its tributaries from harming themselves. We tried November 8, 2016, and they declared war on San Francisco Values.