Showing posts with label Nancy Pelosi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nancy Pelosi. Show all posts

Monday, May 25, 2020

California ain't got the do re mi: Will Americans bail out the Golden State?


California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.



Woodie Guthrie

Just a few months ago, the California economy appeared to be in great shape. Governor Gavin Newsom predicted a $7 billion budget surplus for 2020, and the state had $16 billion in its rainy day fund.  

The governor was feeling so confident that he promised to distribute $75 million to the state's illegal residents.  Very thoughtful. But after all, what's $75 million to California, the world's fifth-largest economy?

But then COVID-19 came along like a drunken ex-spouse at your wedding reception, and the Golden State's economy began heading south.

Today, Governor Newsom projects a $54 billion budget deficit--more than three times the amount of the state's rainy day fund.  California has 4.2 million unemployed workers and huge healthcare expenses connected with the coronavirus. One in three Californians (13 million) are on Medicaid and can't pay their own medical bills.

And of course, California's financial problems are more severe than this year's budget deficit. According to the California Policy Center,California's state and local liabilities total $1.5 trillion.  

A lot of California's debt can be traced to high salaries paid to the state's civil servants and unfunded pension obligations to government workers.  California's public employees (professors, school administrators, hospital administrators, etc.) are paid well. In fact, about one-third of a million government employees draw salaries of $100,000 or more.  Over 1,400 of them are paid more than Governor Newsom.

California's state and local employees also enjoy great retirement plans. Some retired school administrators draw pensions of more than $300,000 a year.

California desperately needs a federal bailout to keep essential services going and to pay thousands of overpaid public workers. Indeed, Governor Newsom said he is optimistic about the state's economic future but, "My optimism is conditioned on this--more federal support." 

Hence, Nancy Pelosi's $3 trillion HEROES Act, which, if passed, will shower more than $1 trillion of federal money to distressed state and local governments.  If the Senate votes to approve Pelosi's bill, lots of federal money will arrive in California.

But there's just one problem with the HEROES Act. The national debt already tops $25 trillion. Pelosi's legislation will add another $3 trillion to that number.

So if the federal government bails out California, taxpayers in Kansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma will help pay the tab for those quarter-of-a-million dollar California pension benefits. The citizens of the Midwest will help fund the princely salaries of California's college professors and school superintendents.  

As Woodie Guthrie observed nearly 100 years ago, California is a garden of Eden and a beautiful place to call home. But the state's dwindling middle class is going to find that California is not so hot if you ain't got the do re mi to pay for a whole lot of high living by people who call themselves public servants.

But Governor Newsom, we ain't got the do re mi!







Friday, January 31, 2020

I fell asleep during the Impeachment movie. Did I miss anything?

Like millions of Americans, I watched Impeachment, The Movie. Unfortunately, I fell asleep near the end, and when I woke up, I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on.

In my own defense, Impeachment was a very long movie--more than three years, almost as long as Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.  I got up to go to the bathroom during the Mueller investigation, and I never got back on track.

And of course, when a movie is three years long, you gotta have some popcorn. I was smart enough to buy the Value Tub--the one that gives you unlimited refills. It was expensive--$250 plus tax, but I got 127 refills, so it was a pretty good deal.

But the popcorn breaks added to my confusion. I missed parts of the movie when I was making all those trips to the concession counter.

So fill me in. I thought the Mueller investigation concluded that Trump was not guilty of colluding with the Russians, but later in the movie, Hillary Clinton said that he was.

And then Trump was accused of making an illegal phone call to the president of Ukraine. And that had something to do with Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and all the rest of Biden's children. But that was never explained.

But here's the part that really befuddled me.  The impeachment trial in the Senate was triggered by an anonymous whistleblower whose name was never revealed.  And Representative Adam Schiff, the chief prosecutor, claimed he had never met the guy.  Huh? To me, that part of the movie just wasn't believable.

Obviously, the director of the movie, Nancy Pelosi (who played herself in the film), should have cut a lot of the scenes. In my opinion, the movie could have been cut down to about a year and a half.

And there were casting errors.  The guy who played Robert Mueller was obviously miscast. He was supposed to be this bulldog investigator with ironclad integrity, but he came off as some sleepy old guy who was trying to find the remote on his television.

I tell you this--I am not going to watch that movie again. I'm too old to watch three-year movies.

But I'm pumped about the sequel, which comes out next summer--Impeachment: The Empire Strikes Back! This one is about the expulsion of Adam Schiff from the House of Representatives, and Joaquin Phoenix plays Shiff wearing Joker makeup.

I can't wait to see it, and I understand it's only about two months long.


Joaquin Phoenix playing Adam Schiff in Impeachment: The Empire Strikes Back

This essay is also posted at my blog site on American culture: Saints of Flyover Countryflyoversaints.org.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Let's kick California off the island: When bad things happen to a good state

You don't know me but you don't like me,
You say you care less how I feel
How many of you that sit and judge me
Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Streets of Bakersfield
Sung by Buck Owens

I love California, which I've visited many times. Napa Valley is lovely and produces terrific wines. The landscape around Santa Barbara is the most beautiful in the world, surpassing Tuscany and the Li Valley in southwestern China, in my opinion.

Unlike (I suspect) California's politicians, I appreciate the great literature of California. I've read Frank Norris' The Octopus, Nathanael West's Day of the Locust, some of Joan Didion's essays, Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and many of the works of Jack London and John Steinbeck. I love T.C. Boyles' California novels, particularly The Tortilla Curtain and Budding Prospects.

And Californians are great people. Although I haven't met them all, I've never met a Californian I didn't like. (I might not like Charlie Manson or HarveyWeinstein, but we don't run in the same circles.)

But let's face it. The Californians insist on sending wingnuts to Congress, and these nut jobs are ruining the country.  I'm talking Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, etc., etc.  It's got to stop.

So let's vote California off the island. I realize a state can't secede from the Union, but with a constitutional amendment, we can surely vote to kick a state out of the club.

Who could oppose such a move? Texas? North Dakota? Hell, the Californians would jump at the chance to have their own nation.

If California was a country it could do whatever it damn likes. It could have open borders, free sex-change operations for illegal immigrants, and no-charge facelifts. It could require corporations to put convicted rapists on their governing boards and make it a criminal offense for Christians to go to college. The People's Republic of California could give citizens the constitutional right to crap on the sidewalks instead of restricting that privilege to San Francisco.  What's not to like?

Of course, my proposal has some limitations. First of all, the town of Bakersfield--home of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and the Bakersfield sound--would continue to be part of America.  And the Ronald Reagan Library.  That goes without saying.

And America would keep the military bases and Disney Land.  But Hollywood would be happier if California were a separate nation, and Americans are tired of Hollywood movies anyway.

Think about it. Kicking California out of the USA would solve a lot of problems, and I can think of no downsides. And if Americans get nostalgic about the old California, they can watch classic movies: Vertigo, The Big Lebowski, and The Maltese Falcon.

The Dude abides, man.




Sunday, October 27, 2019

Impeach DeVos, Not Trump: Democrats should focus on Betsy DeVos' outrageous mismanagement of the student-loan program

Let me start by saying this: I am a registered Democrat who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary race in Louisiana. I will vote for a Democrat in Louisiana's 2020 primary election, although I am not happy with my choices.  I am neither a MAGA Republican nor a Never-Trumper; I just want a decent person to be President. Is that too much to ask?

I admit that I am just an old white guy who lives in Flyover Country--and a cisgendered old white guy at that. Nevertheless, I don't get the Democrats' obsession with impeaching President Trump. Congressman Schiff wants to impeach Trump over a phone call? What's that about?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, Adam, but impeachment is never going to happen.  Nancy Pelosi will never call for a vote on the matter, and the Senate will never impeach the President. The 2020 election is only 12 months away--12 months! Why don't the  Democrats focus on nominating a reasonable candidate who can defeat Trump in 2020?

On the other hand, Trump's Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is eminently impeachable and should be impeached. I've commented on her outrageously incompetent management of the federal student-loan program on several occasions. DeVos simply refuses to administer the government's various student-loan forgiveness programs in a competent manner. She's screwed up the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Borrower Defense program, and her agency opposes bankruptcy relief for distressed student-loan debtors--no matter how desperate a debtor's circumstances.

And now she has been held in contempt by a federal judge for defying a court order. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim ruled that DeVos and DOE violated Judge Kim's preliminary injunction to stop collecting on student loans owed by students who attended Corinthian Colleges, a defunct for-profit college.

Judge Kim was actually pretty steamed about DOE's intransigence. At one point, the Judge said, "I'm not sending anyone to jail yet, but it's good to know I have that ability."

The unlawful collection activities were actually carried out by DOE's contracted student-loan servicers, not DOE itself. But DOE is responsible for the servicers' actions. Mark Brown, a senior DOE official, acknowledged a screw-up. "Although these actions were not done with ill intent," Brown said, "students and parents were affected and we take full responsibility for that."

If the Democrats were smarter, they would focus their impeachment energy on DeVos, not President Trump.  An impeachment inquiry could speed ahead with full compliance with due process.  There would be no need to hold secret hearings in the basement of the Capitol. DeVos' malfeasance is adequately documented by competent evidence, including several adverse court rulings against DeVos and DOE. And I predict that some Republicans in both the House and the Senate would support impeachment once the facts of her maladministration were brought to light.

And impeaching DeVos would publicize to every beaten-down student-loan debtor that the Trump administration doesn't care about them.  President Trump's total indifference to the student-loan train wreck could be exploited by the Democratic candidates who are calling for student-loan forgiveness.

But the Democrats' aren't interested in doing something sensible. Like Captain Ahab chasing the great white whale in Moby Dick, they scour the oceans of bureaucratic nonsense looking for some way to impeach President Trump.  And Trump, like Moby Dick, may wind up putting a great big hole in the Democrats' boat.

Will the Great White Whale sink the Never-Trumpers?








Friday, October 4, 2019

Feds spend millions on Betsy DeVos' personal security: Do Americans hate her that much?

Politico (Nicole Gaudiano and Caitlin Emma) reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' security detail is projected to cost taxpayers $7.87 million in the coming fiscal year. That's up by about $1.5 million over last year's cost: $6.24 million.

Betsy is protected by the U.S. Marshals Service, which says its job is to "monitor and mitigate threats" to DeVos's personal safety.

Is that cost really necessary? After all, the four previous Education secretaries were content to be protected by the Department of Education's modest security force.

I have a few comments about Secretary DeVos' security detail. First, since DeVos' security costs are going up, that must mean that threats against her are accelerating. If that's true, maybe DeVos and President Trump should ask themselves why so many people are angry with her instead of just hiring more marshals.

Indeed, millions of student-loan borrowers have lots of reasons to be mad at Betsy DeVos: her gross mishandling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, her efforts to water down protections for students who were defrauded by their colleges, and her shameless pandering to the for-profit college industry.

But then Betsy DeVos' heavy security detail is probably not that unusual among the nation's top public officials. I feel sure that most powerful politicians--Republicans and Democrats alike--have bodyguards. Do you think Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell go to the grocery store unaccompanied?

What a world we live in! Our elected and appointed officials--people we count on to look after the public interest--are being driven around in chauffeured limousines--protected from public contact by tinted glass and armed bodyguards. The only citizens they spend any time with are rich people with big checks in their hands.

So if you want to meet Betsy DeVos, you have two choices. You can become filthy rich and make a big donation to the Republican Party. In gratitude, Betsy might invite you over for cocktails on her yacht, the Seaquest.

If you aren't rich, you won't meet Betsy DeVos unless you throw yourself in front of her limousine and get run down by her chauffeur. Maybe then you and Betsy could have a little chat about your student loans while you're waiting for an ambulance.

Betsy's yacht