San Diego Congressman Darrel Issa has never been accused of being camera shy. Since taking over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee in 2011 he’s done his best to to keep the media fixated through a series of open-ended investigations: Solyndra, Fast & Furious, the IRS, and Benghazi.
Since immigrant children being subpoenaed to testify wouldn’t provide much in the way of good optics-what if they cried?–, Issa’s tackling the current humanitarian crisis at the border with bluster and bloviating.
Along with three resolutions that could trigger civil actions against the Obama administration for its decision to ignore laws passed by Congress on issues related to immigration, Obamacare and welfare, he’s joined with other California Republicans in introducing legislation (HR5079) allowing for the accelerated deportation of unaccompanied children to countries that do not share a direct border with the United States.
The North County Congressman spent much of June saying President Obama’s policies on immigration were responsible for the deaths of children. Here’s what Issa said on Fox News Radio on June 10th (Via Slate) :
“When the president made a decision that he was not going to enforce immigration laws … he created a real magnet to pull in a great deal of new illegals, particularly children who would qualify under the president’s own executive DREAM Act. When you become all three branches of government, this is what happens. The president can’t easily reverse himself, and yet this flood is going to mean children dying trying to get in, and more important, children coming here in the anticipation that somehow they’re going to be granted citizenship.
Never mind that the current surge at the border began in October 2011, eight months prior to the President’s executive action to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children. Or that none of those Central American refugees could qualify anyway, since the qualifications for deferred action for those covered under the executive order require applicants to have been physically present in the U.S. on or before June 15, 2012.
And then the the matter of refugee status–from The Arizona Republic:
About 40 percent of those children being held by Health and Human Services could qualify for some sort of legal protection from deportation, according to a study by the Vera Institute of Justice. The institute is a non-profit whose goal is making justice systems more fair. A U.N. official put the number even higher, at 60 percent.
People who try to enter the United States at an official port of entry without proper admission documents can apply for asylum if they say they fear returning to their country. That’s generally referred to as refugee asylum — fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social or political group.
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the countries of origin for most of the children, have among the highest murder rates in the world, which may provide a legitimate fear of returning to their homes.
But don’t worry about any actual facts (or due process) folks, if there’s any possibility that TV cameras will be in the vicinity Darrell Issa will be at the ready.
Bike Lanes Really Good for the Economy
A new study on how bike infrastructure affects cities, says the return on investment on bike lanes is much higher that one might expect.
From Al Jazeera:
The study, published by several researchers at universities in New Zealand in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, argues that for every dollar spent on bike-related infrastructure, cities can receive anywhere from $6 to $24 in cost savings in the form of reductions to pollution and traffic congestion, as well as lowered health care costs from decreased traffic fatalities and increased exercise.
The researchers used Auckland, New Zealand as their model city and applied five theoretical interventions to its infrastructure to see how bikers and other commuters would be affected. They found that the larger the investment in bike infrastructure, the more people would be encouraged to commute by bike, and therefore the larger the return on investment would be.
One of the most effective ways to increase bike traffic is to build separate bike lanes along major roads. The study found that these lanes could increase bike commuting by 20 percent by 2040. Separated bike lanes alongside car traffic also decrease injuries by 50 percent, the study said.
The researchers posited that the fastest and most cost-efficient way to get bikes on the road, cars off the road, and better the public’s health was for a city to go all out: creating separate bike lanes on most roads as well as slowing car traffic on shared roads. That intervention was predicted to increase bike traffic by a whopping 40 percent by 2040, and decrease car traffic by the same amount, leading to the biggest cost savings of all: $24 dollars for every dollar spent on infrastructure.
Trickle Down Equals Pissed On
Kansas Gov. and sometime GOP Presidential candidate Sam Brownback whacked taxes in 2012 and 2013, reducing top bracket taxes by a quarter and eliminating all pass-through business taxation. The Governor and his Republican cronies promised there’d be no loss of revenue because of all the economic growth.
From today’s New York Times editorial:
“Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” he wrote in 2012. “It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business.”
But the growth didn’t show up. Kansas, in fact, was one of only five states to lose employment over the last six months, while the rest of the country was improving. It has been below the national average in job gains for the three and half years Mr. Brownback has been in office. Average earnings in the state are down since 2012, and so is net growth in the number of registered businesses.
With less money to spend, Kansas is forced to chop away at its only hope for real economic expansion: investment in public schools and colleges. While most states began restoring education funding after the recession, Kansas has cut K-12 spending by 2 percent over the last two school years, and higher education by 3 percent since 2012.
A $6.6 Trillion Dollar Shortfall
No, that $6.6 trillion is not this year’s Federal deficit. The Wall Street Journal says this year’s governmental shortfall will be on the order of about 8% of that number.
Pulitizer Prize winning report David Cay Johnson got curious about President Obama’s recent statement “underlying trend for middle class families, that they don’t feel, no matter how hard they work, they’re able to get ahead in the same way that their parents were able to get ahead.”
After all, the stock market’s booming and the United States has seen more than 4 years of sustained (albeit weak) job growth.
Johnson discovered that $6.6 trillion figure to be the income Americans have lost through the Bush-era tax cuts. Johnston figures it works out to about $48,000 per tax payer.
Via Al Jazeera:
I calculated that enormous figure by comparing the average income Americans reported on their 2000 tax returns with what they reported each year for 2001 through 2012, adjusting for inflation and the growing population. Add up the income for 12 years and it turns out to be $6.6 trillion less than if we had maintained the prosperity of 2000 for a growing population.
Why use 2000 as a benchmark? Well, first off, it marks the end of one era and the start of another. More important, that very good year economically was when George W. Bush, running for president, said American prosperity would get even better if he was elected and his tax cuts — key aspects of which he kept secret until after the election — would ensure American prosperity.
The results: The prosperity of the prior decade was lost. Job growth fell far behind population growth. The median wage (half make more, half less) has been mired since 1998 at a bit more than $500 per week.
Pot Ad Gets Cheesy
Burger King can rest easy now. Canadian company Crop King Seeds has created a video ad character for selling its marijuana seeds who is even more creepy than the BK monarch.
The ad is being tested on the internet–they’ll need a bleep or two for TV, even in Canada.
Via diarist Mopshell at Daily Kos:
Balboa Park Centennial Group’s Official Won’t Talk
What’s that I smell? Could it be the stench of corruption coming by way of former mayor Jerry Sander’s cronies over in Balboa Park?
UT-San Diego reported San Diego City Auditor Eduardo Luna is seeking to subpoena Julie Dubick, former head of Balboa Park Celebration Inc. and former chief of staff to then-Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Luna would like to chat with Ms. Dubick about the $3 million or so that produced so little in the way of actual results for a planned centennial celebration of the Panama-California exposition in Balboa Park.
From the UT story:
In a memo on Friday, Luna sought the subpoena power from the City Council’s audit committee, which oversees his work. He cited “the refusal of a key witness to cooperate with our investigation” of the centennial planning.
Not so fast, said San Diego’s defender of the faith:
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the lawyers who drafted Section 39.2 did not provide for subpoena power, so voters did not authorize the auditor to issue subpoenas.
Rather, they awarded him the authority to “summon” certain people to provide information, Goldsmith said.
“Under this process, the auditor would issue the summon,” Goldsmith said. “If it is violated, our office would seek a court order. Then, violation of that court order would be a contempt. So in effect the difference is a two-step process rather than self-executing.”
Lots of luck with that, Mr. Luna.
Meanwhile, the all-volunteer Centennial Celebration is moving forward. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news. Here’s a snippet of their (in progress) proposal:
Turn the clock back to 1915 for this one very special weekend. Come in period costume, or to see those who do. Think creative SteamPunk garb. Enjoy events, tours and exhibits featuring the look and feel of the original 1915 Panama-California Exposition that created the core of the Park we all know, love and treasure. Free whenever possible. Very low costs if some fees are necessary.
Walk about the Park with a knowledgeable docent in period costume. Ride in a reproduction of the wicker electro-carts used in 1915. Enjoy free mini-performances by talents from the San Diego Opera and Symphony. Celebrate the Centennial and the Park ! View period automobiles. Live Rag-Time music. STEAMPUNK Bands !Dancing ! What would be entertaining, fun and informative for YOU?
On This Day: 1921 – Italian immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted in Massachusetts of murder and payroll robbery—unfairly, most historians agree—after a 2-month trial, and eventually executed. Fifty years after their deaths the state’s governor issued a proclamation saying they had been treated unfairly and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”1981 – The All-Star Game was postponed because of a 33-day-old baseball players strike. The game was held on August 9.1998 – The City of Los Angeles sued 15 tobacco companies for $2.5 billion over the dangers of secondhand smoke.
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