By Doug Porter
Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.
While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.
Emerging from the Family Research Council’s gathering were narratives likely to influence the Republican agenda for the coming months. Gays, abortion, scary brown immigrants and opposition to Obama were unifying themes. And GOP candidates for President told the crowd what they wanted to hear.
So much for the pundits who predicted the demise of the religious right.
Candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson all took turns whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment for the crowd. Carson skillfully blended nativism with islamophobia, claiming immigrants coming in from Mexico are “from Iraq and Syria and Russia and many of them are hardened criminals.”
The Donald got booed by the crowd when he attacked fellow Republican candidate Marco Rubio — calling him a “clown” — at an event Friday. In typical Trumpian fashion The Donald later insisted that “those weren’t boos, those were cheers.” And I’m not so sure he convinced many attendees by waving the family bible from the stage.
Senator Ted Cruz won the annual presidential straw poll for the third year in a row.
From the Dallas News:
Sen. Ted Cruz was in rare form Friday morning at the Value Voters Summit, calling President Barack Obama a communist, gloating over Speaker John Boehner’s sudden resignation, and threatening the assassination of Iran’s supreme leader.
The Freedom Caucus
Congressman McCarthy will have to win over the sixty-member House Freedom Caucus on his way to the Speakership. And they have issues, issues just like the ones the Value Voters covet so dearly.
They’ve likely lost the battle (Boehner sold ’em out!) over a stop-gap funding bill passing sans restrictions on Planned Parenthood. A Blue Ribbon Panel will be created to give abortion critics a platform.
If Boehner and the administration are unable to come to terms (or so the rumor mills have it) on long term solutions, including an infrastructure bill before October 30th, the first Big Battle for the new leadership will come in December as the continuing resolution for funding runs out.
As bad as Rep. Boehner was/is, what’s coming up in GOP-land will be worse.
A Dose of Reality on Immigration
The Times of San Diego posted a story over the weekend about a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study on immigrants and crime.
For all the blustering from the family values crowd, statistics in this report show their claims are nothing more than fear-mongering.
The report found that neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than comparable non-immigrant neighborhoods.
In fact, foreign-born men aged 18-39 are jailed at only one-fourth the rate of native-born American men of the same age.
“Increased prevalence of immigrants is associated with lower crime rates—the opposite of what many Americans fear,” the authors concluded.
The 450-page report, “The Integration of Immigrants into American Society,” was released last week, and a public briefing will be webcast on Monday from Washington.
There are other findings, like the fact that modern-day immigrants are learning English at the same rate or faster than earlier waves of immigrants, likely to be ignored by Republican candidates for higher office.
Privatized Profits, Socialized Risk for SDG&E
San Diego Gas and Electric wants you to pay for 90% of the remaining $420 million in claim incurred stemming from the 2007 wildfires. Shareholders would pay the other 10 percent, according to a story at KPBS.
The San Diego-based utility filed paperwork Friday asking to pass along 90 percent of the remaining the cost of expenses.
The blaze was one of the most destructive wildfires in California history, with 1,300 homes burned and two people killed.
Investigators determined the fire was caused by San Diego Gas and Electric equipment and that led to some $4 billion worth of claims against SDG&E.
Whining About Taxi Reforms
The Union-Tribune ran with a story over the weekend noting that only 47 newly permitted drivers are operating taxis now that four months have passed since the cap on medallions was lifted by the Metropolitan Transit System.
That 5 percent increase means it’s too soon to know whether San Diego can support a sharp increase in taxis on the road when the industry is already facing fierce new competition from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
Supporters say they are confident the market can handle the increased competition, and many predict it will steadily improve service and lower fares for customers.
But critics, including a group representing people who held permits before deregulation, said the lack of demand for taxis has played a role in the small number of new permits being issued. They said many aspiring permit holders are reluctant to invest money to enter an already flooded marketplace.
We do learn further down in the story that MTS expects to approve 1,000 new permits within a year. They also interviewed a driver who said he’s making more money and able to spend time with his family.
Most of the existing taxi workforce are immigrants. Many of them, according to a study by San Diego State and the Center on Policy Initiatives, have been working for less than minimum wage.
Somehow I think it’s not too surprising that they quickly haven’t turned up with cash in hand at MTS.
I guess it’s also not too surprising that the previous overloads of the cab business would cast shade on the new guys. In fact, the San Diego Transportation Association is suing to have all the recent reforms overturned.
Climate Deniers Take Note
I suppose we should be grateful that ongoing developments in the battle to save dirty energy are creating a split between fossil fuel companies and the financial sector.
From the Huffington Post:
Six big U.S. banks called for a “strong global climate agreement” in a statement Monday, with Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo arguing in a joint release that government action, in addition to private business investment, is needed to address climate change.
The banks said that putting a price on carbon emissions is crucial to increasing investments in clean energy. The right policy frameworks, they wrote, “can help unlock the incremental public and private capital needed to ensure” that the estimated $90 trillion in new infrastructure investments projected over the next 15 years will help reduce, not increase, carbon emissions.
Speaking of divides, Jonathan Chait at New York tells us just how far outside the norm today’s GOP really is:
Of all the major conservative parties in the democratic world, the Republican Party stands alone in its denial of the legitimacy of climate science. Indeed, the Republican Party stands alone in its conviction that no national or international response to climate change is needed. To the extent that the party is divided on the issue, the gap separates candidates who openly dismiss climate science as a hoax, and those who, shying away from the political risks of blatant ignorance, instead couch their stance in the alleged impossibility of international action.
A new paper by Sondre Båtstrand studies the climate-change positions of electoral manifestos for the conservative parties in nine democracies, and finds the GOP truly stands apart. Opposition to any mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions, he finds, “is only the case with the U.S. Republican Party, and hence not representative of conservative parties as a party family.”
No Headline Non-News Nothing to See Here
Finally, I have to question why the Union-Tribune gave a story on “chemtrails” any play, even if it was a story saying a journal had retracted a published study.
For those of you who live in the real world, chemtrails are touted by conspiracy theorists as a secret government plot to change the weather. Those exhaust plumes from planes we see in the sky are supposedly coal fly ash, responsible for all manner of health ailments and also the current drought conditions in California.
The retracted study reported on by the UT was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. A quick search shows it is listed by University of Colorado Denver librarian and researcher Jeffrey Beall as a “predatory” open access publisher. By this he means a publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not).
In other words, the so-called study was so bad, that a pay-to-play journal had to retract it.
Meanwhile, the nutters who espouse this stuff get some visibility in the Sunday paper.
On This Day: 1542 – San Diego was “discovered” by Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. 1864 – The International Workingmen’s Association was founded in London. It was an international organization trying to unite a variety of different left-wing, socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and unions. It functioned for about 12 years, growing to a membership declared to be eight million, before being disbanded at its Philadelphia conference in 1876, a victim of infighting brought on by the wide variety of members’ philosophies. 1963 – “She Loves You” by the Beatles was played on the radio by Murry The K in New York. It is believed that this was the first time a Beatles song was played in the U.S.
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