Monday, December 15, 2014

High Density "Transit Oriented Development" in Bay Park and Linda Vista

I haven't looked at the ongoing process of amending the city's community plans to comply with SB 375 in a while, but the whole process moves slowly; prior posts on the subject can be viewed here.  The more I read about the sausage making of the process to amend the community plans the more my head hurts.  Apparently it's an arcane process intended to bore opponents to death and allow insiders and city staff to dominate the process.  Understand The Plan is a great resource if you are willing to dive into these details.

Currently the opponents of the 60 foot height limit are planning to propose amendments that would impose a 30 foot limit in Linda Vista near the proposed trolley station at Tecolote Road as well Green Area Ratio requirements to reduce the density of development.  These proposals will compete with planning department proposals that will go before the city council.  It's ironic that green initiatives that require open space are in conflict with green initiatives to increase  urban density to increase mass-transit ridership.

What is not clear is how the City Council will vote regardless of community pressure.  The city could certainly face lawsuits if it doesn't do enough to comply with SB 375.  This is how sclerosis sets into government.  There are so many competing requirements and mandates that eventually nothing can be done, but even doing nothing results in costly lawsuits.  I can envision a future where all city fundings is used in lawsuits because no local governmental action is possible due to laws passed in Sacramento.

It doesn't appear that the subject will come to a city council vote until January 2016 according to the planning document posted on the Understand the Plan site, but I can't find any confirming evidence that this process won't get on a faster timeline with developers waiting to make money on the zoning changes.

It's worth remembering that this whole process is somehow linked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  I defy anyone to prove the building of high-rises along Morena Blvd will result in so much as one less ounce of carbon emissions.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Dalrock, because he shreds the fantasy that is feminism which resulted in the utterly, completely false UVA rape story. "It wasn’t just Erdely who fell in love with this perfect story.  Feminists across the media fell in love with the fantasy story as well."
  • My twitter feed, because I don't blog much anymore.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Death and Taxes and Eric Garner

The death of Eric Garner has struck a chord in a way that Michael Brown's did not.  For one thing, there is video evidence lacking in the Michael Brown.

The outrage over the tactics used to arrest a man for selling untaxed cigarettes has provoked outrage.  Further outrage ensued when a Grand Jury failed to indict, just as in the Michael Brown case.  But there are some big differences in these two cases.  Michael Brown credibly committed a crime against persons before his encounter with the police.  Further, there is evidence that Brown put the life of officer Wilson in danger.  From this video, we see that Garner was no such threat to the police.

We also have to ask why the police feel that they have to enforce tax policy?  Even if Garner was in fact selling smokes illegally, why can't you give him a ticket and a fine?  Why the arrest?  What the hell is going on that the police have literally become the health police in New York.

The answer is that this the ultimate enforcement power of government.  We should be careful about what we make illegal, because government has the force of arms to kill us to comply.  This is why the individual mandate in Obamacare is so pernicious.  I can easily imagine a scenario where someone dies as federal agents attempt to seize assets for non-payment of the health care penalty.  Gives new meaning to the term "Death Panels."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deny Obama Entry to Congress for SOTU Address - UPDATED

Under the concept of separation of powers, the President is invited annually by the Congress to address the "State of the Union."  While it is a constitutional requirement that the President provide a report or address as to the State of the Union, there is no requirement as to the form it takes.  In 2013, Speaker Boehner invited the President to deliver the address:
Dear Mr. President:
As we round out the first session of the 113th Congress, we look ahead to the new year and with it the annual tradition of the president’s State of the Union address.  In the coming year, Americans expect Washington to focus on their priorities and to look for common ground in addressing the challenges facing our country.  In that spirit, we welcome an opportunity to hear your ideas, particularly for putting Americans back to work.  It’s my honor to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.
Speaker of the House
However, under the current circumstances of the President's unprecedented extra-legal usurpation of powers, especially, but not only with respect to illegal immigration; Speaker Boehner and soon-to-be Majority Leader McConnell should send a letter to the President that reads something like this:

Dear Mr. President:
As we look forward to the first session of the 114th Congress, we look ahead to the new year and with it the annual tradition of the President providing the Congress a report on the State of the Union address.  In the coming year, Americans expect Washington to focus on their priorities and to look for common ground in addressing the challenges facing our country.  However, through your executive actions that have exceeded the authority provided you under law, you have failed to include the Congress in addressing the nation's challenges.  In the spirit of Constitutional observance, we welcome an opportunity to hear your ideas on addressing these issue, but not through personal appearance, rather in the form of written correspondence to be delivered by January 28, 2015. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.
Speaker of the House
Such action is entirely within tradition and legitimate constitutionality.  The Congressional Research Service documents that:
Between 1801 and 1913, Presidents fulfilled their constitutional duty by sending their yearly report as a formal written letter to Congress. These written messages contained information about the state of the nation, and also included policy recommendations.
This action would underscore Congressional prerogative in the face of the President's unprecedented and unilateral usurpation of power.  There will be howls from the left; but no one can claim that anything other than Obama's feelings would be hurt.  However, that would hit him where he lives, because, like any would be dictator, he loves the trappings of power.  Indeed, the delivery of the SOTU was discontinued for a long period for just such a reason:
Likening it to a “speech from the throne” reminiscent of monarchy’s vestiges, Thomas Jefferson changed course and instead submitted his Annual Message in writing.
Obama can just get used to his coming retirement a little early by losing this perquisite due to his own arrogance.

Not Barack Obama, in any way. (Thomas Jefferson if you didn't know.)


Andrew McCoy (@DrewMTips), writing in the Ace of Spades blog, echoes my thoughts and adds this:
Yesterday, Boehner said, "The president had said before that he's not king and he's not an emperor," Boehner says. "But he's sure acting like one." 
Why would the Speaker invite such a man to address "the people's house"? All Obama would do would use the time to lecture members of a co-equal branch on what they must do and what he deems acceptable work product for them. Members of the United States Congress are under no obligation to sit mutely while the President brow beats them. 
Obama has said he doesn't feel compelled to listen to the voters who showed up to the polls a little over two weeks ago. The Representatives elected by those people should make it clear they are simply acting in kind, they will not listen to him.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tweet of the Day - Defund Universities

@Runsonmagic tweeted this today:

I couldn't agree more, but since it is hard to make a nuanced argument on twitter, I would add the following.  The specific manner in which I would defund universities is to end the taxpayer subsidies and forgiveness polices for student loans.  Veronque de Rugy explains the connection:
". . . by keeping student loan rates artificially low, the federal government is contributing to the rapid increase in college tuition. As it did in the housing market, free or reduced-priced money has artificially inflated the price of a college education."
This inflated pricing is what keeps professors of comparative dance employed, indoctrinating America's youth in actual and social Marxism.  Further, under Obama, forgiveness of loans, especially for "public service" has greatly expanded.  Essentially, the student loan program has become a direct funding line to the leftist professoriat.  End these programs and let banks make loans to students based on the earning potential of their degree; drive the mewling manlets and manjawed feminist fatties of the left back to the brackish backwater that is their birthright.

She wants to indoctrinate your kids and maybe flirt with your daughter.

Meanwhile, why stop with the uni's?  All of the institutions of the left need defunding; Scott Walker and Rick Snyder have led the way in Wisconsin and Michigan by making union dues for state government workers non-compulsory.  For this reason, Scott Walker has been subjected to vilest vitriol.  Next, we should go after so called environmental advocacy groups, who receive a surprising amount of funding from the federal government.

And let's be clear, this defunding is legitimate, because those our your tax dollars being spent subverting the moral and rational basis for the republic.

What You Should Be Reading

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seize the Initiative on Illegal Immigration

Republicans need to seize the initiative on illegal immigration and propose a plan before Obama takes executive action this December.  It won't stop the President from making yet another extra-consitutional move, but it would serve to highlight his unwillingness to to abide by the law and work with the Congress.  The GOP needs to deal with the issue because it will hurt them in the long run.  I am under no illusion that somehow dealing with the issue will make them suddenly popular with Hispanics.  I am also certain there are no votes to be gained if current illegals are granted citizenship.  However, the issue still hurts the party.
  • As more illegals continue to cross the border, they eventually spawn Democratic votes.  They either vote illegally, or eventually their children cast votes for Democrats.  This isn't to say that Republicans can't make inroads among descendants of illegal immigrants, its just not the way to bet.
  • The failure to solve the problem continues to eat away at the respect for the rule of law.  It sets an environment that makes it harder for Republicans to win elections.
  • Its bad for the country.  A country with a larger proportion in the middle class will vote more conservatively.
Unfortunately, the Republicans have no coherent policy to propose, because they did not campaign on this issue.  You could argue that that position served them well, but it makes it harder to govern.  What they shouldn't do is over react to the problem.  Massive deportation would be a horrible idea both in the short and long run.  Do we want the DHS to get in good practice with identifying and rounding up millions of undesirables?  Think of that power in another Democratic President's hands in the mold of Obama.  

Here is what should be proposed and why:
  • Secure the border with more technology, fences and the like.  But also make expedited deportation far easier.  You can have great border security, but once an alien born child sets foot on U.S. soil, he or she now has due process rights that adds time to the deportation process.  In the meantime, the illegal is released, often never to be seen again.
  • From a previous post: To keep the DHS accountable, if illegal crossings weren't reduced each year, the Congress should cut the budget for the immediate staff of the Secretary of DHS, and impose a hiring freeze on all portions of the DHS budget except border control.  Such ruthless tactics work; I know, because I work for the government.  But the Congress is never willing to hold agencies accountable. And frankly, part of the problem is that government is so huge.  Obviously its size needs to shrink.
  • From Newt Gingrich in 2012: "We must reconcile the goal of legality with the reality that there are millions of immigrants currently here outside the law, some with a long set of family and community ties, and some with no ties. A system has to be established that establishes legality but no citizenship for those with deep ties, repatriates those with no family or community ties in a dignified way, and quickly sends home those who have committed criminal and other destructive acts."  But the practical difficulties of such a program are immense.  I would prefer to the let those without criminal records come forward and legislation that aggressively deports those with felony convictions.
  • A guest worker program, but maybe later.  The supply side of this equation is changing rapidly.  New statistics will soon be released that show that Mexico is no longer accountable for most of the illegal immigration. Mexico's fertility rate has continued to fall to just barely above replacement at 2.2 births per woman.  Having skilled workers is good with good education is helpful to the economy.  The unskilled? Not so much.  

Mexican fertility rate from 1960 to 2012.

That downward trend has continued.  In some ways, I think that the problem of illegal immigration may solve itself, but not soon enough to prevent more damage from working into the body politic.  Republicans have an opportunity to upstage Obama on this issue.  As Krauthammer points out, his narcissism always gets the better of him, so why not use it to help the country and further disadvantage his party?

What You Should Be Reading
  • Left Coast Rebel has a nice score card of worthy candidates for whom he urged donations.  Well done.
  • KTCat excoriates DeMaio for his relentless negative campaign.  I still have a Carl DeMaio yard sign out front, but admit to feeling queasy about his attack ads that made Carl sound like a Democrat, complete with Mediscare tactics.  If DeMaio was a tea party favorite, why did he end up turning off so many of that persuasion?  KTCat wasn't the only one of my conservative or libertarian friends who abandoned DeMaio.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Democrats and School Choice

Democrats are reflexively against anything that gives parents more freedom to rescue their school children from the maw of the failed public education system.  RedState ponders how this may have influenced the elections in Georgia and Illinois this week.
My friend Roland Martin put one of these on my radar. In Illinois, prominent black ministers around the state cast their lot with the GOP. They encouraged congregants to abandon Governor Quinn in Illinois and support the Republican. That made a real difference in the metropolitan Chicago area, where the Republican this time outperformed prior Republicans.
Another one that is a real surprise to me is Georgia. But it is abundantly apparent from the turn out data and the anecdotal evidence. Black voters were turning out for Democrats in early voting. In fact, I’m told that privately the GOP saw Democrats outpacing them in early voting around the state. But on Election Day, black voters stayed home. 
One might wonder why Democrats are so adamantly opposed to school choice when it seems so popular with urban blacks, a big part of their base.  My answer: #unionism and #feminism.

At the end of the day, the teacher's unions donate far more money, "the mother's milk of politics" than the already locked up votes of blacks appear to be worth to Democrats.  The public school system is a way to recycle tax dollars into campaign cash.  Charters and their ilk are often non-union and upset this apple cart.

The more overlooked issue is feminism.  Charter schools are seen as a threat to the public school systems in the white suburbs.  In order to be free to "lean in" and "have it all" suburban moms and especially the core constituency of single moms need the free baby-sitting of the public schools.  Never mind that charters can also provide that function, the mere threat to the established order of government provisioning to their offspring is viewed as a threat by many such Moms. (Married women are far more likely to view the government as competitor for the family resources because married men are outperforming economically, so it makes sense for married women to reduce the competition for resources from the government.)  And don't forget that the public schools are a jobs program for women, much more so than men.  Not to say that there aren't great teachers, but reform of the schools is always attacked as a threat to the "middle class" as if the government creates the middle class.

Finally, the public schools serve as a great propaganda outlet for the left.  The left always is seeking to influence the culture, especially through the schools and universities.  Charter schools threaten the leftist union control of the message.  If you haven't noticed public schools getting more authoritarian with zero tolerance policies and the suppression of free speech, you're not paying attention.

So poor black moms hoping to "win the lottery" and get their kids out of poverty?  Sorry, we Democrats already haver your vote. Or do we?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Opportunity Lost

Watched Dennis Kucinich on Fox tonight, who is nothing else if not honest. He blamed the Democrats losses tonight on a failure to bring a coherent economic plan to the table.  More importantly, he said that both parties are the parties of Wall Street and the Banks.  I agree.  If you think that Republicans are going to end the cozy relationship between the Fed and the banks I urge you to heed W.C. Varones:
Nah, even if the Republicans take the Senate, I'm sure the Fed will find the new majority can be quite flexible...
The Republicans could have done something special to change the direction of the country, and win even more seats if they had coalesced nationally around a liberty agenda.  Instead, in two or four years, they will again suffer losses because they stand for nothing and will therefore accomplish nothing.

Sorry to be churlish, but the Schadenfreude of watching Obama and the Democrats get their inevitable comeuppance isn't enough to overcome the feeling that the GOP has no sense of direction to help the country.