Federalism

It Might Be the 'Heart of the Resistance,' but California Is Not Its Own Nation-state

But that might be news to some Californians, and even more of the state's elected and appointed officials.

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My local publicly run electric utility district is represented by an elected board of directors, none of whose names I know or care to know. The lights always go on and the monthly bill never is awful. Is the district run as efficiently as possible? That's doubtful, but who cares? Economists call this "rational ignorance." It's simply not worth the time and effort to learn much more about it given the limited payback such knowledge would yield.

That's my view toward the waste-disposal district, road district and levee board. It's also a model for what the state and feds should strive for. The founders envisioned a national government where it wouldn't matter if you didn't know the name of the president because the position's power was so limited that even a buffoon could handle it.

That train left the station more than 150 years ago. Now, every American not only knows the name of the president, but every half-baked and misspelled thought that pops into his head as he broadcasts it on Twitter. His enemies fume, and everyone argues endlessly about the latest nonsense. Other politicians grab the limelight to oppose the policies of the president. It's a never-ending cycle, especially for those of us living in California, the heart of the Resistance.

"Gov. Gavin Newsom has crystallized his vision of what California will look like in the Trump era: It won't just be the hub of the resistance against the president; it will be its own nation-state," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli in February. This is the worst of all worlds. We not only have to put up with a publicity-seeking narcissist in the White House, we have to put up with one in the state Capitol, too. It was bad enough living in only one nation-state.

Two months later, we see that Garofoli was correct. Our new California government even has its own foreign policy now. Newsom just went to El Salvador to learn about the reasons so many Salvadorans make the dangerous trek to the California border. Columnist George Skelton offered an appropriately snarky answer: "Escaping poverty and bullies…have been root motivators forever." Newsom could maybe, he suggested, "read a book or do a little Googling." Or he could talk to some of the many Salvadorans living in California.

But these days, everything is about publicity, which confirms the old saw that politics is show business for ugly people. That quip applies better to the dowdy Trump than the dapper Newsom, but the point is accurate. And I write as someone who isn't totally opposed to either politician. Trump strikes me as morally reprehensible, but his judicial selections and de-regulatory policies are praiseworthy. Newsom is smart and likeable—and I agree with a few of his policies. But can't both men spend more time governing and less time posturing?

It keeps getting worse. Last week, California joined five other states and the District of Columbia in suing the Trump administration over its softening of federal nutritional standards to allow schools to provide fewer whole grains and more salt in their cafeteria meals. Real. Slowly. Now. School-lunch contents are the business of local school boards and principals, not presidents, governors, and attorneys general. This is not a state or federal issue.

That's at least the 47th lawsuit that the state of California has filed or joined against the Trump administration on issues ranging from ObamaCare to vehicle-mileage standards to the border "emergency." Some are legit, and others aren't, but it's hard to believe these are being filed mainly for constitutional reasons rather than to elevate California politicians to leading national political roles.

"I don't want to be a sparring partner with President Trump," Newsom said in February. "(B)ut he makes it all but impossible when he plays these games." I agree with Newsom on that border issue, but he should stick to the many state issues that require attention.

And I mean our state. Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently announced a California state-funded travel ban to South Carolina because of its new rule allowing publicly funded faith-based foster agencies to base decisions on religious belief. Whether one views the rule as discriminatory to gay parents or supportive of religious liberty, it's none of California's business. Nation-states have their own "foreign" policy, but they should never be too interventionist.

With the world's fifth-largest economy, California can seem like its own country. But its leaders should spend more time dealing with our own pension debts, crumbling roads, poor-performing schools, sky-high poverty rates, housing shortages and homeless crises, and less time with foreign visits and federal lawsuits. The president should pipe down, too, and deal with the nation's sprawling debt and spending problems. Maybe both men can learn from my local utilities district by just doing their jobs and leaving us alone.

This column was first published by the Orange County Register.

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  1. Lefties love them some Commifornia.

    Nothing like a Lefty writing a puff piece about one of the most un-Libertarian states in the Union.

    1. Nothing like a Lefty writing a puff piece about one of the most un-Libertarian states in the Union.

      Where did that happen?

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  3. If California decides to secede from the Union, can we call them traitors, even unto the 7th generation, like Liberals do to the descendants of citizens of the late Confederacy?

    1. Only if we win.

      And who the hell wants to force them to stay?

      It will be a lot of fun if/when they secede. Take for example the amount of their vaunted economy that is actually federal payroll. Take away all the federal employees, the 9th district court, the federal parks and military bases, and see if they could even feed themselves. Think if all the immediately unemployed who will lose their security clearances because they are no longer US citizens.
      Factor in the immediate internal civil war in the new nation as the screaming socialists on the coast and Sacramento find out just how many people inland actually have firearms. Then the feds make treaties with the central factions, and put embargos on the coast, and we can sit back and watch the fun.
      At least when it is over, there will be lots of scorched land in San Francisco to rebuild on without all the stupid reviews and NIMBY vetos.

      1. They’ll feed themselves. Commifornia would be a powerful country, but one doomed to failure. Within one generation the people would be abandoning it due to high taxes, oppressive government, and a flood of immigrants. I’d rather see us flip them back to sanity. (I’d also rather see a unicorn)

        1. How will they feed themselves once Nevada stops shipping the Colorado River to them?

          1. Northern Cali will be fine and we will join the state of Jefferson

            1. Northern California will never secede until they can come up with a better name the “Jefferson” for the new state.

          2. California is an Ag state. Probably the biggest in the nation turdbucket. We’ll get our water from the Sierras and Lake Tahoe. It isn’t like Nevada won’t throw in with us anyway.

      2. And who the hell wants to force them to stay?

        Everyone who doesn’t want a Chinese naval base in San Francisco.

        1. Look, I’d be more worried about Californians invading other states and voting stupid (they already do!). The Chinese don’t have the money, capability, or real desire to go “Red Dawn” on the US (why would you invade the most armed country in the world?).

          Californians, on the other hand, invade all the time. 1 million stupid voters (and their descendants) can do more damage than a nuke can.

          1. it is known

            Ask portland, austin, nashville, and boise

            1. You forgot Denver and Atlanta.

              1. And let us not forget Boulder [shudder]

                1. Albuquerque as well. New Mexico has been invaded by those fleeing California. What amazes me is they leave the state because the state government is out of control and then immediately support the same nonsense wherever they move. Living in Texas I have seen this insanity play out in Austin / San Antonio which I refer to as the Communist corridor.

                  1. Too often true. But not always. At least here in Oregon I will have the opportunity to actually vote for someone besides two Dem candidates for the Senate and two idiots for governor. Not that I can stem the tide of proggies taking over Portland, but at least I will have a voice.

                    1. A voice with a ball-gag is not much of a voice in fighting the tide. Oh, the power of optimism.

                    2. Better than NOT having a voice, as in CA.

                      Optimist? Not really.

                      Skeptic? Most definitely. Besides, being skeptic means I am seldom disappointed, which is good for my mental health 🙂

          2. Look, I’d be more worried about Californians invading other states and voting stupid (they already do!).

            Actually us Native Californians are all decent, upstanding people. The problem is all the proggies from the midwest relocated out here and brought their stupid proggy ways with them. The chickens are just coming home to roost in the lower 49 from whence they came, boys.

          3. KOMO-TV recently did an hour long documentary (available on Youtube) called Seattle is Dying. Many of the homeless drug addicts in the story moved there from California. Seattle is catching up to San Francisco.

      3. How could you take them away? Anyway, that’s kinda what Lincoln tried to do with Ft. Sumpter and it started a big old war.

    2. Frankly, I’d prefer to wave good-bye and forget them.

      1. **in today’s news**

        “group of libertarians arrested for lighting off old stockpiles of m-80s from the 4th of July along the San Andreas Fault”

        1. “Live and Let Die”…. a good name for a movie, and perhaps a reasonable political response to Californian insanity.

          After that, we take my father’s suggestion of cutting Manhattan loose from the bedrock, towing it out to sea, and sinking it.

          Then we sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet.

      2. Sure. Just bring home your derelict cousins and their proggy ideas they brought with them before you do.

        California Uber Alles.

  4. The founders envisioned a national government where it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t know the name of the president because the position’s power was so limited that even a buffoon could handle it.

    Mission accomplished. … At least the last part, given the last 4 POTUSs.

    1. You’re off by an order of magnitude ? 40, not 4.

      1. I won’t have that. Calvin Coolidge was no buffoon.

  5. “Gov. Gavin Newsom has crystallized his vision of what California will look like in the Trump era: It won’t just be the hub of the resistance against the president; it will be its own nation-state,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli in February.

    That’s a treasonous position, overthrowing the Fed gov in CA. Will they be tearing down statues of Newsom in a few years?

  6. So does this mean that decisions by the Ninth Circuit don’t apply to the rest of us?

    1. More likely it will mean SCOTUS precedents no longer apply to the 9th Circuit

    2. It means the ninth circuit will no longer include California, and the Judges will be evacuated to Butte Montana. It would be a good time to break it up anyway and spread the love around a bit.

  7. “… Commifornia would be a powerful country, but one doomed to failure. Within one generation the people would be abandoning it due to high taxes, oppressive government..”

    Quite a few people are already leaving CA for these reasons. I recently relocated to Oregon. We had an advantage, both being retired. And, after losing everything, including some friends and neighbors, in the most costly natural disaster in the world in 2018, thanks to PGE and the Public Utilities Commission (those two entities are #1 and #2 to blame), it seemed to be the right time. Like most retirees, we aren’t rolling in money, and the several thousand dollars per year we will save on gas, sales tax, and a whole lot of other lowered costs, made it the practical thing to do. At least I am not looking at the State taking over the health system and other “little” things. Well, at least not for a few more years 🙂

  8. “Escaping poverty and bullies” more like cheating your way to opulence and power.

  9. FUCK YOU CALIFORNIA ! Your political leadership has brought nothing but disgrace and shame to your state and the rest of the union. I am for anything that neutralizes the political power and influence of this obnoxious, authoritarian nanny state. Ronald Reagan and my grandfather ( who lived in Oakland until he died in 1991) would VOMIT if they could see what California has become today.

    1. Fuck You Asshole. Take back your fucking prog family members that came out here and ruined this state (by which I mean your ugly cousins came out here and brought the average hotness of our chicks down to 8.33)

      Take back everyone who was born in the lower 49 and let California be.

  10. But its leaders should spend more time dealing with our own pension debts, crumbling roads, poor-performing schools, sky-high poverty rates, housing shortages and homeless crises

    Easy to say but until CA decides that the republican (small-r) form of government works, then nothing they do will ever work. Just as one example. CA froze the size of their assembly at 80 – in their 1880 Constitution – when the population of the state was 860,000 and CA was a very middling state (fewer peeps than Louisiana but more than Arkansas). Now the population is close to 40 million (with fewer reps now than either LA or AR or hell NH or ND). On what planet can anyone possibly think that that size assembly can represent their peeps, bring those issues forward, and figure out different ways of dealing with those state level issues? They can’t – and their incompetence at that is why CA chose to double down on the stupidity via term limits as well. Since the assembly can’t represent – and now is trying to figure out where the bathrooms are, they end up ‘addressing problems’ via referenda/initiatives/propositions which only rarely produces any sort of real road map beyond feel-good superficial emotional direction (see Brexit) that ends up very cronyist as well.

    Clusterfuck doesn’t begin to describe that state.

    1. No but tainted by midwest proggies sure as fuck does.

  11. “Sky-high poverty rate” is being kind. CA has the highest Supplemental Poverty Rate of all States, at 23.8%. The national average is 16%. (wiki)

  12. Newsom or some other leftist governor will be the first people in US history to be tried for violating the Logan Act. It is inevitable, some one on the left will attempt to negotiate some treaty with a foreign government contrary to US Federal policy. The arrogance of the left is approaching terminal velocity. Many of them see themselves as above the law and without any limitations because they are “doing what is just and right”. Newsom just stopped all executions even though in 2016, voters approved a referendum stating they wanted the current death sentences carried out. Their new governor has declared himself the sole person responsible for deciding the nature and scope of criminal justice in California. The fact an elected official would so openly ignore the will of the people in his state is amazing and very sad.

    1. The fact an elected official would so openly ignore the will of the people in his state is amazing and very sad.
      The FYTW principle. It’s hard to blame Newsom in one respect; he knows full well nothing will happen.

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  14. Promises, Promises… What happened to Calexit? I’m waiting….
    And what happened to all these Hollyweird types that were supposed to leave the country if Trump got elected?
    Either put up, or shut up.

    1. Evicting all non-natives would actually resolve 99% of our problems.

    2. Canada refused to take them. Canada has very strict immigration laws.

  15. Newsome will be running for president in 2024.

  16. “With the world’s fifth-largest economy, California can seem like its own country. But its leaders should spend more time dealing with our own pension debts, crumbling roads, poor-performing schools, sky-high poverty rates, housing shortages and homeless crises, and less time with foreign visits and federal lawsuits. ”

    Therein lies the rub, they can’t deal with the things that matter because it would go against the virtue signaling of the moment or put liberal politicians up against their sugar daddy unions and if neither of these topics do the trick, the environmental movement will come down on the politicians for improving or adding roads.

    Politicians are not only corrupt, they are emasculated by the voters and money sources that put them in power.

    1. Along with being corrupt, they’re lazy. The things cited that lawmakers should address require actual work; they can’t be hand-waved in pithy tweets or discounted in sound bites.

      The thing about elected office is that it really is a job that involves work. Few of these people have the interest, let alone the skill, to dig down into the weeds for formulating policy based on evidence, logic, and reality. They mostly serve the interests who put them there.

  17. Let them secede. Please, Lord, let them secede.

    1. Not until we eject all non native Californians.

      And even then Texas will still be Alaska’s bitch when it comes to biggest state.

  18. A republican in Congress should introduce a bill allowing California to sucede and get the process started

  19. At this point secession is the only thing that can save America as the country it was founded to be. Otherwise we’re doomed to turn into a socialist hell hole because of demographic and cultural trends.

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