Bloomberg–and his checkbook–may enter the Democratic race

Reports have been circulating that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, apparently concerned about the ability of any of the current Democratic challengers to unseat Donald Trump, may enter the race for the party’s nomination.

Bloomberg, who at various times has listed himself as a Republican, Democrat or independent, sees himself as an alternative to Joe Biden for moderates in the party who are seeking a candidate. He could become a serious player immediately by virtue of his vast wealth, something he’s been willing to spend to advance his political goals in the past.

Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York, where he got the reputation of being a fiscal conservative and social liberal. Among other things, he turned a budget deficit into a surplus, set up a new tech center, crusaded against guns and gun violence on the streets, and promoted public-private partnerships to tackle civic and education problems.

But he wasn’t all that popular politically, forced to spend large sums of money against lackluster opposition to win relatively modest victories in his three races. His lack of dominance at the polls can be traced in part to the fact he was a Republican running in a heavily Democratic city.

Bloomberg’s expansion of the stop-and-frisk program while he was mayor won’t go over well with the progressive element of the national Democratic Party, where some people are already painting him as just another rich white guy. If he gets the party’s nomination, it will only come after an expensive, divisive campaign.

One more thing: Despite the national platform the position gives the holder, no mayor of New York has ever been elected president.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Brian Dahle picks up a vote in the California Assembly

To the surprise of nobody, Megan Dahle won the special election to replace her husband, Brian Dahle, in California’s first Assembly district.

And has increasingly become the trend, Nevada County backed the Democrat over the Republican in this race.

The outcome was a forgone conclusion when Brian Dahle was elected to the state Senate and his wife immediately declared her candidacy for his Assembly seat. The heavily Republican district figured to keep the seat in the GOP column, and Brian Dahle’s name recognition, political organization, and fund raising apparatus were more than enough for his wife to beat back any Republican opponents.

She carried the district comfortably over Democratic challenger Elizabeth Betancourt, outpolling her 58 percent to 42 percent. The only county Dahle lost was Nevada County, which went 54 percent to 46 percent for Betancourt.

This continues a trend of recent years. While Brian Dahle carried the county in his run for state Senate, Rep. Doug LaMalfa lost Nevada County handily in 2016 and Rep. Tom McClintock was pounded in the Truckee area, the only part of the county in his district.

Brian Dahle, perhaps suspecting his wife’s weakness in the county, showed up here about a week before the election to commiserate with merchants who lost business during the PG&E blackouts, and urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to call a special session of the state Legislature to deal with the problem. He didn’t say what Newsom or the legislature should do–just that it meet.

Megan Dahle, whose public service experience consists of one term on a school board, backed her husband’s call for a special session and said she would support a special tax credit for businesses that lost revenue during the blackouts. She also promised to spend more time in Nevada County so people could get to know her better.

She said during the campaign she will probably vote the party line 90 percent of the time, which means she will be casting the same “no” votes in the Assembly her husband will be casting in the Senate. The electorate basically voted for more of the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LaMalfa’s all in for (farmworker) immigration reform

California’s Republican House delegation has been slow to join President Donald Trump on the ramparts when it comes to shutting U.S. borders and sharply restricting immigration.

Their reluctance to join the effort stems from the fact that most of them represent the agriculture areas of the state, which employ an estimated 500,000 workers who are in the country illegally. If immigration hardliners ever succeed in throwing those people out of the country, California’s ag industry will literally die on the vine.

So a bipartisan group of representatives got together recently to negotiate a bill that will give legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal farmworkers in exchange for stronger employee verification in the agricultural sector.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, chair of the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, led negotiations on the deal with Republicans Rep. Doug LaMalfa and Don Newhouse of Washington state.

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation,” Lofgren said in a statement. “But farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation. Our bill offers stability for American farmers.”

The bill offers a path to legal status–either five-year visas or citizenship–for longtime U.S. agriculture workers with clean records. It would also overhaul the farm visa system to make it easier for employers to file applications, would limit mandatory wage increases, and would provide year-round visas for industries like dairy farms that aren’t seasonal.

The bill also incorporates legislation by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, beefing up the system for verifying a worker’s immigration status in the U.S. and making it mandatory for the agricultural industry.

The House may take up the measure as early as the end of November, but nobody’s sure about its prospects in the Senate. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the White House has been briefed on the bill, but it is not known if the measure has Trump’s backing.

LaMalfa emphasized the bill’s narrow scope, noting that it applies only to the agriculture sector, and said he believes it would be a win for Trump. He said he hopes it can be kept “in its own protective little bubble,” away from the fight over broader immigration policy.

“Agriculture’s been in desperate need of a stable, solid labor pool for a long time,” LaMalfa said. “A formal system of documentation will be better for the workers, it’ll be better for the farmers, it will be better for the nation’s security.”

If the bill reaches the Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein has said she will support it. But the bill will never come to a vote if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t get an indication from the White House that Trump will sign it.

You can bet immigration hardliners will oppose the measure, and Trump has made it clear in recently months that he is going to punish California. But LaMalfa has been one of Trump’s more reliable foot soldiers in the House. We’ll see if that does any good.

Posted in Economy, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Republican Party, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

These are my people…or maybe not

I ran an item in my most recent column in The Union (reproduced below) in which I noted a study by the Brookings Institute that tried to explain the great political divide in this country.

Brookings developed a profile of every Congressional district in the country, and concluded that districts represented by Republicans showed less vigorous economic activity, economies dominated by agricultural, mining and other labor-intensive jobs, and a population that was poorer and less well educated than people found in districts represented by Democrats.

Local conservatives didn’t like what they read. Local blogger George Rebane, who likes to believe he occupies a lofty perch when it comes to political commentary, labled his rebuttal to the item “‘Democrats good, Republicans bad’–Propaganda Central.”

That’s a misrepresentation of what I wrote–I made no value judgements, I just noted Brookings’ take on the political divide. Rebane apparently doesn’t like being lumped in with poorly educated, working- and middle-class families that toil in 19th century industries.

Rebane’s Ruminations regular Scott Obermuller, who decamped from California to more remote Idaho, chimed in with a lengthy screed proclaiming districts represented  by Democrats harbor loafers, the homeless, and welfare bums, and that many smart, hard-working Republicans reside in these districts. Nothing I wrote below suggests otherwise.

Todd Juvinall, who has never let his own ignorance deter him from expressing a firm opinion, complained that Brookings is not to be trusted, and pleaded with Rebane to provide links to studies done by the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute to refute those evil liberals.

Read what I wrote and decide for yourself:

One of the reasons we have such a sharp political divide in this country is that Democrats and Republicans have less in common than they ever did. When that’s the case, they don’t see problems the same way, assuming each recognizes a problem exists. Some statistics compiled recently by the Brookings Institute illustrate just how sharp the divide is. For example:

–Democrats dominate the most productive parts of the economy. House districts represented by Democrats generate over 63% of the nation’s gross domestic product, with Republican districts making up the rest.

–Household income shows a similar divide. A decade ago, median household income was about the same in each party. Since then, it has jumped nearly 17% in Democratic districts while declining 3% in Republican strongholds.

–Political partisans aren’t likely to run into each other at work either. Democrats represent districts with the biggest clusters of professional jobs, including tech hubs around Silicon Valley and Boston. Nearly three-quarters of jobs in digital or professional industries are in Democratic districts.

By contrast, Republican districts hold a growing share of the nation’s agriculture, mining and low-skill manufacturing jobs, many of which do not require a college degree, have lower pay and are more exposed to overseas competition. (No wonder Trump is fighting a trade war.)

–The two parties represent different kinds of places in the U.S., another reason they’re not likely to intermingle. Once, the parties were geographically intertwined, but the Tea Party revolution in 2010 wiped out Democrats in rural and working class districts in the Southeast and Midwest while the 2018 mid-terms ousted Republicans from many suburbs.

–Finally, people with college degrees are more concentrated in Democratic districts than in Republican districts. Democrats represent all 17 Congressional districts with the highest concentration of college graduates.

Just call us the Divided States of America.

Posted in George Rebane, Media, Politics, Republican Party, Todd Juvinall, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tell us what you really think, Tulsi

Quote of the week:

“You, the queen of warmongers, the embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from the behind the curtain.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, after Hillary Clinton suggested on a podcast that the Russians are grooming a female Democratic Party candidate for a third party run for president. It is widely believed that Clinton was referring to Gabbard.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

McClintock taking no chances in reelection bid

House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise voted for it. Hell, even Devin Nunes and Doug LaMalfa voted for a resolution rebuking President Donald Trump for withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to attack our Kurdish allies.

Tom McClintock

Just 60 Republicans–including California’s Duncan Hunter and Tom McClintock–stood with the president and voted against the resolution.

Hunter’s more likely to be in prison than in Congress come January 2021, but McClintock is seeking his seventh term representing probably California’s most conservative congressional district, and he can’t afford to take chances in these perilous times.

Check out his latest fundraising plea:

“The fundraising figures from this quarter will very likely determine whether this district is again targeted by Democrats,” McClintock wrote in a Sept. 26 email to supporters, pointing out that two Democrats seeking to oust him outraised the incumbent nearly three-to-one during the summer. “I cannot afford to be outraised by this kind of margin two quarters in a row.”

Every plea ever made for political funding has been couched in apocalyptic terms, but there’s a good reason fundraisers paint such dark pictures: They work. Certainly it did this time as McClintock more than double his cash haul from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2019, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

McClintock raised $333,000 during the third quarter, bringing his total haul for the 2020 campaign to $729,000. He had over $500,000 in the bank on Sept. 30, moving him ahead of his leading rival, Democrat Brynne Kennedy.

Given the conservatism of his district, it really isn’t necessary for McClintock to outspend his opponent. In the 2018 race, Democrat Jessica Morse outspent him two-to-one and still lost by 8 percentage points, a comfortable margin of victory even if it was the closest one for McClintock this decade.

Kennedy, who bills herself as a former San Francisco-based technology entrepreneur, has raised over $550,000 and had $330,000 on hand at the end of September. But Kennedy will have one advantage Morse lacked: No significant opposition in the primary. Morse had to spend a lot of money to secure a run-off spot against McClintock, but Kennedy has a clear path to November 2020 since her only significant primary opponent, Sean Frame, dropped out of the race last month.

Money plays a big part in the shape of a campaign. Incumbents who have a lot of money in the bank can scare away formidable opponents, and the Democratic Party won’t invest a lot of money in the race if the party’s hopeful–in this case, Kennedy–can’t raise a lot on her own.

Kennedy’s campaign pointed out that she has now raised more than any previous McClintock challenger at this point in the campaign. “Over half of her contributions are here in the fourth district, ” spokesman Todd Stenhouse told the Sacramento Bee. This past quarter, Kennedy saw not only a “huge influx of support inside the district but a 25 percent increase in the number of contributions,” he added.

Still, in a district where Trump got 54 percent of the vote in 2016 but lost the state by over 3 million votes, you have to like McClintock’s chances of getting reelected, regardless of how much money he has to spend.

Posted in California Republican Party, Politics, Rep. Tom McClintock, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where have I been the last 5 months? An explanation

It has been almost 5 months since I posted anything on this blog, and some of you may actually wonder why.

Part of it has been a long list of family obligations that have kept me occupied outside western Nevada County, but I still managed to write my weekly column for The Union. So what was the real reason?

The real reason is that I couldn’t figure out a reason for writing the old blog. Instead of providing a focus and a reason for net surfers to take a look on a regular basis, I took a shotgun approach, writing about anything that interested me. So when I thought about the blog the last 5 months, I kept asking myself the question: What one subject should I write about?

The answer is politics. Aside from the fact that’s it is an interesting take on the human condition and provides numerous examples of the low humor that amuses me, it is clear to anybody who follows local media that there is a high level of interest in the subject in Nevada County.

The level of interest will ratchet up even more as we get nearer to the 2020 general election, one of the most consequential in this country’s history. Because it lacks the manpower, The Union can’t give the subject the kind of coverage that is clearly justified. I’ll try to fill some of that void by focusing on local and state politics, but I’ll occasionally comment on the national scene.

Regular readers of my column in The Union know where my sympathies are, but that won’t stop me from writing about the buffoonery that afflicts both parties. I will have more time to delve into the subject because I won’t be writing 50 columns for The Union next year.

A new state law requires businesses like The Union to offer people like me full-time employment if they publish more than 35 of my submissions in a year. Since that’s not going to happen (and I wouldn’t want it to happen), I’ll be writing less for the paper next year, and maybe not at all.

It may take me awhile to find my stride (as they say in the writing game), but I hope to turn the blog into something that’s worth checking out a couple of times a week. I invite you to come along for the ride.

–George Boardman

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment