Forget the brackets, bet these first round games instead

I used St. Patty’s Day to make a day trip to Reno to see if I can make a little green betting the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a trip I’ve made for several years with two boyhood friends.

We would normally show-up the day before play started, staying at the Peppermill or Atlantis for the first round of action. Of course, the pandemic has changed all of that.

The tournament was canceled last year along with everything else that was shut-down in March, and neither of the boys was interested spending a couple of nights in Reno this year, so I went by myself.

Even though I’ve had both of the Pfizer shots and I’m supposedly protected, I proceeded with caution. I plotted all of my potential bets ahead of time and took the safest routes to the sports books in the CalNeva, Peppermill and Atlantis. I spent just enough time in each to compare their point spreads and put my money down.

As I wrote two years ago, the best betting opportunities are in the first round of play, when the betting lines aren’t as tight as they become deeper into the tournament. I’m more interested in winning than getting action, and you might as well throw darts if you’re going to try to pick all of the winners. Better yet, invest your money in the stock of Penn National or one of the other companies that figure to do well as sports betting becomes legal in the states.

My approach has generated a 65% win rate, better than I do in the regular season. There are no guarantees, but here are the games I’m betting in the first round. (I also bet three NBA games when I was in Reno Wednesday and won all of them, so I have a cushion before the college boys start playing.) I’ll discuss the results when the smoke clears.

Friday, March 19

–Wisconsin (+1.5) over North Carolina

–Winthrop (+6.5) over Villanova

–Utah State (+5) over Texas Tech

–Florida (+1) over Virginia Tech

–Georgia Tech (+6) over Loyola Chicago

–Oregon State (+8.5) over Tennessee

–Syracuse (+3) over San Diego State

–Rutgers (-1.5) over Clemson

–Cleveland State (+20.5) over Houston

Saturday, March 20

–Missouri (+1) over Oklahoma

–UC Santa Barbara (+7) over Creighton

–Oregon (-5) over Virginia Commonwealth

–St. Bonaventure (+2) over LSU

–Georgetown (+6.5) over Colorado

–Connecticut (-2) over Maryland

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Time for Newsom to rejoin the private sector

Backers of the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newson have until today to file the signatures necessary to force a special election later this year. While it will be a while before we know for sure, it is time for Newsom to go.

People signing the recall petition profess to object to Newsom’s tolerance of illegal immigrants, sidelining the death penalty, efforts to repeal Proposition 13, increased taxes, and restriction of parental rights.

None of these are burning issues outside the state’s conservative strongholds, but opponents of the governor have been aided by Newsom’s clueless handling of the pandemic, the state’s inability to actually distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, and his too-late effort to reopen our schools. Then there’s his recent fine dining experience.

All of these are legitimate concerns, but I’m inclined to return the governor to the private sector because he has failed to carry out the most fundamental responsibilities of his job: Address the major issues facing the state while delivering basic services to California’s residents. It’s my view that Newsom is an example of Laurence J. Peter’s observation that people are promoted to their level of incompetence.

I didn’t come to this position easily. I’m in synch with Newsom on many of his social positions, but having a “D” after your name doesn’t get my unconditional support. That’s not enough when you are governor of the most populous state in the nation and the world’s fifth largest economy.

Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of running a state as complex as most countries, Newsom prefers the big picture, big issues approach. That’s fine if you’re a senator, congressman or state legislator, where you don’t have these responsibilities. But you betray the people who elected you when getting a new driver’s license or collecting unemployment insurance becomes a graduate course in bureaucratic incompetence.

Newsom inherited many of the problems he has to deal with, but he has done little to make them better. Despite a budget that dwarfs the spending of many countries, California is 21st in the nation when it comes to spending per public school student, and 37th in K-12 education outcomes.

California is the most expensive place in the U.S., primarily because of housing. The state has four of the nation’s five most expensive housing markets, and is tied with Oregon for third place when it comes to the per capita homeless rate. Newsom said in 2018 he would attack both issues by building 3.5 million housing units by 2023. The state has built fewer than 100,000 homes each year since then.

Newsom inherited the Real ID driver’s license debacle from the Brown administration, and promised new leadership and major changes in how the department people love to hate does business. The state got a reprieve when the federal government pushed back the deadline for Real ID, but you would be wrong if you think things are much better three years into the Newsom administration.

The registration for one of our cars expired Dec. 3. When DMV wouldn’t let me renew online, I mailed the paperwork and our check on Oct. 31. DMV cashed the check Nov. 9. The new registration arrived Feb. 1, three months after I mailed the paperwork and two months after the registration expired. This happened during a time when DMV didn’t have all of those annoying people in its offices to slow it down.

That may be a minor annoyance compared to what the future may hold. It turns out hackers penetrated the computers of Automatic Funds Transfer Systems, a Seattle firm that handles DMV’s billing and statement processing. The hack may have exposed 38 million DMV records containing names, addresses, license plate numbers, and vehicle identification numbers. Don’t be surprised if you start getting strange letters about vehicles you own.

But when it comes to Newsom administration ineptitude, nothing tops the current meltdown occurring at the state Employment Development Department. At a time when unemployment rivals the Great Depression, millions of Californians are experiencing major delays in receiving benefits, others may have to pay back benefits they may not be entitled to, and then there’s outright fraud.

State Labor Secretary Julie Su reports that at least 10% of $114 billion in benefits paid out has been confirmed stolen by scammers, and another 17%–more than $19 billion—has been flagged as suspicious. That just means more pain for innocent victims.

EDD froze 1.4 million unemployment accounts in late December to guard against fraud, a move that has put many legitimate claimants in no-man’s land with no money coming in. This was after no suspicions were raised when hundreds of claims went to the same address, or when Dianne Feinstein supposedly filed for unemployment.

EDD’s failure to install guardrails needed to minimize fraud goes back to the meltdown following the real estate bust in 2008, shortcomings that were detailed in a damning audit. The lieutenant governor when that audit was done was Gavin Newsom.

He has developed the unique ability to choose the path that leads to a cliff instead of the open road. After botching distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, Newsom gave the job to Blue Shield. Now, several counties don’t want to deal with Blue Shield. Less than 24 hours after announcing his plan to direct 40% of the vaccine to the poorest ZIP codes, he changed it after the Bay Area cried foul. It never seems to end.

Newsom is pushing to make all new cars electric by 2035 in a state that can’t generate all of the electricity it needs now. He talks about building the future but has done little to reduce the state’s $70 billion in deferred maintenance. Then there’s the state’s $1.1 trillion unfunded pension liability, which will slowly strangle services while increasing taxes.

Not all of this is Newsom’s fault, but the buck stops at the governor’s office. Newsom’s supporters will make the argument that the recall is pure politics—Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks called it the “California coup”—and will no doubt drag Donald Trump into this.

Recall proponents face significant obstacles in recalling Newsom: They have no charismatic candidate like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Democrats are more firmly entrenched in the state than when Gray Davis was recalled in 2003. Newsom’s foes should pray that a strong Bernie Sanders-type progressive ignores the senator’s endorsement and enters the recall free-for-all, splitting the liberal vote and paving the way to a conservative victory.

But whether Newsom faces the voters this year or in November 2022, it is time for him to go. The governor has proved that he is ill-suited to do the job he holds. Like every other incompetent CEO, he should be given the opportunity to spend more time with his family.   

Observations from the center stripe: Erudite edition

MARK JONES, the new TV play-by-play announcer for the Sacramento Kings, may be too erudite for the average basketball fan. It’s not often you hear an announcer evoke Paul’s road to Damascus when discussing a team’s chances of reversing a large, late deficit…I’M THE owner of a 2021 Republican National Committee calendar, a gift that was bought for 69 cents at Goodwill. It includes pictures of the former first couple with their backs to the camera, as if they were departing…MITCH McCONNELL, aka, “The Grim Reaper,” wasn’t the male model for artist Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic,” but he could have been…THERE MAY be more frivolous ways to spend money than on a gender reveal party, but none of them come to mind…MANUFACTURERS of condoms expect sales to rise when bars, night clubs and other entertainment venues reopen…

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Supervisors confront state restrictions, or maybe not

As Nevada County struggles to move out of the purple tier of COVID-19 risk, county and city officials have taken a pass when it comes to cracking down on businesses that are prohibited by the state from operating indoors.

Do you think there might be a connection? In the words of the folksy philosopher Homer Simpson, “Doh!”

The most recent tally for the week ended Feb. 20 showed the county’s rate of positive infections spiked to 5.5% after a decline to 3.5%. The county’s case rate was unchanged at 11.3 new cases per day, well within the purple tier.

The situation may actually be worse because we are doing less testing than the state average, dropping to about 286 per week from 350 per week in January. The state median is 346 per week per 100,000 residents.

The only way Nevada County is going to move into the lower tiers before everybody is vaccinated (something that won’t happen in a county with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state) is by limiting social contacts outside the house. But it is clear to anybody with their eyes open that restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues are operating in open defiance of the regulations.

The business owners and their supporters are openly defying officials to do something about it. Ken Paige, co-owner of Friar Tucks and a spokesman for the Nevada County Restaurant Coalition, recently told supervisors he would continue to operate regardless of restrictions.

“You can point to me as probably the instigator of all the issues you’re facing, and I had no idea all of this would happen,” Paige said. “But we’ve rallied. We have 300 to 400 people now, we have a war room of people.”

Paige added he is urging other business owners to reopen despite the COVID-19 mandates. “It’s going to take a bulldozer to take us down and we are going to continue to do what’s necessary, safely, responsibly,” he said. “We’re going to reopen all of our businesses, all of our cities, we’re not going to close.”

“I’m not going to cooperation with my own destruction,” Sergio Martignago of Sergio’s Caffe told the supervisors. Sergio’s, Friar Tucks, and Old Towne Café were actually fined and cited by county officials for refusing to ignore the mandates, but little came of it.

They are all back in business now. In the words of Amy Irani, county environmental health director: “Failure to comply unfortunately results in enforcement action, which is the last thing we want to do.” So they don’t.

But then Irani’s bosses, the supervisors, have shown little interest in actually cracking down on violators. An urgency measure went nowhere last year, and after listening to the complaints last month, board chair Dan Miller decided it was time for the board to discuss the state restrictions.

“For the most part, they had genuine concerns we need to address,” Miller said. (He might also be concerned about a new report from the Centers for Disease Control that concludes that when you allow on-premise dining with no masks, COVID cases increase six weeks later and deaths go up two months later.)

The supes will take up a resolution Tuesday from Miller and Supervisor Sue Hoek that…well, it’s not too clear. The agenda says the resolution is ‘supporting reopening Nevada County safely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with Nevada County health authorities.”

But the therefore part of the resolution merely states that “these facts demonstrate a need for collective and unified action from our county and surrounding communities.”

Grass Valley council member Hilary Hodge views this as a Trojan Horse, pointing to the last paragraph of the staff letter that states, “…we urge the board to adopt the resolution that outlines the importance of supporting local efforts to reopen Nevada County businesses safely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in cooperation with Nevada County Public Health authorities.”

“This, at a time, when COVID cases are increasing in our county,” she wrote. “This is a dangerous move and will further put our community at risk.” Hodge urged opponents to get involved in Tuesday’s meeting.

The part of the resolution pledging safe reopening of local businesses “in cooperation with Nevada County Public Health authorities” sets up an interesting dynamic. When Miller first broached the idea of opening restaurants several weeks ago, he got a quick objection from Dr. Scott Kellerman, the county public health officer.

“We’re still firmly in the purple tier; when we get to the red tier that will open up a lot more options for these restaurants indoors,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the numbers trickling down. If we do that, this county will reopen.

“If we take our eye off it we’re going to get in trouble,” he added. “We’re behind where we need to be, so I understand the frustration, but we’re doing better than previously when we were at 50 cases per day.”

This is one of the few instances I can recall where a county employee challenged a supervisor in public, but then this is Kellerman’s first civil service job. I suspect he heard from his boss and possibly Miller through the county executive’s office about his comments, which may explain the Miller-Kellerman love fest published in Saturday’s edition of The Union.

The “dialogue” had them falling all over each other with praise and kind words for the work they do—the Nevada County way, as some like to describe it. It comes across as an effort by Kellerman to make amends for what he said earlier. We’ll see if he has anything to say after Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.

Meanwhile, businesses that are trying to play by the rules—businesses like the Move! Fitness Studio in Nevada City—are beginning to look like suckers. They are trying to get by for now by holding morning walking sessions and keeping in contact with their clients over the phone, but that doesn’t come close to covering the rent.

“It’s frustrating and it’s confusing when we are very aware that we are one of the few gyms that are actually closed,” co-owner Wendy Riley told The Union recently.

“We don’t want to be the gym cops,” said co-owner Marilyn Rohrbacher. “We just hope and pray that everybody does the right thing but from what we understand that’s not happening, so it is just leaves us very frustrated.”

Since their elected leaders are showing no stomach or backbone for enforcing the state mandates, Riley and Rohrbacher might as well join the other scofflaws. 

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Have your COVID-19 shots? It’s too early to celebrate yet

(Note: Because nobody was paying attention, the following column never made it into the Tuesday edition of The Union. If you don’t subscribe to the paper, consider this a freebie.)

I will be fully protected against COVID-19 Saturday, and my wife will join that club two weeks later, but we’re not exactly celebrating the achievement.

I received my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine January 30 because I’m over 75 (my wife isn’t) and I had the right connections. The process went much more smoothly than I expected.

An email Jan. 28 alerted me that shots were available, and I quickly made an appointment online. I walked through the door at my scheduled time and the process moved quickly through the four stations: Registration, shot/vaccination card, appointment for the second shot, and observation. I had no reaction to either shot, and didn’t observe anybody having difficulty during my time in the observation area.

None of this took place in Nevada County. After living in Lake of the Pines for 20 years, my wife and I have developed a network of doctors associated with Sutter Health. That’s where we got our shots. We had to drive to Roseville, but the restrictive world we live in gives us plenty of time to kill.

We hardly know what to do with ourselves when my wife becomes fully protected March 20. Entertainment venues remain closed, and I’m not interested in freezing to death while dining outside. I’m not inclined to eat indoors at establishments that just ignore the rules—if they’re cavalier about that, do they also take a pass on sanitation?

I’m not sure where we could travel safely unless we take an RV or camp. We’ll probably avoid any trips to Shasta County and other strongholds of the State of Jefferson movement. One of SOJ’s loudest web sites is questioning the value of the COVID-19 vaccine because it’s not a magic bullet for all of our COVID-related social issues. Maybe they should look at the experience of Israel, which is getting its citizens vaccinated faster than anybody else. They report a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections while people are 92% less likely to develop serious illness from the disease.

I’d like to get back in the gym, where I’d have more access to weights than I have at home. Since we have easy access to the Cascade Canal trail, I’ve substituted walking for my leg work. I know it is good for me, but hiking has lost its novelty. It reminds me too much of the Army.

The Centers for Disease Control inform me that once I pass the March 6 mark, I don’t have to be quarantined if I’m exposed to somebody with COVID-19. However, that’s only good for three months, because nobody’s sure how long the vaccinations will be effective.

The CDC also advises those who are vaccinated to continue to wear masks (either two masks or one tight to the face), practice social distancing, stay away from crowds, and wash your hands, presumably until we achieve herd immunity. When will that happen? Well, the optimists say everybody will be able to get vaccinated by fall, but less than 80% of the people needed to achieve herd immunity are willing to get shots.

Then there’s one or more of the new variants, like the California version currently making the rounds. (Leave it to the Golden State to go its own way.) I suspect the coronavirus will be like the flu, requiring an annual shot that’s adjusted to that year’s variant, a shot that many people will just ignore because there will be a tolerable level of illness.  

In the meantime, I’ll continue to wear my mask. Walking around without one is likely to generate hostility I can do without, and you never know when one of the new variants is lurking in the area. (I think people who are fully protected should be given badges or stickers proclaiming, “I’ve been shot twice!” That may appeal to the MAGA types who think the virus is a hoax and are generally well armed. Feel free to use my idea.)

It’s easy for me to make jokes because I have what millions of Americans are desperate to get—vaccinated. The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine to inoculate most Americans by the end of summer, and Pfizer and Moderna are on pace to deliver the 200 million doses they promised by the end of March.

The biggest problem now is elected officials who over promise and under deliver. State officials eager to make their constituents happy have opened vaccination sites without a dependable flow of the medicine, causing skyrocketing demand in some states, overwhelming local providers and frustrating people seeking shots. It’s a real-life version of Hunger Games.

California is not a shining star here. We were slow rolling out the vaccine because of overly complex (and constantly changing) eligibility criteria to insure equity. Only Alabama (where they like to say, “Well, Mississippi’s worse”) trailed us. The Newsom administration finally threw up its hands and decided to pay Blue Shield up to $15 million to handle the distribution.

The state has since opened several mass vaccination sites to great fanfare, only to close them periodically because they keep running out of vaccine. It doesn’t help that the state can’t accurately track where vaccines have been sent and how many shots have been delivered.

You have to wonder if officials are just making up the vaccine allocations. Kaiser Permanente, the largest provider of medical services in Northern California, said it had trouble getting enough shots to vaccinate its own employees.

But that hasn’t stopped the state from continually expanding those who can get shots. Soon, adults under 65 with disabilities and underlying health conditions (obesity is one of them) will be able to get shots, even though we haven’t taken care of everybody over 65. While it is frustrating to residents, Nevada County officials should be commended for resisting the temptation to promise more than they can deliver.

Early results show the Pfizer vaccine works well, and my wife and I will apparently have protection before any of the variants show up here. But most of our fellow Americans don’t have that protection, so I’m not shouting, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!” But it would be nice if my wife and I can celebrate our 52nd anniversary in June sitting down in a restaurant.

Observations from the center stripe: Editing edition

ARE WE going to see the outtakes of the dashboard camera recordings of the Alta Sierra shooting now that the sheriff has finished editing them?…A DISTRICT attorney that depends on the sheriff’s office to do its work should not be conducting the investigation. Ideally, the state attorney general’s office should handle it…NEVADA COUNTY made a big show of getting educators to the front of the vaccination line. Now, when are all of the schools going to reopen?…WASTE MANAGEMENT’S crackdown on overstuffed recycling bins may motivate the lazy to flatten all of those Amazon boxes…IF YOU want to prevent more fast food stores in “Burger Basin,” change people’s eating habits…

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A Rebane regular? Here’s why you should proceed with caution

In his continuing effort to save Americans from the authoritarian diktats of our scheming lefties, Dr. George Rebane takes another shot at masks in the latest edition of Scattershots at Rebane’s Ruminations.

“Masks don’t work and are damaging our health,” he reports three “concerned physicians” concluding at a recent panel discussion on the subject. Another example of “autocratic population control trial by governments,” he concludes.

But other than calling them “concerned physicians,” the good doctor doesn’t list their affiliations or expertise on the subject. Being the cynic that I am, this immediately raised suspicion and prompted me to dig a little deeper.

The link Dr. Rebane provided took me to LifeSiteNews, a site that provides a conservative slant to various social issues of the day. LifeSiteNews reported on a panel discussion involving the three experts, but didn’t say when or where the panel was held. Maybe the three of them just Zoomed.

Like Dr. Rebane, LifeSiteNews didn’t provide any details about the affiliations or expertise of the “concerned physicians” the article quoted, so I had to dig a little deeper. What I found probably won’t surprise you.

For starters, two of the three experts are a chiropractor and an osteopath. The third, a Ph D, calls herself a naturapathic doctor. None of them have any expertise in immunology or public health, but that hasn’t stopped them from advocating unconventional approaches to the current pandemic sweeping the world. For example:

–Dr. Sheri Tenpenny, the osteopath, is a long-time promoter of the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism;

–Dr. Eric Nepute is a St. Louis chiropractor who is the recent recipient of a warning letter from the Federal Trade Commission ordering him to cease promoting chiropractic care, intravenous vitamin theory, and vitamin D supplements as means of treating or preventing coronavirus;

–Dr. Pam Popper, the naturopathic specialist who believes that natural remedies are superior to anything Big Pharma produces, considers the wearing of masks one of many coronavirus disasters afflicting our country.

If nothing else, this example shows that the lightly read regulars of  Rebane’s Ruminations should proceed with caution.

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State GOP has the issues, now it needs the right candidates

Republicans have just 11 members of California’s congressional delegation, and Nevada County has the dubious distinction of being represented by two of them. Like most elected Republicans in the state, they are both white guys.

This is not a good look in the state with the nation’s most diverse population and is illustrative of the party’s dilemma in the Golden State: The GOP has broad support on many of the issues it backs, but has trouble finding candidates people will actually vote for outside of the state’s most conservative areas.

November’s election results illustrated the problem. On the one hand, California voters sided with Republicans on seven of the 11 state propositions where the state party took a position. On issues like rent control, affirmative action, property tax increases and letting gig workers remain independent contractors, Californians stood with the GOP. The state Democratic Party had four wins and seven loses.

On the other hand, the Democrats maintained a super majority in the state Legislature, just 11 Republicans were elected among the state’s 53 House members, and Joe Biden racked up a five million vote edge over Donald Trump. No Republican has been elected to statewide office in 14 years.

But being right on the issues gives the GOP hope going forward. Republicans won’t have to face Kamala Harris when her U.S. Senate seat comes up next year, and Republicans are hopeful voters will turn on Democrats in toss-up districts as they tire of whipsawing coronavirus rules and dysfunctional government.

Then there’s Gov. Gavin Newsom. Until recently the upcoming Golden Boy of Democratic politics, he has suffered from melt-downs at the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Employment Development Department, and the snail-like roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People pushing for Newsom’s recall think he’s particularly vulnerable on the administration’s yo-yo approach to slowing down the pandemic, and its fumbled rollout of vaccines. Newsom appears to be feeling the heat, loosening up on restrictions and now saying teachers don’t need to be vaccinated in order to reopen schools.

Recall backers have submitted less than 600,000 of the 1.5 million valid signatures they need by St. Patrick’s Day to force a recall, and it remains to be seen if Californians want to spend $100 million to recall a governor a year before he has to stand for reelection. Besides, there’s no telling what could happen in the free-for-all contest for governor a recall would trigger. We might end up with some second-tier Hollywood actor as governor. Somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If Newsom has to face a recall, it is unlikely he’ll lose given the Democrats big majority in the state. But Newsom’s poor performance since becoming governor may make life difficult for Democrats farther down the ticket in 2022.

“I would say continue to underestimate us at your own peril,” said Jessica Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party. “California Democrats have shown they are not focused on making our state great. They are focused on a radical left agenda that is not working for most Californians.”

The challenge for the party is to find candidates who will appeal to voters outside the state’s conservative strongholds. It has been clear in recent years that white guys taking conservative social positions can’t get the job done in California.

Part of the solution is to recruit more candidates who reflect California’s electorate, said Suzette Martinez Valladares of Santa Clarita, the only Republican to flip a Democratic-held state Assembly seat in November. She’s 39, Latina, and doesn’t come from the corporate world.

“There’s been a narrative of what Republicans look like, sound like and care about. And that’s not true in the California Republican Party now, and we’re seeing that through my election,” she said. “I’m a Latina, I’m a mom of a three-year-old. I’m a Millennial.”

Valladares was recruited to run by other elected Republican women and Patterson, who is also a Latina. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield sought out candidates who reflected the changing demographics of their districts. That led to the victories of Young Kim and Michelle Steel, two Korean-Americans who ousted incumbent Democrat congressmen Gil Cisneros and Harley Rouda in districts with heavy Asian populations.

Like other trends in the country, Californians may be leading the way. In conducting an autopsy of the 2020 elections, veteran GOP operative Karl Rove noted: “Republicans learned that diversity is a winner as female and minority candidates won many of their congressional and state legislative victories.”

Then there’s the issue of redistricting. While the U.S. Census hasn’t tabulated the final population totals yet, it is likely California will lose at least one congressional seat. Like a game of musical chairs, incumbents will be forced to face each other if they want to stay in the House. All of the state senate and assembly districts will also have to be redrawn.

How this plays out in a Republican Party that has become a haven for disillusioned whites and is still dominated by Trump backers remains to be seen. After all, Trump got more votes in California than any other state, McCarthy has backtracked on Trump’s involvement in the Capitol riot, and just one of the state’s GOP congressional representatives voted for impeachment.

White men figure to top the Republican ticket if there’s a recall, and in the 2022 general election. John Cox, who was trounced by Newsom in 2018, and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer are the only candidates to announce for governor if there is a recall.

Most observers think Faulconer is the stronger candidate, but he’s your basic RINO: A pro-choice, pro same-sex marriage believer in climate change who says he didn’t vote for Trump.

We’ll see how well that goes over with the Trump diehards.

Observations from the center stripe: Deja vu edition

WILL REP. Tom McClintock run for governor again if Gavin Newsom is forced to face a recall? Then a state senator, McClintock ran for governor when Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and finished third in a crowded field behind Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante…THE UC system has a record number of freshman applicants. You might as well give it a shot since you don’t have to take the SAT test anymore…HOW SHOULD I feel about reports that a lot of workers in hospitals and nursing homes won’t take the COVID-19 vaccine? Concerned is one word that comes to mind…I KNEW I was getting old when I realized Bill Clinton was the first president in my life time who was younger than me. I’m feeling younger now that we have a new president who’s older than I am…AFTER WATCHING a year’s worth of TV interviews from the homes of people, I’ve concluded that 90% of Americans have white, built-in book shelves…

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