Needles, California last week

By John Ruberry

While I’m watching snow fall outdoors at Marathon Pundit world headquarters in Morton Grove, Illinois, the rest of my family is vacationing in southern California.

When they drove into California at Needles, just as the Joads did in The Grapes of Wrath, they were also greeted by more desert, as well as this 76 sign, which informs motorists that regular gasoline is selling for $3.79-a-gallon, more than a dollar above the national average.

Taxes are of course the reason and late last year the Tarnished State increased its gas taxes by 12 cents-a-gallon, to pay for road improvements.

California’s problems are vast. When the cost-of-living is figured in California suffers from the nation’s highest poverty rate. Modern day Joads are better off staying in Oklahoma. California’s roads are in bad shape because of onerous financial obligations in other parts of the budget. CalPERs, California’s public worker pension plan, is a sinkhole, so much so that Governor Jerry Brown is suggesting that pension benefits might be lowered–even for state workers currently paying into the program.

Another budget-buster is California’s high-speed rail project. Eight years ago voters approved the $40 billion project because government would pay for construction, which would make it “free.” Cost estimates for it have already climbed to $64 billion. If completed, and right now that might be stretch at best, it will run between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The relatively inexpensive segment where construction has begun, between Madera and Bakersfield, is already beset by delays, so much so that Victor Davis Hanson is musing that what little has been built could end up as nothing more than a modern Stonehenge. While the project is receiving federal funds, an increase of cash from Washington DC is not going to happen during the Trump presidency. So don’t count on a bailout, Californians.

Liberalism is expensive. And liberals love trains because, unlike cars and buses, they only go where there are tracks.

Moving up the Pacific Coast Highway into Oregon we learn that legislators are considering implementing an expensive cap-and-trade scheme that will punish large energy users, who are of course also large employers, in order to fight global warming. California has a cap-and-tax racket going already.  But there is some good news out of Oregon. Earlier this year, a new law took effect that allows drivers to fill up their own gas tanks–without an attendant. Of course some Oregonians freaked out, No, this was not an episode of Portlandia. Now only another coastal blue state, New Jersey, bans self-serve gas stations.

Blogger in Aberdeen, Washington

Heading north over the Columbia River into Washington, legislators in that blue state are debating a $10-a-ton carbon tax, one that a Democratic legislator who opposes it calls a “pretty sizable gas-tax increase.” Washington’s governor, Democrat Jay Inslee, who prefers a $20-a-ton tax, laughingly calls his plan a jobs creator.

The United States has much cheaper energy costs than Japan and most nations in Europe, which is one of the reasons, along with President Trump’s slashing of regulations–many of them involving energy–why the American economy is booming.

Does the West Coast want to be left behind as the rest of our nation enjoys prosperity? California, as it has been for decades for good and for ill, is already ahead of the curve.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

If you are a person who believes in jinxes then Tom Brady’s 3rd MVP is a good sign for Philadelphia.

The Associated Press chose the New England Patriots star as the 2017 Most Valuable Player, announcing the award during Saturday night’s NFL Honors ceremony. At 40 years and 184 days, Brady is the oldest player to win the MVP, an award that goes back to 1957. Brady’s resume now boasts one Comeback Player of the Year, three regular-season MVPs, four Super Bowl MVPs and five Lombardi Trophies — with an opportunity for a sixth on Sunday.

The Patriots have never won a superbowl in a season where Brady won the MVP.

However if you don’ t believe in jinxes the Superbowl will come down to one salient fact, will Philadelphia play the full 60 minutes.

The Seattle Seahawks didn’t

After 59 minutes, both before and after the Malcolm Butler interception, the Seattle Seahawks played as if the outcome of the game was already decided.

After 59 minutes both before and after the Malcolm Butler interception the New England Patriots played as if the outcome of the game was in doubt.

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t

As I update this in the 3rd quarter with Atlanta leading by 25 so Roger Goodell is likely dancing in the streets but more importantly Lady Gaga decided her songs were liberal enough so she decided to shut up and sing meaning that the NFL was able to get sanctuary from the left meaning football fans won’t have to take sanctuary from the game.

Frankly if Brady & the pats were not playing I wouldn’t give a damn and if it wasn’t Brady on that field I’d consider this game over.

UPDATE: Unfortunately for Atlanta that was in fact Brady on the field and I suspect those extra four weeks of rest came in handy in those final 18 minutes. You have to go back to William Tecumseh Sherman to find a bunch of Georgia boys more manhandled by an invader from the North.

That’s what it really comes down to. It’s already been amply established that even down 25 late in the 3rd quarter or with the opposing team a single yard away with under a minute to go the Patriots keep playing to win and will not pretend that the Eagles have no chance to do so.

On paper the Eagles should have an OK chance, you have an excellent defense and a Quarterback who has shown flashes of brilliance, but if the Patriots go up early by a couple of scores (a very rare thing in a Superbowl) will they still have faith in their game plan to keep plugging away? Conversely if they go up early and Tom Brady starts to bring the Patriots back will they panic remembering what happened to both the Falcons and the Seahawks?

Or if the game is close all the way through, will they have the discipline to keep playing their game till the very end?

That is what we are about to find out as I pointed out last year

Again this is football and if the Patriots and Brady weren’t playing I really wouldn’t care what a bunch of overpaid athletes who don’t respect the country that gives them the change to make a fortune playing a game do or don’t do.

But as the MSM has decided that New England represents Trump and the Eagles represent the left I hope Brady and company pulverizes them into dust, given both the Patriots and the Eagles style, I think that’s highly unlikely, but it would be nice.

Even better maybe if the Patriots win the Superbowl again local sports radio will FINALLY get over the Garoppolo trade.