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.

On Monday Night the Twin City Tea Party had its latest meeting.

This month’s meeting was was shorter and more direct. Last month over 80 people showed forcing the use of the upstairs room. This month the topography was a bit different. There was a general seating area where people who just wanted to hear the speakers had chairs set up while the serving tables remains for those (like myself) who planned on eating and drinking. It increased the capacity of the lower room considerably, however with the enthusiasm of the big rallies of Tax day behind them and with some time the crowd was smaller (46 people) but quite attentive.

Last month there were a half dozen speakers some of them rather long winded. This month it seemed the theme was “less is more” and it worked out well. A single candidate Mary Connaughton a republican running for State Auditor attended making a very good case for her candidacy based on credentials and past actions. She was considerably more effective than the gentleman who spoke on her behalf last time. If nothing else it looks like for the auditor position there is a wealth of good candidates.

Justin Brooks who has organized the local group had made it a point to reach out to several different democratic candidates to invite them to the event but received either no response or regrets due to conflicts. This is a large mistake If the democrat party concedes the economic argument to the republicans they will lose it by default.

The next subject raised was the Cap and Trade bill. John Weston destroyed his qualifications for congress by actually reading the bill. He didn’t like what he saw and neither did the audience:

Mauricio Cardozo, A Local High School student spoke next asking advice on forming a Tea Party group/club in his school was next soliciting suggestions and the crowd responded with many ideas to advance and attract young people to the cause.

One common theme after the speakers was the idea of both educating people on both the tea parties and the positions they hold. A Summit May 7th & 8th in Danvers had some potential but from the reaction of both the crowd and both new and old attendees it was the meat of the Cap and Trade bill that really moved them. This seems like the field where the next battle will be fought.

Update: Error in the title on the date, corrected.

In 1957 Senator Lyndon Johnson had a problem. He wanted to be elected president but it was apparent that no southern candidate could win the democratic nomination without being made pure on Civil rights. Due to the use of the filibuster (these were they days before 60 vote cloture) the southern democrats were able to block any kind of vote so it was necessary to craft a bill weak enough to keep the democrats from filibustering while not gutting the bill to the point where supporters of civil rights would consider it a scam. Johnson managed in one of the most amazing balancing acts in political history managed to shepherd the Civil Rights act of 1957 through the Senate.

One of the pieces of that puzzle was a vote on the Hell’s Canyon Dam. A freshman Senator Frank Church and other senators from the northwest had been fighting for that dam for years to no effect. Johnson managed to make a deal with those senators that in exchange for the votes needed to remove parts of the Civil Rights Bill (section III) unacceptable to the south, southern senators would provide the votes to get the Hell’s Canyon bill through the senate.

What those senators didn’t realize but Johnson did was the House of Representatives would reject the dam. It would be another 7 years (under President Lyndon Johnson) before the dam would be approved and a full decade before it opened.

Something similar is going on right now with Cap & Trade. President Obama and the House Democratic leadership are looking for a win for political reasons and house democrats leaders are making deals to get the votes they need for passage. Like LBJ of old democrat leaders know they are selling a pig in a poke to their members for their own political benefit on a bill that will not actually help those who it purports to help.

The question remains will the undecided members see through it? Time will tell.