In the last few days, our president has gone Twitter mad and apparently, since most of the grown-ups have already left the White House, there are no cool heads to calm the president down—and just think, John Bolton hasn’t even arrived yet. Trump doubled down on his anti-immigration theme and told immigration law judges, who are supposed to weigh each case based on its merits, that they were personally going to be judged on how quickly they disposed of cases (not that anyone was trying to lean on them to just kick everyone out). Someone should have told him, if he’d even listen, that courts—even conservative courts—get real upset when the executive branch tries to lean on courts to decide cases a certain way. The British royal governors in the colonies attempted this earlier, and we all know how that worked out.
Next, he announced he was going to send troops to guard our southern borders with Mexico (apparently no one cares about Canada) because caravans of illegals are coming. We know that’s true because Fox News told us so. The problem is that he may be opening up another can of legal worms because there is something called the Posse Comitatus Act, which was something the Southern states pushed through after the Civil War to get federal troops out of the South. It appears the Southern states had a bit of a bad experience during Reconstruction. They wanted to make damn sure those Yankee troops weren’t coming back so they helped pass some congressional legislation to tie the president’s hands in how he could use federal troops.
Lastly, he has declared war on both Mexico and Amazon, apparently under the impression that both are countries, which has sent the price of salsa skyrocketing, and the stock prices of Amazon and other tech stocks are stumbling.
I wish I could glean some larger strategy to all this, but I’m beginning to think the government of the United States is being driven by whatever jumps into the brain of some news writer for “Fox and Friends,” who kind of shapes the news to keep his audience, which apparently includes the President of the United States, fully engaged.
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Across the country, schoolteachers in many states—usually a very docile lot—are lighting torches and heading to the barricades. In the last decade or so, some very conservative state legislatures have cut back on taxes which, of course, cut back on state income. In many states, public education is the largest item in the budget, so if you cut taxes, you cut revenue. And if you cut revenue, education is sure to suffer (and it has), meaning teachers are enraged. The revolt and walkouts—or strikes, if you prefer—are surprisingly coming in red states:
- West Virginia—average wage: $45,477
- Oklahoma—average wage: $42,647
- Kentucky—average wage: $52,339
- Arizona—average wage: $43,800
California has an average wage of $72,050 and, unlike some of the other teachers who haven’t had a raise in five or 10 years, has at least a livable wage.
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There is only one place that these political battles are going to be settled and it’s at the polls in November. In 2016—a presidential year—58 percent of registered voters actually showed up to vote. Elections are decided more by people who don’t bother to vote rather than the predictable group that goes to the polls. On a whole, voters tend to be older, whiter and richer than nonvoters. In midterm elections, even though the party out of power invariably gains some seats (this year, the Democrats), turnouts are usually lower, particularly among young voters. In 2012, also a presidential year with Obama running for a second term, young voters—18-29 years old, who constitute 31 percent of the electorate—only cast 19 percent of ballots. That’s why candidates and political parties often concentrate on older, whiter voters, because they show up on Election Day. But things may be changing; young voters and voters of color may be energized and come to the polls in larger numbers this time. It’s difficult to say how much the immigrant/DACA issue has energized Hispanics and how much the school shootings/gun issue has energized the younger voters. The major measure of this will be in voting for the House of Representatives. If the House flips and goes Democratic, particularly in sizable numbers, then everything changes and the Republicans will probably be looking for a new presidential candidate in 2020. If the House stays Republican for whatever the reason, all Republicans will fall in line behind Trump and he’ll be their candidate in 2020 (and, I suspect, will win in that scenario).
This November’s midterm election is probably the most important midterm election we’ve had in decades.
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Gladstones Restaurant—long a feature at Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset, and once one of the highest grossing restaurants in the state—has been on the long-term agenda for the Board of Supervisors, who would like to see the old restaurant torn down and a new building in its place. Today, the board gave its approval to begin negotiations with a company, which includes chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and, in time, a new building to be designed by Frank Gehry. The entire project is to be financed privately in exchange for a longterm lease. They anticipate that the negotiation will take several years and in the interim, Gladstones Restaurant will continue to operate and be open to visitors.