Trump Ends California

The president has had a problem with Hollywood that resurfaced again in October 2016:

At the presidential debate on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said that Mr. Trump blamed a rigged system whenever something didn’t go his way. One example she cited was the Emmy Awards, which had never given Mr. Trump’s hit reality television show, “The Apprentice,” the accolades that he thought it deserved.

“There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s own extensive record of Twitter posts backs up Mrs. Clinton’s claim…

“The Apprentice” aired on NBC for seven seasons between 2004 and 2010, followed by a spinoff, “Celebrity Apprentice.” It was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2004 and 2005, but it lost to “The Amazing Race” both times – even after Mr. Trump agreed to sing a song alongside the actress Megan Mullally during the 2005 telecast.

And he never forgave and he never forgot, and this year, in January, just after the worst wildfires in California in a century, with many lives lost and billions in property damage, he decided that he had a problem with the whole State of California:

In the midst of a government shutdown, President Trump has threatened to cut off federal emergency aid to California for forest fires.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that “billions of dollars” are sent to California to help with its wildfire recovery efforts and claimed, without evidence, that the state would not need the funds if forests were properly managed.

“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” Trump stated. “It is a disgraceful situation in lives and money!”

It is unclear, based on the tweet’s wording, if Trump already directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to withhold funds or if he would be doing so.

He did neither. He was just venting. He had shut down the government to force Congress to pay for his giant wall to keep Mexicans and other riff-raff out, and even his own Republican Senate wouldn’t authorize a cent. His government shutdown failed spectacularly. He was embarrassed. And since Hillary Clinton had won California in a landslide – and since Republicans out here had become few and powerless over the years since Pete Wilson stuck it to all Hispanics and thrown away that giant voting bloc – he decided that he was going to get his revenge against this state. Many had died, and there were tens of thousands who had lost everything, but they’d get nothing. He kept saying that the Finnish prime minster had told him they had no forest fires over there because they raked the deal leaves under the trees. California should do that!

The Finnish prime minster said he never said any such thing. Everyone out here pointed out that the fires out here didn’t involve trees. These were brush fires. The chaparral was burning. And then someone talked Donald Trump down. Sure, his base hates California and everything it stands for and everyone who lives out here, but one can be too mean. These people had lost everything. Don’t kick them in the teeth. It’s a bad look. Be the good guy now and then. No one expects that. That’ll keep people on their toes. Mix it up now and then.

So nothing came of that, but earlier this month there was this:

California is close to adopting strict Obama-era federal environmental and worker safety rules that the Trump administration is dismantling. But as the legislative session draws to a close, the proposal faces fierce opposition from the state’s largest water agencies.

To shield California from Trump administration policies, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow state agencies to lock in protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and other bulwark environmental and labor laws that were in place before President Trump took office in January 2017.

The issue is how to fight what is essentially the end of the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and all the rest. Californians like those things and Donald Trump hates them. The battle over this will rage on, but sometimes it’s the small stuff:

Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement today following new details emerging on the Trump Administration’s plan to use military construction funds to build a border wall. The plan, which was released this week, will divert $8 million in funding to build the California National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing flight simulator for C-130J pilots and aircrew members, a critical tool that is used to train and prepare National Guard pilots to provide swift response and assistance during wildfires and other emergencies.

“Instead of focusing on the real threats of wildfires, earthquakes and other natural or man-made disasters, the President is throwing away millions of dollars in critical funds so he can build a giant vanity project that will not make anyone safer. It’s totally backwards, and puts Californians’ safety at risk.”

Trump wants his wall. Go buy rakes, assholes! But then there was this from March:

When President Trump proposed opening nearly the entire U.S. coastline to more offshore oil and gas drilling, the backlash from states seeking exemptions was swift.

Governors, both Republican and Democratic, and state legislatures up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, protested so vigorously that the administration promised to consult with them before finalizing any plans.

Instead, Trump is quietly laying the groundwork to weaken a decades-old federal law that empowers California and other states to slow and even stop offshore development in federal waters.

“Republicans are always supposed to be in favor of states’ rights,” said Richard Charter, who has worked on oil issues for 40 years and is a senior fellow at the marine conservation nonprofit Ocean Foundation. “But this is in fact an effort to take away states’ rights when it comes to offshore drilling.”

But of course this is spite. Real Americans have always resented those Gidget and Beach Blanket movies and surfers and all the Endless Summer crap. This is revenge. Oil spills will ruin all those beaches forever, and as Californians rage, Trump will sneer, and Malibu will become Tulsa. And then those tan and fit and smug Californians will know how the rest of America has to live. No one will ever hear a Beach Boys song again. You people can’t have paradise, damn it!

All of this has not made Donald Trump popular out here, but tonight the streets are closed because of this:

Donald Trump remains unpopular in the state where he lost to Hillary Clinton by a landslide: His job approval ratings in California are among his worst in the country.

But among state Republicans here, it’s a different story. And they’ve snapped up tickets to four sold-out, high-dollar fundraisers for the president.

The events are shrouded in secrecy to a large extent, necessitated by the deep hostility many in the state feel toward the president.

Still, the tickets have sold “faster than Mick Jagger,” laughs former state party chair Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committee member and a Trump bundler.

Some do love the guy:

The president will fly to Southern California for an evening event in the Beverly Hills-Bel Air 90210 area code. The fundraiser, held during Emmy week – when awards celebrating the television industry, a favorite target of Trump’s commentary, are handed out – is hosted by a longtime supporter, billionaire real estate mogul Geoffrey Palmer.

Palmer, who donated more than $4 million to GOP causes in the 2018 cycle, is one of the early donors to Rebuilding America Now, the pro-Trump super PAC founded by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort – now serving time for fraud – and Trump business ally Tom Barrack.

Tickets go from $1,000 to $10,000 per couple for a photo op at the event…

Trump never did get an Emmy but he’ll get the money – during Emmy week out here – to rub it in – because he has his own fans now:

Among those eager Republicans ready to write checks to Trump’s campaign are Celeste Greig, a former head of the California Republican Assembly – one of the most conservative grassroots groups in the GOP – who will be at his event in Bel Air.

“I’m going because he’s done a great job, maybe not perfect – but a great job,” said Greig. “Yes, he’s pissed some people off, but that’s what he is… people have to get over that.”

Greig says attendees have been promised appearances by Clint Eastwood – a movie icon who also served as the former mayor of Carmel, Calif. – and Mel Gibson, another conservative Hollywood voice.

And Mel is quite the guy:

On July 28, 2006, Gibson was arrested by Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for driving under the influence (DUI) while speeding in his vehicle with an open container of alcohol, which is illegal in California… According to the arrest report, Gibson exploded into an angry tirade when the arresting officer would not allow him to drive home. Gibson climaxed with the words, “Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”

After the arrest report was leaked on, Gibson issued two apologies through his publicist, and – in a televised interview with Diane Sawyer – he affirmed the accuracy of the quotations. He further apologized for his “despicable” behavior, saying that the comments were “blurted out in a moment of insanity” and asked to meet with Jewish leaders to help him “discern the appropriate path for healing.” After Gibson’s arrest, his publicist said he had entered a recovery program to battle alcoholism…

Gibson’s controversial statements resulted in his being blacklisted in Hollywood for almost a decade.

But then Gibson is a Sedevacantist traditionalist Catholic – the post-Vatican II popes have forfeited their position through their acceptance of heretical teachings connected with the Second Vatican Council and consequently there is at present no known true pope. The Second Vatican Council finally said no one should hate all Jews, clearly heretical teaching, because the Jews killed Jesus! That’s the dispute. And don’t get Gibson started on “niggers” – a word he uses quite a bit – and Gibson will be at Trump’s Alternative Emmys Party – as he perhaps should be.

But this whole business is odd:

President Trump maligned the problem of homelessness in California as he arrived in the nation’s most populous state Tuesday, arguing that people living on the streets here have ruined the “prestige” of two of the state’s most populous cities and suggesting the possibility of federal action.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Silicon Valley, where he hosted a campaign fundraiser to kick off a two-day visit to California.

And there is a plan to do what FDR did with Japanese-Americans to the homeless, to put them in camps perhaps forever, no matter what anyone else says about that:

Under Trump’s direction, the administration has been eyeing sweeping unilateral action on homelessness, with top government officials from multiple agencies touring California this month to formulate a strategy. Housing Secretary Ben Carson was also visiting San Francisco on Tuesday, and had plans to discuss the issue. It is unclear what legal authority the federal government has to clear the streets and how that might be accomplished, however.

But this is a property-values crisis:

As he arrived here, Trump claimed that he had personally heard complaints from tenants in the state, some of them foreigners. He expressed sympathy for real estate investors here and other Californians whose property values or quality of life are threatened.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Trump said. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building, and they want to leave.”

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, Trump said, people are living on the “best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige.”

And that drew the expected reaction:

“The president’s remarks are abhorrent. He’s apparently more concerned with the doorways and streets than with the people who are homeless and sleeping on them,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

This is not a lack of sympathy, not really. Diane Yentel has sympathy for the homeless. Donald Trump has sympathy for the property owners who spend big money for a “prestige” address and now see it becoming worthless. All the elegance – gone – and all the “class” gone too. These homeless people have ruined everything:

Trump has characterized the homeless problem in California and other places as a “disgrace,” saying this July: “We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate.” He more recently directed aides to figure out “how the hell we can get these people off the streets,” one senior administration official said.

This, then, is a matter of appropriateness, and he’s made sure that has been hammered home:

Fox News has aired at least 18 segments on California homelessness in 2019, according to a review of Fox closed-captioning transcripts.

Those segments are all the same. Who are these disgusting people, if they even are people? And what are they doing in our America? What are they doing in YOUR America?

Philip Bump sums this up:

The focus of his concern, as presented to reporters on Air Force One, wasn’t Americans or homeless veterans, but foreigners who rent or buy high-end real estate, people who get frustrated at seeing those experiencing homelessness at the entrance to their office buildings. It’s the sort of complaint that might resonate with someone who owns real estate in major U.S. cities that is used for housing or office space.

Someone, in other words, like Donald Trump, whose Trump Organization owns 30 percent of what used to be known as the Bank of America tower in San Francisco, an office building in that city. The Trump Organization also owns properties in Los Angeles and, of course, New York City.

Trump has been in the business of appealing to real estate investors for a lot longer than he’s been in the business of running the United States, so it’s not really a surprise he would view the homelessness problem through the lens of someone who needs to get people to see Trump Tower as the pinnacle of refinement.

So this had to happen, but with a twist:

It’s remarkable that Trump went as far as to frame this as a concern for foreign tenants. Foreign investors are central to much of the high-end real estate market, prompting Donald Trump Jr. in 2008 to remark that “in terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

But even if that is a central concern of Trump’s in this case, it seems odd to mention it explicitly. To reporters, it’s apparently about tax bases and appealing to the foreign market.

These, it seems, are the sorts of immigrants that Trump is happy to welcome, the sorts who want to ensure the properties they buy are prestigious.

If we need to move those experiencing homelessness to an old FAA building, so be it.

But there is a problem with that very cool building – designed by Cesar Pelli and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Someone bought it and is turning it into something snazzy again. And this isn’t a real estate problem. Lives have been ruined. How can the government help? These are real people. These are our fellow citizens. The government should help its citizens.

Donald Trump doesn’t think that way. He wants to embarrass California. The state rejected him. This is still about revenge, and he seems to think he has found the ultimate revenge:

The Trump administration plans this week to revoke California’s long-standing right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, the latest step in a broad campaign to undermine Obama-era policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, two senior administration officials said.

The move threatens to set in motion a massive legal battle between California and the federal government, plunge automakers into a prolonged period of uncertainty and create turmoil in the nation’s auto market.

And there’s only one question here, about Californians. Who do these people think they are? That is how this is being framed:

The Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment on the matter. But in a speech Tuesday to the National Automobile Dealers Association, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler made his intentions clear.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said.

Well, we’ll see about that:

Already, 13 states and the District of Columbia have vowed to adopt California’s standards if they diverge from the federal government’s standards, as have several major automakers. California leaders on Tuesday said they will fight any challenge to their autonomy.

“While the White House has abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming, California has stepped up,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said. “It’s a move that could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe, if California were to roll over. But we will not.”

Echoing the governor, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has sued the Trump administration on a range of issues, vowed to head back to court, saying California’s clean car standards are “achievable, science-based, and a boon for hard-working American families and public health.”

What is Trump thinking? You didn’t vote for me, so die, you arrogant bastards who think you’re so damned cool? The rest of America hates you as much as I do!

That may not be so:

Trump’s move is likely to be unpopular nationwide and in California, with Americans widely supportive of stricter fuel efficiency standards. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday found 66 percent of Americans oppose Trump’s plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards rather than enforce the Obama administration’s targets for 2025.

A nearly identical 67 percent majority says they support state governments setting stricter fuel efficiency targets than the federal government.

Among Californians, the survey found 68 percent oppose Trump’s relaxation of mileage standards, while 61 percent support California’s stricter standards.

What did he expect? This is life and death, and not all that complicated:

The standoff began last year, when the EPA and Transportation Department proposed taking away California’s waiver as part of a rule that would freeze mileage standards for these vehicles at roughly 37 miles per gallon from 2020 to 2026. The Obama-era standards had required these fleets to average nearly 51 mpg by model year 2025.

In July, California forged an agreement with four companies – Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America – under which they pledged to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. The Justice Department has opened an inquiry into whether the accord violated antitrust law.

That may be hard to prove. Those four car companies see the whole world, going green. They’re just aligning with California, and the worldwide future, but that will be dangerous:

By seeking to strip California of its autonomy, Trump officials are forcing auto companies to choose whether they will side with the state or with the federal government. As part of July’s deal with the California Air Resources Board, the four carmakers agreed to support the state’s right to set its own tailpipe standards.

Environmentalists promised to join California in its legal opposition.

“There’s nothing in the Clean Air Act or EPA regulations providing for this unprecedented action,” Martha Roberts, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in an interview. “The legislative history is explicit about broad authority for California. This is very well established legal authority that’s firmly anchored in the Clean Air Act.”

But they could lose and be forced to build cars to Trump’s standards, not to California’s or the world’s evolving standards, given the science:

The state’s air regulators have consistently argued that they are limiting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, rather than overtly setting mileage standards.

Margo Oge, who directed the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1994 to 2012, said in an interview that California can make a strong case that it needs to curb these pollutants because climate change worsens ozone, which helps create smog.

“California has demonstrated that by getting a greenhouse gas emissions waiver, it can also reduce ozone pollution, because the data is very strong,” she said.

Obama administration officials acknowledged that efforts to curb CO2 emissions from autos are inextricably linked to stricter mileage standards. The 2010 rule published by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that nearly 95 percent of emissions from cars and light trucks stem from motor fuel combustion.

And there are memories of the old days:

California’s long-standing ability to write its own emissions standards has seldom been questioned in Washington. In part, that’s because of the history that led to the state’s unique authority.

Smog in Los Angeles had become crippling at times throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. As scientists focused on motor vehicle exhaust as a key culprit, state officials worked to develop the nation’s first vehicle emissions standards in 1966.

The following year, the state’s new Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, established the California Air Resources Board to undertake a statewide effort to address widespread air pollution.

Why is Donald Trump sneering at Ronald Reagan? But yes, blame Ronald Reagan:

As it crafted landmark clean-air legislation for the country, Congress granted California special status, saying the state could request a “waiver” to require stricter tailpipe standards if it provided a compelling reason for why they were needed.

Over time, emissions control strategies first adopted by California – catalytic converters, regulations on oxides of nitrogen, and “check engine” systems, to name a few – have become standard across the country.

Can we get rid of all that? Should we get rid of all that?

All of this would have been much easier if Hollywood had only given Trump an Emmy or two, or three or four, fifteen or twenty years ago. He wouldn’t be seeking revenge now. He wouldn’t be trying to end California. He might have not run for president and then gained the power to end California. But he can now. Someone needs to talk to those Emmy people. Perhaps it’s not too late.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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