President’s News

The Sunsetting of the First Amendment

The Sunsetting of the First Amendment

(Original source: Getty Images.  Modified with Moku Hanga app by P. Verbica.)

On Notice:
The Sunsetting of the First Amendment

© 2020 by Peter Coe Verbica

Granted, I am still learning after nearly six decades on this planet.  For example, before this week, I knew nothing of another’s late mother and her past time in Missouri: she would carefully tie the legs of June bugs with sewing thread.  Her children would subsequently watch in delight as the insects flew in perfect circles.  I was dumbfounded by the novelty of the story.  But, those were the days when families made their own ice cream, girls knew how to play piano and boys shot rabbits for supper. Entertainment was a luxury then and I suppose we can view with some compassion the creative and inventive souls who came before us.

Over the past few years, despite the warnings of close friends, I’ve written on wildly unpopular topics, including the federal debt and danger of currency devaluation, the ghosting of the older white male by corporate America, how decades of underbuilding housing supply due to regulatory abuse affects how people vote, real examples of heroism by those who stand up to Communist tyrants versus those who take a knee on a football field, and more.  In our era of blacked-out bread trucks and buses filled with thugs intent on burning down small towns, I suppose it was only a matter of time when I would have to once again pick up a pen.

Leftists and the “Cancel Culture” have been busier than a trusted librarian cutting out etchings from rare books to put kids through college.  Statues are ransacked and police stations defaced as mayors check opinion polls before deciding whether the Rule of Law should be honored.  State flags are under revision, and barracks, bases and battleships are to be renamed.  In the 1930’s, German extremists and their Austrian pals piled up books as fuel for pyres.  Perhaps this trend will be next, but with digital storage books needn’t be burned to the detriment of the environment.  Like Hao Haidong’s social media account followed by millions, texts will simply be erased.  Gone is Rushdie’s exhortation about the importance of debate in free society.

As I say, I’m still learning new things, including renewed assaults on a fragile First Amendment.  Facebook, the social media leviathan, currently valued at $850.459 Billion[i], posted the following notice on September 1, 2020:

Update to Our Terms

Effective October 1, 2020, section 3.2 of our Terms of Service will be updated to include: “We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.”

The announcement arrived just in time to relieve me of the PTSD from California’s wildfires; evacuated like many others, our family bivouacked indoors in a futile attempt to avoid the toxic, smog-ladened air.  Antiquated practices — such as controlled burns, the maintenance of fire roads, selective timber harvesting, intelligent grazing of public lands, and increasing firefighting inventories — are passé in our burnt-out State; decades of decisions by desk jockeys rather than farmers or ranchers took their toll; luckily, electric vehicles are still vogue here, to the delight of rare earth miners and Millennials.  And so, the helpful Facebook announcement (just days after I had finished sweeping ash off of our roofs and decks) afforded heartwarming proof that the geniuses at 1601 Willow Road in Menlo Park toil ardently onward for the sake of humanity.

Toni Morrison, the renowned novelist, wrote about knowing why the caged bird sings; as a Republican in California, I can attest to knowing why birds, caged or otherwise, don’t sing.  By way of example, in the town of Ocean Hills, several senior citizens who placed American flags and political signs in their yards had their properties vandalized.  The outcome for many California Republicans, who value their personal safety, is self-censure.  One remarkably talented IP lawyer currently looking for employment quietly explained to me her preference of employment over a Bill of Rights’ liberty.  The First Amendment right to speak freely is one thing.  But, to be able to work and put food on the table are another.  Such is the Realpolitik.

If for some reason, my opinions are stripped from the pages of Facebook in the future (rather than merely throttled or blocked[ii]), I do have the alternative of standing on a corner with a cardboard sign which reads: “Honk if You Love the First Amendment!”  I realize that in the not-to-distant future, self-driving cars may damn me with silence, but forgive me the indulgence.

The debate at hand is whose First Amendment right is it?  The content publisher’s or the content creator’s?[iii]  If you really want to raise the ire of social media behemoths, you might accuse them of being a substantial monopoly and treat them as public utilities.  Conservatives aren’t keen to the idea, because it could result in governmental overreach, where the cure is worse than the malady.  Jim Geraghty of the National Review warns:

“Facebook has a lot of flaws, and it’s earned much of the criticism it’s received. But there’s little reason to think that some sort of federal Facebook Utility Commission would fix what really has people upset with the platform, and every reason to think such a commission would worsen the things people like about it.”[iv]

The controversial Steve Bannon on the other hand, is willing to take the risk and argues the converse.[v]  In the meantime, while the debate continues, if your posts on social media become censured, you can’t say that you weren’t put on notice.  Some may wonder: where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him?


[i], 9/2/2020, 9:39 am, PDT.





Take a Knee for Hao Haidong

Take a Knee for Hao Haidong

Hao Haidong
(Getty Images.)

Take A Knee for Hao Haidong

(What a Real Hero Looks Like)
© 2020 by Peter Verbica

Before yesterday, I confess to not knowing much about Communist China’s top goal scorer, Hao Haidong.  As a child, my family attended Stanford Indian football games, rather than soccer games.  Every year, like millions of Americans, we watched the Super Bowl.  Granted, I know little about the striker’s personal life.  This I do know.  Yesterday, Haidong unequivocally put his own life, and perhaps the rest of his family’s, on the line by criticizing the CCP.  Shortly after his condemnation of his country’s totalitarian rulers, his social media account with millions of followers was summarily erased.[i]  With a simple keystroke.  Gone.

In the US, we have historically taken Freedom of Speech for granted; reports of censure by Facebook, Instagram (bought by Facebook in 2012), Twitter, and Google’s wholly-owned YouTube, remind us of this sacred right’s fragility.[ii]  While Americans are preoccupied with civil unrest and social injustice, two of the world’s main sovereigns, Russia and Communist China, have a very real history of silencing their critics.  If you believe news reports, the practice is often permanent.  Beijing, according to Arch Puddington, Distinguished Fellow for Democracy Studies at Freedom House, holds the dubious distinction of being a “global leader in political prisoners.”[iii]  Many of Putin’s critics, such as Lesin, Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, Estemirova, Markelov, Baburova, wind up assassinated.[iv]  If taking a knee honors Haidong’s heroic criticism of an autocratic regime, then count me in.

Haidong’s courage is a reminder of the Unknown Rebel’s indelible heroism seen at Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989, when students stood in front of tanks.[v]  As the specter of the CCP overshadows Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, and the United States of America’s Exceptionalism is seditiously divided from within, the world needs heroes like Haidong who stand up to the genuine tyrants.  As the Kinks song recites, “this is Captain America calling.”  The looters and rioters who set fire to a firefighter’s Minneapolis bar and slay a policeman in Oakland are a heinous contrast; they are “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men,” the “empty men,” of which T.S. Eliot writes.[vi]  Meanwhile, the world may never learn the truth of what transpired at the CCP’s classified lab in Wuhan, now run by Major General Chen Wei.[vii]  Most Americans remain blissfully unaware of the Communist Chinese string of heavily fortified underground military bases, including the Bombay Reef in the Paracel Islands[viii], Djibouti at the Horn of Africa[ix] and an “extensive tunnel system for nuclear weapons” on the mainland.[x]

So, if you’re a virtue-signaling opportunist who prefers to take a knee rather than saluting the brave, I invite you to take a knee for a genuine contemporary hero.  One fearless man who stands against totalitarianism — unlike faceless baristas with bricks.  If you must take a knee for diversity, consider taking a knee for diversity of ideas, such as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and take a knee for Hao Haidong.











The Balancing of Rocks

The Balancing of Rocks

© 2020 by Peter Coe Verbica

A few years back, I sat down in Hon. George Shultz’ office at the Hoover Institution to seek the US Marine’s advice.  His office included photographs which evidenced his close and lifelong friendship with Ronald Reagan, our 40th President.  Along with the myriad of books which lined his workplace, I noticed the rectangle of paper currency in a small frame.  The bill had an image of balancing rocks as its center piece.  I recognized the large denomination immediately, as I had a similar one in my collection.  I wasn’t surprised to see that Secretary Shultz also understood the irony and consequences of fiat currency issued with capriciousness.  In addition to serving as Secretary of Labor, Director of the OMB, Secretary of State, Shultz also held the office of the 62nd US Secretary of the Treasury.  Though the reserve note stated a value of “One Hundred Trillion Dollars,” I knew that its significance was for its novelty, rather than any backing by its original issuer, the government of Zimbabwe.  One of Shultz’ favorite sayings is “Trust is the coin of the realm.”  Since he had the unenviable responsibility of decoupling the US Dollar from the gold standard during the Nixon administration, I can understand why it would be of profound relevance to the Secretary.

While we are on the topic of trust: many students, especially those who have studied economics, are familiar with the ill-fated consequences of the Weimer Republic inflating its currency to a point where wallets were replaced by wheelbarrows.  The policy was a response to Germany’s being saddled with post-WW I debt reparations, but France also used the same strategy when it was saddled with debt during the late 1700’s.  After nationalizing land which had been formerly held by the Church, the French government decided to issue paper currency to satiate its borrowings.  While gold and silver coins had some intrinsic value associated with their alloys, the new paper money would be guaranteed by the good faith of the French people and the wise stewardship of its government.  Andrew D. White wrote about how lofty ideals met with ugly consequences in his 1882 treatise, Paper Money, Inflation in France, How It Came, What It Brought and How It Ended:

“The truth which it brings out with great clearness is that doubling the quantity of money or substitutes for money in a nation simply increases prices, disturbs values, alarms capital, diminishes legitimate enterprise, and so decreases the demand both for products and for labor; that the only persons to be helped by it are the rich who have large debts to pay.”

The more recent supernova example of hyperinflation and currency devaluation is the country of Venezuela.  Despite its being resource rich (reportedly ranking number one in oil reserves and having cash crops such as cocoa and coffee), its citizens have been ground down into abject poverty under the heel of an autocratic Socialist.  The country’s hyperinflation would confound most handheld calculators and strains the imagination.  In 2019, the International Monetary Fund pegged the projected inflation rate at 10,000,000%.[i]  Resourceful street vendors in Bogota and elsewhere have determined a higher and better use for the near-worthless currency: women’s handbags.  One enterprising vendor, who learned the technique of making textiles out of paper in prison, praises the valueless Venezuelan banknotes’ qualities of durability and water repellence.

Is concern about such ephemeral esoterica such as the U.S. national debt best left to conspiracy theorists and wearers of tinfoil hats?  With the estimated U.S. national debt clocking in at $23,692,367,201,235 at 10:03 am this morning on April 3, 2020, perhaps the rest of us should begin to ring alarm as well.  Additional metrics show the U.S. debt ratio at 109.37% to the GDP; to put things in perspective, it’s more than double the figure of 53.05% in 1960.  Debt per taxpayer weighs in at $191,172.[ii]  Valentin Schmid warns, “This means that everyone who wants to protect their savings must become a financial speculator, as simply holding U.S. dollars will lead to a guaranteed loss of purchasing power.” (“Inflation, a Hidden Tax,” Epoch Times).  Adding to the current monumental debt burden, bipartisan leaders in DC have burdened their printing presses even further with the hasty passing of a $2 Trillion Dollar Coronavirus Stimulus Package.  Cash may have once been king, but in today’s sick world, it could very well end up the joker.




Sage and Saddles: CCR Profile of Tom Wilson

Sage and Saddles: CCR Profile of Tom Wilson

by Peter Verbica,
CCR President

Tom Wilson leads Hemet-San Jacinto Congress of RepublicansAnyone who grew up on a farm or ranch gets instant credibility in my book — especially since I wrote Hard-Won Cowboy Wisdom (Not Necessarily in Order of Importance).  So, when interviewing Tom Wilson, the President of Hemet-San Jacinto Congress of Republicans, I was ecstatic to learn that Tom grew up on Rancho Pavoreal, located in a rural part of Hemet known as “Sage.”  There’s nothing like loading hay, cleaning stalls and tractor work to teach life-long lessons.  Tom is a living testament to this principle.  He shoots straight.

Rancho Pavoreal was part of a suite of holdings which made up the empire of Pennsylvania billionaire, Benjamin Coates.  The sister ranch, Rancho Guejito, in San Diego County is reported to be one of the few remaining intact Spanish land grants.  While the ranch that Tom grew up on may not have been as famous, it does have a more entertaining name.  Those who speak Spanish will know that “pavoreal” translates to “peacock.”  Visitors of the Wilson family would be greeted by 30 peacocks and guests always loved collecting the beautiful feathers.  More traditional activities such as farming alfalfa and raising Herefords and hogs helped pay the ranch’s bills.

Tom met his wife, Louise, when they attended San Jacinto High School, home to the Tigers.  He played football as a lineman and a defense end.  Tom jokes that his wife must have been near-sighted, but it is obvious that they make a great team.  This year, they celebrate 47 years of marriage.  Their children, Matt and twins Laurie and Kristy attended Hemet H.S. and then all bounded off to college.  Matt studied biology at UC San Diego and his sisters went off to “The Farm,” also known as Stanford.  Both ladies went on to get law degrees and now they have successful careers in the credit counseling business.  The Wilson tribe continues to grow with their seven grandchildren.  And, while Tom describes himself as “car nut” (Jeeps and Corvettes), Louise makes sure he expands his horizons with trips to Europe and an upcoming trip to Israel with a church group.

The Hemet-San Jacinto Congress of Republicans has had a long line of terrific presidents, including current CCR Board Member, Sharon Durbin, and former CCR President Robin Lowe.  Tom maintains this tradition and brings a wealth of experience; he served for eleven years as a California State Legislature Field Representative for Congressman Paul Cook, Senator Bill Emmerson, Senator Mike Morrell, and Assemblyman Chad Mayes.  He has also served as a Riverside County Republican Party Delegate.  His civic involvement is extensive as well, including Kiwanis, CASA, Valley Health System Board, San Jacinto Education Foundation, San Jacinto Valley Action Group and more.  His professional life is just as impressive.  He’s been a successful small business owner for seventeen years, helped by his previous experience as store manager of several different Safeway and Liquor Barn stores.

The long and short of all this?  Under Tom Wilson’s leadership, Hemet San Jacinto Congress of Republicans will continue to be a Republican rock in the river.  CCR tips its hat to Tom!

Happy Horse Pucky – First the Indians, Now the Cowboys

Happy Horse Pucky – First the Indians, Now the Cowboys

By Peter Coe Verbica

This week, I met a forty year old woman who despises cowboys.  At first blush, she seemed sane enough; there weren’t any flames shooting out of her ears, nor was she wearing a tin-foil hat. But, these are weird times and an errant way of thinking has taken over even well-educated minds across the country.  We were in California but she was dressed more like a New Yorker.  That should have given me a clue, perhaps.  We attended the same expensive Cambridge school, but apparently I had been reading the wrong textbooks. Other than her propensity to swear in her first sentences upon meeting me (and expressing sincere frustration with her ailing father), I had no real clue what ire was in store.

I treated her to a coffee and seated her like a gentleman.  (Call me old-fashioned; I still hold doors open for women and wish friends a “Merry Christmas.”)  But, when she began telling me that the word “cowboy” was gender insensitive, I shifted weight to the balls of my feet and checked for the location of the doors in case I needed to make an exit.  I wasn’t sure if she meant her offense was because “cow” refers to the female of the species.  I was also told that images of white men holding Winchesters was “racist.” When I explained that the painting was from the taking of San Juan Hill and a reference to Teddy Roosevelt and Cuba, she looked at me with a benign vacancy.

Now, my grandmother was part Native American, and unless I’m illegitimate, so am I.  Not nearly enough blood to be on the tribal roll, but enough to keep me interested.  I have a badge to prove it.  My wife also has Native American blood and my mom spent her final years in the Capitol of a tribal nation.  So, I suppose it’s odd that I do my best to defend cowboy culture which appears to be under assault.  I did grow up on a commercial cattle ranch.  But, anyone who has studied history knows that cowboys came from a myriad of ethnicities.  I display postage stamps of Black and Hispanic cowboys to make the point to the ignorant.  (God bless Gauchos and Vaqueros.) I explained to this new acquaintance that Bill Pickett, a Black American featured on a US postage stamp, was the first to introduce bulldogging; she asked what that was and I explained that it was a rodeo sport which evolved into steer wrestling.  I also explained the role of Sephardic Jews and others to cowboy culture.  These facts were of little interest to her.

Yes, I get it that Columbus got his nomenclature of an indigenous culture wrong because he got lost.  And I know he was a merciless brute.  But, I happily remember when Stanford’s mascot wasn’t renamed a tree by sanctimonious students and Prince Lightfoot proudly danced over each yard line.   And, despite the opinion of certain students, not all Native American students or alumni agreed with the name change.

When I proposed that America was better off being owned by Americans, she found the concept to be “jingoistic.” Apparently, Gandhi’s ideas of booting out the Brits and being self-sufficient wouldn’t have gone over well with her either; she explained that she could care less if property was owned by the Chinese, the Saudis or the Russians, as long as she got a small piece of the pie.  She said, in effect, the more foreign money the better.  I suppose that’s the kind of Realpolitik which brings tears of joy to Kissinger’s eyes, but I’m of the opinion that if you don’t own your dirt, you’re headed towards serfdom.  If I chronicled how many cities have flipped from a majority of owners to a majority of renters, you’d understand the real underlying cause of why America is evolving into Amerika.  Property rights have been throttled to where owners can no longer build to higher and better use; to heck with free market economics: Wise Bureaucrats Know Better.

My new acquaintance also railed about the lineage of old white male US presidents and took comfort in taking them down one at a time, a bald reference, I suppose, to the multi-racial Obama being elected, and perhaps a nod to Queen Hillary being robbed from her rightful throne and to the sputtering and mad-capped rise of Elizabeth Warren.   Color of skin and age were the real issue, it appeared, not whether a President had the character of Abraham Lincoln or the reputation of Richard Nixon.  If they were old white men, all, apparently, were cut from the same cloth.

To lighten the conversation, I asked her about her children and was told the number; then, I asked their genders and was told that the youngsters currently “identified” as boys.   My first reaction was with a mother like theirs, I had an unequivocal charitable duty to take them hunting so that they could pee on trees and breathe in some helicopter-parent free air.  But, as I say, these are the oddest times, when the Boy Scouts of America are now just the “Scouts” and rural students are no longer allowed to bring their .22 or .410 shotgun to school so that they can go hunting afterwards.

But, these are the times which try men’s souls, where up is down and down is up.  I had received a cajoling corporate email pleading with me (“Count Me In!”) to opt in with respect to questions about my gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, personal pronoun choice and military service.  In addition, a barrage of communications have invited me to celebrate certain months of race and genders and to be an “Ally” to those with different lifestyle preferences.  Gone is the simple concept of diversity being about different ideas; gone is true debate in American culture; taking strategy from the Communist playbook, label, divide and conquer.  PC Amerika and its comrades plow forward: first the Indians and now the cowboys.

Gloves Off

Gloves Off

Why California Politics Have Changed

by Peter Coe Verbica, President
California Congress of Republicans

California politics have changed, but not for reasons that you might think.  If boxing is a tough sport, welcome to the MMA cage match known as California politics.  If you don’t have time to finish this article, I’ll cut to the punch line: Higher housing prices and higher rent equals less Republicans. The number of Republicans in California is inversely correlative to the price of housing.  As more and more Californians become oppressed renters, due to a lack of housing supply, they’re more prone to vote for policies which penalize owners.  Interested in more Republicans in California?  Reform land use!  The rest is hogwash.  Today’s problem has only been 80 years in the making.

(Chart source:

For years, boxing was bound by the bare-knuckled “London Prize Ring Rules.”  These were subsequently replaced by the “Marquess of Queensberry Rules,” first written by John Graham Chambers in 1865, and endorsed by boxing patron and sportsman John Douglas, the Ninth Marquess of Queensberry.  Thanks to California’s governor, raised by the silver-back political wolves by the names of Pelosi, Brown and Feinstein and an unbridled Democrat-run legislation, the gloves are off.  It’s pure blood sport and not for faint of heart.  Who would have thought that so many aging hippies who hated “the man” would be such rabid advocates for the degradation of basic liberties?
While the rules of boxing have evolved, the rules of California politics have devolved.  If the stakes of boxing matches are high, the stakes in politics are higher.  A single fighter may fall to the canvas, but in politics, generations are either damned or liberated by who wins or loses.  The California Republican Party is in a death-match.  The old rules have been scuttled.  The greatest irony: California Republicans wear the white hat and sit high in the saddle.  California Republicans, male or female, gay or straight, old or young, of color or white as a lily, are the “good guys.” Why?  These brave souls stand for principles such as lower taxes, cheaper housing, quality jobs, better education and, the strangest concept of all — reason.  Californian Republicans demand their tax money is spent on outlandish projects normally under the purview of government: roads, water, fire protection.  Not slow trains to nowhere.  Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland looking glass world where up is down and down is up.

As Reagan reminds us, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”  Great wisdom and yet, it’s a fact that Republicans don’t get a fair shake in the press; even back in 2014, the Washington Post announced, “Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago.”[i]

So, as the California Democrat Party refuses to build any new reservoirs, despite its population boom, and builds boondoggle trains to nowhere, and chokes housing supply despite demand, we could compile a quick list of some of their dirty tricks; lately, that’s an easy thing to do.  Here are just a few examples:

  1. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s nefarious mislabeling of Proposition 6’s repeal of the gas tax initiative.[ii]
  2. Sacramento’s change of law allowing for ballot harvesting, which greatly favors Democrats.[iii]
  3. Widespread voter fraud in California and lax enforcement of the rule of law (“LA County Admits Number of Registered Voters At 144% Of Resident Citizens Of Voting Age”).[iv]
  4. The California Teachers Union’s outsized spending on Democrat campaigns and liberal initiatives which in five and a half election cycles spent ~$118 million as reported back in 2012.[v]  According to the The Atlantic, “The Supreme Court Wednesday dealt a huge blow to public-sector unions and the labor movement in general, ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees do not have to pay fees to unions to cover the costs of collective bargaining.”[vi]  It’s a sad day when teachers have to go all the way to the US Supreme Court to secure their First Amendment rights.
  5. Democrat campaign workers stealing Republican political flyers in Riverside County.[vii]
  6. The so-called fair redistricting measure which uses diabolically subjective tests which can be easily abused. As a friend eloquently states: “And let’s not fool ourselves with this redistricting commission —  we cannot win because the criteria was skewed to put “Communities of Interest” as top criteria – that means lines  can be gerrymandered and still be legitimate because the definition of communities of interest includes sharing the same transportation systems, same media outlets – etc. —  basically the court  can’t rule on a gerrymander because there’s no way to prove the lines violate the rules.”
  7. SB27 which, if unchecked, disallows California voters the right to vote for a Presidential or gubernatorial candidate who doesn’t submit her taxes.[viii]

Dastardly examples to be sure, but I will argue to you that none of these is the main impetus.  Termites have been working on the wood of the structure of the California Republican Party for years.  Let me explain.  The answer is shockingly simple, but the solution will be anything but easy.

Re-Branding is a Fool’s Errand

Before we dig into the problem, let me assure you that re-branding the California Republican Party is a fool’s errand.  Time and time again, one hears about it; pollsters are engaged; consultants do focus groups.  The CAGOP isn’t green enough.  It lets down soccer moms because it’s tone-deaf.  It doesn’t care about diversity or inclusion.  It doesn’t care about seniors.  This is pure, unmitigated hooey.  Don’t fall for any of these.  The overwhelming majority of California Republicans are generous, broad-minded, reasonable, neighborly and want to preserve our great outdoors.  So, while one hears arguments that the California Republican Party needs to be re-branded, don’t be fooled.  Unfortunately, the real issue is more complicated than replacing the shape of CAGOP bottles and spiffing its package design.  This isn’t a Coca-Cola® versus Pepsi® issue.  If only life were that easy.

Middle Class Californians are Leaving in Droves

We hear of middle-class Californians leaving in droves; without a doubt, many of them are Republicans; Len Ramirez reported this trend in his report, “San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus of Residents” on KPIX, a CBS affiliate.  U-Haul franchises are having trouble getting their trucks back because most of the traffic seems to be one-way; cities of choice are reportedly Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta and Nashville.  Those leaving cite crowding, the cost of housing and increased crime.[ix]

Density as a Predictor

Back to the people voting Republican or Democrat.  Let’s step back for a moment and look at one of the major predictors of how someone is going to vote: density.  A rural voter will typically vote Republican and an urban voter will typically vote Democrat.  It’s a high correlation, as explained by Justin Davidson in his article, “Cities Vs. Trump, Red state, blue state? The urban-rural divide is more significant.”[x]

Epiphany!  The High Cost of Housing and the Subsequent Decline of Ownership

Why is density such a great predictor of how someone is going to vote?  Is it race or education?  Those red neck “deplorables” referred by the urbane and gentile Obama?  The real reason for the decline of the Republican Party struck me with unnerving clarity this past year, like a sledgehammer to a bronze church bell.  The reverberations of the revelation animated my being.  It was extraordinarily obvious, but like most California Republicans, I’ve been a lobster in a pot.  The heat of the water had gradually increased to a boil, but I was too busy swimming to notice.  Take a look at the chart at the beginning of this article on California housing affordability: it’s only been 80 years in the making!  Behold the obvious: those who live in rural areas are more apt to own their residence.  Entitlement subsidies and regulation compliance are more likely to fall upon an owner’s back.  The issue is compounded in California.  Ironic that a state which seeks to lowers barriers to immigration also makes little effort to address the supply side imbalance, isn’t it?

As the number of Republicans have declined in Californian, so too have the number of homeowners.  The trend is well-documented in a ftJournal article entitled, “California’s low homeownership rate to continue,” which came out on March 28, 2019.  The article notes that “California’s homeownership rate typically falls around 10 percentage points below the national average…”[xi]

The article continues to explain how in major metropolitan areas, the percentage of homeowners can be dramatically less.

And, the trend is nationwide for large urban areas.  According to an article in RentCafe, “The population of almost a quarter of the 100 largest US cities has changed from homeowner- to renter-majority between 2006 and 2016.”[xii]  Articles in the US, Canada and Australia are sounding alarm bells that these nations are transitioning from a nation of owners to a nation of serfs.

To reiterate, the epiphany is this: as the number of homeowners in California has dropped, so too have the percentage of Republicans; the low number of Republicans is, therefore, inversely correlative to the high cost of housing in the State.  While politicians virtue-signal with “living wage” regulations, what isn’t addressed is the biggest drain on the majority of Californians’ budgets: the cost of housing.  According to the California Budget and Policy Center, “Californians in All Parts of the State Pay More Than They Can Afford for Housing;” a huge percentage of these households have housing expenses in excess of 30% of their budget (also known as “cost burdened”).[xiii]

Wonder why other urban areas vote Democrat across the country?  Here’s why: they’ve flipped from a majority owning their homes, to a majority renting their homes!

Let Us Take Off our Gloves and Pick Up a Lance

In California, the supply problem is exacerbated by two main factors: the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and onerous zoning regulations.  It’s time to face these demons head on, the way St. George might seek to slay a dragon.  Unless we do, the number of Republicans will continue to dwindle in California as the opportunity for ownership wanes.  Re-branding the CAGOP won’t help.

CEQA and Abuse of Process

Jennifer Hernandez, Esq. is an attorney who specializes in CEQA litigation and has done extensive review of cases which have obstructed new construction projects; she explains that even avowed liberals recognize the harm CEQA has done to the State of California:

“As CEQA critic Governor Brown has explained, over the past four decades the courts have issued hundreds of judicial interpretations of CEQA that have morphed this great environmental law into a “blob” of contradictions and uncertainty—often misshapen, misused, mismanaged and, as shown by this study, used to thwart important environmental policies like climate change.”[xiv]

The impact of the problem was documented in “California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences” by legislative analyst, Mac Taylor:

“We also find that building activity in California’s coastal metros has been significantly lower than in metros outside of California that have similar desirable characteristics—such as temperate weather, coastal proximity, and economic growth—and, therefore, likely have similar demand for housing.”[xv]

In the report, he observes that among the hardest hit are lower income families who are burdened with exorbitant rents; these individuals are those who the Democratic party successfully panders too, despite tax and regulatory policies which oppress these constituents.  A cruel irony indeed.

Zoning Laws and NIMBYs

The New York Times’ opinion columnist, Farhad Manjoo, in his article, “America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.” states that restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY-ism is a “sort of nakedly exclusionary urban restrictionism is a particular shame of the left.”  He chronicles “increasingly unlivable cities” and castigates liberal Democrat State Senator Anthony Portantino for shelving SB 50, which would reportedly create more housing by loosening zoning restrictions.[xvi]

Municipalities have used zoning restrictions to keep down new housing inventory which would drive down housing prices and rents; these bureaucracies have also perfected a rarely checked practice of extorting developers out of high fees, rather than seek to balance their own city, county and school budgets, and migrate away from high cost defined benefit retirement plans to defined compensation plans which are utilized now by a majority of private and public companies.  Of course, higher fees are always passed down to the consumers – the buyers and renters of the housing inventory.

One of the few exceptions to this unchecked and unbridled ad hoc administrative usury was Chop Keenan’s win against the town of Half Moon Bay which was hit with a $36.8 million dollar judgement for its unsavory practices.

For the California Republican Party to succeed, it needs to be part of the solution which cracks open the ownership opportunity for more Californians.  Examples of white knights which come to mind are the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Fair Education Santa Barbara Inc.

The California Republicans need to take on the forces which are choking housing supply and demand the reformation of CEQA and zoning laws in the state.  The State of California’s government should focus on improving its infrastructure, including reservoirs, bridges, aqueducts and roads, as well as reforming its strategies of fire prevention (controlled burns, grazing, intelligent timber harvesting).   As Reagan eloquently states, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

Republicans!  The gloves are off.  What are you doing about land use?  How are you helping more Californians have access to affordable home ownership?  What are you doing to increase supply?

[i] “Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago” by Chris Cillizza (Washington Post, May 6, 2014).

[ii] “Gas Tax Opponents Target California’s Anti-Trump AG Over Ballot Manipulation” by Chris White (Daily Caller, October 29, 2018).

[iii] “Exclusive–Election Fraud Expert: California’s Ballot Harvesting Favored Democrats” by John Binder (Breitbart, November 30, 2018).

[iv] “LA County Admits Number Of Registered Voters At 144% Of Resident Citizens Of Voting Age” by Tyler Durden (ZeroHedge, August 6, 2017).

[v] “Top 100 donors influence California campaigns most” by Coulter Jones and Elizabeth Titus (SFGate, June 4, 2012).

[vi] “Is This the End of Public-Sector Unions in America?” by Alana Semuels (The Atlantic, June 27, 2018).

[vii] “Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes Campaign Worker Caught on Video” (Republican Club of Riverside County, June 3, 2018).

[viii] “California to Trump: Release your taxes or you’re barred from the primary ballot,” by Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2019)

[ix] “San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus Of Residents” by Len Ramirez (KPIX, CBS affiliate, February 8, 2018).

[x] “Cities Vs. Trump, Red state, blue state? The urban-rural divide is more significant” by Justin Davidson (NY Magazine, April 17, 2017).

[xi] “California’s low homeownership rate to continue” by ftJournal editorial staff (ftJournal, March 28, 2019).

[xii] “Renters Became the Majority Population in 22 Big US Cities” (RentCafe, January 25, 2018).

[xiii] California Budget and Policy Center, Fact Sheet, September 2017.

[xiv] “New CEQA Study Reveals Widespread Abuse of Legal Process by ‘Non-Environmentalists’” by Jennifer Hernandez, Esq., December 21, 2015.

[xv] “California High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences” by Mac Taylor, March 17, 2015.

[xvi] “America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.” by Farhad Manjoo (New York Times, May 22, 2019).