Political Fix (1 January, 2015)

Farmersville Makes Local History

The little guys in Tulare County continue to make history. Last month, it was Exeter and Lindsay who had sworn in a female majority to their city councils. Now in Farmersville, possibly the youngest council member ever to be elected in the county took office December 8. At only 22 years old, Freddy Espinoza was sworn in along with two other new members, completing the Farmersville’s 2015 facelift.

According to the Foothills Sun-Gazette, “Freddy Espinoza, Jr. pulled off the surprise of this years’ local elections when he defeated Leonel Benavides’ bid for a fourth straight term, 371 to 370.”

It seems that Mr. Benavides was caught in an anti-establishment movement in Farmersville as many residents were hoping for a changing of the guard. As a former mayor, Mr. Benavides was seen as the figurehead of a dysfunctional council that couldn’t get out from under the petty politics.

Mr. Espinoza is a Farmersville native who got the local vote out with his Facebook page and his community involvement. He is active in the Farmersville Parent Teachers Association, a member of the Farmersville Kiwanis Club, and is president of the newly formed Farmersville Chamber of Commerce. Espinoza’s connection with the PTA stems from his working as a DJ at Farmersville High School events since he graduated in 2011.

In a Liberal State, Being a Democrat Is Not Enough

No one has actually come out and said it, but it’s not enough that the assembly, senate, and all statewide offices are held by Democrats. The trend in the California legislature is to favor the liberal Democrats. The California State Assembly comprises of 80 members–52 Democrats to 28 Republicans. It hardly even matters that the Democrats no longer hold a supermajority. It only takes a simple majority to pass a bill and have the Democratic governor to sign it to advance the liberal agenda.
According to the Fresno Bee, “The more liberal, largely urban contingent that makes up the bulk of the Assembly’s Democratic caucus can do its work almost unhindered by not only Republicans, but also moderate Democrats.”

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins just announced her appointments to her floor team that make up the assembly leadership positions. All the positions, from Majority Floor Leader to Assistant Majority Whip, are from the liberal metropolitan areas of Southern or Northern California. Speaker Atkins did not appoint any one to her team from Central or upper Northern California.

The fact that it is no longer good enough in the state’s legislature to be a Democrat puts our Central Valley Democrats in a precarious position. Being elected in a generally conservative area, our Democrats, such as Rep. Jim Costa and Assemblyman Henry Perea are seen as moderates. Will this be one more reason for our area to be ignored?

The Crazy Train

More than 1,300 trains around the world carry passengers at a minimum of 186 miles per hour in a convenient, efficient and environmentally friendly system. Guess how many of those trains travel on the tracks in the most developed country in the world? Zero. The home of the first moon landing and founder of the internet can’t seem to get it together to make a fast train.

California is trying to change that embarrassing fact. The initial operating segment of the first high speed rail in the United States will run between Merced and Burbank and should be operating by 2022.

The High-Speed Rail will not only be a economic boon for the Central Valley but for all of California. According to the Fresno Bee, “Federal Law requires that the trains and all their components be American-made. That means that the company that ultimately wins the contract (to build the train cars) must establish a manufacturing plant in the U.S., as well as an American parts supply chain. California also has its own ‘Buy California’ legislation on the books requiring the state rail authority to ‘make every effort to purchase high-speed train rolling stock and related equipment that are manufactured in California.’”

California may have some competition when it comes to making history. Texas is now threatening to be the first to construct a HSR line between Dallas and Houston. According to Reuters, “The Texas Central Railway Company plans to use private investment and Central Japan Railway bullet train technology to run a line between two of the largest U.S. cities. Company officials say service could begin in 2021. ‘If we can’t do it in Texas, I don’t know where in the United States you could do it,’ said Richard Lawless, chairman and chief executive officer of Texas Central Railway, a private company set up about four years ago to build high-speed rail.”

If the Central Valley can quit biting the hand that feeds it, California can beat Texas in building the first HSR. At first glance, all the lawsuits against HSR seem to be a hindrance. But according to Dan Richard, chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, HSR is having an easy time of it compared to many projects of the past. 2,300 lawsuits were filed to prevent the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the California Water Project came within a single vote of not getting through the legislature at all.

Little by little, the lawsuits are dropping away and now the California High-Speed Rail Authority is hosting a ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno on January 6, 2015. Who will be there and the exact location has not been divulged. The only thing for certain is this groundbreaking will make history throughout the United States and hopefully California won’t let the execution capital of the country beat them to it.

Bush Takes the Lead – But Does He?

According to Bloomberg Politics, a recent poll came out that puts Jeb Bush comfortably ahead of a large field of Republican contenders for the presidential nomination in 2016. “CNN/ORC poll released Sunday shows the former Florida governor as the clear frontrunner for his party’s nomination, with 23% support among Republicans across the country.” These numbers suggest that many more Americans seriously consider Mr. Bush a candidate since he made an official announcement that he was actively exploring a run for the presidency.

The article continued, “That’s a significant margin over other potential GOP candidates eyeing the field, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who received 13% support among Republicans. Conservative speaker Ben Carson came in third with 7%, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky close behind, pulling 6% apiece. All other potential candidates received 5% or less.”

Two questions emerge from this poll: How would Mr. Bush do in a contest against Mitt Romney, and who the heck is Ben Carson?

Former presidential candidate Romney has consistently done better in the polls than all other potential Republican candidates. But is it real, or would Mr. Romney’s popularity plummet the minute he threw his hat into the race? This seems to be a major concern of Mr. Bush’s also, and can only be answered when he makes his candidacy official. The same could be said of the trepidation many Democrats feel surrounding the pending official announcement by Hilary Clinton.

Ben Carson is a doctor who was raised in Detroit, Michigan and practiced medicine at John Hopkins Medical Center. Republicans can cross out the prospect of Dr. Carson ever winning the nomination. Mr. Bush, the “reader,” already pushes the envelope on allowable intelligent quotient for a Republican candidate. Dr. Carson is, quite frankly, off the charts. He is a six-time bestselling author and a pediatric neurosurgeon who was the lead doctor in separating conjoined twins at the back of their skull. Someone of his intellect is not going to tow the wing-nut party line against evolution or climate change. Senator Ted Cruz also pushes the envelope, but he tempers his intellect with a good dose of crazy–so he fits fight in.

Mr. Bush is expected to continue actively exploring the possibility of running for president and will announce later this year.

Cuba Libre

The definition of insanity is when you repeat the same action over and over and expect a different result. That has been the United States’ strategy over the last 54 years concerning Cuba.

In an editorial written in the Miami Herald, the Cuban embargo is described as a fossilized flop. It goes on to say that the embargo is indefensibly hypocritical as the United States does business with communist dictatorships in China and Vietnam. Then there is our stand on Cuba’s violations of human rights. Where was our embargo on Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak or Saudi Arabia, where a woman is not even allowed to drive or leave the house by herself? Those guys were and are America’s best friends.

The purpose of isolating Cuba with an embargo was to force them to convert from communism to a democracy, which is like comparing apples to oranges. Communism is an economic model and democracy is political system. Little Havana in Miami would authentically love to see Cubans have the same freedoms Americans enjoy, but the United States government could not care less. Our government didn’t care 55 years ago and it doesn’t care now. Dictatorship? Who cares? The United States wants Cuba to open its markets to the United States and all other foreign investors and become capitalist again. That can happen just as easily, sometimes even easier, with a dictatorship.

United States absolutely loved Cuba pre-1959. It was America’s party central to indulge in everything they couldn’t do back home, such as gambling, prostitution, shelter income. Each country had full-functioning embassies on each other’s shore and few market regulations gave American corporations a free hand. Does anyone remember Cuba’s elected president? No, because there was none. Cuba was run by Fulgencio Batista, a brutal dictator, and we loved him.

So what is really behind United States irrational obsession with Cuba for the last half century? It’s not that we don’t like dictatorships, it’s that we don’t like Cuba’s dictators, the Castros. Cuba not only went Communist, but a country smaller than the size of Pennsylvania, kicked America’s ass. Fidel Castro not only survived numerous assassination attempts but thwarted several plots by the CIA to overthrow the Cuban government. And despite the complete embargo,the country has experienced some level of success in providing its people with medical care and an education.

Now that we have a president who was born after the Cuban revolution, it’s time for the United States to do a little foreign affairs house cleaning. So while the residents of little Havana in Miami protest President Obama’s opening relations with Cuba, the residents of the real Havana are pouring out into the streets and celebrating President Obama’s new policies. Funny, because they were exactly the people who the embargo was supposed to liberate.

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