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Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category



CA Democrats Shape Their Future This Weekend

Friday, May 19th, 2017

baumanellisBy Steve Maviglio
Special to Calbuzz
With a Few Notes

Between attending the “Nasty Women and Bad Hombres” and “Fueling the Resistance” hospitality suites, the 3,300 delegates pulling their bumper-sticker decorated Priuses into Sacramento this weekend for the California Democratic Party convention will be in engaged in a sharply contested battle over the future of the party on multiple fronts that could have widespread implications for the 2018 statewide elections, and perhaps even national efforts to win back the House and Senate.

The much-loved and much-cursing CDP Chairman John Burton and his top-flight operations team have been adept at striking a balance between party pragmatists and purists. The proof of their success is in their electoral legacy: Democrats have topped the eight million mark in registered voters, swept the state’s top offices, hold a super-majority in the Legislature, and are organizationally and financially strong – a stark contrast to the national Democratic Party, whose new chairman Tom Perez, will address the California jamboree on Saturday.

But that apparently isn’t enough for some. Consider this eye-rolling assessment of the state’s Democrats in the LA Times  by Bernie Sanders supporter Joey Aszterbaum of Hemet, “It’s the party of Arnold Schwarzenegger Democrats.”

Aszterbaum is not atypical of many of the delegates. Small wonder then that the state’s most popular elected officials, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Jerry Brown (who is attending a family reunion we’re told), decided to skip the convention.

Yet despite their absence, there will be plenty of theater.

Here’s what to watch:

burtoncropElection for Chief Cat Herder –Long-time CDP Vice-Chair and LA Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman is in a battle with upstart Kimberly Ellis in a race that will control the party’s apparatus. That’s a bigger deal than it might seem; campaign finance laws have made political parties the major drivers of coordinated campaigns, legislative races, and even initiative campaigns. Bauman has the support of nearly every elected leader and legislator, key unions, and has spent the last four years visiting Democratic clubs in the remote corners of the state. Ellis, despite her firm backing of Hillary Clinton for president, has gained traction from some Sanders supporters. The vote is expected to be close. And remember: this isn’t a secret ballot. Anything can happen.

(Editor’s Note: Delegates will have to decide whether they want their party’s resources and energies managed by a professional who has risen through the ranks and dedicated his life to electing Democrats. Or not. Let’s hope they make a smart choice — which Lite Gov. Gavin Newsom failed to do by endorsing BOTH candidates. Sheesh.)

Anti-Trump Applause-O-Meter – Our CDP drinking game? Taking a swig anytime mentions impeachment (bummer Auntie Maxine won’t be in the house). We’d use a lower threshold of condemnation but we’d probably be drunk after Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s introductory remarks. (Note: Watch, between shots, and listen to see if anyone has a plan for a “Sister District” program of recruiting volunteers from blue Congressional districts to work to elect Democrats in neighboring red districts.)

schiffThe Man of the Moment – The Sacramento Bee described Congressman Adam Schiff as perhaps “Trump’s biggest nemesis.”  Watch to see how much (Note: if any) red meat the understated Schiff, who typically avoids partisan bashing, throws to party activists at the Saturday night dinner.

Musical Chairs – Will Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon run for Governor? Will Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones throw in the towel in his race for AG and switch to a more winnable LG race? Will Tom Steyer donate time and energy into being a candidate instead of pouring millions into voter registration and initiatives? Look for this convention to answer some of those questions.

Gubernatorial Warm Up –  The convention will be the first test of strength for Horseshoe wannabes. LG Newsom is the darling of the lefties who dominate the convention. But perhaps more interesting will be the performance of the other candidates. Will Treasurer John Chiang deliver a barn-burning speech? (Note: That would be truly astonishing.) Will Antonio Villaraigosa have a Sister Souljah moment by reveling in the results of Tuesday’s LA School Board elections and make a passionate pitch for charter schools and education reform? Will Delaine Eastin get more than a polite response? We shall see.

The X Factor – Newly-appointed Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been leading the state’s legal charge against Trump, is a virtual unknown to most delegates. The rising star will need to make an impressive splash at the convention to deter a challenge from his expected challenger, tenacious Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

New Kids on the Block – With Gov. Brown (79), Sen. Feinstein (83), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (77) in the dusk of their political service, the convention is the place for new stars to shine. My money is on Sen. Kamala Harris to rock the house, hoping to fuel speculation that she should be taken seriously for a White House bid in 2020. (Insert Calbuzz eye roll here) Also, pay attention to the speeches and organizational strength of a few others who want to climb the electoral ladder, including Controller Betty Yee, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and BOE Member Fiona Ma.

Calbuzz, pulled away by family commitments, will not be covering the convention or even hosting our infamous Hackenflack Dinner. Thanks for this advance from our old friend Steve Maviglio, a Democratic consultant and former press secretary for Gov. Gray Davis.

Wannabe Guv Chiang: “Stronger Financial Future”

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Chiang-72xToday Calbuzz presents the fourth in our occasional series of interviews with contenders for governor in 2018. We’re starting with this stuff early, given both the clear and present danger President Hair Boy poses to the state and the huge political vacuum to be left by the departure of Gov. Gandalf, the most successful state chief executive since his father a half century ago. Our previous interviews with Antonio Villaraigosa, Delaine Eastin and Tom Steyer may be found in our priceless archive here, here and here.

In running for governor, California Treasurer John Chiang understandably promotes his deep experience with state finances and mastery of policy detail – but seriously struggles when asked for a clear and simple rationale for his candidacy.

When we interviewed Chiang, speaking on his cell while being driven from Fresno to Bakersfield, Calbuzz asked a question we pose to everyone running – tell us what the bumper sticker slogan is for your campaign.

bumperstickerWhat’s the message?

Calbuzz: If you had to sum up, what your campaign is about, you know, in a headline, three to five words, what would it say?

Chiang: I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?

CB: Yeah, I said if you summed up, what your campaign is about, you know, as a headline, in three to five words or so what would it be?

Chiang: That building a stronger…building a stronger financial foundation to create a better future for all Californians. Sorry that’s way over five!

CB: But we’ll send it over to the copy desk and see what they can do.

In the interview, the 54-year old Chiang spoke knowledgeably and in great detail about specific programs and policies, from housing and health care to pensions and taxes – “it gets technical,” he even reminded us at one point. By the time the interview ended, however – after exegesis about the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Authority, the Department of Labor rule on secured choice, and the work of the National Association of State Treasurers – we still were unclear on how Chiang foresees transforming his strengths as a behind-the-scenes technocratic policy nerd into a dynamic campaign personality.

The full transcript, edited for punctuation and clarity, is below; Here are a couple of key points:

Donald-Trump-as-Julius-CaesarTrump. Chiang was very cautious in criticizing the 46 percent 45th President of the United States. In sharp contrast to the leaders of the Legislature or even Brown, who has maintained a more balanced, paddle-to-the-right, paddle-to-the-left approach with his rhetoric, Chiang chose instead to reference “unintended consequences” of some of Trump’s most radical policies, like tax reform and repealing Obamacare. When we asked what he would do as governor if Trump sought to nationalize the California National Guard to militarize his immigration deportation policies, Chiang said he “would be engaged in very active conversations with President Trump and let him know, you know, I’m not supportive.” That’ll show him.

Health care. Chiang said that he is supportive of “universal coverage…as a concept” for Californians. More immediately, he said he would use “multiple approaches” to continue to cover state residents, in the event Trump and congressional Republicans cut Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies, perhaps including using some of the rainy day reserve and “thoroughly reviewing various funding sources” such as special funds in the state budget.

Immigration. Chiang said he “support(s) a sanctuary state” and would implement policies and procedures to ensure that state and local law enforcement “aren’t doing the feds’ job” in terms of investigating or identifying the immigration status of those who are arrested. With unspecified exceptions for “murder or some kind of violent activity like that” his intention as governor would be to “stop federal activity in California,” he said.

Climate change. Chiang suggested that California could sidestep efforts by Trump to reverse efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, in part, by creating a “green bond market” in which the state would back bond sales aimed at providing substantial funding “to finance clean infrastructure and green infrastructure” projects.

jerrygandalfThe incumbent. When we asked Chiang what he would do differently than Jerry Brown, he mildly credited the governor with doing “great work” in some areas, but said he would “elevate a lot of that work” and “keep pushing it” by focusing on a greater “level of detail.” When we asked for an example, he spoke of using technology to ensure low-income Californians know they are eligible for a special tax credit so they can “get their five thousand dollars back into their pocket.”

“I am effective, I get the job done,” Chiang said. “And I do care, I care a damn lot.”

Here’s the play-by-play for junkies:

whyCalbuzz: So we just like to always start by asking a pretty simple question, which is: why do you want to be Governor?

John Chiang: Oh, I just feel incredibly blessed, you know, America gave my parents the best opportunities possible, they immigrated from Taiwan and I want to make sure that my six god-children live in the state that provides them with the best opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

CB: And what would that mean, as a practical matter?

JC: A great education, access to housing, the best opportunities, sort of that old Harvard study, you take a low income child, put them in a community that has higher opportunities, they will perform nearly as well as the wealthy kid. So, you know, how do we, you know, you are this child of immigrant parents from Taiwan, and you know, your parents worked hard, and they get you into this middle-class neighborhood, you meet (Insurance Commissioner) Dave Jones in high school, and thus end up doing pretty well.

CB: What are you going to do different than Jerry Brown?

JC: We will continue to focus on accountability and transparency, getting people involved in the school districts, a lot of the work I did, I just get deeply involved in communities when I was at the Board of Equalization.

I think I was one of the first people to do free income taxes for middle income and low income individuals, you know, how to help them make their daily finances work. You know I was the first elected official to do nonprofit seminars, if you want to address the people who are changing and transforming communities and the people they serve. So a lot of those types of connections, you know.

Be audited…not because, you know, we’re trying to, you know, take people out but you want to make sure that you have sound finances. If you have sound finances in local communities like where I grew up, you can have good public safety, could have access to the park, you could have access to libraries, but how do we make sure that the governance is this strong in California from state to local level.

CB: You think Brown hasn’t done that?

JC: Oh no, he has done that but the level of detail we’re going to, we’re going to keep, we’re going to keep pushing it. But (tax filing assistance) hasn’t been done, that traditionally hasn’t been done out of the governor’s office.

But I’ve done that on other agencies, having that background in building those partnerships, we’re going to make sure that. We try to elevate a lot of that work. The governor did great work, for instance, when I see the income taxes credits… but I want to look at what will work, and we’ll start technology to make sure that those California families that qualify for that income tax credit, that can get them, up to their five thousand plus dollars back into their pocket.

CB: If you had to sum up what, you know, what your campaign is about, would be about it, in a headline of three to five words what would it say?

JC: I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?

CB: Yeah, I said if you summed up, what your campaign is about, you know, as a headline, in three to five words or so, what would it be?

JC: That building a stronger, building a stronger financial foundation to create a better future for all Californians. Sorry that’s way over five!

CB: That’s more than five words.

CB: But we will send it over to the copy desk and see what they can do. We’ll figure it all out for you. Don’t worry about that.

What would be your approach to the Trump administration, particularly today, given that there was a (White House) budget being proposed, and the threat that they represent on immigration and health care and climate change and other issues? Do you think the legislature is taking the right approach by being very aggressive, and using a lot of strong rhetoric?

JC: I would think a comprehensive approach might be, you don’t have one solution. Because of all of our challenges, I’ll give you multiple examples. Number one. to the number you know Donald Trump (put out on tax cuts) early on, I don’t think he understood the consequences when he put out the…you know, the comments about reducing the tax brackets and reducing the highest marginal rate to the affordable housing financing market upside down in California.

So I tried to help the repair the financing market. I chair the Affordable Housing Tax Credit authorities in the state of California. One of the authorities yesterday took action to give both – the for-profit and nonprofit affordable housing developers more time to try to finance their projects.

It gets technical but it’s important because we care about affordable housing, we’re one and a half million units short in California. But, by reducing, I talked about reducing the highest marginal tax bracket, it reduces the pricing of tax credits. So, affordable housing development that used to pay a dollar, dollar fifteen for credit, we’re getting ninety to ninety-five cents for credit which created a gap in their ability to start to finance, or start building affordable housing because they didn’t have sufficient funds. If they didn’t start building on time, they could have been assessed negative points and get kicked out of the affordable housing program because we don’t want developers getting the tax support and not building your houses.

But we understood that this was an unintended consequence of President Trump’s potential policies and we took action to make sure that we protected affordable housing.

But building partnerships that we know that, the Congress is taking action to repeal the Department of Labor rule on secured choice but we want that, we’re going to push on Congress. So pushing back on what they’re trying to do but also building partnerships. So when I was (attending) a few weeks ago the National Association of State Treasurers, we got some of the Democratic and Republican treasurers saying, you know, that we have this retirement security crisis.

Here in California we have seven and a half million residents who work, but their employers don’t provide any type of retirement plan for them and if you have a near-automatic enrolment plan, the likelihood of participating in a retirement plan is fifteen times more likely. So we want to protect women, we want to protect people of color, to make sure that they start saving, and have golden years, you know, when they have sufficient funds.

So that interest in building partnerships, bipartisan partnerships to try to work with Congress and the Administration so they don’t take action that is detrimental to innovative new programs. For instance, and with the Affordable Health Care Act, sort of, like what I did in the Controller’s office where we had financial challenges, I am, I have my staff thoroughly reviewing various funding sources to try to find possible money to create a lifeline, in the event that the various health care facilities no longer have the funding to provide the essential services to people with the greatest need.

So, multiple approaches.

CB: So are you suggesting that the state would pick up the tab if Trumpcare or Ryancare goes through and people lose their medical insurance in California? The state is going to pick up the tab?

JC: Well, not the entire tab, well, not immediately. You’re talking about a loss of, you know, estimates of around eight billion dollars. You know we don’t, we don’t have eight billion dollars sitting on the sidelines or in a rainy-day fund.  But if you look at the governor’s 2017-18 budget, at the end of the year, we are supposed to have a 7.9 billion dollar rainy day fund. There are restrictions on how you can use that money. So we don’t have that money immediately available, but what I am trying to do is, I am trying to search through the past to see at what point in future, you make sure that for some of these programs for those in greatest need to try to find additional funding.

CB:  Where?

JC: I will tell you once we know if we need legislative changes. But to give you an example of what we did in the Controller’s office. So in California that was cash starved, during the 2009 financial crisis that if you remember, in February of 2009, I had to hold back tax refunds for twenty-three days, because we didn’t have enough to pay, money in our state treasury to fully pay off all the tax refunds or later that year when I had to issue four hundred and fifty thousand IOUs to the tune of 2.6 billion dollars to keep California from defaulting on debt.

To make, to make our cash payment I had my staff go through all the special funds to see what we might be able to free up, so that we could meet as many cash obligations back then. And so, we were able to find like another thirty, forty funds…so that we could use those monies for cash purposes. The legislature later used that for budgetary purposes.

CB: As governor, let’s say in the next year, Trump is able to put through his health care program, you come in as governor, a year and a half, two years later. You’ve got millions of people in California who’ve lost their health care. What are you going to do about that? You just can’t go, you’re not going to be able to go find money in special funds to cover that.

JC: Yes, so I was talking about the money and calling on debt as a lifeline for certain programs, and then hopefully, we will have something out in it in the next few weeks, once we can identify what we can do.

And then obviously, for those that are going to be impacted we’re going to have to find other sources of funding or create the funding, based on priority. So we’ll have those very difficult and tough decisions to make, in regards to how do we replace those lost Medicare dollars. Do we continue to provide coverage?

And I would like to see universal coverage to a certain, you know, as a concept for California. Now that we added, you know, four plus million people with Medicare and other million plus through Covered California. You know, what if, can we cover all those individuals, do we cover all those people?  We understand that (perhaps) you cannot offer the same portfolio of coverage, in regards to depth of coverage or do we, are we more focused on taking the people who are most deeply impacted, and affected by healthcare issues?

So those are going to be tough decisions, and as Governor I would examine those propositions and try to figure out what we do. Essentially, we are going to have a re-look at the healthcare system that we have in California.

You know when you think about Japan paying far less per person for their health care, and having a different philosophy of preventative care, the wellness programs, I would like to start that conversation in California.

CB: Let me throw another scenario at you. For example, let’s say Trump, President Trump decides that, he thinks it’s time to nationalize the California, to federalize the California National Guard, to use those troops for border security, what would you do?

JC: Yeah, I would be engaged in very active conversations with President Trump, and let him know, you know, I’m not supportive.

CB: And then what?

JC: Then we will push back aggressively, we’ll see where we go from there. Be engaged in litigation or other things. We’re going to explore every opportunity possible.

CB: Would you allow him to federalize the National Guard?

JC: For immigration purposes?

CB: Yes.

JC: That wouldn’t be something that I would push for.

CB: I know you wouldn’t push for it. How would you stop it?

JC: I would object to it. Well, I would have to check my legal authority but I wouldn’t, that’s not something, I wouldn’t support what he was trying to do.

CB: Do you support Kevin De Leon’s call for California to be a sanctuary state? Do you think that is a good idea on immigration reform? Law enforcement should not co-operate with ICE at all?

JC: I support a sanctuary state. I don’t know all the details of  Kevin’s proposal but he shared a lot of that with me.

We want to stop federal activity in the state of California. We understand the federal government has responsibility in regards to immigration rights , the state doesn’t have those responsibilities. I don’t want to end local government partnership with the feds, but I want to make sure that our local entities aren’t doing the fed’s job.

It is not, it is not the local government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws. But if the feds identify that somebody has committed murder, and they are asking us, for you know, to take up action, when it’s appropriate, might be, I don’t want  to deny that from happening.

CB: So how much do you think local law enforcement should cooperate with the federal immigration authorities?

JC: You know, you have to have set procedures and guidelines in place. So if you have somebody committing, you know, murder or some other type of violent activity like that, I am okay with procedures in place so that local government can make sure that that person is, you know, subject to whatever the proper procedures are, identified.

CB: I read a quote from you, John that said, quote, “We can’t have a brilliant future with an empty wallet.” What does that mean?

JC: Well, we’re going to have to invest. We’re going to have to invest in things that are the highest priority for the state, so you know, whether it’s education, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s building our roads or schools, our bridges, investing in work force development, things that grow the economy.

CB: Well, those are all spending items, so they tend to empty the wallet. So what does it mean, ‘we can’t have a brilliant future without an empty wallet,’ when your solution is to go spend money on education, health care, rebuilding roads and schools, investing in other programs?

JC: Oh yeah, but it’s also about spending, it is about spending money wisely and saving, you know, saving money for the future, such as the rainy-day fund.  Making sure that you are intelligent and you identify the best value for how you use every taxpayer dollar.

CB: Well, but you know what happens is, as soon as a state starts having extra money around, the legislature wants to spend it on ongoing programs. That’s just the way it is. That’s what happened to (Gray) Davis, as you know, with John Burton running the legislature. What would you do as governor? Would you build up the rainy day fund or would you just spend that money on programs and on the quote “investments” that you’re talking about?

JC: Well, you always have to have the rainy-day fund. So I would have a rainy-day fund. We know that humans have not eliminated the business cycle. So we’re going to have good days, we are going to have bad days.

Those monies are going to be spent on a lot of your services and programs, you know, may not be today, but you know that those priorities are very important and in due time, they are going to be spent because we’re not going to have as much money available in the future.

But obviously we’re under-invested in a lot of areas. We are under-invested in infrastructure, our roads and bridges, you know, many of them are in the condition that call out for, great attention and repair, so you want to invest in those types of projects.

CB: What about climate change? I mean aside from, you know. the fact that the head of the EPA doesn’t believe that carbon contributes to climate change. There are also a lot of financial incentives for green industries, green building that involve federal monies. How would you counter that?

JC: Yeah. Well, we know we’re not going to be able to replace everything, but I’m advocating for one, I’ve been trying to establish and develop a green bond market here in the United States of America.

We are ready to sell green bonds, but the advancement hasn’t been as positive as we have witnessed in other places, like Europe has a very well developed market, China aggressively, but less so in the United States, where you don’t have the same type of consistency; issues in regards to transparency, there’s issues in regard to the secondary market, so I would put out a green bond.

I did a (undecipherable) last year, with a socially responsible investor underwriter, broker-dealers, representatives of the investor community to see what we need to do to make sure that we get a good shot of being a bond market. And then I am putting together a couple of international conferences so that we can try to take that step to better enhance any shortcomings identified of being in the bond market, so that people can use that as a tool to finance clean infrastructure and green infrastructure.

CB: You have been very generous with your time. One more thing: what’s the single most important thing you want voters to know about you, when they’re considering, who to vote for. for governor?

JC: That I am effective, that I get, I get the job done.

CB: OK.

JC: And I do care, I care a damn lot.

CB: So I’m going to give you one more shot at your bumper sticker, John. What if you could boil it down to a simple message, what is it you want to say?

JC: Well we’re going to take a different road and move California forward.

CB: A different road?

JC: Yes, different than what President Trump’s doing, different than watching all the yelling and screaming. Something that’s effective, that we make sure that we do the hard work that makes California great.

CB: Fair enough. Thank you. We appreciate your time.

JC: You bet. You are welcome.

PPIC Survey: California Hates Trump, Loves Brown

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

trumpbrownPresident Donald Trump’s approval rating, just 39% nationwide, is an anemic 31% in California, according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California. At the same time, Gov. Jerry Brown, who has sharply criticized Trump on immigration, health care and the environment, enjoys a 58% approval rating at home.

And while Trump has tightened restrictions on travel from majority-Muslim countries and amped up immigration controls at the U.S. border, 58% of Californians disapprove of the president’s travel ban and a whopping 68% of California adults say undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship.

To say California is another country is an understatement.

California Exceptionalism. Trump’s low approval ratings in California, about the same as they were in January, are held up only by the 82% of Republicans who approve of his performance: a staggering 91% of Democrats and 57% of independents disapprove. And while whites (45%) and men (39%) are more likely than women (24%) to approve of Trump, the president does even worse among Latinos (17%) and blacks (16%).

It’s a pathetic showing for the Narcissist in Chief in California where just 26% of voters are registered as Republicans (compared to 45% as Democrats and 24% as independents) and where Democrat Hillary Clinton won the November 2016 popular vote by nearly 3.7 million votes – 8,720,417 to 5,048,398.

abetterlife2Compared to the nearly seven in 10 Californians who say undocumented immigrants should have a legal path to citizenship, just 15% say they should be required to leave. A strong majority of Californians (68%) say that undocumented immigrants living in the US should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship. An overwhelming majority of Democrats (82%) and a solid majority of independents (62%) want a pathway to citizenship. But so too does a plurality of Republicans – 46%

If the Trump administration intends to round up undocumented immigrants and deport them, it will be against the wishes of the people of California, An even larger statewide majority (72%) is opposed to Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern U.S. border, an idea supported by just 25% of California adults.

With his 58% approval rating and with 55% of Californians saying the state is headed in the right direction, Gov. Brown is well positioned to rebuke Trump’s attempts to build his border wall in California or – if he should try it — to use California National Guard troops for border security or immigration control.

Steyer on Being Gov: No Rush to “Make a Decision”

Monday, March 13th, 2017

SteyerHeadshotToday Calbuzz presents the third of our two-on-one interviews with for-sure and possible candidates for California governor in two years. The idea is to give each of them space and running room to express their views in their own words, in details and at length. No worries, we’ll get to the cheap shots and snark down the road.

 Sure there’s a long time between now and 2018, with President Hair Boy presenting an immediate, clear and present danger to the state and nation; what the hell, maybe none of us will be around to cover the race to succeed Jerry Brown anyway, should the Tangerine Flake Baby blow up the Earth.

Because Brown’s has been perhaps the most successful governor since his father, Pat, a half century ago, by virtue of leading the state back from the brink of melt down, 2018 will have extremely high stakes. Voters must pick someone who approaches Gandalf’s experience, judgment and maturity in order to protect that progress; and given our authentic Methuselah statues, better early than never to take in a look at the possibilities.

running-icon-hiHe’s running! Or not. Tom Steyer vigorously insists he has not decided whether to run for governor in 2018, and for now we take him at his word.

But in talking in detail with him about the politics of 2016, and repeatedly pressing him on his possible gubernatorial ambitions, one thing became clear: if he decides to run, he’ll start the campaign with the strongest grassroots organization and the most readily available financial resources (his own) among the field.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” Steyer answered when we asked him “Why do you want to be governor?” our standard first question in this series of interviews (which, in his case, was just an old, old cheap reporter trick). “Well, as I said after I flunked math in the first grade, let me answer your question as if you’d asked me a fair question.”

actnowHe’s no dabbler. Unlike other successful mega-rich guys with political enthusiasm – hello Al Checchi, Bill Simon and eMeg Whitman – the 59-year old hedge fund manager is not a dilettante seeking to jump into the political trade at the top of the ladder. Not only have he and his wife decided to donate half their fortune to worthy causes, but he’s paid some political dues — contributing millions to progressive causes, helping pass a batch of initiatives that have sent big revenues into the state budget and, as the founder of NextGen Climate, overseen big voter registration and door-to-door campaigns in California and across the country.

“The No. 1 issue facing California right now is our relationship with the federal government,” Steyer told us, noting Trump’s travel ban and immigration, environment and economic policies as direct threats.

“The idea that they would try and move to a system that would remove $20 billion in health care money from the state of California! That’s why I’m saying it’s critical that we go outside of California to make our case because this is an administration that’s coming after us,” he warned.

“What we are trying to do, as a result of Nov. 8, is to figure out as best we can how to both organize Americans to actively resist the Trump agenda and the Trump administration and at the same time work for all the progress that we’d hoped we could have assuming a different outcome on Nov. 8.,” Steyer said.

deportDidn’t see it coming. “And so, did we think we were going to have to do the first half of that on Nov. 7th? We absolutely did not. And so we’ve been trying to figure out how to adapt what we did in 2016 and the grassroots stuff we did with a communications strategy to basically keep Americans civically informed, engaged and participating on a real time basis. And that is something we did not think was going to be our job description…

Yeah, sure, but are you running for governor or not?

“I don’t think I have to make a decision right now, but anything I decide to do personally is going to have to support what I described to you and make us more effective at doing it and amplify it. Because I think it is hard to overestimate the threat that this administration and the Republican entourage pose for Americans.”

In a telephone interview that mercifully did not require us to leave our dual headquarters in Aptos and Santa Barbara, where we have our fingers squarely on the political pulse of California, Steyer was direct, knowledgeable and high-energy or, more precisely, hyper-caffeinated.

“You have no idea how wound up I am in terms of the threat to this state and this country,” he said.

In key elements of his ebullient rap, Steyer:

Warned that the state cannot adopt a “fortress California” policy towards Trump. He said California should use litigation as a front-line defense, along with the Senate filibuster and whatever other meager tools are available to power-deficient Democrats. “If we get into a prolonged fight with the federal government, they’re going to do things to us that hurt a lot; in particular they’re going to punish us for standing up.”

Bragged on the performance of NextGen and its dozens of political partners in 2016, ticking off a list of numerical accomplishments appropriate for a Silicon Valley guy obsessed with metrics: “We were in California, we did a huge registration drive, 800,000 people, we did a big GOTV drive, worked on 22 local measures and 13 statewide props, including co-chairing the $2-a-pack cigarette tax, we were on 370 college campuses talking to people on mostly climate issues, and we went to 11 million houses door-to-door in the United States, talking about a broader group of issues including environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice and schools with five organized labor partners.” Whew.

Tut tutted at Hillary Clinton’s campaign for “completely inaccurate polling data (and) “really faulty information,” which led to fatal over-confidence in its standing in key Midwestern states, while also fingering the Democratic National Committee for utterly failing to mount any on-the-ground organizational effort: “I think the DNC last year, in 2016, did not have a grassroots presence. Full stop.”

Offered a clear but complex analysis of the strategy he believes Democrats must set in motion going forward, a thoroughly grassroots operation that links the issues of climate change, jobs and health and environmental justice: “When we think about clean energy, when we think about climate, we have to do it in the context of a broader suite of issues.”

Bashed the Trump Administration as a bastion of elitist, radical right wing white male privilege, uncaring and dismissive of the needs of ordinary Americans: “They have nominated and successfully gotten through a bunch of radical and unfit people for the cabinet (and) if the American people are not engaged, if the American public does not speak up…we don’t lose to this administration and their country club, we don’t lose to these guys because people agree with them, we lose if people acquiesce and are passive and let them do what they want.”

Come to think of it, maybe we’re asking the wrong question about Steyer eyeing the Capitol horseshoe; maybe he’s looking to take on Trump in 2020.

steyerfingerHere’s a transcript of the relevant parts of the interview.

Q: Can we get rid of Trump?

A: To impeach a president, the House of Representatives have to vote to impeach him and the Senate has to convict him. And we’re very, very, very far from that.

Q: Would Pence be better?

A: When Paul Ryan kind of walked away from Trump during the campaign after the tape came out of him talking to Billy Bush, he walked away for one week, and Paul Ryan’s popularity went down 20%. I think every Republican politician in America looks at that and kind of goes, “OK. I get it.”

Our strategy has always been that the power and the integrity and the future of the American system are with the American people. And so our whole effort and our whole belief system are built around that idea. Because if enough American people are informed, engaged and participating, then the answers will be just and true. I’m not waiting for the Republican Congress or the Republican Senate to save us. Our thesis has always been, only the American people can save us.

Q: Why do you want to be governor?

A: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Well, as I said after I flunked math in the first grade, let me answer your question as if you’d asked me a fair question. What we are trying to do, as a result of Nov. 8, is to figure out as best we can how to both organize Americans to actively resist the Trump agenda and the Trump administration and at the same time work for all the progress that we’d hoped we could have, assuming a different outcome on Nov. 8. And so, did we think we were going to have to do the first half of that, and on Nov. 7th? We absolutely did not. And so we’ve been trying to figure out how to adapt what we did in 2016 and the grassroots stuff we did with a communications strategy to basically keep Americans civically informed, engaged and participating on a real time basis. And that is something we did not think was going to be our job description.

Q:You’re not speaking in the royal “we,” I assume.

A: Ha, ha, ha…why would you possibly assume that?

Q: So, are you saying you don’t want to be governor?

A: Ha, ha, ha, ha … I don’t think I have to make a decision right now but anything I decide to do personally is going to have to support what I described to you and make us more effective at doing it and amplify it. Because I think it is hard to overestimate the threat that this administration and the Republican entourage pose for Americans. I don’t think you can overestimate it because we’re seeing them attack American interests daily in profound ways and across a pretty broad group of policy areas. And it’s consistent. And we just can’t ignore that. And anything I decided to do personally has got to be supportive of the mission of standing up to that threat and trying to put forward the positive vision that we think California embodies. As imperfect as we are, in my opinion, what we’re doing here is the best example of the way America should be going.

Q: Then why wouldn’t it follow that the best place to be would be as the chief executive of California? If California were the resistance, wouldn’t you be able to both personally and politically achieve the most by being governor?

A: Boy, we have spent the last going on four months, trying to adapt what we did in 2016. We were in California, we did a huge registration drive, 800,000 people, we did a big GOTV drive, we worked on 22 local measures and 13 statewide props, including co-chairing the $2-a-pack cigarette tax, we were on 370 college campuses talking to people on mostly climate issues, and we want to 11 million houses door-to-door in the United States, talking about a broader group of issues including environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice and schools with five organized labor partners. All of that was stuff that we figured would be a 2016 effort and adapting that figure out how to stay in the grass roots and build an online voice has been a full-time effort so I don’t feel like I’ve had to make a decision about what to do personally, whether to run for something.

Q: Did you see the Trump thing coming at all?

A: No. Honestly, we could see that the – everyone wants to focus on Hillary versus Trump and I think that is really too simple, honestly, to gather the picture because, a year ago Democrats, including me, thought we would re-take the Senate and thought we would be within spitting distance on the House.

And if you look at the Democratic turnout in 2014 plus what happened in the races in 2016, including but not limited to the presidency, what you see is something much more broad-based than just Mr. Trump.

You can’t just look at Trump. I like to say he’s a mess but you can’t take your eyes of him. He’s great at dominating the airways but there was something much broader going on between all the other races going on outside of California in 2016 and in 2014.

From our standpoint, we spent a ton of time and effort in California – our organization, I’m not talking about myself but including myself – and it couldn’t have really gone much better. And it was grass roots, grass roots, grass roots. And if you look outside of California, I think we’re going to have finished our analysis sometime in the next two weeks, and you’re going to see that grass roots worked outside of California but there wasn’t enough of it.

Q: Were you active in Michigan and Wisconsin?

A: We did go door-to-door in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Q: In urban areas only?

A: I’d be happy to give you guys a review of exactly what we did state by state (when it’s done).

Q: Did you see something in Michigan and Wisconsin that the Clinton campaign should have seen?

A: There’s no question that the information that the Clinton campaign was getting about where the voting stood was wildly inaccurate. There’s no question about it. And therefore they were making decisions based on completely inaccurate polling data. There’s no question about it.

We could see in a bunch of states that we were the biggest… we were not only the people who were on the most college campuses in the United States. I mean that’s crazy, but we were.

But we were also, our organization with these labor unions, also doing more grass roots than anybody else in some of those states … it’s a question that the (Clinton) campaign, I think, did not feel that it needed to do work in places where it turned out that they desperately needed to do work.

If you look at how much money was spent and how much of the candidate’s time was spent in Michigan and Wisconsin you have to understand they would never have made those decisions if they’d know how close it was. I think they made a decision publicly to go after states where they could work toward a Senate that would support her as president because they thought it was in the bag.

I don’t think I’m saying anything that everybody doesn’t know. They had really, really faulty information and what we could see was that they weren’t doing things that we desperately wanted them to do because they didn’t think they had to… but I think they were going off inaccurate information and so they were making decisions that, in hindsight, look tragic but at the time, based on the information they had, were logical. That’s the big story, I think.

Q: Are you focused more nationally now or on California?

A: We are still incredibly focused on California just the way we were last year. I spend 90% of my time here. My wife is in a business meeting in Katmandu and I’m driving to Fresno tomorrow morning at 7:15. That’s really what’s going on.

I view California as a place where it’s working and it’s also the place that I live and everybody in our office lives and we are incredibly serious about getting it right.

Having said that, we do not believe that California can succeed as fortress California. That we can go about our merry business, we can have our energy laws, we can have our minimum wage laws, we can protect our citizens and welcome immigrants and integrate them into our society and provide health care in the way that we want to, without regard to the other 49 states or the federal government.

I think it’s quite clear that that cannot work. If we get into a prolonged fight with the federal government, they’re going to do things to us that hurt a lot. In particular, they’re going to punish us for standing up.

This administration has made it clear that they punish people who don’t do what they want. And California has a mind of its own and is succeeding in a different way and is making them look stupid and they can’t abide that and therefore they will have to try to punish us.

We need to be taking our ideas and our values to the rest of America because I believe that we are standing up for basic American values in California. When we talk about inclusiveness, that’s a basic American value. The civil liberties that this administration is going after – we’re strongly in favor of civil liberties, Americans have fought for those for hundreds of years.

We are doing the basic patriotic duty of American citizens and we need to get that idea outside of California as well as inside because otherwise these guys are going to come after us with impunity. And we can’t allow that to happen?

Q: Do you think the Legislature’s aggressive stance on this is shortsighted?

A: I don’t. Let me be clear: I don’t. I think the Legislature is doing the right thing in standing up and trying to loudly proclaim California values. I support them. I think that they have done a terrific job….It’s going to be necessary, maybe not immediately – because a lot of things this administration has done and will to are illegal and the court systems still exist – but unless we can go out to the rest of the country and talk about the kinds of values that we believe in, the kinds of values other Americans believe in, and get the positive story out there about how we can go forward, this administration is going to attack us with impunity…

I’m completely supportive of what the Legislature is doing I just feel there’s something else that has to happen which is that there has to be … we have to take our case to the rest of the American public.

Q: What does that look like?

A: Well it looks like 370 college campuses and knocking on 11 million doors plus a lot more.

Q: But it didn’t work.

A: If you give me two weeks, I’ll show you the presentation that showed it wasn’t enough but where we did it had a huge positive impact.

Q: There are some Republican Congressional districts with high-profile representatives that could be overturned if there was a strike force leading the charge.

A: I happen to know that there are seven congressional districts in California held by Republicans that Hillary took. By chance, I happen to know that. Which is awesome…. One of those seven people is not Devin Nunes…

Our thesis in 2016 was that we can’t be in 3,000 water district elections or 3,000 school board elections in California – what we can try to do is register and engage California citizens with partners throughout the state – of which we have 30 organizational partners – to register and engage people so we change the math.

That’s what we tried to do. That is a strategy that we completely believe in, which is that if American citizens register, engage and participate we will get good outcomes. We believe in democracy. We believe in direct democracy right now – organizing people to do things between elections – and we believe in democracy on Election Day, too.

Q: Is the DNC positioned to be receptive to that message, or not?

A: I think the DNC last year, in 2016, did not have a grass roots presence. Full stop. However, I also know (newly-elected chairman) Tom Perez is a very talented and responsible guy and so I’m hoping they will have a completely different profile. And I expect they will. But I can say, in 2016 the DNC did not exist as a grass roots organization.

Q: Where is the center of power in the Democratic Party today? Is it in the DNC, individual states, Congress?

A: We really have a philosophy of trying to engage directly with citizens. We really do. We feel like that is the power. If you show up, if you engage with citizens directly, the grass roots is where all the power lies…if you think about everything that’s happened since Nov. 8 – the women’s march, protests against (U.S. Rep. Tom) McClintock, the climate march that’s coming, the stuff that happened at the airports about the travel ban – everything was about grass roots. They’re outraged American citizens making their voices and their opinions felt. That’s what we believe in.

Q: What do you do about the 22nd CD – Devin Nunes?

A: We are in the process of figuring our exactly how to adapt what we did in 2016. It’s not going to be done by trying to influence Mr. Nunes…. What we’ll do is register, engage, inform citizens so that they know what’s going on and turn out…I know where Mr. Nunes is from. I know who his constituents are.

And I know he represents them terribly. So how has he managed to stay in office? Because not enough people have shown up and not enough people are participating in the political system because they don’t think it necessarily works for them.

This is as much a democratic crisis as anything else. Because if you look at ’14, we had historical low turnout from Democrats and if you look at ’16 what really happened was we had much lower turnout for Democrats than we did in ’12 and ’08. …

Do Americans believe in their own political system as a way of having a just and forward-looking society? It is critical and you would say, looking at the level of intensity, the level of civic engagement, subsequent to Nov. 8, it appears Americans are taking it much more seriously.

But we will see what happens in the next 18 months and we’ll see what happens in November of 2018 and we’ll see whether people understand that participating in Democracy is a necessity. You don’t participate in Democracy; you have no right to complain.

Q: Can your organization spark a grass roots prairie fire in those districts where people like Devin Nunes are operating?

A: I assure you we will be out there trying to broaden democracy.

Q: Would you agree that the most important target for progressives to focus on is the 2018 midterms?

A: No. We think about it slightly differently. It’s not that I don’t think that’s very important, but honestly there’s an awful lot of water that’s going to go under the bridge between now and November 2018.

And if the American people are not engaged, if the American public does not speak up…we don’t lose this to this administration and their country club, we don’t lose to these guys because people agree with them, we lose if people acquiesce and are passive and let them do what they want.

If we do nothing between now and November ’18, we’re in a horrible pickle. The only thing we can do is be active that whole time, continuously, in an organized fashion and if we don’t do that then 2018 is way too late.

Q: It’s hard to envision what your metrics for success are or what kind of pressure you can actually bring to bear when the Democrats hold no points of power in the federal structure.

A: I think there are a couple of different points: one is litigation because these guys tend to break the law; two is to the extent that there are legislative points either in Sacramento or in Washington where Democrats can make a difference then that can happen too. And that includes, I guess, in DC the filibuster rule is probably the most obvious case. But then there’s a whole bunch of things that legislators in Sacramento are passing that are protections that I think are also important, as well as the positive things that they can do.

You know this administration wanted to put a 20% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico until people got up and screamed and yelled. The Congress wanted to get rid of the independent ethical oversight of Congress until people screamed and yelled. They’ve tried to do a series of things that have failed, either because they were illegal or they were so unpopular they couldn’t pull them off. Let’s see what they do with the Affordable Care Act.

They have nominated and successfully gotten through a bunch of radical and unfit people for the cabinet. But the American people have been able to stand up against the worst excesses of this administration in terms of proposals they’ve made and they’ve been prevented them from getting much of anything done because Americans are informed and they’re standing up for their rights. And why should that change? That’s our protection.

Q: Do you think that in September of 2018, you’ll be more focused on midterm Congressional races or other efforts within California?

A: Ha, ha, ha … I don’t know. There’s an awful lot that’s going to happen between now and September 2018.

Q: Well, just tell us what your timetable is about making that decision.

If you think about what is going to happen between now and the next 18 months, imagine how much is going to change. It’s hard to believe.

Q: We have covered politics for 40 years and the Al Checchis or the Meg Whitmans or the Bill Simons of the world – people who have come in with a lot of money and tried to buy their way to a top spot, has never impressed us. On the other hand, you have a different history: you’ve actually put your money and your time into building something, paying dues inside the political process, which makes you a rich guy who’s not just coming in off the bench. So we’re pushing you hard to try to figure out whether you’re going to be in that game.

A: Let me say this: A) everything you’re asking me is legit so you don’t need to say that and B) I have co-chaired three successful statewide props: No on 23, that protected the cap and trade money; 39, that brings in about a billion dollars a year, and 56 last year that is worth $3-4 billion a year with the federal match.

There aren’t many people in California who’ve been responsible for that much money coming to our revenue base and none of it from income taxes or property taxes. Every one of those is an attempt to both make us stronger fiscally and also get people to pay a tax who were taking advantage of the majority of taxpayers, the majority of citizens.

Trust me – I have worked full time on this for years. I’m leaving at 7:15 tomorrow to go to Fresno…

Q: That’s our point…

A: You have no idea how wound up I am in terms of the threat to this state and this country. I am really wound up. It is not right what’s going on and it is a much bigger crisis than I think people understand.

Q: I think what we’re saying…

The Democrats were not perceived as representing working people. That’s amazing.  In California, we got good registration, good turnout, good engagement. That is grass roots, that is human beings going door-to-door, that is citizens talking to each other, that is organization, it happened here and the result was fantastic.

Q: This is why you’re not Meg Whitman or Al Checchi or any of those folks – you’re a completely different character. And that’s why we’re pushing to find out whether you’re going to get in the game full time as a candidate for governor…. Your profile is 100% different than any of the other wealthy businesspersons that we’ve covered over the years.

A: I’ll tell you what: I’ll make a deal with you guys. When I make this decision public, I will do it with you guys.

Q: Perfect. Do we need to stay around this week or can we kinda goof off?

A: You’re both living on the beach. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for you guys. (Laughter).

Q: What should the state be doing on climate change?

We have the most progressive energy policies in the world. The issue to me on climate is everyone wants to look at this in a silo and that’s the wrong way to look at it. And that’s why the environmental organizations have had so little traction for so long.

When I look at energy policy, you cannot separate it from health and jobs. To make it work we have to make sure that the people who are getting sick from bad air in California, who are mostly poor people living around refineries or living in places where tens of thousands of diesel trucks go back and forth every day, we cannot solve climate without solving that air pollution problem.

It makes people sick, it makes people unable to go to school, it ruins kids’ lives, you cannot separate climate from that fact. And you cannot separate climate from the fact that energy drives our economy and if we’re going to move to a different kind of energy we have to make sure the it is done in a way that the people working in it get a decent wage.

You can’t look at 2016 in terms of Bernie, in terms of Trump and not understand that Americans are not getting a fair wage. Working people are not getting a fair wage. And I think people blew it in terms of understanding how that was happening. But when you look at changing the way our energy complex works, it’s absolutely critical that whatever we change to, as we move to clean energy in its different forms, that those jobs be decently paid jobs you can support a family on. Otherwise it’s not going to happen.

So it is absolutely incumbent on us as Californians to not just understand how not to pollute but to move to clean sources where it protects poor people, especially poor kids, and where the jobs that are created will create many more jobs. And those are well-paid jobs and their organized so that working people can see this as a salvation for them in multiple ways.

Q: What is California not doing that it should be doing?

If you look at 2017, the cap and trade re-authorization, the question on this is going to be how do we do it in a way to both clean the air so kids are healthy, create enough of a revenue stream to send to poor zip codes and also set up a market-based mechanism to end up with clean energy on a time table we want.

And the issue is, when you’re think about creating legislation … if you only have one instrument and you’re trying to get it to solve three separate policy questions, you’re going to create a three-humped camel. Because one instrument can’t solve three issue very well.

From my standpoint, when we think about clean energy, when we think about climate, we have to do it in the context of a broader suite of issues, taking care of the day-to-day needs of working Californians and California families.

And when we think about 2017, I don’t know if you know this but we’ve been pushing really hard to replace diesel trucks and diesel school buses. That is a huge source of asthma for 3.3 million Californians, most of them poor, most of them living near refineries or big truck routes.

We need to see what are we actually trying to do and then break down the ways of addressing it so that we deal with the real issues and don’t complicate it so the issues are working against each other in designing the bill.

To me, every time you try to look at these issues and you try to silo them you make a clear mistake. What you’ve really got to do is understand how the interplay works and then be clear in writing legislation to address the actual problem instead of trying to solve the problem under the table by not really talking about it. That’s how you get into all kinds of bad feelings and bad legislation.

Q: Is there somebody in Sacramento who’s doing a good job at that?

A: I think we have a really good Legislature – no kidding.

Q: But is there somebody who is taking a holistic approach to the issue of climate change, social justice, poverty, and health care?

A: I think the leadership of both of the houses is pretty darn good. I really do. Anthony Rendon and Kevin DeLeon are both very responsible legislators.

If you went back 10 or 15 years and went around the United States and said, “The California Legislature is kicking the ass of the American Congress,” people would have laughed. But you know something? The California Legislature is kicking the ass of the American Congress in terms of being responsible and thoughtful and professional and effective.

That’s the truth. So I’m hoping that California is the harbinger of what happens in the United States of America…

Q: Would you rather be going to a business meeting in Katmandu or breakfast in Fresno?

Breakfast in Fresno, are you kidding me? And I’m not teasing.

Q: (Aside, from Jerry to Phil) Yeah, he’s running.

A: Would I like to go to Katmandu? Sure, I’d like to go to Katmandu. But you know something? There’s something absolutely critical going on in Fresno and I wouldn’t miss it for the world and I’m not kidding. I’m going to end the day with a rally, probably a victory rally, for Proposition H in Los Angeles.

Q: Is this non-silo-based approach to climate change, the No. 1 issue facing California?

The No. 1 issue facing California right now is our relationship with the federal government. It’s overwhelmingly obvious. There’s a new travel ban and there’s all kinds of immigration rulings; the stuff that’s coming out of the different environmental departments; the economics that they’re going to try to go after us on, I mean the idea that they would try and move to a system that would remove $20 billion in health care money from the state of California.

That’s why I’m saying it’s critical that we go outside of California to make our case because this is an administration that’s coming after us.

And a lot honestly has to do with money. They’re also coming after California citizens’ civil rights. And I’m not trying to underplay that – those are critical issues. They’re also coming after the money for kids to go to school and kids to eat and people to go to the doctor and people to pay for their medicine.

We don’t live in a moated community. We live in an open community that’s part of 50 states.

And we need to get that relationship right and we need to go make the case that what we’re doing is basic American values that everybody can get behind. And we need to make that case and win that argument.

How Brown Would Reject Trump Nat’l Guard Plan

Monday, February 20th, 2017

jerrygandolf1_v2-300x240Excloo: Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, alarmed by a report of a draft plan to mobilize 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, has quietly concluded that the Trump White House legally cannot take command of California’s National Guard short of declaring immigration to be an “invasion.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday said the report by the Associated Press about plans to dragoon the Guard was “100% not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”

Of course, Trump famously told Fox News bromance buddy Bill O’Reilly recently that California is “out of control” on immigration. So even the suggestion that Trump might try to seize command of the California National Guard was disturbing enough to cause Brown legal advisers to analyze the state’s options, should Trump seek to activate the Guard as a deportation force.

guardDon’t Tread on Me. In the normal course of events (how fondly and wistfully we remember such bygone days) National Guard troops are under the command of the governor of each state.

At the same time, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prevents the use of federal armed forces (except the Coast Guard) for peacetime law enforcement within the United States. And under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, the president can only call up the National Guard for active duty for a congressionally sanctioned national emergency or war.

Moreover, according to a high-ranking source in the Brown administration, Trump “would have to get the consent of the governor” – something Brown would not provide.

While Brown has not spoken on the issue directly, at least three Republican governors, in Utah, Arkansas and Nevada, have objected to the suggestion that their National Guard troops should be used as a deportation force.

Under federal law, whenever :

(1) the United States, or any of the Commonwealths or possessions, is invaded or is in danger of invasion by a foreign nation;

(2) there is a rebellion or danger of a rebellion against the authority of the Government of the United States; or

(3) the President is unable with the regular forces to execute the laws of the United States; the President may call into Federal service members and units of the National Guard of any State in such numbers as he considers necessary to repel the invasion, suppress the rebellion, or execute those laws. Orders for these purposes shall be issued through the governors of the States or, in the case of the District of Columbia, through the commanding general of the National Guard of the District of Columbia.

mrwilsonStay Off Our Lawn! California officials thereby have concluded that the state cannot be compelled to use its police or military forces for law enforcement purposes;  in their analysis, controlling immigration is a federal responsibility, not a matter for state or local law enforcement.

On the other hand, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly last week signed new guidelines empowering federal authorities to aggressively detain and deport unauthorized immigrants.

“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated in the guidelines.

According to the Washington Post, Kelly cited a surge of 10,000 to 15,000 additional apprehensions per month at the southern U.S. border between 2015 and 2016.

Gov. Brown’s lawyers don’t believe that rationale would hold up in court as an “invasion” justifying federalizing the Guard. And without consent of the governor, they have concluded, Trump cannot deploy California National Guard troops as a border-control or deportation force.

By now, of course, we’d be surprised by exactly nothing that President Screw Loose might attempt to do.