Migrants’ Trip to Sacramento Aboard Private Jet Appears to Have Been Arranged by State of Florida, Officials Say

More than a dozen migrants from South America who were recently flown on a chartered jet from New Mexico and dropped off in Sacramento were carrying documents indicating that their transportation was arranged by the state of Florida, the California attorney general’s office said Sunday.

The documents appear to show that the flight was arranged through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and that it was part of the state’s migrant transportation program, according to a spokesperson with the attorney general’s office who did not want to be identified.

The contractor for that Florida program is Vertol Systems Co., which coordinated similar flights that took dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts last year, the spokesperson said. Also last year, eight Venezuelan migrants were flown from Texas to Sacramento.

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta could not be reached for comment Sunday. Officials declined to comment further because the incident remains under investigation.

The 16 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were initially transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, where they boarded the flight to Sacramento, officials said. They were dropped off at the doorstep of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday.

Their arrival, for which no politician or organization has yet to publicly claim responsibility, adds fuel to a controversy over similar ploys by conservative politicians in Republican-led states.

They and their supporters have said the efforts are aimed at raising awareness of the influx of migrants over the southern border and bringing the issue to the doorsteps of authorities in states led by Democrats. Opponents describe the moves as cruel political stunts that use immigrants as pawns and leave them many miles from family, resources and even the courthouses where they are often expected to appear to plead their cases for asylum.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement that he and Bonta, also a Democrat, met on Saturday with more than 12 of the migrants, who “were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning.”

Newsom added that his office and the California Department of Justice are working together “to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping.”

Bonta confirmed that his office is “investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California” in a statement Saturday.

“We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants,” he added. “While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida.”

The situation in Sacramento is playing out against a backdrop of intense national debate over how to handle the influx of migrants who enter the U.S. across the Mexican border each year. That debate has come to a head in response to similar efforts championed and supported by Republican governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida that have displaced thousands of migrants and generated widespread controversy in recent years.

In September, Abbott bused about 100 migrants to Washington, D.C., where they were dropped off outside the Naval Observatory, the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. That same month, DeSantis — who is now a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination — sent a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal haven off the coast of Massachusetts.

Neither governor’s office responded immediately to requests for comment on Sunday.

Newsom has made a habit of attacking DeSantis and Abbott over a host of issues that divide the nation, routinely blasting their stance on immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control and abortion. He launched a political action committee this year aimed at supporting Democrats running in red states. In a video announcing the effort, Newsom said “authoritarian leaders” are a problem for the country as images of DeSantis and Abbott flash across the screen.

Jaime Soto, bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, said in a statement Saturday that the diocese is working with other groups to help the new arrivals.

“The urgency to respond was heard by Catholics and people of goodwill,” he said. “We are thankful to our partner organizations who took up the holy work of hospitality, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for an investigation into the latest incident in a Saturday statement.

“Human trafficking is not only despicable; it’s a felony. … Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?” he said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Gavin Newsom’s Utterly Nonsensical ‘Freedom’ Ad

This past weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for reelection this November, reserved $105,000 worth of cable TV ads in Florida on the Fox News Channel, telling Floridians that their freedom is “under attack.”

“Your Republican leaders, they’re banning books,” Newsom says in the ad, as well as ”making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors.”

I guess it could be argued that Californians have more freedom than Floridians.

Unless they want to start a new business (or keep the one they’re struggling to maintain), hire employees, hold onto their homes, decide how their children are educated, water their lawns, walk down the street without being accosted by homeless drug addicts or leave their homes without wearing a mask.

That sort of thing.

Granted, there is one group of people who will enjoy much greater freedom in California than they would in Florida: violent career criminals.

Thanks, Gavin.

Of late, Newsom has been hyper-critical of national Democrats too, for what he says is losing the culture war in the country.

In a recent sit down interview with the Atlantic magazine, Newsom said, “Where the hell is my party? Where’s the Democratic Party? You guys paying attention to what’s going on?  Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren’t we calling this out? This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And, yes, they’re winning. They are. They have been. Let’s acknowledge that. We need to stand up. Where’s the counteroffensive?”

In response to Newsom’s publicity stunt, a spokesman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign told Fox News digital, “Gavin Newsom might as well light a pile of cash on fire. Pass the popcorn for his desperate attempt to win back the California refugees who fled the hellhole he created in his state to come to Florida … The people of Florida pay no mind to the pathetic smear campaigns from the Democrats and their allies in the corporate media. We’re too busy enjoying the freedom Gov. Ron DeSantis has created in the Sunshine State.”

No kidding.

Newsom spending $105,000 on TV ads in Florida is a complete waste.  For that kind of money he could have taken his entire family to Disney World for a day.

Come to think of it, there actually is one group of Floridians who would love to move back to California where they came from: Walt Disney’s board of directors and executive staff.

Rumor has it that under Newsom’s governance, Disneyland in Anaheim is planning a new roller coaster to better reflect the California experience.  It’s called The Rolling Blackout.

Back to Newsom.

It makes zero sense for a California politician, running in a state election in California, to be buying ads in a state filled with people who can’t vote for him for reelection, unless, of course, he wants to run for president himself, or is just a gigantic, narcissistic troll who needs to be the center of attention.

With Newsom, either one is possible.

In theory, it’s also unbelievably disrespectful to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who Newsom is pretending don’t exist.

In response, Gil Duran, the editorial page editor of the San Francisco Examiner and a former aide to Harris, tweeted, “I don’t see Gavin Newsom becoming president, but his passive-aggressive betrayal of Kamala Harris is slightly amusing. No such thing as friends in San Francisco politics!”

With friends like Newsom, who needs enemies?

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Disney Is Fighting a Losing Battle

On the menu today: Disney continues its ineffective efforts to stop Florida from enforcing its ban on discussing sex with young children and Republicans continue to mull whether they’ll vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation.

Disney’s Anti-Florida Campaign Continues

There’s no doubt about it: Disney was caught behind the eight ball. The company ought to have known that some number of its loudest employees would be outraged by Florida’s new law forbidding the discussion of sexual topics with children in kindergarten through third grade. By the accounting of these woke employees — who have been trumpeting the media-fueled misnomer “Don’t Say Gay” through bullhorns for the last two weeks — Disney failed to use its considerable influence in the state to kneecap the legislation while it could still be stopped.

Perhaps to save face after Governor Ron DeSantis essentially told the company to take a hike several times, Disney has most recently tried to claim that its lobbyists were working to block the bill behind the scenes all along. In a statement shortly after beginning to face criticism for the company’s supposed inaction, Disney CEO Bob Chapek explained that leaders “thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle.” Our own Isaac Schorr reports that Disney does not in fact appear to have been lobbying in this capacity at all:

At a press conference on Tuesday, DeSantis cast doubt on Chapek’s version of events, remarking that Chris Sprowls, the speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, never even heard from Disney while the bill was making its way through the legislative process.

Sprowls confirmed as much in an interview with National Review. Even as the company was supposedly working to effectively push back on the legislation, it never picked up the phone to speak with the most powerful member of the House.

What’s more, Sprowls pointed out, is that there is no record of any lobbyist working on behalf of Disney ever having lobbied any member of the Florida House on the bill.

“We checked the action packets for the House Education and Employment, and Judiciary, and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings where HB 1557 was considered,” said Sprowls. “The Walt Disney Corporation did not submit any appearance cards on the bill for any of these meetings. Furthermore, the Florida House requires lobbyists to identify which bills they are lobbying on and no Disney lobbyist registered on HB 1557.”

The registry indicates that Disney had at least 19 different representatives lobbying members of the House on a number of different pieces of legislation in 2021, including the Big Tech bill from which it was granted an exemption. There is no record that a registered lobbyist advocated against HB 1557 for the company.

So Chapek and Disney are back to square one, wrestling with employees who insist that the company Do Something Right Now. One such concession to wokeism appears to be preparing to cram sexualized content into children’s programming. “If we can’t get them in the classroom, we’ll get them at the movie theater,” or something.

In several leaked videos, Disney executives pledged to depict more “transgender and gender-nonconforming” characters in their films — or “queer leads,” as one higher-up put it. In the same vein, they aim to erase all references to “ladies and gentlemen” and “boys and girls” at Disney parks.

The company, in short, finds itself engaged in a game it simply cannot win. On one side is some number of its own employees — we do not even know if it’s a majority or simply a very loud faction — berating the company for not “doing enough” to stop this law, as if Disney had been elected to run the state of Florida. On the other side is Florida’s government, its vocal governor who is insusceptible to bullies, and — important to note — some not insignificant portion of its customers.

It is hard to imagine that, even if some number of parents opposes Florida’s legislation, most parents are hoping Disney’s children’s movies will respond to the law by featuring more sexual themes and “queer leads.” What’s more, polling suggests that most American parents actually don’t oppose Florida’s law at all. When presented with the actual text of the legislation — as opposed to merely being told about it by the pollster — 61 percent of Americans say they support it.

But this seems irrelevant to Disney executives, who are intent on virtue-signaling their way into oblivion. Even the company’s former CEO, Bob Iger, felt the need to double down on the company’s stance in an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace.

“A lot of these issues aren’t necessarily political,” Iger said. “It’s about right and wrong. To me, it wasn’t politics. It was what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids.”

Iger added that CEOs should be willing to accept “that they’re going to have to weigh in on issues, even if voicing an opinion on those issues potentially puts some of your business in danger. . . . Again, when you’re dealing with right and wrong, or when you’re dealing with something that does have a profound impact on your business, then I just think you have to do what is right and not worry about the potential backlash, to it.”

Let’s leave aside the silliness of the notion that Disney has some moral obligation to bully Florida’s legislators and governor into enacting the company’s preferred social agenda. Focus on what Iger is saying — and what Chapek and Disney have also said — about the law itself. This is a law, again, that forbids teaching sexual topics such as “gender identity” to children between the ages of four and nine. For all their blathering, not a single Disney executive has attempted to explain what precisely is so “harmful” and “immoral” about that.

Republicans Weigh Their Votes on Jackson’s Nomination

Earlier this week, Senator Susan Collins of Maine became the first Republican senator to say that she’ll vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Collins said she decided to vote this way because she believes that Jackson will not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference.”

“In recent years, senators on both sides of the aisle have gotten away from what I perceive to be the appropriate process for evaluating judicial nominees,” Collins said when announcing how she’ll vote. “In my view, the role under the Constitution assigned to the Senate is to look at the credentials, experience and qualifications of the nominee. It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the individual ideology of a senator or would vote exactly as an individual senator would want.”

So far, most other Republicans have said they’ll decline to vote for Jackson, in many cases citing disagreements with her judicial philosophy. Though Jackson said during her confirmation hearing that she believes “it is appropriate to look at the original intent, original public meaning of the words,” she does not describe herself as an originalist or a textualist, and she seems to have a far more expansive view of judicial power. This appears to be the driving force behind the decision of some Republicans to oppose her nomination.

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) noted that Jackson “refused to claim originalism as her judicial philosophy” and that she instead seems to believe that it is “just one of the tools judges use — not a genuine constraint on judicial power.”

Click here to read the full article at the National Review

Californians Looking For Florida Homes Due To New Tax Law

By now you probably know that the 2017 Tax Act significantly limited the deduction of state and local taxes against your federal income.  For most Americans — particularly ones in low-tax states or states with no income taxes — these new rules will have little effect on your life.  For high-income individuals in high-tax states, they will suffer dearly from this policy.  There has been speculation of how many will relocate.  How bad will the impact be to the states they are leaving?  That is another question.

We do not know how many people will leave states like New York, Connecticut or California.  We do know that the states they will potentially leave will be severely impacted because the high-earning taxpayers pay a significantly high percentage of the income taxes in these states.

This question hit me square on when I had a chance to interact with a hedge fund operator in a semi-business occasion.  He found out I was a CPA specializing in taxes and he immediately launched into a discussion about how the tax law was going to hit him. He is getting hit two ways because his federal income is going to be taxed at higher tax rates due to the new carried interest rules.  Also, the voluminous taxes he pays the state of California will no longer be deductible. He told me everyone he knew spent their Christmas break looking for houses in Florida – a no income tax state. …

Click here to read the full article from Townhall

Will Jeb Bush’s Education Record Win Him The Nomination, Or Destroy Him?

502px-Jeb_Bush_by_Gage_SkidmoreFormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement Monday that he is running for president instantly makes him both a man to beat and a top target in a crowded GOP field. Bush’s big donor base, establishment backing, and more moderate reputation will almost certainly make him the top target of other GOP candidates. Whether he can survive their onslaught and emerge as the nominee will depend in large part on how well he can harness his record on a single, signature issue: Education.

Education is Bush’s biggest policy passion and gave him his biggest successes as a governor. It’s not a stretch to say that Bush has been the single biggest driver of conservative education reform in the past 20 years. Bush simply can’t afford to stay away from the issue. But all of his accomplishments are counter-balanced by the burden of Common Core, which has the potential to undo his candidacy if handled poorly.

Common Core complicates what is otherwise an extremely strong education record for Bush– one that should have ample appeal to conservatives. Back in the late 1990s, Florida’s schools were among the country’s worst. Bush made education a centerpiece of his 1998 gubernatorial bid, and fully delivered on that promise in 1999 with his A-Plus Plan.

A-plus made a series of sweeping changes to Florida schools, based on three core principles: higher standards, accountability for schools, and increased school choice. The plan was innovative at the time, but today its components have been copied by Republicans across the country.

Under A-plus, every single public school was given a letter grade reflecting its performance. It sought to limit social promotion (passing students on to the next grade regardless of academic performance) by requiring students to pass a reading test to graduate from the third to the fourth grade. Most notably, it created one of the country’s first private school voucher programs, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Under the program, students attending schools with failing letter grades could receive a voucher to attend a school of their choice, including a fully private one. Bush’s initial voucher program was struck down by a state court in 2006, but has since been revived in a new form and continues to be one of the country’s largest.

Bush’s education efforts weren’t limited to A-plus. Before becoming governor, he helped open Florida’s first charter school in 1996, and after being elected he worked to expand the number of charters.

When A-plus was passed in 1999, Bush predicted that Florida’s schools would experience a “renaissance”– and he was right. In the past 17 years, Florida scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a federal standardized test administered to select student populations in each state, have been among the fastest-rising in the country, and the situation for low-income students is particularly improved. On the 2013 NAEP, Florida’s low-income fourth graders finished first in the nation in reading, compared to 35th place (out of just 40 states) in 1999.

Charter schools have been a big hit as well, with over 220,000 Florida students enrolled at over 600 schools– more than 10 percent of the state’s entire K-12 student body.

Ironically, had Bush stopped caring about education once he left the governor’s mansion in 2007, the issue would probably be a much bigger asset for him today. Instead, Bush dedicated his post-gubernatorial days to making the A-plus Plan a national model. In 2007, he established the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), a think-tank dedicated to pushing his idea of school reform. ExcelinEd has drawn big donations from organizations like the Gates Foundation, and has played a significant role promoting school choice and accountability measures in more than 20 other states.

While ExcelinEd has helped keep Bush in the public eye as a policy activist, it’s also helped create his great weakness: Common Core. At the helm of ExcelinEd, Bush was an early and strong proponent of Common Core when it was still being created by state governors in 2010. To Bush, Common Core was simply a means to take his vision of higher school standards nationwide in an effort to replicate Florida’s improvement.

Many Republicans, however, have become convinced that Common Core’s national reach represents a federal takeover of education, and most GOP contenders (many of whom once happily backed the Core) have been happy to join the opposition. Bush, though, has continued to fight hard for the new standards. In 2014, for instance, he visited Tennessee to urge lawmakers there to hold the line against an “avalanche” of criticism. Last November, he spoke at a D.C. education conference where he called the backlash against the Core “troubling” and argued that it should be seen as the “new minimum” for states in education.

In 2015, perhaps belatedly seeing just how toxic Common Core is to some Republicans, Bush started to avoid talking about it. Last February, Bush spoke for 35 minutes at a Florida education conference without mentioning Common Core once, instead making a vague statement about his support for “higher standards.” When he can’t avoid Common Core, Bush is careful to emphasize that he is opposed to any federal control of education standards.

“Every school should have high standards,” Bush said during his Monday announcement, “and the federal government should have nothing to do with setting them.”

Still, his actions have tied him so irrevocably to Common Core that he simply can’t disown the standards at this point without making a blatant flip-flop.

Now that Bush is a candidate, that could be a problem. He can expect months of fierce criticism from his Republican opponents, all of whom oppose Common Core. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has pledged to “repeal every word” of it. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has argued the issue is so toxic that no Republican can win while supporting it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is expected to announce a run next week, has defined himself in the past year by his fierce opposition to Common Core and can be expected to tear into Bush for it repeatedly.

The attacks will be fierce, but not necessarily lethal for Bush. Polls of the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina show that while Republican voters there don’t love Common Core, they’re also willing to vote for a candidate who supports it. If Bush can get primary voters to focus on his manifold other achievements in education, which are far more popular and appealing to red-meat conservatives, he may yet be the party’s nominee in 2016.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation