AFA focuses on decline of California, what to do about it

Victor Davis Hanson Keynotes Conference on "The Destruction of California"

AFA President Dr. Karen Siegemund kicks off “From Gold to Dust” event on CA’s precipitous decline, 8-20-17, in LA. Photo: George Miller/

By George Miller

Sunday, August 20, 2017, at the AFA (American Freedom Alliance) From Gold to Dust: The Destruction of California event, I watched about two dozen of the finest Conservative speakers in CA summarize the state of the state’s destruction, via segments on education, environmental extremism, hyper-regulation, illegal aliens, and corrupt/wrongheaded politics. Each segment’s description could easily be an article of its own, but we’ll just summarize here.

Typically, Democrats will tell you that things in California are going rather well and mostly getting better all the time. Not so with Conservatives and especially so with groups like AFA. The speakers and organization officials told us that from their perspective, things are going horribly. In some cases they disagreed with the overwhelmingly Progressive ruling establishment on the facts; in some cases, their idea of success vastly differs from those currently in power. Attendees appeared to be overwhelmingly Conservative/Republican.

Speakers mostly articulately summarized what they believe are the problems, their many causes and impact. However, they were not as definitive on solutions, although we heard some which seemed actionable. AFA President Dr. Karen Siegemund urged each participant to write down and turn in three follow-up action items to help improve the state. She also solicited donations to continue and expand their research and education activities. More than one speaker asked the audience if they have given up and would they stay and fight. Yes and yes were the responses. But the fact that this question was even asked- at least twice- is significant. Legions of the disaffected have left the area, the state or simply given up fighting. The disaffection is not based simply on diminishing state conservatism and social environment, but very measurable quality of life and financial metrics.

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Prof. Victor Davis Hanson

Keynoter Stanford/Hoover Institution Professor Victor Davis Hanson summarized what he felt was the sad state of the state’s situation.  Those who read his articles already know his views. Living in a remote interior  impoverished town and working at Stanford, he is whiplashed by the contrast weekly as he passes back and forth between the two worlds. He described California as “two states: Mississippi and Massachusetts.” He noted the heavy impact of increases to already high taxes- gas tax, sales tax, up to 13.3% income tax, along with cap and trade, other taxes and fees. In spite of all this record revenue, the state is facing a $1.3BB deficit and huge unfunded pension liabilities. He quipped that California is ruled by a “radical ….one party Hypocracy.” Republicans don’t even take elections seriously anymore, he lamented.

Hanson pointed out that in spite of all this revenue, the state is 49th in infrastructure, 45th in 8th grade test scores, has 1/3 of the nation’s welfare cases, 1/3 of hospital admissions have diabetes, 1/4 of residents not born in the USA, 22% are impoverished, the college student “remediation rate” (corrective courses) is 32%, graduation rate within 4 years is 49%. Although CA has 5 of the 10 best technical universities, its K-12 public education system is near the bottom. A four year drought and no dams built. Nearly half of state income tax revenues are received from only 160,000 people. Much of that is stock market profits and bonuses *(which are very cyclical). The state’s income tax, sales tax, property tax are much higher than most states, he observed. He thinks we get very little for the money.  The middle class are getting hit the hardest, are leaving in the greatest numbers or falling out of the middle class altogether.

He noted that the concentration of wealth and power is overwhelmingly in a coastal section from San Diego to San Francisco and that is where the laws are made for everyone.

Prof. Hanson’s keynote speech:

Raul Rodriguez of We The People Rising talks immigration at 8-20-17 AFA event in LA

More event speaker videos

An activist group represented at the conference actually having a major impact is “We the People Rising” (immigration). They were instrumental in national exposure of and even trying to stop some of the illegal refugee placements, starting with the Murietta busings a couple of years back. They have also been aggressive participants at City Council, Sheriff, school board, townhall and other meetings/hearings, protesting various “sanctuary” city/state and other activities designed to circumvent immigration law.  The group became a staple at Trump rallies.

It looks like there were some up and coming stars there, including multiple candidates for offices up to governor, as well as some beloved figures, such as Michael Antonovich, Celeste Greig, Tim Donnelly, Evan Sayet and more.

One thing about the program which irritated some participants was former GOP Chair Ron Nehring lecturing on how to improve electoral results. On his watch, all-time lows in Republican voter registration, votes and electoral wins were recorded. CA has had no Republicans in any statewide office since the 2010 election, for the first time since 1866.

Education panel at the 8-20-17 AFA Destruction of CA eventy. Photo: George Miller/

There seemed to be consensus that the weakest link is education, providing substandard skills to most and significant ideological brainwashing to millions for multiple generations, according to speakers. Next was the illegal alien (speakers pointed out that this is a legal term, not  a pejorative or “hate speech”) problem, flooding the country with future leftist voters without screening for needed Citizen characteristics, while increasing the entitlement load and other social costs. The Left’s environmental ploy was described as a disastrous detour from true environmentalism and a bid  for money and control. Regulation and taxation from an arrogant, entitled, controlling know-it-all legislature and strangling bureaucracy round out the threats.

This article would need to be a full-length book to chronicle all the points made- shortcomings identified, causes pinpointed and solutions recommended. Just a few highlights: CA education system is one of the main root causes of the state’s decline. K-12 is near the bottom nationally. A supermajority are unable to qualify for state higher education. Graduation rate is lower than stated and bar has been lowered for graduation, including scrapping the exit exam. Lance Izumi pointed out that overt propaganda and offensive, harmful political correctness are taught.  The prescribed solution was more charter schools, private schools, homeschooling and vouchers. School choice is a multipartisan issue. John Kruger said it costs $195K/student for public K-12 schooling, but only $120K for alternatives and mused that it might be cheaper for the state to pay for such alternatives.

Panelists noted that Hyper-environmentalism and overreaction to false problems is diverting attention and funding from real problems. Real debate is being suppressed. Multiple speakers described the state dedication to manmade Global Warming theories and UN Agenda 21/30 as something akin to a religious belief. A rollback to 1950’s “greenhouse gas” levels is neither necessary and the costs would be staggering, per Greg Watcher. He described Californians as the first group in history to deliberately cause its own decline. He said that the establishment, pop culture and politicians are all pushing it and that it’s not really about the environment, but money, power and control. Politician Michael Munzing lamented the Agenda 21 “Globalist Mother Ship of the UN” and was proud to help stop his city’s (Aliso Viejo) entry into ICLEI. He also suggested rebranding GOP as a party getting things done while having fun. He (jokingly?) suggested a party of “fast cars, hot women and big guns.” Debbie Bacigalupi warned about  a “technocracy scientific dictatorship” and delved into how this has come to pass, by circumventing checks and balances and using incorrect or falsified data and conclusions.

The state has a mix of extreme wealth for a very few and extreme poverty. About 1/3 of all welfare cases nationally are in CA. Nearly half all of income tax revenue comes from only 160,000 people, Many of them and many middle class being driven out of state by taxes, regulation, politics.

Nearly unchecked entry of illegal aliens and “sanctuary” policies are sapping state resources, increasing crime, social problems, changing the electoral balance and is in direct violation of constitutionally valid federal immigration laws, according to multiple panelists.

Meanwhile, taxes and regulations have soared. Multiple new or increased taxes have already been passed or are in the pipeline, increasing the share of income given to the government, without commensurate benefit. About a thousand new laws are passed by the state legislature annually, along with countless bureaucratic regulations.

Multiple speakers opined that the Republican party has been ineffective, weak, overly-compromising and is barely even a factor anymore, except when it helps the Democrats pass policies they can’t do on their own, like cap and trade. Speakers favored finding more solid, charismatic candidates who know how to talk to voters unapologetically, knowing weaknesses of incumbents.  They feel that many voters are unknowingly voting against their own best interests and need to be shown that. Speakers were favoring using the Republican party as a vehicle for candidates, since it is nearly impossible to get Democrat support for many of the policies presented at this session.

The panel on politics concentrated on hyper-environmentalism, taxes and only touched upon social issues. They also addressed demonization of Conservatives and Republicans. Katy Grimes’ new book is “California’s War on Donald Trump,” to be released in a few weeks, highlights that.  She said we are now “literally taxed for the air we breathe.” Speaking of books, other speakers’ works, such as “Escape from Berkeley” (Howard Hyde), “Patriot Not Politician” (Tim Donnelly), “The Corrupt Classroom” (Lance Izumi) and more, were on display, for sale and autographing. Former Assembly candidate and blogger Susan Shelley remarked upon the high state poverty rate and attributed much of it to California laws and regulations.  Significantly, the “Gunmaggedon” avalanche of anti-gun laws wasn’t even mentioned.

Beloved former LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich made a cameo appearance/short speech which he packed a lot into: KKK is the military arm of the Democrat party….. President Wilson reinstated discrimination in federal hiring … Key Democrats supported Bull O’Connor and George Wallace.. Conservatives incorrectly attacked as “racist,”….. tongue-tied elected GOP officials smeared daily, seemingly incapable/afraid of responding…. need better ‘salesmen” …  “we have the worst consultants- with $75 haircuts and 75¢ credibility”…

What about solutions?

As mentioned, the event was heavier on complaints and identifying problems. But defining problems is the start of solutions. Some recommendations were made or at least alluded to, to mention a few here: address multipartisan issues/solutions- children’s education, excessive taxes/regulations, improving immigration system and enforcement; addressing crime and state’s role in making it worse; identify better candidates for office who will resonate with the electorate and address the best platform issues; expose the seamy side of the Progressive agenda and highlight misalignment with voters needs, hopes and aspirations; expose shortcomings in CA education and what can be dome about it encourage more education alternatives; pledge no tax increases; make CA more business and consumer-friendly.

More …

Held at the tony westside Luxe Hotel, the event was well catered, with excellent food. Security was fairly heavy. We were told this was necessitated because there are “Fatwas” outstanding for multiple attendees/organization officials.  That doesn’t even include “Antifa.”  AFA is outspoken about the threat of radical Islam- in fact they say Islam is inherently radical.  Siegemund gleefully mentioned more than once that the far left fringe organization SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has branded AFA  a “hate group.” The group has taken strong positions on immigration law violations, the terrorist threat and conflicts with Sharia vs rule of Constitutional and statutory law. Her glee might be based upon tallying the donations which keep rolling in every time that’s mentioned. AFA was founded by the late Australian born, Jewish American Citizen Avi Davis.

While AFA and other Conservatives bemoan some true state shortcomings and political/social issues, the establishment Democrats point to the state’s recovery and that it has become the 6th largest economy in the world.


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Breitbart article


George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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William Hicks

Educational area’s are where the key is at. The combination of the stranglehold of common core and the incestual relationship between School Board Members and teachers union’s has to be broken before there will be any improvement in public education.