L.A. Times’ pathetic attempts to smear Rick Caruso

You can tell that Rick Caruso is making progress in his campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles when the Los Angeles Times initiates and engages its’ relentless smear machine in semi-weekly reports to establish that the self-made The Grove billionaire developer is the terrible person he is not.

A recent poll co-sponsored by the Times shows that Caruso is leading South Central L.A.’s progressive Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass by 24% to 23%. Caruso stood at 8% in a prior poll, but with an advertising campaign underway since then, his support has tripled while Bass has lost ground.

Bass is the Progressive Left and corporate media’s sweet-heart to be L.A.’s next Mayor. She continually receives fawning attention from systemic liberal legacy outlets like the New York Times, (From Outsider to Insider: Karen Bass’s Unexpected Journey to Power), or other woke publications, (Karen Bass’s L.A. mayoral run reflects a political career of progressive leadership). She apparently likes Communist Cuba, and some thought that should disqualify her for consideration as Joe Biden’s Vice-President back in the day.

Caruso, a successful Los Angeles businessman and lawyer, has given generously of time and effort to southern California institutions such as Pepperdine University Law School, which now bears his name; and the University of Southern California, were he ably served as Chairman of the Board and helped correct a most difficult time for the university. He also served exemplarily as a volunteer leader of the Los Angeles Police Commission, after turbulent times required some real attention at LAPD.

So, now that Caruso is a threat to Bass, he has become a threat to institutional liberalism’s stranglehold on political power in Los Angeles county. Caruso is quite different from the woke idea of who should populate positions of power in government. The purveyors of “identify politics” in the Democratic Party don’t like what they see in Caruso. To them, Caruso is not only an outsider, a developer (even with a heart), and a billionaire; he is also a non-Hispanic white male Christian. That is a profile that simply does not show up in Los Angeles County’s power structure, including all the Congressional delegation, its’ representatives in the state Legislature, all the members of the Board of Supervisors, and is a distinct, tiny minority on the Los Angeles City Council.

Thus, the headlines and stories we now read in the Times reveal again-and-again just how bad a person Caruso really is. For example, did you know that as a volunteer on the police commission he only attended 86 meetings?! Outrage! Did you know that up until just TEN years ago he was a Republican?! More outrage! (Never mind that he gave $5,800 in contributions to….Karen Bass.) And what I think is the most pathetic hit on Caruso of all – Did you know that though Rick Caruso says crime is really bad in Los Angeles, that he is stating inaccuracies, because it was actually worse in 1993? (After the Rodney King riots.)

As we get closer to the start of voting on May 10, you can expect many more attempts to spin Rick Caruso into a monster – stuff like “he only paid $1.6 million in taxes” and “why will he not reveal all his tax returns”, a question they never insisted upon on former Governor Jerry Brown, who never, ever disclosed a tax return in his entire political career. If you are politically savvy, you will be able to read the tea leaves – the more emphatic the Times gets making Caruso the villain, the better their own polling will be showing Caruso to be the winner.

Southern California can use a leader that is committed to fighting the epidemic of addicted street people and giving them better options in life than more of the same. We need to crack down on the criminal gang-members, take away their guns, and make them fully accountable to society for their anti-social behaviors. We need some hope that Los Angeles can become a cleaner, safer place again with a palpable, positive future. The candidate to do that is definitely not Cuba-fan Karen Bass. It is Rick Caruso.

Rick Caruso

Biden approval at 18% in West Virginia

The Democratic controlled corporate media and their politicians are pointing their fingers at West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin as the reason why their radical agenda of Build Back Better, District of Columbia statehood, federalization of elections, and court packing is stalled in Congress. Manchin has (thankfully) been thinking twice about supporting the progressives’ agenda. In the 2020 Presidential election, former President Trump beat Joe Biden by almost 30 points in West Virginia at 68.6% to 29.7%. That overwhelming rejection of Biden’s agenda should be evidence enough of why Manchin is reluctant to embrace Build Back Better, because his own resident voters did not embrace it, and by a lot.

But now the ire of West Virginians for Biden has only increased, and exponentially so. The most recent poll results published by Civiqs here find that in the Mountain State today, only 18% approve of Joe Biden’s policies and a whopping 77% disapprove. In one year as President, Biden has managed to lose close to half of his feeble electoral support in the state. A Biden supporter in West Virginia is getting to look like a Republican in San Francisco.

It should be no wonder why Manchin has given pause on Capitol Hill. Manchin was re-elected in 2018 with less than a majority, just 49.6% of the vote. He knows his state, and the honorable requirement to navigate through legislation to reflect its values, when acting as a United States Senator.

So don’t blame Joe Manchin for your policy failures Biden fans! Point your finger at yourselves.

64% Say “No!” On Sirhan Parole!

64% say “No!” to California Governor Gavin Newsom approving a parole recommendation to give freedom to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan in a new scientific poll of California’s likely voters just released this afternoon. Sirhan has been granted parole by a California board and now the panel’s decision faces a review that will require the Governor’s approval to be official.  However, California voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the Governor approving the parole board’s recommendation, according to the new poll released today.  64% oppose freedom for Sirhan, and less than 20% of likely voters support the parole board’s decision to approve his release.  The complete poll results may be downloaded here.  The methodology of the poll meets peer standards and can be downloaded here

The poll was commissioned by James V. Lacy, President of the U.S. Justice Foundation, and conducted by the respected national polling firm of McLaughlin and Associates, whose survey research clients have included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The survey research was conducted over August 30-31, in Spanish and English by live interviewers using phone, cell and text formats.  The margin of error is +/- 4%. Another significant finding of the poll is that support for California’s death penalty law has increased since a similar question was asked last June.  At that time a McLaughlin and Associates poll found 47.8% of Californians were against abolishing the death penalty.  See poll results: https://usjf.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CA-Statewide-Executive-Summary-6-8-21-1.pdf. However, according to the new poll released today using the same methodology and sample size, 52.7% of Californians support the death penalty law in California.  

Governor Newsom’s job performance approval stands at 52.7%, with 44.6% disapproving his job performance as Governor.

However, 51.7% of California’s likely voters think the state is headed in the wrong direction.

Commenting on the poll, James V. Lacy, a death penalty advocate said, “It would be political suicide for Gavin Newsom to free Sirhan Sirhan given these numbers.  Not approving the recommendation of the parole board would also be the right thing to do.”

Lacy added that McLaughlin and Associates has now conducted two reliable polls in a row this summer that make it clear there is significant, even majority support among California’s likely voters for the state’s death penalty laws, and this research “is solid and starkly contrasts with a seat-of-the-pants two question poll” released by U.C.Berkeley with the support of the Los Angeles Times last May.

Gov. Newsom Received More Than $700,000 in Behested Legal Services to Establish and Defend His Death Penalty Moratorium

A Sacramento County Superior Court Judge has continued on its own motion to August 31, a hearing on mutual Summary Adjudication motions, in response to a lawsuit that challenges the Governor Gavin Newsom’s powers to repeal death penalty rules and dismantle the death chamber at San Quentin and which claims that the Governor’s actions establishing a death penalty “moratorium” by Executive Order in 2019 is legally flawed.

While the case is still pending, public disclosures and a news report now reveal that the Governor has accepted more than $700,000 from two major law firms to both create and defend his Executive Order.

Rather than relying on the Attorney General’s office, Newsom has received extensive free “behested” legal services, including $405,000 in legal services from the private law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner, to help him craft his “moratorium,” as well as an additional $305,385 from the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers to defend the alleged faulty Order in court, according to public disclosures.  While the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers has represented Newsom pro bono in the legal challenge to the Executive Order, it has also received at least $600,000 in state funds representing the Newsom Administration in other cases.

Californians remain generally supportive of the death penalty law according to the most probative recent polling of the issue.  Early in June, the national polling firm of McLaughlin and Associates found 49% of Californians would vote No if a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty is placed on the ballot in 2022 by the Legislature, while 43.8% would vote Yes.  When voters are informed of issues that would be raised during a campaign to repeal the death penalty, opposition to repeal increases to a majority of 53.3% of voters saying No to abolishing California’s death penalty law, and support drops to just 40.5%.  See poll results: https://usjf.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CA-Statewide-Executive-Summary-6-8-21-1.pdf.

This article was originally published by the California Globe

The Railroading of Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani has had quite a career – U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, where he successfully prosecuted the Mafia; Mayor of New York, where he greatly reduced crime by focusing on fixing the small stuff like broken windows as a prelude to creating a better community environment and then getting the big crimes squelched. He helped New York and the nation as “America’s favorite Mayor” to get through the September 11 terror at the World Trade Center where almost 3,000 lost their lives, including an iconic and tear-jerking appearance on Saturday Night Live. (NBC has apparently disabled the 8 minute video of the historic appearance on its website.) He was a Presidential candidate (I sent him a contribution), and most recently was President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Once I had the opportunity to talk to Rudy one-on-one in the Green Room before his speech at one of the Conservative Political Action Conferences about 15 years ago in Washington, D.C., when I was a city council member in Dana Point. I was interested in what he thought about what are called “transient occupancy taxes.” These are taxes on tourists on their hotel stays. Rudy told me one of the first things he did was cut the “TOT” taxes in New York City because he said they had gotten way too high and were making visits to New York all the more expensive. He said the taxes were discouraging tourism in New York City, which was already an expensive place to visit. He said he would rather see the tourists dollars go to small business like restaurants and to support entertainment like Broadway or Museum tickets than to taxes. I thought he made a lot of sense. Giuliani told me as Mayor, he cut 29 taxes and when I researched it, it fact-checked. When I got home, on the city council I opposed the idea of a new fee on visitors to our Dana Point resorts for the same reason.

But this week, Rudy Giuliani was suspended from the practice of law by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York for misconduct. The misconduct identified was nine instances of repeatedly asserting as fact information regarding the last election that the court disagreed with, involving three states: Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

In a political election context, the U.S. Supreme Court determined in the case of Meyer vs. Grant, that First Amendment speech rights are “at their zenith.” This means that election related speech is the most heavily protected speech by the Constitution. The consequence is the Government will almost never have the legal power to punish speech in an election setting, even if it is wrong, hyperbole, or even if it is a lie. When Democrat Ken Cory ran for Controller of California in 1974, an office he held for 12 years, his campaign slogan was “the man the oil companies feared most.” It was all political hyperbole. The oil companies cared less and were not regulated by the Controller’s office anyway. It was basically a lie. But it was protected speech, whether is was true or not, whether people believed it or not. Cory knew it was a lie but it still got him elected.

Yet the New York Supreme Court said Giuliani was not entitled to the same First Amendment protection regarding the election match-up of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. They found that as a lawyer, Giuliani was held to a higher standard, and needed to have documentary proof on all his assertions of election fraud. In other words, Al Sharpton can say whatever he wants 24/7 about the last election with total impunity, because he is not a lawyer, but Rudy Giuliani can’t speak about the election, and keep his bar license, unless he has documents supporting exactly what he is saying.

It is a ridiculously harsh punishment for what the stated offenses are. For example, one of the nine counts against Rudy is that he said three or four times that the deceased former heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Frazier, voted in the last election in Philadelphia. The Court says that Rudy knew or should have known the statement was false, and because of that he was suspended. As it turns out, dead-as-a-doornail Frazier, who died in 2011, did vote in the 2012 election. A blogger had asserted that Frazier rose from the dead to vote again in 2018. Rudy relied on the blogger’s allegations that dead people like Frazier voted in Pennsylvania elections. But that was not enough to protect his First Amendment rights, (which include the right to be wrong in an election context). The Court demanded absolute proof from Rudy as a condition to keep his law license that dead Joe Frazier also voted in 2020; something Rudy was unable to do. So he lost his law license.

The Court didn’t like the way Rudy summed up absentee voting in Pennsylvania. Rudy said that about 600,000 to 700,000 absentee ballots must have been “fabricated” in Pennsylvania because 2,500,000 people voted by absentee and only 1,800,000 ballots were mailed out. But the Court checked the state’s website which said that 3 million ballots were mailed out. When they questioned Rudy on it, Rudy said he had bad information at the time he made the statement about the 1,800,000, and had relied on a staffer who was wrong. That seems like a truthful enough response given that his First Amendment rights are “at their zenith.” But recall, the Court says lawyers like Rudy don’t have the same rights as say, Al Sharpton. The court also added that in regard to Pennsylvania, they didn’t like the way Rudy used the word “fraud” in explaining the intention of a court pleading, because the word wasn’t in the pleading. So that was suspendable.

With respect to Georgia, the Court said it was sanctioning Rudy for saying the Georgia vote count was “inaccurate” because the Secretary of State had conducted a hand-count of all the ballots and therefore it was, by the Court’s reasoning, accurate. Even though the Georgia Secretary of State subsequently found that at least 74 felons had illegally been allowed to vote in the election, Rudy was further sanctioned for saying the number could be as high as 2,500. The Court also did not like Rudy saying dead people had voted in Georgia. Rudy had made the mistake of using a number – saying 800 had voted, when the Secretary of State subsequently found proof that just a couple dead people voted. Rudy’s assertion of late-night shenanigans in a video of ballot counting was also found to be essentially a knowing lie, since Rudy “did not refer to the entire video, just snippets.”

As for Arizona, the court said Rudy could not possibly support any claim that illegal aliens voted in the Arizona election. Not one.

Rudy Giuliani is no Boy Scout, he wants to win his cases and represent his clients to the maximum. Yet I was saddened when he adopted the bogus legal theory advanced by now retired Professor of Law John Eastman that Vice-President Mike Pence had the power to cancel the legally certified Presidential election results of six states in the ministerial proceeding in the Capitol on January 6. No way that was the case. I was also more saddened to hear him utter the words “trial by combat” at the January 6 rally at the Capitol before the march. While those words are not sedition and again, constitutionally protected, in hindsight they must be regretful to Rudy given what went on to happen on Capitol Hill, where four people died, all Trump supporters – three of natural causes and one inside the building shot by an officer.

We are living though a political environment where Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters are indeed held to a different, tougher, negative standard by the media and those Leftists who control many of our institutions. Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia, has been lying through her teeth about Georgia’s election laws. The so-called “denial of a water bottle rule” (echoed by Biden) in election lines she has been saying is a vestige of “Jim Crow era” voter suppression of black people is really no different than the same rule in California elections, which is intended to protect voters from being interfered with by campaign workers while in line, and not keep them from voting. In Georgia, and California, it is OK to give a voter a water bottle, you just have to do it before they get in line to vote. Liberal PolitiFact has even said she has stated five half-truths and one outright falsehood. But the media keeps repeating Abrams lies with fawning praise.

Abrams is a lawyer. Will the Georgia Supreme Court suspend her license for stating mistruths and outright falsehood? The answer sadly is no.

The motto engraved above the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court is “Equal Justice Under Law.” We need more equality in our politics. In view of the First Amendment’s expansive protection of political speech, Stacey Abrams should not lose her law license because she greatly exaggerates and even lies about Georgia’s elections. Neither should Rudy Giuliani lose his license on the basis of the thin gruel served up by the New York legal system.

Gavin Newsom: Good Luck Claiming Your $40 Unclaimed Property from Betty Yee!

California Governor Gavin Newsom has $40 in unclaimed property from United Labor Bank apparently from an old and abandoned account that is being held by State Controller Betty Yee according to her “unclaimed property” website. It is all public and there for you to see. All the Governor purportedly needs to do is file a claim and he will get paid, according to Yee’s website. If he doesn’t file a claim, Yee will take the money for the state. But getting the money out of tight-fisted Yee before she absconds with it may prove a bureaucratic nightmare for the Governor, at least from my experience. Will Newsom be able to prove his fiscal skills and muscle as Governor in successfully claiming the funds, or suffer the consequences of the bureaucratic hassles that Yee’s office presents to many other Californians seeking their property?

I had never heard of the United Labor Bank so I Googled it. It changed its name to United Business Bank in 2014. It was a “community” bank based in Oakland at the time of the name change. Known as “UBB,” it was reportedly successful by 2014 with branches in four states and more than $500 million in assets. In 2017 UBB was sold to BayCom Corporation. BayCom is based in Walnut Creek.

California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires businesses, including banks like the former United Labor Bank, to annually report and deliver property to the California State Controller’s Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law – generally (3) three years or more. Apparently rather than send his money directly to Newsom in closing the account, the United Labor Bank sent it in a cashier’s check to Betty Yee instead. That gets the Bank out of having to try to find Newsom at any new forwarding address, and it gives the State Controller a chance to seize the funds after a time period if Newsom, or in other cases whoever is affected, isn’t wise enough to the process to claim their money and jump thru Yee’s sometimes ridiculous hoops.

I learned about the “unclaimed property” website of Betty Yee after I had a similar experience as Newsom with one of my old checking accounts at the Department of Commerce Federal Credit Union in Washington D.C. That account dated back to the 1980’s when I worked in the Reagan Administration as an aide to Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige. I kept the account open only for nostalgic purposes, having moved back to California in the early 1990s. But the Credit Union let me know after many years they had closed my account and sent the $50 in it to Betty Yee. I called the Credit Union to ask why they did that and they said it was an inactive account and my money had already been sent to Yee and there was nothing I could do other than to contact Yee.

So, I went on Yee’s website to see if I could claim my checking account funds last November. The Credit Union funds were not yet credited on the site, but to my surprise, I had a couple of other accounts to claim. One was for about $5 from a finance company and the site allowed me to make a claim for my funds on the internet, which was successfully processed and I got my check for $5 after a couple of months waiting. But the other claim for money owed me that has proven to be curiously difficult to process by Yee involves 76 cents owed to me by HSBC Finance Corp. My experience in trying to retrieve these funds is emblematic of how messed-up California state government is and why we call California “Taxifornia.”

I pushed the claim button on Yee’s website to get my 76 cents that Yee’s site said was owed me, and I was informed that this particular account was flagged for only a paper “Claim Affirmation Form” that I must sign and send in to Yee. Fortunately it was a claim for less than $1,000, because if it was over $1,000 it would have to be notarized, which would be expensive. I did consider that first class postage to send in the form to Yee would cost me 55 cents, plus the cost of the envelope, but I figured the envelope was 10 cents or less and that I’d make at least a dime in submitting this claim. So I filled out the form properly online and then printed it out and mailed it to Yee on November 21, 2020. The form asked for the property claim number provided by Yee, my Social Security number, my Driver’s License number, my date of birth, my street address, and my email address, as well as my original signature verifying the claim. It did not ask for supporting documentation, just the above information.

Now keep in mind, it is Yee’s website that says she owes me the 76 cents, not mine.

So on May 21, exactly six months after I filed the original claim with Yee for my 76 cents, following all the instructions perfectly, I received a formal response from her office signed personally by “Lynn” who lists herself/himself as a Claims Evaluator. Lynn informed me that my claim had been closed and that Yee would not be sending me the 76 cents her own website says she owes me, because my application included “insufficient documentation” to process the claim. According to Lynn in Betty Yee’s office, to successfully process my claim, she also requires: 1) an actual copy of my drivers license ; 2) an actual copy of my Social Security card; 3) a copy of “an original bill or account statement” from the company that sent them my 76 cents; and finally, 4) a copy of one of my pay stubs as “proof of current address.”

What a nightmare scenario of bureaucracy at its worst! Of course I won’t respond to this Kafkaesque process, which took six months of evaluation time to get to me, from Betty Yee’s office. One more 55 cent stamp puts me in the red on the claim. And I don’t need the 76 cents in the first place. But the hoops here are so ridiculous for 76 cents, you’d think Yee could just be honest with me and say – “heh, this is under a dollar and it does not make sense to process a claim so we are keeping your money.” That would actually be a rational regulation, to just keep the money that is less than a couple bucks so as not to burden the staff and taxpayers. I could accept that type of thievery for just 76 cents. But the waste of time and stupid focus of government, putting process before fairness of result, says mountains about what is wrong with the California we live in today.

Will Gavin Newsom have better luck getting his $40 from Yee? I expect so. Maybe he will get cleared for the internet service that helped me get my other $5 out of her. However, I checked Yee’s site a few days ago and while they now have my Credit Union claim acknowledged, it says I need to call the Credit Union first to get my money, not them, even though they have opened up a claim number. In true and consistent Kafkaesque fashion, I called my Credit Union, and they say it is out of their hands and I must process my claim with Yee. Who will not process the claim because she says the Credit Union must process it. It’s called “Taxifornia.”

Update: Newsom lawsuit on illegally canceling death penalty to be heard in court August 31.

A civil lawsuit I have filed against Gov. Gavin Newsom for overstepping his authority with a 2019 executive order that created a moratorium on the state’s death penalty, will now be heard by the Superior Court in Sacramento on August 31. The Judge will rule on mutual motions for summary adjudication filed by both myself and Newsom. I am represented in the case by litigator Chad Morgan. Newsom passed on being represented by the state Attorney General’s office and instead has hired the San Francisco-based national law firm of O’Melveny and Myers to represent him. The case has been ignored by almost all of the main-stream news media, including the Los Angeles Times which has written reports about the status of California’s death penalty law without mentioning the case, but the Orange County Register published a fair assessment of the lawsuit here: https://www.ocregister.com/2021/02/03/oc-man-files-lawsuit-against-gov-newsom-over-death-penalty-moratorium/https://www.ocregister.com/2021/02/03/oc-man-files-lawsuit-against-gov-newsom-over-death-penalty-moratorium/. After I filed the case, a retired former member of Ronald Reagan’s White House Counsel’s office sent me an email stating simply “Bravo – You are absolutely correct on the law.”

While the case is still pending, public disclosures and a news report now reveal that the Governor has accepted more than $700,000 from two major law firms to both create and defend his Executive Order.

Rather than relying on the Attorney General’s office, Newsom has received extensive free “behested” legal services, including $405,000 in legal services from the private law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner, to help him craft his “moratorium”, as well as an additional $305,385 from the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers to defend the alleged faulty Order in court, according to public disclosures.  While the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers has represented Newsom pro bono in the legal challenge to the Executive Order, it has also received at least $600,000 in state funds representing the Newsom Administration in other cases.

My lawsuit argues that Newsom did not have the power in 2019 to issue an Order to “across the board” halt the executions of the 700-plus inmates on California’s death row, or to withdraw the state’s lethal-injection protocol and dismantle the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison. It requests a Declaratory Judgment that Newsom violated the law by exceeding his authority, that the lethal injection protocols be placed back in the Code of Regulations, and that the death chamber at San Quentin be restored to working condition.

As I told the Register, “The case is largely about violation of process, about violation of the constitutional separation of powers. (The governor) does not have the power to erase the death penalty, he does not have the power to dismantle the death chamber. He does have the power to grant reprieves, pardons or commutations,” Lacy said, “but he does not have the power to do that across the board.”

Instead, what he must do is examine each and every case he issuing a reprieve under, and take into consideration what happened to the victims, and the victims’ families, and be able to look at the survivors in the eye and justify in writing why their loved one’s murderer should be granted a reprieve from an impartial jury’s decision to sentence death.

When I think of the applicability of the death penalty in California, I think of 14 workers at the Department of Public Health in San Bernardino County who were murdered at a Christmas party in cold-blood by Farook and Malik, the terrorists. I also think of that little boy, Anthony Avalos, who was abused for years, tortured, and killed by his mother and her boyfriend. If Newsom is to have his way, the perpetrators of these crimes would never be sentenced to death, even after a fair trial and unanimous determination by an impartial jury that the death sentence under California law should be imposed. These sadnesses keep me focused on the real problem – Newsom imposing his own flawed value system to undermine and try to erase California’s long-standing and legal death penalty law. I am looking forward to a judicial resolution of my case late this summer.

Californian’s remain generally supportive of the death penalty law according to the most probative recent polling of the issue.  Early in June, the national polling firm of McLaughlin and Associates found 49% of Californians would vote No if a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty is placed on the ballot in 2022 by the Legislature, while 43.8% would vote Yes.  When voters are informed of issues that would be raised during a campaign to repeal the death penalty, opposition to repeal increases to a majority of 53.3% of voters saying No to abolishing California’s death penalty law, and support drops to just 40.5%.  See poll results: https://usjf.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CA-Statewide-Executive-Summary-6-8-21-1.pdf.

Farook and Malik, who killed 14 San Bernardino County workers. Would Gavin Newsom pardon them too?

No Stimulus Checks Yet from Biden. But He Has Cut the Price of French Wine.

When you stop to consider President Joe Biden’s first accomplished acts as President of the United States you’d probably think they would all be related to his campaign promises to crush the Corona Virus pandemic, get us “shots in the arm,” helping small businesses by urgently distributing economic stimulus to get the economy going again, helping the unemployed, and addressing subsequent crises like attempting to bring the nation together after the last election and the January 6 melee at the Capitol. Right?

Well, yes, but practically speaking that has all been pretty slow in coming. I’ve got my shots as of last week, but my wife, who isn’t quite old enough, hasn’t gotten hers, along with millions of other American’s who remained worried, have co-morbidities but still don’t qualify or can’t get supply. It took till March 10 for the Congress to pass Biden’s contentious and highly partisan $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan. The checks for that relief bill aren’t even in the mail yet to the families who really need them, though reports coming in from Las Vegas are that California unemployment insurance EBT debit cards are abundant and starting to be flashed all over the city now at Casinos and expensive steak restaurants, though by bad tippers.

Yet Biden did manage to accomplish something memorable even before the passage of his economic relief bill, before many of his Cabinet members were confirmed by the Senate, and before his recent statement that the Russia President who controls the second largest means of mass destruction in the world is “a killer.” Of what do I refer? Biden’s lowering the cost of French wine in the United States. Yes, well before all these other urgent actions still pending in the Biden Administration, and consistent with (in his mind) his first actions ordering a “100 days masking challenge,” ending the ban on travel of terrorists from terrorist dominated countries, re-entering the job-killing global climate accords, and making all federal agencies “root out systemic racism,” one of Biden’s first acts as President is to make ultra-premium French wine more affordable in the United States.

I found out about Biden’s “pause” on 25% tariffs on French and other European wines in a round-about way. I enjoy good wine and recently I wasn’t able to find a certain type of French wine I wanted to buy for a friend’s birthday gift. I tried three different stores and websites in the United States and could not find this particular brand. So, I went to my last “go-to” source to check. This source is a little pricey and I only go there for something rare, but they know me there. It is a wine shop located in the heart of the Margaux district in Bordeaux, France, that will ship to me in the United States. Sure enough, last week they had what I was looking for in their on-line shop (all in French). And when I checked out, I got a message “we are pleased to inform you that the 25% tariff on French wine shipped to the United States has been suspended for the next four months.” That message was in English.

Biden’s people justify the move by saying it “is intended to ratchet down tensions as the U.S. and European Union negotiate a solution to a long fight over government aid to airplane manufacturers.” Sort of like Biden’s version of “arms for hostages,” though the United States got nothing in return for lowering the tariff other than more French competition at a better price against Gavin Newsom’s “Plumpjack” wines in Napa.

Now I am not a big tariff guy. I especially think that tariffs on things like expensive French wine are unlikely to mean very much, because people interested in those wines are not going to let an additional 25% tax stop them. But what I think is remarkable, is that Biden’s Administration in its earliest actions thought that a unilateral lowering of trade barriers for ultra-premium wine, which is a rather pro-elites action, ranked right up there with stopping the Muslim/terrorist country list travel ban. That is truly ironic. But Cheers!

Newsom Should Be Recalled; but loser John Cox is the Wrong Replacement

Congressman Devin Nunes had it right on Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox last week when he said that Republican’s might have a chance to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom with one of our own in the coming recall election, but only if the GOP can “settle on one candidate.”  I agree with Nunes, but go further and observe that the one candidate we settle on to try to win should definitely not be John Cox, who was the man Gavin Newsom “feared least” in the 2018 election campaign, in which Cox was able to snag the GOP nomination in a crowded primary but went on to finish the race with a dismal 38.1% of the vote against Newsom’s 61.9%.  Cox was such a bad candidate, that Newsom actually spent millions on television ads putting Cox’s face on the screen and accurately informing the public of Cox’s position on the issues.  I think Newsom may even have outspent Cox himself in telling the public what Cox stood for, and those issues and Cox’s curious personality simply did not resonate with most Californians in 2018.

It has been a long time since a Republican has held a statewide office in California.  Yet “now is now,” and the widespread discontent with Governor Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and the litany of his other failures in managing the state, like grabbing too much power, and trying to erase the state’s death penalty law, too long to detail here, have created an opportunity to remove him from office under the state’s recall system, and allow for a new Governor to take the helm.   Could the winning replacement candidate who captures the imagination of these throngs of disenchanted Californians actually be a Republican?

It would be a stretch for a Republican to be the top vote getter in California if Newsom is recalled.  Republican registration in the state has fallen to lowest levels since statehood.  Newsom and his campaign advisors will also vilify any Republican by tying them to an “unpopular” Donald Trump.

Yet it is not impossible for a Republican to win.  Several deeply “blue” states have elected Republican Governors as a sort of check on Democratic control of state legislatures.  Massachusetts and Maryland, and even Illinois a few years ago, are examples.  The distrust of Newsom is currently strong, and getting stronger, and earning headlines like “Two job performance polls give Gavin Newsom bad news, and worse news.”  It makes sense that changes in voter attitudes on Newsom could also signal changes in attitude about party preference for Governor.  The way the recall ballot is structured, whoever comes in first out of a long list of replacement candidates is the winner.  This is how Schwarzenegger was first elected in 2003.  It doesn’t take a majority vote, just the top vote getter on a long list of candidates.  The fact that Republicans are a “minority party” is not such a big disadvantage in a recall election – if Republicans are disciplined.  I am not saying it is a sure thing, but I believe it is in the realm of possibility that Republicans could elect the next Governor coming out of the Newsom recall effort, as long as we heed Nune’s advice: to “settle on one candidate.”

John Cox simply is not that candidate.  I have nothing against John Cox personally and I’ll bet he is a good guy.  But as a political candidate he has an extensive, remarkable history as a loser, who has never won an election, he has taken some awful issue positions, and will be a spoiler in the recall election for Republicans if he stays in the race, or if Republican voters take him seriously and give him enough support to lose the replacement election for us.

            It is time for Republicans to reflect on who John Cox is politically and stop taking him seriously.

John Cox was hardly a serious candidate for governor of California in 2018 when the first UC Berkeley/IGS poll was announced in March of 2017 and gave him, the only Republican listed in the poll, 18 percent of the vote and the prized second spot against Gavin Newsom, suggesting to amateur political observers that he might have a chance.  The ensuing press reports took Cox seriously. But none of the reporters did much homework on Cox, labeling him positively as a political newcomer or outsider. They all failed to mention he had been on the ballot before in California, with an awful showing. The reporters could have recalled for readers that Cox was surely not a fresh face to our statewide ballot, and that the last time he was on it, he ran for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the February, 2008 primary, and proved a miserable votegetter, barely mustering 3,200 votes statewide, finishing with .01 percent, while both John McCain and Mitt Romney drew over a million votes each.

Cox, a native of Illinois, is a serial candidate, and what older Republican operatives might label a “Harold Stassen.” Stassen once served as governor of Minnesota and was termed a “boy wonder,” but was bit so hard by the political bug that he ran for the GOP nomination for president, unsuccessfully, 9 times in a row, losing every time.   Cox only differs from Stassen in that Cox has never won any elective office, and he has run plenty of times. He has actually hit a trifecta of losses having run for every federal office one can, losing each time. Cox has run for Cook County Clerk, Congress, and U.S. Senate, all in Illinois, losing all the races, all losses by wide margins.

But in 2008, despite all his previous electoral defeats, Cox decided to run for president as well. He says he contributed $1 million to his campaign, visited all 99 counties in Iowa, campaigned hard in New Hampshire with 14 visits, visited South Carolina 10 times to campaign, and appeared on the ballot in California. During his campaign, he got into an altercation with security at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley because his campaign performance had proven so insignificant that they would not let him in to the presidential debate. Even though he was excluded, he still tried to use a questionable media credential to enter the premises under the ruse he was a fake press operative. His vote-getting prowess was a disaster – he received not one delegate to the Republican National Convention.

By June 2017, Cox quickly fell in the gubernatorial race polls, losing 50 percent of his initial support, in the second UC Berkeley/IGS  poll when just one other Republican was added to the mix by the poll authors – this time former Assemblyman David Hadley, who was not even an announced candidate for governor at the time. The significance of the second poll, with Cox running hard for several months yet dropping from 18 percent to 9 percent as an announced candidate, and Hadley at 7 percent as an unannounced candidate with no campaign, established that Republicans had hardly raised a groundswell of support for Cox in the first poll, rather, Cox made a showing in the first poll in March because he was the only candidate on the poll Republicans had to chose from. As soon as another Republican was put on the list to chose from in the second poll, even someone not running for the office at the time, Cox’s support quickly and very significantly tanked.  Cox’s lack of real support was evidenced again in a poll in Silicon Valley in May where, once again, when listed as the only Republican on the ballot he received 16 percent of the vote, however, when the poll considered “favorability,” Cox garnered a terrible 3 percent, the lowest favorability rate of all the candidates.

When asked about the 2016 election, Cox would not tell the San Francisco Chronicle whether or not he voted for Donald Trump for president. While Cox’s strategy may now be to separate himself from Trump, Cox has gone back-and-forth on the issue of Trump.  In the 2018 election campaign, for months, John Cox refused to say who he had voted for as President.  He finally admitted that he opposed Donald Trump and voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson.  When speaking with Univision on January 13, 2017, John Cox opposed Trump’s policy to build a border wall.   Did you know that Republicans?  Just 17 days later, he tweeted out that he supported the border wall.  Cox also opposes the death penalty, a law which has been voted on favorably twice by Californians in the last decade, and which has been a part of California law since statehood.

The issues Californians and Republicans care about in opinion polls, like being taxed too much, do not really appear on Cox’s radar screen.  Cox’s central campaign theme early in his 2018 race was his “Neighborhood Legislature” idea, to expand the California Senate and Assembly to 12,000 partisan members. I ask you dear reader, do you really think what California needs right now to deal with the pandemic and other problems are 12,000 more partisan elected officials in Sacramento?  What does it tell you about a politician who thinks adding 12,000 more elected officials in Sacramento is a good idea?

It is truly a nutty idea that has no support in opinion polls. While the state Legislature is in need of reform, like making itself a part-time body, world history tells us increasing its size to that of a small coastal city is not going to improve policy. There were also thousands of members of the Soviet Union’s legislative body, far too many, intentionally, to actually make decisions, and the result was the concentration of power in a small committee known as the Politburo, which established a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” We are close enough as it is today with near dictatorship of Democratic control in Sacramento, to just add thousands more people to the legislative ranks.

What California needs is a fresh approach to our problems and also some political balance, and if the Republican Party can settle on a single, strong candidate to run for Governor in a field of many other non-Republican replacement candidates (as there will be), as Congressman Nunes says, there is indeed a long-shot chance a united GOP could win. But that candidate is definitely not John Cox.

Mike Levin, please return my phone call! What is your position on HR 51 – D.C. Statehood?! Note: Updated – see postscript.

Dana Point where I live is in the 49th Congressional District.  Formerly a reliable Republican stronghold, Democrat Mike Levin is now my Congressman.  Levin flipped the seat in 2018 and managed to win a pretty strong re-election in 2020.  But the district still has a dominant Republican registration and could be a targeted district again for both parties in 2022.

I actually thought Levin was a decent representative, for a Democrat.  While there is no denying my Republican and conservative bias, and the fact that I have been an elected official in the district (once a member of the Dana Point City Council), I had been impressed with his work with the Surfrider Foundation and in cleaning up the mess at the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant nearby.  I know several Republicans who like me, have liked what Levin has done on San Onofre, and some voted for him because he had taken the problems at San Onofre seriously and worked for solutions, while his Republican opponents really hadn’t seemed to have embraced the environmental concerns presented by the closure of the nuclear plant with the same enthusiasm.

However, I now can’t say Levin is doing a good job as a Democrat in a Republican seat.  I almost could, but now I cannot.  And this is because I called his local office, in Oceanside, on Thursday, February 11 at 3 pm in the afternoon to ask a simple but important question: “What is your position on HR 51?”  I had to leave a voice mail message, as no live person answered the phone, but it is now February 21, and after 10 days of no follow-up, I am pretty sure my important question, one I am entitled as a voter in the district to have answered, is going to be ignored.  I don’t know what my Congressman’s position is on a piece of legislation he is being asked to consider.

HR 51 is the proposal that would make the District of Columbia a full-fledged state.  To be enacted, all it needs is a majority vote in the House of Representatives (218 votes) and a majority in the US Senate (51 votes).  If that happens, residents of Washington, DC will then elect two new members of the US Senate and a voting member of the House.

There are a lot of problems with HR 51.  The first is that if it is enacted, California’s influence in the Senate would be diluted.  The next is that the two new Senators would very likely reflect the very liberal politics of D.C.’s voters for generations to come, ensuring liberal policies and giving the Democrats a rather unfair and perhaps even underhanded advantage in the Senate.  Other problems include intrusion on several constitutional provisions that intend for the District to be a Federal district free of politics and not a state.  A 16-page report detailing why admitting the District of Columbia to the union is a bad idea can be found here: https://usjf.net/2020/07/28/d-c-statehood/.

I lived in the District when I worked in the Reagan and Bush I Administrations and as a self-governing entity it was a total disaster then.  I have so many negative stories I can impart about living in the District.  The rampant riots and disorder of last year are a continuing witness to why the District should not be given statehood.  But brazen politics are at play here…

HR 51 is cosponsored by 210 members of the House, all Democrats.  It only needs 8 more votes to pass the House.  Mike Levin is one of 11 Democrats who have not joined as cosponsors of the D.C. statehood bill.  Thus, his position on HR 51 is really, really important, because Levin could make a difference.

I have done some polling and I am pretty sure that the majority of residents of the 49th Congressional District are skeptical of adding the District of Columbia as a full-fledged state to the union.  Mike Levin would be “voting his district” and doing the right thing in my mind, to oppose HR 51.  He is a critical vote than can make or break this awful legislation.  Congressman Levin – please tell us – what is your position on HR 51?!  We deserve to know.  Your constituents deserve an answer.  And you ought to have the decency to return calls from an actual constituent in your district on the people’s business before you.

P.S. – Update: I received a cordial call from Congressman Levin’s office today (Monday 2/22). The staff member kindly apologized for the delay in getting back to me and confirmed that Congressman Levin was not a cosponsor of HR 51 in this Congress. The staff member also confirmed that Congressman Levin supported DC Statehood in the last Congress and research indicates he voted in favor of a similar bill in 2020. But the staff member said he would be willing to read a 16-page report I offered on reasons why DC Statehood is a bad idea. Now that DC Statehood is more of a possibility in this new Congress, I truly hope that Mike Levin will resist the pressure from his caucus and not support this awful bill.