Analysis: Schiff’s false claim his committee had not spoken to the whistleblower

“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”

— Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sept. 17

We recently took Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to task for misleading reporters about the fact that he was a participant in the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that was the subject of a whistleblower complaint and now an impeachment inquiry in Congress. He earned Four Pinocchios for being disingenuous in his remarks to reporters to obscure his firsthand knowledge of what took place.

But politicians spin all across Washington, often to deflect uncomfortable facts. Now let’s look at comments by Schiff, who is heading the impeachment inquiry, as reporters probed about the whistleblower before the details of the allegation were revealed.

Schiff’s answers are especially interesting in the wake of reports in the New York Times and The Washington Post that the whistleblower approached a House Intelligence Committee staff member for guidance before filing a complaint with the Intelligence Community inspector general. The staff member learned the “very bare contours” of the allegation that Trump has abused the powers of his office, The Post said. …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post

California’s Electric Car Future to Nowhere

California lawmakers won’t give up on their crusade to force everyone in the state into electric cars (before eventually removing us out of our cars altogether). That electric vehicles neither sell nor perform up to reasonable expectations is irrelevant to the anti-car movement in Sacramento.

It’s almost a given that Sacramento will eventually ban automobiles that run on internal-combustion engines, if not by 2040, then not long after. Legislative gears sometimes turn slowly, though, so in the interim lawmakers desperate to force battery-operated vehicles on consumers introduced this year a bill to “restructure” the state’s incentive program for boosting “green” car sales. It would increase the payout to as much as $7,500 for buyers of the misleadingly named zero-emissions vehicles, three times the current government bribe.

Assembly Bill 1046 won’t get a floor vote this year. But before lawmakers consider raising the handout the next time the idea comes around, before they vote to outlaw conventional automobiles, they should be reminded of the Los Angeles Police Department’s experience to green its fleet. It would be instructive.

In 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department announced it was leasing a stable of plug-in BMW i3s, eventually as many as 300 at a cost of $10.2 million, including charging stations, according to the local media.The public was told these EVs were to be the department’s “patrol cars of the future.” Deputy Police Chief Jorge Villegas said the program was “all a part of saving the Earth, going green,” a statement bound to confuse to those who thought law enforcement’s duty was to protect and serve the citizenry.

Despite the promises of a greener blue, Los Angeles CBS affiliate reporter David Goldstein found the EVs were being “unused or misused.”

“Our investigation of department records found some electric cars are sitting unused with only a few hundred miles on them, and with hidden cameras, we found others are allegedly being misused,” said Goldstein.

“Misuse” is apparently interchangeable with “personal use.” In his first report, Goldstein told the story of finding a “commander driving one of the department’s fleet of electric BMWs to a nail salon.” A year later, in February 2019, Goldstein caught a police psychologist “using one of the department’s fleet of electric BMW’s to commute to and from work.”

In that same follow-up, Goldstein reported the department had postponed the delivery of the final batch of i3s. They obviously weren’t meeting the department’s expectations. 

”Updated figures obtained from the department through November (2018) show the cars are still underused, some with just a few thousand miles on them,” said Goldstein, “even though some are almost three years old.”

No one should be surprised the “patrol cars of the future” haven’t been out on patrol. Goldstein says some in the department are reluctant to take them out “because they can only go 80-100 miles on a charge.”

“And the mileage logs we obtained seem to back that up.”

Maybe one day EVs will have batteries that will triple or even quadruple their range, turning them into practical automobiles. But today is not that day. Neither is tomorrow.

Though more electric vehicles are sold in California than in all other states combined, only a shallow analysis could conclude that’s evidence of a wild popularity. Fewer than eight of every 100 news cars sold in this state is an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, and that’s even with the government using taxpayers’ money to reward consumers who buy them. That lawmakers are considering tripling the subsidy is evidence of how unpopular they are.

But increasing the largess is no guarantee that consumers will start buying EVs in large enough quantities to reach the state’s goal of 5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2030. Sales are in fact “slipping below sales in the prior four years,” says the California Center For Jobs & The Economy. 

Meanwhile, after being flat for three quarters, then falling slightly in the first quarter of 2019, sales of gasoline-powered cars and trucks picked up sharply in the second quarter. It’s part of a long-term growth trend in which consumers still eagerly buy conventional automobiles despite the fact Sacramento disapproves of them. California’s political class should read this as a repudiation of the plans it expects everyone to follow without question or resistance.

But they won’t. Consumers’ defiance is likely just to make lawmakers double their efforts, since they’re convinced they know what’s best.

Click here to read the full article from the Pacific Research Institute

Kevin McCarthy criticizes ‘recklessness’ of impeachment inquiry

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to suspend Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

McCarthy sent a letter to Pelosi on Thursday warning the California Democrat that impeachment proceedings should be conducted in line with historical precedent to maintain the integrity of Congress.

“I am writing to request you suspend all efforts surrounding your ‘impeachment inquiry’ until transparent and equitable rules and procedures are established to govern the inquiry, as is customary,” McCarthy wrote.

“Unfortunately, you have given no clear indication as to how your impeachment inquiry will proceed — including whether key historical precedents or basic standards of due process will be observed,” McCarthy continued. …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Examiner

What a Schiff Show

Look who’s colluding now.

The New York Times just published a bombshell: Adam Schiff’s office met with the whistleblower prior to the complaint being filed, helped shepherd him through the process the way Schiff’s team wanted, and then played dumb and subpoenaed for the complaint they knew had been filed because they were part of the process.

The Times reports: “The whistle-blower’s decision to offer what amounted to an early warning to the intelligence committee’s Democrats is also sure to thrust Mr. Schiff even more forcefully into the center of the controversy.”  Obviously.

This report is yet another nail in the coffin of the Democrats’ bogus impeachment charade and further proof that this Ukraine sham is a disingenuous and orchestrated smear campaign led by Adam Schiff and the socialist squad.  

By getting an early account of the whistle-blower’s complaint, Schiff knew what to expect in the complaint and he was able to shape his phony narrative for his benefit.

As the Times reports, Schiff’s committee even helped guide the so-called whistleblower to an attorney. And who is that attorney? A partisan lawyer who worked for Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and donated to Joe Biden.

No wonder James Clapper called this complaint the “best written” complaint he’s ever seen.

Oh and by the way, here’s a clip of Schiff lying on September 17, saying his office had no contact with the whistleblower prior to the complaint being filed.

For Democrats, it has always been impeachment first, and fill in the blank with the reason after. In the wake of this new revelation, Democrats like Josh Harder, TJ Cox, Katie Hill, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda, and Mike Levin who jumped on the impeachment bandwagon must now be forced to explain to their Districts why their latest hoax is blowing up in their face.

Stop the madness: This is damning evidence that the Democrats’ impeachment push is a TOTAL sham. Voters in the California will remember these charades when they head to the ballot box in 2020.

Samantha Zager is Regional Communications Director

Taxpayer Money Used to Save Declining Union Movement

When the Supreme Court ruled in June 2018 that government workers couldn’t be forced to join a union or pay dues, politicians in pro-labor states vowed to help their union allies maintain their membership. California, whose government has long had a reputation for being highly responsive to labor’s needs, has outdone itself again in pursuing labor’s agenda since the Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Recently, Sacramento passed laws expanding the eligibility pool of workers for public and private unions, reining in employers hostile to labor, and committing new taxpayer money to support the pay and benefits of union workers. Whether the Golden State’s political class can help stop labor’s long decline is another question—but give the state’s politicians credit for trying extra hard.

The latest salvo in California’s pro-union arsenal is a law that allows government-paid child-care workers to organize and bargain for higher wages and benefits with the state itself—which pays their salaries! If that sounds bizarre (why doesn’t the state just pay them more?), remember that after Janus, unions can’t force government-paid workers to join their organizations or pay dues and fees. That gets at the real purpose of the bill. It not only allows these workers to organize but also gives unions the right to attend orientation sessions to pitch union membership to new workers. In other words, the state has just extended potential union membership to 40,000 people whom it’s paying to care for kids, and legislators helpfully created the organizing mechanism for unions to make their case to these folks. All this was done under the guise of boosting these workers’ “poverty wages.” But in exchange for the privilege of allowing a union to bargain for them, they will have to pay union dues, which means that they’ll make less than if the state had simply given them a raise.

Meantime, the state also passed a law heavily backed by the state’s powerful California Teachers Association that will likely derail the growth of charter schools. The law empowers local districts to curtail charter school formation, including denying a school’s application to operate if officials believe that the new school will adversely affect its finances by drawing students—and hence funding—away from local public schools. The CTA has waged a long campaign against charters because of trouble organizing them; only 30 percent of the state’s charter schools have unionized workplaces. In addition to limiting the options for parents looking to transfer their kids out of failing public schools, the new legislation is also likely to make school board elections highly contentious, as the union and charter school backers direct resources to back their preferred candidates.

California’s private-sector organizing was the focus of another union-friendly law, Assembly Bill 5, passed last month to target so-called gig economy workers at employers like Uber and Lyft. The radical legislation redefines the companies’ for-hire drivers and other kinds of contract workers as permanent employees and extends to them many of the benefits those workers qualify for, including minimum wage and overtime pay—even if the workers themselves want to retain their flexible, part-time, or for-hire status. Notably, the bill exempts many professions with no history of unionization from the new requirements, including doctors and artists, but conveniently reclassifies some 1 million gig economy workers as permanent employees, making them ripe for organizing campaigns.

Unions have also won significant new funding in the state budget, which has been growing, thanks to an expanding national economy, though no one in Sacramento would dare call it Trump’s economy. Union allies persuaded state legislators earlier this year, for instance, to pony up $3 billion to help school districts pay for efforts to bail out the troubled California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The budget also allocates money so that the state can update records on child-care workers—the easier for unions to organize them—and grants funds to pay school-district employees who aren’t salaried during the summer.

How much all this ultimately matters to California’s labor movement is not clear. The Golden State has made extraordinary efforts in support of unions for decades, but that hasn’t stopped the decline of the labor movement. In the early 1990s, for example, the Service Employees International Union persuaded the state legislature to allow local governments to declare independent home health-care workers as state employees if they were paid with Medicaid funds. That led to massive organizing drives that many workers, who worked out of patients’ homes, didn’t even know were taking place. Ultimately, SEIU gained 130,000 new members because of the effort, and even those who didn’t vote for unionization were forced to pay union dues or fees.

Despite such extraordinary assistance from Sacramento, however, the share of state union workers has declined to 14.7 percent from 16.1 percent over the last 20 years, according to unionstats.com. Public-sector unions have struggled especially since the Great Recession ended in 2009, despite the state economy’s rebound. The portion of government workers belonging to a union is down from 55.8 percent in 2009 to 50.3 percent today, even as the total number of state public employees has reached new highs.

The state legislature isn’t about to extend to its own employees the rights that it gives to private workers and other government personnel. According to long-time Sacramento columnist Dan Walters, the one union-backed bill that didn’t make it through the California state house this year would give unionization privileges to employees of the legislature itself. That would be too union-friendly, apparently.

Steven Malanga is the senior editor of City Journal, the George M. Yeager Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer.

This article was originally published by City Journal online.

Nearly entire CA House delegation – including 4 Republicans – backs cannabis banking

More than three-quarters of California’s local governments have declined to authorize retail stores to sell cannabis, as permitted by state voters with their 2016 approval of Proposition 64. Opposition has been led by moderate Democrats and conservative Republicans unconvinced that making the drug readily available for recreational use is good for society.

But much of California’s House delegation is supportive of helping the marijuana industry achieve a key goal: access to the banking system. Even with cannabis now legal in some form in 33 states, the great majority of banks and credit unions in the Golden State and elsewhere have declined to do business with marijuana-related businesses because possession and sale of the drug remain illegal under federal law.

Last week, the House passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act 321 to 103. Every California Democrat backed the measure and so did four of the state’s seven Republican members: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove, Devin Nunes of Tulare and Duncan Hunter of Alpine.

The passage of the bill after past efforts went nowhere was widely credited to a change in focus in lobbying. Leading the push this time was lobbyists for the financial services industry itself – not the cannabis industry. They argued that making a multibillion-dollar industry use cash only created headaches and safety risks for the many legitimate, longstanding businesses that dealt with cannabis companies.

Bankers say other businesses shouldn’t be inconvenienced

American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols told Politico, “The most compelling arguments have been centered around these secondary relationships. It’s the local plumber, it’s the local electrician, it’s the attorney, it’s the accountant who are doing business with a cannabis grower or dispensary who are then having challenges associated with getting banking products and services.”

The American Financial Services Association focused its lobbying on McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, also emphasizing the need to stop inconveniencing so many established businesses.

The fate of the SAFE bill in the Senate is unclear. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has said that he will schedule a hearing on the bill, but his aides said that should not be interpreted as support.

California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, are expected to be supportive. After 35 years as a staunch supporter of the drug war, Feinstein reversed course in spring 2018.

“My state has legalized marijuana for personal use, and as California continues to implement this law, we need to ensure we have strong safety rules to prevent impaired driving and youth access, similar to other public health issues like alcohol,” she told a McClatchy reporter.

Harris has also changed her position. In 2010, while running for California attorney general, she opposed an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use. 

“Spending two decades in courtrooms, Harris believes that drug selling harms communities,” her aide told Capitol Weekly. “Harris supports the legal use of medicinal marijuana but does not support anything beyond that.”

But her position softened over the years, and last year she signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill by Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, that would make cannabis legal under federal law.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Casting a Vote on Newfangled Voting Equipment

There was a mock election in Los Angeles County this weekend put on by the county registrar-recorder’s office and I voted for the Hollywood sign as the most iconic L.A. landmark. The question about the best landmark was one of the 14 test questions included in the mock election for county residents to test out the new voting system that will be in place at vote centers around the county for the coming March 3 primary.

As someone who likes the idea of neighborhood voting places, I find vote centers placed around the county a foreign concept but I participated in the election to give the new equipment a try.

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan calls the change for the county’s 5.3 million voters “Voting Solutions for All People.”

The site I chose for the mock election was actually erected outside at a park basketball court and the opening of the facility was delayed over an hour because of a light drizzle that fell on that part of Los Angeles Saturday morning.

Ten new digital voting booths were set up under tent covers. A voter had to sign in on an electronic screen after the election official found your name among registered voters. Once that was accomplished a ballot was printed, but it wasn’t like any ballot I’d seen before. It was mostly a blank 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. What was printed was one of those QR code squares (QR for Quick Response) with the voter’s information miraculously scrambled inside the square.

The voter ID is necessary to make sure when the votes are counted one voter doesn’t go from vote center to vote center to cast ballots. Under the new system, a voter can vote at any vote center in the county.

The voter then goes to the digital ballot booth, which is wider than the old-fashioned voting booths. Rather than a booth it is a machine mounted on four legs with yellow sideboards (for privacy). The center of the contraption has a large iPad like device. To the left is a headset and controls that can provide verbal assistance. To the right of the pad is a flat place that acts like a serving tray where the QR imprinted sheet of paper goes. The paper is then sucked into the machine like a paper check at an ATM machine.

In the mock election, the voter was asked to vote on best parks, sports teams, landmarks etc. in the L.A. area. In March, candidates and ballot measures will fill the screen. The voter pushed buttons on the screen to cast the votes. There is an opportunity to review the vote before printing out the ballot. After checking the printed ballot, the voter places the ballot back on the serving tray area and once again the paper is sucked into the machine.

Your vote now has been cast.

County officials say the votes will only be tabulated according to what is on the paper ballot. The digital device is not connected to the Internet to protect against voter fraud.

The test run was looking for problems with the new set up. The electronics worked smoothly, but I did raise some concerns in a follow-up questioner.

  • If a contested candidate race in the era of top-two primary has many candidates, it is doubtful all can fit on one iPad like screen. Presumably, the voter would use a button marked “More” to see all candidates.  One of the questions in the mock election used the “More” button. Will all the voters see the “More” button? Candidates who head the list on the screen’s first page will have a distinct advantage.
  • The printing of the ballot at sign-in seemed slow and could help to create a line build-up at the sign in table, although one hopes as the system is used more often and vote officials become more familiar with the procedure, the process moves more quickly.
  • How many ballot sheets might be needed if there is an extraordinary long ballot?
  • Despite the yellow sideboards surrounding the device, the large screen makes a secret ballot more vulnerable to prying eyes, depending on how the machines are configured at a particular polling place.

Finally, a cautious word to my friends in the newspaper world. The after mock election survey asked among other things about how the person participating in the trial learned about it. Television, radio, Internet and others items could be checked off. Newspapers were forgotten. I had to write newspaper under the category: “Other.”

Joel Fox is editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Kamala Harris’ First California Campaign Office a ‘Waste of Time’

Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes, flickr

Even though recent polls show Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris trailing badly in her home state – including in San Francisco where she was born, raised and held office – the former California attorney general decided it was a good time to open up a new campaign office in Oakland.

According to Trump Victory Spokesperson Samantha Zager, “Kamala Harris is wasting her time by opening her first California campaign office today. Voters have watched as she has ignored her home state, and her poll numbers have plummeted as a result. Just like her tenure as California Attorney General, Kamala’s candidacy for president is a true disappointment to voters in the Golden State.”

As little background:

  • Kamala Harris was recently overheard saying that she is “moving to Iowa” to pull her out of her summer polling slump.
  • Harris has plummeted in national polling recently and her numbers are now suffering in California as well.
  • Tulsi Gabbard called out Kamala Harris during the second Democrat debate for her record as California Attorney General.

Assembly Bill 133 Can Help Keep Seniors in Their Homes

Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, it was not uncommon for seniors on fixed incomes who had already paid off their mortgages to nonetheless lose their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay their property taxes.

While Proposition 13 continues to protect millions of older Californians by providing reasonable and predictable property tax liability, for low-income seniors it may not be enough.

Voter approved local bonds and parcel taxes that are added to property tax bills above and beyond Proposition 13’s one percent cap have typically added hundreds of dollars a year to individual property tax bills across the state.

One of the state programs meant to help seniors over age 65, the blind, and the disabled stay in their homes is the Property Tax Postponement program or PTP.

The concept behind the Tax Postponement program is simple. A lien is placed against the home of an eligible individual and all property taxes are deferred.

Later, when the homeowner moves, the taxes are paid out of the sale of the home plus simple interest.

The program worked perfectly for 40 years. Beyond paying for itself, 6,000 homeowners from across California benefit from the Property Tax Postponement program.

To read the entire column, please click here.

New Bill Allows California College Athletes to Profit from Endorsements

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Monday that would allow California athletes to earn money from the use of their names, images and likenesses, despite warnings from the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. that the measure would upend amateur sports.

Senate Bill 206 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) garnered national attention, with athletes including NBA stars LeBron James and Draymond Green lauding the California effort to give college athletes a share of the windfall they help create for their universities and NCAA. The bill passed the state Legislature unanimously.

Newsom, who played baseball at Santa Clara University, said in September that having been a student athlete, he had “very strong opinions on this subject.”

The bill would prohibit the NCAA from barring a university from competition if its athletes are compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness beginning in 2023. NCAA rules strictly prohibit athletes from profiting in any way from their sports. …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Times