California’s War Against Trump Costs the State Millions

xavier-becerraThe ongoing war between California state officials and the Trump administration is costing the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars, data from the California Department of Justice indicates.

Since President Trump took office in January 2017, California has filed 44 lawsuits against the administration, while the federal government has filed three against California. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the state’s tab for legal fees has been more than $9 million – up from nearly $3 million the previous year, the Sacramento Bee reported.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, has downplayed the costs involved in the California vs. Trump war, pointing out that it amounts to less than 1 percent of the state Department of Justice’s $894 million annual budget. He said the costs were a small price to pay to fight federal overreach.

“When you put into perspective that less than one percent of our budget is going to defend our people, our values and our resources, I think most people would say ‘Don’t stop,’” Becerra said. “[A]ny one of those items … would dwarf what we’d have to spend for all the litigation efforts that we’ve undertaken to defend the state of California against the federal government’s intrusion. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

Making the DMV Audit a Reality

dmv

Motorists across the state have had to wait in hours-long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register their vehicle or license renewal. Some have spent an entire day waiting in line. Upset drivers have flooded my office with calls and emails.

To make matters worse, DMV personnel mangled 23,000 voter registrations. How did this happen?

In 2015, Democrats passed the Motor Voter Law, directing the DMV to automatically register new voters, unless they choose to opt out. State Senate Republicans warned that this would be problematic. At the time, my colleagues and I expressed our concerns of adding to an already overburdened workload at the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV is the wrong venue to register new voters since this is not the agency’s area of expertise.

Three years later, we learn that tens of thousands of Californians have been registered to vote even though they did not want to be registered. The DMV also made “mistakes” that assigned some voters a different political party preference than the one they chose. We sincerely hope this was not a case of voter fraud.

Once again, the DMV is the state agency that just can’t get it right. It already has been criticized by the public for long wait times, which it blames on an antiquated computer system and the federal REAL ID law – passed in 2005 and set to be implemented by 2020.

Before the legislative session concluded in August, a group of Assembly Republicans called for an audit of the DMV. At the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit hearing, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto apologized for the long wait times, asked for more money and reassured lawmakers that the problem would be corrected by the end of the year. The request for an audit failed after some Democrats did not vote for it.

The public has lost confidence in the DMV.

It has mishandled its core mission, along with a long list of problems including the erroneous registration of voter affidavits. Something needs to be done to regain that trust. The best way to do so is for the DMV to undergo a nonpartisan audit, which would reveal the extent of its problems and suggest recommendations for fixing them.

Enough excuses. Let’s audit the DMV now.

California State Senate.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Silicon Valley’s Political Perils

FacebookLast week’s news underscored growing concerns over the politicization of tech companies. With his inimitable style, President Trump claimed on Twitter that Google shows political bias by skewing the news found in online searches. Relatedly, a group of some 100 conservative-leaning Facebook employees formed an online community to escape the strictures of a “political monoculture” and provide themselves a “safe” place for “ideological diversity” among their 25,000 co-workers.

It’s a truism that Silicon Valley leans left, but the average tech millionaire is not easy to pigeonhole ideologically. A revealing, if little-noted, 2017 study from Stanford University compared more than 600 “elite technology company leaders and founders,” 80 percent of them millionaires, with more than “1,100 elite partisan donors” of both political persuasions. The distinctions are revelatory for anyone interested in mapping the future of American politics. “Increasingly, technology entrepreneurs are using their personal wealth and firms’ power to exercise political influence,” the survey’s authors observe. “For example, recent federal candidates have referred to Silicon Valley as a ‘political ATM’.” The study found that 80 percent of tech millionaires overwhelmingly donate to Democrats over Republicans; hardly a surprising finding.

But the key reveal of the Stanford analysis is not about party alignment in donations: it’s in what can only be called a kind of political schizophrenia around the core ideologies associated with each party. On one hand, the study showed that Silicon Valley’s titans are firmly aligned with Democrats on social issues, what the survey calls “liberal redistributive, social, and globalistic policies.”  But on the other hand, the survey shows that the ideologies—if not the financial support—of tech millionaires solidly align with Republicans on issues relating to the regulatory environment, specifically around such topics as drones, data storage, self-driving cars, and employee policies.

This ideological rift prompted the Stanford researchers to conclude that tech’s business elites are donating politically against their “self-interest.” For analysts and political operatives, the question is whether that’s an immutable or malleable political reality. After all, it’s not just Republicans like President Trump attacking Silicon Valley; Senator Bernie Sanders, the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, is one of many in that caucus taking on the tech giants on “fairness” issues surrounding income inequality in general and Amazon CEO’s Jeff Bezos’s uber-wealth in particular.

It’s risky for companies to become identified with a specific political orientation. The recent evidence of a political tilt at numerous Silicon Valley firms—or at least among their leaders—has ignited controversy, not just in Washington but also in the tech community itself. At least one Valley executive worries that “political correctness” could hurt innovation, the mother’s milk of the tech sector. Google’s firing of engineer James Damore for raising questions about gender differences on an internal discussion board showed the willingness of tech companies to police political expression.

There is a real existential risk for tech companies to be found in the historical propensity of governments to declare new tech enterprises, especially new means of communication, as inherently monopolistic—and thus inherently unfair. Back in 1949, on the theory that radio broadcast companies had monopolistic control of that medium, Congress ordered broadcasters to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance.” The Fairness Doctrine would survive for nearly four decades, before it was revoked in 1987.

Some Democrats sought to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine a decade or so ago, in response to the rise of talk radio, which became overwhelmingly conservative after 1987. Now, some Republicans (and Democrats, too) are looking again at the notion of “fairness” in the context of the dominant market share enjoyed by the likes of Facebook or Google. Google’s global share of “search” has reached 90percent, and Senator Orrin Hatch has already sent a letter to the FTC to request an investigation of anti-competitive practices at the company.

When it comes to issues surrounding access to accurate and “fair” news and information in particular, the challenging question is whether anyone can easily see if there is (or isn’t) an algorithmic finger on the scale of fairness. In the history of the news business, this is an unprecedented concern. The designers and coders of the algorithms respond that the Web’s interstices are arcane and not easy for the layman to understand. In effect, the experts are saying: it’s complicated, so trust us. From a technical perspective, it would indeed be difficult to come up with a “user interface” that provided credible transparency about how news and information are curated or accessed on Web platforms. But one could have said the same thing, circa 1990, about converting the Arpanet’s technically arcane TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) into a Web system so simple that preschool children can use it now.

As Steve Jobs famously said two decades ago, “simple can be harder than complex.” But conquering complexity used to be what animated Silicon Valley. That is, in fact, how Google got started. It’s time to revive that zeitgeist, and make the power of news on the Internet not just easy to use, but easy to trust.

Kaepernick ads spark Nike boycott campaign

Nike Just do it KaepernickProtesters burned their Nike shoes, investors sold shares and some consumers demanded a boycott after the footwear and apparel maker launched an advertising campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who sparked a national controversy by kneeling during the national anthem.

But the brand recognition that comes with the campaign may be just what the company wanted, and marketing experts predicted it would ultimately succeed.

The ad revived a raging debate in the United States that started in 2016 when Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem to protest multiple police shootings of unarmed black men.

While some fans praised Kaepernick and other players who joined him in kneeling as patriotic dissenters, critics led by U.S. President Donald Trump blasted the protesters as ungrateful and disrespectful. …

Click here to read the full article from Reuters

Trump Blasts Newsom’s Universal Healthcare Plan for Illegal Immigrants

trump-debatePresident Donald Trump on Friday blasted California Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom for supporting universal health care for illegal immigrants, asking, “What happens if the whole world decides to go to California?”

Speaking at a North Carolina event, Trump said Newsom wants “health care for everyone. He wants everything for everyone. He wants to open up the borders. He wants to take care of everyone.”

“And I was just saying, what happens if the whole world decides to go to California?” Trump continued.

Trump said Newsom’s plan means “they’re going to take care of the whole world.”

“Where do you stop?” Trump asked. “You’re going to take care of a lot of people, but they’re not going to be able to do it for very long because it’s not going to work.”

Earlier this week, Newsom said he would like to extend San Francisco’s universal healthcare plan for illegal immigrants that he ushered in when he was mayor to the rest of the state.

“I did universal health care when I was mayor. Fully implemented, regardless of pre-existing conditions, ability to pay, and regardless of your immigration status,” Newsom said. “San Francisco is the only universal health care plan for all undocumented residents in America. Very proud of that. We proved it could be done without bankrupting the city. I’d like to see that extended to the rest of the state.”

Newsom also claimed on Twitter that offering universal health care to illegal immigrants is “the economically smart thing to do.”

“If we don’t offer coverage to everyone – regardless of income or immigration status – we will still carry the expense,” Newson said. “Universal access isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the economically smart thing to do.”

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Despite indictment, Rep. Hunter holds 8-point lead in House race

Duncan HunterrumpThe 60-count indictment issued Aug. 21 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego targeting Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and wife Margaret Hunter for allegedly spending $250,000 in campaign funds for personal uses, then trying to cover up their actions, has led to media speculation that Hunter’s seat was a potential Democratic pickup in November.

“Duncan Hunter’s Indictment in California Opens the Door for a Long-Shot Challenger,” was the headline on a New York Times analysis by veteran political reporter Adam Nagourney.

“Hunter’s scandals make his once-safe Republican district competitive,” declared a Vox piece written by Tara Golshan.

But the idea that California’s 50th Congressional District – which covers much of east and north San Diego County and south Riverside County – might be in play seemed far more plausible to East Coast media outlets than to media in Southern California.

That’s because the district is as solidly Republican as any in California. Republicans hold a 15-percent registration edge over Democrats, Donald Trump won the district by the same amount in 2016, and in the June primary, Democrats only got 36 percent of the vote – even though stories about Hunter’s profligate spending of campaign funds had been in the news for more than two years.

Opponent may be hard sell in pro-Trump district

It’s also because of Hunter’s young, inexperienced opponent – 29-year-old Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former U.S. Labor Department spokesman. While the first-time candidate has so far slightly out-raised Hunter in campaign donations, his background may make him a uniquely hard sell in a district known for its ardent support of Trump. Campa-Najjar is the son of an Arab father and a Mexican-American mother – and, as Fox News and other conservative outlets emphasized, the grandson of one of the terrorists who helped plan the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

Campa-Najjar, a Protestanttold a reporter for The Independent newspaper of London that he was confident district voters would recognize the irrelevance of the issue. “[W]hen it comes to my distant relative – who died 16 years before I was born – he influenced my thinking as much as he did yours, which is not at all,” he said. “I knew him as much as you did. So it really is kind of a non-sequitur. It plays on xenophobia and distorting facts and it really has no bearing.”

Campa-Najjar told the San Diego Union-Tribune that his “ethnic background is not a liability, it’s an asset,” citing the large number of Chaldeans and Latinos in the 50th.

Nevertheless, in a Survey USA poll released Monday, Hunter held a 47 percent to 39 percent lead over Campa-Najjar. But the subcategories of the poll point to the obstacles facing the challenger. Hunter received a surprising 41 percent of the vote among independents. The 23 percent of Republicans who now say they won’t back him could consolidate behind the five-term incumbent – especially as the prospect of Democrats retaking the House is emphasized by the media in the run-up to the November vote.

Hunter’s claim that he is the victim of a Justice Department plot led by prosecutors who were donors to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign resonated with many voters. Among decline-to-state voters, 41 percent said they believed the Hunter indictment was political; 64 percent of Republicans held that view.

Hunter, a former Marine, was the first member of Congress to have served in the military in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He succeeded his father in 2008, who had represented eastern San Diego County in the House since his 1980 election.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

California Demands Trump, Congress Apologize to Illegal Aliens

border fence mexico immigrationCalifornia state legislators passed a resolution Thursday calling on Congress to formally apologize, and for President Donald Trump to join them in acknowledging wrongdoing in separating illegal alien family units at the border.

State Senators Kevin de León, Richard Pan, and Scott Wiener authored the joint resolution that was scheduled for debate, and passed on Thursday. KPBS reported just three legislators opposed — Joel Anderson, Mike Morrell, and Jim Nielsen — while 29 approved it, and eight didn’t vote.

The California Senate resolution calls on Congress to specifically apologize to the children separated from the adult foreign nationals who illegally brought them across the U.S. border. It also petitions Congress and President Trump to acknowledge wrongdoing in separating illegal alien adults and children.

The resolution describes the policy of separating foreign nationals who have crossed the border illegally as “detrimental.” De León described the separations as “government-sanctioned kidnapping.”

“They created the problem, they need to fix the problem and make sure there is clear accountability,” de León proclaimed in the California Senate resolution, according to the report. “We should apologize to these children we have permanently harmed,” said Sen. Pan. Pan compared family separation to U.S. WWII internment of Japanese citizens.

The 1997 Flores settlement under President Bill Clinton dictated that children could not be detained more than 20 days. That policy continued to exist under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Due to the pre-existing policy, President Trump’s no tolerance border security policy resulted in separation of illegal alien adults held for crossing the border illegally,from children they brought over with them. …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California

Dianne Feinstein was an easy mark for China’s spy

Dianne FeinsteinAs vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been investigating allegations of President Trump’s “collusion” with Russia.

But now we learn Feinstein may be the one compromised by a foreign power.

Turns out that Communist China had a spy in her office. A 20-year employee of Feinstein’s, the agent had been reporting back to China’s Ministry of State Security for well over a decade before he was caught in 2013, according to the FBI.

A Chinese-American who doubled as both an office staffer and Feinstein’s personal driver, the agent reportedly was handled by officials based out of the People’s Republic of China’s consulate in San Francisco, which Feinstein helped set up when she was mayor of that city. He even attended consulate functions for the senator. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Post

Trump officials open door to fracking in California

fracking oil gasThe Trump administration is starting the process of opening up large swaths of land in California to hydraulic fracturing.

In a notice issued Wednesday to the Federal Register, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it intends to analyze the impact of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, on publicly owned land throughout the state.

The area in question spans 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estates throughout a number of California counties including Fresno, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

The notice of intent says BLM will begin the scoping process for a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which will determine the effects of fracking on the environment. Fracking is a technology used to release oil and gas from land. The administration’s intent is to eventually open up public land to new lease sales.

The announcement follows a 2017 lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity. That lawsuit challenged a 2015 attempt by the federal government to finalize a resource management plan that acknowledged fracking. In its settlement, BLM promised that it would first provide an environmental impact statement before considering fracking. …

Click here to read the full article from The Hill

Trump declares California wildfires a ‘major disaster’

A wildfire rages in Buck Meadows, in the Yosemite National ParkPresident Donald Trump has approved declaring the California wildfires a major disaster, the White House said on Sunday, and ordered federal aid to be provided.

His move, which will make federal funding available for the most stricken areas, comes after California governor Jerry Brown called for federal help.

It comes as the wildfires in northern California have spread to more than two-thirds the size of Los Angeles as more residents were ordered to evacuate their homes.

In a statement the White House said: “Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. …

Click here to read the full article from the Guardian