All’s Not Well With Swalwell

By Jordan Bruneau
December 11, 2020

All’s not well with Swalwell: Axios reported this week that California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from the East Bay, may have been compromised by a Chinese agent, with whom he had a personal relationship. Swalwell responded to the leaked disclosures by (surprise!) blaming Trump.

His response is ironic given that Swalwell was one of the biggest purveyors of the leak-driven conspiracy theory that President Trump was compromised by the Russians. Swalwell parlayed intelligence community leaks to land routine cable news spots and grow his celebrity to the point he even ran for the Democratic nomination for president.

Buckets of ink were spilled by the media in breathlessly reporting these Russia allegations. Yet now that the shoe is on the other foot, the mainstream media’s silence is deafening. The handful of stories in California outlets have been wire stories – or of the “Republicans pounce” variety. (These bury the actual allegations under copy about how Republicans are exploiting them for partisan aims.) The line between mainstream media and liberal activism continues to blur.

Victor Joecks, former head of the Nevada Policy Research Institute and CPC partner, has a good column on this media blackout in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The advantages of ballot measures: In his latest CPC contribution, Edward Ring explains the benefits of California’s ballot measures, highlighting how they allow Californians to circumvent the government union-dominated state legislature. He reports on the numerous successful pro-liberty ballot measures in Oxnard on Election Day: “What has happened in Oxnard sets an inspiring example for reform activists in every city and county in California.” Thanks to ballot measures, Oxnard was able to pass permit simplicity, open meetings, and street maintenance.

The disadvantages of ballot measures: In a Washington Times op-ed this week, I point out — as I have done in this newsletter before — the dangers of ballot measures, namely how they amount to little more than the tyranny of the majority: “’Majority rules,’ cloaked in popular appeals for ‘democracy,’ is a core tenet of the left’s governing philosophy,” but “at what point are individual rights to property and liberty more important than the will of the majority?”

California’s extended unemployment benefits may be financing terrorism: The distribution of California’s extended unemployment benefits has (unsurprisingly) been a complete boondoggle. As reported by the Wall Street Journal editorial page this week: “On Monday, Bank of America, which contracted with the state government to issue benefit debit cards, identified some $2 billion in suspicious activities with many claims filed in the names of infants, centenarians and people living outside the U.S. The bank said fraudulent payments may be financing terrorists and illicit arms purchases. ‘The scale of program fraud in California is unique,’ the bank wrote to legislators…”

Charter schools again in the crosshairs: In his latest CPC contribution, Larry Sand discusses the looming threat facing charter schools from the incoming Biden administration. Larry destroys the ridiculous notion, hawked. by teachers unions, that charter schools are unaccountable: “Unlike traditional unionized public schools… charter schools are actually accountable. On a regular basis, they must gain the approval of their authorizing body and, most importantly, they have to please their customers – children and their parents. If they don’t do a good job, they cease to exist.” Ironically, it’s the state’s union-run schools that are allowed to fail for decades without penalty or reform. That’s unaccountability.

Fighting against Lily Eskelsen García for Education Secretary: Parent advocates are pushing back on rumored Education Secretary nominee Lily Eskelsen García, who’s a fierce opponent of school choice. As Jeanne Allen, president and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, notes in Forbes, “She has compared choice for poor kids to ‘snake oil,’ and has argued that ‘everything about ‘school choice’ leaves students out in the cold.'”

Government union strongarm tactics: After San Francisco Chronicle journalist Otis Taylor recently announced he was moving to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he received the following ominous message from the police officers’ union in Vallejo, California: “We will warn our Georgia colleagues of your impending arrival.”

San Francisco is digging its own grave: In a National Review column this week, CPC board member David Bahnsen argues that San Francisco’s new tax on executive compensation is unjust and will only hasten the city’s demise:

Embedded in the name attached to this new legislation is the belief that disinterested third parties should determine fair and appropriate pay. Whether that be city bureaucrats or voters unconnected to the company in question, the notion that such actors should serve as the arbiters of proper pay levels is nothing more than a form of price-and-wage control….

What a COVID-damaged city such as San Francisco needs is to plead with Sacramento to decrease taxes and regulations, so that its city can retain major revenue contributors. Instead, it has chosen to add insult to injury by adding to incentives to leave the state, and even more inexplicably, by encouraging those who stay in the state to do so just outside the city.

Becerra goes to Washington and Musk moves to Texas: On the latest episode of National Review’s Radio Free California Will and David discuss how the masklessness of lockdown enthusiasts continues, entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Joe Lonsdale move to Texas, the path of destruction that led Xavier Becerra into the Biden administration, and Gavin Newsom’s golden opportunity to name replacements for state attorney general, secretary of state, and U.S. Senate.

California judge rebukes outdoor dining ban: This week, a California judge ruled that L.A. County officials arbitrarily implemented its outdoor dining ban: “By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the County acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end,” wrote Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant.

Becerra for HHS? Really? Biden’s choice of California AG Xavier Becerra for the most powerful government health position has been roundly criticized. As Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times: “For a campaign that placed so much emphasis on the idea that disinterested expertise and capital-S Science should guide the coronavirus response, Becerra is a peculiar choice: a partisan politician from a deep-blue state whose health care experience is mostly in legal battles with the Trump White House over Obamacare, rather than in health policy or medicine itself.”

Indeed, Becerra has neither the experience nor expertise to tackle the Gordian knot that is U.S. healthcare. His early support for Medicare for All outs him as an activist, not a sober-minded reformer. Aside from leading the legal defense of the quixotic constitutional challenge of Obamacare, mainstream media outlets are also championing his pro-abortion rights advocacy as a reason for his selection. (Becerra waged an aggressive legal fight against Catholic nuns demanding they comply with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandates.)

And it’s not like Becerra’s done a great job in California. The state’s crime figures have skyrocketed since he’s taken the helm, and he turned a blind eye to widespread looting and rioting this summer. U.S. patients need an HHS Secretary who will lower obscene healthcare prices by increasing choices, reducing regulations, and requiring real posted prices before care — not a partisan hack. Becerra has more than enough problems to clean up in California without making a further mess of healthcare in Washington.

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