MOORLACH UPDATE — Showmanship Let Down — October 7, 2017

Dan Morain and I go back to his days at the LA Times, where I recognized his work back in 2000 when I used to give the annual “Moorlach Award” to those in the journalism industry that had stood out in the previous twelve months (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — December 8, 2010). I found that awards for those in the media were named after someone, like Pulitzer or Loeb, so I followed suit. Having been the victim of poor journalistic work, I thought recognizing good work would mean something a little special to those in the trade. Dan Morain is special.

Dan and I are now back together. He was one of the first breakfast appointments I had in Sacramento, where he now ably serves as the Editorial Page Editor for The Sacramento Bee. Dan and I have stayed in contact over the years. Dan shares my burden for the mentally ill. He was especially interested in my Laura’s Law journey, as I successfully pursued a legislative remedy to fund county staff in assisting some who are mentally ill and have had encounters with law enforcement officials (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Journey — August 11, 2014). My efforts would find Orange County leading the state in offering this program, which has now been adopted by numerous counties (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Resolution Passes — May 13, 2014). In fact, it garnered national recognition and I was honored by the Treatment Advocacy Center (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Catalyst — March 14, 2015).

Dan called me yesterday. “Did I sandbag [Senate Judicial Committee Chair] Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson?” Absolutely not! In fact, we worked politely and professionally through the appropriate channels and were rebuffed. Even one of the Democratic Senators on the Committee tried to convince the Chair to allow Ben Shapiro a more prominent place on the agenda and he was denied.

My staff put together a timeline of their efforts and I e-mailed Dan the following:

Timeline of Judiciary Hearing Events

 Prior to 9/20/17: Pro Tem’s Office worked with Judiciary Committee to develop an informational hearing to address issue of hate. At no point was the Vice Chair or Sen. Republican Caucus invited to participate and contribute suggestions for the hearing.

 9/20/17: The Judiciary Committee notified its members of the hearing along with the date, time, and title.

 9/21/17 – 9:49 AM: Sen. Moorlach’s staff reached out via e-mail to the Judiciary Committee and asked if Ben Shapiro could be considered as a witness for the hearing, since Sen. Moorlach had not had a prior opportunity to offer input and the agenda had not yet been finalized.

 9/21/17 – 9:54 AM: The Judiciary Committee responded via e-mail to Sen. Moorlach’s request to invite Ben Shapiro and promised to “float it with the Chair,” though it was “probably too late to add additional speakers.”

 9/21/17 – 2:07 PM: Judiciary Committee staff e-mailed out to the committee members’ staffs a draft agenda, emphasizing that it was only a draft, and “there may yet be some additions and revisions to the order, format, etc.”

 9/29/17 – 8:51 AM: Sen. Moorlach’s staff followed up with the Judiciary Committee via e-mail to see if the Chair had made a decision about adding Ben Shapiro to the hearing witness list.

 9/29/17 – ~11:05 AM: Sen. Moorlach’s staff followed up with the Judiciary Committee in person in the Committee’s office to see if the Chair had made a decision about adding Ben Shapiro to the hearing witness list. Sen. Moorlach’s staff informed the Committee staff that Sen. Moorlach had invited Ben Shapiro and he would be appearing to speak during the public comment portion of the hearing, but that Sen. Moorlach, as the Vice Chair, would greatly appreciate it if Ben Shapiro could be included during one of the panels. Sen. Moorlach’s staff was again advised it was likely the panels were full but that the Chair would again be asked since Ben Shapiro was planning on attending whether or not he was included in the panels.

 9/29/17 – 2:06 PM: Judiciary Committee staff alerted Sen. Moorlach’s staff via e-mail that the Chair was alerted to Ben Shapiro’s attendance but the request to include him in one of the panels was denied. It was reiterated that “Mr. Shapiro is most welcome to participate in the public comment period, of course.”

I informed Dan Morain that after all of our attempts, I just let Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson be Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. Being a bully is what she does best. As a former prosecutor for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney, she has a certain overbearing mode that she operates under.

I had the only bill this year that addressed free speech on campus, SB 677 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Bill 677 — April 6, 2017). The bill was “double referred” meaning that it was assigned to be heard in two committees, Senate Education and Senate Judiciary, in that order. That was reasonable to me. However, without any notice, the committee hearings were reversed. When my staff was alerted, they were told that Senator Jackson wanted the bill first and there was no time to appeal to Senate Rules to change the hearing order back.

When it went before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair Jackson strongly opposed a bill to address bullying by instructors in public school classrooms (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Student Whistleblower Protection Bill — April 14, 2017  and MOORLACH UPDATE — Voted Down — April 25, 2017).

After my presentation, the only Committee member arguing against SB 677 was Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (see MOORLACH UPDATE — PACE and HERO — April 30, 2017). When the roll was taken, Senator Joel Anderson and I voted for the bill, Senator Jackson voted against, and Senators Hertzberg, Monning, Stern and Wieckowski abstained! It is my assumption that they didn’t necessarily oppose the bill, but they didn’t want to go sideways with the Chair. So SB 677 was not voted down, it just died for failing to obtain two more votes. So much for the majority party caring about free speech on state funded college campuses.

At that point in time, what I thought to be a reasonable approach to deal with bully professors was sandbagged by a bully Senator. This experience is one of many that set the stage for Ben Shapiro reaping her wrath. So much for free speech while she wields the gavel.

Why do I bring this all up? So you can appreciate the tyranny of the majority through a wonderful real life example. One that Dan Morain observed and was outraged by (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Elephant in the Room — October 4, 2017). His next piece, the first one below, will probably print in Sunday’s edition, is provided below for you today. His conclusion makes me sense that Dan was let down by the behavior he observed.

Now that we’re watching the media appreciate firsthand the nonsense of how conservatives are being treated in Sacramento, it seems only obvious that the free press should be outraged by the liberal bias in the Capitol. Since November 8th, the monopoly party in the California Legislature has been apoplectic because the Democratic National Committee presented a Democrat Presidential candidate that was awful, corrupt and incompetent and should have lost the election.

The shadow over the 2017 Senate Legislative Session was the berating of President Trump. I’m not here to defend our new President, but I put up with the last one for eight years and kept my opinions of his leadership skill sets civil. But, the state of California is currently the outlier. And it continues to push as the liberal showman in confronting the White House. I’m not seeing leadership from my Democrat colleagues, just showmanship. So I addressed it, once again, in the second piece below in the Orange County Breeze, dealing with the Governor’s signing of SB 54, the “Sanctuary State” bill.

I will try to give you a score sheet of how the Governor is doing on my request that he veto 20 particular bills. He let me down on this one.

The OC Register‘s Sunday Commentary Section will carry the third piece below. It is co-written by the world famous Jon Coupal and deals with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (see MOORLACH UPDATE — I Told You So! — August 26, 2017).

What if your child convinced you to co-sign on a $3 billion loan and never made a payment, leaving the responsibility of making the debt payments to you? Now, after 13 years, CIRM is finally promising to pay you something. Really? Is it $3 billion? Or is it $10,000? I’d lean toward the latter. You’ve been bagged. Someone has to tell your child to give back the remaining unspent loan proceeds and apply it against the loan. Put a tourniquet on this major let down, please.

Dan Morain

Dan Morain

Editorial page editor, political affairs columnist and editorial writer


Who is Ben Shapiro and why do people want to take selfies with him?

Conservative personality Ben Shapiro has a hard time going out and not being recognized by fans. Sac State junior Morgan Umphreys spotted him at a Starbucks on Watt and asked for a photo. He happily obliged. Dan Morain

Morgan Umphreys couldn’t believe her good fortune when she saw Ben Shapiro at a Starbucks on Watt Avenue in Sacramento last week.

The Sac State junior tried to snag tickets for Shapiro’s appearance at UC Berkeley last month, but they were sold out. In the birthplace of the free speech movement, protesters had tried to block his appearance. But Shapiro speaks to Umphreys, and millions of others.

Would he mind taking a photo? “Very exciting,” she said, her hand to heart. She deeply she appreciates that Shapiro sticks to facts without emotion and advocates for the “greater good” on his podcasts and videos.

Umphreys was the second Sac State coed to ask for a photo, as did a middle-aged man, one of Shapiro’s 842,000 Twitter followers. The conservative writer, commentator and #NeverTrumper gladly obliged.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” Shapiro said. Such is a burden of being a celebrity of the right, one he happily shoulders.

Shapiro, 33, is a UCLA-Harvard Law School grad who is building a new media empire. His Daily Wire website gets 80 million views a month, no doubt pleasing his funders, the Texas oil billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks. His podcasts and videos attract 750,000 a day or more.

He is whip smart and quick, not the sort of person you’d want to face in a debate unprepared on a cable show, as Piers Morgan discovered when he invited Shapiro on after the Sandy Hook slaughter in 2012. The episode has more than 6 million views on YouTube. It was not a good night for Morgan.

“We fly under the radar, get big readership and make money. I’m OK with that,” he said.

Shapiro was in Sacramento from his home in L.A. to visit his in-laws, who live here. He and his wife, a doctor, and their two toddlers were planning to spend the Sukkot holiday weekend with the folks.

The timing was convenient: Sen. John Moorlach, vice chairman of the California Senate Judiciary Committee, invited him to testify as the committee delves into the rise of white supremacy. It’s a worthy undertaking, and Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, would have had some insights, given the vicious anti-Semitism he has been enduring, and his experience with the alt-right.

Alas, Senate Democrats, who control the committee, had other plans, and gave him two minutes during the public comment period at the end of the three-plus-hour hearing last week. No matter. He got his points across, including ones about attempts by the far-left to silence dissident voices.

Shapiro worked briefly for a law firm in Century City, hated it, dabbled in radio, and became an editor at Breitbart, shortly before Andrew Breitbart died in 2012. He stayed on as Steve Bannon took control the site. Bannon, said Shapiro, can be charming but is abusive and was “very interested in using Breitbart for his own ambition.”

Which is?


Shapiro quit Breitbart in March 2016 when Corey R. Lewandowski, then Donald Trump’s campaign manager, grabbed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and Breitbart failed to properly defend her. Breitbart, Shapiro said at the time, had become Trump’s “personal Pravda.”

That’s when anti-Semitic vitriol got especially bad. The Anti-Defamation League issued a report last October titled “Anti-Semitic targeting of journalists during the 2016 presidential campaign.” Ten journalists, all of them Jewish, received 83 percent of the 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets, the report said. Shapiro endured the worst. It went over the top when his son was born last year.

“Notably, Ben Shapiro, the former Breitbart reporter at the forefront of the so-called #NeverTrump movement, was targeted by more than 7,400 anti-Semitic Tweets,” the report said.

Shapiro’s Daily Wire was having a particularly busy run last week, given the Las Vegas shooting and Shapiro’s podcast assault on Jimmy Kimmel over the late night comic’s emotional monologue on gun violence.

“I don’t know why our so-called leaders continue to allow this to happen,” Kimmel said after Stephen Paddock killed 58 concertgoers. “Or maybe a better question is: Why do we continue to let them allow it to happen?”

Shapiro lit in the following morning: “A late-night talk show host who used to host ‘The Man Show’ with women bouncing on trampolines? He’s now the great arbiter of what constitutes morality in politics and if you disagree with him, your thoughts and prayers are insufficient.”

Shapiro interspersed his lecture with words from his sponsors, one of which is defendmyfamilynow.comand its “Complete concealed carry and home defense” manual. A man has to eat.

He remains a critic of Trump and Bannon and his crew, including the contemptible Milo Yiannopoulos: “Bannon’s attempt to paint himself as the face of Trumpism is bound the fail because Trumpism doesn’t exist separate from Trump. Trumpism isn’t a philosophy.” What is it? “A cult of personality.”

Yes, he can be provocative. He believes homosexuality is a sin and opposes same sex marriage, but is a libertarian who doesn’t care what you do so long as it doesn’t affect him. He believes transgender people have a mental disorder and is critical of Black Lives Matter. Lots of people hold such views. It’s called free speech.

Last month, when Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley to 700 people, UC spent $600,000 on security. What has become of us when protesters would prompt the University of California to spend such a sum for free speech? What were Senate Democrats thinking when they denied him a seat at the table to talk about the rise of white supremacy?

I don’t want a selfie with Shapiro. But sometimes it’s tough to be a liberal.


John Moorlach criticizes majority party’s Senate Bill 54 showmanship

California Sen. John Moorlach on Gov. Jerry Brown signing Senate Bill 54:

Secession seems to be in the air. On Sunday, 90 percent of Catalonia voters chose to secede from Spain. Last June, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra authorized signature gathering to put a California Secession initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot.

So it’s not surprising that today Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 54, which effectively declares California has seceded from the United States on major parts of immigration-law enforcement.

In a statement, the governor explained his signature, “This bill states that local authorities will not ask about immigration status during routine interactions. It also bans unconstitutional detainer requests and prohibits the commandeering of local officials to do the work of immigration agents,” meaning federal officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

He did claim the bill “does not prevent or prohibit” ICE or “the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way. They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California.”

Yet Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said, “This law is inconsistent with widely accepted best practices of open communication amongst all levels of law enforcement.” Although she did note “not all cooperation is restricted.”

I warned about this on the Senate floor back in April when, based on my eight years as an Orange County Supervisor, I noted, “I come out of Countyland, and we have assistance agreements. Our police departments in Orange County – we have 34 cities – they have mutual aid agreements. They work together. They respect their city borders, but they work together to apprehend the bad guys. So to unilaterally discontinue such a longstanding reciprocal understanding with the federal government, is disturbing. It’s disturbing to our constituents. So no wonder the California State Sheriffs Association is opposed.

“Why do we want to engage the federal government in yet another funding battle. California has a very precarious budget. It has major unfunded liabilities. It has major retiree medical expenses. It has severe infrastructure concerns. We just don’t need to jeopardize a funding source from the federal government for a state that is really having some fiscal concerns and is going to be asking our residents to step up to the bar for another tax increase.”

It’s also worth remembering that Article 3, Section 1 of the California Constitution stipulates, “The State of California is an inseparable part of the United States of America, and the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land.”

SB 54 is another example of showmanship by the majority party. Let’s hope they learn the art of leadership soon.

This article was released by the Office of Senator John Moorlach.



Take a scalpel to $345 million in California’s stem-cell research waste


Just as good scientists are drawn to conclusions by solid data, the decision whether to spend another $345 million by California’s state-run stem-cell research project should be based on an objective analysis as to whether it would be cost-effective. A rigorous cost-benefit analysis is not only fiscally prudent, it avoids being drawn into the moral dilemmas posed by stem-cell research, especially with respect to cells from human embryos.

Created in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was authorized to spend $3 billion in bond proceeds. But as is typical with most bonds, the interest payments would double the cost to $6 billion. CIRM has made $2.4 billion in grants and used $255 million for administration and prepaid interest — leaving $345 million remaining to disburse.

Should CIRM distribute the remaining $345 million (which, with interest, would amount to $690 million in repayment costs)? Should this remaining pool of funds be doled out?

According to the ballot pamphlet mailed to voters, proponents promised the bond proceeds would advance the “cure and treatment” of “cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, blindness, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and more than 70 other diseases and injuries.”

But actual outcomes for these promised advances are speculative at best and nonexistent at worst.

Similar benefits were promised to the California economy to “generate millions of new tax dollars.”

In a Prop. 71 ad, actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s, urged, “Vote yes on 71, and save the life of someone you love.” Initiative backers also promised royalties to the state could be as much as $1.1 billion, thus providing a source of funds to pay off the bonds.

This past August, almost 13 years after Prop. 71 passed, CIRM announced it would cough up its first royalty check to the state on the new technologies it developed. Can anyone say “bust”?

With such a dismal record, this would be a good time to shut the spigot on issuing the remaining $345 million — meaning some $690 million would be saved by state taxpayers. That money could be better spent on pensions, schools, roads, housing or better basic medical care for our residents.

And required bond payments include $313 million from the 2017-18 budget, which began on July 1, and another $309 million from the 2018-19 budget. Total: $622 million for just two years. No wonder the Democratic supermajority raised the gas tax to find money for roads.

Unbelievably, a recently proposed $5 billion initiative for the 2018 ballot to extend the subsidy — effectively a second opinion on the project — was dumped last June. Even supporters didn’t think they could resell their snake oil.

When it seemed the new initiative might be advanced, the California Stem Cell Report ran an op-ed by Joe Rodota and Bernard Munos. “CIRM has over-invested in academic research, and under-invested in translating that research into therapies that cure diseases and prolong heathy lives,” they noted. “California needs to right that balance.”

But with the new initiative now moribund, CIRM therefore continues to operate as a kind of advanced high-school science project, instead of moving toward the cures promised to voters in Prop. 71.

That’s why Sen. John Moorlach (coauthor of this piece) sponsored Senate Constitutional Amendment 7. Requiring a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature, it would have repealed Article XXXV of the California Constitution, which codified Prop. 71.

Gov. Jerry Brown, among others, has prudently warned of the coming inevitable recession. And recent federal data show jobs growth in the state rising at only a 1.2 percent annual rate. This should be a time for excising waste and terminating this disappointing abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Jon Coupal is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, is a state senator representing the 37th District.

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