Bush Serves-up Red Meat to the Republican Base

Today President Bush patched things up with his base and nominated Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito for the seat being vacated by the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor. Bush finally figured-out that this seat on the Court belongs to a qualified candidate and gave up the notion of swapping one unknown woman for another.

Some have claimed that this was Bush’s strategy in nominating Miers in the first place. That idea is nuts! This switch in nominees should correctly be attributed to Providence. For those of you that went to public school, Providence was often spoken of in the early writings of our nation and is understood as the unseen hand of God working in the affairs of men. Since this is a Christian belief by the founders of a Christian nation, I can understand why you never heard this at your local government school.

Thankfully, Judge Alito has a proven track record of conservative jurisprudence. He is known for his judicial backbone and strict interpretation of constitutional issues. Now, we can finally have a national debate on the unconstitutional practice of judicial activism and legislating from the bench.

In the end, the votes for confirmation of this nominee will be there despite the best efforts of Liberal democrats. Judge Alito is the type of judge that Ronald Reagan had hoped that he would get with O’Connor and Kennedy. Judge Bork would probably approve of this selection, but I haven’t heard it from him yet. Surely Sean Hannity will have him on soon.

This appointment will bring unity and new life into the Conservatives that were profoundly disappointed in the Miers nomination. This nomination coupled with the Congressional Republican epiphany to secure the borders and reign-in spending will result of the renewed energy on the eve of the 2006 election season. Look for Republican gains in the Senate and the retirement of many old Liberal Democrats following this election cycle.

Just in Time for the Holidays, Fishing for Impeachment

Its fishing season in Washington D.C.

Game Warden: Patrick Fitzgerald

Bait/Sacrificial Lamb: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.

First Prize: George W. Bush

Second Prize: Carl Rove

Rules: None

After two years of being unable to prove that a crime that was ever committed, Warden Fitzgerald decides Scooter is the weakest link into the White House. Scooter gets drawn and quartered on national television. As his life blood is leaving him and the Beltway sharks gather around his corpse, Scooter is told that his only chance to live is to roll-over on Carl Rove who will be scared of a prosecutor who thinks Martha Stewart got off easy and in turn offer-up his boss, George W. Bush. The game ends when a lonely President has been stripped of his key officials and is forced from the Beltway in disgrace never to return again.

Special Election Picks

Since today is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming special election on November 8th, I thought I would contribute my opinion about the measures that voters will be considering.

First, a word to the wise; anything that you read about the wonders and perils of any ballot measure should be viewed skeptically. The opinions expressed are not legally binding to either side. If the claim is not found in the text of the initiative or can be reasonable inferred by the implementation of the initiative then it is likely to be false.

If you like an idea and it passes, then chances are that the ACLU or some other group of self appointed guardians of the constitution will have it blocked in court before the vote is certified.

If something does become law, it still must get past the Legislature whose failure to act responsibly is why it went to the voters in the first place and the bureaucrats that write the regulations that give the measure the force of law.

You can worry about all this legal “sausage” and how it gets made after the election.

My recommendations are as follows with reasons listed below:

YESProposition 73 Waiting Period And Parental Notification Before Termination Of Minor’s Pregnancy
As a parent, you must give your daughter permission to take an aspirin at school, get her ears or body pierced or go on a field trip to the zoo but under current law she can get an abortion without your knowledge or permission. Not only that, if the procedure goes wrong mom and dad are responsible for all ensuing medical bills. This measure tries to correct an obvious inequity of state law. Look for it to be overwhelmingly approved and go just as swiftly to court.

YESProposition 74 Public School Teachers. Waiting Period For Permanent Status.
This measure is a modest attempt to try for some teacher accountability before the union can fully shield a teacher from job performance.

YESProposition 75 Public Employee Union Dues. Restrictions On Political Contributions. Employee Consent Requirement.
This is a measure that allows union members to keep their money and not have it go to political actions that are contrary to the beliefs or members. Currently, union members must forfeit other benefits such as disability insurance and legal representation to opt out of dues for political purposes.

YESProposition 76 State Spending And School Funding Limits.
Allows Governor to take state spending off of autopilot. This would not be necessary if legislature would do their job.

YESProposition 77 Redistricting
Allows for possibility of more competitive legislative districts instead of safe seats for every elected legislator in the state. New district would be in effect for 2006 primary. This measure is main reason why the special election is being held now instead of waiting for June 2006.

NOProposition 78 Discounts On Prescription Drugs

NOProposition 79 Prescription Drug Discounts. State-Negotiated Rebates
These measures are intended to cancel each other out. Worse case would be both passing and letting a judge cherry pick which parts of each that voters will have imposed on them. There is no legitimate reason why government should be buying and selling drugs. They screw-up medical decisions and healthcare enough without these programs.

NOProposition 80 Electric Service Providers. Regulation
Having an interest group make such a unilateral proposal will not benefit consumers and enhance competition. This is the worst idea floated since Gray Davis threatened to seize all privately owned power generating facilities in the State and wondered why no one wanted to invest in our utility infrastructure.

The Secretary of State Summaries appear below.

Amends California Constitution, prohibiting abortion for unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent/legal guardian, except in medical emergency or with parental waiver.
Defines abortion as causing “death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.”
Permits minor to obtain court order waiving notice based on clear, convincing evidence of minor’s maturity or best interests.
Mandates various reporting requirements.
Authorizes monetary damages against physicians for violation.
Requires minor’s consent to abortion, with certain exceptions.
Permits judicial relief if minor’s consent coerced.

Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years.
Measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
Modifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations.
Unknown net effect on school districts’ costs for teacher compensation, performance evaluations, and other activities. The impact would vary significantly by district and depend largely on future personnel actions by individual school districts.

Prohibits the use by public employee labor organizations of public employee dues or fees for political contributions except with the prior consent of individual public employees each year on a specified written form.
Restriction does not apply to dues or fees collected for charitable organizations, health care insurance, or other purposes directly benefitting the public employee.
Requires public employee labor organizations to maintain and submit records to Fair Political Practices Commission concerning individual public employees and organizations political contributions.
These records are not subject to public disclosure.
Probably minor state and local government implementation costs, potentially offset in part by revenues from fines and/or fees.

Limits state spending to prior years level plus three previous years average revenue growth.
Changes state minimum school funding requirements (Proposition 98); eliminates repayment requirement when minimum funding suspended.
Excludes appropriations above the minimum from schools funding base.
Directs excess General Fund revenues, currently directed to schools/tax relief, to budget reserve, specified construction, debt repayment.
Permits Governor, under specified circumstances, to reduce appropriations of Governors choosing, including employee compensation/state contracts.
Continues prior year appropriations if state budget delayed.
Prohibits state special funds borrowing.
Requires payment of local government mandates.
The provisions creating an additional state spending limit and granting the Governor new power to reduce spending in most program areas would likely reduce expenditures relative to current law.
These reductions also could apply to schools and shift costs to other local governments.
The new spending limit could result in a smoother pattern of state expenditures over time, especially to the extent that reserves are set aside in good times and available in bad times.
The provisions changing school funding formulas would make school and community college funding more subject to annual decisions of state policymakers and less affected by a constitutional funding guarantee.
Relative to current law, the measure could result in a change in the mix of state spending that is, some programs could receive a larger share and others a smaller share of the total budget.

Amends process for redistricting California’s Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts.
Requires panel of three retired judges, selected by legislative leaders, to adopt new redistricting plan if measure passes and after each national census.
Panel must consider legislative, public comments/hold public hearings.
Redistricting plan effective when adopted by panel and filed with Secretary of State; governs next statewide primary/general elections even if voters reject plan.
If voters reject redistricting plan, process repeats, but officials elected under rejected plan serve full terms.
Allows 45 days to seek judicial review of adopted redistricting plan.
One-time costs for a redistricting plan. State costs totaling no more than $1.5 million and county costs in the range of $1 million.
Potential reduction in costs for each redistricting effort after 2010, but net impact would depend on decisions by voters.

Establishes discount prescription drug program, overseen by California Department of Health Services.
Enables certain low- and moderate-income California residents to purchase prescription drugs at reduced prices.
Authorizes Department: to contract with participating pharmacies to sell prescription drugs at agreed-upon discounts negotiated in advance; to negotiate rebate agreements with participating drug manufacturers.
Imposes $15 annual application fee.
Creates state fund for deposit of drug manufacturers rebate payments.
Requires Departments prompt determination of residents eligibility, based on listed qualifications.
Permits outreach programs to increase public awareness.
Allows program to be terminated under specified conditions.
One-time and ongoing state costs, potentially in the millions to low tens of millions of dollars annually, for administration and outreach activities for a new drug discount program. A significant share of these costs would probably be borne by the state General Fund.
State costs, potentially in the low tens of millions of dollars, to cover the funding gap between when drug rebates are collected by the state and when the state pays funds to pharmacies for drug discounts provided to consumers. Any such costs not covered through advance rebate payments from drug makers would be borne by the state General Fund.
Unknown potentially significant savings for state and county health programs due to the availability of drug discounts.
Potential unknown effects on state revenues and expenditures from changes in prices and quantities of drugs sold in California.

Provides for prescription drug discounts to Californians who qualify based on income-related standards, to be funded through rebates from participating drug manufacturers negotiated by California Department of Health Services.
Prohibits new Medi-Cal contracts with manufacturers not providing the Medicaid best price to this program, except for drugs without therapeutic equivalent.
Rebates must be deposited in State Treasury fund, used only to reimburse pharmacies for
discounts and to offset costs of administration.
At least 95% of rebates must go to fund discounts.
Establishes oversight board. Makes prescription drug profiteering, as described, unlawful.
One-time and ongoing state costs, potentially in the low tens of millions of dollars annually, for administration and outreach activities for a new drug discount program. A significant share of these costs would probably be borne by the state General Fund.
State costs, potentially in the low tens of millions of dollars, to cover the funding gap between when drug rebates are collected by the state and when the state pays funds to pharmacies for drug discounts provided to consumers. Any such costs not covered through advance rebate payments from drug makers would be borne by the state General Fund.
Unknown potentially significant net costs or savings as a result of provisions linking state Medi-Cal rebate contracts and the new drug discount program.
Unknown potentially significant savings for state and county health programs due to the availability of drug discounts.
Unknown costs and revenues from the provisions regarding lawsuits over profiteering on drug sales.
Potential unknown effects on state revenues and expenditures from changes in prices and quantities of drugs sold in California.

Subjects electric service providers, as defined, to control and regulation by California Public Utilities Commission.
Imposes restrictions on electricity customers ability to switch from private utilities to other electric providers.
Provides that registration by electric service providers with Commission constitutes providers consent to regulation.
Requires all retail electric sellers, instead of just private utilities, to increase renewable energy resource procurement by at least 1% each year, with 20% of retail sales procured from renewable energy by 2010, instead of current requirement of 2017.
Imposes duties on Commission, Legislature and electrical providers.
Potential annual state administrative costs ranging from negligible up to around $4 million for regulatory activities of the California Public Utilities Commission, paid for by fee revenues.
Unknown net impact on state and local government costs and revenues due to the measures uncertain impact on retail electricity rates.



Google Calls President Bush Failure

George Fincke is a Bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church. He sent me the following:

My daughter called from CA, asking me to go online to Google.

She asked me to type the word FAILURE. Then, hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button. What you get is the bio of George W. Bush.

Added 11-10-05
Since posting this I have learned that there is a technique for manipulating results from Google. This is called a “Google Bomb” The above is an example of this in action.

Feinstein: Stuck on Stupid

Today, our wonderful, socialist, NIMBY, Liberal United States Senator was on the radio because she was grandstanding for the media by daring to lecture the petroleum industry about the price of gasoline.

Thou hypocrite! It is the fault of Senator Feinstein and her ilk that we are not an energy independent county. If she would allow new domestic drilling and exploration and a few new refineries to be built plus some new nuke plants, we would not need the tyrants of the Middle East.

Our Senator is stuck on Stupid.

For a brief history of Stuck on Stupid see The Roughstock Journal or Hugh Hewitt.

Louisiana Governor Stopped Red Cross

Hugh Hewitt proved why I love his show today. He had on Fox News reported Major Garrett. To the amazement of everyone, we learned that the Red Cross was prevented by Louisiana’s Governor from entering New Orleans immediately after the hurricane.

In fact, they would have been at the Superdome before the levies even broke with food, water and other supplies!

Here is yet another example of failed leadership in this catastrophe.

Hurricane Comments

I have been quiet about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on this blog.

I did call the Feed the Children number at 1-888-58-CHILD today. They were professional, courteous and quick. I was able to go through the whole process of donating in about a minute.

My only additional comment on the aftermath is that the screeches of local politicians are way out of line. If they want blame then get a mirror. Louisiana politics has been one of the most corrupt and incestuous in the nation for decades. Single Party rule inhibits leadership and accountability.

In New Orleans, local officials had a near scare about this very scenario last year during hurricane season. The mayor and governor are the first and second lines of preparedness and they failed to plan.

Compare Rudy Giuliani and his reaction to 9-11 with mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans and his failure to lead his city. This politician is a failure as a man and a leader. Barney Fife would be an upgrade for this community in crisis.

California Loses 43% of Its Vehicles

After taking office a year ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the State to conduct an audit of vehicles owner by the state. The State estimates that it owns about 70,000 vehicles. However, a physical inventory of vehicles by various state departments yields a count of 40,000. Where the rest may be located is unknown.

* One state agency spent four million dollars on vehicles but has no records of where they were purchased.
* The state has no idea what it costs to operate its fleet of vehicles.
* There are no state agencies that are adequately tracking their vehicles.

Media Saves Russian Sub Crew

Like many of you, my heart and prayers went-out to the seven sailors trapped in the Russian Sub over the weekend. What we did not learn until today was that if the Russian military had their way, these men would still be at the bottom of the sea.

Thank to an anonymous phone call to a local radio station in the port city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a chain of events was set-off that led to the rescue effort of the men.

As a former sailor, I can imagine nothing more frightening than being stuck at the bottom of the sea as you slowly watch your air supply run out knowing that you can do nothing to save yourself.

As a result of this mishap, word is that Russia has ordered two Scorpio rescue robot subs from the British. Above is photo of the US version of Scorpio robot sub.

The form of government may change, but the value of life in Russia is still darn cheap

City Council Tyranny Escalates in Elk Grove

I normally don’t take calls from telemarketers, but tonight I made an exception. I’m glad I did. Tonight’s call was from a political opinion surveying company. I have taken calls from them in the past. I guess I’m just their textbook hardcore Conservative and they use my opinion as a baseline.

Anyway, I live in Elk Grove and there is an on going rift between the Elk Grove City Council and the Community Services District.

Long before the incorporation of Elk Grove, the Community Services District (CSD) was in charge of providing fire protection and caring for regional parks in southern Sacramento County including the area that is now Elk Grove. CSD in a model agency and has received many awards and recognitions. The CSD is governed by five elected members.

The city council decided that parks and recreation should be part of their duties, so they created their own parks department and tried to forcible take all parks in the city away from CSD. CSD gets state, county and local tax money for their funding plus development fees. The city is trying to take away their parks and then get that portion of the budget that CSD has allocated for caring for existing parks as well as land and money already set aside for future parks.

In the original plans for incorporation, the community leaders of Elk Grove had divided the jurisdiction of services in Elk Grove between CSD and the new City. There was no duplication of services. The city was created to provide the services and local representation that residents felt was lacking from the County Board of Supervisors. It was viewed as more cost effective if the CSD provided seamless fire protection to all areas of the south county and did likewise with the areas parks.

In the last year, the city council has engaged in a naked grab for power with both CSD and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department was contracted to provide police protection to the City of Elk Grove. Recently the city voted to sever their relationship with the Sheriff and create their own police department. Two of the five members voting on this change are sworn officers on the payroll of the Sheriff’s Department. Can anybody say “conflict of interest?”

The resulting police department would duplicate many of the services currently provided by the Sheriff except at a higher cost to the city. Of course we loose high end police protection like helicopters and SWAT.

Anyway, CSD won’t roll-over to the aggressive tactics of the Elk Grove city fathers. This leads me to the subject of tonight’s telemarketing call.

The city fathers are shopping the idea of two ballot measures to emasculate CSD as retribution. The first idea they are floating is taking all parks and recreation services within the city limits away from CSD and giving them to the city council. Their argument is elimination of duplicate services and cost savings to taxpayers. Oh yeah, there was no duplicated services until the city created their own parks department earlier this year. Of course, they don’t currently have any parks that they are responsible for; yet…

If this measure passes that would leave CSD primarily responsible for fire protection in the south county and a handful of parks outside the city limits. The second proposed ballot measure will deal with this issue. It would create a City Fire Commission composed of five elected members; this would strip the five elected members of CSD of the last service that they provide to the City of Elk Grove. Furthermore, these measures would effectively split CSD into two mostly non-contiguous geographical areas. This would impact the level of service to rural areas of the county.

The questions that the telemarketer asked me were the typical Doctor Seuss approach, would you vote YES for a clock or a rock or a sock or a block …I answered NO to all his permutations of the two proposals. Furthermore, I did give the Council and unfavorable rating.

The city fathers are banking on the fact that few people know the background of cityhood or the relationship of the City to CSD. The locals demanded that there would be no changes to CSD as a condition to support creation of the City of Elk Grove. Without this assurance the incorporation effort would never have had the support needed to prevail on the ballot. Unfortunately for CSD many of the voters in Elk Grove were not here five short years ago when cityhood became a reality. Now the daughter of CSD is attempting to engineer its demise and strip the carcass.