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Archive for February, 2009

California pushing back against Obama? Um, no.

I came across this column, “Eleven States Declare Sovereignty Over Obama’s Action,” authored by A.W.R. Hawkins and posted Monday to the Web site of Human Events (“Headquarters of the Conservative Underground”):

State governors — looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan — are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states — “Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California…Georgia,” South Carolina, and Texas — “have all introduced bills and resolutions” reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states.

“What?!?” I thought, “Has California suddenly become a state of conservative, strict constitutional constructionists ready to turn away federal stimulus money?”

But the truth was even harder to accept: A battle against Obama’s expansion of federal authority via time travel, from almost 15 years in the past!

Follow me after the jump for the full explanation…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, economy, General | No Comments »

Lawmakers to honor African-American leaders

The California Legislative Black Caucus will be honoring several pioneers in an Assembly floor ceremony Thursday morning as part of Black History Month.

“It is only appropriate that the Assembly show its appreciation for their distinguished careers and contributions toward improving the quality of life for the people of California,” caucus chairman Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, said today.

“At the end of the day, Black history is America’s history, and it is a fundamental part of our heritage as Americans. This month is an opportunity to share our history, our heritage, and our legends. It reminds us of what people can accomplish, and inspires the next generation of young Americans to even greater accomplishments.”

Follow me after the jump for a list of the honorees…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: General | No Comments »

Anna Eshoo floats wig bill for alopecia sufferers

Now that the economic stimulus package has been signed into law, members of Congress are turning their attention to more niche-oriented legislation.

Take for example Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, who today introduced the Alopecia Areata Medicaid Improvement and Parity Act to improve Medicaid coverage for those affected by alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder resulting in loss of body hair.

Most Americans suffer from mild forms of the condition, but Eshoo says about 30,000 have alopecia areata totalis — loss of all scalp hair — or alopecia areata universalis — a complete loss of all body hair. There’s no known cure, and very few treatments are successful.

“This legislation will improve the quality of life for the thousands of people who suffer from alopecia. We can’t allow Americans who are suffering from the disease to continue enduring harassment and mistreatment because of the inadequate coverage by Medicaid,” Eshoo said in her news release.

She says H.R. 1142 will improve Medicaid coverage for those with the disease by reimbursing for one hair prosthesis — a custom-made wig — per year; an estimated 5,000 out of nearly 50 million Medicaid beneficiaries will qualify.

Joke you might, but I know someone who had a bout with alopecia, and it was no laughing matter for him. That said, this seems like the kind of thing which could spark debate over what Medicaid should and shouldn’t cover.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, U.S. House | No Comments »

Poll shows record high discontent in California

A new poll released a few minutes ago at the California Constitutional Convention Summit in Sacramento shows that 82 percent of voters believe the state is on the wrong track.

It is the highest level of unhappiness since the Bay Area Council began doing the survey in 2002. (The council is the chief sponsor of the summit.) Pollsters conducted the telephone poll of 800 voters between Feb. 3-5 and it has an error rate of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Just 11 percent though the state was on the right track. (Who are these people, anyway? Did they take this survey while they were on the beach in Hawaii?)

Reasons for the gloom cited included the budget deficit, gridlock in Sacramento, bureaucracy, poor schools and high taxes.

Disapproval ratings for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are in the tank, too, at 60 and 71 percent respectively. (For comparison purposes, Obama’s disapproval rating was 17 percent.)

The chief purpose of the poll, though, was to gather public opinion on whether state should convene a Constitutional Convention, a group that would examine some or part of the state Constitution and place reforms before voters.

Most voters have never heard of it. It was 1879 when California last convened such a group.

But after a series of explanations about what a convention could accomplish, about half the respondents said they would support it.

In an interesting side note, the poll found that 67 percent of those asked supported an open primary in theory. The poll was taken before the Legislature placed an open primary measure on the June 2010 ballot.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: California Legislature, Election reform, Elections | No Comments »

Does California need a new Constitution?

I am in Sacramento today at what’s being billed as a summit of reformers interested in convening a California Constitutional convention.

The event centers around the question: Has California become ungovernable?

Countless examples suggest that it may be true: Major structural budget problems, water, healthcare and prisons, just to name a few. Competing interest groups coupled with partisan gridlock and the sheer size of the problems has conspired to

Ideas include stripping the two-thirds vote threshold to pass a budget, instant run-off for state officeholders, open primaries, unicameral or parliamentary-style legislature, ending term limits, along with campaign finance and initiative reforms.

I’ll be here all day and I’ll report back later on some of the more interesting ideas and who wants to do what.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: Election reform | No Comments »

Miller reports out of fiscal summit

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

On a taxi ride back to the Capitol and scheduled House votes, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, described as positive his participation in President Barack Obama’s fiscal summit today.

Miller was among several dozen lawmakers of both parties, advocates and fiscal experts who debated ways to tackle the nation’s growing deficit at the same time it faces a deepening recession. The session was held at the White House and an adjacent executive office building.

An apologetic liberal, some may not know that Miller introduced what is commonly called the pay-go system into Congress in the mid-1980s: It requires members to identify the source of funds for all new spending. It was in effect throughout President Clinton’s tenure but Republicans later repealed it.

“I was encouraged to hear that President Obama wants to go back to the pay-go system,” Miller said. “It may seem inconsistent that we pass the economic stimulus package one week and then talk about reducing the deficit the next week. But we absolutely must focus on our long-term fiscal health as the economy begins to recover.”

The fiscal summit included two-hour breakout sessions on how to reform healthcare, government procurement, Social Security and other major federal programs.

As chairman of the House Labor and Education Committee, Miller participated in the healthcare reform breakout.

“The president wants to pass a healthcare bill and he wants it done this session,” Miller said. “I get a very strong sense of urgency from him. We can’t fix the economy until we fix healthcare. It is driving a huge amount of the costs.”

Obama promised to supply summit participants with a report of the group’s findings in 30 days, a timeline Miller described as lightning-speed in government.

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, economy, George Miller, Obama presidency | No Comments »

Miller and Tauscher invited to Obama summit today

Democratic Reps. George Miller of Martinez and Ellen Tauscher of Alamo are participating today in President Barack Obama’s fiscal summit.

Obama has said that he will pursue policies intended to reduce the growing federal deficit, a thorny problem given his administration’s recent moves to ramp up federal spending as an antidote to the deepening recession.

I expect to talk with Miller via phone after the summit and I’ll update you on what he has to say.

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Under: Congress, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller | No Comments »

Political Haiku, Vol. 7

Obama signs bill;
Are we stimulated yet?
Not yet, maybe soon.

At last a budget,
After all the sturm und drang.
Now the pain begins.

Rick Santelli rants,
“We need a new tea party!”
Make mine Earl Grey, please.

Dean Andal won’t run
Against McNerney next time.
GOP must search.

Torrico will run
For AG in 2010;
Harris sharpens knives.

Posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Under: haiku | No Comments »

Point, counterpoint on the Obama housing plan

Rick Santelli, on Thursday:

Robert Gibbs, today:

Read up on President Barack Obama’s housing plan, and decide for yourself: Who has a better grasp of the facts, and who’s blowing smoke?

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, housing | No Comments »

Andal bows out of congressional rematch

Dean Andal

Dean Andal

Republican Dean Andal will not challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, to a rematch in 2010, instead opting for a job with mega-firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as a director focusing on California tax issues.

“It was a spirited campaign this last time around,” Andal said in an email release. “But Iʼve decided on a different path – one that still gives me an opportunity to stand up for California taxpayers. Although I enjoyed the time I spent with voters, this is the right decision for me and my family right now.”

Andal’s departure is both good and bad news for McNerney.

On the one hand, McNerney will not face a challenger who built up name recognition in the 2008 campaign and could, in theory, use that experience to take advantage of voter backlash against Democrats if the economy remains in the tank.

But it opens up the specter of an unknown Republican opponent whose strengths and weaknesses could be very different than those of Andal, a conservative with strong anti-tax record who nevertheless suffered from the anti-GOP sentiment that swept the country last November.

McNerney won the seat in a major upset in 2006, beating veteran Republican Richard Pombo. McNerney rode on the Barack Obama wave in 2008 and easily beat Andal last November.

It’s a safe bet that the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, which has already been running anti-McNerney ads in the district, either has someone in mind or they are rattling the bushes in search of a viable challenger.

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Congress, congressional district 11, General, Republican Party, Republican politics | No Comments »