Friday, November 30, 2007

A Big Whiff

What is that breeze you feel?

It is Delegate James King striking out in his lame attempt to smear bloggers as a defense for his vote on the slots bill during the special session.

King said the blogs denigrate into personal attacks instead of providing factual commentary. The blogs ‘‘have no ethical standards, no legal standards. They are not bound by any [responsibility] to be factual,” ...

‘‘My experience is that actual bloggers are individuals who ran for office in the past ... they were unable to get elected and this is their way to feel relevant in any way shape or form,”

Forget for a moment that King is responding to comments, not the actual posting that generated the comments. King's "way to feel relevant" jab, is a back-handed personal attack on me or my fellow Red Maryland colleague Greg Kline.

I can't speak for Greg, but Delegate King, if you were talking about me; try running in Baltimore City as a Republican in your next run for office instead of a safe Anne Arundel County district. Furthermore, I was blogging well before I took one for the team.

Delegate King is upset that some of us in the blogosphere dared to criticize his vote for the slots bill.

King's feeble explanation of his slots vote shows two things:

1. Delegate King is deliberately deceiving his constituents or ignorant of how the legislative process works.

2. Intellectually, King can't play ball with those who wear long pants, which is why he only takes on anonymous commenters instead of the substantive arguments of his blogger critics. Delegate King has engaged in the same "argument" in print and talk radio. That is, he has not really made an argument, rather he merely repeats his flawed position in the vain hope that if someone hears it enough they will believe it.

Delegate King also has some splainin to do regarding his involvement with Citizens for Better Government, a shady PAC using the name of Ronald Reagan to build a political slush fund.

CBG bills itself as a fund for candidates who "exemplify, for example, fiscal restraint, transparency in government, honesty and integrity." Delegate King, through his vote for slots, disingenuous explanation for that vote, and ad hominem attacks, is an example of none of those qualities.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shedding Light on O'Malley's Climate of Secrecy

Today's Examiner editorial and opinion piece by Paul Chesser reveal yet another secretive and shady dealing by the O'Malley administration:

Both Chesser and the editorial note that Governor O'Malley authorized the creation of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change to address the impact of global warming and formulate the administration's response. According to the Examiner editorial:

The commission then brought on CCS — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit public-private partnership — to do in Maryland what it is presently or has already done in many other states, which is to provide policy guidance and day-to-day management expertise. Put simply, O’Malley’s commission outsourced development of the Maryland government’s global warming policy to a group with a financial and ideological stake in the outcome — the environmental firms and consultants behind CCS gaining the inside track for future business in Maryland.
Maryland Department of the Environment officials refuse to provide documents or other important information about CCS’ operations or funding. State officials deny having any kind of contract or other services agreement with CCS, but they admit the existence of internal e-mails and other correspondence with and about CCS. The e-mails and correspondence make it clear the group is an active participant in state government decision-making.
There is a stench about this deal for several reasons. First, in other states where it operates, CCS advocates climate change policies that critics charge will require tax increases, make energy more expensive and restrict private property rights. Maryland residents thus should not be surprised if O’Malley’s commission recommends similar policies. Second, it is impossible for outsiders to determine whether any of the companies or individuals connected with CCS stand to gain financially by the relationship.
Finally, are any of CCS’ financial backers also O’Malley campaign contributors? If there is nothing to hide here, why all the secrecy?

Please allow me to shed a bit of light on CCS. CCS is a subsidiary organ of Environmental Solutions Inc.(EESI), which itself is a subsidiary organization of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. (PECPA). PECPA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so their financial records are open to the public. You can see the IRS 990 forms for EESI and PEPCA at Guidestar. The Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania was a former subsidiary of EESI, but now have split into two separate but related organizations. CCS, EESI, and PECPA share the same address 130 Locust St. Harrisburg, PA.

Gannett Fleming Companies Inc., a multifaceted firm, also located in Harrisburg is a financial benefactor of PEPCA. Gannett specializes in the "environmental sustainability" of its projects and practices. PEPCA's Executive Director David Sheridan is the former Director of Gannett's environmental practices.

Surprise surprise, Gannett Fleming has contributed over $12,000 to Martin O'Malley since 2004.

For more shadiness see what Chesser has to say about MDE director of air and radiation management Tad Aburn's refusal to publicly release correspondence between the MCCC and CCS.:

Something I was told by Laramie Daniel, an MDE liaison, might answer that question. In trying to explain why I could not have this public information, Daniel said Aburn “is the one who wanted the documents withheld.” Aburn has declined to speak with me directly.
What makes this doubly mysterious is how much more forthcoming officials have been in other states where CCS is involved, including Florida, Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Virginia and others. I’ve had no problem obtaining what I asked for from those states, so what is Aburn’s — and Maryland’s — big secret? It could be the fact that, as in the other states, liberal environmental foundations are paying for CCS’ study process, thus effectively removing them from state budget requirements.
It could be that, according to a draft memorandum from CCS’ leaders to Aburn, “participants will not debate the science of climate change,” which undermines CCS’ claim as an “impartial and expert party [that] does not take positions on issues.”
Or perhaps Aburn has a deal with CCS that for whatever reason he does not want disclosed. It could be all these things, or none of them. Belying the claims to “no budget,” the aforementioned CCS draft memo says its process costs $460,000, which is consistent with its service charges in other states.
Also, as it has elsewhere, CCS promises to secure funds from “a group of private foundation donors” to pay for its work. Those sources remain a secret in Maryland’s case. But if you read CCS’ memo to Aburn, you’d think they have nothing to hide, because they say their “process is fully transparent.” Who are they kidding?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Get Real

One of the biggest unfunded mandates that's ever existed.

Is this a Republican criticism of the Thornton education plan?

No those are the words of House Judiciary Committee Chair, Joe Vallario, explaining his opposition to the Real ID Act.

Forget for a moment that the cost of Thornton by far exceeds implementing the Real ID Act. Thornton costs taxpayers $1.3 billion, Real ID would cost $150 million, and that is a high-end estimate. Joe Vallario voted for Thornton so I don’t know who he was trying to fool.

The Real ID Act is a set of federal guidelines states must follow to ensure the integrity of its driver’s licenses and identification cards. States following these guidelines would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining state issued licenses or ID cards. Those with driver’s licenses or ID cards from non complying states would not be able to use them to enter federal buildings or board commercial air flights.

During the 2007 regular session Senator Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery County) and Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) introduced bills, similar one passed by the Maine legislature opposing Real ID. Forehand argued that implementing Real ID would "invite theft of identity and invasion of privacy" and the act "will impose inconveniences and higher taxes on Marylanders with no attendant benefit such as protection from terrorism." Senator Forehand is under the illusion that the current system is immune from identity theft or that it prevents corruption of our voting process

Forehand has no legitimacy when it comes to concern for higher taxes on Marylanders. She voted for the good of her party and Martin O’Malley’s political career (and consequently her own) over the good of her constituents. Forehand folded under pressure from the governor and her party. She voted yes across the board on all tax increases. Forehand, like Vallario voted for Thornton as well.

Second, I’m not sure what she means by “no attendant benefit such as protection from terrorism.” Had federal guidelines like those contained in the Real ID Act been in place, they could have disrupted or thwarted the 9/11 attacks.

Hani Hanjour the terrorist who rammed flight 77 into the Pentagon, entered the United States on a student visa, then promptly violated the terms of the visa by not enrolling in school, hence he was an illegal immigrant. Hanjour obtained a Maryland ID card, a Virginia ID card, and an Arizona driver’s license. Maryland issued his ID card less than a week before the attacks. Hanjour and the other 9/11 hijackers obtained driver’s licenses and ID cards to avoid using their passports, some of which had terrorists indicators on them like Nawaf Al Hamzi. For example, an MSP Trooper stopped Ziad Jarrah for speeding in Cecil County just two days before the attacks. Jarrah, who might have crashed flight 93 into the capitol building if not for the heroic efforts of the passengers, could have been detained if he did not have Virginia driver’s license and was forced to show his passport.

According to a 9/11 Commission staff report the 19 hijackers obtained 16 state driver’s licenses (from Arizona, California, Florida and Virginia) and 14 state ID cards (from Florida, Maryland and Virginia) using 374 aliases among them.

Driver’s licenses and ID cards are the main form of identification used to register voters. As we all know, Maryland issues driver’s licenses and ID cards to illegal immigrants, and apparently Al Qaeda terrorists as well. With the current system in place, how can we be sure about the integrity of our electoral process? How do we know that illegal immigrants have not and are not voting in our elections? We don’t! Why? Because we have unscrupulous politicians who favor their own unfunded education mandate—that has only enriched the educrats and MSTA and done nothing to help students—over a sound law, that had it been in effect six years ago might have prevented the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

The original deadline for states to comply with Real ID was May 11, 2008. However, DHS has moved the deadline back to December 2009. The General Assembly has at least two regular sessions to comply with Real ID. The governor’s own transportation secretary John Porcari testified that the state must comply with Real ID. In the same testimony Porcari said that a two-tiered system might be an option. I don’t doubt it. Delegate Ann Sol Gutierrez an anti-slots Democrat sold her vote on the slots bill in return for an administration promise to get a two-tiered system passed in the legislature.

I am wary of a two-tiered system. Even though it would, in theory, prevent illegal immigrants from voting; why would illegals seek to obtain identification that for all intents and purposes marks them as illegal immigrants? While it would require Real ID licenses and ID cards to register to vote (one would hope), what about the drivers licenses already issued to illegals? Will they be accepted for voter registration? What about any illegal aliens who are already on the voter rolls? How will they be handled?

Straight implementation of Real ID would be the ideal policy. Admittedly implementation would be a significant cost, but as a conservative the outcomes of Real ID, (enhancing national security and ensuring the integrity of our electoral process) are two core functions of government. Furthermore, DHS has ruled states can use up to 20% of Homeland Security Grant Program funds to implement Real ID, so it is not an unfunded mandate.

Democrats can play the angle that a two-tiered system is less expensive and implementing Real ID will cost taxpayers more. That may be true, but this Democrat majority, who addressed a deficit by increasing spending, and voted for an unfunded mandate of their own, doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to looking out for the security of the taxpayers of Maryland.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sean Taylor, RIP

I stopped writing post-game analysis of Redskins games because frankly, it was just too hard to rehash all the frustrating ways this team has found to lose games they should have won. My wife and family often chide me that I am too emotionally invested in the Redskins. I can't help it and I won't apologize for it. I grew up with the Redskins and they were a big part of my formative years.

This is the reason why Sean Taylor's death, for me, is all the more heartbreaking. Too often, many of us (especially me) invest so much into our teams and the players in particular that we forget they are flawed human beings just like the rest of us, and that despite their million dollar salaries, they make mistakes just the same. Even though I no longer expect the world from these guys, the connection is still there because I know that for all their talent and physical gifts, they are in many ways not that different from me.

Sean Taylor perhaps more than any other Redskin epitomized these human flaws. He had several brushes with the law including assault and drunk driving. However, in the last two years he had begun to turn his life around. Joe Gibbs and Greg Williams noticed a marked difference in Taylor's professionalism and approach to the game. The birth of his daughter in 2006 no doubt played a huge role in Taylor's maturation. Do not discount the Gibbs factor either on Taylor's change. Gibbs is a player's coach and his players will go through the fire for him, and Taylor's stellar play this year is sign of Gibbs' influence. We love the man and this is why it is hard for folks to criticize St. Joe.

Taylor, despite his run-ins with the law, by any count was a good person. Although he distrusted the media and rarely talked to them, his teammates and coaches all saw, and talked about the good person he was. In eerily prescient column Mike Wise of The Washington Post, tried to pierce the veil of mystery surrounding Taylor.

Gregg Williams, the Redskins' defensive boss, says there is one key to
knowing Taylor. "More than anything, it's trust," he said. "He has to trust you. He can look you in the eye and know whether you're being a con."
Williams says the maturity and development of Taylor was the result "a lot of tough love behind the scenes you didn't see."
"I love him," he said. "I think he's one of the most passionate football players I've ever coached. But he's very guarded. He's so at peace with who he is, he really doesn't care that [you] don't know him. It doesn't bother him."

Portis feels the same way. "I love him as a person and a teammate, I think what he stands for is perfect. He added that Taylor's infant daughter has changed him. "You gotta grow up all of a sudden," Portis said. "It's not you, you, you, you. Now you got to sacrifice you all the time for her, her, her. When you have something so precious and so innocent in your life like that, it gives you a special meaning for what matters."
Lessons learned. Perspective. Unbridled joy. All the things Sean Taylor has apparently experienced but failed to reveal. Until he decides to speak for himself, that will have to be good enough.

Sean Taylor's story had all the makings of a classic "turn your life around" tale. Sadly, we will never have the honor of Sean telling us himself.

Goodbye Sean.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Standing By While Its Citizens Die

Whatever right the Second Amendment guarantees, it does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die.
--Washington, DC Attorney General Linda Singer

That line is the sine qua non of the District’s case against the repeal of its unconstitutional gun ban. This is wholly ironic since DC has consistently fought to uphold its right to do just that: stand by while its citizens are raped, robbed, and, and kidnapped.

Track the case at H/T David Freddoso.

From Gura & Possessky’s response to DC’s petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court:

V. Citizens Under Criminal Attack Are Not Required to Stand By and Die Awaiting Police Protection.
Petitioners correctly note that the Second Amendment “does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die.” Pet. at 30 (emphasis added). Yet the city consistently fights to secure its right to stand by while its citizens are victimized by crime. For example, the city has successfully defended its right to “stand by while its citizens” are raped, kidnapped from their homes, and further abused. Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1981) (enbanc).

The city has likewise successfully defended its right to “stand by” in the face of the worst urban rioting in our nation’s history. Westminster Investing Co. v. G.C. Murphy Co., 434 F.2d 521 (D.C. Cir. 1970). The city has even defended its right to “stand by while its citizens die” when the perpetrator is a police officer. Morgan v. District of Columbia, 468 A.2d 1306 (D.C. 1983) (en banc).

Indeed, the city has asserted its right to “stand by while its citizens die” in the course of volunteering their assistance to the police. Butera v. District of Columbia, 235 F.3d 637 (D.C. Cir. 2001).

Petitioners cannot be begrudged their arguments that they are under no general obligation to protect citizens from violent crime. As a matter of tort law, Petitioners’ position is consistent with accepted notions of sovereign immunity and the public duty doctrine. And as a matter of constitutional law, citizens do not enjoy any positive right to police protection. DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Social Servs., 489 U.S. 189 (1989); Castle Rock, 545 U.S. 748.

Petitioners’ sincere desire to reduce violent crime is unquestioned. And Petitioners’ consistent assertion of immunity for failing to police the city is valid policy, borne of the regrettable truth that even the best police force cannot perfectly protect the general population against violence. Accordingly, the people’s need for Second Amendment rights is inevitably, regardless of Petitioners’ best intentions, a matter of life and death.

Because of Petitioners’ demonstrated – even if understandable – inability to police the entire city, local government cannot substitute for the right of individuals to keep functional firearms in their homes…

If the city does not wish to “stand by while its citizens die,” it has many opportunities to act without infringing upon the Bill of Rights…

In the meantime, people need not stand by and die while waiting for Petitioners to provide a safe city in which to live. The Second Amendment guarantees to citizens something that Petitioners have expressly and consistently disclaimed any legal obligation to provide: an effective means of preserving their lives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Bumper Stickers

Eric Luedtke's Winners and Losers special session "analysis" offers yet another example of the left's bumper sticker mentality.

Republicans: Their participation in the debate around the budget crisis amounted to little more than childish foot stamping about tax increases. And the decision of Assembly Republicans to oppose slots when O'Malley proposed them, after supporting them when Ehrlich proposed them, shows just how much integrity the Maryland Republican Party has. None.

"Budget crisis" What budget? There was no budget on the table in the special session. In fact we have no idea what O'Malley's budget is because he not presented it to the legislature. Those $550 million in so called "budget cuts" are not cuts, they are merely recommendations to the governor, who is not bound to abide by them. Sure the General Assembly can make the cuts themselves, but does anyone honestly believe this legislature will actually cut anything.

The only crisis was one of O'Malley's making. The governor knew that the only way to get his tax increases was to ramrod them through a condensed three-week special session.

"Childish footstamping about tax increases" Witness the main argumentative tactic of the left. Republicans are whiny children. If all Eric can come up with is lame name calling, and can't honestly address the substantive philosophical and economic reasons Republicans oppose tax increases, than he really doesn't have much of an argument to begin with.

"And the decision of Assembly Republicans to oppose slots when O'Malley proposed them, after supporting them when Ehrlich proposed them, shows just how much integrity the Maryland Republican Party has. None."

It was entirely honest and honorable for the majority of Republicans to oppose slots in this session. Why? Because O'Malley's slots plan is greatly flawed. The plan creates an opportunity for a constitutional right to slots, it enshrines a payoff to O'Malley's financial benefactors in the constitution, and the slots plan does not generate as much revenue as Ehrlich's previous slots plans or this year's Republican alternatives.

Republicans also opposed slots because they knew if O'Malley's slots plan went under there was a good chance that the tax increases would sink with it. If Eric needs hand puppets and flash cards, I'll provide them.. Republican opposition to slots was part of their principled stand against tax increases. Call me cray, but that sounds like integrity to me.

The real question about integrity, one that Eric does not want to ask, is that why, if the majority of Marylanders want slots, did Democrats overwhelmingly oppose them (supposedly on prinicple) during Ehrlich's tenure, only to follow O'Malley's election flip flop and vote for slots. What principled stand were the Democrats taking?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stay Involved, Keep Fighting

One of the lone bright spots coming out of the largest tax grab in Maryland history, is the hornet's nest of angry tax payers and citizens incensed over the actions of the O'Malley administration and the the Miller/Busch General Assembly.

To those of you who wish to make a difference and want responsive and responsible state government, you need to get active. Like Governor Ehrlich says, monopolies do what monopolies want to do because they are not held accountable. The only way to hold those who raised your taxes and adversely affected your families accountable, is to vote them out of office.

To do that we need an strong, organized, and effective opposition party. Right now the MDGOP is moribund to say the least. Despite this, the MDGOP still remains the best option to defeat the liberal monopoly in Annapolis and make Maryland a two-party state.

However, you must remain active and stay involved if we are to have any chance at success. One way to do that is to attend the Fall MDGOP Convention on December 1 in Westminster.

You can meet the central committee members of your county, the state party leadership, and elected officials. This is a good way to see how the state party operates and to meet and network as well. Most importantly it provides a way for you to do something proactive.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Three Weeks and a Cloud of Taxes

Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once described his offense as, “three yards and a cloud of dust.” Paraphrasing Hayes, we can sum up the end of the special session as “three weeks and cloud of taxes.”

For the second weekend in a row, the House of Delegates held key votes in the dark of night after most of the press had left and most us had gone to bed. Delegates were voting on versions of bills handed to them minutes before the vote, with no idea of what they were voting on.

Supposedly “conservative” Democrats abandoned concern for their constituents, by voting for the tax increases before they opposed them. Five Republicans, who should know better, voted for a flawed slots amendment. Had just three of flimsy five showed a modicum of backbone we could have been discussing the collapse of the special session and a defeat of largest tax grab in Maryland history. Instead, taxpayers got hosed and unscrupulous legislators offered lame excuses. Delegate James King R (R District 33A) of Anne Arundel County deserves special opprobrium. The man can’t even offer a cogent or honest assessment as to why he voted for the slots amendment.

WBAL details the higher taxes the special session hath wrought:

Maryland's income tax rates would be restructured for the first time in 40 years. Now, the income tax rate is mostly flat, because people who earn more than $3,000 in taxable income pay a 4.75 rate. A compromise between the House and Senate on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposals would create three new tax brackets. The new brackets are:
- 5 percent for single filers who make more than $150,000 and joint filers who make more than $200,000.
- 5.25 percent for singles making more than $300,000 and joint filers making more than $350,000.
- 5.5 percent for singles and joint filers making more than $500,000.
- Personal exemptions would be increased by $800 for single taxpayers who make less than $100,000 a year and joint filers who make less than $150,000 a year in federal adjusted gross income.
Maryland's sales tax would rise from 5 percent to 6 percent. The sales tax also would be extended to computer services - a key change that would raise an estimated $190 million. The computer services that would be affected include support services for computer systems or data processing facilities, custom computer programming, consulting services regarding computer systems design, and computer disaster recovery services.
The state's tobacco tax would rise from $1 a pack to $2 a pack. A Senate proposal to require the tax to be reduced proportionate to any federal tax increase would be eliminated.
Would be delayed until 2011.
The corporate income tax would rise from 7 percent to 8.25 percent.
A proposal aimed at making corporations pay more taxes in the state by preventing them from moving profits to out-of-state-subsidiaries would be put off and studied.
Would close a corporate loophole enabling corporations to skip transfer taxes and real estate recordation taxes, or 2 percent of sales prices
paid by residents and small businesses.
TITLING TAX: The vehicle titling tax would be increased from 5 percent to 6 percent with full trade-in allowances.

Also, no one in the media is reporting that the Budget Reconciliation Act will raise our electricity bills even more. Thrown in with the tweaking of state education funding the BRA allows counties to levy a property tax on electricity generating companies. Counties can increase that assessment by 65% in 2008, then increase it another 60% in 2009, and 55% in 2010. Martin O’Malley singed this bill earlier this afternoon. He broke the same campaign promise, not once but twice.

In all it appears to be about $1.3 billion total.

The flawed slots referendum now goes on the ballot for the 2008 election. The plan is flawed because: a) the state constitution is not the place to enshrine our right to play video Wheel of Fortune; b) a slots license auction. like the GOP plan, could have generated $800 million up front; c) if the citizens of Maryland approve the referendum, they will have constitutionally enshrined a political payoff to some of the governor’s major financial contributors, even one who retired O’Malley’s campaign debt.

I want slots, hell I want full table gaming in Maryland. However, enshrining slots in the constitution and using them to repay the governor’s political patrons is not the way to do it.

Contrary to Andrew Green and the Baltimore Sun the legislature did not issue a “directive” to the governor to make $550 million in cuts to the budget. The bill merely makes recommendations to the governor, which he is not legally bound to make. Does anyone seriously think this governor or this legislature is actually going to cut spending? This is the same dishonest crew that label, reducing the rate of spending growth, “cuts.” Reductions, by the way, that could have closed the deficit WITHOUT raising taxes.

The special session was not merely about “deficit reduction.” The General Assembly proved the point I made in the previous paragraph, by creating additional spending on healthcare and programs to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

I await the litany of Pravdaesque and brown nose opinion pieces lauding O’Malley’s leadership for making tough decisions.

More Sunspeak

On Friday I talked about Sun reporter Bradley Olson's dishonest use of language. It appears that his colleague Andrew Green uses the same linguistic tactics.

Lawmakers also approved a directive for O'Malley to cut $550 million from the
expected spending in next year's budget.

To translate from Sunspeak to English: "directive" means recommend.

The $550 million in cuts are not a directive from the General Assembly. In fact there are no cuts to be made, because THERE IS NO BUDGET TO CUT FROM YET! These are merely recommendations to the governor who is not bound by law to implement them. Using the word directive implies that the cuts have the force of law to them. They don't.

George Orwell in Politics and The English Language argued that deceptive language as evidenced by Messrs Olson and Green are the effect of foolish thinking and dishonest politics. We should expect as much from their employer, whose editors are the chief water carriers for Martin O'Malley, king of deceptive language and dishonest politics.

If you are interested in more honest reporting about this see WBAL Radio's report.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Curt "Floppy" Anderson

I have a new nickname for Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson: Floppy.

Anderson repeatedly questioned the need for a special session, and opposed tax increases, especially the sales tax, which will hit his constituents in District 41 especially hard. He even suggested on C4's show on WBAL that his party did not want him in Annapolis because of his opposition to the special session and tax increases. What a difference a two weeks can make.

Anderson voted yes across the board for the tax increases (HB2 and HB5).

Listen to Anderson's lame attempt to square this circle. Anyone who thinks that the pittance of income tax relief for those on the lower end of the income scale will offset the sales tax increase AND the electricity tax increase is smoking some serious dope.

Oh you didn't know about the electricity tax increase (SB1). Well it really isn't a classic tax increase, it is a repeal of a tax break for companies that generate electricity in Maryland. Like all businesses this will be passed on to the customer. If' I'm not mistaken I thought O'Malley was elected to lower our energy bills. Remember that too when BGE goes before the PSC to ask for another rate increase.

Even though Anderson, and the House of Delegates did not vote an electricity tax, citizens of District 41 have no fear, your senator Lisa Gladden, voted for the electricity tax increase.

Kevin Clark Sues O'Malley

Former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Clark has filed suit in federal court, fighting his firing three years ago. Governor O'Malley is named as a defendant.

The suit alleges that the firings of Clark, Anthony Romano and Joel
Francis, were unlawful and racially motivated. The plaintiffs claim that O'Malley, who was the mayor at the time, and Tyler ordered a police raid on the plaintiffs offices, and that the four officers helped carry it out. According to the suit, a SWAT team detained the plaintiffs and removed documents from their offices.

The suit seeks 10 million dollars in compensatory damages and 10 million dollars in punitive damages for alleged violations of constitutional and civil rights.

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese says the suit has "no merit."

A separate suit by Clark was dismissed, then reinstated on appeal. A decision on an appeal of the reinstatement is pending.

Monday, November 12, 2007

At Least They Are Consistent

Last month I asked the question what's the matter with MoCo? My point was that it would be interesting to track the votes of MoCo's representatives during the special session given that their constituents would bear the brunt of the tax increases and foot even more of the bill for our government's spending addiction. Would the MoCo delegation vote their progressive values and export more of theirs and their constituents money to the government maw, or realize that their own economic interests were at stake.

Well it appears that Blair Lee made the accurate prediction:

Montgomery’s state lawmakers support the governor’s income tax plan because it’s ‘‘progressive,” it taxes the wealthy who mostly live in Montgomery. So, as usual, our representatives place principle over politics. Taxing ourselves more is the right thing to do, they say. How can you argue against fairness, they ask?

MoCo representatives are so fair, it hurts.

In the Senate, all eight MoCo senators voted for the tax increase.

Senator Rona Kramer had a chance to scuttle the tax increase by standing with the Republicans and the filibuster, but voted for cloture, which ensured that the tax increase would pass the Senate. Kramer voted "Nay" on the bill on third reading to save face.

All but three of MoCo representatives in the House of Delegates voted for income tax increases.
Kathleen Dumais, Luis Simmons, and Brian Feldman voted against it.

Kamikaze County indeed, "home of idealism run amok."

The Conservative Refuge

Just wanted to give a plug to my colleague Greg Kline and his excellent podcast The Conservative Refuge. Stop by and listen to great commentary and analysis from Greg, myself and Maryland's most influential blogger Brian Griffiths.

"It’s true because it’s funny"

Jonah Goldberg has a fantastic critique of the "fake news" industry i.e., The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have blurred the line between news and entertainment, and between fact and fiction, so much so that Goldberg notes, "It’s no longer funny because it’s true. It’s true because it’s funny. "

Colbert and Stewart, throw in Bill Maher too, are essentially stand-up acts who found a niche in creating a comedy show wrapped in a pseudo-intellectual costume, dealing with real issues. However, the premise only works when it produces laughs. Most of the time the laughs are not always based on real facts, rather they are based on playing to the general left-wing tenor of their audience. I watch Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO, mostly for his "New Rules," which are hilarious. However, his conservative guests must feel like Koestler's Rubashov in Darkness at Noon, when the kool-aid drinking audience gets riled up at Maher's "fact-based" comedy. Same goes for Stewart and Colbert.

I leave you with this from Goldberg, although the whole column is worth a read:
The problem of parsing fact from fiction, news from entertainment, has been inherent to broadcast journalism from the beginning. Radio newsman Walter Winchell got his start in vaudeville. But in the modern era, I blame “Murphy Brown,” the show about a fictional TV newswoman who talked about real newsmakers as if they were characters on her sitcom. When Brown had a baby out of wedlock, Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the writers of the show. Liberals then reacted as though Quayle had insulted a real person — and so did the fictional Brown, whining about how she’d been personally attacked. Ever since, journalists and politicians have been playing themselves in movies and TV series, perhaps trying to disprove the cliche that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.

TV news is, and always has been, the shallowest branch of journalism. This is why TV journalism in particular operates like a trade guild — not because it’s so hard to do but because it’s so easy. (The Brits call their anchors “news readers” for a reason.) For instance, in 2000, Sam Donaldson led a successful internal revolt over a plan to have Leonardo DiCaprio interview President Clinton for ABC News. The essence of the complaint was that viewers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between DiCaprio and a “real” TV reporter. Let’s face it, that’s true. Even DiCaprio can read questions off an index card or teleprompter.

“Yes, it’s a changed business,” Donaldson said at the time, “and we ought to recognize that. But we also all have to recognize that we have to do things according to the standards that will help us retain our credibility.”

I think Donaldson was right, but I also don’t mind that TV news is trying to be relevant to viewers not on the AARP’s mailing list. What I do find dismaying is that “relevance” is literally coming at the expense of reality.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Anti-Tax/Anti-O'Malley Anthem Contest

In "honor" of O'Malley's tax and spend schemes making their way through the General Assembly, I am hosting a contest to select an anti-tax/anti OMalley anthem. I will be taking your suggestions. The winner will preferably be an Irish rock/folk song to remind the governor that he is acting like the tyrant that many of those songs rail against. However, the contest is open to all genres.

I will be posting all suggestions on The Main Adversary. A blue-ribbon panel will select the finalists. The winner will be chosen in a poll of the finalists. The winning song will be played during the Tuesday evening O'Malley Watch Updates on WAMD AM 970.

Send your suggestions to A Youtube vid of the song will be helpful, just add the embed link in your email. Let me know if you do or do not want your name posted along with your suggestion.

Herewith is my suggestion:

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Michael, they have taken you away
For you stole O'Malley's corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay

Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters, Mary when you're free
Against the famine and the Crown
I rebelled, they cut me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity

Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry

By a lonely harbor wall
She watched the last star falling
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely ‘round the fields of Athenry

It's so lonely ‘round the fields of Athenry

Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Purporting to Argue Otherwise

Thanks to Andrew Kujan for making my argument for me. Not surprisingly, he does it while enjoying his own high dudgeon at disagreeing with me.

Let’s see, where to start.

First, there is nothing “grandiose” about “The Main Adversary.” The Main Adversary is the term Soviet intelligence services used to identify the United States in its internal memoranda and communications. The Soviets used this term even as far back as 1919 when Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky the founded the Cheka, the precursor to what we know today as the KGB. See Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin’s The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB.

I chose The Main Adversary because I studied the Soviet and American communist movements in graduate school and I happened to like the idea of using that term as a name for my blog. How that constitutes “grandiose” is anyone’s guess.

Here is the link to the Blair Lee column I referenced, a regrettable error on my part for not supplying the link. However, if Kujan was interested in reading the whole piece, he would not have had to look to far as one of his FSP colleagues recently blogged about it.

Young master Kujan writes:

Mark Newgent is missing the point. I still believe that Montgomery County reaps many benefits from the taxes they pay, and based on the relative wealth in the county, I am not sure how he purports to argue otherwise.

Well I do argue otherwise, with actual data. Kujan merely states his “progressive” beliefs as proof and leaves it at that. After all, he is a “progressive” and how could anything they believe in be wrong.

Kujan, as he often does, creates a straw man to burn, by arguing against what someone DID NOT say. For example:

Blair Lee, who argues that because Moco pays the majority of state taxes, they deserve the majority of state services.

That is not what Lee argued. His argument was not that MoCo should get the majority of state services. Rather, Lee argues, MoCo would like to see a little more than the pittance they get from the state, in return for bearing a major portion of the costs for services that overwhelmingly benefit other jurisdictions, namely Baltimore City. Kujan creates his assertion from some very thin air.

Kujan goes on to create a nightmare scenario from his invented straw man:

This statewide economic and social catastrophe would find it's way to MOCO, bringing an influx of the poor, looking for the social services they once enjoyed in Baltimore City. Their public schools would be strained to the breaking point, as failing schools in districts in Baltimore City and western Maryland would drive familes [sic] to the already overburdened county.

So now Montgomery county is overburdened?. I thought he just got done arguing they could afford to pay more, you know, because they reap the "many benefits from the taxes they pay, and based on the relative wealth in the county."

Kujans "catastrophe" scenario is actually not far from the truth, but not a truth Kujan is willing to recognize, because progressives like him see the world as they wish it to be not as it really is. In his column, Blair Lee notes an astounding demographic shift occurring in MoCo:

But while Montgomery is busy enlightening the world by example — by practicing fairness until it hurts — something is going on below the surface.

According to the latest census data an alarming population shift is taking place. During the last six years, Montgomery’s population grew by 58,000 but only because births exceeded deaths by 49,000 and because 62,000 people from foreign nations immigrated to Montgomery. The number of Montgomery residents who left the county for other parts of the state and nation actually exceeded, by 51,000, the number who moved into the county. In other words, thousands of Montgomery Countians are fleeing the county but their net 51,000 loss is masked by foreign newcomers. Only Baltimore city had a worse (-64,000) net internal population loss.

And how is this population shift affecting the county’s demographics? Well, during that same period the percentage of state taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 who live in Montgomery declined sharply while the percentage of people with no taxable income who live in the county showed a significant jump. Apparently, Montgomery is rapidly losing those two wage-earner families who buy homes, pay taxes and whose kids raise test scores.

But don’t worry, when these trends come back to haunt us and when Montgomery needs help from Annapolis, the other counties are bound to recall our decades of ‘‘fairness” and to reciprocate in kind. We can count on it, right?

A good question, one I doubt Kujan has an answer to. Kujan’s “economic and social catastrophe” is on its way to MoCo already, even without it receiving the “majority of state services.”

Next Kujan writes:

Lets also not forget that despite it's problems, Baltimore City is still an economic engine, providing jobs to many who live outside it's limits. State funding to support City business, particularly minority and small businesses, if cut to "equal the benefits according to the amount of tax paid" would seriously hamper the Baltimore job market.

Once again, this is a rebuttal to an argument NO ONE MADE. Where in either my piece, or Blair Lee’s column, did either of us write the words, or call for funding “equal the benefits according to the amount of tax paid.” I’m not sure who Kujan is quoting, but it wasn’t Blair Lee or myself.

And finally, Kujan writes:

What it boils down to is that some in the state of Maryland refuse to acknowledge that our state, as all states, is a set of parts that make up a
whole. When my tax money goes to pay for Baltimore City public schools, I benefit, despite not having any children. When my tax money goes to pay for cleaning up the bay, I know that it benefits me even though I may never visit the shoreline that was improved. It is a shared sacrifice, and it follows that those who make more will be able to bear a greater tax burden than those who make less.

Exactly how Kujan benefits from his tax dollars going to Baltimore city schools is another assertion he doesn’t justify. MoCo certainly does not benefit. How can it when MoCo tax dollars pay for the lions share of of school construction costs and MoCo gets the same amount money as Baltimore City, yet has 40% more students to service.

I'm sure it will come as a shock to young master Kujan that the flush tax and income tax are two different beasts. We all pay the flush tax, its not determined by income. Although, given the amount of BS Kujan generates he may pay more in flush tax than most of us.

As for Kujan’s “shared burden,” I wonder how willing he will be to pony up to help the “rich” folks in MoCo when the current demographic shifts begin to affect its tax base, and MoCo residents can no longer afford to pay his “benefits.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Disproportionately Benefits"

More brilliance from Andrew Kujan.
From his anger over the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee lowering O'Malley's income tax rate for the "rich:"

Mongomery [sic] already DISPROPORTIONATELY BENEFITS from government programs in Maryland? I suppose the wealth in Montgomery is just happenstance, and has little to do with well maintained infrastructure, quality public schools, etc.

Disproportionately benefits? Not so, according to Blair Lee:

Montgomery County is the home of 41 percent of Maryland’s families with incomes over $250,000, Montgomery will generate 81 percent of the new state revenues. That’s right, Montgomery County — with 16.5 percent of the state’s population — will pay 81 percent of the state’s $163 million income tax increase. Baltimore city and Prince George’s County taxpayers will actually pay less than they’re currently paying…

In this year’s legislative session, Montgomery asked for $40.5 million for community college projects. We got $1.2 million. We requested $65 million for a new courthouse and got nothing. We got $52 million for school construction but so did Baltimore city with 40 percent fewer students. And once again we didn’t get the $30 million of Thornton school aid we bargained for back in 2002 because, somehow, our money was made discretionary instead of mandatory. So, with 17 percent of the state’s school kids, we get 8.6 percent of the Thornton money. Thanks to Thornton, Baltimore now spends more per pupil than Montgomery yet Baltimore taxpayers pay only 19 percent of the city’s school budget while Montgomery taxpayers pay 80 percent of theirs. All in the name of fairness.

How Kujan can say that MoCo disproportionately benefits while simultaneously footing most of the bill for the rest of the state and getting less in return for their “investments” is beyond me. Then again he has a tin ear for economic facts.

Lost in his ranting about the “rich” Kujan fails to realize that a great deal of working families will get hosed by the income tax increase. Married couples with children that earn $200K or more are considered “rich” even though they are working families. For example, my wife and I, together, earn just enough, to fall into that new tax bracket, and we have one child. After paying a mortgage on a modest row home, day care, two car payments (we both need them to get to work), rising gas prices, school loans, rising BGE rates, groceries and other essentials etc… what is left over at the end of the month doesn’t really qualify us as “rich.” If we were “rich,” we wouldn’t, you know, need to work.

Ironically, we own the same Volvo SUV as Bonnie and Halsey Frost, but not the additional Chevy Suburban and Ford F-250 they also own. So, is my family a “working family” or are the Frost’s “rich.”

About What I Expected

From the Baltimore City Board of Elections

Mary Pat Clarke 3,356
Mark Newgent 196

Yes it was an ass kicking. But one I was fully prepared for. I campaigned on lowering the property tax rate, expanding school choice options, and fostering community-academic partnerships that can address health and social problems better than ineffective city agencies.

At the end of the day in Baltimore, no matter how good your policy prescriptions or how well you articulate them, this is a Democratic town and will be for a long time to come until the systems of patronage and corruption are broken.

Even though I am no big fan of the Baltimore Sun, I have to give credit where credit is due and Sun reporter John Fritze deserves some. He is a straight shooter and was fair and honest with me.

This fight is over, but there is a special session on with massive tax/spending increases and a duplicitous governor and Democratic leadership to fight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More Fake Hate Crimes at GW

We all remember the leftists who posted fraudulent fliers designed to smear the YAF and Islamo-Fascism Awareness week at GW. Well it looks like faking hate crimes is a majored field of study at the school named in honor of General Washington. The student journalist, who originally reported swastikas on a dry erase board outside her room, was caught on tape writing swastikas on said dry erase board. The student, Sarah Marshak mounted the usual "fake but justified" argument Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

Faking hate crimes isn't limited to GW. In March 2004, Claremont McKenna visiting professor Kerri Dunn spoke at a rally against racial intolerance and then vandalized her own car to "prove" her point.

These stunts in and of themselves show the intellectual bankruptcy of the campus left and are silly on their face. However, couple this penchant for fraudulent hate crimes--some intended to frame conservatives-- with totalitarian diversity indoctrination programs ( U. Delaware's program that tell students that all white people are racists) and the Stasi like secret investigations embodied in William and Mary's so-called bias reporting system, you have a recipe for disaster.

Need we be reminded of the faculty idealouges and callow administration at Duke who conspired to sacrifice three innocent student athletes on the altar political correctness.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Belly of the Beast

Thank you Bud and to all my Red Maryland colleagues for their support during the campaign. I would like to think that Bud's prediction is accurate. Apparently some of the "enlightened" progressives of Baltimore don't believe in first amendment rights for those who disagree with them. I spent a good part of Friday and Saturday placing campaign signs around my district. I placed them in public areas (i.e. traffic islands), I placed them in the same areas Democratic candidates placed their signs during the primary campaign this past summer. Most of signs were gone in less than 24 hours. See the pics below.
Let me also say this--because some people have a penchant for attributing thoughts and ideas to people that quite simply do not exist--In no way shape or form do I think this reflects on my esteemed opponent Mary Pat Clarke. She has too much class for anything like this.
For another example of that vaunted liberal tolerance see here.

This is what my signs look like.

Here is what happened to one of them I put on the corner of University and 29th St.
(Photos taken on 11/5/2007, 6:00 pm)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Very Cosmopolitan

As some of you know I'm running for a seat on the Baltimore City Council. My district is full of affluent cosmopolitan progressives, whose arrogance is only eclipsed by their ignorance. You know the self described "reality-based" community. Yesterday I received, in the mail, the following hand written response to a campaign flier I distributed throughout the district. The response was written on the back of the flier with no return address on the envelope. Here is the unedited response in its entirety:

You Republicans just don't get it. You would destroy public schools so that your so called faith based schools could thrive & create a 2 level system of very well educated & very poorly education. That's what's wrong with America today. Very rich and very poor--no middle class thus making us a broken nation.

Taxes? We get what we pay for. Our teachers are underpaid. Amtrack goes begging an out highways are deteriorated. And our health care compared to other nations is a joke. You need to visit other nations-not Mexico- to learn about health care in Europe or ride a train in Japan.
"My theory is that your brain is the size of marble and twice as
smooth." -Dilbert

Witness cosmopolitanism at its worst. Everything in anyplace other than America is good and we are a broken nation because of troglodyte Republicans.

Cosmopolitans of America unite, you have nothing to lose except your nation and your liberties.

Keep Up the Pressure

It looks like the fix might be in, according to O'Malley Watch:

Folks, the time is now to really hit your Senators and Delegates hard with phone and e-mails because Mike Miller and Mike Busch made the party call last night for everyone to ship up or shape out. Those that don’t support the Governor’s scheme will be punished, but they developed a plan to allow certain Senators and Delegates to vote certain ways on the tax bills to avoid the tax increases that will effect their district the most.

Expect a few from Montgomery County to vote against the income tax increase, a few Baltimore Region folks to vote against the sales tax, EVERYONE will vote for the corporate tax increase and cigarette tax increase and all of this will slide through.

Keep emailing, keep calling. The only way to stop the MOB (Miller, O'Malley, Busch) is to apply constant public pressure.

Mike Busch (410) 841-3800, (301) 858-3800, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3800 (toll free)

Mike Miller (410) 841-3700, (301) 858-3700, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3700 (toll free)

Moscow on the Chesapeake

Like the NKVD with a photo of an expendable politburo member the Maryland Democratic party is attempting to airbrush out of history, the the surplus governor Ehrlich left us.

To be true the surplus does not because O'Gov spent it and sat on his hands instead of doing anything for the majority of his first year in office.

What's next from this budding group of Newspeak apparatchiks?
The BGE rate increase did not exist!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Transparent Foolishness of Progressive Maryland

The Baltimore Region Director of Progressive Maryland, Matthew Weinstein admirably appeared on The Ron Smith show yesterday to plug O'Malley's tax proposals. I give him credit for doing so. However, he should have sent a proxy because Ron, Andy Harris, and callers pulled the curtain down on the progressive facade that is O'Malley's tax grab and the progressive argument (to the extent that there is one) in general.

Check out the audio to hear for yourself

We Are All Racists Now

At least according to the University of Delaware's residence hall indoctrination program.

According to FIRE

Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training.”

The diversity training manual defines "Racist" as "one who is both priveleged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e. people of European descent) living in the United States regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality..."

Serioulsy, with the College of William and Mary administration's Stasi imitation , and now this latest instance of rank ideological indoctrination at Delaware, is there anyone out there who doesn't think that our institutions of higher learning have completely morphed from bastions of free inquiry into educational gulags.

Perhaps One of the Best Pranks Ever

A guy sets up his buddy for a fake marriage proposal while he and his girlfriend are at a Yankee game.

Anti-Tax Rally Recap

My apologies for the the late post on this, but I had work and family obligations for Halloween.

The anti-tax rally was truly something to behold. Nearly 300+ people descended on Lawyers Mall to protest Governor O'Malley's tax proposals. There were two separate but related events. The first event held at noon, was not so much a rally, but a press conference by the folks from Mykel Harris did a great job of pulling together a coalition of disparate groups to oppose the tax increases.

One of the speakers, Richard Falknor of the Maryland Tax Payers Association was especially eloquent on the issues. I was also surprised to find out that Falknor was an aide to the legendary Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson. Jackson was an old school, liberal cold warrior. You know, what mainstream Democrats used to be. Falknor was kind enough to speak with me about his time working for Jackson.

The big MDGOP sponsored rally began at 4:00. Jim Pelura chairman of the MDGOP introduced the speakers, most of whom were elected Republican officials, David Brinkley, Tony O'Donnell, Andy Harris, Pat McDonough, Nancy Jacobs, Don Dywer, and Donna Stiffler among others. Delegate Mike Smigiel appropriately recited Article VI of the Maryland Declaration of Rights which bears repeating here:

That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: Wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

One guy at the rally looked like he was ready to act under Article VI. See pitchfork guy.
There were many funny and witty signs, see the pics I posted earlier. One of the best was:
"Maryland is Ruled by the MOB (Miller, O'Malley, Bush)

MDGOP Executive Director, John Flynn was kind enough to invite me to address the rally.
In the midst of my speech John Flynn noticed Mike Miller (aka The Neutered Bull) walking past the state house building. He exhorted to the crowd "There's Mike Miller, tell him what we want!" In what I can only describe as pure dumb luck I found myself with a microphone in my hands and 300 people behind me screaming "NO NEW TAXES" to Mike Miller.

The crowd was boisterous and angry. Prior to the rally I shared a beer with a few folks who came down from Middle River. They all owned businesses and were seriously contemplating moving to Delaware just to stay in business, let alone be competitive.

Not only Republicans were angry, many Democrats and Independents attended as well.

Even the Ron Paul supporters were there. One tried to give me a piece of Paul campaign literature. I declined and politely told her that no one can vote for Ron Paul because it is not expressly prescribed by the constitution.