Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Three Blogs

Thanks to my small but loyal group of readers here at The Main Adversary.

However, its time for TMA to go on hiatus. With the success and growth of Red Maryland, my blogging gig at the Baltimore Examiner, and with my full time job, I just don't have the time to keep up with TMA.

However, most of the content that would have been posted here will go up on my Baltimore History Examiner blog.

Thanks again to all who stopped in and read and commented.

Mark Newgent

Monday, April 14, 2008

Examine This

I will be blogging for the Baltimore Examiner about historical matters as its "History Examiner."
This is part of the Examiner.com's redesign. There are bound to be kinks with the site so bear with us. Feel free to leave comments, pro and con and please subscribe to the RSS feed.

There I will add historical perspective to current events, local Maryland history, and well anything that pops into my head. You can send any ideas you have to me at marknewgent@comcast.net

Thanks

Apocalypse How?

Sore loserism from the alarmists over the death of their cherished Global Warming Solutions Act was predictable. However, you would have thought they would have figured out by now that just because they say that their policy prescriptions won't destroy jobs doesn't make it so.

Paul Foer apparently missed the memo: The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report cut in half its estimates of sea level rise from its 2001 report. The estimate is 17 inches as compared to the 20-30 feet in Al Gore's agitprop. So no, the Sparrows Point steel mill won't be underwater.

Isaac Smith's fellow bureaucrat school mate, James Goodwin in a letter to the Baltimore Sun wrote:

Maryland businesses could have used this head start to examine their operations and find ways of achieving energy efficiency and other means of cost-effective, relatively pain-free emissions reductions.

This learning opportunity would give Maryland businesses a significant competitive advantage over businesses in other states, many of which would not begin reducing their greenhouse gas emissions until a federal policy was enacted.

The defeat of Maryland's carbon emissions bill is just another rendition of the tired old tale of pitting economic progress against environmental protection. Contrary to the rhetoric of industry and labor lobbyists, however, these two objectives need not be mutually exclusive.


And the fact is that as the environment's capacity to withstand further economic development is being pushed to a breaking point, it will be necessary to find ways to pursue economic progress and environmental protection in mutually reinforcing ways.

Despite their claims, the "tired old tale" of jobs and the economy versus environmental concerns is in fact the reality of the situation. Economic activity and growth require energy, which in turn requires the emission of carbon dioxide, especially when it comes to manufacturing of steel.
In order to obfuscate--"mutually reinforcing ways"-- that very salient point, alarmists love to talk about the formation of "green jobs" and a "green collar economy." However, when you get into the specifics, it is merely an empty talking point.

Reaching the the lofty green emission reduction goals embodied in the federal global warming bill (Liberman-Warner) would require draconian mandates to severely restrict economic growth. Read economist Anne Smith's Senate testimony on the bill.

Naturally, with reductions in GDP come reductions in real wages and job losses. We have estimated 1.2 million to 2.3 million net job losses by 2015 over our set of scenarios. By 2020, our scenarios project between 1.5 million and 3.4 million net job losses. There is a substantial implied increase in jobs associated with “green” businesses (e.g., to produce renewable generation technologies), but even accounting for these there is a projected net loss in jobs due to the generalized macroeconomic impacts of the Bill.

You read that right, even accounting for any "green" jobs we would still see millions in net job losses. Furthermore you just can't take a steelworker and turn him into a windmill technician overnight. Also, would the wind and solar barons, who need government subsidies and mandates to make their businesses profitable, accept the added costs of union pay and benefits from transferring workers?

Isaac and his pals can employ sophistry and create all the verbal constructs they want however, they cannot have it both ways. Their policy prescriptions will strangle the economy and destroy jobs, there is just no getting around that "tired" fact, and they know it.

Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, its not that alarmists are ignorant, they just know so much that isn't so.

Also, isn't it ironic that folks like Isaac accuse people like me of being in the bag for Exxon-Mobil when in fact, should his draconian policy dreams come true there will be a plethora of job openings for a self-described "budding energy policy wonk" in the resulting bureaucracy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

General Zod says...

"I win, I always win."

Yours truly won the Politicker caption contest.

http://www.politickermd.com/robtornoe/1748/caption-contest-winner

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

2008 Legislative Session Review

Thankfully the 2008 legislative session is over and the legislature cannot do any more damage. However, here is a review of the session and the damage it did do to us, along with my selection for winners and losers.

Before I get to that Oliver Cromwell’s scathing rebuke to the rump Parliament in 1653 sums up my feelings about Sine Die and the session itself.

“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Winners

Martin O’Malley: For the most part, this session was a success for Governor O’Malley. A success only in the sense that he got most of what he wanted from the legislature, save for two big items, more on that later. Despite his pronouncement that “This has been a session of very real and steady progress for the people of Maryland,” he and the Democratic majority screwed us once again. I’m betting his poll numbers will reflect that for a while even as C. Fraser Smith and the Sun begin his rehabilitation. Make no mistake all claims of victory and progress for “One Maryland” are part of this PR campaign.

Losers
Taxpayers, electricity rate payers, small business, freedom of speech, 4th amendment rights, rule of law, electoral integrity.

Wash
The Republican minority: The GOP won on whacking the global warming solutions act and speed cameras. They also scored victories in the Senate for getting Democrats on record voting against proof of legal residence to obtain driver’s licenses and voting to directly increase electricity bills. In the House, they got 90 Democrats as on record voting to allow utilities to remotely control thermostats and to bill customers for mailing them compact fluorescent light bulbs.

However, this is just nipping at the edges. The only way to make deeper inroads is to elect more Republicans, at least enough to maintain a filibuster. It also doesn’t help when the weak sisters sell out to the administration in return for their pet projects.

The Budget

The General Assembly approved a $31.2 billion budget. Despite O’Malley and the Democrats touting how much they cut, there were no real cuts only reductions in the growth of spending, which in their minds is equal to a cut. Money not spent—rather our money not spent by them—is a cut for example money, $1 million, to build o a “multicultural center for the Central American Solidarity Association (CASA). House and Senate Republicans tried to strip this out of the budget through amendments, but failed. However, you can see the House and Senate Democrats who voted to give taxpayer money to an organization, who openly aid and abet those who break federal law.


Global Warming

The Global Warming Solutions Act was the crown jewel of the environmental lobby’s wish list this year. O’Malley publicly backed the bill. He even gave a sole source bid to an alarmist advocacy group to gin up a canned policy analysis advocating the same thing. I had a feeling the bill was in trouble when Brad Heavener and his band of watermelons—in one of the dopiest stunts ever—chalked off parts of Main St. near the state house to “show” how high the Severn River would rise over the Annapolis City Dock if the bill wasn’t passed. The bill died 20-2 in the House Economic Matters committee. The steelworkers deserve a great deal of credit for showing just how the bill would have destroyed jobs. In what can only be an angry fit of projection, League of Conservation Voters Director Cindy Schwartz, “attributed the defeat of the bill in part to fear-mongering. She said the threat of losing jobs due to the bill - even though that’s only conjecture - is a tried-and-true way to kill a bill.” You have to appreciate the cheekiness of an alarmist accusing an opponent of fear mongering, and conjecture, given the chalk stunt and the complete unraveling of the so-called scientific consensus.

Energy

Of course O’Malley will crow about the $170 credit he wrangled from BGE. He must also find a way to fit the square peg of his campaign rhetoric into the round hole of reality. The only hole I see O’Malley fitting this into is the Orwellian memory hole. Also, will there be any official apologies from O’Malley and Mike Miller to Ken Schisler for impugning his character and dragging his name through the mud? That’s a rhetorical question. Miller wouldn’t know an apology if it rammed into his taxpayer funded limo, and Martin O’Malley is a progressive—at least on TV anyway—and that means never having to say you’re sorry.

While he touts the all the money he saved us, he simultaneously pushed legislation that will increase our electricity costs by orders of magnitude. The EmPower bill creates all the California-style demand side management programs, which have led to a 36% increase in Californians’ residential electric bills. It also creates a loophole to allow utilities to control residential thermostats. BGE is already doing it on a small scale. So on one hot sticky day this summer when BGE turns down your thermostat, through decoupling, they can still charge you as if you were running your air conditioning full blast.

Computer Services Tax Repeal

It’s a amazing the speed with which politicians who initially oppose something get behind it, especially when the Maryland Computer Services Association hires the governor's former communications guru as its chief spokesman.

The tech tax is gone, but the mental giants in the governor’s office decided to replace it with a “millionaire’s tax.” However, this is a misleading term, because the tax will affect successful small businesses that are incorporated as S Corps or LLCs. This means that they will have to cut back on staff or benefits for staff. It is also a disincentive for them to earn over a million dollars. A “millionaire’s tax” plays well on the progressive street where intentions and empty platitudes matter. However in the real world where things like economic reality matter it is not so good. Our governor and his hometown legislators’ fundamental ignorance about taxation and the true nature of liberty bear this out.

Furthermore, O’Malley raided the transportation trust fund to replace money not yet spent from the tech tax. O’Malley Watch chalks that up as another honking broken campaign promise. Much like the Constellation/BGE episode O’Malley’s actual record falls flat when compared with his campaign rhetoric.

DNA Bill

I am shocked the Black caucus let this one through. Joe Vallarrio really pushed this through the House Judiciary Committee. When the tort lobby sets its mind to pass a bill or kill it they pretty much have their way. Back in March I heard overheard two lobbyists commiserating about how Vallarrio was toeing the administration line and twisting arms on the DNA bill. Its amazing what you can hear sipping coffee at that Starbucks just off state house.

Transparency

This bill was another small victory for the taxpayers. We will now be able to track state expenditures over $25,000. Furthermore, we can also matchup expenditures, especially from the Board of Public Works, to campaign contributions in the SBE database. I'm sure State Stat will do that as well...

Illegal Immigration

As I mentioned earlier the Republicans scored a small victory by getting Democrat senators on record voting in favor of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. However, it won’t do much now to end the state’s sanctuary policies. Ensuring that only citizens can get driver’s licenses is an important step. Driver’s licenses are the main form of identification for registering to vote. If illegal immigrants, who have no right to vote can obtain driver’s licenses then how do we know they are not voting in our elections? That’s right we don’t. The left loves to whine and wail about Diebold and electronic voting machine fraud. They clamor for a paper trail, and I agree with them. However, what good is a paper trail if you can’t ensure that the people casting the ballot are eligible voters?

Most initiatives on either side of the illegal immigration debate stalled. But again, the only way to help solve the problem, until the federal government gets its act together, is to elect more Republicans who will end sanctuary policies and take away the power of CASA’s stooges Joe “Hero of Illegal Immigrants Vallarrio” and Victor “Anyone Who Disagrees with Me on Illegal Immigration is a Racist” Ramirez.


Freedom of Speech

Sine Die comes at midnight but when the General Assembly bowed to the cultural commissars of political correctness by passing the Institutions of Higher Education - Plans for Programs of Cultural Diversity Act,” it was Darkness at Noon. Its bad enough that our institutions of higher learning are producing graduates ignorant of basic historical, economic and civic knowledge—O’Malley likes his voting base that way—its even worse when the legislature starts to enforce measures that stifle free speech. Governor Ehrlich was spot on when he decried multiculturalism as “bunk,” it does nothing but t turn our state colleges and universities into places where everyone looks different but thinks exactly alike. Even worse, they become places where thinking or speaking differently from administration-approved parameters of approved thought gets you tossed out of school or worse.

Gay Marriage

Gay marriage itself didn’t go anywhere, but rights for homosexual partners did pass. The libertarian in me is glad to see that homosexual partners now have the right to make medical and burial decisions for their loved ones and receive breaks on recordation and property transfer taxes.

However, the conservative in me is cautious about any other moves toward gay marriage. Not that I am fully opposed to it, but my conservative temperament, which respects tradition and the wisdom of the ancients, tells me we need to tread very carefully in this area as unintended consequences abound. You don’t just alter an ancient institution, which has served as major socializing and civilizing role our society. Witness at the tragedy wrought from the Great Society’s destruction of the traditional African-American family. Tradition matters and Jonah Goldberg’s lesson on the berries and tiger is instructive here.
The first small-c conservative probably said something like, “I know these berries won’t kill me. About those berries, I am not so sure.” A liberal might read that sentence and exclaim, “Aha! Conservatism is based on fear. Liberalism is based on hope!” And, to a certain extent, the liberal would be right. But the conservative’s fear is also a form of caution based upon experience (I know this berry is good. I have no information about that berry). The liberal’s hope, meanwhile, is often based on ignorance and foolish optimism. “Maybe that tiger likes to be tickled. I will find out. It shall be great fun.”

What is needed in the legislature, and the public square is a civil, frank, and open discussion about gay marriage, its benefits and any potential pitfalls it poses for society.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

How About That


The Washington Capitals are the Patrick uhhh I mean Southeast Division Champions. After spending nearly the whole season at the bottom of the division they go on a late season tear the win the division and earn the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Great job guys.
That makes three teams from DC to make the playoffs this year
The Wizards (Les Boulez) clinched a playoff berth last night, and my beloved Redskins won 4 straight to clinch an NFC Wildcard. How about the Nats?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Is it Genocide?

Interesting developments out of Russia.

The lower house of the Russian parliament voted—in a landslide—that the Ukrainian Terror Famine was not genocide.

"There is no historical proof that the famine was organized along ethnic lines. Its victims were million of citizens of the Soviet Union, representing different peoples and nationalities living largely in agricultural areas of the country," the Russian State Duma resolution said…
Some are convinced the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group. Others argue authorities set out to eradicate private landowners as a social class and say the Soviet Union sought to pay for its rapid industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions of its own people.

For the historically ignorant, the terror famine was a manmade famine engineered by Stalin to wipe out the Ukrainian kulaks, an economic class of wealthy landowners, through forced collectivization in order to sell Ukrainian grain on the world market to fund the Soviet Union’s industrialization and modernization.

Some may even know about New York Times reporter Walter Duranty’s false reporting on the terror famine, reporting that stated there was no famine. Duranty and the Times won a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Ukraine. The Pulitzer board has not revoked, nor has the Times returned the prize. This wouldn’t be the first time a New York Times reporter would shill for a murderous dictator. Herbert Matthews did much the same for Fidel Castro as Duranty did for Stalin.

The interesting thing about this issue is the implied notion that wiping out a class of people for their ethnicity is evil and is (rightly) considered genocide however; to commit the same crime against an economic class of people—in the name of holy name of progress—doesn’t quite rise to the same level.

In Russia and Eastern Europe, the argument is a political scrum between Russia and its former Soviet republic the Ukraine and its close ties to the west and its desire to join NATO. Indeed no less a figure than Alexander Solzhenitsyn is supporting the resolution, which may strike some as odd, but Solzhenitsyn has never hidden his own Russian nationalism.

In the West however, and the United States in particular leftists intellectuals and historians have a long sordid history of glorifying, denying/apologizing for communist dictators, who murdered landowners and other so-called “reactionaries” because they stood in the way of progress. In fact, this phenomenon has seeped its way into the popular culture with the cult of Ché Guevara. Putting aside the Motorcycle Diaries, smug campus know-it-alls, and the cosmopolitan Hollywood set believe it is chic to parade around in gear idolizing Castro’s chief executioner of Cubans who had the temerity to own land or a business.

If it is cool to ignorantly wear Ché, then I don’t hold out much hope, in our shallow politically correct “multicultural” society, for a true recognition of Stalin’s genocide against the kulaks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We will Control the Heat, We Will Control the AC

House members who voted to allow utility companies to control your thermostat, amendment 463024/01 to HB 374.

They are all Democrats, but then again you probably knew that already.

Speaker Busch
Saqib Ali
Curt “Wiki” Anderson
Charles Barkley
Ben Barnes
Kumar Barve
Pam Beidle
Joanne Benson
Elizabeth Bobo
John Bohanon
Talmadge Branch
Aisha Braveboy
William Bronrott
Rudolph Cane
Jon Cardin
Alfred Carr
Galen Claggett
Virginia Clagett
Frank Conaway
Derek Davis
John Donoghue
Anne Marie Doory
Kathleen Dumais
Brian Feldman
William Frick
Barbra Frush
Tawanna Gaines
James Gilchrest
Cheryl Glenn
Melony Griffith
Ana “I 'll sell my slots vote for two tiered driver's licenses” Sol Gutierrez
Guy Guzzone
Peter Hammen
Hattie Harrison
Anne Healey
Sue Hecht
Henry Heller
Sheila Hixon
Marvin Holmes
Carolyn Howard
James Hubbard
Tom “fundamental ignorance of liberty” Hucker
Jolene Ivey
Mary Dulany-James
Sally Jameson
Adrienne Jones
Anne Kaiser
Ruth Kirk
Benjamin Kramer
Carolyn Krysiak
Sue Kullen
Stephen Lafferty
Susan Lee
Gerron Levi
Mary Ann Love
Roger Manno
James Mathias
Brian McHale
Maggie McIntosh
Heather Mizeur
Karen Montgomery
Dan Morhaim
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam
Doyle Niemann
Joeseline “Gift Card Tax” Pena-Melnyk
Shane Pendergrass
James Proctor
Victor “Anyone Who Disagrees with Me on Illegal Immigration is a Racist” Ramirez
Kirill Reznik
Craig Rice
Dan Riley
Barbra Robinson
Samuel “Fantasy Camp” Rosenberg
Justin Ross
David Rudolph
Todd Schuler
Luiz Simmons
Dana Stein
Melvin Stukes
Shawn Tarrant
Herman Taylor
Frank Turner
Veronica Turner
Kriselda Valderamma
Joseph “Hero of Illegal Immigrants and Pedophiles” Vallario
Michael Vaughn
Jefferey Waldstreicher
Jay Walker

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

RGGI: Its Alive!

UPDATE: As I was writing this, a source informed me, and WBAL is reporting that the Senate will now reconsider SB 268. The new breakdown of RGGI proceed allocations are:

17% instead of 7% to electric universal service program fund23% instead of 35% to rate relief/offset surcharges imposed by utility companies

46% instead of 50% energy efficiency/conservation10.5% instead of 11% for climate change/outreach

3.5% instead of 4% for MEA, also capped at $5 million

Keep an eye on the 11 Democrats who voted against SB 268 yesterday: Jim Brochin; Joan Carter Conway; James "Ed" DeGrange; George Della; Lisa Gladden; David Harrington; Verna Jones; Nathaniel McFadden; C. Anthony Muse; Norman Stone and Bobby Zirkin. I would love to know what the administration promised to any senators that flip.


Yesterday the Senate voted down, 25-21, O’Malley’s RGGI-Maryland Strategic Energy Investment bill (SB 268).

Maryland is already a party to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a compact of 10 eastern states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland) committing to a 10% reduction in total power plant Co2 emissions from an average of 2004, 2005 and 2006 baseline years by 2020. RGGI calls for reductions through a--government-mandated--market based cap and trade scheme involving the auctioning and trading of carbon allowances. You know the same Kyoto style regime that has created energy rationing, raised energy costs, generated huge windfall profits for utilities, and INCREASED Co2 emissions in Europe, but I digress.

The defeat of SB 268 does not remove Maryland from the RGGI pact, merely it puts the status of auction and trade proceeds into limbo.

The first RGGI trade took place last week at $7 per ton. Based on Maryland Energy Administration calculations, the fiscal note for SB 268 estimated $7 as the high end of the allowance sales and projected $262.5 million in annual revenue. If the $7 price holds, guess who will be on the hook for the $262.5 million? That’s right, ratepayers. Maryland power companies purchasing these allowances will pass the cost on to ratepayers. Think about that for a moment. $187 million in BGE stranded costs was going to cost ratepayers $170. How much will $262.5 million cost us?

As O’MalleyWatch noted Senator EJ Pipkin tried to cap the sales at $3 but his amendment was rejected 27-19.

Essentially the argument has come down to whether the proceeds would be better used by providing direct rebates to ratepayers or giving it to the Maryland Energy Administration to foster conservation and efficiency programs.

Unsurprisingly, environmentalists and MaryPIRG folks believe that giving money to the bureaucracy is the best way to go.

Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland said that funding the MEA for conservation programs is the way to go to reduce pollution “If we don't spend this money in the right way, that effort will have failed.” I guess Heavner doesn’t realize that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” that flora uses to live, creating a byproduct called oxygen, which we selfish humans use to breathe.

Johanna Neumann, back in January, said, “I could see the political advantage of rebating the money," she said, "but by actually investing ... in energy efficiencies, consumers will see greater benefits and greater savings, because we will able to avoid blackouts, future rate shocks and avoid costly new transmission lines.”

Efficiency and conservation plans sound great but they are a siren’s song. California, the environmentalists’ gold standard when it comes to state-level conservation and efficiency policies, ranked in the top 10 for states that increased their Co2 emissions in 2007. The increased emissions stemmed from increased demand. Even with all its vaunted demand side management and efficiency programs demand spiked and emissions increased. Efficiency programs can only go so far, and there is a real limit on the amount of reduction of Co2 emissions from power plants that you can impose without creating real trouble.

On a side note, if darling California can't control Co2 emissions from its power plants because of demand spikes, with all its non-greenhouse gas power available, how is Maryland supposed to do this?In fact, Maryland ranks fairly low in both CO2 emissions and intensity (tons per megawatt hour). Maryland ranks 33 and 28 respectively.Maryland, already has low CO2 power plant emissions, and is already committed to reduce them through the RGGI. The Global Warming Solutions Act is idiotic piling on that will only serve to further increase energy costs, destroy jobs and tank the economy.

This is why SB 268 is such a contentious issue because it highlights the stark reality that empty, feel-good environmental policies have very substantial and dangerous effects on energy costs, not only for ratepayers, but also for economic activity in general, which also hits ratepayers other areas like food and transportation costs.

That is the real issue at hand, but not one that O’Malley and his environmental allies want you to see. In fact every time the real costs and hard choices come to the fore environmentalists decry it as a false dichotomy as Maryland director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Kim Coble did, “Once again, the unfortunate story here is that the opposition has boiled this down to the environment against jobs.”

As I’ve said ad nauseum, O’Malley and the environmentalists are trying to have it both ways. They are trying to fool us into thinking that they can impose dangerous environmental policies without raising energy costs. The stark reality is that they can't. The real choice they face is between protecting jobs and voting for a feel good law that will have no detectable effect on global temperatures. There is just no way around that.

Thankfully, some Democrats in the Senate, like Nathaniel McFadden and Joan Carter Conway realize the dangerous ramification SB 268 will have on ratepayers. Given the Senate's reconsideration, we shall see how much they really do care.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Paying More for Less

If there was ever a starker example of just how dangerous demand side management (DSM) programs are, I have yet to see it.

From BGE (see page 7)

Technology deployment to achieve customer benefits with the reduction of electric demand during periods of tight supply
• Technology:
1. Programmable Communicating Thermostat
2. Advanced Air Conditioning Control Switch
Either technology will allow BGE to regulate the operation of customer’s central air conditioning during periods of very high electricity use

• Target Market : Residential
• Phased Deployment Schedule:
Phase I – Pilot program during summer 2007 (PSC approved pilot 2/21)
Phase II – Full deployment from late 2007 to mid 2011



The only thing Governor O’Malley’s energy conservation initiative “EmPowers,” is BGE to charge customers more, to use less energy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stupid Environmentalist Tricks

Since they are losing the on the scientific, public opinion, and political fronts, the alarmist are now moving to the theater of the absurd dragging their advocate journalist along with them.


Climate change activists have drawn a thin blue line across Main Street in Annapolis. The point of their chalky protest this morning: to show how high waters might rise if global warming melted the Greenland ice sheet, driving up sea levels by 20 feet. Dozens of shops and restaurants would be flooded in the state capital...

“We were demonstrating to passersby how high the water would come if we don’t get our act together on global warming," said Brad Heavner, director of Environment Maryland. "The House has the opportunity to make Maryland a leader, or they could drop the ball like the Senate did."


I'm sure Mr. Heavner and his merry band of chalk artists drew their line in accordance with the IPCC's revised estimates of predicted sea level rise. The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report cut in half its estimates of sea level rise from its 2001 report. The estimate is 17 inches as compared to the 20-30 feet in Al Gore's agitprop.

Perhaps for folks like Brad Heavener, Tom Pelton, and Paul "Snorkel" Pinksy this is too inconvenient a truth.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Green Robber Barons
















Perhaps the term rent-seeker is not a strong enough descriptor for the corporations lining up to feed at the trough of profits from proposed government global warming mandates.

Steve Milloy of Junk Science provides us with a better label: Climate Change Profiteers. Most people have to ask what the term rent seeking means while there is no mistaking what the profiteer means.

Does this sound too harsh? Alarmists connect skeptics--they call us deniers, you know like Holocaust deniers--at every turn to Exxon-Mobil, so it is only fair, to respond, “I know you are but what am I!” given the big corporations pushing for draconian climate change legislation that will fill expand their profit margins. Milloy explains:
I met many of them up-close-and-personal last week at a major Wall Street Journal conference at which I was an invited speaker. My fellow speakers included many CEOs (from General Electric, Wal-Mart, Duke Energy and Dow Chemical, to name just a few), California’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the heads of several environmental activist groups.

The audience — a sold-out crowd of hundreds who had to apply to be admitted and pay a $3,500 fee — consisted of representatives of the myriad businesses that seek to make a financial killing from climate alarmism.

There were representatives of the solar, wind and biofuel industries that profit from taxpayer mandates and subsidies, representatives from financial services companies that want to trade permits to emit CO2, and public relations and strategic consultants to all of the above.

We libertarians would call such an event a rent-seekers ball — the vast majority of the audience was there to plot how they could lock in profits from government mandates on taxpayers and consumers. It was an amazing collection of pseudo-entrepreneurs who were absolutely impervious to the scientific and economic facts that ought to deflate the global warming bubble…

The only conclusion I could come to was that the audience is so steeped in anticipation of climate profiteering that there is no fact that will cause them to reconsider whether or not manmade global warming is a reality. The callousness of their blind greed was also on display at the conference…

Finally, I was astounded by the double-speak practiced by the global warmers. Virtually every speaker at the conference professed that they were either in favor of free markets or that they supported a free-market solution to global warming. But invariably in their next breath, they would plead for government regulation of greenhouse gases and government subsidies for alternative energy…

Timothy Carney tells us of hedge fund mogul Julian Robertson betting big on climate change legislation and a tanking American economy. “I’ve made a big bet on it,” Robertson told Fortune. “I really think I’m going to make 20 or 30 times on my money.”

GE is deeply invested in alternative energy sources that have little demand absent government mandates or restrictions on effective sources of energy such as coal and oil. The firm has already bought up “greenhouse gas credits” — worthless goods until Congress actually caps the gases. DuPont, Goldman and dozens like them have also positioned themselves to get rich from government action on this front.

When the media notice a large corporation standing to suffer from an intrusion of government or benefit from a deregulation or tax cut, we are immediately warned about conflicts of interest. Amazingly, when the media notice the Green Beltway Bandits lined up behind carbon caps, they see this as further proof that the time has come for government action…

What’s Robertson’s angle? Environmental publication Greenwire described Robertson as a “former hedge fund tycoon and now a philanthropist.” Robertson indeed closed down his most famous fund, Tiger Management, earlier this decade, but is still a big investor. Getting richer — not merely philanthropy — motivates these investments.

Remember, big business loves big government, the more you regulate the more you invite the big boys to write rules to enrich themselves. Alarmists will always accuse skeptics of stoogerism for Exxon-Mobil however, the mustache-twirling Robber Barons are lined up on their side. Only now they are called "philanthropists."

A case in point is the patron saint of alarmism himself Al Gore. Gore is now worth over $100 million, and is heavily invested ($35million) in Capricorn Investment Group LLC “a firm that selects the private funds for clients and invests in makers of environmentally friendly products.” Gore also has a large position in a Silicon Valley firm that stands to make millions selling carbon offsets should emission caps be adopted.

Meanwhile, as Gore jets around the globe lobbying governments to enact policies that will engorge his bank account; should anyone have the temerity to disagree with him, Gore accuses them of being “locked in a coalition with rich and powerful people who take advantage of the poor for economic profit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Civil Penalties for Employers Who Fail to Pay Illegal Immigrants the Minimum Wage

Delegate Victor Ramirez introduced two bills this session designed to penalize employers of illegal immigrants who do not pay them the minimum wage.

The bill to impose criminal penalties died the House Economic Matters Committee.

A source tells me that the bill which would impose civil penalties squeaked through.

HB 1392 would allow the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations to impose fines not exceeding $2,500 for the first violation, between $500 and $5,000 for the second, and for a third between $2,500 and $5,000.

Tellingly the bill also allows claimants to "recover reasonable counsel fees and damages" see page 6 lines 16-17. Delegate Ramirez is a trial lawyer...

The bill's fiscal note states that this bill could generate $1.1 million in annual revenue.

Who knows this could end up being a disincentive for hiring illegal immigrants, but I can't help but notice that this bill is a loud ring of the dinner bell for trial lawyers. Should it pass you can bet the ranch that they will pursue illegal immigrants who want to sue their employers thereby adding millions of dollars annually to enhance state enforcement, which in turn leads to... more cases and billable hours for the trial lawyers.

I'm sure Delegate Ramirez will find a way to call this criticism "preaching hate."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

California Dreaming

Maryland's environmentalists consider California their model exemplar of environmental policy. However, the Golden State is losing its sheen.

California ranked among the top 10 states for one-year increases in carbon-dioxide pollution from power plants in 2007, an environmental group said Monday.

"I was surprised to see California on the list given the state is a leading advocate of cutting carbon dioxide," said Eric Schaeffer, director of the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C. The growth in emissions from California power plants -- from 37.8 million tons in 2006 to 42.5 million tons in 2007 -- probably reflects growth in electricity demand in the state, Schaeffer said.

Notice that the increased emissions came from increased demand for electricity. The key here is that California's demand side management programs don't work. They can only go so far, and there is a real limit on the amount of GHG emissions reductions from power plants that you can impose without real trouble. California's nuclear plants run full bore continuously, hydroelectric is only available in the spring, and renewables are non-dispatchable. What is left to satisfy demand when it goes up? Gas and coal fired power.

If darling California can't control GHG emissions from its power plants because of demand spikes, with all that non-greenhouse gas power available, how is Maryland supposed to do this?

In fact going by the same EIP analysis Maryland ranks fairly low in both CO2 emissions and intensity (tons per megawatt hour). Maryland ranks 33 and 28 respectively.

Now keep in mind that Maryland already is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI commits Maryland to a 10% reduction in total power plant CO2 emissions from an average of 2004, 2005 and 2006 baseline years by 2020. This itself is no easy task and comes with a high price tag.

Maryland, already has low CO2 power plant emissions, and is already committed to reduce them through the RGGI. The Global Warming Solutions Act is idiotic piling on that will only serve to further increase energy costs, destroy jobs and tank the economy.

Really Stupid FSP Tricks

Not that Martin Watcher needs any help from me, but Isaac Smith's ninnyish attempt to allude that MW is a racist needs to be addressed.

It is an article of the progressive faith that conservatives are by their very nature racist. However, anyone at least remotely hinged to reality knows that this isn' t case. For Isaac and his progressive comrades, the word racism, like fascism, has no meaning other than as a label for people with whom they disagree with on policy. Sadly, Isaac has a history of doing this.

Isaac's smoking gun of racism is a Youtube mash up of Obama and Jeremiah Wright mixed in with Malcolm X and Public Enemy's Fight the Power. Salem Radio official and former producer for the Laura Ingraham Show, Lee Habeeb created the video. Any reasonable person watching the video will not see any racism in it. In fact, it is a novel example of a point many have made that Obama's speech did not sell. But in the progressive mindset, to point that out is... racist.

Isaac also points to a McCain campaign staffer, Soren Dayton, who has been suspended for disseminating the video on his blog, as another example of racism. However, Drayton was fired not for promoting a racist video (which it clearly is not) but, for running afoul of McCain who said that Obama should not be held liable for Wright's views. This is an obvious tactic given that he can't call out Obama for Wright after not disavowing anti-Catholic bigot John Hagee's endorsement (he should have). Then again, Hagee wasn't McCain's spiritual mentor.

Getting back to my main point, this is the same old trick. Progressives label their opponents as racist to paint them outside the realm of legitimate discourse, thereby absolving themselves of having to make an argument.

I guess they don't teach argumentation in bureaucrat school.

Isaac's chickenshit post is more proof that Trilling's assessment now applies to progressives. They do not, "express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."

Global Warming Bill Amended With Albatross

Some good news out of the Senate today.

The Senate approved an amendment to the Global Warming Solutions Act (SB 309) that would require the Maryland Department of Energy (MDE) to submit to the legislature for approval, any regulations it would use to implement the law.

It is not an outright rejection of this abominable bill, but it does gut it significantly.

The amendment was sponsored by Prince George's County Democrat Nathaniel Exum, who was part of a group of Democrats and Republicans who were concerned about the impact the requirements would have on heavy industries in Maryland.

A group of about 60 workers and managers from the Mittal Steel, in Sparrows Point, in Baltimore County watched today's debate from the Senate gallery. They were trying to convince senators the bill would unfairly target emissions from the former Bethlehem Steel facility, and force that facility to close.

"If this goes through, I loose my job. If i loose my job I loose my home. It's as simple as that," steelworker Roger Ramsey told WBAL News.

Predictably Senator Paul Pinksy, the bill's chief proponent called the amendment "a nuisance."


Senator Nancy Jacobs offered an amendment, which would have exempted Mittal Steel in Sparrows Point, and its 2,300 workers was rejected 26-21. Senator Norman Stone, whose district the plant is located requested that his name be removed as a sponsor.

My sources tell me that the house version of the bill (HB 712) is dead in the Economic Matters committee. However, it is also joint filed in the Environmental Matters committee.

For the record, the self-described progressive champions of the working man are the head cheerleaders for passage of this bill, which could cost Roger Ramsey his home and his job.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Global Warming Vote Delayed











WBAL is reporting that a vote on the Global Warming Solutions Act has been delayed until Thursday.

The potential for job losses, or higher power bills as consumers pay to upgrade power plants, stopped the bill's progress Wednesday.

"It would not be in the best interest of anybody in Maryland," said Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, who said jobs would be lost because factories would not be able to reduce carbon emissions and comply.

Supporters insist the bill has already been changed to protect industry. For example, the bill originally included a carbon cut of 90 percent by 2050 - a cut that would have been the nation's deepest - but that requirement was changed to a goal.

Sponsors went on to argue that job losses or no, the carbon reduction is of paramount importance to Maryland...

After about an hour-long logjam, senators decided to put off debate until Thursday, against Pinsky's wishes. Even several Democrats said they want to make sure the bill won't cost jobs unnecessarily or lead to power blackouts.

One of the bill's sponsors, Democratic Sen. Norman Stone of Baltimore County, even announced he planned to take his name off the bill. Stone's district includes the Sparrows Point steel mill near Baltimore, where workers say the global warming bill could shut the plant down. Several dozen steelworkers watching the Senate debate cheered the decision to delay debate.


Typical of the way environmentalists try to minimize the real consequences at stake, Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said, "Once again, the unfortunate story here is that the opposition has boiled this down to the environment against jobs." How dare they distill the issue down to the real choices before the General Assembly.


As I 've said before the proponents of this bill and the O'Malley administration are trying to have it both ways, and the stark reality of the matter is that they can't. The real choice they face is between protecting jobs and voting for a feel good law that will have no detectable effect on global temperatures. There is just no way around that.

My sources tell me that prospects for a Republican filibuster are not good.

The award for alarmist clown goes to Paul Pinksy who said, "If we don't get this under control by 2050, we all ought to get snorkels."

Snorkels can be sent to
Senator Paul G. Pinsky
11 Bladen Street
220 James Senate Office Building
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1990

Senate to Vote on Global Warming Solutions Act today






















Today we will know which state senators voted to raise your energy bills, destroy jobs, and impose further damage on Maryland's economy. The full senate will vote on SB 309, the deceptively titled Global Warming Solutions Act.

Contrary to the title, this bill won't provide any solutions to global warming. Carbon dioxide emission reduction schemes do not lower global temperatures, or for that matter, result in reduced emissions, just ask the Europeans.

Make no mistake about it, a vote for this bill is a vote to increase residential and commercial energy costs and destroy jobs. The greens, going by their own pre-determined studies, make the predictable, but mythical argument that this legislation will create green collar jobs and be a net benefit to the state. It won't.

Looking at analysis of the federal cap and trade bill (Liberman-Warner) gives us a picture of what will happen should Maryland pass the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Analysis of Liberman-Warner by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation found that


The U.S. would lose between 1.2 million and 1.8 million jobs by 2020, and as many as 4 million by 2030;

Additional costs per household of $739 to $2,927 per year by 2020,increasing to $4,022-$6,752 per year by 2030;

Gasoline price increase of up to 144 percent, electricity price increase of up to 129percent, and natural gas price increase of up to 146 percent by 2030;

GDP reduced by $151 billion to $210 billion per year by 2020, and by $631 billion to $669 billion per year by 2030; and

Reductions in the production of coal and electricity of 35 and 12 percent, respectively.

And this is AFTER you take into account any new "green collar" jobs from the artificial government-mandated market.

A Congressional Budget Office report noted that a 15% reduction in carbon emissions would cost the poorest 20% of the population $680(calculated in 2006 dollars). That is just a 15% reduction, Liberman-Warner proposes a 30% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 and 70% by 2050.

Maryland's Global Warming Solutions Act mandates a 25% reduction by 2020. This bill and its phantom benefits are nothing more than collectivist Utopian dreams masked in shoddy economics.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Its the Message Not the Medium

Usha Nellore's oped touches on something I've harped on in the past.
This analysis is ludicrous. YouTube and MySpace are not exactly akin to rocket science or arcane physics. Any fool can master and manipulate these two media, given the time and the motivation. And Republicans can find enthusiastic fools for hire to use them just as easily as the Democrats.

Progressives may have the edge when it comes to Web 2.0, but they have a great deal of intellectual heavy lifting to do. As Matt Bai noted in his book The Argument, “There’s not much reason to think that the Democratic Party has suddenly overcome its confusion about the passing of the industrial economy and the cold war, events that left the party, over the last few decades, groping for some new philosophical framework.”

Most progressives are so thoroughly uninterested in their own intellectual traditions and roots, partly due to the very ugly skeletons they will find in that closet, but more so because they are only interested in attaining political power. Scratch underneath the zealous rhetoric and there really is no there there.

Wrapping failed and outdated Great Society themes in contemporary progressive language, delivered via high tech media isn't transformational, its vapid.

More Stalling on the ICC

Apparently, the great battle of Intercounty Connector is not over, rather it has moved into its next phase.

Intercounty connector opponents are asking Maryland lawmakers to yank funding for the 18.8-mile highway or to at least halt its construction until its impact on global warming and the health of nearby residents can be studied…

Such legislation is probably their last option, legal observers say, because appeals could take several years. The first seven-mile section between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue, scheduled to open in 2010, could be nearly finished before the court case is resolved.

Even lawmakers backing the legislation say the measure is a long shot. "It's definitely an uphill battle," said Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), sponsor of a bill seeking to halt construction while health effects of the road are studied. Still, Mizeur said, she will argue that the potential impact on nearby schoolchildren and the state's financial crunch require another look at the $2.4 billion project…

Connector opponents are pushing three bills. One would revoke the highway's financing plan that the General Assembly approved in 2005. Another would stop construction to study the impact that traffic emissions would have on the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The third would stop construction until the state did a more rigorous study of how emissions would affect the health of people nearby, including senior citizens living in the Leisure World retirement community and students at Drew Elementary School.

I’m not surprised by the rearguard actions to stop the ICC. However, why are delegates Nic Kipke, Steve Schuh, and Tony McConkey sponsors for the bill that would submit the ICC to a global warming test?

If they are so concerned about the ICC further exacerbating global warming, then they should sign their names as sponsors to HB 712, The Global Warming Solutions Act.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Connection

Looks like initial media reports about no links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda are all wrong.

Andy McCarthy over at the The Corner points us to three important pieces by Stephen Hayes, Eli Lake and Capt. Ed Morrissey who analyzed that actual report, which comes to the exact opposite conclusion that ABC and the New York Times reported. Although, the report found no "smoking gun" direct link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, the opening paragraph of the executive summary of the report says:

The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) review of captured Iraqi documents uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism. Despite their incompatible long-term goals, many terrorist movements and Saddam found a common enemy in the United States. At times these organizations worked together, trading access for capability. In the period after the 1991 Gulf War, the regime of Saddam Hussein supported a complex and increasingly disparate mix of pan-Arab revolutionary causes and emerging pan-Islamic radical movements. The relationship between Iraq and forces of pan-Arab socialism was well known and was in fact one of the defining qualities of the Ba'ath movement.

Lest you think I am cherry picking from the summary, deep in the substance of the report it says this:
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist-operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam's security organizations and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a "de facto" link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.


As Ed Morrissey noted in talking about Egyptian Islamic Jihad and its ties to both Al Qaeda and Saddam:

Saddam Hussein provided funding for EIJ for the same reasons. And when one starts to consider the differences between Afghanistan’s Taliban after 9/11 and Saddam, the gaps narrows considerably. The Taliban gave AQ shelter while probably not realizing the extent to which it made them a target; Saddam funded their main leadership source and at least one of their subsidiaries in order to help them succeed in their mission against the US. That’s at least arguably an act of war, attempting to use terrorists as a proxy to fight it — and it very clearly fell within the post-9/11 Bush doctrine.

There is an argument to be made that this is not enough to go to war in 2003 and our experience in Iraq has been a hard lesson in that the costs may outweigh the benefits, but history will make that judgement. However, the claims of "no links" and no connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda is simply untrue.

Big Green

Chris Horner, scourge of the alarmists reiterates a point that needs to be made.

As Ed Craig had noted the day before, news services are reporting that Gore, who left office worth less than $3 million, had just plunked $35 million into a particular “firm that selects the private funds for clients and invests in makers of environmentally friendly products.” Mr. Gore and his advisors are savvy enough not to place all of his wealth in one fund, it seems — the same sources report this wealth as “well in excess of” $100 million. It’s been a good seven years.

Mr. Gore also has a position in a Silicon Valley “green” venture capital outfit — another group of people investing in companies that would be worth real money in an America with Gore-favored environmental policies. The firm sells carbon “offsets,” which are only window dressing at present, but which would be assigned artificial value through artificial scarcity under state-imposed emissions limits.

At this point I want to remind all of the skeptics, who should need no reminding, of the argument that one’s financial interests dictate or at minimum pollute one’s opinions. As a certain gentleman recently
said, people who disagree with him on this issue do so “because they are locked in a coalition with rich and powerful people who take advantage of the poor for economic profit.” Like, say, increasing their energy costs? Exporting pollution to countries with lower environmental and other standards, and therefore exporting jobs?

Here we see the trouble with this line of argument. One cannot logically fault skeptics’ credibility on the grounds that they receive income related to their advocacy, without also faulting Gore’s credibility; and that of climate alarmism’s heavily compensated rock star James Hansen; and the “socially responsible” businesses aiding in the campaign in order to sell windmills, carbon offsets, and the like; and so on.

The next time you hear someone say a climate skeptic is in the pocket of Big Oil, recall that our former vice-president is traveling the world — on “planes that were going there
anyway,” no doubt— to encourage leaders to whom he has unique access to get them to agree to “green” policies that will increase his personal wealth many, many times over.

Remember that the next time they scream Exxon-Mobil then wipe their hands as if they just won an argument.

Edmund Burke: Irishman


















Edmund Burke is an intellectual and philosophical lodestar for modern conservatives. This being St. Patrick's Day weekend it is only fitting to reflect on one of Ireland's greatest sons. Joseph Morrison Skelly has a brilliant essay over at National Review on how Burke's Irishness effected his outlook and what Burke might have to say about the war against Islamofascism.

Skelley quotes Russell Kirk's Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered, which crystallizes the essence of conservatism.


Burke’s chief concern had been for justice and liberty, which must stand or fall together — liberty under law, a definite liberty, the limits of which were determined by prescription. He had defended the liberties of Englishmen against their king, and the liberties of Americans against king and parliament, and the liberties of Hindus against Europeans. He had defended those liberties not because they were innovations, discovered in the Age of Reason, but because they were ancient prerogatives, guaranteed by immemorial usage.

Skelly reminds us that,What is more, 'Burke was liberal,' in the noble, traditional sense of the word, 'because he was conservative.'”

Skelly's thoughts on what Burke would counsel in the current conflict are also instructive

The question arises: how would this defender of ordered freedom respond to one of its greatest enemies today, namely, militant Islam? To be sure, there are fundamental differences, and we must avoid reflexive comparisons. The Jacobins promoted a political religion, while al-Qaeda adheres to a fanatical theocratic politics. The former sought to eradicate religion from society, the latter seeks to impose sharia law. In foreign affairs, Burke often counseled caution. Kirk is clear on this point: “a statesman’s chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.” In this spirit, some of today’s leading conservatives legitimately question the wisdom of foreign entanglements.

Yet when all is said and done, extremist Islam poses the same threat to our established way of life as the French radicals did in Burke’s day. He would espy in al-Qaeda the same evil he discerned in the Committee on Public Safety. In his masterful Letters on a Regicide Peace, he exhorted his countrymen to fight a “long war” against their enemies, and he would most likely advise the same today. In one of his last letters before his death in 1797, he urged his friends in Britain: “Never succumb to the enemy; it is a struggle for your existence as a nation; and if you must die, die with the sword in your hand.” These words could be Edmund Burke’s epitaph. They may also be our motto, on Saint Patrick’s Day, and until the “long war” is won.

Senators Who Voted to Raise Your Energy Costs

The Global Warming Solutions Act has passed out of the Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee by a 5-3 vote.

The following senators voted to directly raise your energy costs and add draconian restrictions on Maryland's economy.

Joan Carter Conway
Michael G. Lenett
Paul G. Pinsky
James C. Rosapepe
David C. Harrington

I strongly suggest a phone call or email to these five legislators. Tell them that you know they voted to raise your energy costs.

I also suggest calls to senators Richard F. Colburn, Janet Greenip, and Andy Harris for voting against this terrible bill.

Here is a list of Senators who are sponsoring the bill to raise your energy costs.

I don't know the status of the House version of the bill in the Economic Matters Committee. However you can see a list of delegates who are sponsoring legislation that will raise your energy costs.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Riiiight

From WBAL

During his appearance in Dundalk, the governor also addressed the issue over pay raises for top state officials.

The O'Malley Administration has created a new executive pay grade that would allow some officials to earn between $140,000 and $235,000 a year.

The governor says that the pay grade is justified, even as lawmakers are being asked to approved more than $300-million in budget cuts that will leave other state workers earning a 1.5% raise next year.

The governor defended a $70,000 raise for PSC Chairman Steven Larsen that will net him a $188,000 a year salary.

The governor says Larsen is charged with leading an agency that will help lower residential electric rates which is one of the administration's priorities.

"We are going to pay top dollar, in order to defend consumers and their interests, in the same way Constellation (Energy) is going to spend to retain the best lawyers and experts to try and boost their profit margin," O'Malley said
.

Yesterday, the State Senate rejected a proposal that would have required the governor to submit future raises to the legislature for approval.

Let me get this straight O'Malley's handpicked PSC chairman brought in to save working families from electricity rate increases, fails to do so, which earns him a $70k raise.

We're still wating for "leadership that works."

And, from the Department of Irony:

"I would support repeal of it, provided we can find alternatives to it, that's where I am," O'Malley told reporters after an event in Dundalk today.

The governor says he is convinced that the tax hurts the tech industry, and would cost state jobs. He also notes that tax was not part of his original tax proposal, unveiled before last year's special session of the General Assembly...

"Governor O’Malley understands how vital innovation is to Maryland’s economy – and to creating the better future we want for our state," Association President Tom Loveland wrote in a statement...

The association's spokesman is the governor's former Communications Director, Steve Kearney.
Forget for a moment the Governor admits to signing into law a tax he disagrees with, O'Malley's former propagandist can't even get the thing repealed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bad Rap Reax










I received a lot of positive email feedback from my Bad Rap oped last month in the Baltimore Sun.

However, as expected, denizens of the fever swamp arose from the bog to inform me of what a hateful and unthinking person I am for having the temerity to make an argument.

Lane said

It's shocking to me that you would write "...conservative talk radio is not a monolithic agreement factory full of Rush Limbaugh's ditto-heads repeating what he tells them to think," explaining what conservative talk radio is not, then turn around and reduce what progressive talk radio "is" by writing, "...Al Franken ranting about racist conservatives and Randi Rhodes waxing poetic about an assassination of President Bush did not make for compelling radio; thus Air America's stupendous failure." Of course, I don't know why I'm surprised; by your own admission, you don't listen to progressive radio, so you're obviously unqualified to sum it up for your readership. The crux of the Steiner issue is that he is an independent voice that has been stifled by corporate interests. Whether he is progressive or conservative seems beside the point.

What Lane deliberately leaves out is that after my mention of Franken and Rhodes I explicitly write “Clearly, Mr. Steiner's show wasn't anything like the fever swamp of Air America.” But I digress

From Maria Allwine of Baltimore’s Green Party

Mr. Newgent would like his readers to think that "liberal bias blinkers its assessment of conservative talk radio..." Here's what conservative talk radio really does - nothing to assess in this latest outburst from Bill O'Reilly - it's as plain as day:

"And I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down."

You can dress this up however you wish and there will be people whose ideology prevents them from abandoning this kind of garbage, but conservative, right-wing talk radio, with few exceptions, is hate-wing talk radio. What haters like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and too many others are selling is "tracking down" people who don't agree with them and silencing or even killing them - plain and simple. I can hear you all now saying that's not true. But in your reflective moments, you must know how true it is.

If you don't acknowledge that that is exactly what most of these talk-show hosts are really selling, then you're not listening and you're not willing to acknowledge the depth of your own hateful feelings for progressives like me, whose fundamental ideas about how to treat other people and how to make this country live up to its professed ideals are different from yours.

O'Reilly's latest filth isn't funny, it's not a joke and it never has been. It's all designed to make you hate people who are different from you. It's designed to make you see what is becoming the majority of finally awakened Americans as your enemy. And the worst part of it is - people like O'Reilly and their ilk do it for the MONEY and the PRESTIGE and their perceived POWER!! Don't you get that?

Marc Steiner's program served the community of Baltimore and Maryland without sowing ugliness and hate. I realize that this is perceived as "liberal bias" when what it really is is civil discourse without demonization - a concept rendered arcane by most conservative right-wing radio.

I fully expect many posters, after they read this, to spew hateful invective toward me and other devil-progressives - you've been doing it for so long that it's become habit without reflective thinking.

Allwine’s rant is pregnant with every left wing trope about conservatives that the straw man was already a pile of embers before she began banging away on her keyboard.

Allwine employs--conscious of it or not--the old Marxist false consciousness trick. The false consciousness goes something like this: if you disagree with the left, you obviously suffer from some sort of brainwashing and are incapable of critical thinking. Since progressives are the embodiment of all that is right and good in the world, being a conservative you are, ipso facto, a hateful person. I cite again for emphasis:


If you don't acknowledge that that is exactly what most of these talk-show hosts are really selling, then you're not listening and you're not willing to acknowledge the depth of your own hateful feelings for progressives like me, whose fundamental ideas about how to treat other people and how to make this country live up to its professed ideals are different from yours.

Lost in the frothy sanctimony of their spittle-flecked rants, people like Allwine go on to prove the very point of my piece.

You see progressives don’t go apoplectic when you are wrong about them. No, they scream and rant when you hit the target.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Trial Lawyers Gone Wild

The Baltimore Examiner editorial page is irking the right people, two in particular, Delegate Sandy (Fantasy Camp) Rosenberg, and Peter Angelos crony and trial lawyer Thomas Minkin.

Loathe as I am to borrow from steroidal compassionate conservative Mike Huckabee but, if the Examiner is taking flak from these two, then they must be over the target.

Rosenberg and Minkin took time away from ordering yet another feast of taxpayer dollars for trial lawyers to chastise the Examiner for having the temerity to point out that they are… ordering another feast of taxpayer dollars.

Both Rosenberg and Minkin resort to the predictable “for the children argument.”

Rosenberg: “Through my efforts and those of many others, we have significantly reduced the number of children irreparably harmed by this preventable disease. Nonetheless, the lives of thousands of Maryland children have been harmed by lead paint poisoning.”

Minkin: “In your latest salvo, you found it necessary to criticize members of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association with regard to some members acting on behalf of children poisoned by lead paint throughout the region.”

I have no doubt of efforts to hold lead paint manufacturers accountable are intended to help children who suffered from lead related illnesses. However, I question delegate Rosenberg’s commitment to help children when billable hours are not on the line.

You see, Delegate Rosenberg, along with other members of the tort lobby had a huge opportunity to something “for the children” back in 2006, yet they resisted.

The story of Jessica’s Law in Maryland is fairly well known. In 2007, a groundswell of citizen and media activism embarrassed the recalcitrant chairs of the House and Senate judiciary committees, and persuaded the General Assembly to unanimously approve mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offenders.

However, the same legislation was on the table in 2006, yet a majority of the legislators voted against Jessica’s Law. Read the entire story here.

In 2006, Jessica’s Law did not make it past the Democrat majorities in the House and Senate. Many of the same Democrats, who voted unanimously for legislation this past session, killed it in the 2006 session. They killed Jessica’s Law by wrapping it into larger legislation in order to strip out mandatory minimum sentences in the amendment process. The most notable opponent was then delegate Anthony Brown, now our secretive Lt. Governor. Brown strong-armed delegates at the last minute to kill the bill on procedural votes. Republican Tony O’Donnell tried to keep the bill before the house but was rejected (83-52) and Joe Vallarrio, Brown’s ally succeeded in his motion to recommit the bill (69-63) back to his judiciary committee where it was effectively dead. The two procedural votes came down along party lines. Take note of the vote count and how so-called “progressive” Democrats voted against a bill that protects children. The General Assembly did pass watered down version of Jessica’s Law in the 2006 special session.

Look at Rosenberg’s two votes and you will see that his concern “for the children” is shallow, unless, as with the lead paint legislation, it helps line the pockets of trial lawyers. Trial lawyers don’t like mandatory minimum sentences, whereas they love legislation that opens up a floodgate of public money to pay for billable hours.

Furthermore, a bill introduced to plug the dimunition loophole for child sex offenders during this current legislative session, currently sits in the desk drawers of Joe Vallarrio and Brian Frosh, chairs of the house and senate judiciary committees.

Will Delegate Rosenberg pen a similar self-righteous oped condemning Vallarrio and Frosh for obstructing this piece of child friendly legislation from reaching a vote?

Instead of seeking new pork for the tort lobby, perhaps delegate Rosenberg--Orioles fan that he is--should lobby Minkin to press his boss Angelos to field a better on field product at Camden Yards.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

In the Tank












Going by the Governor's tanking poll numbers, it appears not enough people got the message in Fraser Smith's January 20th column. In order to achieve its intended goal--to make benefit of glorious leader--Smith had to rework it for March 9.

Just over a year into his administration, Gov. Martin O'Malley finds himself pinned to a hard reality: cleaning up the financial mess left by his predecessors while trying to cope with a faltering economy.

Instead of credit for that dual rescue mission, he faces critics who say he's done too little cost-cutting and too much taxing. "One of the frustrating realities is that a penny tax increase in the sales tax makes a banner headline, and $100 million in cuts gets barely a whisper," he said during at interview in his State House office.
He's hoping to counter criticism by asking Marylanders to realize how much worse things could be. "I think we have to distinguish between the avalanche of red ink we were able to avoid by attacking the deficit we inherited and the cyclical downturn, which will always happen," Mr. O'Malley said.

Without last November's special legislation session - in which a $1.7 billion deficit was eased by raising the sales and income taxes - the economic slowdown would do much more damage. It's already threatened the state's effort to save the Chesapeake Bay, to invest in potentially lifesaving stem cell research and to hold the line on tuition increases at state colleges and universities.

To say that this is not exactly true would be an understatement.

Calling the sales tax increase "a penny increase" is putting the proverbial silk hat on a pig. In reality the sales tax increase is 20%. Also, Smith conveniently leaves out the extension of the sales tax to the computer services industry.

Sure O'Malley made some cuts, but he also added 898 more positions and increased spending $1.7-$1.8 billion. In fact, O'Malley's FY2009 budget was a little larger than the $1.4 billion in historic tax increases rammed through in last year's special session. The begs the question, where was the crisis that warranted a special session, and the fear mongering, doomsday "failure to act" budget?

Furthermore, contrary to the Baltimore Sun editorial board, O'Malley's special session did NOT solve the structural deficit. Even if the state was not expecting $333 million in revenue shortfalls, the spending problem would still exist. Taking the logic of Smith's narrative to its end, then O'Malley would bequeath the deficit problem to his successors as well.

Martin O'Malley and the truth are like two ships passing in the night; never the twain shall meet. However, the governor is not worried, he expects you to forget these inconvenient truths come November 2010.

Obviously Smith's columns are part of the official "comeback" narrative of a heroic governor willing to take political hits in order to do good by Maryland's working families, O'Malley wants to create. No matter the real record, practically it is smart politics.

However, O'Malley should stop connecting his superficial lament for his political trajectory to the very real travails of our soldiers in Iraq.

"The cause of my being down is not the poll numbers," he said. "It's the challenges we face. You go to 20 line-of-duty funerals for young people coming home from Iraq. You look at the dollar being weakened. ... It's difficult to be a thinking, caring, rational, moral human being and not be aware of the sadness contained in our shared reality."


The polls are a a reflection of O'Malley's dismal record in office. The cause of which, is his tax increases and energy policies making the plight of working families worse than when he "championed" their cause in the 2006 election. Contrary to Smith's attempts to show otherwise, O'Malley has only exacerbated "the challenges we face."

I have no doubt that O'Malley genuinely supports our troops in Iraq and feels compassion for the families for the fallen. However, it is extremely bad form for the governor to hide from very legitimate and warranted criticism behind his concern for our fighting men and women.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Speaking Gig









I will be speaking at the 79th Maryland Thursday Meeting on March 13.

The topic will be global warming, following up on my two Examiner oped pieces.

Other speakers on different topics are on tap as well.
The Maryland Thursday Meeting is a monthly gathering of center-right activists and organizations.

Location: Associated Builders and Contractors Headquarters 100 West St. Annapolis, MD
Time: 8:00 AM

Friday, March 7, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Baltimore police are targeting smokers for loitering outside bars, because due to the statewide smoking ban, the can't smoke inside bars.

The Examiner piece looks at the issue with bars on 36th Ave. in Hampden, home of the "Hon," as in "downyavenue hon."

Banished smokers taking nicotine breaks outside bars in one of Baltimore City’s trendy neighborhoods are being told to move or face fines and arrest for loitering, bar owners said. Hampden bar owners said they were shocked last week when police began warning patrons to move 150 feet away from the entrance of bars they were patronizing or face loitering charges.

“Loitering has always been a legitimate problem in the neighborhood that we couldn’t get police to deal with,” said Benn Ray, owner of Atomic Books and head of the Hampden Village Merchants Association. “So why all of sudden is the Police Department being aggressive with smokers when they haven’t been enforcing loitering laws for 10 years?”

Ray said drug addicts, prostitutes and even dealers can be seen prowling the area around his store on the main drag in Hampden.


As a resident of Wyman Park, which the cab drivers call "HamRo" (too good for Hampden not good enough for Roland Park), 36th Ave is a main thoroughfare for me. I can tell you that Mr. Ray is absolutely correct, just take an evening drive on "The Avenue" and the addicts and prostitutes are there for all to see, amidst all the trendy shops and boutiques.

In fact, one Hampden building on West 36th was the home of the aptly named Stash House Records. You may remember that the Stash House was studio for Baltimore rappers Deon Lionnel Smith, and Walter Oriley Poindexter who ran a violent heroin ring out of the building. Smith and Poindexter were the targets of slain federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna the night he died.

Baltimore police have more important, and more dangerous people to target than smokers forced out-of-doors by the state government. Where do you draw the line on this? I can tell you this there are two types of addicts on the Avenue and those the police should be concerned with are not the one's sucking on Marlboro Lights.

I'm reminded of Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct "What are you gonna do? Charge me with smoking?" Although, I wouldn't be surprised if this happens.

Geli Ioannou, owner of Zissimos, a bar on the Avenue said it best

“First the state raises taxes, and then we have a smoking ban, and now I have to deal with this,” said Ioannou standing outside his bar as a customer took a midafternoon smoke break. “It makes no sense to harass my customers and ignore drug addicts and prostitutes.”