Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wind Farms, Cui Bono?

Opposition to proposed wind farms on state forest land in Western Maryland is vocal and growing. More than 500 folks showed up at a public hearing to protest US Wind Force LLC's proposal to lease 400 acres of forest land in Garrett County to build 100 forty-story wind turbines in two state forests.

The Department of Natural Resources must decide the policy matter of whether or not wind turbines are a proper use of state lands before the Board of Public Works can vote on the lease.

A source tells me that US Wind Force LLC has other projects in the works to build wind farms on private lands.

The proposal has caused a minor rift among environmentalists, between those who want to preserve state forest land and global warming alarmists who see wind power as part of the answer to stop global warming. I agree with the conservationists that protecting the forest land is the best policy here. Wind power is expensive to generate and transmit, and currently an unreliable source of energy. That is not to say that it won’t be in the future.

However, there is more to this story. A brief timeline will help illuminate things:

April 2007: Governor O’Malley signed SB 566/HB 1072 into law, which allows wind generating companies like Synergics Wind Energy LLC to circumvent PSC regulations governing building on environmentally sensitive areas. Synergics is owned by Wayne Rogers, former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and crony to O’Malley and Senate President Mike Miller. Rogers served on O’Malley’s transition team as an energy expert. His transition team recommended more wind power. You can see the campaign contributions of Wayne Rogers here, and Synergics here.

October 4, 2007: Governor O’Malley, with representatives from US Wind Force, visited potential wind farm sites in Western Maryland.

November 21, 2007: US Wind Force LLC contributes $4,000, the maximum contribution, to Friends of Martin O’Malley.

December 5, 2007: US Wind Force LLC contributes $1,000 to Friends of Peter Franchot.

Do you see a pattern here?

A second public hearing on the proposal was held last night in Annapolis and DNR is scheduled to brief the Western Maryland delegation this morning. Depending on DNR’s policy ruling, the Board of Public Works could vote on the proposal at its February 13 meeting. Given the campaign contributions and past history, my bet is that DNR blesses the proposal and the BPW approves. It is hard to imagine that US Wind Force didn’t notice how Wayne Rogers greased the skids to get approval for his wind farm.

Of course we have seen this same behavior on display before, during the earliest months of the O’Malley administration. Remember David Sutherland and the Kudner land deal on the Eastern Shore? You know the shady land deal in which the O’Malley administration fired career DGS employee Nelson Reichart for informing the press that the state was purchasing land from another member of O’Malley’s transition team, for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the highest state appraisal. The same David Sutherland, who just happened to be DNR Secretary John Griffin’s former boss.

Even if DNR rules against the wind farm it may not matter. O’Malley and Franchot voted to halt a Kent Island development even though MDE secretary Shari Wilson testified that the developer followed all the environmental laws and regulations. Following the rule of law and applying it consistently is not a trait of this administration.

With that track record, I feel quite confident that the O’Malley administration’s handling of the US Wind Force proposal is above board.

From Capetown to Catonsville

South Africa is facing daily power outages, which is halting its economic growth.

But after three weeks of chronic failures —after regularly irregular vexations with lifeless computers, stove tops and stoplights — public forbearance has given way to outrage. This nation, long a reliable repository of cheap, plentiful electricity, finds itself pitifully short of juice.

The government has confessed to an “electricity emergency” and has begun a program of rationing for industrial users. This is a mortifying turn for a country that considers itself the powerhouse of Africa and resists comparisons to its underdeveloped, famine-plagued neighbors.

But electricity shortages, now expected to be a fact of life for the next five years, are more than an embarrassment. They threaten continued strong growth here in a nation that accounts for a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output and ranks among the world’s top 25 countries in gross domestic product.

Because South Africa is an engine of growth for the region, a slowdown here would also affect its neighbors, undermining global efforts to reduce poverty and damaging South Africa’s own drive to slash its woeful unemployment rate of 25.5 percent.

One of this nation’s largest employers, the mining industry, virtually halted production for four days last week because Eskom, the dominant, government-controlled utility, could not guarantee enough power to ventilate and cool the deep underground shafts. Companies that mine gold and platinum restarted production only on Tuesday after emergency negotiations with Eskom, South Africa’s Chamber of Mines said.

“The shutdown of the mining industry is an extraordinary, unprecedented event,” said Anton Eberhard, a business school professor at the University of Cape Town and an energy expert. “That’s a powerful message, massively damaging to South Africa’s reputation for new investment. Our country was built on the mines.”

And how did this happen?

The current crisis stems from Eskom’s lack of capacity to generate enough power, and its inability to keep many of its plants working.

The predicament was foretold. In 1998, a government report warned that at the rate the economy was growing, the nation faced serious electricity shortages by 2007 unless capacity was expanded. The government, led by President Thabo Mbeki, who assumed office in June 1999, tried unsuccessfully to induce private investors to build additional power plants. Only belatedly did it permit Eskom to begin the necessary expansion.

“The president has accepted that this government got its timing wrong,” Alec Erwin, the public enterprises minister, said last Friday at a much-anticipated news briefing that broke a mystifying public silence...

South Africans are appalled by the daily interruptions to their lives. Workers sit idle, televisions flick into darkness and silence, elevators stall between floors, gas stations cannot pump, cakes remain forever half-baked. Every intersection with disabled traffic lights becomes a four-way stop, with drivers in each direction maddeningly delayed as the endless lines of cars inch forward.

Does this sound familiar?

Future power shortages and brownouts are predicted for Maryland due to lack of supply and increasing demand. Yet the mental giants in Annapolis are proposing legislation, which will DECREASE incentives to create generating capacity, and INCREASE energy costs and bring about energy rationing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Donna Edwards and the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Donna Edwards is the progressive saint of the FSP folks. They are touting her new "stakeout" ad against Al Wynn. Watch it below. Edwards films Wynn departing the office of big nuclear power company and shows the other "big corporate special interests" that fund Wynn. However, note the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters endorsement logos at the end of the ad.

The Sierra Club and LCV are big players in the constellation of progressive advocacy groups National Review contributor Byron York documented in his book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. One of York's major arguments is that the left's commitment to campaign finance reform and law is purely notional. The left's largest financiers like George Soros, championed campaign finance reform because they saw it as a tool to hamper rich evil Republicans. York points out many many instances of campaign finance shenanigans on the left. The point being, that the left and their special interests are on the side of the angels and not subject to the rules.

PolitickerMD's coverage of Al Wynn's FEC complaint against Donna Edwards reveals that she might be another example of what York noted in his book.

In a letter to the FEC, Lori Sherwood, the congressman’s campaign manager, wrote, “Based on my examination of various records and documents I believe the Donna Edwards for Congress Committee has received substantial assistance by way of unreported, in-kind contributions from organizations who profess to have operated independently of the Edwards Campaign.”

In a lengthy complaint, Sherwood claimed that as executive director of the social justice organization the Arca Foundation, Edwards was “responsible for administering and overseeing grants that are awarded and distributed” by the group – grants that go to some of her campaign's biggest supporters.

“By way of example and not limitation, the Arca Foundation contributed $100,000.00 in grants to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) from 2004-2006,” Sherwood said.

“That after having been intimately involved in the award of an Arca grant to the LCV, Donna Edwards was appointed to the Board of Directors of the League of Conservation Voters,” she continued. “After receipt of grant money from Ms. Edward's group and her appointment to the LCV Board, LCV endorsed Donna Edwards for Congress in 2006 and 2008.” Sherwood goes on to allege that the “LCV and its principals contributed over $15,000.00 to the Edwards campaign through its board members, employees, and the LCV PAC.”

The complaint also alleges other non kosher relationships with other progressive organizations like EMILY's List and Friends of the Earth.

EMILY's List Executive Director Ellen Moran denounced Wynn's complaint saying:

"EMILY's List is proud to stand with Donna Edwards, a champion for women and families and a leader we know will bring the kind of change the voters of Maryland's 4th District so desperately want. It is a sad indication of Rep. Wynn's desperation that he resorts to launching specious attacks against non-profit community groups, environmentalists and organizations representing workers and women's rights."

And so we come to the left's excuse for everything. Its okay to violate campaign finance laws because their special interests are the good special interests, Therefore, the rules don't apply to them and to point out that discrepancy is bad form. Special interests are special interests no matter where their money goes.

Nothing may come of the allegations and honestly I don't have a dog in this the Democratic primary. I lived in the 4th in Wynn's earlier terms and I can't say I was represented well by him back then.

However, Donna Edwards is a tool of special interests just as she paints Al Wynn to be. True, if she is elected you probably won't have to stake her out at a corporate lobbying firm. You will find her at the lobbying offices of the special interest groups: Sierra Club, NOW, SEIU, LCV, and ACORN.

I wonder what Edwards and the FSP folks think about ACORN, a group implicated in vote fraud and cited by the NLRB for illegally firing its employees who deigned to form a union.

Oh I forgot, they are progressive special interests so they couldn't possibly be a bad influence on our politics.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Professional talk radio guest Frank DeFilippo is in high dudgeon over the fact that he received a RNC fund raising mailer. Oh the horror! He was so upset he felt to the need whine about it on

I get mail from the DNC and every liberal group under the sun. I casually dump them in the trash can as I would any other waste and move on. It appears DeFilipo is upset that the algorithms in the RNC database did not recognize him as a haughty Democratic muckety muck. Unfortunately most listeners to the Ron Smith show do know Frank.

The RNC database managers had no idea who Frank DeFilipo is, neither does your average citizen. Okay so Frank was upset and felt the need to pontificate on such an outrage. Fine, whatever. However, DeFilippo felt the need to take some unwarranted shots at we natavist proles suffering under the false consciousness imposed on us by our capitalist masters.

It also must be said, upon professional evidence, that the relevant Zip Code is one of the most fertile fund-raising warrens in the region and so it is how this unapologetic New Deal Democrat, by no means because if his impecunious presence, is now encoded on the mailing list with the GOP’s captains of industry as well as the yammering know-nothings who inhabit its lower ranks.

Yammering know-nothings? Quite a cheeky statement given that it takes one caller to the show to reveal the intellectual bankruptcy of most of DeFilipo's positions. Look at DeFilipo's political philosophy, "unapologetic New Deal Democrat," its easy to see the empty well of ideas and arguments he draws from.

Why dwell on the merits of this policy or that, when its much easier to demean your opponents as yammering know-nothings.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Regulate This!

Surprise Surprise, our electricity rates are going up again. Hey O'Gov weren't you supposed to do something about this? Oh right you did you made the original increase even higher.

Progressives love to regulate big business in the name of protecting "the people" from the greedy clutches of corporate fat cats. As I mentioned before, big business welcomes regulation because it helps them corner the market by making competition too costly.

Case in point, the FERC regulations fueling the new increase:

The PSC staff blame new wholesale market rules that reward power producers in areas where electricity supplies are dangerously tight. PJM Interconnection, which operates the region's power grid and wholesale energy market, implemented the regulations in the spring with approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

These "capacity" charges are designed to entice power companies to build new power plants and transmission lines to meet rising demand. After the new rules took effect in June, capacity charges paid to generators soared about 2000 percent overnight, Trimble said. The problem is most acute in Central Maryland, which is home to BGE's 1.1 million customers.

The capacity charges are controversial within the industry because they put more money in the pockets of power companies regardless of whether they use the added profits to build new power plants. BGE's corporate parent, Constellation Energy Group, is the state's largest producer of electricity and, consequently, a primary beneficiary of the regulations.

In the Sun article, reporter Paul Adams notes that state regulators are handicapped because such decisions are made in Washington, with little input from the PSC. However, the PSC is just as guilty of regulating in favor the utility at the expense of ratepayers. Governor O'Malley's handpicked PSC approved the policy of decoupling. Decoupling allows utilities to separate the rate they charge from the amount of electricity consumed. So no matter how much you electricity you conserve you still pay as if you were not conserving. Where is the incentive to conserve?

All the talk of "re-regulating" electricity markets is tinged with rhetoric of concern for ratepayers. But we know that regulation is just a tool for big business to get from government what it can't get on the free market--and a means for government to get its own taste.

Here is a novel idea. Why don't we try actual, real, deregulation. I'm all for some minimum standards of behavior, but the more you regulate--and progressives from time immemorial have not learned this--the more you encourage business to get into politics in order to buy politicians and write legislation. Let companies sink or swim on their own efforts in a market of free and fair competition.

Transparency for Teacher Contracts

Smart political minorities not only point out where the majority is wrong--as this liberal monopoly often is--they also propose good policies of their own.

Senator Janet Greenip (R -33) has done so. Yesterday she introduced the Public School Collective Bargaining Sunshine Act (SB 230). SB 230 would require county boards of education to make their collective bargaining contracts publicly available within 10 days of the agreement.

Currently citizens wishing to review those contracts must file a FOIA request to obtain them. As I can personally attest, FOIA requests are not an easy process, especially when public officials have something to hide.

Teacher unions, whose members incessantly claim to be the saviors of public school students, should have no qualms about public scrutiny of their contracts. After all they are public employees.

Transparency in government is a notion that is paid a lot of lip service, but rarely any action. This bill would offer taxpayers a clearer view an often opaque process.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heil T.O.

Jonah Goldberg uncovered even more disturbing fascist history.
Apparently Der Führer was a fan of America's Team.

The Deficit Slain?

I thought Governor O'Malley slayed the deficit during the special session?
How did I know that? The Baltimore Sun told me so!

Well then what is all this stuff I am reading, which says Maryland still has a deficit problem?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Sword and The Shield

I've got to hand it to Governor O'Malley's and the Maryland Democratic Party's communications teams. They have been more successful promoting their guy than any of the KGB active measures I studied in graduate school. Of course the folks of First Chief Directorate in the Lubyanka did not have benefit of a pliant elite media as Rick Abbruzzese and David Paulson do. To complete my analogy, Paulson is the Sword and Abbruzzese is the Shield.

If you think this analogy is unfair or wrong, then ask the communist intelligence officer who specifically singled out O'Malley's rhetoric as emblematic of the American's left's use of Soviet propaganda playbook.

My Red Maryland colleague and broadcast partner Brian Griffiths already dismantled the Baltimore Sun's predictable flag carrying for its favorite son. However, The Washington Post and C. Fraser Smith were not to be outdone in heaping praise to make benefit for glorious leader.

The Post in asking what is next from O'Malley lauded him for "his sweeping blueprint to rewrite the state's tax code and put Maryland back on the road to fiscal solvency..." and noted his plan, among others, to propose "a fund paid by electric companies to promote clean and efficient power sources. He also is pushing other incentives to wean utilities from pollution-producing technologies... But by laying out an activist, multi-pronged agenda, Mr. O'Malley has shown he is not willing to rest on his deficit-cutting laurels."

C. Fraser Smith's sonnet The Perils of Responsible Governing echoed The Post with similar platitudes. Smith went further saying:

That decision is likely to be unrivaled as a moment of truth for his young administration. It was not long before he began to pay the price for decisive but inevitably unpopular action. His approval rating, high enough to win the office handily a year earlier, dipped sharply.

It didn't matter that he hadn't created the problem. And since his explanations couldn't be relayed in a sound bite, he had to accept the flak as the price of doing business responsibly.

Ahh yes the governor made the unpopular but tough decision to raise taxes to solve a problem left to him by others to get Maryland "moving again." Smith like the Sun and the Post praises O'Malley for his new budget for being fiscally responsible and in O'Mally's words, "one of the clearest reflections of the values we share to build a stronger, healthier Maryland for the next generation, and to make progress on our shared goals."

When you get past the fawning and look into the real numbers and policy ramifications, the brass on O'Malley's "deficit cutting laurels" isn't as burnished as the Post, the Sun, and Smith would have you think.

Only a few short weeks after the ink was dry on O'Malley's signature signing Maryland's historic tax increases into law, Office of Policy Analysis Director Warren Deschenaux warned of a new deficit in 2010, which he estimated to be $237 million, increasing to $263 million in 2011.

The Examiner also noted that O'Malley's "31.5 billion budget is bigger by a little more than the $1.4 billion emergency tax increase. So even if none of those new taxes was passed, the budget would not have been cut. "

Yes, O'Malley made the $550 million in cuts and eliminated the 500 vacant positions. However, the Department of Legislative Services noted that his budget added 898 new jobs to state government.

On spending, the administration is using sleight of hand tricks to hide the actual increases in state spending. The 2009 budget increases spending by 6% not the 4% touted by the administration and their useful idiots. Anyway you slice it state spending increased between $1.7-$1.8 billion.

On the energy issue, the Post editorial writer is either deliberately lying or ignorant. Energy companies will not pay for the fund to promote clean and efficient power, consumers will pay the costs. Even if consumers install energy efficient appliances and practice energy conservation, they will still pay the same rates as if they were not conserving energy. "Weaning" is the Post's euphemism for increasing RPS standards requiring utilities to purchase power from higher cost wind and solar producers. The costs of which are again passed on to consumers.

Brian Griffiths accurately labeled this shell game "O' Malleynomics" Taxing/charging citizens more under the guise of saving them money, in order to spend more of their money.

If the Post, the Sun, and Smith wanted to congratulate governor, instead of beclowning themselves and insulting their readership, they should have just sent him flowers.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Real ID, Voter Fraud, and Early Voting

I am glad to see Governor O’Malley is now on the right side of the Real ID issue. Maryland will be Real ID compliant by 2010. On a related note, I hear Transportation Secretary John Porcari is and recuperating well after being hit by a bus.

In addition to an added layer of security, see here, Real ID has another benefit—protecting the integrity of our elections. Driver’s licenses are the main form of identification required to register to vote and we know that Maryland currently issues licenses to non citizens. What checks are in place to stop non citizens from voting in our elections? None. Senator Richard Colburn has introduced legislation that would help protect our electoral process until Real ID is fully implemented. Colburn’s bill (SB34) would require a birth certificate, passport (current or expired) or proof of naturalization from the federal government in order to register to vote. Once Real ID is implemented the law could be amended to accept a Real ID compliant license. It is a good idea.

Here is why.

Democrats and liberals cried foul and leveled charges of voter fraud in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. However, when the Bush Justice Department decided to prosecute cases of voter fraud by liberal groups they claim the cases were cooked up by GOP partisans. The difference being that the Democrats won in 2006 so there couldn’t possibly be any voter fraud.

John Fund at the Wall Street Journal put that fallacy to rest and revealed factual cases of election fraud by liberal groups, in particular the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN is backed by labor unions and receives funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

But the most interesting news came out of Seattle, where on Thursday local prosecutors indicted seven workers for Acorn, a union-backed activist group that last year registered more than 540,000 low-income and minority voters nationwide and deployed more than 4,000 get-out-the-vote workers. The Acorn defendants stand accused of submitting phony forms in what Secretary of State Sam Reed says is the "worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history" of the state.

The list of "voters" registered in Washington state included former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, New York Times columnists Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, actress Katie Holmes and nonexistent people with nonsensical names such as Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy. The addresses used for the fake names were local homeless shelters. Given that the state doesn't require the showing of any identification before voting, it is entirely possible people could have illegally voted using those names.

Local officials refused to accept the registrations because they had been delivered after last year's Oct. 7 registration deadline. Initially, Acorn officials demanded the registrations be accepted and threatened to sue King County (Seattle) officials if they were tossed out. But just after four Acorn registration workers were indicted in Kansas City, Mo., on similar charges of fraud, the group reversed its position and said the registrations should be rejected. But by then, local election workers had had a reason to carefully scrutinize the forms and uncovered the fraud. Of the 1,805 names submitted by Acorn, only nine have been confirmed as valid, and another 34 are still being investigated. The rest--over 97%--were fake.

In Kansas City, where two Acorn workers have pleaded guilty to committing registration fraud last year while two others await trial, only 40% of the 35,000 registrations submitted by the group turned out to be bogus. But Melody Powell, chairman of the Kansas City Board of Elections, says Acorn's claim that it brought the fraud in her city to light is "seriously misleading." She says her staff first took the evidence to the FBI, and only then Acorn helped identify the perpetrators. "It's a potential recipe for fraud," she says, noting that "anyone can find a voter card mailed to a false apartment building address lying around a lobby and use it to vote." Ms. Powell also worries that legitimate voters who were registered a second time by someone else under a false address might find it difficult to vote.

In Washington state, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that in lieu of charging Acorn itself as part of the registration fraud case, he had worked out an agreement by which the group will pay $25,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation and formally agree to tighten supervision of its activities, which Mr. Satterberg said were rife with "lax oversight."

Last year several Acorn employees told me that the Acorn scandals that have cropped up around the country are no accident. "There's no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances," says Nate Toler, who was head of an Acorn campaign against Wal-Mart in California until late last year, when Acorn fired him for speaking to me.

Loretta Barton, another former community organizer for Acorn, told me that "all Acorn wanted from registration drives was results." Ironically, given Acorn's strong backing from unions, Ms. Barton alleges that when she and her co-workers asked about forming a union, they were slapped down: "We were told if you get a union, you won't have a job." There is some history here: In 2003, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Acorn to rehire and pay restitution to three employees it had illegally fired for trying to organize a union.

Liberals get in a tizzy when conservatives argue for identification requirements to protect the integrity of the electoral process. They conjure up images of the poll tax and other Jim Crow era voter suppression tactics. They can’t ague on the merits of their case so they make racist allusions to proponents of strict identification for voter registration.

Make what you will of the Indiana case before the Supreme Court. However, if your voter registration process is secure with registrants providing proof of citizenship at that point, you seriously cut down on fraud committed at the polling place. Personally I would still like the added layer of fraud protection that presentation of ID at the polling place provides. Indiana provides their voter ID cards free of charge.

Liberals have a valid point about the integrity of electronic voting machines and the very real problems of hacking into them and the lack of a paper trail, John Kane’s contract with Diebold notwithstanding. On a side note I found it interesting Wired talked to David Paulson about conflicts of interest given that his wife, Donna Hamilton, is an anchor and reporter for WBAL TV, who helped fuel the false rumor that Henry Fawell was behind O’Malley Watch.

Anyway, I am in favor of a paper trail. But this begs the question. What good is a paper trail as a fraud protection method, if you can’t prevent fraudulent voter registration and voting in the first place? Remember that slots are not the only referendum on the ballot in 2008. During the 2007 session, the General Assembly passed another referendum to allow voters to add early voting to the constitution. Passage of the early voting referendum, along with our already unsecured voter registration process, “vote early and often” would be SOP in Maryland.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Big Business Loves Big Government

Jay Hancock's commentary on the BGE/Constellation Energy ripoff of rate payers from the bungled "deregulation" plan in 1999 proves a point many conservatives have been making for a long, long time: BIG BUSINESS LOVES BIG GOVERNMENT!

First let's be honest with our use of language in this conversation. The electricity industry in Maryland was not "deregulated." Paris Glendenning, Mike Miller, and Mike Busch essentially legalized a one company electricity cartel for the benefit of Constellation Energy. You can't have a deregulated open market when you set rules that favor the existing monopoly, and make it impossible for competition to set up shop. Big Business loves regulation because they can absorb regulatory costs better than thier smaller competitors, eventually forcing them out of buisness.

Jonah Goldberg, in a take down of John Edwards deceptive campaign rhetoric notes:

Edwards then explained: “Teddy Roosevelt, a great American president — he
didn’t make deals with the monopolies and the trusts. Teddy Roosevelt took them on, busted the monopolies, busted the trusts. That’s what it’s going to take.”

Unsurprisingly, that’s not right on the facts or the argument. As I document in my new book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, the progressives’ tale of eager reformers forcibly bringing Big Business under heel is an enduring myth that ultimately perpetuates the very problem the crusaders set out to cure.

Let’s start with Teddy Roosevelt. According to civics textbooks, Upton Sinclair and his fellow muckrakers unleashed populist rage against the cruel excesses of the meatpacking industry, and as a result, Teddy Roosevelt and his fellow Progressives boldly reined in an industry run amok.

The problem is that it’s totally untrue, a fact Sinclair freely acknowledged. “The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers’ request,” Sinclair wrote in 1906. “It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers.”Or, as historian Gabriel Kolko writes, “The reality of the matter, of course, is that the big packers were warm friends of regulation, especially when it primarily affected their innumerable small competitors.”

A spokesman for “Big Meat” (as Edwards might call it today) told Congress, “We are now and have always been in favor of the extension of the inspection, also to the adoption of the sanitary regulations that will insure the very best possible conditions.”

The meatpacking conglomerates knew that federal inspection would become a marketing tool for their products — “Quality guaranteed by Uncle Sam,” as it were. Meanwhile, small firms and butchers who’d earned the trust of consumers would be forced to endure onerous compliance costs, while large firms not only could absorb those costs more easily but also claim their products were superior to uncertified meats. This story played itself out repeatedly during the Progressive Era.

Big Steel actually sought out government regulation because it feared free-market competition. During the New Deal, FDR supposedly carried on his (distant) cousin Teddy’s crusade against the “malefactors of great wealth.” But the truth is that big business often welcomed government regulation. Clarence Darrow, surveying the National Recovery Act’s record, found that the keystone agency of the New Deal had served only to help big business.

We see the same process playing itself out in our own time.

General Electric, Phillips, and Sylvania wrote the energy bill, recently passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, which outlaws the incandescent light bulb. Let's not forget the subsidies that went to ethanol peddlers like Goldman Sachs and Archer Daniels Midland. After this how is it still honest to accuse global warming skeptics of being the only experts in the pocket of big business. Especially when alarmist experts are out funded billions to millions.

How about the prescription drug benefit for Medicare. That bill was written in the middle of the night by pharmaceutical lobbyists, and passed by guys on my team who should have known better!

If governor O'Malley wants to show true leadership on reducing energy costs for Marylanders; he should propose initiatives that would give us a truly open and competitve electricity market. He could start by pressuring the legislature to repeal the provision in the BRA that allows counties to tax property that generates electricity; advocate measures that would entice competitors to build more electricty generating plants in Maryland to increase supply for a system that will not have the capacity to meet future demand (we are a net importer of electricity), and refuse to sign the Global Warming Solutions Act, which creates an articifical carbon market, and added costs to ratepayers.

We already know Martin O'Malley does not care about reducing electricity and energy costs for working/middle class Marylanders. To bring real rate relief to Marylanders would require the governor to turn against the special interests (big business and environmentalist) he courted during the campaign. We know he won't do that because he is a progressive.

Teaching the Cold War Without an Enemy

More proof that the liberal arts departments in our institutions of higher education are nothing more than expensive indoctrination camps.

In order to fulfill the requirements for a major in history at Northwestern University, my daughter took a course called "The Cold War At Home." As one might imagine in the hothouse of the college system, left wing views predominate. The students read Ellen Shrecker, not Ronald Radosh. Joseph McCarthy has been transmogrified into Adolf Hitler. And victimology stands as the overarching theme of the course.

Communists in the United States are merely benign civil rights advocates and union supporters. The word espionage never once crossed the lips of the instructor...

Despite the recent scholarship on the period such as Alan Weinstein's well researched book on Alger Hiss or Stanton Evanss biography of Senator McCarthy, views that do not fit the prevailing orthodoxy aren't entertained. Pounded into students is the view that America engaged in "totalitarian practices" not unlike the Soviet enemy we decried.

Although the course is entitled the Cold War at Home, you might think the instructor would be inclined to ask who the enemy is, why was the Soviet Union an enemy and what tactics did this nation employ against us. But these issues are not addressed.

Class session after class session was devoted to the drum beat of criticism. I asked my daughter if she read anything about Gus Hall and the American Communist Party or if she ever heard of I.F. Stone or if any time was devoted to the Venona tapes. She looked at me perplexed.

There is only one theme: the U.S. government was wrong; there wasn't any justification for harassing communists and Edward R. Murrow and Victor Navasky are the real heroes in this period.

Needless to say the historical story of that time is nuanced. McCarthy was over the top, but communists of the Alger Hiss variety did insinuate themselves into key positions in the State Department. Not every communist in the U.S. was a threat to national security, but many were and some gave military secrets to the Soviet Union.

Victor Navasky attacked Elia Kazan for naming names in Hollywood, but as Kazan saw it, he was protecting artistic freedom from communist handlers who wanted to approve every line in a film script.

Looking back, it is not so easy to describe heroes and villains, unless, of course, the instructor responds reflexively to the standard left wing agenda.

Ron Radosh and Stan Evans can pick nits over McCarthy. However, the real problem lies in the fact that our history courses rarely, if at all broach the subject that McCarthy was not completely wrong and that, yes Virginia there were American communists spying for the Soviets (hundreds of them).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chicken Littles Rally Against Global Warming... in the Snow!

You know pictures do indeed speak a thousand words!

I attended the Stop Global Warming Rally sponsored by the Alliance for Global Warming Solutions to urge Governor O'Malley and legislators to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill proposed to reduce carbon emission by 25% by 2020 and 90% by 2050.

A similar bill (HB 890/SB 409) thankfully, failed to get out of committee last year. This year's bill is proposed to be very similar to the 2007 version. Indeed, the interim report of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, written by an alarmist advocacy group, recommended building off the 2007 bill. Myself and others have gone over ad nauseum why this legislation is bad. A more accurate name for the bill should be The Economy Destruction, Higher Energy Costs, More Expansive and Intrusive Government Act.

Several legislators walked the "Green Carpet" pledging their support for the bill. Delegates, Kumar Barve, Heather Mizeur, Ben Barnes, Justin Ross, Doyle Niemann, Jeff Waldstreicher, Jon Cardin, and Alfred Carr; along with senators Paul Pinsky, James Rosapepe, and Brian Frosh among others.

I believe the legislators sincerity and their belief in "the cause." However, they are dead wrong and their well meaning but misguided policy prescriptions will harm an already vulnerable economy, raise taxes and energy costs on working/middle class families, and make absolutely no impact on global temperatures. They may feel good about themselves, should this bill pass, but we will all pay through the nose for their false sense of security.

Any way on to the fun stuff: pics and commentary on the rally.

The crowd was rather friendly and congenial, they are just dead wrong on climate change. Although, I did stand next to one guy who was complaining about fascist Republicans. I guess he did not see my book recommendation.

I recorded a few minutes on a cam corder, but the speakers were obscured by a cover tent and umbrellas. It is also hard to take video and simultaneously snap pictures with a camera.

My favorite line out of all the speakers was from Brad Heavener State Director of Environment Maryland, who said "sure it will cost a little bit" in his dissembling on the draconian ramifications of alarmist policy prescriptions.

Chesapeake Climate Action Network Director Mike Tidwell's speech was like an old style southern revival sermon. Then again, climate change is a secular religion. Tidwell reminded me of this scene from Ghostbusters:

Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

On to the pictures

What a wonderful day for a global warming rally!

Someone tell them the battle of the ICC is over and they lost.

Don't you just hate Yankee fans! Oh wait the other guy is dressed like a freakin smokestack. Street theater at its best.

Its always about the children. Where was Progressive Cheverly on Jessica's Law?

Legislators sign up to screw Maryland taxpayers and increase our energy costs

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Recommendation

I'm about half-way through Jonah Golberg's first book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Goldberg is an editor at National Review and a syndicated columnist.

I am working on a review of the book to post after I finish the whole thing. Judging from what I've read so far, this book is going to have to be taken into account in any discussion of fascism. It also forthrightly dispenses the progressive myth that underneath an American conservative you will find a Nazi. In fact, Goldberg resurrects the hidden history of fascism and reveals the shared DNA of modern liberalism's (progressivism) and European fascism. Obviously that is a detailed and nuanced argument and I will expand upon it in my review.

Judging from lefty reactions to the book, mostly from mopes who didn't bother to read it, wackadoos hacking of the book's Amazon page, and Googlebombing the title, Goldberg's argument hits the target. After all progressives don't get upset when you are wrong about them, they go apoplectic when you get it right about them.

NRO has a Liberal Fascism blog detailing reviews, criticisms, both serious and silly, and Goldberg's reaction to the book's acceptance. For a good primer you can listen to Goldberg's book lecture at the Heritage Foundation.

I mention the book here because some of the fascist traits Goldberg assigns to modern liberals apply to our current governor.

Forgetting Something?

Isaac Smith thinks O'Malley's energy plan looks pretty good.

Key to this is something the Sun article only gets into halfway through: the fund will be paid for with revenue from the auctioning of carbon credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative -- i.e. a cap-and-trade sytem designed to fight climate change. According to Bardon Farris of the MEA, the auction could generate about $100 million in revenue for the energy investment fund, but there's nothing said about what percentage of credits would be auctioned. RGGI rules require states to auction at least 25% of their credits, but states can go beyond that level -- New York, for one, is auctioning off all of its credits. In general, the more credits auctioned off, the better -- giving away credits for free leads to windfall profits for power companies, a problem that has severely hobbled Europe's cap-and-trade system.

The question, however, is how this will affect the ordinary Marylander. Certainly, attaching a price on carbon dioxide will drive up the per unit cost of coal and natural gas, two major sources of energy in Maryland. But if these energy conservation and alternative energy measures are aggressively implemented, then overall electricity costs may well stay constant. Indeed, in many cases, energy efficiency saves money. And as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has noted, revenue from a carbon credit auction could easily generate enough revenue to offset any cost increases for low-income households -- both in electricity and in indirect costs.

And if you still think consumers will get a raw deal out of this energy (really a climate change) plan, consider the much higher costs of doing nothing about it.

Isaac is right when he calls O'Malley's initiative a climate change plan not an energy plan. However, we disagree mightily on the supposed "higher costs of doing nothing." Then again you already knew that. Given that it would take 30 Kyotos to see even a barely detectable effect, and that the alarmists are losing traction on both the scientific and political fronts: I say don't just do something, stand there!

I also applaud Isaac's preference for returning revenue from any carbon credit auction to low-income house holds to offset the cost increases. However, he must convince his lefty compatriots at MaryPIRG and other greens who want that revenue funneled into conservation/efficiency programs. Like Isaac said this is a climate change plan, straight out of the alarmist produced Maryland Commission on Climate Change, not an energy plan. The MCCC wants to take that revenue and put it into "education programs" on climate change. Also, I wish you good luck convincing this spendthrift legislature to give money back the public.

When Isaac claims that, "these energy conservation and alternative energy measures are aggressively implemented, then overall electricity costs may well stay constant." He is forgetting to account for the policy of decoupling, which ensures that utility companies do not lose revenue when customers conserve their energy use. That is, no matter how much you conserve, you will be charged as if you were not using less energy.

Like I mentioned yesterday, you will be paying higher costs from to the cap and trade scheme to conserve energy so that the utility company can charge you the same rate as if you were not conserving.

Isaac also ignores the fact renewable energy sources like wind and solar are extremely expensive to produce and transmit. The cost of state mandates for utility companies to purchase higher levels of wind/solar energy will also be passed on to consumers.

..."hugely" cutting state spending before seeking tax increases

Let me reiterate the title of this post again "'hugely' cutting state spending before seeking tax increases."

I know you are thinking: O'Malley did not do that he simultaneously raised taxes and increased spending.

You would be right. Virginia Governor Mark Warner made huge cuts to state spending before seeking tax increases in 2004. Warner actively lobbied and cultivated Republican support for his proposals. He even put the kibosh on Republican plans for even higher taxes than he had proposed. Good for him. Those Republicans were probably "compassionate conservatives" Mike Huckabee types, who needed to be taken down a peg anyway.

O'Malley consulted with Warner before embarking on the special session. Apparently, he must have had a temporary hearing loss when Warner explained his methodology. O'Malley made no huge cuts in spending, in fact he increased spending and froze Republicans out of the process, calling them an "aberrant strain."

To be honest O'Malley did not totally cut Republicans out of the process. He did court five of them when he needed votes to get his slots bills passed. I'm still wondering if it was O'Malley's wonderful singing voice that swayed Delegate James King. Perhaps a quid pro quo? King's vote for an O'Malley's March gig at the Eastport Clipper... er umm I mean Rockfish Restaurant.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The False Salvation of Energy Conservation

Right on cue, The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post are touting Governor O’Malley’s new legislative recommendations and energy policy prescriptions.

From the Sun:

Creating a "strategic energy investment fund" paid for by electricity companies that would invest in energy-efficient technologies and promote nonpolluting power alternatives. Asking lawmakers to pass a bill codifying Maryland's goal of reducing overall electricity consumption by 15 percent by 2015, based on 2007usage.

Requiring the state's utility companies to buy 20 percent of their power from wind, solar or other renewable sources by 2022 - and doubling the penalties for companies that do not…

To reward consumers for reducing their electricity use and investing in energy-efficient technologies, administration officials are proposing an array of incentives and subsidies paid by the energy fund, such as issuing rebates to customers who purchase more efficient appliances.

The fund will not rely on tax revenue. Instead, the governor is banking on proceeds from the auction of so-called pollution credits under an initiative of 10 states to voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, power plants must keep emissions below a downward-sliding limit, or buy credits from cleaner power plants.Brandon Farris, policy director of the Maryland Energy Administration, said Maryland expects to receive about $100 million a year from the sale of its pollution credits, though the yield won't be known until the first auction this summer. Larsen said the amount could be twice as high.

However, as Delegate Warren Miller accurately noted, the costs for the cap and trade scheme will be passed on to—drum roll please—consumers. Also, renewable energy sources are extremely expensive to produce and unreliable. The cost of procuring energy from those sources would be passed on to the consumer as well. Expanding RPS requirements is a rent seekers dream because it allows wind and solar companies to get from government what they could not obtain on the open market. A case in point is Wayne Rogers owner of wind power company Synergics Wind Energy LLC, and former head of the Maryland Democratic Party. Rogers used his money and influence in the senate to circumvent the PSC in order get wind approval for his wind farm in Garrett County.

Furthermore, even if consumers bought into the conservation campaign and practices, they will not save on their energy bills, because of decoupling. In a nutshell, decoupling is a scheme where utility companies are allowed to charge the same rates even if customers are using less energy. That means no matter how much you conserve you are still paying the same rate as if you were not conserving. See O’Malley Watch’s post on PSC Chairman Steve Larsen’s endorsement of the plan, and my Red Maryland colleague streiff’s explication of the concept (and the left’s misleading use of it) and how it resulted in escalating energy costs in other states.

O'Malley officials acknowledge that power companies probably would pass on to consumers the costs of buying pollution credits, which would in turn drive up electricity bills unless the added costs are offset by reduced usage.

That's why the governor wants to use the fund to make it easier for consumers to lower energy consumption, Abbruzzese said.

But recent tax increases and economic uncertainty might spur a fight in the legislature this session if lawmakers prefer to give all or some of the $100 million back to consumers…

Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, a Southern Maryland Democrat who chairs a committee that handles utility issues, said protecting fixed-income and poor residents would be a high priority. "If we've got $100 million, we've got to take care of those folks," he said.

Johanna Neumann, policy advocate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, said she hopes the legislature will resist the temptation to directly refund the sale of pollution credits to consumers.

"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."

Forget for a moment that Sun reporter Gadi Dechter did not bother to mention that Mary PIRG is a left wing advocacy group, it is telling that Mary PIRG is not interested in the least in directly helping fixed-income and poor residents. Rather they would have us follow the false path of energy conservation, when it clearly does not benefit consumers.

The Post is guilty of this deception as well. At the end of the article reporter Lisa Rein, writes:

State regulators are already reviewing conservation plans submitted by Pepco and Baltimore Gas and Electric. The utilities would be allowed to pass on the costs to consumers, but "the idea is that, eventually, everyone will pay less because of these investments in conservation," [Maryland Energy Administration Director, Malcolm] Woolf said.

So there you have it. A CO2 cap and trade scheme, paid for by added consumer costs, to fund consumer energy-conservation programs, that won’t save money because the PSC allows utility companies to charge the same rates no matter the lower level of consumption.

As a reminder, these policy prescriptions and legislative recommendations are straight out of the interim report from the Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC). The MCCC report is the latest cookie cutter report written by Center for Climate Strategies the technical/policy arm of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and avowed alarmist advocacy group. CCS has written the same report for both Arizona and North Carolina.

We don’t know the extent of CCS’ control over the process in Maryland because Tad Aburn, an official at MDE is stonewalling PIA requests in order to protect the secrecy of the commission’s deliberations. According to Governor O’Malley and the MCCC, climate change is a dire emergency. Just don’t ask them about it, because as Tad Aburn himself stated, he has no idea how to reach the CO2 reduction targets.

See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for all the sordid details.

Maryland is a net importer of energy. It needs to expand its ability to generate energy. Unfortunately, the General Assembly put a huge obstacle to that during the special session. The Budget Reconciliation Act repealed a state property tax credit for building power plants, and opened the door for counties to levy taxes on energy generators, effectively making it even more expensive to build generating facilities.

Once you get past the alarmist lie that the planet is in crisis, and that carbon dioxide is not a "pollutant," (going by the green definition of pollutant for CO2 then water vapor is a "pollutant" as well) the way forward is to increase the state's generating capacity.

Playing games with conservation and cap and trade schemes does nothing to improve Maryland's ability to generate energy or address future supply and brown-out issues. We need to seriously contemplate more coal and gas fired plants, hydroelectric, and nuclear generation options.

O'Malley's plan is a shell game, with the utility companies and environmental special interests as his accomplices and the consumer/taxpayer as the mark.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Flood of BS

The Alliance for Global Warming Solutions is holding a rally in Annapolis on January 17 to urge the General Assembly to increase our electric, heating, air conditioning, auto insurance, and gasoline costs, in the name of non existent "crisis."
See the pic at the left that they use to infer that global warming causes more severe hurricanes.
It is the Alex Haley memorial at the Annapolis Waterfront, in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.
Despite this cheap propaganda trick, there is no scientific agreement at all on a link between global warming and hurricane activity. The alarmists flogged this myth in the wake of Katrina.
The funny thing is, that environmentalists themselves a partly to blame for the damage done to New Orleans by Katrina. They won't accept blame for that, nor will the alarmists here in Maryland accept blame for the damage done to the economy and our lives should the General Assembly pass their draconian policy prescriptions.

Lesson from the GOP Lawsuit

I was initially skeptical of the GOP lawsuit seeking to invalidate the tax increases and slots referendum. I was wary of the merits of the plaintiff’s complaints, and that it was a thin veil for attempting to win a political battle in the courts. Constitutional procedure should not override constitutional principle, in this case separation of powers.

As the case wore on, I came to change my mind, a bit. The plaintiff’s complaint did have merit. As Kevin Dayhoff noted:

I went to the hearing with an open mind, however, like many, in December I had my reservations about the strength of the case being brought forward by the plaintiffs when the suit was initially filed. Then as I got away from the coverage of the elite media and began to examine the primary source documents, I began to see the “there - there.”

Actually several dynamics turned me around on the plaintiff’s case. My initial analysis continued to change once the Attorney General’s office began to pitch a fit about deposing the chief clerk of the House of Delegates, Mary Monahan – who has a reputation as a straight-up person. It is my understanding from anecdotal accounts that she was perfectly willing to testify…

The editorial arrogance of the Baltimore Sun, and David Paulson News Network in aping Democratic talking points also forced me to have second thoughts.

The Maryland Constitution, no matter what provision is at issue, is not “much ado about little.”

It is obvious from Mary Monahan’s deposition that the legislature violated Article III Section 25, and there is enough evidence pointing to the forging of documents. We won’t know for sure because the Attorney General refused to investigate the matter.

The hard question for me was if violations did occur, then what is the appropriate remedy? Over the last few years, the General Assembly has run afoul of the law. The courts ruled, the Wal-Mart bill, firing the PSC, and early voting, illegal. In this case however, the laws that the GOP sought to invalidate, however abhorrent, were not illegal.

I believe Judge Stansfield ruled correctly. As shady and underhanded as the actions of Mike Miller and Mike Busch were, the remedy sought by the plaintiffs is indeed “too drastic a notion to accept.” He is right, and conservatives and Republicans should realize the wisdom of that ruling. While the plaintiff’s should be praised for standing up for the constitution, the remedy they sought would run afoul of constitutional principles that separate the legislature and the judiciary.

Herein lies the lesson:

While O’Malley and the Democrats get to keep their tax increases, the public fully smells the awful stench of their shady handling of the special session. Judge Stansfield noted:

the reprehensible nature in which the Legislature conducted itself

…there has clearly been an egregious lack of judgment on the part of the Offices of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates regarding their conduct in failing to abide by constitutionally mandated procedures

…While the Court herein holds that the legislation at issue passes constitutional muster, it feels compelled to observe that if the actions presented by way of deposition are business as usual for the General Assembly, the citizens of Maryland deserve far better…

Furthermore, as O’Malley Watch points out, Mike Miller changed a senate vote on the slots bill, after the fact, to protect a vulnerable Democrat, who wanted to be both a yes man for the governor while simultaneously keeping his anti-slots cred with his constituents.

After, middle of the night tax increases; violations of the constitution; taxpayer-funded payoffs to cronies and financial benefactors; purely political firings; and secrecy surrounding the climate change commission and BRAC committees: the façade is gone.

Tacit in Judge Stansfield’s ruling is that if we are to hold liberal monopoly accountable for their reprehensible actions, the judiciary is not the venue. This is a political battle, which we must fight and win, in the political realm. That is why they can laugh off the lawsuit as “bungled legal reasoning,” or a partisan lawsuit, they know that the courts won’t overstep their bounds and interfere in a political matter.

The only way to hold them accountable is to vote them out of office.

The Pettiness of Mike Miller

Is Mike Miller so powerless that in addition to being reduced to carrying water for the governor, he now has to play cheap games with members of his chamber, who dare to think differently.

No wonder Sen. President Mike Miller couldn't reach Sen. Jim Brochin to
give him the bad news. The night before the General Assembly session began, Brochin stuffed his ears with plugs and switched his cell phone off. Not that Brochin could have heard the ringtone anyway, what with all the racket at the Hannah Montana concert.

The 43-year-old Towson Democrat spent Tuesday night in a sea of shrieking tweens, among them, Brochin's 9-year-old daughter, Katherine...

How could Brochin possibly come back to Earth, much less the dreary business of legislating, after that better-than-The-Boss experience? All he had to do was play his messages late that night upon returning home. The Senate president had left one about Brochin's new seat assignment in the Senate chamber.

The gist, according to Brochin: This is Mike. Just wanted to let you know you're going to be sitting one row back, next to E.J. Pipkin.

The second-term senator's new seat is in the last row, where freshmen usually sit. (Under Senate Rule 115 (b), members are seated in order of seniority.)

Payback for vocally opposing the governor's tax package in last year's special session?

"Let's just say this: independent thought is not encouraged," Brochin said.

Miller did not return a call seeking comment...

You would think that after a judge just called him and Mike Busch on the "reprehensible nature" of their behavior, and their "egregious lack of judgment," Miller would show a little humility.

Then again, that is assuming the man has any at all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pawn of the Republicans

Hat tip to Ken Shepherd at Newsbusters

Ken notes the revealing fact that today's Sun piece by Liz Bowie does not
note Nancy Grasmick's significant financial contributions to the Democratic

The January 10 Baltimore Sun, reporting on an escalating personnel struggle in Annapolis, dutifully noted liberal Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) charge that state school superintendent Nancy Grasmick is a "pawn" of the GOP. Grasmick has served under three governors, two Democrats Govs. Schaefer and Glendening), and Republican Robert Ehrlich.

Yet completely missing from reporter Liz Bowie's article was any mention of Grasmick's historic political ties to Democrats. Indeed, 30 seconds in an online would yield campaign contribution data showing Grasmick has only given money to Democrats.

According to, in the past seven years Grasmick has given money to incumbent Democratic congressmen or congressional candidates such as Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersburger, and John Sarbanes. Grasmick also gave $500 to the state Democratic Party in 1999, the first year of liberal Gov. Glendening's second term. Not once during her tenure was a contribution to a Republican listed.

Shepherd is mistaken on that last point, but it is a distinction without difference when you look at the numbers from the Maryland State Board of Elections' Database, data from which, Open does not have.

According to the MSBE database Nancy Grasmick contributed $11,189 to various Democratic candidates versus $2700 contributed to Republicans.

The last time O'Malley pulled a stunt like this he accused someone of being a pawn he called Ehlrich's PSC, "advocates for big corporate interests." Of course O'Malley's consumer advocates could not stop the 72% rate increases like he said they would, because as in this case, the law is a inconvenient obstacle for O'Malley.

If O'Malley gets a victory in this political battle, it is Maryland public school students who will get the shaft.

Death of Traitor

Former CIA agent and traitor Philip Agee died in Havana Cuba yesterday.

Philip Agee, a former undercover officer with the Central Intelligence Agency whose disillusionment with U.S. policy in support of dictatorial regimes prompted him to name names and reveal CIA secrets, died Monday in Cuba. He was 72.

Agee insisted that publishing the names of fellow case officers was a political act in the "long and honorable tradition of dissidence in the United States" and not an act of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union or any other foreign power.Former colleagues and government officials termed it treason.

In 1979, then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance stripped Agee of his passport. Prompted in large part by Agee's book, Congress in 1982 passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, making it illegal to knowingly divulge the identities of covert CIA officers.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who directed the CIA in 1976-77, accused Agee of identifying Richard Welch, the CIA chief in Athens who was assassinated by Greek terrorists in 1975. Bush maintained in 1989 that by publicly identifying Welch, Agee was responsible for his death. Barbara Bush, the former first lady, repeated the claim in her 1994 autobiography, and Agee sued her for libel. As part of a legal settlement, she agreed to remove the allegation from the paperback edition of her book...

Agee resigned in 1969 and began working on his book. After receiving death threats after the book was published, he moved to London but was expelled after nearly five years. He also was expelled after brief stays throughout Western Europe. He blamed U.S. pressure for making him persona non grata.

He lived in Grenada and Nicaragua before moving back to Hamburg. He was again denied a passport in 1987. Agee also wrote "Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe" (1978) and "On the Run" 1987).

In 2000, he founded Cubalinda, an online travel agency, and encouraged Americans to ignore the decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and vacation on the island.

Agee was a darling of the left in the same tradition as Alger Hiss, and he was just as guilty.

We know from the Mitrokhin Archive and former KGB Counter Intelligence Chief Oleg Kalugin that Agee approached the Soviets with his information but the KGB turned him down. They were too suspicious of him. Agee then approached the Cubans who welcomed him with open arms and shared his information with the KGB.

The CIA support for dictators in Latin America may have been a "hold your nose" policy. However, we know definitively from The World Was Going Our Way, a book based on the information in Mitrokhin Archive that the KGB was actively supporting communist/leftist groups in the same Latin American countries. The Cold War was fully on in Latin America.
Agee chose the wrong side.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

We Have To Destroy This School Board In Order To Save It for the Governor and Our Union

Eric Luedtke at FSP is in full favor of changing a near 100 year old law in order to sack Nancy Grasmick.

Governor O'Malley, Speaker Busch, and Senate President Miller are continuing their calls on Nancy Grasmick to resign for her allegiance to the Bush administration's flawed education policy and her willingness to be an Ehrlich surrogate in the last election (see the State Circle interviews the Sun has up with their general assembly coverage).

So the Post asks Grasmick what she thinks of this. Her response? "Grasmick said Maryland has a long history of 'insulating schools from partisan politics.'" And where did she say this? At the Republicans pre-General Assembly session strategy meeting.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. And Dr. Grasmick apparently believes that she's being non-partisan while schmoozing with her Republican allies in the legislature. Hypocrisy is alive and well.

Umm Grasmick is a Democrat, she has worked under Willy Don, Glendenning, Ehrlich, and now O'Malley. Grasmick refused Ehrlich's invitation to join him on the ticket. Grasmick's attempt to take over the failing Baltimore schools was an attempt to help the student's O'Malley and the corrupt Baltimore machine was and still is failing. Grasmick's sin in this case is to work with O'Malley's political adversary to fix a problem O'Malley was too inept for fix himself as Mayor of Baltimore. We are still looking for those millions of dollars missing from the Baltimore City Public School System.

O'Malley has a history of petty vendettas against those who dared to defy him. Just ask Ed Norris and Allison Asti.

Luedtke is a member of the Board of the Directors of the Montgomery County Education Association and coordinator for the Maryland Teachers Association. So it is no big secret as to why he wants Grasmick out. Grasmick does not toe the teachers union line. His rationale is:

Although the issue isn't putting the Superintendent under the direct control of the governor, but giving the Governor's appointees on the state Board of Education more direct control over the superintendent. I think Grasmick has demonstrated why a Superintendent shouldn't be quite as insulated from elected and appointed policy-makers as they have been in the past. She has led Maryland down a path that has over-emphasized punitive testing and done serious damage to public schools in the process. She needs to be more immediately accountable to the Board, no matter who appointed how many its members.

This begs the question, would Luedtke, under the new situation that he O'Malley, Miller and Busch favor, support the firing of a superintendent that was more in line with his policy prescriptions should a governor want to fire that superintendent. I doubt it.

Apparently, Luedtke missed today's news that Maryland public schools, under Grasmick's leadership ranked third in the nation. I guess in Luedtke's case ignorance really is strength.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Time to Finish the Job

UPDATE: I must also give credit to Delegate John A. Olszewski, Jr. for HB 73, which is similar to SB5, and to Delegate Donna Stiffler for HB60, which strengthens the violations for possessing child pornography. I came across these in a haphazard search of the GA's website. The full House and Senate synopses of filed bills are not available, less than a day before the start of the legislative session.

Senator Nancy Jacobs and Delegate Joe Minnick have filed bills that, if enacted would eliminate diminution credits for child sex offenders. Jacobs bill SB5 and Minnick's bill HB 34 have distinct differences. Minnick's bill also calls for raising the mandatory minimum sentence for first degree rape and first degree sexual offense against a child under 13. Between the two bills there is plenty to strengthen our child sex offender laws.

However, these bills will face the same opposition as Jessica's Law--unscrupulous trial lawyers in the General Assembly who value billable hours and the rights of perverts over strong criminal justice laws. We can only hope that Brian Frosh, chair of Senate Judicial Proceedings committee, won't make proponents of the bill wait five hours to testify as he did last year to those who came to testify on behalf of Jessica's Law.

Here is a brief history of Jessica's Law in Maryland, one that Democrats don't want you to know.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Will O'Malley Out Obama Obama for Hillary?

I touched on the empty, messianic rhetoric surrounding Obama supporters here. It is not a stretch to say that Obama is long on style and short on substance. Roger Simon at Politico contrasted this with Hillary’s more substantive campaign. Liker her or not, the one thing you cannot deny, is that there is a great deal of policy substance to her campaign. Albeit, it is bad policy (one of the reasons she won’t answer questions from reporters) however, unlike Obama there is a there there, with Hillary.

This contrast is reminiscent of our 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Bob Ehrlich campaigned on issues and substance contrasting the differences between himself and O’Malley on the issues. O’Malley played the pious piper, spoke in shallow generalities, demagoguing issues like the BGE rate hike as special interests bilking working families, and that he would stop the rate hike. O’Malley won the election, but like anyone who bothered to research the issue knew, could not stop the rate hike.

Compare Obama’s rhetoric like, “We are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come,” to the rhetoric of O’Malley’s inauguration “One Maryland united by our responsibility to advance the common good.”

Bereft of any grounding in policy and substance, this rhetoric has all the intellectual heft of a bowl of oatmeal.

However, if Hillary’s campaign shifts gears and starts going in for the “unity”and “change” nonsense; no one dishes up that style of empty rhetoric better than Martin O’Malley.

Having said that here is the huge problem I have with the rhetoric of “unity” and “change.” Given the lack of substance, which always accompanies this rhetoric, it begs the question, what change are we unifying for?

Change for change’ sake, without any real sense of where that change will lead to, is a fool’s errand and fraught with more peril than the status quo.

Sadly, you see the Republican candidates, especially Huckabee and McCain, (and my man Mitt too) engaging in the same rhetoric.

In the face of this claptrap, Conservatives should heed William F. Buckley’s charge to, “stand athwart history yelling stop.”

Jonah Goldberg sums it up best:
Don't just do something, stand there. Better to do nothing and be mostly right, than do everything and be almost entirely wrong. To be sure, reforms are needed. New ideas are on our wish list. But, it is not a moment of "change or die." Change or die is a radical position. It emphasizes change, while paying no heed to direction. It values the pile of broken dishes from a rapidly pulled tablecloth over a time consuming, but well-planned, new arrangement. It is at precisely the moment when everyone is saying "change or die" that the Burkean conservative Brooks so often touts says, "change only what is necessary and nothing else." I say it would be better to reject 1 brilliant idea if it means not letting 10 idiotic ones go free upon the land.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tammy Faye Currie

Back in November my Red Maryland colleague strieff noted the self-beclowning of state senator Ulysses Currie when he said, "Lobbyists almost have no influence on the vote."

Currie applied more clown makeup to himself, Tammy Faye Baker style. Speaking at MACO yesterday, Currie stated that backlash from the technology industry will make it "almost impossible" to keep the computer services sales tax from being repealed.

No influence indeed.

I suppose there was no "influence" involved for Currie, in the greased skids for SB 566. This is the law that allowed former state Democratic Party chair and O'Malley crony, Wayne Rogers to circumvent the PSC so his company Synergics Wind Energy LLC, could build a wind farm in a environmentally sensitive area of Garrett County.

Ezra Klein: Prophet of the Messiah

From The American Prospect

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Like Gertude Stein said of Oakland, "there is no there, there."

Egg on the Face at Johns Hopkins

Ideological bias, funding from George Soros, flawed methodology, and possible scientific fraud.

Sounds like the calling cards of global warming alarmists right. However, those are the huge flaws found in the much ballyhooed 2006 Lancet study by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that said over 650,000 Iraqis died due to the US military operations.

National Journal conducted an investigation of the Lancet article and found serious flaws:

George Soros funded the survey. The U.S. authors played no role in data-collection, and did not apply standard anti-fraud measures. The chief Iraqi data-collector had earlier produced medical articles to help Saddam’s anti-sanctions campaign in the 1990s, and said Allah guided the prior 2004 Lancet/Johns Hopkins death-survey. Some of the field surveyors were employed by Moqtada Sadr’s Ministry of Health. The Iraqis’ numbers contain evidence of fakery, and the Lancet did not check for fakery.

Some excerpts from the investigation:

How to explain the enormous discrepancy between The Lancet's estimation of Iraqi war deaths and those from studies that used other methodologies? For starters, the authors of the Lancet study followed a model that ensured that even minor components of the data, when extrapolated over the whole population, would yield huge differences in the death toll. Skeptical commentators have highlighted questionable assumptions, implausible data, and ideological leanings among the authors, Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, and Les Roberts.

Some critics go so far as to suggest that the field research on which the study is based may have been performed improperly -- or not at all. The key person involved in collecting the data -- Lafta, the researcher who assembled the survey teams, deployed them throughout Iraq, and assembled the results -- has refused to answer questions about his methods....

NJ has identified potential problems with the research that fall under three broad headings: 1) possible flaws in the design and execution of the study; 2) a lack of transparency in the data, which has raised suspicions of fraud; and 3) political preferences held by the authors and the funders, which include George Soros's Open Society Institute...

Lafta had been a child-health official in Saddam Hussein's ministry of health when the ministry was trying to end the international sanctions against Iraq by asserting that many Iraqis were dying from hunger, disease, or cancer caused by spent U.S. depleted-uranium shells remaining from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 2000, Lafta authored at least two brief articles contending that U.N. sanctions had caused many deaths by starvation among Iraqi children. In one article, he identified malnutrition as the main contributor to 53 percent of deaths among hospitalized children younger than 2, during a 1997 survey carried out at Saddam Central Teaching Hospital. The article cited no health data from before the sanctions, yet it asserted, "We can conclude from results that the most important and widespread underlying cause of the deterioration of child-health standards in Iraq is the long-term impact of the nonhumanized economic sanction imposed through United Nations resolutions..."

Until this fall, Sadr's party and his Mahdi Army also controlled the health ministry, which employed some of Lafta's researchers...

Both Lancet studies of Iraqi war deaths rest on the data provided by Lafta, who operated with little American supervision and has rarely appeared in public or been interviewed about his role. In May, Lafta and Roberts presented their study to an off-the-record meeting of experts in Geneva, but other attendees declined to describe Lafta's remarks. Despite multiple requests sent via e-mails and through Burnham and Roberts, Lafta declined to communicate with National Journal or to send copies of his articles about Iraqi deaths during Saddam's regime...

Virtually everyone connected with the study has been an outspoken opponent of U.S. actions in Iraq. (So are several of the study's biggest critics, such as Iraq Body Count.) Whether this affected the authors' scientific judgments and led them to turn a blind eye to flaws is up for debate.

Follow the money. Lancet II was commissioned and financed by Tirman, the executive director of the Center for International Studies at MIT. (His most recent book is 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World.) After Lancet I was published, Tirman commissioned Burnham to do the second study, and sent him $50,000. When asked where Tirman got the money, Burnham told NJ: "I have no idea."

In fact, the funding came from the Open Society Institute created by Soros, a top Democratic donor, and from three other foundations, according to Tirman. The money was channeled through Tirman's Persian Gulf Initiative. Soros's group gave $46,000, and the Samuel Rubin Foundation gave $5,000. An anonymous donor, and another donor whose identity he does not know, provided the balance, Tirman said. The Lancet II study cost about $100,000, according to Tirman, including about $45,000 for publicity and travel. That means that nearly half of the study's funding came from an outspoken billionaire who has repeatedly criticized the Iraq campaign and who spent $30 million trying to defeat Bush in 2004.

Partisan considerations. Soros is not the only person associated with the Lancet studies who had one eye on the data and the other on the U.S. political calendar. In 2004, Roberts conceded that he opposed the Iraq invasion from the outset, and -- in a much more troubling admission -- said that he had e-mailed the first study to The Lancet on September 30, 2004, "under the condition that it come out before the election." Burnham admitted that he set the same condition for Lancet II. "We wanted to get the survey out before the election, if at all possible," he said.