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'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


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.

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!”


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.

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

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.


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.


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.