Friday, August 31, 2007

Stadium Worker Economics

Many of my friends here at Maryland Politics have posted/counter-posted in reference to assertions made by Andrew Kujan. The most recent discussion about labor economics has me excited at the opportunity to make a post, as I am somewhat of an economist myself. (When I say somewhat, I mean somewhat--I graduated with a degree (cum laude!) in economics, but was quickly rejected to the PhD economics program at the University of Maryland).

Feeling lonely and left out, I have decided to post on this topic.

Minimum wage, living wage, or any other forced market distortion by the government on wages, necessarily causes something called deadweight loss. Basically, this means that the economy cannot produce the same level of output that it could without the government burden.

If the stadium owners are forced to pay the cleaners more, they will not have as much money and cannot hire the same number of cleaners. Mandated wage increases causes unemployment, it's as simple as that.

The larger point is a more important one to make. Perhaps government or Mr. Kujan believe that helping these stadium workers does just that, and only that. Not true. The whole point of trickle-down economics is that transactions do not happen in an isolated bubble--they affect the entire economy. Let's say Peter Angelos has to pay $3 more per hour to clean his stadium. Then let's say he raises ticket prices to cover that increase. In a bubble, workers would be making more money and the rich game-goers that can afford the tickets aren't affected that much because they have the money. Even ignoring the fairness argument, this is not good. If the stadium goers used to spend $500 a month on game tickets and $500 on other things, they may now have to spend $550 on tickets and only have $45o left for other things.

The workers--poor, middle class, and rich--in the 'other thing' industries become worse off, because demand for their stuff just went down by $50. This is why no amount of central planning will ever be beneficial for an economy--it is impossible to plan an economy because you would have to know the exact preferences of every person in that economy.

When the government tries to help one specific group of people, it hurts other groups of people. Such a horrible equity problem can only be avoided with a free-market.

As for the assertion that Maryland's liberal policies have made us the wealthiest state, give me a break. First of all, we need to take into account cost of living. If we have the highest median household income, but our real estate prices are the highest in the country, then our real (price-level-adjusted) wealth is significantly lower. Every measure done in every study, ever, shows that the openness of an economy is directly and positively correlated with that economy's success.

Ok, now I feel included.

More below the fold.

AA GOP Central Committee: The Big Move

Well, you can forget about the big Central Committee meeting on Wednesday being on 15 West Street:

The rift among county Republicans is expected to erupt next week, and the GOP expects so many spectators at its meeting that the event has been moved to a larger room.

Rumors and e-mails have been circulating for weeks that the tectonic plates within the county's Republican Central Committee are about to collide. And some board members are expected to oust chairman Mike Collins at the group's next meeting.

A coalition of the committee's ultra-conservative and liberal-leaning Republicans has reportedly conspired to call Mr. Collins' leadership into question at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis.

Why we're reading about this in The Capital as opposed to finding out about it from anybody connected to the party I will leave to your imagination....


More below the fold.

Velvet Rope Revolution

This is not surprising:

Someday soon, visitors to the Arundel Center will be guided by movie-theater style ropes to the security desk, where they will need clearance to visit the floor where County Executive John R. Leopold works.

The county plans to spend about $15,000 to close security loopholes at the county's office building, a project that includes installing security cameras and regulating access to the elevator.

While the move is similar to security measures in other Maryland counties, critics said it cuts off access to our elected officials.

Police detectives who provide a security detail to the county executive suggested the tighter rules.

County spokesman Marina Harrison said the county will be eliminating "gaps that should have been closed long ago."

Look, I think we can all agree that some limited security measures are important, even in buildings seemingly as low a priority target as the Arundel Center. But isn't this a little bit extreme, even if unsurprising that it originates in the administration of somebody as cut off from the real world as John Leopold?


More below the fold.

The Unseen Side of Government Overregulation

There has been a lot of discussion in recent days about economic fairness and wages when it comes to workers at the stadiums. Classical Values has a fascinating piece on the government getting involved in places where it had no business in the first place (in this case, selling beer in Pennsylvania). And how, once government gets involved, real people are going to get screwed one way or the other....


More below the fold.

Meeting Expectations

As I expected, Kujan misses my point completely:

Yes, yes they do. I never claimed they didn't. I claimed that they only like seeing the already well off making more money. Griffiths doesn't dispute this fact, because he cannot.
Which of course is hogwash. If I only liked seeing the already well off making more money, I wouldn't have what I have, now would I?

Incidentally, Kujan continues to miss several other points here that I am trying to make, and frankly it isn't even worth my time to try to explain it anymore because I'd have better luck explaining astrophysics to a platypus, except the platypus might keep up better....

Let me say this slowly: if the workers are concerned about being better paid at their job, find a better paying job. Just like Kujan decides not to go to a high-dollar Democratic shindig people have the freedom of choice; perhaps they should, you know, use it.


More below the fold.

The Free Lunch Budget

David Lublin at Maryland Politics Watch posts a letter from fourteen "progressive" (i.e. far left) state senators to Governor O'Malley demanding that your taxes be raised to fund lots of things that they like.

However, we are concerned that too much of the recent debate has focused on the needs of the government, rather than on the needs and aspirations of our people. The budget is a moral document that reflects our community's priorities and values. Our constituents want fiscal policies that will protect our quality of life and shape a decent future for all of our children and grandchildren.
Apparently rewarding hard work and entrepreneurship are not among the moral values that this bunch think are worth emphasizing in the budget. Global warming, class warfare, and a stunning ignorance of economics are presented front and center.

More below the fold.

12 Disinterested Men... and Women

I think Sun columnist Dan Rodricks gets it just bassackwards.

In today's column he takes a single juror to task for not engaging in a remake of 12 Angry Men at a recent trial in Baltimore.

The story, in brief, is that a young, black man is facing a prison term for firearms possession. The evidence and situation are ambiguous. The first vote reveals a 9-3 split for acquittal with some pretty hardened positions. The jury looks deadlocked but the judge sends them back to keep trying. Finally one of the undecided votes says he's got tickets for a vacation and wants to finish up. The juror who was the hardest set on conviction says she'll vote to acquit to let the guy go on vacation. This leaves Mr. Rodricks' correspondent suddenly alone in demanding more deliberation. He caves and votes to acquit.

What exactly is the "travesty" here? Is the criminal justice system broken, as Jacobson suggests, or do jurors - some jurors, anyway - just kiss off jury duty as a nuisance?

Maybe the case against the defendant was flimsy. But that should have been the reason the jury acquitted him - not plane tickets, not some bad-penny logic about criminals turning up again.

And Jake Jacobson, who cared enough about this to call here and tell about it, should have said as much when he had the chance.

Come on, Jake.
More follows after the jump.

I find it hard to fault Jake here. Not that what he did was right or honorable, but then again bashing one's head against a concrete wall isn't all that right or honorable either. Jake did what we all do when confronting an insurmountable obstacle that really doesn't affect us directly, he followed the path of least resistance.

In Jake's defence, he was facing impossible odds. A juror who declares, "I'm not putting no black man behind bars for five years," was a pretty significant hint that reasoning and logic were going to be whipped like a rented mule in that jury room. When that is combined with eight other votes for acquittal the worst that was going to happen to the skell in question was a hung jury and another trial before a very similar jury. The State's Attorney probably hadn't bet his mortgage payment on winning this case from the way it is described.

The guy who slept through part of the testimony just kicked the can down the road, "If he's a bad guy, he'll be back," opined this Solomon. Sure he will. After he's killed or maimed someone.

What went on in that jury room, however, is in a way axiomatic for the endemic violence in Baltimore. The citizens most affected by the violence, black men and women, in this case were simply unwilling to entertain the idea that the defendant was guilty. At some level these people have made a prudential decision that finding the defendant not guilty is more important than the lives and safety of themselves, their friends, and families. It is Maslow's Heirarchy turned on its head.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Baltimore, and so many other cities, are broken. It isn't money or education. It is a poverty of the spirit that elects crooks to citywide office and sees it duty to right perceived racial injustice as superior to the rule of law when they are on juries.

I don't know how you fix that. I don't know if it can be.

So Rodricks was wrong. The best Jake could hope for would be to create a triumph of form over substance while needlessly harrassing his fellows. He can be faulted for not buying a clue on the first day of deliberations but not for his final action.

More below the fold.

He's Got the Spending Part Down Pat

Wayne Gilchrest is promising more pork spending in a fairly transparent attempt to boost his sagging electoral chances. From the Delmarva Daily Times:

Maryland Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest on Monday vowed to push for federal dollars to repair Somerset County commercial marinas, calling upkeep of the work ports crucial to the economies of the watermen's region.

In particular, Gilchrest wants U.S. Senate support of a $150,000 bill approved in the House of Representatives to overhaul the Broad Street dock on the Crisfield waterfront, the county's busiest and a major port for heavy machinery and vehicles including fire engines and other emergency equipment bound for offshore Smith Island in Somerset and Tangier Island.
I'm sure this is important and all, but I don't see anymore reason why the federal government should be repairing a dock.

I also doubt that there are a lot of "heavy machinery and vehicles including fire engines and other emergency equipment" bound for Smith and Tangier Islands but to show I'm a good sport I'd support repairing the portion of the dock that is used to send fire engines out there.

Gilchrest is also threatening to jerk a knot in the tail of the US Army Corps of Engineer District over the non-dredging of Wenona Harbor on Deal Island:

"I will call the district engineer; (the Corps) needs to look into the records because (Wenona) is a commercial waterway," said Gilchrest, adding that the Corps does not prioritize recreational marinas for dredging. "It is scheduled to be dredged -- it hasn't been dredged in 10 years, and should be top on the Corps list."
Yeah, yeah, whatever. I guess he's hoping no one will ask the obvious questions of where Gilchrest has been during those past 10 years and why he's doing something now.

More below the fold.

Slowly Shakes His Head

At the risk of getting Andrew Kujan's panties all twisted up I have to comment on another untoward going on in that lush, safe, idyll that is the City of Baltimore. Mayor Sheila Dixon's former campaign manager, Dale Clark, has been charged by State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh with failing to pay income taxes for the years 2002-2004. I don't know if federal charges are pending but rarely to tax cheats stop with anything short of the full monty.

The Maryland state prosecutor charged Mayor Sheila Dixon's former campaign chairman yesterday with failing to file state income tax returns for three of the six years in which he earned $500,000 working without a contract as the Baltimore City Council's computer consultant.
This was not just any $500,000 contract. This was a no-bid $500,000 contract issued by Sheila Dixon's office. This was a contract issued, wait for it, without a contract.
The state probe began in March 2006 after The Sun revealed that Clark's computer company, Ultimate Network Integration, had been paid nearly $600,000 over six years, mostly without a contract. The Sun also revealed that Dixon's chief of staff, Beatrice Tripps, in a 2001 e-mail exchange with Clark, discussed a plan to keep payments under $5,000.
Sheila Dixon's election will demonstrate the axiom that people get the government they vote for. In this case a racialist kleptocracy. But if we hear the words "plea agreement" in the next month or so in conjunction with this case, the next couple of years could provide us with a lot of good material as a Dixon administration slowly unravels under the weight of its own corruption.

More below the fold.

Nelson Reichart Goes To Court

Nelson Reichart, the guy who was fired for attempting to defend the land scams in Queen Anne County that lined the pockets of various O'Malley supporters while doing nothing to preserve open space is suing the state.

He alleges that he was fired because he divulged how land sales were negotiated by the state during an interview authorized by his agency and his firing is part of a pattern of firing white, male, Republicans in order to replace them with people not so white, male, and Republican.

As O'Malley Watch points out the virtue of Mr. Reichart's lawsuit is that it will inevitably procede to a court trial where details of the land deal will be made part of the public record.

Reichart's firing was badly handled. He was a long time civil servant with an impeccable history and a mere 13 months away from pension eligibility. Firing him leaves the indelible impression of vindictiveness and probably drew more attention to the subject than would have been the case otherwise. It will be one of those hasty decisions O'Malley will live to regret.

More below the fold.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A not particularly insightful comment on economics

Andrew Kujan:

There really is nothing scarier to a conservative that someone who is not already rich making more money.
Which is patently absurd. Conservatives like seeing people make money. What conservatives don't like to see is for government to muck everything up by artificially inflating wages to the point that it creates inflation, thus bringing the value of everybody's dollar down.

Then again Kujan proves why liberals can't run government; a basic lack of understanding of economic environments:
First, those companies would in no way be affected by raising the salaries of a particular group of workers at Camden Yards. An apparently every restaurant, zoo, and "firm" would go out of business in Maryland if 11 people get a $3 raise.
Of course what Kujan fails to realize is that the artificial inflation by government of the salaries of the stadium workers creates an unequal environment for other businesses. That means if government mandates the inflation of salaries by $3 an hour, those businesses either will hire less skilled workers or will need to inflate their wages by $3. And that price gets passed onto the consumer. That creates inflation. That diminishes purchasing power. And that means nothing really changes in the end other than creating more, not less, poverty.

Urban liberals need to realize that you just can't mandate poverty away by having government muscle its way into situations it does not belong...


More below the fold.

Is Sheila Dixon Using the Police Commisioner Post As A Political Ploy?

Sheila Dixon. Despite the only poll that's out, I suspect she's not really that far ahead in this race. Isn't it odd that she floats her finalists for police commissioner just two weeks out of the election? Then conveniently, it's between the black and the white guy. Does anyone else see this a merely a political ploy to attract voters across racial lines? Playing her hand too soon may alienate a bloc of voters. Personally, I think she knows who she's going to pick. This begs the question though: why is this being floated at this time? It makes no sense whatsoever. If anything, it makes her appear either evasive or indecisive. That said, this so-called looming decision stands only to hurt Sheila among likely voters. Granted, none of her challengers have called her out on it. I view this as another odd move by a very odd lady. How will the voters of Baltimore react in 12 days?


More below the fold.

Who Funds Who?

You may remember one of our favorite progressives, Andrew Kujan, cast a nonsensical aspersion towards our “insane brand of conservatism” and little blog of “25 percenters.” Kujan wondered whether Eagle Publishing has any financial interest in Red Maryland because the man who founded Red Maryland, Streiff also posts at Redstate, which is owned by Eagle Publishing. In Kujan’s mind this is obviously another sinister plot by the evil right wing conspiracy. Bill Streiff’s response gave Kujan a little dose of reality here. Sorry to break it to you Andrew, none of us get paid to do this, unless one considers enduring snarky accusations of racism and the twisting of our words out of context, payment.

Now that we know there are no vile corporate machinations tugging the strings here, I thought I would look a bit deeper into our friends over at Free State Politics. Free State Politics is funded by a grant from BlogPAC. BlogPAC is a political action committee formed to coordinate the activities of progressive bloggers and raise money for political candidates. It was founded by none other than Kos himself, Markos Moulitsas Zuñiga. Democratic operative Matt Stoller runs the site, nothing unseemly there. Stoller is a sycophant of George Soros. Nothing sinister about that either. However, Stoller had high praise for Soros’ definition of the war on terror as a “false metaphor”. Stoller said, “I think he’s right… The war on terror just doesn't exist any more than a child's imaginary friend exists.” Yes the attacks of 9/11, USS Cole, the Kenya/Tanzania embassies, and the Khobar Towers are all imaginary and the victims that were not murdered are gearing up for the Labor Day weekend!

Also, BlogPac and Kos have come under some sharp criticism, from their side of the political spectrum, for their advertising shenanigans, purging of local progressive blogs that do not toe-the-Kos line (see more groupthink here and here), and Google Bombing the 2006 election.

The bloggers at Free State Politics may or may not agree with Stoller’s moonbat ideas, and the purging of dissenters from Kossak groupthink, although I think most of them do. It would please me to receive a response that they don’t. However, they should at least understand that this is the prevailing view of those who fund their website. In short, Andrew Kujan should be more concerned about who FSP IS associated with instead of who Red Maryland is not.

More below the fold.

Actually, Tom, we don't

Maryland liberal leaders are in a tizzy trying to figure out what to do to save state homeowners, now facing foreclosure, from themselves.

The seemingly omnipresent superlib Tom Perez put it this way:

"We need to prevent people from getting into loans that set them up forfailure," Maryland's secretary of labor, licensing and regulation, Thomas E.Perez, said yesterday at a hearing in Annapolis.

Actually, Tom, we don't.

One of the central fronts on the ideological war between liberals and conservatives is the notion of personal responsibility. We see it play out in the smoking debate, the effort to outlaw transfats, work requirements for welfare, etc. etc.

Liberals have a paternalistic view of us all, specifically that we cannot tie our own shoes without them. They really believe that only the government, that well known bastion of common sense and efficiency, can save us from ourselves or worse the bogeymen corporations praying upon uspoor saps for (gasp!) profit.

Papa Perez is a perfect example. Homeowners who signed up for these mortgages are just victims of "predatory lenders" and the Government (funded by the real saps who manage to work and pay mortgages they can afford) needs to ride in and save the day.

More below the fold. (Really good stuff too!).

The low mortgage rates and soaring property values Marylanders have seen over the last several years fueled a massive increase in people who otherwise could never afford to buy a home to do so. Some of these loans had steep increases in interest rates and monthly payments after a couple of years. With rising home values this was of little concern because refinancing was readily available. It is important to note also that this particular crisis is having a far lesser effect on Maryland than most of the country largely because our property values have not taken the same hit.

In too many cases now, however, that no longer appears to be the case.

That is bad news for lenders and investors who took risks in lending money to people on terms they should have known would exceed their ability to pay and which were collateralized by property that no longer secures the debt.

It is also bad news for would be homeowners who took on obligations they could not afford but who otherwise would be in the same position in which they are now forced to return, renters with no immediate hope of home ownership. But these folks assumed this risk, which were fully disclosed, and they really have no one to blame but themselves.

A taxpayer funded bailout, at a time when we already cannot afford the crazy spending habits of our liberal masters, will only reward bad behavior and will do nothing ultimately to help those in this mess.

Also, greater regulation will severely limit, if not destroy, the sub-prime mortgage industry which has helped to over 90% of mortgagees who meet their obligations increase their wealth and financial security by making home ownership a reality.

Sadly, the Papa Perez viewpoint is in control in Annapolis. Bad policy is sure to follow. Just remember we told you so.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

GOP Bylaw Amendments: California Dreamin'

David Kyle notes that Debbie Belcher's proposed language comes from the platform of the California Republican Party. And it is. Lifted word for word.

Because things are working so swimmingly for the California Republicans, you know...


More below the fold.


It's that time again. My car is due for it's semi annual emissions inspection. Personally, I wish people would see this program for the money grab that it is. Besides the money, the program exists to appease a vocal group of environmental extremists. I actually wish they'd just add the $14 to my vehicle registration and waste it on a phony environmental awareness program. That way, I wouldn't be subjected to taking time out of my busy schedule to sit in a long line of cars waiting to be inspected. If you think about it, it's actually harming the environment as you sit idling for that 1/2 hour.

Then, once your car is due up, you're ejected from your vehicle and ordered to a waiting room where they continually play this propaganda video about how important the VEIP program is. Heck, if it's so important, then why are residents of the lower Eastern Shore exempted from the program? Could it be that way back when their elected officials said "not in our neighborhood?" There are also other exceptions for older model vehicles as well as vehicles driven under a certain number of miles.

Anyway, I thought I hit jackpot today. I drive up and there's no wait. I pull right up and I notice the woman signal me to another bay. I start to drive in and she comes to my car and smiles. "We can't test you today. We don't have power". If only the power would never come back on in that place.


More below the fold.

Don't Know Much About History


FSP's eminent historian Issac Smith took umbrage with my post last week concerning the Left's ostrich act concerning the tragic consequences of its actions during the Vietnam era and what they now advocate in Iraq. A fairly long post was required to respond to Smith's bumper sticker argument. This is quite typical of the left, it takes a paragraph to debunk what they say in one snarky sentence. So I posted the response on my own blog The Main Adversary.

If new evidence about the Vietnam War and details about the known but unpublicized history of the anti-war left interest you, please check it out.

More below the fold.

Gregory Kane on "What Black Men Think"

Baltimore Sun columnist reviews, in a way, a new documentary called What Black Men Think. It is well worth the reading.

One thing liberals have succeeded in is making racialism socially acceptable, well for non-white groups - they are still a bit dodgy on championing the KKK despite one of its members being president pro tem of the Senate. And using a chain of anointed "leaders" to espouse a particular set of dysfunctional values (as a thought exercise try to remember the last time you heard a liberal refer to a "white leader") they have established a fairly effective regime of thought policing in those groups.

The shortest time period known to man may very well be the span between the words "black Republican" and "Uncle Tom."

The conservative message of smaller government, self reliance, and hard work is what has made the United States a world leader. Those messages resonate in black and Hispanic communities. Take a drive by a construction site if you have doubts, or ride the Metro at 5:45 in the morning. Our message isn't reaching these groups as much because we, conservatives and Republicans, have conceded those votes to the Democrats as it has to do with the message, our movement, or our party.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GOP Bylaw Amendments: The Bizarre

Debbie Belcher's Purpose of....well, I'm not really sure:
Debbie's concerns about the Oath of Office and multiple voting are accurate. You can read all of her comments here. However, this is where things fly off the rail:

Section 1. Purpose.
The Party exists to secure honest and responsible government, founded on our belief in the worth and dignity of every person.

Add the Section below to follow the above:
We, the members of the Maryland Republican Party, believe in the inalienable, natural rights of each individual as endowed by our Creator, including the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. We agree with our nation's founders that government is instituted to protect those rights and will oppose all efforts to interfere with their legitimate exercise. The Republican Party is committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the
United States, which is the law of the land, and further to interpreting the Constitution in its original intent as written by the Founding Fathers. The Republican Party recognizes that the United States is a republic, governed by laws enacted by elected representatives pledged to protect the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights

The Republican Party, from its inception, and under the leadership of its first President, Abraham Lincoln, has championed justice, equal rights, and opportunity for all, regardless of race, religion, gender or national origin. We are proud that our President, George W. Bush, has put into action our messages of hope, opportunity, family values, and individual rights; which is an inclusive message for all who love freedom, believe in individual rights and responsibility, and believe in government of the people.
There are so many things here that are just incredible to see in writing. The fact of the matter is that Debbie's comments are nice, until you remember that the Republican Party is not an instrument of religion. We are not the party of a particular President (certainly not one who has turned his back on many of our basic conservative principles).

Our purpose as a party is exactly what the current purpose says it: to secure honest and responsible government. And beyond that, to ensure that we are a strong nation with a limited central government. Or, as I noted in May:
It is time that our party reject those issues that divide us as conservatives, and unite around those core issues that bring together all wings of the Republican Party. We must bill willing to embrace fiscal responsibility, particularly when it comes to eliminating pork barrel projects. We must be willing to reduce the size of government in order to ensure to contain government only in the areas where it belongs. We must protect our national security, in order to protect us from foreign nations and from the presence of illegal aliens. And we must ensure that we are committed to upholding all of our Constitutional rights.
We do not want a government based on whatever Belcher's statement is supposed to mean. Her comments indicates that she prefers a party based less on principle and more on buzzwords that are meant to convey a party that is far to the right of the mainstream Republican voter.

Sure, it may sound cute now, but a statement of purpose should represent we as Republicans want to stand for today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now. We are the party of liberty and limited government. Sometimes, it seems like we forget this.


More below the fold.

GOP Bylaw Amendments: The 800-pound Gorilla

The Party shall not, without the prior approval by at least a two-thirds affirmative vote of the State Executive Committee, contribute money or in-kind aid to any candidate for any public or party office except the nominee of the Republican Party or a candidate who is unopposed in the Republican primary after the filing deadline for that office. Nothing in this section shall preclude any member of the State Central Committee from personally contributing money or in-kind aid to a candidate in a Republican primary or Party election.
And there it is right there. A potential systemic shift in the way the Maryland Republican Party conducts its elections. With a two-thirds vote of the State Executive Committee, the Party can anoint the chosen one in any primary election it desires.

The Republican Party is, ostensibly, the party of ideas. We are the party of the people. We are the party of individual accomplishment and achievement. Upon passage of this bylaw amendment, we wipe all of that away. Instead of being a party based on principle we become a party based on access, on relationships, and on cliques. Get 26 people to go your way, and the (potential) cash and organization of the Republican Party come with it. It is no longer about ideas, and about support, and about community, but about cash, and contacts, and having West Street on your side.

And undoubtedly, such a proposal at the state level would then lead to proposals being bandied about at the County level. Given the lack of leadership displayed here in Anne Arundel County, doesn't that bother you a bit?

The proposal to endorse candidates is wholly inappropriate for any party, much less one that is strives to be a meritocracy. It should and it must be defeated.


More below the fold.

GOP Bylaw Amendments: The Bad

We addressed the (generally) good portions of the bylaw proposals in our previous post. However, there are some issues of concern with these proposed amendments:

1. Endorsement of Candidates in the Primary
The 800-pound gorilla in the room. We're going to save this for separate post.

2. Central Committee Members can be removed by the State Executive Committee if they fail to take or abide by the Oath of Office

There seems to be little reason, if any, for the State Executive Committee to step in and remove a member of a local Central Committee. The local Central Committees are elected by the voters of the jurisdiction in which they represent. What is even stranger is the fact that the Oath of Office is not listed in any documents that have been publicly presented to date. Lord only knows what these Central Committee members would be asked to be pledging an oath to.

3. The "Brian Harlin Rule"
Basically, the rule would prohibit any member of the Central Committee from receiving campaign funds. I don't necessarily disagree with the concept of the rule but, once again, it turns into a debacle because of how it is executed. It is clearly targeted at one individual in order to punish that individual for whatever reason, and smacks as somewhat of a Bill of Attainder. And besides, who is the party to tell a businessperson that they cannot participate in party affairs due to the nature of their business? Does that not sound like something the Democrats would try to pull?

4. The Oath
Numerous references are made to this newfangled Oath, and as I mentioned earlier nobody actually explains what this oath is. Do we really think the party needs to be taking a "Loyalty Oath" to the party? Does that not seem a touch Orwellian? Because that's what this sounds like. The only oath, as far as I am concerned, that Central Committee members need to take is one in which they swear or affirm to execute their office.. Whatever other oath the party comes up with is likely inappropriate (and several Anne Arundel Central Committee members take issue with the seeming lack of an oath here and here).

5. Salary of Executive Director and Staff
The bylaw proposal would allow the Chairman of the Party to hire new Executive Directors and Staff Members and get approval of their salaries and benefits packages by the State Executive Committee only if the salary and benefits increase. Would it really hurt us to have some oversight by the Executive Committee in this regard?

More below the fold.

GOP Bylaw Amendments: The Good...Generally

Well upon review of the proposed bylaw amendments, (some of which are generally technically amendments), the substantive ones generally break down three ways. Some amendments are very good amendments. Some amendments are very bad amendments. And one amendment/proposal is completely out of far right field. We'll break them into individual posts.

You can view the entire proposed new bylaws in an annotated version here, the recommendations of the Bylaw Review Committee here, and view comments from Anne Arundel Central Committee members here and here.

1. Prohibiting Central Committee members from supporting non-Republicans in partisan elections
This just makes common sense. We cannot have Republican Central Committee members publicly stumping for Democrats as we have seen here in District 31. I do not necessarily, however, think the provision referring to penalties set forth by the State Central Committee is the way to go, as these matters should be dealt with first and foremost at the local level. But this proposal only works if the proviso for primary elections are removed. That is a whole different ball of wax, but including the proviso of supporting "official" candidates in the primary could really gum the works up.

2. Introduction of Resolutions
This is really inside baseball stuff here. Basically, it would remove a provision require a resolution to go through the Resolutions Committee before it is submitted for discussion at a party convention. Common sense stuff here.
Unfortunately, these are the only revisions which can pass as even reasonably good things...


More below the fold.

GOP Bylaw Amendments: The Email

As I noted yesterday, Mike Collins sent out and extensive, detailed email late Monday night detailing the situation regarding some proposed amendments to the Bylaws of the Maryland Republican Party. First things first, let's display Mike's email. Then, in another post, I will come back with some analysis and comment (Crossposted):

Fellow Republicans:

This is a long explanation of some of the turmoil surrounding proposed changes to our By-Laws. This is important to all Republicans, and I urge you to read this email and the attached documents.

There has been a lot of chatter about proposed changes to the Maryland State Republican Party by-laws. In particular, there is some concern about a proposal to allow the party to give endorsements and material support to select candidates. In an email last week, the Executive Director characterized as 'misleading' comments that the changes would allow pre-primary endorsements.

In order to clarify the issues, I have attached several documents that were emailed out after the State Party convention. As you may recall, a member of the House of Delegates falsely accused me of sending confidential party information to the press. So I would like to call your attention to the Bylaws Committee Report that is marked "Confidential." It was marked that way prior to the convention so its contents would not be shared before the convention with Republicans or others outside the Central Committee. It has subsequently been briefed in public and emailed out by John Flynn on May 21, 2007 to a large list, so privilege is no longer attached.

At present, there is no mechanism in our by-laws that allows the State Party to take sides in contested primaries. Any such support in prior elections was in violation of our policies and should have been addressed. But the proposed by-laws change does not prohibit endorsing candidates in a contested primary. It actually creates a mechanism where the Party can endorse candidates and provide material support to select candidates in contested primaries so long as .666 of the County Chairmen agree. This provision gives power to central committee chairmen outside our county to horse trade in smoke-filled rooms and decide which candidates to endorse and to whom to provide material support. Please read the proposed by-laws change and see how it can be used, not how it is being sold.

There are other by-laws proposals that are controversial as well. One would create an oath. As you will see from the by-laws, this oath is not defined, but appears in several locations in the proposed by-laws. Violation of this undefined oath carries penalties, including removal of Central Committee members. At present, our Clerk of Courts, Bob Duckworth swears in all newly elected members at the first convention. Despite this, there is a proposed by-laws change that would create an additional undefined oath. Again, chairman from outside our county would now have the authority to shape your elected Central Committee membership. Please read the proposals. Also read the comments from our Central Committee members.

There are provisions to remove members who support candidates against Republicans in contested elections. I personally like this provision, but it is getting a cool reception from folks who have supported non-Republicans over Republicans in the past.

There are other proposed changes as well which smack of a power-grab by 15 West Street. One proposal would allow the Chairman of the State Party to order up meetings of county central committees at his whim.

Another by-laws change would reduce financial oversight of the Executive Board, by allowing the Chairman to hire staff up without approval up to the highest levels done previously, regardless of changes in the financial or political climate. This is particularly sensitive, as our chairman hired five full-time staff members, with a payroll of more than a quarter million dollars, without the required prior approval of the Executive Board. The compensation of the Executive Director, who chaired the by-laws review committee, is directly effected by this change, and a conflict of interest is apparent.

One proposed by-laws change has been dubbed "The Brian Harlan Rule." As you know, Brian Harlan owns the GOP Shoppe. He is very well thought of and was asked to stand for Second Vice Chairman of the party a couple years ago. The new by-laws change would prevent anybody from serving as an officer of the Maryland GOP if they receive remuneration for work on any campaigns. This by-laws change appears to target one person—Brian Harlan—to keep him out of the Party leadership.

There has been some muted discussion about developing a State and County party platform. This is coming from social conservatives who want to put abortion, gay marriage, and other divisive issues front and center in our party. At present, our Party stands on "I Am A Republican Because …"

I think it is appropriate that we have a party coalesced around the 90% of issues that unite us, rather than the 10% that divide us. Sadly, some would like to fight Republicans over the 10% issues where we are not in complete agreement. I think that is bad for our party. In addition to developing a social conservative party platform, there is an attempt by some to use the by-laws review to embed the social issues in the by-laws.

The Anne Arundel County Central Committee reviewed these proposed by-laws changes at our July meeting and submitted our comments to the State party. I have attached comments that Jerry Walker put in pdf format from our chatroom discussions. I have also added Debbie Belcher's comments that she sent separately, and recently emailed to a wide audience.

The proposed by-laws changes are not some intramural game for the Central Committee. They are the rules that govern Republican Party politics, and they effect you. Please take a few moments to get acquainted with these proposals and voice your opinion. Again, if you have any questions on the by-laws, our public deliberations, or any other issue, please contact me directly.


Mike Collins
Republican State Central Committee
Of Anne Arundel County

More below the fold.

This week in transit failure...

Once again, why I can't stand American public transportation:

Smoke poured into Metro subway tunnels again last night, a day after an unprecedented and unexplained series of such incidents. Baffled officials began to consider the possibility that the events were more than mere accidents.

"This is not normal," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said. "This is highly, highly irregular."

Asked whether he suspected terrorism, Catoe said no. But he added: "Could it be something else? Everything now is suspicious."

Asked whether he suspected sabotage, he said, "I don't know the answer to that question."

The system reopened Tuesday at 5 a.m., and Metro officials said trains were running normally, with no service disruptions or problems.

Yesterday's events, like Sunday's, came just after the height of the evening rush, halting train travel on part of the Green Line in the District and much of the Blue and Yellow lines in Alexandria and in Arlington and Fairfax counties. At one point, a Metro spokeswoman said, seven trains lost power in the Blue and Yellow Line tunnels south of the Pentagon.

The chaotic situation forced thousands of irritated and bewildered passengers to disembark from stopped trains and use shuttle buses or search for other ways to complete trips home that, in some cases, stretched hours longer than usual. Well after 10 p.m., there was no service between the Pentagon and Braddock Road stations on the Blue and Yellow Lines. The U Street/Cardozo Station on the Green Line in the District was closed by smoke from about 7:20 to 8:40 p.m.

Officials provided some explanation for the shutdowns but could not provide a detailed basis for much of what happened. "We're at a loss to identify the root cause of the problem," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

The Washington Metro may be one of the least efficient, least effective, bass ackwards organizations ever to be stood up in the history of the planet, and continued incidents like these just goes to further perpetuate that image...


More below the fold.

Paging Cross Canadian Ragweed...

...because I am, allegedly, a Carny Man! Go read is comments there, I am choosing not to post it here.

Once again, the racial politics of the left. "Lefty" here tries to play my opposition to illegal immigration as racial politics and carny games. Which is kind of incredible because the entire crux of the argument has nothing to do with skin color, or the budget, or any of the other things the left postulates that this is about. It is the left that wants to make a racial issue of of this. I merely want to see the borders controlled so that no illegal immigrants of any race, color, or creed get in. All we need to do is to start enforcing the border and give illegal immigrants who are here an incentive to do the right thing, for once. It's not about nativism, it's not about racism, it's not about any of the crap that the Urban Liberals want to say it's about.

That's what makes this comment from "Lefty"...:

Illegal immigrants are people, people with families who are part of our community. The vast majority of them don't break the law, unintentionally funny because, a rational person might surmise, an illegal immigrant already broke the law. That's why we call them illegal immigrants.

Once again though this always comes back to the lowest common denominator. The left plays racial politics because they are losing the battle of ideas.


More below the fold.

Rule of Law for Thee But Not For My Crony


Martin O’Malley’s sincere concern for the environment stops at the water’s edge (pun fully intended) when it comes to lining the pockets of his phony environmentalist rent-seeking cronies.

The details of the shady Kudner Land deal are now coming to light, thanks to top notch reporting by Travis Dunn at the Easton Star Democrat (subscription required) and publicity from O’Malley Watch.

One other thing to remember when looking at this sketchy land purchase, is that this same Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to deny a wetlands permit to developer K. Hovnanian for their proposed Four Seasons development on Kent Island. O’Malley and Peter Franchot voted no, Nancy Kopp voted yes. The BPW denied the permit even though Hovnanian followed all laws and regulations required in the planning. Both O’Malley and Franchot explained that their votes turned on concerns about the development’s environmental impact on the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding tributaries. O’Malley said, “They have jumped through every hoop…but this is not a canine hurdle exercise.” No governor, it is not. It is the rule of law and one should expect the man charged to “bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the Constitution and Laws thereof” to fulfill that oath even when it contradicts his own pet policy agendas and payoffs to political allies. Even though she had reservations about the development’s impact on the bay, Nancy Kopp at least expressed an interest in upholding the rule of law saying “I'm not happy about it in my heart either, but it is important to apply the laws and the regulations in a consistent way for all people.”

Consistency however, is not a concern, when connected O’Malley cronies like David Sutherland want to develop environmentally sensitive land. They need not jump through the dog hoops of laws and regulations, when O’Malley can run a dog and pony show at the Board of Public Works to land them a sweetheart deal at taxpayer expense.

Another fine example of what O’Malley Watch has deliciously dubbed O’Malley Operating Procedure Standards (OOPS).

More below the fold.

Wayne Gilchrest Airbrushes History

Michael Swartz writing at Monoblogue describes the recent meeting of the Wicomico County Republican Committee and a cameo appearance by our local windsock Wayne Gilchrest. Please read it and I give Michael kudos for sitting through this without either guffawing or having his nose bleed from boredom.

One item picqued my interest. Mr. Gilchrest claims that:

First of all, he stressed that no bill he’d voted for mandated a pullout date for our troops in Iraq. The bills only were to express the “sense of the Congress” and carried no weight as far as the number of troops was concerned.
Unless he's engaging in some sort of Kerryesque "I voted for it before I voted against it" moment it is pretty obvious that Gilchrest was being, as they say, very parsimonious with the truth.

More follows below the fold

On two occasions Mr. Gilchrest has voted with the Democrat bloc to end the war in Iraq.

The first occasion took place back on March 23, 2007 with the defense supplemental bill number HR 1519. That bill passed 218-212 with Mr. Gilchrest and Walter Jones of NC being the only two Republicans to vote for the bill. What does the Washington Post say about this bill:

But Democrats were in no mood to compromise after a 218 to 212 vote that largely united the fractious Democratic caucus behind one of the toughest antiwar measures ever to pass a house of Congress during combat operations. Just two Republicans, Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.) and Walter B. Jones (N.C.), voted in favor. Fourteen Democrats -- the party's most conservative members and its most liberal -- voted no.

The bill would establish strict standards for resting, training and equipping combat troops before their deployment and lay down binding benchmarks for the Iraqi government, such as assuming control of security operations, quelling sectarian violence and more equitably distributing oil revenue. If progress is not made toward those benchmarks, some troops would be required to come home as early as July. In any event, troop withdrawals would have to begin in March 2008, with all combat forces out by Aug. 31, 2008.
A summary of the bill says this
:(Sec. 1315) Directs the President to commence the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq no later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act, with the goal of redeploying, by March 31, 2008, all U.S. combat forces from Iraq except for a limited number essential for: (1) protecting U.S. and coalition personnel and infrastructure; (2) training and equipping Iraqi forces; and (3) conducting targeted counterterrorism operations. Requires redeployment implementation as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community to collectively bring stability to Iraq. Requires reports from the President to Congress every 90 days on progress made in implementing such redeployment.
This is not a "sense of the Congress" bill. This is the bill to fund the war and it requires a withdrawal from Iraq by March 31, 2008.

The second instance was Mr. Gilchrest voting for the conference report which would have made HR 1591 into law. The conference report passed 218-208 and was later vetoed by President Bush.
The bill passed yesterday sets strict requirements for resting, training and equipping troops but would grant the president the authority to waive those restrictions, as long as he publicly justifies the waivers. The bill also establishes benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet: Create a program to disarm militias, reduce sectarian violence, ease rules that purged the government of all former Baath Party members and approve a law on sharing oil revenue.

Unless the Bush administration determines by July 1 that those benchmarks are being met, troops would begin coming home immediately, with a goal of completing those withdrawals by the end of the year. If benchmarks are being met, troops would begin coming home no later than Oct. 1, with a goal of completing the troop pullout by April 1.
Once this disgraceful bit of legislation was passed and the president vetoed it, Wayne Gilchrest voted with the surrender caucus to override the veto.

Right there are three votes that mandated a US pullout from Iraq and set dates by which this shameful act would be accomplished. I don't know what Wayne Gilchrest thought he was voting on, perhaps he doesn't know himself, but the facts are the facts.

More below the fold.

Dog Bites Man

The collapse of the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi in early August set off the predictable calls for more money to repair bridges.

More money, of course, means more taxes and more state jobs to be parceled out.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the money already spent on bridge maintenance hasn't exactly done what was intended:

Virginia and Maryland officials used more than $30 million from the federal government's main bridge repair and replacement fund on projects that weren't bridges, according to interviews and government documents tracking spending over the past four years.

The federal bridge money was transferred to general transportation accounts that funded such things as streetlights in suburban Maryland and the widening of Ox Road in Fairfax County and King Street in Leesburg.


The money Virginia and Maryland moved to non-bridge projects represented about 5 percent of the more than $650 million government figures show the two states received since 2004 under the main federal bridge program. Although substantial additional federal and state funds are spent on bridges each year, the transferred millions could have benefited some of the local spans with falling concrete or corroding steel, some transportation advocates say.
Most conservatives aren't against taxes and government, per se [note I say "most"]. What we are against is waste and inefficiency reulting in our money being spent unwisely

When a private corporation diverts money from one purpose to another to the detriment of stockholders the corporation is punished -- a reduced stock price and reduced profits -- and sometimes those responsible go to jail. No such sanction exists with governments. Sometimes one has to wonder if any level of malfeasance in a state bureaucracy is actionable in any way, shape, or form.

If an unaccountable bureaucracy is coupled with a system that has minimal oversight and massive political interference then waste, fraud, and abuse are inevitable. In the case above, both Maryland and Virginia should be sanctioned by the grantor agency, in this case the Federal Highway Administration's Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program, in at least the amount that has been diverted. It won't happen. And this abuse of the program won't stop governors, of both parties, from bleating for more money.

More below the fold.

A Bad Rap

The Nuclear Option didn't work. Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway's self-produced rap ad left him mired in low single digits in the Baltimore mayor's race. Reading the writing on the wall, or whatever, he's pulled out of the race and thrown his support and campaign funds the "white candidate", Keiffer Mitchell.

So cue the drums and bass and bid Frank Conaway a fond adieu:

"If happy times, dictate happy rhymes. That explains why something has to be done about all this freebasing and shell casings.

From gun collapse that fracture the air, when hitting the intended target was rare.
Headlines read by standard john, hit by a stray one.

I'm old but let it be told. The polls you see, I'm running for mayor.
Sheila Dixon, I'm'na slay her.

I know candidates that spit crime plans.

Scripts that claim to have the answers. Colorful artists will stick to good lyrics.
Delusional pain and pictures. How Baltimore is supposed to be.

But they're carbon copies and it's going to take all of me to get this city back on a note of positivity.When she was the largest unknown city full of prosperity.

Frank Conaway. And I approve this message"

More below the fold.

Spiro Agnew II

One can't even begin to explain it. A land deal. A developer. A non-profit that isn't much more than a shell. A governor paying off a crony. Taxpayers defrauded. What should be public shoreline transformed into an “800-acre exclusive timeshare community.”

More news from the Most Ethical Administration Since Spiro Agnew™ by way of the indispensable O'Malley Watch.

More below the fold.

Slamming the Door on Illegal Immigration

One of the common arguments made by those who favor a policy of disregarding our immigration laws is "you can't deport [fill in your favorite estimate here] million illegal immigrants." Of course, this is a non sequitur. Enforcing the law doesn't mean a nationwide hue and cry to round up illegal aliens followed by some sort Trail of Tears across the Rio Grande (or if you live in Chicago or Boston, a veritable luftbruecke to Warsaw and Dublin). The solution is to encourage illegals to self-deport.

If, indeed, what attracts illegals to the United States is employment then there are laws on the books right now that sanction employers who employ illegals. There is a free system where employers can verify the owner of social security numbers. In the words of Peyton Manning, "I throw, you catch, it's not that hard."

According to Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters the new law in Arizona which will essentially bankrupt companies who hire illegals is having an effect and he quotes from the Arizona Republic indications that illegals are leaving Arizona.

No round up. No trail of tears. Just enforcement of laws that are on the books. Imagine that.

More below the fold.

Once and Future Chief, or so we hope

From the Baltimore Sun:

The Baltimore Police Department's acting commissioner and the former chief of Washington's Metropolitan Police Department have emerged as front-runners being considered by Mayor Sheila Dixon for the city's top law enforcement position, according to several sources familiar with the process.

Acting Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, a 26-year veteran with broad support from within the department's ranks, faces competition for the job from Charles H. Ramsey, who stepped down in December as Washington's police chief, sources said Monday.
If Baltimore is lucky it's next police commissioner will be Charles Ramsey.

I lived in Washington, DC under several police commissioners and saw the police force there transformed from something approaching third world standards of incompetence, corruption, and brutality into a creditable, though still marginal, city police force under Chief Ramsey.

Regardless of Acting Commissioner Bealefeld's credentials, the Baltimore Police Department needs someone at the top who will not only fight crime but fight the entrenched and endemic underachievement that epitomizes that force. If you have any doubts about the right choice, the head of the Baltimore Police union says it all:
Paul M. Blair Jr., president of the city police union, said he believes his members would support Bealefeld "110 percent" over Ramsey.

He said that mid-level commanders and the rank-and-file officers are concerned that a new commissioner from outside the department would cause too much upheaval.
There is no downside in this selection for Mayor Dixon. She can begin to establish her own team and turn around the city's police department by selecting Charles Ramsey as police commissioner

More below the fold.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Here Comes Fred!

Mark your calendars for next Tuesday, as well as Thursday, September 27th:

Sources tell numerous outlets that Thompson will announce his campaign September 4th, and that he will participate in his first debate on September 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore. His first major appearance at a GOP event will be at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan around a week earlier.
Fantastic. And about time. And what a fantastic way to kick off the Senator's participation in the Republican debate process then by joining in right here in Baltimore. Let's get it on.

Incidentally, this is the 1,000th post on my blog. I'm not exactly sure what to say about that...

More below the fold.

You mean, we can cut from this?

Good news. The liberal blogosphere has discovered the concept of budget cutting. I don't necessarily agree with Lublin's premise that these are the only possible cuts, but I am glad that they have at least begun to realize that you can't tax your way out of a deficit...


More below the fold.

FSP plays the race card again

This is getting old. This time it's Isaac Smith:

I'll just add that Del. Patrick McDonough's plan to have, in effect, a board of commissars determine the content of MPT's new digital channels is indeed disturbing, but also instructive: In today's Republican Party, concerns for freedom of the press and politicization of the media take a back seat to beating back the Brown Menace.
I think it's a little presumptive to assume that Pat McDonough's comments portray Republicans as racists. Once again, Urban Liberals want to discriminate against those who aren't Urban Liberals and assume that everybody out in the sticks are racists thugs when the problems due to the existence of V-Me have little to do with race.

Hell, I think Pat McDonough's idea is stupid too. But we could really solve the problem by completely spinning off MPT out of the state budget entirely and saving ourselves the money and the hassle of having government in the business of subsidizing a television network.


More below the fold.

Yes Sheila, "Baltimore is a safe city”

Yet another shining example of how "safe" Baltimore truly is. Two men robbed and raped a woman in her Roland Park home last week.

But, have no fear because Mayor Dixon says, "Baltimore is a safe city" so pay no attention to the thug breaking into your house. Furthermore, according to our all-knowing and eminently wise progressive superiors, Baltimore is the same as Aberdeen; so we knuckle-dragging, troglodyte conservatives should shut up and stop worrying.

Please note that Tony Roland Park, is one of the most affluent and exclusive neighborhoods in Baltimore.

More below the fold.

Another Contract, Another Shakedown

Matt Johnston at Going to the Matt has some thoughts on the union contract negotiations with Baltimore City teachers, the unions instruction to teachers to "work to rule," and what it means to Baltimore Public Schools.

By almost every measurement, Baltimore schools are in dismal condition. Teachers have within their power the ability to make the most immediate and long term changes and for my money, anything that helps them do their job better, whether voluntary or mandatory, is a good thing. Having ten days of staff development augmented by a couple more days is nothing. If it means teachers have to do a little planning outside the work day--so be it. The school system needs to improve and that means teachers too. The school board should be up front and public about it.
I'm not sure that I agree with Matt on the power the teachers have to make the system better but I certainly agree with him on their propensity to make the system worse.

More below the fold.

New Police Union Organized

When the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police suspended Lieutenant Frederick Roussey as its president it thought it had heard the last of him. It would appear they were wrong.

An attempt to start a statewide union for police and correctional officers is being met with “sabotage” by the Baltimore police union, according to the president of the new Police Benevolent Association of Maryland.

Former Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police President Lt. Frederick Roussey this month created the new union, which he said will provide “better services” than the FOP.
Good luck to Lieutenant Roussey. Given the rules for organizing public sector employees he has an uphill battle. When one considers that the FOP may legally expel members who join Lieutenant Roussey's organization it is hard to see how he succeeds.

More below the fold.


If one thing separates conservatives from liberals it is their view of America. While conservatives are often accused of wearing nationalistic blinders, one can be sure that a liberal can always compare the United States to any loathsome socialist dystopia and find the United States wanting. Until its demise, the Soviet Union was held up as an exemplar. Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize by chronicling the evolution of the New Soviet Man while studiously averting his eyes from the slaughter of kulaks and the starvation of enforced collectivization.

Today the ideal is Cuba, or with increasingly frequency Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Take this bit of nonsense from the "CEO" of Baltimore's Public Schools:

When I was growing up in Cuba in the 1960s, I went to schools with 45 students in a classroom, where we shared textbooks and spent two months out of the year working in the countryside and attending lessons in buildings with dirt floors.

The country was undergoing a social revolution, with nearly a tenth of the population leaving for political exile. Everyone was poor. The great majority of the students were of color. And yet, there was never any doubt or even thought of the possibility that we would not learn.

Forty years later, Cuba still struggles politically and socially and has one of the poorest economies in the world. People leave in rafts. But the school system is a wonder of consistent educational achievement for all.
Let's leave aside the obvious point -- that we don't really know what Cuba's educational system accomplishes because it isn't one of the most transparent societies -- Andres fundamentally misrepresents the Cuban system. Does Cuba have special education? Does it allow trouble makers to intimidate fellow students? Or lawyers to sue the system on the behalf of the aggrieved?

Does Dr. Alonso really think that having "students of color" in class, as a majority, means anything? What, precisely, is this "consistent educational achievement for all"?

And what, exactly, has this educational paradise wrought? If the country "still struggles politically and socially" what has been accomplished other than political indoctrination. Nobel Prizes awarded to Cubans equals zero.

Does he really think Baltimore is Cuba?

More below the fold.

Death by Incompetence

Over the past couple of weeks we've been reporting on the malfeasance/misfeasance that led to the death of firefighter cadet Racheal Wilson in a training exercise in February.

Today the Baltimore Sun give us more details and it is a damning indictment of the training of the Baltimore Fire Department. An axiom of training is following the book to the letter. The trainees will learn shortcuts, etc., fast enough when they get to their organization but in the training environment they must follow procedures exactly.

The cadet firefighting teams went into the fire with improper equipment, their instructors showed a shockingly laissez-faire attitude towards wearing safety equipment, and they were ordered to violate basic firefighting procedure by going above an existing fire without extinguishing it.

If the report of the event is accurate, her death is perilously close to manslaughter.

More below the fold.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Role of Government: A Fundamental Philosophy

I would describe my political philosophy as relentlessly individualistic. I believe that individuals, given the proper information, can always make a better decision for their own welfare than the government can make for them. This leads me to be a conservative, small-government, personal responsibility, free-market type fellow.

I know this is not about local issues, per se. I am going to use the following letter to the editor of The Capital to display my point, then I will attempt to relate that point to the local issues.

Keep reading below the fold. Crossposted.

Regarding the Walter Williams column headlined "Socialized medicine won't work."

I agree with Walter Williams nearly 100% of the time. I cannot recall a disagreement I have ever had with him. You had better be on to something.

The motives of executives of insurance companies, health maintenance organizations and the like are to maximize profit and minimize cost. To survive, profit-driven businesses like food markets and computer manufacturers must deliver products and services that are competitive in price and quality.

I am with you so far. Do I sense a "but" coming?

But the bottom-line philosophy doesn't work so well in health care.

Yes I do. And, you are incorrect, the concept works perfectly well, as you will prove later in your own letter.

It is not uncommon for coverage of a procedure to be denied even if a doctor deems it necessary for the health of the patient. And the decision may be made by someone who is not even a doctor.

Let me make the first mega-important assertion of this post. The health care system is inefficient because there are people who make decisions other than YOU and YOUR DOCTOR. Think about it....if you buy a computer, or food from a market, you give your money directly to the person who made the computer or grew the food. The fact that you make a purchase conveys, via the price system of a free market, that you are satisfied with the people that you bought the things from and that their products provide a value to you as compared with another alternative.

Now think about health insurance. You pay your premiums every month, and then you have nothing to worry about. Except for your deductible, you don't have to pay at all when you receive medical treatment. So you get medical treatment all the time, which drives up the cost of insurance. Doctors--same thing. They get paid by the insurance company. So, when they treat you, they are not concerned about your financial situation at all (as long as you have insurance). The point is, doctors and patients have no incentive to negotiate and do not face normal free market forces that ensure efficiency, because there is a third party involved.

Whenever you lose accountability like this, things go to hell. Consider schools. If you paid a school directly, I promise you that school would be damn good at what they do. Otherwise, you would take your kid out of that school and pay another school. Instead, we pay taxes to the county, then the county gives money to the school board, then the school board gives it to the schools. And what is the result? Everybody complains about the schools.

People who have no health coverage go to emergency rooms, which are required to treat them. This is probably more costly than health insurance.

Clearly. If emergency rooms were cheaper then insurance than nobody would get insurance.

Newsweek (July 30) reported that "the United States spent 15.3% of GDP on health care (Medicare) for some of us. France spent 10.7% and covered everyone." And other European countries with universal health care spent less than France! Other objections to universal health care are debunked in that article.

First of all, friend, if you like Europe so much you can go live there. (Disclaimer: This line is required by the Republican National Committee as the standard response to comparisons with other countries. We can now continue our discussion.)

Let's start with other European countries. Britain has the largest health care system in the world. In fact, it's health care system is the third largest employer in the world--behind only the railway systems of China and India. And what do they get for their great system? Rationing of service, low quality doctors, and poor results.

And what about health care in France? Everybody gets it, but at the expense of the economy. Higher taxes, especially employment taxes, cause higher unemployment and contribute to a per capita GDP in France some 40%-50% lower than here in this fine land. I would rather make 40-50% more money, and spend it buying my own health insurance (or paying my own doctors directly). I know it's cliche to say 'if you don't like it here move', but in actuality if you favor heavy government involvement to fulfill social goals, then this is probably not the place for you. (Although, you may want to stick around to see who gets elected President.)

However, you are correct that France has a highly rated health care system. So why is this? Well, doctors in France insist on retaining all the decisions concerning whether or not a treatment is administered, and the Medicare system there is very streamlined so filling out claims is very easy. In other words, they kept the good stuff and reduced the BS! And in the opinion of this blog, BS reduction is next to Godliness, as the saying goes.

Our government is inefficiently administering Medicare. have a chance to redeem yourself and bring this one home....

Efficiently managed universal coverage via a Medicare-type coverage might allow extending coverage to all citizens at at reasonable cost, if our inept government would swallow its pride and see how other countries do it.

You blew it. First of all, AP doubts that the government can efficiently manage anything. If you want an example of this, look what happened when the Annapolis city government tried to enter the landlord business at the Market House. If you want another example, read anything else about any government, anywhere.

Second of all, this is just a difference in philosophy. Here is what you say:

Problem: Government mis-manages health care. Government is inept.
Solution: Do what France does to make our government less inept.

And here is what I would say:
Problem: Government................inept.
Solution: Don't let the government run this activity. Find a private market solution.

There are all manner of subsidies and tax breaks afforded to corporations, farmers, and the dairy industry. So why not help the helpless as well as the wealthy?

Again, terrible. You say help everybody, whereas conservatives would say help nobody. It sounds mean, but in the long run everybody is better off: there is no time wasted by politicians trying to figure out which people to help (because if you help one special interest group there are like 3 ka-billion more that want handouts), and you eliminate the equity problem that we have now from our (everyone's) taxes being taken and given out to particular industries (not everyone.)

So, how does this relate to Annapolis? Frankly, I don't remember everything I wanted to say about this. You see, I started this post yesterday, then drove to Ocean City for a bachelor party type event, and am continuing this post today. Sufficent to say I am working with fewer brain cells today than I was yesterday. (Do they re-grow?)

I suppose my main points as they relate to our city are role of government and accountability. I don't believe the government should be ever-reaching into our lives. I don't believe they should be spending our money on 'economic development'. I don't think they should be apologizing for slavery. As Ronald Regan said, government should be funded through the strength of the people.

(Disclaimer #2: The above Ronald Regan quote is only marginally relevant, but was used to fulfill another Republican National Committee Mandate.)

And for accountability--follow the money, as they say. Any time the government becomes the middle man between us and our money, we lose accountability and we cannot control what happens to us (at least to the same degree). So we need to make sure, when the city takes our money, that they are using it correctly.

Man, I hope the coffee is ready........

More below the fold.

The Liberal Mind At Work

Gov. O'Malley apparently sat down for a lengthy interview with a reporter from The Capital, resulting in some fabulous blogging material. See the full article here. Crossposted.

I imagine the Governor making time for this interview in between sets of bench press at Merritt Athletic Club, and right before his nightly reading of How to Run For National Office, by Spiro Agnew. (Note: this book does not exist.)

When elaborating on his strategy regarding where money to 'fix' the structural deficit will come from, Mr. O'Malley clarified:

"It'll come from the places it always come from."

The governor listed some of Maryland's economic numbers - last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending as a percentage of wealth, corporate and sales taxes lower than surrounding states, a gas tax not indexed to inflation and kept level since 1992 - and said the flat income tax also will be changed so people who make large incomes pay a higher percentage than other Marylanders.

"I don't think too many people would scream about that," he said.

Oh my goodness.

More below the fold.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

MD Commuters Would Be Most Hurt By O'Malley Gas Tax Hike

Last Reporter

Cross posted on Last Reporter

When Gov. Martin O'Malley's transportation secretary said this week that he supports hiking Maryland's 23.5-cents-a-gallon gas tax along with creating a new sales tax on gasoline, it should have struck fear in the hearts of state commuters.

In an interview with the Sun, Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari also said he supports changing the method of taxing gas, from one based on the gallon to one tied to rising prices.

If such a proposal becomes reality, which is likely considering Maryland is a one-party state, it means the average commuter could expect to pay hundreds of dollars per year in additional taxes-- just to go back and forth to work.

Any kind of gas tax increase is bad news for Maryland motorists because they have the second longest average commute than any other state in the Union with the exception of New York, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau.

Long drive home

For example, on average Maryland commuters have a 30.2 minute commute compared to the average 30.4 minute average commute of New York residents.

Among the 10 cities with the highest average commuting times, New York and Baltimore lay claim to having the highest percentage of people with "extreme" commutes -- 6% of their commuters spend 90 minutes or more to get to work.

So, you can readily see that any significant increase in the state's gasoline tax will financially hurt tens of thousands of commuters, who are already spending more time behind the wheel than the majority of other Americans.

Many of them are forced to commute long distances to their jobs as a result of many companies having left urban and suburban areas for less expensive rent and taxes in ex-urbia, which is also a result of one-party, Democratic rule.

Add to this the fact that they're also being forced to pay a record high price per gallon as oil prices skyrocket, and it's hard to believe O'Malley when he keeps saying he and his party are for the "working family."

Democrats have consistently raised the gas tax, which was 11 cents a gallon in 1982 to its current -- and soon to be raised -- rate of 23.5 cents per gallon.

Gas tax hike will hurt small businesses too

While O'Malley's gas tax might help pay for Maryland's so-called $1.5 billion structural deficit, economists say the hike coupled with rising gasoline prices will hurt small businesses.

That's because Maryland commuters will be forced to spend less on going out to eat and other non-essential expenditures in order to cover the higher cost of fuel caused by an O'Malley gas tax hike.

More below the fold.