Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Paul Person

Yes, reports that another Ron Paul flunky has filed for Congress, this time in the 2nd District.

This just further reemphasizes the complete failure of John Flynn to recruit credible candidates to run for office, in both the 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts.


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A Big Whiff

What is that breeze you feel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

crossposted on The Main Adversary

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We must destroy this village in order to save it

"Jim Pelura meets the qualifications of the Chairman that we need, and I am extremely enthusiastic about his prospects as Chairman."
I wrote that one year ago today. Man, have things changed.

In the last year, the party has plunged deeper and deeper into debt. The party has become less and less relevant in Maryland's political landscape. We have completely inappropriate involvement of key GOP staffers in the removal of a duly elected County GOP Chairman. We have a party that was virtually absent during the most recent special session. And we have budget issues that seem to be only the tip of the iceberg.

And things seem like they are only about to get worse. Sources tell me that Jim Pelura has virtually cut off the entire Executive Committee from the day-to-day operations of the party. They also tell me that Pelura is backed only by a small fraction of Central Committee leaders.

And then there is the John Flynn problem. I have never been enamored with the idea of Flynn as Executive Director, given his record of working as a member of the Maryland Accountability Project and covering up attendance records for certain favored members of the General Assembly. But Flynn's performance as Executive Director has been completely abysmal...assuming you can find the record at all. The only thing that most party activists and leaders ever hear from their Executive Director is when he forwards useless, uninteresting emails.

What is Flynn's real record? Well, a lot of people seem to only hear from Flynn when he is complaining about the reduction of his salary and celebrating with those who ousted Mike Collins as Chairman of the Anne Arundel GOP. What has Flynn accomplished as
Executive Director? Do we have credible candidates in all Congressional Districts? Did we have a cohesive, organized message during the Special Session? Have we raised money? Are there more registered Republicans than there were one year ago? Did the party have a financially successful Red, White, and Blue dinner? Did the party host a financially successful golf tournament? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding no.

It has become quite apparent that during the current regime long-time Republican donors are voting with their pocketbooks and choosing not to donate to a party that appears to be in disarray. And given the things that we hear and the actions that we see, it's hard to argue that particular point.

Unfortunately, it has come to the point where we must destroy this village in order to save it. In order for the Republican Party to be a viable political entity in Maryland in 2008, 2010 and beyond, Jim Pelura needs to be removed as Chairman of the Party, and John Flynn needs to be fired as Executive Director. Now.

We have seen the record over the last year, and the record is not good. In order to ensure that there is no further damage to both the Republican Party apparatus, as well as the Republican brand here in the state of Maryland, we need change. And we need it now.


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wayne Gilchrest appears at Salisbury University

Tonight Congressman Wayne Gilchrest culminated a day on the Lower Shore by speaking at Salisbury University. The topic of his talk: "Iraq and Back: Congressman Gilchrest Shares Perspectives on the War in Iraq." He spoke in front of an overflow crowd in the Worcester Room, which was set up for 120 people.

He broke his address down into three parts - one to give a historical "frame of reference", another based on events from 2002 to the present and the third his "optimism" about current events.

In his "frame of reference" section, he began by citing author Norman Cousins and his book Human Options. He gave two quotes from Cousins, "Knowledge is the solvent for danger", and, "History is a vast early warning system." To me, that's in the same vein as the famous Edmund Burke statement, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." With that same thought, Gilchrest also talked about Robert McNamara's observation on Vietnam that we didn't have the benefit of hindsight on the event as we were living through it.

Gilchrest also recalled other instances of Presidents engaging our sworn enemies with dialogue. Eisenhower and Kennedy with the Soviet Union and Nixon with China were examples, while a notable omission was not talking to Ho Chi Minh during that era. In the modern day, the end of the Cold War "fractured the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East" where the was now no balance of power or center of gravity. In considering this argument, I do have to counter that I would prefer not to have a balance of power as we did with the Soviet Union - being the lone world superpower suits me much better.

Wayne also told the gathering that the war in Iraq is "not a religious war" and that the "U.S. needs to be an objective participant in the healing process." Also, it was only recently that Iran became more of an enemy; in fact, Gilchrest claimed that the Iranians helped us in subduing the Taliban. Moreover, the Congressman went on to say that Iran and Saudi Arabia were as much enemies of al-Qaeda as we were.

At this point Gilchrest went into a brief history of the buildup to the war. Much of this ground regarding the internal Pentagon battle between the civilians and the military were items he covered in front of the Wicomico County Republican Club back in August, so I'll refer you to that article.

Since then, he's made his trip over to the Middle East and the next portion of his speech covered his optimism on the situation now. He noted, "there is al-Qaeda in Iraq but the conflict is about the 'power brokers'." "It's not a civil war," he continued, but at the moment "the (American) military is the skeletal structure on which Iraqi society depends."

So what do we do with our forces? Gilchrest told us that the debate was now over, and the drawdown has begun. (He was careful not to use the term "withdrawal.") In fact, there's slated to be 30,000 fewer troops there by next June. Gilchrest claimed that much of this was because the Administration was now listening to Secretary of Defense Gates and other who privately assert that the deployment cannot be sustained at the pace it had beein going. But Wayne also cautioned that the Middle East was still "fractured" - the way forward was for the "U.S. to be seen as an objective participant" and not necessarily as a shill for Israeli foreign policy. Slowly we were bringing the Arab world into agreeing with a two-state Israeli/Palestinian solution. In answering a later question after the floor was opened, he alluded to troops being left in Iraq for the purposes of training Iraqi soldiers and security to maintain Iraq's economic viability.

Returning to the subject of Iran, the Congressman asserted that Arabs did not want an Iran with too much influence and that the U.S. should "open a dialogue" with Iran, claiming they would be a "good trading partner." In addition, Iran "will probably never" have the capability to deploy nuclear weapons and that WMD's were "against Islamic law." In other parts of the world, Ahmadinejad was considered a "clever clown."

Gilchrest also made a call for "exquisite diplomacy" and cautioned the students in the room that information should be gleaned from varied sources. After all, he joked, no professor would accept a paper whose sole research source was Rush Limbaugh. (But would they accept one solely based on Air America? I bet they would!)

At this juncture the address was opened up to questions. First out of the chute was a question on the Biden three-state proposal. While it "looks good on paper to the U.S. perspective", he claimed that Iraq was "insulted" by being dictated to as they were by the British and French. He happened to be on the ground in Iraq at the time so he had first-person reaction.

Gilchrest was also asked if there was a media bias on the war. After giving a few of his favorite sources - the BBC, MacNeil/Lehrer, The Economist, New Yorker, and National Public Radio - he advised students to find what they considered their most reliable sources. As a member of Congress, he had to sometimes probe for information rather than just go by talking points.

The Democrats are sitting on war funding, or so a questioner claimed. Gilchrest stated that the defense budget is about $500 billion, with additional money used for the war "off-budget." But the war will cost "trillions" by the time its over. He did say that he would vote for the $196 billion supplemental and that "no soldier will go without what they need" because of activities in the House. It may be a case of getting the money at something like $50 billion increments, he added. One telling statement Gilchrest made was that he was advising Democrats to stop talking about withdrawal because it was happening anyway.

Someone asked if 9/11 was a government coverup. Gilchrest disagreed, noting his thought was that al-Qaeda started planning the World Trade Center attack the day after their failed 1993 bombing attempt. It was an act by "savage" people who weren't reflecting the "Abrahamic" tradition of the Middle East.

Injured veterans on both sides were a "tragedy", Gilchrest responded to a question on that subject. While "mistakes have been made" at Walter Reed and other facilities, the veterans still were under the care of the "best doctors in the country."

Responding to a question about a survey of Iraqi citizens, Wayne said that no one in Iraq wants an occupation and they want their country back, but conversely Iraqis don't want withdrawal to be abrupt. It goes back to security until economic viability and stability is attained.

There were then a series of questions about foreign policy that didn't necessarily speak directly to the conflict in Iraq. A couple statements that I found curious came out of those questions.

One statement is that we can and should talk to "sane" members of al-Qaeda, those who had retreated from the hardline "edge" that most of them continue to occupy. The other, which I thought interesting in the wake of recent foreign policy events in Annapolis, was that the U.S. cannot just "appear" to be objective because the Arabs will see through it. If we're not honest brokers, the Arabs will turn to Russia or China. In Gilchrest's terms, Russia "hasn't found its soul yet" and China is "a cruel place with less freedom than desired." I agree with those assessments, particularly on China. Wayne also told us that he thought both Israeli and Palestinian children deserved to live with peace.

Turning to a domestic issue, there was curiosity about "peak oil," a pet issue of fellow Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Wayne said that he was Congress's "smartest man" on energy issues and we need a "better energy policy." Instead we get a "cacophony of chaos" on the House floor. Gilchrest advocated more technological solutions to the problem along with an "economy-wide move to efficiency." Biofuels "will not do it," he added. Of course, you know where I stand, and the statistic Gilchrest used about 2/3 of our oil being domestically produced in 1970 vs. about 1/3 now is easily explained to me by the fact that we can't explore or drill anywhere in the country! Yes, we need to "unleash our ingenuity" but we can use that to make oil exploration and transport better too.

We then had a question about the ATR pledge signed by Gilchrest. However, Gilchrest said that, "I do not sign things" like that, and "I don't believe I ever voted to raise taxes," with the caveat of something that may have been a small part of an overall bill. He "generally" has voted to reduce taxes over his career.

Sometimes Gilchrest is called a "liberal." Wayne said the term depends on context, after all, one example of liberalism to him was Gorbachev freeing the Soviet Union.

And that was how he ended his speech. But he got one more question, from me.

I asked him whether he felt vidicated by the shift in Iraqi policy that has led to the recent drawdown and he quickly answered, "yes." I continued by inquiring whether he thought Secretary of Defense Gates was a catalyst, and he again affirmed it, noting that Gates has "backbone." To me it seems like, accidentally or not, events in Iraq are starting to work as he wanted them to in the first place - however, we all should keep in mind that he wasn't in favor of the surge that seems to have brought about this success and continually voted with Democrats for a withdrawal date.

But if Iraq pretty much ceases to be an issue before the February primary, it appears that largest difference between him and his opponents fades into the background which works to his advantage. It's been a pretty good last few days for the incumbent, and it becomes a larger challenge for his opponents to overcome Wayne Gilchrest's advantages.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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Consensus Reached on Pelura Successor

We reported yesterday about the desire for many to remove Chairman Jim Pelura, but that there was no consensus replacement candidate. Sources now tell me that a consensus has built around former House Minority Leader and Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer to succeed Pelura.

The biggest issue at the moment seems to be actually ousting Pelura as Chairman.

"You can't do it at a convention," one source tells me. "You can't get two-thirds of the Central Committee members to agree that the sky is blue, much less agree to oust the state chairman."


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GOP Debate on CNN

Now that the primary election is close enough to start paying attention, I turned on CNN last night to watch the republican debate. Well, I watched most of the debate anyway. Since when did televised debates have commercial breaks? I ask because during the commercials, I discovered the Maryland Terps and Illinois Fighting Illini were marred in their own close battle on the basketball court. I elected to watch the rest of the game. Thus, I only caught just over 1/2 of the debate. Like a basketball team vying for seeding in the NCAA tournament, the republican candidates attempted to make their case by going at the front runners.

From what I saw, illegal immigration and fiscal responsibility seemed to dominate the first part of the debate. With regards to illegal immigration, Rudy Guiliani seemed to face an all on blitz on several fronts. The best drama occurred when Mitt Romney accused former Mayor Guiliani of operating a sanctuary city for illegals in New York. Guiliani fought right back by asking Romney about allowing illegals to work on the grounds of the governor's mansion in Massachusetts. I honestly view Romney as one of the best debaters I've seen in presidential politics in some time. That said, his response to the Guiliani claim sounded more like what a liberal mind would conjure up. Asking Guiliani if he assumes all people with accents are illegal seemed lame on it's face. In turn, Romney's attempt to use plausible deniability when it came to illegals working on his grounds is unacceptable defense if I ever heard one.

Fred Thompson, while I think he brings quite a bit to the table, looked worn last night. Each candidate also had the opportunity to make their own You Tube video advertising their campaign. Thompson used his video to attack Romney and Huckabee. I acknowledge he trails in the polls, but I expected to see more pro-Fred stuff at the onset of this campaign. Perhaps his message just isn't catching on like myself and others thought it would.

Ron Paul remains the token nut case. It's well known he has a lot of behind the scenes support. Certainly, he has some good ideas such as the abolishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS, but the guy appears to have a serious screw loose. I am also suspicious of the loud applause he gets no matter what he says. I think his henchmen penetrate the crowds like they do internet forums.

Hopefully next time I'll see the entire debate. At last check, they average one about every 8 hours. That said, since I didn't see everything, I cannot accurately gage the winners and losers.


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Why has the Republican Party totally abandoned Prince George's County?

Why has the Republican Party totally abandoned Prince George's County?

That is the question I would ask if I were attending the Maryland GOP convention this weekend.

In the 2006 election, there were no Republican candidates for most county and state legislative offices.

In the very few cases where a Republican ran for one of those offices, and in the 4th District Congressional race, there was virtually no Republican Party support of the the Republican candidates.

With the 2008 primary election less than three months away, there appear to be three Republicans running in District 4 and two in District 5.

But you wouldn't know that, or be able to find out who they are, if you relied on the web sites of the Maryland Republican Party or the Prince George's County Republican Central Committee.

The Maryland Republican Party site currently shows only the last name of one of the three candidates running in District 4 and nothing about either of the two candidates running in District 5.

The Prince George's County Republican Central Committee site doesn't list any candidates at all. That site has recently eliminated the names and contact information of district central committee members (maybe there aren't any committee members), so I can no longer even try to contact the committee member from my district.

For the record, here are the candidates who have filed to run for Congress as Republicans, according to the State Board of Elections:

District 4:

District 5:

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MD GOP Convention thoughts...

This weekend, the Maryland GOP has it's fall meeting. Some thoughts...

After the loss of the Governorship, even though Bob Ehrlich had better-than-50% approval ratings, the party changed.

It went from finally having power (after about 40 years in the wilderness), to again being considered not relevant, impotent, and a non-entity. The only way to stave off these considerations from being reality is to come together and work together. We have perfected the art of the circular firing squad, where we kill our own while at the same time take fire from each other. Yes, 5 Republicans voted with the Dems for slots, and if they hadn't it MIGHT be possible that the tax plan would have failed. However, that is a possible outcome in an alternate universe that did not happen. We will never actually know for sure if it would have made a difference. Hound those 5 if you want, but at least the party did stick together voting against the taxes. But the O'Gov won, as the Dems will always continue to do, at this point, (as former Governor Ehrlich often would say) "because they can". Only when they can't anymore, when a true two-party option exists in the state, can we hope to stop them. Oh, we can make a difference here and there, if we can win public opinion and get it angry and riled up- see "Jessica's Law" as an example. For the most part though, we can only hope, at this point, to be a thorn in the Dems sides. Oh, we can debate amongst ourselves, as we should, and we can tout this "Real Rebublican/Conservative" over that "RINO" or whatever. But the evil, treacherous back-biting has to stop. We are giving the Dems a show rivaling anything striking writers could come up with. They are laughing at us. That is if they consider us at all. Quit it, people! Just Stop, Please!

Are the by-law changes good or bad? Maybe a little of each. Don't assume they are either. Look at them independently of presumed motives. I may not like the Brian Harlin Rule, but Brian is not a Central Committee member at this point, so it doesn't even apply to him right now. I hope he can be persuaded to continue to be involved, and that some way can be found for him to not be targeted. He has worked hard for the party, and doesn't deserve, as far as I know, bad treatment. I hope this can be done in a way that preserves the noble idea of no conflict of interest. Work on it, Central Committee & State Party "Leaders", prove you are worthy of that term.

As to the budget. Keeping state party headquarters is important. Yes, it could move to a less visible, cheaper location (aren't the Dems are in the basement of AL Goodies Mall?). Heck, we could operate out of a car trunk, but is that the message we want to convey, that we are so beaten-up, so inconsequential, that we are nothing? Out of sight-out of mind. The visibility of 15 West Street is an asset we should at least try to keep. The Dems are in power, they don't need the visibility we do. Besides, their "real' headquarters might as well be the AFL-CIO building, proudly visible right across State Circle from the legislature.

As to staff... Am I right that there are only 2 paid staff members now? Marsha Jitka is irreplaceable. She should be the last one to go. She has served, and continues to serve, this party more than many know. John Flynn, he has a different reaction from people. Some like him, some do not. My understanding is that he already took a pay cut, maybe trying to raise his pay is an attempt to thank him for staying on, and to encourage him to keep working. Is he worth the money? I frankly do not know. But we need somebody there to implement policy and run things, just as we need Marsha to keep running the office. Remember, the Chairman has a "real job" he has to attend to, Kane did as well. We need at least two people in the office if at all possible.

Now as to Kane... during those days we had tons of money coming in, and an ebb and flow of staff circulating through.
You would just get used to this staff member or that one, and they'd be replaced with another young, new, just-out-of college body. But we had a Republican Governor as well, so the National Party would help pitch in. Admittingly, they also took as well, trying to get Marylanders to give to the national needs. We were a donor state, and probably saw less back than we put in. Those days are over, buddy, the well is a bit drier now. As, again, Bobby E. told us, the big money won't be there. Ain't that the truth? Fair-weather friends from outside the party regulars, businesses that gave to us because we were (partially) in power, are back to writing their checks to the Dems once again. This is despite the fact that they are enabling those who would tax and regulate them out of business... they haven't learned.

But it is not only the Ed Hales that were once supporters, then put O'Malley signs at their business locations. Some of our supposedly loyal Republicans have circled the wagons and are unfortunately just looking out for themselves. I have learned that some formerly high-ranking Republican office holders (who shall remain nameless) have promised to help out financially at fundraisers, only to at the last minute agree to just show up, but not help raise money for the party. They may be raising money for themselves, with no clear statement of what they are going to do with it. Former moneymen back off in helping the party. Look at the budget (thanks to Brian Griffiths). There is only 20 thousand dollars from "Major Donors". 20K? Isn't that about what Dick Hug might find in loose change in his pocket?
Everything else must be coming from less well-off people, regular Joes who are scraping together a couple of bucks here and there, and sending it to West Street. You know, maybe that isn't such a bad thing. A growing grassroots support from regular Marylanders fed up with the shenanigans of the Special Session could translate into more votes, and a growing party. Maybe Republicans are not just the party of the "rich", but of the regular people. Besides, O'Gov has assured us that much of the rich will be moving out of state anyway. We need more regular Joes.

Yes, we need to cut back, and we have cut most of the staff we had when Kane left. However, we need some staff, and a place for them to work. Maybe we need to give Doctor Jim the chance to raise money from these regular folks, since the rich Elvis's have left the building. It will take a while, and we won't raise as much, but it could be better for us in the long run. I have heard that the Party was promised that it would have money, only to have it spent and left with very little. That is not Dr. Pelura's fault. He is doing what he can with what he has.

Who is the head of the Party in Maryland now? Ehrlich? Maybe he was when he was in power, in fact wasn't he (and Kane) criticized for trying to be a kingmaker? But he isn't holding office now. Legislative leaders? Which ones? What if they disagree? Who can dictate policy- maybe nobody should? Pelura? Maybe he has his hands busy with trying to keep this ship afloat. Only a crew can mutiny and challenge the Captain's authority. Those that have already abandoned ship, every man for himself, in the lifeboats do not get a vote. If you are volunteering, giving sacrificially to keep the place ship-shape, bailing out and stopping the flooding, then your arguments carry weight. Otherwise you are a mere landlubber. If it is the little guys who are paying the freight, maybe they have more power than the fly-by-night, fair-weather friends we had before. That seems like a good thing.

Whatever happens at the convention, and whatever happens at the primary, we need to hang together, or we'll be destined to hang separately. Savvy?

Crossposted on Maryland Chesapeake Blog by Chester Peake

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Things in CD-3

So a Christopher Panasuk is a candidate for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, as well as a candidate for Republican National Convention Delegate as well.

As recently as three-years ago, he was a delegate to the Libertarian National Convention, a Libertarian Party-elector for Michael Badnarik, and a muckity-muck in the Anne Arundel LP organization.

Now, generally Republicans and Libertarians are generally copasetic on a lot of issues, but I have to wonder if this sudden switcharoo has something to do with Ron Paul's quixotic campaign.

And furthermore, this actually brings into focus further issues regarding the Republican Party. While the state party apparatus fiddles with bylaws changes, and spends little on party development while paying 64% of its budget on rent and salaries, we are left with a situation in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts while having either no Republican candidate (2nd) or no credible Republican candidate (3rd). Why has the party done nothing to take steps to ensure that credible Republicans are on the ballot in these two districts?


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And just so we all understand where we are....

...E.J. Pipkin filed for Congress today.


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The MD GOP's proposed 2008 budget

I've got a copy of it and posted it here.

Some thoughts:

  • Why does this party project to spend $50,000 on the Red, White, and Blue dinner when projecting to raise only $100,000? Particularly in light of the financial boondoggle that this year's dinner was?

  • Total projected revenue of just north of $300,000 for a major party trying to compete in a state like Maryland is, to put it lightly, meek.

  • Raising only just north of $300,000 for a major party that is spending $124,400 on two full-time equivalent employees is insane. Particularly when you consider that the party used to employee six people and those positions are no longer filled.

  • $1,600 on party development. $1,600. Contemplate that.

  • $65,202 on rent. Over twenty-percent of the money is spent on rent for the headquarters!
This budget is completely and utterly fiscally irresponsible given projected revenues and the sheer insanity of some of these expenses. Think about this: $189,602 is spent just on salaries and rent; that is 63.7 percent of the entire budget! And when you consider that only $18,100 is being spent on "political expenses" is it any wonder that the Maryland Republican Party is in the financial dire straits that we currently find ourselves in?


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The Future of Conservatism

One of the pleasure's of blogging are the new folks you meet. One of those is Professor Donald Douglas. Professor Douglas is a conservative political science professor out in California. He runs the blog American Power. American Power is chock full of conservative thought and philosophy. One of his latest posts The Resurgence of Small Government Conservatism is a long meaty post with plenty to chew on, but well worth the read.

Douglas ponders the future of conservatism in the post-Bush era:

I've been marveling over the diversity among Republicans of late on the question of which set of conservative values will prevail in the post-Bush era. The current ferment has got me thinking: Is Reagan the model, as he's often mentioned in the debate over the conservative future?

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Pat Toomey Pounds Wayne Gilchrest at National Review

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey takes Wayne Gilchrest to the woodshed.

NRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez: Which Republicans must be defeated in 2008?

Pat Toomey: If there is one Republican who must be shown the door, it is Representative Wayne Gilchrest (Md., 1). Representing the conservative First Congressional District in Maryland, Rep. Gilchrest is one of the most economically liberal Republicans in Congress, ranking 212th on the Club for Growth’s 2006 scorecard.

His anti-growth votes read like a “RINO of the Year” award. He recently broke his anti-tax pledge, not once, but twice, voting for the Farm Bill, including a tax hike on foreign companies, and for a tax hike on oil companies. He feels no compunction about wasting taxpayer dollars, whether he’s voting for mohair and Viagra subsidies or against every anti-pork amendment (for which he was present) in 2007 and 2006. In a blow to political free speech, Gilchrest supported McCain-Feingold and the so-called 527 Reform Bill last year. Of course, there’s his vote to increase the minimum wage and his vote against an amendment restricting eminent domain abuse — and well, I could go on for a long time.

In contrast, his opponent, Maryland State Senator Andy Harris, has a long record of fighting for taxpayers at the local level, leading the fight against the Wal-Mart Tax Bill in the Maryland State Senate and sponsoring repeal of the Maryland inheritance tax. Harris has successfully ousted a Republican incumbent before, has been endorsed by former Maryland Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich, and is outraising Gilchrest. A Harris victory in the February primary will be a decisive victory for the conservative movement.

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Gilchrest back on the issue of illegals, again

Yep, this press release came in my e-mail box:


U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-Maryland-1st) has cosponsored a bipartisan immigration bill that will give employers a key tool in helping to identify legal workers, as well adding manpower to patrol the border and agents to track and investigate illegal aliens that are already here.

Gilchrest signed onto H.R. 4088, (note: this is a 73 page bill) the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. Introduced by Reps. Heath Schuler (sic) (D-North Carolina) and Brian Bilbray (R-North Carolina), the bill has 112 cosponsors.

"Illegal immigration continues to be a major problem facing America and we need to address it in a bipartisan way with steps we can all agree will help and make sense," Gilchrest said. "Employers need the right tools to help them hire legal workers. If we're going to hold them accountable, we should at least be able to provide them with a system that works."

The SAVE Act expands on a pilot program designed to give employers access to government databases that will quickly determine whether an employee is able to work legally in this country. The E-Verify program would become mandatory, and be phased in over four years, beginning with the federal government, federal contractors, and employers with over 250 employees. Smaller businesses would begin using the system in a graduated manner.

"This bill is important because it closes the existing loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to use the same Social Security number, and it will require information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration and the IRS," Gilchrest said.

The bill also addresses border security by increasing manpower and making needed technological and infrastructure improvements on the northern and southern borders, including 8,000 new Border Patrol agents.

It also will help enforce existing laws by increasing the investigative abilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by employing more agents and training additional state and local law enforcement personnel. It expedites the removal of illegal aliens by increasing the number of federal District Court judges, and expanding detention facilities.

"I have continued to champion each individual component of this legislation, and this bill provides a more comprehensive package,” Gilchrest said.

After skimming through the bill, I can't object to much in it. Perhaps the only quibbles I had at first glance was an overreliance on a virtual wall rather than a further call to build a true fence (although border fence maven Rep. Duncan Hunter is a co-sponsor as well), and the fact that it only authorizes funding in the out years - theoretically no money need be spent to adopt the additional border agents and judgeships that are part of the measure. I will also note that Gilchrest was among the last of the co-sponsors to sign on, having just done so November 15, 9 days after it was introduced.

But the news on the race is about so much more than illegal immigration now. First we have the news that was postulated by Brian Giffiths on his website and on Red Maryland back on November 19 and broken nationally by Roll Call today, an impending leap into the First District race by State Senator E.J. Pipkin. (I wrote on Pipkin's dossier recently, and the Sun just placed up their version of the story.)

Next, a rumor is now going around (also courtesy of my cohort Streiff at Red Maryland) that Wayne Gilchrest is contemplating retirement. So this makes tomorrow night's Gilchrest appearance at Salisbury University even more newsworthy since the question is sure to be asked. In fact, he has a full day on the lower Shore:

10:30 a.m. Visiting Bel-Art Products in Pocomoke City. Bel-Art is a leading manufacturer of products used in laboratories, and has been growing every year in Pocomoke.

11 a.m. Radio interview with the Mayor of Pocomoke City, Michael McDermott, who has a weekly radio program on WGOP, 540 AM in Pocomoke. This will be a taped interview.

11:30 a.m. Visiting Hardwire LLC in Pocomoke City and tour with officials from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Joining them for lunch afterward. Hardwire is an exciting young company that manufactures reinforced material for buildings, bridges, and other applications. (This visit is closed to the media because of classified information.)

1 p.m. Visiting the Delmarva Discovery Center in Pocomoke with executive director Brian Garrett and meeting with members of Delmarva Low Impact Tourism (DLite) to discuss plans for Lower Shore.

3 p.m. Touring Peninsula Regional Medical Center with hospital president Alan Newberry and Drs. Lawrence and Julian, head of the medical staff, to learn about the hospital expansion.

7:30 p.m. Speaking at Salisbury University about his recent trip to Iraq and our Iraq policy. In the Worcester Room on the 2nd Floor of the Commons Building.

Tomorrow may be an exciting day in the Lower Shore political world and this weekend's state GOP convention will continue the roll as candidates are sure to be pressing the flesh there.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

Late edit: someone doesn't like Andy Harris. A hitherto unknown group called "Republicans Who Care" put out this attack ad against Harris. (They have the backing of, or at least hired, the media group that did the Swift Boat ads, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm. Most of their clients have been among the more "moderate" Republicans.)

More below the fold.

Get Real

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

Is this a Republican criticism of the Thornton education plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

crossposted on The Main Adversary

More below the fold.

More MD GOP inside baseball

Still more from the rumor mill:

I was told that Flynn and Pelura are trying to take the Treasurer and Secretary's votes away on Executive Committee.

I was also told they have lost their last supporters on the executive committee. The problem now is that there is no new candidate that everyone will jump behind.

More below the fold.

Vocal Minority Targets Spanking Again

As I watched WJZ TV 13 this evening, they had a story about some do good (most likely liberal) nurse who is on a crusade to ban spanking in her home state of Massachusetts. While this is a not a new phenomena in enlightened progressive circles, it's certainly troubling how media outlets give a prominent voice to the vocal minority on issues such as this.

Throughout the WJZ report, they used an "expert" witness, McDaniel college professor Thomas Zirpoli, to give his thoughts as to why spanking and abuse go hand and hand. Underneath the professor's name on TV was a title "Parenting Expert". Personally, I'd like to know who anointed him with that distinction? Better yet, what kind of litmus test did he need to pass in order to earn that title among the elites?

Government has no place dictating to parents whether or not they spank their children. It would be one thing if were talking about incessantly beating the crap out of a child. No reasonable person, regardless of ideology, could argue in favor of such despicable behavior. Still, that's not the issue here. We're simply talking about a parent swatting a child on the behind for the purpose of correcting behavior. Many of us experienced this type of punishment growing up. Despite this, we have carried on successful lives without permanent damage to our psychological well being.

All 50 states currently have laws protecting children form abusive adults. Instead of taking away an effective and proven parenting tool, target true child abusers. Of course, they are out there. No one can deny that. Law enforcement in cooperation with concerned citizens within the community should be able identify true abusers. Go ahead, target and prosecute these creatures. It's time to stop blurring the line between those that favor the rod for occasional discipline with those who hit children for more sinister motives.

Opponents of spanking often argue that those who received corporal punishment growing up are more likely to be resistant to authority. I'd like to challenge that notion. In fact, I'd be willing to bet jails are filled with more people who had parents that resisted discipline in favor of being a child's friend than persons who had a father and/or mother that immediately corrected negative behavior. Speaking of correctional institutions, I certainly wouldn't want to see a good parent throw in jail next to some armed robber for simply whacking their kid on the behind.

For the record, it should be noted that WJZ has an unscientific pool on the front page of their website. As of this writing, 92% of the respondents said they oppose a ban on spanking. With these results, I am certain that poll will soon expire.


More below the fold.

A Rumor to Monger...

Wayne Gilchrest to retire?

That's what we've been told.

It would explain Senator Pipkin's sudden decision to enter the primary.

More below the fold.

Roll Call: Pipkin Will Announce Tomorrow

Roll Call

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest’s (R-Md.) tough re-election battle will take on a new twist tomorrow, when wealthy state Sen. E.J. Pipkin announces that he is joining the increasingly crowded Republican primary race.

More below the fold.

New Ads In MD-1

The Club for Growth dot Net has started running a new ad in MD-1 targeting nominal Republican Wayne Gilchrest (for the reading impaired please note that this is neither the Club for Growth nor the Club for Growth PAC).

At the same time a group calling itself "Republicans Who Care" (and from their address they seem to be able to fit into a rented mailbox) is running an ad attacking Andy Harris.

More below the fold.

The Structural Deficit in Action

Now that Montgomery County's delegation has been a party to, if not the prime mover of, the largest tax increase in Maryland's history we get this bit of news from the Washington Post in a front page story headlined Montgomery Bracing for A Record Shortfall: $401 Million Gap May Mean Tax Increases, Service Cuts.

In sobering terms, Montgomery County's elected leaders began to confront the government's deepest-ever projected budget shortfall yesterday, warning residents of possible tax increases and tempering expectations for what the county can afford as they try to close a $401 million gap.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has called on departments and agencies to shave 2 percent of existing spending, including $36 million from the public schools, a figure that education officials said would be "extraordinarily difficult to meet."

In his call for belt-tightening, Leggett said the numbers suggest that even with spending cuts and tax increases, residents should be prepared for a reduction in public services.

"Our worst fears, as it relates to the housing market and the national economy, are being realized," Leggett said yesterday. "There may be delays and outright cuts; it means we will not be hiring as readily as we may have anticipated, and it could mean some local revenue enhancements."

It's too soon to know which areas would be affected by the shortfall, 9.6 percent of the $4.2 billion in projected spending for fiscal 2009, which begins in July. To cope with a budget gap four years ago, county leaders cut library hours, postponed maintenance on equipment and delayed salary increases for county employees for several months.

Among the big-ticket items in the coming year are the county's health-care program for uninsured residents, early childhood education, the technology system and funding to put more police officers on the street.

"This is not an easy exercise," said County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), chairwoman of the council's Management and Fiscal Policy Committee. "Some hard decisions will have to be made."

Spending for the budget year that begins in July is expected to increase by 8.5 percent, but revenue is not keeping pace. Montgomery, like much of the Washington region, has been hit by slowdowns in job growth and the housing market. Transfer and recordation taxes collected when property changes hands are projected to be $71 million less than expected. Income tax estimates for fiscal 2008 and 2009 are collectively $107 million less than projected.

The $401 million gap could widen as the county negotiates costly health and retirement benefit contracts for employees and calculates the effects of new income tax exemptions passed in Annapolis, in addition to $500 million in state budget cuts.
I am overwhelmed by schadenfreude.

MoCo elected a delegation that voted to increase taxes by bazillions of dollars and somehow not only managed to ensure that MoCo didn't get diddly squat in the porcess but were able to coordinate that tax hike with a major budget crisis at home that will also require a tax hike.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

In the dead tree version of the Washington Post the story is finished up on the same page as this headline,Montgomery School Board Approves Boost For Facilities.
The Montgomery County school board approved a $269 million facilities spending plan last night for the next fiscal year, a $30 million increase over the budget approved by the County Council for the current year.

School officials said they increased the capital budget, originally set at $258 million, after learning that the county would probably receive substantially more than the $40 million in state aid budgeted by the County Council for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The mind boggles.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lest We Forget

As the Special Session rolls into the rear view mirror, last week's promises to take action against those who made this recent tax increase possible begin the test of time.

In the interest promoting the "never forget" mantra, here is how the Gazette saw things:


Moderate Democrats — Some voted against the tax increases, but by and large, GOP challengers will flail all the Dems over what is likely the largest tax increase in Maryland history. Nay vote or not, anyone with a D after their name in a right-leaning district could face rough going in 2010.

House GOPFive Republicans defected on the slots referendum measure, which made all the difference. Had the caucus stuck together, Democrats would have needed four more votes, a gap that may have been too great to overcome."

Refresh your memory and let us gird ourselves to give all of these legislators a "rough going in 2010."


More below the fold.

Sean Taylor, RIP

I know this has nothing to to with Maryland politics, but I hope you will indulge me on this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodbye Sean.

More below the fold.

Upcoming Events

Still angry about the Special Session and increased taxes. Well here are a few opportunities to get involved and take part in the Republican Party.

Wednesday November 28 7pm, Young Professionals for Fred Thompson Debate Watching Party at Ropewalk Tavern in Federal Hill. Ropewalk is Reagan Country! (at least my t-shirt says so).

Friday November 30 Maryland Young Republican Hospitality Suite at the Westminster Best Western. Stop by the MDYR Hospitality Suite and meet and network with other conservatives on the eve of the MDGOP Fall Convention

Saturday December 1 Best Western Westminster MD, MDGOP Fall Convention. See link for details. This convention should be interesting given the new bylaw changes that are up for approval.

Sunday December 2 6-8pm, House party with Ambassador John Bolton to support the Montgomery County GOP. $125 per person, $250 VIP, includes autographed book and photo op. See the link for details. Hurry and RSVP, this event could fill up quickly.

More below the fold.

Monday, November 26, 2007

One opinion on the Bylaws Changes

This was forwarded to me anonymously. As always, anybody who wishes to send me a response is more than welcome to, and I will post unadultered as I have this:

Here’s one persons opinions of the proposed Changes to State GOP Constitution and By-Laws:

This is a naked power grab by Pelura and John Flynn. This gives them absolute power over the State GOP and the County Central Committees and significant power over Elected Officials and Candidates (via a new State GOP primary endorsement mechanism). Furthermore, the ability to disagree or to speak up has been severely curtailed. Finally, if you cause too much trouble, you can be easily removed.

Other key points are that there is no place for Clubs or Activists to speak or to be heard. There is no mechanism to curtail spending, even though the State GOP is thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. There are two very personal proposals, one to give John Flynn a significant salary increase and the other to ensure that Brian Harlin can never be the Chairman of a County Central Committee or on the Executive Committee.

More Specifically:

1. Currenlty, there is no method in the State GOP Constitution or By-Laws by which the State GOP may involve itself in a contested Republican State legislative, County or City primary election. The proposed change would allow the State GOP to pick sides in a primary by a simply 2/3's vote in the State Executive Committee. It should be noted that for Federal Candidates, the RNC (and ergo the State GOP) have a mechanism that allows pre-primary support.

It should be noted that many believe that Jim Pelura and his staff (vis-a-vis John Flynn) have spent the Summer and the Fall stacking the Executive Committee to ensure a 2/3's majority. Dirk Haire removed, Mike Collins removed, etc.

2. The Brian Harlin Rule (as allegedly named by John Flynn). A proposed resolution would ensure that people like Brian Harlin (staunch GOP supporter and former Central Committee Chair from Howard County) could never be elected to the State GOP since they have a business that serves Republican candidates.

3. Proposal to change the Convention Rules. This change requires convention attendees to propose any changes to the rules prior to the convention. What is not said, however, is that no convention rule changes will be allowed once the convention starts. Furthermore, the Proposed Convention Rules are extremely restrictive and preserve almost complete control and power to the Chairman (i.e., Pelura). In addition, the Convention Rules do not allow anyone other than elected officials and executive and central committee members from talking. Furthermore, if you are not a member or an elected official, Pelura has the right to have the Sergeant at Arms (i.e. Bouncer) remove you from the room. Finally, Pelura has the right to cut off discussion by any person if he believes it to be a personal attack or innuendo.

4. Proposal to state that Central Committee Members may not endorse Democrats or Independents in any race that includes a Republican. What is missing is the same requirement for the Executive Committee and the State GOP Staff.

5. Proposal to ensure that members of the Executive Committee not be elected officials nor a candidate. What is missing is the same requirement for Central Committee Members.

6. Proposal to give Pelura unfettered authority to reinstate John Flynn's previous salary - even though State GOP is between $100k and $150k in debt and even though previous Executive Committee cut John Flynn's salary.

7. Proposal to increase the number of Executive Committee members by two (move from 3 Vice Chairs to 5 Regional Chairs). This idea is not being supported by Flynn and Pelura. Such an increase would make it harder for them to get a 2/3's majority (see above).

8. Proposal to require an Oath of Office for Central Committee Members. Key is that you must swear true allegiance to the State GOP Constitution and By-Laws. So, if a Central Committee Member disagrees with something Pelura or the Executive Committee or John Flynn does, they have violated the Oath and can therefore be removed from Central Committee.

Make of it what you will.


More below the fold.

BREAKING: 10 am GOP insiders meeting Tuesday morning

Just passed on to me....GOP Chairman Jim Pelura is having a meeting of select party insiders tomorrow morning to discuss strategy dealing with this weekend's State GOP convention in Westminster.

Information indicates that the Chairman is trying to head off a potential coup attempt at the pass, as well as to make sure that the oft discussed bylaw get pushed through the full State Central Committee apparatus.

Apparently, the opposition has printed and will be distributing this weekend "Don't Blame me, I voted for John White" bumper stickers.

More info as it becomes available...


More below the fold.

An Abscess on the Peace Process

It's going to be difficult enough to conduct Middle East Peace talks in any setting, given the individuals, the personalities, and the interests on all sides when they come to the table.

So why in the world does it make sense that a Governor who can't even keep his own house in order wants to stick his nose where it does not belong?

Governor O'Malley has been a catastrophic failure in his scant ten months governing this state. His record on domestic issues has been a record of setback after setback, lessening the standard of living here in Maryland. His presence in the middle of the peace process is nothing more than that of an abscess, an unwanted growth that does harm and not good. The State Department should take steps to make sure that O'Malley's record of failure, and his record as someone who goes out of his way to avoid building consensus does not taint an already fragile peace process.


More below the fold.

Standing By While Its Citizens Die

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

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

Track the case at H/T David Freddoso.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

crossposted on The Main Adversary

More below the fold.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Descriptive Reasoning

I post this for no other reason than to wonder if we can nail O'Malley with such a penalty too, considering what he and the legislative leadership are doing to the taxpayers of Maryland:


More below the fold.

Honoring heroes at the holidays

Here's something kind of cool to start leg number two of the holiday season.

The pro-troop support group "Move America Forward" announced last week its "Honoring Heroes at the Holidays" tour. This three week tour kicks off tomorrow in California and will wind its way across the country along the southern tier of states and up the East Coast to its final destination, New York City. From there the holiday cards collected on the tour will be taken directly to the troops in harm's way in time for Christmas. Regional stops include Norfolk, Richmond, Washington, and Philadelphia - the complete itinerary is here.

Ryan Gill of Move America Forward notes:

"We'll have pro-troop rallies and events in 40 cities across America for the next three weeks, and at each event we'll collect signed Christmas, Hanukkah, and holiday greeting cards that we'll deliver to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're collecting over 100,000 cards in this effort - and given the current rate the cards have been coming in to our headquarters at Move America Forward we could well exceed that goal."

Unfortunately, there's no mailing address that people outside the tour area can send these cards to, which I suppose is one weakness of this effort. But since many who read monoblogue and Red Maryland live closer to the tour stops, they can certainly participate in the effort. Perhaps this is something our cohorts from Montgomery and PG Counties can assist with at our upcoming GOP Fall Convention? I'd be happy to sign and bring cards for the effort if they can handle delivery and I'm sure many of us in the Maryland GOP would do the same.

Just food for thought. But if readers are close and wish to help out, by all means do so. A little holiday spirit goes a long way - about 7,000 miles.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

More below the fold.

Refuge Podcast #48 - Special Session Wrap-Up

The latest news, views and a little controversy await in the next installment of the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

In our opening segment, we have an interview with special guest Richard Falknor, Executive Vice President of the Maryland Taxpayers Association, discussing the recent special session. Mr. Falknor boldly discusses his disappointment with previously anti-tax legislators who failed to stop or even slow this tax juggernaut.

Our blogger roundtable convenes, with Red Maryland contributors Brian Griffiths and Mark Newgent, to wrap up the special session and relate all the details about the largest tax increase in Maryland history. Who were the winners and losers from the session? How did the lack of Republican unity in the House of Delegates harm the cause of taxpayers and where do we go from here?

Our blogger contributors offer their insight and opinions.

In our closing segment, I provide an update on the backlash to the proposed Ronald Reagan Dinner we discussed in the last installment including a post from Red Maryland colleague Brian Gill about the hostile reception received by event organizers at the recent Wednesday Morning Republican Breakfast Club meeting. You will want to hear the details of the growing push back to this group.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast


More below the fold.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Endangered Species - More Evidence

Streiff's posting gave the special session behavior of the Republican caucus as an example of how Maryland Republicans are becoming (or have become) an endangered species.

Let's look at their behavior in and about Prince George's County.

Prince George's County has the second worst violent crime record in the state, and the second worst schools in the state. Despite limits on property taxes, the county also has one of the highest tax burdens on individuals.

Who is to blame? Well, if you listen to the rhetoric from elected officials, it is the evil Republicans. (Good ol' Al Wynn still blames Ronald Reagan for PG's lousy schools.)

The problem is that there aren't any Republicans. Every county elected office, every county seat in the Maryland General Assembly, every appointed official, is a Democrat.

And the Maryland and Prince George's County Republicans apparently believe that is just dandy. They don't quite say so in as many words, but their actions are very clear. They neither criticize the Democrats' failings nor offer candidates as an alternative.

I almost didn't bother voting in the September 26 primary election. There didn't seem to be much point, except possibly for the school board election. Ehrlich and Steele were certain to win the primary, so my vote wouldn't really have mattered in those races.

When it came to the local ballot, there was no Republican primary. No Republicans ran for county-wide office. No Republicans ran for senator or delegate in my district. No Republicans ran for county council in my district. There were no Republicans to choose from.

I know registered Republicans who did not vote--because they knew there was no point.

And some of them did not vote in the general election, where the vast majority of partisan offices on the ballot had only one choice--the Democrat.

New, we all know that the odds of a Republican actually winning any of these local offices was pretty slim. But I keep wondering how much the Republican Party's failure to field candidates in Prince George's County may have cost Ehrlich and Steele.

I know there are some Republicans--even Blacks and Latinos--in the county.

And I know that there are quite a number of Black Democrats who are unhappy with crime, unhappy with lousy schools, and unhappy with the Maryland Democratic leadership for several reasons, including immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and broken promises.

And I have heard some local activists wish for a two-party system.

I suspect that a number of these people--both Republicans and unhappy Democrats--did not vote in 2006. And I suspect that in the privacy of the voting booth, some of these folks would have voted for Republican alternatives to Jack Johnson, Al Wynn, and other people they detest or see as failures. And I also suspect that some of them who did not bother voting would have voted for Ehrlich and Steele along with Republican alternatives in local offices.

Am I right? And if so, would it have made a difference? We'll never know.

But what is clear is that the Republican Party made no real effort to get votes in Prince George's County. I never saw any Republican literature, did not receive a Republican sample ballot, did not see any Republican operatives at the polls. The Republican Party was less visible than the Greens.

Now I see the same thing on the horizon for 2008. Looking again at Prince George's County, there are two Congressional seats, now held by Hoyer and Wynn, that include the county. So far, two Republicans have filed to run in the primary for each seat. You can find out who they are by going to the state elections web site.

But you won't find out much if you go to a Republican Party web site. The Maryland GOP site identifies only one of the two Republicans running in Wynn's district (and only by his last name) and neither of the Republicans running in Hoyer's district. The Prince George's GOP site doesn't list any candidates at all.

Obviously, if the party establishment can't bother posting even the names of Republican candidates, they are not going to be any help in campaigning for those candidates, or in helping those candidates point out the Democrats' failures or otherwise spread the Republican message.

Looking ahead to 2010. Every Prince George's County senator and delegate voted for O'Malley's tax increase. They ought to be held accountable. In my opinion, beginning the day after each vote, the Prince George's County Republicans, and anyone with any hope of running as a Republican in 2010, should have been attacking these tax and spend Democrats. The silence has been deafening. I thought about writing to my district's GOP central committee member, but I found out that the Prince George's GOP has deleted the names and contact information of central committee members from their web site (and their "News" page has a bad link).

I find it all very depressing. From my point of view the Maryland Republican Party might as well be extinct; calling it endangered is giving the "leadership" too much credit. Since Al Wynn's opponents are all running to the left of him, and the Maryland and Prince George's GOP committees aren't supporting any Republicans, maybe they ought to just endorse Wynn, as awful as he is, and then shut down. Maybe the Greens or Libertarians or someone else can offer us some kind of an alternative to the current Democratic one-party rule.

More below the fold.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This is just a thought

Why do I have a feeling that some of the people who stand in line for four, six, eight hours to try to get a cheap HDTV are the same people who think that waiting in line for thirty minutes, sixty minutes, ninety minutes to vote is a civil rights violation of the highest degree?


More below the fold.

From the Money Talks, BS Walks Files

I think it is safe to say that E. J. Pipkin has higher aspirations that state senator in the minority party. He ran against Babs Mikulski for US Senate in a race that has been termed "spirited" but could equally be called "futile."

We've has a burst of stories (here | here) riffing off Brian's report that Senator Pipkin was tossing his hat into the ring to challenge Wayne Gilchrest for the congressional seat in MD-1.

There is no doubt that on paper Senator Pipkin is formidable candidate. He has strong ties to the Eastern Shore, high name recognition, and a fairly solid reputation within Republican circles. The question is neither if Senator Pipkin desires the seat (we most assuredly believe that he does) or if he could knock off Wayne Gilchrest (again we think he would have as good a chance as Andy Harris against a very weak Gilchrest in a two-man Republican primary) but whether he can actually mount a viable campaign at this late date. The filing period closes December 3. The primary is February 12. This gives him a week to get into the race, and 60 days until the vote is cast.

The obvious barrier to a Pipkin candidacy is money. While he has a lot of name recognition it is really hard to win a primary election against an opponent with a lot of money and name recognition using free media.

Most significant fundraisers in MD-1 have already signed on with the Harris campaign and he has the endorsement of former governor Bob Ehrlich.
Some of these fundraisers could jump ship but they would have their work cut out for them.

To be charitable, Pipkin is not a fundraising animal. In his run against Senator Mikulski he raised about $660,000 in individual contributions and loaned his campaign some $1.6 million of his own money. His financial report from January 2007 shows that he still has $570,000+ in outstanding loans to his state senatorial campaign and his FEC report shows that as of October 2007 he still had $1.618 million owed to him by his federal senate campaign committee.

All told Senator Pipkin has dropped $2.2 million of his own money on his political career.

Can he keep it up?

I'm not his accountant or his wife so I don't know. What seems certain is that if Mr. Pipkin decided to run he will have to do so on a self-financing basis through the primary. This will cost him another $500,000 if the fund raising by Mr. Gilchrest and Mr. Harris are any indication. If Mr. Pipkin takes this route it will trigger a provision in the campaign finance laws which will allow those contributors who have already maxed out their contributions to Mr. Harris to give more money.

If the primary goes Armageddon, it is worthwhile recalling that Mr. Harris is not exactly impoverished himself and as yet has not loaned his campaign money.

The reason Mr. Pipkin did not enter this race earlier was that he and Mr. Harris know that if they both run in the primary that only Mr. Gilchrest will benefit. Mr. Pipkin elected to sit out the race this summer.

At the time, however, Mr. Gilchrest didn't look as vulnerable as he looks (and presumably polls) today. While the vulnerability of Mr. Gilchrest may have changed, the basic calculus has not. With Harris and Pipkin in the primary Gilchrest wins and goes back to the yellow-stripe Republican caucus in the House.

It is difficult to see how Mr. Pipkin mounts a challenge at this late date that is anything more than a spoiler. He should stay out of the race and endorse Senator Harris.

More below the fold.

Wayne Gilchrest is a Loyal Republican

In seven years in the White House President Bush has only vetoed seven five bills:

  • House Vote 388 - HR 810: Embryonic Stem Cell Research - Veto Override, July 19, 2006
  • House Vote 276 - HR 1591: Fiscal 2007 Supplemental - Veto Override, May 02, 2007
  • House Vote 982 - HR 976: Children's Health Insurance - Veto Override, October 18, 2007
  • House Vote 1040 - HR 1495: Water Resources Development - Veto Override, November 06, 2007
  • House Vote 1122 - HR 3043: Fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations - Veto Override, November 15, 2007

Only one Republican has voted to override them all. Who is he? MD-1's own Wayne Gilchrest.

More below the fold.

An Endangered Species

That would be Maryland Republicans according to Wryoak.

I don't know that I would engage in quite so much triumphalism but I believe on the big things that they have it exactly right.

Governor O'Malley, in my view, was a big winner in the special session. He got more than he asked for in terms of taxes. He is able to point at the General Assembly and say "under my plan 83% (or whatever number he was using on that particular day) of Marylanders would have paid less in taxes, I was a tax-cutting machine, the General Assembly changed that and now most of you are paying more." He's going to be owed a lot of favors from this session, and if he pays off on what he promised to get taxes and slots, he will get whatever he wants for the remainder of his term.

The Republican caucus was unable to stick together even on minor issues, like the nonessential slots bill, and O'Malley has been able to pick off enough of them with various goodies that he won't have to worry about a revolt later on. The Republican caucus was punked and they will stay punked.

Wryoak could be right about O'Malley's assault on Republicans in Maryland. I don't know why he'd waste the time or energy doing this unless he simply needs amusement but if he is the focusing of a reduced Thornton GCEI on those jurisdictions which elected him - Montgomery and Prince George's Counties and Baltimore City - while conspicuously punishing jurisdictions that voted against (an outcome of his budget scheme that we've previously noted) him certainly plays into that theory.

What can go wrong? The policy team could get a little nuts pushing a social agenda (making it harder for rural swing voters to care about a few extra tax bucks back) or the state economy could spectacularly tank - that would be our present bet - but short of these developments, in three years we could be hunting Republicans with dogs.

More below the fold.