Friday, February 29, 2008

Sticking up for Amendment 10

I came across an interesting story today from the state of Vermont. Yesterday a State Senate committee there passed a bill to create a task force to study the effects of lowering Vermont's legal drinking age to 18. The sponsor of the bill, State Senator Hinda Miller, called it an effort to bring the underage drinking on college campuses out of the shadows:

"Our laws aren't working. They're not preventing underage drinking. What they're doing is putting it outside the public eye," Vermont state Sen. Hinda Miller said. "So you have a lot of kids binge drinking. They get sick, they get scared and they get into trouble and they can't call because they know it's illegal."


On that note, read on below the fold...



Obviously if a bill such as this came to Maryland it would have a lot of support from the SU student community and local watering holes like The Monkey Barrel or the Cactus Club. Opposing it would be local law enforcement and college-area neighborhood groups.

But my point isn't really on the merits or drawbacks of lowering the drinking age to 18. They actually raised the drinking age to 19 in Ohio just before I turned 18, which pretty much pissed me off, but managed to wait until just after I turned 21 to raise it to that age. No, the portion that appealed to me about the story was this small effort to restore state's rights in this country, and a short history is in order.

In my native state of Ohio, there was a statewide ballot issue back in 1983 to raise the drinking age from 19 to 21, an effort that failed by a 59% - 41% margin. (Having just turned 19, you can pretty much guess which way I voted.) In raw numbers the difference was over 600,000 votes. I was among over 1.9 million voters in the Buckeye State who clearly stated that their will was to keep the age as it was at the time. But three years later the people's choice was thwarted by a federal bill called the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Passed in 1984, Congress compelled states to raise their drinking age to 21 lest they lose federal highway funding and Ohio decided to forefit that right of self-determination in 1986. Seeing the option ratified by the people of my state thrown out because the federal government thought they knew best was an important lesson in politics that further galvanized my political views.

And this option is not without risk for Vermont should they choose to follow through all the way with it. At stake is their $17 million of highway funding that the federal government provides to Vermont's state government and in an era of budget shortfalls throughout the country that money is going to yell really loud.

However, much ado has been made of late about cutting earmarks from the federal budget while little attention is paid about these infringements on the Tenth Amendment rights states have to determine their own laws. If the federal government would stop being a passthru for funds that they simply deliver back to the states, untold millions would be saved. But the problem lies with those inside the Beltway who really enjoy having the power to make states squirm and bend to their will by threatening to withhold federal funds if they don't adopt particular laws and regulations Washington bureaucrats foist upon them.

While the idea of lowering the drinking age may or may not appeal to those reading here today, I think we should all encourage the state of Vermont to make this stand against federal laws that unjustly usurp their rights of self-determination.

Crossposted on monoblogue.


More below the fold.

A minimum of global warming?

I actually wrote this last night but wasn't going to crosspost to Red Maryland until I noticed I got some good comments on it. So I'll add to the discussion here. I also added the response to the global warming bill from the Maryland Republican Party.

According to the weather.com website, the average February 28 high temperature for Salisbury is 50 degrees while the low is normally 31. So why is it 22 degrees out as I write this at 8:30 in the evening?

Well, weather here is like that in many other places - the standard joke is if you don't like the conditions on the Shore, wait 5 minutes and they will change. The last couple days we've been under the influence of a frigid high-pressure system, something that happens a couple times a winter. This one just happens to be later than most. But we're in a winter that has seen unusually large amounts of snow in various regions of the country, along with similar reports from China and snow falling in Baghdad for the first time in memory.

And there are ominous signs that this could be a future trend. A recent editorial in Investor's Business Daily points out research by Canadian scientists suggesting that the activity on the sun is entering a phase known as the Maunder Minimum, with a decided lack of sunspot activity over the last year or so - unusual for solar activity, which tends to fluctuate in an 11-year cycle. The last similar phase, one the phenomenon was named for, traces back to the 17th century and coincided with a century of very chilly global weather.

(Believe it or not, I'm using the fold.)



While these scientists are looking for additional funding to conduct their solar research, they come to a much different conclusion than many of their peers in the community:


R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada's Carleton University, says that "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales."

Rather, he says, "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet."

Patterson, sharing Tapping's concern, says: "Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth."

"Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again," Patterson says. "If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

Of course, Investor's Business Daily is no scientific journal, but why should we be skeptical about observations such as the ones this Canadian team has found when we readily accept the word of non-scientist Al Gore about global warming being imminent because of all the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels? Yes, there are scientists who agree with Al Gore, but how many of them are looking for research grants too? Besides, the warmest year in recorded history wasn't 2007, or even 1998 - it was in 1934, well before the SUV was invented.

So I'm going to accept the premise, borne out by historic events, that we're in for an era of lower global temperatures. In the meantime, we in Maryland may have to deal with the effects of the regulations proposed in HB712/SB309. Among its goals are, "achieving a mandated 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020 and a mandated 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2050." Not only that, this bill would require:

  • a cap-and-trade system for emissions trading (of course, these credits would be purchased from the state, with the proceeds going to help reduce energy bills for low-income residents and "measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled");
  • require electric companies to track and account for the greenhouse gases they create;
  • also, "if, in the Department's discretion, auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are inadequate to fund the necessary administrative and technical costs of implementing this subtitle, the Department may establish a Greenhouse Gas Emissions fee of no more than 4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted to be paid by a source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state."

So, beginning with the adoption of the bill on June 1st, the Department of the Environment has three months to put together the list of compliance measures that would start in 2009, and the measure would fully culminate by 2012.

Of course, these idealists in Annapolis don't look at the impact this would have on Maryland residents and businesses. If you thought the electric rate increases we've had over the last couple years were bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. Of course, should these increases be denied by the PSC, then the companies will have no choice but to limit the supply or face bankruptcy. Can anyone say rolling blackouts?

And a "measure to reduce vehicle miles traveled" sounds to me like a car tax based on the number of miles you drive. That would be after they invest huge tax dollars in mass transit that no one really wants to ride and slash highway funding so that the traffic which does remain will be in perpetual gridlock on pothole-strewn roads.

Meanwhile, heating your home through these colder winters will become an iffy proposition because of the supply shortages and extremely high costs for electricity or fossil fuels like heating oil or natural gas. (That is, if you still have a job in Maryland since businesses will flee these repressive regulations as quickly as possible.)

I don't accept the premise that this bill is even necessary given the recent research on a theory that is more valid as that of mankind causing global warming. Certainly we will someday need to evolve past fossil fuels to power our lives but that day is beyond the lifespan of both me and my daughter, plus any children she has. We have plenty of oil and natural gas out there but too many restrictions on fetching our native supplies, not to mention the virtually untapped nuclear power aspect of generating electricity. If we spent half as much time dismantling restrictions on drilling for oil as we did debating the fallacy of manmade global warming, gas might not be over $3 a gallon.

And we wouldn't have to worry about those colder winters ahead, knowing that we had the energy available to be able to heat our homes in a comfortable manner at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, the thought of energy independence doesn't seem to permeate the minds of those in Annapolis who think they know better.

And the GOP response:

Democrats in the General Assembly have now held hearings on Senate Bill 309 and House Bill 712, bills that would require the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 90% by 2050. Recent newspaper articles have focused on the impact these bills would have on Maryland’s economy and the likelihood that factories would shut down and people would lose jobs. The fiscal note for these bills indicates that there will be significant cost implications for small business, but that no study has been conducted.

Dr. Jim Pelura, Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, released the following statement:

“Marylanders are blessed to live among such beautiful natural resources, and we have a duty to be good stewards of what we enjoy today and pass on to future generations. There are ways for us to accomplish our mutual goals of a healthy economy and healthy environment, but it cannot be found in more government regulation."


More below the fold.

Impending Global Warming Hysteria induced Economic Cataclysm somewhat averted

I bet you that the people of Western Maryland won't give a lick about global warming if this happens:

A bill being considered in Annapolis today would require businesses across the state to cut their average emissions of pollutants that cause global warming by 25 percent by 2020 and by 90 percent by 2050.

Gary Curtis, a vice president of NewPage, said these limits could mean he would have to replace coal with natural gas - which creates less carbon dioxide but costs five times as much.

He said he could try to make his machinery more energy-efficient, but that would shave only a few percentage points off his fuel consumption. Substituting wind or solar power for coal wouldn't work, he said, because they are not reliable enough to run his wood pulping machines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"It would basically put us out of business," said Curtis, as he watched a clattering conveyor belt carry logs into a machine with whirling blades.

"We need to have [pollution] goals that are aggressive but achievable - and forcing us to do this much would be disastrous," he said.

With 950 employees, NewPage is the largest industrial employer in Western Maryland. And it's one of several businesses in the state, including the former Bethlehem Steel mill and power plants, that have complained that the Global Warming Solutions Act could make it impossible for them to compete by imposing limits that do not exist in other states or countries.

I'm glad that the O'Malley Administration is so dedicated to global warming that they plan on finishing off the state's economy once and for all in the process. And the impending economic disaster will be far worse for places in Western Maryland, where there are fewer industrial related jobs than it will in the Baltimore area. Places like Luke (population: 80) are dependent on these jobs to keep their economies above water., and it is something that impacts their entire region:
"This is one of the lone remaining heavy industries in the whole region," said Matt Diaz, director of economic development for Allegany County. "If it closed, it would have a ripple effect all over Western Maryland, impacting not only mill workers, but also a lot of loggers and coal miners and truck drivers."
The fact that the O'Malley Administration is content to kill off economies across Maryland for a visionless plan based on junk science should give all Marylanders pause...

....which made it even more curious to see this today:
The O'Malley administration today proposed paring back a bill aimed at reducing global warming pollution after Maryland industries warned the legislation could put them out of business.

Instead of mandating a 90 percent cut in greenhouse gases statewide by 2050, an amended version of the bill would set this as a goal that the state should write a plan to try to reach, officials said.

"The Maryland Department of the Environment will institute the planning process to get to the 2050 goal ... but we want to clarify that the bill does not require a straight out 90 percent reduction," Maryland Environment Secretary Shari Wilson told a joint hearing of State House committees this afternoon.
Which means this bill is actually even more pointless than before. However at least we have seen at least some capability of common sense to seep into Annapolis before we try to close the last remaining industrial wage-earning jobs we have here in Maryland.

This crisis has been averted, hopefully because legislators realized the damaging consequences to Maryland's working families.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Tom Pelton is a Reporter, Isn't He?

Tom Pelton, the Baltimore Sun’s environmental activist/reporter, ignited a huge straw man on the Sun’s Bay and Environment blog. Pelton’s straw man is the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s referral of reporters to the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine’s petition of 19,000 scientists claiming

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide,methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Pelton ably slays this man of straw:
But what the press release doesn't say is that this petition was circulated a decade ago... Nor does the press release reveal that this petition came from a fringe group called the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, which has been criticized by mainstream scientists.

What is the Oregon Group? Source Watch, an online information service provided by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy, describes the Oregon Group as "a small research institute that studies biochemistry, diagnostic medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine and the molecular biology of aging.

It is headed by... an eccentric scientist who has a long history of controversial entanglements with figures on the fringe of accepted research. OISM also markets a home-schooling kit for 'parents concerned about socialism in the public schools' and publishes books on how to survive nuclear war."

None of the eight faculty members listed on the Oregon Institute's website are climate scientists. Six are chemists, one is an electrical engineer and another is a professor of medicine.

Nice job Tom, you have revealed MBRG’s use of a discredited organization, a thousand huzzahs for you.

However, all this proves is that Rocky Worcester needs to a better job on his homework. MBRG could have cited other scientists like Richard Lindzen, Don Easterbrook, Fred Singer, or Roy Spencer who are skeptical of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Counting heads is not a line argument skeptics of AGW should get into because it does not really prove anything. As I will show later, this is a problem for the alarmists and their “2,500 scientists” as well.

Pelton offers up his own good old-fashioned cow dung.

More Peltonian nonsense below the fold



Let us start with the “non-partisan” Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Technically, Pelton is correct when he labels CMD as nonpartisan. However, it is a distinction without a difference. The Center for Media and Democracy is an unabashed left wing media advocacy group. CMD receives funding from left wing foundations such as Rockefeller and Tides foundations. When avowed leftists like Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, and Erich Schlosser offer testimonials on its behalf, you know the organization is decidedly partisan.

Tom Pelton is a reporter, isn’t he?

Pelton predictably goes on to cite the IPCC and the “real consensus” among scientists

The real consensus of scientists is not reflected by the Oregon Institute. It is reflected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific organization with more than 2,500 scientists from 130 countries that recently won the Nobel Prize.

A year ago, the Intergovernmental Panel concluded it was more than 90 percent sure - having "very high confidence" - that global warming is being caused by human industry.

In November, the IPCC issued another report that went even farther, saying: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.... There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming."


I guess Tom did not know that the IPCC won the Nobel PEACE prize, which is NOT a SCIENTIFIC category. Also, the IPCC report he links to is not the actual IPCC report, rather it is the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of its Synthesis Report (SR), which is a political document written by bureaucrats. The SPM downplays uncertainties from the main scientific report, omits contrary evidence, and in many ways disagrees with the underlying scientific report.

An analysis of the IPCC Working Group I peer-review process (the actual scientific report) by the Science and Public Policy Institute revealed:

The critical chapter, that which attributed recent warming to human activity, was reviewed by 54 individual and 8 government representatives but almost 1/3rd of reviewers made just one comment.
- 31 of the 54 had a vested interest in the report, as editors or having papers cited
- 26 authored or co-authored papers cited in the final draft
- 10 reviewers explicitly mentioned their own papers in their review

Among the 23 independent reviewers just 4 explicitly endorsed the chapter with its hypothesis of a significant human influence on climate, and one other endorsed only a specific section.

The reviewers' comments show that is actually little support for the IPPC's contention that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have caused warming.

The IPCC reports appear to be largely based on a consensus of scientific papers, but those papers are the product of research for which the funding is strongly influenced by previous IPCC reports. This makes the claim of a human influence self perpetuating and a corruption of the normal scientific process.


The folks at Climate Resistance analyzed the qualifications of so-called IPCC "experts" Pelton touts.

Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography... But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists.

One professor (Abigail Bristow) wasn't what you'd call a climate scientist, but a professor of Transport Studies at Newcastle University... Another Professor - Diana Liverman at Oxford University - specialises in "human dimensions of global environmental change" - Geography is a social science too...

Among the remainder - most of whom are not professors, but research associates at best, are an assorted bunch, many of whom are better known for their alarmist statements in the mainstream press than they are for their contributions to scientific knowledge - activists in other words, with their own political motivation...

Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences...

Included as contributors to WGII are Patricia Craig, Judith Cranage, Susan Mann, and Christopher Pfeiffer, all from Pennsylvania State University. It's not that these people aren't experts in their field - they probably are. Our problem with their inclusion on the list of Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report is that their jobs are (in order) website-designer, administrative assistant (x2), and network administrator.

That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world's top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton cites Naomi Oreskes systematic review, in which, “more than 900 peer-reviewed articles on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found that not a single one challenged the fact that human industry is playing a role in global warming.”

Perhaps Pelton is unaware that Oreskes study has been thoroughly debunked and discredited. He might have known that if he bothered to read the comments on his own blog post.

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton then turns to another lame, but yet again predictable alarmist ploy.

In his book, The Weather Makers, author Tim Flannery described a well funded propaganda effort by industry lobbying groups to try to convince journalists and the public that scientists are still debating whether global warming is real. That debate is over, but many in the public doesn't know it yet because of doubt manufactured by industries with billions at stake in avoiding regulation,

Flannery writes. "The industries who oppose action on climate change are little different from the asbestos and tobacco companies, who by constantly challenging and clouding the outcomes of research into the link between their products and cancer seek to buy themselves a few more decades of fat profits," Flannery writes.

This is laughable for two reasons. First, alarmists receive BILLIONS of dollars in funding versus the millions that skeptics receive from “industry” lobbying groups.

Second, it is hypocritical of Pelton to argue that skeptics are funded by industry lobbyists when General Electric, which possess the largest lobbying army in Washington spent 118.4 million from 1998-2005 (24.2 million in 2005 alone), pushing hard for various climate change legislation so it can benefit from government subsidies and mandates. GE, by the way, snatched up all of Enron’s alternative energy interests at it went belly-up in 2001. Enron was the chief lobbyist on the Clinton administration to sign the Kyoto treaty because according to an internal Enron email it “would be good for Enron stock.”

Tom Pelton is a reporter isn’t he?

Pelton says

So for anyone to claim these days that global warming is not a reality --as some AM radio talk show hosts and business groups do -- is clearly outside the scientific and political mainstream.

Curious that he does not name the aforementioned radio talk show hosts or business groups that deny that global warming is reality. Given the overall disingenuousness of Pelton’s post, this is not surprising.

No serious skeptic denies that the earth has warmed or that climate changes. What we are skeptical of is the smoke and mirrors “consensus” on the theory of AGW, and the economy crushing and freedom denying ramifications of alarmist policy prescriptions.

However, this position is not what Pelton challenges rather he attacks straw men and arguments no one made. Alarmists like Pelton, know they are losing traction on both the scientific and political fronts. This is why they to burning straw men, recycling discredited studies, and using the “well-funded” industry-stooge slur against skeptics. Many in the general-public are not buying the theory of AGW, and understand the drastic effects alarmist policy prescriptions will have on the economy.


More below the fold.

Refuge Podcast #56 - Mid-Session Review

Your source for conservative, Republican news, views and insight it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

In our opening segment, a listener asks to hear more about the recent dustup concerning the request for expenses of our county legislators. The local media misses the real story but you will hear it discussed in this podcast. Listen in and share your thoughts!

Our blogger roundtable convenes with Red Maryland contributors Brian Griffiths and Mark Newgent to follow up on our General Assembly Session preview. As we work through the midpoint of the regular session, how are the major issues before the legislature proceeding? Our blogger contributors offer their opinions and insights.

In our closing segment, we open the "Fat Files" to discuss two new reports on the obesity scare. First, a new call for an international solution to obesity even though the sponsors admit having no idea what effective measures would be. Second, a proposed state law in Mississippi would make it illegal to serve any person who the state deems to be obese.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Question of the Week: McCain's VP Pick

Here at RedMaryland we are going to try, in light of the wildly popular RedMaryland endorsements, to do a "question of the week" portion of our blog. This week's question: Who do you want to see as John McCain's running mate?

The results may surprise you....and they're below the fold.




Brian Griffiths- Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK):
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin brings a lot of things to a potential national ticket. First off, she already has a record as a reformer. She challenged a Governor of her own party in a competitive primary and defeated him easily. She also brings a different demographic to the ticket. While Senator McCain can easily be portrayed as an old Washington insider, scarred from battles both real and political, Governor Palin will give voters something different. A feeling of vibrancy, of renewal. About as far away from being a Washington insider as you can possibly get. She's so popular, both inside and outside of Alaska, that a Draft Palin for VP movement has existed on the internet for over a year.

And don't let her looks and vibrancy fool you; she is also a conservative's conservative. She believes in limited government, in rooting out corruption, the Second Amendment, and in fiscal responsibility. Governor Palin represents a lot of the things that we as conservative Republicans have been concerned that Senator McCain is not.

You can take a look for yourself how impressive Governor Palin is by checking out this video from washingtonpost.com:


It's refreshing that somebody would actually admit on the record that she would be interested in serving her country in such a capacity.

The people of Alaska probably don't want to lose Governor Palin yet, given that she has just started her work as their Governor. However, I'm not sure there are many other choices Senator McCain can make that would energy the base as much as the selection of Governor Palin would. I hope that Senator McCain calls her to serve her country, something she would do admirably.

My honorable mention choices include Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, and JC Watts.

Martin Watcher- Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK): My choice for John McCain's running mate would be Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. The beautiful young Governor brings two things to this campaign. She is a mother of four young children and with her husband present the image of the ideal American family, something this campaign needs to center on. I know that it is stupid to focus on image when we try to pretend to be meaty ideologues focused on substance, but I am looking at what the American people would vote for. I don't want to attempt to have a black VP candidate to compete for a black vote that our party would never win, especially against a black Presidential candidate. We need to therefore either look to the suburban white voter, or the Hispanic voter, and Governor Palin obviously appeals to the suburban soccer moms and Nascar dads.

And she is a reformer in Alaska coming in after the dreadfully corrupt Murkowski regime (I should say an administration that appeared corrupt). She defeated Murkowski in a 5 way primary and still captured over 50% of the vote, a pretty impressive thing to do. She has taken on big oil in Alaska, one of the few places where big oil is popular, and that type of populism would appeal to the country. Most importantly, she is clean of any Washington insider view. I think Obama will win because he isn't viewed as a Washington insider, something that McCain will easily be viewed as.

Governor Sarah Palin will be a counterbalance to McCain's age and experience, with an energetic and picture-perfect family to present to the American public.

Bud the Blogger - Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL):When it comes time for John McCain to ponder potential vice presidential candidates, few will argue that he needs a strong conservative. Often, running mates are chosen in hopes of expanding a voter bloc. In the case of McCain, he likely needs a strategic individual who appeals to a wide range of voters as well as a skeptical base. In turn, someone with executive experience would provide a great compliment to the long time Arizona Senator.

Certainly, Florida Governor Charlie Crist would be an ideal choice. On the eve of the crucial Florida primary, Governor Crist put aside longtime friendships to back McCain. Governor Crist also provides instant conservative credentials. For instance, he's staunchly pro-life and pro-marriage. In addition, he earned the highest rating (A+) granted by the National Rifle Association. Finally, he remained true to his business roots by actively pursuing massive tax cuts for Florida residents.

Governor Crist appeals to a wide range of voters in his home state. In fact, a recent poll shows that 61 percent of Florida voters rate Governor Charlie Crist's performance as excellent or good. With those numbers, he can single handily deliver the swing state of Florida which translates to a hefty 27 electoral votes.

With McCain already facing scrutiny from a frustrated base, he can ill-afford a contentious vice presidential nominee. With Governor Crist, McCain gains a loyal and charismatic conservative. Likewise, he virtually locks up a state crucial to the GOP in November. Honestly, I cannot see another choice more worthy or valuable than Governor Charlie Crist.

Tim Patterson- Former Rep. John Kasich (R-OH):
While I am not a fan of loud-talking, John Kasich is a solid fiscal, social, free-market and free speech conservative. He's popular in Ohio, a bell-weather state that will be crucial for a Republican victory in November. Placing him on the ticket also affords the opportunity to revive a moribund Ohio GOP marred by scandal and poor leadership. Putting Ohio in play will also help with Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. As an evangelical Christian, Kasich will also appeal to Bible Belt Republicans and do well in the same places where Mike Huckabee showed so much promise.

Kasich was a leader in the Republican Revolution, rising in 1995 to chair the House Budget Committee that finally was able to create a balanced budget under Republican Leadership. He is a vicious dog on wasteful spending, earmarks, and pork. His message is positive, energetic, and patriotic. Where John McCain is weak on the issue of energy and age, Kasich exudes vigor and youth. He was considered for the Dole ticket in 1996, but was ultimately rejected because of his perceived youth. Today, it would be an invaluable asset.

He took some hits in the 1990s for helping to pass the Clinton Crime Bill (mainly because he found ways to pay for it), and thus his NRA rating is not as strong as it could be. But he is solid down the line on nearly every issue important to Conservatives. He would be a strong, energetic candidate on the ticket, and would go a long way to shoring up a McCain right flank.

Greg Kine - Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA):
While I believe Charlie Crist will be McCain's pick for VP, I would love to see Governor Jindal in that role.

Bobby Jindal is the solidly conservative wunderkind of the Republican party who recently liberated Louisiana from the inept leadership of Democrat Kathleen Blanco. Governor Jindal is a bright, energetic, honest and charismatic example of the kind of conservative leader our party should be producing.

Oh, he is an Indian-American, too. In an election year where historical firsts seem to be a prerequisite, he fits that bill. Despite his minority status, he won in a Southern state which many have suggested could never support a non-white. He helps McCain in winning over the conservative base and is a proven vote getter in a region where McCain showed surprising weakness in the primary season. Governor Jindal provides the forward-looking, youth-driven ("Obamaesque?") eloquence to complement the old-school, well just plain old, persona of John McCain.

While his work in Louisiana will probably keep him from taking such a role, his selection as a VP candidate would not only boost McCain but put a talented, lifelong conservative in the top tier for consideration for the next open GOP Presidential nomination.

Streiff - Gov Mark Sanford (R-SC):
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Fiscal and social conservative. Champion of school vouchers. Proven administrator. Foe of pork barrel spending. He is a running mate that would be attractive to conservatives who feel alienated by the selection of candidates available to them this year.

Michael Swartz - Gov Mark Sanford (R-SC): Personally I'd love to see Duncan Hunter as his running mate since I supported him in the primary, but I know that won't happen for two main reasons:
  • No executive experience.
  • Doesn't help him carry a state - McCain likely won't carry CA anyway.

I think it will be a Southern or Midwestern governor, and out of the group he's likely going to pick one who's in his second term. This would place six on the list: Rick Perry of Texas, Bob Riley of Alabama, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Pawlenty and Sanford are the youngest of the group, both 47, while Riley is the oldest at 63. Barbour and Perdue are also in their 60's. And don't count out Mike Huckabee.

But out of that group I'd lean toward Sanford.

I'm thinking because the likely Democrat candidate is B. Hussein Obama and he'll probably pick a governor as his running mate as well (one possibility would be Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas), we'll need a younger presence on the ticket. Unfortunately with having McCain as the likely nominee, a man who conservatives are lukewarm to at best, it's making our side pick a running mate to secure our conservative base rather than expand into purple states - that's why I see someone like Sebelius appealing to the other side. Obviously she's female and the Democrats always play the gender card, but she can also chip into the farm belt Midwest that's traditionally been red and maybe pull a state or two in that region away from the GOP.

Mark Newgent - Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) or Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL):I would like to see McCain choose Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina or Florida's Charlie Crist as his running mate. Both men are solid conservatives with solid executive records. Either man on the ticket would help with the conservative base. Crist admittedly would help McCain to garner more independent and blue dog Democrat votes, more so than Sanford.

However, I would not rule out McCain choosing Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty a moderate Republican governing a true blue state.


More below the fold.

Ratepayers Misled? Wow. That is Brilliant.

The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting today that PSC Chief Steve Larsen charged Constellation Energy with misleading "ratepayers" in the costs to decommission the nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs.

Two points I want to address.

First, the "ratepayers" were misled. You don't say? Where in the hell have you been?

Second, define "ratepayers".

The Ratepayers Were Misled

The ratepayers have been misled since DAY ONE of this entire "electricity deregulation" movement. The members of the General Politburo in Soddom on the Severn lied to us. Governor Glendenning lied to us. BGE lied to us. FERC lied to us. Louis Goldstein lied to us when his family sold the land to BGE to build Calvert Cliffs.

Ratepayers have been lied to for eighty years, frankly. Especially residential ratepayers. No one to date in government has addressed the very simple fact that residential rates under the regulated regime were subsidized by the commercial rates, and that "deregulation" was really about making residential ratepayers pay more of the share of the cost of electricity AND creating a speculation market for energy for the benefit NOT of ratepayers, but generators.

Electricity deregulation was designed to create an artificial arbitrage mechansim where companies like Constellation, Enron, and so on could make money on the skim of the sale of electricity. That is why electricity deregulation was important to the energy industry. They wanted to create a commodities market for energy that went beyond the bulk markets for oil and coal, and instead took advantage of the uncertainty that would come from wild price swings in electricty costs created by ever-increasing demand in a resource-constricted environment.

That is why Constellation is not fighting tooth and nail O'Guvnah's massively totalitarian and economy-killing enery bills. Because Constellation Energy Group would benefit ten-times over from the skim-- more than they would from the generation of electricity. This is organized crime on a nationalistic scale.

The entire notion that the ratepayers should pay for the decomissioning of nuclear power plants -- the so-called "stranded costs" debate -- is one big lie. Mayo A. Shattuck is lying when he argues that his customers should pay for decomissioning plants that were long ago amoritized and paid for.

So to Steve Larsen, I say this: where you have been for the last nine years, pal?

Please Define Ratepayers

I really wish "ratepayers" would be defined. Why? Because the article in the Baltimore Business Journal makes it seem like I -- a "ratepayer" for over 15 years to BGE -- actually had a say in this mess:

State utility regulators told executives of Constellation Energy Group and its subsidiary, Baltimore Gas & Electric, on Tuesday that ratepayers may have gotten a raw deal in 1999 in regards to how much they would pay to close old nuclear reactors at Calvert Cliffs.

"There was no knowledge of what ratepayers were signing onto," said Steve Larsen, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission during a hearing in Baltimore.

Or:

"They [ratepayers] didn't want to take the risks of market changes driving up the costs," said Mike Naeve, an attorney with Washington, D.C.-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, who was representing Constellation at the hearing. "It could be a cost to the ratepayer or a benefit."

It's funny, but I do not recall being asked what I thought. I don't remember voting on anything. I am pretty sure I didn't get a phone call saying, "Hey, Mr. Patterson, please push 1 if you agree."

So who are these ratepayers that made this deal?

Of course the answer to that is simple: the "ratepayers" are the Public Service Commission and the General Politburo. So maybe the article should be rewritten:

State utility regulators told executives of Constellation Energy Group and its subsidiary, Baltimore Gas & Electric, on Tuesday that the PSC and the state legislature screwed over Marylanders in 1999 in regards to how much they would pay to close old nuclear reactors at Calvert Cliffs.

"There was no knowledge of how bad we were screwing over Marylanders when we climbed into bed with Constellation Energy Group," said Steve Larsen, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission during a hearing in Baltimore.

Which brings up a final, rhetorical question: how can I be held accountable to a contract I was not a party to?


Crossposted at www.gunpowderchronicle.com


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cutting Crew

After raising billions in taxes and approving billions in new spending, the General Assembly finally realized "Hey, we have to cut some things in the budget":

Worried that a faltering economy could cause a worse-than-expected slowdown in the state's finances, Maryland lawmakers are exploring deep cuts in Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposals to bolster spending on the environment, health care and other programs.

Lawmakers have been looking for $200 million in cuts in O'Malley's proposed budget to compensate for the flagging economy, but now they are saying that could rise to $300 million or more when updated revenue projections come out next week.
The Sun story (which, incidentally, makes no mention of the half a billion in new entitlement programs approved during the Special Session) goes on to note this gem:
"The likelihood is, given the national economic downturn, that those difficult series of decisions will continue," O'Malley said. "Everybody is looking at the revenue estimates, and if they are coming in lower than projected, there will have to be further cuts."
This isn't exactly breaking news, and the talk of a recession was going on during the Special Session where O'Malley insisted that the legislature do further harm to the economy.

Crazy thing is that, once again, Peter Franchot looks like the only prominent Democrat who understood what was going on during the time of the Special Session:
Franchot cautioned against holding a special session last year, saying there was no immediate fiscal crisis and that unintended consequences could stem from acting in haste to plug a projected budget gap.

So far in fiscal 2008, corporate income taxes are nearly 24 percent lower than at the corresponding time the year before, according to the letter. Though such tax receipts are volatile, they are lagging "well behind" expectations, Franchot wrote.
General-fund sales tax receipts were 5.5 percent lower in January than in the corresponding period a year ago, reflecting slow December sales. Franchot called that figure "surprisingly weak."
All of this really isn't that surprising when you consider that legislators were warned about potential revenue losses stemming form higher taxes.

The complete incompetence of O'Malleynomics is in full bloom in Annapolis ladies and gentlemen. The combination of tax increases and spending increases has served to hamstring the General Assembly. While I am glad that something is being done to curtail OMaley's profligate and ill-advised spending, I wish only that members of the Legislative Leadership will realize their foolish ways and roll back all of the historic and unnecessary tax hikes enacted during the Special Session...

(Crossposted)


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Will Gilchrest do the unthinkable?

Earlier this month, the political career of Wayne Gilchrest ended with a resounding thud as he lost the GOP primary by nine points to Andy Harris. Even more shocking was the margin that he lost to Harris by on the western side of the bay.

So my antenna went up when I saw a story dated yesterday on The Hill newspaper's website by Aaron Blake that quoted Gilchrest's right-hand man Tony Caligiuri whining about a lack of polling and support from the National Republican Congressional Committee. While NRCC head Tom Cole personally endorsed Gilchrest in the race, Caligiuri noted:

"They never offered to do any polling for us or really do anything financially for us before the primary, yet they were polling the Harris-Kratovil race, which was kind of a curious thing. The fact that they spent however much it costs to test Harris in a poll without ever doing anything to support the incumbent is kind of a chilling message to incumbents."

Tony blamed some of the lack of effort by the NRCC on the fact that Gilchrest wasn't one to support the party through contributions from his own campaign, and also stated that it wasn't likely Gilchrest would be active in the GOP after his term expired. For his part, NRCC Chairman Cole told The Hill that sharing the information with Gilchrest would have needed to be listed as an in-kind contribution; moreover, the NRCC wasn't in a financial position to "save" its members in contested primaries.

The money quote from the story comes near its close though:

Caligiuri left open the possibility that Gilchrest might endorse Kratovil in the general election after a nasty primary battle with Harris. Harris defeated Gilchrest 43-33, bringing an end to the centrist incumbent’s 18-year House career.

Gilchrest has regularly won two-thirds of the general election vote, making his endorsement potentially key to an uphill battle for Kratovil. (Emphasis mine.)

So it appears that a guy who voted with Nancy Pelosi almost half the time in a survey last year could be endorsing someone who will vote with her at least 70% of the time, based on Democrat loyalty from that same sampling.

Speaking of Frank Kratovil, he appeared Monday morning on the AM Salisbury radio program with Bill Reddish. In a brief interview, Kratovil commented that the manner that the Republican primary was contested will have a "great impact" on the general election. And to make sure that occurs, I'm certain their campaign has video of every commercial and a copy of every mailing produced and sent out by Wayne Gilchrest and E.J. Pipkin.

In stressing his experience with the immigration issue from the point of view of someone trying to enforce laws, Frank talked about working to make driving without a valid license a jailable offense, so the ICE agents would at least have an opportunity to deport scofflaws in the country illegally. Prior to that, they'd pay the fine and not be heard from until the next time they were stopped. It's an issue he's running far to the right of most Democrats on, at least until he's told what's what by Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer after he wins in November.

Reddish also asked about Kratovil's Iraq policy, where he once again trotted out his standard line that going into Iraq was a "mistake" and told the radio audience he thought the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group should be followed, using "carrots and sticks" as needed to get other countries to share the Iraqi load. The failure of diplomacy was a "fair criticism" of the Bush Administration.

Frank concluded by alluding to Harris's "dismal" record on the environment, and he seems to have a friend here. To get a perfect Maryland LCV score last year, Andy would have had to vote for a ban on coastal dredging, a ban on detergents containing phosphorus, for adding solar energy to the renewable energy portfolio utilities in Maryland are now mandated to have, for the Clean Cars bill, for more restrictive stormwater management, and against weakening energy efficiency standards. He scored 18%, getting credit for the 47-0 passage of the stormwater regulations. Personally I would have gotten a zero for that crap because had I been in the Senate that vote would have been 46-1.

But Frank has no score because he's not in the General Assembly, so we're only led to assume that he would be for what he claims Harris is against - the perfect blank slate. We just have to infer his positions on a number of issues by the company he keeps, notably Martin O'Malley. As the campaign goes on, though, some of us will be paying attention.

Crossposted on monoblogue.


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William F. Buckley Jr. RIP

The American conservative movement lost one of its founding fathers today.

I just heard the news that William F. Buckley Jr. passed away at his home in Connecticut.

I owe a great deal to Buckely and his magazine.

When I first discovered National Review I was in the midst of political maturation process from a liberal by default to a proud conservative. I strongly believe that conservatism is, at its heart, a temperament. Its a temperament I've always had, but never fully understood until National Review exposed me to the serious intellectual and philosophical roots that gird it. The writers and thinkers whose eloquent words grace the pages of National Review provided me an education far better than anything I learned as an undergraduate or graduate student.

American conservatism begins with Buckley and National Review, his life's work and legacy offer an example how to advance and articulate conservative ideas with intellectual rigor, civility, and panache.


Some of Buckley's greatest quotes:

"A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"”

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

“I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

“Liberals, it has been said, are generous with other peoples' money, except when it comes to questions of national survival when they prefer to be generous with other people's freedom and security.”

“I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth"

crosspoted on The Main Adversary


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DUI License Plates

You can tell that the Maryland General Assembly is in session. You can hear the laughter 50 miles away.

As reported on Channel 11 this morning in their usual absurd question, the Maryland General Assembly is going to consider legislation that would require repeat offenders to have a DUI license plate. Everyone but lawmakers knows that laws do not prevent people from doing things. If that was the case, no one would speed or have oral sex or take lions into movie theaters, and we know that's not the case.

Obvious problems with that law are that multiple people can use a vehicle. I drive my wife's van, she's drives my truck. When I started driving, I drove my parent's car. Who's the drunk driver?

Let's put this into perspective, let's assume Maryland Delegate Kumar Barve gets arrested for drunk driving 2 more times (he's already been arrested once). Would he then be required to have this new DUI license plate? Is that fair to Mrs. Barve to have to drive his car with the DUI plates? Everyone would think that she's the drunk driver and not our elected state delegate from Montgomery County.

Another point that I read is that if we start there, we are just going to start adding special license plates for other various offenses. Image if we add sex-offenders, which means State Delegate Robert McKee in Washington County would be required to have this plate. Or Democratic Senator candidate David Dickerson who was arrested for raping a 19-year old. What about verbal abusers? Mike Miller would get a special plate for that.

As you can see, this proposal is clearly a bad idea. If legislators want to do something serious about drunk driving, let's start convicting them and putting them in jail. If you spent several months in jail for drunk driving, I'm sure you'd be less inclined to do it again.

Crossposted at VoteNoMalley


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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We Are Stasi

We are Stasi. If you don't remember the good old days of the Cold War, you might not recognize the term "Stasi". The Stasi was the East German Secret Police force. One of the strengths of the Stasi was compelling East German citizens to spy on each other and report what they learned back to the Stasi. It was estimated that at one time, the Stasi had over seventy-percent of East Germans spying on their neighbors, family and friends. The German government is still dealing with the vast archives of the Stasi and the information contained within -- over 40 years of spying by neighbors on neighbors.

Erich Hoeneker would be immensely proud of the Maryland Senate and its child abuse bill.

You see, the Maryland Senate has just passed a bill 35-10 that makes it a misdemeanor for any healthcare worker, police officers, educators, and "others" to fail to report "suspected" child abuse to authorities.

Oddly enough, the legislation doesn't include employees of the Department of Social Services. i say that, because if you go through Maryland news archives for the last couple of years, you see a distinct pattern where the most horrific cases of abuse and death occurred on the watch of DSS. That's right: the most horrific cases of abuse happened in to children already in the DSS system.

But of course, government does no wrong in the warped and twisted world of liberals like O'Guvnah and the State Politburo. And since government does no wrong, we must make everyone part of government. By turning them into spies.

So now, if you are a parent, every time you drop your child off at daycare or school, you have to wonder: Is my kid's teacher going to turn me in today? Every visit to the emergency room or the pediatrician can be met with suspicion. Are your kids a little rambunctious? They fall a lot? Run around and trip? Better watch who sees those bruises.

Get pulled over in a speed trap? Does your kid have band aid? Bam! Get ready to drive to the precinct. If you can't stand the Fuller Brush man, wait until the Department of Social Services shows us to check out your home. Do they need a warrant? Probably not, after all, they have received a report of suspected child abuse.

Spank your child? You are in really deep doo-doo. Use hot sauce to tame a mouthy tongue on a four-year-old? Better hope your son or daughter doesn't talk about it at school. Send your child to bed without dinner? Better call 1-800-LAWYER now while you still have your phone call.

All because you are "suspected" of abusing your child. One parent's discipline is an government spy's abuse.

Another point: will the state now (finally) require Planned Parenthood to report the age of sexual partners of the women for whom they perform abortions? After all, sex with a minor under the age of 16 in Maryland is statutory rape. How will the baby-killing liberals in Soddom on the Severn handle that one? Or is statutory rape not child abuse?

At the end of the day, this law does not make Maryland safer for children. It does not provide for safer homes, safer schools, and safer communities. It does no more to hold abusers accountable. All it does is allow O'Guvnah and his fellow travelers in Soddom on the Severn to say "Look, we're doing something."

Unfortunately, he now has Marylanders spying on Marylanders, in the grand tradition of the Stasi.

Erich Hoenecker would be proud.

Crossposted at www.gunpowderchronicle.com


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More Fuel for Privatization Fire

Maybe the State of Maryland, even in our current O'Malleynomic hell, may really consider the concept of privatization. Seriously. See more below the fold....

And in the long-term, MdTA will be so saddled with debt it might even have to lease one of its facilities to a private partner, according to DLS. Over the next four years, the agency will issue $2.8 billion worth of debt to bolster its capital budget.
Now all of this is in a story about how MdTA might be ready to jack the price of tolls on the Bay Bridge up to $5.00 in the near future. But as I have argued before, the privatization of the Bay Bridge may make it cheaper for taxpayers and commuters to use the bridge, as a private toll facility operator will be able to operate the bridge at a far lower cost than the State of Maryland ever could.

Even ardent opponents of privatization don't want to see tolls doubled on MdTA facilities, and privatization may be a way to avoid that current inevitability.

Lots of Democrats and liberals talk about brining innovation to government. I can assure you that doubling tolls does not count as innovation in anyone's mind. But I think that one of the most innovate things that Maryland could do at this moment in time is to privatize our toll facilities so that we, both as commuters and as taxpayers, get the biggest bang for our buck.

(Crossposted)


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Obviously we're all going to die!

Now that I've got your attention, it's time to break out the parkas, folks (H/T Instapundit)

Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

And yes, there is a handy-dandy chart to show the cooling.

As I keep saying, in the long-term picture this means absolutely nothing. But it is interesting to see scientific evidence as to how much our planet has cooled just in the last year.

And that, of course, makes all of this stuff coming out from the O'Malley administration about carbon trading, carbon credits, and all of the other global warming nonsense coming out of Annapolis that much more farcical. While it's a typical tenet of O'Malleynomics to act before thinking, we should make sure that we fully understand what is going on around us before we go to great lengths to destroy Maryland's economy.

(Crossposted)


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Once and Again

No matter how bad the budget deficit gets, leftists in Annapolis still always come back the bad idea of public campaign financing:

After narrowly failing last year, advocates are trying again to make Maryland one of a handful of states that publicly fund campaigns for office, a reform they believe will diminish the influence of moneyed special interests.

"I think politicians should be beholden to the public, not to big donors," said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat who sponsored legislation the past two years that would provide state funds to political candidates who volunteer to forgo most funding from private donors.

It seems like we have to start reminding people year after year and time and again as to why this is such a bad idea. Anybody who truly believes that the public financing of elections is going to clean up politics is, as I have stated before, is shockingly naïve.

What's even more damning about the return of Senator Pinsky's proposal is the current budget mess that we find ourselves in. It's kind of hard to get jacked up about spending more of the public's money on another pointless, useless program when the people are being taxed to death in a recession. One would think that the estimated $7.5 million that would be used to fund the program would be better spent, I don't know, on crime prevention or education instead of Pollyannaish feel good programs.

If only we could get the General Assembly to pay attention to the people's business every once and awhile...

(Crossposted)


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Monday, February 25, 2008

O’Guvnah Will Destory Maryland. Marty Lies, Marylanders Die!

There are days when I have to wonder what O’Guvnah is up to. Not two months after calling a totally unneeded and worthless Special Session that launched a new round of rapacious and devastating taxation on the State of Maryland, O’Guvnah is now in the process of screwing over every single Maryland regardless of class, color, race, creed, or income level.

His three energy bills are by far the worst example of legislative and governmental overreach in the history of this state. All three bills would result in a substantially hostile energy market in Maryland for residential and commercial consumers alike, leading to dramatically higher prices, substantially less generation, and woefully inadequate transmission capacity. While presented as an “heroic” approach to conquer the mythological scourge of global warming, these energy bills will kill businesses, kill jobs, kill our way of life, and even kill quite a few Marylanders.



I say mythological scourge of global warming, because so far in the 21st century, all of the predictions of the vaunted computer models that have led us down this dandelion path. In fact, the evidence is arguing in quite the opposite direction:

From the National Post in Canada:

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.

And from Investor’s Business Daily earlier this month:
Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

And they're worried about global cooling, not warming.

Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.

Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century.

Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.

This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe.

Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

So, I say “mythological”, because we cannot prove that global warming can be cured by drastically overreacting and cutting so-called greenhouse gas emissions by so much in such a short period. That is the major thrust of these three energy bills: they are environmental bills trying to solve a problem that we still have not determined mankind can solve.

In the meantime, O’Guvnah’s new strategy is to force massive restriction (not conservation, outright restriction) down our throats in a fascist and totalitarian move. In this effort, O’Guvnah and his incompetent six-figure dark lords of the Public Service Commission will force us all into costly and dangerous schemes with the full faith and credit of the major utilities in the state, including Delmarva Power, BGE, PEPCO, and Allegheny Power. People will freeze in their homes, or die from CO poisoning (by heating their houses with gas ovens) or die in fires. Or they may die from heat stroke and exhaustion in Maryland’s brutal summers.

But O’Guvnah will be all comfy in Government House. And you can bet his legions of bureacrats will be comfy in their Hagar slacks, Arrow shirts, and poly-knit ties.

Marylanders of all stripes will pay more for energy every month than their car payments, but O’Guvnah will sleep well at night beside whatever TV news reporter he is bunking with (or Mrs. O’Judge) knowing that he is making the planet safe from all those greenhouse gases.

Just in case you are wondering, Maryland represents only 1% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Which means that any impact on our emissions will be only negligible (not even nominal) upon the larger climate issue. But the cost to Marylanders will be ASTRONOMICAL.

O’Guvnah even admits his initiatives will result in higher costs. But he counter-argues that Marylanders will be conserving SO MUCH that their overall bills will be lower. I believe that argument is facile. In fact, I think he KNOWS that he is lying out of his Irish ass. The fact is that most Marylanders are already conserving as much as they can.

I no longer keep the exterior of my house well-lit at night. I’ve cut back the heat to the point where I keep the house about 58 degrees in the winter. (I have electric heat). I’ve unplugged every electrical appliance I can where I think there is a benefit. Because I rent, getting a gas dryer or gas hot water heater is not an option for me. Because of the house (old log cabin), force hot water fed from an oil or gas burner is not an option. I just cannot get my consumption below 1800 kWh.

Unless, of course, I stopped working from home as a telecommuter. But then, that would be one more car on the road, generating carbon monoxide AND carbon dioxide, spilling oil and other chemicals, and requiring more gasoline AND ethanol than I currently use. That would actually be a lot more. I would go from filling up with 13-14 gallons every 2.5 weeks to 13-14 gallons every 5 days.

Which option do you think is better for the environment?

And that brings me to the second part of my point that O’Guvnah is a lying, thieving idiot. Maryland has some of the worst traffic in the country. Baltimore is ranked in the top ten for congestion. All of that congestion is BAD for the environment. Very bad. That is more cars consuming more gasoline. That is more cars exhausting more carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. That is more cars – usually idling in traffic jams, where they are their most inefficient – using more fuel and depositing more pollutants.

Why not get those people off the roads? Why not use the “government’s heavy hand” (if you must use it at all) to push people who COULD telecommute into telecommuting jobs. Technology allows this. If you call our office in Florida, and type in my extension, you are forwarded to Maryland, and you don’t even know it. If I call you on my business line, it shows as a Florida number. Between VOIP, FTP, VPN, and the Web, I can get more done in a day out of the office than I do in a week IN the office.

Keeping people AT HOME means less travel, less pollution, less lost productivity. It also means that you can concentrate on fixing the REAL problems of emissions and air quality issues at a large macro level. Like mercury. And fly ash. And carbon monoxide. And sulphur. It is much easier for the Maryland Department of the Environment to deal with a few dozen power plants than it is to deal with several million cars.

But to do that, electricity has be affordable, plentiful, and reliable. And O’Guvnah’s energy bills don’t hit any of those points. Under O’Guvnah, a seventy-two percent rate increase will seem like the good old days. Especially when you are cutting up furniture for firewood so your kids toes won’t fall off and their clothes will be dry.

Crossposted at www.gunpowderchronicle.com


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Friday, February 22, 2008

Who Didn't See This Coming?




Since 2000, part of my suspicions about John McCain centered on the fact that the liberal establish seemed to idolize him. Rarely does the media grant a free pass to a powerful republican as often as McCain received one. For years, we've read editorials and watched left winged pundits point to John McCain as the epitome of what all good republicans should aspire to be. Curiously, we even heard whispers back in 2004 about how McCain should abandon an ungrateful GOP establishment to team up with John Kerry.

Fast forward to last month. In a move that surprised no one, the New York Times endorsed John McCain for President. At the time, many viewed the thumbs up by that institution as the final blow to any chance of a McCain presidency. Somehow, John McCain weathered the storm and can likely clinch the republican nomination on March 4th. Predictability, being the presumptive republican nominee also means one can no longer be a media darling.

Yesterday the New York Times, an organization that once revered John McCain like a member of their elite group. abruptly decided to end their love affair. Quoting mostly unnamed sources, The New York Times insinuated that back in 2000, McCain may have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist. The story stops short of suggesting an extramarital affair, but clearly the article created a window for readers to use their imagination.

This whole charade reminds me of Rather Gate. Hopefully, it serves a wake up call to McCain that he cannot trust the media. In other words, he shouldn't let the potential for favorable press coverage affect the way he governs. From here on out, he's a marked man.

This incident may backfire on the New York Times. Despite his front runner status, McCain still couldn't woo conservatives in high numbers. Now, he may have earned his badge with conservatives. If he really wants to endear himself, perhaps he ought to denounce last month's New York Times endorsement.


Crossposted


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Frederick County Teachers Demand More Pay--Ignoring Reality

On Wednesday, the Frederick County School Board heard testimony about the FY 2009 budget. Among those testifying were Frederick County Teachers Association President Gary Brennan and Vice President Carol Dagan, both arguing for "competitive salaries" for county teachers.

Now don't get me wrong, Brennan and Dagan have every right, even the duty, to plead their case for more money for teachers. But let's take a look at some facts. The Frederick News Post conveniently links to a table of Frederick County Public School Salaries. With the FCTA arguing that teacher salaries are not "competitive" you have to wonder, what is FCPS doing paying our teachers poverty wages? Well, lets take a look at the teacher' salaries at three county schools, Ballenger Creek Elementary, Urbana High School and West Frederick Middle School.

Ballenger Creek Elementary has 42 teachers, including music, art, special ed, intervention and PE Teachers. The average pay for these 42 teachers is $59,489.74. The median salary is $61,061.50, which means that 21 teachers make more than that amount and 21 less that $61,000. The top salary is $82,555, three teachers make that salary. The smallest salary is $31,925, two teachers earn that much. The total teacher payroll (salaries only) is $2.49 million out of a total school payroll of $3.17 million, or 78.5% of payroll on teachers. The average length of service for the teachers at this school is 11.3 years. The median is 9.5 years. There were four new hires in 2007 and 9 teachers (21%) with three or fewer years of experience.

West Frederick Middle School has 68 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $60,989.23 and the median salary is $60,586.50. So there are not a lot of highly paid teachers or lesser paid teaches skewing the salary range, the salaries are pretty well distributed. The top salary is $90,971, with three teachers making that salary, and the lowest salary is $21,550 by a targeted intervention teacher who is apparently working part-time given a six year length of service with FCPS. The total teacher payroll for West Frederick (salaries only) is $4.14 million out of a total payroll budget of $5.42 million. The teachers at West Frederick have an average length of service of 11 years and a median service of 10 years. Only one teacher is a new hire in 2007 and 11 teachers (16%) have three or fewer years of experience.

Urbana High School has 96 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $57,247 and the median pay is $53,886. The top salary is $90,971 and the lowest salary is $30,687. The average and median salaries are a bit lower at this high school compared to the elementary and middle school sampls because the average and median length of service in FCPS is significantly lower. The average length of service is 8.7 years and the median is 8 years. There are 20 teachers (20.8%) with three or fewer years of experience. The total teacher payroll is just shy of $5.5 million out of a total school payroll of $7.1 million.

Take note that these are cash compensation salaries and do not account for the substantial benefits package that teachers receive, including generous pension and health care benefits.

So, teachers at the three schools noted above had a average individual income of between $57,250 and $60,500. The median income, again for these individuals, was between $53,886 and $61,061. Economic data for Frederick County indicates that the median household income in November 2007 was is $60,507 and the median family income is $67,879. Using the lowest median teacher income for the three schools, teachers are making 89.2% of the median household income and 79.3% of the median family income--all by themselves with a generous benefit package. In Frederick County, males had a median income of $42,378 versus $30,564 for females. In our teacher pool for these three schools, female teachers (146) are making a median income of $55,558 on a median experience level of eight years. Male teachers (60) make a median salary of $59,023 on a median experience level of nine years. Thus female teachers in Frederick County are making a 81.7% larger income than the general female population in Frederick County. Male teachers are make 39.2% more money than the general population of males in Frederick County. In all of Frederick County there are 413 teachers employed by the FCPS making better than $80,000 a year.

This analysis is done on just three schools in Frederick County. A larger county wide assessment is worth a look to examine all the teachers, full or part time, in the county, but I suspect the numbers would not be all that different.

For all the bluster about teachers not being paid a competitive salary looks to be pure bunk, particularly when compared to the incomes of the rest of the county. So if teachers are being well compensatd with 413 invididually making some 30% more than the median household income, why then is the School Board even considering more than a cost of living increase in salaries?

The union can ask for more money, but it seems to me that teacher salaries in Frederick County are not only more than sufficient for our area, they are more than competitive with the every other industry in the county.


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Still Past Due

One of my earliest posts on my blog was about the need to repeal the tax on military pensions. Unfortunately, it's a battle that is still going on.

It has always been nonsensical to me that we would want to adopt tax policies that drive veterans out of the state of Maryland to states with a more hospitable tax climate. When you consider the number of high paying, high skilled jobs that are in this area, we should do what we have to do to appeal to those retirees who are qualified to fill those jobs to stay in this area.

Maryland is close to two major metro areas, has a wealth of retiree resources, and access to a number of local military health care facilities. It's a natural fit for retirees, but only if we do our part to be competitive with states that allow those who have served us to keep their retirement income free of taxes.

(Crossposted)


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The Results of O'Malleynomics

One of the net results of the computer services tax that the Governor and the General Assembly railroaded through the Special Session is that it is becoming more and more attractive for tech businesses to cut bait and leave the state:

In January, just as anger over a new tax on computer services was beginning to boil over in Maryland's high-tech sector, Robert Epstein received a call from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

"This guy called and said, 'I don't know if you've heard of the computer tax coming on board in Maryland. ... Have you ever thought of opening an office in our state or relocating to our state?'" recalled Epstein, president of About-Web LLC, a 52-employee, information technology firm based in Rockville.

After poring over maps last week with Pennsylvania officials courting his and other companies in Maryland, Epstein said he is thinking of moving a large chunk of his business to York, where employees can serve Baltimore-area clients. He's already committed to investing more resources in an office he has in Virginia.

Other technology executives in Maryland tell similar stories of being approached by officials from neighboring states and by commercial real estate brokers looking to capitalize on widespread discontent in the information technology sector over the new tax.

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Of course, anybody with half a brain can understand that when you make the business climate less and less appealing by continuing to raise the cost of business, business leaders are going to do what they have to do in order to continue to keep costs low. If, as in the example above, businesses can serve Baltimore and still relocate to a place like York with lower taxes, they are going to leave much like so many folks who work in Baltimore have moved to the Red Lion and Shrewsbury areas the last fifteen years.

What's amazing is the fact that the O'Malley Administration is completely oblivious to the fact that business might actually take advantage of such economic benefits:

Gov. Martin O'Malley's secretary of economic development, David W. Edgerley, said yesterday that his office is aware that Pennsylvania and Delaware have recently targeted Maryland computer companies. He said he is "monitoring the situation" but does not believe it is widespread.

"It is standard operating procedure behind the scenes to try and take advantage of any opportunity," Edgerley said of states' business development agencies. "I don't think it will be very successful."

I'm not even sure how one could say that logically. Does Secretary Edgerley really believe that businesses are so tied down in Marlyand that it doesn't make economic sense for them to move? This is particularly true of small businesses. It might make more sense that a large operation with a number of sunk costs will not pull up roots and leave quite so quickly. But small businesses, the backbone of our local economy, tend not to have those sunk costs. If they can continue to serve (or even expand) their customer base and save money on the cost of doing business in the process, why wouldn't they?

And reasonable people understand that:

Greater Baltimore Committee head Donald C. Fry said that position betrays a naivete about the uniqueness of the computer services industry: "Whenever the business community raises concerns about taxes and talks about the possibility of leaving, the state government leaders seem to believe that that's just not going to happen because there are other compelling reasons for them to stay."

The computer services tax is different, Fry argues, because the high-tech industry is "much more mobile. ... You don't have to bring in moving vans. You can do it electronically."

The irony of the computer services tax is rich when you consider how much time and effort state and local leaders have spent trying to turn Maryland into a player in the technology field. How many times have they tried to woo businesses to our state in order to create a Tech Corridor in Montgomery County, or try to woo businesses to downtown Baltimore. The administration seems to fail to realize that businesses that could be wooed here can also be driven out of town by decisions that negatively impact their bottom line in such a way that it makes it difficult for them to do business.

When will Maryland Democrats, particularly Governor O'Malley, learn that you cannot tax your way to prosperity?

(Crossposted)


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