Friday, February 27, 2009

The Grown Ups Explain Why Giving Illegals a Driver's License is Not a Good Idea.

The latest "Minority Report" with MDGOP House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell and Delegate Ron George (R-30) discuss the General Assembly's efforts to give illegal aliens Maryland driver's licenses.

Warning to Maryland liberals: this may be too much common sense for you to process.

More below the fold.

U.S. Senate Votes to Uphold Second Amendment

Fairfax, Va. - The United States Senate has voted, with overwhelming bipartisan support, to adopt an amendment offered by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) that seeks to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens in the District of Columbia. The amendment, attached to S.160, the D.C. Voting Rights Act, will repeal restrictive gun control laws passed by the District of Columbia's (D.C.) city council after the landmark D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court decision. The vote margin was 62-36.

"Today's vote brings us one step closer to restoring the Second Amendment freedom of law-abiding D.C. residents," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "It's ludicrous that good people in our nation's capital continue to be harassed as they try to defend themselves and their loved ones in their own homes. This vote reinforces the historic Heller ruling."

After the Heller ruling, the D.C. city council passed a law requiring would-be gun owners to pay a registration fee, pass a 20-question multiple choice test, take a five-hour training course, undergo an invasive background check every six years, re-register any firearm every three years, and finally, submit all handguns for ballistics testing. Current D.C. law also bans an overwhelming majority of firearms commonly used for self-defense. This Ensign Amendment would also remedy that unjust practice.

"NRA would like to thank the lead sponsor, Sen. John Ensign for his efforts to reform D.C.'s gun laws and enable folks to protect their property and their loved ones," concluded Cox. "It's time for leaders in Washington to wake up to the fact that the Supreme Court decision is now the law of the land."


More below the fold.

Let's Wait Until Gas Reaches $5.00 per Gallon

Our government won't allow additional offshore drilling.  They are halting exploration on shore as well. and ... The federal deficit is going through the roof.

At some point in the not too distant future our great nation will pull its way out of recession - despite PORKULUS.  When that happens, the world's economy will improve as well.  (Despite the "Hate America" left, we are the economic engine of the world.)  When this occurs, global demand for oil will rise AND so will its price. (Despite numerous attempts, the left cannot derail the basic laws of supply and demand any more than the basic laws of Newtonian physics.)

To add insult to injury, opening up the outer shelf to exploration (along with numerous parcels on land) will help to reduce the exploding deficit caused by the Obama AND Bush administrations.  Can't do that!  That might interfere with persuading Americans to accept a lower standard of living and a full blown socialist economy.

So President Obama, when gasoline hits $4.00 (or even $5.00) per gallon what will you do?  Our economy can't run on promises of HOPE and CHANGE.  Will you give us the same response as this past summer? (We can't get to the oil fast enough to make an IMMEDIATE difference)  We can start to make a difference NOW and be prepared for the round rising oil prices.   #dontgo

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dog Bites Man

In one of the least surprising things around you'll find, taxpayers aren't exactly enamored with bigger and badder government:

In early October, as the meltdown of the financial industry gained momentum following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 59% of U.S. voters agreed with Ronald Reagan that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”...

....Despite all that, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that the basic views of the American people have not change: 59% of voters still agree with Reagan’s inaugural address statement. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.
Gee, I wonder way. Maybe it has something to do with the first couple of stimulus packages not working. Maybe it has to do with the President, his actions, and his rhetoric in continue to stick the accelerator open as we roll down the road to serfdom. Maybe it was the continued display of crass and corrupt leaders in Congress and appointed to the Obama Administration. Whatever it is, the people of America aren't playing ball with this. And Congress, as they are wont to do, is leading our nation down a screaming path that is diametrically opposed to the will of the people.

Then again, that might explain why....
In a corollary to Reagan’s assessment of government, most voters believe that no matter how bad things are, Congress could always make them worse.
The Rasmussen numbers are hardly surprising given out of touch Democrats are these days. It's very interesting to see how far Congress will try to take the country against the will of the people. The exploding phenomenon of tax tea parties makes for interesting theater and a pretty significant showing of the pulse of the country.


More below the fold.

Why Are Tattoos So Bad?

Abortion is an issue I rarely bring up online.  Despite my strong pro-life beliefs, it has been my experience that this issue is far too emotional for too many on both sides of this issue.  However, recent action by the Maryland House demands a response.

The other day, the Maryland House approved HB 45.  This bill will require that minors receive parental consent in order to receive a tattoo or body piercing.  There's certainly nothing wrong with that.  Perhaps that's why the bill passed unanimously.

The problem is that the House voted down an amendment which would have included surgical procedures such as an abortion.  The logic of the amendment is simple:  "Isn't abortion a bit more significant than piercing your nose?"

Given that part of the impetus behind HB 45 was that procedures like tattooing and body piercing may require post-procedure follow-up due to the possibility of infection, it's hard to understand why a surgical procedure wouldn't require the same follow-up.  Obviously, it does.

Unfortunately, abortion has become a quasi-religious crusade for the left and far right.  The left refuses to accept any regulation of a medical procedure that they would DEMAND regulation of IF it wasn't the holy grail of abortion.  The far right has become the left's mirror image by demanding federal solutions to what should be a state issue (one of the many inherent errors of Roe v Wade).

While I am not a huge fan of compromise, neither am I an advocate of removing rationality from the legislative process.  If deliberate thought ever returns to this issue, America will be the better for it.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Jack Johnson for Governor?

Is the PG County Executive going to run?  Can he actually beat incumbent Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley in a primary?  Do I really care?

The answers are simple:  Don't know, NO, and a BIG NO.

The only reason I brought the subject up was because I appreciate the plug given to my Red Maryland and SbyNEWS colleague Kenny Burns by the Baltimore Sun's Andy Green.

Kenny's really hitting the big time.  Congrats.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Senate Moves Towards Giving DC a Vote in Congress

As with most liberal propositions, it feels so good.  Let's give those poor deprived souls in the Federal District "full voting rights".  Let's give them "representation".  Well, the Senate appears to be on its way.

Well how can you possibly oppose giving the people of DC full representation?  It's easy.  It's wrong and it's probably unconstitutional.

The only reason the District of Columbia has any electoral votes in a presidential election is because of the 23rd Amendment.  That OK, because the people of this country agreed to amend the constitution.  It doesn't matter whether I agree with it or not.  However, Congress doesn't have the authority to give seats in Congress to non-states.  The constitution is pretty clear about that one.  Of course, the constitution also says that we're supposed to COUNT the population every ten years and liberals want to estimate.

Assuming that Congress gives DC a full seat in the House (and that's a pretty safe bet), it's logical that they'll get two seats in the Senate as well.  Why not?  It's just another form of "stuffing the box" and the Dems aren't shy about doing that.

People live in DC by choice.  If don't want to live in a Federal District then they don't have to.  However, there is an alternative that will address their concerns:

Give the District back to Maryland.  Virginia already took her part back.  It's called Arlington County.

The only problem - Maryland doesn't want it.  I can't blame her.  Still, that doesn't justify an unconstitutional act on the part of Congress and the Obama administration.

Oh ... Who am I kidding?

More below the fold.

Baltimore Sun to the Poor: Go Screw

You just have to love the mental giants who write for the Baltimore Sun editorial board.

Now, they are up in arms over Governor O’Malley diverting RGGI funds from cockamamie carbon reduction schemes—that won’t work—to energy rate relief for the poor.

The governor has asked the General Assembly to approve a diversion of up to 50 percent of RGGI revenue - an estimated $70 million more than what is scheduled to be set aside - for energy assistance to the poor over the next two years. While electricity rate relief is permitted under the 10-state agreement, it would seem to defeat the purpose of diminishing Maryland's carbon footprint and addressing climate change.

As I’ve argued ad nauseum, even if global warming were the apocalyptic crisis (it isn’t) the Sun editorial board and the other chicken littles make it out to be, carbon reduction will have no meaningful effect on global temperatures.

So instead of supporting real tangible benefits for the poor, the Sun would rather divert funds to meaningless climate change schemes, that are all cost and no benefit

Forget the editorial board’s tired and discredited climate alarmism for a moment they go on to contradict their own paper’s reporting

Allowing a diversion of 50 percent of auction proceeds is too much. Better for the same money to be used to assist those same low-income households with energy audits, weatherization, insulation and other conservation projects that would save families in the long term.

Except that it hasn't, as Sun reporter Liz F. Kay reported on Tuesday:

The utilities' explanations do not satisfy customers such as Gauhar, who said she has new appliances, replaced her windows and doors and installed energy-efficient lights. Still, her bills more than doubled, to $240 in January and $222 in February.

Demand side management schemes like conservation do not work, especially when your Public Service Commission allows utilities to decouple their profits from how much energy they sell to consumers. Consumers are still subject to rate increases, meaning that even though they conserve, they still pay more to use less energy. Keep this in mind now that Constellation plans another rate increase.

If you think your energy bill is outrageous this winter, just wait until next winter if the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act passes. This bill specifically targets energy producers for a regulatory tax, the cost of which will—natch—be passed on to consumers in the form of rate increases.

More below the fold.

Sunday Hunting Bill to be Considered Today

Today, Wednesday, February 25 the House Environmental Matters Committee will consider House Bill 663.

Sponsored as a bi-partisan bill, HB 663 would remove restrictions on a person’s ability to hunt deer on specified Sundays on private property in Baltimore County.

Sunday hunting has no detrimental effect on wildlife populations as those states permitting it have healthy and abundant wildlife. Many hunters - be it young or old, novice or experienced - stop hunting because of the lack of opportunity, both in time and accessible land. The addition of an extra day in the field increases a person’s available time to enjoy our hunting heritage. Sunday hunting will also bring a much-needed economic boost to rural areas. Every day that hunters are in the field, they spend money on gas, food, lodging and the dozens of other incidentals that go along with a day’s hunt. The ripple effect of this spending can have a major impact on a rural town or county. This legislation will clearly help advance and preserve Maryland’s rich hunting traditions.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Non-State of the Union Address: Feel-Good Fantasy

--Richard E. Vatz

About President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Non-State of the Union Address, a few observations:

1. There are some certain verities which will last throughout the Obama presidency: this is one of the fine presidential speakers of the last 50 years, a list which includes, in order of appearance, presidents Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and now Obama. Of these presidents, Reagan and Obama tend -- \tend\ -- not to generate hatred because they are perceived as sincere and non-devious.

2. President Obama had what could be understated as the most ambitious agenda ever forwarded in a State of the Union Address, which, at least officially, this was not: a stimulus package which will effect the United States’ rebuilding and recovering and our being “stronger than before.” By what mechanism is this going to be accomplished? Well, most of the specifics are not there, but as one prototypical example, President Obama promised to “end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq.” There was no addressing reduction in the really tough entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. Vice President Joe Biden will \personally\ provide oversight regarding earmarks and overspending. Great symbol; little effect.

3. President Obama was equally nonspecific regarding what will be done about the housing crisis: Americans will be helped to avoid foreclosure. Who and how? He did not specify. The President stated in the major disjunction of the speech tonight: “…[W]e have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.” Again, who will and who will not be subsidized? You and I don’t know.

4. The speech was filled with confidence boosters which will likely raise the stock market – for a very short time. The problem with rousing, confidence-building presidential speeches, as Richard Nixon discovered in the 1970s, is that they serve as a stimulating drug which has diminishing returns with each speech. Add that President Obama is certifiably charismatic, and you may assume his speechmaking elixir will have a slightly longer half-life.

President Obama said “none of this will come without cost,” and this observer, who likes the President personally, predicts that none of this will come without credibility being the first casualty. Too many promises with too much expectation. Energy independence, universal health care, more federal aid to education? The deficit will be cut in half in the first 4 years of this presidency at the same time we are enacting a trillion dollar stimulus package? President Obama channels President Lincoln, but it may be better to channel lessons from a failed president who promised too much too soon without producing it: Lyndon Baines Johnson.

So far public opinion polls show a great patience among the American people for a well-intended but over-promising president. This, too, shall pass.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Jack Cafferty can go to hell

Apparently, it's time to roll up the carpet and go home. America as we know it is doomed and we need to start thinking small. So says Jack Cafferty at least:

The interest on the national debt will approach $500 billion a year this year or next. Our country is sinking into the quicksand of insolvency as surely as the victims of subprime mortgages who have lost their jobs and their houses and watched their savings evaporate in the stock market decline.

The current national debt is soaring past $12 trillion. The costs of the stimulus packages and bailouts (and stimulus package is just another word for bailout) are being tacked on and passed on because they are being paid for with money we don't have.

We are staring at unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security in the tens of trillions of dollars. Where's that money going to come from? We have to either raise taxes or cut benefits. There are no other options.

The baby boomers are starting to retire and will consume an ever larger share of these entitlement programs. They will also age in sufficient numbers to drive the political agenda for the foreseeable future. Think they're going to want less Social Security and less Medicare? Think again.

The generation coming along behind them that will be asked to pay for all this can't. There are not enough good jobs left in this country to pay those kinds of bills.

At the end of the day, we are going to have to settle for less. Less money, smaller houses, smaller cars and smaller dreams.

This is not your father's country anymore. And we had better all start getting used to it.

Not a chance Cafferty, not a chance. I mean, Cafferty is right in the respect that Democratic leaders in Congress and writing checks for bills that won't come until long, long after they are done ruining the economy. It will be my generation, my children's generation, and my children's children's generation that will be required to pay off the largesse and i incompetence, the gluttony, and the imperialistic greed of Barack Obama and those who support his reckless and wrongheaded bailout. It is true that this generation is failing future generations for its refusal to spend and manage money responsibly.

On the other hand, Cafferty is advocating the abandonment of the very essence that makes America the oracle of freedom and the beacon of opportunity still today. It's very easy for Cafferty to talk about our need for shared sacrifice, the need to start thinking "smaller dreams." Bollocks. Tell that to millions of people around the world who dream of coming to America in an effort to achieve their dreams, to achieve their goals, to raise their children in a land that provides them with endless opportunities.

Just because Obama and his cohorts in Congress are doing all that they can do in order to crush the American spirit and do what they can do to destroy the American economy, it's no reason to abandon that what makes America America. We must continue, as individuals and as a society, never expect less from ourselves. We must continue to dream dreams that are larger than ourselves and larger than our communities. We have always been "the shining city on the hill." In what kind of warped world would we be living if we abandoned those basic American values and American principles?

In other words, why does Jack Cafferty want us to abandon the American Dream?

If Cafferty wants to abandon America, if all of this spending has forced him to (ironically) give up hope, he can take all of it and go to hell. Now is not the time for people to sit back, meekly accept the situation that has been dealt to them and decide now that America is dead. Because if we live in an America in which we dream smaller dreams, are we in an America worth living in anymore?


More below the fold.

Maryland Pro-Gun Bills to be Heard Today

Two important pieces of pro-gun legislation will be heard on Tuesday, February 24 in the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 470 would repeal the requirement that the Secretary of State Police find that a person has a good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun before issuing a handgun permit. HB 470 is a bi-partisan bill that will ensure Maryland citizens are afforded the right to self-defense enjoyed by citizens in 40 other states.

House Bill 682 would require that the Secretary of State Police issue a permit to carry, wear, or transport a handgun within a reasonable time to a person who has successfully completed the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program of the Transportation Security Administration.


More below the fold.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yes We Are

(TRENTON, NJ – Feb. 20) This week, Attorney General Eric Holder said “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we -- I believe continue to be in too many ways essentially a nation of cowards.” Well, allow me to take the rare opportunity to agree with Mr. Holder. Sorry folks, yes we are.

When people are uneasy about a black person making jokes about black people in general (and it’s the tamest of jokes,) we have a problem. If ethnicity is brought up in conversation and someone tries to diffuse it by saying, “I do not see Black and White, I see American,” that’s a problem. When people are afraid of disagreeing with someone because of their color…for example, when some Whites disagreed with Obama and it had everything to with his policies is not his race. They were afraid to speak out because they would have been labeled a racist. In my case, I would have been labeled a sellout. That is a BIG problem.

When people say, “Why do we need to talk about having a dialogue on race, we always have this whenever something racial happens?” Complaining about talking about race is a problem, and here is why we need to have the dialogue. For starters, the people who don’t want to talk about it anymore would like to avoid the issue, either because the wrong people have been using race for their own personal gain OR because they are afraid to be labeled as a racist (as stated in the example in the last paragraph.)

There also has not been an honest dialogue about it in my opinion. America needs to acknowledge that its past has been super ugly, and I don’t mean mention it casually and brush it aside as if all is right with the world. The truth is that America has a long way to go to achieving racial harmony. This has been proven recently where The New York Post can draw a cartoon in poor taste. While it is the New York Post’s right to publish the cartoon, it is equally everyone’s right to be offended by it. In addition to that, both sides of the aisle have been guilty at times with using the resentment of Blacks and Whites for political gain.

Let’s go back to the recent election, where many people in general were afraid to show dissent against then-Presidential candidate Obama. If Whites dissented, they would have been viewed as a racist. If blacks (like me) did not agree with President Obama, we get called with sellouts or self-haters. I was recently told to finish my Clorox bath when I reminded the unapologetically Black community that President Obama was running things, not us.

Everything is not a racial incident. When we are afraid to disagree with policy because of racial concerns, then we are indeed wimps about the subject. America has some pondering to do, before we accuse Holder of trying to stir the pot.

P. Kenneth Burns is a broadcaster and the editor of Maryland Politics Today. His email is

More below the fold.

More from the Grown-Ups in Annapolis

The House GOP caucus has released another video, this time concerning recent sales tax proposals and featuring MDGOP "rising stars" House Minority Whip Chris Shank and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

More below the fold.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

O'Malley Blown Away

Mark Stollenwerk the DC Gun Rights Examiner fisks Martin O'Malley on gun rights:

So Governor O’Malley, admitting that Maryland’s rating by the Brady Campaign as the 5th most gun controllin’ state in the union is not correlated with less violent crime, thinks the continued violation of the right to bear arms is the right thing to do. O’Malley’s complete disregard for the “right to carry” question is itself an unspeakable crime. Most states don’t even require a permit to openly carry a handgun and issue concealed handgun permits to anyone who can pass a background

Read the whole thing

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Tired of paying to bailout others? Don't Worry...

Tired of paying your taxes like a responsible citizen, just to bailout others? Don't Worry...
... Harry Reid says you don't have to pay your taxes, they're "voluntary"! (Sort of)


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maryland's pod

This morning I took a little time to see about something I assumed would be true and I was absolutely 100% correct. So far there have been 64 recorded votes in this Senate session and our two erstwhile, well-meaning, but for the most part incorrect Senators have voted in the exact same manner all 64 times. At least in Delaware you get a little variation between Senators Carper and Kaufman - they have voted at odds with each other 6 times in 59 votes.

To tell you what this means, let's look at what the not-so-Free State's not-so-dynamic duo has supported in just this edition of Congress.

They both voted for the "porkulus" package conference report. In addition, they voted against a direct rebate on taxes rather than spending the money (in other words, they feel the government knows better where to spend your money than you do), voted for ACORN funding with the "porkulus" money, for maintaining the Clinton tax on Social Security benefits, against decreasing our taxes in general, for expanding the government in general with "porkulus" funds, and for maintaining a tax break for their Hollywood friends.

If that wasn't bad enough, they allowed the expansion of SCHIP, but against expanding it to the unborn. Meanwhile, they also cast their ballots in favor of people scrapping their private insurance to get on the government dole and against the true intent of the SCHIP program, which was to help low-income children be covered. Nor will the unborn in other nations we assist be spared, in part because of their votes.

They also voted to allow the tax cheat Timothy Geithner to head the IRS and against true freedom of choice whether to join a union or not.

Yet the majority of Maryland voters elected these two - only six counties voted against both the last time they were on the ballot. (We should thank the voters of Carroll, Cecil, Garrett, Harford, Queen Anne's, and Washington counties for their common sense - unfortunately the lower Shore needs to become hip to Senator Mikulski's true record by November of 2010.) I have to ask if these sorts of votes are what the electorate truly wanted.

There has always been a "throw the bums out" attitude among the general public, EXCEPT when it comes to their own bum. I'm sure both Senators are decent people in person, I don't recall meeting either in person so I couldn't say from personal experience. But their voting record is dreadful, particularly in this session which has primarily focused on pocketbook issues. Simply put, they don't trust you with your money and believe only the government that placed us in this economic mess can allow us to get out of it. If that's not a definition of insanity, it's pretty damn close.

Then again, Maryland voters have proven time and again that they vote with their eyes wide shut and against their better interests - that is, unless they enjoy being sheeple.

More below the fold.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Liberals need to help save the planet for a change

This story gets to combine two of my least favorite things in life: pork and global warming hysteria. Observe:

The use of crop-based biofuels could speed up rather than slow down global warming by fueling the destruction of rainforests, scientists warned Saturday.

Once heralded as the answer to oil, biofuels have become increasingly controversial because of their impact on food prices and the amount of energy it takes to produce them.

They could also be responsible for pumping far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they could possibly save as a replacement for fossil fuels, according to a study released Saturday.


Now, we've all had this massive rush in Washington to subsidize corn based ethanol, mainly because they grow a lot of corn in Iowa and they happen to have a Presidential Caucus there. All of the Democratic pork producers love it, because they get to bolster their Presidential cred, make environmentalists happy, and get to say they are "protecting the family farm."

And remember: this 'aint our first rodeo with noting the dangers of biofuels.

One of the big problems that Republicans like myself have has little to do with the idea of using alternative fuels; exploring new ideas and innovation makes good sense. But our problem has been and continues to be this rush to judgment for the latest and greatest fad that will purportedly "save the environment" when, in fact, the science on that is unproven at best or shows that we are doing even more damage at worse.

Rushing to judgment means we all pay. And we are all paying dearly for rushing to judgment and pork barrell spending on envirofuels.

Next thing you know, we're going to be taking about perpetual motion engines as a national priority....


More below the fold.

The Great Correspondent

On Monday I contributed my two cents about Ronald Reagan to the National Review Online President's Day symposium. Well my old hometown friend Matt Palmer, a reporter for the Catholic Review took note and passed this very timely Reagan anecodote about his brother's correspondence with the 40th President of the United States. A snippet:

Politicians receive a lot of letters from constituents. Most send back a form letter that simply says ‘thank you for your interest.’ Jeff received something far different, however, in a March 25, 1985 letter embossed with the presidential seal.

My mother recently unearthed that letter from a box in our house. Here is a transcript.

Dear Jeff:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the taking of human life by abortion. I know your family must be very proud of your keen sensitivity about this often misunderstood issue.The future of our nation will depend on how we perceive our responsibility to protect the right to life of all Americans, including the unborn. If we cannot bring ourselves to confront the horrors of abortion, then we will be avoiding one of the great issues of our time. If, however, our young people can face this question head on, then we stand a chance of righting this terrible wrong and preserving the lives of the unborn. I know that you will do your best to fight the good fight, and you have my admiration for speaking out on this subject.

God bless you.


Ronald Reagan

Read the whole thing.

For you Ravens fans, Matt was the Ravens beat reporter for the dearly departed Baltimore Examiner. He blogs about sports and pop culture at The Bottom Liner

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The Death Penalty: Marvin vs. Martin...

No, I am not talking about Warner Brother's Marvin the Martian, but yesterday's hearing about the possible demise of the death penalty in Maryland did have me wondering. Just who would a (CASA-supported?) alien meet if he asked us to take him to our leader? Would it be Martin O'Malley, or Marvin Mandel?

Governor O'Malley got loads of press yesterday for his testimony in favor of sending the death penalty to the gas chamber, but another Governor testified in favor of keeping it as a final sanction against the most vermin-like murderers in our midst. His story needs telling as well.

After Martin asked us to not care about retribution or fairness to victims, Marvin talked about the need for the final option to remain a tool for Justice. The Ex-Governor recounted going to the jail when prisoners had taken over and threatened the life of the guards in the tower. Against the wishes of others, he went to talk to the prisoners. I say talk, not to merely "hear them out". He gave them 3 minutes, they started with their demands, and he told them they had only 2 left. He would release the dogs on them if they did not free the guards. Now note that this was during a time when the Supreme Court had ruled against the Death Penalty, before we reinstated a court-approved version of it. The prisoners asked why should they care about killing the guards, they were already sentenced to death. The no-nonsense Governor at the time said if they killed the guards he would call a special session the next day and pass a death penalty law just for them. They let the guards go. Years later Mandel would meet a man who had been trying to see him, to thank him for saving his grandfather, a guard in that tower.

Another instance that Governor Marvin Mandel recounted was seeing a prisoner in his cell, who complained that they never let him out, even for exercise. Mandel talked to the Warden, who informed him that the prisoner was not allowed out because he would kill the first person he got hold of. Gov. Marvin went back to the cell, staying further away from the inmate this time, and asked the prisoner if this was true. The prisoner acknowledged that yes, he would kill the first person he could.

Former Governor Mandel also talked about a Judge he appointed who was against the death penalty. The Judge changed his tune when he had a case that was very horrific.

Say what you want about Marvin Mandel's history, but in this case I wish he were still maintaining an office on the second floor of the State House. On this issue, he is more a leader than Marty, who is evidently both afraid to sign a death warrant, and also afraid to not kill those on death row. You see, if the current Governor doesn't carry out his duty he may get blamed if they kill again. Doing away with the death penalty, he can blame it on the legislature if an inmate kills a guard, or another prisoner, or if they escape to murder the public. Abolishing the death penalty is the easy way out for him, but have we ever known him to really do the hard things his job requires? Take me to your leader... indeed!


More below the fold.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blogging Al Puttanesca

The Other McCain aka Robert Stacey McCain, aMaryland resident has a some useful rules for conservative bloggers especially how to get a million hits and conduct a proper flame war with the other side. Check them out.

Of course, I am shamelessly following Rule #2

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Is it still Maryland, My Maryland?

Perhaps you have seen the most recent iteration of the long time controversy over Maryland's state song "Maryland, My Maryland." Del. Pam Beidle (D-32) has proposed changing the lyrics to the state's song after receiving letters from a bunch of fourth graders. Let's break this down a bit.

The common sense reaction to this is no different than those mentioned in the well stated objections to efforts to outlaw "beer pong" namely there are more important problems yet to be solved that should garner Delegate Beidle's attention. But this is a cultural issue and provides a teaching moment for both the failure of our public schools to properly teach the history of this state and to demonstrate the indoctrination of public school children led by the close knit cooperation of teacher's unions and liberal politicians. Also, I cannot ignore the exhortation of our friends at RedState to act. To paraphrase our state song "RedState should not call in vain, Maryland My Maryland."

I am fond of saying that someone walking into the General Assembly in session will never mistake it for a MENSA convention. But Delegate Beidle's statement that she "never thought much about the lyrics" of our state song shows an astounding ignorance, nay disdain, of the history of this state from someone who sits in a citizen legislature nearly four centuries old. Should I be surprised when I hear her colleagues refer to the Maryland Supreme Court (our Court of Appeals predated the SCOTUS by about a century) or their own chamber as the Maryland House of Representatives (which has about a century and a half over Congress)? Probably not but it still irks me.

Luckily for Delegate Beidle, a plucky and apparently historically precocious group of 9 year olds in Glen Burnie has en masse enlightened her about the state song and urged her to change it. What serendipity? Having an elementary school age daughter I know how much kids that age really care about 150 year old folk songs.

The more cynical of us, however, might just say that these kids were indoctrinated with a false portrayal of the history of our state and its song and, prompted by their teacher, wrote their local commissar, I mean Delegate. The fact that Delegate Beidle wants to change the words to those composed by a former head of the State Teachers' Union might lead these same cynics to see a contrived effort to justify a change to what has been our official state song for 77 years and which has weathered such annual challenges for decades.

The "new" lyrics are insipid and pointless. They have no relevance to anything of historical or cultural note in Maryland. Rather they are mindless pablum which now have the imprimatur of political correctness.

Our state song was composed at a time of great crisis for our state. Precisely like our national anthem, it encapsulates a period in Maryland's history when she was under assault by those who sought to impose their will upon her citizens.

For those of you who were also not taught this period of history let me give you the highlights.
Marylanders were certainly not of one mind but tended to have a great deal politically and culturally in common with Virginia and other border south states. In 1860, Marylanders voted for John Breckenridge for President (the same guy who won in Mississippi, Alabama, and the other original Confederate states). Lincoln, got only 2.5% of the vote (who says the Republicans have not made strides in this state.).

Knowing perhaps that 97.5% of Marylanders voted against him, President Lincoln was acutely concerned about the possibility of Maryland secession. While historians have debated the issue, most Marylanders recognized the futility of secession and it was unlikely to ever happen. Taking no chances, however, Lincoln arrested prominent Marylanders suspected of secessionist leanings and imprisoned them in Fort McHenry (yes, ironic) without charge, due process or writ of habeas corpus for years. General Benjamin "Beast" Butler landed troops at the Naval Academy and occupied Annapolis along with the rail line to Washington. This caused the General Assembly, of which Delegate Beidle is now a part, to flee to Frederick. Guns were placed on federal hill in Baltimore with orders to fire if unrest arose (the Washington Monument was among the first targets).

It was in the midst of this that our state song was penned. It encapsulates the fear and dread of real Marylanders who saw their fellow citizens jailed by an oppressive Federal Government for no good reason, who saw Federal troops occupy their land and property like they were in rebellion, which they never were.

Invoking the zeal for liberty of the "Old Line State", Randall called for what I think most Marylanders would call for today under the same circumstances, resistance.That is why the song resonates and has relevance to 21st century Marylanders. Its theme is not slavery (which Lincoln never touched in Maryland) or white supremacy but the impassioned plea of a free people to resist an oppressive national government. The original words of this song also speak to a real time in Maryland's history which should never be forgotten, whitewashed or assailed as wrong or evil.

Sadly, too many citizens of this state have no real connection here and even too many native Marylanders have never been taught or taken the time to learn about this critical period of our state's rich history. That is why we are so vulnerable now to the PC thuggery of ignorant, vapid politicians.

Let us defend our state song and our inherent resistance to oppressive government which is so deeply rooted in Maryland, My Maryland.

(By the way, a great book on this period is A Southern Star for Maryland and my favorite rendition of Maryland, My Maryland is by Bobby Horton which is on my 11 year-old daughter's iPod.)

More below the fold.

Maryland Pro-Gun Bill to be Heard in Committee

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 359 on Thursday, February 19 at 1:00 p.m.

HB359, introduced by State Delegates Tony McConkey (R-33A), Jill Carter (D-41), Benjamin Kramer (D-19), Susan McComas (R-35B), and Kriselda Valderrama (D-26), would allow an eligible citizen who has had a temporary or final protective order issued on their behalf to be issued a concealed handgun permit by the Secretary of State Police.

This is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that all law-abiding Marylanders can exercise the Right-to-Carry for self-defense.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There They Go Again

What is it with the Laslo Boyds and Barry Rascovars of the Maryland political scene? Why is it that they continually engage in straw man arguments then gleefully exalt around the pyre like the pagan women from The Wicker Man? Seriously, is it too much to ask for these two supposed political experts to actually understand the definitions of the terms they are using?

Last week it was Boyd, this week it is Rascovar in a Gazette column about Bob Ehrlich. I’m not going to argue the obvious fact of the mountain sized hurdle Maryland Republicans face in this state. It was there during Ehrlich’s term and will be there for some time to come. Rascovar is right about that. Of course, my three-year old is perceptive enough to see that very obvious point.

However, in his zeal to pour kerosene on his straw man, Rascover gets some of that accelerant on himself.

What they don't mention is that even during Ehrlich's years in the Governor's Mansion, no dramatic sea-change occurred in Maryland. Budgets continued to grow, sometimes by double-digit amounts. No vast reforms were implemented. No major tax cuts happened.

The era of Big Government persisted during Republican rule, both in Annapolis and in Washington.

This is a fair and legitimate criticism of Ehrlich’s administration, one often leveled by Richard Falknor. However, goes on to contradict that point:

Though the former governor remains personally popular, that could fade quickly
in a hardball election campaign. The "R" next to his name has become the
equivalent of Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter."

Part of the problem is that Republicans offer no compelling vision, no "other way" that seems to make sense. The narrow, neoconservative ideology of less government intervention and fewer taxes made a mess of things in Washington. We are paying the price for that discredited approach.
Wait I just thought he wrote that the era of Big Government persisted in DC and Annapolis? Well which one is it Barry? Are Ehrlich/Bush less-government neocons (an oxymoron if there ever was one) or are they big government Republicans?

I have my own disagreements with our former governor, some mirror Falknor’s some don’t. However, that is beside the point.

What’s at play here is Rascovar’s attempt to have it both ways, and his utter ignorance of what “neoconservatism” is, its conflict with limited government conservatism, and the true nature of regulation during the Bush era.

First, Irving Kristol, the father of neoconservatism always stated the importance of being anti-left not anti-state, a position that put the neocons at odds with much of the limited government paleoconservatives and libertarians, who compose the American right.

Second, it strains credulity to say that “less government intervention and fewer taxes made a mess of things in Washington” during the Bush era, when in fact the exact opposite that happened. Government regulation grew faster under George W. Bush than any president since Nixon. If only "limited government intervention" had indeed been put into policy during the Bush administration. Veronique de Rugy of Reason explains:

Since Bush took office in 2001, there has been a 13 percent decrease in the annual number of new rules. But the new regulations' cost to the economy will be much higher than it was before 2001. Of the new rules, 159 are "economically significant," meaning they will cost at least $100 million a year. That's a 10 percent increase in the number of high-cost rules since 2006, and a 70 percent increase since 2001. And at the end of 2007, another 3,882 rules were already at different stages of implementation, 757 of them targeting small businesses.

Overall, the final outcome of this Republican regulation has been a significant increase in regulatory activity and cost since 2001. The number of pages added to the Federal Register, which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of 78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001…

The data also show that, adjusted for inflation, expenditures for the category of finance and banking were cut by 3 percent during the Clinton years and rose 29 percent from 2001 to 2009, making it hard to argue that Bush deregulated the financial sector…

It takes a lot of bureaucrats to create and enforce all those regulations. In eight years, Bush increased the federal government's regulatory staff by 91,196 employees. Clinton cut it by 969.

One rule in particular from the Bush Federal Transit Authority really chapped my ass.

Sorry to bust up old Barry with those inconvenient facts, but if he is going to use words/labels like “neoconservative” and “less government intervention” he should at least know what they mean and apply them accurately to those they fit.

Now, as with Boyd, if Rascovar wanted to opine on the faults of compassionate conservatism and the abandonment of conservatism properly understood during the Bush ere, then he’d be making cogent argument. If he’d even tried to talk about the original neoconservatives of the 1960s and 1970s, who argued against the dangers of overarching government—liberals mugged by reality—he would have been on better footing. But he doesn’t, he’s just types out the first liberal trope that comes to mind, recycling the same clichés he’s already used.

More below the fold.

The Smell of Hypocrisy

This is slightly off Maryland topic, but relevant also in Maryland

The passage of the stimlus train wreck is loaded with opportunities to take Congress to task for being hypocritical. This Chicago Tribune piece doesn't disclose a hypocrisy per se, but you can bet one will be forthcoming when it comes time for the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.

Washington, which has run up a $10.7 trillion national debt, wants to punish Wall Street execs for running their companies into the ground. How ironic.

President Barack Obama proposed that the salaries of top executives whose companies seek federal assistance be capped at $500,000 a year. Congress went further, moving to restrict performance bonuses for more employees at those companies.

The bonus language was inserted in the federal stimulus package by Sen. Christopher Dodd. You might think Dodd was offering this as penance for the preferential treatment on mortgages he received from Countrywide Financial Corp., which has been caught up in the subprime lending mess. But with this legislation Dodd is asking everyone else to do penance.

A lot of people are furious about the nation's economic meltdown and the gaudy sums that taxpayers have been asked to provide to shore up banks and other businesses. Hence the move to haul execs into brightly lit committee rooms for public shame sessions. Hence the move to cap their pay.
I don't agree with the idea of capping pay just to cap pay since these companies will not be able to retain quality CEOs who can go to other firms that haven't taken TARP money or any other bailout and get paid according to whatever measures they can negotiate. If bailed out companies can't compensate their CEOs and other top managers who turn the company around, then what these companies will get is lower quality CEOs. The companies will continue to struggle and likely will continue to need further bailing out.

A much better approach will be for significant deferment of bonuses based on real performance benchmarks. If Congress is going to limit pay until the bailout money is repaid, fine, but the CEOs will need some sort of incentive to stay with the foundering ship until it is salvaged, rescued and put back on a profitable and even keel. That means bonuses later on, deferred compensation, etc. Keep quality CEOs in place.

But this piece and the sentiment behind the reduced pay for CEOs leads to another question. How much will Congress give up to help the country along? The median net worth of a Member of Congress is nearly $750,000 and nearly 2 of every 3 Senators are millionaires.

Members of Congress get paid a pretty heft sum for their work. I am not saying they don't earn it, but it does make you wonder in this age of "sacrifice" that is being requested of Americans and more importantly their children and grandchildren, how much sacrifice will be borne by Congress?

Members of Congress also get a heft "Member's Rpresenttional Allowance" which they use to pay their staff, buy equipment, supplies and rent office space in their home districts. The MRA for 2009 is between $1.3 million and $1.6 million (Members in leadership posts get a bit more to cover additional staff). The MRA for Senators varies widely depending on the size of their state. So here is the question, will the Legislative Brach Appropriations bill have a reduction in the MRA for the coming years? Not a smaller increase, an actual reduction?

Will Members of Congress, most of whom are personally wealthy give us some of their pay just like they are asking of banking CEOs? After all, if it is good for private sector executives to reduce their pay, isn't it good enough for our lawmakers to reduce their pay? How about means testing their salary, i.e. if they have a net worth in excess of say $1 million, they give up 10% of their salary, with a sliding scale that says if the members net worth is greater than say $20 million, they get no salary at all?

I might see a pay raise this year, I am almost certain my wife will not, not even COLA incease (she works for the University of Maryland). If I have to bear the brunt, why aren't lawmakers (most of whom are millionaires) bearing some burden also?

More below the fold.

If we HAVE to have a Dem as Governor...

If we HAVE to have a Dem as Governor...
... Why, Oh Why Couldn't It Have Been Doug Duncan?

After reading his comments about certain unnamed (cough...o'malley...cough)
"Maryland state or local elected officials facing reelection in 2010" one hopes that he, or someone like him, might consider giving MOM a real contest. If Bobby Ehrlich doesn't run against O'Malley, any chance we can recruit Doug to our side?

His complaints against politicians apply to some of our own as well. Too often those in power of any & all persuasions care more about getting along 'til the next election, when they should be more concerned with radically re-evaluating every program and expense. Do any have the 'nads to actually cut the ones that do not work. If not, maybe we should cut their's off at the polls!

It reminds me of something heard at last night's Help Save Maryland rally at Lawyer's Mall, something along the lines of... "Politicians care about the next election, Leaders care about the next generation".

Crossposted on Maryland Chesapeake Blog & Red Maryland

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Monday, February 16, 2009

They Only Think They Know

Via Memorandum the luminaries of the leftwing blogosphere: Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, The Atlantic’s in house gynecologist, Andrew Sullivan, and TPM all think they’ve “owned” George Will and “debunked” his “Dark Green Doomsayers” column.

The thrust of their argument is that last year, USA Today debunked as myth the so called skeptic talking point that in the 1970s there was a consensus of global cooling. That it was the media who hyped up global cooling in the 1970s and no real consensus existed.

Klein Yglesias, et al need to step back from exulting in their own petulance.

Yglesias specifically states:

The fact of the matter is that there was a bunch of media hype in the 1970s about a cooling trend. Now as probably know, the media sometimes hypes up bogus trend stories with no real basis in evidence. Neither Will nor Boaz are small children or lobotomy victims, so presumably they understand this, too. And that’s exactly what was happening in the 70s…

However, its not as cut and dry as Yeglesias thinks it is.

As Chris Horner writes on page 33 his book Red Hot Lies, which details the tricks of the alarmist trade:

It is also true that the media did run with a minority shrieking about cooling when it appears a majority among the very-divided scientific community were gunning the warming bandwagon’s engine. But this claim proves too much: back then as in recent years, what was in the literature was not what was driving the debate, which was instead driven by a filtered view of it; but the gatekeepers then are the same as today.

To now claim that the cooling assertions came from fringe elements is to deny the record, including debates by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, the media listen to whom they wish to listen, and write what they wish to write, but the gatekeepers then are the same as today.

Emphasis mine

To wit: the same folks listed above who claim that the media (and let’s not forget their environmentalist allies) hyped global cooling in the 1970s are part and parcel of a similar machine hyping anthropogenic warming catastrophe.

So we shouldn’t believe a media hyped cooling hoax in the 1970s, but take their descendants word as gospel when it comes to “climate change” in 2009? Nice try, but no sale.

Ta-Nehisi Coates throws the zinger that on the issue of global warming skeptics take pride in being ignorant. Given that he and his brethren on the left just engaged in the same stunt they decried I ask who, is pridefully ignorant now.

Obviously these are clever people; they wouldn’t be where they are if they were not. However, it appears they are too clever by half.

More below the fold.


So out first proposed changed to the slots law is already in the hopper:

A Baltimore County lawmaker is proposing slot-machine gambling at Maryland's major airport, but Gov. Martin O'Malley called the casino a "bad idea," limiting its chances at a time of slots-related buyer's remorse in Annapolis.

Del. Eric M. Bromwell's House Bill 777 -- the airplane-related number is a coincidence -- would add Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to the list of locations for the casino licenses approved by voters last year.

The bill, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 11 Baltimore County and city lawmakers, would allow 3,000 slots in the terminal area.

The idea is to separate air travelers from their cash while they wait to board airplanes, said Bromwell, a Baltimore County Democrat. "If you're looking to capture revenues from outside of the state," he said, "we're talking about people from all over the country and all over the world that land in BWI."
Now, this is actually a reasonable idea and I actually have no qualms with the idea of putting slots at BWI. No it doesn't exactly make for a slot machine destination, but it's a better use of some of the empty spaces of the airport than they are now.

So what's the problem? This:
The idea would require a voter-ratified amendment to the Maryland Constitution, which the lawmaker has also proposed.
That's right, because of the knuckleheaded way Democrats dealt with slots, we'll have to go through the entire constitutional amendment rigmarole again. But....we knew that was going to happen:
The fact of the matter is that such language adopted in the Constitution will make it nearly impossible to correct any shortcomings with slots, particularly with slot parlor locations, once it is ensconced in the Constitution. At that point, If zoning becomes an issue as the Amendment allows, there is no useful way to fix it; any changes would also need to be adopted as Constitutional Amendments and subjected to another referendum to state voters. That’s no way to make public policy.
And it's still no way to make public policy. Instead of a simple fix to a simple law, slots language being ensconced in the Constitution means 2010 is going to be a repeat of 2008. Nobody wants to live through that, but in order to save slots from becoming a complete boondoggle, Democrats may be forced to fight the fight once more.

I look forward to the day when we have competent representation in Annapolis....maybe then it won't be so easy to predict their failures.


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President's Day Symposium

I was gracioulsy invited to contribute to National Review's President's Day Symposium.

We were asked to contribute 200 words on our favorite president. Three guesses who I chose!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

PG Delegates attempting to reduce school share of telephone tax revenue

Comment:  When the Tax and Spend General Assembly voted to ignore the Prince George's County charter and the will of county voters and force a telephone tax (among the very highest in the nation) on Prince George's County residents, they justified their actions by claiming that the money would be used for the schools.  Now they want to reduce the school system's share to 80 of the revenue collected.  Once again they are demonstrating that PG Democratic politicians simply cannot be trusted to keep their promises about the use of money from new and increased taxes.

HB 1095  (PG 412-09)

Entitled: Prince George's County Telecommunications Tax - School Funding


Requiring that 10% of the revenue from the Prince George's County sales and use tax on telecommunications service be used for operating expenditures of the Prince George's Community College; and altering the percentage of the revenues from the Prince George's County sales and use tax on telecommunications service that is required to be used for operating expenses of the Prince George's County school system.

More below the fold.

PG Delegation bills to interfere with, or raise the cost of, PG County government


The Prince George's County house delegation is not only sponsoring multiple bills to override the will of Prince George's County voters by forcing county-specific taxes on the residents of the county, these Tax and Spend Democrats are also sponsoring bills that would both interfere in and micromanage local affairs and increase the costs of the already deficit-ridden county government.

I would hope that, when these bills come to committee and to the floor, Republicans will oppose them rather than defer to the wishes of their Big Government, Tax and Tax and Spend and Spend Democratic colleagues.

HB 958 (PG 404-09)

Entitled: Prince George's County - Public School Construction - Joint Signature Letter and State Funding

Prohibiting the submission of a specified letter to the Interagency Committee on School Construction without the signatures of the Senate and House chairs of the Prince George's County delegation to the General Assembly; requiring the Board of Public Works to include planning and design as an eligible public school construction or capital improvement cost for Prince George's County; etc.
Comment: Provides for delegation leaders to interfere with and micromanage the administration of the school system. Requires additional and unncessary bureaucratic work and expenditures by the county board of public works.

HB 960 (PG 407-09)

Entitled: Prince George's County - Board of Education - Elected Members Benefits PG 407-09

Providing that the elected members of the Prince George's County Board of Education are entitled to health insurance and other fringe benefits provided to the employees of the Board of Education.
Comment: Requires diverting scarce funds away from educating or children in order to provide increased benefits for elected officials.

HB 961 (PG 410-09)

Entitled: Prince George's County - Developers Receiving State Funding - Compliance with Minority Business Enterprise Goals

Requiring entities that receive specified direct or indirect funding from the State for a development project located in Prince George's County to comply with specified minority business enterprise goals under specified circumstances; and requiring Prince George's County to conduct a disparity study and report the results to the Prince George's Senate and House delegations of the Maryland General Assembly by December 31, 2010.
Comment: Provides for micromanagement of county contracting by general assembly members and staff and requires additional bureaucratic work and expenditures by both the county and state governments.

HB 962 (PG 322-09)
Entitled: Prince George's County - Alcoholic Beverages - Wine Festival License

Authorizing the Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners to issue a wine festival license for the sale of wine at the Prince George's County Wine Festival; establishing licensing requirements; providing for a license fee; requiring the Board to set the date and location for the Festival and to assure that the primary focus of the Festival is the promotion of Maryland wine; etc.
Comment: Micromanages and adds to the workload and expenses of the county board of license commissioners.

HB 1131 (PG 406-09)

Entitled: Prince George's County - Tax Increment Financing - Small, Local, or Minority Business Enterprises

Requiring that specified small, local, or minority business enterprises receive at least a 20% ownership in specified projects wholly or partially financed through specified bonds in Prince George's County; providing that the ownership requirement does not apply to specified tax-exempt or not-for-profit entities or to specified projects; requiring the County Council of Prince George's County to enact specified local laws; requiring the County Council of Prince George's County to conduct a specified study; etc.
Comment: Additional micromanagement of contracting in Prince George's County plus an explicit requirement to increase county bureaucracy and expenditures.

More below the fold.

Papal Fallibility: Say it ain't so, Pope Benedict XVI

-- Richard E. Vatz

No doubt you are aware of the controversy surrounding the Pope's reinstating of the execrable Bishop Richard Williamson. [A good reader claims the "reinstatement" description is imprecise, and that "de-excommunicated" is correct. Perhaps. I do not see, however, that such imprecision, if he is correct, changes at all the gravamen of the argument herein.]

Bishop Williamson is a longtime Holocaust denier and anti-Semite, if you'll forgive the redundancy.

In a broadcast interview last month, according to the Associated Press, the Anti-Defamation League documents his telling the "Swedish state TV that no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust and only 200,000 to 300,000 were killed, not 6 million," and in a 1989 speech declared that "Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism. There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies." In addition he was quoted as saying that "the Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new state of Israel." These are not isolated quotes, as they are prototypical of his anti-Semitic sentiments over at least the last 2 decades.

What is the reaction of Pope Benedict XVI ? According, again, to the Associated Press, he "issued his strongest condemnation yet about Holocaust denial during a meeting Thursday with American Jewish leaders."

The reactions to his apparent peace offering were varied: as quoted by The Washington Post, Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, stated "Today's statement was important but it did not bring closure ... You cannot condemn Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and reinstate someone who to this day continues to be an anti-Semite and deny the Holocaust."

There was also inexplicable capitulation quoted in The Washington Post: "We came here with heavy hearts because of recent events, but we came away pleased and honored by the words of His Holiness," Malcolm Hoenlein, vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

No small addendum: In a rare move, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked Pope Benedict XVI, saying the Vatican's action was tantamount to "the impression that Holocaust denial might be tolerated" in reinstating Bishop Richard Williamson into the good graces of the Church.

Major incongruity: Pope said he will visit Israel in May.

The best opinion piece on the moral crisis is as follows:

Dithering Before A Denier
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, February 10, 2009; A17

Shush. Do not call. Do not e-mail. I am on pins and needles. The newly reinstated Roman Catholic bishop who has been ordered by the pope to recant his statements denying the Holocaust now concedes that "many honest and intelligent people" disagree with him, so he's going to look into the matter and see if he has been wrong. With virtually unbearable anticipation, I await his findings.

Bishop Richard Williamson, installed in the schismatic Society of St. Pius X and invited back into the church by Pope Benedict XVI just last month, said his examination of the evidence will have its limits. "I will not go to Auschwitz," he told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel via e-mail. No matter. People with his mind-set have already been there.

Still, he could go to Treblinka, also in Poland, or any of the other Polish camps -- Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek. In Germany, Austria and elsewhere he could visit Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenburg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrueck or the many subsidiary camps -- a trek that could take him across Europe and into the cold reality of historic horror.

Holocaust denial suggests a mind perforated by anti-Semitism, a bigotry so extreme that it blinds the bigot to mounds of shoes and hair and eyeglasses, all of these exhibited at various Holocaust museums. To be a denier, it is necessary to believe that all the survivors -- Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel and all the others -- staggered out of the camps, got together and agreed to fabricate a story.

You have to believe that historians did something similar -- and so, too, did the people who lived downwind from the crematoriums, and even the train engineers who took countless Jews unto the camps and brought none out. Where are the 54,000 Greek Jews of Salonika? Where did those people go? "We dig a grave in the breezes," Paul Celan wrote in his Holocaust poem "Death Fugue." Ah, yes, that's where they are.

Williamson's lawyer confirmed the authenticity of the e-mails to Der Spiegel. It is possible, though, that the pope has not yet seen the article. He sees so little. Astoundingly, the pope says he was unaware that Williamson is a Holocaust denier. He did not know that Williamson said that only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II and that none were gassed. Williamson said that he once reviewed the physical evidence. This, of course, is the telltale twitch of the really obsessed anti-Semite, an architectural deconstruction of the ovens and the chimneys to conclude that the whole thing was impossible -- a yarn, a myth concocted by those diabolically clever Jews to win sympathy, reparations and, of course, Israel itself.

It's clear that the pope doesn't only travel in a bubble, he lives in one. But that is no concern of mine -- or yours. What should concern us more is the charade that continues. A Holocaust denier now pretends to sift through the evidence to see if such a thing happened. What shall we do with the results? What if Williamson says the Holocaust occurred, the ovens worked, the chimneys were big enough? Who cares? Should he be considered sincere? Can this graduate of Cambridge University suddenly be exonerated of his patent anti-Semitism? How can you doubt the Holocaust and not be a raving Jew-hater?

Still, the pope mulls the matter over. What should he, a German, do about this Holocaust denier? (The pope has dismayed much of Germany.) What should he, the pope, do after eons of Vatican anti-Semitism culminating in a supine silence during the Holocaust itself? He dithers. He did not know. He demanded a retraction. He is waiting. He is being played for a fool.

Benedict XVI is a traditionalist, an organization man, and so he worries about a schism in the Church -- the Pius X Society representing ultra-conservatives who reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which pertinently included a strong repudiation of anti-Semitism. Never mind that the schism has existed since 1969 and does not matter much anyway. With his overture to Williamson and his subsequent dithering, Benedict XVI has opened a much more consequential schism -- between the church he heads and a worldwide community of appalled onlookers. It is one thing to deny the Holocaust. It is somehow worse to deny that doing so is anything other than an irreversible and disqualifying confession of anti-Semitism. No matter what he may come to say, Williamson must not be accepted by the pope. History forbids it.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Towson University

Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.
Towson Distinguished Professor
Professor, MCOM/COMM; University Senate; Towson University
Associate Psychology Editor, USA Today Magazine; Editor, Current Psychology
(410) 704-3107

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In the Interest of Full Disclosure

Justdafacts responds to to my post about his work earlier this summer and the recent allegations about Michael Steele:

"I didn't know anything about Saturday's story in WaPo until I read it."

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

No Warm and Fuzzies Here

To follow on to my previous post about health care records, CNET has a piece on the complete and total lack of privacy provisions built into the health care sections of the Stimulus Package:

What didn't come up during the president's first press conference was how one section of the convoluted legislation--it's approximately 800 pages total--is intended to radically reshape the nation's medical system by having the government establish computerized medical records that would follow each American from birth to death.

Billions will be handed to companies creating these databases. Billions will be handed to universities to incorporate patient databases "into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals." There's a mention of future "smart card functionality."

Yet nowhere in this 140-page portion of the legislation does the government anticipate that some Americans may not want their medical histories electronically stored, shared, and searchable. Although a single paragraph promises that data-sharing will "be voluntary," there's no obvious way to opt out.

"Without those protections, Americans' electronic health records could be shared--without their consent--with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy.

The Democratic politicians pushing this bill have far-reaching ambitions. The legislation (PDF) (on page 244, for the curious) hands to a still-to-be-named health care bureaucrat the "goal of utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014." Selecting official standards will be left to the Department of Health and Human Services (page 265).

The databases will, "at a minimum," include information on every American's race and ethnicity. They will be used for "biosurveillance and public health" and "medical and clinical research," both of which raise privacy questions. They will become part of a "nationwide system for the electronic use and exchange of health information."

Read the whole thing.

I find it incredibly odd, curious, and mind-numbing that the same leftists who decried "corporate welfare", decried the "privacy concerns" from the Bush and Ehrlich years (remember the police spying fiasco?), the people who want to handcuff insurance companies when it comes to denyting coverage for preexisting conditions, and the people who complained about government giving too much power to private entities readily and happily signed on to this boondoggle.

To make a long story short, Democrats in Congress have stripped you of your privacy rights when it comes to health care. You will be tracked from cradle to grave, and there seems to not be a damn thing that you can do about it.

So for those of you out there who voted for Obama, I ask you if you are still glad that you handed our nation's right to privacy away to government bureaucrats and health care companies?


More below the fold.