Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quiet Please: Rent Seeking in Progress

Via Paul Chesser’s excellent piece at the American Spectator, we have more evidence of the spectacular failure of Europe’s cap and trade scheme:

Germany's renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country's electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.But there's a catch: The climate hasn't in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven't prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.

Even more surprising, the European Union's own climate change policies, touted as the most progressive in the world, are to blame. The EU-wide emissions trading system determines the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted by power companies and industries. And this amount doesn't change -- no matter how many wind turbines are erected.

Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn't widely known to the public. Even Germany's government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.

It's a sensitive subject: Germany is recognized worldwide as a leader in all things related to renewable energy. The environmental energy sector doesn't want this image to be tarnished. Under no circumstances does Berlin want the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) -- which mandates the prices at which energy companies have to buy green power -- to fall into disrepute.

At the same time, big energy companies have an interest in maintaining the status quo. As a result, no one is pushing for change. Everyone involved is remaining silent.

And there you have it. Cap and trade does nothing to reduce carbon emissions or halt global warming. But that was already a well known fact, if you had the eyes to see it.

Germany’s renewable energy companies have been successful because the emissions trading scheme was a government mandate for their product, which prior to it, was too expensive vis-a-vi fossil fuels until the EU started picking winners and losers. Hence the reason for the silence, if the raison d’etre for the emissions trading scheme is bunk then the con is revealed and they will lose their government mandated advantage.

This is the reason why the rest of Europe’s alternative energy companies are lining up to sponsor the upcoming UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, which will design the successor treaty to Kyoto. They know their gravy train is vulnerable.

The experience in Europe is exactly what will happen here should the federal government approve cap and trade in Obama’s budget or the Maryland General Assembly pass the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act.

The scam is on and we are the marks.

More below the fold.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"When you're taking flak...

…you know you’re over the target,” was a phrase much used by Mike Huckabee during the Republican primaries. I’m no fan of Huckabee, but the cliché is accurate.

To wit: progressive muckety muck Michael Tomasky’s reaction to my Examiner piece about the move to change the lyrics to Maryland, My Maryland. :

He states that he disagrees with my conclusions and adds the snarky insult, “At any rate. Maryland is a liberal state, Brother Newgent, like it or not. Let's get with the times.”

Only, Tomasky never actually addresses my argument. In fact, he adds more strength to it.

Of course, Tomasky is no stranger to clumsy critiques.

More below the fold.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Maryland General Assembly's Restriction of the Death Penalty: the Prospect of Blood on Its Hands

--Richard E. Vatz

Gov. Martin O’Malley has indicated he is going to sign into law in the next few weeks new restrictions on Maryland’s death penalty. The limits will allow the state’s prosecutors to seek the ultimate penalty in qualified cases only wherein the evidence against the accused includes DNA and/or biological (with the possible addition of fingerprints) evidence or crime videotape. In addition, if there is videotape evidence of a legal confession, that would be acceptable as well.

The new restrictions constitute perhaps the most irresponsible legislation in memory. According to SUN reporter Julie Bykowicz, “Maryland's evidentiary limitations will become the most stringent of any of the 35 states that have capital punishment on the books.” This will be the case perhaps because legislating what specific type of evidence is necessary to prove guilt, about which expertise is lacking among many legislators, is inferior to legislating the LEVEL of proof necessary, about which less specific expertise is required among legislators.

Maryland’s Attorney General Doug Gansler has called the original Senate proposal “ill-prepared, ill-thought out, awkward and clumsy.” He was being much too indulgent.

Legislative persuasion on critical matters usually involves, at least to some degree, the merits of a bill, not just party politics, constituent support and deal-making. Some of the most public persuasion by supporters of the bill has simply ignored major arguments opposing the proposed legislation.

Let’s first put aside some permanently inconclusive issues:

Deterrence? This argument will never persuade either side to reconsider, even though, parenthetically, the preponderance of evidence establishes that serious, consistent, and relatively timely use of the death penalty does prevent some homicides.

Racial bias? This argument will also never convince either side to reconsider, because it is impossible to prove. One should note, however, that even the much-misinterpreted Paternoster Study found no discrimination in use of the death penalty in Maryland regarding the race of the defendant. Regarding the race of victims, if there is a desire to even-up use of the death penalty among those who kill blacks and those who kill whites, let the prosecutors increase its use in the latter situations.

Cost? Another peripheral matter the consequences of which are manipulatable according to what one considers is a direct result of the death penalty or how it is adjudicated. Regardless, this debate is completely dwarfed by the consequential matters of the threat to citizens of not having a death penalty.

But with the new legislation, there are other fish to fry.

Some of the more trenchant arguments against the current restrictions include the fact that so restricting capital punishment
1. defines instructively for criminals and would-be criminals how to commit capital crime without incurring capital punishment, and 2. instructs such miscreants regarding how one can commit capital crime in some cases without any punishment at all.

Such crimes will surely focus the perpetrator on avoiding the leaving of DNA or fingerprint evidence or committing crimes in front of a camera. Lawyerly advice regarding capital crime will surely herein include the admonition to avoid confessing to capital crimes. If the death penalty is ever eliminated altogether, as many legislators want, horrific crimes which will enable a criminal to avoid punishment altogether will include prisoners’ killing prison guards or other inmates and murders subsequent to the first one. With the new restrictions incarcerated accused felons’ contracting with third parties to kill witnesses and convicts’ ordering killings or threats by cohorts will be punishment-free. An escaped killer with the death penalty eliminated or with the new restrictions if he's careful will have carte blanche to kill at will.

Columnist Gregory Kane asked in a BALTIMORE SUN column in 2007 about how Maryland would punish those who murdered David McGuinn, a corrections officer, in the Maryland House of Correction.

The murders of brave Marylanders like Carl Lackl, witness to a murder, seem not to overly concern death penalty opponents.

Recent prominent articles by, for example, the current Governor and former House Speaker Cas Taylor, supporting the repeal of the death penalty and not even addressing the above arguments against repeal, argue that an innocent person could be executed. The Governor also asks rhetorically if even in the case of unrepentant multiple killer John Thanos does execution "‘even the ledger’ for the taking of another's unique life?" The question of whether such an execution “evens the ledger” ignores more telling questions as to whether Thanos’ execution brings some peace (no, not “closure”) to those directly affected by his murders and whether the removal of Thanos from the land of the living is salutary, since otherwise he could kill again or order more killings.

Does anyone wish that Tim McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing, were still alive? Not many, according to public opinion polls which supported his execution by about 80% and typically support the death penalty when the issue is publicly salient.

Could an innocent person be executed? Yes. Are all of those who have been released from death row in this country “innocent,” as the Governor and other death penalty opponents describe them? No, maybe not even most. They are legally “not guilty,” because the evidence was compromised or due process was violated.

But the chance does exist that a person could be executed who didn’t commit a capital crime. The question is where does society want to locate the risk: in the general public from living murderers or terrorists, or among the infinitesimal number of people tried incorrectly for horrific crimes.

The fact of the matter is that the new restrictions and/or removal of the death penalty will result in a population at increased risk from killers and/or terrorists. To the extent that some legislators support untoward public policy that predictably enables this result makes those legislators witting accomplices-in-waiting.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of communication at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Even a depressed sourpus like me needs some LOL...

More below the fold.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

State Song Update

John Miller of National Review gracsioulsy allowed me to post, on The Corner, an update on the attempt to change the lyrics of Maryland, My Maryland.

Welcome Corner readers.

More below the fold.


More bad news in Washington, as Congressional Democrats are about to require national service from our children and, potentially, redefine how non-profit corporations are operated in America. As a small government conservative and a non-profit Board Chairman, color me less than enthusiastic about Washington determining how non-profit activities are going to be operated.

Lots more over at RedState on this issue, and check out Sen. Jim DeMint trying to bring some common sense to the issue:


More below the fold.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Next Job Up

So, County Councilman Josh Cohen is running for Mayor of Annapolis. Cohen though seems to have a pretty disturbing trend happening when it comes to holding office and failing to finish what he starts.

Cohen was elected as an Annapolis Alderman in 2001 and the re-elected in 2005. Barely past his victory in 2005, he was off an running for County Council in the 6th District in 2006. Now, barely halfway through his first term as a County Councilman, he is ignoring his County responsibilities to run for Mayor.

I guess Cohen is in the career politician-in-training program, always looking forward a bigger and better post. I bet the residents of the 6th Councilmanic District wish that they knew he was going to try and bail on them before his time was up, especially when you consider that if Cohen had just stayed put as an Alderman we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I just hope that the voters of Annapolis are wise enough to reject a guy who never has his eyes on the job he has, but always the job he wants...


More below the fold.

Take the Hint

So it looks like once again the School Board Nominating Commission is trying to hunt and peck to find people to apply for the School Board.

But can you really blame people for not wanting to be part of this convoluted, undemocratic process? A process that the School Board Nominating Commission has decided should avoid public input at all costs and hide their deliberations from the public? A system that is subjected to a highly politicized process that puts the decision in the hands of a Governor who bypasses a qualified candidate in order to appoint an unregistered Democratic lobbyist who gets "re-elected" in a sham election that gives people no real choices.

Yeah, I wonder why nobody wants to sign up for this gig.

What's even more ridiculous is the fact that O'Malley Flunky Commission Chairman Joshua Greene wants to push back the application deadline, seemingly just for the hell of it;

"Applications are due April 1," said Joshua Greene, commission chairman. "What we may do is push back the application deadline."
That's great. Give people who couldn't submit their applications by a set deadline another opportunity to not submit their applications by a set deadline. Fantastic.

Can we please have our School Board elections now so we don't have to play any more games with the education of our County's children?


More below the fold.

Barack Obama’s Beloved “Hail Fellow Well Met” Presidency: Diminishing Returns?

--Richard E. Vatz

We tend to get presidents who lack the most offensive personal qualities of their predecessors. It is similar to the hiring of executives. At Towson we had a terrible provost years ago, and when we chose the new one (who has already been hired to be a president at West Virginia University), we made sure he was as honest and transparent as the former was bureaucratically dishonest and opaque.

When Richard Nixon’s peculiarities and deviousness rubbed practically the entire country the wrong way, we chose President “Normal Man,” Gerald R. Ford, as his successor.* [*Reader "Lefty" claims that it is inaccurate to claim that "we" chose Ford, since it was Nixon who chose him post-Agnew, but I do believe it was Ford's antithetical-to-Nixon ethos which led to his being chosen.]

Some felt President Ford was not brilliant, so we chose brilliant-but-weak Jimmy Carter as President.

The weak and affected Jimmy Carter, who gave an exclusive interview to PLAYBOY, quoted his 12-year-old daughter in a presidential debate, and caved in response to Iran’s hostage-taking was replaced by a non-peculiar, strong foreign-policy president, Ronald Reagan.

Last November, when the country had had enough of the inarticulate, uncool and generally unavailable President George W. Bush and the supercilious Vice President Dick Cheney, we chose the rhetorically gifted, personally attractive and ubiquitous Barack Obama who is giving us the “Hail Fellow Well Met" presidency.

President Obama is simply the most likable (by just about everyone) president since Ronald Reagan, and even more people like Mr. Obama. His rhetorical style combines policy wonkishness (out of favor since President Bill Clinton ) with the friendly, “common man/populist” approach; thus, we have the style of the dropped g’s (“buildin’,” “fightin',” etc.) and the consistent pronunciation of “to” as “ta.” It is an unusual combination, which so far has won him personal popularity while support for his “soak-the-rich” domestic policies (heading toward eliminating income tax obligations for a near-majority of the electorate and raising taxes on only 5% of the population) and weak, ineffective foreign policy (with measurable goals, such as ensuring that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons) is falling.

President Obama’s second news conference was incredibly boring, but it appears that he has still not gone to the “public appearance well” once too often. But was there a hint of a chink in the President’s charismatic armor?

Ed Henry, the politically unpredictable CNN senior White House correspondent, asked the President in his press conference 1. why New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was getting “actual action” on the AIG bonuses in contrast to Obama, and why the public didn’t learn about the bonuses until Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner could not stop them, and 2. whether he (Obama) was being consistent in view of his criticism of President Bush for doubling the national debt when President Obama himself was going to double it again. The President ignored the questions, and when Henry reiterated the first one, President Obama said angrily (for him), “Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak. All right?”

President Barack Obama’s “Hail Fellow Well Met” presidency first ensured personal popularity and policy support. Then, within the first seven weeks, his policy support began to erode. If his actual domestic and foreign policy results do not at least augur some success, the President may find that even his personal popularity will lose intensity and then support, maybe not to the George W. Bush levels, but significantly.

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

More below the fold.

Laura Vozzella's Ehrlich Obsession

So, it's been nearly three years since Bob Ehrlich stopped being governor of Maryland but the Baltimore Sun's Laura Vozzella can't quite get over it.

The Cordish Cos. has picked a surprising ally in its bid to put slots at Arundel Mills mall: Team Ehrlich.

Bob Ehrlich pushed hard for slots while governor but sharply criticized how Martin O'Malley pulled it off. Yet to help make his case for slots in Anne Arundel, Cordish has tapped Ehrlich communications guru Paul Schurick and others at Womble Carlyle.
Now this apparently will be news for Ms. Vozzella, but once people leave government office they still need to get a paycheck. Mr. Schurick works for Womble Carlyle, a fairly significant law and lobbying firm. One is hard pressed to understand why, exactly, the Cordish Company selecting Womble Carlyle is newsworthy... because it really isn't... unless your real agenda is to try to perpetuate a hypocrisy smear directed at Governor Ehrlich over his sponsorship of slots while he was governor and his principled opposition to the dog's breakfast of political payoffs that the O'Malley regime eventually enacted.

In fact, one would think that if Cordish was hiring a firm for reasons other than competence then hiring Womble Carlyle, who lists Governor Ehrlich as the head of its Baltimore office, to lobby the O'Malley administration would not be among the best moves possible.

The fatuous nature of Vozzella's column is clearly evident in this bit of nonsense:

Finally, Womble Carlyle has a client other than governor-in-waiting Ehrlich!
I seems like her nose is a bit out of joint because Mr. Schurick told her that the firm doesn't reveal its client list.

"We don't discuss our client relationships with anyone other than our clients," Schurick said.
Just to help Ms. Vozzella out, I think we can safely conclude that Womble Carlyle has more clients than Governor Ehrlich:

Established in Winston-Salem in 1876, the firm now comprises 530 lawyers in eleven offices, including Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park, Raleigh, NC; Atlanta, GA; Greenville, SC; Tysons Corner, VA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD and Wilmington, DE.

In fact, their press release archive would let anyone who was interested identify quite a few of their clients.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not the very model of a modern Money Manager

By now you are probably familiar with the fact that I don't find Dan Rodricks to be particularly bright, insightful, or generally having any grasp of common sense. And while today's column does not rival his several treatises on involuntary servitude, Rodricks again shows his complete lack of understanding of the theory of money as it relates to corporate bonuses, hoarding, and the fall of Western Civilization:

It's not just greed that drives this behavior, though greed is certainly part of it......

There's something else going on. I call it: hoarding up for the apocalypse.

I have been watching the concentration of wealth in this country accelerate during the past 10 years in particular. The gap between middle class and rich has become wider and wider, and the gap between rich and poor has become so vast as to be immeasurable.....

Knowing that it wasn't always so, I've tried to figure out why so many millionaires of the corporate class do everything within their power to become multimillionaires and even billionaires, piling on layer after layer of wealth, beyond anything most people can imagine as necessary in a lifetime.....

...Hoarding for the apocalypse calls for belief that the end is coming and that wealth will insulate the wealthy from the misery that will befall the rest of us. (The rest of us might harbor apocalyptic fears, from time to time, but we haven't figured out what to do about them. We're wage-earners, for the most part, or the owners of small businesses. We haven't all that much to hoard - not enough to make a difference, anyway - so we keep working to keep the bills paid and the kids fed.)

The apocalyptic rich have hoarded cash and assets - and they continue to accumulate as much as possible - and they've built retreats to allay a deep fear that, when the world starts to fall apart, they will be at the top of a mountain, in a secure compound with its own source of energy and potable water (and a decade's supply of cabernet), isolated from the screaming, rioting masses.

As the world's population grows, as the recession expands and unemployment worsens, as the globe continues to warm and the oceans rise, as questions about the future of energy and natural resources become graver, as civil unrest becomes a greater concern, the masters of the universe grab all they can. It's an Idaho panhandle mentality on Wall Street - hoard money and assets, and enough golf balls to ride out the coming cataclysm. There's social Darwinism at play in this, to be sure - survival of the richest - but it's the most cynical and self-centered kind, based not on enterprise or capitalism, but on a dark view of the future. Their concept of the greater good is gone, and they certainly display nothing you might call civic-mindedness or patriotism.
Now, if you follow Rodricks' logic here, the rich on Wall Street are hoarding money and resources to stave off the collapse of civilization (at least that's what I think Rodricks means; you've got to do a good job of suspending belief in logic and reason because this guy is a few peas short of a casserole).

Now I'm no expert on the end of the world, but I have read Lucifer's Hammer several times. And in that apocalyptic, post-civilization landscape, the last thing that was of any use to anybody was paper currency or money that was accounted to them in a computer system that was no longer functional. And while the accumulation of resources such as non-perishable food, water, guns, and ammo are important to surviving the end of the world, it's not exactly like there has been a demonstrable run on most of these things. And what increases there have been in the sales of guns and ammo have more to do with concerns over the Obama Administration's warped view of the Second Amendment more than it does with an impending breakdown in law and order.

What's equally absurd is Rodricks assertion that these folks are building such compounds, stocking up on supplies and "upgrading their corporate jets." It seems like Rodricks imagined these so called trends of the rich while on whatever planet he just checked back in from and didn't bother to supply one iota of even anecdotal evidence to back up his point. It's not like there are a multitude of hedge fund managers wandering the streets in Brooks Brothers suits buying ammo, 4 tons of beef jerky, and a subscription to Soldier of Fortune.

Truth be told, I think that Rodricks issue here has little to do with bonuses, survivalism or "the concept of the greater good." I think that the probleme here is actually jealousy. Dan Rodricks is a hack writer for a failing, increasingly irrelevant newspaper. His tv show stunk. He hosts a show on a radio station nobody listens to. And it's quite apparent that his ideas for nationalized forced servitude, nationalization of industry, and wealth equalization are mocked and not accepted by the preponderance of the middle and working class readership that see through his shtick. Rodricks probably was the guy who made fun of people in high school who worked hard and paid attention to their studies, and those are the guys getting bonuses. Meanwhile, a guy with no demonstrable skills, original ideas, or clue like Rodricks can't get ahead and it drives him crazy. Rodricks is living a freaking Morrissey song, and it eats him up.

I'm not going to argue that the bonuses Rodricks rails against are a good idea, good policy, or good public relations for the companies that are or were considering offering them to employees. Companies look silly for offering them, and the Government looks silly for companies receiving government funds to allow them. But to extrapolate and accuse "the rich" of hoarding and preparing for an imagined apocalypse is a bridge too far, and proves that the crackpot ideas being put forth by Dan Rodricks are not to snuff even for an increasingly less relevant Baltimore Sun.


More below the fold.

The Next Bailouts

So it has finally come to this. Newspapers are hemorrhaging readership due to shoddy performance and political bias. And now, it looks like Maryland's own Ben Cardin wants to throw them a lifeboat:

Struggling newspapers should be allowed to operate as nonprofits similar to public broadcasting stations, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., proposed Tuesday.

Cardin introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to choose tax-exempt status. They would no longer be able to make political endorsements, but could report on all issues, including political campaigns.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible.

Now, there are a couple of interesting caveats to this, of course. Not the least of which is the fact that, theoretically, newspaper companies could already operate in a non-profit status. There are a number of non-profit organizations that produce publications and periodicals; why do we need a federal law to create a new classification of newspaper. Maybe a lawyer could fill me in more on this matter.

Secondarily, a little more disturbing to me, is the idea that we would have any federal legislation addressing the corporate status of newspapers. Right now, newspapers and newspaper ownership is not covered by any facet of federal law. I have a bad feeling that Cardin's legislation is the foot towards the regulation and the overregulation of newspaper ownership. We have already seen what happens when government proposes the regulation of television and radio station ownership; it was government policies of both Democratic and Republican administrations that led to the consolidation of radio station ownership, the demise of locally owned and operated radio stations, and the elimination of good locally based radio content. Cardin's bill starts us down a dangerous and slippery slope, a slope all the more dangerous when you consider the Democrats seemingly fervent opposition to the First Amendment.

If Ben Cardin wants to help local newspapers stay afloat, maybe he should invest his personal funds into one. Failing that, Cardin needs to allow the market to take its course and let these papers fail. If local papers go under or aren't doing their jobs, the market will either see a new paper or the blogs fill the slack (much as they have to the dismay of some in the most heavily scrutinized city government in the world). But Congress needs to be spending its time cutting spending and reducing taxes, not creating a new status of newspaper ownership.


More below the fold.

Double Standards

Dontcha find it a touch ex post facto for Speaker Busch to suddenly discover ethical concerns with this?:

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch moved yesterday to ban lobbyist-sponsored receptions on legislative property after a St. Patrick's Day party was thrown last week by two horse-racing interests in the office suite of the House committee that writes slot-machine legislation.

The sponsors, Ocean Downs Racetrack and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, stand to benefit from the slots bill passed in 2007 as well as a bill pending this session that would increase the share of slots proceeds going to racing purses.

A flyer billed the "invitation only" event as "Chairman Sheila Hixson's Annual St. Patrick's Day Party," and advertised: "Food! Friends!! Frivolity!!! Leprechauns & Libations!!!!" A lobbyist who helped organize the event, held in the Ways and Means Committee offices, said the cost was $4,683.

Although the two-hour evening reception does not appear to have violated legislative ethics laws, Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said he was concerned about how it appeared.

Gee.....ya think?

Now, here's what I love about the concept of this reception bought and paid for by lobbyists in a state government office buildings. The same crew of Democratic legislators who seem to think that this kind of whining and dining on property owned by the taxpayers is completely on the up and up are the exact same legislators who believe that we need to provide for public financing of all elections because they are worried about the influence of money in politics.

No sir, no double-standard there....

While I think the likelihood that face time and a buffet on state property during state time is not going to greatly persuade legislators one way or another, the appearance of such impropriety far exceeds the appearance of impropriety when it comes to campaign contributions and campaign donations, and certainly has nothing on the other various and sundry forms of Democratic Corruption that plague our state. The General Assembly can't have it both ways and allow themselves to be whined and dined ad naseum while restricting the ability of candidates (particularly, of course, challengers) to raise money from similar sources. This double standard does not pass the smell test.


More below the fold.

A Less than Stunning Development

Didn't catch this on Sunday, but to the surprise of absolutely no one the Free State came in dead last in personal freedom:

It's no shock that Maryland falls on the nanny state side of the ledger.

But it was still a surprise to hear the finding in a recent study by libertarian professors that Maryland came in dead last in personal freedom among the 50 states. (Alaska is No. 1.)

Among the reasons: Maryland lacks gay marriage or civil unions, aggressively prosecutes victimless drug crimes, keeps tight controls on land use and has the nation's second-strictest gun laws after California.

"You might call it 'suburban liberalism' ... kind of the idea that we need to take care of people, make sure they don't harm themselves," said Jason Sorens, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of political science at the University at Buffalo.....

...."For Maryland to end up last, that was a bit surprising, especially since the margin wasn't terribly close," Sorens said with a laugh.

The full report is available here. And it gets worse; according to the study, we are the fifth least free state overall when you tie in our ranking as the 34th least free state based on economic factors.

How does the study describe our personal freedom issues? Like this:
Maryland’s impositions on personal freedom include the second-strictest gun laws in the country, and marijuana laws are fairly harsh (except that the first offense of high-level possession is a misdemeanor, and there is a weak medical marijuana law), motorists’ freedoms are highly restricted, gambling laws are tight, home schooling laws are burdensome (curricula must be approved by the government), centralized land-use planning is very advanced, eminent domain abuse is totally unreformed, victimless crimes arrest rates are high, and civil unions are not recognized.
Yeah, that about sums it up nicely.

Now obviously, and as Hartley points out, Maryland is not going to be all things to all people when it comes to personal freedom. But there are a lot of personal freedom issues listed in that list that are anathema to all facets of conservatism, and several that will cross party lines. As we have talked about hte issue of Republican branding time and time again, it is incumbent upon us as Republicans to take on the mantra of the party of smaller government and try to champion a number of these issues. In Maryland, the Democrats are the party of the nannystate, and we as Republicans need to make them own it.


More below the fold.

Cold Hard Truth

Want to know the real reason why we cannot throw money at "alternative fuels" indiscriminately? Do you remember twenty years ago that scientists had discovered Cold Fusion? That Cold Fusion was going to revolutionize everything we knew about energy consumption? Well, the results couldn't be duplicated and scientists are still looking for that elusive Cold Fusion technique.

Now imagine if the state of Maryland had dumped millions of dollars into this unproven hypothesis, all at the expense of taxpayers and local businesses. Would have looked like a pretty stupid decision, would it not?

Well, if you replace then with now, and Cold Fusion with Global Warming, then the above can explain the likely passage of the Son of Global Warming Solutions Act in the General Assembly....

Twenty years from now, will we be thanking our state leaders for not succumbing to rash decision making? Or will we, our state in financial tatters, be asking why the people of Maryland allowed their leaders to sacrifice common sense for political expediency?


More below the fold.

Refuge Podcast #69 - Mid Session Review

The latest news and the views of Maryland's leading conservative opinion makers await in the next installment of the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by clicking the icon below:

You can catch up on past installments by visiting http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

The blogger roundtable with Red Maryland contributor Mark Newgent and special guest Jason Rheinstein discuss the latest from Annapolis as the 2009 General Assembly Session heads into the final stretch. How will the key issues of this year's session be resolved? What surprised lay in store? Our blogger contributors offer their insight and opinion.

I also share some listener feedback to our report on the Citizens for Better Government. I also share a response from the group itself.

Listen in and share your thoughts!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

More below the fold.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Red Maryland Endorses: Americans for Prosperity-Maryland

We get lots of “cause” requests here at Red Maryland, some, to be honest, are a quite loopy. Others however, are closely aligned with our mission to keep you informed and energize Maryland’s conservative grass roots. One such cause we are proud to align with is Americans for Prosperity-Maryland. AFP-Maryland is the Free State’s affiliate of Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots organizing, and public policy advocacy group dedicated to free markets, limited government, and economic growth.

AFP Maryland just launched No Strings Maryland, a petition effort to prevail upon Governor O’Malley not to accept federal stimulus funds ($3.75 Billion), which come with dangerous mandates attached. That is, Washington is demanding permanent expansion of social programs and state spending—beyond the date the federal government shuts off the spigot of “stimulus” money. This artificial inflation of the state’s budgetary baselines will dwarf the structural deficit of 2007, and inexorably lead to tax increases. To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the problem with this stimulus and the spending problem in Annapolis and Washington is eventually you run out of other people’s money.

Sign the petition, and attend the chapter kickoff press conference April 2 at 1:00 PM on the steps of the State House in Annapolis. See details here. AFP Maryland is also on Facebook.

For more information contact Dave Schwartz, AFP-Maryland’s State Director.

We encourage you to check out AFP-Maryland's blog. Dave has graciously asked us to contribute as guest bloggers. We look forward to working with AFP Maryland to keep you informed, energized and active.

More below the fold.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Rats are fleeing the Titanic

Wow, President Obama must be doing a historically bad job if the New York Times editorial page is writing about how bad of a President he is:

The leading liberal voices of the New York Times editorial pages all criticized—and, in some cases, clobbered—President Obama on Sunday for his handling of the economy and national security.

It's not unusual for Barack Obama to take a little friendly fire from the Times. But it's perhaps unprecedented for him to get hit on the same day by columnists Frank Rich, Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd—and in the paper's lead editorial. Their critique punctuated a weekend that started with a widely circulated blog post by Paul Krugman that said the president’s yet to be announced bank rescue plan would almost certainly fail.

The sentiment, coming just two months after the president was sworn in, reflects elite opinion in the Washington-New York corridor that Obama is increasingly overwhelmed, and not fully appreciative of the building tsunami of populist outrage.
And with the last sentence, Politico's Johnathan Martin may be making the understatement of the year. Read the lead editorial, and the editorials by Friedman, Rich, and Dowd for yourself to see how far reaching their criticisms are.

While I am glad to see that some of the most outspoken, out there voices on the left are finally seeing the error of their ways, I think they might need to be reminded of why we are where we are. Obama is still their guy. They cheerleaded for him throughout 2008, glossed over his nearly blank record and his ideological shortcomings, and heaped scorn upon John McCain for having the audacity to challenge Obama's Audacity of Hope......and we see where that has gotten us. (And that speaks nothing of Obama's recent gaffe-filled statements and his complete inability to say "hello" without the use of a teleprompter).

The problem with the New York Times crowd now realizing 60 days into his administration that Barack Obama makes a terrible, incompetent President is the fact that their realization comes a long, LONG time after the rest of the country reached that conclusion. Better late than never, I suppose.

But what really scares the rest of us is the fact that Obama still has 46 more months in the job before the adults get an opportunity to fix the damage....


More below the fold.

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft Interviews Barack Obama and Avoids Follow-up Questions: Grade of C-

--Richard E. Vatz

In the plethora of interviews and public appearances by President Barack Obama of late, one expects the most serious and informative exchanges to come from the gold standard of interview shows: "60 Minutes."

Regarding the “60 Minutes” interview by Steve Kroft of President Obama tonight, a few thoughts:

Where was the Steve Kroft who interviewed with some toughness candidate Barack Obama a year ago February? Where was the "60 Minutes" (Scott Pelley) that did that wonderful interview of the CIA interviewer who inveigled great substantive information out of the captured Saddam Hussein?

Was Kroft as bad as Barbara “Follow-up Questions Ruin My Interviews” Walters? No…every once in a while there was a hint of a least a non-pressing follow-up question.

The mark of a bad-interview-which-appears-to-be-a-good-interview is the asking of good, relevant questions combined with the neglect of follow-up questions. It allows the respondent -- in this case the President – to say whatever he wants without worrying about the interviewer’s insisting that the respondent answer the question asked.

Kroft asked President Obama whether as a Constitutional lawyer he was concerned about the constitutionality of taxing the gains of AIG executives at a confiscatory rate to punish them for gaining from a legal contract. An interesting question, that.

Obama said something to the effect that the Administration was doing the best it could to solve the situation, avoiding the interesting question.

No follow-up.

Kroft asked about the growing doubts concerning the mettle and ability of Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner to do his job as well as the growing number of people who want him to leave his position. Obama stated firmly, as he has done before, his unambiguous support.

No follow-up.

Kroft asked Obama about his attack on former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism that the Obama Administration had left America less safe through its anti-terrorism weaknesses and incompetencies. After the President talked about how Cheney and President Bush has made the country more vulnerable through its insensitivity toward the Muslim world, Kroft had his first apparently good follow-up: What about the terrorists who had been released who had gone back to supporting terrorism? Obama avoided the question and rhetorically asked how many terrorists the Bush Administration had brought to justice.

Did Kroft say, none, but they were prevented from engaging in terrorism, were they not? No. There was no follow-up.

Then came part Two…don’t ask…Kroft channeled Walters and asked what was “the most frustrating part of the job.” He (Kroft) was fascinated by what the President called the Rolls Royce of swing sets. And there were more touchy-feely questions about the Presidential family, about whom the viewer was as convinced of their essential decency and cuteness. An attentive viewer was also convinced about the irrelevance of such time-consumptive matters at a moment of overwhelming domestic and foreign crises.

How about a question on contradictory presidential rhetoric: Obama said on the “Tonight Show” that one of the problems in Washington is that “everybody’s always looking for someone else to blame.” How does that square with the President’s repeated claim that the country’s economic problems were “inherited” by his administration?

Steve Kroft is a different interviewer from the Barbara Walters-types. He has the ability to interview well, and he has done so on many prior occasions. Is Kroft so mystified by the likeable and personable president that he cannot ask him a tough follow-up question?

One would hope not. Steve Kroft, we hardly knew you in this interview.


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

More below the fold.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sometimes Its Ok to Hate

Following up on the comments from Dr. Vatz's peice below...
Another great moment in Duke Hating history was Maryland's 2004 ACC Tourament Championship run when the sixth seeded Terps beat the #1 seeded Blue Devils 95-87 to cap off miracle weekend. I don't mean to come off as incredibly mean here, but I did take a little bit of schadenfreude at seeing the accompanying photo during ESPN's coverage of the championship game.

More below the fold.

Non-homophobic, Righteous Duke Hatred and University of North Carolina Reverence: The New Republic’s Libel of UNC Fans

--Richard E. Vatz

For a long time I have had a love/hate relationship with the liberal, centrist opinion journal, The New Republic (TNR). Some of the best writing on domestic issues and foreign policy, especially on the former for the non-Kucinichian left and on the latter for those in the non-isolationist left, has been found on their pages. On the negative side there have been plagiarism and accuracy problems of a very serious nature in the scandals of such curs as Ruth Shalit and Stephen Glass.

Reasonable historical ambivalence toward TNR notwithstanding, the magazine has now published electronically (March 19, 2009) and soon, I presume, in print, the most fatuous, illogically argued article in TNR history: “Devilish: Duke hatred and homophobia,” by Seyward Darby, a “reporter-researcher” for TNR.

To just telescope the context, University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University have a long history of mutual detestation, particularly in basketball. To typify Duke’s Blue Devils is to read Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s (Coach “K") mouthing of profanities during games and to see his nonchalance when one of his fine young men is bloodying Tyler Hansbrough, the great center for UNC. To typify University of North Carolina’s Tar Heels, let me cite Coach Roy Williams’ articulated outrage at fans’ abusiveness toward UNC opponents and quote a line from Will Blythe, whose book, TO HATE LIKE THIS IS TO BE HAPPY FOREVER: A THOROUGHLY OBSESSIVE, INTERMITTENTLY UPLIFTING, AND OCCASIONALLY UNBIASED ACCOUNT OF THE DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA BASKETBALL RIVALRY, is literature, one of the most brilliant, perspicacious sociological analyses of sport rivalry in history: “I spotted the funniest sign of the evening, and it was being held not by a Crazy but by a trio of fellow Carolina fans. It featured arrows pointing away from the sign toward the surrounding Duke fans, and it proclaimed simply: ‘Posers.’ ”

The Darby article alleges that Duke haters, united in their making Duke “the most despised team in college basketball [said depiction of Duke being the one grain of accuracy in the essay],” have been exhibiting homophobia in their attacks on Duke in Wikipedia and other internet sites.

In the rest of the argument Darby makes a number of unsupported allegations, including that in some sense “loathing the Blue Devils” is “fundamentally liberal,” from which illogic she utilizes the label, “left leaning Duke haters.”* She advances the unsupported and unsupportable claim that because of selected coarse and profane homophobic abuse and smears on web sites, including Wikipedia and YouTube, by a relatively tiny number of despicable anti-Duke fans, that blessed UNC lovers who hate Duke should infer that those classless idiots represent "a nasty strain of bigotry emanating from their [Duke-hating] ranks."

For such a highly esteemed journal to libel noble non-homophobic Duke-haters in an article wholly based on the fallacy of the unrepresentative example is a journalistic embarrassment.


*Full disclosure: I am a conservative who hates Duke, and one of my favorite children is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC. Darby is an admitted Duke fan, which is no excuse for anti-Carolina Blue yellow journalism.

Richard E. Vatz teaches the upper-level course Media Criticism at Towson University

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Surprises

It was bound to come to this. It always does. Instead of responsibly cutting spending in order to protect what spending is necessary, the State of Maryland is going back to the well:

Getting to work on a big budget gap, House subcommittees voted to cut $102 million in local highway money on Thursday, but they kept an in-state tuition freeze intact for the fourth consecutive year and spared $13.4 million for stem cell research.

The revision to the state's highway user revenue cost share is one of the biggest cuts made by four appropriation subcommittees in the House of Delegates.

The cuts recommended by the subcommittees go beyond the $516 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2010 budget, with an eye toward leaving a buffer in case the economy worsens.
The fact of the matter is that whenever Maryland's Democrats need to put something on the chopping block, it always winds up that aid for transportation is the first thing to go. No, we can't cut unnecessary services. No, we can't cut the size of government. No, we have to go after one of the few things that all Marylanders are directly impact by, the transportation infrastructure.

Remember when President Bush was blamed for our nation's crumbling infrastructure? Yeah, me neither.

Now this is a relatively insignificant (if you can call it as such) amount of money given the fact that the Democrats have backed us into a $1.5 billion hole. But why oh why do Democrats always attack our infrastructure first?


More below the fold.

David Frum in Action

More below the fold.

MYR Campaign Update

Sorry that I have been off the grid on the blogs recently, a lot of things going on with my campaign for Chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans.

Fortunately, I have received unanimous endorsements from both the Maryland Teenage Republicans and my home club, the Anne Arundel Young Republicans. I have also received extensive support from active Republicans across Maryland.

It feels good to have this kind of support and to see the confidence people have in me. It's humbling!


More below the fold.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Salisbury Mayor & Bloggers: The Bloggers Respond

Bloggasm has a quick story where Simon Owens interviews a couple of the bloggers, including Kenneth Burns.

My thoughts on the matter are here.

I am not surprised at the differing viewpoints. But let's face it, if a town or city wants to control its image, it needs to be talking to bloggers, not blaming them for every little slight out there.

Even after reading the comments by Joe Albero, I still stand by the notion that painting all bloggers as bad for local politics is too simplistic. I don't know the details of Albero's particular beef with Mayor Tilghman, and I don't really need to. The last time I checked (and it may have changed), there is still a freedom of the press and a freedom of speech in this country (including Salisbury). While Albero's beef may have started out as personal, the fact that he still blogs about Salisbury politics means that Albero cares about his town--and isn't that worthwhile?

More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TXT ban is snf

I never thought I would be saying this about a safety bill, but the bill that is making it's way to the House of Delegates, banning people from text messaging while driving, is one of the dumbest bills that I have seen and should be defeated.

While text messaging is a definite danger while driving, I would have liked this bill to address talking while holding a cell phone as well. As I observed going into work this afternoon, a gentleman in Kenilworth Avenue was going well below the posted speed limit in DC because he was holding a cell phone. What he was doing was very much illegal in DC.

I find it amazing that for two years, legislators balked at the idea of banning hand held cell phones while driving, with one legislator proposing to ban GPS systems as well. However, they are more than willing to ban text messaging while driving. That is ridiculous, especially if you own a smartphone, like I do, where the numbers are apart of the keyboard.

Overall, I do not know if people can distinguish between texting and dialing a number. I think before the House gets ahead of itself, I think they should look at the other danger on the road, hand held cell phone conversations.

More below the fold.

Salisbury Mayor Makes a Strawman of Bloggers

From Inside Charm City:Mayor: bloggers a great danger to city. The City in question is Salisbury, and the outgoing Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman said:

Tilghman said in her address Thursday that over the last five years, the presence of a small group of suspicious, mean-spirited people focused on the negative has grown, endangering the city’s vitality.

Tilghman says some people are avoiding serving their city because it’s not worth chancing the scorn of bloggers.
A couple of things here.

First, I will conceed that a number of bloggers particularly in smaller towns and localities not only have an agenda, but often make matters personal rather than professional. That will, of course, taint their coverage and commentary on local political matters.

Second, local politics, particularly in smaller cities and towns, is a great deal more personal than state level or national level politics. Part of the reason is that you not only have to deal with politicians on a political level, but often on a personal level as well. The makes the political interaction a dynamic that is hard to separate from the personal dynamic. Such a system leads to bitterness and grudges.

Third, if a few bloggers are causing a person from not running for office, then clearly they have too thin a skin to be in office.

Fourth, I tire of the strawman of "bitter bloggers" or "mean-spirited bloggers" without any details. If you don't like a newspaper editorial, you may call out that editorial staff at say the Baltimore Sun, there is a distinct identity to the group of people who write the Sun's Editorials. If you have a problem with a particular story, many of the Sun's articles are signed, so you have named a person. If you do the same with the Annapolis Capital, may have a smaller group of people to point to, but they are identifiable. If you point to a small town newspaper, you have a distinct group of identified people. These are identifiable and identified when a politician expresses exasperation with a particular newspaper.

But the nature of blogging is a) it can be anonymous and b) it can easily utilized as a strawman for all that a politican perceives as bad about the internet. Because of the anonymity, politicians think it is useful just to slap the broad brush around. But if the politician has a problem with a blogger they perceive to be mean spirited, why not at least name the blog, even if the blogger themselves is anonymous. If that blog is mean spirited in your eyes, then naming it as such is surely not going to suddenly raise the ire of the blogger--they already don't like you the politician. So what is the risk.

The reason, of course, is that by simply saying bloggers, a politician does not have to confront the fact that what the blogger may have said or opined upon was accurate or not. If accurate, how does the politician defend it. If it is not accurate, why not correct the record?

Can bloggers be mean spirited? Of course, but that doesn't necessarily make them wrong--just mean. Can bloggers be wrong? Yes, probably pretty often. But here is the thing, I don't see where any blogger has so much influence in a small town the people just simply don't want to serve.

More below the fold.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stupid Progressive Blogger Tricks

Judd Legum needs to buy a clue. Then again, maybe he’s run out of all that Soros money.
In yet another attempt to zing Michael Steele, Legum pulls out all the old stupid environmentalist tricks:

It’s worth noting that, among the scientific community, the fact that the earth
is warming is not the subject of any debate. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, a group of hundreds of distinguished scientists, concluded in
2007 that “
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.” The panel concluded that it was “very likely” that most of the warming since the mid-20th century was due to
human activity.

Umm no! Its actually the subject of much debate, one that his side is losing, but won’t admit. Instead, much like the other Soros funded thugs of the big green machine, he resorts to juvenile tricks. An inconvenient fact that Legum cannot account for is that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1997, and according to all the major temperature recording stations the earth has actually cooled.

Legum’s loose grasp of the facts aside, his link to the IPCC Summary Report for Policy Makers (SPM) is a clever little conceit. However its an old one easily dismissed. The SPM is decidedly not a scientific report that would be the Assessment Report, in this case the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4). The SPM disagrees with the underlying AR4 report, and in many cases the SPM excludes contradictory evidence from the AR4 report. But Legum either doesn’t know this or doesn’t want you to know it.

The SPM is at its heart a political document Legum conflates a political consensus for a scientific consensus where none exists. In fact, only 52 scientists contributed to the report Legum cites. Furthermore, the IPCC review process is a grand illusion. Only 4 our of 23 independent scientific reviewers explicitly endorsed the chapter that hypothesizes man as the crucial driver of climate change, and only 62 of 308 reviewers even reviewed the relevant chapter.

Legum also presumes to tell us that the website designer, administrative assistants, network administrator, and sundry graduate students are “distinguished scientists.”

As far as Legum’s aping the rising sea level canard, none other than Richard Alley, author of the AR4 chapter on sea level rise told Congress “we don’t have a good assessed scientific foundation right now.”

Quite simply Legum is dealing in green myths to take shots at Michael Steele. Now Steele does have his problems—some of his own making—but his pronouncement on global warming isn’t one of them.

More below the fold.

Elected Official Resents "Malicious" Blogs

Matt Drudge is linking to a Maryland Daily Record article about the outgoing Mayor of Salisbury deriding the "malicious" blogs which keep good people from serving.

I have always thought that the City of Salisbury got a ridiculous amount of coverage in this area's blogosphere given its size (there are far more blogs covering every aspect of Salisbury politics than Baltimore!).

Many of my colleagues here can discuss the actual issues involved and the tenor of the city's coverage online.

But are blogs really having such an impact that they are "endangering the city's vitality"?

Consider this an open thread.

More below the fold.

WFSI Update

My interview on global warming and energy is set to air in five minute segments on "Community Involvement", a program heard on WFSI (at 107.9FM) at 4am, 12:04pm, and 5:04pm.

The segments are scheduled to run on Tuesday 3-17, Wednesday 3-18, Thursday 3-19, Friday 3-20, and Monday 3-23-2009.

The mp3 of the full interview is available here.

Much thanks to WFSI/WBGR/WBMD Producer Duane Keenan for the opportunity.

More below the fold.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Red Maryland and the Ehrlichs

I'll be on with the Ehrlichs tomorrow morning for a quick segment (10:00-10:15) on WBAL AM 1090 talking politics.

More below the fold.

Another Tuition Freeze

So Obama is gracing our country with a big fat stimulus package, also known as the Porkulus. The intent of this stimulus package is to jump-start the economy and get people back to work. As you can probably deduce, most of the people losing their jobs are being laid off from the private sector (for those of you in government, this means companies whose intent is to make money).

What better way to stimulate the economy than to dump hundreds of billions of dollars into Federal and State pork projects? Even better - let's give a bunch of the money to the states so that they can determine how best to spend the money (within some guidelines, of course). I'm not against empowering states to use money as they see fit. People in Mississippi have needs that are different than those living in Alaska, right?

Our humble governor Martin O'Malley estimated that Maryland would get $3.9 Billion from the Obamassiah and the compassionate band of lunatics in Congress. Unfortunately, when O'Malley got the message that said, "use this money to stimulate the economy and create jobs" he misread it to say, "use this money to fund personal initiatives that will help you get reelected."

His first big initiative with all this cash will be to freeze tuition. Again. How, you ask, will artificially freezing tuition create jobs and stimulate the economy? Well, it's easy. First…..it's like…..but……uhhh.....wait. I have no flippin' idea. Perhaps if you work in a room full of magical stardust like O'Malley, your wildest dreams can come true, too. He can't be doing this for personal gain, could he? Hmmm...

Oh, but remember, he's doing this to invest in our future. We're all in this together. He had to make a lot of tough decisions (thank goodness he's there for that). This is for the children. All of the hardships that we are experiencing are Bob Ehrlich's fault. With this tuition freeze, the state can start to move forward again. If moving forward brings us closer to the edge of the cliff, so be it. If he does nothing, we risk an economic rebound that cannot be attributed to government intervention, and we can't have that!

More below the fold.

Red Maryland Back on the Radio

Following on the heels of the Brian “Don Corleone” Griffiths, I will be on WFSI, 107.9 FM (Community Involvement), WBGR 860 AM, and WBMD 750 AM (Perspectives) in the upcoming weeks discussing the Heartland Institute’s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change and Maryland’s own disastrous climate change policies, in particular the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. Once I have the air dates I will post them, along with the mp3 files.

Here are some highlights of the conference’s keynote speeches from Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, and MIT Professor Richard Lindzen:

More below the fold.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


(from podcast.kennyburns.com)

As many of you know, I have had an affiliation with Radio America for the past two years as a producer. Radio America is a conservative news/talk network which distributes Doug Stephan, G. Gordon Liddy and Roger Hedgecock among others.

The American Studies Center, the parent ogranization of Radio America, has launched a new effort to fight the fairness doctrine. UnFairAir.org is getting the message out about what the powerful leaders in the logic free zone are planning.

Remember my argument against a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that attempted to silence the voice of those who are against abortion. This is the same thing on a grander scale. The White House, democrats in congress and some on the Federal Communications Commission are trying to silence those who do not agree with their ideas, policies and/or beliefs (despite the fact that it's an assault on the first amendment.)

Visit UnFairAir.org to find out more information about the fairness doctrine and why you should speak out AGAINST it.

More below the fold.

Stay Our Of Our Way, We're Busy Self Destructing

Just when I come out of my funk and start getting excited about 2010 and maybe 2012, the national GOP holds a secret meeting and comes up with an airtight plan to screw things up.

I'm not a fan of Michael Steele as the GOP Chair. I'm not a come-lately non-fan, I announced my doubts when he was running for office. And to be truthful, what has happened since he assumed office has made me even more certain that he is the wrong man at the wrong time. From his disastrous piling on during the Rush Limbaugh kerfluffle, to him seeming to agree on CNN's now-cancelled Hughley program that Republicans looked like Nazis, to his failure to retain the one guy at the RNC who understands technology and grassroots activism, to the blatant sweetheart proposal issued for the RNC website, to his juvenile "how you like me now?" gibe to a conservative bloggers gathering at CPAC, to his inability to select a chief of staff or political director for the RNC (the RNC is at least colorably a political party, isn't it) Michael Steele has demonstrated that he simply is not the man for the job when measured by political savvy, fund raising ability, or organizational skill.

Be that as it may, as my old man told me time and again, "ya dance with them what brung ya." Michael Steele is our Chairman and we have to work to un-**** the mess he seems to make daily.

But disarray isn't good enough for some. Disrepute and self-immolation seems to be the goal of someone. Political Wire reports that Steele will most likely face a no confidence vote after the March 31st special election to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's seat in NY-20. Unofficial word, and I have nothing more substantial than that, is that failed nominee Katon Dawson is a mover in this boneheaded scheme.

For those who don't know, Dawson's campaign foundered when it scored an own goal. Dawson allegedly at some point in his life belonged to a whites only club that wasn't the US Senate and was unable to effectively address the allegation. The whole thing seemed tenuous to me and I figure if a former Klan recruiter can be president pro tem of the Senate then let bygones be bygones.

We are already suffering from allegations of tokenism in our election of Michael Steele. Very unfairly, I might add, as the first choice of a lot -- but not enough -- of us was Ken Blackwell. The last thing we need right now is a palace coup pulled off by someone with Katon Dawson's baggage.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who is ALG, and is Kratovil really independent of Obama?

Some group with a nice name, but that I never heard of, praises Congressman Kratovil for voting against the bankruptcy bill HR 1106. Is this really another example of his "independence" or was he given permission (again) to just appear independent of the Obamassiah? Does anybody know about this group, Americans for Limited Government? At least they called on him to "go a step further and persuade his colleagues to do likewise and stop the bailouts once and for all”.

Read more from the release at the Cross-post...

More below the fold.

New Issac Bans Anonymous Comments

In a classic case of because a liberal does it, it's OK...

Adam I.S. Pagnucco and David Lublin are banning anonymous comments on their blog. Their list of reasons are very much similar to the ones that we used here to ban anonymous comments months earlier.

As Mark Newgent pointed out, Pagnucco has a truthiness problem.

Now the part of our show where we wait for Adam to write something about this post (and/or about me.)

At least we allow anonymous comments, we just keep the idiots out.

More below the fold.

House Judiciary to Hear Ammo Registration Bill

House Bill 1446, a bill requested by the Maryland State Police to require the registration of ammunition at purchase has passed out of the House Rules & Executive Nominations Committee and re-referred to the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on March 19 at 1:00 pm.

This bill would require that any person engaged in the business of selling ammunition maintain extensive records on all, including the date of sale, purchaser’s full name, address, date of birth, description of the form of ID used as well as the type and quantity of ammunition purchased. The bill also forces a business that sells ammunition to allow the inspection of the sales record by a law enforcement officer upon request. HB 1446 is tantamount to firearm registration, will do nothing to stop crime and only increase the size and bureaucratic scope of the Maryland State Police. If they succeed, they will no doubt be back wanting a background check or license to purchase ammunition as well. This bill must be defeated. If you think ammunition is hard to find now, just wait and see how hard it is to get if this bill passes.

Congress has tried ammunition registration in the past, only to discover that it was not only ineffective for law enforcement, but also completely unmanageable due to the sheer volume of transactions. Ammunition registration creates huge record keeping requirements and provides no useful benefits for law enforcement; which is why it was repealed under the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.


More below the fold.

Proposed Bill Attacks Hunting in Maryland

On Wednesday, March 18 at 1:00 pm, the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1309.

HB 1309 would arbitrarily expand the hunting “safety zone” from 150 yards to 300 yards from any occupied building. HB 1309 is sponsored by Delegate Barbara Frush (D-21) and Delegate James Hubbard (D-23A), two anti-hunting legislators whose goal is to end all hunting in Maryland . This legislation is the first test on a full slate of anti-hunting bills in Maryland and we must make our voices heard on this bill if we are going to defeat this anti-hunting measure and protect the future of hunting in Maryland.


More below the fold.

The Great Global Warming Funding Scheme

As you know I’ve been in New York attending Heartland International Conference on Climate Change, a gathering of over 800 skeptics of anthropogenic global warming. The New York Times resident alarmist propagandist Andrew Revkin weighed in with a risible hit piece chock full of the usual tropes. On cue, he trotted out the old canard that skeptics are pawns of boogeyman Exxon-Mobil:

But large corporations like Exxon Mobil, which in the past financed the Heartland Institute and other groups that challenged the climate consensus, have reduced support. Many such companies no longer dispute that the greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels pose risks.

From 1998 to 2006, Exxon Mobil, for example, contributed more than $600,000 to Heartland, according to annual reports of charitable contributions from the company and company foundations.

Of course, funding only matter when it comes to whose oxe is being Gored—pun fully intended.

In fact, global warming alarmists are funded to the tune of $50 billion (in taxpayer money) versus $19 million for skeptics. Forget for a moment the money we are spending to provide non-solutions to a non-existent crisis, corporate profiteers like General Electric and the legions of lobbyists lining up to snare their fair share of rent seeking loot.

However, since Revkin specifically harps on the funding of conferences, shouldn’t we expect him to report on all the alternative energy companies—who stand to reap large profits—sponsoring the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop 15) conference in Copenhagen? Don’t hold your breath.

The funding game and self dealing also seeps down to the state here in Maryland. Take for example Donald Boesch, head of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), and co-chair of the Scientific and Technical Working Group of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change. UMCES has received over $65 million of that aforementioned $50 billion. Boesch is an ardent but disingenuous cheerleader for the state to implement emission reduction schemes such as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act now before the General Assembly (it passed the Senate). Any state action on reducing emissions will benefit UMCES as Boesch has positioned it as the top academic institution to study climate change. No crisis, no funding!

Boesch is a board member of the Town Creek Foundation, a generous funder to global warming advocacy groups like Environment Maryland :$150,000; The Chesapeake Climate Action Network $250,000 over the last two years see here here, here, here, and here; The Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) $100,000 to “support for work to facilitate the production of policy recommendations by the Maryland Climate Change Commission (of which he is a member). CCS controlled the proceedings of the commission and wrote the recommendations of Climate Action Plan, on which the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act is based.

Furthermore, and more disturbing, is the appearance of self dealing involving Boesch's employer and The Town Creek Foundation. Since 2006 Town Creek, whose board members approve grant funding, has given $143,000 to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, $8,000 in 2006, $70,000 in 2007, and $65,000 in 2008.

The next time an alarmist screams Exxon-Mobil, ask them where they are getting their money!

More below the fold.

President Barack Obama’s Disingenuous Expropriation of “Responsibility”

--Richard E. Vatz

Expropriation of a political opponent’s issues and primary values is both a time-honored and time-dishonored practice. It is a method of weakening one’s opponents’ constituency by taking away their causes célèbres and claiming them as one’s own. Thus, in Maryland, we have seen serial attempts and some putative successes at such expropriation by Mayor and then Governor Martin O’Malley regarding such issues as electric rate increases and slots, issues that correctly attributed would benefit Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich and Republicans. In cases such as these and others, expropriating politicians fool the public into thinking that the issue or value in question has been historically sponsored by them, when in reality it was his or her opponent or opponent’s party that was the leader on the position favored by the public.

The most egregious example of that currently is President Barack Obama’s implicitly claiming to be the president personifying “responsibility.” The Washington Post’s White House Correspondent Michael D. Shear ["Obama on Responsibility," The WASHINGTON POST, March 8, 2009] wrote that “Six weeks into his presidency, the word that seems to matter most to Obama is 'responsibility.' The president has rarely offered a speech, introduced a new top adviser, or explained a policy proposal without invoking the words 'responsible' or 'responsibility.'” Shear quotes columnist Peter Ferrara as claiming that President Obama uses the words "responsible" and “responsibility” to “distract us from his ideology.” That is precisely correct, but it is only part of the story.

“Responsibility” is a conservative god-term, and in honest usage it must reflect the actual, verifiable meeting of obligations. Over and over again, the value of responsibility comes up in conservative writings and conversations criticizing: the welfare state, the criminal justice system (anti-insanity plea, opposition to judicial sentence reductions, “coddling” of criminals), the behavior of politicians, nation-states and more, much more. Responsibility is some ways the “raison d’être of conservatism. ["Each player must accept the cards that life deals him or her. But once in hand one must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game."- Voltaire; look at writings supporting personal responsibility by Richard Weaver, William F. Buckley, passim]

In my own publications in my field of rhetorical theory I have emphasized the importance of responsibility in critiquing politicians’ rhetoric (see “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation” http://web.missouri.edu/~ricejr/Fall08/vatz.pdf and “The Mythical Status of Situational Rhetoric: Implications for Rhetorical Critics’ Relevance in the Public Arena,” [THE REVIEW OF COMMUNICATION, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 2009, pp. 1-5]

President Obama uses “responsibility” often with no referent. This is a sign of associating with an expropriated god-term but not sincerely believing its implications. In the President’s case it is ironically supporting “responsibility” while abjuring responsibility for its support. When a president tries to shield upwards of 50% of the population from paying income taxes by requiring others to pay a near-confiscatory rate, and then he tries to get Americans who have acquired responsible mortgage obligations to subsidize those with irresponsibly-obtained mortgage obligations, the false mantra and prolific labeling of “responsibility” become a ploy of cynical rhetorical disinformation.

Is President Obama intentionally deceiving the American People? I don’t know. He consistently refers to the economic situation as one he “inherited.” So far, he takes no responsibility for the economic upheaval that has taken place pursuant to his assuming the presidency. To consistently reiterate and emphasize publicly, say in his inaugural and elsewhere, that a problem is the fault of his predecessor – and one predecessor at that – is to avoid, not assume, responsibility.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University

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