Sunday, May 31, 2009

On State YR Issues

Yes, the race for State YR Chairman is still going on. Here's a little more about what my priorities will be as Chairman:



(Crossposted)


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Friday, May 29, 2009

The Charge: Judge Sonia Sotomayor Made a Racist Comment in a 2001 Speech; One Conservative Blogger’s Verdict: Not Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

-- Richard E. Vatz

As one often involved in discussion of politics and public policy, I have some familiarity with the claim that a quote is taken out of context.

Sometimes a quote is strategically taken so dishonestly out of context that it bears no genuine relationship to the criticism of it. If I say in a speech that "Towson University has the most impressive population of administrators, faculty, students and staff I have ever seen" (true, by the way), but that "there are 4 or 5 terribly incompetent staff members," it is quoting me out of context and inaccurately to say that “Vatz says there are many 'terribly incompetent staff members' at Towson University.”

The charge has been made that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court nominee, made a racist comment in a racist speech at the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal’s Twelfth Annual Symposium on October 26, 2001.

The American Heritage Dictionary is one of the best places to go if one wants a non-majoritarian definition of a term. That dictionary defines "racist" as "[T]he belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others...Discrimination or prejudice based on race." Both concepts are relevant here, particularly the second definition which leads to the question, does she support in judicial decisions "discrimination or prejudice based on race."

What I would find in Judge Sotomayor’s speech is a lack of care of language. She says, for example, that “I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage, but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.” Although the use of “prejudices” may be used because it supposedly answers the claim by Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum “that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law,” it does not appear that Judge Sotomayor believes that generally utilizing “prejudices” based on race is specifically reconcilable with “integrity.”

More telling, when she made her now-infamous 32-word (possible) gaffe, saying “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life,” it was to support correctives to situations not experienced by men, such as when “…three women on the Minnesota Court with two men dissenting agreed to grant a protective order against a father's visitation rights when the father abused his child” and when “wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.”

In addition Judge Sotomayor qualified her general remark with the following caveat: “I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

Thus, one cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Judge Sotomayor believes "that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others."

Let me be precise regarding my own reaction to Judge Sotomayor’s speech: I think she is loose with her language and sometimes contradictory in her thought. I think she should have stayed with her observation that judges from an earlier era – not judges of a different race – misunderstood some of the relevant issues in judicial decisions.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is too liberal for my taste, but a liberal president won the election. I do not, however, for whatever it’s worth, believe that the case is reasonably made that she is racist or that her views are sufficiently outside the American mainstream, per this speech, to disqualify her for the Supreme Court.

Some Democratic partisans irresponsibly throw around the accusatory "racist" epithet prolifically; one should expect more of conservatives.


Professor Vatz teaches an advanced course in Persuasion at Towson University.


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Worth A Grain of Salt

When it comes to energy, Martin O’Malley is the guy who can’t shoot straight. We all know the epic fail that was his campaign promise to roll back the BGE rate increases. Toss in his other moves, which have increased energy costs—EmPower and the GHG Reduction Act—and you wonder why the guy still bothers with this issue.

Now the Baltimore Sun is reporting with the lead headline “Governor seeks relief for strapped BGE customers,” that O’Malley is close to a deal with Constellation Energy that…

…could include immediate electricity price reductions for strapped consumers, longer-term discounts and commitments that the company will make investments in environmentally friendly energy projects.

First, if you are a strapped BGE customer knowing O’Malley’s track record, be worried, very worried. Second, Constellation through its support for Waxman-Markey is already poised to gorge on the public subsidies for “environmentally friendly energy projects.” Projects, without said subsidies, are too expensive and uncompetitive in the normal marketplace. Why would the Sun paint that as possible concession O’Malley wrangled from Constellation?

Not included in this Sun article—and the Sun’s coverage in general—is the fact that O’Malley’s GHG Reduction Act specifically targets the state’s energy sector, meaning it will increase our energy costs.

So take for a grain of salt any news about the governor working to lower electricity rates. The trend will hold, and once again we’re going to pay the price for O’Malley cosmetic attempts to look good on energy issues.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Brian Griffiths Minute: 05-27-2009



(Crossposted)


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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Five in 33

Surprisingly (at least to me) only five candidates applied to fill the State Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Janet Greenip in District 33. The candidates are:

  • Tom Angelis: Baltimore City High School Teacher and Republican Candidate for County Executive in 2002 and 2006
  • Dave Boschert: Former Delegate, Former County Councilman, Republican Candidate for County Executive in 2006 and Currently the Executive Director of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.
  • Art Ebersberger: Insurance Broker, Member of the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission, Anne Arundel Medical Center Trustee and founder of Leadership Anne Arundel.
  • James King: Current Delegate from District 33 A and owner of the Rockfish & Kaufmann's Tavern.
  • Big Ed Reilly: Current County Councilman from District 7 and Insurance Agent
I'm somewhat surprised that County Councilwoman Cathy Vitale took a pass.

A special meeting/public hearing of the Anne Arundel Central Committee will be held on Tuesday, June 2 at 6 pm in room 180 of the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis. The committee intends to conclucde the process on the 2nd but if necessary, the conclusion of the procedure and recording the vote will occur at the regularly scheduled Central Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 3 meeting at 7 pm at 15 West Street in Annapolis.

The Committee is allowing for public comment until June 1 by US mail to the RSCCAAC, ATTN: Chairman Rzepkowski, PO Box 127, Riva, MD 21140 or by e-mail to arzepkowski@aagop.org.

It will be interesting to see who winds up with the seat. Conventional wisdom says it's between King and Reilly, but I have heard rumblings that Boschert may have support on the Committee as well.

Since none of the five candidates come from the small government/low tax wing of the partyI would expect that there will be a challenger from the right in the 2010 Primary regardless of who gets selected.....

(Crossposted)


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Boondoggle in Prince George's

Note: Almost all Maryland Republicans joined Prince George's County Democrats in the action mentioned below--there were only two Republican nays. I can't help wondering why our Republicans joined the Democrats to micro-manage a Prince George's County school decision, but did not interfere with a similar decision made in Frederick.

Boondoggle in Prince George's; The cost of abandoning a school offices plan.
Post, 25 May 2009 (Editorial).

COMING UP WITH enough money to properly fund education has long been a struggle in Prince George's County, where a tax cap limits revenue. So it's all the more maddening that $11 million was frittered away on a planned school headquarters. This colossal waste of public money should cause school officials and state lawmakers -- all of whom are to blame -- to undertake some serious soul searching.

The Board of Education voted last week to back out of a $36 million lease-purchase agreement for the Washington Plaza office complex in Upper Marlboro. Reneging on the deal will incur a penalty of $4.8 million, bringing the system's total cost in rent and other expenses to $11 million with, as one board member observed, "nothing to show" for it.

The board had no choice: The Maryland General Assembly, prodded by local senators and delegates, passed legislation that would have withheld millions of dollars in state education aid if the board proceeded with the project. Lawmakers argued that the money couldn't be justified because of the hard economic times that were causing layoffs of county workers and other cutbacks.

Perhaps they have a point about the wisdom of undertaking the project at this time, but it's hard to see what they accomplished by their second-guessing. Considering that $11 million is a little less than one-third of the estimated total cost, wouldn't it have been smarter to proceed with the project? No one disputes that the current administrative offices are in poor condition or that there are merit and cost savings in consolidating facilities spread across the county. Will officials look back in 10 years and wish they had acted differently? It's interesting to note that plans by Frederick school officials for a similar project to house administrative offices did not cause the legislature to intervene.

No doubt, though, that's due in part to the way Frederick officials built public support for their project. The Prince George's board, in contrast, ignored advice from then-superintendent John E. Deasy for further study, thumbed its nose at objections from county officials and made no effort to engage the public in its decision. That there was no support for this decision is the board's fault. Too bad county schoolchildren have to pay the price.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Howard Kurtz and Reliable Sources (Part Two)

--Richard E. Vatz

I continue to be fascinated by WASHINGTON POST scribe Howard Kurtz and his CNN show, “Reliable Sources” (RS).

The show is about media criticism, and I have taught a course entitled “Media Criticism” for over 15 years at Towson University.

The show deals with ideological bias and evaluation of print and electronic media excellence, including blogs as a prominent medium as well, but other media are not emphasized nearly as much, including books, films and podcasts. I gave Kurtz a “Vatzian Media Excellence Award” a couple of years ago on WBAL Radio.

I like the show so much that it is a frequent object of analysis in my course. The show is an hour long and includes 6-8 segments, more or less. Much of RS shows deals with ideological bias.

As one might imagine, the segment have a range of value, but when there are strong liberal and conservative points of view well-represented, the show crackles. Some excellent conservative media spokespeople on RS have included Amy Holmes, Amanda Carpenter, Michael Medved, Tucker Carlson and Bill Bennett.

Now, in regard to bi-partisan representation, as I have indicated in this blog previously, RS and Kurtz often have both liberal and conservative points of view well-represented, but not always. In addition when there are 3 guests, as there are often, the divide is usually 2-1 liberal, and I simply do not recall seeing a 3-0 conservative advantage.

As just one example of imbalance, I have written about an RS show on media coverage of Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, whose nomination, parenthetically, I vigorously opposed on these pages and on electronic media from the start. RS sported the predictably liberal Anne Kornblut (THE WASHINGTON POST), Julie Mason (THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE) and Frank Sesno (CNN). None of them had the professional discipline to seriously consider conservative complaints concerning her (Palin's) coverage by the mainstream media.

Ironically, today’s RS (May 24, 2009) had a segment on “Prime Time Partisans,” starting with the eminently debatable premise that CNN is balanced, whereas other networks are openly partisan. Let me say that a case could be made for the relative even-handedness of CNN, but on an absolute scale, CNN trends and has always trended liberal. When in news analysis segments they have a preponderance of liberal commentators and one or two conservatives, they flatter themselves that they are, again, “balanced.”

Also on the show today, historically liberal David Zurawik of his BALTIMORE SUN’s “Z on TV” blog was right down the middle but strong, clear, interesting and provocative on the danger of MSNBC and others’ empty, partisan, and overwrought political diatribes. His captivating contribution was, however, diluted by mostly bland and unfocused inanities of Lauren Ashburn, managing editor of “USA Today Live” and Matt Frie, anchor of BBC World News, especially the latter, who included a dose of psychobabble to support his muddled arguments.

What is the role and what is the political slant of the moderator? This is what makes RS unique: I simply do not know of another show involving political discussions in which I was not sure whether a principal was liberal or conservative. With Kurtz, although all liberals are sure he leans conservative and all conservatives are sure he leans liberal, I am just not sure.

Kurtz seems to me to be as fair as a proactive, opinionated moderator of a show on journalism excellence can be, although, to be honest, when he leans liberal, I feel more irritated than when he leans conservative.

What would I do to improve this show? I would weed out the occasional media-criticism-irrelevant topic (like the empty, near-worthless interview with blogger-actor Mariel Hemingway last week), and I would occasionally have a majority of conservatives as expert in a segment – are they so rare as to be unable to get two?

All told, “Reliable Sources” is a joy and is academically and politically responsible and extremely informative. Is the show perfectly down the middle? No, it has many more liberal guests, but in the land of the blind media, the one-eyed media criticism show is king.



Professor Vatz teaches an advanced course in Media Criticism


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dark Pelosi



Be sure to watch the whole thing.


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Not All Numbers Mean Something

Adam Pagnucco has spent this week trying to bury the State Republican Party due to changes in the voter registration numbers. The basic premise is that because the total number of registered Democrats in Maryland is increasing at a faster rate than the number of registered Republicans that the Republican Party is doomed.

However, the total number of registered party members in the state or in any particularly jurisdiction is relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Take a look, for example, at my home district of District 31. In that district, there are 1.6 Democratic registrants for every Republican registrant. Election results speak to any an entirely different set of circumstances. Last year, John McCain and Andy Harris both carried 58% of the vote in this district during the Presidential Election. And in 2006:

  • Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele both won about 60% of the vote in the District.
  • AG Candidate Scott Rolle and Comptroller Candidate Anne McCarthy both carried 31.
  • Bryan Simonaire became the first Republican State Senator in the District;
  • Don Dwyer, Nic Kipke, and Steve Schuh were elected as Delegates; the first GOP sweep of Distirct 31
  • County Councilman Ron Dillon was re-elected without Democratic Opposition.
The point of this exercise is to prove that while voter registration numbers are a cute way to try and say a party is or is not dying, they are in no way the be all and end all of the situation. Maryland has had an overwhelming majority of voters registered as Democrats for a long time in a number of districts. But that has not stopped a lot of those districts from elecitng Republicans to serve in the General Assembly, and it hasn't stopped these voters from supporting Republican candidates over Democrats at the statewide level. You talk to a lot of these voters in districts like the 31st, and you find out that these voters are always voting Republican, they just choose not to change their registration for whatever reason.

Bottom line: a lot of these Democrats that Pagnucco likes to use to prove that the Republican Party is dead are actually supporting Republican candidates. With the continued incompetence of Governor O'Malley and Democratic Leadership, I have a feeling that the number of D's voting R is going to increase substantially in 2010....

(Crossposted)


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“Kick Like A Girl”

Can't Wait to see this film.“Kick Like A Girl”. The preview looks good.




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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Smooth Barack Obama vs. the Rough-Around-the-Edges Dick Cheney: The False Dilemma of Principle vs. No Principle

--Richard E. Vatz

The speeches were as contrasting as 2 speeches could be.

President Barack Obama emphasized his concept of American values as not only intrinsically better than the concept of those who he claims ignore legal restrictions on torture, for example, but also instrumentally better in protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. He also made implicit evidentiary claims, such as that the Bush Administration’s interrogation values constituted an “ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable.”

There were further claims that were similarly contrary to evidence or evidence-free: “Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause...the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”

President Obama admitted at least that “There are no neat or easy answers here.”

President Obama said in variation after variation, “We will not release anyone if it would endanger our national security...”, but the substance of his speech provides no such assurance beyond the general claim.

President Obama spoke of principles of reform – he is almost obsessed with principles to the exclusion of security threats when the two are, in his opinion, in conflict.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed in his speech (following Obama's) at the conservative American Enterprise Institute that a perverse focus on strict adherence to -- and definition of -- principle compromises United States’ security, which his administration protected from successful terrorist attacks following 9/11.

Cheney argued that when an imminent danger, say of terrorism in the homeland, has passed, that people grow complacent and wonder whether such national security concern is necessary.

He argued that such complacency justified for irresponsible policy makers the lack of assiduous counter-terrorism considerations that were surely necessitated by attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and other subsequent attacks in the 1990s on the United States’ people and interests .

He argues that wars – especially wars against terrorists who may acquire WMD – cannot be fought defensively, as is the wont of leaders such as those in the current Democratic Administration.

He concludes this line of argument with a devastating observation: “So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.”

Regarding enhanced interrogation, Cheney, true to form, wants to argue evidence and consequences, certain that the value differences are minimum: he is outraged at the prospect of criminalization of policy differences during the last Administration, and for the policy judgment differences that have ensued since.

Regarding release of interrogation memos, he points to the Democratic Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta, who opposed them. He says we should look at the reluctant testimony of Panetta and Democrats who oppose bringing terrorists to U.S. Prisons. Look at, Cheney urges, the value of enhanced interrogation according to “President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence Admiral Blair...”

Whom does the president wish to spare enhanced interrogation? Let Cheney make his own point: “One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl. We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives
potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the
terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered
them at all.”

Cheney wants us to look at the evidence at what terrorist information was gleaned by enhanced interrogation. Look at the evidence, he says, of “what our country was spared.

The argument that if we find situations which justify violating inviolable principles, then the principles are not actually inviolable, misses an important point: there must be a hierarchy of principles when they come into conflict.

In the current case of fighting terrorism which may involve, in one writer’s words, "loss of major cities," the principle above avoiding torture is protection for Americans against an actual threat to the existence of the nation.

If you want attractive, likeable, highly-humanistically-principled and rhetorically moving speakers, Barack Obama is your man.

If you want those same values except in the rare occasion when they are trumped by WMD terrorist exigencies, the less-smooth but more responsible Dick Cheney, or at least his policies, should be your choice.

If the Pakistani Taliban secured some nuclear weapons and we were confident that they were about to transport them to al Qaeda, and if investigators believed that, for example, waterboarding were effective in finding out the location of the nukes-in-transit, should responsible policy-makers oppose its use?

Not if they understand that principles themselves sometimes are in irreconcilable conflict.

The rough ex-Vice President Dick Cheney appears to understand this point; but the smooth, likeable and attractive President Obama is more reassuring – for now.



Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric and communication at Towson University


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Second Opinion On The Sun

The Baltimore Sun still has some bitterness towards Michael Steele. Let's face it, it's not easy being a liberal newspaper who infamously dismissed Governor Ehrlich's running mate in 2002 as only bringing his skin color to the table and nothing more. Well, we all know what happened after that. Ehrlich won, and after two attempts in the past, the Republican's were able to get the first Black statewide office holder.

Fast forward to their blog entry today, where the headline is "Michael Steele speaks but doesn't say much."

Let's put this in perspective. Michael Steele probably didn't want to say much because he wanted to see what President Obama would do in the first 100 days. Unfortunately, Rush had his feelings hurt and Steele stupidly did what many other GOP members in the past had done...apologize to a celebrity (please spare me the "it's comedy" defense, it's tired and does not fly with me.)

Now The Baltimore Sun editors are upset because Steele didn't offer any ideas during his speech in Prince George's County. With that in mind, here is the word of the day, patience. Patience, my friends because even though November 2010 is not too far off, things can change between now and then. Patience, because the best ideas take time to plan and execute. If we rush ideas through the door...well, we see what's happening with the tarp money and the automobile industry.

By the way, memo to The Sun, your endorsement in 2002 was worthless, you still lost the lawsuit against Ehrlich and your newspaper is still overpriced.


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Mayo Shattuck, Feeding from the Trough

Constellation Energy Group, the parent company of Baltimore Gas and Electric has copied General Electric’s new raison d’etre—Subsidymagination and jumped whole hog onto the green pork bandwagon. Yesterday, chairman Mayo Shattuck announced CEG’s support for the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, which has quickly become the rent-seeker’s dream/ratepayer’s nightmare we all knew it would.

Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner explicates the scam:



Currently, Waxman’s bill gives away about half the credits, with most free credits going to the power industry. Edison Electric, the trade group representing these companies, has endorsed this bill.

It’s unsurprising the power companies should get their way. Data compiled by the
Center for Responsive Politics show that the electric utility industry’s political action committees contributed $12.3 million to candidates last election—more than the PACs of the oil and gas, commercial bank, investment, real estate, or telecom industries—and nearly as much as all defense PACs.

Last quarter, the Edison Electric Institute spent $2.6 million on lobbying, placing it 28th overall just ahead of defense giant Boeing. The group retained 17 outside lobbying firms and employed at least 11 in-house lobbyists…

So, when government gives credits to electric companies, it is simply giving money to those companies while making it more expensive for everyone else to do business. The utilities could sell the free credits unless Congress prohibits selling some credits, which would defeat half the purpose of cap-and-trade.

Waxman’s current bill, supported by power companies, will be touted as a industry-environment compromise, making some observers believe it is a moderate regulation. In truth, it is just as burdensome on the end-user—consumers and electricity users—but instead of government pocketing all of these added costs, some businesses will get a cut.

For the record Constellation is a card carrying member of the Edison Electric Institute.

The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis analyzed the new modifications to Waxman-Markey:


For the most part, the changes focused on the distribution of the allowance revenue--the equivalent of tax revenue. There was also a slight easing of targeted emissions reductions for 2020, which resulted in a marginally lower economic impact. However, the new distribution of allowances created a less efficient pattern of government expenditures and more than offset the gain from the lower cap for 2020…

Though the proposed legislation would have little impact on world temperatures, it is a massive energy tax in disguise that promises job losses, income cuts, and a sharp left turn toward big government.

Ultimately, this bill would result in government-set caps on energy use that damage the economy and hobble growth--the very growth that supports investment and innovation. Analysis of the economic impact of Waxman-Markey projects that by 2035 the bill would:

·Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $9.6 trillion;
·Destroy 1,105,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 2,479,000 jobs;
·Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation;
·Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 74 percent;
·Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent;
·Raise an average family's annual energy bill by $1,500; and
·Increase inflation-adjusted federal debt by 26 percent, or $29,150 additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation
.


To reiterate this bill, should it become law will have a climatically meaningless effect of averting one nine hundredth of a degree of warming.

I’ve said time and again, that if you thought the 2007 BGE rate increases were bad, wait until our rulers unleash cap and trade upon the land.

Shattuck’s support for Waxman-Markey appears to be one of the unfortunate and unintended consequences of Mid-America Energy Holding’s failed attempt to purchase Constellation. Mid-America, rightly understands the ramifications of the bill for its customers. Mid-American’s chairman David Sokol said “The Waxman-Markey bill is a cap and trade program that will force our customers to pay two expensive costs. First, they will pay the cost of emissions allowances purchased on a complex auction market that will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and second, they will pay the cost of replacing our existing fossil-fuel generation facilities with low-carbon alternatives. Cap and trade will have a profoundly negative impact on people who are struggling to make ends meet in an economy still in distress.”

Writing in the Washington Post, Sokol reveals the dog's breakfast awaiting Wall Street. "If you liked what credit default swaps did to our economy, you're going to love cap-and-trade. Just read Title VIII of the bill, which lets investment banks, hedge funds and other speculators participate in the cap-and-trade market. They don't have emissions to cut; they have commissions to make."

Now, Mid-American does favor some form of emission reduction scheme, which I think are futile in whatever form they take. However, I applaud their honesty in calling a spade a spade.


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Kenny Goes To Harford County

Greetings Red Marylanders, and a special hello to my "friend" who missed me so, to whom I quote George Clinton from the movie P.C.U. "funk you very much too."

The good news is the semester is over and I can return to some semblance of a life and blogging. The bad news...I will be taking math again this fall at Towson University. By the way, Dr. Vatz, I will see you there.

In any event, I wanted to come on and let you know that I will be speaking at the next meeting of the Republican Club of Harford County next Tuesday, May 26 at Ma Gerk's Pub in Bel Air. The meeting starts at 6:30p.m. In a way, this is like a return to Harford County for me since my employer has took control of WAMD Radio in Aberdeen (that's the most I will say in regards to that situation.)

I hope to see you all there in Bel Air next Tuesday.


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Establishment War Values (Thus Far) of President Barack Obama

--Richard E. Vatz

THE WASHINGTON POST on May 16, 2009 sports a cartoon from my hometown newspaper, THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, in which President Obama says, while reading from a teleprompter, “Warrantless Wiretaps are needed to fight terror…I’ve ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan …releasing the torture photos would hurt the troops….”

At the bottom right of the picture is former President George W. Bush who is saying “Sorry…I forgot my teleprompter!”

The obvious implication is that President Obama is taking pages from the rhetoric and policy of the overwhelmingly unpopular ex-president, a president whose administration: a. effectively used such wiretaps to its strategic advantage; b. conducted a successful surge policy in Iraq, a policy which was opposed by the current President and Vice-President; and c. opposed releasing photos which would, President Bush argued, put our troops in unacceptable additional jeopardy.

Just as it used to be said that “there are no atheists in foxholes,” you may say that there are no cockeyed presidential optimists superintending wars against terrorism, the outlawing of "coercive interrogations" notwithstanding.

To his credit, when President Obama runs a war, he does not find it wise to be foolishly consistent with his candidate-era criticisms of President Bush’s running of the Iraq war and Afghanistan war and, generally, the war against terrorism, even if the Obama Administration thinks it is consequential to insist on the “distinction without a difference” of calling the "Global War on Terror" the "Overseas Contingency Operation."

On a Baltimore talk show on May 14 I said that there are “people who criticize policy when they’re not making policy, and then when they make policy they understand that there are all kinds of considerations that you’ve got to make in order to effectively wield that policy.” It’s easy to be glib when you have no operational power.

The Democratic far-left, including the ACLU and moveon.org, want ideological purity, but presidents have to be – at least should have to be – concerned about the practical outcomes of their policies.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson was widely derided in the late 1960’s when he said he didn’t want to be the “first American president to lose a war.” President Obama is too smooth to use such clumsy rhetoric, but he doesn’t want to lose wars either. Let's see how long and how rigidly the ban on enhanced interrogations lasts.

There is no more apt application of this perspective of the more mature Obama presidency than Francois de La Rochefoucauld’s famous quote from his “Maximes:” Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.



Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Paul Pinsky Isn't as Clever as He Thinks He Is

State Senator Paul Pinksy response to Blair Lee's Gazzete column on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act typifies the flawed logic of climate alarmists.


It seems that efforts to address climate change and global warming have befuddled Gazette columnists … Blair Lee ("Session review: Part I," April 17) apparently chose not to allow facts to interfere with his cynical — and typical — view of Maryland politics.

The just-passed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 mandates a 25 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020With international efforts stalled because of the unwillingness of the Bush White House to commit to reductions, a select number of states have filled the void. Maryland has now joined this small group.

Columnist Lee writes off the recently passed bill by saying the bill "exempts manufacturers, which is like exempting liquor stores from underage drinking laws." A simple phone call to Maryland's Department of the Environment would have revealed that manufacturers contribute only 4 percent to all greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.

— State Sen. Paul Pinsky, University Park

Dear Senator Pinsky, Having followed Maryland politics for 50 years, it's hard to remain un-cynical. For instance, faced with growing evidence that saving the Chesapeake Bay is hopeless, government officials killed the entire study and, instead, issued a "feel good" report.

Last year, your Greenhouse Gas Bill was killed by a coalition of manufacturers and labor unions. So, this year's "compromise" was to exempt manufacturers, which I equated to exempting liquor stores from underage drinking laws. I was fully aware that manufacturers account for only 4 percent of emissions but liquor stores account for only 1 percent of underage sales (package stores, restaurants and hotels are the big offenders). A simple phone call to Montgomery County's liquor control authorities would have revealed this to you.

The Baltimore Sun dismissed your bill as "trivial if the rest of the country does not take similar action." And how about the biggest offenders, China and India, who prefer pollution to poverty? Your bill may help get you re-elected but it does little in the "War Against Carbon." The real fight is
in Congress where "cap and trade" measures will cost every American household $1,600 a year. Meanwhile, when the Rasmussen poll asked the public to identify "cap and trade," 29 percent thought it was about regulating Wall Street, 17 percent thought it was about health care and 30 percent had no idea, at all.
— Blair Lee

Blair does an excellent job rebutting Pinsky, especially highlighting the the costs of carbon reduction schemes i.e., cap and trade. However, the clever conceit behind Pinsky's snarky missive is that he disguises the dearth of benefits of his policy prescription. Pinsky measures the GHG Reduction Act's success in emissions averted, not in averted temperature increase. He can't quantify the benefit in temperature because, as he and the global warming alarmists know, their GHG reduction schemes will have absolutely no impact on on the global temperature. Indeed, the cap and trade bill before Congress, Waxman-Markey, will produce a climatically meaningless one nine hundredth of a degree change in temperature.

Of course, Pinsky's school-yard logic is to be expected when you rely--as he does--on a kangaroo court like the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, and its shoddy, predetermined report paid for and written by alarmist advocacy groups.


More below the fold.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Brian Griffiths Minute: 5-14-2009



For more info on this story, click here.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Where have I heard this before?

Let's just say some of us saw this coming....

One of Maryland's budget-balancing tactics - asking millionaires to pay more money to the state - appears to be backfiring as the number of the highest-earning taxpayers dwindles with the flagging economy....

....But as the state comptroller's office sifts through this year's returns, it is finding that the number of Marylanders with more than $1 million in taxable income who filed by the end of April has fallen by one-third, to about 2,000. Taxes collected from those returns as of last month have declined by roughly $100 million.
- The Baltimore Sun, 5/14/2009

That's because the General Assembly as a whole refuses to act like grown ups and live within their means. Instead of acting responsibly and reducing state spending last year when they had to opportunity, they chose to approval O'Malley's irresponsible tax hikes, and bless his near immoral increase in discretionary state spending. Instead of cutting spending to manageable levels, Democrats railroaded a $2 billion tax increase to cover a $500 million shortfall, and then added $1.5 billion in spending just to break even.

No reasonably intelligent person would think that's a good idea. It's an even worse idea when you considered, as conservatives have noted time and time again, that tax revenues decrease when individuals and businesses change their spending habits or leave the state entirely.
- Brian Griffiths, 9/4/2008

Still, the "substantial decline" in million-dollar earners filing on time was enough for the comptroller's office to announce that it will "be thoroughly analyzing these returns and their implications." And it was enough for opponents of the state's new surcharge to say, in essence, "I told you so."


"I don't think anyone can dispute that some people have left Maryland," said Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard). "That's what we were trying to explain when we were voting on this."
- Washington Post, 5/14/2009

It's true that the housing and retail sectors being down are going to lead to lower tax revenues. But what the writers do not take into account, naturally, is the decrease in tax revenues due to the increases in taxes. I have noted before that when tax rates are increased, revenues decrease. This is particularly true when you make it a point to pass taxes targeted at those with the means to leave.
- Brian Griffiths, 7/13/2008

"This is not an unexpected development, but it is a very unfortunate development," Schuh said. "It is deja vu all over again."

- The Captial, 5/14/2009

Of course one thing that we noted time and again was the fact that increases in taxes would lead to decrease tax revenues. While a small portion of that can be attributed to the national economy, the bulk of the difference in revenues collected vis-a-vis revenues projected has a lot to do with the impact of this profligate spending and irresponsible tax hikes.
- Brian Griffiths, 7/9/2009

So, we are going to go ahead and try to further fleece those Maryland taxpayers who are simultaneously most able to pay more taxes and able to pick up and move someplace that their tax burden won't be so high? This is what passes for fiscal responsibility in the minds of Maryland Democrats?
- Brian Griffiths, 3/27/2008
(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Don't Wince.....Act

There is a piece by Dan Balz in the Post today nothing that some Republicans are "wincing" by the statements former Vice-President Dick Cheney has made criticizing the Obama Administration. A lot of the piece goes on to talk about the ever-popular "unnamed Republicans" who believe that Cheney is a distraction to the future of the Republican Party and that his engagement on the issues surrounding the Administration are doing more harm than good.

I would be willing to take a different approach. The fact that Vice-President Cheney is one of the few Republicans who have been willing to stand up and criticize the Administration is more of a condemnation of the Republcian Party than it is anything else. While many Republicans continue to jockey for position within the minority, few prominent Republicans have been willing to stand up in an articulate manner for core conservative principles. The fact that the Vice-President is willing to stand up for this, regardless of public opinion and regardless of those people in the party who have a problem with it, is a positive for the country and for the party, not a negative.

If prominent Republicans truly have a problem with Cheney's prominence on these issues, they need to shut up and talk about issues from a conservative perspective instead of worry about what plays well in Washington. And dumb stuff like the NRSC endorsing Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race isn't going to help shed the label that D.C. Republicans are indifferent to the plight of the party and the plight of the conservative movement.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Its Not About Free Speech


Baltimore Sun Editorial writer Nancy Johnston leapt to the defense of the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s decision to allow unrepentant domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn a forum to hawk their new book Race Course: Against White Supremacy.


Ayers, who has since become an education professor at the University of Illinois and a political lightning rod during the presidential election because of his acquaintanceship with Barack Obama, has expressed regret for his actions as a founding member of the antiwar group. Of course, there are many who may never forgive him. But the fact of the matter is, this man is a distinguished education scholar, and he's elevating the discourse about race relations in this country. As such, the library is the perfect forum for this conversation. The Pratt should be applauded for the courage to host this event, ignoring the protests that have canceled other stops in this book tour. In turn, the library and its patrons deserve nothing less than a civilized, intelligent discussion.



What a bunch of vapid prattle.

Look at the photo above, does that look like a man who has expressed any regret? Furthermore, Ayers is decidedly not regretful for his days as a terrorist, and I quote Ayers himself in the New York Times, “I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."

As I detailed last year in the Washington Examiner, Ayers’ hasn’t abandoned his radicalism or revolutionary fervor, rather he has merely transferred it to the class room. As an education professor, Ayers indoctrinates our teachers to teach for social justice or as Manhattan Institute Scholar Sol Stern labels it “the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive.”

Pray tell Nancy, how is warmed over and discredited anti-Americanism “elevating the discourse about race relations?”

This is no act of courage but a capitulation to two thugs who care not one iota about the first amendment or the Constitution for that matter. Indeed it is their goal in life to tear down the republic and the rights that document guarantees.


More below the fold.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Journalistically Irresponsible Brian Williams and the NBC Sanitized News

-- Richard E. Vatz

I think I have rarely seen such a sanitized news report as Brian Williams' in the May 11, 2009 NBC Nightly News segment on The White House Correspondents Association Dinner held over the weekend.

The critical facts were these: Comedian Wanda Sykes said of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh that in view of his stated hope that President Barack Obama fail, he was guilty of “treason” and "I hope his [Limbaugh’s] kidneys fail -- how about that?" She further speculated that "maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin, he missed his flight."

The remarks were outrageous, tasteless and said in a style of aggressive hostility, not good-natured toughness, as were President Obama’s humorous remarks concerning former Vice President Dick Cheney. What was President Obama's reaction to Sykes' inappropriate ugliness? According to THE NEW YORK TIMES, “Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said he hadn’t talked specifically with Mr. Obama about the joke. But he had a ready answer at the daily press briefing on Monday: ‘I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection, rather than comedy…There’s no doubt that 9/11 is part of that.‘ ”

Conservative talk show hosts and callers were appalled, making the observation that were the remarks made by Republicans about Democrats, the latter would have been apoplectic.

Mr. Williams’ news report of the dinner was lighthearted throughout, beginning with this description: “It’s really kind of a prom for adults…feelings were hurt, umbrage was taken, excuses were issued so it must have been a successful event.”

Ms. Sykes according to Williams: she “really stirred things up with her attack on Rush Limbaugh.”

That was the entirety of his report of the Sykes controversy. He simply implied that there were no serious issues regarding the comportment of Ms. Sykes.

If I were trying to make a case for Mr. Williams, it would be this: his pseudo-journalistic piece on the Correspondents Dinner was dwarfed by his infamous and journalistically ethically irresponsible decision to air the self-serving and self-ennobling tapes in 2007 of Seung-Hui Cho, who committed the mass murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech and sent his murderous valediction to the network he correctly judged would immediately show it. Oh, I’m sorry – Williams, NBC News President Steve Capus et al. “spent hours” deciding whether to show it.

Sometimes mild-mannered, well-spoken and reputedly privately hilarious newsmen need to be scrutinized for professionalism.

The Soviet Union-era newspaper Izvestia could not have cleaned up the scandalous behavior any better.

There must be better models for Brian Williams.


Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University


More below the fold.

Judd Legum: On $ale Now

Well, if you had any preconceived notion that Judd Legum's campaign for the Maryland House of Delegates was about serving the people of District 30, you can forget about that. Looks like the truth-impaired Clintonista needs to go out of state to raise his money. Legum's ActBlue page (curiously and seemingly illegally still lacking an authority line) notes that his campaign is having his next fundraiser in Washington, DC, and it is being headlined by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.

The "host committee" contains a number of national Clintonistas, including Howard Wolfson and Patti Solis Doyle, plus former MoveOn.org Director Tom Mattize.

So, what we have here is a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates who is more interested in hobnobbing with Washington Insiders and raising the money from Washington Special Interest Groups than in the people of District 30. Obvious, Judd Legum's political compass is pretty far askew if he thinks that the people of District 30 will be well served by his raising of dirty money from Washington lobbyists (funny considering he claims to be eschewing money from Maryland lobbyists).

Let's face it: Judd Legum is a joke and an embarrassment to the Maryland Democratic Party. The number of Democrats who have privately told me that they wish he would just go away is impressive. And anybody who thinks that the people of District 30 will be well served by a candidate bought and paid for by Washington lobbyists is seriously deluding themselves....

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'll Take Delaware in the Parlay, and the Under on Maryland

David Nitkin reported on Wednesday that the Delaware House of Delegates rejected Gov. Jack Markell's sports book legislation that would allow sports gambling at Delaware's racinos. Nitkin signed off with this line:


At the very least, the development is a relief to Maryland policy makers still working to get their slots program off the ground.


As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend." Reports of the death of Delaware's sports book were premature.


The Delaware House of Representatives resurrected the sports betting bill it defeated May 5 and passed the measure with a compromise amendment in the early hours of May 8.

Shortly after midnight, the House voted to recall the Tuesday vote and then voted on an amendment that revised the proposed increase in the state’s share of gambling revenues and put table gaming on a fast track.

Not only that, but table games could be coming to a Delaware casino near you.


The amendment also said the state will have 75 days from the time the bill is signed to negotiate the details necessary to implement table games with the casinos, at which time the General Assembly will consider the proposal. In previous versions of the bill, table games were to be subject to a study that would determine not only the logistical and regulatory concerns that would come with them, but also hash out a revenue split that would be as favorable to the state as possible.


As Brian Griffiths (future MYR Chair) noted long ago, Maryland's slots amendment would only split the existing slots market between us Delaware, West Virginia, and, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the amendment would induce states like Delaware to go whole hog into sports betting and table games thereby providing an attraction for players who prefer those forms of gambling.

I'm no mealy mouthed gambling opponent. If people want to use their expendable income gambling its their right, and we shouldn't need a constitutional amendment do so.

However, Maryland's slot program was never intended that way, and now, as we predicted it is in disarray. Can you say Rocky Gap!

On the bright side though, the dog's breakfast of handouts to Democratic interest groups is going to be a lot smaller.


More below the fold.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shameless Plug

Myself and the rest of the Anne Arundel Young Republicans are doing the Relay for Life at Anne Arundel Community College this week.

Please consider visiting my participant page and dropping a few bucks to help fight cancer...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nonagenarian Useful Idiot

I mark Stalin's own troubadour, Pete Seeger's 90th birthday over at the History Examiner.

Seeger popularized fellow pinko Woody Guthrie's tune "This Land is Your Land." What most people don't know is that the song was a Marxist protest song, and many performers leave out some controversial lyrics.

As I went rumbling that dusty highway
I saw a sign that said "private property"
But on the other side it didn't say nothing
This side was made for you and me

Seeger reinserted those lyrics for his duet with Bruce Springsteen at Barack Obama's inaugural concert.

Of course, one of our own favorite useful idiot gets choked up at that paean to taking private property.


More below the fold.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Now it gets Interesting

For a long time I was discussing the likelihood that Comptroller Peter Franchot would challenge Governor O'Malley in next year's Democratic primary. Well, it looks like the Governor is going to get a challenge.....not from the left, but from the right according to the Sun:

George W. Owings III, a former Democratic delegate and party leader from Calvert County, is “actively considering a challenge” to Gov. Martin O’Malley in next year’s election, the former majority leader told The Baltimore Sun.

The 64-year-old Vietnam war hero from Dunkirk, who served on Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s cabinet, said he was “45 to 60 days” away from deciding whether to challenge O’Malley in the 2010 Democratic primary. He acknowledged that the odds of anyone unseating the incumbent governor “are very long.”.....

....After serving in the House of Delegates from 1988 to 2004, Owings was Ehrlich’s secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. A conservative Democrat, Owings said he believes the state party has “strayed from its working class roots” under O’Malley’s leadership.

The former mortgage banker said he began mulling a challenge after the governor pushed unpopular tax hikes through the General Assembly in 2007 in order to confront the massive structural budget deficit he inherited.

“I see a lot of good, solid working-class Democrats with serious concerns about the direction we are taking,” Owings said. He said he has “the mechanics in place” for an organized campaign, including “some guarantees of operating money” from a “loosely knit financing committee.”

This is the best piece of news that opponents of Governor O'Malley could possibly hear. A bruising Democratic primary means there is a pretty good chance that O'Malley will need to waste financial and political capital running against a fellow Democrat, while the Republican candidate will be able to criss-cross the state introducing themselves to voters and stay above the fray......assuming we united behind one candidate (which is an altogether separate problem with all of the competing interests amount the Bob Ehrlich, Charles Lollar, and Mike Pappas camps).

And Owings isn't the only one contemplating a challenge. Former Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry may jump into the fray too. Even usually reliable Democratic quote machine Matthew Crenson even concedes the following to the Sun:

“Even if they’re not true, the fact that there are so many rumors suggests that O’Malley is perceived as vulnerable,” Crenson said.

This is a good sign, but let's not bet the ranch that this is the be all and end all of the 2010 Election, either. Sure, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend may have been morally wounded when she gave up 20-percent of the priamry vote to grocery store clerk Raymond Fustero in 2002, but remember that incumbent Governor Parris Glendening bowled right through then Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann and former Redskin Ray Schoenke in the primary in his 1998 re-election campaign.

This is a positive development that O'Malley is drawing potential primary challengers, but there is a lot of work for Republicans to do over the next 18 months for us to be able to draw any benefit from it...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Fact-Free Fear Mongering from the Baltimore Sun


The Baltimore Sun’s May 3rd editorial “The climate clash” is a classic example of the fact-free fear mongering that has come to characterize global warming alarmism

The Sun bemoans the “depressingly familiar…partisan squabble” between cap and trade advocates and skeptics. That is, the siren song of green jobs and phantom economic boon of cap and trade versus the all too clear reality that cap and trade will amount to a massive energy tax on working families, lead to energy rationing, and government handouts to rent seeking alternative energy interests.

Instead, the Sun declares those debates stale, and calls for high minded pragmatism in order to avert the coming “global environmental disaster.” The debate may be old and stale, yet the fact remains that these arguments lie at the very core of the issue, you can’t get around them.

Moreover, the clever conceit underling the Sun’s argument is that it’s pragmatic call to do something i.e., implement a carbon reduction scheme clearly favors the alarmist view. The Sun acts as if it is above partisan arguments, but those with eyes to see this rhetorical slight of hand, know the trick for what it is: The Sun is simultaneously taking the alarmist side in the very policy debate it decries. Again, this is not news to anyone paying attention, and the Sun editorial board isn’t fooling anyone who hasn’t gulped the green kool-aid.

So now that we’ve torn down the Sun’s pragmatic façade let’s expose its argument to the facts.

Claim: “The burning of fossil fuels has generated greenhouse gases that are raising the temperature of this planet in a manner that is unprecedented and that threatens the health, welfare and security not only of this nation but of the entire world.”


The first nine words of that sentence are true, the rest is not. Despite the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the planet has not warmed, and arguably cooled since 1997. I would also like the Sun editorialist to explain how, if GHGs, specifically carbon dioxide, drive warming then why do atmospheric concentrations lag behind temperature? Furthermore, GHGs comprise only 2% of the entire atmosphere and of that 2%, carbon dioxide comprises only 3.62%. Man’s contribution to that 3.62% of the total 2% of GHGs in the atmosphere: 3.4%. In all humanity’s total contribution to the greenhouse effect is a whopping 0.28%.












Despite the Sun’s assertion of imminent man-made disaster, observed data and the planet itself have proven quite inconvenient. The irony here is that the answer to why the earth’s climate changes (heating and cooling) lies right on the masthead of their newspaper.

Claim: “That fact (and the science of climate change is settled enough to refer to it as such)…”

Again the Sun is deliberately misleading its readers. The obvious inference here is to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. However, the real question is which report. There are two, the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), and the Assessment Report (AR) and both say very different things about climate change. The Sun, as most mainstream media always do, refers to the SPM—a decidedly political document—not the underlying scientific AR Report. Only 52 scientists (and 115 diplomats) contributed to the SPM. Only four of the 23 panelists reviewing the AR report chapter that hypothesizes man as the driver of global warming endorsed it. Only 62 of the IPCC’s 308 reviewers even read it.

How can any science with such faulty peer-review be “settled?”

Also, if the science is settled why have more than 700 scientists spoken out against the very claims the Sun is parroting? Just doing the math, that’s more than 13 times the number of scientists that contributed to the SPM!

Claim: “Legislation championed by U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, and Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, is needed to set the nation on a permanent course… It would establish long-term goals that promote renewable sources of energy and reward conservation and efficiency… Part of that strategy is likely to involve creation of a cap-and-trade system, or possibly a carbon tax… that is almost certain to eventually raise the cost of electricity. But by imposing this burden gradually and using cap-and-trade revenue to invest in alternative energy and conservation that will save consumers money in the long run, the negative impact should be negligible.”

Oh yes indeed it will raise the cost of electricity—through the roof. Just to give you an example of the cost of the Waxman-Markey legislation, take a look at the costs of last year’s cap and trade bill, Lieberman-Warner would have affected Maryland. Over the next 15 years electricity costs would increase by $2,149, natural gas costs by $1,750, and gasoline costs by $2,013. In the next 10 years Maryland would lose over 6,000 jobs.

But what about those vaunted green jobs? Well even with those new (government mandated) green jobs, we would still see a net loss of millions of other jobs.

Of course, the Waxman-Markey aims to be much larger in scope than Lieberman-Warner.
UPDATE: Analysis of Waxman-Markey shows that it would produce only one nine hundredth of a degree difference in temperature by 2100 and avoid only two years of warming.

Where would your money er... uh... I mean "investments" go? To rent seeking alternative energy barons like General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who said, “Rest assured, I am not tackling climate concerns because it's moral or trendy or good for PR…the biggest driver for me is business potential…” GE figured out Enron’s game (Kyoto “would be good for Enron stock”) and assumed much of the defunct energy company’s alternative energy interests after it went belly up.

Energy derived from fossil fuels would be squeezed out of the market for government favored green energy like wind and solar. However, even fully realized, these—already heavily subsidized—forms of energy can only supply a fraction of our energy demand, which would lead to energy rationing.
Energy conservation, while not necessarily a bad thing, is also another siren song. Most of the conservation schemes like decoupling--which Maryland implemented--leads to increased energy costs and incentivizes utilities to charge consumers more to use less energy.

If you are still un-persuaded to the economic folly of cap and trade, and still believe in the over-hyped, faulty computer modeled predictions of the apocalypse then know this: even if all developed nations met and held their Kyoto targets for 100 years, the effect would be a meaningless seven hundredth of a degree change in global temperature.
Try as they might, the editorialists at the Sun cannot get around those facts.


More below the fold.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Are You Going to the Preakness?

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said the college kids and recent graduates. "They won't let us bring our beer and have fun this year."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said the suburban family. "The Preakness is held in Pimlico, a dangerous neighborhood in Baltimore. We could be robbed, shot, stabbed, or have our car stolen. It's not safe there."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said the owner of the small business. "Obama is talking about raising the top tax bracket to 50%. After I pay my employees and buy supplies, there won't be anything left for me."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said the struggling middle class family. "I'm out of a job. Obama spent billions of dollars of stimulus money for the economy, but it all went to government projects. I worked for a private corporation that received none of it and had to lay off 20% of its employees."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said the casino owner. "Martin O'Malley passed a law allowing the state to seize the Preakness and all of its assets. I'd be a fool to invest in anything in Maryland. I'd risk losing all of my money."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said Brian Roberts of the Baltimore Orioles. "We have to go lose another game in our quest to have 12 consecutive losing seasons."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"Not I", said Joe Flacco. "I only go into the city 8 times per year on game day. It's way too dangerous without a front line to protect me."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"We will", said the sportscasters. "This could be the last Preakness in the state of Maryland. With all of the shenanigans that the Maryland General Assembly is pulling, the horse owners would be smart to just race somewhere else next year and call that the second leg of the Triple Crown."

Are you going to the Preakness?

"We will", said the jockeys. "We want to be reminded one more time why we want to move this first class event from a third class venue. Churchill Downs is nice. Belmont is nice. Pimlico is a dump. Why does Baltimore and Maryland not care about their race?"

Are you going to the Preakness?

"We will", said the thieves and robbers and murderers who were let go on probation or on technicalities by Baltimore's lenient criminal justice system. "The Preakness is an excellent time for us to steal some cars and rob some folks that ain't from these parts."

And so it will go. Smaller crowds will gather and the winnings will decrease. The people of Maryland will one day tell their grandchildren how once upon a time, the Preakness was held in Maryland, not California. But those children won't believe them, for most fairy tales are not true.


More below the fold.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Newspaper Political Bias and former and current Washington Post Ombudsmen, Deborah Howell and Andrew Alexander

--Richard E. Vatz

If there is a serious and convincing argument that there is little or no left-wing political bias in most of the major mainstream U.S. newspaper news and op-ed pages, I have yet to hear it. The best counter argument is that there are some print reporters who successfully try to be balanced, but preponderantly the bias is liberal and very frequently so.

What disinterested source should regularly point this out? A newspaper ombudsman, the position charged with monitoring “fairness, accuracy and balance,” according to the mostly fair, accurate and balanced web site of the Organization of News Ombudsmen.

There are times when the ombudsman position is simply a sycophant of the newspaper he or she serves, as was the case in the short dabbling with the position by THE BALTIMORE SUN a couple of years ago.

The area historically neglected by ombudsmen has been the “balanced” criterion. Ombudsman columns have been around for 40-some years in a small number of newspapers, but serious accusations of political bias predated them. THE WASHINGTON POST has had a slew of excellent such overseers, but they have largely neglected the issue of political imbalance. In THE NEW YORK TIMES, also generally absent such criticism, Dan Okrent surprised most newspaper readers when he wrote a column regarding such bias (“Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” July 25, 2004), but no major mainstream newspaper ombudsman to my knowledge had written any sustained analysis of liberal bias until Deborah Howell.

Ms. Howell, to her considerable consternation, learned in the latter stages of 2008 that to criticize leftwing newspaper bias and to include examples from the newspaper she superintended, the POST, earns unrelenting venom from liberal -- sorry, PROGRESSIVE -- readers (and some staffers) who find evidence irrelevant. One hopes she also felt some satisfaction in bravely and honestly taking on an issue for which the reward is intrinsic satisfaction in having done a job with integrity.

Today, May 3, 2009, the (relatively) new POST ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote his first serious column on political bias in the POST pages, “A Column Feeds Perceptions of Bias.” The article reports on the outrage of POST readers at Tom Shales’ ode to President Barack Obama’s press conference which included much worshipful prose and little serious analysis (e.g., President Obama is “a truly flabbergasting president. And in a good way – not the way some of his predecessors were.”).

Mr. Alexander reports related criticisms from readers and critics of “liberal bias” without adjudicating them, but does conclude that respecting Shales’ authorship, it might be salutary for the newspaper to identify his work as a “review.”

It’s early in Mr. Alexander’s tenure, and his lack of a clear verdict makes his piece less than completely satisfying, but it is already braver on the ideological front than one normally gets in mainstream newspapers.

Let’s hope that Mr. Alexander follows the course of unbridled integrity that Ms. Howell carved out. The opportunity to cover newspaper fairness, accuracy AND balance is a terrible thing to waste.



Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University


More below the fold.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tough job for Anne Arundel Rep.Cent. Com.

The Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee has been tasked with a tough job, picking Senator Janet Greenip's successor. Depending on what they do, they could also have a hand in reshaping the House of Delegates, and the County Council as well. The following is not to be considered an official endorsement, just my own opinion.

Let's see who have been mentioned as contenders, commenting on each.

Cathy Vitale and "Big Ed' Reilly have been mentioned from the County Council. Unlike the Capital newspaper, I do not see these as the "most promising" for the position. Both are hard workers on the Council, but that is an entirely different position than the state legislature. Council members deal with zoning, school budgets, potholes and traffic, the nitty-gritty of local life. State legislators deal more with the "big ideas" of abortion, illegals, the environment, and other state-wide issues. Success in one does not mean success in the other. What record on these big issues do Cathy and Ed have? We have little to base a decision on in these areas. I would hope the Committee would chose from other worthy candidates, and leave the Council alone. There is, however, still a way for one of these, or another, council member to "move up" (in quotes because I see it as a different, not superior, position). More on that later.

Dave Boshert is a great guy, with state experience, but he lost out to John Leopold for the County Executive position and hasn't been in the legislature (except as a lobbyist) for a while. If he were to get back in the game, I would hope it would be as a Delegate, not leap-frogging over existing delegates for the Senate job.

I agree with the Crab-Wrapper (Capital Newspaper) that Delegate Bob Costa's strength may be more in South County than the rest of the Senator's district.

If it comes down to Delegates King and McConkey, I choose the latter, since Tony McConkey is the senior delegate from the region. He also has not only the state experience, but the state record, as a socially-conservative, pro-life legislator, much like Janet Greenip herself. It would be foolish to risk losing the support of the conservatives who put Janet in office by picking someone with a less-than stellar conservative record. Tony has this record, other potential suitors may not.

Of course, If McConkey gets the nod, there will be an opening in the House. Here's where it can get interesting. Should that opening go to Vitale? While she is also from Severna Park, and I'm sure her constituent services will shine as always, I just do not see the logic in assuming Council members would make state good legislators. My concerns over a lack of a state/big-issue record is still valid. If we are going to go with that, what about fellow blogger Greg Kline? He at least ran for the Delegate job, does he still want it? My understanding is that he is a social conservative as well, which bodes well for retaining McConkey's supporters.

So, in conclusion: McConkey keeps the conservative Janet supporters, and Kline keeps Tony's conservative supporters as well. The County Council is left intact to do what it does best, dealing with the nitty-gritty of local life, while the State Legislature retains its conservative voices, sorely needed when confronting O'Malley, Miller, & Busch.

One Post-Script: As the County Council debates the slots zoning issue, will they decide it before the Cent.Com. makes it's own decision? I can see either or both sides of the slots debate wanting their least-favorite council member to move on to the House or Senate, hoping someone more favorable to their cause gets picked to fill the Council vacancy that would result. We don't need lobbying of the Central Committee by either pro (or anti) slots interests to muddy the waters even more.

Post-Script #2: It seems I'm a few days late, if not a few dollars short. Please read the comments from Greg Kline...


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