Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thoughts on RWAAC-Gate

There was a story in the Capital yesterday about pressure on RWAAC President Joyce Thomann to resign in light of her comments. I don't think Joyce Thomann should resign. Resignation is the honorable way out, and there was absolutely nothing honorable about what she said. The RWAAC Board should refuse her resignation and remove her by their Constitutionally mandated methods.

There has been a lot of harrumphing about Republicans who have failed to defend Joyce's comments. Mike Netherland has been characteristically off the reservation with some of his learned thoughts on the matter:

If no other good can come from the Thomann affair let it be that it has opened the eyes of conservatives in and around Annapolis as to who in the Republican Party are most likely to throw you overboard when the going gets a little rough.
Somehow, Mike has determined that the entire Republican Party does not consist of "conservatives" but of merely "registered Republicans", and that RWAAC's disapproval of Thomann's statement will "forever be an ugly stain and its only lasting legacy." (Coincidentally, Mike considers himself a true Republican conservative. Go figure).

You know it's one thing to defend a Republican when what they do actually merits a defense. Attacking Democrats on an issue, standing up for principle on policy, and those kinds of things are worthy of my defense. Idiotic comparisons that basically wrap the Republican elephant in a box of hand grenades with their pins removed deserve no sort of defense. Joyce in her position as President of a Republican Club should be focused on doing her part to elect Republicans and get the Republican message out to the people. And as anybody who has ever heard of Godwin's Law can tell you, if you have to invoke Hitler in your argument you've already lost. These comments did one hell of a lot of damage to the cause of conservatism and the cause of the Republican Party.

Conservatism is in a tenuous moment here on our country. We do have a situation where we have a number of Republicans trying to masquerade as conservatives in order to obtain and maintain elected office. Of course, that point has nothing to do with comparing Obama to Hitler. This is the time we need to be attacking the policies of this President (which are, in fact, dangerous to our country). This is the time we need to be focused on defending conservatism and the conservatism message. Taking even one minute of time to defend ridiculous outbursts like this takes valuable time away from defending conservative principles and electing conservative candidates.

So no, I cannot be bothered to defend what does not deserve to be defended. And I don't give a damn who questions my conservative bona fides for it.


More below the fold.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fighting Crime with Stupidity

You don't have to be paying too much attention to realize that you go to Arundel Mills these days at your own risk. Crime has become damn near commonplace at the sprawling mall complex that was (theoretically) designed to be a haven for tourists and for local commerce, not a magnet for criminal elements. Well, instead of doing something constructive to combat the crime wave that has overcome the mall, County Councilman Daryl Jones has decided to do something.....else:

Citing a recent robbery and the perception that Arundel Mills mall is unsafe, County Councilman Daryl Jones is considering introducing a bill that would require all malls to install security cameras in their parking lots.
Yeah, that is Jones' total solution to the Arundel Mills crimewave; security cameras at all malls in the county, much like a Baltimore County law I wrote about four years ago. To prove how completely asinine the Councilman's suggestion, chew on this nugget information:

Les Morris, a spokesman for Simon Malls, the parent company of Arundel Mills and Marley Station in Glen Burnie, declined to talk about how the legislation would affect the malls without seeing the specifics.

"We have an extensive (closed-circuit TV) network that covers the property, both inside and out," he said.

So Jones' solution to the crime problem at Arundel Mills is to require all county mall owners to have the same system that is not solving the problem at Arundel Mills. That's brilliant.

As usual, Democrats always try to enact "solutions" that deal with our crime problems in ways that are designed to make the public feel comfortable with their surroundings as opposed to actually dealing with the crime problem. Democrats love the idea of an ever expanding network of surveillance cameras that we have noted in the past will never stop one crime from being committed. Not one. You might get some cool footage of somebody being robbed (or worse) in the parking lot, but it will be the very definition of naivete to think that a street criminal is going to be deterred one bit by a camera (unless we are installing some sort of Transformers).

The prudent solution would be working with the Simon Company in increaisng police patrols and police presence in the are to arrest criminals......but who ever said Maryland Democrats wants to actually implement prudent solutions?


More below the fold.

MDE's Abuse of Power, Abuse of Reason

One of the classic arguments that liberals like to put forth is that when disaster strikes, the government should be strong so it can "help," Ronald Reagan's words notwithstanding. However, here in Maryland, it seems like a certain government agency thinks that the when disaster strikes, your first responsibility should be to......the government.

After last weekend's tornado, officials from the State Department of the Environment managed to determine that John Long of Dundalk had "purposefully placed a significant amount of yard waste, debris or items that could have resulted from the recent storm we had" into a nearby creek and a nearby flood plain. Mind you, MDE had exactly no reason to suspect that Mr. Long was responsible for the debris that was in the yard. In fact, trash and refuse has been washing down from nearby locations off of Merritt Blvd for fifty years prior the last weekend's tornado, and a lot of the debris that MDE is trying to ping Long for has been washing up during that entire time period. In fact, I'm hard pressed to figure out a good reason as to why MDE decided to wait until immediately after a natural disaster to start poking their head around this particular area. Butthat doesn't seem to keep the zealots that Martin O'Malley has placed in charge of the Department of the Environment from demanding that Long clean up the mess he didn't make....under the penalty of a $10,000 a day fine if the mess is not cleaned up within thirty days.

We all know that Governor O'Malley and many of Maryland's other leftist Democrats enjoy using the power of government to keep the citizens in check. But even the most adamant liberal has to be able to comprehend that a government that is prepared to use its instruments of power to put the screws to a homeowner who is trying to clean up for a natural disaster is a government that is abusing its power. And you have to think to yourself that it is only a matter of time that a government that is going after the downtrodden is going to come after you.

Perhaps you might want to let MDE Secretarty Shari WIlson or the Governor's Chief of Staff what you think of their ridiculous handling of this matter.....


More below the fold.

Wrecking the Economy, Down ... Socialized Medicine to Go

For those of us who live in Maryland's First Congressional District, we should give a big thanks to "Blue Dog Frank" Kratovil for voting to grind our economy to a halt.  What's next on the Obama - Pelosi - Kratovil agenda?  Socialized medicine.

Think about it; it's a great combo.  Rather than sitting at home freezing because you can't afford to pay for your heating bill, you can get in line at the doctor's office to wait six months for anything but the most mundane care.

Andy Harris Argues for REAL Health Care Reform

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan: “The Great Placater” vs. “The Great Communicator”

--Richard E. Vatz

President Barack Obama and former President Ronald Reagan have a lot in common, personality-wise. They respectively are and were eminently likable, generally unthreatened personalities who can and could articulate their agenda with understandable, passionate prose. They both understand and understood how to marshal public support for their policies and how to debate opponents without giving personal offense.

What is the most telling difference? President Reagan was “The Great Communicator,” and President Obama is “The Great Placater.”

In the words of Lou Cannon, the Washington Post writer who became the Reagan biographer, President Reagan “earned that title [“Great Communicator”] because of his skill at talking evocatively and using folksy anecdotes that ordinary people could understand.” But equally significant, Cannon understood, President Reagan was capable of righteous anger on occasion.

At the 1980 New Hampshire debate for the Republican presidential nomination, sponsored by the Nashua Telegraph, then-Governor Reagan famously lost his temper. The newspaper’s representative threatened to turn off Gov. Reagan’s microphone when he insisted that several other candidates be allowed to participate, contrary to candidate George H. W. Bush’s wishes. Gov. Reagan said furiously and memorably – and effectively -- “I paid for this microphone!”

Also cited by Mr. Cannon, President Reagan resolutely and memorably on June 12, 1987, demanded of the Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Again, the Reagan anger was not frequent, but no one was surprised when it reared its lovely head.

That takes us to "The Great Placater," President Obama. Mr. Obama so lacks manifest anger that when he shows irritability, it passes for outrage. Witness his recent press conference when he was asked whether he had been able to stop smoking, and he responded that the reporter’s motivation was that she thought it was “neat to ask me about my smoking,“ but then, as he always does, he immediately lightened up: “But that's fine, I understand. It's an interesting human -- it's an interesting human interest story.”

President Obama’s desire to placate one and all – from Reverend Jeremiah Wright to the Fox network to conservative columnists who were invited to meet and greet the new president chez George Will in January – extends dangerously to our nuclear-acquisitive political enemies.

When Iranian reform protesters courageously protested the pre-determined election and were threatened, attacked and harassed, President Obama merely said he was “concerned.” In subsequent days, when it became clear that some protesters had been killed (and one day coincidentally after this writer had said on Maryland Public Television that the president should say he was “appalled”), the president said he was “appalled and outraged.”

The word from the President’s supporters is that he was and is concerned that displaying his outrage may make Iran (and perhaps before Iran, the equally nuclear weapon-acquisitive North Korea) more resentful of his “meddling” and less willing to negotiate.

Critics, such as this writer, opined and believed that such rhetorical accommodation was and is irrelevant: that Iran would claim Obama-U.S. “meddling” regardless. And that’s what happened. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has demanded President Obama apologize, perhaps aware of the President’s proclivities toward such accommodation. Thankfully, Obama has refused, apparently pushed too far in his placating mode.

“The Great Placater” can hurt himself with his accommodating rhetoric in domestic policy, and the world might improve as a result. In foreign policy, however, such naïve rhetoric may contribute to the catastrophe of a nuclear-armed Iran and North Korea.

Professor Vatz teaches Political Persuasion at Towson University

More below the fold.

Why I Think Frank Voted the Way He Did

I have no more insight than anyone else into the mind of Frank Kratovil... but I do know politics pretty well and it's pretty easy to guess campaign strategy. During the last campaign, Kratovil focused on the determination of a special interest group that Andy Harris wasn't pro-environment enough. That same special interest group, that backed Kratovil during the campaign, told all members of Congress that if they didn't vote for this bill, then they would be denied their endorsement.

In the next election, Frank Kratovil needs to be able to point to the League of Conservation Voters endorsement and say "see, this special interest group says I'm better so you should vote for me."

Now when you look at the two biggest votes Chris Van Hollen cared about, Kratovil is 2 for 2. And 2 for 2 on voting for bills that he didn't even read.

More below the fold.

Frank Kratovil and GOP Cap and Trade 8

Waxman-Markey/cap and trade (to call it by its real name is an affront to the English language) passed the House last night 219-212. Frank Kratovil—who as of Friday afternoon had not read the bill—along with Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen, Dutch Ruppersberger all voted aye, leaving Roscoe Bartlett the only Maryland representative voting against this massive energy tax.

Unfortunately eight Republicans were bought off and crossed over providing the decisive margin. Followers of Maryland state politics are familiar with spineless Republicans. Two examples being: Delegate Marie Antoinette (Page Elmore), who literally sold his vote for cake, and James Milquetoast King, who in his explanation of his vote for slots—enabling Martin O’Malley’s tax increases—tried to tell us two plus two equals five.

Friday afternoon, C-SPAN was actually an interesting channel to watch. Representatives were literally making deals on the House floor, see the video below of a representative asking for “clarification” of exactly what goodies he’s getting in return for his vote.

Should the bill become law, Frank Kratovil just handed Andy Harris the 2010 congressional election.


Well despite the cooked-book CBO report many Dems waved in the air like canon law, Waxman-Markey in reality 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.

All for a meaningless one nine-hundredth of a degree change in average global temperature.

Memo to Frank Frank Kratovil: Not a good idea to follow the Martin O’Malley energy strategy: Promise lower energy costs, then do everything in your power to increase them.

Oh and don’t bother to ask about the scientific report—suppressed for political reasons by Obama’s EPA—that debunked the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide, because you know our leader told us that science no longer takes a back seat to ideology. The only government report Obama wants criticized is the CBO report that laid out the true, staggering price tag of his health care bill.

Hopefully the Senate will have the wisdom to kill Waxman-Markey as it did Lieberman-Warner last year.

More below the fold.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kratovil "Leaning Yes" on Cap and Trade

UPDATE: Kratovil voted to devastate the US economy-- streiff. Roll Call here.

This morning Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) hadn't made up his mind on the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill (aka zap & fade or cap & tax).  At 2:20 PM "Blue Dog" Frank still hadn't made up his mind, but was "leaning towards voting for the bill" according to a staffer in Kratovil's Centreville office.  I called Salisbury first, but they appear to have hit happy hour a little early today.

Estimated to cost a typical family $1,870 in 2020, the cost will rise to $6,800 per year by 2035.  That's no problem for Frank.  He got a big pay bump when he was sworn in.

While Kratovil continues to stick his finger in the wind to decide how to vote, I fully expect him to vote yes in the end (or at least yes in reconciliation, if it gets that far).  Why not?  Frank needs to appease the enviro left to motivate turnout in 2010.  His messiah, Barack H. Obama is now calling it a "jobs bill" (remember all those jobs from "shovel ready" projects that Frank promised when he voted for Porkulus).  The bill won't go into effect until 2012 (the messiah wants to be re-elected too).

Let Frank know how you feel.  I probably won't do much good, but at least you can't say that you didn't try.  Ask Frank if he'll be picking up the cost of your soon to be increased power bill.

BTW - try the local offices first.  The DC switchboard seems to be melting at post time.

cross posted on Delmarva Dealings

More below the fold.

Why Frank Kratovil Would Vote Aye on Waxman-Markey

The Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill (cap and tax to me more accurate) is scheduled for a vote either today or Saturday. Since it was introduced the 1,200 page plus bill has been exposed for what it is: a climatically meaningless dog’s breakfast of rent-seeking pork for favored special interests, massive energy tax, and economic drag for the rest of us. Obama and the Democrats want this abomination so bad that the Wall Street Journal noted the Democrats think that reality will suspend itself if the bill passes.

Paging Henry Hazlitt

Hell, even the true believer progressives i.e. the “people are pollution” crowd, are hopping mad about the bill.

This monstrosity looked to be dead as many coal and farm state Democrats balked at the massive costs of the bill. However, the Democratic leadership has been on a vote-buying spree, purchasing the votes of so-called “blue dog” Democrats.

Still, as of Wednesday my congressman Frank Kratovil—according to aides at both his Washington and Centreville offices—has no position on the bill.

This is curious as he sits on the Agriculture committee. The chair of that committee, Collin Petersen, has held back farm belt votes until he secured an agreement that will designate the USDA, not the EPA as the authority to approve agricultural carbon offsets.

As we know farmers make up a large and powerful constituency on the Eastern Shore, which composes most Kratovil’s district.

So now you will know why Frank Kratovil would vote aye on HR 2454 The American Clean Energy and Security Act (who would oppose that but puppy kickers and mustache twisting villains).

Think of it as sausage al là Kratovil. Although, I doubt you’ll have much of an appetite after you open your electricity bill, and even less money in your bank account to buy food.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama Administration Supressing Science

We will restore science to its rightful place…

Barack Obama, January 20, 2008

…Unless, of course, it interferes with his policy agenda.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has unearthed emails, which show Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency suppressing an internal scientific analysis of climate change for political reasons. The analysis punched holes in the administration’s policy position of regulating carbon dioxide.

CEI is submitting a set of four EPA emails, dated March 12-17, 2009, which indicate that a significant internal critique of EPA’s position on Endangerment
was essentially put under wraps and concealed. The study was barred from being circulated within EPA, it was never disclosed to the public, and it was not placed in the docket of this proceeding. The emails further show that the study was treated in this manner not because of any problem with its quality, but for political reasons…

1) a March 12 email from Al McGartland, Office Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), to Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst at NCEE, forbidding him from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues;

2) a March 16 email from Mr. Carlin to another NCEE economist, with a cc to Mr. McGartland and two other NCEE staffers, requesting that his study be forwarded to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which directs EPA’s climate change program. The email notes the quantity of peer-reviewed references in the study, and defends its
inclusion of new research as well. It states Mr. Carlin’s view that “the critical attribute of good science is its correspondence to observable data rather than where it appears in the technical literature.” It goes on to point out that the new studies “explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models.” (Emphases added);

3) a March 17 email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, stating that he will not forward Mr. Carlin’s study. “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. …. I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” (Emphasis added);

4) a second March 17 email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, dated eight minutes later, stating “ I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.” Mr. McGartland’s emails demonstrate that he was rejecting Mr. Carlin’s study because its conclusions ran counter to EPA’s proposed position.

Paraphrasing Orwell, “rightful place” has no meaning other than what Obama and his gangster government find desirable.

More below the fold.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pending Catastrophe: The Incipient Failure of the Barack Obama Anti-Nuclear Proliferation Policy

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish…all forms of human life.” John F. Kennedy Inaugural, 1961

This was not the only time the first American president of 1960’s warned of the danger of nuclear weapons, and he exaggerated, thank God, the speed of nuclear proliferation, predicting in 1963 that there could be over 20 nuclear states within a decade. Unfortunately, underestimating in 1963 the time required for a proliferation catastrophe brings little solace to those concerned in 2009.

What is unconsciously, or in a minority of cases, consciously, behind the stress and hope America feels regarding the protests against Iran’s Islamic rulers? Are Americans primarily concerned with the undemocratic theocracy and the loss of political rights by the people of Iran? No. Are they (we) primarily concerned that there is a danger that the politics of oil could redound to the detriment of the West? No.

Now that we haven’t answered those questions, let me pose an easier one: what is the overriding dread Americans have regarding North Korea’s nuclear program, missile program, and unpredictability in general.

The single overriding concern of Americans, simply put, is that nuclear weapons may likely be used as weapons or commerce by the North Koreans, especially since their willingness to threaten other countries (per a low threshold of provocation) with their newfound weapons is unprecedented.

And regarding Iran, make no mistake about it: the hidden fear pertaining to the Iranian unrest has as its root the question of which Iranian polity will be intent on attaining nuclear weapons: the current one or the reformists or both?

A nuclear weaponized Iran would transform Middle Eastern politics, enhance greatly – let’s avoid euphemisms here – the threat of catastrophic nuclear war, and/or energize a nuclear arms race throughout the region.

Forget those who say that the Iraq war was motivated by George W. Bush’s wish to punish Saddam for the latter’s (failed) attempt to assassinate George H. W. Bush. Forget those who say President Bush the younger was motivated to increase United States’ hegemony over that volatile part of the world. The chief motive was the fear that Iraq would once again – yes, they were stopped by Israel in the first go-round – attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

If there is any good news from current ominous developments, it may be – may be –that President Barack Obama has learned that his considerable charisma seems insufficient to stop reckless nations from acquiring or moving toward acquiring nuclear weapons. This analysis may beg an important question: is there a Barack Obama policy to stop nuclear proliferation?

Such a policy should push for more aggressive action: convincing China to act to make North Korea give up its nuclear weapons program and perhaps accepting and supporting Israel’s eventual military action to stop or retard Iran’s nuclear weapons acquisition program before it is too late.

Professor Vatz teaches political persuasion at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Impact of O'Malleynomics

Governor's Martin O'Malley's seemingly neverending quest to destroy Maryland's middle and working class families looks like it is right on schedule:

Unemployment in Maryland climbed to 7.2 percent in May, a more than 25-year-high, as joblessness rose in nearly all states, preliminary government statistics show.

Compared with a year earlier, unemployment rose in every state last month, including Maryland, where the rate has jumped from 4.1 percent in May 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday.

Maryland's unemployment rate has not been 7.2 percent or higher since July 1983, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

During the 12 months through May, Maryland lost more than 64,000 jobs, not adjusted for seasonal changes, preliminary government numbers show.
Of course, as we have noted here time and time again, this is what happens when you enact the economic policies that Governor O'Malley and his Democratic cronies have been pushing for the last three years. When you continue to raise taxes, when you continue to inflate spending to unmanageable levels, and when you continue to make it harder and harder for business to compete, middle and working class workers and their families pay the consequences. Jobs are lost. Businesses are shuttered. Tax revenues plummet. And the economy is destroyed.

I hope Governor O'Malley can sleep well knowing that he put the expansion of government and his own political self interest ahead of average Marylanders by adopting such reckless fiscal policies. O'Malley has cost a lot of people their jobs and a lot of people their livelihoods, and I hope that these people who have been negatively impacted by the Governor's incompetence remember the toll these policies have taken on them and their families...


More below the fold.

The Universival Healthcare Myth

Barack Obama wants it.  Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) wants it.  At least Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is honest enough to publicly admit that he wants it. What are we talking about?  Single-payer universal healthcare.  In other words, these folks want to burden American citizens with socialized medicine.

Of course, few Democrat elected officials are as honest as Cardin.  Kratovil espouses an "individual mandate".  So does Obama.  What will be the end result?  SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.

Check out Patients United to learn more.  We certainly won't be getting much info from a media so infatuated with Obama that they are simply laying down all pretense of objectivity and broadcasting infomercials.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

More below the fold.

Glenn Greenwald Doth Protest Too Much, Way Too Much

I usually leave the larger issues of media criticism to Professor Vatz, as his mustache can slay a rabid grizzly bear, or at least a Baltimore Sun editorial page editor. However I felt the need to jump in on one issue in particular.

My friend Ron Smith is an admirer of Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald. I am not.

Ron admires Greenwald’s dogged criticism of the “establishment press,” especially their alleged journalistic failure to hold the Bush administration accountable during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. To be fair, some of Greenwald’s criticism is occasionally on point. However, Greenwald’s modis operandi is to gun his engine into the fifth gear of high dudgeon and shriek like a harpy. Case in point his foot stamping over the Washington Post firing Dan Froomkin. Whatever the merits or demerits of canning Froomkin, the case illustrates Greenwald’s schtick: Preen as a paragon of all that is right and good in the world, lather up spittle-flecked rage chock full of charges of mendacity and/or hypocrisy—without explanation—against those he who he disagrees with. In the end, Greenwald’s posts are essentially long worded variations of “Hulk smash.”

You see, in Greenwald’s world, “dishonest” has no meaning other than a conservative who is winning an argument. See Jonah Goldberg and Jim Henke beat Greenwald like a rented mule on this issue.

Another example of Greenwald’s inanity is in this fleck of spittle from his frothing over Froomkin:

Notably, Froomkin just recently had a somewhat acrimonious exchange with the
oh-so-oppressed Krauthammer over torture, after
Froomkin criticized Krauthammer's explicit endorsement of torture and Krauthammer responded by calling Froomkin's criticisms "stupid."

Only, if you read Krauthammer’s rejoinder to Froomkin and not just the one word quoted by Greenwald, you would see that Froomkin’s criticism was, well… stupid. But that’s Greenwald for you: progressive = all good things, conservative = whatever he deems undesirable.

Greenwald’s crapulence doesn’t end there. He is guilty of the very sin of which he incessantly accuses others: hypocrisy. While lobbing ad hominem attacks at "rancid and worthless establishment journalists," he simultaneously extols the late David Halberstam as the paragon of journalistic virtue. Much like Keith Olbermann misuses history to fashion himself as the second coming of Edward R. Murrow, Greenwald’s emulation of Halberstam suffers from its own fatal flaw:

As I often do, I'll use this 2005 speech by the great David Halberstam, delivered at the Columbia School of Journalism, to illustrate how rancid and worthless our establishment journalists of today are -- especially the TV stars like Gibson and Williams. Halberstam observed that "by and large, the more famous you are, the less of a journalist you are," and recounted that his proudest moment in his career was when, as a young reporter in Saigon, he stood down a General in Vietnam who was attempting to threaten and intimidate him from independently investigating claims that the Pentagon was making about the war.

The arc of our country and its media: from David Halberstam's confrontation with a U.S. General in Vietnam over his demands to investigate (rather than mindlessly accept) the Pentagon's war claims to Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams sitting around giggling on TV with Matt Lauer and muttering about what a great job they did in covering the administration's march to invade Iraq, when even Bush's own Press Secretary mocks them for being weak, complicit little mouthpieces for government propaganda.

If only, Halberstam was as critical with a certain stringer he used in Vietnam. As I noted a while back, Halberstam, along with fellow journalists Neil Sheehan and Stanley Karnow were dupes of North Vietnamese communist agent Pham Xuan An.

Vietnam War historian Mark Moyer says of Halberstam and his wartime colleagues:

When Halberstam strongly objected to someone’s policy decisions or believed that an individual was obstructing his access to information, he unleashed the fury of his typewriter on him. [So does Greenwald] Through articles and bestselling books, Halberstam and his most famous colleagues in Vietnam, Neil Sheehan and Stanley Karnow, horribly tarnished the reputations of some very fine Americans, including Gen. Paul Harkins, who served as head of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and Frederick Nolting, who was U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam. The relatives of the victims were deeply scarred by these false portrayals, as I learned from them after I exposed the falsehoods in my recent history, Triumph Forsaken…

Halberstam, Sheehan, and Karnow inadvertently caused enormous damage to the American effort in South Vietnam—making them the most harmful journalists in American history. The leading American journalists in Vietnam during 1963, they favored American involvement in Vietnam, in stark contrast to the press corps of the war’s latter years. But they had a low opinion of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem and decided that he would need to be removed if the war was to be won. Brazenly attempting to influence history, Halberstam, Sheehan, and Karnow gave Diem’s opponents in the U.S. government negative information on Diem in print and in private. Most of the information they passed on was false or misleading, owing in part to their heavy reliance on a Reuters stringer named Pham Xuan An, who was actually a secret Communist agent. The journalists convinced Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge to accept their reports in place of much more accurate reports from the CIA and the U.S. military, which led Lodge to urge South Vietnamese generals to stage a coup. Press articles suggesting that Diem had lost his principal ally’s confidence made the South Vietnamese generals receptive to coup plots—the Vietnamese elites generally misinterpreted American news reporters as official spokesmen of the U.S. government….

There was more damage to come, subtler in nature but still very toxic. When the American intelligentsia became disillusioned with Vietnam during the late 1960s, Halberstam and Sheehan abandoned support for the U.S. defense of South Vietnam. Like many journalists today, they avoided reporting on American military heroism in the belief that reports of American valor would increase support for the war in the United States and would put servicemen in a more favorable light than those who did not serve. We have these journalists, as well as historians, to blame for the fact that the pantheon of American military heroes is empty for the period from the end of the Korean War in 1953 onward. Of course, when one type of hero is rejected, another is usually inserted in its place. To the horror of many who served in Vietnam, Halberstam, Sheehan, and Karnow became heroes, as has been reflected in the obituaries for Halberstam.

While, not a complicit dupe, Halberstam was as Greenwald likes to say a moutpiece for government propaganda. Only in Halberstam's case he was a mouthpiece for the North Vietnamese enemy. He deserves to be listed a few notches below Walter Duranty and Herbert Matthews in the rankings of New York Times reporters, who aided totalitarian regimes.

The edifice of Greenwald’s shrine to Halberstam—and his own rhetorical schtick—are constructed from a paper mâché myth. Remember that next time Greenwald uncorks his next self righteous, self-glorifying tirade.

Fitting that Greenwald’s latest book is titled Great American Hypocrites. The irony is as they say delicious.

More below the fold.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Definition of a Maryland Democratic Party Press Release: Bollocks

Have you seen this whopper from the Maryland Democratic Party? Democrats: Good for Maryland

If you love dark comedy than this piece of agitprop is a howler.

Since it takes a thousand reasoned words to refute the fallacious blurbs of and MDP press release, bear with my annotations.

Maryland Democrats: Good for Tax Reform

• Under the Obama/O'Malley tax reforms 92% of Marylanders will pay the same or less in income taxes.

Umm… no. As many predicted most Marylanders ended up paying more, (especially low income families) and are under O’Malley’s billion dollar tax increases in 2007 special session (the largest in Maryland history) and indirect regulatory taxes. As for the Obama part of the equation this is an obvious reference to the campaign pledge that 95% of Americans would get a tax cut. Of course, this is nonsense on stilts. You can’t give 95% of Americans a tax cut if only one third of Americans actually pay federal income taxes. These people already receive transfer payments from the government. In fact, under Obama/O’Malley plan these payments will increase, meaning that those of us who pay taxes will see our burden increased.

• Under the Obama/O'Malley tax reforms 89% of Marylanders will pay the same or less in income and sales taxes.

Only a Maryland Democrat could say that a person would pay less in sales taxes after a 20% increase in the sales tax, which disproportionately affects the poor. Can you say O’Malleynomics.

• The average Maryland family (assuming the 2007 Maryland median family income of $68,080) should see their taxes reduced by $884 compared to the tax policies under Bush Administration.

Pure fantasy. The hack who wrote this piece should consult an economics text book or at least calculator. Analysis of O’Malley’s tax increases showed:

A family with $40,000 in household income would pay $87 more. At $75,000, a family would pay $166 more. At $150,000, it would pay $332 more. And those earning $750,000 a year would pay $2,253 more.

Furthermore, government revenues increased and entire spectrum of the income scale saw growth under the Bush tax cuts. Contrast that with the 20% decline in state tax receipts predicted deficit reported by the comptroller. To be fair the economic downturn has a great deal to do with this. However, O’Malley and the Democrats’ taxes increases in the face of the gathering economic storm played a significant role in the drop in receipts, i.e., the law of diminishing returns.

It’s quite cheeky that a party, which dismissed—with utter contempt—the Tea Party movement, now needs to tout its “record” on tax reform.

Maryland Democrats: Good for Working Families

Just three weeks into his term, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law to create or save over 3.5 million jobs in our nation, provide tax cuts for working families in Maryland and throughout our nation, and invest in America’s public education system, and roads, bridges, tunnels, and the green technologies of tomorrow.

Maryland stands to receive over $4 billion in federal stimulus dollars, including $1.4 billion for Medicaid, $1.1 billion in K-12 education funds, $813 million to update our aging infrastructure, and $50 million for public safety.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration is moving quickly to put federal funds under the Recovery and Reinvestment program to work for working families. Less than 24 hours after President Obama signed the legislation, Governor O’Malley announced the first wave of ‘shovel-ready’ transportation projects, and within 20 days Maryland became the first state in the nation to have its first round of transportation projects certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, creating jobs for more Maryland families in every region of our State.

Since then, Governor O’Malley has announced 95 proposed Maryland water quality and drinking water projects totaling $119.2 million to receive low interest loans and/or grants under President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Department of Legislative Services and Marta Mossburg threw cold water on all of that.
The bulk of the “stimulus” money goes to shore up entitlement, teacher pension spending. Of course, the Dems won’t tell you about the federal mandate, which requires the state to permanently expand the program as a prerequisite to accepting the funds. They also won’t tell you that the federal funds run out next year, creating an artificially inflated budget baseline the the state cannot meet without a tax increase. As Mossburg writes, the DLS report shows:

…that less than 20 percent of the money is directed to building "shovel-ready" projects like roads and bridges and to ensuring adequate and clean water supplies in the state. The report reveals no money targeted to inventing new technologies—not even the green ones much hyped by President Barack Obama and Gov. Martin O'Malley. Neither did it show money directed toward creating a lower taxed, pro business environment that makes the state a top destination for those seeking to start businesses—the long-term key to Maryland's health.

Furthermore, the jobs created by those “shovel ready” projects are temporary.

I looked for something on electricity rates but I couldn’t find anything. Oh wait O’Malley and the Democrats have increased electricity rates over the last three years.

Maryland: Good for Business and Jobs
• Maryland’s unemployment rate remains almost 20% lower than the national average.
• While all but three states have lost jobs in the last 12 months, Maryland's rate of job loss remains almost 40% lower than the national average.
Let me get this straight, failure is good for Maryland because the state didn’t lose as many jobs as it could have. Pay no attention to those special session tax increases, which exacerbated the job loss beyond what economic downturn wrought. Forget for a moment that there is no way to measure jobs saved, the stimulus isn’t stimulating either as the job loss is higher than the Obama administration claimed it would be with the trillion dollar stimulus plan.

• Maryland continues to gain jobs in key sectors last year including bio-tech and life sciences.

This is true, but the bio-tech industry subsidized by taxpayer dollars, throw in Johns Hopkins and you’re talking billions of tax payer money (federal and state) flowing to the biotech industry.

•Maryland has one of the most highly educated work forces in the country and
ranks second among the states in the percentage of professional and technical
workers in the workforce.

Also true, but only because of the proximity to Washington DC, government jobs, contracts and the federal spigot, not necessarily from any natural economic growth.

• Maryland’s K-12 public school system is the best in the nation according to Education Week.
Yes, but don’t ask about the black hole that is the Baltimore City Public School System, for which Maryland tax payers pony-up 70% of its budget to not educate children, while serving as a jobs program for O’Malley/Democrat cronies.

• Maryland’s corporate income tax is very competitive, job growth continues, and Maryland businesses have significant cost advantages compared to other states like California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
What this really means is we’re not as bad as the worst. In reality though, The Tax Foundation ranked Maryland 45th in business tax climate, and dead last in personal income taxes.

Say what you will about that bologna sandwich David Paulson, but at least he was a more artful liar than the hack, who typed up this release. Then again, this is to be expected from Democrats, who when it comes to economics are the kid sitting in the corner of the classroom wearing the dunce cap.

Democrats…good for laughs—you bet! Good for Maryland? Not so much.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Does $100 Million Cut Out of a $3.5 Trillion Budget Look Like?

A concise, cogent explanation of the new hopey changey budget math...

More below the fold.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Audacity of Fear

Barack Obama is now doubling down on the fear mongering in order to get the massive tax increase/boondoggle that is the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill through the House of Representatives. The cooler climate appears to be an insignificant truth, for The One, who deems it’s getting hotter. Fortunately for us the climate isn’t an inconvenient Inspector General, who can be fired.

The Obama administration is poised for its most forceful confrontation with the American public on the sweeping and life-altering consequences of a failure to act on global warming with the release today of a long-awaited scientific report on climate change.

The report, produced by more than 30 scientists at 13 government agencies dealing with climate change, provides the most detailed picture to date of the worst case scenarios of rising sea levels and extreme weather events: floods in lower Manhattan; a quadrupling of heat waves deaths in Chicago; withering on the vineyards of California; the disappearance of wildflowers from the slopes of the Rockies; and the extinction of Alaska's wild polar bears in the next 75 years.

Today's release is part of a carefully crafted strategy by the White House to help build public support for Obama's agenda and boost the prospects of a climate change bill now making its way through Congress.

Americans have already been living with evidence of changing climate, the report said. Over the last 30 years winters have grown shorter and milder, with a 3.9C (7F) rise in winter temperatures in the midwest and northern Great Plains. Hurricanes have become deadlier. If climate change is left unchecked, the future promises to bring even more ferocious hurricanes to coastal regions - in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic, punishing droughts to the south-west, and increasingly severe winter storms in the north-east and around the Great Lakes.

The human consequences, as envisaged by the draft, are similarily catastrophic: potential food shortages because of declining wheat and corn yields in the breadbasket of the mid-west, increased outbreaks of food poisoning and epidemic diseases.

US cities will be choking because of deteriorating air quality; leisure pursuits will disappear. The report predicts that the ski season in the north-east will be 20%shorter. As for summer holidays, 14 of 17 North Carolina beaches will be permanently underwater by 2080, the draft forecasts.

Of course, these “claims” are based on the same discredited, faulty computer models, which do nothing but predict doom and gloom. One could enter Betty Crocker recipes into these models and get the same result. As Chris Horner notes the report was written by the same stooges pulling the same stunts they did with the first National Assessment on Climate Change in 2000. A report that the Competitive Enterprise Institute forced the Department of Justice to slap a warning label on that warned readers that it was not subjected to the scrutiny of the Federal Information Quality Act. Nor, as Horner notes would those models be admissible in federal court because they would fail the Supreme Court’s Daubert test for sound science.

We here in Maryland have seen this type of stupid environmentalist trick before.

Should Obama’s fear mongering move the weak lilies in the House from their opposition to the bill here’s what it will get us:

· Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $7.4 trillion,
· Destroy 844,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 1,900,000 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 29 percent, or $33,400 additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation.

Hope and change, it hurts so good.

More below the fold.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Apologies: How to Say You’re Sorry for an Obscenity: Erik von Brunn’s Apology for His Father’s Attack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

--Richard E. Vatz

I have always been fascinated by the never-ending rhetorical debate over what makes for a sincere apology. Apologies take many forms, from an ingenuous appeal for forgiveness (i.e. the apologizing principal really regrets what he/she or someone related or in his or her charge did), to a strategic attempt to ameliorate consequences (e.g., such as you might hear at a sentencing hearing), to a meeting of sociological expectations of your constituents (such as political apologies during a race for office), to a patently insincere apology to communicate one’s contempt for the victim of your bad behavior (e.g., David Letterman’s apology wherein he said that when he joked that a Sarah Palin daughter “was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez,” he (Letterman) was referring not to Gov. Palin’s 14 year-old daughter, but to her 18 year-old daughter, “who was knocked up.”

[Update: Monday evening, June 14: the Associated Press quotes Letterman as offering a sincere apology on tonight's show, saying "It was a coarse joke, a bad joke...[b]ut I never thought it was (about) anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure, in fact, that she is of legal age, 18...[t]he joke, really, in and of itself, can't be defended." Now, this belatedly may appear to many to be a heartfelt apology, probably defusing the situation for the talk show host, but as a second apology is likely to have been motivated by growing national pressure and thus should not be assumed to be sincere.]

Each of these types of apologies has a long history, but let us focus on a recent one of the first order, the honorable statement of contrition by the son of the 88 year-old perpetrator of the attack at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and killing of revered guard Stephen T. Johns, Mr. Erik von Brunn.

Listen to Mr. von Brunn’s words of remorse in a statement to ABC News, reported by The Washington Post's Bill Turque: "I cannot express enough how deeply sorry I am it was Mr. Johns, and not my father who lost their life yesterday [June 10, 2009]…[i]t was unjustified and unfair that he died, and while my condolences could never begin to offer appeasement, they, along with my remorse is all I have to give…[f]or the extremists who believe my father is a hero: it is imperative you understand what he did was an act of cowardice…[h]e should not be remembered as a brave man or a hero, but a coward unable to come to grips with the fact he threw his and his families lives away for an ideology that fostered sadness and anguish."

Do you see any conflictedness in his condemnation of his father’s despicable act? Do you hear any subtle tone or equivocation that would imply that his remorse was diluted by other motives, such as denial or forgivingness toward the sinister murderer, his father?

Neither do I.

There is little in self-justificatory rhetoric that sickens me more than the disingenuous apology. It adds undeserved stress to the victim, and often considerable undeserved stress. All of the list above of insincere and strategic apologies deserve whatever punishment that aggravation dictates, because they all aggravate the circumstances of the victims of the affront.

I represent no one but those who agree with me, but as just one citizen let me express my appreciation for the clear, unqualified apology of Mr. Erik von Brunn for his father’s unforgivable act.

You have spoken meaningfully and honestly, sir, and it matters.

Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End

Well, the Maryland Young Republicans Convention was today. And I lost. But I wanted to share with you my "campaign speech" prior to the vote.....

.....and tomorrow is another day. Thanks for your support.


More below the fold.

Friday, June 12, 2009

On with the Ehrlichs Tomorrow

I'll be on with the Ehrlichs from 9:30-11:00 WBAL AM 1090 or listen live at wbal.com

We'll be talking violence in Baltimore, energy, and budget cutting

More below the fold.

Adventure Park USA poised to grow in 2010

I might do this, if I had the money myself.

More below the fold.

I only thought this happened in movies or on two lane roads

But apparently not, a Wrong way driver caused havoc on I-270 and Route 15 in Frederick last night.

A driver caused several crashes on U.S. 15 and I-270 when she drove her Volvo S40 south in the northbound lanes about 2 a.m. Thursday, according to Maryland State Police.
Amanda Tyerar, 21, of Gaithersburg, has been charged with driving under the influence and driving while impaired, said First Sgt. Chris Sasse.

Her wrong-way ride stretched for seven miles, police said.

Troopers started hearing reports of a Volvo heading south in the northbound lanes of U.S. 15 at Rosemont Avenue, said Trooper M.E. Crouse.

"More than two dozen citizens called in," Sasse said. One of the callers was an off-duty Gaithersburg City Police officer whose vehicle was almost struck, police said.

The first crash happened on U.S. 15 at West Patrick Street when a passing car going in the correct direction was forced off the road by the Volvo and struck a tractor-trailer, police said. No one was taken to a hospital.
The wrong way driving took place between Rosemont Avenue in Frederick and Route 80 (Urbana) along I-270--a distance of about 9 miles or so. It should also be noted, for those not familiar with the area that there are several different exits and a very big median to pull over in.

That is a lot of alcohol not to understand what is going on.

More below the fold.

Frederick County School Board Circular Files School Redistricting Plan

Yesterday the Frederick County School Board decided to scrap a school redistrcting plan that had been adopted two weeks ago. The move, made amid charges of ethical concerns (a citizen had filed an ethics complaint citing possible conflicts of interest in that a school board member's own children would be affected by the changes) and "unacceptable enrollment numbers" caused the Board to scrap a plan it has tentatively adopted on May 27. The Board has asked the Frederick Ethics panel for an opinion regarding the ethical concerns.

The redistricting plan, a necessity given the wide disparities in enrollment in a number of areas, including the growing Urbana area and the neighborhoods of eastern Frederick, was opposed in part because some of the changes that were included in the May 27 adoption had been made without public comment.

While overcrowded schools are simply going to be a fact of life in Frederick for near term and distant future, there was a concern that too many of the overcrowded schools would have a disproportionate share of kids on free or reduced-price meals (an indicator of poverty).

To be quite honest, there is no way that anyone is going to be satisfied with any redistricting plan. Someone, somewhere will hate the plan. But this is where the School Board has done a good job because for the most part the process has been open, all plans have been subject to extensive public comment. But with the last minute changes, the School Board undid themselves.

Staff members have been asked to put together a new plan, which will be available for comment. However, the school year ends next week and this new plan is scheduled to take effect for the 2009-2010 school year, so the Board does not have long to make a decision. While the process must and should be open, at some point in the next six weeks a decision must be made.

I hope the Board has the courage to make that decision that will benefit the most people, and not just those who are the most vocal.

Shared via AddThis

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The Formerly Hilarious David Letterman: Now Beyond the Palin

--Richard E. Vatz

The adjudication of the public clash between the once-brilliant and now ugly CBS comic David Letterman and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is not a close call. David Letterman’s comments are indefensible -- and this writer is one who thought Palin should not have been the Republican Party’s Vice Presidential candidate in 2008.

Let’s sum up the points at issue. On one of Letterman’s “Top Ten” lists days ago, he said that during an “awkward moment” during “the 7th inning stretch” at a Yankees’ game Palin attended that her “daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”

In an apology that his discerning audience found hilarious, Letterman explained that he was referring to Palin’s 18 year-old daughter, Bristol, not her 14 year-old daughter Willow, who was the daughter attending the game with the Governor.

Forget the error – give Letterman a pass on that one. Forget his “slutty flight attendant look” reference to Palin herself, although the tender mercies that today’s Democratic comedians discriminatorily apply to different parties’ candidates’ families make their humor partly political attacks. Sarah Palin made this point nicely in her interview with Matt Lauer today on NBC's "Today" show.

The point is this: successful, acceptable comedy in polarized America circa the 21st century may involve tasteless (as Letterman simultaneously confesses and brags about) exploitation of those in the public eye – adults. One feels little sympathy for the public ridicule of the hypocrisies and mendacities of former Senator Larry Craig and his “disorderly conduct“ in a restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, former Governor Eliot Spitzer and his prostitution escapades or even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her representations of CIA briefings on waterboarding and enhanced interrogation.

What is simply unforgivable in the David Letterman case, even as the viciously insatiable Letterman audience cheers him on, is his comedic exploitation of a politician’s young children, both a 14 year-old and an 18 year-old.

Moreover, Letterman’s “apology” is further evidence of his bad motivation. In explaining his erring on the identity of which daughter he was referring to, he said (of course, to laughter by that audience) that the girl “who was knocked up is now 18 years-old.”

Beware of apologies that attempt to defuse the most consensually outrageous aspects of a provocation, but whose subtext attempts to reassure the audience that the provocateur is hardly regretful at all.

In the end, what is indefensible is David Letterman’s comedic exploitation of politician’s young children, both a 14 year-old and an 18 year-old (who became pregnant at 17, incidentally) and his insincere “apology,” proving, even to this moment, his lack of genuine contrition.

--Professor Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Double Take

I had to do a double take when I saw this mini-editorial posted on the Sun website:

The Maryland Public Service Commission's order Thursday concluding that it has the right to review Electricite de France's proposed purchase of part of Constellation Energy Group's nuclear business looks like nothing more than an attempt by the state to shake down the company for cash. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the state already shook Constellation down 18 months ago with the promise that it wouldn't do so again. But it seems that when it comes to Constellation and BGE, Gov. Martin O'Malley and his appointees on the Public Service Commission don't know when to leave well enough alone.
Read the whole thing.

If I were in the O'Malley Administration (and, since I have common sense, I'm obviously disqualified there) and the Sun editorial board (who has been at the vanguard of the "stick it to Constellation" movement) started question questioning my appointees decisions as overreaching, maybe I'd start wondering if they were right.....


More below the fold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

San Salvador on University Boulevard

Catching up on my back issues of National Review I came across this Happy Warrior column by Mark Steyn (subscription required) in which he stumbled across a New York Times article titled Struggling to Rise in the Suburbs Where Failing Means Fitting In. The Times article chronicles immigrant issues in Langley Park, a DC suburb not far from where I grew up in PG County.

The Times article describes Langley Park as:

Now nearly two-thirds Latino and foreign-born, it has the aesthetics of suburban sprawl and the aura of Central America. Laundromats double as money-transfer stores. Jobless men drink and sleep in the sun. There is no city government, few community leaders, and little community.

To which Steyn writes:

Langley Park is a good example of where tiptoeing around on multiculti eggshells leads: There is literally no language in which what’s happening in suburban Maryland can be politely discussed, not if an ambitious politician of either party wishes to remain viable. To exhibit an interest in immigration is to risk being marked down as, if not a “racist,” at least a “nativist.” And “immigration” isn’t really what it is, not really: After all, in traditional immigration patterns the immigrant assimilates to his new land, not the new land to the immigrant. Yet in this case the aura of Maryland dissolves like a mirage when faced with “the aura of Central America.”

Steyn is right, because one of the few “community leaders” in Langley Park, Delegate Victor Ramirez, has made an art form out of labeling anyone who dares accurately describe the problems in Langley Park as hateful and racist.

There is no language to have an honest discussion about Langley Park, because for Ramirez and his ilk in the Maryland Democratic Party, hate and racism have no meaning other than as a epithet to browbeat people and ideas they disagree with.

More below the fold.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Liberal Media Watch: June 7, 2009, An Unusually Good Day for THE WASHINGTON POST and THE BALTIMORE SUN

--Richard E. Vatz

On local radio and television periodically and in a class I run consistently, I respectively engage in and teach Media Criticism.

The fact that liberal biases inhere in most newspapers doesn’t mean: 1. that all newspapers are liberal; 2. that generally liberal newspapers are liberal throughout; or 3. that there are no surprises on a day by day basis.

Let me begin by saying that one of the most liberal daily metropolitan newspapers in the country, THE BALTIMORE SUN, has two – two – fairly conservative pieces on their op-ed page today: long-time journalist Len Lazarick’s “Vaunted StateStat Falls Short of Real Accountability” which critiques the inadequacies of the Maryland Democrats’ StateStat plan that which purports to evaluate government programs, and Jerusalem resident Aron U. Raskas’ “Settlements Are No Threat,” a critique of the Obama Administration’s Israeli settlement policy, a piece almost as good as Charles Krauthammer’s “The Settlements Myth” of June 5, 2009.

I simply recall no two such conservative lead pieces in the SUN on a given day. In a future blog I shall share some of the depredations of erstwhile SUN editor Dianne Donovan and her acolytes -- the spiking of Ron Smith’s column last Friday is just indefensible, and they have offered no defense, so maybe they felt guilty and produced today's pieces as repentance -- but, today, let me just say “Good Show.”

On THE WASHINGTON POST side, let me just say, “Better Show.”

First of all, leading the Metro page is simply one of the best pieces I have read on one of the most neglected topics I know: “Killers Fear This Woman,” an article by reporter Keith L. Alexander on a tremendously fearless prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines, and how she takes on dangerous defendants and their intimidation tactics. (If only all prosecutors were as brave, maybe folks in Baltimore City, for example, could be a little reassured.) I cannot do this prosecutor justice, but this piece certainly does. Read it, please.

On the editorial page are two exquisite conservative articles which, like the SUN, lead the page – am I dreaming? The first, monthly POST columnist Robert Kagan’s “Woodrow Wilson’s Heir,” unmasks the false assumption that President Barack Obama’s “nice guy diplomacy” (not Kagan’s term) has historically worked or is likely to currently work. For those conservatives who like President Obama personally but think his foreign policy idealism will come a-cropper, this is as thorough a piece for which one could wish.

The second, George F. Will’s “Have We Got a Deal for You,” details the conservative position on why one of the reasons The Obama Administration’s GM policy is doomed to fail is its liberal politicizing of the economy. The article argues and provides compelling evidence for the proposition that Washington mandates through unintended consequences will create “…economic autarky – the end of international trade, and of prosperity.”

(The journalistic world has not been turned upside down: there is also the WASHINGTON POST "Outlook" piece, "My Choice," an essay explaining University of Alabama at Birmingham medical student Rozalyn Farmer Love's coming to terms with being "pro-choice.")

The journalistic question is whether today’s turnaround is an aberration or whether these newspapers understand the responsibility to exercise disinterested journalism.

I would just hope that journalists and editors at the POST and SUN, particularly the latter, take some pride in the quality their pages reveal today. One day does not a trend make, but a journey of one thousand miles must begin with a single step. For the SUN the journey may be a couple thousand miles.

--Professor Vatz teaches an advanced course, Media Criticism, at Towson University

More below the fold.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Prosecutors and Judges Responsible for Arundel Mills Safety

Within the past week, the Arundel Mills area once again became the epicenter for armed robbers. Sadly, it's an all too familiar scene in Western Anne Arundel County. In response to rash a recent robberies, County Executive John Leopold has initiated a "Police Division of Community Relations" at Arundel Mills. In reality, such a display provides little more than a dog and pony show. Simply put, there aren't enough resources in Anne Arundel County to provide a police officer to properly supervise every square inch of Arundel Mills Mall.

Besides, police can arrest violent criminals all day long. If the State's Attorney and Judiciary don't take these matters seriously, all efforts to apprehend suspects become fruitless. Just this week, Rashad Edward Quarles, of Prince Georges County, allegedly used a firearm to rob a man of his wallet. Luckily, Quarles remained in the Arundel Mills area and eventually found himself under arrest. As of today, Quarles has been charged with charged with robbery, armed robbery, use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, theft under $500, reckless endangerment, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

It'll be interesting to see what charges Quarles ultimately ends up being convicted of. All too often, the Prosecutors will plead down the most serious charges. In turn, when a defendant pleads guilty on the less serious count, judges such as Pam North or William Mulford will usually impose a grossly inadequate sentence.

If the State's Attorney and Judges were serious about protecting our community, both would strive to ensure convicts receive the maximum sentence possible. After all, both entities are elected. Hence, their loyalty should lie with the law abiding voters, not some defense counsel they may have went to law school with.

By the same token, our County Executive should use his semi-weekly Guest Column in the Capital to call attention to Judges and State's Attorney's that allow serious crimes to be brushed under the rug. Such an effort on his part would show he's committed to giving more than his usual lip service to a serious epidemic.

Going forward, I pledge to better expose the wrongs being perpetrated upon innocent victims. It's time to hold people accountable for crime, including those responsible for pursuing and dispensing justice.


More below the fold.

Droppping the F-Bomb

Ron Radosh a prominent scholar of the American left (a former communist turned conservative) has this regarding left wing scholar Martin Sklar.

Moreover, Sklar is concerned, as he writes, that Obama will make “central to his presidency” what he calls “proto-statist structures characteristic of fascist politics- that is, ’social service’ political organizations operating extra-electorally and also capable of electoralengagement,” that will lead to “party-state systems…in which the party is the state.” Thus, he notes that during the campaign, Obama favored armed public service groups that could be used for homeland security, that would tie leadership bureaucracies to him through the unions and groups like ACORN.

Liberal Fascism indeed.

More below the fold.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Baltimore Sun Rejects Editorialist Column

Linked here is a Ron Smith column the Baltimore Sun would not publish. Although both Smith and the Sun assured us that the purposely controversial radio host would have autonomy to write whatever he chooses, they felt the need to reject this piece for whatever reason. I encourage everyone to read it and judge for themselves whether censorship was justified in this instance.


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Thursday, June 4, 2009

President Barack Obama in Egypt: “A New Beginning” Through a Channeling of JFK

--Richard E. Vatz

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt, was tentatively titled (and called for) “A New Beginning” in American-Muslim relations. His plea echoed his rhetorical hero John F. Kennedy’s call for such generally for America in the latter’s Inaugural forty-eight plus years ago. In addition President Obama’s speech in Egypt today, calling for a mutual respect and understanding of American and Muslim mutual interest, but realizing that such perceptual changes would not occur overnight, was reminiscent of President Kennedy’s American University Address speech in 1963 in which he called for a new mutual understanding between the Soviet Union and the United States.

President Obama’s speech established personal identification between America's new president and the Muslim world, beginning with his opening of “assalaamu alaykum: “May the peace (of Allah or God) be upon you.”

He honored some of the history of Islam’s religious tolerance and racial equality. He avoided making the case against Islamic countries’ denial of freedom and incarceration of dissidents.

He warned against stereotypes of and on both sides, but throughout gave no rhetorical ground to Islamic extremists, who, he noted pointedly, have killed mostly Muslims. He gave up too much ground, in this observer’s opinion, when he implied a false equality between the Palestinian resentment of the creation of Israel and the relentless attacks and Israeli sovereignty-denying of Hamas.

President Obama indirectly but unmistakably attacked the presidency of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its “ignorant” Holocaust denial – perhaps a subtle way to influence that election? Good.

The key question left by the mostly excellent address is what will the measureable consequences be? The speech engendered a harsh response from Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who vowed in a speech before President Obama’s (at a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who spawned Iran's 1979 anti-American Islamic revolution ) that “People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa...hate America from the bottom of their heart..."

Just as the dumb cliché falsely argues that “it takes two to make a fight,” American cannot unilaterally make peace with Iran, al Qaeda and/or North Korea. If President Obama’s “new beginning” makes a measurable difference in the behavior of those who, like Hamas, will not even recognize Israel or those, like Iran, who insist on acquiring nuclear weapons, a one-sided rapprochement will be insufficient.

Unlike President Kennedy, some of President Obama’s “extremists” are so nihilistic that he doesn’t have the luxury of even speculating that their ultimate goals and wishes are the same as ours. Even with the Soviets it took a Ronald Reagan to stand up to their war preparations to allow for the wining of the cold war.

Overall, however: with some caveats regarding too much false self-abnegation, President Obama’s address is a good, sincere test of our adversaries’ desire to forge “a new beginning” of peace.

--Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eating their Money

Every time Superintendent Kevin Maxwell kvetches about the lack of funding for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, remember this:

Next year, parents won't have to ask. A feature of a new software system coming to county schools will allow parents to look online and see whether their children are really buying a balanced hot lunch or surviving on ice cream and cookies.

"Parents are going to love it," said Jodi Risse, supervisor of food and nutrition services in county schools.

The Board of Education is paying $283,643 for the new system from Georgia-based Horizon Software. It will replace the current system used in county schools, which is more than 20 years old, Risse said.

It works like this: Instead of handing out lunch money every day, parents can log in to an online program and use a Visa, MasterCard or e-check to put money in their child's account. Then students use their student ID in the cafeteria to access the account and pay for lunch.

Meanwhile, parents can go back into the same online system and see an itemized list - just like a credit-card statement - of what their child bought.

"It's usually lunch, lunch, lunch, but then (you see) every a la carte item, ice cream, cookies or chips," said Tina Bennett, a director with Horizon.

I cannot possibly fathom a more ridiculous use of $283,643 from the school budget than this.

Amazingly, a similar system is already in place in county public schools; it's called the "brown bag" program, where parents actually make a meal for their child and send them to school with it. It gives the parent immediate access to foods their child is consuming at lunch, involves parents in the lives of their kids, and (more importantly) it costs nothing to me as a taxpayer.

Anne Arundel Public Schools have absolutely no responsibility to be the food police to parents. While I'm appalled by the waste of money this program is, I'm not surprised given the fiscal irresponsibility shown by Maxwell and our unelected Board of Education, particularly when you consider that this system costs as much as the salaries of several teachers.....


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Liberty and the Future of the GOP

Shikha Dalmia’s piece at Reason, Dear GOP Please Choose Liberty, makes the case for Republicans and conservatives to embrace liberty.

So what should the Grand Old Party do to resurrect itself enough to mount some semblance of resistance to the advancing Democratic juggernaut? The answer is that it needs intellectual coherence around a powerful idea, and that idea should be liberty. This is a principle that is both strong enough to intellectually moor the party in the way that those who want a "purer" GOP desire—and grand enough to appeal to a broad swath of the population, as those who advocate a more Big Tent approach recommend.

Dalima takes us through the well told tale of how George W. Bush combined the worst anti-liberty elements from both social conservatives and the statist left—a critique with which I agree.

However, Dalima’s analysis then proceeds to go off the rails.

In fact, F. A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who did more than anyone in the 20th Century to fight socialism and revive the cause of liberty, urged conservatives nearly half a century ago in his essay, "Why I Am Not a Conservative," to find another name—one that emphasizes liberty—to describe themselves. There is an inherent tension between conservatism and liberty, he pointed out, which in a "conservative" party can't reliably be resolved in favor of liberty.Conservatives of course dismiss this tension. America's institutions are built on principles of liberty, they claim, therefore defending them means defending liberty. But labels shape self-understanding—and the term conservatism shifts the emphasis from defending America because it is the land of liberty to defending liberty because it is American….

But to truly become the party of liberty, conservatives have to accept liberty not just in name but also in attitude. They can't be the party of liberty if they reject the consequences of liberty. This means they have to internalize the notion that leaving individuals free to incrementally revise existing institutions in response to shifting human needs adds to—not subtracts from—the overall social well-being. To put it in economics terms, liberty produces positive—not negative—externalities. It
doesn't destroy existing culture, community, and country, but rather produces what Hayek called "spontaneous order," which, without bloodshed, allows the old and decrepit ways to be replaced by new and better ones. In short, they have to unabashedly welcome progress and finally purge the ghost of William F. Buckley, who keeps telling them to "stand athwart history and cry stop."

No. Conservatives don’t dismiss this tension, some may have forgotten it, but it is this very tension that helped forge the modern conservative movement. The history Buckley stood athwart was the march of Soviet communism abroad and creeping statism at home, in defense of the same principles of liberty as Hayek. Buckely’s genius in founding National Review was that he brought together traditionalists and libertarians, including radical libertarian Murray Rothbard. In the mid 1950s, Buckley along with Frank Meyer formulated the idea of fusionism. Fusionism simply put is libertarian means for traditionalist ends. Meyer understood the importance of traditionalist emphasis on protecting the values and traditions, which constitute Western culture. He synthesized the libertarian principle of human freedom with the traditional end of preserving that which is worthy of preserving in our society. This consensus was, as he put it, “reason operating within tradition,” and that this ordered liberty fit squarely within the tradition of the American founding.

Fusionism didn’t end the fundamental disagreements inherent between conservatives and libertarians, but it did lead to the later electoral success of Ronald Reagan and the conservative movement that in the end served both the cause of liberty and reasserting those timeless values into our political and cultural spheres of American life.

Many critics use Buckley’s “stand athwart” line out of context against him. However, Buckley told Reason—Dalima’s employer— that he shares “about 90 percent of the views of most libertarians.” If you doubt that see his condemnation of the drug war.
However, Buckley also understood that liberty must be ordered to preserve that which is worth preserving. In that same interview he also said:

Now if, for instance, a society feels that its attachment to that society is substantially vitiated in virtue of the toleration, let’s say, of a movie based on a comedy treatment of Dachau, it tends to lose self-esteem. And to the extent that it loses self-esteem, it stands in danger of reducing that which is its principal resource in matters of emergency. An America that hates itself cannot possibly defend itself against the Soviet Union or anybody else.

…I’m talking about morale. A morale is not the kind of stuff you see at a football game. I’m talking about a morale in the sense of urging you or me voluntarily to make sacrifices for the survival of something we cherish. Now if we don’t cherish it, then we’re not disposed to make any sacrifices.

Yes, Dalima is right that the GOP and some conservatives need to reacquaint themselves with liberty. Yet we can’t champion pure liberty at the cost of abandoning that fundamental—and correct—conservative insight that there are values and traditions that need to be defended and preserved. In the age of Obama and the resurgent progressive god-state both libertarians and conservatives are in the wilderness, similar territory that both Buckley and Hayek found themselves after World War II. Conservatives and libertarians will have thier arguments about core ideas and principles. (Progressives have none, other than the naked will to power) but that will only make both stronger and eventually form a successful politics that can defeat the rising tide of collectivism. Indeed we've seen a glimmer of some possible future consensus on the right concerning gay marriage, from no less a conservative than Dick Cheney.

Purging the lessons of William F. Buckley and fusionism, the man and the ideas, which brought conservatives and libertarians together, however is not the way forward.

h/t Jim Manzi for the Buckley interview.

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