Saturday, October 31, 2009

Typical Democrat Tactics In Race For Annapolis Mayor

The city of Annapolis will conduct its general election this Tuesday, November 3rd. Voters in Annapolis, both anecdotally and as represented by polling, are decidedly against anything that resembles the past 8 years of leadership in the city.

The Independent candidate, Chris Fox, can claim complete lack of involvement in the status quo, as he comes from a business background and has not served in city government. The Republican candidate, Dave Cordle, has sat on the city council for the past 8 years and has made great efforts to inform voters that the political deck was stacked against him, and his voice of dissent was routinely overruled. The Democrat candidate, Josh Cohen, was on the city council for 5 of those 8 years (before leaving for county council in the middle of his term as alderman, and now running for Mayor in the middle of his county council term), but routinely tries to distance himself from outgoing Mayor Ellen Moyer.

The point is, each candidate is trying to be the candidate of change, and the candidate that brings people together. But judging by a recent campaign piece by Cohen, he is not the candidate who will deliver. Take a look:





















There are 8 wards in the city of Annapolis, and Democrats are running for election or re-election in 7 of them. The piece, which most clearly features the President, urges voters to "continue our progress" by voting for Cohen, and the 3 black Democrats running for city council. The 4 white Democrats running for city council are excluded.

I live outside of city limits and am not a registered Democrat, so I doubt that I would be on the list to receive this literature. I don't know if any city voters have actually received this piece or will receive it in the next couple of days. Although you can't see it from this picture, the authority line on the piece reads "Cohen for Mayor". So you're left with one of two explanations: election fraud from someone claiming to represent the campaign......or politics as usual.


More below the fold.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Obama Administration War on Fox News: Reaction of the Liberal Press in General and THE BALTIMORE SUN in Particular

--Richard E. Vatz


Journalistic reactions to the fight between the Obama Administration and Fox News will not go away, and they shouldn’t. No presidential administration in Washington in my lifetime has ever tried to censor a network because that administration disagreed with the alleged politics of that network. There have been times when a network’s representatives have not been called on at a news conference, and there have been times when specific reporters have been left off of campaign planes, but the recent full-scale onslaught against Fox News by the Obama Administration has been as undemocratic an endeavor as I have witnessed. It is unprecedented.

For a brief summary of the Administration's more egregious actions, let’s go to MSNBC: “Obama avoided ‘Fox News Sunday’ when he visited five Sunday morning news shows last month; three aides carried the administration's message on Afghanistan, health care and the economy [recently] to ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, but not Fox…” No major Administration official has appeared on Fox News Sunday in months. Verbal attacks have been legion.

When asked why the Obama Administration singles out Fox, Director of Communication Anita Dunn has either demurred, saying she doesn’t want to get into specific network comparisons, or has said, “…let's not pretend they're [Fox] a news network the way CNN is.” On an otherwise excellent “Reliable Sources” segment, host Howard Kurtz didn’t question whether CNN was an unbiased network.

But that leads one to this line of analysis: one of the interesting components of this unseemly news managing and censoring display has been to observe how traditionally liberal news sources have handled and reacted to it.

There has been a not insubstantial offense taken by even some very liberal journalists. As the Huffington Post pointed out, “Even on MSNBC's ‘Morning Joe’ Monday, the panelists largely came out against the White House's war against Fox News.” Less far-left networks have criticized the Obama Administration's totalitarian tactics as well..

How about my Baltimore’s The Baltimore Sun? The Sun, in contrast to its style earlier in this decade, addressed the matter head-on, albeit with a 12-second delay. Their editorial, “Obama v. Fox News,” October 28, 2009, opposed the Administration’s censorship of Fox News.

However...

The editorial contains a most selective look at The Baltimore Sun’s journalistic ethics in the last decade, a history which represents an ignominious history of ideologically generated journalism, corrected to a not insignificant extent in the last year.

The editorial in question ostensibly addresses the hypocrisy alleged by a reader respecting the Sun’s lack of criticism (now just delayed criticism) of the Obama Administration’s current attacks and periodic blacklisting of Fox News in view of the fact that it (the Sun) jumped on the Robert L. Ehrlich Administration for what the Sun paraphrases as “similar tactics.”

The editorial’s analogy, “And just as Mr. Ehrlich was wrong to exclude Sun employees from talking to state employees, Mr. Obama can’t kick Fox News out of press events” is simply incorrect. The Ehrlich Administration disallowed state employees only from talking to specific Sun journalists, due to their alleged ethical infractions. One of these was a columnist who was subsequently fired for his journalistically unethical practices. The Ehrlich Administration never excluded the Baltimore Sun from coverage.

More egregious than the false analogy is the editorial’s ignoring of the Sun’s own blacklisting of conservatives critics in the early to mid 2000’s, a blacklisting perpetrated by several editorial and op-ed editors, the worst of whom I shall not mention so as not to offend worshippers of Dianne Donovan. These journalistic outrages, analogous to, but worse than, the Obama Administration’s censorship, manifested itself in multiple ways, including this representative illustration of outrageous, ideological pseudo-journalism: in the entire 2006 election year the Sun’s op-ed page printed not one positive word about the Republican nominee for governor, Robert L. Ehrlich, by name.

The good news is that the newspaper has improved – it had to.

It’s also good that the improved Sun opposes Obama Administration undemocratic censorship and attacks on Fox News, but it’s a little sad that they need to do so through a mendacious analogy to the Ehrlich Administration.



Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University


More below the fold.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harry’s Shell Game

By Ellen Sauerbrey

After months of work by Senate Committees, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stepped up to the microphone and pronounced that in his opinion ““the best way to move forward is to include a public option with the opt-out provision for states.” Though there is little understanding of how an opt-out provision would work, it resurrected the seemingly dead government plan that, if enacted, will eventually destroy the private insurance market.

The inclusion of a public option in the Senate bill was a double cross that immediately resulted in Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, the only Republican who was lending a “bipartisan fig leaf” to any of the Democrat’s health care plans, withdrawing her support. Liberal Democrat Chuck Shumer lauded Senator Reid who, he said, “showed just how deep his commitment is” to the public option.

Reid knows that without the illusion of a bipartisan plan, he is likely to lose several middle of the road Democrats, especially those who must face the voters next year. Senator Joe Lieberman signaled weeks ago his concern that Obama was trying to do too much too fast in a weak economy and has now said he is likely to join a Republican fillibuster.

The likelihood of Reid getting the needed sixty votes to pass a bill out of the Senate with a public option, with or without the new gimmick of a “state opt- out” remains murky at best. So what is his motivation?

The Senate leader is facing a very difficult re-election campaign with polls showing him running behind Republican contenders. His liberal base, in and out of the Senate, demands a public option. The opt- out provision may be a meaningless gimmick but it allows Reid to appear strong with Democrat activist groups back home and perhaps gives cover to worried Democrats.

No one knows the language of the Senate bill, but it is certain that the public option will draw the greatest attention and debate. Even if Reid can’t get the votes for what will become, in reality, a government health care system, he will be credited by his leftist supporters in the Senate, as well as back home for having given it his best. He can then offer up Senator Snowe’s trigger, regain “bipartisan support”, and attract nervous Democrats.

All the while, with the media focusing on the fight over “public option”, “opt-out”, and “trigger” provisions, other equally destructive parts of the bill will be overshadowed.

As Harry’s shell game is played in Congress, voters need to keep an eye on the ball. The problems with this “reform” go far beyond the issue of a public option. With or without the public option, it will be at minimum a trillion dollar proposal with a new “Health Choices Commissioner dictating health insurance plans.

With or without a public option, it forces everyone to buy a government dictated health insurance plan, imposes new job-killing taxes on employers, slashes Medicare for seniors, underpays doctors and hospitals, limits the deductibility of medical expenses on income taxes, imposes billions in new fees on manufacturers of life saving medical devices, creates taxpayer subsidies for abortion and illegal aliens, and leaves millions uninsured.

Harry’s shell game is about his tough re-election prospects in Nevada. Many think he is misreading his state. Unless the people of Nevada really want this new dependency on government, they are about to bury him in “you are fired” pink slips for attempting to destroy the finest health care system in the world.


More below the fold.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The MSM gets what it Deserves

by Robert Farrow at the Baltimore Reporter

It could not happen to a nicer bunch of people.

CNN’s Ratings Falling Faster than Obama’s

from Powerline

CNN, which pioneered cable news, now rates dead last among cable news networks. Prime time ratings are down 68 percent since last year. Of course, much of that is due to 2008 being an election year, but CNN’s fall relative to the other news networks can’t be blamed on the election cycle.

Can some of CNN’s decline, at least, be attributed to the network’s liberalism in general and its attacks on and sniggering denigrations of, normal Americans? It’s hard to tell. But sniggerer-in-chief Anderson Cooper’s ratings are sliding into the toilet. (The midsummer blip was Michael Jackson’s death.):

CNN apparently has tried to market its on-air personalities by having them participate in the television show Jeopardy, thereby showing off their superior intelligence. That hasn’t worked out too well either. If the network really gets desperate, it could consider covering the news straight. But that isn’t likely: look how many newspapers have preferred to go bankrupt rather than abandon their liberal bias.

And the fun is not limited to the Communist News Network.

US newspaper circulation down 10.6 percent as rate of decline accelerates amid rising prices

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Circulation at newspapers shrank at an accelerated pace in the past six months, driven in part by stiff price increases imposed by publishers scrambling to offset rapidly eroding advertising sales. Average daily circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers plunged 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month stretch last year, according to figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

It’s the largest drop recorded so far during the past decade’s steady decline in paid readership — a span that has coincided with an explosion of online news sources that don’t charge readers for access. Many newspapers also have been reducing delivery to far-flung locales and increasing prices to get more money out of their remaining sales.

As both publications indicated earlier in the month, The Wall Street Journal surpassed USA Today as the top-selling newspaper in the United States. The Journal’s average Monday-Friday circulation edged up 0.6 percent to 2.02 million — making it the only daily newspaper in the top 25 to see an increase.

USA Today suffered the worst erosion in its 27-year history, dropping more than 17 percent to 1.90 million. The newspaper, owned by Gannett Co., has blamed reductions in travel for much of the circulation shortfall, because many of its single-copy sales come in airports and hotels. The New York Times stayed in third place at 927,851, down 7.3 percent from the same period of 2008. Its Sunday edition remained the top weekend seller at 1.4 million, a decrease of 2.6 percent.

Sunday circulation at all the newspapers covered in the ABC survey fell 7.5 percent in the latest six-month span. The circulation numbers are just the latest sign of distress in the shrinking newspaper industry. To compensate, many of the nation’s largest publishers are raising the subscription rates and newsstand prices for their print editions.


The link is here.

And this will not change. Faced with the death of their profession, they still cannot help but report the news with bias.



More below the fold.

Breaking: Cavey drops out of MDGOP Chair race

This evening Maryland First Vice-Chair Chris Cavey announced he was dropping out of the race to succeed Dr. Jim Pelura as state party chairman:

Over the past month I have traveled across Maryland speaking to Central Committees and Republican activists about the potential our party has in 2010. Most folks agree we have an opportunity to make gains electing Republicans and would be negligent to miss our chance by not being unified as a Party.

Last evening I listened as a group of Committee members worked through the trials and tribulations of a new voting method to be considered for the upcoming convention. It was a wonderful example of what party members should be doing, problem solving, and that made me think about the Chairman’s race.

Roughly fifty-three weeks from today is the 2010 General Election, we need to be unified, in full blown campaign mode and not bickering about the past. The current race for Chairman is very close and I fear the effects of a close race will only further serve to divide us as a party.

Effective today I am withdrawing from the MDGOP Chairman’s race. Party unity and winning elections in 2010 is important. I will pledge to each of you to dedicate my time and effort by helping the next MDGOP Chair re-build and re-unify our party for 2010 wins.

Thanks to each of you who have worked for my campaign and had faith in my leadership abilities. Please realize that this was not an easy decision for me to make. Long-term, however, we will be ahead of the game for our party’s future and we will create more victories by working together… starting from today. (Emphasis in original).

This also dovetails well with a release I received from another contender, Daniel Vovak. He's crying foul about the chairman of the nominating committee, Montgomery County GOP head Mark Uncapher:
Following the resignation of embattled Chairman James Pelura, Daniel "The Whig Man" Vovak has called for the resignation of the chairman of the Republican Nominating Committee, following a lapse in Mark Uncapher's ethics.

Uncapher holds two chairmanships within the Maryland Republican Party. Foremost, he is the chairman of the nominating committee for the next chairman. Secondly, he is the chairman of the Montgomery County Central Committee. Uncapher's primary job is to facilitate the process for about 270 central committeemen to elect the next chairman, who will be: Daniel Vovak, Chris Cavey, or Audrey Scott. However, Vovak has alleged that Uncapher is acting unethically by writing a letter of support for Audrey Scott, in spite of being the person who should be neutral in the process. Regardless, he believes Uncapher should continue as Montgomery County Chairman.

"Mark Uncapher's job is to find nominees, not to hand-pick them," says Vovak, a movie producer and ghostwriter in Bethesda. "Since Uncapher is in charge of the nominating committee I asked him today to write a letter of nomination for me and he said he will only support Audrey Scott. My position is that Uncapher should support all candidates who want to be chairman or he should support no one. It is absolutely unethical for the chairman of the nominating committee to single out a specific candidate while pretending to be neutral with the others. If Uncapher feels so strongly about Audrey Scott then he needs to resign because he is definitely not a neutral arbitrator."

The rules of the Party require a chairman-nominee to provide three nomination letters from committeemen in three different counties to be submitted to the nominating committee for vote by the whole committee. On Tuesday, Vovak asked Uncapher for his nomination letter and was flatly denied it. Uncapher's bias extends to the website for the Montgomery County Republicans, which lists only Audrey Scott as a candidate for chairman, but not Chris Cavey or himself.

"It's issues like this that frustrate me as a Republican," says Vovak. "The next chairman needs to raise funds and stop airing our dirty laundry."

I think Vovak has a legitimate point, but Uncapher can salvage his credibility by bending over backwards to assure anyone nominated with the correct process gets a fair shake.

To refute one point made by Vovak, I also looked at the Montgomery County website and noticed it had omissions for both Larry Hogan and Mike Pappas in the Governor's race (along with missing Cavey in the Chairman race), so Vovak isn't the only one who should be miffed with the process. Then again, we who look for links are only human and I'm sure I haven't found every candidate running locally either.

Returning to Cavey, though, the item I found second most interesting in his release was that he "listened as a group of Committee members worked through the trials and tribulations of a new voting method to be considered for the upcoming convention." Personally, I see no trials or tribulations with scrapping the LCD system previously used and going to a simple "one man, one vote" system. I suppose the participants from counties who were given outsized importance with the LCD voting method may find change objectionable, but I don't!

(In an aside, it so happens that I played secretary at last night's WCRC meeting because our normal secretary was a participant in the call; hopefully he'll have good news for me next time we meet.)

So Cavey is out. Barring a nomination from the floor, it's likely Ehrlich administration official Audrey Scott will serve as the lightning rod for scrutiny and criticism over the next year as an interim party Chair. So the convention may have gotten a lot more dull, but we'll see.

Crossposted on monoblogue.


More below the fold.

Wake Up GOP

This is why you lose elections.


by Robert Farrow at the Baltimore Reporter

GOP officials: We won’t abandon Dede

The National Republican Congressional Committee remains committed to embattled GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava in the upstate New York House special election, even as many of the party’s top names throw their support to Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.

Two party officials tell POLITICO that the NRCC will continue to air TV ads propping up Scozzafava in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 contest and plans to keep up a near relentless barrage of press releases slamming Hoffman.

Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman who supports gay marriage, abortion rights and has a close relationship with leading labor officials in her region, has been the target of sustained criticism from conservatives who claim she is too liberal for them to support her candidacy.

Hoffman, an accounting executive, is attracting an ever-growing group of conservative backers, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) have also endorsed the third-party candidate.

Public and private polls have shown Hoffman gaining on Scozzafava but both trail the Democratic nominee, attorney Bill Owens.

The link is here.

What the fools at the helm of the wayward GOP fail to realize is that their whole strategy is wrong?

Why? Yes, it is true that more people identify themselves as Dems then Republicans:

Fewer People Identify As Republicans Than Ever Before In Post Poll

Reporting on the new ABC/Washington Post poll has mostly focused on support for a public health care option. But the poll also shows that, while Republicans have succeeded in stonewalling Democratic initiatives in Congress, they have not managed to rebuild their party.

Only 20 percent of respondents identified themselves as Republicans — the lowest number since the paper starting asking the question.

But it is also true that:

Conservatives Maintain Edge as Top Ideological Group
Compared with 2008, more Americans “conservative” in general, and on issues

PRINCETON, NJ — Conservatives continue to outnumber moderates and liberals in the American populace in 2009, confirming a finding that Gallup
first noted in June. Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.

Which is Why:

73% of GOP Voters Say Congressional Republicans Have Lost Touch With Their Base

President Obama told an audience at a Democratic Party fundraiser Wednesday night that Republicans often “do what they’re told,” but GOP voters don’t think their legislators listen enough to them.

Just 15% of Republicans who plan to vote in 2012 state primaries say the party’s representatives in Congress have done a good job of representing Republican values.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey
finds that 73% think Republicans in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters from throughout the nation. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

And which is why the GOP continues to do poorly in almost every poll.

It’s as simple as that.


More below the fold.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Red Maryland and the Ehrlichs Tomorrow on WBAL

Brian Griffiths and I will be on the Bob and Kendel Ehrlich show on WBAL AM 1090 tomorrow from 9:30-10:30AM. We will be discussing O'Malley's latest energy failure and budget issues.

Listen live or online at wbal.com


More below the fold.

Governor Ehrlich Partners with MDCALA to Promote Jury Service

By Todd D. Lamb of Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Thomas Jefferson described our citizen jury system as “the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” Jury service is an essential act of citizenship and a vital element of our democracy.

Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (MDCALA) has teamed up with former Governor Bob Ehrlich to encourage Maryland citizens to answer the call when summoned for jury service and take part in this important American right.

Last week, Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (MDCALA) released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting jury service across the state. The 30-second video features former Governor Robert Ehrlich and local Marine veteran Sam White.

In the PSA, White describes his own military service abroad and urges Marylanders to serve their country here at home by participating on a jury when called. Gov. Ehrlich points to recent findings of a legislative study which shows jury service summons response rates to be as low as 37% in some Maryland jurisdictions.

The PSA will air on FOX 45 WBFF-TV in Baltimore as part of their regular PSA schedule. MDCALA also hopes to have the spot broadcast by other stations around the state.

Serving on a jury is an important way all citizens can help fight lawsuit abuse and ensure that our courts are used for justice, not greed. A robust jury system is essential to protect our rights as Americans and ensure that everyone is treated fairly in the courtroom.

You can view the PSA video on MDCALA’s website: www.mdcala.org.


More below the fold.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

COMPULSORY INSURANCE –ANOTHER TROJAN HORSE

By Ellen Sauerbrey

Bookies are making bets on whether some version of ObamaCare will pass this year, but with five bills floating around, there is no betting on what it will look like.

The threat of a "public option" has generated the hottest protest with voters understanding that the unfair competition of a government plan will quickly destroy the private health insurance system. By contrast some conservatives have expressed support for Senate Finance Committee proposal requiring that everyone must purchase insurance. After all, they reason, isn't it just a matter of fairness to expect everyone to bear responsibility for their own care?

In reality, this is a Trojan Horse that will give the government as much power to control the health care system as the "public option". It is also unconstitutional. But then there is nothing in the text of the constitution that gives the Congress any authority to regulate health care. However, this mandate breaks new ground.

For the first time, the federal government would be ordering Americans to buy a product or service they do not voluntarily choose to purchase. They would be required to purchase health care insurance acceptable to the Health Choices Administrator. This is quite different than government regulation of an activity that individuals have chosen to undertake. Failure to comply with the mandate would result in a tax collected by the IRS but the mandate is itself a hidden tax.

A government bureaucrat would be empowered to determine what coverage a policy must have to comply with the law. Many would be required to purchase health insurance that they cannot afford or that does not best meet their individual needs. For example, many healthy young people need nothing more than a high deductible catastrophic policy. They can afford to pay the doctor for their flu shot or a sprained ankle. For them, insurance is protection against the really big stuff.

What would compulsory insurance look like? Candidate Obama described his idea of "meaningful coverage" as being at least as good as the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. One thing that can be assured is that lobbying would be intense to include dozens of mandated benefits in the plan. For decades health care provider groups have demonstrated their effectiveness in expanding mandates at the state level. These mandates have helped to drive the cost of insurance through the roof in many states, forcing consumers to buy a Cadillac plan when all they may want or need is a basic stripped down Model T Ford.

This is precisely the problem that Massachusetts experienced after the passage of the Romney compulsory insurance plan. Lobbyists convinced legislators to make the mandatory insurance more and comprehensive and more and more expensive. Legislators have proposed requirements for over seventy additional coverages. A federal plan will experience the same political pressures to require consumers to buy increasingly comprehensive insurance and will effectively eliminate low cost and catastrophic plans.

One of the few innovations that has given consumers the incentive to utilize health care more carefully is the Health Savings Account. (HSAs) These plans have a higher deductible but allow families to save what they do not need to use annually. As would be the case with a large majority of plans currently offered by employers, HSAs would not comply with the dictates of the Health Choices Czar.

If the Massachusetts experience tells us anything, it is that compulsory insurance premiums will drive up costs, humongous government subsidies to fund insurance for those who cannot afford it will follow, and the bureaucracy will resort to price controls and rationed care as government expenditures skyrocket well beyond projections.

Sadly, much of the insurance industry bought into the compulsory coverage scheme when it seemed to guarantee them tens of millions of new captive customers. However when it became apparent that the fine for noncompliance had to be lowered to make it politically acceptable, insurers were faced with the prospect that many individuals would pay the fine and buy insurance only when faced with serious medical costs.

Now the insurance industry has turned on the plan and issued a report that the Senate Finance Committee bill will increase insurance rates. Angry Democrats are threatening repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act that defines insurance as a state controlled activity.

Industry attempts at appeasement, in hopes that the alligator won't eat them first, usually backfire. Government compulsion in the market place will gobble up insurers first and then leave consumers as the ultimate victims.

cross posted


More below the fold.

Live, Local, Lazy Reporting

The AP and WBAL TV are reporting that the “watchdog” groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over Baltimore developer Edward St. John’s contributions to the Maryland GOP and Michael Steele’s 2006 Senate campaign.

The St. John story is old news.

However, what concerns me is CREW, and the AP reporter’s inaccurate labeling of what the organization is. CREW is indeed a watchdog site, but it is a left leaning and despite it’s claims a largely partisan watchdog site. It exclusively targets Republicans in its FEC complaints. CREW’s concern for ethics also appears situational. For example in May of 2004 it filed an FEC complaint against ATF chief Grover Norquist and then RNC Chair Ken Mehlman because Norquist allegedly shared a list of conservative activists with Mehlman. However, CREW could not be bothered to file a complaint on a similar violation involving Barack Obama and an ACORN affiliate.

To be sure Crew has made a stink about John Murtha and William Jefferson, but their malfeasance is so blatant that not CREW could ignore it. And the fact remains that CREW’s targets are predominately Republicans.

A look through CREW’s IRS 990 forms, via Guidestar, shows that it has operating funds in the millions of dollars. However, you don’t know where the money comes from. The reason for that is because CREW’s main donors do not want their identities disclosed. CREW is funded by members of the secretive Democracy Alliance. According to a 2006 Washington Post story:


A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing to submit to its extensive screening process and its demands for secrecy.

These include the Center for American Progress, a think tank with an unabashed partisan edge, as well as Media Matters for America, which tracks what it sees as conservative bias in the news media. Several alliance donors are negotiating a major investment in Air America, a liberal talk-radio network.

But the large checks and demanding style wielded by Democracy Alliance organizers in recent months have caused unease among Washington's community of Democratic-linked organizations. The alliance has required organizations that receive its endorsement to sign agreements shielding the identity of donors. Public interest groups said the alliance represents a large source of undisclosed and unaccountable political influence…

The goal was to invest in groups that could be influential in building what activists call "political infrastructure" -- institutions that can support Democratic causes not simply in the next election but for years to come.

Those who make the cut have prospered. The Center for American Progress (CAP), which is led by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, received $5 million in the first round because it was seen as a liberal version of the Heritage Foundation, which blossomed as a conservative idea shop in the Reagan years, said one person closely familiar with alliance operations. CAP officials declined to comment.

Likewise, a Democracy Alliance blessing effectively jump-started Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group committed to targeting "government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests." Alliance officials see CREW as a possible counterweight to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch, which filed numerous lawsuits against Clinton administration officials in the 1990s. A CREW spokesman declined to comment.



Situational ethics and responsibility indeed. CREW does not appear to be interested in filing complaints about the campaign finance schemes devised by it's own funders.

Other Democracy Alliance funding recipients include the Sierra Club, People for the American Way EMILY’s List, Progressive Majority and… wait for it… ACORN.

George Soros and progressive millionaire activist Tim Gill planted the seed money for Democracy Alliance, and the donor list is a who’s who among the constellation of financiers of left wing advocacy groups. The SEIU is an institutional member and according to the Post report pays a $50,000 annual fee and agrees to spend at least $1 million annually on “alliance backed efforts.”

CREW’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, is a former counsel for prominent congressional Democrats John Conyers, Chuck Schumer and then senator Joe Biden. Deputy Director and Communications Director Naomi Seligman was Media Matters former communications chief. Prior to joining CREW, senior investigator Ryan Jham’s previous job was with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Furthermore, the CREW press release also noticeably omits the identification of the Maryland state candidates St. John “contemporaneously” contributed to in 2006. Those candidates would be the Democrat Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley and the Democrat Baltimore County Executive, Jim Smith.

It took me all of 20 minutes to find this information on this new fangled Internets. Wouldn’t the fact of CREW’s progressive funding sources and staffing by partisans at least lead to the AP reporter to mention that to provide an accurate picture? The least the reporter could do was insert an adjective or two (left leaning, liberal) that accurately describes CREW.

Does anyone seriously think that if it was Judicial Watch filing a complaint against Peter Lewis or Goerge Soros the AP would not have slapped the “conservative” label in the lede. Of course not, because, in 2007 the AP did exactly that:


WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative public interest group has sued the National Archives to obtain records from Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as head of a White House task force on health care during her husband's administration.

Judicial Watch, which has been seeking access to Clinton's White House records since April 2006, announced the filing of the lawsuit on Monday claiming the National Archives has failed to make records available or to indicate when access to the records would be allowed.


Oh well, MSM


More below the fold.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Battle Continues

The saga over the Obama Worship in Howard County continues to percolate, with WUSA TV-9 doing a story on it last night featuring Delegate Warren Miller (who was able to step in for me at the last second). And Howard County continues to either deny it, refuse to talk about it, or obfuscate what really happened depending on what day of the week it is.

Well, this Thursday the parents and taxpayers of Howard County an opportunity to speak their mind to members of the Howard County Board of Education at the Board's meeting. The meeting will be at Howard County Board of Ed HQ at 10910 Route 108 in Ellicott City, and will begin promptly at 7:30 PM. If you are a Howard County resident and wish to testify, call Kathy Hanks at (410) 313-7194 to sign-up.

It will be very interested to see if the elected Board of Education in Howard County takes a stand for indoctrination or takes a stand for education this Thursday...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

The Most Politically Evenhanded Show on National Television, CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Scores on President Barack Obama-Fox News Controversy

--Richard E. Vatz

As the media continue to be ideologically polarized in their reportage, one major network’s show comes about as close to fair, comprehensive and disinterested analysis as can be found: CNN’s "Reliable Sources" with The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz as moderator.

The issue of excellent coverage on this show, which is devoted to media criticism, comprises not just being more often than not ideologically blind, but also covering contentious media controversies fully.

"Reliable Sources" has provided superb coverage of the extant fight between the White House and Fox News. The show sported a lengthy interview two Sundays ago with Anita Dunn, the interim Director of Communications for the Obama Administration, who has directed the attack on Fox News, including consistent verbal assaults and stiffing its access to President Obama. The issue is whether the Administration is undemocratically punishing Fox News for criticism, denying it coverage and thus managing the news and promoting a controlled press.

“Reliable Sources” in two shows, October 11th and 18th, accomplished the following:

1. The first show produced some news, with Ms. Dunn admitting under hard direct questioning in the lead segment by moderator Kurtz that Administration anger at Fox News coverage was the cause for its being left out of the Sunday blitz a few weeks ago, when President Obama went on the other national talk shows, and perhaps in a recent such mini-blitz as well. The interview also sported some of Dunn’s more incendiary quotes, such as calling Fox “a wing of the Republican Party,” “a research arm and communication arm of the Republican Party,” "ideological opponents” of the Obama Administration, and then saying that when the President does appear on that network, that it will be in the role of “debat[ing] the opposition.”

2. The shows covered the two main issues: was the White House assault on Fox News journalistically ethical, and does the freezing out of Fox hurt or help that network. Neither of these issues can be neglected, and "Reliable Sources" took them both on.

3. The shows covered all major criticisms, including Glenn Beck’s (and by implication, Karl Rove’s and others’) that the Obama Administration was putting Fox News on a metaphorical “enemies list,” comparable to the actions of the now apparently detested-by-all-Republicans former President Richard Nixon. It also gave significant time to the allegation that the Administration was not -- or choosing not to be -- distinguishing between reporters and analysts and furthermore was giving a free pass to, say, MSNBC’s raft of liberal cheerleaders. The concern was raised by Kurtz that, consistent with the Administration philosophy, if and when a Republican was the Chief Executive that liberal outlets could be denied equal coverage.

“Reliable Sources” is not perfect. I have in complimenting them previously pointed out that although they usually present all political sides of issues, the majority of guests tends to be liberal. In addition there is a significant disparity of quality among the media analysts, including, for example, on the right the excellent former speechwriter for Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Amy Holmes, and The Washington Times’ Amanda Carpenter, and on the left the excellent David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun and bright media observers, otherwise not-well-known, like Lauren Ashburn of USA Today Live, (about whom I have had a positive change of heart). "Reliable Sources" guests in the two weeks of the Administration-Fox controversy were not the A-team, but they weren’t bad, and, unlike some past shows, there was not a small leftwing majority discussing the issues.

One consistently annoying problem is that the show often allows CNN to be cited as an exemplar of excellent journalism (as Dunn did, as well), despite its prevailing leftward tilt. To correct this inaccurate and strategic flattery of CNN on its own show may be a bridge too far for the CNN host, but this much is clear: "Reliable Sources" consistently presents some of the fairest, most thorough, non-insipid media analysis on major media controversies.

The ongoing “Reliable Sources” analysis of the Obama Administration-Fox News war is an example of excellence in fair and comprehensive media analysis.



Professor Vatz teaches an upper-class course titled Media Criticism at Towson University


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Choosing a Carpetbagger

Anne Arundel County Democrats must be real hard-up for candidates if this is being taken seriously:

An Annapolis-area Democrat and business executive announced Thursday that she is exploring a run for Anne Arundel County Executive.

Joanna Conti, who said she has run businesses in five different industries and a nonprofit, has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run against County Executive John R. Leopold in the 2010 election, Conti said in an interview. Leopold, a Republican, is seeking re-election.

Conti, who moved to Maryland in 2006 from Colorado, is a virtual unknown in local political circles. She has never held public office but ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004 for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Now to be fair, this is probably just somebody trying to get their name out there before the Janet Owens announces her attempt to reclaim the office. But Conti has some prominent names on her exploratory committee, including school board member and former County Council Candidate Andrew Pruski, AA Young Dems President Peter Smith, and Anne Arundel Democratic Central Committee members Ann Marie Remillard and Ann Marie Remillard.

Which leads me to two questions that need answering:
  1. Are Anne Arundel Democrats really that disinterested in four more years of Janet Owens; and,
  2. If they are, why would you hitch your wagon to a carpetbagger who has lived in Anne Arundel County for three years.
2010 could be a lot more interesting in Anne Arundel County than we first thought...

(Crossposted)


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Other People's Money

Who else is stunned by this development?

A union representing more than 30,000 Maryland state employees asked Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday to tap into the state's $750 million rainy day fund to help avoid deeper cuts to state services. Patrick Moran, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, held a news conference Thursday with dozens of union members, who held up signs that read: "It's Raining." State officials avoid using the fund, fearing the state would to lose its Triple-A bond rating, which enables Maryland to borrow money at a more favorable rate.
I am glad that the Union at least can acknowledge when it's raining, but this is one of those metaphorical time when somebody is trying to piss on your head and tell you it's raining.

The rainy day fund exists when the state is short on money. This is true. However, financial mismanagement and incompetence by Governor O'Malley and his allies in the State House is no excuse to dip into the rainy day fund. It's very easy for AFSCME to call for O'Malley to take money out of the rainy day fund because it's other people's money; money that was collected in taxes at a time in which the state was collecting more money from the taxpayers than it was spending. The money was put aside for an emergency; a real emergency.

AFSCME trying to protect its flank in order to save union jobs in a bloated state government? That's not an emergency...

Governor O'Malley would be right to refute calls to dip into the rainy day fund in an order to cover the costs of his own mistakes. But there is an opportunity in this, but only if Governor O'Malley learns the lessons from his prior mistakes, reduces state spending, and reduces the size of Maryland state government. However, I'm sure the political pressures from his union allies to spend other people's money to protect their hide will take precedence over such common sense ideas...

(Crossposted)


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Unspeakable Castillo Murders: All’s Not Well That Ends Not as Badly as It Could Have

--Richard E. Vatz

Amy Castillo makes a fair argument when she says that she must forgive her ex-spouse for his horrible murdering in a Baltimore hotel bathtub of their 3 children, Athena, 2, Austin, 4 and Anthony, 6. She says that otherwise the “bitterness” and “resentment” would consume her life. That is the only argument for forgiveness and one that could convincingly be made only by a mother of the victims in this drama. But Mrs. Castillo's personal forgiving need not affect the other citizens of Maryland.

Mark Castillo, Amy’s ex-husband, demonstrated indisputably the premeditation of his crimes when he described his meticulous murderous behavior beginning with his booking a hotel room in Baltimore via the Internet to facilitate the killings. There he held his struggling, terrified children under water for 10 minutes to guarantee their dying. Furthermore, respecting his uncomplicated, evil, knowing intent, Castillo in a tape-recorded confession detailed his careful planning of the crimes and, according to The Washington Post, “said he thought about the killings for months and that before he killed the children, he spent at least 24 hours planning how to do it...”

Castillo’s motive was not unusual: the Post references his apprising authorities of his desire to make his wife suffer and telling her before the murders that losing her children was the most effective way to create misery for the woman with whom he had had a 21-month custody battle.

It is not clear why the death penalty was not sought, as this case is preeminently qualified for such a punishment.

In January of this year, Castillo filed an insanity plea which followed an initial such filing and a public request by the murderer to plead guilty and be executed.

Judges, notoriously credulous concerning psychiatric explanation and exculpation of horrible murderers, especially if committed by unconventionally acting killers – Castillo read passages from the Bible in court and tried to commit suicide, behaviors that seem “crazy” to some judges -- almost invariably have a soft spot for such vile cretins.

In this case Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Wanda K. Heard, who wisely said she was convinced Castillo knew what he was doing when he committed the killings, not so wisely recommended that Castillo serve his 3 consecutive life terms at Patuxent Institution, a mental health correction institution in Jessup, Maryland.

Insanity verdicts are too plentiful, even if relatively uncommon. There are limits to the educating of judges who cannot believe that there are simply evil people in the world.


Professor Vatz has written on psychiatric rhetoric for over 30 years


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An Inconvenient Truth for The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun values some FOIA investigations more than others. Today lead editorial in Sun touts a Greenwire FOIA request that netted a Bush era email from the EPA to the administration.

But for those frustrated by the pseudo-science and quackery of climate change opponents who continue to bury their heads in the warming sand, the second was just as satisfying: Turns out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush was just as alarmed by climate change as the rest of the mainstream scientific community.

The infamous e-mail from the EPA that the White House refused to even open in 2007 was released this week under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Greenwire, the environmental news service. As expected, the e-mail shows that the agency, under Republican leadership, expressed the same concerns about the impact of greenhouse gases that the EPA under President Obama does today.The "U.S. and the rest of the world are experiencing the effects of climate change now," the Bush-era memo concludes. It also warns of rising sea levels, drought, violent weather, outbreaks of disease and greater numbers of heat-related deaths
.

Of course, the Sun bangs the drum over the Greenwire FOIA. However it is (in)conveniently mute over a Competitive Enterprise FOIA request, which uncovered internal emails showing that Obama’s EPA suppressed a scientific report, which punched Sherman-tank sized holes in the it’s endangerment finding regarding regulating carbon dioxide emissions
under the Clean Air Act.


This is no surprise because the Sun loves the gun-to-the-head extortion of Congress that is EPA’s Co2 endangerment finding. For the Sun such undemocratic extorition is desirable, an enlightened tyranny in pursuit progressive ends.

The Sun can label skeptics as quacks and purveyors of pseudo-science all it wants. It merely proves that in the face of rising Co2 emissions and cooling temperatures, they’ve lost the argument. All they are left with is ignoring inconvenient truths, and petulant spoon banging about people who have legitimate concerns about handing over more power to arrogant technocrats.


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blatant Bigotry and Racism

by Robert Farrow at the Baltimore Reporter

Apparently the NAACP practices the very thing it protests against. Can you imagine what the outcry would be if we said the same thing? These people should be ashamed of themselves, but they are all liberal Dems, so they don’t even see the hypocrisy, and nor will the clueless Sun point it out.

NAACP fears appointment of white or Republican mayor if Dixon is convicted

Leaders of the Maryland NAACP, worried that a Baltimore mayor’s criminal conviction could result in the appointment of a white or Republican leader who may not fully represent the majority black and Democratic city, are asking state lawmakers to strip the governor of authority to permanently fill the office.

The request, made in a resolution adopted at a state meeting of the civil rights group last weekend, marks the first time a mainstream organization has raised questions about succession should Baltimore Mayor Dixon be convicted of any of the nine charges she faces. Dixon has been indicted for theft and perjury and the first of two trials is scheduled for early next month.

“There is that possibility of a conviction, and we want to know those protocols that are in place,” said Elbridge James, the political action chairman of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “If it looks like it is going to rain, I am going to buy an umbrella.”

Still, it is not clear that the resolution or a law change is warranted. According to Dan Friedman, an assistant attorney general who is counsel to the General Assembly, the governor does not have the authority to make an appointment.

Instead, the state constitution defers to the city’s charter, he said, which elevates the city council president to be mayor in case of a vacancy. That’s how Dixon became mayor in 2007 after Martin O’Malley, her predecessor, was elected governor.

Marvin L. Cheatham, the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, introduced the resolution because he heard an attorney on a radio program discussing a lack of clarity on succession if Dixon were to be convicted and sentenced.

“Our concern is who would the governor appoint?” Cheatham said. “Here you have a predominantly African-American city. What if the governor appointed somebody white? … Would he appoint someone Irish to be the mayor?”

Cheatham also said he worried that a future Republican governor could appoint someone from his party to lead a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 9 to 1. “Would not the Republican governor have the ability to pick a Republican mayor?” he asked. “We just think there are some unanswered questions about the process,” Cheatham said.

The resolution passed “nearly unanimously” with little debate from the 150 or so delegates who attended the meeting, James said. It lays out two options, asking either for the governor to defer to the city’s charter and elevate the city council president to mayor; or a revision to state law to prevent an emergency mayoral appointee by the governor to run for the office in the next election.

The link is here.


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Monday, October 12, 2009

A note about the Mobbie Awards

You will notice that RedMaryland (along with a number of other blogs) were nominated for Best Political Blog in the Baltimore Sun's Mobbie Awards. In the still unofficial standings, RedMaryland finished fourth. I think we can take a small sliver of pride in this considering we were the highest finishing blog that wasn't actively pleading, begging, groveling, and otherwise engaging in some sad self-promtion to its readership to win themselves a relatively meaningless award.

I, for one, was actively subscribing and agreeing with Adam Pagnucco's assesment that the award itself is meaningless and that the Sun was savvily playing the blogs for suckers in an order to bring eyeballs to their website.

I'll let RedMaryland's readership and our influence in the political scene speak for itself over some relatively pointless online polling....


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Mission Creep

A Wall Street Journal editorial from Friday notes the problems with mandated insurance, particularly when it comes to health care in Massachusetts:

My husband retired from IBM about a decade ago, and as we aren't old enough for Medicare we still buy our health insurance through the company. But IBM, with its typical courtesy, informed us recently that we will be fined by the state.

Why? Because Massachusetts requires every resident to have health insurance, and this year, without informing us directly, the state had changed the rules in a way that made our bare-bones policy no longer acceptable. Unless we ponied up for a pricier policy we neither need nor want—or enrolled in a government-sponsored insurance plan—we would have to pay $1,000 each year to the state.

And why exactly were they being fined by the state? Well, the answer sounds lot like some of the arguments that are currently being made by supporters of Obamacare.....except this was being championed by a Republican Governor:

The turning point was three years ago, when then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney pushed through the state legislature a health-care plan that he promised would provide universal coverage while lifting from the middle-class the burden of having to pay for those who do not have insurance. His argument was that the uninsured drove up the cost of health care for everyone by seeking care at emergency rooms and then skipping out on their medical bills. Hospitals make up for those unpaid bills by charging everyone else more than they otherwise would.

The central plank of the Romney plan was a mandate that required everyone to buy health insurance or pay a fine for posing a risk to society by walking around without coverage. There would be subsidies for those who couldn't afford insurance, and residents would be required to buy a minimum amount of health insurance, on the grounds that they might buy a policy that doesn't cover the cost of their care and end up skipping out on their medical bills. "We insist that everybody who drives a car has insurance, and cars are a lot less expensive than people," Mr. Romney told the Boston Globe in 2006.

Mr. Romney and Sen. Ted Kennedy publicly promised that the middle class—that is, people like us—would not be taxed and that our health-care costs would actually decrease if the plan became law.

Well, needless to say we see that mandated care in Massachusetts hasn't exactly worked our swimmingly for middle class folks up there. The cost of health care continues to skyrocket, people are still not necessarily covered, and middle class tax payers are suffering for the broken promises of bureaucrats and politicians who told them time and again that they wouldn't be subjected to a tax on health care and that health care costs would drop.

Sound like anything coming out of Washington these days?

Anybody of sound mind can see what is coming if the current health care plan is enacted. I have been saying time and time again that the option of health care reform, in the minds of the Democratic establishment in Washington, has little to do with providing better care at lowers costs, and everything to do with the socialization of health care at the federal level. Mandating minimum levels of coverage, to a certain extent, will be the same thing. And there will be a continued mission creep of the federal mandate to ensure that people are steered toward the exact coverage that Washington bureaucrats want, or whatever coverage Congress mandates into law. As Jonathan Adler notes:
If the federal government adopts an individual mandate, Ms. Williams fears her experience could soon replay itself nationwide. She’s right to fear. Once there is an individual mandate, interest groups will flock to Washington seeking to have their preferred treatment or service incorporated into the requirements for acceptable health care plans. Over time, the requirements will grow, and the cost of health care plans for many Americans will increase as a result. Consequently, many individuals who have health care plans that fully meet their needs will suddenly find themselves “underinsured” — and taxed fined as a result.
I can happen here. And it will happen if Congressional Democrats get their way. The Mission Creep has been real in Massachusetts; it will repeat itself at the federal level. The Bureuacuracy needed to run this mess will be nightmarish. Middle class families are going to have to spend more money on health care, turning it over to one bureacuracy (federally-approved health care companies) or another (the Government).

Mandated care, as constructed, is pretty much the enemy of our basic free market economic principles.....and while only tangential to the health care argument, it should give fiscal conservatives a lot of pause when you consider Mitt Romney's likely second try at the White House in 2012.

(Crossposted)


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fitting

Adam Pagnucco reported on Friday about Governor O'Malley's fundraiser that was scheduled for today...........in South Beach...........at a place called "The Meat Market."

The jokes just write themselves at this point.

What's not quite as funny, though, is this thought: what is Governor O'Malley doing going to South Beach to raise money at a time in which Maryland's middle and working class families are suffering from his incompetent leadership?

.....or are business owners and Democrats in South Beach merely thanking Governor O'Malley for driving more and more businesses out of Maryland, improving the business and economic climate of states like Florida?

Either way, I am glad to see that Governor O'Malley had the economic resources to fly down to South Beach while so many of Maryland's families are suffering due to the Governor's inability to control spending and his never ending desire to raise taxes on the middle class.

(Crossposted)


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize Winner President Barack Obama: A Modest Defense

--Richard E. Vatz


If you’re like me, you woke up to the stunning news that President Barack Obama did not win the 2009 Nobel Prize for literature. The award went instead to Herta Mueller, the Romanian writer who wrote of atrocities she suffered under Communist rule in Romania. To believe the Nobel Committee could overlook President Obama’s Change We Can Believe In, a work that adumbrated the changes that have already brought us a booming economy and peace in our time...well, it is just the historic discrimination against African-American writers.

Slightly compensatorily, President Barack Obama did win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

Without adequate reflection, the naysayers immediately protested, "What has President Obama accomplished?" If he was nominated within two weeks of the onset of his presidency, how could he qualify for a peace prize that had gone to such Nobel personifications of peace as Elie Wiesel (1986), Desmond Tutu (1984), and Lech Walesa (1983) ?

First of all, any such a comparison is arbitrary...the Nobel Peace Prize has also gone to Jimmy Carter (2002) who brought us lasting peace with Iran through his calling off a rescue mission for American hostages which would have got the Iranians really angry, and Yasser Arafat (1994), and who doesn’t know what lasting effects he has had for peace in the Middle East?

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, petulantly accuses the Nobel Committee of giving President Obama “a ribbon before the race,” arguing that the President has not yet accomplished much regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the impending nuclear weaponizing of Iran, the manifest nuclear weaponizing of North Korea, pacifying Afghanistan, and stopping the atrocities in the Congo or the conflict in Darfur.

Picky, picky, picky.

Moreover, Mr. Gerson, President Obama has “hope,” and if one looks at the history of world conflict, one can see the consistent effectiveness of leaders who hope. I suppose Mr. Gerson was similar to those who in 1939 denied a Nobel prize to Neville Chamberlain, who through the Munich Agreement in 1938 kept peace for a full year.

In addition, even if his nomination occurred within two weeks of the beginning of his presidency, President Obama was “hoping” long before he became president. The Audacity of Hope was written over three years ago.

Yes, President Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, and, if I must be specific, it is not just for what the Committee calls his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" or his call for a nuclear weapon-free world. (The accomplishment of the latter is probably just months, if not weeks, away.)

It is just as compellingly for his being troubled regarding Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weaponry and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and, equally, for his resolution in the Afghanistan conflict wherein he is going to make sure that we have a policy soon.

May I suggest a slogan that does honor to the peaceiest leader in the world, our newest, most deserving Nobel Prize winner:

“Peace for a Short While.”



Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


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Nobel Committee Officially Insane!

It's bad enough that they selected B.O. after less than a year in office, but he had to be nominated way back in February, when he did even less to deserve it! Was that why he delayed sending troops to Afghanistan? That would certainly endear him to the Islamofascists. Even NBC (through SNL) admits he hasn't done anything! This is re-dic-u-lous!

I guess he will not be able to get tough on any country (other than Israel?), and we can expect more bowing to thugery regimes.

Please tell me it's a joke?!


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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Awesome Video...


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School Children Banned From Kensington Public Parks|ABC 7 News

Seriously? What the heck is Kensington thinking?

The town is banning use of a public park, by kids, during the period from 9:00am to 4:00 pm. During school hours, a private school, Brookewood, uses the park for recess. But now the town says that the students (elementary age students) create $4,000 a year in damage that they are demanding the school pay. The school is willing to help clean the park and put down mulch but not pay $4,000 per year for use of the park.

I loved this:

Brookewood's headmaster tells ABC 7 News it's a public park for all too use but Kensington's mayor disagrees. By phone he said the park is for taxpaying citizens -- not abuse by a private non-profit school.
So I have a question for Kensington's mayor, how many kids at the school are the children of tax paying citizens? I would guess that at least some signficant percentage. So can those kids use the park? Can they bring guests?

Kensington is just being dumb here and should repeal the ban.


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School Children Banned From Kensington Public Parks|ABC 7 News

Seriously? What the heck is Kensington thinking?

The town is banning use of a public park, by kids, during the period from 9:00am to 4:00 pm. During school hours, a private school, Brookewood, uses the park for recess. But now the town says that the students (elementary age students) create $4,000 a year in damage that they are demanding the school pay. The school is willing to help clean the park and put down mulch but not pay $4,000 per year for use of the park.

I loved this:

Brookewood's headmaster tells ABC 7 News it's a public park for all too use but Kensington's mayor disagrees. By phone he said the park is for taxpaying citizens -- not abuse by a private non-profit school.
So I have a question for Kensington's mayor, how many kids at the school are the children of tax paying citizens? I would guess that at least some signficant percentage. So can those kids use the park? Can they bring guests?

Kensington is just being dumb here and should repeal the ban.


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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Terrible Timing

The impending Unemployment Tax increase is certain to make matters worse.

Ellen Sauerbrey for Maryland Business for Responsive Government

With many businesses struggling to survive the current recession, a significant increase in Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes is a potentially ruinous prospect. Higher taxes in a recessionary climate will pressure employers to delay hiring/or increase the number of layoffs. The irony is that the hefty employer tax increase scheduled to begin in January 2010 is required to replenish the Unemployment Compensation fund which has been depleted by layoffs. Employers who have experienced more layoffs, and presumably are under the greatest stress, are also the ones who will pay the highest tax increase.

In January, Maryland employers will be assigned Unemployment Contribution rates using “Table F,” which is the maximum level for the mandated “contributions” or taxes used to cover employees for Unemployment Insurance. Employers will pay taxes that range between 2.2% and 13.5% of annual taxable wages of all their employees or the first $8,500 in wages paid to each employee. Depending on an employer’s underlying “experience rate,” the actual dollars amount will range from $187 to $1,147.50 per employee earning $8,500 or more per year. A company with no layoffs in the past three years will have the lowest rate increases.

This should not come as a surprise because the formula that mandates this increase was enacted in 2005 with support from the business community. In addition, some of the business community supported extending benefits to part time workers, significantly driving up the number of applicants.

This is an excellent example of how seemingly good public policy can result in adverse unintended consequences.

What is the purpose of the Unemployment Insurance Law in Maryland? The statute (8-102) indicates that the purpose is “to prevent the spread of involuntary unemployment and to lighten its burden…” Before we raise the UI tax on employers to the highest level, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether this will force employers to lay off more people.

Anyone who paid attention in Economics 101 knows the answer is yes. However, if we do not increase these taxes, the UI Trust Fund for Maryland may be depleted and forced to borrow from the federal government. Let’s look at the alternatives before we passively accept the higher fees.

  • Option I. Do Nothing - Allow the increases to take affect and risk the possibility that many businesses will reduce payrolls or move production to other states or out of the country altogether.


  • Option II. Limited Increase - Reduce the required increase (50% or more) and monitor the Trust Fund balance to see what, if any additional increases are needed.


  • Option III. No Increase – Eliminating the increase in UI Tax and allow the Maryland Trust Fund to borrow from the federal government if necessary.


UI Trust Fund balances earn interest; however, unlike other forms of deposit, these amounts are not available for investment in the local economy for job creation. Balances in state UI Trust Funds are used to offset the Federal Deficit, which is an important reason why the federal government encourages states to impose higher taxes and maintain larger balances.

What happens if Maryland borrows from the federal government? Any money that Maryland borrows must be repaid with interest. Absent specific legislation to charge employers, the interest expense in question would be payable from the state’s general fund.

Which is better: impose higher UI taxes without borrowing or lower UI taxes and possibly need to borrow? The answer depends on what you value more – jobs or the UI Trust Fund.


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Talking Bollocks

Jeff Quinton has one of the more amazingly deluded "clarifications" I have ever read in my life, this one coming from Howard County Public Schools PIO Patti Caplan regarding the Obama Sing-a-long fiasco. Here it is in entirety, with some commentary interspersed.

Several weeks ago, all Longfellow Elementary School first graders were shown a videotape of President Obama’s speech to students as part of the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program (PBIS), which focuses on being safe, responsible and respectful. As the classes were gathering in one of the first grade classrooms, the teacher was playing a CD of a song she and her students composed last year for a technology competition. She also played the song as the students were leaving.
Interestingly, the Obama speech was causing a scandal of all of its own. The fact that a teacher decided to exacerbate that issue by playing such a song is amazingly shortsighted, but it gets worse.
One (yes only one) parent called and emailed the school with his concern that the students were being forced to “glorify and worship” President Obama. The school administration responded to this parent and provided him with a copy of the lyrics, which his wife posted on a blog. The school administration has met with this parent and he apologized for the posting and for creating so much trouble for the school. He indicated that the school had addressed his concern.

Talk about trying to place the blame on somebody else. The fact that Caplan would throw a parent under the bus is incredibly amazing. Of course, it seems to fly in the face of a few facts.

There is no mention of the principal, or the song lyric, or Longfellow Elementary prior to September 29th, the day I received the email and posted the contents of the email on my blog and at RedMaryland. So, given the fact that a search of blog records and the internet shows no postings before then, exactly who is Caplan saying leaked this and who is she saying that information came from?

On top of it, why does Caplan try to minimize the one parent who had a concern with this? How many times have we seen schools bend over backwards to accomodate the needs of one parent who is pissed off about something? I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying that Caplan seems to be trying to deflect the seriousness of this story on the premise that only one parent of one child was angry.

The objective of this lesson was to motivate students with a positive message to be respectful, stay in school, work hard and do their best. The lesson supports the work the school is doing as part of PBIS. The children did sing along to the song, which repeats “Yes I Can” and “Yes We Can.” Repetition of this nature is a common element in songs for children of this age.

Well, that's a noble goal. But that leads us to.....

The focus of the lesson was on the children and positive behavior, not the President. There was no intention or attempt to glorify or worship the President. Educators often use positive role models in their lessons, including Presidents of the United States, and this practice is supported by the Howard County Public School System. The Howard County Public School System does not require nor encourage teachers to include references to President Obama in their lessons, nor does it discourage the use of such references.

So why then did the teacher include the President in the lesson plan when there are a plethora of historical figures who could have been used to create a similar example. And does not the fact that the President's campaign slogan was included in the song a tacit endorsement by the teacher and/or the school of the President and the policies that the President is promoting? I mean this isn't rocket science here, and considering that incidents like this are on the rise across the country, you would seem to think that somebody would question whether or not the use of the song is a good idea.

The Howard County Public School System respects the right of individuals to disagree with the words of the song and/or even the use of the song in this context. However, the idea that a public school system would have a “policy” to force students to “worship” the President is so ludicrous it deserves no response.

Again, Caplan is trying to deflect away from the meat of the story. Nobody is saying that the Howard County Public School System has a policy to force students to worship to the President. But the fact seems to be at least one teacher at Longfellow Elemetnary in the Howard County Public School system has made it their policy to try and force such beliefs on their students. And since they are employees of the aforementioned public school system, I would love to know what steps the Howard County Public School System is taking to end such shenaingans. But since Patti Caplan seems to be denying that a problem exists, I'm guessing that we know the answer.

Glad to know that Patti Caplan and the brass in the Howard County Public Schools seem to condone this ludicrous behavior.

(Crossposted)


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Well Played VA GOP

How can you not like this...


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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What are MDE Technocrats Hiding?

You may remember the Maryland Department of the Environment's shenanigans with my 2007 PIA request regarding the alarmist advocacy group Center for Climate Strategies and their involvement with the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.

Last month, I filed a similar request to see who will have a hand in formulating the regulatory implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which mandatesa an economically disastrous 25% reduction in 2006 GHG levels by 2020. MDE is up to it's old tricks.

The final plan on how to implement the new law is due by 2012. On Sept. 11,Red Maryland blogger Mark Newgent submitted a Public Information Act request to find out whether Environment Maryland and United Steelworkers officials were also involved in writing the regulations.

"I asked for any documents regarding the implementation of the GHG law, including correspondence with the local Maryland steelworkers union and Environment Maryland to see if the administration was outsourcing public policy to these two groups," Newgent said.

In response, Newgent got a bill for $1,353.55 for 44 hours of staff time the Maryland Department of the Environment supposedly needs to search for the records, including 36 cents per printed page - even though he requested the results on a CD-ROM.

When I called to ask why it would take the department an entire workweek and cost more than $1,000 to provide this information to the public, an MDE spokesman claimed it was "a very extensive request." That, of course, doesn't explain how MDE calculated its cost estimate. Newgent is worried that the same environmental cabal that wrote the legislation will also write the regulations without any meaningful public input. By the time it finally gets to the public hearing stage, he says, the business-strangling new rules will be a rubber-stamped fait accompli.

In response to a similar PIA inquiry two yearsago, MDE tried to charge Newgent $1,381.40 for just four hours of staff time, so its productivity is 11 times better than it was in 2007. Unfortunately, that will be the only productivity gains in Maryland for a long, long time as it follows California lemminglike over the cliff.


Looks like MDE's technocrats are taking Tom Friedman's wish to be "China for a day" to heart.


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