Thursday, December 31, 2009

Judd Legum's New Line same as his old line...

Judd Legum couldn't be bothered to discuss his the recent revelation of his new gig as a mudslinger for New York Governor David Paterson. But he has plenty of time to continue raising money for his campaign for House of Delegates in District 30.....and apparently plenty of time to again violate state campaign finance laws by not including the authority line for his campaign committee.

Obviously, Judd Legum doesn't take campaign finance laws seriously since this isn't his first breach of them. Nor does he seem to care that the penalty for violating such laws is disqualification from being a candidate for public office.

The irony of course is that Legum does not advertise his own fundraiser from his own campaign site or his Twitter account. It's almost like he has been going out of his way to hide his fundraisers from the public; it was only from a post by Paul Foer that I was even made aware of Legum's event. And it's not like his last fundraiser which was sponsored by lobbyists days after claiming his campaign would not accept contributions form...lobbyists.

Judd Legum and his hypocrisy are going to be the gift that keeps on giving in 2010....

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Mental Health Care Reform Article in The Washington Times, December 31, 2009

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

(Thursday, December 31, 2009)

Mental Health Trojan Horse


Richard E. Vatz and Jeffrey A. Schaler

The vast majority of Americans are unaware of most of what is included in the Senate and House health care reform bills as they head for reconciliation in the House-Senate Conference. They will be in for a big surprise concerning parity mental health care coverage, covering mental problems comparably to physical problems. In addition, the arguments supporting the changes, rarely made public in order to avoid rigorous debate, have revealed the shifting grounds supporting parity.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke on Dec. 16 to a friendly crowd of health care providers and others at Sheppard Pratt Health System near Baltimore, a location for a broad array of psychiatric services, concerning mental health coverage, and, according to reports, she defended the expansion of such coverage with all of the familiar shibboleths.

She argued, consistent with the administration's claim that expanding health care in general to 30 million or more citizens would actually save us money, that the vastly increased mental health parity program would additionally, as the Baltimore Sun reported her message, "improve care for millions of Americans who do not get all the mental health services they need."

In the speech, Ms. Sebelius said, "One in 5 Americans will have a mental health illness this year and almost half will have a mental illness in their lifetimes. Yet 10 million people didn't get the mental health care they needed last year, and 20 million didn't get substance abuse services."

Ms. Sebelius proclaimed her own false analogy of mental health to physical health by saying, "If 10 [million] or 20 million Americans were walking around bleeding, we'd have alarm bells going off."

But if mental heath professions' own estimates of the current number of people who are mentally ill are correct, Ms. Sebelius is way off in her calculations. As Mark Twain quipped, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics."

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) claims that more than 50 percent of Americans are mentally ill in their lifetime - and recent APA studies dwarf that statistic. Moreover, the problems that qualify as "mental disorders," all those listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), are virtually without limit.

Significantly, the new coverage of mental illness covers a vast array of the "worried well," who have no neurological or mental disorders but simply have problems in living. Support for mental health parity in the new health reform bills relies on the public's false inference that the prototypical mental disorder is dementia or some other organically based brain disease, which constitute only a tiny percentage and atypical sampling of the hundreds of "mental disorders" listed in DSM-IV.

Typically, psychiatrists label those unhappy people they concede have no physical illness as having "social anxiety disorder" or some other equally benign "disorder." Such people can be in costly, insurance-covered therapy indefinitely. As one psychologist told us, "Anyone who comes in with any problem can be diagnosed as having 'adjustment disorder.' " (e.g., "with anxiety," DSM-IV Code 309.24).

There are many such diagnoses of easily applicable disorders, including "antisocial personality disorder" (DSM-IV Code 301.7), "avoidant personality disorder" (DSM-IV Code 301.82), and others vague enough to be applied to almost anyone. This is one of the reasons that the American Psychiatric Association claims that in a lifetime far more than a majority of citizens will suffer from a mental disorder, and the estimates are increasing.

In the December 2008 APA's Archives of General Psychiatry, there is a report that "almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year [emphasis added]," and this includes heavy drinking, categorized as "alcohol use disorder" (DSM-IV Code 305.00).

When everyone is sick, what is normal? What is healthy?

On one strategy to deal with these issues, perhaps Ms. Sebelius and mental health skeptics can agree: It is high time to let a national debate begin - before mental health parity becomes part of universal national health care insurance.

Richard E. Vatz, a professor at Towson University, is associate psychology editor of USA Today Magazine. Jeffrey A. Schaler, a professor at American University, is executive editor of Current Psychology and author of "Addiction Is a Choice" (Open Court Publishing Co., 1999).


More below the fold.

Get Involved

Want to get involved in strengthening our state's child sex offender laws? The trial lawyers are an entrenched well-heeled special interest group who will fight tooth and nail against tougher penalties for child sex offenders. We need you to get involved and join the fight.

Here's your chance.

Go to Citizens for Jessica's Law sign up for the email list or contact President, Joan Harris or Vice President, Jerry Norton to get involved in the effort.

Delegate Mike Smigiel and Senator Nancy Jacobs have prefiled bills to prohibit concurrent sentences for child sex offenses, no contact orders, and eliminate diminution credits for child sex offenders.

If you wish to testify at the judiciary committee hearings on the bills, contact Delegate Smigiel's office.

Annapolis Office: 410-841-3434
District Office : 410-398-4606


More below the fold.

The Year That Was 2009

Yes, it's time for the 2009 Awards....and since this is the only "best of the decade" list I'm giving you, we'll just deal with 2009.

Last year's post is available here, the one from 2006 here, and the one from 2005 is available
here.

Best Move of 2009: Sheila Dixon convicted

2008 Winner: John McCain picks Sarah Palin

2007 Winner: Peter Angelos hires Andy MacPhail
2006 Winner: Ravens trade for Steve McNair
2005 Winner: John Roberts Appointed as Chief Justice


I was as stunned as anybody that a Baltimore City jury actually convicted an elected official in the City of Baltimore. It was just amazingly stunning because, no matter how corrupt it seemed Sheila Dixon was, I always figured that somehow, some way she would beat the rap. Now we know that there are some legal wranglings regarding a boneheaded juror, but the fact of the matter remains that this jury proved that nobody, not even the Mayor, is above the law in Baltimore. I hope (but doubt) that some of these elected Democrats will get the message.

Honorable Mention: Jim Pelura resigns; Orioles acquire Kevin Milwood; Release of the Droid

Worst Move of 2009: Bracack Obama wins Nobel Prize
2008 "Winner": Federal Bailouts

2007 "Winner": General Assembly, Leopold impose School Board "reforms"
2006 "Winner": Harriet Miers appointed to Supreme Court
2005 "Winner": Rafael Palmeiro's testimony to Congress


There is nothing I can say here that hasn't already said, but let me tell you this; the fact that Barack Obama can win a Nobel Prize under the following conditions...

  • Being nominated eleven days into his administration
  • Two wars in the Middle East
  • On the date of the first interplanetary bombing run
...pretty much tells you how credible the Nobel committee is these days. Not that they didn't lose that awhile ago. But never has one man been so feted for having accomplished so little.....

Dishonorable Mention: Anne Arundel County Council approves Arundel Mills slots parlor; Justin Ready fired as MD GOP Executive Director; Martin O'Malley unable or unwilling to control state spending; Levi Johnston continues to get press coverage


Strangest Move of 2009: Congress moves on Health Care "reform" without checking their backyard
2008 Winner: Being Rod Blagojevich
2007 Winner: John Flynn keeps job as MD GOP Executive Director

2006 Winner: Don Dwyer's May and June
2005 Winner: Martin O'Malley thanks MD4BUSH


The funny party about health care reform is not the fact that President Obama and his cohorts in Congress supported government-run health care and tried to implement it; the left in this country has been pretty adamant about their support for socialized medicine for quite some time now. No, it really has more to do with the fact that the hubris and the arrogance of the Obama White House and the perceived omnipotence of Speaker Pelosi combined to create a perfect storm for Democrats; a situation from which there is no escape.

Had anybody in the Obama/Pelosi camp bothered to ask anybody in the House or Senate Democratic Caucuses, they might have realized how much trouble they were really in. Because if there is anything that we have learned through this process it's that:
  • Moderate Dems won't vote for health care if it funds abortion
  • Far Left Dems won't vote forth health care if it doesn't fund abortion
  • Some Senators won't vote for health care if there is a public option
  • Some Senators won't vote for health care if there isn't a public option
  • Some members of Congress won't vote for health care if it increases the debt
  • Nobody agrees on whether or not health care will increase or decreases the debt.
All in all, it should have been painfully obvious that the votes were not there for Obamacare. As a rational American, that's a good thing, however it is one of the more brazenly bizarre decisions, particularly when in all likelihood it is going to severely backfire for Congressional Democrats at the ballot box this November.

Honorable Mention: Zina Pierre blows her chance to be Mayor of Annapolis; Martin O'Malley plays concerts while incapable of controlling spending; Memphis signs Allen Iverson;
Jim Rutledge drops out of, back into Senate race within a week;

Gal I Feel Bad For for 2009: Trudy McFall(D), former candidate Annapolis Mayor
2008 "Winner": Dean Barkley
2007 "Winner": Arthur Blank

2006 "Winner":
Rick Neuheisel
2005 "Winner":
Rick Neuheisel

How can I feel bad for a Democratic Candidate for Mayor of Annapolis who lost in the Primary? Probably because she, more than anybody else, got screwed by the Zina Pierre debacle. Clearly, an overwhelming majority of the Democrats voting in the Annapolis primary did not want Josh Cohen to be Mayor. However, when the irregularities of Pierre's background came to light, the establishment immediately rushed to Cohen's side. Never mind the fact that the majority of voters voted for an "outside the box" candidate who was not part of either the city or county Democratic establishment.

And I think head to head, McFall would have beaten Cohen. Hands down.


Honorable Mention:
Doug Hoffman, Jenny Sanford

Best Run Campaign(Local Division):
Chris Fox(I), Candidate for Mayor
2008 Winner: None
2007 Winner: Fred Paone for Alderman (R-Annapolis)

2006 Winner: Nic Kipke for Delegate (R-31)
2005 Winner: Jeff Holtzinger for Mayor (R-Frederick)

Chris Fox is probably the one local candidate statewide who exceeded expectations. Sure, he did not reach the same numbers that Gilbert Reneault received in the 2005 General Election when he also ran as an independent. But Renault was also running against a Republican's whose consultant-driven campaign barely had a pulse. Fox ran a real, sustained campaign. And yes, his presence may very well have put Josh Cohen in City Hall. But that's a story for a different time. The fact of the matter is that no local campaign had as much of an immediate impact as did Fox's campaign. It's hard to say whether or not this has any impact whatsoever in 2013, but the short-term effects are real and obvious.

Best Run Campaign(Statewide Division): Andy Harris for Congress (R-1)
2008 Winner: Donna Edwards for Congress (D-4)
2007 Winner: Donna Edwards for Congress (D-4)
2006 Winner: Michael Steele for US Senate (R)


Oh what a difference a year makes. For two years running, the Harris Campaign couldn't get out of it's own way. But in the past year, no campaign has better served itself in keeping their eyes on the prize and focusing on the work that needs to be done in order to prepare themselves for the next election. It's a pretty drastic turnaround, and positions Harris well to unseat Frank Kratovil in the 2010 General Election (with the caveat, of course, that there is still a chance of a competitive primary in this seat...)

Honorable Mention: Eric Wargotz for U.S. Senate (R)

Best Run Campaign(National Division): Doug Hoffman for Congress (C-NY)
2008 Winner: Barack Obama for President (D-IL)
2007 Winner: Bobby Jindal for Governor(R-LA)
2006 Winner: Barack Obama for President (D-IL)
2005 Winner: Paul Hackett for Congress (D-OH)


Doug Hoffman found himself in an unusual position. Since New York allows "fusion" candidates who run under more than one party banner, Hoffman found himself for the special election in the 23rd District handed the nomination of the New York Conservative Party, but denied the nomination in his own Republican Party. Hoffman managed to take that defeat and turn it into a positive, corralling national support from many Republicans and conservatives across the county, and nearly defeating Democrat Bill Owens in the General Election. Sure, Hoffman's loss led to the election of a Democrat, but there were two fundamental items of importance that came out of this race; the fact that conservatives remain an important force in our body politic, and that the most liberal candidate in the race (the Republican Dede Scozzafava) didn't win...

Honorable Mention: Chris Christie for Governor (R-NJ), Bob McDonnell for Governor (R-VA)

Worst Run Campaign(Local Division): Dave Cordle for Mayor (R-Annapolis)
2008 "Winner": None
2007 "Winner": Kieffer Mitchell for Mayor (D-Baltimore)

2006 "Winner": Don Dwyer re-election campaign (R-31)
2005 "Winner": George Kelley for Mayor (R-Annapolis)


I hate to pick on a good guy who had good people running his campaign, and I hate to give this award to a second straight Republican nominee for Mayor of Annapolis. But the fact of the matter is that the Cordle Campaign barely registered prior to the Primary Election. Instead of aggressively meeting and engaging voters all summer, the campaign waited. A frustrating way to see a campaign be run, particularly with a good candidate who should have won the election had the strategy not be to sit and wait to see who the Democrats nominated...


Honorable Mention: None

Worst Run Campaign(Statewide Division): Gov. Martin O'Malley re-election campaign (D)
2008 "Winner": Andy Harris for Congress (R-1)
2007 "Winner": Andy Harris for Congress (R-1)
2006 "Winner": Steven Abrams for Comptroller (R)

This almost has more to do with O'Malley's governance and decision making than it does his campaigns ability to campaign. But think about this; what campaign operative in their right mind cannot find themselves a way to convince their candidate that jumping around on stage with their band is a bad idea in the middle of a recession and in the middle of a dig-out from a snowstorm that has a paralyzed their state. True, maybe the problem is a candidate stuck on vapor lock all of the time, but people don't forget simple stuff like this.....

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Donna Edwards re-election campaign (D-4), Jim Rutledge for U.S. Senate (R)

Worst Run Campaign(National Division): Creigh Deeds for Governor (D-VA)

2008 "Winner": Andy Harris for Congress (R-MD)
2007 "Winner": The Al Gore Draft Campaign (D-TN)
2006 "Winner": Sen. George Allen's re-election campaign (R-VA)
2005 "Winner": Jerry Kilgore for Governor (R-VA)

I honestly can't write any more articulately about the Deeds campaign than Chris Cillizza did, so take a loook at his thoughts on Creigh Deeds.


Dishonorable Mention: Terry McCauliffe for Governor (D-VA), Dede Scozzafava for Congress (R-NY), Gov. Jon Corzine's re-election campaign (D-NJ)


Best International Development:
Climategate
2008 Winner: The Surge Continues to Work;

2007 Winner: The Surge in Iraq works
2006 Winner: Saddam Hussein Convicted and Executed
2005 Winner: Free Elections in Iraq

For many years a lot of pundits have considered the idea of global warming and the idea of anthropomorphic climate change to still be an open question. Sadly, many scientists and many political leades had decided that the question was a closed one, that it was a "known fact" that the planet was warming and that it was a "known fact" that humans were the cause of it (much in the same way the heliocentrism was a "known fact"). It's gotten so bad to discuss climate change in some circles that those discussing skepticism of climate change sufering the same ridiculue that one would have received if they dismissed the existance of God in the 1600's.

Of course, when the Climategate emails were released, a lot of regular people became much, much more skeptical about the whole matter. Sure, scientists and politicians are still attemptinmg to remain as true believers on the subject. But there is a reason that a majority of Americans are now skeptical or dismissive of the science on climate change. It's not that people think it may or may not be happening. It's the fact that people think that scientists and politicians are lying to them. That's a big deal.

Honorable Mention: None


Worst International Developments: Copenhagen Climate Conference
2008: "Winner": World economy goes to hell
2007 "Winner": Vladimir Putin consolidates power to outlast term/The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
2006 "Winner":
Russian President Vladimir Putin begins murdering critics
2005 "Winner": Vladimir Putin's Reforms in Russia

And this dovetails with our previous mention about Climategate. In the face of tremendous opposition, and the revelation of the falsification of data on climate, leaders from countries around the world flew their jets to Copenhagen in an effort to hammer our a successor to Kyoto. I don't say that this is a bad development because of the agreement Barack Obama negotiated with China; that agreement, in the long run, is rather pedestrian.

No, this is a bad international development because a majority of the nations of the world sent representatives to a conference predicated on an idea that may have been completely fabricated. And that is a sad statement on modern society...


Dishonorable Mention: America become even less respected in the world; North Korean saber rattling; Iran's continued punishment of dissidents; Russia remains uppity

Best News of 2009: Citizens Express desire for Fiscal Discipline
2008 Winner: Ravens make the Playoffs
2007 Winner: Rise of Maryland Blogosphere


The voters of America are fed up. They are fed up with out of control spending. They are fed up with taxes. And in a lot of places, the people are making their vocies heard. They are doing it not just with protests, and blogs, and emails to their representatives. But they are doing it in town halls, and at the ballot box too.

I think we may very well see a paradigm shift in the body politic in 2010. Candidates who support fiscal restraint may find it much, much easier to run this coming year.

Honorable Mention: None really

Worst News of 2009: Debt, Spending Remain out of Control
2008 "Winner": Federal Bailouts

2007 "Winner": O'Malley, General Assembly Democrats Screw Taxpayers
2006 "Winner": Democrats take Congress, Government House


Maryland is again "America in Miniature" when it comes to spending. Find a deficit; raise taxes; raise spending; revenues decrease; wonder what went wrong.

The American people are sick and tired of their taxes being raised, and they are sick and tired of out of touch elected officials continuing to spend money that the state and federal governments do not have. You have to wonder if there is any situation where these elected officials wouldn't spend money if they continue to make the situation more dire for middle and working class families in the middle of these economic times...


Dishonorable Mention: Barack Obama as incompetent as we feared

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tort Lobby Stands in the way of Tougher Child Sex Offender Laws

The kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell, in Salisbury last week—allegedly committed by registered sex offender Thomas James Leggs—is spurring calls for stricter child sex offender laws.

Jerry Norton, head of Citizens for Jessica’s Law in Maryland told the Baltimore Sun, “We need to make it clear to citizens of Maryland that we are not going to let these pedophiles molest our children with just a slap on the wrist. We're tired of these watered-down sentences - they come out and do it again."

Senator Nancy Jacobs of Harford County is preparing to re-file her bill eliminating diminution (good behavior) credits for child sex offenders currently incarcerated. Delegate Mike Smigiel from the Eastern Shore is also filing a similar bill and is looking into the possibility of wiretapping suspected child sex offenders.

The Foxwell case may indeed, as Jacobs said, “inspire” some legislators to push for tougher penalties. However, they will face perhaps the single most powerful faction in the General Assembly—the tort lobby. Trial lawyers dominate both the House and Senate judicial committees. Rarely does a bill deleterious to trial lawyers ever make it out of Joe Vallarrio’s or Brian Frosh’s desk drawers, the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees respectively.

Norton, who led the effort to pass Jessica’s Law in 2007, knows better than anyone what supporters of tougher restrictions are up against. “What we succeeded in getting passed was just a piece of the pie,” Norton said. “Not because of lack of due diligence, on the contrary, the problem was that your Maryland legislators fell short.” They want you to believe that Maryland is really tough on child sex offenders, but here's an example of what the REAL story is. Under the so-called Jessica's Law, a convicted child molester is given a 20 year sentence for second degree child rape. Chances are very high the he/she will spend less than 10 years of that behind bars, because the current law provides the possibility of parole and additional time off for good behavior.”

Both Jacobs and Smigiel have tried to close the loophole Norton describes, only to have the aforementioned committee chairs sit on them.

To see just how powerful the tort lobby is let us look at the Herculean effort it took to get a version of Jessica’s Law with any teeth past the trial lawyers, who loathe the law’s mandatory minimums, which cut into their billable hours. I don’t mean to say trial lawyers don’t care about protecting children. It’s just that their concern is situational, as in only when there is a huge monetary settlement on the line.

An extremely watered down version of Jessica’s Law passed in the 2006 special session. Months prior to that during the regular 2006 session, then delegate Anthony Brown led the fight to kill the bill by strong arming delegates on the house floor to kill Jessica’s Law on a procedural vote. The prospects for strengthening Jessica’s Law in 2007 were bleak to say the least. However, a determined group of citizens led by Norton, the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, survivors, the Republican minority, and media allies pulled a recalcitrant Democratic majority over the finish line.

This loose coalition cajoled, hectored, shut down the phone lines, and swamped the email accounts of legislators to persuade them into passing the bill. Opponents of Jessica’s Law resorted to boorish tactics. Frosh made survivors and advocates wait hours to testify, and Vallarrio was unconscionably rude toward survivors who testified before his committee. The resulting public and media pressure on the Senate president’s office compelled Mike Miller to force Frosh to bring the bill up for a vote.

In Vallarrio’s case it took a Bill O’Reilly camera crew showing up on a Saturday morning committee vote to get old Joe to let the bill out of his committee. According to one judiciary committee member the bill was due to be voted down, but that changed once the O’Reilly camera crew rolled in. I’ll never forget witnessing Vallario’s apoplectic fit during his interview with O’Reilly’s producer, Jesse Waters.

Of course, once the spotlight was on him, Vallarrio added his name to the sponsor list and stood up before the entire house to pontificate about how Maryland needed to be at the forefront of protecting children. Stay classy Joe!

My point in rehashing this recent history is to emphasize the very steep road that lies ahead for any legislation to strengthen our state’s sex offender laws. It’s going to take a similar effort to pass even a modest reform. It means phone calls and emails to legislators, contacting media, writing letters to the editor, and convincing others to do the same. We must bring overwhelming public pressure to bear.

It can be done.

UPDATE: Delegate Smigiel has posted to his blog, specifics of what he believes we can and should do to strengthen Maryland's child sex offender laws.


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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Terrorist Detroit Bombing Attempt: Another Piece of Evidence of Increased Threat Caused by The Conflicted Presidency of Barack Obama

--Richard E. Vatz


On Christmas day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted an act of stunning terrorism: blowing up a commercial plane that was heading for Detroit (Flight 253). This is an inconvenient fact, as Al Gore might have put it, for The Conflicted Presidency of President Barack Obama. Whatever security-human rights conflicts emerge, you can find this administration erring on the side of the latter: President Obama wants to: close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay; radically defang the Patriot Act; and lower the threshold for defining interrogation as "torture." His generally high-touch foreign policy attests to his general soft reflexes as well.

How does one rhetorically reconcile such inconvenient factual outcomes as the nearly successful Christmas Day bombing with such lofty liberal values? This will be the question that will haunt the Obama Administration as its foreign policy failures leave the United States and the world more and more vulnerable to catastrophe.

As a professor of rhetorical study, I like to define what rhetoric is and how it can be applied to national discussions of issues of the day. Rhetoric is the struggle for determining what subject is on the agenda for given audiences and what interpretation or spin is attached to it. When the subject of conversation and attending evidence is established, clichés can change the subject and/or they can change the interpretation when a persuader cannot deal with the topic or evidence at hand.

”The System Worked.”

On CNN Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Candy Crowley regarding Mr. Abdulmutallab’s attempted terrorist explosion, “And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here.” I suppose that includes Jasper Schuringa, the hero who subdued Abdulmutallab – I wonder if he knows his continuing role in the United States’ fight against terrorism. Secretary Napolitano’s comments -- from which she later appeared to retrench -- were the reflexive reactions of a conflicted member of The Conflicted Presidency.

Let me just list some of the imperfections in the anti-terrorist strategies manifest in this near mega-death tragedy: the perpetrator’s father’s warning regarding his son’s “radicalization” was ignored; the fact that no screening equipment had been deployed to uncover the utilized PETN explosives; the fact that Abdulmutallab’s name was listed on the National Counterterrorism Center’s terrorist data base; and the multitude of suspicious behaviors concerning his flight arrangements and corresponding lack of investigation of any of these.

Secretary Napolitano is one of the perfectly conflicted members of The Conflicted Presidency. In early 2009 Secretary Napolitano told the German news site Spiegel Online that she preferred the term “man-caused disaster” to terrorism because the latter promotes the “politics of fear.”

But it is not just she and it is not just combating terrorism which this administration does not have its heart into. The Obama presidency’s conflictedness is not an issue-specific phenomenon; it is a pattern. It is born of an attractive, articulate leader whose choices of membership in his Administration mirrors his superordinating “humane values” over security needs. He does not completely ignore security requirements; as I say, he is always conflicted. Hence, we have President Obama’s ambivalent Afghanistan policy accompanied by an exit strategy at its inception and debate as to if and when we are actually committed to leave.

The world can use some sensitive and softer thinkers, but not as president of the United States, a country at war with terrorism and a country fighting nuclear proliferation.

This act of terrorism, not directly created by Barack Obama himself, is abetted by the Obama presidency and its perspectives.

The Conflicted Presidency, well-motivated and articulate and attractive, is unsuited to combat serious threats to America.



Professor Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University


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Sunday, December 27, 2009

3B, or not 3B

We have done a pretty extensive job of documenting the situation in District 3B, from the resignation of turncoat Rick Weldon, to some pontificating about the choice of any potential successors to the seat.

Well, I'd like to weight in with my two cents on the subject by hearkening back to something I wrote in May 2007:

The problem with all of these examples is that Republican leadership constantly avoids leading by the examples that gave reason for the electorate to entrust Republican politicians with positions of leadership for so many years; to cut taxes, reduce the size of government, to emphasize personal responsibility and protect our national security. We cannot continue as a party to expect the American people to entrust us with the confidence and entrust us to lead our ship of state if our party cannot be entrusted to stand up for its first principles.

We cannot identify ourselves as the party of fiscal responsibility if our leadership cannot stand up against earmarks and cannot stand up against wasteful spending....

....It is time that our party reject those issues that divide us as conservatives, and unite around those core issues that bring together all wings of the Republican Party. We must bill willing to embrace fiscal responsibility, particularly when it comes to eliminating pork barrel projects. We must be willing to reduce the size of government in order to ensure to contain government only in the areas where it belongs. We must protect our national security, in order to protect us from foreign nations and from the presence of illegal aliens. And we must ensure that we are committed to upholding all of our Constitutional rights.
Now, when it comes to this vacancy in District 3B, the issue becomes more of state level issues. What issues should be the most important when it comes to considering the ideology of any successor to Weldon's seat? The most important need to be:
  • Fiscal restraint;
  • No on new taxes;
  • A commitment to the reduction in the size of Government.
That's it. Period. And I am going to make the next point in big bold letters:

The absolutely last thing that the Frederick and Washington County Central Committees should be doing is making this a referendum about social conservatism.

What we know is that Maryland, for better or for worse a socially moderate to liberal state, even in somewhat outlying places such as Frederick County. We also know that District 3 is home to a number of transplants from the Washington, DC area who may not be particularly receptive to an overly social conservative message in a General Election.....but they (like the majority of Americans) do find fiscal conservatism and restraint appealing. They want people who are going to protect their pocketbooks and try to ensure government stays out of their way.

Time and again, we have gone out of our way as a party to shoot ourselves in the foot. This is one prime opportunity to make sure that we do not do so again, by sending to Annapolis a Delegate who is best qualified to serve the interests of all Marylanders in these fiscally uncertain times.....regardless of that new Delegate's credentials on social issues.

(Crossposted)


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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Latest From District 3B

As we have been reporting here, here and here, former Republican Delegate Rick Weldon has resigned his position in the House of Delegates. The Frederick and Washington County Republican Central committees will be picking his successor.

As we have said, this decision will be closely watched as the Maryland Republican Party heads into the 2010 election cycle.

Will these local party officials select someone who has a solid conservative pedigree or will the decision be dominated by local party politics with the result that a local political insider with no greater ideological loyalty than their own personal ambition will join the Republican caucus in Annapolis? What will this choice tell to activists as they are being asked to support GOP candidates in the coming year? Will this be a local version of the mistakes made by local party officials in NY-23?

We will know soon as the choice is likely to be made on or about January 6, 2010 with any candidates required to submit their application no later than December 29, 2009.

As we predicted, additional potential candidates have come to the fore. One is former Frederick County Commissioner John Lovell. Mr. Lovell told the Frederick News Post that he wanted to be a "placeholder" and will not seek reelection in 2010. Good strategy since his last campaign resulted in him finishing 9th out of ten candidates for the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.

More disturbing about Mr. Lovell, though, is his past support for higher taxes, namely his vote for a hotel tax in Frederick County. This is exactly the mindset we need less of in Annapolis not more. How can the GOP make fiscal conservatism and opposition to the O'Malley tax increases central themes next year when their own local committee members choose tax raisers?

No doubt the fact that this process will play out during the holiday season will keep many from watching this process as closely as they should. That is why it is so critical that Maryland conservatives continue to inform themselves and let the Frederick County Republican Central Committee (http://www.frederickgop.org/ email them at info@frederickgop.org ) and Washington County Republican Central Committee (email their Chairman PaulaLampton@yahoo.com) know we are watching.

Again we invite the candidates for this appointment to address the readers of this blog.

You can read the FCRSCC announcement here.


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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from RedMaryland!


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson’s Self-Serving Collapse on Health Care Reform and Columnist Michael Gerson’s Critique and Retrenchment

--Richard E. Vatz

There is a “criminal element” in the NFL – famous observation by former Steeler Super Bowl coach Chuck Noll, referring to the infamous cowardly clubbing of the back of Steeler star Lynn Swann’s head away from the action by George Atkinson. Oakland Raider quarterback Kenny Stabler defended the hit with the eloquence one would expect from an enabler: “...a little outside of the rules, but that was George’s way of setting the tone for the game.”




Do you tend to be gullible? Did you believe nasty Republican operative Lee Atwater’s 1990’s contrition (when he was terminally ill) was sincere regarding his apologies for his rough political strategies? Had he not contracted brain cancer, he would still have had a deathbed conversion, yes?

Do you believe Jimmy Carter, the bane of American Jewish community (for his “Blame Israel First” rhetoric in his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid and near anti-Semitic statements since his failed presidency), is sincere when he apologizes for his “words or deeds” which may have “stigmatize[d] Israel?” His grandson Jason Carter is about to enter into battle for elective office.

On December 23rd Michael Gerson wrote the lead editorial in The Washington Post excoriating Senator Ben Nelson’s health care debate cloture-guaranteeing conversion, a move motivated by, as Mr. Gerson put it, Nelson’s being “offered and accept[ing] a permanent exemption from his state’s share of Medicaid expansion, amounting to $100 million over 10 years.“ Gerson then quotes South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham’s revulsion at “backroom deals that amount to bribes” and “seedy Chicago politics [that] personifies the worst of Washington.”

Gerson then adds another charge, that “Nelson caved” and “surrendered his beliefs” as well on the matter of allowing public funds to support abortion in many states, but not Nebraska. The motive for this too, Gerson implies, was “for $100 million.”

Pretty tough column, but pretty compellingly fair and accurate, no?

The next day, December 24, columnist Gerson was called by Sen. Nelson. Pursuant to the call, Gerson announced that he was grossly unfair to the Senator.

Nelson explained to the credulous Gerson that Nebraska’s singular right to be held harmless for Medicaid increases was not a motive for his (Nelson's) health care reform support, but was merely, as Gerson describes this explanation, “part of a legislative strategy to press for an ‘opt-out’ of Medicaid expansion for all states in the House-Senate conference.” Gerson concludes with this non sequitur: “We will see what the conference brings.”

Why would that prove Nelson’s original good faith? One wonders why Sen. Nelson didn’t make this point in, for example, his CNN interview following his change-of-heart.

Nelson tells Gerson that “the legislative language on abortion he [Nelson]accepted accomplishes most or all of what the Stupak amendment does in the House.” The Stupak amendment is unambiguous and reasonable regarding insurance coverage of medically non-required abortions. No pro-life leader shares Nelson’s protestations as to the equivalency of the no-insurance-supported-abortion wording in the Senate bill with that of the House bill, as Gerson makes clear.

Michael Gerson needs to learn that it is difficult to effectively criticize politicians if every non-substantive-but-kindly collegial response causes you to feel guilty for the criticism.

If I may amend Finley Peter Dunne’s famous aphorism, let me conclude that “Some Politics is Beanbag.”

Toughen up, Mr. Gerson. Sen. Nelson doesn't deserve a conservative enabler.


Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Judd Legum's still playing in the Mud

Sure, our friend Judd Legum may be running as a Democrat for Delegate in District 30, but that doesn't mean he's taking any time off from being a political hack for hire:

Gov. Paterson has hired the man who was responsible for "negative research" on then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to dig up dirt on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is preparing to run for governor, The Post has learned.

Paterson's campaign committee signed Maryland-based Judd Legum, research director for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's bitterly fought presidential primary campaign against Obama in 2008, to a five-week contract earlier this month, with the understanding that he would "prepare a research book on Cuomo" and other potential candidates for governor, said a prominent Democratic Party activist.

"Legum is the guy who did a lot of the opposition research work on Obama, and now Paterson's people are outsourcing that kind of work on Cuomo to him," said the source, who demanded anonymity.

Legum, a friend of Paterson campaign spokeswoman and strategist Tracy Sefl, is being paid about $25,000 for the project, it was learned.

Legum confirmed that he had been hired by Paterson's campaign but, when asked to describe his job, insisted, "I really can't talk about that now," and hung up the phone.

Repeated attempts to reach Legum for additional comment were unsuccessful.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Screwing the Pooch

The Anne Arundel County Council approved the zoning change that will allow slot machines at Arundel Mills Mall tonight. This is, of course, a completely ridiculous zoning change that will allow a slot machine parlor to be constructed in an area of the county that not only doesn't want slots, but also has enough problems with crime at Arundel Mills itself to deal with without the construction of a new, larger magnet for petty crime.

The bigger context of this story, however, is once again how badly Governor O'Malley and Maryland Democrats screwed up when they approved the Constitutional change that allowed for slot machines in the first place.

The County Council was basically pressured into allowing slot machines at Arundel Mills. There is no way around it. Pressure was coming from the Governor's office, from Legislative leaders, from County Executive John Leopold (once he decided that he was for slots after opposing them for so many years).

But why was so much pressure exerted on the County Council? It wasn't because Arundel Mills was the optimal location for slot machines, particularly in light of the fact that one of the ostensible reasons slots became part of the conversation was to save horse racing. No, the real reason the Council was pressured into the Arundel Mills site is because of the boneheaded decision to allow slot parlors in Anne Arundel County only within two miles on either side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Had the Arundel Mills site failed, then no slots parlor in Anne Arundel County would have been able to open without the adoption of another Constitutional Amendment changing the location requirement (one of the many reasons that I was against the amendment despite being pro-gambling).

Now Marylanders, and particularly those folks in the Hanover/Jessup area, are stuck with a slots parlor nobody wants because Governor O'Malley and General Assembly leaders didn't have the moxie to adopt a slots bill on their own without passing the buck on to the voters of Maryland. What a sad, sad display showing the ramifications of leaders who take no responsibility.

The irony of course; table gaming is coming to Charles Town, probably rendering a lot of this conversation moot and sending a lot of Maryland's gambling dollars to West Virginia....

(Crossposted)


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Progressive Economics: Paying More To Get Less

I must once again take my former grad school professor the estimable Allan Lichtman to task a fallacy in his Gazette column.

Lichtman puts heavy emphasis on the reduction of greenhouse gasses, especially on what Maryland can do to curb quote pollution unquote and that we must pay the costs in higher energy prices now for a future long term climate gain.

As GK Chesterton said “fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” The progressive infatuation of emission reductions is a fallacy of the first order.

That progressives always speak in terms of emission reductions is the proverbial poker tell. They can spout off about all manner of emissions averted but never a word about temperatures averted. Why? Because they know that emissions reductions schemes do nothing to reduce temperature. The federal cap and trade scheme, Waxman-Markey would produce a climatically meaningless one-nine hundredth of a degree change in global temperature. Even the most ardent of climate alarmists will admit that if fully implemented the Kyoto Protocol would have produced an undetectable slowing of warming by 0.7 degrees, hence their cry for 30 Kyotos.

That’s a pittance of a benefit for the massive costs. Yet that is to be expected given that economic analysis of Maryland’s of cited Climate Action Plan revealed that:

1. CCS failed to quantify benefits in a way that they can be meaningfully compared to costs;
2. When estimating economic impacts, CCS often misinterpreted costs to be benefits;
3. The estimates of costs left out important factors, causing CCS to understate the true costs of its recommendations.

And:

For policymakers, the CAP report offers no worthwhile guidance. The report fails to quantify the monetary benefits of reduced GHG emissions rendering its cost savings estimates implausible if not downright unbelievable. The faulty analysis contained in the CAP report leaves policymakers with no basis on which to judge the merits of the CAP report’s recommendations for action on the mitigation of GHG emissions.

Paying more to get less: the essence of progressive economics.


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A Time For Decision

As my colleague Brian Griffiths has reported, Delegate Rick Weldon has announced his resignation from the House of Delegates. While I will leave Delegate Weldon's political post-mortem to others, this action creates the opening I reported about previously.

The decision is now in the hands of the Frederick and Washington County Republican State Central Committees as to who will represent District 3B in the House of Delegates. In talking with committee members, it seems there may be many individuals wishing to be considered. I am also told that the process will be open and transparent.

Good news.

In that spirit, I invite all Maryland conservatives to contact the committee members and let them know that we are watching and that we expect their choice will reflect not only the citizens of District 3B but the best values of our party. You can do so via email at info@frederickgop.org and for the chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee at PaulaLampton@yahoo.com.

One candidate wasted no time announcing his intent to seek Delegate Weldon's seat, Michael Hough. As I reported earlier, Mr. Hough is already running an active campaign for this seat. Here is what he had to say:

"I have been actively campaigning for this seat for almost two years with the full expectation that I would face the judgment of voters in 2010. My family, friends, and supporters have worked tirelessly during this period and we have achieved a great deal to this point. We have raised approximately $60,000 from almost four hundred individuals, gained support from a number of prominent Republicans including Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, Senator Alex X. Mooney, Delegate Joseph Bartlett, and seven other members of the Maryland General Assembly. In addition we have begun a grassroots effort and knocked on over 1,000 doors this summer in order to introduce myself to voters.

I also believe as a Ronald Reagan Republican, I would best represent the core conservative values of the Republican Party."

In addition to the supporters mentioned in this announcement, Mr. Hough has also received the support of Delegate Nic Kipke (R-31).

As I stated before, I urge all conservatives to be involved and pay attention to this process and invite any other candidates for this position to share with our readers why they should be selected to succeed Delegate Weldon.


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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Democratic Moral Cowardice in Baltimore City: the Case of the Silence That Greeted Sheila Dixon’s Wrongdoing

--Richard E. Vatz

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality” -- Dante Alighieri in The Inferno



Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the popularity of people who are unusually personally attractive due to their intelligence, accomplishments, humor and/or kindnesses, but who are gutless when it comes to challenging the ethical outrages of their friends or supporters.

Such challenges, when made seriously, are known by the words “political courage;” their absence is known by the word “cowardice.”

Examples of the cowardly avoidance of the responsibility to publicly deal with issues of right and wrong occur throughout life: the school principal who tolerates bullying of small children; the cop who winks at the brutal behavior of his or her colleague; and the politician who looks the other way when his or her party compatriots commit financial corruption or racial bigotry.

This list is certainly not all-inclusive, as examples are inexhaustible.

In Maryland and particularly in Baltimore – perhaps because their party is so dominant – the Democrats are the conspicuous moral cowards. Two issues demonstrate this beyond question: the first, about which this writer has previously published, is the just appalling Democratic silence when Michael Steele was depicted as “Simple Sambo” in a Democratic blog by the late Steve Gilliard or when state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden supported using vicious racist slurs against Mr. Steele since "party trumps race," or, more offensively, then-Democratic Del. Salima S. Marriott's horrifying statement that comparisons of Mr. Steele to a slave were deserved because he's a conservative. If Republicans did any of these things to a prominent Democratic politician, not to mention the lack of reaction to the 2002 racist attacks by The Baltimore Sun or the use of Oreo cookies to imply Steele was “white on the inside” at the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial debate, Democrats would have been apoplectic with indignant rage.

What Democrats did speak out against the reprehensible racial attacks on Michael Steele? To my knowledge, only then-NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and then-Rep. Al Wynn. The rest were content to let Michael Steele twist in the wind -- for what crime? For being a conservative and Republican African-American.

The second issue revealing Maryland Democrats’ -- or at least Baltimore City Democrats’ -- lack of ethical concerns is their toleration, without a peep, of the behaviors of Mayor Sheila Dixon until her conviction on one count of misappropriation of funds for taking gift cards for her own use that had been donated upon her request by Developer Patrick Turner for the needy.

Mayor Dixon’s crossing the line of financial propriety is a serial affair. It includes, but is not limited to, her machinations relating to not revealing her sister’s employment with the city to her failure to report her relationship to Ronald Lipscomb and receipt of furs and other gifts on the heels of forging tax breaks for him.

When Mayor Dixon’s defense team made their closing remarks in her trial, the Mayor’s political cronies applauded and walked out of the courtroom derisively. Until her conviction on that one count of misappropriation of funds, no major (or minor, I believe)Democratic politician in Maryland openly criticized any of her ethically questionable behaviors of the last few years.

Do you like one-party rule of Baltimore City? Do you like political corruption?

Your answer must be “yes” or “no” to both questions.



Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rumors of Rick Weldon's Honesty Apparently Were Greatly Exaggerated....

"Just for the record, rumors of my political death have been GREATLY exaggerated."
- Delegate Rick Weldon here on RedMaryland, December 1, 2009

"Mayor Randy McClement appointed former state delegate Rick Weldon to executive assistant to the mayor Friday....

...Weldon officially resigned from his state delegate position Thursday night."
- WHAG-TV, December 18, 2009
Then again, nobody said Rick Weldon was anything but self-serving...


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Not Good Enough

Well it looks like the General Assembly's Spending Affordability Committee has advised Governor O'Malley to freeze state spending when he introduces his FY2011 budget next month.And while I commend the fact that even legislative Democrats realize our spending growth has gotten untenable, it still is not enough action being taken on the part of the legislature.

Fortunately, Republicans on the Committee tried to show Democrats the way:

Republicans rebuked O'Malley and Democratic leaders, accusing them of fiscal mismanagement. Some contend the state shouldn't accept federal stimulus funding, while others predict Democrats will temporarily reduce spending next year and then propose tax increases after the November 2010 election to fix a structural deficit.

A GOP proposal before the spending committee sought a 7 percent decrease in year-over-year spending. It failed on a party-line vote.
Nobody is surprised that this failed on a party line vote. But it is absolutely correct that state cannot and should not maintain spending at it's current levels. Spending has already increased over the past several years at levels that we cannot afford. And that spending problem is only partially the result of the national economy. As we have noted again, and again, and again, the reasons Maryland has a spending affordability problem are:
  • Unnecessary increases in social spending, that led to;
  • Historic and immoral tax increases, that led to;
  • Lower revenue and a higher costs for Maryland's small businesses, that led to;
  • Fewer jobs and a higher cost of living for Maryland's middle and working class families, that led to;
  • Lower tax revenues.
And of course we have talked extensively about wasteful spending and tax policy before.

The State of Maryland has a spending problem and our legislative leadership needs to cut spending. NOW. And until Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly decide to do right by Maryland's middle and working class families, Maryland will continue to have spending affordability and revenue problems.

Marylanders need responsible leadership. We get that chance in 2010...

(Crossposted)


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Do MD Dems Even Support Obamacare?

The Maryland Democrats’ new blogger really is a piece of work. In one swoop he’s managed to make himself look like a fool and make us wonder whether the Maryland party even supports their own president’s healthcare reform effort.

In a recent post he labels Bob Ehrlich's seconding of Charles Krauthammer’s position of taxing employer provided health plans, as supporting “a massive new tax on the middle class.” This is curious given that that is part of the Democratic health care plans in both the House and the Senate. Efforts which the Maryland Democrats—on their own website—exhort their drones to support!

Forget for a moment the blogger elides the meat of Krauthammer’s piece, which calls for tort reform and the lifting the restrictions to buying health insurance across state lines. Given that the tort lobby essentially owns the Democratic Party just look at the General Assembly (Mike Miller, Brian Frosh, Joe Vallarrio) I can see why he would omit that part. Furthermore, Democrats are the chief culprits for the lack of competition in Maryland i.e., the 66 state mandates that close off the state’s insurance market to competition.

No wonder he completely ignores these points. It puts the lie to all their hackish pablum about free markets and regulation.

In the political blogosphere making arguments matter. Posting clever little conceits you learned while working for Congress critters does not an argument make, especially when they are so easily dismantled.

When the Maryland Dems started a blog I looked forward to engaging in reasoned arguments with them. However, it looks like another hack operation.

To paraphrase the old saying…Turnbullshit happens.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Farewell to a Hack

The Washington Post Maryland Politics Blog is reporting that Maryland Insurance Commissioner Ralph Tyler is stepping down from his post to take a position with the FDA.

All I can say is good riddance.

Here's a primer on why Tyler is nothing more than an political hack and O'Malley bootlick.

BTW you can thank Tyler for the exacerbated BGE rate increases in 2006 and for insuring even less transparency in state and local government.


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Maryland's Own Climategate

Some may be aware of the climate change scandal emanating from the leaked emails out of East Anglia University’s Climate Research Unit. However, did you know there is a climate scandal in Maryland? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t, because as with the CRU story the state’s liberal media outlets aren’t interested in covering this scandal either.

Despite the utterly debunked “consensus” on global warming, Maryland’s climate fear mongers are boring full speed ahead with implementing their own draconian burdens on the state’s economy and taxpayers. And much like the scientists involved in the CRU scandal, our own alarmists don’t want the public to know what they are doing either.

In fact, secrecy has been the hallmark of state climate policy under Governor Martin O’Malley. In 2007, O’Malley hired the Center for Climate Strategies, a global warming alarmist advocacy group, to manage the state climate commission. Initially, the Maryland Department of the Environment refused to release documents pertaining to CCS. Then, after media scrutiny, the department agreed to release the information. However, MDE charged exorbitant fees. MDE billed me over $1,300 for copying charges, even though I requested the information electronically. It will cost you a similar price to find out which special interest groups are writing the regulations (cap and trade) for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. What did they want to hide?

Perhaps MDE was concerned the public would see a draft memo from CCS instructing them that commission participants, “will not debate the science of climate change.” What’s the point of a commission if the outcome is predetermined? Much like the scientists now under fire, Maryland warmists feared honest debate about global warming.

Maybe MDE doesn’t want the public to know about the left wing environmental foundations funding CCS’ work in Maryland. For example, the board of directors of the progressive Town Creek Foundation in Easton MD, gave CCS a $100,000 grant to “facilitate policy recommendations” for the state climate commission. Donald Boesch, director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, sits on the Town Creek board. Boesch just also happens to chair the commission’s scientific and technical working group. Town Creek gave UMCES $143,000 over the last three years, $70,000 specifically to assist the commission produce its final climate action plan. Peer review of the plan’s economic analysis by the Beacon Hill Institute revealed that it “offered no worthwhile guidance” for policy makers, and “no basis to judge the merits of its recommendations.”

Town Creek gave over $400,000 to the state’s leading environmental lobbying/activists groups, Environment Maryland and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to agitate for the GHG Reduction Act. Indeed, Environment Maryland’s director—and commission member—Brad Heavner boasted that his organization was the “lead policy/lobbying group” in passing the bill.
A stacked state commission bought and paid for by environmental foundations. Legislation and policy recommendations, written and formulated by environmental activists paid for by the same environmental foundation. In any state but Maryland that’s a scandal.


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A Friendly Reminder

Hey, I'm as happy as anybody that so many people are protesting health care in DC. I really am. The fact that 15,000+ people took the time to go downtown today, on a work day, and protest says a lot about their passion and the anger being felt by millions of Americans over the Democrats attempts to bankrupt the country and ruin our health care system.

But this is the easy party. Unless these protesters are willing to put in the grunt work, the long hours, to donate their time, their money, and their sweat to candidates who are willing to fight for their values in Annapolis, in Washington, then it will all be for naught.

My point is that it's real easy to bitch, but it's not so easy to work hard and lead. Our party and our nation needs leaders and workers right now a heck of a lot more than we need protesters...

(Crossposted)


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Rah Rah Cis Boom Bah Yay Stimulus


That the Baltimore Sun is a cheerleader for all things Obama is a given. However, their latest “for make benefit of glorious leader” effort is simply juvenile.

Paul West takes issue with Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain “misstating” the purpose of a $28,900 NIH stimulus grant to a University of Maryland graduate student.

Coburn said the grant’s purpose was to determine “whether methamphetamine gives female rats an overpowering desire to have sex.” While the graduate student says the purpose of her study is to “‘explore the molecular underpinnings’ of meth-induced sexual behavior and would use immunocytochemistry and other advanced techniques to examine the drug's impact on brain cells in rats.”
West also notes that Coburn has been champion for publicizing the dangers of methamphetamines.
Oh the hypocrisy. West must be patting himself on the back for Herculean achievement in hair splitting to uncover such base duplicity.

Furthermore, West elides Coburn’s point that the grant, like most of the stimulus does not in actually help the economy. I’ll concede that some of the NIH grants do create jobs. However, these jobs are temporary and last only a few years until the grant money runs out. They aren’t the long lasting jobs created through sustained economic growth. Most grants go to support researchers, who are usually already tenured faculty. The jobs created are for lower level support staff and research assistants, who are paid a pittance.

It is instructive that while the AP and other newspapers are uncovering over 90,000 bogus jobs “saved or created,” by the $787 billion stimulus; the Sun’s senior political reporter’s instinct is to lamely defend the stimulus by parsing the words of it’s critics.

Heaven forbid West look into the $2,900 grant to Applicator’s Inc to restripe a parking lot at Andrews Air Force Base, which claimed to save seven jobs at a whopping $418. Or the Silver Spring surveying company, which reported ten jobs created with stimulus money it hasn’t received for a project it has yet to start.


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This Speaks for Itself

It's the number of people who, you know, oppose Obamacare:



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Monday, December 14, 2009

Meaningless Numbers

The left has decided to examine Governor Ehrlich's chances of unseating Martin O'Malley next year, and Adam Pagnucco decided to start his analysis with the most meaningless statistic in all of politics: voter registration data.

Overall, the Democrats have an absolute majority (at 56.9%) and outnumber Republicans by better than two-to-one. But the total numbers mask the geographic domination of the Democrats and the regional isolation of the GOP.

The Democrats have more than 50% of registered voters in eight jurisdictions: Baltimore City and Baltimore, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Somerset Counties. Those jurisdictions account for 60% of the state’s registered voters. The Republicans have more than 50% of registered voters in two jurisdictions: Carroll and Garrett Counties, which account for just 4% of the state’s registered voters.

Let’s lower the threshold to 40%. The Democrats have more than 40% of registered voters in 18 jurisdictions (all except Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Queen Anne’s and Washington Counties) that account for 88% of the state’s registered voters. The Republicans have more than 40% of registered voters in eight jurisdictions: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Washington Counties, which account for just 17% of the state’s registered voters.
All of which, statistically speaking, was incredibly similar to the numbers that then-Congressman Ehrlich faced in 2002 when he defeated Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Pagnucco goes on to continue with his analysis:
Registration does not always determine voting behavior. Maryland is a state in which Democrats can and do vote for Republicans, the most successful of whom has unquestionably been Bob Ehrlich. But all of the above means that the Democrats have a far broader reach across the state than does the GOP. Western Maryland is the only region in which the Democrats struggle to compete. The Republicans are non-competitive in three of the state’s four biggest jurisdictions (Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties) and lag Democrats in Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, fast-growing Charles County and even some parts of the Eastern Shore. All of this is a hurdle that any statewide GOP candidate would have to overcome.
Which of course, is also completely meaningless. When you look at voting results, and not voting registration, you see a picture that is, statistically speaking, more of a level playing field for Republicans running in Maryland; particularly a more-moderate, high-name ID Republican such as Bob Ehrlich. And, of course you need to look no further than the aforementioned Anne Arundel County to notice that a Democratic-majority county has elected this decade a Republican County Executive, Clerk of the Court, Register of Wills, two Circuit Court Judges who ousted Democratic appointees, three Judges of the Orphans Court, four of seven County Council Members, a majority of the Delegates, half of the State Senators, and gave two solid majorities to Bob Ehrlich and George W. Bush, and even one to John McCain.

What does this all mean? It means that voter registration numbers as a means of determining voter performance are completely useless......which was something Pagnucco could have learned had he read my analysis from six months ago, the last time he tried this argument.

If Democrats are hanging their hat on voter registration numbers to bail them out next year, Bob Ehrlich and the Republican Party may be in better shape that even we think...

(Crossposted)


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The Law and Order Myth of Frank Kratovil

Frank Kratovil, who campaigned for Congress in 2008 on a law and order message, is finding his record coming back to haunt him.

In 2004 Kratovil charged Dontell Lamont Guy with 16 criminal counts, two of which included selling drugs to minors and assault with a deadly weapon. See here, here, and here.
However, Kratovil dropped all but three of the charges as part of plea bargain. Guy served only three year sentence out of a possible 33 had Kratovil pursued the charges.

In 2008, Kratovil again charged Guy on four criminal counts including attempted murder in a drive by shooting. And once again Kratrovil went soft and dropped all but one charge in that case resulting in a mere 18-month sentence for Guy.

Guy is now on the Queen Anne’s County most wanted list for violating conditions of his parole (he was busted on drugs and weapons charges.)

So much for law and order.


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Sunday, December 13, 2009

President Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: Conflictedness from The Conflicted Presidency

--Richard E. Vatz

It’s one of those moments that is devastatingly embarrassing to those of us who are neurotic: on the heels of someone’s oleaginous public compliment regarding your profound perspicacity and wisdom, your honest judgment requires you to publicly disagree with that person’s values or policies.

On October 9 President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which, parenthetically, made some conservatives feel incredulous and some conservatives write satires. The Committee’s goal, one might speculate, was to persuade President Obama to abjure using America’s military might in favor of “diplomacy only” to solve international problems.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s press release stated that the Prize was “...awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples...[d]ialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts...”

How to reconcile his Nobel Peace Prize with: 1. his fighting two wars and his newly aggressive, if seriously conflicted, policy in Afghanistan as well as, 2. his plausibly keeping open, at least rhetorically, the prospect of military actions to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons? This was the goal of President Obama’s December 10, 2009 speech, delivered in Oslo, accepting the Nobel Prize.

How did President Obama do?

1. His humility in accepting the too-early-awarded Prize, if he was going to accept the Prize in the first place, was perfect in its timing (early in the speech) and tone, citing and detailing many who were “far more deserving of this honor than I.”

2. As a seminal principle, the President convincingly disavowed the pacifistic, naïve philosophy of non-violence as the answer to all aggression: “There will be times when nations...will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified...evil does exist in the world...” A conservative creed for President Obama? Belated homage to George W. Bush? And how about President Obama’s acknowledgement in this speech that democratic countries tend to become non-aggressive?

3. The President carefully avoided indicating whether force is even an option respecting Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons – the Obama fatal flaw, in this writer’s opinion.

4. The President did reiterate his own credulous and ambiguous prohibition of “torture” and support for war only as a “last resort.” The former position ignores all of the evidentiary disputes regarding the necessity and historical success of intimidation for, say, acquiring quick information to counter imminent threats. The latter position ignores but does not refute President George W. Bush’s doctrine of war which implies that to wait too long before countering a threat may ensure catastrophe.

5. President Obama ended his speech by praising nonviolence as our “moral compass,” seeming to honor the peaceful intentions of those presenting him his benefaction while implying that they are unrealistic. They represent, he implied in his speech, those who live in a “world that ought to be.” The essence of this speech is its penultimate sentence: “We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.”

The good news from this Nobel Prize acceptance speech is that the Nobel Peace Prize rhetoric has not persuaded President Obama to become a president of undiluted pacifism, the policy misperceived by many to produce worldwide peace by being a model of behavior that would inexorably produce peace by example.

The bad news from this speech is that President Obama’s muddled goals and uncertain exit strategy in Afghanistan and disinclination to use military action in Iran while not ruling it out show what a conflicted president he is.

What a perfect speech: conflicted values and conflicted policy considerations from a thoroughly conflicted president.




Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


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Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!




To our Jewish friends and readers, I like to extend wishes for a Happy Hanukkah. May this holiday season bring your family happiness and peace. Shalom.


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