Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Continuing Saga of Derek Fink

Derek Fink's stock seems to be falling faster than Barack Obama's as more discussion goes on regarding his business arrangements with Cookie Kiser.

Below is an image of a letter that is circulating regarding Fink's conduct in the matter, and it does not paint a very pleasant picture of Fink's conduct during this matter.


Bottom line is that Derek Fink does not at all seem like he is on the up and up.....

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Brian Griffiths Minute: 01-30-2010



PS: This is comedy folks. A serious point being made in an unserious way. If you are offended by this......ligthen up.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

"It's Miller Time"

Red Maryland has obtained exclusive video of the the first case to come before newly appointed Anne Arundel County District Court Judge Thomas V. Miller III.


More below the fold.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where there is Smoke....

If you remember the Derek Fink story from earlier this month, you can conclusively say that there is trouble in paradise for Fink. Just check out the Facebook fan page for Cookie's Kitchen restaurant:

In an attempt to create clarity Cookie Kiser owner of Cookies Kitchen, Cookies City Line Diner & Cookies Bay Meadow Grill would like to make the following announcement: She no longer has any affiliation personally, professionally or politically with DEREK FINK.
I think that settles one aspect of this story. But I can't wait until we really get to the bottom of this one....

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Sunshine and Open Government

Again pointing out as I did last month about how certain issues bring the left and the right together, Adam Pagnucco discusses one of the issues on which we agree and how Delegate Heather Mizeur from Montgomery County is leading the push for the Open Government Act which will make public access to the up-to-minute bill tracking service, post agendas online in advance, allow hearings of Committees and the Board of Public Works to be broadcast over the internet, and other good government ideas.

You know, bringing the General Assembly into the 21st Century.

As I stated before, open government is better government no matter what side of the aisle you're on. And as before, I encourage all Republicans, including all members of Republican House and Senate Caucuses who have not already pledged their to support, to support such this legislation and help bring the business of Maryland out into the open.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

President Barack Obama’s First State of the Union: Obfuscatory Rhetoric

--Richard E. Vatz

There are many definitions of good speechifying, but one memorable such definition is the medieval Roman Quintilian’s “A Good Man Speaking Well.” Add to this one of the standard definitions of rhetoric as the competition for agenda and spin, and you have all the criteria you need to evaluate President Obama’s first State of the Union Address: A Good Man Using Obfuscatory Rhetoric.

In terms of elocution, President Obama is one of the three best speakers the American presidency has offered in the last 50 years. Only Presidents Kennedy and Reagan had his exquisite delivery, apparent sincerity and lack of insecurity. The President exhibited all of these qualities in his State of the Union speech (SOU). Informed likeability? He would stop for what passes as self-effacement, such as his warm, smiling caution that he assumes no one thought he supported health care because of its political advantage.

The speech itself, however, avoided major portentous matters pertinent to the state of America. The SOU was mainly about economic policy, and the president had a few concessions to give to Republicans and blue dog Democrats. The President was openly ridiculed – and he responded to the audience incredulity -- during his speech for announcing his 3-year spending freeze “next year” due to the current weakness of the economy. This non sequitur was to support putting off a policy the President perceives would hurt Democrats’ running for office in 2010.

Tax and spend? That is their nature. Health insurance reform, education reform tax cuts for those who are not well-to-do and holding entitlements harmless all belie Presidential efforts to curb the deficit, as do greatly dubious expenditures on the mammothly complex issue of whether humans can or should change climate of the earth. As the President unfairly oversimplified the politics of the question, “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change...but... the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”

President Obama challenged conservatives and Republicans to come up with ideas for health care, implying that they remain the population and party of “no.” No mention was made of the conservative consensus for tort reform which could significantly affect the costs of health care or the most undiscussed newly expensive Democratic health care reform component of mental health care parity.

The President, despite the political sea change caused by The Massachusetts Miracle of Scott Brown’s tortoise-hare victory over the over-vacationing Democrat Martha Coakley, seemed unwilling to change his priorities. New Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s Republican response to the SOU effectively made the overriding argument that, as Ronald Reagan said, government isn’t the solution, it is the problem.

Most disappointing in President Obama’s SOU was the short-shrift he gave to the foreign policy challenges which threaten the United States. He claimed generally that under his administration “we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation.” There was, however, no discussion of trying terrorists in the United States, or giving them Constitutional protections which hurt our ability to gather intelligence about terrorist operations. Moreover, there were brief but unilluminating mentions of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear weapon adventurism. Can there be more critical issues relating to the state of the union than nuclear proliferation? In fleeting references to North Korea and Iran President Obama promised that they face isolation and unspecified “consequences.”

President Barack Obama has given a most disappointing State of the Union Address that obfuscates the real and serious problems facing our country by not addressing them adequately or accurately. Elocution-wise, however, he is the best.

Students of speech: substance matters even when hidden by elocutionary brilliance.




Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


More below the fold.

Red Maryland Table Game Poll Results

The results of the Red Maryland Table Gaming poll are in. 74 people responded to our Survey Monkey poll. The results are of course, unscientific.

I would have put in all the cross tab/charts bells and whistles, but that requires a paid upgrade for Survey Monkey, and contrary to popular belief we're NOT funded by the vast right wing conspiracy.

Any way on to the results (spreadsheet below)

74% of respondents favored expanding gambling to include table gaming in Maryland. 26% opposed it.

92% want any expansion to table gaming coupled with a rollback of the sales tax to 5%.

45% of Marylanders wanted to see any revenues from expaded gambling go to general revenues. 23% want it socked away in the rainy day fund, 22% want it to fund education, about 10% want to see the funds used for transportation, and a whopping 1%want it used to expand state programs.


More below the fold.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Talk about Rapid Response...

A response to the State of the Union from Eric Cantor:



More below the fold.

O'Malley Continues To Weasel On The Death Penalty

Two years ago I took Governor O'Malley to task for his flagrant refusal to uphold his constitutional duty in regards to carrying out the death penalty in Maryland. This was not rooted in a strong belief in the death penalty on my part, though I have admit it goes a long way towards reducing recidivism, but rather a criticism of the inherent gutlessness of the former Baltimore mayor.

O'Malley has two legitimate choices. He needs to either start signing death warrants or he needs to begin an active program of granting clemency. He refuses to do either because he knows his base is congenitally averse to punishing crime and he lacks the moral courage to man up and take the heat for commuting death sentences.

Finally, someone else notices. The Washington Post's Charles Lane makes the same arguments:

O’Malley’s inability to muster one plausible, principled reason not to commute the death sentences tells me that he’s playing politics. O’Malley’s liberal Democratic party base dislikes the death penalty. But, overall, voters in the state support it 53 percent to 41 percent -- and much of that support is concentrated in Baltimore County, a swing jurisdiction in statewide elections. Clearing death row might turn pro-death penalty voters against O’Malley and hurt his re-election chances this fall.

I suppose O’Malley’s re-election might be so important to the long-run cause of abolishing the death penalty in Maryland that it is worth exposing five actual condemned men to prolonged uncertainty, not to mention the risk of possible execution, in the here and now. But I’d sure like to see someone try to argue that publicly.

Meanwhile, O’Malley ducks the issue of executive clemency -- to the extent he thinks about it at all. He’s right: they don’t give medals for that.





More below the fold.

Tom Schaller Lets the Progressive Cat Out Of The Bag

Tom Schaller’s Baltimore Sun columns are usually full of the latest and greatest progressive fallacies. However, his latest column “Policies favoring conservatism built into the system” contains both a “well duh” moment and a stunning admission.

The “well duh moment” is Schaller’s revelation that our constitutional order has built-in conservative features. Yes, that’s true because conservatism is rooted in the classical liberal ideals of the American founding. Thank you captain obvious!


The president and his partisans overlook the Massachusetts result at their peril. But the big news - frustrating as it should be for Democrats and liberals - is hardly news at all, for the asymmetries that favor conservatism as an ideological orientation, and the status quo in American politics more generally, are an old and familiar story for which last week was merely the newest chapter.Let me preface the following analogy by clarifying that I am not equating conservatives or Republicans to terrorists. But enacting progressive change is akin to defending against terror in one important way: Progressives must win repeatedly and at every stage, whereas those opposed to change typically need to win but once, at any stage. Power is as power resists.

The tacit admission there, which I find stunning, is that Schaller damn near openly admits what progressives have long sought to hide: their hostility to the Constitution specifically the checks and balances that diffuse power, which in turn prohibit a majority faction from running roughshod over the nation.

Of course, anyone who knows anything about history knows that from it’s inception the progressive movement sought to overturn the old classically liberal constitutional order of the founders. Progressive dashboard saints Thomas Dewey, Herbert Croly, and Woodrow Wilson especially viewed the constitution and it’s negative liberty as a bloated corpse standing in the way of realizing their vision of the modern god-state. The intellectual roots of American progressivism (and European fascism) are found in the works of German philosopher Friedrich Hegel, who in his book, The Philosophy of History, wrote “the state is the actually existing, realized moral life… It must further be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses -- all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the state. For Hegel and his progressive progeny the state is “the divine idea as it exists on earth.”

After all it was early progressives, who labeled classical liberalism as “conservative,” and themselves as liberals. Indeed Hillary Clinton in a 2007 presidential primary debate admitted more than she probably cared to when she said “I prefer the word 'progressive,' which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century."
The same is true to the man who defeated her in the primary. When President Obama said he wanted to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” he meant it. He is merely the most recent in a long line of progressives whacking away at our constitutional order for the last 100 years. Don’t believe me? Then read Obama’s own words on the subject.

Schaller’s admission aside he still propagates old myths, which amount to an intellectual stolen base.

When conservative commentators grumble that "America is a center-right nation," they are right in one, undeniable sense: The institutional dynamics of American politics favor doing less in general, and yet more in the pursuit and preservation of powerful, monied interests. Nobody familiar with the long, slow, costly political battles for abolition, labor equality, consumer protection, civil rights and women's rights would dare argue otherwise.


While it is true that progressives championed these causes they were not central to the progressive project. Schaller’s rhetoric merely repeats the old Orwellian myth the progressivism is merely a synonym for “all good things.” It isn’t. Progressivism has some ugly skeletons in it’s closet. It’s pre-war admiration for it’s sister fascistic movements in Europe, it’s racism and eugenics, and it’s corporatist embrace of those “monied interests” Schaller so decries.

In fact, it was those retrograde checks and balances that thwarted the darker angels of progressivism. And that’s the point. The ordered liberty of the American founding, exemplified by modern conservatism isn’t opposed to change rather it is opposed to radical change that will throw out the baby with the bathwater as progressivism does.

Perhaps midway through the piece Schaller realizing he let the proverbial cat out of the bag, so he shifts gears to hide the fact by doubling down on progressive fallacies.


…yet just a year earlier, when in September 2008 major investment firms faced their possible demise, financial titans and their Washington supplicants joined in an eight-day emergency session to move the government levers needed to bail out the very institutions that caused the economic crisis. And now those same titans can funnel even more money to those same supplicants, thanks to the decision by the conservative activists controlling the Supreme Court. This merry band, who cherish "precedent" right up until the moment their nominations are confirmed, essentially ruled that a corporation has the same rights as a citizen. Let's end our self-delusions about popular rule and just re-write the Constitution's preamble to read, "We the corporations, in order to form a more perfect balance sheet …"

As GK Chesteron said, “fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions,” and here’s why.

Many of those “Washington supplicants” are progressives, namely president Obama who supported TARP I and continued the abomination with TARP II. Let’s also remember that corporate donors gave more to the progressive Obama by order of magnitude than to the ostensible conservative McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign. Obama the progressive received $20 million from the healthcare industry—three times more than McCain.

It isn’t those greedy free market conservatives who favor big business rather it is progressive corporatists who like their government and their corporations big. As Jonah Goldberg notes for progressives it’s easier to herd a few corporatist oxen than a thousand free market cats toward their Hegleian ends. What was true in the early progressive era and the New Deal holds in the era of Obamanomics. It is the monied interests, who want a return on their investment, lining up get their handouts from the Obama administration. Whether it is General Electric on cap and trade or the insurance industry and Big Pharma on health care reform, the game is an inherently progressive construct.

It’s an amazing thing watching progressives come undone by the inherent contradictions between their rhetoric and their reality.


More below the fold.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Judd Legum is Gutless, and other facts of life

I'm going to be straight about it: Judd Legum (D-Soros) has no balls.

Word on the street was that Judd Legum was mad about my post detailing the truth behind his campaign cash haul last week. So instead of manning up and saying so himself on his own blog, his own website, or his own Twitter feed like any normal person would, Legum decided to put the "yellow" in "Yellow-Dog Democrat" and recruited a flunky, Anne Arundel County Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Thibodeau, to do it for him four days after the fact with a post up on Maryland Politics Watch.

Yeah, it's real scintillating stuff too, made more impressive by the fact that Thibodeau in his pathetic defense of the feckless Legum concedes virtually every major point that I was trying to make about Legum being a product of out of state Democratic interests.

The one point that Thibodeau really really wanted to pounce on was this:

Well, it’s only beyond comprehension if one doesn’t realize that the Thayaparans are part of Legum’s family. His in-laws, to be precise. Had Griffiths bothered to do a simple Google search of “Judd Legum Thayaparan”, he would have found several references to Judd Legum and Roshini Thayaparan. Roshini is Judd’s wife. So either Griffiths didn’t bother to check something basic – that the donations in questions were from his family – or Griffiths did in fact know and thought it would make great copy to insinuate something shady was going on. Either way, bad form, Brian.
Apparently, Stephen Thibodeau has a magic Google which some connects the word wife and/or marriage to the two names. Because I searched the names four days ago. I searched them again today. And, of course, there is no connection to the casual observer. I would refer you to the extensive biography of Legum located on Legum's campaign webiste....except one doesn't exist on Legum's website.

So, to summarize Thibodeau's main points:
  • Raising money from out of state is OK if it's family.
  • Dancing around the fact that a number of small contributions came from a small number of people donating multiple times is OK.
  • Rasing 71.2% of your campaign funds for a local race is OK.
  • Don't look at us, look at Ron George!
I guess we now know why Anne Arundel County has a Republican Majority....

(And as an aside; during this filing period, Delegate Ron George had four donations made from out of state. Four. That means that 98.5% of Ron George's total donations and 98.3% of all dollars raisedwere from Maryland donors)

Again, I point out that Thibodeau concedes every major point that I made. And to boot, he refuses to deny that Legum's campaign, while not taking money from state PACs and lobbyists, is raking in big money from Washington-based, federal lobbyists who are part of the Clinton machine.

The funniest thing about this however, is the fact that poor old Judd Legum is angry because somebody dared to question. And let's not forget here, that Legum is a product of the hypercompetitive political environment from the Clinton Campaign Machine. Apparently, Judd Legum can dish out the heat, but he can't take it when the spotlight is foisted upon himself.

I like to think of it as a football fan who wants to criticize the decision making of the team's quarterback; sure it looks easy when you're watching it on TV. But I can tell you from stepping is as a quarterback for my social league touch football team that it's a whole different animal when it's you scrambling around in the pocket.

And to top it all off, Judd Legum didn't even have the intestinal fortitude to respond himself. He had to find somebody else to do his heavy lifting for him. So, so sad.

Here's some advice Judd; if you want to represent the people of District 30, you're going to have to make the tough decisions on your own. You can't get other people to fight your battles for you in those time when you curl up in the fetal position, suck your thumb, and act like a lily-livered coward. If you don't grow a spine, you're just going to make more of an joke out of yourself than you already have.

Next time you need to say something....say it yourself.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

We Need Transparency From O'Malley As Well

Len Lazarick has a good write up on the transparency effort underway in the General Assembly and the speed bumps in the way.

I’d like to add that the campaign for transparency needs to extend to the executive branch.

While the legislature passed and Governor O’Malley signed The State Funding Accountability Act last year, the administration is refusing to implement the law.

StateStat is not the vaunted accountability tool it is made out to be, nor is O’Malley’s much lauded stimulus tracking program, which can’t tell you how a $2,900 grant saved seven jobs or why a Silver Spring firm reported 10 jobs saved with stimulus money it had not received for project it had yet to initiate.

This resistance to transparency also extends into the rest of the executive, especially the Maryland Department of the Environment. When O’Malley outsourced state global warming to an alarmist advocacy group—funded by radical environmentalists—MDE didn’t think concerned citizens had a right to know about it.

When I asked MDE for information about which special interests are writing Maryland’s cap and trade regulations, they weren’t too keen on releasing that information either.

Transparency should extend to all levels of government and it’s time for the O’Malley administration to match deeds to rhetoric.


More below the fold.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Deschenaux questions O'Malley Budget

Last week I called Martin O'Malley's budget irresponsible budgeting. Warren Deschenaux, the General Assembly's Chief Budget analyst, seems to agree:

Maryland lawmakers should consider a Plan B in case the roughly $389 million in federal stimulus funds Gov. Martin O'Malley is counting on to balance the state's budget doesn't materialize, the General Assembly's top budget analyst said Monday.

"Some have questioned whether that money is reliably in the bank," Warren G. Deschenaux said at a hearing. "I would say that is not a certainty. The question then is: What to do about it?"

Deschenaux also warned that the roughly $442 million in cash infusions from previously untouchable parts of the budget that O'Malley uses to help close the revenue hole "amounts to an erosion of accounting standards." But he stopped short of ruling the transfers out-of-bounds, saying they had been used during past downturns to keep services going.

"We've been doing this for a long time," he said. "There is very little that is actually new in terms of the thinking underlying the 'found money' aspect of this budget."
"An erosion of accounting standards." Seems like a synonym for irresponsible budgeting for me.

The question, of course, is what the General Assembly is going to be with Deschenaux's assessment, particularly in regards to the $389 million in Monopoly money that O'Malley invented in order to cover this budget shortfall. When the General Assembly's own policy analysts are telling them that a budget seems to be relying on gimmicks, smoke, and mirrors it (should) be incumbent upon them to make appropriate cuts in order to pass a responsible budget.

But I'm not holding my breath...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Dan Rodricks Needs a Time Out

Brian Griffiths usually has the duty of piercing the inflated progressive pieties slapped together in a Dan Rodricks’s column. Still, I felt compelled to weigh in on Dano’s latest tantrum.

The Supreme Court ruling for freedom of speech in Citizens United v. FEC has injured the frail progressive sensibilities of the constantly outraged Rodricks.

The Supreme Court -- the one George W. Bush gave us after the Supreme Court gave us George W. Bush -- says anything goes: Big corporations, already in control of most of the wealth and power in the United States, can now spend as much money as they like to support their favorite political candidates.

They can sway elections of senators and representatives and presidents with their millions and billions; they can destroy candidates who don't vote their way…


But now, the Supreme Court's supposedly nonactivist, conservative majority has returned this influence to corporations, saying the power of money -- of oodles and oodles of money -- is a form of protected speech. Guys on Wall Street can start wearing spats again.

No one with a minimal understanding of human nature and money should be happy about this. That includes conservatives.But, of course, conservatives have been crowing because they know this decision will have the same result of Bush v. Gore -- the election of a Republican.

Make that, the potential elections of many Republicans, and as soon as the midterm elections of 2010.


Rodricks high chair spoon-banging aside, the Supreme Court rebuking the legislative branch for failing to follow the Constitution—specifically the first amendment—is not judicial activism, rather the court fulfilling it's first duty.

Also, note how Rodricks conveniently leaves out the fact that those notoriously right wing labor unions are also free to give as much as they want. Or is Dano going to throw a fit over the fact that SEIU has the ability to spend more than the $60 million is spent to elect Barack Obama in 2008? Not to mention all the corporate swells, who constituted the majority of Barack Obama’s campaign contributors.

However, let us once again dispel the myth that corporations are inherently “Republican” or “right wing.” This progressive nostrum has an especially long half life, mostly due to the fact that progressives have done a good job at masking their own historical love affair with big business.

Let’s remember that the spat-wearing corporate fat cats Dano whines about: the insurance industry, Big Pharma, General Electric, Goldman Sachs are the same mustache twirling robber barons lining up behind Obamacare, and cap and trade.


More below the fold.

The University of Maryland School of Law's Environmental Lobbying Clinic

Why is the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic—an entity of the taxpayer funded University of Maryland School of Law—engaging in narrow political advocacy for environmental special interest groups?

Inquiring minds want to know.

According to a letter from the Maryland State Builders Association to University System of Maryland Chancellor, William Kirwan (see below) the Environmental Law Clinic is representing the various allied Maryland Riverkeepers in a petition to the EPA to withdraw the states delegated authority to administer the Clean Water Act’s pollution permitting program.

Law School

It's no secret that burdensome environmental regulations, which the current EPA is poised to implement, will further harm the state’s already reeling building and construction industry. The added regulatory tax means higher costs and fewer jobs for an industry that has already hemorrhaged 60,000 jobs.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the tax payer funded environmental law clinic has engaged in political advocacy for environmental special interests. During the 2009 General Assembly session the legislature passed and Governor O’Malley signed a law expanding legal standing rights to give citizens more power to challenge environmental permits. Guess who was the driving force behind it?:

…student attorneys in the Environmental Law Clinic were the primary researchers and drafters of this legislation. Clinic students worked countless hours researching standing laws in the other 49 states, attending coalition work group sessions, and quickly responding to research questions posed by various General Assembly members. The students also drafted testimony for witnesses who testified at the bill hearings; the witnesses were from a coalition comprising the individual Riverkeepers and other environmental organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 1000 Friends of Maryland, and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

In other words they are taxpayer funded lobbyists for narrow special interests.

Why are the Riverkeepers using taxpayer funded legal counsel when they could easily seek counsel from the primordial ooze of well-heeled trial lawyers from which their movement evolved?

Marylander’s—by an overwhelming 77% majority—believe the state should focusing on job creation rather than taking steps to reduce pollution in the Bay. It’s a good bet they don’t like their tax dollars going to organizations who work to limit job creation and economic growth in the state.


More below the fold.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Take the Red Maryland Table Gaming Poll


Take our short Survey Monkey poll on the question of expanding gambling in Maryland to include table games.
Click here to answer the poll questions.


More below the fold.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why Not Monorail?

There was much consternation when the recommendations came out last year for the construction of the Baltimore Red Line. The line of course would be new 14-mile light rail line being constructed from Woodlawn across the city all of the way to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus. The main portion of the line that drew the most opposition was the proposed surfacing of the Red Line on Boston Street in Canton, starting with the American Can Company building. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why this is such a problem; the plan would put two surface lines on a heavily trafficked entryway into the city. Many large trucks that go into Fells Point, Harbor East, and downtown have to use Boston Street as their entryway into the city, for example. And that says nothing of the disruptive effects on the Canton and Highlandtown communities from the surface line, leading to efforts to oppose the Red Line in those communities.

But the Red Line plan has other problems associated with it as well. Even the concept of tunneling major sections of the line will cause a number of disruptions at an enormous cost to taxpayers.

And that leads me to ask one simple question; why not build the Red Line using Monorail?

Monorail tends to be thought of as a more exotic method of transportation that is associated with tourism moreso than transportation. Many people are familiar with the Monorail at Disney World or the one in Seattle that are short lines that do not serve a public transit purpose. Monorail is being used, however, in places such as Las Vegas to provide a relatively short public transit capability for these areas.

But would Monorail have be a practical solution for the Red Line? Perhaps. Using Monorail would not require neither expensive tunneling, nor would it require disruption of traffic on city streets. The idea of an elevated monorail that is elevated above the streets would be no worse of an eyesore than tracks going down the center of the street, and would certainly be less of an eyesore than the elevated Metrorail tracks in Owings Mills. Nor would the creation of a monorail system create delays at at-grade intersections. Intermodal connections between the existing "Blue Line" (Cromwell-Timonium Light Rail) , "Green Line" (Baltimore Metro), bus lines and MARC Trains would be no more onerous and inconvenient than the current Red Line proposal,

Is Monorail a cost-effective alternative? Perhaps, particularly when you consider that the cost of building a monorail system is would be anywhere between $14 million and $93 million a mile depending on the system, and the Red Line project as currently envisioned will cost roughly $114 million a mile. Monorail systems (believe it or not) can also be leased from the providing companies as a more cost effective way of implementing the system. The state could also (as part of my quest for privatization) consider leasing the operating rights for a monorail system to a private vendor, requiring that the Vendor construct and then operate the system at particular price.

Is Monorail the silver bullet to solving problems with the Red Line? Probably not. There are trade-offs as well as benefits to the construction of any of these public transit projects. But certainly, we owe it to ourselves as taxpayers to ask state leaders to consider all alternatives to the current Red Line project. The prohibitive costs and the disruption to communities and traffic flow (particularly in Canton) demand the consideration of alternatives that alleviate these concerns.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Channeling Me

What a wonderful idea!

Maryland should consider legalizing "true casinos" that could include table games like blackjack and craps instead of just slot machines, a member of the state's Video Lottery Facility Location Commission said Friday.

D. Bruce Poole, an attorney from Washington County and former member of the House of Delegates, suggested the idea during a meeting of the panel. To legalize table games like blackjack or craps in Maryland, the state's voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment.

Poole cited not only the state's current fiscal problems due to the recession, but also Maryland's large structural deficit, in which the state is regularly spending more money than it receives in revenues, as reasons why the state should think bigger about expanded gambling.

"We need to talk about how to get ahead of the curve ... because we have a dire need for revenue," Poole said at a commission meeting convened to suggest potential changes to the state's slot machine law.

Poole also noted that neighboring states already have approved table games or have started moving in that direction.

"The other competitors are simply outstripping us," Poole said. "They're ahead of us."

West Virginia already has approved table games.

Poole also said table games are likely to attract wealthier clientele to Maryland facilities, where they could spend money not only on gambling but also on hotels and restaurants.

"I don't want to see the poor milked, but I wouldn't mind milking the wealthy," Poole said.
Why didn't somebody think of this before.....oh that's right. I've been championing the idea of table gaming for years because of the obvious fact that slots would not work to solve the budget problems that they were allegedly going to fix. I'm glad somebody has finally started to listen, even though the legalization of table games will take another constitutional amendment adopted by the voters of the state of Maryland due to the fiasco involved with adopting the slots amendment.

Now, maybe we can stop pretending slots are the solution to our budget woes, and take proactive steps to add gambling options that will actually produce revenue for the state...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Silly Progressive, Tax Cuts Are NOT Wealth Transfers to the Rich

I eagerly listened to the podcast of Center Maryland’s appearance with Marc Steiner on WEAA to see if Steiner would press them on their true nature. Unfortunately Steiner did not and his silence on the matter, especially when the issue of transparency came up, confirmed what I thought about him—Steiner likey their corporatism.

Even though I was shut out on that front, another guest, Matthew Weinstein of Progressive Maryland offered this gem of a comment in the context of tax cuts.

“The money is at the top in the American economy. We’ve seen the huge transfer of wealth under these conservative Republican policies since Reagan came in in 1980.”

Really tax cuts are transfers of wealth to the rich? Thus a central fallacy in progressive thought is exposed. Tax cuts are not transfers of wealth. Tax cuts are a government prohibition upon itself from taking even more money from wealth creators. Earth to Weinstein: It was never the government’s money to transfer in the first place. Weinstein’s inane comment merely reiterates tin eared tone deafness of progressives to basic concepts of liberty.

Contra Weinstein, it’s the rich, who foot the lions’ share of the bill for wealth transfers in America. Furthermore, as Stephen Moore has shown, lower tax rates means “progressivity—in terms of total taxes paid—has risen.” That is, lower taxes stimulate economic growth and hence overall increase tax receipts.

So keep on keeping on Matt, you make our arguments for us.


More below the fold.

Scare(d) Tactics

The Maryland Democratic Party is using an interesting if highly cynical tactic this election season. What happened to hope and change and the new politics? But I digress.

The Dems are trying to create a wedge between the tea party movement (vessel for voter the general angst against them) and Martin O’Malley’s presumptive Republican challenger—Bob Ehrlich—arguing that he is exploiting their outrage.

The clever little deceit in this ploy is that they would have us forget elections are referendums on incumbents and they and Martin O’Malley have exactly bupkis to run on. Pay no attention to the leprechaun behind the curtain!

So let’s talk about O’Malley the incumbent.

Speaking of exploitation, where is that roll back of the BGE rate increase O’Malley cynically exploited in 2006? O’Malley increased electricity rates by 85% and that’s not counting the unnecessary fee increase from RGGI, and the indirect regulatory increases sure to come from the state’s version of cap and trade. We could no more about this, but the O’Malley administration doesn’t want you to know who is writing the regulations.

Speaking of transparency, O’Malley’s rhetoric about accountability is just that because his vaunted State Stat is joke. Furthermore, he is refusing to implement the state’s transparency law.

O’Malley increased spending by the same amount he enacted in the largest tax increase in state history he enacted in 2007? That tax increase was supposed to solve the state’s structural deficit. It hasn’t. O’Malley’s reckless spending has only exacerbated it. Indeed even under the rosiest of estimates O’Malley’s 2011 budget saddles the state with 8.3 Billion in deficits in out years.

Democrats in the General Assembly have proposed for the 2010 session even more spending for their own pet interests.

O’Malley’s so called “progressive” tax policies have increasingly fallen on the backs of the middle class and millionaires aren’t the only folks fleeing Maryland.

Now O’Malley is claiming to be a jobs, jobs, jobs governor. Really?
Under O’Malley’s march Hilton Hotels chose Virginia over Maryland for it’s corporate headquarters, lost Black and Decker, is on the verge of losing Northrop Grumman and the state ranks 45th in business climate by the Tax Foundation. In fact, the evidence suggests—no disrespect to Bob McDonnell—that O’Malley is Virginia’s jobs governor.

Actually I’m being a bit unfair to the governor. O’Malley has made Maryland friendly to business—if it is aligned with his political agenda—his former apparatchiks are poised to grease the wheels for you. Moreover his economic development commission is stocked with Democratic donors who are little more than rent seekers and know nothing about creating real economic growth.

Yep, Maryland Democrats are indeed scared. Their latest stunt just merely confirms that they know that we know the state’s current economic and budgetary mess is a shabingus of their own making.


More below the fold.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Truth behind Judd Legum's Fundraising

Liberal darling/mudslinger/trial lawyer/factually challenged blogger Judd Legum is telling anybody who will listen that he raised over $65,000 for his campaign for the House of Delegates in District 30. It's on his blog. There was a press release. It was tweeted. It's all over the place like he won an award or something.

Of course, what do the numbers actually mean....

For starters, let's take a look at this claim from Legum:

I was extremely pleased with all the early financial support to my campaign. Eighty-five percent of contributions were $100 or less and we didn’t accept a penny from special interest PACs.
Which of course depends on your definition of contribution. When you talk about the actual number of contributors, then yes of Legum's 538 total contributors, 459 of them made donations of $100.00 or less. That was a total amount, however, of $22,644.32. Of Legum's total dollars raised during the 2009 filing period, only barely one-third (34.6 percent) were raised from these "small" donors.

Except that's not really the case either. For example, an Emily Legum of Annapolis made seven different $50 contributions during the period, for an aggregate total of $350. Debbie Berger Fox of Washington, DC made two seperate $100 contributions. David Cho of New York City made 8 seperate contributions that total $220.47 in addition to a contribution of $250. Nancy Coley of Annapolis made three contributions under the $100 "limit" that aggregated $175. JoAnn Escobosa of Arnold made three $50 contributions. And it goes on like this. So while the number of "contributions" of less than $100 is accurate, the aggregated total comes from a smaller pool than Legum's press release would imply.

And speaking of contributions, where did these contributions come from? Glad you asked:
  • Arizona: 3
  • California: 38
  • Colorado: 1
  • District of Columbia: 111
  • Florida: 4
  • Georgia: 4
  • Iowa: 1
  • Illinois: 7
  • Kansas: 1
  • Kentucky: 1
  • Louisiana: 2
  • Maine: 1
  • Maryland: 231
  • Massachusetts: 13
  • Michigan: 1
  • Minnesota: 2
  • Missouri: 2
  • New Jersey: 7
  • New York: 37
  • North Carolina: 1
  • Ohio: 4
  • Oregon: 3
  • Pennsylvania: 16
  • Rhode Island: 1
  • South Carolina: 3
  • Texas: 5
  • Virginia: 26
  • Vermont: 1
  • Washington: 9
  • West Virgnia: 1
  • Wisconsin: 1
So to try and make the point for you here, only 42.9% of Legum's contributors live in the state of Maryland. We're not even talking about his district. We're talking about the state of Maryland.

Which now leads the question of how much of Legum's money comes from Maryland and how much comes from out of state. Glad you asked, because of Legum's total amount raised only $18,908 comes from in state donors. That means that only 28.8 percent of Judd Legum's money has been donated by Marylanders. As a matter of fact a nearly equal amount of Legum's funds were raised from residents of the District of Columbia ($18,610).

And that leaves us with the question of the who is giving money to Judd Legum. Well, the list contains a who's who of federal lobbyists with ties to the Clintion Political Machine. You can corraborate the list here. Some of the "dignitaries" include:"
  • Disgraced former Annapolis Mayoral Nominee Zina Pierre, whose campaign appartus donated $250 to Legum as the scandal around her campaign exploded, and then gave a personal $100 donation in November.
  • Hillary Clinton apparatchik Howard Wolfson maxed out for a $4,000 donation.
  • Bill Clinton flunky John Podesta, the former White House Chief of Staff who was instrumental in the Marc Rich pardon scandal and now spends qualtiy time as a UFO-truther.
  • Patti Solis Doyle, another prominent Clintonista, donated $1,000.
  • Former MoveOn.org Director Tom Mattize was another $1,000 donor.
  • Former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe donated $1,000 a few months after blowing his chance to be Governor of Virginia. You may also remember Mr. McAuliffefrom his starring role in the Global Crossing scandal.
And our final question leads me to this: why would any out of state resident donate $4,000 to a political hack running for state office. Wjat's in for them. Well, four individuals donated the maximum to Legum's campaign account, accounting for nearly one-quarter of his total amount raised. One of them is Wolfson, but the other three donors have an interesting, albeit out of state connection.

Dr. Rose Thayaparan practices Cytopathology and Anatomic & Clinical Pathologyst St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Her husband, P.W. Tayaparan, also donated $4,000. He used to work at the META Group, an information technology consulting firm in Stamford, Conn that was purchased by the Gartner Group. The only other $4,000 was their daughter Beatrice Wilderman. Why these three individuals would invest $12,000 in a Maryland race is frankly beyond comprehension at this point.

Judd Legum will tell everybody he knows that he has raised $65,000. But elections such as this one cannot be bought. They certainly cannot be bought by funds rasied from out of state donors with no connection to District 30. Maryland Democrats should be ashamed of thesmelves for allowing a candidate with the ego the size of Legum to become the poster child for their fundraising excesses.....and Legum himself should be ashamed that Sam Arora who was lower on the total pole than Legum managed to outraise him in Montgomery County.

The moral of the story is that Judd Legum is selling himself to the highest bidder, whether or not that bidder is even a resident of Maryland. I hope the people of District 30 truly understand what they are getting if they vote for them this November. They won't be getting a Delegate who is serving them; they will be getting a Delegate beholden to out of state financial interests and the Clinton political machine. That's something the residents of District 30 and the people of Maryland as a whole simply cannot afford...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

O'Malley loses The Sun

You have to know that the budgetary mess that Governor O'Malley has created for the people of Maryland is bad when even the Sun attacks his budgetary shenanigans, labeling his budget as one held together by "Chewing gum and bailing wire":

Governor O'Malley's spending plan would, if all goes according to plan, leave $274 million in the state's bank account at the end of fiscal 2011. That's good. It would also leave the rainy day fund alone, also a fine thing. After that, things go south -- and fast.

The Department of Budget and Management predicts that Maryland will be $1.5 billion in the hole in fiscal 2012, followed by shortfalls of $2.1 billion, $2.2 billion and $2.5 billion. Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. complained that his predecessor left him with $4 billion in out-year deficits, and Governor O'Malley complained that Mr. Ehrlich left him with $3 billion in shortfalls. But with this spending plan, Mr. O'Malley saddles himself or his successor with an $8.3 billion problem. The governor said putting together this budget plan was painful, but it's peanuts compared to what's coming in the future if something doesn't change.
The editorial goes on to point out, much like we did earlier, that the O'Malley budget plan is an irresponsible budget saddled with gimmicks instead of solutions:

The answer is that too many of the solutions he has employed are one-time tactics, not long-term fixes. For example, the governor saves $330 million in the fiscal 2011 budget by keeping most aid to local governments funded at the already-reduced level they are at now. But in subsequent years, that aid is expected to grow by 5.9 percent a year. He saves $78 million through continuations of employee furloughs, but that isn't a permanent solution either. He shifts money from special funds, like those dedicated to preserving open space, into the general fund and pays for those programs through the the state's capital budget, effectively borrowing money for them. Because they displace other capital projects, they won't increase the state's debt burden, but nonetheless, Maryland's debt service payments are expected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.
Now in fairness, the Sun went on to attack Republicans by saying their criticism "rings a bit hollow, since they have offered few concrete ideas for reducing spending." Of course, there are tons of Republican ideas for cutting spending, none of which get a fair shake in the General Assembly. But the fact that a Sun editorial actually calls out O'Malley for his reckless spending and his inability to get our budgetary situation under control really should give the O'Malley Administration at least a bit of understanding about how far off the reservation that they have truly wandered....

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Join the Virtual March for Life

American United for Life is running a Virtual March for Life.

Sign up, select your avatar, and the site will place you on the National Mall and show all marchers throughout the country. Register now to show your support for the pro-life cause.


More below the fold.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Fight Continues...

A brief note on the meaning of last night's victory from my intellectual
lodestar
, and why now is no time to let up.



There will always be lots of people who view (I would say "misunderstand") the role of government to be a centralizing source of love, meaning, and wish-fulfillment, and there will always be people who see government as a necessary evil. Sometimes — often — these views will coexist in us at the same time. Even more often, we will alternate between these views, as will the country. That means that conservatives will never completely win, but it also means they will never completely lose either. Rather, it is an eternal fight, with many victories ahead and many defeats. The trick is to have more victories and have them be more lasting than your defeats. For conservatives, who do not believe in earthbound utopias or in the possibility of a real "New Politics" more than once every, say, 50 or 500 years, this should be good news or at least easier to take than it is for progressives who constantly want to turn the page, create new eras, kill old ideologies, etc.

The fight goes on. And, I think, it's a good fight.

This is all a highfalutin way of saying that last night's staggering
victory was awesome, but it ain't the end of anything. It's just another beginning — because it's beginnings as far as the eye can see, until the star falls into the sea.
Anyone who witnessed the Twitter tantrums of the MDems' drones reacting to the Brown victory last night should understand the steep hill and hard work that lies ahead in wresting control of the state from an entrenched, out of touch, and downright arrogant Democratic oligarchy.


More below the fold.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When you look up irresponsible budgeting in the dictionary, you see a picture of Martin O'Malley playing his guitar

Not to take away from the zeitgeist of Scott Brown's epic victory in Massachusetts tonight, but take a look at the latest budget shenanigans from the office of Martin O'Malley:

Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to rely on a billion dollars in one-time accounting maneuvers to help balance next year's $13 billion state operating budget, avoiding deep cuts to services in an election year.

The strategy drew immediate concern from critics, particularly Republicans, who say the Democratic governor is deferring tough decisions.

O'Malley presented a broad outline Tuesday of how he plans to fill a $2 billion gap between revenues and expenditures in the spending plan he is required to submit to the General Assembly today.
And what is going to take the brunt of the Governor's budget axe? Health care and state workers, naturally:
He proposes steep cuts to to hospitals, and wants to continue this year's plan which forced state workers to take up to 10 days off without pay. Counties would receive the same reduced amounts of local aid and highway money they got this year.
And sometimes we joke about politicians trying to play with imaginary money when using their budget protections, but Martin O'Malley is actually budgeting using imaginary money!
O'Malley is also banking on Congress approving a new package of emergency assistance to states grappling with the worst economic downturn since the Depression. The governor allocates $389 million he believes the state would receive from that program if it materializes.
What planet is Governor O'Malley living on? He wants to cut aid to hospitals, but talk about expanding health care. He wants to confiscate two weeks worth of pay from state workers, but continue to expand the state bureaucracy, all while trying to be a "jobs Governor" as he runs for re-election. Most laughably of all, he wants to stick it to unionized state workers by (let me say this again) confiscating their pay but expect that SEIU and AFSCME will gladly and cheerfully give their money and time to his re-election efforts this fall. All while trying to use Monopoly money to make it all work.

You know, we have talked about O'Malleynomics for a long, long time as Martin O'Malley has smoked and mirrored his way through the first three years of his administration. But just when you think his budgeting skills can't get any worse, they do.

The General Assembly needs to force Governor O'Malley to make the tough decisions when it comes to passing a budget. We cannot afford to continue this gimmicked budgeting, and we need real solutions to dealing with our budget woes. And those solutions cannot be created on the backs of Maryland State Workers: regardless of whether or not state government is too big, it is irresponsible to take money out of the pockets of these workers who are serving the state of Maryland.

The O'Malley Budget is just the latest in a round of budgeting decisions that eschew responsibility and take money directly out of the pockets of state workers who make up a sizable chunk of Maryland's middle and working class families. And I have a feeling that voters are getting tired of the O'Malley Charade...

(crossposted)


More below the fold.

Check, to You Mr. Kratovil

With Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts' special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate, the onus to pass Obamacare shifts to the House. No doubt Rahm Emmanuel will be on the hill strong-arming Democrats to vote for the Senate version of the health care "reform" bill. Not a few House Democrats are not hoping


Remember, Nancy Pelosi barely moved the House version of the bill out of her chamber (3 votes) back in November. Frank Kratovil got the proverbial hall pass and was allowed to vote no. With Obama's signature policy initiative on the line the whip will crack hard on all Democratic members, including Kratovil.


With Andy Harris mounting a rematch, Kratovil's seat is extremely vulnerable.


Kratovil touts his independence, but in the end--when it counts--on major votes like the stimulus and cap and trade he's toed the party line.


Will he vote the will of his conservative leaning district


It's your move congressman.


More below the fold.

One More for the Road

Spoke again to Maryland U.S. Senate Candidate Eric Wargotz from Massachusetts, and the news sounds promising. Wargotz and Don Murphy door-knocked today in Barney Frank's district, and Wargotz said that a large chunk of voters in the heavily Democratic district said they were voting for Brown. Combine that with an expected turnout around 50%, and things are looking up.

Here's hoping Scott Brown can make the drive over to help Maryland Republicans later this year..

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

The Way Forward in Maryland

We don't know how the race for Senate will play out yet but, if the polls are correct, and the Bay State elects Scott Brown this could foreshadow a 1994-style rout in November in which a favorably gerrrymandered House returns to GOP control.

There are lessons to be learned here by the Maryland GOP but they aren't the ones our state delegates and senators will have an easy time accepting. To lay my argument I turn to the Atlantic's own in-house forensic gynecologist, the ever excitable Andrew Sullivan (at least we think Andrew wrote this from the barely restrained hysteria though we know his blog is regularly ghostwritten)

Even if Coakley wins - and my guess is she'll lose by a double digit margin - the bill is dead. The most Obama can hope for is a minimalist alternative that simply mandates that insurance companies accept people with pre-existing conditions and are barred from ejecting patients when they feel like it. That's all he can get now - and even that will be a stretch. The uninsured will even probably vote Republican next time in protest at Obama's failure! That's how blind the rage is.

Ditto any attempt to grapple with climate change. In fact, any legislative moves with this Democratic party and this Republican party are close to hopeless. The Democrats are a clapped out, gut-free lobbyist machine. The Republicans are insane. The system is therefore paralyzed beyond repair.

Now Sullivan overstates his case here by an order of magnitude but it goes back to a point I have made many times. When you are a party that is in a minority status, and by that I mean your votes are irrelevant to the outcome of the majority's legislative agenda, you have two choices. You can either oppose the majority or you can take the quisling appoach. The latter has been the strategy of most of our caucus in the O'Malley years.

Their logic runs along the lines of that "we have a responsibility to govern" and "we have to work to make horrible legislation merely bad legislation." Of course, there is the ever popular "we have to offer an alternative" fallacy and the "we have to make deals for our districts" gambit.

These are false premises. The role of the GOP in Annapolis is not to give bipartisan cover to profoundly stupid and misguided pieces of legislation by allowing the Maryland Dems to trot out a coterie tame Republicans and say, "look, these are good Republicans because they do what they are told." It is equally dysfunctional for a caucus which is so small that it can't hope to enact its own legislation by peeling off a corporal's guard of disaffected Democrats to spin its wheels offering alternative legislation which O'Malley and his minions will use as a combination club and pinata.

Many Marylanders are upset at the direction our state is going with access being auctioned to the highest bidder and O'Malley cronies ending up with amazingly favorable deals by coincidence and all of this paid for by higher taxes on those of us who still work.

Now is the time for the GOP to dig in its heels and refuse to be coopted and compromised. Now is the time for the GOP to point out the impact of the decisions made in Annapolis on working Marylanders.

GOP firmness in opposing Obamacare has laid the groundwork for Scott Brown. Rather than negotiating for a "better" way to socialize healthcare or presenting their own plan for the Democrats to demonize, Republicans held remarkably firm to principle and as such they are forming the locus for resistance to the gross overreach by Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their acolytes. The same will work in Maryland if our GOP caucus draws the right lessons from Massachusetts.





More below the fold.

Monday, January 18, 2010

News from the Front

Just got off the phone with Maryland U.S. Senate Candidate Eric Wargotz who is on the ground in Massachusetts helping out the Scott Brown campaign in the final hours of tomorrow's crucial U.S. Senate Special Election.

Wargotz described the mood on the ground as an "excited quiet" due to the snowstorm that hit the Bay State today. Wargotz and his field director, noted former Delegate Don Murphy, traveled up to Massachusetts over the weekend.

“Nothing we can do that is more important than supporting Scott Brown," Wargotz said. A brown victory "helps the country, helps the party, and helps campaigns like mine across the nation.”

Wargotz and Murphy met with the campaign leadership at the campaign headquarters in Needham Heights, went door-to-door in support of the candidate, and attended an impromptu rally in Brown's hometown of Wratham, where over 1,000 supporters gathered and Brown promised to shake everyone's hand before he left the site of the rally.

“The Brown race is a game breaker; it changes races such as Wargotz vs. Mikulski in Maryland," Wargotz said.

“Massachusetts woke up with the health care bill, and the country has woken up to see how important the 41st vote is in the Senate.”

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

The Forgotten Point

Adam Pagnucco over at Maryland Politics Watch has been jumping up and down screaming about a subsidy for a new Costco in Wheaton and how evil Costco really is.

There is one point that Pagnucco seems to forget is hat this evil corporatist plot to turn make all our base belong to Costco is being schemed by a company whose CEO, Chairman, and CFO are huge contributors to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars for each.

So when you consider that you have a company run by Democrats coming to a county run as a monopoly by Democrats expecting favors from said Democrats.....why should we be surprised?

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

State needs to help roll film

I just wanted to expand upon something that we discussed yesterday on the Ehrlichs Radio Show about Martin O'Malley's work to eliminate the film production tax credit.

For those of you who don't know, Governor Ehrlich worked with folks in Hollywood during his administration in an effort to procure more film business for the state of Maryland, and established a tax credit for the first $6 million that a production company spent to film television shows and movies here in the state. When you consider the number of productions that have filmed here in Maryland (from the good, to the bad, to the demented) providing more incentives for production companies to do business here in Maryland seems like a pretty good idea.

Except it didn't seem like a good idea to Martin O'Malley, who worked to axe the tax credit.....never mind the fact that the cost to the state, in the grand scheme of things, was relatively minuscule.

Why is a tax credit important? Because it provides one huge incentive for production companies to do business here in Maryland. And when you talk about mid-size to major studio productions, that business provides a sizable impact to the state. I'm not sure how many readers have been on a movie set, but I got the opportunity to be an extra in a terrible Winona Ryder film that was filmed at Camp Fretterd. And there were hundreds of people working on that film at any given time; even David Paulson managed to get a gig with the film. And those hundreds working on the film didn't even include all of the other ancillary business that was attracted by the film; food purchases, hardware purchases, port-a-potty rentals, etc.

And those benefits are even greater if the state can attract an episodic television show to the area. While movies only need to film roughly 90 minutes of footage one time, episodic television creates about 26 hours of programming for every season. That means long-term, stable economic development in the area a film is being shot on location; you can't tell me that city businesses in locations around Baltimore didn't feel a sizable economic uptick that was directly attributal to the production of Homicide or The Wire.

If Governor O'Malley suddenly now wants to become a jobs Governor, why did he work to eliminate a tax credit that created jobs? Skilled labor that works in the film industry cannot survive the reduction in jobs that are available due to the elimination of the tax credit, which hurts union film workers. And the reduction winds up hurting small businesses. A small business owner from Baltimore County who owns a local production company that works on documentaries called into the show yesterday and noted that the elimination of the tax credit hurts his labor pool and his bottom line since so much skilled talent has left to the state. And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the small business owners who run the flower shops and the food stores and the port-a-potty companies that would be hired to work on these productions.

Maryland remains attractive as a location for film companies; our state needs to be doing more to attract these large productions and the jobs and economic impact that comes with them...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

The Centrist Facade of Center Maryland

“The news you need, straight down the middle.” That is the mantra of Center Maryland the latest entrant into Maryland’s political blogosphere/new media arena.

Center Maryland decries the “incentives in Maryland’s political system are set up to elect and reward behavior that drives our public discourse toward narrow political extremes.” Center Maryland’s founders claim they are not about “people or posturing,” rather they seek to create a “platform to advance reasonable and responsible policies,” and “common ground” on “common sense policies.”

Don’t believe the hype. Center Maryland is indeed an ideological/partisan enterprise masking itself in the baroque language of pragmatic centrism where all good things are compatible and that hard choices are false choices offered by zealous partisans.

When I see such neither right nor left split-the-difference rhetoric, my bullshit meter instantly redlines.

A quick look at Central Maryland’s founders instantly belies it’s claim of moderate centrism. They are nearly all former hacks from the O’Malley political machine.

Steve Kearney was Martin O’Malley’s closest political advisor in both Baltimore and Annapolis. He served as O’Malley’s communications chief and left the administration to form a public affairs shop that ran the PR blitz for pro-slots groups during the 2008 referendum.

Whatever you want to say about Martin O’Malley, good or bad, non-partisan, non-ideological, or centrist can’t be one of them. As Veronique de Rugy notes administrations can’t remove ideology from their decisions on public policy because they are essentially ideologues to begin with, and Kearney was the man behind the O’Malley curtain.

Damian O’Doherty is a former chief advisor to Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and worked for two Democratic majority leaders in the Senate. You may know Damian’s brother, Ryan, by his nom de cyber MD4Bush.

Otis Rolley was O’Malley’s housing director when he was Mayor of Baltimore and served as the first chief of staff for the now disgraced and current resigning mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon.
Martin Knott is a business owner and served on O’Malley’s transition team and serves on the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board. A search of the state campaign finance database shows that Knott has given almost exclusively to Democrats.

How seriously can one take CM’s decrial of tax increases, given that Kearny was the chief mouthpiece for the largest tax increase in state history enacted by his old boss?

Center Maryland’s wobbly façade aside, it purveys a more dangerous fallacy: the notion that centrism itself is non-partisan or non-ideological. In fact, what Center Maryland is peddling is a variant of corporatism, which has a distinctly progressive (and fascistic) ideological heritage. Corporatism is:

a system of economic, political, and social organization where corporate groups such as business, ethnic, farmer, labor, military, patronage, or religious groups arejoined together under a common governing jurisdiction to try to achieve societal harmony and promote coordinated development.

Corporatism is the ultimate public-private partnership. However, there is an ugly bargain involved. Business, in order to thrive, must conform to the political ends of the state.
We see corporatism this writ large in GE using it’s NBC subsidiary to promote the administration’s climate policy, from which it’s other businesses will greatly benefit, and the government payoffs to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries not to mention big labor in return for their support of Obamacare.

Closer to home we see corporatism in the EmPower Maryland scheme whereby the state guarantees profits for utility company in return for supporting Governor O’Malley’s energy agenda. Both BGE and PEPCO produced commercials—targeted to promote the scheme—which end with “this program supports EmPower Maryland.” We also see it in Baltimore’s development political complex, which hands out tax breaks to favored developers, who donate so much campaign cash. Kearny ought to know about this as he was hip deep in it as an O’Malley aide during his mayoral administration.

Center Maryland says it knows government can’t solve all of society’s problems, “But government can and should be an effective partner–working with the private sector–to move our state forward”, and that “the private sector is a force to be nurtured. And both government and business share a responsibility to return Maryland to the moderate, pragmatic leadership that has been central to our state’s success.”

Of course, that pragmatic leadership is Center Maryland’s old dear leader, and they are just the corporatist wheel greasers to bring state business interests in line with the political agenda of the ruling class in Annapolis. Indeed, many state business leaders trade the courage of their convictions in return for a scrap of meat from the O’Malley administration and the Democrat majority, leaving their traditional representation out in the cold. Case in point Delegate Ron George scolding representatives of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce at the GOP legislative briefing last week saying, “You take the wind out of my sails.”

Although Center Maryland would have you believe otherwise, it is no different and there is nothing in the background of it’s founders, or it’s blatantly corporatist bent that says it is anything but partisan.


More below the fold.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Maryland’s Death Penalty: Some Murders to Give

--Richard E. Vatz

In basketball having “a foul to give” means that you may foul without penalty for competitive purposes.

We ought to have the expression “a murder to give,” meaning that some people in some states are allowed penalty-free -- or several penalty-free -- murders. The problem is that it is hard to imagine a justification for a state’s having “murder to give.”

That is the utterly indefensible and contemptible situation now existing in the state of Maryland, virtually unpublicized due in part to the lack of major print media outrage.

Last year in Maryland’s General Assembly, as I wrote in Red Maryland nearly 10 months ago under the title “The Maryland General Assembly's Restriction of the Death Penalty: the Prospect of Blood on Its Hands,” Governor Martin O’Malley irresponsibly tried to repeal the death penalty, on de facto permanent hiatus anyway. Instead, the General Assembly restricted death penalty usage to only those killings wherein there is DNA evidence, a video recording of the crime, or a videotaped confession. This is the most restrictive set of evidentiary criteria in the country of any state that nominally retains the death penalty. (In that article last year some of the standard sophistry used against the death penalty is addressed as well.)

According to The Baltimore Sun, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants to expand the evidence eligible to be used to invoke the death penalty to include fingerprints and still-photographic evidence.

Would this be better?

Yes.

Would it solve the problem of, as I argued last year, “incarcerated accused felons’ contracting with third parties to kill witnesses and convicts’ ordering killings or threats by cohorts?”

No.

Would it solve the problem of Maryland’s lack of will to protect the state’s citizens from its worst miscreants and use the death penalty for utterly heinous crimes such as the murder of 11 year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell?

No.

As my father, a lawyer, used to say with bitter sarcasm, “I certainly hope they can rehabilitate the murderer.”

There are always such examples extant in the state of Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly wants to make less outrageous the restricted use of evidence required for seeking the death penalty. That is a distinction without a difference if the death penalty is never used.

Herein a new state slogan: “Maryland: The State with Murders to Give.”



Professor Vatz teaches Persuasion at Towson University


More below the fold.

Are they scared?

The start of the general assembly session had the usual features which include selecting presiding officers, meeting people that we have not seen in a while and the annual call for bi-partisanship and looking to reach across the aisle and blah blah blah. If it seems that I am cynical about this tradition of singing kumbya between Democrats and Republicans…all I will say is that I have been writing about state politics for four years, you would be cynical too.

Despite U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) urging state lawmakers to follow the lead of President Barack Obama (D) of more citizenship and less partisanship, the air was thick with the latter. This was apparent when I spoke with state Democratic chairwoman Susan Turnball, it was kind of a surprise that after pushing for citizenship, she quickly reverted to partisanship when she said that the economic woes were due to eight years of bad management; blaming President George W. Bush (R) for deficits and unemployment.

Then later in the evening, as I was covering the March on Annapolis rally on Lawyers Mall, I saw three Democratic volunteers pass out fliers, criticizing former Governor Robert Ehrlich’s fiscal policies, which by the way left a surplus at the end of his term. My colleague at Red Maryland Mark Newgent said that state Democrat New Media director Isaac Salazar was tweeting photos with the usual insults attached to them in reference to tea party attendees. When Newgy pointed out Salazar’s visiting the rally, the two gentlemen had a quick back and forth with Salazar feeling free to call the attendees racist. For the record, the people I interviewed and talked to about the rally were ever so nice to me, in addition to Corrigan Vaughn and Charles Lollar, the latter gentleman who spoke at the march (spare the usual “wheel them out” comment, it’s not going to fly with me.)

I have to ask if the Democrats are scared about being judged on the past two to four years? It’s rather telling if you think about it. There seems to be a concerted effort to turn the clock back to a time when people were not happy with the job that President Bush is going. Another question that needs to be asked; are state Democrats so afraid of an Ehrlich rematch, they are starting to kick the propaganda machine into overdrive early and often? While you ponder that question (and looking at the source of the flier and what the flier actually says) you be the judge. Let’s look at their three points:

BOB EHRLICH proposed the Largest-Ever Increase in State Spending
Keep in mind Governor Martin O’Malley (D) not only proposed the largest tax increase in state history, but he said that it would solve the state’s budget problems. Did I mention the $2 billion budget deficit that the General Assembly needs to balance before sine die…this year?

BOB EHRLICH exceeded the Spending Affordability Guidelines
The fine print is that the guidelines are recommendations.

BOB EHRLICH was criticized for reckless spending
Let’s complete the sentence; Bob Ehrlich was criticized for reckless spending by The Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore Sun that endorsed Ehrlich’s opponent in 2002 while using race in the process. The same Suns who lost to Ehrlich in court over access and endorsed O’Malley over Ehrlich (R). Now would be a good time to note that there was a cup full of sour grapes on the Sun’s part in said endorsement. In fact The Sun is the only major newspaper in the state to endorse O’Malley if I recall correctly.

The Democrats have much to worry about, especially in a climate that has Mr. Obama’s hocus pocus starting to lose its magic. Say what you will about New Jersey and Virginia, it’s still a loss for the Democrats and it’s also still a sign.

(crossposted at Maryland Politics Today)

P. Kenneth Burns is a contributor to Red Maryland. He is the editor of Maryland Politics Today and President/Executive Producer of The Maryland News Company. His email is kburns@themdnews.com.


More below the fold.

ShareThis