Friday, April 30, 2010

[REGRETS! Ron Smith Fans SlowFood Meeting Tonight cancelled (below) ]

Next meeting on May 21 at 6:00pm at HighTopps Backstage Grille.


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

BREAKING: Carmen Amedori quits Murphy Ticket

A whopping ten days after announcing that Carmen Amedori would serve as the running mate for Brian Murphy's quixotic campaign for Governor, Amedori has quit the ticket.

More news as this develops.


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Vatzian Introduction of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich 4/29/2010 at Towson University

[Text of introduction of Robert L. Ehrlich to my Persuasion and Media Criticism classes today...some of the people expected did not come, and some of those not mentioned did come. Richard E. Vatz]

I first want to say, as I have for the 17 years or so that Gov. Robert Ehrlich has accepted 2 invitations a year to speak to my advanced Persuasion class, what a pleasure and honor it is to have him grace with his presence Towson University, the finest public university in Maryland, and I am particularly proud to have him speak today since he is now an announced candidate for governor of the state of Maryland, a position he held from the years 2003-2007, when Maryland had at least some semblance of a two-party system. I also want to assure the Governor that his audience today is composed of Towson’s finest students, including my advanced classes in Media Criticism and Persuasion. I made my usual effort to hide the fact that you were my guest speaker, Governor, but all week I keep hearing from students, “Hey, Vatz, I hear Gov. Ehrlich is coming to your class on the 29th.”

Before I go into my introductory remarks, let me welcome some local celebrities who have joined us, and I shall go through the list quickly, because I don’t know for certain who actually made it – please forgive me if I have missed you: Gov. Ehrlich’s retinue – from the Governor’s firm at Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, we have Greg Massoni, communication consultant and his wife, Chris Massoni, Executive Assistant to Governor Ehrlich, spokesman Henry Fawell, and Elaine Pevenstein, former special assistant and campaign adviser to the Governor, as well as the Governor’s counsel, David Hamilton, Massonian confidant David Lurz and former aide Carl DeLorenzo; we have also John Kastner, head of the MCOM/COMM Board of Advisers; Merrie Street, candidate for Harford County's Register of Wills to the State Elections Board; Jung-Sook Lee, my exquisitely excellent department chair; Phyllis Brotman of the Board of Visitors, Jenn Ballengee, best president ever of the Towson AAUP, Tim Sullivan, one of the best presidents of the Towson Senate, several of our top deans, our top faculty, [Molly Shock, chair of the capital campaign, Kim Fabian, President of the Alumni Association, Jennifer Pawlo-Johnston, Director of Alumni Services], and presidential adviser Jen Gajewski, and the president sends his regrets, as he could not come; I do not believe the Governor’s sons, Drew and Joshua, are here, but neither of them sent me an e-mail, so I cannot be sure. Finally, regarding someone else who could not come, the exquisite Chancellor of the UM System, Brit Kirwan, who is speaking at a conference in D.C. today, told me to give you specifically his warmest regards and apologies.

We have also a variety of excellent Electronic and Print Journalists from around the State and District of Columbia. In addition, some of my other colleagues from this great university are here as well, including faculty, administration and staff.

I invited various top media and top columnists, and my absolute favorite columnist, Gregory Kane from the Washington Examiner is here, and I must say that more of them were interested once you announced your candidacy

But the main question, Governor, that I hear regarding your candidacy, is why you should anticipate the possibility of a result different from your loss to the current Governor 4 years ago.

There are significant political environmental differences from 2006, which this Persuasion class and Media Criticism class might find interesting:

The unexpected news this year is that the primary print source of news, The Baltimore Sun, has undergone nothing short of a major journalistic transformation since 2006 when not one kind word was allowed on the op-ed page of the Sun that entire election year and letters were printed at a nine-to-1 ratio against a sitting Governor. Today there are regular conservative op-ed writers, the letters are more balanced and the reportage is – so far at least – right down the middle. Even a Sun editorial brought up the fact that highly successful global security giant Northrop Grumman’s headquarters are going to Virginia and the point that if the election focuses on the Reaganesque question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago,” the Democrats are in some trouble.

In the field of rhetoric and persuasion we speak of what the agenda and spin will be in an election campaign. There is always a rhetorical battle to determine what issues will be discussed and what their significance is. Most of us are hoping this election year will not be focused on the George Bush presidency or even whether you or Governor O’Malley should give up your radio shows.

For more relevant issues, it should not surprise anyone that the former Governor and the current Governor’s agenda and interpretations for this race will be quite different on issues in addition to those mentioned above, such as the Maryland state budget, whether Maryland is now perceived widely as anti-business and anti-small business, unemployment, speed cameras, the death penalty, the increase in the state sales tax and income taxes, and state aid to counties and help for Catholic Schools.

Here to solve all of those problems, I present to my Persuasion and Media Criticism classes and ask for a Towson University warm welcome for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.


More below the fold.

Martin O'Malley: Scourge of the Straw Man

From my latest Examiner.com piece:

On Tuesday Governor Martin O’Malley officially kicked off his reelection bid. His signature unctuous rhetoric is sure to follow. Straw men beware.

O’Malley’s political career is littered with corpses of gimpy straw men and tartuffery.

In 2005, a sanctimonious O’Malley likened proposed budget cuts to community development programs by George W. Bush to the 9/11 attacks. O’Malley told a packed National Press Club, that the cuts were “sad,” “irresponsible,” and “dishonest.” O’Malley said, “Back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America's great cities. They did that because they knew that was where they could do the most damage and weaken us the most. Years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief, the president of the United States. And with a budget ax, he is attacking America's cities.”

At a 2004 Baltimore fundraiser for John Kerry O’Malley said that he feared the Bush administration more than Al Qaeda.

Talk about “irresponsible in a time of war,” Governor!

The George W. Bush scarecrow is one of O’Malley’s favorite straw men to ignite.

“Many of the tax policies of the Bush administration are the reasons our federal government has become enfeebled.” O’Malley told a gathering at the Center for American Progress in August 2008. “But I do give him credit… Ideologically he believed that our government should be small and weak and he’s delivered on his promises and goals.”

Of course this is true only if you believe the fallacy that the federal government contracted and weakened under Bush. It also begs the question if the federal government was so enfeebled why did O’Malley fear Al Qaeda less than the Bush administration? Or should we forget O’Malley’s lobbying to enhance that government incapacitating law called the Patriot Act?

O’Malley, a fan favorite of regulation, would also have you forget that regulation increased under the Bush administration. But pay no attention to the facts just watch O’Malley dance on the piles of straw he so ably demolishes.

Behold the Great O’Malley slayer of arguments no one made.

On the eve of his historic $1.4 billion tax increases O’Malley said, “To those of the more aberrant strain of that (the Republican) party, who believe that a government that works is bad, or that taxes and the payment of them is something dishonorable, I'm not really capable of reasoning with them, in a way that persuades them.”

I admit the sanctimony gets lost a bit in the textual translation but O’Malley’s affectation in the audio was akin to the proverbial fingernails across the chalk board. Still, no Republican or conservative couched their arguments against his tax increases in those terms.
I’ve yet to meet a Republican or conservative who believes the paying of taxes is “dishonorable” or a working government is bad.

We of the “aberrant strain” happen to believe that a government that governs or “works” best is the one that governs (taxes) the least. As in it leaves it’s citizens alone, and unlike O’Malley doesn’t view them as mere serf like cogs in the machine of “One Maryland.”

However, O’Malley is incapable of grasping those distinctions or making honest arguments against them, and like a petulant child he lashes out at what he cannot comprehend.

WBAL Radio talk show host Ron Smith aptly described this back in 2007.

I am forced to admit what bothers me more than any other thing is the sheer sanctimony of his public utterances. It’s reminiscent of preachers in their pulpits, so pious, so filled with certitude, so saturated with palpable distaste for those whose beliefs are different from their own. Either you believe what they believe or hellfire and damnation will be your lot for all eternity.


I'd almost prefer eternal damnation to four more years of O’Malley’s pecksnifferous rhetoric.


More below the fold.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bob Ehrlich for Governor

Since Red Maryland's founding in 2007, the writers and editors here have been extremely critical of the direction of policy and priorities here at the state level. Most of the responsibility for those misguided policies begins at the top, thanks the ineffective leadership of Governor Martin O'Malley. Obviously, we think that four years is enough of O'Malley's reckless leadership.

This year, Maryland has a choice, and we as Republicans have a responsibility to elect a Governor who is ready to lead Maryland. That is why Red Maryland endorses Bob Ehrlich for Governor.

During his first four year term as Governor, Bob Ehrlich was able to prevent many policies that later came to fruition during the O'Malley Administration. There were no income tax hikes. There were no sales tax hikes. And if there was one thing that Bob Ehrlich did was leave the state with a surplus that exceeded $1 billion; a surplus that Martin O'Malley quickly squandered. With Bob Ehrlich as Governor (along with more good, fiscally responsible members of the General Assembly) we know that additional new taxes will be thwarted

Maryland right now is suffering a crisis, and that crisis is from a lack of leadership. Martin O'Malley and his cohorts down in Annapolis continue to spend, then tax, then spend and tax some more. Is is any wonder that companies like Northrop Grumman refuse to give Maryland a serous chance to compete for their business when Maryland is saddled with the worst Governor in America? Bob Ehrlich has lead Maryland through crises before, having steered the ship of state through the Blizzard of 2003 and the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel. And Bob Ehrlich makes the tough decisions, including decisions that are both not necessarily ones that are popular or ones that we always agree with. But no matter how you slice it, Bob Ehrlich will be ready to lead on day one.

Governor Ehrlich does have a primary challenger in this race. Brian Murphy is an impressive guy who could have a future in leading our state. He would make a great candidate for Comptroller. But he is in the wrong race at the wrong time.

The Editors here at Red Maryland encourage you to do your part to support Governor Ehrlich. Visit his campaign site at www.bobehrlich.com to learn more.


More below the fold.

Maryland Democrats 2010 Tax Overture

Another vid from the shawdowy GOPFilms


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Obama vs. The Constitution



Nice to see the RNC can do something besides party at bondage-themed nightclubs.


ObamavConstitution.com


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Starting Tomorrow: The Red Maryland Endorsements

Many of you here are also readers over at Red State, which of course is a direct ancestor of our little site over here. One of the proud traditions over at Red State is that the Editors will make endorsements in contested Republican primaries to work to ensure the election of candidates that are best suited to represent conservative interests, usually as members of Congress in Washington.

Starting tomorrow, the Editors of Red Maryland will also begin rolling out endorsements of Republican candidates in Republican primaries.

Our endorsements will be candidates who are unanimously endorsed by the Editors; no split decisions on these endorsements. We will articulate why we support those candidates. And we will encourage you to act to help these candidates succeed in the primary election on September 14th.

The candidates we pick are the candidates we want to help move Maryland forward.

Not everybody is going to agree with our picks. Be we are going to help conservative candidates win...and that means some legislators in Annapolis are not going to be getting free passes from us.

So, keep your eyes peeled. Because the first endorsement will be announced at 6:00 PM tomorrow.....


More below the fold.

No Lie Left Untold

I've been involved in political blogging fairly actively since the summer of 2004 and from this experience I've learned a couple of lessons.

First, I don't believe any allegation made by the left without a vast amount of corroborating data.

Second, I don't denounce people who are, at least for the moment, on my side. The left has devoted millions of dollars to this activity, I see no reason to devote my free time to the activity.

The danger of violating those rules was best exhibited on these pages by a post back on March 23 by Professor Vatz. The incident, as you probably recall, was an alleged confrontation between a group of American citizens exercising their rights under the First Amendment and a couple of members of congress who decided it was politically expedient to turn the confrontation into textbook case of racebaiting.



The video, posted by Andrew Breitbart, is conclusive:


Not only is the audio devoid of any racial slur, but the scene at Cannon clearly shows the congressmen coming down the steps completely unobstructed, and with a clear path to the Capitol. And, when we juxtapose the audio accusation Rep.Carson made moments after the alleged event occurred with actual video footage of the moment Rep. Carson claims he first heard the racial slur, it is as plain as day that Congressman Carson was not isolated by a mob and facing a racist throng that could conceivably hurl rocks at him. As you can see for yourself.


At the time I posted my take on the event.

But more to the point. If there is one thing conservatives should take away from out dealings with the left going back well into the Clinton administration it is that lying to demonize your opposition is part and parcel of their playbook. Whether it was Clinton blaming talk radio for the Oklahoma City bombing, the actions of the DNC during the 2000 election recount, or the scurrilous stories that appeared every day concerning President Bush, lying is just the way they do business.

The second thing we should have learned is that when you find yourself agreeing with someone like Bob Herbert, who has only a fleeting acquaintance with Truth, you really should stop and rethink your position.

A final thing should be considered. If you find a story like this, one that dovetails so neatly into the Democrat meme-du-jour -- in this case the "Tea Parties are racist" meme -- dig a little deeper.



More below the fold.

Northrop Grumman Relocates to Virginia

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who doesn't live in Annapolis but technology giant Northrop Grumman has decided to locate its global headquarters in Virginia. This is a logical outcome of the fiscal mismanagement of the O'Malley administration, which has spent the last four years blaming Governor Ehrlich for its own spending, and the better business environment available in Virginia. The Tax Foundation rates Maryland 45 out of 51 jurisdictions in terms of business tax policy. Virginia rates 15.

Maybe one day Maryland Democrats will start realizing that businesses create jobs, jobs that employ people who pay taxes. And that a hostility towards business is nothing more or less than a hostility towards job creation and prosperity. Despite slivers of hope, the Democrats would have to abandon their entire political philosophy to reach that point.


More below the fold.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seeing the Light?

You will never guess who wrote this lament:

So the resulting energy tax hike is both large and narrowly targeted: at the people who create jobs.
The author of that revelation was none other than......Adam Pagnucco.

Yes....Adam Pagnucco has realized that Democrats, when they go out to raise taxes, invariable raise taxes either directly on Maryland's middle and working class families, or they raise them on the companies that employ Maryland's middle and working class families. In the instance of this tax increase, proposed by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett as a business energy tax, the cost of the tax will be doubly born by the people of Montgomery County. On one hand, all Montgomery County residents who frequent these businesses will be faced with increased costs in an effort to offset the cost of the tax. On the other, a number of jobs that would otherwise be created by these Montgomery County businesses may not be created due to the burden created by Leggett's tax.

All that being said, I would like to welcome Adam Pagnucco as a visitor over here to the real world, as he examines this and other tax proposals by Maryland Democrats that would further devastate our state's economy, and harm the standard of living for Maryland's middle and working class families.

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

The race tightens in Maryland

There is more to life than the US Senate. In many states, control of the Governor's office will have a critical role in the process of redistricting after the 2010 Census and reapportionment of US House seats.

So today we look at the Maryland Governor's race as polled by Rasmussen.

As with Texas, the incumbent leads, but it's closer than it was.

Back in 2006, Democrat Martin O'Malley beat Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich 53-46 in a good year for Democrats. In what is expected to be a good year for Republicans, Ehrlich has announced another shot at the big chair, challenging now-Governor O'Malley's expected run for re-election.

In February it was no surprise that O'Malley led Ehrlich in the Rasmussen poll 49-43 (MoE 4.5), about the same advantage the Governor had in 2006. But that lead has diminished, and is now 47-44, three points and only a 63% chance of being ahead at all anymore.

Like Rick Perry, Martin O'Malley needs to watch his back.

Crossposted from Unlikely Voter


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In Maryland "Spending Affordability" Equals Structural Deficits

From my latest Examiner.com piece.

Maryland Democrats are having a jolly old time criticizing Bob Ehrlich’s budget record. They slam his FY 2005-2007 budgets proposals for exceeding the limits set by the Spending Affordability Committee, while claiming all four of Governor Martin O’Malley’s budgets came in under SAC limits. While a review of the data easily debunks this clever little Democratic trick, it also reveals a deeper deceit a our politicans to spend beyond the state's means while pretending to be fiscally responsible.

As evidence the Democrats link to the 2006 Department of Legislative Services 90 Day Report. The 90 Day Report is an after action memo from DLS detailing the recently completed legislative session. They point to Exhibit A-1.2 on page A-9, a table, which shows a spending increase of 11.59% in Ehrlich’s 2007 general fund budget proposal, which was greater than the 9.60% limit set by the SAC.

Ok fine. However, the same table in the 2007 90 Day Report (O’Malley’s first as governor after his historic $1.4 billion tax increases) shows an 8.13% increase in O’Malley’s general fund proposal, which exceeded the SAC limit of 7.90%. The 2010 90 Day Report for the recently completed session shows O’Malley’s FY 2011 budget proposal with 1.24% growth in the general fund, which exceeded the 0% growth recommended by the SAC. The claim that all four O’Malley budgets were under SAC limits is patently false.

Anyone can manipulate budget data and SAC limits to make all manner of dubious claims about "fiscal responsibility."

What this really reveals is that Maryland’s budgeting process—especially the SAC—is greatly flawed.

There is a false assumption that governors abiding by SAC recommendations are a sign of their fiscal virtue. This assumption of course presumes that SAC recommendations are accurate representations of what the state can actually afford to spend. In fact, SAC recommendations are often divorced from realistic assessments of state finances.

Created in 1981 The SAC is a group comprised of the Senate President, Speaker of the House, budget committee chairmen, along with majority and minority leaders and a citizen advisory committee. State law says only that the goal of the SAC is to “limit the rate of growth of State spending to a level that does not exceed the rate of growth of the State's economy.” SAC recommendations are voluntary and neither the Governor or the General Assembly are bound by it’s recommendations.

In a report for the Free State Foundation, Cecilia Januszkiewicz, a former budget director in the Ehrlich administration notes,

The concept of “spending affordability” suggests a mathematical process that would yield an objective spending limit. Yet, no statutory or regulatory formula exists to determine what is affordable other than the statutory reference to growth in the State economy. Nor has the Committee adopted a consistent approach to measuring affordability.

The SAC has instead resorted to various methods that have resulted in an unbroken string of recommendations for increasing State expenditures regardless of the fiscal circumstances of the State. In the absence of any formula, the method changes each year, in an ad hoc fashion, to validate the desired amount of increased spending.

As an example, Januszkiewicz cites the 7.90% increase in spending SAC deemed “affordable” for FY 2008. Yet both SAC and the Board of Revenue Estimates predicted only a 4.5% increase in general fund revenues.

For those keeping score: the rate of spending increase in O’Malley’s first budget was nearly double the increase in expected revenues, hardly a sign of fiscal discipline on the heels of increasing taxes by $1.4 billion.

In many cases SAC recommends spending increases even though it’s own reports conclude that state revenues and the economy are slowing. In some cases SAC has recommended spending increases even when it recognized expenditures outpaced revenues. SAC offers it’s recommendations in December but often revises them upwards after the Governor submits the budget. From 1984-2009 SAC has raised it’s initial spending recommendation. Raising the spending level allows the politicians to cut less from the budget and increase spending while hiding behind the political fig leaf of “affordability.”

In the end Januszkiewicz found that the spending affordability process creates and exacerbates structural deficits by providing a “false sense of fiscal restraint,” which allows politicians to spend beyond the state’s means.

There are several solutions to Maryland’s chronic structural deficits—some to be discussed here in the future—the first place to start should be reforming the spending affordability process to make it reflect a realistic assessment of revenues and expenditures.


More below the fold.

Obama Administration Fudging Stimulus Numbers AGAIN!

We’ve heard the stories about jobs being created in congressional districts that do not even exist, and also the extremely high cost of each job created. Last week there was a Council of Economic Advisors Report that found the Stimulus created (or saved) 49,000 jobs in Maryland in the first three months of the year.

The problem is, despite a good showing of job creation in March, Maryland lost over 13,000 jobs in February and almost 20,000 jobs in January for a grand total job creation in Q1 of 3,427 jobs, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. But the Obama Administration is claiming 49,000 jobs created (or saved).

Ok, you noticed the “or saved” everywhere… that’s a catch all for when the numbers don’t add up. But this report is saying that the Maryland economy is so bad, that without billions of financial aid from the federal government, the State would have lost nearly 52,500 jobs. Is that impressive management or what?

Of course, if you actually read the report prepared, you’ll notice it has a TON of guess work in it. The nice caveats found on page 3 that say things like:

“...simply because their populations are larger, we estimate that larger states have seen larger jobs impacts. Similarly, because their employment is more cyclically sensitive, industrial states are estimated to have had larger employment effects relative to their populations. Finally, both because of their industrial composition and because state fiscal relief and aid to individuals directly impacted have been larger in states hit harder by the recession, we estimate that states with higher unemployment rates at the time of passage have seen larger employment effects of the ARRA relative to their populations.”

Does that make any sense as a way to do an economic analysis? It does when you don’t want to look at actual job creation numbers in states, especially those like Maryland. The 70,000 jobs in Maryland lost last year, the first year under O’Malley’s tax increases, do not paint the type of picture that the Obama Administration, or the O’Malley Administration want. So they’ll point to the March numbers, ignoring January and February which nearly nullified the gains.

Ok… Are the numbers complete hogwash? Probably… but who cares about that when it makes for a great press release.


More below the fold.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Liberal Orthodoxy in the Academy: the Exception that Proves the Rule

--Richard E. Vatz


Standing out among expressions that should be counterintuitive is “That’s the exception that proves the rule.”

People mistakenly use this expression to paradoxically claim that an exception to a general proposition in fact validates further the proposition, rather than lessens its claim to be unadulterated truth.

In fact, demonstrated exceptions to rules do lessen their hold on validity. The word “proves” in this expression means “to test.” An exception tests the extent of the truth of the rule.

I bring this up as an introduction of an exception I personally have experienced to what many -- including myself -- have depicted as the liberal dominance in higher education.

This alleged dominance implies an omnipresent liberal ethic to the point that conservative views are often censored in university classrooms, university policies and multi-university national organizations.

I have complained about liberal control and discrimination in my National Communication Association, the umbrella organization for communication studies. There, the history has included exclusionary practices against conservatism, such as not allowing articles praising conservative presidents in major journals, convention panels wherein conservatives were excluded, and the presence of serious and humorous disparaging of conservative perspectives with the unstated premise of the superiority of liberal dogma.

The exception that I have personally experienced over the last five years-plus has been a current political rhetorical issues panel, populated by several liberal scholars and me (and sometimes an additional conservative).

These panels, which have regularly been accepted by the Eastern Communication Association (ECA) and the National Communication Association (NCA), have been unique: there have been no such similar panels appearing regularly in either organization. In fact, in the NCA over the past 5 years the creation of major political panels has been assigned to a bright ultra-liberal colleague, who has year after year excluded all NCA conservatives and included only a tiny minority of conservatives from time to time from outside the organization.

Back to my panels: in the 2010 ECA convention – concluded just today – my panel, “The Rhetorical Construction, Conditions and Limitations of Presidential Popularity: the Obama Presidency Examined,” included all of the elements that one could expect in a genuinely respectful academically diverse environment: the powerful presentation of serious left and right perspectives with good, sophisticated humor and a lack of threat perception by one side or the other.

It may surprise the reader to learn that I was in four ECA panels this year that included liberal and conservative perspectives with attendant genuine and respectful academic probing and the ease of unthreatened inquiry. I have never seen four such panels at any meeting of the much larger NCA, but even that organization is improving – slowly but surely (well, very slowly but surely).

This exception proves -- i.e., tests -- the rule of liberal orthodoxy in academe, at least in my field. It is not only possible but fruitful to have ideological diversity, the diversity that is rarely mentioned in diversity conversations in higher education. All it takes is men and women of good will who authentically believe in the much-vaunted, but rarely supported in academia, “marketplace of ideas.”


Richard Vatz is a professor of Communication Studies at Towson University


More below the fold.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ron Smith Fans Get-Together Alert

What is SlowFood up to in Baltimore? Join the Ron Smith Fans on Friday Apr 30 at 6:00pm.


What: SlowFood is a grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Ron Smith Show Fans can learn more about this issue that transcends conservatism/liberalism and focuses on family.

Liz Stambaugh is the new president of the revitalized SlowFood Baltimore Convivium. Hear what the group is up to. We also can discuss the Food Safety Modernization Act making its way through Congress and its potential impact on local small farmers.



When: Friday, April 30 at 6:00pm.



Where: HighTopps Backstage Grille in Timonium at 2306 York Road just north of the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Parking is available directly across York Rd. in front of the restaurant. We will meet in the terrace room (on the right just after the hostess station by the main entrance).



Who: Any interested citizen is welcome.



RSVP: email suzannemhill@yahoo.com.



Read more at http://ronsmithfans.ning.com.
--------------------------------
per Vatz


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The Beat Goes On- More Crazy Lawsuits Clog Our System

Todd Lamb
Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Recently, three lawsuits made news representing the continued problem that too many people have of viewing our legal system as a potential lottery game. Consider the following:

A Virginia man is suing PetSmart for $1 million after stepping in dog feces at the store, claiming that he slipped and injured his back and knocked out four of his front teeth as a result of it.

And while we’re on the topic of dogs, a Kansas City Royal fan is seeking over $25,000 for a black eye caused by a hotdog that was flung into the stands by the team’s mascot during a game. The injured man claimed that the hotdog caused a detached retina, several cataracts and caused him to undergo multiple surgeries. We can only imagine the catastrophic damage a real baseball might have done.

Most recently, an Arkansas teen is suing his mom after learning that she had accessed his Facebook account and changed his password after reading something that bothered her. According to the 16 year old, the harassment charge is being filed against his mother for ‘damaging’ his reputation after posting a few things on it herself. The teen should have thought twice before posting about his 95 mph trip home from his girlfriend’s house earlier that week. What ever happened to a good old fashioned temper tantrum?

The constant barrage of personal attorney ads on television from lawyers begging the viewer to call an 800 number if they “feel” they have been injured has led too many (young and old) to see our legal system as a potential cash machine. The examples should be laughed at, and they make national news for that reason. Consider for a moment the cost in time and expenses with these junk lawsuits- and it is no laughing matter.


More below the fold.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holy Day for Hypocrites

So in case you've been living under a rock, today is Earth Day. And in what ways do the world's "climate warriors" celebrate Earth Day?

Well, if you're Martin O'Malley, you log 800 miles driving across Maryland on taxpayer dollars to prop up your sagging re-election campaign. This of course, coming weeks after he had an SUV waiting for him to hitch a ride home in lieu of a tough three minute walk home from the bar.

If you're the President and Vice-President, you both fly separately to New York, tying up air traffic for hours. Of course, you really don't want the President and Vice-President to fly on the same plane for obvious reasons. But when you're flying Joe Biden to New York to be on The View...

If you're a rock star or a music lover, you go down to Washington for the Earth Day 2010 Climate Rally being held on the National Mall, which might have some sort of record for biggest carbon footprint in support of lowering carbon footprints since LiveEarth. I drove past the Mall today, and the number of tents, booths, trash receptacles and whatnot that have been brought to the Mall for this event is impressive. Obviously, they didn't bring these things to the Mall in a Pedicab; they were brought in by big, nasty, diesel trucks that spewed all sorts of nasty emissions into the local atmosphere. And to entertain the masses, the organizers of this event are flying in all sorts of people for the event; Jesse Jackson, James Cameron, Dhani Jones, Margaret Atwood, Sting, John Legend, The Roots, and more. How do you think these folks got to DC? They didn't ride Barack Obama's low-emission unicorns powered by rainbow energy, that's for sure.

Look, all of us support making sure we have a clean environment; I mean it was a Republican that basically invented conservation as a national policy. And that's what environmentalism should focus on; conservationism. Conserving our natural resources and not wasting them. Not using environmentalism as a cudgel to push a radical social agenda, and certainly not an excuse to lecture the masses about it while having carbon footprints many times larger than the average citizen.

But then again, like many holidays, Earth Day has become the focal point of a movement, a day for excess and double standards. For these so-called "climate warriors", however, the average taxpayer sees through their shams and recognize them for the hypocrites they are...

(Crossposted)


More below the fold.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Special Session Five

Call them the Special Session Five. Senators John Astle (D-Anne Arundel), Ed DeGrange (D-Anne Arundel), Roy Dyson (D-Calvert, Charles, St. Marys), Rona Kramer (D-Montgomery) and Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) are five Democrats who, through a bit of procedural legerdemain, enabled Governor Martin O’Malley’s 2007 special session tax increases—the largest in Maryland history. Come this November their decision could come back to haunt at least three of them at the polls.

All five of these Democrats voted against the tax increases on the Senate floor, which passed the chamber 24-20. All five publicly opposed the tax increases. Astle wrote to one constituent “I am not comfortable voting for any increase in taxes. The state needs to look at ways to better manage spending.”

However, that was not the vote that counted. In fact, they could have stopped the tax increases cold by voting against cloture.

Instead the five, or Senate President, Mike Miller’s poodles as the Washington Times called them, voted to end the Republican filibuster—by one vote—thus paving the way for O’Malley’s $1.4 billion tax increase. Astle, DeGrange, Dyson, Kramer, and Zirkin had hall passes to vote no on the final bill because Miller already had the votes to pass it without their support, thus giving them a patina of political cover.

In other words, they were for the monstrous tax increases before they were nominally against it.It just so happens that the GOP needs to pick up five seats to ensure the ability to mount a filibuster. Given the electorate’s anti-incumbent/anti-tax mood, three of the Special Session Five’s cloture votes make them vulnerable targets.

Kramer and Zirkin are in solid Democratic districts and in 2006 won their seats with 70% of the vote. Astle, DeGrange, and Dyson’s seats however, are in more conservative districts and could be three of the five GOP pickups this fall. Ron Elfenbein an emergency room doctor from Annapolis is challenging Astle in the 30th district and former Marine Corps. aviator Steve Waugh is challenging Dyson in southern Maryland’s 29th district. If the Republicans can find a credible challenger to run against DeGrange, could be the third pick up in the 32nd district.


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Media Watch III on the Race for Maryland’s Governorship: The Baltimore Sun Surpasses the Washington Post

--Richard E. Vatz

This third criticism will be the last evaluation, for a little while at least, from this writer on the quality of major print media coverage of the race for the Maryland governorship. It is not the intention here to cover every jot and tittle of reportage, since there will be ebbs and flows of fairness, but I did want to cite some trends evident early in the race.

The most striking change is that, so far at least, The Baltimore Sun has had more comprehensive and significantly fairer analysis of this race, despite a clumsy beginning, than The Washington Post. The latter’s John Wagner, a bright and able journalist who could be much fairer, more often than is journalistically justifiable quotes Donald F. Norris (chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County), a consistently liberal source who almost invariably subtly praises Governor Martin O’Malley and disparages former Governor Robert L. Ehrlich. Wagner's other favorite historically has been Matthew Crenson (retired political science professor at Johns Hopkins University), whose animus toward conservatism in general and Gov. Ehrlich in particular has been palpable. That’s fine – but balance it, which Mr. Wagner does not.

Wagner himself is vaguely hostile to Gov. Ehrlich, with his attitude being evident in person and revealed by his periodic sardonic references to Ehrlich (“His take is certain to be less rosy,” was Wagner’s only reference to Ehrlich in a positive piece on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley’s bill signing after the 2010 legislative session). Mr. Wagner should at least sometimes quote a centrist observer or a conservative professor (try James Gimpel -- Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland -- a bit more, sir).

Today, April 18, 2010, the Post, had in their “Topic A” column the politically imbalanced “Same Candidates, New Questions,” which sported six pundits’ take on the “governor’s race.” Praising Gov. Ehrlich was my excellent colleague, P. Kenneth Burns. That’s where the excellence stopped. Damning Gov. Ehrlich with faint and short praise was the founder of the Bel Air Tea Party. The other four included one neutral evaluator and three unabashed O’Malley supporters, including the journalistically embarrassing Ann Lolordo, late of the Sun’s op-ed page editorship, who was the overseer of that appallingly ideologically censoring page before it improved.

Speaking of such improvement moves me back to the Sun, whose editorial page now regularly includes excellent conservatives Ron Smith and Marta Mossburg, as well as the near-equal printing of good conservative observations in their letters-to-the-editor page; the former meretricious editor therein thankfully has been fired along with the equally meretricious Ms. Lolordo. That page once printed 10 letters on one day to evaluate a policy of Gov. Ehrlich – one favored; nine opposed.

Incredible.

But back to the redeemed Sun. Today, believe it or not, the ever-improving gubernatorial reporting has its third straight – count ‘em, three – fine piece of work. In an article titled “O’Malley puts record to the test (and voters),” Annie Linskey subtitles her piece “Governor’s legislative initiatives...have mixed results” and then provides specific, balanced analysis of issue after issue, including matters that the Sun ignored or virtually ignored in 2006 and beyond, such as Gov. O’Malley's failure to roll back the 72% BGE rate increase, as he had promised to do. Point and counter-point is fairly iterated on major issues, without any obvious or not-so-obvious editorializing in favor of Gov. O’Malley (or, for that matter, Gov. Ehrlich). The piece even brings up the matter of up to 30% of Maryland’s millionaires who may have left the state as a consequence of Maryland’s recent higher taxes on the wealthy. The piece is filled with sources from the right and left, all clearly, fairly and comprehensively quoted on the above issues, including the sales tax rise, other shifts in income tax, slots, speed-cameras, the death penalty, and state aid to counties and cities. The article ends with O’Malley-friendly paragraphs, but let’s not look for overly punctilious equality yet.

Both supporters of Gov. O’Malley and Gov. Ehrlich should read this Sun piece and not be overly frustrated that major arguments were neglected or given short shrift.

I cannot help but think that the Sun’s reporters feel better about their recent good journalism than the weak-to-horrendous journalists felt about their one-sided, pseudo-journalism throughout the 2000s and particularly in 2006.

There is no evidence yet of serious fairness on the Sun’s editorial page, but they do have some traditional leeway there.

The Washington Post endorsed Gov. Ehrlich in 2006. Don’t look for that again.

It’s a new day in Maryland when the more comprehensive and fair coverage of the governor’s race is found in the Sun and not in the Post.

Will it continue?

Stay tuned.


Professor Vatz teaches an advanced class in Media Criticism at Towson University.



Postscript -- the following is an intended appendage to a contributing chapter I will have published this year (2010) in the book alerting readers to the above-cited turnaround by The Baltimore Sun: Seth Kahn and JongHwa Lee, Activism and Rhetoric: Theories and Contexts for Political Engagement, published by Routledge



Postscript

What a difference four years makes. As I indicated, in 2009 my being blacklisted at The Baltimore Sun was ended by the editor of the editorial section who implied to many that it was simply anathema to his personal ethics to blacklist people because they criticized the paper or because their political philosophy was conservative.

But the most striking change is that most of the censoring and blatantly biased of the paper’s editorial hierarchy and reporters have been replaced at the Sun. In addition there are now two regular op-ed writers who are unmistakably and consistently conservative. There was no such regular contributor there in the years covered by this analysis and almost none of that philosophy appeared previously on that page, even from free-lancers. Even the letters-to-the-editor page has markedly improved, edited as it is by Mr. Green, who ended my blacklisting. That page once printed 10 letters on one day to evaluate a policy of then-Governor Ehrlich – one favored; nine opposed.

The reporter replacements – so far at least – have so reversed the journalistic conventions there that I wrote a series of blogs in “Red Maryland,“ a prominent Maryland conservative blog, culminating with one which argued that the Sun’s journalistic excellence had surpassed that of the Post (1) per the following journalistic criteria of political disinterest: fairness in selection of issues to cover, placement of stories, headlines to use, relevance of evidence cited and not cited, sources to interview, pictures to accompany articles, and general tenor of articles.

I also wrote in that blog: “I cannot help but think that the Sun’s reporters feel better about their recent good journalism than the weak-to-horrendous journalists felt about their one-sided, pseudo-journalism throughout the 2000s and particularly in 2006. There is no evidence yet of serious fairness on the Sun’s editorial page, but they do have some traditional leeway there.“

And finally, “It’s a new day in Maryland when the more comprehensive and fair coverage of the governor’s race is found in the Sun and not in the Post. Will it continue? Stay tuned.”

The marketplace is a remarkable vehicle for improving products, and it appears to have a potentially powerful impact even on print and electronic media.


(1) Vatz, R.E. Media Watch III on the Race for Maryland’s Governorship: The Baltimore Sun Surpasses the Washington Post, Red Maryland blog April 18, 2010

http://redmaryland.blogspot.com/2010/04/media-watch-iii-on-race-for-marylands.html


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I believe the word is Epic Fail



Moe Lane and Michelle Malkin have more on this spectacular failure.

PS the guy in the video has all the makings of a top notch MDDem hire...but then again he's probably not a lobbyist.


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Friday, April 16, 2010

Radio Days

I'll be on WBAL Radio AM 1090 twice this weekend talking politics and policy.

Saturday 9-11am with the Ehrlichs on the Kendel and Bob Show.

Sunday 1:30-2:00pm with Professor Peter Morici.


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Ehrlich vs. Murphy

Bob Ehrlich’s entrance into the gubernatorial race has Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats nervous about November. Ehrlich however, will have a primary challenger in Brian Murphy to contend with...

Read my whole piece at Examiner.com


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Montgomery County Facing Billion Dollar Deficit

The County Executive and County Council blame the millionaire's tax. The subheadline on the story notes that millionaires fleeing the state millionaire's tax caused county revenues to drop 82 percent.

Montgomery lost $4.6 billion in taxable income from tax years 2007 to 2008. More than 82 percent of that drop comes from taxpayers with incomes of $1 million or more, county records show.

County data show that 216 millionaires who filed taxes for 2007 did not file with the state for 2008, compared with an average of 119 in previous years. While some of those not filing may have died or decided not to file a tax return, county officials said there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Maryland's millionaires moved to more tax-friendly states.

"It's pretty clear that people did take their income someplace else," said Tim Firestine, chief administrative officer, noting that the loss of just a handful of millionaires has a disproportionate effect on the county's revenues.
Now let's do a little math, 82 percent of $4.6 billion in lost revenue is $3.772 billion which when divided by 216 millionaires comes to $17.4 million lost per millionaire. That is from a tax increase of 1.25 percent. Of course, not all the money lost is attributable just to the millionaires themselves, but also factors in things like the services they provided and bought, the capital gains that they earned, business taxes they may have generated etc. But that is a massive revenue hit.

Keep in mind that if you tax millionaires more than they already pay, they have the means and motivation to:

1. Find ways to avoid taxes--tax avoidance is legal, tax evasion is not--by sending the money off shore or putting into to tax sheltered programs; or

2. Simply up and move to a tax friendly state; or

3. Simply not make as much money--they have the funds to wait the government out.

I am sure all of these things happened.

So Mr. President--are you looking at what has happened in your own back yard when you tax the wealthy more to subsidize your income redistributionist policies--you get way less revenue.


Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Montgomery_s-budget-gap-grows-to-nearly-_1-billion-90787299.html#ixzz0l6WXpl6l


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Delicious Irony Please!

According to the Washington Post Maryland Politics blog, Delegate James King (R-Anne Arundel) is launching a primary challenge against fellow Republican, Senator Ed Reilly.

King’s news release said, “As a member of the County Council, Ed Reilly's voting record mirrored that of his Democratic colleagues."

That’s pretty cheeky for King given he was an enabler for Martin O’Malley’s 2007 special session tax increases.


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The Grown-Ups Talk about the Winners and Losers of this Session

As we begin to analyze the damage done, the House Republican Caucus blog has a breakdown of the winners and losers in this year's General Assembly session.

Few surprises there for RedMaryland readers.

I am sure I join my fellow contributors in thanking the caucus for all their hard work in trying to stop the insanity in Annapolis. There were certainly more losses than victories but they fought the good fight and need us to send them reinforcements in this year's elections.


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Liberal Megatrends and the Degrading of Higher Education, 2010

--Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.


There is and has been for a long time a general suspicion among conservatives that colleges and universities are hotbeds of liberalism.

Such profound understatement should be expected from naïve critics whose only connection with the academy is the periodic, highly publicized left-wing inexplicable activities (e.g., “Boycott Israel” movements) or decisions by university administrations (e.g., inconsequential and ineffective campus-wide “green” initiatives), and subtle, forgiving academic policy (e.g., grade inflation and a variety of ways to hold students harmless from low grades, such as very late withdrawal from courses and replacing bad grades with re-taken course grades as if the former never occurred). Skeptics should take notice of polls of the college and university professoriate which show the profound dominance of the liberal perspective, albeit with some surveys indicating that the liberal dominance is not far left, but more moderate left.

Perhaps, but the dominance of the left is simply indisputable in the American academy. There are many reasons for and variations of liberal activity and ideological dominance on campuses. Part of the reason is the melioristic bias that Richard Weaver and other conservatives have fought against for decades: that all of society’s inequities can be alleviated by radically redistributing wealth or giving academic dispensations to challenged populations among college and university matriculants.

There is a caveat that should be expressed whenever anyone speaks of ideological bias in academe. There are tremendous differences in enforcement. Some departments make liberalism a hidden, necessary qualification for hiring and promotion and tenure. In the atypical conservative university this criterion of enforcing ideological correctness occurs on the other side of the political divide. And, to be sure, there are universities wherein ideological diversity is accepted. Parenthetically, I believe for the most part that is true at my school, Towson University. Truth be told, I have never known a university with a more unthreatened and decent faculty and student body than Towson, but that story is for another day.

My national organization, the National Communication Association, is an umbrella organization that is a work-in-progress. Its major journals went literally decades in the late 20th century without a kind word for a conservative politician or any other conservative, and its convention panels and participants still discriminate powerfully against conservative perspectives, but it is improving – very slowly, but inexorably.

Universities across the United States are under tremendous budgetary pressure, and their priorities mostly reflect the liberal ethic: little or no cutting of liberal courses, little or no cutting of psychological services (want to guess, dear reader, what universities spend a year for such non-academic services that for the most part did not exist one half-century ago?), and little or no cutting of bureaucratic fat. Incidentally, some people resent the life-long employment that tenured faculty enjoy. At least know that administrations are at most universities de facto tenured.

To save money, non-Research-1 public universities are: 1. adding students to courses; 2. adding to faculty workload; 3. perpetuating their role as Nanny Universities by artificially holding student tuition down in some states, which exacerbates the budgetary crisis; and 4. increasing centralization of decision-making. All of these liberal actions more or less lead to the homogenization of higher education and severely lessen faculty autonomy, the lessening of which is another progressive value. They also detract from the working of the marketplace of ideas, as does the ideological prejudice.

In 2010 American universities are threatened by budgetary shortfalls, technological educational substitution (on-line courses) and liberal ideology.

The syntheses of these forces are hard to predict, precisely, but overall they appear to produce universities which are more homogeneous, centralized, liberal and less ideologically diverse.

It is the McDonaldization of the academy.


Richard Vatz is a professor of communication studies at Towson University


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ACTION ALERT: Jessica's Law Enhancement in Trouble

Time to light up the switch board.

The Jessica’s Law enhancement is in trouble. Brian Frosh and Joe Vallario are playing games with the length of sentences in order to run out the clock on the session and kill the bill.

Vallario won’t accept the Senate version (SB622) with 20-mandatory sentence for child predators. The House version (HB 254) of the bill sets the penalty at 15 years.

Frosh, who called Jessica’s Law a “bumper sticker bill,” now refuses to allow his committee to amend SB622 to 15 years to match the House version.

Frosh and Vallario always opposed long mandatory minimum sentences for child predators. They never wanted the measure to get his far. Remember what they did to try and kill Jessica’s Law back in 2007!

Right now folks it’s 15 years or nothing. The General Assembly session ends Monday night and Frosh and Vallario have called the four corners offense.

Call the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (contact info at the link) and demand they amend SB 622 to match HB 254. Call Frosh’s office at (410) 841-3124 or (301) 858-3124.

Time is running out…


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Friday, April 9, 2010

So The Joint Wasn't On Fire

Crack sleuth Sherlock Holmes Lobianco reports that there was no fire just a smoke at the legislative confab at O'Brien's last night.

O'Malley must have been talking about rolling back BGE rates again.

However, we do have exclusive video of O'Malley fleeing the scene.


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Walk you Lazy, Hypocritical Bum

Buried in this story about the fire at O'Brien's last night that impacted Governor O'Malley and members of the General Assembly in attendance was this:

The governor's security noticed the smell and quickly escorted O'Malley to his black SUV.
The Governor's SUV transported the Governor from the Governor's Mansion to O'Brien's? O'Brien's is a three minute walk (at most) from the Governor's Mansion.

Three minutes.

THREE MINUTES.

This from the Governor who is pushing a radical environmental agenda and is pushing average citizens to use public transportation for most of their commuting needs.

It's very hard to take this Governor seriously in his talk about public transit, the environment, and conserving our natural resources seriously when the lazy bum can't even hoof it from his front door to a bar three minutes away.

Seriously Governor O'Malley; maybe you want to try to lead by example before lecturing Maryland's middle and working class families about our use of fossil fuels.


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Attack of the Drones

Democratic special interests have wasted no time attacking Bob Ehrlich. Citizens for Strength and Security a union front group aired radio ads attacking Bob Ehrlich as a lobbyist.

IRS data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that CSS has received over $900,000 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Communications Workers of America for the 2010 election cycle. CSS spent nearly $3 million in the 2008 election cycle.

The ad closely mimics the same line of attack the Maryland Democratic Party deployed against Ehrlich.

The argument that Ehrlich is a lobbyist is dubious at best. Even Democrat operatives admit they have no proof. SEIU however is very much a lobbyist. In 2009, SEIU spent $2.6 million lobbying the federal government. That amount does not account for unregistered lobbyist and SEIU president Andy Stern lobbying the White House.

Naturally, Maryland Democrats are the farm team for Annapolis lobbyists. The relationship also works the other way. Quincey Gamble, a former MDP executive director was an SEIU lobbyist before running the party. In 2006, the state ethics commission cited Gamble for failing properly report his activities.

SEIU is a major contributor to the Maryland Democratic Party or as Democratic state senator Mac Middleton calls them, “the hand that feeds you.”

Since 2009 alone SEIU has given Middleton $8,000. That investment in Middleton has paid dividends in the form SEIU’s family child care power grab. Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee shepherded the bill out of his committee and through the Senate.

Democrats and their union masters are the entrenched special interests in Maryland, and no amount of Freudian projection will diminish the ferocious political headwinds they are sailing towards this November. After all, they charted the course.


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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Editors' Prerogative

Bob Ehrlich's entrance into the gubernatorial race has a lot of people excited, but remember unbridled enthusiasm was Billy Mumphrey's downfall.

In that vein we deleted a few recent posts by Last Reporter because poorly drawn sketches don't add much to the debate.

We love good mockery but scribble, which looks less like Stephanie Rawlings Blake and more like Michael Jackson does not make for good satire.

A better critique of Baltimore's new mayor would be her choice in spokesperson. But we digress.


--The Editors


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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dueling Democrats

The enigmatic GOP Films follows up with yet another video...



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Corporate Tools


The Maryland Democratic Party’s in house motto must be “we just make stuff up.” In playing the lobbyist card against Bob Ehrlich that is exactly what they are doing.

But there's a flaw in the Democrats' argument. Ehrlich is not exactly a lobbyist…

Travis Tazelaar, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, acknowledges he has no evidence that Ehrlich has been lobbying, but argued that "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's gotta be a duck." He called Ehrlich's description of his work at Womble "murky" and "shady."

Added Isaac Salazar, the state Democratic Party's spokesman: "Ehrlich was a member of Congress. There are lots of phone calls he can make. It's hard to believe his activity stopped once a client came in the door."

How does one debate such unassailable logic?

Seriously Maryland Democrats you know your party has issues when the Baltimore Sun—let me repeat—the Baltimore Sun points out your operatives have a truthiness problem.

Such absurdity requires “a level of skill and professionalism…that died with the Creigh Deeds campaign.”

But wait, there’s more:

Ehrlich would have plenty of ammunition if he decides to push back. In Annapolis, the highest-paid lobbyists - those with the most access to lawmakers and whose voices are heard far more than average citizens - are Democrats.

We’ve been saying the same thing for the last two months, about time the Sun finally caught on instead of regurgitating of Democratic talking points as news.

Of course, this douchewellian strategy becomes ever more apparent when you account for the fact that Tazelaar and Salazar’s jobs are funded in part from lobbyist contributions to the Maryland Democratic Party.

According to the state campaign finance database 83% of party’s administrative funds come from business entities—you know those same evil corporations Maryland Democrats love to vilify, but have no qualms about accepting their money. Over the last three years, the top two lobbying firms in Annapolis, Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, and Alexander & Cleaver gave the Democratic State Central Committee over $60,000.

But let’s give young masters Tazelarr and Salazar some credit they know the fastest way to make a buck in Maryland isn’t entrepreneurship, but through the crony capitalism of Maryland Democrats.

Like Josh White, they too can rake in the dough working for Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver. Why bother with regulation—it’s for suckers—when then can be like former party chair Wayne Rogers and dial up Mike Miller and disgraced lobbyist Gerard Alexander to get around the Public Service Commission. Ethics? Fuggedaboutit! If Michael Cryor can line his pockets through Sheila Dixon’s corruption in Baltimore why can’t they do it?

Really, why go through the hassle of starting your own business only to be taxed out of the state for being successful.


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

O'Malley knows he's losing

Desperation is setting in early on the second floor....

The game of chess between the O'Malley and Ehrlich camps began today, with Governor O'Malley challenging Governor Ehrlich to a debate this Saturday during Ehrlich's radio show, with Governor Ehrlich countering with the offering of a mano-a-mano conversation between the two (which I, for one, would think would be fascinating radio).

Team O'Malley's challenge of a debate is a classic political gambit, trying to take the opposing candidate out of their comfort zone by being generally pesky and annoying.

However, there is one minor detail about the tradition of this gambit; it is invariably only played by a challenger or a candidate who is trailing in the polls. A strong incumbent would never play this card, particularly this early in the campaign.

Is Team O'Malley's opening gambit a tacit admission that their candidate is the underdog? Or is it merely a way to lower their campaign's polling and fundraising expectations? Only time will tell, but clearly it seems to be the opening salvo from a campaign that wants nothing to do with running on Martin O'Malley's record of failure, Martin O'Malley's record tax hikes, Martin O'Malley's record spending, and Martin O'Malley's inability to effectively govern.

Expect similar gambits from the O'Malley camp from here on out.

(Crossposted)


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Monday, April 5, 2010

Revenue Nightmares

....another production from the mysterious "gopfilmsinc"



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O'Magination

Martin O'Malley: He brings higher energy costs to life.

From my latest Examiner.com piece:

Ecomagination” is the name General Electric gives to it’s environmental rent-seeking scam, which drives up energy costs. Governor Martin O’Malley’s latest energy proposal might as well be called O’Magination, because like GE it
brings higher prices to life—as in a $1 billion energy tax.


Go read the whole thing.


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Media Watch II on the Race for Maryland’s Governorship: The Baltimore Sun’s Improved Journalism

--Richard E. Vatz


Less than one short week (5 days to be exact) following some complimentary remarks in Red Maryland concerning an even-handed article in The Baltimore Sun on the Maryland Governor’s race (along with citing some pieces that were not so impressive), some even more auspicious Sun journalistic events have transpired.

In Friday’s edition of The Sun (and repeated in Sunday’s bulldog edition and only the bulldog edition) there were 2 columns on the race. One analyzes the race evenhandedly by comparing and contrasting it with the 1950 Maryland gubernatorial race. The other is Ron Smith’s consistently excellent column which, by including some compliments for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, produces for The Sun by April 2 of this election year what no op-ed article did throughout the entire election year in 2006: praise for the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Then the regular Sunday, April 4, edition of The Sun runs a unique political article for that newspaper: a fair consideration of a matter the Democrats have tried to manufacture and turn into a salient issue: claiming Gov. Ehrlich is the devil term “lobbyist” and a lobbyist who has not comported to the legal requirements of such a position.

Days ago, I summarized in Red Maryland the qualities necessary for fair reporting on political races: “…fairness in selection of: issues to cover, placement of stories, headlines to use, relevance of evidence cited and not cited, sources to interview, pictures to accompany articles, and general tenor of articles.”

Julie Bykowicz’s second straight fair political article in The Sun on the Maryland gubernatorial race -- breaking that newspaper’s all-time record by two -- has the following qualities: fair headline, fair sources, fair pictures, and the general tenor is fair as well. The article covers the question thoroughly, interviews both sides extensively, interviews the excellent and fair Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia's director for their Center for Politics, points to examples of extensive lobbying by the accusers, and finds no legal violations by Gov. Ehrlich.

Read this paragraph and ask yourself if you remember ever reading even such a quote by a Republican strategist in The Sun: “ ‘The fact that they jumped out so ferociously shows their concerns about [Ehrlich's] viability as a candidate,’ [Republican strategist Scott] Reed said. ‘All he has to do is ask if we're better off today than they were four years ago. O'Malley's team knows they're vulnerable on that, and so they're trying to change the subject.’ “

You think you may have read one? Okay, how about these two sentences by reporter Bykowicz: “But there's a flaw in the Democrats' argument. Ehrlich is not exactly a lobbyist.”

It’s easy to exaggerate the significance of one week of excellent journalism on the Governor’s race in The Sun, but this media critic thinks we might have fairness in this year’s news and op-ed coverage of the contest.

What a turnaround that would be from the contemptible pseudo-journalism of The Baltimore Sun in 2006.


Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University


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Friday, April 2, 2010

Battle over Teacher Pensions Looming

As the General Assembly session drags on and the Maryland Budget Crisis gets more and more acute, the General Assembly is looking to get cute on some of its accounting. In the Gazette today, a story about teacher pensions shows demonstrates the biggest problem with our current budgeting and spending priorities:

With the end of this year's legislative session in sight, a group of budget negotiators is preparing for what could be a contentious battle over whether to begin shifting teacher pension costs to the counties.

"It is the most controversial issue" in the fiscal 2011 budget, said Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market, who has been on conference committees in previous legislative sessions. "The House has its stand, the Senate has its stand, and the conference committee has to hammer it out."

On Thursday, the House debated the state budget. Delegates are scheduled to vote today on the budget but have said they would not support plans to shift pension costs to the counties.

Once the delegates approve their version of the budget, they will send it to the Senate for reconciliation.

If the Senate disagrees with the House's version of the budget, a 10-member conference committee will be set up to reach agreement on the spending plan. The conference committee is scheduled to begin its work at 2 p.m. Monday, Brinkley said.

While the assumption is legislators will disagree on the fiscal 2011 spending plan, which legislators were selected for the committee has not been announced.

The House is taking the "ostrich approach," Brinkley said, by "sticking their head in the stand and not dealing with [pensions]."

The counties negotiate pensions with teacher unions, but the state foots the bill. Some say there is no incentive for the counties to rein in costs. Meanwhile, the counties argue that they cannot afford to assume pension costs and that the state is in the better position to fund them.

On March 24, the Senate approved a $13.2 billion budget that includes the measure to begin shifting some of the costs of pensions for teachers to the counties in fiscal 2012. The action surprised some legislators, education and government officials who assumed the cost shift proposal would not be discussed until next year.
Odd that among all the discussions of shifting pensions costs around, not one Delegate or Senator has questioned whether or not we should be funding such exorbitant pensions to begin with.

I find it humorous first that sometime in the past the state agreed to fund county teacher pensions, but they did (surely at a time when the state was flush with money). Now that the pension liabilities are getting so big, the state wants to shed itself of the responsibility. So now that the counties negotiated a big pension obligation and then shifted to the funding responsibility to the state, now they don't want to take responsibility for it.

If the General Assembly had any huevoes to stand up to the teachers union (and all government unions) and say, we aren't going fund defined benefit pensions any more for workers going forward. Teachers and other state employees should be just like private sector employees and have 401k plans or something similar. Defined contribution plans are much smarter, much more cost effective and puts control of the money where it should be, in the individual worker's hands.

Of course, that ain't gonna happen, so the state, in order to balance the budget will start foisting pension liabilities to the counties--which will help no one at all.






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It's All Just Fun and Games...

Why are Democratic Senators Brian Frosh and Richard Madaleno playing games with the Jessica's Law enhancement?

Do they have a problem with sending child predators to jail for 20 years for second degree rape and molestation of a child?

Do they think a five year maximum sentence is adequate given the only difference between first and second degree offenses is an accomplice or use of a weapon?

Find out more in m latest Examiner.com piece


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Thursday, April 1, 2010

In$urance Follie$

Maryland's Legislative Democrats continue to wage war on the working poor on behalf of their trial lawyer benefactors in Annapolis, as the bill to raise minimum insurance premiums continues to work its way through the legislative process.

Lobbyist Minor Carter pretty much said the most relevant and succinct thing about this bill: "It's a tax upon the poor people of our state." Mainly because the customers most likely to be impacted by the bill are the drivers who are on MAIF, the state's insurerer of last resort:

The Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, the state's provider of auto coverage for high-risk motorists who can't obtain it on the open market, said 98.6 percent of its customers would absorb the increase. According to MAIF, which opposes the bill, the change would require rate increases between 6.1 percent and 9.3 percent.
And it's being brought to you by Maryland's Democrats.

As we said before, this is all part of the O'Malley Administration's Christmas in April trial lawyer handout program, or as Senator EJ Pipkin called it "the Trial Lawyers Relief Act of 2010." It is completely inexcusable that these Democrats (and the nine Republicans in the House who voted for this bill) are trying to stick it to Maryland's working poor in this manner, and to benefit nobody by the trial lawyers lobby.

It's a shame, but entirely unsurprising, that Maryland's Democrats want to screw the poor in such an unscrupulous way...

(Crossposted)


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A Piece for me, but not for thee

Buried in the story about Baltimore City Council President Jack Young's dwelling status (itself, of course, somewhat scandalous given the fact the guy is not living where he says he lives) is this gem:

Young said he uses Madison Street as his official residence to protect his family, claiming that neighborhood drug dealers had threatened him a few years ago. Then he flashed something even more startling than presidential skivvies: concealed-weapon permits. Young said he doesn't carry a gun but that he got permission to do so after dealers warned him to "watch your back."

"I want to keep people off balance," he said. "I'm afraid, like everybody else."
Yup. Another elected Democrat who has the right to carry a concealed weapon....even though, under Maryland law, you and I can't legally carry a weapon without going through an onerous and intrusive permitting process.

I don't begrudge Jack Young the fact that he can legally carry a weapon; I begrudge the fact that he is not trying to make the streets safer by allowing the common man to carry one, particularly on streets as dangerous as Baltimore's.

(Crossposted)


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