Friday, December 31, 2010

The Story of 2010

In past years I've put together end of year reviews like this one from last year, and I think that when you have a year such as the one that we just had it completely misses the point of what the one overreaching story of 2010 was here as it relates to the cause of conservatism and the Republican Party here in Maryland.

We dropped the ball.

That is the dominant theme that we leave 2010 with. Sure, we added a few seats in the House of Delegates. And the future looks promising given the "red underbelly" that we have seen develop in local and county governments. But as we have noted time and time again, the wave passed us by. While the long-term future looks bright, the short term future for us right now doesn't.

When Martin O'Malley, whose economic policies have been a catastrophic failure, wins by 15 percent of the vote, you know that you're in for a long road.

When you have fringe elements taken seriously with their tax policies that will continue to bleed money, jobs, and people out of Maryland, you know that you're in for a long haul.

When you have State Senators talking about a state level version of the DREAM Act, you know you're in for a long haul.

When you have Delegates who view disagreement as contempt, you know what you're up against.

And that says nothing of the parade of indictments against elected Democrats in this state.

All of that being said, we still managed several own goals against our side, most noticeably a party that was crippled with no money coming into this election cycle, and a lack of effective candidate recruitment leading into the year, to say nothing of the debacle of not fielding a candidate for Attorney General. Things that really added up over the course of this election cycle.

So yes, we dropped the ball, collectively, as conservatives and Republicans in this state. This one is on all of us. Now though is the time to let go. We have new leadership in the State Party. It is time to rededicate that focus to the future, which can be bright for our state and our party. Tomorrow is both a new day, and a new year. And we have 1,404 days until the next gubernatorial election. Might as well start making them count now...

More below the fold.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Questions to Ask of Our Government

This is not necessarily Maryland focused, but the thoughts apply.  

Karl Uppiano, writing at the American Thinker presents "The Top Three Tea Party Questions" that he contends should be asked. Those questions are: 
1. Which article of the Constitution gives government the authority to do this?

2. How does this help reduce the deficit and balance the budget?

3. Why does this have to be mandatory and not voluntary?

These are good questions, but these are not just Tea Party questions, they should be questions every American asks of their government a little more. The Framers were suspicous of the accumulation of power, hence the structure of the national government, but also the reliance on the state governments as bodies of power. But there are two questions that Uppiano doesn't ask, and I would name these as 1.5 and 2.5, that should be asked as well.  

1.5.  Is there a provision in the Constitution that limits or prohibits the government from taking this action?  The Constitution is not just a document that grants certain enumerated powers to Congress, it also contains express limitations on the government's power.  The difficulty that we as a nation face is that the Framers were not stupid, they realized that Congress would need to have a certain amount of flexibility to legislate their enumerated powers.  Thus, the Necessary and Proper Clause.  The problem of course is that Congress and the Courts have allowed the Necessary part to go forward, but everyone has forgotten about the Proper part of that clause.  Just because an action may be necessary to effect, for example, a regulation of interstate commerce, doesn't mean that it is actually Proper for the federal government to exercise that power.  We have to look elsewhere in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights to make sure that what Congress is doing is not just permitted, but also not prohibited.     

2.5.  If this action is necessary, what level of government should be doing what ever is being proposed?  America is a nation governed by multiple levels of government, from the national government to state government and multiple levels of local government.  But more and more, we are asking the federal government or we are allowing the federal government to do more and more and more.  What is the point of having state government or local government if we are asking the national government to do all of these tasks we want government to do.  

We as a nation are not doing enough to ask ourselves "should government be doing this thing?"   The loss of liberty is not a jarring thing, not like an invasion by a foreign power.  The loss of liberty in America has happened because we don't ask ourselves and our politicians these questions? 

More below the fold.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Typical Progressives

Leave it to the yahoos at Progressive Maryland (comically described by the Sun as a "Worker Advocacy Group") to suggest new and creative ways to stick it to middle and working class Marylanders:

The ideas: Leave in place the million-dollar tax bracket, which is due to expire in 2011; raise the alcohol tax by a dime per drink and earmark those funds for health care; increase the gas tax by 15 cents per gallon; enact combined reporting for corporations, which would prevent them from sheltering profits in other states; and "modernize" the sales tax by taxing services in addition to goods.
Each one of these tax increases will have a negative impact on our state that will disproportionately harm working Marylanders:
  • Extension of the million-dollar tax bracket will force more Maryland capital out of our state, reducing the potential pool for business development and reducing the state's pool of taxable income;
  • The Alcohol Tax as a "dime-a-drink" tax will disproportionately impact lower class workers who choose to drink, but forcing the same "regressive" tax increase on those who consume alcoholic beverages regardless of the price of the drink, to say nothing of the other impacts such a tax would have.
  • The Gas Tax increase may be the most crippling tax increase of all; not only would a 63% increase in the gas tax raise the price of tank of fuel for a 12-gallon car by $1.80 per tank drastically affect every family who lives in Maryland, but such a tax increase would have far reaching effects on the price of goods and services here in Maryland, which would be necessarily increased by businesses to offset the higher costs of delivering these goods to stores and to consumers.
  • Combined Reporting for corporations may, as they put it "prevent them from sheltering profits in other states". It may also force them to relocate their business out of Maryland and put Marylanders out of work; as Mark noted in 2007 an Ernst & Young study noted that combined reporting would cost the state 18.3 jobs lost for every $10 million in revenue
  • Finally, any "modernization" of the sales tax through expansion to the taxation of services will face similar impacts; higher costs to consumers, higher costs to businesses, and fewer opportunities for job creation of service oriented businesses.
So what you have is your typical progressive claptrap; raising taxes and hurting middle and working class Marylanders in order to fund their special interest projects. It's hard to believe that these folks have the chutzpah to continue to claim to be for the "working man" any longer....

More below the fold.

Maryland Democrats propose corporate welfare for Google

Are two Maryland legislators helping Google guarantee a profit on it’s billion dollar bet on wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic region?

It certainly appears that way.

According to state senator Paul Pinksy (D-Prince George’s) and delegate Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery) have filed a bill mandating state utilities enter into long term contracts to purchase wind generated power.

The bill did not specify a purchasing agreement with offshore wind producers, but wind was the only form of renewable energy that qualified.

The Pinsky-Hucker bill would support both renewable energy and an expansion of the wind-generated power industry in the state. Renewable energy proponents say that the only way developers can get financing for wind farms that can cost billions is through long-term contracts that guarantee a revenue stream.

Indeed, as renewable energy is more costly to generate and transmit versus fossil fuels, it is viable only through government subsidies and mandates.

Here’s where Google comes in. Back in October, Google and it’s partners announced with much fanfare a $5 billion project to transmit offshore wind power to the Mid-Atlantic region. Google has a 37.5percent stake in the project.

No government mandate. No contracts. No wind power. No need for a $5 billion transmission grid. You get the picture.

Hucker admitted as much saying “You need a bigger market. You need the utilities to participate.”

If the Pinsky-Hucker bill—reported to be supported by Governor Martin O’Malley—becomes law, Google and it’s investment partners will be the only winners and Maryland utility customers will be the losers.

Surely, Robert L. Mitchell, CEO of the Chevy Chase based Trans-Elect LLC, the company leading the Google partnership, hopes his late October investment in Martin O’Malley makes his company a winner.

A government mandate for wind power will certainly benefit Maryland wind baron and former chair of the state Democratic Party, Wayne Rogers. In 2007, Rogers used his influence to secure sweetheart legislation allowing him circumvent the Public Service Commission regulations to construct wind turbines in western Maryland.

Mandates for renewable energy force utilities to drop cheaper sources of power, which keep your monthly bills affordable, for higher cost renewables. For example, during the past legislative session O’Malley and the Democratic controlled legislature increased the solar energy requirement on utilities under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The increase amounts to nearly a billion energy tax.

Not only do the higher costs of renewable show up on your utility bill, but their costs are passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

Mike Tidwell of the global warming alarmist group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network cited a Massachusetts mandate for wind power as successful example. However, a Beacon Hill Institute analysis of 11 of that state’s 25 renewable energy mandates found they would cost Massachusetts ratepayers “$490 million this year, more than $985 million in 2020 and more than $9.8 billion cumulatively over the next eleven years.”

Nor are the green jobs United Steel Workers Maryland District Director, Jim Strong touts this mandate will bring, guaranteed. Over 79 percent of $2 billion in federal stimulus grant money for renewable energy grant program went to foreign manufacturers of wind turbine components. Furthermore, as the Spanish experience shows every government created green job destroyed two non green jobs.

The Maryland Reporter article notes that Tidwell, Strong, along with Environment Maryland’s chief Brad Heavner are part of coalition lobbying for wind energy mandates. This is the same lavishly funded coalition, which formed the "lead policy/lobbying group," for Maryland’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which is set to unleash a storm economically ruinous taxes and regulations.

The proposed wind mandates are yet another example of the corporatism, which defines one-party Democratic in Maryland.

More below the fold.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Best wishes from all of us at Red Maryland to you and yours.

More below the fold.

My New Year's Resolution: Calling B.S. on the State Budget

Betsy's Newmark riffs on a story by Steven Malanga (Wall Street Journal subscription required)who looked at some of the tricks that states have been using to pretend that they were balancing their budgets. While the excerpts that Newmark pulls out sound awfully familiar to us in Maryland, the fact is that shifting money is around in different accounts or moving money from particular accounts to the general account or borrowing against future tax revenues is nothing new. It is not shocking and, quite frankly, it is a bipartisan exercise.

Until we can get some financial realists in the General Assembly of either party, we will never again see a budget that can be easily understood; never again see a budget that is truthful about how much money is really coming in and from what sources or how much money is being spent and on what. This state bring in X dollars of revenue each year. We can spend no more than X dollars. That is how it works, full stop. Financial trickery will buy you a year or two or even a decade, but the bill will come due and our leaders need to stop worrying about the short term only and focus on the long term.

But, to be frank, I am part of the problem and indeed I think most of us are part of the problem. We never call B.S. on the General Assembly themselves, or at least not publicly enough. Sure we at Red Maryland and other conservative blogs will call Governor O'Malley on the matter, but we rarely hold our own Delegates or State Senators feet to the fire when it comes to the budget. We complain about it but we never use the rights we have to publicly denounce the manner in which our state budget is balanced.

The Republican side of Maryland got a beat down at the state level in November. It sucks and I was as disheartened, but the past is the past, learn the lesson but have no doubts and move forward. I believe the message of fiscal responsibility, of fiscal realism resonated, not because it was good politics, but because it was just good, common sense money management. Just as I have had to learn hard lessons about money management in my personal life, so too must we make our elected officials and not just the Democrats, learn the harsh lessons of sound money management. The funny thing is, they know principals of sound money management--they have X dollars of income in their personal lives and can only spend X dollars. But somehow, very few elected officials translate their personal lives into their duties in public office.

As Betsy Newmark pointed out, for governors like Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, it is "not their charm that appeals so much; it's their hard-nosed acceptance of reality and the courage to start doing something about it." Daniels and Christie have taken the lessons and basic money management skills from their personal lives and translated them into their public duties. They know implicitly that if you have X dollars in revenue, you can't have 4X in spending or even 1.1X in spending, you can spend only X. Until a Republican leader stands up and like Daniels and Christie, and starts telling people like it is, it is our right and responsibility to stand up and call B.S. on the budget trickery, on the movement of money and the borrowing against future revenue. As we have all learned, that kind of a bubble only lasts so long, eventually it will burst and where will we be then?

So my New Year's Resolution is simply this--understand the Maryland Budget and tell my elected Representatives--act responsibly or I am going to be loud and clear in calling you out on it. It won't matter if you have an R or D behind your name.

More below the fold.

Stealing Bases

Note Baltimore Sun editorialist Andy Green’s clever attempt to steal a base:

But save for the brief moment after Mr. O’Malley’s tax increases of 2007 but before the global financial meltdown, the governor and the legislature have all known that ongoing expenses actually exceeded ongoing revenue and that the ship was staying afloat only because of accounting tricks and fund transfers. The budget may be balanced every year, but it’s not sustainable.

While the crux of his editorial about the utterly meaningless Spending Affordability recommendations is on point, Green’s little encomium to the largest tax increase in state history is one base too far.

Sorry Andy, but history picks you off on that one. There was no “brief moment” after the 2007 special session where long term revenues and expenditures were in line. Even legislature’s chief budget analyst Warren Deschenaux said that January, “By no means can we say the problem is completely resolved.”

Sorry Andy, but there isn’t enough lipstick in the world to cover up that $1.4 billion pig.

More below the fold.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All fracked up

In a poor attempt at a balanced Baltimore Sun oped on hydraulic fracturing or fracking—the process of extracting natural gas from shale deposits deep underground—state delegate Heather Mizeur (D Montgomery County) can’t help but devolve into environmental fear mongering. If we don’t act as Mizeur says, the Chesapeake Bay could be set ablaze.

A flood of natural gas companies has swept into Appalachia, bringing the promise of both economic development and an American energy revolution. New technologies now allow them to extract gas from deposits long thought untappable.

And yet at least a few of these same companies have had to provide bottled water to whole neighborhoods. Why? Because in the shadow of new drilling operations, some families have discovered that their tap water is now flammable.

Yes flammable.

Water is so fundamental to our health and well-being that it is difficult to imagine the consequences of living in a world where it became more like lighter fluid….

But it is the method of extraction — not the fuel — that has raised red flags. When combined with advances in deep drilling techniques, hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has enabled companies to extract these once untappable natural gas deposits. Wells are drilled into the shale first vertically, and then horizontally, at a depth between 5,000 and 20,000 feet. To release the gas, the rock is injected with a highly pressurized mixture containing at least 2 million gallons of water, 200,000 pounds of sand and 80,000 pounds of chemicals.

That would be like putting three Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water, a sand volleyball court, and enough chemicals to outweigh five African elephants into the ground — for just one well. And according to some studies, 70 percent or more of this mixture stays in the shale and is neither recovered nor reused.

While these dangerous chemicals stay underground and threaten our water supply, complications from fracking continue to rise to the surface. Gas companies claim that the process is safe. Here's what we now know. Fracking chemicals contain known carcinogens. Water wells are exploding, and tap water is flammable. Fish kills and dead farm animals have been documented. Worse still, little reliable data is available about the long-term effects of shale gas drilling on water quality, wildlife, livestock or human health.

Mizeur’s proposes a state moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling permits “until until the state can assess the risks that fracking poses to streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater and the health of Marylanders.” The Marcellus Shale deposit stretches from New York south through Pennsylvania, western Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

Given the “evidence” she supplies in her argument however, Mizeur’s call for a moratorium is thinly veiled desire for banning the process entirely.

Mizeur’s argument is nothing more than a regurgitation of the HBO “Documentary” Gasland, a greatly flawed Michael Moore-style polemic. In Gasland the flim’s director, Josh Fox traipsing through the Marcellus Shale region filming residents, who claim fracking, has contaminated their well water, setting the water from their kitchen faucets afire. John Hanger, the Pennsylvania secretary of the environment featured in the movie, labeled it "fundamentally dishonest, a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect."

Furthermore, Mizeur isn't entirely honest with readers about ground water contamination. As Reason’s Ronald Bailey points out:

A 2008 report by the Groundwater Protection Council, a nonprofit organization whose members consist of state groundwater regulatory agencies, found that the layers of impermeable rock over top of the Marcellus Shale act as a barrier so that the water and chemicals used in fracking could not migrate upward into groundwater aquifers. In addition, a September 2010 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reviewed its complaint database and concluded “that no groundwater pollution [PDF] or disruption of underground sources of drinking water have been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations.”So if fracking is not the cause of flaming tap water and groundwater pollution in Dimock and elsewhere, what is?

Since 2006, Cabot Oil and Gas has drilled nearly 60 wells in a nine square mile area around Dimock, using the fracking technique. In January, 2009 several homeowners noticed that water from their wells was now bubbling. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection investigated and concluded that natural gas was in fact migrating from several Cabot gas wells into local groundwater and into homeowners’ wells. But poor well construction was to blame. A properly cased well prevents drilling fluids, fracking fluids, or natural gas from seeping into an aquifer and contaminating groundwater. The casing also prevents groundwater from leaking into the well where it could interfere with the gas production process.

In Dimock, gas was escaping through defective casings and cement that lined some of Cabot’s gas wells. To make matters worse, in September 2010, Cabot spilled 8,000 gallons of stored fracking fluids which drained into nearby Stevens Creek. Earlier this month, Cabot agreed to pay affected homeowners more than $4 million which amounts to twice the value of their houses. Cabot’s blunders illustrate an important point: Fracking, that is, the actual act of fracturing the shale below Dimock, did not directly pollute ground and surface waters.

In fact, even the Environmental Defense Fund admits the safety of properly regulated fracking.
Indeed, as environmentalists try to connect fracking to health hazards, their false claims keep colliding with the truth as it did in Texas. Anti-fracking advocates in Dish, Texas claimed the process led to high levels of chemical contamination in local residents, including Benzene. Yet the Texas Department of State Health Services own investigation found that “residents’ exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population.” The report noted that the only residents who had higher levels of benzene were smokers because cigarette smoke contains higher levels of benzene.

Also, Bailey fully illustrates a really important point, which Mizeur only glosses over.

In its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 [PDF] report, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States possesses 2,552 trillion
cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources
, of which for 827 Tcf resides in shale formations. Shale gas reserves are more than double the estimate published last year. The EIA notes that at the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use. The EIA further notes that shale gas supplied 14 percent of the gas used in the U.S. in 2009 and projects that it will constitute 45 percent of U.S. total natural gas supply in 2035. In addition, burning natural gas produces half the greenhouse gases that coal does and the EIA projects that supplies will be so abundant that the price should remain low for the next 20 years. That’s if fracking is not banned.

An elected official proposing to shut off a cheap, reliable source of energy may seem bizarre. However, it makes sense if you understand that in supplication to environmental special interests Mizeur, her Democratic colleagues, and Governor Martin O’Malley have done everything to increase the cost of energy in Maryland.

More below the fold.

The Invisible Hand Still Reaches For The Hot Girl

From my experience sending out political emails, I understand the value of a catchy subject line, or in this case a catchy post title.  I could have used a title like "laissez-faire economics", which is sort of what this post is about, but then you would have ignored it and signed on to facebook, and now here you are!

Everyone's heard of Adam Smith's famous 'invisible hand', a metaphor for the theory that society's best allocation of resources will be achieved by everyone pursuing their own individual self-interest in a marketplace.  Why then, are firms necessary?  If individuals can go to the market to get everything they need, why do they become involved with firms?  If you think about it, firms are organized in the exact way--centralized, planned, authoritarian--that is rejected by the invisible hand.  It's a question that The Economist takes on.  The answer, they argue, is due to the high transaction costs associated with going to market, as well as the collective expertise that can be achieved by a company of people.

It's the same reason you join any group--to be more successful than you could be on your own.  If you are a great baker but aren't good at accounting, you might want to become part of a bakery so that you can focus on baking and they can keep track of how many people buy your snickerdoodles.  If you are a commercial airline pilot, you need to become part of a firm so they can buy the plane you fly, attract the customers that need you to fly them somewhere, and negotiate with the government to make sure you don't fly in restricted airspace.

I'm reminded of a scene in The Beautiful Mind, the movie about the Nobel-Prize winning economist John Nash.  In the movie, Nash comes to his breakthrough idea when a group of young women walk into the bar, with one of the women being the most attractive:

Keep reading below the fold.

For the purposes of our little discussion here, let's call this super-hot woman "Hillary Clinton".  The invisible hand would predict that all the guys would hit on Hillary.  But Nash reasons that if everyone tries to impress Hillary, only 1 guy could potentially attract her, leaving the loser guys with no girlfriend.  And the loser guys would not be able to hit on Hillary's friends, because Hillary's friends are offended that they weren't the original target of the guys' affection.  So in Adam Smith's scenario one guy wins and the others lose.  Nash reasons that the best outcome is for all the guys to go after Hillary's friends--and not Hillary at all!  At least then, all the guys would have a girlfriend, even know nobody would be dating a supermodel.  "Adam Smith was wrong", the Nash character announces to his confused friends as he passes by all the Hillarys in the bar to go back and develop his theory.

In both the example of the firm and the 'non-cooperative games' to which Nash's theory is referred, Adam Smith's theory shows some weakness.  As an undergraduate economics student, I was forced to tattoo Adam Smith's name on my left bicep as a show of appreciation for the so-called father of economics.  "How could he be wrong?", I wondered, a foray into philosophy that was surely a result of a hangover and daydreaming during a class I really didn't care about.  I asked this guy, who was my faculty mentor, and remains the smartest person I think I've ever met.  The brilliant power of Adam Smith, he advised, was that despite a couple scratches on the fender, the Smith-mobile is still driving in the fast lane.  (We're using a car metaphor now--try and keep up!).  Despite the odd theory or exception now and then, it still remains mostly true that the best outcome is achieved by everybody doing what's best for them in a market free of coercion.

Taking the position that we are free-market experts, economists from the Chicago School argue that humans are 'economic robots'--that every decision they make is the result of the analysis of all available data related to the transaction.  This of course is not possible--most people can't know if a cotton shirt at Target is cheaper than one at Walmart--but you will try!  Maybe you ask your friends that shop at both places; maybe you know that milk is cheaper at one place than the other and you assume that all prices at that place are cheaper; maybe you're rich and you hire a private shopper to investigate and get you the best price.  In any case, the Chicago school model still might be the best model to use because it just might be the best predictor of what you're going to do.

Free-Market advocates don't have to worry--there is still room on your right bicep for Hillary's initials tattooed inside a heart.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maryland's Budgetary Tricks Degrade Higher Education

--Richard E. Vatz

(Below is a letter I had published in today's Baltimore Sun with some additional points added and a few emendations.)

In a recent article in The Baltimore Sun [“Universities are slowly tiptoeing into taming costs with efficiency,” December 19, 2010] the argument is made that universities, by increasing class size, reducing professors and lectures, adding teaching by teaching assistants and increasing computer grading, can maintain educational standards while saving money in these tough economic times.

This thesis is so oversimplified as to be simply false, or, at best, true in a few limited cases.

I cannot speak authoritatively to whether this higher education solution is ever possible in chemistry courses and some other natural sciences, but in the humanities and social sciences it is always educationally destructive.

Degrading the quality of professors and instructor-class interaction (such as in online courses) will always sacrifice higher education learning and sacrifice it significantly. Moreover, using “pass rate” as evidence of course success is an invalid measure of course integrity for many reasons, including the fact that such rates can easily be manipulated. Subtler indices of classroom success, such as how much material students “absorb,” are impossible to measure and inadequate as well.

There is nothing comparable to a reasonably small class with full-time professors' leading substantive, crackling give-and-take in some variation of the Socratic method.

Many faculty do not realize that there is a traditional tension, currently exacerbated by the bad economy, between university administrators and faculty regarding the goals of saving money versus maintaining educational standards.

Education-destructive classroom shortcuts are compounded by elements of course tampering as well. Towson University, to save an alleged $80,000, approximately .25% (one-quarter of one percent) of the university budget, has yielded control of student teaching evaluations to administrators, making a previously generally valid system now woefully invalid. It will herein be conducted online, with a longer instrument, inducing respondent fatigue, and the questionnaire includes irrelevant and invalid questions. There are also disincentives for not filling out the questionaire, which means that the respondent pool includes disaffected or otherwise non-engaged students (and who knows who else -- there is little security in the system either), all of whom will be evaluating courses outside of the classroom environment.

Columnist Jay Hancock says that “Professors and university administrators like to think their product is more important than a car.” That misses the point: creating and fine-tuning a car is not analogous to creating and fine-tuning a reasoning mind.

If you remove and/or handcuff the principals in education, the outcomes will be compromised, even if you use legerdemain to make the outcomes seem unaffected.


Professor Vatz is the longest-serving member of Towson University's Senate

More below the fold.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Permanent State

A completely unsurprising turn of events:

A longtime aide to Gov. Martin O'Malley will become Baltimore County's top lobbyist.

Yolanda Winkler is the new director of government affairs, replacing Frank Principe, who left to join the state Department of Transportation, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Tuesday.

Reasonably, you could argue that this is a relatively low profile personnel move of an incoming County Executive and an Administration entering its second term. However, it also goes to great lengths to show exactly why things never really change here in Maryland.

Sure, we change elected officials. County Executives, Mayors, Governors are all subject to term limits. But we have the revolving door of staffers who keep hopping from one Democratic administration to another, taking their failed policies and bad ideas from city to county to state and back again. While we elected Democrats come and go and take their out-of-touch liberal policies with them, these staffers stay.

One could argue that this becomes shared "institutional knowledge" that "makes government work effectively." And one could also argue that this recycling of staffers among Democrats is one of the many reasons that government in Maryland shows no innovative problem solving and relies on the failed policies of higher taxes, more spending, and government-based solutions.

This is why elections matter so much to us in Maryland, and why the rebuilding of the Republican Party is such a vital component to the future success of our state. Until we can effectively win elections and dismantle the permanent state of the staffer class, we cannot bring the changes that we need to compete economically....

More below the fold.

Net Neutrality: Creating the Problem it Means to Solve

More below the fold.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Misplacing Outrage

The Baltimore Sun ran an editorial this morning criticizing Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett for his attempts to protect his county from a reduction in state aid. Montgomery County should not be the "ATM machine for the rest of Maryland" he said, something that the Sun's editorial board is predictably out of touch with since the protection of state aid for Montgomery County would theoretically hurt other, poorer subdivisions such as Baltimore City.

As is typical of the Sun, however, they completely miss the greater point of why discussing the nuances of reductions of state aid to counties should merely part of the budgetary sideshow.

The truth of the matter is that there is a $1.6 billion budgetary shortfall for next year (not that anybody should be surprised by that, nevermind the protestations of Governor O'Malley during the campaign). Yet we already seem to have artificially limited ourselves to what potential solutions would be under serious consideration. Reductions in state aid, mainly shifting the burden of teacher pensions from the state to the counties, seem to be at the top of the pecking order because they are the simplest solutions to make.

What Maryland really needs right now is a discussion about government services and what the people expect from the state and from their localities. A $1.6 billion shortfall should be reasonably easy to fix when you really start taking the scalpel to government, streamline government services, find effective cost savings, and get government out of certain ventures. Such cost savings would be applicable not just to next year but future years as well, as we would be looking for responsible change proposals instead of just doing a typical O'Malley quick fix proposal to assuage the Democrats special interest backers.

Ike Leggett is right in that Montgomery County (or no county, for that matter) should be the ATM for the rest of the state. But we need to make sure that such statements are backed with a responsible reorganization of government, and responsible cuts in the size and scope of government. If the Sun really wants to be outraged with the budgetary situation, their outrage is misplaced on Leggett, and should be focused on the incapability of Martin O'Malley to manage a budget.

More below the fold.

European Court Holds Abortion is Not a Right | Americans United for Life |

European Court Holds Abortion is Not a Right, but will the leftists in America who think we should be more like Europe agree or will they ignore this by saying--"Well, its European Court so that doesn't apply to us."

Interestingly, the European Court takes the stance that the matter is one for the members states? Is the European Court more republican/federalist than U.S. Supreme Court?

More below the fold.

What did Martin O'Malley know and when did he know it?

Remember that pessimistic July employment report on the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s website? You know, the one DLLR and Governor O’Malley’s press secretary, Shaun Adamec tried to airbrush from history because it’s gloomy conclusions didn’t square with the rosy spin of O’Malley’s reelection campaign.

Well the O’Malley administration sure hopes you don’t remember because they weren’t exactly truthful about who knew what and when about it’s removal. According to documents from the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of the Governor’s office, and newly minted Executive Director of the Democratic Governor’s Association, Colm O’Comartun, Chief of Staff, Matthew Gallagher, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Ted Dallas were part of the O’Malley administration’s Friday evening scramble to cover it’s tracks and post a new—politically correct—report on DLLR’s website.

Shortly after MDGOP Communications Director, Ryan Mahoney caught DLLR with it’s pants down, I filed a Public Information Act request with the department to get all the relevant documents and communications pertaining the to the removal of the report. DLLR and the Attorney General’s Office response to my PIA request left a lot to be desired as they withheld many email communications, which they stated fell under executive privilege exemptions to the Public Information Act. Still, the documents they did release revealed the administrations Keystone Cops style cover up.

However, I requested an administrative law review to see if I could get the rest of the documents. Naturally DLLR and OAG fought me. I eventually withdrew my case, but not before OAG provided me with some interesting documents. OAG’s filing motion for a summary decision contains what is called a Vaughn Index of all the documents they withheld. The index (see pages 30-45) contains the senders, recipients, subject, and dates of all the emails withheld from my request. O’Comartun, Gallagher, and Dallas are all listed as recipients of emails on August 20, 2010 the night the administration raced to cover it’s rear end.
On page 12 of the document, OAG admits that “deliberations involved the Secretary of the DLLR, his Director of Information, and several senior level staff in the Office of the Governor, including the Governor’s Press Secretary, his Chief of Staff, and Deputy Chief of Staff.”

To be sure, we don’t know the content of the emails as Martin Milhous O’Malley—alleged champion of open government—is hiding behind executive privilege. However, the sheer fact that O’Comartun—O’Malley’s closest aide—was included in the communications means that more than likely O’Malley was aware of the situation. This puts the lie to DLLR Secretary Alexander Sanchez’s claim that O’Malley had no involvement in the report’s removal and O’Malley’s own denial that he was aware of the negative jobs report.

More below the fold.

Monday, December 13, 2010

David Brinkley Decides To Be Less Than Helpful

The bloom is off the rose. The critics of Alex Mooney barely let the confetti hit the floor before beginning their bleating.

Saturday evening Alex Mooney won a decisive victory in the race for Maryland GOP chairman. As RedMaryland supported Senator Mooney we are naturally happy with his victory and we are convinced he brings to the table something the MDGOP has lacked for ages: energy, focus, fund raising ability, and the desire to be something other than a pinata for the Maryland Democrat party.

Rather than concentrate on the positives and support a former Senate colleague, for reasons known best to himself, Senator David Brinkley, ostensibly someone who is on our side, exercised his talent for going straight for the capillaries:

Sen. David Brinkley, a republican who represents Carroll and Frederick counties, shares the concern and predicted that the new party chairman would want "to keep his name out in front of everybody." He complimented Mooney's organizational skills, but questioned whether Mooney's brand of conservatism would broaden the party's appeal.

"The party has to attract all types of voters as an alternative to the single-party politics in Maryland," said Brinkley, who will be the Senate's new minority whip.

There are two points of criticism here which merit addressing.

First, it isn't a bad thing if the MDGOP chairman is known. That can be good. Admittedly a bad chair who is known is worse that a bad chair who is anonymous but it you approach every situation from trying to minimize exposure rather than maximize advantage you might as well just tattoo the "L" on your forehead and be done with it. Of course what Brinkley is hinting at but won't say is that he's afraid that Senator Mooney will use the MDGOP chair position to set himself up to succeed Roscoe Bartlett when the MD-06 seat eventually becomes vacant.

That, of course, is a concern if you also desire to succeed Mr. Bartlett. If you are the average GOPer, having a GOP Chair who operated like the job was actually important to him would be huge step up from what we've been used to seeing.

Secondly, Senator Mooney does not mark and end to a big tent party in Maryland to the extent that such a party exists. What he does represent is an end to the rudderless way that the MDGOP has operated. I don't necessarily agree that conservatism, properly articulated, is a winning strategy but I believe it is a better operating philosophy than running as a more efficient Democrat.

So long as senior members of our caucus can't refrain from pretty and public backbiting for no more substantive reason than to make themselves seem important the MDGOP will be the ineffectual party it is today.

More below the fold.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MDGOP Convention Notebook

The Maryland Republican Party held it’s Fall Convention in Annapolis this weekend to elect a new chair and leadership positions. I was there and here’s what happened in notebook form.

Friday Night is Renegade Night
The MDGOP Executive Committee met to discuss party finances and hear reports from the Young Republicans, College Republicans, and party counsel etc… Our pal Michael Swartz was there and you can see his post for the details.

Friday however, is the night for the hospitality suites, press-the-flesh schmoozing by the candidates, and in general where the real fun is.

Chair candidates Mary Kane, Alex Mooney, and Sam Hale had their suites as well as some of the larger counties like Montgomery and Anne Arundel. Our own Brian Griffiths and candidate for Third Vice Chair, helped put together the YR spread.

However, the main attraction of the night was the Renegade Room, hosted by Richard Cross, Don Murphy and the Prince of Darkness himself, Joe Steffen.

Complete with—I kid you not—a grilled cheese station, the Renegade Room was the place to be. But alas not all were welcome. Some—like Mickey from Porky’s—had to be tossed out on several occasions. Others, like serial dropout candidate Carmen Amedori, had a better shot of getting a table at the Rainbow Room without a reservation than getting into the Renegade suite. Richard Cross has all the juicy details on that incident. See Joe’s write up of the night’s events here.

The Renegade Resolution was on prominent display as well as an honor roll to reengade candidates.

I had only known, Joe, Richard, and Don through Facebook conversations, but they are every bit as friendly and personable in the flesh as they are online. It was a pleasure to meet and chew the fat or in this case grilled cheese with them.

The buzz of the evening revolved around the incident at WBAL earlier in that afternoon, when Bob Ehrlich dodged WBAL investigative reporter Jayne Miller’s question about those election night robocalls and storming out of the station.


The WBAL incident bothered me so much I rose early Saturday morning to comment on it.
I have a lot of amity for Bob Ehrlich but his continued evasion of a real answer about the robocalls is unacceptable. We at Red Maryland endorsed Ehrlich, supported him and put our own skin in the game for him. He owes us—and all the people who went to the mattresses for him—a better explanation than, “it was done outside my purview.” Unless of course, Ehrlich wants the picture of he and Kendel escaping out the back door to be lasting image Marylanders have of him.

This could have made my appearance on the Kendel Ehrlich radio show that morning all the more interesting/awkward, but I didn’t broach the subject. The spectacle of Barack Obama handing the presidential podium over to Bill Clinton was enough to discuss.

There was one awkward or—depending on your point of view—funny moment when Joe Steffen passed by saying hi in the hotel lobby as I was on the phone with Kendel. Had I any moxie I would have handed the phone to Joe. What a 10:30 news update that would have made for Robert Lang!

I made it into the convention hall as the Rules Committee was presenting it’s report and the party was voting on changes to it’s voting method. Rather than bore you with the technical minutiae, the new voting method gives smaller counties a little more weight in the voting apportionment. County central committee members vote for party officers.

Next were the official nominations for MDGOP Chair and the candidate statement. The best line from any of the candidates came from Bill Campbell, “When I squeeze a nickel, Jefferson ends up in Monticello on the back.” And I believe it. As it’s CFO, he helped tame AMTRAK.

Alex Mooney won the race for chair on the second ballot.

First ballot results:
Bill Campbell 48, Mike Esteve 29, Sam Hale 52, Mary Kane 183, Alex Mooney 276.

Tea Party favorite, Hale dropped out after the first ballot and threw his support to Mooney, Mike Esteve dropped out as well asking his supporters to vote for Mary Kane. Campbell dropped out but did not voice any support to another candidate. Mooney defeated Mary Kane on the second ballot 362-219.

Mary Kane’s loss does not appear to be a reflection on her so much as it was a rejection of Ehrlich. It appears that Kane wasn’t the “establishment” candidate others made her out to be. In fact, a lot of the central committee members I talked to were indeed not all that happy with Ehrlich they simply thought Kane was the best candidate for the job.

Alex Mooney Pros and Cons:


He’s a solid conservative both fiscal and social;

He’s a proven fundraiser;

He’s tied into the conservative think tanks and operations in DC, which he can use to gain access to donors;

Mike Miller hates him.

He hasn’t stated publically that he’s in this for the long haul. We need to know that MDGOP chair isn’t a temporary way-station for him until he runs for Congress when Roscoe Bartlett departs this mortal coil;

He has fundraising plan, but no details on how to execute it;

His social conservatism may put off more libertarian minded members of the party, who would be allies on the fiscal front.

I like Alex Mooney, he’s a fighter who can raise money, and anyone who can piss off Mike Miller is okay in my book. However, he’s a policy guy coming from the state senate. How will he handle a situation where one of his former Republican colleagues in the legislature goes off the reservation?

I hope he realizes that it takes more than simply saying “conservative wins” and that he indeed follows his own advice and indeed gets out there to explain why conservative ideas are preferable to snake-oil liberalism.

Mooney talked a big game, but now it’s time to put up or shut up. Show us something.
Diana Waterman, Vice Chairman of the Queen Anne’s County Central Committee won the race for First Vice Chair. You can see her Q&A with Red Maryland here. Interestingly enough, none of Queen Anne’s votes went to Mooney on either the first or second ballot.

Larry Helminiak, Vice Chairman of the Carroll County central committee and a board member of the Maryland Taxpayers Association won Second Vice Chair.

Our own Brian Griffiths lost his bid for Third Vice Chair. Brian lost to former federal prosecutor Eric Grannon.

Chris Rosenthal reelected to Treasurer by acclimation.

John Wafer won the race for Secretary.

More below the fold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What You Leave Behind

This WBAL TV report from Jayne Miller (sorry no embed code available) was the buzz of the MDGOP Convention hospitality suites Friday night.

Outside the WBAL Radio studio, Miller confronted Bob Ehrlich about the election night robocalls Julius Henson said the Ehrlich campaign paid him make. Ehrlich refused to answer Miller's questions saying "I'm out of here." Ehrlich was at the station to pick up Kendel who had just finished her weekly stint on the "Week in Review" on the C4 Show.

According to Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik, Miller did not ambush Ehrlich and the cameras were not rolling when she first approached Ehrlich.

I don't often agree with Zurawik, but he's right in that the image of Ehrlich leaving the station, failing to answer one of the city's most respected investigative reporters is going to be the lasting impression a lot of people will have of him. And that's a shame.

(For the record though the Ehrlich's usually leave the station via the back entrance, it's where they park. )

I believe Ehrlich did not personally know about the robocalls, but his campaign hired Henson, knowing full well his reputation for dirty politics, and it was Ehrlich's campaign people who had to have a hand in the robocalls. And, in the end, the buck stops with Ehrlich.

Voters and especially those of us who supported him, are going need a lot more than "it was done outside my purview."

More below the fold.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ten Questions: Diana Waterman, Candidate MDGOP First Vice Chair

Name: Diana Waterman
Office Sought: MDGOP First Vice Chair
Facebook Page: Diana Waterman for MDGOP First Vice Chair

1. How do you envision your role as First Vice Chair?
Primarily as a member of the team and in particular, as the right hand of the Chairman. It is the job of the vice chairs to assist the Chairman in carrying out his/her duties. I believe that the previous chairs have not utilized the vice chairs as effectively as they could have. The workload (committee oversight, particular projects, etc.) of the chairman should be delegated to the vice chairs. Additionally I would suggest that the vice chairs serve as regional liaisons for the counties with the state party (increase interaction and communication between county central committees and the board of the state party)

2. Who, if anyone, do you support for chairman?
As a candidate, I believe that we are very lucky in having some great candidates willing to step up and offer to run our state party. As a member of a central committee, of course I know who I’m going to vote for but I believe that is personal information and not something that needs to be disclosed until the vote.

3. Do you support the Chambers Compact?
Yes and no. While I believe there are many good things contained in this document, there are also many things understated or left out.

While I will grant that we had a failure at the statewide level, I don’t believe that the MDGOP failed to capitalize on the Republican wave. In areas where they could affect change, they did. In my own county, we had a huge Republican tidal wave. Every race that had a Republican candidate running was won by a Republican except one. Four years ago, we had a Republican majority and we won only 1 commissioner seat. And I think we made considerable gains on the local level in other races as well. I know Talbot has a Republican majority on their county council for the first time in many years.

Our numbers make it almost impossible for us to make any significant gains statewide and even in a lot of jurisdictions. While I’ll grant that the Republicans statewide (and the state party) need to reach outside of our comfort zone and spread our message more effectively, how to spread that message is the tricky part. People have gotten so accustomed to listening to 30 second sound bites that it’s very hard to teach them anything. When we figure out how to accomplish that, than we will succeed in educating the voters – if they aren’t listening, how do we make them hear?

Anyway, while I don’t agree with all of his points, I do agree with Kevin, my son, that the Compact mentions promoting our First Principles but doesn’t say what they are. I understand the desire to make it a more general type of statement but therein lies one of the major problems for the party countrywide. Each group has its own set of “First Principles” that they believe are life-threateningly important – how do we bring the social conservatives into agreement with the social moderates into agreement with the Libertarians with the …well you get my point. I personally believe that we have to stick to the Fiscal Issues – the things we pretty much all agree on (of course, the Libertarians want to go even further than the average Republican would even on Fiscal issues) and agree to disagree on the rest.

4. How will you reach out to TEA Party activists skeptical of the Republican Party?
I believe that leaders from all Republican grassroots organizations should be brought together to share ideas, concerns, and strategies. We are working towards the same goal – bringing some balance to our government. As our state is so geographically large, I would recommend regional roundtables bringing together members of the state party, clubs, tea party activists (AFP. Society of Patriots, Tea Party groups – organized and not so organized, etc.) to create a workable plan to achieve our goals.

5. What is your strategy to create parity with Democrats and change the electoral math for statewide victories?
In a nutshell, Ground based voter outreach – we need to get out to all neighborhoods and interact, face to face, with the citizens in many different ways – show them we’re not so different from them, that they share our values and beliefs, and that they can and should be a part of our “family” (and then be there to support them afterwards).

6. What ideas do you have to reach out to non-traditional Republican constituencies?
Explore new and innovative programs like Raging Elephants and anything else out there – we have to think outside of the box. We also need to create a marketing plan utilizing newer technology like YouTube, Twitter, and what’s around the corner tomorrow. But before any of that happens, we need to come up with the message – one that stresses the things we all agree on – lower taxes/less spending, personal responsibility, and smaller, limited government.

7. As First Vice Chair, what will you do to ensure the party is adequately funded?
Working to increase our database of smaller donors, making the “calls for cash” as needed, trying to coordinate efforts with the counties so that we’re not competing with one another, and helping the chairman so that he/she has time to lead the fundraising efforts.

8. The waiving of Rule 11 during the 2010 primaries caused a lot of controversy. In the future, would you ever support waiving Rule 11?
Never is a very long time. I try to never say never. I do believe that, considering the ill feelings that this created, that perhaps the bylaws should be amended to require approval of the Executive Committee (the Board plus County Chairs plus Chairmen of several organizations) before signing. At the very least, it needs to be discussed in the Executive Committee.

9. How will you use technology and social media to implement your plans should you be elected?
I sort of addressed that in an earlier question; however, bottom line is that we need to find ways to utilize this technology effectively and as soon as possible. I would suggest that the Chairman create an ad hoc committee to develop a technology roadmap that will position the state party to take advantage of technology as it is created and to share this plan with the counties as well.

10. How do you see MDGOP’s role vis-à-vi elected Republicans and policymaking?
It is not the job of the State Party to make policy (other than to promote our core values, as mentioned above). Our job is to grow the Party by increasing voter registration roles, helping to find and train viable candidates, and to raise the funds necessary to accomplish these jobs (as well as to keep the operation running). This cycle we will also need to raise the money to fight redistricting (they are going to try to redistrict us out of existence). If we have a problem with a position that one of our elected officials is taking, we need to handle that behind closed doors, not in the press. If the situation becomes so untenable that more severe action is required, it should be handled on a case by case basis and approved of by the entire elected board, at a minimum.

More below the fold.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advice Worth Ignoring

My latest Washington Examiner Local Opinion Zone blog post:

Maryland Democratic Party drone and chief Astroturf farmer Matt Verghese’s diagnosis (Left behind: The Maryland Republican Party) of MDGOP’s travails is an incoherent mess resulting from vigorous intellectual masturbation. Feigning as some sort of objective analyst Verghese’s diagnosis is nothing more than a hackneyed cliché-filled taunt.

Silly me but shouldn’t Maryland Democrats first actually acknowledge rot and corruption in their own party before lecturing Republicans?

Verghese is right when he talks about the state’s electoral math. However, he’s wrong when he says MDGOP’s “support and values are out of line” with Maryland’s demographically diverse voters. While this may be true on the surface, the only reason these voters align with Democrats is because they pander to those voters. What Maryland Republicans have failed to do is educate those voters that Democratic pandering is really code for taking their money and redistributing it to their special interest masters, be it public sector unions or corporate benefactors.

Verghese pooh poohs the notion that MDGOP needs to “embrace new ideas, energy and personalities” when that is exactly what it needs to do—among other things—as I laid out in the Chambers Compact.

Verghese scoffs at Republican gains in the county and local races pointing to them as proof of a Republican flat line. In fact, they are a source of strength to develop a bench and hone our arguments. While some in our party think we should concentrate solely in those regional strongholds—I’ll concede they make a fair point—but abandoning the urban regions would be a mistake.

Verghese writes this puzzling statement: “a schism has developed as the conservative-tea party wing want to abandon the self-imposed ‘moderation’ imposed by the Bob Ehrlich establishment over the last decade.”

Well which one is it? Was it self-imposed or was Ehrlich the imposer? Someone inform young master Verghese one cannot self-impose moderation while simultaneously having it imposed by an external actor.

Then there is Verghese’s use of the abracadabra phrase “pro-corporation orthodoxy.” What pray tell does he mean by this? Most Republicans I know (though not all) preach free market ideas, and if you know anything about free markets principles they are anti-corporation. In fact, it is the Democrats—to who hue—to use Verghese’s term to—“pro corporation orthodoxy.” Can you say corporatism?

Furthermore, when you take a look at the vast chasm between campaign contributions between the Maryland Democratic Party and MDGOP and Verghese’s statement looks even more absurd. According to the Maryland campaign finance data base in the 2010 election cycle, Maryland Democrats raised over $2.7 million from business entities (including unions) while MDGOP raised only $141,000. So which party really is the “pro corporation” party? Only the Maryland Democratic Party could wag a school marmish finger at “corporations and special interests” with one hand, then rake in millions of dollars from those same corporate special interests with the other hand.

It appears the only thing “left behind” was any sort of cogent argument by Verghese.

Yes, MDGOP has it’s problems to be sure. However, there is a groundswell of energy and enthusiasm growing among the party’s grass roots and newer activists to build a party, which can effectively educate voters not predisposed to vote Republican why free markets and limited government are preferable to the snake oil the Democrats are peddling. Yes there will be disagreements, as there are in any political party, but in the end MDGOP will be united and ready to fight and win.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

More below the fold.

If You Want Corruption...

...You got it

More below the fold.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There's Something About Colm O'Comartun...

...that Washington Post scribe John Wagner left out of his fawning blog post about O'Malley tapping his body man for the DGA executive director post.

O'Comartun was the source, who--unwittingly--provided us O'Malley's Blackberry addy back in October of 2007.

Thanks Colm, we wish you many more gaffes in your new role.

More below the fold.

Ten Questions: Brian Griffiths, Candidate MDGOP 3rd Vice Chair

Name: Brian Griffiths
Office Sought: MDGOP Third Vice Chair
Website: You're reading it now

Brian is one of our own and we wholeheartedly endorse him. Unlike Robert Frost's definition of a liberal we're not afraid to take our own side in an argument.

1. How do you envision your role as 3rd Vice Chair?

In our bylaws the duties of the Vice-Chairs are ill-defined. Carthaginian commander Hannibal famously said, "We will either find a way or make one." I plan on using the position to direct our party in communications, messaging, and building the base.

2. Who if anyone do you support for Chairman?

I'm not supporting anybody for Chairman. We have a number of good candidates and I look forward to working with any of them as 3rd Vice-Chairman.

3. Do you support the Chambers Compact?

Yes, I am one of the original signatories and proud to be one.

4. How will you reach out to TEA Party activists skeptical of the Republican Party?

We need to focus on a core message that unites our party; that we are taxed too high and that our government spends too much. As we have seen around the country, this is a message that appeals across the political spectrum, and one that appeals to both TEA Party activists and skeptical Republicans. We need to make sure that our party both talks the talk and walks the walk on fiscal matters.

5. What is your strategy to create parity with Democrats and change the electoral math for a statewide victory?

A new generation of leaders focused on a core message will have the opportunity to take our party to new places in search of new voters. Many Marylanders believe in small government principles, but aren’t given a voice in their community. We must traverse every inch of our state to rally conservatives of all stripes, colors, and creeds to our cause. Our party must not only take our message to these new voters, but also empower their voice in their community as well as a voice in this party.

6. What ideas do you have to reach out to non-traditional Republican constituencies?

As I noted before, we must traverse every inch of our state to rally conservatives of all stripes, colors, and creeds to our cause. But that can't just be lip service. We have to go meet these potential Republicans in their communities, their churches, their neighborhood associations. We have to be willing, as a party, to put the legwork in to make it happen. And it isn't going to just be something incumbent upon state party leadership; it will also be the responsibility of local central committees, elected officials, activists, and yes bloggers to make this work.

7. The waiving of Rule 11 during the primary caused a lot of controversy. In the future, would you ever support waiving Rule 11?

I don't believe that the state party should have any role in supporting a candidate in a contested primary. That's a job for the voters to sort out. But if for some reason it ever comes up as an issue, we HAVE to discuss it in an open and transparent matter. The way Rule 11 was used this year created a lot of distraction to the party and to party activists, and opened up a lot of wounds that still have yet to heal. It was a self-inflicted wound, and one that we can avoid in the future by refusing to take sides in these primaries.

8. What will you do to help MDGOP better utilize technology and social media?

Well I'm obviously no stranger to technology and social media. We must continue to grow their use and make them part of our overall strategy. But we cannot lull ourselves into thinking that social media alone will fix our situation; it is merely a tool that we can use to keep in touch with people and keep them apprised. We must, as I noted before, go and meet people in the communities first and then use technology and social media to bring these folks into the fold and turn them into the next generation of activists.

9. What more should MDGOP be doing to hold Martin O’Malley and the Democratic majority accountable?

The state party needs to work collaboratively with the members legislative leadership to make sure that we are discussing what the Governor and the Democratic majority are doing. For far too long Democrats in Annapolis have been sticking it to middle and working class Marylanders so that Democrats can enrich and empower their special interests supporters. Working together with an appropriate communications strategy, the state party can get the word out about what's going on and encourage average Marylanders to take action.

10. How do you see MDGOP’s role vis-à-vi elected Republicans and policymaking?

The State Party is an operational body. It is not a policymaking body. Do I believe that we as a party succeed by electing good, principled conservatives? Of course. But anybody who wants to use the State Party as a bully pulpit for their policymaking goals should probably run for Delegate or the State Senate. Our goal is to win; to elect good Republicans yes, but ultimately it is to win.

More below the fold.