Thursday, January 31, 2013

Red Maryland Radio: 1/31/2013

Another big episode of Red Maryland Radio came at you tonight on the Red Maryland Network.

Listen to internet radio with redmaryland on Blog Talk Radio

On this week's show:
  • Secretary Larry Hogan from Change Maryland joins us to discuss his response to the Governor's State of the State Address and the budget woes currently facing our state;
  • John Leopold was found guilty; Greg provides legal analysis and we discuss the potential circus that might ensue if the County Council has to fill the vacancy;
  • We talk Super Bowl;
  • And we talk about Fried Chicken; why Brian thinks Bojangles is the Best, and why Greg doesn't like it.
Also: don't forget to join us Friday at 5:30 pm at Union Jack's Pub in Columbia for a LIVE broadcast of the Red Maryland Happy Hour starting tomorrow at 6.

All that and more this week. Be sure to listen every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes

More below the fold.

Red Maryland Radio Tonight

Join us tonight at 8 PM for this week's installment of Red Maryland Radio.

Tonight we've got two big topics on our plate:

All that and more tonight. Be sure to tune in tonight at 8, only on the Red Maryland Network.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Martin O'Malley's Maryland Fairy Tale As Told by Politico

According to Politico reporter Alexander Burns, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wants to tell “his story.”  That is, O’Malley is framing the narrative of his 2016 Democratic presidential primary run as the story of his “results oriented” stewardship of the Free State. 

Burns however, like too many in Maryland’s political press corps, has fallen for the mythical Potemkin Village of “One Maryland,” created by O’Malley’s spin machine.

For example, Burns uncritically repeats the O’Malley fiction of “cutting billions in state spending.”  In fact, Maryland’s budget has ballooned by nearly $9 billion, a 30 percent increase, since O’Malley first took office in 2007.  Unfortunately, reporting O’Malley’s $9 billion spending increase, as billions in spending cuts, is a common journalistic malady for the state’s two papers of record The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post. 

Burns writes:
In a speech earlier this month unveiling his 2014 budget, O’Malley explicitly contrasted Maryland’s approach with the state of the federal government.“Even though we’ve been able to apply a balanced approach here in Maryland, our national politics is still struggling with restoring this balanced approach in our nation’s capital,” he said on Jan. 16, taking a whack at “the hara kiri Congress down the street.”

Apparently increasing spending by $9 billion and taxes by $6 billion is the new definition of “balanced approach.”

Burns also obediently repeats O’Malley’s boasting of Maryland public schools number one ranking in by Education Week.  Yet, the crack Politico reporter omitted the fact that the same Education Week report shows Maryland schools consistently fail its poorest students.  According to Education Week Maryland ranks dead last in the 8th grade math poverty gap.  Nor did Burns report that a large majority of Maryland high school graduates need remedial Math and English instruction when they get to college.

Burns also uncritically accepts the assertion made by an unnamed O’Malley adviser, whom he quotes, that O’Malley protected Maryland’s AAA bond rating.  Yes, that is technically true, but Moody’s put Maryland on its watch list and assigned a negative outlook to the state.

The outlook on Maryland's AAA rating is negative due to its indirect linkages to the weakened credit profile of the US government. The negative outlook relates to Moody's August 2, 2011 decision to confirm the AAA government bond rating of the United States and assign a negative outlook, and to our December 7 assessment of the state's exposure to indirect linkages to the federal government. Moody's has determined that issuers with indirect linkages, such as Maryland, have some combination of economies that are highly dependent on federal employment and spending, a significant healthcare presence in their economies, have direct healthcare operations, or high levels of short-term and puttable debt. 

Moody’s also noted the ticking time bomb of Maryland’s debt and pension obligations.  According to State Budget Solutions, Maryland’s debt is nearly $82 billion, and state pension and retiree healthcare liabilities stand at $64 billion.  Much of O’Malley’s budget balancing came through swapping out cash in capital funds and replenishing it through bond debt.

Burns tell us O’Malley wants to “tell his story,” but that story is fairy tale, and it is his job as a reporter to tell the real story, not play stenographer. 

More below the fold.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fundraising Totals for Sitting Maryland Republican Legislators

Here's an aggregate list of Fundraising totals from 2012 for our Sitting Republican Members of the General Assembly....

 Raised in 2012   Cash on Hand   Debt 
Brinkley David  $          32,986  $        14,436
Colburn Richard  $          18,373  $        19,044
Edwards George  $          30,825  $        51,978
Getty Joe  $           8,335  $          8,428
Glassman Barry  $          45,415  $      166,282
Jacobs Nancy  $           7,355  $          6,296
Jennings JB  $          13,245  $        38,811  $       4,618
Kittleman Allan  $        153,305  $      184,194
Pipkin EJ  $              350  $        40,111
Reilly Ed  $          25,827  $        10,128  $     18,938
Shank Chris  $          13,365  $        17,646  $       5,000
Simonaire Bryan  $          12,817  $                -  $     70,100

 Raised in 2012   Cash on Hand   Debt 
O'Donnell Tony  $           1,975  $          2,820
Haddaway-Riccio Jeannie  $          12,150  $        11,641
Frank William  $          10,032  $            656
Aumann Susan  $          19,680  $        54,137
Dwyer Don  $              700  $          1,411
Hogan Patrick  $           2,800  $          1,856
Krebs Susan  $          15,125  $        61,495  $     35,000
Schuh Steve  $        329,053  $      521,139
Stifler Donna  $          23,100  $        44,216
Eckardt Addie  $          10,600  $        42,534
Afzali Kathy  $          17,403  $        11,335  $     13,214
Bates Gail  $          17,177  $        27,676
Beitzel Wendell  $           2,300  $          4,222
Boteler Joe  $           4,140  $          6,154
Cluster John  $           9,607  $        17,209
Costa Robert  $                 -  $          1,500
Elliot Donald  $                 -  $          8,049
Fisher Mark  $          46,348  $        21,736
George Ron  $          12,550  $        21,287
Glass Glen  Affidavit   Affidavit 
Hershey Steve  $          16,113  $        20,314
Hough Michael  $          40,055  $        51,920
Impallaria Rick  $           7,505  $          6,615
Jacobs Jay  $          12,295  $        10,984
Kach Wade  $          11,650  $        35,253
Kipke Nic  $          28,553  $        34,962
McComas Susan  $           4,255  $        32,472
McConkey Tony  $           6,025  $          5,620  $   126,500
McDermott Mike  $           9,577  $          9,640
McDonough Pat  Affidavit   Affidavit 
McMillan Herb  $          26,970  $        12,452
Miller Warren  $          18,340  $        20,105  $      3,746
Myers LeRoy  $          23,401  $        23,407
Norman Wayne  $          19,435  $        24,722
Otto Charles  $              250  $          6,520
Parrott Neil  $          32,408  $        32,108  $     32,207
Ready Justin  $          28,398  $        36,962
Schulz Kelly  $          20,855  $        23,816  $      2,000
Smigiel Michael  $                 -  $        14,809  $      9,006
Stocksdale Nancy  $                 -  $          3,945
Szeliga Kathy  $          19,915  $        36,863
Vitale Cathy  $           8,650  $        23,537

More below the fold.

The Broadside Tonight 8pm

Tonight on The Broadside at 8pm.

Labor attorney Vinny Vernuccio on Obama's illegal recess appointments to the NLRB

Delegate Justin Ready introduced a bill to stop the Maryland Department of Transportation from implementing a vehicle miles travelled tax as part of O'Malley's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act

The collectivist claptrap in Obama's inaugural address.

And we'll talk Super Bowl with Matt Palmer, former Ravens beat writer for the Examiner and Press Box.

Tune in here at 8pm on The Red Maryland Network

More below the fold.

Does Maryland really need a state sandwich?

Once again I feel embarrassed and betrayed.  According to the Washington Post (Maryland already has a state dessert. Now lawmakers will consider a state sandwich), a Republican state senator, Richard F. Colburn of Dorchester, is sponsoring a bill to "designate the soft-shell crab sandwich as Maryland’s official 'state sandwich.;"

While the Maryland GOP ponders this trivia, the party and its "leaders" have remained silent about Gov. O'Malley's appointment of Democrat Darren Swain to the vacant district 24 delegate position.

Deadbeat Swain, who has a a long record of traffic offenses, one of which escalated into a circuit court criminal case, also seems to have a problem paying his bills.  For example. Discover sued him for over $12,000 in 2008, and won a judgment and lien against him then, but the only record that he actually settled the claim is dated January 9, 2013, when he started actively seeking the delegate position.

Earlier, the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee and various party leaders recommended Greg Hall for the position.  Hall, involved in the murder of a 13 year old two decades ago, is a deadbeat dad and convicted gunslinging drug and gun thug.  The Maryland and Prince George's GOP establishments were silent about that choice, and have remained silent about the hypocrisy of Democrats who support gun control legislation, while supporting a gun criminal for delegate.

The GOP was also silent before that, when recently ousted Delegate Tiffany Alston was convicted of crimes and booted from the General Assembly.

And in the last election, the GOP didn't even bother to run a candidate for delegate or senator in district 24.

At no time in the history of this sorry episode could I find any statement from the Republican party or any current party or elected GOP officials about Democratic misconduct, bad judgment, or hypocrisy.  Nor did the party ever advance, either formally or informally any name of any suggested honest squeaky-clean person, either Republican or Democrat, for the position.

So, just what is important to our GOP folks in Annapolis?  I'm inclined to conclude that trivia trumps rebuilding the party and Republican principles like limited government or protecting our rights.

If we really need a state sandwich, baloney might be more appropriate.

D.C. Russell

More below the fold.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

“60 Minutes’” Steve Kroft and the Embarrassing Interview of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


--Richard E. Vatz

     What great promise this interview had: the President and his reputed life-long nemesis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together in an interview for the first time.

     Unfortunately, there was no serious journalism evident; it was a lovefest, with very little interference from the usually excellent Mr. Kroft.

     There was a hint of what was to come from the segment’s preamble, within which Mr. Kroft sort of apologized for the fact that there were limits on topics due to the fact that the White House permitted only 30 minutes for the broadcast.

     That doesn’t excuse the interviewer’s complete dereliction of inquisitorial responsibility.

     The president speaks of wars that he and Mrs. Clinton have ended and the lack of terrorist attacks.

     There was no probing of the ending of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the prospects of success being quite questionable at best.  The future status of Iraq and Afghanistan?  Maybe there was too little time to ask about that.
     After a fairly lengthy uninterrupted expression of mutual admiration, Mrs. Clinton was to be questioned on Benghazi and the hearings at which she testified now-famously (and aired in this segment): “We have 4 dead Americans…what difference does it make? Was it because of a protest or because 4 people were out for a walk?”

     She also testified that President Obama had said within 24 hours of the attack that it was an “act of terrorism.”

     Mr. Kroft never questioned Mrs. Clinton’s claim that it made no difference if it was an act of terrorism.  Finding out whether it was terrorists or 4 people “out for a walk” can help you stop it in the future. It makes a not inconsequential difference as to whether murders are performed by a terrorist group that is a future, systematic threat, or whether it was committed by an ad hoc crowd of common criminals.

     And no serious journalist should leave unquestioned Mrs. Clinton’s claim that President Obama called the attack an act of terrorism since he made that statement with no reference to the attack in Benghazi.  Moreover, for 2 weeks following the 9/11 attack, the Administration maintained that the attack was in response to an anti-Muslim tape, including the President’s address to the United Nations 14 days later.

     It is no secret among my friends and acquaintances that I am a big admirer of the segments produced on "60 Minutes."  One could say this was an aberration, and indeed it was followed by a truly exquisite interview by Scott Pelley of Travis Tygart, the
United States Anti-Doping Agency head.  Parenthetically, what a wonderfully extensive interview that was, analyzing the evidence that Lance Armstrong’s intimidation and prevarication continues, only slightly abated.

     But the interview of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton together? Let me drag up an expression of years ago: "Gag me with a spoon."

     Mr. Kroft rarely interrupted, save his asking tough questions like “What is your biggest success?" and the weak “Do you blame yourself that you didn’t know?”

     To call this softball is an insult to that relatively violent game.

     Regarding Benghazi, the president and his new best friend’s “ironic” conclusion was to quote Bill Gates that there is always “someone screwing up…it’s a dangerous world.” 

     Inappropriate and tasteless.

    This interview was an embarrassment to a great franchise, “60 Minutes.”

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University and is author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion (Kendall Hunt, 2012, 2013)

More below the fold.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eric Luedtke: Liberal $ellout

Longtime readers are aware of our history with Eric Luedtke, the current member of the Maryland House of Delegates who first showed up on our radar as a whiny blogger and is now leading the charge to restrict your rights to petition for a redress of grievances

During his tenure in the General Assembly however, it turns out that Luedtke's opinions are malleable. That is, if you're willing to show him the money.

Prior to being elected to the General Assembly, Luedtke was like most of Montgomery County's liberal establishment in opposing the expansion of gambling. For example, he filed a bill that would outlaw video game rooms providing "sweepstakes" on the grounds that they would allegedly put slots on every corner.

Luedtke's position, in liberal parlance, began to "evolve" last year when the Maryland State Education Association began to be proponents of the expansion of gambling in order to get their claws into the revenue stream. Luedtke is a member of the MSEA and was of course a teacher. In March Luedtke found the existing bill in the regular session to be "troubling." But by the August Special Session the Metamorphosis of Luedtke was complete. He was now proposing fixes to the bills, instead of opposing them. And when push came to shove Eric Luedtke, who had been a lifelong opponent of the expansion of casino gambling, voted for SB1 both in committee and on the floor.

So, what changed Luedtke's mind? Well, clearly the trappings of power appealed to Luedtke's practical sense. I mean it can't be a coincidence that Howard County Delegate Frank Turner opposed the gambling expansion bill and then was replaced as Chairman of the Finance Resources Subcommittee, the subcommittee that deals with gambling, by Eric Luedtke.

But power of course isn't the only thing that talks. Money talks as well. The biggest individual contribution to Luedtke's campaign in 2012 came in on September 20th in the amount of $1,000. And the contribution came from.....Ocean Downs. An obvious beneficiary to the slots expansion. There were other related post-special session contributions as well, including $250 from Atlantic Bingo Supply and super lobbyist W. Minor Carter.

Take a look at the full campaign finance report to see all of the gory details:

So to recap, Eric Luedtke was against all forms of slot machine gambling until he realized that by voting for it he was opening himself up to the world of more power and larger profit. It's just another example of a leftist getting elected to office and throwing their liberal principles under the bus under the tried and true Maryland Democratic formula: Go to Annapolis, collect political contributions, obey the bosses and get rewarded with a subcommittee chair, and profit......

UPDATE, 1/26, 2:02PM: Luedtke responded via Twitter with the following, and some edits from the original were made. Though you can follow the entire conversation to see I touched a nerve....

More below the fold.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Red Maryland Radio: 1/24/2013

Another big episode of Red Maryland Radio came at you tonight on the Red Maryland Network.

Listen to internet radio with redmaryland on Blog Talk Radio

On this week's show:

All that and more this week. Be sure to listen every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes

More below the fold.

Mike Miller's Gas Tax Proposal Won't Work

Maryland Senate President, Thomas V. Mike Miller is proposing to apply a sales tax to gasoline in an effort to generate revenue for Maryland transportation projects, relieve congestion, and infrastructure maintenance. 

Last November Maryland’s top budget analyst told lawmakers that Maryland has no money to start new projects and it would run out of funds for maintenance by 2018.

According to the Washington Post, Miller’s proposal would apply a 3 percent sales tax to gasoline, on top of the 23.5 cents per gallon state tax and 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax.  Miller’s sales tax plan is estimated to generate $300 million in annual revenue.  Miller’s idea cuts in half, the 6 percent sales tax on gasoline Governor Martin O’Malley proposed last year.

Miller also proposed leasing the new Intercounty Connector to a private firm, and creating special regional authorities with the power to raise property taxes to pay for transit projects in the Washington, DC and Baltimore regions of the state.

Maryland’s transportation funding woes are one of its own making.  Since 2003 the lawmakers have raided the state’s transportation trust fund to the tune of $ 1 billion to cover budget deficits.  Both O’Malley and Miller presided over much of those fund raids and cuts to highway user funds, which the counties use to maintain roads and infrastructure.  The excerpt below of a video from Reason.TV explains how O’Malley took over $861 million—including $771 million in federal stimulus dollars allocated for infrastructure—and used it to pay for other non-transportation spending.

Of course there is no guarantee that O’Malley, or his successor, will not transfer any of the new revenues to cover general spending, which has increased 14 percent since 2007.

Last year, The Maryland Public Policy Institute analyzed various gas tax and transportation revenue plans floated by the governor and others.  The report found that O’Malley’s gasoline sales tax, and other tax and fee proposals would disproportionately affect lower income families, taking a larger share of household income from those making $20,000 to $40,000 in income than families with higher incomes.  The analysis noted O’Malley’s 6 percent sales tax plan to be the most regressive among the various proposals. 

MPPI also debunked the claim made by proponents of gas tax increases that new revenues would go to relieving congestion and maximizing mobility.  The study found that a disproportionate share of transportation money goes to transit, not roads, even though transit ridership has not substantially increased.  In other words, drivers using Maryland’s roads disproportionately subsidize a small minority of transit users. Maryland spends 54 percent of transportation revenue on transit, while only 4 percent of all travel, and 9 percent of all commuting is done on transit.

Figures from The Maryland Public Policy Institute's Rethinking Maryland's Proposed Gas Tax Increase. 

In fact, MPPI notes that, “even with substantial increased in commuter rail (MARC) service and expansion of Metro service in the Washington suburbs, approximately the same share of Marylanders get to work by transit today as they did in 1980.”

Expensive transit projects like the Purple Line in the Washington suburbs, and the Red Line in Baltimore will only increase the funding imbalance while worsening Maryland’s congestion problems. 

Instead of increasing gasoline taxes, MPPI recommended the state pursue public private partnerships—like Miller’s idea for the Intercounty Connector—with private investors much like Virginia has done since the late 1980s.  Virginia’s partnership with American and Australian firms is creating 14 miles of high occupancy toll lanes (HOT).  For a $409 billion investment, Virginia will receive $ 2 billion in new road capacity.  

MPPI also suggests Maryland, like Virginia under Governor Bob McDonnell, undertake an independent comprehensive financial and performance audit of the Maryland Department of Transportation.  MPPI states that any reform process should begin with “acknowledging that the state’s political leadership has failed to adequately address the problem…They should also acknowledge that the whole system might need to be rebuilt from the ground up to better serve the citizens, not the leading legislators, the privileged interest groups that have diverted state transportation funds to other purposes, or unproductive transportation projects implemented for largely political purposes.”

The Maryland Department of Transportation and State Highway Administration were the subject of several embarrassing legislative audits over the last two years, including serious ethics violations.  O’Malley’s former Secretary of Transportation, Beverly Swaim Staley announced her resignation last April, he has not yet found a replacement for the post.  

More below the fold.