Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keep Louisiana in Your thoughts

I join Isaac is saying that we all should be keeping the folks of Louisiana is our thoughts and prayers tonight. While, lord willing, it looks like the doomsday scenario has been avoided, things are not going to be pleasant and will continue to be dangerous.

Brendan Loy over at Pajamas Media has been doing yeoman's work, and is all over the storm, as he will continue to be throughout the lifetime of both Gustav and Hanna.

More below the fold.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Chicago Boss

David Freddoso at NRO has an excellent rebuttal to the sham that is Barack Obama's "new politics." Freddoso recounts Obama's efforts to thwart reform of the Windy City's dirty politics.

Here are some key graphs:

Durbin and Obama together thwarted the efforts of bipartisan reformers who had reached across party lines to clean up their city’s politics. In that election, which I describe in detail in the most recent print edition of National Review, the two senators endorsed, as a “good, progressive Democrat,” a man named Todd Stroger. Both Obama and Durbin knew well that Stroger would continue to use the Cook County payroll as a private fund to support the politically connected — they just didn’t care.

Stroger, a man described by liberal Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn as
“an unimaginative legislative drone” and a “machine hack candidate,” won his race with Durbin and Obama’s help. As expected, he went on to shutter health clinics, lay off hundreds of nurses and dozens of prosecutors, and raise taxes — all in order to pay for the hundreds of unqualified but politically connected patronage workers that he and various politicians had “sponsored” for county jobs. John Stroger, his father and predecessor, had even taken the wise step of putting Tony Rezko’s wife on the county payroll.

Obama notes that his opponent, Senator John McCain, voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time. Obama sides with Mayor Richard M. Daley 100 percent of the time, whether in regards to Stroger’s election or anything else that helps keep Chicago politics dirty. That is the real Barack Obama — not the smooth-talking Greek god who plays a reformer on television, but the man who has never met a Daley-backed Chicago pol he could not support. He doesn’t work against politicians for whom Tony Rezko raises money.

Let me reirerate the key point one more time, "Obama sides with Mayor Richard M. Daley 100 percent of the time."

That is change you can keep.

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BREAKING NEWS: RNC changing plans

from Maryland Politics Today:

First and foremost, the Republican National Committee will be holding a press conference today at 4:00pm Maryland time to announce how they will proceed this week with Hurricane Gustav threatening the city of New Orleans. There are rumors circulating from a scaled back presentation for the entire week to tomorrow night, the first night of the convention, being canceled. We already know that President Bush will not be attending the convention to monitor events on the gulf coast.

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The Cartoon Says It All...

Check out this carton from Rob Tornoe at

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On Isaac's post regarding Governor Palin, it's turning into a jungle over there:

That's your final answer, Brian? Is there any action, any at all, that a Republican can take that makes you say "hold on, WTF, I can't justify this?" Is it all ultimately just a game for you, you pusball? Does nothing matter other than making whatever argument is at hand? Is there finally no limit to your mendacity and your smarminess? At long last, sir, have you no decency whatsoever?
- lefty
Sigh. One of many insults hurled at her, me, and Republicans in general. Their desperation is hysterical. I guess that's what I get for pointing out facts.

The depths Democrats will go to defend their (unqualified) candidate and discriminate against Governor Palin is impressive.


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

At the risk of being called media superstar again…

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of appearing on Listen Up with Farajii Muhammad on WEAA 88.9 FM, Morgan State University’s NPR affiliate. We discussed Obama’s acceptance speech and McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Needless to say, NPR listeners are not a typical Red Maryland readership demographic. However, despite fundamental philosophical and political differences, the conversation with Farajii and the callers reached that level of civil discourse that we strive for in the free exchange of ideas, but don’t often reach. To put it succinctly there was agreeable disagreement. That is good for everyone, no matter your political persuasion.

Brian don’t let it go to your head one correct prediction doesn’t make you Brandon Lang.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Palin Pick: THIS is Change we can actually believe in

Six months ago I wrote

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin brings a lot of things to a potential national ticket. First off, she already has a record as a reformer. She challenged a Governor of her own party in a competitive primary and defeated him easily. She also brings a different demographic to the ticket. While Senator McCain can easily be portrayed as an old Washington insider, scarred from battles both real and political, Governor Palin will give voters something different. A feeling of vibrancy, of renewal. About as far away from being a Washington insider as you can possibly get. She's so popular, both inside and outside of Alaska, that a Draft Palin for VP movement has existed on the internet for over a year....

...The people of Alaska probably don't want to lose Governor Palin yet, given that she has just started her work as their Governor. However, I'm not sure there are many other choices Senator McCain can make that would energy the base as much as the selection of Governor Palin would. I hope that Senator McCain calls her to serve her country, something she would do admirably
So needless to say, I am downright giddy today. So you can consider this and the shoutout Media Superstar Mark Newgent gave me on WBAL today as part of my Victory Lap.

Needless to say, I am surprised, and I shocked, I am ecstatic, and I am extremely enthusiastic about this pick. Sarah Palin is the future of the Republican Party. She's both conservative's conservative, and a reformer. She took on the corrupt Stevens/Young/Murkowski wing of the Alaska State GOP and has succeeded in changing her state and her party for the better. THIS is the type of change that Barack Obama wishes he could bring; Sarah Palin has been there, and she's done that already.

What's best is the fact that it seems like the Palin Pick left Team HopeChangeHope in
complete disarray, with the Obama Camp launching an insulting attack on Governor Palin's experience (never mind the fact that she has more experience than Tim Kaine, an Obama shortlister, plus they skewered small town America to boot) before Obama himself had to try and smooth over the damage prior to the start of his three day campaign trip through several swing states.

The left blogosphere is reacting poorly too. America's biggest hatesite, DailyKos, is laying into Governor Palin, with posters there calling her selection
unserious, a distraction, the worst VP pick ever, and asserting that her husband is the "Shadow Governor." So much for supporting the equality of the sexes fellas.

Obviously, Senator McCain did something right in order to get the Obama folks in a panic and the leftroots in a lather.

The Maryland leftroots have not reacted too poorly to date, though I want to point out something Isaac said:
I think we can also discard the question of whether the candidates have enough experience, since Palin has even less political experience than Barack Obama.
Except it doesn't. Sarah Palin has more experience in government than Barack Obama does. She has no less foreign policy experience than he does. And, unlike Obama, she is the # 2 on the ticket. Obama's glaring lack of experience to be President still shines through. Friends, this is what we have been waiting for. This is what we have wanted to see all along. We have had our ideological issues with Senator McCain, but he has selected as his running mate somebody who most embodies the conservative movement and the movement of reform. I wrote a while back:
the problem with Republican politics in the 21st century is not the ideology of conservatism, but leadership that itself is not conservative. Once we figure out how to fix that, Republicans will reassume the mantle of ascendancy that we lost when Congressional leadership went native a few years back.
THIS is the first step back. Governor Palin is a conservative reformer, and one with results to boot. This is how we are going to restore conservatism in the Republican Party. Senator McCain did us and the nation a great service through her selection.

Barack Obama talks about change, but who wants the failed liberalism of the past thirty years disguised as change? Barack Obama is the posterchild for identity politics and the politics of failure. McCain-Palin is the ticket that will truly be able to reform Washington.

Sarah Palin represents change that we can actually believe in...


More below the fold.

The O'Malley Deficit

There is other news today. Martin O'Malley's deficit was a major story in the Washington Post today:

Maryland could face a budget shortfall of up to $1 billion in its next fiscal year despite a series of tax increases and spending reductions that were intended to largely solve the state's chronic fiscal problems.

The grim assessment, contained in a letter this week to leaders of the General Assembly, blames a sluggish economy that has significantly slowed tax collections and urges "that swift action be taken to mitigate the problem."

"If the current doldrums are seen to persist through fiscal 2010, we could be looking at . . . a problem of up to $1 billion," wrote Warren Deschenaux, the legislature's chief fiscal adviser. "Although time will tell, at this point it sure looks like we are in for a bumpy ride."
Republicans and the conservative bloggers greatly savaged O'Malley's budgetary policy. To raise taxes and simultaneously increase spending is foolhearty, arrogant, and immoral in the best of circumstances. It is damn near criminal in a poor economy, as O'Malley and the General Assembly decided was a good during the Special Session and the 2008 General Assembly session. We have noted time and time again about O'Malley's irresponsibility when it comes to fiscal matters. And time and time again, we have been proved right.

Annapolis Democrats like to pretend that our economy is recession-proof. In April, I wrote:
The state budget should have adequately prepared for increases in Medicaid and unemployment claims when the General Assembly adopted it last week, but I'm sure that pet projects were more important to legislative leadership than this already existent spending.

The argument that Maryland does not spend enough and that we should continue to maintain current spending levels during the O'Malley Recession flies in the face of responsible government....
And we have been proven right time and time again that increased spending to cover pet projects and to make special interest groups happy is more important than being responsible fiscal stewards. They continue to spend it like they stole it.

Clearly, with diminishing tax revenues due to the combination of higher costs of living, the national recession, and the O'Malley tax hikes, the state is now reaping what it has sowed. The O'Malley Recession and how given us the O'Malley Deficit. There are only two ways out of this. The question now is whether O'Malley and his reckless spenders are going to do the right thing (cutting taxes and cutting spending) or the wrong thing (raising even more taxes).

I look forward to showing them the way to their reckoning.


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Interesting Palin Twitter...

In the style of those Chuck Norris jokes...

She's a tough cookie... and her husband is a rugged man's man as well!

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It looks like it may be... Palin!

If indications bear out... it looks like a good conservative choice.

Hat-tip to

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Obama Does Get One Thing Correct

That is correct, Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama is right about one thing. In an economy like this, you don't raise taxes...and we wonder why O'Malley was not a speaker at this years convention. hmmmm........

Thought of the day.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sen. Obama’s Acceptance Speech: Unsupported Promises from an Attractive, Decent, Eloquent but Unaccomplished Nominee

Sen. Obama’s Acceptance Speech

-Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.

About Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, a few observations…

1. It was a lengthy speech. It was a powerful speech. It was a speech that persuasively argued that the country has serious economic and foreign policy problems, and it was a speech that portrayed John McCain – especially as he was seen as a Bush surrogate -- as inadequate to deal with said problems. Most persuasive was Sen. Obama’s depicting the current Republican Administration as exhibiting the Marie Antoinette attitude of “you are on your own” respecting Americans financial problems. What was absent in the speech – and of virtually all Democratic convention speeches the last five days -- was even an attempt to cite any political accomplishments of Barack Obama, save the winning of the Democratic presidential nomination.

2. The speech, as expected, sported calls for change, deploring the “same old politics with the same old players.” No explanation was given pursuant to this screed regarding the major convention speakers of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry and the worshipping of Jimmy Carter. Nor, not-so-incidentally, did Sen. Obama reconcile this disparagement with his choice of Joe Biden as Vice Presidential nominee.

3. Sen. Obama, true to his Democratic lineage, voiced support for a plethora of expensive Democratic programs, the costs of which he dismissed in a sentence or two, including his personal pledge to examine the federal budget. His promise to use tough “diplomacy” to rid Iran of nuclear weapons should frighten all of those who realize that Obaman eloquence has not shown itself to be negotiation-effective. His major error on the “surge” in Iraq? It didn’t come up. What exactly would he do differently in Georgia? In the Mideast? He didn't say.

4. Sen. Obama gave some voice to conservative values, such as hard work and individual responsibility and mercifully dispensed with the Democratic empty but heretofore heavy emphasis on “hope.”

5. Ending his speech with empty platitudes of “We can not turn back;” “we cannot walk alone,” and “we must march into the future,” Sen. Obama ultimately was saying in his acceptance speech the following: “In tough times, invest your trust in an articulate, mesmerizing speaker who has your interests at heart more than John McCain, whose party leadership has squandered it right to lead.”

Will it work to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden as President and Vice President? This writer thinks not, but this writer has been wrong before.

Richard E. Vatz is a professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

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Congratulations Sen. Obama

John McCain is not only a hero, leader, and true public servant - he's also a gentleman:

I'm sure that his opponent will be as gracious... now that someone else came up with the idea (it didn't involve spending taxpayers' money).

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Just watch it (H/T Ed Morrissey)


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Stating the Obvious

Another study proves once again that red-light cameras are dangerous:

Well, according to study after study, rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and therefore, raise insurance premiums. In fact, the only studies that have shown any benefit to red-light cameras were either done by the IIHS…the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or researchers funded by them. How very strange, don’t you think? The most recent study revealing the truth about the cameras was done by researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

“The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don’t work,” said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health. “Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections.”

Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are associated with increases in crashes. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs. The only studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained “major research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were always conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras since insurance companies can profit from red-light cameras by way of higher premiums due to increased crashes and citations.

I have noted before that my own anecdotal evidence confirms this to be true, and it just passes the common sense test.

This is the inherent problem with red-light cameras and speed cameras; they create dangerous situations for drivers, and serve little purpose other than revenue enhancement for states and localities. How many crashes and how many injuries will it take before the General Assembly puts a halt to these cameras?


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Steele for VP?

Andrew Langer, Eastern Shore resident and president of the Institute for Liberty, makes a persuasive argument for John McCain selecting former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as the GOP vice-presidential nominee. The political argument is quite compelling for Pennsylvania and other rust-belt states.

I would argue that the experience argument, that will be used heavily against Obama, would also be used to savage Steele. While I admire Steele, I believe that others would do a better job nationwide in rallying conservatives to the cause while aiding in the electoral map.

Regardless, kudos to Langer for some excellent "out-of-the-box" thinking.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Fears Allayed

The other day I wrote that it would be a shame if we would no longer had the Baltimore Sun editorial board to kick around anymore. Well, today said editorial board provides another chance to lace up my boot.

Senator Obama captured the imagination of millions of Americans last winter by promising to open a new political era by moving beyond the bitter partisan warfare that has defined Washington in recent years. He spoke sensibly about issues ranging from the war in Iraq to the challenge of a sputtering economy.

But more recently, Mr. McCain has closed a large gap in the polls. Some worried Democrats want Mr. Obama to sell himself as a true American, while others want him to offer more detailed policy proposals or pursue a more personal assault on Senator McCain.

Mr. Obama should trust his instincts and remain faithful to his original pledge of change. He can contrast that bright vision with a McCain campaign that thus far has relied on familiar political trench warfare. As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said in Denver this week, the torch has been passed.

Apparently, the Sun editorial writers have succumbed to the siren song of Obama’s post partisan nonsense. Please tell me how speaking in vapid platitudes about change and unity will lead to a “new political era” of bipartisanship? Will electing “The One” magically make all our political differences disappear overnight? Of course not. What the Sun, and others who preach this tripe, are really saying is that we knuckle dragging troglodyte conservatives must give up our beliefs and accede to their wishes, or—gasp—we are divisive; enemies of unity, change, hope, and all good things. If a Republican were preaching this rhetoric in furtherance of conservative policy goals, would the Sun editorial board automatically abandon all its differences with such a candidate? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Lost on the Sun editorial board, is fact that democracy is fundamentally about disagreement i.e., partisanship. You could eliminate all political parties, but our basic philosophical differences would remain. The founders created a system of government (checks and balances and protection of minority rights) specifically designed to diffuse the very type of unity, which Obama claims as his highest value.

“Divisiveness” writes Jonah Goldberg in National Review, “the setting of faction against faction, one branch of government against another, and the sovereignty of the individual above the group — was for the founders the great guarantor of our liberties and the source of civic virtue.”

Obama’s demonization, of those who dare to criticize him, as “divisive” is in reality, nothing more than Obama practicing, in disguise, the very type of politics he claims to abhor. The Sun editorial board, like the rest of his fawning media disciples, is just following suit.

At the risk of being too divisive, the Sun editorial board needs another history lesson if they think that the torch has been passed from JFK to Obama.

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The Bloom Is Off of the O'Malley Rose

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley was once a rising young star among the liberal elite. That no longer appears to be the case.

Accustomed to being treated like left-wing royalty, O'Malley has no real part to play in this week's Democrat National Convention. While Marylanders Barbara Mikulski, Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen and Elijah Cummings all have speaking roles, O'Malley has been relegated to the role of average delegate.

Why? O'Malley justifies the cool breeze because of his early support for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Perhaps. It is more likely because O'Malley is an unpopular Democrat governor in one of the bluest of blue states.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's my money!

On my recent post, Time for refutations, we've gotten into quite the discussion about where our tax dollars go, centering to begin with on how I paid for my schooling and extending into government spending in general.

As you can tell right from the headline, my philosophy is reflected in thinking that the money I make through my labors is best spent by myself and not by someone in the Government Office Building downtown in Salisbury, up in Annapolis, or just down U.S. 50 in Washington, D.C. Yes, I am aware that there is a need for various government services for which I do pay taxes; in fact, that bite generally gets bigger and bigger each year as evidenced by the date Tax Freedom Day is celebrated (this year Maryland residents worked until April 28th to pay their federal and state taxes, one of the latest dates in the country.) Ironically, the stimulus checks and slower economic growth pushed the date backwards for the first time since 2003 - the year the second round of Bush tax cuts took effect. My beef is with the vast scope of government that seems to grow each year by the implementation of more government programs and market interference.

There's much more below the fold.

Last year I wrote a number of posts on what I considered the proper role of government and suggested changes in a number of areas which most interested me, billing it as a 50 year plan. I know that it's going to have to be a multi-generational vision and I'm hoping to live long enough to see it come to fruition. Unlike the perception of conservatism that we're all mean-spirited and just wish to cut government with a meat cleaver, what we're looking for is government to maintain its proper role as dictated by the Constitution.

Let's look at what the two major-party candidates wish to do with taxes. Barack Obama wants to continue with policies that "Final Frontier" would appreciate - taxing the "elite" (read: successful people who work hard at their businesses, large and small, and create the jobs most Americans work at) and redistributing a few crumbs here and there for "working families", teaching them to depend further on the government handing them a check each spring. It's a short leap from depending on government for a check to having them run much more of our lives through regulation and market interference.

On the other hand, John McCain spells out a case for maintaining the tax cuts President Bush managed to pass but which expire in the next couple years. It's not nearly as far as I'd like, but it's a better alternative than watching Tax Freedom Day spiral up the calendar into May or even June.

As I write this, Senator Biden is spelling out what he thinks is "the change we need" under an Obama administration. Unfortunately, that change goes in the wrong direction - it's a change which would increase the intrusion of our federal government in our lives and our wallets.

Real change would set Americans free from the shackles of dealing with the IRS every spring and allow them to keep every dollar in their paycheck by taxing consumption instead of income.

Speaking to another of Final Frontier's subjects, real change would allow true educational choice and end the federal incursion into our children's schools. If states wanted to pick up the baton they would be more than welcome to; in fact some states mandate their presence in education through their respective Constitutions.

Maybe real change does come from thinking about some of those items Final Frontier went into during her comments. Yes, we do need highways for transportation and it's a legitimate government use of tax dollars. But do we need to subsidize certain modes of transport while making others which are more convenient also more expensive with mandates regarding what type of fuel they can use or how efficiently they use it? Shouldn't the person closest to the situation be able to balance the factors in his or her own head and come to an informed decision by him- or herself?

And about that cheese. Why is it that the government is in the cheese business? Farmers are more efficient than ever, and I would think that they'd want to actually grow crops instead of leaving land idle - unfortunately various incentives make it more financially worthwhile for the farmer to leave the land unproductive while they're paid to do so. Obviously the agricultural market is a fickle thing, but I'm sure farmers who complained for years about how hard it was to make it with the low price of corn aren't rushing to give back all those subsidies now that corn is near an all-time high price.

Finally, real change would be to get behind our military and our commander-in-chief and allow them to finish their task as they see fit. Call me a neocon, but I don't think creating an ally in the Middle East and wiping out a large number of prospective people who would do us harm was such a bad thing. Not only that, we're in the process of shifting our focus from Iraq to Afghanistan but we also have to think about the reawakening of that old Russian bear, one who we can't trust any farther than we can throw. Nor should we discount the threat of China. (This issue was one thing that endeared me to Rep. Duncan Hunter as a Presidential candidate.)

Unlike a Department of Education or a government contract to purchase and process "excess" cheese to support the market, defending our nation and its interests is a legitimate task given to the federal government by our Constitution. And we've been projecting power since the days of Jefferson, so spare me the isolationist garbage.

This is why I care so much about where my money goes and I reserve my right to question the decisions made by those who generally have been placed in power against my best judgment, or in many cases without my sayso at all. The scariest part of human nature is that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and decades of relatively unchecked growth in what I like to refer to as "Fedzilla" has placed a lot of power in the hands of an elite unto their own, not "We The People."

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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Joe Biden: the First Democratic Principal Who Really Believes Barack Obama is Ready to Be President

-Richard E. Vatz

Finally, a speech by a major Democratic politician who appears to really believe that Senator Barack Obama is ready to lead.

Following President Bill Clinton’s speech (see below), Joe Biden gave a rousing speech, not just pro-Democratic and not just anti-Senator John McCain, but genuinely -- even if doused with a little sophistry -- pro-Barack Obama.

He made the case that Senator Obama had been shown to be correct – and Sen. McCain incorrect -- on foreign policy decision after foreign policy decision. He oversimplified the latter Senator’s positions and left out the issue of Senator Obama’s manifestly poor judgment on the surge, which may have turned the war around, but his support for Sen. Obama appeared genuine.

Sen. Biden – let’s hope the Sen. McCain chooses a governor for his Vice Presidential pick – spoke of Senator Obama’s superintending of effective senatorial bills, which may have been a stretch, but at least the Delaware Senator appeared to believe it.

More than a little sophistry: Sen. Biden portrayed the Russian invasion of Georgia as one for which Senator Obama as president would hold Russia accountable. What will he do that President Bush hasn’t done, and what would Senator McCain do that would have been irresponsible?

Nevertheless, it was good to hear from an accomplished speaker who authentically believes in the presidential appropriateness of Senator Obama, even if during the primary campaign Sen. Biden unambiguously stated that Senator Obama wasn’t ready.

Richard Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

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Come Again?

As usual, the Annapolis insiders provide us with a startling look into their lack of reality:

The president of the Maryland Senate said yesterday that Sen. Ulysses Currie's work for a regional grocery chain should be investigated by the General Assembly, but Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller dismissed speculation that he would ask the Prince George's County Democrat to step down from his leadership post.

"Senator Currie, in my opinion, is guilty of making a terrible mistake," said Miller, who is attending the Democratic National Convention here. "Knowing him, I believe it was absent-mindedness. Still, he lobbied the government on behalf of a private entity for personal profit."
Say what? Guilty of making a terrible mistake?

What I think Senator Miller meant to say was "guilty of violating ethics laws and unfit to serve in the State Senate."

Sadly, the story gets worse:
Despite his censure of Currie's actions, Miller again dismissed rumors yesterday that he would ask his political ally to step down as head of the Senate committee that oversees the state budget.

"Senator Currie is going to remain chairman ... through all of these difficult budget negotiations," Miller said, referring to the problems that could be caused by anticipated state revenue shortfalls. "And if, in fact, he is charged by the federal government, then we will look at it again."
So we have somebody who has violated ethics laws and engaged in what seems to be bribery and public corruption, and of course had contraband narcotics found at his home, and Miller is going to leave him in charge of the budget? Is this some sort of bizarro universe we find ourselves in?

The ridiculous thing, however, is the fact that Miller legitimately believes that Currie did no lawful wrong and should remain in the Senate. Had Currie been a Republican, however, don'tcha think that Miller would be constructing the gallows?

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Senator Currie broke at least ethics laws, and possibly many many more while serving as a State Senator. He is unfit to serve as a Senator, and certainly unfit to serve in a position of trust and authority as Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Senate leadership needs to wake up and do the right thing.


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What Does the Man from Hope Really Hope?

-Richard E. Vatz

On President Bill Clinton’s convention speech, a few observations, with an assessment of Senator Biden’s to follow:

1. Bill Clinton's speech seemed to satisfy Obamaphiles, but why? He “supports” Sen. Obama and “loves” Sen. Joe Biden. The main thrust was defensive: "Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States." He thinks, he says, that Sen. Obama will be a great commander-in-chief – but why does he think this? We don’t know. The defensiveness may have been because many of the reluctant testimony critiques of Sen. Obama, including Bill Clinton’s, made the argument that he wasn’t ready.

2. Where were Obama’s list of accomplishments? Partly this absence of reference in President Clinton’s speech was due to Obama’s being a U.S. Senator, wherein accomplishments are not reducible to individual accomplishments, unlike Governors. Part of it is due to Barack Obama’s national inexperience. How do you enumerate specific national accomplishments of a man who four years ago was an Illinois State Senator? John McCain, Clinton allowed, was a “good man.” No such reference and venerable honor for the Illinois Senator.

3. Bill Clinton looked physically well; Hillary in the audience with Chelsea looked genuinely happy. The former probably reflects reality; the latter, not so much.

4. Bill Clinton is going to campaign with Barack Obama, said James Carville on CNN – not a bad, but not a decisive move. Al Gore didn’t want President Clinton anywhere near his campaign in 2000. Wonder if in a moment of let-it-all-hang-out curiosity President Clinton will ask Sen. Obama, “Say, Barack, Hillary won 18 million votes; why didn’t you even consider her for Vice President? Just askin’, bud.”

5. Bill Clinton referenced his theme of hope with a time honored reference to Hope, Arkansas. Hope is a liberal god-term; conservatives know that “hard work” is a better one.

It’s hard even for a professional like President Clinton to manufacture factual material wherein it doesn’t exist and even “hope” when he doesn’t authentically experience it.

Richard Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

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Kratovil Shows Real Talent ...

... For Talking Out of Both Sides of Mouth

Yesterday, we showed you the new TV commercial unveiled by Democrat congressional candidate Frank Kratovil. Today a few tidbits were brought to our attention that you may find interesting. Blue Dog Frank promises to:

  • Cut Taxes - Just a few months ago, Frank Kratovil called cutting taxes "irresponsible". At a debate in January Kratovil stated that "we should not even be talking about tax cuts". After the primary, this tax-cutting man of the people said, "It's wrong to talk with a straight face about tax cuts. It's irresponsible". (Star-Democrat, 01/21/2008 and Star-Democrat, 03/21/2008)
  • Cut Wasteful Spending - In a radio interview Kratovil went on the record supporting earmarks. Earmarks are where a great deal of wasteful spending comes from. I wonder where Blue Dog Frank thinks we need a "Bridge to Nowhere"? (WYPR, 06/13/2008)
  • End Our Dependence of Foreign Oil - In the same radio interview, Kratovil states that he is opposed to drilling on the outer continental shelf. To steal a Democrat line, "It's the SUPPLY, stupid!" Without increasing our domestic supply, Americans will continue to face upward spiraling energy costs until we can adopt alternatives. No Frank, drilling won't solve the problem - it will only help as part of a complete solution. Because you, along with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, don't want to allow drilling our economy will suffer. That means that WE will suffer. Thanks Frank.
  • Crack Down on Illegal Immigration - Last January Kratovil stated that he would have supported the "Amnesty" bill that was before Congress last year. Amnesty for 20 million illegals - that's really "cracking down" on them Frank. (Star-Democrat, 01/13/2008)
We can all see that Frank Kratovil is a talented man. The people he aspires to emulate in Washington haven't mastered double speak any better than Kratovil has.

While there is no doubt that the First District would suffer if enough folk were tricked into voting for Kratovil, there is also no doubt that Blue Dog Frank would fit right in with the likes of Nancy Pelosi. Frank is really showing off his PG County roots.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Has Greta Been Hanitized?

I can dream, can't I?

However, Ms. Van Sustern did nail Clinton advisor Terry McCaulliffe, and wouldn't accept his bull and non-answer. It happened after the airing of one of the latest ads from John McCain. In the ad, Hillary's own words from the primary were used. Hillary said McCain had leadership and questioned the lack of experience of Obama. Greta basically questioned if Ms. Clinton was telling the truth then, or now (when she is claiming that she is supporting Barack). Terry parroted the same-old/same-old talking points and did not answer the question. Greta did not let him off easily.

Next, Greta interviewed a Clinton fundraiser who has not decided yet to vote for Obama. Later Greta would even have another guest on with bad news for Barack. This guest finally just got access from the University of Illinois to the documents about weather underground radical Richard Ayers and his relationship to Obama. Access was just reluctantly granted to these documents, but they evidently show that Ayers and Obama attended some meetings together. More digging into the meat of these documents is needed, so be on the lookout for it.

Crossposted on Red Maryland & Maryland Chesapeake Blog.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

''Watch what we do, not what we say:” How Can a Powerful and Moving Speech not Move Discerning Listeners?

Richard E. Vatz

Attorney General John Mitchell’s famous dictum respecting the Nixon Administration’s intentions regarding desegregation came to mind during Hillary Clinton’s stemwinder at the Democratic National Convention last night: “Watch what we do, not what we say.” This was a speech that inarguably supported Barack Obama without qualification. That was the great question Democrats had: would Hillary try to undermine Barack Obama’s candidacy by damning him with faint praise. She did not, but the peculiarity of the moment lingers on.

It was a speech which supported party unity with no winks to indicate that she really felt otherwise. It was a speech which referenced the lineage of women’s political significance. It was a speech filled with magnanimous praise for, again, Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle, but also for Joe Biden, the man who arguably took Hillary’s place as runner-up with relatively little Democratic support in the primaries. There were strong policy attacks on her “friend” John McCain and the Republicans. The speech was literate; it was powerful; and it had a perceptible if virtually unnoticed thud with the unspoken culmination of Hillary’s campaign – NO PLACE ON THE TICKET.

Yes, for all of the Hillary-articulated congratulations for women’s political advancement, the denouement was a couple of nights of her family’s dominating the convention speeches.

After cataloguing her accomplishments as the first serious woman candidate, the predicate is – a politics-as-usual male was chosen as Vice Presidential candidate,

At the end of the day, how do you give a speech celebrating a woman’s attainment of 18 million votes and rationalize the fact that it earned her no place on the presidential ticket, not even any vetting for the Vice Presidential position?

The Clintons and their supporters know what to say, but it cannot be lost on them what Barack Obama and the Democratic Party did.

Dr. Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

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Let the claims and counterclaims begin

It’s round two of the commercial war. In the blue corner, it’s Democrat Frank Kratovil who’s promising to “Stand Up” for the First District, while already standing in the red corner is State Senator Andy Harris, who’s “Working for Families”.

(G.A. Harrison already posted the Kratovil video below, the Harris spot can be found here.)

The Harris ad is relatively simple and hammers succinctly on three main themes:

  • Families need help with health care, and as a physician Andy has unique insights on a solution.
  • He’ll work for solutions to our energy crisis, which include drilling for oil.
  • As it is, Congress is not accountable nor are they spending our tax dollars wisely.

I know that certain buzzwords help to win elections and it’s a 30 second commercial, but I’m leery of any federal government solution to the healthcare issue except for them getting out of it. Obviously Andy has a little different perspective on the issue than his opponent, the question is who would benefit the most? Otherwise, he maintains the positions which have broad support without getting overly specific (of course in 30 seconds you really can’t anyhow.)

Frank Kratovil is also running against Congress in his commercial, while vowing to “stand up for those who work hard and play by the rules.” Other claims he makes are:

  • To end dependence on foreign oil, where he cuts to a video of an Arab sheikh.
  • To “cut taxes and wasteful spending”.
  • He’ll crack down on illegal immigration.
  • To protect the Bay.

Knowing that Frank has sold out to the environmental lobby (which is why he takes potshots at Andy Harris’s pro-common sense voting record on the subject) it’s doubtful that he’ll advocate the proper, market-based solution to the energy issue - but I’ve discussed this before. We also know that the one issue where either candidate would likely be a good fit is illegal immigration, with a lot depending on how much either wants to buck their current party standardbearer.

But the intriguing part is Frank Kratovil actually saying he’ll ”cut taxes.” Of course, the billion-dollar question is if he would retain the Bush tax cuts or make the taxation system even more “progressive” and attempt to soak the rich or other achievers like oil companies. The Democrats seem to have a way of wishing to cut taxes for those who already don’t pay them, in essence giving them a government handout.

And speaking of Democrats, Kratovil goes out of his way to claim independence. He is running so far away from the Democrat label that those inside the Beltway are known for that they’re going to have to fish him out of the Pacific before this is all said and done. This is totally unlike the 2006 election, where the Democrat was fairly liberal and made no bones about it. In 2008 we have a Democrat who is attempting to be just a little less conservative than the Republican, and using some of the more conservative buzzwords in his commercials.

So let’s look at what the two had in common.

  • Both Harris and Kratovil are trying to establish an anti-Beltway, anti-Congress, fiscally conservative campaign, essentially vowing to go in and not be a typical DC politician.
  • Both Andy and Frank want to address high gas prices, but they have differing solutions.

Contrasting themselves, Harris uses his background in the medical field to talk about health care, while Kratovil uses his legal practice as expertise on illegal immigration and implies he’s the only environmental candidate.

It all comes down to who is more believable; in this case you probably have a wash. I do commend both candidates for not going negative but I suspect that tune will change after Labor Day.

In checking out the Harris website, I also noticed that he’s taken off the links to various area bloggers. While it’s a little disappointing to me because I was one of those linked, I can understand that the fickle nature of the blogosphere and having our local lightning rod for criticism and controversy featured among the local bloggers makes it difficult to keep a good bloglist going. So I think it’s for the best; besides, I didn’t really get a lot of traffic from there anyway.

In any case, so ends round 2 of the commercial wars. All I have to say is that I can’t wait for the candidate forums, especially if the other two candidates (yes, there are two others on the ballot) get involved.

Crossposted (with video) on monoblogue.

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You Gotta Wonder

Maybe this explains why the left wing doesn't get economics. FSP'er Scott Goldberg said this:

In order to help John McCain find out exactly how many houses he actually owns, I have decided to stop drinking Budweiser beer. Hopefully, his wife's income will slow down long enough to get an accurate count before they buy a few more places.
Yeah....well, Hensley & Co. distributes Anheuser-Busch products in Arizona. The decision for Maryland's left wing to stop drinking Budweiser will have zero economic impact on the McCains. In fact, Goldberg's protest does what Maryland liberals love to do best: take money from local businesses, specifically one of the ten Anheuser-Busch wholesalers who distribute their products here in Maryland.

Goldberg's comment is as silly as four years ago when some Republicans stopped buying Heinz ketchup. I'm not going to stop buying a quality product just because somebody I don't like is making money off it (though by no means am I calling Budweiser a quality product).


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Kratovil Promises ...

... But Could He Deliver?

Democrat congressional candidate Frank Kratovil launched his latest TV commercial last night. It's chock full of promises. The only question is, could Blue Dog Frank deliver IF he were elected?

End our dependence on foreign oil? How Frank? You're opposed to offshore drilling, along with your masters - Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Do you think that wind and solar are the answers? They're only part of a solution.

You'll crack down on illegal immigration? The folks who run the Democrat caucus want illegals to be able to vote. They'll never allow a stop to illegal immigration. It's a key part of the Democrat power strategy, along with allowing felons to vote.

Cut taxes? On who Frank? Unless you qualify for welfare, your party thinks you're one of the "rich" and should be taxed into the stone age.

Cut wasteful spending? Sure you would. Admittedly the GOP has a bad record on this issue, but not as bad as the Democrats. Your party rode into power in 2007 promising to do those same things. What have they done? Nada.

I don't know how big the buy on this commercial is Frank, but keep it up. Buy some more. Nobody's going to believe you. That will mean you'll have even less to spend on something useful.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Obama the heir to JFK? Not so much.

Watching the Democratic National Convention last night with its homage to Ted Kennedy and the concomitant comparisons, by the media between Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, I had to ask myself, what history are these people reading.

Ted Kennedy specifically used the “passing the torch” metaphor to compare Obama to his slain brother. That mushy pablum works as fodder for whooping up the fervor of a convention floor full of partisans hoping for change and unifying in the hope of being one of the one’s we’ve been waiting for. The reality however, is that the true legacy of John F. Kennedy and what Barack Obama actually stands for could not be farther apart.

John F. Kennedy was an old school Democrat, a tax cutter and liberal cold warrior. He represents the proud and honorable past of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is the heir to the radical sixties and the movement that sought to destroy the liberal consensus, which Kennedy personified. Think Obama’s Chicago associate and Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and his ties to ACORN.

The problem is that too many people fall for the myth of Camelot, a term contrived after Kennedy’s death, by a sycophantic journalist. By the time the mythmaking machine was running full bore, it had transformed Kennedy into a martyred peacenik cut down by hate before he could redeem this fallen nation.

Oliver Stone took the mythmaking to extreme absurdity in JFK by arguing the CIA, corporations, the mafia, and the Maytag Repairman assassinated him because he wanted to pull out of Vietnam.

The fact of the matter is that to the day he died, Kennedy was fully committed to the fight in Vietnam. This policy fit squarely in line with his staunch anti-communism. Kennedy was one of the loudest voices screaming, “Who lost China” at the Truman administration. Both he and his father were political allies of Joseph McCarthy, Robert Kennedy even served as counsel to McCarthy’s senate sub-committee, and Kennedy was far more hawkish than Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy went eyeball-to-eyeball with Khrushchev over Berlin, authorized the Bay of Pigs, and was willing to invade Cuba a second time to remove Soviet nuclear missiles from the island.

Although he died before his Congress passed his proposed tax cuts, he saw the cuts as a means to “to cut the fetters which hold back private spending,” and “reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative.” Kennedy’s tax cuts fueled one of the largest economic expansions in U.S. history.

Obama wants to raise taxes and seeks a less hawkish foreign policy. We can argue the merits or demerits of Obama’s policies. If you are speaking in myths and fables then yes JFK and Obama align like the stars in their courses. However, once you get into the substantive weeds, to say that Obama is direct heir to John Kennedy is an argument built on quicksand.

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First Democratic Convention Night Ups and Downs – Some Rhetorical Criticism

First Democratic Convention Night Ups and Downs – Some Rhetorical Criticism

– Richard E. Vatz

About the Convention rhetoric – sometimes called appearances and speeches – of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, some thoughts from a rhetorician:

1. James Carville, a reluctant negative source if ever there was one, found the first few hours deadly dull, lacking an iteration of why it’s so important for the Democrats to take the White House. This writer likes both Carville and his wife Mary Matalin, as they often give more than the party line.

2. Jimmy Carter, fresh from building hints of anti-Semitism and the worst Democratic presidential foreign policy memory of the last, say, 100 years, was mercifully kept from speaking live to the convention and was relegated instead to taped remarks, lest he articulate or even remind Jewish voters of some of his anti-Israel philosophy from his work, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.”

3. Terminally ill Senator Ted Kennedy, never a substantive favorite of this writer, was brilliant. He is -- elocution-wise – perhaps the finest well-known political speaker in America, as was his assassinated presidential brother, John F. Kennedy, before him. Sen. Kennedy's convention speech, sporting echoes of that brother's inaugural address, “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” (EMK: “And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans”) and referencing his 1980 powerful convention speech mantra, “The dream lives on,” was truly a moving moment for all Americans. Many of us can never forget his horrible, possibly felonious, behavior at Chappaquiddick, leading to the death of an innocent woman, but the moment was, indeed as The Washington Post headline said, electrifying.

4. Michelle Obama was poignant, touching, and she tried to be redemptive. No one can doubt her genuine love and admiration for her husband and presidential nominee, Barack Obama. Her encomiums to her family and personal work ethic seemed to this listener to be sincere, heartfelt and moving. Her protest of “That is why I love this country,” however, as an answer to her early campaign remark, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country?” Sorry, it sounded contrived. Still and all, a good convention speech.

As one of the few who has believed since 2007 that this will be a Republican presidential year, there were no major surprises, except possibly for the tepid case against John McCain made in the first two evening hours of the convention.

Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.Towson Distinguished Professor
Professor, MCOM/COMM; University Senate; Towson University
Thomas Szasz Civil Liberties Award
Associate Psychology Editor, USA Today Magazine;
Editor, Current Psychology
(410) 704-3107

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My Take On The Kennedy Appearance

I debated whether I should comment on last night's appearance of Ted Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention. While I have zero respect for the senior Senator from Massachusetts, I figured it might be in the best taste to leave him alone, considering his ailing health. Then, after thinking about it, I realized that Kennedy voluntarily put himself out there in a visible light. Therefore, he's fair game as far as I am concerned.

As a registered democrat, I cannot understand the publics infatuation with the Kennedy family. In particular, I fail to comprehend the respect many have for a Edward (Ted) Kennedy. After all, he's the same drunken creature that left a woman to die after he wrecked his car on a Chappaquiddick Island bridge back in 1969. The people of Massachusetts should be ashamed they continue to elect such a despicable person. In turn, the democrats should be embarrassed by the shameless way they allow this guy to become an acceptable face of the party. What kind of message does that send to swing voters?

Barack Obama continues to campaign on a message of change. Then, two days after Obama tapped career politician Joe Biden, the democrats rolled out their most controversial character in Ted Kennedy. It's hard to envision that democrats can bring about needed reform when they endorse the biggest part of problem.

Ted Kennedy will not mend any political fences. Instead, he'll actually alienate independent minded voters. These same people will decide whether Barack Obama or John McCain become our next president. Personally, I am remain undecided about who I'll support in November. My track record says I tend to vote republican for the office of President. Certainly, these last two days haven't swayed me to break that trend.


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Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank You Senator ("Uncle Teddy") Kennedy...

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Wither the Baltimore Sun? Let's Hope Not

John Barry at the Baltimore City Paper goes behind the scenes at the shriveling Baltimore Sun newsroom. It’s a great read. Barry accesses former Sun reporters such as Tom Pelton and my old neighbor Doug Donovan, to pierce the Sun’s veil of silence over the recent round of buyouts and layoffs.

In the past, the plucky alternative publication has scooped the Sun, but this time the City Paper airs some of the Sun’s dirty laundry. Here’s a snippet:

When he got to Baltimore, he muses, there were three people covering City Hall: "It was me, Laura Vozzella, and Tom Pelton. Eventually Laura left the beat. It was just me and Tom. Then Tom left. Lynn Anderson just left." He pauses again. "Well, Jon Fritze is a great reporter. If he stays, I'm comfortable that she'll [Mayor Dixon] be watched." A few days after Donovan says this, Fritze announces that he's leaving for a job at USA Today.
Donovan doesn't seem angry or bitter, just a little bemused at the fact that Tribune's corporate officers are justifying cutbacks in part by saying that journalism needs to become more local. In a June 5 memo to Tribune employees, Zell and Tribune chief operating officer Randy Michaels say that after reviewing dozens of readers' surveys, they'd found that customers want "unbiased, honest journalism" and "LOCAL consumer and community news." So why, Donovan wonders, are they squeezing out people like him?
"I left magazines to come back to newspapers and do the type of journalism that
makes more of an impact locally," he says. "And now, I'm being told that that type of journalism isn't what people want. When there's big news breaking, people pick up the paper, because they want to know about serious issues. I don't know how you can fill a newspaper with . . . whatever it is Sam Zell thinks that people want."

I don’t mind engaging in a little schadenfreude at the Sun’s travails. To a small extent the comeuppance is richly deserved given the O’Malley lick spittles, who sit on its editorial board, and its former chief environmental reporter blurring the line between advocacy and journalism. However, I think we need to heed Debra Saunders’ advice and be wary of cheerleading for the demise of main stream newspapers.

Yes, the blogosphere has pushed mainstream media and kept them honest. We here at Red Maryland, along with our colleague Martin Watcher have scored our own little coups, scooping local media outlets and breaking stories other reporters either overlooked or deliberately ignored. However, I don’t think blogs can or should completely replace newspapers or other traditional news outlets. Blogs part of the game now. More and more people are getting their news an opinion from blogs. However, a fair bit of what we do, especially here at Red Maryland, is based on traditional journalism. Sure we can add badly missing context and balance to an article with commentary, or even point out omitted facts, but the point is that we do feed to some extent off of traditional reporting.

In some cases, I don’t mind doing the leg work to dig up information, but like a lot of us in the blogosphere, I have a day job, I don’t get paid to do this nor do I have the financial resources for all the FOIA requests I’d love to submit.

Furthermore, imagine no more Kool-Aid drenched Sun editorials to skewer or inane Dan Rodricks’ columns for Brian to demolish. The Sun has its issues, but it would be a shame not to have it to kick around anymore.

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MD GOP - It's Time for the Revolution

I know the timing could be better, but Maryland Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley's announcement that he will step down means that it's time for grassroots Republicans to demand change. If we ever want to see Maryland become a true two party state, the GOP must begin to offer true alternatives. Democrat-light will simply not do!

Admittedly, I haven't been back in Maryland long enough to claim that I know who the right picks are for Minority Leader and Whip. I do know that this current crop reminds me more of late '70's Republicans than the late '80's version. Maryland needs leaders to paint bold pictures. Maryland needs bold initiatives. Maryland needs legislators who are willing to stand on principle, rather than worry about "getting their slice of the pie".

As someone who was involved in helping to move Virginia from a one party state to a Republican majority, I can assure you that it can be done! It won't happen overnight. It will take a lot of work. It will take the willingness of many people to put principle and state before themselves and personal political power. However, it can be done.

Why should the people of Maryland even consider voting for a Republican if all they are being offered is Democrat-light?

  • We're going to spend, but we'll spend just a little less.
  • We're going to tax you, but not quite as much as the Democrats.
  • We're still going to over-regulate you, but just not as much.

It's time to say, "We stand for a better Maryland!" The problem is that we need people who are willing to take their case to the people. Make the Democrats own the mess which they've created. Trust me, it will be tough. The Dems became downright nasty in the last few years leading up to 1992. It wasn't quite as bad in the Virginia legislature; but we faced a battle within our own party which continues up to today.

To accomplish this we need leaders in Annapolis and boots on the ground at home. That will be the subject of the second part of my personal call for the REVOLUTION.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Jimmy Carter Redux ...

... Can America afford Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Frank Kratovil?

Driving into the office this morning I heard an interview with House Speaker Nancy "Little Tommy" Pelosi. In her closing remarks she stated that she looked forward to the Democrats having a larger majority in January so that she could "end the war in Iraq and begin fixing the economy".

As for ending the war in Iraq, that is a farce. There is little that Congress can do short of pulling funding. The Democrats simply don't posses the stones for a move like that.

What concerns me most is her desire to "fix" the economy. History has shown us that government, while able to inflict great damage, can do little to "fix" an economy. The only forms of government action which have proven successful are those that simply undo past mistakes. Things like reducing spending, lowering taxes, reducing the regulatory burden on the nation's citizens and employers.

Sure, we all know that Dems like Obama, Biden, and Pelosi all think that the FDR administrations was proof that massive deficit spending will cure all ills. Unfortunately, history has since taught us that it was World War II, and not the welfare state, which dragged the US out of the Great Depression. All of those juicy government programs simply provided temporary, and local, fixes to problems.

Consequently, what is expected to be mild to average recession in 2009 could turn into a severe downturn if Obama, Biden and Pelosi have their collective way. While it is certainly not a slam dunk that we'll see an Obama-Biden ticket elected, should we risk putting an extra vote for socialism in Congress - like Frank Kratovil?

I know, Blue Dog Frank claims that he's INDEPENDENT. Unfortunately, INDEPENDENT translates from the "Democrat Speak" into - "I may vote in the best interests of my district UNTIL Speaker Pelosi tells me otherwise."

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lines of succession, part 2

Yesterday I speculated about some of the possible scenarios across the Mason-Dixon Line from me in Delaware should Sen. Joe Biden be elevated to the office of Vice-President. In going through some of my older e-mail I found that the same musical chairs game is already being played should State Senator Andy Harris win election this November and become one of the freshman class of 2008 in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Three candidates have made it known that they'd like the free pass to the Senate chamber that would come should Harris win. One of them, J.B. Jennings, already serves as a District 7 Delegate, while another is a former Delegate, Al Redmer. The third man in the unofficial race is Baltimore County restaurant owner Sergio Vitale, who held a recent fundraiser in West Ocean City that raised both $28,000 and probably the eyebrows of his two prospective opponents. (All three links are from the PolitickerMD website and writer Danny Reiter.)

Since Article 3 of the Maryland Constitution places the decision in the hands of each county's Republican Central Committee, both counties involved would have to come to some sort of an agreement on a candidate - otherwise, Governor O'Malley will get to select whichever Republican he wants to serve, and it's doubtful he'd pick anything close to the conservative which Andy Harris is.

Certainly none of the three aspirants are completely in the mold of Harris, but Jennings currently ranks #8 among all House members on my monoblogue Accountability Project for this term. While Redmer was a Delegate for 12 years - serving a portion of that time as Minority Leader - his term in office concluded prior to the Maryland Accountability rankings so there's no clear indication of how he'd succeed Harris as far as voting pattern goes. Meanwhile, comments on the post announcing Vitale's fundraiser noted that Vitale has also given money to Democrats as well as Republicans, but no context was provided for the contributions.

In any case, Harris's successor would have two sessions of the General Assembly to prove his (or her, if a woman throws her hat into the ring) mettle prior to facing voters in 2010. Naturally the Democrats would see this as a vulnerable seat and throw plenty of resources into the fight, which bolsters Vitale's case based on fundraising prowess. But the power of incumbency would benefit both Jennings' and Redmer's chances of future success.

Obviously if Jennings succeeds in replacing Harris, the two other officeseekers could revive their efforts to securing the District 7 Delegate seat. This and many other "what if?" scenarios based on who wins elections and who succeeds those who vacate their previous office drive the parlor game to which modern-day politics has devolved.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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The Weakness of the Biden Pick

The continued, ongoing feigned enthusiasm that the FSP crowd is pretending to have for the selection of Joe Biden as The One's running mate notwithstanding, Obama's selection of Biden makes sense for several reasons.

  1. The decision was not political: like the selection of Dick Cheney in 2000, Joe Biden does not assist with any electoral math (unless you count his connection with Scranton, a city he has not lived in for 53 years, as mattering, which I do not). Obama was going to win Delaware anyway, and Joe Biden is not going to bring any new state to the ticket.

  2. Foreign Policy: If there is any one area that Barack Obama has shown himself to be clueless above all other areas it's in foreign policy. Like him or not, Biden has an extensive and noted background in this area. And even from the Republican perspective, it's not all bad.

  3. Energy: Joe Biden, for all his faults, takes Amtrak too and from Wilmington every day, as you might of heard in the press the last few days. What better way to differentiate the ticket from the Republicans by highlighting somebody who uses (for this country) alternative transportation?
Of course, that's about all the positives you can accentuate for Obama in this regard. Now, how does the Biden selection accentuate the fact that Obama's campaign is in trouble?
  1. This is not HopeChangeHope: Joe Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. Barack Obama was 11. It's usually a good idea to select a running mate who does not contradict the major theme of your campaign merely by his selection. The only Senators with more seniority are Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Daniel Inouye, and Ted Stevens; that's not exactly a distinguished list of Senators.

    Think about this as far as change goes. Have at this quote:
    So now Biden is Obama's pick, and he's clearly not a reinforcing one. If Obama's core message is "change" and "judgment" based on his prescience on the Iraq War vote, well then, Biden is the exact opposite of those things. And the media has reacted accordingly.
    Who said that? Kos.

  2. War, War what is it good for?...or not: Joe Biden voted for the war. Barack Obama didn't. Since Obama got where he is today predicated a lot on the fact that he wasn't at the pay grade to vote on things like war back in 2002, and despite the fact that Obama admitted that Bush's surge plan worked, it seems a little curious to pick a running mate who you stadfastly disagreed with.

  3. Who's leading the ticket?: Yesterday Barack Obama made a gaffe on the stump (what's new?) and introduced Biden as "The Next President of..." before correcting himself. Of course, that's the thing a lot of people see. Democrats like to kvetch that Dick Cheney has been pulling the strings of this White House; couldn't their fears come true again with Biden, the ultimate insider, running with Obama? Because Biden has literally been a major player in D.C. since Obama was in middle school.

  4. Gaffe, Gaffe, Gaffe: Biden has a tendency to shoot his mouth off at times which he really should keep it shut. And hey, that's a sometimes admirable thing and a way to actually get to the truth of the matter, but Biden makes it an artform. Of course, if you a Barack Obama, you're probably hoping and praying to keep Biden away from a live mic for the next 72 days because you know that he is going to spout off about something.

  5. The Senator from MBNA is Recognized: While Obama has his ties to a convict and a terrorist, there was a reason that Biden was known as the Senator from MBNA. He often put the credit card company first and foremost in his mind during his service as a U.S. Senator. And true, MBNA was a large employer for his home state of Delaware (after fleeing high taxes in Maryland, incidentally) Biden went above and beyond for this big business. Given the "credit crunch" here in the U.S., can Obama afford someone with such close ties to big credit?

  6. Truthiness: The use of accurate facts and original material has never exactly been Biden's strong suit, a point that Dan Spencer at RedState strongly reinforced today.
The moral of the story is this. Obama selected Biden from a position of weakness, not a position of strength. Biden was picked to overcome Obama's noticeable shortcomings in experience and knowledge. And Biden was selected in an effort to stop the bleeding. Somebody in Obama's campaign thinks that the selection of Biden is going to shore up concerns with Obama's inexperience, and that the selection is going to reinforce the ticket's foreign policy credentials. Problem is, the selection only accentuates the weaknesses the American people already knows Barack Obama has.

And let's face it; running mate selections made from a position of weakness never really work.
  • Gore picked Lieberman because he was the polar opposite of Bill Clinton;
  • Mondale picked Ferraro because of the movement to select a female running mate, and because he needed to try something to save off Reagan.
  • Reagan picked Schweiker at the 1976 Republican National Convention in an effort to balance the ticket, and it cost him the nomination.
  • McGovern picked Eagleton in 1972 because Ted Kennedy said no, and because he needed somebody to run with him.
Will the Biden selection rank up there? Probably not? But it makes it clear that the Obama campaign is on the run.

Let's hope that Senator McCain makes a wiser selection...


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Hillary: Biden' Her Time?

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Rodricks a waste of printable space

Dan Rodricks, as usual, proved he's not that smart today with his column regarding Michael Phelps and the drinking age.

Rodricks tries to make the argument that because Michael Phelps was arrested for drunk driving at 19, clearly it proves that the drinking age should not be lowered from 21 to 18.

That's his entire argument. As illogical as it is. Never mind the fact that drunk driving is a crime separate from that of underage drinking. Never mind the fact that he makes no other connection between Phelps' arrest and the drinking age. Rodricks just wants the reader to make some sort of unspoken, innate connection between drunk driving and lowering the drinking age.

It is reasonable to believe that the drinking age should remain 21. Rodricks argument, however, is somewhere between ridiculous and nonexistent.

Maybe if the Sun really wanted to attract readers, they would stop redesigning the paper every six months and instead replace columnists like Rodricks with reasonably talented, reasonably intelligent writers who can defend their positions in a logical, reasonable manner. Because let's face it, printing a Rodricks column is little more than a waste of paper and ink.


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden Not-So-Bad a Pick Governmentally; Not-so-good a Pick Politically

Sen. Obama Picks Sen. Biden

Richard E. Vatz

The choice of the vice-presidential nominee in national elections is critical, notwithstanding the large number if experts who naïvely claim that it matters little or not at all who is nominated. This latter perception is fed by those who believe that if polls don’t pick up an effect, it doesn’t exist. This is simply incorrect. People process information about a ticket, and whether they know it or not, such information significantly affects their presidential choice.

On Barack Obama’s Democratic Vice-Presidential nomination choice of Sen. Joe Biden, a few initial thoughts:

1. Sen. Biden fulfills some significant gaps in a ticket headed by a man who less than 4 years ago was a member of the Illinois State Senate.

2. Sen. Biden is intelligent and knowledgeable on matters of foreign policy and sports significant experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

3. Politically, he could be a help in Obama’s securing of Pennsylvania wherein Sen. Biden was born.

4. Sen. Biden’s aborted presidential campaign 20 years ago was torpedoed by a number of problems, not insignificantly including his plagiarizing parts of a speech by Britain’s Labour Party’s Neil Kinnock and subsequent plagiarizing at Syracuse Law School. In addition he significantly exaggerated other academic accomplishments.
The significance of these 20 year-old revelations is that
when a person is caught substantially misrepresenting
his accomplishments, there are usually many, many more
misrepresentations that can and will be caught in the
internet era. Biden never denied the facts of such
discoveries, only their significance.

5. A lot of people are put off by Biden’s loquaciousness. I think this will hurt him with no one who otherwise finds him acceptable. Bill Clinton’s 1988 speech at the Democratic National Convention may have been the most boring, extended speech of the last 50 years by a major figure. I don’t recall how he did in his election attempt in 1992.

6. The Democratic ticket comprises two senators -- not good for administrative experience or electoral success.

7. I predicted in an earlier post that the Hobson’s choice regarding Hillary Clinton would likely lose this election for Obama – choose Hillary and lose those who find her off-putting, or ignore her and lose the intensity of a significant minority of those who voted for her.

All in all, Sen. Biden is a generally acceptable choice for governing the country; there are certainly worse who were in the running. The view here is that the Hippocratic oath for Vice Presidential nominees – first, do no harm -- may well have been violated in the political dimension.

Prediction here: if McCain chooses Mitt Romney, it’s a Republican victory for president in 2008.

Dr. Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Hope? Change? Nope

If what ABC is reporting is true (H/T Erick Erickson), and that Joe Biden is now receiving Secret Service protection, can somebody explain how somebody who has been a United States Senator for 36 years signify the "HopeChangeHope" that Obama allegedly represents?

Class? Class? Bueller?

He doesn't. It's just another realization for a lot of people that Obama is just like any other politician, just in a slightly more scandalized format...


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Ken-FM; playing what I like!

And now my rendition of, I want to play with the other kids too.

There has been a lot of talk between Greg Kline and Brian Griffiths about Top 10 music lists, so I figure I would contribute my Top it stands. This changes a lot but here are my 10 favorite song right now and in no particular order. This is the stuff that I am digging right now:

1. "The Long and Winding Road (Naked Version)" by The Beatles.

2. "Dance The Night Away" by Van Halen
- for the record, I side with Roth and Van Halen started slipping after "5150"

3. "Mama Said Knock You Out (Unplugged)" by LL Cool J

4. "Low Rider" by War

5. "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" by Cherelle
-Robert Palmer did a cover of this song two years later

6. "Mile High" by The Yellowjackets
- This is currently being used as the theme music for radio whipping boy Dan Rodricks and
clearly had no effect on my decision to buy the track from Napster.

7. "Something Everyday" by Swing Out Sister

8. "Guerrilla Radio" by Rage Against The Machine

9. "What A Fool Believes" by The Doobie Brothers

10. "Rosa Parks" by Outkast

Knowing good ol' Brian, he will mock nos. 6 and 7 in particular because he does not like smooth jazz. Greg...I am hoping there is hope for you. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as my musical tastes.


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