Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Baiting, Switching

Let's end the year on a real down note, with the idea from Oregon that Big Brother is going to ride with you (H/T Instapundit):

A year ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced it had demonstrated that a new way to pay for roads — via a mileage tax and satellite technology — could work.

Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he’d like the legislature to take the next step.

As part of a transportation-related bill he has filed for the 2009 legislative session, the governor says he plans to recommend “a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation.”

What that means is explained on the governor’s website:

“As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.”

According to the policies he has outlined online, Kulongoski proposes to continue the work of the special task force that came up with and tested the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax.

The governor wants the task force “to partner with auto manufacturers to refine technology that would enable Oregonians to pay for the transportation system based on how many miles they drive.”

The online outline adds: “The governor is committed to ensuring that rural Oregon is not adversely affected and that privacy concerns are addressed.”
There are just a multitude of completely ludicrous things.

First, politicians and government leaders have been trying for lord knows how long to encourage people to make the switch to more fuel efficient cars. One of those ways was through tax breaks and other perks (you may remember that Virginia once allowed you to get a special plate for your hybrid, for example, that allowed you to drive in the HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers you had). The idea was to promote fuel efficiency. At the same time of course, that meant states were decreasing the amount of revenue available to them through the collection of gas taxes; the law of diminishing returns at force once again.

So now that the social engineering aspect of this is done, let's stick it to these people by implementing a new tax based on usage instead of the current model. (to say nothing of the combined proposed 2-cent increase in gas taxes for non-GPS equipped cars). Your typical government bait and switch program.

Of course, that's not the only issue with Kulongoski's cockamamie idea:
  • The privacy aspects alone are, of course, disturbing. Under this scenario, the government could track to the movements of any car registered to the state of Oregon (or any other locality that participated in such a scheme). The report indicates that the "concept requires not transmission of vehicle travel locations" but says nothing about whether or not that capability exists, or if and how other agencies of government would be able to use this information (i.e. the police).
  • The plan seems dependent on "partnering with auto manufacturers" to develop this technology. Last time I checked, the auto manufacturers were getting bailouts just to keep the lights on. That doesn't really give them enough time to save the state of Oregon from itself.
  • And finally, aren't there other sources of revenue that Oregon could tap to overcome the supposed shortfall in transportation funding? Couldn't Oregon make up the shortfall by reducing other, more discretionary spending (yes, I know how liberal Oregon is, but let's pretend, OK). Or,how much could Oregonians have saved (and been spared from such a silly idea) if Kulongoski supported the privatization of certain elements of Oregon's transportation infrastructure? And how much more money could that save as opposed to proposing such a pie in the sky project?
Oregon's idea for GPS-based taxation is disturbing on a multitude of levels, not the least of which is the idea that states want Big Brother to ride with you everywhere you go. Leaving the silly policy making issues aside, that fundamental privacy issue should give pause to both left and right thinkers alike...


More below the fold.

2008 - A Year in Review

The year 2008 started as any year does – Dick Clark pitifully stumbling through the Rockin’ New Year’s broadcast, but humbly being supported by Ryan Seacrest. While I spent the next morning rising early and feeding breakfast to my kids, most people my age went to bed already hung-over and wishing they were someone else.

The year was full of fun and exciting events, some good, some bad, most depending on your perspective. Without any further waste of your time, here is the year as I saw it:


Professional con-artist Martin O'Malley gleefully announces that tuition at the University of Maryland system will not increase, making higher education more affordable to the hard working people of the state. This was one of his election priorities, along with raising taxes and increasing spending. While tuition does not increase at the University of Maryland system, mandatory lab fees are raised from $150 per semester to $25,000 per semester.

Actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment. The toxicology report indicated that his body contained 6 different drugs and was ruled an "accidental overdose". How taking 6 drugs and dying can be considered accidental is beyond my comprehension. Ledger will best be known as the gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain and the crazy Joker in The Dark Knight.

To read the remainder of the article, see VoteNoMalley.

More below the fold.

The Year That Was 2008

Yes, it's time for the 2008 Awards. Last year's post is available here, the one from 2006 here, and the one from 2005 is available here. And instead of replicating it here and risk breaking formatting, you can view my choices here.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

O'Malley Strums, Economy Burns

Well at least he now we know why Martin O'Malley fell asleep at the switch while Maryland's economy faltered: he was too busy playing rock star.

The semi-retired Celtic rock band fronted by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is about to become a little less retired.

An email sent recently to fans of O'Malley's March advertises a March 14 CD release party in Baltimore, meaning new music will be arriving just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese could provide few details about the band's plans this morning but confirmed that the CD is the same one that O'Malley said he was working on during a summer 2007 interview.

At the time, O'Malley said that the disc had been in the works for months, with the tentative title of "Banished to the Basement." That, he said, referred to "the fact that political realities have banished us to the basement and that we don't play out anymore."

Good to know that O'Malley was able to work on his side project while Maryland's working and middle class families has to work harder just to make ends meet. But it's a sad commentary that the same O'Malley who criticized Governor Ehrlich for playing golf find no harm in putting time aside to record a new album. Maybe if O'Malley spent a little more time fine tuning his economic policy and a little less time tuning his strings, the people of Maryland wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of his reckless fiscal policy.

Then again, maybe O'Malley is living vicariously through Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday in Tombstone: "It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds."


More below the fold.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Could Joe be right (for once?)

Readers in my locality know that there's a particular blogger who I am more often than not at odds with; the "Joe" in question is one who delights in attempting to hasten the demise of our local newspaper. This story is for him.

It came to me over the last few days from the folks at Pew Research. According to this report, the internet has overtaken the newspaper as a main source for national and international news. More striking are the figures for the Millennial Generation (ages 18-29) where the internet and television are dead even as a news source - 59% of young people cited one or both as a main news source.

A graph showing the percentage of Americans who receive their news from various sources, from the Pew Research Center.

After skimming through the report, I had two immediate conclusions.

One is that the claim of media bias in the news may pale in comparison to the chasm in conservatism vs. liberalism on the internet.

The second is that, with the lack of journalistic standards practiced in some quarters, people (particularly the youth) may be more ill-informed than ever.

In this age of wireless technology and video streaming, certainly it's possible to witness events in real time and make up one's mind about what goes on within the range of the camera taking the video. However, the vast bulk of news isn't from eyewitness accounts, but from someone reporting the news. In olden days, we counted on newspapers to relate the story but often the information was at least second-hand if not more remote. This improved to some extent with the advent of radio and television; the former allowed newsmakers to speak directly with the people while the latter could be present where news was being made.

Now we have the technology that allows people to be their own reporters in real time. Certainly, the age of videotape allowed news gathering by non-professionals (one example was the Rodney King beating, caught on videotape by a person playing around with a camcorder) but that still needed the prism of someone at the evening news deciding it was a story worth relating. With the advent of Youtube and other video streaming repositories, that filter is eliminated to a much greater extent.

On the other hand, as a society we still must by necessity gather our news via a second-hand source who relates events to the reader, listener, or viewer through their eyes. Obviously my post is one example - I'm taking an event which happened (a survey of adults concerning their preferences for learning about the national and international news affecting them) and shaping it in a second way, the first being what Pew Research chose to report on. In this instance, I'm adding my opinions to the mix about what I feel was newsworthy and why it was so. Unless we happen to be witness to a momentous event in person, practically everything we gather as information will by necessity come as at least second-hand knowledge, regardless of whether we read it in the newspaper, hear it on the radio, or see it on television or the internet.

And here is where a nonbiased view and accuracy come in; that is, journalism in the truest sense of the word. Sadly, that seems to be lacking more and more in the 24/7 news cycle we now live in. What good is all the incredible amount of information we can gather if it's presented in a slanted manner which highlights only one side of the story? Even worse, if people act in a particular manner on information which is later found incorrect, the future direction of society can be altered negatively.

In 2008, America had a Presidential election where even the most hardened observers noted the coverage of candidates was slanted negatively toward one and positively toward the other. (Pew did some research of election news and how the candidates were perceived within that coverage.) While there were opportunities to hear what the candidates had to say directly in joint appearances - to the extent that a moderator shaped debate questions he or she felt were appropriate for the electorate to hear - there was still spin afterward as spokesmen and network coverage talking heads let everyone know what they needed to think about what they just saw.

While I'm fairly pleased that the medium I dabble in most is beginning to penetrate a greater audience, the truth remains that those who look for news generally just go to the website of whatever news source they trust instead of flipping to their channel or buying that particular paper at the newsstand. It's unfortunate that Pew apparently didn't ask further whether the internet sources used by respondents were connected in that manner; however, much of my sourcing to do monoblogue comes from sites affiliated with either newspapers or television networks, and for the near-term future bloggers will rely heavily on those same sources to put their own spin on things.

If we denizens of the internet really want to be informative and take advantage of the growing audience, we need to put an emphasis on accuracy and hold ourselves to the journalistic standards which seem to be missing from more and more news outlets who've become cheerleaders for one side or another. It's a goal I strive for when I report on events and if more sites would take that into account when they place what they do for all of us to see, we could turn America into a more well-informed nation.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

More below the fold.

This is what I mean...

Last month in my speech to the Republican Club of Northeast Baltimore County I said:

"...the GOP also needs to start embracing young people. Maryland in particular needs to start building and growing it’s farm system. Quite frankly, I do not want to see another John Kimball like character run for another office under the Republican Party."

With that in mind, I should have added Daniel "Wigman"... my bad, Daniel "The Wigman" Vovak to the list of characters I do not want to see running for office in Maryland, again.

In case you forgot who this guy was, he ran against Michael Steele in 2006 and made a big stink when he was listed as Daniel "Wigman" Vovak and not Daniel "The Wigman" Vovak.

I receive an email from Vovak promoting his latest project, a movie based on Lewinsky-gate. His email exclaimed that Yahoo and Breitbart filed stories about his movie. But when I clicked on the links, the text was the exact same, and it was written by him. Clue number one was the fact that the yahoo link had the source as LLC. The big clue was the Breitbart link, where there was a PRNewswire logo on the page.

It seems that I have been talking a lot about journalism lately, but normally when organizations file stories, nine times out of ten the story would be written differently, unless it's a wire story a la AP and PRI. And many wire stories that I read, do not include contact information.

I would add Vovak to the E-List, but I have to take care of other important matters.

More below the fold.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Despicable Racial Slurs: President-elect Obama and Right Wing Racial Malice

--Richard E. Vatz

Despicable racial slurs are being made against President-elect Barack Obama, and they are being aided and abetted (or at least not opposed) by some mainstream conservatives and Republicans.

For almost four decades there has been a compelling conservative case made that accusations of right-wing racial bigotry were targeted unfairly at Republicans whose unpopularity among African Americans was due to the GOP’s opposition to citizens’ dependency on government and tolerance of disproportionate crime in big cities.

The current issue undermines the conservative case and is a political and rhetorical catastrophe that may already have transpired.

Here are the facts:

One of the candidates to chair the Republican National Committee, Chip Saltsman, has mailed out a music CD with the song, “Barack the Magic Negro,” a parody made famous on “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” The parody comes from a 2007 article by writer David Ehrenstein (March 19, 2007) in The Los Angeles Times. In this article Senator Obama’s presidential run represented a Rorschacht test for white Americans who want “The Magic Negro,” which Ehrenstein describes as “a figure of postmodern folk culture,” which implies an unthreatening leader who is a “noble, healing Negro.”

The title of this superficial and grotesquely incomplete sociological analysis of the meaning of Sen.Obama’s candidacy has been used as justification for parodies of Obama over the last two years.

Sorry, but as John Wayne said of some transparent self-delusion of his deputy in “Rio Bravo," “That don’t do it, Dude.”

“Barack, the Magic Negro” is a racial slur which makes race -- and only race -- the focus of ugly taunts used against the President-elect. It is uncouth, despicable, demeaning and undeserved, and whoever uses it personifies the race-baiting, ugly right-wing, a smaller and smaller group of conservatives. Candidate Saltsman’s use of this phrase should disqualify him from any public office, as should anyone else’s. This is not the principled conservatism of which so many of us are proud.

Two reactions, both quoted in The Washington Post are of note: “[F]ormer Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell defended Saltsman and attacked the media: ‘Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race. This is in large measure due to President-elect Obama being the first African American elected president,’ Blackwell, who is black, said in a statement.

I would hope that a Jewish politician would not defend crypto anti-Semitism this way. Media alarm does not represent “hypersensitivity;” it represents abhorrence of racial malice, clear and simple.

The current Republican national chairman, Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, said he was "shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate…,” and Michael Steele stated that Saltsman’s "attempt at humor was clearly misplaced,” an understandable understatement for an African-American running for RNC Chair.

The fact is that this is a real moral and political test. Republican politicians and others on the right should immediately -- and I do mean immediately; there is no need to put one’s finger to the wind -- state their outrage and revulsion at such racist rhetoric. The word “racist,” vile beliefs of racial inferiority and superiority, is overused today. Not in the case of “Obama the Magic Negro.”

Let all authentic conservatives articulate their opprobrium at the use of this utterly contemptible phrase and do it NOW.

There is no more propitious time.

Professor Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Privatization a Serious Option

I have been calling for some time now the privatization of state assets, mainly as a way to improve services and reduce state spending. Now that state budgets are actually up against the wall, it looks like momentum for such common sense solutions is bulding:

Minnesota is deep in the hole financially, but the state still owns a premier golf resort, a sprawling amateur sports complex, a big airport, a major zoo and land holdings the size of the Central American country of Belize.

Valuables like these are in for a closer look as 44 states cope with deficits.

Like families pawning the silver to get through a tight spot, states such as Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are thinking of selling or leasing toll roads, parks, lotteries and other assets to raise desperately needed cash.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has hinted that his January budget proposal will include proposals to privatize some of what the state owns or does. The Republican is looking for cash to help close a $5.27 billion deficit without raising taxes.

And if you notice, it is a wide variety of states that are looking at privatization measures. Big government states such as New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois are looking at the benefits to maximizing efficiency by utilizing the private sector.

Unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that such common sense will seep in here to Maryland, even if a small step was taken in August when the state considered privatization for the Seagirt Marine Terminal. At minimum, Maryland needs to be looking at privatizing the Maryland Transportation Authority assets as well as the assets and operation of the notoriously mismanaged Maryland Transit Administration. Such a minimal privatization plan will save millions of dollars for Maryland taxpayers, and provide taxpayers with better services at lower costs.

At the very least, Maryland needs to consider how we can maximize the use of our state owned assets to deal with aftermath of the reckless fiscal policies of the O'Malley Administration. There is an opportunity here for the state and its taxpayers, if the Administration and General Assembly can resist their default settings and take advantage of it.


More below the fold.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Good Marks

--Richard E. Vatz

Well, Mark, notwithstanding your gratuitous attack on my erstwhile, middle-aged intellectual brunette predilections, I have been listening for over an hour, and it is a wonderfully interesting show.

So I can communicate firmly that Mark and I are not turning Red Maryland into personal e-mail exchanges, let me just apprise my conservative compatriots that I have an op-ed piece I am told will be coming out shortly in The Washington Times.

Happy New Year to all good consumers of this blog, and let's hope in 2009 that Maryland does not continue to be the late Murray Edelman's* "quiescent public," accepting corruption in its city leaders, a lack of investigation in such corruption, and Maryland state government's destructive hyper-taxation policies.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University


*Edelman's POLITICS AS SYMBOLIC ACTION has an introductory chapter that is one of the best treatises on rhetoric that has ever been written.

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Ron Smith Show

I'll be on the Ron Smith Show today at 4PM on WBAL the "Mighty 1090."

Ron and I will be discussing the issue of Maryland high school seniors not passing the state high school assessments, (see Matt's primer here), and the flawed math of Maryland's watermelons.

If there is time, we may even discuss the penchant of a certain Towson University rhetoric professor for homely CNN correspondents.

I kid Rick, I kid.

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Bailout Money In Action

The next time any organization comes crying for government money, they should immediately be shown the door. This fall, Citbank received $20 billion in taxpayer money because they said they could no longer function without it. Still, their bailout couldn't spare 52,000 Citigroup employees from losing their jobs. Meanwhile, the company will be paying $400 million over the next 20 years to have their name atop the New York Mets new stadium.

Talk about priorities. Granted, Citigroup and the Mets agreed to the naming rights deal back in 2006. Regardless, Citigroup should have approached the team and stated it could no longer afford to honor their agreement. After all, if they were as broke as they told the government, how could the Mets expect tho receive their funds?

Instead, both the Mets and Citigroup insist their deal remains in effect. As its biggest stakeholder, it's time for Congress to get involved. In these bleak economic times, they cannot justify this luxury expense. In the future, prior to generously handing out our money, the government should really demand painful concessions from these beggars.


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Get Your Questions In for the RNC Chairman Debate

On January 5, 2009 Americans for Tax Reform will host a debate among the candidates for RNC Chairman.  The debate will be at 1PM from the National Press Club.  I would expect that C-SPAN will cover the debate (either live or delayed).  I also would expect that it can be watched on the web.

WE have the opportunity to ask questions.  Go to the Debate web site and submit your questions.  Republicans should not underestimate the importance of this race.  Ask questions.  Get answers.  Lobby your state chairman and national committee members.

Help put a strong, conservative leader at the helm of the RNC.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Feeling Black and Blue About the Purple Line

It might surprise many people to think that I am a big advocate of mass transit (so long as taxpayer money is not overly involved). I have been living in the DC metro area for almost 20 years now and I have heard talk of the Purple line for almost that long. Marc Fisher writes about some of the problems. This strikes me as important in the debate:

Spend some time behind the battle lines of the War of the Purple Line (and believe me, there are folks who have devoted decades of their lives to this thing) and my bet is you will come out as I have, concluding that pretty much all of them are right. But they are so right, so committed to their path as the one true way, that their positions have hardened and the very notion of compromise strikes them as abhorrent.
This particular observation is a result of the long and bitter debate about the Purple line. To be absolutly frank, even with Obama Job Corps workers, this thing is not going to get built and that is a shame. First, the bloody thing is going to be phenomenally expensive to build, something like $2-$3 million per mile for on grade building, double that and more if the builders have to tunnel or elevate the tracks in anyway. That is just for the tracks, to say nothing of the stations, etc that will have to be built to support the line.

But even if the line could be built much cheaper than that cost, the intractibility of the various parties means that any opportunity to begin building in the next four years is incredibly unlikely. So, by the time we can even consider getting something built, it won't be able to move forward.

Maryland blew their chance to get this done more than 15 years ago. Today, the growth and density along any path that could be utilized is going to already overdeveloped and unlikely to be to successful.

A shame.

More below the fold.

Practical Realities and the High School Assessments

Maryland Students will be able to graduate this year, even though some of them will not have passed the required high school assessments. The Baltimore Sun writes:

The state Board of Education's decision to let some students graduate in 2009 without passing the mandatory high school assessments tests is a bow to practical realities, but it shouldn't become the norm or weaken Maryland's commitment to higher standards.

This is the first academic year in which the tests are mandatory for graduation, and a relative handful of the state's 55,000 seniors are in danger of not getting their diplomas in June because they either haven't taken the tests or have failed in one or more subjects. The board's decision lets them apply for a waiver if they fulfill all the other requirements for graduation and can show they couldn't pass the tests for reasons beyond their control.

About 4,000 students potentially fall into that category. Some are students new to the system who are not native English speakers and haven't yet achieved enough proficiency in the language to take the courses or pass the test. Others are special education students whose programs aren't geared to the exams.
"Practical realities" should be read as code for "lacking backbone" among educational and policy leaders for backing down on the program they implemented to increase the standards and make the high school diploma in Maryland mean something.

A high school diploma is a path to a better standard of living and should not be awarded from simply showing up. I undertand that non-English speakers may need additional time or help to pass the courses, but that should be an incentive to keep them for another year and/or really help them. The state also runs into a definitional problem, i.e., what is the length of time for which a waiver could be granted? Is one year in the system enough time? Two years? Three years?

But you also run into something of an equal protection argument as well. Let's take two groups of students who, at least would be nominally permitted a "not enough time in the system" waiver. Immigrants and out-of-staters who move into the country. Let's take an immigrant from say Africa, who moves to Maryland as a junior in high school. They are a non-native English speaker and would need time to complete the necessary courses in order to pass the exam. Rather than keeping that student longer, the state grants a waiver for the graduation exams. Fine, if that is the policy. But what of someone whose parents are in the military and are stationed in Maryland (say at Ft. Meade) for that student's senior year. This student doesn't pass the exams, should they be granted a waiver as well? What about students who are native English speakers, say from Great Britain or Australia? Should they be granted a waiver as well?

The problem with the waiver (outside of special education waivers), what is a permissible waiver and what is not? Better to not grant waivers and require the passage of the exams to get the diploma.

The practical reality is more of a political failing and a desire not to face that failing reality. The concept of the high school assessments was that by the time they would be required to graduate, Maryland schools would have improved enough to make the passage a fairly easy exercise for nearly every student. The practial reality, though, is taht schools, particularly in the poorer, minority sections of Baltimore and Prince George's County, have not improved enough and the consequence is that most students there are not equipped to pass the exam. The granting of waivers under any circumstances is not a reflection of the conditions beyond the control of the student, but a means for the state and the public education system to overlook their own shortcomings and failings. If they grant a waiver of the exam requirement, then the public schools don't have to take responsibility to correct their failure to prepare a student adequately to take the exam. That is the practical ("political") reality here, an inability to actually face up to the systems many failings.

More below the fold.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recommended Sunday Reading

Two pieces from National Review are worth your time today.

My bullshit detector redlines when I hear politicians talk about eschewing ideology and labeling themselves as mere pragmatists. Anthony Dick lays bare clever conceit behind our post ideological president-elect to show that pragmatism is a just another disguise for ideology.

When people praise a policy or a politician as “pragmatic,” they’re often simply praising themselves for being open-minded. They are projecting a false pretense of objectivity, premised on the conceit that they are utterly free of ideology while their opponents are mired in prejudice. In fact, a so-called pragmatist’s support for a policy indicates only two things: that he agrees with the policy’s goal, and that he believes the policy is likely to achieve the goal in an efficient way. But these are precisely the controversies at the core of every old ideological dispute: Which goals should we strive for? And what is the best way to achieve these goals? Pragmatism as a catch phrase does not displace those ideological questions, but does a great deal to obscure them. It is, to borrow from Kant, a vain delusion and a chimerical vision of mankind. Which, on second thought, might explain its popularity in the age of Hope and Change.

Hollywood’s reverence for Ché Guevara and communist thugs in general, is a bête noire of mine. I recommend Mark Goldblatt’s piece on Steven Soderbergh’s new hagiographic biopic of Ché.
The truth of the matter is that Nazism, Islamism, and Communism are all totalitarian movements. All three stand in direct opposition to Enlightenment values of religious tolerance and rational inquiry. All three seek to exterminate whoever stands in their way. Nazism justifies its genocide in the name of racial purity. Islamism, in the name of spiritual purity. Communism, in the name of socio-economic purity. One way or another, the shallow graves get filled.

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Stay Classy Maria Allwine

If ever someone owned a surname that best described the shrieking harpies of the left it is Maria Allwine. She is a staple of Baltimore’s fringe left and progressive ne’er-do-well, second only perhaps to A. Robert Kaufmann. Any time an injustice occurs (real of perceived) you’ll find Allwine unleashing her frothy spittle-flecked rage. See her John Reed impersonation here.

In addition to her loopy policy prescriptions, Allwine is a prolific letter writer and commenter to the Baltimore Sun. See for instance, her response to my Sun oped about conservative talk radio. She claims to reveal the darkness of the conservative heart, and its evil campaign against her all good things progressivism. To Allwine nearly all conservative talk radio is, “designed to make you hate people who are different from you.”

Take a moment to let her inanity hang there for a moment before reading on.

However, her December 16, 2008 letter takes the cake.

Thank you, Muntadar al-Zeidi, for doing what so many of us have dreamed of doing over these last eight years but have never had the chance to do. President Bush deserves neither respect nor gratitude for his destruction of an entire country and its culture.Mr. Bush refuses to acknowledge his responsibility for the thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and millions of refugees his invasion of Iraq has caused, and he will most likely never be held accountable for his crimes against humanity, Iraq and his own country. I only wish the shoes had hit him.

Maria Allwine, Baltimore

What was that about hating people different from you...

I’m not a proponent of the infinite monkey theorem, but it wouldn’t take a million monkeys banging away at typewriters more than an hour to produce an Allwine letter to the Sun.

Then again for Allwine, the Bush years were the “blurst of times.”

More below the fold.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steele for a Reason, but let's keep everything under control

I have been very upfront with the fact that I am supporting Michael Steele for RNC Chairman. And not just because he's a Maryland guy, but because I think he brings the best credentials and experience to the ticket.

That's not to say that others would do a bad job, but all of the other candidates give me pause:

  • Saul Anuzis is probably leading the way in trying to integrate technology into the campaign infrastructure, and that is something that we need. However, we are conservatives and results to matter, and Michigan was a trainwreck for Republicans in 2008.
  • Ken Blackwell has reasonable conservative credentials, despite his Charterite past. But he too has a results problem, getting blown out of the watter in a competitive state in 2006. Not a great year for the GOP, but even Michael Steele performed better in a deeper blue state.
  • Katon Dawson is a conservative and has done a good job, but it's a lot different working across a broad purple nation than it is being the Chairman in South Carolina.
  • And I still believe that Chip Saltsman is a stalking horse for Mike Huckabee and his social conservative/big government liberal fusion wing of the party.
As I have said before, all of these guys would do well. Just that Steele is above and beyond the most qualified candidate in the race due to his experience and yes his results. But as I noted yesterday, this campaign in certain aspects is getting to look like the Presidential Primaries in that some people are tearing down candidates rather than build cases for their own. I had the chief blogger for Ken Blackwell's 2006 campaign make some comments on my blog yesterday that had more to do with bashing Steele than it did with defending Blackwell.

Regardless of who wins, we as Republicans and activists are going to need to work with our new Chairman. So I think everybody needs to take a step back, breathe, and try not to dish out any more rabbit punches...


More below the fold.

Saul Anuzis and Michael Steele - Two Different Approaches

Who should be the next RNC chair?  Some have their favorites.  Some of us are undecided.  Unfortunately, too many Republicans don't care.  Don't underestimate the importance of this race.  A great chairman can do GREAT THINGS for the GOP.  Just remember the fantastic job done by former chairman and current Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Until the debate on January 5th, we'll be stuck with getting bits and pieces from the candidates ... and the usual opinion from people like me and my Red Maryland colleague Brian Griffiths.  However, we do have two larger bits of info from two of the top tier candidates - former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis.

Thanks to our fearless Red Maryland leader Streiff, we have this interview given by Steel to  You can also watch an interview with Steele on PJTV.

RedState has given a set of of ten questions to each candidate.  Anuzis is the first candidate to return his answers.  You can read them here.

I encourage you to read both Steele's interview and Anuzis' answers carefully.  I believe that you'll find two distinct approaches.  While they may be close on most issues, Anuzis comes off as more forceful ... and forthcoming.  With all due respect to Steele, he appears more concerned with offending someone than on getting it right (pay close attention to the PJTV interview and the Meet the Press interview).

We need a chairman who will LEAD!

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

More below the fold.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mitt Romney on the Economy

While I have made no secret in the past of my disdain for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as a Presidential candidate, I have never disputed that he has a first rate mind.  His article at National Review Online is a MUST READ.

While I can't imagine supporting Romney for President, it's pretty obvious that he'd make an awesome Treasury Secretary.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

More below the fold.

Non-incumbent Politicians on Television and Radio: Problematic Only to Single Party Advocates

--Richard E. Vatz

My friend at The Baltimore Sun (no, discerning readers, that is not an oxymoron), David Zurawik, last week wrote on his "Z on TV" blog that former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and a variety of politicians' regular appearances on radio and television "raises the not insignificant question of whether or not politicians who are still very [much] in the game [of] getting elected should be given airtime on news channels and news programs to promulgate their partisan views -- and campaign." His real target may have been revealed in his following sentence: "This extends beyond Huckabee to folks like Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., the former Republican congressman and governor of Maryland who appears on WMAR-Channel 2 in Baltimore and WBAL-AM radio."

Mr. Zurawik goes on to say that there is a significant issue regarding "whether news channels and programs should be providing partisan politicians" forums for political opining and that in addition to Huckabee, he is "far more troubled by Ehrlich sitting on the news set of an ABC affiliate, as he does at WMAR, interacting with news anchors and commenting on politics and news…because he is being allowed to wrap himself and his highly partisan words in the mantle of the credibility and impartiality that such news operations are supposed to embody." From that premise Mr. Zurawik concludes that Gov. Ehrlich's commentary "is especially problematic in his case, because as governor, Ehrlich showed an absolute disdain for the press and the public's right to get information from a variety of sources when he blocked access to his administration and state government to a reporter from the Sun whose coverage did not meet with Ehrlich's approval."

Mr. Zurawik, an intelligent writer, in this case utilizes false premises and then non sequiturs in reaching his illogical conclusion.

How many errors of reasoning inhabit his analysis? Let me count the errancies:

First: If news channels do not provide opportunities for office-aspiring politicians to opine, and in Mr. Zurawik's accusation, to "campaign," the media opportunities will be available only to incumbents who, while ostensibly are giving opinions on issues of the day, are really in a never-ending campaign for re-election or election to a higher office. When Gov. O'Malley rhetorically supports his tax bill on Maryland media -- and especially when he takes shots at the Ehrlich Administration of 2003-2007 -- does anyone think this is non-political, non-campaigning?

Second: Mr. Zurawik is simply incorrect when he states that a non-office-holding candidate giving even regular news commentary on television or radio unfairly benefits from "the mantle of the credibility and impartiality that such news operations are supposed to embody." No one -- and this might be literally true that NO ONE -- infers from Gov. Robert Ehrlich or any politician that his or her critical perspectives do not come from conservative or liberal principles, or that they are disinterested opinions.

Third: Mr. Zurawik's argues that Gov. Ehrlich's appearances on radio and television are particularly problematic because of his "absolute disdain for the press and the public's right to get information from a variety of sources when he blocked access to his administration and state government to a reporter from the Sun whose coverage did not meet with Ehrlich's approval." Not only can I tell you authoritatively that Gov. Ehrlich does not disdain the press per se, but his legal actions were directed at reporters who he felt were not reporting all of the news and were selectively editing it as well. People might disagree, but his right to exclude a specific SUN reporter was sustained by the courts. Perhaps more important, does Mr. Zurawik want to censor Gov. Ehrlich because he (Zurawik) finds Gov. Ehrlich's opinions so odious? How anti-democratic, or equally striking, how Democratic!

The FCC's "Equal Time" rule, still in effect, requires that all "legally qualified candidates," that is, declared candidates, be afforded equal opportunities to use a broadcasting station, but that is not applicable to non-declared candidates, nor should it be. In the case of a charismatic Republican leader in a Democratically-controlled state, there is no legal or practical problem with the media utilizing a market-determined political force for insightful commentary to balance the print media's imbalanced coverage.

Richard E. Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University

More below the fold.

Going Both Ways

Supporters of Ken Blackwell's candidacy for RNC Chairman have been critical of the "moderate" positions taken by Michael Steele. But Blackwell supporters forgot about a minor detail in Blackwell's past that could make one question his conservative credentials.

Blackwell was elected to the Cincinnati City Council, and served as the Mayor of Cincinnati from 1979-1981. But he was elected neither as a Republican or as a Democrat to the Council, rather being elected as a member of the Charter Party, a third-party in Cincinnati. And what has the Charter Party stood for in the past? A variety of liberal to "progressive" urban interests, often in cooperation and in concert with Cincinnati Democrats. Their recent work includes supporting a tax increase to prop up the Cincinnati Zoo.

Does any of this make Ken Blackwell ideologically unpure to serve as RNC Chairman? Of course not, and while not my first choice I think he would do a reasonable job. Blackwell has twenty-plus years of conservative credentials since his service as a Charterite. But it makes you wonder if some of Blackwell's supporters (and supporters of other candidates) are using the "conservative credentials" strawman as a wedge issue to gloss over the fact that Steele's experience in party building vastly outweighs that of other candidates in the field...


More below the fold.

And then this happened....

H/T to Andrew Kujan and Adam Pagnucco:

I really take no joy in noting that the horse AFSCME and other labor unions rode all the way to the State House came back screw them in the end, because these folks have families and bills just like the rest of us. But is fighting O'Malley and the Administration on this point really the best tactic when the other 90% of Maryland families are already paying higher taxes and higher health care costs thanks to the actions of O'Malley and AFSCME's other Democratic allies? Is this really going to play well with Maryland's mainstream voters?


More below the fold.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mr. Magnanimous

Looks like Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Kevin Maxwell still doesn't get it.

Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell proposed a $977.4 million operating budget last night for the next fiscal year, a nearly 5 percent increase over last year's proposal.
That's right, in this economic climate Maxwell wants a five-percent increase in school spending, and once again he wants a massive increase in spending without requisite and appropriate evaluation of already existing program. The state of Maryland probably cannot afford a $46 million increase in spending on a budget in excess of $20 billion and the county is $36 million in the red; Maxwell, as usual, displays and enormous amount of gall and chutzpah to offer up such a gigantic increase in these economic conditions; it's even more than his $920 million proposal of just two years ago, in a better economic time. He learned none of the lessons he should have taken from the responsibile measures seen from Baltimore City Superintendent Andres Alonso.

But never fear. Maxwell offers up a concession:
Maxwell stressed that the budget was conservative in light of the current economic climate, and that there would be no raises for his roughly 60 senior and executive staff members.
Well golly, I feel better knowing that he isn't proposing any increases to his immediate staff members after he has doubled the number of employees making six-figures in his time as Superintendent. Gee, how magnanimous, especially after he got his precious bonus back in October.

Maxwell's budget again serves as a reminder of the tremendous hype that is put into school funding. Sadly, or unelected and nonrepresentational school Board will probably rubber stamp this budget without doing their due diligence. It's just unfortunate that we cannot have the leaders of our school system be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, provide a quality education, and actually represent the people of Anne Arundel County...


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Get Your Questions In for the RNC Chairman Debate

On January 5, 2009 Americans for Tax Reform will host a debate among the candidates for RNC Chairman.  The debate will be at 1PM from the National Press Club.  I would expect that C-SPAN will cover the debate (either live or delayed).  I also would expect that it can be watched on the web.

WE have the opportunity to ask questions.  Go to the Debate web site and submit your questions.  Republicans should not underestimate the importance of this race.  Ask questions.  Get answers.  Lobby your state chairman and national committee members.

Help put a strong, conservative leader at the helm of the RNC.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Michael Steele Takes Questions

In his quest to become RNC chair, former lieutenant governor Michael Steele took questions from CNS's Penny Starr.

Take the time to read it.

Steele takes solidly conservative positions and takes steps to address his unsightly waffling on the subject of abortion on Meet the Press in October 2006. His dwelling on "stare decisis" I still find troubling because if he truly believes Roe was wrongly decided

My personal view is Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided,
it seems rather counterintuitive to grant deference to an utter dog's breakfast of faux science and judicial overreach.

His objection to No Child Left Behind seems to be nearly a toss off. I think the whole "teaching the test" critique is simply ludicrous. The current Maryland test does a good job of representing the standards of learning desired and, at least for me, it is hard to understand what teachers should be teaching if not the subject material emphasized in those standards. I say that as a father of three children who are currently in Maryland Public Schools. There are arguably good reasons to not support a law that is obviously working but Mr. Steele doesn't articulate them.

While I'm more comforted by this interview than I have been by Mr. Steele's answers to these questions over time, I'm still underwhelmed by his candidacy for RNC chairman.

We have a golden opportunity in the next two years to begin a return to our majority status. To do that we will have to raise money by the boatload, recruit strong candidates, and rebuild our grassroots organization. I'm just not sure that Mr. Steele, for all his strengths, is the man to do taht.

More below the fold.

Ken Blackwell Surging in RNC Chair Race

While a latecomer to the race, Ken Blackwell appears to be making up for lost time.  Texas chair Tina Benkiser has formed a ticket with Blackwell to run for co-chair.  Benkiser's endorsement should give Blackwell a large boost with social conservatives.  In addition, Blackwell has also been publicly endorsed by RNC members Ross Little and Ruth Ulrich (both of Louisiana).

These endorsements, coupled with the active support of former Presidential candidate Steve Forbes, move Blackwell into the first tier of candidates.  Virginia Virtucon reports that some believe Blackwell has moved to frontrunner status.

I don't know if I'm ready to agree with that yet.  Current chair Mike Duncan may still have the inside hand.  There is also no question that Michael Steele has a fair amount of public support, if not RNC votes.  As I've stated before, I'm a huge fan of Blackwell.  If Michigan chair Saul Anuzis wasn't in the race, I'd probably be 100% behind Blackwell already.  The great thing about this is that we are fortunate to have some really great candidates running for the post.

Typically, we could all lie back and not worry.  Who cares who chairs the RNC anyway?  WRONG!  This race could well dictate the near and medium term future of the GOP.  Haley Barbour's leadership should never be underestimated.  Remember how far we went under his chairmanship?

Anuzis and Blackwell both posses the conservative credentials to lead the GOP to victory.  In addition, this has been a civil race among ALL of the candidates to date.  Election of a strong, idea-driven, conservative chair could spell a bright future for the GOP.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trillion Dollar Baby

Well, if anything is going to stay the course under the Obama Administration, it looks like it will be fiscal recklessness:

Anxious to jolt the economy back to life, President-elect Barack Obama appears to be zeroing in on a stimulus package of about $850 billion, dwarfing last spring's tax rebates and rivaling drastic government actions to fight the Great Depression.

Obama has not settled on a grand total, but after consulting with outside economists of all political stripes, his advisers have begun telling Congress the stimulus should be bigger than the $600 billion initially envisioned, congressional officials said Wednesday.

Obama is promoting a recovery plan that would feature spending on roads and other infrastructure projects, energy-efficient government buildings, new and renovated schools and environmentally friendly technologies.

There would also be some form of tax relief, according to the Obama team, which is well aware of the political difficulty of pushing such a large package through Congress, even in a time of recession. Any tax cuts would be aimed at middle- and lower-income taxpayers, and aides have said there would be no tax increases for wealthy Americans.

So the Obama fiscal team is going to make the same mistake we made before in borrowing billions of dollars to try and use tax rebates to make people feel better about the economy. Except this time, Obama wants to further "enhance" the project through the creation of public works projects and other unnecessary expenditures. All in all, the plan could top $1 Trillion of new public debt.

A lot of this fiscal silliness is encouraged through the lack of a requirement that the federal budget be balanced. Despite many tries in the past by Congressional Republicans to adopt a Balanced Budget Amendment, we are still stuck in a legal position that allows this stuff to happen. And while a balanced budget requirement would clearly not resolve all instances of fiscal stupidity, it might make Federal leaders think twice about massive borrowing programs that further and further hurt our fiscal posture. Certainly, it might make them think twice (or, in some instances, for the first time) about engaging in borrowing huge sums of money the government can't pay back in order to make the citizenry feel better about an economic calamity caused by people and business borrowing huge sums of money they couldn't pay back.

The most distressing news about this proposal are the publics works programs that Obama wants to introduce in order to try and shock the economy back to life through job creation. The problem is that this works proposal smells an awful like the so called "New New Deal" that Obama wants to create in order to expand the role and size of government, expand the federal budget, and generally but in where federal help is not needed or necessary. Compounding the ideological arguments against such Keynesian silliness and such a brazen expansion of federal responsibilities is the inconvenient truth to those on the left that the original New Deal solved nothing, with the Depression truly ending only with the start of World War II and the general economic aftermath of being the last man standing. The other point that gets skipped a lot, of course, is the fact that it is generally accepted that FDR and his New Deal prolonged the Depression by nearly a decade, with Roosevelt's policies driving people further and further into the economic abyss. These kind of fiscal shenanigans are not of the sort that we need to be emulating, neither now or ever again in the future.

If the President-Elect really is serious about helping American taxpayers and helping the American economy, he should immediately freeze non-National Security related spending and immediately implement policies to cut unnecessary government programs immediately. Free up that capital, pay down the national debt, and give a real and meaningful tax cut to the American people. The tax holiday proposed by Congressman Louie Gohmert is a good start. Doing the typically liberal thing of throwing more government dollars away in an inefficient matter helps nobody....


More below the fold.

Maryland Climate Commission's Green Fallacy Exposed

The Beacon Hill Institute has released its peer-review analysis of Maryland's Climate Action Plan as pieced together by the alarmist advocacy shop Center for Climate Strategies (CCS). I've discussed CCS, their lemmings in the state bureaucracy, and lick spittle media advocates previously.

What Beacon Hill found is--shocker--the same for what CCS has done in other states.

1. CCS failed to quantify benefits in a way that they can be meaningfully compared to costs;

2. When estimating economic impacts, CCS often misinterpreted costs to be benefits;

3. The estimates of costs left out important factors, causing CCS to understate the true costs of its recommendations.

Way back in February I wrote in the Examiner that with this climate commission, Governor O'Malley and his environmentalist backers are trying to fool us into thinking that we can have it both ways: reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy. That just isn't possible, and Beacon Hill lays bear the fallacy:

For policymakers, the CAP report offers no worthwhile guidance. The report fails to quantify the monetary benefits of reduced GHG emissions rendering its cost savings estimates implausible if not downright unbelievable. The faulty analysis contained in the CAP report leaves policymakers with no basis on which to judge the merits of the CAP report’s recommendations for action on the mitigation of
GHG emissions.
In other words, CAP is a policy menu for raising taxes and energy costs all for a climactically meaningless end.

The Brad Heavners and Mike Tidwell's of the world, with an assist from the Sun environment beat reporters will wave the CAP report like the proverbial bloody shirt in an attempt to finally push the Global Warming Solutions Act through the legislature. Unlike the deranged rantings of Paul Pinsky, this would indeed be a disaster for Maryland's working families. Furthermore, should it pass the act would be senseless piling on as we are sure to see some form of federal cap and trade regime, whether it comes from Congress or the Obama administration implements it through executive fiat.

More below the fold.

The Unending Dimness of the Sun Editorial Board

The Sun’s editorial page has had its fair share of loopy pronouncements over the years—you know like the one that pronounced “the deficit slain”. However, for some reason, in these heady days of progressive resurgence, the compunction to trumpet flighty progressive nostrums trumps reasoned argument and plain constitutional fact for that matter. Let’s pick apart this particular piece of editorial rubbish piece by piece.

The Electoral College is an institution enshrined in the Constitution. It also is an archaic threat to our democracy because the system disenfranchises many voters and sometimes results in the candidate who wins the most votes losing the presidency…

What other “archaic” institutions enshrined in the Constitution, does the Sun feel threaten democracy? Free speech, due process, trial by jury, the right to bear arms—well yes they do fear that. The only institutions the Sun editorial board thinks are worth preserving are of course, timeless. Those others negative liberties are merely archaic remnants of quaint past.

The winner of the popular vote has only lost in the Electoral College twice in the history of presidential elections. This is a good record to be sure, hence the progressive impetus to eliminate it: It is not perfect, founding principles be damned.

In many states, the Electoral College discourages potential voters who know the candidate they favor is likely to lose in a winner-take-all state election.

Implicit in this argument is that say for example, Maryland Republicans waste their votes because of the winner take all format in a solidly Democratic state. Tara Ross at the Heritage Foundation points out how disingenuous this line of thinking is:

These votes were not wasted. They were simply cast on the losing side of a popular vote within the state. If the 2000 election had been conducted based on nationwide popular vote totals only, would people claim that any vote for George W. Bush was "wasted" because Al Gore won the popular vote? Of course not. The votes for Bush were cast in an effort to win. In the event of a loss, they would simply have been votes for the losing candidate--just as in any other election (such as an election for Governor or Senator).

Note the subtle nudge to the progressive will to power. Votes for the losing candidate are wasted, whereas only votes for the winner count.

And it favors small states because votes are based on the number of senators and representatives a state has, not its population…

This is nonsense on stilts.

Article 1 Section 2 of the constitution states “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand…"

Article 2 Section 1 states “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”

This means that the bulk of a state’s representation in the Electoral College is...based on its population. How the constitutional scholars on the Sun editorial board bricked that layup is beyond me.

Maryland is on record supporting the end of the Electoral College. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a law last year that would award Maryland's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of who wins in this state. But that law only takes effect if states with more than half the electoral votes (270) join the challenge.

Americans should recognize that the Electoral College is outdated and lobby their state lawmakers to adopt laws similar to Maryland's. As more states follow Maryland's lead, support for a constitutional amendment to abolish the current system should grow. That would be the right way to retire the Electoral College.

This last bit is an example of what Brian has accurately labeled the subversive effort to undermine the constitution. The Sun editorial board knows full well just how hard it is to enact an amendment to the constitution. For Sun editorialists, the path of least resistance is to get more states to join Maryland’s folly, which given the thrust of the editorial, is fine by them. The whole “right way to retire the Electoral College” line is nothing more than a too-clever-by-half rhetorical conceit. Given the opportunity to reach the 270 threshold don’t bet on the Sun urging restraint to alter the constitution “the right way.”

More below the fold.

NY Tax Proposals

You might protest New Yorkers, but you can't say Gov. Patterson is not creative.Among the items that would be taxed are:

Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson's proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.

But for iPod owners, this one is going to hurt:
Gov. Paterson's proposed $121 billion budget hits New Yorkers in their iPods - and nickels-and-dimes them in lots of other places, too.

Trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, Paterson called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including an "iPod tax" that taxes the sale of downloaded music and other "digitally delivered entertainment services."
New York is facing a $15 billion budget shortfall and Patterson's budget is harsh in many ways. But here is one thing that sounds like it will help, state employee layoffs. So how many state employees are losing their jobs--521--that is all.

For comparison, Montgomery County Maryland Schools Superintendent proposed laying off 280 employees that would save the county some $38 million dollars. By my math, assuming salaries are roughly equivalent, New York will save about $72-73 million with that move. Not exactly getting the payroll down Mr. Governor.

Anyone have the odds that Governor MOM and the pickpockets in the Maryland General Assembly won't be following Paterson's lead?

More below the fold.

Naivete is so Chic

I was driving in to work yesterday morning when I snapped this photo. It appears that the jet set naiveté has trickled down to the masses. It is more than just the ubiquitous T-shirt on the idiot Birkenstocked undergraduate protesting for fair trade coffee. Now the lumpen proles can adorn their van with the latest totalitarian-murder chic. Where are the Mao mud flaps?

There are only two explanations as to why someone would gear-up with the image of Fidel Castro’s willing executioner: a) They know nothing about Ché Guevara outside Robert Redford’s vapid film, The Motorcycle Diaries; or b) they do know and they just don’t care because left wing mass murderers are just soooo cool. Lost down the Orwellian memory hole are Guevara quotes like, “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.

Of course, the real Ché Guevara was more revolutionary bravado than anything. He commanded Cuba’s infamous La Cabaña prison where he personally oversaw the execution (with no due process) of hundreds, possibly thousands of Cubans. For some perspective, Castro’s Cuba imprisoned more people as a percentage of population than Stalin’ Russia and murdered more people as a percent of population than the first three years of Hitler’s Third Reich. When his opponents were imprisoned and unarmed Ché could say things like “I don't care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.”

However, what Robert Redford won’t tell you, is that when cornered by Bolivian soldiers, where he was fomenting another glorious revolution—because you know he and Fidel led the poor benighted island to the sunny uplands of history—Ché did indeed care if he fell. All that revolutionary machismo dissappeared as Ché begged his pursuers, “Don’t shoot I’m Ché Guevara, I’m worth more alive to you than dead.”

His final words are interesting because in the ironic ebb and flow of history, Ché is, in fact, worth more dead than alive. While I find the sporting of Ché gear offensive—where are the politically correct thought police when you need them? Oh I forgot—I do find some cheer in the commodification of Ché. Therein lays the sweet irony. The real Ché detested capitalism, now the ignorant and duplicitous alike shell out $20 (preferably on mommy and daddy’s credit card) for a t-shirt or trinket emblazoned his “iconic” image. Lenin once said, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Well actually he stole the rope (and bullets) with which the Bolsheviks hung and shot their enemies, but that’s another story. However, in the case of Ché, the opposite is true. Capitalists will sell to useful idiots the items which will reinforce their own idiocy.

The folks at Reason Magazine delved into this phenomenon. Especially noteworthy is Grammy award winning Jazz musician and Cuban refugee, Paquito D’Rivera’s juxtaposition of Ché’s actual malice towards artists, and Hollywood set’s cargo cult surrounding him.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I don't get it

One of the things that has been most puzzling to me in recent days has been a seeming conservative backlash against Michael Steele as he runs for RNC Chairman. I find it extremely curious that one of the most conservative candidates in the race for Chairman keeps getting beaten up as "not conservative enough."

Richard Falknor launches the latest salvo by trying to portraying the sins of Bob Ehrlich as the sins of Michael Steele:

Steele was a team-playing lieutenant governor in Maryland under Bob Ehrlich, a “centrist” Republican governor who raised taxes, grew spending, approved taxpayer-supported embryonic stem-cell research, and (gratuitously in our view) went out of his way to anger values voices and gun owners. A skilled advocate, Mr. Ehrlich’s chief policy goal was apparently the enactment of slots legislation. Mr. Steele’s special contributions were heading an education task-force that didn’t address parental choice, and trying to advance the Old Line State’s minority-business-enterprise program.
Of course the office of Lieutenant Governor in Maryland barely has enough power to go buy a cup of coffee, much less have meaningful influence in a Governor's Agenda. Michael Steele has been and has always been a conservative, much more so on issues of life, budget, and taxes than virtually anybody who has served in Maryland's Executive Branch in a long time.

Falknor also railed against Steele's support of Wayne Gilchrest in the 1st District Congressional primary, and also had this to say to conclude his remarks:
Mr. Steele’s supporters could make a case along these lines: that their candidate’s undoubted charm and personal attractiveness are paramount for an RNC job; and that asking about taxes, fighting America’s enemies, the culture of life, giving parents some control over schools, and controlling porous borders is simply out of place — whether in supporting Republicans at the polls or in selecting a gifted national voice to weave a new post-partisan, inclusive public narrative necessary for Republicans to start winning again.
Questioning Michael Steele's conservative bonafides is kinda like questioning Tiger Woods' golf game; it's a question that really need not be asked. But what Falknor fails to not that at this stage in time, a candidate's ability to speak to Republican issues and a candidate's ability to organize the Republican Party is of paramount importance for our next Chairman. We need a Chairman who understands the what it is like to have their boots on the ground while also understanding the most basic of conservative principles.

Beyond that, I do not see a candidate who can "out-conservative" for lack of a better term Steele. The candidates are equals at best or, in the case of Huckabee stalking horse Chip Saltsman, worse, on conservative credentials. This Chairmanship election needs to focus on three basic things:
  1. Conservative Principles;
  2. Organization;
  3. Expansion of the Conservative Message.
And nobody can beat Michael Steele on those points. In fact, when you consider that he is taking on the issue of ethics as it relates to our party, he's already doing his part to lead the party in a conservative and respectable manner.

I just don't understand those who question Steele's conservative credentials. It makes you wonder if those questioning his credentials need to have their understanding of conservatism questioned...


More below the fold.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Some people have a rather myopic view of the world:

After reading "Sun's parent files for protection from creditors" (Dec. 9), I think that the decline in the number of newspaper subscribers and readers is a barometer of our nation's inability to grasp the importance of keeping up with local, national and world events.

If our democratic values and institutions are to survive, the public must remain informed.

So let us all encourage each other and our young people to return to reading the newspaper.
The write of this letter seems to misguidedly assume that we can only achieve an informed citizenry if the newspaper businesses is somehow propped up by encouraging those who are not buying newspapers to buy newspapers. And of course this is a horribly misguided, not-with-the-times sentiment.

Some people, including seemingly newspaper publishers, continue to underestimate the role and influence of the internet in the sustainability of their business models. Many newspapers, including virtually all of our local papers, make their papers available online at no charge to the consumer, removing the cost impediment to their consumers. With the removal of this cost impediment and the instant adaptability of internet news delivery, those people who wish to be informed without buying their local daily are already reading it.

When you combine that with the availability of specialty news sources and blogs, the average consumer (especially younger people) is receiving more information about their world that at any time since the invention of the printing press.

Mr. Micklos view that one can only obtain news from a large corporate newspaper is a sad commentary about how out of touch some people are with the new reality....though sadly, maybe not as out of touch as print newspaper publishers who respond to a weakening economy by printing a small, more inferior product and charging more for it. Maybe it's that lack of economic understanding and the diminishing quality of their news that is the cause of reduced revenues, not the alleged "uninformed" public.


More below the fold.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Olbermann Owned

As hard as I try, I just can't seem to fulfill my goal of making Worst Person in the World. Oh well.

Anyway, for those of you who truly loathe Keith Olbermann as much as I do, you will find this Newsbusters story on Greg Gutfield owning Keith Olbermann a nice early Christmas present.

More below the fold.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Long March Toward ...

... Almost Every Socialist Scheme You Can Think Of

I know.  I'm a conspiracy freak... a wing nut ... a simpleton ... a Luddite.

Our federal government has basically nationalized some of our largest banks and insurance companies.  While the Senate may have postponed a "bailout" (read "nationalization") of the big 3 automakers, the Treasury (under a Republican administration no less) is prepared to step in with TARP money (meaning OUR money).

Now, even a solid conservative like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is admitting that socialized medicine is probably inevitable.  Phillip Klein's piece in the American Spectator outlines the Long March that Barack Obama, Tom Daschle, and (our own newly elected) Frank Kratovil want to take us down.

On Wednesday night I attended a Wicomico Planning Commission hearing and listened to a small army of left wing activists attempt to explain that property rights are simply subservient to the "common interest".  Landowners have NO RIGHT to be compensated for their land being taken for the betterment of the collective.  I had to chuckle at the irony of these mostly well meaning folk wearing red flags or ribbons pinned to their clothes.  I thought I was at a meeting of the Young Communists' League.

While mouthing "we have nothing to fear but fear itself", the new crew in town plans on using fear - much of it false - to scare a majority of Americans into finally capitulating as they become servants of the state.  The long march down the road to serfdom is not a single road.  It appears to be winding through Washington, our state capitals AND county courthouses like Salisbury and Centreville.

I know.  I'm just simplistic and paranoid.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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O'Malley - "I Never Shook Blago's Hand"

The Baltimore Sun's Andy Green writes that our fearless leader thinks that the Federal government should spend $500 Billion for infrastructure aid to the states, it's the GOP's fault that taxpayers aren't bailing out the auto companies AND that O'Malley doesn't really know disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich very well.
"I've never shaken the governor's hand," O'Malley said. "I really don't know the man very well."
I shake hands with people I don't know very well all the time.  It's a little hard to believe, but of course we all know that Martin O'Malley would never lie.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings

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