Thursday, April 30, 2009

Barack Obama’s 4/29/09 Press Conference: Speaker Extraordinaire; Policy Wonk; But Quality as Commander-in-Chief Unknown

--Richard E. Vatz

Last night’s presidential press conference, held on Barack Obama’s 100th day in office, was representative of what we already knew about the Chief Executive: he’s rhetorically brilliant (by which I mean persuasively efficacious) – perhaps, if too early to say with certainty, the most brilliant rhetorician in the modern presidency. Furthermore, he is up on all issues -- rarely, it seems, does he appear uninformed. Unfortunately, these qualities do not mean that his policies will turn out well.

He was asked 13 questions in this press conference, and a word or two should be said about the quality of the questions. One expects top media representatives to ask significant questions, and some did, and some did not.

The most inane question was asked by THE NEW YORK TIMES reporter on the president’s list. Jeff Zaleny asked, “During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?”

When a president is rhetorically brilliant, he hits the softballs out of the park, and President Obama did not disappoint on any of them. Most representative: what “enchanted” him the most? He answered, “When I meet our servicemen and women, ‘enchanted’ is probably not the word I would use -- but I am so profoundly impressed and grateful to them for what they do. They’re really good at their job. They are willing to make extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf. They do so without complaint. They are fiercely loyal to this country. And, you know, the more I interact with our servicemen and women, from the top brass down to the lowliest private, I’m just — I’m grateful to them.”

You cannot find me a better, more reassuring Democratic presidential answer to a softball question.

The exceptional questions – some of the best I have ever heard in a presidential press conference – came together, four in a row, by Jake Tapper of ABC, Mark Knoller of CBS Radio, Chuck Todd of NBC, and Jeff Mason of the BOSTON GLOBE. They asked important questions about critical long-term foreign policy: What if the United States’ alleged “torture” is critical to getting information about a hyper-destructive enemy? What is the likelihood of the Pakistani Taliban acquiring that country’s nuclear weapons? Would the violence in Iraq change your timetable for withdrawal (unreferenced: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's saying we’ll never abandon Iraq)?

President Obama fudged the torture question, eliciting a follow-up question by a second reporter (questioners usually could not ask their own follow-ups), Knoller, regarding the claim of its alleged established success in acquiring information to forestall military disaster. The President claimed without evidence that such information can be obtained in other, unspecified ways, and that Vice President Cheney's evidence of effectiveness of intelligence so obtained was classified (which he, the President, incidentally could declassify). The President’s confidence ebbed from beginning to end on the Pakistani Taliban nuclear safety question. Finally, he alluded to none of the difficulties regarding guaranteeing a withdrawal from Iraq, which is why such announcements can be problematic.

The nature of the unbridled euphoria of the first 100 days of a president’s term comes from what the late political scientist, James David Barber, used to call an “active-positive” presidency, the hyper-legislative activity of liberal presidents.

The more serious and sober analysts realize that one has to wait to find out if the policies work.

There was an absence of questioning about the projected deficits, especially after four years, as a consequence of this administration’s hyper-spending. In Sunday’s “60 Minutes” Lesley Stahl could not even raise the matter after establishing that Vice President Joe Biden claimed they will have cut the deficit by the end of this administration's first term.

President Jimmy Carter’s statement in 1979 that the Soviet Union’s attack on Afghanistan gave him insight into that country’s intentions that he had not previously acquired showed he was not ready for a primetime presidency. Even more so, his feckless handling of the Iranian hostage-taking in the last year of his presidency showed why the country was eager to go to a President Ronald Reagan.

So far, President Obama, good rhetoric and good feelings all around, but as some good questioners in your 100 day-in-office press conference implied, we need to wait perhaps for days 1361-1461 in office to find out whether your presidency is good style, but failed substance.

Professor Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania: a Profile in Political Expediency and Lack of Integrity

--Richard E. Vatz

Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter has announced that he will switch parties today to become a Democratic Senator. The switch is politically significant, as it will provide the Democrats with their filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority, despite the Senator’s claim in his statement announcing his intention that he “will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture.”

This article is not to say “good riddance;” it is just to say that Sen. Specter’s decision makes him just another politician without integrity. Political expediency is the motivating force behind his change; he faced a formidable challenge in the upcoming Pennsylvania 2010 presidential primary, and we shall learn soon enough what “incentives” the Democrats have promised him.

Revealingly, last month when there were rumors that he would become an Independent, he said, "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for re-election in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket."

Part of the contract with the voters when you’re elected is that you are aligned with the party on whose ticket you ran for your full term. Many such voters base their vote partly or wholly on the party of their chosen candidate.

Sen. Specter disappointed Republicans when he supported the Democratic stimulus package, opposed the nomination of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court, opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and many other examples provide further questionable credentials as a reliable Republican. No matter; he had no ethical obligation to hew to the party line. The changing of parties in mid-term, though, is a violation of implicit and explicit promises and statements made by Sen. Specter. It makes him simply deceptive.

For whatever full disclosure this opinion requires of the author, I was a big fan and an acquaintance of Pete Flaherty, the former, late Democratic Mayor of Pittsburgh, parenthetically a wonderful human being who never shied away from day-to-day conversation with his constituency and who ate daily in public restaurants. Sen. Specter defeated Pete in 1980 in a close election that this conservative wishes had gone in the other direction. I vote on political matters, but personal integrity usually trumps such considerations.

Just to reiterate: there is no integrity issue with Sen. Arlen Specter’s reputation as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). The ethical issue is the dishonesty in his self-representation as a Republican when he ran in 2004.

Professor Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Phantom of the Obama?

Prez Should Heed Andrew Lloyd Weber's Warning from Across the Pond

The brit has some serious concerns about the UK chasing all of it's wealth-creators out of the country. Martin O'Malley could learn a thing or two from him as well.

Here's the link.

More below the fold.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Rhetoric of "Torture," President Barack Obama, and the Banana Republic Laureates

--Richard E. Vatz

First off, let's be clear that the issue is Bush Administration legal opinions regarding interrogations and what to do about claims of legal errors, not what to do about soldiers' committing war crimes.

As THE WASHINGTON POST tells the story, “President Obama met with top advisers on the evening of April 15…[f]ive CIA directors -- including Leon E. Panetta and his four immediate predecessors – and Obama's top counterterrorism adviser had expressed firm opposition to the release of interrogation details in four ‘top secret’ memos in which Bush administration lawyers sanctioned harsh tactics.”

On the other side of the issue, supporting the release, were Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, whose colleagues during the campaign recall him expressing enthusiasm for fixing U.S. detainee policy.

The POST reports that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates supported the disclosures in part because President Obama had promised “that CIA officers would not be prosecuted for any abuse.”

Once released, the significant fight over the consequences to those who approved, formulated and enacted interrogation policy remained. Despite President Obama’s apparent ambivalence – opposition to holding CIA interrogators responsible followed by lack of clarity as to whether he supports holding legally harmless those who formulated the policy – it appears now that he has rejected the creation of a “truth commission,” a notion supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy.

In addition to Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Leahy, among the usual suspects of irresponsible, retributive policy we find, of course, THE NEW YORK TIMES’ Spitefulness-in-Chief Paul Krugman.

At least the post-release fight may at last have been resolved for the president.

There are serious arguments on both sides, although there are otherwise serious people whose petty ideological vindictiveness is destructive, filled with unintended consequences and defended in an ostentatious exhibition of misleading argument.

Let’s look at Mr. Krugman’s position and arguments of the retributive left. He quotes President Obama’s first publicly known and now well-known disposition on the issue: “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Mr. Krugman then claims that means: “No prosecutions, please; no investigations; we’re just too busy.” Sorry, but that is an intentional misinterpretation and is not what the president’s statement means or was intended to mean.

The president’s position-as-stated is inadequate, but not because what he’s saying is tantamount to saying “we’re just too busy.” It isn’t.

He is saying that recriminations are not fruitful. What he should have said is that enacting retaliatory policy to punish political adversaries is a nasty business, and one which can be taken up by any succeeding administration and/or new Congress. Unless laws are broken in secret, such a policy makes us a banana republic wherein we begin our polity anew by transforming policy differences into criminal acts by the loyal opposition. This entails using the criminal justice system to adjudicate policy differences. Simply put, this is not a proper action for a democratic state.

In assessing the relationship between liberty and order, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson stated that if the court were too ideological and impractical regarding free speech that it would “convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”

As with some Supreme Court decisions, ignored throughout the interrogation controversy is the claim of important positive consequences that resulted. When the country is attacked, the argument regarding appropriate interrogation in terms of consequences has more important sway; when sufficient time has elapsed to give the American people true or false security, arguments on principle become dominant, and consequences are ignored.

Former Vice President Cheney argued, as the POST summarizes, that ”the [Justice Department] memos will make clear that aggressive tactics yielded valuable intelligence information that prevented further terrorist attacks.“

This information is needed before reasonable conclusions can be made regarding the appropriateness of interrogation techniques. Regarding lawyers who gave legal opinions, it would be unconscionable and counter-productive to hold in legal jeopardy those who gave such opinions as professional judgments.

If we ever want to discourage lawyers from honest appraisal of legal questions and ensure that they follow the line of long-term least resistance, just criminalize those judgments after the fact.

President Obama appears at times to be conflicted when he should be resolute. One hopes that he will recognize the danger of turning our country against itself for political retributive purposes.

Professor Vatz teaches political communication at Towson University

More below the fold.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let the Fun Begin!

Long the subject of retirement rumor and speculation, Senator Janet Greenip (R-33) confirmed to the Annapolis Capital that she will be retiring not at the end of her current term but within the next few weeks.

For those not in the know, District 33 is one of the most Republican in the state and a legion of current and former elected officials, among others, have been maneuvering for Senator Greenip's seat if she were to retire (Some even if she did not.).

This announcement will send shockwaves through the Republican community in Anne Arundel county and make what would have been a wide open primary next year into a free for all before the Anne Arundel County Republican State Central Committee in the coming months.

Consider this. All three of the sitting Delegates from District 33 as well as two current members of the County Council want the job and would be able to make legitimate arguments for the appointment. Throw in former elected officials, like former Delegate David Boschert, and even Kendall Ehrlich, rumored to want the job, and the possibility of another opening created by the appointment and you have the recipe for political feeding frenzy the likes of which the Maryland GOP may have never seen.

This story will be riveting!

More below the fold.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bombastic Pomposity

We all know and accept that Dan Rodricks cannot put a logical argument together if he saved his life. But please read his column on gun violence today and try to make some sense of his idiotic conclusions regarding how gun control impacts law abiding citizens.

"REALITY killed the gun control debate," Volensky, the e-mailer from Alabama, went on. "People are finally realizing how foolish 'gun control' is and that they have a RIGHT if not a duty to take responsibility for their own safety. They are finally realizing that criminals are criminals and are not going to obey the laws that hack politicians put in place to appease people such as yourself. They are finally realizing that the only people affected by gun control laws are the law abiding."

There's some truth to that, Bruce.

I'm sure the 13 people who were shot to death at the immigration center in Binghamton were law-abiding, maybe even perfectly peaceful, people. I'm sure the children of Christopher Wood, the Middletown dad who apparently shot them before killing himself, respected the laws, as much as they even had an awareness of them.

Indeed, law-abiding people are profoundly affected by our gun-control laws - the lack of them.

So to recap Rodricks point, the lack of gun control laws are responsibile for senseless killings. The lack of gun control laws, not law-breaking murderers, are responsible for their deaths. And that additional gun control laws would have stopped the Binghamton shootings, shootings that took place in a state with some of the most draconian gun control laws already on the books.

It's not that Rodricks support for gun control offends me so much as his complete lack of logic and a basic understanding of human reasoning. Clearly, in Rodricks elementary view, America needs more of whatever is not working. But taking what isn't working and doing more of it, it will solve the problem.


Then, let's move on to this nugget:
We can keep arguing about this - that it's people, not guns, that cause all the violence. But guns make it easier for disturbed people to kill their spouses or children. Guns are behind most of the gang terror in America, and guns make the mass killings possible.
The following items also make it easier for disturbed people to kill their spouses or children
  • Cars
  • Knives
  • Rope
  • Chains
  • Cords for Window Blinds
  • Icepicks
  • Hammers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Gasoline
  • Box Cutters
This would probably be a good time to also point out that the largest mass murders in American history took place because terrorists used boxcutters to hijack planes. The second largest required a nut job who bought fertilizer and rented a truck. Good times Should we have draconian, unconstitutional on all of those items. Of course not, because that would be idiotic. Just like Rodricks suggestion about guns.

Maybe this would be a good time for Rodricks to actually read something other than the Journolist talking points.....such as yesterday's decision on the right to bear arms from the Ninth Circuit!(!) upholding gun ownership as an individual right, and maybe that will educate him a bit as to why we aren't trying to hinder the basic constitutional rights of Americans.


More below the fold.

Hell Freezes Over

I read the Baltimore Sun this morning and actually agreed with (most of) a column by Tom Schaller.

The truth about speed cameras is that they are designed to generate revenue. If a driver can admit the violation and pay the fine with no points on his or her license, there's clearly no intent to sort out bad drivers from good ones. Although Maryland will use them only near construction sites and schools, one senses a camel's nose poking inside the tent.

Frankly, what's really happening here is an attempt to tax people who are unfamiliar with the location of the cameras, instead of just raising taxes in a more direct way. As I have argued in this space before, modern voters want more spending but insist on never paying higher income or property taxes (a consequence of the anti-tax revolt that began in California in the mid-1960s, was ratcheted up during Ronald Reagan's presidency and grew to new heights of fiscal irresponsibility during George W. Bush's and, yes, Barack Obama's administrations).

Thus, new and creative forms of taxation must be invented: Sin taxes on junk food, users fees on this or that, new lotteries and slots legalization are all an exercise in deluding ourselves into thinking we can somehow mask taxes or foist them on somebody else. I'm wary of proposals to replace the tax code wholesale with a flat income tax or a universal consumption tax. But when the conservatives who support these alternatives complain that the complexities of the tax code are a form of deceit by politicians and self-deceit by voters, they are right.

As for driving while texting (DWT), there is a heavy whiff of political bullying - not to mention political posturing for the coming 2010 state election cycle - in the new law banning the practice. The target of that bullying is younger drivers.

And frankly, I'm as stunned as you that a liberal Democrat would actually talk sensibly about these issue. Schaller is right in hat Democrats find speed cameras, red-light cameras, and things of this ilk to be nothing more than revenue enhancers. Take a look at this case from Montana:
Yellow times may shorten as the city of Billings, Montana rushes to install red light cameras before the state legislature has a chance to ban them. The Billings City Council voted 8-3 Monday to empower Redflex Traffic Systems, a private company based in Melbourne, Australia, to issue automated traffic citations in return for a cut of the revenue collected. Billings needs to act quickly because the state legislature last Thursday entered into final negotiations on legislation that would ban red light cameras.

After the House had passed legislation banning red light cameras without conditions, state Senator John Brueggeman (R-Polson) added a grandfather clause to the bill that would allow Billings, Bozeman and any other city that enters into a contract before the bill is signed to issue photo tickets without limitation. House members voted 58-42 against this loophole and insisted on convening a conference committee with the Senate to negotiate the final language.

In a memorandum to the city council, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John foresees the prospect of increased revenue from shortened yellow warning phases at intersections equipped with red light cameras.

"Changes in the yellow times after red light camera systems are in place and operational will affect the number of photographed violations, increasing the number of violations when yellow times are shortened and reducing the number of violations when yellow times are lengthened," St. John explained in a memo dated April 8.

So yeah, cameras the Big Brother-esque expansion of traffic cameras are little more than ways to extract a few more bucks from you, the taxpayer. This would be a good time to remind you that you can join the effort to petition the Speed Camera bill to the ballot by joining at


More below the fold.

Memo to Judd Legum

All of those people you say allegedly support the President's economic policies.....yeah, where are they again?

As short-term optimism about the economy has grown in recent months, so has the concern that the federal governmentwill do too much in response to the nation’s recent economic challenges.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of the nation’s Likely Voters now worry that the government will do too much. That’s up from 50% a month ago and 43% in mid-February. It’s the highest level of concern measured since Barack Obama was elected president.

To put this simply so Legum can understand.....more than half the country is worried that the government is going to go too far is trying to manage the economy. Maybe that explains why over 500,000 people across the country attended tea parties last week.

Here is a graph so that maybe Legum cam understand what we are talking about here:

There are other stats there that continued to debunk Judd Leugm's space cadet philosophy on the economy. But you need only too look around to notice that people are vehemently opposed to this President's economic policies. And the more the President and Congress spend, the more likely it is Republicans will succeed in 2010 and 2012.


More below the fold.

More False Consciousness

Last week I wrote about Issac Smith's use of the false consciousness trope to demean conservatives. Well it looks like Smith is a piker on the JV squad. Behold the craptacular Janeane Garofalo, the gold standard of awesomness in using the false consciousness.

Excuse me, I have to go stop my limbic brain from pushing against my frontal lobe.

More below the fold.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Genuflection? Yes We Can!

It's not like we didn't already know that CNN is in the bag for Barack Obama. But I think this goes above and beyond the pale of expectations:

CNN is marking President Barack Obama's 100th day in office with prime-time coverage that will recall election night last year. John King is even bringing back the "magic wall."

The network says it will compile a national report card of Obama's performance, using opinion polls and a series of viewer surveys.

The big night is a week from Wednesday, pre-empting regular programming.

Most of the commentators and CNN regulars who appeared during primary nights and the general election will be there. King's giant touch screen will be adapted to track where stimulus money is going.
Seriously? His 100th day in office necessitates live team coverage, program preemption, and a cast of thousands?

If one were cynical, one might argue that CNN is trying to curry favor with a President who is losing popularity faster than you can shake a stick at, while continuing to squander away the economy and our tax dollars despite the protests of millions. But only if one were cynical......


More below the fold.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Maryland General Assembly’s Death Penalty Folly: An IIlustrative Application of Reckless Legislation

Patrick Albert Byers Jr. has been convicted by a federal jury in the contract killing of Carl Stanley Lackl, an innocent and brave witness to Byers’ running with a gun from a killing.

After Byers’ arrest and about a week before his trial, Mr. Lackl was prepared to testify against him, but was executed by killers hired by Byers.

Byers had offered $2500 for the contract killing.

In a previous blog (March 29, 2009) I wrote about the ill-considered, highly irresponsible death penalty changes wreaked on this state by the intelligent-but-judgment-challenged members of Maryland’s General Assembly.

The changes, in lieu of eliminating the death penalty – an even more irresponsible goal – will limit use of the death penalty, as described in THE BALTIMORE SUN, to cases wherein evidence includes “DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer.”

Thus, the death penalty will not be eliminated, but will be eviscerated.

One of the primary concerns I articulated in my RED MARYLAND blog regarding the evidentiary changes required for seeking the death penalty (as well, of course, the eventual goal of eliminating of the death penalty) was that “incarcerated accused felons’ contracting with third parties to kill witnesses and convicts’ ordering killings or threats by cohorts will be punishment-free.”

When the next accused or convicted murderer in Maryland subsequently successfully orders another killing, you can thank the 2009 Maryland General Assembly and Governor. Murderers may not be as bright as those legislators who have paved the way for consequence-free murders, but the felons know how to avoid providing evidence that would make them eligible for the death penalty. The changes in the evidence required to seek the death penalty constitute a contract between would-be murderers and the state of Maryland.

Nice arrangement, and innocent, brave witnesses be damned.

There was no “DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer” in the murder of Mr. Lackl.

Unlike in Maryland courts, the death penalty may be invoked in this terrible case. The attorney for Byers is aware that the only issue for the convicted murderer is whether he is now sentenced to die, saying “It’s life or death.” If it’s not death, the killing of Mr. Lackl is virtually punishment-free.

The Maryland General Assembly will not suffer for their appallingly bad judgment. They don’t even publicly address the criticisms of their actions.

Professor Vatz is a professor at Towson University
See below an important announcement regarding The Ron Smith Show Fans Monthly Meeting:

Do you value getting your news from a variety of sources including talk radio? Do you want to meet like-minded people? Join us!

What: The Ron Smith Show Fans Monthly Meeting

When: Friday, April 24 at 5:15-7:15pm

Where: HighTopps Backstage Grille in Timonium off York Rd. just north of the MD State Fairgrounds [parking is available directly across the street from the restaurant].

Why: Dave Wallace, organizer of Maryland Republican Meetup and host of a conservative radio show, will talk to us about his grassroots conservative vision for Maryland and for influencing 2010 elections. Then we’ll continue the informed discussion Ron brings up on the air and discuss ways to galvanize the conservative movement. Please bring something you have researched and want to discuss!

RSVP: Suzanne at Come on by! We want your ideas. To learn more, visit

More below the fold.

The EPA's Gun to Our Head

The EPA has issued a proposed announcement that greenhouse gasses “contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare,” and that it has the authority to regulate emissions from new motor vehicles under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Aside: Technically this finding could give the EPA authority to regulate human breathing as that process also emits carbon dioxide.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a proposal regarding GHS and the CAA stating:

The Administrator is proposing to find that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methan (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons(PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. This is referred to as the endangerment finding.

The Administrator is further proposing to find that the combined emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.

Of course the EPA added meaningless throw away language about how this doesn’t automatically trigger any new industry regulation. However, as the Background portion of the EPA announcement states; this proposal is the outcome of the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court decision, itself a result of a “petition for rulemaking under section 202(a) filed by more than a dozen environmental, renewable energy, and other organizations.”

You can bet the NRDC, and the renewable barons didn’t waste their cash to not implement new command/control regulations or advance their own rent seeking goals. Just read the EPA’s July 2008 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making and you will see the train wreck for small business buried in the regulatory minutiae

That the endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade threatening the economy is abundantly documented in EPA’s July 2008 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) and numerous comments on it. The endangerment finding will compel EPA to establish GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles under CAA §202, which in turn will make carbon dioxide (CO2) a pollutant “subject to regulation” under the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program. In addition, the finding will be precedential for the endangerment test that initiates a National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) rulemaking.

No small business could operate under the PSD administrative burden, even apart from any technology investments the firm might have to make to qualify for a permit. An estimated 1.2 million previously unregulated entities (office buildings, big box stores, enclosed malls, hotels, apartment buildings, even commercial kitchens) would become “major stationary sources” for PSD purposes. All would be vulnerable to new regulation, monitoring, paperwork, penalties, and litigation, the moment they undertake to build new facilities or modify existing ones. The flood of PSD permit applications would overwhelm EPA and State agency administrative resources, subjecting “major” sources to additional costs, delays, and uncertainties. A more potent Anti-Stimulus package would be difficult to imagine.

Since EPA plans to find endangerment on both health and welfare grounds, the Agency could be compelled to establish “primary” (health-based) NAAQS for GHGs. Logically, the standard would be set below current atmospheric levels. Even very stringent emission limitations applied worldwide over a century would likely be insufficient to lower GHG concentrations. Yet the CAA requires EPA to ensure attainment of primary NAAQS within five or at most 10 years—and it forbids EPA to take costs into account. Regulate CO2 under the NAAQS program and there is, in principle, no economic hardship that could not be imposed on the American people.

Also take note of the constitutional issue at play here:

To contain the economic fallout from an endangerment finding, EPA, in the ANPR,essentially proposes to rewrite portions of the CAA. EPA,… What this and other (though less blatant) examples in the ANPR reveal is that EPA cannot regulate
CO2under the CAA and avoid a regulatory nightmare unless the Agency plays lawmaker and amends the Act—violating the separation of powers. If, on the other hand, EPA allows the statutory logic of the CAA to unfold, America could easily end up with emission controls far more costly and intrusive than any cap-and-trade proposal Congress has rejected or declined to pass. We could get a Mega-Kyoto system without the people’s elected representatives ever voting on it.

Rather than decry this peril to the economy and the polity, some Obama Administration officials and Members of Congress—and many activists—brandish the endangerment finding as a tool of legislative extortion. Their increasingly audible threat: “Enact the Waxman-Markey bill, or we’ll unleash the CAA on the economy.”

Alarmists will point to the “science” behind the EPA’s technical support document for its finding. However, if you dig into the report, you’ll find that is relies on the same flawed computer models that have failed to line up with actual observed data regarding climate change. Furthermore, the report was written and reviewed by avowed global warming alarmists. For example Gavin Schmidt is listed as “an expert reviewer.” Schmidt is James Hansen’s spokesman at NASA. When he’s not hawking Hansen’s latest rants, Schmidt blogs—on the taxpayer’s dime—at the Soros funded, a project of green PR firm Fenton Communications, Cindy Sheehan’s former spokesman. Fenton is another issue itself, see here and here how their black marketing smear tactics at work.

The report also lists Joel Smith Stratus Consulting as assisting with producing the report. Stratus is part of the great global warming funding scheme. Stratus makes its money off of alarmism. From their website:

We assist clients in the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, impacts, and adaptation. We offer capabilities in modeling of emissions and control options, analysis of vulnerability to climate change, and use of decision analytic techniques to assess adaptation options. We can identify innovative and cost-effective solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ways to adapt to climate change.

Smith is also a proponent of self-insisting theories, i.e., even though observed temperature data showing the there was no statistically significant warming since 1997 didn’t match his flawed modeling and portents of doom, he still insisted that “it is now more likely than not that human activity has contributed to observed increases in heat waves, intense precipitation events, and the intensity of tropical cyclones.” Yeah right.

No matter their clever little tricks, this EPA ruling is the equivalent of environmentalists holding a gun to our heads demanding their economy crushing policies. If they can’t win through the normal democratic process, they will use unelected technocrats and unconstitutional means to get their way.

More below the fold.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In case you hadn't heard.....

......there is a new effort to bring the speed camera bill to referendum during the 2010 General Election.

Learn more about how you can help at:


More below the fold.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Brian Griffiths Minute: 04-16-2009


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cooking the Books

One tool in the progressive bag o’ tricks in smear campaign to discredit the Tea Parties is to cite opinion polling, which they claim put the Tea Party movement as a “distinct minority.”

However, its all a dishonest gimmick.

National Review’s media blog via Ed Morrissey notes how the New York Times cooked the books on its poll.

The NYT/CBS poll cooked the books. Buried on page 23 of the report is the partisan breakdown of the sample group. As it turns out, the news outlets surveyed 39 percent Democrats, 23 percent Republicans, and the rest independent or unaffiliated voters. That's a whopping 16 point spread between the D's and R's. Rassmussen, by contrast, pegs the actual partisan gap at about 5 percentage points.

Judd Legum, who John Podhoretz called “unbelievably dishonest” pulled the same stunt.

Here’s Legum:

Those involved with organizing the protests appear to be a distinct minority. According to a recent Pew Poll, 66% of Americans believe that “Barack Obama’s policies will improve economic conditions in the country.”

Only that is not true. If you read the actual question, it asks, “Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic that Barack Obama's policies will improve economic conditions in the country?” Legum’s word games aside, optimism is distinctly not belief.

Furthermore, if you dig into the Pew report you find that that the sample is skewed toward Democrats, by seven points. Not as whopping a difference as the NYT/CBS poll, but still higher than the more accurate Rassmussen finding.

More below the fold.

He's Still Unoriginal

He may not be running the fever swamp of Free State Politics, but that “budding young energy policy wonk,” Isaac Smith is still banging away on the keyboard typing arguments rather than making them.

Isaac is an acolyte of the old Marxist false consciousness argument. The false consciousness—perfected by Thomas Frank—goes like this. If you disagree with the left on economic or cultural matters you’ve been brainwashed or are mentally disturbed.

To wit: Isaac’s snot-nosed criticism of the Tea Party movement.

To watch the conservative movement these days is rather bizarre, alternating as it does between borderline psychosis and a cluelessness that rivals Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers movie.

And there you have it, the sine qua non of progressive “argument” against conservatives. You don’t need to pay attention to them they are just crazy loons.

Of course, this is to be expected from a guy who runs away at the slightest hint of having to make an argument.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What happens when you get libs and conservatives to agree?

Do you get all Kum-ba-ya and filled with the warm glow of "Bipartisanship"?

More likely, (like last night at Sine Die) you get a bill so screwed up that neither side likes it. Many on both sides voted against it, those who are in favor of coddling illegals, or those who want to ship them south. Unfortunately, even the rightys and the wrongys/leftys were outnumbered (barely) by those who actually passed this steaming pile of stuff. The drivers-licenses-for-illegals debate we were led to believe would be one of either strict adherence to the letter (if not the spirit) of the law, or a two-tiered contraption.

What we got, thanks to a conference committee, was a monstrosity that gets tough on those illegals... in 2015?! What the hey? That is touted as dealing with this situation on a "date certain", a date that is way overdue. That will be 14 years after 9-11! Yeah, that's gettin' tough alright! My foot it is! The illegal sympathizers are not happy either, I guess they feel 2015 is being too tough. It stops future "undocumented" immigrants from getting new licenses, how very mean of us!?

It passed, but with not enough votes to be considered an "emergency" piece of legislation. So it will take place June 1st. What a laugh if it had been considered an "emergency" that doesn't kick in 'til 2015. Talk about oxy-moronic!

Please people, come out to the Tea Parties. Predicted rain is no excuse! Even if you have to wear 2 raincoats and carry 3 umbrellas, we gotta stop this insanity!

ADDENDUM: Please check out the comment Martin Watcher made to this post to get more of the story, and to learn of the sneaky way libs voted against the bill on purpose for what may be nefarious reasons- Thanks MW!

More below the fold.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thanks for playing along

Republicans, conservatives, and sane people in the state of Maryland have been saying for some time now that fiscal policy during the the 2009 Legislative Session has been nothing like the common sense fiscal changes our state truly needs. We have been saying for some time (even going back to the 2007 Special Session) that O'Malleynomics was no way to run a state, and that the Democrats tactic of gaming the system now to forestall actual fiscal decisions until later was no way to solve the budget crisis.

Nice to know that the Baltimore Sun and the rest of the state have caught up:

But all that effort still won't put the state on solid, long-term financial footing.

Even with the influx of federal stimulus money, the General Assembly will reconvene in nine months facing a budget gap that analysts expect will reach more than $1 billion.
That's right. The Democrats mismanagement of the budget situation this year has already sunk us $1 billion into the red for next year. And if there is any solace in the fact that the Democrats can't lead their way out of a paper bag on economic issues, it's this following fact:
And, some would argue, it might be the worst possible time for Gov. Martin O'Malley and lawmakers to make unpopular cuts that could include layoffs or curtailing services.

After all, it will be an election year. The governor is expected to seek a second term, and all 188 General Assembly seats will be on the ballot.

"Next year is going to be enormously challenging, and that's an understatement," said Warren G. Deschenaux, the legislature's chief fiscal analyst, who has pointed out to lawmakers that the next budget they craft will take effect four months before they face re-election.
That's right. The Democrats are going to have to eat their long-standing, long-developed budget disaster at precisely the time they hope the voters are not going to notice.

Now, the last time we had an incumbent running for Governor was in 1998. In that year, the state increased social spending and passed a significant tax cut in order to head off at the pass any momentum that Ellen Sauerbrey might have had going into her rematch against Parris Glendening. It seems like it will be impossible for the Democrats to do either next year given the deficit that O'Malley and legislative leadership has already dug for themselves.

Just wait until 275 days from today, when the General Assembly reconvenes in Annapolis (unless Governor O'Malley reconvenes them in Special Session for some cockamamie reason). And the Democrats, who have already ruled out both spending cuts and tax cuts, are going to have to try and figure out how to get out of the ocean of red ink they made for themselves. And we all know who is going to wind up paying in the end; the taxpayers.

Is is any wonder that tax prostests are popping up all over the country, particularly here in Maryland? Maryland Democrats have proven time and time again that they are incompetent stewards of our taxpayer dollars, and incapable of learning the basic economic lessons that the majority of Marylanders have known for years; that you can't spend your way out of debt.

And I think that come next November, the middle and working class families of Maryland who Democrats are continually screwing over are going to say "enough is enough"......


More below the fold.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sad Irony

Does anyone else see the sad, cruel irony in the fact that the Obama girls new dog is a "water dog" given to them by Ted Kennedy??

It's almost as ironic as Martin O'Malley quoting (during his State-of-the-State speech) from a lady who was afraid of not being able to pay her electric bill. Now I'm sure he'll spin a defeat of his re-regulation legislation as an excuse not to really reign in such electric bills.

What other irony will Sine Die bring us?

More below the fold.


Our good friend Judd Legum is in complete denial about the anti-tax movement sweeping the country. Legum, who takes offense to the fact that somebody carried this sign around a tea party protest elsewhere, has this smart-ass comment:

Those involved with organizing the protests appear to be a distinct minority.
Mind you:
The fact of the matter is that Legum and the rest of the extreme left in this country do not understand the problems the Tea Party crowd has with them. Namely the fact that we alreay pay too much in taxes and that irresponsible spending that puts our nation further and further in debt is not supported by the preponderance of Americans.

If Legum wants to come out and support higher taxes, more staist government, and the continued dimunition of economic and personal liberty, he can own it all he wants. But Legum is in a considerably large state of denial if he thinks he is anything but far, far, FAR outside the modern American mainstream. Then again, that shouldn't be a surprise, given the low opinion that a lot of Democrats I have spoken with have for Legum....

I dare Legum to have a counter, anti-Tea Party protest on Wednesday. See how many people show up for that one, skippy.


More below the fold.

Got Championships? We Do!

Congrats to the Baltimore Blast for their win of the 2009 Championship against the Rockford Rampage.

Delegate Tony McConkey's brother (Bowie native Scott Buete) is on the team. Congrats to him and his teammates for another great win! This marks the 6th championship the Blast has won since 1984. It is also the new National Indoor Soccer League's debut championship contest.

More below the fold.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Electricity Re-regulation: It Aint Happening

A source tells me that O'Malley's electricity re-regulation bill was rebuffed by the House Economic Matters Committee 21-2. Ouch!

Any re-regulation could have led to increased electricity rates. Of course, that particular outcome is to be expected with this governor running things.

Unfortunately O'Malley found another way to jack up our electricity rates--by following a policy even New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and the US Senate now decry.

Reducing electricity rates is the failed campaign promise that just won't die.
I'd laugh at all this, but I have energy bills too.

More below the fold.

President Barack Obama's Foreign Policy à la Carter: the Embarrassment of Power and Blame America First

--Richard E. Vatz

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the first woman U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and preeminent Reaganophile, must be turning over in her grave. Scratch that: she would regard such a reaction as non-productive; she must be trying to warn us from the grave.

In her famous "Blame America First" speech at the 1984 Republican National Convention, she praised the Democrats of the President Harry Truman vintage: "They were not afraid to be resolute nor ashamed to speak of America as a great nation. They didn't doubt that we must be strong enough to protect ourselves and to help others. They didn't imagine that America should depend for its very survival on the promises of its adversaries. They happily assumed the responsibilities of freedom."

Seeing the Jimmy Carter presidency as representing the opposite ethic, she pilloried that administration, saying "The Carter administration's motives were good, but their policies were inadequate, uninformed and mistaken."

We have the identical situation today with the Obama presidency.

Jeane Kirkpatrick ended her "Blame America First" speech with these words: "The American people know that it's dangerous to blame ourselves for terrible problems that we did not cause. They understand just as the distinguished French writer, Jean Francois Revel, understands the dangers of endless self- criticism and self-denigration. He wrote: 'Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.' "

Does anyone want to argue that sending additional troops to Afghanistan is evidence to the contrary of President Obama's neo-pacifism and embarrassment regarding the United States' power?

On "60 Minutes" weeks ago President Obama was already talking of an "exit strategy" in Afghanistan to avoid the sense that there would be "perpetual drift." Conservatives have warned for decades that talking of an exit strategy gives our enemies the sense that all they have to do is wait us out, especially when we go in announcing our intention to leave as soon as possible.

In his finest column of memory -- and the competition there is great -- THE WASHINGTON POST's Charles Krauthammer writes on April 10 that President Obama's weakness in foreign policy is recently manifested in his laughable paper tiger response to the North Korean "brazen defiance" of a U.N. resolution "prohibiting" their use of a missile launch. Such weakness, Krauthammer argues, has been quite consequential already, energizing the appeasement reflexes of the "international community" and the "United Nations," as well as the aggressive impulses of Russia and China. Our NATO allies refuse the President's requests for troops and refuse his requests for more stimulus spending. But there is clearly more liking for President Obama than there was for President Bush -- and less fear. Why? Because President Obama is the past master of the embarrassment of power: the serial apology. Krauthammer counts the ways: indicting America's "arrogance...dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world."

The foreign policy style of President Obama is perfectly understood as that of a bright, inexperienced neophyte whose top priority is the idealism of the "Yes, we can" ethic: a world which likes the United States, likes our president and fears us not at all. President Obama will likely reap what he sows.

The prediction here is that we are headed into a new era in foreign policy, an era marked by everyone's liking the United States and its president more than ever. On the downside, we shall face an explosion of nuclear proliferation, the weakening of democracy and the increase of threats to America's allies and America's interests around the world.

Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons and the eventual premature withdrawal from Afghanistan in conjunction with President Obama's new ethic will be indisputable proof of the coming of the Jimmy Carter foreign policy redux.

Ambassador Kirkpatrick, we miss you more than ever.

Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Way to Spend Your Saturday Morning...

With me and the Ehrlichs on WBAL AM 1090. I'll be on from 9:30-10:30 discussing all things session. Speed cameras, death penalty, drivers licenses, energy, spending, etc...

More below the fold.

The New Video of the Week

I just wanted to pass along the latest work from our video production crew (ok so the crew is just one guy but he's putting together some quality work).

More below the fold.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Not So Fast Mr. Hancock

I like Jay Hancock and respect his wisdom on many things. However, his Sun column about green energy incentives leaves out a lot of why they cost more than they purport to save you.

Thanks to the recently passed federal stimulus bill, Maryland energy grants and a maturation of the alternative energy industry, the incentives to go green in big ways and small are higher than they've ever been.Wind-generated electricity is the cheapest in history. Government and utilities will pay for huge portions of insulation upgrades, efficient appliances and solar installations. And anybody can shave $100 off his or her electric bill this summer by letting Baltimore Gas & Electric briefly shut off their air conditioning on the hottest days...

You'll help the planet, save on taxes, stimulate the economy and reap lower BGE bills.

First, none of these green incentives will “save the planet.” Europe’s alternative energy boom and emissions trading scheme hasn’t reduced carbon emissions one gram. Furthermore, even if all developed nations met their Kyoto targets and held them through the century it would produce a meaningless seven hundredths of a degree change in global temperature.

What Hancock doesn’t tell you is that while wind power is “cheapest in history” it and other renewable energies are heavily subsidized by the federal government to the tune of $4.9 billion. See the chart below. While wind may be an attractive 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, the federal government has already given your money to the wind barons so they can offset the fact that their product is more expensive to generate and transmit than fossil fuel generated electricity, along with being extremely unreliable.

The $3.27 trillion stimulus and state grants, guess who pays for them? You do. Actually with the stimulus your grandchildren are going to pay for you to weatherize of your house and install that solar array.

Don’t forget that the “EmPower Maryland” bill allows utilities to charge you for their conservation programs. Furthermore, through the “EmPower” law the PSC allowed state utilities to implement decoupling. As Streiff explained it two years ago decoupling allows utilities:

to bill the customer for the cost of electricity (or gas) and for the cost of maintaining the distribution system. The utility is still guaranteed a return on its investment regardless of the amount of electricity used which means that we, as consumers, will pay more per kilowatt-hour (kWh) used if everyone conserves energy.

He also notes an EPA document on decoupling, which is worth repeating here.

Decoupling profit and sales volume is an option for overcoming utilities’ built-in incentive to increase shareholder profits by selling a greater volume of electricity (a.k.a. “throughput incentive”) and disincentive to implement energy efficiency and demand management programs that reduce sales. Typically, when profits are decoupled from sales, the utility is entitled to revenues needed to cover its fixed costs, including profits. If sales exceed projected levels, the revenue in excess of the allowed revenue is returned to customers by adjustments to the next year’s rates. Similarly, if sales are below anticipated levels, the customers make up for lost revenues in the next year’s rates. The cost of fuel and purchased power are generally treated separately and are passed on to customers though needed increases or decreases in prices.

Meaning that not matter how much you weatherize your home or conserve energy you are still subject to rate increases and higher monthly bills. Case in point, Amina Gauhar, who told the Sun that, “she has new appliances, replaced her windows and doors and installed energy-efficient lights. Still, her bills more than doubled, to $240 in January and $222 in February.”

Keep in mind Constellation has pending request for a rate increase this summer too.

So, when you allow BGE to control your thermostat this summer, you could end up paying more to use less energy.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

The "Progressive" blogosphere is all a flutter about the fact that ThinkProgress founder and former Hillary Clinton research director Judd Legum is running for the House of Delegates in Maryland, targeting conservative Republican incumbent Delegate Ron George. This of course has the folks at Kos, MyDD, HuffPo and other places tripping all of themselves proclaiming Legum as the next big thing and the "first national blogger to run for office" (never mind the fact that RedState's own Erick Erickson ran for and was elected to the Macon City Council two years ago).

Like most activists on the fringe left, Judd Legum is a big believer in campaign finance reform and public financing of campaigns. This of course would require a whole new bureaucracy and funding source just to fund campaings out of the public trough here in Maryland. It would also require campaigns to follow to a T a whole slew of new filing and campaign finance requirements in order to comply with the public funding plan the Legum and his ilk want to see.

Which brings me back to Legum and his current campaign. Legum has already raised a decent sum from his campaign via ActBlue. But you see, in Maryland you are required to a do a few things before you can start organizing a political campaign and raising money. This includes filing a statement of organization and opening a dedicated bank account for campaign activities. However Maryland's online database of campaign finance entities does not contain any information about Legum filing the appropriate paperwork that would allow him to legally raise campaign contributions.

This is not the only issue that Legum has when it comes to campaign finance issues. Maryland law also requires that each item of campaign material must contain an authority line on it indicating who produced it. That authority line must contain the name or address of the individual producing the material unless an appropriate entity is on file with the State Board of Elections. Legum's website, on which he is soliciting donations for his campaign for the House of Delegates, contains no such authority line.

Both of these violations are pretty serious. Even the seemingly minor issue of an authority line is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, and a prohibition from seeking public office for four years.

At issue of course is the holier than thou nature of progressives like Judd Legum. Legum and folks like him want to continue to regulate our campaigns, regulate our lives even, to the highest extent possible. And when the continual burden of over-regulation continues, everybody at some point seems to find themselves in violation of a law one way or another. Legum will probably cry foul and explain that these issues are merely "oversights" on his part, however the issues that we have here are very serious indeed.

Legum's problem is the same as the of many a progressive: do as I say, not as a I do. His seeming failure to follow even the most basic of Maryland campaign finance laws goes a long way towards proving that many on the fringe left believe in holding politicians to the fullest extent of the law only until the point in which it inconveniences them.....


More below the fold.

U.S. Corporations’ Few Bad Men: The Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes’ Heads-up on a Fox Abomination

--Richard E. Vatz

When in 1962 the steel industry raised prices, constituting what President John F. Kennedy thought was an unjustifiable increase, he famously said, “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons-of-bitches, but I never believed him until now.”

I must make my biases clear before revealing a rare (for me) conniption: I do not think that all or even most businessmen are sons-of-bitches; in fact, the ones with whom I am familiar are ethically solid and largely responsible for America’s economic greatness, which is in brief respite now.

Lisa de Moraes, one of my favorite journalistic critics, of THE WASHINGTON POST, which incidentally has several other excellent ones including Howard Kurtz and periodic critic Paul Farhi, exposed the fact that Fox, my otherwise favorite network, “is in production on ‘Someone’s Gotta Go,’ ” a “reality series.”

Let Moraes summarize what the show is about: “Each week, a different company will be showcased. Each week, that company's boss or owner will call the employees together and tell them someone has to be laid off. He or she will give the employees all the available information about one another -- salaries, job evaluations, etc. -- and let them decide who gets the pink slip.” They will be assisted by a professional “business coach,” who will abet the firing decision.

Is there a decent human being who could participate in such a sadistic-without-redeeming-features enterprise?

David Goldberg, CEO of Endemol, the partner-in-crime in producing this outrage with head Fox reality show-creator Mike Darnell, sniggers that the show is propitiously timed because, after all, what could be more “relevant and topical than people in financial difficulties?” The one outstanding question is whether Goldberg and Darnell are more sadistic or cowardly: no boss may be fired on this show.

Asked by Moraes about the legality of revealing employees’ job evaluations and other personnel matters on national television, they wouldn’t answer. Surprised that cowardice and sadism correlate with sneakiness and evasiveness? You shouldn’t be.

I would never suggest that viewers boycott the advertisers and participating corporations involved in this barbarian show…but what could be a more condign punishment for those responsible for publicly humiliating the actual “people in financial difficulties?”

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University

More below the fold.

How to Debate a Climate Alarmist

Watch Marc Morano own Climate Progress blogger and Al Gore Sycophant Joe Romm. Note how Romm never really argues his case, just personally attacks Morano and spouts off vapid appeals to authority. No wonder alarmists claim the debate is over, they get their clocks cleaned anytime they actually do debate.

Part 1

Part 2

More below the fold.

Why Is This Man Supporting Porn At UM?

Why is Malcolm Harris, perennial loser in school elections, making taxpayer subsidized porn a central issue in his campaign to become president of Maryland's student government?

He really should be asked how he can justify this nonsense in the context of a campaign that claims it will reduce sexual assaults on the UM campus and stop the University contractors from using "sweatshop" labor practices considering the well documented social pathologies that stem from pornography.

Even if he doesn't think that the production of porn is degrading to the women involved or that it encourages some men, usually physically unattractive and socially inept losers. to dehumanize women, or that women in porn often have no more options than a woman working in a "sweatshop" somewhere were there are lots of brown people he can patronize, he should realize that there is more than a free speech issue here and he's not Larry Flynt.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fool me once, shame on you....

....but apparently, you can get fooled again:

Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to introduce emergency legislation Wednesday that would give the state authority to acquire Maryland's bankrupt horse racing tracks and the Preakness through eminent domain, officials confirmed.

However, legal experts say the bankruptcy filing by the tracks' owner could prevent the state from exercising that power.

Debate on the bill, which has the backing of the General Assembly's presiding officers, could begin as soon as Thursday afternoon in a joint hearing of Senate and House of Delegates lawmakers.

The last-minute legislation was prompted in part, O'Malley aides said, by reports last week that a Pikesville developer was interested in razing Pimlico Race Course -- where the Preakness has been run since 1909 - and turning the Northwest Baltimore property into a shopping center.
Of course, does anybody remember how this turned out the last time that the State of Maryland tried to seize a sports property through eminent domain? Mark Newgent mentioned it last summer, and it didn't quite work and looked kinda like this:
The dramatic move enraged citizens and officials of Baltimore, and the state of Maryland. Irsay's son Jim said moving the team was a difficult decision, and one his father had hoped not to have to make. The final straw, necessitating the dramatic move, was action by the Maryland legislature to use eminent domain laws to force the franchise to remain in Maryland.
So, thanks for that.

Now, as the article notes this is probably not going to get too far due to the bankruptcy proceedings. But this brings a whole slew of questions into the mix:
  1. Why is this emergency legislation? How can this even remotely pass constituional muster?
  2. Why is this a priority?
  3. If the state has the right of first refusal to buy the property, why are we trying exactly to seize it?
  4. Even if we did buy it, how can the state afford it as we are (as usual) in an O'Malley-induced budget crunch?
I get the fact that the Preakness is important to Maryland, but in the grand scheme of things it is not so important that we need to seize it and operate it as a state entity. The fact that O'Malley and Legislative Democrats didn't learn from our first foray into these type of shenanigans proves that once again O'Malley and company are looking at the short term instead of the long-term picture. Because if I owned a business in Maryland, I'd be a little concerned that they would come after my business and my property next. This is a great way though to reaffirm Maryland's longstanding anti-business climate, though...

At the end of the day O'Malley and Company are (again) treading where they don't belong, and once again the taxpayers of Maryland are going to get to foot the bill for their inability to learn from the past...


More below the fold.

Unintentional Honesty from Ben Cardin

Ben Cardin was a bit too honest with the Washington Post than I think he meant to be...

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin(D-Md.) called cap-and-trade "the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time," and said it would be difficult to pass without reconciliation because Democrats would be forced to accommodate a handful of Republicans as they did in the debate over the president's stimulus package. Although winning use of the maneuver is unlikely, Cardin said, "a lot of us don't want to give up without a fight."

A fight Cardin lost, as the Senate voted 67-31 mandating that cap and trade would need 60 votes to pass their chamber.

There are 122 Democratic representatives in Congress (96 in the House, 26 in the Senate) from 25 states that get over 50% or more of their energy, above the national average, from coal. These pols understand that cap and trade will increase energy costs on their constituents and endanger their reelection chances in 2010.

After all, who do you think Ben Cardin has in mind to pay for the "most significant revenue proposal of our time."

But watermelons have no fear, St. Martin the Green has swooped in to save us from global warming.

h/t Planet Gore

More below the fold.

Martin O'Malley: He Brings Higher Utility Bills to Life

From my column in today's DC Examiner:

Maryland legislators voted to increase energy costs for Marylanders when they approved Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. The bill is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, 25% below 2006 levels by 2020...

Maryland politicians routinely ignore economic reality to appease special interests. In this case, they are relying on a bogus Climate Action Report funded by politically powerful special interest environmental advocacy groups.

Economic analysis of the report revealed that it failed “to quantify the monetary benefits of reduced GHG emissions rendering its cost savings estimates implausible if not downright unbelievable.” It’s also unbelievable that O’Malley is advocating higher electricity rates, given his unfulfilled campaign promise to lower them.

Public opinion polling on global warming has shown a distinct shift towards skepticism. It now appears that O’Malley and the Democratic majority in Annapolis are on the wrong side of science, economics, and public opinion. Unfortunately, consumers and rate payers will bear the burden of their costly mistake.

Attention District 30 residents: The latest aspirant to serve you in the House of Delegates, Judd Legum unabashedly supports the same policies, which will increase your energy costs.

More below the fold.

Monday, April 6, 2009

At it Again

Well, Judd Legum is at it again, and he's getting this lying thing down pretty pat, because he got caught in another bold-faced lie. Legum apparently is running for the House of Delegates here in Anne Arundel County in District 30 (as if the district couldn't be any more poorly represented by Speaker Busch and by Delegate Virginia Clagett, but alas) and he is targeting incumbent Republican Delegate Ron George.

Legum of course thinks of himself to be quite the hotshot, so he told the blog The Plum Line this litte doozy:

Still, Legum is better known for his work at Think Progress, and this campaign could be a historic first in a sense. Legum tells us he’s pretty certain that he’s the first national blogger to attempt a campaign for elected office, and as best as I can determine, he’s right.
Which of course is patently ridiculous when you consider the fact that RedState Chairman Erick Erickson was elected to the City Council of Macon, Georgia two years ago (though really blogger Greg Sargent is at just at big of fault for doing no fact checking whatsoever).

I get that Judd Legum seems to think a lot of himself (and why not, I guess that when you get bought off by George Soros you can just make it all up on the fly) but rarely has a candidate for the House of Delegates jettisoned their credibility so quickly.

Then again, he is now appearing on the website Crooks and Liars, so maybe he has finally discovered truth in advertising....


More below the fold.

Pornographic Movies at the University of Maryland: Freedom of Speech and Other Issues

--Richard E. Vatz

The bare facts of the University of Maryland (UMd) porn kerfuffle are as follows: the university had ratified a student programming committee’s decision to show a porn flick, “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, “ in College Park’s student union. Maryland Sen. Andy Harris threatened -- and was supported by Democratic Senate President Mike Miller -- to include in the state budget, as summarized by THE BALTIMORE SUN, “a denial of funding to any institution of higher education that allows a public screening of a film marketed as XXX-rated, unless it is part of an academic course.” The university acceded to the threat, but then some students, again in the words of the SUN, “reserved an on-campus facility to show the film.” Sen. Harris reinstated his threat to withhold funding, and, of this writing on April 6, that is where the controversy stands.

This article takes no position on the merits of the movie or the effects of seeing the movie, but argues that some of the protagonists clearly are making some unimpressive points about responsible legislation and some indisputably fallacious arguments regarding the issue of freedom of speech.

Sen. Jamie Raskin in THE WASHINGTON POST speculates on how “pornographers and censors thrive on one another,” arguing that Sen. Harris’ action gains publicity for pornographers. True, except for the implication that such legislative intrusion ONLY gains publicity for pornographers. The fact is that such action may also send a message that the people of Maryland will not stand by while their financial support is used to countenance pornography.

Students concerned about the axing of the movie violating their right of free speech may be surprised to learn the following: while the Constitution prohibits the United States Congress from making laws infringing on freedom of speech (with many exceptions), the freedom to show pornographic films in venues financed by a state-related university is not Constitutionally guaranteed.

Additionally, opponents of the state action commit the slippery slope fallacy in assuming that successful legislative pressuring of UMd on the current matter will inexorably lead to more intrusion into university activities. There is no evidence that such further action is being contemplated. Moreover, there is no evidence that any such effort is part of a larger agenda.

Now, there was a reasonable objection to the Senate bill proposal in terms of proportionality. The provocation of showing pornography does not merit the withholding, even temporarily, of hundreds of millions of dollars. That not only violates the principle of making the “punishment fit the crime,” but it also invokes the specter of collective punishment, punishing thousands of innocent students, faculty, administrators and staff, who have no power over decision-making regarding the showing of the movie on campus.

On the other hand, students whose only stand concerning freedom of speech is to protect the showing of pornographic movies are not serious and are using the "freedom of speech" argument disingenuously.

Professor Vatz is professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Your Legislature At Work

An enterprisnig reader over at O'MalleyWatch put together this Youtube vid. It shows how Mike Miller rules the Senate roost, and Annapolis Democrats, contrary to their public pronouncements about transparency, don't want you to know about those AIG-style University System of Maryland retention bonuses.

Of course, if the good professors are looking for other ways to line their pockets, there is the Professor Don Boesch method of self dealing.

More below the fold.