Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Media Watch in the Race for Maryland’s Governorship: The Baltimore Sun

--Richard E. Vatz

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich has officially announced his candidacy for Maryland’s governorship, and there may be no more interesting question than whether The Baltimore Sun will cover the race fairly.

The biggest Maryland media scandal of 2006 was the Sun’s lopsided coverage in favor of candidate Mayor Martin O’Malley and against incumbent Governor Ehrlich, summarized in a Red Maryland blog of March 12, 2010, but the entirety of which is represented by one stunning fact: The Sun op-ed page, the page opposite the editorial page and one traditionally open to differing points of view, carried not a single word of support for Gov. Ehrlich by name the entire election year of 2006.

In this first of several time-to-time assessments of the media coverage of the 2010 governor’s race, particularly by Maryland’s #1 newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, we shall look at whether coverage of this executive race is disinterested and unbiased. This will include such criteria as fairness in selection of: issues to cover, placement of stories, headlines to use, relevance of evidence cited and not cited, sources to interview, pictures to accompany articles, and general tenor of articles.

Our first assessment deals with the recent coverage of the anticipation and actual entrance of Gov. Ehrlich into the impending gubernatorial race.

The Sun got off on a terribly wrong foot with its article March 12 and its cheerleading coverage of Tom Russell, the governor’s campaign manager, and his confident anticipation of Gov. O’Malley’s upcoming campaign for governor. The piece was pro-O’Malley and anti-Ehrlich, with only one quote from a pro-Ehrlich source. There were no questions posed regarding Russell’s optimistic claims, including his prediction of the campaign’s being about "why Maryland is better off today than four years ago under Bob Ehrlich."

On March 28 Julie Bykowicz did much better in her Sun article on how Gov. Ehrlich was ready to declare for governor. She assessed fairly the prospects for the gubernatorial candidates, gave relevant political and occupational background , quoted Democratic criticism of such, and elaborated on Gov. Ehrlich’s financial prospects in running. One could quibble regarding punctilious political even-handedness, but for the most part it really is a good, solid and generally fair piece.

There has been some criticism of the picture of Kendel Ehrlich, Gov. Ehrlich’s wife and political partner, accompanying the March 28 Bykowicz piece, but both the former First Lady and Gov. Ehrlich are laughing, and, honestly, it is not clearly unflattering. The picture is not prominently displayed on The Sun’s web site, and there appears no conscious effort to depict Mrs. Ehrlich negatively.

Today, March 31, Ms. Bykowicz has a piece on Gov. Ehrlich’s throwing his hat into the governor’s race, and she writes a straight news account with historical perspective and a generally fair assessment of the strengths and weaknesses Gov. Ehrlich brings to the table. Both Democratic and Republican partisans are quoted, but the allegedly nonpartisan academics referenced were all liberal. The piece ended with a fairly long quote by Russell – beware if articles typically end with unbalanced quotes in favor of one candidate – not a trend yet, but we’ll be watching. Overall article grade: B+, but for The Sun, this is very promising. I cannot recall a major Sun news piece on the governor’s race in 2006 which rose above a “C.”

For its part The Sun’s editorial page – not to be confused with the op-ed page – has a piece disingenuously titled “Welcome to the race,” a largely anti-Ehrlich and pro-O’Malley editorial snarkily including comments such as “Seven months of reliving the supposed glory days of Mr. Ehrlich's first term and rehashing the talking points of the 2006 campaign, we could do without.” The editorial also incredibly mentions the BGE rate dispute without mentioning then-Mayor O’Malley’s and later Gov. O’Malley’s false claims regarding his stopping Baltimore Gas and Electric's 72 percent rate increase.

Good journalistic coverage of Gov. O’Malley and former Gov. Ehrlich requires that the news sections not become cheerleaders for one of the candidates, as The Sun did in 2006. The evidence is a bit mixed so far, but at least we don’t yet know whom one of the major Sun political reporters favors in the governor’s race.

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University

More below the fold.

Obama vs American Business

A snippet from streiff's excellent post over at Red State.

Regardless of where one stands on the health care takeover the fact remains that most Americans receive health insurance through their employer. One would think, then, that it would be in the best interests of anyone trying to expand health insurance coverage to make the associated expense as low as possible. The only conclusion one can draw from the inclusion of extortionate financial demands being made upon employers by law, rather than by implementing regulation, is that the health care takeover bill is actually designed to make employers reduce their insurance expenses and set up a demand for a complete federal takeover of the health care system.

Go read the whole thing

More below the fold.

Ten Questions: Eric Wargotz

Name: Eric Wargotz, MD
Office Sought: U.S. Senator
Hometown: Queenstown

1. Recently you commented on your belief that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. What led you to this conclusion.
The President's place of birth was put into question and was not satisfactorily answered to a legal certainty. However, since the President was born to a US citizen then according to US Supreme Court Jurisprudence, he is Constitutionally qualified to be President.

2. Barbara Mikulski has been in the Senate for twenty-four years. What are your biggest criticisms of her job performance?
Sen. Mikulski:

1. voted for the new health care mandate,
2. voted for the so-called Stimulus package
3. prefers to appease terrorists
4. has not been responsible in her approach to the Chesapeake Bay
I do not support the new healthcare mandate because:
  • it is unconstitutional
  • it will not accomplish it's stated goal of reducing health care costs
  • it allows for federal funding of abortions
  • it does not include meaningful tort and judicial reform
  • it provides antitrust protection for insurance industry
  • it does not allow for sale across State lines
  • it does not not adequately address the medical provider manpower shortage.
The so-called Stimulus package has been a failure, particularly in Maryland. Tax relief is the single most important measure needed to stimulate the economy.

We must not appease terrorists. I condemn the notion of civilian trials for terrorists.

The incumbent has brought millions (nearly a billion dollars) of Federal dollars to Maryland for Chesapeake Bay clean-up but 33 years after she first entered the halls of Congress, the Bay is in worse shape.

3. As a physician, you have a unique perspective on health care; how would you improve it?
As a physician, I support the need for common sense reforms to our Health Care system. There are many modifications that can be made to current programs that will drive down costs and greatly improve care. Since this issue affects us all, Health Care reform needs to be done correctly, not quickly.Real, meaningful Health Care reform should have three goals – lower costs; improve patient care; and reduce waiting times for critical care. To accomplish those three goals reform must:

  1. Not allow the government or insurance companies to get between you and your doctor.
  2. Discourage frivolous med-malpractice lawsuits with Tort and judicial reform capping non-economic damages reducing defensive medical practices cutting waste, abuse & fraud.
  3. Allow the sale of insurance across State lines.
  4. Provide for Tax-free health savings accounts and portability.
  5. Improve the health insurance system: reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Fair provider reimbursement. Remove Antitrust protection for insurance industry.
  6. Maintain Medicare, and expand Medicaid to cover those legitimately unable to cover their own costs of care.
  7. Ensure fair, uniform medication pricing by the Pharmaceutical Industry.
Health Care makes up nearly 18% of our Gross Domestic Product. The wrong reform passed into law will have devastating results for our economy and more importantly, a bad effect on all of us including children and seniors.

4. You have been serving as a Queen Anne's County Commissioner; what do you think was your most significant accomplishment from your time on the Commission?
I have been able to forge a successful partnership with my fellow Commissioners (all are Democrats) and work together for the benefit of the County. This has been accomplished without compromising my principles but instead through honest discourse and a mutual desire to find common-sense real solutions to challenging problems.

5. Of all the issues facing our country, what would your priorities be as a U.S. Senator?
Repeal the Health Care Law (mandate), Revise it to include real reform as stated in #3 above, and Rejoice at it's passage!

6. Do you support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

7. What is your position on cap and trade?
I would vote against it - vote "No."

8. Many Republicans are concerned about the bloated size of the federal government; what government programs or agencies (if any) would you cut, reduce, or eliminate?
A good start would be the U.S. Depart. of education which has a budget of $68.6 billion (according to the Dept. of Ed website). Each State has their own mandate to provide for public education. There is little need if any for a "national" Dept. of Ed.

9. How will are you using social networking during your campaign, and if you win would you continue to use social networking to be accessible to your constituents?
The campaign, and myself personally extensively use social networking to promote the campaign and my candidacy. Social networking and media have become an indispensable component of communication in our times and we will continue to use it in Office.

10. If you had a choice of any Republican to be the nominee of our party for President in 2012, who would it be?
Too early to say.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bob Ehrlich is running for Governor and Ricky Martin is Gay

Two of the worst kept secrets were revealed today.

All kidding aside, it is game on for the 2010 Maryland Governor's race. While the Ehrlich camp has fueled speculation for months, in a concerted effort to keep the former Governor in the news, I never doubted that the Governor Ehrlich was going to run again. In fact, those close to the Ehrlich camp know that he never really stopped. The former Governor has been more like the head of a shadow government or government in exile with many who served in his adminstration still working with him at his law firm and his radio show. In addition, he has kept his campaign infrastructure, especially his fundraising arm, in place ever since he left office.

These are all good things. While some conservatives have had their issues with the former Governor, and he would be wise to mend some of these fences, the MDGOP has a candidate with more name recognition and ability to fundraise then they have ever had. He also has a compelling contrast between his four years (deficit to surplus without raising sales, gas or income taxes) and O'Malley's (surplus to deficit with all taxes increased and slots).

This is why the Democrats have been on the attack (cue MDDEMS talking point comments below) as my colleagues have chronicled here. Their goal is to divide and depress conservative and Republican voters with the goal of four more years of the failed O'Malley program including tremendous tax increases to come.

Despite his imperfections, all Maryland conservatives must realize that Bob Ehrlich is the only alternative to four more years of Martin O'Malley.

UPDATE: For the record, this is not an endorsement by RedMaryland but one contributor's opinion. And for all the Brian Murphy fans, I think the burden is on you to prove he is a viable alternative to Ehrlich.

More below the fold.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sin of Omission

The Baltimore Sun editorial board is manufacturing a lot of sturm and drang over a legislative proposal requiring the University of Maryland’s environmental law clinic to disclose it’s client list and expenditures for the last two years, or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state budget.

The Sun sees the measure as a heinous abridgement of academic freedom, and Perdue Farms flexing it’s political muscle to intimidate the law clinic. Clinic students filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Water Keeper Alliance and the Assateague Coastal Trust claiming that a small family farm run by Alan and Kristin Hudson, which raises chickens for Perdue, placed sewage sludge in a drainage ditch that feeds the Pocomoke River. The Maryland Department of the Environment already fined the farm for dumping the sewage (used as fertilizer). However, MDE could not conclusively link bacterial pollution in surrounding waters.

Yet the Sun editorial along a news story by the paper left out the very salient fact that the law clinic engages in political advocacy on behalf of narrow political interests. In fact, clinic students were unregistered taxpayer-funded lobbyists for environmental groups. According to the clinic’s website:

…student attorneys in the Environmental Law Clinic were the primary researchers and drafters of this legislation. Clinic students worked countless hours researching standing laws in the other 49 states, attending coalition work group sessions, and quickly responding to research questions posed by various General Assembly members. The students also drafted testimony for witnesses who testified at the bill hearings; the witnesses were from a coalition comprising the individual Riverkeepers and other environmental organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 1000 Friends of Maryland, and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

The clinic is also assisting various water keeper groups in petitioning the EPA to withdraw Maryland’s delegated authority to administer pollution permits under the Clean Water Act. If successful, this would cede state authority to the EPA in what are rightly local matters.

Given that the Water Keeper Alliance evolved from the primordial ooze of well heeled trial lawyers all the hue and cry over legislative bullying of altruistic law students assisting those who “otherwise may not have attorneys” as UM law professor Deb Eisenberg, said in an email to the MSBA litigation list serve, is all so much bunk.

One wonders what the Sun would think of the Hudsons availing themselves of Maryland law school students to advocate their case.

Or is it now the Sun’s editorial position that it is perfectly fine that taxpayer funds be used for blatant political advocacy?

More below the fold.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Trial Lawyers will get their Christmas in April....but why did some Republicans tie on the bow?

It's Christmas in April for Trial Lawyers in Annapolis! One of their pet bills has passed out of the House of Delegates....with some Republican support, no less. And at the end of the day, taxpayers are going to be the ones left holding the bag.

House Bill 825 passed out of the House earlier this week. The bill increases the minimum amount of coverage for injury or death related to a car accident from $20,000 or $40,000 (for one or two cars) to $30,000 or $60,000 (for one or two cars).

And it's a that point that things patently fly off the handle.
As part of the process, insurance companies are going to need to create a new classification of insurance policy. The standard slotting for insurance policies across the country have always been incremental. They current $20,000/$40,000 slot is standard across the country. The next slot is $25,000/$50,000, the standard in the District of Columbia. The slot after that jumps to $50,000/$100,000. Insurance companies are going to have to create a whole new classification of policy specifically to deal with Maryland if this passes....a policy which, incidentally the Sun points out will be among the highest liability coverage rates in the nation.

When you are increasing costs to the insurance companies, for having to create an entirely new classification of policy, while at the same time increasing the required coverage for policyholders, guess who is going to be left holding the bag. Consumers. But it won't impact most consumers....

No, the brunt of this impact will be felt by low-income Marylanders, the same middle and working class families that Democrats routinely go out of there way to stick it to. As a matter of fact, almost the entirety of the premium increase will be taken out of MAIF's policy holders., which of course lead to some drivers driving without misurance altogether. As House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell so poignantly noted:

"This bill is going to hurt people at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder," said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell. "It's a tax increase. Call it something else. It's a burden that's going to come out of their pockets."
This bill is, at its most basic level, a ten-percent increase in insurance premiums for those least able to afford a ten-percent increase in insurance premiums. It's why the Democrats don't blink a passing such an expense on to the taxpayers, because their raison d'etre is to hurt people at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder to enrich their special interest buddies.....

....which leads me to the Christmas in April title of this post. You see, this bill is being championed by two groups of people:
  • The O'Malley Administration
  • The Trial Lawyers that keep the O'Malley campaign awash in contributions.
Within the Administration, there has been a gag order on this bill. Leadership at the Maryland Insurance Administration is against this. Leadership at MAIF is against this. But they have been gagged on the orders from the Second Floor of the State House to stay out of the way and let this pass. Insurance companies are also opposing this as well, because it's an administrative burden on them and will increase their cost of doing business in the state of Maryland as well.

This friends is O'Malley's gift to the trial lawyers. Presumably, it's to make sure that his campaign stays funded this fall.....but it may also be a tacit admission that the O'Malley Campaign and his trial lawyer allies have no confidence whatsoever in O'Malley's ability to get himself re-elected.

Incidentally, this isn't the only O'Malley give away to the trial lawyers; SB 119 has passed out of the Senate, a constitutional amendment that would raise from $10,000 to $20,000 the minimum amount of damages that would be required to be sough in order to guarantee the right to a jury trial....

O'Malley's Christmas in April give-a-way to the trial lawyers is bad enough. But then nine Republicans broke with the caucus and decided to vote with O'Malley on this issue. If anybody would like to explain why the following Republican Delegates broke ranks with their party and decided that Marylanders need to pay more for insurance, I'm all ears:
  • Bob Costa
  • Donald Elliott
  • Rick Impallaria
  • James King
  • Pat McDonough
  • Tanya Shewell
  • Mike Smigiel
  • Donna Stifler
  • Nancy Stocksdale
These are the kind of a votes where we need a cohesive Republican Caucus that stands up for taxapayers and not special interests...and it is VERY hard for us Republicans to make the argument that we are a better choice for Maryland's middle and working class families when we've got such a large percentage of the Republican caucus going off the reservation and siding with Governor O'Malley and the trial lawyers.

The people of Maryland, particular those Marylanders who are least able to pay, should not be subject to Martin O'Malley's giveaways to his trial lawyer special interest buddies. We owe it to ourselves and to the future of our state to make our opinion's about Governor O'Malley and his handouts at the ballot box this November.


More below the fold.

Making it Up as He Goes

Allan Lichtman must be hard up for attention, or he must owe somebody in the Obama Administration a favor. Because Lichtman today boldly predicted that Barack Obama is a shoe-in for re-election.

No, really, he did.

The raconteur/professor/former Senate Candidate/space cadet uses his "13 keys to the Presidency" which he claims can accurately predict who will win the next Presidential Election. Using his "keys", he says Barack Obama will be re-elected.

Of course, Lichtman's interpretation of the keys leaves a bit to be desired:

KEY 1 (Party Mandate): After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections. (FALSE)

Well, so far that seems to be going in the right direction. It seems like the Democrats are going to get clobbered at the ballot box, but let's not get too cocky. I'll agree and see False.

KEY 2 (Contest): There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination. (TRUE)

I'm classifying this as to-be-determined. Anybody who seriously thinks that Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is going to walk away with a $13 million federal war chest and not seriously consider challenging the President from the center is sorely mistaken. And Bayh would, in all likelihood, do serious damage to Obama in the primaries.

KEY 3 (Incumbency): The incumbent-party candidate is the sitting president. (TRUE)

Can't argue with that.

KEY 4 (Third party): There is no significant third party or independent campaign. (TRUE)

Also to-be-determined. As much as Republicans hope that the Tea Party Movement doesn't spawn off a serious third party or independent campaign, that could be incredibly wishful thinking depending on who the Republican nominee is in 2012.

KEY 5 (Short-term economy): The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. (TRUE)

Only a moron would say that the economy in 2012 is going to not be in recession. I'm not saying it is, but given this President's economic policy it is wishful thinking to think things are going to be better. I would label this as to-be-determined.

KEY 6 (Long-term economy): Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. (FALSE)

More than likely, Lichtman's got this right. I'll agree.

KEY 7 (Policy change): The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy. (TRUE)

Well, so far that's true insofar as health care reform has passed. However, Lichtman automatically assumes that this is a positive for Obama. Lichtman's model does not take into account the fact that such a change was railroaded through Congress against the will of the people. Nor does it assume the possibility that a change in party could radically change the makeup of the aforementioned change prior to its full implementation. I will agree that this is true....but it's an albatross around Obama's campaign neck.

KEY 8 (Social unrest): There is no sustained social unrest during the term. (TRUE)

Which is interesting, because if you believe MSNBC Tea Partiers are running amok. But be that as it may it is true.....for now.

KEY 9 (Scandal): The administration is untainted by major scandal. (TRUE)

I'm not sure what planet Lichtman is from. The entire administration has basically been one scandal right after another. If only somebody predicted two years ago that Barack Obama was a scandal in a box.....

So yeah....false.

KEY 10 (Foreign/military failure): The administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. (TRUE)

Also to-be-determined. Because in case you didn't notice....America's approval ratings are in the dumps since Obama took over. If you want to get really technically, the collapse of the Copenhagen climate summit could be consider a "major failure" in foreign affairs, but that would imply that such a failure was a bad thing.

KEY 11 (Foreign/military success): The administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. (FALSE)


KEY 12 (Incumbent charisma): The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. (FALSE)

Amen to that

KEY 13 (Challenger charisma): The challenging-party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. (TRUE)
Also to be determined because neither Lichtman, nor me, or the Lord above knows who is going to be the Republican nominee in 2012. It could be virtually anybody. and until such a time as we know who the Republican nominee is, any speculation as to the answer to this is completely pointless.

So by my count, we've got three trues, five falses, and five to-be-determineds. What does that mean for Barack Obama's chances in 2012 as of right now? Absolutely nothing.

The problem with such speculative yarns as Allan Lichtman is trying to write is that he is trying to apply a historical formula to an event before it happens. When you combine his historical pre-analysis with his moonbeam liberal biases, you get a completely warped view of the political environment in an effort to prop up a failed administration. Lichtman, in his analysis, is just making it up as he goes. His analysis has no value.


More below the fold.

The Two Ben Cardins

Someone in the Democratic Party needs to tell Ben Cardin to curb his enthusiasm. In his elation over passage of Obamacare, he is losing message discipline and letting the cat out of the bag.

Cardin ebulliently tweeted “One of the first bills I introduced in the Senate was 4 universal health coverage. I'm proud we are finally reaching that goal.”

Say what? For over a year now Cardin, President Obama, and the Democrats all told us this wasn’t a government takeover of healthcare.

On two separate occasions Cardin stated Democrat healthcare reform plans were not a government takeover of healthcare.

When asked why not support a single payer system: “We have the best health care in the world and I want to ensure we keep it.”

Of course, Obama is on record as an ardent proponent of a single payer system, but then again as Obama’s political lodestar Saul Alinsky once said, “In the politics of human life, consistency is not a virtue.”

Looks like the junior senator from Maryland is an apt pupil.

More below the fold.

Ten Questions: Brendan Madigan

Name: Brendan Madigan
Office Sought: Comptroller

1. Give our readers a little insight into your background.

Before launching my campaign, I served as the Founder and Executive Editor of the conservative blog GOP Resurgence. During this time, I was also very active in State politics, especially in regard to the speed camera legislation. Prior to this, I was the Baltimore County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty.

2. What made you decide to run for Comptroller?

Through my work as a political activist, I have seen our elected representatives in Annapolis, time and time again, put policies into place that have both directly and indirectly harmed the hard-working citizens of this State. As Comptroller, I will stand up against those who choose to put these policies in place and fail to represent the best interests of the people of Maryland.

3. What is your political lodestar? What shapes your ideological background?

I would say that my political lodestar is fiscal responsibility. The tax-and-spend mentality that seems to plague our elected officials in Annapolis, both Democrats and Republicans, needs to be brought to an end. My ideological background is based on a number of things including the United States Constitution and Maryland Constitution. I believe that the framers truly intended for a government that was responsible in the way that it conducts itself. Clearly, the current status of our State government does not fall into line with this intention, especially when it comes to fiscal issues.

4. Current Comptroller Peter Franchot has used his position as a platform on which to talk about various other issues around the state; would you remain focused on your position as Comptroller, or would you follow Franchot's example in this regard?

Too many of our elected officials today, especially at the state level, are simply looking to further themselves politically instead of remaining focused on what they were elected to do, and I believe that Comptroller Franchot is no exception to this trend. As Comptroller, I am going to focus exclusively on what I can do as Comptroller to transform Maryland into an economic powerhouse instead of just looking to get my name in the news.

5. Of all the issues facing our country and state, what would your priorities be as a Comptroller?

I would use the Constitutional and inherent powers of the Comptroller to work to reduce taxes and spending. Many people do not realize how influential the Comptroller really is on these issues. As a member of the Board of Public Works, the Comptroller holds a significant amount of power over the State’s spending. In addition, the Comptroller is often considered to be very influential when it comes to tax policy.

6. Do you support an amendment to the State Constitution that would require a supermajority of General Assembly members approve any tax increases?

I would absolutely support and an amendment that would put this requirement into place. An amendment of this type would spur economic growth in Maryland by providing businesses with greater financial certainty. Currently, 16 states have passed amendments of this nature and positive economic growth has been seen in each of these states as a direct result of the amendment.

7. Currently the Comptroller's office spends a great deal of resources fighting cigarette smuggling; do you find this a necessary enforcement of current tax laws, or a waste of state resources?

In principle, this is a necessary enforcement of current tax laws; however, this enforcement needs to be carried out in a reasonable way that maximizes revenue for the State. It would be ridiculous and send the wrong message to just totally abandon enforcement of the tax just because smugglers make it difficult to do so. Tax enforcement must be carried out in a fair way, and not going after cigarette smugglers would be unfair to the middle-class Marylanders that pay their taxes honestly.

8. How do you see yourself as a member of the Board of Public Works; how do you see yourself casting a vote on the issues that come before the Board?

As a member of the Board of Public Works, I see myself as standing up against the out-of-control spending in Annapolis. Although the Board of Public Works only has the authority to vote on certain spending proposals, I think that voting in favor of fiscal responsibility on the Board would certainly send a strong message and be a step in the right direction.

9. Many people do not understand the role of the Comptroller's office; how do you plan to overcome this and make voters understand the importance of the office?

The Comptroller’s office is probably the most complicated elected office in Maryland. If elected, I will put an easy-to-understand explanation of the role of the Comptroller’s office on my website. In addition, as Comptroller, I will only state my opinion on issues that are relevant to the office (unlike Comptroller Franchot), which will give voters a better idea of the role and scope of the Comptroller’s office.

10. What steps will you take in working with whomever is elected Governor and whomever is selected as Treasurer to ensure the state's AAA bond rating?

As Comptroller, I will work with the Governor and the Treasurer to rein in the out-of-control spending in Annapolis to ensure that the State holds its AAA bond rating. Currently, Maryland is in an unfavorable financial position that has left it at risk of losing this very important rating. Unlike many of our other elected officials, I will stand up against those who disregard the importance of Maryland’s AAA bond rating by continuing to spend recklessly in tough economic times.

More below the fold.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pints and Policy

If you’re on the Eastern Shore tonight I will be speaking to the Queen Anne’s County Republican Club at 6:30 pm at Timmy O’Bryan’s Pub, 1235 Shopping Center Rd. Stevensville, MD.

The subject is global warming.

I’ll be sharing a panel with Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who will be talking about Climategate and cap and trade.

I’ll be talking about the issue on the state level, specifically Maryland’s rigged climate commission, the environmentalists’ economic fallacies, the O’Malley administration’s secrecy on the issue, and the environmentalist money trail.

Friend of Red Maryland, Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty will moderate the discussion.

Hope to see you there.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blue Pills for Bad People

In their never ending quest to ram health care down our throat, Maryland's two Senators decided that we should make sure that child molesters and sex offenders should still have access to Viagra and other sexually enhancing drugs.

No, really.

Apparently, passing a health care bill nobody wants is more important to Maryland's Democratic Senators than ensuring very bad people don't get federally funded prescriptions that help them be very bad people.

How sad. How pathetic.


More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

Some people just don't get it. I refer you to the latest comments by Adam Pagnucco as it relates to budget and taxation here in Maryland.

On a post in which in he is discussing the shifting of teacher pensions from a state to a county responsibility, Pagnucco drops the following:

If Montgomery wants to preserve the quality of its schools, it must put up a tough fight and negotiate only when it has maximum leverage. That point is not now, but next year, when the next Governor – whoever it is – will have to pass a tax and spending package to deal with Maryland’s long-term budget deficits. Such a package cannot pass without MoCo’s votes.
That point is not now, but next year, when the next Governor – whoever it is – will have to pass a tax and spending package to deal with Maryland’s long-term budget deficits.
There is only one problem with Pagnucco's broadbrushed statement.

It's not true.

What is the main reason why Pagnucco's statement bunk? It has nothing to do with the fact that Governor Ehrlich (who, by the way, will be Governor again next year) opposes the broad based tax and spending package that Pagnucco is suggesting. It has nothing to do with the fact that Governor O'Malley has presided over the least fiscally responsible administration in the history of the state, or the fact that O'Malley has engineered a series of immoral and irresponsiblie tax increases that has crippled our state financially.

It's the fact that, as many liberals continue to do, Pagnucco relies on the failed notion of taxes and spending being the solution to deal with our budget problems. People failed to realize that the time for Kenyes still passed.

What's more absurd is the fact that Pagnucco's premise continues to go with the theory that only through higher taxes and increased state spending. Hello? Isn't that the kind of policy on which Governor O'Malley's administration has be predicated upon? All O'Malley has done during his time as Governor is raise taxes, raise spending, and fail to take respoonsible steps to protect the fiscal health of this state.

Liberals like Pagnucco just don't get it. There is another way. Whomever is Governor in 2011 should take broad steps to reduce state spending and lower our taxes. Taxes at the very least should be returned to pre-O'Malley levels, in an effort to the middle and working class families that Maryland Democrats seem hellbent on destroying. Our spending plan should be rebuilt from the ground-up to ensure that only legitimate priorities and not Democratic special interests are receiving the bulk of our funding. And the Governor, whomever it is, should take broad steps to begin reducing the size of our state government. Maryland's government has for far too long been too big for its britches; we need a smaller, mor efficient government that only provides necessary services to the people of Maryland.

Maryland's middle and working class families, the ones who have been so hurt by Martin O'Malley's recklessness, knows that higher taxes are not the answer. If liberal opinion makers such as Pagnucco don't come to grips with the fact that there is an alternative to higher taxes and more spending....the people of Maryland will leave them in the dust.


More below the fold.

The Liberal's Last Resort: Scream Racism

Related to Dr. Vatz's post below. This is a video of the dreadful assault that took place on John Lewis (D-GA).

More below the fold.

Hasty Generalizations of Racism: Ugly and Unfair Attacks on Republicans and Tea Partiers

--Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.

About two weeks ago, I was waiting in a “7 items or fewer” line at Wegmans in Hunt Valley, Maryland, a store I frequent with some regularity. The woman in front of me had 18 separate items [I counted them] and a variety of difficulties in finding the money in her purse to pay for it. She was waited on for over 7 minutes. After she was finished paying, I said to the person at the register, “Do you all [sorry for the questionable spoken grammar] not discourage people who have so many items from using this line? It really is bad policy.”

The woman who took 18 items to the 7-item limit line was still within earshot and said, “Mind your own business. You’re from Pikesville [part of Baltimore 12 miles or so from this Wegmans, always associated with a Jewish population], aren’t you?” I told her I wasn’t talking to her. The cashier smiled, but said nothing.

What should/can one make of this little drama? How about the following: “Hunt Valley, Maryland is a hotbed of anti-Semitism;” “Wegmans tolerates religious prejudice in its stores;” and/or “a Jewish man cannot escape vile anti-Jewish remarks in Baltimore County or Maryland?”

These inferences constitute what some logicians call “hasty generalization,” or the taking of an atypical example and depicting it as being representative.

Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist writes, “In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others...[Rep.] Barney Frank... was taunted because he is gay.”

Immediately following this citation of facts, Mr. Herbert interprets them: “At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.“ He goes on: “ is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.”

This is classic hasty generalization. It is impossible to get thousands of protesters without including some schmucks (to use a term that some of my buds in Pikesville, but few of my fellow residents in Cockeysville, use), people who only by anatomical criteria qualify for “human race” categorization.

Where else have I seen such despicable human beings?

About seven plus years ago when running for Lieutenant Governor in Maryland, (current Republican national Committee Chairman) Michael Steele was depicted as “Simple Sambo” by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s site. The same committee illegally obtained Mr. Steele’s credit report. Maryland Democratic State Senator Lisa A. Gladden supported using vicious racist slurs against Mr. Steele since "party trumps race," and, even more offensively, then-Democratic Maryland Del. Salima S. Marriott's made the horrifying statement that comparisons of Mr. Steele to a slave were deserved because he was a conservative. In the 2002 Maryland Gubernatorial debate, attended by Mr. Steele, Oreo cookies were thrown his way to imply he was a fake African-American.

Two or three Democrats, including Rep. Elijah E. Cummings to be sure and Kweisi Mfume, then-head of the NAACP, spoke out against the racist treatment of Michael Steele, but there was not a word of criticism by any of the major political Democratic office-holders in Maryland.

Now, that’s not a hasty generalization; it is an accurate statement of Maryland’s Democratic Party.

Now, finally, let me add a bit of context to my above analogy of the religious remark I experienced at Wegmans. I have lived in Maryland for over 35 years, and this was the first anti-Semitic remark I have ever experienced. The woman at the register probably said nothing because she hadn’t been trained to deal with such a remark, and who knows what she should have done, if anything, regardless?

I had and have no right to accuse any large group -- Marylanders or Hunt Valley residents or Wegmans employees -- of condoning anti-Semitism, per this experience. My experience was atypical.

The Maryland Democratic quiet countenancing of racism against a Republican African-American? For that limited application, the evidence is pretty clear that the answer is "yes." For general racist accusations against Republicans or Tea Partiers, sorry, but those remain hasty generalizations. The vast majority of conservatives find racist and/or anti-gay remarks or behavior to be utterly contemptible.

Professor Vatz teaches “Persuasion” at Towson University

More below the fold.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

In another lame effort to blast Bob Ehrlich, the children running the Maryland Democratic Party reveal that they are either willfully distorting the truth or blindingly ignorant about economics. I guess when you’re swimming in corporate money it pays to be both deceptive and ignorant.

Isaac Salazar writes on the party’s blog:

Of course it’s a myth that half of working Americans don’t pay federal taxes – the vast majority of workers pay at least some federal tax, most notably payroll taxes – but it’s true that, due largely to tax cuts contained in President Obama’s stimulus package, a significant portion of middle and lower income Americans do not owe federal income tax for 2009 and hence have a low federal tax burden.

The best of lies use a kernel of truth to spin a larger deception and that is exactly what Salazar has done. Yes it is true that the 40% of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes are subject to the payroll tax. However, what the Salazar didn’t tell you is that the “tax cuts” in the stimulus are refundable, meaning that the people who pay no taxes get a check from Uncle Sam—paid for by the folks who actually do pay federal income taxes. That isn’t a “tax cut” it’s a redistribution of wealth.

Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal notes, when you combine the totality of ALL of Obama’s “tax cuts” the refundable amount transferred to low income workers exceeds their payroll tax levies. Again, this is a wealth transfer, not a middle class tax cut.

WSJ also noted another catch Salazar isn’t too keen on disclosing—for obvious reasons. Obama’s tax cuts are phased out as income rises, meaning that low income Americans who work hard and earn more are hit with a big marginal tax rate increase as their income rises.

But such deception is to be expected from a party that imposed the largest tax increase in state history, including a 20% sales tax increase, which disproportionately affects the poor.

More below the fold.

Ten Questions: Jim Rutledge

Name: Jim Rutledge
Office Sought: U.S. Senate

Give our readers a little bit about your background and why you are running for the United States Senate?

I am a conservative attorney with over 25 years of experience including representation of entrepreneurs, small businesses, average citizens, farmers, as well as substantial work with federal law, regulatory, and constitutional matters. I am not a professional politician and will bring to congress the genuine perspective of an entrepreneur and a defender of the constitution. It is now clear that this President and this Congress have set this Nation on a course that will bankrupt America for generations to come and will result in the deprivation of those freedoms and liberties upon which our great nation was founded. The very freedoms that have allowed the American people to flourish are under attack.

The magnitude of the threat from the federal government demands bold action and decisive leadership. My challenge to the reckless expansion of federal government lead by Senator Mikulski and her leftist colleagues is motivated by my love for my family and the people of Maryland. Career politicians have failed us. It is time for leadership that has not been tainted by years of political entanglement. I am not looking for a job. I want to go to Washington to do a job for the citizens of Maryland.

Who is your political lodestar? What shapes your ideological background?

John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Ronald Reagan.

The preservation of human dignity and individual liberty is the first and principle duty of any legitimate government. This unalterable truth was established by the divine Creator who is the architect of the universe and the author of law. The foundational idea is that we are a free people governed by law and not ruled by powerful men and women. Therefore, I reject and condemn the social and economic controls being thrust upon the citizens of America by an all powerful and centralized federal government. With few exceptions, local and state governments serve the people far better than the bloated federal bureaucracy.

Barbara Mikulski has been in the Senate for twenty-four years. What are your biggest criticisms of her job performance?

Barbara Mikulski has purchased the support of many people in Maryland by taking their neighbor’s money. In her 33 years in Congress, she has mastered the use of earmarks, pork barrel spending, and manipulation of the federal budget. Instead of preserving, protecting and defending the civil liberties of life, liberty and private property ownership, she has advanced her own vision for America. Barbara Mikulski’s America is a place where children are taught to envy the talents and successes of others and are encouraged to covet what others have earned. In Mikulski’s America, every hardship, crisis, and disaster in the world is the fault of Americans. It is an America where the strong abuse the weak, where the rights of the guilty trump the rights of the innocent.

In Barbara Mikulski’s America it is the duty of every tax payer to fund the population control schemes of the international elite including abortion at home and abroad, including the sterilization of women in third world countries.

Barbara Mikulski’s actions have been fiscally reckless and irresponsible, and this past year alone she has supported trillions of dollars of reckless spending as she happily expands the scope and reach of the federal government.

Barbara Mikulski wholeheartedly promotes the view of government that the state knows better than we the people how to spend our money, raise our families, and define the values that will govern our personal relationships. In short, she represents the aristocracy of the machine politicians that lord over our lives with a boot on our necks that is heavier and more insidious than King George in 1776.

Of all the issues facing our country, what would your priorities be as a U.S. Senator?

The economy, public debt, and national security are my top priorities. Job creation is essential, and that will come by unleashing the creative spirit of Americans by reducing the heavy burdens of taxation and intrusive regulation.

Our country is on the verge of international bankruptcy. We are $12 trillion in debt and have nearly $58 trillion in unfunded Medicare and Social Security obligations. Barbara Mikulski supports the President’s plans to add another $8 to $9 trillion of debt to the current debt over the next ten years. Mikulski also supports bigger government and more entitlement programs. Mikulski is bankrupting the country to achieve ideological and Party goals. Mikulski’s ideas, thoughts, and processes on legislating are counterproductive and destructive to the citizens of Maryland.

The economy encompasses the public debt and big government as well as other considerations. I believe in free market capitalism with minimal government regulation. Government regulation is burdensome, costly, and impairs free markets from functioning properly. According to Americans for Tax Reform, the cost of government day in Maryland is now August 21st. That means that every citizen must work nearly 2/3rds of the year to pay for the cost of government. That includes not only taxes but the impacts of all government intervention and regulation.
The citizens of Maryland work hard to create a better life for themselves and their family. The fruit of one’s labor is their property.

Individuals, not governments, know best what to do with their property. Individuals can save or invest, trade or procure, or donate to charities. Individuals, based upon numerous personal and economic reasons, can best decide how to allocate their resources. Governments, regardless of their intentions, cannot supplant the individual nor can government legislate compassion.

National security is of utmost importance. As an attorney, I respect and honor the Constitution and the law. However, I do not believe that enemy combatants should enjoy the same legal benefits as defendants in civilian criminal courts. The laws of war place the enemy captives under the jurisdiction of military tribunals. The citizens of Maryland, and the country for that matter, expect the federal government to provide for our common defense. This is clearly stated in the Constitution and is one of several legitimate roles of our federal government. Our rights, our liberties, our very essence and being require the United States of America to defend us from our enemies, to protect our borders, to do the utmost to ensure the citizens of the United States are safe. I fully support our military and intelligence communities.

Would you make repealing Obamacare a campaign pledge?

Yes. I issued a press release within the past three weeks where I stated I would work to repeal Obamacare if it were passed.

In addition to being bad policy and an economic nightmare, Government run health care is an egregious usurpation of power, and it is unconstitutional.

Would you do the same should cap and trade be passed?

Yes. I pledge to work to repeal cap and trade should it pass. It is a tax scheme intended to increase federal revenues, increase regulations, and constrain free markets. Cap and trade will devastate the economy resulting in higher unemployment and increased energy costs to all Americans. Cap and trade will foolishly increase the basic cost of living at a time of great economic stress.

A few years ago, Spain attempted a green jobs initiative which resulted in sky rocketing unemployment. A study of effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources was researched and published by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos last year. The
report stated the cost per green job was estimated at roughly $750,000 per job. The programs that created those jobs resulted in the destruction of nearly 111,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy. Unemployment went through the roof as a result. Spain is suffering the consequences of implementing programs due to poor policy decisions.

You advocate promotion of alternative energy sources to wean the country off foreign oil. Do you support tapping domestic oil and natural gas sources? Would you support drilling in ANWR?

Energy is multi-faceted issue. We must consider all possible energy sources as solutions. That includes traditional energy sources such as clean coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear. We must harness the competitive brilliance and industry of the people to develop new and emerging energy technologies. To accomplish this, we must reduce regulation, increase competition, and let people and companies invest in research and development.

Meanwhile, we must leverage traditional sources of energy such as oil and gas. I fully support tapping into domestic oil and natural gas. I do support drilling in ANWR.

What are measures would you propose to address the issue of illegal immigration?

First, the federal government must fulfill its duty to enforce a uniform law of citizenship and immigration in every state. States and local governments that create safe-haven rules and refuse to enforce the laws against illegal immigration should be prosecuted in federal court.

Second, we must reduce and eventually eliminate any and all federal funding to states based upon the census or any other enumeration. States must not be encouraged to count illegal immigrants to increase their portion of federal funding. Furthermore, since representation in Congress is based upon the census, illegal immigrants skew proper representation for all American citizens. Lastly, once States adapt to a lack of federal funds perhaps their own policies and behaviors towards illegal immigrants will change.

Third, to ensure a fair playing field the government should require all employers use the e-Verify system.
Lastly, we must improve border security. This is primarily a national security issue, however one side benefit is better control over illegal immigration.

Many Republicans are concerned about the bloated size of the federal government; what government programs or agencies (if any) would you cut, reduce, or eliminate?
This is a two step process, not unlike treating a severely wounded soldier in the field. First, we must do the triage. That is we must stop the bleeding and stabilize the situation. We must reduce spending and balance the budget. We must eliminate deficit spending and funding those deficits through borrowing which increases the public debt.

Second, we must make the soldier healthy again. We must make our country healthy again by eliminating and reducing federal programs. This consists of eliminating programs that are unconstitutional and returning the responsibility and power to the states. We first identify the program to eliminate and then develop an appropriate plan. Some programs may be rolled back in a couple years, while others may take 5, 10, or 20 years to completely roll back.

Lastly, we must address entitlement programs. President Obama’s 2011 budget has future year projections in it. By 2020, the current entitlement programs have an estimated cost of $3 trillion. That is larger than the entire federal budget for fiscal year 2008.

What ideas do you have to address runaway federal spending and tax policy?

I would propose abolishing the current tax code and replacing it with a flat tax. That tax would be for individuals and corporations. Most likely it would fall somewhere between the 10 and 15% range.

We must ensure the federal government operates within its legitimate role under the Constitution. Naturally, this reduces the size of government, therefore it reduces overall spending.

More below the fold.

Monday, March 22, 2010

In the meantime, back in Annapolis....

.....I got an email containing this today. I'm not a Star Wars fan, but enjoy.

More below the fold.

What They Have Wrought

The U.S. House of Representatives—against the will of the electorate—approved the Senate healthcare “reform” bill last night. The breakthrough came when Bart Stupak and his block of allegedly “pro life” Democrats sold their votes for the lemon that is President Obama’s sham executive order, which cannot legally override statutory law.

Barring a last minute GOP Hail Mary in the Senate reconciliation process, Obamacare will become law of the land.

While not a complete government takeover, it expands government into nearly every aspect of American healthcare. Among other things it sends the federal government’s share of national spending on healthcare north of 50 percent, creates a bureaucracy that can intervene between patients and their doctors, and allows the federal government the power to determine what insurance plans must cover. It puts the lie to Obama’s claim that if you like your current insurance plan you can keep it. Under Obamacare if your plan does not meet federal standards… poof it’s not insurance.

The law would exacerbate the problems it ostensibly purports to resolve. Contra to the Democrats and Obama’s claims the measure will increase insurance premiums because the mandates drive up costs, especially on the middle class. Furthermore, when you account for the double counting and accounting gimmicks the Democrat’s plan adds $59 billion in deficits to federal budgets over the next decade. This in an era where the electorate is keenly aware that government entitlements and spending are unsustainable. Obamacare will also increase unemployment and raise taxes.

Democrats crow that this law reigns in the rapacious insurance companies—Nancy Pelosi called them “villains” yet the individual mandate in their plan creates millions of new customers for those very same “villains.” The insurance industry was reigned in only in the sense that they became politically reliable appendages of the state. The bare, ugly truth of Obamacare is that it is the quintessential corporatist bargain. Government allows—even guarantees—industry profits in return for conforming to the ruling party’s political agenda. Let’s not forget the Pharmaceutical industry as well cut a deal last year to hop on board.

Obamacare will also be a boon to K Street. Lobbyists, like Tom Daschle, will feast on all the industry money heaped on their plates to influence the new federal committees, which will decide what treatments and medications are allowed.

What’s worse, though is that Obamacare is another step down the road to serfdom. Obamacare’s governmentalization of healthcare radically alters the relationship of the people to the state, and not in good way. Civil society is the space between the public and private spheres. With Obamacare, the state advances deeper into the private sphere, further turning the notion of civil society on it’s ear. When government assumes power over the countless private interactions and associations of citizens, gone are those “auxiliary precautions,” as James Madison called them, which act as a “sentinel” against state tyranny.

Earlier in the health care debate, Dennis Prager aptly noted that the “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizenry.”

We all just became a lot smaller.

More below the fold.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Single Question Journalists Must Ask Newly Persuaded and Persuasible Democratic House Members in the Last Hours

--Richard E. Vatz

It’s crunch time.

There will be a great deal of last second persuasion.

I think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama will get the votes they need to pass their health care plan.

What will good and bad journalists ask the voting principals, those who have claimed to be on the fence and those who are newly in favor of Obamacare?

I just watched an empty interview of a Democrat from a Republican district on CNN. He said he was persuaded to vote yes on the Democratic health-care plan by the illness of Natoma Canfield, President Obama’s atypical example of a victim of current healthcare in the United States. After the Democrats’ plan passes, there will, of course, be no more terminally ill patients.

Stop the pap, please.

Serious journalists, ask this: What, if anything, has been promised you or your state, and/or are there any other inducements, if you vote for the health care plan?

There is nothing to be gained by asking what component of the bill persuaded a politician – any answer just is a statement of what expedient poignancy that individual wants to be associated with his/her vote.

What precisely have you been promised to support the health-care overhaul, Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. Representative?

Your elected position demands full disclosure.

The good journalists will ask this repeatedly over the next 2 days.

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University.

More below the fold.

Is Center Maryland A Racket?

Adam Pagnucco of Maryland Politics Watch and I don’t agree on much. However, we do agree that Center Maryland, the so called news site, which bills itself as “the news you need straight down the middle” is anything but.

To recap, Center Maryland is the creation of Steve Kearney and Damian O’Doherty the principle owners of Kearney O’Doherty Public Relations. Kearney is a former top advisor to Governor Martin O’Malley, and O’Doherty worked for O’Malley ally, Baltimore County Executive, Jim Smith. Others involved in Center Maryland include Otis Rolley another former O’Malley aide, and businessmen Martin Knott and Tom Loveland. Center Maryland’s editor is Howard Libit, former editor at the Baltimore Sun, and employee of KO PR.

I first called attention to the distinctly partisan foundations of Center Maryland back in January, as did Adam. However, Democrat partisanship masked in mealy mouthed centrism isn’t the only concern one should have about Center Maryland. Pagnucco notes from Kearney’s Linked In profile:

KO Public Affairs is a strategic communications firm that helps clients win where business, government, politics and media meet. The firm’s clients include leading corporations and associations in the real estate, energy, health care, technology, transportation, retail and sports/entertainment industries.

Pagnucco presents concrete examples of how Center Maryland is “a playground for the real estate, development, and power industries–all represented by KO.”
KO Public Relations does not disclose their clients so readers have no way of knowing if Center Maryland is reporting on stories for which it’s founders are simultaneously representing clients.

Is this all a just a big racket?

Take storm water regulations for example, an issue Center Maryland has covered ad nauseum. In 2007 Kearney’s boss, Martin O’Malley backed and signed into law stringent storm water regulations. Is Kearney now enriching himself by helping clients water down those regulations? We don’t know because KO PR won’t disclose their clients.

Four days ago I emailed Howard Libit and asked point blank if Center Maryland:

1. Has ever reported or editorialized on an issue for which KO PR is representing clients?

2. Does KO PR have clients with a stake in the storm water regulation issue?

3. Center Maryland takes a specific position on clean energy. Does KO PR have clients in the energy industry: wind, solar, nuclear, etc.?

4. In the interests of transparency will Center Maryland insert a disclaimer informing readers that KO PR represents clients with an interest in a story it is reporting?

Libit has not responded to my queries.

Like Pagnucco, I regard Center Maryland as an online appendage of KO Public Relations not a news site.

More below the fold.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Blogger has completely screwed up the hosting function for those of us who were publishing to our own FTP servers. So in the meantime, my blog has moved back to its "legacy" address (from four-plus years ago),

More below the fold.

The Art of the Interview and Follow-up Questions: Fox News Anchor Bret Baier’s B+ Interview with Barack Obama on Health Care

--Richard E. Vatz

Substantive interviews on major national issues with political principals are always fascinating from a persuasive point of view, which is why Fox News anchor Bret Baier’s interview/confrontation with President Barack Obama Wednesday in the White House Blue Room was riveting.

First, if I may, a short tutorial on such interrogations: a major interview on a significant national topic should not just comprise the interviewee’s choosing of the topics and subtopics he or she wishes to discuss. Neither should the person being interviewed be free to give unchallenged interpretations of what is significant and what is not. We have such venues of political rhetoric, and they are called “speeches.”

I teach an advanced course in Media Criticism at Towson University, and I teach my students that the single most important criterion in evaluating an interviewer’s performance in a contentious exchange is the judicious use of the follow-up question. When an answer is not responsive to the question or when there are critical elements that are missing from the answer, the follow-up question is the method by which the interviewee is forced to address either what is being avoided and/or less-than-fully answered, or else specifically to address why the question will not be answered.

Mr. Baier indicated that his primary concern respecting the interview with President Obama was to focus on the process by which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Baier’s view using the “Deem and Pass” and “reconciliation” strategies – as well as Pelosi’s statement that she liked them because Representatives wouldn’t have to vote on the Senate bill -- to avoid a straight up-and-down House vote on the health care package. He asked the President about how this squares with the President’s call for “courage.”

Obama ignored Baier’s request for an explanation of the contradiction.

Baier asked about the “intimidation and arm-twisting” that was cited by many of the 18,000 who e-mailed Fox news with questions for the President.

There was no answer to that inquiry from the President.

Mr. Obama was asked about special deals for states, some of which the President did declaim on, such as the Ben Nelson-negotiated Nebraska “Cornhusker Kickback,” but not others, including the “Connecticut Compromise,” which President Obama was not sure about (full disclosure: neither was this writer).

The President responded repeatedly that he was getting e-mails about the issue of the “broken system,” not the process by which the health care bill would become law. The president said that his concern was not the method by which health care was passed.

The art of asking follow-up questions requires, consistent with the ethos of the person being questioned, that the interviewer not be inappropriately rude. This happens when the respondent – in this case the President of the United States – is not given the opportunity to answer fully that which is being asked. The estimation of when this occurs must be reconciled with the time available for the interview and specific answers. More important, if the respondent makes clear that he or she will not answer a question and why, the interviewer should make explicit note of that and move on to other questions.

If you assume that an interviewer of the President has less leeway because of the latter’s exalted hierarchical position, one could say that Fox News’ Bret Baier was slightly overly interruptive at a few points, but not by much.

More striking was the fact the President Obama was willing to address only the importance per se of universal health care coverage, a topic of which there has been inarguably a surfeit. He was unwilling to discuss “Deem and Pass” and “reconciliation,” by which the House Democrats are intent on violating the morality of legislative process, an insufficiently examined topic which required an interviewer to press the President, whether successfully or not.

Professor Vatz has taught Media Criticism for almost 20 years at Towson University

More below the fold.

Ten Questions: MDGOP Chair, Audrey Scott

In this edition of Ten Questions we ask MDGOP Chair, Audrey Scott Ten Questions about the state of the MDGOP, her vision and goals, and plans for the 2010 elections.

Twitter: @mdreps
Facebook: Maryland Republican Party

1. You inherited a listless state party last year. What were your long term goals for the MDGOP when you assumed office and where would you assess where you are now in achieving those goals?

I would not say the Party was listless last year, the members of the Maryland Republican Party have always been engaged and working to elect Republicans at all levels. It is true, that the Party was in need of a little direction and new leadership.

As the Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party I have one main goal, get Republicans elected! In order to do that, the Party needs to recruit high caliber candidates, raise funds in order to support our candidates, and provide our candidates with training. Year to date, the MDGOP is well on their way to accomplishing our overall goal. We are raising money, we have a number of quality candidates running at all levels and have training seminars scheduled for our candidates and county chairs throughout the spring.

We are working toward making significant changes in Maryland in 2010. Maryland has been struggling under one-party rule for decades, with a short reprieve for four years while Governor Ehrlich was in office. The results of one-party rule are an astronomical unemployment rate, a $2 billion deficit in the state budget and an environment that is nothing short of hostile toward small business owners. It is time to elect Republicans and open the debate to more business-friendly, job-creating policies.

2. Your predecessor was criticized for lack of fundraising and as of last January the party was in debt and at a distinct disadvantage to the Democrats. How is MDGOP’s financial health?

We have been working diligently, you might say obsessively, since the beginning to the year to build up our coffers and things are looking great! We have had over 1,500 individuals contribute to MDGOP in 2010, of that 700+ are brand new donors! We are one track to raise more money in the first quarter of 2010 than MDGOP raised in all of 2009!

3. What are your long term financial/fund raising goals?

The goal is to raise as much money as possible! Long-term, we are working to improve the health of our donor file. We are working to cut our attrition rate and grow the file so going forward the MDGOP can accurately forecast their revenue for years to come.

4. MDGOP has a new executive director in place, what are your other staffing priorities?

We are adding a Political Director beginning the week of March 15th as well as a Research Director. We are working to ensure we have a full staff of professionals to assist our candidates to achieve victory in 2010.

5. What are your goals for candidate recruitment in Maryland and when will they be met?

Our goal is to have a Republican challenging every Democrat who is currently holding office in 2010. With the state of the economy in Maryland and the decisions being made at both the state and federal level we cannot afford to give anyone a pass in 2010. We are actively recruiting candidates and each day more and more candidates are stepping forward to run for office. I believe we are going to have a very good showing in 2010.

6. What is the party doing to help train those recruits?

Both the MDGOP and a number of our county central committees are holding training seminars throughout the spring. The trainings started a few weeks ago and run through the end of April. We have a number of topics including, fundraising, messaging, and new media being covered. Please visit our website,, for a complete list of trainings available.

7. What plans do you have for the party to nurture the grass roots to keep and keep them active and involved?

The MDGOP relies heavily on our grassroots network. They are the heart and soul of this organization and the key to our success. The MDGOP is in constant communication with the grassroots. We are actively developing our voter registration program and our get -out-the-vote program in conjunction with our grassroots network and will work with the grassroots to implement these programs. Additionally, we are planning a week long town hall tour to connect with the grassroots. I will be traveling from Salisbury to Hagerstown and everywhere in between to meet with and talk with our grassroots. Details on my trip across Maryland will be available on our website soon.

8. What are MDGOP’s plans to engage Martin O’Malley and the Democrats in the media?

MDGOP plans to keep doing what we are doing. Weekly, if not daily, we are putting out press releases to highlight the failed policies of the Democrat leadership in both Annapolis and Washington, DC.

9. Scott Brown used new/social media quite effectively in his upset win in Massachusetts. What is MDGOP doing to utilize these new political tools?

MDGOP has been using Facebook and Twitter for over a year now. We have thousands of followers and supporters that we communicate with via social media networks and we plan to continue this effort. As 2010 continues we will be working to grow our following and continue to push our message through the social media networks.

10. What is on tap for the MDGOP Spring Convention and how can folks participate?

The 2010 Spring Convention is going to be very exciting. We are holding training seminars beginning Friday, April 30th through Saturday, May 1st. We have an impressive lineup of speakers and some great ideas and programs to discuss. I encourage everyone to visit our website and download all the information on the convention. Convention will be held at the Princess Royale Resort in Ocean City. Sign-up today, all are welcome; I promise this is an event you are not going to want to miss!

More below the fold.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

House GOP Fights to Reintroduce 20-Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Child Predators

Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates used as procedural maneuver to delay floor vote on the package of seven child sex offender bills approved by the judiciary committee last Friday. According to the Washington Post, Republicans are stalling the bills in order to introduce amendments, which would reconstitute HB 254, the bill mandating 20 year mandatory minimum sentences for second degree child rape and molestation. Judiciary committee chairman Joe Vallario, has refused to bring that bill up for a vote.

The House is expected to vote on the measures today.

Yesterday, Citizens for Jessica’s Law held a rally in front of the state house, featuring Mark Lunsford to urge passage of Senate bills 622 and 395, which respectively call for 20 year mandatory minimums and elimination of good behavior credits for child sex offenders convicted of second degree offenses. The difference between first and second degree offenses is the use of a weapon and an accomplice. Lunsford told the rally “The message to sexual predators is, hey, don't have a weapon, and don't have anybody with you when you do it, and we'll only give you five years.”

Earlier in the day Lunsford appeared on Shari Elliker show on WBAL Radio. You can listen to the interview here.

Lunsford’s daughter, daughter Jessica was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a paroled child sex offender in Florida. In 2007, Vallario and a recalcitrant Democratic majority were the main obstacles to passing Jessica’s Law in Maryland.

At the rally, House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell (R-Calvert County) said of delay, “We’re going to take a closer look at them to make sure that very important provisions haven’t been watered down or haven’t been removed.”

The original parcel of bills set to be voted on contain Governor Martin O’Malley’s legislative proposals, which amount to political window dressing for his reelection campaign. For example, his bill calling for “lifetime supervision” of convicted sex offenders (including GPS monitoring) is misleading because it allows for offenders to petition for release from state supervision after a period of five years. A 13-year old Washington state girl was allegedly raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender while wearing a GPS monitoring device.

Why the governor urged Vallario to approve his own measures and not HB 254 is peculiar given the strong public support for strengthening child sex offender laws in the wake of the murder of Sarah Foxwell last December in Salisbury. O’Malley, who postures as a “tough on crime,” did nothing to help Jessica’s Law move through the legislature in 2007. His own Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown, a trial lawyer himself twisted arms on the floor of the House to kill Jessica’s Law in 2006.

Governor O’Malley needs to step up and publicly lend his support and advocate for 20-year mandatory minimum sentences for second degree child rape and molestation.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on Urban Public Schools is doing a multi-part series on Saving Cleveland. And while the piece below may be about fixing education in Cleveland, it sounds like a lot of ideas that we could be using to save schools in Baltimore.

Governor O'Malley likes to tout the numbers that claim Maryland has "the best public schools in the nation." But if you take a look at the performance of students in Baltimore City Public Schools, the success rate isn't there; particularly when it comes to college attendance and providing legitimate opportunities for students to improve their socioeconomic situation. We owe more to our kids than that, and these are just some of the ideas and issues that we face in trying to provide legitimate opportunities for Maryland's public school students.

More below the fold.

Projecting Democrats Reveal Their Own Corruption and Cronyism

The Maryland Democratic Party’s attacks on presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich are somewhat peculiar. As successive polls show an unannounced Ehrlich gaining on Martin O’Malley, Democrat attacks become ever shriller, and more and more their leaders and spokesmen sound like petulant children.

In light of the facts, Democrat attacks on Ehrlich appear more like Freudian projection, a thin façade barely masking the cronyism and corruption that defines the ruling clique of this one-party state.

Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Susan Turnbull, decried the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC saying it would swing open the door “to limitless influence by corporations in our political system.” Yet nearly all of her party’s administrative funds come from corporations. In fact, state campaign finance records reveal that Maryland Democrats are a wholly owned subsidiary of the largest corporations and top lobbyists in the state. Eighty three percent of their administrative funds come from business entities.

Yet somehow lost in all the Washington Post Baltimore Sun coverage is the irony that Turnbull used thousands of dollars in corporate donations creating “slick ads” to paint Ehrlich as a corporate stooge.

Want to get ahead in business in Maryland, forget about becoming an entrepreneur—Martin O’Malley is running them and their tax dollars out of the state already anyway—your best bet is to become chair of the Maryland Democratic Party.

In 2007, former party chair/wind baron, Wayne Rogers and disgraced lobbyist Gerard Evans used their influence with Senate President Mike Miller (Evans is a Miller protégé) to procure sweetheart legislation. Miller rammed through a bill through the General Assembly allowing Rogers’s wind company to place turbines in Western Maryland, circumventing Public Service Commission authority. Governor O'Malley, who campaigned on appointing "independent" and "competent" PSC commissioners, dutifully signed the bill into law.

Another former Maryland Democrat party chair Michael Cryor, had no problem enriching himself through Baltimore City corruption. In 2008, at the time Cryor was serving as party chair, then-mayor Sheila Dixon announced the awarding of a $200 million city development project to a group, which included Cryor’s private firm and her boyfriend Ronald Lipscomb’s contracting company, Doracon. Dixon awared the project to Cryor/Doracon despite the fact that an independent city panel recommended the contract go to another bidder. Lipscomb and Doracon, through various LLC’s, gave the Maryland Democratic Party over $200,000, most of which came during Cryor’s tenure as party chair.

The Maryland Democratic Party is also the farm team for Annapolis lobbyists. Josh White, another Miller protégé, party’s former executive director, and O’Malley campaign manager is now a top lobbyist for Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, the number one lobbying firm in the state. RLLS and the number two lobbying firm, Alexander and Cleaver, have given the Maryland Democratic Party nearly $100,000.

Then of course, you have Governor O’Malley himself—in the midst of a serious budget crisis—lavishly rewarding an out-of-state campaign contributor with $8.4 million in state contracts.
O'Malley also illegally used the University of Maryland System Board of Regents for fundraising in direct violation of a law Democrats passed with much fanfare to cripple Ehrlich back in 2006.

Try as they might, Maryland Democrats cannot shake the fact that THEY are the party of crony capitalism, and corruption. THEY are the entrenched special interest group, no amount of scare(d) tactics can stop the political hurricane headed their way in 2010.

More below the fold.