Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day.

We hope you take a moment or two from your holiday fun to remember and give thanks to those who gave "the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Ruth Marcus and Joe McGinniss: A Model of Ethical Advocacy and a Cad

--Richard E. Vatz


This blog is about what some people have opined regarding writer Joe McGinniss’s moving in next door to Governor Sarah Palin to write a book on her. As described in disgustingly praising, jocular prose by Jack Shafer of Slate, McGinniss is “renting the house next door to the Palin family in Wasilla, Alaska, from which he is going to research and write his book -- that honors a long tradition of snooping. McGinniss's previous demonstration of overreach in pursuit of a story was to bid all the way to $60,101 in a charity auction on eBay last year for dinner with Palin before dropping out. Compared with that, renting a house next to Palin for five months seems pedestrian.”

What McGinniss is doing is simply despicable. No qualifiers are necessary. But, as I indicated, I am even more interested here in honor and dishonor in opinion-writing.

All of my adult life – over 40 years, year-counters -- I have observed that there are two main categories of opinionated people: those who have values of decency and fairness and are open to evidentiary appeals to modify their positions, and those simply who have no such values and are evidence-averse. There are combinations and permutations of these two extremes, but the first and second two qualities usually go together.

When I limit this dichotomy to public figures, I focus on politicians and pundits. There are matters which transcend politics and political philosophy, and they often deal with a basic decency and fairness in dealing with issues and opposition – you don’t misquote your opponents; you give your interlocutor a chance to make his/her argument, and you exercise honorable deportment in pursuing said issues. Another example: you don’t make irrelevant ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with you.

As I have been fascinated by the qualities of argumentation of exponents, parenthetically I confess I am most intrigued by honorable liberals and dishonorable conservatives. Without getting into either category in this particular blog generally, let me focus on a clash today in The Washington Post.

I have been a fan of liberal Post columnist Ruth Marcus for a long time. I once e-mailed her a compliment regarding her criticisms of the distracting, comprehension-destroying Microsoft Powerpoint program, and she answered my missive substantively. But really what impresses me is her consistent ethicality. She and I disagree on many, if not most, issues, but I never find her using utterly fatuous arguments.

This is not a new observation of mine. Nearly two years ago, I e-mailed David Zurawik, another principled liberal writer, “David, you win my ‘Ruth Marcus Award’ for honest reporting by a ‘progressive’ reporter.”

Which brings us to today’s Marcusian attack on Joe McGinniss, a writer who is probably liberal, but who has incurred the wrath of said partisans from time to time. Moreover, he has a career marked by consistent accusations of lack of journalistic honesty: charges of plagiarism, misrepresentation of political preferences to gain access to sources, etc. and more etc.

Marcus in The Washington Post’s blog “Post Partisan” calls McGinniss’s move next to Gov. Palin and her family “unnecessarily intrusive,” not much different from “stalking,” violative of even a public figure’s right to “privacy,” and she accurately states that “seizing the opportunity to live next door is creepy.” Slightly attenuating her admirable attack on McGinniss’s creepiness, Marcus closes by saying that “he is no mensch.”

I have a pretty good claim of disinterest regarding kerfuffles in which Sarah Palin has been involved. I find her conservatism attractive, but some of her political behavior, such as withdrawing from the governorship of Alaska, is politically and governmentally indefensible.

Marcus’s criticism of McGinniss is right on the mark, if insufficiently harsh and condemning.

Read more on this issue: there is not a personally decent writer or commentator who will not be appalled at what Joe McGinniss has done to Sarah Palin and her husband and children.


Professor Vatz teaches an advanced Persuasion class and a Media Criticism class at Towson University


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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ted Patterson for Delegate, District 34B

Our latest endorsement is of somebody who does two things extremely well; articulates the conservative viewpoint as it relates to the size of government and the economy, as well we works passionately for the advancement of conservative ideals and Republican candidates. To that end, Red Maryland endorses Ted Patterson for Delegate in District 34B.

To take a look at the issues Ted is focusing on during his campaign, it becomes immediately clear that he "gets it." The two main foci of the Patterson campaign are issues that are important to every Marylander and issues that are important to Cecil County. He understands that as a member of the House of Delegates, one needs to take the view that voters and issues are not just important to the residents of the state, but also to the people that send you to Annapolis in the first place. He supports repealing Martin O'Malley's historic tax increases, and working to control the spending addiction of the Democratic Majority. Just as important, Ted also understands the importance of education and the issues facing Maryland's teachers and students, working to return control to local school districts and removing the influence of bureaucrats and politicians in our school system.

Just as importantly as Ted's commitment to conservative issues has been his commitment to Republican and Conservative causes. Few people walk the walk of working towards changing our state like Ted Patterson. His service to the party, to conservative causes, and to his local community is very rare to see in a local candidate, much less one as young as Ted: his local and state Farm Bureau, Board of the Cecil Land Trust, Cecil Land Use Alliance, member of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, President of the Cecil County Young Republicans (and yes, my running mate in my campaign for State YR Chair last year). Rarely does a day go by without me receiving a phone call, message, or text from Ted asking for volunteers to help in Cecil County, and usually on behalf of the party or other candidates. Ted is one of the rare breed in politics that puts the cause ahead of personal ambition.

We need a Delegate like Ted Patterson who will fight for our citizens and for conservative causes in Annapolis. We encourage you to support Ted's campaign at www.pattersonfordelegate.com.


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An Invitation to Camp Astroturf

Remember the Democrats Rapid Response scheme they launched a few months ago? Ever want to find out some more about it? Now's your chance!

I want to specially invite you to our Upper/Mid Shore Regional Rapid
Response Training that will take place next Saturday (June 5) at 12:00
PM. It will be held at the Chestertown Library (408 High Street in
Chestertown 21620). This is our second regional training in Maryland,
and should last until 2 PM. Refreshments will be provided.

Maryland Rapid Response is an important statewide initiative that will
empower Democrats around the state to quickly react to items in the
media and events on the ground that are important to the President,
Governor and Maryland Democrats. This landmark program will help ensure
Democratic victory in November.

At this training a variety of topics will be covered including social
media, how to write effective LTEs, blogging and new media, and winning
the battle on the air through radio and television. We have outstanding
presenters from the Maryland Democratic Party, Organizing for America,
and Maryland Grassroots Response.

I hope you can join me.

Our job over the next few months could not be more important. We have a
real race on our hands. We have to keep working hard to guarantee
victory on Election Day.

Let me know if I'll see you next Saturday. Training is open to any
interested Democrat so feel free to invite your friends and family.

Thank you for all your passion and hard work so far. Our success will be
determined by you.

Matt

Matt Verghese
Director
Maryland Rapid Response
One can only imagine the type of blathering points and paeans to Barack Obama and Martin O'Malley will be discussed during this assemblage of party stooges "grassroots activists."

Would be fascinating if a Republican happened to make their way into the proceedings and report back though, no?


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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tone Deaf in Queen Anne's County

I live in Queen Anne's County, which is facing a $17 million budget deficit. The proposed solution by the the county's Citizens Budget Committee is to reduce spending by $5.8 million and RAISE taxes. The committees is recommending a increase in the real property tax rate t0 $0.87 per $100 of assessment from $0.77, and an increase in the county's piggy back tax from 2.8% to 3.2%. This would put QAC's income tax rate on par with PG, Montgomery, and Howard--the most expensive counties in the state in which to live.

Forget for a moment that the committee did not provide the public with an itemized budget to review only an opaque summary, there are more cuts that can be made especially in the education budget, and that there are non-tax revenue options the county is not pursuing--the committee authors published a condescending executive summary, in which they saw fit to preemptively insult opponents of their proposed tax increases. Page seven from the committee's executive summary:











More on the alternatives to the recommendations later, but the committee authors did themselves no favors by insulting tax increase opponents, who possess ideas to solve the budget problem without doing on the backs of county taxpayers.


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A Conservative’s Take on Dr. Rand Paul and His Misplaced Conservative Principles

--Richard E. Vatz


Does Dr. Rand Paul, Republican Kentucky U.S. Senatorial candidate, believe, as the Louisville Courier-Journal paraphrases his view, that “…private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group?"

There was Dr. Paul, being interviewed by MSNBC liberal provocateur Rachel Maddow, responding to an array of questions on this matter and doing what liberals have made their own rhetorical specialty: dodging questions of policy when a responsive answer likely would be unacceptable to a large majority of their constituents.

You cannot imagine how difficult it is for a conservative to compliment the interviewing doggedness of a generally irresponsible liberal interrogator, but in a 10-minute plus interview Ms. Maddow asked Rand Paul multiple variations, without success, of whether he supported the right of private business to legally exclude categories of people they don’t cotton to (please excuse pun)from being customers of their businesses.

Over and over and over, Dr. Paul said that he personally finds such racial discrimination abhorrent and that he likes a great majority of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, save, he implied, any Titles of that bill that outlaw discrimination by private businesses, save private clubs. He would not say unambiguously that he supported the right of private business to discriminate against anyone, but it was clear he did.

I like a lot of Dr. Paul’s conservative positions, but I reject his unsophisticated, unnuanced, unthinking supporting of one principle over any other.

People who hold on to a principle, in this case the right of private interests to serve or not serve clients based on their demographic characteristics irrespective of any practical implications, are like those Constitutionalists who believe, in Potter Stewart’s words, that the precepts of that great document should make it a “suicide pact” rather than yield a principled point.

As conservative Richard Weaver, Jr. argued in his Ethics of Rhetoric, principles are the bedrock of conservative thought, while circumstance and consequences characterize liberal thought. But often when a principle appears to be operative in appraising a situation, there is a competing principle to which reasonable people can and should adhere.

The idea in 2010 that a private business could tell customers of any race or religion that they may not enjoy equal treatment violates the great principle of “equal opportunity,” which to reasonable Americans should trump the freedom of a private business to discriminate.

Dr. Rand Paul should know that, and if he doesn’t, this conservative would not support his candidacy to be a United States Senator.

There are other views of Dr. Paul, such as his apparent “caveat emptor” view opposing all government-imposed safety standards, that also violate a wealth of competing principles.

But I can find nothing as abhorrent and indefensible as believing that private business has the right to exclude by race, religion, sexual preference or creed any of my fellow citizens from equal accommodations, rights and opportunities.

I hope I’m in a large majority among conservatives on this matter.



Professor Vatz teaches an advanced Persuasion class and a class in Media Criticism at Towson University


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Scent of Irony

This week, Maryland's First Lady Katie O'Malley is making a big push to stop bullying in our public schools.

So then, I wonder why her husband Martin O'Malley refuses to condemn the intimidation and bullying by union thugs of an innocent 14-year old boy trapped in his home?

So does that mean that Martin O'Malley supports all kinds of bullying, or just the bullying of his political opponents?


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Slick Spots

Martin O'Malley's endorsement of union violence isn't the only bad decision that's coming back to bite him. After all, his pronouncements about oil washing up on Maryland's shores sure looks stupid considering it was O'Malley who took over 20 percent of the state's Oil Disaster Cleanup Fund to cover his excessive spending in other areas.

Of course, we have documented Martin O'Malley's irresponsible budgeting for some time now. Maybe O'Malley doesn't understand that you have contingency funds such as the Oil Disaster Cleanup Fund in case of a contingency such as the need to fund an Oil Disaster Cleanup, not to line the pockets of the union thugs and special interests who support his candidacy.

With Martin O'Malley in Annapolis, you get a Governor who never has your best interests at heart. It's past time to put the adults back in charge in Annapolis. Just another reason Red Maryland backs Bob.

(Crossposted)


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Monday, May 24, 2010

Purple Shirted Punks

By now, you might have heard of the absolutely abhorrent scene in Montgomery County where 500 SEIU protesters showed up on the lawn of a Bank of American lawyer and scared the hell out of the lawyer's 14-year old son, who was home alone at the time......well, that is if you get your news from places that aren't the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post, who seem to have punted on the story.



Nobody was charged with trespassing. Nobody was charged with inciting a riot. Nobody was charged with anything. Never mind the fact that every one of these protesters was on the lawyer's property illegal. This apparently is perfectly acceptable behavior in Montgomery County.

Of course, this isn't acceptable behavior anywhere in a free country, whether or not you're doing it in support of the right or of the left. As Erick Erickson said:

When it becomes fair game to attack and intimidate private citizens and their families to advance a public policy, we cross over from an orderly civil democracy to something decidedly third world.
And that's what this is. Third-world thuggery from purple-shirted SEIU punks. It's an embarrasment to the country that these people are taken seriously.....

.....oh, you think that the SEIU isn't taken seriously? Because all you have to do is take a look at the White House employee roster or guest list to see that the SEIU is a big player in Barack Obama's White House.

But I'm not even going to focus on that. Because the SEIU is more importantly a major in the Maryland Democratic Party as we have referenced before. A huge source of funding for the Democratic establishment. What Senator Mac Middleton referred to as "the hand that feeds you."The people who bus rioters to Queen Anne's County to protest Obamacare. An intergral part of the Thugocracy.

Of course what that means is that the Purple Menace is an integral part to the victory strategy of Martin O'Malley and Susan Turnbull's Democratic Party. And there has been not a peep from either of the two regarding this embarrassing and crass display that occured right in their backyard.

In this case silence is acquiescence and acceptance of the SEIU's antics and behavior. Therefore, I am demanding that Governor Martin O'Malley and Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Susan Turnbull condemn and repudiate the intimidation and violation of civil rights the SEIU brought forth upon this lawyer's family. Anything short of all full condemnation and a full repudiation will tell me anyway that Martin O'Malley and Maryland Democrats are in support of thuggish violence against their opposition.

It's time for honest Democrats to take a stand against this third-world way of participating in the process. But sadly, I do not for one second believe that Martin O'Malley or the Maryland Democratic Party has the guts to take such a principled stand.

Call Martin O'Malley and Susan Turnbull and let them know that Maryland will not stand for extremism:
Governor Martin O'Malley
Email: governor@gov.state.md.us
Phone: 410-974-3901; 1-800-811-8336

Matthew Gallagher, Governor's Chief of Staff
Email: mgallagher@gov.state.md.us
Phone: 410-974-5258

Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull
Email: sturnbull@mddems.org
Phone: 410-269-8818; 301-858-8818

Democratic Party Executive Director Travis Tazelaar
Email: ttazelaar@mddems.org
Phone: 410-269-8818
(Crossposted)


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Ground Control to Susan Turnbull.....do you copy?

Susan Turnbull has completely lost touch with reality.

As you might have heard, the Office of Attorney General Doug Gansler has cleared WBAL radio and Governor Bob Ehrlich from any alleged wrongdoing in the continuation of Governor Ehrlich's Radio Show on WBAL. You can read the opinion here.

Susan Turnbull, the blithering chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party issued a response to this which is somewhat otherworldly:

Today’s opinion is not surprising given that Bob Ehrlich is using a loophole in the law to keep his talk show on WBAL-radio. Common sense and Bob Ehrlich’s own actions clearly show that he is a candidate for governor. By exploiting a technicality in the law to absurdly claim he is not a candidate, he has managed to lawyer his way out of playing by the rules. Bob Ehrlich is violating the spirit of this law, just like he continues to use his Womble Carlye lobbying firm as his campaign headquarters. Bob Ehrlich is violating the spirit of the law, and he knows it. But like most lobbyists, Bob Ehrlich is willing to use whatever loophole he can to get what he wants for himself and his clients.
Mind you, an I think I need to emphasize this for the Democrats that seem to be a little not so swift on the uptake, a Democratic Attorney General agreed that Bob Ehrlich and WBAL committed no wrongdoing, and your droning on about it makes you look stupid.

And of course, if you read the opinion, you will note that the opinion relies heavily on the protections of the First Amendment. So it would appear to a cynic, at least, that Susan Turnbull and the Maryland Democratic Party are opposed to your First Amendment rights.

Of course, Turnbull and the Democrats look equally stupid when they go blabbing onand on about lobbyists when lobbyists who actually committed crimes are revered as the highest, holiest saints of the Democratic Party.

Susan Turnbull has lost all sense of political reality and political sense, if she had any at all. Turnbull's continuous blabbering about grievances real or imagined while hoping people don't look behind the Democratic curtain, and goes to show how much of a tailspin Maryland's Democratic Party is heading into Martin O'Malley's impending defeat this November.

(Crossposted)


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Nattering Nabobs

It appears the Maryland Democratic Party, and the O’Malley campaign are searching for an oppo researcher. The job posting below doesn’t specify the exact “statewide campaign based in Baltimore,” but it’s a stretch to think that Barbara Mikulski believes she is in danger of missing out on her fifth coronation as United States Senator that she needs opposition research.

This strikes as odd. O’Malley and the Dems went negative early and it hasn’t worked—the race is a dead heat. And their solution is to double down on the negativity?

So much for running on O’Malley’s record!

Furthermore, that the Dems feel the need to hire an oppo researcher doesn’t reflect well on the performance of the tweens currently running the show at 33 West St. Way to earn your salaries kidos.

Nice to know all that corporate and labor union cash is well spent!

Gotta love the Democrats strategy here: paint Bob Ehrlich as a lobbyist—even though they admit they have no proof Ehrlich lobbies—while simultaneously acting as the farm team for Annapolis and DC lobbying firms.



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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Democrats hate lobbyists...

...unless they ARE the lobbyists.



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Friday, May 21, 2010

No More Great Speeches...Cause: Lack of Domestic and Foreign Policy Consensus; Consequence: Possible Foreign Policy Catastrophe

--Richard E. Vatz


It is often said in my field that there are no American “Great Speeches” any more. This is true for discernible reasons. For a speech to be great it has to attract a consensus of Americans, and the country is so seriously divided that there may not be a position any longer on which powerful, eloquent speaking can move masses of people.

When top professors of rhetoric (O.K. – I was one of those consulted) produced the “Top 100 Speeches” some years ago, the results were heavy on years-ago domestic speeches deploring racism, sexism and economic deprivation and foreign policy speeches deploring the totalitarian enemies of America, particularly the Soviet Union and the arms race against communism.

The only cited speech by President Bill Clinton was his speech against the “terrible sin” of domestic terrorism in his “Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Address.”

There may be a lack of issues today that can generate a consensus.

Racial matters may not be entirely settled, but there is no constituency of any note that opposes equality.

When then-Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech in March 2008, "A More Perfect Union," on the state of racial relations in America, many were predicting that it would be viewed by America’s universal audience as the next “Great Speech,” but many of us doubted it. There was nothing in the speech opposing positions that were held by great masses of Americans. In addition the speech was what we in the field of rhetoric call an “apologia,” a defense of the speaker’s own questionable position, in this case his friendship with a man infamous for incendiary anti-white and anti-American views, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

President Obama tried to argue that it was unfair to see Rev. Wright as a personification of evil views because for a long time, the President claimed, he (Wright) had been a far different person.

Does this sound like the grist for a historically “Great Speech?”

As indicated above, foreign policy has long been the source for “Great Speeches,” but the speaker needs consensus, an agreed-upon enemy and a crucial issue. Charles Krauthammer has a column today that would seem to qualify in his “The Fruits of Weakness” article which cites inveterate enemies of America and the consequentiality of President Obama’s irresponsible current foreign policy, which may lead to catastrophe. Krauthammer warns that the Administration’s policy of “appeasement” (twice) is leading to an “America in decline” producing other ascendant powers and a game-changing “Iran’s nuclear program” success.

This could have been a "Great Speech:" think President Ronald Reagan’s “Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Pearl Harbor Address,” or President John F. Kennedy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis Address,” speeches which aptly define our enemies in all of their premeditated evil. But Krauthammer, who also may lack sufficient public standing to provide a “Great Speech,” will have to wait until the consequences of President Obama’s appeasement reach irrevocable fruition before these warnings will be seen as prescient. More and more it seems President Obama's weakness in foreign policy is born of a lack of anger at truly anti-American, anti-Western premises and provocations.

No, there are no longer many “Great Speeches” in America. Many of the great domestic questions have either an overwhelming consensus or a distinct lack of one when adulterated, but the truly momentous foreign policy issues have lost theirs.

On those great questions the “Great Speeches” will likely be recognized only after it is too late to follow their advice.



Professor Vatz teaches an advanced Persuasion course at Towson University


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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh No MoCo...Again

Watch Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal insult constituents who oppose the misguided county carbon tax he favors then pat himself on the back for his ingenuity.



Montgomery’s carbon tax would put a $5 levy on each ton of carbon dioxide any company produces over 1 million tons. The tax would affect only one company, Mirant, which operates a coal-fired plant in Dickerson, MD. Supporters of the tax say the county would reap $15 million from the tax.

Remember businesses don’t pay taxes. They pass the cost of taxes on to consumers, in this case the utilities, which purchase the power from Mirant and the Maryland ratepayers to whom the utilities sell that power. In essence, Montgomery’s carbon tax is a regulatory tax foisted upon all Maryland utility customers.

Furthermore, it’s not the most economically sound course to tax a coal-fired power plant in Maryland, a state which generates 60% of it’s energy above the national average from coal.

Environmentalists will naturally counter that the externality of carbon dioxide emissions, which they allege drives global warming, is far more costly than the proposed tax. However, that presumption rests on the fallacy that reduced carbon dioxide emissions equal lower temperatures. They don’t, which is why environmentalists couch their arguments in terms of reduced carbon dioxide levels not temperature increase averted. Case in point, the Waxman-Markey the federal cap and trade bill passed by the House would surely reduce carbon emissions (while increasing energy bills and unemployment) but result in a meaningless one nine-hundredth of a degree change in average global temperature by 2050.

Millionaires are fleeing, County Executive Ike Leggett wants to raise energy taxes on business that create jobs, council members side with public sector unions against solutions to budget crises the unions caused, and now Leventhal insults citizens who show the temerity to question the efficacy of a dubious tax.

Seriously, what’s the matter with Montgomery County?


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Public Sector Unions Gone Wild

You have to hand it to public employee unions for their chutzpah. Only they could rally against solutions to a problem they helped create.

Last month the Municipal & County Government Employees Union and it’s allies held a rally atop a parking garage behind the Montgomery County council building to protest budget cuts—the county faces a $760 million deficit mostly from unsustainable public employee salaries and benefits. MCGEO claimed the cuts would have “a huge impact on services for county residents… transit, school health room aides who serve public school students, libraries, corrections and public safety.”MCGEO argued that Montgomery County needed a “new approach…to eliminate structural inefficiencies.”

“Don’t Californicate Montgomery County” was MEGEO’s slogan.

Only it wasn’t cuts in “services” that had MGEO’s shrieking harpies up in arms.

No, the real impetus for the gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth was the county backing out of salary increases it can’t afford and eliminating phantom salary increases to county employee pensions. In a deal negotiated last year by County Executive Ike Leggett, the county would contribute to employee pensions based on raises employees did not receive. Councilman Phil Andrews, who made the proposal, told the Washington Post eliminating the phantom increases would save over $7 million next year and $200 million over the next four decades. In response, four of Andrews council colleagues, including Valerie Ervin—a former labor organizer for MCGEO’s parent union—joined MCGEO on the garage chanting “No justice no peace.” Ervin told the Post “Look around you and see who's had your back," a riff on state Democratic state senator Mac Middleton’s dictum “It's labor and trial lawyers that get Democrats in office. And you don't bite off the hand that feeds you.”

Of course, retaining lavish benefits for ghost salary increases would indeed Californicate Montgomery County. Take the case of Vallejo just outside San Francisco. In 2008, Vallejo went bankrupt mostly due to unsustainably lavish public employee pay benefits. Yet, the city’s “work out plan” did not affect public-employee pensions, and in fact the city increased pension contributions. Even after going bankrupt the Vallejo city fathers couldn’t find the political courage to stand up to it’s public employee unions.

Leggett and some council members deserve credit for standing up and saying no to politically powerful unions, which are rarely told no.

Unfortunately, Montgomery County’s problem is a microcosm of the tsunami heading towards the state. As Maryland Reporter’s Len Lazarick points out the Comptroller’s most recent comprehensive financial report for Maryland shows pension liabilities at $17.5 billion and retiree health benefit obligations exceeding $15 billion. As Lazarick noted that is a 25-year liability roughly the size of the current state budget. The cost of paying that bill: another $1 billion a year.

A Pew Center for the States report showed that at the end of the fiscal year 2008, Maryland has funded less than one percent of the total amount due for retiree health benefits and state pensions were funded at less than the 80% actuarial benchmark level the U.S. Government Accounting Office says is preferred by experts.

In 2006, the General Assembly created a Blue Ribbon Commission to study the issue and report back at the end of 2009. Naturally, public employee unions howled at the few detailed recommendations the commission proposed. True to form the legislature kicked the can down the road by extending the commission to 2011 after the next election.

The stark reality is that Maryland cannot afford the extravagant pensions and benefits for public employees. They are simply unsustainable. Maryland politicians can kowtow to their union masters for reelection this November, but the day of reckoning is looming and at some point the unions must be told no. We can’t afford it.


More below the fold.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bullying By Its Right Name: Assault and Battery; Andrés A. Alonso’s Apologia

Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.

Bullying has become the topic du jour in Baltimore City. In what one hopes will be an infamous op-ed piece in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore County Schools CEO Andrés A. Alonso writes the following, after referring to victims’ threatening suicide as a result of bullying as an “incident:” “The reflexive response to school-based bullying is often to exclude the bully. That doesn't work. Last year, the Baltimore City Health Department released a study that showed a strong correlation between children who had been suspended multiple times and those who committed, and were victims of, homicide. Children who bully are themselves almost always victims of bullying — and even violence —and they replicate with other kids what they see adults do. So to remove them from school is, in essence, to condemn them to a cycle of violence. It is a narrow and unconscionable solution.”

That remark is fatuous in a number of ways: “exclud[ing] the bully…doesn’t work…” Doesn't work for whom? It indeed works for innocent victims. Bullies are often victims of bullying; so what? Batterers are often victims of assault and battery as well; should that excuse them or does it argue for counseling the poor dears?

Speaking of assault and battery, in response to CEO Alonso’s article of surrender, a Sun reader wrote a letter pleading, “First let's get away from the cute little word ‘bully.’” That correspondent is right, but what is the appropriate rhetorical appellation? “Assault and battery.” That’s what most bullying is -- criminal threats and/or attempts to commit violent injury -- albeit it is perpetrated in schools mostly by minors.

(Not always, of course. When Yeardley Love’s apparent murderer -- please spare me that his attorney interprets the requirements of his job as saying the killing was an accident; I am not speaking legally -- George Huguely cowardly attacked a sleeping roommate, one assumes he was a legal adult.)

What do legislators think of defining bullying as “assault and battery?” Well, in Virginia a proposed bill provided “that any person who engages in the bullying, harassment, and intimidation of a student on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity shall be subject to punishment for assault…”

The bill failed.

How do school officials below the rank of Mr. Alonso act? There are no statistics of which I am aware, but, anecdotally, years ago many principals would not put up with bullying, favoring suspensions, expulsions, and, long ago, corporal punishment.

One example does not prove typicality, but in the late 1990’s Cockeysville Middle School had a principal who, according to many witnesses, avoiding confronting accusations of bullying (again, assault and battery) at all costs. In some of the cases parents confronted bullies’ parents, with the result that the bullying was stopped.

What the schools should have is a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy. The first confirmed accusation should result in school and parental confrontation with the miscreant student and possible suspension if the bullying is a battery. A second confirmed battery should result in the expulsion of the perpetrator.

Draconian? Think of the effects of living in abject fear of even going to school – for all waking hours of a day.

Is this a panacea for bullying – assault and battery -- in schools? Of course not: some parents of delinquents are not at home, and others do not care. Some young people are inveterate felons-in-waiting.

But it would be a start. Baltimore County Schools CEO Andrés A. Alonso’s perspective is his sheen for perpetuating City students’ horror of constantly living in panic, fearing for their safety; it is, however, quite reassuring to all students intent on terrorizing their fellow students.

Bullying assaults and batteries have always been around, but not always suffered with a wink.

Let’s have some action.


Professor Vatz teaches an advanced Persuasion course at Towson University


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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Screwball Antics Continue to Mar AA Nominating Commission

The Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission process continues to provide us with new and wondrous screwball antics that continue to show why the process should never have been created in the first place:

Three years after the state legislature revamped the way members are placed on the county Board of Education, confusion over the details continues to muck up the process.

In another case in point this week, the commission that nominates candidates to the governor for appointment relied on a new opinion from the state Attorney General's Office to conclude that board President Ned Carey was seeking another term.

Meanwhile, Carey was reading the law differently.

"My understanding was, the way the law read, by not submitting an application, I would not be considered," he said Thursday. "It wasn't my intention to run."

Just a day earlier, Joshua Greene, chairman of the School Board Nominating Commission, had said Carey was definitely still in the running even though he had not submitted an application, because under a ruling by the attorney general, incumbents don't have to be vetted. Their names go straight to the governor for consideration.

"He'll have his name forwarded, and that's it," Greene said.

Read the whole thing.....and incidentally I find it extremely curious that nobody asked these questions when two Republicans were up for reappointment to the School Board, and thus allowed them to go through the public confirmation process.

This kind of slapstick comedy shows exactly why a Nominating Commission process continues to lack legitimacy (in addition, of course, to the other well documented reasons why such a process is a travesty foisted upon county residents). The fact of the matter is that the General Assembly in creation of Nominating Commission process punted on a lot of the nitty gritty details of the process. That might not be a bad thing, except for the minor detail that the Nominating Commission is made up of political hacks who don't seem to be bothered to actually give a damn.

This process involving Ned Carey is a joke, and continues to undermine whatever credibility the Nominating Commission might have had by providing adequate incumbency protection by allowing sitting members to circumvent the process. And once again, it is necessary to point out that legitimate elections would eliminate all of the cloak and dagger stuff, opinions from the office of the Attorney General, and the lack of credibility in the process, and replace it with a process that would adequately provide representation for the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Anne Arundel County...

(crossposted)


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Friday, May 14, 2010

Michael Hough for Delegate, District 3B

In April, RedMaryland announced it would begin a series of endorsements for conservative candidates around the state.Greg Kline stated in his endorsement of Vic Bernson in 33A:

As Brian has written, the editors here at RedMaryland are making endorsements in contested Republican primaries throughout the state, in large part, to allow the conservatives who read our blog to direct their positive energies into supporting candidates. Specifically, we are seeking to promote candidates to the General Assembly who are not only conservative but have the ability and passion to lead the GOP caucus in a conservative direction and the tenacity to redirect our state from the disastrous liberal course in which we now find ourselves.

This means candidates with fresh enthusiasm and the will to resist the crucible that Annapolis can be for conservatives. It also means that districts which are safely Republican are not ignored or taken for granted but will receive particular focus to ensure that just the kind of conservative leaders I have described are serving these cornerstone districts in the General Assembly.

Based on those principles we continue our endorsements today by encouraging you to vote for Michael Hough for Delegate in District 3B.

Michael Hough is the right candidate for the District and for the State. His solutions to the problems facing Maryland may not be news to anyone outside the state but they represent a sea change in the way business is conducted in Annapolis. His commitment to jobs and economic development by the proven means of lowering taxes and reducing the size and intrusiveness of government makes him a much superior choice to the incumbent Charles Jenkins (who is not the same as Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins).

While Mr. Jenkins talks a good game we find not only his current appointment troubling but his record as a Frederick County commissioner is decidedly problematic.

Mr. Jenkins has the distinction of being the only Republican delegate appointed by Governor O’Malley. When Delegate Rick Weldon resigned, sacrificing his integrity in the process, it was left to the Washington and Frederick County Republican Central Committees to select a replacement. The Frederick County delegation voted of Michael Hough. For reasons beyond the ken of mere mortals the Washington County delegation, and only a sliver of 3B is in Washington County, decided to deadlock the vote. This led to Mr. Jenkins’ appointment by Governor O’Malley to replace the rather malleable Mr. Weldon. (The whole sordid story can be found here.)

Beyond the circumstances of the appointment, Mr. Jenkins’ record of raising taxes (he voted to increase or create taxes on real property, the transfer of real property, and the sale of beverages), a spotty record on life issues, and his opposition to charter schools indicate he is out of step with District 3B, with the Republican party, and with Maryland. He should not be returned to Annapolis by the voters.

If Mr. Ehrlich is re-elected as governor this fall, Michael Hough will quickly become one of his most valuable allies in the General Assembly. If Mr. O’Malley is re-elected then he will have one less member in the go-along-get-along Republican caucus in Annapolis which has contributed so much to the marginalization of the Maryland GOP.

Michael Hough is the right man for District 3B and he is the right man for the Maryland GOP. We encourage you to vote for him September 14. It’s important.

We encourage you to volunteer and donate at his website and you can follow Michael's campaign on Facebook.



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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hartley ignores Legum's shady side

Eric Hartley had a write-up in today's Capital about District 30, including a few brief words about left wing darling Judd Legum. The way that Hartley presented Legum left out, shall we say, a few key details:

Judd Legum, a 31-year-old Democratic candidate for delegate, walks a narrow line as he makes his first run for office. Unlike the Republicans, he's not running against the Democratic power structure. Legum is hoping to knock off Del. Ron George, the Republican incumbent, and see his fellow Democrats re-elected.

At the same time, Legum doesn't want to be too closely associated with the old-line Democrats in the district, at least publicly.

"I think we could benefit from new energy and fresh thinking in the state legislature," said Legum, an attorney who lives in downtown Annapolis. "I come from a different generation, have a different perspective on things."

There are, as usual in things associated with Legum, a certain level of untruthiness to the things that he said, as we have documented at Red Maryland. One of the two most glaring of those things, of course is that Legum has "fresh thinking" that is going to shake up the state legislature, when Legum's far-left ideology is the same old tried and true, tax and tax and tax, do as I say not as I do, statist politics that have brought Maryland to the bring of financial collapse.

The other, of course, is that fact that Legum isn't fighting the establishment; he IS the establishment, considering that he has worked for ethically challenged establishment Democrats, that he is bought and paid for by Washington lobbyists and Clinton staffers, out of state Democratic interests, and of course might be receiving donations of questionable legality. It's hard for Legum to fight the problems within the Democratic Party when he is part of the problem with the Democratic Party.

But the somehow, Hartley completely ignores Legum's being the brains behind the deceitful and thuggish Center for American Progress, who just found themselves caught in another lie this week about the net neutrality legislation.

Now my problem with Hartley's story is not the fact that Hartley mentioned Legum in his story. It's the fact that the mainstream media, most glaringly the Capital, has completely ignored this race and the skeletons in Judd Legum's closet. The truth is out there; why won't the Capital report it other than to protect just another establishment, out of touch Democrat running for office?

Of course, that's why blogs like this one exist....not only do we provide a voice for Maryland's middle and working class families, but we also work hard to keep frauds like Judd Legum from being elected to office.

(Crossposted)


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

To Those Questioning Our Consistency

Prevaricators and dimwits are criticizing our endorsement of Bob Ehrlich as a betrayal of our conservative principles. We laugh at that charge of hypocrisy.

We would remind our critics that no less a conservative than William F. Buckley Jr. (the dimwits will have to Google him) insisted that conservatives support the most conservative candidate electable. We agree with sage advice of that dictum from the godfather of American conservatism.

While we have our disagreements with Ehrlich, being conservatives we do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. That folly is for progressives.

Conservatives should feel no inconsistency or incompatibility with their principles in supporting Bob Ehrlich. He is the most conservative electable candidate to defeat Martin O’Malley. Thus the impetus behind the accusations of hypocrisy are revealed. They are afraid, very afraid.

As a final rejoinder to our critics on this matter, we paraphrase WFB:

We won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting you really believe what you just said.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Salisbury is the Place to Be this June

What are you doing June 18th, 19th and 20th?

  • Do you want the opportunity to meet and network with Republicans from up and down the East Coast and across the country?
  • Do you want to have the opportunity to meet Governor Bob Ehrlich, State Senator Andy Harris, State Republican Party Chair Audrey Scott, and other leading Republicans?
  • Do you want to learn more about campaign strategy, new media, and other facets of running a successful campaign?
  • And, most importantly....do you want to have some fun with fellow conservatives?
Join us June 18-20 in Salisbury for the 2010 Maryland Young Republican Convention and Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Maryland Young Republicans. It is going to be a great opportunity for Republicans from across Maryland and across the region to get together, discuss the future of our state and our party, and create the lasting relationships that are necessary so that we can work together to win back our state from the Democratic establishment.

If you have any questions about the event, just ask me.

(Crossposted)


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Monday, May 10, 2010

Ignore the Hype: This is a Dead Heat

I think we all know what the headline from this morning's Washington Post story said about the Governor's race: O'Malley has 8-point lead over Ehrlich among registered voters.

And it is in the headline that shows exactly why the headline is misleading, and why this race is already too close to call.

The key point of the headline and of the poll results as they are reported by John Wagner, Aaron Davis and Jon Cohen is that Martin O'Malley is far ahead of Bob Ehrlich when you restrict the data to registered voters; in that case, O'Malley has 49-41 lead. The problem with that part of the poll, however, is that while it deals with a statistically significant number of voters for the scope of a statewide race, the results are just that; registered voters.

That 49-41 number is not indicative of the people who are actually going to go vote in the polls on Election Day. As the Post story notes (but in the second paragraph, naturally) is that among those individuals who are certain to vote on election day, Bob Ehrlich and Martin O'Malley are tied 47-47.

Of course, a poll of registered voters and a poll of certain voters are both reasonably meaningless; the real action in polling is in the realm of likely voters, because those are the margins that make the difference in an election as close as this one. And for reasons that I cannot begin to fathom, the Post neglected to poll on the one number that would actually make for a relevant story.

Nobody should make too much out of this, but given the data that is available it is safe to say that this race is undoubtedly in the margin of error. Forget the headline, forget the hype, and forget the people trying to make too much out of the results of this poll; the race can't get any tighter than this, and O'Malley and Company are already feeling the heat as evidence by O'Malley's babyish rants on WTOP this morning.....

(Crossposted)


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Of Course He Does

I'm not going to wax too poetic about the fact that Anne Arundel School Superintendent Kevin Maxwell wants more money in his budget and that he is predicting doom and gloom if County Executive John Leopold's budget isn't adjusted to provide more funding for education. Given his record of telling the county to drop dead, Kevin Maxwell demanding more money in his budget (and of course, calling for higher taxes to go with them) is about as shocking as the sky being blue these days. It remains, of course, a sad indictment of modern education that in the minds of these mindless bureaucrats that money equals success, but that is not the point that I want to make (again).

The point I (again) want to make is the fact that the Anne Arundel County Board of Education that allows Maxwell to act like this is made up completely of unelected bureaucrats, only one of which (the Red Maryland-endorsed Vic Bernson) has any fiscal sense among them. Every single one of them is a Democratic appointed, Democratic endorsed flunky who seeks more and more spending to keep the unions happy and higher and higher taxes to pay for it. And not one of them is truly representative of the parents, teachers, and taxpayers of Anne Arundel County because nobody elected these people.

Until we the people here in Anne Arundel County can elect the members of our Board of Education, there is nobody who can hold Kevin Maxwell responsible for his irresponsible spending and his refusal to spend within the means of the County budget. We are well past the need for true reform of how we select our county's school board members...

(Crossposted)


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Saturday, May 8, 2010

To What Should “Politically Correct” Enforcement Not Apply? The Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes’ “Blondely,” For Example

by Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.

There is a one-sided kerfuffle in The Washington Post today: two letters castigate – one whose castigation is mitigated by a slight nod to irony – media columnist Lisa de Moraes’ adverbial use of “blondely” to describe one of Rielle Hunter’s more fatuous, self-serving replies in her utterly embarrassingly self-unaware, self-ennobling defense of her child-producing relationship with Democratic Senator John Edwards.

Hunter is described by de Moraes in her (Hunter's) interview with Oprah Winfrey as unaware who the “…former Democratic vice presidential candidate was because, she explained blondely, ‘I didn't pay a lot of attention to the Kerry-Edwards campaign -- I had a lot going on in my life at that time.’"

Hunter’s self-serving naïveté -- nay, vacuousness -- is evident throughout the interview, encouraged through subtle, rhetorically leading questions by Oprah.

Both printed letters are critical of de Moraes, but the more appalled reaction argues that de Moraes irresponsibly “resort[s] to catty stereotypes” in her use of the neologism “blondely” and recommends that the Post avoid “popular slang” to describe a woman.

Is the clever use of “blondely,” an adverbial slam on Hunter’s cluelessness, trite? Maybe, but I have never before heard of its use as a put-down.

And why is it offensive? Are there not nearly exclusive male characteristics that are fair game for satire when accompanying dopey self-defense? If a man claims sophistication while puffing on a cigar, is it offensive to cite the smoking as contrary to the affected image?

Lisa de Moraes is an acquired literary taste, but more often than not, she is intelligent snarky reading, and, somewhat parenthetically, she uses well Kenneth Burke’s concept of perspective by incongruity.

Please let’s stop homogenizing all enjoyable prose just to placate overly sensitive readers.


Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University


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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vic Bernson for Delegate, District 33A

As Brian has written, the editors here at RedMaryland are making endorsements in contested Republican primaries throughout the state, in large part, to allow the conservatives who read our blog to direct their positive energies into supporting candidates. Specifically, we are seeking to promote candidates to the General Assembly who are not only conservative but have the ability and passion to lead the GOP caucus in a conservative direction and the tenacity to redirect our state from the disastrous liberal course in which we now find ourselves.

This means candidates with fresh enthusiasm and the will to resist the crucible that Annapolis can be for conservatives. It also means that districts which are safely Republican are not ignored or taken for granted but will receive particular focus to ensure that just the kind of conservative leaders I have described are serving these cornerstone districts in the General Assembly.

One such district is District 33A located in central Anne Arundel county and one such candidate is Vic Bernson. It is with great pride that I announce and explain our endorsement of Vic Bernson.

In the interest of full disclosure, District 33A is a district I know well. Not only do I live in the district but I ran for Delegate in the Republican primary in 2006. I have met many of the good conservative voters in this district. That experience tells me that not only is Vic Bernson the right candidate but that he will do an extraordinary job representing this district.

Vic Bernson is an attorney, a Navy veteran and a proud father of two kids in college. He has served in the Pentagon, in the Justice Department as General Counsel for the White House Office of Administration. He has been involved in his community as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts and as a youth basketball and baseball coach.

Vic has also earned his stripes as a tireless grassroots conservative activist. He served as counsel to the county Republican Central Committee. He was President of the Severna Park Elephant Club, a group of local GOP activists, and was given the 2000 GOP Man of the Year award.

These are all the qualifications you would expect from a community leader, but the most telling position Vic has held is his appointment by Governor Ehrlich to the county’s school board. Vic was a tireless advocate, and often lone voice, for common sense fiscal conservatism and sound education policy on a committee wildly out of touch with the citizens of our county. Vic stood up to a school board who advocated for massive tax increases and sought unfettered increases in education spending without the slightest regard to the affordability of such budgets or the negative impacts of tax increases.

This is how a columnist for the Annapolis Capital put it:

“We could use a few more people like Victor Bernson in public office … because Bernson is often the only one saying, ‘The emperor has no clothes,’ the only one willing to challenge orthodoxy - in short, the only one who will say ‘no.’”

Exactly what we need in a General Assembly passing unsustainable budgets and taxing the state into ruin.

Vic Bernson is not a career politician. He is definitely not a RINO. He is a Reagan conservative who will be a tireless advocate for freedom and prosperity. He is exactly what we desperately need in the House of Delegates and it is why we at RedMaryland endorse and support Vic Bernson for Delegate in District 33A.

It is now up to us in the conservative community to get excellent candidates like Vic Bernson elected.


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Help Out

This is something entirely almost not politically related, but I'm co-captain of the Anne Arundel Young Republicans team in the Relay for Life being held in Arnold next Friday night.

Please consider sending a donation to support our team and my efforts to fight cancer. Thanks for your support.

(Crossposted)


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Rep. Donna Edwards in the News: Cited by 'Dirty Money Watch' & Wants a Pay Raise

Rep. Edwards votes for wage increase for members of Congress.
Gazette, 3 May 2010 (Ford).

U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards of Fort Washington was the only member of the Maryland House delegation and one of only 15 congressional representatives nationwide to vote for a cost-of-living pay increase for House members.
* * *
House members make $175,000 annually.

State Del. Herman L. Taylor Jr. (D-Dist. 14) Ashton, who is expected to challenge Edwards in the Democratic primary, said voting for a pay increase in the current economy sends the wrong message.

"People are getting furloughed," he said. "I took voluntary furloughs along with other state employees. I don't know if it's political theater. I think every little bit helps. It is tight times, and every dollar counts." [Full story]
Dirty Money Watch: Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.
Examiner, 4 May 2010 (Hemingway).
WHO: Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.

WHAT: Edwards received $5,000 from Rep. Charles Rangel's, D-N.Y., National Leadership PAC, the political action committee of the powerful New York Democrat who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that writes tax law.

WHY IT'S DIRTY: Rangel is being investigated on multiple issues by the House ethics committee, including failure to report income from properties he owns in New York and the Dominican Republic. A company that gave $1 million to a New York school facility that will bear Rangel's name subsequently received lucrative tax breaks, and he has reportedly solicited political contributions on official stationary. Rangel has been admonished by the House ethics committee and forced to give up his Ways and Means Committee chairmanship.

WILL EDWARDS GIVE IT BACK? Edwards did not respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.


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Pay to play in Prince George's; Post editorial suggests PG officials solicited bribes; wants prosecutors to review

Pay to play in Prince George's.
Post, 4 May 2010 (Editorial).

Summary: References recently reported lawsuit (Post, PG-Politics) against council member and county executive candidate Tony Knotts (D-8) and others, including council members Camille Exum (D-7) and Marilynn Bland (D-9), who is also a candidate for clerk of the circuit court.

Defense statements:

  • "A politician's request for campaign fundraising assistance or donations in exchange for a political favor is . . . not unlawful or independently wrongful,"
  • trading donations for political favor "is something that occurs daily in the political arena."
Post's conclusion:
Actually, it is wrong, and illegal, for politicians to solicit bribes, which is what some of these allegations suggest happened. It's worth noting that most of the major players in this drama -- Mr. Johnson; Mr. Arrington; Ms. Exum; and Ms. Bland -- have shown questionable ethical judgment in the past. That, and the gravity of Mr. Luthra's allegations, should be enough to merit the scrutiny of the U.S. attorney in Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein; the Maryland state prosecutor, Robert A. Rohrbaugh; and the Prince George's County Attorney, Glenn F. Ivey.
Full editorial

Comment: Every elected official involved in this case is a Democrat.  So far, no Republicans have filed or even announced as candidates for any of the county offices involved.  There is no evidence that the state or county Republican parties have commented on previous reports about this case or will mount any challenge to the apparent corrupt practices and officials in Prince George's County.


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