Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Time to Clean House

The MTA just cannot get out of its own way these days. Because we get point after point after point about the culture of failure that has seeped into every pore of that agency.

Even I, as much of a critic as I am, understand that mistakes happen and that sometimes things break. But when you skip major MARC stations without a reasonable explanation, forcing riders to doubleback, it makes you wonder what kind of circus Ralign Wells is running over there.

It is time (still) for Martin O'Malley to clean house over at the MTA and send a message to transit users that the continued failure of the Agency is no longer acceptable.

More below the fold.

Media Watch IV on the Race for Maryland’s Governorship: The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun Update and an Adjudication of Zurawik's Complaint

--Richard E. Vatz

In recent evaluations of media coverage of the 2010 Maryland Governor’s race, this blogger has found major improvement in the fairness of reporting by The Baltimore Sun’s main campaign writers and less fair coverage by The Washington Post’s John Wagner. The last couple of weeks of Sun and Post print media coverage of the Maryland gubernatorial campaign have solidified the validity of these observations but have also pointed to the necessity of some qualifying points.

The Post’s analysis by Aaron C. Davis of the O’Malley campaign’s radio ads in yesterday’s paper (June 27, 2010) was nearly exemplary. After an opening stumble in which writer Davis commits a non sequitur by concluding that the Governor’s ads alone “indicate that O’Malley (D) and Ehrlich (R) intend to resume the same sort of in-the-mud and in-your-face tactics that both employed when they faced off four years ago,” the Post writer’s front page story dissects the Democrats’ ad claims clearly, fairly and thoroughly.

The ads, Davis points out, follow earlier false innuendo in Democratic Party campaign tactics asserting that Gov. Ehrlich has contributed to birther conspiracies. The inaccuracy of the claims that Gov. Ehrlich is or was a lobbyist is unambiguously exposed, while Gov. O’Malley’s defense is included, along with discussion of some of the complexities of Gov. Ehrlich’s work at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. Davis’s article also makes the critical observation that Ehrlich was being attacked for voting approval of a “2001 measure in Congress...[that] passed almost unanimously with support from every Maryland Democrat in the House.” The article ends with Ehrlich’s take on the persuasive power of the recent O’Malley ads.

For his part Post writer John Wagner continues to seem to be simply a subtle critic only of the Ehrlich campaign. As political analyst Blair Lee noted days ago, he (Wagner) wouldn’t even fact-check the O’Malley ads and instead took another irrelevant, snarky shot at Ehrlich, shots which seem to be in every campaign article about the ex-governor. Writer Wagner’s contempt for Gov. Ehrlich simply should not be so consistently evident in articles which are ostensibly disinterested.

For the Sun’s part, there was yet another excellently fair and balanced piece by Annie Linskey (June 26) about the anti-Ehrlich ad matter and which also delved into oil politics around the country, but I have to wonder why someone is not doing ad watches of major, controversial advertisements, such as this latest Democratic oil lobbyist and lackey accusation against Gov. Ehrlich.

Finally, this weekend there was this kerfuffle: Sun media writer David Zurawik was apparently (I say “apparently” because I was at my in-laws’ house in Virginia and didn't hear the show) attacked in a call by a frequent satirist, and I use the term loosely, who uses the nom de plume “Martin O’Smelly” on the Ehrlichs' radio show.

The caller, the one incongruous part of the Ehrlichs’ show I would get rid of and have never enjoyed, implied that Zurawik is in the tank for Gov. O’Malley, a joke he (Zurawik) interpreted as intended to send him “a message” that would serve to “blunt any criticism by me of Ehrlich's media performance through the lie that I am a friend of O'Malley's and, therefore, the criticism is partisan.”

I am in a position to make a factual point on this matter and will offer an opinion as well. I know for a certainty that the Ehrlichs have no knowledge of what this caller will say every week. Second, I believe David Zurawik to be a writer of complete integrity. That does not mean that he lacks some Democratic premises in his reasoning, but he is not in the tank for anyone.

That said, I will disagree with him on his evaluation of the Ehrlichs' show, a show that independent of my appearances displayed extensive knowledge of Maryland issues, excellent chemistry between its co-hosts and wonderful, clever, good-natured humor, save the tasteless, repeat caller who claims to be Governor Martin O’Malley while sounding like President Bill Clinton.

Professor Vatz is professor of political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Martin O'Malley's Energy Policies: Dumb, Green, and Dangerous.

Martin O’Malley’s "goofy, "absurd," prevarication linking Bob Ehrlich to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a deflection away from jobs and the economy the central issues of the 2010 election.

After all, where is the logic in attacking Ehrlich for his support for more oil—a substance that has brought the world unparalleled prosperity and is the building block for many items we use on a daily basis.

Under Martin O’Malley though, prosperity is a lost artifact. O’Malley’s soak the rich tax policies are driving out the entrepreneurial class, who create jobs. Data compiled by the Baltimore Business Journal shows that while Maryland gained a net of 31,200 jobs over the last decade, the state shed 91,100 under O’Malley’s tenure compared to a gain of over 98,000 under Ehrlich.

However, since we’re talking about energy though let’s examine O’Malley’s vaunted green energy agenda and how it will further harm Maryland’s economy and kills jobs.There are, of course, O’Malley’s energy taxes: increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (a regional cap and trade system). However, O’Malley reeled in the big fish of his agenda in 2009 when the General Assembly passed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act. The GHG Act was written by environmental special interests based on sham recommendations from a climate commission report paid for and written by those same special interests.

A Beacon Hill Institute peer review of the commission report written by the global warming alarmist advocacy group Center for Climate Strategies revealed:

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

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

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

The CAP report provides zero guidance to policy makers regarding the desirability of policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions. It fails to perform the most basic task of any cost-benefit analysis–quantifying both the costs and benefits in monetary terms so that they can be directly compared. The analysis mistakes costs for benefits. Astonishingly, the report posits net economic savings from policies intended to reduce GHG emissions without counting the value of those reduced emissions. Unfortunately for Maryland policy makers, these same three problems plague the CAP report, rendering it unsuitable for making any informed policy decisions.

Yet O’Malley and the Democrats championed legislation based on this flawed (read cooked) report. The GHG Reduction Act calls for the Maryland Department of the Environment to create a plan to meet impossible to achieve goal of a 25 percent reduction in 2006 greenhouse gas levels by 2020. The law also specifically states the plan must “produce a net economic benefit to the state’s economy and a net increase in jobs in the state,” in addition to maintaining affordable and reliable fuel and electricity. The law specifically targets transportation and electricity production for reductions.

Everything we know about carbon reduction schemes tells us they are job killers and have no effect on carbon emissions or global temperature. The European Union has had the most progressive climate policies in place since the mid 1990s and yet they have achieved no effect on Co2 emissions and in Spain every “green job” created kills two other jobs.

As it did with information about the state’s climate commission, O’Malley’s MDE is stonewalling public information requests on which special interests are writing the law’s regulations. Since O’Malley’s MDE isn’t down with the new mood of transparency sweeping state government, we don’t have any potential GHG reduction plan to analyze. However, we can glimpse any potential impact on the state’s economy by looking at the effects of the Waxman-Markey federal cap and trade legislation on Maryland:

Reduction of gross state product by $10.35 billion
Destroy 17,781 jobs
Raise electricity rates over $820 per household
Raise gas prices by $0.64 per gallon

Now keep in mind even if Maryland ceased all GHG emissions it would produce a climatically meaningless two thousandths of a degree reduction on global temperature by the end of the century. The GHG Act falls well short of that mark.

Simply put, Martin O’Malley’s green agenda inflicts all economic pain for no environmental gain. .

More below the fold.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

O'Malley in Microcosm

The MARC Train Ride from Hell is starting to become a perfect microcosm of the failures of the O'Malley Administration.

MARC train service has been a problem throughout the O'Malley Administration. The entire Maryland Transit Administration has been a mess throughout the O'Malley Administration. Then earlier this week, we had the complete breakdown of common sense and order on MARC Train 538. Thousands of suburban, middle-class voters commuting between D.C. and the Washington area get stuck in sweltering, inhuman heat on a train for two hours.

Then and only then does Martin O'Malley wake up from his rock star dreams to deal with the harsh reality of the situation by....appearing for a campaign spectacle photo op to try and cover his indifference on the issue. And even then, his presence didn't exactly stop more grisly conditions on today's trains.

The fact that Secretary of Transportation Beverly Swaim-Staley or embattled Transit Administrator Ralign Wells never bothered to show up to MARC riders advisory committee meetings probably explains a heck of a lot about the continued failures of the MTA to deal with this.....though it does explain why Ralign Wells thinks that all of MTA's problems are with their perception.

And don't forget that beyond the MARC train debacle, the MTA remains the gang that couldn't shoot straight on other issues, too.

Martin O'Malley's dealing with the "hell train" fiasco from early in the week has been eerily similar to the way he has run his entire administration:

  • Identify the problem;
  • Ignore the problem;
  • Notice that the problem has begat some sort of calamity, particularly one that impacts white, suruban, middle class voters from Baltimore or Howard Counties;
  • See if the problem is your fault;
  • Create a photo op to address the problem;
  • Blame Bob Ehrlich;
  • Go back to ignoring the problem.

While Martin O'Malley has been ignoring transit issues for his entire administration, many critics (of which I include myself) have been documenting problems with the Transit Administration for several years. He is little more than a Johnny Come-lately on this issue, particularly as it relates to MARC trains. Only now that his failure to lead on reforming the MTA has led to such a public relations nightmare has O'Malley finally decided to give the appearance that he is doing something about it.

We're wathcing Governor...prove us wrong.


More below the fold.

Fun with Maryland Democrats

With much appreciation to Matthew Newman for the inspiration.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

But I thought it was a perception problem

Remember last week when MTA Chief Ralign Wells said that the problem with the MTA and its services was perception and not service.

Yeah....about that.

I have a high suspicion that the 1,000 commuters that the MTA left stranded for two-hours in hot, inhuman conditions without being provided any relief in the form of a simple drink of water on a MARC train probably think that the perception of the MTA is not exactly a high priority. Maybe a MARC train system that works is. Because this does not sound like the words of satisfied customers:

They absolutely lost control of the situation," said Tim Kelly of Arbutus, a
10-year MARC rider who called the experience "the worst I've ever seen" on the
commuter railroad.

Passenger Bill Rowe of Towson said he estimated the
temperature in the car "conservatively" at 110 degrees. "Frankly, if someone
left their dog locked up in a car for 11/2 hours like this, they would be
arrested," he said.

Way to go MTA! Clearly the perception of your agency is in the dumps because you don't market well enough, not because you can't keep the system running or, when the system fails, treat your customers like human beings. And as more details come out, the worse the whole incident it sounds.

Heads should roll over this.....and maybe it's time for me to call (again) for a purge of senior leadership over at the MTA.



More below the fold.

Farewell Adam Pagnucco

Adam Pagnucco of Maryland Politics Watch is stepping down for "the forseeable future" to devote time to his family and his day job.

As a father of three myself, I know all too well the tension between work, family, and spending countless hours researching and writing--unpaid--for ideals and causes deeply held.

Though we disagreed--sometimes vehemently--on most issues, and agreed on some, I respect Adam as a blogger and his body of work at MPW.

Political bloggers, despite our ideological differences, understand the value of the blogosphere, and the medium's ability to add more to our politics beyond what mainstream media outlets provide. Adam understood this and it showed in his work, making MPW a force in Maryland's political blogosphere.

So from from one adversary to another, I wish him good luck.

More below the fold.

Monday, June 21, 2010

O'Malley's "Sweet Can"

We all know Martin O'Malley's new radio ad yanked Bob Ehrlich's words so far out of context as to make Richard Heene blush. However, it also appears the O'Malley crew ripped off The Simpsons. Replace "sweet can" with "drill baby drill" and you'll see what I mean.

Of course, we should expect this from Martin O'Malley, the guy who never met a straw man he couldn't beat.

More below the fold.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lawless Doubles-Down

So I get a Facebook message this morning from Benjamin Lawless, who took not kindly to me calling him a dumbass last night:

I'll accept your apology and I expect the removal of your comments about me
when you speak to people who actually matter and learn the truth. Try speaking
to me next time before jumping to conclusions, publicly. Also, no where in the
Md Constitution does it state a required age for Lieutenant; 30 is "assumed." I
was actually very close to being chosen. I was not simply because I live in
Baltimore County.

Really? Let's take a look at Article II, Section 5 of the Maryland State Constitution:
SEC. 5. A person to be eligible for the office of Governor or Lieutenant
Governor must have attained the age of thirty years, and must have been a
resident and registered voter of the State for five years next immediately
preceding his election (amended by Chapter 532, Acts of 1970, ratified Nov. 3,

So exactly which part of this is not clear?

This is a complete embarrasment for the Republican Party at this point, particularly as it relates to Baltimore County being so important for us to win big as a party. I publicly call on Lawless to explain himself who exactly he is trying to kid.

More below the fold.

Don't Be a Dumbass

When you are running against an incumbent Democratic State Senator your life is tough.....but when you claim to have been shortlisted for a position in which you are not constitutionally eligible, your credibility takes a bit of a hit.

Benjamin Lawless, you see, is 25. Will be 26 in September. Candidates for Lieutenant Governor must meet the same requirements as one would in order to be a candidate for of which is attaining 30 years of age.

This is just simple dumbass stuff that Republican candidates need to avoid...

More below the fold.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

President Barack Obama’s Beloved “Hail Fellow Well Met” Presidency, Part Two: The Diminishing Returns of the Oil Spill Speech

--Richard E. Vatz

For those readers who don’t follow every jot and tittle of my blogs (a mere 99.99% of you by last count), last year I predicted the following on these pages: “President Barack Obama’s 'Hail Fellow Well Met' presidency first ensured personal popularity and policy support. Then, within the first seven weeks, his policy support began to erode. If his actual domestic and foreign policy results do not at least augur some success, the President may find that even his personal popularity will lose intensity and then support, maybe not to the George W. Bush levels, but significantly.”

Historically, presidential speeches on major issues, war, the economy and others, have had a fairly predictable effect on the electorate: they produce a spike in public support, followed by a somewhat smaller effect for each succeeding speech, when there are succeeding speeches, until, if the policy has not been a manifest success, public opposition arises.

There are endless examples of this, but the rhetorical experiences of Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush will suffice.

Thus, when President Barack Obama announced a major speech on the oil spill, I was really not incredulous, since his overestimation of his lastingly positive persuasive effect on the American public is a source of wonderment to some, but not to those of us who had seen this self-delusion grow in him or, more precisely, not diminish in him as his presidency progressed.

Still, I was unprepared for what happen; I thought his speech would create the traditional initial jump in public approval followed by a severe retrenchment when he next spoke publicly.

Both his approval rating and support from liberal media plummeted.

His speech was a rare first time failure, possibly because it had been preceded by weeks of perceived dithering (sorry – the new conservative favorite term in referring to the President). The country had seen a spill whose devastating consequences to the livelihoods of thousands and the lives of wildlife could go on until August wanted to know how the President was going to use the bully pulpit to stop the crisis.

Instead, the speech on June 15, 2010, creatively titled by the White House “Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill,” while ostensibly about “the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens,” offered not much and nothing new on that topic.

The President announced “the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.”

Aha! That could be the tough rhetoric for which the American people were waiting, but here’s President Obama’s recipe: “A National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. “ Oh, and the President additionally pointed out that “Already, I’ve issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.”

President Obama shook me from my viewing stupor when he said, And [the fact that we have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves is] part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean -- because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water."

In one on the best response lines anywhere, Charles Krauthammer wrote in The Washington Post , “We haven't run out of safer and more easily accessible sources of oil. We've been run off them by environmentalists.”

The president may have broken a record for failure to get a short-term spike on a pending policy issue with this speech, his first from the Oval Office.

It’s because being a “hail fellow well met” is insufficient when actual space-time events call for not a rehash speech, but an addressing of what would constitute a successful and practical presidential superintending of a crisis.

Professor Vatz teaches Rhetoric and Communication at Towson University

More below the fold.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Murphy Campaign loses its own argument

So the Brian Murphy campaign has been telling anybody who will listen that their guy can beat Martin O'Malley, whereas Governor Ehrlich can't. Somebody apparently did not tell their press shop, because I got this press release today straight from the Murphy campaign:

In the latest poll, O’Malley and Ehrlich were in a statistical dead-heat: 44% to 43%. However, only 28% definitely will vote for incumbent Governor O’Malley and 31% were firmly committed to former Governor, an “incumbent” once removed, Ehrlich.

In a match-up against Martin O’Malley, Brian Murphy trailed 44% to 25%, with 31% of voters undecided.

Kinda takes a hit to the electability argument, does it not? Probably something to do with the fact that, over the six-month course of this campaign, Murphy's name ID is hovering at 27%. Hard to imagine that if Murphy's name ID hasn't broken a third of the electorate in the last six months that the rate will continue to improve between now and the end of his campaign in September.

Makes you wonder how long before those few Murphy supporters out there realize that tilting at windmills with the potential spector of a second term for O'Malley is really worth it...


More below the fold.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MTA Head Has Misplaced Priorities

Micahel Dresser reports on a roundtable with Transit Administrator Ralign Wells. And if you think the head of the MTA has his priorities straight well.....not necessarily:

"I'm very frustrated that there's a poor perception of transit," said MTA
Administrator Ralign Wells. "What I'm trying to do is change the perception of
Well....people the public has a poor perception for a pretty good reason, and it says a lot that the priority for Wells is to improve the pereception of transit, not actually improve transit itself.

Some of the other things that Wells notes goes from basic common sense budgeting stuff to the more....well, shall we say off the wall concepts of what's important.

Every other major transit system in America has a SmartCard system. WMATA introduced theirs in 2004....however MTA's is "still in development."

A 30-percent farebox recovery rate for Wells is "decent." Thiry-percent. We've talked about farebox recovery rates before, but what is even worse is what Wells delineates as the actual farebox recovery rates:

  • MTA Buses: 30 percent
  • Metro Subway: 28 percent
  • Light Rail: 18 percent
  • MARC: "Mid-30's percent"

Those recovery rates are absolutely unacceptable.

Then we get to safety issues:

"But he said suburbanites who do use the system can attest that it is safe.

That might be news to more than a few people just with the number of horror stories that just I have discussed over the years (though it isn't like the MTA got any help from Annapolis on this one). So the problem, Mr. Wells is not the pereception that the MTA system isn't safe; it's the fact that the MTA system in sections seems to not actually be safe.

But uniforms for MTA operators will fix everything!

So how does Ralign Wells defer from his predecessor at MTA? Seemingly, he doesn't. There seems to continue to be this culture within MTA that the status quo is fine, that the system is safe, that low farebox recovery rates are acceptable to taxpayers, and that the problem is with the perception of the public and not the reality of the situation.

I hope that we will get the opportunity to deal with this change in culture with the change in Administration in the Governor's Mansion that will be coming this January...


More below the fold.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Potential Ripple Effect of Jim Smith's Withdrawal

Last year, it seemed obvious that Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith was going to try to district shop his way into the State Senate when he moved to legislative District 7 in order to challenge for the seat left by Andy Harris' run for Congress this year. So it was somewhat surprising that Smith would drop out of the race, particularly in light of the huge war chest he had ammassed when he was contemplating a run for Comptroller.

That, however, does bring attention back to the stunt that Smith and his political backers are trying to pull with the Baltimore County Council.

Smith's campaign appartus, led by his son Michael Paul Smith and his former law clerk David Gildea, are trying to assemble a County Council full of Democrats who are at the beck and call of Baltimore County's Developers. One who have to presume that Smith's withdrawal will allow him to refund contributions made to his campaign in an effort to redistribute that money to the candidates his campaign team are trying to buy off to do the bidding of the developers.

And incidentally, guess who is most poised to benefit by the generosity of this potential class of County Council Members? Attorneys for Developers. And who would be better connectd to get a piece of this windfall than two development attorneys named....David Gildea and Michael Paul Smith.

Of course, what is the most interesting of all is the people Smith and Company have selected as their chosen ones to represent the interests of these developers:

  • In District 1, it's Tom Quirk. Quirk served with Gildea on the Board of the Community College of Baltimore County; his wife, Siri Svaeren, is a former Special Assistant to Jim Smith in the County Executive's office;
  • District 5's choice is Gorden Harden, who served 14 years on the planning board, owns an insurance company in Owings Mills, only recently moved to the 5th District and, according to court records has carved out quite a niche for himself as a professional defendent in a variety of matters.
  • In District 6 it's Cathy Bevins, who also worked six years in constituent service (reporting to Siri Svaeren, no less) who has been a personal friend and client of Michael Paul Smith for nearly two decades.
  • The next, unannounced addition to this unofficial slate will be Vicki Almond in the 2nd District, who other than being formerly in the employ of State Senator Bobby Zirkin, has no noted connection to Smith or Gildea other than the meeting Bryan Sears reported upon back in January.

All of these candidates are political neophytes, selected by Michael Smith and David Gildea over other, more qulaified candidates (even in Democratic primaries) who are poised to serve as nothing more than yes men and women for Baltimore County Developers if they are elected to the council. The money being raised for these candidates by the developers gives a whole new meaning to "retail politics."

Jim Smith's withdrawal from the Senate race may mean good things in Annapolis, with the winner of the J.B. Jennings vs. Al Redmer Republican primary poised to retain the seat for the minority in Annapolis. But Smith's decision, and the possible redistribution of wealth to the candidates hand picked by Smith's cronies to serve as fronts for the developers agenda could have far reaching reprecussions for voters across Baltimore County and across Maryland for the next decade.


More below the fold.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Instability of Polls: The Gubernatorial Race Between Martin O’Malley and Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.

--Richard E. Vatz

Regarding the upcoming race for governor in Maryland, Rasmussen Reports says flatly that according to their polling, “The two men (O’Malley and Ehrlich) are now tied…”


Last fall I was involved in a dispute played out in The Sun with Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies regarding their polling which had indicated that former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. was trailing Governor Martin O’Malley by an apparently not insignificant 11 points, 49-38 percent. By January of this year, their results were 48-39 in the same direction.

I criticized harshly the fact that the fall poll ignored the critical dimension of “intensity,” a measure that related to the stability of the outcome. The pollsters made no attempt to measure how strongly respondents felt about their choices. Therefore, Gonzales' interpretations could not be assumed to be valid.

Relative voter support, even of leaders who are well known, is often soft until candidacies are announced, and even then they may remain significantly variable until the race begins in earnest in the last several months of the campaign. (When candidates are not well known, the instability can be much more pronounced – see, Palin, Sarah, Vice Presidential race, 2008.)

Consistent with these early misgivings regarding the Gonzales poll, Rasmussen Reports reported days ago that their poll of 500 likely voters indicated a dead heat, 45%-45%, between O’Malley and Ehrlich with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points, with a 95% level of confidence. Intensity in terms of strength of "favorability" is measured in this poll and found to be roughly equivalent between the two candidates.

Five hundred respondents is an insufficient number for a poll of Maryland voters to be very precise, and the internals showed that Rasmussen determined “likely voters” through undefined criteria of “voting history, interest in the current campaign, and likely voting intentions.” These sound like simply the unverified claims of the respondents in a phone survey. I should add, parenthetically, that margins of error are impossible to validate, as are levels of confidence.

Regardless, the “dead heat” finding, even with its inescapable and escapable invalidities, is not irrelevant: it means that the race is probably up for grabs, an inference at variance with an 11-point differential last year by the Gonzales pollsters, the meaninglessness of which some of us articulated even then.

The Rasmussen poll reported a differential between the two then-likely gubernatorial opponents earlier this year of 6 points, followed by 3 points later in the year, followed by this even closer race.

The poll has some problematic components, such as contaminating questions – a problem with the earlier Gonzales polls as well -- referencing President Barack Obama, oil spills and immigration, all of which questions, along with others, are cues to respondents which may affect their gubernatorial choices in the same poll.

The bottom line is that we really don’t know even within 5 points what the vote for Maryland Governor would be if it were held today, but the poll along with the proliferation of signs and intuitive criteria all point to an election which no very serious observer can predict with confidence.

Every move is consequential now, gentlemen. Who will be the Republican Lieutenant Governor nominee?

Maybe the choice will make the “gentlemen” reference anachronistic and shake the polls -- and voter preference -- as well.

--Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

More below the fold.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wig Man Vovak running Alvin Greene Campaign?

One would think this too-clever-by-half trick is beyond bizarre--but we're talking about Daniel Vovak.

But the strangeness continued Thursday: A Twitter account was set up by a user claiming to be Alvin Greene, who used the social media site to advertise an open position as his campaign manager. By the end of the day, Daniel Vovak, a Republican who in 2006 ran against then-Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, claimed to The Daily Caller that he was Greene’s campaign manager.

“He’s an inspiration for candidates,” Vovak said during a short phone interview with The Daily Caller. But by Thursday night, the dubious Twitter account was deleted, and the extent of Vovak’s involvement in the campaign — if he’s really involved at all — was not immediately clear....

But when Greene appeared on MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, he said the Twitter account and website were not authorized by him. “There’s just some false sites out there that I’m not operating,” he said. “That’s something that I just got today. That there are false sites out there relating to me and my campaign. I just want to let everyone know that there are sites out there that don’t have my authority.”

Then there is Newsbusters blogger Lachlan Markay's interview with Vovack, here's a snippet:


Here's where I'm coming from: you purport to be a campaign manager for a Democrat, but you are a Republican, and a satirist to boot. The absurd Twitter
feed that publicized your hiring has been deleted, and the site to which that
feed linked, supposedly the official campaign site, is now the "unofficial"
"grassroots" site of the campaign. Greene himself denied having a Twitter feed,
as the site so helpfully notes. He also noted that there are some sketchy
websites falsely claiming to be his official campaign site.
certainly fits the profile.

So here's what I think: you saw a great opportunity to create a funny hoax
of a Twitter feed. The bizarre nature of the whole story kept people wondering,
when in any other scenario, the feed would have been dismissed as a hoax
immediately (that is also, presumably, why you initially deleted
this tweet). You registered a great domain name along with an email address for the candidate, and claimed that you had been hired as campaign manager. By posting your number and confirming to hapless fools such as myself that this was all true, you planned to affirm the authenticity of the Twitter account and the website. All of this worked very well until the candidate himself deflated the whole thing.

If this is all wrong, please enlighten me. But I'm not going to be strung along. If there's a story here, I'm open to it, but so far I don't see one, beyond a funny story to tell during happy hour.


Note to national media: Vovak is the guy who botched his own press release announcing his run for Montgomery County Executive. We don't take Vovak seriously here in Maryland and neither should you.

More below the fold.

Listen to C4 Today

I'll be talking with C4 today on WBAL Radio at 2:30 this afternoon about the Bob Schaefer punch fiasco down in Prince Frederick Wednesday listen.

Listen to 1090 AM or listen online at

More below the fold.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

O'Malley in More Trouble

The latest Rasmussen Poll has Governor Ehrlich and Martin O'Malley deadlocked at 45 a piece among likely voters.....but that's not the most interesting statistics in the Rasmussen release.

That would be this:

Still, a majority (53%) of voters in Maryland favor repeal of the recently passed national health care bill, slightly lower than the support for repeal found nationwide. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. This includes 42% who Strongly Favor repeal and 36% who Strongly Oppose it.

If a liberal state like Maryland isn't even on board with the Health Care bill, it means that you;ve got a lot of Democrats who are not on board with the direction of their party. And while disssatisfaction with national Democrats likely won't hurt O'Malley in 2010 as disssatisfaction with national Republicans did with Ehrlcih in 2006, some of the sins of Obama will be laid at the feet of O'Malley.

But that's not all:

Just 49% of Maryland voters favor passage of an immigration law like the new one in Arizona for their state, six points lower than support nationally. Thirty-eight percent (38%) oppose such a law, and 12% are not sure.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of voters in the state who favor a law like Arizona's back Ehrlich, while 80% of those opposed to such a law support O'Malley.

But nearly two-thirds (66%) of voters in Maryland support the central provision of the Arizona law, the requirement that local police check the immigration status of anyone pulled over for a traffic violation or some other kind of violation whom they suspect of being here illegally. Twenty-seven percent (27%) oppose that requirement.

Emphasis mine.

So even in a state as liberal as Maryland, a supermajority of voters support the basic tenet of the immigration legislation passed in Arizona. An interesting statsitic given the fact that illegal immigration issues rear their head from time to time in the area.

This poll doesn't suggest that it is a done deal, but the numbers are starting to look more and more yeasty for the re-election of Governor Ehrlich this November. Now go do your part to help.


More below the fold.

Disingenuous Ben

Ben Cardin did a little disingenuous tweeting yesterday trying to link BP and the disaster in the Gulf to Lisa Murkowski’s Senate resolution banning the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide under the auspices of a highly dubious endangerment finding under the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s endangerment finding is essentially a bureaucratic gun to the head to Congress—pass cap and trade or else!

There are two reasons Cardin would do this.

First, Cardin wants cap and trade. After all he did call the economy killing measure “the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time." Sure cap and trade would be good for federal coffers and rent seeking corporations, but not so much for Maryland, which generates 60% or more of it’s energy, above the national average, from coal.

Second, as The Hill points out a Democratic controlled Senate rebuking Obama’s EPA would be quite embarrassing. Murkowski’s resolution already has 40 cosponsors, and the Hill says if Senate Republicans stay unified the resolution would have 45 votes. Plus, Democrats Mark Pryor Evan Bayh, and Jim Webb are also in play.

All of Cardin’s sturm and drang about “polluters” is nothing more than political cover for President Obama and the Democrats.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How NOT to win friends or win elections

Just when you think that you have seen everything in politics, you see something new.

Tonight I attended the Southern Maryland Young Republicans meeting in Prince Frederick, and the meeting featured bookend speakers for Delegate in District 27B, the winner earning the right to take on Sue Kullen. And the meeting ended with one of the stranger spectacles you will ever hear about.

The opening speaker was Bob Schaefer. Mr. Schaefer spoke about his perceived role of the General Assembly, and some of the things that he would do as a Delegate. He spoke on and on about his role, and stumbled a few times about who exactly does what when it comes to the role of Government, and fumbled a few softball questions that were thrown his way. Nothing earthshatteringly bad, but clearly a case of nerves from a novice candidate.

Once the club conducted the rest of their business, they heard a presentation from candidate Mark Fisher who spoke not about his camapaign, but about Cap and Trade. He presented the club with a slide show as it relates to Cap and Trade, how Marylanders are impacted by it, and how it relates to voters and citizens living in Calvert County. It was an impressive presentation, and during it he remained focused on the cap and trade issue, mentioning his candidacy only in passing.

As the meeting wrapped up, Mr. Schaefer stood and announced that "he had never seen anything so impolite" as when Mr. Fisher and his team were setting up a projector to present the Powerpoint presentation during Mr. Schaefer's remarks; something that most in the room didn't even know was occurring. While I thought that was a little uncalled for (and that I had certainly seen things less polite than this), I thought nothing much more it.

As it turns out Fisher went to shake hands with Schaefer as folks were filing out to leave. And at that point Bob Schaefer punched Mark Fisher in the stomach, in front of Fisher's children, no less. And nobody could believe what just happened. Fisher, being a reasonable fellow, decided (at last check) not to press charges in this bizarre incident.

I understand that sometimes primaries get heated, but this is just way way way over the line....and I kinda thought it was reasonably self-evident that you don't punch your primary opponents at any point in the campaign.

Needless to say, I think Bob Schaefer just punched himself out of the Delegate's race in 27B tonight.


More below the fold.

This is why we endorse these guys

If you have been reading you know that we here at RedMaryland have been endorsing good conservative Republican candidates in disputed primaries. Brian Griffiths and I attended a great event last night for Vic Bernson who gave a fantastic speech warning about squishy Republican candidates who are going only talking about conservatism because "they think that is what the voters want to hear."

We know and our readers know that we need candidates who not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Vic Bernson is definitely one of those.

Which brings me to another perfect example of what we are doing and why we beleive it so important that conservative voters get involved early and often in these primaries.

Mike Hough is another of our endorsed candidates. Mike's opponent in the GOP primary, Delegate Charles Jenkins, who was appointed by Governor O'Malley, has refused to sign a pledge to oppose any new tax increases. In fact, the Americans for Tax Reform have called Jenkins out for this refusal.

This is what ATR had to say:

Maryland is at an economic crossroads, and it needs state legislators who will make a firm promise against any further tax increases,” said Grover Norquist, president of ATR. “Delegate Charles Jenkins has publicly resisted calls to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, drawing a clear distinction between himself and his opponent, Michael Hough.”

With Marylanders facing the prospect of another round of massive tax increases in 2011, we need more members of the General Assembly who are committed to opposing any effort to raise taxes. Of course, this is not the first time that Charles Jenkins has been soft on the tax issue.

We simply cannot trust Charles Jenkins to oppose the Democrats efforts to raise taxes next year.

We can trust Mike Hough. Mike has shown that he not only talks the talk but walks the walk. Join us in helping him get elected.

More below the fold.

Columnist Watch: The Washington Post’s David Broder Playing Fast and Loose with History: the 1979-1980 Iranian Hostage Crisis

--Richard E. Vatz

As readers with the bad judgment to follow my writings over the years know, I am fascinated by the rhetoric, or persuasive discourse, in major newspapers, perhaps especially by their columnists. They are given free rein to opine to significant decision-makers, as well as the general public, with little pressure to support or prove their points of view.

I have written positively about many such columnists, articulating my admiration for the writing of politically disparate denizens of the op-ed pages such as The Washington Post’s George F. Will, Richard Cohen, Charles Krauthammer and Ruth Marcus. There is also one of my all-time favorite exquisitely thoughtful and interesting columnists, The New York Times’ late, great William Safire.

There are some generally respected writers whose columns I literally detest because they are often without any evidence and supporting materials or because they are consistently without serious insight whatsoever, such as Garrison Keillor, carried by The Baltimore Sun. There are those whom I revile because they are highly intelligent columnists who take cheap shots when they know better, such as The New York Times’ Paul Krugman.

And then there is David Broder, a generally bright, clear writer who is always referred to as a “centrist” by his colleagues at the Post, but whose left-of-center general leanings are really indisputable.

Last week, Mr. Broder went further in lazy writing than is typical of him, even on his bad days, and the subject matter was historically critical: one of the most consequential foreign policy issues in recent American Presidential history, the 1979-1980 Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Mr. Broder’s article [“Is President Obama's Carter Moment Nearing?,”] June 3, 2010) implies that President Barack Obama could become an innocent victim of the British Petroleum oil spill, just as President Jimmy Carter was an innocent victim of the hostage crisis.

Mr. Broder depicts President Carter’s crisis as one in which “the United States was helpless to free [52 American hostages].”

Helpless? The fault is not in the stars, dear Brutus, but in our leadership.

The Post columnist largely rescues Jimmy Carter from the responsibility for prolonging the crisis, stating that the president had “found himself” in another “ordeal” and was “confined to the White the hostage crisis.” Further, according to this account, the crashing of helicopters in President Carter’s “rescue effort” was “final proof that he (Carter) was cursed in anything he tried to do.”

In fact, in one of the most ill-conceived presidential rhetorical strategies in history, President Carter chose to announce to the world that he would not leave the White House until the hostages were freed, thus giving the hostage-takers a major victory: a president held hostage.

Then, after the president’s helicopter rescue plan failed and the hostages were dispersed, making rescue then impossible, he announced mysteriously that the situation had “stabilized” and left the White House to campaign for president.

Gov. Ronald Reagan, a more, shall we say, rhetorically sophisticated and take-charge leader, stated forcefully that the hostages had better be released by the time he became president.

They were released on his inauguration day. No one doubted that President Reagan would take action, certainly not the Iranian leadership.

You wouldn’t know about the denouement from the Broderian article or that irresolution breeds enemy confidence.

President Obama, take note: this outcome was one of the best arguments against weakness and for resolve in the American presidency.

Too bad we no longer have leaders like President Reagan.

Mr. Broder: you can do better -- much better.

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University

More below the fold.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Jobs Policy that will actually put people to work

Have you taken a look yet at Governor Ehrlich's Entrepreneur Agenda? You should, because it's the first time any statewide leaders have seriously come forth to address job creation to combat the O'Malley Recession:

Bob Ehrlich actually wants to do something to create an economic environment that will employ more Marylanders and improve the economic situation for Maryland's middle class families. Nothing sums up the current plight of small business owners than this:

Turning the economic tide requires a new approach to small business owners, who currently employ 1.2 million Marylanders. Since announcing his candidacy for Governor, Bob Ehrlich has met with more than 100 local entrepreneurs to discuss the hardships they face in Maryland. Nearly all of them believe they are an afterthought in the eyes of state government, and relay tales of being ignored, harassed, or given conflicting guidance from their state government.
And we are going to be able to do this through:
  • Creating an attitude more conducive to small business development throughout State Government;
  • Reversing the 20-percent sales tax, both as an incentive to bring small business back to Maryland, but to also provide a greater stimulus to spending an a better economic picture for Maryland families;
  • Review current policies that bring irreparable harm to small businesses;
  • Actually meeting with and discussing small business policies with small business owners.
In a nutshell, the next Ehrlich Administration will make owning a small business and creating jobs in Maryland easier. That is a far cry from what the O'Malleynomic antics of the current regime.

Why is this important? Because this is what the people want to talk about. The only thing that people around the state want to talk about right now is jobs, jobs, and jobs. The people of Maryland are fed up with Martin O'Malley and his inability to create a strong economic climate, and the people are fed up with Martin O'Malley and his administration continuing to adopt policies that harm the plight of Maryland's middle and working class families. And they are tired of Martin O'Malley trying to say that he's a jobs governor when so many Marylanders are unemployed due to his fiscal irresponsibility.

In the meantime, O'Malley flack Rick Abbruzzese has the unfortunate task of responding on behalf of the O'Malley-Brown campaign and hoping that his nose didn't grow:
"This is not a plan. Bob Ehrlich's so-called plan is all talk and no action - he is proposing a commission, a summit, a task force, three reviews and two explorations, but nothing to actually create jobs or help small businesses struggling because of the global recession."
Here's the pot calling the kettle block; because it was just last week that Martin O'Malley, after three years of destroying jobs, finally realized that jobs would be an issues in the campaign and responded by.....proposing a commission.
"This lip service is insulting because Maryland's small businesses and families expect and deserve more from a former governor. As governor, Bob Ehrlich actually proposed the largest-ever increase in state spending and increased taxes and fees that hurt Maryland's small businesses and families, while benefiting special interests. Now as a lobbyist, Bob Ehrlich has spent the last four years helping his clients export American jobs, bail out Wall Street banks, and defend giant oil companies.
Well, give the O'Malley/Democrat coordinated campaign one thing; they are coordinated. Never mind the fact that O'Malley and the Democrats are kings of special interests, the kings and queens of lobbying, and of course the drainers of oil recovery funds. But hey...Team O'Malley never let the facts get in the way of their goals, right?
"In stark contrast, Governor O'Malley has delivered results, including the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit to put unemployed Marylanders back to work and a rapid response small business loan guaranty program to get credit flowing again to our small businesses."
Martin O'Malley did in fact deliver results, if your idea of "results" is thousands of closed businesses, forcing Marylanders out of state, record unemployment, unconscionable and immoral tax increases, reduced tax revenues, and record budget shortfalls . To put it bluntly, the only result Martin O'Malley has delivered has proof that he is unprepared to lead Maryland out of the fiscal mess he has created.

Voters have a choice in this election. A choice between sticking with Martin O'Malley and his recession, or choosing Bob Ehrlich and change that will benefit all Marylanders. Click here to help Governor Ehrlich make that change.


More below the fold.

Dispatches from Planet Turnbull

Once again, the lights seem to not be on out wherever Susan is:

Bob Ehrlich headed back to Montgomery County today to make more empty promises. He keeps saying how important Montgomery County voters are in getting elected. However, Bob Ehrlich has a funny way of courting Montgomery County voters; he insults us behind our backs.
And where did Bob Ehrlich allegedly do this? On a 50,000 watt radio station. One that, shall we say, covers the entire area where Governor Ehrlich was allegedly doing this.

Only Susan Turnbull, who as we know is a bit out there, could come up with such hooey.

Look, I understand that Maryland Democrats are going to criticize Governor Ehrlich and try to try to cover up for the shortcomings of Martin O'Malley. But if this kind of crap is the best that they can come up with.....then the election is already over.


More below the fold.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh....that Happened

Apparently Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun finally got around to linking to my critques of the MTA on Thursday, a few days after I called him out on Twitter about linking to an MPW column. I didn't discover this until today, from the complete lack of traffic we got from his post, and considering that the last time we mentioned Dresser he was playing wingman to Saqib Ali's offensive Glenn Beck joke....

The shorter version of Dresser's criticism of my criticism of the MTA is that it was "almost entirely grounded in ideology" and that my philosophy of governance is to do things better, cheaper......pretty much like the rest of my criticism of State Government. Dresser mostly takes umbrage with my statement about trying to turn the MTA profitable; a task which, I will admit, would be very difficult given the current constraints of the system. But the point I was trying to make was that farebox recovery rates, currently at 30 cents per dollar spent, are ridiculously low and not acceptable. Apparently, to some folks such inefficiency is acceptable, at a high cost to both riders and taxpayers alike.

Here's the money quote from Dresser's response:

The phrase "starve the beast" is a popular one on the far right, but it does pose a question: "What good is a beast that's been starved to death?" It won't be able to transport many low-income workers to the subsistence-level jobs that keep them off welfare. That's the public service aspect of transit that Griffiths misses: It's not a profit-generating business, nor was it ever intended to be.
The problem with this, of course, is that public transportation is not a "public service." It is a "public commodity" which people have the option of using. They also have other options of getting from Point A to Point B. However, steps can be taken to improve quality and reduce costs. Through increases inefficiency and the use of privatization, services can be expanded (not contracted) at a cost that is either equal to possibly even lower than current existing rates.

Incidentally, the comments section of the post is actually reasonably enlightened discussion.

Regardless, it seems to me that Dresser's criticism of my criticism is based on the philosophy that there is only one way to run a transit agency; I think it should be run efficiently, and he doesn't. Typical Sun...

More below the fold.

Come Support Vic Bernson

A few weeks back Red Maryland endorsed Vic Bernson for Delegate in District 33A. Vic is officially kicking off his campaign this Tuesday and we'd love for you to be there.

Join Vic (as well as myself and my Red Maryland colleague Greg Kline) on Tuesday at 6:30 pm at Ferguson Trucking Company at 1405 Odenton Road in Odenton.

For more info about the event and as well as how you can help Vic Bernson, visit the campaign website at

More below the fold.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Online Courses: Mainstreaming the Phoenix Model of Inferior Education

I have been discouraged, to say the least, about recent liberal budgetary and academic trends in higher education -- including some at Towson University -- that severely diminish comprehensive universities’ faculty and educational excellence. I may touch on others in future postings.

What follows is adapted from an article addressing just one of those trends, an article just published (with a great cartoon, parenthetically) in the The Faculty Voice. The piece is reprinted herein with the editor's permission.


-- Richard E. Vatz

Professor Helene Cohen's recent Faculty Voice article, "Online Learning's Human Dimension," with no caveats supports online classes and learning. A professor writing seriously about a major paradigmatic change in higher education for a relevant academic audience has the obligation not to write a one-sided persuasive piece, but to address the best arguments for the status quo paradigm, traditional learning, disinterestedly.

I am not an expert on the advantages of traditional learning vis-à-vis online learning, but there are several points unaddressed or inadequately addressed in the Cohen piece. I shall leave aside the serious issues of security and of cheating – devastating problems lo they be -- and I shall just focus on the educational value of the two modes of online learning and traditional learning.

Professor Cohen's article argues that "online courses are here to stay" and that they are more and more widely used. That is no doubt true, as is Professor Cohen's point that "they can actually contribute to the human dimension of learning." The fact that such classes are supported - even widely -- in the marketplace and have more than nothing to add to learning is hardly a ringing endorsement, however.

The article also argues that such classes are convenient and less expensive, all financial slam-dunks for administrative supporters of on-line courses.

On key educational values, the arguments for online courses fall woefully short. In addressing the classroom environment, an environment in which I have witnessed fascinating interaction and consequential insight and growth among students and faculty for decades, Professor Cohen counters that some shy students don't interact much and others may not be paying attention. This is hardly compensatory for the lack of significant, symbiotic intellectual development, development that occurs for only a small cohort of students in online classes.

Professor Cohen says her "students consider social networks to be true, meaningful social interactions." Right, and some of my students believe that if you miss 10 classes and do all right on exams that it must mean that you lose nothing substantive through excessive absences.

Professor Cohen raves about the possibility of extending online classes to include guests, but that is certainly not incompatible with a traditional class experience, wherein such participation is far more advantageous.

The effect of the group learning experience, witnessing substantive oral interaction in-person, is so superior to the on-line lack of community that it is hard to believe that the latter's supporters, absent the economic motivation, are serious about the value of online classes.

When I witness students who struggle with and then apprehend political rhetoric after two and one-half hours of give-and-take in an electrified class atmosphere, I sympathize with students who may try to understand such matters online.

A colleague of mine with significant experience in online courses at Ohio University agrees with the gravamen of my criticism of online courses, but does maintain that such courses offer more of an opportunity than a face-to-face classroom to examine and re-examine “a teacher's verbatim words.” As I have indicated, to make an overwhelming comparative advantages case for traditional learning courses over online courses does not require proving the latter is 100% bereft of value. My bud agrees.

There are always economical shortcuts in education, but I had always assumed that the purveyors knew how they shortchanged students educationally. A 3-week minimester philosophy class for 3 credits in ethics? Is there a serious professor or administrator who believes that offers learning equivalent to a 15-week class meeting two or three times a week? (By the way, Professor Cohen, the most frequent model for a "traditional class" is not one meeting "once a week.")

Yes, online classes are here to stay, and they are cost-savers and they are not literally without value for all students. They also compromise the learning of students who will be falsely accredited and sold a bill of goods to save some money.

That, unfortunately, is the new paradigm in many universities.

Professor Vatz is the longest-serving member of Towson's University Senate

(The Faculty Voice is published quarterly at College Park and
distributed to all faculty members and many staff members in
the University System of Maryland - plus some state and
local officials as well as friends of The Faculty Voice.)

More below the fold.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Campaign 101: Silver Bullets

I would like to take a brief second to talk about winning campaigns and losing campaigns.

You see, most people think that television advertising is the "silver bullet" of politics. That one great television ad will win an election for a candidate, particularly a primary election. I will use this as an excuse to embed the most badass campaign commercial of all time, which hopefully you have seen already:

So how did Dale Peterson do in the Alabama Agriculture Commissioners race? Third. Why? Well, it probably wasn't thugs and criminals, but it's hard to say exactly why he lost. But the point I'm trying to make is that this television commercial, while awesome and earning Peterson a ton of free local and national media, did not vault Peterson to the Republican nomination.

The lesson for candidates here in Maryland is this: never rely on the silver bullet. Some candidates may think that their silver bullet is a TV ad. For others it might be public service endorsements, or a particular volunteer fundraiser , or one of a hundred different things. The fact of the matter is that in local elections, all of these things are required in order to win; personal contact, dedicated volunteers, fundraising, community support, and yes paid media such as mailers and TV commercials.

But any candidates whose strategy is predicated on skirting by on one endorsement, one TV ad, one website, or one other wizbang idea.....don't waste your time, my time, or the time of your volunteers.


More below the fold.

Laslo Boyd's Weak Tea

If you want and explication of the word hackneyed, just look up a Laslo Boyd column. In particular, his latest bowl of pablum about tea partiers. You see when it comes to the American right Boyd has already shown he doesn’t know his head from his ass..

Let’s take some of Boyd’s ahem “argument” point by point.

What the tea party is good at is expressing rage and getting press coverage. Yet, a New York Times poll last month showed that 82 percent of Americans do not associate themselves with the tea party…Let's face it: the tea party is a fringe movement. Loud, but a fringe movement.

Fringe? Really Laslo? Then explain why more Americans say the average tea partier is closer to their views than President Obama, and why Gallup found that in “age, educational background, employment status, and race -- Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.”

Did any of them notice that 95 percent of Americans had their taxes reduced as part of the stimulus package?... You hear a lot of claims that taxes are goingto go up, but that's nothing more than political rhetoric and intellectual dishonesty.

Talk about intellectual dishonesty—the 95% claim has been roundly debunked. It’s impossible for 95% of Americans to get a tax cut if 47% pay no federal income tax. Much of the stimulus tax cuts are refundable meaning that the people who pay no income 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 redistribution. True most of these people do pay other taxes like the payroll tax. However, when you combine the totality of ALL of Obama’s “tax cuts” the refundable amount transferred to low income workers exceed what they pay in other taxes. Again, this is a wealth transfer, not a tax cut. Furthermore, the “making work pay” tax cut phases out as income rises. So low income Americans who work hard and earn more are hit with a big marginal tax rate increase as their income rises.

So tell me Laslo is it really just “political rhetoric” and “intellectual dishonesty” to claim taxes are going go up? Or to claim they are not in the face of the overwhelming evidence?

The teapot really started boiling during the health care reform discussions… but most of the public complaints from the tea party set have been about things that aren't in the health care bill. There never was a provision for death panels. This is not a government takeover of health care delivery. Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies will continue to be part of the private sector.

Sorry Laslo, while not a complete government takeover, Obamacare in fact, expands government into nearly every aspect of American health care, increases taxes, and exacerbates the cost problem it purports to solve.

Even before the ink was dry on the legislation Verizon and Caterpillar announced Obamacare would lead to increased insurance costs for their employees, and Medtronic warned that the measure’s taxes on it’s products would lead to thousands of employee layoffs.

Yes doctors, hospitals and insurance companies will marginally be part of the private sector, but tea partiers understood that Obamacare is a quintessentially corporatist bargain. Government allows—even guarantees—industry profits in return for conforming to the ruling party’s political agenda. Hence the reasons why the pharmaceutical and insurance industries cut back room deals with the White House.

Legitimate concerns, yet, in Boyd’s blinkered view these objections were never part of the tea party’s argument.

Sorry Laslo, despite all your gimpy straw man arguments, the tea party isn’t a fringe movement. And, for the most part their objections to expanded government, exploding deficits, and unsustainable spending are grounded in reality.

If only, Laslo, you had the eyes to see it.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It its clearly obvious that the people in Martin O'Malley's office do not know how to use Google.

Martin O'Malley, in his continuing effort to try to cover up the fact that he has destroyed more Maryland jobs than any other Governor in the nation, launched a new O'Malleynomic initiative today:

At remarks made this morning at a conference in Rockville, Gov. Martin O'Malley was expected to announce an administrative and legislative initiative to spur venture capital investment in Maryland's technology sector.

The program is called "InvestMaryland" and it will be run by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The governor called it "a public-private partnership to fuel venture capital investment in our innovation economy, such as bioscience companies," according to prepared remarks given to The Baltimore Sun.

So what in O'Malley's mind how will this program work? The Sun comes through with his explanation:

Insurance companies will be eligible for state issued tax credits and in turn they would invest dollars today in Maryland’s venture infrastructure. These credits will be deferred until 2015. A minimum of half these investments will flow into the Maryland Venture Fund. The balance will flow into Maryland based venture capital firms for the purposes of getting critical capital to Maryland businesses so they can create jobs and advance innovation in fields like the biosciences.

So what does it actually mean in the real world? Red Maryland has you covered with exclusive coverage of Martin O'Malley's internal monologue:

We will convince insurance companies to invest money in the state of Maryland and hope that they notice that the Governor has no pants and the effect of this program won't take effect until any potential O'Malley second term is over, when they realize that Martin O'Malley has no idea what he is doing when it comes to economic growth and development; in reality, venture capital will flow to Virginia where local and state political leaders actual welcome companies with policies that encourage job creation and economic development. But it's OK......because chicks dig me because I'm in a band.


Anyhoo, the name of this program is very curious because the name "Invest Maryland" has a history in this state when it comes to investing in our state. And it's not a good one:

Invest Maryland sued by state Suit alleges company misled investors refunds are sought September 19, 1995
|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,SUN STAFF

The state's top securities regulator yesterday sued Invest Maryland Corp., charging that the Annapolis-based company misled investors who put up seed money to start a combined life insurer, stock brokerage and buffalo burger fast-food chain.

In a 29-page civil complaint, Securities Commissioner Robert N. McDonald asked the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to appoint a receiver to manage the company and to order Invest Maryland to offer refunds to investors.
In a separate action, the commissioner yesterday also gave Invest Maryland Chairman Dennis K. McLaughlin 15 days to show cause why he shouldn't be barred from engaging in securities or investment activities in Maryland.

Mr. McDonald said in the administrative order that he took the actions because he had "determined that [Mr. McLaughlin] engaged in dishonest or unethical practices in the securities business by offering and selling securities in violation" of the state securities law.

Attorneys for Invest Maryland executives didn't return messages asking for comment last night.
Now you would think that the O'Malley team, in their infinite wisdom, would not name some pie in the sky venture capital scheme after a failed pie in the sky venture capital scheme from fifteen years ago. I mean, it takes two minutes to find this stuff on Google. But then again.....nobodoy, least of all people like us, have considered that Team O'Malley knows the slightest thing about job creation and putting people back to work. O'Malley and company has done a fantastic job putting people out of work and creating a less favorable economic climate for Maryland's middle and working class families. But actually bringing jobs to Maryland? No.

To put it simply; if Martin O'Malley's economic team can't figure out Google, how can they figure out the economy?


More below the fold.