Friday, March 30, 2012

The Worst Environmental Policies 501c3 Money can Buy

Last week, Baltimore Sun environmental activist reporter Tim Wheeler crowed about how Maryland is nearly on track to meet the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act goal of a 25% reduction of 2006 level greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. However, the state needs Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind boondoggle, increased gas tax and limits on septic systems to reach the goal. How convenient.

Wheeler also noted a preliminary report from researchers at Towson and the University of Maryland citing 36,000 jobs and $6.1 billion boost to the state’s economy.

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Climate Change website we can infer that the Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) at the University of Maryland performed the economic impact analysis.

CIER is a grant recipient of the Town Creek Foundation. Town Creek is the environmental advocacy foundation, which paid for and wrote Maryland’s Climate Action Report, and funded the lobbyists (Environment Maryland and Chesapeake Climate Action Network) to push for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act is based on the climate commission’s action plan.

The Town Creek Foundation paid the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) $100,000 to run the proceedings of Maryland’s Climate Change Commission. Town Creek board member Donald Boesch is a member of the commission, and last year Town Creek gave CCS $150,000 to “create a package of greenhouse gas emission reducing transportation policies around which support from key Maryland stakeholders can coalesce.”

I view the word stakeholder in the same way Washington Examiner Editorial Page Editor Mark Tapscott does, “obscurantist bureaucratese for ‘those who rub each other’s backs to insure that every hog gets a full plate at the taxpayers’ expense.’” Which in the case of Governor O’Malley and Maryland energy and environmental policy is spot on.

We’ll see if Town Creek paid RESI and CIER for their work when they publish their 2012 grants or their 2012 IRS return becomes available.

However, there are two other analyses Wheeler never bothers to mention—natch—that paint a very different picture of the economic impact of Maryland’s climate policy.

The first, brought to you by Red Maryland four years ago, is the Beacon Hill Institute’s peer review analysis exposing the fallacies in the Maryland Climate Commission’s economic analysis.

BHI found:

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

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

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

For policymakers, the CAP report offers no worthwhile guidance. The report fails to quantify the monetary benefits of reduced GHG emissions rendering its cost savings estimates implausible if not downright unbelievable. The faulty analysis contained in the CAP report leaves policymakers with no basis on which to judge the merits of the CAP report’s recommendations for action on the mitigation of GHG emissions [emphasis mine].

In January 2009, the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services weighed in with it’s own policy analysis.

DLS found that the commission’s recommendations were “largely command-and-control policies rather than incentive-based policies.” Like BHI, DLS also found similar flaws in the commission’s economic analysis such as omitted costs, improper benefit-cost valuation, and forecast errors.

In summary DLS found:

However, despite a significant amount of research, considerable uncertainty remains over the ultimate economic impacts of such a policy. In addition, the choice and design of the specific mitigation programs implemented will affect the magnitude and distribution of GHG mitigation costs. Policies that are not incentive-based (i.e., command-and-control) and/or do not implement economy-wide regulations will be much more costly. The distribution of costs within the economy will depend on several key factors, including the energy- and carbon-intensity of energy consumed by each sector.

In Maryland, the manufacturing sector will likely experience a greater amount of employment and output losses relative to the rest of the economy as a result of GHG reduction policies. However, policies that attempt to mitigate these losses and exempt the manufacturing sector will only increase the total cost of GHG mitigation and shift the burden to other economic sectors. Ultimately, the cost of GHG mitigation policies, even those imposed on businesses, will be borne by individuals.

As usual, Marylanders are going to pay dearly for Governor O'Malley's political goals masquerading as sound public policy.


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Total Team Coverage of the U.S. Senate Debate

In case you missed it, our Red Maryland Broadcast from last night:

Listen to internet radio with redmaryland on Blog Talk Radio


The archived version of the debate from UStream:


Video streaming by Ustream

And the Storify version of the tweets from last night's debate.


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Red Maryland Radio: 3-29-2012 (Senate Debate Edition)

Greg and I were on a special Red Maryland Radio that was the post-game show for the U.S. Senate Candidate's Debate at Anne Arundel Community College tonight.

Listen to internet radio with redmaryland on Blog Talk Radio


We had a TON of guests, including:
  • Senate Candidate Dan Bongino
  • 4th District Congressional Candidate Faith Loudon
  • 2010 Senate Nominee Dr. Eric Wargotz
  • Former State Senator Janet Greenip
  • Senate Candidate Corrogan Vaughn
  • Senate Candidate Robert Broadus
  • Senate Candidate Rick Hoover
  • Anne Arundel Central Committee Member and Debate Organizer (and Red Maryland's own) Jimmy Braswell
  • Senate Candidate David Jones
  • Senate Candidate Richard Douglas
  • MD GOP 1st Vice-Chairman Diana Waterman
  • MD GOP Executive Director David Ferguson
  • Anne Arundel Central Committee Member Scott Shaffer
  • Anne Arundel Central Committee Legal Counsel Jason Rheinstein
Be sure to listen tonight and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes.


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Vatz Resignation Letter to Towson’s Conservative “Youth for Western Civilization”

 --Richard E. Vatz

     You may have heard about the brief and stressful birth, life and demise of “Youth for Western Civilization (YWC),” a conservative group at Towson University summarized well by Tyler Waldman at Patch.com and Jordan Russell at the university newspaper, Towerlight.  The organization at Towson was conceived of by student Matthew Heimbach.

     Last June he described for me what the ethos and nature of YWC would be like, and the genesis of the organization.  Matt asked me if I would be the advisor for the organization.  He sounded a bit combative and spoke of encountering an “highly apathetic and hostile environment” at Towson.

     I wrote back to him the following:

          “Sounds doable if we could meet in a couple of weeks.
          As I say, the only point you make that brings me pause is the 
          inclusion of protests and assumption of a hostile environment
          before the evidence presents itself.

          Part of conservatism is giving people a chance to
          demonstrate their good faith.”

     To make a long, complicated story relatively short, YWC indicated over time that they had encountered substantial anger, threats and harassment from a small number of campus denizens, but that several members of the Student Government Association (a truly excellent group of young men and women this academic year, incidentally) had offered their regrets. 

     I wrote to Matt, simply enough,  “Always act resolutely with dignity – it’s the conservative way, even when it is difficult.”  He assured me he and his group did.

    The relations with other campus groups were fractious, and I attended a meeting of Unity in the Community Campus Forum wherein I was given a copy of an article by the YWC president printed on the national Youth for Western Civilization website

After reading Matthew’s lengthy piece, I wrote the following e-mail to him March 8 (with a few errors cleaned up):

          Matthew, I write this in sorrow, not in anger.
                    I attended the Unity in the Community Campus Forum
                 discussion today for about an hour and 15 minutes, and I
                 noted two things:

                          1.     Except for BSU president Kenan Herbert, there was no one who  
                      expressed the slightest concern that YWC had been threatened,  
                      harassed and mistreated on campus.

                          2.     No one sympathetic to YWC expressed the slightest concern
                      regarding YWC’s frightening rhetoric, referring to political opponents
                      as “cancer,” using the words Islam and Muslim disparagingly, and
                      referencing “disgusting degenerates that make up our opposition.”

                    I am sorry, but that is not how impressive and serious
                 conservatives argue their case.  Look at any of William
                 F. Buckley’s treatises, Barry Goldwater’s, [George F.
                 Will’s], Paul Ryan’s or go back to Voltaire [or
                 Edmund Burke] and you will find nothing of this style.
         
                     I realize that I have been your advisor only nominally,
                  but I cannot in good conscience advise a group that
                  attacks people or groups personally or tactlessly
                  or does not recognize their dignity and the value
                  of dignified argument in the marketplace of ideas.

                     I wish you and the YWC the best of luck, and I hope
                  that your better side wins out in the long run and also
                  that you and your political opponents at   
                  Towson understand that the quality of being physically
                  secure at a university is non-negotiable as a starting
                  point. 

                  Richard Vatz

     I have never had an off-putting interaction with Matt Heimbach, either in person or by e-mail, but there are limits to what I can as a faculty advisor accept in the style and content of public debate by an organization to which I am an advisor.

     The final paragraph of my e-mail is important, I believe, to the effect that public discourse requires a level of dignity that when violated becomes unacceptable in the marketplace of ideas. 


Dr. Vatz has been a professor at Towson University for over 35 years.


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Red Maryland Radio: Live from the US Senate Debate

Join Greg and I for a special Red Maryland Radio live from the U.S. Senate Candidate's Debate at Anne Arundel Community College tonight at 8 PM.

The Anne Arundel County Republican Party, in conjunction with the Maryland Republican Party, will be hosting the debate at 6 PM. The two-hour debate will be moderated by Dr. Dan Nataf, Political Science professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College. The event is free to the public and will take place in the Florestano Building, Room 101 of the Arnold campus.

Greg and I will be broadcasting live immediately at the conclusion of the debate.

Be sure to listen tonight and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Resigning as an Action

In the ongoing saga of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, the story seems to keep getting worse before it gets any better. Unfortunately even for folks like us, there is very little that we can do to either assist in the process or take any particular actions as it relates to Leopold's indictment.

There is one thing that I have decided to do, however. Last year Leopold appointed me to serve on the Anne Arundel County Amusement License Commission. Basically, the Commission regulates the County bingo parlors. And as technically an appointee of John Leopold in this capacity, I realized that there was a statement that I could make in protest of Leopold's activity.

Today I sent a letter to John Leopold resigning from the Commission, and requesting that he resign as County Executive.

A copy of the short letter is below.

Letter resigning from the Amusement License Commission


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Boss O'Malley


From Marta Mossburg's column in the Baltimore Sun. Read the whole thing.

And they are not just any special interests but close allies of Governor O'Malley. A long list of political supporters would benefit from the State Center development, including lobbyist Sean Malone, Mr. O'Malley's labor commissioner during his time as mayor of Baltimore. He represents State Center LLC, as well as other organizations that stand to gain from this legislation, including East Baltimore Development Inc., the secretive, taxpayer-funded organization overseeing the haltingly slow redevelopment of land around Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The lobbyist's influence on the legislation was so strong that Mr. Simmons said he was told to "work it [his objections] out with Sean Malone."

Jon Laria, managing partner of Ballard Spahr's Baltimore office, development lawyer and member of Mr. O'Malley's gubernatorial transition team, is another person with a lot to gain from the project. He is counsel for State Center LLC and vice chair (with Ms. McIntosh as chair) of the governor's Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal. Cozy, isn't it?


And Martin O'Malley wants to be president?


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The VRWC Radio: 3/27/12

Jimmy had to attend to other matters, and Ethan is sick, so the show aired at 5 this afternoon. Don't worry, it's here if you missed it...

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Video streaming by Ustream


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From the Editors: We Are Not Endorsing in MDGOP National Committeewoman Race

It has come to our attention that there is talk about an impending Red Maryland endorsement in the MDGOP National Committeewoman race. We’d like to put a stake through the heart of that rumor and state unequivocally that Red Maryland is not endorsing any candidate for MDGOP National Committeewoman.

For the record, a Red Maryland endorsement is given only by a unanimous vote from all four editors.

There is no unanimity among the editors to support any of the candidates for National Committeewoman. Some of us have serious concerns about Nicolee Ambrose, some of us are rightly worried about clan Scott.

What we are unanimous about is maintaining the integrity of Red Maryland and the hard work all of us have put into this endeavor over the last five years.

The possibility of one of the candidates claiming a Red Maryland endorsement, when in reality it is only the personal endorsement of one editor, is a grave concern to us.

So let us be crystal clear: Red Maryland is not endorsing Nicolee Ambrose, and we are not endorsing Audrey Scott.


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The Broadside 3-26-12

Check out the latest edition of The Broadside.




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You can subscribe to all Red Maryland Network shows on iTunes.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Obama Russian Wink: Will Mainstream Media Focus on This Authentic Gaffe?

--Richard E. Vatz

     I have written here and there on political “gaffes,” arguing that they are exaggerated in detection and exaggerated in significance, if not always in effect.

      A genuine meaningful gaffe is a premeditated statement of opinion that reveals something substantively deficient about a principal actor; it is not an error, not a Freudian slip, and not a misspeaking.

     President Barack Obama made today what I would call a genuine gaffe:  he said to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regarding missile defense positions he could take only after the presidential election: "This is my last election.  After my election, I have more flexibility."
     This would be comparable to presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- not his advisor Eric Fehrnstrom -- saying that his current rhetoric is misleading because "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign; Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."
     The Obama statement, made with full intent, is not ambiguous: it means that President Obama will make strong protestations regarding the crucial need for a U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, but that after the election, he will let it languish as an issue.  Thus Russia should not take umbrage.
     What will the mainstream media make of this?  Ambiguous what the president meant?  How could it be ambiguous that he was saying that Russia should ignore as empty political posturing his more strongly stated policy positions now.
     Will Brian Williams narrate a segment for his nightly news or for “Rock Center?”  Will the Etch-A-Sketch coverage be matched by the coverage of “The Obama Russian Wink?”
     We shall see.


Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric and communication at Towson University


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The Broadside Tonight 7pm

Andrew is in Nashville on assignment for the Fan Freedom Project so tonight

Broadside Trivia champion Steve Parkhurst, and friend of the show and neighbor Bryan Gambrill will be coming out out the bullpen to join me tonight.

Tune in tonight at 7pm NOW on the new Red Maryland Network Ustream channel

We've got a jam packed show.

The Civil War Kid, Brooks Eye--named after Baltimore Oriole HOFer Brooks Robinson--is a nine-year old Civil War buff and blogger. Brooks will join us to talk a little Civil War history, how he got interested in the subject and his quest to join the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.

Will Upton from American for Tax Reform stops by to talk Maryland and taxes, and in this legislative session there are a lot of them.

We'll Rock the Red with Washington Capitals Examiner Michael Hoffmann and talk the Caps chances of keeping their tenuous grip on the eighth and final playoff spot.


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By Regulations They Mean Rule of Law

This past weekend, House Democrats rammed through Governor O'Malley's "public private partnerships" or P3 legislation.

The day's most spirited debate came on the issue of whether developers helping the state with some projects should have access to an expedited legal process. That provision is in an administration bill pushed by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown that sets up a framework for public-private partnerships.

The measure would be retroactive, and therefore help Maryland push through a legal tangle that has stalled the State Center project near Bolton Hill in Baltimore.

"What we have here is the worst type of sweetheart deal," thundered Del. Luiz Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat who wanted the provision erased.

Defenders of the provision, including Baltimore Del. Maggie McIntosh, argued that the current legal process can be onerous and stifle business. "Time is money in development," McIntosh said. "We don't want our regulations to drive business out of Baltimore."

The provision stayed in the bill, as the House gave its initial nod to the public-private partnership plan.


And with that, Maryland Democrats are one step closer to codifying cronyism in to Maryland law. That sweetheart deal Del. Simmons refers to is the billions to subsidize the State Center boondoggle for Governor O'Malley's cronies.

And it is only fitting that it was Maggie McIntosh who took up the fight against onerous regulations on business, considering she doesn't let a pesky thing like ethics get in the way of using her elected office to drum up business for her political consulting business.

Welcome to the Banana Republic of Maryland.


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Red Maryland Radio: 3-22-2012

Hope you caught the 1st Anniversary Episode of Red Maryland Radio with Greg and I tonight.

Listen to internet radio with redmaryland on Blog Talk Radio


We played back some of our favorite clips, as well as looked at the issue of the day, including the tax situation in Annapolis, as well as revieiwing our sample ballot here in the 4th Congressional District.

Be sure to listen tonight and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes.


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Celebrate the 1st Anniversary of Red Maryland Radio and the Red Maryland Network Tonight at 8

Come celebrate the 1st Anniversary of Red Maryland Radio with Greg and I tonight at 8 PM

Fret not, we'll also be talking about the issue of the day.

Be sure to listen tonight and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gov. Mitt Romney in Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s Arbutus; Some Confident Signs for November Amid Largely Irrelevant Noise

--Richard E. Vatz

Well, if you don’t like Gov. Mitt Romney, you will say that on this day his aide made a stupid gaffe by saying of the odds-on favorite to secure the Republican Presidential nomination, "It's almost like an Etch A Sketch” in description of Romney’s primary appeals to the right-wing of his party: "You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again." Good show, bud – say your candidate is insincere.

Democrats and liberal mainstream media will try to keep that incredibly dumb remark alive, but almost eight months before the election, it will not, this observer predicts, have legs.

But Romney’s Town Hall meeting in Arbutus, the place wherein Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (full disclosure: a friend of the author of this piece), the Maryland chair of the Romney campaign, grew up, was in fact a rousing success, stylistically and substantively.

There was not a misstep as the former Governor (Massachusetts) set the crowd on fire with a no-notes rousing campaign speech.

The Baltimore Sun quoted Gov. Romney’s answer to the aide as claiming that he “was talking about organization, not issues: ‘Organizationally, a general election campaign takes on a different profile; the issues I'm running on will be exactly the same. I'm running as a conservative Republican...[T]he policies and positions are the same. ‘ "

Jeb Bush endorsed Romney today, and the town meeting was impressive, again with no sour notes whatsoever.

At the meeting Gov. Romney talked about a wide array of issues; he appeared to be in no hurry, as he was admittedly in hyper-friendly territory. He was particularly impressive in discussing his incredulity that the greatest obstacle to economic growth in the United States was the president and his tax and regulatory policies. The greatest prospect for the United States’ reacquiring its military superiority is, he said partly in answer to yours truly, growing our air and naval forces, not gargantuan cuts; he was incredulous that President Obama believed that announcing exit dates independent of ground status realities in war zones didn’t compromise the success of our military missions.

Many Marylanders will be talking about today’s boffo showing for years; the media will be saying they recall the day of the Romney speech in Arbutus, and “ah, yes…wasn’t that the day the aide revealed what Mitt Romney was really like?”

T’aint true; in Arbutus, Maryland Gov. Mitt Romney exhibited today the rhetorical excellence that will run rhetorical rings around the president, even when the audience is the general American public.

Professor Vatz teaches rhetoric and Communication at Towson University


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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