Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stupid Border Tricks

And everybody wonders why we need to pay more attention to the Border...

A globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis was allowed back into the U.S. by a border inspector who disregarded a computer warning to stop him and don protective gear, officials said Thursday. The inspector has been removed from border duty.

The unidentified inspector explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary," officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation.

So we have Border Patrol agents who can't figure out the computer warnings to not let somebody in the country? Has anybody figured out if they can understand the warnings not to let suspected terrorists into the country? And people want to throw open the rights of citizenship for people who are here illegally who may also be in the country despite warnings against allowing their entry?

This is completely unacceptable and the administration needs to get to the bottom of

Stupid Coach Tricks

Why do things like this happen?:
Rich history wasn't enough to lure Billy Donovan away from Florida. In the end, it was just riches.

Donovan will have plenty of them after agreeing to a five-year deal paying $5.5 million annually to coach the Orlando Magic, an official in the NBA told The Associated Press on Thursday. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract was agreed to but not signed.
Successful college coaches who have the opportunity to become living legends and have job security for life take the money and run off to the pros? The list of casualties is, in the NFL and the NBA.

Rick Pitino, Lon Kruger, Mike Montgomery, Nick Saban, Tim Floyd, June Jones, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, Leonard Hamilton, etc. and so forth.

Billy Donovan is going to be a very rich, albeit very unemployed, guy in a couple of years...

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

All the Reasons in the World

Professor Bainbridge runs down the reason he's pleased Fred Thompson is in the race. My personal favorite:
Unlike say Hillary or Romney, he hasn't been planning to run for President ever since s/he got elected President of the 9th Grade class and the senior football players ran his/her underwear up the flagpole, as illustrated by his famous comment that "After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood."

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Continued Insanity

The Capital never ceases to amaze with its School Board selection editorials. Today's starts out like so:
Powerlessness is never a good feeling, particularly when it involves the appointment of officials - such as school board members - who can have a major local impact.
Which is funny, because I feel powerless over the newfangled system that John Leopold and his ideologically-simpatico Democratic friends are foisting upon us on July 1st. Because, contrary to what they are continually trying to feed people, the people will still have less impact over the new selection process than the old. Particularly when one considers that even when a nominee is rejected, the unelected bureaucrats are the only group empowered to select the potential replacements.

Let us hope that the petition drive succeeds. It may not be a panacea, but at least once and for all people will decide if they want to have the opportunity to have a voice in the matter or if they think John Leopold, Martin O'Malley, and their statist friends should have all of the say....

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Game On

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson will take a major step toward a 2008 run for the White House by "testing the waters" -- beginning to raise money and hire campaign staff as early as Friday, several sources close to Thompson told CNN.

While the former senator from Tennessee is not an official candidate for president, he is acknowledging interest in the race for the Republican nomination.

Let's go to work.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Not No, But Hell No

A commenter on the Conservative Refuge posted this comment:
The weekend before the convention the head of the AA Republican committee came to speak at our club. Nice guy, middle of the road all the way. Floated an idea out there about the Central committe picking who they wanted to run and leaving everybody else out in the cold. I can say from personal experience that a lot of good Republicans get disenchanted and don't feel like their voice is being heard. Take the guy I helped out last election cycle for example. A good guy, maybe a little too idealistic, but if the party would work with him and made him feel a part of the team he would be a great candidate in a couple of cycles. Instead he got left out in the cold and it ended rather bitterly.
Now, I'm not certain if Mike Collins said what Randy says he said or not. But this idea has been floated before and I can never be amazed that it keeps getting resuscitated.

There is absolutely no reason for the Central Committees to take sides in contested primary elections. What the hell business is it of the Central Committee to determine which candidate is more Republican than the other? Can you imagine if this kind of scheme was alllowed what kind of people would get chosen if the Central Committee fell into the hands of either faction of the party? You'd could wind up with a group of zealots on one hand, or a group of left-leaning RINOs on the other.

We'd wind up with the same problem as the GOP did in Rhode Island, where in a contested primary the NRSC swooped in and propped up Senator Linc Chafee against a conservative challenger. Cost the NRSC millions of dollars that could have been spent against Democratic candidates.

The party needs to worry about building the party to support whomever the nominee is in taking on the Democrats. Party building does NOT mean taking sides and poking its nose where it doesn't belong. We are all on the same team at the end of the day. We don't need bitterness because the Central Committee tried to dictate from above. I sincerely hope that the commenter took those remarks out of context...

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Time to Get Into the Game

It has been a long time since I started thinking about the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Which candidate to support. Which candidate ultimately would be the greatest vehicle both for the Republican Party and for common-sense conservative ideals. To make that decision, you have to go all of the way back to the beginning.

You have to start thinking about Barry Goldwater.

Sen. Goldwater is the godfather of the modern conservative movement. His Presidential Campaign of 1964, while disastrous at the time at the ballot box, led directly to the Reagan Revolution and the Contract with America. His brand of Republicanism was founded on the principles of strong national defense, fiscal conservatism, and smaller government.
Somewhere along the way, the Republican Party got away from those concepts as our first principles. I have said it before, and I will say it again; victory in November was used to justify a lot of unpalatable things. Expanded social spending. No Child Left Behind. More and more pork barrel spending. What we need in 2008 is a candidate for President who understands these principles. The three "front-runners" for the Presidency on the Republican side, as defined by the media, all have flaws that get away from those core principles;
  • John McCain helped pass the greatest restriction on political speech in generations through the McCain-Feingold Act. Additionally, he opposed the tax cuts proposed by the Bush Administration early in his first term (though he had a come to Jesus moment recently on the issue).
  • Rudy Guiliani, despite all of his efforts in cleaning up crime in New York City, is strenuously opposed to Second Amendment rights and, until recently, had been vague about his idea of federalism as it relates to abortion..
  • Mitt Romney is an enigma; is he or is he not a conservative, at any level? Regardless of whether or not the Mitt Romney ca. 1994, Mitt Romney ca. 2002, or the Mitt Romney of present day is the real Mitt Romney, that does not even begin to address the issue of his term as Governor of Massachusetts, particularly his "RomneyCare' health care package that forces all businesses to provide health care.
And while I will support our GOP nominee in the general election, there is no possible way that I can support their candidacies in the primary. Their positions just are not there for me, whether it be on taxes, guns, or health care, to support them this early in the process. And that is why I am supporting this man:

Fred Thompson is my choice to be the next President of the United States. Sen. Thompson espouses the conservative principles of a strong national defense (including securing the borders), reducing the size of government, and fiscal responsibility. Additionally, he just has the kind of conversational, common sense demeanor about him that will be necessary to connect our conservative ideals with the electorate. None of the other candidates in the race have the broad conservative platform and issue positions as Sen. Thompson does.

Is he a perfect candidate? Of course not, who is? He did vote for McCain-Feingold, but at least has the sense to realize that he made a mistake in voting for it. We don't need a Presidential candidate who is infallible. Just one who is committed to conservative Republican principles and understanding the role of government in a Republican administration.

That is not to say that this was an easy call. For a long time I waited to see what Newt Gingrich would do. Nobody can think and speak as articulately on Republican issues, and can come up with ideas that fit within the Republican worldview as the former Speaker. I see no other candidate in the race who can offer the range of solutions that Speaker Gingrich could as President. However, the fact that the Speaker has spent over two years talking about running for President without taking affirmative steps toward that goal are puzzling and gave me great pause. And the likelihood of Speaker Gingrich winning the nomination are not so good at the moment, particularly given the fact that he is not formally in the race and seems to be stalling until November, barely two months before Iowa and New Hampshire to announce. I am not certain that he is going to ultimately decide to get into the race at that late of a date and be able to succeed.

Now, it is time to finally nominate a conservative Republican candidate for President for 2008. This is Fred Thompson's moment.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Well, I Feel Better

We've got Peter Franchot on the job:

As the chief regulator of gasoline in Maryland, Comptroller Peter Franchot says it's his job to stand up and get answers about pricing for Bill and everyone else who is angry. He says, "Consumers have a right to know and big oil companies have an obligation to come clean with this information."

To get the information, Franchot has launched an investigation into exactly how gas is priced. He's focused on the major oil companies...sending each a letter asking them to explain and justify a practice that's been kept secret for years. It’s called zone pricing. Franchot says, "It raises real suspicions. They claim its some elaborate software they have but we'll find out. I look forward to having them explain why gas is 40-cents more expensive at an Exxon in Silver Spring than an Exxon at BWI.".

I'm glad to see that a guy who has no idea how economics work is on the case.

I've got a better idea; why doesn't Franchot go investigate why the cost of government keeps rising and rising despite the fact that the people get less and less in return every day....

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How Did I Miss This?

Not as good as the first one...but still:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Talking about what's on Everybody's Mind...

...the status of O's skipper Sam Perlozzo.

The fact of the matter is that Perlozzo is not entirely to blame for the Orioles woes. Sure, he has made some boneheaded decisions, such as removing Jeremy Guthrie from the May 13th game against the Red Sox with one out in the 9th after only 92 pitches, and allowing Denys Baez to remain the setup man for way too long. Is Sam Perlozzo the perfect manager? Maybe not.

But there are two distinct things to remember when discussing his job status as to why this is not his fault:

Injuries: 3/5 of the projected starting rotation (Kris Benson, Jaret Wright and Adam Loewen) are on the shelf, and only Loewen may ever wear and Orioles uniform again. Steve Trachsel, Brian Burres and Jeremy Guthrie have done yeomen like work to pick up the slack. Problem is that the bullpen got overtaxed while Burres and Guthrie were stretching out their arms as starters. Also, don't forget Ramon Hernandez was on the shelf for most of April, too.

The Front Office: Perlozzo can only deal with the hand his dealt as far as personnel. The front office improved the pitching, but gave no help to the offensive situation. While Jay Payton and Aubrey Huff were adequate additions, neither player scares anybody with the stick. Combine that with the lack of power production from Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons and its amazing that the offense has scored as many runs as they have. That's not Perlozzo's fault. It may not even bey the fault of Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette, since those personal decisions are made at a higher level.

The one thing to remember about Perlozzo's job status is this: what is accomplished by firing him now? You wind up with a placeholder manager through the rest of the season, then need to go about hiring a new manager when it will be impossible to get the kind of "name" manager that Angelos will demand come in and work for him. It's not going to happen.

Hopefully, the offense can turn it around and save us from further discussion of the issue.


Who, Us?

Nothing to see here, move along.

PSC approves 50% electricity rate hike

Isn't that the rate hike that Governor O'Malley vowed to stop?

Yeah, I thought so....

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Leopold Budget Problem

So I missed most of the upfront debate about County Executive John Leopold's Fiscal 2008 budget . But there are a few things that I need to note:
  • Any budget that has an increase in spending of nearly $155 million in a tough fiscal environment is not a fiscally conservative, fiscally responsible budget. As expected, John Leopold was unable to live up to his promise to tighten the fiscal ship of Anne Arundel County. Some may argue that not to be the case, but it would be hypocritical for fiscal conservatives to assail Governor O'Malley's budget increase when proportionally Leopold is proposing a much larger 6.5% overall budget hike.

  • It is incomprehensible as to why Leopold was so insistent about the need for the car rental tax. Existing revenues are projected at $150 million higher than in FY 2007. Why do we need additional revenue sources when revenues are up? To fund more of Leopold's discretionary spending?

  • I am glad that Leopold did not give the Board of Education the entire 19-percent budget hike that Maxwell, Peterson et. al. believe they should receive. However, it is fiscally irresponsible to allocated a $60 million increase in Board of Ed spending when Maxwell and Board leaders seem to be incapable of putting into words what the hell this increase is actually going to accomplish. As I noted in February, 80 percent of the budget is spent on personnel; is that where the increase is going, because nearly half of the $60 million increase is going to salaries? Is it going into classrooms? Who knows, because the unelected Board of Education refuses to specify why thy need all of this additional money.

  • The one bright spot I noted is that spending in the Office of the County Executive was reduced. While Leopold may be trying to put on a charade that he is spending responsibly, at least he is reducing spending within his own office.

  • I am very disappointed in Leopold's handling of grants. He has taken a lot of flack for dramatically slashing the amount of grants that the office gives out. And he should take flack...for leaving them there at all. The fact of the matter is that the Anne Arundel County Government is not a bank from which private organizations get to withdraw funds sans penalty. The concept of government redistributing money from private citizens to private organizations is a very statist idea; something that a true fiscal conservative would not get into. All of the money should be cut.

  • Particularly disturbing is a $92,000 grant to the Broadneck HS Athletic Booster Club. The organization did not receive funding in the FY2007, and there is a history of Broadneck receiving money from the Department of Recreations and Parks for the installation of FieldTurf during Dennis Callahan's time as Director. It seems odd, given that the Booster Club needed to raise the majority of the money and that Callahan is now Leopold's Chief Administrative Officer.
The fact of the matter is that Leopold's budget is extremely disappointing to fiscal conservatives. Of course, I expected nothing less given Leopold's proud record of supporting big government and liberal positions. Leopold's budget seems like one produced by a County Executive looking to move up in 2010. If not, and with his spending policies and attempts to raise taxes, Leopold is extremely vulnerable to a challenger in that year's Republican primary.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

More on the Scope of Government and Parental Responsibility

To add on to my missive from last night, Tim Phillips from Americans for Prosperity chimes in on recent developments regarding a la carte cable offerings :
Asking parents to supervise what their children watch is a conservative idea. Threats from Washington bureaucrats to regulate television are not. Proponents of a la carte sometimes represent themselves as advocates of free markets, but government-mandated, "managed competition" is the stuff of Hillary Clinton's health-care plan and the botched telephone unbundling fights of the 1990s, not of truly competitive free markets.

Such regulations are based on a government-knows-best mentality that is all too common on the left, but that conservatives have traditionally rejected. Such mandates would abrogate contracts between video service providers and programmers, imposing a complicated and expensive regulatory burden on these providers and decreasing consumer choice.
Read the whole thing. But this further illustrates the point I tried to make regarding the Republican Party embracing the concept of statism to promote an ostensibly conservative agenda.

Hey, I like the idea of offering cable channels on an a la carte basis. But if it was that profitable and people wanted it that much, somebody would already be doing it. Using the federal government to force cable companies to do this not only bad for the market, its bad for the upholding of principle.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's Time to Rediscover our Soul

I watched the Republican debate from South Carolina on Tuesday night, as I am sure many of you did also. The thing that I noticed again and again and again is the fact that our party has 10 people up on stage, and none of them can serve as a Republican President.
  • John McCain has reinvented himself more times than I care to comment upon. Back in 2000, he was on the Straight Talk Express, and doing all of these ostensibly conservative things. Then, post-2000, he decided that abridging the First Amendment was a good idea with McCain-Feingold, voted against the tax cuts, and found religion on taxes and spending after decided to run a second time.

  • Mitt Romney is the President you cast from central casting. He has the look to be President. He has been a successful businessman. But McCain's quip about changing his views depending on the year and what office he is seeking is no laughing matter. The truth is that he has changed his views on a variety of positions. His Massachusetts health care plan, while market based, still smacks of government intervention.

  • I admire the leadership Rudy Giuliani showed on 9/11. I admire the fact that he has the courage of his convictions to say that he disagrees with the majority of the party on the issue of abortion. But combine that with his views on guns and there isn't much difference between him and Southern Democrats.

  • Mike Huckabee is the one second-tier guy who seems to be gaining traction, particularly with social conservatives and his line about John Edwards in a beauty shop. But there are serous concerns with his record on taxes and he seems to lack the ability to translate his status into supporters and cash...actually kinda reminds me of another former Governor of Arkansas and where he was at this point in 1991.

  • Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, and Duncan Hunter are all solid conservatives who have serious bonafides on issues of life, spending, and security respectively. Roll them into one candidate, and you have a serious contender. Separately, you have three candidates who have problems raising money and profile.

  • Tom Tancredo is a gaffe-prone one-trick pony who has the same money and profile problem as the above.

  • Tommy Thompson is a serious Presidential contender....from the year 2000. He deferred and is running eight-years too late. He seems to be out of touch on the major issues of our time and cannot keep his foot out of his own mouth.

  • And the less we say about Ron Paul the better at this point.
It's no wonder that myself and many other solid conservatives are sitting out at this point, and many of them are waiting to see if this guy or this guy finally jump into the fray.

The problem is not just contained with the Presidential candidates. The problem permeates every level of Congressional leadership. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Bush Administration and Republican leadership have caved on the issue of illegal immigration, giving illegal immigrants amnesty and agreeing to build only 300 miles of border fence (instead of the already Congressionally mandated 900 miles) in exchange for who knows what exactly. And it doesn't even matter what they get in return. The fact of the matter is that the leadership abandoned not only the base, but the majority of the people in this country who want to see tougher sanctions put on illegal immigrants who want to see illegal immigration dealt with in a manner that does not allow for amnesty.

But it doesn't end there. It extends to so much more:
  • The defense of indicted members of Congress from certain aspects of investigation, including Democrat Willie Jefferson.

  • As documented by Erick Erickson, the House leadership's insistence on putting Congressman Ken Calvert on the Appropriations Committee.

  • The attempt by the administration and Congress to use the Federal Communications Commission as a blunt force weapon to shut down speech that religious conservatives find disagreeable.
And I could go on and on like this.

The problem with all of these examples is that Republican leadership constantly avoids leading by the examples that gave reason for the electorate to entrust Republican politicians with positions of leadership for so many years; to cut taxes, reduce the size of government, to emphasize personal responsibility and protect our national security. We cannot continue as a party to expect the American people to entrust us with the confidence and entrust us to lead our ship of state if our party cannot be entrusted to stand up for its first principles.

We cannot identify ourselves as the party of fiscal responsibility if our leadership cannot stand up against earmarks and cannot stand up against wasteful spending. Over a year later, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska continues to obfuscate attempts to reform the earmark process in order to save his "Bridge to Nowhere" that will cost millions of dollars for the purpose of patronage to accomplish little in the national interest.

We cannot identify ourselves as the party of national security if we continually and consistently violate the first principles of our laws and our society by continuing to allow for a nearly unregulated flow of illegal immigrants to cross our southern border.

We cannot identify ourselves as the party of smaller government if leaders wish to use a federal regulatory body to impugn upon the First Amendment rights of those who use our airwaves. We cannot identify ourselves as people who protect free speech by continually attempting to curb it. Nor can we identify ourselves as the party of personal responsibility when we say it is the role of government to mandate what can be said over the airwaves "to protect the children" as opposed to putting that responsibility where it belongs with the parents of these same children.

And it is harder and harder to justify other portions of our party platform without running into hypocrisy. Why does our party say that it is important that the Second Amendment be protected on one hand while simultaneously infringing upon the First.

It is time that our party reject those issues that divide us as conservatives, and unite around those core issues that bring together all wings of the Republican Party. We must bill willing to embrace fiscal responsibility, particularly when it comes to eliminating pork barrel projects. We must be willing to reduce the size of government in order to ensure to contain government only in the areas where it belongs. We must protect our national security, in order to protect us from foreign nations and from the presence of illegal aliens. And we must ensure that we are committed to upholding all of our Constitutional rights.

I fear that Republican leadership has too focused on power and electability to focus on political principles. That is what we must find a way to stop.

We must rediscover the soul of the Republican Party, while we still can...

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Hi....Remember Me?

Yes, I'm returning to the politics and to the internet. Are my problems solved? Absolutely not. When you're dealing with the kind that involve a lawyer and take about a year, they just don't go away overnight.

But let's face it, both the state of Maryland and the national Republican Party are going to hell in a handbasket and I can't help that situation if I am on the sidelines.

I'll have more to say later...but Game On.

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