Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maybe they get it?

I was surprised to read this:
On every other measure, Fairfax residents and businesses pay lower taxes than their counterparts in Montgomery. The biggest gap is in income tax rates, especially at the top. We do not have the comparative tax burden between the two counties, but on the state level Maryland (ranked 4th in the nation by the Tax Foundation) far exceeds Virginia (ranked 18th). There is no way that Montgomery County, a high-tax county in a high-tax state, can compete with Fairfax on the basis of low taxes.
Emphasis mine, but isn't this something that Maryland Republicans have been saying about Maryland vis-a-vis Virginia for some time now, even before Martin O'Malley's historic and immoral tax increases?

Maybe, just maybe, Maryland's liberal class is finally starting to understand the damage done by high, confiscatory taxation.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seeing the Light

Who is surprised to read this:
"...the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel has failed to live up to rosy predictions made in more robust times. The 757-room hotel, a block north of Camden Yards, has fallen short in a key measure of a hotel's performance - revenue earned per room. And city officials are less certain the hotel will turn a profit in the three- to five-year time frame originally projected."
- Baltimore Sun, 8/22/2009
If there were only somebody who saw that this was going to happen.....oh, yeah:
This in a city that continually runs deficits in its school system. A city where the crime rate remains one of the highest in the country. A city where drug dealers rule many streets. To spend that amount of money on a business venture is nearly criminally absurd.

What makes it more absurd is the failure of other publicly financed projects of similar magnitude in other major cities. As the Sun cites, similar projects in Myrtle Beach, St. Louis, and Sacramento have been built at tremendous costs to the taxpayers, but without the expected benefits in bookings and revenues the city expended. And on top of those projects, the Rocky Gap resort in Garrett County and our very own Compass Pointe Golf Course are local publicly financed projects that have run in the red since their conception.

- Brian Griffiths, 8/10/2005

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maryland Democrats catch the Stupids

We rail a lot about Maryland Democrats and their poor decision making, but nothing could possibly have prepared us for the nonstop festival of stupidity and lack of judgment that we have seen from Maryland's Democratic elite in the past week.

First, it all started off with the now infamous marriage proposal of Delegate Jon Cardin, who of course had to invoke the use of the police to propose to his wife in one of the most dangerous, crime ridden cities in America. While this stupid misuse of police resources is obvious to everybody, apparently Cardin's proposal was a hit with Democratic legislative buddies at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) Conference in Ocean City last weekend. More curiously the House Ethics Committee, which of spent untold millions investigating Governor Bob Ehrlich's legal hiring and firing of at-will employees, has decided to punt on doing an investigation of this actual ethically challenged decision.

Speaking of MACO, then we come to the first Facebook fiasco of the week. First reported by Adam Pagnucco were the pictures posted from MACO of Governor Martin O'Maley and Mayor Sheila Dixon and other Democratic pols hamming it up down in Ocean City. The pics were posted by Jeremy Rosendale who works in the Governor's office. I know Jeremy, and Jeremy is a good guy, but this was just a bad choice in posting these pictures to Facebook for the entire world to see. But that really isn't biggest issue here; the issue is that elected officials, despite assurances to the contrary, decided to go down to OC and partake in the usual debauchery that happens every year during the MACO conference. And it was because of that debauchery and the presence of these photos that the story really, really blew up.

And while we are talking about special Facebook moments, that brings us to Democratic Delegate Saqib Ali. Ali's Facebook status updates have been interesting insofar as that in the span of three days he called opponents of Obamcare terrorists, and followed that up with a really stupid and offensive joke about Glenn Beck's grandmother.

On top of that, apparently Sun reporter Michael Dresser seems to think Ali's offensive comment is funny.

What has gotten into Maryland Democrats that has made them lose even more of their common sense? While thes transgressions are little more than blips on the political radar, they are more indicative of a dangerous arrogance seen in Maryland Democrats. These Democrats seem to think that they can do no wrong, that they are above reproach, and that nothing can stop them from doing or saying whatever they want, regardless of the ethics or the consequences of the situation. It is a key character trait from people who believe that they are entitled to lead in a single-party state.

It's just a sad, sad state of affairs that elected officials believe that this kind of behavior is acceptable (and, apparently, approved by Baltimore Sun reporters).

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Riddle me This

Senator Ben Cardin has had his well publicized town hall meetings. So did Congressman Frank Kratovil. Congressman John Sarbanes, not having the guts to hold a town hall in person, decided to have a telephone town hall. Sure, it's a chicken move, but at least we know where he stands on citizen input. And Senator Barabara Mikulski is laid up with a bum ankle. So just about all of the federal officials who represent Anne Arundel County are accounted for on the issue of town halls.

But where or where is Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger? What is Ruppersberger's stance on Obamacare? More importantly, what is his stance on holding town hall meetings to get the input of his constituents on this important matter, and why to date has he not held any town hall meetings?

Inquiring minds want to know, Congressman.

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Comic Relief

As part of Governor O'Malley's plan to pretend to listen to budget suggestions from Marylanders, his staff put forth some of the more commonly suggested ideas from the citizens and provided a response on the web. What's comical here is not the idea of becoming a "shall issue" state for concealed weapons, it was the completely bogus response:
Permits for the carrying of handguns are regularly issued to Marylanders who meet statutory requirements established by the Maryland General Assembly.
Regularly? That's probably news to the thousands of Marylanders who live or work in some of America's most dangerous urban areas and want to be able to protect their person, their familiy, or their property....

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Contract Matters

You might have seen this story today regarding State GOP Chairman Jim Pelura's push to create a "Contract with Maryland." Amazingly, this actually create a large problem for the State Party. And I'm not even talking about the fact that Pelura is trying to dictate the legislative agendas of Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman and House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell.

See, the story here is the fact that Pelura has appointed yet another committee to try and develop party policy. Which would be novel if it wasn't for the fact that Pelura has done this multiple times now. Including the appointment of Charles County GOP Chairman Charles Lollar to the much ballyhooed tax commission.

Lollar spoke at the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee meeting, and the gist of his speech was that the tax commission was basically put officially hold, and that the Lollar Commission decided to move forth and continue meeting and to present its recommendations independently of the state party apparatus. That is what led to the creation of Concerned Citizens for a Better Maryland. And that outfit last week released its......Contract with Maryland.

So, to recap, Jim Pelura is creating a commission to recreate the work done by a former Pelura-created commission that was cast adrift. And both commissions are at odds with legislative leadership over who should be crafting the party's agenda. The State GOP will have two competing, conservative Contracts with Maryland.

I'm so glad that the party is getting its act together.

Maybe the creation of a new committee is not the best idea we can come up with right now. And frankly given the bottom line of our bank accounts these days, shouldn't the state party apparatus take the time to create a finance committee to raise some money for the state party to get us out of this fiscal black hole the party finds itself in?

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What's our Plan?

You wouldn't necessarily expect the CEO of Whole Foods, possibly the official store of the crunchy granola left, would come out and provide us with a template for a common sense, free market approach to health care reform that makes far, far more sense than the socialized medicine seen in Obama care. But John Mackey does that in the Wall Street Journal with a plan that emphasizes basic ideas such as tax fairness on health plan, removal of barriers for buying coverage across state lines (one of my pet peeves), tort reform, Medicare reform, and cost transparency. It its one of the more articulate alternative solutions that have been put forth recently.

And I think that's one of the more frustrating things for me recently. Certainly, the protests that we have seen pop up against Obamacare and the Democrats attempt at destroying free market health care are a positive sign, and the fact that public support for Obamacare has dropped 21 percent in the past four weeks is a positive sign that the public is getting the message on this regard.

But what alternatives are we as conservatives and Republicans presenting to the American public? Both left and right agree that the current health care system in this country is in major need of reformation. And mainstream Americans agree that the helath plan put forth by Obama and Congressional Democrats is risky, dangerous, and unwise.

So why is our side not offering more alternatives?

There are times when it is proper to stand back and say "no." But conservatives have an opportunity here to present a conservative vision of health care reform in this country. But seem to be more concerned saying no than we are with providing an alternative. Since liberal Democrats tend to be the party of emotion and conservative Republicans tend to be the party of ideas, we are missing an opportunity in this health care debate not only to position ourselves better to win elections in 2010, but an opportunity to build a broad coalition across party lines on major conservative principles that appeal to the majority of American citizens. The ball is on the tee for us, but it doesn't seem like we are ready to

Not a sermon, just a thought....

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

C'mon Democrats, I'm begging you

This might be one of the all time most amazing stories I have ever read about dumb ideas from Democrats in Annapolis:
Annapolis is girding for a debate on taxes as the traditional election season stance of "no new taxes" is being worn down by seemingly endless bouts of state budget-cutting.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has slashed spending as tax revenues have fallen and plans to announce about $470 million in further reductions this month. That has prompted some Maryland lawmakers and special-interest groups to suggest looking at the other side of the ledger to get more revenue flowing into state coffers.
Read the whole thing, but liberals are proposing a whole slew of new taxes include even more taxes on business, charging sales tax on all internet purchases, and the idea of combined reporting, an accounting trick that will force more business to pay new taxes.

To their credit, Mike Miller and Mike Busch are both saying that there will be no attempts to increase taxes......for now. But I am begging legislative Democrats and their interest group friends to hop on board this train and see where it takes them. Citizens across Maryland are already fed up with overregulation, overspending, and overtaxation here in our state. We have already seen what out of control taxation and spending have done to Maryland's economy and the economic well being of Maryland's middle and working class families. And we already know that liberal Democrats in Annapolis are naive enough to believe that the people of this state will stand for more of the same failed economic policies from Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly.

To make a long story short, if the Democrats find a way to move forward with a proposed tax increase in an election year, Republicans will pick up a considerable number of seats in the General Assembly and have a realistic shot of ensuring a Republican gets elected Governor next year.

So Democrats, I'm begging you to make one more dumb mistake. Try raising taxes and see what happens at the ballot box in 2010.......

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Golden Oldie

I was just perusing the archives here and found this interesting little reminder about Democratic efforts last year (and I'm looking at you, FSP) to astroturf support of socialized health care about one year ago to the day.

Just a reminder as to who is astroturfing whom these days...

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cameras Present, but Victims Dead

I have made the point before about how police surveillance cameras are not deterrents to crime, so this story touched a nerve for me this morning:
Baltimore's expansive police surveillance network has led to a homicide arrest, after a downtown stabbing was captured in real-time by city cameras.

In another case, police arrested a suspect in a fatal shooting after a home surveillance system captured a confrontation on a block where a man was gunned down.

Authorities monitoring the city's blue-light CitiWatch cameras observed an altercation at about 1:40 a.m. Saturday in the 300 block of N. Paca St. and officers who responded to the scene found 18-year-old David Reese suffering from a stab wound to the chest, according to charging documents. Using the cameras, officials tracked the apparent assailant running through a parking lot, and cameras recorded his capture and arrest by police.
That's wonderful, but the victims still died. A lot of the people who trumpet the use of surveillance cameras and the expansion of the nannystate like to sell these cameras on the concept that they prevent crimes from occurring. Well, in a city as relatively lawless in Baltimore, that is never going to happen, and this pretty much proves it.

And this quote really pisses me off:
"Baltimore is using cameras in a way that a lot of other jurisdictions are not, by using them pro-actively, especially in the downtown areas where they have monitors watching cameras almost 24-7," said Nancy La Vigne, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. "It's not just a technology that sits."
And what way is that exactly? How is it being "pro-active" to use these cameras to capture crimes on video, and then deal with the repercussions after the fact as the officers would do in any normal circumstances? It's not like the camera is shooting lasers at criminals to actively stop them from doing anything; it is just a passive box that records what is going on around it. A technology that, in fact, just sits there.

When are people going to realize that police cameras are nothing more than a sham? And when are police departments and lawmakers going to stand up and direct resources to more useful crime fighting techniques than surveillance that general only captures the actions of law-abiding citizens?

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Monday, August 03, 2009


If you haven't noticed, a new an essentially anonymous blog called Maryland Politics Blog has been peddling a story about Queen Anne's County Central Committee Member Andrew Langer and his involvement in Pelurapalooza. The new blog, however, has refused to reprint Langer's response to his alleged involvement in this story. So Andrew asked me to post the response publicly, and here it is, unabridged and unalderated:
From: Andrew Langer
Subject: Re: 15 west st post
To: "Maryland Politics Blog" <marylandpoliticsblog@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 11:33 AM

Dear Sir or Madam:

While it is gratifying to know that my name is generating hits for your website, it is unfortunate that a story so riddled with errors is responsible for them.

I don't know who you are. I don't know your motivations for making such allegations. I can't verify your sources in any way, shape, or form.

What I do know is this. I am not 15WestSt@gmail.com. As was pointed out by someone else, I wasn't even IN the meeting at issue (I was kicked out when the meeting went into executive session).

The e-mail doesn't match my writing style. Please take a look at my blog: http://langrrr.blogspot.com. In it, you'll see a host of examples of how I write. This e-mail you discuss contains no em-dashes, no en-dashes, there's no comma in the first sentence (I'm big on commas). The piece isn't nearly as wordy as I'm prone to writing. It's also not in my writing cadence (yes, I have one).

It's this last point that is most important - you might be thinking that I'd try to mask my writing style. Were I someone who was inclined to write under a pseudonym (more on this in a moment), masking one's writing cadence (which is more about rhythm than style) is incredibly difficult to do. A number of anonymous authors have been unmasked through such analyses.

As for writing under pseudonyms or anonymously, it's not something I do - and I've written about my philosophy of this:


"One of the things I look askance at is anonymous or pseudonymous criticism. Now, I know that one of the hallmarks of a free society is the ability of someone to criticize someone else from behind the mask of anonymity. But it always seems that the most ill-thought, most base, bad-intentioned, insulting, and untrue critiques come from those writing anonymously or pseudonymously.

"When I used to write on Usenet, I developed a fan base, as I’ve mentioned (and I use that term facetiously. I do not mean that these people were actual fans of mine). Some of my “fans” indeed did use their real names, but several of them wrote under pseudonyms. More often than not, these pseudonymous posters fell into that category of writing base, insulting, non-germane, and outrageously untrue things."
---end quoted material---

I stand by the things that I write--and do so by attaching my name to them.

What's more, having had friends who have been dinged by this in the press, I have a maxim I stand behind: never put anything in e-mail that you wouldn't want seen in the pages of the Washington Post.

Now, I am, as a rule, incredibly cautious about with whom I place my total political trust--who I give counsel to, who I offer my political analyses to. An e-mail like this, from me, makes no sense.

As to your allegations regarding my motives:

1) That I have, "long been a Pelura supporter, not necessarily because he thinks Jim is doing a good job, but because he sees his own influence directly attached to Jim remaining in office."

On what basis do you make either assertion? Conversations with unnamed individuals? I find it hilarious that one anonymous blogger can claim something based upon conversations which may or may not have occurred.

I don't know what "influence" you think I have. I was honored, and completely surprised, that Jim Pelura appointed me Chairman of this commission. But he did so not because of any fealty that I may have demonstrated to him, but to my professional background and my conduct as an activist within the party.

Understand this--I approach the work as a party official professionally, as I have been taught to do by some tremendous mentors (part and parcel of this is not spreading around anonymous e-mails, for instance). This means dealing with issues seriously, thinking strategically about the party's current status and its future, and approaching the business of the party in a goal-oriented manner.

That this approach has gained me allies across the political spectrum within the party is a testament not to me, but to the wisdom of my teachers. Their lessons have worked - not my ambitions (more on this in a moment).

2) "Mr. Langer views Chris Cavey and Chuck Gast as threats to his own future goals. "

I do? Please enlighten me as to what these future goals are--and just how either Chuck or Chris are threats to them!

If you're going to do serious political journalism, then you might consider actually asking the subject of your story to comment on the allegations you are prepared to make.

This, to me, was the most insulting of the allegations that you were going to make. I don't view people as "threats" - and not out of some arrogant self-image. I view people as allies - and I count Chris Cavey and Chuck Gast among them. They are two party activists who have demonstrated a desire to work hard towards party victory, the greatest determinant of people you can "count on" (an important trait in my book)

People who can't be counted on aren't threats. They're simply unreliable.

Now, there are people who stand opposed to what you might believe in. But they're not "threats" either. They are people with whom you work to try and find common ground (as another mentor of mine taught me, people with whom you are in agreement on 80% of the issues aren't 20% your enemy).

Chris, Chuck, and I share a common goal - party victory. And I don't see either of them as threats to that. If you're talking about something more specific, do elucidate me: Party chairman? Senior officership? Again, I don't see any conflict among the three of us which would give rise to a "threat".

3) "Why would he attack Mike Pappas in the email, well at that time it was thought that Charles Lollar and Mike Pappas would be battling in the 2010 gubernatorial primary."

Considering that I knew on that Saturday morning that Charles wouldn't be running for Governor in 2010, this defies reality.

The reality is that I like and respect Mike Pappas greatly--and, in point of fact, had a conversation with him about his race for Governor just after that

And again, I don't view people as "threats" - Mike Pappas may have been a potential opponent, but he wasn't a "threat". That's a shade of politics that I simply don't play - if you're going to learn anything about me, it's that I don't practice the politics of personal destruction when it comes to inter-party races. I believe it leaves the party damaged. It's counsel I've given time and time again to candidates - part and parcel of my "judo school" of politics beliefs.

If Charles had run for Governor, we would have focused on Martin O'Malley, not Mike Pappas. At the end of the day, especially in such a short window between primary and general election, alienating your opponent and your opponent's supporters is the surest way towards defeat (cf. Maryland's 1st CD, 2008)

That's why I'm concerned. It's not just that I don't write anonymous e-mails. It's not just that the 15WestSt e-mail is so poorly written as to make such an allegation an insult to my writing abiliy. It's that you presume to look into my motivations as a party activist, and because you don't know me at all, you have no idea as to the reality of who I am. And you therefore leave people with this complete misimpression of me.

Who are you do to that? And you don't even have the courtesy to contact me before making such allegations? I mean, you claim to have contacted a number of people who "confirmed" your story, but you didn't even have the wherewithal to contact me, even for a denial?

As I said, as gratifying as it is to know that I can generate hits for your site, it's really too bad that the story couldn't have been more accurate. Or accurate at all.


Andrew Langer

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