Let’s get more liberals mad!

This commercial ought to do the trick:

And if you want more hard-hitting truth, this site places it right in the name: Kratovil IS O’Malley!

It sure looks like Martin and Frank are best buds here. This is from the Kratovil newsletter, November 28, 2007.

“Frank is dedicated, tenacious and energetic and he will make a great Congressman.”
Martin O’Malley, MD Governor

Great for raising taxes? Given the backdrop, this picture likely was taken even earlier in the year.

And whatever happened to this approach? This comes from newsletter number 2, December 19, 2007:

“Democratic candidate Frank Kratovil, the State’s Attorney for Queen Anne’s County, said he was focused on promoting a positive, issues-oriented message. ‘Voters want to know how you are different,’ said Kratovil, 39, a first-time candidate for U.S. Congress. For Kratovil, a Democrat running in a moderately conservative district, that means emphasizing his twelve-year-career as a prosecutor.”

Politicker MD
December 11, 2007

(Emphasis mine.)

Hey, when Andy Harris pointed out Frank’s career as a prosecutor, he went whining to his cohorts instead of answering the questions. And Kratovil may have figured even then that the DCCC could be the ones who do the negative ads.

And just days later, where was Frank?

Monday, December 17
Governor Martin O’Malley Reception for Frank Kratovil

And you know how Frank was trying to look a little more moderate? How about this one?

If elected, Kratovil emphasized that he would focus on a number of areas, including helping the United States achieve universal health care, and bringing an end to the war in Iraq.

Politicker MD
December 18, 2007

(Again, emphasis mine.)

Finally, it may be good to bear in mind the following, from another newsletter:

“As Kratovil explained, this is not an Eastern Shore versus Western Shore election because the winner of the election needs to represent the entire district.”

The Avenue News
April 16, 2008

Yet how many of his sycophants think the Eastern Shore needs to be represented by someone who lives there? (Such that he does, when you figure Stevensville is a stone’s throw from the Bay Bridge.) I’m sure all of the counties in the district would like the Congressman to hail from there and the fact is, prior to Wayne Gilchrest, the district was represented by someone on the Western Shore.

And you know those people who want to pit this as an O’Malley vs. Ehrlich tilt and note who won the 2006 election? Just try these numbers on for size, and check out just who won every county in the First Congressional District. I’d take those numbers any day of the week – maybe that’s why Frank Kratovil ran away as fast as he could from Martin O’Malley once the primary was over.

I’ve seen a lot of Democrats in my day – remember where I was born and raised. Frank Kratovil is the same as 95% of the rest. He’ll come campaigning and saying just how centrist he is then go to Washington and vote to tax you more, spend more money, and create lots of work for government bureaucrats. While there’s quite a few Republicans who exhibit a lot of those same traits, I don’t take Andy Harris for one of those because I’ve examined his voting record and he stands on principle, not politics.

Recently I wrote a letter to the Annapolis Capital after they unwisely endorsed Frank Kratovil. I don’t think it ever was published and I’ve given them a week or so to do it, so I’ll go ahead and place it here now.

It appears your October 23rd endorsement of Frank Kratovil for the First Congressional District seat is based on two factors: the happy accident of Mr. Kratovil relocating just a stone’s throw across the Bay Bridge to practice and bide his time before running for political office and, on the other hand, your attribution of “lone wolf” status to Andy Harris for a few selected Maryland Senate votes.

In their debate at Cecil College, Kratovil is quoted as saying about Harris, “What people wanna do is say what people want to hear.” On the contrary, it’s Frank Kratovil who has practiced political expediency from the beginning of his campaign. For one example, once Kratovil secured the Democratic nomination it was clear that the endorsement from Martin O’Malley wouldn’t serve him well in the general election so it was under the bus for the Governor. Joining O’Malley beneath the wheels was any public mention of his party affiliation because he now bills himself as an “independent” – yet Frank’s not independent enough to refuse nearly $2 million of campaign cash from Democrats inside the Beltway.

 Conversely, you describe Harris as, “bright, engaging and knowledgeable about national issues,” but feel Andy wouldn’t be a “consensus-builder.” If building a consensus is about selling out your principles for short-term political gain, then we’re poorly served as a district and as a nation. Andy Harris has consistently shown that he stands for smaller, less intrusive government that leaves more money in the pockets of all citizens, not just those deemed to deserve it because of their income status.

You’ve endorsed a “finger to the wind” politician, I’m supporting a man who has a solid core set of beliefs and will stand up for what is right. The First District needs Andy Harris in Congress.

And I stand by that statement, so I’ll be out on Tuesday (and maybe even before that depending on how my weekend goes) trying to place a REAL Congressman in Washington, not some dimestore phony who will change his positions with the wind (and drop unpopular politicians when it’s politically expedient. By the way, before you say it, President Bush endorsed Wayne Gilchrest in the primary, not Andy Harris.)

On Tuesday or whenever you send in your absentee ballot prior to then, vote for Andy Harris.

By the way, if you folks on the left are mad now, wait ’til you see the subject of my next post.

Odds and ends no. 14

Subtitled, the Election 2008 edition.

While I’m not a “highly influential member of the media” like Rush Limbaugh, I do get quite a bit of e-mail from a number of sources. I’ll always at least glance through them, and if something really interests me enough to do a post I’ll sit down and do one that evening. Obviously a lot of Andy Harris-related material makes that cut because of the impending election. Still others I mark as unread and place in a folder I call “Blog ideas”. Right now that folder is really full and I know that some of these are time-sensitive because they have to do with the campaign. I really could spend my weekend just cranking out posts if I had that kind of time.

By what may be a stroke of good fortune, I have to clear two time slots before Tuesday for possible breaking stuff which I may have confirmed tomorrow; items I feel would be quite attractive for readers. Thus I decided a little bit of closet cleaning was in order, and it was a chance to resurrect a category of sorts I hadn’t utilized since April. This is the stuff I’d love to write about further but there’s only so many hours in the day.

To begin, an article by Doug Bandow at the OpenMarket.org blog touches on something I discussed yesterday, and questions whether the “specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures” which Franklin Roosevelt instituted did anything but extend the Great Depression by another seven years. And I also came across a post on that same website from Hans Bader (who I’ve cited before) that neatly explains Barack Obama’s “spread the wealth” theories.

Speaking of Obama policies, I have Adam Bitely at NetRightNation to hat tip for finding a not-really-all-that-surprising Townhall article by Amanda Carpenter. Did you know that not only is ACORN a group of scofflaws when it comes to registering voters, but a batch of deadbeats when it comes to paying their taxes?

Adam also gets the credit for sending me a link to this from Fred Thompson:

Hey, Fred, where was this during the campaign? I guess he’s a better pitchman for others than for himself.

I hadn’t heard from the folks at Freedom’s Watch in awhile, but this is an excellent video about DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer and his drive for a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate:

It’s worth reminding folks that Schumer’s group was the brains behind the “Bought By Big Oil” website that I compared to being bought by Big Labor a few weeks back.

Why not another video while I’m at it? We all know that Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania has been a critic of the Long War. This week the group Vets For Freedom began buying airtime for an ad that essentially calls him a liar.

His GOP opponent is Lt. Col. (ret.) Bill Russell, a 28 year veteran who most recently served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Naturally the VFF PAC is supporting him, as are many others in the conservative media world.

Vets For Freedom also released their own voting scorecard earlier this month – the topic being war-related Senate votes in 2007. Not surprisingly, John McCain’s 93.5% rating garnered him an “A” for the year while Barack Obama flunked with a score of 0.5. Joe Biden was among three Senators (Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were the others) with a big fat zero. The best of a bad local lot (all F’s) was Delaware’s Tom Carper with a 33 rating, while Barbara Mikulski won the Maryland race against Ben Cardin 29 to 14.

It’s a nice idea, but the VFF report’s one glaring weakness is not covering House votes. We only elect 34 Senators this year but all 435 House members are up and it may have been more helpful to figure their votes out too.

To wrap this up, perhaps an Obama win wouldn’t be all that bad for the GOP. At least that’s what Newt Gingrich says. I know Newt is a history buff and his reasoning is sound, but there’s a big difference in eras I don’t think he’s accounting for. This came from Jeff Quinton at the Inside Charm City site, as Newt appeared two weeks ago on Bob and Kendel Ehrlich’s weekly radio show.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this political potpourri. It took my file down from 36 items to 14 (some of these were discarded), with most of those not being time-sensitive. In truth, most of them are environmental items that can wait – hey, I’ll need something to write about after November 4th.

Just so you know in advance, I’m probably going to slow down my pace just a touch between the election results coming out and the holidays. Normally I shoot for 11 posts a week (2 per day Monday thru Thursday and 1 on Friday through Sunday) but with the slow news cycle I may trim it back to 8 or 9 a week. It gives me a bit of a break, but I also have some heavy research posts planned in there as well. So don’t worry – regardless of result Tuesday I’m not going anywhere!

Andy Harris found a plumber for himself

I have to say it’s a bit stilted, but we all know a workingman like “Jim the Plumber” too:

Surely someone on the other side will shortly figure out who this is and try to smear the guy, just like his more famous counterpart. Personally, I like Andy’s more recent radio ads a lot better.

There’s three I’ve heard recently, but the best two that have stuck with me are the one featuring former Secretary of Agriculture Lewis Riley touting Andy’s farmer-friendliness and a spot describing Andy’s pro-life leanings. (It may have been better if they mentioned Frank Kratovil has the financial support of NARAL Pro-Choice, but you can look that up yourself at the FEC website.)

I knew I left an opening regarding my statement about the company Frank Kratovil keeps; in particular Harris being occasionally seen with some other local blogger and supporter who shall remain nameless but has a site with my adopted hometown and the word “News” in its name. Well, I think I see Andy more than I do that other guy and I’ve also noticed that the site in question isn’t getting all the exclusivity anymore. Look at it this way – Andy has to work with a couple other guys who are under FBI investigation so we can’t always choose our company. Bob Ehrlich and Lewis Riley, though, they’re both stand-up people.

Also, this item makes me question more the company Kratovil keeps, particularly those under his watch:

In March of 2007, Frank Kratovil declined to prosecute Robert Wayne Dwyer on 15 of 17 counts relating to child sexual offenses. Faced with the possibility of a lifetime in jail, Dwyer is now free in the community. (Source: Case No. 0M00014525)

In October 2007, Lawyer Richard M. Karceski became the official representation of Donna Ann Jones who was charged with 14 counts of burglary. Richard Karceski donated to Kratovil’s campaign on 12/4/2007.  In February 2008, the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorneys office dropped 12 of the counts against Donna Ann Jones resulting in her getting a slap on the wrist. Since that time, Richard Karceski has donated again to the Kratovil campaign and Donna Ann Jones has violated her parole. (Source: Case No. 17K07006775, Karceski donation on 12/4/2007 – FEC Reports)

If I were a betting man, I’m sure that some blogger on the Kratovil side is going, “yeah, you cherrypicked two cases out of how many successful prosecutions Kratovil has made!!” Well, that’s no different than cherrypicking a handful of votes out of the thousands Andy Harris has cast and calling them bad for Maryland families (which in my opinion, most of those cited were not) – and Andy’s not responsible for public safety like Frank is. I especially loved that quid pro quo which the Jones case leaves open to question.

Changing subjects, at the moment I’m hanging with the big boys. I was invited to add my two cents to the Ballotpedia website and as the old saying goes, “I seen my chances and I took ’em.” There may be other opportunities in my future to contribute on a national scale so stay tuned. In the meantime, let’s get Andy Harris into Congress!

A second Bill of Rights?

My ears perked up when I heard the name Marcy Kaptur – talk about a blast from the past! I had the profound displeasure of being “represented” by her for 20 years, until the state of Ohio finally redistricted most of Wood County (the southern suburbs of Toledo) out of her district and I could afford to move there.

What she made the news for was a quote from the last line in a Toledo Blade article from way back on the 14th of October:

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D. Toledo) whipped the crowd up before Mr. Obama took the stage yesterday telling them that America needed a Second Bill of Rights guaranteeing all Americans a job, health care, homes, an education, and a fair playing field for business and farmers.

What’s more interesting about this particular article is the letter from Blade publisher John Robinson Block just prior to that campaign stop asking the question of Barack Obama:

Does every American who wants to work have the right to a job where they live?

Block also asks the One:

President Roosevelt called for a “Second Bill of Rights” guaranteeing the right to a job, the right to a decent home, the right to adequate medical care, and the right to a good education. Do you agree?

Roosevelt proposed this in early 1944, just as another re-election campaign was getting cranked up. America had been through the Great Depression, and FDR may have believed Americans would credit his early-term policies for bringing America back; however, we were in the midst of fighting World War II (months later the D-Day invasion would take America’s fight to Europe) and much of the economic activity created was to fuel that war effort – as just one example, domestic new car production all but ceased after the 1941 model year. In any case, the proposals were good rhetoric but deposing the twin empires of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan were job one, with domestic policy taking a back seat. Roosevelt indeed won the 1944 election but died in office a few months later; his successor Harry Truman wasn’t as radically leftist as FDR and these ideas weren’t resurrected again until Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” of the mid-1960’s.

It’s not surprising to me that Marcy Kaptur would be an advocate of the idea too; indeed, she’s among those liberals in Congress who expend little effort in keeping their seat, racking up 70 to 75 percent of the vote every two years over a game but underfunded GOP opponent. With a district now stretching along the southern shore of Lake Erie from Toledo to Lorain, she has a huge base of union voters and volunteers to keep her in office.

Now that you have an idea about the players, I’m going to answer the question for them. No, we don’t need a Second Bill of Rights, particularly when many of the the items in the one we already have are being so blithely ignored by Obama, Kaptur, Robinson, and their ilk in politics and the press. They’re assaulting in particular the First, Second, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments therein.

There is a great difference in attitude and philosophy between having equality of opportunity as we strive for now (remember, the Constitution was enacted to form a “more perfect Union”; the Founding Fathers knew better than to expect perfection on this Earth) and having equality of outcome as those abovementioned and their allies among the Democrats and mainstream media (but I repeat myself) would like to see. Their version of utopia has everyone’s slice of the pie being equal but does little to increase the size of the pie. Conversely, with few exceptions, the lifestyle of average Americans has been more prosperous than that of their forebears under the system we have in place. Even the dirt-poor and homeless of our generation have access to luxuries that were undreamed of even two decades ago. My fear is that progress will cease under a more “progressive” government because the incentives to work hard and better one’s self would eventually disappear.

We on the conservative side joke about the Obama redistribution scheme when it comes to Halloween candy, like in this cartoon by William Warren:

Cartoon by William Warren.

But there is a larger point in asking what right those inside the Beltway who have never met Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public and family can claim to have in taking the wealth they’ve worked hard for and handing it over to someone else who stands there with their hand out waiting for the check to arrive. Generally the situation afflicting the latter arises from poor choices made in life and not because the system held them down. (It’s sort of ironic then that those on the conservative side favor as much choice as possible in education while leftists believe that all school ills can be solved if only more money were shoveled into the public schools. Many times it’s leaving school that places kids on the wrong path in life.)

In about 20 years of living with Miss Kaptur being my representative in Congress, I can’t point to a single thing that she did which impacted my life in a positive way every day. Perhaps she voted on some pork project or bill which helped one aspect of my life, but on a day-to-day basis my family and I basically worked, scrimped, saved, and once in a great while invested in our own future. Did we make poor decisions along the way? You betcha. But we learned and for the most part recovered because we found out which choices were best for us. Moreover, I think my wife and I raised our daughter a lot better than the government ever could; among those values was a work ethic.

What good is a work ethic though if you’ll be penalized for any success you make through a punitive tax system? We already heard Barack Obama’s answer to a similar question posed by Joe Wurzelbacher, but perhaps he, Marcy Kaptur, and John Robinson Block need to answer my corollary one themselves. Just because all of them have managed to do well in life through various means (Obama and Kaptur as public officials, Block as heir to a communications company) doesn’t mean they can slam the door on the rest of us who would like to build up our fortunes. It’s what will likely happen though if they get their way.

Conservatism – “way out there”?

Yes, that’s what our favorite “independent” (who’s taken almost $2 million from his party brass) is saying in his latest commercial, called “Untrue Attacks”:

First of all, he’s not on my side (nor is he “independent”, but I already covered that). And how about the evidence of “untrue attacks”? Just because you say they’re untrue doesn’t necessarily make them so.

Let’s go further. If I heard correctly, Frank has a claim that he “fought for new laws to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.” So what law was it? If it’s the one I’ve heard Kratovil talk about, which is making driving without a license a jailable offense, how do you think it became law? My educated guess is that it made it through the General Assembly with the seal of approval of one State Senator Andy Harris – if not, you can bet that Kratovil would be jumping up and down, yelling about that vote.

Frank also claims to be “for middle-class tax cuts”. Why not just keep in place tax cuts for everyone, the ones President Bush passed in 2001/2003 which face elimination in 2010? I guess Frank would rather “spread the wealth” like Barack Obama, because that sounds a lot like Obama’s plan where 95% of taxpayers get a “tax cut” but in reality only about 60% actually pay taxes. The rest get another government check, just like welfare.

I’ll give Frank credit for one thing: he actually corrected the citation I couldn’t find before. It’s SB335 from 2000. What this bill did was raise the income eligibility level to get the credit slightly, but also capped the amount of credit to the amount one paid in tax, so a refund of excess credit could not be given. Personally I think that if you’re going to have these sorts of behavior-based items, there should be no income cap placed on them. In theory, Frank’s claim is correct but it’s very tenuous at best.

The other claim Frank makes is that Andy “voted against lower college tuition.” Here’s what really happened. SB110 in 2006 was the budget bill, and as is customary in the General Assembly at budget time a lot of horse trading goes on. The Senate’s version of the bill passed its third reading 47-0, obviously with there being 47 Senators Andy voted for it. In that bill was this paragraph:

To add an appropriation on page 115 of the printed bill (first reading file bill), to provide sufficient funding to cover the cost incurred to freeze undergraduate, resident tuition to academic year 2005–2006 levels for University System of Maryland and Morgan State University. The Governor, in consultation with the University System of Maryland and Morgan State University, will develop a schedule for allocating the funding.

This is what Andy voted for. What Frank is deviously leaving out is that the overall bill changed when the House of Delegates revisions were added. This particular portion regarding tuition stayed the same, but other things in the Conference Committee report did not and Harris decided to vote against the bill as a whole, regardless of his agreement with what the Senate had worked out. By that same token, I can call Frank Kratovil a liar because I have a recorded vote in favor of tuition breaks too. Is that the kind of twisting the truth we want in Congress?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend today’s debate but perhaps there’s a good question for Frank to ponder as he slams Harris’s support for privatizing Social Security – would he rather see 401.(k) contributions be socialized like some of his friends and contributors favor? Even moreso, doesn’t it beg the question whether Frank Kratovil would trust you to plan your own retirement?

Now I’ll get to the good commercials. No spin or twisting truth, just a simple pair of messages from Governor Bob Ehrlich. Yes, he appointed Frank Kratovil to some obscure committee but when it comes to Congress Bob’s backing Andy Harris:

I guess the Kratovil strategy is one of a guy who once had momentum but is falling behind after people take a hard look at the company he keeps and say, “you know, these guys are the ones who messed things up in the first place.” Give me the guy who will keep freedom in my hands anytime.

On the question of slots

As my lead into yesterday’s post on Question 1, I noted that I hadn’t discussed the early voting portion of the ballot much. On the other hand, two posts of mine have discussed the slots amendment in some depth as part of my Wicomico County Republican Club meeting coverage. So for faithful readers this is a repeat of sorts, but this gives me an opportunity to place all of my arguments in one post.

Over the last half-decade, several attempts to legalize video slot machines for the purposes of raising money for the state have been made in the General Assembly, but none passed under Governor Ehrlich. Partisan Democrats were determined not to give Ehrlich credit for any legislative accomplishment, thus the bills would die prior to adoption. But things changed once the party affiliation switched at Government House and this proposal to place slots on the ballot as a Constitutional Amendment passed with mostly Democrat support. Instead of the General Assembly doing the job they were elected to do, they punted their responsibility to the voters in an effort to alter Maryland’s Constitution.

The biggest weakness in this approach is its inflexibility. Locations and the number of allowed machines are set in stone unless the General Assembly passes the legislation to send changes back to the voters. If another region besides the five already selected by the state would want to have slots, or the state seeks an increase from the 15,000 machines proposed, they have to return to the voters to amend the Constitution and hope for passage.

On the other hand, the purported 48.5% benefit to education for the proceeds from slots isn’t set and can be changed at any time by the General Assembly. (Never mind that the Education Trust Fund is always subject to change as well.) Other proportions go as follows: 33% to video slot licensees, 7% to horse racing purses, 5.5% to local impact grants, 2.5% to racetrack facilities, 2% to the Maryland Lottery to cover costs, and 1.5%  to the Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Businesses Account. Any of those can change at any time.

It was also revealed by the state that, not only would full financial benefits to the state not arrive until FY2013, but expected revenue from video slots would still not be enough to cover the expected shortfalls in those budget years afterward. Because gambling tends to be a regressive form of taxation, the costs to the state in additional aid for those who can’t help but spend their earnings feeding the one-armed bandits will certainly deduct somewhat from the revenues. Like most other sin taxes, the results will probably fall short of expectations.

If Maryland is going to further its foray into gambling beyond what it already does with horse racing and the various facets of the Maryland Lottery, it shouldn’t be as restrictive as this Constitutional Amendment promises to be. Why not full-fledged casinos featuring sports betting? In this climate, slots are hardly unique and other states with established points of access to wagering are already sweetening their pots to continue drawing Maryland bettors across their state lines.

Let’s make the General Assembly do their job, and perhaps they’ll do it better if they get the message that the voters think our Constitution shouldn’t be trivialized in this manner. Vote NO on Question 2.

WCRC meeting – October 2008

Last month we heard from the anti-slots side, so this month Tom Saquella of the Maryland Retailers Association came to sell his position on the video slot machine Constitutional Amendment, Question 2.

Naturally we had some other business to take care of before we heard from Tom, and that’s what we did. The minutes and Treasurer’s report were quickly taken care of, so we got to hear several reports from the other groups who monthly keep us updated: Central Committee, Young Republicans, Andy Harris’s campaign, and the local McCain-Palin forces.

County chair Dr. John Bartkovich led off by telling us the polls were “meaningless,” giving the example of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election where he trailed in the polls late but ended up winning 49 states. The message was simple: we need to keep fighting and turn out our side. The Young Republicans touted their recent Relay for Life fundraising (over $1,700) and announced they’ll soon be putting together a canned food drive for the holidays.

Mark McIver represented the Harris campaign and revealed some very good new poll results to us, results which showed both Harris and McCain were narrowly leading in the First District by nearly identical margins. We were also getting a positive response from independent voters. It was also made clear that the Democrats had plenty of money to buy campaign commercial time, spending over $100,000 a week to flood the district’s two media markets with anti-Harris diatribes. McIver remarked that “we can’t let the Democrats buy the First District.” While the liberal Democrats in Congress have been helping Frank Kratovil out with fundraising and advice, we’ll have some help of our own from the office of Florida Congressman David Weldon.

Since their message was pretty much the same, all that Bob Laun added on the McCain campaign’s behalf was a reminder of our victory party on November 4th. It was also noted that the excitement hadn’t waned as signs and bumper stickers were still being snapped up from our headquarters as quickly as they arrived.

With the reports dispatched, it was time to hear from our guest. Tom Saquella was representing the group known as For Maryland – For Our Future. He made it clear that he’d been supporting slots since they were first introduced under Governor Ehrlich, but “the General Assembly couldn’t agree” on a proposal during that period, so they decided to place the decision in the hands of the voters. As far as his organization was concerned, Saquella claimed that 85% of their members backed the proposal, noting their assertion that slots would be “good for retailers” and bring jobs and business to the state.

Tom gave us a brief history of the structural deficit which slots were envisioned to assist in rectifying, noting that it stemmed from two decisions: a tax cut enacted in the late 1990’s and the Thornton school funding mechanism, which Saquella explained was passed to avoid a much more costly lawsuit and a judge deciding how much “adequate” funding of schools would be. With the current revenue stream, there was “no way” to fund Thornton – thus we needed Question 2 to pass “more than ever.”  Slots were the third leg of the stool to address the structural deficit after tax increses and spending cuts – however, they couldn’t yet address this year’s deficit that Saquella termed “cyclical.”

While Tom admitted the General Assembly took the “chicken way out” by placing the Constitutional Amendment on the ballot, he pointed out Maryland’s Constitution isn’t as sacred as one might think, using the example of City of Baltimore parking regulations enshrined in the document. And because the voters have to amend the Constitution to make changes, this amendment was “no slippery slope” to extended gambling.

Much of his argument centered on the questions of why we should continue to send money to adjacent states who have slots and what the alternatives would be if the ballot issue failed to pass. For the first question, Saquella claimed that slots would create 5,000 new permanent jobs and add $100 million in disposable income. “The economic pie will get bigger,” Tom argued, also pointing out the potential boost in tourism. There was also the potential of avoiding cuts in local funding should slots pass – in all, this was “taxpayer friendly.”

On the second point of alternative financing if slots fail, Saquella posited that 80 percent of state funding went to education, health care, and public safety – what would you cut? And the argument foes of Question 2 make about social costs was specious, as Tom called them “minor” and cited studies which showed crime and problem gambling were not increased in other locales which already had slots, like Delaware. Taxes and budget cuts have a social cost too, said Saquella.

Most of the questions focused on why the General Assembly couldn’t do its proper job and pass the issue without going to the voters – one comment was that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” referring to Democrats in the General Assembly creating the financial mess but being rewarded with more money to spend. And nothing was set in stone about the funding proportions in the Constitutional Amendment – Tom could only retort when asked about the likelihood that the 48.5% devoted to schools being reduced by the General Assembly at some future date that if education were cut it would surely bring about a lawsuit.

In all, Saquella made some compelling arguments but most of those in the room were already set against the issue for various reasons. Only time will tell whether the voters in Maryland will alter the Constitution some more and bail the state out of making tough decisions.

At the moment we have no speaker set for our next meeting which will be on Monday, November 24. Quite possibly this will be a review session on our election strategy and finalizing any details on the club’s Christmas party later in December.

One man, one vote – keep our system in place

I haven’t brought the issue up a whole lot, but today’s post is going to deal with the Constiutional Amendment our General Assembly placed on the ballot for this election as Question 1. The reason they put the question in front of voters as a Constitutional Amendment was because previously passed legislation was found to run afoul of the Maryland Constitution, Article XVII, Section 2 which states:

(E)lections by qualified voters for State and county officers shall be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday of November, in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-six, and on the same day in every fourth year thereafter.

Undaunted, Democrats in the General Assembly straight away in the 2007 session placed this on the 2008 ballot over the objections of Republicans in the House of Delegates and Senate.

The obvious argument proponents make is that adding days to the election cycle will increase turnout, and point to the 31 states who have adopted early voting. However, the question can be asked whether the turnout increase is large enough to justify the additional cost and volunteers needed to man the polls.

More importantly in Maryland’s case, the Constitutional Amendment as written allows voters to vote in any precinct statewide, regardless of where they reside. This presents a nightmare scenario of provisional ballots being cast by thousands of voters who aren’t familiar to the polling place officials, officials who cannot make the voter present a form of ID to verify their identity and address. Amendments to provide these safeguards were offered by Republicans during the original debate over the bill, but those common-sense provisions to require early votes to be cast in their home county and identification were both defeated by the Democrats in the Senate.

Already in place in Maryland is a system where voters can sit in the comfort of their own home, do whatever research they feel they need to on issues, and can fill out their ballot in a much more leisurely fashion – it’s called an absentee ballot. In Maryland, they’re available for the asking, without restriction except for being a registered voter. It’s a system that has been proven over time to effectively allow those who wish to vote at their convenience to do so. While the absentee ballot system would remain in place regardless of the disposition of Question 1, the potential for fraud and the additional expense for keeping polling places open for up to ten extra days outweighs the small gain in turnout early voting has been shown to provide.

With the number of questions already surrounding the election of 2008 because of voter registration fraud, adopting a system with such potential for mischief is a sure formula for controversy in future elections. Maryland voters can save themselves a peck of trouble by voting NO on Question 1.

Tomorrow in this time slot I’ll discuss Question 2, the referendum on video slot machines in Maryland.

A day in the life of a McCain volunteer

October 26, 2008 · Posted in Campaign 2008 - President, National politics, Politics · 4 Comments 

Last weekend my good friend Maria was in Virginia to attend a rally for John McCain, and yesterday she went up to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to help out in that battleground state. While that wasn’t as photo-friendly of an event as the rally was, she still had some pictures for me and a narrative of her day as well, part of which I’ll use for the post.

I went to the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in DC yesterday to hop on the bus to the PA State Party HQ in Harrisburg for McCain phone banking. I arrived at the RNC approximately 6:15 AM. The RNC was nice enough to serve breakfast to us.

Yes, she took the picture at oh-dark hundred. And I thought you weren't a morning person, Maria.

There were two buses. One was bound for Sterling, Virginia, which is a suburb of Washington D.C. But the majority of the people wanted to go to Harrisburg just get out of DC, for which I cannot blame them. The scenery is a lot better.

Speaking to her afterward, Maria said Harrisburg was a pretty town and I'm inclined to agree, at least based on this photo. Too bad the weather wasn't better.

Maria went on to discuss some of the people she worked with during the day. As you can tell from this picture, it was predominantly younger folks.

Here's some of the help which arrived at the Pennsylvania GOP headquarters in Harrisburg.

One thing Maria remarked about was the fact that a few of these “volunteers” were leaning toward voting for Obama but they were helping the McCain campaign for volunteer hour credit. There’s something wrong with that picture, but it goes to the heart of whether volunteerism should be compulsory.

I’ll say that at least she had a nice room to work in:

Obviously the Pennsylvania GOP isn't completely down on its luck to have such a nicely appointed headquarters. Then again, I've not been to Maryland's to compare the two.

And what did Maria think about her efforts?

I think that McCain will get PA by a very slim margin based on the phone calls that I have made yesterday. However there are quite a few PA voters from the list are still undecided but I think they will vote for McCain. I had quite a few who are supporting Obama. I called voters from the Lancaster/Harrisburg area. The woman from the RNC says that those areas are very Republican friendly. I guess we will find out if that is the case next week.

Here's Maria hard at work, making the phone calls to help John McCain carry Pennsylvania - or so she hopes.

It’s worth noting that all wasn’t nose to the grindstone there, she did get to have a little bit of fun. I never thought John McCain was such a two-dimensional figure though.

Well, now we know where Sarah Palin's running mate is. Someone needs to get our Sarah and their John McCain just to have them both in our area for a change.

As a closing, Maria noted:

I saw this very cool sign – Italian Americans for McCain. I said I must get that sign! I met an Italian American woman yesterday who is very active in the Pennsylvania GOP who said that she will try to get me a sign and send it to my address. I was told that their state GOP is the only one who has that sign…the state has a large Italian American population or so I gathered.

With a last name like Ialacci there's no doubt of Maria's nationality or interest in securing the sign, is there? Notice it was paid for by the state party so it is unique to Pennsylvania.

We were fed Italian Hoagies for lunch from an Italian deli a few blocks away. They were good but bad for my waistline. LOL!

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to do any door knocking because of the downpour of rain. I wanted to do door knocking so I could get more scenic photos but that’s okay.

Anyway, I was glad that I helped our friends in PA. Hopefully PA will be in the win column for us next week.

Well, those of us in Maryland who are going to helplessly watch as the sheeple along the I-95 corridor outvote us sane folks on the Eastern Shore hope so too. I appreciate Maria allowing me to share her thoughts and photos with the rest of you. Campaigning isn’t all glitz and glamour, most of the time it’s doing work like she did yesterday (as did I, out walking my neighborhood in the wind and occasional shower to support Andy Harris.) Helping a politician can be a thankless task – especially if you suffer the heartbreak of falling short on Election Day – but there’s always room for more help when it comes to running a political campaign.

The return of local rock

October 26, 2008 · Posted in Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on The return of local rock 

I’m taking a break from politics for the moment because there’s been some exciting news on the local music front.

After a hiatus of three years or so, the fine folks at 93.5 The Beach (WZBH-FM) are bringing back the “Local Produce” radio show beginning tonight at 9 p.m. (I’ve linked to their Myspace site under “Local music.”) This means that groups who hail from an area spanning the Baltimore/DC/Philly/Norfolk region are finally regaining a regular outlet for their music after the demise of X106.9, the Bishopville station bought out by WYPR-FM in Baltimore and reformatted into a NPR broadcaster. (Ocean 98, WOCM-FM 98.1, does occasionally feature live performances by local bands – like my friends from Semiblind – on their 6 p.m. “Live Lixx” hour, but there’s no set schedule for the program.)

When “Local Produce” left the air, it began a chain reaction of programming changes that soon left local rock without a regular program on the air as competitor 96 Rock also ended their “Local Licks” program shortly thereafter. The slack was picked up for awhile on X106.9 but their other issues eventually forced the station to drop the alternative format featuring local music entirely.

The reborn “Local Produce” also promises to have a little heavier sound than the bands regularly featured on Ocean 98, which tends to feature more acoustic and mainstream rock groups. While I enjoy those performances (especially the plugged ones, as opposed to unplugged) and hope Lesley Bunting continues to schedule frequent appearances by local musicians for the “Live Lixx” show, the new “Local Produce” program will give local hard rock and metal favorites like Hard$ell, Falling From Failure, Goatbag, and others their chance for airplay and promotion too.

So now I have bookends for my Sunday radio listening because I also happen to enjoy and crank up the “House of Hair” program 96 Rock puts on Sunday mornings (in fact I’m listening to it right now.) Both are well worth the time, but with the music business suffering like the remainder of the entertainment industry in these difficult times, it’s this chance to allow bands to develop more of a local following which needs to be supported.

Tough questions for the left (for once)

I have fellow blogger Bob McCarty to thank for this, and it’s definitely something to share with my friends across the line in Delaware who get to see this guy on the ballot twice.

On Thursday, anchorwoman Barbara West of WFTV-TV in Orlando cornered Vice-Presidential nominee and Senator Joe Biden with some great questions regarding ACORN, “spread the wealth”, and Biden’s recent comments about a crisis to test Barack Obama should he be elected. The interview is about 5 minutes long and you can tell that it was all Biden could do to not storm off the set.

Needless to say, this was probably not the best career move for Barbara West, who actually looks like the “bubble-headed bleach blond” for which TV news is famous – those who run the network news outlets certainly won’t take kindly to someone disrespecting their chosen One’s chosen one. Nor would it surprise me if there weren’t a death threat or three in her e-mail from ardent Obama supporters. But you must admit West did her homework and wasn’t content to lob softball questions at a guy who could be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

I tip my hat to Barbara for doing what the drive-by media should be doing for everyone, not just Republicans.

Yes, I crossposted this to That’s Elbert With An E for my Delaware friends.

Now here’s an intriguing idea – don’t tell Martin O’Malley or he’ll have a stroke

October 24, 2008 · Posted in National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Now here’s an intriguing idea – don’t tell Martin O’Malley or he’ll have a stroke 

If the citizens of the Free State really want to play around with our state’s Constitution, give up on that sissy early voting and video slot machines crap and instead give us the power of initiative petition to place items on the ballot. Here’s an intriguing idea from, of all places, Massachusetts – courtesy of the Campaign for Liberty (Ron Paul’s reasonably recent creation). The writers are Carla Howell and Michael Cloud:

We are co-sponsors of Ballot Question 1, the legally-binding ballot measure that will END the Massachusetts state income tax.

Maybe you’ve read articles about our ballot initiative in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, National Review, Reason, CATO Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, or at LewRockwell.com. Or seen us on CNN or Fox News.

Do we really have a reasonable chance to win? Or is this just another fantasy?

Four different polls show us dead even. One poll shows support for ENDing the income tax at 45% — with 45% against. 9% undecided. Two other polls show 45% For and 45% Against – with 10% undecided. One strange poll showed 37% For and 37% Against – with 26% undecided.

This is the second time we’ve put this END the income tax initiative on the ballot. Last time, with a few hundred volunteers – and a total advertising budget of $89,000 – we got 45.3% of the vote. 885,683 votes.

50/50 odds of repealing the state income tax. And a chance of setting in motion a series of state-by-state repeals of income taxes.

Why will Massachusetts voters vote YES – and END the income tax? What are the benefits to them?

  • Our Ballot Initiative will give back over $3,700 each to 3,400,000 Massachusetts workers and taxpayers. $3,700 average. Each worker. Not just once. Every year.
  • It will take $12.6 Billion out of the hands of Massachusetts Big Government – and put it back into the hands of the men and women who earned it. Not just once. Every year.
  • In productive, private hands this $12.6 Billion a year will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Massachusetts.
  • This will force the state legislature to streamline and cut the waste out of the Massachusetts state spending.
  • This will force the state legislature to get rid of the failed, flawed government programs that don’t work – and often make things worse.
  • It’ll make the state legislature accountable to Massachusetts workers and taxpayers – instead of the government employees, lobbyists, and special interests who profit from high government spending.
  • With less government and no income tax, Massachusetts will become a magnet to private, productive businesses and individuals. More good jobs and more good workers.
  • And with 3,400,000 Massachusetts taxpayers getting back an average of $3,700 each in their take home paychecks, this just might radically reduce home foreclosures.

Wouldn’t these huge, immediate, direct benefits get you to the polls on November 4th?

But there’s a huge 900 lb gorilla standing between us and victory.

Who? The Teachers Unions.

Massachusetts Teachers Association, S.E.I.U. (the government employees union), AFL-CIO (who get plush government construction pay), and the other unions who get tax-funded jobs.

Union dues have already bankrolled $2,090,100 of the NO on 1 War Chest. That’s 99.93% of the anti tax-cut funding!

In addition, these unions and their allies also reported $443,437 in in-kind donations.

In addition, these unions have mobilized an estimated $1,200,000 worth of paid and unpaid union activists to stop us from ending the income tax.

Plus, with the Massachusetts Teachers Association driving this effort, the unions and their political allies are generating widespread news coverage of Ballot Question 1.

Over 53 newspaper articles and opinion pieces in just the last 10 days!

The unions are very effective. 100% of the newspaper editorials oppose our Ballot Question 1. Over 96% of opinion columns are against us. Over 83% of the newspaper articles are indisputedly against us. The remaining articles usually lean 50% to 70% against Ending the income tax.

Despite our opponents’ $2,090,100 in union dues dwarfing our fundraising, despite their several thousand paid and unpaid union activists being over 100 times the number of our volunteers, and despite their overwhelming advantage in Newspaper and TV support –

WE ARE STILL DEAD EVEN IN THE POLLS.

Some polls show us and our opponents each at 45% — with 10% undecided. One poll shows us and our opponents each at 37% — with 26% undecided.

With everything they’ve thrown at us, we’re still tied.

With less than three weeks left, we can beat them.

We and our team are doing media interviews, debating our opponents, appearing on talk shows – and we’re reaching more and more of the 3,400,000 Massachusetts workers and taxpayers.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association and their allies have already begun as much as $5,000,000 in Negative Ads and Fear Ads in these last 2 or 3 weeks.

From there, they go on to make a pitch for contributions. But it’s amazing the utter catastrophe that the unions and Big Government predict when people have the opportunity to actually put an end to the income tax.

I’m certain some would read this and say that $3,700 in pocket isn’t that great as a tradeoff for all the services one may lose if the state had to make such cuts. However, my counter to that is that such a move would indeed force the commonwealth of Massachusetts to make some budget sacrifices and get rid of programs which have outlived their usefulness, are duplicative, or just plain exist to line the pockets of favored constituencies. (An example in Maryland is Program Open Space.) Unfortunately, we don’t have the power to place such a measure on the ballot because only the General Assembly can – Lord knows they wouldn’t pass this in a billion years, or at least as long as the Democrats ran the show there.

Obviously this is a drastic measure, one which takes the government there from whatever percentage of income they exact as a toll for working in the state to zero. Naturally those who benefit from the largesse are spending a pretty sizeable chunk of it to sink this measure once again. And reread the passage about the editorial boards and newspaper articles regarding Ballot Question 1. It’s breathtaking the lockstep they’re in – without one dissenting voice among all of them – when the question becomes how much of your money should you keep.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that the polls show the issue is as close as it is when you consider that Massachusetts is the largest state with one party representing it in Congress and Barack Obama enjoys a 24 to 28 point lead in the polls there. (They’re similar to Maryland although we’ve not had a statewide poll in over a month, the last one had Obama up 23.) Obviously it’s not just the GOP who’s frustrated in Massachusetts, Democrats have to be making the polls closer because they make up a hefty proportion of the voting body.

What this shows to me is that there’s not a complete consensus in even the most liberal of states that big government is good for their citizens. Most likely 2008 won’t be the year for this, but our nation is approaching a day of reckoning when people simply revolt over the burden they’re being placed under, particularly those producers who pay more and more to place a ever-growing percentage of people on the government payroll.

Despite the fact Barack Obama couches his tax cut as going to 95% of the people in America, the reality is that about 1/3 of them will simply get an additional government check because they weren’t paying taxes to begin with. In a way, it’s genius because all he’d have to do is just say Republicans will take that check away and instantly most of them unthinkingly will vote Democrat. (Naturally they try the approach with Social Security, and it still works to some extent.)

We’ve reached the point in our nation where people just expect there to be deductions for taxes taken from their check and don’t even bat an eyelash. Perhaps the voters in Massachusetts can be leaders in bringing about the change we REALLY need and reclaiming what is rightfully theirs – that is, if the measure ever gets through the courts without a permanent injunction to prevent its adoption. You can make book that if Ballot Question 1 passes on November 4th, on the morning of November 5th the opponents will go judge-shopping to find a friendly jurist to block it.

But first things first, let’s see if Massachusetts voters are people or sheeple.

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