No shortage of material

If you’re one of the many longtime readers of my website you’ll recall that last summer I did the first of what I’m envisioning as a continuing look at the voting records of those who Free Staters elected to represent them in the General Assembly. That actually covered three different sessions in 2007 and 2008. (The pages are still there, under “internal links”.)

Needless to say, the 2009 session will be no different but I was beginning to worry that I wouldn’t have a lot of votes to discuss and rate based on my platform of fiscal conservatism and having government stay out of our lives as much as it can.

But while there was some noise about the budget – and certainly there will be a fair share of amendments to consider in selecting a reasonable number of votes to ponder – this session has brought a number of doozies in the personal freedom department.

Let’s take for example the ban on texting while driving. First of all, let me say that I understand trying to text and drive at the same time doesn’t work very well. However, what I can’t figure out is how anyone with half a brain can’t come to the same conclusion and just not do it (I’m lucky if I can text while sitting still and I have a QWERTY keyboard on my cell phone.) Nope, we have to have the nanny state of Maryland come in and give the law enforcement officers another reason to stop drivers, even for READING text messages.

Another traffic law some wanted enforced by Big Brother is speeding, as yet another attempt to fatten local and state coffers by installing speed cameras in more areas came under debate. What, the plainclothes SUV cruisers aren’t good enough?

And then we have the environmental do-gooders who are trying to price those of us with septic systems out of house and home by installing nitrogen reduction systems as part of the package. It sounds like a good idea until one works out the financial implications to either the homeowner (if they pay for it) or state (if financial assistance is granted). Eventually I think the goal is to either have everyone piped into a central wastewater treatment plant (at a cost of billions) or make them move to a place which already is, leaving rural areas as wide swaths of green space. Yet the Bay won’t ever be as pristine as the radical environmentalists wish – at least until we’re not around to pollute it.

Besides the budget, the largest controversy in this year’s session seems to be the revised protocol for applying the death penalty. It was a “compromise” measure where none needed to be, making it all but impossible to place someone on death row short of a confession. If a murderer can eliminate the DNA and video evidence that he did the crime, ten thousand eyewitnesses couldn’t get him executed.

Finally, while this didn’t involve a vote, the Department of Legislative Services decided that the cure to its virus and malware ills was to deny legislators access to Facebook and Myspace. Eventually the DLS relented on the Facebook ban but still one has to wonder what other sites could be blocked. Perhaps a site that rates each legislator and in most cases not too kindly may be high on the list.

It’s a good test for those legislators who work there, let’s have a comment on this post. Maybe I should make it a goal to get myself blocked on the basis of content – that is, content the majority doesn’t agree with because I call absolute corruption in pursuit of absolute power as I see it.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

10 thoughts on “No shortage of material”

  1. I generally agree with your take on our General Assembly’s activity, but I take exception to your death penalty comments. I’m in favor of the death penalty in theory. I think some crimes deserve the ultimate punishment. But there is a lot of problem with relying solely on eyewitness identification in criminal trials. Eyewitnesses are unreliable and often contradictory. If the state is going to take someone’s life, it needs to be based on evidence that is far more reliable than simply the word or one or two eyewitnesses.

  2. I don’t disagree, but I saw nothing wrong with the protocol as it was. Certainly I exaggerated the example to make a point but sometimes this has to be done to promote the argument. Remember, the original intention of the General Assembly was to eliminate the deterrent altogether so this “compromise” is at best a Pyrrhic victory.

  3. You’ll have to explain further. If you don’t disagree that eyewitnesses are unreliable and that, if the state is going to put people to death, it should be based on more reliable evidence, why blast the compromise? I think it would have been a bad thing to ban the death penalty but am quite pleased with the compromise they came up with. It improved the death penalty process while still preserving it. How is that a bad thing?

  4. My biggest problem with this compromise is the incrementalism involved. First we eliminate eyewitness testimony. Then someday we’ll have a case where the video evidence isn’t clear enough or is doctored and they’ll take that away, then it will be a case where the DNA evidence is mixed up somehow and that will be called into question.

    The key argument opponents of the death penalty like to use is that it costs more to fight the battles in court than it does to lock the felon up for decades, which I seriously doubt would be the case if the judicial process is streamlined. While I haven’t read the bill in question fully, something tells me that nothing was changed about the lengthy appeals process, just further restricting the nature of the evidence which can be used.

    I really don’t see this as a true compromise because the anti-death penalty side really didn’t give up anything insofar as I know.

  5. If the compromise was a step in the right direction, it should be supported. Barring executions based solely on eyewitness testimony is a very good thing. Yes, the anti-death penalty forces want to go further. So what? This is a good reform. It should be applauded.

    Your view reminds me of many pro-choice people who oppose partial birth abortion bans. These folks will say that partial birth abortion is a gruesom procedure and shouldn’t really be performed, but they don’t support the ban because it’s something that’s desired by pro-life folks. Does that make any sense to you?

    Honestly, the best way to preserve the death penalty as an option is to make sure it’s only used when there is 100% cetainty the person being executed is the right person. This reform helps to accomplish this. The sloppier the application of the death penalty, the more people who will oppose it. You’ve got a lot of people like me who are in favor of the death penalty in theory but who have serious questions about some of the cases of those who are on death row. If you can help to alleviate our concerns that innocent people are on death row then you can blunt the move to eliminate the death penalty. As it is, many of those with my view either already have or are considering opposing the death penalty just to ensure that no innocent person is executed.

  6. Marc, How about we simply call the Death Penalty a Post-Partem Societal Abortion. Would that make it more palatable?

  7. Swamp, do you assume I’m pro-choice? I’m basically pro-life and basically pro-death penalty. I don’t get too worked up on either issue, though.

  8. Marc, You sound as though you’re waffling. My initial remarks however were facetious.I think I know where you stand, I’m not sure if you do however.
    I never concern myself about what the pro-choice crowd, or the anti-death penalty bunch thinks, because they’re almost always wrong.
    I never say that I am basically this, or basically that, because it sounds as though I am trying to qualify myself. I do not compromise myself or go to someone I disagree with my hat in my hand. I’m not begging for understanding, or even that my ideas be understood. I do demand that they be respected.

  9. I’m not waffling — I’m simply stating my position. I hold pro-life views, but I see the problems with banning abortion. I think the death penalty is warranted for some crimes, but I see the problems in its application. That doesn’t mean I don’t know where I stand. In fact, it means I probably know where I stand better than those who dismiss their opponents as being “almost always wrong.” If you can’t see the other side’s argument then you have a very shallow view of an issue. People who disagree with you do so for very good reasons. They see the issue differently than you do and if you are to understand an issue you should be able to see why they believe what they do. You should also acknowledge when they make good points about the weaknesses in your own views. Failing to appreciate criticism leads to a very weak understanding of a subject.

    And the anti-death penalty crowd isn’t “almost always wrong.” It raises good points about the wrongfully convicted and the problems that plague our justice system. If you think prosecutors and judges don’t make mistakes, then you’re living in a dream world. If we are to have the death penalty then we need to make sure that it is applied only to those we are 100% sure committed the crime.

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