Rage against the machine

Nope, sorry, I’m not going to bust out any “Killing in the Name” or “Guerrilla Radio.” Instead, I’m going to focus on dueling releases from the two leading candidates to take on Ben Cardin this fall. Instead of taking swipes at one another, they instead focus on a broken system and a Senator whose lack of leadership is a disgrace to our state.

Dan Bongino isn’t going to be known as the earmark king:

Dan Bongino has called for an end to “legalized bribery” through targeted earmarks.

“Insider dealings amongst elected officials, and local special interests are evolving into a system of legalized bribery. Access to Washington DC elected insiders through a network of lobbyists, and special interest groups is suffocating our economy and drowning out the voices of middle-class Americans. The dangerous and growing feedback loop between campaign finance, access to elected officials and the distribution of hard earned taxpayer dollars to connected insiders, is destroying the integrity of our Constitutional system of government. I pledge to restore leadership and integrity back to the system and, when elected, refuse to take part in any allocation of taxpayer funds without full disclosure to the citizens of Maryland.”

A February 21st investigative report by the Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markay provides compelling evidence showing a disturbing correlation between the allocation of earmarks and the timing of sensitive votes in vulnerable electoral districts. America’s growing frustration with government is largely due to the tacit pacts and elicit agreements which are all too common in status quo politics. If President Obama and the Congress are genuinely interested in reform they would stop talking about “change” and start initiating reforms that implement it.

We’ve already seen a push to implement this sort of reform in the House – last year a Republican Study Committee budget proposal wiped out earmarks, vowing that it “prohibits earmarks and eliminates pork-barrel spending.”

Yet when earmarks are discussed, the conversation is over a fairly small problem in comparison to the overall budget. Where the real game needs to be stopped is in the writing of regulations favorable to special interests, and Congress can do a lot more to rein those regulators in. That’s where the tax dollars are being wasted! While the study Bongino cites showed over $500 million spent on various earmarks – including two locally – it’s still much less than we’ve thrown away on just one failed ‘green’ project (Solyndra), not to mention the cost of regulations overall.

On the other hand, even a boilerplate announcement of new staff gives Rich Douglas a chance to take a swipe at the Democrat:

“Having these professionals on board will supercharge my campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin,” said Douglas. “These battle-tested individuals have the experience and skills that are absolutely essential to end one-party rule in Maryland. Even more essential is that Republicans field a substantive candidate who can go round-for-round with the ultimate political insider and career politician Ben Cardin.”

Formerly a senior lawyer in the U.S. Senate and Iraq war veteran, Douglas knows the fundamentals of complex Senate legislative procedures to help reverse the ineffectiveness of the U.S. Senate.

“I will make Maryland a leader in the Senate, not a blind follower of party orthodoxy, special interests and business-as-usual in Washington,” said Douglas.

By the way, the new staff are campaign manager Rachel Audi and press secretary Jim Pettit. And bear in mind that one of Douglas’s goals was to make Ben Cardin spend his money, so he needs a supercharged campaign.

But it’s great that Rich also reinforces the message: Ben Cardin was first elected to public office in 1966, right after this observer celebrated his second birthday. I have a brother who’s 3 1/2 years younger than I am, so the sad reality is that Cardin has been sucking off the public teat for the entire time he’s been alive, winning election after election based more on the name recognition originally created by his uncle – who retired so that Ben could win his House of Delegates seat – and not necessarily achievement. 46 years in politics? That’s 2/3 of your lifespan – time to retire, bud. (Of course, Democrats have an opportunity to do that before the rest of us.)

Now if I can be assured that the “party orthodoxy” Rich won’t blindly follow is the path of moderation and not that of being a DeMint-style conservative, Douglas may be on to something here.