Of course, it’s not with the Democrats.
This was supposed to happen several weeks ago during session, but cooler heads prevailed and pushed the vote back to last night. All it did, though, was delay the inevitable and this time Delegate Nic Kipke won. Instead of Delegate Michael Smigiel as second-in-command, though, the new Minority Whip will be Delegate Kathy Szeliga. They replace the old leadership team of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, which had held their respective Minority Leader and Minority Whip positions since 2007 and 2011, respectively.
And like Delegate Ron George’s announcement last night, it seems like the center is striking back. With O’Donnell being fairly conservative in philosophy – at least as evidenced by his voting record – Kipke leaves a lot of room for improvement; in fact, for as much grief as I gave Delegate George for his choices, Kipke’s have been even worse every year since I started the mAP in 2007, and for many of the same reasons. Yet when I hear Mike Busch saying “Tony did a good job of providing the loyal opposition,” I wonder if the change wasn’t needed.
On that note, Kipke is pledging to work with center-right groups like Americans for Prosperity, Change Maryland, and the central committees to “coordinate the GOP’s push for support.” We won’t find out if this bears fruit, though, until next January.
At that point Nic may have to be the circus master as Delegates eyeing new districts or higher office add their political calculations to the already volatile mix of session business.
Late last month the Americans for Prosperity Foundation – Maryland, along with the Sage Policy Group, released a study claiming that possibly over 1,000 jobs could be lost in Maryland if the gasoline tax is increased via either the adoption of a 3% or 6% sales tax on the product – in other words, expanding an already-existing tax to cover a product previously exempt from that avenue of taxation – or simply adding a dime per gallon to the current state tax burden of 23.5 cents per gallon.
Before I begin my take on this, though, it’s helpful to know the players. We all know AFP tends to be a group which favors low taxation and limited government; they have graced this website many times before with their message. I had never heard of the Sage Policy Group prior to this study, though, so I looked them up. It seems like a small, one-horse operation but their clientele is varied and they appear relatively apolitical. I would have to say, though, this isn’t the most in-depth study I’ve ever read – to me it’s almost like a paint-by-numbers job based on the description of the software used. (Then again, the experience to interpret the numbers has some value.)
The obvious weakness of the study, plainly stated within, is that it’s not an attempt at a cost-benefit analysis. Obviously the state would be able to derive some benefit to having a Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) stocked with more cash to do the needed repairs and construction on state transportation infrastructure, but the question on the mind of most is whether they trust a greedy governor and compliant legislators to keep their hands out of the till. We probably wouldn’t be having this discussion if our last two governors hadn’t “borrowed” over $1 billion from the TTF “pot of gold” to keep the budget in balance, rather than bearing the blame for unpopular spending cuts or more new taxes; not that the latter stopped Martin O’Malley.
Yet it’s all but inevitable the tax will be increased; after all, the Democrats have the votes and the respective ribbon-cuttings on projects would likely be timed in the few months before they face voters. Surely, they will argue, a dime or two a gallon – most of these schemes would work out to ten to twenty cents a gallon, depending on gasoline price – is a small price to pay for fixing Maryland’s roads and bringing O’Malley’s dream of expanded light rail to fruition. And perhaps it would be, if the former assumption on usage was true.
But a study by the Department of Legislative Services shows that spending on transit takes up almost half of TTF funding, up from about 1/3 twenty years ago; meanwhile, the highway construction share has declined by about the same amount, to less than a quarter per dollar spent. The drop has been most precipitous during Martin O’Malley’s tenure. Given those facts and O’Malley’s stated wish list of new mass transit projects, it’s likely that the best we can hope for would be to get back to pre-O’Malley levels of spending on highway needs if the gas tax were increased.
The Sage Policy study, though, also estimates the number of jobs lost due to the tax hike. Obviously, though, there would be some jobs gained as a number of construction projects are funded. Someone has to pave the roads, design the bridges, and provide the materials necessary for working on infrastructure. While the Sage study couches in some fashion the job losses based on a theory that money taken out of the private-sector economy results in job losses, there are legitimate needs the public sector pays for and roads are among them – hopefully to provide a net gain.
Simply put, if you figure the $4 a week lost by an average family due to this tax is computed as one latte, sure, if everyone stops buying as many lattes it will eventually result in the coffee shop laying off workers or even closing, but the construction business next door may be able to hire laborers with a higher skill level and wage thanks to the new highway projects being built. It’s a tradeoff, and we all know that a robust highway network facilitates the efficient movement of people and goods. On the other hand, light rail projects don’t contribute in the same way and generally require subsidies from the state to remain in operation. Fewer jobs are created with that spending – yet that’s my suspicion as to the real purpose of this proposed gas tax hike.
I believe Marylanders would be less reluctant to pay a gas tax increase which amounts to something no worse than an average “sticker shock” gas price jump where the cost goes up 20 cents a gallon overnight if they had confidence the money would be spent wisely and not just tossed into the void of the state’s General Fund or spent on mass transit boondoggles. Yet if we returned mass transit to its traditional level of spending we might be able to get back to fixing roads without the need to increase the gasoline tax. That seems like the logical step here before we vacuum more money from the pockets of those Marylanders who still are among the working.
As I often do, here’s a collection of little items which grow to become one BIG item. And I have a LOT of them – so read fast.
For example, I learned the other day that Richard Rothschild, who spoke so passionately about private property rights (and the Constitution in general) will be back in our area Saturday, March 2nd as the speaker for Dorchester County’s Lincoln Day Dinner. That’s being held at the Elks Lodge outside Cambridge beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets, which are just $30, are available through the county party.
While Rothschild is the featured speaker, you shouldn’t miss some of the others scheduled to grace the podium, particularly gubernatorial candidates Charles Lollar and Blaine Young as well as Congressman Andy Harris. For a small county like Dorchester, that’s quite a lineup!
The controversy over the Septic Bill is far from the only item liberty-minded Marylanders have to worry about. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been bombarded with notices over a number of issues.
For example, after what State Senator E.J. Pipkin termed as a “structural failure” regarding hearing testimony on Senate Bill 281 (the gun-grabber bill) he offered an amendment to the Senate rules to handle these cases. However, I could not find a follow-up to that bill.
What I could find, though, was Pipkin’s statement that the state was making citizens into criminals, stating “The penalties embedded within the Governor’s Gun Control bill are extreme; they would criminalize paperwork errors in ways that destroy careers, lives, and families.” And he’s absolutely correct.
“This bill does not address the issue of gun violence in Maryland. The real issue is illegal firearms in Maryland, something the Governor’s bill does not target,” Pipkin concluded.
But guns aren’t the only problem. Unfortunately, we are one step closer to an offshore wind boondoggle in Maryland despite the best efforts of those who deal in the realm of reality to stop it. One bastion of sanity in Maryland is Change Maryland, whose Chair Larry Hogan expressed the following regarding offshore wind:
It seems Martin O’Malley’s priority is to make electricity and gas more expensive. He is pushing an increase in the gas tax and pushing a wind energy policy that is not cost effective and guarantees that electricity will be more expensive for rate payers.
At the close of the last session, the governor ignored the budgeting process which resulted in a train wreck. Instead he was out on the steps of the capital, leading wind energy activists in chant that said ‘all we re saying is give wind a chance.’
There are no assurances that this offshore wind proposal will not devolve into crony-capitalism that reward friends of the governor and political donors.
Actually, Hogan slightly misses the point because true capitalism would occur when the market continues to shun the expense and non-reliability of offshore wind. I guarantee that if this project goes through it will cost those of us who use electricity in Maryland a LOT more than $1.50 a month – subsidies can always change, just like tax rates on casinos.
The aforementioned Pipkin also weighed in on offshore wind:
This legislation may represent a shift in how private business is done in and regulated by the state.
This bill requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to weigh new criteria in approving private development contracts to build off-shore wind turbines. The Commission will now consider prevailing wage and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) participation as criteria in its contract award.
This could set new precedent. In the future, we could see every business now regulated by a state agency subject to prevailing wage and MBE requirements.
You think? Our Big Labor-friendly governor stops at nothing – nothing – to grease the skids for his union cronies. And surely this will extend to whatever road work is performed once the gas tax is increased by O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats. Wait, did I say road work? Hogan and Change Maryland question that assumption, too:
Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan backed transportation reform which has emerged as a key issue this legislative session after several years of being relegated to the back burner. Specifically, key members of the Maryland House of Delegates are advocating guiding principles to ensure much-needed investments are made in infrastructure and fundamental reforms made to transportation policy.
“Previous attempts to improve our transportation network in Maryland have been an abject failure. Our top elected officials are saying roads and bridges are crumbling, but what they won’t tell you is they are the ones who caused the problem in the first place,” said Hogan. ”Another myth that is being foisted upon us is that there is an urgent need to raise the gasoline tax, and that is simply not true.”
Hogan joins Del. Susan Krebs and other House members in instilling common-sense policy solutions to making transportation policy. These include protecting the transportation trust fund with a constitutional amendment, realigning infrastructure investments to reflect how Marylanders actually travel and restoring funds for transportation. (Emphasis mine.)
I highlighted the above phrase as a way to say, “bingo!” That, folks, is the problem in a nutshell.
This is a state which jacked up the tolls on the Bay Bridge to create a cash cow for other projects which don’t pay their own way, like the Inter-County Connector outside Washington. O’Malley’s gas tax is really intended to build rail lines most of us will never ride rather than build projects we could use, like perhaps a limited-access Easton bypass for U.S. 50, widening Maryland Route 90 into Ocean City, or building an interchange at the dangerous U.S. 113 – Maryland Route 12 intersection in Worcester County.
The gas tax proposal has led to acrimony in Annapolis, as Delegate Kathy Szeliga points out:
(Senate President Mike) Miller called House Republicans who oppose his gas tax proposal, “Neanderthals,” and “obstructionists.” In response to his comments, Delegate Szeliga tweeted, “Yabba-dabba-do, Mr. Miller,” further commenting that she hopes to obstruct and stop this massive 70% increase in the gas tax and government expansion. In response to Senator Miller’s jabs at Republicans, Delegate Herb McMillan added, “Even a caveman can see that it’s stupid to raise gas taxes when there’s no guarantee they’ll be used for roads.”
Kidding aside, you can call me a “total obstructionist” as well, Senator Miller. On the road to serfdom someone has to stand in the way, and I’m one of those someones.
Notice that I haven’t even talked about the federal government yet. One sure sign of a new year, though, is the ubiquitous Congressional scorecard. Two organizations which have released theirs recently are Americans for Prosperity and Heritage Action for America.
Not surprisingly, Harris scored a 95% grade from AFP, leading the Maryland delegation – former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett had the second highest grade at 91%. As for the rest, well, their COMBINED score was 50 percent. Heritage Action, however, graded Andy more harshly with an 81% grade (Bartlett scored 67%.) Once again, the remainder of Maryland’s delegation scored anywhere from a lackluster 17% to a pathetic 4 percent.
We’re also talking about immigration reform more these days. I happen to lean somewhat on the hawkish side, so I believe these reports from the Center for Immigration Studies are worth discussing. In one, former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia looks at what happened the last time we went down this road insofar as collecting back taxes from illegal aliens – a key part of the compromise provision – was handled after the 1986 reform.
The second CIS report looks at recommendations the bipartisan Jordan Commission made in 1997, after the 1986 immigration amnesty program failed. This middle ground made five recommendations:
- Integrate the immigrants now in the United States more thoroughly;
- Reduce the total number of legal immigrants to about 550,000 a year;
- Rationalize the nonimmigrant visa programs and regulate them;
- Enforce the immigration law vigorously with no further amnesties; and
- Re-organize the management of the immigration processes within the government.
That seems like a pretty good starting point to work from, particularly the first recommendation.
Another study worth reading is this one from Competitive Enterprise Institute called “The Wages of Sin Taxes.” In it, author Chris Snowden takes an unflinching look at who really pays for these tolls. As CEI states in their summary:
Most remarkably, Snowdon, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, demonstrates that financial burden supposedly placed on society through the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, high-calorie foods, has little basis in reality. The myth that these “sinners” cost the rest of us money is perpetuated in large part because “government has no incentive to tell the public that these groups are being exploited, and the affected industries dare not advertise the savings that come from lives being cut short by excessive use of their products.” This type of tax is actually a regressive “stealth tax” that allows lawmakers to take money from their constituents with the lowest incomes without the pushback an upfront tax would provoke.
I would put that in the category of “duh.” Ask yourself: how much state-sanctioned money and effort do you see given by government to prevent drinking, smoking, and gambling? Yet they rake their cut off the top in each of these three vices, which are only legal because government and society have compromised on these issues.
On the other hand, those who grow or smoke marijuana or do other illegal drugs are considered criminals and tossed in jail or fined. The same is true with prostitutes in most locales. If there were tax money to be made, though, and societal mores shifted ever-so-slightly toward a more libertarian viewpoint with regards to these self-inflicted actions, they would be legal – but you’d certainly still see the public service announcements about “just say no” or the dangers of selling one’s body. (Oddly enough, I doubt we buy time around the world to warn about the dangers of illegally immigrating to the United States. Why do you think that is?)
And I don’t think items like this upcoming movie will help the libertarian cause – not because of the message per se, but the poor quality of the animation. It reminds me of those cheesy Xtranormal movies people make, sorry to say.
I also have a couple items – as I get closer to wrapping this up – that I think are worth reading. Paul Jacobs is on Townhall giving our state a little tough love regarding the drive to tighten petition rules (in a state where it’s already very difficult to succeed) while Mike Shedlock is there making a point I’ve made for several years – my daughter’s generation is being hosed.
While he’s a little bit older than the Millennial Generation, I think Dan Bongino can relate. This video is now going viral on Youtube, in part thanks to the Blaze.
Finally, I think it’s worth alerting my readers that this may be the last edition of odds and ends for awhile. No, I’m not going anywhere but in the interest of bringing more readership I’m in the process of exploring the concept of a quicker posting tempo which may or may not feature shorter posts.
I’ve always felt the ideal post was somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words, but these odds and ends posts can run 2,000 words or more. Maybe it’s better for both readers and this writer to space things out and perhaps devote 200-300 words to an item rather than wait and collect a bunch of items which could get stale after a week or two. I can’t always control the length of my Ten Question Tuesday posts or ones where I report on an event, but I can work with items like these and see what’s truly worth writing about.
As the political world and internet evolve, I think the time is right to change up the mix and tempo here just a little bit. Certainly I won’t get to a point where I’m simply rehashing press releases but I think it’s a better use of my time to shorten the average post I write.
So there you have it: another post which weighs in at 2,000 words, exactly.
In recent weeks, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino has created a lot of buzz regarding his future plans, rumors which included everything from being appointed to the recently vacated Anne Arundel County Executive post or being elected Maryland Republican Party Chair to a potential run for Governor. While the two former options were eliminated in a statement from Dan, many still speculate about his possible pursuit of the Governor’s chair.
Apparently the proverbial “last year’s model” didn’t want people to forget about him and his own run from not-so-long ago, so I received an e-mail on Saturday which explained the following:
Eric Wargotz believes that the economic health and well-being of all Americans must come first. That is precisely why we are working with Eric to determine what his next move should be. As the 2014 elections approach, we are examining opportunities at both the State and Federal levels as well as locally.
Eric Wargotz is a rare blend of individual who truly understands what it is to serve. As a physician, caring family man, business owner, former County Commissioner and U.S. Senate Nominee, Eric Wargotz understands that you come first, that together we hold the power and that he works for all of us. Conservative and compassionate, Eric Wargotz understands the complex issues facing us and believes in working towards common-sense solutions and not through oppressive government policies which threaten our liberties and our private enterprise. Eric Wargotz has a proven record of fiscal conservatism including reducing taxes and job creation.
Eric Wargotz was Maryland’s Republican U.S. Senate Nominee in 2010 and continues to be an active community leader throughout the State. Dr. Wargotz garnered the largest percentage of the vote in the history of challenges to this entrenched incumbent Senator and Washington Insider. Eric Wargotz is a respected physician, small-business owner, and former elected President of the Queen Anne’s County, MD Board of County Commissioners who while in office:
- KEPT his promises.
- LOWERED taxes.
- INCREASED government transparency and accountability.
- Made PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION a top priority.
“Like you, I am outraged by career politicians who care more about their political lives than the people who elected them. Politics as usual has gotten us into this mess, and both parties share the blame for where we are today. It’s time we returned to our core roots of fiscal discipline and job creation to dig America out of this hole and secure our nation’s future. Please support me and my team in our effort to raise necessary funds to pursue the path to victory as we survey the landscape to explore how best I may serve you.
Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.”‘
In the 2010 election, Wargotz had a higher percentage of the overall vote than Dan Bongino received in 2012, but only received 655,666 votes compared to 693,291 for Bongino two years later – bear in mind also that Dan had an independent candidate drawing perhaps 3/5 of his vote away from Dan’s column.
And just like Dan, Eric’s options are limited by the small number of statewide offices on the ballot this time around; however, Wargotz does have a track record of winning in Queen Anne’s County which he alluded to in his letter. Shrewdly, he did not preclude starting over politically with a local office (and obviously, smaller budget required.)
However, Eric has limited 2014 options for higher office unless he wants to challenge Maryland’s lone Republican federal elected official in Andy Harris for a Congressional seat or incumbent Republicans in a race for the General Assembly. In essence, his only option for a statewide office is a run for governor – but is it a winnable race for him? Given the bullet points he outlined in his missive, it seems to me that’s the direction Eric is pointing in. (Moreover, for a local run Eric could probably launch his campaign later this fall given his name recognition in Queen Anne’s County. So why else would he start talking up his options now?)
Therefore, it would not surprise me to see this message as a precursor and feeler for a run for Governor. (Revising his website with this message is also a clue.) Obviously, except for Bongino, Eric is the only one among the current presumed contenders who has previously run statewide, although Charles Lollar has run the statewide Americans for Prosperity organization for some time. (The same can be said for Larry Hogan and Change Maryland.) But money may be an issue, as Eric wasn’t a prolific fundraiser in his U.S. Senate bid and instead relied a lot on out-of-pocket funding. While Wargotz has an outstanding state account, as of January 2012 he only had $3,435 in it (with a loan balance of $11,000.) Last month Wargotz filed a Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures on that account for the period since January, 2012 – an ALCE affirms a campaign has not spent or received over $1,000 in the previous filing period. As always, though, the ALCE is not binding for a future period.
But if Wargotz wants to be included in the conversation of potential 2014 gubernatorial candidates, sure, I’ll start that ball rolling. Since most other areas of the state have a candidate hailing from their section, why not one from the Eastern Shore?
I’m still trying to figure out who “we” is, though. I know he reads this space, so perhaps Eric can enlighten me and the rest of us.
Since my e-mail box is filling up with items I’ve been meaning to get to and I spent part of my day today cleaning out our garage, it’s in that spirit that I present to you yet another heaping helping of items I figure are worth a couple paragraphs or so.
First of all, it seems our newly elected friend up Cecil County way, County Executive Tari Moore, is just getting everyone mad at her. Cecil County GOP head Chris Zeauskas chastised the woman he called “whichever way the wind blows” Moore for appointing Winston Robinson as her finance director. Robinson was a loser in the Democratic primary for the post Moore now holds but has lengthy experience in the financial field, according to the Cecil Whig. Zeauskas also blasted Moore for not hiring either one of two people who she presumably passed up for the appointment: county treasurer Bill Feehley and budget manager Craig Whiteford. Both are Republicans.
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Liberty is raking Moore over the coals for promising to appoint a person to run economic development in Cecil County. Their point is that:
Businesses and individuals build our economy, not government officials.
The idea that we need more bureaucrats to help those in the private sector to navigate red tape is proposterous. (sic)
Why not eliminate the onerous regulations that businesses face and eliminate the “need” to hire a government employee?
In a Cecil Whig news article, Tari Moore “promised to create a business advocate position to create incentives and work with businesses to create jobs in Cecil County.”
The key here is provision of incentives. Why should government have the authority to pick winners and losers in the market place?
Why should county government be giving your hard-earned tax dollars to private companies?
Every time the government uses your tax dollars to give hand outs to private businesses, it distorts and inhibits a truly free market.
It seems to me that both of these parties make valid arguments, particularly the Campaign for Liberty. However, I suspect in the Zeauskas case that if Moore hadn’t changed her registration the Republican Central Committee would have invoked the Eleventh Commandment and remained silent about the Robinson pick. The Campaign for Liberty knows no such thing and will just as readily skewer a Republican as it would a Democrat.
In fact, the C4L goes a little farther, calling on Moore to defund all economic development programs because:
Taxpayers in Cecil County have been forced year after year to give millions of dollars to county run economic development programs.
Yet, over the past two decades Cecil County has had the highest unemployment rate in the region.
By returning the money spent on these programs back to taxpayers we can start to create some real economic growth in our county.
Rather than taking potshots at a decision Tari Moore made simply because the group is upset about a change in partisan affiliation, at least the C4L has a basis in fact that perhaps another direction is needed for economic development. The data doesn’t mean that having an ineffective economic development department is the cause of the issue (since many of the peer counties are in other states, which have their own set of advantages) but could be a factor to consider going forward.
And at the moment the liberty movement in Maryland is feeling its oats, based on the glowing report I received from Maryland Liberty PAC head Patrick McGrady about their hospitality suite at the recent convention:
Our Maryland Liberty Caucus event had more visitors than any other event, by far. Not only were we able to rally our own troops to attend, but we met many new allies and friends who want to fight side-by-side with us in Maryland.
On the other hand, McGrady was blunt in his assessment of the political scene:
Although we met many old and new friends on Friday, we also came away with a very clear conclusion: the Political Establishment in Maryland is strong and will not go away easily. These people are addicted to power and are sell-outs to the conservative cause.
These Big Government Republicans and Democrats are destroying our liberties and burdening us with over-the-top wasteful spending.
Tell me something I hadn’t figured out already, Patrick. We’ve been fighting that battle off and on since I joined the Central Committee in 2006. Unfortunately, we have way too many Republicans who go along to get along in Annapolis.
Another Pat, Delegate Pat McDonough, bemoans the “Radical Blue” nature of Maryland politics in a recent release:
The dynamic of the voting power in Maryland probably ensures there may never be another statewide Democrat office holder from Baltimore after O’Malley, Cardin, and Mikulski have moved on. The Baltimore area voters have become captive step-children to the massive voting power of the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Baltimore’s “radical blue” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presides over an urban landscape beset by murder, muggings, economic stagnation and a dim future. She suffers no real opposition, except possibly from another “radical blue” political challenger. The diversity of electoral politics or public policy is non-existent in Charm City.
All doubt about this growing power was removed when the 7 questions on the ballot achieved a solid victory created by a deluge of votes from the D.C. suburbs. The problem is compounded by the fact that the two major press organs dominating Maryland, the Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, both reflect the “radical blue” philosophy in their editorial and reporting practices. They are enablers, not objective journalists.
I would prefer that a neither a Baltimore-based Democrat nor a Democrat based in the Washington suburbs see statewide elected office again after the way both of those groups have ruined a once-fine state. The “landscape beset by…economic stagnation and a dim future” is the state of Maryland as it stands now. So why is Delegate McDonough conceding this ground?
Be that as it may, McDonough later makes the point that the wealthy in Maryland are “voting with their feet” and leaving the state. However, a recent decision by the IRS pointed out to me by Jim Pettit means these changes will be harder to track:
(T)he IRS Statistics of Income Division attributes the decision to cancel the program, which dates back to 1991, to coordination issues with the U.S. Census Bureau. There is no official word yet on why the program was cancelled.
Pettit also stated:
The IRS tax migration data is the best indicator we have of how state and local governments are doing in developing their tax base. If there is no effective way to monitor changes in the tax base in the context of macro-economic trends, then state and local governments are at a severe disadvantage in making key legislative, regulatory and fiscal policies that address the challenges of funding government budgets.
This data was a key cudgel used by the advocacy group Change Maryland to point out the multiple failures of Martin O’Malley’s economic program for the state of Maryland. Now we’ll be down to anecdotal evidence of people leaving Maryland and seeking states more friendly to their economic interests.
Soon the transport industry may follow, as it’s all but certain the General Assembly will once again consider a gas tax when they reconvene next month and may even try to work out a mileage tax as part of their “War on Rural Maryland.” But I’m putting that cart ahead of the horse a little farther than Americans for Prosperity is by setting up their opposition to a gas tax via petition. (Of course, it also builds up a healthier e-mail list.)
Let’s just hope Republicans stay unified in opposition to a gas tax this time around, mmmmmmkay?
Another tax which stands a good chance of being increased yet again is the cigarette tax, but Marc Kilmer of MPPI punctures a hole in the logic of the Baltimore Sun and lobbyist Vinnie DeMarco in his usual clear, level-headed way. It’s worth a read since the cigarette tax increase proposal is another of those Maryland General Assembly rites of spring.
Taxes are also on the mind of national politicians thanks to the closeness of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” But a coalition of nineteen conservative groups called on Congress to “…reject tax increases, refocus negotiations on spending cuts and entitlement reform, where they belong, and send a strong signal to Americans they can count on their elected representatives to look out for them in the upcoming budget negotiations.” But that would require members of Congress to exhibit some backbone, which is in short supply inside the Beltway.
I could go on but you get the idea. Despite the holiday season, politics doesn’t seem to take a break and vigilance is always required.
Now that I’ve posed the question about whether a pro-liberty message can play in Maryland, the logical follow-up is who will be able to deliver it?
Of course, the most obvious answer is the Maryland Republican Party. Many activists question its ability to pack a political punch given their lack of success over the last hundred years, yet on the other hand there is no paucity of groups out there trying to wield influence within the party.
At the risk of creating a long and boring list, here are just some of the groups and individuals trying to become players within and surrounding the MDGOP:
- Obviously, the current party leadership.
- Elected officials who carry the GOP banner at the state level.
- Various county Central Committees, some more than others.
- The Maryland Young Republicans.
- Hundreds of sub-groups which fall under the category of local Republican clubs, such as the Wicomico County Republican Club.
- Americans for Prosperity – Maryland.
- Campaign for Liberty and its various local branches.
- Change Maryland.
- Conservative Victory PAC.
- Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland.
- Help Save Maryland.
- Maryland Center-Right Coalition.
- Maryland Conservative Action Network.
- Maryland Liberty PAC.
- Maryland Right to Life.
- Maryland Society of Patriots (plus its local chapters).
- New Day Maryland.
- Protect Marriage Maryland.
And that’s just a small sampling of groups I’m aware of. Some exert more toward their goals than others, and obviously some work exclusively on their pet issues. At times these groups manage to row in opposite directions, leaving a void the other side exploits.
It’s interesting that the port side has its coalitions which don’t always get along well – for example, the argument over the Keystone XL pipeline pitted Radical Green against Big Labor. In the end, though, both of those groups pretty much stayed with the leftist side even as Big Labor didn’t get what it wanted. (There were other areas in which they did, which makes a difference.) Yet they didn’t take their ball and go home when the chips were down, unlike, say, those who supported a certain Republican candidate in the primary.
Of course, conservatism can’t make the same guarantees liberals do because to the Left keeping a promise is as easy as slicing off a little piece of the government pie for those groups which clamor the loudest at the particular time. Even though the conservative aim is generally one of smaller, more limited government, there are some groups within the list I described above which would like more government in certain areas. These most generally are the advocates for social issues, such as abortion foes who want a Right to Life Amendment in the Constitution.
Those who push for social conservatism, though, are usually the targets of the circular firing squad for which Republicans are famous. “If it weren’t for those hayseed Bible-thumpers who want to end abortion we would win elections,” cry those in the Republican establishment; meanwhile, they forget that those voters provided a huge portion of the overall vote. That perception is amplified in the mainstream media which tarred and feathered Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock over comments they made about rape, as if this duo actually supported the raping of women. But it sure played well into the whole false “War on Women” narrative the other side got away with, didn’t it?
If we want to deliver the true narrative that enhanced freedom leads to greater personal and societal prosperity, we have to find messengers to do so. That leads to a conundrum because, remember, the Republican Party is chock full of disparate groups and many of them like the Bush 43 idea of “compassionate” big-government conservatism. But the record of third parties is less than abysmal and once the GOP became entrenched in the two-party system they, along with the Democrats, rewrote the rules in order to keep the spoils for themselves. Generally it’s that factor, not necessarily the lack of popularity of their respective platforms, which keeps groups like the Constitution, Libertarian, or even Green parties from ever getting more than a tiny percentage of the vote. Naturally it’s also the job of those in the major parties to state the case that a third-party vote is a wasted one. On that point I reluctantly have to agree.
While I have friends and relatives who are dyed-in-the-wool Libertarians, the political reality we face is that we exist in a two-party system. My goal in both joining the GOP as an activist member and (later) writing this website was, as I’ve said before, pushing this country in the RIGHT direction. I may not like every candidate we nominate, and there have been a few occasions where I felt I had to skip the office on the ballot or vote for someone like Ross Perot (which I did.) But the vast majority of the time I figure that advancing the ball, even a little, is better than losing more ground. Sometimes I’m disappointed because there’s not even the smallest smidgen of progress in the next term but generally I can comfort myself with knowing at least the trend isn’t going the other way. I may not have liked Bob Ehrlich or Mitt Romney much, but they were certainly better than Martin O’Malley or Barack Obama.
But that still doesn’t solve the problem of finding a good group of messengers to spread the gospel of how limited government benefits us all in Maryland – in that respect we have a whole lot of work to do. Hopefully in the next few months the conservative movement will get a chance to do some vetting of the leaders who will bring us success in future elections. I look forward to the challenge.
Those of you who have been following Maryland politics for awhile may recall that in 2010, before Bob Ehrlich finally made up his mind whether to give it another go and even prior to the upstart Brian Murphy upsetting the state GOP apple cart, there was another likable, passionate young politician who was being drafted to run for governor.
Former Charles County Republican head Charles Lollar was tripped up by a residency issue, falling just short of the five-year timeline decreed by state law based on his voter registration date. But prior to that he had made the rounds, attracting notice on RedState and appearing at the summertime Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield. Lollar also gained fame when former GOP chair Jim Pelura asked him to head a “Maryland GOP Anti-Tax Plan Commission” in 2008.
But after Lollar withdrew from the governor’s race, he turned his sights on the difficult task of unseating entrenched Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer. He got 35% of the vote, but a few months later landed on his feet by being named head of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
It was on the “New Day Maryland” advocacy group’s website, though, that Lollar wrote he would make a decision soon:
As some of you may know by I now I have been asked to consider a run for governor in 2014. In fact, there has been a “Draft” campaign started along with a FACEBOOK site advertising such. May I say that this has humbled me to say the least and I am honored to have such friends and patriots that think so highly of me and my family.
In the upcoming months, I will be spending a tremendous amount of time considering this endeavor as I want to ensure this the right direction for me and my family. Additionally, I am meeting with business leaders throughout the state of Maryland discussing my solutions for the economic struggles of our great state to include our rising unemployment as I outlined in the “RedPrint” for Maryland that can be found on my site www.newdaymd.com.
I humbly ask each and every one of you to pray with me considering this all impressing matter. Whether you are within or without the borders of Maryland, I will need your support and prayers if in fact my family and I continue down this road. Please feel free to go on the “Draft Charles Lollar for Governor” Face Book and leave a message, I guarantee you it will encourage those who have authored this Draft as well as myself.
You all have my commitment that after considerable contemplation and prayer I will let you all know of my decision by the first of the New Year.
So what would a Lollar candidacy bring to the table?
Obviously, he’s a minority Republican, but any advantage from that with those voters would be negated if one leaked Garin-Hart-Yang internal Democratic poll from September is correct and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is the Democrats’ frontrunner. Furthermore, Michael Steele (among many others) proved that blacks vote for ideology before race. Yet Lollar has a compelling message which still needs to be put out in the hopes of changing hearts and minds in both that specific community and (more importantly) the state at large. Truly, prosperity and freedom aren’t (and shouldn’t be) limited by the color of one’s skin – those of us on our side take that to heart.
A second effect, though, is one of splitting the TEA Party vote a little further. Certainly the tough-talking fiscal conservative Blaine Young is a leading candidate among conservatives, but TEA Parties will have another choice if Lollar jumps in. Of course, the “establishment” Republicans also have a conundrum when they consider the choice of David Craig vs. Larry Hogan, both of whom are more known quantities in GOP circles. Hogan may also negate what advantage Lollar has in southern Maryland based on the fact his father represented the area in Congress for a few years back in the 1970s.
Lollar would also have to play catch-up in fundraising, but Lollar’s media-friendly approach could catch on nationally like Dan Bongino’s did. (Of course, if Rob Sobhani decides to run for governor all bets are off.)
Depending on the audience he seeks, though, Lollar may want to embrace (or have to live down) a statement he made in this BET profile on minority convention delegates. Of course, context is key and it’s doubtful the “not overly impressed with either party” part of the interview came without plenty of context, knowing Charles.
If I were a betting man, I’d place my money on Charles getting into the race – it’s not like he wasn’t interested before. The only thing which may hold him back would be lack of support from his family and I’m certainly not in the position to speculate on how they would feel about such a decision. From what Lollar says, we’ll know soon enough anyway.
You may recall that last week Melody Scalley of AFP Virginia was looking for people to do door-to-door campaigning in the Hampton Roads area. Well, the same rules apply for this weekend and the two locations I cited from last week are still in play.
But this weekend (and next) I’m looking for a few good men and women, too. If you are planning on going to the Good Beer Festival this weekend or Autumn Wine Festival next weekend, I’m looking for conservative volunteers to staff our presence there. Most of the time you just need to smile, be friendly, and engage those who come looking for campaign information by pointing them in the RIGHT direction. It’s really not hard.
My biggest need this weekend is for people later on Saturday afternoon (after 4 or so) and all day Sunday. The Good Beer Festival runs from 12:30 to 6 on both Saturday and Sunday, and we’ll have a tent, table, and a couple chairs. Being a week out, I haven’t seen my signup sheet at headquarters recently but at last check this trend seems to also hold true for the Autumn Wine Festival. (Don’t quote me on this, but I’ve heard a rumor that a certain statewide candidate popular with area conservatives will be at the Autumn Wine Festival to campaign.)
You can drop me an e-mail: ttownjotes (at) yahoo (dot) com if interested. Or if you wish to help Melody out, her number is (703) 258-4200.
More dollops of blogworthy goodness, neatly bundled up in short, paragraph-or-three packages. I put them together and you raptly absorb them. It seems to be a good formula.
If you believe it’s time to ditch Dutch, you may want to know your contributions are paying for this. Here’s 30 seconds from State Senator and GOP hopeful Nancy Jacobs:
Now this is a good message, but oh! the cheesy video effects. It sort of reminds me of the Eric Wargotz “Political Insidersaurus” commercial, which had a message muddled by production. Sometimes people try too hard to be funny, but that shot of Dutch peeking around the Capitol dome might have the same effect clowns do on certain people who find them creepy.
A longer form of communication comes from a filmmaker who somehow got in touch with me to promote his upcoming documentary. It may not be “2016: Obama’s America” but Agustin Blazquez is an expert on communism, having left Castro’s Cuba as a young man nearly 50 years ago.
Perhaps it’s hard to read, but the gist of the film is that it exposes “Obama and his supporting network of organizations that helped him win the Presidency…and the connections with George Soros and the Communist Party U.S.A.”
I’m not going to speak to the merits of the film because I haven’t seen it. But this is a good opportunity to relate something I’ve encountered in my personal experience – the ones who seem to be most concerned about America’s slide leftward are those who have experienced Communist oppression firsthand, risking life and limb in many cases to escape to America. And they have no desire to go back.
One more video in that vein is the most recent web ad from First District Libertarian candidate Muir Boda.
One may debate whether we have a purpose for being in Afghanistan and Iraq, although in both cases we are in the slow process of withdrawing. But Boda goes farther and talks about rescinding foreign aid entirely, and that changes the terms of the debate dramatically. We can also include the idea of withdrawing from the United Nations in there.
It’s unfortunate that Andy Harris has chosen to skip the debates this time around because, in the wake of the Chris Stevens murder in Benghazi (“Obama lied, Chris Stevens died”: new foreign policy slogan) the time has come for a robust debate about how we treat both foreign relations and our dealings with Islamic extremists such as the ones who attacked our compound there.
Meanwhile, we also have to worry about our own border security in the wake of the killing of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie last week. The Center for Immigration Studies rushed out their assessment of the situation, which bolsters an argument that we need to mind our own borders. They add:
Nicholas Ivie’s name is now added to the large and growing list of individuals killed on both sides of the border as a result of failed and corrupt policies.
We need border security, but perhaps it’s time to be more libertarian and consider the impact of our War on Drugs. I can’t promise it would eliminate the Mexican cartels, and honestly their battles with a corrupt Mexican government may end up as a civil war on our doorstep. But one also has to consider what the crackdown does to American youth as well.
You’ll note I panned Andy Harris for his apparent refusal to debate a couple paragraphs ago. That works for both sides, and especially so in the wake of Barack Obama’s recent debacle.
Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer claims people know where he stands, but he’s obviously afraid to defend his views onstage and challenger Tony O’Donnell takes exception to that:
Regardless of where we stand on the issues, this election is not about where we both have been, it is about where we are going. The citizens of our district reserve the right to witness the passion I encompass when I know our rights are in jeopardy. Representative Steny Hoyer has lost this spark and is merely a smoldering ember underneath the smokescreen of his 45 years as an elected official in Maryland. It’s time to blow the smoke away and ignite a new fire.
My campaign has invited Representative Hoyer to debate in front of the citizens in each county and once on television. In addition, The Chris Plante Show attempted to arrange an on-air debate. Also, citizens throughout the District have called for a debate. Yet Representative Hoyer rebuffed all requests.
That’s because Hoyer knows he has some built-in advantages: the power of incumbency along with the franking privilege, a willing and compliant press, and lots of money in the bank to create 30 second commercials. In a debate he can’t control the narrative, and that’s a position of a politician who knows he’s not as popular as he may let on.
I would expect that attitude of arrogance mixed with fear from Steny Hoyer, who’s long past his sell-by date, but I hoped Andy Harris would be better than that.
In Hoyer’s case, this ad from Americans from Prosperity should be beamed into his office. It’s simple but powerful in its message.
Time to try something different indeed. I received a number of reactions to the latest unemployment report, including ones from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Lt. Col. (and Congressman) Allen West which flat-out accused the Obama administration of making it up. That’s okay, the Democrats lie on Medicare too.
Even Andy Harris responded, noting that:
I agree with what Vice President Joe Biden recently said when he stated that the middle class was “buried” over the past four years.
That is why the House voted to stop President Obama’s tax hike proposal on small business owners and the middle class, which would destroy over 700,000 jobs. We need the President and the Senate to work with House Republicans instead of continuing to promote job-destroying policies that the American people can no longer afford.
Even before the unemployment figures came out, though, the Republican Study Committee hammered President Obama and the Democrats for incomes which had fallen faster during this so-called recovery than during the preceding recession, particularly at a time where gasoline prices are skyrocketing.
The jobless recovery even extends to Wicomico County. As local researcher Johnnie Miller writes in an e-mail I obtained:
Wicomico has 132 fewer workers this year as compared to the same period last year – (08/12 vs. 08/11). Even though the unemployment rate has declined in Wicomico from 8.8% to 8.2% – the real indicator points to the fact that those receiving unemployment checks have now exhausted their benefits and still not found jobs.
More alarmingly, somehow the county lost 1,613 workers from their labor force between July and August. 190 of them simply disappeared off the unemployment rolls as well, allowing the county’s unemployment rate to drop to 8.2%.
If this is recovery, I’d hate to see a depression. I could only imagine what the county’s U-6 unemployment rate would be.
I suppose there’s the possibility that these employment rolls may have been kept up like voter rolls are – perhaps they forgot to remove a few deceased workers. After all, the deceased really can vote in Maryland, according to the watchdog group Election Integrity Maryland:
While just scratching the surface of voter roll research, having looked at 35,000 voter registration records so far in Maryland, EIM has discovered 1,566 names of deceased still on the voter rolls. Of these names, apparently two voted and three registered to vote after their deaths.
Talk about a serious case of rigor mortis. But there are about 3.5 million registered voters in Maryland so if you extrapolate the numbers in a statewide race that’s 200 voters who would have been discovered, not the mention the potential for 156,600 zombie voters. It’s long past time to cull the voter rolls AND enact photo voter ID.
But let’s go back to the economy for a little bit, since those dead voters seem to be among those supporting a Governor who seems to be killing Maryland’s prospects for economic recovery in the next decade.
After Governor O’Malley appeared on CNBC yesterday, his nemesis Change Maryland immediately found significant fault with his remarks. Larry Hogan, Chairman of the group, delivered the real story:
We are very familiar with Martin O’Malley putting out falsehoods about his own record when it comes to Maryland’s economic performance. Maryland is a laggard in economic performance in our region, so he compares us to states like Michigan and Nevada. The difference in those hard-hit states is that there top elected officials are dealing with structural problems in their economies while our Governor enjoys seeing himself on TV and making partisan attacks.
Martin O’Malley does seem to suck up a lot of airtime these days. I’ll bet a debate with him and Larry Hogan would be fun to watch in much the same manner some watch NASCAR rooting for the 14-car pileups. We all know the engineer of that train wreck would be Martin O’Malley, so the trick would be seeing if Larry Hogan could keep a straight face during all that. I’m sure I couldn’t.
What I can do, though, is leave you on that note as my e-mailbox is in much better shape. I do have some Question 7 and SB236/PlanMaryland/Agenda 21 items to discuss, but those merit their own posts. Three score odds and ends are in the books.
Originally I was going to write this evening about the Maryland DREAM Act debate which happened in Salisbury last night, but that isn’t time-sensitive so I’ll post my thoughts on that tomorrow.
In the meantime, one of the longest-tenured and dearest friends of monoblogue sent out a bat-signal tonight and I’m responding. She lives in Virginia and has taken on the daunting task of coordinating the eastern end of the state for their chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Melody Scalley has been a freedom fighter for several years as a local radio host, 2009 candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates, and all-around advocate for conservatism.
But right now she’s looking for the cavalry to come in this Saturday, as AFP is making a house-to-house push in the Hampton Roads area. Melody is looking for volunteers who would like to help with several activities, but most specifically door knocking on Saturday. I spoke to Melody earlier this evening and was informed that AFP will cover travel expenses for those coming down from our part of the Eastern Shore. You can also help on the phones from the comfort of your home.
Now I understand this practice of helping out in Virginia has ruffled a few feathers in Maryland because we have key races and good candidates who need help here, and I completely get the point. This appeal, then, is more for those who would like to help with AFP’s practice of educating voters and helping them make the right choices. I’m trying to expand the pie of political activism in instances where the political races may not excite you, but helping to promote the long-term conservative cause does. To that end, I agreed to provide this forum to let people know – conveniently, this weekend is not a Maryland GOP Super Saturday.
These two sites are probably the best in terms of ease of access for Maryland’s Eastern Shore residents:
- Cagney’s Restaurant, 1108 East Little Creek Road in Norfolk (8:30 a.m.) Onsite contact: Joan Maguire
- Parking lot at the Office of Gary Byler, 505 S. Independence Boulevard in Virginia Beach (9:30 a.m.) Melody is the contact for that site.
If you’d like to help out a good Eastern Shore conservative (and genuinely nice lady) give Melody a call at (703) 258-4200; that’s her direct AFP line.
One participant only expects it to last two days, but the upcoming Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly may have just as much action on the outside as it will on the inside.
As currently scheduled, events outside begin with a “picket line” being organized by the “We the People” group of Carroll County at 9:30 a.m. That effort – complete with “union dues” which will be collected for donation to the Maryland Food Bank – will give way to a noontime press conference by the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity at the State House in Annapolis.
Later on, dueling – but not simultaneous – rallies will inhabit Lawyers Mall outside the capital late Monday afternoon. First will be a “Last Chance Rally for Tax Fairness” hosted by Progressive Maryland, beginning at 5:30 and lasting about an hour. They will be urging the General Assembly to pass the tax hikes necessary to forestall the so-called “doomsday budget” which only increases spending by $700 million over last year’s expenditures, as opposed to the $1.2 billion spending hike originally envisioned by Governor Martin O’Malley. Along with a significant increase in tax rates on high-income earners progressives would also like an increased tax on non-cigarette tobacco products, a toll which was included in the budget reconciliation bill which died along with the regular session at midnight April 9.
After the liberal side yields the field, once again those who oppose the prospect of tax hikes and believe the state can do more with less will begin their affair, the Rally Against the Doomsday Session. The event is scheduled for two hours, and is slated to start at 7 p.m. Obviously there could be a few counter-protestors at each event who stand in opposition to the side then holding court at Lawyers Mall.
(continued at Examiner.com…)
A couple weeks back there was a candidates’ forum conducted by the Cecil County Patriots in conjunction with Americans for Prosperity. Six of the ten GOP hopefuls were present (in reverse alphabetical order, just to be different): Corrogan Vaughn, David Jones, Rick Hoover, Richard Douglas, Robert Broadus, and Daniel Bongino. William Capps was also slated to appear, but had to cancel at the last minute.
The forum was recorded in two parts, and the videos run just about two hours total. In order from left to right, the candidates are Bongino, Hoover, Vaughn, Broadus, Jones, and Douglas.
I’m going to allow you to make up your own mind on who won; some comported themselves well and made a solid presentation and others seemed a little ill at ease. At this time I like three candidates better than the others, but I would like to study a little bit more before I make a formal endorsement down the road.
Thanks to Jacklyn Gregory for putting the videos together and uploading them. The Cecil County Patriots and AFP Maryland have done a service to Republican voters. Just for fun I did a quick search for a similar event on the Democratic side, but it was no surprise I found nothing. It’s doubtful Ben Cardin would stoop so low as to honor his opponents with his consent to debate – a common trait I’ve found among incumbent Democrats.