April of angst for politicians

It seems as though most Maryland members of Congress are spending their Easter break warily hiding out from the post-Obamacare wrath of many constituents. At this time, none of the ten Maryland representatives to Congress have scheduled a town hall meeting during the break. Eighth District Congressman Chris Van Hollen comes closest with a public gathering scheduled for the first day back, April 12th.

First District Congressman Frank Kratovil has also been busy around his district, stopping at several points around the district to check into ongoing projects and speak to select members of the voting public.

On the other hand, the Maryland Republican Party will be more aggressive, engaging their public with a series of townhall meetings slated for next week. The nine stops include Annapolis, Salisbury, Easton, Catonsville, Hagerstown, Frederick, Silver Spring, Waldorf, and Bowie. As they note, “the MDGOP Town Hall Tour is geared toward letting all Marylanders voice their opinions on how we can return fiscal responsibility to Annapolis and Washington D.C.”

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)

Celebrating achievement

I’ve blogged about this a couple times before, but tonight Americans who have no life and still believe in the discredited radical environmental movement will sit in the darkness and gloom to “celebrate” the so-called “Earth Hour.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute poked fun at this last year by creating Human Achievement Hour and putting out this video.

As has been tradition around this time, I engaged in the enjoyment of being there last night while thousands of watts of amplification and lighting was expended to boost the local economy of Ocean City and the personal fortunes of dozens of starving artists who are better known as musicians. (Most people call this Skip Dixxon’s Spring Luau.) My point is that it takes energy to grow an economy, but apparently those who want to curtail our usage and bring us back to a 20th or even 19th century lifestyle consider that offensive to their earth goddess.

Needless to say, I stand foursquare against those who would use the force of the state to infringe upon our freedom. Granted, Earth Hour is voluntary (for now) but even exhibiting the mindset of following like lemmings gives them the illusion of popular support and the desire to make what are now suggestions into laws.

In Maryland, this sort of thinking is leading us into even more restrictive stormwater regulations, which only curtails the production of jobs and ironically may reduce the urban development so-called “Smart Growth” advocates desire. At one point there was a compromise reached by the General Assembly which would allow existing projects to continue under the old regulations but that is now out the window – much to the displeasure of those who help to provide private-sector economic growth.

Instead, developers may have to go back to the drawing boards, instituting needless and unnecessary delays and the costs associated with them; yet the benefits are dubious and difficult to measure. Let’s face it – is Chesapeake Bay ever truly going to be clean enough for the radical environmentalists without depopulating the entire watershed? I doubt it, because solving the problem of Bay pollution would put them out of business and the lobbyists and lawyers who depend on their patronage would have to find more honest work.

So I’m going to do my part and celebrate Human Achievement Hour in some way – it may be as simple as leaving a couple extra lights on around our place – and I encourage all of you to do the same. Yes, it’s a little wasteful but the point made is that with progress comes energy demand, and that’s a fact we can’t avoid.

For the record, the state of Maryland is participating in this idiocy, along with the cities of Baltimore, Frederick, Gaithersburg, and Greenbelt; as well, Baltimore and Frederick counties. Governor O’Malley noted in a statement on the Earth Hour website:

“Maryland is an official Earth Hour state, and Katie and I will be turning off our own lights in support of this global movement. By joining us, our fellow citizens will save energy, reduce their carbon footprint and demonstrate to the nation and the world the commitment and leadership of Marylanders on this critical issue.”

So I encourage all right-thinking residents of those areas to instead participate in Human Achievement Hour, and demostrate a call for economic leadership through progress, not regressing back to the Dark Ages.

Republican reactions to Obamacare predictable

Some would-be Republican members of the House and Senate have already weighed in on the passage of Obamacare, making certain the issue won’t rest until after November.

(for more go to my Examiner.com page)

By the way, if you want to cut out the middleman and know when I post articles to Examiner.com you can subscribe to my posts and an e-mail alert will be sent to you. Just go here and look for the “subscribe” button to the right of my name. I don’t know who has the most subscribers in Baltimore or in the politics subsector but I want to acquire that distinction.

Maryland’s two ‘no’ votes

It wasn’t unexpected, but Maryland’s House delegation split 6-2 on the issue of health care reform legislation dubbed by some as “Obamacare.” Roscoe Bartlett of the Sixth District joined all of his GOP counterparts in voting against the bill, and Frank Kratovil voted with 33 other Democrats in his opposition. In neither case was this a complete surprise.

But in looking ahead to the November election we find an interesting variation of reaction on the issue from the respective districts. In Bartlett’s case, only one of the two leading Democrats vying for the Sixth District nomination even mentions health care as an issue on his site. Andrew Duck favors “universal access to healthcare” but Casey Clark doesn’t even bring health care up as an issue. Perhaps that’s a nod to the unpopularity of the reform package in Bartlett’s district.

The more intriguing case is Kratovil’s. In 2008 Frank ran for office on a platform which noted, “Universal health care…means universal.” His statement said in part, “Universal coverage cannot be achieved until we accept the premise that every adult and child must be insured. If elected to Congress, I will support and advocate for true universal coverage and will provide leadership in forging consensus on a policy that provides such coverage without harming employers.”

(More on my Examiner.com page…)

The Maryland marriage controversy

When Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler opined that Maryland should recognize the same-sex marriages of couples wed in the District of Columbia, he overturned precedent set in 2004 by former AG Joseph Curran and ignored a 1973 state law recognizing marriage solely between one man and one woman. Delegate Don Dwyer quickly denounced Gansler’s ruling and announced a bid to impeach the Attorney General.

While Dwyer is no stranger to impeachment proceedings over same-sex marriage, attempting to remove Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock for her ruling declaring the state law unconstitutional, he’s noncommittal thus far on whether he’ll include Governor O’Malley in his impeachment crusade as O’Malley publicly backed Gansler Wednesday.

(More on my Examiner.com page…)

A tax increase may be in the bag

As of the first of the year, shoppers in Washington, D.C. were forced to drop an extra nickel into the till for each paper or plastic bag they used when going to the store. Store owners collected a share of the tax, but the true intent of the proceeds was a fund to help clean up the Anacostia River.

While the ban has caused some confusion among District shoppers, what truly matters to their local government is the estimated $3.5 million in revenue created by the new tax. With dollar signs in their eyes, some Maryland legislators in both the House of Delegates and the Senate want to get in on the taxation action with proceeds going (of course) to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. The fiscal note with these bills posits a possible windfall to the state of $7.8 million based on a number of assumptions – very tempting when this is a fee easily buried within the overall cost of grocery shopping.

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)

Ehrlich won’t rule out Senate run

Bob Ehrlich surprised a group in Pikesville this morning by telling a questioner at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast that a Senate run against Barbara Mikulski was still “in the mix.

That news may come as a shock should Ehrlich follow through with a Senate campaign, especially to a group of eleven people: the seven candidates who are already running for the Republican nomination to unseat the four-term incumbent (leading the way are Carmen Amedori, Jim Rutledge, and Eric Wargotz), the three men who explored but dropped out of the GOP race for governor (Mike Pappas, Larry Hogan, and Delegate Pat McDonough), and Brian Murphy, who might have the GOP nod handed to him as the only other active candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

(for more visit my Examiner.com site…)

Immigration sure to produce fireworks in General Assembly

Over the next week, Maryland’s contentious budget battles will have some competition in the acrimony department as foes of illegal immigration do battle with support groups like CASA de Maryland and the National Capital Immigrant Coalition.

At stake are bills dealing with the reporting requirements for detained criminal suspects and convicted prisoners already in the penal system related to their immigration status, broadening the scope of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws similar to the 287(g) program already in use by Frederick County, an effort to codify into law that non-citizens aren’t permitted to be registered as part of so-called “motor voter” registration, and English-only laws for both Baltimore and Harford counties.

(continued at my Examiner.com site…)

A new opportunity

Tonight I can announce that I’ve been blessed with another new writing opportunity, one which will hopefully grant me a larger audience – but one which may result in a slowdown of posting here.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to Eric Wargotz about a post I’d done when he suggested I apply for this opportunity because he believed I have the talent to be a good writer in that venue. It’s something I’d thought about peripherally but in coming from someone who I only knew a little bit this was more impressive – certainly I have supportive people from my sphere of friends and acquaintances who think I have talent but here was someone who is a frequent subject (and who knows I may not necessarily support him politically) making the comment. So a week ago I applied to Examiner.com and Friday I found out I’ve been selected – later this week you can look for my first article to appear there as the Baltimore Political Buzz Examiner. (Or, how about right now?)

Obviously it means I’ll have to gain a little more of a local (that is to say, state government) perspective but it also necessitates some changes. In truth, it really leads back to something I tried awhile back but didn’t care much for.

For a short time, I truncated some of my longer articles by breaking them up and using the “more…” tag at the bottom of the excerpt. Personally I prefer having my articles on the front page in toto, but here’s the rub: I’ll make a little bit (okay, perhaps a lot bit) more writing for the Examiner than I do here – however, I have the freedom to post at both.

I may not be the shrewdest businessman to come down the pike, but I realize where my bread is buttered – it’s not too smart to cannibalize my own stuff! So look for just a teaser paragraph here on my Examiner articles, the better to lead you to my page there. (This will probably be three to six articles a week.) Other stuff I do will remain here, but I may not get out 2-3 posts a day like I do on good days – being a good Examiner means I have to read a little more!

This practice will be a little bit like my procedure for my op-ed columns, where I wait until other editors have a crack at them before posting them myself. (I’ve noticed more and more places have been posting my LFS op-eds, which is rather encouraging – the first step to success is being in the regular rotation at a news outlet.)

I’ve rarely been short on things to say, but I have a hard time sometimes expressing gratitude to those who support me – certainly there’s a few who have been fans of my writing since its humble beginnings. (On the web this will be five years early next month, with monoblogue’s fifth anniversary in December.)

So please support my Examiner page and tell your friends! While it’s not the most lucrative thing I’ve ever done, being a writer means I’m rarely bored! As long as that shows up in my writing, I think I’ll do just fine.