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.
This week I had the opportunity to speak to Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, about a number of topics affecting both Maryland and the nation at large. We also spoke a little bit about Tom’s book, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government during our conversation.
monoblogue: The reason I wanted to talk to you – and I briefly got to talk to you at Turning the Tides, and got a copy of your book – what interested me in talking to you was your statement that you work as much in Maryland as you do any other state, based on all the petition drives and other political items we have – at the conference you talked about illegal immigration. Given that you’ve already been involved in our petition process, and knowing that the illegal immigration issue is off the table but that there will be more petitions on issues such as gun control – do you think you’ll be getting more involved in Maryland politics as time goes on?
Fitton: Well, some of these issues are off the table. Illegal immigration continues to be a debate on the law that was passed and upheld via referendum, (but) whether it’s legal or Constitutional I think is a question which could be further litigated. The Left in Maryland is upset with the use of the initiative process to challenge the legislation – some of which was very radical – that came out of the Maryland legislature and was signed by the Governor. They’re seeking to restrict the ability of Marylanders to have a say in their laws through this referendum process.
Obviously, with gun control most publicly on the agenda, that’s something the Left – if gun control is to be passed, there’s going to be heightened interest by the Left in restricting people’s ability to challenge and have a say on that law, or those gun restrictions.
monoblogue: Do you find Maryland is more of a “problem child” state than any other, or is it that it just so happens that it’s our turn in the cycle and maybe this time next year Illinois will be a problem, or New York, or what have you?
Fitton: Maryland doesn’t have any vibrant opposition; it’s a one-party state. That results in legislation and policies which aren’t as smart… in states where you have the vigorous back-and-forth between parties and philosophies, you get policies and legislation that is more commonsense and down the middle of the road. But Maryland seems to be a laboratory for the far left and, as a result, you get policies that are way out there, not only in terms of being bad policy, but even being good law in terms of being valid under the law.
monoblogue: So you’ll be more busy in our state than, say, an Alabama or Oklahoma – states that tend to be more conservative.
Fitton: Well, we are busy. In Maryland we’ve been extremely active, there’s been a lot of bad policy. I don’t want to attribute it to a political party, but certainly liberals are implementing their policies and the rule of law seems to be a secondary consideration in some of their implementations.
monoblogue: Yes, as you said at the conference, “bad policy is usually corrupt,” and Maryland does seem to take the cake – having lived here for several years I know this. You can also extrapolate that on a national level – you wrote The Corruption Chronicles, and that’s 350 pages of Obama’s misdeeds in just three years. (laughs) I don’t know if you’re going to write a second book on the second term, or do you think you have the point made already?
Fitton: Well, the book only touched the surface. We talked about the Clinton years’ corruption, corruption during the Bush years, and obviously the current crisis. This President represents a challenge to those of us who value Constitutional government and the rule of law; a challenge that we haven’t seen in recent memory.
monoblogue: True; like I said, you could write a second book for the second term – that’s not a problem. But I do want to point out that…
Fitton: Well, we could write a second book for the first term.
monoblogue: (laughs) That’s true.
Fitton: The government has grown by about a third, but oversight has actually decreased – Congress used to have five – well, you see this quoted in the book – five thousand oversight hearings a year, more or less, and now it’s down to about three thousand. So our government has increased by a third, but the oversight, at least Congressional oversight, has decreased by an even greater amount. Our government is really truly out of control in the sense that it’s not accountable to Congress and, frankly, if not for independent watchdogs like Judicial Watch and independent, enterprising media, you wonder what would be going on in Washington but for our activities given the lawlessness of so much of what the government’s doing.
monoblogue: Right. And I know from previously knowing a little bit about Judicial Watch (that) you guys are equal-opportunity; if a conservative President does something that you feel is unwise, you’re going to be on them, too. There were a few things you opposed President Bush on, so it’s not – you’re considered a conservative organization, but it’s very much a good-government organization.
Fitton: That’s right. And given the size of government, it’s always hard for it to be good. President Bush was, unfortunately, too much on the side of secrecy and lack of accountability. President Obama was elected, initially, in part as a reaction to that. And there’s good reason President Obama is always talking about transparency, because he understands the American people demanded it of their government. What we found is that his promises of transparency, his promotion of it, is completely at odds with actual policies.
monoblogue: Exactly, but that’s true of a lot of other things.
Fitton: That is true, but when it comes to issues of ethics, transparency, and accountability in government this administration presents challenges to us that we haven’t historically seen before, at least in recent times.
monoblogue: They don’t seem to be letting crises go to waste, that’s for sure. If you look at the problem as a whole, you oversee a large group that is obviously a watchdog, but maybe the better question – and something that could have been covered a little bit better in our brief time listening to you – is what can we do as a citizen about pointing out these things and getting the word out and helping to maybe rein in some of the excesses of government?
Fitton: Well, there are several things – obviously number one, if I can be provincial, is to support Judicial Watch. Secondly, you write letters to the editor to your media and elsewhere and alert your friends and family to these issues, about the importance of government accountability, transparency, and combating corruption, and you pressure Congress to do their job to oversee government activities and to make sure that they, themselves, in Congress are behaving appropriately, too. We see so many Congressional ethics scandals where the ethical transgressions are whisked away with a slap of the wrist – that’s got to end.
Whether you’re Democrat or Republican you care about these transparency and corruption issues; it’s most important that Democrats go after Democrat corruption or Republicans after Republican corruption, because, obviously, Republicans and Democrats have an interest in going after corruption in the other guy’s party, but they don’t look at the speck in their own eyes. It’s up to everyday Americans who are members of these parties and who have influence to say we’ve got to make sure we don’t have any corruption on our side of the table. We have to take partisanship out of policing corruption.
monoblogue: That sounds like a good plan, because many people I know, mostly Republicans but a few Democrats, they’re as interested in good government as I am. Yes, we disagree on the extent of government, but they would like to see clean government that’s efficient, does what it says it’s going to do, and is transparent. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the higher people are in power, the more they want to obfuscate.
Fitton: I agree, and we need the expectation – we have to have the understanding that we’re just not going to tolerate this anymore. Zero tolerance – I hate that phrase…
monoblogue: I do too.
Fitton: …but we have to have a much lower level of toleration for corruption in public office.
monoblogue: So, unfortunately, it seems like you have a neverending job taking care of the mess in both Annapolis and Washington. (laughs) And other state capitals, too.
Fitton: Well, it’s a – oversight and making sure our systems of government run well and are free of corruption certainly is an obligation to anyone who wants to be part of a society that purports to govern itself. I think it’s an obligation, and government has to be managed by its citizens, and be held accountable all the time. So we can never cease the vigilance; it’s the price of citizenship in some ways – citizenship properly understood in areas of making sure the government’s held to account if you really, truly believe in self-government.
monoblogue: We have to be as watchful as you are, is basically what you’re saying.
Fitton: Everyone needs to ask questions, demand accountability, demand information, and demand transparency. I think it comes with the territory for a republican form of government, with a small “r.”
monoblogue: Yes, with a small “r.” But I appreciate this, and it sounds like a good place to stop.
Fitton: Well, thanks Michael. I appreciate your interest in our work, and thanks for promoting it.
monoblogue: I appreciate the time.
While I have a guest in mind for next week, the arrangements haven’t been finalized. Stay tuned.
Perhaps rainy days and Mondays always get you down, but this potpourri of snippets I’ve collected over the last couple weeks will hopefully brighten your day. As always, they’re items which merit anywhere from a paragraph to four to five.
First of all, you are probably aware that Indiana and Michigan are the two latest states to throw the yoke of forced unionism off their workers and adopt right-to-work laws, with Pennsylvania also strongly considering such a measure. Conversely, I’m not hearing about hitherto right-to-work states making much of an effort to close their shops, which should tell you something.
And while Maryland is not a state one would consider a candidate ripe for such a refreshing change, there is a bill out there to bring our state out of the unionized Dark Ages and join other states where workers are free to choose affiliation regardless of where they work.
Best of all, this news comes from one of my favorite counties to cover, Cecil County. HB318 is being heard tomorrow, and their Republican Party leadership under county Chair Chris Zeauskas has taken a bold stand on the issue. They’re calling out Delegate David Rudolph, the Vice-Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, as “bought and paid for by compulsory unionism – and that’s wrong.” Certainly the unions donate thousands and thousands of dollars to state politicians, most of which goes to Democrats.
But the question I have is more local. To what extent has Big Labor “bought and paid for” Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm “Five Dollar” Conway, or State Senator Jim Mathias – the king of across-the-Bay fundraisers? Surely a significant portion of their largess comes from the coffers of workers who may not necessarily prefer these policies be enacted. HB318 can help change that, but my guess is – if they get to vote on it at all (neither Cane nor Conway is on Economic Matters) – they’ll play along with the union line like good little minions.
Meanwhile, our tone-deaf governor doesn’t get it on wind farms, and I had to chuckle when I saw even the Washington Post admits Big Wind “(d)evelopers and industry analysts say those and other (subsidy) concessions will make the project reliant on further federal tax incentives or help from other states to make it profitable.” At a quarter per kilowatt hour, you better believe it needs a subsidy. Yet the Post believes it’s “likely to pass.” That depends on the level of sanity in the General Assembly; yes, a dubious precipice to cling to, but one nonetheless.
And here I thought wind was free – that’s what people tell me, anyway.
I also thought Maryland had a top-notch school system, but President Obama’s Department of Education begs to differ. This nugget came to me from Change Maryland, which continues to occupy that little place in Martin O’Malley’s mind reserved for those who have pwned him:
In the second year of the $5 billion Race to the Top initiative, the Obama Administration singled out Maryland, Washington D.C. and Georgia as coming up short on progress in fundamental areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland did not set clear expectations for the 2011-2012 school year in the development of a teacher and principal evaluation system which rendered the data meaningless and inconsistent. Lack of coordination between the state and local school districts was cited as the primary reason for the data collection failure.
“I would like to see Gov. O’Malley reach out to President Obama while he has his attention… and seek assistance on properly implementing the Race to the Top initiative,” said (Change Maryland head Larry) Hogan. “Our students and their parents deserve a way to measure how effective their teachers are.”
I have one bone to pick with that approach, though. I would really rather not have a dependence on federal money or a federal role for education, which is more properly a state- and local-level concern. But there should be some consistency in evaluations so that underperforming teachers and principals don’t lead to underperforming schools – unfortunately, that seems to be more and more the case.
And here’s yet another example of state incompetence. On Thursday, State Senator E.J. Pipkin blasted a process which shut out hundreds of people from testifying against SB281, the gun bill:
We can’t turn away people who take the day off, drive for hours and wait even longer, to have their voices heard. Turning away interested citizens in such a manner further fuels cynicism about our legislative process. Next time, they might not come back.
Yesterday, a system that can accommodate 100, 200, or 300 people, broke down when numbers reached into the thousands.
Thousands couldn’t get into the Senate’s Miller building to sign in to testify. Those who signed in but left the building were unable to reenter. At the end of the evening, some who stayed 10 to 12 hours, were brought through the committee room, allowed to say their name, home town, and whether they supported or opposed the legislation. (Emphasis mine.)
The reason I put part of the above statement in bold: that’s what they want. The majority – not just in the General Assembly, but in Congress and 49 other state capitols as well – really would rather we just leave them alone to do what they do, enriching themselves and a chosen few cronies while leaving the rest of us to pay for it and suffer the consequences of their actions.
Now for something completely different. Several years ago, I copied a late, lamented blog whose owner is no longer with us in offering “Sunday evening reading.” Well, today is Monday but there are some items I wanted to include that I read and felt they would add to the well-informed conversation in some way.
My old friend Jane Van Ryan (who I thought “retired” but seems now as active as ever) sent along the link to this piece by Paul Driessen which discusses the concept of “sustainability.” She thought I would have something to say about it, and I do.
Driessen’s main point is that the concept of “sustainability” as preached by Radical Green doesn’t take into account future technology. It would be like watching “Back to the Future” knowing that it was filmed three decades ago but set in the modern day today – for example, who drives a DeLorean these days? Sometimes their predictions seem quite humorous, but we know technology has taken many turns they couldn’t predict when the movie was written and filmed.
While oil, gas, and coal are “old” technologies, who’s to say we can’t improve on them? As long as there is a supply which comes to us at reasonable cost, you can’t beat their reliability when compared to wind which may not blow (or gale too hard) and the sun which seems to be stubbornly parked behind a bank of clouds as I write this. Instead of dead-ends like the E15 technology which ruins engines (but is acceptable to Radical Green) why not work with what works?
But perhaps there is a sense of foreboding brought on by the Radical Green propaganda of a collapsing ecosystem. One way this manifests itself is by a lack of willingness to have children, which goes in well with the decaying culture of life in this country.
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, author Jonathan Last advanced his theory that our nation is heading down the same road as other moribund industrialized nations – not necessarily because of policy, but because of falling birthrates. According to Last, we as a nation have been below the replacement birthrate for most of the last forty years. Whether this is through abortion or other lifestyle choices isn’t important to him; instead, it’s become an ongoing problem of our population aging – as Jonathan puts it, “(l)ow-fertility societies don’t innovate because their incentives for consumption tilt increasingly toward health care.” Put another way, those energy advances I write about above may not appear because more demand will come for health-related technology advancements.
Instead, what has primarily increased our population over the last few decades is immigration, a large part of it illegal. Normally I’m right with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but I have to disagree with their stance on E-Verify. I can understand their point regarding civil liberties, but no one says mandatory E-Verify has to be permanent. Instead, I would like to see it set up to be a five-year plan with one possible five-year renewal – this would give us ample time to secure the borders and address those who are already here illegally. (Ideally, they would return to their country of origin and reapply to come here legally.)
Understandably, that may be a pipe dream but I’d prefer not to reward lawbreakers in a nation built on the rule of law. We have enough of that already given the greed of the redistributionist state.
And so ends another edition of odds and ends, right around the length I like.
If you don’t like the narrative, change it. That’s what proponents of in-state tuition for illegal aliens did in Maryland, resulting in the passage of Question 4 last fall. It became an issue of “fairness” rather than an issue of rewarding lawbreakers.
For Action Against America is trying this tactic on a national scale, with an e-mail from Jose Magana asking “where’s your family from?” (The answer in my case: Toledo, Ohio.)
I was brought to this country from Mexico when I was 2 years old.
I am an undocumented immigrant — and I am living proof that our immigration system is broken.
For the first 17 years of my life, I slept on a couch. My mom worked three jobs to support our family.
I worked hard, too. I did my homework, participated in class, and earned the opportunity go to college. But after I enrolled, state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out. Suddenly they could no longer afford the education they were eager to work for.
We started organizing. We’d go up to people on campus, and ask them if they’d heard about the DREAM Act, which would allow hard-working immigrants who grew up in the U.S. to earn a path to citizenship. For those who opposed it, we’d tell them what happened to us.
It was amazing: Just telling our stories would change people’s minds.
This is exactly how we’re going to persuade people across the country to get behind President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
Everyone has a story — I’m sure you do, too. As the President said last week, “Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you.”
At this critical moment, will you share your immigration story? Organizing for Action will use these stories to move the conversation forward.
Now, almost six years later, I’ve completed law school and was fortunate to receive deferred action. I consider myself an American, and I want to play by the same rules as everyone else. But, as it stands, I can never become a citizen. I can’t adjust my status. For most of my life, I could have been arrested, detained, and deported.
I’m not alone. Millions of undocumented immigrants like me live in fear of being deported permanently to a country we may have never even visited. Our entire lives could be erased.
You might not live under the same shadow. But the best thing about this country is that we are more alike than we are different. We all have a story of a mother, or grandfather, or great-great grandparent who came here to find opportunity or safety.
Through this grassroots movement, we can raise our voices, tell our stories, and make sure Congress and all Americans better understand the ties that bind us. Our stories can drive our organizing. Share your own story today, and help Organizing for Action get the word out on why this matters:
The majority of Americans agree we need to fix our badly broken system, and we saw major progress last week. But it’s on us to keep up the momentum and make sure it gets done.
Thanks for speaking up.
As usual, the links return to the my.barackobama.com domain, which is still active even though he won four months ago.
But to me what’s more important is what’s missing. For example, why was mom working three jobs? First of all, someone obviously hired her not knowing (or not caring) about her immigration status. Did she get a driver’s license, Social Security number, and so forth illegally? In and of itself, crossing the border illegally is not a serious crime – but forgery and passing yourself off as another person is. How about Jose? What sort of documents does he possess since he came here illegally?
Listen, I’m glad he went to law school. Hopefully what he learned there is that we are a nation of laws, and his very presence here violates a fair number of them.
So when immigrants are beseeched to share their stories, it’s not to “move the conversation forward.” It’s to obfuscate the fact that millions upon millions are here illegally. That’s a slap in the face to those who did things the right way for their American dream. I want to say it was my great-grandparents who came here from Germany and Poland; granted, the laws were much different back at the turn of the last century but undesirables could – and were – sent packing back to their homelands, even in that era.
Sadly, for all his good qualities, Jose seems to be the exception to the rule. He’s obviously one of those who got the pseudo-amnesty (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Barack Obama last year so he wouldn’t have to go back to Mexico.
But let’s turn the story on its head. How fair do you think it is he got the preferential treatment of a tuition break, at least until, as he states, “state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out.” (We don’t know which state.) Presumably they no longer received the in-state tuition break meant for students who lived in-state legally.
More importantly: how fair is it that he can work legally (thanks to DAFCA) but his mother cannot?
Another thing we don’t know: how many brothers and sisters does Jose have, particularly those who were fortunate enough to be born here as “anchor babies.” Doesn’t matter who the dad is, he could be illegal, too. (Sort of like an alternate take on the “Julia” character from Obama’s campaign, we know nothing about what Jose’s father did for the family.)
In short, because the illegal alien advocates can’t win on the facts, the Obama administration recruited one of the few who seems to want to assimilate into American culture as a friendly, non-threatening spokesperson for the effort. But there’s a big difference between his generation and that of my ancestors who came from Europe. Of course, both had a language barrier and both were willing to work hard to make ends meet at “jobs Americans wouldn’t do.”
But the children of my ancestors wanted to be American, so much so that there’s very little which belies my family’s ethnic heritage besides the name and my dad’s longtime enjoyment of polka music. Aside from that, we were thoroughly American two generations removed.
Instead, in this day and age many who come here, whether through cultural or religious preference, have two to three generations who maintain the ways of their homeland. Rather than actively seek to assimilate, they would rather America adapt to suit them. Growing up we weren’t subjected to bilingual society, nor was anyone else outside a few limited enclaves within large cities (like Chinatown.)
But in my travels, particularly along U.S. 13 south into Virginia, I find a number of businesses which cater to the 9 percent of Accomack County residents who do not speak English at home – the signage is in Spanish. (Amazingly, nationwide this number is at 20 percent.) One would think those who don’t speak English would want to be part of the 90-plus percent who do; that’s always been the norm. And I’m aware that the actual number of Spanish-speaking residents who reside there is probably double what the official Census data I looked up shows; even so, the vast majority speak English.
In the end, though, it’s about politics. Both parties believe that bending over backwards to cater to the Latino population will win them votes; however, Republicans – who are traditionally immigration and border security hawks – risk alienating more of their base than they would win among Latino voters. And Democrats know it, which is why the push to make immigration an emotional issue rather than a rational one. That’s the only way they can win.
If we are a nation of laws, Jose Magana goes back to Mexico. As a law student, he has the skills to get a green card and return to work here legally but I believe he should return to his native country to pursue the option.
Obviously some will howl that it’s not fair he has to do this, but the lesson here is life’s not fair. Some of us were blessed to be born in America, others go through the legal process to become naturalized, and still others choose to stay here temporarily. But they should do it legally, and that’s where Jose is lacking. Say “no way” to Jose and his sob story.
I probably gave Jackie Wellfonder short shrift late last night in updating my post on the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. She did her own take on what was said by MDGOP First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman at the meeting, to which I responded with a lengthy comment I’m going to repost here, along with some other thoughts.
I read your message and mostly agree, particularly as it relates to the 2012 campaign. But my hope is that the MDGOP has learned from its mistakes because we left a LOT of cards on the table: not just Dan’s campaign, but the ballot issues as well.
Woody Willing of the Wicomico Board of Elections said last night we Republicans had 81% turnout and the Democrats had 75%. In rough numbers that means locally we turned out about 16,000 voters but the Democrats turned out 19,000. What we need to figure out by 2014 is how to get that turnout number up to 90% or 95% on our side in order to overcome a numerical disadvantage – statewide we need to get 100% just to be even with 50% of the Democrats. That’s the reality in Maryland in 2013.
I think the ballot issues are going to be key. Let’s look at the potential ballot issues for 2014 just from what’s been introduced in the General Assembly so far: onerous gun control measures and a tightening of the very petition process for starters. If we couch the gun control issue properly and don’t allow the other side the chance to seize the narrative (as they did on the illegal alien issue) we have a chance to turn out a high percentage of voters in an election where turnout is historically lower (I think it’s on the order of 15-20% less for a gubernatorial election than a Presidential.)
But the Republican Party in Maryland needs to be taken over further by those who love liberty. There’s still plenty of deadwood which needs to go.
As for Julie’s comment, I would like to point out that Nicolee Ambrose worked to scrap the terrible rules put in place at the national convention (she couldn’t vote there because she didn’t take office until the close of the proceedings.) I don’t think Audrey Scott would have taken that sort of leadership role since I perceive her as part of the problem. I appreciate the fact Audrey’s done a lot for the MDGOP but I think we made the better choice. If Audrey had been more honest in her campaign, she still may have prevailed.
We knew that change wouldn’t happen overnight, but the more quickly we can push the MDGOP in the RIGHT direction the better.
As it turned out my public school, quick and dirty math was pretty good since I didn’t have the actual totals in front of me – in accessing those numbers I found there were 19,359 Democrats and 16,798 Republicans who voted in Wicomico County (along with 6,291 who are unaffiliated or belong to minor parties.)
Yet there were other numbers of interest to me. Based on that number of Democrats voting:
- Barack Obama received just 276 more votes than the total number of Democrats who voted. Presumably he got some percentage of the unaffiliated vote, so my bet is that at least 10 percent of the Democrats voted for Mitt Romney.
- Ben Cardin’s percentage as relates to Democrats (87.7%) was less than the number of Republicans who voted for Dan Bongino (89.7%) – using my theory of 3/5 of the Sobhani vote being taken from Bongino, a two-person race would been practically a draw here. That’s somewhat disappointing, but name recognition being what it is maybe not a complete shock.
- Combining the total of Wendy Rosen and write-in votes (which were almost exclusively for Democrat John LaFerla) would still leave the Democrats over 3,000 short of matching their voting total. Obviously plenty of Democrats and unaffiliated voters like the conservative Andy Harris, despite the constant barrage of criticism he gets from the Daily Times.
In short, the 2010 and 2012 election results belie the voter registration totals which would suggest that Wicomico County is, if not a Democratic stronghold, at least a place where they should hold a majority of the offices. But they don’t. We have attracted enough Democrats with a message of fiscal conservatism and sound government that either the Republicans win, or Democrats who manage to succeed have to do so by presenting themselves as the second coming of Ronald Reagan. (cough*Jim Mathias*cough) They have to hope people don’t look behind the curtain at their voting records and lists of special interest contributors from across the Bay.
So let’s talk about this “circular firing squad.” We really have three groups of Republicans in the state of Maryland:
- Those who believe that, in order to be “electable,” we have to appeal to soccer moms, metrosexuals, and other centrist or left-of-center groups. They pine for the days of a Connie Morella, Wayne Gilchrest, or “Mac” Mathias – Republicans who reached across the aisle. Well, guess what? These groups are voting Democrat now and that’s not going to change unless we give them a better option. All reaching across the aisle seems to accomplish nowadays is collecting bite marks from the attack dog across the way. Democrats take what little credit there may be for stealing GOP ideas, but when things go wrong – as they always seem to with these schemes – they figure out ways to blame the Republicans.
- There’s a group, perhaps the smallest of the three, which preaches fiscal conservatism but would dearly loves us to quit focusing on social issues. Who cares, they say, about how easy it is to get an abortion or whether two gay people get married. And why have this crackdown on illegal aliens – they have Republican values and just don’t know it. (If that were so, California would be a solidly Republican state. It’s not.)
- Finally, there is the group in which I count myself, one which realizes that fiscal conservatism isn’t truly possible without social conservatism. We would like to see the return to traditional marriage and a reverence for life and the law, free from onerous government interference in our lives. We would like to see counties be restored to their rightful primacy in the role of government rather than become meaningless lines on a map; moreover, that government should respect our inalienable rights, including the right to defend ourselves from threats ranging anywhere from a home intruder to a tyrannical government.
I daresay group #3 are the leaders, and we take the fire from both sides – at least Democrats are facing us, though. The bullets we get in the back are from those groups behind us, the ones who belong to GOP groups #1 and #2.
I’m going to paraphrase something Rush Limbaugh is noted for saying, which goes along the lines of those who the Democrats talk most about are the ones they’re most afraid of. Notice they really didn’t badmouth Mitt Romney too much until he secured the nomination, and they were in love with John McCain almost as much as they were Barack Obama – until Sarah Palin became McCain’s running mate. They’re still hounding Palin one whole election cycle later, in a race she didn’t run or compete in. (They were considerably more kind to Paul Ryan, although we heard a lot about how awful the Ryan budget plan would be. Obviously that was a move in the right direction, though.)
Without conceding the vote entirely, I will say that there’s perhaps 1/3 of the Maryland electorate which is so far left that they would literally vote for Lucifer himself if he had a “D” beside his name and promised to keep the spigot of government goodies intact regardless of cost. (Just raise taxes on the rich, he’ll say.) Perhaps they’re not Left politically, but if they work for Uncle Sam in that cesspool on the Potomac they may as well be. Still, that leaves about 35 percent of Maryland voters in play and we only need to capture half of that group while maximizing our loyalty and turnout.
But going back to my previous paragraph where I alluded to Rush, one has to ask: how often do you hear the Democrats talking about Republicans in this state? I don’t really hear them talking about us too much, which seems to indicate to me they’re not really scared of us.
And when they do talk about us, they generally say that we shouldn’t be as strident on social issues. How often would you take advice from someone who wants to beat your brains in? Sounds to me like they have no answers for the logical arguments we give for these issues, so they’re just going to tell us we shouldn’t bring it up.
Well, I want to start being a topic of conversation among them, and the milquetoast Maryland GOP better start holding their fire until they see the whites of the Democrats’ eyes, not the backs of those who would like to lead them in the RIGHT direction.
Yesterday was a good day at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.
Somehow I had managed to miss the first two renditions of Turning the Tides, but when this year’s date was announced I pounced on making my way into the event this year. Part of this was the opportunity to network with over 200 of the state’s finest conservative minds, but part of it was a guest list dotted with nationally recognized speakers.
Unlike the many GOP conventions I had attended in the same building, there were no hospitality suites on Friday night. Turning The Tides was a one-day affair, which started with a breakfast I unfortunately missed. But I was set up on bloggers’ row next to a variety of state and local bloggers (including my “biggest fan” Jackie Wellfonder,) which gave me the opportunity to live-Tweet the event throughout.
The Tweets didn’t take long to build up steam once we dispensed with the preliminaries and heard from our first guest speaker, the exceptionally quotable Pamela Geller. Most people know Geller from her website Atlas Shrugs, which briefly covered TTT here, but she has been a tireless leader in the ongoing battle against radical Islam. (If you follow the link you can also see the extent of the crowd in the conference.)
Pamela praised the conference attendees, who she termed “smeared, defamed, and marginalized for standing in defense of freedom” by the “enemedia.” Her key point was defending the freedom of speech, without which “peaceful men have no alternative but to turn to violence.”
“Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it,” she continued, “Withdraw your sanction.” She also called Delegate Nic Kipke, who ignored a boycott call by the pro-Islamic group CAIR, a “rare bird in today’s environment (because) truth is the new hate speech, and just telling the truth is an extreme act.”
She went on to explain how she purchased ad space on the New York subway in response to anti-Israel ads, but was rebuffed because “the word ‘savage’ was demeaning. So I had to sue…and I won on all points. Freedom of speech protects all ideas.” Ten of her ads were destroyed within an hour, which she termed “a physical manifestation of this war on free speech.”
She also detailed her battle against the Ground Zero mosque, telling us the images of 9-11 have been “embargoed” because they offend Islamic sensitivities. “You defeated that mosque (when) everyone was against you.”
Yet there is a “sea change” occurring in attitude, she said, citing how comments used to be highly stacked against her, but now run strongly in her favor.
“No war has ever been won on defense,” she continued. She begged us to use our “spheres of influence” to fight this fight. “Silence is sanction.” We have to contest acceptance of Shari’a, since Mohammed “ain’t my prophet.”
Geller finished by taking a number of great questions on anti-Shari’a legislation, a nuclear-armed Iran, and the “cultural war” of politics which will include the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.
The next speaker, author Diana West, touched on the Current TV sale in her opening remarks as well, as well as the foreign ownership of Fox News. But her remarks centered on her choice in foreign policy, of which she remarked “I’m debuting it here” – with one option to follow the “neoconservative” foreign policy based on universal values. “This has been a disaster.” The other side was a more libertarian-style idea: “I subscribe to ‘coming home America,’” said West, but they suffer the same flaw in that negotiations with Islamic nations “worse than fruitless (and) dangerous to our liberty.”
It begins with love of country, said West, and we would keep the allies with the closest philosophical views. But it would require one radical change: “It would…require leaving the United Nations.” (That was perhaps her best applause line, which she said did far better here than the “blank stares” she gets at the Washington Times.)
It would also be designed with the interests of the American people in mind. “We should fight for the American people.” Instead, we’ve begun to negotiate with terrorists, defend Shari’a-based regimes, and tell our military to look askance at “absolute outrages against American beliefs and sensibilities” in Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.
“And why? Why – nobody’s answered this – why did the Obama administration lie for two weeks that lawfully-protected free speech in America caused the Benghazi attacks?,” asked West. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions?”
The key question, said West, was whether we were fighting abroad to protect liberty at home. “American interests have been blown to smithereens” by leadership, Diana asserted. Our borders are “essentially open” while National Guard troops protect Afghan citizens. Moreover, this is a contradiction to American values because 3/4 of Hispanics want bigger government while just 2/5 of the population at large feels the same.
West outlined a number of changes she would make, from a secretive foreign policy without much Congressional oversight over “a President run amok.”
“I have not seen terrible damage from Wikileaks,” she continued. “I have seen much corruption and lies on the part of our public officials.”
“I don’t believe that’s the way a republic functions. That needs to change,” said Diana. The war of our next generation is not the one we’re fighting, but a war against Shari’a. “Liberty is imperiled right here in our back yard,” said West, who also called the Islamization of Europe “the great uncovered story of our time.”
Our first group discussion panel, moderated by writer and columnist Marta Mossburg, featured a solid bank of speakers: Frederick County Commission president (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young, writer and author Stanley Kurtz, and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.
Young started out in a jovial manner, joking about the Geller controversy and about once being a Democrat: “Well, everybody can be misinformed, ill-advised, and brainwashed.” But he turned more serious about his assigned topic, telling those gathered “I’m a very pro-property rights person, always have been…property rights is where I’m at.”
Stemming from the very first attack on property rights, zoning, which began in the 1920s and has been accepted in most places – Young pointed out Garrett County is an unzoned exception – Blaine turned to the state as it stands and told us “we’ve never seen an attack like this on the state level,” referring to PlanMaryland. “This is a tool, to slow down the rural areas for growth.”
But Young’s most brilliant point was equating things done “for the Bay” with laws passed “for the children.” As I Tweeted:
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) January 12, 2013
Indeed, I have mentioned this a number of times over the years – here’s one. Great minds think alike?
Stanley Kurtz quickly asserted that “President Obama is not a fan of the suburbs.” As a community organizer, those who mentored Obama had the main goal was to abolish them because they were drawing away tax money rightfully belonging to the cities. To that end, Obama “has been a huge supporter” of that movement. “Barack Obama wants to redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities,” said Stanley. He identified the philosophy as the “regional equity movement.”
But among the federal programs imposed on the state, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is perhaps the one affecting Maryland the most. “Nobody pays attention to the Sustainable Communities Initiative,” despite the fact Baltimore was a “regional planning grant” recipient. It’s a program where the federal government pays for regional planning, such as PlanMaryland but on a smaller scale. The goal, though, is to make the receipt of federal aid contingent on adopting these plans, much like schools which accept federal money do so with stipulations placed on them.
And while everyone has heard of Agenda 21, not so many are familiar with the workings of the Smart Growth movement, concluded Kurtz. “Conservatives are missing where the real threat is coming from,” warned Kurtz, “We haven’t studied the home-grown (regional equity) movements.”
But Rothschild was the most strident speaker. “The question of the War on Rural Maryland begs a bigger question: why does this happen?” Richard went on to postulate that it happens “because we let them.”
“Those people that disrespect the Bible and the Constitution are invariably the ones who know the least about either of them,” said Rothschild. “We (conservatives) are abdicating our responsibilities at all levels of government to do what needs to be done.”
“Being a Constitutionalist requires practice,” opined Richard. Elected officials need to ask themselves not just ‘what would Jesus do,’ but a second question: what would Jefferson do?
Elected officials aren’t trained to uphold their oath of office and the Constitution. “We’re not thinking the right way.” As an example, he stood alone in his county in an effort to nullify SB236. A further test was when he went to the recent Maryland Association of Counties meeting and asked six random county officials about what they would do if an order was passed down to confiscate guns in their county.
“Three of them said they don’t know, and the other three said they would resign from office,” Richard charged. “Not one said they would nullify, interpose, or engage their locally elected sheriff to defend their citizens’ Constitutional rights.” That was the fundamental problem.
Richard even spoke on comments he made regarding the SB236 Tier IV opt-out provision proposed right here in Wicomico County. (The original post is on the Conduit Street blog.) “They do this because we let them…we are tolerating the intolerable.”
“I don’t negotiate one-sided contracts…we shouldn’t even engage,” Richard opined, “Constitutional rights are non-negotiable.” Rothschild vowed to work with the Institute on the Constitution to put together a training course on how to uphold their oath of office.
“(Liberal groups are) going to spend a fortune to try to defeat like Blaine and people like me during the next election because they hate us,” Richard concluded to a raucous standing ovation. And he’s right.
The final session of the morning discussed the “War on Jobs,” with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and Delegate Nic Kipke, who was introduced as a member of the Maryland Health Reform Coordinating Council. Fitton focused on illegal immigration while Kipke naturally looked at Obamacare. “Nic knows more about Obamacare than the legislators who voted for it in 2010,” noted moderator Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland.
Fitton described his work with Help Save Maryland and other legal groups interested in upholding the idea that workplaces should have workers here legally. But that fight began with Montgomery County Community College giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “They thought they could get away with it,” noted Fitton. A nice thing about Maryland law, he continued, was that it has a provision allowing citizens standing to sue the government to prevent illegal expenditures of funds.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to illegal aliens who can’t work, stated Tom, “Maryland is a magnet for illegal immigration, and the impact on jobs is obvious.” Most affected were the construction trades where the majority of contractors, who are law-abiding, are “competing against crooks.”
“It’s a racket” to keep certain politicians in office, Fitton charged. And speaking of Maryland politics specifically, Tom also alleged there was corruption behind the passage of the ballot initiatives. “(O’Malley) was using his office to promote the approval of the referenda,”
Tom also had kudos for Delegate Neil Parrott, who he’d worked with on the ballot issues, calling him an important figure in Maryland democracy. “We’ve been proud to stand with him,” Fitton beamed.
The lesson here, Fitton said, was that the illegal immigration issue is not automatically a turnoff to Hispanics. He cited polling data which said, in the most recent election, 40% of Hispanics “agreed with the idea of an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration.” It was 13 points more than Romney received among Hispanics at large. “This is a majority issue for us,” Fitton claimed.
“We’re really in a battle for our lives in a lot of ways,” Kipke opened. “It used to be we were in a battle for our rights, but we’re also in a battle for our way of life.”
He went through a couple examples of the “trainwreck” of Obamacare, one being the fact that the age breakdowns – lumping everyone from age 21 to 60 in a group – will create a spike in rates making insurance unaffordable to young people. (One estimate pegs the additional cost as anywhere from $280 to $400 a month.) “It’s almost designed to fail,” said Kipke.
The second problem is that the exchanges will essentially all offer the same programs – health insurance has to be approved by and purchased from the state – generally these are the “richest packages available.” At this time, Maryland is one of just eight states with an exchange in place. “If Obama is successful, health insurance will be purchased through the state, and it will be the state design,” Kipke said.
The Delegate urged us to use him and Delegate Parrott as a conduit to the General Assembly. “If you have access to technology, you should see the stuff that goes on. Bring a camera, we’ll tell you where to stand and we’ll put you up in front of the next Delegate who embraces socialism. We’d love to get that on video.”
That brought us to the lunch break. While most of us grabbed a quick bite to eat, there was a lot going on both inside and outside the lobby.
On the inside, a total of fifteen groups had information tables and other items set up. Here are a few of those:
In order, these were Accuracy in Media, Defend Life, Maryland Republican Network, and Election Integrity Maryland. Other groups in attendance were the Franklin Center (sponsor of Bloggers’ Row), the Red Maryland Network – which did a live broadcast from the lobby – Institute on the Constitution, Americans for Fair Taxation, Montgomery County Republicans, Stop Agenda 21, Help Save Maryland, the Leadership Institute, Maryland Legislative Watch, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and Conservative Victory PAC.
There were also merchants, with event T-shirts and Breitbart design shirts on sale.
We also had a chance to meet some of the speakers and purchase their books.
From left to right, represented were Stanley Kurtz, Diana West, Pamela Geller (crouched), and Tom Fitton. Dun Scott (husband of organizer Cathy Trauernicht) is standing in the center; thanks to Ann Corcoran for the correction.
As I noted, there was also action outside the building. The CAIR protest of Pamela Geller finally showed up two hours after she finished speaking. (Photo by and courtesy of Jackie Wellfonder.)
Yet the ten protesters got media attention. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the TV stations would have showed up.
So that’s where we stood as lunch concluded. In part 2 I’ll cover the four intriguing seminars which occurred afterward and the closing remarks by Jim Rutledge.
Even though the advertisement doesn’t specifically mention Question 4, it’s obvious NumbersUSA has that sort of issue in mind when it created this spot targeted at the black community.
Undoubtedly NumbersUSA takes a very dim view of immigration, but the point is still a good one in light of the recent Obama decision to change the status of over a million illegal aliens between the ages of 16 and 30. That’s the group competing with the black population this spot is aimed at for common labor jobs, and as many in the field contend, driving down wages.
The same argument can also be made for in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Considering that a state-sponsored college education is a finite resource because the state can only afford a certain number of classrooms, instructors, and the like, a case can be made that every illegal alien given a spot under the Maryland DREAM Act denies another person a place in the school. Contrary to popular belief, a college education is not a right, and the difference being made is strictly a financial one. The Maryland DREAM Act simply rewards breaking the law and encourages more to try and game the system.
Yet if someone doesn’t have the benefit of legal citizenship or a paper saying they should be here, there’s nothing stopping them from going to college in Maryland – they just don’t qualify for in-state tuition based on existing state law. In essence, these students are glorified exchange students.
Since I’m discussing Question 4, it’s a good time to briefly speak to a so-called “study” claiming the state of Maryland would gain money from the “DREAMers” (as illegal alien apologist Kim Propeack calls them.) Unless something changes in federal law (read: amnesty) the presumed gains from illegal alien children taking well-paying jobs won’t materialize because they won’t legally be able to work in many high-paying occupations.
Brad Botwin of the advocacy group Help Save Maryland also pointed out an important fact about the UMBC study:
Who actually sponsored and paid for this weighty report and supplied those wonderful assumptions to our senior UMBC Professors? Casa of Maryland? The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)? the Maryland Democratic Party? (the big three of Educating Maryland Kids – the front group for illegal immigrants demanding in-state tuition).
What did our research uncover? An even better surprise! Governor O’Malley’s own Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation was the anonymous sponsor. Yes, our tax dollars hard at work again sanctioning another lawless activity to help attract more illegal immigrants to our state. The same Labor Department that was actively promoting the so-called Dream Act while it was being debated in Annapolis last year.
There’s nothing wrong with a governor or a state agency advocating for a law. But it’s interesting how little Martin O’Malley has been out front pushing voters to support these ballot issues. Perhaps he knows the end result and doesn’t want to damage his 2016 hopes?
Of course we all know that if any or all of these ill-conceived issues somehow pass, O’Malley will march to the front of the line for taking credit. I’d rather he eat a heaping helping of crow.
On Wednesday night, sliced in among the debate spin on the local news, you may have seen a few sound bites spliced out of the debate held by PACE at Salisbury University. The topic: in-state tuition for illegal aliens – and yes, “illegal aliens” is the correct legal term.
Moderator Fran Kane of PACE was flanked by four participants, two taking the side for Question 4 and two against. Both sides had a Delegate and an expert, with the pro-Question 4 side featuring Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez of Montgomery County and Kim Propeack of illegal alien advocates CASA de Maryland. The pair against Question 4 were Delegate Pat McDonough of Baltimore County and Bob Dane of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
McDonough drew the opening statement for his side, making the case the debate is about another dream: the American dream. While Pat stated he was “firmly and vigorously pro-immigration,” he stated the case based on two principles: the rule of law and economic justice. Regarding the latter, “you will hear a lot of emotional and compassionate arguments” in favor of the law, but warned “you cannot govern a great nation on emotionalism.”
Bob Dane explained the purpose of FAIR, making the brash statement that “we don’t give a damn about business and their addiction to cheap immigrant labor.” The question before us, though, was one of whether to respect the rule of law or bend it to allow lawbreaking. “Being an illegal alien in Maryland is a pretty good proposition,” said Dane.
Speaking for the pro-illegal side, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez called the ballot language (which was projected on a screen beside the participants) a “wonderful summary,” claiming “there’s a lot of misinformation out there.” The bill is similar to one vetoed by then-Governor Ehrlich in 2003, Gutierrez continued, and the law applies to those here “through no fault of their own” who graduated from a Maryland high school and enrolled in community college. Moreover, those taking advantage had to have parents who filed their taxes (she started to say “paid” but caught herself) and promised to apply for permanent residency afterward.
Propeack added that the out-of-state tuition was three times the expense, which had to be paid entirely out of pocket because illegals were ineligible for aid. “We can talk about the rule of law,” Propeack countered, “but this law is broken.” Kim went on to emphasize the “diversity of support” the law had; everyone from CASA de Maryland (a “worker justice organization,” as she described it) to the unions which supported the Maryland DREAM Act “without exception.” Even 25 high schools around the state filled with what Kim referred to as “DREAMers” were supporting the ballot issue as well as a row seated within the audience.
At this point, the questions solicited from the audience were asked. It was a little muddled because Kane chose to combine a lot of specific questions into ones which were more broad.
The first question was actually covered in an opening statement, as it asked about financial aid. Gutierrez repeated that illegals weren’t eligible for aid, while Propeack added that those in Guatemala don’t have an in-state option like a Maryland college.
On the other hand, McDonough posited that the discount, which adds up to about $40,000 per student, “doesn’t come out of thin air.” The illegals displaced American students, and if 1,000 students took advantage it would cost the state $40 million per year.
This actually segued well with the next question about economic impact, where Dane asserted if we pass the DREAM Act, it’s only a matter of time before we end up in the same boat as California. It’s an “incentive for more illegal immigration,” Dane said.
Delegate Gutierrez countered that “education is our best investment” and that these students would have an opportunity to become professionals. The illegal population pays $52 million in taxes annually, added Propeack.
When asked about the Obama amnesty, Gutierrez called it an “incredible benefit.” 1.7 million can take advantage of the executive order, with 30,000 of those in Maryland. But there was no legal obligation to become a citizen, countered Dane. Instead, the DREAM Act excuses parents from their responsibility and “one amnesty benefit fuels another round of illegal immigration,” said the FAIR representative.
McDonough also remarked on the subject, reminding the audience that there was no pathway to citizenship yet established for these students.
Propeack responded by saying the impact in California, a state where the DREAM Act is already in effect, has been “very, very small.”
“This is not an immigration bill, it is an education bill,” she added.
In that same vein, answering the next question, Kim asserted that the community colleges could accommodate the students; in fact, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges is the bill’s “strongest supporter.”
Yet Dane claimed that 10 years of illegal immigration in Maryland had seen $32 billion sent away to the various homelands claimed by these workers. And with 30,000 potential students affected by the bill, Dane called it a “falsity that (community colleges) are open enrollment schools.” If they are underfunded it affects access. Moreover, “there has to be a higher principle,” said Bob.
Someone asked why it was important to be a citizen. McDonough said “the most important thing to an American is citizenship.” His fellow Delegate Gutierrez made the more emotional appeal – an immigrant herself, she told us “I would not be here as a citizen under the current laws…now we’ve closed the door.” Propeack made the statement that the law had “nothing to do with status, but the value of education.”
Finally, they were asked whether the state law would violate federal law. Propeack said the issue has been litigated and doesn’t violate federal law. But Dane disagreed, calling the Obama executive order “illegitimate, unconstitutional, and a breach of the separation of powers…the most corrupt use of a social policy.” We allow more immigration than any other country, Dane added. McDonough restated his belief that America needs to reform our immigration policy.
There was a question I had regarding how the veterans were added to the bill. Pat McDonough said that portion was actually introduced as a standalone bill, with the measure then “filled with feelgood stuff that doesn’t really matter.” That’s what I figured.
Each participant made a closing statement.
“The law will win or lose, depending on how you vote,” said Bob Dane. “The glue that holds us together…is the law.” Bob went on to say that “Maryland is heading in the wrong direction,” and concluded “the DREAM Act is an amnesty benefit…parents should not be absolved of lawbreaking.”
“You can’t be like the President and circumvent the law,” said Delegate McDonough. “There are a lot of emotional arguments…you must look at the facts” and not the “Pinocchio language” of the bill. “This is not a Disneyland for illegal aliens,” said Pat.
Delegate Gutierrez repeated her claim that “this bill does not violate any laws.” It showed the pendulum was swinging away from a “strong anti-immigrant climate.” Fairness and tolerance was “intrinsic” in the bill, said Gutierrez.
In her final remarks, Propeack quoted the president of the University of Maryland who stated “the American dream belongs to all of us, or none of us.”
The participants posed for a picture afterward. No, we did not have President Obama.
As predicted by McDonough, the side in favor of Question 4 mainly stuck to an emotional appeal, forgetting that these students will cost taxpayers real money the state doesn’t have. It’s true that we need to reform immigration laws, but this is not the direction immigration law should do as it rewards lawbreakers while putting those who did things the correct way at a disadvantage.
I thought this table of literature for support was interesting as well.
I tried to get a photo of the red bumper stickers up close, but my attempts wouldn’t come out. The reason these were fascinating was the authority line, telling me the stickers were paid for out of Delegate Gutierrez’s campaign funds.
Of course, the next question which will be considered at Salisbury University also depends greatly on emotional appeal for passage.
That forum promises to bring a full house, one likely filled with every local LGBT activist that can show up.
The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)
First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:
- President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
- U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
- Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
- Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
- Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
- President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
- Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
- Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
- Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable
Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.
One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.
Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.
On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.
Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.
Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.
It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.
There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.
Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.
You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.
Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.
Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.
Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.
Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.
I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.
In front of about 50 diehard lovers of freedom who decided the fate of their country was more important than a Ravens game – which meant they had their priorities in order – the Wicomico chapter of the Maryland Society of Patriots met Thursday night at Mister Paul’s Legacy Restaurant.
I’m sort of glad they modified the choices at the end. Anyway, Dr. Greg Belcher, the leader of the WMSOP, opened the meeting by bringing up the subject of an upcoming petition drive which had copies on each table, including mine. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but I’ll bring you up to speed in a moment.
Senate Bill 236, which passed in the 2012 regular session, is thought of as an extension of the PlanMaryland and UN Agenda 21 movement to revoke property rights. In fact, Belcher intoned that “our property rights future is at stake.” All 24 Maryland jurisdictions, including Wicomico County, are supposed to have the prescribed four-tier plan in place by December 31 of this year.
Next with remarks was local activist Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland, who reminded us that there are two more online poll watcher training seminars coming up: October 1-2 and 24-25. While this training isn’t required to be a poll watcher, it’s helpful to know what can and can’t be done, said Cathy.
Keim briefly went over the seven statewide issues on the ballot this November, with a particular emphasis on the latter four. “Martin O’Malley will look pretty silly (running for President in 2016) if we stop him” in 2012, added Keim.
She mostly reserved comment on Question 6, though, to the next speaker: Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland.
Broadus actually began his presentation by speaking briefly about Question 5, the redistricting issue. He quoted former Baltimore County GOP head Tony Campbell, who commented that “all we have to do is show people the map and it’s a winning argument.”
As for the gay marriage issue and other referendum questions, Broadus emphasized the importance of reaching out to the local minority population. For example, in majority-minority Prince George’s County local leaders there support both Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) and Question 6 because they are considered civil rights issues, and oppose Question 5 for the same reason. On the other hand, they are against Question 7 (expanding casino gambling) because they see it as benefiting the so-called “1 percent,” said Broadus.
Gay marriage is on the ballot, not just in Maryland, but three other states: Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, Robert reminded us. “The goal (of proponents) is to change our society,” he added.
Broadus also conceded that some were for Question 6 because they had gay friends or family, but asked whether the relationship with these friends or relatives was more important than their relationship with God. And while secularists “are attacking on all fronts,” Broadus called this “our Roe v. Wade moment” and admonished people not to trust the polls on this issue.
In response to a comment about secular rather than faith-based arguments about Question 6, Broadus believed this was an effort to neutralize gender in society, even though God created man and woman differently. “Marriage is not a right,” concluded the longtime marriage protector.
Finally, it was time for our main speakers, the Sons of Liberty. If you can’t read the background slide, here it is below.
It’s sort of a long name for their ministry, but Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan have taken their show on the road to hundreds of high schools throughout the country. What we were presented is only about a quarter of what they do in a normal high school stop, said Dean.
In his presentation, Bradlee Dean bemoaned a nation which had seen a “decline since the Supreme Court said no to God” back in 1962. What we are now seeing is “the fruit of a nation which turns its back on God.”
Bradlee continued by saying the Catholic Church is “right on the money” in fighting President Obama and his contraception regulations. He asked, “Why are (leftists) always attacking God? Because they want to be God.” Dean showed a number of different quotes from the earliest leaders of our country acknowledging the divine Providence shown by our Creator, as opposed to the secular humanist attitude of today’s leaders.
That general attitude was due in no small part from our mainstream media. Just read the quote on the wall behind Dean.
It was determined that controlling 25 newspapers would do the trick, and this was back in 1917! Now we have a cabal of alphabet networks working in conjunction with the largest newspapers to promote a overtly secular agenda. “You’re being lied to. End of story,” said Dean. “The media works for a corrupt administration.” Even Fox News didn’t escape Bradlee’s blunt assessment, since they decide what they want to report to you as well.
At this point Dean stepped aside for a moment, allowing “The Other Guy” Jake McMillan to present a short question-and-answer section admonishing us to think about what we read and say, with a little audience participation.
A sample question: What do they call the raised lettering which enables the deaf to read? Most people would reflexively say “Braille” but if you pay attention you’ll know the true answer is “deaf people can already read, they just can’t hear.” It was part of a broader point that “most of the liberals count on ignorance of the issues,” said Jake.
Returning to the microphone, Bradlee rattled off a number of observations about the media and Hollywood. One slide referred to a warning sign he saw in an AMC theater in Kansas a few years back when the Mel Gibson movie “The Passion of the Christ” was showing. While the sign correctly noted the movie was in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles, and had violent content enough to earn an R rating, curiously there were no other warning signs for the other PG-13 and R rated movies in the theater. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the indoctrination,” said Bradlee. “If I entertain you, I’m controlling you.”
Dean then turned to a distinction not often found in the media, which commonly refers to our nation as a “democracy.” (As have presidents since Ronald Reagan, Bradlee noted wistfully.) Our nation is a republic, continued Bradlee, ruled by law and principle rather than by what the public desires. Dean quoted several early Americans who pointed out that democracies expire from within to become tyrannies. And having visited hundreds of public schools, Dean observed that they commonly are surrounded by fences, covered by security cameras, and patrolled by armed law enforcement officers. “They’re getting kids ready for a police state” in public schools, he warned.
Continuing on to a subject near and dear to several there, Bradlee went on to describe the fight about gay marriage as one “about upending your Constitution.” It’s being used as a “political battering ram” to take us further away from our roots as a nation. “You’re dealing with totalitarianism,” Dean believed.
But it wasn’t all bad news. Bradlee wanted to stress as well his thoughts on those who have perished in defending those rights endowed by our Creator, the over 400,000 who died and the millions who live on while missing their friends and family lost in battle. “Who’s going to stand up for the veterans?” he asked.
Overall, the message was simple yet elegant: “If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any rights.”
Afterward, Bradlee and Jake stuck around for over a half-hour to answer questions, sell their various wares, including CDs, DVDs, and books, and pose for pictures like the one below.
From left to right you have Bradlee Dean of Sons of Liberty, Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland, Jake McMillan of Sons of Liberty, and Dr. Greg Belcher of the Wicomico Maryland Society of Patriots. It’s also worth mentioning that a number of Republican Central Committee members were in attendance, along with the head of the Worcester County TEA Party and MSOP head Sam Hale.
And while there was no media there besides this reporter and Julie Brewington, who’s mostly pulled away from her Right Coast Conservative blog (but was videotaping the proceedings nonetheless), we did have two write-in candidates for office.
On the left is Mike Calpino, who’s running in the First District Congressional race as the write-in not endorsed by either political party, and on the right is Worcester County resident Ed Tinus, who is resurrecting his U.S. Senate campaign after finishing last out of nine Democratic candidates in their primary with 1,064 votes, or 0.3%.
To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting because I’d not heard of the Sons of Liberty or Bradlee Dean’s Christian rap-rock band Junkyard Prophet before last week when I first promoted this meeting. In doing a little research on the group, the prevailing opinion on them was that they were typical bigoted Christian haters – yet I found nothing overly controversial about their viewpoints. I will grant they did not speak much specifically about gay marriage or Question 6, but their opinions on the subject are likely shared by millions in this state and across the nation. Having seen the trend of a nation falling away from a Christian God, they obviously fret that allowing same-sex marriage may open the door to an even further slouch towards Gomorrah, to borrow a term made famous by Robert Bork. I think it’s a legitimate concern, others may disagree.
And if the idea of public school is to teach children critical thinking then I can’t understand what the big deal is to have them come to a school for a few hours and speak to the kids there. But the impression I get is that Sons of Liberty faces a lot of static in putting together these presentations simply because they don’t have a politically correct viewpoint, even if the opinions they present are based in historical fact.
The duo is in the midst of a four-day swing through Maryland and northern Virginia, with future stops in several other states. Dean admitted it was hard on him to be away from his five children, but the fight to preserve his country and its God-given freedoms was worth it. Having heard the presentation, I tend to agree.
On this coming Thursday the Wicomico Society of Patriots will reconvene for a meeting to discuss Maryland’s ballot questions; in particular Questions 4, 5, 6, and 7.
But instead of the usual local speaker, a special guest will address these topics from his unique perspective.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Legacy Restaurant, 1801 N. Salisbury Boulevard in Salisbury. Guest speaker will be Bradlee Dean; here is a link to his website The Sons of Liberty.
As WSOP stresses:
Come learn about the issues so that you can share the information with friends and relatives. As we draw closer to the election, more people will begin to think about what they need to do. We can be there to help. Be the GO TO PERSON for information on the ballot questions. There will be seven statewide questions and four Wicomico County ballot questions. This is a long ballot and some of the questions are poorly worded, so we need to be prepared to explain the issues.
Bradlee Dean is described as a “firebrand minister, heavy metal drummer, and talk show host.” His appearance is mainly aimed at Question 6, which is the same-sex marriage question, but certainly there will be speakers to discuss all four of these important statewide issues: in-state tuition for illegal aliens (Question 4), Congressional redistricting (Question 5), same-sex marriage (Question 6), and expansion of gambling to include a sixth casino and table games (Question 7).
About the Sons of Liberty:
They are educating and equipping America with the knowledge of what our nation was truly founded upon – “The Bible is the Rock upon which our republic rests.”
The Sons of Liberty not only talk about the issues at hand, but lead by example with the ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International. (Emphasis in original.)
Interestingly, there may be a second guest speaker as Bradlee’s fellow Son of Liberty Jake McMillan is listed on one flyer but not the other. Both are coming from Minnesota to do a whirlwind tour of the region:
- September 26: Barefoot Bernie’s, Hagerstown, MD (in conjunction with the Washington County Republican Club)
- September 27: Legacy Restaurant, Salisbury, MD
- September 28: Big Vanilla Athletic Club, Pasadena, MD
- September 29 (morning): Millard Cooper Park, Sykesville, MD
- September 29 (evening): Marco Polo Restaurant, Vienna, VA
Dean may be best known for his radio show and involvement with the Christian band Junkyard Prophet, a band which would be best described as a mix of rap and heavy metal. Now that would make the meeting interesting – and perhaps a bit uncomfortable – for those attending.
Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.
Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:
I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.
Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:
Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.
This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.
Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.
One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.
The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.
Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.
Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:
The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.
Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.
And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:
A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.
Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.
Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:
THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.
For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.
And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)
Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.
If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.
The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!
So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.