An overstatement by Sauerbrey?

Writing recently about the concept of “prevailing wage,” two-time gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey used the letter to the editor to praise her apparent choice for governor, David Craig. Here’s the letter in its entirety, as posted on Southern Maryland News Net. I received it as an e-mail under Craig’s campaign letterhead.

I want to point out a specific passage for comment, in particular the one where Sauerbrey speaks about Craig himself and attributes statements to him.

The 2014 General Assembly has passed legislation to apply the prevailing wage to additional local government projects that receive partial state funding. The prevailing wage which is essentially the union wage, artificially inflates labor costs by ab (sic) estimated 30% to 50%.

I commend Harford County Executive and Gubernatorial candidate David Craig for speaking out on the impact of the new law on his county, as well as the impact of prevailing wages on the state budget. Every local elected official concerned about getting the most value on public projects should want to let the market determine employee wages as is done in the private sector. County Executive Craig points out that the prevailing wage adds an additional $30 million cost to his county’s $300 million capital budget for school construction.

It may not surprise you that I have some familiarity with school construction. In the 1990s, thanks to a court decision, the state of Ohio went on a multi-billion dollar spending binge to construct new schools in practically every one of Ohio’s 600-plus school districts. (I spent seven years working for an architectural firm which specialized in schools, although I had left that company before the boom in school construction began.) In 1997 the state created an exemption to prevailing wage regulations for schools, and in that debate numbers similar to the 30 to 50 percent savings were bandied about by proponents of the measure eliminating prevailing wage.

Also mandated at the time, however, was a report to be delivered five years later, in 2002. In this report, the research indicated savings were more in the ten percent range. While that is a great savings to the taxpayer, it’s not the panacea proponents were anticipating when the bill was passed. Granted, with the vast volume of work going on at the time there was less incentive for low bids – perhaps an economic climate such as today’s would yield more significant savings.

While Sauerbrey uses the hyperbole of the 50 percent savings in her letter, it should be pointed out that David Craig’s statement within seems to ring true – out of $300 million, the $30 million addition seems to line up with the data from Ohio’s study.

But regardless of the actual savings, there is a philosophical argument to be made against the concept of an artificially-created “prevailing” wage, simply because it doesn’t necessarily reflect the true conditions of the actual labor market. I can completely understand the contention that projects completed under prevailing wage (more often than not by union shops) have a better quality to them, as one advantage of using union tradesmen borne out in my experience is that they are better trained, so the question is one of whether they are worth the premium. In some cases I would say yes, but I’m not sure schools are structures complex enough to justify the extra cost – certainly not to the extent of a health care facility or technology-heavy factory where fit and finish can be most important.

I also find it interesting that on the one hand Democrats tend to be for cherished union giveaways like prevailing wage, but do nothing on the other but encourage illegal aliens to come in and undercut the market for construction labor. I haven’t seen them yet this spring, but sooner or later somewhere on Delmarva there will be three or four union carpenters holding up the “shame on” banner because someone hired non-union labor most likely mainly made up of illegal aliens. And what else do those hapless guys have to do?

In a perfect world, many advocacy groups agree that the Davis-Bacon Act which spawned the concept of prevailing wage would be repealed. (At one time even the General Accounting Office argued for repeal.) There is even a bill in the House of Representatives to do the same, although no action has been taken on it since introduction. (And why not?) Eliminating the federal law may well trigger some states to do away with their own versions, although if you assume Maryland politics will remain as they’re currently composed for the next couple decades you won’t find us on that list. (As I pointed out yesterday, we threaten liberals’ existence on the government teat and they know it.)

But it should be a job for General Assembly Republicans to try and roll back this year’s changes in the next session. In the meantime, while 10 percent may not seem like a lot, imagine a ten percent cut in the state budget – it would roll our expenditures back to FY2013 levels and just about negate the need for our sales tax, which is 11% of revenue according to our most recent budget. That wouldn’t be a rollback to 5%, it would be eliminating the whole enchilada to match Delaware. Or we could cut our income taxes in half.

Ten percent is a lot, even in the limited realm of state construction, and to me it’s better that the people have it than the government. In the case of the capital budget, it’s less bonding we have to pass along to our children. So let’s hope a Governor Craig would have the stiff spine to fight for such a change to prevailing wage, even if Ellen Sauerbrey was a little overly optimistic on its effects.

Sending a message

A confluence of factors gives certain residents of the Eastern Shore an additional opportunity to make their feelings known on issues near and dear to conservative hearts everywhere.

Let me preface this by mentioning something from an e-mail I received from Heritage Action:

On January 29th, the House Republican Conference will begin its annual retreat to discuss its legislative agenda: their plans for piecemeal (immigration) reform will undoubtedly be the subject of much debate. All Sentinels are encouraged to contact their Members of Congress in advance of this strategy session to remind them to oppose all piecemeal amnesty bills.

Well, consider this my contact. But I also had an idea, based loosely on those who have been decorating overpasses with various political messages.

My friends in Dorchester County probably already know this, but the annual retreat Heritage Action alludes to is being held at the Hyatt resort in Cambridge. The setting is no stranger to political gatherings; on a few occasions the Democrats have used the facility and it also was the location of the first GOP state convention I ever attended (as a guest) in 2006. It also bears retelling the story about the first time I ever came here, to interview for the job which brought me to the Eastern Shore in 2004. I knew I’d like the area because it was like home: flat, dotted with little towns, and conservative – at least based on all the Bush/Cheney signs I saw up and down U.S. 50.

But there are no overpasses to decorate once U.S. 50 and U.S. 301 part ways in Queen Anne’s County. So perhaps in the next few days those who have message boards, yard signs from old campaigns, or other ways to convey opinion may want to place a sign along U.S. 50 between the Bay Bridge and Cambridge. (An alternative can be along the roads between the Dorchester airport and the Hyatt in case they fly over, but I suspect most will drive the couple hours.) Imagine seeing mile after mile of a “No Amnesty” message – think they may get the hint?

Obviously the GOP wants to spend time in its own enclave: presumably the entire resort is rented for this purpose, thus for the most part closing it to the public. But they can’t control the entire 80 miles or so that they have to traverse, and the message can be broadcast to ignore us at your peril.

Competing views on manufacturing

As a follow up and way to revise and extend remarks on Friday’s post about the Alliance for American Manufacturing, I decided to dig a little bit more into who they are and what they are proposing. The idea of “Made in America” is a sound one, for a number of reasons, but as I pointed out the AAM seems to have many of its eggs in the protectionist basket. To some extent, they have a case: even their attempt to furnish their Washington, D.C. office with exclusively American-made goods fell a little short:

Our tour began in one of the small offices, where (AAM executive director Scott) Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.

“You can’t find phones, video display terminals,” says Paul. “I mean, none of that is American-made.” Paul couldn’t find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple’s announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.

But then I found an entire AAM-backed legislative agenda, for which they linked to this subpage on the website of Delaware’s junior Senator Chris Coons. In it, we find a number of top-down legislative proposals in the areas of skills training, exports, access to capital, and “conditions necessary for growth.” At the time of its last update, about half of these proposals hadn’t been introduced as bills, with the last introduced bill being S.1400 in July of this year – either the website is not often updated or these proposals have languished on the back burner of a do-nothing, obstructionist Senate. This to me is quite telling as most of the sponsors are Democrats, who have the majority in the body.

It should be pointed out, too, that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is the brainchild of the United Steelworkers union and a “select group of America’s leading manufacturers.” The list of this select group isn’t widely disseminated, but the AAM describes that:

Leo Gerard, the International President of the United Steelworkers, and CEOs of Steelworker-represented manufacturers understood that. These leaders launched AAM in 2007 to build on the success of the “Stand Up For Steel” coalition.

The roots of that coalition date back to the 1990s, so this fight is an old one under a relatively new name since the AAM was founded in 2007. Essentially it’s a union partnership with the closed shops under its wing; a business-labor pact in name only.

Now that you understand its roots, it becomes more clear why they prescribe their menu of solutions. The steel industry is long known as a bastion of protectionism, given the charges of foreign steel dumping a decade or so back.

So are there any other solutions out there? The competing group to AAM is the National Association of Manufacturers, a group whose board is representative of over 200 industrial leaders. Their vision is somewhat different than that of the union-backed organization, although there are elements of protectionism and top-down dictates in their plan as well. Most worrisome to me is their advocacy for immigration reform, which is needed but must be done in such a manner that law-breaking is not rewarded at the expense of those who went about it in the correct manner.

Yet NAM makes one sound point:

Because of our tax, tort, energy and regulatory policies, it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the United States than it is in the countries that are our nine largest trading partners — and that excludes the cost of labor.

And it’s not like the problem is new, particularly here in Maryland. I mentioned Friday that Ron George is perhaps the gubernatorial candidate most attuned to the problem (David Craig has his own plan as well), although all but one of the players involved at the time had their say at an October manufacturing summit. Moreover, outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley was even forced to pay lip service to the issue.

But we have had this discussion for several years, and the prescriptions which were suggested a half-decade ago languished on the bookshelf while Maryland developed a growing reputation as a state hostile to business. It’s sort of strange that what I wrote on Friday – as a person who had never seen this report – nailed their first point about “a competitive and stable business environment.” They also talked about the need for a “balanced approach” to energy rather than the heavy emphasis on renewables, which is another pet peeve of mine. (Little did they know at the time the report was compiled – just five short years ago – that America and a portion of Maryland were sitting on an energy gold mine.)

In short, the solutions to the problem seem to be there and many fall into the conservative, pro-liberty camp. If we tell the radical environmentalists and regulators to go pound sand because we have work to do, chances are more of us would indeed have more work to do and more prosperity to spread around.

2014 Maryland dossier: part 3 (illegal immigration)

Now I’ll turn my attention to illegal immigration, another subject which suffers from a lack of attention and detail thus far. Then again, the issue is more cut and dried.

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David Craig: I will seek to overturn the state law enabling illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. (campaign website)

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On illegal immigration, he expressed support for the e-verify program. (Northern Prince George’s Republican Club meeting, February 2013(?)) (Note: Harford County adopted it in 2007.)

Ron George: (S)tates should not encourage those that come here illegally and those who have become illegal due to expired visas or are undocumented. States must resist providing these illegal aliens Driver’s Licenses, In-State Tuition, free public services, or the allowance for over capacitated group houses in neighborhoods that are otherwise zoned. Encouragement of these activities strains the infrastructure of communities while perpetuating a larger increase of illegal immigration. (campaign website)

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But while others emphasized George’s support for such issues as requiring legal residence for immigrants to obtain a driver’s license…(Maryland Reporter, June 6, 2013)

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Ron also co-sponsored a statewide E-Verify bill in 2012 and 2013.

Charles Lollar: (question) Do you believe Maryland county police forces should follow Frederick County’s example and seek ICE training?

Lollar: ”Frederick Co Example – This example should be seen as a benchmark for Maryland counties and states across our nation.  Although opponents feel this is profiling, I completely disagree! The FC model simply checks those who have been arrested for illegal activity and those arresting such individuals are trained by the ICT to conduct these checks of legality.” (Blue Ridge Forum, November 20, 2009)

*

In 2010, running for Congress, Lollar received a “True Reformer” rating from NumbersUSA.

**********

As you may recall, I was dead-set against the in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Personally I think that those here illegally should be sent home, and if they want to come back they should do it the correct way. It’s only fair to those who have taken the steps to become Americans through legal methods, and are we not a nation of laws? I understand people want a better life and I certainly don’t blame them for coming to America, but those who go through the legal channels generally become some of our best and brightest citizens – particularly if they’ve emigrated from an oppressive homeland. Those who come illegally have to continue being illegal to get along; for example, it’s nothing for them to offer money for a valid Social Security number as happened to a friend of mine.

So no driver’s licenses or special favors for those who came in without permission and unpersecuted. Needless to say, Democrats don’t talk about this issue because they’re the ones who encouraged the mess in the first place.

David Craig takes a couple important first steps in the process, although I’m certain many in the business community will work against him on E-Verify. Yet he overcame any opposition in Harford County, so I will give him 3 out of 5 points for the promising beginning.

Of the three, Ron George provides the best of these (limited) responses. But once elected (and as I mentioned above) I would hope the candidates work to reverse the Question 4 debacle Maryland voters unwisely upheld in their emotional outburst last year. If Ron is out to resist the other aspects of illegal immigration, he needs to show leadership on that part of it too.

But there’s one item where George somewhat contradicts his tough talk. Remember on Sunday when I discussed education and one of Ron’s points was:

By the creation of charter schools where immigration numbers are high and test scores are dropping such as in Montgomery County so that the immigrant population can receive education tailored to help them get acclimated into their new society, addressing language and other needs while other students can concentrate on their needs.

Wouldn’t that fall under a “free public service” for illegal aliens? I downgrade him slightly for that idea, but otherwise I get the impression Ron is a hawk on this issue so he gets 3.5 points of 5.

Despite the fact Charles Lollar talked about this issue on a national level, the fact he received a good grade from Numbers USA gives me confidence he will lead in the right direction. But I need more specifics, so he picks up 2 of 5 points.

Next week I’m getting back into this with energy issues.

Where to draw the line?

November 1, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Politics · 3 Comments 

In 52 weeks from Tuesday, Marylanders will go to the polls to decide the fate of their state government for the next four years. How long that four years will seem to Maryland Republicans will hinge on the results.

But there are a lot of people already pondering the message the party should put across, or even whether they can. Take Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum for example, who wrote today:

Our take: there is a broad culturally conservative base in the Old Line State, as well as a deep reservoir of those who quite rightly believe they are vastly overtaxed and overregulated. Understandably, many of these citizens have found the state Republican Party ineffective. How congenial is the G.O.P. to Blue Collar Maryland of all ethnicities when its chair here and the sole Republican U.S. Representative here flirt with amnesty? And why run the business risks of joining the opposition party in a one-dominant-party state if that opposition party has few fixed principles and won’t make serious trouble for the dominant party anyway?

The Maryland GOP and its politicians fell far short last year on two unusual outreach opportunities: they failed to put full energy and resources behind the referenda against gay marriage and against in-state tuition for illegals. Both these referenda did better here than governor Mitt Romney in 2012 in Maryland.

The state needs an energetic, organized conservative-grass-roots organization drawn from all parties. But the problem is like the one school reformers face: deciding whether to shut down a failing high school and start a new one with a new team, or to try to rehabilitate the failing school.

Whether to rebuild or replace the Beltway-Establishment-linked Maryland GOP is an open question.

Unfortunately, the question is already answered by the rules written for electioneering, as the two principal parties have distinct advantages over attempting to get on the ballot via a third party or as an independent. Few independents make it to the ballot in a statewide race, with failed onetime Republican Rob Sobhani the most recent example.

So the Maryland GOP it is. But which one?

Is it the group which seems content to be the perpetual opposition party, playing the game as best they can hoping for approval from the dominant side so that the state can move forward in a bipartisan manner? Damn, I hope not.

No, I’m more into the bomb throwers; the type who assumes that in order to make an omelet you have to scramble some eggs. Once the TEA Party came into being I hoped it was the impetus which would shake up a moribund state party which saw its lone Republican incumbent governor in two generations shellacked at the polls, losing one of its two Congressional seats two years later when the national elections gave the other party a stranglehold on the federal government. That was the situation we encountered at the dawn of 2009.

Once the TEA Party got rolling, I was hoping the Maryland Republican Party would embrace it. Instead, they decided the retread who had been pounded four years before was good enough to run again. But the upstart campaign of Brian Murphy brought a new element into the MDGOP  - particularly once Sarah Palin endorsed him – and the 2010 primary results showed just how significant a portion it was. To get 1/4 of the vote against a candidate the state party all but endorsed was an accomplishment.

But the race for party Chair that fall still showed we had a long way to go, with the most overt TEA Party participant receiving only a smattering of votes. It’s funny, though, how turnover in the state party erodes that which most people thought was conventional wisdom because the TEA Party favorite just missed winning the special election for Chair this spring and ended up as First Vice-Chair. Still, observers like Falknor saw it as a Pyrrhic victory at best, choosing to advocate for a different path.

I bring all that history to the fore because 2014 will be the first state election where the TEA Party is more integrated into the political process. We gained experience with the 2010 campaign, but now the hard work begins. And the question we must answer: how can we make sure those in the political middle receive the conservative message? We know the other side tries to smear and obfuscate it as much as possible.

A lot of people say the way to accomplish this is to focus strictly on pocketbook issues. But to me that misses the point – if we’re going to be painted as extremists, why not explain why we feel the way we do instead of being defensive? For example, I’m pro-life and believe life begins at conception because how else would you define when life begins? How is it logical that a child one centimeter away from exiting the birth canal can be murder but once outside is considered human?

On the other hand, though, I feel that those who commit premeditated murder forfeit the right to life through their action, and in so doing deserve the ultimate punishment of the death penalty.

Life is about far more than money and the size of government. It is also up to us to construct the guard rails for our progeny so they stay on a relatively straight and narrow path. Yes, they will have their period of rumspringa but the idea is not to allow them enough rope to hang themselves with.

Liberals will tell us that delving into social issues will keep us from winning elections, but since when do we solicit counsel from an enemy? It would be like John Harbaugh taking play-calling advice from Troy Polamalu. You know, for as far-left a state as Maryland supposedly is, it took a Presidential election against a weak Republican candidate to get more than 50% of the voters to support gay marriage. As I said at the time, that was their best chance because no one wanted it on the 2014 ballot with them,

So I don’t think all discussion of social issues should be off-limits if we use them as a teachable moment. In order to change Maryland to a “purple” state we need to educate the public on the benefits of conservative thought.

Clearing the air and getting back to basics

Over the last couple days, a segment of the Maryland Republican Party is scratching its head over the absence of gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar from several high-profile events: last month’s Andy Harris First District Bull Roast, the Conservative Victory PAC Ken Cuccinelli fundraiser (which was sponsored by several Maryland politicians), the Prince George’s County Lincoln Day Dinner with Lt. Col. Allen West, and most recently the state party’s Oktoberfest gathering in Timonium Saturday night. The conventional wisdom argument is that these were lost opportunities to impress the party brass.

But this may also presuppose Lollar wasn’t out meeting with “regular Joe” voters, and some say a lot of these gatherings would be time better spent knocking on doors or making phone calls. So which is it? I don’t know, but my feeling is that we all need to get back to basics and begin to compare just where each of the three major declared candidates stand on important issues facing the state.

A year and a half before the 2012 Presidential election, I began a process of grading the candidates in the race at the time on a number of issues. I think it’s time to repeat the process, with some different parameters because the issues aren’t always congruent between state and national elections – for example, I don’t have to worry about trade or the Long War but I do have concerns about agricultural issues and necessary changes to the state political system, meanwhile, some issues grow or contract in importance because of recent state developments. But I like the 100-point system so I will adapt it to suit.

So the 2014 monoblogue endorsement will be based on the following formula:

  • Election/campaign finance reform (3 points)
  • Illegal immigration (5 points)
  • Dealing with Obamacare (7 points)
  • Energy policy (8 points)
  • Education (9 points)
  • Second Amendment (11 points)
  • War on Rural Maryland (12 points)
  • Role of government (13 points)
  • Job creation and transportation (14 points)
  • Fiscal conservatism/taxation (15 points)

Once I add or subtract three points for various intangibles of my choosing, I’ll come up with the candidate who I think will best serve Maryland. Granted, my endorsement will only be worth the pixels they’re darkening but at least some thought will be put into why this candidate is the best one for Maryland. (Keep in mind that any of these three would be vastly superior to Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, Heather Mizeur, or anyone else Democrats put up.) Otherwise, I come in with no preconceived notions with the exception that the other declared GOP candidates in the race don’t have the campaign or the presence to achieve any more than a tiny percentage of the vote so they’re not included; also, this is subject to update if/when Larry Hogan enters the race.

So now that you have the basic concepts, how about some specifics of what I’m getting at for each point? These are questions I may be able to find answers for within the candidates’ own websites, but it’s more likely I need further guidance. I have had the chance to hear all three declared candidates speak on at least two occasions apiece so I might have a decent idea where they’ll go, but it never hurts to ask. With that, here goes:

  • Election/campaign finance reform: Will you aggressively pursue the redistricting revision case in court; if we succeed can we have 141 single-member districts? Where do you stand on current reporting requirements: too tight, too loose, or just right? What about getting after local boards of elections and telling them to clean up their voter rolls?
  • Illegal immigration: Will you take the 287 (g) program used in Frederick County statewide? How about rescinding recent changes to drivers’ license laws in Maryland? And what about in-state tuition – do you revisit this issue? What about withholding a portion of state funds from sanctuary cities? Cooperation with the federal E-Verify program? What about policies allowing status checks such as those in Arizona?
  • Dealing with Obamacare: Do we eliminate the state exchange? Would you pursue a waiver for the state if one becomes available? Are you in favor of defunding or letting the law go into effect and watching it collapse? What steps would you take to encourage more insurance competition in the state? What about returning Medicaid limits to minimum levels?
  • Energy policy: When can we expect fracking to begin in Western Maryland? And what will you do with the renewable portfolio standard? Will you move to re-regulate Maryland’s electrical utilities? Can Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind scheme work? What about offshore oil drilling – is that an option for you? Will you maintain Maryland’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative?
  • Education: Will Common Core be the law of the land in Maryland, or will you eschew Race to the Top funding? How about school choice, or money following the child regardless of school? How will you protect homeschooling? Instill more local control? What about promoting elected school boards in those counties still without them? Emphasis on vocational education? How do you message against the certain opposition of the teachers’ unions?
  • Second Amendment: Will you work to repeal the so-called Firearms Safety Act? What about concealed carry, and making licenses easier to get? If the federal government gets too onerous, will you fight them? What’s your interpretation of the Second Amendment?
  • War on Rural Maryland: Can we count on you to repeal the Septic Bill and tier mapping? Will nitrogen-removal systems still be required? Will the Hudson family be made whole by the state, since it was with the state’s assistance they were legally harassed? How will you assist the poultry industry in the state and keep them here? What about cleaning up behind the Conowingo Dam and fighting the mandated burden on rural counties, as well as the rain tax on urban ones?
  • Role of Government: Where do you stand on a regulation moratorium, and would you veto new mandates passed through the General Assembly? Are there any agencies you’d work to abolish? What about divestiture of surplus state land? Is a consolidation of primary state government functions in Annapolis on your agenda? Can we count on you to repeal as many laws as you create? Where do you stand on public-private partnerships? Do you support citizen-based petition to referendum for new laws (as opposed to those passed by the General Assembly)? What about the right to recall elected officials?
  • Job creation and transportation: We know you’ll lower the corporate tax rate – what about eliminating it entirely? What about reform of unemployment insurance? What other steps will you take to make it easier to do business in Maryland? As far as infrastructure goes, will you kill the Red Line and Purple Line in favor of more useful means for transporting goods, such as expanding the interstate network in Maryland and surrounding states? Will you hold the line on tolls? What about another Bay crossing – where would you put it? What non-tax code incentives would you offer for rural area job creation? What policies would you adopt from other states?
  • Fiscal conservatism/taxation: Can Marylanders expect a flatter income tax system? How about eliminating it entirely as some states have done? Or would you prefer a sales tax decrease or elimination? Would you agree to a TABOR, or at least a budget utilizing those principles? Can we get per-capita spending closer to the national norm? And how will you deal with the outcry of the press, such as the old “tax cuts for the rich” saw?
  • Intangibles: Positions on abortion, expansion of gambling and/or return to legislative control (as opposed to Constitutional amendment), protection for religious objections to gay marriage, your perception of the TEA Party and pro-liberty movement, and so forth. Mainly social issues.

Yes, that’s a hell of a lot. But somewhere, someone else is asking some of the same questions and if I’m going to make a decision I want it to be informed. And while I’d like to make these issue posts on about a weekly basis, that’s probably a quite aggressive timetable.

But I’m sure that a) people from the respective campaigns read my website, and b) they will bend over backwards for new media. (At least that’s what I’m counting on.) And it’s likely they haven’t even pondered some of these queries, so I don’t expect miracles – but I’ll take them anyhow.

Yet I’m sure that some high-dollar Beltway Republican consultant will tell their candidate that he’d be nuts to get into specifics this far out because all it would provide is fodder for the Democrats and the press (but I repeat myself) to harp upon as the campaign heats up. News flash: they will do that anyway, even if they have to make stuff up (e.g. “a fee is a tax.”) So get it out now and I’ll take those clowns on myself, even as I point out that it’s not like I don’t have a few allies in this fight.

Just let me know you have the balls to stand for something, okay?

Report: amnesty could create up to 17 million new voters

October 13, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Considering the source, one may think the Center for Immigration Studies is worried about the electoral impact the Gang of Eight amnesty bill could provide, and you would be right. In their report author Steven A. Camarota writes:

There is no question that the effect of future immigration on the number of potential citizens will be very large if current policies remain unchanged. We cannot say what share of future arrivals will become citizens and vote. Even if only half do so, the impact could be significant and not just at the national level.

Obviously the thought process is that most of these immigrants will vote in such a manner to both loosen the restrictions on further immigration and open the spigots of the welfare state for new, poor immigrants. (In other words, for Democrats.) Moreover, since the bulk of recent population growth in the country comes from immigration this will also contribute to the traditional Caucasian majority becoming the minority as it has become in California.

Of course, there’s no guarantee any of these people will even become registered or bother to show up to vote, but this report points out the possibility is there. Yet there will still be a great deal of impact on our elections even if the immigration bill doesn’t pass based on the number of green cards we already give out.

Naturally this brings out the whole topic of immigration and border security, and right now we don’t have enough of either, at least in the legal sense. Obviously something needs to be done about the 11 to 12 million who are here sans documentation, but in fact the federal government has allocated and then pulled the money for building a secure fence on the Mexican border. It’s the least we could do, along with better tracking of those who overstay visas – another chief culprit of the illegal alien problem. This contributes in no small part to our crime problem as well.

Rumor has it that Barack Obama will pivot back to immigration once his government shutdown and debt ceiling imbroglios are resolved one way or the other, so the CIS report (one of a series put out this month) comes out at an opportune time.

Upcoming jobs rally accessible to locals

July 5, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

In case you haven’t heard – and there’s a pretty good chance you haven’t, what with all the summer activities going on – there’s a D.C. March for Jobs coming up on Monday, July 15.

[gview file="http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/DCMarch_Flier_June_3_2013.pdf"]

Cathy Keim of the Wicomico Society of Patriots alerted me to a local bus which is going to the event, embarking from Salisbury at 5:30 a.m. It won’t cost riders anything but their time and may be a tipping point in killing this amnesty bill once and for all.

And note the group which is putting this together: the Black American Leadership Alliance. While it’s a fairly new group, they have managed to secure a little bit of media coverage, survived a Twitter attack, and aroused the ire of People for Against the American Way. They’ve also put together a good roster of speakers for the March for Jobs, including former Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West and Senator Ted Cruz, who was just added to the list.

Overall, they restate a good point which has been made by others – allowing those here illegally to stay without significant punishment will only intensify the competition for the lower-rung jobs many in the black community rely on. And while my long-term preference would be for all members of our society to improve themselves so that they can take on tasks requiring more skills, the reality is that we’ll always need ditch diggers and they’re not going to be paid a whole lot. At the current time many in the black community face direct competition in the job market from illegal aliens who are happy to work under the table for less money. (Anecdotal evidence also suggests illegal aliens who have been here awhile and began to move up the job chain are also worried about a new influx of even cheaper workers, sort of like how the Chinese have been aced out by even cheaper Vietnamese labor.)

But there is the emotional argument about separating families by deportation and how it wasn’t the kids’ fault the parents came here illegally. It’s how we were saddled with in-state tuition for illegal aliens; too many voters believed the sob stories and forgot we are a nation based on the rule of law.

This brings up a point somewhat unrelated to the D.C. March for Jobs, but an idea worth discussing nonetheless. While I’m normally well in line with the Competitive Enterprise Institute – citing CEI is common around these parts – I tend to disagree with them on the immigration issue. Yet they came up with this:

(T)o prevent individuals from overstaying their visas, Congress should scrap time-restricted work visas and move to a system where the IRS withholds a certain percentage of guest workers’ wages until they either naturalize or return home.

It’s part of a sequence which, to them, would also include a higher number of guest worker visas. I may not mind that either, provided those who are here illegally return home to apply for them. Somehow I don’t think all that many would take up that sort of offer, and why should they when we bend over backwards to cater to them despite their shadowy status?

But returning to the main subject of this piece, hopefully there will be a good showing of local people at this Washington event. Yes, it is very early in the morning but Cathy figures on a 2 p.m. return so there’s time for a siesta upon arrival in Salisbury.

A social media victory

May 29, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

In case you missed it earlier tonight – and to be quite honest, most people who don’t follow social media missed it – those on the left were out to protest Senator Ted Cruz and his appearance at a New York Republican fundraiser by bombarding his Twitter account with admonitions on his positions and a hashtag (for the Twitter-illiterate, that’s the “pound” symbol, #) of #youcruzyoulose. Catchy, but certainly irrelevant.

Of course, as we often do, our side caught wind of this “protest” and came up with the idea of Tweeting our support with our own hashtag, to wit:

Senator Cruz was pleased:

 

And the point was made, as #youcruzyoulose had nowhere near the staying power of #cruztovictory, which was the top-trending hashtag on Twitter for part of the evening.

But the question has to be asked: why Cruz? After all, he’s only 1 of 100, the junior Senator from a state which is pretty much owned by Republicans right now. How is he a threat?

Well, he is conservative, but so are a handful of others. He’s also relatively outspoken, although not to the extent of fellow Senator Rand Paul. Maybe it’s because he’s *gasp” a Latino who’s not down with the immigration amnesty bill? (Cue the game show bell, “ding ding ding.”) Yes, that and he’s pro-gun as well.

We don’t need 100 Ted Cruz clones in the Senate, but about 50 others will be fine. Let’s have some more fun with the #youcruzyoulose crowd, shall we? Just another #cruztovictory in the realm of social media.

 

Odds and ends number 73

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.

Ten Question Tuesday: February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, Ten Questions · Comments Off 

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.

Odds and ends number 72

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.

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  • Campaign 2014 – Maryland

    Primary election will be June 24, 2014.

    Governor:

    Republican

    David Craig
    Ron George
    Larry Hogan
    Charles Lollar

    Democrat

    Anthony Brown
    Doug Gansler
    Ralph Jaffe
    Heather Mizeur
    Charles Smith
    Cindy Walsh

    Comptroller:

    Republican

    William Campbell

    Democrat

    Peter Franchot

    Attorney General:

    Republican

    Jeffrey Pritzker

    Democrat

    Aisha Braveboy
    Jon Cardin
    Brian Frosh

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  • Archives

  • More Campaign 2014

    First District - Congress

    Republican

    Jonathan Goff, Jr.
    Andy Harris (incumbent)

    Democrat

    John LaFerla
    Bill Tilghman

    Maryland General Assembly (local)

    Senate District 37

    Republican

    Richard Colburn (incumbent)
    Addie Eckardt

    Democrat

    Christopher Robinson

    ___

    House District 37A

    Republican

    (no candidates)

    Democrat

    Sheree Sample-Hughes

    ___

    House District 37B

    Republican

    Christopher Adams
    Rene Desmarais
    Johnny Mautz
    Allen Nelson
    Karen Tolley

    Democrat

    Rodney Benjamin
    Keasha Haythe

    ___

    Senate District 38

    Republican

    Mike McDermott

    Democrat

    Jim Mathias (incumbent)

    ___

    House District 38A

    Republican

    Charles Otto (incumbent)

    Democrat

    Percy Purnell, Jr.

    ___

    House District 38B

    Republican

    Carl Anderton, Jr.

    Democrat

    Norm Conway (incumbent)

    ___

    House District 38C

    Republican

    Mary Beth Carozza.

    Democrat

    Judy Davis
    Mike Hindi

    ___

    Wicomico County will be added after filing deadline,

  • Authority Line

      Notice:

    For items which pertain to my campaign Michael Swartz for Republican Central Committee

    Authority:
    Kimberley Corkran, Treasurer
    Michael Swartz, Candidate

    February 10, 2014