You know, it’s hard to come home after a nice evening and discuss bad news, but there it was on the table: Martin O’Malley finished the damage of the “90 days of terror” by signing the last of the approved bills from this year’s “very productive” General Assembly session. If it were any more productive we’d be a banana republic.
Of all the bills signed, though, it appears that just two will be subjects of a petition drive to referendum: the death penalty repeal and the gun law. The death penalty repeal is “officially” sanctioned by mdpetitions.com while the gun law is being challenged by another group, with the petition there at freestatepetitions.com.
Regardless who begins the effort, though, the rules are the same: by June 30 there needs to be valid signatures equal to 3% of the number of those who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election (just under 56,000) with 1/3 of those required by May 31 – the end of this month. Both drives got sort of a late start.
Unfortunately, having seen the 2012 petition drives all defeated at the ballot box, the question is whether there is enough interest in seeing another potential wipeout at the 2014 election. Granted, the demographics of the vote may be more favorable to those who would like to overturn these issues but so far both petitions seem to be having tough sledding. Moreover, failure to get enough signatures for either or both petitions will probably embolden Democrats to pass even more egregious legislation – it’s bad enough we can’t petition appropriations bills and may have an even higher hurdle to overcome in the future.
There’s also the argument about the gun bill being brought to referendum because it’s placing our God-given rights to a vote. One thing a referendum would do though is delay the enactment of the bill, so there is a point to consider.
Still, it was a sad day for the formerly Free State yesterday, and I hope in 18 months we will wipe the smiles off their faces after the people take back their state.
That’s a sentiment shared by Maryland’s GOP, as Chair Diana Waterman admitted the following:
Cracking down on crime is clearly not part of Martin O’Malley’s presidential resume. Together with the Democrats in Annapolis, O’Malley has shamefully politicized the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut in order to advance his radical agenda and political aspirations. This legislation will do nothing to curb the effects of gun violence in Maryland, but instead only makes it even more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
While other Governors like Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and their legislatures are working to reform state government, Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, Mike Busch, and the Democrat legislators in Annapolis have wasted the people’s time and money by imposing higher taxes, promoting government dependency, and assaulting the Second Amendment.
Elections have consequences. Whether it was an uninspiring top of the ticket, underperformance in filling out the ballot card, or not being effective in promoting a conservative message to the state’s voters, the 2010 election which should have been a slam dunk in t least restoring the GOP to a player in Maryland politics was, instead, a lost opportunity. In part, this led to the demise of our 2012 initiatives to roll back the welcome mat to illegal aliens and to maintain the common meaning of marriage.
Instead, we pretty much have to try again in 2014 to reinvent the wheel. Granted, there is potential at the top of the ticket for a young and dynamic presence, but the true test will be whether we can contest every race this time around. Hopefully the regressive nature of the O’Malley regime and the prominence he’s already given Anthony Brown as a hand-picked successor – and, in turn, Brown’s defense of the O’Malley record – will give the MDGOP something to build upon. A referendum drive or two won’t hurt the cause.
Recently Change Maryland had to do a mea culpa, because they found out they were incorrect.
Just weeks after putting out the word about Martin O’Malley and his 37 tax increases since taking office, the good-government advocacy group had to let people know they were just a little bit off – in the wrong way:
Previously, Change Maryland released a report that updated tax and fee increases following the 2013 session, which brought the total to 37 increases that remove $3.1 billion annually over and above the existing tax burden. These latest reports adds new fees for gun purchases, enacted in 2013, and two newly-discovered measures buried in omnibus legislation and not subject to normal legislative procedures.
So now we are up to a nice, round 40 tax and fee increases under the O’Malley regime. Aren’t we special?
Since I began with Change Maryland, I may as well continue with what their leader, Larry Hogan, had to say:
Nobody expected the total impact to be this staggering, not even me. Struggling Maryland families and small businesses simply cannot afford another four years of an O’Malley-Brown tax and spend binge.
Hogan continued by lamenting the ongoing nature of the problem:
This is not just an argument about big government. It’s about a government that is on auto-pilot to grow exponentially, beyond anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes and that comes directly at the expense of the private sector economy that we desperately need to diversify our employment base.
Undoubtedly, the question for the O’Malley/Brown team – and they are a team, since our lieutenant governor is the favored choice of Martin O’Malley – is whether Anthony Brown will try and run up the score some more. Would triple digits be possible over a 16-year reign of the O’Malley/Brown team? In a speech in Chestertown, Hogan used the occasion to blast the heir apparent, who’s announced his intention to snag the state’s top spot next year, from the stump.
(Side note: the odds are against Brown, as on three occasions since the office of lieutenant governor was re-created in 1970 the officeholder failed to win the office him/herself. Blair Lee III lost the 1978 Democratic primary, as did Melvin Steinberg in 1994. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won her nomination, but lost to Republican Bob Ehrlich in 2002.)
Yet the more Hogan chooses to point out the foibles of the O’Malley/Brown team, the less of a chance there is he will enter the race himself. In a lot of ways, Larry has chosen to be this state’s version of Sarah Palin as he could potentially be a kingmaker as the leader of a bipartisan group closing in on 40,000 followers. If each can influence five voters, you have yourself a GOP primary winner in a year where it appears we will have two or three relatively strong candidates.
And then there’s always O’Malley’s own legacy and his dreams of running for President in 2016. Certainly he would find it a feather in his cap to get his LG elected as successor and cement his legacy. Being the media whore he is, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Martin O’Malley take the tack suggested in this piece by Pete “DaTechGuy” Ingemi as MOM has to overcome the legacy of one Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I can see a certain Maryland governor doing this,” indeed.
Just because I didn’t feature them as prominently as I had last year didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in what Delegate Mike McDermott had to say about the recently-concluded General Assembly session. Granted, once the gauntlet was thrown away last November by an electorate more interested in glitz and glamour than seriously pondering our state’s future we figured the path was clear for Martin O’Malley to create his legacy for 2016. And if you think Democrats in Maryland don’t have those sorts of dreams of reflected glory from electing the first President from Maryland in the state’s long history, think again. Sure, there are a few who are allowed to stray from the party line in the interest of political self-preservation, but when the chips are down they will come through.
This was particularly true when it came to the idea of making the state as hostile as possible to small businesses, as McDermott points out:
Our Corporate Tax rates remain the highest in the region and our layers of government process insure that we continue to be slow to respond and costly for business start ups.
McDermott uses the obvious examples of offshore wind, the submission of our state to the effects of Obamacare, the increased gasoline tax, and the adoption of last year’s “rain tax” as examples of how our state is lagging further and further behind our neighbors. Yet aside from the outrage we exhibit in our little corner of the state, we seem to be having little if any impact on the direction Annapolis is taking.
Unfortunately for us, the majority Democrats – and some of the more centrist, “go along to get along” Republicans – are a reflection of the areas in which they live; areas which seem to be succeeding despite themselves thanks to the heavy influence of Washington, D.C. on our state. In the city of my birth, Toledo, we had a saying that if Detroit sneezed we would catch the cold because we were so overly dependent on one industry for our economic livelihood – even moreso than the Motor City. Here in Maryland the I-95 corridor, as I call it, plays the same role Detroit did for Toledo by calling its tune. My contention is we would be in the same dire straits as a state like Rhode Island or Nevada if it weren’t for having thousands of workers on the federal payroll living within our borders.
Indeed, Maryland is a state where government checks aren’t just for the poorest among us but also feed a growing number of well-to-do families. Consider the fact that Maryland has been a state in the top 5 of per-capita income for all but one year since 1990 – in 2008 we were 6th. States which have outranked us have generally done so on the strength of the New York or Boston metro areas and a lack of poorer rural regions. (Note that Washington, D.C. would be far and away #1 if it were ranked, though.) It’s also worth pondering, though, that a state is now close on Maryland’s heels and threatening its position in the top five – thanks to the strength of a booming energy industry, North Dakota has surged upward 21 spots in just five years.
Yet rural Maryland lags well behind their I-95 corridor counterparts. There are areas of our state which fare just as poorly as those states in the Deep South do, and they don’t receive the economic benefits of having federal government employees on every block. Unfortunately, the policies which discourage private investment in the state hurt rural areas more than urban ones, for there are some businesses with enough economies of scale – and desire to be closer to those high-income families in Montgomery and Howard counties – which can either grin and bear the increased costs or can otherwise pass them along to end users.
And while the idea of job creation was one of the issues in the recent election here in Salisbury, the reality is that we will have to succeed here despite the state’s best efforts to stymie our development in favor of agricultural preservation. It doesn’t matter to those in Annapolis and across the bay because they already have theirs, so if it’s to their advantage to keep us as a rural backwater which has to be kept in line every so often when it gets uppity, so be it. They’ll just punish us a little more until we learn our place again.
So what is the solution? Obviously we need to convince Maryland voters to stop voting against their best interests and instead promote the benefits of limited government and liberty. Granted, there are many thousands of Maryland voters who won’t get that hint because a limited government also would limit their government-backed paycheck but as I have said before the world needs ditchdiggers too. Enhance private industry and the best and brightest will find work – if we play our cards right, it could happen here in Maryland.
Well, this is an interesting followup to a story I posted the other day – you know, the one where I asked whether those correctional officers indicted last month as part of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison scandal had gang ties from the outside:
Is BGF also prevalent outside the walls of the prison, too? Were any of these women gang wannabes in their youth, and recruited by the gangs from the inside?
Chair Mark Uncapher of the Montgomery County Republican Party obviously has a long memory, as he wrote in his latest party newsletter about a previous scandal uncovered in 2009 by the Baltimore City Paper.
This is a rerun of a very bad horror movie that continues to replay throughout the O’Malley administration.
Rewind the movie back to 2007, O’Malley’s first year in office. Patrick Byer is awaiting trial on a murder charge in the Baltimore Detention Center. Like many of the inmates in that facility, Byers has access to a contraband mobile phone, which he uses to negotiate a murder for $2,500 of the principal witness against him. Just 8 days before the beginning of Byer’s trial, Carl Lackl Jr. is gunned in front of his house in a crime witnessed by his daughter.
What’s perhaps more amazing is that Antonia Allison, who was cited in that City Paper story as being one of the correctional officers alleged to have gang ties, is also under indictment in the newest scandal. One would have thought the slightest hint of gang activity would have gotten her out of the correctional system, at least as a guard. But she remained and is one of the 13 correctional officers newly accused.
Understandably, the prison population isn’t adding any value to society and very, very few people aspire in their life’s wish to be prison correctional officers. Moreover, the percentage of correctional officers who are tied to gangs is probably fairly low (although it likely varies from facility to facility) but it’s obviously enough to shift the balance of power in the Baltimore City facility. For those highest up in the gang’s food chain, jail wasn’t punishment at all but simply a place to do business with decor which left something to be desired.
This isn’t going to add to Martin O’Malley’s Maryland legacy, although it may be an interesting thing to bring up for Lieutenant Governor (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Anthony Brown and perhaps Attorney General (and also prospective candidate) Doug Gansler. But as the meme points out, Martin O’Malley has set his sights on a higher office since about the time the results of the 2010 election became official. Priorities for him seemed to shift from the actual idea of governor a relatively small state to burnishing his resume. Running prisons? That’s boring, and they probably can’t vote anyway – let’s pander to the gays, green energy crowd, and illegal immigrants!
(Obviously the hat tip for that comes from Change Maryland. Boy, this state really does need a change.)
And one has to wonder as well about the state’s other prisons. Looking at crime in Salisbury, which is a known resting stop for families who have loved ones locked away in the Eastern Correctional Institution outside Princess Anne – conveniently about as far away from the I-95 corridor as you can get in this state but not too close to Ocean City to scare away the tourists – one has to ponder to what degree this is a problem in ECI. Like Baltimore City, Somerset County is one of the state’s poorest areas so jobs, particularly for those without a great deal of education, are scarce. Granted, the fact that ECI is in a rural setting alleviates some of the issues found at the Baltimore City facility but being inside is still being inside.
But now that environment affects us outside the prison walls. That’s the problem with ineffective leadership, and it’s something which will need to be addressed in 2014 when the state next votes.
By now readers are probably aware of the brewing prison scandal in Baltimore, where it’s been widely reported that the Black Guerrilla Family ran the Baltimore City Detention Center to the extent where inmate and BGF leader Tavon White is quoted as saying, “This is my jail…I make every final call in this jail.” If you’re not, this Washington Post article by Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner is a good place to start, while Jeff Quinton at The Quinton Report is critical of the lack of calls for accountability from the Maryland GOP. Quinton also links to the indictment press release and ponders the impact on O’Malley’s nascent presidential run – in short, he’s been a bulldog on this one.
However, that’s not to say individual GOP members have been silent. State Senator Joe Getty was quoted in the Post piece, and Delegates Michael Smigiel and Michael Hough have opposite opinions on the fate of Maryland Public Safety and Correctional Services head Gary Maynard.
One thing that may bear further scrutiny, though, is the backgrounds of the thirteen women, aged between 24 and 31, who were indicted as rogue correctional officers. It’s interesting that State Senator Lisa Gladden noted in the Post, “A lot of times, (female corrections officers) become smitten with the inmates.” But what if they were already acquainted with the inmates? Is BGF also prevalent outside the walls of the prison, too? Were any of these women gang wannabes in their youth, and recruited by the gangs from the inside?
Something which needs to be addressed is the workplace practice which, first, leads to a situation where there are female corrections officers guarding male inmates, and, second, seems to permit behavior where suspicions should have been aroused. If someone comes to work with the name of an inmate tattooed on their neck, shouldn’t that have raised a red flag?
This scandal, which came to light just as Governor Martin O’Malley was trying to raise his 2016 profile with a trip to the Middle East, also could spark a debate over whether the death penalty should have been rescinded. If you read the indictment, it’s clear that Tavon White would stop at nothing, not even murder, to further his aims. If it can be proven that he ordered a “hit” from his jail cell, with the rescinded death penalty there is no ultimate punishment awaiting him.
At this time, it doesn’t appear there will be a petition drive to overturn the ill-considered legislation that ended the death penalty in Maryland, and that’s simply wrong. I can understand the logic of fighting the gun law in the courts, but it’s shameful that no similar effort seems to be possible to restore the ultimate punishment.
After the whole Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. vs. Hudson court case was finally settled in favor of the Berlin farm family, you would think Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. would be persona non grata in the agricultural community. Perhaps he is, but the irony of a Baltimore group which, among its other ventures, runs what it calls the “Real Food Farm” inviting Kennedy to speak for a fundraiser didn’t escape notice from an internet-based farmers advocacy group.
In a letter from SaveFarmFamilies.org addressed to ‘major civic leader(s) in the Greater Baltimore area,” the group noted:
…we wanted to make you aware of an event featuring a voice that has been most troublesome in Maryland. It is to our deep disappointment that the Baltimore-area organization, Civic Works, is choosing to honor Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on April 24 at Goucher College. It is unfortunate that a venerable organization seeking to do so much good could honor Mr. Kennedy after he spearheaded an unjust lawsuit to bankrupt a 4th generation Maryland farm family struggling to make ends meet.
The group goes on to quote Governor O’Malley’s letter to University of Maryland Law School Dean Phoebe Haddon on the Hudson lawsuit as well as remarks from House Appropriations Committee Chair Delegate Norm Conway regarding $300,000 added to this year’s state budget to help pay the Hudsons’ legal fees. Having Kennedy speak to Civic Works would “tarnish the celebration of its achievements,” concluded the letter, signed by Lee Richardson of Save Farm Families, defendant Alan Hudson, and Herbert Frerichs, Jr. of Perdue Farms.
(continued at Watchdog Wire…)
In February, Alex Mooney confirmed what some had suspected all along: he would be leaving the Chair position of the Maryland Republican Party to pursue other political opportunities. As the party bylaws state, the First Vice-Chair took over the duties of running the state party and that First Vice-Chair was Diana Waterman.
I have been directly involved in the state party since 2006, and this isn’t the first time we’ve been through this rodeo. In 2009 embattled Chair Jim Pelura resigned – however, just before the Fall Convention that year First Vice-Chair Chris Cavey announced he would not seek the job full-time for the remaining year on Pelura’s term and the MDGOP instead overwhelmingly elected Audrey Scott.
(The original version of this post incorrectly stated Chris Cavey served on an interim basis as Chair; he reminded me – see comment – that was not so. Unlike this year with Alex Mooney, Jim Pelura served the entire sixty days between the announcement of his resignation and the selection of Audrey Scott at the Fall 2009 convention. Error on the blogger, if you’re scoring at home.)
And in looking at this more recent race, we’re actually dealing with many of the same issues we dealt with back in 2009. In reading through what each of the three candidates has to say about the race, it seemed like three main themes came up: fundraising, communication, and goals for the 2014 election. Specific to each candidate, this is what I took away from their ideas.
Diana Waterman looks to mine some of the former donors who may have stopped or just donated to national candidates. She also promises personal meetings with donors and wants to assist counties in developing their own fundraising strategies for 2014. It’s a sound conservative approach but doesn’t really depart from the plan we have now or the top-down thinking. I know in our county we have ideas for fundraising but we’re never sure what sort of follow-through or assistance we can expect from the state party, if any. At times, it may not even be needed.
On the other hand, while Greg Kline hasn’t yet firmed up his specific plan, his overall goal is to set electoral goals as a product to sell while expanding the pie of potential donors. I like the concept of “1914″ but because this plan is still in the process of creation, we lose more valuable time getting it together.
The things which appeal to me with Collins Bailey regarding fundraising are the specificity of his goals – $800,000 by the 2014 election is actually rather attainable – and the idea of expanding the pool of donors through online fundraising. I was actually considering the next point as a separate post, but I think I’ll bring this example into my writing here.
The other day I got one of my frequent e-mails from Organizing
Against America For Action, which detailed that they had raised money from 109,582 supporters with an average donation of $44 apiece. While $5 million is modest for a national organization with millions of e-mail addresses on file, imagine how many people it would take to raise, say, $240,000 for the party at $40 apiece over the internet. We would be 30% of the way toward our November 2014 goal with a minimum of effort and the assistance of just 6,000 Republicans.
Do you know what the total internet fundraising was for the party from January 2011 to September 2012? $31,352. That’s it. We can do a LOT better – in my estimation we are vastly underutilizing the internet. Advantage Bailey.
Second is communication, which is a hot topic of mine. Needless to say, with the decision already made by Diana Waterman regarding the RNC Rules Committee controversy, I don’t have a lot of confidence she will work to improve communication. Note that I’m not talking about the means of communication but the content of communication. Just like in the arena of fundraising, the MDGOP hasn’t taken advantage of social media and new technology and Diana is part of the team which seemingly sat on its hands.
Meanwhile, Greg Kline gets it partially right in terms of utilizing the new media – and why not? He’s a member of it, as am I. The party should be keeping us in the loop because Lord knows they’re not getting a fair shake from the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post anytime soon; meanwhile, Martin O’Malley and Democrats have their narratives set for them.
But Collins Bailey goes a little beyond that to embrace what he calls an “integrated web presence,” utilizing the social media side of the equation for messaging, fundraising, and outreach. And I believe Collins would also be amenable to following the best aspects of the Kline plan, as Greg would probably lean on advice from Collins. To me, this second area is a wash between Kline and Bailey, as both of them seem to “get it” moreso than Diana does based on her brief track record.
Finally, we have the 2014 goals. Diana Waterman’s goals are relatively modest, though, as she’s looking toward 2020 to achieve her plan. There are two basic problems I see with that deadline: one is that 2020 is not a state election year (and would feature an incumbent President running for re-election as we had in 2012) and the second is that we will have missed the opportunity to reset Congressional and legislative districts for more fairness in the next decade. The time to set that up will be 2018, yet she’s happy to have just a filibuster-proof Senate majority.
Kline’s “1914 Plan” is simple: get that 19-seat minority next year to stop bad legislation or sustain vetoes if we should elect a Republican governor. Greg also preaches the importance of filling out the ballot, wishing to recruit a Republican candidate for every contest on the ballot. Yet what are the long-term goals?
Again, Bailey goes a lot further. And damn it, we should have no less of a goal than turning this state Republican as soon as possible. Did the Democrats sulk and moan that all was lost when they lost Government House in 2002 and saw George W. Bush win nationally in 2004? No – they obfuscated, attacked, and played to win, which is what they indeed accomplished in 2006 and 2008. While we as a state and nation are the worse for it, just remember the stated goal of Maryland Democrats was to “bury (Republicans) upside-down, and it will be ten years before they crawl out again.” Well, I’d like to advance that timetable by a couple years and chuck some of the most useless politicians the nation has ever seen – those Democrats who rule our state with an iron fist – down into a hole of their own making. They’ve taxed us, regulated us, worked to take away our guns, gave us the gateway drug to societal breakdown with same-sex marriage, and made the state a magnet for illegal immigrants. That’s a pretty deep hole they’ve dug and we need to give them a push and grab the shovel to fill it in.
What’s quite funny, though, is that Collins is probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If he doesn’t win, Bailey is happy to work with whoever does. So allow me to share something with you.
Last Wednesday, our four Lower Shore counties held a quad-county meeting as we always do prior to a convention. Collins spoke first, presented his ideas and answered a few questions; meanwhile, Joe Crawford was passing out his literature to those attending. Fairly typical.
Next up was Brian Griffiths, representing Greg Kline, who came by himself. As he began to speak, he started passing around Greg’s literature when Collins interrupted him. Brian gave him a piece when Collins said, “no, give me half,” and proceeded to pass it around the opposite table. To me, that’s the difference between a leader and a statesman, and it’s little gestures like that which convey to me the intent of Collins Bailey to be a rock-solid steward of the Maryland GOP.
That’s not to take anything away from Greg Kline, for whom I have deep respect as someone who has helped blaze a trail for Maryland’s new media. The one key concern I had on his behalf may not come to pass; if it does now I think we know how to deal with it. If Greg’s fortunate enough to win, I’m happy to work with him in carrying out the “1914″ Plan, particularly since I have a sneaking hunch I live in one of those targeted districts.
If Diana Waterman wins, I hope she can work with whoever is elected as the new First Vice-Chair and – once those of us who care get her aligned in the right direction insofar as listening to the grassroots rather than those who seem to treat the MDGOP as a place to wield their microscopic bit of power – work with her on improving our chances in 2014 and not some far-off election cycle.
Originally I was planning on listening to the Dorchester County candidate forum tonight before I made up my mind. But with the voluminous information made available through the internet and social media on the candidates, it occurred to me that there’s already the tools out there for most to do their homework.
But it was that gesture in Fruitland, reinforced by the candid assessment and glowing endorsement of Gary Rumsey of St. Mary’s County, which tipped the scales. I decided that, even though I now have a stake in the race, those who know me also probably believe I’ll still be a fair arbiter of what’s said later tonight in Cambridge. That post will probably be the last thing I write before heading off to Timonium since I’m sure I will pre-write something unrelated to the convention for Saturday.
You know, it’s sort of funny. Originally I thought Collins was some sort of stalking horse for Diana Waterman but now chances are better and better he may walk off with the whole shooting match.
It’s time to put the bickering and acrimony behind us, and I think the best healer will be Collins Bailey. He doesn’t care about credit, just that the job is done right – and we have a LOT of work to do. He deserves your vote Saturday.
I really wish this were an April Fool’s hoax, but instead it’s yet another cruel joke played on Maryland taxpayers who will now be forced to cough up over $3 billion a year to satisfy Martin O’Malley’s lust for spending.
Just this morning the taxpayer watchdog Change Maryland came out with its newly revised summary of O’Malley’s 37 – yes, 37 – tax and fee increases enacted during his tenure. Here’s the sad list.
Needless to say, Change Maryland head Larry Hogan had some biting criticism of the recent O’Malley move:
The Governor calls it the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act that will create jobs, end road congestion and create a 21st Century Transportation Network. I call it the Highway Robbery Act of 2013 – the 36th consecutive O’Malley tax hike that takes us to $3 billion removed annually from struggling Maryland families and small businesses which will cost us even more businesses, jobs and taxpayers.
Our top elected officials went to great lengths to avoid news coverage of the overwhelmingly unpopular gas tax by scheduling key announcements, committee votes and floor action on evenings and late Friday afternoons. The Governor led wind energy activists in chanting ‘give wind a chance,’ while the vast majority of Marylanders wish he would just give taxpayers a chance instead. Our top elected officials don’t know it yet, but they are sealing the deal for a tax revolt in Maryland.
Preferably that revolt will occur at the 2014 ballot box as many members of the free-spending majority party are relegated to the ash heap of history, replaced by common-sense conservatives who will give taxpayers a break and restore the state to a more business-friendly posture to promote real growth.
But it can’t be denied that the O’Malley administration has been good for Change Maryland’s business, as they note:
Change Maryland now has almost 35,000 members and has grown by nearly 10,000 since the most recent tax-raising legislative session began less than 90 days ago.
Bear in mind it was just under a year ago they were celebrating 12,000. Perhaps in a year’s time the cake as originally frosted will be correct.
Placed in terms we all can understand, though, Martin O’Malley’s $3.1 billion of annual tax increases – and this doesn’t count other increases in federal and local spending put into place since 2007 – are costing each and every Maryland man, woman, and child, black, white, Latino, Asian, legal, illegal, or anchor baby about 10 bucks a week or $500 a year. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s one Shorebirds game a week I couldn’t buy a ticket to. For others, as a lump sum, it might be that weekend getaway to Ocean City they cherish. Still others may see it as not being able to treat themselves to Italian ice a couple times a week – the point is, somewhere along the line the state deemed it wasn’t our money anymore, it was theirs.
Certainly some would argue this is the government we duly elected, and supposedly they share the same priorities we do. But if these moves were so broadly popular, as Change Maryland points out, why were they made at the end of the work week or in late-night votes? What were they trying to hide?
Of course no one is volunteering to pay more taxes than they have to, but we’re smart enough to know that there is a certain amount we have to chip in to keep the state functional in doing that which they are charged to do. But somewhere along the line we have crossed from a government performing essential functions to one trying for cradle-to-grave control over our lives, and that to me is a bridge too far.
Today I have two items which may not seem to be necessarily related, but in my mind make perfect sense as a cause and (future) effect. Let me start with that proverbial itch in Martin O’Malley’s back that he just can’t reach to scratch, Larry Hogan and Change Maryland:
Two outcomes of the Governor’s legislative agenda is (sic) to make gasoline and electricity more expensive. We have now seen 36 consecutive tax, fee and toll increases that will remove $3.1 billion out of the pockets of struggling Marylander’s per year, with these motor fuel taxes and the additional fees required of utility customers to support offshore wind.
Instead of developing a coherent transportation policy, our top elected officials took the easy way out by adding yet more of a tax burden to a state that has faced so many in recent years. They choreographed the proposal’s original announcement, committee hearings and final votes to take place on late Fridays and in the evenings to avoid news coverage in the waning days of this legislative session. This speaks volumes about just how unpopular more taxes are, and this may push Maryland to the tipping point. Taxpayers have finally had enough.
The second piece of the puzzle comes from interim state GOP head Diana Waterman:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland’s unemployment rate has almost doubled since Martin O’Malley became Governor. The Democrats in Annapolis have slowed economic growth by raising taxes over $1,500 per family with more on the way.
Maryland’s budgets have increased nearly 25% from $28.8 billion in 2007 to $36.8 billion in 2014. The Democrats say they are focused on “jobs” but they have not done a single thing to make Maryland more friendly to job creators. That’s why 6,500 small businesses have left our state and there are 8 fewer Fortune 500 Companies located within our borders. It is time for a change in Annapolis so we can get Maryland’s economy moving again!
I’ll set aside my thought that it was Change Maryland which trumpeted the 6,500 figure for lost businesses and concentrate more squarely on a more important theory: more than most other states, Maryland is held captive by a tyranny of the majority.
There are two classes of people who, in varying degrees, are either not affected by or prosper from a larger, more all-consuming government.
One is Maryland’s poor, which tend to congregate in the Democratic stronghold of Baltimore City but can be found in small enclaves all around the state. Billions of dollars’ worth of wealth has been transferred via the state coffers from the producers to the dependent, and although this gasoline tax will affect them adversely to some degree (as may the farebox increases for mass transit), on balance the tax hikes will be to their benefit once the money is transferred over to the General Fund. If you truly believe the majority party isn’t going to participate in this plunder – even with the laughably weak “lockbox” provision included in the gas tax legislation – you probably also believe that offshore wind is cheap and abundant energy.
The second group is all those people who actually work for the government, whether federal or state. Because of them, Maryland is one of the more prosperous states in the nation and by outward appearance she has weathered the recessionary storm better than practically anyone else. But that Potemkin village of prosperity only seems to extend to the outside of the Beltway and along portions of the I-95 corridor where enough voters live that they can combine with the group of poor voters I outlined above and run the remainder of the state into the dust. If you’re living fat and happy off the federal government, it’s really not going to matter all that much if you pay a buck or two more to fill up your Volvo; moreover, chances are that in your cocoon you won’t stop and think about how this will affect all the others who have to also pay this new freight.
But there’s the rest of us out here. And even if you’re one of those thinkers who is aware enough of what’s really going on but happen to live among the groups who prosper from the misery of the rest of us, you’re forced to take it in the shorts once again.
There is a day of reckoning that is coming. No, it’s not Election Day 2014, for even if we motivated all the Republicans and thoughtful independents in Maryland to come out to the polls, and even if we can get to what my latest interviewee Bill Campbell alluded - to “control the trajectory that Maryland is going to have economically” by electing a conservative governor and comptroller – we still would have to fight this battle on the federal level with a President who seems determined to ruin this country’s economy and perhaps with a Supreme Court willing to throw aside the words of the Founding Fathers as expressed in the plain language of the Constitution for their vision of a nation which is more “fair.”
Instead, that day comes when, proverbially, Atlas makes the decision to shrug. There’s a new study from the Mercatus Center detailing freedom in the 50 states, and one conclusion they drew was:
The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave.
Indeed, this is true. But what happens when there’s nowhere else to go?
As a state, Maryland may be the canary in the coal mine. But in the longer-term, we as a nation have a lot of work to do just to simply get pointed in the right direction – let alone reverse course. I know it’s a generational struggle and the other side isn’t going down without a fight.
There has to be an uprising of some sort. Note well that guns do not necessarily have to be involved, for the uprising could also be spiritual in nature, or it could even take form as a restoration of the honesty and work ethic for which Americans used to be known. At one time most of us were too proud to take “relief” but now the (so-called) “independence card” is viewed as an entitlement, if not a badge of honor which has been “earned.”
Whatever the case may be, the time between now and that day is getting shorter, and things are changing at an accelerated pace. Let us use the principles many of us share and the technology we have in this era to better things just as our forefathers did almost a quarter of a millennium ago. Remember, if a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide means some will run into the rocks they never saw.
I’m not sure this is the most overly newsworthy item out there, but those many readers I have in the Dan Bongino fan club may enjoy this Next Generation TV appearance he had with Lt. Col. Allen West. (I don’t subscribe to Next Generation, and I’m not sure they allow embedding anyway. So follow the link.)
I did watch it, though, and what impressed me most is how well Dan seems to be handling the constant media demands on his time. He seems to have become the go-to expert on all things Secret Service, too.
But this continues to provide me with the thought that Dan Bongino may be Maryland’s answer to Sarah Palin. At times, I think he seems to be evolving into a figure which is too big for state politics – think of it this way: could you see Sarah Palin running again for an office in Alaska? Granted, there’s a big difference between serving in a political office as Sarah did for several years before becoming a governor and vice-presidential nominee versus running one time for U.S. Senate and getting only a little over 1/4 of the vote, but you would have to admit that Dan is perhaps the most famous failed one-time Senate candidate in the country right now, at least in casual conservative circles.
That’s not to say that Dan hasn’t worked for this limelight; he is certainly a gifted speaker and very articulate in presenting his political platform. Unlike any other Maryland politician with the possible exception of Martin O’Malley – who is an elected official and head of the Democratic Governors’ Association – Dan is perhaps the most well-known politician from the state of Maryland. Granted, we don’t have a lot of statewide officers to begin with and our two United States Senators don’t seem to be the type that naturally gravitate toward the camera, so Maryland is essentially not regarded for its politicians. Dan fills that vacuum well.
Another parallel to Bongino could be that presented by his interviewer, Lt. Col. Allen West. While West did serve a single term in Congress, his political impact would seem to be greater as a media celebrity; one for whom a fledgling internet television network was created. With as many media appearances as Dan makes, the possibility of that being his outlet exists as well.
So when the discussion for 2014 begins, Dan is obviously portrayed as one of the first dominoes which needs to fall. Given that there are already several good candidates in the quest for the governor’s chair and no Senate seat is up for grabs next year, it seems like the coming three years will present themselves as an opportunity to build the Bongino brand as a spokesperson for conservatism across the country. Unlike the situation in 2010, where most Republicans waited on pins and needles to see whether Bob Ehrlich would make a second run at O’Malley, no one is going to step aside for Dan should he opt to run for governor.
Could Dan win in that situation? It’s hard to tell – certainly he’ll have to do well in the minority community to have any shot, but the remainder of the state may well be fed up with the O”Malley tax-and-spend regime.
But I think this decision has to be made sooner than later. As we learned in 2010, being coy and not allowing the political process to sort itself out leads to disappointing results in November. The 2014 primary will be in late June, which gives both parties ample time to heal their wounds and fight for control of the state, but there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. I have all the respect in the world for Dan, but if he wants to do something in terms of running for office in 2014 it’s getting time to let us know. Otherwise, I’ll be interested to see who his Cede No Ground PAC focuses on.
The signs were pointing to a contentious night, but most of the anger was directed toward Annapolis and Washington.
I will grant that I arrived a little late because we had a truncated Wicomico County Republican Club meeting – one which literally lasted five minutes, long enough to swear the new officers in – so I did not hear any introductions or opening remarks from event host and Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who had a show of support from several other local sheriffs.
When I picked up on the proceedings, Congressman Andy Harris was speaking about the lack of NICS prosecutions at the federal level, with a particularly appalling lack of enforcement in Maryland. “States like Maryland will not enforce the law,” Harris charged. “Maryland is one of the worst states” in reporting mentally ill people to NICS.
“This is not about stopping Newtown,” Harris added. Instead, we should enforce the laws we have before adopting new ones.
While Harris drew a very good response from the audience, it was no match for the reaction to always-outspoken Delegate Mike McDermott.
Senate Bill 281, he said, is “not redeemable…it needs to die on the vine.” McDermott added that “if it needed pulmonary resuscitation, I’d stomp on its chest.”
“This is about feeling like you’re doing something,” McDermott continued.
And while there have been “behind-the-scenes negotiations” on the “most intrusive” parts of the bill, the Delegate believed “this is the week to watch” regarding its fate. We still need a good display of public outrage every day the bill doesn’t advance, until April 8. He also noted the bill was assigned to two different House committees, a tactic occasionally used “to water down votes” of confirmed opponents who sit on a particular committee. Not only is the bill being heard in the Judiciary Committee McDermott serves on but it’s also been placed under the auspices of the Health and Government Operations Committee.
He also believed the bill sends “a mixed message” by creating criminals out of law-abiding citizens, and exhorted us to stand firm and make our voices heard.
Event host Lewis began by repeating his testimony on behalf of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association on House Bill 294 (the crossfiled companion bill to Senate Bill 281 now being considered in the House.) He also repeated his oath of office, further pledging “we will fight for you to the end on this issue.”
“This is the right thing to do for the right reason,” Lewis added.
A representative from State Senator Jim Mathias’s office spoke on his behalf, saying he “sends his deep regrets” about not being able to attend due to the Senate session. While the statement contained his point about assisting with the abortive Senate filibuster of the gun bill and his hope that it would be defeated in the House, Mathias also swerved off-point a little by his boast about being “able to work across the aisle” on topics like the gas tax and death penalty repeal.
Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello made the case that “armed thugs in Salisbury don’t care about these laws.” He advocated for an armed deputy in each school to keep them from being “soft targets” and asked us to “hit the pause button on emotion.”
“If you want to protect yourself, the government shouldn’t stand in the way,” concluded Matt, who later called the event “a very cathartic night for me.”
While the opening remarks took around an hour, the bulk of the meeting – which lasted well over three hours – was taken by a number of citizens engaging in a question and answer session with the participants.
Right off the bat, questioners were accusatory in tone toward the state and federal government. “We need to cut (Governor O’Malley) short…he is dangerous,” the initial questioner said. On his mind was the most recent ammunition shortage, to which Congressman Harris responded “we’re not getting a good answer” on Congressional inquiries. He was trying to speak with various ammunition manufacturers to see whether the large government orders were curtailing general consumer availability.
Others were adamant about maintaining their rights in other ways. Here’s a selection of quotes from citizens I jotted down.
“Law-abiding citizens don’t want to be outgunned.”
“Anyone who is naive enough to believe registration doesn’t lead to confiscation is out of their minds.”
“The issue has nothing to do with public safety…(it’s) subverting the Constitution.”
“Once the defensive weapons are gone, you can kiss everything else goodbye…the Second Amendment is our final reset button.”
Another questioned why we don’t adopt the Eddie Eagle program in our schools, with many speakers relating their early introduction to guns.
Yet schools held another manifestation of the problem. A thirty-year veteran teacher recalled the days when kids would come to her class prepared for hunting after school, including being armed with hunting knives inside the school and loaded weapons in their vehicles outside. Now, however, convicted felon juveniles given the choice between “school or prison” are in her classroom without her knowledge. Delegate McDermott chimed in to note he had drafted bills addressing this concern, bills which would have allowed armed school guardians (whether with weapons or tasers) and permitted off-duty officers to carry their guns on school property.
McDermott added his own dig at the gas tax as well, quipping we should use the new funds to “pay for the roadways leaving Maryland, because that’s where the congestion will be.”
There was one well-dressed gentleman who disagreed, believing assault weapons should be banned. However, he was “willing to compromise,” in part because “I don’t understand guns.” Lewis was among many who would be happy to make that introduction.
Matt Maciarello may have believed he would get away without some questioning, but I wondered, knowing that Lewis had pledged not to send his deputies on what he later termed a “suicide mission” at our Lincoln Day Dinner, whether Matt would refuse to prosecute anyone charged with violating the law. Obviously I put him on the spot because he couldn’t make such a blanket promise – I can understand the reasoning since all cases are different, and hopefully the question will be moot.
Another asked him about when civil disobedience was appropriate, which brought up another response Matt had to think about.
One final statement I want to relate was one made by Sheriff Lewis in answer to a question, as it’s also answering something I’ve brought up here. Said Lewis, “I don’t aspire to be a Delegate, I don’t aspire to be a Senator. I aspire to be a sheriff.”
Well, Mike, if you plan on continuing to be my first and last line of defense against tyranny and supporting my right to keep and bear arms against the overreaching arm of the state, brother, you’ve got my vote. One less office for the local Republicans to worry about.
One disappointing aspect of the night, though, was how few local politicians attended. However, Salisbury City Council member Debbie Campbell came after the conclusion of the Council meeting and I was told County Councilman John Hall was also there. But that was it, and that’s really disheartening.
Certainly it wasn’t quite a full house, but after a series of false starts with our list of speakers, the 2013 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner still drew around 80 people last night.
Billed as an event focusing on the Second Amendment, it was that and more. For one, it was an opportunity for all three aspirants for the state party Chair race to meet the most active Republicans in Wicomico County. While I have Greg Kilne (right) in the photo below with fellow Red Maryland writer Brian Griffiths (left) flanking Andy Harris’ local liaison Bill Reddish (in the center), Collins Bailey and current interim Chair Diana Waterman were present as well.
It’s worthy of noting that Kline and Bailey were there well before the event began, while Waterman arrived closer to time. Perhaps she wasn’t thrilled about being questioned right out of the gate, but I don’t believed she stayed long after the event to mingle, while Bailey was among the last to leave.
While one of the two featured speakers, Charles Lollar, is being mentioned as a possible candidate for governor – more on that in due course – another prospective candidate for Maryland’s top job was making his rounds as well.
Craig was being introduced around the room by local supporter Ann Suthowski. He also stopped to greet Lollar and his lovely wife Rosha.
But the bulk of the time was taken up by our featured speakers, including the President in question himself.
Art North has made somewhat of a cottage industry out of his admiration for our 16th President, since he now regularly appears at other local Lincoln Day dinners. For ours, he had two re-enactors posing as Civil War troops and his photographer, Matthew Brady.
Hopefully none of these men consider a run for Congress, because re-enactors tend to attract unwanted attention.
But Lincoln’s message was one more tailored for the modern day. He made the point that to give up on the fact man can make himself in a free society like ours would be to give up on prosperity. “In your era,” he continued, Saul Alinsky camouflaged his intent with deception “foisted upon the general population.”
In his day, though, the tendency for class warfare was kept in check by the knowledge that hard work, diligent study, and striving for success were possible in America. A shoemaker’s son didn’t have to follow in his father’s footsteps, said Lincoln.
Honest Abe also decried the evolution of our educational system from the dictate of the Northwest Ordinance, which led to the introduction of state control of schooling in the affected states (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) to the modern “massive federal control of our education system.”
Who knew Lincoln was such a political animal?
Bill Reddish was called to the microphone to make an announcement about the townhall meeting called by Sheriff Mike Lewis and attended by Congressman Andy Harris tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
He commented that a similar event in Worcester County split about 80-20 toward a pro-Second Amendment crowd. Originally they expected 75, but 250 attended that event so one would expect the WYCC to be similarly crowded.
(As an aside, we will hold a very brief, almost pro forma Wicomico County Republican Club meeting tomorrow so those attendees can get to the townhall meeting and speak if they desire.)
Because Charles Lollar needed to return to the Washington area to do his job, we allowed him to speak first.
It was a long day for Lollar, who had spoken to a men’s conference early in the morning in Baltimore, at the New Antioch Baptist Church; an event at which he was “well received.” They “embraced” his strong Second Amendment stand, Charles added.
“I am convinced our greatest days are in front of us,” he noted, but pointed out we are at a “pivotal crossroads” in our history. Referring to the state of Maryland, Charles warned “we can’t afford our lifestyle,” claiming that $9.2 billion of a $35 billion state budget comes from various federal grants and stimulus money. We bring in only $26 billion of a $35 billion expense tab, said Lollar.
And he made the case that “sequestration is taking its toll, one step at a time” because Congress isn’t doing its job.
He laid out a stark choice for our nation: either a “national revival of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence” or the “beginning of the end of a great nation.” He was heartened, though, by the 5,000 Marylanders who showed up at the pro-Second Amendment rallies, and when it was mentioned by one observer that he didn’t know there were 5,000 Republicans in Maryland Lollar pointed out “these aren’t just Republicans.”
“The biggest fight is for our dollars and our amendments,” said Charles, who believed as well that “losing our freedoms” wasn’t just a Maryland problem, but a national malady. Working for a dollar and only getting fifty cents from it thanks to taxes was “a form of slavery,” opined Lollar.
But it wasn’t just financial issues for Lollar. There’s a danger “when you start messing with the base of the stool” that our nation was built on: morality, ethics, and God. Charles pointed out that, over our nation’s history, it’s been responsible for more evangelicals than all other nations combined.
It’s that moral foundation which makes it necessary to defend freedom “by any means possible,” and the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.”
Charles also reacted to the concept that he takes things so seriously. He grew up in a home which stressed taking responsibility for his actions, he explained, which led him to plead that we “stop playing (political) games with each other in 2013.” “Take some things seriously,” he continued. “My concern is for my country and my concern is for my state.”
Lollar went on. “There are nations salivating for our demise.” He urged us to be like the signers of the Declaration of Independence and “put your name on the document.”
Charles was even serious enough to remark on the standing ovation he received at the end of his remarks, “I haven’t earned that yet.”
Lollar has always had a gift for public speaking, though, and while he hasn’t yet tasted electoral success he’s been in the trenches with his New Day MD PAC and past leadership of AFP Maryland.
I also spoke with Karen Winterling, who’s been pushing the “Draft Lollar” movement. I learned that, due to the Hatch Act, Charles couldn’t make an official announcement on the 2014 governor’s race until June. But Winterling already had an army of 250 volunteers around the state and was hoping for “another 30 tonight.”
Someone else who could get thirty volunteers in a heartbeat was the evening’s final formal speaker.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis has emerged as a leader in opposing Governor Martin O’Malley’s draconian gun law proposals.
“I don’t work for Martin O’Malley,” explained Sheriff Lewis. “I work for the 100,000 people of Wicomico County.” He clearly stated that the county sheriff is the “first and last line of defense against tyranny,” and pointed out a number of his counterparts from around the state will be present for Monday night’s townhall meeting here in Wicomico County.
He also made the case for the right to bear arms. “Who am I to tell a citizen they can’t defend themselves?” Lewis asked. He also expressed his admiration for America’s most famous sheriff, promising that “Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) will be here when I run for re-election in 2014.”
And not only did Lewis take a lead role in the fight to preserve the Second Amendment, he stood in opposition to doing away with the death penalty as well. There’s a framed picture of Sarah Foxwell in his office to remind his deputies of why they do their job.
But Lewis saved most of his remarks for his defense of the Second Amendment. “We’re going to fight hard” against the gun bill, said Lewis, but if it passes “I will not allow any deputies to go into any law-abiding citizens’ houses (to confiscate guns),” Lewis promised.
This legislation will “do nothing” to stem crime in Maryland, Mike continued. It’s our “right, duty, and responsibility” to protect ourselves. Lewis also warned that the Obama administration is “trying to disarm Americans,” and vowed on Monday “we will show everyone the real Obama administration.”
After Delegate Addie Eckardt closed us out with a rendition of “God Bless America,” the formal portion of the event concluded and people had the chance to speak one-on-one with various attendees. I took some additional time to speak with my tablemates from Strategic Victory Consulting, who had come down for the day, and also further renewed acquaintances with my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen of Prince George’s County. (The below photo was taken by Dwight Patel.)
So the Maryland YRs were well-represented, too. It seemed like we had as many or more people from outside Wicomico County as we did locals.
Still, it was interesting to have the attention of the state party on our little corner of Maryland for a day. We may only make up 1/60 of the state in terms of population, but I daresay we make more than our share of political headlines and intrigue. Must be that thriving blogosphere.