Impressions on Maryland’s U.S. Senate GOP primary

Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to get a reading on who I would like to be my Senator from the great state of Maryland. (Spoiler alert: Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen ain’t going to cut it.) It’s been a process of trying to get questions answered, checking websites, and watching some of the debates in order to figure out who the best candidate for me would be.

There are 14 Republicans running for the Senate seat, a number which is unusually high. (In previous cycles, it was closer to 10 candidates.) Of course, with that many candidates in a statewide race it becomes apparent early on who has the most legitimate shot at winning. Granted, this has been helped somewhat by media perception, such as which hopefuls are invited to debates, but realistically only about half of those 14 candidates have any real shot – the rest are just ballot filler. In fact, when I asked the questions of candidates only 12 of the 14 had good e-mails, and two of those 12 have no website insofar as I can tell. (Another has a website with just a front page and no functionality). Sadly, the pair without websites are two of those who answered my questions – but the larger question is how you can beat someone who has $3.6 million in the bank like Chris Van Hollen does? You need money to get your message out.

By the time you separate the wheat from the chaff you get about a half-dozen somewhat serious candidates, with a couple on a lower tier that are running campaigns more suited to a Congressional level. Greg Holmes is one, with another being Anthony Seda, who has pointed out he’s not accepting contributions. Noble, but suicidal in the real world of politics. Let me repeat: you need money to get your message out.

So in my estimation, the race comes down to five: Richard Douglas, Joe Hooe, Chrys Kefalas, Kathy Szeliga, and Dave Wallace. In the last debate I watched there were only three participants as Hooe and Wallace were not invited. Another debate featured all but Wallace, while the Goucher College debate had Holmes, Hooe, and Wallace along with Douglas and Kefalas (Szeliga skipped this debate for a Maryland GOP event.)

So here is how I would categorize the contenders, in alphabetical order.

Richard Douglas is the only one of the five to have run a statewide campaign before, but I’m not seeing that pointed out as an advantage. He also has the benefit of experience working in the Senate, but in this topsy-turvy electoral year he’s forced to run more as an outsider because that’s the political mood. His campaign to me has been an intriguing concoction of a hawkish foreign policy combined with a populist economic outlook. He’s one of only two of the five who has answered my list of questions, and as one would expect I found his answers to be strongest on foreign policy, immigration, and to some extent the role of government. (I also know Richard has religious freedom bona fides.)

In 2012 when Richard ran for Senate and lost to Dan Bongino, I noted he would have been my 1A candidate after Bongino, who I endorsed. I would have been as comfortable with him winning as the eventual nominee, and at this point he’s done nothing to change that assessment given this field. Still, he speaks the language of an insider and that may hurt him.

Joe Hooe has made his key issue that of immigration, advocating for a paid guest worker program he claims will raise $80 billion. He claims it will make taxpayers out of illegal aliens, but my question is whether we could track such a program when we have no clue how many people are in the country illegally because they crossed the border and how many are illegal because they overstayed their visa. And if they refuse to pay to work, how will we enforce this new fee? If they are here illegally, then I doubt they’re suddenly going to have a “come to Jesus” moment and decide to follow a law that will cost them $1,000.

One thing I do like about Hooe is his advocacy for apprenticeship programs, but to me that is more of a state concern than a federal concern. Perhaps it’s the aspect of having to be elected by the people (which was not the original intent of the Founding Fathers) but I think all of these candidates conflate the roles of the federal and state governments to some degree. Education is one of many areas where there should be no government role.

Chrys Kefalas has a background that I think would serve him well, particularly since he’s involved with the manufacturing field. He does well on trade and job creation, but my question is whether he would be anything different than what we have now concerning the social issues leg of the Reaganesque three-legged conservative stool. Surely he (and some others) argue that Maryland has settled on its position regarding social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, but that doesn’t mean we should stop working toward Judeo-Christian values where life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one woman. It’s not quite enough to keep me from voting for Chrys on a general election ballot but many thousands of voters realize a two-legged stool doesn’t work.

Maryland Republicans run into trouble when they try to out-liberal the Democrats on certain issues: if you’re a voter who’s going to vote based on the belief that the unborn is just a blob of tissue and no harm comes to society when anyone can marry anyone else they want – and why stop at one, right? – it’s not likely they’re going to be conservative everywhere else. Meanwhile, you just dispirit the percentage of GOP voters who have that passion for Judeo-Christian values. “I’m only voting for President,” they’ll say. It can be argued that Larry Hogan’s victory was an example of putting social issues on the back burner, but aside from Hogan getting the benefit of a depressed liberal Democrat turnout in 2014, ignoring social issues doesn’t play as well on a national race.

Kathy Szeliga is the “establishment” candidate trying desperately to portray herself as an everyday outsider. With the vast majority of Maryland’s General Assembly Republicans favoring her – mainly because she’s served as a Delegate for six years – she also has received the most attention and support in the race. Using my monoblogue Accountability Project as a guide, her lifetime score of 83 would put her in the upper third of those who have served with her over the years, although her score was more mediocre in 2015 (a 72 rating.) She’s also served as one of the faces of General Assembly Republicans - witness this video, one of a string she has done with fellow Delegate Susan Aumann:

Having said all that, there are two main things that disturb me about Szeliga’s campaign. For one, she has no “issues” page on her website, and I always subscribe to the theory that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. (The same is true for Kefalas.) However, she is reasonably good about answering questions and participating in debates.

But on that point you can tell she is a professional politician. Most of Kathy’s answers seem to be empty platitudes about her life and experiences being a mom, business owner, etc. rather than substantive discussions of the issue at hand. (On the other hand, Richard Douglas has a tendency to talk over the level of the average voter.) Not to be patronizing, but I suspect someone is telling Kathy women voters who would normally be afraid to vote Republican need to be addressed in a non-threatening way – never mind the Democrat who survives the primary will try and paint Szeliga (or any of the others, including the more socially moderate Kefalas) as a stereotypical Republican anyhow.

Dave Wallace, out of the five candidates, seems to be the most conservative. Having read a lengthy treatise of his, most of what he has to say makes sense on a policy level and for that reason I’m leaning his way at this point.

Yet having said that, we also know that Dave lost to a likely opponent by 22 points in a district which is, admittedly based on registration, a D+23 district as it currently stands. In that respect, though, it’s not as bad as the state at large (which is D+32.) We have seen this movie before: Dan Bongino lost by 30 in a 3-way race in 2012, Eric Wargotz by 26 in 2010, Michael Steele by 10 in 2006, E.J. Pipkin by 31 points in 2004, and so forth. I really don’t want a 30-point loss again; unfortunately, too many Maryland voters are stubborn like a mule in voting against their self-interest. (If they “got it,” the most conservative candidate would always win.)

Dave seems like a nice guy and a policy wonk, which I like. But the question is whether he can be a bulldog and attack the Democratic candidate for the failure of the last seven years.

This may not necessarily apply to Dave, although I’m using his space, but I don’t like talk about bipartisanship from any Republican hopeful because Democrats at a national level will nearly always take the hand you reach out to them with, twist your arm off, and proceed to beat you with it. Anyone remember “read my lips?” One of the reasons the bulk of Republicans are fed up with the political system is the lack of intestinal fortitude they see from the politicians they sent to Washington with the message “it’s always been done this way” is not cutting it anymore.

When the TEA Party wave in 2010 put the GOP back in charge of the House, the excuse was “we only control one half of one-third of the government.” Indeed, a do-nothing Senate was a problem. But when the do-nothing Senate was flipped to Republican control in 2014, we still heard excuses about why we couldn’t get anything done. If you want a reason for the rise of Donald Trump, you don’t need to look much further. (Never mind Trump’s not conservative and the bulk of his policy statements have the depth of a cookie sheet. He talks tough.)

If I were to rank my choices in this horserace at the moment, it would go Wallace and Douglas fairly close going into the final turn, with Kefalas a neck ahead of Szeliga for third on the outside and Hooe bringing up the rear. (The rest are chewing hay in the infield.) As it stands now, I will make my endorsement the second Sunday before the primary (April 17.)

In the coming days I will rank the three contenders for the First District Congressional seat. [Yes, there are four Republicans on the ballot but Jonathan Goff is such a strong Trump supporter that he is disqualified. (#NeverTrump strikes again.)] That race is a little different because the incumbent is a Republican so the question becomes whether we want a more straight-ahead conservative or someone who has the reputation of being more liberty-minded? I’ll do some research and hear from one of the three candidates in person in the coming days to help me decide.

Update: Want more? Here you go.

The Article V question

Because the GOP is now the party in power in Maryland, the biannual conventions will have more cooperation and less acrimony. The Fall Convention (which I did not attend for the first time in eight years) was described as a “love fest,” so I suspect the spring edition coming up next weekend in Ocean City may be more of the same.

But there will be a couple interesting and controversial pieces of business brought before the body, with the resolution in support of an Article V Constitutional convention the one likely to draw the most spirited argument. Lee Havis of Prince George’s County is spearheading the proposal, which reads:

Resolution in Support of an Application by the State of Maryland for a Convention of the States under Article V of the Constitution of the United States

Whereas, the State of Maryland has a duty to protect and defend fundamental rights of life, liberty and equal protection of the laws of its citizens from abusive actions and repression of these rights by unrestrained government, and

Whereas, the current operation of the federal government imperils these basic rights through excessive centralized control and lack of sufficient accountability to restrain its actions to a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, and

Whereas, Article V of the Constitution of the United States provides that the Congress, on the Application of Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for the purpose of proposing Amendments to this document, such as to restrain these actions and related abuses of power,

Be it therefore resolved by the Maryland Republican Party that:

The Maryland Republican Party supports the application by the State of Maryland for Congress to call an Article V convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the US Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.

On its face, the resolution makes good sense. Because Congress cannot (or will not) place a check on its appetites for spending, regulation, and lifetime tenure, it would have to fall to the people to demand such a change. But opponents argue that there would be no limit on where the convention could go, and fret that regressives on the Left would hijack such a convention to remove the Second Amendment and put onerous restrictions on others in the interest of “fairness” and “equality.” They further argue that the Left is ignoring the Constitution as it is, so why go through the effort.

To buttress the point of opponents, it should be noted that regressives in the Maryland General Assembly introduced their own Article V resolution (SJ2/HJ2), but in their case it was intended to preserve what they consider voting rights and overturn the Citizens United decision:

WHEREAS, The General Assembly of Maryland favors the proposal and ratification of a “Democracy Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution to affirm every citizen’s individual right to vote, reject the doctrine that artificial entities have inalienable political rights, regulate campaign contributions and electioneering expenditures, and restore free and fair elections in America, and desires the convention to be limited to that purpose…

The Senate bill passed the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee with a 7-4 vote, and it’s passed the Senate by a 29-18 vote. (I don’t have that roll call yet.)

It brings up an interesting legal question as to the specificity of the state’s request for an Article V convention: if Oklahoma passes a call for a convention to deal with the balanced budget amendment, limitation of powers, and term limits while Maryland passes its version, do both states count toward the 2/3 needed? In both instances, the idea is to limit the purpose of the Article V convention but as one opponent pointed out, the idea of the original constitutional convention was to repair the Articles of Confederation, not replace them – instead, we came up with a whole new document.

Regardless, a Washington Times story from yesterday by David Sherfinski highlights a new approach by proponents; in this case Virginia State Senator Richard Black is being targeted for defeat. (In Black’s case, though, it would have to come from an independent candidate as the deadline to contest the GOP primary has passed.)

Presumably Republicans would like to not have regressives like Maryland General Assembly Democrats tinker with the Constitution, yet two Republican Delegates (Susan Aumann and John Cluster) were co-sponsors of HJ2 and Senator Bryan Simonaire voted for SJ2 in committee. It’s possible that other Republicans may have voted for it in the Senate, but as I noted the roll call is not up yet. We have close to four years before the next election, but the proponents (led by Mark Meckler, one of the founders of the Tea Party Patriots) will likely have more than a few Republicans in Maryland to target.

If this state party resolution even makes it to the floor – a dicey prospect at best – I don’t think it will pass. I would tend to agree with the opponents because there’s nothing in Article V that places a restriction on what can be accomplished. I understand Congress isn’t working on the issues conservatives care about, but we run a great risk of losing what freedoms we have should an Article V convention be called.

The 80-20 rule (part 1 of 2)

The Maryland Liberty PAC is at it again.

It’s funny because I generally agree with these folks, but I can’t let their continued leap of logic stand. Here’s some of what we know so far:

  • In 2009, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio voted in favor of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009.
  • A few months later, I wrote in that edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project: “Someday I’m confident that future generations will look back and wonder about the folly of such a bill thinking it would actually impact the climate. In the meantime we have to reduce our emissions to 75% of 2006 levels in eleven years. I know – let’s throw out all of the industry and job creation!” Needless to say, I was against the bill.
  • A couple years later, the Maryland Climate Action Plan was released. This is the document cited by those who insist that Haddaway-Riccio (and others I’ll shortly detail) were responsible for the proposed implementation of the VMT.

This is what the Climate Action Plan says about the VMT:

This policy option addresses transportation pricing and travel demand management incentive programs. It also tests the associated potential GHG reduction benefits of alternate funding sources for GHG beneficial programs. These strategies amplify GHG emission reductions from other strategies by supporting Smart Growth, transit, and bike and pedestrian investments. The draft MDOT policy design, developed by the pricing working group in Phase I, considers four strategy areas combined with an education component for state and local officials. (Emphasis mine.)

The detailed definitions of the four strategy areas are listed below:

  • Maryland motor fuel taxes or VMT fees – There are two primary options for consideration: (1) an increase in the per gallon motor fuel tax consistent with alternatives under consideration by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, and (2) establish a GHG emission-based road user fee (or VMT fee) statewide by 2020 in addition to existing motor fuel taxes. Both options would create additional revenue that could be used to fund transportation improvements and systems operations to help meet Maryland GHG reduction goals.
  • Congestion Pricing and Managed Lanes – Establish as a local pricing option in urban areas that charges motorists more to use a roadway, bridge or tunnel during peak periods, with revenues used to fund transportation improvements and systems operations to help meet Maryland GHG reduction goals.
  • Parking Impact Fees and Parking Management – Establish parking pricing policies that ensure effective use of urban street space. Provision of off-street parking should be regulated and managed with appropriate impact fees, taxes, incentives, and regulations.
  • Employer Commute Incentives – Strengthen employer commute incentive programs by increasing marketing and financial and/or tax based incentives for employers, schools, and universities to encourage walking, biking, public transportation usage, carpooling, and teleworking.

The working group noted consisted (according to the report) of people from four groups:

The Working Groups provided technical guidance and included local representation though the participation of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC), the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), Montgomery County and the City of Baltimore.

They met in the early part of 2009, pretty much simultaneously with the bill’s debate and passage, but there was no real way of knowing whether the VMT proposal would make the final cut until the report’s release two years later.

It’s a way of stretching the truth, so I’m curious why those who made a big deal out of Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio voting for the GGRA don’t say the same about David Brinkley, Richard Colburn, Barry Glassman, Andy Harris, Susan Aumann, Addie Eckardt, and Steve Schuh. All of them, along with the departed E.J. Pipkin and Richard Weldon, departing Bill Frank, and late Page Elmore, voted for the GGRA. Surprised?

Listen, I still say it was a bad vote. But this is why it pays to do your own homework, and also why one mustn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. The Maryland Liberty PAC had Rand Paul for a recent fundraiser, but did they account for his pro-amnesty stance? Or is the Maryland Liberty PAC now in favor of illegal immigration? (Or, for that matter since Rand is doing a July event for them, is the Maryland GOP itself pro-amnesty?)

It seems to me that’s the same sort of stretch MDLPAC and others make when saying Jeannie Haddaway backs a VMT. And of the group of Republicans above, Aumann and Schuh co-sponsored an anti-VMT measure. Does that cleanse them of their previous sins? You can do this with any politician who holds legislative office (as you’ll read further in part 2 tomorrow), which is why outsiders can look so temptingly good.

I went and looked at the issues, one by one, to make my decision. It was a measured decision, not made because of hype or because I was a follower of a particular candidate. So while it disappointed me that Haddaway voted this way (which I knew about back in 2009), I took the 20% or so bad with the 80% or so good.

In part 2 tomorrow I will look at another candidate.

A thin case of semantics

I haven’t weighed in much on the Senate District 4 primary race between incumbent David Brinkley and challenger Delegate Michael Hough except to point out that Hough’s score on the monoblogue Accountability Project has been significantly better over the last four years as part of my summary within.

But the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is reaching back 18 years to reinforce its belief that David Brinkley is pro-abortion, as they dredged out a procedural vote on a 1996 bill which would have banned partial-birth abortion in the state. It was a bill which failed in committee, so its sponsor tried to bring it back as a substitute bill and Brinkley voted against consideration, as did a handful of other Republicans whose names I recognize from that long-ago session.

I also noticed another name among the opponents, and that was Addie Eckardt. I don’t think she’s pro-choice in the least, but it’s interesting that the Senate version of that 1996 bill was co-sponsored by Richard Colburn.

Now I can better understand the logic of equating a vote for a budget which happens to have abortion funding as a tiny proportion of the whole, or not advocating more for the advancement of the PCUCPA bill - which didn’t even get a committee vote – than using this particular vote to paint a candidate with that broad of a brush. I know my opinions on some subjects are different now than they were in 1996, in particular the so-called War on Drugs and term limits, so this is an overreach in criticism as I see it. What Brinkley didn’t vote for in 1996 isn’t as relevant as what no one got to vote for in 2014.

Something that was voted on in 2014, in both the Senate and the House, was an amendment to remove taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Needless to say, neither version passed as the House amendment from Delegate Susan Aumann failed 84-48 and the Senate version lost 29-16. The sponsor of the Senate version? David Brinkley. This is based on information from Maryland Right to Life, which did a three-vote scorecard covering both the Brinkley and Aumann amendments as well as an amendment from Delegate Tony O’Donnell to limit taxpayer funding of third-trimester abortions. Delegate Hough went 2-for-2, as did most other Republicans in the House (Delegate Robert Costa didn’t vote on the O’Donnell amendment and Delegate Bill Frank missed both votes), while all but one Republican voted for the Brinkley amendment – Senator Allan Kittleman was the lone no vote. (If only the GOP were as united on several other issues, but I digress.) They also pointed out the failure of PCUCPA to get a vote.

This is what I mean by seriously reaching. It’s pretty likely that a Republican will be pro-life to one extent or another; on the other hand pro-life Democrats are few and far between. Of course, the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance could pick almost any of those standard-issue Democrats as the “Pro-Abort Legislator of the Year;” my choices would be the committee chairs who wouldn’t even give PCUCPA a vote.

Some may say I’m the pot calling the kettle black given my criticism of certain Republicans in various races. My beef is generally in one of two categories: issue obfuscation or pandering to a particular audience. Thus I have a preference for candidates who spell out a platform which is bold. Say what you will about Heather Mizeur’s views on the issues, but at least she makes no bones about being way out on the last strands of that left-wing feather and clearly states her reasoning.

But there is a point where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. The pro-life movement could do far worse than have David Brinkley re-elected, so maybe the MPLA should train its fire where it will do more good. Check out the pro-abortion votes from Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, for example – wins there from Carl Anderton, Jr. and Mike McDermott, respectively, will do far more good for the pro-life community than this internecine squabble.

Disappearing dollars

Over the last few years, Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga have generally tag-teamed on announcements and updates for their respective districts, which makes sense because they’re representing adjacent areas of Baltimore County.

But recently they did a video which sort of represents the last seven years in Maryland.

No, it’s certainly not the most slickly produced video but I thought it got the point across relatively well – through a little here and a little there, the state is nickel-and-diming us into the poorhouse in the name of wealth redistribution. What, you thought it was government services?

But the wealth redistribution isn’t necessarily from rich to poor; instead it flows from politically incorrect to politically correct, non-connected to crony, and independent to dependent, with the sole aim on enriching the latter listed groups at the expense of former ones. Those at the bottom of the economic pile have to watch out as people fall into their group from above, because it seems like those standing at the top plateau are sawing off the ladder at a fairly low point and pulling it out of reach to the rest of us.

Government isn’t supposed to be like that. As a matter of rule people aren’t excited about paying taxes, but where they tend to object most is when the benefits seem dubious at best. The rain tax is a perfect example of this: we know property owners will pay it and supposedly it will help clean up Chesapeake Bay, but we have no clue how they’ll get from point A to point B.

That’s why this video seems to work.

Odds and ends number 71

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the better part of my audience is going to be tuned into the game because the hometown Ravens are playing, I thought it a good time to clean out my e-mail box and join the celebration. (As a Lions and Browns fan, I’m watching for the commercials. Maybe someday I can have a rooting interest.)

Last week those of us in Maryland were subjected to the State of the State address by Governor O’Malley. In the footnoted version, it’s 14 pages of bilge and big government. The “official” Republican response by Delegate Andrew Serafini (the last 15 minutes here) seemed awfully tepid, so you knew others might have both barrels blazing.

Enter Change Maryland head Larry Hogan, who skewered O’Malley’s speech with a rhetorical spit:

Governor O’Malley’s slogan used to be ‘believe’ but that speech was pure make believe. The Governor continues to misuse facts to portray a false narrative of his administration’s legacy. Only Martin O’Malley could actually call a 30 percent increase in spending and a budget he has increased by $9 billion as making government smaller…The governor said he cut $8.3 billion but that’s just not true. He has increased spending every single year since he has been governor, a total of more than $9 billion. So his math is off by more than $17 billion.

He talked of making tough choices, but after 24 consecutive tax and fee hikes, the only tough choice he has to make is what can we possibly tax next?

Governor O’Malley said we have the worst traffic congestion in the nation. On this we agree. But he failed to tell you that he is the reason we are in this predicament because he diverted funds from the transportation trust fund to pay for other things, and then of what was left in the transportation budget, he only allocated a tiny amount to roads.

He talked about what he inherited. I was a cabinet secretary in the previous administration, and I can tell you that when we turned the keys over to the O’Malley administration, we had a billion dollar cash surplus in the bank, and the state was in the best fiscal shape it had been in decades.

Just six years later and by any objective measure, by any objective group, the state is in far worse shape than ever before. Businesses, jobs and taxpayers are fleeing our state in record numbers. We have fallen behind all the states in our region and most states across the country in nearly every economic indicator.

But Larry saved the best for last:

Unfortunately he checked out of this job some time ago, and is focused on his next one. His entire focus is about his national political aspirations and not about the needs of average hard-working Marylanders who continue to struggle.

I guess he means O’Malley’s future job as a consultant? Sure, he may run for the 2016 Presidential nomination and maybe try again four years later. But Maryland’s getting tired of his one-trick act.

While Hogan may or may not be running for governor, we know David Craig is. His reaction, in part:

Today Governor O’Malley offered a narrative about better choices in his State of the State Address. I share the Governor’s passion for better choices and a better Maryland. The Governor’s choices; however, have resulted in a higher tax burden for Maryland families and businesses, increased regulation, and a myriad of unfunded mandates passed on to local governments.

I would like to offer an alternative vision. We need to strive for the “Best Maryland”. The Best Maryland begins by government allowing individuals and business to lead in partnership with the State. We need to continue to improve our state, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.

We need to make pragmatic choices that balance our priorities and encourage private-sector growth and investment. The “Best Maryland” begins with an approach where our state is not dominated by one set of ideas and one set of leaders.

Is there really anything to that statement? Honestly, who wrote that?

At least with Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga, you have the scripted banter of a rebuttal. It’s worth pointing out that the wind turbines would be in the Atlantic Ocean, not Chesapeake Bay.

But the reaction to one portion of the State of the State address will be seen this coming Wednesday as Second Amendment supporters gather in Annapolis to protest the gun grabbing bill sponsored by Martin O’Malley. Those coming from the lower Eastern Shore to protest have an additional travel option. From the Wicomico Society of Patriots:

Things are heating up in Annapolis with two important hearings occurring on February 6th.  The gun hearing will be held before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00 p.m. and Mike McDermott’s repeal (HB106) of the 2012 septic bill hearing will be held before the Environmental Matters Committee (House of Delegates) at 1:00 p.m.

If you would like to attend to testify on either of these issues or to protest, then you can drive up yourself or you can sign up to ride on a bus with other patriots.

Bus Option #1:  Worcester Tea Party and Stop Agenda 21 are sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis on Feb. 6th.  The bus will leave WOC Park & Ride at 7:30am and Boscov’s in Salisbury at 8:15 am.  Call 410 251 3585 or 410 430 7282 to reserve your seat.  Also, you can email:  www.worcestercountyteaparty.com  or stopagenda21maryland.org for more information.  Cost is $10.

Bus Option #2:  Jamie Wink at Wink’s Gun Shop in Princess Anne is also sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis.  Please call Jamie at 443 783 3993 for more information about this bus trip.  Cost is $20.

I think Jamie Wink would be a great monoblogue advertiser, how about you?

One important note about the proceedings:

If you are testifying: Please arrive as early as possible to sign in, the committee will take sign ins until about noon. You will be given 3 minutes to speak.

If you are submitting written testimony you must bring a copy for each of the Senators who sit on the committee (11 copies) and submit them to Committee staff before noon so they can make sure all of the Senators have the materials on their desks.

There are various parking garages in Annapolis, or you can park at the Naval Academy Stadium and ride the Annapolis Shuttle/Trolley to Lawyers Mall – The Senate Building is right across the Street.

Be prepared to spend the whole day here, whether you testify or not, what is important is that we are there in numbers to stand in opposition. We need thousands of gun owners.

They have all night. However, a little organization may be in order as those who rode the bus (and may have to return by a set time) should speak first. Also be aware that the committee chairs (Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh) are probably going to be more of a stickler for rules and time limits from the pro-liberty side than from those wanting gun restrictions and more oppressive government.

More on SB281 from the National Association for Gun Rights:

Senate Bill 281 drastically broadens the definition of an assault weapon and constitutes one of the most outrageous assault weapon bans proposed in the country.

This bill classifies 15 different types of semi-automatic pistols as “assault weapons” as well as certain types of shotguns and rifles.

This means that if Senate Bill 281 passes these guns will be illegal to purchase or bring into the State of Maryland.

This 38-page bill also bans high-capacity magazines limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

If this bill becomes law, it criminalizes all citizens owning newly banned weapons unless they immediately register their guns with the State of Maryland.

Gun owners who don’t register their “banned” weapons would face up to 3 years in jail or a $5,000 dollar fine under O’Malley’s Gun Grab Bill.

Current law governing carry permits in Maryland makes it almost impossible to carry, yet this bill will make it even harder by requiring a new 16-hour handgun training course.

To purchase or rent a handgun, citizens will now have to pay roughly $400 dollars in fees, background checks, training courses, and finger-printing.

How many criminals will this make out of otherwise law-abiding citizens? Registration can be the first step toward confiscation.

I can almost guarantee you that a vote on SB281 (whether a floor vote or committee vote) will be part of the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project.

But let’s not forget the federal level. I received this note from Heritage Action for America, which alerted me that they are “…looking to build a movement of conservative activists in these areas to hold Congress accountable.” I think I have enough readers all across the Shore who can fit the bill.

These readers (and many others) owe it to themselves to consider a piece by Bradlee Dean at The Brenner Brief. You probably remember Bradlee from his visit last October to the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting, but in this case he’s speaking more about the idea of obedience to the state rather than to God, and how to reconcile the two.

Finally, the question on everyone’s mind: who will win the big game, the Ravens or 49ers? For the Move America Forward group and their troop care package competition, it’s a razor-thin margin after the 49ers jumped out to an early lead. We’ll see if the real Super Bowl follows the same pattern.

My prediction: Ravens, 30-28. Not that I much like it, but Baltimore’s shown a history of winning games they had no business winning – just ask Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, and New England (arguably Dallas, too.) A little karma the other way and they may have been 8-8.

But at the end I’m going to say what I have said for many years, beginning with ex-wife #1:

Me: Well, the Super Bowl is over, so you know what that means…

Spousal unit: What?

Me: (in a rising voice): Only seven days until PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!! (Nine for Orioles fans.)

Bring on the baseball season, baby. My Tigers have some unfinished business to take care of. (Sorry, Orioles. Your time will come.)

Another legislative wrap-up (or two)

Here are a couple items as we await the determination whether there will be a special session for the General Assembly.

First I have a legislative wrapup from a pair of Baltimore County Delegates, Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga. Take your pick; they are essentially the same. I find it interesting how the two have pooled their efforts, which I suppose makes sense since their constituencies are relatively similar.

This leads me to note that I’ll have the final chapter of the McDermott notes in the next few days. Whether he will be as breezy as the duo of ladies seemed to be remains to be seen, but I’m sure he was frustrated by the overall tone of the session and most of the outcomes.

And then there was the assertion, repeated by Annie Linskey at the Sun, that the budget is not balanced. Yet it seems to me we’ve made a number of midcourse corrections in the past when revenues weren’t as expected, so the only difference is that in this case the cuts have to be made by July 1st, when fiscal 2013 begins. Meanwhile, now that the $218 million Maryland Mega Millions jackpot has been claimed the state already has a little bit of unexpected revenue. Somehow the money is always found.

Meanwhile, from the perspective of the pro-business advocacy group Maryland Business for Responsive Government, the “doomsday” budget is misnamed:

“Ironically, the Governor and legislature could have called the doomsday budget a ‘new day’ budget, declared victory and gone home,” said (MBRG President Kimberly) Burns.  ”But it was never intended to be taken seriously, and there will now be a mad scramble to continue government spending at record levels as a special session looms on the horizon.”

When spending is up hundreds of millions of dollars (instead of over a billion, as Governor O’Malley would have liked) the fight over semantics is fairly meaningless, and the ‘doomsday’ is more like the day of reckoning when state taxpayers have their last dimes shaken from them. What really matters is the fact the state is spending more money than it did in fiscal 2012 and it has to come from somewhere.

But I can say that one local business is thriving, and perhaps that’s in some small part due to the patronage of my readers. I’m pleased to announce that the Robinson Family of Business has extended their sponsorship of my enterprise! So look for their advertisement atop the website for awhile longer – if you’d like to join them and my other sponsors, the details are here.

Anti-tax rally in Annapolis March 22

Looks like the TEA Party is going to rear up: while the House of Delegates is debating the State budget the tax revolt will be heard and seen all around Annapolis.

Thursday’s event is a last minute call to action. Tomorrow at noon there will be a group of cars circling the State House starting at noon honking their horn to show their opposition to increased spending. Others will be standing with posters opposing the elimination of the tax cap, stopping tax increases, and asking the government to hold the line on spending. There is also an opportunity to witness the debate first hand. Visitors are invited into the House Chamber in the gallery.

Delegate Susan Aumann (R – Baltimore County) said, “We are facing historic tax and fee increases, and it is government spending that is inhibiting the growth of Maryland’s economy.”

“Enough is enough!” Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R – Baltimore and Harford County) added, “From the beginning of session we had polling that proves 96% of Marylander’s say they pay enough in taxes.”

Tomorrow’s event is expected to draw supporters from all around the state.

The protest is spearheaded by a number of Republican Delegates from the Annapolis area, who are counting on the help of local activists to make a point. Admittedly, the thought of a line of cars circling the seat of government has its appeal because there’s no need to have a large group to make the point. It would be more of a newsworthy event than the equivalent small amount of protesters holding their antitax signs.

It’s probable that the protests won’t do any good, particularly when the Democrats run the General Assembly like their own fiefdom and Governor O’Malley needs the money for his spending initiatives and to refill the funds he looted to balance his previous budgets. And who are we kidding? Those funds will be raided yet again next year as O’Malley begins his push for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

But the success of this event will be more on the awareness front, as the Democrats have been known to overplay their hand. Let’s get as many out who can spare the time and get ourselves in the news.

Delegates: Gay marriage “O’Malley’s path to the White House”

As badly as he has bungled our state, Lord help us if that happens.

Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga released a joint statement on gay marriage shortly after Friday evening’s vote which made several valid points. Here’s what they had to say.

The Governor is pushing his same sex marriage bill he knows that by passing it here in Maryland would look great on his political resume. In fact the Washington Post stated “Perhaps no other O’Malley effort is being watched as closely nationally as same-sex marriage.” I find it extremely appalling that O’Malley is using and abusing our State to advance his own national political agenda to the detriment of our Maryland families.

For those who are ambivalent, thinking that “this won’t affect me”, the consequences of passing gay marriage will permeate many aspects of our society. The definition of marriage does not need to be redefined. I support traditional marriage, one man and one woman, and here is why:

  • Traditional marriage builds families – mom, dad, and children – and gives hope that the next generations will carry that family into the future.
  • In states where marriage has been redefined, activists have implemented a homosexual agenda in the schools to children as young as kindergarten. I am opposed to promoting gay marriage in our public schools and once it is “legal” in this state the curriculum will follow the law.
  • The people of Maryland don’t need the legislature to tell them what marriage is.  Marriage is an institution of the people, not politicians, and the legislature should know better than to try and take the definition of marriage away from them.

This legislation has taken a front seat this session and it is the biggest family issue we are facing but I know it is not the ONLY issue. I know that the taxes and fees, which the Governor is proposing, are an assault on your way of life and I am in Annapolis fighting for you.

There’s no doubt in my mind that gay marriage is strongly backed by a small minority who wants to rationalize their behavior by imposing it on the rest of us. I don’t really care who sleeps with who, but it bothers me when activists couch it as a question of civil rights when truly it’s a matter of choice.

I made the point a few days ago in a comment to this post that perhaps being gay is like coming from an alcoholic family in the sense that if you know booze is going to be a problem you can simply address it by being a teetotaler. In other words, you make the decision and there are consequences. In the case of an alcoholic family, there’s a larger possibility of health problems or accidents caused by excessive drinking, while in the case of choosing to be gay or lesbian you run afoul of most religions and can’t naturally have children – prior to a few years ago you couldn’t be “married” either. Of course, there is a tendency for alcoholism to run in families but I have a harder time seeing a genetic origin for homosexuality – thus, it must be behaviorally based. Remember, up until the middle part of the last century homosexuality was thought to be a mental disorder. Only in the last 40 years or so has political correctness removed that stigma.

But the push from Governor O’Malley only seemed to come once one of his chief rivals for the 2016 nomination, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, got his state to approve gay marriage. Critics on the far left have lambasted O’Malley’s record so he had to pander to the uber-liberal crowd which runs the national Democratic establishment and use gay marriage to establish his social issue bona fides. Raising taxes, falling for the global warming nonsense, spending on environmental boondoggles, sucking up to Big Labor, and playing guitar wasn’t enough; O’Malley had to up the ante.

So unless the citizens of Maryland restore common sense and defeat the bill in referendum this November – and certainly proponents are shrewd enough to know that the larger turnout of a presidential election helps their cause because the proportion of voters who can be seduced by their “fairness” argument will be larger in a presidential election than a gubernatorial one – come January 1 there will be a run on whatever locales will be open that day for gay and lesbian couples to be “married.”

Will it make a difference in the short term? Probably not, but this was never really about here and now. As Delegates Aumann and Szeliga point out, legitimizing the homosexual agenda in schools will only be the start, particularly in an era where children are vulnerable to that sort of exploitation. There’s a reason that support for gay marriage is much stronger among youth than it is among older people, and it has nothing to do with “tolerance” because true tolerance would welcome all views, and it’s clear not all views are appreciated in schools - Christians and others who believe in traditional values need not apply.

The next two years promise more of the same because it’s no longer about what’s best for Maryland. Instead, it’s going to be about what’s perceived to be best for Martin O’Malley’s future political plans. California may have some company as the loony liberal trendsetter.

Odds and ends number 43

More of the small stuff you love! Let’s begin with this.

Up in the Second Congressional District, GOP candidate Larry Smith is challenging his four rivals to eight hour-long debates on various issues. But considering he has more to gain than two of his rivals (who serve in the Maryland General Assembly) that’s probably a pipe dream – not to mention they would likely be in session several nights a week.

But the key complaint Smith has is simpler: “This election should not be decided on who has the most insider endorsements, but rather who would be the best representative of the voters of the district.” All that is true, but if these debates were to come to pass I would hope that a conservative runs them, rather than the debacles we have seen with the GOP Presidential debates and their “gotcha” questions.

I wish Mr. Smith the best of luck in going to Washington.

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Odds and ends number 42

As you likely know, this is the post where I pick out a few items worth a paragraph or three but not a full post. So here goes.

Polling is in the news these days – sometimes as a real reflection of the political scene, and sometimes just to make news and push a particular agenda. There are two recent polls which I believe reflect the latter.

I’m usually not too trusting of polls in which I can’t find a political or geographical breakdown, and a recent Washington Post poll fits this bill. Taken simply as a sample of 1,064 adults in Maryland, the Post poll gives Martin O’Malley a 55% approval vs. 36% disapproval – compare that to the 53-40 split in the recent Gonzales Poll, which I can easily ascertain subgroups and methodology in. Other disagreements: a 50-44 split in favor of gay marriage on the Post poll vs. a 49-47 split in favor on Gonzales and the “key issue” question: the economy was the top choice of 49% in Gonzales but only 32% on the Post poll.

Without seeing the methodology besides the sample size, my guess is that the local Washington D.C. area was oversampled by the Post. Obviously the economy is better there than in some other portions of the state, and since the area is more liberal than the rest of the state (hard to believe, but true) the other numbers seem to point in that direction as well.

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