Odds and ends number 54

Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.

Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:

I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.

Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:

Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.

This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.

Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.

One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.

The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.

Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.

Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:

The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.

Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.

And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:

A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.

Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.

Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:

THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

(snip)

I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.

For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.

And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)

Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.

If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.

The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!

So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.

Putting O’Malley on the ballot

With the recent blowup of the Change Maryland study I’ve written about a few times over the last couple weeks, it’s clear that Governor Martin O’Malley has been installed into the state’s political conversation to such a degree that we’re forgetting two key facts: one, he’s a lame-duck Governor, and two: he’s not anywhere on the 2012 ballot. Those who bemoan the fact that Democrats are running against George W. Bush two elections on (because President Bush hasn’t run for anything, even dogcatcher, since 2004) may want to consider the fact that Martin O’Malley, while representative of the typical liberal tax-and-spend philosophy, isn’t the opponent in any of these 2012 state races and each of these contests has its own dynamic.

A good example of this is Dan Bongino’s campaign, which has attempted to tie incumbent Senator Ben Cardin and O’Malley together by portraying the Senator as a mute observer of the Maryland political scene as well as the Obama re-election campaign, which IS on the ballot. (By the way, Bongino has some choice words as well about the Obama tactic of insinuating Mitt Romney is a felon.)

But there is a political reality at work when it comes to placing O’Malley as a surrogate on the 2012 ballot. The only way to really know whether O’Malley’s missteps will hurt the Democratic cause this fall is to see polling data on his approval rating, which earlier this year was pegged at 55% in a Washington Post poll and 53% in the Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research. (A useful item in the Maryland Poll is their historic polling, which showed O’Malley’s approval dipped into the upper 30’s in early 2008 after the passage of multiple tax increases the previous fall. But obviously all was forgiven by re-election time in 2010.) If O’Malley’s policies remain popular, such a negative approach toward him may backfire with voters who aren’t paying a tremendous amount of attention yet and only read the spin on his frequent Sunday morning guest appearances.

We know that MOM has been raked over the coals but good from the Change Maryland study as well as bad jobs reports and the ineptitude of the end of the regular General Assembly session this spring. We can add the tax increases passed in the first Special Session and the poor handling of proposed gambling expansion via another on-again, off-again Special Session which may occur to the chalk marks on O’Malley’s negative ledger.

Unfortunately, at this point it’s difficult to tell just how bad of a summer the Governor has had because there aren’t any major polls out there which peg O’Malley’s approval, and I’m not privy to any internal campaign polling to clarify this approach. Obviously if Governor O’Malley is in the same range as he was in early 2008, tying him into other Democratic candidates may work; otherwise, it’s simply repeating the approach of solidifying a base that should be pretty well sewn up by now. I believe that’s the analysis our side gives when we see Democrats blaming George W. Bush for the nation’s ills even though the former President has been quietly living civilian life since January of 2009, so it should probably apply to Martin O’Malley until we see more conclusive proof that the negatives are there to use as an anchor to other candidates.

Notwithstanding the handful of county races or whatever issues survive the all-but-certain judicial process to be placed on a statewide ballot, there are ten key races in Maryland and eight of them feature Democratic incumbents. (That’s eight members of Congress including the six Democrats, the U.S. Senate seat, and Presidential race.) We all know that these incumbent Democrats have run away from their records for the most part because, except in certain limited quarters, who would want to be associated with such a record of failure as that wrought by the man at the top of the ticket? Their only tactic seems to be blaming Bush and lying about how bad things were under his watch – I’d take 5% unemployment right now, how about you?

So I’d really be interested to see just how much this month has affected Martin O’Malley’s approval rating before going all-in on including him with the remaining races to be fought. Having said that, though, because Change Maryland is an organization concerned with the state of the state, I think MOM is fair game for them and I’d be disappointed if they didn’t question his tax-and spend record and its effects on the state’s economy.

If they’ve driven his negatives up to 2008 levels, using it in campaign 2012 may not be a bad play – but let’s see some evidence of that first.

Taking the fight to the enemy

You know, I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of WaPo readers are way, way out there. (We won’t go into how flaky most of the columnists are, although the paper does feature two solid, if sometimes elitist, conservative voices in Charles Krauthammer and George Will.)

They have an article today about the state of the Maryland GOP, one which richly deserved comment from yours truly.

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Well, whadda you know, the WaPo and a host of Republicans quoted have finally come to the point I’ve been making for four years.

It’s sad that we had an eminently qualified Comptroller on the ballot (which would you rather have looking over the state’s finances – someone with decades in the business or someone who was initially elected based on the name recognition of 20 years as a legislator) yet people ignored the obvious difference or took out the failings of the top of the ticket on him.

To address the previous commenters who said the GOP didn’t run enough ‘moderate’ candidates, guess what? We ran two (for governor and U.S. Senator) and both lost by double-digits. Apparently you saw Democrat and Democrat-lite and voted for the real thing.

The weakness at the top of the ticket statewide (along with the shrewd packaging and marketing of the respective records of two different, yet somewhat similar governors) allowed the Democrats to buck the national trend and carry the day.

Do Republicans have work to do in teaching the benefits of a common sense limited-government platform in some communities? Of course they do. It’s tough to compete with the candidate who promises a boatload of freebies to be paid for by someone else.

But compete we shall, even when you have to take the message to the heart of the opposition as I do here.

Just ask yourself: who do I feel more comfortable with in handling my affairs and providing those things my family needs? Is it some bureaucrat in Washington or Annapolis, or is my own hands, head, and heart?

In short, that’s the GOP message. You have four years to learn it before Maryland has its next election.

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As I tell my friends (and my enemies) I don’t mince words and I don’t bullshit around. I can already see the attacks on this, but you know this is our message and a lot of the reason why the GOP lost – a weak top of the ticket and a campaign which was won by a Democrat who seized control of the narrative early.

(Perhaps if someone had gotten in the race earlier as I advised him to that message could have been under his control. But he waited around, and on this occasion good things didn’t come to those who wait.)

I’ll let the WaPo comment spammers enjoy throwing knives at that, and check back when I get a chance. It’s just a sample of what we need to do and how we need to take the fight to enemy territory (which isn’t really all that much of Maryland geographically but a whole ‘nother state philosophically. So much for ‘One Maryland’.)

Four years isn’t all that long; in fact it’s pretty short for the work which needs to be done.