Ambitious agenda? No, a vapid response

I was somewhat remiss last night in not mentioning the Democrat response to Larry Hogan’s State of the State address. Delivered by Delegate Anne Kaiser, I was expecting more of a robust set of disagreements but a pledge to work toward a better state in a bipartisan manner.

Then I remembered we were talking about Maryland Democrats here. Party Chair Yvette Lewis exhibited their true attitude in a pithy statement:

Today, Marylanders expected to hear from Governor Hogan a clearly stated vision for our State’s future. Instead, we got another campaign speech, even though the campaign for Governor ended almost three months ago. With cuts to education, and higher tuition being forced on our students, the Governor should look for ways to lessen the load on the middle class, instead of balancing his budget on their backs.

Governor Hogan’s campaign speech today does not reflect the actions he has taken or has told us he will take in the future. He said our students deserve a “world class education”, yet he cut $143 million from education. He said he knows that nitrogen and phosphorus run-off is the cause of the bay’s pollution, but he overturned an executive order on the Phosphorus Management tool that would decrease nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, and announced he will try to get rid of the storm water management fee. Simply put, the rhetoric doesn’t match the record.

Voters chose him to “Change Maryland”, but it looks like we, the taxpayers, are getting short changed instead.

Well, let’s see here. I would say Hogan’s vision is one of prosperity based on the tried and true approach where helping business succeed makes a state more prosperous. It’s embodied in a phrase attributed to a Democratic President, John F. Kennedy: “a rising tide lifts all the boats.” If you heard this as a campaign speech, given the opportunity Hogan wished to take in introducing himself and comparing and contrasting his agenda to the failed one of the last eight years, well, be my guest. But you’d be wrong.

Now, about those “cuts to education.” I admit I have a public school education, but I think I did pretty well in math. So when I look at the FY2016 budget and I see that the two figures under the FY2016 column for Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education are both larger than those same two figures under FY2015, I wonder where the “cut” is.

Expressed in millions of dollars, it’s FY2016 (7,513 + 5.954) – FY2015 (7,451 + 5,855) = 161.

I will grant it’s not a huge increase like you may think education deserves – but we were running a deficit here, Mrs. Lewis, mainly because the last governor and member of your party spent money like it was going out of style. Now the adults are in charge, so increases are more modest – if you call $161 million modest, that is – but they are paid for without raising taxes. (I know you hate that, but those of us in the hinterlands think it’s a refreshing change.)

And speaking as a person who would like a balanced approach to improving the Chesapeake Bay, why is it you wish to penalize the farmers who are doing their part while dismissing the upstream participants from responsibility? Oh, and the term is not “storm water management fee,” it’s “rain tax.” Own it, because it was your idea.

So the fact that Hogan is spending only a few hundred million dollars more this year than last is considered “short changing” Marylanders speaks volumes about the fact the other side is still in shock that the natural order of things was disturbed and a Republican became governor. In their entire responses, it was all about spending more money. Can’t Democrats come up with a solution which doesn’t involve more money out of our pockets or more government?

Democrats always claim to be the party of the working man, but too many Marylanders aren’t working and aren’t keeping ahead in this state’s moribund economy. In November, voters decided a new approach was necessary and it’s clear by their responses that Democrats haven’t been getting with the program.

Odds and ends number 51

Once again, my occasional look at those items I find are worth a paragraph but maybe not a full post.

I’m going to start with some reaction to the recent comments by Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis regarding the ongoing redistricting petition. This comes from Radamese Cabrera of the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC, a group which opposed the current gerrymandering because they felt minorities were underrepresented.

While he discusses the lack of logic in splitting large counties and Baltimore City into multiple Congressional districts, I think the most interesting allegations come here:

The Fannie Lou Hamer PAC firmly believes that the majority Black jurisdictions of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County and the majority-minority county of Montgomery were drawn to protect and elect White Male Democratic representatives.  I believe that Congessman Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Ruppersburger and Congressman John Sarbanes are afraid to represent a White voting majority Congressional District.  These individuals could only win in a White plurality districts.

In plain simple language, this means they need a District with a Black population with at least 25%.  It will be interesting to see if John Delaney (D) can beat Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the 6th Congressional District when the this District is very conservative and has a large White plurality vote.

To quote Governor Howard Dean in the 2004 Presidential Campaign, “Why are White Democrats afraid to campaign and win elections in jurisdictions that are 90% + White?”  Ms. Lewis, the question that needs to be raised in 2012 is; Why are White Democratic elected officials at the Federal, State, and County levels afraid of campaigning in majority White Districts?

The question not asked here is the more obvious one: why do minorities consistently vote for Democrats? If you look at economic results since the days of the Great Society one would have to conclude through a preponderance of the evidence that monolithically voting for the Democrats has provided a disservice to the black community. Voting 75-25 in favor of Democrats instead of 90-10 or 95-5 might just get someone at 33 West Street to really pay attention to your needs. After all, white people split their votes so both sides try to earn our trust.

The next item I wanted to talk about probably has no hope in hell of succeeding in Maryland, at least until 2014. But Bob Williams of State Budget Solutions has written a piece on how to deal with government employee unions. It’s timely in the wake of Wisconsin’s success.

Besides unions in states which aren’t ‘right-to-work’ states (Maryland is not one) I can’t think of any other entity where money is taken from a person involuntarily and used for a political purpose the worker may not approve of. If some state official went around and told employees they had to donate to his or her re-election fund or be fired, the official would be run out of town on a rail once that was found out. But unions do this and no one bats an eye – of course, when that power is taken away (and Williams provides examples of this) Big Labor finds itself in big financial trouble.

Unfortunately, Maryland finds itself going in the other direction – for example, child care workers are now forced to either join the union or pay a “service fee” to them. And guess where they go? To the union’s “Committee on Political Education” (read: contributions to toady Democrats.)

Speaking of unions, I wanted to follow up on something I wrote on Examiner about three weeks ago. I noticed a few days later the picketers had gone across the street to picket Walmart, at least for one day. (I suspect Wendy’s may have taken exception to the group of three people drawing attention to their restaurant.) But a friend I spoke with who works at Walmart contended the picket wasn’t about the Salisbury store but rather one being built in Denton, Maryland – presumably by non-union labor. Regardless, I don’t think it’s going to hurt Walmart’s business and people are going to be happy to finally have them in Caroline County rather than drive to Easton, Seaford, or Dover.

Troopathon 2012 logo

And now about the image you see on the left. I’ve spoken about this event a few times in the past, and while we seem to be winding down in our foreign military involvement it’s a sure bet that we won’t be retreating to Fortress America anytime soon.

So this year Move America Forward selected Thursday, July 12 as its date. It seems like this is a little later on the calendar than it has been in the past, so maybe they’re looking to take advantage of the patriotic fervor that comes in the wake of Independence Day. (Or, more likely, it works better with the calendar of proposed guests and hosts – a list which will surely be announced on the Troopathon website once it’s restarted over the next few weeks.)

The Move America Forward group also promises a revamped theme:

For Troopathon 2012, we’re taking the gloves off and giving Troopathon a much more raw, gritty theme than you have seen in the past. No more fancy stuff, just raw in-your-face and fervent support for our troops in Afghanistan! (Emphasis in original.)

Perhaps that’s a necessary change because, after raising $1.3 million in the first rendition back in 2008, their results have petered out to around $500,000 last year – a nice total, but short of their $700,000 goal. And while that may not matter so much simply because there are far fewer soldiers afield than there were in 2008, the lack of support also sends a subliminal message to both our troops and our jihadist enemies.

The final note will be a programming note: as I let my monoblogue Facebook fans know on Friday, I will have an interview with U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino up at 8:00 tonight. If you want some of the inside scoop on this site, become a Facebook fan of mine!

What Bongino doesn’t do – and what he does

I thought this was worth some comment on, but decided it didn’t belong on my Examiner page at this time – I may refer back to it in the future.

Earlier today U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino had this as his Facebook status:

I do not wear suits because I want to look like a Senator, I wear them out of respect for the audience I am speaking to.

I do not wear jeans because I want to look like the “everyday man”, I wear them because I am one.

I do not speak about common sense economic policies because I dislike the opposing political party, I do it because I love our Country and want my daughters to enjoy a prosperous future.

I do not stand in front of Camden Yards, Metro stops and at intersections sign waving for media attention. I do it for voter’s attention. You deserve to know your options.

Finally, I am not running for Senate for the title, the power, or the privilege. I am running to shake up a power structure which has become insulated and insensitive to the needs of genuine, working class Americans just looking for a small corner of the world to call their own.

At the risk of pandering to an audience, a few things came to mind when I read that. One was that both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush rarely ventured into the Oval Office sans suit and tie, such was their respect for the office. Certainly Dan feels it’s appropriate to live by that rule when representing himself in certain situations, and that’s fine. Bongino certainly doesn’t present himself as the aloof type, even in suit and tie.

It’s certainly interesting when you compare this to Ben Cardin’s efforts to portray himself as a “friend,” grandfatherly with the kids and hard-working with the oystermen. He has to do that because it keeps people from realizing that, for the majority of Marylanders, Ben Cardin has been in public office longer than they have been alive because the state’s median age is 38 and he’s been in office 45 years. Yes, millions of Marylanders have never seen Ben Cardin with a “real” job, whether it’s working with oysters or not.

Meanwhile, Bongino has worked in law enforcement and never sought public office until his Senate run. While I don’t know this for a fact, I suspect that if I asked him he would probably turn up his nose at serving more than two terms in the U.S. Senate. Seems to me the idea of a citizen legislature was one where people would return to being citizens after a few years, not leave their offices feet-first in a box.

Nor do I dislike Democrats personally. Admittedly I don’t have a lot of Democratic friends, but they know where I stand politically and they deal with it. They’re still good people.

But they need to look in the mirror and ask themselves: if we have had policies in effect for most of the last half-century and they’re not succeeding, isn’t it possible we were wrong all along? No one’s really tried limiting government, although you would think when Republicans talk about cuts that we were going to no government at all. I have news for you: limited does not equal none.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Bongino is running that retail campaign, getting out and meeting voters in person, in part due to necessity. Ben Cardin has millions of special interest dollars in the bank and I suspect his campaign will consist of carpetbombing us 30 seconds at a time with the message that he would be doing all these wonderful things for Maryland if it weren’t for conservatives like his neophyte opponent who want to take your Social Security check and clean air and water away (or some such variation of that theme.) What else does Ben have to run on?

Sad thing is that Cardin may win without so much as a debate or tough questioning from the mainstream media in this state! Do you recall a Wargotz vs. Mikulski debate? Neither do I, and I doubt Ben Cardin has the guts to debate Bongino either. Come on, if Ben’s so smart one would think he’d mop up the stage with Dan, but we know it’s not going to happen because professional incumbent politicians never take that sort of risk unless they absolutely have to. And no one is going to make him do it.

If the power structure is going to be shaken, it’s going to be a determined and small minority taking on the Democratic and media machine in this state. Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass if Maryland Democrat Party Chair Yvette Lewis doesn’t like the idea of petitions because I’m sure she’s all in favor of the petition which put Scott Walker on the recall ballot in Wisconsin. Hypocrite. But that’s the way the Maryland Democrat Party works.

So let’s get out there and shock the world.