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Category ArchiveMaryland politics



Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 24 Oct 2014

Can MD GOP Chiefs & Baltimore Black Leaders Work Together?

Maryland conservative activist** Ed Hunter emails us today–

“There is constant talk in the Republican Party of how they can more effectively reach black voters, especially in Baltimore. It turns out that key black leaders in Baltimore are similarly trying to reach someone in the Republican establishment who will listen to their concerns about unemployment, immigration, and gay marriage.  
Recently we have been distributing flyers on the street corners of Baltimore that point out the impact that mass immigration has had on blacks.  This outreach has been met with much support and exclamation. Currently black unemployment in Baltimore is 55%. The effect of bringing in millions of illegal, and legal immigrants when black Americans cannot find work has been devastating.  There is a great deal of  black outrage over the Democratic Party’s policy of open borders, as well as over voting, dream acts, and citizenship for illegals. These are perhaps key issues for many blacks who see the Democratic party as taking them for granted while effectively erasing their cultural identity.
We have the names of several black ministers who are imploring some Republican to come to address their congregations.
If someone will contact us, we can make arrangements for Republicans to meet with local conservative black pastors.
Through our street level activism, we  have found that the myth that Baltimore is lockstep Democratic territory is just that: a myth. There are many Christian conservative blacks who are alienated by the ‘progressive’ agenda.  Furthermore the level of discontent with false leaders like Congressman Elijah Cummings and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is intense.
If Republicans will stop letting the liberal left control the conversation and stop being Democrat-Lite on the issues of mass immigration and gay marriage, they will find, as we have, that many blacks are very ready to abandon the Democratic Party.” (Highlighting Forum’s throughout.)

Maryland GOP leaders interested in meeting with Baltimore conservative black pastors can reach independent businessman Ed Hunter by email here.

**  More on Ed Hunter: here (Town Hall statement on Fox News’ Greta); here (“Overpass Media”); here (working with Virginia Tea Partiers demonstrating in Eric Cantor’s district); and here (refugee resettlement testimony).

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 04 May 2014

47% of Marylanders Want Out? Why? Who Will Stay?

Last Wednesday Gallup’s Lydia Saad reported here

“PRINCETON, NJ — Every state has at least some residents who are looking for greener pastures, but nowhere is the desire to move more prevalent than in Illinois and Connecticut. In both of these states, about half of residents say that if given the chance to move to a different state, they would like to do so. Maryland is a close third, at 47%. By contrast, in Montana, Hawaii, and Maine, just 23% say they would like to relocate. Nearly as few — 24% — feel this way in Oregon, New Hampshire, and Texas.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
Skilled professionals fleeing East Germany

Skilled professionals fled East Germany before the Wall was built.  AP via US Diplomacy Center

It is no secret that Maryland’s business and tax climate provide serious motivations for many of its productive citizens to leave.

The Tax Foundation lists here Maryland among the bottom 10 (41st)  “lowest ranked, or worst, states” in their 2014 edition of the State Business Tax Climate Index

Even the ruling Maryland Democratic Party seems to be concerned about tax producers leaving.  After more than a decade of stubbornly separating (or “decoupling”) the high Maryland estate tax rates from president Bush’s death-taxes relief, the General Assembly just approved “conforming” Maryland estate taxes to the Federal code. Presumably governor Martin O’Malley will approve the measure.  According to the 90 Day Report (at A-12)

House Bill 739 (passed) conforms the Maryland estate tax to the value of the unified credit under the federal estate tax. The bill is phased in from calendar 2016 to 2019. The practical effect is to increase the amount that can be excluded from $1.5 million in calendar 2015 to an estimated $5.9 million in 2019. The legislation is expected to reduce general fund revenues by $21.0 million in fiscal 2016. This increases to $105.0 million in fiscal 2019. When fully phased in, reduced revenues total $154.0 million in fiscal 2021.”

Jeff Gordon here writes a useful plain-words piece, “The End of the 12 Year Maryland Estate Tax Experiment.”

(Full disclosure: I here and my then-colleagues in the Maryland Taxpayers Association here and here firmly opposed any decoupling from the Bush tax cuts.)

The Gallup polling organization provides another measure of Maryland discontent, focusing on residents who actually plan to move out of state within a year.  Maryland residents are the fourth-most likely to be planning such a move “within 12 months.”

Moving numbers

In 2006, Maryland economists Steve H. Hanke and Stephen J.K. Walters explained the Maryland Problem here in their “Hard Line State: Big Labor’s War on Wal-Mart Claims Casualties Among Poor Marylanders.”

Wrote Hanke and Walters:

“Some estimate that as much as a third of the state’s economic activity stems from federal employment and purchases. Over 150,000 Marylanders—six times the population of tiny Somerset—are on the federal (nonmilitary) payroll; they are concentrated in central Maryland, near the nation’s capital. Nearly 268,000 more Marylanders draw checks from state and local government.
With so many workers in a sector where revenues appear to arrive automatically and inefficiency never leads to bankruptcy, our state’s resulting political culture is quite predictable. Many Marylanders are simply unmindful of the necessities of survival in the private sector: pleasing customers, controlling costs and satisfying shareholders. Thanks to the federal tax dollars collected from the rest of the country and spent in Maryland, the prevailing view of economic reality is inverted: The public sector is seen as the engine of prosperity, with the private one along for the ride.
Reflecting this culture, our legislators often behave as if business is a problem to be solved.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

The Tax Foundation reminds us that Maryland has been doing very well by the Federal government. In their “Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received by State, 1981-2005″ here, Maryland’s gain in 2005 (the last year calculated) was $1.30 “in Federal spending received per dollar of tax paid.” Virginia’s gain was $1.51  “in Federal spending received per dollar of tax paid” that year.

Are Maryland Conservatives Swelling the Exodus? Should They?

Conservatives certainly make up a share of those individuals and families leaving Maryland to take specific business or retirement opportunities outside of the state.

But here we are asking a different question:

How many Maryland conservatives would leave principally to find a less statist home. To seek, for example, jurisdictions with no war on guns, i.e., self-defense, states with no “smart growth” plans to erode property rights. And to find a more welcoming life without a militant cultural Marxism in schools or attacking the family structure? Seeking jurisdictions without the negative consequences of illegal immigration? And seeking those that put a high value on public safety?

Virginia, as it turns out, is no safe haven. Recall that the outgoing GOP governor left the Old Dominion with a giant tax increase. The current Democratic administration in Richmond is pushing their own cultural (gay marriage) and fiscal (Medicaid) transformations by executive action, ignoring the state constitution and the House of Delegates. (Virginia, however, does have very strong gun-rights organizations.)

The short answer is that there are few places to hide anymore, and conservatives shouldn’t be hiding anyway. They should be spreading the faith. wherever they are.

With the exception of a few jurisdictions like New York City, or states like California or others that are becoming Marxist enclaves — conservatives need to organize and fight where they are.

The jury is still out on Maryland.

Everyone understands that the Maryland GOP is a weak reed, whose spokesmen reflect the Hollow Men of the Beltway GOP.

There is no Maryland Tea Party remotely comparable to the publicly articulate and effective Richmond Tea Party.

But Maryland has at least one great strength. The state has substantial policy creativity to build on, fathered largely by Carroll County commissioner Rich Rothschild and his circle.

Faithful readers will recall Rothschild’s world-class conference to counter the Plan Maryland scheme here.

If Maryland conservatives decide to stay and fight, however, they need to organize on a statewide basis. In 2011, we suggested one approach here — there may now be different structures for such a statewide organization.

One thing is sure. Old Line State conservatives must act and innovate independently of a Republican Party that is deeply conflicted nationally and in many states.

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 28 Mar 2013

Maryland Taxpayers to Montgomery County Porkers: “My Treat?”

Blair Lee (GazetteNet) points (click here) to the habitual excesses of the tax predators of Annapolis with his lively “Your 86 percent Gas-Tax Increase”–

“But then, at the last moment, O’Malley came out with a new tax that’s larger than any of the other 32 tax hikes he’s put into law during his seven-year tenure.”

Tax and Tax — Spend and Spend

Conservatives understand governor Martin O’Malley’s zeal to grow government and his eagerness to show the Hard Left kingmakers what a fine national candidate he would make in 2016.

But Montgomery County’s Democratic sachems are not going to be left behind in the political dust. They have been pushing for local projects to be paid for with statewide taxpayer money — which projects will warm the hearts of at least the Soft Left.

Here are some illustrations.

Bethesda’s Writer’s Center

Click here to see this proposed $250,000 slice of scribblers’ pork.  Click here to see how much the Writer’s Center got from the state in the past, as well as how much they plan to get from Montgomery County.

Silver Spring’s Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Space

Click here to see this proposed $500,000 slice of  pork for artists. Click here to see how much the Silver Spring Arts Center Space got from the state in the past.

Renovating Playgrounds, Adding Patios at West Fairland Park

Click here to see this proposed $330,000 slice of pork –with taxpayers across Maryland footing the bill —  for one of Montgomery County’s 400-plus parks.  Get the details here of how much the Montgomery County parks have received from the state in the past.

Staunching the Olney Theater’s Craving for Bacon?

Click here to see the proposed $500,000 slice of entertainment pork for the Olney Theater — relatively modest compared with what (click here) that theatrical enterprise has received from Maryland taxpayers in the past.

The Carving of the Pork

Last Friday March 22, the House of Delegates Appropriations panel reported (click here for vote) their version of the capital budget (click here, do a search for “Montgomery” or your own county).  The Olney supplicants had to settle for $125,000 in the House version, and Silver Springs’ Art Center for $100,000. West Fairland seemed to disappear. West Fairland appears to have been included for $100,000. But – have no fear – – other park users are not neglected:  Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg will receive $100,000 for a miniature golf course.  The Writer’s Center apparently gave way to the Maryland Youth Ballet ($100,000) in the House distribution.  Do not lose hope – – the Senate Budget and Taxation panel will complete its work on the capital budget at the close of his week.  Perhaps some of these other vital Montgomery County initiatives will be included – and those already included might get even more state help!

Pork has long been an expected item on the legislative menu in Maryland. Back on April 13, 2009 in our Is A New Pork Express Just Leaving the Annapolis Station? we declared–

“Some projects may clearly be defensible for public funding. But it is a stretch, during perilous economic times, to burden Maryland taxpayers with debts for undertakings far removed from the core roles of state and local government.”  (Highlighting added.)

In 2008, we made some suggestions for adding transparency to the process here.

Certainly we enjoy well-manicured picnic areas and good theater as much as anyone. But Montgomery County lawmakers should not be asking Maryland taxpayers in other parts of the Old Line State to pay for the tastes of their political class nor to support their park amenities.

And scribblers should know better than anyone that taking government subsidies for writing is a path to losing writers’ independence. The Center’s writers risk devaluing their contributions to our common life by doing so.

Readers may wish to revisit some of our earlier articles (below) on the bi-partisan chefs of Maryland pork.

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 13 Nov 2012

Will The Maryland GOP Be The Right Home For Conservatives?

Chart: Values and Immigration-Control Votes Exceed Romney Votes in Maryland

Take a look at our chart (click here) showing that Governor Mitt Romney’s statewide total of votes for president fell behind the statewide total of either those opposing the Maryland version of the Dream Act (Ballot Question 4) or those opposing the same-sex marriage law (Ballot Question 6) . The data comes from the Maryland Board of Elections.

The opposition to same-sex marriage vote statewide exceeded the Romney vote statewide by 28 per cent.

See how the voting fell out in your locality on the chart’s county-by-county breakdown. Note also the votes against the two questions in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Prince Georges County.

What these numbers show is the strength of Maryland grass-roots conservative constituencies.

But the data also suggest that the GOP Establishment tone of governor’s Romney’s campaign may have limited his appeal to these constituencies.

Does it also show that the Reagan model of a market-friendly and values and national or homeland-security coalition never took root in Maryland?

Opportunities lost: successfully defeating these two measures — with the Maryland GOP visibly playing a strong role – would have opened doors to two strong grass-roots constituencies, the faith community, and working class and small-business voters. Click here for more on the last.

But the the ballot ratifications of same-sex marriage and (in effect) sanctuary-state Maryland are galling defeats for many conservatives who already have their own list of grievances over what they see as the state GOP’s fecklessness.

An opportunity remaining: The Maryland GOP  should weigh in against so called ‘sustainability’ or ‘smart growth’ programs – not just through symbolic General Assembly bills — but through constant public jawboning,  challenging state regulations, and lobbying Congress to cut off Federal appropriations to state planners for such mischief.  Carroll County commissioner Richard Rothschild has been a national voice against these schemes, putting together a world-class conference to expose them.

The GOP Fall Meeting

The Maryland GOP will have their fall meeting in Howard County on November 30-December 1, according to that County’s website (click here). 

Other groups on the right-center plan to attend —  Patrick McGrady’s Maryland Liberty Caucus in a November 12 email entitled “Rockin’ the MDGOP Back to Its Roots” declares –

“You and I both know that the Maryland Republican Party is run from the top-down. The Republican Establishment doesn’t stand for conservative principles. They don’t appreciate the diverse, energetic, and conservative arm of the Party.

It was so bad at the Republican Party Convention in Tampa that after the rules were changed to silence the conservative grassroots activists like you and me, Romney advisor Sununu even thanked the Maryland Republican National Committeeman, Louis Pope (who served as the Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee) for whipping the votes on the rules change. Here’s the video of that: Go to 02:27:54 in the video to see Sununu thanking Pope for helping ram through the bad rules changes.

But now that the standard-bearer has been defeated, it is time to help build a home for the Liberty voters in the Republican Party here in Maryland and nationwide. And so, the restructuring begins with us.” (Bolding in original.)

At the time of the Tampa convention, we also deplored these dark dealings.  (Click here and here.)

Now we learn that there is even a Facebook page entitled “NO confidence vote on all executive members of the MD GOP” here!

One hopes there is wiser counsel in the state GOP, urging serious reform and policy coordination with — not just deference to and incumbency protection of — the Republican state lawmakers.

Who Wants To Join The Old Line State’s GOP?

Maryland conservatives ask us how can they recruit without some specific menu of Maryland GOP positions on exigent issues.

Many conservative voters do have somewhere else to go, as last Tuesday showed.  And recall the number of votes Brian Murphy received in his 2010 primary contest with former governor Bob Ehrlich.

The Maryland GOP Establishment (party and significant law-makers) need to declare what specific policies they will (or will not) support: what will they propose about public pensions (click here), and how will they guard against public-school malpractice (click here), to name just two of many current concerns.

The right-center dissenters from the GOP Establishment come in several flavors . . . from values voices, to Tea Partiers, to homeland-security conservatives, to libertarians. 

They have some differences but share many convictions, and right now the foremost may be that an unproductive state GOP leadership — whether in the Party or in the General Assembly — is toxic for the Maryland Republican Party’s future.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

See our closely related post Are Your GOP Politicians Ruling Class? Or Country Class?

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 29 Apr 2012

Nicolee Ambrose’s GOP Win: A Fresh MD Conservative Voice?

ADD-ON!  Click here for county-by-county chart of MD GOP National Committeewoman Vote.

Ann Corcoran has a useful perspective (Potomac Tea Party Report) this morning on Nicolee Ambrose’s winning the post of Republican National Committeewoman yesterday in an unusually hard-fought contest with GOP Establishment veteran Audrey Scott.

Blogger Corcoran titles her post “Vote signals need for MD GOP to ‘get past Ehrlich.’”

Indeed.

 The Audrey Scott Record

Audrey Scott was “the hammer” for the last Ehrlich campaign.  Whatever the former governor’s many political sins (which we have been cataloguing for some time), she carried his banner with fidelity and some grit.  She also held elective executive office as mayor of Bowie, and, in our view, was an efficient Maryland secretary of planning.  We were sad to see her diminish her legacy in public life with a crude attack on conservative Representative Roscoe Bartlett just before his last primary win.  

But that Bartlett attack illustrates her major shortcoming:  if the Maryland GOP Establishment, in this case likely state senator David Brinkley’s campaign, asked Mrs. Scott to make a questionable if not self-defeating political move, she didn’t demur. We believe she knew better.  In recent times, she owed her GOP colleagues her judgment more than her obedience.

The Ambrose Promise

James Bopp: “But, in my view, the national committee’s job is to create the environment in which Republicans can be elected to set policy. . . . The Republican Party was founded to advance a set of principles — most famously, ending slavery. Electing politicians to public office is a means to that end. [Senator Lamar] Alexander, it seems, would reverse this: Let’s just elect public officials and see what public policies they come up with.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Michael Dresser terms Nicolee Ambrose a “conservative activist.”

Young, vigorous, attractive, Nicolee Ambrose does need to tell us at more length what she intends her role on the Republican National Committee to be.

“Growing the Farm Team” is a fine goal, but isn’t it more the job of the state chairman?

Will she join the conservative ranks in the RNC?  Or will she become another voice for the Beltway GOP?

We need more frank discussion, not silence, about the national struggle in the Republican Party between the “country class” and the “ruling class” — a contest well delineated by Angelo Codevilla here and evidenced in the constant stream of posts from, among many other sources, RedState and The Madison Project.

Click, moreover, on the following headline from the Washington Post of last Sunday illustrating the intensity of this struggle: “Book: GOP freshman class turned into ‘a monster’ for Boehner, other House leaders.”

Within Maryland itself, will Nicolee Ambrose use her own “bully pulpit” and her advertised organizational skills as the new Maryland RNC Committeewoman to get behind the drive to petition gay marriage to referendum, and to support the repeal of the so-called Maryland Dream Act on November’s ballot?  These are not just Maryland but national concerns.

Nor are these academic questions for our new Maryland RNC Committeewoman: some very influential Republicans here support gay marriage; some significant national GOP figures here are crafting their own version of a national Dream Act.

 Conservatives and The Maryland GOP

We ourselves didn’t have a vote at the GOP state convention yesterday – – which also elected the following delegates to the Republican National Convention:  Ellen Sauerbrey, Tony O’Donnell, E. J. Pipkin, David Craig, Diana Waterman, Kelly Schultz, Larry Helminiak, Kathy Szeliga, Michael Smigiel, and Ruth Umbel.

(See Monoblogue’s informative text and fine images of the Friday part of the GOP conference here.)

But if we had had a vote and had attended, we would have cast it for Nicolee Ambrose. 

We hope the Ambrose win yesterday (a county-by-county chart of the vote will be posted later as an add-on) signalled an end to “centrist” and statist GOP politics in Maryland, not just a change in the top GOP lineup.

Beyond the run-up to this November’s elections, Maryland conservatives need to organize seriously and do so for the longer haul to guide the GOP and the state in a better direction.

Otherwise an outcome like the one Joel Kotkin describes in “The Great California Exodus” (Allysia Finley in the WSJ) here may also be the outcome awaiting the Old Line State.

“As progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle class, California’s politics become even more left-wing. It’s a classic case of natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, ‘the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.’”

Will Montgomery County be the first to reflect this scenario if matters are not put right?


 

 

 

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 30 Oct 2011

“Turning the Tides”: Opportunity Lost for Many GOP Solons?

Yesterday’s Annapolis “Turning the Tides” conference — skillfully composed and orchestrated by the Maryland Conservative Action Network (MD CAN)– gave around 200 participants essential insights into some serious threats to our freedom.

These threats range from the Muslim Brotherhood (see foregoing link of earlier Fred Grandy video) and stealth Shariah, to a rogue Department of Justice portrayed in Christian Adams’ new book ‘Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department.’ ”

With fact and humor, Christopher Monckton deconstructed PlanMaryland an Annapolis-controlled  “planning” scheme – collectivization with lipstick  — that could control the coming face of Maryland from housing to cars.

True the Vote’s Mark Antill underscored (see this video) the overriding need to fight election fraud in 2012.  Election Integrity Maryland’s Cathy Kelleher moderated the conference’s Voter Integrity panel.

Delegates Pat McDonough and Neil Parrott were much in evidence in addition to presenting on their panel on Petition Drives, and delegate Kathy Afzali contributed her own experiences on the Voter Integrity panel. Reportedly delegate Susan McComas was also at the Turning the Tides conference. (If we have missed any members of the General Assembly who took part in this conference, we shall, of course, add their names to this post.)

Today’s Annapolis Capital quotes Tonya Tiffany, one of the three conference organizers (and MD CAN founders, the other two being Ann Corcoran and Catharine Trauernicht) – -

“She said the real purpose of the conference was to prod the Republican Party into becoming more conservative.

Only a small percentage of voters bother going to the polls, she said, because the candidates are not conservative enough.

‘The Maryland Republican Party is too liberal,’ Tiffany said. ‘If Gov. (Robert) Ehrlich had governed more conservatively, I think he would have been reelected.’”

But there are 43 GOP delegates and 12 GOP state senators in the Maryland General Assembly.  Where were the missing delegates, and state senators?  Did they believe they had nothing important to learn here that they could not get from the wisdom of their caucus leadership?  Perhaps the absentees think these conservative concerns will all blow over by 2014 when they face the voters? Won’t president Mitt Romney calm these zealots down across the nation so we can get back to Republican business as usual in Washington, D. C. and of course in Annapolis?

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 12 Aug 2011

A Challenge to MD House of Delegates GOP Leadership?

“Kipke noted that caucus leadership initially suppressed the petition effort.” Mark Newgent

 

Ann Corcoran’s Potomac Tea Party Report of yesterday draws our attention to Mark Newgent’s dispatch that Kipke-Smigiel may challenge O’Donnell-Haddaway-Riccio for House GOP leadership (RedMaryland.)

Reveals investigator Newgent —

“Delegates Nic Kipke (Anne Arundel) and Mike Smigiel (Cecil) may challenge Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (Calvert) and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio for the leadership positions of the Republican caucus in the House of Delegates.” . . . “Smigiel, who seeks the Minority Whip role, echoed similar dissatisfaction with caucus leadership, particularly Haddaway-Riccio. His concern is people ‘talking the talk and not walking the walk’ when it comes to fiscal conservatism. He thought tapping Haddaway Riccio to give the Republican response to Governor O’Malley’s state of the state address was a mistake given her bond bill hypocrisy. ‘Other with more credibility could have spoken,’ Smigiel said.”

Faithful readers will recall our post a year ago this month on Tony O’Donnell More Today on Tom Perez, and His Two Maryland GOP Fans – and our post last June on Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio — But in Annapolis, GOP Notables Still Bring Home the Pork.

As we wrote a year ago about Tony O’Donnell’s support for Tom Perez –

“Nor has Mr. O’Donnell nor Mr. Kane expressed any public regret for supporting Tom Perez. Does being part of the Maryland GOP Establishment mean never having to say I’m sorry? Conservatives might also want to ask Maryland Republican delegates why they have not held their leader Mr. O’Donnell publicly accountable for his support of Tom Perez.

In fairness to Mr. O’Donnell, he apparently reflects the easy values of his own caucus chieftains — or they would have held him accountable. “Nothing here to see, folks, just move along.”

Does GOP Incumbency Talk and Principle Walk?

 

The Baltimore Sun’s Annie Linskey wrote yesterday that —

“Maryland delegates Nic Kipke and Michael Smigiel may take on the current House GOP leadership, a shift that would move the caucus to the right.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

More accurately, it might force those Maryland Republican legislators who secretly belong to the Incumbency Caucus to reveal whatever may be their core convictions.

In a one-party state such as Maryland, the minority too often succumbs to the informal but real pressures of the majority:
“Vote against our bills and denounce our programs, we understand that, but don’t make serious trouble. If you follow these rules, you may be allowed ‘to sit at the table,’ or get whatever slices of pork and other benefits of legislative office that we in the majority can spare.”


Many Maryland center-right voters were upset last year that the state GOP took sides in the contested Republican gubernatorial primary.
On the other hand, any GOP legislator — or anyone else — is certainly entitled to endorse any candidate at any time.

But when every single GOP legislator in Annapolis — well before the primary election — endorsed a gubernatorial candidate whose policy principles were as indistinct as Mr. Ehrlich’s, we were astounded.  For we knew there were some principled conservatives in the General Assembly.

We wish all such GOP housecleaning efforts like Kipke’s and Smigiel’s the best.

But pay attention to Mark Newgent when he warns:

“As Omar Little [link] said, ‘If you come at the king, you best not miss.’
Reformers must expect Annapolis lobbyists who have an investment in the current arrangement (as well as members of the Other Team who may wish to keep tame Republicans in positions of leadership) to weigh in heavily behind the scenes.

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 19 Jun 2011

Dawn Patrol: Robocalls Case–What Would Allen West Say?

SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR UPDATES!

Many readers know by now that “Ehrlich aides [have been] indicted in Election Day robocalls case” as Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz wrote late last week in an extensive piece in the Baltimore Sun.

“Two longtime political operatives who worked last year on Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s gubernatorial return campaign were indicted today for ordering what the state prosecutor called deceptive robocalls intended to suppress votes on the night of the election.”

We aren’t pre-judging whether the two indicted, Julius Henson and Paul Schurick, are guilty or not, nor are we addressing what precisely, at law, constitutes voter suppression, nor even who authored the campaign plan that the Baltimore Grand Jurors call the “Schurick Doctrine.”

But the Grand Juror’s June 16, 2011 indictment further declares that –

“As a result of those discussions, CO-CONSPIRATOR JULIUS HENSON prepared a written election strategy for the Ehrlich campaign to use in African American communities in Maryland. The plan centered on what was termed ‘The Schurick Doctrine,’ which was ‘. . . designed to promote confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African American Democrats, focused in precincts where high concentrations of AA vote.’ [sic] The plan stated that ‘[t]he first and most desired outcome [of the Schurick Doctrine strategy]is voter suppression.’ The plan focused on 536 precincts, and provided that ‘[v]oter suppression operations will take place in 472 precincts and we found that 64 precincts warrant persuasion operations. . . .’ ”

“Confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African American Democrats . . . ” are the words too many Maryland voters might well remember  in November 2012 — and the Other Team will take care to be sure these words are not forgotten.

How many times have Maryland conservatives urged the state GOP — following the counsel of Thomas Sowell and others — to reach out to African American voters on common values concerns, as well as to African American independent business owners, and to African American veterans and career military?

Of course, if you are a “socially liberal” Republican, you don’t have much in common on values issues; if you are a Chamber of Commerce Republican candidate, you likely aren’t much concerned about what illegal aliens might do to African American employment.

Fortunately we have a new, imaginative state GOP chief Alex Mooney capable of building the party on common concerns and goals reaching beyond traditional Maryland voting patterns.

Isn’t This A Moral Concern for the Maryland GOP?

The Carroll County GOP had Representative Allen West as their principal speaker at their Lincoln-Reagan dinner on May 2.  West, who made the trek to Westminster after evening House votes, packed the room.  Many of those attending came because they had already heard about West’s moral force and his outspoken vision for America.

Last Tuesday was the 236th birthday of the United States Army.  Here (video) are colonel West’s celebratory remarks (via RedState’s Caleb Howe).

That is why we ask what would Allen West say about those words — “Confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African American Democrats. . .”attributed to the plans of the defendants?

* * * * *

UPDATE JUNE 20! Click here for Len Lazarick’s “Ehrlich fundraiser calls Henson hire ‘terrible mistake’. . . .” (MarylandReporter.com)

In his quote here, the good Mr. Hug walks right past the so-called “Shurick Doctrine” which, whether authored by Paul Schurick or not, could besmirch any future Maryland GOP outreach to the African American community on common concerns about values, and common objectives for independent business owners, and for veterans and career military. Of course, the last Maryland GOP Administration didn’t spend a lot of time on pro-life or “sanctuary state” concerns, or even protecting the Second Amendment.

(Via Wikipaedia)

Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 02 Jun 2011

Who Is U. S. Senate Candidate Daniel Bongino?

Daniel Bongino appears to be an attractive candidate who seeks to represent Maryland as a Republican  in the United States Senate.  He is apparently endorsed by some members of the former Brian Murphy Team. This is Bongino’s website.

Today’s Daily Caller has a post with some more perspective on Mr. Bongino.

The capable Mark Newgent announces –

“Daniel will be joining Red Maryland Radio tonight at 8:05pm. Tune in to the show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redmaryland. Call in with questions 760-259-2711 . Bookmark and Share. Posted by Mark Newgent at 6/02/2011 05:00:00 AM …
Red Maryland – http://redmaryland.blogspot.com/

Columnist Newgent lists 10 questions (scroll down) for the Senate GOP primary candidate together with his answers.  We would like to flesh out some of these q and a for our readers so that they may follow up with Daniel Bongino.  Our comments and additions are in red. RedMaryland’s questions are in italics. Bongino’s answers are in Times Roman.

“1. Give our readers a little bit about your background and why you are running for the United States Senate?

My employment history includes four years with the New York City Police Department and 12 years with the U.S. Secret Service where I served as both a criminal investigator and protection agent. Academically, I studied both Neuro-Psychology and Behavioral Learning at the City University of New York where I obtained both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. I also attended Penn State University where I completed an MBA with a focus on finance. I am an avid reader of the work of economists Robert Barro, Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman amongst others. I left everything behind to run because we did nothing wrong. We, the American people, have done everything government has asked of us and yet have been consistently misled by a government that can’t even handle basic arithmetic. It’s time for citizens like myself to stop watching the game and get out there and throw a pass.”

BRF: Also tell us about your early life, where you grew up, and so on.

“2. Who is your political lodestar and what shapes your ideological background?

I will only support and vote for legislation that diffuses economic power back to its rightful place, with the individual. Concentration of economic power is just as dangerous as the concentration of political power. Hayek eloquently makes this point in his writings. Taking economic decision making power away from individuals with the same intellectual powers as the Washington ‘elite’ and turning it over to them to re-allocate has been tried and has a perfect record of failure.”

BRF: Are you closer in beliefs to senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell or to senator Jim DeMint?

“3. What would be your biggest criticism of Ben Cardin’s job performance?

His support of the Affordable Care Act. This plan is based on what I call “the three pillars of economic failure”; price controls, third party payer systems and coercion. My long history with macroeconomics has unequivocally proven to me that it is an open book test and these three pillars have been tried repeatedly. Their record of failure is unparalleled at 100%. No serious economist, when separated from ideological loyalty can show one case in the history of civilization where any of these three pillars has either met a defined metric or led to economic prosperity.”

“4. Would you make voting to repeal Obamacare a campaign pledge?

Yes.”

BRF: Explain to us when and how you would work to ‘repeal Obamacare.’  Would you try to cut appropriations for Obamacare in 2013?  Do you believe Speaker John Boehner should risk “shutting down the government” to stop Obamacare in September when the House sends its FY 2012 appropriations bills to the senate and the Obama Administration?

“5. Federal revenues have historically averaged in the range of 18 percent of GDP. The Congressional Budget Office projects federal spending to reach 26% of GDP by the beginning of the next decade. Several plans, including one from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, have been floated to solve the problem. Do you support Ryan’s plan or would you attack the deficit another way?

I have enormous respect for Congressman Ryan for having the courage to put out a real plan with tangible goals knowing full well that the pundits would pillory him for it. I support a number of his economic proposals and firmly believe that when we place income in the hands of the working American they can spend it far more efficiently than a government, which has consistently failed to do so. The 18% figure quoted is accurate and as informed voters we should familiarize ourselves with it. The nearly infinite manipulations by the ‘Wizards of Washington’ have not historically, and will never move, this long-term average. The lesson being that as we grow our GDP we must keep spending levels under control.”

BRF: Do you support Paul Ryan’s particular Medicare solution? If not, what is your specific solution to Medicare? How can we stop the dangerous ongoing Independent Provider Advisory Board soon?

“6. Would you vote to lift the nation’s debt ceiling, if so under what conditions?

Only with attached legislation installing an annual deficit cap on spending as percentage of GDP with the only exception being National Emergency. If we don’t act quickly, the bond market surely will impose a debt ‘ceiling’ upon us, and decisions will be made for us. Google the terms (Greece, IMF, mandates) if you feel this issue is not paramount.”

BRF: What advice would you give the Congressional Republican leadership tomorrow morning on the debt ceiling? You spoke of “attached legislation installing an annual deficit cap.”  Do you mean you would vote to raise the limit only if both chambers passed (presumably) a proposed constitutional amendment limiting spending?  Should Obamacare be a necessary part of any deficit deal?  If the Obama Administration won’t make any serious concessions during the debt-ceiling negotiations, what would you propose the GOP leadership do?

7. “Despite the failure of cap and trade in Congress, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with draconian regulation of greenhouse gasses under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. If you had the opportunity, would you vote to amend the Clean Air Act to strip the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses?

Maryland’s natural gifts are one the country’s great treasures. The greatest environmental action program in human history is a growing economy. A strong economy allows our citizens to spend their time and capital on economic causes. It is surely not a coincidence that some of the world’s greatest ecological disasters happened in re-distributive economies. Whether it is the Aral Sea, Chernobyl, or the Three Gorges Dam, economic failures quickly led to environmental ones. Everyone wants clean air, this statement is tautological, but I will not support any policy that raises middle class Marylanders electric, gas and vehicle fuel bills in the midst of a crippling recession.”

BRF: Do you, or do you not, support legislation to remove EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases?  Do you believe that man-made global warming is a serious threat?

“8. Do you support drilling (fracking) for natural gas in Maryland’s portion of the Marcellus Shale region?

While studying for my MBA at Penn State, I visited a number of fracking sites within Pennsylvania. I saw the attention paid to both safety and the environment. Having stated that, there have been accidents and poorly drilled wells and the companies at fault must shoulder those economic costs. But to deny Marylanders affordable energy, and western Maryland homeowners an opportunity to engage in the energy market, is unequivocally not the answer.

“9. What are measures would you propose to address the issue of illegal immigration?

I am the proud husband of an immigrant to the United States from Colombia. My wonderful wife is a shining example of the power of properly enforced immigration procedures. One of the proudest moments of my life was witnessing her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore City. She is a self-made woman who paid her way through college and worked her way up the corporate ladder with consistent hard work. She has added value to our country every step of the way and has overcome enormous obstacles. As I have laid out in my economic plan, immigration is not a nationality issue but a legal one. Immigrants have been and will always be a long-term economic benefit to this country but disregard for the law is unacceptable. We must streamline the procedure for those who wish to come here legally. Our current policy is not really a policy at all and I will work to make improvements through the following tools. Securing the borders must be a national priority. The constant threat of terrorism and narco-trafficking through both our southern and northern border should have prioritized secure borders decades ago but unfortunately it has not. Token measures and platitudes has inflicted untold damage to what should have been a sustained long-term plan using America’s incredible technological capacity to seek new solutions to this problem. Secondly, I believe we must move towards a re-evaluation of the current H1B visa system. This system is grossly inadequate for attracting the world’s best and brightest to the U.S. and severely limits our future capacity for economic growth. Third, we must continue our efforts to enforce immigration laws in the Homeland while at the same time streamlining the process for those immigrants wishing to relocate here. Economic analysis has shown that over time immigrants add wealth to our nation through the importation of human capital and ideas. A growing population is also necessary to purchase the financial assets of our seniors and increase our tax base but anyone looking to make the U.S. their home must respect the process and follow the established legal procedure.”

BRF: Maryland is well known as a “sanctuary state.” Do you believe Maryland should institute e-verify?  Do you believe the Federal government should aim at a national e-verify program? Do you support the petition to referendum for Maryland’s new law allowing in-state tuition for illegals? Do you support the kind of “path to citizenship” legislation associated with former president George Bush and senator John McCain? Some conservatives might fear your answer above seems to put “streamlining the procedure for those who wish to come here legally” ahead of other concerns. Do you believe we have a paramount need for workers who apparently will do jobs Americans can’t do.

“10. Many Republicans are concerned about the bloated size of the federal government; what government programs or agencies (if any) would you cut, reduce, or eliminate?

The current alphabet soup of regulatory and law enforcement agencies runs counter to the basic economic principle of economies of scale. I would insist on a thorough top to bottom review and insist upon consolidations to better leverage the federal workforce. I would also insist that both the Department of Energy and Education provide solid metrics as to where they have utilized their budgets to improve energy utilization and pricing along with the education system.”

BRF: Conservative activists might see your answer as evidence of your wish to make the administrative (regulatory) state more cost-effective rather than evidence of your concern with how much the administrative state already abridges our basic freedoms. What specific steps you would take as a senator to make the administrative state more responsive to elected lawmakers? What steps would you take to address a closely related problem, what the Heritage Foundation calls “overcriminalization.”

Daniel will be joining Red Maryland Radio tonight at 8:05 pm.” (Underscoring Forum’s.

Finally, here are some alarms from watchdogs that didn’t bark in the necessarily brief (but helpful) back-and-forth that RedMaryland posted.

Mr. Bongino –

  • How should we support Israel right now?
  • How would you, as a U.S. Senator, strengthen Second Amendment rights throughout the U.S.?
  • What steps should the national government take to combat Shariah?
  • What would you urge your fellow senators to do to strengthen U.S. missile and EMP defense?
This Ain’t Gotcha

Our questions (and readers can doubtless add other ones which we may post) are not designed to play “gotcha”with Mr. Bongino.

Rather these and other queries are essential if we are going to avoid a content-free GOP U. S. senate primary campaign. In our view, every GOP candidate for U.S. senator from Maryland should address them.

It bears repeating that, for conservatives today, this is not just about electing senators with an “R” after their name.  It is about electing courageous, smart, and consistently conservative senators to the
U S Senate.

Nor is this a likeability contest. We now have to vote as if our lives and our freedom depended on it.

Fiscal Policy &Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 01 Jun 2011

But in Annapolis, GOP Notables Still Bring Home the Pork

Yesterday evening, by an overwhelming vote, the U S House of Representatives refused to raise the national debt limit without a plan to cut the deficit.

But Maryland Republicans should not expect that yesterday’s House GOP vote will elicit any kind of stop-the-spending, slow the earmarks model from their notables in the General Assembly.

The 2011 Pork Roll

Click here to see the legislative bond bills approved by this year’s General Assembly – – then print the list out for closer study. For readers who want some recent history about these debt-expanding schemes, here, here and here are the lists for 2010, 2009, and 2008.

Early last February, we asked Who Is Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio? – -

“Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is the GOP whip in the Maryland House of Delegates, officially the number two person in that chamber’s Republican leadership.” . . . . “Last week she and the GOP House of Delegates Republican leader Tony O’Donnell wrote House Speaker Michael Busch –

‘We are writing to inform you that our caucus has taken the official position recommending against the inclusion of legislative bond bills in the FY 2012 budget.

As you know, bond bills increase the state’s capital debt service which is funded through the property tax revenue and supplemented with general fund dollars. According to the Department of Legislative Services, property tax revenue is projected to be $326 million less than debt service costs by FY 2015. With a projected budget deficit in FY 2015 of $1.8 billion, we will be hard pressed to supplement that shortfall through the General Fund. We realize that the bulk of this shortfall is related to debt already issued, but we feel the focus should be on reversing the damage, not making it worse.’ (Underscoring Forum’s.)

But that didn’t keep Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio from continuing to sponsor two and co-sponsoring three such measures.

We pointed to Haddaway-Riccio (1) because she is in a House of Delegates GOP leadership position and (2) she co-signed the letter to speaker Michael Busch about the House of Delegates GOP caucus “recommending against the inclusion of legislative bond bills in the FY 2012 budget.”

Yet she still did not remove her name from sponsoring or co-sponsoring these bond bills. Not surprisingly, she voted against the Maryland capital budget this year. The likelihood was overwhelming that the budget would pass both chambers of the General Assembly.

Significantly, all five of the projects she sponsored or co-sponsored received some taxpayer money via enlarging Maryland indebtedness: four of them from state senate action, one of them from action by both chambers.  The details can be found here.

Which GOP State Senators Are Still Part of The Pork System?

But let’s not overlook the significant spenders among the GOP members of the Maryland state senate.
Only four GOP state senators Getty, Reilly, Shank, and Simonaire courageously voted this year against the pork-prone capital budget. The capital budget includes the legislative bond bills – – but also other larger expansions of Maryland public debt.

The state senate Republican leader and all three GOP members of the crucial Budget & Taxation panel voted for the capital budget. Of course, state senate GOP leader Nancy Jacobs has, in earlier years, shown her fiscal acuity by voting (2007) for the Maryland Clean Cars Act which measure (see p. 7 in foregoing link) promised to add to the purchase price of cars sold in Maryland.

What an example these four senior GOP state senators are now setting in such dangerous times by supporting questionable capital expenditures!

As Josh Barro explains in his “Dodging the Pension Disaster” (National Affairs) – -

“Consider that the total outstanding bond debt of state and local governments is about $2.4 trillion. If one accounts for pension and health-care debts using the figures supplied by Novy-Marx and Rauh (among others), the total outstanding obligations of the states rises to as much as $6.4 trillion—meaning that our sub-national governments are nearly three times further in the red than they appear to be at first glance.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Muddled?

Readers may scroll through the final text of HB 71 to make their own judgment about which bond provisions were vital for Maryland infrastructure today, and which ones

  • either should not be built with taxpayer money at all;
  • are already covered by Federal programs, e.g. hospice; or
  • should have to wait until more sober times.

The following caught our eye as meriting much closer scrutiny:

“Baltimore Museum of Art. Provide a grant to the Board of Trustees of the Baltimore Museum of Art for the design, renovation, and reconfiguration of facilities at the Baltimore Museum of Art, subject to the requirement that the grantee provide an equal and matching fund for this purpose (Baltimore City) ….. 2,500,000.”

“East Baltimore Biotechnology Park. Provide a grant to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Baltimore for demolition in the East Baltimore Biotechnology Park area, subject to the requirement that the grantee provide an equal and matching fund for this purpose (Baltimore City) ……………2,500,000.”

“Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Provide a grant to the Board of Directors of the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts for the construction of improvements to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, subject to the requirement that the grantee provide an equal and matching fund for this purpose (Anne Arundel County) ……250,000.”

“UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE COUNTY
(Baltimore County) New Performing Arts and Humanities Facility. Provide funds to construct and equip a new Performing Arts and Humanities Facility ……………31,200,000.”

“JEFFERSON PATTERSON PARK AND MUSEUM
(Calvert County) Riverside Interpretive Trails and Exhibit Stations. Provide funds to construct a system of trails and exhibits at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum ….. 1,001,000.”

Here is the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) “Capital Budget Fiscal Briefing” of January 2011 for those who wish to plumb the details.

Stopping GOP Complicity in Annapolis Spending

Over the years, we have covered GOP-blessed questionable Annapolis spending, from extravagant pension benefits to local and statewide pork here, here, here, and here, to list only four of our posts.

But this political malpractice won’t stop unless the Maryland Tea Partyers and their allies get on the case of individual porkers who sail under the Republican flag.

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