Wednesday, April 29, 2009
But now our Economic Advisors are saying that they aren't necessary.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Ok, back to the post.
I don't know why anyone should be happy or sad over Arlen's announcement today...slight correction...the only people that SHOULD be sad today are those that believe in the virtues of elected office and the individual discretion that is required by such offices. All Arlen is doing today is buying some blue neck-ties to replace his red ones. He isn't having a "come to Jesus" moment where he will now vote in a completely different way. If you look at his voting record, his ideology has not been incredibly consistent and I must assume that he got a little bit excited about being on Obama's team.
You can also assume that he was not looking forward to losing a primary to Pat Toomey, which would have effectively ended his political career. Poll numbers coming out last Friday (hmm) indicate that Toomy had a 51/30 percent advantage over Specter.
So let's put the "finally saw the light" rhetoric away and see this for what it is: political opportunism. Specter knew he had lost the base that got him elected and sees opportunity with Pennsylvania Dems that overwhelmingly took the state last winter. The real tragedy is that something like this even matters. One could argue that every battle won by party politics is lost by democracy.
To be honest, I think the success of any given politician is tied almost entirely to his ability to give a speech. I also tend to agree that Bobby Jindal's response to Obama's speech reminded me an awful lot of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. However, these moves will help make Jindal a hero in Louisiana, where they dispise DC (and anyone from the Northeast). Louisiana sees itself as a separate country and will often refer to the "upper 48" as a different place.
In terms of what this will do for GOP nationally, I think the editorial overstates Jindal's influence for exactly the reasons Louisiana believes itself to be a different place. Louisiana does not reflect the beliefs of the nation. Obama is still enjoying tremendous popularity. It will be the effect of stimulus pay-outs on states that DO accept the money that will dictate the minority's political fate. Will states like Maryland have huge tax spikes when the stimulus funding runs out? I'd say it is almost a definite "yes". Will the people be able to get behind these spikes in favor of "Change they can believe in"? I don't think so. Even the most loyal Obama supporter gets to a point where they say "You messin' with MY MONEY. That's MY MONEY, man." In political theatre, we are always talking about OTHER PEOPLE's money. There is always someone ELSE that has too much and is taxed too little. Unfortunately the maxim of "nothing is free" will be invoked as Obama has to explain that the recovery (to the extent there is one) needs to be paid for, and thank goodness we had him at the helm to get us out of it. We should be so grateful that everyone should be willing to pay back into the pot to pay for a government that has had its second rebirth...and it will all be George Bush's fault.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The article notes that there were no proposed solutions from the YCC here, but that is based off of a presumption that those against government programming must have a government program to replace it with. What about creating market incentives to have the market create the solution? It worked for the automobile, personal computer, cellular phone, electricity...
Attorney General Eric Holder looks like he's got his finger on the trigger of prosecuting past Office of Legal Counsel attorneys that helped draft the "Torture Memos." Obama keeps licking his finger and holding it out into the winds of public opinion to see which way things are swaying, but I'll put my money on at least a disbarment of one of these attorneys (who now all work as professors at Harvard & Yale law schools).
This concerns me on a few different levels. First, these people were doing their job. We may not like their conclusions and we may think they did a crappy job, but no one went to work thinking "If only I can find a way to authorize torture...a man can only dream." Legal memos are written in the same way military strategems are. You write what you COULD do in a given situation. Most memos are never used. The reason you have them is so you can act quickly to seek a particular legal remedy without having to do the research from scratch.
Second, the criminal prosecution of past administrations works very well in third world countries, but I don't think we need to join in on this practice.
Third, it would set a bad precedent that would diminish government transparency. The last days of any administration would cover the streets of DC with a cloud of file burning smoke so thick that we'll have to close the schools.
Fourth, Dems knew what was happening.
Fifth, and in reference to the title:
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.... You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. ...
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
Monday, April 20, 2009
1) It amazes me that some of the same people that use pot most frequently also stage boycotts for sweat shops and the like. If they would do just a little research, they would realize that the drug trade (yes marijuana is part of the "drug trade") involves more humanitarian harms that that Adidas soccer ball that costs $35. Wars are fought over this stuff. So while pot may make you feel happy and turn the Home Shopping Network into Comedy Central, there is about a 50% chance you are hurting people with every purchase. Legalization within the United States would have a marginal effect on this.
2) Pot is currently against the law. Whatever your beliefs on the subject, there is not much of a difference (in the eyes of the law) between you smoking pot and the guy down the street shooting coke. You do it because you feel good. Don't look down on him.
3) I absolutely believe that if our current legislature had grown up alcoholics instead of hippies, alcohol would be illegal and not marijuana. Politicians passed these laws to distance themselves from their past.
Now, I believe the War on Drugs is a failure. Drug laws are written with racial undertones (crack/power cocaine discrepanies being the most glaring of examples) and putting addicts in jail does nothing but put them through professional criminal training. I believe the populace gains some unexplainable pleasure from seeing addicts put in jail instead of into treatment. I think our society is above this, but yet it continues. Pot smokers, being of the same legal status as coke users, and working off of the same motivations for using, SHOULD be up in arms to free their brothers in chemistry, but they're not. Instead they are using their political capital for THEIR brand of drug to be legal. Pot users already have minimal penalties for being caught (with such laws rarely being enforced), but yet want THEIR drug made legal so it would be easier to purchase.
True libertarian thought would not split the baby here. Either all in or all out. Either we let people put whatever they want into their bodies or nothing. I can't say I subscribe 100% to this, especially in an age of social programs that would foster a drug culture in a very unproductive way. Currently these social programs are cut off if drug use is established.
My solution: Become a society of treatment over imprisonment. Drug users, alcoholics, chronic gamblers, etc. all need treatment, not jail time. I'd suggest that those who want the legalization of THEIR drug instead seek out the legalization of ALL drugs and at least stay intellectually honest. They would then have to address the consequences of what that would mean.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thanks for reporting this story when discussing the speed camera law. I'm sure the fact that a bunch of high schoolers using the cameras for pranks was irrelevant to the concerns of those that believe citations are best dispensed by REAL PEOPLE.
There are days when I really wonder why I maintain my subscription...but that Peter Schmuck writes a darn good sports column...and I've probably made up my subscription costs in free stuff through Readers Rewards...BUT PLEASE, do some real contrarian investigations here. We're being bamboozled and the best you can do is report what is contained in press releases.
Tom the Pissed
My cousin and a few close friends are gay. One of them is the most conservative guys I've ever met. For the most part they just want to be left alone...where does that sound familiar...
I think this effort needs some additional focus and would do well to replace hate with passion. Obama and O'Malley are just cogs in a wheel...a wheel that can also claim George W. Bush as a participant. The reeling back of government is a Republican ideal, but rarely a Republican accomplishment. Instead of blind party voting, we need to look towards what our real goals are. The expansion of "social conservative" issues through government is in essence an expansion of government power over our lives. I have never understood this discordance in modern conservative thought.
"I want smaller government, but I want government to have a say in who my neighbor spends the rest of his life with."
"I want smaller government, unless there is a moral issue that I want decided in accordance with my beliefs and applied to everyone else."
That stuff just don't jive, turkey. People are angry, and I hope this isn't just frustration at not getting their guy into office. I hope it represents an ideological shift and some hard thinking amongst those of us that think we can do things better than the government can. I hope it means that we think we can do a little more of this "governing" thing ourselves without trampling the disadvantaged and under-represented. I know we can, but I also think we need our priorities straight first. But that's just me...
If you somehow thought Baltimore was a well-run city, I would first like to sell you some property in Greenland. After that is done, I will suggest you read this article. Basically, Mayor Dixon found $40 million in a fur coat she hadn't worn since last spring. The worst of it all is that Baltimore still needs to cut programs that had worked, such as the Police Athletic League, due to a constitutional provision stating that surplus monies must be used to pay down bond debt. I cannot believe that this happened. I am absolutely shocked.
More well deserved praise for Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith Jr. (Democrat). I like the fact the Baltimore County tends to decide our state-wide elections. They know what they are doing up there.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I should also note that County Exec. Smith is a Democrat!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Anyhow, what I want to do is give some POSITIVE ideas for public policy that can contrast a bit against the empty sarcasm and criticism I've posted earlier. I do believe criticism of our elected officials is important, but it really means nothing unless you have something else.
1) I believe at least 30% of our government programs at local, state, and federal levels can be better run in the private sphere via a bidding process and government oversight. This would require stricter ethics laws, but these are necessary even now. A company looking toward the bottom line and forced to be the lowest bidder will save taxpayer money and find more efficient ways to perform the same task. There will certainly be some areas that are so sacred to our public life that we would not be willing to give them over to private enterprise, but the states are intended to be the laboratory of government and should be able to find those areas that are best open to privitization.
2) Term Limits: Professional politicians lose touch with their bosses (us). We should restrict every office to two terms.
3) Fixed budgets: State and Local (hopefully one day federal) budgets should have a fixed amount based on a percentage of the state revenue. Tax increases can become unpredictable and have significant market effect on both corporations and individuals. If budgets were fixed, increases in taxes, when needed, will be comeasurate with the success of the state's economy.
4) Social Entraprenuers: This is the future of public change. The government should offer special funding for these private enterprises similar to higher education loans. The more taken on by self-sufficient private companies, the less that is necessary for the public coffers.
These are just some ideas off the top of my head offered for public criticism and discussion. Hopefully people can avoid personal attacks. I'm looking at you Anonymous...
Anyway, I sent this letter to the editor in today. I haven't had much luck with the Sun recently, but I have you kind folks to read my hard labored thoughts.
A recent quote from Gov. O’Malley in today’s Sun piqued my interest. Reflecting on the need to preserve government programs, despite budget cuts in family rooms and congressional chambers alike, the Governor stated that "That if you do away with the things that made you a strong state in bad times, you're not going to be strong after the rebound" ("Busy Last Day for Assembly", 4/14/09). I believe Gov. O’Malley’s ideas of what makes Maryland a strong state are very different from those held by those who are losing their jobs. During his tenure, and by way of his lobbying efforts, our state has fallen on the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index Rankings from a respectable 28th in the nation to 45th. A $1 billion surplus left by Gov. Ehrlich, and originally intended for tax cuts, was quickly squandered in a ballooning of government programs. We have faced two budget crises, the first of which was resolved by a lobbyist heavy special session, the second a federal stimulus that clearly foretells a future shortfall. All the while, Marylanders have had to watch as their money is wasted on pet projects ("Patronage Endures, Even in Hard Times", 3/22/09) and wait for Big Brother (in this case "Big Hall Monitor") to set up speed cameras across the state to establish an additional driver tax. It all tends to remind me of the Geico commercial with the overseeing stack of money, except we may want to change the slogan to "This is the money you could have saved by voting Republican."
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
1) The idea of Separation of Powers was ridiculed here. The legislature is intended to be an independent body.
2) The reason for this bill is made even more stark. Why would the governor care so much about a bill with everything else that's going on? Well his slots proposal is in the toilet and state revenue is way down. The bill is crafted in such a way that local governments are only allowed to keep costs plus 10%!!! They made this bill so that localities will feed money to the state general fund. I'm so glad the Sun did such a great job covering this explicit shake down of Maryland drivers
3) This is a hastily drawn bill that will be hastily executed. The article this morning mentioned that one of the legislators spoke on the floor about how he had been erroneously fined by one of these cameras in Montgomery County and that it took FOUR MONTHS to sort it out. This story was left out of the present article.
The only good news here is that this is an explicit example of how Democrats have very little interest in "the right to be left alone". If there is a means to step on the individual in favor of the collective, it will be sought out and exploited.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Chevy Chase- one of several Montgomery County municipalities that use the cameras - made more money from them last year than its entire town budget, Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, told colleagues Tuesday.
McIntosh said cameras can play an important role "as you cut local funding for core services." She said cameras are "a way to fund public safety."