Saturday, May 30, 2009
In the meantime, please frequent Anthony Jordan's site www.voteanthonyjordan.com and comment away with anything you think should be discussed. I've come to realize that there are a fair amount of readers out there that don't post, which is encouraging as far as the readership of this blog. I truly appreciate all of the support here and enjoy every comment I received (although the majority of which come from Anonymous, who for all I know may be legion).
Friday, May 29, 2009
The problem is that Judge Sweeney, retired Howard County Circuit Court judge, has held that a legislators actions may not be used as evidence of bribery in a criminal trial. If you boil away all of the legal mumbo jumbo, this means it is near impossible to convict someone of being bribed, however you may easily convict the briber. Seeing as the politician has a much larger potential and capacity for being bribed than the briber (who is of limited purpose and means), this legal precedent is a travesty.
Everyone rails against the political fundraising issues in our country. Local politicians end up holding $250 a plate fundraisers that end up giving them more money than they'll ever need in a county election. This is because any quid pro quo relationship that may develop is completely immune from investigation or prosecution. I am not suggesting that all large donations can be traced directly to political action, but the environment is furtile for such abuse, and I think we can all agree that this abuse is prevalent.
In light of judicial decisions such as these, the burden is incumbent on all of us as voters to box out politicians that abuse the immunities that they are allowed. Judge Sweeney did not rule that Mayor Dixon is unaccountable. He simply ruled that she was not criminally accountable. Let's start using our vote to take their jobs away. We'll see if they still have the "support" of developers then.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Baltimore Sun took offense to this suggestion after staking out the position that millionaires were not in fact leaving but rather have filed for extensions or have lost millionaire status due to the recession. I love (LOVE) this paragraph in the Sun editorial:
Finally, look at it this way: Someone who makes $2 million a year would pay
about $20,000 more in 2008 Maryland taxes than he or she did a year before
because of the millionaire surcharge and other changes to make the tax code more
progressive. That probably seems like a lot of money to the average Marylander,
but it's important to remember just how much more $2 million is than the $57,000
the Census bureau says the average Marylander makes. Look at it this way:
$20,000 is to a $2 million earner the equivalent of about $570 for someone
making $57,000 a year. That's like taxing Joe Blow Marylander an extra $11 a
week. Not great, but not exactly worth moving to West Virginia, either.
Even for someone that makes double the $57,000 average, $570 is a lot of money. Not to mention the fact that millionaires we are talking about are not using $100 bills to light their cigars. These are people with kids in college, parents in nursing homes, and regular bills to pay. $20,000 is a lot of money.
At the end of the day, the Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was the one that first said millionaires are leaving. He's the guy that collects our money. I'll take his word over a failing newspaper any day of the week.
Some critical reviews:
"Not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench"
She believes that the Court of Appeals is where "policy is made."
She has stated that a Hispanic woman should use her own experiences as a woman of color to make her decisions.
I note those articles because it seems as if there has already been a white-wash of coverage as to why this nomination is so wonderful. From my perspective, she doesn't have any bad decisions to latch on to, but I think her multiple public speaking events will bite her. I'd put money down that she is easily confirmed, which are two scary words to use in conjunction with an unelected self-described "policy-maker."
Here's an interesting story behind the story: Looks like Obama's people have been updating the heck out of Sotomayor's Wikipedia page. Look at all of the edits for May 26 compared to the previous history. These edits were clearly aimed at painting her as a centrist supported by both parties.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
It is interesting to me that Councilman Greg Fox’s suggestion to scale back Healthy Howard funding in the face of underperformance is called “partisan” while the lock-step support of four Democrats to a program sponsored by a Democrat Executive is somehow given the color of fair-minded political poetry (“Some Cry Partisanship in Fox Fight with Health Plan,” 5/24/09). Healthy Howard was projected to serve 2,000 citizens in its first year at $500,000 operating costs. The program was only able to recruit 200 citizens, but sought to re-up that original $500,000, even with a projection of only 950 people by the end of the fiscal year. One can presume that a significant majority of this funding will go towards a public relations campaign aimed at convincing people that they need this program. From the overwhelming positive press this program has received in the press, Healthy Howard’s greatest success has been to redirect citizens to programs that they already qualify for, which would suggest a hefty price for a match-making service. We need political opposition in our government. It is galling to me that under the circumstances noted above the word “partisan” would be put in print anywhere near Councilman Fox’s name. How about “Acting Chairman of Common Sense”?
Friday, May 22, 2009
US Marshals put a witness in a cell with three guys he was testifying against in Baltimore. I imagine the walk towards the cell went something like this: "Um, Um, guys...you are going to walk me right past the...hey...hey why you opening that door...hey guys, watcha doing...you're gonna put me in there? No no no. (Witness tries to climb up the arm of a US Marshall to get away from the cell) At least give me a knife or something..."
The US House defeated a measure to investigate Nacy Pelosi's claims with regard to the CIA misleading her on "enhancing interrogations." No Democrats voted for the investigation, and only two Republicans voted against it. About as pure of a party vote as you get. I don't like vengeful politics. I don't support measures like these where there are bigger fish to fry. I think Pelosi has been exposed and hopefully the voters will respond (I don't think they will). I will say that it is a shame and an embarrassment that measures like these are defeated, yet MLB steroids and the NCAA football issue get all the time the press will give them. Makes me sick.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Anyway, the Council passed a $1.4 Billion budget 4-1. Greg Fox was the sole dissenter, holding objection to the continued forced march of Healthy Howard. My favorite part of the article:
The council made virtually no changes, rejecting an attempt by Republican
Greg Fox to cut in half the county's second annual $500,000 grant to Healthy
Howard Inc., Ulman's program to provide health access to uninsured, low-income
residents."The (enrollment) numbers were 10 percent of what they were intended
to be when this came to us," said Fox, the council's lone Republican, criticizing Ulman for starting new programs with a recession coming.
Democrat Jen Terrasa fought back."It looks like you don't support health care, or is there something else going on here?" she said.
I've got a special place in my heart for people like Councilman Terrasa. They take criticisms of a broken program and inflate them to the breaking point. "If you don't like Healthy Howard, you must hate doctors. In fact, I bet you drink soda before going to bed without brushing your teeth."
I've said this before, but Healthy Howard may be a product without a market. The Council had the opportunity to debate this point, but after Councilman Terrasa pointed out that minds were already made, the Council chose to continue to fully fund the program. The Council suggests that one year is not enough to evaluate the success of this underperforming program, yet found one year to be more than enough time to evaluate and narrow the Senior Tax Credit last year.
This is party politics streamlining Ulman's pet project. If this program is a failure, Ulman loses big. If it is a success, (or can be continually described as a program going through "growing pains"), Ulman wins big. The real shame is that county employees will be losing their jobs and going on furlough while this program eats about $500,000 in county funds annually for 200 participants (approximately $2,500 per head, which only accounts for operating costs and not the original sunk costs and private contributions).
If you want to see a program floudering for relevance, read this article from the Sun, a paper that has tried repeatedly to fluff up support. The biggest thing to pay attention to is that this program originally anticipated 2,000 participants in the first year, but has only 200. The program originally asked for $500,000 to serve 2,000 people, but now wants $500,000 to serve 200 people. How does this make any sense? Well for that you need to look to a quote from that article
Beilenson said the major roadblock to signing up more clients is lack of
awareness. "I think it's very clear people just don't know about it," he said.
The money is going to posters.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Or...should he have just left the darned thing alone?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Why is this world being made easier for the irresponsible? Does paternalism have no limits in the face of market forces?
The most practical pain in the ass of this whole mess is that those who have high benefit, no/low fee cards will now have to decided whether it is worth closing their accounts and taking a hit on their credit score or simply paying the new fee.
Monday, May 18, 2009
As a recent home-buyer, I love the idea that more people will be buying homes. But the economics of this are off. This new initiative will bring back and artificial bump to prices that will be doomed to again recede. The $8K is to encourage people to buy homes. The reason every renter isn't running out to buy a home is because they need to save up for the down-payment in order to qualify for a mortgage. If they no longer need to save as much for a down-payment, a huge inhibitor is removed and the market would be flooded, especially now that sellers are paying up to 3% for closing costs.
We cannot let our government artificially buoy market prices. No matter how much fun it may be to blame the "greed" of Wall Street, there is a big thumb-print of Uncle Sam on the scales that ended up enabling unfit buyers for home-ownership. I am not suggesting that all those that would take advantage of this program are unfit, but I will say that after just over 1 year home-ownership, the unexpected costs that come along with owning your own home require that you have savings and A LOT of it. We can't have people buying homes on the government's dime.
Thanks for the link, Tim. I wish I could have found a more positive light for the program.
What I want to encourage everyone to do is be more open about your ideas. Our society was founded in public discourse. Before televisions, entertainment was often found in public debate. In my own life, I've found a tremendous benefit in engaging others in a respectful argument over ideas that are either important to me or those that I don't subscribe to, but want to defend in order to find the dimensions of such foreign ideas. I can say without reservation that you do not know what you believe unless it has been actively and passionately challenged. I think this may be why so many "conservatives" (the term is used loosely nowadays, and in my own usage I mean those in favor of less government intervention in the day-to-day lives of its citizenry) may find it easier to say what they believe now than when Bush was President.
I am not suggesting you "pick a fight", I'm only saying that you don't let the next opportunity pass. Don't let your emotions get involved. Don't tell the other person they are ridiculous, stupid, dumb, or suggest they "don't know what they're talking about." If you tumble across such thoughts, I've found the best approach is to ask them "Do you mean..." and more often than not you'll find out that you have misinterpreted their view.
In light of a post showing shades of condescension, please let me know of any topics you'd like me to post on. Maybe this will be your opportunity to "pick a fight" with me.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
That is the scene when Henry and Jimmy think Tommy is being made but he is really being taken to a house wrapped in plastic and is whacked before uttering a half-obscenity.
Present Arlen Specter. They've seperated him from the party and are now destroying him. It really is disturbing to watch.
This poor guy had his door knocked down on a mistaken drug bust two months ago, has yet to be reimbursed, and when he left the door outside for city pick-up he was fined $50 by city inspectors.
Admitting both that Baltimore City is probably the worst run government on the East Coast and that two months is nothing to start protesting over, I still must ask how anyone can justify additional governmental bureacracy seeping into our everyday lives when fact patterns like these play out on a weekly basis.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I hung out with some people that are a good amount more "right" than me last week for a seminar. During a break one of the people there played the new Wolverine trailer and insisted that the music in the background was saying "Oooooobaaaaaamaaaa, Oooooobaaaaamaaa". It made me feel better about my own slight forays into paranoia. I am no where near worried about movie trailers brain-washing our youth.