Thursday, October 29, 2009

Proudfoot for Board of Education

Thanks to Anonymous for the tip.

David Proudfoot, 31, of Ellicott City will be running for a Howard County Board of Education seat. From my own research, it appears he has been revving up a campaign for quite some time.

I think the Board elections are going to be quite politicized this year. There are rumblings in the GOP Club ranks that the curriculum is "brain-washing" our children, and they have been recruiting candidates. I really hope those concerns stay rumblings and don't develop into a misguided candidate running on a political platform for an independent position. It would be a black eye for the other candidates and probably cause some unwanted attention without bringing any change in result.

I'll tell ya this much, David has already put together the most developed campaign Facebook page out of all the candidates for County races. It looks SHARP.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Developing the Blog

I'm going to be looking into working the blog into something a little more. I promise not to "burn out," but I really think we need to get some more readers in order to develop additional dialogue. I truly appreciate all of the comments left by Anonymous (and some of the rest of you when you are so inclined), but I am a man of discourse, and although I could talk to Anonymous all day, I think he (presumptive) and I would much rather talk to 4 or 5 or 10 people.

So here's what I'm looking into. First, I would like to do a weekly podcast. I think all I'll need is a microphone to hook to my computer. Second, I'm going to go try and get word out about the blog by posting on some other blogs to see if I can attract some attention.

So wish me luck. I don't know when the podcast will start, but I'm hoping in the next two weeks. Otherwise, there are these buttons at the bottom of every post that were incredibly difficult to code into blogger. One of them allows you to post blog posts onto Facebook. If you see something you like, post it.

Another Great Sun Op-Ed

What are you doing to be Baltimore Sun? I'm supposed to be railing against your deep blue leanings. Oh, that's it. You're filing yourself up with AP stores and syndicated columnists. False alarm.

Check it out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed

The Baltimore Sun has a great editorial in their Sunday edition (yes I still get the paper version) that speaks to a good deal of the "concerns" from this blog. Basically "Republicans, if you think you're so great and set for a 2010 renaissance, lets hear your ideas." The GOP is in the position to be the party of "reality" with "real" candidates who care more about what the people think than what they think is good for the people. They are wasting it with juvenile propaganda and mud slinging. Outside of the local elections, I haven't seen much that makes me excited about national elections.

It helps me to see that other people are as frustrated as I am. I'm not even saying we need Republicans to win, but I don't know if we want to further the expansive-minded government policies that seem to be the practice of the Dems. Yes, Republicans have this in them as well, but at least with the GOP they are hypocrites and not fulfilling planks of their party.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Two More Candidates

There are two additional candidates I left out of my earlier list. This was not in any way intentional and does not reflect any feelings I may have about the candidates.

Jeff Robinson, Delegate District 13. This is another hard working campaign with a lot of good people volunteering on staff. He has had multiple events and seems to be snowballing supporters. He's going up against some fairly established names in the county (Guzzone, Pendergrass), but he is a legitimate challenger. If you go to his site, be sure to check out the "About Jeff" page. He's certainly had an interesting life.

Kyle Lorton, State Senate District 13. This is a candidate that is getting a reputation for introducing himself as "Do you live in my district?" He is running against former County Exec James Robey, which should be quite a challenge. I can't say much either way on Kyle other than the fact that he makes it out to most of the Howard County GOP events. It will be interesting to see how he communicates himself to voters going forward. A preliminary tip would be to turn on the lights next time he films a campaign video clip.

I promise to take a much more critical eye as these campaigns move forward, but it is unfair to criticize/promote before these candidates have the opportunity to establish themselves.

Update: I can't make heads or tails of Kyle's blog either. I think he may be the definition of a "dark horse" in every meaning of the term.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Malagisi Strikes Again

As I've mentioned previously on this blog, an old friend from DC is making waves in the wonk-esphere with great new conservative initiatives and media appearances. His name is Chris Malagisi and he is currently working with the Leadership Institute in Virginia. He has an editorial posted on NPR that frankly has no holes as far as I can see. It is the kind of argument that people who disagree can only respond with anecdotal stories about their grandma or grandpa without addressing the substance (or the statistics) he provides. Please spare me "lies, damn lies, and statistics" because I am well aware of Mr. Clemens quip. Read the editorial and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal

That seems to be the password for political forgiveness. You are normally excused from having much of any political point of view if you can remember those four words. I'm not faulting anyone. In fact, I've dropped that line myself when I'm trying to convince a hard line Dem that their position doesn't make sense or tell a hard line Republican that they are out of line with the populace. But as I was driving in to work today, I started wondering "Well, what in the hell does that even mean?"

Fiscally conservative. That basically means the government doesn't spend liberally. Couldn't that also mean that they tax the dickens out of everyone? They wouldn't spend money they don't have. I think what it really means at the end of the day is small government, but people don't like saying that because then they feel like they're Ron Paul...and whatever the merit of that man's ideas, he sounds like the farmer who just had a UFO land in his back yard. Fiscally conservative means, don't spend more money than you have to, which means don't tax more than you have to, which means stay as large as you have to, which means...well there's your black hole and why "fiscally conservative" doesn't mean a darn thing. Are you in Sean Hannity's camp, thinking that the federal government should provide for Defense and little else? Well I hope you don't take I-95 to work. Are you with Rachel Maddow and you think that the government should provide a baseline of living expenses for all citizens (or even non-citizens)?

I'm going to guess you're in the middle, which at the end of the day means "cut the fat." Run an efficient government, cutting wherever necessary, but providing the services that are currently expected. Don't expand and quit it with the pork.

Now socially liberal, that's easy. That means "let people do what they want to do." Gay marriage - as long as I'm invited. Abortion - (not touching it). Drugs - smoke 'em if you got 'em. Financial Scams - if you can trick us, you keep it.

You're like "wait a second, I didn't say that Nigerian Prince can get my bank account number and get away with it." Or "if we liberalize drugs, then I'm not paying for the druggies." So again, there is a line that needs to be drawn, but where? Frankly I find scam artists more forgivable than drug dealers, all the scam artists take is money. And if we "liberalize," who gets to decide which ills we allow? Aren't we always going to be gate-keepers? Murder is a social construct that we have disallowed. Are social liberals open in to loosening up those rules?

This simple four word phrase is keeping us all from real discussion. "Oh well that guy Ryan over there, he's fiscally conservative and socially liberal just like me. We are on the same page when it comes to politics." Uh, probably not. You both have probably never had your views challenged. Sooooooo, next time someone serves you that load of ___, smile knowingly and say "yeah, murder should totally be legal and we should restrict our spending to aircraft carriers."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Columbia's Growth

There is a recent article in the Sun discussing the planned development for Columbia over the next ten years. In my opinion, all legislatures (county council included) see their role as similar to a business' board of directors. They must grow. But that is not the mandate of government and I think Columbia's growth is simply for the sake of growth and not to reach any end goal. A perfect example of the dangers presented by this approach is the Maple Lawn "community." They've had multiple failed businesses and the residential district that was meant to manufacture customers sits at half capacity. Growth cannot be manufactured by the government, not matter what your President tells you.

In Columbia, we already have a budding crime problem that is getting worse by the day. A county that less than 5 years ago had 5-10 homicides a year is edging closer to the 50 mark. Why does the council see fit to bulldoze themselves into new problems while the existing one's fester? I think the reason is that they are mostly oblivious. You will not see a council-person making statements about how the "details are where a lot of the discussion will go in the future" about the drug rings using our county as home base or the prostitution along Route 1 ("I have seen some improvement"...really?). If Towson is the model, please just look up the Beltway and tell me things are going well for them.

This county will develop and has developed over the past 20 years, but it has developed to meet a steadily rising demand. The county is looking to create a glut of housing (because that worked out before) and then prop up new businesses to meet the expected market. Funny thing is that I don't see any economists weighing in on this little plan. Just developers...and council-members.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story Reviewed

One of this blog's most loyal readers (and commenters) recently saw Michael Moore's new movie and I thought I would post his review for comment. The real question is whether Moore addressed the irony (and/or hypocrisy) of charging money to see a movie that bashes capitalism.

"I went to see Capitalism: A Love Story yesterday. It did keep my
attention, though little new information was provided. The entertainment value
was most clear when Michael Moore visited the bailed out banks & AGI in an
attempt to make a citizen’s arrest and lock up their CEOs for thievery. Loved
that part.

Good: Glad to see the balance, however delayed, between
Democrats and Republicans. We’re all spiraling south until we vote out those
incumbents.

Bad: Moore missed a fantastic oppty to market this film by
focusing on the bailouts – people are mad, really mad about this. I saw a poll
today that said Maryland voters want big changes in campaign finance reform. But
also, the subject could have been better delivered by showing the early benes of
Capitalism and then hit more squarely and thematically on the undermining of
Democracy that morphed Capitalism into the beast we have today. It’s not that
Cap is evil, but the people exploiting Cap have changed it. You can’t even call
what we have today Capitalism, it’s simply control of our gov’t by those with
massive amounts of money. That is not Capitalism.

Learned: Wow. The part
about one-income families paying off mortgages in 5-6 years during the 1950-60’s
really brought home how far we’ve fallen. Now it takes 2 income families 30-40
years to pay off the roof over their heads. My father paid off our family home
in 6 years but the contrast didn’t occur to me until I heard it stated this way.

Over-the-top: Realizing this is Michael Moore’s style, making fun of
Bush was a bit much considering the gravity of the subject. But maybe that’s
what it took to keep my 17 yo son interested. And he was."



I have not seen the movie, but I did listen to an interesting interview on the radio over the weekend. The guest was suggesting that part of the reason we have such horrifying stories of people being churned in the grinder of a harsh market is the end result of continuously telling the consumer that "everything will be ok" and that their government will take care of them. My father grew up in an age where you never trusted someone that offered you something for nothing and if it looked too good to be true, it was. You saved more than you spent and you went out to eat only on special occassions. Now everyone believes that they are entitled to what their neighbor has. When I worked in the government, we revoked security clearances for people with bad credit who were spending beyond their means. The one constant was that they never thought they were spending extravagantly. One man I remember vividly took his entire family on a cruise because "we had worked hard and deserved it" despite being over $100,000 in debt with credit cards.

But here's the thing about both markets (such as the market Michael Moore is playing to) and democracies: The Ayes Have It. We are a decision maker by plurality, not correctness. Therefore blaming the masses serves no purpose. Obama realized this. McCain didn't. Hell, Barney Frank has made a career out of always changing his position so as to always be on the side of the plurality.

Thank you Anonymous. I know this is an issue that you and I don't see eye to eye on, but your review was fair and, dare I say, balanced? Ha ha.

Friday, October 9, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

Before anyone gets all indignant about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I hope we can remember that Paul Krugman (he of the "post-office-and-MVA-are-models-of-efficiency" school) won the Peace Prize for Economics. We're not talking about non-partisans over there.

I've heard plenty of people say "what did he do" and my answer is "he won the Nobel peace prize." This award is meant more to give the President additional authority than it is to reward him for a job well done. As far as I am aware, the President's only international agreement has been a "Prom Promise" type document saying that we promise not to screw up the economy again. Most could look at it as a general censure on America for being such a dominant force in the economy.

But at the end of the day, the award says something more. When Obama's approval rating has gone way into the red domestically, he is being encouraged by his overseas electorate...you know...those people he visited DURING the Presidential campaign. In an age when our ears are being filled with "the world is flat" dogma, a President will seek out international favor even when it is pissing off the people at home. Nonetheless, the Olympics are in Rio, Iran is building a bomb, and Russia is about to have a gulag party in the Ukraine. Nice job.

So for now, congrats Mr. President. I'm sure your acceptance speech will be pretty. But unfortunately you ran for office here. Get back to work.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SNL Picks on Obama

Funny doesn't have a political party.

Update: Looks like the YouTube clip has been quashed. Here's a link to CNN coverage. I can't get the embed feature to work.

Freedom

Remember when that word didn't make your skin crawl? Good ole Dubya certainly tainted that word for the rest of time. There is an interesting op-ed in the Sun today about how Dems are using racism in the same way the GOP used "patriotism."

Those who do not study history...

It is a famous misquote (actually "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it") that has placed an albatross on our politics. History plays an important role in educating our citizenry. It plays an even more important role in educating those that shape our future. However, history ain't no cookbook. We can't have the elected looking into the past for solutions to our future. Especially when lives are at risk.

Here is an example. We've got politicos on the right and left insisting that the Afghanistan war is either the Vietnam war or the Iraqi war, and that the lessons learned from those engagements can be boxed up, shipped through time, reopened, and used to address the current problem. Meanwhile, we have Generals on the ground with real ideas about how to obtain some level of stability and progress. "But, can you at least make it sound like there is some historical parallel? The further back in history the better. It was much more fun to use the Alexander the Great Afghanistan comparison than the Russian invasion."

History has a place, its just not the only level of analysis we should be considering.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gen. McChrystal

This makes me mad. Anyone that watched Gen. McChrystal's coverage on 60 minutes a couple weeks back couldn't help but be impressed, but because he's not holding the party line he may be sacked. This is a man that is actually figuring things out in a place where nothing makes sense. He has captured or killed dozens of high level Taliban and Al Queda fighters. He has the respect of his men. But he stepped on Obama's toes...a President that had to have a meeting with the General on the tarmac of an airport after lobbying for a Chicago Olympics.

This is a damn shame.

Scary Plot -- Does it Make Sense?

Supposedly, there is a nefarious cabal of malicious nations looking to dump the dollar via oil producing countries. I have a hard time with this for two reasons:

1) China is one of the supposed countries. China has the largest reserve of US dollars outside of the United States. The US is also their biggest trading partner. Their financial position is prefaced on the strength of the dollar. Dumping the dollar would hurt the US the most, but hurt China the second most.

2) China manipulates the Arab countries on a daily basis. I don't believe much when I hear that there is a rumor of an agreement between China and Arab countries. China will string them along and then turn around saying "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Whole Foods CEO Gets It

Unfortunately, common sense is not always popular. Revolutionizing health care is more exciting than "correcting" it. The WSJ's weekend interview with the CEO of Whole Foods is an interesting look at how innovations in the current health insurance market are making in-roads on affordability.

I love Health Spending Account, high deductible insurance. It makes sense. Nothing else I've heard does.