Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Climate-Gate

This fascinates me, so I wanted to make sure I posted it for discussion.

A few observations:

1) Someone that can hack into a secure system also will have the capability to manufacture data. These e-mails certainly raise questions, but they aren't a slam dunk.

2) There is a lot of money to be made by playing Chicken Little. Don't dismiss this. Imagine if you could convince people that rain caused cancer, but that there was a Raincoat 5000 that they could buy for, you guessed it, $5,000, that protected you. You then also say "Well that is too expensive for your regular schmo, let's make corporations who cause the cancerous rain subsidize the Raincoat 5000" (i.e., Cap & Trade). The only thing you need to worry about is being seen walking around in the rain without your Raincoat 5000.

3) Why is it so hard for people to understand that science is an argument that started at the beginning of modern thought and continues to today? There is no certainty in science. The only thing that is certain is that the very things we know to be true will be challenged by those that we believe to be false. Stop ridiculing challengers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gobble Gobble Link Dump

(I apologize for being away so long, but I've got a few too many discs spinning right now)

Didn't O'Malley, Franchot, and the Baltimore Sun all tell us that there would be no millionaire flight as a result of the tax hike? Well don't they have egg on their face.

Follow Up: Jose got his groove...I mean truck back. (Stay tuned for an upcoming fundraiser)

Maybe it's just me, but this zoning ethics bill doesn't look like it stands a chance.

Washington's answer to the Economics exam: I don't understand this question, so I am going to draw a picture that makes me happy.

Interesting development in the red & blue approach to crime. Both sides think too many things are illegal.

David Brooks: "The system after reform will look as it does today, only bigger and more expensive." It made me think of how ridiculous it is to let those who argue for public health care to say that the system is too expensive. So we should increase the amount of people covered, and put the government in charge...that's the ticket to efficiency.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dixon's Verdict

(Sounds like a John Irving Title)

Last night I had the fascinating experience of being in a room full of experienced litigators (criminal & civil) as well as state and federal judges. I heard just about every perspective on the trial with one common conclusion: This jury will either be hung or find Dixon not guilty. If you are a constant reader of this blog, you know that this was surprising to me.

The reasoning is that this jury cannot convict. An inside scoop that you will only get here is that the press has been pushed almost to the point of legal action to obtain the names and zip codes of the jurors. The judge is protecting their identities due to the civic nature of this case. Depending on your perspective, these jurors will be dethrowning a mayor that received an overwhelming victory in the Fall of 2006. This will have tremendous repercussions in the community and these jurors will become infamous. Any racial component, as there is sure to be with three white jurors, will be magnified.

The bifurcation of this matter further helps the defense. As already noted, they have a new dawn to present new evidence that may contradict evidence from the previous trial (unless they call the same witnesses, but I'm sure Weiner has thought that through). If Dixon is found not guilty in the first trial, the pressure is even heavier on the second set of jurors. The community itself may be resistant to, in a way, admitting that it was wrong in electing Dixon, and in a larger way, that its city is run by crooks. Can these jurors take these revelations on? They are not only deciding matters of fact, but matters wholy undisturbed by your regular court case.

I'm sorry, but Sheila's going to win.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lest you think I've forgotten...

I am neck deep in work right now, but hope to get a solid post to you sometime today. In the meantime, I hope readers will consider attending Anthony Jordan's Happy Hour this Friday at 6 pm at Houlihan's in Gateway Overlook. It should be a good time to get questions answered and grievances aired.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ellicott City Cummings Protest

I can't decide how I feel about this video. On one hand I truly appreciate those that making their voice known on an issue that I agree with them on. On the other hand, there was somethign nasty about this. I can't stop thinking of the little kids that were taken by their father to the protest. They seemed scared. Maybe the father should have left them at home, but maybe political protests should be careful not to ever reach the level of scaring little kids. Watch the clip and give me your perspective.

Links to Start Your Weekend

Mayor Dixon thought the gift cards were for her...um like a gift...like something you are ethically (and criminally) required to report? Like the whole thrust of the second trial? I wonder whether the defense for the second set of charges will be that she thought the cards were for the poor, and that's why she didn't report them. It will be an entirely new jury. Aw shoot, I just depressed myself over the idea of her getting away with all this. (Where are the bookies? I want to put some money down.) Bonus take here.

Yet another death on Route 32, which is becoming the most dangerous stretch of highway in our state. I think I speak for everyone, and Elvis, when I say "A little less conversation, a little more action."

Interesting run down of the call made to the Baltimore City police regarding the hit-and-run drunk driver that killed a Hopkins student last week. I won't comment any further than this anecdote: I used to live right next to city hall, which is right next to police headquarters. I called in to the police because a man outside a club that was across from my apartment was being stomped on in the middle of the street by five guys. It took the police 20 minutes to traverse one quarter of a mile. I could have run, tagged the building, and run back in 10.

Paul Krugman defines throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the smug, pompous way that only he is able to accomplish.

David Brooks has himself a man-crush on John Thune.

Why aren't more people asking this question? We haven't had an attack on a domestic military base since...that's right Pearl Harbor.

Global Warming is to Liberals what the Value of the Dollar is to Conservatives. Both groups claim that our ignorance of a growing threat will destroy us. Well, call George Will "Al Gore."

Finally, there's a interesting perspective in the Columbia Flier that seems to suggest between the lines that the Howard County GOP is "too right" to ever stand a chance. If I know Trent enough, her quotes in this article seem to cement a run for Executive next year. Candidates seem to be modeling themselves after Ehrlich in their fence-sitting, and I really think it is unbecoming. If you want to win, get out, be strong, and raise some heck. Saying that you are considering a run or that you need to raise funds suggests to me that you need your bed to be made for you before deciding whether to get in. I'm not suggesting anyone be rash or make decisions that they will regret, but when the hill is this steep, we do not have time to waste on those "considering" a run for office. That includes you Governor.

David Proudfoot Fundraiser

As noted earlier in this blog, thanks to a tip from Anonymous, I stumbled across the campaign of David Proudfoot for Board of Education. I've been impressed with the work that has already been done on this campaign, and wanted to get the word out to readers. Unlike Anthony's campaign, I am not in any way affiliated with David or working on his campaign. This is just a public notice, although I will say that I generally favor ANY teacher that is interested in serving on the Board of Education, and David happens to be a teacher. David is clearly an ambitious member of our community that deserves your attention.

Anyway, I've been in touch and have been able to get details on his upcoming fundraiser:

I am having a fundraiser on Saturday, November 21, at the VFW in Ellicott City. This event will be from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm with barbecue ribs, chicken, crab soup, salads, desert - beer, wine and set ups. I will be having a D.J , cash bar, and T.V's for covering college football games. Tickets will be $45.00 per person.

To get tickets, e-mail David and he will make arrangements to get tickets to you. Otherwise, tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.

I am going to try to make it, but have started working with Mr. Lozano on a fundraiser for making up the difference between his insurance payment and the cost of a new truck. We were looking to meet on Saturday, but maybe I can do both.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Like Numbers

Here are some Gallup polls on party leanings.

The Faults of Delayed Victory Logic

You've heard many Republicans scoff at the health care legislation and say "Even if it passes, which we hope it doesn't, it will doom Democrats for the next ten years." First, real politicians (not elected representative, "politicians") on the right want health care to pass so they will have a rallying cry that will sweep them into office. Second, the logic is wrong.

As this short sweet (or sour) editorial note from the WSJ indicates, entitlement health care will establish big D Democrats at the party of choice for the middle class for some time.

At a campaign meeting I recently attended, the candidate was told not to make any suggestions that he would "cut government." He was told that people think of having their "citizen benefits" taken away and will vote against cuts. My own personal belief is that this is an oversimplification of a complicated issue and presumes that human ambition will die in the face of government hand outs, but there is some truth underneath. The health care plan may be clunky, expensive, and inconvenient, but it should have no problem shouldering out the competition. Once that happens, government cuts translate to health care cuts. That sounds bad no matter how you look at it.

If it seems like Dems are running up the hill of universal health care without abandon, they are. Once they get the ring into volcano, they win.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Reads

Call me insensitive, but if a gunman is screaming "Allah Akbar" while he guns down unarmed soldiers on a US military base, we don't need to call for an inquest into his feelings. I'm talking to you, Dr. Phil.

Simple equation: If health care reform were going to simultaneously reform medical malpractice, there is no way the Dems would pass it. Malpractice insurance is a silent tax on every procedure, treatment, and examination you received. Just as with all other taxes, they are passed onto the consumer. Well trial lawyers are the tax collectors in this case, and thank goodness for them, they are not only safe, but look to MAKE MORE MONEY from the reform.

We need to figure out what we can do to help this man. The story really got to me. I've already got some inquiries in, and will let you know what I hear back.

Fight Google at your own risk, dum dum.

The PATRIOT Act and intrusion on our privacy is only an outrage when President Bush does it. Same seems to go for just about everything else.

I hope that those who find the death of another to be soothing against past wrongs find solace tonight.

Why the irrational thinking of "Well, everybody needs to own a home right? Life, Liberty, and HOA Fees, wasn't that in the Constitution?" just plain doesn't work and hurts everybody in the long run.

Prediction on Dixon Trial: If not found guilty on the theft charges, she will be found guilty of criminal ethical oversight. This will result in a minor fine (<$10,000) and she will resign. Rohrbaugh is throwing so much mud that there is no way something doesn't stick. If someone looked at every single record from your work place for the past two years, chances are they would find evidence of a misdemeanor, even if it was just the improper use of a fax machine or mistakenly taking a pen home from work. Dixon has clearly be riding dirty and I think she's a crook, but these charges are almost ridiculous in their scope.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Finding The Narrative

Studies have shown that social unrest is directly related to "hopelessness." This term can be found in the distance between perception and reality for social categories of people. For instance, one can say that the Rodney King riots were brought on not only by the verdict, but also by the mainstream perception that race relations had normalized and the belief in urban communities that they had not.

Over the past month, we have had some interesting contradictions in news. In case you didn't know, the recession is over. However, unemployment is at it highest level since 1983. The distance between perception and reality is getting larger, mostly thanks to politicians that are quick to say "we fixed it." They decline the hard explanations or the hard truth that most of these jobs will never come back in the way they were before, which was suggested by a Presidential candidate not too long ago. Put yourself in the position of the former bread-winner whose unemployment checks are numbered. He is being told by his President that "there is no doubt things are getting better" even while admitting that there are people that haven't seen a darn thing get better:

This causes violence. In fact, this separation from perception and reality is the founding force behind Al Qaeda. Bin Laden's core goal is the dispersement (and militaristic control) of petroleum reserve profits. This is because there is a huge difference between the haves and have nots in his home of Saudia Arabia. Saudi Arabia's bodyguard is the United States. Bin Laden doesn't hate the US for it's freedom, but rather it's presence in SA and defense of the Saudi kingdom.

The shootings taking place across this country are not off-shoots of the tea parties. In fact, these shootings are apolitical. These are people who think everything is getting better, except the things surrounding them. It's enough to drive you insane.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Anthony Jordan Post

Every once in a while I will refer readers to a post on Anthony Jordan's site. Anthony is running for County Council in District 2 and is really starting to see some traction. This post relates to development, so I thought I would pass it on.

The Great Corporate Exodus

As you all know, Black & Decker, a Fortune 500 Company, is moving its headquarters from Towson to Connecticut. We are losing at least 250 high paying jobs with the company itself, which reverberates throughout the local economy (and state revenue). The Baltimore Sun has argued that since Connecticut's tax burden "is high too," this aspect of the move should not be discussed.

What I love best about these type of arguments from the Baltimore Sun is when they dismiss (not discredit) a valid basis for a corporate move because it does not jive with their narrative, they normally follow with "the reason is unclear." And, lest we be inconsistent, the Baltimore Sun argues that "[w]hy the controlling interest should go to Connecticut-based Stanley and not partner B&D is not entirely clear."

This is clear. The non-partisan Tax Foundation has ranked Connecticut 38th in their Tax Climate Index, with Maryland being 45th. Connecticut's corporate rate is 7.5, with Maryland coming in at 8.3. Businesses have made themselves known that we're playing with their ball and if they don't like the rules, they're taking their ball back and going home. How long will legislators base their decisions on a perceived immobility of business when our market is more fluid and malleable than ever before?

While I won't say this move was based entirely on the tax code, I can say that the leadership of these two companies had two locations to choose from. They made two columns with the pros and cons of each state. Connecticut was picked. We lost the chance to have the biggest tool company in the United States.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some Must Reads

First off, thoughts and prayers go out to the service-members affected by the shooting at Ft. Hood earlier today. I'm concern that the media's unstated disdain for our proud men and women in uniform may be shown in their analysis of this shooting. Maybe they will even turn it into an anti-gun piece. All I know is that they will refuse to see it for what it is: a sense-less tragedy.

If you watch MSNBC or read the NYTimes, you've heard the spin that the NY House race indicates that Tuesday was really a victory for Democrats (this one is the most ridiculous I've seen). I've actually weighed this in my head myself, as shown by the posts, but I would never agree that Tuesday was not an unmitigated victory for Republican Challengers (not necessarily "Republicans" as a whole). Well here's a mocking review of the real divided party: The Dems!

I'm impressed (almost). Kyle Lorton, candidate for State Senate in District 13, is having an event with Bob Ehrlich. I clearly have under-estimated Kyle's contacts. However I temper this impression with the fact that I can't find one piece of PR about it. I received an e-mail letting me know it was happening, but that's it. Public Relations Opportunity Fail.

The County Government projects that the proposed Columbia redevelopment will net between $7 million and $14 million annually. Well I hear Exec Ulman is spending in the margin with county finances, so he must have done a little jig when those numbers came out. I think the article fairly points out that the county's expenses will sky-rocket in terms of schools, public safety, and roadways. There also were indications that they analyses were incomplete and were being rushed out the door to frame public opinion. For you new readers, let me know what you think about this new development. It will fundamentally change our county and at the very least will affect your daily commute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interesting Take on the NY House Seat

There an editorial/analysis by a Republican advisor in the Sun that is worth a look. Most arguments can be taken apart by pulling out the assumption that the rest of the argument relies. Here, the author proffers that the "moderate" was liberal on fiscal issues, which I think is incorrect. All indications was that Hoffman ran because the GOP candidate was liberal on social issues. It requires a completely different analysis than suggesting it was a fiscal issue. That is unless you can defend the position that Democrats get elected on the platform of "raising taxes."

Facebook Rising

We've got a Facebook page! I would never dare challenge the anonymity of my most loyal reader, but the page is just one more step to broaden readership and enrich our discussions. If you've joined, thank you! Please share the posts from the site on your own page.

I picked up the equipment for a podcast this past weekend. I was hoping to be able to do an interview as the first post, but my guest will be out of town this weekend. I'm going to try and record something this week and get it posted for your review.

Drunk Driver Reports Himself

I know this is goofy (and probably nothing to laugh at), but since it WAS in the local news, I figured I would pass it on. (Props to Chris Cavey for the link).

Drunk Driver Reports Himself.

Yesterday's Results

If you look behind the empty analysis, yesterday was a good day. Two of the biggest elections (NJ & VA Gov) went Republican, which has been boiled down, refined, carved, packaged, and served to the American people as a rejection of Democratic policies. This is because we can't expect the public to look any further into these results than some simplistic boiled down explanation. Just like everyone now thinks the economy went in the tank because of either Bush or the housing crisis (depending on red or blue hue).

I am honestly happy that McDonnel won Virginia. That is an important state and if he can effectuate the policies he ran on, he could be a good face for the party.

Christie winning New Jersey was a huge ding for Obama, who stood next to Corzine on stage only a week ago (if that). Admittedly, he is a socially moderate conservative, which is the brand of politician I prefer. However, I didn't much care for his thuggish method of campaigning. I married a Jersey Girl, so I'm well aware of "how we do" in the Dirty Jerz, but there is rarely the need to get in the muck when you have a strong platform.

Hoffman (the "Conservative" Candidate) lost the House seat. To quote one of my most liberal friends on Facebook "I'm almost sad Hoffman lost." Of course he is. Hoffman would have been the high water mark of GOP inroads with independents with everything thereafter being downhill. He is everything that is wrong with the Republcian party. He is Sarah Palin (who aggressively campaigned for him). Republicans had this seat SINCE 1872!! But yet Hoffman bullies the socially moderate Republican candidate out, claiming that she isn't "conservative" enough (note: if someone says you aren't [blank] enough of something, most of the time you should take that as a compliment) and that he is the true conservative. Because true conservatives use the law to impose social mores, isn't that what the Founding Fathers would have wanted? Bull-[loney].

Joshua Cohen won the Annapolis Mayor seat by only 240 votes! Nonetheless, he felt comfortable saying that voters "sent a clear message." It is ironic that Josh kinda looks like the "Can you hear me now?" Verizon guy, because 240 votes isn't clear anything. Especially in light of the fact that the Baltimore Sun had you on just about every other front page for the past 3 months.

I have two rules on this blog for myself: 1) Interact with readers; 2) Don't post stuff that you don't know anything about. Both rules are intended to keep and grow readership.

I don't know much about the Frederick political scene. I'm pretty excited that two of the top contestants are from Top Chef and my wife has been nagging me to go to one of the restaurants up there ($$$$$), but besides that I think "drivers test" and "antiques" when I think of Frederick.

However, as Anonymous points out, all three alderman elections from yesterday booted the incumbents. Bucking the national trend, voters expanded the Democratic majority on the board from three to four out of five. From the article, it didn't seem like the challengers even knew why they won, which makes me think that this election may not have as much significance as we may want in terms of Howard County elections. The biggest issue the article seemed to be able to point to is that incumbents have records that they need to defend, which gets credit for the obvious statement of the day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

V for Obama

Interesting article indicating that the new show "V" (which will be put on the DVR shed-uel), is political fiction. I'll believe it when I see it.

Today's Big Races

If you have any political pulse at all, you know that there are some marginal (as far as Maryland is concerned) races that will go to the polls today. Many are arguing that this is a referendum on Obama and his policies. I think that simplifies things a bit too much and belittles the candidates. I think the real referendum will be on straight party voting. If Corzine loses, which seems up in the air (polls: Christie 42.6%; Corzine 41.6%), then the straight ticket Dems have either stayed home or are scrutinizing their ballot choices. Bob McDonnell is running away with the Virginia Governorship, in a state that Obama won by about 6%. Virginia was previously a red leaning state, and many of those red-leaners may be getting out the vote.

Finally, the New York House of Representatives seat is the most interesting. The Republican candidate dropped out on Saturday due to claims that she was a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the Conservative candidate Douglas L. Hoffman. This race will be more important to the future of the Republican party than to domestic politics. Hoffman muscled Dierdre Scozzafava out of the race on the social issues that many (present commentator included) believe go against a true conservative platform. These family issue planks are clearly in contravention of the very meaning of the word conservative! Nonetheless, people that want to return America to its so-called "family roots" (i.e., if I don't like it, don't do it) will use whatever title they can, despite semantic hypocrisy.

I'm not particularly excited about these races. Christie strikes me as a thug. Hoffman appears ignorant and self-righteous. Bob McDonnel looks like a great candidate with a true interest in what matters (i.e., economic issues), but he's got the election in the bag.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shooting Related to Housing Crisis?

A further update from the Sun indicates that the shooting in Columbia (near Clarksville) took place at a million dollar home that was rented out for parties. The owners have filed for bankruptcy and face foreclosure. It certainly seems that this was just a perfect storm of bad circumstances. Most of the party-goers were from Montgomery County (including the two victims), giving further indication that this is not necessarily a symptom of a larger problem.

HOWEVER, Howard County Police will tell you that Howard County gets a lot of gang traffic. I'm not going to jump in and say this is gang related, but when I hear "drugs", "shooting", and "Montgomery County" in the same sentence, I am going to think "gangs" no matter what the circumstance may be.

Shooting in Columbia (near Clarksville...gasp)

There isn't much analysis to offer, but there was a shooting death in Columbia Saturday night (early morning). The only interesting detail is that these home-owners had thrown a similar party earlier that year that neighbors took issue with. This may be viewed as an abnormality, but let us also remember that about five miles down the road north-west there was an armed bank robbery and there are a string of burglaries five miles the other way in Ellicott City. We are living in a new Howard County. Development will help crime in our area in the same way kicking a nest helps to calm down the bees.