Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Morning Stuff

It's been a while since I posted on Saturday morning, but I had a few things I wanted to post on this crisp am.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman John Sarbanes.  After explaining how the constant treadmill of fund-raising is ruining politics and preventing legislators from doing much more than vote and chase additional funds, he presented the Grassroots Donor project.  In essence, Con. Sarbanes is imposing the public financing model on himself to show it works and focus more on grassroots campaigning.  Here is the explanation: "I've always believed in the power of the grassroots donor, but now I'm putting skin in the game. With the support of traditional donors who want to model the promise of public financing, I've established a $500,000 Challenge Fund inside my campaign that can only be unlocked when I have recruited 1,000 grassroots donors."  Essentially, John is cutting himself off from his own funds, raised in the normal course of fund-raising, which will only be available once he has over 1,000 donors of $100 or less.

My dear cynics probably jumped down to the comment section before reading this paragraph, but I'm not really concerned as to whether this is a gimmick or a ploy.  I think it is a good idea and one that could change one of the most significant poisons in politics -- money.  We blame partisanship, but as Con. Sarbanes notes, the motivation for working together and reaching across the aisle is directly countered by the need to raise more money, most of which is only available in large amounts at the extremes.  Con. Sarbanes has accepted money from a PAC on only one occasion, and that was due to the fact that the "donor" dissolved before the money could be returned.  If you don't agree with his voting record, there is certainly no reason to donate, but if you do, and you were looking for a congressional campaign to support, I think this is where real change is happening.

Despite rosy descriptions of our State's financial picture earlier this summer, revenue projections have now been cut by $120 million.  "Maryland's general fund revenue for next year is expected to be $14.4 billion. Spending is expected to total about $15.6 billion, leaving a gap that will have to be addressed in the legislative session that begins in January."  I have no insight on this other than to offer something as simple as it is true: You all make me so mad!

TJ Mayotte recaps GECA's most recent efforts to challenge the CSX Intermodal plans for Hanover.  He also notes that County Executive Ken Ulman has officially come out against the Intermodal site, which was the first time I had read about this position (not that it wasn't expressed earlier).

I've been debating whether to post this all morning, but it looks like I am.  Christopher Hitchens has a seriously depressing and jarring description of his chemotherapy treatments, questioning the proposition that "Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger."  I hesitate to post because it is so depressing and not a way I would recommend starting your Saturday, unless you had something life affirming (i.e., long run, child's birthday party, pie-eating contest) scheduled for shortly thereafter.  I decided to share it because it is a darn good essay and will make you think, which generally is a good way to start just about any other day, with or without a scheduled pie-eating contest.

That's all for today.  Have a fantastic Saturday doing whatever you want!  If you're like me, that may be work, and if so...have a great Saturday doing what you love!