Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Who needs a secret ballot when you have 'Free Choice'

Two Op-Eds in Tuesday’s Post concerning a pet project of the Left: the ironically titled “Employee Free Choice Act of 2007

“Labor unions hope this exquisitely mistitled act, which the House of Representatives probably will pass this week, will compensate for their dwindling persuasiveness as they try to persuade workers to join. It would allow unions to organize workplaces without workers voting for unionization in elections with secret ballots. Instead, unions could use the "card check" system: Once a majority of a company's employees signs a card expressing consent, the union is automatically certified as the bargaining agent for all the workers.” George F. Will - An Assault On Corporate Speech

“A proposal to let American workers decide in peace and quiet about whether to join a union has provoked a torrent of crocodile tears from corporate executives. The Employee Free Choice Act, which the House is due to vote on this week, would permit an employee to choose union representation by signing a membership card. If a majority of workers in a defined "bargaining unit" opted for it, employers would have to bargain in good faith with the workers' union.” Lance Compa - A Shield Against Corporate Bullying

The way I understand the law now; if at least 30% of the workers in the defined non-unionized “bargaining unit” sign an authorization card to have a particular union represent them, they’ll have a secret vote on it. If 50% of the workers sign said card, the employer can voluntarily eschew the vote and decide to recognize the union as the authorized rep. But at worst there will still at least be a vote. This so-called “Free Choice” bill would mandate recognition at 50+% with no vote allowed.

I recognize that no matter where we’re positioned on the political spectrum, we are all susceptible to a certain amount of hyperbole and exaggeration. But the pro-bill spin honestly mystifies me: How does losing the right to a secret ballot possibly enhance your freedom of choice? Can anyone point me toward another instance where you could lose your right to a secret ballot in exchange for openly voting in front of partisans and still come away feeling your freedom of choice was furthered?

Many prominent supporters of this bill emphasize the benefits of unionization to workers. Unfortunately (for union officials and union-dependent politicians), workers, when given the right to act in the privacy of the ballot box, haven’t been convinced by these arguments. This is how you know it’s a liberal bill: their trademark “Trust us, we know what’s best for you” mantra is the background music for all of this.

Word is, if the bill lands on the President’s desk, he’ll veto it. Good…his veto pen has been vastly underutilized.

SideNote: George Will writes:

“It would fine employers that, to reduce the incentive to unionize, give workers "unilateral" -- not negotiated -- improvements in compensation or working conditions during attempts at unionization.”

At first glance, I took that to mean that the bill would prohibit such activities. It doesn’t – such activities, believe it or not, are already against the rules:

“Examples of violations of Section 8(a)(1). Employer conduct may, of course, independently violate Section 8(a)(1). Examples of such independent violations are:

• Granting wage increases deliberately timed to discourage employees from forming or joining a union. “
NLRB Basic Guide (pg. 18)

The Bill is an amendment to the National Labor Relations Act which, as they emphasize, is remedial, not criminal. This bill adds civil penalties – including fines of up to $20,000 per violation – which is to what Mr. Will is referring.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Carnival of Maryland

Years from now, this may well be a collector’s item:

Crablaw's Maryland Weekly: Carnival of Maryland #1 - 2/25/2007

Congrats, Good job and Thanks, Crab.

Attila has graciously volunteered to host the next one:

“The date for Edition 2 is Sunday, March 11. The submission deadline is Saturday, March 10, at 9 p.m. Earlier submissions are encouraged.”

…and you can submit via: Blog Carnival - Submit an Article for the ‘Carnival of Maryland

Congrats again Crab on getting this off the floor.

Monday, February 26, 2007


"Don't throw me into the UN's ICC Briarpatch"

Remember when Abu Ghraib was the Left’s concern du jour?

“But it's not clear that the world will accept our courts' verdicts—particularly if some of the soldiers and intelligence officers are acquitted. In light of this case's importance for the perception of America around the world, an international consensus that justice has been achieved matters as much as—if not more than—what happens inside the courtroom.” Keeping the ICC out of Abu Ghraib.

Wouldn’t it be great if just for once we would do the right thing and let the world have a say in our affairs:

“One option that's not on the table would perhaps best serve the interests of global justice: a trial before the International Criminal Court.”

Now our failure to submit to the ICC is considered by many to be a significant failure of the Bush administration (although President Clinton never submitted it for approval either) and yet another example of our tone-deaf interaction with global community.

Well, those convicted soldiers are no doubt saying a silent prayer thanking all that the ICC never got a hold of them:

But the 15-judge panel rejected Bosnia's claim that the Serbian state was responsible for the killing, saying it did not have effective control over the Bosnian Serb forces it had helped arm and finance. Instead, …

“Serbia, "could, and should, have acted to prevent the genocide, but did not," the court's president, Rosalyn Higgins, told reporters.”
U.N. Court Clears Serbia of Genocide

Whoa – ease up, ICC. Those Serbians may have been genocidal or - according to you – just somewhat inattentive but they still deserve to be treated with some respect. But Judge Higgins is mad and won't let up:

Higgins also condemned Serbia's failure to hand over Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic, indicted more than a decade ago by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the genocide in Srebrenica.”

Ouch! As a result:

The order to arrest Mladic and other genocide suspects was part of the binding judgment in the case. Failure to comply can be reported to the U.N. Security Council. However, international officials have been pushing Serbia to hand over Mladic for nearly 12 years without success.”

The Security Council? It’s going to suck to be Mladic.

Still, Bosnia thought that maybe some compensation could be coming their way but the ICC wisely considered that the easy way out:

“But she said the court ruled that the Serbian state could not be held directly responsible for genocide, so paying reparations to Bosnia would be inappropriate even though Serbia had failed to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators.” Serbia cleared of genocide, failed to stop killing

Okay – just to rehash:

Abu Ghraib = jail time.
Genocide of a people = threatening to tell on the genociders to the Security Council.

Abu Ghraib = Fines, reduction of rank etc.
Genocide of a people= .....did I mention the whole bit about telling the Security Council?.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Vilsack Drops Out of 2008 Presidential Race

If you’ll recall, Mr. Vilsack was first out of the chute in publicly declaring for 2008: November 9, 2006 Tom Vilsack for President TOM VILSACK FILES OFFICIAL PAPERS TO DECLARE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY

Making this then a rather ironic observation:

“This is a nomination process on steroids," said a Vilsack adviser, who asked not to be identified in order to let the former governor speak publicly about the decision to quit the race. "It started earlier than anybody expected and it's requiring more money than ever before."

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack seems like a decent enough guy – much too liberal for my taste but at least his public persona didn’t scream ‘consultant-enhanced’. I’m a firm believer in the-more-the-merrier as to candidates for 2008 so I’m disappointed he has dropped out of the Democratic field of presidential hopefuls. He was more likeable than Senator Clinton, had more relevant experience than Senator Obama and was more believable than John Edwards.

Of course, unless you were really geeking out on this stuff, you may not have even been aware of his candidacy…which I guess was a big part of the problem with it.


Extra, Extra: We're not popular with some Arabs

Better late than never; from David Ignatius’s Op-Ed on February 21:

“The polling was done last year by Zogby International in six countries that are usually regarded as pro-American: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“…Asked which foreign leader they disliked most, 38 percent named George Bush; Ariel Sharon was a distant second at 11 percent; and Ehud Olmert was third with 7 percent.”
Going Nowhere Fast

First of all, these countries are usually considered pro-American only when it can help make an anti-Bush point…like here. I suppose on some level the opinions of that populace can be of some significance to us. But when a man in a coma garners more dislike than the current Israeli leader; that really can’t say too much for the attention span of those surveyed. And what’s so significant about that 38% number? Poll that same question in the US Congress and the Democrats would probably ensure the President was #1 by an even wider margin.

According to Mr. Ignatius “America must change its Iraq policy, soon” and “broker a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.” Tellingly, he doesn’t think we should quickly pull out – apparently few Arabs want that. But we should be “negotiating with the Iraqis on a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.”

That can mean one of two things: (a) we’re still there against the Iraqi’s will and don’t really care what they think about that or (b) we’re still there at the request of the Iraqi’s. If it’s the former – then actually a quick pullout makes sense. If we’re there against their government’s will then we truly are an occupying force. But if it’s the latter then what other countries’ wishes are really relevant?

And of course there is the de rigueur call to be “talking with Iraq's neighbors.”

But not to be all negative; his suggestion about brokering “a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute” is just the kind of innovative thinking we need for our Government. Perhaps some input from Bill Clinton would be of some help in this matter. I think he has some experience from a similar matter some 8 years ago.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


MPILP Auction at Maryland Law - March 10th

Allow me a brief sojourn to the dark side as I shill for some guilt-ridden liberals:

On Saturday March 10th at the University of Maryland School of Law (my alma mater), the Maryland Public Interest Project (MPILP) – will be celebrating its 20th year with their annual auction. The silent Auction begins at 6PM and is followed by a Live Auction. Admission is only $25 in Advance ($35 at the Door) and includes Drinks (yes, Beer), heavy Hors D’oeuvres and Desserts.

I have attended many of these and have always enjoyed them. There is usually a decent array of items up for bid so you can get some bargains. And if you haven’t been to the newly refurbished Law School (500 West Baltimore Street) – well, you might as well see your tax dollars in action. The historic Edgar Allen Poe gravesite is also on the grounds.

MPILP raises money to help provide for summer grants for law school students to work for agencies and non-profits in a legal environment. Even though I believe a lot of those agencies and non-profits do a lot to muck up life for the rest of us, I also believe it is important that these students get a chance to work in such an arena if that is their desire. Help them get it out of their system; after all, better they do it now – as law students – rather than later when as real lawyers they could really wreak some havoc.

If you’re interested, follow the link above and/or email Ms. Lauren Calhoun at:

Hope to see you there.


Crablaw introduces 'Carnival of Maryland'

Friend and fellow MBA-blogger, Crablaw is putting together a new blog carnival:

Carnival of Maryland

That link provides an easy way to submit the best of your Maryland-oriented postings for yet another opportunity to be read. As Crablaw describes here - Carnival of Maryland #1 - this is to be about Maryland – our politics, our culture, our blogs….

Crablaw is very sincere when he invites entries that cut across the ideological spectrum. The Crab is often very liberal in his thinking…which means he is often very wrong. It therefore especially behooves those of us who are usually right to support him in this endeavor.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Situational Ethics

Today is Maryland Death Penalty Day in the Washington Post as they thoughtfully highlight the religious backdrop of opposition to the Death Penalty and how it plays with legislators. Apparently, this is an instance where it’s OK to vote your religious teachings because the killing of unborn children is not on the table:

“But as a devout Catholic, [Sen. Alex Mooney ] is also guided by his religious beliefs.

“"I am conflicted," said Mooney, a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee, which is scheduled to hear testimony on the bill today. "I try to look at it from a moral and philosophical point of view. Is it right to use the death penalty when there is another option, life in jail?” Death Penalty Debate Has Legislators Looking Inward

Elsewhere, our Governor weighs in on this issue. I kind of hope that non-Maryland-based readers of the Washington Post skip over his thoughts on this issue because..well, read for yourself:

“But what about the deterrent value of the death penalty? Does the use of the death penalty -- while rarely, if ever, "just" -- save more innocent lives than it takes? The evidence indicates that it does not.

…And while the murder rate has gone down across the board since 1990, it declined by 56 percent in states without the death penalty but only 38 percent in states that have it. It would appear that the death penalty is not a deterrent, but possibly an accelerant, to murder.”
Martin O'Malley - Why I Oppose the Death Penalty -

That’s almost too mind-boggling to take in at one sitting. Is that really my Governor’s thinking?

Arrested Suspect: “Well I originally had no intention of killing the guy but then I remembered that this was a Death Penalty state and figured ‘ah, what the hell, why not?’ and wasted him.”

I’m ambivalent about the Death Penalty. Like, I suspect, most people, there are instances of such absolute evil (like the John Thanos case the Governor mentions) that a resulting application of the Death Penalty doesn’t seem worth any anxiety. But the State killing anyone is still reason for pause so LEGISLATIVELY eliminating the Death Penalty won’t get much out of me.

What does irk me though is the selective application of statistics such as was done by our Governor so INARTICULATELY (it’s OK – he’s white). For many, deterrence is not even a prime reason for having the Penalty. Instead, the Death Penalty just seems an appropriate punishment for certain crimes against society. The Governor obviously disagrees and apparently he does so on moral grounds:

“And absent a deterrent value, the damage done to the concept of human dignity by our conscious communal use of the death penalty is greater than the benefit of even a justly drawn retribution.”

All fair enough but this is the language that many are using in voicing their opposition to abortion; that it damages our concept of human dignity. You don’t have to agree with them but it’d be nice if the moral underpinnings of such arguments got a small fraction of the respect such arguments get when made on behalf of convicted killers. In fact, it’d be nice if ethical concerns that run counter to liberal group think would always be at least treated with respect.
Because what I perceive here is the equating of the “liberal” position as synonymous with the “ethical” position. An ethical position that runs counter to liberal group think becomes, instead, the “conservative” position:

More from the Post on Sen. Mooney:

“Usually a reliable conservative vote -- he opposed expansion of the state's hate crimes definition to protect gays and lesbians two years ago and the stem cell research bill last year …”

He opposed the hate crime bill because he didn’t think some groups deserved more protection than others. Had instead the legislation targeted actions against Catholics, he still would have opposed it. (For the record, I instinctively oppose so-called hate crime legislation; believing that if an action is already a crime, that’s probably enough to get a meaningful conviction.) Remarkably, he is now proposing that the Homeless be similarly “protected” by such legislation but some on the left are opposed because they think he is just trying to water down the provisions focused on sexual orientation.

As to stem cell research, his opposition is to EMBRYONIC stem cell research which he considers human in nature. Why not also describe that as part of his “inward” search?

…and can someone explain to me why providing additional criminal sanctions will “protect gays and lesbians” but the Death Penalty can be “possibly an accelerant, to murder.”?

Side Note: the Governor also writes: “Human dignity is the concept that leads brave individuals to sacrifice their lives for the lives of strangers.”

Methinks he’s referring to himself and his courageous stand from just about a year ago:

We want to turn over the Port of Baltimore, the home of the 'Star Spangled Banner,' to the United Arab Emirates? Not so long as I'm mayor and not so long as I have breath in my body” Martin "Nathan Hale" O'Malley

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Great Moments in Diversity

Walls Against Diversity Must Fall, Officials Say

“Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Rep. Albert R. Wynn marked Presidents' Day yesterday at the state's oldest historically black university [Bowie State] with a call to expand diversity in higher education.”

I especially like Congressman Wynn’s recommendation towards this:

“Wynn (D-Md.) said it is important to "preserve and expand" the roles of the nation's historically black campuses in higher education.”

Expand the roles? Unless he means increasing non-black enrollment, I’m hard pressed to see how preserving and expanding HBCs somehow also ‘expands diversity’. He gives a hint though that (surprise!) Federal dollars may be part of his thought process:

“Wynn called for the federal government to increase research funding for such schools, saying they receive 2 percent of research money.”

Not sure how many of the HBCs are research universities but since I suspect that much of federal research money is already wasted, I really have no problem with re-allocating such waste – especially. if it comes at the expense of a Harvard, Yale and/or Stanford.

The Governor also spoke, tempting controversy with such platitudes as:

“… diversity is "our greatest strength as a people."

Strong words indeed but he wasn’t through yet. Yesterday, Soccer Dad discussed the Governor’s call for StateStat - to be modeled after his Baltimore CitiStat. And give our Governor credit; at that same Diversity forum, he nails exactly why we need this program statewide:

“At Board of Public Works meetings, he has routinely quizzed state officials about minority participation on the contracts he is asked to approve, and yesterday he got the biggest applause of his speech at Bowie State by promising to make minority contracting the first thing bureaucrats are measured on through his new StateStat performance management process.” O'Malley reaches out to blacks

Yep – I think citizens statewide will all agree that when it comes to state contracts, the skin color, gender and/or ethnicity of the contractor is of paramount importance. We’re a forgiving lot so if a contract comes in 6 months late, 25% over budget and of questionable quality – well, we can probably forgive the bureaucrat who arranged for the contract…unless, of course, he compounded the error by having contracted with a straight, white male.

Here in Maryland, there isn’t a single prominent politician that won’t kneel in homage before the god of “Diversity”…but they become positively agnostic when it comes to their own careers: witness Martin O’Malley’s run for Mayor, Doug Gansler’s run for AG and Ben Cardin’s run for US Senate. In other words, any costs associated with diversity-mandates will not be borne by the enlightened deep-thinkers calling for such mandates.

...which is why I like to ridicule this whole "diversity" scam so many have bought into. Diversity is just code for "liberal Democrat" - the call for it just plays into the stereotype of Blacks (and Women) as a reliable Democratic base. The people buying into this rhetoric have now purchased a state owned by Democrats for decades now – accordingly; Maryland, like Louisiana, should be a veritable Disneyworld for the downtrodden and oppressed statewide.

Somehow I’m guessing that’s not how they now view it.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Too cold to do anything but read about Global Warming

Remember this goodie from January 2004?

“Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech on the theory of global warming yesterday, the coldest day in New York City in decades….

“The speech…came when the mercury was expected to dip to minus 1 in New York City, shattering a record low temperature that has stood for 47 years, and notching just a few degrees higher than the coldest day ever recorded there.”
Gore accuses White House of ignoring global warming

Well, as that shows, Al Gore has the necessary timing to be a great comedian and apparently following in his footsteps is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who on February 2nd released a SUMMARY of a to-be-released-in-the-FUTURE report basically concluding that ‘We Suck!’: Humans Faulted for Global Warming

Of course, as we all are aware, a brutal cold has descended on us almost from the moment that summary was released. Here in Baltimore, we are well on our way to one of the coldest Februarys on record.

February 2007 data to date - Baltimore

But, despite the cold, Global Warming remains all the rage. And even though I’m on guard for it, I still found myself piqued by this catchy headline: Swedish Town Uproots to Save Itself From Disaster

Now I initially thought that somehow whatever was going on in Sweden was to be turned around and blamed on us via global warming. But no; it turns out corporate and local officials were being proactive to a potential dangerous situation arising from some mining activities. There was no rancor exhibited and everyone seemed to be doing the right thing.

So what was the Post’s angle?

Toward the end we learned:

“At the same time, Kiruna officials are hoping their move can become a model for communities that will be affected by climate change in the coming decades. The predicted sea level rises will eventually force many cities in the developing world to move tens of thousands of people to higher ground, and Kiruna is organizing a conference in 2008 that will examine how best to do this.

"Why not have this relocation as a good example?" asked Swedell, who has invited former vice president Al Gore to attend but has not heard back. "We are moving because of the cracks; they are moving because of the water coming in."

Solidarity, people!!

Moving from the A Section to the Business pages, Post writer Libby Copeland reports on some clever marketing (and I’m not being sarcastic, the ads do look clever):

Diesel, the fashion brand, now offers a fresh take on the specter of a globally warmed planet:

“More beaches!”
High-Water Marketing

Ms. Copeland lets us know she gets it…while dropping clues that maybe she doesn’t:

“Which brings us to global warming, an issue that has lately been everywhere, with Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," and the recent dire report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Ben & Jerry's ice cream has been pushing a campaign to "Lick Global Warming." (Blech! That sounds gross.)”

(Sigh) Read your own paper – the release was of a “dire” summary. For reasons none of us are really privy to, the actual report is still a few months away – by which time the slant of the summary should be the prevailing wisdom of what the report actually says.

But despite the probable over-hyping of the significance of Diesel’s marketing efforts (and honestly, I had never heard of Diesel before), I found myself liking the company::

"We are a fashion brand," [the company's creative director] Das says by phone from Italy. "We want to sell product. We don't do anything more or less."

Don’t minimize your contributions, Mr. Das – selling your product probably has more total utility to the world than what Al Gore is selling: namely Al Gore.


Happy Washington's Birthday

Celebrating our first President's birthday goes back to well before it became an official holiday. The current trend toward renaming today as 'Presidents Day' is abhorrent and should be decried at every if the likes of a James Buchanan or a Jimmy Carter are at all deserving to be honored alongside the Great George Washington. I'm not a big fan of honoring individuals with named holidays (when and with whom does it end?) but if anyone is deserving of such an honor...

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Parsing the meaning of 56 votes

Yesterday in the Senate:

“Senate Republicans for a second time blocked a symbolic attempt by Democrats to reject President Bush's troop increase yesterday…

With the 56…Democrats fell shy of the 60 votes required to kick off debate on a nonbinding resolution…”
Iraq Vote In Senate Blocked By GOP

May 2005, also in the Senate:

Senate Democrats refused to end debate on John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador yesterday, extending the contentious issue into next …

… senators voted 56 to 42 in favor of ending debate on Bolton's nomination. The vote fell four short of the 60 needed to halt a filibuster…” Democrats Extend Debate On Bolton

So to summarize this civics lesson provided by the Washington Post: When the Democrats do it, they are EXTENDING debate; when the Republicans do it, they are BLOCKING debate.

I think Republicans should offer a compromise whereby Senate rules are changed so that filibusters can be overcome by a simple majority in cases of both Nonbinding Resolutions and Federal Judicial appointments.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Utility Profits Can Save the Planet

The Washington Post’s Steve Mufson gives California a lot of fawning coverage as he heralds their energy efficiency:

Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent. In Energy Conservation, Calif. Sees Light

Noting that their warm weather helps keep energy use down, he praises their declining contribution to Global Warming…

“California has managed to cut its contributions to global warming, too. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita in California have fallen by 30 percent since 1975, while U.S. per capita carbon dioxide emissions have remained essentially level.”

…but I can’t help wondering: if they contributed more to Global Warming, wouldn’t that further decrease our overall need for energy and thus allow others the same natural advantages that California enjoys?

Moving on, I particularly enjoyed this howler:

Paragraph 4: “The state has been able to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, keep utility companies happy and maintain economic growth.”

Many Paragraphs later: “But much of the motivation remains economic. The state's disastrous experiment in electricity deregulation -- deregulating supplies while capping retail prices -- led to a supply crisis and rolling blackouts in 2001. Soon, prices rose; PG&E sought bankruptcy protection.”

But still, the whole supply-and-demand thing has apparently been a big part of California’s success:

“The reason for California's success is no secret: Electricity there is expensive, so people use less of it.”

…sounds like classic Adam Smith economics. Unfortunately, this lesson has absolutely NO relevance to us in Maryland because, as we learned over the past year, more expensive electricity here is an absolute evil. That was why we needed Martin O'Malley and the Democrats to take charge of the situation….


The Hairless Hand Indicator

Ladies and Gentlemen: for your edification...again: Ms. Wendy Doniger:

“Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism celebrate, on the one hand, the power of sex within marriage and are keen to harness its power for their worshippers, while, on the other hand, they warn you that hair will grow on the palms of your hand if you masturbate.” For Many Religions, Sex Both Blessing and Curse

Well, not all the world’s religions; she courageously ignores Islam and their perhaps enlightened attitudes.


The Other War at Home

I don’t normally read the Baltimore Sun (even occasional readers of the Sun can probably guess why) but this morning I inexplicably went there…and am predictably none the wiser for the experience.

In what can only be described as a blow to Goucher College’s efforts to raise their national profile in a positive way, “political scientist and France-Merrick professor of service learning” Robert Koulish writes that Conservatives [are] waging war on nonprofits:

“The Bush administration's proposed 2008 budget, which threatens elimination of 141 programs, is a reminder of another war - the one against nonprofits.”

(and no, I don’t know what a “professor of service learning” teaches either )

Apparently this has been going on for some time:

“The seeds for the war on nonprofits lay in the 1971 "Powell Memo" penned by corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell. The memo instructed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to confront nonprofit critics of the business community, personified by Ralph Nader and the American Civil Liberties Union. It urged forming right-wing think tanks and philanthropies, hiring intellectuals and confronting progressives.”

(Ed. Note: I never knew about this “Powell Memo”. I now admit to a new respect for the late Justice.)

Well, from my side of the aisle, the organizations he cites as examples of the victims of this "war” DESERVE enemy status. The ACLU, Greenpeace and even Ralph Nader are not misunderstood do-gooders; they are instead well-funded, agenda-driven voices for a liberal ideology. They are simply not acting in my public interest (although I continue to honor Ralph Nader's efforts in the 2000 election).

Ominously, Mr. Koulish reports that there is no shortage of dirty tricks this government will resort to:

“According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, audits of 501(c)3's engaged in social programming have risen sharply, with Greenpeace, …and the National Endowment for the Arts enduring such politically inspired harassment.”

Have to wonder if the good professor and/or the Chronicle of Philanthropy knows what a (c)(3) is. Certainly I’m glad that a leftist finally admits what many of us have long suspected: that the NEA isn’t merely a funder of arts but is also actively engaged in attempts at social programming. As to the audits, however, they will probably continue as the NEA is NOT a 501(c)(3) but instead was “[e]stablished by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government” National Endowment for the Arts….oh and Greenpeace is a 501( c)(4).

Typical of thinking from the other side of the aisle, the Professor concludes:

“Congress must be urged to reverse the damage to the nonprofit sector and establish a new progressive agenda that supports local associational life and a government committed to the things the private sector cannot do.”

Yep – turn to the government to accomplish what you can’t on the “battlefield” of ideas.
Nonprofits such as The Salvation Army aren’t in any conservative crosshairs that I’m aware of (and I would have gotten the memo) but I’ll gladly enlist in any army being raised to take on the likes of Greenpeace.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


There are imports...then there are imports

Congressman Sander Levin (D-Michigan) is pretty upset about the damages our imports are doing:

“But then Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the trade subcommittee, chided [U.S. trade representative, Susan C.] Schwab for focusing exclusively on U.S. exports: What about imports? What about the people losing factory jobs as cheap goods flow in from countries where workers, he said, are exploited?” Democrats, White House Clash on Trade

Yeah – what about imports. What about the most expensive imports we’re taking in right now: illegal immigrants (not ‘undocumented’ mind you; ‘illegal’). Can’t see where he gets too excited about them being exploited here in the U.S….or their exploitation of our resources.

Vote description: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” – Congressman Levin voted NO 109th Congress, 1st session, House vote 661

H.R.1684 - Student Adjustment Act of 2003: Congressman Levin was a co-sponsor:

”Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the provision prohibiting an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on State residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such State residence. “Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to permanent resident status, certain (inadmissible or deportable) alien middle or secondary students with qualifying years of U.S. residency. Makes such aliens eligible for Federal and State higher education assistance during the pendency of their application for cancellation of removal. “ H.R. 1684 - Student adjustment act of 2003

I suspect that much of the problem that Congressman Levin has with trade is actually with the import companies building cars outside of Michigan - like in Kentucky and Ohio. But never mind - if he truly wants to help the un-employed among his constituents, he should work to stop the unfair competetition from workers who aren't supposed to be here...that is, if his boss, Madame Speaker, will let him.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


"Look, Up in the's Pelosi's Plane!"

This story kind of had me laughing (but not ‘snickering’) because of the obvious discomfort it causes the Democratic leadership:

“Republicans on Wednesday assailed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's request for access to an Air Force transport plane as an extravagance, though former Speaker Dennis Hastert flew in a military jet as well.

“Republicans are taking issue with the size of the plane Pelosi has requested. Pelosi had asked for access to a C-32 plane, a military version of the Boeing 757-200.”
GOP Bristles at Pelosi Plane Request

(Side note: Isn’t this a great piece of reporting by AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn – he opens with a paragraph that reads as if the Republicans are hypocritically objecting to the new Speaker having access to an Air Force plane and immediately follows with a paragraph explaining that the objection isn’t to the plane but rather to the size of the plane…making that first paragraph completely gratuitous.)

Initially, I chalked all of this up to a bit of tone-deafness on the part of the Majority leadership. I was even ready to lambaste her for the “carbon footprint” impacts of such transportation. And then it hit me – there is a genius behind this ostensibly negative publicity.

Now only in San Francisco (or Takoma Park) would the likes of Nancy Pelosi be considered anywhere near “mainstream’. Although things have gone relatively smoothly for her so far, does anyone doubt she will eventually show her true political colors and possibly ruin it for the Democrats’ hopes to capture the White house in 2008. I think behind closed doors, even she would acknowledge that.

With that as the backdrop, this whole plane matter can now be seen as providing the perfect exit strategy. My theory: look for the Democrats to announce that as important as her job as Speaker of the House is, Congresswoman Pelosi still considers her constituents at home her first priority. Accordingly, she will step aside to allow for a new Speaker whose security needs will not simultaneously ravage the environment. Voila: Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer. Whereas Nancy Pelosi would just be beginning her trip when she arrived at Andrews AFB – Congressman Hoyer would already be home; that’s his district.

In one fell swoop then, the Democrats get a more moderate & less-screeching face of the Party and huge kudos for doing right by the planet; all the while eliminating a significant GOP rallying and talking point. How is that not brilliant?


When the term "Sweetie" is meant literally

Random question: what's the first thing you think of now if your son comes home from school and says he got detention because he and another guy were “snickering” in the back of the class?

Saturday, February 03, 2007


From my niece Stephanie the Bears Fan

The Bears have been in my life for...ever. They are the best team in the NFC. They are going to win Superbowl XLI!!! 'Da Bears!

Friday, February 02, 2007


Giving the People What They Want

Ms. Dray has been good enough to respond to my earlier posting below: Blame and Responsibility in Maryland's Energy Debacle Jousting for Justice

She makes a valid point about differentiating between assigning blame and assigning responsibility. Fair enough – I’m not sure the Dems were that eager to make that distinction during the election but there is a difference and I’ll accept that. She also states:

“[T]he GOP loves deregulation and the free market so much, that if they had been in power, they would have deregulated the industry too. That the GOP certainly has not and is not making a compelling case for regulation, and would, therefore, be unable or unwilling to do anything about it at the state level.” (correction: to be fair, she does make clear that these are her impressions of what voters felt last election)

Well, I am an unabashed free marketer and I certainly hope the GOPers would have also deregulated the industry. Deregulation made and continues to make sense because I believe generally that competition has provided, is providing and will provide for our greater good.

But you have to allow for real competition for it to work – not this poseur competitive scheme concocted back in 1999 that would have made any former Soviet planner proud.

Ms. Dray also documents her understanding of what the people wanted vis-à-vis the BGE matter. Apparently, they were not happy with the Public Service Commission which Ms. Dray took to be a “Throw de bums out” sentiment.

Well, the Chairman just resigned and with another vacancy already in place, Governor O’Malley just has to wait on the expiration of Commissioner Williams’ term to have his own majority-appointed commission.

(Fun fact: The Commissioner with the closest ties to the industry would probably be Governor Glendening appointee, Harold Williams who spent 20 years in the employ of BGE.)

Not often harped on amidst the posturings and sound-bites is the pesky fact that EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of that commission is and was confirmed by the Maryland State Senate – usually unanimously. Removal of a commissioner can only be by the Governor for incompetence or misconduct. (The Court of Appeals had to “gently” remind the legislature of that last year.) Ask Bob Ehrlich how easy it is to fire someone from the employ of Maryland – he was investigated for firing a few people who supposedly served at his pleasure. You’d think the bar would be a bit higher to firing those who needed (and received) Senate confirmation.

Overall though I don’t think the BGE matter was that big a deal in the election. Certainly the PEPCO customers I talked weren’t particularly outraged at the prospect of BGE customers paying market rates. If this is what the people want though; fine. But bad policy isn’t leadership, it’s at best a campaign tactic. New commissioners and new below-market rate structures may garner approving stories in the Baltimore Sun but they don’t stoke the marketplace for producers. And somewhere along the line, you’re going to need them.


Didn't there used to be a respected journalist named David Ignatius?

Thanks to Soccer Dad for responding to what may very well be David Ignatius’s worst ever column in today’s Washington Post: A Failed Cover-Up. I read the piece late last night and it was only the time constraint that allowed me to resist the urge to mock Mr. Ignatius on a line by line basis. Apparently the word that Joe Wilson is a discredited partisan hack (or that the White House WASN'T the source of the Plame leak) hasn’t quite made the rounds among all the intelligentsia in Washington. SD adds some needed context and I would like throw in one other comment.

Mr. Ignatius writes:

“The CIA briefer responded the next day with a comment that should have aroused skepticism on whether Iraq needed to buy any more uranium: Iraq already had 550 tons of "yellowcake" ore -- 200 tons of it from Niger.”

Helpfully, he provides a link to that memo response. Sure enough, it acknowledges that Saddam had the 550 tons. The CIA’s source for that info is the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The IAEA confirmed the existence of the 550 tons as well as that they were in sealed containers subject to IAEA inspection. In fact, the IAEA verified those containers were still sealed as of just the month before (May 2003).

So why does Mr. Ignatius think this should have aroused skepticism as to Iraq’s desire for more? If anything, I think this buttresses the fear that Iraq was actively seeking more. If Iraq wanted to jump start its nuclear program again, it would certainly make sense for it to try and obtain yellowcake that the IAEA and professional skeptics like David Ignatius WOULDN’T KNOW it had. Which is what the President said: “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”…‘sought’, not ‘obtained’. Significantly, the British have been unwavering in their backing of those famous 16 words.

This has all been hashed and re-hashed for years now and yet, remarkably, Joe Wilson continues to be treated as a knowledgeable observer with something worth hearing. With this column, David Ignatius sinks to the depths of his clichéd, predicatable and INarticulate fellow pundits: Harold Meyerson and Eugene Robinson.

Maybe you really do have to hit rock-bottom...

Thursday, February 01, 2007


With Ehrlich gone, so does blaming the sitting Governor

Over at fellow MBAer Stephanie Dray’s spot, Jousting for Justice, she has a post up about a recent meeting with some Democratic State legislators: Dana Stein and my good friend Jon Cardin. The topic was the looming rate hike by BGE and…let’s just say she’s not too happy with them right now:

I'm deeply dissatisfied with the Democratic Party in Maryland if Dana Stein's reaction to this problem is a common one in the party.


How is it going to look to voters that Maryland Democrats throw up their hands and look helpless now that they have control of the entire state, after we hung the last rate hike around the GOP's neck like an anchor?”
Maryland Dems Will Let BGE Steal Your Lunch Money

Good point, Stephanie, esp. as you mention hanging it “around the GOP's neck like an anchor” in the last election. But it’s the part that follows that I don’t understand:

“And I'm sorry, but there's a limit to what O'Malley can do here. It wasn't a governor that deregulated energy in Maryland. It was a legislature. This is their mess. “

First off: I think a governor was very much involved. His name is Parris Glendening and he signed off on that legislation.

Second: If it truly is a legislature mess, are you then admitting to a bit of electoral dishonesty seeing as how the only Republican of note in this matter would have been our former governor. In other words: If it isn’t Governor O’Malley’s mess, how could it have been Governor Ehrlich’s?

For the record, I don’t blame the current legislature or Governor O’Malley for any potential rate hikes we may see. The deregulation scheme, as approved by the Democratic-everything back in 1999 was laughable. It capped our energy prices at an artificially low level for 7 years. Predictably, with BGE unable to make a respectable profit on its sales, no one else rushed in to compete for a piece of that same unacceptable profit.

Basic Adam Smith Economics: Energy demand is up greater than any corresponding supply and accordingly it is more expensive. If the critics of BGE believe they can do a better job and provide the same level of service at a lower price (because, of course, there wouldn’t be any greed factored in) well…we’re deregulated - have at it. Until then, I’m going to trust the business judgment of the people who have actually put their time, effort and money into providing me energy (you know, like the folks at BGE). And fervently hope that all these preening elected energy populists don’t muck it up any more than they and their predecessors already have.

UPDATE: Also see above: Maryland Conservatarian: Giving the People What They Want

UPDATE II: Over at Kevin Dayhoff's site, the ever astute host there is correcting me for my comments on Paris Glendening’s actions in enacting the instant deregulation:

“First off, former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening did not support electric deregulation. He signed into law legislation that was veto-proof. He fought the legislation aggressively and only agreed to not veto it anyway when he was given the concession of the rate caps – which is perhaps the fatal fly in the ointment.” Kevin Dayhoff -The Electrocution of Ken Schisler

Good point Kevin, but he did sign the bill. Governor Ehrlich had no problem vetoing bills he considered wrong – no matter how popular they polled. On a more general note, I hope my overall tone makes clear that I consider the cap to be the “fatal fly in the ointment” for this deregulatory scheme. Governor Glendening’s only contribution then acted to totally screw it up. I should have made clearer what exactly his role was in this mess but he doesn’t get a free pass from me.

Kevin’s entire post on this issue provides a wealth of information and historical perspective. The Electrocution of Ken Schisler


Calling All Populists

Can someone please provide me an intellectual argument as to why it is alright for Google to profit to the tune of nearly 30% of revenues but it is an “obscene” profit for Exxon Mobil to make not even 10.5% of revenues?

Reading the initial press reports, I don’t discern a scintilla of angst that maybe those guys in California are making way too much money and, more dangerously, contributing to the ever-widening and supposedly bad for the economy gap between the rich and the rest of us. Sure, Exxon makes a lot of money but it also streams a lot of it back to its shareholders…you know; retirees, pension funds, middle class families investing for the future….

But you won’t read anything about that in the Washington Post, instead it reports on something the Washington Post has been an enthusiastic part of:

“The company has been under the spotlight for a year now, since it reported record quarterly earnings at the end of 2005. Supply disruptions from Hurricane Katrina pushed fuel prices higher, and the image of the world's largest publicly traded oil company profiting from that event drew fire from public interest groups and some members of Congress.” High Oil and Gas Prices Generate Exxon's Record Year

(Ed. Note: Public interest groups? Try “Special Interest Groups” – anybody that would at all act in any way to discourage a legitimate company (i.e. just about anything or anybody BUT Hugo Chavez) from supplying us with oil products is most assuredly NOT acting in this member of the public’s interest.)

Prior related rants: More oil company shenanigans; Where are the Demagogues??, Great News in Energy;


The NY Times continues to burnish its credentials

On January 19, 2001 – the last day of the Clinton administration - the Democratic Party’s Paper of Record, the NY Times, closed at $41.81. Yesterday, it closed at $23.09. Then today (heh, heh):

N.Y. Times Co. Profit Down on Falling Value of Boston Globe

“The New York Times Co. lost more than $600 million in the last quarter of 2006, largely because of the diminished value of the Boston Globe, which it owns.”

And how about this:

“In addition, the company plans to save up to $75 million in 2007 through cutbacks and outsourcing.”


“For the year, the company reported a $543.4 million loss on $3.29 billion in revenue, compared with $253.5 million in profit on $3.23 billion in revenue a year earlier.”

Without the write-down of the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram-Gazette, the Times would have slightly bettered 2005’s performance. But that write-down represents almost 2/3rds of the price paid by the Times for those two papers in the not-too-distant past of the year 2000…which means whoever is making these decisions over there is in the wrong line of work.

Yet, despite the nearly halving of shareholder value over the last six years, making bone-headed investments like they did with the Boston Globe and now imposing CUTBACKS and OUTSOURCING on what can only be described, I guess, as its exploited workforce – despite all this, is there any doubt the NY Times will continue to regale with their words of wisdom as they tell the rest of us, in particular George Bush, how to run our lives and do our jobs?

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