Friday, August 31, 2012

The Time has Come to Shoot the Elephant?

from the New American
On August 28 the Republican National Committee (RNC) allowed representatives of the Mitt Romney campaign to seize control of the Republican Party. As The New American has reported, Ron Paul delegates from Maine were improperly denied credentials, robbing Paul of a majority of that state’s delegation. One disgusted Maine delegate described this decision as a “huge slap in the face.”

That slap hit more than just Maine. Maine’s Ron Paul delegates were roughly shoved out of the Republican Party’s quadrennial convention, and as a result of events surrounding the proposal and adoption of new rules to govern the presidential nomination process, every potential Republican presidential candidate with a message that doesn’t parrot the party line has been effectively ostracized. Forever.

The story of how a very small cabal of monied Republican activists carried out their coup d’etat has been chronicled in every major news outlet August 28 and 29.

The New York Times reported, “Over loud boos Romney supporters pass new rules.”

The Washington Post wrote, “Amidst a contentious scene on the floor of the convention, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ruled that the committee rules had passed by a voice vote — despite loud protest from many in the arena.”

The Los Angeles Times reported “the RNC laid the groundwork to change its rules in a maneuver that would effectively make it harder for a Paul-type candidate in future elections.”

In order to make the nomination of Mitt Romney a fait accompli and to ensure that only those in his mold would ever carry the banner of the GOP, the RNC sacrificed adherence to its own rules on the altar of obedience to the Establishment.

In an exclusive conversation with The New American August 29, a longtime Republican activist recounted a tale that is at once incredible and unconscionable.

Richard Engle has served the Republican Party in Oklahoma diligently since 1988. His role in moving the Sooner State to the political right cannot be overstated. He has represented Oklahoma in the Republican National Committee and has sat on the RNC’s standing committee on rules.

Engle is intimately familiar with the proper Republican rules-making process — he has participated in it — and he recognizes how that process was hijacked by members of the Romney inner circle at the meeting of the Convention Rules Committee.

Before rules are considered by the Republican Convention Rules Committee, they percolate up from proposals made by the state delegates of the Standing Rules Committee. This group of dedicated Republican officials meets three times a year to discuss suggested changes and prepare a draft of new rules to be considered by the Convention Rules Committee that meets every four years.

Unlike the RNC’s Standing Rules Committee, the Republican National Convention Rules Committee (“Convention Rules Committee” for short) meets only once every four years and is composed of two delegates from each state (one man and one woman). These people are "good Republicans" and are unquestionably well-intentioned, but they often have little or no experience with the party’s rule-making procedures. This body is an ad hoc committee brought together for the sole purpose of receiving and reviewing the rule changes proposed by the standing committee.

As the Convention Rules Committee met August 28, the Romney campaign lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, showed up and in the words of Engle, “pressured for significant and dramatic” changes to the party’s rules governing the binding of delegates and the way rules are to be revised in the future.

According to the revised Rule 15 (to be renumbered as Rule 16 in the new rule book) as proposed by Ginsberg, every state must amend its nominating process to ensure that their delegations are bound to vote in accordance with the winner of the popular vote as cast at state caucuses or primaries.

Ginsberg’s version of Rule 12 empowers the RNC to bend its own rules to suit their needs at any time without submitting the changes to party members gathered at the quadrennial convention. This unprecedented revision places the control of the GOP in the hands of the Establishment candidate without suffering the inconvenience of listening to dissenting voices. As Engle reckons, in the future the nomination of an incumbent Republican president is guaranteed and upon leaving office, he will be able to name his chosen successor through manipulation of the party rules.

When it comes to all this “radical” rewriting, Engle admits that he doesn’t know whether Ginsberg acted on his own or on behalf of Governor Romney. He does know, however, that the sweeping revisions of Rules 12 and 15 (now 16) “changed the nature of the Republican Party and returned it to the smoke-filled rooms of the past.”

So drastic were the revisions that Engle compared the convention to the Soviet Politburo, a sham with no more legitimate power than to rubber stamp their leaders’ directives.

To their credit, Engle relates that upon hearing Ginsberg’s suggested rules changes the delegates on the Convention Rules Committee “of every stripe” reacted negatively. All of them realized that if the changes were adopted by the convention, the populist influence would be eliminated and all non-Establishment voices within the Republican Party would be silenced. Engle worries that the rules package proposed by Ginsberg would have the effect of putting “a certain type of party member in charge of the GOP.”

Evidence of the delegates’ displeasure is found in the attempted filing of a Minority Report. According to Rule 34 of the Republican Party rules in effect at the August 28 meeting:

No resolution or amendment pertaining to the report of the Committee on Resolutions or the Committee on Rules and Order of Business shall be reported out or made a part of any report of such committee or otherwise read or debated before the convention, unless the same shall have been submitted to the chairman, vice chairman, or secretary of such committee or to the secretary of the convention in writing not later than one hour after the time at which such committee votes on its report to the convention and shall have been accompanied by a petition evidencing the affirmative written support of a minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the membership of such committee.

The Minority Report opposing the Romney lawyer’s rule changes was signed, sealed, but was never delivered. Curiously, the delegate in possession of the Minority Report was riding a bus denied entry to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Virginia delegate Chris Stearns was on the bus blocked from stopping at the Convention. “They're keeping us all on a bus and not allowing us in the security perimeter,” Stearns posted on his Facebook page.

Without a timely filed Minority Report, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) proceeded to call for a vote on Ginsberg’s rewrite of the Republican rulebook.

Standing at the podium and reading from a teleprompter, Boehner instructed those in favor of the rules to say “aye” and those opposed to say “nay.”

According to Engle, who was on the floor at the time, “in my hearing the ‘nays’ had it.” He admits the vote might have been close and as such Boehner should have called for a roll call vote rather than a voice vote. In another example of unexplained deviation from applicable Republican Party protocol, Boehner ignored the dissenting delegates for "division," which is a roll call vote.

Whether it was the will of Mitt Romney or the independent work of one of his key counselors, Engle fears that the new rules governing the Republican Party’s method of selecting a presidential candidate nailed closed the coffin of the GOP. This week observers may be witnessing “the last Republican National Convention as we know it,” he added.

A small coterie of Establishment Republicans have wrested control of the GOP and formed the mold into which any Republican wanting to run for president from now on must fit.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hollywood Goes to NY to Raise Money for Gay "Rights" in Maryland

from the Baltimore Sun
Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon and former first daughter Barbara Bush are among an extremely long list of celebrities set to appear at a fundraiser for Maryland's same-sex marriage law.

The event will be atop the James Hotel in New York City in mid-September. Tickets start at $250.

The Free State is one of four where same-sex marriage is on the ballot this year. No state has ever upheld gay nuptials at the ballot box, however polling (funded by a gay rights group) shows Marylanders are open to the idea.

The state will have an unusually crowded ballot this year -- same-sex marriage is one of four controversial laws that voters will decide. Others include expanding gambling, allowing some illegal immigrants to have in-state tuition and the congressional map. And, because of that, the state is bracing for an onslaught of fundraising, national attention and -- of course -- television ads.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat eying the White House in 2016, is focusing his energy on same-sex marriage and the in-state tuition questions. (He's said he's "so sick" of the gambling issue.) He will appear at the fundraiser.

The invite also includes Edward Norton, Julianne Moore, John Waters, Josh Charles, Russell Simmons. Plus the roster includes: fashion designer Thom Browne, Bravo exec Andy Cohen, Gramercy Tavern founder Tom Colicchio, Good Wife star Julianna Margulies, actress Catherine Keener and swimsuit model Hilary Rhoda.

And, there are a host of important behind the scenes types, including former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman – who made calls to wavering Maryland delegates during the same-sex marriage debate in the General Assembly.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cecil Countians Sold Down Susquehana

from the Maryland Liberty PAC and the Harford County Dagger

Last night Cecil County Commissioners Michael Dunn, Diana Broomell, and Jim Mullin sold you out! Last night at the Cecil County Commissioners meeting a vote was taken regarding a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) ordinance. This ordinance creates a new government program designed to use public tax dollars to buy private property rights all in the name of “smart growth.”

This TDR ordinance is a bad move for Cecil County and a huge step backward in protecting your property rights. County Commissioners Michael Dunn, Diana Broomell, and Jim Mullin need to hear from you about their foolish vote in support of more government bureaucracy and more spending.

What they don’t understand is that the government shouldn’t control your property – - you should! The government should not be purchasing development rights with public money. Dunn, Broomell, and Mullin might try to tell you that this ordinance is somehow a free market solution to managing growth, but it’s not.

This ordinance puts government squarely in the way of rural property owners and their right to develop their land. This ordinance will likely decrease property values for many rural residents in the long run. This ordinance creates a government operated “bank” that purchased development rights will be bought and sold from using your tax dollars. Does that sound free market to you?

Your help is needed urgently in Cecil County. Right now we are working on plans to make sure that voters in Cecil County understand and are aware about this foolish vote and who voted for it, but we need your help. Beating Establishment politicians is not easy and it’s not cheap. Will you commit to donating to Maryland Liberty PAC today?

We need elected officials who honor the Constitution and who take private property rights seriously. It is no coincidence that Karl Marx identified the taking of private property rights as one of the most important planks in his Communist Manifesto. Send these counterfeit conservatives a message right now online by donating today to Maryland
Liberty PAC!

Maryland Liberty PAC is leading the fight to make sure voters never forget this terrible vote. If you would like to volunteer to help spread the word in Cecil County click here.

Winning for liberty in Maryland won’t be easy and it won’t always be fun – - but I know that if you and I join together for this cause they can’t stop us! Are you willing to put your precious time, talent, and treasure on the line to safeguard our freedoms from out-of-control government intervention?

Stand up now as generations of Americans before you have for our country and donate to Maryland Liberty PAC today to help us continue the fight in Cecil and expand operations around our state.

By building this movement locally in each state in the country we can establish a grassroots liberty network second to none.

For Liberty,

Patrick L. McGrady /Chairman/Maryland Liberty PAC

Friday, August 17, 2012

From Delegate Kathy Szeliga and the Harford County Dagger:
Special Session – A Gambling Session

Special Session – an activity devised to test the patience and long suffering of the members of the House of Delegates. This entire exercise has been an example of the disorganization and poor leadership in Annapolis.

The very important issue of expanding gambling should have been taken up during the regular 90 day session, either this past winter or next year. However, the Maryland General Assembly did finally vote in support of the gambling bill. The new casino in Prince George’s County will not come on line until 2017, Baltimore City in 2015 and Allegany County will not get table games before 2014. Clearly there was no emergency involved in this issue and absolutely no reason to rush this measure through in a couple of days.

Some highlights of the bill that passed:

- Opens up a 6th gambling location in Prince Georges County

- Opens all venues to full table gaming

- Currently, the casinos must close at 2 AM on weeknights and 4 AM on weekends. This measure rescinds the limited hours of the casinos and allows them to be open 24 hours a day – 365 days a year

- Tax breaks will be given to all six casino owners that other businesses do not get

I voted against this bill. I voted no because the process was wrong in rushing this huge change in policy through in a few short days. Citizens and interested parties did not have the proper amount of time to study the issue and let their legislators know of intended and unintended consequences. There was a work group that met in the spring to study this issue and they could not reach a consensus. (There were no voting Republicans in the workgroup – it was a handpicked group.) The work group did recommend that the legislature NOT be called into a special session. Yet, this issue was rammed through the General Assembly in a special session in the usual monopoly control fashion.

The promised financial windfall to the State from gambling will not materialize as promised. Looking back to the slots debate in 2005, analysts in Annapolis estimated that four slots venues would yield $1.047 Billion annually. This was so grossly overestimated, as the promise of slots and table games are overestimated today. In the end, the six fat cat casino owners will get triple the amount of money than the “children,” in the promised Education Trust Fund.

The bill passed with 71 votes, the exact number needed. The vote against this bill was bi-partisan. We agreed that there was no reason to rush this measure through the General Assembly in a special session, it needed a more thoughtful and thorough approach to the whole process.

Pit-bull bill dies in the Senate

I voted for Senate Bill 2, a measure that addressed the recent court decision that unfairly targets a single breed of dog, pit-bulls. SB 2 puts responsibility squarely in the hands of dog owners and eliminates any mention of a specific dog breed. My son owns a pitbull and she is a wonderful dog, not aggressive or mean. SB 2 passed unanimously out of the House of Delegates.

Unfortunately, the Senate refused to take up our amended bill and so it did not pass. Look for this issue to be revisited during the 2013 legislative session that begins on January 9, 2013.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming my way.
- Delegate Kathy Szeliga

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who's Going to Bail YOU Out When the Treasury is Empty?

Washington -The Treasury Department says in a new report the government expects to lose more than $25 billion on the $85 billion auto bailout. That's 15 percent higher than its previous forecast.

In a monthly report sent to Congress on Friday, the Obama administration boosted its forecast of expected losses by more than $3.3 billion to almost $25.1 billion, up from $21.7 billion in the last quarterly update.

The report may still underestimate the losses. The report covers predicted losses through May 31, when GM's stock price was $22.20 a share.

On Monday, GM stock fell $0.07, or 0.3 percent, to $20.47. At that price, the government would lose another $850 million on its GM bailout.

The government still holds 500 million shares of GM stock and needs to sell them for about $53 each to recover its entire $49.5 billion bailout. At the current price, the Treasury would lose more than $16 billion on its GM bailout.

The steep decline in GM's stock price has indefinitely delayed the Treasury's sale of its remaining 26 percent stake in GM. No sale will take place before the November election.

Treasury spokesman Matt Anderson said the costs were still far less than some predicted.

"The auto industry rescue helped save more than one million jobs throughout our nation's industrial heartland and is expected to cost far less than many had feared during the height of the crisis," Anderson said.

The Obama administration initially estimated it would lose $44 billion on the bailout but reduced the forecast to $30 billion in December 2009.

But the recent estimates are not as optimistic as last year.

The Treasury Department said in a May 2011 report that its estimate of auto bailout losses was $13.9 billion. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates a $14 billion loss. The CBO has written off $8 billion of the government's auto bailout as an unrecoverable loss.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decried the losses on the auto bailout and insisted that forcing GM and Chrysler Group LLC to go through bankruptcy first would have saved taxpayers money.

But President George W. Bush — who gave the automakers and their finance arms about $25 billion in his final weeks in office in bailout funds — said there wasn't time.

Taxpayers incurred a $1.3 billion loss on the $12.5 billion bailout of Chrysler.

The Treasury also has put on hold an initial public offering initially planned for last year in Ally Financial Inc. because of market weakness. The government holds a 74 percent majority stake in the Detroit auto finance company as part of its $17.2 billion bailout and has recovered $5.7 billion.

GM CEO Dan Akerson told employees at a town hall meeting Thursday that the company was working to take actions to boost the automaker's sagging price.

From The Detroit News:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Emergency "Tax Cuts for Casino Millionaires" Legislation Nears Passage

The following constitutes a "legislative EMERGENCY" in Maryland and required the Governor to convene a "special session" of the Maryland legislature...

from the Baltimore Sun
The Maryland Senate passed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gambling expansion bill on a 28-14 vote Friday, sending the legislation to a more closely divided House of Delegates for a decision when the the General Assembly’s special session continues into a second week Monday.

Approval came in the early evening after senators spent much of the afternoon debating and defeating amendments proposed by Republicans and a conservative Democrat opponent of the key provision allowing a casino in Prince George’s County.

Few of the votes were close, and most amendments failed by about a 3-1 margin as Senate PresidentThomas V. Mike Millerflexed his political muscle to pass the bill, which also permits table games at the Prince George’s site and the state’s five already-licensed sites. Five senators were absent.

Hearings on the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee continued into the evening. House members are expected to work on amendments over the weekend, and the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on the bill Monday. The full House convenes at 10 a.m. Monday for introduction of the Senate bill.

Senators also passed legislation creating a strict liability standard for dog owners whose pets bite people without provocation – eliminating a common law standard allowing a dog not previously known to be vicious one free bite. The bill overturns a Court of Appeals ruling that imposed strict liability standards only on pit bulls.
...We freely admit that not ONE cent of gambling tax revenue from casino gambling will likely go uncollected... but the tax rate paid by Casino operators will most certainly be substantially LOWERED as a direct result of this session. And all this time I believed that Democrats were SINCERELY opposed to more tax cuts for millionaires... and not scapegoating innocent puppies.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DC and the Crony Capitalists

from the Boston Herald

Just 16 percent of voters nationwide believe it was a good idea for the government to provide Solyndra with loan guarantees. The solar power company went bankrupt and stuck taxpayers with the tab for a half-billion dollars.

The Obama administration generally has responded to questions about the program in the way a venture capital firm would respond to questions about a portfolio loss. They note that similar government investments have turned out just fine and that it’s only fair to look at their portfolio as a whole.

It’s not a bad argument if you believe government should behave like a venture capitalist. But the American people soundly reject that notion. Only 27 percent believe it’s ever OK for the government to make investments in private companies.

One reason is that people tend to view government as a lousy investor. Some 71 percent believe that private sector companies and investors are better than government officials at determining the long-term benefits and potential of new technologies. Only 11 percent believe government officials have a better eye for future value.

If the government provides funding for a project that private investors refuse to back, 64 percent believe the government money will be wasted.

In addition to questions about competence, there are concerns about corruption and crony capitalism. Fully 66 percent of voters believe most government contracts are given to the company with the most political connections rather than the one that can provide the best service for the best price.

Americans agree that it’s important to develop alternative sources of energy, but precisely because they consider it important, they are even more skeptical about government funding.

By a nearly 2-1 margin, voters also believe the solar power industry will be stronger in the long run if it is developed by the private sector and private investors. Just 31 percent believe it would be stronger with the help of government subsidies and investments.

That’s the reason voters oppose government investments in Solyndra, direct subsidies for Chevy’s Volt electric car and all other forms of corporate welfare.

By a 3-1 margin, voters believe elected politicians routinely provide help to favored companies. Second, seven out of 10 Americans believe government and big business work together against the rest of us.

In other words, Americans believe crony capitalism is a reality regardless of which party is in the White House. This is the root cause of much of the frustration sweeping the nation today.

Voters don’t want to be selecting a venture capitalist in chief; they want to pick someone to run the government. And they want the government to stop picking winners and losers in the business world.

Scott Rasmussen is the founder and CEO of Rasmussen Reports.

Anti-Capitalism, Thy Name is Government

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What "Bipartisan" Agreement Looks Like....

from abc news
President Obama and Mitt Romney have found some new common ground -surprisingly - on an issue of gay rights.

Obama today joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation's largest and most well-known youth development groups.

"The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation," said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement to the Washington Blade, a LGBT newspaper

It's the first time Obama, who was named honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America in 2009, has publicly taken a position on the issue.

Romney first voiced support for gay scouts back in 1994 - a position that his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said remains his position today.

"I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation," Romney said in the video from 1994 recently re-surfaced by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. He added at the time that he supports "the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue."

Last month, the group affirmed its ban on openly gay scouts and leaders after a two-year review of the policy, prompting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to call on Obama to "reconsider" his honorary post.

White House press secretary Jay Carney today repeated the earlier White House statement that Obama "opposes discrimination in all forms" including the Boy Scouts policy. But he said the president would not step down from his honorary Boy Scouts position - suggesting that Obama, like Romney, choose to rhetorically oppose discrimination on one hand but still embrace an organization that practices it.

Every U.S. president since 1910 has held the honorary BSA post during his term in office, the group says on its website.
Apparently neither leader can distinguish the difference between the need for protecting the rights of children to enjoy their sexual innocence in a safe environment from the legal/criminal defense rights of predatory adults. NAMBLA sponsored Troop B-8 does NOT need a "national charter".

Monday, August 6, 2012

Maryland Gay Marriage Proponents Get a Boost from Outside Maryland

from the Maryland Daily Record
MINNEAPOLIS—The country's leading gay rights group is donating $1 million to campaigns in four states where gay marriage is on the ballot this fall.

The Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign is donating $250,000 apiece to allies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. It brings the group's total spending on the issue this year to nearly $5 million.

Voters in Maine are voting on whether to legalize gay marriage. In Minnesota, the vote is whether to ban gay marriage in the state constitution. In Maryland and Washington, voters will decide whether to uphold laws authorizing gay marriage passed earlier this year.

Polls have shown increasing support for gay marriage around the country, but so far backers have not been able to translate that into a ballot box win.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

From State Sen. Nancy Jacobs via the Harford County Dagger:
I am very opposed to holding this special session for expanded gambling in the state. Special sessions are supposed to be for emergencies and certainly expanding gambling is no emergency. It’s irresponsible to race this bill through so quickly when it can’t be properly vetted.

Let’s start with the fact Governor O’Malley said he would have a bill for us to review weeks ago…we still don’t have it and it will probably be given to us right before the session. This is not right. We should be able to thoughtfully consider the details.

Expanding to a sixth casino at this time could hurt the ones that are already built or on the drawing board. Voters approved five, and two of them aren’t even up yet and are struggling to get capital funding. While we have some data on how the first three are doing, it’s just too early. The expansion could result in harm to the already approved casinos if we change the game when the players who’ve made big private investments are already on the field.

It makes you wonder if any business would work with the State of Maryland in the future when you can’t trust the word of its elected officials. To me, retaining that integrity is very important.

This might look like a quick money fix to fill a budget hole if voters approve the National Harbor site in November… but what about the state tightening its belt instead? Isn’t that the more responsible course of action?

I am also very concerned about the House Speaker saying Maryland should make legalizing internet gambling part of the discussion in this special session. There is a big risk that young people could get around security to keep them out. There is a higher risk of addictive behavior when a virtual casino is in arms reach. I have voted against the gambling expansion that was put before the General Assembly during the regular session and will be carefully scrutinizing this new bill when we receive it.