Sunday, March 29, 2015

Proof that Demagoguery Has its' Rewards...

from the NY Post
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will be the choice of New York Democrats for president if Hillary Clinton is forced out of the race by her State Department email scandal, a prominent Democrat has told The Post.

The well-known New York Democrat also said that Clinton’s email scandal had “knocked her off her pedestal,’’ and compared her attempts to restrict access to her official email correspondence to those made by disgraced President Richard M. Nixon during the 1970s Watergate scandal.
O’Malley, an all-but-announced candidate who was on a campaign swing in Iowa over the weekend, “is the one who I think is going to emerge as the front-runner if Hillary is forced out,’’
said the Democrat, a strong Clinton backer whose views carry considerable weight with party members.

“O’Malley’s the one who is best organized. He’s the one who has a team in place. I really think he’s the front-runner,’’ the Democrat continued.

“O’Malley is a guy who has always done the right thing politically. He was a team player who made friends with everybody when he was governor. He would do things for people that I think he thought they’d remember him by, and they did.

“[Mass. Sen.] Elizabeth Warren is just too far to the left, sort of in the George McGovern category, and while [Vice President Joe] Biden’s own people may be taking him seriously, he’s never really been able to catch on,’’ said the Democrat, referring to other potential candidates should Clinton not run.

Clinton, meanwhile, “has been knocked off her pedestal’’ by revelations that she used a questionable private email system for official communications during her years as secretary of state, but “hasn’t yet been sufficiently damaged to be forced out of the race,’’ said the Democrat, who has had frequent contact with the former first lady and New York senator.

“What’s so bad about this is that she mixed her personal emails with her State Department emails and now it’s to be determined what was personal and what was not, which is a tough position.

“It’s a position President Nixon got in with his own tapes. He said they were his own tapes, that he recorded them. But, guess what — he recorded them in the White House, so they’re public.

“I don’t think what she did is fatal. She can still run if she wants, but it was an unnecessary, self-inflicted wound,’’ the Democrat said.
Since when is doing the "right thing politically" ever the right thing for "ALL the People?" O'Malley has never a seen a tough problem that he was willing to oppose his own political "base" to achieve. EVER!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Presidential Candidate Martin O'Malley's "African-American Problem"

From the Dagger
Martin O’Malley is running for President and with the latest Hillary Clinton stumble, many Democrats are finally giving him a first look, since – despite months of campaigning hard – he was still polling at zero. But along with the latest twitter hashtag #askaMarylanderaboutOMalley, I thought I would give you my thoughts on why Martin O’Malley can’t become the next President of the United States. This article is specifically about Martin O’Malley’s record with African Americans.

For today’s history lesson we are going to go back to 1999. Fresh-faced, white City Councilman Martin O’Malley was running for Mayor of Baltimore on a platform of reducing murders to below 175 per year. After winning a three way primary by splitting the African American vote, he instituted a zero-tolerance policy and also the vaunted CompStat Program (an accountability tracking system which soon became CitiStat and what Martin O’Malley was known for…despite it being taken directly from New York City and Mayor Rudy Giuliani). CompStat/CityStat pushed for statistics and one of the major ones that commanders were questioned on were arrests, so naturally arrests skyrocketed.

The Baltimore City Police force arrested over 100,000 per year, mainly black males, on “quality of life” crimes. 1 out of 6 citizens in Baltimore City were arrested, again, mainly African American men for such ridiculous charges as “sitting on a stoop and littering a candy wrapper.” Now this had another benefit for Mayor O’Malley. Because the State-run Central Booking couldn’t keep up with the non-stop arrests being conducted by the City Police, then Governor Bob Ehrlich was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, and ironically the City of Baltimore joined the suit against the State. Martin O’Malley’s own father-in-law, then Attorney General Joe Curran, even said that the City needed to step up and be a part of the solution and not the problem.

And what was the result of these mass arrests? A drop in crime? Maybe. Martin O’Malley likes to say that Baltimore led the nation in violent crime reduction, but the jury is still out on that because there were heavy accusations of the books being cooked. See, when Martin O’Malley became Mayor he ordered the Police Department to audit the crime statistics and reclassify crimes that were previously lesser crimes, to be made violent crimes so that 1999 was the most dangerous year in Baltimore history. So when you compare Baltimore’s numbers before O’Malley reclassified them, it actually puts the city in 6th place for crime reduction during O’Malley’s tenure. And that 175 homicide goal? The closest O’Malley ever got to it was 253 per year.

Now we’ll jump ahead to 2013. Baltimore’s two Mayors since O’Malley, both African American Women – convict Sheila Dixon and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, both turned their backs on the O’Malley policy of mass arrests. Baltimore had a crime wave during the summer and now Governor Martin O’Malley couldn’t help himself but to write an editorial in the Baltimore Sun with an “I told you so” style of saying that if they just continued his zero-tolerance policy, things wouldn’t be so bad. Mayor Rawlings-Blake rejected the idea of returning back to mass arrests in a rare public spat. “Returning to the days of mass arrests for any and every minor offense might be a good talking point but it has been proven to be a far less effective strategy for actually reducing crime,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake told the Baltimore Sun.

She should have capped it off by pointing out that in her worst year as Mayor, and after rejecting O’Malley’s policy of arresting every black male walking down the street, Baltimore recorded 235 murders in 2013, far less than Martin O’Malley ever did. And her best year saw Baltimore drop down to 197 murders in a year, far closer to the O’Malley goal than he saw, without a policy that scarred thousands of black residents and created fear and distrust with the police department.

Now we’ll jump ahead to August 9, 2014, the day that would make Martin O’Malley’s tough crime policies, once considered an asset for a Democrat and also one that he doubled down on in retrospect, now a liability: 18-year-old black male Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Despite the shooting being deemed justifiable, it galvanized and became a rallying cry for every black male that had been victimized by an overzealous police department trying to replicate the demand for mass arrests required by a statistics based accountability system searching for flawed metrics.

And before you go thinking that Martin O’Malley doesn’t need the black vote to win, he won Baltimore City’s Mayor without the overwhelming support of black voters and he’s obviously working hard to target Hispanics (or as he calls them “New Americans”), remember that Hillary Clinton won the Hispanic vote in 2008 by 2 to 1 and she’s not planning her own presidential library just yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Maryland Lawmakers Vote to Allow Falsification of Official Records

from the Baltimore Sun
Transgender people could apply to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect their identity under identical bills passed by each chamber of the General Assembly Tuesday.

The legislation would require the state to issue new birth certificates reflecting the name and gender of a transgender person if a medical practitioner certifies it is warranted. Those new birth certificates would not be allowed to be marked "amended."

Advocates for the change consider it a step forward in equality for the GLBT community.

It is not clear whether Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign the bill, which still must undergo procedural votes before being sent to him for his signature. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

On the Senate floor, Baltimore County Democrat Sen. Delores Kelley argued that granting new birth certificates to transgender people was a civil rights issue.

Republican Sen. Ed Reilly of Anne Arundel County disputed whether it was fair to do so.

"I think we are providing folks an extra level of consideration at the detriment of others," he said, notably those who are adopted, who are able to get amended birth certificates but not brand new ones identifying their biological parents.

" I just think this bill goes a little bit too far."

Both chambers approved the bill by veto-proof margins. In the House, it was approved 85-50. In the Senate, it was approved 31-16.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

State Raids State Employee Pension Fund Once Again...

The following letter was sent from Timothy Liegey to Governor Larry Hogan, U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as members of the Maryland General Assembly. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:

Dear Governor Hogan:

My name is Timothy Liegey and I am a school librarian with the Harford County Public School system. I am writing to you in regard to the Maryland State Pension System. As an employee who has contributed nearly 20 years into the state pension system, I have great concerns regarding the Maryland House of Delegate plan to reduce contributions to the state pension system.

The history of the pension system in Maryland has been extremely volatile to say the least. It started with former Governor Parris Glendening who intentionally underfunded the retirement system so he could spend more during his final years in office. During this period, the General Assembly adopted the Corridor Funding Method freezing state pension contributions at their levels unless the system fell below 90 percent of the funding it would need to meet its obligations. Furthermore, Nathan Chapman became a money manager for Maryland’s pension system under Gov. Glendening and in that role, was able to arrange public investment in his own companies, causing an estimated loss for the pension system of $6 million.

Next, former Governor Robert Ehrlich gave state teachers extra pension benefits (to gain political favor) which dragged the retirement programs deeper into unfunded pension obligations.

Finally former Governor Martin O’Malley pushed a series of pension reforms through the legislature that cut worker benefits and increased their current contributions. He pledged to reinvest some of the savings, $120 million in each of the first two years and then eventually as much as $300 million annually, back into the system, with the goal of restoring it to 80 percent funding by 2023 and to 100 percent funding about 15 years after that. Of course, that did not happen and eventually the state legislators “borrowed” $200 million out of the system.

This brings us to the present. I have just read that the House budget includes changing the state’s pension funding system, enabling the state to pay about $75 million less into it and slowing repayments to a local income tax reserve fund.

How long will these games with the Maryland State Pension System continue? This is not Monopoly money being manipulated here. It is the hard work, sweat, and earnings of teachers and state employees who have been paying into this system since the beginning of their careers with the promise that the money would be there for them when they retired. With this latest shell game being played in Annapolis, I am left to wonder if there will be a pension system when I and my colleagues retire in the decades ahead.

I suppose for me (and my fellow teachers) the most galling part about all of this is the fact that the legislators in Annapolis have left their separate pension system alone and have chosen to play all of these games with the people’s money. As a teacher, I have to work 30 years to be vested in a system that will guarantee me a maximum of 41% of my highest salary (assuming I choose a single annuity – 35% if I choose the double annuity). Meanwhile, the politicians in Annapolis only have to work 16 years to earn a maximum of 66% of their highest salary.

I have been a school librarian for nearly 20 years now. Under the legislative pension, I could have retired by now. Also, as an employee in the Harford County Public School system, my teacher contract has not been honored these past 6 years resulting in the loss of step increases promised to all teachers in the contracts we signed when hired on as teachers. The end result is that my future pension benefits have been reduced due to the loss of income in the present.

And if all that was not enough, during Gov. O’Malley’s administration, all teachers were forced to contribute an extra 2% into a pension fund that was underfunded by politicians, not teachers. In addition to the absurdity of superimposing this 2% “tax” on teachers, it is a fact that this extra money is not even going into the pension fund but instead to a general fund where the politicians in Annapolis can spend it any way they like. And on top of that, the legislators in Annapolis exempted themselves from the same increase! Really? I was under the impression that elected officials were supposed to serve the people not screw them.

Now I understand that both you and Comptroller Franchot are against this latest maneuver in the House budget to divert funds from the underfunded pension system. First, I would like to thank both of you for your stance. Second, I would like to implore you and the Comptroller to stand firm against both Speaker of the House Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller in their attempts to further devastate the pension fund. Their actions in Annapolis regarding this issue have shown that they are no friends to teachers and state employees.

You ran on a platform pledging to work on behalf of all citizens in Maryland. For the record, I am registered as an Independent and voted for you because I am sick and tired of partisan politics and felt you were the best candidate for the job. I do not believe the pension issue is a Democratic or Republican issue; nor is it a liberal or conservative issue. It is a people issue and there is an obligation on the part of all legislators in Annapolis to honor the wishes and promises made to those people who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of Maryland to do the peoples’ work and educate the children of all Marylanders.

Please, please, please, fight those who would renege on these promises and protect the pension system for those who have earned it and are entitled to it.


Timothy Liegey
Harford County Public Schools

Sunday, March 22, 2015

RNC Establishment Group Runs Ads AGAINST Republicans...WTF?

from The Hill
Conservatives are seething after an outside group aligned with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars targeting a trio of Republican lawmakers over threats to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.

Tea Party Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) equated the attack ads to GOP “cannibalism,” while his conservative colleague Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) called them a “stupid” tactic that would backfire.

American Action Network, a nonprofit whose board includes former Boehner chief of staff Barry Jackson, launched the $300,000 ad campaign earlier this month with TV spots depicting terrorists and accusing GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Tim Huelskamp (Kansas) and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) of putting “our security at risk.”

The campaign also included national ads on conservative talk radio, including shows hosted by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and on digital ads in the district of nine other House Republicans.

The non-election year ad buy was a shot across the bow to the newly formed House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of nearly 40 conservative rebels led by Jordan who refused to compromise on a DHS funding bill that didn’t include defunding of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Boehner has done his best to distance himself from the AAN ads. His spokesman Kevin Smith pointed out that members of Congress are prohibited by law from coordinating with outside political groups like AAN and added that the Speaker does not think these ads attacking fellow Republicans are “appropriate and “strongly believes in Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment.”

But that did little to mollify conservative hardliners who see the Speaker’s fingerprints all over the ad campaign.

Aside from Boehner’s ex-chief, the AAN board is loaded with GOP establishment allies, including former Republican National Committee chief of staff Mike Shields; Fred Malek, a former aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush; former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.).

“It looks like cannibalism by leadership to me. I mean, when you go after your own people, what else would you call that?” said King, one of the most vocal advocates for defunding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

“These are Republican resources. They're being used against Republicans? And then he wants unity?” the Iowa Republican asked incredulously of Boehner.

GOP leaders, with Democratic help, eventually passed a clean funding bill avoiding a shutdown.

But conservatives argued that they had not only weathered the attacks — they’ve emerged stronger, receiving hundreds of phone calls and thousands in donations from conservatives supporting their stand.

These ads “made heroes out of the guys they were attacking,” said Bridenstine spokeswoman Sheryl Kaufman.

At least one group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, has raised more than $90,000 for Huelskamp, Bridenstine and Jordan in response to the AAN campaign.

And Salmon, a perennial thorn in Boehner’s side, said the AAN campaign did little more than infuriate conservatives who were already fuming at the Speaker for caving.

“It’s kind of like taking someone who’s beating you in a boxing match and throwing something in their eyes just to piss them off. It didn’t accomplish anything except to make people angry,” the Arizona Republican told The Hill in an interview.

“It just seems stupid. Stupid politically. A gratuitous slap in the face with no real point.”

But other GOP sources said the howls from conservatives about intraparty warfare were highly hypocritical. The Club for Growth has financed numerous primary challenges against sitting GOP members. And SCF launched a campaign to try to oust Boehner from power in January.

AAN spokesman Dan Conston was unapologetic about the ads and wouldn’t rule out running more ads against fellow Republicans in upcoming fiscal fights to back “center-right policies.”

Other recent AAN ads haven’t been negative. After Congress passed the bill averting a DHS shutdown, the nonprofit spent $525,000 in ads thanking GOP lawmakers for voting for the $40 billion package. And the group recently launched a new campaign urging members to pass the fiscal 2016 GOP budget authored by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

“This was all about tactics. We are all conservatives who believe that the Obama administration’s executive order is unconstitutional and we were all looking for the best way to keep DHS open while fighting Obama in the courts,” Conston said.

American Action Network is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that doesn't have to publicly disclose its donors. But according to, some of its biggest donors include the American Petroleum Institute; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; and the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads GPS.

The DHS ads, however, only reinforced conservatives’ dim view and distrust of GOP leadership and the establishment.

Huelskamp even claimed that Boehner avoided eye contact when they passed on the House floor the day the ads were announced.

“He just walked by, he didn't have a comment. 'Cause I was waiting to ask him about it,” Huelskamp said. “In Kansas, we wouldn't do that. In my family, if you've got a problem with someone, you have the wherewithal to take it up with them.”

GOP leadership’s retaliation may not just extend to the ads. King said he received a notice from the Speaker’s office that his approval for a trip to Egypt this month to meet with the country’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had been revoked — just hours before his flight was set to depart. No other lawmaker on the congressional delegation received the same cancellation notice.

He ended up going on the trip anyway using his own money and “literally reached into my kids’ inheritance.”

By now, King, who’s led the charge against many leadership initiatives, doesn’t see much use in trying to confront Boehner about it in person.

“At some point, what is the point? Private conversations don't count for much sometimes when you've got that kind of thing going on. You might as well just have a conversation through the press,” King told The Hill.

The Speaker’s office declined to comment. But top Republican aides said King shouldn’t expect any more federally funded travel.

“Members earn the right to go on taxpayer-funded travel. Those rewards aren’t going to be handed out to members who oppose the broader GOP team on a regular basis, especially those who’ve previously asked the leaders to bail them out to keep their seat,” a House GOP leadership aide said, referring to campaign committee help King got in his tough 2012 reelection.

Other conservatives haven’t been targeted, but they’re still sounding off about what they see as unfair attacks on members who are voting their conscience.

“Why are we up here? Are we up here to be puppets for special interests and the Speaker of the House?” a furious Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said just outside the Speaker’s lobby. “We’re not puppets!”

O'Malley in Iowa Throws Punch at Hillary Clinton, and Hits Obama Squarely on the Jaw!

from the Baltimore Sun
Martin O'Malley, who is stumping through Iowa as he considers a bid for the White House, told Democrats on Friday night that Congress should reinstate tough Wall Street regulations that were repealed during the Clinton administration.

"We must not allow another Wall Street meltdown to bring down the hard working families of our county," the former Maryland governor said in an address to Scott County Democrats. "We have a responsibility to put that sort of repeat performance beyond the realm of the possible, by reinstating Glass-Steagall and holding people accountable when they break the law," he said.

The line in the speech followed an op-ed written by O'Malley that was published by the Des Moines Register on Friday in which he called for reinstating the 1933 regulations that put up a wall between commercial and investment banking.

The former Maryland governor, who is attempting to stake out a position to the left of presumed 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton, does not mention the political subtext: The regulations were repealed through legislation signed by President Bill Clinton.

O'Malley, who was elected Baltimore's mayor 10 days before Clinton repealed the provisions, is hoping to court liberal voters with a Wall Street message that, so far, has been carried mostly by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Despite support from progressive groups, Warren has repeatedly waved off the idea of a presidential run.
This just begs the question, "Where has Obama been on this issue these past six years?"

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Prosecutorial Discretion? Or Executive Malfeasance?

from The Washington Free Beacon
Justice Department lawyers argued Thursday the federal government has no responsibility produce Hillary Clinton’s private emails in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Politico reported:

“FOIA creates no obligation for an agency to search for and produce records that it does not possess and control,” Justice lawyer Matthew Collette and Catherine Dorsey wrote in the government’s first written court submission on the Hillary Clinton email issue. The filing (posted here) came in response to a motion by conservative gadfly Larry Klayman asking for contempt proceedings against Clinton and one of her former top aides.

The filing Justice submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit says that the State Department is now processing for release under FOIA 55,000 pages of work-related emails Clinton sent to the agency in December. The roughly 30,000 messages had been sent or received on a private email account during her tenure as secretary […] Klayman proposed issuing a subpoena to take control of the former secretary’s email server, but the Justice lawyers said such a move was unwarranted.

“Such action is unnecessary and inappropriate under FOIA,” Collette and Dorsey wrote. “Plaintiff provides no basis, beyond sheer speculation, to believe that former Secretary Clinton withheld any work-related emails from those provided to the Department of State.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Edwards Announces for the Senate - and Covers Up Her Radically Progressive Roots

from the Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON -- A powerful political group that helped elect Barbara A. Mikulski to the Senate nearly 30 years ago will endorse Rep. Donna F. Edwards to be her successor -- throwing considerable fundraising heft behind her campaign.

Emily's List, the Washington-based group that helps to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, plans to announce its endorsement of the Prince George's County lawmaker on Thursday.

"She is poised to make history as the second African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate -- the first in over two decades," Emily's List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.

Mikulski -- the first candidate Emily's List endorsed -- announced this month she will retire in 2017, creating a scramble among state Democrats who are considering a run for the rare open seat.

Edwards and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County have announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination next April. More than a dozen others have said they are thinking about it.

"This election is about values, and I stand united with Emily's List in the fight for policies to protect a woman's right to choose from Tea Party attacks, promote equal pay for equal work, and ensure access to quality, affordable childcare for all working families," Edwards said in a statement.

The Emily's List endorsement comes despite early speculation that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, another African American woman who would likely have broad appeal, might enter the race. But the mayor has been noticeably mum, and some will read the Emily's List decision as the latest sign she is not running.

A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake said she will make a decision based on conversations with her family and after evaluating how effective she can be as mayor while running for another office.

"The mayor has consistently said her decision to run for Senate will not be based on who else is running and what endorsements they might have," spokesman Kevin Harris said Wednesday evening. "Her first priority is making sure that Baltimore City continues to realize its full potential through the reforms her administration has put in place."

Emily's List could help Edwards overcome what many see as one of her biggest challenges: Lack of a fundraising network. The group spent more than $60 million in the 2014 election cycle, according to reports filed with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission, making it one of the country's most engaged third-party political groups.

If elected, Edwards, 56, would be the first African American to represent Maryland in the Senate, and only the second black woman in the Senate's history. Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois served a single term from 1993 to 1999.

While Edwards has the backing of several national liberal groups, she has yet to announce any endorsements from colleagues. Van Hollen, by contrast, quickly announced the backing of Montgomery County Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Edwards defeated 15-year incumbent Al Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary and was elected in a special election later that year. She represents the 4th Congressional District.

In endorsing her for Senate, Emily's List cited her votes to support funding for Planned Parenthood and equal pay legislation, among other things.

"In 1986, Emily's List helped Barbara Mikulski, our very first endorsed candidate, shatter a glass ceiling," Schriock said. “Donna Edwards shares the progressive Maryland values needed to carry on this important legacy."
She lived the American Dream... and now does everything possible to destroy the values that made it possible. She's too extreme for Maryland, and should consider moving to a totalitarian society where she'd feel more comfortable instead of trying to change ours into one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A More Conservative Fourth?

from the Baltimore Sun
Ingrid M. Turner, a former chair of the Prince George's County Council, will announce Tuesday that she is running for the House seat that will be left open by Rep. Donna F. Edwards, a source close to the Democrat said on Sunday.

Turner, 51, served in the council from the end of 2006 through 2014 and was its chair in 2011. The Bowie resident is also a past president of the Maryland Association of Counties.

Turner, a Naval Academy graduate who spent 20 years in active duty with the service, is joining an increasingly crowded field for the 4th Congressional District, which includes portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. Former lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown and former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey have announced campaigns.

And, on Saturday, sources close to Prince George's County Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk announced she will also enter the race on Tuesday.

Turner holds a law degree from Catholic University and an MBA from Golden Gate University. She retired from the Navy in 2006, having achieved the rank of commander. She was term-limited in 2014.

The 4th District seat will be left open by Edwards' decision to run for Senate in 2016 to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Rhetoric vs. the Reality, Another Obama FAIL!

from Investors Business Daily
Hi, everybody. Earlier this week, I visited with students at Georgia Tech to talk about the importance of higher education in the new economy, and how we can make it more affordable.

In an economy increasingly built on innovation, the most important skill you can sell is your knowledge. That’s why higher education is, more than ever, the surest ticket to the middle class.

But just when it’s never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive. The average undergrad who borrows to pay for college ends up graduating with about $28,000 in student loan debt.

That’s why my Administration has worked hard to make college more affordable. We expanded tax credits and Pell Grants, enacted the largest reform to student loan programs in history, and fought to keep interest rates on student loans low. We’ve acted to let millions of graduates cap loan payments at 10 percent of their income, so they don’t have to choose between paying the rent and paying back their debt. I’ve sent Congress my plan to bring the cost of community college down to zero — because two years of higher education should be as free and universal as high school is today.

But all of us — elected officials, universities, business leaders — everybody — needs to do more to bring down college costs. Which is why this week, I unveiled another way that we can help more Americans afford college. It doesn’t involve any new spending or bureaucracy. It’s a simple declaration of values — what I call a Student Aid Bill of Rights. It says that every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education. Every student should be able to access the resources to pay for college. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans.

That’s it. Just a few simple principles. But if we all rally around these principles, there’s a lot that colleges, lenders, and the people you sent to Washington and to your state legislatures can do to realize them across the country.

So if you believe in a Student Aid Bill of Rights that will help more Americans pay for a quality education, I’m asking you to visit Sign your name to this declaration. Tell your families, and your friends, and fellow students. I’m going to ask Members of Congress, and lenders, and as many business leaders as I can find. Because making sure that students aren’t saddled with debt before they even get started in life is in all our interests.

In America, a higher education cannot be a privilege reserved for only the few. It has to be available to everybody who’s willing to work for it. Thanks, and have a great weekend.
Who knew that making it easier to go deeper into debt made something more "affordable"? Must be some kind of "magical" thinking, makes it so!
Average College Costs

Coming Soon to a Liquor Store Near You...

Airplanes won't need to re-constitute the powdered alchohol with liquid? Who knew?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

“This Legislation Has the Potential to Strip Local Control of Our Schools From the Citizens of Harford County”

The following letter was sent from Harford County Education Association (HCEA) President Ryan Burbey to all Harford County representatives in the Maryland General Assembly. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
As President of the Harford County Education Association, I must express our opposition to SB 595 & HB 486, The Public Charter School Expansion and Improvement Act of 2015. As evidenced in Governor Hogan’s proposed budget, state funding for education is increasingly limited. These funding limitations should guide policy decisions. Therefore the primary reason for our opposition is that SB 595 & HB 486 have the potential to divert state tax and local dollars away from current public schools and public programs without local approval. These bills also serve to override and countermand local authority over education policy.

Specifically, these bills would (1) allow the Maryland State Board of Education to override decisions of locally elected boards of education to authorize establishment public charters schools within local school systems (2) require local boards of education to provide equal funding to these schools based on enrollment (3) override local authority and the authority of local superintendents by requiring substantial restructuring of local school systems’ human resources and administrative departments (4) dilute and diminish funds available for capital improvements and construction within local school systems by allowing MSDE to serve as administrator of school construction programs for charter schools. As we struggle to maintain excellence in Harford County Public Schools, we cannot fathom support for legislation which would make balancing the school budget in future years even more difficult by necessitating the creation of additional administrative departments, and reducing both operational, as well as, capital funds available to our current schools. SB 595 & HB 486 have the potential to divert millions in future tax dollars from the general fund, education trust and school construction funds.

Over the past several years, state funding for public education in Harford County has been repeatedly cut. As state funds for education become increasingly scarce, it simply makes no sense to divert or dilute valuable state funds to our current pubic schools. The Harford County Board of Education faces substantial challenges in funding the current education program and 54 schools within Harford County. By allowing the Maryland State Board of Education to override decisions of locally elected boards of education to authorize establishment public charters, this bill creates the potential for massive budget deficits which will undoubtedly result in increased class sizes within “regular” public schools and/or programmatic cuts, which will reduce opportunities for students rather than increase them as the bill purports. Quite frankly, Harford County Public Schools, being ranked 21st out 24 Maryland school systems in total per pupil funding, can barely afford the current schools it operates; much less fund any additional charters authorized outside of local control by the Maryland State Board of Education. Even more austere conditions arise with regard to capital improvements school maintenance and school construction. Harford County Public Schools has multiple buildings, which require substantial improvements or reconstruction. Neither the local school system nor county government can fund increased maintenance and improvements forced by establishment of charter schools within Harford County.

Perhaps the most disturbing component of this legislation is that it derides local authority over education on many levels. Only recently, Harford County citizens voted to elect our Board of Education. This is the first time that the majority of our Board of Education has been duly elected by the voters of Harford County. Passage of these bills as written, would essentially strip our Board of Education and other local boards of education from their authority to govern education policy within the county. As previously mentioned, these bills force local boards of education to fund, build and staff charter schools over which they maintain little to no control. Even more disturbing is that local boards of education may, in fact, deny establishment of charter schools, only to then have their thoughtful decisions overridden by members of the Maryland State Board of Education, who hold little or no ties to our local community and have no accountability to local voters.

Maryland’s current charter school law is successful. It strikes the right balance between local control, school accountability, and innovative instruction. It allows for the establishment of charters but rightly requires local authorization by locally elected boards of education. Likewise, the current charter law empowers local boards of education to monitor both academic and fiscal accountability of charters. The current Maryland charter law prevents fraud and abuse, which have occurred in states with less strict local control. Lax charter laws in other states have led to financial mismanagement, low standards, poor performance, and unreliable learning environments.

All citizens of Harford County should be alarmed at the implications of SB 595 & HB 486, The Public Charter School Expansion and Improvement Act of 2015. If passed as written, this legislation has the potential to strip local control of our schools from the citizens of Harford County, as well as, quite literally bankrupt the Harford County Board of Education operational and capital budgets. I encourage all Harford County voters to email their elected representatives, expressing their opposition to this potentially disastrous legislation.

Ryan Burbey, HCEA President
What is the HCPS afraid of? Charter School Competition? It couldn't hurt.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Working Class Democrats No More...

from Investors Business Daily
In what could be a significant opening for the Republican Party, working-class Americans have largely abandoned President Obama and rejected his economic policies as they continue to suffer from the historically weak economic recovery, a new analysis of IBD/TIPP Poll data finds.

By wide margins, this group is more likely to say the country is headed in the wrong direction, the economy is getting worse, and they fear losing their jobs than any other income class.

Just 36% approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared with 43% overall, and vast majorities say his policies haven't helped the middle class.

Over the past two months, IBD has asked people to identify themselves as either upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, working class, or lower class.

The average income for self-described working class families was just over $50,700 a year — which is close to the national median household income. Those calling themselves middle class had an average income of $70,800, and the average for upper-middle class was close to $100,000.

High Economic Anxiety

For several years, Obama said his policies would produce "bottom up prosperity," and in his State of the Union address in January, he claimed they were "helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change."

The IBD/TIPP Poll shows the opposite. Working-class families are overwhelmingly discouraged with the economy and anxious about their prospects, more so than the country at large and far more than upper-middle class families, who are generally happy with the way things are going.

For example, nearly two thirds of the working class (64%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly as many (60%) say they're not satisfied with federal economic policies. And 53% say the economy is not improving.

This is in sharp contrast to the views of the upper-middle class. More than half of this group (51%) say the country is headed in the right direction, 53% are satisfied with federal economic policies, and 65% say the economy is improving.

Meanwhile, about 43% of working-class families are worried that they or someone in their household could lose their jobs in the next 12 months. That's higher than any other income class — even lower-class people are less concerned. Just 28% of the nation as a whole are worried about layoffs.

The working class are even more likely to say their taxes are too high (61% say this) than the middle class (49%), the upper-middle class (48%), or the nation as a whole (52%).

Blaming Obama

Worse for Democrats, the working class clearly blame Obama for their plight, despite the fact that they had roughly the same partisan and ideological split as the country overall (38% of the working class said they are Democrats, compared with 34% of all those polled, for example), and a similar racial makeup.

Almost two thirds (63%) of the working class say Obama's policies have not significantly improved the economic conditions of the middle class. Overall, that figure is 55%. Among the middle class, it's 52%.

More than half of the working class (53%) hold an unfavorable view of Obama's leadership, and a similar share disapprove of the job he's doing. Both are higher than the nation overall.

Fewer working class think Obama is doing a good job handling the economy, managing the federal budget or creating jobs than other income classes.

The working class are also more likely to oppose ObamaCare (53% oppose the law) and want it repealed (50%), than the country overall (47% and 44% respectively).

They also are far more hostile to Obama's executive action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants — 62% of the working class oppose it, compared with 49% of the middle class and 48% of the upper-middle class.

The working class is also more likely to want the border secured first, before creating a "path to citizenship" than the rest of the country.

More than half (55%) of the working class even oppose Obama's call for raising taxes on the wealthy Americans "to pay for programs that help lower and middle class families" if it "results in fewer jobs." Among the middle class, only 48% feel this way.

Trouble Ahead

The collapse of support from working-class Americans is becoming an increasing concern among Democrats. The National Journal found that Democrats lost decisively in blue-collar districts in the 2014 midterm elections.

The trend prompted long-time Democratic adviser Stanley Greenberg to issue this harsh warning to his party: "If Democrats cannot figure out how to appeal to today's working-class voters, then they don't deserve to lead."

Wal-Mart Traffic - "What Can We Do?" - Presentation on March 15

From Bel Air South Community Foundation via The Dagger:

There will be a slide show presentation of the fifteen Bel-Air South intersections that will be affected by a Plumtree Wal-Mart. The presentation “Wal-Mart Traffic…What can we do?” will compare the recommendations/requirements of the involved organizations: Wal-Mart, County, State and MCV Associates (Traffic Engineer) and what we must do to ensure that Wal-Mart is required to improve all intersections.

The presentation will take place on Sunday, March 15th between 3:00 and 4:30 PM at the McFaul Center in Bel Air.

Bel Air South Community Foundation

Saturday, March 7, 2015

It's BACK, Maryland....

from the Baltimore Sun
More reactions trickle in to the House Environment and Transportation Committee voting against repealing the three-year-old storm-water fee law:

From the Maryland Republican Party:
Tonight, Maryland House of Delegate Democrats refused to listen to the voters of Maryland and voted down Governor Hogan's rain tax repeal. No piece of legislation this year symbolized the difference between hard working Marylanders and the tax and spend liberals in Annapolis.

"'Maryland House Democrats thumb their noses at Maryland voters tonight when they refused to let this bill out of committee,' commented MDGOP Chairman Diana Waterman. 'Maryland Voters spoke pretty clearly last November, but apparently House Democrats in Annapolis didn't get the message,' concluded Chairman Waterman."
And from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters:
“We applaud the House Environment and Transportation Committee for protecting Maryland’s waterways by voting down Governor Hogan’s proposed repeal of the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, which he continues to misleadingly label as a tax on rain. It is fitting that the Committee defeated his bill on the same day the Governor’s campaign put out false rhetoric trying to relate the snowfall rate to the tax rate.

"The Governor should spend more time on policy solutions and less time on tired campaign rhetoric. Dedicated local stormwater management programs work in more than 1,500 communities across the country, and they are working here and supporting Maryland jobs. Maryland families deserve safe drinking water, healthy seafood and clean rivers and streams and we will continue to support policies that effectively reduce pollution.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

O'Malley E-Mail Hidden from the Record Too

from the Dagger
A quick update on the Hillary Clinton vs Martin O’Malley presidential campaign.

Hillary Clinton has suddenly become target number one because she used a private e-mail server set up in her home to do all her official business as Secretary of State. People are rightfully outraged because it circumvented record keeping laws along with security issues.

Martin O’Malley though, in his quixotic campaign, can’t claim any better. See, back in 2007 when I was blogging on my old site, I published Martin O’Malley’s e-mail address – which was a sprint Nextel blackberry address, not affiliated with the State of Maryland. He was using this to conduct official business with, that’s how I got a hold of it.

In addition, former-Governor O’Malley used something called Pin-to-Pin communication to send messages to his top aides and inner circle. Think of Pin-to-Pin as a precursor to the Apple iMessage; it was a data driven text message. There is a very simple way to record these on State servers, however, the Governor directed his IT department to turn them off so that nobody could monitor his communication and that no record would exist to be FOIA’d.

Too bad, Martin O’Malley might have been able to get a foothold in an area that is really causing some damage to Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that he is just as opaque.

Obama-Left Progressives Want Edwards for Senate/ Attack (D) Rival, Van Hollen

from the Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON -- A pair of national liberal groups are launching a draft campaign to encourage Rep. Donna Edwards to enter the race to replace U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring next year.

Democracy for America, the group founded by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have sent emails to members asking them to support the five-term congresswoman from Prince George's County.

"She's a bold progressive who steps up for big fights and doesn't back down in the face of Republicans or under pressure from Democratic leadership," an email to DFA supporters sent Thursday read.

"Donna Edwards has a vision for a progressive America and the backbone to fight for it," the email read.

Edwards, 56, a rising star in her party who defeated 15-year incumbent Al Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary, has said she is seriously considering the race. Edwards represents the state's 4th Congressional District.

The groups sent emails to supporters a day after Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, became the first to enter the race. Some on the party's left have criticized statements Van Hollen made as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Another liberal advocacy group, MoveOn.Org, voiced concerns Wednesday about Van Hollen's supportive statements about the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction panel which suggested changes to Social Security, such as raising the retirement age.

"As he enters the race, we request that he clarify his position on Social Security,” MoveOn said in a statement. "It was deeply disappointing when Rep. Van Hollen said in 2012 that the Bowles-Simpson plan that would have cut Social Security benefits was 'the right way to go.'"

Van Hollen did not endorse the Bowles-Simpson recommendations -- and has not included the report's provisions on Social Security in his own budget proposals -- but said they could be used as a framework for a comprehensive deficit reduction plan of the kind that both House Republicans and the Obama White House were pressing for at the time.

Supporters note Van Hollen led push-back on the Obama administration's move toward the so-called chained CPI for Social Security as part of deficit reduction talks and that he frequently noted "serious" and "substantive" concerns with that idea, which would have slowed cost of living adjustments for seniors.

Van Hollen also has a perfect score from the Washington-based Alliance for Retired Americans, a group that advocates for seniors.

"From day one, Chris Van Hollen has fought for retirement security for all Americans," a campaign aide said. "During budget negotiations, he stood up to Republican efforts to dismantle the program and erode its benefits with the damaging chained CPI calculation… And he will continue to fight any effort to cut benefits or raise the retirement age."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Could a Republican Win a Maryland Senate Seat?

from Real Clear Politics
Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland surprised many observers yesterday by announcing that she would not seek a sixth term. This has set off a frenzy of speculation as to who her likely successor will be. Given that a Senate seat hasn’t come open in Maryland in a decade (and two decades before that one), there will likely be a crowded field.

So it isn’t surprising that there is a lengthy list of high-profile Democrats considering a bid. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley took himself out of the running Tuesday, but his lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown, along with Reps. John Delaney and Dutch Ruppersberger are publicly mulling a try for the seat, while Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Rep. Chris Van Hollen are also considering runs. Three of the four other representatives have been mentioned (the fourth, Steny Hoyer, seems unlikely to give up his position as the House minority whip), as have county executives for two major suburban counties in the state (among many others).

The Republican bench is narrower. There’s only one GOP representative in the state (Andy Harris, representing the Eastern Shore), who doesn’t seem interested in running. Aside from the current governor and lieutenant governor, Republicans have only won a single statewide contest since 1980: Robert Ehrlich and Michael Steele snuck into the governor’s mansion in 2002. Ehrlich and Ben Carson, the two names atop the GOP wish list, also seem uninterested in running. That leaves the Republicans with a decidedly weaker bench of county executives and state house delegates.

Could a Republican win the general election? Probably not. Maryland is something of a city-state, with most of its population living in urban and suburban areas around D.C. or Baltimore. Many of these voters are socially liberal, depend on the federal government for their livelihoods, and resist GOP anti-government rhetoric. Overall, this was Obama’s fifth-best state in 2012, giving the president a larger victory margin than Massachusetts or California.

It hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1980, and hasn’t elected a Republican senator who might fit in with today’s more solidly conservative GOP caucus since 1970 (that senator, J. Glenn Beall Jr., lost by 18 points in 1976 to Paul Sarbanes). Michael Steele was something of a perfect GOP candidate in 2006, who ran a clever campaign against a mediocre Democrat, yet still lost by 11 points. He might have won in a good GOP year, but he wouldn’t have had much room for error.

The best showing for a Republican in a presidential year was George W. Bush’s 13-point loss to John Kerry in 2004. The two GOP statewide wins in the past 30 years came in midterm elections where the party fared well nationally, and when Democratic turnout was down somewhat. Even then, those wins required the emergence of an issue matrix that aligned the interests of the state’s relatively small conservative base with moderate suburbanites.

So for a Republican to win, they would probably need a strong candidate, a great national environment, and a set of issues that causes the rural and suburban votes to coalesce. It isn’t impossible, but you’d have to give me extremely good odds before I’d think about taking the bet.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Secrets of Hillary...

Gone from hiding the Rose Law Firm Billing Records to hiding all her e-mails as Secretary of State... she's a girl who HATES a paper trail.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Establishment Republicans, Barrack Obama's BESTIES

from HotAue
The “Hastert Rule” says that a Speaker shouldn’t let any bill reach the floor unless a majority of his own caucus supports it. In the end, when the Great Executive Amnesty Sellout reached its final act, a supermajority of Boehner’s caucus opposed it. He passed the bill anyway — with all members of the minority party voting yes.

John Boehner, Democratic Speaker of the House.

It ended up 257-167. Here’s the roll, but don’t get too caught up in the 75 Republicans who voted yes. If 100 Democrats had switched their votes to no at the last second, I assume Boehner would have had little trouble replacing them with squishier members from his own side. Dozens of GOPers voted no here, no doubt, simply because their votes weren’t needed and a “nay” on authorizing executive amnesty will help them avoid primary challenges next year. There are probably 50-60 House conservatives who opposed the bill on the merits, because they’d rather endure a very limited shutdown of DHS to pressure Obama on immigration than throw in the towel now.

I already said my piece on this earlier so I won’t belabor it but lemme add two points. First, per Leon Wolf, don’t forget that not only does this remove any congressional roadblock to Obama’s amnesty, it also removes the roadblock to O’s plan to let illegals apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit retroactively, a giveaway that could be worth thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for each applicant. Second, if you think that this would have been a slam dunk with a Republican president in office, you’re kidding yourself and setting yourself up for more disappointment in 2017. For one thing, Democrats will almost certainly regain some seats in the Senate in 2016 (whether or not they reclaim a clear majority) so they’ll actually be in a better position to filibuster during the first two years of the next presidency than they are now — unless McConnell makes the filibuster go bye-bye. But even if the GOP had a filibuster-proof majority, it’s goofy to think that a Republican White House would risk alienating Latinos by undoing Obama’s executive order without having some sort of comprehensive immigration deal in Congress ready to go in its place. In that sense, executive amnesty is a lot like ObamaCare — Republicans may talk a good game about nuking each, but when push comes to shove, they’re talking about repeal and replace, not mere repeal. And the GOP’s replacement for executive amnesty will itself certainly allow for some form of legalization. The die is cast. And O knew it when he signed the order, which is why he’s not worried about a successor undoing his immigration legacy with a penstroke.

Summing Up Our Current Middle East Foreign Policy...

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Open Maryland Senate Seat?

from the Baltimore Sun
The retirement of longtime Sen. Barbara Mikulski sets off a heated competition among politicians who may be vying for the Senate seat long held by the popular Democrat. While no one has officially announced a bid, the list of possible successors is long:

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been building a national profile with a leadership position with the Democratic National Committee and frequent appearances on the Sunday morning talk show Meet the Press. She also has established a record of governance in Baltimore, the state’s largest city.

Rep. Donna Edwards also is considered a rising star in Democratic circles with a position on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leading the charge on the Red to Blue program helping Democrats win in Republican strongholds.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley is openly considering a run for president, but the Democrat had long been thought to be eying Mikulski’s seat, which could be a launching pad for a 2020 bid for the White House.

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins Hospital, has often been named as a potential presidential candidate, but a Senate seat could be in his sights. The Republican moved to Florida but still has a house in Baltimore County.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has been out of politics but still on the political circuit, giving his speeches and visiting early primary states such as New Hampshire. The Republican also written a book: America: Hope for Change.

Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican on Maryland’s delegation, would be taking a gamble by running in the heavily Democratic state, as he would lose his House seat if he loses.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen established national as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Since then he has taken other leadership posts, including the ranking member on the Budget Committee.

Rep. John Sarbanes has name recognition in the state because of his father, Paul, the former U.S. Senate. Reps. Elijah Cummings and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger are other Democrats who could make a run for the upper chamber.

Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat and businessman, would have a personal war chest that he could tap in the event of another run for office, as he did in the last election. He co-founded CapitalSource, a commercial lender.

Dan Bongino, the former Secret Service agent who lost to Delaney in a House race last year, also could be up for another run.