Thursday, April 30, 2015
In August 2014, violent protests exploded in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, after a policeman shot to death an unarmed black teenager suspected of robbery: For days, police tried to disperse mostly black protesters. Although the details of the accident are murky, the poor black majority of the town took it as yet another proof of the systematic police violence against them. In U.S. slums and ghettos, police effectively function more and more as a force of occupation, something akin to Israeli patrols entering the Palestinian territories on the West Bank; media were surprised to discover that even their guns are more and more U.S. Army arms. Even when police units try just to impose peace, distribute humanitarian help, or organize medical measures, their modus operandi is that of controlling a foreign population. “The Rolling Stone” magazine recently drew the conclusion that imposes itself after the Ferguson incident:- Slavoj Zizek, "Divine Violence in Ferguson"“Nobody’s willing to say it yet. But after Ferguson, and especially after the Eric Garner case that exploded in New York after yet another non-indictment following a minority death-in-custody, the police suddenly have a legitimacy problem in this country. Law-enforcement resources are now distributed so unevenly, and justice is being administered with such brazen inconsistency, that people everywhere are going to start questioning the basic political authority of law enforcement.”In such a situation, when police are no longer perceived as the agent of law, of the legal order, but as just another violent social agent, protests against the predominant social order also tend to take a different turn: that of exploding “abstract negativity” – in short, raw, aimless violence. When, in his “Group Psychology”, Freud described the “negativity” of untying social ties (Thanatos as opposed to Eros, the force of the social link), he all too easily dismissed the manifestations of this untying as the fanaticism of the “spontaneous” crowd (as opposed to artificial crowds: the Church and the Army). Against Freud, we should retain the ambiguity of this movement of untying: it is a zero level that opens up the space for political intervention. In other words, this untying is the pre-political condition of politics, and, with regard to it, every political intervention proper already goes “one step too far”, committing itself to a new project (or Master-Signifier).
Do they not hit the innocent?
Today, this apparently abstract topic is relevant once again: The “untying” energy is largely monopolized by the New Right (the Tea Party movement in the U.S., where the Republican Party is increasingly split between Order and its Untying). However, here also, every fascism is a sign of failed revolution, and the only way to combat this Rightist untying will be for the Left to engage in its own untying – and there are already signs of it (the large demonstrations all around Europe in 2010, from Greece to France and the UK, where the student demonstrations against university fees unexpectedly turned violent). In asserting the threat of “abstract negativity” to the existing order as a permanent feature which can never be aufgehoben, Hegel is here more materialist than Marx: In his theory of war (and of madness), he is aware of the repetitive return of the “abstract negativity” which violently unbinds social links. Marx re-binds violence into the process out of which a New Order arises (violence as the “midwife” of a new society), while in Hegel, the unbinding remains non-sublated.
Are such “irrational” violent demonstrations with no concrete programmatic demands, sustained by just a vague call for justice, not today’s exemplary cases of what Walter Benjamin called “divine violence” (as opposed to “mythic violence”, i.e. the law-founding state violence)? They are, as Benjamin put it, means without ends, not part of a long-term strategy. The immediate counter-argument here is: but are such violent demonstrations not often unjust, do they not hit the innocent?
If we are to avoid the overstretched Politically Correct explanations according to which the victims of divine violence should humbly not resist it on account of their generic historical responsibility, the only solution is to simply accept the fact that divine violence is brutally unjust: It is often something terrifying, not a sublime intervention of divine goodness and justice. A left-liberal friend from the University of Chicago told me of his sad experience: when his son reached high-school age, he enrolled him in a high school north of the campus, close to a black ghetto, with a majority of black kids, but his son was then returning home almost regularly with bruises or broken teeth – so what should he have done? Put his son into another school with the white majority or let him stay? The point is that this dilemma is wrong: The dilemma cannot be solved at this level since the very gap between private interest (safety of my son) and global justice bears witness to a situation which has to be overcome in its entirety.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a blunt self-described socialist who has become a favorite of progressive activists for his denunciations of big banks and the financial elite, will jump into the 2016 presidential campaign on Thursday, according to two people familiar with his plans.
One ally — who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Sanders’s timetable — said the 73-year-old senator is expected to make his intentions known this week and hold a rally in Vermont next month. He plans to run as a Democrat, according to his associates.
The decision to get in the contest was first reported Tuesday by Vermont Public Radio.
Sanders presents a notable left-leaning challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who announced her second campaign for the White House on April 12.
Former Rhode Island governor and ex-Republican Lincoln Chafee announced his pursuit of the Democratic nod this month, but his campaign has generated little interest from rank-and-file party members. Others on the Democratic radar — former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and former Virginia senator Jim Webb — have not formally decided on running.
Sanders shares many of the same political stances as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a darling of liberals who has repeatedly said she is not running for president. That means Sanders may end up serving as the most prominent voice for the left wing of the party — particularly voters who are suspicious of Clinton and her ties to Wall Street.
Sanders’s backers said they hope he can serve as a proxy for Warren’s disappointed drafters, helping to animate small-dollar Democratic donors with his brash persona and speeches condemning the “billionaire class.”
Speaking not long ago with The Washington Post, Sanders said his message would be concentrated on the “collapse of the middle class” and “income and wealth inequality,” which he called a “huge issue from a moral sense and a political sense.”
Sanders chose to run in the Democratic primary because of to his interest in participating in the party’s primary debates, according to confidants. If he ran as an independent, he would not be able to engage with the national Democratic infrastructure or act as a direct foil to Clinton in the early primaries and caucuses.
The senator’s political adviser will be Tad Devine, one of the Democratic Party’s leading consultants and a former high-level campaign aide to Al Gore, John F. Kerry and Michael Dukakis.
“He is not only a longtime client but a friend,” Devine said in an interview last year. “I believe he could deliver an enormously powerful message that the country is waiting to hear right now and do it in a way that succeeds.”
In recent months, Devine and Sanders — who first worked together in the 1990s — have been mapping out how the brusque senator could navigate the race and present a challenge to Clinton.
Sanders, a Brooklyn native, is the longest-serving independent in congressional history. Before winning election to the Senate in 2006, he served in the House and as mayor of Burlington.
Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, has seen his profile rise since 2010, when he delivered a marathon filibuster on economic policy. That speech turned into a book, and Sanders has since appeared frequently on MSNBC and HBO.
For Martin O'Malley, the revival of Baltimore is at the core of his political biography. In a speech to Iowa Democrats last year, the former Maryland governor said that during his seven years as Baltimore mayor, he transformed what was once "the most violent, most addicted, most abandoned city in America."
On Monday, that city went up in flames.
What started as peaceful protests over the treatment of Freddie Gray — a 25-year-old African-American man who died while in police custody this month — erupted into full-blown violence. Racial tensions around the issue of police brutality bubbled to a full boil, as chaotic images of store lootings, destruction of property and buildings engulfed in flames captured the nation.
The violence in Maryland, which led the governor to declare a state of emergency, was clearly troubling for O'Malley. On Monday, he announced that he was cutting short a trip giving paid speeches in Ireland and returning home. "I'm saddened that the city I love is in such pain this night," he said in a statement.
But this week's unrest in Baltimore could also have broader political consequences for the former governor as he mulls a presidential campaign. The events will likely bring greater scrutiny to O'Malley's time as mayor — including his zero tolerance policing strategy, in which even minor offenses are vigorously prosecuted — while providing an opening for the former governor to inject himself into the national conversation about problems like crime, racial tensions and economic inequality that roil American cities.
Even if the events in Baltimore raise his profile, however, O'Malley's candidacy would be a long shot. He currently is registering in the single digits in national polls of possible Democratic presidential candidates.
Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said Gray's death — and the outrage surrounding it — calls for a "national awakening" on law enforcement and the treatment of racial minorities, and that O'Malley has "tremendous credentials" to lead a national dialogue on these issues.
"He understands what it is like to be the top elected official in a really challenging urban area, including the area of law enforcement," Glendening, a Democrat, said in an interview. "What you've got here is a powder keg in the sense that the community doesn't trust the police and the police doesn't trust the community, amidst a growing sense of poverty and inequity and hopelessness."
It's unclear just how prominent a public role O'Malley will seek in the coming days, as current Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan try to bring stability to a city in disarray. O'Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith said Tuesday that O'Malley has reached out to community leaders, including the mayor, to offer his help and that he's ready to participate in the "healing process with the people of Baltimore."
But the unrest in Baltimore could also hinder O'Malley's ability to talk about the city as a success story. Though he left the mayor's office in 2007, he has in some ways staked his reputation on the idea of Baltimore and Maryland as examples to the nation.
Former Maryland attorney general Doug Gansler said some of the anger and resentment over Gray's death might be traced back years to O'Malley's time as mayor.
Some believe that O'Malley's policing tactics, in particular, "worsened the problem and that minorities were targeted and there was this friction and distrust that grew," said Gansler, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014.
O'Malley rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime mayor who used data and analytics to tackle everything from drugs and murder to basic city services. And in recent public speeches, O'Malley has confronted head-on events that have reignited debates about racial discrimination and law enforcement tactics.
Speaking at the National Action Network summit in New York earlier this year, O'Malley discussed the killing of Walter Scott, an African-American man shot at eight times in the back by a South Carolina police officer.
"It's very, very hard, I think, for white people, any white people, to understand just what that loss of a precious life does to the constant state of random vulnerability that Americans of color feel," he said.
O'Malley also said that his tenure as mayor was not simply about cracking down on crime or the prevalence of drugs in the city but addressing a broader issue of justice for racial minorities.
"We vowed together that we would not only improve policing, not only raise the standard of justice in a colorblind way that valued every life in our city and every neighborhood equally," he said, "but we would also intervene earlier in the lives of young people, expand drug treatment, and do one other very, very important thing -- and that is to do a better job of policing the police."
O'Malley has made his aggressive and data-focused management of city agencies a central part of his political story. But as mayor, his zero-tolerance policing strategy faced criticism from some activists even as the city saw a drop in crime.
Former Republican Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, whom O'Malley defeated in 2006 and again in 2010, said he simply thought it was "bad policy."
"A lot of innocent people were arrested for nothing, for walking down the street, and that gets people angry," he said.
O'Malley's allies insist, however, that the former governor's time as mayor will help distinguish him from the rest of the presidential field if he were to launch a White House campaign.
Democratic strategist Doug Thornell, who has worked for the Congressional Black Caucus and as a top adviser to Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, said O'Malley's background as a big city mayor would bring a valuable dimension to the dialogue within the Democratic Party about inequality.
"Hopefully it's a conversation that he can inject into the larger presidential conversation," Thornell said. "You don't really hear a lot of people talking about urban America. You hear the conversation pop up when there's something like what's happened in Baltimore or Ferguson, but then the conversation stops."
Monday, April 27, 2015
The New Face of Justice in Baltimore - Part III, Giving Protestors the 'Space to Destroy' is now Part of their 'Right to Free Speech'
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Do you want to know how to beat the stock market? In 46 of America’s 50 largest cities, installing a fully financed, typical-sized, residential solar power system will do just that, according to a Department of Energy-backed study released earlier this year. In other words, by investing in solar panels, most homeowners will save more in electric costs over the next 25 years (the approximate life of the system) than they would earn from investing the same money in the stock market over that same time period. In fact, the study also found that, of the single-family households in the 50 largest American cities, 93 percent of them (or 21 million households) would pay less for solar power today than they currently pay to purchase power from their electric utility.
But here’s the thing: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, building and operating a large-scale solar power plant (which is cheaper to build and operate per unit of energy than a small-scale residential installation) costs twice as much as building and operating a conventional fossil-fuel power plant.
How can it be that solar power costs at least twice as much as conventional power but is still a lot cheaper in the vast majority of American cities?
The answer is simple: subsidies—and lots of them.
Every time you pay your taxes or your electric bill, you’re helping to pay for your neighbor’s solar panels or wind turbines. And in fact, while you might have chuckled at your hippie neighbors for installing those ugly solar panels on their roof last year, it turns out they’re the ones laughing—all the way to the bank. That’s because you helped pay for their new toy, and now they’re making money off your investment.
There are at least five hidden ways you might be paying to subsidize renewable power. Here they are, in no particular order.
Subsidy No. 1: Federal Taxes. This one isn’t surprising. If you pay federal taxes, a portion is going to subsidize renewable power plants, such as wind farms and solar arrays. And it’s not an insubstantial amount. The federal government gives away about $9 billion annually in tax benefits to renewable power facilities and has spent about $150 billion on solar energy and other renewable projects over the last five years. That adds up to about $100 per citizen per year.
Here’s how it generally works. If you buy solar panels for your house sometime before 2016, you get 30 percent of the total cost back as a federal tax credit. The typical residential solar system costs about $20,000, which means an instant tax credit of about $6,000. That’s a nice chunk of change, especially if you finance the solar system with no money down.
Subsidy No. 2: State and Local Taxes. Unfortunately, a 30 percent discount still doesn’t make solar cost-competitive. So many states and local governments have heaped on more tax credits and incentives. Twenty-three states have solar tax credit programs, as shown in the map below.
Many counties and cities also have their own incentive programs. For example, if a homeowner in Los Angeles installs a solar system, the city uses a complicated formula to write the homeowner a check, which typically amounts to an additional $1,500 to $2,000 per system.
Subsidy No. 3: Net Metering Costs. Utilities generally have what are called “fixed” and “variable” charges. Fixed charges are intended to cover the fixed costs of providing electricity service (e.g., the cost of wires, poles, etc.), and customers pay these charges every month, regardless of how much electricity they use. Variable charges are intended to cover variable costs (e.g., fuel), and these charges vary with how much electricity a customer uses (usually expressed as cents per kilowatt hour).
Historically, utilities have avoided recovering all fixed costs through the fixed charge. The reason? To keep customer bills low and to encourage efficiency. If all fixed costs were recovered through an unavoidable, monthly fixed charge, then customers’ bills wouldn’t go down as much if they used less electricity.
Accordingly, utilities have kept fixed charges low and recovered most of their fixed costs (and all of their variable costs) through variable charges. But now this historical format is causing regular customers to subsidize renewable customers.
The reason is something called net metering, which is available in 44 out of 50 states. When a solar or wind system is hooked up to the grid, the owner is allowed to sell power back to the utility, literally running their electric meter backwards. But remember—most utilities recover a portion of their fixed costs through the variable rate they charge to customers. So if a homeowner installs solar panels, he may end up paying very little (or no) variable charges to the utility. In such situations, the utility “under-recovers” its fixed costs. To make up the difference, the utility must increase the variable charges for all the other customers.
This is a big deal, especially in sunny states like California, New Mexico, and Arizona, and many utilities are starting to fight back to protect their regular customers by raising their fixed charges. But utilities usually can’t just raise their fixed charge; they have to get permission to do so from the state public utility commission. And when they ask, solar advocacy groups go bananas, calling the utilities “bullies” and saying they are trying to “quash solar.”
Just two weeks ago, Arizona Public Service Company—one of the utilities that has been on the forefront of the fixed versus variable fee debate—asked its regulators to increase the fixed fees on new solar system owners to $3 per kilowatt hour, which amounts to about $21 per month. By contrast, the utility calculates that these solar customers actually avoid paying about $67 per month in fixed costs. Without the $21 per month fee, the utility estimates that the shift to nonsolar customers will grow to $800 million over the next 20 years based on systems installed through mid-2017 alone.
“It’s an issue of fairness to all of our customers,” Thomas Loquvam, APS’s associate general counsel, told me in a conversation about the filing last week. “If we don’t do something about this cross-subsidy—and soon—the cost to our nonsolar customers will just keep going up as more solar panels are added to the grid.”
Subsidy No. 4: Renewable Mandates. More than half the states have something called a “Renewable Portfolio Standard.” In general, this requires that a certain portion of the electricity your utility provides to you—typically 10-25 percent—come from renewable sources. But renewable power sources are generally more expensive than conventional power sources, such as coal or natural gas. Your electric bills are therefore substantially higher than they would be without this mandate. This makes residential solar and wind power even more competitive because the higher your current electric bill, the more likely installing solar panels or wind turbines will save you money.
What’s more, electricity flows across state lines because electricity markets are regional. That means even if your state doesn’t have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, the mandates in neighboring states could still be driving up your electric costs.
Subsidy No. 5: Climate Regulation. Of course, -environmentalists argue that the prior four subsidies are necessary to even the playing field between fossil fuels and renewables. Fossil-fuel power plants cause harm to the climate, they argue, and the costs of that harm are not included in the price paid for the “dirty” fossil-fuel power. Subsidizing solar, therefore, just evens the playing field, right? Wrong.
In many states, the cost (if any) to the climate of operating a fossil-fuel power plant is already built into the cost of operating the plant. California and many of the New England states already have a greenhouse gas cap and trade program, yet they still provide huge subsidies to renewable power. What’s more, climate regulation is itself another form of renewable subsidy. Again, it drives up the price of using conventional fossil-fuel power plants, which makes renewables more competitive. And if President Obama gets his way, his proposed Clean Power Plan (which he is slated to finalize this summer) will impose climate regulations on every state’s power system, without significantly altering any of the existing renewable subsidies.
The bottom line is that if you accept the science behind man-made climate change, fossil-fuel power plants should have to pay their fair share for their impact on the climate. Virtually every economist will tell you, however, that subsidies are the least efficient way to do this. And that’s why many libertarians are now calling to abolish all these subsidies and impose a straight revenue-neutral carbon tax, which would end up saving everyone a lot of money.
But in this political climate, the chance that such a measure will be adopted is slim. We will likely be living with most of these subsidies for a while. Therefore, there’s only one logical thing to do in the meantime: Run out tomorrow and buy solar panels for your house—that way you can cash in on all the government subsidies yourself.
Nearly 80 percent of the money Rep. Donna F. Edwards raised for her Senate campaign last month came from out of state donors, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis of recently filed campaign finance reports.
Of the $260,000 in donations over $200 from individuals included on the Prince George's County Democrat's campaign disclosure, $58,000 came from Maryland donors -- a percentage that underscores the campaign's reliance, so far, on national progressive groups for fundraising.
The largest share of Edwards' money -- about 26 percent -- came from California.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Montgomery County Democrat who is also pursuing the seat that will be left open by retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in 2017, raised 74 percent of his cash from Maryland -- much of it from Montgomery County, according to the analysis.
Both campaigns filed reports last week, though due to the vagaries of how Senate candidates disclose campaign cash, Van Hollen's has not yet posted on the Federal Election Commission's website.
Because Edwards and Van Hollen entered the race in March, the reports represent only a few weeks of fundraising. The second quarter report, filed in May, will likely be a more telling indicator of how each campaign is doing in the race for cash.
Edwards has never been considered a particularly strong fundraiser, in part because she has'nt had to be. However, she has attracted attention from progressive groups like Democracy for America, Emily's List and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which have extensive national donor bases.
The analysis does not include aggregate donations under $200, which are not required to be itemized -- and so there's no way to discern where they came from. Van Hollen had just over $44,000 in unitemized donations (about 4 percent of all donations) and Edwards had about $55,700 (17 percent).
Though the campaigns had previously disclosed top-line numbers, the full reports provide far more detail about who is giving and how the political operations are spending their money. Edwards has received attention for one top-name donor, Barbra Streisand, who gave $2,600. Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree also donated to the Edwards campaign.
Perhaps the most interesting name on Van Hollen's donor list was Judy Gross, wife of Alan Gross -- the former Marylander who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years. Van Hollen was heavily engaged in Gross' release from Cuba in December as part of a broader deal to restore diplomatic relations with Havana. Judy Gross gave $2,000 in early March.
Van Hollen also received donations from leadership PACs controlled by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid ($5,000), who endorsed Van Hollen soon after he announced his candidacy, and Connecticut Rep. John Larson ($2,500).
"With now over 4,500 contributors, Donna is building a campaign that reflects the hard work of Maryland families," Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement that was broadly similar to the one the campaign issued when it released its top-line figures.
The Van Hollen campaign referred to the statement it released earlier this month.
"I'm grateful for the strong support our campaign has received from people all across our great state," Van Hollen said at the time in a statement.
Edwards reported raising $335,228 in the first quarter and had $325,000 in the bank. Van Hollen reported raising $1.2 million with $1.1 million on hand, and an additional $1.6 million available in his House account -- money that can be used for his Senate race.
From the Dagger and Harford Campaign for Liberty:
As founder and director of American Policy Center, Mr. DeWeese has been tireless in his efforts to expose and combat the stealthy encroachment of United Nations Agenda 21 policies on towns and counties throughout our country.
Are you frustrated by the unfair use of eminent domain or restrictions on the use of your property? Has the ever-growing presence of government regulation on every aspect of your life left you feeling uneasy?
April 28, 2015
7 pm – 9 pm
Knights of Columbus Hall
23 Newport Drive
Forest Hill, MD. 21050
Tom will identify the causes of our ever eroding property and personal rights and outline ways to take them back.
Be sure to attend.
Bring a friend and an elected official.
Everyone needs to hear this important message.
Seating is limited. Please register at the link below to reserve seating.
Contact event co-coordinator for more details by calling 410-569-4821.
Free admission and a cash bar is available.
Maryland Campaign for Liberty Inc.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Plato's guardians with souls of gold are no longer honoured
...the son of Pisistratus brought back to Thasos aulos and lyre, bearing pure gold as a gift for Thracian dogs, and for personal profit they did public harm.--Archilochus of Paros
Heart, my heart, so battered with misfortune far beyond your strength, up, and face the men who hate us. Bare your chest to the assault of the enemy, and fight them off. Stand fast among the beamlike spears. Give no ground; and if you beat them, do not brag in open show, nor, if they beat you, run home and lie down on your bed and cry. Keep some measure in the joy you take in luck, and the degree you give way to sorrow. All our life is up-and-down like this.-Archilochus of Paros (67)
Saturday, April 18, 2015
At an event in New Hampshire on Friday, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush did something exceedingly rare for a Republican to do these days: openly acknowledge carbon pollution.
"The climate is changing, and I’m concerned about that," Bush said. With those words, he may be distancing himself from his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls, who sound like loons on the problem. Bush offered a caveat, though, saying he is more worried "about the hollowing out of our country, the hollowing out of our industrial core, the hollowing out of our ability to compete in an increasingly competitive world."
The comments are only significant as far as it hints that Bush may be forming a more moderate position on climate change. Bush has straddled a vague position on climate change, at times openly questioning the science and at others recognizing the issue. In 2011, he described himself as a skeptic, saying "it is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately man-made.”
Bush ended up endorsing perhaps the most politically safe plan for climate action he could find: The natural gas boom, which has lowered the nation’s dependence on coal, but the methane it is made up of is its own risk to climate change. "We need to restore our competitive posture, which I think our energy revolution will allow us to do," he said, "and then simultaneously […] be cognizant of the fact that we have this climate change issue and we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions."
It's too early to appoint Bush as the reasonable, moderate Republican in a primary of science deniers. Numerous other Republicans, as well as Hillary Clinton and President Obama, have all endorsed natural gas production as an answer to coal. That makes it hard to take Bush seriously on climate change action; he or she needs an actual plan for reducing reliance on fossil fuels, including natural gas. It will be more interesting to see how much further Bush takes this.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Hillary Clinton's astroturf candidacy is in full swing in Iowa.
Her Tuesday morning visit to a coffee shop in LeClaire, Iowa was staged from beginning to end, according to Austin Bird, one of the men pictured sitting at the table with Mrs. Clinton.
Bird told Daily Mail Online that campaign staffer Troy Price called and asked him and two other young people to meet him Tuesday morning at a restaurant in Davenport, a nearby city.
Price then drove them to the coffee house to meet Clinton after vetting them for about a half-hour.
The three got the lion's share of Mrs. Clinton's time and participated in what breathless news reports described as a 'roundtable'– the first of many in her brief Iowa campaign swing.
Bird himself is a frequent participant in Iowa Democratic Party events. He interned with President Obama's 2012 presidential re-election campaign, and was tapped to chauffeur Vice President Joe Biden in October 2014 when he visited Davenport.
'What happened is, we were just asked to be there by Troy,' Bird said Wednesday in a phone interview.
'We were asked to come to a meeting with Troy, the three of us, at the Village Inn.'
The other two, he confirmed, were University of Iowa College Democrats president Carter Bell and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland employee Sara Sedlacek.
'It was supposed to be a strategy meeting,' Bird recalled, 'to get our thoughts about issues. But then all of a sudden he says, "Hey, we have Secretary Clinton coming in, would you like to go meet her?"'
'And then we got in a car – Troy's car – and we went up to the coffee house, and we sat at a table and then Hillary just came up and talked with us.'
Bird said 'we all were called.'
'I mean, Troy asked us all to do – to go to a meeting with him. And we didn't really know what it was about. I mean, he did. He knew.'
t's unclear how many Iowans featured in photographs with Clinton that rocketed around the country on Tuesday were planted.
'The mayor of LeClaire was there, and his wife was there,' Bird said, recalling the scene at the coffee shop.
Price was executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party until a month ago. Clinton's team tapped him last week to be its political director in Iowa.
He did not respond to a request for comment.
Bird is a government and community relations coordinator at Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa, according to his LinkedIn profile.
A coworker at Genesis said Wednesday that Bird is 'basically a lobbyist in training. That's what he wants to do.'
Bird disagreed, saying his role was 'more public relations.'
He's also an outspoken progressive whose Facebook wall shows he ordered a 'Hillary For President' bumper sticker 22 months ago. 'Is it 2016 yet?' he wrote in May 2013.
Clinton's nascent campaign has carefully coordinated her image as a spontaneous, handshaking populist in her first days as a candidate, posing with Pennsylvanians at a gas station and venturing into an Ohio Chipotle restaurant for lunch.
When no one recognized the former first lady – she was wearing sunglasses – the campaign leaked information to The New York Times so its reporters could get security-camera footage to prove she had tried to mingle with voters.
Scripting supposedly off-the-cuff appearances is common in presidential politics but could hurt Clinton especially hard since her gonzo road-trip journey to America's broad midwest is designed to counter her image as cold, calculating and politically venomous.
And planting party insiders in place of typical Iowans won't go over well in the Hawkeye State, where pressing the flesh and collecting caucus votes is a quadrennial full-contact sport.
Clinton's campaign has already taken heat for depicting at least three people in her campaign launch video as 'everyday' Americans who were actually partisans with political connections.
One was even a former campaign manager for Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat who mounted a failed bid for Texas governor last year.
In LeClaire on Tuesday, Bloomberg and other outlets referred to Bird as a 'student' at St. Ambrose University, not as a hospital government-affairs staffer with Democratic party street-cred.
He does study at St. Ambrose – part-time.
But Bird's ties to the party are deep enough that his Facebook wall includes a photo of him standing in front of Joe Biden's limousine in Davenport.
'I was driving the Vice President when he was in town in October,' Bird noted in a Facebook comment.
Biden was not there on official government business, but for a campaign stop in support of Democrat Bruce Braley.
'The Vice President will attend a grassroots event for Braley for Iowa with Representative David Loebsack,' according to White House press guidance for his October 27, 2014 schedule.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
The exact quote — the one that appears on the Angelou forever stamp — also appears on Page 15 in the book “A Cup of Sun,” by Joan Walsh Anglund, copyright 1967. It was written two years before Angelou's "Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".They know at USPS that it's not true, but they're going to pretend that Angelou said it anyway.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The natural gas extraction method known as "fracking" would be banned in Maryland until October 2017 under legislation approved Monday night by the Maryland Senate.If allowed to, these idiots would ban gasoline and heating oil, too. They don't care about anything but banning all energy sources necessary for progress and replacing them with extremely costly and inefficient alternatives.
By a 45-2 vote, senators sent the measure to the House, which has passed a version of the bill that environmental advocates believe is stronger. The House bill calls for a three-year moratorium and further study of the health and economic development impact of the practice. The Senate bill does not require a study.
Opponents of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, say the technique has been linked to contamination of water supplies and increased earthquake activity. The natural gas industry and its supporters insist it is safe and credit it with increasing the amount of energy produced in the United State.
The leading Senate opponent of a moratorium, George Edwards of Garrett County, voted for the bill after initially opposing the delay. Edwards called the bill "a good first step" and said it would take at least two years for a company to get a fracking permit even if it applied now.
Gov. Larry Hogan said he would support fracking in Maryland as long as it is safe but has not taken a position on the legislation. Edwards said he believes Hogan is committed to writing "strong rules and regulations" to govern the practice. The senator, who represents the area of the state where fracking is most likely to take place, said the two-year moratorium would give people time to evaluate those rules.
Environmentalists expressed mixed feelings about the Senate vote. Ann Bristow, a spokeswoman for the Don't Frack Maryland campaign, said she was pleased with the moratorium but dismayed by the lack of a study provision in its version.
"We are unconvinced that a regulatory approach can protect Maryland, and we are also disappointed the panel to review the available public health studies on fracking was removed from the original bill," she said.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Ridesharing – Ubertastic!
Technology Making our Lives Better!
Have you ever used a ridesharing company like Uber? I have, and it’s been fantastic.
I’m working with a bi-partisan coalition of legislators to establish a place for ridesharing in Maryland. Please see our article in the Baltimore Sun urging legislators to get onboard.
Last Minute Tax Gets Legs!
We’ve been working hard to hold the line on Governor Hogan’s budget priorities. The Senate voted unanimously for the budget. Next week, the House will vote on the conference committee version of the budget. We should have tax relief this year. However, it’s not a concept that’s been used in Annapolis for 20 years.
The Leadership in the House is stalling any tax relief measures.
Here are some of the taxes that have been proposed this year but will NOT pass:Chicken Tax – $15 million annual tax on poultry farmers – HB 886It’s not too late to get some tax relief passed this year. I will continue to work on a few measures coming over from the Senate. Tax relief is proving to be a tough concept for too many in Annapolis to embrace. Oh what a difference a year makes!
Death Tax – eliminate the death tax repeal we passed last year HB 730
Bottle Tax – 5 cent tax on every bottle – can be redeemed if you return a bottle HB982
Bag tax – bans plastic bags and puts a 10 cent tax on paper bags – HB 551
Tobacco Tax – a $90 million annual tax on tobacco products – HB 108
Tax on Utility Bills for solar & wind – ramps up to a $566 million annual tax HB 377
2nd Amendment Update
Bills on firearms a heavy lift
One of the most frequently asked question I’ve received lately is about firearms legislation. 48 firearms related bills have been introduced this year. As usual, the pro 2nd Amendment bills have a tough time in Annapolis.
There are a few bills moving through the process, but until the 2015 legislative session comes to a close, I won’t count on anything passing.
The good news is the anti-firearm legislation is not moving.
I promise to update you on this important issue when session ends. My support of the 2nd Amendment is well known. There are many subscribers to my email updates who do not agree with me on this issue. We will have to agree to disagree.
PMT (Phosphorus Management Tool) in Regulations
Cleaning up the Bay is important to all Marylanders. The PMT is a regulation imposed on farmers across our state to regulate phosphorus. Former Governor Martin O’Malley issued phosphorus management regulations in the last days of his term. It certainly appeared to be a parting shot to farmers as he had talked about this issue for at least four years and failed to act until he packed his office and was moving out. Implementation of these regulations would have severely crippled both the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore and the agricultural industry across our state.
The Hogan administration worked closely with the agricultural and environmental communities to design a balanced plan for limiting phosphorus run-off from Maryland farms. This solution, a plan that is agreeable to all parties and relies on the best-available science, represents an important step forward in environmental policy.
Those involved in achieving this compromise included the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Delmarva Poultry Industry, Maryland Farm Bureau, and a coalition of environmental groups known as the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition.
Under the Hogan regulations, farmers will have to implement the new phosphorus management tool by 2024. The PMT regulates how much phosphorus can be applied, based on how much of the nutrient is already in the soil, and how likely it is to reach waterways.
Restoration of the bay is key to the future of our state, and it is the responsibility of every Marylander – not just the agricultural community. I am proud of Governor Hogan’s work to bring everyone together to find solutions that everyone can agree upon.
A Community Project Extraordinaire!
Angel Park will be an all-inclusive playground and amphitheater facility in Perry Hall near the library on Honeygo Blvd. The concept is similar to Annie’s Playground in Harford County. It is a playground that kids with disabilities can fully utilize. Angel Park will include slides that prevent static shock, equipment that is fully-wheelchair accessible, and other various unique playground equipment that all kids can use, no matter the disability or handicap.
Angel Park will incorporate the designs and ideas of local children and artists. It will be built and supported by the community and provide a unique destination to be enjoyed by all families for years to come. It will be more than a memorial park; it will be a special place for children, families and friends.
If you’d like more information on the project, Click Here! Construction should being around September 1st.
The park has a very real and personal meaning to members of our community. The name was purposely chosen to represent a vision of an ideal setting for happiness and reflection. This name was selected to inspire support from the widest audience and to build the enthusiasm and momentum necessary to make it a reality.
Angel Park began from an idea that came to Kelli and Andy Szczybor after the loss of their baby boy, Ryan. From a sad origin, a bright and life affirming idea emerged – to build a place for laughter, activity and fun, for families and friends throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.
Kelli Szczybor and her leadership team have raised about $1 million for the project. I sponsored a bi-partisan bill with delegates from the 7th and 8th districts; Rick Impallaria, John Cluster, Christian Miele and Eric Bromwell. We have been able to secure a grant from the State of Maryland for $100,000! The senators, JB Jennings and Kathy Klausmeier, are working on a senate grant of an additional $100,000. This is a terrific project we can all be proud of.
I hope to see you at the ground breaking and construction phase of this terrific project.
Thank you for your continued help and support. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you and your family.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga
Some Excerpts from a Baltimore Sun article
The "Progressive" hysteria is getting tiresome.
The O'Malley administration proposed a rule in its final weeks that would have required a 48 percent reduction by 2020 in emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides at four coal-burning plants in the Baltimore and Washington areas.
Hogan blocked publication of it within hours of being sworn in, along with four other O'Malley regulations about to be finalized, saying he wanted to take a closer look at them. The other held-up rules have since been released or reproposed, including the controversial plan to curtail Eastern Shore farmers' use of chicken manure as fertilizer.
...NRG, which owns two Washington-area plants, opposed the regulation, warning the costs of installing required pollution controls could force the company to shut down its plants and lay off hundreds of workers. An NRG spokesman contends air quality can be improved with "other alternative, innovative and cost-effective control technologies or approaches."
Friday, April 3, 2015
Taxpayers abandoned his state in droves during his tenure as governor, but that’s not dampening the presidential aspirations of Martin O’Malley. In 2014, his final year in office as governor, Maryland had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Now he wants to ride this embarrassing record to the White House.
At the Brookings Institution in March, O’Malley test-drove some campaign rhetoric: “Behind all of our data, there are people, living their lives, shouldering their struggles. They deserve a government that works.”
Unfortunately, in the state O’Malley governed for eight years, he gave deserving Marylanders anything but a state government that worked. Today, Marylanders endure the real O’Malley legacy: higher taxes, pink slips, process servers, tax liens, and foreclosures.
Maryland is blessed with a relatively stable and well-paid federal presence thanks to its key military installations and its proximity to Washington, D.C. We have one of the nation’s best seaports and logistical networks of railways and highways. But even with this foundation, the governor drove jobs and businesses away.
The result? In one of the biggest upsets in the country, Maryland voted in a Republican governor last November. Marylanders bounced O’Malley’s heir apparent, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, out of Annapolis and voted in Republican Larry Hogan to clean up the mess.
Jim Pettit, Hogan’s policy analyst, helped chronicle the damage done during the O’Malley-Brown years: A pile of 40 tax, fee, and toll increases created an additional yearly tax burden of $3.1 billion on top of what Marylanders were paying the day O’Malley was elected.
Did this drive taxpayers out of Maryland? Not according to progressive orthodoxy, but the IRS measures changes in the tax base for every state and county in the nation. Candidate-for-governor Brown was caught flat-footed trying to address this issue. During the first O’Malley term, when the majority of new levies kicked in, Maryland accounted for the largest taxpayer exodus in the Mid-Atlantic region — more than 31,000 between 2007 and 2010. The tax base in Baltimore City, Maryland’s most populous city, declined the most: Its 1.4 percent decrease topped all other Maryland jurisdictions.
Thanks to O’Malley’s tax policy, Virginia is now home to 11,455 former Marylanders, who took 390 million taxable dollars across the Potomac with them between 2007 and 2010. Nationwide, O’Malley’s Maryland also stacks up poorly, joining New York, California, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey in taxpayer abandonment. In only three of O’Malley’s eight years in office, Maryland lost more taxpayers than 43 other states. This exodus cost Maryland a whopping $1.7 billion in taxable revenues.
Another telling measurement of the previous governor’s “accomplishments” is Maryland’s foreclosure rate. At the end of 2014, Maryland ranked second-highest in the nation in foreclosures. The Washington suburb of Prince George’s County had the largest share. This heavily African-American county supported O’Malley in both of his statewide races. He repaid the county with foreclosures and economic distress.
Environmental extremism is another O’Malley signature issue. The governor’s “rain tax” (collected on quarterly water bills) made Maryland a national laughingstock. Small businesses weren’t laughing, though, when their water bills skyrocketed in 2013. Baltimore’s elderly, struggling on fixed incomes and already pressed by crime and collapsing neighborhoods, now face liens thanks to the rain tax.
O’Malley also botched an opportunity to validate big government with the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland. Managed by none other than Lieutenant Governor Brown, the administration squandered millions on Maryland’s health exchange and then burned millions more to start over. Brown blamed appointed officials lower down the totem pole.
Finally, who can forget the debacle of the state-run prison in Baltimore? Gangs took over the facility, ran criminal enterprises, and impregnated female guards. O’Malley’s much-vaunted government-performance metric, “state stat,” failed to quantify the contraband reaching inmates. We didn’t hear very much about data being used for effective governance then.
In 2007, Martin O’Malley came to office on a promise of better, cleaner government — the same promise he made at Brookings this month. Instead, under eight years of O’Malley, quality of life in Maryland deteriorated, jobs and businesses fled to Virginia, workers were crushed by new taxation, and we saw chronic budget deficits.
As governor, O’Malley displayed none of the qualities of an effective national leader: devotion to the people, courage, and independence. O’Malley had an opportunity in Annapolis to convince Marylanders that he was such a leader. He failed. Today Maryland is poorer for the experience.
If O’Malley is elected president, count on more government, more taxation, more regulation, and a government even more detached from the Constitution than the current one is. O’Malley was bad for Maryland. He’ll be bad for the country.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
A bill that could grant a tax break to neighbors of Baltimore County’s landfill in White Marsh passed the House Tuesday, over opposition from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.Here is a press release describing Harford County's agreement with Baltimore County. It should be noted that "residents" of Harford County will NOT be able to drop off items at The White Marsh Landfill. After Scarborough shuts down in 2016, they will have to pay private contractors to dispose of items that would have formerly been disposed of at Scarborough.
The measure, approved 130 to 6, would let the county grant a property tax credit to as many as 104 homeowners living near the landfill.
Lawmakers were moved to act by complaints from long-time residents about noise, dust and odors from the 375-acre landfill. Neighbors say they fear impacts will worsen next year, when the county opens a transfer station at the landfill to process trash from Harford County.
Kamenetz opposes what he has called a “tax giveaway,” warning that he wouldn’t be able to pay for upgrades to county schools if it passed. He wrote parents of Dulaney and Pikesville high school students asking them to lobby against the legislation, which irritated some of the lawmakers he was trying to influence.
Under the bill, it would still be up to the County Council to decide whether to grant the tax credits. The break could cost the county $245,500 a year in revenue, according to legislative analysts. But the bill would require the county to offset the lost revenue by raising tipping fees, which totaled $1.5 million last year. The credits would end once the county stops taking Harford’s trash.
“There need to be some adjustments,” said Del. Stephen W. Lafferty, chairman of the county’s House delegation, to “get the county to take some action supportive of the community....I hope it’s a message to the county as well that they really need to look at how facilities are placed.”
A Kamenetz spokesman said he had no comment on the House vote. The Senate passed a nearly identical version of the bill, 43-1, earlier this month.