Friday, December 30, 2016

Reality Finally Sets In for Hogan

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan, who refused to support Donald Trump's election, will attend his inauguration.

The Republican governor received an invitation and will attend the ceremony with his wife, Yumi Hogan, in Washington Jan. 20, the Governor's Office said Friday.

During the campaign, Hogan expressed disdain for Trump's candidacy and vowed not to vote for him even after Trump clinched the Republican Party's nomination.

Hogan announced that he had cast his vote for his father, former U.S. Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. The senior Hogan was also the last Republican to serve as Prince George's County executive.

After the election, Hogan congratulated Trump and predicted he would have a good working relationship with the White House. Hogan has called the vice president-elect, Mike Pence of Indiana, one of his closest friends among the nation's governors.

Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said Hogan is "committed to working with the incoming Trump administration just as he has successfully worked with the Obama administration to promote what is in Maryland's best interest."

Chasse said Hogan believes the areas where Maryland can work closely with the Trump administration include economic development and transportation infrastructure.

"He looks forward to having an open dialogue with the President-elect and his team," Chasse said. She declined to say whether the two have spoken since the election.

Hogan will join another renegade Republican governor, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, in attending the inauguration at Trump's invitation.

The Boston Globe reported that Baker, who had opposed Trump in harsher terms than the Maryland governor, said that after the election he had a brief but cordial telephone conversation with Trump.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trump Meets w/Local Medical Experts

from the Baltimore Sun
Dr. Paul B. Rothman, the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, met with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday along with other medical leaders to discuss reform efforts at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A senior transition official said Trump is considering a public-private option that would allow veterans to seek care from private hospitals.

"It's one of the options on the table," the official said. "Definitely an option on the table [is] to have a system where, potentially, vets can choose."

Rothman was joined by Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic; Cleveland Clinic CEO Delos "Toby" Cosgrove and Boston-based Partners HealthCare chief David Torchiana.

The meeting was held at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump is spending the holidays.

"I am thankful and encouraged by the president-elect's interest in meeting with leaders from several of the country's health care and research institutions," Rothman said in a statement.

"I believe Mr. Trump's interest reflects his recognition of the critical importance of health care and biomedical research to the country," he added.

In a statement, the Mayo Clinic said Noseworthy accepted the invitation from Trump to "share his perspective on the future of health care delivery, research and excellence."

Neither statement offered details about the conversation.

Friday, December 23, 2016

What Constitutes a Successful Presidency?

Bringing Your Golf Handicap from a 17 to an "honest" 14

May the President bring it down to a 10 during his next 8 years in retirement...

I-95 from Aberdeen Proving Ground to be Designated Automated Vehicle Testing Corridor

From the Maryland Department of Transportation (via The Dagger):
Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete K. Rahn today announced that the state has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to designate a portion of the Interstate 95 (I-95) corridor in Maryland as a future Automated Vehicle (AV) testing and deployment area. The application is in response to USDOT’s notice of intent to designate a select number of “proving grounds” across the country, which will help accelerate the development of AV technology to achieve a better understanding of the long-term impacts of self-driving vehicles. Maryland’s proposal includes the I-95 corridor from Aberdeen Proving Ground to the Fort Meade/University of Maryland region, and includes multiple public roadways, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall), and existing public/private research and testing facilities throughout this region.

“The I-95 Corridor in Maryland is the ideal one-stop-shop for real-world testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Rahn. “This corridor is strategically positioned along the thriving east coast and combines a wealth of existing facilities, along with unique testing opportunities at the Port of Baltimore and BWI Airport.”

Maryland’s proposal takes advantage of existing development, testing, partnerships and investments in AV technology along the I-95 corridor and includes:
• Existing facilities already developing and testing AV technologies, including Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, the Center for Entrepreneurship in Howard County, and the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory in Prince George’s County;

• MDOT-owned facilities to provide future simulated and real-world testing environments, including the electronic toll lanes along I-95, the Port of Baltimore for freight operations, and BWI Marshall for passenger shuttle transportation; and

• Private-sector companies already planning development and manufacturing of AV components within the next two years.
The application does not allow immediate testing of self-driving vehicles on public roadways. Designated facilities should be ready to test AV technologies by January 1, 2018. Although no federal funding is associated with the initial designation, it could lead to future federal funding and economic development opportunities for Maryland. Eligible entities include test tracks/testing facilities, race tracks, cities/urban areas, highway corridors, and campuses.

“We are in the process of developing clear policies and procedures for companies eager to test AV technologies on public roads in Maryland,” said Christine E. Nizer, MDOT’s Motor Vehicle Administrator and Chair of the Maryland Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Working Group. “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform how we live and work, and while we are open for business and eager to realize the life-saving and economic benefits of this innovative technology, we will always ensure safety comes first.”

The application follows the recommendations of the Maryland Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Working Group, which was established by Secretary Rahn in December 2015. The Working Group handles strategic planning for MDOT concerning autonomous and connected vehicles. The group includes a diverse membership of transportation stakeholders, including elected officials, state and local agency representatives, highway safety organizations, representatives from the private sector and automotive industry. The group evaluates the latest research, tracks federal and state laws, policies and programs, and coordinates with other agencies, organizations and businesses to set the course for the future of automated and connected vehicles in Maryland.

USDOT will announce the initial list of AV Proving Grounds during the first quarter of 2017.
Welcome to the new rat race, my little Harford County guinea pigs! Don't get run over!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 in Perspective

from HotAir
National popular vote now final: Clinton finishes 2.1 points ahead, Trump has highest vote total ever for a Republican

Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight has been tracking the numbers day by day for weeks and says they’re now official.
All 50 states + DC now certified: Clinton: 65,844,610 (48.2%) Trump: 62,979,636 (46.1%) Others: 7,804,213 (5.7%)

Trump’s total of nearly 63 million votes is almost a million votes better than the second-largest total by a Republican in history. You might guess that that distinction belongs to Mitt Romney; after all, with the population increasing every four years, chances are that each successive nominee will bank more votes than the last. Not so, though. Romney has the third-most votes by a Republican in history. McCain has the fourth-largest amount. Second place belongs to George W. Bush, who received a little more than 62 million votes for his reelection bid in 2004, a gigantic improvement of nearly 12 million ballots over his 2000 total. Both parties’ voters were out in force in 2004 for the first presidential election since 9/11 and the Iraq war. It took 12 years of population growth before Republicans were able to improve on Dubya’s total, but Trump did it. Bush’s 2004 campaign does retain one title, though: It’s the only time in the last 25 years that a Republican has won the popular vote.

As for Hillary, her margin over Trump of more than two points was four times as large as that of Al Gore, the last popular-vote winner to lose the electoral college, who won by half a point in 2000. She finished with the third-most votes of any presidential candidate in history, just slightly behind Obama’s 2012 mark (by less than 60,000 votes) and more than 3.5 million votes behind his blockbuster 2008 total, which remains the biggest haul in American history. At 69.4 million votes, it’s possible that O’s 2008 benchmark will survive 2020 as well. As for which national pollster ended up getting closest to the mark, none were spot on — but the overall RCP average, projecting a win of 3.3 points by Clinton, wasn’t far from the target:

Only two polls measured correctly that Clinton would hit 48 percent and no poll had Trump doing as well as 46 percent. IBD/TIPP was the only one to have him as high as 45 percent — and ironically, IBD/TIPP was the lone survey that missed the mark overall by predicting that he would end up with more votes than Clinton. Tough year for the data nerds.

2016 Presidential Election - The Official Results


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trump Can End the War on Cops

from the Wall Street Journal
Trump Can End the War on Cops 
Stop treating police as racist and pushing lower hiring standards as a way to achieve ‘diversity.’

By HEATHER MAC DONALD

Donald Trump’s promise to restore law and order to America’s cities was one of the most powerful themes of his presidential campaign. His capacity to deliver will depend on changing destructive presidential rhetoric about law enforcement and replacing the federal policies that flowed from that rhetoric.

The rising violence in many urban areas is driven by what candidate Trump called a “false narrative” about policing. This narrative holds that law enforcement is pervaded by racism, and that we are experiencing an epidemic of racially biased police shootings of black men.
 

Multiple studies have shown that those claims are untrue. If there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. Yet President Obama has repeatedly accused the police and criminal-justice system of discrimination, lethal and otherwise. During the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down in July by an assassin who reportedly was inspired by Black Lives Matter, Mr. Obama announced that black parents were right to “fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door”—that the child will be fatally shot by a cop.
 

The consequences of such presidential rhetoric are enormous, especially when amplified by the media. Officers working in high-crime areas now encounter a dangerous level of hatred and violent resistance. Gun murders of officers are up 68% this year compared with the same period last year.
Police have cut way back on pedestrian stops and public-order enforcement in minority neighborhoods, having been told repeatedly that such discretionary activities are racially oppressive. The result in 2015 was the largest national homicide increase in nearly 50 years. That shooting spree has continued this year, ruthlessly mowing down children and senior citizens in many cities, along with the usual toll of young black men who are the primary targets of gun crime. 

To begin to reverse these trends, President Trump must declare that the executive branch’s ideological war on cops is over. The most fundamental necessity of any society is adherence to the rule of law, he should say. Moreover, there is no government agency today more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.
 

The nationwide policing revolution that originated in New York City in 1994—based on proactive enforcement—saved thousands of minority lives over 20 years, and provided urban residents with newfound freedom. While police agencies and their local overseers must remain vigilant against officer abuses, the federal government will no longer deem cops racist for responding to community demands for public order.
 
Mr. Obama’s Justice Department has imposed an unprecedented number of federal consent decrees on police agencies, subjecting those agencies to years of costly federal monitoring, based on a specious methodology for teasing out alleged systemic police bias. The department assumes that police activity like stops or arrests will be evenly spread across different racial and ethnic populations unless there is police racism. So if police stops are higher among blacks, say, the police, according to this reasoning, must be motivated by bias. 

But this analysis ignores the large racial differences in offending and victimization rates. Policing today is data-driven: Cops go where innocent civilians are most being preyed upon—and that is in minority neighborhoods. Under a Trump administration, police activity should be evaluated against a benchmark of crime, not population ratios.
 

The next administration should continue the new FBI initiative to collect and publish data on all officer use of force. But such information must be accompanied by information on local crime rates, since police force will occur most frequently where cops encounter armed and resisting suspects.
 

The next U.S. attorney general—Mr. Trump has nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions—should articulate the standards that will guide Justice Department lawyers in opening a civil-rights investigation of a police department, a process that has been shrouded in mystery.
 

An October purge in New York City illustrates why it is so important to appoint a leader for the Justice Department’s civil rights division who understands the realities of crime and policing. FBI agents and federal prosecutors based in New York had been investigating whether to criminally indict a New York police officer for the 2014 death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner; the agents and lawyers had found little ground for doing so. Their reluctance to indict did not sit well with the Washington-based attorneys in Justice’s civil rights division. So U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch removed the New York team and replaced them with attorneys from the civil rights division. The Trump administration should closely review whatever charges result.
 

Crime-fighting is overwhelmingly a local matter. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, however, U.S. attorneys and federal agents worked successfully with local police forces to prosecute violent street crime under strengthened federal penalties for gun offenses and drug trafficking.
 

In recent years, though, attention to violent crime has slackened in many federal prosecutors’ offices, not coincidentally as Mr. Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were criticizing federal gun- and drug-crime sentencing for contributing to the “mass incarceration” of minorities. The next Justice Department should review whether federal law-enforcement personnel in the most crime-plagued cities such as Chicago should refocus on fighting gun violence.
 

The current Justice Department has ordered more than 28,000 federal law-enforcement officers and prosecutors into “implicit bias” training—a form of sensitivity re-education aimed at teaching police how to combat their own alleged subliminal bias. The new attorney general should cancel this initiative and lift the pressure on local police departments to put their own officers through this wasteful exercise.
 

In October, the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended that police agencies lower their hiring standards—including requirements that applicants have a clean criminal record—to achieve “diversity.” The thinking behind this recommendation must be repudiated. Lowered hiring standards are a recipe for corruption and tactical errors. The The Justice Department’s own research in Philadelphia suggests that minority officers are more likely than white officers to shoot unarmed black males.
 

Mr. Trump has rightly observed that “crime and violence is an attack on the poor,” adding that such violence “will never be accepted in a Trump administration.” If President Trump can restore the legitimacy of lawful proactive policing, fewer Americans will have to accept a life bounded by fear.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pugh Delivers Message to Trump from George Soros Fans

>from the Baltimore Sun
A civic activism group held a daylong summit in Baltimore Saturday, where new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and others discussed ways to approach some of the city's systemic problems.

The Open Society Institute-Baltimore's Solutions Summit was held at the War Memorial building from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The group calls drug addiction, criminal justice and education issues the biggest problems affecting Baltimore and Maryland.

Participants in a series of forums discussed policies to address behavioral health, criminal and juvenile justice, jobs and racial equity.

Forum participants voted on the recommendations they want Baltimore's new mayor and City Council to consider.

Event speakers include Pugh, University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke (a former mayor) and Sherilynn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

There was food, performances from spoken word artists and displays of pieces from MICA's recent "Baltimore Rising" exhibit.
---

from the Baltimore Sun
Pugh hands Trump letter noting city's 'needs'

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh says she has given President-elect Donald Trump a letter describing the city's need for federal money.

Pugh, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican, met Saturday afternoon at the Army-Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium.

"With @realDonaldTrump in Baltimore I delivered a letter noting importance of our infrastructure needs & need for investment of federal funds," Pugh tweeted after the encounter. She included a photo of the pair shaking hands.

The exchange came two days after the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn Trump's rhetoric.

Trump campaigned on promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall along the Southwest Border and bar Muslims from entering the country.

In its first official act, the council approved a resolution Thursday opposing Trump's "divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice."

Pugh had said she would try to persuade Trump to funnel more federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Trump's attendance at the Army-Navy game was his first public appearance in Maryland since the election last month.

Nearly 200 protesters circled M&T Bank Stadium before his arrival. Marchers chanted "No Hate. No Fear. Immigrants are Welcome Here." and "We reject the president-elect," and wielded signs that read "Dump Trump," "Resist" and "Make Fascists Hide Again."

Friday, December 9, 2016

Selective Law Enforcement Has Consequences, Doesn't it?

from American Thinker
Mayor of Oakland warns against ‘scapegoating’ lavishly paid city employees who failed to inspect deathtrap warehouse in 30 years

The Ghost Ship warehouse/artists’ colony fire makes for a compelling drama. And everyone knows that for a drama, you need villains, especially when a tragedy is as vivid as the horrible deaths of 36 mostly young adult creative explorers.

The mainstream media found a ready made figure in Derick Almena, the man who rented the warehouse and set up the colony, whose solipsistic tweets focused on his own suffering not the fire victims.

His appearance on the Today Show could be a textbook example for PR consultants to use in warning their clients who have just experienced a disaster.
But now that the news is out that this obvious firetrap, complained about by neighbors, was never inspected in the last 30 years, people, including many Oakland residents, wonder why he city government allowed this predictable tragedy to unfold.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is understandably concerned about being perceived to have dropped the ball:
“I want to be clear that we will not scapegoat city employees in the wake of this disaster. What we will do is give them clarity and support that they deserve,” Schaaf said.
Support? Let’s start with financial support. Our own Michael Bargo, Jr. looked up the pay that is lavished on the senior officials who should not have allowed this to happen, and found some shocking information:
…in 2015, Craig K. Chew, the assistant chief of inspectors, made $362,211, $147,000 of which was "benefits." The Alameda County administrator Susan Muranishi made $729,162 in 2015, of which $313,503 was in "benefits," which included bonuses.

The Alameda County sheriff, Greg Ahern, made $627,935 in that one year.
For that kind of money, and that kind of job security (notice that nobody has whispered a word about firing or even disciplining the “public servants” who allowed this travesty to happen by failing in their basic job duty for decades), can't we expect a level of commitment to duty above and beyond the oridinary?

Do how did they do, these one percenters? The East Bay Express reports:
Last Saturday morning, as first responders began to enter its smoldering rubble in search of victims, several Oakland Fire Department employees looked up the warehouse’s fire-code inspection history. But when they attempted to pull records for 1315 31st Avenue from their own fire-prevention bureau’s files, they discovered nothing.

“It's not even in the system,” one firefighter said (he asked not be identified for fear of retaliation from the city for speaking out).

Since the tragedy, he and five other firefighters have explained to the Expresshow the department's building-inspection program, which should be the front line of fire prevention and safety, is dangerously under-staffed and disorganized.

In fact, there are just six fire inspectors for the entire City of Oakland, left to investigate more than 4,200 commercial and residential properties each year.

These firefighters also blamed Oakland Fire Chief Theresa Deloach Reed for failing to hire for key leadership positions in the fire prevention bureau.

For years, the OFD also has been chronically under-funded. Firefighters told the Express that they’re made to work long, grueling overtime hours, because there are too few emergency responders to adequately protect the city without extra shifts.
Maybe it is understaffed because it pays the second banana inspector $362,000? I wonder if really good assistant managers might be available for half that amount?

But what about all those other hard-working city employees, the ones down in the trenches? CBS SF Bay Area reports:
…it has become clear that while both child protective services and even Oakland police officers had been inside the Ghost City warehouse, no one had contacted building inspectors about what they saw.

It’s the old “that’s not on my job description” mentality. I have noticed over the course of my life that this attitude, related to the “work-to-rule” tactic often adopted by public employees who are unable to strike, is limited to public employees and also workers at large, bureaucratic organizations on their way to decline and bankruptcy, unless revived and culturally changed by someone like Mitt Romney. It is a very common cultural pathology of rigid, ineffective bureaucrcies.

I would really like to know if Mayor Schaaf thinks that the police and child protective workers who saw the interior of the death trap and did nothing should not be “scapegoated”?
Actually the problem is worse. The city of Oakland's liberal mayor was supporting the "starving artist cause" by ensuring that the government never enforced city ordinances that other "less enlightened mortals" must all follow, like building and fire codes. It's like their "sanctuary cities" that never enforce immigration law. Government officials are making HUGE salaries through non-enforcement of law. Are the resident who vote them in THAT stupid? Nope, they pay them to NOT provide public safety and provide the services that every other sane community demands. They are too cool and too hip to comply with common sense legal structures.

Geert Wilders Earns His Scarlet Letter

from the NY Times
AMSTERDAM — Geert Wilders, the far-right politician who is seen as a likely contender to become prime minister when Dutch voters go to the polls next year, was convicted on Friday of inciting discrimination and of insulting a group for saying that the Netherlands would be safer with fewer Moroccans.

The three-member judiciary panel found that Mr. Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom, had violated Dutch law for remarks he made on March 19, 2014, around the time of municipal elections in The Hague, but it elected not to convict him of inciting hatred and rejected the prosecutors’ request to fine him 5,000 euros, or about $5,300.

Mr. Wilders was found not guilty of hate-speech charges in connection with comments he made about Moroccans in a nationally broadcast TV program filmed at a public market a week earlier, but he was found to have violated laws on inciting discrimination when he led a crowd at a political rally in chanting “fewer, fewer” to the question, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?”

Mr. Wilders, whose defense team said he would appeal the decision next week, was not present when the verdict was read by the chief judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, at a secured courtroom on a military base near Schiphol Airport, outside Amsterdam.

The site was chosen to protect Mr. Wilders, who has been under constant guard because of death threats related to a long history of inflammatory comments, as well as the judge and prosecutors.

“The most important thing is that he is found guilty of group insult and inciting discrimination,” said a spokesman for the public prosecution service, Frans Zonneveld. “For now, we’re very satisfied that he has been found guilty of these two charges.”

In their ruling, the judges said that Mr. Wilders’s comments at the rally had contributed to the further polarization of Dutch society, and that mutual respect was imperative in the “pluralistic” Netherlands.

“He said that he was supported by millions of people and therefore was not to blame of offending a group,” Judge Steenhuis said. “It’s important to answer the question of whether he was guilty of this. That question is answered in our court system. We state that you cannot offend groups of people and discriminate against them.”

Mr. Wilders received no punishment.

Mr. Wilders, who has taken a page out of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s playbook and adopted the campaign slogan “Make the Netherlands Great Again,” has repeatedly made vitriolic and inflammatory remarks about Islam, the Quran, immigrants and Dutch minority groups. Since the election of Mr. Trump, the Party for Freedom has been surging in the polls.

“Three PVV hating judges declare that Moroccans are a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands,” Mr. Wilders said on Twitter almost immediately after the verdict was announced, using the Dutch acronym for his party. “Madness.”

Peter Kanne, a pollster with I&O Research, an independent Dutch polling organization, said the most recent data, released on Nov. 25, indicated that the Party for Freedom had gained support and was currently about even with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the liberal party.

“What you see is that the trial of Geert Wilders is working to his benefit,” Mr. Kanne said by telephone on Thursday. “I don’t know if this will be a long-term effect, and we can’t tell if it will still be this way in one or two months.”

Those I&O Research interviewed about their support for the Party for Freedom said that Mr. Wilders’s trial was one of several topical factors that might influence their vote.

“A lot of people mentioned that they’re really getting angry that he is being accused and judged only for what he said,” Mr. Kanne said. “They think that he said something that is true, and they’re very angry that a politician cannot say that in a society where there is freedom of speech.”

Just before the official court proceedings began on Oct. 31, Mr. Wilders said on his blog that he would boycott what he called “a travesty” against freedom of speech.

He changed his mind, however, and appeared in court on Nov. 23 to testify during the defense’s closing arguments. Regardless of the verdict, he said, “no one will be able to silence me,” after describing how he has lived with constant protection since 2004 because he fears for his life.

“I need to use the only freedom that I still have to protect our country against Islam and against terrorism,” he continued, in remarks that were delivered in Dutch and published in full in English on his website. “Against immigration from Islamic countries. Against the huge problem with Moroccans in the Netherlands. I cannot remain silent about it; I have to speak out. That is my duty, I have to address it, I must warn for it, I have to propose solutions for it.”

Mr. Wilders said he could not be found guilty of racism, arguing that Moroccans were not a race. “Not a single nationality is a race,” he said. “Belgians are no race, Americans are no race. Stop this nonsense, I say to the public prosecutor. I am not a racist, and my voters are neither.”

In their ruling, the judges said that Mr. Wilders had “in a manner that was clear and explicit to everyone, identified a group of fellow citizens by referring to their common origin. He used their nationality as ethnic designation.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Establishment" Retains Control of Maryland Republican Party

from the Baltimore Sun
Dirk Haire, longtime counsel to the Maryland Republican Party and to the campaign of Gov. Larry Hogan, will be the state GOP's chairman for the next two years.

Haire beat runner-up William Campbell by a 4-1 margin in the leadership election Saturday, said Joe Cluster, the state party's executive director. Campbell is a former Amtrak official who has run for state comptroller.

Cluster said Haire is a good choice for the role because he has worked closely with party leaders for a decade.

"It keeps continuity," Cluster said. "There's been a lot of efforts to build up the party, and he's been part of those efforts."

Haire was supported by state Del. Kathy Szeliga, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the election last month. Hogan opted not to make an endorsement in the party leadership contest.

Haire is a construction law attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP in Washington.

The state GOP is focused on 2018, when Gov. Larry Hogan tries to become the first two-term Republican governor in Maryland since Theodore McKeldin, who served from 1951 to 1959.

A Hogan win in 2018 would give Republicans a role in the next round of legislative and congressional redistricting in 2021. Democrats have dominated that process, turning a state that sent four Democrats and four Republicans to the House in 2001 to one that now sends seven Democrats and one Republican.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by more than two to one.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Maryland Republicans Eye New Leadership

from the Baltimore sun
A month after a presidential election in which voters reaffirmed Maryland's position as one of the bluest states in the nation, state Republicans will gather Saturday to choose new leadership — a contest likely to signal the direction the party will take heading into the 2018 governor's race.

Four candidates are running for a shot to lead the Maryland Republican Party, which will play a central role in working to re-elect GOP Gov. Larry Hogan and prove that his upset win two years ago in a Democratic state was not a fluke. The job will also involve bringing together a fractious party split even further this year by President-elect Donald Trump's campaign for the White House.

Some Republicans said they view the race as the latest internal struggle between long-established centrists and newcomers who backed Trump's campaign. Whatever the outcome, Republicans seem to agree that re-electing Hogan in 2018 is the paramount goal.

"2018 is the biggest election of our lives," said Brian Griffiths, a former member of the GOP's executive committee and influential blogger. "Once Governor Hogan wins, that means the Democrats will not control redistricting, and then we can draw fair congressional districts for the first time in generations."

Officials are due to draw new congressional and legislative districts during the term of the next governor in 2021. In the past, Democrats have dominated that process, which has allowed them to turn a state that sent four Democrats and four Republicans to the House in 2001 to one that now sends seven Democrats and one Republican.

A Hogan re-election would give Republicans some say in the next round of redistricting. The governor has backed an independent process, as is practiced in California, New Jersey and other states.

Hogan has not made an endorsement in the contest for the party chairmanship — even though it will be important for him to have an ally in the position. Steve Crim, Hogan's 2014 campaign manager and current political adviser, said the governor decided to stay out of the internal race because he "believes in grass roots-up leadership."

One candidate for the job, Sajid Tarar of Owings Mills, was the head of American Muslims for Trump. He spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this year, which Hogan decided against attending.

Tarar "is a terrific fit for the chairman of the party and is exactly what we need to show the world that we are indeed inclusive of everyone," said Joe Collins Jr., a member of the Baltimore City Republican Central Committee who helped organize Trump's campaign in Maryland.

"As far as I am concerned, there is no other qualified candidate to run the party, and the others running for chair are ancient relics of a party that is done with the same old cliches and busted ideas," he said.

Others — including state Del. Kathy Szeliga of Baltimore County, who ran a disciplined but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for Maryland's open Senate seat this year — are backing Dirk Haire, a lawyer and longtime party activist who has also served as Hogan's campaign attorney.

"He is smart and helpful and involved," Szeliga said. "He possesses all the qualities that I think are necessary."

The next chairman is to be selected by more than 300 county party officials on Saturday and will serve a two-year term. The winner will replace Diana Waterman.

"The biggest job of the next chairman and the next leadership will be to make sure that we re-elect Governor Hogan and hold our seats in General Assembly," Waterman said.

Maryland Republicans had an outstanding year in 2014. Not only did Hogan beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in an upset, the party picked up several seats in the General Assembly.

Since those successes, the state GOP has also significantly improved its fundraising.

But while the wins had some state Republicans pining for a more purple Maryland, last month's presidential election appeared to deflate those aspirations. Democrat Hillary Clinton captured nearly 60 percent of the Maryland vote, giving her one of her largest margins of victory anywhere in the country.

State Republicans caution against reading much into the results in a presidential election year, when turnout is traditionally higher than in gubernatorial election years.

They also point to Hogan's high popularity, which has crested 70 percent in Baltimore, a Democratic stronghold, along with more traditionally Republican parts of the state.

Several Democrats, including Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, are considering challenging Hogan in 2018.

The other candidates running for the Republican Party chairmanship include William Campbell, a former Amtrak official who has previously run for state comptroller, and William T. Newton, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Maryland's 7th Congressional District this year.

Tarar said he wanted to focus on expanding the party's tent, "opening up the doors for diversity," and building a connection between Trump's White House and the Hogan administration. He said he was disappointed Trump didn't perform better in Maryland, which has not backed a Republican for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

"I was hoping for and I was looking forward to the state of Maryland becoming a red state," he said. "That's one of the reasons why I'm running."

Haire agreed.

"Maryland has historically been a difficult state for Republicans," he said. "I believe we are making very good progress on changing that."

Is Donald Trump Heading Down the Dark Side?

from Young Conservatives
I am ecstatic for Carrier employees! Their bosses just decided to keep shop onshore. What a relief for hundreds of workers. Merry Christmas Indiana!

We don’t yet know terms of the public/private deal that was cut to make the company stay, but let’s hope every business is equally incentivized to keep Americans working in America.

Foundational to our exceptional nation’s sacred private property rights, a business must have freedom to locate where it wishes. In a free market, if a business makes a mistake (including a marketing mistake that perhaps Carrier executives made), threatening to move elsewhere claiming efficiency’s sake, then the market’s invisible hand punishes. Thankfully, that same hand rewards, based on good business decisions.

But this time-tested truth assumes we’re operating on a level playing field.

When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail.

Politicians picking and choosing recipients of corporate welfare is railed against by fiscal conservatives, for it’s a hallmark of corruption. And socialism. The Obama Administration dealt in it in spades. Recall Solyndra, Stimulus boondoggles, and all their other taxpayer-subsidized anchors on our economy. A $20 trillion debt-ridden country can’t afford this sinfully stupid practice, so vigilantly guard against its continuance, or we’re doomed.

Reaganites learned it is POLICY change that changes economic trajectory. Reagan’s successes were built on establishing a fiscal framework that invigorated our entire economy, revitalized growth and investment while decreasing spending, tax rates, over-reaching regulations, unemployment, and favoritism via individual subsidies. We need Reaganites in the new Administration.

However well meaning, burdensome federal government imposition is never the solution. Never. Not in our homes, not in our schools, not in churches, not in businesses.

Gotta’ have faith the Trump team knows all this. And I’ll be the first to acknowledge concerns over a deal cut by leveraging taxpayer interests to make a manufacturer stay put are unfounded – once terms are made public.

But know that fundamentally, political intrusion using a stick or carrot to bribe or force one individual business to do what politicians insist, versus establishing policy incentivizing our ENTIRE ethical economic engine to roar back to life, isn’t the answer. Cajole only chosen ones on Main St or Wall St and watch lines stretch from Washington to Alaska full of businesses threatening to bail unless taxpayers pony up. The lines strangle competition and really, really, dispiritingly screw with workers’ lives. It’s beyond unacceptable, so let’s anticipate equal incentivizes and positive reform all across the field – to make the economy great again.

-Sarah Palin

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Update 12/4/16

Trump recently Posted:
The U.S. is going to substantialy reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. ...... without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!

There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies wanting to sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border. This tax will make leaving financially difficult, but.....these companies are able to move between all 50 states, with no tax or tariff being charged.

Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake! THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!