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July 4, 1776 – 232 years ago these words were approved by Congress.

Posted by Ed C on Thursday, July 3, 2008

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

The complete text and information on the signers, drafts and much is available at ushistory.org.

Have a happy and safe July 4th.

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Posted in Ed C, General | Leave a Comment »

Relax, the current 110th congressional session is 90% complete.

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yep, here we are at the end of June, and the congressional session is almost finished. According to Nancy Pelosi (from Human Events: Pelosi Supports ‘Fairness Doctrine):

Pelosi pointed out that, after it returns from its Fourth of July recess, the House will only meet for another three weeks in July and three weeks in the fall.

When I read this in passing I thought this can’t be right, Congress is scheduled to meet just 6 weeks from the end of June through the November elections? Six weeks out of the next eighteen, and by six weeks I think they really mean three day Tue-Thur type ‘weeks’.

With pending FISA legislation, Energy policy, court appointments (cough, cough), spending bills, emergency spending bills and all of that pork to pass, national whatever-day, week, year declarations…, and that’s all they can mange?

Not that they make it easy to figure out. The complete house schedule is below the jump, but other than the helpful reminders that Daylight Saving Time ends Nov 2 and that Election day is Nov 4th for Republicans and for Democrats, begins Nov 5th runs through the December 15th, or whenever the last court challenge is settled by the Supreme Court, you need to subtract out the ‘District Work Periods’ to figure out when they will actually be in session.

A note about those court appointments from Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) Democrats Press Judicial Obstruction Campaign:

… Using the appropriate yardstick of the last seven presidential election Congresses, we are today more then 90% finished with our days in session but have so far given a hearing to less than one-third and confirmed only half as many appeals court nominees. As a result, President Bush’s judicial confirmation total lags far beyond his predecessors’, 305 to 357 at this point in their respective presidencies.

Such a deliberate slowdown is otherwise known as obstruction. Democrats keep changing their standards, ignoring long-pending nominees, and taking whatever steps are necessary to suppress judicial confirmations. The list of changing standards grows all the time. At the end of the Clinton administration, for example, the Democratic minority demanded that hearings and confirmations continue to the end of the year. They offered as a guide the presidential election year 1992, when the Judiciary Committee held hearings until September 24 and the Senate confirmed nominees until October 8, the day before final adjournment. In 1992, the Senate confirmed 64 judges, 11 to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

I guess this just another example of that ‘moving bar’ that Michelle Obama was speaking about during her speech 3/14/08 at Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA.

House Schedule below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ed C, General | 1 Comment »

Why Jefferson-Jackson?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, June 15, 2008

Throughout the county, local Republican and Democratic parties hold annual fund raisers / dinners. The Republican events are usually called Lincoln Day (or lately Lincoln-Regan.) For the Democrats, it is usually the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. I can understand the nod to Thomas Jefferson, but why Andrew Jackson?

Maybe this entry from Wikipedia on Campaign Finance Reform provides the answer:

In order to gain votes from recently enfranchised, unpropertied voters, Andrew Jackson launched his campaign for the 1828 election through a network of partisan newspapers across the nation. After his election, Jackson began a political patronage system that rewarded political party operatives, which had a profound effect on future elections. Eventually, appointees were expected to contribute portions of their pay back to the political machine.

Does union dues count as a required contribution to the political machine? It appears that the patronage system, partisan newspapers and the political kickbacks started by Andrew Jackson are alive and still celebrated by today’s Democratic party.

Posted in Democrats, Ed C, General | 5 Comments »

John Adams – HBO series begins tonight.

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, March 16, 2008

HBO is airing a 7 part series based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. Episodes 1 & 2 air tonight (and throughout the week.)

By most accounts, the series does a good job of recreating the hardships faced at the birth of our county through the story of our second President.

[Update: Sunday – 4/20/08]

The series concludes tonight at 9:00 PM EDTwith part 7, Peace Field. HBO is also showing the entire series starting at 1:00 PM EDT.

  1. 1:00 PM – Join or Die
  2. 2:30 PM – Independence
  3. 4:00 PM – Don’t Tread on Me
  4. 5:00 PM – Reunion
  5. 6:30 PM – Unite or Die
  6. 7:30 PM – Unnecessary War
  7. 9:00 PM – Peacefield (will also air throughout the week.)

Posted in Ed C, General | 6 Comments »

The State Legislature – How could we live without them?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well, the bills are in and the schedules are being finalized. This year there are more than 2300 bills, including 1432 House bills and 849 Senate bills that will be considered in the 90 days of the 2008 session.

2300 bills? Why so many? Well one example, House Bill 380 seeks to prohibit using a text message device while driving by making it a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500. Okay, a good bill and a good sentiment – but is a separate bill for each possible distraction really necessary? Is this really the way to approach the problem? First we had cell phones, now text messaging devices and who knows what else. Would it not make more sense, be easier to comprehend and still have the intended effect to make the law apply to any distraction that causes a driver to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner? Maybe there already is a law against reading a newspaper while driving – but is that any different than reading a text message? Why make a distinction? Both are unsafe activities while driving.

Or how about House Bill 42, The Home Financial Accountability Act 0f 2008?

FOR the purpose of clarifying the availability of certain books and records kept by or on behalf of certain common ownership communities for certain purposes and to certain persons; requiring the governing body of certain common ownership communities, on request of a member, to compile and mail certain information within a certain time; making a stylistic change; altering certain limitations concerning public inspection of certain records; prohibiting certain common ownership communities from imposing certain fees other than a reasonable charge imposed on a person desiring to copy certain books and records; providing that a charge for copying certain records may not exceed a certain amount; and generally relating to access to the books and records of cooperative housing associations, condominiums, and homeowners associations.

Well first of all, if the purpose of this bill is to clarify anything, well I think it fails right here in the introduction. Certain books, certain blah blah, generally relating to zzzzz…, yea, that’s clarifying alright. The best that I can tell, this bill is to give homeowners (and others) in a co-op the right to request financial statements from their housing co-op, receive them in 10 days and they cannot be charged more than the average commercial copying charge in the area.

We have laws that require all sorts of disclosures and reporting requirements. Okay, fine. Well, as a Maryland resident, can I demand equal status from the State? Could I walk into the State house and ask for a copy of all laws and regulations that apply to me and get a copy? Would I have to pay for it? If they charged me standard copying rates, what would it cost? Would I need to bring my own dolly or could I rent one of theirs?

How would Marylanders react that if 10 days after the end of each session, the State delivered a new, complete copy of all of the Maryland statues that we are expected to comply with? Would having a stack of telephone sized books delivered to each household every year cause people to sit up and ask what are we doing to ourselves?

Would that be enough for ordinary citizens to start demanding that certain legislators take certain actions when they compile and distribute certain rules and regulations that they take actions generally relating to stylistic changes that actually make sense to everyone that thinks this sentence is BS?

Posted in Ed C, General, General Assembly | Leave a Comment »

Free flu shots – comming to a traffic jam near you?

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, October 27, 2007

From the Baltimore Sun, Howard County offers free flu shots. The Howard County Heath Department is going to hold another flu shot clinic at Gateway Business Park on Sunday Nov 4th from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

I participated in this “emergency-preparedness” exercise last year. The article quotes waiting times last year were 90 minutes. Although I didn’t time it, I’d swear that I waited longer than that. The county is going to try to improve on that this year:

To cut waiting time, which last year was about 90 minutes, the county has separate vaccination sites for adults and families.


Police will direct traffic around Gateway Drive in the Gateway Business Park, off Route 175, which usually is empty on Sundays. Vehicles with adults will be directed to a parking lot at a building containing eight vaccination stations. Vehicles with families will be directed to another office building lot with 15 vaccination stations.

I really support using events like this as preparedness exercises. Last year showed they had some problems and it sound like they are going to address them. In the event of an true emergency like an avian flu out break or other biological event, the experience gained from these types of events could make a difference.

I’ve already received my shot this year, but I you haven’t received yours yet you may want to give this a try. You can’t beat the price and you get to help increase the county’s preparedness to boot.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ed C, General, Howard County | 8 Comments »

Illegal Firings – Gov. Ehrlich – 0, Gov. O’Malley – 2 (and counting?)

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, October 6, 2007

From the Washington Times (Judge: Rehire state worker)

Nelson Reichart, a 29 year state employee, fired in June was reinstated by administrative judge with back pay and benefits:

Mr. Reichart was fired in June, after a news report in which he was quoted saying the state paid $1 million more than it should have for the 271-acre parcel known as the Kudner property in Queen Anne’s County. The land, earmarked for preservation, was bought for $5 million — a price that exceeded two state appraisals of its value.
David Sutherland, the owner of the parcel, was a member of the O’Malley transition team and the purchase also was authorized by Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin, who had done consulting work on the property.

The General Assembly spent 13 months and 1.1 million dollars to find out that Gov. Ehrlich did not fire anyone illegally. In 10 months, the O’Malley administration has been rebuked by administrative judges twice:

Mr. Reichart is the second state employee whose termination by the O’Malley adminstration was rebuked by an administrative judge.
Judge Susan A. Sinrod ruled in June that the O’Malley administration illegally fired Greg Maddalone, a Republican who was appointed by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Posted in Ed C, Maryland, O'Malley | 1 Comment »

Thorton Spendning – What’s the old adage about insanity?

Posted by Ed C on Monday, September 17, 2007

Remember the adage: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I suppose a candidate for proving this would be Maryland’s Thorton spending. From the Examiner Advocates: $500M in Thornton funds misspent:

Yet this year, the special funding total still will increase to $1.3 billion, for a six-year total of almost $3.5 billion.

Reading and math scores for fourth- and eighth-graders have plateaued on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the past five years, according to the think-tank analysis.

I was going to write more, but the Editorial: Wasted dollars waste young lives pretty much sums up what I would have liked to have said.

One thing that puzzles me though are the comments by State School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick:

State schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick dismisses NAEP scores as inappropriate for measuring achievement of Maryland’s students. “The NAEP is not aligned to our curriculum,” said Grasmick, noting that NAEP only tests a sample of students.

Okay, but according to Peggy Carr of the National Center for Education, on the NAEP test:

“It’s not aligned with any one curriculum, and that’s by design because it represents the basic skills students should know, regardless of what students are taught.”

So, do the Maryland State tests adequately measure student achievement in basic skills? What is the Maryland curriculum? I’d think that reading, writing and arithmetic would be in there somewhere. If they are, shouldn’t a bunch of teachers and schools administrators be able to figure out a test to measure it? Maybe not:

As William Kirwan, the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland said recently, “exit requirements [for high school] are not at all aligned with entrance requirements of college.”

If Maryland is going to spend $3.5 billion dollars, wouldn’t you think that a few percent of that money could be used to create (or buy) a fair, objective test?

Here is my proposal. We spend a few dollars and team up with another state, say Wisconsin (pop. rank 18) or Arizona (pop. rank 20) (Maryland pop rank is 19) or any state with a similar number of students / teachers and create tests that are given to every 4th, 8th and 10th grader. We have teachers from both states create the tests and then get them reviewed by the NAEP people, the Dept of Education or educators from the State’s universities to verify that it really tests the basics. To measure reading and writing skills, the test should include short essays on material presented in the test to minimize the impact of having the subject covered in a particular locale.

To grade the tests, we send our students tests to Wisconsin and they send us theirs. The tests would be graded by say 3 teachers each and the final score would be the average. Throw in some random sampling and quality control and we’re done. The teachers could do the grading in a day. Because each state would be doing the same thing the only “additional” cost would be for some shipping. Hopefully each state would be a neutral arbiter for grading, because it really isn’t doesn’t matter that much to the Cheese-Heads how a particular Maryland school district performs, besides we would have those quality control samples if it became an issue.

So, the total cost for both Maryland and Wisconsin would be for X teachers to create 3 tests, a day of salaries to give the test (which we would have spent anyway), a day of salaries to do the grading, some money for shipping plus whatever review and quality control would cost. So for a fraction of the $500 million that was “wasted” last year both Maryland and Wisconson could get a netrual, comprehensive assement of every student’s progress.

Would it work? Probably not, but it seems obvious the current method isn’t working, so how about we try something, anything else and see if we can get a different result this time, otherwise its just insane.

Posted in Ed C, Education, Maryland | Leave a Comment »

The Myth of the Racist Republicans.

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, September 16, 2007

On Saturday, Hilliary Clinton spoke to a NAACP banquet in North Charleston, SC. She outlined her civil rights agenda, “Promoting Civil Rights and Fighting Discrimination in the 21st Century” Some of my favorites:

“Restore professionalism and remove politics from hiring, case deliberations, and policy decisions across the Department of Justice.”

Do you think she will accomplish by hiring Republicans? Just as in Maryland where firing a Democrat is crass partisanship, but firing a Republican, well that’s okay. (O’Malley firing illegal over GOP ties) MD democrats spent 13 months and $1.1 million of public money to find out that Gov. Ehrlich did not fire anyone illegally. We are still waiting to see if the O’Malley administration will be held to the same standard.

Sen. Clinton proposes the following:

Direct the Attorney General to submit – within 90 days of taking office – a report that recommends how to rebuild DOJ’s traditional role in defending civil rights and the rule of law, and that reviews charges of improper, politically motivated hiring to determine whether laws were broken.

How do you think she will do this? Well, we can look at the past Clinton administration to see how they handled it before (from the Wall Street Journal) :

Congressional Democrats are in full cry over the news this week that the Administration’s decision to fire eight U.S. Attorneys originated from–gasp–the White House. Senator Hillary Clinton joined the fun yesterday, blaming President Bush for “the politicization of our prosecutorial system.” Oh, my.

As it happens, Mrs. Clinton is just the Senator to walk point on this issue of dismissing U.S. attorneys because she has direct personal experience. In any Congressional probe of the matter, we’d suggest she call herself as the first witness–and bring along Webster Hubbell as her chief counsel.

As everyone once knew but has tried to forget, Mr. Hubbell was a former partner of Mrs. Clinton at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock who later went to jail for mail fraud and tax evasion. He was also Bill and Hillary Clinton’s choice as Associate Attorney General in the Justice Department when Janet Reno, his nominal superior, simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno–or Mr. Hubbell–gave them 10 days to move out of their offices.

Also at the time, allegations concerning some of the Clintons’ Whitewater dealings were coming to a head. By dismissing all 93 U.S. Attorneys at once, the Clintons conveniently cleared the decks to appoint “Friend of Bill” Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock. Ms. Casey never did bring any big Whitewater indictments, and she rejected information from another FOB, David Hale, on the business practices of the Arkansas elite including Mr. Clinton. When it comes to “politicizing” Justice, in short, the Bush White House is full of amateurs compared to the Clintons.

As Sen. Clinton and the Democrats try to paint Republicans as racist, maybe a little history will help. In a 2004 book review for the Claremont Institute, The Myth of the Racist Republicans and in a recent Weekly Standard article, The Party of Civil Rights, Univ. of VA associate political science professor Gerard Alexander. (h/t PowerLine) provides some context:

A myth about conservatism is circulating in academia and journalism and has spread to the 2004 presidential campaign. It goes something like this: the Republican Party assembled a national majority by winning over Southern white voters; Southern white voters are racist; therefore, the GOP is racist. Sometimes the conclusion is softened, and Republicans are convicted merely of base opportunism: the GOP is the party that became willing to pander to racists. Either way, today’s Republican Party—and by extension the conservative movement at its heart—supposedly has revealed something terrible about itself.

And from the conclusion:

The point of all this is not to deny that Richard Nixon may have invited some nasty fellows into his political bed. The point is that the GOP finally became the region’s dominant party in the least racist phase of the South’s entire history, and it got that way by attracting most of its votes from the region’s growing and confident communities—not its declining and fearful ones. The myth’s shrillest proponents are as reluctant to admit this as they are to concede that most Republicans genuinely believe that a color-blind society lies down the road of individual choice and dynamic change, not down the road of state regulation and unequal treatment before the law. The truly tenacious prejudices here are the mythmakers’.

And from the conclusion of Prof. Alexander’s Weekly Standard Article:

It took no time at all for individual commentators to point out these problems, but it took decades for the intellectual orthodoxy to develop serious cracks. In the 1980s, Reagan administration lawyers challenged head-on the most expansive racial preferences and the assumptions that justified them. Welfare came under withering scrutiny from scholars like Charles Murray, and, in the 1990s, politicians and voters from both sides of the aisle enacted welfare reform to propel more of the poor into the labor market and toward lives of greater self-sufficiency. Just in the past few years, scholarship has begun to document some perverse effects of affirmative action programs. In 2005, the fortieth anniversary of the Moynihan Report was noted with articles that validated the original conclusions and condemned the smear that greeted its author.

In the end, the position that has best stood the test of time is the long-standing conservative proposition that improving individual capabilities–through quality education–is the best means of reducing socio-economic disparities, with the additional virtue of not being zero-sum, as racial preferences and minority set-asides are.

In the half-century since the 1957 Civil Rights Act, dramatic gains occurred in many areas, but rigid intellectual orthodoxies heavily contributed to the terrible worsening of problems in other areas. Maybe after 50 years, America is finally prepared to have a debate–driven by facts and not ideology–on how to tackle the remaining racial disparities.

If you can find the time, please read the both articles.  With that, I’m off to listen to Micheal Steele and support GOPAC.

Posted in Democrats, Ed C, Republicans | 19 Comments »

Gov O’Malley’s pick for Insurance Commissioner – With qualifications like these, what could go wrong?

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, September 8, 2007

As reported in the Examiner (O’Malley’s insurance chief puzzles many) and in the Baltimore Sun (O’Malley legal counsel to be insurance chief), Gov. O’Malley has picked Ralph S. Tyler, an adviser with no experience in insurance to oversee regulation on Maryland’s $26 billion insurance industry.

Quoting from the press release.

Tyler served as one of the Governor’s closest advisors as Chief Legal Counsel and led the effort to reconstitute Maryland’s Public Service Commission with independent and professional regulators.

I guess the definition of a “professional regulator” does not require experience in that particular domain.

As Baltimore’s City Solicitor, Tyler successfully led the lawsuit against the Maryland Public Service Commission and a pending BGE 72 percent utility rate increase this past summer. The lawsuit is credited with allowing the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation to keep utility rates affordable and give utility companies more flexibility in purchasing electricity.

Yea, that worked out soooo well. Okay, so other than giving O’Malley an election issue, he was able to turn a 72% increase into a 72.5% increase. How does this rate as an accomplishment to “keep utility rates affordable”?

The Sun article also quotes Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, a Southern Maryland Democrat and the chairman of the Finance Committee that oversees insurance issues:

“… the Ehrlich administration’s focus on increasing competition in the state’s insurance market was good but went too far.”

Could Sen. Middleton explain how increased completion has been detrimental to Maryland residents?

The Sun aslo quotes Howard County delegate Warren Miller:

Del. Warren E. Miller, a Howard County Republican, said that if the commissioner sides too heavily with consumers, insurance companies will stop writing policies in the state.

“I hope we don’t go back to the days where the regulator was wanting something for free,” Miller said. “You have to be fair and balanced.”

Let’s hope this appointment benefits Maryland consumers, not just members of the Maryland Bar Association.

Posted in Ed C, O'Malley | 3 Comments »