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Another Howard County Blog

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities


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Don’t need no ticket

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I read Hayduke’s post, People Get Ready, and have been thinking about it ever since.  It was thought provoking and a very introspective piece of writing.

Yes Hayduke, I am interested in what you have to say whether it is partisan or not.

Introspection is a very very good thing.  We all should indulge ourselves in what truly is a very selfish act.  That it is selfish is a fact, but that doesn’t mean introspection is wrong.  It is actually very healthy and I don’t think enough people spend enough of their time indulging themselves.

Introspection is about oneself.  A review of what you have been doing.  For a lot of different reasons I have been indulging myself lately.  There’s a train a-commin’ and I can hear it.  Did you ever have that feeling?  I am sure you have.  I think at one time or another we feel a change is in order whether we initiate it or are just swept up in it, and I ain’t talkin’ politics.

Relative to partisanship dear reader, if you haven’t figured it out yet this is a partisan blog.

When I started this blog it wasn’t because I am a partisan.  I started this as a challenge to myself to keep up on issues that are effecting me and my family here in Howard County.  I have always had a keen interest in politics and I blame my father.  Local politics is where Government mostly effects one’s life on a daily basis.  Whether it is trash or snow removal, tax increases, or new programs at you kids school, or tax breaks for senior citizens.

This is a partisan blog.  I can’t help it and I don’t apologize for it either.

Even though I am a partisan I firmly believe we are all trying to achieve the same things regardless of political affiliation.  Ninety-nine percent of us are inherently good people and we don’t want to see people suffer and we want to lend a helping hand.  To me it is about who should be helping lift people up.  Other people or Government?  It is easy to let Government do it.  The cost comes out of my paycheck and I never really see it.  It is kind of like paying an indulgence (pardon the pun).  Problem is Government doesn’t do it very well.  My church does it better so I would rather have my tax dollars back and give it to my church and go volunteer to help out.

I believe in the ideals of the Republican Party which to me is primarily limited government.  The United States first form of government was defined in the Articles of Confederation (post revolution and pre-Constitution) which envisioned a very weak Federal Government.  When Congress wrote the Constitution it envisioned a stronger Federal Government because the States were bickering with one another and even refusing to execute the laws passed by Congress.  For the reasons stated in the anti-federalist papers, and because of the experience of many people and countries before we came to be many people were adamantly against a stronger Federal Government.  A government with too much power is a threat to civil liberties and States rights many argued.  The reason for the weak Articles of Confederation drew upon the experience of the times.  Our founders were of a time when the memory of Oliver Cromwell, over 100 years after his death, was still a vivid memory.  They were experienced with the abuse of so much power in the hands of only a few people (namely the King of England) so far away.  They were concerned about a dictator.  Which is why I admire George Washington so much.  President Washington could have been President for life and he knew it.  He left the trappings of Washington because he loved this Country and its experiment more than himself.

To that end the US Constitution seeks to limit the authority of the Federal Government.  It reserves a great deal of power to the States.  Since the Constitutions adoption we have seen an erosion of State’s rights and thus civil liberties.  I am not going into specifics.  I will say that I often thought that Newt Gingrich and the ACLU had more in common than they had differences.

That does not mean I don’t believe in government.  I think the US Constitution is brilliant.  I believe in it strongly.  I believe that the Feds should provide for a strong national defense, regulate interstate commerce, but that those things not enumerated in the Constitution should be left to the States.

Now, I don’t claim that the GOP is the only party that feels this way, and it certainly isn’t its only platform issue.  I also don’t confuse the ideals of the Republican Party with policy – with which often times I disagree.  I believe that Republican’s believe in limiting the power of the Federal Government more than the current power structure in the Democratic Party.  To that end I am a Reagan Republican.

I don’t think I am so partisan that I can’t be persuaded.  I often am.  I want to be fair minded, and I don’t want to be closed to new ideas, or perspectives, or new ways to think about something.  My God, who would want to be condemned to a life of mediocrity like that.  That is not to say I don’t get hot about an issue, or passionate about a discussion.  Whew you should see my family go at it.  The in-laws can’t stand it because they are convinced a fist fight is going to break out in the middle of the family reunion.  Not to worry.

The other reason I started this blog is because I wanted to run for County Council District One.  I decided it wasn’t the time to do so having just adopted two children.  Given my interest in the position, politics, and the issues facing Howard County I thought that writing about those things would be a great way to stay informed, research the issue, get to know more about how this County works.  I never thought I would learn so much about how County Government works.  I would never have thought how easy it is to piss some readers off.

It has been a great experience and I think I am doing what I set out to do even if I didn’t know that is where the train was headed.

Now, did I expect to be a vocal advocate for people running for office.  At the time no.  But when I have something to say about a person I have known for a long time who is running for office I am going to say it.  I don’t think it is partisan but I am willing to argue about it. 

These writings are my thoughts wrapped tightly around my beliefs and relationships so it is natural that my bias will be apparent.  This is not a newspaper.  Although I don’t intend to be partisan (all the time) I am sure that from any number of readers perspective I appear to be partisan and doing it on purpose.  That is fine.  Perception is reality and who am I to deny someone their perceptions?  Call it emotional baggage.  The fact is it is me.  That is why I write.

Oh, and like Hayduke I wanted to become a better writer.

In the end, Hayduke I was hoping you would play too because I was counting on you to keep me honest.  Although I do respect your decision I felt we balanced each other out, and I liked to be challenged – it makes me introspective.

Posted in Howard County Blogs | 1 Comment »

Local bloggers play political role

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, August 21, 2006

Well, this is the article I suggested readers keep an eye out for.

Thanks to Larry Carson of the Baltimore Sun.  I think it is fair to say that we would be interested in collaborating with The Sun on this effort if their is any interest on The Sun’s part.

Kevin Dayhoff, a Carroll County Blogger, will be helping us to cover Senate District 9 (Allan Kittleman) since it stretches throughout southern Carroll County.

This is probably a good time to let everyone know that Dave, Evan, Ian and I will also be posting primary election results, as they are reported by the Board of Elections, the evening of September 12th.  We will of course post commentary.

Dave and I will focus on the GOP results.  Evan and Ian will focus on the Democratic results.  All four of us will be looking over each others shoulders during the evening.

Couple of comments on the article.

I think we are all a little surprised at the number of hits we get on our sites.  David Wissing’s site gets the most hits by far.  I am a frequent visitor there because of the polling data he posts.  Also, he has a dry sense of humor that I appreciate.  Anyway, “tis the season”.  It is the political season and I expect more interest and then a sudden drop off in November.

As to this information and commentary.

A USA Today-Claritas national marketing survey done last fall scored Howard County as second in the nation for early adoption of new technology, so it would appear fertile ground for a computer forum, though some are skeptical.

I had no idea and I think it is good insight.

“It’s growing, but it tends to be restricted to the [political] junkies and the news media” who repeatedly visit the same sites, said Donald F. Norris, public policy professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “This is out there in the ether. If what you want to do is influence the election, a blog is not the way to do it.”

Little Buddy, I think the professor is missing the point.  Yes, political junkies are more interested in our sites.  Yes, the visitors tend to be the same people.  I don’t think it is still out in the ether.  It is mainstreaming.  Blogging is exploding.  That does not mean that the four of us are trying to influence the outcome of the election.  That was not our intent at all – never came up.  This is simply a public service – seriously.  Not trying to be noble.  It is just that not a lot of us get to attend the forums.  Not all of us get GTV.  Most of us have a PC and an internet browser, and the interactive nature of blogs just seemed to scream for a blog candidate forum.

For another prespective on the professor’s comments I direct you to Bruce Godfrey’s web log site, Crablaw.  Bruce saw the article in the paper and dropped me a note (may have gotten to Dave, Evan and Ian too – I don’t know).  He thought the comment by the professor was odd too.  Just seems out of context to me, although I don’t know what the question was.  Here is what Bruce had to say.  It is a good point but not what the four of aspire too.

I would partially agree with that statement, but the comment seems a little arid in light of the widespread crediting of bloggers’ roles in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary. In a close race, the intensity of information, fact-checking, organizing and fundraising available not from “a blog” but from multiple blogging activists with different skills sets cannot be underestimated. Both Lamont and Lieberman know this to be true, and have said so (blame by Lieberman, praise from Lamont.) No, you cannot spin an election with a blog, but you can with volunteers. cash, opposition research and organizational structure, and bloggers can help to provide all four of those in a hot race. Liberals have tended to dominate the campaign use of blogs to date, just as conservatives have had an edge in talk radio for a long time but neither comparative advantage is set in stone. If liberal bloggers start getting fired up for Donna Edwards against Albert Wynn in the MD-4 Democratic Congressional primary, as appears to be happening, you might just see a repeat of blogger political muscle exerting itself.

As for Jim Robey’s comments.  That is fair.  I hope he participates.  This way he can answer four constituent’s questions at once.  Also, given the vast improvements to the County web site over the past 8 years I thought he was more of a tech guy.  I guess that credit goes to certain members of the  County Council (Merdon and Guzzone get honorable mentions here) for driving the technology and Nina Benz as well.

“Talk radio on computer.”  Thank you Gail Bates. 

I think it is a great way to look at this.

Back to my long weekend.

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Press Release

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, August 8, 2006

For Immediate Release

(August 8, 2006 – Howard County, Maryland).  An association of Howard County bloggers announced today that they will be conducting an on-line forum consisting of candidates for local and State office.

The association consists of the four major blogs covering political news and events in Howard County.  They will be issuing to each of the general election candidates identical lists of questions in which they will be asked to supply answers to by October 1st. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard County, Howard County Blogs | 1 Comment »

Happy 6,000th to Hedgehog

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Hedgehog Report celebrate’s his 6,000th posting today.


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Mortgage Deduction and a Flat Tax

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, June 30, 2006

Hayduke asks

Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about the home mortgage interest deduction.

What if we just got rid of it?

Total federal spending on housing assistance for poor people (less than $20 billion) is dwarfed in comparison to the amount of tax revenue forgone each year (around $120 billion last I checked) because of these deductions, and that’s to say nothing of the impact it has on home prices and development in general. And it covers houses worth up to $1 million.

Relative to eliminating the mortgage interest deduction.  Hayduke, you sound like Steve Forbes.  I am impressed.  Forbes admits it would drive down the value of homes but “so what?” he asks. The deduction artificially raises the prices of real estate and as a result lowers the prices of alternative investments, like stocks and bonds.

Yet it’s stocks and bonds that people need for their retirements.  I don’t plan to retire on the equity in my house.

Lower housing costs would spur more home buying, less real estate speculation (although I am not sure about that), increase the tax payer base.  People could live closer to work which would help alleviate congestion, the closer people live to work then we may see more business locate to Howard County.

Why won’t it happen?  Follow the money.  Lower home prices means less margin for developers, smaller commission for the Real Estate industry, lower margins for builders, etc.  The industry is a gorilla sitting atop the deduction.

So, do you also support a Flat Tax?  I do.

Posted in General, Howard County Blogs | 2 Comments »