Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Miracles

At some time or another we have all heard of blessings that seem to arrive on or about December 25th. Whether we were personally blessed or word comes to us that others so deserving were touched by an angel doesn't really matter. We are no less filled with happiness.

This year, we freedom-loving people everywhere were once again blessed. The angel: Bernard Madoff. Yes, THAT Bernie Madoff. One of our sources on the PublicSquare group tells us that one of the many victims of "Madman" Madoff's incredible fraud was none other than the American Civil Liberties Union.
From the Desk of Alma Montclair
Director of Administration and Finance
American Civil Liberties Union
DearACLU Supporter,
"...You have, no doubt, heard about theBernard Madoff Ponzi scheme in which investors have been horribly defrauded of up to $50 billion. What you may not know is that two foundations that have been incredibly generous and longstanding supporters of our national security and reproductive freedom work have been victimized by the Madoff scandal -- forced to close their doors and terminate their grants.

"That means that $850,000 in support we were counting on from these foundations in 2009 simply won't exist."
See what I mean? You can almost feel the joy and happiness brimming within you. Let it out! Sing and dance! Run to the nearest public school and shout out the Lord's prayer! Oh, if only every foundation that supported "our national security AND reproductive freedoms" (sounds like the Margaret Hoover Foundation) were investing with Madoff, we would truly be free! But we'll take what we can get.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'The Naming of Things'

One last note on the 'Holiday Party' debate. It seems that my posts and comments have brought together Brian Griffiths of Pasadena with Adam Pagnucco of Somewhere in Maryland. Here is Mr. Pagnucco's contribution in Maryland Politics Watch:
Maryland conservative bloggers are engaged in frenzied combat even as I write this. Are they battling over why the GOP lost the recent elections? No. Are they differing over how to revitalize the party? No. They are at war over whether the Anne Arundel Young Republicans should name their winter gathering a "Holiday Party" or a "Christmas Party."
First, I have to say that I am encouraged that enough folks found it worthwhile to read my posts and comments on the subject. Neither Messrs Griffiths or Pagnucco (or 'Mister Brian' and 'Mister Adam' as I am sure children call them with their approval) wrote much other than "Hey, look at Mike!" And a lot of people did.

But I have to answer Mr. Pagnucco, however. I firmly believe that we are indeed debating the reasons for the GOP's latest defeat and the revitalization of the party. Readers of my blog will recognize that I point out evidence of cultural erosion mostly in language and especially in our own party. Why? Because in most cases the erosion is in the direction of the language of modern liberalism, commonly referred to as Political Correctness.

The GOP is not a helpless beach forming the shore of a liberal ocean. We are, one would think, able to resist. And it is the failure of GOP politicians to rise to the defense of language against the onslaught of the left that has led to a lack of enthusiasm in the party and mounting losses.

I like to think of it as the chink in the GOP armour. So while it may seem insignificant, the use the word 'Holiday' when Christmas is the only secular 'holiday' meant, is, in fact, a manifestation of Political Correctness. And being PC is for Republicans or at least for the party's conservative base, anathema. Witness Mr. Griffiths' reaction to my question. He knows what it means and he fears being accused of being PC.

And he came up with the "...political, not a religious organization" fairly quickly. Almost as though he had been waiting for the question to asked. Religion has nothing to do with it. Christmas is a secular federal holiday on December 25th. Christians celebrate by exchanging gifts, trimming trees, decorating with red and green and holly leaves and berries. People of other faiths celebrate by not going to work that day, for the most part.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Young 'Republicans' II

Wow. The YRs are nothing if not networked. I guess I touched a nerve with my last post. YRs from all over the eastern seaboard hit my blog after Brian Griffiths took umbrage with my accusation that the YRs, at least in this county, are politically correct.

Sam from Odenton (my only comment apart from that of my biggest fan) wrote: Maybe they should call it " The Annual All White People Christmas Party". Apparently this would be redundant according to the YRs.

Where is the spirited defense of the inoffensive, the innocuous, the inert? Here, let me help:

Mike, you insensitive person, you. Yes, I know you are a male, but I choose, of my own free will, to refer to you as a person, because it's not fair to assume that you identify yourself as a man as opposed to a woman. Anyway, what is wrong with having a "Holiday" party instead of a "Christmas Party" like the Old Republicans of the North County variety? We are young and sensitive and inclusive and multicultural and stuff. Now why don't you get with the program? Knock it off with the "Christmas" cards and "Merry Christmas."

Or something like that.

So while Brian Griffiths of Pasadena grapples with "branding" (whatever the Hell that means) my family is watching Lady Thatcher in a speech she made at GOPAC in 1994. In one of her closing remarks she expresses complete disbelief that in a nation whose motto is "In God We Trust," that its Supreme Court would rule against teaching or even mentioning the word God in the public schools.

And while Brian loses sleep over candidate development strategies, he can take comfort that he has thrown in with the liberal elite by abandoning his cultural heritage and has therefore made the YRs immune from the attacks and derision of the left. Yes, the liberal Democrats will now praise the Anne Arundel County YRs for their progressiveness.

Way to go, Brian!

Meanwhile I just received from a fellow Old Republican an e-mail regarding an interview on CBS with Ben Stein recently in which he recited from something he had written regarding being a Jew and living in a predominantly Christian society. In it he "confesses" that "I am a Jew," "...And it does not bother me even a little bit" when people refer to Christmas trees or when then wish him Merry Christmas. Nor, I will bet, does it offend him to be invited to a Christmas party.

I think Mr. Griffiths and the members of the YRs, Jew and Gentile, could learn something from Mr. Stein.

Young 'Republicans'

Closer to home, the Lost Generation has made an appearance on the GOP calendar. The Anne Arundel Young Republicans, led by the able Brian Griffiths of Pasadena, are having a "Holiday" Party this month.

After reading the calendar notices on County GOP Calendar I asked Mr. Griffiths why the YRs were having a "Holiday" party. He responded that 1. the YRs was a political, not a religious, organization (I kid you not), and 2. the group has both Christian AND Jewish members.

I responded that somebody forgot to tell the North County GOP Club that they are a political and not a religious organization. I haven't heard back from him yet. Does North County have any Jewish members? I ride the train everyday with a colleague at work who is a Jew. He married a christian and celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah. If I moved to Israel, I would go to Hanukkah Parties all the time. At home, of course, I would set up my Christmas tree. Why should it be any different here?

Do the YR's, like Miss Hoover, 'get it' too? In defending our culture and the fabric of society, must we be wary of our own? The answer is YES. We apparently have not done enough to ensure that the next generation has a spine that does not wither against the incessant onslaught of political correctness.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Lost Generation

Margaret Hoover (born 1977) is an American conservative feminist, political commentator, Republican strategist, and blogger...great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover... B.A. in Spanish Language Literature with a minor in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College in 2001...worked for Bush-Cheney ‘04, .....Deputy-Press Secretary Mario Diaz-Balart...held a White House appointment in the Bush Administration and also served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Dear Miss Hoover,

You are the embodiment of all that plagues the Republican Party and thwarts the conservative movement. Though what little I know of you amounts to less than a full hour of your commentary opposite Bill O'Reilly in his Fox News show, it is enough to know that if the Party's leaders are indeed taking your advice on anything more important than, say, the five-day weather forecast or what they're wearing in Amsterdam this winter, then things are indeed as bad if not worse than they seem.

Every time I see you and hear your opinions on the weeks' latest outrage or of the plight of someone caught up one liberalism's failed social experiments, I ask myself, "What IS a Margaret Hoover?" Republican Feminist, it says at the bottom of the screen. What the HELL is a Republican feminist? I ask, usually myself, over and over.

O'Reilly still finds it necessary to point out to the folks that you identify yourself as a Republican, your views notwithstanding; that the tag line at the bottom of the screen is not a mistake. But it was after your last appearance (that I saw) on O'Reilly's show that has prompted me to write. This is the appearance where you make it it clear that the Republican Party as I know it is doomed.

The subject of discussion was the passage of Proposition 8 in California and the rioting it spawned. Your position was that the view of a majority of the folks be damned, same-sex marriage is an inevitability; that opposing it is a losing proposition, politically speaking; that sooner or later those who oppose it will go the way of the dodo; and that you and people of your generation will eventually be the saviors of the GOP (by supporting gay marriage) because your generation "gets it."

I thought I had heard enough to write about when I read these lines in the Wall Street Journal soon after your appearance:

"I am a 24-year-old, idealistic, socially liberal Manhattan resident who voted for John Kerry in 2004. I should have been part of Barack Obama's base. Yet for the past four months, I worked my heart out -- 15-hour days, seven days a week -- for John McCain." So Mr. Robbie Cohen introduced is opinion piece: "Why I am Still Inspired by John McCain," or something like that.

I would pay money to see you two arguing politics for a few hours. Can you imagine a more surreal situation? A member of "the generation that gets it" lecturing a McCain campaign volunteer on why he was misguided in casting his vote for John Kerry. At least Mr. Cohen has the guts to admit he voted for Kerry. What are the odds that you, Miss Hoover, lost your "Republican" nerve on the way to the polls in 2000 and pulled the lever for Al Gore because he "gets it;" and for Kerry in 2004 for the same reason?

I wonder how you would advise the obviously confused Mr. Cohen to vote in the coming off-year elections and in 2012. I am publishing this in my Blog in hopes that my readers will find in it a new reason to fight for their values and those of their children and grandchildren; to beware of folks like you and Mr. Cohen and to redouble their efforts to instill in them true conservative principles and to support those politicians who DON'T get it.

If you are moved to respond I will publish your response. If you want to comment, keep it clean. This is FAMILY Blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama On a String

It occurred to me last night after listening to some commentary on TV and listening to my wife (yes I can do both at the same time). The commentarian said about Obama that he won't be able to raise taxes now, because even he understands that there is little to tax, and so that aspect of his administration is less frightening. My wife was listening and she concurred.

That's when it hit me.

It doesn't matter what Obama does or doesn't do or whether he "can" or can't. In fact, Obama simply doesn't matter at all, anymore.

With the 60 to 66 votes that are guaranteed Democrats in the Senate and the similarly huge margin of votes over the Republicans in the House, it really doesn't matter what the President of the United States wants.

The Democrats are already practicing their swagger, announcing that so-and-so will be Secretary of State and such-and-such Attorney General, as though the Advise and Consent clause doesn't exist. And for all practicalities, it doesn't. The Democrats will rubber stamp the administration into place and begin sending it their bidding. Sign this bill, enforce this law, make these regulations, etc.

What about the Republicans? Don't make me laugh. What about the veto? The Democrats will override any veto with the help of willing stooges in the GOP.

So, by a landslide, the public-school-indoctrinated citizens of the United States, voted to turn their President into a figurehead, and the Democrats will complete the transformation. By this time next year the United States will effectively be a one-party state with one branch of government.

To arms!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'State Republicans Fired up'? Really?

'Fired Up for Steele,' is the headline from a recent blog post regarding Michael Steele's potential run at the Republican National Committee chairmanship. Truthfully, it really doesn't matter who chairs that moribund body. Of course we all wish Mr. Steele well. And we real Republicans (those would be the Western Shore variety who voted against SLOTS and for Andy Harris, you know, those with a functioning brain stem) will take a certain amount of pride in seeing a local pol rise to a prominent if largely figurehead position.

But the RNC is peopled by the folks who foisted upon us John McCain; by the folks who thought it was a good idea to make over Sarah Palin with designer duds and dos, then leak it to the press and watch her twist in the wind; and finally who thought the folks hired to"help" Gov. Palin debate and campaign against the slickest political duo to come down the pike since Hill and Billary Clinton were loyal Republicans instead of the self-serving charlatans they turned out to be.

And Michael Steele, you may recall, stumped for Wayne Gilchrest. Yeah. Please explain that one, Mr. Steele. What does that stand, against most Republicans in District 1, portend for a Steele chairmanship of the RNC?

So like I said, it really doesn't matter (Geeze, I sound like my father-in-law!) who runs the RNC. They will plod along, blind and deaf to the party's conservative wing who will continue to desert them in droves in search of more effective organizations. They will continue to hire "professional communicators" who will convince them that their moronic verses will "manage" the news and image of the RNC.

Unless that chair is filled by Dr. James Pelura. Dr. Pelura, no stranger to dealing with animals, will make the needed changes, will show the consultants the door and force the committee to actually work. His boldness will attract loyal people and ideas. When rumors and gossip starts flying then you'll know he is doing his job right. He shook up the MD GOP, I think for the better, and he can do the same for the national party.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Day After Tomorrow - Part II

I address this to members of The Public Square, activists and politicians alike. You are invited to join a new blog that I will be creating just for you. It won't be affiliated with me personally (like this one) or other members of the Netherland family. There won't be a frightening picture of moi featured prominently.

Why am I doing this? Why do I hope and pray that you will use it to benefit conservatism and the Republican Party? Because we need you to; you need you to. I have been thinking about this ever since a pre-election conversation with a state politician. He sensed as I did the coming failure of Republicans in general, and of himself, in effectively communicating the conservative message (I wrote about this four years ago, after our last defeat...see The Day after Tomorrow)

Why a blog? A blog is not just a new (to Republicans) toy or reason to play on the Internet. A blog provides an easy way to polish your message. To be able to write and re-write your message and to instantly rebut, refute and otherwise answer your critics.

Most importantly it gives you the chance to post, for all to see and read, your thoughts; to have them associated with YOUR name. This will prove to an increasingly skeptical voting public that you are not afraid to take a stand based on your principles; that you are ready to defend that stand or that you are intelligent enough to either spot a good idea or to persuade your critics that yours is the best way.

I have seen little of this on behalf of our Republican politicians. Sure, Cathy Vitale has regular column in Severna Park Voice, a monthly. But her column reads like the minutes of the County Pet Court hearings. And Mrs. Vitale is a practicing lawyer a day-job that probably depends on being as inoffensive as possible to current and potential clients. She is not the only one. There are many highly intelligent conservative thinkers in this County who would rather employ a pen name rather than risk their business or employment by being overtly conservative.

I am encouraged to discover Del. Tony McConkey's column also in the monthly Voice. Mr. McConkey has a bit more leeway with his opinions since has realised that he will never get any favorable press from, well, the press. But, Tony, it's a monthly. Your opposition to the Slots issue was on target, just not on time. And issues like this need to hammered, time after time, two or three times a day if necessary.

And we have to disabuse ourselves of the fantasy that our political campaigns need secrecy in order to score tactical victories. Mike, we don't want to tip our hand; we don't want to offend certain constituencies. Well, if back-to-back defeats doesn't put the lie to this, then I don't know what will.

I think a blog that features a robust debate between and among county Republicans will be successful, for everyone. A failure to engage to public will lead to another defeat.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Other Stupid Party 'Victories'

We have a lot of ground to cover here. The stupidity of voters in general and Republicans in particular ranges far and wide and I could make it a full-time job listing the examples. I say this knowing full well that on the other side of the Obama yard signs is: For Sale by State. The Democrats are not going to Change. Their actions and rhetoric are completely predictable and thus not worth writing about. So examining Democrats would be similar to spending time examining why children whine and cry.

The same goes for hyperventilating over what the New York Times (The Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, People, The New Republic, The Nation, NPR, et al.) does or doesn't write. It's kind of like writing about the direction from which one is likely to see the sun rise tomorrow. Or about how the price of gasoline is lower now than it was the past summer, when, ever since the first goat was exchanged for a flint spear, the law of supply and demand has predicted this change in price.

Will I be heralded as some kind of economic shaman if I predict that next May the price of a gallon of gasoline will start to increase steadily and peak around late August? Only by those who hesitate to change the channel after hearing "But WAIT! There's MORE!"

So I prefer to write about Republicans. These are the folks who could have made a difference and didn't. They are the ones who, when faced with a field of conservatives, consciously pulled the lever for John McCain. The Who's Who of Stupid Republicans must, however, begin with Newt Gingrich. I nearly passed a cup of coffee through my nose this morning when I saw this headline on the Blogs: NEWT in 2012?

This, to me, is the interesting question. It reveals a festering conundrum in which conservatives find themselves every election cycle. We thinking conservatives never gave John McCain a second thought during the Primary. We gave him half a chance during the General only because we thought there's no way more that 49 percent of American voters are stupid enough to vote for Obama.

Why would Alaskan Republicans vote for GOP embarrassments like Don Young and Ted Stevens? Why do some Republicans think it is a good idea to split the ticket against an incumbent? Ann Coulter has concluded that John Murtha's district in Western PA is dominated by the mentally retarded and Florida by Jewish retirees from Murtha's district. I have asked since last December why Newt Gingrich would stump for Wayne Gilchrest, then go on to propose legislative initiatives that Gilchrest would vote against!

Newt in 2012? One would have thought that Newt's political career sank with every liberal Republican he supported in 2008. He inadvertently let it slip on Fox News that he attended a fundraiser for Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut. Yeah. Another "loyal" Republican and friend of the environment. Is there a Save the Bay campaign in Connecticut? Well, it does share half the Long Island Sound with New York. I doubt seriously that Chris Shays will be co-sponsoring legislation to allow for oil exploration on the Continental shelf or ANWR or to make it easier to build additional refinery capacity, nuclear power plants and LNG terminals.

But Wait! There's More!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Stupid Party Rides Again

MILLERSVILLE, MD - State Sen. Janet Greenip called me on the way home election night to ask whether I might make a slight diversion and "poll-watch" at Anchor Baptist Church. Of course, I said without hesitation, then asked what does a poll-watcher do? Well you get to the poll before they lock the doors and stay until they post the vote totals. I was to get the totals and phone them in to Harris Campaign HQ.

What I saw there in the vote totals filled me with despair, anger, and resignation. I saw clearly that the good Republicans of that precinct had voted overwhelmingly for Andy Harris and for the McCain-Palin ticket. But I was curious to see how these same people voted on my favorite ballot question: SLOTS.

The Good Republicans of that precinct voted overwhelmingly to amend the State Constitution, not to make it legal to gamble in Maryland. I could understand it if Republicans favored legalizing a business enterprise that is legal in other states. But that's not what was on the ballot.

Instead the Republicans voting at the Anchor Baptist Church voted for an amendment to the state constitution making the state government a slot-machine casino franchise business.

This told me everything I needed to know about Republican voters in Anne Arundel County. I have at least suspected for sometime now that Marylanders in general were, if not stupid, then terminally ignorant. If the folks casting ballots for Harris and McCain in the Anchor Baptist Church really believe that the slot machine amendment would "pump $660 million into the state schools" then their condition is more acute than I had suspected. There is zero evidence of this (why 660? why not 650 or 600?) except a slick radio and television PR campaign designed by a PR firm whose members probably couldn't find Maryland on a map of the East Coast.

Mike, you are just overwrought because Harris lost. Maybe. But the bad news this morning served only to move me to post the thoughts formed on election night in that church in Millersville.

So this is what I conclude based on the evidence: that about 50 percent of those folks in Anne Arundel County who registered as Republicans don't have a clue as to why they registered as Republicans. They should be written off or encouraged to switch their Party affiliation to the Democrat. Any future politician who is trying to decide on whether to run for office as a Republicans or as a Democrat should just run as a Democrat. Real Republicans should simply abandon politics in this state. It is a waste of time and money to try to appeal to people whose ignorance is exceeded only by their net worth. They are collectively a hopeless case.

Real smart Republicans should abandon Maryland altogether before the Democrats and the ignorami render the state a social and economic basket case. If you have any liquid assets, they should be shifted to Swiss Bank accounts before the frenzied mob of teacher unionistas an chambers of commerce Democratic boot-lickers come after it.

Me? I'm looking for a nice piece of land in Bedford County, Pa.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Question 2

I know what you are thinking: How is Mike Netherland going to vote on Tuesday? Well I'll tell you.

1. Slots - Also known as Question 2. I will vote NO, damn it! Why? Not because I am worried about the crime and the addiction or the money that the Gaming industry will rake in. No. I am worried that this will only add to the laziness of our elected leaders.

Even IF slots passes and is a huge success and IF some of that success finds it's way into the school system and IF some of that school system funding makes it into the classroom and IF that funding has any effect whatsoever on the learning of our children, we will have just made our elected "leaders" that much less accountable. We will have removed, for however short a period, any reason to expect them to make the difficult choices in managing our state's public policy.

So NO I want them to be held accountable; to better balance revenue and services. In short, I want them to Earn Their Pay. And I want our business "leaders" to be held accountable as well. Frankly it makes me sick to my stomach to listen to those ridiculous ads about how we MUST approve slots or face certain death! Every time I see it I think of the scene in Star Wars were Darth Vader makes a bargain with Han Solo's friend to capture him alive in exchange for the Princess; a bargain he never meant to keep. "Pray I do not alter it further," Vader says simply.

It is laughable that the Maryland Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Synder insists that without slot machines poor Marylanders will face historic tax increases. She should at least add the "again" qualifier or the "more historic tax increases" to show that she knows Marylanders have already been hit with tax increases that even the liberal local press admits are: 1. of historic proportions and, 2. have done little to increase revenues!!

Now it's hard to tell exactly whether the COC is going to bat for the gambling and horse racing industries (and is using the "more taxes and slots-for-the-kids" baloney as a cover so later they can defend their misguided positions later on), or whether they are going to bat for powerful Democrats (who are just in it for the campaign contributions and God-knows-what other forms of corruption the gambling and horse racing industries are capable of) who PROMISE not to raise taxes anyway, or whether the COC is simply stupid.

My money is on a combination of the first two. There is great speculation that Marylanders will swallow the taxes-and-schools bait and the personalities behind a successful campaign will be rewarded handsomely. If I may offer a little advice to the Maryland COC: hedge your bet. I know it's difficult to show an obscene amount of enthusiasm for the gambling industry's benefit and a decent amount of healthy skepticism at the same time.

If I were you Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Kapital, I'd start collecting string on who in the MD COC stands to gain the most on slots, politically speaking, of course. Who would be so crass as to accept envelopes stuffed with cash these days?

You know, part of me wants slots to pass just so that we can use the failures of budget deficit after budget deficit, tax increase after tax increase, and zero change in education quality, to ridicule them and hound them from whatever positions of leadership they hold. That would make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chambers of Commerce: A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Dear Ms Strassel,
You got it mostly correct with your last Potomac Watch column: Business Finally Fights Back. I have been taking Maryland's state and local chambers to task over the years for their various short-sighted, next-sale, agenda. However, I think you give the U.S. Chamber too much credit and free PR in your piece.

You column, however, highlights the lack of vision that is making the USCOC's recent efforts on behalf of the Republican ticket a colossal waste of money. I submit that that money could be better spent providing Bill Miller's "political shop" with a few history books, recent history. Or even a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. They could spend hours reading up on how little it got them by brown-nosing and palm-greasing the Democrats. And your description of the COC's leadership as "feisty" is snort-worthy to say the least.

According to your article, even this year's election and the liberal agenda that awaits the next president is not enough to stop the COC from supporting Democrats. Instead the USCOC is , "... going to bat for Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Virginia's Mark Warner -- both of whom it believes will work with business." What are the odds that they'll both buy tickets to Henry Waxman's "witch hunt" lottery?

The funny thing about the "non-partisan" chambers of commerce is that they are the only ones who believe that they are non-partisan. No matter how many times they say they are and no matter how many Democrats they support, the Democrats will always use them as a punching bag and they will be lumped in with Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, racism and the Republican Party.

The COCs of America would do well to jettison the pretense. If they really want to make a difference in American society they need to realize that a sick society is bad for business. They need leadership with the spine to say to their members "We are not going to support liberal Democrats and their liberal constituencies because they will weaken American society and sovereignty and weaken our allies and trading partners and eventually weaken our membership."

THAT would be feisty.

Mike Netherland

Severna Park, MD

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chamber Support of Liberal Policies

Dear Ms Snyder,
I writing to inform you that you and the Chamber (especially you, though) have been featured prominently in the last two or three posts of my blog ( I am hurt, frankly, that you haven't bothered to read and respond in your defense and that of the Chamber to the charges that your and your group are nothing more than opportunists who, due to your nearsightedness, are constantly looking for the next taxpayer-funded hand out.

I was in the audience in Severna Park where you debated Doug Schmidt over the issue of slots and I decided then and there that I would contact you and allow you to explain yourself. Now I understand that, especially in Maryland, business interests must sometimes grease the palms of powerful politicians in order to keep at bay policies that are bad for business.

Of course I am assuming that an organization calling itself a "chamber of commerce" is looking out for the long term interests of its member businesses. Please correct me if I am wrong.

So a few questions are in order. Be advised that I will happily post on my blog, unedited and in full, your responses.

1. What long-term interests of your member business are served by forcing Marylanders to accept slot machines? Please spare me the revenue-for-schools malarkey. We both know this is a fantasy generated by slick PR paid for by the gaming business interests. Just give me the straight rationale.

2. What part of liberal-Democrats-are-bad-for-business do you not get? In other words is it in the best interests of your member businesses that taxes should increase leaving Marylanders with less disposable income to spend patronizing member businesses? (for the sake of this question, let's pretend there are no slot machines, pots o'gold at rainbow's end and magic wands, hmmm?)

3. Are you planning to seek elective office? If so, with which political party would you affiliate yourself?

4. In your world, is economic growth and prosperity tied to the growth of state government?

5. Do you consider yourself more intelligent and accomplished than Milton Friedman?

6. Am I unfairly associating you with the leadership of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, just because you are the president of that organization?

Again, thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

Mike Netherland
Severna Park

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The More Things Change...

Well I couldn't have written it better myself:

"Although last year's historic tax increases were meant to lead to the end of the state's deficit problems... ," begins last night's Kapital-paper's third paragraph (above the fold!) on $350 million in budget cuts being contemplated by the Board of Public Works.

Yes, the Kapital. Even they get it now. It gets better:

"Even if voters approve the slot machines referendum on Nov. 4 Maryland still will have an almost $1.5 billion deficit in fiscal 2011," and billion-plus deficits as far as the eye can see.

I kid you not. And all of this without attribution. No 'he said, she said,' statements of plain fact. Nope. It appears that Liam Farrell has done his homework, getting the cold, hard facts from the state Department of Legislative Services. Getting tired of transcribing press releases, he decided to go out on a limb and state the obvious without having to get a source.

So, in four, count 'em, four short paragraphs of liberal newsprint, the Kapital komes klean. If only we had seen this kind of reporting before "last year's historic tax increases," maybe we would be in better shape today.

It may not be too late, though, to save Maryland from the clutches of Kathy Snyder and her misbegotten band of bring-home-the-bacon buffoons at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce who are pushing for slots. Perhaps she will whisper in voters ears about how wonderful things will be if only we write 15,ooo slot machines into the state constitution. Maybe Ms Snyder can put a pretty face on the ugly lies that the slots lobbying machine has been peddling about concerned citizens like you and me; lies highlighted in a recent UMBC report on the financial and social impact of slots (see

But let's get back to tax increases and their net effect on revenue. I predict that Mr. Farrell will be shocked at a future date when Maryland or some other state where he may be reporting, fails to realize the promised land where the state treasuries are overflowing with treasure from recent historic tax increases. Perhaps he will ask a future Democratic candidate (Ms Snyder?) for high office whether, given the long dismal history of tax increases, the candidate's plan will actually lead to the end of the state's budget deficits.

"Well, Mister...what's your name? Farrell? You see when you raise taxes you take more money in. It's a simple concept. Instead of taking 5 dollars from you, we take 10. That's what we call an increase in revenue."

"But Senator Snyder, in 2007, my readers will recall, Gov. O'Malley and the General Assembly raised taxes exorbitantly. This lead to a net drop in revenue which lead to my paper, the Annapolis Kapital, to run a story that basically repudiates this simple concept. What makes you think it will work this time?"

"Because, Mr. Farnell, in a Snyder administration, I will be doubling the number slot machines and proposing a new amendment to the state constitution that would lift restrictions on where slots can be placed so that, if the people of Severna Park, for instance, don't want to see their gambling dollars being spent in other counties, they can have their very own slots parlor. Doubling the number of slots machines will double the amount of revenue. It's a simple concept."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slots in Severna Park?

No, don't worry, says Kathy Snyder, President and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce last night, the state will put them in carefully selected, out-of-the way places in Maryland. Speaking barely above a whisper some times she addressed Severna Park's political class in Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, on Benfield Boulevard. The hall was packed to hear the debate, sponsored by the Elephant Club, and to meet and hear from candidates for Congress in District 1.
Doug Schmidt, CEO of Towson-based investment bank Chessiecap Securities, laid down the cold hard facts and political realities: The amount of money being dangled in from of Maryland voters is not real (it would be a miracle if the state realized even a third of it); to get that third, 10,000 Marylanders would have to lose $1,000 every year playing slots; the revenue can't be guaranteed and can't be dedicated solely "for education."
Ms. Snyder couldn't answer the question as to why slot machine gambling was previously outlawed in Maryland, but Mr. Schmidt quickly pointed out that it was due to the corrupting influence on local politicians. Ms Snyder, meanwhile argued against herself several times. On one hand, the control over the slots will be in the State Constitution, on the other she argued that it's OK to amend the State Constitution because, it is just that. "It isn't the Bill of Rights," she said, adding, that the state constitution controls the something related to the parking in Baltimore City. So, it is not taboo to further cheapen our state charter by throwing in slots.

Later, she tried to make a point about the strict control over the machines and the revenues generated thereby because it will be in the state constitution. The money is dedicated to education, in the proposed amendment to the constitution, but she admits that in the end we will have to trust our elected officials to do the right thing.

Oh and Maryland already has gambling, she began her defense, in the form of horse racing, KENO and lottery.'s just that, er, the language to direct the revenue from the State Lottery to education twas um...taken out at the last minute... by the politicians we are supposed to trust to do the right thing.

And if we don't do this, your taxes will go up to pay for education, she warned her little pretties, ha, ha, ha,ha!! Oh uh, or the sate will have to cut spending (gasp!). I got a flash for you Ms Snyder, our taxes will go up regardless. This is a one-party state, no thanks to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, so taxing and spending is what the Democrats do.

Finally, in act of desperation she blurted out that the Maryland State Teachers Proletariat supports slots! So we fellow proletarians should be on board as well. If you need any more reason to oppose slots in Maryland, please visit Marylanders United to Stop Slots.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why It Really Doesn't Matter Who Wins

I know what you're thinking. Here it comes. Netherland's rationalization for why he thinks McCain's gonna lose. Maybe. I have called every election starting with Nixon's second, even Clinton's reelection. And I am sad to say that the ability of my fellow Republicans to severely disappoint me, it seems, knows no bounds. That there are people who registered Republican dead-set on voting for Obama means many things, all of them bad.

I gave it up when Mitt Romney dropped out and resigned myself to a third Clinton administration. When Clinton dropped out, I thought, all bets were off. Nowadays I console myself and some friends that the Founders thought it was an excellent idea to keep the damage one man wreak on the Republic to four years. Obama should be a one-term president.

So that's why it doesn't matter who wins, really. What really matters is taking back Congress with conservative leaders. A step in the right direction would be a donation to the Senate Conservatives Fund, founded in part by South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. This group would back, I am assuming, conservative challengers to incumbents backed by the National Republican (Incumbent) Senatorial Committee.

The House counterpart is, oddly enough, the House Conservatives Fund. And one would assume that it would back candidates like Andy Harris over "Republicans" like Wayne Gilchrest. Don't look for the National Republican Campaign Committee link on this blog. They are busy backing Don Young of Alaska to the hilt.

Of course your donations are well-spent by Pat Toomey's The Club for Growth, too. So we should fund these groups because:
  1. We can't normally watch all the campaigns all the time
  2. While all elections are local, the ones that send idiots to Congress affect us all
  3. We can't trust all Republicans to vote the right way, all the time, or even half the time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vicenza HS Alumni

Of those of us lucky enough to be brats of the various branches of our military (Go Army), and toured the world with their families, there is a special group who called Vicenza, Italy home for short time. The people who made us welcome in the school and in the surrounding military base, and especially the Italian citizens of Vicenza form a unique common bond.

It is that bond that has hundreds of us signing up to re-connect with our friends and classmates, faculty and family of Vicenza American High School on the second version of an alumni website ( I put this up because I shamelessly plug my blog every chance I get and I've notice many folks linking here (some even admit doing so publicly) to see what I have to say. And to say hello and thank you for dropping by! Please feel free to leave me a comment here. Save the Mike-I-remember-you-were-such-a-dweeb-and-I-see-you-still-are comments for the alumni site, ok?

But if you take issue with my opinions, please don't hesitate to blast me!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Primary Campaigns

Half the comments on my previous post (which is to say, one) raise an interesting point and has caused me to consider my positions regarding the Pipkin and LeDoux candidacies. I have in the past defended, and will continue to strenuously defend wide-open primary campaigns for Republicans. I am in excellent company by believing that the GOP voter will, in the end, be the best judge of who is most qualified to represent them and their party.

Does my continued effort to highlight what should already be glaring contradictions in the stated goals of Pipkin and LeDoux and the likely effect their candidacies would have on the outcome of the contest, somehow call into question my long-held positions? Am I now the hypocrite who is not practicing what he has preached by attacking those who would throw their hats into the ring?

The answer is: I don't know. I would like to think I have been true to my principles throughout my commentary. I don't want to support an arbitrary restriction in participation in our Primary process. At the same time, I want Republican pols to admit that their candidacies will sometimes be at odds with their stated goals.

If your goal is to unseat an entrenched incumbent who wields support from national GOP personalities and organizations, even the President himself, then you must do whatever it takes, including reconsidering the effect your candidacy will have. This includes acknowledging what even neophytes to the political process (me) knew instinctively. The incumbent will be guaranteed 50 percent of the vote and challengers left to split the other half. I learned this in high school civics and again in college political science classes.

Much as I'd like to blame Bill Clinton for much of the misery we are now experiencing, I have to instead blame Ross Perot for siphoning conservative Republican votes away from Bush 41. Then again, I should blame Bush 41 for not being a strong enough President and inviting a strong Third Party candidate to split Republicans and giving the vote to the disastrous Slick Willie.

Now State Rep. Ledoux argues that Don Young's poor showing (and near defeat) could be directly attributable to her campaign. Hmmm this sounds familiar. This is more charitable than her first rationalization, that it was Parnell who drew votes away from her. Even to those unschooled in Alaskan politics, this is a dubious case.

Lets. review:
1. She entered the race first (by a few months)
2. Parnell entered and was a wildly more popular alternative (at this point LeDoux should have dropped out and thrown her support behind Parnell)

In Pipkin's case, he entered extremely late, after even Alaskans, unschooled in the nuances of Maryland politics, could see that Harris was the wildly popular alternative. He acted as either a witting agent of the Gilchrest campaign or as one deluded into thinking he could possible win, that is as an unwitting agent of the Gilchrest campaign.

Would Harris have lost had Pipkin NOT thrown his hat into the ring? Under the LeDoux theory of unseating entrenched incumbents the answer would be yes. Was Pipkin's candidacy actually a ploy to draw ES-GOP votes away from Gilchrest? That would be nice to think so.

But even in the journalistic junk-yard of the Maryland free press, I have to believe that the Kapital-paper would have gone ga-ga over any such hint even if such a hint were written on Gilchrest-for-Congress letterhead. Such a hint dogged (in the blogosphere anyway) Delegate Banks' late-late, last-minute candidacy. I find it difficult to give Pipkin the benefit of this doubt.

This is why it is important for Pipkin to come clean on this issue. Not to settle the past, but for dealing with future Congressional campaigns. A winning strategy is built on accurate understanding of the past. And win we must. Not just party, but candidates with courage and conviction to principles that are needed to face down the pork-barreling, social experimenting and special-interest-pandering practices of the last generation of Congressional worms.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pipkin Goes to Alaska? [Update: LeDoux Replies]

There have been some curious congressional campaigns this season, campaigns that will be crucial especially given the candidates currently vying for the presidency. Conservative Republicans will need every single vote to keep the socialist majority in check and to counter the some of the likely disastrous policies that both candidates potentially represent.

Fortunately for MD's District 1, Andy Harris prevailed over both the incumbent and State Senator E.J. Pipkin. Not so much for Alaska's District 1, however. Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth reports the final tally:
LeDoux, Gabrielle 9.34%
Parnell, Sean R. 45.19%
Young, Don E. 45.47%

The biggest factor helping Young survive the challenge was the third candidate in the race, State Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who spent significant funds out of her own pocket. While she never had a chance to win, there is little doubt she siphoned off a lot of the anti-Young vote.
My letter to Don Young's secret weapon follows:

Dear Ms LeDoux,
I write to you from Annapolis, MD and Congressional District 1 where we Republicans fought a tough primary contest to unseat the incumbent liberal, idiot claiming to represent principled Republicans in Congress.

The ultimately successful campaign was made all the tougher by a late third candidate. We were lucky to have prevailed.

Unfortunately for Alaskans in their only Congressional District, you entered the primary thereby robbing your would-be constituents of principled Republican representation in the form of Lt. Gov Sean Parnell. Now they (and Republicans everywhere) will have to suffer under Don Young another two years.

Now I asked the third candidate in MD's primary why he entered the race knowing full well that by doing so he was virtually guaranteeing that the incumbent would win. He has not seen fit to answer.

So I put it to you, madame. Why did you enter the primary to unseat Don Young in a campaign you couldn't possibly hope to win?

I am curious as to the answer and will share it with you. Since Sen. Pipkin won't give us the benefit of his "wisdom" voluntarily and we sure as heck can't count on the "working press" in this state to ask the hard questions, then we might need to see Ms LeDoux's response.

And here it is!

Dear Mike,
I realize that this can sometimes be a concern, but I do believe that this scenario can be looked at in two ways. First, I did enter the race a few months before Mr. Parnell stated his intention to run, so in that respect you could say that he possibly took votes from me. Also, is it possible that Mr. Parnell had a better showing because constituents would have voted for Mr. Young if they hadn't voted for me?

Thank you for taking the time to voice your opinion.

Gabrielle LeDoux

Representative, District 36

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Visitors and Commenters

Aside from a few blood relatives (my dad being by biggest fan), and other local bloggers, most people come by Mike's Nether Land by accident.

One visitor, however, doesn't fall into the above categories. This person was until this morning, just a nuisance commenter, though a peculiar and foul-mouthed one. That was when I fired up my e-mail account and my StatCounter. The morning's mail brought the familiar comment which I promptly rejected. However, instead of just the usual "Ha one reads this [expletive]," the weirdo tacked on a few other gems that has lent some clues as to his identity. He used a phrase to qualify his usual "no one reads this..." admitting that my "blood relatives" as well as he himself might be reading my blog.

This struck me because I had recently used the same phrase to describe the mutinous Eastern Shore "Republicans" in my last post:
It seems that the disaffected Gilchrest staff and blood relatives have taken issue with their brethren in District 1 for turning out their man and have been actively campaigning for Kratovil.
I didn't think much of it after I rejected the comment until I looked at the StatCounter. This is a fascinating free service that any blogger worth his salt should have. It tells you everything about the people who visit your site. Everything. So it is that I know that my obscene commenter is from Stevensville, MD, of all places. Hmmmmmm....who else do I know is from Stevensville and who has borne the brunt of my attacks for the past four years?
[Company Name withheld][IP address withheld] [Label IP Address]
Stevensville, Maryland, United States, 0 returning visits

26th September 2008 20:17:25 netherland (searches yahoo using 'mike's netherland')
26th September 2008 20:18:38 (reads the Eastern Shore Philosophy and goes to leave a comment, fails)
26th September 2008 23:08:53 (looks me up again but doesn't try to leave a comment)
27th September 2008 09:54:55 (Back at it again early the next morning. Must be really steamed, takes about a minute to re-read the post, pick up the "blood relative" reference then...)
27th September 2008 09:55:23 (...straight to post a successful comment, that I reject a few minutes later)
27th September 2008 09:55:31 (reviews the post to see if I accepted it.)
I know what you're thinking. Yes technically he is from Kennedyville. I don't know ES-geography that well, but it doesn't matter. I can assume that he doesn't even know that I exist. But there may be others, say the Rockfish Republicans (or as I like to call them, morons) for instance, who may feel a bit singed. So while I don't know his name, I think I know where I can find him and what company he keeps.

My advice: Bookmark my site. Leave a comment that I can publish. Hmmmm? I do encourage people to comment and feel comfortable in debating me and other commenters the issues I bring up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eastern Shore Philosophy

The Annapolis Kapital, in its continuing campaign against Maryland Republicans, last night ran an exhaustive, in-depth study of why it thinks Andy Harris should not win the District 1 Congressional seat this November.

Now, to call the Kapital-paper reporting one-sided would be redundant. But the Eastern Shore "Republicans" have given the Kapital-paper (and by extension the Democrats) a gift. Federal election officials might want to investigate whether misguided Republicans have provided essentially an in-kind campaign donation to the Kratovil-for-Congress campaign.

It seems that the disaffected Gilchrest staff and blood relatives have taken issue with their brethren in District 1 for turning out their man and have been actively campaigning for Kratovil. They have noticed how the anti-Republican press (again, redundant) begins to drool when they sense a split in the party, especially when that split would lead to a Democratic victory.

So the "Eastern Shore Philosophy" was born. What is this philosophy? The newshounds over at the Kapital-paper don't tell us. Is it all that important? As long as there is a split in the party that could lead to a Democratic victory, who cares what they call it? Let's take a stab at defining it. Eastern Shore Philosophy:
1. Is what comes galloping WEST across the Bay Bridge every morning, in search of Western Shore philosophy money
2. Is blaming the Western Shore for all the environmentally unfriendly activity, such as forcing gigantic poultry farms onto the peaceful and environmentally-sensitive corn farmers and watermen of the Eastern Shore.
3. Is taking all the Western Shore Tourist dollars then blame them for the beach-going traffic jams.

Here's a message for the "Rockfish Republicans:" Why don't you find some self-respect, change parties and send the Kratovil for Congress campaign, the Sierra Club, the ACLU, the Obama campaign and the Islamic Republic generous donations? As it is, you are hijacking Flight GOP and providing the bottom-feeding press (I know!) with all the red meat they can digest.

You can't have it both ways. You can't have Western Shore money AND Eastern Shore philosophy. Please spare us another sappy, sickening Kapital profile on the Eastern Shore Indians who want nothing more than to live in peace and harmony with nature. I don't much care whether you live or starve on the Eastern Shore, just don't register as Republicans. OK?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wayne's Mistress

I am speaking, of course, of the Annapolis Kapital. Not just the editorial pages but the whole operation, ostensibly a newspaper produced by professional journalists. But this weekend's Editor's Notebook tried, as a faithful and proud mistress would for her man, to put the best face on the Gilchrest-as-Democratic-supporter news this week.

First, a word on political primary campaigns, especially Republican ones. There is no such thing as a congenial primary campaign. The act of politicking is not to be confused with the activities and goals of a ladies sewing circle or a Boyscout Jamboree. The goal of a political campaign is to win the hearts, minds or votes of a majority of people. If your goal is to conduct a congenial campaign then you might as well not even run. You are not going to win by espousing the virtues of your opponent.

Now, if you are convinced that YOU are the best man for the job, that necessarily means that your opponent is not. Boo. Hiss. How bitter. How nasty! What do you mean implying that I am not right for the job? How dare you even consider running against me! You are so mean and nasty. Ugh. One can hear almost the same kind of rhetoric on any given elementary school playground.

So, can we dispense with the "nasty" and "bitter" qualifiers of any primary campaign in which we are the losers? Can't we just win or lose like grown men and women? Hmm? Thank you.

Now, of course the Kapital-paper editors were not surprised that Gilchrest lost to the better candidate, Andy Harris. That didn't stop the editors from endorsing him. Neither were they shocked when the man-without-a-party pledged his support, whatever that means, for the Democrat to prevail against Harris in November.

But the editors are still grappling with the mood of District 1 GOP voters. Only the Kapital-paper can find irony in the dumping of Wayne Gilchrest after they pretty much laid out in the previous paragraphs how Gilchrest was practically begging to be dumped. How could they vote against one Vietnam veteran (Gilchrest) and for another (McCain)? McCain puts principle above party. Gilchrest is independent, thinks for himself. McCain is a maverick. Gilchrest is not a sheep. One and the same! Right? Cut from whole cloth! Yes? Separated at birth! No?

The editors go on to try to explain the difference between national and congressional campaigns. The national ticket "is won and lost in the middle." National candidates need "some support from moderates and independents." Still struggling with what this has to do with Gilchrest lending his Republican affiliation to support the Democrat? Well, the editors tie all this together in the next paragraph describing how modern computers make Gerrymandering congressional districts a science virtually guaranteeing that incumbents (of the party in power) will never lose! see....that means that poor politicians like Gilchrest are forced to cross party lines in order to get anything done! Aha! Thereby.... uh ...incurring the wrath of the party faithful and losing in a nasty, bitter, evil, dastardly and hurtful primary campaign!

The solution? To what, losing a nasty primary? It doesn't matter. Just go with it. Stop allowing elected officials to Gerrymander (I wonder why they don't use that term?) congressional districts! This will lead to congenial political campaigns? Will this require amending the U.S. or State Constitutions?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Si, Hablo Espaniol?

I am certain that I butchered the spelling and punctuation of the now-ubiquitous disclaimer found on most government written matter. So it was with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools annual letter from the Superintendent welcoming its little liberal\union indoctrinees back to camp. One side of the letter was written in the familiar English while the other side contained its Spanish translation.

I didn't read either version. If I had I'm sure I would be writing about the union propaganda and politically-correct tripe that I am sure the waste of paper contained. The prospect of boring you with yet another gripe about our public school system led to me to ask myself, out loud, some questions about the bilingual bilge water that you and I paid to have written and mailed to us (I assure you, my wife regrets having brought the thing to my attention):

1. What about Arabic or Chinese translations? Does it mean that only the Spanish-speaking minority in this country is apparently incapable of learning the language of their adopted homeland? Apparently the AACPS expects immigrants from other countries to be capable of learning English. If I were Hispanic, I would be insulted that the government thinks so little of me, as an adult parent of school-age children, as to consider me illiterate in English.
2. Where are the immigrant lobbyists and pressure groups for the Korean, Dutch and Russian folks who, after waiting for years for an immigration visa, finally arrive in time to receive important communication from the Superintendent? I guess, since they had to wait so long, they were expected to learn English well enough to recognize union propaganda and politically-correct tripe when they see it.

It continues to amaze me that liberals don't get the nuances involved here. Is this not the "soft bigotry of low expectations" that George Bush described back in 2000?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The MARC...Train

As many of you know I am one of the many thousands of workers who commute to Washington DC from all over Maryland. For me this means a short (20 minute) drive to and from the Odenton MARC Station (suffering only the embarrassing butchery of the English language on local music and talk radio). We can tell it is the Odenton MARC Station because that is one of the two messages displayed on a half-dozen expensive-looking computerized marquees erected along the platform.

The other message, of course, is one that indicates how many tens of minutes your train will be late in arriving. The latter message is one that gets the most work out of the expensive-looking computerized system and this has prompted the most recent arrivals to the MARC commuters paradise to raise hell with the MTA.

After back-to-back weeks of late, over-crowded and cancelled trains the MTA administrator Paul J. Wiedefeld apologized for the shoddy service in a long, heart-rendering e-mail message in which he blamed:

  • Rising summer temperatures put additional stress on equipment and tracks, increasing the likelihood of failure;
  • A severe storm cut power to the track signals and blew down trees along the Brunswick Line, forcing us to cancel service;
  • A fuel tanker overturned on I-95 in Baltimore City, causing fire authorities to close the Camden Line;
  • Our fleet of diesel locomotives is nearly 40 years old, and despite a major overhaul 10 years ago is increasingly unreliable;
  • Electric locomotives used on the Penn Line have been out of service for a scheduled overhaul, requiring us to use the older diesel locomotives instead; and
  • Persistent reliability problems with our newest electric locomotives.

Veteran victims of MARC "service" have learned to expect little or no customer service. I replied nonetheless with my usual tact:

Dear MARC\MTA knuckledraggers,

Speaking as one who has been a victim of MARC-ism going on 20 years now, I can confidently say that if you people ran a train service on the salt flats of Bonneville (this is a place, I should explain for the geographically-challenged of you, which is probably all of you, where there are no trees, no storms, no fuel-tankers and only one temperature) that you would STILL find a way to make us miserable.

I, for one, am tired of hearing about all the problems that are beyond your control. Save it. It's NEVER your fault. It's always this weather, that fire, or it's Amtrak's fault....

Well, you get the idea. Some years ago, before the dawn of blogs, I started an e-mail group dedicated to MARC passengers and especially their stories, complaints, and innovative solutions to the problems plaguing the system. The posts were interesting and controversial sparking lively debates between the MARC passengers and the knuckledraggers charged with running the rolling stock up and down the Penn Line.

So I think I'll start another Blog strictly for the MARC riders out there. Send me an e-mail message if you want to be a contributor. Please be sure to include your name and which MARC station you usually wait for late and cancelled trains.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Drilling for Oil

OK. I signed Newt Gingrich's "Drill Here ... " petition for three reasons. The main reason is that our beloved Chairman, Dr. James Pelura, has signed, making him as far as I can tell, the only elected official from Maryland to have done so. He provided this statement to the American Solutions website conducting the petition:
"To insure our National and Economic Security, America must become energy independent. By using good old-fashioned American ingenuity and resourcefulness, we can achieve this independence by developing alternate forms of energy, pushing ahead with the expansion of nuclear power and an aggressive policy of domestic oil exploration and extraction."
Classic Pelura. I started leaning toward signing after I confirmed that Wayne Gilchrest refused to do so. I am not sure how exactly, but Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia has a list of his colleagues (and soon to be former colleagues) "...who said "No" to the petition"

(From Congresman Lynn Westmoreland's site:

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.).......Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.)
Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.).......Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)........Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.)
Rep. R. Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.)....Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.)
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.).................Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.)
Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas).....Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.)
Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.)...Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.)
Rep. I.Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)........Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.)
Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.)...........Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.)..............Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.)

I was a bit surprised to see Congressman Bartlett's name on the list. I thought he had renounced his "Peak Oil" position months ago.

The third reason is that, although I have a bone to pick with Newt, (and yes, I posted this on my blog, just in case people are running low on irony) I just like the idea of drilling for oil in this country. Not because I believe in pursuing the ideal of energy independence, which, as I have explained in a previous post, is neither an attainable nor a desirable goal.

Rather, I relish the idea of seeing the likes of Nancy Pelosi, the eco-freaks, turn pale as the oil rigs and platforms go up (especially in ANWR, oh I could sell tickets to the see-that-look-on-her-face event!). I also like the idea of watch Hugo Chavez wither and die, the OPEC emergency meetings and the knock-down-drag-outs they'll have!

Yes, these are a few of my favorite things.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Peeves - Language

No, I am not going to go on and on about politically correct speaking and writing, in this Peeve. Instead I will go on and on about the stupid things I hear and read on a daily basis. I recently received as a Father's Day gift an iPod Shuffle to block out most of the speech garbage; everything from the way people speak, like, you know, people of very small minds both young and old. However, I am still exposed occasionally to gross misuse of the English language.

Let's start with the redundancies. The weather report will invariably include a reference to "rain showers." This reference is used, obviously, so that listeners won't be misled into thinking that there will be a 20 percent chance of a meteor shower or a bridal shower, I guess.

These reports are usually heard on the news that may include a reference to headlines in "the Sun paper." This one took me a while to figure out. There must be a good reason, I thought, why he is referring to The Baltimore Sun as the Sun paper. Why not just "the Sun?" Is it because he is afraid people will think he is actually seeing these headlines in that great ball of blindly hot gases around which the Earth revolves? Are these the same people who would run out and buy a baby gift after listening to the weather?

I am usually exposed to such things whilst driving during my daily commute on "the MARC train." Traffic reports will describe incidents or conditions one may encounter "travelling Northbound" or southbound. Now in most places the English language is heard, one is either travelling north OR one is northbound. Only in Maryland can one be both. And I have actually seen this in writing in the Kapital paper.

I listen, painfully, to talk radio during my morning and evening commute. During Tony Pann's or Justin Berk's weather report we may be warned about high temperatures that may reach "a hunnert, or a hunnert 'n one." Pann or Berk, usually plugs the report's sponsor that invariably includes a toll-free phone number: "1 8-hunnert, 9-hunnert-1234"

I thought this may be just a quirky way of speaking, akin to Tommy Lasorda's legendary sayings. I was wrong. A long-time sponsor of the radio station is a hearing specialist called Audiology Associates and following a real toe-tapper of jingle, the narrator tries to describe the practice's service and all the wonderful things they can do for you. He sounds like he can't hear his own voice. Imagine Tom Brokaw at the bottom of a well trying to communicate to you using a tomato can and some string. At the end of his spiel, though he manages to get in the phone number: "410-944- thirty-one-hunnert."

It took me months of listening to this radio ad before I recognized the word "balance." He was trying to say "hearing and balance," but the only thing I could make out was "hearing and ba." I remember thinking how insanely ridiculous it was to have a radio ad for a hearing aid service that listeners could barely hear! After a while I began thinking how shrewdly cunning it was to have a radio ad for a hearing aid service that made you THINK you couldn't hear!

Finally, I want to advise all public speakers (and, alas, some writers) that there is no law requiring you to stick the meaningless phrase: "going forward" or its cousin, "going fo-ward" at the beginning or end of any sentence. Unless you are describing the direction relative to a stationary object the phrase has no meaning. If you can't think of something meaningful to say, then simply stop talking.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dependence on Foreign Oil?

Energy policy seems to be tied to the mantra of Energy Independence. The Harris campaign has picked it up (as have the campaigns of every politician running for every elective office in the land) and has included it in his unique blend of short-and long-term prescriptions for returning to lower energy costs.

I argued that attempting to address something called "dependence on foreign oil," without defining what this means was not an honest or intelligenct approach to our problem; that the nature of the global oil market and the goal of lowering prices, in fact, depends on foreign oil or at least the behavior of foreign oil producers. A friend of mine responds:
"I totally disagree with you that drilling here in the United States would not eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. IF there is the oil that some folks are talking about under our own soil (or within our coastal limits), we could easily tell the Middle East to get lost insofar as their oil is concerned. The longer we put off drilling here, the longer we will have to allow others to drive our economy."
To which I reply that even if the oil companies can drill tomorrow in Severna Park and pump a million barrels a day, ask yourself these questions:

Q. What will they do with that oil?
A. Sell it
Q. To whom will they sell it?
A. To the highest bidder
Q. Where will they find the Highest Bidder?
A. The world oil market, open 24\7\365.

IF the current suppliers of our oil want to keep selling us oil, they will have to compete by lowering their price or by lowering the supply. So what we WILL do by drilling here and now is force the suppliers to compete. We do not want that foreign supply to dry up though, because then there'll be no more competition. What we WON'T do is reduce or eliminate our "dependence on foreign oil."

Nearly a week later Martin Feldstein would write practically the same thing for Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

The alternative reality is that we close our market to foreign oil and require refineries to buy only from domestic oil companies who can only sell domestically produced oil. I don't think you really want this to happen. Closing our market will, in fact, eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, but at what cost?

Hmmmmm....closing our market to world oil supply....I'll have to explore that. It's an intriguing idea.

Friday, July 04, 2008

"Faith in America"

On this Independence Day, as a light rain falls over Severna Park, please read the essay below, written by our esteemed Republican Chairman, Dr. James Pelura. It expresses many of the sentiments and principles that we all hold as conservative Republicans.

by Dr. James Pelura III
Chairman, Maryland Republican Party

“Faith – to trust in, to believe in, have confidence in, loyalty to”.
To read the papers, one would think that America is rapidly going to “hell in a hand-basket.” All we read about is the high numbers of foreclosures, while never seeing reports that 96% of all mortgage payments are being made on time.

The press, along with an uninformed public, cry out to Congress to “fix this mess.” However, in reality, the greatest scandal of the mortgage crisis is that it was an intentional loosening of underwriting standards by our government.

At the core of this “crisis” are loans made with essentially no underwriting standards – no verification of income or assets; no down payments and very little consideration of the applicant’s ability to make payments.

And who is responsible for these ill-conceived policies? It was our own U.S. Congress and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1995 that essentially ordered lending institutions, under threat of repercussions from the Justice Department, to loosen their lending policies and approve more loans.

Ironically, the one mortgage lender that followed “the most flexible underwriting criteria permitted” was none other than Countrywide Mortgage!

For Congress to chastise Countrywide and other lending institutions for the subprime mortgage situation is the ultimate act of chutzpah!

Congress is now blaming those institutions for simply doing what they were told.
The price of oil is sky-high and gasoline is pushing $5.00 per gallon while our elected representatives in Washington are standing in the way of energy independence.

This obstruction of America’s pursuit of energy independence shows a deep disrespect for and a serious loss of faith in the American spirit and American ingenuity and know-how.

America can and will develop safe and economical nuclear power. America can and will develop clean coal technology.

America can and will be the leader in alternative forms of energy such as hydrogen fuel-cell technology, nuclear fusion, wind, solar, etc.

America can and will discover and extract our own petroleum reserves in an ecologically responsible way.

Congress – get out of the way and let us do it!

War is hell! The critics say that we must cut and run in Iraq. That all is lost. But there is never mention of the millions of lives saved from Saddam Hussein’s gas, or the open markets in Baghdad, or the new schools, power plants, sewage and water plants, or most importantly, the first democratically elected government in that country in decades.

Just a few short years ago, all of America, most of the members of the US Congress and most of the leaders of the free world were calling for Saddam Hussein’s ouster.

This was a man who claimed to have weapons of mass destruction, repeatedly threatened to use them and had actually unleashed them on his own people. Nearly 90% of Kurdistan villages, over 4,000, were wiped out when he used chemical weapons (mustard gas and nerve agents). In addition, if they were not killed by the chemical onslaught, they were captured and sent to detention centers where most died of starvation or dehydration.

All this was evident to the world while Saddam repeatedly refused UN inspectors into his country.

The men and women of our military understand the mission in Iraq, they see the benefits to the Iraqi people, the United States and the entire free world. They are proud to be a part of the extraordinary liberation of that country.

All of America owes them a serious debt of gratitude and we should all be as supportive and proud of the mission as they.

There are many that look to government to solve our problems. That approach could not be more wrong.

The solutions to many of our problems lie not in Washington (or in Annapolis) but in every household in America. It is time to put earnings back in the hands of the people, time to put trust back in the hands of the people, time to put America back in the hands of the people.

Many of the problems that we are dealing with at home were not caused by a misalignment of the moon or stars, erratic weather patterns or even global warming! They were caused by misguided governmental policies and a basic misunderstanding of human nature.

President Reagan’s comments are as true today as they were in 1984 – “You cannot create a desert, hand a person a cup of water and call that compassion. You cannot pour billions of dollars into make-work jobs while destroying the economy that supports them and call that opportunity. And you cannot build up years of dependence on government and dare call that hope.”

We must remember that, other than National Security, our government’s primary role is to create the environment for individuals to flourish and be able to reach their full potential.
A society of opportunity awaits us. We must only believe in ourselves and give men and women of faith, courage and vision the openings and freedom to build it.

Let the naysayers and pessimists run down America and try to punish success. Let them call you greedy, selfish, and uncaring for not wanting government to take more and more of your money.
The critics of America are wrong on taxes, national defense, free markets, individual freedoms, our place in the world and our traditional way of life.

It is time that we say no to those who keep saying no to America. It is time to say that if you do not have FAITH in America and her people, stand aside and we will get the job done!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Saving the Party - Part I

Ok, this is going to sound really simple. My solution for all the problems we face as a nation and as a Party:

1. Have all the Republicans vote like Republicans.
2. Elect more REAL Republicans. If you are not sure what a real Republican is, chances are you are in the wrong party, like Wayne Gilchrest's top advisers.

None of the measures you can dream up will do any good unless you start showing that YOU are SERIOUS. You, me, Newt, can all think of a million policies that would benefit this nation. But none of them has a snowball's chance with Wayne Gilchrest and his ilk still voting and our minority leader campaigning for them! No, the solutions need to start with a baseline of party principle. We need to show the party faithful and the American people that we are serious. Dead serious. Here are three things Congress can do NOW:

1. John Boehner needs to step down or be forced out, sent packing, etc.
2. The new minority leader needs to put Jeff Flake and other real Republicans on the Appropriations Committee and otherwise "reward bad behavior."
3. The NRCC needs to BUTT OUT of Primary campaigns. You people do not have what it takes to back the right horse. Send your money to the Club for Growth instead. DO it. Do it Here. Do it Now! Anything less and you are just blowing smoke.

For all those conservatives of all ages, in and out of office; business "leaders;" Chambers of Commerce and bloggers deluded into thinking they are leading a conservative "movement" that is vulnerable to attack by the liberals:

STOP using the Politically Correct lexicon of the Left. There is nothing more sickening than to hear conservative commentators tripping all over their Political Correctness. The sad part is that as each generation is indoctrinated by the liberal "teaching" institutions, the more difficult it becomes. The Left invented the multicultural pap and we should eschew it.

For example, I have never read a column by Thomas Sowell, whose writing and opinions are highly respected among conservatives and liberals alike, in which he uses the term "African American." Until I and my family are referred to as Serbo-Arab-Irish-German-Americans, I will continue to refer to blacks as blacks when and if a racial qualifier is required. And I expect my political leaders, especially those who call themselves conservatives to do likewise.
And what does African American mean? The last time I checked, Africa was a huge continent made of hundreds of different countries. Can white people from South Africa and Zimbabwe be called African Americans? Can Arabs from Egypt to Morocco be called African Americans? Get back to me on this one.

Similarly, the Left has all but succeded in eliminating the differences between the sexes. There are no more firemen or spokesmen, or chairmen (At least the men and woman in blue have managed to keep their sexual identities. I have yet to hear "policeperson." This is another unintended benefit of being an armed force.) I can't wait to hear the PC term for Alderman. Alderperson? There are no more stewardesses, or waitresses or actresses. What happended? Well there are books and books on this matter. The point is we can and we should bring them back. I listened to Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee tonight in the same breath, refer to Rep. Henry Waxman as "the Chairperson" and then, after realizing Waxman is a man, decided it was PC to refer to him as the Chairman of a committee.

Now comes Enviro-speak. I am shocked at how quickly so-called conservatives have succumbed to this latest fad of liberalism. "Greenhouse Gas" is now a term of science. Soon it will take its place on the Periodic Table of elements. I just saw a science documentary on the formation of the Earth. The planet was periodically a ball of ice and a tropical paradise, for billions of years, when the most sophisticated creature on earth had one cell and a little tail that it used to go after littler creatures! The scientists interviewed for the program lectured us that periodic warming and cooling was a natural process! Yet these same scientists, after the interview, went back to painting their "Stop Global Warming, Now" placards to wave in protest of plans to build an oil refinery or feed an oil commodity speculator.

STOP with the running side-show of alternate energy sources: "bio-fuels, solar, wind, geothermal." You don't have to show that you know at least four of the most-hyped alternate energy sources. You don't need a sexual-orientation-style disclaimer (everytine I see that litanny I always think: gay, lesbian, bi, transsexual, both, neither and, all of the above). You're not going to hurt anyone's feelings if you leave them out or just call them "other."

The prescriptions in this post are easy to follow for those with brains and spines and courage. Take two and call me in the morning.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is it Enough for What?

I've been looking all weekend for a way to mention the recent bit of bad news for the teacher unions in the Wall Street Journal. The Weekend Edition's editorial page highlighted a program called Teach for America, the 1990 brainchild of Princeton undergrad Wendy Kopp who thought inner-city public school students deserved a chance to learn from the best and brightest, rather than from the shift-working teacher-mill grads.

Well, I've found my angle. In the Charles County Cafe blog post wondering whether a 3.5 percent raise is "enough." To regular readers of my blog, the answer to this rhetorical question is clear. No, it is never enough. No matter how high the increase, the teacher unions will always find a way to demand more. It's what a union does.

Well, now it seems that for nearly 20 years many thousands of young, idealistic graduates of America's top colleges have been flocking to Teach for America and I am just hearing about it now. It seems to be the new Peace Corps. They, like their counterparts of decades past, see a way to make a real difference by bringing their newly minted expertise in a variety of fields of learning to disadvantaged public school kids. Like the Peace Corps, they spend a few years usually two or three, then move on to careers in their various professions carrying with them special knowledge and experience gained from such service.

What I couldn't figure out, after scanning about seven pages of Google hits on the subject, is whether they are forced to join the union. From what I could tell, they perform their service at BELOW cost; that is, they are an attractive option for school districts because they do not earn union scale. And recent studies show they are doing a damn good job. It's something about wanting to teach and to reform the education system, without being forced into some featureless, vat of homogeneous Union glop and extruded into the standard public school teacher mold.

The difference is that these people are professionals who happen to want to teach. Their counterparts meanwhile are simply trained union members. Even those who really want to teach are ill-prepared to do so; their training being in the interpretation of arcane school curricula, laws, regulations and yes, politics. Teach for America candidates are giving a few weeks of training and are turned loose to teach.

Well the stories I've been missing have do mention the challenge TFA poses to union power however, no one can seem to get the NEA or the American Federation of Teachers to go on the record. You know NEA's motto: If you can't say something bad about an obvious threat to your existence, don't say anything at all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Getting Under Their Skin

I think I'm starting to get to them. In response to this post on my blog:

This is rich. The Hill on June 8th featured remarks by our Dear Leader on the House floor following the latest record price per gallon:
“Boehner touted the GOP’s plan to reduce the burden at the pump and blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not bringing it to a vote.”
But Boehner himself campaigned for an incumbent Republican who would vote AGAINST drilling for oil anywhere. He and Newt Gringrich came to MD’s District 1 to campaign for Wayne Gilchrest, whose record on drilling and other attempts to increase the supply of energy to Americans is clear.
Thank God, his and Newt’s attempts were unsuccessful. No thanks to them, Dear Leader Boehner now has another vote he can count on (assuming, of course, that Andy Harris wins in November)..... Oh, hey, Newt, the Club for Growth is targeting Don Young of Alaska. Did you hear? Are you going to stump for him as well? I am sure he was a loyal member of the team when you were Speaker! Yeah, so we need to keep jerk like him in office. And are you stumping for Jeff Flake's primary opponent? I know, you can't be a hypocrite everywhere at the same time, alas.
One of my commenters had this to say:
Please! Enough with the Gilchrest Crud. This must be your 40th Gilchrest post. You are in "By God Socialist Maryland" for God's Sake. Snowe and Collins are Cult Heros there - as well as McCain. Save Yourself - Give it a Break. ********************************************** Feel Free to come to Southwest Ohio and try to find a REAL Conservative challenger to Boehner. Shows How goofy You Really Can Be. Its time you sell that broken record. Save Yourself! Get some professional help.
I'm thinking he's from Ohio. Must've touched a nerve there when I mentioned I was urging Andy Harris to travel to Boehner's district and campaign for his primary opponent, you know, as a way of saying "Thanks, pal."

So? Are we all Socialists here in MD? Are Sens. Snowe and Collins cult heroes for us Republicans? Are you going to take this lying down? Why don't you visit my Newt-blog and offer some friendly's a link.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Government by Ox-Goring

Recent fallout from the County budget for the next FY would be funny if it weren't so sad. For me it started when (another) former friend thought to include me in plea to help save funds to keep our public libraries open and fully staffed. She wanted us to write to our County Council representatives and express shock and dismay that they would let a little thing like a budget dictate which services can and cannot be funded.

After noticing at least one Anne Arundel County Public School system domain among the e-mail addresses, I knew my response would be easy. The gist was,"You are writing to the wrong people. You should address your concerns to the Teachers Unions of this county because it is they who are in control of the County budget despite what the Charter says." I was referring to the "extra" $13 million the Union extorted from county taxpayers. Call me crazy but I just assumed that some of that money was "found" in the public library budget.

So here we have another panicked parent who faced not only the loss of her son's "favorite" teacher but also of her own job at the library. Was she one of panicky few demanding that the Council save the teachers? Probably. Did it occur to her that by saving the teachers she was dooming her own job? Probably not. And that is the sad part.

Since my short "debate" with her I have read letter after letter in the Annapolis Kapital crying about the inequity of funding the teachers union at the expense of the Libraries. The last one I read was from the chairman of the library association (I guess that's the union) itself!

Now, what moral, what lesson can we draw from all of this? You tell me.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Panicked-Parents Profile #1

The first profile in panicked parents of public school children describes a member of the Anne Arundel County Council. Since the profile is based on an e-mail message not expressly meant for the blog I will make it anonymous.

Panicked Parent No. 1: Anonymous
Occupation: County Coucilmember

This time you are wrong. We moved money around in the budget to see that the construction and renovation projects that Leopold refused to fund were funded. I am always disturbed when I am told my [child] will have 40 kids in a class that physically and educationally can only handle about 25. Maybe that is OK with you, but not me. Your [Councilmember] held the line on taxes. Your [Councilmember] worked to bring the state in on the conversation so as to better leverage our county dollars and get more construction dollars. The day after the budget amendments made by the council, the state awarded an additional 10k to the County based on their spending commitment.

What would you have rather I did? The students were left out of this budget and the council put them back. I won't apologize for that. Neither should you condemn us for doing what was right. Why is it that if education gets funded, you automatically go on the offensive and seem to indict the council and suggest we are beholding to the teachers. They are mad at us just as often as they are pleased. As it was, they did not get their negotiated 6% raise, they got 5%, but I guess that does not matter.
Issue: Seems to believe that 25 is the magic class size number for teaching. Also seems to believe that tax dollars coming from the State are not also coming from County tax-payers.

Conclusion: Has swallowed hook, line and sinker the Union's single-most effective line of propaganda, that class-size is scientifically linked to effective teaching.

Notes: PP#1, you must disabuse yourself of the notion that TAAAC and the TAAAC-fed public school bureaucracy have your child's education at heart in negotiating for anything. What it has is a body of education law within which it must work to increase its ranks. Basta. That's it.

Did you read my letter to John Leopold? Are you not concerned that what you are saying is exactly what your 4th-grade teacher (and 5th and 6th, etc.) told you was true? And you have done exactly what they have counted on: you have risen to power and influence under the belief that bigger classes are bad and more teachers are good. You probably even wrote to your County Executive, a heartless miser who lived only to see teachers, your teacher, suffer!

But Mike, I believed in Santa Clause, too, and I grew out of that, didn't I? Perhaps. But there is something very tangible about your 4th-grade teacher, more tangible than Santa Clause.

What would I have you do? Make them prove it. Make them work for their $13 million! For that much cash I want to see hard evidence that 26 or 40 students are impossible to teach. I want you to make the hard choices like Baking Class versus Reading; to explain to the panicked parents, that they can't have it all. And If they can't have it all at least they'll have kids who can read and write in English, better than kids from any other County in Maryland.

I DON'T want that money spent on teachers to indoctrinate MY kids in liberal theology! YOU can't guarantee that, now. That means I have to work harder.

I want you to STOP giving these blood-suckers another second of stage time for the Union hacks down at the Annapolis Fish Wrap. Stop giving these public school prima donnas more reasons to keep coming back for more. Stop giving them, on a silver platter, another Democratic campaign slogan they'll use in county and State races: A Vote for a Democrat is a Vote for the Kids!