Truth Check: 42% of our Active Duty Soldiers are against the Iraq War Policy

It is completely disingenuous to claim that only .04% of American troops are against the Iraq War. Since the comments don't seem to work over at the Baltimore Reporter, I will respond to the article here.

All one needs to do is look at the Military Times poll from Dec 2006. Now, I agree with the article at the Baltimore Reporter that the 60 minutes piece may paint a more negative troop outlook than is the reality, but claiming that only .04% of American troops are disagree with the war and the war policy is just as misleading, if not more.

Just look:

1) Are you on active duty?

NOTE: Only active-duty responses were counted in remaining results.

10) Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?
No opinion
Decline to answer

11) Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
No opinion
Decline to answer

12) Do you consider the war in Iraq to be part of the war on terrorism that began Sept. 11, 2001, or do you consider it to be an entirely separate military action?
Part of the war on terrorism
Separate military action
No opinion

The active duty military is even more evenly divided on Iraq than the American Public. Recent polls show American's disapproval for escalation is at 63% (which I admit is down from 70% a month ago).

Article's like the one linked earlier have one main goal, to silence dissenting opinions by making them look "out of the mainstream." The problem Curt from Flopping Aces, has is that he ignores the truth. Opposition to the Iraq War and the President's escalation policy are widespread in the public sphere and growing in the military one. The more difficult opposition becomes to ignore, the louder and bolder the lies become.


Redstate: BREAKING: Unsubstantiated Rumors and Heresay are Awesome

So much for proof. Its amazing the lengths that the right will go to support their "stay in Iraq forever or we all die" meme. Reality isn't important at all in GOP rumor mill.

Original Source Many comments on the post express the same sentiment, this Congresswoman is a wing-nut of the first order.

Human Trafficking in Maryland?

WJZ (in a rare moment of investigative journalism) has the story.

Maryland May Ban Political Robo-calls

Sounds good to me. After the terrible suppression techniques used by Republicans in Maryland in 2006, its time to end this practice. I was volunteer for the co-ordinated campaign, and when we would make our person to person calls, we received numerous complaints about robo-calls coming from Cardin and O'Malley. The thing is, most of these calls were not coming from Democrats, but from Republican political groups which started their calls with references to Maryland Democrats. When the voter hung up early, they had no way to hear the sponsor message at the end of the call.

This amounts to voter suppression through irritation. I can think of no other reason for the numerous, repeating robo-calls from Republicans other than to irritate Democratic voters and turn them off from their candidates.

I don't really see the inherent value of these calls over person to person calls, other than the fact that you need volunteers for person to person calls and all you need for weeks and weeks of robo-call irritation is a phone list and computer.

This would be similar to a Republican candidate finding a Democratic email list and sending hundreds of unsolicited emails to these addresses every day, in which the subject line declared the mail was from a Democratic candidate.

Now, perhaps there are regulations that don't go as far that could fix this problem. I think requiring disclosure of the calling organization at the start of the call would be great. Perhaps a required message for all calls that says "THIS IS AN AUTOMATED POLITICAL MESSAGE BROUGHT TO YOU BY '________' " I have a feeling that such a requirement would at least cut down on the number of calls and their effectiveness.

I need to pay my parking tickets

When you live in Baltimore, who knows what could happen?

Delegate Don Dwyer, Homophobe

As a Marylander, I am embarrassed by Delegate Don Dwyer and his attempts to codify his hatred for homosexuals into Maryland law. Its not enough for the Delegate that Maryland defines (wrongly in my opinion) marriage as between a man and a woman.
The amendment, as proposed in the Senate, would amend the state constitution to include the following: “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is a valid marriage in this state.”

Offered as Senate Bill 564, the amendment is championed by Sen. Larry Haines (R-Baltimore and Carroll counties) and supported by 12 other senators.

Meanwhile, Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) has introduced a similar measure via House Bill 919. His proposal calls for a similar definition, but also bars public schools from teaching about “same-sex relationships.” More than 30 delegates back the bill.
This is pandering to bigotry, pure and simple. Does Delegate Dwyer really believe that the state constitution should dictate public school curricula? What risk could there possibly be for teaching students about same-sex relationships?

Thankfully, the momentum is not behind Delegate Dwyer and his hateful cohorts. Instead it is behind Equality Maryland, 400+ members of which gathered before the statehouse to rally for marriage equality. Many in the legislature agree that these amendments are bunk:
Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) said Dwyer’s proposal has “no legs.”

She said his amendment’s stipulation that public schools not teach students about “same-sex relationships” did nothing to help his cause.

“He seems each year to take it one step further, to make it more ridiculous than the previous year in his quest to spew hatred toward the GLBT community,” she said. “He only won re-election by 25 votes. Perhaps his constituents were sending him a message that there are other priorities that he should be focusing on?”
And no, the opposition isn't only coming from Montgomery County:
Del. Galen Clagett (D-Frederick County)...

“I hate wasting time with this stuff,” he said. “We’re not dealing with real issues.”

Clagett, 65, said he so opposed the proposed amendment that he threw Dwyer’s request for support into the trash. To prove his point, the delegate later sifted through his trash bin and produced the document for a reporter.
Delegate Dwyer's website makes it clear that he is staunchly against gay rights. He lists Maryland politicians who "support gay rights" as if they are a list of convicted criminals. Lets hope the voters in Anne Arundel's 31st district can learn from the actions of Delegate Clagett, and ditch their support for Dwyer.


Bush Budget is Bad for Maryland

Is anyone really surprised?
The budget would cut $31.5 million in funding for elementary and secondary education in Maryland in 2012, according to the center's report.

Additionally, in 2008 the new budget would trim $10.7 million from Environmental Protection Agency clean water programs in Maryland, as well as cut $6.6 million from low-income home energy assistance, according to the center. The reductions are relative to the funding level in 2007 adjusted for inflation.
This is completely unacceptable.

Of course, Roscoe Bartlett is right there, carrying water for the President.
"The president has proposed to eliminate the budget deficit in five years without raising taxes by maintaining successful pro-growth economic policies and by restraining the growth in federal spending," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick. "I never forget that every dollar the government spends comes from taxes earned by workers or is borrowed from our kids and grandkids."

"However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wants the government to spend more and tax more of your money," said Bartlett.
I think Rep. Bartlett has been watching some other President. Starve the citizens and bolster the war effort. Cut education and energy support for the poor so you can give billions back to CEOs. Meanwhile, those of us caught in the middle, too "rich" for government assistance and tax breaks, and too poor to feel the "trickle down" or the "middle class tax relief" are left to wonder who the President and Rep Bartlett think their policies are really helping.

Bob Ehrlich to Join Money Launderers and Lobbyists at Law Firm

Via the Sun:

Bob Ehrlich and some of his cronies got some new jobs recently at the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice.
Former Deputy Chief of Staff Edward B. Miller and former counsel J.P. Scholtes, who are attorneys, will also join the group, as will David B. Hamilton, formerly of the Ober/Kaler law firm in Baltimore, who was Ehrlich's personal attorney.

Miller came in for heavy criticism from Democrats over the past four years for his association with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to state documents and congressional testimony, Miller was the founder and sole owner of a company that Abramoff used to launder money in 2003. Miller sold the company when he entered government service later that year and was never charged with a crime.

Also, Hamilton was the subject of a state ethics complaint over the government relations practice he set up at Ober/Kaler, though he was cleared of allegations that he improperly engaged in lobbying without registering with the state.

Ehrlich, a graduate of Princeton University, practiced law at Ober/Kaler for 12 years after graduating from the Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem (where Womble Carlyle is based). He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1989 to 1995 and in Congress from 1995 to 2003.
Nice to know that they are sticking together.

Death Penalty Repeal continued

Apparently, the Governor's remarks were similar to his op-ed in the WAPO, so there is no need to post them here. First, check out this article in the Sun.

A few things jumped out at me. The words of Harford County's top prosecutor were chilling to say the least.
Harford County's top prosecutor, Joseph I. Cassilly, said that not all lives are equal. Drug dealers and rapists, he said, are "not worth what someone's life is worth who's doing good."

"There is no justice without the death penalty," Cassilly said. "What coarsens and cheapens a life is when we allow a victim to be murdered, and society does nothing about it."
Thats right, the man charged with prosecuting lawbreakers in Howard county thinks that all lives are not equal (I wonder how he approaches repeat offenders, fairly I am sure). Thankfully though, much of the repeal opposition is slightly more reasoned and centered.

The main focus is now on the committee vote of Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Fredrick Republican.

Near the end of an afternoon of testimony, Mooney said he has never supported an outright repeal of the death penalty but would consider an amended bill that limits the use of the punishment to the most heinous of cases. He also said he would consider voting for the repeal legislation in committee so that the measure could be debated by the full Senate.

"I am still taking it all in," he said. "It will take a couple of days to consider all that's been said. Both sides have made some good points."

Lets make sure he gets the point. E-mail Senator Mooney and tell him to at least get the repeal bill out of committee for debate on the floor.


Delegate LeRoy Myers Wants to Ban "Truck Testicles"

I'm not kidding.

Hoyer and Ethics Reform

hat tip to Dailykos:

Steny has some (big) problems. Shameful indeed, but does anyone in Maryland really think Steny will change his tune? I certainly don't.

Need some Odd in your Life?

The American Dime Museum is having a liquidation auction. Finally, a chance to get the stuffed two headed goose and the dental practice head I have always wanted.

In Case You Couldn't Make it to Equality Maryland's Lobby Day

Maryland Needs Voluntary, Public Funding of Campaigns

Sean Dobson from Progressive Maryland thinks public funding will improve accountability, among other things.

I completely agree.

Matt Taibbi: Bush and Billionaires Ripping Us Off

Its tax time. Frustration, followed by feelings of ineffectualness are coming for so many Americans. Unless of course you happen to be a billionaire. Billionaires have the Bush budget to look forward to.

In his article, Taibbi points out the Bush plan to eliminate the estate tax, a move that would take billions of dollars away from taxpayers and essential programs and put it in the pockets of the richest people in the world.
...if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.

Some other notable estimate estate tax breaks, versus corresponding cuts:

* Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7 billion tax break while education would get $1.5 billion in cuts

* Nordstrom family (Nordstrom dept. stores) receives $826.5 million tax break while Community Service Block Grants would be eliminated, a $630 million cut

* Ernest Gallo family (shitty wines) receives a $468.4 million cut while LIHEAP (heating oil to poor) would get a $420 million cut

The wrongness is giving me stomach pains. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for tax cuts. Tax cuts for people that need them. Tax cuts for the working poor and working families. Not tax cuts for billionaires while cutting social programs, while still increasing spending.

Wait, I thought tax cuts were supposed to lead to lowered spending? Not really, not when you have no moral qualms with passing on crippling debt to numerous future generations.
Even if you're a traditional, Barry Goldwater conservative, the kinds of budgets that Bush has sent to the hill not only this year but this whole century are the worst-case scenario; they increase spending generally while cutting taxes and social programming. They commit taxpayers to giant subsidies of already Croseus-rich energy corporations, pharmaceutical companies and defense manufacturers while simultaneously cutting taxes on those who most directly benefit from those subsidies. Thus you're not cutting spending -- you're just cutting spending on people who actually need the money. (According to the Washington Times, which in a supremely ironic twist of fate did one of the better analyses of the budget, spending will be 1.6 percent of GDP higher in the 2008 budget than in was in 2000, while revenues will be 2.6 percent of GDP lower). This is something different from traditional conservatism and something different from big-government liberalism; this is a new kind of politics that transforms the state into a huge, ever-expanding instrument for converting private savings into corporate profit.

(emphasis mine)

So yeah, all of that is disturbing and wrong, but allow me to return to my arguement about good tax cuts. Here's some financial disclosure for you. I make less than $30k a year. Roughly 50% of my income goes to rent, and much more of it goes to electricity and food. I was extremely excited about getting back some substantial money this year, in the area of $1000 to $2000 back. To me, that is a few months of rent, a few college loan payments. It would have been a way to escape my current paycheck to paycheck living situation. Too bad I am only getting around $100 back.

I only bring this up because I think my situation shows how broken our tax system really is. $2000 (close to 20% of my income), money that is an H20 molecule in the ocean of federal and state spending, would be a huge benefit to me, but the government has no problem taking it. Meanwhile:
Sanders additionally pointed out that the family of former Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, who received a $400 million retirement package, would receive about $164 million in tax breaks.
Yes, I realize that the estate tax is different than income tax. But I makes me scratch my head when the President is working his ass off to get good ol' boy Lee Raymond another few million, while I and others in my economic situation hope and pray for a meager $2000 of our own money back.

Its time for a progressive tax cut. A tax cut for the poor and for the middle class. Everyone making under $50,000 a year should pay no income tax. Once that happens, maybe we can have a discussion about repealing the estate tax.

Bmorenews: 2006 Interviews with Gansler, Cardin, Major Rick Hite

A bit dated, but still interesting. Baltimore-centric interviews with some Maryland politicos from the good people at Bmorenews. Though very short, the Ben Cardin segment is worth watching simply to see Ben in a "club" setting.

Governor O'Malley to Testify for Death Penalty Repeal

Good for him. This is a pretty big deal, and it shows how important this issue is to the Governor. Hopefully, his remarks will be online by tonight or tomorrow.

In the meantime, read the Governor O'Malley's amazing editorial on the issue from today's WAPO. My favorite tidbit:
Human dignity is the concept that leads brave individuals to sacrifice their lives for the lives of strangers. Human dignity is the universal truth that is the basis of ethics. Human dignity is the fundamental belief on which the laws of this state and this republic are founded. And absent a deterrent value, the damage done to the concept of human dignity by our conscious communal use of the death penalty is greater than the benefit of even a justly drawn retribution.
Thank you, Sir. Lets hope the assembly joins him.

Update: You can help the Death Penalty repeal pass by contacting your legislators and urging them to vote yes on HB225 and SB211.


"Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes"

Watch it tonight if you get WETA (ch. 26) @ 11PM. MPT apparently thinks that this show won't get enough ratings for them to justify playing it in prime time (MPT cares about ratings? lol).*

While I think that this movie could have benefitted from some more independent voices in hip-hop (ie, those making hip-hop outside of the world of mainstream radio/record labels, including some extremely talented Baltimore Club producers), I am looking forward to seeing it.

*The scheduling (11pm?)/lack of promotion of this documentary is a perfect example of how shoddily run PBS really is. I am sure the massive funding cuts aren't helping.

I Almost Wish They Were Republicans

Almost (warning, sourceless rant coming).

There is nothing more frustrating than living in a state where Democrats control almost everything at the State level, and still, year after year, those same Democrats miss opportunities to pass progressive legislation.

It breaks my heart when Maryland Legislature misses it's chance to end the racist death penalty in Maryland, and instead, makes moves to start executions again, as quickly as possible.

It infuriates me when the Democratic Legislature makes a decidedly anti-consumer decision to deregulate our electricity.

It disappoints me that in Baltimore City, blue to the core, corrupt officials consistently side with big developers and uber-employer Johns Hopkins over the interests of regular citizens.

I don't really know any other way to hold these legislators accountable other than to present them with solid challenges in Democratic primaries. Progressive, Jamie Raskin was able to defeat Ida Ruben in a State Senate primary battle in 2006. That is what we need more of.

Compared to many of the local bloggers that I read, I know very little about local/state politics. What I do know, is that for some reason many Democrats in Maryland have lost their way. Anyone have any idea how to bring them back into the fold?

Maryland Bloggers take Note

Bruce Godfrey, owner of the ever growing Crabmedia has set up a "blog carnival" for Maryland. While I am not familiar with the concept, it looks like a really cool idea and I plan on contributing something. Maybe something along the lines of wondering how to make our Maryland politicians more accountable, particularly entrenched Maryland Democrats.