An Open Message to the Beams and MacFarlane Campaigns

August 30, 2010

(From an e-mail sent to the Beams and MacFarlane campaigns)

As I drove to work in Columbia from western Howard County this morning (Mon., 8/30/10), I was disheartened to see that Mr. MacFarlane’s campaign has joined Dr. Beam’s in littering Homewood and Folly Quarter Roads with numerous illegally placed campaign signs. Last Monday (8/23) morning, I noticed that Dr. Beam’s campaign had placed 5 or 6 campaign signs next to stormwater management ponds and in other open spaces where there could not possibly have been any consenting homeowner. This morning, the litter was more than doubled with placement of Mr. MacFarlane’s signs in similar areas and in an even more obvious improper space, i.e., the interior of the traffic circle at Homewood Road – Folly Quarter Road – Sheppard Lane. With nine weeks left before the general election, I fear that more candidates will be emboldened to join you in trashing this corridor. I suspect that other areas that I do not regularly drive may also be suffering from overzealous misplacement of signs.

I understand that neither of you personally may have placed these signs, but their placements reflect negatively on your campaigns. Please advise your volunteers about placing signs only with property owners’ consents, and where signs are permitted. I ask you both to remove the offending signs and cease placing signs improperly.


Why is the Obama Administration Against Americans?

August 19, 2010

Recent news stories illustrate how the Obama administration consistently views the world contrary to the wishes a vast majority of Americans.

With regard to the Arizona immigration law, roughly 70% of Americans support the position of the State of Arizona and oppose the Justice Department lawsuit against the state’s act of self-defense. Yet, the Justice Department selectively decides to challenge under the doctrine of pre-emption a state law that actually follows federal law, yet turns a blind eye to possible pre-emption challenges to dozens of politically correct cities that declare themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants and forbid their own police officers to enforce federal law. In my view, there can be no clearer violation of an elected official’s oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution than to direct local police NOT to enforce federal law. (I know that lax immigration enforcement was an issue under the Bush Administration as well, but that’s not the point: it’s the Obama Justice Department that is filing suit against Arizona.)

Then there’s the Ground Zero mosque. Again, roughly 70% of the population opposes the placement of the mosque/Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero. We all understand that the Islamic community has a constitutional right to worship where they wish. But there’s a difference between doing something because you have a right to do so and doing something that’s right to do. Most Americans believe this is not the right thing to do. As Ron Smith pointed out on his radio show, it’s no coincidence that the “Cordoba Islamic Center” is going up two blocks from Ground Zero. Cordoba was the site of the primary mosque during the Moorish occupation of Spain, built on the ruins of a Christian cathedral and which in turn was converted to a Christian cathedral after the Moors were expelled from Spain. Many Muslim clerics teach that Islam will return to Cordoba, and Corboba has become a Muslim metaphor for conquest of the West.

Nonetheless, President Obama needs to chime in to lecture the rest of us that Muslims have their rights and we need to be sensitive to the Islamic community. (Apparently, they need not be sensitive to us.) After the following hue and cry over the president’s remarks, he backtracked somewhat, then facing criticism from the left for his backtracking, backtracked from his backtracking.

Then there’s the whole Obama attitude that America is just the same as every other nation in the world. Gone is Ronald Reagan’s vision of America as a shining beacon on the hill standing out among the rest of the whole world. Instead we have the worldwide apology tour for all the perceived slights and grudges that the rest of the world holds. If America is not a special place, why are we a wealthy nation and yet neighboring Mexico (with plenty of resources of its own) is dirt poor? Could it be that our culture had something to do with creating that wealth? And if Mexico is the equal of the U.S., why are so many Mexicans clamoring to come here?

The overall attitude that I perceive is that President Obama has no real appreciation of American culture or greatness. He sees greatness only in how the pie is sliced so that everyone is treated “fairly.” He fails to the see the greatness in the people who make the pie in the first place.

Sarah Palin’s (and John McCain’s) Grand-Slam Home Run

September 4, 2008

All but the most partisan Democrats could not help but be impressed by Sarah Palin’s speech before the Republican National Convention last night (Wednesday, 9/3/08).  Even the talking heads among the MSM (including Keith Olberman) admitted her speech was impressive.  Her speech had the right balance of humor, seriousness, defiance and inclusiveness.

The only person alive who might not still be impressed with her is Susan Reimer of the Baltimore Sun (quoting from her article of 9/1/08):  “You want to look good to the evangelicals? Choose a running mate with a Down syndrome child.”   “I don’t know what I’ll do if she trots out the story of her 5-month-old baby to shore up the Republican base.”  Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued if a conservative columnist had written something like that about a liberal Democrat with a special needs child?  And liberals wonder why conservatives distrust the mainstream media.

But I digress.   I think more and more that McCain’s selection of Palin was a stroke of genius.  The teapot tempest over her 17-year-old daughter will be a forgotten footnote in this campaign in two weeks.  In the meantime, as Mike Huckabee jokingly but accurately noted, she has managed to unite and energize the Republican Party.

I heard some talk-show Democrats opine that by selecting Palin, McCain has blown his use of the issue of experience over Obama.  I strongly disagree, and here’s where I think the brilliance of her selection comes in.   McCain had repeatedly tried to hammer Obama’s lack of experience, and frankly it didn’t seem that he was getting any traction with it.  If McCain had selected a Washington insider to emphasize his experience even more, I doubt that he would have made any further headway; the McCain-Insider ticket would be dismissed as politics as usual.  But by picking Sarah Palin, the Democrats and the media couldn’t help themselves from attacking her lack of experience.  And what did that do?  It brought the experience issue front and center. And who wins that argument, even now?  The Republicans.  In one of the most meopmorable lines from her speech, Palin pointed out that her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska was like being a community organizer, except with responsibility.  The Republican vice-presidential candidate still has (at least arguably) better experience than the Democratic presidential candidate.   Brilliant!

Electoral Map 2008

April 2, 2008

Red-Headed Eskimo Zoning

December 13, 2006

For those not familiar with the term, in Annapolis a bill specifically aimed at one particular person is sometimes called a red-headed Eskimo bill, because the details in the legislation eliminate all but one person from its application.

Earlier this year, with very little publicity, section 131 of the Howard County zoning regulations, dealing with conditional uses in B-1 and B-2 (commercial) zones, was amended to allow age-restricted adult housing outside the Planned Service Area (i.e., outside the Eastern area served by water and sewer lines) if that development adjoins, or is within 200 yards of, a community shopping center with a food store greater than 15,000 square feet.

Now, you might be scratching your head wondering (1) what a 15,000 square foot food store has to do with age-restricted adult housing, and (2) where in Western Howard County is there such a property. I still haven’t figured out the answer to question (1) myself, but surprise, surprise, surprise, it turns out that there’s a 5.85 acre site just east of the Lisbon Shopping Center. And that shopping center just happens to contain a 15,000+ square foot Food Lion, which I believe is the only food store of such size in Western Howard County. And, in a further amazing coincidence, that property just happens to be owned by Democrat developer Don Reuwer and real estate attorney Dick Talkin.

Even though there’s no water or sewer lines in the area, the developers believe that this would be an appropriate site for five four-plex age-restricted housing units. For those of you who are not good at math, that works out to 20 housing units on a site that normally would be allowed less than 2 homes. Adding to area residents’ concern is that the same partnership owns a separate 7 acre tract just north of the shopping center.

The Lisbon-Woodbine area already has problems with well water quality, the legacy of a leaky underground gasoline tank from a number of years back. A nearby restaurant must have water delivered rather than cook with or serve water from its own well. A similar Reuwer development of age-restricted townhomes at Cattail Creek has been a disaster, with septic tanks that the developer admits must be pumped out three times daily. There are, of course, no fire hydrants in the area. The Lisbon Volunteer Fire Dept. is also concerned about the anticipated extra burden from added emergency medical calls.

I live about 4 miles away from the site and will not be affected significantly by this development, so I don’t really have any dog in this fight. But several of our friends live very close, and even next, to the site.  The developers held a second pre-submission community meeting last night (Tues., 12/12/06) in Lisbon.  We thank County Councilman Greg Fox for attending that meeting.  Now we’re not a bunch of rabid NIMBY villagers with torches and pitchforks, but we are concerned about the water quality in the area and interested in how the developers plan to address those concerns.

Bob Ehrlich’s 2010 Comeback

November 13, 2006

Bob Ehrlich’s initial comments to WBAL after the election seems to indicate that he may have written off his chances for any political comeback in Maryland, but I have not. Governor Ehrlich is only 49, and has plenty of time to revive his career. I have identified four races that Ehrlich might consider in 2010. At least two of these races could be influenced by whether or not Barbara Mikulski decides to seek re-election.

GOVERNOR – Right now this seems foolhardy, but a lot of things can happen in 4 years (as we well know). If, as I suspect, taxes and spending skyrocket, and/or if O’Malley stops construction of the ICC, enough voters might be persuaded that two-party government is a pretty good idea after all. In addition, maybe O’Malley doesn’t run for re-election.

COMPTROLLER – William Donald Schaefer showed how this office can be a bully pulpit and gives the office holder a powerful voice in State government. Presumably, Ehrlich would be facing incumbent Peter Franchot. Again, the viability of such a campaign could depend on Maryland’s fiscal situation in 2010.

U.S. SENATE – Barbara Mikulski will be 74 years old in 2010. Although that’s fairly elderly for a lot of people, it’s still middle-aged among Senators. Her decision on whether or not to run again will affect the governor’s race as well. If Mikulski decides not to run, O’Malley might be tempted to go for this race instead of seeking re-election as governor. Open Senate seats occur too rarely in Maryland, only every 20 years or so, and O’Malley might see Mikulski’s retirement as his prime opportunity for the U.S. Senate. In addition, there might be a lot of pressure on O’Malley to run for Senate to clear the way for Lt. Gov. Brown to run for governor. Lt. Gov. Brown might also be interested in the Senate seat himself, as might Lt. Gov. Steele.

BALTIMORE COUNTY EXECUTIVE – Jim Smith will be term-limited and so this would be an open seat in 2010. It remains to be seen whether Ehrlich would be willing to run for a local office, which would be seen as a demotion, but it could be the easiest way of reviving his political career. Of the four offices, this is probably the most winnable for Ehrlich in 2010. Assuming that he was elected in 2010, he could run for Senate in 2012 (against, presumably, Ben Cardin running for re-election) without risking his seat. If he was re-elected in 2014, he could take a shot at Senate in 2016 (for an open seat or against 80-year old Barbara Mikulski). Again, Michael Steele could also factor in any of Ehrlich’s future Senate plans.

Hello world!

November 8, 2006

Welcome to HowardCountyComments.  Although I (Jim Walsh) am the host of this blog, I also post at