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Archive for November, 2007

Black September, Part Three: Blacks and Republicans – Can We Reconcile?

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Tavis Smiley had the Republican Party in his sights and he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to take aim and fire.

The first of two live presidential forums sponsored by the Public Broadcasting Service and moderated by Mr. Smiley, a noted black author, journalist and commentator, took place on June 28th on the campus of historically black Howard University in Washington, DC. All eight of the Democratic candidates were there, elbowing each other to see who could curry more favor with voters of color. Behind the scenes, Mr. Smiley and PBS had also spent months in preparation for a similar forum for the Republican candidates, and Maryland’s former lieutenant governor, black Republican Michael Steele, and former national GOP chairman Ken Mehlman encouraged them to host the event at another historically black university, Morgan State University in Mr. Mehlman’s hometown of Baltimore.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, however, and Mr. Smiley wasn’t laughing. In fact, he was fuming – in print, on TV, and on the radio. The men considered the four major Republican contenders at the time – former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain and former Senator Fred Thompson – had all declined to participate, citing scheduling conflicts. Some indicated that scheduling a forum in the last week of the fundraising cycle left them with a difficult choice between participation in the debate or raising desperately needed funds for their campaigns.


Is “Maryland, My Maryland?”

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

The special session drags on and the pattern continues.

Government programs are enacted without clear and measurable outcomes that specifically address the problems the programs were created to solve, and there is no public oversight or accountability for the funds to be spent. The programs fail to deliver the results intended, so taxes are raised because the claim is that they weren’t funded well enough or another program is needed to deal with the problems. No one considers that they don’t know where or how the money was spent or whether or not it was targeted in a way that would actually yield the desired results, nor are the failed programs shut down.

What’s worse, those who were given the authority by our hands to make these decisions don’t care because it’s not their money and they don’t think we will remember their cavalier attitudes toward our tax dollars come election time.

People who have had to manage budgets in the real world, whether it was for a corporation that fires irresponsible managers and terminates failed business ventures when they don’t meet expectations, or a family that needs to meet its obligations within their earning power, cry out against this irresponsible and arrogant abuse of the public trust. For taking a stand to hold elected officials accountable to the public they serve, they are called names and labeled mean-spirited and cold-hearted, despite the fact they are among the most generous givers on the planet. Incivility reigns because those who believe government is more compassionate than the people who consent to be governed consider it their right to take the fruits of one’s labor at will and redistribute them if they deem the cause just. Those who are being taxed for their hard work and relative success in life are held up as the enemy rather than the architects of our economy’s vitality.

Some of these people, fed up with the paternalistic attitude of a government which believes it can take money away at will from the world that works and pour it into the world that fails, move to states which welcome the business community and the successful individual and have built schools, health systems and economies that work.

Those of us who love living here are left to wonder what has happened to the constitutional construct of government when a special session can be called and the largest tax increase in Maryland history ramrodded through the General Assembly without the opportunity for public deliberation or prudent examination by our elected representatives, where even the comptroller, a member of the party in power, decries the rush to judgment as an affront to due process and the rights of the people to be heard — and he, too is ignored. People become cynical and distrustful of the political process and drop out, and the incumbents raise their glasses in a victory toast because they’ve once again subverted the will of the people who gave them their power, and they know that because the people have surrendered, their longevity is assured.

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