Monthly Archives: July 2014

In miniature, July 27

  • Montgomery County Police Department SWAT deployments terrorize citizens on a regular basis, and mostly over search warrants [Sentinel via Radley Balko]
  • It’s come to seem normal for other businesses to flee Maryland. But… Old Bay? [US Chamber]
  • Len Lazarick on “conservatarian… liberty-leaning conservative” Dan Bongino’s challenge to Rep. John Delaney in MD-6 [Maryland Reporter]
  • Baltimore curfew violations will cost parents $500 unless they sign up for parental guidance classes [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Beretta moving all production from Maryland to Tennessee [press release, Quinton Report]
  • “Report: Baltimore schools spent stimulus funds on dinner cruises, theater tickets” [EAG News]
  • SEIU ran primary attack ads against Democrats who didn’t toe its line, helped pick off Niemann and Simmons, didn’t work against Brochin [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Maryland Reporter]


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Mikulski “among the most woo-friendly legislators out there”

Scienceblogger Orac at Respectful Insolence views it as progress that our senior senator is apparently keeping some distance from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., or as I call him America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure®. Over the years, as Orac tells it (he has links), Mikulski has been more than sympathetic to unproven and alternative medicine theories:

She co-sponsored a resolution that declared one week during last October to be Naturopathic Medicine Week, or, as I called it, Quackery Week. She also co-chaired a meeting with the creator of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), where Harkin complained that NCCAM had “fallen short” because it hadn’t “validated” enough CAM, completely misunderstanding how science works and supported an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to have it cover CAM practitioners. It goes on and on; she appeared at the anniversary of the integrative medicine center at the University of Maryland and has even appeared on Dr. Oz’s radio show to promote “integrative medicine.” She is among the most woo-friendly legislators out there.

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Feds: the dog’s paperwork is A-OK

Did Maryland federal prosecutors seek “to disguise and downplay” the dodgy provenance of documents submitted in litigation in a $122,640 BWI cash seizure case? That’s the allegation of an opposing attorney who’s asking for sanctions. Supreme Court precedent indicates that for dog-alert evidence to be given deference, the dog must have been properly certified; the attorney says while that may have been so, a deposition produced evidence that a certification submitted as genuine had actually been generated on a home computer after the fact for use in the litigation, and he’s asking sanctions for that. Van Smith at Baltimore City Paper:

The lead prosecutor, Stefan Cassella — a titan in the field, who wrote a 1,250-page book on federal asset-forfeiture law — cited personal reasons in asking for an extension until September to respond to the dismissal motion.

Brown’s motion calls to mind a dust-up last year involving Cassella, when he was reprimanded in another drug-related asset-forfeiture case by U.S. District judge Paul Grimm for coming “uncomfortably close” to violating his “duty of candor to the Court” by disingenuously cherry-picking supportive elements of cases in prior court rulings that, in their entireties, actually undermined the government’s position.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office says “there was no intent to deceive anyone.” Maryland is a hot spot for federal forfeiture actions, something Smith has covered extensively at City Paper and I’ve covered many times, including the case filed against principals of a well-known Frederick County business, South Mountain Creamery. (& thanks Radley Balko, Washington Post, for the generous mention)

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In miniature, July 19

  • Rasmussen has Anthony Brown 13 points up on Larry Hogan, not actually impressive right after Brown’s multi-million primary ad buy;
  • When lawmakers here voted to hike cigarette taxes high above those of nearby states, many appeared to think the social costs of developing a large bootleg-cigarette sector no big deal. But they are [includes disturbing video of death in police custody]
  • “Peroutka donates $1M dinosaur skeleton to Creation Museum” [Capital Gazette, more on the Anne Arundel council candidate]
  • Is ours the most speech-hostile delegation in the country? Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Reps. Donna Edwards, John Sarbanes (and don’t forget Chris Van Hollen) take lead in attempt to roll back First Amendment protections for campaign speech [Mark Newgent]
  • Prof. Mark Graber reports on sexual harassment training at the University of Maryland [Balkinization]
  • “Maryland Tested Kids on Material It No Longer Teaches, Guess What Happened?” [Robby Soave, Reason]

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The Democratic primary results: Baltimore suburbs not keen on Brown

The Democrats this year had reasonably lively three-way races for both governor (Brown v. Gansler v. Mizeur, 51-24-22) and attorney general (Frosh v. Cardin v. Braveboy, 50-30-20). County-by-county results are available here. (Two weeks ago I analyzed the Frederick County primary results.) The results confirm much of the conventional wisdom about the various candidates’ appeal, and add a cautionary note for Democrats: their gubernatorial candidate, Anthony Brown, is running into trouble in the Baltimore suburbs.

Governor. Brown rolled up huge margins in Prince George’s, Charles, and running mate Ken Ulman’s Howard County, won Montgomery and Baltimore City big, and carried Frederick, Anne Arundel, and Calvert comfortably. Across the rest of the state he was at least competitive everywhere, running third only in Carroll. But Brown significantly underperformed his statewide 51 percent in suburban Baltimore County (38-30-29), perhaps signaling an opening for Republicans there — more on that below — as well as adjacent Harford (34-32-29) and Carroll.

Mizeur easily bested Gansler for second place in Baltimore City (53-16-29) and won narrower second-place finishes in Frederick and Howard. She ran extremely poorly, at less than 10 percent, in P.G. (77-15-7), despite picking a running mate from that county, and in Charles (64-23-9).

Gansler was not exceptionally strong anywhere, but managed to carry three counties where all three candidates ran competitively, Carroll, Cecil, and Queen Anne’s. Among his weakest showings were Baltimore City (53-16-29), Prince George’s, and Howard (59-18-22).

Attorney General. Cardin carried 11 mostly rural counties, including the three westernmost and most of the Eastern Shore. Braveboy carried her home Prince George’s handily but ran a weak third in Baltimore City, one instance among many of these two jurisdictions going off in different directions. Charles County was a close three-way race with Cardin ahead. Otherwise, Frosh carried all the central and urban counties and won by crushing margins in his home Montgomery County and in Howard, reflecting his dominant position with the educated liberal vote.

At a precinct level, I looked at Baltimore County, where Brown showed unusual weakness (38-30-29). The county gave Mizeur her best performance in any large jurisdiction other than Baltimore city; she ran strongly in precincts in Catonsville, Towson, and Lutherville, all with college-town, hip, or affluent voters. Gansler likewise found Baltimore County his best large county, and Jewish communities in Pikesville and elsewhere were just one of his sources of strength. In fact Brown, while sweeping African-American neighborhoods, often ran a distant second or even third in other parts of the county. There were more than 65 precincts around Baltimore County where Brown’s share of the vote was only in the teens, many of them in places like Arbutus, Essex, Dundalk, Phoenix, and Overlea.

Republican campaigners will no doubt be eyeing those areas as they begin considering how to peel away Gansler Democrats to vote for Larry Hogan in November.

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In miniature, July 12

  • Peroutka fallout continues [Jonathan Hutson/Huffington Post, earlier]
  • Hogan is making sense: Hobby Lobby controversy “doesn’t really have anything to do with being Maryland governor,” especially since, under the Supreme Court’s ruling in City of Bourne v. Flores, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in question doesn’t apply to actions of state and local governments;
  • Sociologist David Jernigan, Bloomberg’s guy on alcohol marketing issues at the liberty-unfriendly Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: “I am an advocate. I am an interested scientist. I actually am fairly skeptical of pure objectivity in science…my research questions have always been driven by what the policy opportunities are in the moment or what policy opportunities I can promote by doing research that will support people being able to make change.” [audio on Johns Hopkins site] Two other questions: were JHSPH the ones who dreamed up the “sexual assault” rationale for the new grain alcohol ban? [Tim Mak, Daily Beast] And given how many college officials have backed the relatively liberty-friendly Amethyst Initiative (rethink the 21 drinking age), how does Jernigan’s project get away with “we speak for college officials” ventriloquism?
  • Try a California-style jungle primary? It could hardly be worse than what we’ve got [Blair Lee]
  • Socially conservative Latino church leaders serve as pawns in Prince George’s Democratic infighting [Kim Propeack, Seventh State]
  • State-certified arts and entertainment district in Easton? Some nice benefits but oh, the paperwork [Josh Bollinger, Star-Democrat via Maryland Reporter]
  • See you at Tawes.


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Supreme Court: mandatory union dues violate rights of home health carers

The high court’s ruling in Harris v. Quinn is a rebuff to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who in 2007 handed down an executive order meant to herd the carers into unions. Now they can assert their constitutional right not to pay dues if they object to the union and its message [Marc Kilmer, Maryland Public Policy Institute] More on Harris v. Quinn in a new podcast I’ve done at Cato, and at Overlawyered.

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Peroutka wins Anne Arundel primary

Well, we warned you. So did Mark Newgent and Van Smith. So did many national writers like Warren Throckmorton. Former Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael Anthony Peroutka, of the cranky Institute on the Constitution, has edged out Maureen Carr-York by 38 votes for the Republican nomination for a normally GOP seat from District 5 (Severna Park, Arnold) on the Anne Arundel County Council. (He also won a closely contested race for a seat on the county Republican Central Committee.) Per the Capital-Gazette, robocalls and a negative ad against his main opponent appear to have done the trick.

Just last month Peroutka was suggesting that the laws of the state of Maryland are owed no allegiance, having diverged from the Divine will on numerous points. (He explains that “an enactment must not violate God’s law,” describes Maryland’s as a “lawless legislature” and writes of such a legislature that “no validity should be given to any of its enactments.”) That should make the whole “oath of office” thing fun if he gets in as a county commissioner.

Of course that might not happen. Democrats would have little chance of winning in District 5 otherwise, but they have a chance now. There is also talk of encouraging a write-in candidacy by Carr-York. (The anti-Peroutka vote was fractured in the primary, with an incumbent councilman finishing a strong third behind Carr-York).

Peroutka has been a key funder of social conservative causes in Maryland for years, but often behind the scenes. Nonetheless, he has won a certain amount of nationwide notoriety owing to his association with the League of the South, his loose-cannon spokesman John Lofton, and the thoroughgoing wackiness of the output of his grandiose Institute on the Constitution, which has employed disgraced Del. Don Dwyer.

Now we can expect substantial press coverage of Peroutka and his Institute, and Republican officials and candidates in Anne Arundel will be put on the spot about whether they are willing to stand behind his Council bid. For the Maryland Republican Party, it could have been much, much worse — at one point he was seeking a statewide nomination. Bullet: dodged.


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Officials sought gang members’ advice on how to run Baltimore jail

Another day of astounding revelations from the state-run Baltimore jail:

Officials at the Baltimore jail held “town hall meetings” with Black Guerrilla Family gang members to get tips on how to better operate the institution, a corrections officer told the FBI….

Angela Johnson, the officer, also told investigators that gang members were allowed to search other inmates for contraband, which they often kept for themselves.”

You have to wonder what it will take for the Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown administration to begin shouldering responsibility for this scandal. Baltimore City Paper, which has been good on the scandal, noted in April, long after the scandal broke, that

O’Malley and his Corrections chief, Gary Maynard, who oversaw the gang takeover have even now done little to amend the systemic problems that made it almost easy for gang members to turn jail guards into their puppets.

Mid and upper Department of Correction management has remained relatively unscathed so far…

Earlier coverage of the scandal at Overlawyered; also see Charles Lane, City Journal.

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In miniature, July 4

  • Baltimore hotel follies: “The city-owned Hilton lost $2.9M in 2013, the best performance in the taxpayer-financed project’s history thus far.” [Baltimore Sun]
  • Larry Hogan as governor would not seek to reopen same-sex marriage: “The voters of Maryland have already decided this issue.”
  • Stingray surveillance devices: ACLU says local police in three parts of the state have got ’em;
  • I was in the audience during this surprise wedding proposal woven into the plot of Olney Theatre’s Avenue Q revival. The show has been extended through July 20 and I recommend it;
  • TIL: “Bladensburg swagger” [Washington Post on what was said to be the gait of the late Prince George’s County executive Wayne Curry]
  • “In Howard and Anne Arundel, by contrast [as against Montgomery and P.G.], a plurality said that laws passed during [O’Malley’s] time in office were too liberal.” [Washington Post]
  • Why should trademark law ban “disparagement” in first place? Caleb Brown interviews me on the Redskins case for the Cato podcast;

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