Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hood College and yesterday’s March on Frederick

Yesterday’s civil-rights-oriented “March on Frederick,” organized with substantial support from Hood College, included some themes I would enthusiastically agree with, and others I would resist or find overdrawn. That’s the nature of such an event, at least if it was meant to raise controversial and difficult issues and not just reconfirm us in comfortably-held views. But this sentence from Rachel Karas’s coverage in the Frederick News Post took me aback:

Helena Hammond-DoDoo, a senior at Hood, called the march a great concept that needed better execution. Participation was mandatory for some student groups whether people were truly interested or not, she said.

Expecting people to join a cause march whether they are inclined to or not. Expecting them to join a flag salute and pledge of allegiance whether they are inclined to or not. Similarities/differences?

More: Welcome Instapundit readers.

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“Collateral Damage: A Farm Family Under Attack”

Video now out from Save Farm Families on the Hudson Farm case (earlier). Description:

Collateral Damage: Farm Families Under Attack, reviews the questionable political and academic actions that enabled the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance to push forward with its lawsuit against the Hudson family, and the continuing threat that environmental extremists pose to family farmers, not just in Maryland but across the nation. See more at: http://www.savefarmfamilies.org.

I wrote about the case here, here, and here. It raises questions of legal ethics (when the mistaken factual basis for a claim is revealed, aren’t the attorneys obliged to withdraw it?), ideological adventurism in the environmental sphere by state-affiliated law schools, and the need for loser-pays. Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who failed in a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, comes off badly in the video, and America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., even worse.

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In miniature, September 20

  • Earlier this month the Washington Post ran my letter to the editor about how if Maryland exempted much or even all retirement income from its income tax, its tax structure would still not be a particularly radical or outlying one; the Post had blasted GOP candidate Larry Hogan for an off-the-cuff suggestion. More background here and here;
  • Dems unhappy at Hogan for not running on social issues [Washington Post]
  • In progress, Sept. 19-21: “Gerrymander Meander” run along 225-mile circuitous route to call attention to outrageously drawn Maryland electoral districts [Baltimore Post-Examiner]
  • U. of Maryland police got armored truck, other military surplus through Pentagon’s 1033 program [The Diamondback] Uncritical look at what Frederick city and county got from program [Paige Jones, Frederick News-Post; my two cents in the FNP and more]
  • The gang that couldn’t malign straight: Howard County Dems keep getting Allan Kittleman’s record wrong [Len Lazarick]
  • “Maryland’s economy had no growth in 2013, ranking 49th in U.S.” [Baltimore Business Journal]

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The scandals editors harp on — and the ones they don’t

“Report: Bridge scandal probe finds no tie to Christie, feds say” reads The Hill’s headline. The report says “unnamed federal officials briefed on the criminal investigation told NBC 4 New York they have, so far, uncovered no evidence [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie had knowledge of or directed the road closures.”

Now we find out! And yet pretty much everyone who follows the news knows all about Bridgegate, and no matter what the evidence does or does not show, the story is going to color our view of Christie. That’s what saturation media coverage will do. Rightly or wrongly, some scandals get firehose media coverage — while others get barely a sprinkle.

Take, for example, a scandal far more consequential to the well-being of its state than Bridgegate, namely the $125 million implosion of Maryland’s Obamacare health exchange website. As I noted last month, columnist Barry Rascovar calls the failed rollout an “immense fiasco,” a “monumental disaster that should have been foreseen,” even “the costliest debacle in Maryland state history.” Especially since (as I put it then) “Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is now the Democratic candidate for governor, had been assigned to oversee the rollout as his big project, having few other duties attached to his position.”

Yes, places like the Washington Post did give a smattering of coverage to the scandal and Brown’s involvement in it — enough I suppose that the editors can acquit themselves in their own minds of the charge of not having covered it at all. But if you weren’t paying close attention you might have missed the stories, and within few days outlets like the Post were content to let the matter drop. No steady flow of reportage, investigative pieces, human interest sidebars, columns, and editorials asking tough questions and insisting that the Maryland public deserved answers.

These days, what’s remarkable is the way the Post contrives to avoid noticing the scandal as an election issue even when you’d think circumstances would make it tempting to do so. On Tuesday, for example, the Post’s Jenna Johnson reported on the relaunch of the failed Maryland site, scheduled to take place this coming Nov. 9. Johnson does mention in passing “the deeply troubled Web site that debuted last year and crashed almost immediately.” Isn’t there something that kind of jumps out about the date Nov. 9? That it’s only five days after Election Day — a day in which the Maryland Democratic ballot will be headed by the author of the earlier failure, Anthony Brown? Yet in a fairly lengthy piece, Johnson — whose beat is described as including both the 2014 election and the administration of Martin O’Malley — refrained from mentioning either the election timing or Brown.
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All of which helps explain why I constantly meet Post readers from the Maryland Washington D.C. suburbs, otherwise well-informed and civically minded people, who simply have no idea that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown played a central role in (to quote Rascovar again) this “monumental disaster that should have been foreseen,” this “costliest debacle in Maryland state history.” It’s why I keep meeting Post readers who have no clue that the O’Malley administration, solicitous of Brown’s interests, has put off a what-went-wrong reckoning until well after the election in which he’ll be on the ballot. And because they don’t know about these things, they also don’t think to question how Brown has utterly failed to take responsibility for what happened, instead dodging and diverting blame to departing O’Malley health director Josh Sharfstein. The Baltimore media on the whole has done a better job at covering these questions — and have you noticed how much trouble Brown is having with popularity these days in the Baltimore area?

Had the Post and other D.C.-focused media outlets kept on the health exchange story the way they kept on Christie’s Bridgegate story, I think Anthony Brown would today be behind in the race against Republican Larry Hogan for governor. The good news is there’s still six and a half weeks before Election Day for them to catch up.

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