Monday, September 13, 2010

Vote To Make It Better

The Citizens for Responsible Government are a kind of pioneering group, trendsetters, early adopters, groundbreakers. If you follow them back to their roots in 2004, they were really one of the first groups in the country to realize how much easier it is to oppose things than to propose something constructive.

We remember when we first learned about the group with the web site They were known around here as "The Recall Group," and their stated objective was to recall all the members of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Why? Because they had unanimously voted to accept a sex-ed curriculum that talked about sexual orientation.

Their target was not the curriculum, they didn't call themselves "" of "," their target was the school board membership, the people who vote on policies that affect our county's public schools. I don't remember any other groups at that time that were just opposed to things, in general. Our county's Recall Group was ahead of its time.

Now of course conservatives across the country have discovered the Power of No. Now that there is a more or less liberal majority in Congress and in the White House, the other side has carved an identity out of complaining and disagreeing and blocking proposals and badmouthing leaders. No alternative solution is offered, I mean a rational alternative. "Let's take our country back" is, I suppose, an alternative, "Stop the socialist Nazi Kenyan anticolonialist," maybe, but these are not rational alternatives, they are slogans. The Republican Party, I'm sorry to say, has abandoned the philosophy of conservatism, and has devoted itself to undermining the majority in power, no matter what the outcome is. Their assumption is that the majority party will take the blame when things go to hell, which of course they will, because the conservatives are derailing the debate at every step. But you knew all this already.

The Recall Group morphed into Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, which sued the school district repeatedly and failed to stop a comprehensive sex ed curriculum that talked about sexual orientation and gender identity, and that taught students about respect and tolerance.

Then the County Council passed a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum transformed themselves into Citizens for Responsible Government. They especially dislike Duchy Trachtenberg, who was chief sponsor of the legislation, but the fact is it passed with a unanimous vote, every County Council member voted in favor of the bill. The Citizens for Responsible Whatever tried to hold a referendum, and they failed at all of it, they spent a lot of time in court and lost lost lost.

Today's election creates an opportunity for the Citizens for Responsible Whatever to oppose -- wait for it -- the entire County Council! The gist of their newsletter this week:
Dump the Incumbents.

Down below they add a little red and blue text:
Especially NO VOTE for Duchy Trachtenberg

There are a couple of footnotes at the bottom of the page:
*Although we didn't mention it in the last email, County Executive Ike Leggett has founded the Black Family Alliance to support same sex marriage and signed the Gender Identity bill. Although we don't know how conservative Doug Rosenfeld is, we are hoping for better. It is interesting that even the Gazette is supporting Rosenfeld over Leggett.

**All members of the County Council voted for the Gender Identity Bill despite wide spread public outcry. That is why we are recommending voting for alternative candidates.

***All Maryland legislature incumbents co-sponsored gender identity and same sex marriage legislation or have promised to do so. ie No VOTE for incumbents.

For these nuts it's all about the gender identity bill. They had predicted men dressed as women in the ladies restrooms and it never happened, and now they're mad about it. They just won't let it go.

BTW, follow that link to Ike Leggett's group. That looks like a pretty good deal, and an important step forward.

The CRW started out six years ago trying to get rid of the entire school board, now they want to get rid of all the current members of the County Council and the County Executive. Whatever it is that the rest of us want, they're against it.

I think our TTF readers are a little more sophisticated than that. Elected officials are forced to make impossible decisions every day, they have to provide more services with a smaller budget. You're not going to like everything your representative says and does, but that does not mean that any random different person is going to be better, which is the CRW's theory: "anything would be better than this." No, those are some pretty sharp people up there, doing a pretty good job. It's fine to replace them with somebody better if you think you can, but you should give that some thought, don't just vote against people because they're there already, and because you didn't like one decision they made two years ago.

Some of the challengers look good, though there are a couple of ringers. There is definitely room for improvement, in my opinion there are some people running for office who are better than the ones they are trying to beat. Look them over, read their statements, and decide who you'd like to keep in office and who you think might do a better job. Let's not tear our government down, let's make it better.

In Montgomery County, the primaries are pretty much it. I don't believe there is a single Republican in any elected position in the county, is there? So whoever wins the Democratic primary, in most cases, is going to win the general election. The primary in our county matters. You've been looking at the candidates, now go to your polling place and cast your vote. You determine how this county is going to be run, you pick the people who will make the decisions. Don't be dumb and vote against people, hoping that anybody off the street will do a better job, be positive and vote for the candidates who will do the best job.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, now I feel bad

I just went in and voted against all the incumbents

why didn't you say something yesterday, Jim?

I think Astrid, Trower and Schaerr have some ideas beyond "no" for the school board, though

maybe we'll find out

September 14, 2010 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh for sure.

Schaerr is the type who seeks activist judges to overturn local school boards' decisions.

September 14, 2010 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, Jim. Those "pretty sharp people up there" have Montgomery County in a ONE BILLION DOLLAR deficit!

Why vote 'em out? Your buddies are doing just fine, eh?

September 14, 2010 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody know how much more teachers' salaries have gone up beyond inflation in MC during the 21st century?

September 14, 2010 1:58 PM  
Anonymous interesting said...

(Sept. 14) -- A shirtless skateboarder has become an Internet sensation after he foiled an attempted Quran burning by an evangelist in Texas on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports that skateboard-toting Jacob Isom, 23, grabbed the Muslim holy book from David Grisham -- head of the Christian activist group Repent Amarillo -- on Saturday as the evangelist argued with a group of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists who were protesting the planned torching.

"I snuck up behind him and took his Quran," Isom told KFDA-TV. "He said something about burning the Quran. I said, 'Dude, you have no Quran,' and ran off." That video went viral and, T-shirts, badges and baseball caps boasting a book-wielding skateboarder were soon on sale across the Internet. And the Facebook page of "Amarillo Citizens Against Repent Amarillo" had by this morning clocked up more than 3,400 fans, up from 35 on Friday.

Isom -- part of a 200-strong group of protesters, mostly recruited by a local Unitarian Universalist congregation -- described himself to the Globe-News as an "atheist concerned with religious liberty."

"I believe in freedom for everyone and not to mess with everybody's beliefs," he told the paper. "I don't believe in the Quran. I believe you shouldn't burn it in front of people that do."

After snatching the kerosene-covered book from Grisham, Isom handed it to Dennis Cobbins, an imam at the Islamic Center of Amarillo. Cobbins says he was overwhelmed by the support he'd received from the community.

Grisham left the park peacefully, to cheers from demonstrators waving crosses and "Love Thy Neighbor" banners. However, speaking to the Globe-News, he declared it ironic that Isom was praised for his actions -- which he calls "theft" -- while he was denied his right to free speech.

He says he bears no hard feelings toward the skateboarder, though, and doesn't plan to press charges.

Isom, meanwhile, plans to cash in on his new-found fame by auctioning off the skateboard he had with him at the weekend. "Maybe [I'll] get a new skateboard and something to go with it," he told the Globe-News.

September 14, 2010 2:38 PM  
Anonymous there you go again, Barry said...

To “burn the sacred texts of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for,” lectured Pres. Barack Obama at last week’s press conference. “It’s contrary to what this country — this nation — was founded on.”

It is always a precious sight when the president, a self-styled agent of “fundamental change” who is distinctly out of sympathy with the American founding philosophy, invokes our country’s first principles. True to form, Obama’s admonition is sweet sounding and wrong. In fact, American tradition would be transgressed by government’s burning of sacred texts — or, analogously, by government’s demanding that a religious community bring its creed into conformity with current ruling-class pieties (sound familiar?).

It is the very notion of the central government’s involvement in religious matters that runs afoul of our founding principles. To the contrary, our tradition has always relied upon the private examination and criticism of religious belief systems. It would have been unseemly for Terry Jones, the obscure pastor of a microscopic Florida flock, to stage his Koran-torching exhibition. But such a display would plainly have been protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and would have been within our norms, which respect religious belief but do not hold it immune from examination.

September 14, 2010 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Schaerr is the type who seeks activist judges to overturn local school boards' decisions"

that's what one should do when the local school board violates the Constitutional rights of students

a judge can fix that right up

not to mention, on the particular issue, in a straight up vote, the voters would be on Schaerr's side in a heartbeat

September 14, 2010 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CRC's lawyer, Mat Staver, did not pursue what Judge Williams referred to as "a potential loss of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedoms." You can confuse those words with something that means "the local school board violate[d] the Constitutional rights of students" all you want, but the fact is your lawyer dropped the case rather than pursue it because he actually understands the law.

Have you told the CRC's Johnny Garza of your theories and offered to represent their side in court so you can once and for all prove what you repeat over and over?

I didn't think so.

September 14, 2010 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jim.

I am pretty sure unless I am reading the election results incorrectly that Martha did pretty well :

Precincts Reporting 220
Vote For 1
Total Votes 69419


August, Louis 10969 15.80%
Durso, Mike 32429 46.71%
Schaerr, Martha C 19556 28.17%
Wilen, Louis Mark 6465 9.31%

and as far as I can tell, Martha made it though to the general election in November, as did Ibanez and Duchy and Dana did not.

Correct ?

My sincere congrats to Martha.
It is also interesting to note that the apple ballot did not get 50% of the vote in the primary.

And that Durso did not get 50% of the vote. Change is coming.

September 15, 2010 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad about Duchy and Dana

"The CRC's lawyer, Mat Staver, did not pursue what Judge Williams referred to as "a potential loss of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedoms." You can confuse those words with something that means "the local school board violate[d] the Constitutional rights of students" all you want, but the fact is your lawyer dropped the case rather than pursue it because he actually understands the law."


let's see the proof

the case was not pursued because defendants' settled in the face of imminent defeat

they threw out the curriculum, with its unconstitutional aspects, and started over

September 15, 2010 12:59 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


CRC, PFOX, and the Family Leader Network made the same "Constitutional" arguments when they sued to try to block the second set of revisions in 2007-08. And that time, because they where unable to blindside MCPS with a last minute lawsuit (as they did in 2005), MCPS had the time to marshal a response that showed the speciousness of the argument. And that time, the court tossed the suit out.

September 15, 2010 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but, it wasn't the same curriculum

besides, it's ancient history

your friends here have decided to dredge it up again to attack a school board candidate who didn't support the curriculum

looks like she made it to the next round, however

CRG opponents Duchy and Dana look to be gone, however

September 15, 2010 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats to MCEA. The Apple Ballot (at ) endorsed 48 candidates. As of the vote count reported so far this morning (at ), 45 of those 48 candidates were victorious in yesterday's primary in Montgomery County. Only Becky Wagner in the At Large County Council race, Mike Lennet in the District 19 Senate race, and Jay Hutchins in the District 19 House of Delegates race were endorsed by the Apple Ballot but did not go on to win their primary elections. The other 45 Apple Ballot endorsed candidates won their primary races yesterday.

Congrats to the CRC. One of their non-incumbents, Hans Reimer of Takoma Park who ran President Obama's youth vote operation, advanced in his race, unseating incumbent Duchy Trachtenberg. All other incumbents in Montgomery County won their races yesterday.

Yesterday's score in MoCo Primary election day 2010:
MCEA (Apple Ballot) - 45 wins of 48 endorsements
CRG - 1 incumbent unseated

September 15, 2010 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CRG had nothing to do with Duchy's loss.

September 15, 2010 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, the actions of Dana in the petition drive make her and Duchy ineligible for public office, in my opinion

that being said, it's a shame, because, in some ways, there were on to the need for fiscal reform in our county and, thus, drew the ire of the unions, which actually had more to do with their loss than CRG

maybe if these two seek to serve the community further, they could join forces with those they might disagree with otherwise and find a way to break the toxic grip of the unions in MC

that would be in the best interest of MC

September 15, 2010 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Budget Surplus under President Clinton: $128 billion

Cost of deficit-financed Bush-Cheney Iraq War: $1.9 trillion
Cost of deficit-financed Bush Billionaire Tax Cut: $2.5 trillion
Cost of deficit-finances Bush Republican Drug Bill: $800 billion

(Bush-Cheney deficit spending for these three items alone: $4.4 trillion)

Blaming the Democrats for the Republicans' deficit recklessness: Priceless

September 17, 2010 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the economy’s present weakness, some argue that now is not the time to allow the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for high-income households to expire. But analysis in a recent CBO report decisively refutes this argument.[1] CBO examined 11 options to stimulate growth and job creation and found that extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in general came in last in effectiveness. [2] CBO concluded that a job-creation tax credit, funds to help states balance their budgets with fewer cuts in services and tax increases, and extended unemployment insurance benefits would all generate more jobs and growth on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Furthermore, CBO indicated that extending the tax cuts for high-income households in particular would rate even lowerin effectiveness than extending all of the tax cuts. This is because, as CBO explained, “higher-income households … would probably save [rather than spend] a larger fraction of their increase in after-tax income.”[3] An economy in a recession or the early stages of a recovery needs more spending, not more saving.

In short, CBO found extending the tax cuts for high-income households to be the worst of all options under discussion for preserving or creating jobs and boosting economic growth while the economy is weak.

Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve Vice Chair and one of the nation’s most eminent economists, recently made this point as well. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Blinder observed [4]:

"-Consider three different ways to add a dollar to the budget deficit: increase unemployment benefits by $1, give a $1 tax cut to someone earning $50,000 a year, or give a $1 tax cut to someone earning $5 million a year.

-While the immediate impacts on the budget are identical, the near-term spending impacts are not. The unemployed worker struggling to make ends meet will likely spend the entire dollar right away. The $50,000 earner probably will spend the lion's share of it, saving just a bit —that's what most Americans do. But the $5,000,000 earner probably will save most of the new-found dollar.

-The impacts on economy-wide demand will therefore be quite different. Paying more in unemployment benefits offers the most spending “bang” for the budgetary “buck.” Extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy offers the least."

As a result, Blinder explained, it would be more economically efficient to let the high-income tax cuts expire to and use the proceeds to advance policies that create more jobs and growth in the short term, while devoting the savings to deficit reduction after that.

September 17, 2010 2:13 PM  

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