An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Monday, July 31, 2006

MoCo Best?

Did you know that the Utne Reader named MoCo as the number one suburb in the country (thanks to Just Up the Pike for the tip?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


A thought provoking excerpt from Daniel Gordis:

This is a different kind of war, and an old kind of war. In the last war, when they blew up buses and restaurants and sidewalks and cafes, Israelis were enraged, apoplectic with anger. This time, it’s different. Rage has given way to sadness. Disbelief has given way to recognition. Because we’ve been here before. Because we’d once believed we wouldn’t be back here again. And because we know why this war is happening.

A rocket hit Haifa in the first days of the war, killing no one, but injuring a number of people. It also tore the face off an apartment building, leaving the apartments inside eerily exposed, naked, for all to gaze into. That small block of Haifa, with its shattered shell of a building, rubble all along the street, citizens dazed as they wandered about looking at it all, appeared to be exactly what it was – a war zone.

And yet, the people in the street stayed near their homes, going nowhere. The newscaster asked them why they didn’t go somewhere else, where it might be safer. One man answered with statistics. “Why leave now? We’ve already been hit. The chances of us being hit again are one in a million.” To which another man responded almost with outrage. “What do numbers have to do with it?” he asked. And then, he turned to the camera, almost screaming, pointed to the broken building, and said, “This is our home. Mi-po ani lo zaz. From here, I am not budging. And he repeated his refrain over and over again. “This is my home. And from here, I am not budging.” Mi-po ani lo zaz.

Israelis understand what this is. This is a war over our homes. Over our homes in the north, for now, but eventually, as the rockets get better and larger, all of our homes. This is not about the territories. This is not about the “occupation.” This is not about creating a Palestinian State. This is about whether there will be a state called Israel. Sixty years after Arab nations greeted the UN resolution on November 29 1947 with a declaration of war, nothing much has changed. They attacked this time for the same reason that they did sixty years ago.

The essay continues at http://www.danielgordis.org/Site/Site_Dispatches.asp

Bob Ney

Hey, am I the only one who saw Bob Ney's face on the side of a Metro bus? I'm pretty sure I saw an advertisement saying something about the scandal that's put the otherwise safe congressional seat of the Ohio Member at risk. Anyone see it more clearly?

Thursday, July 20, 2006


The AG’s race is wide open, with 2/3 of respondents in a Sun poll saying they are undecided http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-te.md.poll18jul18,1,646395.story?page=2&cset=true&ctrack=1&coll=bal-local-headlines

And Ralph Reed lost the LG’s race in Georgia http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5568259

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ruben v. Raskin

There's a fun (yeah, I know you're skeptical about that) political campaign documentary on the D20 race online done by a cable tv program. If that gets your juices flowing, there'll be a debate between Raskin and Ruben tomorrow night at the Takoma Park Community Center...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Maryland Moment reports that the Asian American community is starting to fight back (with others) against the Comptroller’s stupid, sometimes xenophobic comments, and that he’s not backing down yet: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/annapolis/ If Janet Ownes hadn’t jumped into the race, Peter Franchot might stand a real chance of beating Willie Don.

Mocopolitics rips Mfume’s staff for his poor fundraising performance: http://mocopolitics.blogspot.com/2006/07/mfume-doesnt-have-cash.html. It's not clear whose fault it is, but this has been surprising for months. And that site has the best list of links to MoCo candidates’ sites.

Who runs a statewide campaign by going out to hospitals, supermarkets and convenience stores during the dead of night to talk with people about government and policy? The Zeese campaign does. Now, it may not surprise you to know that Kevin Zeese and some of his supporters, running an independent bid for the Senate, managed to find some late night people who seemed to agree with their take on the two party system. But it’s kind of refreshing to see a candidate willing to go out and talk to people retail-style.

The local AFL-CIO unions just announced their DC endorsements (they went for Linda Cropp for Mayor) and word is that they’re coming out with their support from some Maryland pols very soon. Apparently there are some surprises.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ehrlich Outed on Purple Line

The big news is that Bob Ehrlich's former appointee to WMATA (the folks that run the Metro) wrote a letter to the Post that admits that Ehrlich's administration is stonewalling the Purple Line.
The Ehrlich administration has been stringing this project out for all it's worth. It is leading a prolonged attempt to obfuscate, alter, study and delay the project so as not to face up to the fact that, without a tax increase, the project is underfunded. All money available is going to the intercounty connector and, indeed, even future federal money has been bonded for that project.

Without parsing the endorsement of every group here, I was surprised how many non-incumbents the Montgomery County Green Democrats backed in their just-released list. They supported Jamie Raskin over incumbent Ida Ruben in Silver Spring’s District 20 state Senate race, Dan Fox for State’s Atty, and all challengers lead by James Browing in the D20 delegate race. As you wonder what to think about how endorsements are made and what value they have, you might think about the disclaimer at the bottom of the Green Dem’s email – “Endorsements were based on feedback from the active membership of Montgomery Green Democrats.”

In case I haven't done this lately, you might want to check out a collaborative, progressive Maryland political blog: Free State Politics.

Link to Kos for US Senate polls.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stealing from Your Children

Federal budget and tax policy is really boring, but it impacts our lives in ways you don't even think about. Voices for America's Children has a great little tool that in 5 seconds will tell you how much Peter is getting robbed for to benefit Paul (or whatever that phrase is supposed to be).

Stealing from Your Children

Federal budget and tax policy is really boring, but it impacts our lives in ways you don't even think about. Voices for America's Children has a great little tool that in 5 seconds will tell you how much Peter is getting robbed for to benefit Paul (or whatever that phrase is supposed to be).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Santorum Helps Green

I'm a bit late bringing you this tidbit from CQ:

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is backing the efforts of Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli to win a spot on the November ballot — a move likely to siphon votes from Democrat Bob Casey Jr. if it succeeds.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Coming Out Swinging

So what should be the role of blogs in Maryland elections this year? Should it just be to ask the standard questions to candidates (yeah, I know, like in the Raskin interview I did)? I'm looking for something more, but trying to get more than the stump speech out of a candidate when they're on the record is like pulling teeth. Maybe I should let them know ahead of time that if they've already put it on their site or it's been in another local forum I'm going to ignore it. I could ask the hard questions and then refuse to print the pablum.

Now sometimes candidates give you something substantive, yet lively. In a release just in, Marc Elrich, at-large candidate for Montgomery County Council (a teacher and member of the Takoma Park City Council) lit into some members of the current Council saying that in terms of infrastructure keeping up with development "Our situation is getting worse, not better." He suggested a connection between contributions from developers to some council members and our declining transportation, education, and other infrastructure (you know what he's talking about), calling the county's development priorities "badly skewed."

Elrich said “You shouldn't be able to buy influence. I'll talk to anyone, I'll welcome them in my office and I'll listen to their ideas. I'll support them when I think it's good for the County, and stand up to them when it's not. No one should have to write a check in order to be heard. I listen for free – to everyone."

Anyway, I'll ask what you want to read about Maryland politics over the next four months? Do you just want the opinions of local pundits (yours truly included)? Do you want to know about upcoming events to decide for yourself? Do you want interviews to hear straight from the candidates?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kinda Young

I don't know much about Kristen Cox, so this really isn't about her, but at 36, is Bob Ehrlich really telling us that he thinks that she's the most experienced, capable person to run the state of Maryland if he quits, etc.?

It reminds me of the look of surprise on the faces of people at a meeting last year to pick a replacement for Delegate Hurson (D18) when a 23 or 24 year old made the case for his candidacy (in the company of candidates who had been working with policy and politics longer than he had been alive) saying that he was the most experienced candidate.

I guess they're not really saying that she's the most experienced or necessarily the most capable of being Governor, but that the candidate's other assets are more important. Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Digging Out

* Roll Call had an article on the 4th Congressional District entitled “Wynn Gets First Credible Challenger in Many Years”, describing Donna Edwards as “an attorney and former Capitol Hill lobbyist for nonprofit groups who gained local stature in recent years as a leading critic of a proposal to build a huge resort along the Potomac River in Oxon Hill — a multimillion-dollar project that Wynn and most other elected officials in Maryland have championed.” The piece talks about her relatively good fundraising in a short time and features a quote: "She's got the intellect and the skills to run a top-notch campaign."

* So candidates just finished filing to run across the state -- in Prince George’s somewhere near half of the candidates did so Friday. Polls continue to show Kweisi Mfume in very good shape in the Senate race, so good that one has to wonder why so many people think that Cardin is the frontrunner. As suggested by The League, maybe this really is a race. And we'll be trying to bring you more on the races as they heat up...

* A Poll from the Post: Conducted 6/19-25; surveyed 902 RVs; margin of error +/- 3% Party ID breakdown: 51%D, 29%R, 20%I/O.

General Election Matchup Dir. Of MD Now 1/04 10/02
LVs RVs Right direction 44% 56% 57%
O'Malley 55% 51% Wrong track 50 36 35
Ehrlich 39 40
Other/undec 6 9 Fav/Unfav
Ehrlich 55%/38
Ehrlich As Gov. Now 1/04 MD Dem party 54 /32
Approve 56% 64% O'Malley 51 /30
Disapprove 41 29 Doug Duncan 48 /20
Kendel Ehrlich 41 /22
Biggest Issue Facing MD? MD GOP party 40 /45
Public education 35%
Crime 20 How Much Has Ehrlich Accomplished
State economy 13 In 1st Term?
Taxes 12 Lot/fair amount 48%
Growth and devel. 9 Some/not much 51
Transportation 7
Ehrlich Deserves Credit For
Does ___ Describe Ehrlich? Projected Budget Surplus?
Well Not Yes 71%
Is likable 77% 16% No 24
Is honest 75 21
Has vision for Who Deserves Blame For Rising
MD's future 66 30 Energy Costs? Does Not
Willing to make Util. companies 90 9
reas. comps. 60 35 State Leg. 88 9
Ehrlich 70 28

Does ___ Have Influence On Ehrlich
Admin? Too Not Right Who Would Do Better
Much Eno. Amt Energy Rates In The Future?
Large business 66% 8% 22% State leg. 40%
Utilities 56 15 24 Ehrlich 25
Gambling grps 38 30 26 A Dem Gov. 21
Unions 17 37 34
Enviro grps 15 51 30 Bush As Pres. Now 1/04
Teachers grps 10 63 22 Approve 33% 54%
Minority grps 8 52 34 Disapprove 67 45
People like you 2 67 29

Bush Backing A Candidate
How Are Things Going In Baltimore? Make You ___ Likely To Support?
Well 49% More 19%
Not well 44 Less 56
No difference 23

Has O'Malley Made Things ___ In
Baltimore? War In Iraq Worth Fighting?
Better 41% Yes 36%
Worse 11 No 63
Hasn't changed 40

Abortion Should Be ___
In Most
Support State Leg.'s Effort To
Force Wal-Mart To Pay Employee Legal 63%
Health Costs? Illegal 35
Support 77%
Oppose 21