Category Archives: Republicans

Maryland Delegate Questions Criticism of Roy Moore

By Adam Pagnucco.

In a Facebook post in the wake of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s defeat, a Maryland GOP Delegate is questioning those who have criticized Moore’s history with teenage girls and the actions of other sexual harassers.  That history was key to Moore’s loss.

Republican Delegate Jason Buckel (R-1B), who represents Allegany County, wrote on Facebook:

I’ve not said a word about the Alabama Senate election or the swirling world of accusations, admissions, rumors and varying degrees of bad behavior by men– from the clearly criminal to the truly appalling to the unambiguous acts of poor taste to the fairly innocuous and easily overblown. I think that trying to litigate in the court of public opinion what did or did not happen 20, 30, 40 or more years ago in momentary, fleeting encounters or relationships and then view those allegations through the light of modern prism, as opposed to the conventions and norms of the time in which they occurred, is fraught with danger, although clearly rape, physical sexual assault, and pervasive, consistent, degrading sexual harassment have never been and never could be acceptable under any circumstances at any time by anyone.

Buckel went on to praise the policies of the Trump administration while bashing Steve Bannon, Moore and other GOP candidates.

In a comment later on his post, Buckel said, “But who knows – While girls Roy Moore stopped by a mall to say hi to 40 years ago are national figures, 99.9% of Americans have no idea who Doug Jones is and chances are his senatorial career will be exceedingly brief.”

Let’s review the allegations against Moore.  His first accuser, Leigh Corfman, described how he sexually assaulted her when he was 32 and she was 14.  Another woman, Beverly Young Nelson, said Moore locked her in a car and tried to force her into oral sex when she was 16.  Six of the eight women who came forward were under the age of 18 at the time that Moore pursued them.  These incidents were not in keeping with the “conventions and norms of the time” as the girls and their families were disturbed by Moore’s actions and he was banned from stalking girls at the Gadsden Mall.

Right now, there is a national debate going on about differing degrees of sexual misconduct and what levels of punishment are appropriate.  That debate will be playing out for a while before it is settled – IF it’s settled.  But the allegations about Moore’s behavior with teenage girls are far outside the boundaries of any gray areas, past or present.  He was not “saying hi” as Buckel stated above.  Elected officials who appear to make excuses for the likes of Moore should beware the voters next November.

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GOP Tax Bills Discriminate Against Maryland

By Adam Pagnucco.

Much has been written about the tax bills passed by the U.S. House and Senate in recent weeks.  Overall, both bills offer small tax cuts to the poor, modest ones to the middle class and large cuts to the wealthy and corporations.  But in order to partially offset the massive tax cuts going to those at the top, the bills do something else.

They discriminate against taxpayers in Maryland.

Why do they do that?  One key feature of both bills is that they abolish the ability of individuals to deduct state and local income taxes from their federal incomes.  (Property tax deductions would still be allowed up to $10,000.)  According to IRS data for Tax Year 2015, U.S. federal taxpayers deducted a total of $334 billion of state and local income taxes from their incomes, more than the amounts they deducted for mortgage interest ($278 billion), charitable contributions ($222 billion), real estate taxes ($187 billion) and state and local sales taxes ($17 billion).  Abolishing the state and local income tax deduction hits people who itemize their deductions and pay significant amounts of state and local income taxes.  Marylanders are targeted on both those measures.

Itemizing Deductions

According to the above IRS data, 46% of Marylanders itemized their deductions on their federal tax returns in 2015.  That’s the highest rate in the country, far surpassing the national rate of 30% and red states like Arkansas (22%), Mississippi (23%), Louisiana (23%), Texas (24%), Alabama (26%), South Carolina (27%) and Georgia (33%).

State and Local Income Tax Deductions

In terms of state and local income tax deductions per return (including non-itemized returns), Marylanders ranked fifth in the nation at $4,217 per return.  Maryland trailed New York, D.C., Connecticut and California.  Virginia ranked tenth, indicating that the abolition of this deduction will hit the Washington, D.C. metro area particularly hard.  The states least impacted are mostly red states and those with little or no income taxes.

Inside Maryland, the impact will be felt differently across the state.  That’s because residents of some jurisdictions pay much more in state and local income taxes than others.  According to 2015 income tax data from the Comptroller, MoCo and Howard County residents pay by far the most state and local income taxes in Maryland.  Residents of many parts of Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore pay the least.

Consider this.  If you itemize your deductions, are paying $5,000 in state and local income taxes – roughly the average in Maryland – and your effective federal income tax rate is 15%, you will owe $750 more to Uncle Sam because of the abolition of the state and local income tax deduction.

Does that mean you will owe more federal taxes overall?  That depends.  If you are wealthy, you could get huge offsetting cuts because of changes to the top income tax brackets and tax cuts on pass-through income from your businesses.  If you are poor or middle class, you could benefit from an increase in the standard deduction and an increase in the child credit, but that could be offset by an elimination of the personal exemption.  An analysis of the Senate bill two weeks ago by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found almost all of the tax benefits from that bill going to the top quintile of Maryland taxpayers.  Changes prior to the Senate floor vote and in conference committee may tweak the details but not the overall impact.  And it could get worse: wealthy Republican donors are already complaining that their tax cuts are not big enough.

There are many evils in the GOP’s tax bills: redistribution to the one percent, big tax breaks for multi-nationals who ship jobs overseas, losses of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act and more.  But for Marylanders, the additional slap in the face is that the bills shift the federal tax burden away from states like Texas, South Dakota, Alaska and Mississippi and onto residents of the Free State.  All Marylanders, including Republicans, should oppose that.

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Republican Civil War Comes to Maryland

Maryland Republican Party Secretary Mark Uncapher is challenging Montgomery County Party Chairman Dick Jurgena. Red Maryland reports and gives their anti-Jurgena spin on the race:

The current Montgomery GOP Chairman, Dick Jurgena, has had a controversial year as Chairman. He elevated Amie Hoeber to a prominent fundraising position and also publicly attacked Governor Hogan and other Congressional Republicans.

Uncapher, a former MoCo party chair, leveled his own attacks on Jurgena:

[I]nstead of focusing on MCGOP’s party building responsibilities, too much time and resources have been frittered away this past year on gadfly advocacy and fringe issues.

Just three months ago, the MCGOP’s Executive Committee voted to reverse the decision of Dick Jurgena and Ann Hingston gutting our participation in the Nation Builder/ Digital Toolkit data management program that the Hogan campaign and the Maryland Republican Party had asked us to use. . .

So far, this year only about a dozen new people have completed our monthly precinct training program. With over 250 precincts, that is not enough to replace the natural attrition from people dropping out, let alone fill our previously existing vacancies. . .

We must end this “closed meeting, private club” approach that has led to MCGOP’s failure to recruit new blood into the party.  Closed meetings have meant that hundreds of enthusiastic Trump Montgomery volunteers were never welcomed into our party this year.  We need break out of a mindset that Republicans will only be competitive in the highest income zip codes of Bethesda and Potomac, especially since that’s not where either Trump or Hogan have done the best in our county.

Uncapher’s capacity to engage in doublethink is perfect for the Trump administration. First, Republicans are not competitive in Bethesda or Potomac, as a glance at the District 16 election results shows clearly.

Even a strong, moderate state legislative candidate like Rose Li could only make so much headway. Trump received a whopping 21% of the vote in District 16. Apparently, this is what passes for “competitive” to Maryland Republicans.

Equally weird is his notion that there are legions of enthusiastic Trump supporters waiting to be welcomed into the party. Trump received less than 20% of the vote in Montgomery – an impressive seven points less than Mitt Romney in 2012.

Democrats will welcome the idea that the Republicans needs to emphasize Trump love in order to grow in Montgomery. Almost as much as party stalwarts enjoy Red Maryland’s steady castigation of Amie Hoeber as a Republican heretic.

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Montgomery Republicans Down the Rabbit Hole

No Republican has won election to any local or state legislative office in Montgomery County since 2002. Even 15 years ago, the County was not exactly awash in a sea of red, as the two sole elected Republicans were liberal Del. Jean Cryor (R-15) and Councilmember Howie Denis (R-1).

After three electoral cycles of coming up empty, the MoCo GOP’s chances of ending this electoral drought look bleak in 2018. Why is the only viable alternative to the long-governing Democrats in so much trouble?

Donald Trump

Trump was a disaster for Montgomery Republicans. Both John McCain in 2012 and Mitt Romney in 2008 won a paltry 27% of the vote in Montgomery—down from 33% won by Bush in 2004 and 34% in 200. Trump managed to drive the Republican share of the vote down another 8% and gained just 19% of the vote in Montgomery.

Tarnished National Brand

The Republican brand at the national level is now toxic in Montgomery. Many people who might be open to an alternative will not vote for anyone associated with a party that is as socially conservative on issues like gun control, abortion and LGBT rights as the Republicans. Trump has identified the party with racism that renders it even more anathema and helps explain its further slide in 2016. Even on economic issues, national Republicans are far more extreme than more moderate Montgomery voters.

Heightened Partisanship

In the not too distant past, people were reasonably willing to defect from their preferred party to vote for attractive candidates, especially incumbents, of the other party. No longer. Voters are now much more likely to cast a straight party ticket. In 2016, not a single state split their tickets for U.S. Senate and President. Republicans are on the wrong side of this equation in Montgomery.

Poor or No Candidates

Right now, the only declared Republican candidate for county executive is gadfly and perennial candidate Robin Ficker. When a major party in a county with over 1 million residents is reduced to running a guy who has lost 13 elections and is a frequent flyer at judicial ethics hearings, it has a problem.

Ficker’s antics attract a lot of attention—he makes Nancy Grace look press shy—but he doesn’t do more electable Republicans any favor. Beyond explaining whether they voted for Donald Trump in 2016, Republican candidates will also have to answer if they plan to vote for Robin Ficker for county executive in 2018.

Even though no candidate might benefit other Republicans more than Ficker in the county executive race, the inability of Republicans to find candidates in many races is the sign of a weak party. Democratic primaries, in contrast, tend to be extremely crowded for open seats—a signal of the value of the party’s nomination and a deeper candidate pool.

Extreme Base

One might think Montgomery Republicans would respond to their repeat rejection through moderation. However, its base is now much more extreme than in the past. This note I received in response from a locally active Republican to my post over the weekend calling for more attention to the plight of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands exemplifies how massively out of step local Republicans are with Montgomery voters:

[T[his post below I find extremely offensive and lacking in the usual factual rigor that you seem to usually try to bring to bear.

You are making hateful accusations ​against President Trump that have ZERO basis in fact and which only serve to undermine your credibility.

​I hope you will write an apology and a retraction and stick to facts instead of ad hominem attacks against President Trump moving forward.

Here is the “extremely offensive” attack with “ZERO basis in fact” on Donald Trump referenced in the email:

We know the President virtually does not care. Between his ravings on other topics, he barely had time to spare a tweet for Puerto Rico. He did have time to feed red meat to an all-white hard-right crowd in Alabama by attacking African-American NFL players.

In general, I try not to rush to “go there” because there enough hate in the world without suspecting it in ambiguous situations. But Donald Trump has enough of a record that it seems more than fair to ask if he might express more than an iota of interest if these were not overwhelmingly Latino and Black territories?

Donald Trump has now followed up his lack of interest with a new tweet criticizing of Puerto Rico for its debt crisis–amazingly oblivious from a man infamous for welshing on debts from massive loans for casinos to payments owed small businessmen.

As usual, the response from other Republicans is silence.

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Republican Delegates Protect Internet Scammers

By Adam Pagnucco.

After Republicans in Congress voted to allow Internet service providers to sell their customers’ browsing histories and other personal data without their consent, Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) took action to block such practices in Maryland.  But one group was able to prevent the General Assembly from even voting on whether to allow such conduct in the Free State.

You guessed it: Republican state lawmakers.

Bills in Annapolis face deadlines for introduction so that each chamber has adequate time to send them to committees, hold hearings and votes, and reconcile them if different versions pass.  But Congress’s action to legalize Internet providers’ scamming of their customers took place only days ago and Sine Die, the last day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 regular session, is approaching on April 10.  Delegate Frick, who is known for introducing consumer protection bills, had to act fast.  The Maryland Constitution requires two thirds of state legislators to agree to let a bill be introduced in the last 35 days of session.  So Frick quickly drafted a bill to outlaw the scamming that Congress allowed and asked his colleagues in the House of Delegates to allow its introduction.  He needed 94 votes.  He got 90.

Frick posted a partial screenshot of the vote page on Facebook (below).  Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) posted the full tally.  Every single Delegate who voted against the bill’s introduction was a Republican.  So were all the Members of Congress who voted to roll back federal Internet privacy rules in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

What did the Republican Delegates block from being voted on?  Frick’s bill was a simple one.  It would have made it an unfair or deceptive trade practice in Maryland for Internet service providers to sell or transfer their customers’ names, social security numbers, addresses, IP addresses and browsing histories without their affirmative permission.  It also would have banned them from showing ads derived from browsing histories and denying service to customers who refused to allow their personal information to be shared.  The bill made an exception for information subject to a subpoena, summons, warrant or court order.

One Republican Delegate who voted against introducing Frick’s bill, Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, told the Associated Press that Internet privacy is “a national issue, and a Maryland bill would just drag Washington politics into the state.”  Great!  So when millions of Marylanders get scammed by Internet predators, the state legislators who represent them should do nothing.  Nigerian princes, British lottery officials and offshore bank investors rejoice!

GOP politicians have been known for their squabbling in recent years, but on this one thing, they agree: your personal Internet data should be bought and sold without your knowledge or consent.  Remember that in November 2018.

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Hogan and Senate Republicans Throw Tantrum in Support of Trump

Maryland Democrats have been trying to link Gov. Larry Hogan to Donald Trump. Now, Hogan has done it for them.

Following his pattern of avoiding all politically touchy issues when at all possible, Larry Hogan refused to comment on Trump’s travel ban because it is “the sole purview of the federal government.” An interesting view expressed by the same guy who proudly declared that Maryland would refuse to accept Syrian refugees. Among other issues, the ban resulted in a 5-year old Maryland boy being separated from his mother and held for hours.

Hogan continued his pattern of avoidance by not responding to Attorney General Brian Frosh’s request to sue the federal government on this issue. No doubt Hogan thought this was a clever way to say no while saying nothing, but Frosh upped the ante by taking Hogan’s silence as permission.

Hogan’s silent freeze out ended in a tantrum when the General Assembly voted to give Attorney General Brian Frosh the authority to sue the federal government on this and other issues. Article V of the Maryland Constitution permits either the Governor or the General Assembly to give the AG license to sue.

After he abdicated his responsibility on a difficult issue, Hogan immediately lashed out at the General Assembly for taking action to defend the State on this and other issues:

At a news conference later Friday, Hogan called the Senate vote “unfortunate, rank partisanship.”

“I don’t know why you have to change the rules now that we have a Republican governor, but they’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately,” he said. “I would rather not see that kind of political operation going on and just focus on the problems in the state.”

No change in rules. Just take a moment to read the Maryland Constitution. Don’t get mad when the Assembly exercises its rights just because you chose duck and cover.

Again, remember that for Hogan, Syrian refugees are a Maryland problem but detained child is “federal issue.” Quite a change from when Obama was president. Republicans in the Maryland Senate joined the tantrum by walking out during the discussion of the bill.

The Governor and Maryland Republicans have now taken a firm stand in favor Trump and his policies. While the Governor tried to dodge, he ultimately strongly fought the Assembly’s decision to allow AG Frosh to oppose them, breaking his much vaunted amity in order to vocally support the Trump ban along with plans to dismantle environmental protections and take away health care from thousands of Marylanders.

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More Banana Republicans

Two more Republican delegates continue to hug Trump tightly. Let’s start with Neil Parrott:

parrott2

Del. Parrott is best known for his hysterical advocacy of the “bathroom bill” because he really thought that men dressing up as women to enter the women’s bathroom would become a thing once we passed transgender equality legislation.

These concerns do not extend to candidates that Parrott supports. He remains enthusiastically behind Donald Trump–the candidate who the Washington Post reported today has entered rooms with naked underage girls in it during the Miss Teen USA Pageant who were then forced to fawn all over him while nude:

To have the owner come waltzing in, when we’re naked, or half naked, in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.

So the same man who wanted to use fear of a small vulnerable minority to criminalize their use of bathrooms over a nonexistent problem has no issue when the presidential candidate of his own party preys on underage girls.

Moving on to Del. Warren Miller. He rationalized his support for Trump by claiming that “her campaign hates Christians” in a tweeted reply to Dylan Goldberg, who formerly worked for Sen. Guy Guzzone:

dylan1Miller clearly lives in the right-wing delusional alternative universe in which American Christians are persecuted and there is a “War on Christmas.” It would seem that the only Christian being persecuted here is Hillary Clinton.

One might add the weirdness of sending this particular tweet to Dylan Goldberg during Yom Kippur. While Miller’s belief about Clinton supporting Christian persecution is a work of fiction, Trump’s invocation of anti-Semitic tropes is on tape and he admitted to similar statements over the past 25 years.

As is well known, Trump retweets material, including the infamous anti-Semitic “sheriff’s star” attack, from right-wing white nationalist websites. His supporters have no problem attacking Trump critics, such as Anne Applebaum, for being Jewish.

In short, no one has done more to reawaken anti-Semitism in the U.S. in decades than Donald Trump. And this hardly compares to his routine demonization of Latinos, Muslims, and Blacks. Apparently, Miller is also fine with Trump’s anti-democratic threat to jail his opponent, undermining of NATO, and cozying up to Putin.

Folks, this is the norm in today’s Maryland Republican Party.

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