The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A fight next door

While the Democrats have a cut and dried choice for their Presidential nominee, there is a nasty, bitter fight in the congressional district next to the one I'm in that has led to my Democratic-enrolled wife (who does not live with me) receiving an amazing number of campaign leaflets.

First, some background. The westernmost district of Maryland (the Sixth) has long been represented by a Republican, Roscoe Bartlett. A couple of decades ago, then Governor Parris Glendening, horrified at the fact that Democratic-majority Maryland had a 4-4 division in its Congressional delegation, pushed through a gerrymander which would have made Elbridge Gerry proud. And it worked. Maryland's delegation has been either 6-2 or 7-1 in favor of the Democrats since then. (The one time it went 7-1 was after a bitter Republican intra-party fight in one district that left the incumbent Republican, defeated in the primary, endorsing the Democrat.) But the current Governor, Martin O'Malley, thought he could go Glendening one better. He took Roscoe Bartlett's district and remodeled it so it extends all the way into relatively urbanized Montgomery County, hoping to put in just enough Democrats to defeat Bartlett. The new Sixth District ranges from the very rural western end of the state to the dense Washington suburbs, stopping just a few blocks away from my home.

Some say the new district was drawn especially for State Senator Rob Garagiola, who has decided to move to the federal scene. Certainly, Garagiola figured so. But a serious challenger showed up: John Delaney, a businessman who has never held political office, but who seems, in the eyes of many people, to be a better choice. (The fact that he actually does not live in the Sixth District is no barrier. The Constitution only requires Congressmen to live in the same State that they represent, not the same district. In fact, it does not even require States to divide themselves into districts.) Delaney has the support of many powerful local politicians, including Douglas Duncan, who was the County Executive for years. And even former President Bill Clinton for some reason got into the act. You do not often hear of an ex-President endorsing a candidate in a local race in a State where they do not live, but he has officially endorsed John Delaney.

Each of the two (there are actually three other candidates in that primary, but nobody bothers to talk about any of the other three) has been slinging as much mud as you could imagine at the other. Garagiola brought up a six-year-old article in Forbes Magazine talking about how Delaney's business practices were heartless, and Delaney was termed a “loan shark” in Garagiola's campaign material. Delaney, in turn, points to Garagiola's work as a paid lobbyist for organizations ranging from banks to labor unions, something that Garagiola has tried to hide. Local newspapers have come out for Delaney. So, although the district may have been drawn up for Garagiola, Delaney seems to be the candidate of everyone who might be called “establishment,” or at least the “Democratic establishment.”

Obviously, I'm not going to favor either of one — first of all, I'm not in the district; second of all, I hope that whoever wins the primary loses to Bartlett in November — but Delaney seems the more honorable candidate (even if he's far too much of a liberal Democrat for me to like him, and even if he has the endorsement of Bill Clinton, whom I despise!) But it will be interesting to see who wins, and whether the supporters of the loser can back the winner, or whether the beneficiary of all this infighting will be Roscoe Bartlett.

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