A Miracle in Maryland?

Conservatives in Maryland rarely have something to cheer about. But things may slowly be changing, as efforts to recognize same-sex marriage and instill a ban on septic systems in large developments both died this spring once legislators realized they didn’t have the votes and the effort wouldn’t be worth the outcry from newly energized conservative stalwarts. The septic system ban was a particularly bitter pill for Governor Martin O’Malley to swallow as he made it the key new legislative initiative of his 2011 State of the State address.

Yet one controversial bill made it through by slim margins in both houses, with bipartisan opposition. Sponsored by a group of Maryland’s most liberal legislators, Senate Bill 167 allows illegal immigrants who graduated from the state’s schools to enjoy in-state tuition rates at the state’s community colleges. It is estimated the bill could cost state taxpayers upward of $3 million per year by 2016, although those who drew up the bill’s fiscal note conceded they couldn’t accurately gauge the impact.

While it’s not often tried and rarely succeeds, Maryland’s state constitution allows voters to petition bills to referendum at the next general election. Originally it was expected the same-sex marriage bill would be brought before Free State voters; instead that bill’s failure allowed conservative advocates to concentrate on battling the in-state tuition bill. Maryland is already thought of as a magnet state for illegal immigrants, and opponents of the measure were concerned that even more “undocumented workers” may find their way to the state, further burdening an already strained state budget.

Still, those who wished to bring to bill to referendum faced a tough challenge. Maryland’s referendum law has two hurdles: a number of valid signatures of registered voters equal to 3% of the vote total of the last gubernatorial race needs to be collected by June 30, with at least 1/3 of those submitted by May 31. For this electoral cycle, the number of signatures required is just over 55,000.

Despite the fact the Maryland General Assembly passes egregiously bad laws each year, the petition for referendum is rarely attempted. In 2009, after a bill allowing speed cameras in work and school zones was passed, organizers of a petition drive to send that bill to voters in 2010 fell just short at the 1/3 threshold. The last time a petition succeeded in making the ballot was 1991, while one has to go back nearly forty years to find the last time a ballot initiative succeeded in overturning legislation. So petition organizers knew history was against them.

But the modest crop of Maryland Republicans being elected these days owes a great deal to the Tea Party movement, and a freshman legislator who got his start with the Hagerstown Tea Party has taken the reins of the petition drive. And while Delegate Neil Parrott is the point man, he’s got an important ally in the fight as the Maryland Republican Party is actively engaged as well. State party Chair Alex Mooney also hinted the party may use this tactic more in the future, with tax increases on the horizon in this fall’s special session of the General Assembly. Speaking at the state party’s recent convention, he noted “we need to use that petition to referendum more often.”

Read more here.

Seattle murder conviction tossed out over ‘racist’ comments

The state Supreme Court has thrown out a man’s murder conviction in a 2006 gang-related shooting in Pioneer Square, ruling that the prosecutor who tried the case resorted to “racist arguments” to attack defense witnesses.

The court, in an 8-1 ruling, found that James Konat, a veteran King County deputy prosecutor now trying a high-profile murder case, engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in questioning witnesses during the trial of Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was convicted in 2007 of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison.

During the trial, Konat questioned witnesses, many of them black, about a purported street “code” that he claimed prevented some from talking to the police, according to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion written by Justice Tom Chambers. In questioning some witnesses, Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” the justices found.

During his closing argument to jurors, Konat also said that while witnesses denied the presence of such a code, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

Monday, 25, is black; Konat is white.

Monday appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, claiming that Konat “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” according to the Supreme Court.

Read more here.

Coulter’s new book “Demonic” describes ‘The mob mongering left’

The ideological axis of leftist ideas and ideals is generally taken to be the M&M team of Marx and Mao. What is intriguing about Coulter’s new book Demonic is precisely that it takes the French Revolution as the seed bed of leftist nirvana mongers.

Like any historical hypothesis it is a question of how well the general category of core events and memetic themes cluster to the hypothesis. It seems to drill right through the seminal leftist works of The Frankfurt School all the way to the pious Marxism of the Dali Lama. To use an overworked concept, Coulter’s work constitutes of a paradigm shift from M&M to R&R – Rousseau and Robespierre. Intriguingly, this is themed in with the psychology of mob behavior. This RR&M hypothesis works very well, as it tests out against the Kuhnian analysis of scientific paradigm shifts and his linking of science and the humanities.

Crucial to her foundational shift is her account of the French Revolution. This is not the “glorious” French Revolution account generally given in high school and even college texts. This is the French Revolution of the blood-lust of the French street mobs seeking revenge and egged on by Robespierre. In a breathtaking Orwellian twist Robespierre launched his rhetoric as head of the Committee of Public Safety:

If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country. … The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.

Terror = virtue? The result? Mass executions, political purges, priests imprisoned or executed. It is the Maoist, Leninist, Pol Pot urge to eliminate opposing ideas by eliminating those who hold them – the ultimate leftist deconstruction.

It is hard not to get a “that’s it” moment when Coulter links core leftist power to rhetoric that creates and inspires a mob mentality. From Makay’s account of the madness of crowds to Gustave LeBon’s ground breaking study of crowds to Freud’s study of group psychology, Coulter’s current account of the mob menatality is compellingly adroit. Her account:

an irrational, childlike, often violent organism that derives its energy from the group. Intoxicated by messianic goals, the promise of instant gratification, and adrenaline-pumping exhortations, mobs create mayhem, chaos, and destruction, leaving a smoldering heap of wreckage for their leaders to climb to power.

It links. It coalesces. It breaches the façade of intellectual pretension. It even explains the work of community organizers “the Democratic Party is the party of the mob . . . Indeed, the very idea of a ‘community organizer’ is to stir up a mob for some political purpose.” It even presages the mob mongering going on now in Wisconsin.

The Party of the Mob. The mob mongering left. That nails it.