March 28, 2007

New Castle County Council rejects cost-cutting proposals

Posted in New Castle County Politics at 11:05 am by Paul Smith Jr

NCCo rejects cost-cutting proposals

Here’s some of the cost-cutting measures they refused:

1. canceling catered dinners before council meetings
2. freezing pay for certain employees (apparently non union employees, who got the same percentage raises as union staffers, typically 5% raises and 3% cost of living adjustments. Can I become a County employee?)
3. reducing the money council members give away in each community grant from $15,000 to $10,500

Let’s leave aside the second issue just because I don’t feel like dealing with it at this point.

The first issue is crazy. Councilman George Smiley suggested that council members could bring their own food to the meals or have potluck dinners. But, “Some council members balked at the idea, saying the meal was not a luxury during busy meetings days during which they often don’t have time for a long dinner break.” Notice that this objection doesn’t actually address the point Smiley was making. How does the busy day prevent them from bringing food with them when they show up? I do it every day at work. (They could also have ordered food in, if they’re really busy.)

The third issue is also ludicrous. Why should we be giving any money to legislators to dole out as they see fit? Is this really any different from the earmarks that are so controversial in Congress right now? This system is rife with potential for scandal and abuse, as office holders could pass out these community grants as favors to political allies or to buy support. This should be abolished completely, but Council refused any cut.

These refusals to cut needless spending come at a time when County residents face a 17.5% property tax hike. While this isn’t a back-breaking hike for most, it is illuminating that our elected officials don’t seem to think they need to share the pain they’re about to inflict on their constituents. I can picture the ads now:

Oh, that would be sweet.

Crossposted at Gazizza

March 14, 2007

Human cloning ban introduced in State House

Posted in State Politics at 4:23 pm by Paul Smith Jr

Human cloning ban introduced in House

People convicted of violating H.B. 76’s ban on cloning could face up to five years in prison and fines up to $1.5 million for each offense, as well as the loss of any professional licenses issued by the state.

Convicted violators of the bill’s bans on trafficking embryos would face fines up to $1 million for each offense and up to five years in prison.

Dr. Mary McCrossan, who has a family practice in Wilmington and is a member of A Rose and a Prayer, said the bill would allow embryos declared as excess at in vitro clinics and slated to be destroyed to be used for research.

S.B. 5 sets out a series of conditions under which couples can voluntarily donate such frozen embryos for research.

I’d like to thank Joe Miro for submitting this bill. Cloning is the creation of new human life, usually for the object of experimentation. This violates the common sense moral standard of treating every person as an end in themselves rather than an means to another end. Every human life has value and needs to respected as such.

Just because we’re able to do something, doesn’t mean we’d be right to do so. As an extreme example, we can drop a nuclear bomb on Iraq and kill many terrorists quickly and some not so quickly, but that would be wrong from a moral point of view. (As well as strategic, but that’s beside this point.) So we wouldn’t do that. But with time cloning could make that nuclear bomb death toll look like chicken feed.

We may think that a clone is just another version of the original person. But that’s not the case. Just because two people share the same genetic sequence doesn’t make them the same person. Think of a set of identical twins. The pair of twins I know well are quite different people, and frankly are easy to tell apart, but are identical twins nonetheless. We’ve seen example of this with cloning as well. A cat was cloned (although why anyone would want to clone a cat is beyond me) and named “CC” for carbon copy. The picture below of CC and her mother shows that CC is anything but a carbon copy.

So much for the “carbon-copy” idea. CC is clearly a distinct individual cat. (CC’s the one on the right.) The same would apply for a cloned human. If someone were to clone me, the clone might not turn out to be the wonderful, smart, and modest human being I am. Cloning me for the purpose of scientific study would be creating a new life solely to experiment upon. Even the Nazis, for all their evil, never did that.

We need to ban the practice of human cloning to keep from going further down this path we’re on. Urge your representative to vote for HB 76.

March 7, 2007

Wayne Smith — The Final Interview

Posted in Conservatism, State Politics at 4:54 pm by Hube

I recently contacted soon-to-be vacating House Majority Leader Wayne Smith with some questions from various members of the DCBA.

The questions were as follows:

1. Why, Wayne, why?
2. With your resignation, we’ve lost a strong voice for conservative values in the General Assembly? Who can Delaware conservatives look to to fill your shoes?
3. What should the Republican party do to rebuild in an increasingly blue state?
4. What legislative priorities should the GOP focus on in the coming years?
5. Have you made a choice in the 2008 Presidential Primary?
6. Are there any seats in Delaware that look ripe for a Republican pickup?
7. Do you think the Republican Party (DE and RNC) is headed in the right direction?
8. What say you to those who believe you bolted now because of John Kowalko’s “grace period” bill?
9. In conjunction with question #8, when were you offered your new position (job)?

Wayne responded in paragraph form:

One of my favorite quotes is from President Teddy Roosevelt, who intoned that, “far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Well, elective service is work worth doing and so is working on health care issues, which is arguably the most significant domestic issue this state and nation will be debating in the years to come. I’ve loved my period of elective service, but like many things in life, sometimes it is time to move on. My new job affords me a wonderful opportunity to continue to work with significant public policy issues in a critical sector of our economy. My hours should be somewhat more regular and predictable as well, which suits this homebody (where home encompasses a wonderful wife and four really neat children) very well.

Conservatism ebbs and flows. Right now, after the success of Ronald Reagan and the GOP Congress in the mid and late 1990’s (before it wrecked itself on out of control spending), we’re in a trough. Much of this is driven by concern and frustration over the War in Iraq. These things do change. One can bank on liberal excesses encroaching upon individual freedoms and producing an expanding government. This will start the type of reaction that will play to conservatism’s strengths. In Delaware, there is no doubt that the center of what we’ve understood the Republican Party to be since President Reagan’s presidency has moved south. Conservative plays as well in Kent and Sussex counties as liberalism plays in New Castle. Therefore, conservative leaders are more likely to be successfully launched from these friendly territories. They will have more freedom to be all-around conservatives because their constituencies are very supportive of that world view. We will have our issues. Certainly low taxation and spending play to our strengths and are supported by more than just conservatives. We need to go after some of what Pete DuPont called “damned right” issues. I’ve always believed instituting a state flat tax could be one of these. There are many others out there; what the party and elected leaders need to do is to be bold enough to take on some of the “you’ll never get that done” issues. For example, when I first ran for office at age 27, I said I was going to try to end forced busing. Many people patted me on the head and said in effect, “nice little candidate.” Well, about five years later, we had dissolved court ordered busing which allowed innovations like public school choice and charter schools to be used in northern New Castle County. Not to mention all of those children spending a lot less time on busses and the reappearance of community schools. Some of these “damned right” issues are tough and hard to crack. But the public has lots of grievances with the way things are – mining those and being willing to tilt at windmills (some of them do get knocked down) is one of the key to success.

As far as the presidency in 2008, I’m a national security guy. I believe the War on Terror is real, critical and woefully underestimated as a threat by the vast majority of Americans. I’m looking for a candidate who wants to take out the bad guys who want to kill us and our families – not try to understand his historical grievances or his pining for a new Caliphate. Maybe it’s Giuliani, maybe its McCain. But I do know that in a country that has seen its elementary schools ban dodgeball as too competitive and mean, a hard war is a long way from gaining popular support. President Bush, to his credit, I believe understands what is at stake and the lengthy commitment it will take to defeat this new enemy.

As for my job, it is a great opportunity that fits in well with my life right now. These types of jobs take months to develop and involve formal search procedures and lengthy interviews. These last years, I’ve kept an open mind to new opportunities (I’m 44 and have been a legislator for over 16 years). None that I’d discussed, sought out, or been approached on seemed like the right fit for various reasons. Sometimes it was the difficulty of wrapping it around part-time legislative duty. Sometimes it just didn’t interest me. I can say that the chance to still work on public policy problems was a very attractive facet of the job offer I accepted.

I’ve really appreciated my time on the public stage and am grateful to everyone who supported my efforts.

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I want to thank Wayne Smith for taking the time to answer our questions. We thank him for his service to Delaware and wish him all the best in his new position.

March 4, 2007

There they go again

Posted in State Politics at 2:27 pm by Paul Smith Jr

In their seeming unending quest to destopry innocent human life, the Delaware General Assembly is again considering a bill to promote embryonic stem cell research, which by necessity destroys human life. This is in spite of the fact there is no need for this destructive research: adult stem cells have been used with no moral question to discover over 80 cures and recent discoveries have shown non-desctructive means for garnering the embryonic stem cells. In spite of these more beneficial alternatives, this bill would legalize cloning and destruction of nascent human life.

The campaign A Rose and a Prayer, which successfully stopped this bill last year is back again to protect the innocent. Visit their website, learn more about the bill and the healthy and moral alternitives to this research.

Suporters of the bill claim it outloaws cloning. This is not true. In fact, it legalizes cloning, as long as you kill the clone within a few days. This bill is about as anti=human life as you can get: it forbids creating life itself, but allows creating life for the explicit purpose of destroying it.

Support Life. Call your legislator to oppose this bill.