Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Beware The Vengeful Arm Of John Astle

It seems that Senator Astle is not taking kindly to the backlash stemming from his flip-flop during the special session.

I have been made aware of an attempt at personal destruction made by Senator Astle toward Dr. Ron Elfenbein, a former candidate for District 30, in response to this letter:

Ron Elfenbein, M.D.
7023 Chesapeake Harbour Dr. E
Annapolis, MD 21403
(410) 990-0036
November 15, 2007
Dear Senator Astle,

As a constituent I feel that I, and the rest of
District 30, am owed an explanation. How could you possibly vote against the
filibuster on the tax increase bill and then claim to be anti-tax merely by
voting against a bill (the largest tax increase in this state's
history) you already knew was going to pass (as Mike Miller proudly
exclaimed he had the votes to pass it)? You really cannot have it both ways sir.
If you did not believe in the tax bill, what was the
problem with voting for the filibuster? I called your office to
ask you to vote against the tax increase, just after the vote was cast (I had
the incorrect time of the vote down). I was informed by one of your secretaries
that you had, indeed, “voted against the tax increase.” Little did I know that
what I was being told, while technically true, was anything but in

John, I have to be honest with you. I used to have a lot
of respect for you and I always stood up for you when anyone would question your
motives or character. Now, your behavior during this special session has brought
that into doubt and made me question your integrity, honesty and frankly your
ability to be trusted.

Senator, stand-up, take a side, make a
decision and live by it. You cannot have it both ways. If you are for the tax
increase-fine, I respect that. I disagree with it but at least you made a
decision and I respect it. Trying to have it both ways, merely because you live
in a conservative district and want to be re-elected is downright dishonest and
you, and your 4 co-conspirators, should be ashamed of yourselves.
These sorts of back-door shenanigans are exactly what give politicians a bad
name-well deserved in this case!

I have lost a lot of respect for
you Senator and as a constituent I would like to hear your explanation of this
cowardly act and how you possibly could allow this tax increase to go

Sincerely Yours,

Dr. Ron Elfenbein
As you can see, the letter clearly represents the view of Dr. Ron, and nothing of his employer. Nonetheless, using a perversion of poetic license, Senator Astle employed the hospital letterhead on Dr. Ron's envelope to make his personal life a living hell, sending the letter immediately to Dr. Ron's boss in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to get Dr. Ron fired or reprimanded. Can anyone think of another explanation?
If you ask me, and by reading this post you have asked me, this was a punk maneuver by Mr. Astle. Instead of trying to involve Dr. Ron's employer in a dispute, Senator Astle should have replied in kind. In fact, here is what such a rebuttal letter would look like:
Dear Dr. Elfenbein,

Thank you for your continued interest in the welfare of Marylanders.
It is because of dedicated citizens like you, who take the time to run for
office, that our political system has any chance of working.

I would like this opportunity to explain my vote on the tax issue.
Throughout the entire special session, I was keenly aware of how many votes
would be needed to pass the "O'Malley Theft & Thuggery Act" of 2007.
The organizers of the special session were equally aware that there are zero
people in my district who wanted this bill to pass, and that I would need some
political cover.

I needed to be able to say that I was against the taxes, so
that when the taxes passed, I could pretend that I was sad about that. So
I came out against taxes! I made it known that my office was hearing all
of the opposition; heck, I even implied that I would look at cutting programs
rather than raising taxes
! AS IF!!

The problem was those pesky Republicans. They don't understand that
it is government's right to spend money, and tried to stop us. They
mounted a filibuster that would have stopped the whole thing, and I voted to
stop that filibuster to make sure that the tax bill got to the floor. You
are right--this is the vote that really mattered, because we Democrats had
precise control and knowledge of how the floor vote would come

So, the vote came to the floor and I voted against it. Can you
believe that--I voted to allow the bill to get to the floor, but then voted
against the bill once it was on the floor! I got a good laugh that night
over at Harry Browne's. You see, I tried to make it look like I was against taxes, but
the truth is, I looked the other way when I had a chance to stop it. You
really have to appreciate our skill in doing this--we were so coordinated that
the final vote came down 24-23! AS IF! It really wasn't that
close--if there were more people whose votes we couldn't count on, there simply
would have been fewer of us who could enjoy political cover by voting for the

I'm sorry Ron--can I call you Ron?--this was a roundabout way to answer
your question. In short, I voted the way I did because it does not matter
to me what my constituents think. Six years ago, a relatively unknown Andy Smarick spent hardly any money and I beat him something like 53%-47%. Four years later, the juggernaut Herb McMillan campaign spent a quarter of a million dollars and got 1% more of the vote! It doesn't matter what I do--I will still be elected! I voted the way I did because I stay powerful by increasing the size of government, and do what the Governor and Senate President want.

If you'll excuse me, all of this legislating is cutting into my hunting


Johnny Boy

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