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Report: MD man lied about being a POW in Vietnam

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Steve Barr (pictured above between Delegate Nic Kipke and new Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh) lives in Pasadena and claims he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was honored – along with other veterans – by the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company last month and Kipke tweeted the above photograph, which Schuh retweeted.)

Unfortunately, This Ain’t Hell reports that Barr is lying about being a POW. TAH has his service records which show he did serve in Vietnam honorably, but that he wasn’t a POW. Barr even fooled Voice of America News and told them a story about a supposedly fallen comrade who died well after Barr’s service in Vietnam. TAH also notes that only one POW in Vietnam had the last name Barr and his remains were repatriated to the US in 1995.

I have written things that were less than flattering about both Kipke and Schuh in the past so I want to make sure to emphasize that I am not doing that here. They, along with everyone else Barr lied to, are among the victims in this situation. As a veteran, I am astounded that someone who went to Vietnam and was honorably discharged would betray his brothers who were held prisoner and, in many cases, died in captivity. It seems to me in some way that people who actually have a service record and embellish it this way are guilty of a worse offense than people who make their service up from whole cloth. Either way, people who commit this offense of stolen valor are reprehensible people.

Stolen Valor was in the news earlier this week after video emerged of Sean Yetman, a fake Army Ranger who never served, being berated in a Philadelphia-area mall last Friday by a veteran who saw him for the phony that he was. Officials are looking into whether Yetman benefited from his lies so that they can decide whether to charge him. A federal law that banned lying about your military service was struck down by the Supreme Court, so getting people for fraudulently obtaining benefits is the only avenue now in most cases.

I would suggest to Delegate Kipke and other members of the General Assembly that they might want to explore their options to pass a state law dealing with this issue. It might not help in the case of Barr (although it could – I’m just not sure what specific benefits he might have received solely because of the POW claim) but it’s something that needs to be looked at and would likely enjoy bipartisan support.

Stolen valor cases in this area are a topic I will continue to cover in the future.

Here’s the original tweet from Kipke:

Watch Justin Berk’s Mobbies Meltdown

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Congratulations would all you’d expect to be in order to Justin Berk for winning Best Twitter Account and Best Facebook Page at Wednesday night’s Mobbies, sponsored by The Baltimore Sun. However, reports by people in attendance indicated a Berk meltdown when he got on stage to accept an award. Berk talked about the good things, like fundraising, he had accomplished via social media. He then talked about an “impostor” account that he said had said petulant and immature things. He claimed the person behind this “impostor” (really a parody account despite his claim of imitation) was in the room. He made other comments that basically said he was taking the high road but that he was sitting on a big story and could cause problems for people with it if he wanted. He then quoted Taylor Swift and grabbed his crotch before leaving the stage.

That parody account he was referring to is @notjustinberk on Twitter. Since it’s clearly a parody account and not someone trying to imitate him I suspect Berk taking the high road is because his lawyer told him he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if he were to sue. (You can see videos including the full speech at various points below.) I’m not sure Berk is deserving of Best Twitter Account if he doesn’t understand parody accounts. He was able to get enough votes to win the award and talk about what a big deal he is, but he’s so thin-skinned he can’t handle a parody account – an account which wouldn’t exist if he wasn’t at least somewhat popular. Now, thanks to the same social media popularity that has made him since his abrupt departure from local television, he will be remembered for this meltdown more than for the awards.

One person who was there also had thoughts and comments – referring to Berk’s speech as “embarrassing”, “passive-aggressive”, and “ego-laced.” The comments there also included this:

Basically he went off on trolls who apparently upset him with a parody Twitter account. In the process he proclaimed that he “knew some of you here were helping them” and said he had evidence of that, and action by former employers, etc that he could use to “destroy careers” with if he hadn’t decided to “take the high road”. Then went on to laud himself for a bit longer. So… he had an opportunity to use this stage to discuss online abuse with a sympathetic audience, and instead melted down in his own self-aggrandizement. It was sort of sad, as much as it was somewhat entertaining in a slow-motion-train-wreck way. But it was a true downer in an otherwise upbeat evening.

Berk himself responded to one person’s criticism on Twitter and alcohol consumption was mentioned. Some other comments on Twitter are here.

City That Breeds posted this video – which clearly captures the audio of the entire speech


This video, posted Thursday morning, shows Berk quoting Taylor Swift and grabbing his crotch at the end of his speech:

 

ICYMI @justinweather just likes to shake shake shake it off #Mobbies

 

A video posted by Will C (@wheelsee) on

Hogan: Tax Cuts in Maryland Could Be Delayed

Jayne Miller made the following tweet today
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From a lede of a story in The Daily Record by Bryan Sears:

Maryland’s incoming governor said Monday that a larger-than-expected budget gap will likely affect how quickly he can keep a campaign promise to roll back taxes.

Hogan also said, “The problem seems to be even greater than we expected it to be.”

More from the Sears article:

“I’ve been talking about these issues for three years. Much of the time I was the lone voice in the wilderness talking about the problems. Now people are starting to realize that what we were talking about is true,” Hogan said. “Quite frankly, even I am surprised at the magnitude of the problem. The task ahead of us is vast.”

Hogan getting in front of this issue before he even takes office is a good move to prevent Democrats from hitting him on it. Hogan pointing out the state’s budgetary woes were even worse than he thought before he is even inaugurated should insulate him from criticism on the issue.

Hogan blaming O’Malley at this point is a valid thing to do and a Democrats would look hypocritical to attack him over it. After all, Nationally, Democrats and the President blamed all of the nation’s woes on the Bush administration for several years and, here in Maryland, the hyper-partisan administration of Martin O’Malley was an active player in the Blame Bush cavalcade.

With that being said, the delay in tax relief should not be much of one or it might actually hurt Hogan politically, especially if the Democrats try to sabotage his administration on this issue.

UPDATE
NBC Washington reports:

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan says he remains committed to pursuing tax relief in his first year as governor, despite a projected budget shortfall of more than a half a billion dollars.

Hogan, a Republican, said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press that he would consider calling a special session next year to do more work on the state’s finances, if that’s necessary.

Did a MD GOP candidate lie about having a college degree? #integritymatters

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On his editorial board questionnaire for The Baltimore Sun (screenshot at the bottom of this post), Maryland State Senate candidate Don Quinn indicated he has a B.S. from Washington State University. His Linkedin profile (screenshot also below) indicates he has a B.A. in Political Science and Government from Washington State University and was there from 2008-2012. Other candidate profiles online, including this one, indicate that he graduated in 2014.

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Here’s what an official in the Office of the Registrar had to say when asked:

Donald Quinn has not received any degrees from Washington State University.

There is also no listing for Quinn in the online commencement guides at WSU. I’ve laid out the facts and I’ll let my readers decide whether Quinn lied. (The screenshots below are in case any changes get made now that I’ve written this.)

Quinn was also recently in the news when he was blasted on Red Maryland Radio last week for a palm card his campaign was distributing that seemed to attack his opponent, Senator John Astle, over his large gun collection.

Here’s the portion of the card with that claim:

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Quinn, who won the GOP primary by a narrow margin over Eric Knowles in June (despite being endorsed by both Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele), encountered controversy during his primary campaign as well.

Among the things that I reported on Quinn before the primary:

  • Quinn’s residency was called into question and he was driving around a vehicle to events with Washington state plates.
  • He also only registered to vote on January 8, 2014 – the same day he filed to run for State Senate in District 30. He was still apparently registered in WA until then.
  • Quinn registered the domain name for the website FindLocalPot.com and before I pointed that fact out the website also had a copyright notice for his business on the site itself (that disappeared after my report.) Quinn claimed he just did the site for a client he didn’t name despite all the evidence to the contrary. Of course, after Quinn responded in the comments on that story, several comments were left using different names but the same IP address blasting me. These comments stopped when I pointed out the IP address being identical for all of them.
  • The Capital Gazette published a Fact Checker piece that largely agreed with what I wrote about the pot website.  In that piece Quinn claimed he had taken a leave of absence from his business in January, which doesn’t match his spin in the comments on my original piece. Of course, the business was registered in Wyoming and that state dissolved the whole company in January for non-payment of taxes.

As a result of all of this Quinn, a candidate for Senate, took to his campaign website and published a screed attacking a lowly, obscure blogger (me.) It’s a pretty amusing rant to read despite all the falsehoods in it (and yes I saved a copy of it in case it disappears too.) I’m sure the Knowles campaign would’ve been surprised to know about me supporting Knowles after all the abuse they heaped on me when I questioned the timing of when Knowles endorsed Steve Schuh for County Executive.

I stated clearly more than once before the primary that I gave Knowles and Quinn both no chance to take down Astle in November. Knowles’ defense of Michael Peroutka since and Quinn’s attack on Astle for gun ownership show they both would have run into problems in the general election campaign.

This is an issue that should matter to voters, activists, and officials in both party, since it’s an issue of integrity. This is the reason vetting of candidates is a crucial issue for the Republican Party in Maryland.  Otherwise you end up with candidates like Janice Fountaine or you have a state party that attempts to get Michael Peroutka to run for Attorney General.

With all this being said, I would hope generally the Republicans running for the Maryland General Assembly make gains this year. I just don’t expect it to happen in District 30 (I didn’t expect it to there no matter who won the primary.) I’ll be focusing primarily on Democrats and the O’Malley-Brown machine’s attempt to get a third term as governor for the rest of the campaign season this year.

The promised screenshots are below the fold.

Read More…

AP drops ISIL moniker – now refers to them as “Islamic State group”

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Associated Press blog:

Back in June we talked in this blog about AP’s preferred abbreviation for the fast-growing Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria, known variously at the time as ISIL and ISIS. We explained why our preference was ISIL.

Things then changed with ISIL’s decision in July to rebrand itself as the “Islamic State.” In a recent story, we explained that AP now refers to the organization as “the Islamic State group” (not simply “the Islamic State”) and the reason for this approach.

More:

Prior to the group’s self-declared rebranding in July, The Associated Press opted to refer to it as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, believing it was the most accurate translation.

The AP now uses phrases like “the Islamic State group,” or “fighters from the Islamic State group,” to avoid phrasing that sounds like they could be fighting for an internationally recognized state.

So they changed the name to match what the group calls itself basically. When do they start using the term pro-life instead of anti-abortion now?

Police: Woman wanted to shoot pregnant woman and take her baby

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Police in Berkeley County, South Carolina arrested Julie Marie Gookins (above) on Thursday after she allegedly pointed a gun at the stomach of an 8-months pregnant woman. Gookins was charged with kidnapping, burglary, weapons charges, and attempted murder. A judge denied bond to Gookins in a court hearing Friday.

The 26-year old victim told police that Gookins approached her while she was unloading groceries from her vehicle in the garage. The victim said that Gookins pointed the gun at her stomach and told her to go to the backyard or she would shoot the woman and her unborn child. After they went to the backyard, the victim said she was able to knock the magazine off the gun and then threw the gun into a pond. Police say a neighbor heard the disturbance, stopped Gookins as she was attemtping to leave, and held her down until police arrived. The victim did not require medical attention.

During the bond hearing Friday, the victim told the judge that she was afraid Gookins would kill her if she got out of jail. Police said that information from witnesses and evidence gathered indicated that Gookins wanted to kidnap the victim, then kill her and take the baby.

Ben Carson’s Gaffes

Ben Carson

My latest piece in The Ring at Practical Politicking discusses Dr. Ben Carson’s history of gaffes over the past couple of years and how they are evidence that so far he isn’t mounting a serious or credible campaign for President in 2016.

An excerpt:

[Matt] Lewis also noted that Carson would be “easily dismissed as a crank” if he stayed on the path he was on. It would appear that Carson hasn’t not changed course since Lewis made these remarks. While he may be good for a sound bite and throwing out red meat on the stump, this won’t make him a serious or credible candidate unless he makes changes quickly.

I previously wrote a feature article for Practical Politicking looking into whether Carson is a serious candidate. Today’s piece on his gaffes is a followup to that original piece.