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.

(Crossposted on Annapolis Politics)

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:

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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 reality.

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

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 forward.

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

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 out.

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 bill.

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 time.

Johnny Boy

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