Presenting: The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Well, I didn’t get a minor league season this year but I did get a Class of 2020 for the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

This class will go down in history as perhaps the most unique in the 12 seasons I have done this. Of the three players who made it this year, they have 37 big league games between them – 35 of which belong to Ryan Mountcastle. My other two players – Yermin Mercedes and Garrett Cleavinger – have the distinct possibility of joining Zach Clark in the “one and done” club as Clark’s big league resume consisted of exactly one appearance.

Of course, you come closer to 100 big league games of experience if you count the 62 games the Cleveland Indians played with Kyle Hudson as a coach. He made it back to The Show and necessitated the new coaches wing of the SotWHoF.

With the shorter season, I was truly shocked that Mercedes’ August 2 debut was the first, and probably more shocked that he never returned to the Chicago White Sox roster where he played with fellow SotWHoF member Nicky Delmonico in the lineup – a rarity indeed as Delmonico only got into six games this season.

Needless to say, we all expected to see Ryan Mountcastle this year and he put up spectacular numbers – enough so to merit a little Rookie of the Year consideration but set him up well for the 2021 award since he will still be eligible. He looks set to be the Orioles’ left fielder after his August 21 debut.

And Garrett Cleavinger finally made it into a game in his second go-round on the Philadelphia roster, debuting September 17. Unfortunately, he was optioned back out the following day and did not get a third call.

Thus, this year it turned out I had a class of four: three players and one coach. For a shortened season it was a very good class and it included a couple players I thought might get the call last year at this time (Mountcastle was a no-brainer.)

While Wynston Sawyer came somewhat close to making his debut, briefly landing on the Yankees’ 40 man roster, I believe the window of opportunity is closing fast on what was a great group of 2014 players (not to mention those who were selected prior, like Sawyer.) And to be frank, 2015 and 2016 don’t look exceptionally promising, either, thanks to losing the entirety of the 2020 minor league season. 2015’s Ademar Rifaela isn’t anywhere near the Baltimore outfield conversation while guys from 2016 like Jay Flaa (frequently brought from minor league camp during spring training), Brian Gonzalez (who recently signed with the Rockies on a minor league deal after spending part of 2020 at the Orioles’ alternate training site), and Jesus Liranzo (pitching in the Dominican Republic this winter) didn’t really step forward.

So we look to the group from 2017-19. The only two remaining from 2017 are now both on the Orioles’ 40-man roster as pitcher Alex Wells recently joined outfielder Ryan McKenna there. While it’s not yet necessary for them to be placed on the 40-man, they are joined by 2018 hopefuls Zac Lowther (who is on the 40-man anyway), Mason McCoy, DL Hall, and Brenan Hanifee.

With a real outside chance, we have 2019’s Grayson Rodriguez (who was in the ATS this summer) and Adam Hall. Both are more likely to be in the Class of 2022. Missing an entire year of Shorebirds of the Month is going to create a significant drought around 2023-24, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 minor league season and how long it will be scheduled for. (Assuming, of course, the Shorebirds remain part of MiLB – not exactly a given.) The HoF may only have 2 or 3 next year, although there’s big potential for surprises thanks to this lost season.

With the publication of this post, I’ll bring the newly updated SotWHoF back live and allow you to read and enjoy.

Hard to believe: monoblogue turns 15

I’m definitely into the moody teenage stage now.

Pretty much every year on December 1st I do a retrospective of where monoblogue has been and where it might just go in the next year. While I actually began this a few days in advance because our family’s plans included a trip away, the fact remains that 2020 and the CCP virus definitely affected my initial plans. (Well, that and a few technical hiccups and the need for a new laptop.)

So I really haven’t made it into some of the internal plans I had regarding creating my author site, and updating photos and such on old posts…truth be told, I sort of forgot about it with everything else going on. (We had these local and national political races, don’cha know?) Maybe this coming year, if I can find the time – you never know when you may need that author site. 🙂

One thing I can say about 2020 is that what seemed like a so-so year for readership has really caught fire in the last three months. Turns out that year-to-date I am already at my best year since 2016, which was when I stopped doing daily posts. And this came to pass right about the time I was doing my dossier series, which is probably the most lengthy-term, multi-part project I’ve ever done on this site insofar as focusing on one subject. It was sort of a blessing in disguise that I did not have Shorebird of the Month to deal with; however, that’s not to say I didn’t miss doing them!

In looking up my post output, though, that dossier series made a serious dent in my numbers. Once upon a time I came close to a post a day, but so far this year it’s only about a post and a half a week – granted, I essentially did my dossier series two to three times but all that counted as one post since I simply updated. Since I don’t see a similar series until 2024 because there’s neither a governor’s race nor a scheduled Senate race, I think posting in 2021 will get back to its 2 to 3 times a week, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. It depends as always on how inspired I am.

One thing that inspired me recently is rereading some of what I wrote the last time our nation was in this particular pickle of shifting from Republican to Democrat, the early part of 2009. In truth, perhaps I should freshen up the three lessons I provided because I think they still mostly ring true. There is definitely the potential for TEA Party 3.0 if we can do it right this time and kick out the grifters and con artists.

While this website has always been about what interested me, longtime readers know about my fondness for thinkers like Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, and Victor Davis Hanson. They’re the type whose understanding of history makes their commentary timeless and evergreen. In doing a post a day I sort of got away from that, but at this slower pace I’d like to believe I can provide this service to readers who wish to be missionaries for the secular cause of Constitutional thought. (In part, that’s because it paves the way for the more traditional role of missionary as one who brings the Good News of Jesus Christ.)

So I suppose I am off and running on year number 16 – the website domain was renewed and it’s still with the same server company (or, actually, its successor since they’ve changed hands a couple of times.) As long as the Good Lord gives me life and the ability to convert my thoughts into these blog posts I’ll be here, standing athwart of what seems to be a trend in history to backslide toward tyranny. It’s still a lot of fun for me, so why stop now?

What happened to the Constitution (Party)?

I promised you this post a few weeks ago, and here it is.

When I left the GOP in 2016, I opened up my process for deciding who I would select for my Presidential vote. The eventual winner of that decision was a gentleman named Darrell Castle, who was the standardbearer of the Constitution Party, or CP. As a write-in candidate in Maryland, he received eight votes in my home county and a total of 566 votes statewide. He and running mate Scott Bradley were the second-largest write-in combination, although they finished miles behind the nationally promoted campaign of Evan McMullin. Overall, the Constitution Party eclipsed the 200,000 vote mark for the first time ever despite a lack of ballot access as they were on the ballot in only about half the states. (The same was true in Delaware, where the pair received another 74 write-in votes.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with the CP’s choice for President this time around, who reminded me of a grifter taking advantage of the ballot spot in those states where they had earned access. Don Blankenship was a former mining company CEO who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018 as a Republican, losing in the primary then running a “sore loser” campaign in the general election as a member of the CP. Apparently the nation wasn’t enthused either as Blankenship has so far only picked up about 57,000 votes. It’s going to be a significant retreat for the party which only four years ago seemed to be on the verge of breaking out.

But one problem they had: no one bothered to file the paperwork and pay the fees for Blankenship to even be a write-in candidate here in Delaware or in Maryland. In fact, the people in 20 states, including some of the biggest like Ohio, California, and Texas, could not vote for the Constitution Party. So it wasn’t just me, and that’s a real problem.

As is the case with most political parties, the CP will turn over its leadership with the new electoral cycle. In its case, everything old is new again: they brought back James Clymer, who was the CP national chairman from 1999 to 2012, serving three terms at a time when the party evolved from what was the U.S. Taxpayers Party to its current moniker and enjoyed its previous high-water mark in Presidential support in the 2008 election with Chuck Baldwin as its nominee.

Yet the burning question will be this: can the Constitution Party survive at a time when one side of the political equation demands the maintenance of the Trumpism that doesn’t mind growing extra-Constitutional government as long as it benefits the working class (essentially the platform of the Kennedy-era Democratic Party) and the other side wants to burn down the capitalist system to instill a fascist system when industry is allowed but does what government dictates while redistributing wealth and power to favored classes at the expense of the old order?

There may be room at that political table nonetheless. As I see it, though, the first order of business for the CP in this next cycle will to be putting an emphasis on maintaining ballot access in the states in which they already have it and securing it in states where it’s relatively easy to attain. For local examples, getting thousands and thousands of signatures in Maryland would be difficult to do without a significant investment of funds, and it’s a process that’s likely required for repeat every four years. On the other hand, ballot access in Delaware would require about 400 voters to change their registrations over from someone else to the CP.

However, the problem with the First State is that there are many other choices already here which are tantalizingly close to the 740 +/- registered voters required for ballot access. This is a rundown of the largest “minor” parties by registration numbers in Delaware, as of November 1 as well as the change in 2020 (in parentheses.) I’ll just list the ones ahead of the Constitution Party:

  • Independent Party of Delaware: 8,640* (+1,375)
  • Libertarian Party: 1,977* (+243)
  • Nonpartisan: 1,120 (+203) (this is listed separately from the much larger “no party”)
  • Conservative Party: 729 (+194)
  • Green Party: 716* (-22)
  • American Delta Party: 672 (-39)
  • Liberal Party: 655 (+190)
  • American Party: 573 (+29)
  • Working Families Party: 347 (+17)
  • Constitution Party: 270 (-4)

The parties with a star (*) had ballot access in 2020. The Green Party barely made it onto the ballot this year but would not meet the cutoff for 2022 as it currently stands; meanwhile, the growth of the Conservative Party puts it in position to qualify with just a few more voters. Apparently the American Delta Party was on the ballot as recently as 2018 but has lost its status as people exit the party, which probably explains its decline. (They are in the process of merging into the Alliance Party, so the name may change in coming months. It’s the party which ran Roque De La Fuente for President and about everything else recently.)

It’s hard to explain the rapid growth of the Conservative Party aside from the name; as it was they leapfrogged both the Greens and American Delta. There is a Conservative Caucus of Delaware which runs a website, but insofar as I can tell they are not the political party. If they are, they are a lot closer to attaining ballot status than the Constitution Party is. They certainly have the rapid growth that the Constitution Party would need to make it on the ballot in 2022. Similarly, the American Party did not field a presidential candidate but they have a conservative philosophy like the CP. And none of them ran candidates in Delaware.

Parties, however, should be about running and electing candidates for political office. It follows, therefore, that in a tactical sense perhaps the best option is a merger among the voters of the CP and American Party, with an invitation for the Conservative Party to join in. At least in Delaware, a merger of the national CP which has the wherewithal to run a presidential candidate and the voters of the American Party that have the same philosophy but are trying to mine the same played-out claim makes sense: it gives them a somewhat bulletproof 100 voter margin for ballot access plus whatever the Conservatives bring along.

And with a ballot line, they would be encouraged to run candidates on a local and state level. Once they have candidates, there’s a little bit of media coverage to explain the platform and its benefits. Obviously this won’t be enough to overcome the R vs. D duopoly in the near term but why should we try to attain our aims as cats in need of herding?

Given the weakness of this state’s Republican Party, Delaware may be fertile territory to begin a needed takeover of the conservative movement. We should also be encouraging the growth of the Green Party, Working Families Party, and Liberal Party at the expense of the other end of the duopoly. Shouldn’t it be power to the people and not the parties?

With everything that’s happened in 2020 and some of the promised change in our nation’s political direction if the Biden/Harris team is successful in stealing this election (there, I said it) 2022 is going to be the most reactionary midterm election ever. It’s time for the pro-liberty forces to join together, moreso than the TEA Party ever did, and make an impact at the local and state levels.

A definition of a right

I have a blog category I call “don’t let good writing go to waste.” It’s used for the occasional lengthy comments that I put up on social media that are too good to bury there. I hadn’t transferred one to this site in awhile, but I thought I needed to in this instance because it was in response to my wife sharing a piece I wrote for The Patriot Post and her social media audience isn’t that congruent with mine. So here you are, as I discuss the current political scene and the Second Amendment. I’m not going to blockquote myself in this instance.

The response that drew mine stated:

“Keep the hate going…the far right and far left are only pleasing the enemies of this country.”

First of all, how is pointing out legitimate concerns about our God-given Constitutional rights meeting the definition of “keep the hate going?”

Secondly, I don’t consider myself “far right” although I do claim to be barely left of militia. As I see it, political philosophy is not linear, but more like a circle because the far left – which I define as a single entity controlling all aspects of life, such as a dictator or tyrant, constitutes the end destination of socialism, which works its way leftward through communism to that extreme.

On the other side, through the Randian scale of libertarianism which is the greater and greater anarchy of every man exerting his rights for himself, you come to a point where the strongest survives because he can best exert his rights at the expense of someone who is weaker. At that point, the strongest person is the dictator or tyrant – thus, the same point on the circle.

Somewhere on the other side of the diameter is the optimum point where people have rights, but the minority is respected. Close by that point was the Constitutional republic we founded, and our position on the circle has shifted over the years as we eventually eliminated the slavery present when we began and gave all adult citizens the right to vote, but we also ceded an oversupply of power to a central government.

What protects us in that regard, however, is the fact we have available to us weapons which equalize situations. Would you have the strength to fight off an attacker who was young and in shape? Probably not, but your having a weapon negates their advantages. The same goes for government – in 1775 we went up against the strongest army the world had known to date and eight years later defeated them because we had the wherewithal to do so – we could indeed fire when we saw the whites of their eyes instead of being unarmed subjects like the unfortunate citizens of other nations are or were.

That’s why my piece was important.

*****

And why I don’t let good writing go to waste. My job in this blogging quest for a more perfect union is that of education, and I try not to let such an opportunity pass. It reminded me of the early days when I engaged regularly with left-leaning bloggers before we hid in our information silos.

But wait, there’s more! The commenter wrote back:

God wrote the constitution? I missed that. I also lack your devotion to guns and would rather live by the rule of law. Glad to hear you are left of militia. However the patriot post is a conservative publication always leaning right and not always supporting truth. Therefore I repeat that extreme right and left wing publications and movements please our enemies.

So I had to douse her with information yet again:

I missed where I said that God wrote the Constitution. (I do believe it’s divinely inspired, though.) What I did say is that we have God-given Constitutional rights, which our Founding Fathers cited in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

“Endowed by their Creator,” or God-given. The Constitution was our effort to instill a more perfect union after the weakness of the original Articles of Confederation that was written as we were winning our independence from the British Crown was shown.

I’d love to live by the rule of law, too, but sometimes we need to have the means to enforce our rights. And the beauty of our society is that you can choose not to own a gun while we can choose to use our 2A rights.

Now, regarding The Patriot Post, their mission is simple: “From inception, our mission has been, and remains, to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by first, advocating for individual rights and responsibilities; second, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary; and third, promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values, as outlined in our Statement of Principles.” So we work as a news aggregation source, or digest. In our “humble shop” we have a mix of people who write commentary on news and issues of the day designed to extend that mission, and my task is to write a piece each week. Now if your version of “truth” is “orange man bad” then you may be a little disappointed. My version of truth is that he advanced our ball down the field much more so than he fumbled it.

Finally I would argue that the extreme left in our country is working in concert with our enemies since they are fellow travelers. Moreover, what you seem to be defining as the extreme right is, in truth, another version of the extreme left. (They are not anarchists.) As I said before, we who would like a more Constitutional republic with limited government are on the other side of the circle.

And yet, after all that she responded:

(W)ho got the word from God that guns are paramount in our salvation? A group of men decided what were God given rights. And none speculated that these rights included the right of deranged usually white male to shoot at innocent people( school children) to make a point.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for who? White men with guns? There is no clear knowledge of the backers of the patriot post. Therefore I again suggest the point is to separate rather than unite citizens.

What is your plan to usher the kingdom of God to our world? Shoot or threaten to shoot those whose opinion differs from yours? Government does for people what they can’t do for themselves:

Promotes sensibility during a pandemic

Provides healthcare for all

Protects the people from those who believe the most guns win

Where is the creativity in a gun? What do you offer the world that is life-giving and beautiful?

I had enough patience left for one last long reply:

I’m sitting here awestruck by the leaps of illogic you exhibit in your responses. So how about a different thought exercise?

First of all, let’s say I had a gun on my person, came to you, and laid it on a table. Would that gun do you harm laying there?

A gun is a tool. Oftentimes it is a very useful tool for self-protection even if it’s never fired. Knowing a law enforcement officer has a gun, would you take a step to punch him in the face? Of course not, for two reasons: one, you know you can’t outrun a bullet, but more importantly, you were taught respect for the law and for life. Unfortunately, far fewer are taught respect for the law and life these days so you get unfortunate incidents of people shooting at innocent victims (although more often than not these are perpetrated by black males – just look at the crime docket of a weekend in Chicago or Baltimore.) It’s more likely that a person not taught respect for the law or for life would be the one who shoot those whose opinion differs with theirs – just compare the peaceful protest of a million people yesterday in Washington, D.C. by Trump supporters with the actions of the BLM/antifa that evening as they harassed remaining Trump supporters.

We all have inalienable rights. It’s government’s job to protect them.

Unfortunately, the public has been misled into believing the government also establishes rights and that’s where they are wrong. For example, health care is NOT a right; however, as I think I pointed out in another thread, the federal government has a law that it cannot be withheld based on inability to pay.

Sensibility during a pandemic would be protecting the most vulnerable populations while allowing others who can better deal with the symptoms to develop the herd immunity.

“What is your plan to usher the kingdom of God to our world?” All I can do is be a missionary. It’s not my call as to when the kingdom of God is established. Way, way above my paygrade.

“Where is the creativity in a gun?”

It’s there in the innocent lives its proper use in defense of liberty retains.

“What do you offer the world that is life-giving and beautiful?”

Our part in the last, best hope for liberty on this earth. To go the other way would be to have the boot of tyranny stamp on a human face forever, to paraphrase George Orwell.

*****

There was a little more, but you get the point. I think I beautifully explained a lot of Constitutional philosophy in these words.

The exodus

There’s little question this election season will rank among the most divisive in our history. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between the populists and conservatives who backed Donald Trump and the liberals and bohemians who either supported or held their noses to vote for Joe Biden have qualified this as perhaps the most bitter balloting since 1860 – and we all know what happened after that one.

I would also submit to you that the amount of yellow journalism in this election was comparable to those long-ago races where partisan newspapers were unafraid to make up or amplify rumors about the opponents of their favored candidates. After all, we went through three-plus years of a trumped-up (pun intended) media-driven impeachment while those same organs basically ignored a potential blackmail scandal affecting Joe Biden and his son Hunter that erupted just three weeks before the election. Maybe they “learned” their lesson from the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal that came to a crescendo just days before the election in 2016 and perhaps cost her an election that the media assured us was in the bag for her.

The biggest differences, however, between the modern day campaign and those elections of long ago are the speed of communication and lifestyle. In Lincoln’s day, the telegraph was in its early stages of development and news more often came from local newspapers. It may have taken a week for some to find out who won the election, and that’s if they purchased a copy of the local newspaper. While the newspaper industry of 1860 may have pitted rival against rival because they preferred different papers that backed opposing politicians, the news didn’t dominate the lives of common folk who were more interested in working for their survival as farmers or laborers or headed a household full of children to raise. It was truly the 1% who had enough leisure time to debate the political.

Now we have 24/7 cable news, but more importantly we have social media as a means of information and communication – and the reason we have social media is because we have evolved our lifestyles to a point where even those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder have time to follow the news or at least keep up with the culture. No longer are religion and politics taboo subjects for discussion; in fact, having no political opinion makes you the outlier. Either you’re on the red team or the blue team these days. (By not voting or voting third party, in the eye of the beholder you are the opposition.)

So if you’ll pardon the long introduction, my point is that, over the last month or so, we have seen a breakup that follows the political in the arena of social media, one which has accelerated since the election and grown to include the modern-day equivalent of the local newspaper.

I had never heard of Parler before this summer, but back in June there was an early move toward the social network based on issues with Twitter, for which Parler is considered the closest cousin. I jumped onto Parler on June 22, but to be honest I use it much the same way I use Facebook except I don’t post as much. (Part of this was that I never cared for Twitter.) Since the runup to the election with its constant reminders to go vote and the so-called “fact checking” exceedingly applied to conservative viewpoints – while liberals are unquestionably taken at face value – the growth of Parler has been exponential.

Joining Parler on the growth list are a couple of news channels. All summer there were rumblings among the conservative set that “fair and balanced” Fox News was no longer as fair or balanced. These rumblings grew louder with Chris Wallace’s hard-hitting interview of President Trump in July and his widely panned mishandling of moderator duties during the first Presidential debate. Strike three, however, was Fox News’s willingness on election night to call Arizona quickly for Joe Biden while slow-walking calls on states Trump eventually won handily, such as Florida.

Since the election, thousands of Trump supporters have vowed to stop watching Fox (even if it’s only the programming outside popular shows they still have featuring Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity) and they’re flocking to upstarts One America News and NewsMax TV, which have featured a more pro-Trump viewpoint. (It’s not that much of an achievement, considering the 90-plus percent negative coverage Trump receives from the legacy media.)

The problem for Fox News, of course, is a little like the issue faced by the anti-Trump Republicans in the Lincoln Project. Now that they are useless to the Democrats because the election is over, they’re going to find they have no friends on either side. The Republicans now see them as disloyal and the Democrats will simply call them useful idiots who outlived their usefulness. I don’t expect any mass exodus from CNN or MSNBC to a more “woke” Fox News. Why go for the imitation when you have the real thing?

The $64,000 question then is whether these splits become permanent or not. There are many skeptics who laugh at those leaving Facebook and Twitter, saying either that they will be back after their tantrum is up or that they won’t be missed anyway because they’re uninformed hicks. (I see that out of a lot of #NeverTrumps that I know.) And while there are many thousands who vow to dump Fox News, we haven’t seen the ratings for OANN or NewsMax TV to know if this is a new habit.

One thing that worries me about this trend is the potential for slipping into an information silo, although it certainly could be argued that those who rely solely on the traditional media outlets (as the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter do) are already trapped in one that reflects a left-wing, pro-Democrat viewpoint. Too many people are letting those outlets do their thinking for them, and it’s to the detriment of our republic that they cede that right.

As for me, I’ll try and do a little more on Parler and perhaps join MeWe, but for the immediate future I’ll also stay on Facebook until my friends and family abandon it. I also have a couple pages I curate there so there’s that factor, too. Guess I will be living in two worlds for the time being.

Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

The “odds and ends” concept is almost as old as monoblogue itself – my first one, actually called “Odds and year ends,” came back on December 26, 2005. monoblogue was all of 25 days old then, a babe in the woods of the World Wide Web. (It was post #20 on this website; this one will be #5,137.) In re-reading that one after all these years, I found it was a very Maryland-centric post. And what makes it perfectly fitting is that my plan was to make this a Delaware-centric post since I had used most of my other stuff pre-election and held the items for the First State back.

So as has always been the rule, we have things I handle in a couple sentences to a few paragraphs – a series of mini-posts, if you will.

A taxpayer money waste

Did you know the state of Delaware is suing energy companies claiming “Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have
known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

(…)

“Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible.”

If you really want to bother reading all 218 pages of the lawsuit be my guest, but the upshot is best described by the Caesar Rodney Institute’s David T. Stevenson, who wrote, “The suit is likely to meet the same fate as a similar lawsuit in New York that simply wasted taxpayer money.” CRI’s Stevenson instead compares the supposed future effects of so-called manmade climate change to the tangible effects of fossil fuels on societal development.

It’s true Delaware is a low-lying state, but it’s also true that sea levels have been rising for several decades, long before the first SUV was sold or widget factory was built. But to demand both compensatory and punitive damages from a host of energy companies – which would cut into their R & D budget and increase consumer costs – is in and of itself a waste of valuable energy and time. If it ever comes to the jury trial they demand, I pray that we get 12 sober-minded people who laugh this suit right out of court.

Robbing the livelihood

It’s been a bone of contention for many: what was originally billed as a state of emergency to “flatten the curve” has now almost become a way of life as our ongoing state of emergency in Delaware was quietly extended yet again on the Friday before Halloween (and the election.)

I did a little bit of traveling around the bottom part of the state this weekend and noticed some of the missing businesses. After a summer tourist season ruined by our reaction to the CCP virus, it may indeed be the winter of our discontent and there’s no better place to spend it than Delaware, right Governor Carney?

Since the Delaware General Assembly will be returning with an even stronger Democrat majority in the Senate, it’s to be expected that employer mandates will be among the items discussed. But as A Better Delaware observes, that can be very counterproductive to businesses already struggling to survive:

The cost of the health care provided to the employee does not result in more productivity or value of that employee at their firm. By adding this cost, it is more likely that incomes will be lowered in order for the total value of the employee to remain the same, even with additional costly mandates. Sometimes, the cost of these mandates results in layoffs so that the company can afford to provide them to the remaining employees.

“Employer mandates: mandating job and income loss,” A Better Delaware, October 2, 2020.

Instead, what they suggest is a private-sector solution: “either establish insurance plans that would cover short-term disability or paid family leave plans or allowing lower-income hourly workers to choose if they would want to convert overtime pay to paid leave.” The flexibility allowed by this would be beneficial, particularly as some may wish to enhance their allotted vacation time in this manner. I made an agreement like that last year with my employer to trade overtime for vacation hours I used later on to extend my year-end holiday by a couple days.

Time for public input

As I noted above, the state’s state of emergency was extended yet again by Governor Carney. But the folks at CRI believe this shouldn’t just be his call.

Instead, they believe what’s necessary is a three-day emergency session of the General Assembly, focused on the following:

  • Debate and negotiate a time limit for Executive Emergency Power, such as two or three months after which Legislative approval is needed for any extension.
  • Debate and negotiate specific metrics for re-opening the economy and return to in-person school classes based upon hospitalizations, not cases.

A state of emergency is not meant to be a perpetual grant of power, although politicians of all stripes have been known to abuse the declaration for things that aren’t immediate impediments to public safety, such as the opioid crisis. It’s important, but not to the level of a state of emergency. We flattened the curve and have learned a lot about the CCP virus, and in a cynical way it did its job because otherwise Donald Trump cruises to re-election and China continues to have a worthy adversary instead of a pocketed leader.

(ahem) It’s time for economy to get back to work so we can deal with all the abuse it might be about to take from the incoming Harris/Biden regime.

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

This was another item considered by the CRI folks over the last few weeks, and their data bears out my armchair observations as someone who’s lived close by the border for 16 years. Since we don’t collect sales tax, strictly speaking this puts Delaware’s border-area retailers at an advantage. (Technically, residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, et. al. are supposed to remit the sales tax they would have paid in-state after buying in Delaware but I’ve yet to meet one who does.)

But if you assume that Delaware takes in $2.89 billion from the retail industry, a 3% sales tax would give the state $86.7 million. However, when you compare that to the possible retail jobs and revenue lost by eliminating the state’s “tax-free” status, the net would be much smaller and could become a negative – a negative that increases the closer the state comes to matching its neighbors’ sales tax rates, which range from 6% in Maryland to 6.6% in New Jersey. (By comparison, these rates are among the lowest in the nation, so perhaps Delaware is a tempering factor for those states, too.)

Retail is a tough enough business, though. Why make it harder for those in the First State?

And last…it’s that time of year

Every year it seems I have a post about items made in the USA. Our fine friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing continue to chug along with their list, and they’ve been looking for suggestions over the last month or so. The list usually comes out just in time for Black Friday, although this year may be different. (There’s still time to squeeze in a last-minute idea, I’ll bet.)

Admittedly, sometimes it’s a bit of a reach as last year‘s Delaware item was RAPA scrapple, but previous years they’ve featured Delaware self-employed crafters for baby-related items and unglazed clay bakeware, giving those small businesses a hand. I’d be very curious to see what they come up with this year.

And I’ll be very curious to see what I come up with for items for the next odds and ends, which begins the second hundred if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

The several mornings after

I began this post late Wednesday night but I didn’t figure on getting it out until Friday. Then it’s time for a few days of well-deserved R & R.

So, about that crystal ball of mine. There are a lot of moving parts remaining in this Presidential election. I definitely whiffed on Minnesota – I guess people don’t mind rioting as much as I thought. And President Trump may well lose Wisconsin and Michigan as I predicted, but then he has to keep Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to prevail. All three are a little fishy.

Because of that, I’m reticent to discuss that race. As for the overall Senate, it may come down to Georgia either holding that 51-49 majority or possibly 51-50, as predicted. And based on the House races out and who leads, I may not be terribly far off my guess on that. It’s hard to count (and count on) little dots, but I think we may indeed have a 219-216 House if results hold. I suspect it will be a couple-three less than that because Democrats have a way of stealing finding enough votes to win races, especially in California.

My focus was pretty good on Delaware races, with one exception. In a nutshell, here’s what I guessed and the results:

  • Delaware President: Biden 56-41 (actual: Biden 59-40)
  • Delaware U.S. Senator: Coons 60-37 (actual: Coons 59-38)
  • Delaware U.S. House: LBR 55-43 (actual: LBR 58-40)
  • Delaware Governor: Carney 50-45 (actual: Carney 59-39)
  • Delaware LG: Hall-Long 60-40 (actual: Hall-Long 59-41)
  • Delaware Insurance Commissioner: Navarro 60-40 (actual: Navarro 59-41)
  • Composition of Delaware Senate: Democrat 14-7 (actual: Democrat 14-7)
  • Composition of Delaware House: Democrat 26-15 (actual: Democrat 26-15)

I literally missed the Senate race by about 1/2%, the LG race by .36% and the Insurance Commissioner race by .02%, or 42 votes statewide. The biggest error I made was overestimating the level of enmity for John Carney, meaning Delaware is a state full of sheep. (But we already knew that, given other results.) I also gave the third parties more of a wide berth than they received, but that goes back to their exclusion from debates and media coverage.

I also figured the two Republicans who were picked off in the State Senate would indeed be the ones to go. It cleaned out my entire roster of Delaware winners of the monoblogue Accountability Project’s RINO Huntee Award, although I would have definitely preferred they go by the wayside in a primary. But if you’re going to vote like a Democrat, why not just have the real thing?

So while I don’t like the Delaware results, they were pretty much in line with how I guessed they would be, moreso than the primary.

The last race – one that I could not get a sense of – was the race I talked about across the way in Wicomico County. The good news is that Nicole Acle, the Republican, leads by about 1,100 votes so far. The bad news is that there are several thousand mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and “conservative” Democrat Alexander Scott had about a 2-1 margin in the mail-in votes already received. Essentially there needs to be about 3,000 votes out for Scott to have a chance if the mail-in trend holds with those and the provisional votes. (By the way, it’s normal that Maryland’s count is extended, but what is not normal is the number of mail-in votes. In a usual year we may be talking 100 votes tops out in the district by now; for example, in the 2018 midterm there were just under 400 of these votes total for that district, and most are counted by the Friday after the election with a handful withheld to mix with late-arriving military votes for the following Thursday when they wrap up. I recall sweating bullets for a week-plus after the primary I won to retain my seat on the Central Committee – by 30 votes countywide.)

If there wasn’t already enough evidence that mail-in voting was conceived as a huge advantage to Democrats, consider that between early voting and Election Day returns in Maryland, the Trump/Pence ticket leads by about 28,000 votes. Yes, in Maryland. Unfortunately, the mail-in balloting has Harris/Biden in the lead by 676,199, meaning the overall percentage is 63-35 Democrat. That may balloon even some more as the ballots left to count are mail-in so I figure Trump may lose by 30 points this time rather than 20.

One reason is the slight shade of purple we’re now seeing on the Eastern Shore. No, Andy Harris is not in serious danger of losing with a 30-point lead but I figured on 70 percent given his Democrat opponent is a girl who used to be a guy and doesn’t actually live in the district. (Never mind the far-left political stances.)

But with some mail-in votes left to count there’s some chance that Andy may not have a 12-for-12 sweep in the counties as he usually enjoys. I know Kent County (Maryland) has had it in for Andy ever since he kicked their favored son Wayne Gilchrest to the curb and out of Congress in the 2008 GOP primary but they may turn blue in the Congressional race just as they did the presidential as Harris leads there by just 2 points. Same goes for Talbot County, another popular Annapolis exurb. Andy is hanging on to a slim 8 point lead there. Oddly enough, sandwiched between the two is Queen Anne’s County, which is the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge – Harris has a 67-33 lead there.

So I guess my handicapping wasn’t half-bad, but now I’m going to take a weekend away. I need a break!

After that I owe you an odds and ends piece, maybe some more election wrapup, and then the retrospective things I do about this time of year. Hard to believe I am wrapping up year number 15 of this enterprise.

A cloudy crystal ball

If the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be in line waiting to cast my vote when this comes up. I’m writing this on Monday night.

I guess we will begin with this, since it’s the most important.

I did an electoral map the other night which is the most likely electoral scenario in my eyes. It’s enough for Trump to win but not as much as he did in 2016 because he loses Wisconsin and Michigan in my scenario but gains Minnesota. If not for that and keeping Pennsylvania he would be out.

I also believe the Republicans hang on to the Senate but it may be a 51-49 majority or even 51-50. Can’t see them gaining quite enough to take back the House but there’s a decent chance I may be wrong. I can see enough of a gain, though, to make subsequent special elections meaningful because it may be something along the line of a 219-216 Democrat majority – which will make a Speaker election dicey.

In 2016, Donald Trump lost Delaware by 11 points, but he was the closest Republican when it came to winning a statewide race. I honestly think if he were running against anyone but Joe Biden, he would have an outside chance of winning the state but in this case I think Biden carries by about 15 points – let’s say 56-41, with the other 3% scattered among the Libertarian and Green candidates.

In this case, he won’t be the closest Republican. I think that distinction will go to Julianne Murray, who just may win if this becomes a referendum on John Carney’s handling of the CCP virus and the economy in general. This race may come down to how many votes can be manufactured in New Castle County, but I suspect it will be along the lines of a 50-45 finish, with IPoD’s Kathy DeMatteis getting 3-4% and the Libertarian candidate John Machurek picking up 1%.

Next closest will be Lee Murphy, who isn’t going to lose as badly as Scott Walker did. He will give LBR the closest race she’s had, although with just two under her belt it doesn’t say much. This matchup seems like a 55-43 type of match, with the IPoD candidate Catherine Purcell getting most of the other 2 percent over Libertarian David Rogers.

In both of the other two-person races – lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner – they’ll probably end up about 60-40 in favor of the incumbent Democrats, which is simply because people vote party line and neither Republican had built up her name recognition enough to make a dent. It’s a shame because both seem like they can do the job really well.

Last but not least is our U.S. Senate race. This could either be the biggest shocker in decades or, more likely, a 20-plus point whipping of Lauren Witzke by Chris Coons. There’s already a portion of the Republican base upset with her and I’m not sure Lauren’s push for the union vote is paying dividends. I look at this as a 60-37 race, with Libertarian Nadine Frost getting more of the other 3% than IPoD’s Mark Turley.

In the Delaware legislative races, the lack of opposition put up by Republicans in some races may cost them. There are a couple districts where I can see Democrats knocking off vulnerable state Senators (who often voted with the Democrats anyway) so that they will be up 14-7 going into the full turnover in 2022. In the House, with Democrats already spotted a 15-7 lead in unopposed candidates, it’s doubtful the GOP will improve on its 26-15 deficit. I think they will hold that number.

Looking quickly at Maryland, I think Andy Harris ends up north of 70% against Mia Mason in the First District House race. And to be honest, I have no sense of how that Wicomico County race I wrote about will go. There are more Republicans in the district but the question is how many will buy the horse hockey that the Democrat running is a “conservative Democrat.”

It’s also interesting to note that, based on their daily report, Republicans are already over 30% turnout in Maryland early voting, and in that regard they are crushing Democrats by 13 points. On the other hand, Democrats have returned 81% of their mail-in ballots to the Republicans’ 75%, but there is a wide disparity in their numbers – 49.8% of Democrats requested mail-in ballots while only 25.7% of Republicans opted to vote that way. So if there are long lines in Maryland tomorrow, that’s probably good news for the GOP because more of them have yet to vote – by my quick and dirty math about 57% of Democrats have voted in Maryland compared to 48% of Republicans.

So it’s doubtful that Donald Trump would carry Maryland, but he may come within 20 points and that would be a yuge improvement over losing 60-34 there four years ago.

Odds and ends number 99

This will be the pre-election edition of odds and ends. I have so much stuff in my e-mail that’s interesting and intriguing that I’ll end up doing two parts, with the less time-sensitive stuff coming later this week or maybe next, depending on my mood.

As always, these are items I can deal with in a span of words covering anywhere from a couple sentences to three or four paragraphs, give or take.

The media is not your friend

I get a lot of items that pick on the media, but none have said so more succinctly than The American Spectator‘s editor Melissa McKenzie. This wasn’t from a featured article, but an e-mail summary:

Whether Trump wins or loses, THEY’VE ALREADY LOST. Their industry is over. Their ideological hegemony is done. They are relics of a bygone era. The worst part is that they’ve done it to themselves. They’ve torched their credibility and manage to cover nothing of importance. 

(…)

The insanity you’re seeing from the mainstream media is terror. They hate Donald Trump, but without him, they’re over. They’ve boxed themselves into a corner.

So while marveling about the MSM’s nuttiness, keep in mind that it’s not really about Trump. It’s about them. They’re experiencing existential dread. They’re right to be afraid.

“Trump: The End is NOT Nigh,” Melissa McKenzie, October 5, 2020.

To take the point further, Erick Erickson compared two styles of new media, pointing out the difference between Left and Right:

The difference is that the conservative sites are frequently just running pre-written PR pieces. The Acronym sites actually have reporters and editors, running as partisan news operations. They are actively digging dirt and churning stories to damage the GOP. Their efforts are not to facilitate truth, but to advance a leftwing narrative.

(…)

As an aside, conservatives need to take note on this. In the past, conservatives tried to do something similar to what Acronym is doing. Unfortunately, the donor structure on the right largely exists to make a profit and see a financial return on investment. Progressive donors want to affect change and see their return on investment based on narrative shaping and advancement of an agenda.

“A Tale of Two Stories With Common Facts,” Erick Erickson, October 19, 2020.

Back in the day I used to be one of those conservatives who knocked themselves out doing news reporting and commentary. Over the years I have worked with a bunch of news aggregators; here’s a list gleaned from my blog categories: Examiner.com, Conservative Weekly, Red County, Watchdog Wire, and Liberty Features Syndicate. Except for the pittance I made off the Examiner, these weren’t paying gigs because of what Erickson noted – these entities had to make a profit and could not with paid contributors. (The Examiner got less and less lucrative over time, too.)

But there is a market out there that’s being filled with videos and podcasts, and someone somewhere is making money for nothing, as Dire Straits would sing. That’s where people are going for news, and it’s driving the gatekeepers crazy.

The realms of money and mail in politics

Did you know that over 40 percent of Democrat donors are unemployed? That’s what a September story in PJ Media claimed. It was even more pronounced in 2020, as the number edged up over 50 percent.

I think there’s something wrong with the system when it’s being gamed in that way. But that’s nothing to how vote-by-mail seems to be manipulated: here’s a list of recent vote-by-mail disasters compiled by the fine folks at the Capital Research Center.

Then again, if you asked Rebecca Mansour and James P. Pinkerton at Breitbart, this is all part of a seven-part scheme to promote vote-by-mail “chaos.” Add in accusations of ballot harvesting, and, if the Russians’ goal was to sow distrust in our electoral system then the Left is helping them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

All I know is that I’m going to go express my preferences on Tuesday, and hopefully the state and national voters agree. Let’s just say I won’t be supporting the ones who are the target of these allegations.

The coming unrest

As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, I keep tabs on the Indivisible movement. While they have reached the late TEA Party stage of constantly begging for money, they also have their little schemes and one they recently hatched is called “Protect the Results.” (Why do I suspect the only results they are interested in protecting are the ones where they are winning?)

They claim that they “created a coalition of more than 100 organizations that are committed to protecting our democracy if Trump and his desperate Republican allies throw our country into a manufactured constitutional crisis.” If it takes until January to find the needed votes for Joe Biden Kamala Harris, they are willing to wait.

At the time I initially heard from them, they were up to 240 events nationwide (now it’s 471) but the one I’m most interested in is slated for Ocean City on November 4. (There are none in Delaware or elsewhere on the Eastern Shore.) Of course, the location is not released but we know the sponsor: “Join Indivisible Worcester MD to wave signs to honor the valid results of the 2020 election, ensure that every vote is counted, and show up to demand the peaceful transition of power. We’ll have some signs but not enough for everyone, so bring signs if you can.”

There are only so many outdoor locations in the Ocean City area where a crowd of a couple dozen would be noticed at this time of year, so be looking and if you see them ask them if they’ll accept a Trump victory.

One problem I have with Trump

There are a lot of things I’ve liked about Donald Trump, as I detailed yesterday. But one bone I have to pick with him is his energy policy – while he isn’t going to ban fracking like Joe Biden, he’s leaving a lot of chips on the table and one of those was his recent extension of an energy exploration ban in the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic until 2032. We just finally got to energy independence, so why leave these potential assets to wither?

As API’s Mark Green opines:

Most concerning is the abrupt about-face for U.S. energy policy embodied in the president’s executive order. Suddenly shelving the vast oil and natural gas potential of the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic, which would be critically important to the nation’s strategic energy needs, is a 180-degree shift from the U.S. “energy dominance” theme heard so often from the administration the past few years.

Mark Green, “The Administration’s Misstep On Eastern Gulf, South Atlantic Offshore Policy,” Energy Tomorrow, September 14, 2020.

We don’t know how much oil is down there, but without seismic testing and exploratory drilling, we won’t know if they are going to find dry holes or millions of barrels we can use. We should make the attempt to find out – not just in those areas but farther north where it can perhaps create jobs unlike the wind turbines no one but the moneyed interests want.

Misdirection

Charles “Sam” Faddis is a veteran intelligence operations officer, so I think he has a pretty informed opinion when he writes:

The Iranians have already begun sending spoof emails to potential voters seeking to sow dissension. The Russians may soon follow suit. Americans need to be on guard.

(…)

The same FBI that wants us to believe that Iranian spam is a serious threat to our democracy is the same FBI that has been sitting on Hunter Biden’s laptop for ten months. That laptop is filled with evidence of what appears to be a worldwide operation by the Biden family to cash in on Joe Biden’s position as Vice-President and then as former Vice-President. It is also filled with evidence to suggest very strongly that Joe Biden – the Democratic Party candidate for President – looks like he may be bought and paid for by Beijing.

Charles Faddis, “Are The Chinese One Step Away From Putting Their Man In The White House While The FBI Worries About Iranian Spam Mail?” AND Magazine, October 22, 2020.

It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Hunter Biden child porn angle has drawn the most attention in this scandal. Hunter Biden isn’t on the ballot, but Joe Biden is and anything that ties him into this sordid tale is more important to know than the drug habit and other details of his son’s tawdry life.

Sunday evening reading (on Monday)

Erick Erickson is back on here, and this time he says he’s gonna make you mad. But I didn’t get mad because I just remember God is in control.

You’ve got two old geezers who act like they’re fighting over the last chicken wing at an all you can eat buffet early bird special who the American public has concluded are the best we can do in a nation of over 350 million people and that is a damning indictment on the whole nation. Part of me thinks your excitement and enthusiasm for your particular candidate is just to cover the shame of these two candidates being the best we could do.

(…)

PS — while you were out on your boat parade or car parade or in your socially distanced circle of jerks bragging that your side was all masked up unlike the other side, you weren’t phone banking, you weren’t knocking on doors, and you weren’t getting out the vote in the closest presidential election in our lifetime. Now you can get off my lawn.

Erick Erickson, “Gonna Make You Mad This Morning,” October 30, 2020.

What’s really funny is that I just read a Facebook post from a self-styled Maryland political expert (and #NeverTrump) who complained the exact same thing about the 4,000 to 5,000 cars that participated in a mobile Trump rally along the Beltway.

Of course, that implied these people were going to help out in the campaign. There are a lot of people who do political volunteering, but 95% of those drivers in that parade weren’t political volunteers and never will be. It’s like a mobile yard sign – if not, why would it be a big deal when President Trump draws 60,000 to a rally and Joe Biden has half a hundred? The CCP virus is just an excuse – Trump backers are passionate, and they will show up at the polls. Just make sure you bring a friend or two.

What’s at stake in Delaware?

If you are a recipient of e-mail from A Better Delaware, you’re already aware of this, but they came up with an outline of their priorities.

There are ideas to return the estate tax, and increase the top rate for income taxes – which are already rather high to begin with. They will also create issues for small business, many of which have owners who file as individuals and not businesses.

They point out that proposed regulations and mandates on businesses will result in job cuts. These mandates include paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage.

The government transparency that was already an issue before the CCP virus has been enhanced by the suspension of FOIA compliance and lack of input into the budget process, including how to spend our (surprising) budget surplus. It was never explained how some businesses were deemed essential while others withered on the vine.

Corruption in the state – it’s not just shady land deals, but a legislature that routinely ignores its own rules.

Certificate-of-need laws the federal government scrapped end up restricting our access to health care.

I’m going to talk a lot more about Delaware in the post-election edition, but this is enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll make a few wild guesses and we will see if 2020’s election is just as bad as the rest of the year.

Never say never…

Life is really funny sometimes. Back in 2016 when I took the exit ramp I was a convicted man, but somehow that road has led me in a strange direction. No, I’m not quite back on that highway but I think I can see it from here.

It didn’t take me all that long to begin shedding the “never” part of a certain term. Taking a hacksaw to regulations was very endearing, and getting a much-needed tax cut was certainly a push in the right direction. But it all began with that deep breath of optimism that came about in the latter days of 2016; the feeling that something better was indeed going to finally come along after years of waiting. And as if a sign from above, I was restored to what I once was: after eight long, disheartening years of being forced out of a good job due to misfortunes and dire economic circumstances, Providence allowed me to get a foot in the door, and a few months later make my full-time return. I wasn’t quite the classic prodigal son, but I almost broke down and wept on the day of my return to full-time work there. Certainly I had been humbled by the previous eight years.

In my lines of work and various side hustles, I depend greatly on a good economy. Over the last four years we have taken the low gear of the last administration – what was then proclaimed as a “new normal” – and turbocharged it so that the new new normal lent itself better to prosperity. And even when we were suddenly thrown into reverse by the CCP virus, allowing the states to govern their response has gotten many of us back on track – particularly those fortunate enough to live in states with traditionally Republican governors. (Our friends in Maryland don’t have one of those. He can vote for whom he wants, but I’m not applauding the stance anymore because it seems now to me more out of spite than anything else. At least in 2016 I voted for a legit write-in.)

But perhaps the biggest factor in steering my response was the absolutely unfair media shake we have seen for our current president. I think back to 2012 and Mitt Romney, and ponder whether we would be electing his replacement if the media had been as curious about scandal back then as they have over the last four years. Imagine if something like Benghazi had happened under the current administration: blaming it on a video would not fly with a persistently questioning and curious media. Having the sandbags placed by constant and phony investigation arguably cost the Republicans the House in 2018; fortunately, they didn’t lose the Senate, which brings up another point.

In the last four years, we have now seen 1/3 of the Supreme Court turn over as well as hundreds of new circuit and district judges installed. While the imprint of these new appointees is still somewhat faint, over time we will begin to see their effect on the judiciary system if the trend is allowed to continue. Jurists who understand the plain meaning of the Constitution as well as the vision of those who wrote it are a significant line of defense against damaging revisions to our government and rescinding of our God-given rights. Perhaps they can also be the impetus to bringing about correction in a positive direction for a change.

To be sure, I don’t agree with the current occupant of the Oval Office on everything, and for that reason I also pondered a couple alternatives. It turns out Tom Hoefling, who I considered last time, is a write-in for Delaware*, but the reason I didn’t vote for him in 2016 was his slight but significant misunderstanding of the role of government. (Sadly, even though I don’t really care for the Constitution Party’s nominee Don Blankenship, feeling that he is a grifter of sorts, his campaign didn’t even bother to become a write-in candidate in Delaware. That’s a post for after the election.)

On the other hand, I was very compelled with Jo Jorgensen’s run as the Libertarian candidate. But when you think about it, there are a number of areas Jorgensen is advocating where the current administration is already moving in that direction, particularly in foreign policy. And when you further think about it, the current system wouldn’t lend itself to policy success for a Jorgensen administration because neither Republicans nor Democrats would have much incentive to assist her. It could be the long-term solution to this is to remove party affiliation from the ballot, but that will not occur without a vast public mandate.

Finally, it occurred to me the other day that 2020 is the first time I have ever blogged about a Republican president seeking re-election. I hadn’t began blogging yet when George W. Bush began his re-election run in 2004; in fact, I hadn’t even moved here. When I arrived in October of that year it was too late to register in Maryland so I voted absentee in Ohio. Obviously the next campaign in 2008 gave us Barack Obama and we kept him for 2012, so the return of the Republicans meant 2020 would be their first crack at re-election in 16 years.

Back in 2016 I gave three options for the election results:

I guess the way I look at it there are three possibilities here: either Trump is going to lose to Hillary, he will beat Hillary and govern exactly as I predict he will, or he will be a great President and I will have assessed him incorrectly. Truly I wouldn’t mind being wrong for the sake of this great nation, but I have no evidence to believe I will be.

“Taking the exit ramp,” August 1, 2016

With the evidence of the last four years, I’m going to do something I rarely have to do: admit I was wrong. It’s precisely why you should never say never, because I painted myself into a #NeverTrump corner and have to get my feet dirty to get out. But I really don’t mind.

Given the record and the horrible alternatives, the time has come to return to my political home for an election. America, we need to re-elect Donald Trump.

*There are over twenty write-in candidates for President recognized by Delaware, but just three have vice-presidential picks listed. So those were the three I looked up, including Hoefling.

Will Wicomico flip?

It’s time to reach back across the Transpeninsular Line and look at a situation where I used to live, in Wicomico County, Maryland.

In my ten years on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, there were two accomplishments I was quite proud of: helping to secure an elected school board and expanding the Republican majority to 6-1 on County Council in 2010, then maintaining it in 2014 while electing a Republican county executive.

Unfortunately, while we kept the Republican county executive in 2018, the GOP dominance on County Council was eroded by a number of factors: first of all, there was the retirement of a Republican stalwart who represented a heavily Democrat district and the failure to recruit a good replacement for him – the candidate who ran was a last-minute Central Committee selection as no Republican filed for the office. Secondly, there was weak candidate recruitment for the county at-large seats, meaning we essentially gave away a spot to a retread Democrat who would have been defeated by a better Republican (or one willing to give up a district seat to run countywide.) Once the smoke cleared the GOP majority was a bare 4-3.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2019, when the Central Committee was tasked with sending names to County Council to replace Republican District 2 member Marc Kilmer, who resigned for family reasons and relocated to his native Idaho. Eventually the Council selected fellow Republican Nicole Acle, who had never run for office before but would now need to defend the seat in 2020 thanks to charter changes which allowed for special elections to fill seats vacated in the first 18 months or so of an elected official’s term. (Similarly, there will be a district school board race for the replacement of a deceased member but only one person is running.)

On the Democrat side, the lone contestant was a familiar name: Alexander Scott, who ran for the same seat in 2018 against Kilmer and lost by a 63%-37% margin. But in 2018 that was a race among many others and this time it’s a special election with considerable focus – and the potential to give the Democrats control of County Council for the first time since 2006 (as well as the first time in the County Executive era, which began with that election.) The state Democrat party (or at least their state committee member Allison Galbraith) as well as local regressive groups have taken note of the opportunity, soliciting support from other quarters of the state for a district of about 20,000 people.

Obviously the propaganda aspect of this race is huge – a flip in the Eastern Shore’s largest county would be noticeable and may be seen as the end of GOP dominance in that part of the state. More importantly for Wicomico residents – and workers like myself – it would put the same party which advocates for the Green New Deal, ending the Trump tax cuts, and gun control in charge of the local legislative agenda.

So who is Alexander Scott, and – more importantly – who is backing him?

On his website, Scott bills himself as “moderate” and “a conservative Democrat.” He’s even found a handful of Republicans to back him (more on that in a bit.) However, Scott is also the owner of a bar called The Brick Room, which has previously hosted drag queen events and proclaimed it’s “proud of” Black Lives Matter, in part because of a “racist Confederate sign” they helped to remove. (The sign, which actually faced the opposite direction from the bar, was a historical marker placed by the state in the 1980s.) I’m not sure that’s the agenda of a “conservative Democrat” but it is the agenda of a Democrat. Granted, I don’t necessarily expect wholesome entertainment from a bar, but that seems a little more like Times Square than a small town.

Yet there were some interesting backers for Scott’s candidacy. In looking at state campaign finance records, I found that his campaign was using ALCEs (Affadavit of Limited Contributions and Expenses) until the end of August. An ALCE is a statement declaring the campaign will neither raise nor spend a total of $1,000 during the period in question. Many ongoing campaigns file these in off years; my treasurer and I filed these on a regular, annual basis when I had a campaign account as a Central Committee member because I never came close to raising or spending that much.

After the August filing, however, the Scott campaign received a number of large donations from real estate and construction interests, particularly ones known for work in downtown Salisbury. It’s the area where The Brick Room is located, but not in the district he would represent. This also means Scott has a relatively significant war chest for a County Council campaign, with a few four-figure donations arriving in the early weeks of the most recently closed filing period. Considering Scott raised less than $1,ooo in total for his 2018 run, there are people who smell blood.

Initial seed money came from the Gillis Gilkerson group – between Chris and Joey Gilkerson and Brad Gillis these donations totaled $1,600, and that was enough to get him started. Members of Green Street Housing, a firm that is “getting affordable housing done” have chipped in an additional $2,000.

On the other hand, Acle has subsisted on mainly smaller donations, with the largest of $250 coming from State Senator Mary Beth Carozza. Her district barely intersects with Acle’s so it’s more a gesture of support for a fellow Republican.

The birth of Republicans for Scott, however, stems from the controversy that arose in the search to replace the late County Executive Bob Culver, who died in office in July. Of the three candidates interviewed by County Council to be Culver’s replacement, the odds-on favorite was Delegate Carl Anderton, Jr. However, a four-member segment of County Council led by Acle decided on the more unheralded Dr. Rene Desmarais as their choice. When public furor prevailed on Desmarais to withdraw his name from consideration, a second round of interviews featuring Anderton and another hopeful led County Council to decide to keep the Acting County Executive John Psota in place until the 2022 election.

The story Scott’s allies have been spreading was that Anderton was refused his due because he was too willing to work with Annapolis Democrats to advance his district – a conservative purity test, if you will. However, from what I recall about Desmarais and his 2014 Delegate campaign, he wasn’t the most conservative aspirant out there. Others have been critical of Anderton’s being less than forthright initially with the situation surrounding his high school graduation, a story which he recounted after the initial vote. (The subject never came up during his time as Delmar mayor or in his runs for Delegate, though.)

Regardless, this is one of those times where the county government hangs in the balance. With the temporary appointment of Psota as acting County Executive, most of the county’s direction (including redistricting) would be led by a Democrat majority that has both the element of “getting even” for the last six years of Republican rule and a heavy influence from the city of Salisbury: all three Democrats and Scott (via The Brick Room) donated to Salisbury Mayor Jake Day’s 2019 re-election campaign. It should be noted that several “Republicans for Scott” also donated to Day.

As I see it, the priorities will shift radically under a Democrat council. For one thing, the city has been demanding a tax differential from the county for several years, with the county reticent to do so as county residents outside municipalities would have to take up the slack. This may also extend to the desire by groups like the Greater Salisbury Committee to revisit the revenue cap that has been in place since 2000, a cap put in place when County Council raised taxes significantly a few years before.

Other items on a Democrat wish list may include significant zoning restrictions on agricultural land and development outside the urban core, making it more difficult for farmers but allowing the well-connected real estate developers downtown to cash in further.

I may have moved from Wicomico County, but I still work there and would like it to continue to succeed. Regardless of how conservative any Democrat claims to be, the fact that they are Democrats belies any claim of conservatism. Simply put, their agenda isn’t good for Wicomico County.

Even in a wave year for Democrats both locally and nationally in 2018, District 2 voters opted to maintain their conservative representative. The time to address any issues with Acle will be the 2022 primary. Don’t punish the rest of the county because you disagreed with her choice for County Executive.

For Delaware 2020

The other day I saw a photo of the scariest Halloween decoration out there: a white wooden cutout of “2020.” And in this year of the pandemic, we have had quite the state election campaign, haven’t we? Six Republicans running for governor, a spirited primary race for both sides in the Senate, and the inclusion of principled independent bids up and down the ballot have made this a rather unique balloting, particularly compared to previous Delaware elections I covered on a peripheral basis. It’s probably the most controversial run in a decade, since the O’Donnell vs. Castle U.S. Senate primary on the Republican side – a contest from which the rending of the state GOP still shows.

In this race, I have been a free agent of sorts: when I moved to Delaware I decided to call the Constitution Party my home because I’m more in tune with their political philosophy and, frankly, don’t have a lot of use for the Delaware Republican Party based on how they run their affairs and the candidates they support. Alas, the CP doesn’t have the numbers to have a ballot position nor do they have viable candidates running in the state. Thus, I had no primary vote, and the Republican voters of Delaware selected two of the three I would have preferred. (Feel free to cue up Meat Loaf if you desire.)

Besides my local races, which are walkovers because no one but the Republican bothered to file, I have five statewide races to consider: U.S. Senator, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I think I will handle them in the reverse order.

To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the Insurance Commissioner duties or candidates, except for the fact I thought it unusual that a county sheriff would pivot into the position, as happened in 2016. Trinidad Navarro indeed made that transition, obviously helped by the familiarity to New Castle County voters and the D column he was placed in. (Before becoming a police officer, he was an insurance agent for a time – but considering the length of time he was a LEO, this insurance experience must have been rather brief.) Navarro’s biggest claim to fame since taking office was spearheading the drive to enshrine Obamacare into state law, which means we are stuck with these unaffordable provisions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Pillsbury comes from a different perspective – that of a pediatrician. As a business owner, she’s the one who has to deal with the insurance companies and wrestle with them as an advocate for those in her care. Just from looking from the outside, I believe that rather than having the fox watch the henhouse with a former insurance agent, perhaps it’s time to try a new approach and see if it works. I’m urging a vote for Dr. Julia Pillsbury.

Why do I get the feeling that incumbent Bethany Hall-Long is simply biding her time and waiting her turn as Lieutenant Governor? While the list of lieutenant governors who eventually grabbed the brass ring is still relatively short in Delaware, it includes two of the most recent previous three occupants of the office including the current governor. Anymore that seems like the Delaware Way and that’s not the way we should go, particularly as she’s apparently been a willing accomplice to Governor John Carney’s tyrannical ways.

I think Donyale Hall will be an active player who is also bringing in the perspective of an outsider – unlike her opponent, who spent 15 years in the Delaware General Assembly as her way of working up the political ladder. What do we have to show for the last twenty years she’s been in office? Donyale is placing her emphasis on education, economic advancement, and a streamlined budget – issues that appeal to hardworking Delaware families and not those who simply want their back scratched in return for bestowing the trappings of power. The better choice for Lieutenant Governor is Donyale Hall.

When the current governor John Carney ran for his latest office, he used a carefully cultivated reputation as a business-friendly moderate Democrat to finally win the office he thought he would grab back in 2008, when he lost a bitterly-contested primary to Jack Markell and could not succeed in doing what his “boss” Ruth Ann Minner did – advance directly to the Governor’s chair from being Lieutenant Governor. Instead, he cooled his heels in Congress after Mike Castle bolted for an ill-fated Senate run two years later.

Yet that belief Carney was business-friendly has evaporated in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed as of Friday 680 lives in Delaware – a number that would rank as the 56th largest city in Delaware if it were a town. I certainly don’t want to trivialize these victims, who were beloved by their families and friends, but the pandemic threw many thousands more out of work and continues to do so even as other similarly-situated rural states have reopened and returned to a relative state of normalcy.

That heavy-handed pandemic response was the factor that goaded six Republicans into joining the race to replace Carney. While two of these six had political experience as state Senators – including the candidate Carney defeated handily to win the governor’s chair in 2016 – Republican voters opted for an outsider, attorney Julianne Murray.

Julianne’s platform has been heavy on restoring small business to Delaware, and given these times it’s the right platform to have. Once again, it would be an outsider approach to state governance that may be the kick-start the state needs to succeed and not fall further behind its peers in everything except drawing retirees who take advantage of the three biggest assets Delaware has: inexpensive housing, low property taxes, and no sales tax. For them, the higher income taxes aren’t as much of a burden but for people who want to be productive private-sector employers it’s a lot more difficult.

It’s worth pointing out that there are four people in the race for governor, as it includes Libertarian John Machurek and Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD) hopeful Kathy DeMatteis.

Sadly, Machurek hasn’t run much of a campaign. I’ll grant that the Libertarian candidates don’t get a whole lot of love from the media except for the odd mention here and there and they don’t get invited to the debate stage. But sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit. Unfortunately this has been true of all their candidates, who you don’t hear a whole lot about despite their good ideas – I’ve voted Libertarian regularly over my lifetime because they present a better alternative to RINO Republicans (or occasionally they are friends of mine.)

On the other hand, DeMatteis seems to be working hard at the race despite a low likelihood of success. She has some interesting and unique proposals, as do others in her IPoD camp. I think the question I have regarding Kathy’s plans – which apparently are spelled out in a book she wrote a few years ago – is why she couldn’t wait to run until she put them into place and succeeded with them? Why is it so important that she get into government to implement her ideas? Donald Trump succeeded in life then ran for President, and we see how that order of achievement worked out well for us.

For these reasons and many more, the best vote for Governor is one for Julianne Murray.

I have not been particularly inspired by the House race this year. It begins with an incumbent whose key reason for being elected in the first place was her gender, race, and the perceived slight of having neither heretofore represent Delaware. Since her election, Lisa Blunt Rochester (or LBR for short) has worked her way leftward on the political spectrum – most recently co-sponsoring a proposal that would serve to eventually eliminate gas-powered cars.

Yet LBR has drawn a motley crew of opponents which included a Republican who was defeated in the 2018 primary by a candidate whose claim to fame was illegally-placed plywood signage, a Libertarian who only recently put up a single-page website as his campaign face, and the IPoD candidate who admits to being an anon in Qanon. Still, I have to vote for someone and it won’t be LBR.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t enamored with Libertarian hopeful David Rogers but I have to hand it to IPoD’s Catherine Stonestreet Purcell for both having the longest name on the ballot and being the most interesting to follow because you really can’t pin her down on left or right. I sometimes wonder if she has a future career as an investigative journalist because she has the perfect undercover job as an Uber driver – she admits to going to places where she feels more likely to pick up well-connected people and just talking to them. Being the (admitted) Qanon participant, she has a deep interest in child trafficking and perhaps the most diverse Facebook friends list in Delaware.

All that is great for human interest, but in the meantime I have to vote for someone. I have to admit I have warmed up a bit to Lee Murphy’s campaign as he has presented a good case for replacing the incumbent to the voters. They should reward Lee Murphy by sending him to Congress.

Last – but certainly not least – is the race for U.S. Senate, preferably to replace the partisan hack Chris Coons, whose campaign has basically been “orange man bad.” With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and subsequent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court we’ve seen this tendency up close and personal.

Again, we have three opponents – although in this case, they are generally of a higher caliber than the House field. The only exception I would take to that is IPoD’s Mark Turley, who really hasn’t been out there and when he is Turley is trying to portray himself as a down-the-middle moderate – one who just happens to make his living in an industry the Senate can really help with ill-advised legislation (renewable energy.)

To be perfectly honest, I was torn in this race. Philosophically I line up best with the Libertarian hopeful Nadine Frost, who is a pro-life Libertarian. (In other words, she gets it.) Yet realistically the one with the best chance for defeating Coons is Republican Lauren Witzke, who has run an uneven campaign filled with landmines of her own making, particularly regarding the passing of the aforementioned RBG. She would be an almost automatic choice except for two places I vehemently disagree with her: one being the idea of incentivizing marriage and family through government policy (as opposed to that of merely not penalizing it) and the other being her stance against right-to-work as some sort of appeal to Big Labor voters – never mind that jobs tend to accrue to right-to-work states when all other conditions are substantially equal. Those are two big strikes against her, and her reaction to RBG’s death was very nearly strike three – somehow she managed to foul it off and stay alive.

Lauren has also managed to do what may be necessary to win and that’s nationalize her race. But then again, so did Christine O’Donnell and – fairly or unfairly – that’s the candidate and race people like to compare this to. This is one of those cases where the head was going one way and the heart the other – until I found the website.

But once I found out Nadine Frost had finally created a website that expanded on the limited information she had come up with earlier, it made my choice easy. If Lauren Witzke can win despite her missteps and big-government populist approach, then more power to her – she will still be a vast improvement over the incumbent.

Voting, however, should come down to who, in your judgement, will do the best job. Because she would be a Senator who thinks almost exactly like I do (right down to some of the phrasing, which makes me wonder if she reads my website), I have to vote for Nadine Frost for Senate. You can blame me if Lauren Witzke loses a close race, but thanks to a few self-inflicted political wounds I honestly don’t think it will come down to that.

So to recap, don’t just vote the straight GOP ticket:

  • U.S. Senator: Nadine Frost (Libertarian)
  • U.S. House: Lee Murphy (Republican)
  • Governor: Julianne Murray (Republican)
  • Lt. Governor: Donyale Hall (Republican)
  • Insurance Commissioner: Dr. Julia Pillsbury (Republican)

I haven’t decided if I’ll do a Presidential endorsement or not. Maybe I’ll make it formal this week, but I have one other race I want to discuss that’s not a Delaware race.