10 from 10: Welcome to monoblogue!

December 1, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comment 

The final installment of “10 from 10″ is, as you might guess, my very first post ten years ago today, December 1, 2005. I have more to say after the (very brief) post.


I was actually trying to think of some serious weighty subject to do the “first” blog post on, but then a package arrived in the mail today. I’ve only waited 38 years for this shirt!

And there is a parallel in the shirt’s arrival to the purpose of monoblogue. On my old site I somewhat confined myself to the political realm. But now it’s more about my passions on a lot of subjects. (If you go to the “About” tab you’ll see something about my thoughts while creating monoblogue.) If you want to see my archives from the old website, I did place links to almost every one of my 100+ posts in the “ttrwc” section of the site. You’ll see that a lot of them are politically related. Politics is something I follow closely and will frequently comment on.

The post that may tell you a little bit about the 38 year wait for my shirt is the one called Joy in Mudhenville, part 2.

But tonight I’m just getting my feet wet here and making sure it all looks good. Tomorrow I’m going to catch up on my reading and start getting out the red meat. Actually, I’m watching the MAC championship and it’s tough to work back and forth while keeping focus. How’s that for honesty?


So here I go into decade number two. Doing the “10 from 10″ series reminded me of a lot of experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met over the years, many of which and whom wouldn’t have been possible without this website.

Yet it’s strange to see all I’ve learned as well as how far the technology has come. I didn’t know how to attach the photo in the original post to the WordPress site, for example, because it was all new to me. Now I do 25-picture posts without flinching. Meanwhile, this latest post is among the first to be compiled on a new laptop, which is the third I’ve gone through in doing this site. That was a liberating experience in and of itself since I used a desktop computer for the first 2 1/2 years – on the other hand, the vast majority of my posts of late were banged out on an iPad. It worked in a pinch for about 4 to 5 months, but wasn’t really a viable long-term solution.

Another thing I’ve come to learn over the years is to not make a lot of forecasts about how things will progress with this site. As one example, a year ago I had no real interest in picking up a second writer but then the opportunity presented itself and I decided Cathy Keim would be a worthy addition. That may be the best move I ever made insofar as this site goes because not only does she bring a little different audience but also a unique but comparable viewpoint. In time I think she will help me grow the site back to where it was in previous years.

Admittedly, the last year has been tough on me. For a short time I had thoughts about making the 10-year anniversary the swan song for the site. I had lost the passion for writing it, and when that goes the writing gets stale and boring. And yes, there’s been a sharp decline in readership – more than I would normally chalk up to being in an off-year election. Hopefully now that the passion is coming back, the actual equipment is improved (it’s not easy writing this blog on an iPad; however, it is good practice for particular situations), and the election cycle is coming back around to an important election year, I can rekindle both the fire of desire and the ambition of people to check this place out more often.

In short, I still think I can utilize these writing talents that God gave me for the common good of enhancing peoples’ awareness of the benefits and advantages that freedom and liberty, firmly based on a moral, Judeo-Christian foundation, can bring. It’s not a fight I’ll win in ten years or perhaps even whatever time I have left in this world, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try and do so anyway.

So I have no idea what the next decade will bring. But as long as it’s interesting to me I will do my best to keep this enterprise going for years to come.

Odds and ends number 75

It’s been almost three years since this was a regular feature on my site, but it appears I may have to bring this back to deal with all the stuff that I receive and deem to be somewhat newsworthy - just not enough to devote an entire post to. Ideally I can use it to clean out an e-mail box that gets too full of stuff that otherwise sits for awhile. As always, we’ll see how it goes but it’s been long enough that I had to go look up where I was in the series.

If you recall when I discussed the state convention last week, Maryland National Committeeman Louis Pope was pleased with the national GOP’s fiscal situation and it was also announced that the state party was finally out of debt. So it’s interesting to find out our national Democratic counterparts are doing what they do best: spending money they don’t have. Even with Martin O’Malley still in the race, they can’t just raise taxes to cover the difference.

It’s doubtful that Hillary’s campaign will be hurt, but Democrats are also salivating over retaking the Senate as the seats won by the GOP in the first TEA Party wave of 2010 come up for re-election in a Presidential year. That’s where a shortfall could come into play.

Speaking of the state convention, the sponsor of the amendment which actually stripped the voting rights of three auxiliary organizations now questions his own standing in introducing the amendment in the first place. It’s the ultimate in do-overs, but we have to ask whether he would have been as honest had the proposal passed.

Now Tony Campbell wants a special convention to right what was made wrong.

In discussing this with a former Chair, one thing that I learned is that seldom does an individual vote matter on the Executive Committee – there is rarely a time when a vote is close enough to make a difference. The only instance he could think of where a vote was close like that was the vote of no confidence in former Chair Jim Pelura back in 2009. That was still a relatively lopsided vote, 20 to 10, but the county chairs only voted 14 to 10. It was the six leadership and auxiliary votes that padded the margin.

(It’s also a rare time of late that I cite the balky and ad-bloated Red Maryland site, but you’ll notice the reason for the exception.)

So I think we should deal with this in due course. Perhaps we can do like we do for government “shutdowns” and give the auxiliary organizations their votes later as back votes once we rectify the situation, as I know we will.

Staying with the Maryland GOP, a few days back I received a list of 61 Republican leaders throughout the state who are backing Delegate Kathy Szeliga in her U.S. Senate bid. As you may expect, there are a lot of General Assembly members on the list: locally it includes Delegates Christopher Adams, Carl Anderton, Mary Beth Carozza, and Charles Otto as well as Senator Addie Eckardt and County Executive Bob Culver. 42 of 50 Republican Delegates and 13 of 14 GOP Senators are on the list. (George Edwards of western Maryland is the recalcitrant Senator.)

But I noticed one name among the local delegation was missing: it looks like Delegate Johnny Mautz has kept his powder dry for the moment. I can’t figure out if he just didn’t want to sign or if he’s backing someone else – with his Congressional staffer connections, he would be a logical backer of Richard Douglas. Just grist for the mill.

I haven’t even started to make my mind up on the race, but I will say Kathy has a long way to go to get my support – if only because her campaign website is still bare-bones a couple weeks after she jumped into the fray. That’s the type of lack of attention to detail that can sink a campaign.

Ethanol hasn’t been in the news much lately, but I thought it was worth pointing out that one of my favorite energy writers, Marita Noon, recently detailed how Ben Carson has moved to the right side of the issue. API’s Linda Rozett adds her two cents as well, making the case that dairy subsidies didn’t work out well so neither are ethanol carveouts creating the desired effects. Look, when we have plenty of oil there’s no real need to use food for fuel, despite what the corn growers who are enjoying the artificial price support may say.

Of course, people like me who believe food shouldn’t be used as fuel tend to fall into the category of climate change “deniers.” The folks at Organizing Against America For Action are excited about events in Paris. (Not the Friday the 13th ones, although this could be just as detrimental to millions.) In an e-mail exhorting supporters to “call out” skeptics, they say:

Remember when getting an elected official to even mention carbon pollution or climate change was a big deal? We’ve come a long way.

Today, the momentum for action has never been greater. Climate change denial in America is at an all-time low, and hundreds of companies have come out to support rules on power plant pollution. As if that wasn’t enough, religious leaders like Pope Francis are insisting that there is a moral obligation to address climate change.

In just two weeks, more than 160 nations, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s carbon pollution, are joining together for an international conference to tackle climate change, while we still can.

I dare them to call me out. YOU ARE A FRAUD. We’ve been holding steady on global temperature since the turn of the millennium, and if anything the indications are we are getting colder, not warmer. Throttling back the economies of the developed world will only weaken the rest of the planet.

Yet there are people talking common sense:

Climate change deniers are trying to spoil this big moment by undermining America’s commitment to act on climate change.

Some senators, like James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell, are going out of their way to undermine American commitments. Senator Inhofe, famous for bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor as proof that climate change doesn’t exist, has committed to crash the talks and be a “one-man truth squad,” telling the international negotiators how little he believes in climate science.

Senator Inhofe isn’t alone. Back at home, climate change deniers in both chambers of Congress are working to overturn the carbon pollution standards for power plants.

Good. I hope they succeed in overturning the job-killing restrictions. Just call me the Republican uncle, except I can do more than recite talking points.

Killing – not of jobs, but of fellow public housing residents – may not be out of the realm of the 6,000 drug convicts the Obama administration is releasing, and thanks to Judicial Watch we also know that they will be welcomed into public housing. I will grant that probably 99% of them will be more or less model citizens, but that still leaves a few dozen miscreants to cause trouble. I think Judicial Watch has reason to be concerned, as do those residents who get them as neighbors. Perhaps the same sort of notice granted when sex offenders move nearby is in order, at least to start. Call it a probationary period.

Finally, let’s end on a happier note. I wrote about a similar event last year, but over the weekend we were encouraged to participate in the Made in the USA Christmas Challenge by the Patriot Voices advocacy group. While most of the electronics we use are made overseas, it is possible to purchase gifts made in America. (One familiar group has some suggestions.)

It’s worth noting, though – as of this writing, just 116 have signed up at Patriot Voices. That’s not very many patriots, so hopefully more people than that are conscious of the advantages of supporting our businesses.

So there you have it – you are more informed and I have a clean inbox. I love it when a plan comes together.

10 from 10: Does it ever change? A petition for redress of grievances.

November 30, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

Back in the REALLY early days of monoblogue (this is from January 21, 2006) I didn’t post every day but when I did post oftentimes it was thought pieces like this one. As I look at these nearly a decade later, it strikes me how little has really changed – the scandals change their names and players but government is still too big, too powerful, and still attracts any number of grifters’ hands to a pot of our coerced making.

So we still need these remedies. In one respect, this piece was the kernel of what became the “50 year plan” series later and eventually my book. It was a definite foundational moment in the first 50 posts.


I guess this is one of those days I get tired of the political scene. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the whole Abramoff scandal. The Democrats accuse the Republicans of being the culture of corruption, even though they got almost half the money themselves, not to mention the money they get that’s coerced from union workers who may not agree with their philosophies. The GOP says, all right, we’re going to introduce legislation to combat things like lobbying, then the Democrats pander and say that’s like the farmer closing the barn door after the horse has departed. And the Democrats were where on this issue 6 months ago?

Do you all understand what the REAL problem is? For every man, woman, and child in America, the federal government spends roughly $10,000. The budget is $2.6 trillion.

And there’s 535 people in control of all that money. And those 535 people have to face voters every 2 to 6 years. And the way they see in keeping people voting for them is to keep shoveling money at them.

I keep a pocket copy of the Constitution on my desk. Article 1, Section 8 lays out the duties of Congress. I’m not going to write them all out, I’ll try for a Cliffs Notes version:

Borrow money. They do this quite well.
Regulate commerce among the states and with foreign nations. This is for things like NAFTA.
Establish rules of naturalization. That evolved into the INS, which I think was folded into Homeland Security.
Establish bankruptcy laws. And they established a bankruptcy court too.
Coin money and regulate the value. Thus, a United States mint, and the Federal Reserve.
Establish Post Offices and post roads. Until 1971, the Post Office was a Cabinet-level office. I suppose establishing interstate highways could be construed for the post roads.
Patents and copyrights. Done, although they’ve talked about changing the periods of those.
Constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. So they have a perfect right to break up the Ninth Circuit Court. Theoretically, they could scrap it all and start over, but I’m sure the next Democrat Congress would do the same.
Declare war, raise and support armies, and provide and maintain a navy. They do that, although I’m not sure the two year limit on appropriations for the Army is being followed.
Make rules for the government and regulation of the armed forces, also call forth and provide for the militia. Part of that is suppressing insurrections. Is an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in this country an insurrection? But states appoint officers and train their own militias.

That’s pretty much it. But layer upon layer of law and government, fueled by the desire of bureaucrats to maintain their cushy positions, has added a whole lot of chaff to the wheat that was the Constitution as written.

It actually started fairly early. The only amendment to the Constitution that mentioned Congress until the Civil War was the First, which was a prohibition to Congress: they shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or abridging free speech or a free press, or of the right for people to assemble peacefully and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But from the 13th Amendment on, Constitutional amendments basically allowed Congress to see fit how each Amendment would be codified. Rather than prohibit Congress from establishing laws, these were encouraged and left vague and open-ended.

Worst among them was the Sixteenth Amendment, which let Congress tax the living crap out of us. Talk about a mistake! It was at that moment that the Congress became a monument to pork.

If I were to ask for a Constitutional convention (allowed under Article V of the Constitution) I would ask that the 16th and 17th Amendments be repealed, and the 28th Amendment be thus:

Congress shall make no law that codifies discrimination for or against any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This Amendment shall also be construed to include a prohibition on Congress enacting additional criminal code or punishment solely based on these factors.

The 29th Amendment would go something like this:

Section 1. With the exception of the powers reserved for Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of this document, and items outlined below; funds received by the federal government shall be disbursed to the States in accordance with their population in the latest Census figures. No restriction shall be placed on how the several States use these funds.

Section 2. Outlays for the operation of the offices of the President and other officers who shall be warranted by same shall be submitted by the office of the President to Congress, who shall, without amendment, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 3. Outlays for the operation of the Supreme Court and tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court shall be submitted by the Attorney General to Congress, who shall, without amendment except in the case of convening a new tribunal inferior to the Supreme Court, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 4. If Congress does not approve the submitted amount, both the President and Attorney General will have ten days (excluding Sundays) to resubmit a budget to Congress. In the event that either a new budget is not submitted by either or both parties, or if the resubmitted budget is not approved by Congress, the budget shall be determined by using the prior year’s figure and adding a sum equal to 3% of that figure.

Section 5. Congress shall not withhold funds from states based on existing state laws.

It’s a start. The key to solving a lot of our problems with ethics, in my opinion, is to take away from Congress the power of the purse as much as possible. More attention should be paid to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which places rights properly at the state level and among the people themselves.

Scraping the bottom

Earlier this week the Tax Foundation released its annual State Business Tax Climate Index. Despite Governor Hogan’s insistence on improving business climate and efforts to adopt some of the Augustine Commission’s reforms, Maryland once again has the dubious distinction of being a bottom-10 state.

Yes, that sickening orange color tags us as a state to avoid insofar as business taxes are concerned. In truth, we’ve only dropped one spot from the 2015 index so while we could have made a few minor improvements other states are improving at a faster pace. (Maryland seems to tread water – over the last four years we have oscillated between #40 and #41.) Moreover, we still lag behind all of our neighbors with Delaware again leading the region. The First State maintained its #14 ranking.

There is one important caveat to Maryland’s decline which could push them out of the bottom 10 next year. Late last month Governor Hogan announced a significant cut in the unemployment insurance tax, which is one of the factors (albeit the least-weighted) the Tax Foundation uses to determine its rank order. But other states are trying to push the envelope more quickly by reducing corporate and individual tax rates, something Maryland has talked about but not acted upon. (The Tax Foundation’s weighting process is explained on page 16 of their full report.)

While reducing regulations doesn’t always require legislative approval, the tax nut is a harder one to crack. The requirement to balance the budget means that revenue no longer extracted from corporations and small businesses alike can’t be used for profligate spending. At a time when government getting an increase that’s less than expected brings screams about draconian cuts from the left side of the aisle, heads truly explode when less real money is allocated. Even if you get 97 cents when you used to get a dollar, liberals act as if you just shot their unicorn with a scary-looking AR-15.

There’s a reason I bring up 97 cents as a particular figure. According to the state’s FY2016 budget, the corporate income tax accounts for 3% of the revenue; thus, eliminating it entirely would mean a corresponding budget cut. (We’ll leave aside the obvious competitive benefit to the state, which would eventually attract more business and increase revenue via other means such as income and sales taxes.) While it’s true that having a poor corporate tax ranking doesn’t completely eliminate the good – Delaware’s #50 ranking in corporate taxes only drags its overall rank to #14 – eliminating the tax would make it plain that Maryland is indeed “open for business.”

Eliminating the tax would also eliminate what’s become an annual debate about combined reporting. Proponents of its adoption, mainly Democrats, claim large businesses are not paying their fair share because they use the accounting trick of claiming their income arises from low-tax states. They may make actual profit in Maryland but don’t report it because they have operations in other. more tax-friendly states. The most recent iteration of the idea came last year, with the tradeoff that would have eliminated filing fees for small (less than 10 employee) businesses. In that respect it was a money-loser for the state; however, the research showed in better economic times the effect would be beneficial to state coffers.

Interestingly, Salisbury has a new mayor that epitomizes the opposite end of the chicken-and-egg approach: last week in the Salisbury Independent, Jake Day was quoted as noting:

“Economic development isn’t what it used to be,” he said. “It includes more activities. It’s now about culture. About quality of life issues. The arts and people. Parks, bike trails, bike lanes. And if you don’t get those right, don’t even talk about workforce development and industry and business development efforts, because you have to have those things to attract anyone.”

This portion of Delmarva boasts a lot of natural beauty along its rivers and coastlines, a well-regarded university, and a proportionate share of arts and culture. Perhaps the traditional bricks-and-mortar manufacturing or legacy service industries won’t come to Salisbury, but it’s been obvious over the last ten years that the beauty, academics, and culture isn’t exactly making this a hotbed of economic activity either. There needs to be a more balanced approach to development because it takes a fair amount of money to create and maintain parks, bike trails, and bike lanes – particularly if the money is granted from the state as it often is. We may be competitors to certain other urban areas around the state, but development somewhere else in the state or even another state, depending on the grant source, is paying the lion’s share for the bike lanes to be installed here. (In some cases, local gifts have helped.) Funding will also be required to maintain parks and develop new ones like Pirate’s Wharf along the Wicomico River.

There are thousands who have moved here over the decades as adults, and for the most part they came here for one of two reasons: they came to school or they came for a job. And if they came for school, there’s no guarantee they will stay if jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities aren’t available.

Simply put, Maryland has a long way to go in overcoming the poor reputation they have for growing and attracting businesses. It’s a lot easier for those on the Western Shore to prosper when there’s a ready-made source of confiscated wealth in close proximity. (If all those people had to find honest work Maryland would be just like West Virginia, with high unemployment. Because it’s well away from that honey pot of confiscated largess, the lower Eastern Shore already is in that same high-joblessness boat.)

I learned the other day that the Augustine Commission determined 1/4 of Maryland’s GDP comes from the federal government. If we can rightsize the federal government over the coming decades, Maryland will be negatively affected in what would be of overall benefit to the nation. It’s time to wean our state off the opioid of living off the federal employees and make strides in diversifying our economy. For that reason, making our state more business-friendly simply has to occur.

10 from 10: Welcome to the Rushalanche!

November 29, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

October 5, 2007 is a day - to borrow a phrase from some failed presidential candidate – that is forever seared into my memory. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried to call Rush Limbaugh on “open line Friday” but I amazingly got through, Snerdly liked the question I was going to ask, and right after the 1:30 news it was time for my big show business break. (I have the transcript as a private page. Think I did the job of making the host look good.)

And yes, it did fry my server. But for one glorious day I had several thousand people read my site – who knows, maybe some are still around.


Since most of you readers have never heard of monoblogue prior to my conversation with Rush, a little about my website.

I started this a couple years ago because I couldn’t write a letter to the editor every day. But in the last 22 months this has become my hobby/obsession and the actual reason I wanted to call in was to see what websites are considered the top sites for conservative thinking so I can link to them and use them to improve my own writing.

On monoblogue, I cover a variety of subjects ranging from national and Maryland politics to my love of baseball and local music. Another goal is to inform the voters of the Eastern Shore and elsewhere of the political choices they have and editorially push them in the “right” direction.

So welcome to monoblogue, and I hope you come back often. And thank you for the “big show business break” Rush!!!

P.S. There’s been many great comments so far and I’m going to spend some time this weekend answering them. I’ve always been proud of those who comment (I think I have the best readers of any website) and you folks continue the tradition. Plus you’ve given me valuable insight on good websites, some I already knew of and a few I didn’t.

And for those who ask, in maybe two hours you’ve topped my best WEEK ever. Now the challenge is to keep all of my new readers, and I look forward to it. My thanks to you and to Rush for taking my call.


I would be remiss if I didn’t add the companion post I did for the new audience. It was a day I’ll never forget.

10 from 10: 2008 White House Christmas Card

November 28, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

I suppose it was because I was on the Central Committee, but for a couple years I was privileged enough to receive White House Christmas cards and decided to share. Turns out they were very popular posts.

So you may enjoy this look back at a time when we really celebrated Christmas at the White House and not out in Hawaii, as the current occupant of the White House tends to do.


With the recent election I may not get another one for awhile, so I’ll enjoy once again getting the card from George W. and Laura Bush this year. Wonder if the DNC picks up the tab next year?

The inside of this year's White House Christmas, once again with a Scripture verse.

I think the picture came out well enough for the greeting, but the Scripture verse may be too small. This time it’s Matthew 5:16:

Let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I particularly like the picture on the outside, which is a slightly stylized view southward off the Truman Balcony toward the Washington Monument. Especially pretty is the depiction of a colorful setting sun sky in this Christmastime scene of a snowy Washington.

The 'photo' on the outside of the card is actually an oil-on-linen painting by artist T. Allen Lawson.

I guess the setting sun is appropriate as the final Bush term comes to a close. Regardless, I’m pleased to share this with others who may not be fortunate enough to be on the list.

So what if I get more complaints from someone about Google searches.

About that TEA Party…

My “10 from 10″ post this morning regarding the 9/12 Rally back in 2009 got me to pondering where the movement has gone in the intervening years.

If you’ve been a reader around here for a long time, you may recall that I covered a significant number of TEA Party-related groups that sprung up in the local area over the next couple years. Not only did we have the TEA Parties themselves that went on in both 2009 and 2010, but also groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Wicomico Society of Patriots. They went on for a couple of years but essentially died off from a lack of interest. (On the other hand, we still have the Worcester County TEA Party and 9-12 Delaware Patriots.)

Having been involved to a limited extent with the Wicomico groups, I can tell you that some of the players who remain active have gone “establishment” to the extent they remain active in the local Republican Party. Three of those most heavily involved have served on the Central Committee – unfortunately, that’s the only election where some of the TEA Party leaders have found success. While many in the area take TEA Party values to heart, they seem to vote for the names they know.

This erosion of the brand is also reflected on a national level. I used to write quite a bit about the TEA Party Patriots and expressed hope that the TEA Party Express would bring some of its star power to the region. In the last few years, though, the national movement has suffered from infighting as well as a concerted media effort to impugn the brand. I don’t hear nearly as much from the group these days, as their function has by and large been superseded by SuperPACs that fight for specific candidates or causes.

If you consider the high point of the TEA Party as the 2010 election, where the political landscape dramatically shifted in a more conservative direction in the wake of two consecutive leftward shifts as well as the adoption of an unpopular Obamacare entitlement program, then the nadir came two years later with Barack Obama’s re-election. A conspiracy theorist could point out that the 2010 election results put the Obama campaign on high alert, meaning they pulled out all the stops to ensure re-election with a little help from a compliant media. But one could counter by noting the movement wasn’t strong enough to topple frontrunner Mitt Romney and they shot themselves in the foot by staying home on Election Day. (As it was, though, Romney did get more votes than John McCain did in 2008.)

So while you can credit TEA Party principles for winning the day in 2014, the actual movement itself seems to be receding to a low tide. Since TEA is an acronym for “taxed enough already” it’s been pointed out by the Left that taxes really aren’t that bad, at least in comparison to the rates in place for administrations from Hoover to Carter. (This is a neat little chart to see the differences.) Ronald Reagan dropped rates twice: from 70% to 50% in 1982 and eventually down to 28% with the Tax Reform Act of 1986. It had been over 50 years since the top rate was less than 50%.

But that only considers income tax. Certainly as a 100-year body of work our current rates are on the low side, but back then we didn’t have the maddening plethora of taxes and fees we do now. Some are consumption-based taxes like sales tax on goods purchased or per gallon of gasoline, while others are considered some sort of “sin” tax like additional levies on cigarettes or alcohol, a combination that Marylanders endure to a larger extent than several of their neighbors. Even speed cameras could be regarded as a sort of “sin” tax, since supposedly the only ones who pay it are the ones who are speeding well above the posted limit. (Try as they might to convince us that it’s about safety, we all know they need the Benjamins. Why else would they have to install cameras in more and more dubious “school zones”?) Nor does that consider property tax, which tends to be the preferred vehicle for raising money for the public schools. In most states where districts have taxing authority, it’s not uncommon to see a school district seek three to four additional property tax levies a decade as they strive to raise funds for buildings and operations. (Maryland is different because counties pay for their portion of school funding from their general funds, so there are no ballot issues to deal with property taxes.) To make a long story short, we still consider ourselves taxed enough already.

As far as a formal movement goes, though, for the most part we are back to where we were around 2008. There is a lot of frustration with the direction of both parties, but this time rather than a movement without a leader people are going the route of a looking for a leader for what they consider their movement – hence, political outsiders Ben Carson and Donald Trump have been ahead of the Republican field for most of this campaign. (As further proof, the other side is still believed to be behind Hillary Clinton.) Carson is cast as the Godly, principled man who would quietly and reverently lead our nation in need of healing, while Trump comes across as the brash general who would kick butt and take names, restoring America to its top of the heap status.

Conversely, those who are conservative but came up through the standard political channels have fallen out of favor this cycle. In any other cycle, we would look at governors like Rick Perry, Scott Walker, or Bobby Jindal as frontrunners – instead, all three are out of the race. In terms of political resumes, the front-runners on both sides have even less to go on than Barack Obama did, and that’s saying something.

So it’s hard to tell where the TEA Party trail runs cold. I think a number of them have coalesced behind Donald Trump despite the fact The Donald is not a movement conservative. One recent rumor is that a Trump/Cruz ticket is in the works, which would perhaps appease the true believers. Trump’s success has belied the predictions of TEA Party leaders that he will be a flash in the pan.

But it appears the days of rallies like 9/12 are behind us. Such a pity.

10 from 10: D.C. 9-12 rally in pictures and text (part 2: the players)

November 27, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

This post was from September 14, 2009. Perhaps it could lead to a piece on my thoughts on where the TEA Party has gone since those heady, bring a quarter million or more people to a D.C. rally days. I will say that this rally was perhaps my favorite event to cover, that’s for sure. So take a few moments to remember.


Last night I did the crowd shots for the disbelievers. Today I’ll get to the more meaty parts of the rally.

But it may not be a bad idea for me to do this part chronologically as well. There were a lot of moments which cry out for comment and today is a good time to sit back and reflect on what the day meant to me and a million others like me – not to mention the thousands who participated in smaller rallies across the country and/or met the TEA Party Express tour bus in various parts of the country.

Since we walked from Union Station, where the bus dropped us off, directly to the Capitol (we were late enough that the march had already began) we walked by the Teamsters national headquarters. (Don’t forget I embed captions too.)

No it's not. Keep the secret ballot secret and don't allow Big Labor intimidation.

I know this isn’t SEIU headquarters, but card check performed by the same type of people who think nothing of beating up health care protesters doesn’t fly – keep the secret ballot as it is. So what if unions only win about 2/3 of the time.

The first attention-grabber I ran across at the rally had his own message.

The only thing missing from this guy's getup was money hanging out of his pockets. But he certainly looked the part - just hope he never actually runs for office with this picture all over the internet.

While this woman wasn’t dressed to the nines, the sign she held up intrigued me so she’ll be a featured player.

Unfortunately we can't hit the rewind button until November of 2012. Hopefully the damage won't be too severe.

Also, she had on two great buttons: “I’d rather be waterboarding” and “America: Not arrogant, just awesome”. Winners in my book.

This lady was sitting back deeper in the crowd, so she couldn’t see the stage but she could be seen.

Yep, typical right-wing extremist, spouting off those limited government principles. Perhaps this picture is appropriate since most of these values were kicked to the curb by Congress and our President.

One complaint I have about the setup was there were way too few facilities. I counted 60 portapotties for a million or so people. Disregarding potty parity, there should have been hundreds if I recall building code correctly – then again, even the organizers only predicted 75,000 to show up. This was stuck on a portapotty door and was worth a chuckle and a picture.

Look on the bright side - at least ACORN can't be punk'd there.

Once I finally got through the line, I wandered some more. This was when the main event got started so I listened to a couple speakers. I didn’t get the name of the guy who said this but he said, “Three days ago the President called us out…three days later, here we are!”

Obviously that got a big roar from the crowd, as did Andrew Moylan of the National Taxpayers Union noting, “Hell hath no fury like a taxpayer ignored.” The crowd noise could be quite loud at times but since we were scattered about in a large area (as opposed to a stadium) it wasn’t deafening. Certainly it was great to hear as we walked up.

Crowd noise didn’t deter this woman from doing her job.

This woman was interviewing people for a later video and her company was called 'Hi There Productions'.

Since I have the web address I’ll have to see if the interview I did made the cut. If so I’ll put it up for Friday Night Videos. (Nice tease, huh?)

This may be my favorite picture from the event in an artistic sense.

I have no idea how he got up there but he was there for quite awhile and drew a lot of cheers. I know I wouldn't do that since I hate being on ladders let alone 20 feet up.

In a certain way it’s very symbolic of our cause, sort of reminiscent of Paul Revere’s ride. Speaking of riding, there were others who arrived in the same manner we did.

American Energy did a nice product placement with this attractive moving billboard.

I presume they had their people moving through the crowd exhorting support of a pro-energy position. But another bus was met with much more derision.

These protestors kept yelling at those on the CNN bus 'Tell the truth!' Maybe they need to start since their ratings are in the toilet. Notice the lady slapping up the 'Fox News' sign.

Returning to a space in view of the stage, I took a long-range shot of the TEA Party Express group, represented by a previous monoblogue interviewee, Deborah Johns.

Blue Star Mom and TEA Party Express participant Deborah Johns (center, at podium and on big screens) remarks on the 7,000 mile journey her bus tour took to end up in Washington.

I’m working on securing another interview with Deborah this week. They also brought the event organizers on stage to close the show.

The people who put together the 9-12 TEA Party put in hundreds of hours to get this together and on the whole did an excellent job!

But the pictures aren’t done. I have more fun stuff to discuss from the return to Union Station, like this guy.

Yep, he's looking for attention, but this guy gets his due for making a spectacle of himself.

The same goes for this truck. I did not Google “Mark the Patriot” but maybe sometime I will.

Here's someone who doesn't mind making his truck unique for a cause.

Arriving at Union Station, there were still protestors worth checking out. I suspect a lot of Congressmen may get a pink slip next year.

I can tell you that you'll see a sign like this again. We were all waiting for our respective buses at Union Station.

I saw buses there from points up and down the mid-Atlantic: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina were represented. I even was in proximity with a minor celebrity: Rev. James David Manning, the Louisiana preacher best known for calling President Obama a “long-legged mack daddy.”

The Rev. James David Manning (left) found a lot of supporters at the protest for his point of view. I wouldn't quite go so far as he does but certainly the frustration with President Obama is real.

Between two posts I have 24 pictures, plus another 14 on my Facebook page. But there’s no way I can create the full flavor of the event – I guess you just had to be there.

Hopefully this won’t be the last event the 9-12 Coalition conducts, but most of us know that this isn’t a climax, just a beginning. The change we seek isn’t one that occurs overnight and doesn’t stop even if we throw out Congress and Obama next time around. Vigilance is forever, and that’s the first lesson we all need to learn.

10 from 10: Thanksgiving 2010

November 26, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

For today’s look back, I review a Thanksgiving past. This is from November 25, 2010.


As I have in years past, I take time a day or two before Thanksgiving to write an annual message. It may or may not be autobiographical (generally it is) and it may or may not be philosophical, but nonetheless I take the time to populate my website on Thanksgiving because I feel I owe it to my loyal readers to provide daily content. A few dozen take me up on reading it.

Last year at this time I detailed my economic struggles, and they continue apace – however, I am thankful to have found a part-time job which is helping a little bit, not to mention the few extra dollars I make as a scribe. Depending on how things go forward with Pajamas Media, I’m up to two or three regular (paying) writing clients.

(I’m told this new job outside the house will pick up once the holidays are over – let’s hope that’s more true than when I lost my last full-time job only to be told I’ll be rehired ‘after the holidays’ – too bad I didn’t verify in which year those holidays would be. Can’t blame the old boss, though, since he has a smaller company now than when I left.)

It’s odd that I seem to have swerved into a bit of a tradition here. For the third year in a row, I’m having dinner with my friends Jim and Michele in Delaware and for the second year in a row, supper will be consumed with Kim’s family at her mom’s place in Oxford. It’s different than a Swartz family gathering, but it has advantages nonetheless.

Of course, the disadvantage of leaving family to move three states away is that one can’t always be there to gather with them. But this year that longing will be compounded by the loss of my brother LJ - future family gatherings will never be the same. For example, there are only two cutthroat UNO players to avoid sitting next to instead of three. (Those who know me best and most intimately will understand the humor there.)

Yet as the universe of readers here keeps expanding and time marches on as it forever has, I realize that there are days we need to ponder that which we should be thankful for and to Whom the thanks should go.

While it’s difficult letting go of the political world for a day and nearly impossible to not pay attention to the football game on (after all, I am a Detroit Lions fan and we almost always ate as their annual Thanksgiving game was being played) I try to manage because the best part is having great company for the day.

Years ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, I was married to my first wife who had an elderly father that lived alone. Our first thought about Thanksgiving was making sure he had a place to go and wouldn’t be by himself on the holiday. As for me, I think I have managed to spend the time with family and friends either here or back in Ohio (a couple times) since I moved here. I still appreciate those who hosted me on Thanksgivings spent far away from my own family opening their home to me and being friends.

So I hope your Thanksgiving goes well, and if you have a job you got the day off. (Is our society really better served with all the stores open for shopping Thanksgiving Day?) Give thanks to those you’re with, for you never know if they’ll be there with you when the next Thanksgiving rolls around. Time has a way of being cruel.

Thoughts on bylaw 3

November 25, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comment 

In proof that even I, a veteran of nearly 20 state party conventions, can be blindsided by political events therein, I give you Exhibit A: the Black Republican bylaws amendment. And here I thought the second one that was tabled rather quickly would be the one with the loudest argument.

But the fact that this was the second-to-last piece of business (besides revealing the straw poll that no one seems to care about because Ted Cruz won) makes for a lot of bitter feelings on the social media I’ve seen. So I thought some perspective was in order.

One thing I understood about the outcome is that it’s supposed to be temporary. The idea is, just like the state party that streamlined the process of filling vacancies in the General Assembly at this convention, at some future gathering they will debate just what groups will qualify for inclusion on the state’s executive committee and which receives a vote on the body. To me, it’s a conversation which really should have occurred when we were instead rushed out the door a couple years ago.

One argument that’s been made against expanding the vote is that the county chairs on the Executive Committee are there by virtue of the electorate. (Not necessarly true given midterm appointments, but more often than not it is so.) On the other hand, they argue, representatives of the other groups are selected from within.

The poster child for the argument against the inclusion of the auxiliary groups are the Young Republicans. Although they are on the comeback trail thanks to new leadership, they secured their vote on the Executive Committee despite losing chapters and membership over several years.

But it also begs a pair of questions: what constitutes success for a particular group? Will they go by paid members, chapters, or some magic combination of both? With age-restricted groups such as the Teenage, College, or Young Republicans, the ebb and flow of membership is common – for example, next year the CRs will need a new president because their current leader is a college senior.

Personally, I would have been fine with giving the Black Republican Council a vote – as long as the other two voteless groups got one, too. Since that wasn’t an option I thought this was the next-best route.

I don’t have a copy of the bylaws of each of each organization, but I suspect the state party chair doesn’t get a vote on their board. We appreciate the voice each have, but perhaps rather than arguing over who gets a vote and who doesn’t maybe we have the best possible situation for now.

10 from 10: David Craig (hearts) the Maryland conservative blogosphere

November 25, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comment 

Before he ever made a formal announcement for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, you may recall Harford County Executive David Craig’s prospective run was the second worst-kept secret in Maryland politics, behind Larry Hogan’s then-nascent Change Maryland organization that enabled Hogan to stay in the public eye for his own successful run.

At the time I wrote this, though, it was still a parlor game. This is from September 12, 2011. By the way, I think I still have the thumb drive somewhere.


A headshot of Harford County Executive David Craig, provided by his 2014 campaign.

On Friday evening I, along with a number of other Maryland political bloggers, was invited to a confab with current Harford County Executive and likely 2014 statewide candidate David Craig.

Now unlike a lot of events, I chose beforehand not to provide a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings. I intentionally didn’t bring a notepad because I figured there weren’t going to be a lot of detailed questions or answers. I was sort of wrong, but that’s okay – why should I write the same thing four or five others may write? So what you’ll read are my observations of the evening, with a few pertinent items tossed in from memory.

Let me begin with a roster of the other bloggers who attended – there were six of us. I was told that there were about a dozen or so invited, but the list of non-attendees seems to be guarded like a state secret. And that’s fine, because I was just curious when I asked.

Besides yours truly, those who came in to Annapolis for dinner and conversation were Greg Kline and Brian Griffiths from Red Maryland, Bryan Sears and Brad Gerick from Patch.com, and Richard Cross, who does Cross Purposes. (He beat me to the punch with his thoughts on the evening.) It was a cordial conference with Craig and four of his staffers, and the conversations were broad in scope and depth around various parts of the table.

Besides dinner, we all received a party favor: the picture you see at the opening of the article comes from a flash drive Craig provided with his 2014 logo on the outside and various photos, background information, and news articles on the inside. Obviously it will be more useful once the 2012 election is over and Craig decides on whether he’ll seek the post of Governor, Comptroller, or Congressman – if I were a betting man I’d say that in rank order it’s about a 70-25-5 probability for which office he’ll run (the 70% being Governor.)

It was interesting how my fellow bloggers handled the evening. Sears (and to a lesser extent Gerick) treated this like an interview, asking pointed questions of the candidate about a number of statewide issues. Obviously Cross was taking some notes as well, while Kline and I did more listening. (Brian Griffiths came late since the Maryland GOP Executive Committee meeting was held down the street simultaneously to our gathering and he was representing the Maryland Young Republicans there.)

It’s funny that much of my direct conversation with Craig came when we talked about – baseball. He’s obviously familiar with the struggles of the O’s minor league system since the Aberdeen IronBirds play in his county and he could relate to my feelings about the Shorebirds. On the other hand, I wasn’t enthused about his ideas for league realignment but liked his stance on the designated hitter – indeed, it needs to go.

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WCRC meeting – November 2015

November 24, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comment 

We didn’t have the biggest crowd on a Thanksgiving week, but Delegate Christopher Adams made his points during the final scheduled WCRC meeting of 2015.

Adams was down the agenda this time, as we chose to do our usual opening routine with the exception of me giving the treasurer’s report for the absent Deb Okerblom. We slotted the Central Committee report first, which meant Mark McIver could detail the “huge success” of the Lincoln Day Dinner.

McIver chalked up the success to a couple factors: good profit from the silent auction and the use of several database lists – and 150 hand-written personal invitations – to target our advertising.

Briefly going over the state convention, McIver detailed how we heard from the three leading Republican U.S. Senate candidates. Ann Suthowski chimed in that Muir Boda was mentioned twice during the convention for his success and Mark Edney did a good job explaining the succession by-laws amendment. The Salisbury University College Republicans were also mentioned as part of the state CR report for co-hosting the Lincoln Day Dinner.

McIver also announced he would host a joint club and Central Committee Christmas Party next month.

Finally, we heard from Delegate Adams. He was pleased to see the change in government in Salisbury, which he said has more sway than he does locally.

Adams noted that with $20 trillion in debt, it was likely the GOP would win this year’s election. He suggested they make cuts to the “fourth branch,” as cost-saving measures.

In Maryland, Adams continued, the Augustine Commission determined that federal spending accounted for 25% of the state’s GDP, so government cuts would affect Maryland disproportionately. The state needed to develop an “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he added.

Most of Chris’s message dealt with legislation he was introducing to allow counties to opt out of sprinkler system requirements once again. It’s something they’ve been asking for, Adams added, but they were up against a powerful firefighter lobby. Adams noted he had a meeting slated with the state!s deputy fire marshal.

Yet the $5 to $7 per square foot cost for a small, affordable home was one that couldn’t be added to the value. Mandates like this are putting new homes out of reach for young families,

He explained that the 2012 International Residential Code had this mandate, but prior to last year counties were allowed to opt out. Taking back local control “has to be a grassroots effort,” said Adams, and it requires action on a local level.

Adams was asked if many new home builders voluntarily put in sprinklers, but few did. He added that some states prohibit the mandate, including several neighboring states.

Mark McIver noted that the state was “taking away the American Dream…it’s bankrupting the younger generation.”

Adams was also asked about sprinker systems affect insurance rates. He believe they made little difference in the rates, because alleviating the fire risk was balanced against the leaking and water damage potential.

Finally, Adams was asked about last year’s bill, introduced by Delegate Jeff Ghrist, to address this. He noted it was late-filed, so it never got a hearing. His bill is pre-filed.

Christopher concluded by announcing he has a unique fundraiser at the OC Hilton December 12 and 13. You would get 2 nights’ stay and lunch with special guest Bob Ehrlich for one price.

Since we had a number of other state legislators in attendance, we got brief updates.

Carl Anderton spoke with Delaware officials, trying to get their perspective on agricultural issues. He also has a fundraiser coming up at the Delmar VFW on December 3.

Johnny Mautz believed “this year will be different than last year” in the General Assembly, with “a lot of activity.” Federal campaigns will drive some of that activity, so it would be up to Eastern Shore Republicans to kill bad bills as they could.

Addie Eckardt thought it would get “testy,” with pressure to spend our new-found surplus on items that were cut from last year’s budget. The idea was not to let ourselves get splintered, she concluded.

All in all, it was a nice little pre-session update – and timely, since we won’t meet again until after the session starts in January. To be exact, the WCRC will reconvene on January 25, 2016.

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