Shorebird of the Week – May 28, 2015

May 28, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

After a very shaky start, this season’s been an uphill climb for Matthew Grimes. Tagged with an ERA that flirted with double-digits after the first couple starts, he began whittling it down in earnest upon an April 28 start in Savannah that saw him allow just one hit in five innings while fanning 11. Even as he was roughed up a little in his last start at Hickory, most of the runs he allowed were unearned so his ERA dropped to a season-low 4.57 to go with a 3-2 record.

Matthew is an interesting case – drafted out of a Georgia high school by the White Sox in the 4th round in 2010, he instead chose to go to Georgia Tech. Grimes was drafted again in 2013 by the Phillies as a 31st rounder and finally the Orioles picked him up in the 18th round last season. One could argue he left a lot of money on the table, but obviously college was important to him and Matthew is still on track development-wise as an older 23-year-old at this level (he will turn 24 just before season’s end, on September 4.)

With Aberdeen last season his numbers were pedestrian – 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA in just 22 innings spread over 10 appearances (five starts.) The Orioles used him very gently as none of his outings lasted over three innings, so stretching him out as a starter this season is a little surprising. So far in 2015 his longest outing has been 5 2/3 innings at Augusta; however, Grimes has consistently turned in five or more innings. Just one of his last seven starts has gone fewer than five frames and that was a four-inning start at home, also against Augusta.

If there’s a knock on the Grimes resume, it’s that he tends to give up a lot of hits: 57 in 43 1/3 innings so far this season, leading to a WHIP of 1.62. It’s surprising because he has strikeout capability, having fanned 40 vs. 13 walks in those 43 1/3 innings. Naturally, the cat-and-mouse game is on; as the league adjusts to him Matt will have to refine his offerings.

My suspicion is that Grimes will become more of a reliever as his career progresses, as he seems to do better facing batters just once. But he may surprise us and become a pitcher who misses bats more often in the second half. There was a lot of promise for Grimes out of high school, so we’ll see if that hype was well-placed or not.

So believers now equate with the KKK?

Over a year ago, the wheels of justice began rolling with a lawsuit questioning whether the Bladensburg Peace Cross inappropriately established religion. In the ensuing months, the claims and counterclaims have trickled in, and onetime Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas has occasionally kept me (and others) updated on the process.

But now the case has taken an interesting turn:

Question: Should the federal courts allow comfortable white atheists to use the suffering of black Americans as a battering ram to force their opinions on all Americans?

Answer: We’re about to find out, with the Bladensburg Memorial WWI Peace Cross case.

Earlier this month, the atheists filed an “expert witness” opinion about the Memorial. In their opinion, the “expert” chosen by the atheists pulled the Ku Klux Klan card, associating the Memorial Peace Cross with the Klan and its racist ideology.

It is not the first time in this case that the atheists have hijacked black suffering in America to force their views upon the rest of us. In their initial complaint in federal court, the atheists attacked the Memorial Peace Cross on two fronts: first, under the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment to the Constitution ; and second, under Title 42, United States Code, section 1983 (42 USC 1983).

42 USC 1983 dates to the aftermath of the Civil War. It was one of the so-called “Klan Acts” enacted by Congress to protect newly-freed black people from mistreatment by state and local governments. Today the atheists are trying to use 42 USC 1983 it to dismantle the Peace Cross. So much for congressional intent.

In my judgment, playing the Ku Klux Klan card is an atheist “Hail Mary” pass (with apologies to Our Lady) to try and rescue what is in my judgment a doomed lawsuit. By pulling the KKK card, they have drawn a line in the sand and dared federal Judge Deborah Chasenow to step across.

In 2015 the Bladensburg WWI Memorial Peace Cross has about as much to do with the Klan as the guillotine has to do with modern humanism. Pulling the KKK card to attack the Memorial is the next-to-last refuge of a scoundrel. Let’s see if this group of privileged white malcontents gets away with it.

Knowing the political climate in Maryland, they just might. Bear in mind that this case has dragged on for over a year, and it’s fortunate that Douglas is assisting the defendants on a pro bono basis.

But it’s always fascinating to me to see what else Douglas is up to, and it turns out he has a couple other irons in the fire.

One is a PAC he created called the Job Homes Future PAC, which, as its mission, “aims to put the American workforce back where it belongs:   in first place on our nation’s priority list.  It is time to pick a fight with Congress on behalf of the American workforce.” (Emphasis in original.) As in many cases I’ve seen over the years, I suspect this may be the prelude to a political run.

Further evidence comes in a cryptic comment left on Richard’s Facebook page after he appeared before the Charles County Republican Central Committee in April:

Great having you join us. I really enjoyed your words to us. I totally agree with your positions and look forward to supporting your campaign to give Maryland a responsive representative in 2016. Hoyer must go.

It’s interesting that, while no one has filed the FEC campaign finance paperwork to challenge Steny Hoyer on the GOP side, two candidates are already on the GOP primary ballot – Mark Arness, who lost in the 2014 GOP primary to Chris Chaffee, and Charles Faddis, a former CIA officer for whom Congress runs in the family – his grandfather, also named Charles, was a House member in the World War II era. So Richard would be joining in a contested race should he choose that route, but neither of the two have raised a significant amount of money yet. With the recent entrance of Chrys Kefalas into the race, the Senate nomination would also be contested should Douglas choose that route again.

Of course, Richard may also choose to stay on the civilian side as he’s become a reasonably in-demand political commentator based on his experiences with luminaries like Senator Jesse Helms and with foreign policy and the role of the Senate.

In any case, he will be one to watch as 2016 approaches and this court case reaches its conclusion in the federal district court.

Sharia, gay marriage, and the First Amendment

By Cathy Keim

On May 20, 2015 I received an email from the American Freedom Defense Initiative announcing that they are buying ads on Washington, D.C. buses and train dioramas.

AFDI President Pamela Geller said in a statement:

Because the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas.

The attack on the event drew a lot of criticism aimed not at the jihadists, but at Pamela Geller and AFDI for hosting such a “provocative” contest. In this convoluted way of thinking, the jihadists could not be held responsible for their attack because they were provoked into it!

Here is the ad so that you can see for yourself what the fuss is about.

While this controversy is important in its own right, the following quote from Pamela Geller made me think of another first amendment issue that we are facing:

Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not bear being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed while everyone else lives in fear, while other groups curtail their activities to appease the violent group. This results in the violent group being able to tyrannize the others.

The progressives have been very eager to push gay marriage on the American people. The Supreme Court ruling that many expect to legalize gay marriage in every state should come down this summer. If or when that happens, do not think that this is over. The gay marriage fight is really not about gay marriage at all: it is about destroying marriage and the family unit and replacing it with the government.

If it were only about being able to be with the partner of their choosing, then why do we have the vindictive attacks on Christian photographers, bakers, and florists that decline to participate in gay marriage ceremonies? Why is this issue being pushed so hard?

The gay mafia has not resorted to chopping off heads, but it has put many Christian business people through a hellish experience resulting in fines and losing their business because they did not want to participate in gay marriage ceremonies.

As a reminder, the First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is true whether the speech is politically correct or not.

Americans are facing tough choices on First Amendment topics. If we do not resist the onslaught to demonize any open discussion of what Sharia requires of Muslims and how that is not compatible with the Constitution, then we will soon be silenced on any topic when threatened. For example, besides saying that you cannot draw Mohammad, Sharia law says that women are not equal to men. It allows men to have four wives. It also says that if you convert from Islam, you are to be killed. Now how can that be reconciled with our Constitution?

Yes, we can draw pictures of Mohammad in the USA and we have an obligation to do so to show that we will not back down on our First Amendment rights.

Christians have the obligation to state the Biblical position on marriage. Marriage is only between one man and one woman. If the Supreme Court declares marriage to be something else, then the religious freedom that we have known will be gone because rather than choosing another baker, photographer, or florist, the gay mafia will seek to destroy and intimidate anyone that does not fall into line and state that gay marriage is as good or better than heterosexual marriage.

Tolerance in both situations is a one-way street. If you do what the bully says, then he will tolerate you. If you do not toe the line, then he will seek to destroy you.

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, states:

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

The totalitarian impulses behind Sharia enforcers and erotic liberty advocates both result in the same end: the loss of personal freedom. Our country was founded on the belief that all men are created equal and this came from the Biblical worldview that all men are created in the image of God. This profound concept is what led to the birth of our country.

If we walk away from this truth, then we also walk away from America as we know her.

Mohler points out: Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.

So draw a cartoon and support marriage between one man and one woman or soon you may find that you can do neither. If everybody draws a cartoon and all Christians stand up for marriage, then it will be much harder for the jihadists to kill all of us or for the gay mafia to destroy every business that doesn’t agree with them, but if we are cowed by the threat of violence, then the First Amendment may still be in the Constitution – but it will not be relevant.

A weekend to remember, 2015 edition

May 25, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, National politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comment 

In previous years I have detailed some of those events I have attended, and this year is no different except I decided to take fewer pictures and enjoy (or take stock in) the events more.

On Sunday our family made a regular stop, honoring the veterans through music at the Concert for a Random Soldier in Long Neck, Delaware.

The event is now in its tenth year (more on that in a bit) and it benefits this veterans organization, Guitars for Vets.

Naturally, local veterans organizations use this both to inform others who may be interested in their service and to gather together.

Since this event has now reached a decade in duration, I found it very cool that the Delaware General Assembly saw fit to honor it with proclamations from both their House of Delegates and Senate. Senator Ernie Lopez presented the Senate version to event creator Terri Clifton.

Delegate Steve Smyk did the same for the House, but that was prior to our arrival.

Originally I wasn’t going to do a second post but as it turned out I had enough band photos that I will do a separate Weekend of Local Rock post next weekend. The Concert for a Random Soldier also featured a modest car show, raffles, and good food. Next year you should make plans to join in this worthwhile family Sunday.

Another event which has become an annual tradition here in Salisbury is the Memorial Day ceremony at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center.

As it has become tradition, I decided not to do a full pictorial of the event – if you want the blow-by-blow, previous coverage will suffice.

But each year I notice that, while there is a handful of new people there, the majority of those who attend and participate have some number of gray hairs. It’s worth pointing out that the revival of patriotism that was a reaction to the mistreatment of those who returned from Vietnam almost a half-century ago is itself nearly 25 years old. (The Reagan years birthed the resurgence, but it began in earnest when we sent troops over for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1991.) Those who served in that particular theater of war are now themselves middle-aged.

Instead, those in the present generation of fighting men (and women) are once again saddled with the fact they fought in what became an unpopular war where any victories gained were squandered by subsequent military decisions and strategy. I sense at times that patriotism is once again becoming a parody of itself – talking about “‘Murica” and all that. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the current political leadership, but to me it’s still there.

Memorial Day, however, is a day to set aside political feelings for the conflicts we find ourselves ensnared in, for the thousands and thousands who have perished in defense of our land are the ones we should be remembering today. Just because the federal government made it a three-day weekend, replacing the traditional May 30 date to instead insure it’s always on a Monday, doesn’t mean that the sense of loss for the families comes to an end or that the sacrifices were any less ultimate.

I hope those who are growing up come to understand the true meaning of the holiday, for I sometimes get the bad feeling their generation may bear the brunt of future observances. Let’s hope my hunch is wrong.

Shifting out of PARCC

As I noted yesterday, there was an item brought to my attention by the Worcester County TEA Party. Fortunately, their version is slightly inaccurate in a good way.

According to their communication, Governor Hogan only had until June 1 to act. That date is problematic because he will be in the opening stages of a 12-day trip to Asia to drum up business for Maryland. I’m definitely not crazy about this trip – considering many on our side chastised Martin O’Malley for doing the same thing – but it is what it is, and that’s really not the subject of the post.

Let me refer to the actual authors to set things straight. This is from the Stop PARCC in Maryland group:

In June 2010, Governor Martin O’Malley and former State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick signed a Memorandum of Understanding that committed Maryland to the various guidelines, by-laws, and responsibilities of membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.  (The complete Memorandum of Understanding can be found by clicking here.)

Section VII, Subsection B of the Memorandum of Understanding states:

“In the event that the governor or chief state school officer is replaced in a Consortium state, the successor in that office shall affirm in writing to the Governing Board Chair the State’s continued commitment to participation in the Consortium and to the binding commitments made by that official’s predecessor within five (5) months of taking office.”

On January 21, 2015, Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated and took office as Maryland’s 62nd Governor. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, Governor Hogan has until June 21, 2015 to recommit Maryland to the PARCC consortium.

We believe that the “shall affirm” provision, in this case, is directory (non-binding) and not mandatory due to the nature of the agreement as well as legal precedent.

We believe that the Governor has the authority to nullify Maryland’s agreement with the PARCC consortium simply by declining to reaffirm the state’s commitment within this five month window.

We believe that Governor Hogan is in a unique position to reclaim, remodel, and rediscover Maryland education.

In looking through the Stop PARCC website, I also found a letter from Delegate David Vogt in which he implores Hogan to withdraw, citing Florida as one example of a state which has done so. In fact, there are over a dozen states (including neighboring Virginia and Pennsylvania) which have already withdrawn from PARCC or a similar testing regimen called SBAC or joined neither in the first place – Virginia is one of four that never adopted either idea.

The objection to each of these is simple: they were adopted as a one-size-fits-all scheme in which hundreds of millions of federal dollars were shoveled to states to bribe them into compliance. The concept of local control is being usurped more and more by these standards; meanwhile, we are finding more and more that Johnny not only can’t read, but he has trouble with math and knows little about basic science, history, and geography – however, he is programmed to regurgitate whatever topical talking points are popular with the teachers’ unions.

Maryland is supposed to be one of the best states for education – so why are we lowering ourselves to “average” standards? We can be a leader by encouraging innovation and letting local districts work to educate students in the basics, with the emphasis on teaching in time-tested methods proven successful rather than catering to a testing regimen that takes up valuable classroom time.

“Be Prepared” – it’s a motto to live by

May 23, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Education · 2 Comments 

I bring you this not necessarily as an event to attend – although if you are in the Smyrna area and/or interested in the 9-12 Delaware Patriots it’s probably well worth your while – but as something to keep in mind for future reference. In this region there’s someone who knows about such survival techniques as these.

You can dismiss this as the paranoia of the far right – those dismissed as “preppers” – but many of these skills may be useful if (or perhaps when) we run into a situation where food, water, and electricity are in short supply or unavailable for weeks. Those who were directly affected by Superstorm Sandy had a taste of this life, but if the dire predictions of an EMP-induced power failure are correct we could be in such a situation for months at a time. (At that point, however, the prospects of canning and sustainable farming may be much less important than the marksmanship aspect of the course.)

It seems to me that this sort of course could be useful in a location closer to home – perhaps as an event for the Worcester County TEA Party. (Something they sent to me will be the subject of a post tomorrow.) Most of those on the other side of the political aisle will be instead waiting for the white knights of FEMA to roll in and save the day, but the government can only do so much for you – it’s what they can do to you that worries many on the conservative side of the spectrum.

Put another way, many of these skills were second nature to our great-grandparents, but having the ease and comfort of a modern society made them irrelevant for the modern world. When dinner is as easy as going online and using your debit card to have something delivered to your front door, the usefulness of fire starting without matches, canning, and hydroponics can be questioned. Take that ease and comfort away, though, and the tune changes rapidly.

America has been blessed for a long time, in no small measure thanks to the sacrifices of those we honor this weekend in general and Monday in particular. But a little rugged individualism never hurt anyone and it would be interesting to bring such an event to our part of the peninsula.

Addressing the crowded stage

A few months ago, sensing the GOP may have up to 15 candidates in the race, I wrote about how the Republican presidential primary debates should be structured. With the addition of several candidates over the last month – I have 15 now listed on my sidebar – that may become a reality.

So the question is how these debates will be structured. According to Matea Gold in the Washington Post, Fox News will only take the top 10 in an average of national polls for their debates, while CNN will do the same with a twist – giving the bottom-feeders their own forum as well.

And forum seems to be a more operative word because there are a number of issues these candidates will agree on. Of course, the moderators (with the possible, but doubtful, exception of Fox News) will likely concentrate on the issues they perceive will create the most “gotcha” moments for the Democrat’s campaign to exploit – look for questions on social issues, repealing the most popular aspects of Obamacare, and “tax cuts for the rich” to lead the way, along with trying to get the candidates to throw George W. Bush under the bus.

My thoughts on the contenders buying their way into a debate and splitting the field into three (or more) groups, randomly selected, is one thing. But commentator Dan Calabrese believes in the flip side: “Get rid of the debates. They’re stupid.”

These meat parades are about the silliest spectacles ever to rear their heads in politics, and let us count the reasons this is true:

1. They are not debates. A debate is an argument between two people who disagree about something, or about many things. These are attention-grabbing contests in which each person on stage is trying to convince you of the same thing – that he/she is the true conservative, the true heir to Reagan, the true believer in small government, the real tax-cutter, whatever. Or they’re looking for the opportunity to say that someone else on stage (or maybe everyone else in stage) is not those things. I’m not sure what you call that, but I know what it isn’t, and that’s a debate.

2. The media should have no role in this performance theater, and certainly not as the “moderators.” Having them there simply makes it a glorified joint press conference, but it’s a bizarre press conference in which the people holding the press conference have no idea what they’re there to talk about, because the media could ask them about anything from Syria to health care to boxers vs. briefs. (And they will.) When the media rides its hubris for all it’s worth, you remember the media more than you remember the candidates. Bernard Shaw. Candy Crowley. Unless they want to run, get them off the stage.

3. Momentary anomalies come to define candidates in ways that should never happen. Rick Perry was the worst victim of this I ever saw. A momentary mental block kept him from recalling one of the three cabinet-level departments he had proposed eliminating, and the brain freeze was instantly seized upon as the end of his campaign. Which it was. That was crap. Say what you want about whether Perry would make a good president, but anyone can lose their train of thought in a moment, and what usually happens is you say to someone, “Hey, I’m having a mental block, what was that thing?” And they tell you, and you say oh yeah, and that’s that. It has nothing to do with your ability to do the job of president, nor does your reaction to someone’s zinger or a brief look of surprise that someone decides to call a “deer in the headlights moment.” These isolated events are stupid and irrelevant, and yet they are used to define you by people who are stupid and should be irrelevant.

4. We never learn anything. In fact, we often come away from a debate more ignorant than we were when it started. If you want to know a candidate’s position on something, go to his web site. If you want to know the legitimate criticisms of him, research that independently. If you judge anyone – positively or negatively – based on what they can say for themselves in a span of 30 seconds, you should be disqualified from voting.

I’ve often said that a candidate can’t (and shouldn’t) be judged on a 30-second commercial, but the sad fact is that a majority of voters do just that. It definitely bothers me because I lay a lot of time and effort into the process of selecting my candidate based on how they address the issues I care about and document my search – unfortunately I reach but a tiny fraction of the voters even one 30-second spot on a cable news network would (with the possible exception of MSNBC, where my readership may match their viewership.) Even if a half-million people actually watch the GOP debates, all the negative statements and gaffes (like Perry’s) are immediately beamed to a much larger audience.

Yet if we don’t have these forums, there is the question of whether certain issues would be addressed. I realize this can lead to pandering to a particular audience, which is a complaint I’ve had with some local forums such as the NAACP ones, but at least it’s understood going in that the audience will be listening for the answers to their particular concerns. If I had a forum, I’m sure I would ask a certain roster of questions, too, and sometimes when I attend these events I indeed have my questions asked.

So there’s really no fair process in place. Eventually the problem will work itself out to the extent that a few candidates will be out before the leaves change color, but Calabrese has a point.

My contention and wish, though, is that people do their due diligence in determining who they would vote for. I don’t think this was done sufficiently in the last two Presidential elections, so look at what we got. Granted, neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney may have been the answer, either, but I think we hardly could have done worse. Go back to 2007 and I can tell you why.

Shorebird of the Week – May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

Let’s face it – if a minor league player puts up a slash line of .196/12/67/.635 OPS, comes from a relatively small and unheralded baseball program, and wasn’t drafted until the 29th round, the chances of extended employment generally are bleak. Yet all three describe Conor Bierfeldt, and the Orioles’ faith in him after his struggles with Delmarva last year has been rewarded thus far with an improved average and the South Atlantic League RBI lead for Conor, who leads his now-injured teammate Alex Murphy, 36 to 28. No one else has more than 26 knocked in.

It’s not that Bierfeldt can’t drive in runs – the 67 he drove in last season led the Shorebirds and he was among the NYPL leaders in both home runs and RBI when he played with Aberdeen in 2013 – but the average had to be a concern, particularly when he hit .264 with the Ironbirds. While “on pace to” is always a dangerous assumption, so far Conor is working toward 15 or more home runs and well over 100 RBI over a full season. In 208 pro games Conor has 29 home runs (and plays home games in a notoriously tough park for home runs, as just 5 of his 17 Shorebird home runs have come at home), so it’s obvious the longball potential is there.

So it looks like Bierfeldt is making the adjustments needed to maximize what Buck Showalter likes to call the “contact to damage ratio.” A team can live with a .236 batting average if those hits drive in runs – as an example, I snapped the photo above after his only hit of yesterday’s game, a 2-run triple. The 1-for-4 performance only fractionally affected his average, but the 2 knocked in allowed him to pad his league lead and opened the scoring for the day, staking Delmarva to an early 2-0 lead (although they eventually lost 6-5.)

If you look ahead for Bierfeldt, there’s a reasonable chance he may not be here the full season to see if he can secure that RBI title. Making the adjustments to increase his average is the key to moving up, and there are a couple weaker links in Frederick’s outfield which could be replaced. We’ll see if Conor rewards the Orioles’ patience with him as the season develops.

Political perseverance

By Cathy Keim

I have just returned from two trips to see family in Georgia, Florida, and California. I saw all six of my grandchildren in a three week period. I put aside all my usual responsibilities and just enjoyed seeing family. However, I could not put aside my thoughts of what will my grandchildren’s lives be like? Change is in the air. Everywhere you look you see chaos and systems stretching to the breaking point. When will the turmoil explode into our lives and how will that affect our children and grandchildren?

The question that I have posed to many people recently is: Do you think that this is what the 1930’s felt like? People knew that trouble was brewing, but what could the individual do about it?

Richard Fernandez takes a stab at setting the current stage of events and offering possible actions to take in his excellent two part post on PJ Media. I hope that you will take the time to read his posts as I found them very helpful.

He agrees with my feeling of a system that is about to break. In the face of the rapidly morphing ISIS, he sees the nation-states floundering and becoming more totalitarian as they try to control events. There are many problems converging on the bloated liberal western governments that make them unable to adapt to the changing times, but the Muslim jihadists could be the final straw.

The liberal politicians will try to manage the crisis by seizing more and more of our liberties in the name of security. He projects this as a done deal, but his proposal about what to do to survive that and to bring back a civilization for our grandchildren caught my interest because many of us that are trying to have an impact on our government sometimes feel defeated by the lack of positive results.

Fernandez states:

The challenge before ordinary people is to join actions which will help Europe and North America work its way through this coming episode of psychosis. In general three survivable exits from madness can be attempted.

  1. Reforming the system through regular political action in a way similar to how the British went from absolutism to a constitutional monarchy. The old system replaces itself with new parts in a more or less peaceful process;
  2. Creating “monasteries” of survival by establishing affinity groups which preserve culture, technology and values from submergence in the wave of chaos;
  3. Flight to the frontier. Creating technology that will allow some people to physically escape or hold off barbarism.

Reforming the system through political action is probably the most obvious response and the one people will most commonly use. It means engaging in thankless, often fruitless interaction with the generally dishonest political class, but while it will never deliver as much change as one hopes, it will never be completely fruitless. It does something. Whether it can do enough to help us avoid the crisis entirely remains to be seen. But it should be tried. (Emphasis mine.)

There is the call to action for all of you who regularly pick up your phone to call your representatives, write thoughtful emails to be read by disinterested staffers, attend hearings and public sessions to state your case, and write letters, articles and blogposts to educate and motivate your fellow citizens. He covers it all in that paragraph.

The constant disappointment when your representative votes the wrong way again, the easily discernable ruses the professional politicians use to cover their lies, and the irritation when a staffer is rude or implies that you are uninformed are all familiar to anybody that dabbles in politics. For those of us that are called to action in this area, enjoy a small chuckle at how succinctly he covers the whole array of political malfeasance, but remember that we must keep trying.

Eventually the wheels will fall off the progressives’ vision of utopia. They can continue to try to perfect mankind by increasing their control over our thoughts and actions, but at some point the money will run out, the debt ceiling cannot be increased again, and the barbarian hordes will breech the defenses. At that moment, the progressives will finally see that the myth of the perfect man living in harmony with others is not possible on this earth. There can be no utopia.

It is at the moment that the conservatives will need to step in and guide the shattered remnants of Western Civilization to begin again or the new Dark Ages will descend. So, take a deep breath and prepare to call our politicians to account. We must keep trying to work with the system we have to prevent this dire scenario. The stakes are high, but our Founding Fathers never said it would be easy. They struggled to birth this nation. We must struggle to keep it.

An assessment of the current situation

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

Here is a question for our loyal readers: Now that it is mid-May, do you think that the GOP elites in Washington, D.C. have fulfilled their campaign pledges to stop President Obama’s fundamental change of our country?

Michael and I have voted no on that question and to make our point we have signed the Open Letter to Congress: Interim Assessment from the Citizens’ Mandate. (Our signatures are on page 5.)

I wrote about the original Citizens’ Mandate on monoblogue back in February. After working hard on the 2014 elections, many of us felt great relief when the GOP won by a landslide. That feeling was quickly replaced by a sense of betrayal with the passage of the CRomnibus budget and the retaining of John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The Citizens’ Mandate was a call to the GOP leadership to remember their campaign promises and to fulfill their obligations to their voters.

Instead, as the organizers of the mandate stated:

Contrary to the Republicans’ self-assessment of their first 100 days… more than 100 conservative leaders, in only 72 hours of signature collection, have given the Republican Congress a poor assessment on the members’ performance in their first 132 days in control of the legislative branch.

Among the actions by the GOP Cathy and I disagreed with, they:

  • Funded executive amnesty;
  • Continued Obamacare;
  • Jeopardized national security (by not addressing illegal immigration);
  • Ceded away treaty power on a nuke deal with Iran;
  • Continued excessive federal spending;
  • Undermined faith-based agenda;
  • Helped Obama (by confirming Loretta Lynch as Attorney General);
  • Continued federal education;
  • Punished conservative champions (through changing committee assignments), and;
  • Neglected congressional oversight.

While Congress is doing some things right, there’s a tremendous amount of untapped potential we are missing out on. It’s a reason that other vocal critics such as Richard and Susan Falknor of Blue Ridge Forum, Carroll County GOP Central Committee member Kathy Fuller, and former Delegate Michael Smigiel (who is running for Congress against the incumbent Andy Harris), and conservative commentator Dan Bongino have signed on. Bongino was quoted in the release, noting:

It’s way past time to reinvigorate our party and set forth a set of guiding principles. For too long we’ve been lost in partisan games while forgetting that, in the end, it’s the ideas that will take us to a better tomorrow.

Some may argue that Barack Obama received his electoral mandate in 2012, but it’s just as valid (if not moreso) to make the point that a course correction had become necessary and the results showed the message was sent emphatically in 2014.

Our call is for Congress to translate that message in legislation and oversight. Certainly there’s the prospect of veto after veto, but rather than get the reputation as a “do-nothing Congress” put the onus on the President to respond and – whatever you do – don’t cede any more power to the Executive Branch. We don’t want to have to sign an updated letter in the fall, so get busy.

Another chance to pick Rick?

Say what you will about Rick Santorum, but in the 2012 campaign he ended up being the last man standing against Mitt Romney because he carried a number of states in the South and Midwest – states which are the backbone of the Grand Old Party’s national strategy.

And if you judge by the e-mail he sent to his Patriot Voices supporter list, it appears as if he will try it again in 2016:

A few days ago, Politico referred to me as the “odd man out” of the Presidential race.

A few weeks before that, they referred to me as an “underdog.”

Yet another outlet recently asked, “Is Rick Santorum losing his core audience?”

I haven’t even announced my intentions for 2016 yet, and the mainstream media is already piling on in an attempt to scare me out of the race!

Michael, can you pitch in a generous gift to my testing the waters committee right now and show them just how wrong they are?

These “mainstream” journalists seem to have forgotten that just three years ago, I won the Iowa Caucuses after visiting every single one of the state’s 99 counties.

It’s no surprise that the inside-the-beltway media elites don’t want me to run for President. If 2012 taught us anything, it’s that a strong conservative message paired with passionate grassroots supporters like you wins elections.

Now they’re trying to convince the American people that I can’t build on that success.

I know they’re wrong. I know you know they’re wrong.

Now help me prove just how wrong they are.

On May 27th, I’m going to announce my plans for 2016. And if I decide to run for President, I need a strong grassroots base of support from people like you ready to get to work with me from Day One.

Let me know you’re in by pitching in a generous gift right now.

Thank you so much for your support!

I’m not going to send any money, but it’s worth repeating that I voted for Rick in 2012 (mainly because those I really preferred were already out of the race, but still…he got my vote.) Whether he can hang on to that same coalition which propelled him to primary victories in those states he won is the question, though.

Rick inherited much of the same electorate which supported Mike Huckabee in his unsuccessful 2008 bid, but Huckabee’s already made it known that he’s in the race; meanwhile, the younger and more dynamic Ted Cruz has also built up a following. With new entrants seemingly jumping in weekly (like Bobby Jindal forming his exploratory committee today) there’s not much room for error nor a lot of time to build up a war chest.

It seems that the debate stages are getting more crowded. And while the naysayers on the Left compare this race to a clown car, the joke may sooner of later be on them as the GOP receives a battle-tested candidate against the one who was given the crown.

A ‘loophole’ is only bad if the government thinks it’s being stiffed

For what is being described as “financial stakes (that) are small, (yielding) just $3 million to $4 million annually.” the Washington Post sure has its collective panties in a wad over the prospect Larry Hogan may veto the “travel tax.”

When I did my last look at the idea, I didn’t really know how much the difference was to the state. Now that I know it’s only a rounding error in a $40 billion budget. the prospect of Democrats (and, sadly, a handful of Republicans) trying to fill in this supposed budget hole looks to me like a “gotcha” moment set up by General Assembly Democrats who will turn around and bash Hogan for enacting the “travel tax” in four years – after all, if they can perpetrate the fiction that school funding was cut this year (never mind the increase of over $100 million) they can make up anything to tell unsuspecting voters that the sky is falling.

But it’s really funny to me that the Post considers this a “travel agent loophole” and “undeserved windfall” when it’s actually a legal transaction. Even the Post admits it:

Rather than collect sales taxes from the agencies based on the actual prices they charge customers for hotel rooms, most states have accepted a reduced payment based on bargain room prices the agencies manage to negotiate with hotels.

That’s as it should be, so it sounds to me like General Assembly Democrats have some sour grapes. The transaction in question is at a reduced rate – why should the state collect the sales tax on the full rack rate if the place of lodging offers the rooms first to a reseller at a lower price? There is no gun being placed at the proverbial head of the hotel or motel to sell the rooms to an online travel agency; they can go it alone and try to market themselves without a middleman. (Hence, loyalty programs and other perks provided by hotels who prefer to keep bookings in-house.)

But it’s obvious that many hotel chains prefer the assurance of knowing they would get something – a “something” that is about 60 to 70 percent of full rate – for a room which will be paid for many times over before the paint dries on the renovation or new construction based on future reservations already on the books. Chances are your room rate is really paying for the employees who check you in and take care of the rooms moreso than the bricks, mortar, and furnishings in the facility, and that factor can be adjusted easily by management. (To use a local and somewhat extreme example, just drive through Ocean City in January and note how many hotels and motels shut down completely for the winter. No one is there to pay for the bricks and mortar, so no employees save a caretaker and maintenance are needed.) So even getting a reduced rate from a travel agency which reserves the rooms just in case isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a cause for complaint by a state which hasn’t completely given up the attitude that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine, too.”

Conversely, to use another traveler analogy, you won’t hear the Post (or any of their liberal allies) tut-tutting if gasoline prices go up and the state collects more sales tax as a result – no one there would consider that an “undeserved windfall” for the state. I’ll explain.

Should the per-gallon tab for gasoline go up another 50 cents (as it has over the course of the last few months, from about $2 locally to north of $2.50) the state will make up the $4 million “lost” by vetoing the “travel tax” in no time. A 50-cent per gallon increase, as we have already had, nets yet an extra half-penny to the state per gallon come July as an additional 1% gasoline sales tax increase takes effect then. Just based on that 50-cent gas price increase alone coupled with the 1% increase (to 3%) – hence, the half-penny – and assuming the state consumes 7 million gallons per day (probably still in the ballpark despite these old statistics), they will make an “extra” $4 million from what they could have anticipated receiving when 2015 dawned in less than two weeks.

Yet the Post will not throw a pity party for motorists – I guarantee it. Ignore their whining and leave the hotel room rate system be.

Next Page »

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  • The Road to 2016

    Maryland Primary Election will be April 26, 2016.

    President:

    Republican:

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    Carly Fiorina
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    Mike Huckabee
    Bobby Jindal
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    Hillary Clinton
    Martin O'Malley
    Bernie Sanders
    Jim Webb

    Other possibles:

    Joe Biden

    U.S. Senate - Maryland

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    Chrys Kefalas

    Democrat

    Donna Edwards
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    U.S. Congress - Maryland District 1

    Republican

    Andy Harris (incumbent)
    Mike Smigiel

    Delaware State Primary Election will be September 13, 2016. (Presidential is April 26.)

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    Republican

    Colin Bonini
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    Democrat

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    U.S. Congress - Delaware

    Republican

    Hans Reigle

    Democrat

    John Carney (incumbent)

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