Shorebird of the Week – July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – July 31, 2008 

Tyler Henson at the plate earlier this week. The righthanded hitter has struggled a bit of late but still has a healthy average.
Tyler Henson looks into the Shorebirds dugout from his familiar position, third base.

One of the higher draft picks playing for the Shorebirds this season, third baseman Tyler Henson has been a regular fixture in manager Ramon Sambo’s lineup. Drafted out of Tuttle High School in the Oklahoma town of the same name, the 2006 5th rounder is playing his first full season at the tender age of 20 (he won’t turn 21 until mid-December.)

As happens with a lot of young players, the grind of a 140-game season seems to be wearing on Tyler a little bit. Starting off at a .308 clip in April, the May average slipped to .288, June’s mark was .253, and for July Tyler’s fallen off to a .235 mark. Put it all together, though, and you have a nice .274 mark in 97 games. Henson is among the team leaders in most offensive categories with 106 hits in 387 at-bats, with 20 doubles, a triple, 6 home runs and 44 RBI. While the .690 OPS is a tick or two below average, young players like Henson generally grow into their game a little as they progress through the minors so a 20/20 type player isn’t out of the question (20 homers/20 stolen bases) – Tyler’s second on the team with his 16 steals in 18 attempts.

The numbers this year are fairly close to his Aberdeen numbers from 2007 (.289/5/31/.802 OPS in 67 games) so the Orioles can decide whether they’d like Henson to gain a little more experience at this level or move him up to Frederick in 2009. Tyler did have a cup of coffee with the Keys in 2007 but only went 1-17 in 6 games for an .059 batting mark. I think he’ll get the return trip to Frederick next season but it’s possible 2007 Shorebird and 2006 1st round pick Billy Rowell may block his way (or Henson will switch positions.) Both were signed out of high school so Henson may chase Rowell all the way up the organization, we’ll see.

For the time being, obviously the learning experience of playing in a full season will help Tyler in the future – so Delmarva fans should enjoy watching the scrappy Henson while they can.

The resolution of nothing

July 31, 2008 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items · 10 Comments 

Today was the day the local court case Webster v. Albero was supposed to be heard, but it was not. In short, the allegations by Salisbury’s police chief against a local blogger were settled in a “non-monetary” fashion instead of having its day in court.

The main issue I wanted to have resolved in this case was just where the line is drawn between news and opinion on the internet. While Albero’s website is dubbed Salisbury News, it’s prominently noted at the site that it’s “opinionated only.” Other contradictions of this sort occur when Albero covers local events as a news reporter would and is even given press privileges by some local organizations and newsmakers. (You can see for yourself, I link to the site under “Delmarva Bloggers”.)

In general, his site has a number of contributors who vary in quality of writing and usefulness of information. And while he’s done some top-notch investigative reporting over the lifespan of his site, Joe is also just as likely to place articles on Salisbury News which don’t pass the Snopes smell test. He also has a regular routine of placing up the area law enforcement blotters and other local news releases as a local newspaper would.

A recurring theme, though, is his dissatisfaction with the mayor of the city of Salisbury, Barrie Parsons Tilghman, and her administration. (Ironically, Albero is not a resident of Salisbury but does own property within the city.) Over time, this has turned to a vendetta against all things Barrie Tilghman and led to both the Webster v. Albero civil suit settled today and an upcoming Tilghman v. Albero suit slated for hearing later this summer. Unrelated to these is another court date Albero faces for a perjury charge, as the resident of Delaware is alleged to have falsely claimed Maryland residency in a real-estate deal.

The problem for me isn’t with Albero; that just adds a local flavor to the case. A precedent would have been helpful in this brave new world of the blogosphere, and I would have preferred an Albero victory because had Webster’s side prevailed it would provide a chilling effect to bloggers who wish to be critical of public figures but aren’t anonymous, either by choice or by being outed in the process of running their website. Of course, I also fall into the group of non-anonymous bloggers as opposed to the still-unknown “Martin Watcher” who does O’Malley Watch, a popular blog aimed at broken promises from the Maryland governor.

It should be known though that Albero isn’t an angel in this case, as he’s made his own threats against those who spoke out against him and his website, including this writer. As a rule I don’t go into personal attacks because this site is much more issue-oriented; however, there’s been some people I’ve been critical of in the past and the threat of larger, more powerful entities squelching the freedom of speech rights of smaller ones through threat of personal or financial ruin isn’t completely out of the question for any of us. Settling the case leaves a void that anyone can fill insofar as what rights bloggers have to freely speak out.

One thing that has to be admired though is the marketing genius and buzz that’s been created for the Salisbury News site, which was prominently featured in the news stories regarding the suit. Albero has also created, by hook or by crook, a cottage industry of sites dedicated to taking him down a notch because of his bombastic style. (Full disclosure: I occasionally crosspost to one such site, called Pro-Maryland Gazette. This post will become an “occasionally” later on today or tomorrow.) On the other hand, there’s also a number of “Joeys” who swear by his site as the real news source in town, not the Daily Times newspaper or two local television stations. (The numbers I’ve found show, though, that Salisbury News only reaches a fraction of the audience either the Daily Times or local television news does – however, that’s not uncommon as only about 6% of Americans regularly read blogs. Much larger percentages watch TV news or read newspapers.)

What I truly wanted was a little guidance in defining our media role. The tagline of this site is “news and views from Maryland’s Eastern Shore” but my proportions of each are vastly different than what Salisbury News puts up. Unfortunately, having this case settled as it was leaves more questions than answers so I guess I’ll keep on doing what I do, attempting to provide insightful commentary on political issues of the day.

Disclosure problem number 835,428

July 30, 2008 · Posted in Campaign 2008 - Congress, Mainstream media, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Disclosure problem number 835,428 

Yeah, I made up the number, but after reporting on State Senator Ulysses Currie’s issues the other day it seems like one could do a national blog solely on all the violations of ethics issues and failures to fill out disclosure forms properly. Another longtime Maryland politician was snared by the disclosure trap last week, according to this AP story recounted in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail newspaper (h/t: PolitickerMD).

At issue is Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6) and his failing to report over $1 million in property sales since 2004. Of course Bartlett, a Republican in the process for running for his ninth term, blamed the discrepencies on a combination of reasons, including his own inattentiveness. However, there is no indication that Bartlett failed to pay any taxes due on the capital gains, which would be a more serious no-no than the possible fine and five years’ imprisonment that falsifying a disclosure report could carry. Bartlett promised to amend the disclosure reports to reflect the correct information, a typical response when caught by the press.

While I’m not excusing the Bartlett omissions, the biggest difference between this failure to accurately report home sales and State Senator Currie’s allegedly not reporting his Shoppers Food Warehouse income is that Currie was in a position to do favors for the company he worked for, whereas Bartlett was nailed on issues derived from the acquisition and sale of his own private property. (And the fact that the “drive-by” media is digging up this issue, which dates all the way back to 2004, close to election time makes me wonder if someone in that newsroom isn’t a Jennifer Dougherty supporter.) Insofar as I know, Bartlett didn’t use his position to catch a discount on the purchase or enhance the sale price on these properties – as opposed to Barack Obama cutting a bargain with the help of convicted criminal Tony Rezko or the two Senators, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who had a sweetheart deal with Countrywide Mortgage to finance their home purchases. (Conrad’s property in question is not far from here, over in Bethany Beach, DE.)

While there’s now an effort to add mortgages to the myriad of items required on these ethics reports, again I have to question the purpose behind portions of the reports in the first place. After all, most of those in Congress had already made their fortune prior to getting into office so it’s not necessarily enriching them improperly if they have a home or investment suddenly increase in value. While it’s good to know about some items that are owned by public officials, such as stock in a company who could benefit from legislation before Congress (or the General Assembly), I’m not that fond of other ethics laws on the books, like restrictions on gifts that can be accepted, as long as the gift-giver is disclosed.

I’m brought back to the overarching argument I began in the Currie piece, the contention that these issues would abate if there were less in the governmental pot to distribute to certain friends, enriching all of them from the public trough. Bartlett’s case doesn’t enhance the argument as much as Currie’s, but the fact that these sorts of things make headlines continually add to the perception that those in public office are someplace south of honest in their dealings.

Two Harris messages

July 29, 2008 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2008 - Congress, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Two Harris messages 

This came in my e-mail, and I thought I’d share. On Sunday I talked about the 90 second spot that the Harris campaign played prior to the fireworks last Friday. My description of it was “well-done and on-point,” we’ll see if you agree.

(By the way, I noticed that the video in the next post will also begin to play, so scroll down and pause that one if you want to see Andy’s spot first.)

What’s also unique about this commercial is that it’s a one-shot deal, although there’s always the opportunity to take snippets of it for other spots.

The other interesting note I got was that the latest Rothenburg ratings came out and the Maryland CD1 race is not considered one of the top 64 tossups in the country, despite being an open seat. Now perhaps this is due to a number of retirements pushing those races ahead but I think a better reason is the recent poll showing Harris with a 16-point lead in what has been a traditionally Republican area.

Of course, Frank Kratovil isn’t going to pack it in nor would I expect he and his supporters to do so. But I’d expect a little more fine-tuning of his campaign, and he began a focus shift a couple weeks back by releasing a revised energy plan. It focuses on five areas, some of which expand on his original emphasis on alternative energy sources.

Perhaps the one which demonstrates the lack of clear economic thinking on Frank’s part was his jumping on board the anti-speculation bandwagon. At the time of the plan’s release oil was close to $140 a barrel and much of the blame was being placed on speculators bidding up the oil futures market. But those same speculators have reacted to newly created market forces and oil has slipped toward the $120 per barrel mark. In theory, a little more decline in price to the mid-110’s and the oil market could be considered a “bear” market (using the same standard as the stock markets are judged by.) Would it be prudent to regulate only the speculators who bid the price up?

Kratovil also repeats the same old saw about the 68 million acres oil companies lease but do not produce on. What’s not clear is whether there’s even oil in these places – after all, the oil companies can lease my backyard but chances are I’m not going to become the next Jed Clampett. It’s the places which we know oil and natural gas are found that seem to be the areas Frank and his allies want to maintain as off-limits. He even throws in the scare tactic of envisioning oil derricks off Assateague Island when in reality the distance from the shores would be 50 miles offshore. The proposed wind farms off the coast of Delaware would be much closer to shore.

So there you have two energy plans – one which can fill your tank and the other pretty much pie-in-the-sky. It’s no wonder Harris enjoys a 16 point lead in the polls because people get his approach and not Frank Kratovil’s.

America’s not mad, it has ‘NozzleRage’

July 29, 2008 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics · 3 Comments 

Note to readers: my site doesn’t have theme music, there’s a video below. This actually did better than an embed, and you can pause the video until you finish reading.

Yet another relatively unknown (but hoping not to stay that way) political effort which has popped up over the last few months is dubbed “NozzleRage”. In its own words, their goal is to:

NozzleRage is a video campaign designed…to make clear what is happening to this country and its drivers.  Its goal is to channel the fury most Americans feel into effective action. 

The first of a series of 30-second NozzleRage videos features an OPEC gas pump ripping off and then attacking an ordinary American consumer.  It directs viewers to the NozzleRage Web site where they can register to view upcoming videos and find out what they can do to end our suicidal vulnerability to OPEC’s oil cartel.

NozzleRage’s message is supported by a number of the nation’s leading advocates for energy security including Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. (of the Center for Security Policy).

While Gaffney provides the political gravitas to the group, the video in question was done by the Zucker brothers (think of the Naked Gun series of movies, Airplane!, or the short-lived but hilarious TV series Police Squad!). Gaffney also did a recent op-ed in the Washington Times about a concept known as the “Open Fuel Standard”, legislation that is in the Congressional hopper but probably won’t see any movement until they return from the August recess.

Here’s the Zucker brothers’ first video contribution to the cause:

Now it will be interesting to see what happens when I post tonight whether the video will still play! It does.

Another redistribution I question

A regular reader of monoblogue sent me a tip about Maryland’s grant program for solar and geothermal energy programs – while the fiscal year just began on July 1st, he noticed on the WBOC website an AP story out of Annapolis which stated the entire $591,000 devoted to this year’s grant allocation has already been spoken for.

While J.M. surmised that I should “burn the O’Malley Administration a new asshole,” personally I think that in a time of budget shortfalls that these programs of dubious benefit need to be among the first to be axed. I question the value of these subsidies and why they should be required to make solar or geothermal more competitive with conventional heating sources – both of these systems should be able to sell themselves on their own merits if they’re the best thing since sliced bread; thus, no grants should be necessary. Obviously the state of Maryland, in its haste to consume as much of the green Kool-Aid as possible, feels otherwise.

According to the story, interest in the systems has been piqued because the state raised the maximum amount of each grant. HB377 pegged the grant figures thusly:

  • The lesser of $2,500 per kilowatt or $10,000 for newly installed electrical generation capacity (up from $3,000 or 20% of installed cost);
  • The lesser of $3,000 or 30% of installed cost for solar water heating (up from $2,000 and 20%);
  • The lesser of $1,000 per ton or $3,000 for a geothermal system on residential properties (up from $1,000);
  • The lesser of $1,000 per ton or $10,000 for a system on commercial properties.

Two major changes in existing law were the addition of commercial properties to grant eligibility and a sales tax exemption for solar and geothermal equipment (again, regulating behavior through the tax code.) So not only did $591,000 go to this grant program, the state made no sales tax on the thousands of dollars of equipment that was sold – if all of the $591,000 was sold as equipment that’s a loss of about $35,000.

I’d also be interested in knowing just who got these grants, and where their political contributions were made. While I’m sure many were on the up and up, something tells me a few friends of O’Malley managed to have their homes redone with solar or geothermal heating on the state. In fact, if the state of Maryland continues to insist on skewing the home heating market with grants like these, part of the deal should be a nice large sign placed in public view at the property in question detailing exactly how many tax dollars were given to the property owner.

This was one of the bills I considered for my Accountability Project but opted not to use – probably because the House votes were near-unanimous (137-0 and 140-0) and the Senate vote was 42-5 (Vote #1168). I already had 35 Senate votes so the bill wasn’t deemed as high of a priority as others making the cut. (By the way, Senator Andy Harris’s “environmental” record would be enhanced by this vote since he was in the majority – one of the few votes I would have disagreed with him on. The five voting properly against were Senators Della, Exum, Greenip, Mooney, and Pipkin.)

Of course, because the money ran out so quickly the state is sure to increase the pot for FY2010. In the meantime, look for utilities to pay for supplying more grant money as the AP story mentions the possibility of funding from an upcoming greenhouse gas allowance auction (yep, cap and trade rears its ugly head on September 25th.) Meanwhile, the home heating market becomes more tilted in favor of so-called renewable technology, a subsidy we’re going to pay for in more ways than one.

A Maryland veteran’s endorsement

July 28, 2008 · Posted in Campaign 2008 - Congress, Maryland Politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

I don’t live in Maryland’s Eighth District, but some of you who read my site surely do. And while he has quite the uphill battle against an entrenched incumbent, apparently Dr. Steve Hudson is no stranger to battles as a Naval veteran. Recently he was endorsed by a worthwhile group I’ve cited before, Vets For Freedom:

Vets for Freedom is proud to announce its support of Steve Hudson for United States Congress in the 8th District of Maryland. Steve is currently a Commander in the U.S. Naval Medical Corps, who served on active duty from 1990 to 2002. As a highly decorated veteran, some of his military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation. Vets for Freedom applauds Dr. Hudson’s commitment to continue his public service as a member of the United States Congress.”

“As a proud Army veteran of Iraq, I am humbled to speak on behalf of over 27,000 members of Vets for Freedom in offering our strong endorsement of Steve Hudson for United States Congress,” said Vets for Freedom Chairman, Pete Hegseth. “Steve understands that the fight we are currently undertaking in Iraq is essential to our success in the global fight against Islamic extremism. He recognizes and acknowledges the success of our current military strategy implemented by General Petraeus, and has been a steadfast source of support of all the men and women who are winning the Global War on Terror. Our country needs more people like Steve in Washington.”

With 27,000 members, Vets for Freedom is the largest organization of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in America.

Dr. Hudson released the following statement: “I am honored to have the support of Vets for Freedom, and as a U.S. Naval Officer, I am fully committed to defending America and our allies against terrorism. I will be a proactive voice for veterans and for American freedom.”

For more information, visit the Steve Hudson for Congress website at www.stevehudson2008.com.

So what does his opponent, incumbent Democrat Chris Van Hollen, say about the Long War?

“Rep. Van Hollen has opposed President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq and has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s failed foreign policy. He warned long ago that the war in Iraq has distracted America from the fight against those who did attack our nation on September 11th 2001, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, who continue to gain strength along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Rep. Van Hollen believes that America’s national security depends not only on the might of our military but also on the power of our example, and that we must rebuild our credibility and moral standing around the world.”

Okay, Chris, let’s all go sing Kumbaya together. Considering we’ve been an example of freedom and liberty for over 200 years, apparently there’s some in the world who just don’t quite grasp that concept and instead want to do us harm. You really should be happy that there’s a large number of Americans, certainly some from your very district, who wish to defend our freedom and indeed exhibit our credibility and moral standing on a daily basis.

Maybe Van Hollen needs to have a group called “Doves against Freedom” endorse him, certainly it would be appropriate given his attitude and record. This may be a case where I could add some races to my “others of interest” list along the left-hand column, the Vets for Freedom PAC has selected a number of good candidates across the country to support and it’ll be interesting to track how they turn out and introduce my readers to these contests.

Pictures of Andy

On Friday night I was one of about 6,000 folks who got the opportunity to shake hands with and maybe briefly discuss an issue with Congressional candidate Andy Harris. Here’s just one example.

Congressional candidate Andy Harris (center, in yellow) talks issues with interested voters at the Delmarva Shorebirds game, July 25, 2008.

I’ve been around politics long enough that these gatherings aren’t totally foreign to me, but as a peripheral member of the media it still intrigues me how much attention is drawn when the campaign comes to town. It’s an especially telling part of media coverage that there’s strength in numbers – we have a very hard time trying to get coverage for WCRC events but something on the order of the Tawes Crab Bake or Friday night’s Shorebirds game drew media like flies, as you can see in my pictures below.

Prior to an interview, Congressional candidate Andy Harris engages in some joviality with the FOX 21 reporter and crew.

It’s also worth mentioning that Andy had a special guest in former (and maybe future?) Governor Bob Ehrlich. One of the two Harris palm cards available at the game showed Harris and Ehrlich side by side, and you can look for more of the same in future literature.

A small army of media was present to picture Congressional candidate Andy Harris and former Governor Bob Ehrlich together.

From what I gathered, during the day a film crew had followed Andy around in his travels, and one of the tasks they were trying to accomplish was a new campaign commercial, part of which featured a number of supporters in the background. This shot was taken while they were filming the spot so there will be a number of familiar faces to me in the commercial whenever I see it. (Maybe someone will send it to me so I can embed it in a post, assuming I can get that to work! That’s called dropping a hint.)

Andy Harris and a few of his friends taping a commercial during the Shorebirds game.

Finally, I have to ask the question: can Shorebirds vote, and is Sherman old enough to do so? I know a dog ages 7 human years for each year in its lifespan, so what about big orange birds? At least he has a voting residence in the district since the Bird Pen is up beyond the third base-side bleachers.

Even Sherman the Shorebird got into the Harris spirit. Can Shorebirds vote though?

I have no idea what Andy spent on the evening’s fireworks and festivities but he did have a pretty good attendance Friday night of just over 6,700 folks. They got to see a well-done and on-point 90 second commercial just before the fireworks show, so it was definitely a captive audience. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about it was the Shorebirds laying goose eggs offensively and losing to Lexington 5-0. With only 20 home games remaining, it’s doubtful Frank Kratovil can put together a similar event but we’ll see.

This is also the debut of another new category called “mainstream media.” It’ll cover posts which pertain to the “dead tree” or “drive-by” media coverage of a person or event. I suspect it will be a frequently-used category as Campaign 2008 continues into its last 3 months.

Just like the old saying

I think it’s true, absolute power does corrupt absolutely.

Over the last few months, a story has been percolating about State Senator Ulysses Currie and his involvement with the Shoppers Food Warehouse grocery chain. The upshot is that he’s allegedly on their payroll but did not disclose that fact as required by state ethics laws.

Since Currie is a Democrat, obviously the Maryland Republican Party has some choice words about the situation. Here’s Maryland GOP Chair Jim Pelura, in a release titled “Pelura Renews Call For Currie To Step Down“:

Recent news disclosures indicate a wider investigation of Senator Ulysses Currie than previously thought and reveal interaction among other Democrat officials in Prince George’s County and throughout the state. Chairman Pelura responded to the news:

“In light of these recent revelations of influence peddling and ethics violations, the Maryland Republican Party strongly renews their call for Senator Ulysses Currie to resign his post as Chairman of the state’s power Budget & Taxation Committee while the investigation is ongoing,” Pelura said. “While Currie has not yet been charged with a federal crime, he has clearly violated state ethics laws by hiding his employment as a lobbyist for a large supermarket chain.”

“I also want to commend Senate President Mike Miller for following our lead in pushing for Senator Currie to stand down until this investigation is resolved,” continued Chairman Pelura.

In light of the litany of investigations and ethical lapses (Mayor Dixon, Senator Currie, County Executive Johnson, and Senator Nathaniel Exum), Chairman Pelura also recommended a serious review of Maryland’s ethics laws. “State lawmakers should be calling for committee hearings on ethics laws. Trust in government is vital and Marylanders need to be able to trust in their leaders,” concluded Pelura. “That is why the Maryland Republican Party is committed to supporting and electing candidates for the Governorship, General Assembly, and federal offices that embrace the concept of open, honest, and clean government.”

While Jim has done a fine job of tying all of these corruption cases together, he’s missing the main point. I’ve not pored through the entirety of the Maryland Code, but I’m certain that there’s a number of ethics laws already on the books which deal with disclosure. In what he’ll probably say was a “terrible lack of judgment” in his mea culpa, Currie has apparently chosen to flaunt the laws to maximize personal gain. SFW had to be aware of what Currie did for a living when they hired him, but it was Currie who is accused of not reporting the connection – when SFW needed something Currie provided.

The main business of Annapolis (and their larger cousin down the road, Washington D.C.) is lobbying. Between the two places, thousands of people buttonhole lawmakers daily, hired guns for whatever group has the money to give them for advocating their side of the issue. When Congress or the General Assembly is in session, you can have the business lobbyist in the office one hour and follow that up with the union’s hired hand moments later. They all demand a piece of the pie by wanting some amendment made or regulation tweaked to shift things in their favor – that’s why SFW paid Currie big bucks, because he was high up in the Budget and Taxation Committee.

But if you place less money in the hands of the government, there is less incentive for those lobbying groups to play their games. While Currie appears to be an unsavory character, there’s few who are unassailable when given the opportunity to be enriched through public service. The cynic in me simply thinks that some are more honest about their graft than others.

I guess what I’m attempting to argue here is that we wouldn’t need as many ethics laws if there was less to be unethical about. Take the coming boondoggle of the mortgage bailout – the only reason that it’s occurring is because this is an election year. The same goes for Senator Coburn being thrown under the omnibus by many of his fellow GOP Senators, as they abandon principles for enhanced re-election chances. In the meantime, how many lobbyists have earned their paychecks by enriching one group or another at taxpayer expense?

Years ago there was introduced a little foreign car called the Yugo. It was an awful car; however, the advertising tagline touted its no-frills, $3995 price and called it “the road back to sanity” compared to the sticker prices Detroit was charging at the time. I think the road back to sanity in our state and country has to start with shedding many of the frills and putting some of these lobbyists back into making an honest living. Perhaps Senator Currie could become the highest paid cashier at Shoppers Food Warehouse and earn his check in a more proper manner.

Seven reasons to vote for McCain

One of my fellow dittohead bloggers is the “ultimate blogging machine”, Bob McCarty. He has a humorous take on an Obama supporter’s blog post with what the original blogger termed seven reasons to vote for Barack Obama. Those seven reasons in original order are:

  • The Obama campaign has spent significantly more on staff salaries than John McCain’s.
  • Because of point number 1 above, McCain’s “ground game” is seriously lacking.
  • Obama has made his a 50 state campaign.
  • The opportunity to make Democrats a “true governing majority.”
  • Campaigning in traditionally “red” states will make Obama a more effective leader.
  • A situation like 2008 doesn’t come along too often.
  • The time is now for a change of leadership that can last a generation.

Like Bob says about the last point, that’s a scary thought.

I pointed this out about a month ago, but several of the original blogger’s (David Mauro and a site called Burnt Orange Report) reasons are based on the fact that Barack Obama decided not to accept public financing of his campaign. It also allowed me to argue that this election will really come down to a handful of states, and if Obama campaigns in states like Utah (where McCain should win handily) or here in Maryland that’s probably a waste of his resources, or, in our case, a sign that Obama is desperate. Back when Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee, it was noted by one of the speakers at our state GOP convention that if Hillary was campaigning in Maryland after Labor Day, it was a sign of trouble. The same goes for Obama.

With the caveat that we’re still three months away from the election (and with both candidates probably getting a polling bump from their convention, Obama moreso than McCain), the fact that polling is essentially even nationwide shows that a lot of people still have doubts about the “messiah” Obama. To hear the drive-by media talk about the campaign, Obama is being treated as if he’s up by 30 points. Maybe in Prince George’s County Obama is (in truth, the margin there is probably more like 60 points), but there’s a lot of folks still smarting about Hillary Clinton not getting the Democrat nomination and who just don’t trust the neophyte Obama.

While millions of people look at this election as yet another “lesser of two evils” one, the Obama campaign approach of vowing change while painting McCain as a third term of President Bush had some appeal, but Obama’s stances on particular issues have wasted the advantage he built up with this approach. Neither Mauro or McCarty looked at the most important reasons to vote for McCain: a better approach to energy independence and a vastly superior foreign policy. While McCain was far from my first choice, the more we find out about the alternative, the less palatable Barack Obama becomes.

Shorebird of the Week – July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – July 24, 2008 

Brian Valichka is the picture of concentration as he gets ready for a recent game.
Sporting a special red, white, and blue uniform, one of Brian's first games in Delmarva was this Flag Day game against Lakewood.

After each season a recycling process occurs in minor league baseball as organizations prune their minor league rosters, weeding out the suspects and keeping the prospects. One of the casualties after the 2007 season in the Texas Rangers organization was catcher Brian Valichka. After three seasons with the Rangers farm teams in Arizona, Spokane, Clinton (Iowa), and Bakersfield, the 2005 19th round pick from the University of Delaware (who played his high school ball in Frederick, Maryland) was released. This despite his best season of the three he played in the Rangers chain, hitting .274/1/27 in 71 games (230 at-bats) with the advanced-class A Bakersfield Blaze of the California League.

Unlike most of these ballplayers who were cast aside, Brian latched on with the Orioles organization and originally played this season with the Bowie Baysox. But going just 1-for-15 in a 7 game trial there convinced the Orioles that maybe Bowie was a little bit too high of a level for him, and at one time Valichka was penciled into the Aberdeen roster. Injuries here at Delmarva created an opening though and Brian has stepped in admirably.

Brian has made it into 22 games since joining the Shorebirds June 12th and is averaging a hit for each one. Considering he’s had 66 at-bats, the .333 average is tops among the regular players and a .913 OPS is nothing to shake a stick at either. With a .245 career mark entering the season Brian is outperforming expectations and surely has been a shot in the arm for a team which has seen three of its five catchers who have been on the roster this season spend time on the disabled list. (Knocking on wood, Valichka and Wally Crancer are the two exceptions.)

Before season’s end Brian will turn 25 – only two Shorebirds are older. This season he got a second chance to make it in baseball and with a little luck he’ll be someplace in the Orioles organization in 2009. You can’t hold the job he’s done for Delmarva against him so we’ll see what happens.

Harris, fireworks, and Shorebirds

You know, I love it when the planets align in just such a way that the potential is there for a really enjoyable time. Like peanut butter and chocolate, politics and baseball is a combination I really like but don’t have the chance to partake in as often as I’d like. (Of course, in the former case this is by choice because I like more the practice of losing weight rather than gaining it.)

Maybe I’ll buy a Reese’s peanut butter cup beforehand but tomorrow night there’s an opportunity to engage in all three of the title subjects as the Andy Harris for Congress campaign sponsors the fireworks after the 7:05 contest between the Shorebirds and Lexington Legends.

If that’s not enough right there, Andy and very special guest (you might know him, he used to be Governor) Bob Ehrlich will be greeting fans as they enter the stadium before the game. There’s also the chance to sit in a General Admission section with Harris supporters – unfortunately, a buffet dinner in the picnic pavilion where patrons could meet, greet, and eat with both Andy and Bob sold out rapidly. But certainly both of these gentlemen will at the very least circulate back and forth between the picnic area and their GA section. (Word to the wise, I’m going to pull season-ticket holder rank and sneak in a little early for this one!)

This is something I’ve been excited about ever since I found out about it a couple months back. I recall a similar event with Ehrlich supporters back in 2006 was a blast, and I didn’t even eat with the guy.

So come on out to the park, come sit with us (bring your glove, we’re in prime foul ball territory), and root the Shorebirds on to victory Friday while helping Andy Harris achieve a big win in November! Even the unionistas are welcome, at least if they’re Shorebirds fans.

And yes, Shorebird of the Week night is tonight. Only six more can be selected this season, find out who gets the nod this time at 7:00.

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