Are we at it AGAIN?

Slowly percolating over this summer “silly season” of politics is yet another bid to damage the leadership of Maryland GOP Chair Jim Pelura.

The latest installment of the saga concerns Pelura’s idea to come up with a “Contract With Maryland” for the 2010 elections. Based on the 1994 “Contract With America”, the idea was to develop a list of principles Republicans in the General Assembly could push in the next session and beyond. Obviously they would need a majority to enact whatever legislation the Contract entails, but the idea is to compare and contrast the proposed and probably conservative agenda of Maryland Republicans with the tax-and-spend, business-unfriendly miserable economic and job-creation record General Assembly Democrats have compiled over the last several years.

Yet General Assembly Republicans have put up a less than robust welcome to Pelura’s plan. Perhaps they’re taking a page out of the Bob Michel playbook.

I imagine it’s not really fun to be a Republican in the Maryland General Assembly. There’s not much to do but listen to your conservative constituents complain about the state of affairs, introduce bills and amendments which are routinely slaughtered in voting, and watch the other side gleefully pass legislation to benefit their special-interest buddies.

Then again, you could be the head of the party who is routinely savaged for practically any move he makes. Have you ever noticed that no one worries about who the leader of the Maryland Democratic Party is? (For the record, their party chair is Susan Turnbull.) Of course, she is simply a titular head because the party belongs to Governor O’Malley.

Therein lies one of the problems Maryland Republicans have, and it’s reflective of the party on a national scale. With no political leader, non-political figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are trashed as leaders as is Sarah Palin now since she left the governorship of Alaska behind. They certainly get the slings and arrows from the Left and the media (but I repeat myself.)

However, the Maryland Republicans have a titular leader who’s thus far sitting on the sidelines for 2010, biding his time. It seems to me part of the frustration with Maryland Republicans comes from not knowing what Bob Ehrlich will do. Obviously the party thrived with him as Governor and many in the GOP hierarchy seem to long for the days when he controlled the party.

Perhaps the Pelura saga comes to an end once Ehrlich decides what he’ll do. In the meantime it occurs to me that the energy spent figuring out ways to snipe and undermine Pelura could better be spent going after the REAL enemy. At a time when there’s a whole host of motivated voters and volunteers receptive to the GOP message we need to focus our resources on harnessing that energy which has become available to us over the last 4 1/2 months.

In 2010 we’ll have the chance to oust a number of Democrats who talk a conservative game yet run to Annapolis and vote with the Beltway liberals. After that, the GOP can select a new Chairman because Lord knows that after the abuse he’s taken for stepping up Jim Pelura would be crazy to run again.

It’s time to worry about the enemy without rather than create the enemy within.

The deep roots of Astroturf

August 30, 2009 · Posted in National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The deep roots of Astroturf 

I really got a kick out of this posting by photojournalist “El Marco” detailing the healthcare show Obama allies put on in Denver. It looks like they’ve taken a few pointers from the “real” grassroots but mixed in a heaping helping of muscle and deceit to accomplish their goal of slick marketing and packaging.

Obviously the stakes are pretty high – hey it’s only 1/6th of our economy we’re talking about here. And the magnitude of change could be staggering by the time Obamacare (at least the H.R. 3200 version – maybe we should really call it Pelosicare?) finally kicks in starting in 2013. Interesting how that timing works because if Obama is re-elected he would be able to make things even more onerous but if a Republican is elected they would have that crushing burden to weigh down on their Presidency, especially the cost.

Essentially the health care debate has been framed in terms of who would be helped and hurt. Those on the Left don’t think anyone would be hurt but fail to realize that taking the profit motive out of anything tends to limit the willingness of non-public entities to jump into a market and eventually saps the innovation out as well. My favorite example of this is the Trabant.

But the status quo isn’t exactly perfect, particularly in the high dependence on having the cost of every procedure from a minor checkup to a heart transplant picked up by an insurance company. Obviously many are frustrated with their dealings with the insurance company and thus grudgingly become Obamacare supporters because they feel nothing but loathing for the system as it is. What they don’t understand or can’t see is that changing the health industry simply becomes a swapping of masters – unfortunately it’s a lot more difficult to escape the yoke of government than ask your employer to switch insurance companies (or eschew the plan they offer to purchase your own.)

Intuitively people seem to understand this, which is why Obamacare (as Hillarycare before) is having a difficult time gaining traction among the American public. Say what you will about the insurance companies backing the anti-Obamacare effort, but the fact that drug companies and unions are throwing millions behind socialized health care makes their efforts seem just as artificial.

All along I’ve had a problem with entities lobbying to secure a slice of a larger government because I don’t feel government should become bigger and exert more power over the public. Imagine the fighting that could occur once trillions are spent for nationalized health care and the millions some special interests will place into place to increase their piece of the action. It will make the deficit (not to mention the budget for vital national functions like, say, defense) seem pale by comparison.

Start the bus!

The Lower Shore isn’t being excluded from 9/12 mania. It’s going to blow my formatting but here’s the .jpg file in all its glory:

Americans for Prosperity is sponsoring this as yet another way for pro-liberty citizens to express their disgust with overbearing government.

I’m planning to be on the bus and hopefully will have a full report of the proceedings later that week. With this list of speakers I could spend two weeks on posts, that’s for sure!

And notice the dearth of politicians on the list? Doesn’t look like Astroturf to me!

Seats are going fast. It’ll be a bit tough to get up so early after my opening night of bowling season but we’ll have the alarms set and loud so as not to miss the bus. Be there or be square.

Paling in comparison

August 28, 2009 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Paling in comparison 

From the department of “you just gotta laugh”:

The Tea Party Express (website: www.TeaPartyExpress.org ) leaders have issued a statement in response to news reports that Barack Obama’s “Organizing for America” committee was launching a “Health Insurance Reform Now” bus tour to counter the “Tea Party Express.”

Below is the statement from Deborah Johns, Vice Chair of the Our Country Deserves Better Committee which is the organizer of the Tea Party Express.

“It is not surprising that Barack Obama’s supporters feel the need to hold a bus tour to counter the “Tea Party Express” – given the outpouring of support the Tea Party Express tour has received before we’ve even logged one mile of our tour.

“This Friday the Tea Party Express will embark on a nearly 7,000-mile journey across the country holding tea party rallies in 34 cities.  This effort marks a ramping up of the tea party movement which has shown a passion of the American people to speak out against the errant ways of their government.

“Barack Obama and his supporters believe that if they simply attempt to replicate the Tea Party Express that they can counter this powerful tea party movement.

“While we will be traveling nearly 7,000 miles across the country and rallying Americans in 34 cities, they will be holding made-for-television rallies in just 11 cities.  It’s just the latest example of the Obama administration’s obsession with style over substance.

“Americans have been hurt by the policies of this administration and Congress.  The out-of-control deficit spending, the growth in the size and intrusiveness of government, and nationalizing of whole sectors of the American economy have not made things better in this country.  In fact, the policies of Obama-Pelosi-Reid have instead made things worse, and left our children with a debt that will take an untold length of time to repay.

“We look forward to going head-to-head with the Obama bus tour on the highways as we cross America.  We welcome the challenge, because we know our ideals of smaller government, lower taxes and greater freedom and liberty for the American people will prevail when confronted by the failed policies being advanced by the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis of big government liberalism.”

The Obama bus tour, as noted, will hit just 11 cities: Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Des Moines, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Charlotte, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Columbus. Surely residents in those cities can look for it at a union hall near them since that’s a venue of choice for Democrats.

But it’s a good thing that the cities were announced because it gives the paid Astroturf brigade and purple shirts connected with the pro-Obamacare side time to hire the buses and buy the bagels, donuts, and coffee necessary to whip up a decent enough crowd. Meanwhile, the true grassroots will find a way to show up somewhere near the site or simply go to the TEA Party Express sites if they’re nearby. Just wish the TEA Party Express would extend its tour for a couple hundred miles and show up here.

Tomorrow I’ll have another way for pro-liberty readers to get involved. Fair warning: this will be a slow posting and comment moderating weekend because I’ll be busy on other projects.

Shorebird of the Week – August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · 1 Comment 

T.R. Keating scans the crowd prior to a recent game. Photo by Kim Corkran.

T.R. Keating has become a long-relief fixture for the Shorebirds as he was in this game against Hickory on July 2nd.

On a pitching staff, the glamour positions seem to be the starting rotation and the closer. But someone has to step in if a starter is ineffective and take some innings for the team to keep them in the game. For the 2009 Shorebirds, it seems like T.R. Keating has inherited that job and does it pretty well.

While he has taken the loss in his last two appearances (Sunday against Hagerstown and last night at Lake County), by no means was he completely ineffective –  allowing 2 earned runs in a combined 4 2/3 innings isn’t exactly being blown off the mound. He’s been the beneficiary of Shorebird bats at times too so his won-lost record stands even at 5-5.

For the overall season Keating is pitching pretty well and what sticks out is his stinginess with walks, allowing just 9 in 43 2/3 innings pitched. When you factor in that T.R. has allowed only 31 hits in that stretch, the 0.92 WHIP almost belies his ERA of 3.50 – seems like the few runners he allows on somehow score at a higher-than-normal clip.

Keating, whose given name is Travis Reid Keating, hails from Colorado (attending the University of Northern Colorado) and would probably be classified as an “organization player” given his low position in the draft. Last year the Orioles picked him in the 34th round and assigned him to Bluefield where he was 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 13 relief appearances covering 28 2/3 innings.

But since the numbers here are pretty similar it’s possible the 23-year-old Keating could get a chance to make the jump to Frederick next season. Obviously his control is an asset but the question will be whether it holds true as he advances in the organization and faces more patient hitters.

For now, however, T.R. is a guy who comes out and does the job he’s assigned to do without making the headlines. Unsung heroes can make a team better and as long as Keating can keep the opposition at bay and give the team a chance to win he’ll attract the notice of the Orioles brass.

Two lions lost

August 26, 2009 · Posted in National politics, Politics · 5 Comments 

Unless you’ve been under a rock today you’ve surely heard the news that longtime Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy succumbed to a brain tumor late last night. I thought there was an interesting juxtaposition with another longtime Washington figure who died recently.

Whether it was my writing skills or luck of the draw (more likely the latter) one of my Patriot Post assignments last week was to write a short obituary of Robert Novak. (You can look at it on Page 3 here.) I found it quite interesting that Novak and Kennedy were almost the same age and passed away within days of each other due to a similar cause, a brain tumor.

Both also spent the primary part of their career in the Washington political scene but came to it and prospered in different ways. Novak worked his way up through the ranks of smaller papers before finally securing a plum Washington job covering (ironically) the Kennedy Administration. After that, Novak perfected his craft and developed a reputatation as a great “shoe leather” reporter before expanding his influence to column writing, books, and television.

On the other hand, Ted Kennedy spent most of his adult life in the United States Senate, where his influence grew primarily by family name and gaining seniority. It’s worthy of note that Ted “inherited” his brother John’s Senate seat vacated when JFK became President but couldn’t legally hold the seat until two years later – a placeholder Senator assumed the post until Ted was old enough to serve.

Kennedy is best known, though, for his involvement with Mary Jo Kopechne and the Chappaquiddick coverup. Novak was best known for his gruff, pessimistic personality that earned him the nickname “the Prince of Darkness” – however, no deaths have been blamed on negligence on the part of Robert Novak. Reverse the situation and it’s likely no one would have heard from Novak again after he completed his prison sentence.

One can argue that Novak’s life wasn’t as valuable as Kennedy’s because he was but an observer on the political scene while Kennedy worked for the passage of laws which impacted American society, and as certainly as the sun rises tomorrow we’ll hear for days about the career and achievements of Ted Kennedy. But if you look at which of these giants lived a live devoted to service to his fellow man and which took advantage of a family name and legacy to perpetrate shameful acts, we may find we’re singing hosannas to the wrong victim of a brain tumor.

A growing prosperity

Tonight's AFP meeting had the largest crowd yet crammed into a meeting room at Adam's Ribs. Photo courtesy of Nick Loffer.

The current incarnation of Americans for Prosperity has a problem most groups would like to have – more people coming to their meetings than they have room for. It’s almost surprising that the fire marshal wasn’t called in once the people rolled into the crowded back room of Adam’s Ribs. Better still, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the people were new to the group.

Nick Loffer, representing the state AFP organization, began the proceedings by providing a quick update on health care, saying “it could die.” As he handed out a petition for each attendee, Loffer told the group that the Congressional leaders need to “focus on patients, not politics.”

Julie Brewington, who is the co-leader of the local AFP group (her counterpart Joe Collins is under the weather and wasn’t there tonight), chimed in with a quick history of the local AFP chapter, where things have been happening at a “fast and furious” clip. From a start involving all four lower Shore counties, Somerset County is holding their first meeting as a separate group tomorrow and Worcester County is in the process of scheduling their own meetings as well. Only Dorchester County was a little behind the curve. AFP had a goal to “become a force in local counties” and we were already having a “big impact” at Frank Kratovil’s events.

After a copy of yesterday’s Daily Times editorial regarding nighttime County Council meetings was passed out, Julie pointed out a number of other hot-button local issues AFP was keeping an eye on as well, including the prospect of speed cameras as a revenue generator and dropping Wicomico County’s revenue cap. The fiscal and accountability issues have drawn the attention of the local paper and District 5 County Councilman Joe Holloway, a supporter of evening County Council meetings who thanked the group for its interest on that topic. Brewington asserted that, “if we can’t get control of local government, we have no hope nationally.”

Getting back to more basic needs, Julie noted that the group still seeks a secretary and a committee for a chain to call members when quick action is required. They also wanted to hear comments from audience members, and several complied. It’s noteworthy as well that one couple are becoming quite the entrepreneurs by selling AFP T-shirts. Another mentioned his experience in Florida, where a local government tried to sneak through a $75 million bond issue but was foiled by public involvement – he told the group that “politicans learn the ropes at council meetings.”

The group is also getting together a bus for the 9-12 rally in Washington, D.C. – a prospect which interested many in the gathering.

Nick Loffer came back to speak on the state and national AFP situation and review tips for effective rallying.

As a state, Maryland’s AFP was “growing by leaps and bounds” (particularly on the lower Shore) and was a “force to be reckoned with.” Loffer opined that cap-and-trade was “almost a lost cause” based on who represents Maryland in the United States Senate but “we can kill” health care in the House. Nick related that “people are waking up”, citing a crowd of 400 for a Thursday night health care rally in Annapolis and 200 people already pre-registered for a health care forum in Timonium similar to one I live-blogged a few weeks back. Loffer vowed “we will play in the General Assembly” next year – opponents are already trying to discredit the group and its key personnel.

Turning to his appointed task of speaking on rallying, Nick told the group its message in any demonstration needs to be “clean, tailored, (and) crisp” because opponents will be on the attack if the message isn’t focused. In distributing a guide to effective rallying and going over its key points, Nick stressed in particular the importance of staying on message, being tasteful and courteous, and not trying to shout down opponents (or elected officials). Passion is fine but don’t let emotion cloud the message you’re trying to get across.

A few audience members checked in with their own advice. Steve Lind, who spearheads a successful AFP letter-writing campaign, related his opinion that “politicians have to face an informed audience” while another member who was at the Kratovil meeting in Mardela Springs passed along the opinion of a Wall Street Journal reporter covering the event who said their behavior was “exemplary.” Another lady told the group she thought “angry was not bad” when attending events. Nick stressed that we should “never give a free pass to any politician.”

One comment I made was to remind the group that not only should we hold politicans accountable but we should also ask tough questions of those who seek elective office as well (like I did last night.)

After Nick wrapped up, the meeting broke up into a social period, although a couple people tried to get the attention of attendees with various comments.  It seems to be the weakness of dealing with such a large group.

Upcoming events AFP will be involved in include the next Wicomico County Council meeting the morning of September 1st, the Timonium health care forum that same night, the 9-12 rally in Washington, D.C., and the Defending the American Dream Summit on October 2nd in Washington. It promises to be a busy few weeks for the group, who didn’t schedule their next meeting yet – certainly I’ll be in the loop when the date is set.

WCRC meeting – August 2009

After a month’s hiatus, the Wicomico County Republican Club came back without missing a beat for its meeting this evening. We even had another candidate seeking to unseat longtime Senator Barbara Mikulski in Dr. Eric Wargotz.

United States Senate candidate Dr. Eric Wargotz patiently awaits his chance to speak to Wicomico County Republicans at their meeting, August 24, 2009.

First, though, we had to take care of our usual business, which was pretty much standard per previous meetings.

Having dispensed with that brief introduction we got a quick Young Republican report from Marc Kilmer, who was called into duty because the state Young Republicans are also having a meeting this evening. The news Kilmer related is that Salisbury has the inside track on hosting the state YR convention next year, which should attract statewide candidates to our area and be a feather in our cap.

Bob Miller gave the Crab Feast report, which basically consisted of a plea to “sell the tickets”  and donate silent auction items – that’s the key part of the fundraiser since we never know how much crabs will cost. (Most likely the $25 cost for an adult ticket doesn’t cover the price of crabs, let alone the other good food we’ll consume September 26th.)

The Central Committee report was actually deferred to the end, but in the interest of making this a better post I’ll note that County Chair Dr. John Bartkovich praised the recent Wicomico Farm and Home Show as a “good venue” for our table there, the GOP booth at the Autumn Wine Fest will need volunteers, and as always we’re looking for good 2010 candidates for “the current (Wicomico County) leadership is not running the county the right way” and 2010 is an “opportunity” that “will be good for us.”

We also had two events plugged – the Republican Women of Wicomico County are having a membership tea at noon Wednesday, September 2nd (at the Main Library in downtown Salisbury) and there will be an Andy Harris fundraiser on September 25th at the residence of Mark McIver, with slated special guest Ellen Sauerbrey.

Those announcements also happened after our featured speaker left the podium.

Actually, Eric didn’t speak from there very long, choosing instead to spend most of the 45 minutes or so we had him on the hot seat answering questions from the 30 or so present.

Dr. Eric Wargotz, candidate for United States Senate, males a point while speaking to the Wicomico County Republican Club, August 24, 2009.

Dr. Wargotz did note that he began working at the age of 9, asking neighbors about odd jobs he could do to make a few cents. As he stated, he “started learning good old family values at an early age” as he came from a working-class background.

Regarding the upcoming race, while he had all due respect for Senator Mikulski, the race was “not about partisanship…(but) about choosing leadership.” Over the last two terms Mikulski had become “ineffective” and “not demonstrated leadership”, instead becoming “one of the problems” Maryland had to overcome. It came down to the choice between a career politician versus one who had experience dealing with fiscal, land-use, environmental, and business issues and their impact at a local level as a County Commissioner in Queen Anne’s County.

In relation to issues, naturally Dr. Wargotz was “concerned” about the health care conversation, and the topic managed to be the main subject of his overall presentation. But the first question he was asked was how he came to be a Republican.

Eric answered that he was an independent until the 1980 election, when he volunteered to assist Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and that Republican principles “appealed to everybody.” Aside from a brief detour to the other party for political reasons in the early 1990s (which he admits to) Eric has remained in the GOP fold. He also used that question to state that “I criticize any physician who’s not a Republican” because of the Democrats’ position on tort reform. But he also blasted the current health care debate because it has no discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the current system; instead the debate seems to be how to start anew.

This led to a long question which eventually asked whether the health care reform was more about government intrusion and control, to which Dr. Wargotz affirmed, “unequivocally yes.” He continued, “the issue is not access to care” – since care is mandated by law – but the “question is coverage.” Eric revealed that there is a federal stipend to emergency rooms for coverage of uninsured patients, but not to physicians.

Staying on the health care subject, Eric was asked about how the hurried impetus to universal care will unfold. While he didn’t prefer to dwell on hypothetical questions, Dr. Wargotz did say that because the push to get health care through before the August recess failed, the debate would continue at least until he was installed in the Senate.

A pair of questions unrelated to health care came up next. Wargotz would not have voted to confirm the “disingenuous” Sonia Sotomayor, and, while he was “not happy we’re there” would stay in Afghanistan and Iraq until the job was finished and they had a stable government.

I asked a series of questions based on a handout Eric had from this press release. In addressing what he considered the three health care goals of reducing costs, shortening waiting times, and improving care, he had seven bullet points:

  • Keeping government and insurance companies out of the medical decision making process.
  • Tackling frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits by capping non-economic damages thus curtailing “defensive” medical practices and reducing waste, abuse  & fraud.
  • Providing incentives in the health care system to attract more people to become health care professionals.
  • Maintaining Medicare, and expand Medicaid to cover those legitimately unable to cover their own costs of care.
  • Reforming the health insurance system: no denials based on prior medical conditions & eliminate out-of-pocket expense after fully paid premium; improved provider reimbursement.
  • Reforming Pharmaceutical industry towards fair, uniform medication pricing.
  • Portability of health insurance between states. (This didn’t appear in his original August 1 release.)

I have no problem with much of that, but desired clarification on some items such as the incentives to attract people to health care, expanding Medicaid, and the reform of Big Pharma.

He couched his answer on incentives to tort reform, asserting the the cost of malpractice insurance was discouraging young doctors from going into some areas of medicine such as OB-GYN. (In answering the last question, Eric also told us that there were plenty of qualified people out there, it’s just many choose to go into other fields like law.) That’s fine, personally I just didn’t want any sort of government bonus or tinkering with the tax code to produce desired behavior.

Expanding Medicaid was a thorny issue, and one which to me shows some political expedience at the expense of ideals. While he agreed with me that the federal government had no place in providing health care (as in Medicaid) that wasn’t truly realistic and expanding the existing program to all those eligible might only cost “a couple hundred million.” Truly, Medicaid is simply a transfer program to the states anyway. So his answer didn’t really satisfy the purist in me but very few people’s answers would (yet.) We did have a good exchange about Article I, Section 8 and the role of Congress where Eric agreed that Congress does exceed its authority in a number of ways.

In speaking to the pharmaceutical industry, Eric said the money they’re promising to Obamacare is really “protection money” but also decried the pricing of drugs in America, saying “their profit margin is approaching that of the retail jewelry industry.”

While answering that, Wargotz got on the tangent of illegal immigration, stating that it needs to be addressed at the same time as health care reform because the issues are entwined – a large number of the uninsured population is illegal. The other noteworthy comment in this stretch was insistence that government interference in personal choice is “a real problem” and constitutes a “dictatorial approach” we should avoid.

Another questioner asked about the insurance mandates such as the ones in Massachusetts. That experiment was “not working well” according to Eric, and leads to another problem if nationalized health care is passed – not enough manpower. “We have a health care manpower crisis”, noted Eric. Also regarding insurance, Wargotz also stated a preference of larger premiums but less co-pay as patients believe that having paid for the insurance they should have to pay nothing out-of-pocket – the write-offs come to thousands of dollars per year. Some in the audience disagreed, saying that the higher co-pays made consumers less likely to abuse the system; at this point Eric said he was “open” to that possibility too.

The next question came from an audience member who was at Rep. Kratovil’s town hall and was told by Frank he wouldn’t increase taxes to pay for health care – so what would Dr. Wargotz say?

First, Eric praised Kratovil for his work as a State’s Attorney but certainly he disagreed with Frank politically; this was no exception. It was quite simple – how can the government provide full coverage without a tax increase? (Well, Eric, they DO print money.) He pointed out that Frank, while a good man who he knew from working with him in Queen Anne’s County, had no previous legislative experience and may have been caught unprepared to be in this particular freshman Congressional class. Instead of leaving it to staffers to read the bill and give him the highlights, Eric pledged “I’ll read the bill first…every word, every page.” That could lead to a lot of reading, but being a doctor he was used to it.

After the question about medical school I alluded to earlier, Eric wrapped up his presentation but stuck around to talk further after the meeting – I left before he did so his dedication was apparent.

It’s clear that the GOP has at least two candidates who can present a credible alternative to the liberal policies of our state’s senior United States Senator. The question will become one of money and how receptive Free Staters will be to a conservative message given their blind loyalty to Mikulski for decades. It’s doubtful she would debate whoever wins the GOP primary so the message will have to be put out little by little to have any chance of success.

The key for Eric Wargotz (or Jim Rutledge) will be how many of the 30 people or so who came out to hear them speak will become their advocates and activists. That will go a long way toward what would certainly be an upset victory in 2010.

Sunday evening reading 3

August 23, 2009 · Posted in National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Sunday evening reading 3 

I receive an update from Townhall columnists daily, which becomes a big part of my personal reading. Now Townhall features a number of popular columnists who contribute on a regular basis like Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, John Stossel, Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, and Michelle Malkin – to name a few – but in this case I want to highlight some of their lesser-known writers who put together compelling material recently.

Let’s start with their national political reporter, Jillian Bandes, who noticed the sharp drop in AARP membership because the perception is they’re foursquare behind Obamacare.

Staying with that theme, writer Dan Gainor remarks that the peasants are revolting. As he opines, we’ve been through this before but perhaps this time there will be staying power.

Matt Towery claims to have seen this coming; to him Obama is Jimmy Carter all over again. Nevertheless, Wynton Hall writes about the mistakes Democrats continue to make (hint: it comes from their elitism.)

With the demise of “Cash for Clunkers” tomorrow, Paul Driessen wonders whether there aren’t other clunker ideas which shouldn’t be funded. Why give any more rent-seeking companies money for their schemes?

But author Frank Turek doesn’t like the leadership Republicans are providing – to him neither party is blameless for our national situation. At least the Right is getting its act together on the internet, or so says writer Meredith Turney.

Jacob Sullum recalls that just two years ago we came thisclose to having free speech like that being expressed in the health care debate regulated by a Senate bill which fortunately died.

But the best is last, although I’d change the point slightly. While Bruce Bialosky asks what are the Blue Dogs thinking, I wonder what conservative voters were thinking by electing them. They’re Democrats, for gosh sake!

Until next time, this ought to keep you occupied for awhile.

The Blue Dog dilemma

August 22, 2009 · Posted in Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

While nothing is ever cast in stone within the Beltway, a deal struck between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of fiscally conservative Democrats billing themselves as Blue Dogs put off a critical House vote on health care reform until after Congress takes its summer recess.

But much as many conservative Republicans chafed at some of the big-government excess proposed by President Bush during his eight years in office, the opening months of President Obama’s term have created some anxiety among a crop of Democrats who came into office promising fiscal conservatism and railing against a Republican “culture of corruption”. Now these Democrats endure an August break where many faced an angry constituency seething about an economy which has worsened under total control of Washington by the Democratic party and the upcoming possibility of radical changes to the nation’s health care industry.

One case in point is Rep. Frank Kratovil, a freshman from Maryland. Kratovil squeaked into office last year with only 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race, barely defeating Republican Andy Harris. Harris, a Maryland state senator, had won the nod over longtime incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in a vicious Republican primary and the race turned in Kratovil’s favor when Gilchrest crossed party lines to endorse the Democrat just weeks before the election.

But Kratovil has done little to change the perception by naysayers in his district, which begins on the eastern outskirts of Baltimore, wraps around the northern end of Chesapeake Bay and encompasses the entire Eastern Shore, that he would be little more than a “lapdog” from Pelosi and the Democrat leadership. The first among several offensive votes to Kratovil’s electorate were the Congressman originally voting against the House version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act only to switch sides for the final version, allowing the House-Senate consensus ARRA package to win passage. Kratovil also informed callers to his office in the runup to the vote on cap-and-trade that he was “leaning against” the original Waxman-Markey legislation but ended up voting for the package after securing $1 billion for agricultural interests via one of many late-night amendments added to the bill on the eve of the final House vote.

Perhaps the mood of the electorate in Maryland’s First District was summed up in a recent health care protest at Kratovil’s district office in Salisbury, where one participant carried an effigy of Kratovil hung with a noose. This sort of behavior led other Democrats to reconsider having large gatherings with their constituents during the month-long August recess.

Congressman Tim Bishop of New York, a Democrat who is not a Blue Dog member, nonetheless opted to cancel his slate of meetings during the recess, stating after a recent incident where he needed a police escort to return to his car that the meetings would be “pointless…if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.” Similar scenes have ensued at other meetings held by fellow Democrats, including one held by Blue Dog member Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida.

While leftists have derided the TEA Party movement as “tea baggers” and establishment Republicans have largely avoided throwing their support behind these spontaneous grassroots gatherings which sprang up as a protest against high taxation and government growth, much of the impetus behind this new attitude by activist voters stemmed from those April protests and their impact continues to be felt this summer, with another large national-scale protest planned for September 12 in Washington, D.C.

The Blue Dogs are among those being blamed in a summer of discontent stemming from a moribund economy and a raft of changes already enacted through a push from Democratic leadership and President Obama, including the aforementioned stimulus package, a bailout of the financial industry, and the federal takeover of Chrysler and General Motors. Having ran as fiscal conservatives, the Blue Dogs are facing the worst of both worlds – they dare not oppose the overall liberal Obama agenda lest they upset Democratic party leadership but the conservative voters in their districts who elected them despise and are enraged by the push toward bigger government.

The delay in considering health care reform may mean a long, hot August recess for the forty Blue Dogs who signed a letter in July vowing to vote against health care reform unless their concerns were met. But it will be up to conservative activists both inside and outside of Blue Dog districts to make sure Obamacare delayed is Obamacare denied.

Friday night videos episode 4

August 21, 2009 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Friday night videos episode 4 

After a week off, I’m bringing back the weekly blogisode of FNV. Senator Cardin’s appearance was pretty important and what also happened is I got an extra week of video ideas to choose from. The Senator is even featured as you’ll see later.

First of all, I love the smell of hypocrisy late in the evening, too.

 

Isn’t the age of video fun, kids? I believe our President and his allies are the masters of doublespeak.

And here’s another example of doublespeak. President Obama already has 13 million e-mail addresses in his “Organizing for America” vault, so why not a few million representing the other side?

No enemies list? We’ll see. There’s a few in this video who may find themselves on it. It’s the Washington, D.C. FOX station’s coverage of Senator Cardin’s Towson meeting. You may recall I put up other eyewitness video last week.

In a much more serene setting, Newt Gingrich weighs in on end-of-life care. Love that sigh by Geraldo at the end.

The next two videos are related. Remember the gun-toting protestor at a Obamacare “town hall” rally? While MSNBC frets about racism in the first piece, the truth is revealed in the second one.

You can argue the wisdom of carrying weapons like that, but the point is MSNBC spun a story to fit an agenda and was caught. Why do you think I preface their right-column segment with the phrase “news from the other side”?

In other government affairs, this short segment by John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is useful for the questions it asks regarding Government Motors.

Unlike the Long War, I don’t hear the Left or UAW wailing about an exit strategy in this case – do you?

Finally, I think this could be a good movie. A couple weeks back I portrayed the environmental cost of not securing our borders and another upcoming film talks further about the impact of not securing our southern border.

The mournful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner in this trailer gets me. This is probably not coming to a theater near you, but thoughtful Americans might want to check it out. Maybe the Wicomico Public Library needs to invest in a copy or two.

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and we’ll do this again next week – unless breaking news takes precedence.

Shorebird of the Week – August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – August 20, 2009 

Elvin Polanco looked pretty serious in this shot - perhaps he was pondering how to beat the opposing pitcher at his own game.

Elvin Polanco checks to see if he cracked his bat after a foul ball in this game on July 1st.

A key to the Shorebirds offensive attack all year, first baseman/designated hitter Elvin Polanco ranks among Shorebird leaders in many offensive categories.

Polanco, who shares time with Joe Mahoney in each position (on days Polanco plays in the field, Mahoney tends to be the DH and vice versa), doesn’t have the higher average in the platoon – as of this date Elvin is hitting .248 to Mahoney’s .291 – but outranks Mahoney in the power numbers with 8 home runs and 53 runs batted in. It ranks Elvin 3rd on the team in homers and second in RBI.

As is the case for most foreign-born players, Polanco signed with the Orioles at a young age (he was a month shy of his 18th birthday) and spent his first couple years of professional ball in his native Dominican Republic before making the jump over to America in 2007. That year he tore up the Gulf Coast League and was named a postseason All-Star.

After playing in Bluefield last season, Polanco is on his first full-season club this year and it’s noticeable that as the season has worn on his numbers have declined. Elvin was hitting .264/3/34 with a .655 OPS prior to the break but just .225/3/19 with a .569 OPS since.

With three weeks to go in the season, it’s not unreasonable to hope Polanco catches a second wind and can push the average back over .250 nor are double-digit home runs out of the question. After a long slump Elvin is 4-for-12 in his last 3 games so perhaps that burst is forthcoming.

Whether a late-season tear would be enough to merit a promotion to Frederick next year is a good question but at 22 years of age Polanco wouldn’t necessarily be hurt to repeat here in 2010. Elvin could be a cornerstone of the team if he’s brought back next spring.

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