Wicomico Lincoln Day Dinner rescheduled

After lengthy negotiations with the former Governor’s staff, Governor Ehrlich will be speaking at our rescheduled Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, April 3rd at Salisbury University. I’d presume the time remains the same.

With the rumor brewing that the state’s former chief executive will finally announce his candidacy on Maryland Day (March 25th) this may be part of an extended initial campaign swing by Ehrlich. Other local and state GOP candidates will also get a chance to briefly introduce themselves to the GOP partisans.

Those who made reservations for the snowed-out February 6th event are encouraged to attend the rescheduled event. Details will follow for those who cannot make the new date.

Count on a nosy government

February 28, 2010 · Posted in Liberty Features Syndicate · 1 Comment 

Since 1790, every 10 years the federal government has come around to count every American in an effort to determine proportional representation. This is dictated by Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution and it’s one of the rare instances the Constitution has been rigidly followed throughout our 230-plus year history.

In March, most households will receive a fairly short form intended to provide the information the government needs to determine these Congressional districts. (Others get a longer form which asks a number of questions about living situation, income, and other personal items.) In either case, though, respondents are asked about much more than the number of people living in their dwelling.

Consider the 10-question short form most Americans will receive. While Question 1 seeks the essential information about how many occupy the subject’s residence, other questions on the short form ask about home ownership, gender, and race.

More importantly, the government database being created also has name, age, date of birth, and telephone number. While the Census Bureau vows that the information collected will be kept secure, one has to wonder just how private this information will remain in an age of hackers and identity theft. Remember, none of this information is truly necessary to achieve the mandated purpose of determining population numbers for proportional representation.

In truth, the Census facts and figures have grown to meet purposes far beyond the intentions of the Founding Fathers, just as the size and scope of the government they created has. According to the Census Bureau, the status of living arrangements is asked because the answers are, “used to administer housing programs and to inform planning decisions.” Similarly, the age and date of birth are used for, “forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security or Medicare services,” and the gender question is asked because, “many federal programs must differentiate between males and females for funding, implementing, and evaluating their programs.”

But even the obvious reason for the decennial count has fallen prey to overt discrimination on the part of bureaucrats in Washington, for it’s not Question 1 which determines the proper number of representatives to Congress per state, but Question 9.

And what is Question 9? It asks the race of each person in the household, yet,”state governments use the data to determine congressional, state, and local voting districts.” So much for the colorblind society those in power claim they wish to create. Instead, these numbers are used to create monolithic voting districts which forever doom minorities to second-class status.

The Census Bureau website claims that the count is necessary because, “(e)ach question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country.” Their radio spots talk about the need to respond because otherwise we’d not know if a school grew enough for new classrooms or if a town needed a traffic signal. They conveniently forget, though, that there’s other less intrusive measures to come up with the appropriate figures. As always, it becomes a question of following the money.

It’s been said many times in several variants that, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” We see the results of pitting groups against one another – a weakening of freedom and an erosion of liberty.

In response, we should call on our leaders to return the Census to the noble purpose for which it was intended and not continue using it as the wedge it’s become. While it’s not advisable to ignore the Census, we should think twice about just what information we share with Washington.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Yes, I’m serious – when the form comes I’m only answering Question 1 (and Lord help the person responsible if they send me the American Community Survey.) This cleared LFS back on February 18 and was featured in at least one small paper up in Minnesota.

Republicans united?

February 27, 2010 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Senator Watch, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Republicans united? 

As the Church Lady would say, isn’t this conveeeeeeenient? I talk about Republicans divided in an op-ed then talk about uniting hours later. But Daniel Vovak makes a good point at a time when unity would be necessary.

The Republican Primary on September 14, 2010 has produced a spirited contest for the office of U.S. Senator, facing the probable Democratic primary winner, Barbara Mikulski. According to official reports and announcements, on the Republican ballot will be seven candidates, including: Carmen Amedori, John F. Curran, John B. Kimble, Daniel W. McAndrew, Jim Rutledge, Corrogan R. Vaughn, and Eric Wargotz.

Daniel “The Whig Man” Vovak has proposed a “Statement of Unity” for the Republican candidates to sign, and has pledged $250 to the primary winner, should that person sign his form. Vovak says, “Although I will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010, I was a candidate in 2006 and I remember perfectly well how Michael Steele treated the primary as a mere formality, never reaching out to any of his nine primary opponents, which hurt our Party in November 2006. In 2010, it’s a different situation because the Republican primary is a wide-open contest. It’s not that Maryland Democrats have been successful, it’s Maryland Republicans who lose statewide seats through internal division. Once these candidates unify behind the primary winner, any Democrat can be defeated.”

Vovak says that following last week’s U.S. Senate candidates’ debate in Montgomery County, every Republican candidate sought his support.

(snip)

In spite of losing statewide (among Central Committee members who selected a new party chairman in the wake of Jim Pelura’s resignation last year), Vovak sincerely congratulated (current MDGOP Chair Audrey) Scott following her decisive win and offered his help. Vovak says this “Statement of Unity” is something he practices and believes. He says, “If I had won the chairman vote, I would have proposed this same Statement to position Republicans for winning, long before Election Day. I have no doubt Audrey Scott shares the same goal.”

Currently, three of the seven candidates have indicated they will sign the Statement. Because Vovak has not been able to speak directly with all of them, he said he will wait until all have been given ample time to respond before releasing their names, though those candidates can speak freely at any time with their supporters and the media, should they desire to do so.

Within the Maryland Republican Party Constitution, under Article 11, Section 2, d(2), Maryland’s Republican Chairman must show no “partiality or prejudice” towards any Republican candidate before a primary. Article 2, Section 2 states that the Party “works towards the election of Republican nominees.”

It’s an admirable goal, and perhaps we will see all of the contenders sign this agreement before all is said and done September 14.

But this election is somewhat different than Steele’s 2006 campaign as there is no de facto favorite. A couple have run previous bids for the Senate that drew little support (Kimble and Vaughn, both also-rans in the ’06 race with Vovak) and a couple others are perhaps dark horses due to lack of name recognition or fundraising prowess – I’d put Curran and McAndrew in that category. The other three (Amedori, Rutledge, and Wargotz) to me are the leading contenders, with Amedori perhaps being the “establishment” candidate based on her tenure in the House of Delegates.

I happen to agree that the Maryland GOP shouldn’t take a stand to support any candidate pre-primary. I know some disagree with me because they fear the voters may select some David Duke-esque radical as the party’s representative but I place a lot more faith in the party electorate than apparently these officials do. I already lived in one state which tried to bribe and cajole good Republican candidates like Ken Blackwell out of the race to avoid primary fights and I don’t want a repeat in Maryland.

Since the reports of Barbara Mikulski retiring were apparently premature, it looks like whoever survives the primary has the uphill fight of knocking out the entrenched, reliably liberal incumbent who may be keeping the seat warm for Martin O’Malley once he’s through being governor.

I believe there is a scenario possible where, if Mikulski wins and O’Malley loses in November, Barbara could retire in early January and Martin O’Malley could name himself  successor (or a placeholder to keep the seat warm) just before his term were to expire – leaving the possibility of two new Senators from the state in 2013 as Ben Cardin also runs for re-election in 2012 and the seat held by Mikulski is opened up for a special election by current state law. I think Martin O’Malley has aspirations beyond being Governor and this would be an opportunity for him to go national.

All that has yet to be seen but in any case it’s good for Republicans to put up a united front as they campaign to upend the Democrats’ apple cart this November.

Republicans divided

February 27, 2010 · Posted in Liberty Features Syndicate · 2 Comments 

At a time when the political winds should be at their back the Republican Party may be ill-poised to make the electoral gains conventional wisdom and history dictate they should at this fall’s midterm elections.

Nowhere was this more evident than at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, better known by the acronym CPAC. One case in point: Rep. Ron Paul, who showed outstanding fund raising ability but few votes in the 2008 Presidential campaign, won 31% of the vote in a straw poll of preference for the 2012 Presidential nomination. The 76 year old Texas Congressman beat out such luminaries and former candidates as Mitt Romney (who had won the previous three CPAC straw polls), Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee was also critical of CPAC, an event he skipped for the first time in several years, noting that the gathering had taken a more libertarian turn and focused less on conservative social issues. He also pointed out that the numerous TEA Parties had taken some of the luster off CPAC – however, over 10,000 participants registered for the event, making its 37th edition the largest ever.

There’s no question the TEA Party movement, which began with rallies about a year ago and became popularized by a nationally televised rant from CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, has affected the GOP over the last year. While these newly-minted political advocates helped secure Chris Christie’s and Bob McDonnell’s victories in their respective New Jersey and Virginia races for governor and financially put Scott Brown in a position to be elected to the Senate, they also created a rift in the New York 23rd Congressional District race, allowing a Democrat to win there for the first time in over a century. Certainly this movement has caused GOP Chair Michael Steele no shortage of headaches during the first half of his two-year tenure.

Of course, Democrats have taken notice and are attempting to use this rift to their advantage. In Nevada, embattled Senator Harry Reid received some help as a group billing itself as the Tea Party placed a candidate on the November ballot. Organizers of the actual TEA Party movement in Nevada claim they know nothing about candidate Jon Ashjian or the ten people who are listed as the Tea Party’s slate of officers. Yet the group obtained the required 250 signatures and filed the requisite paperwork under the Tea Party moniker. Reid needs the third-party assistance as recent polls show he trails two of the leading GOP contenders, Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, by double-digits.

With a mindset of fiscal conservatism and dislike of President Obama’s agenda, those who comprise the TEA Party movement seem like the Holy Grail of supporters for the Republican Party. But many in the GOP establishment dislike the libertarian streak present among TEA Party participants while social conservatives like Huckabee fret their pet issues will continue to get short shrift. And TEA Party protesters themselves dislike many Congressional Republicans who supported unpopular Bush-era policies and entitlements, dismissing them as “Democrat-lite.”

Perhaps herding cats would be an easier task, but to win in November the Republicans will have to walk the tightrope of appeasing their existing base while integrating the TEA Partiers by appealing to their fiscal side. But TEA Partiers don’t mind the Republicans being the “party of no” because they fear the effect of President Obama’s statist policies, so standing firm in opposition and not heeding the siren song of “bipartisanship” with the unpopular Obama agenda may be the key to turning over Congress this fall.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

With a personnel change at LFS, apparently they are holding on to these for far less time. This cleared on Tuesday – tomorrow you get last week’s op-ed.

Friday night videos episode 24

February 26, 2010 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Inside the Beltway, Local Music, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Friday night videos episode 24 

After a week off to recharge the batteries, FNV is back with a good mix of politics and music once again.

Health care continues to be a sore subject in Congress. But while Democrats used the sob story to make their point yesterday, our side adds some facts to the emotion. This comes from the fine folks of Americans for Prosperity:

As I often ask, which Americans are against prosperity?

The health-care summit yesterday was a dud; then again that was the expectation from Republicans like Rep. Michele Bachmann. From the Washington News-Observer:

And the National Republican Congressional Committee added a dash of humor to the “Blair House Project”:

Yet there is other news on the conservative front as well. Last week over 70 conservative leaders got together to sign the Mount Vernon Statement. Here’s what I thought of it
but the players had their say as well. Again from WNO:

Nor have they forgotten foreign policy. Our best UN Ambassador in recent times spoke to WNO about his thoughts on the Obama relationship with the world.

If you follow me on Facebook you know what I’m usually doing Sunday nights at 9:00 – listening to Local Produce on the radio. This remake of “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” (originally done by the Charlie Daniels Band) is done by one of the co-hosts, Bob Daigle, and a couple of his friends. He definitely has an interesting YouTube channel!

The second of two music videos tonight is fresh stuff I recorded last Saturday at the Brumbley Haiti benefit. The sound quality is markedly better, and not just because Not My Own played well. Maybe I’m finally getting this video recording stuff!

That’s a wrap for another version of Friday night videos – hope you enjoyed it!

Do we need bipartisanship?

February 26, 2010 · Posted in National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Do we need bipartisanship? 

Yesterday those Americans who were treated to the Blair House health care summit saw a President who told Congress that his time was more equal than theirs and snippily retorted that the 2008 campaign was over when John McCain made a point challenging one of Obama’s assertions.

Obviously the two parties have a very different perspective on what needs to be done with the healthcare issue, and the American people don’t necessarily agree with either side. Same goes for a number of other issues like the (so-called) stimulus, environment, energy independence, and foreign policy.

But this generation isn’t the only one who has wrestled with difficult issues. Over portions of four different centuries Americans have disagreed over a table, in a chamber, and even on a number of battlefields that include a few in our fair state of Maryland. Our Founding Fathers were divided into two camps, Federalists and Anti-Federalists, who made their case through debates and competing pamphlets – perhaps that was the internet of the day.

So what we are going through isn’t really new – I’m sure you could have even found a few folks back in the day who thought George Washington was a horrible President.

Yet there was also created with our system of government a system of checks and balances, and perhaps the three-legged stool isn’t standing so straight these days. With one party controlling the legislative and executive branches, the lone check on their power is the judiciary branch whose highest court hangs with a delicate balance of conservatives vs. liberals – should one of the conservative justices falter it’s possible that the next high court member could tilt the entire court in the opposite direction.

Once again we sit at a precipice which can determine the direction our nation will take. We in the political business are fond of using (or overusing) the phrase, “this is the most important election in years/a generation/our lifetime.”

In this case, though, the hyperbole may be true. If Americans elect a solid conservative majority we would see perhaps the quickest partisan turnaround in history, going from a solidly Democratic House to one run by Republicans and the onetime filibusterproof Democratic majority in the Senate coming down to possibly a split 50-50 body where Vice-President Biden may have more to do than snooze through a seven-hour long summit.

Some decry the loss of what they consider thoughtful moderates in each body, but over the last several decades we’ve seen moderation continue the helpless drift our nation has endured from republic to tyranny, with the federal government controlling more and more of the pursestrings and determining who wins and who loses in business and society. I don’t mind bipartisanship as long as it works in a manner that promotes the conservative, limited-government, Constitutional direction I believe the country needs to progress in. A 218-217 spilt in the House between parties is fine, but I truly want 435-0 conservative.

There is a core of about 100 Congressmen and maybe 20 Senators who deserve to be re-elected, in my opinion. The rest can be retired as far as I care.

In my lifetime, we’ve had a total of about 4 years when Republicans controlled both legislative branches and the exceutive branch (the pre-Jeffords jump 107th Congress and 108th/109th Congresses) – but conservatism hardly advanced because too many people said we had to be “bipartisan.” Bipartisanism has its use, but to me it’s a question of philosophy over party and what we need is a philosophical overhaul of Congress this year and the executive branch in 2012.

Rutledge gives his report

February 25, 2010 · Posted in Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Senator Watch · Comments Off on Rutledge gives his report 

I’ve given quite a bit of attention to U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Eric Wargotz of late, but there’s others in the race – I’m particularly interested in finding out more about former Delegate Carmen Amedori.

But the other day I received my first “Rutledge Report” in my mailbox and one passage jumped out at me:

In (the) 1920s President Harding faced unemployment numbers doubling from 2.1 million to 4.9 million, excessive governmental interference in the market creating a 24% plunging gross national product, and $25B national debt.  By taking a hard stance, he reduced government spending in half, cut taxes, and watched unemployment numbers drop to a low of 1.8% in 1926.  (Not-So-Great Depression by Jim Powell.)

Today we face similar problems the country faced at the beginning of Harding’s administration. Unfortunately Congress continues to pass legislation creating more government jobs, increasing the national debt and the burden on tax payers.  Businesses have frozen plans for growth because the uncertainty of future costs of hiring an individual. 

We need to follow Harding’s example.  To create jobs and reduce unemployment we must take two simultaneous steps NOW: cut taxes and cut government spending!  We can kick-start the economy by abolishing the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax.  This will keep the money in the hands of the consumers and businesses giving them the freedom to choose their own path forward.  A simultaneous cut in government spending, and not just a freeze, will free-up revenue to pay off the ever growing national debt.

The road ahead is tough and Americans do not back down from challenges!  Now is the time for action – cut taxes and cut spending.  Place into office candidates willing to lead Americans down the tough road.  We can and will get through this together.

While I admire the Senatorial candidate giving a little love to one of my home state’s native sons, perhaps he needs a little bit better research. President Harding died in 1923, so Calvin Coolidge became President. Coolidge served out the remainder of Harding’s term and won election in his own right in 1924, pounding Democrat John Davis and Progressive Party candidate Robert LaFollette by securing over 54% of the vote. (This was back when the colors were proper too as this electoral map shows.)

Anyway, those policies began by Harding were continued by “Silent Cal” and some of this prescription could be enacted today. The biggest difference, though, is that the federal government of Harding’s era didn’t have nearly the entitlements our modern day government has – these Republicans has no Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid to deal with (let alone legions of regulators in a number of agencies.) The Washington of the 1920’s was still a sleepy Southern town.

But we can and should cut spending and taxes. The Americans of the roaring ’20’s enjoyed great economic prosperity, at least until the stock market crash in 1929 (essentially, a price bubble similar to that in real estate or dot-com stocks.) What turned a simple market correction into a depression, though, was enacting the steep Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930.

The current set of economic doldrums can be traced in part to a different sort of government intervention and lack of oversight as Democrats prevented a probe of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac several years ago. Once the housing bubble burst, our financial house of cards tumbled down and government overspending has been of little help in resolving the problem.

So why not harken back to Harding for solutions? Just stay away from influence-peddling (as in the Teapot Dome scandal) and things could be all right.

Perhaps correct but symbolic

February 25, 2010 · Posted in Campaign 2010, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Perhaps correct but symbolic 

This comes from Delegate Don Dwyer, who represents Anne Arundel County in the General Assembly. He’s seeking to impeach current Attorney General Doug Gansler for a recent decision of his:

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, the Attorney General released an official opinion allowing out of state same sex marriages be recognized under Maryland law. This action circumvents and usurps the authority of the Maryland General Assembly.

In 2007, after months of discussion and debate, Maryland’s High Court determined that the issue of same sex marriage was up to the General Assembly to decide.

By his actions today, the Attorney General has clearly violated his oath of office and has usurped the authority of the General Assembly.

Delegate Dwyer said, “Attorney General Gansler has violated the public trust by his actions and he will be held accountable.”

It goes without saying that this won’t go far as Republicans don’t have the necessary votes to bring the impeachment matter through. But it also brings out the differences of opinion regarding marriage and perhaps is a legitimate question about the separation of powers.

At its root, this is a case where the public sentiment may not be reflective of the sentiment of the General Assembly. Only its most liberal members would truly want to be on record supporting the concept, while Democrats from more conservative areas like the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland would be squeamish at best to support their fellows along the I-95 corridor should a bill legalizing same-sex marriage come to the General Assembly floor. This is why we haven’t seen that push, particularly in an election year.

So Gansler, in effect, is taking the bullet for his fellow Democrats since his odds of being re-elected in a statewide ballot are significantly higher than those of individual Democrats in conservative-leaning districts. At the moment, there’s no Republican running against Gansler. He also knows that the impeachment demanded by Dwyer won’t stand a chance in the highly partisan General Assembly so the decision was made knowing that he won’t be held accountable for it.

AFP has ‘action packed’ meeting

Tonight, Julie Brewington was speaking to “my favorite people in the world.” I presume that comes after her family, but that was how she opened up the February meeting of Wicomico County’s Americans for Propsperity chapter.

Now that the group had a regular meeting date and location, over 60 attendees had the opportunity to hear a number of speakers in a briskly moving program. One thing the group wasn’t going to do, though, was send a bus to tomorrow’s Blair House meeting even though the national AFP was protesting at the site.

Yet, noted Julie, “if it weren’t for us, health care would’ve passed in June.” Our focus, though, was going to shift a bit to more local issues since “the only votes that matter are at the city, county, and state level” in 2010. “We have power in local issues,” added Julie later.

The two most immediate concerns were finding volunteers to attend city and county council meetings and helping to organize the Salisbury TEA Party April 15 – we need people with “organizational skills.”

The meeting was then turned over to a number of speakers, first up being Ed Urban representing the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. He started right out by saying he approached the county years ago with the suggestion that these operations be run like a business and they put him in charge of doing so.

Deftly keeping the conversation away from the recent purchase of five acres to expand the Civic Center’s parking lot (better known to my readers as Pollitt’s Folly) Urban instead spoke about the economic impact the WYCC creates along with other aspects of the county’s tourism, parks, and recreation programs.

The tourism department combined with the Civic Center creates $20 million in “rollover” economic impact. The county’s tourism bureau is supported by a room tax of 6 percent, with 2/3 going to pay for tourism programs and 1/6 to help the WYCC. Parks and recreation essentially support themselves through user fees, with the only county fiscal input being that of paying for the administrators.

But Wicomico County still has to subsidize the Civic Center to the tune of around $227,000 a year (averaged over the last three years.) The Civic Center “can be profitable,” Urban stated, but in order to be so the prohibition on alcohol sales there would have to be lifted. He noted that the site was originally slated to be a ballpark for local children, but that was built elsewhere – yet the no-alcohol clause remained.

Urban concluded his remarks by finally addressing the parking issue, saying that the County Council saw the need for additional parking; the only question was cost. There are only 900 spaces on the Civic Center lot, and any event where more than 2,250 attend would require more space. The developers who owned the land the county bought were threatening to charge $10,000 per month rent. (I’d have called their bluff, figuring that $1.5 million is 150 months’ rent.)

I asked Urban about the lifespan of the arena, given that many similar facilities only last 40 to 50 years. Urban thought that with proper maintenance the design was such that it could last several more decades – he “doesn’t see a 40 to 50 year lifespan.”

Speaking for the opposition, County Councilman Joe Holloway then briefly recounted his reasoning for voting against the purchase. It was “not a wise choice” for a number of reasons; in particular he again criticized the county’s method of land acquisition. Joe also noted the real cost to taxpayers would be $2.6 million when improvements are figured in.

Holloway also warned us that “we’re in trouble” financially because of what’s brewing in Annapolis.

John Palmer, president of the local group VOICE, spoke next. After vowing that “we will be going down to the Civic Center” and analyzing their finances, he got to the root of his presentation. In polling the audience and soliciting what we thought key problems were, the consensus was that Wicomico County didn’t spend money wisely – “unnecessary personnel” and an out-of-control Board of Education seemed to get much of the blame.

We could vote the people in charge out, but that would involve getting good people elected and those are tough to find. Instead, the approach VOICE is taking is that of petitioning for redress – “if you take control of the checkbook I guarantee things will straighten out in the county,” Palmer asserted.

The group has two ideas it would like to bring to voters: one is a prohibition on land acquisition and capital projects without the approval of county voters, and the other is reducing the number on County Council from seven to five by eliminating the two at-large posts.

Personally I don’t care for either idea.

In considering the capital improvements proposal, it seems to me that we have a representative government for a reason. While the idea of a referendum for capital improvements seems excellent in the wake of Pollitt’s Folly, the truth is that this would cripple county government’s ability to act in a timely manner. In addition, there would be the expense of frequent elections to consider as the county buys land and improves property on a regular basis.

As far as the changeover from seven County Council members to five, I don’t see where we save all that much in that the duplicity of services we already have would still exist. Obviously there’s a small savings in salaries, but I prefer the idea of having three Council members at my beck and call (my district plus two at-large) rather than one. The chances of having someone who agrees with my point politically are exponentially better this way, although I admit that since Joe Holloway happens to be my district councilman I have a pretty good advocate of my point of view already.

Palmer’s second-in-command, Johnnie Miller, spoke next – but on a completely different subject. He updated us on legislation he and Palmer have authored called the “Green Watt Program.” Based on a program in Tuscon, Arizona, this voluntary program would create a fund to promote energy efficiency. Miller noted Delaware pays a much larger share of costs for renewable energy projects; up to $31,500 for residential and $250,000 for commercial.

But one commentor made the point about government subsidy, and I think it’s a valid point. While it’s Miller’s business to promote solar panels and the like, it’s obvious that people would likely go another route for energy usage if this subsidy in Delaware (where Miller does most of his business) didn’t exist. Obviously Johnnie means well with his proposal, but if this were done by General Electric or some other large corporation we’d call it rentseeking.

Nick Loffer, representing the state AFP, began his remarks by quoting Governor O’Malley from late 2007 – “we passed a fair, long term solution to our budget problems.” Uuuuhhh, no.

His time at the podium was spent alerting us to the fact that the hearing on the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA for short – SB141 to the General Assembly) occurs Wednesday, March 3rd at noon and there would be a bus for those interested in attending the hearing or even testifying. (The bus would leave Salisbury around 9:30 a.m.)

“This is our chance to stop the budget,” opined Nick, otherwise, “a vote for this budget is a vote to raise taxes in 2011.”

Salisbury News blogger Joe Albero was next, and although I found his remarks may have been a bit self-serving he made some valid points. (Perhaps he underestimates the impact other blogs have on the conversation.)

One thing I found interesting – albeit anecdotal, of course – was his claim that Rick Pollitt said, “Joe, that will never happen” when asked if taxpayers would be paying for additional Civic Center parking at the Old Mall site. At the time, a land swap was discussed.

Having gone to Annapolis to watch testimony on sex offender legislation, Albero observed, “things are no different in Annapolis” than they are here. “I could do this (be a Delegate or local legislator),” Joe continued, but “I’m only one voice (out of many).” As commenters on his site, “we have an incredible impact on local government.”

“Things are turning around for the better,” said Joe, but we need to stay united. He relayed the fact that General Assembly Republicans had put up a budget alternative saving almost $830 million, including over $2 million just by putting a salary cap on state officials so none made more than the governor’s $150,000 salary.

The last of the slated speakers was Salisbury City Councilman Debbie Campbell, who told us “really important things were going on” in Salisbury. Mainly she decried a lack of accountability on the part of the city, and spoke of two egregious examples.

The city of Salisbury has accepted a dump truck and is using it – unfortunately they haven’t officially allocated the money to pay for it yet. And if that’s not bad enough, the Council president contracted for and signed two change orders for a $1.8 million housing project called “The Bricks” by claiming City Council approval when she had none, charged Campbell.

In all, said Debbie, the Council was “running roughshod” over taxpaying citizens, and she begged those attending, “please show up and support us.” Joe Collins later intoned that, “we’re lucky to have Debbie Campbell” on Salisbury’s City Council and as an AFP supporter.

Returning to the podium, Julie Brewington talked briefly about the issue of infiltration – the TEA Party movement was so successful that the opposition isn’t ignoring it anymore but trying to destroy it from within. She mentioned the ersatz Tea Party in Nevada, which gave me the opportunity to enlighten the group on the particulars of the situation.

Another observer, S.J. Disharoon, spoke about the lack of dialogue at Salisbury City Council meetings and thought we as a group should press for a rules change to allow more opportunity for the public to interact in a timely manner, not just after all is said and done.

G.A. Harrison related his recent experience with the GOP Central Committee regarding something he found offensive and told those gathered a Republican “has to earn your vote…Conservatives need to take back the GOP.” I agree!

Finally, Bob Harris brought up the two ways a referendum can get on the ballot – either by petition or by vote of the County Council. He encouraged the County Council (since Joe Holloway was still present) to put two items on the ballot – one for disclosure of members of a LLC which does business with the county and the other to start the process of getting an elected school board, to which Joe Holloway replied he “fully supports” an elected board of education too.

These meetings generally turn out to be rather long and a lot is said. But they’re really worth the time to cover because I feel that most of my readership has been crying for leadership on these and other issues and the AFP is attempting to provide it on a nonpartisan basis.

Buying votes seems to be a Democrat pattern

February 24, 2010 · Posted in Red County National · Comments Off on Buying votes seems to be a Democrat pattern 

Speaking from the safety of civilian life and not seeking political office, former GOP Senator Mel Martinez of Florida told the Hotline in a Tuesday interview that he could have named his own price to support last year’s stimulus bill. But he noted instead, “I wanted a better bill.”

Expressing that talks with the White House on the stimulus left him “disillusioned,” perhaps this issue was one thing which hastened his surprising departure from the Senate last year. It’s also worth noting that while Martinez avoided a Florida version of the ‘Cornhusker kickback’ Florida Governor Charlie Crist still liked the stimulus as it was. Now it’s costing Crist in his Senate race against upstart Marco Rubio.

One also has to ask what GOP Senators Snowe, Collins and Specter (now a Dem) who crossed over to vote with the Democrats got for their votes? Likewise, in scrutinizing the jobs bill which just passed the Senate, people should be asking what Ohio, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Maine are getting as bribes for their support.

Yet this revelation brings up a more general question about how Democrats and the White House are attempting to push their legislative agenda through. Certainly, Congress has always been a home of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” horsetrading of favors, but when you consider the Democrats won Congress in 2006 in part by vowing to clean up a “culture of corruption,” the outright bribery which they’ve engaged in to get their legislation passed doesn’t match the image they campaigned on.

The GOP is on the right side of issues as the “party of no” and voters are now paying attention to what bribes and favors the White House and Democrats are dangling in front of soft Republicans to gain a bipartisan fig leaf for their unpopular legislation. The Martinez example shows what the acquisition and pursuit of total power has done to the Democrats, and voters need to remember this come November.

Weekend of local rock volume 29

February 23, 2010 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Normally I put these posts up on the weekend and save the weekdays for more serious political items, but since there was a charitable element to most of this post I decided to push the date ahead a few days.

I saw 13 acts in a span of about 48 hours, and all but one was doing their thing for a cause. My friends from Semiblind aren’t strangers to doing charity shows either, but in this case they were out to entertain the patrons at the Oasis Bar and Grill last Friday night and maybe make a few bucks for themselves.

When you see a band enough, you learn a few of their tricks. Jim Hogsett of Semiblind (with the guitar on the left) likes to do this stunt during 'Seven Nation Army.'

Since a lot of their friends were there and wanted to hear a couple originals, I was happy to hear the band comply. They’re over in Salisbury this Saturday night; alas, I can’t make that show.

I did make this one on Saturday evening though:

Your event in lights, courtesy of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

Walking in, I heard the jazz-tinged rock of The Permilla Project.

If you listen to these guys you'd find they have a number of different musical influences.

They played a set mostly comprised of originals, with a couple covers thrown in. TPP is a talented group who plays the local upscale joints frequently.

Next up was the ’80’s revival of Bluelight Special.

Bluelight Special played an upbeat selection of tunes from the early 1980's. And you can't argue with the pink striped legwarmers.

Before going much farther, it bears mentioning that the half of the local blogosphere I didn’t see at the Conway/Mathias townhall I attended earlier Saturday was at this event. Several contributors to Progressive Delmarva were among the bands playing, plus I met Ridgely Griffith and his daughter Meredith (afterthegoldrush and Twirling…Towards Freedom, respectively.) Melanie of PD is the female member of Bluelight Special, so this was a good time to bring that fact up.

I certainly don’t agree with their politics but give them props for helping out this cause!

Of the bands performing, I was familiar with The Permilla Project and these guys, Not My Own.

Let's just say Not My Own kicked some serious ass and leave it at that.

After the ’80’s pop of Bluelight Special, these guys multiplied the heaviness quotient about fivefold. Yet they had a good sound about them and they were the first of the three “message” acts which played. Between sets the show featured local clergy who related their stories about the experiences they had in Haiti, with the Brumbleys, or both.

Things quieted down again with the lone solo act featured, Corey Franklin.

This picture did a good job in showing the passion Corey Franklin expressed while singing and playing.

Corey played songs which reflected his ministry, as did the headlining act, Reconcile520.

Reconcile520 brought the rock back out, although it was a more mainstream version than Not My Own featured.

What I can’t figure out about this group is whether they comprise a house band for the Uprising Church (who put on the event) or if they just happen to be church members who started the band on their own. All of them certainly show that the young whippersnappers aren’t the only ones who can rock and minister at the same time.

Unfortunately, I found out later that by missing the afternoon session I didn’t get to catch the sixth band on the bill, Proof Of Love. They had a scheduling conflict and only played the earlier session.

Most importantly, I also learned that the event raised over $1,000 for the Brumbleys’ Haitian mission. The room was about half-full for the evening event so perhaps 300 to 400 attended that show. It’s the first of what will likely be a continuing series of performances until the Haitian mission gets back on its feet.

On Sunday I attended a program with a different (but still noble) cause. The Wicomico Child Advocacy Center put on an interesting fundraiser at Chef Fred’s Chesapeake Steakhouse, and although just three bands were on the bill a total of seven acts contributed entertainment, beginning with Wes Davis.

Wes Davis didn't do any of his original work for this show, instead choosing to stick with tried and true classic rock.

After his set, we got more classics from two bands who share many of the same personnel. Agent 99 was on the bill, but many of those members also play for the band Full Circle. See if you can figure out the different players in the next two pictures.

The ladies of Agent 99 were happy to help out this cause and played a short set from the classic rock library - Kim liked their opening song, 'Renegade.'

After a short break to hear from event host Davis Ruark, several members came back to play as Full Circle. Musically there wasn't a large difference as they stuck to upbeat classic rock as well.

Between Agent 99 and Full Circle there was a short break as Davis Ruark announced the CAC will soon have a name change to honor Sarah Foxwell’s memory.

Since this was a fundraiser, there was also a silent auction. I’ve asked Davis Ruark how much was raised but haven’t received an answer yet. These items, though, weren’t moving very briskly.

One of two silent auction tables at the CAC Foxwell fundraiser.

I didn’t know this, but there were other treats in the musical bag as well. This young man is Michael Sky Chester, and at the tender age of 16 he was doing his first full-set solo.

Certainly he was a diamond in the rough, but this 16 year old held his own with his set.

Mom (a.k.a. Marla, singer/guitarist for Agent 99) had a lot to be proud of. Look for this young man to go places.

Another quick performance came from hip-hop singer Rayz, who performed a song he penned in memory of Sarah Foxwell along with another tune from his recent CD.

Rayz is a well-known figure on the Delmarva hip-hop scene and made a name for himself with his song devoted to Sarah Foxwell.

Up next was another young musician who had ties to a previous performer – Natalie Davis is Wes’s daughter.

The talented Natalie Davis graced us with a couple of her original compositions.

This young woman has a voice on her. Perhaps her and Michael Sky Chester could become a duo act – you never know in the world of local Delmarva music.

Finally, we got to hear the heavy covers of Vivid Season. If you turn on a local rock station like 93.5 the Beach or 96 Rock, you’ll probably hear a good portion of the songs Vivid Season covered.

Vivid Season took the songs on today's active rock FM dial and made them their own.

Unfortunately, their performance was marred by the lead singer being sick, yet he gamely went on with the show as best he could. Next time I run across them hopefully he’s in fine voice again.

Well, this certainly qualifies as a weekend of local rock, does it not? If I get a update from Davis Ruark or the CAC on the proceeds from the event I’ll follow up. But there was some disappointment expressed that the event wasn’t promoted better – local blogs did their part but they don’t reach a huge audience yet. We’re still in an era where promotion requires television or print exposure to succeed.

I look for each event to come back in bigger and better form next time around as the kinks have hopefully been worked out of both.

Immigration: divisive issue

In the last few days – as if fending off TEA Partiers and worrying about how new GOP wunderkind Scott Brown will vote isn’t enough – observers see a rift in the Republican Party over immigration.

Two pieces have drawn my attention. One is an article by Peter Slevin in the Washington Post and the other comes through the Center for Immigration Studies as a Backgrounder by James G. Gimpel, who is a professor of government at the University of Maryland. Both look at immigration as an issue which could permanently relegate the GOP to minority status.

But the two pieces disagree on why. Slevin and the Post, no friend of conservative Republicans, blames the hardline stance of TEA Partiers who want the borders secured and illegal immigrants frogmarched out of the country. Conversely, the Gimpel piece simply notes that, “The decline (in GOP voting share) does not seem to be associated with the local Republican Party’s position on illegal immigration.” Instead, the Gimpel study seems to indicate this has more to do with socioeconomic status and the state of politics where newly-arrived immigrants seem to congregate, large urban areas.

I’ve noted before that at the current time it’s better to not lose the base the GOP has by being soft on illegal immigration than cater to a group who is more likely to vote with their meager pocketbooks and support all the government goodies they can get. It’s going to be just as much up to the Latinos to bring themselves out of the ghetto that Democratic policies have placed them in as it is the black population’s own job to get off of the plantation Democrats have placed them on. Those who have immigrated here legally have just as much – if not more – of a stake in stemming the illegal flow as native-born Americans do.

For over 200 years, history has shown that the best way to get ahead in America is to assimilate into its culture. Certainly we can celebrate our heritage (I sure like my Polish cuisine) but the route to success over time has been to emphasize the “American” part of the moniker much more heavily than the “Polish,” “Mexican,” or “African.” In years past, immigrants were eager to shed their old ways and Americanize their first-generation offspring – now we only Americanize them insofar as striving to have them born in the United States to become “anchor babies.”

If a nation is to survive for long, it must have clearly defined borders and be prepared to only allow in those it deems worthy of entry. While I know some of my associates in the political and blogging worlds believe totally in the idea of a free market which includes providing labor, that policy has to have limitations or it will lead to chaos.

Immigrants in our history came for opportunities, and these opportunities only came to those who worked hard and were willing to sacrifice their blood, sweat, and toil. Unfortunately, our system of entitlements has brought forth a different sort of immigrants, and while they remain a few bad apples in a bunch that is still willing to work hard for little financial gain, those bad apples sap the strength of the whole.

But while the TEA Partiers are falsely accused of having a strain of xenophobia, it’s worth pointing out that the Gimbel study shows that ideology trumps race at election time among a larger and larger share of the minority population. Regardless of what the Republican Party does to attract minorities, it would never be enough for liberal Democrats to give them credit for trying. Just as we see in the black population, voting against their self-interest is becoming a problem for Latinos as well, and the immigration issue is just a red herring to the real problem of victimization practiced by poverty pimps of all colors.

Blaming the man for holding you down is a universal language.

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