Shorebird of the Week – June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – June 30, 2011 

Jarret Martin was pitching in relief when this was taken back in May, but he's established himself in the starting rotation now.

Because last week was a short week due to the All-Star break, one could argue Jarret Martin wasn’t all that deserving of the South Atlantic League’s Pitcher of the Week honors – after all, he made just one start. Granted, it was six innings of one-hit shutout ball against Lakewood in the first game back June 23, but that may have been a fluke.

So he followed that start up yesterday with six more shutout innings against Greensboro, allowing just four hits in that span before finally tiring in the seventh and allowing two runs. It was enough for another “W” in his column and should have silenced any critics.

Placed into the starting rotation for the May 21st contest at Kannapolis, Martin was roughed up for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. He also struggled in one other start at West Virginia.

But Jarret has been “on” in his last two starts, which have pushed his overall record to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 4.47 for the season. He’s reacquainted himself with starting duty over the last month, as Martin was a member of Bluefield’s starting rotation last season – there he went 3-5, 4.07 with a 1.49 WHIP.

Still, Martin has one thing to work on. In 116 professional innings, the 18th round pick out of Bakersfield (CA) Junior College has allowed 81 bases on balls. Allowing over 6 walks per 9 innings is not a formula for success at higher levels.

And oddly enough, statistically Jarret was a more effective long reliever than starter, although the two poor starts probably inflated those numbers to a degree.

We will probably see the native Californian who turns 22 in August for the rest of the season here. But if he can continue putting together good outings such as his last two and trim his walk numbers, there’s no reason to believe he can’t anchor Frederick’s starting rotation in 2012.

Coming around

June 30, 2011 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, Polling, Radical Green · Comments Off on Coming around 

In news that’s sure to cheer my API friend Jane Van Ryan up, and perhaps build even more clamor for the Keystone XL Pipeline (and thousands of jobs) being debated by the State Department and EPA, Rasmussen released a poll yesterday which states 75 percent of Americans feel we’re not doing enough to develop our own gas and oil resources.

While the Keystone example would promote exploration in both the U.S. and Canada (hence the State Department involvement,) there are plenty of places we can explore and extract in America, both on- and offshore. An April Rasmussen survey found 50% support for drilling in ANWR  (they didn’t ask me, so now it’s a majority of 50 percent plus one;) meanwhile, another April survey pegged support for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico at 59 percent. That’s in the wake of sob stories about the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Yet we still have people in the corridors of power who think mandating more fuel-efficient cars is the way to go. I say let the market decide on that one; of course, given this administration’s policy decisions which have led the way to $4 a gallon gasoline they may all but kill SUV demand anyway.

It never ceases to amaze me that the people who believe that certain technologies, created over the last century and constantly updated and perfected to make them even more cost-effective, are a horrible blight upon the earth. And then they turn around and support the methods those tried-and-true approaches supplanted – the sun only shines an average of 12 hours a day and is at a usable angle only a percentage of that time (not to mention the need for cloud-free days) while the wind has to blow just so to make a wind turbine useful.

About the only fossil fuel I’m aware of that, by reputation, is dogged by reliability issues is nuclear power. If we were getting our own supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas we wouldn’t have to worry nearly as much about strife in other parts of the world or bad weather in a particular region of the country. Are some people too dense to figure this simple truth out?

Now I don’t mind at all if the private sector is involved with alternative energy – after all, Perdue is placing about 13 acres’ worth of solar panels behind its Salisbury headquarters, paid for by a utility – but I have to question whether the utility really wants this electricity or is being forced to back this project by government mandate. If, because of the energy savings Perdue might enjoy, we save a nickel on a fryer that’s great; but the question is whether we lose that few pennies paying for mandated “renewable” energy from utilities when it’s far cheaper to create electricity from coal or natural gas.

(I just hope the glare from the panels doesn’t cause any more accidents in a busy area where changing lanes to follow U.S. 50 westbound is frequent.)

We know that someday there will come a time when fossil fuels run out and technology allows renewable energy to be more reliable. But we’re several generations away from that point, considering how much oil is in shale out west and natural gas is under the rocky western end of our fair state. Let’s go out and get it while we can, creating good jobs in the process.

America has a prosperous lifestyle to sustain, whether environmentalist wackos like it or not.

The wrong word

From time to time, I get sent links to stories from the Washington Post in my e-mail box in an effort to drum up some internet readership and blogging on various news items. Let’s see if we can pick out the word which doesn’t belong here.

The Washington Post‘s Aaron Davis reports: Growing frustration with illegal immigration, rising public debt and an effective Internet campaign to gather voters’ signatures have put Maryland conservatives on the cusp of a victory to delay and possibly repeal a new law that would give undocumented immigrants in-state college tuition breaks.

Opponents say they are on pace to turn in a combined 100,000 signatures by Thursday, even though state elections officials say they have certified most of the nearly 56,000 needed to suspend the law and send it to a statewide referendum in November 2012. The law had been scheduled to take effect Friday, but it has been suspended while officials await a final tally on the signatures.

The full story can be read here.

Did you catch the word that doesn’t belong?

I read the story, and in every case aside from the very first sentence the Post places the word “undocumented” where they should be saying “illegal.”

If I forget to bring a copy of the minutes of the last month’s meeting to read to the monthly Wicomico County Republican Club gathering I’m “undocumented.”

If I were sneaking across the border in such a manner to avoid detection or overstaying the time on my visa, I am “illegal.”

While I can’t speak for all 100,000 or so Marylanders who have signed the petition to place SB167 on referendum, I would wager that most are quite welcoming to immigrants who come to our country wanting a better life and go about it in the right manner through the proper channels. After all, a century or so ago I believe my great-grandfather did just that. (He was named Michael Swartz too.)

What we don’t like is having those who flouted the law take advantage of the system, too. After all, if they are illegal, how can they be gainfully employed after they complete college anyway? I don’t see them being a benefit to our society.

I think Daniel Bongino was partially correct the other night when he said the first step to immigration reform should be securing the borders. But I’m not completely convinced we can’t deport 12 million illegal immigrants because a large number would deport themselves if they can’t find work. I normally am a pro-business kind of guy, but the Chamber of Commerce is way wrong on the issue of immigration reform – we tried amnesty once and it didn’t work.

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit petitions, and today I sent through overnight mail a couple pages’ worth of names to add to the list. They may not be necessary but these were people who believe the General Assembly made a grievous error when it passed the Maryland DREAM Act. Let them just try and call all of us “racists.” I dare them.

Trust me, I have a lot more to say on the subject.

WCRC meeting – June 2011

If you missed this meeting, you missed an opportunity to meet one of the leading candidates to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

Of course, we went through the usual business of doing the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and reading of the minutes, but those who attended were really there to hear from and interact with Senate candidate Daniel Bongino.

With his family and campaign advisor Brian Murphy in tow, Bongino told those assembled that this was his fourth trip to the Eastern Shore in 20 days – however, he was hoping his campaign wouldn’t be broken by upcoming toll hikes for the Bay Bridge. Dan portrayed the meeting as a “job interview…you don’t need me, I need you.”

Dan related that he decided to run for the U.S. Senate with “no Plan B…I left it all on the line for this.” But he got into the race to run an “aggressive” campaign against the incumbent. “The other side is not taking prisoners,” said Bongino.

Citing the three key issues as education, health care, and the economy, Dan laid into the left’s three-pronged philosophy espoused by Cardin. Their agenda items always include a price control mechanism, a third-party payer, and coercion of some sort. There’s little or no market component with government involvement.

Government has created a number of systems, particularly in health care, that are ‘designed to fail,” including the Great Society. “We made poverty comfortable” during that era, and to Bongino that was “a travesty.”

He also answered a number of audience questions on Medicaid, competing against Ben Cardin, the PATRIOT Act, our involvement in Libya, ending the Federal Reserve, and immigration. For these queries Dan had a number of compelling answers.

Bongino gave a short economic treatise on why one is more likely to die if they’re on Medicaid than they are with no insurance at all. When one considers cost and quality in spending other people’s money on other people (i.e. how government works) “the most inefficient way to spend money is government, every time.” And since there is no regard for either cost or quality with a third-party payer system “(Ben Cardin) is going to sell everyone up the river with this healthcare plan, and he knows it,” stated Bongino.

In competing against Cardin, Dan said it’s a matter of not forfeiting the minority vote as Republicans are prone to do – telling him otherwise is “garbage.” Yet the Democrats have done nothing for the minority population, said Bongino. “We’re not knocking on the doors (in minority areas,” he continued, “Let them slam the door in my face…but I’m going to fight there.”

Those of the libertarian persuasion may have a couple objections, but Bongino thinks that “we need the PATRIOT Act (because) to abuse it takes an act of God” and dismisses the idea of ending the Fed: “Every country needs a central bank.” Yet there are provisions of the PATRIOT Act he would like to see sunsetted, and his support for a central bank comes with the caveat that they need to eliminate one part of the Fed’s dual mandate to control inflation and unemployment. We will either default on our debt or inflate our way out of it, said Dan.

On the other hand, Dan doesn’t support the War Powers Act. He questioned why we are in Libya and Afghanistan, saying “our boys” were being killed there as thanks from the people who we were trying to save. “We need our kids back…(the Taliban and tribal supporters) will kill us every minute we are there; they don’t know they’ve been defeated.”

He concluded with conceding that there’s “zero chance of deporting 12 million (illegal immigrants)” but believes we need to secure the border first before attempting any sort of immigration reform.

Afterward, the reaction to Dan was generally positive, save for a few items he knew could rub some the wrong way. “Honest and refreshing” was the verdict from one observer.

And you can decide for yourself as I recorded Bongino’s remarks last night.

Still, we weren’t finished. Dave Parker gave us the rundown on Central Committee happenings, which included recommending two new members to the Wicomico County Board of Education. Not that it may mean much – “Martin O’Malley doesn’t care” about the Republican party’s desires, conceded Parker – but we did our assigned task.

He also talked about the Catholic Conference and their support of the DREAM Act (against the SB167 petition drive.) “(Their flyer) reads like Democratic Party talking points,” asserted Dave. CASA de Maryland with their aggressive tactics at public places where petition signatures are being solicited and other illegal immigrant supporters were “looking for ways to disenfranchise voters,” Dave said. A copy of the petition was passed around, with more signatures being added to those already in.

Shawn Jester informed us the next Lower Shore Young Republican meeting will be August 9 and talk about redistricting.

Julie Brewington made a pitch for a new group called the Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, which is holding a raffle fundraiser. (Once their website is up, there will be a link to it from my site.)

Other internal business discussed was a membership drive and potential scholarship. We also decided not to skip the July meeting, as has happened previously in non-election years. One suggested speaker was Robin Holloway, who is leaving the Wicomico County Board of Education after two terms.

So, since we decided it would be so, our next meeting will be July 25. While it’s likely Robin Holloway would be our speaker, stay tuned. We have about a half-dozen U.S. Senate candidates to go.

Odds and ends number 31

Once again I have a lot of little items that deserve a little bit of comment, so here goes.

Delegate Pat McDonough is at it again. The 2012 Congressional candidate has prefiled a bill called the Toll Fairness Act. It has three goals:

  • Declare a moratorium on all toll increases.
  • Mandate a General Assembly vote and Governor’s signature on all toll increases, for accountability.
  • Prohibit transfers to non-transportation accounts. Delegate McDonough claims almost $800 million has been “stolen” from transportation accounts over the last eight years.

While it’s doubtful such a bill will muster the votes to get out of the Democratic-controlled committee it will be assigned to, the fact that we have this measure prefiled shows that people can be good and angry about the situation. We will see on July 14, when a hearing on the toll increases will be held in Ocean City.

Speaking of the peoples’ voice, the petition drive to overturn SB167 through referendum may well be successful. But CASA de Maryland was granted a request to make copies of the petitions; a move Delegate Michael Smigiel of the Upper Shore found shocking.

Delegate Smigiel made a point which I wanted to amplify. It’s bad enough that a group who’s dead-set against the referendum will be allowed to take possession of these petitions, if only for a brief time. Luckily the potential for mischief is lessened since that cat was let out of the bag.

But I think back to the controversy over Proposition 8 in California (to overturn same-sex marriage) and what happened to those who contributed to that effort financially – a number of them were harassed by pro-gay marriage supporters, with threats to both boycott their businesses and harm them physically. Could pro-illegal groups and supporters use the petition information to do the same in Maryland? They’re playing for keeps; unfortunately for them a goodly number of people about these parts are armed and don’t much like harassment. Hopefully the folks at the ACLU and CASA de Maryland will keep this in mind.

Meanwhile, those who support the petition and wish to make sure the count is done fairly aren’t allowed into the process. A Board of Elections worth its salt would tell the state to go pound sand on that (since it’s simply a policy memorandum and not law.)

And that’s not all from the state of Maryland. Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum discusses the new “green” graduation requirement. There’s no time for teaching critical thinking or even the three R’s, but they have time to push that “smart growth” bullshit on our kids? Since the requirement appears to be only in public schools (for now) I guess I don’t have to deprogram my girlfriend’s daughter – yet – since she attends a private school.

I also learned a new word regarding this new environmentalism. In a press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute announcing the formation of the Resourceful Earth website, a quote from Myron Ebell, the Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, caught my eye. Said Ebell, “unfortunately, many major corporations are being greenmailed into supporting these assaults on jobs and prosperity.” ‘Greenmailed,’ indeed. Do you think oil companies really want to spend millions to deal with environmental groups advocating for polar bears or caribou rather than job creation and maintaining our lifestyle? They probably add a nickel per gallon to the price.

Still, pump prices have been on the decline of late. That fact makes the timing of the decision to draw 30 million barrels down from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve very curious. Granted, there will still be nearly 700 million barrels remaining in our coffers, but there was no emergency situation to merit the release. Strife in Libya is no worse than unrest in Nigeria, another major oil-producing nation, back in 2009.

Reaction has been severe from some quarters, and seems to be the correct perception of the situation. Americans for Limited Government, for example, claims savings will be meager and short-lived:

If one is generous and assumes yesterday’s $4 drop was solely because of Obama and International Energy Agency, at best it will save consumers $.10 a gallon for gasoline.  That works out to about $1.50 per fill up, or $6 for the month the additional gasoline is available.

In other words, Obama has jeopardized national security by drawing down the strategic reserves to, at best, save consumers about $1.50 per fill up when this ‘flood’ of new gasoline hits the market.  To call this irresponsible would be an understatement.

And the real experts at the American Petroleum Institute were equally underwhelmed:

The release makes little sense for American markets. Crude and gasoline inventories are above average, and crude and gasoline prices have been trending down for weeks, despite the loss of Libyan oil, which markets have already adjusted to. The SPR was intended to be used for supply emergencies. There is no supply emergency. We don’t know what impacts this might have on markets long term. But we could and should be taking steps that would increase our own production by 2 million barrels a day or more for decades, which is possible if the government would grant much greater access to America’s ample oil and natural gas reserves. This would do vastly more to help consumers, increase energy security, create jobs and deliver more revenue to our government. It’s action that would truly strengthen our energy future, not a temporary gesture that has no lasting benefits.

30 million barrels is about what our nation consumes in a day-and-a-half. 60 million barrels (the total IEA release) is well under what the world consumes in a day.

Here’s the problem I see with this release. We have a President who doesn’t mind $4 per gallon gasoline, as long as the increase is relatively steady. He also has backtracked from allowing additional oil exploration thanks to a rare but ill-timed drilling accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you assume the oil which was placed in the SPR was purchased at a relatively low market price, well, we have to make that up sometime. And if you believe their line about supplies tightening up thanks to a civil war in Libya it would be my guess that oil will be more expensive. We just added 60 million barrels to future worldwide demand, and that will likely drive prices up a little bit.

In short, this is a shell game (no pun intended) to make people believe we’re doing something about a problem better solved with more oil extraction. For example, approving one pipeline would eventually make up for about half of what the world normally gets from Libya on a daily basis. Needless to say, I don’t buy the ‘peak oil’ theory. (Thanks to Jane Van Ryan of API for the pipeline info.)

And one final item. Over the last few weeks I had a PSA for the Move America Forward Troopathon which was broadcast over the internet last Thursday. They now have their tally in and were pleased to report they raised $507,843 from their efforts – exceeding their $500,000 goal.

It wasn’t as much as previous Troopathons raised, but then again we have fewer troops in that theater. Considering that being pro-military isn’t as much in vogue as it used to be I think that total is pretty good and reflects a nation that remains in a giving mood for our men in uniform.

Wow, that did a nice job of cleaning out my e-mail box. Look for more interesting stuff to come.

For President 2012: Second Amendment and education

June 26, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on For President 2012: Second Amendment and education 

I continue my look at the 2012 race with the second of my two multi-subject posts, beginning with a look at how they stand on Second Amendment rights.

Not every candidate addresses this subject directly, but it’s rather easy to find a wealth of information on this particular stance.

On Second Amendment issues, Michele Bachmann gets high marks from both of the two main gun lobbying groups (Gun Owners of America and National Rifle Association) and applauded recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the Second Amendment. She gets the seven points.

Herman Cain says he’s in favor of the Second Amendment, but a recent interview made people wonder if he was placing the issue too far into the lap of the states. I’m not quite sure what he means either, so I’m only going to give him four points. I think he’s on the right side, but I certainly don’t want a liberal state like Maryland overriding the clear language and intent of the Second Amendment.

“It’s not in defense of hunting, it’s not in defense of target shooting or collecting. The Second Amendment is defense of freedom from the state.” So said Newt Gingrich, and he tended to vote that way while in Congress. But there is something in this piece that gives me pause, so I’m only giving Newt six of seven points.

As governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman had a good Second Amendment record, like this pair of bills. He gets all seven points.

If you watch this video at about the 21-minute mark, you’ll see that Gary Johnson has a broad view of the Second Amendment. But this line in Slate is the clincher: “I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.” I believe this will get him a bunch of points. Seven.

I honestly can’t find where Fred Karger stands on the issue, so he missed what’s pretty much been a layup so far.

Considering the guy plays in a band called The Second Amendments and has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, I think Thad McCotter should get all seven points. Don’t you?

Like Newt Gingrich, this short treatise from Roy Moore shows he gets why there’s a Second Amendment. Seven points.

I would have expected this from Ron Paul – he votes the right way and gets high GOA marks (an A+) so he’ll get seven points.

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t miss this opportunity as he’s racked up a solid record in Minnesota on gun issues. He gets the seven points as well.

I have the feeling I’m missing something, but the limited amount I can find on Buddy Roemer would make me guess he won’t trifle with the Second Amendment. Two points seems fair enough.

The same piece which was critical of Gingrich really questioned Mitt Romney‘s record. Because it’s somewhat mixed I can only give him four points.

With perhaps one or two exceptions, Rick Santorum has a good gun record so I’ll give him six points.

Updating the GOP standings – anyone who didn’t get six or seven points missed a golden opportunity here. Seven candidates are in the lead pack at the moment.

  • Tim Pawlenty, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 12 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 12 points
  • Thad McCotter, 12 points
  • Roy Moore, 12 points
  • Ron Paul, 12 points
  • Rick Santorum, 12 points
  • Herman Cain, 8 points
  • Gary Johnson, 8 points
  • Mitt Romney, 7 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 3 points
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points

As for Democrats, Barack Obama is definitely not pro-Second Amendment, so he’s docked the seven points.

Unsurprisingly, Randall Terry has no stated position.

  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-15) points

Now I turn my attention to education. In case you’re wondering, my key part of the issue is eliminating the Department of Education because it doesn’t educate anyone.

Several candidates address this directly, and this will likely begin to start separating the field.

Michele Bachmann doesn’t have her website up yet, but I can find her voting record on the issue. While she wants to abolish the Department of Education, I found a little bit of fault with some of her votes. I’m giving her six of eight points.

While Herman Cain wants to “unbundle” the federal government from education and has a number of valid ideas about accountability and school choice, the one thing holding him back is not openly advocating for the elimination of the Department of Education – that’s a necessary component in my book. Seven points.

Newt Gingrich touches on education in a minor way on his website, but the person who now talks about abolishing the Department of Education voted for its very creation. And in 2009 he was only too happy to join Al Sharpton on a tour to “highlight the Obama administration’s efforts to reform public education.” I think he’d like to continue the federal framework which needs to be abolished, and that’s not a solution I believe in. I’m giving him no points because I don’t think he stands with me on this.

Jon Huntsman has a mixed record on education, supporting school vouchers but not advocating for less federal involvement otherwise. I’m not convinced he’d be a leader on this issue so I’m giving him only two points.

Helping his cause immensely with me, not only does Gary Johnson have the right ideas on the educational issue but he explains it very well. He gets the full eight points.

Fred Karger wants to make school “more interesting and fun.” Well, I’d like them to learn more critical thinking and actually know something when they graduate without burdensome federal regulations. I will give him a little credit for knowing the key obstacle to improving education (the teachers unions) and at least giving a nod to charter schools, but we can go much further. One point.

It seems to me that Thad McCotter doesn’t mind federal involvement in education, whereas I do. He doesn’t go overly far, but doesn’t reverse the trend either. I think he only gets two points here.

Roy Moore states on his issue page that, “the federal government should not hamper the education systems of various states, as there is no authority for federal involvement under the Constitution. Competition between the states and freedom of various educational structures should be available to parents who are charged with the responsibility to teach their children. Charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, home schooling, Christian schools, and technical training should be encouraged.” The only part I don’t like is the part about tax credits, since I think controlling behavior through the tax code is a no-no as a permanent solution. So I’ll give him six points.

By and large Ron Paul has a similar view to Roy Moore’s, wishing the federal government out of the educational realm but supporting tax credits for Christian schooling. So he gets the same six points.

The example of Tim Pawlenty as governor is relatively good – among other things, Minnesota enacted “pay for performance,” but I think he’s going to seek the same old “top-down” approach to education. Charter states? What if your state is cluelessly going to follow the federal model? I think he’s only going to get two points on this issue.

As governor, Buddy Roemer linked teacher pay to performance and enhanced accountability standards. But that’s all I know and he hasn’t really touched on the subject yet in his one-man debates. So I can only give him one point.

While Mitt Romney supports school choice and home schooling, he’s backed away from supporting the demise of the Department of Education after once supporting its elimination. Supposedly it dampens the influence of the teachers’ unions, but I find that laughable. I can only give Mitt two points.

He may be coming around to sell himself to conservatives, but Rick Santorum‘s recent call to eliminate the Department of Education comes on the heels of a voting record too enamored with federal control. He only gets two points for his efforts.

As I predicted, this certainly has shaken up the standings as some of the “establishment” candidates fall a little behind the lead pack. This also vaulted Gary Johnson into my race. Yet most candidates are hanging around within five points of the top.

  • Michele Bachmann, 18 points
  • Roy Moore, 18 points
  • Ron Paul, 18 points
  • Gary Johnson, 16 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 16 points
  • Herman Cain, 15 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 14 points
  • Thad McCotter, 14 points
  • Rick Santorum, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Mitt Romney, 9 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 4 points
  • Fred Karger, (-2) points

Of course, Democrat Barack Obama is foursquare behind more federal control and pulled the rug out from under his own District of Columbia students, so he’s out another eight points.

While the other Democrat, Randall Terry, doesn’t explicitly state his position, the fact he campaigns at a homeschooler rally might mean something. Hey, I’ll give him one point.

  • Randall Terry, 1 point
  • Barack Obama, (-23) points

My next subject is one which has diminished somewhat in the overall scheme of things, but still remains rather important: the Long War and veterans affairs. I admit, though, my view on the subject has changed a bit since the last time around.

With nine points at stake, a candidate can help his or her cause immensely with the right viewpoint.

Weekend of local rock volume 39

June 25, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 2 Comments 

You should have received a sampling of these bands last night on my FNV episode (well, 2 of the 3 anyway.) But here’s my rundown of Third Friday’s music. The stated intention of this month’s edition of 3F was to feature female-fronted bands.

One thing about attending an event such as this was that all three bands were playing at the same time, so I could only sample some of each. I’ll work in this case from east to west geographically, and since Pugsly was situated down East Main Street they’ll go first.

In watching and listening to the group briefly, one thing I liked about Pugsly is that they don’t forget the bass. Maybe it was the sound mix, but this group almost seems like they have a lead bass rather than a guitar. Their sound carried well down the street.

They also have a sense of humor, which is good for a stage presence. It was kind of a shame they drew the worst spot for their setup because not many people traveled down Main Street to watch them play.

Moving down to the courthouse, we found Semiblind. They are a versatile, veteran group which has the advantage of being able to play in two configurations. They started out as an acoustic duo…

…then transitioned to their normal ‘electric’ lineup once the bassist and drummer arrived.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m part of an unofficial fan club for the group. But one can’t argue with their success and hard work because Semiblind in its various configurations is in demand and playing practically every weekend this summer all over Delmarva, from Chincoteague to Stevensville. And while they do sprinkle in originals from time to time, the songs I heard last week were classic rockers they placed their stamp on.

Meanwhile, on the Plaza itself the all-female group The Zen Monkeys held court.

As you may be able to tell by the sheer number of instruments on stage, these ladies perform a very eclectic mix of original songs – in fact, in the times I looked on they didn’t use the drums. That’s pretty unusual for a rock band, but so is using a washboard as they did on one song. Suffice to say, The Zen Monkeys are difficult to categorize. They would have probably been at home on the Flavors stage.

But I’m still not done, even though I’ve covered the three ‘official’ bands. These two guys were playing jazz down at the west end of the Plaza.

They weren’t part of the bill because they’re not female, but one thing I’ve noticed about 3F is that things aren’t necessarily planned or scripted. Two guys want to show up and play a little jazz? More power to them; just keep a little distance apart so you’re not playing on top of each other.

Certainly on the third Friday in July there will be music downtown of some sort. Come on down and enjoy.

Senate hopeful Bongino featured WCRC speaker

For the first time since Brian Murphy spoke to us last July, a statewide candidate will grace the Wicomico County Republican Club stage – ironically, with a boost from the aforementioned 2010 candidate for governor.

Daniel Bongino is making his first political run a challenging one by running in a statewide race to unseat incumbent Senator Ben Cardin. Cardin defeated former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele in 2006, keeping the seat in Democratic hands after longtime Senator Paul Sarbanes retired following a thirty-year run.

Featuring the tagline, “we did nothing wrong, government failed us,” Bongino’s key issues appear to be the economy, health care, energy, the environment, national security, and immigration. Certainly he’ll discuss these and other topics Monday evening.

The meeting, as always, will be held at the Chamber of Commerce building at 144 E. Main Street in downtown Salisbury. We gather for a social time at 6:30 p.m. with the meeting beginning around 7:00.

It’s likely that Bongino will be the first of several GOP Senatorial candidates to grace our stage, since six people are currently in the race. However, Bongino is coming off a strong second-place finish in my most recent Senate poll, just behind 2010 nominee Eric Wargotz.

Friday night videos – episode 68

June 24, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 2 Comments 

I have a couple new videos at the end which come from last week’s Third Friday performances. But I wanted to start off with a video I used awhile back from the late Flavors bar downtown. The Permilla Project did a jam called ‘Black Beans and Rice’ there.

Just for fun I poked around Youtube to see what other music videos I could find shot at Flavors, and there’s a nice little sampling herein. One is the local duo of Chris Demone and Chuck Cook, better known as Test Kitchen. This was shot in 2008.

Another local band which developed a following there was Slim DeNunn and the High Rollers. This was from a 2009 performance there.

Little did the person who took this video of Chester River Runoff just four months ago know that may have been their swan song in the facility.

The venue definitely attracted a wide spectrum of bands, as you can see. It will be missed.

Shot just down the street from Flavors was this video, featuring local classic rockers Pugsly and their rendition of the Monkees’ hit, ‘Steppin’ Stone.’

I certainly wasn’t going for sushi. And the Sex Pistols weren’t the only punk band to do the song; I have a version from the band Minor Threat on tape. In either case, this one was a little slower.

Around the corner in front of the old courthouse was Semiblind. Here’s a solid version of ‘Gimme Shelter.’

Once in awhile my old camera catches a song just right. Michele does a good job with their sound.

By the way, I didn’t mean to slight the Zen Monkeys, who also played at Third Friday. I didn’t get a video of theirs and unfortunately I’m not sure how to embed a video from Facebook.

Well, that’s a wrap for FNV this time around. Hope you enjoyed the tunes.

Last chance to sign the petition

June 24, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Last chance to sign the petition 

In order to have signatures safely into the state by June 30, the forces behind taking SB167 (the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants bill) are holding mass signing events at selected locations around the state.

Locally, there is one signing point for each county:

  • Wicomico: MVA office, 251 Tilghman Road, Salisbury
  • Worcester: 65th Street and Coastal Highway, Ocean City (parked at courthouse parking lot)
  • Dorchester: Cambridge Post Office, 301 High Street, Cambridge
  • Somerset: Westover Post Office, 27741 Fairmount Road, Westover

The initial wave of signatures turned in May 31 yielded over 47,000 of the 55,000 required, but pro-illegal groups like the ACLU and CASA de Maryland are planning to look over signatures with a fine-toothed comb to toss out any that are one scintilla deviant from the official on-file signature. (In other words, they don’t want the people to have a voice. Shame on the ACLU in particular since they should be all about liberty.)

Given the fact our counties combined for just 1,325 of the total we have a lot of room for growth. Hopefully you can make it out there if you haven’t signed yet.

(Hat tip: Ann Corcoran at the Potomac TEA Party Report.)

Shorebird of the Week – June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – June 23, 2011 

Rooney made his home debut June 9 against Hagerstown.

Not to be confused with another, similarly-named Shorebird infielder, Michael Rooney has set himself on a mission to return to Frederick by hitting the cover off the ball here at Delmarva.

Brought on board to replace Jonathan Schoop (who was promoted to Frederick) on June 5th, Rooney has managed 17 hits in 11 Shorebird games, sporting a gaudy .386 average so far. That which Rooney has accomplished in 11 games and 44 at-bats with the Shorebirds has pretty much matched his total output for Frederick in 26 games and 62 at-bats earlier this season. He was hitting .226 for the Keys prior to his demotion.

A 30th round pick out of UNC-Wilmington last year, Rooney is on the hottest streak of his nascent career since he only hit .234/0/11 for Aberdeen last season with a lackluster .613 OPS. (Compare that to a solid .890 OPS so far at Delmarva.) But one thing which pops out in looking at the 22-year-old Tar Heel’s stats is that he rarely strikes out or takes a walk – in 281 professional at-bats he’s fanned just 48 times and drawn 30 walks. Rooney tends to get wood on the ball, so it’s just a matter of how hard it was hit and where it was placed.

With megaprospect Manny Machado out of the way, manager Ryan Minor may well continue to go with the hot hand of Rooney in the infield for the foreseeable future. As there are four players listed as shortstops on the current roster (but none at second base,) Michael now anchors a crew which is radically different from the group that started the season here – of that four-player shortstop group, not one began the season with Delmarva.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll have any less success – particularly if Rooney can keep the average over the .300 mark.

A meaningless poll?

As you may have noticed the last few days, my sidebar had a poll which asked: if the election were held today, who would you support for Maryland’s GOP Senate nomination?

Well, I pulled the poll earlier today since it had run its course, and here are the results (drum roll please…):

  1. Eric Wargotz, 2,116 votes (44.87%)
  2. Daniel Bongino, 1,711 votes (36.28%)
  3. William Capps, 831 votes (17.62%)
  4. Corrogan Vaughn, 38 votes (0.81%)
  5. Robert Broadus, 10 votes (0.21%)
  6. Rick Hoover, 9 votes (0.19%)

One person wrote in “Bolton”, who I take to mean John Bolton. I didn’t know he was a Maryland resident.

As I’ve said all along, this was far from a scientific poll because I allowed repeat voting – in fact, I encouraged it. To that end, I did a spreadsheet (printed in .pdf form) which shows how the poll evolved over time as I broke out the numbers by timespan. There you can see where repeat votes were racked up for the various candidates, so it’s easy to tell that someone came in and stacked the poll to help out a particular candidate over a span of time. (It made for some incredible page view numbers, too – thanks!)

Yet I think the numbers aren’t all that far off from reality. Let’s look at a few facts here.

In a ten-person primary race last year, Eric Wargotz received less than 40 percent of the vote. His main competition was a political newcomer who quickly became a TEA Party favorite in Jim Rutledge – together they pulled about 70 percent of the vote, with no one else attaining a double-digit percentage.

This is a six-person race at the moment, and Wargotz has just under 45% in this poll. Realistically, that’s close to his base of Republican support from last year and it’s probably good enough to win. Running in second place? Well, he’s a political newcomer who should be able to count on a lot of support from the TEA Party since he has the backing of another popular fiscal conservative in 2010 gubernatorial hopeful Brian Murphy. Daniel Bongino has 36 percent, which roughly parallels Eric’s nine-point win in 2010.

Too, the chief remaining votegetter is William Capps, who probably wouldn’t poll 18 percent in reality but would likely draw a high single-digit number based on a little name recognition. Since there will likely be more candidates in the mix, his overstated number here would probably erode a bit to a more realistic number among the latecomers who may split about 10 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the bottom three are probably pretty close to their actual base of support since they are perennial candidates who haven’t shown well before.

My theory in doing this poll as I did is that people who are passionate enough to attempt to rig an internet poll to their chosen candidate’s advantage exist in the same relative number as support in real life. In other words, the person (or persons) who voted continually hundreds of times for Eric Wargotz exist in direct proportion poll-wise to those who would do the same for Bongino, Capps, et. al. so the poll may have some relative validity. (And quite honestly, if it drives a few extra people to my website that’s good for me.)

So I wouldn’t be surprised if the support for these people at this early stage isn’t all that far off the mark. I would say Bongino and Capps may be outperforming reality by five to ten points here, but remember there is no “undecided” in my polling to cloud the picture. Toss that group in and almost everyone would lose a dozen points or so.

Suffice to say that the race can’t be conceded to the guy who has the most name recognition (Eric Wargotz) quite yet. It may turn out to be yet another plurality race won by attrition. The early primary will be to Eric’s advantage, of course, but by no means is he a lock for the nomination.

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