Sold out again

Yep, it’s going down just about as I predicted it: the Republicans will cave. I figure enough of the centrists from each party will outvote the extremist Democrats who want to keep spending money and controlling our lives along with their temporary allies in the conservative camp of the GOP who understand it’s time to rein in government.

So we’ll make ‘cuts’ – but will they really be reductions in spending or reductions in the rate of increase? And why hammer on defense spending in a time when we’re in the midst of a Long War with radical Islam? Now I could agree to a certain amount of defense cuts but where we really need to cut is the superfluous bureaucracy I continue to harp on.

In the end, I don’t like the deal because Obama gets what he wants – the increase in the debt limit. Meanwhile, we as a nation have our bond rating decline and how many times must we believe the lie that Democrats will cut spending? They lied to Reagan and they lied to Bush 41, telling them “oh yeah, go ahead and raise taxes, we’ll cut spending.” They must have been standing there with their fingers crossed behind their back.

So, Andy Harris and any other Congressman reading this: vote NO. Hold out on the principles of those who sent you to Congress.

Otherwise, don’t be really upset or surprised to see a third party effort in 2012. Obviously that’s a Democrat’s dream because it ensures both Obama’s re-election and the restoration of a Democratic majority in the House. The Senate could hold Democrat as well.

To borrow a phrase from a fellow Pajamas Media writer, Tom Blumer, we’d be back to a POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy, and it would truly make us poorer. It makes things harder for me as a Republican trying to keep the TEA Party in the fold when the inside-the-Beltway boys stab us in the back again.

Perhaps the analogy I’ve been looking for

July 31, 2011 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Perhaps the analogy I’ve been looking for 

Yes, Washington has an addiction.

The sad thing is that we’ve been feeding the addiction by voting in a lot of the same people to Congress. But there’s also the bureaucracy which hasn’t met a problem they couldn’t milk into additional appropriations down the line – if they actually solved the problem there wouldn’t be a need for continuing the agency. Instead, it’s a rare day that we see any government agency go by the wayside.

But we need to place a LOT of government agencies into the dustbin of history to solve our overarching problem, which in a nutshell is we have too much of a centralized, federalized government. I didn’t allocate the term ‘Fedzilla’ from Ted Nugent for nothing.

It’s more likely that we’ll continue to feed the addiction, though. Conventional wisdom is that the usual Washington horsetrade will occur – give Obama and Democrats the higher debt limit they desire in return for promised spending cuts which never occur. I keep seeing Lucy pull that football away from Charlie Brown for some reason.

Believe it or not, regardless of what Washington does about the debt ceiling, the sun will come up on Wednesday and millions of Americans will do their daily work. Don’t let anyone tell you the sky is falling.

McDonough: Senate decision comes after redistricting

Perhaps we were a bit too hasty in assuming Pat will run for the U.S. Senate – a lot depends on what his district looks like after Martin O’Malley and his cronies get through with it. At least that’s what he’s saying now:

As you may know, I have been testing the waters for a possible campaign against Dutch Ruppersberger for a seat in the 2nd Congressional District.  The Second District is a difficult challenge and an uphill fight for a Republican.  However, polling results and reaction from the voters during the last 6 months, including a powerful show of support in the annual popular July 4th Dundalk parade indicate my chances are good.  Radio and television exposure over many years and support for issues such as opposition to illegal immigration have provided me with high name recognition and voter approval.

Despite these advantages, that district still remains a challenge.  Of course, the re-districting and the new district will not be revealed until October.  At that time, if the 2nd Congressional District transforms from ‘uphill to impossible,’ my personal decision will become clear.  It will not make any sense to ask family, friends, and supporters to engage in a campaign that cannot be won.  That will be a choice forced upon me by political powers over which I have no influence or control.

My decision to consider a run for Congress is based on two simple conclusions:  1) Washington is a mess.   2) I believe I can help make a difference.  My top priority is to serve in Washington as a representative of the people.  After much thought and consultations with others, I have decided that if the 2nd Congressional District is gerrymandered rendering it impossible to win, I will take a serious look at seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland.

There is very little difference between Dutch Ruppersberger and Ben Cardin.  They are liberal political twins and Obama clones.  My vision for America is completely different than their tax and spend big government agenda.

I recognize that my critics will falsely charge that this plan may be indecisive.  But, as I clearly stated before, my desire is to serve the people in Washington to help clean up the mess and make a difference.  It does not matter whether that service is in the Senate or the House of Representatives.  These are unsettling times where the pathway is not always clear.  Unfortunately, the decisions that we make are overly controlled by outside forces.  During the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to conduct my vigorous exploratory campaign.  It is my desire to inform my supporters and colleagues about what may occur in the future.  It is still early in the campaign season and I would ask everyone to be patient and wait until it is clear regarding everyone’s intentions.  Thank you for your consideration and understanding.

Fortunately for Pat, he can also maintain his radio show as long as he’s not a declared candidate, and that message resonates well beyond the confines of the Second Congressional District. It means he can wage at least a somewhat effective statewide campaign while the redistricting process is at work. (Not to mention he’s running ‘from cover’ in either case since he wouldn’t have to stand for election in his Delegate seat until 2014.)

Perhaps the better question, though, is why not make a decision now? Waiting on the results of redistricting does convey that indecisiveness Pat’s critics will feast on. But we can deduce from the message that Pat is running for some federal office. We also know he has a name recognition advantage over most other members of the House of Delegates thanks to both his radio show and work on certain key issues, and can indeed believe that there may be radical changes in the makeup of every one of Maryland’s Congressional districts because the Democrats are running the show and don’t really care about anything but maintaining political power.

So in reading this missive it appears McDonough’s preference would be to run for the Second District seat and he’s using a Senate bid as a fallback option. That may indeed be the case, but, since I like to think an election or two ahead, there’s a scenario which argues instead that he’s going statewide.

Obviously if Pat runs for and wins a U.S. Senate seat, he’s in a good position for the next six years and the country would gain a conservative voice from one of the most unlikely places. But if he takes the shot for Cardin’s Senate seat and loses, well, we all lose. But McDonough still would have built a statewide campaign organization and it could prove useful in 2014 since that election presents the opportunity of an open Governor’s seat. Remember, Pat flirted with the idea in 2010 but chose not to challenge Bob Ehrlich.

(Of course, winning the Governor’s seat after serving in Congress from the Second District worked for Bob, but that was nearly a decade ago – way past a political lifetime in this day and age.)

So McDonough remains a ‘theoretical’ candidate for the U.S. Senate; in reality just three GOP candidates have filed with the FEC (Daniel Bongino, William Capps, and Corrogan Vaughn) while Capps and Rick Hoover are on the ballot at this early stage. It is presumed from other sources that Robert Broadus and Eric Wargotz are in the race as well, although we await a formal announcement from 2010 GOP nominee Wargotz.

In the end we should have between 7 and 10 enter the U.S. Senate race on the Republican side, if past history is a guide. If McDonough does decide to jump in this fall then we’ve reached the lucky seven mark with just a few weeks to go before the filing deadline. Everyone has until January 11 to make up their minds.

The impasse continues

July 29, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The impasse continues 

The Republicans in the House keep pitching them, and the Senate keeps letting them go by. So where is the Democrats’ plan?

It looks like either one of two things will happen: we will go past the so-called deadline of Tuesday or Republicans will cave. I’d prefer the former but it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to make the latter happen, based on previous results.

Personally I’d like the spending cuts now because there’s one big problem with a Balanced Budget Amendment: you would never get it through the Senate given its configuration at the moment. And then to count on 38 states? Not happening.

(I’m not even going to get into the drawbacks to having a budgetary system based on a percentage of GDP. Suffice to say that we lock in profligate spending for perpetuity.)

To balance the budget based on the money we take in presently, we only need to reduce spending to roughly 2003 levels. Scary to think we’ve grown our government over 40 percent in less than a decade, under Presidents and Congresses of both parties.

So why not get to work on that? Sure, it will take some rather draconian cuts but isn’t it all about shared sacrifice? Come to think of it, a consumption tax would do a dandy job of making all of us share, wouldn’t it?

Until we get to that point, though, it’s high time to share the sacrifice all over the non-essential areas of government – leave us overburdened taxpayers alone!

Shorebird of the Week – July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – July 28, 2011 

Sent down for the second half, Garabez Rosa has helped out a moribund Shorebirds offense.

Believe it or not, in at least offensive area Garabez Rosa has surpassed the player he replaced, megaprospect Manny Machado.

Consider that Machado was hitting .276/6/24/.859 OPS when he was promoted for the second half of the season. Rosa doesn’t have the power numbers and isn’t drawing the walks, but has a higher average than Machado – his comparable numbers are .307/0/12/.731 OPS. Knowing that Machado is on the fast track in the Orioles’ eyes, Rosa was among the first players he passed on his way up the ladder. Everyone else is seemingly playing to be Manny’s eventual backup at the big league level. In fact, when Machado was promoted to Frederick Rosa was sent down to replace him.

If you set aside the Machado comparison, though, you can find that the 21-year-old Dominican signed by the Orioles in 2007 has his own bonafides. This is the second season in a row he’s gotten off to a good start in a Delmarva uniform – last year he flirted with .300 for much of the first half and parlayed it into a SAL All-Star selection. The long season and league may have caught up with him, though, since he ended 2010 with a .251/5/44/.632 OPS line. To be sure, Rosa wasn’t excelling at the Carolina League level, either, batting .212 in 53 games before the demotion to Delmarva.

Yet the free-swinging Garabez (just 30 walks in over 1,400 professional at-bats in five seasons) has an opportunity to improve on his 2010 numbers here and continue his quest up the ladder a step behind Machado. Staying at or above the .300 mark as we wrap up the season against familiar North Division foes will help his cause.

 

Three days to act

This came to me from the folks at Americans for Prosperity. Seems the Environmental Protection Agency wants to become the Property Control Agency:

Legislation that would have deleted the word “navigable” from the federal Clean Water Act and given the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over every drop of moisture in the country crashed and burned last Congress, ending the 36-year congressional career of its lead sponsor, Jim Oberstar, in the process.

But Obama’s EPA, as usual, won’t take no for an answer, and is now attempting to ignore two Supreme Court decisions, common sense, and the American people and vastly expand federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction via a guidance document.  A bipartisan group of 170 members of Congress told them not to, but they are doing it anyway.

If the EPA and Army Corps succeed, they can exercise effective control over all land and water in the United States.  The green groups are fired up and pouring comments into the docket supporting this outrageous power grab, and we need to fight back.

Click here to tell the EPA and the Army Corps to STOP their back door assault on private property rights.

The docket closes on July 31st, so there is no time to spare. Please take action today!

So I did, and this takes you to a prefilled form letter you can use, or substitute your own comments. I chose the latter, to wit:

To the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers

[EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0409; FRL-9300-6]:

Regarding: EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Guidance Federal Register published Guidance Regarding Identification of Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA).

When non-navigable waters become fair game for government intrusion into our private property rights, that’s a bridge too far. In theory, the flooding in one’s basement caused by heavy rain couldn’t be fixed if the EPA put their mind to it.

Personally, I prefer to have a solid, waterproof foundation and if there’s puddles in my yard I’d rather let nature take its course.

You may read my comments and see them as ridiculous. “We’re never going to take these regulations to that degree,” you surely argue. But through overenforcement of existing laws like the Clean Water Act and Antiquities Act, the federal government has already robbed many of their livelihood and locked away resources which could be useful to our society’s well-being.

I urge you to reconsider your purpose, and focus on real threats rather than a phantom global climate agenda.

Sure, you may end up on AFP’s e-mail list but that isn’t all bad. I shudder to think what bilge has been sent in by the radical green element which has already been active in supporting this power grab.

It’s the same people who would like to eliminate septic systems in large developments, created ever-wider buffer zones for development in certain areas, or mandated that we have the same, more expensive blend of gasoline that urban areas use. They have theirs but would love to deny us “hicks in the sticks” a chance to create our own growth and progress. If it were up to them, we’d all be living cheek-to-jowl in crowded urban areas while leaving vast swaths of territory for Mother Nature to control. (Of course, being the enlightened ones, THEY can have access but we peons can’t.)

So take a few minutes to counter the Radical Green agenda, whether through your own thoughts or using theirs. Maybe they won’t listen, but others will get the message and act accordingly.

Pat McDonough to jump into U.S. Senate race

I’m seeing this story on several outlets, but I haven’t read the details yet because I don’t want to prejudge my initial take on the decision.

It seems to me that Delegate Pat McDonough from Baltimore County has a history of exploring various races and then getting out. In 2010 he thought about running for governor on the Republican side and earlier this year was considering a challenge to Second District Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. He’s not quite up to the blinding pace of changing races set by Carmen Amedori, but he’s getting close. And the questions become: how well is he known outside his Baltimore base? Would his issue stance resonate with Republican voters in a statewide race?

In Pat’s favor, he does have the advantage of an occasional bully pulpit when he hosts his weekend radio show or fills in for Baltimore radio host Tom Marr, but we see how well radio hosting worked for Bob Ehrlich. Certainly his conservative viewpoint on immigration and similar topics would play well with a following that helped place the Maryland DREAM Act on the ballot for the November, 2012 election, though.

And out of the 141 Delegates in the General Assembly last term, Pat ranked 11th in my monoblogue Accountability Project – so he’s more conservative than most in the body, but not as strident as, say, an Andy Harris (who was among the top Senators.)

But there’s surely some disappointed Second District Republicans who thought they had a formidable candidate in McDonough – he even went so far as to hold a fundraiser with Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. Its purpose: to “dump Dutch Ruppersberger & his Nancy Pelosi voting record.”  Meanwhile, the field for U.S. Senate already had a number of candidates, with the leaders among the group being 2010 GOP nominee Eric Wargotz and Dan Bongino, who has the backing of 2010 gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy and his wing of the Republican Party. From what I understand, the war of words has already begun between McDonough’s allies and Dan Bongino, portending a nasty primary fight Republicans don’t need (think of the 2008 First District tussle between Andy Harris, E. J. Pipkin, and Wayne Gilchrest for an example.)

Pat McDonough will do what he wants to do, but perhaps this move wasn’t the best for the Maryland GOP. Only time will tell.

Gary Johnson on ‘intolerance’ redux

July 27, 2011 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2012 - President, Communications, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Gary Johnson on ‘intolerance’ redux 

A couple weeks ago, I commented on the remarks of Presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson regarding the ‘offensive’ Family Leader Pledge signed by fellow GOP candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

Yesterday I was invited to participate in a blogger conference call with Governor Johnson regarding intolerance as “a formula for Republican defeat.” Unfortunately I couldn’t participate directly but I asked for the transcript knowing this was an issue I’d broached previously.

Perhaps the question closest to the one I would have asked was offered by New Hampshire blogger Skip Murphy of Granite Grok. I’m going to shorten it just a touch for this purpose, though:

I do have a question about your opening statement, on social conservatives.  Certainly the Tea Party is focused on the fiscal issues, but as we all know, social issues often have a fiscal cost to them as well.  If you look at Medicaid, Social Security, other entitlement programs, have an outsized cost to them.  Is it really something that Republicans and conservative Republicans should do?  To concede the social issues to the Democrats and step away from that arena?  And thereby letting them raise the fiscal costs of their agenda, versus fighting for what we believe is our agenda, which is cutting the fiscal costs across the board?

Governor Johnson responded:

Well, if you’re talking about fiscal costs, I don’t know where an intolerance to gays, I don’t know where a woman – where decision making should be taken away from a woman, and I’m talking about abortion – and, that that should be the driving issues of the Republican Party.  And I guess I could go to immigration, and to the xenophobia about immigrants, and there are costs associated with illegal immigration.  I think they should be addressed, but they don’t involve, in my opinion, building a fence, or putting the National Guard arm in arm across the border.  There’s some real, rational steps that can be taken, and really, a win-win situation: immigrants that want to come in to this country to work being allowed to work.  And businesses that would like to take advantage of being able to get workers that they currently can’t get, because of our immigration policies and our welfare policies in this country that have us sitting at home collecting welfare checks, that are just a little bit less money or the same amount of money for doing nothing, as opposed to getting out and getting an entry level job.

Murphy pressed further:

Well, I do notice that you brought up some hot button issues that are near and dear to a lot of Republicans.  But I specifically asked about some of the other entitlements: certainly the ever growing welfare state is a social issue, and it certainly has a high fiscal cost.  So, what is your strategy for bringing that down, and again I ask, is that something the Republicans should just forget about, because…

Johnson interrupted:

No, Skip, I didn’t consider welfare as part of this Ames Pledge.  If I missed that, I certainly apologize.  I saw this Ames Pledge as, really, vilifying, or just saying “No” to tolerance.  I saw it as a very intolerant document.  And I am a firm believer that we need to reform welfare in this country, and at the base of reforming welfare is “If you can work, you should work.”

It’s an interesting and broad-based conversation overall, but I think the problem with Gary’s approach is that a lot of the base he’s catering to – the small-government crowd – also cares about social issues.

Johnson makes the mistake of assuming that social conservatives are monolithic in their support of government-centered approaches to issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the general decline of society. As I noted in my original post on the Family Leader Pledge (refer to original pledge here,) I didn’t find a lot objectionable except for the call for a Constitutional amendment on marriage between one man and one woman. It’s not that I have an issue with protecting marriage, but it’s properly a state issue.

Ironically, Johnson is in agreement with me on that, but still chose to call me and others who care about these issues ‘intolerant’ because I don’t fall completely into line with his libertarian views on the subject. Perhaps he hasn’t a problem with certain portions of the Family Leader Pledge (particularly its call for a more limited government) but he chose not to sign it and that should have been enough. Many of the other contestants for the Presidential brass ring have forgone the opportunity as well but they haven’t besmirched the competition who did – even Mitt Romney withheld personal condemnation in refusing to sign.

Certainly I would like to pick and choose aspects of government to strengthen (yes, there are a few) and which ones should release their stranglehold on the American people. There are a few otherwise seldom-discussed planks in Johnson’s platform with which I agree and think should be brought out into the national conversation – chief among them the folly of the War on Drugs.

He certainly would like to limit government. Consider this passage from the call:

I just think that we’ve gone way overboard when it comes to this notion of need and entitlement, if you will.  So I am promising to submit a balanced budget for the year 2013, which would cut 43% of government expenditures at existing levels.  That means Medicaid, that means Medicare, that means military spending, for starters.  So, in that context, 43% reduction with regard to everything it is that government does, I think that is a weeding out process that gets us closer to the notion of helping those that are truly in need as opposed to this notion of entitlement and really this give away that has us in the fiscal predicament that we are in.  Really, we’re broke, and we’re on the verge of a monetary collapse because we print money to cover these obligations.

Good luck getting that through Congress. although it’s only cutting the budget back to 2002 levels. It also brings up a point that across-the-board cuts aren’t necessarily the correct solution – for example I think the budget of the Department of Education should be cut 100 percent, with the savings from the extra share used to maintain a strong national defense.

Yet the point is a good one. We haven’t prioritized spending in decades because the government gave itself a blank check with deficit spending, knowing they have the power to tax (also known as the power to destroy.) It’s time for some fiscal discipline, and I think TEA Party members understand this point. The question which Skip Murphy presented so well is whether we can have it all – advances in both social and fiscal conservatism – and I think the answer is yes, they are nowhere near mutually exclusive.

I would like to thank Gary Johnson’s staff for forwarding me the transcript. He’s been one of the best in working with bloggers, and that’s appreciated whether I agree with him or not.

The debt ceiling, locally

Gee, that Jim Messina from the Barack Obama recoronation campaign – always telling me what to do. Now he wants me to call Andy Harris:

The President spoke last night about the need for Congress to come together to meet our financial obligations by raising the so-called “debt ceiling” — that is, to make sure our country can pay the bills Congress has already racked up.

You’d think this would be fairly straightforward. For many years, regardless of party affiliation, presidents have asked Congress to do this when it’s been necessary — and every time, Congress has acted. Just as an example, Congress granted Ronald Reagan’s request to raise the debt ceiling 18 different times.

Here’s what’s happening: President Obama proposed the balanced approach of raising the debt ceiling paired with responsible steps to reduce our country’s long-term debt — asking oil companies, corporations, and the richest Americans to do their part rather than placing the entire burden on seniors and the middle class.

A deal has been close at times, but an ideological faction of House Republicans has been effectively holding our economy hostage — making extreme demands like ending Medicare as we know it, gutting Social Security, and rejecting any compromises that might make millionaires or big corporations pay their fair share to get our debt under control.

So last night, President Obama spoke to the nation and made a suggestion to everyone watching: Call Congress and ask them to do their job. Since then, there have been reports that the flood of calls and emails has been slowing down the phone systems and websites on Capitol Hill. But keep trying until you get through — they need to hear from you.

Well, I don’t have to call Andy to find out what he thinks – he already let me know, in no uncertain terms:

“By an overwhelming amount, Maryland families and businesses have contacted me to demand that the federal government get its fiscal house in order, stop spending more than it takes in, and balance the budget,” said Rep. Andy Harris. ” I disagree with the President – we need a balanced budget amendment, and I won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling unless a balanced budget amendment is part of the deal.  To create jobs in America again, we must stop the spending spree in Washington.”

Let’s return to Messina’s statement, which presumably is President Obama’s viewpoint.

First of all, he blames the legislative branch for “bills Congress has already racked up.” One problem with saying that is that we haven’t had a budget passed in 2 1/2 years because the Democrats decided not to do their duty when they ran the show in Congress. Yet Democrats passed budget-busting bills like the so-called stimulus and Obamacare. If the Pelosi/Reid Congress had simply maintained spending at the already generous 2007 levels they proposed, we wouldn’t be having this argument. Keep that in mind as I continue.

Of course, Obama has to bring Ronald Reagan into this by referring to raising the debt limit 18 times. Well, there he goes again. Remember who ran Congress and created the budget during those years? Yep, Democrats who were only too happy to vote for tax cuts but balked at cutting their precious social programs. I still remember how Reagan’s budget proposals were classified as “D.O.A.” every year.

More importantly, look at the phrase “asking oil companies, corporations, and the richest Americans to do their part.” There’s not going to be any “asking” about it if Obama gets his way – he’s just going to gouge their bottom line some more through higher taxation. I’ll bet he’ll be wondering why unemployment continues to go up. Sorry, that class envy card isn’t accepted here – not when the top 1% of wage-earners already pay more in tax than the bottom 95 percent.

So you can scratch the part about “extreme demands like ending Medicare as we know it, gutting Social Security, and rejecting any compromises that might make millionaires or big corporations pay their fair share,” since we shouldn’t fall for Mediscare or naively believe Social Security is healthy. (I already covered the “fair share” part in the last paragraph.) Instead, we should end Medicare as we know it and work to sunset Social Security because the government doesn’t belong in either health care or retirement. (Obviously those tasks have to be done over a number of decades, but the best time to start is now!)

I suppose my message is clear: go pound sand, President Obama.

Now as for Congressman Harris, my only quibble is that he shouldn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling whether there’s a balanced budget amendment with it or not. Make President Obama take the blame for any cuts he’d have to make, since he’s already hinting that seniors and the military will get it. You already have passed a plan, so there’s no need to make any other concessions until you see his proposal.

So if I’m going to call Congressman Harris’s office, it’s going to be with the message that there should be no increase in the debt ceiling and no compromise. Obama and the Democrats made their bed, let them lie in it.

WCRC meeting – July 2011

It was a smaller-than-usual turnout, but those who came were treated to interesting information from Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello – not all of which I’m at liberty to share.

Of course, we did the usual Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and reports, but much of the meeting was devoted to Matt reviewing his accomplishments over the first several months of his term. He also was pleased with yesterday’s Daily Times article which “shows lawyers in a good light.”

Among his accomplishments was improving communication and collaboration with law enforcement. When he took over there were “gangs running amok” and 13 homicides left over from 2010, but his approach of “zero tolerance” and a “Top 25” prosecution list seems to be lowering the crime rate somewhat. Realizing that a small percentage of criminals commit much of the crime, Matt also said he strives for longer sentences and higher bail for certain criminals.

But Maciarello is always asking officers on the beat, “what can we do better for you?” He related the thought that, “when we screw up, people suffer.” That extends to his efforts in the community as well, where he encouraged us to “mentor a child.”

Other accomplishments he cited were cleaning up a “disorganized” budget by cost-cutting and working on their own website along with picking up “low morale” in the office – Matt noted he’d hired the first Hispanic attorney and first woman assistant DA in county history.

Matt had an interesting observation on the local blogosphere when he said “the bloggers were bullying Davis Ruark” into giving them scoops on events. He solved that problem by posting press releases to their website first, guaranteeing access for anyone interested. Being a blogger myself, that insight was most interesting and refreshing.

He then opened up the meeting for questions.

The first asked if more criminals were from out of town, since ECI is so close. Regretfully more are homegrown, said Matt, citing the poor home life some have to endure. He would rather engage in prevention and intervention rather than prosecution, but sometimes that was a choice made by the criminal.

On time served, Matt chided Maryland for not being “truthful in sentencing.” So there were techniques Matt’s office used to keep criminals behind bars longer because “we can’t invent evidence.” It was a problem with shows like CSI which made people believe evidence could be made airtight.

As for drug-related changes, Matt called drugs a “scourge” on the community. But the drug of choice seemed to be pain pills like Oxycontin – “we’re seeing zombies,” said Matt.

Finally, Matt commented on the juvenile system. The problem with the system as it is in Maryland stems from a lack of facilities for the most hardcore kids. It’s why Matt encouraged mentoring to such a degree – “we can be different,” he concluded.

After that, there wasn’t a while lot to report on. The Central Committee had a number of upcoming events, remarked Ann Suthowski, and would make a push at those for voter registration.

Woody Willing noted that Wicomico County produced about 759 signatures for the SB167 petition and the Board of Elections was already preparing for next April’s primary. He also reminded us of the WCRC Crab Feast next month, August 27 to be exact.

After other minor club business was discussed, Gail Bartkovich had some County Council announcements.

First of all, she was looking for volunteers for a Charter Review Committee (prescribed by the county’s charter to be formed every 10 years) which would work toward putting any proposed changes on the 2014 ballot.

Secondly, next week’s County Council meeting (August 2nd at 6 p.m.) would feature Rick Pollitt’s reorganization proposal, so we were advised to either attend or watch the meeting to see what he says.

Gail was asked about the resolution for an elected school board, since there was some controversy over remarks at a prior meeting. As far as she knew, the original resolution was still valid and binding although she would verify it wasn’t a dated resolution. But a new one could be proposed at any time, she added.

Besides Maciarello, her answering these questions may have been the highlight of the meeting. We’ll do it all again on August 22, with a speaker to be determined.

U.S. Senate interview: Robert Broadus

This is the first of what I’m looking to be a series of interviews with candidates for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat, now held by Ben Cardin. Think of it as an extension of my old “Ten Questions” series.

Robert Broadus is a former naval officer and current small business owner who may be most familiar to Maryland voters as the head of Protect Marriage Maryland, a group opposing the imposition of same-sex marriage in the state. He also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the Fourth District in 2008 and 2010, finishing third out of four candidates in the 2008 Republican primary with 21.8% of the vote and losing the 2010 general election to incumbent Donna Edwards with 16.4% of the vote.

To begin, I was a bit confused by his website.

monoblogue: Let me start out by getting one thing straight: I was told (by a friend of mine) that you’re running for the Senate, but your website advertises “Broadus for Congress.” Having run for Congress twice before (once losing in the primary and once in the general) how does that show you’re committed to the race?

RB: Congress includes both the House and the Senate.  Keeping the committee of the same name offers me a chance to save money.  You can hear in my several public statements that I am running for Ben Cardin’s Senate seat.

monoblogue: I sort of suspected that, but it may be confusing to some who simply know you by website and recall you ran for Congress before in 2006 and 2008. So why the leap to a statewide seat?

RB: I have always believed that the Constitution puts the decision-making power of the United States into the hands of the Congress, which is the body designated to represent the will of the people and their states.  I considered running for the House of Representatives in ‘08 and ‘10 (I did not run in ‘06) because a) the House is by design supposed to be closer to the people, and b) it is only the House that has the power to introduce bills for the appropriation of funds.  I saw many of our financial problems, the reckless spending, and the multi-trillion-dollar debt coming from the mal-appropriation of funds, and I saw election as a fiscal conservative to the House as a means to remedy this problem.  I additionally saw that both Al Wynn and Steny Hoyer were Democrats who had voted out of step with their party for the invasion of Iraq, and I believed at the time that this would make them weak with their constituents.  I correctly gauged that Al Wynn was the weaker candidate; unfortunately instead of replacing him with a fiscally responsible Republican, his voters chose to replace him with the ultra-progressive Donna Edwards.

My ultimate decision to run for Senate was prompted by the fact that Ben Cardin was the first Senator to introduce Obamacare to the public, holding the very first townhall meeting in the majority-black setting of Prince George’s Community College.  Part of my encounter with Senator Cardin can be viewed here.

I was also interviewed by Neil Cavuto afterwards.

So, although the event was almost 2 years ago now, I believe that if voters really care, and if they are truly angry enough about the destruction of their liberties, they will support my efforts to take the issue of Obamacare directly to Cardin in serious debate, and to make him pay for what he and his party did to us by giving him a pink slip in November 2012.  I believe that the issues of loss of freedom, if framed correctly, will resonate with Black Americans, and the issues of unconstitutionality should appeal to Republicans in such large numbers that they will vote together to get better representation in the Senate.

I also recognized other statewide issues that needed to be addressed, and which were not being heard with me running in a single congressional district.  Issues like same-sex marriage and illegal immigration were clearly issues that crossed party lines, and got people from all demographics to come out and challenge their legislators about what was being done almost in secret, against the will of the voters.  So, I realized that I also needed to make these issues part of my Senate campaign.  I very much believe that if we can unite the social conservatives throughout the state, the fiscal conservatives who recognize the tragedy being inflicted on us by the Democratic Party’s monopoly over Maryland, and inspire them to fight for their freedoms and demand that government respect us as people—as full-grown men and women—as the true rulers of this country, then not only can we win this election, but we can also achieve the goal that our founders and even Abraham Lincoln spoke glowingly of: the goal of self-government, which is in reality the goal of independence: EMANCIPATION.

The people of Maryland need to hear the message of freedom again, and that is why I am running for Senate.

monoblogue: I’ve noticed on your issue page that you cite the Constitution frequently – that’s a good trait to have in a Senator.

I’d love a comment on your call to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment – given Maryland’s longtime love for all things Democratic, isn’t that going to cost you a job in the Senate? Or were you planning on term-limiting yourself anyway?

And a more important question: how do you get out the message of freedom in an era when 30 second sound bites are the norm and Ben Cardin is sitting on a cool million dollars? How much do you think you need to compete?

RB: I consider that a great compliment.  While I believe that there have been many violations to the Constitution over the years, I note that there are a small handful that can be looked at as absolutely the most egregious, the most anti-American, and the most destructive of liberty.  We can point to the “progressive” amendments as being some of the most dangerous changes to our American system of government—even to the point of taking us backward by making the Constitution an instrument of oppression rather than one of liberation and freedom.  The 16th, 17th, and 18th Amendments were all passed during what was known as the “progressive era.”  The 18th, as we know, was justly repealed by the 21st.  The other two should be as well.  The 16th was implemented to make certain the Congress had a power to tax people’s property in the form of their only means of sustenance—their incomes.  The 17th was implemented to destroy the critical functioning of the States as an integral part of the federal government.

In the Federalist Papers, James Madison makes a point of arguing that while the original Constitution (the Articles of Confederation) provided for a “federal” system of government, the new Constitution would provide for what he calls a “combined” government—namely, a hybrid between a “federal” government (a confederation, or government of sovereign states) and a “national” government (a popular government.)  To assure his critics that the States would not be destroyed, he argued repeatedly that their continuance was guaranteed by their constitutionally-guaranteed role of appointing Senators.  For example, in Federalist 45, he writes: “The State governments may be regarded as constituent and essential parts of the federal government; whilst the latter is nowise essential to the operation or the organization of the former…The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures.”

In fact, the entire argument of the Federalist Papers (and therefore, that of the Constitution) depends on the fact that the States were guaranteed not only representation, but EQUAL representation in the national legislature, much as they had been under the Articles of Confederation.  To take this component away not only undoes the character under which the Constitution itself was ratified, but it also destroys the “federal” nature of our system of government.  So, whereas the Federalists Papers are written to argue the need for a combined federal/national government, what the 17th Amendment created was a purely national government, in which the States are mere subdivisions of the country—no more sovereign or independent than counties or towns are to a State.  We are seeing with Obamacare and other pieces of unconstitutional legislation just how insignificant and powerless the States have become.

While I support term limits for all federal offices, I do not have plans for what I will limit myself to.  My primary motivation for running is that there is something dreadfully disastrous happening to our American republic, and it needs to be fixed.  If I am able to affect the system (either from within elected office or outside of it) in a way that these problems will be fixed, then I will have no more need to be in the Senate, and will gladly step aside to allow other citizens to represent the State in that capacity.  It is also important to understand that even in the House of Representatives, you are chosen to represent your State—not “the people” per se.  Only in the twisted political worldview that emphasizes cronyism, pay-to-play, and “bringing home the bacon” has it  been interpreted that members of the House only represent their districts (or certain special interest groups within their districts) and not the entire State.  I further understand that Maryland’s political history means it is almost certain that the legislature will continue to appoint Democrats to the U.S. Senate.  However, when it comes to the Constitution and Liberty, principle is more important than any political ambitions.  If the Constitution says that Senators must be appointed by the legislatures, then I would not support a system that tries to subvert that just because I’d like to see a Republican in office.  In fact, this is one of the motivations behind this rule—Senators should reflect the political disposition of the State.  If enough people in Maryland really want a Republican Senator, then they will work to get a Republican State Legislature.  In fact, I firmly believe that if more people focused on their local politicians rather than national offices such as the presidency, they’d have much more control over their government, and would be happier with the representation they were getting, both in Annapolis and in DC.  This, I think we can do if we change the way we look at politics, and focus on making Maryland a 2-party state instead of a monopoly for the Democratic Party which it has been for its entire history.

Regarding how to get out the message of freedom in an era of 30-second soundbites, this is really up to the people of Maryland.  If they want to hear my message, they will donate to my campaign and give me the platform to speak—in the form of TV ads, mailers, radio spots, etc.  I don’t have to have the most money—I just have to have the backing of the citizens of Maryland, or even of the Republican Party.  However, the grander question is, “Does the Republican Party want to be represented by the message of freedom?”  Do they want it on their airwaves or plastered on billboards across the state?  Last election, the message we heard in Maryland was extremely diluted down to “More Jobs, Lower Taxes.”  Although the Tea Parties had a great influence, and basically saved the MDGOP from extinction, the establishment shunned the Tea Parties and rejected their message of a return to the Constitution and conservative values.

Ben Cardin is sitting on a lot more than a million dollars.  One report I read from several years back showed his personal wealth above $5 million—which he could donate to his own campaign.  But in 2006, Cardin raised over $9 million.  Even though Michael Steele reportedly raised slightly more, Cardin won the election.  So at the end of the day, it is not about dollar figures alone.  With Barack Obama on the ticket and the future of America at stake, we can expect Cardin to exceed $10 million or more, if such amounts are needed to keep the seat in Democratic hands.  Cardin basically has unlimited funds, and can raise whatever he needs.  But more than money, it is the message that will make the difference of a win or a loss in 2012.  If the people of Maryland are ready for a change to what they’ve been getting—a change from high unemployment, high taxes, high inflation, and high treason against the Constitution, then all of these messages combined can overcome those millions.  If they are tired of their money being used to fund abortion clinics, violate their religious liberties, indoctrinate their children with socialist values in public schools, and dole out their money to entice illegal immigrants to settle here, they will also have motivation, regardless of party, to demand new representation.  People can get out and start spreading the word that a renewed spirit of freedom is in the air, and that we must change our way of doing business if we want to pass on a Maryland (and an America) to our children and our grandchildren that was as vibrant and free as the one we grew up in.  We are on the verge of an ideological split, and like in 1861, today we are very much a “house divided.”  However, the division today is not over race and cotton.  It is over freedom to live and work and do as you please versus subservience to an oppressive state that declares that all must participate in the “shared sacrifice” of a tyrant’s will.  Such tyranny is not lodged in a single party—it is lodged in the will of all our politicians to violate the principles of the Constitution, the only thing that guards our freedoms.

I plan to offer the people a choice in the matter: freedom, not slavery—liberty, not death.   If freedom is popular, and if the people value their liberty, then nothing can stop us from winning.  But if they prefer anything above liberty—whether it be safety or security, wealth or celebrity, then they will receive anything but liberty.

To illustrate this point, I will quote Madison again (whom, because of his short-sightedness, I am not a fan of) but who recognized the dangers of Obamacare 224 years ago when he wrote in Federalist #57, “If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the  genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.  If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.

There is a very serious problem that has arisen within our government, and we need someone who will go to Washington, who will fight for Maryland and its people, and who will not rest or cease from fighting until that problem is fixed.

monoblogue: Well, there’s not a lot I can argue with there, aside from the fact that I took the million-dollar figure from Cardin’s most recent FEC report. But speaking of getting out the message, are you finding your work with Protect Marriage Maryland and travel around the state in promoting marriage between one man and one woman is giving you a leg up for campaigning? How much influence do you think social conservatives can have in this state?

RB: I believe that working on the marriage issue has given people a subject to associate my name with. People who care about preserving traditional marriage very often associate me with it. At the same time, people who are opposed to preserving traditional marriage also know me as a pariah. In my view, this helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. People who outright reject social conservatism will most likely go and find other candidates to support.

On that note, I do believe that social conservatives can have a great influence in this state, but like everything else, it depends on them wanting to make their voice heard. The first question Republicans must ask themselves is, “Why am I a Republican?” Some will just be Republicans because their parents were Republicans and they were raised to like the Republican “brand.” But if anyone is a Republican because they truly believe in a set of principles, they will most likely find themselves describing conservative principles. Is there a difference between social conservatism and other forms of conservatism? On the surface, the answer seems to be, “yes,” but in reality, the answer is, “no.” When you look at issues like abortion, single-parenthood, inner-city violence, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, etc, these all boil down to economic issues, even moreso than being issues of faith. The chief distinction of where we fall is whether we let our particular circumstances interfere with our own willingness to support the conservative message.

(It is important to note that like most Blacks in America, I did not start as a conservative, and would not have identified myself as a conservative 10 years ago. But the more I have thought on the issues, the more I realize that I either have been a conservative all my life, but didn’t know it, or that I want to be a conservative on certain issues, but just can’t bring myself to give up certain idiosyncrasies that I’ve grown up with, such as identity-politics or a deep-seated belief that there are some things people can’t do without government.)

To that point, the question of being a conservative (and more importantly a social conservative) rests largely with the MDGOP & the National GOP’s desire to push the message out to voters that conservatism is cool. As long as the MDGOP’s mantra is that we have to moderate on some issues to win over liberals, we will never be in a position to win the argument. What they are really saying is that they do not feel confident enough about their own ideology to convince others that it is the right philosophical approach to life.

The reality is that like myself, most Marylanders have been conservative all their lives, but didn’t know it. They believe in liberty, fiscal responsibility, and that justice is best achieved by adhering to the rule of law. They believe in treating other people the way they’d want to be treated—which means not only giving lovingly from your heart, but also showing “tough love” by withholding charity when instead what the person needs is a swift kick in the rear. They believe in doing “what’s right,” and that means sometimes you’ve got to tighten your belt and delay gratification to get through the tough times and see better days.

The unfortunate thing is that liberalism (or statism) teaches people that government can solve all their woes, and even better than that, it can solve them instantaneously—all they have to do is believe that government is the answer to all their problems and serve it unerringly. Whenever government fails, just turn a blind eye or blame the other party; and whenever things go well (no matter how slightly,) showcase it as evidence that government works. Yet the truth is that government cannot ever make your life significantly better. It can only make you dependent. And it is unraveling this fallacy that causes the fiscal conservative (or conservatives of another category) to eventually arrive at the same point as the social conservative. The social conservative isn’t so because he worships a certain religion (although he may have found conservatism because of his religious beliefs.) The social conservative is so because he wants to stand on his own two feet. To do so, he must act with wisdom, which means avoiding foolish risks and frivolous lifestyle choices. If he does make such a bad choice, then he must be prepared to live with the consequences—he does not expect society to pick up the slack for his personal decisions.

And this is the difference. Every time you hear a Republican say something like, “I’m normally against government welfare, but…” you are witnessing a fiscal conservative cave in to his own principles. And the liberal (statist) has a million ways to pry us from our values. Their favorites are words like “compassion,” “love,” and “pity.” Another one is a hyphenated form of the word, “justice.” Recently, they’ve begun toying with the words “sacrifice” and “tolerance” to achieve the same effect. Conservatism (which is self-reliance or at least a desire for independence) requires the ability to reject all these things when they drive us away from our better selves. Liberty requires that we can place something above grandiose ideas like “love” or “tolerance.” Indeed, we can put our needs before the desires of others, and we can put our families before other families, and we can put our faith in God before other noble ideas like “love” and “tolerance.” Even “fairness,” sometimes, will fall to our greater sense of self-preservation—but that’s what liberty is all about. Liberty is not the idea that you have to do what others want—it is the idea that you can do what you want, even if others disagree.

This is a lesson that my ancestors learned and passed down through the generations, as they yearned for liberty from the slavemasters’ plantations. This is the lesson that our founders fought for as they rebelled against their King and created a new government to protect their liberties. And I believe that if we promote this message effectively, the people of Maryland will see it is a fire that still burns in their hearts and minds.

So, I do not see social conservatives as being the minority in this state—not by a long shot. I see them as being the dominant majority. It is a bit sad that their strength is not self-evident. It is just a matter of time before they awaken and realize that what they want in their hearts can be achieved by voting for a guy like me, running on a Republican ticket, and that what they want can be achieved in this next election. It won’t take 20 years of being a career politician, nor will it take a complete turnaround of the statehouse. Putting the right person in the House or Senate can magnify their voice 1,000 times beyond what they have now, which is complete silence. Not only that, but they will not get this magnified voice with any other candidate—Ben Cardin is actually stifling their voice. I will not pretend that it won’t be a struggle to get them to realize this, but I do believe that in the near-term, it can be done.

monoblogue: I think this has been a pretty thorough discussion. Is there anything else you want to add to “close the sale”?

RB: Thanks a lot, Michael.

I would simply close by saying that identifying with conservative values has enabled me to better consider why we instituted a government among ourselves, and what the Constitution is really all about.  It has enabled me to see–as many abolitionists like Frederick Douglass did well before 1865–that the Constitution is a “freedom document,” which in its best interpretation should be looked at as embodying the spirit of Independence that fueled the founding of these united States.  It has also caused me to take a more serious look at how money is created and used in our financial system.  No government that preserves an individual right to property (as our 5th amendment requires ours to) can do so without supporting a capitalist economic system based on sound money.  And it has enabled me to see that in our current struggle, the Republican Party is the party that stands for the liberty, independence, and even the equality of opportunity for all people willing to put in the required work and remain dedicated to achieving success, happiness, and prosperity.

The greatest threat to our future can be described in two ways that are closely related:  the first is forgetting that we were created as a republic of free and independent States.  It is the States that serve as a check on the national government to protect the rights and sovereignty of the people.  We are losing this as we embrace an increasingly nationalist government.  The second is in neglecting the vital importance and proper interpretation of the 10th Amendment, which locked into the Constitution the very principle of the rights and sovereignty of the States.  The 10th Amendment tells us how to read the rest of the Constitution, and defines its character completely.  The notion that the government’s powers are limited, and that it does not have the authority to employ any means whatever to achieve its desired ends over the rights of the people are contained nowhere else in the Constitution but there.  Obamacare represents an unbridled assault on the heart of the Constitution in the form of rendering inert the 10th Amendment.  I have had several occasions to speak with Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, and he expressed the same concerns.  I stand by his efforts and the efforts of other States’ Attorneys General to defend the rights and sovereignty of their States regarding an issue that the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved with.  We all need to stand in this critical hour—in 2012–to save our States and protect our republic, as that is the only way we will protect our liberties.

**********

Personally, I think Broadus lays out a very compelling case as a conservative Senator. He obviously has the strikes against him of a lack of name recognition in most of the state and perhaps being too closely identified on the surface as a one-issue candidate. However, in this interview he displays a depth of thought which should be able to convince voters he has sound positions on most issues outside the narrow range of social conservatism.

That narrow base of support could be his downfall in an election year such as 2012, where the primary is early. That gives an advantage to candidates who already have a support system in place.

Yet Robert reminds me a little bit of 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge – not necessarily in style, but in the way he speaks at length and depth about conservative issues. If Robert’s as good of a speaker as he is a writer, I’d love to watch him mop up the stage with Ben Cardin in a debate – that’s probably why you won’t see one.

An alternative arises

I actually learned of this group a couple months ago, but it took awhile for them to get their website off the ground.

Like it or not, money talks in politics. That’s the way the system is set up and no matter how much some on the Left pine for public financing of campaigns that’s not a viable model. To begin with, who decides what the criteria is for a candidate? The hypocrisy shows most clearly in their chosen 2008 candidate eschewing the public finance laws and raising hundreds of millions of dollars – this time he’s shooting for a billion.

So a group of conservatives got together and realized a shocking truth – we on the right may have let some close races slip away by not having enough financial backing. For want of 641 votes, Michael James could have eliminated Jim Mathias from state office after just one term and a few weeks – now we’re stuck with him for at least four long years. A number of House seats could have turned if Republicans had gained additional vote totals like 284, 319, 398, and 491. That would have put the GOP delegation in the House of Delegates right at the magic number of 47, a total which would guarantee relevancy because, united, they could bypass committees on key bills. (It’s sort of a nuclear option, but it can be done.) Locally, Mike McDermott flipped the House seat formerly held by Jim Mathias but imagine the impact if Delegate Norm “Five Dollar” Conway had been defeated by Marty Pusey, the queen of eliminating two laws for each one passed? Now that would be leadership in the right direction.

Of course, the CCforMD group is seeking to raise money. First among their fundraisers is a raffle for a Beretta shotgun, to be held in late October at the MarylandCAN conference. (Tickets start at $5.)

Granted, making money $5 at a time isn’t going to raise a significant sum right away but it’s seed money for the real fundraising the group will need to do by 2014. And in focusing on local, comparatively low-dollar races I’m sure the group feels it will get more bang for the buck. (Yes, the pun was intended. I’m here all week.) Contributing $1,000 to a House of Delegates race will help a conservative candidiate more than donating $5,000 to a statewide race (although both are necessary.)

Perhaps the future of politics is within organizations such as these which work outside the party apparatus. Lord knows the Maryland Republican Party doesn’t have a great deal of resources to work with, but part of the state party’s problem is in the brand name created by their national big brothers; for every conservative firebrand like Michele Bachmann or Jim DeMint the Beltway establishment seems to back at least one or more squishy moderates – cases in point: Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe, House candidate Dede Scozzafava of New York, or former Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Conservatives tend to look past the party affiliation and kingmaking done by party leaders on high to donate to individual campaigns. (DeMint has taken it upon himself to back conservative primary challengers to establishment-backed candidates.)

Obviously CCforMD joins a crowded field of political groups looking for money in tough times. But at least you have a shot (again, those gun puns!) at something tangible in return soon and better political leadership down the road.

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