Something better to do

March 31, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Radical Green · 1 Comment 

As I have the last few years, I wanted to take time out and encourage people to follow the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s lead and celebrate Human Achievement Hour later tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30. As Christine Hall of CEI notes, Human Achievement Hour is “an annual celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. ” We should “enjoy the benefits of capitalism and human innovation,” she added.

It’s unfortunate that the timing of particular events didn’t lend itself to a fairly proper local celebration of Human Achievement Hour, but that report will have to wait until next week I suppose. Petting Hendrix cranking out tunes with bright lights and several hundred watts of amplification seemed a fitting way to celebrate the time period since they were the ones on stage at that time, but alas that all happened last week. However, I’m sure a number of local venues are hosting live music tonight and that will do just fine just so long as it’s not unplugged acoustic.

In fact, it just so happened that I did a bang-up job of celebrating this four years ago, before I even knew about Human Achievement Hour. That celebration didn’t come along until 2009, when I noted the event’s first rendition. I also made mention of this in 2010 and last year when I rolled it into a Weekend of local rock post. The point is, we live in a society which depends on those things we have created to make our lives better, and sitting in the dark to celebrate Earth Hour – which just happens to coincide – believing it makes a difference only places a bold “S” on your forehead, meaning “sucker.”

Do I believe we should strive for energy efficiency? Absolutely, when it makes sense to do so based on a solid cost vs. benefit analysis. (I liked to use a payback period of five years or less in mine.) Problem is the same people who believe we should sit in the dark for an hour would eventually love to make us do so by fiat, or else creating the conditions where we will be forced into such a situation.

Unlike previous years, it does not appear that Maryland state government will participate; however, the National Cathedral in Washington and National Aquarium in Baltimore will participate. To be honest, the National Aquarium will be more of a symbolic effort because I can guarantee you the aquatic life they’re supporting needs some power to maintain their respective environments. If they completely went black you’d have a lot of dead fish. (They are also closed to the public during that time frame anyway so it’s not like they’re losing business.)

And that’s the rub. There are people and entities who know they can do Earth Hour to look politically correct yet not pay for it in the long run. Notice as well this falls on the weekend, when many are home enjoying their lifestyle. This wouldn’t fly if they tried it on a weekday evening when kids are doing homework or parents are running late-evening errands. Saturday is that day many people relax, perhaps by visiting the National Aquarium.

In particular, I’m sure their staff has probably fallen for this global climate change garbage hook, line, and sinker. They forget that it’s progress and abundant, reasonably-priced energy created from fossil fuels which aids in making the lifestyle where people can afford to pony up $25 to $30 to visit. Have you ever wondered why there’s not such a facility in places like Rwanda or Bangladesh? It’s because most people in those wretched places are worrying about where their next meal will come from and can only dream of having disposable income to spend.

And it’s in the vein of knowing we live in the greatest society the planet has ever known that we celebrate Human Achievement Hour. I’m not sure just what I’ll be doing, but I doubt that it will involve sitting in the dark being environmentally correct.

One last appeal

On Thursday Anne Arundel County voters got to meet a half-dozen of the aspirants for the United States Senate in one of the last debates before the April 3 primary.

Video streaming by Ustream

The Maryland GOP was heavily promoting this event, so if you haven’t made up your mind yet, this is a chance to do so.

136 conservatives

It took us many decades to dig ourselves into this hole, but at least there are some Republicans out there looking to build the ladder to climb our way out. (Obviously they have already adopted the common sense to know we can’t dig our way out of a hole, as President Obama seems to think.)

The Republican Study Committee came up with a budget that’s supposedly going to balance by 2017. Now I know this brings back memories of President Clinton telling us that the budget would be balanced in four, five, six, seven, or ten years (take your pick; he pretty much promised all of them) and of course, the Congress we have in five years could be completely different than the one we have now. So there’s no safe prediction in Washington, just as it was a surprise that Clinton adopted budgets which were at least nominally balanced thanks to Newt Gingrich and House Republicans.

And while readers can partake in several analyses of the RSC budget (like these by the Heritage Foundation and Veronique de Rugy) I want to focus on the actions of our local Congressman, Andy Harris.

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Next up: a chicken in every pot?

March 29, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2012, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Next up: a chicken in every pot? 

I get a lot of e-mail from Congressional candidates; it’s part of the job. But this one intrigued me, slight grammatical errors, sentence fragments, misspellings and all.

Maryland’s 6th District Republican voters will have a little bit more spending money after today.

Thanks to Peter James, who is mailing voters 1/2 Green JUST MONEY notes.

“The bankers loaned themselves trillions of dollars from money they essentially created out of thin air. I thought the average Joe could use an interest free loan for a change. So I am mailing money to voters throughout the district.”, James said.

According a recent partial Federal Reserve audit the Fed loaned $16 trillion at near ZERO interest. $7 trillion of these loans went to foreign banks.

US banks now have $1.5 trillion in excess reserves for which the American taxpayer is paying them interest.

“While America suffers, big bankers grow rich on interest payments on their excess reserves. These reserves represent $1 million for each and every one of 12.8 million unemployed in America that could just as easily be injected into the economy in the form of low interest loans.”, exclaimed James.

All JUST MONEY notes are backed and redeemable in lettuce. A growing list of farmers and local merchants redeem JUST MONEY for goods and services. The advantages of a JUST MONEY over private bank credit money is that it bears no interest and does not loses it value over time.

The concept is explained in somewhat more depth here, but if the money were legal tender wouldn’t this be considered buying votes?

Peter is no stranger to politics, and it may come as a surprise that he actually has been a Republican nominee for Congress before. In 2008 James won the nod in the Fourth District over three other candidates before losing to Donna Edwards in the general election with just 13% of the vote. (He did get 26.7% in the Montgomery County portion of the district, though.)

But one has to ask whether the “Just Money” is really all that much different than the system we have now. After all, even if one pegs the value of the currency to that of a head of lettuce or other commodities, wouldn’t an oversupply of the commodity make the currency worth less? Truly it’s no different than the farmer who considers whether to plant wheat, corn, or soybeans based on what his prediction of the market will be come harvest time, except the farmer is paid in dollars which he can use in other places. Sure, the value of a dollar isn’t what it used to be years ago but there’s no guarantee that Just Money will buy the half-head of lettuce a year from now either unless the grower is convinced he can use it for other items, too. Perhaps it’s more like a coupon in this respect.

Moreover, there are many methods of trading value which don’t involve dollars. For example, we’ve often used the lasagna trick for getting people to help us move or do other tasks – sharing in a pan of good lasagna can be worth the afternoon of toil.

So in essence James is trying to buy votes, and enrich himself in the process. Because he is one of the farmers who accepts Just Money at his place of business (I presume it’s a vegetable stand of some sort) he would also be able to receive actual dollars for other items purchased as well – I sincerely doubt his stand is completely independent of our national legal tender. I can pretty much guarantee you that not all of his suppliers are Just Money fans.

I get the point that we need to shore up the purchasing power of our dollar, and the best way to do so is to not continually ratchet up debt. But sending out Just Money notes seems more like self-promotion than actually addressing the issue.

Oh, and Peter: please have someone review your press releases before they’re sent out. I’d be happy to give it a shot, but you’ll have to pay me more than Just Money.

Senate and early voting updates

In the last week of the campaign Richard Douglas is making a charge down the stretch to grab the GOP nod for U.S. Senate. Witness this commercial, which is actually a pretty well-done 30-second spot:

But I can’t help noticing parallels between the 2010 and 2012 GOP Senate races. The two things which got eventual 2010 nominee Eric Wargotz through the primary and into a general election shellacking by Barbara Mikulski were the tacit backing of the state party establishment (as opposed to Jim Rutledge, who was perceived as more of a TEA Party candidate) and a lot of the candidate’s money. Fast forward to 2012 and you find that, on the first point, Richard Douglas has retained the services of Lawrence Scott’s political consulting firm. Lawrence Scott is the son of former MDGOP Chair and National Committeewoman candidate Audrey Scott, who has also endorsed Douglas.

I don’t doubt that Scott Strategies has had its share of successes over the years, but FEC records show his firm has received over $27,000 from Douglas. By comparison, the campaign has raised just over $26,000 in individual contributions.

So where is the money for what the Douglas campaign describes as a “six figure advertising buy focused on statewide radio, direct mail and voter turnout phone calls as the April 3 primary nears” coming from? Richard has secured over $100,000 in candidate loans, meaning his campaign is (as of the March 14 filing date) nearly $111,000 in debt with just over $20,000 cash on hand.

This is similar to 2010, where Eric Wargotz had over $500,000 cash on hand before his September primary but was $575,000 in debt based on campaign loans (he ended up raising just over $250,000 from outside contributors for the 2010 campaign but spent $1.24 million overall.)

By comparison, Dan Bongino raised over $187,000 in individual contributions by March 14, and had only loaned $3,000 to his campaign. A significant portion of his expenditures went to several paid members of his campaign rather than to an outside consultant. But maybe he needed a better audio feed for this spot, because it doesn’t compare well with his radio ads.

Of course, financially neither holds a candle to the nearly $1.9 million Ben Cardin had on hand. Ben obviously didn’t sleep through the class on how to shake down unions, PACs, and other special interests for campaign cash.

I also wanted to add a few words about early voting in Maryland. So far, according to the latest figures which now include five days of the six-day process, not even 2% of voters have come out. Even if the final day is as busy as Saturday was, fewer than one out of 40 registered voters will partake in the process. So I must ask: why are we bothering?

The only counties which may have significant early turnout (that being on the order of seven to eight percent) are Talbot and Kent counties; on the other hand some of the largest counties will likely lag under 2%. (Wicomico is at 2.37% with 1,063 voting at the Civic Center so far.)

As far as party affiliation, the GOP is ahead in terms of percentage with 2.17% turnout compared to 1.97% for Democrats. That’s a little ironic given the fact the GOP didn’t care for early voting when it was presented to the General Assembly, but  both parties have encouraged its use since.

As for me, I’m going to the polls Tuesday like we should.

Environmentalist doesn’t tell the whole story

A good friend of mine tipped me off to this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun from March 5 and encouraged me to write a rebuttal. The paper wouldn’t take it as an op-ed nor run a shortened version as a letter, so in the spirit of never letting good writing go to waste I’m posting it here.

As the energy industry has arrived in our state in hopes of extracting the natural gas which lies underneath in the Marcellus Shale formation, the term fracking has become part of our vocabulary. As a Maryland resident who has no stake in the energy industry, aside from my role as a consumer of those elements used to create the gasoline and electricity I need for my various jobs and the heating oil I use to heat my hot water and household, my main concerns are twofold: reliable energy which doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. I suspect those concerns are shared by a vast majority of us.

The cost competitiveness and abundant supply of natural gas gives Americans a great asset, but only if we choose to take advantage of it. This choice, though, is one environmentalists want to frighten us away from because natural gas is not a renewable source. And it’s obvious that some people just can’t stand prosperity as a recent op-ed by Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune demonstrates.

In his piece Brune disparages the entire natural gas industry with a palette of half-truths and wild assumptions. But the bad news for Marylanders is that Brune seems to have the ear of Governor O’Malley. It’s obvious that both are only too happy to impact the coastal environment of the Atlantic as well as areas of western Maryland by building noisy, unreliable, and unsightly windmill farms because they’re perceived as the politically correct thing to do, but those tried and true methods of getting the energy and job creation our state desperately needs are unappealing to them.

And the allegations that Brune makes don’t stand up to scrutiny. For example, hydraulic fracturing has been used in more than one million oil and natural gas wells in the United States since the 1940s, and despite Brune’s strictly anecdotal reports to the contrary not one confirmed case of groundwater contamination stemming from fracturing has been documented, according to a recent University of Texas study. And regarding his shrill warnings about the dangers of piping the natural gas he fails to mention that natural gas is already piped to points across the country via a network spanning well over 300,000 miles nationwide – including almost 1,000 miles lying under Maryland and Washington, D.C. An existing pipeline already services the Cove Point LNG terminal!

One has to wonder why Brune isn’t telling you those facts I easily found with a little bit of research. Perhaps it’s because he wants us to “invest in” (read: subsidize with taxpayer dollars) sources like wind, solar, and geothermal, as well as emphasize energy efficiency. Most of us realize taxpayers can pump all the money we want into these sources but we can’t spend our way into making the wind blow just the right speed to make turbines work effectively all the time, nor can we compel the sun to shine 24 hours a day. Geothermal energy is more promising, but has a limited amount of effectiveness and also requires hazardous pipeline fluid chemicals to handle the wide temperature swings.

And while we should strive for cost-effective energy efficiency, it shouldn’t come with a price tag of reducing our standard of living. A shuttered coal plant is neither efficient nor a job producer, but it’s a badge of honor to a radical like Brune. For those placed out of work by the closure, though, it’s only their economic livelihood they’re losing. No doubt Brune and O’Malley would gladly “invest” government dollars into teaching them the skills needed for a non-existent “green” job.

Environmentalists could be taken more seriously and provide a better service to residents by not obfuscating their argument with scare tactics. Most people have the sense to know that fossil fuels won’t be around forever, but for the foreseeable future the market favors reliable sources of energy including natural gas. If you’re enjoying the current decline in natural gas prices and the resulting extra money in your pocket, you can thank hydraulic fracturing because it’s that decades-old “new” technology increasing supplies, driving down prices, and actually bringing back a discussion about helping our nation’s balance of trade by exporting natural gas.

Who would have ever thought we could beat OPEC at its own game? Let’s put Maryland to work building for the prosperity of tomorrow by making use of that which we have in abundance.

2012 campaign comes to Salisbury as Gingrich gives a ‘different’ speech

They were lined up an hour early at Holloway Hall at Salisbury University to witness a little history – for the first time in recent memory the presidential campaign came to the lower Eastern Shore.

And true to the advice given by one university official who stressed the school wanted to promote “critical thinking” without heckling or other inappropriate disruptions, the audience of about 200 inside the hall was very well-behaved. The parents of these SU students should be quite proud of how their charges acted inside the hall. Once the question-and-answer period began it was obvious that not all in the room shared Gingrich’s worldview but the discussion was extremely civil.

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New sponsor and new milestone

March 27, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off on New sponsor and new milestone 

It’s an exciting day at monoblogue, made even moreso by the fact the presidential race came to Salisbury and I was there to cover the event. Yesterday I finalized a long-term sponsor to the site, so I encourage you to check out TEA Party Posters at Welcome aboard John!

And late last night I found out that my site had finally broken through the 300,000 barrier in Alexa rank – when you figure this is somewhat of a regional website that’s pretty rarefied air. I’m just a little outside cracking the 50,000 rank for the first time insofar as U.S. rank goes as well. (Update: made it today!)

My rankings have been going down (like golf, lower is better) because people have been coming to my site of late. Readership has been surging with a number of well-read posts on Trayvon Martin, the Maryland presidential primary, and my U.S. Senate endorsement being just a few.

And look for more exciting stuff in the days to come!

Gingrich to make SU appearance

March 27, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Gingrich to make SU appearance 

Well, the Presidential campaign comes to the Eastern Shore – but you need to be a member of the SU campus community to see him.

Taking a page from fellow competitor Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich will be appearing at Holloway Hall tomorrow afternoon from 3 to 4 p.m. However, the event is closed to the general public as it’s only open to those with campus ID.

More as the story develops…

Update: I managed to talk my way into the event through a friend, so a full report tonight.

WCRC meeting – March 2012

It was a last-ditch effort to garner votes, and we’ll see how much it helps next Tuesday night. But U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas was introduced to the Wicomico County Republican Club and was rather well-received.

Of course we did our usual bit of club business, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance before I read a rather lengthy accounting of the February meeting. We even had a hiccup in the treasurer’s report that I pointed out. But none of it dissuaded the Republican who boldly proclaimed for his opening, “I’m here because I want to beat Ben Cardin.”

To illustrate his point, Douglas took us back about three decades. When he left the Navy in 1979, he took his GI Bill benefits and enrolled at the University of South Florida where a professor told him the Soviet Union would be eternal and America would have to learn to live with it. Well, we saw how that turned out, and while there are those in Annapolis who would have us believe that one-party rule in Maryland is eternal as well, that’s not necessarily so.

Rich compared Ben Cardin to a brick in a wall – as the mortar is wearing away, soon the brick would drop from the wall and the remainder of the house would follow. And Douglas wasn’t going to be timid in his role, either, warning “Martin O’Malley is going to be one unhappy fella” when Rich wins. “(He’ll) wish he’d never heard my name,” continued Douglas, because he has a “duty to speak” as a Senator. Douglas promised to be our voice and vote in the Senate.

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Trayvon Martin is dead. Did a colorblind society die with him?

March 26, 2012 · Posted in National politics, Politics · 8 Comments 

Considering the incident in question occurred several weeks ago on February 26, the fact this story has anymore legs than the dozens of other shootings which occur each day makes me ponder why.

I will grant that there are a number of interpretations about what happened, but the end result is that a 17-year-old is dead and there is a bounty reportedly placed on the head of the shooter. But what makes it any different than another case where a teenager is gunned down? In my mind there are two key reasons, and both have significant political import.

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The key nine days

March 25, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on The key nine days 

Well, as Mitt Romney says on his website, “it’s your turn, Maryland.” But will the turn be expressed in simple media buys or are we going to be graced with the presence of the four major candidates? That’s the question which doesn’t seem to have an answer, but unfortunately the signs presently point to a heavier emphasis on Wisconsin (which also votes April 3 and has a slightly larger delegate package) than on Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Most would consider Mitt Romney the favorite in this state, which is relatively similar in makeup to a number of other Northeast states where he’s done well. Mitt was the first to visit this state last week by holding a townhall meeting in Arbutus, but he’s also cultivated a long list of endorsements from state elected officials and party insiders in the months leading up to the primary. Add in the fact he has plenty of money to saturate the state’s two key media markets (one of which he also used leading up to the Virginia primary) and he may not even feel the need to visit the state again.

Newt Gingrich hasn’t been a stranger to Maryland, being the keynote speaker at the state party’s Red White and Blue Dinner twice in the last three years (the other speaker was Mitt Romney in 2010.) But while he has a Delaware appearance on his upcoming schedule tomorrow evening at Hockessin (near Wilmington), there are no Maryland events on his docket yet. However, Newt does not have a Wisconsin event slated for himself until Thursday evening, meaning he could spend the midweek in the Free State.

Moreover, Gingrich has an incentive to campaign in this area, as First District Congressman Andy Harris is one of his state co-chairs. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Gingrich will be in Annapolis Tuesday, which fits with the Delaware event.

Ron Paul has already slated a Maryland event, appearing at a rally at the University of Maryland on Wednesday evening. But he has slowed down his appearances since keeping up a frenetic pace in caucus states earlier this month, sticking mainly to rallies at large colleges (such as the University of Maryland) in other states.

So far Rick Santorum has a limited number of events on his calendar, all in Wisconsin. It’s likely he would be in the Badger State until at least Tuesday, when he has two rallies there. In theory he could be in Maryland tomorrow but that’s very short notice. Given that his rallies seem to be somewhat lengthy affairs, there would likely need to be some advance notice so if he’s indeed coming to Maryland it’s likely Rick would make a final push here closer to the end of the week.

And while early voting has commenced, the vast majority of votes will still be cast on Election Day April 3. So if presidential candidates want to do some retail politicking here in Maryland, their opportunity to do so is waning quickly.

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