A new beginning: ‘So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy’

July 31, 2012 · Posted in 50 Year Plan, Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Allow me to introduce my first book.

Over perhaps a three-year span, off and on, I have been at work on a manuscript. I took some of the ideas I originally wrote here as a series of posts in 2007 and revised and greatly expanded on them to a point where I felt I had a pretty good book on my hands. But the story doesn’t end there; in fact, that’s barely a start.

Most of you know that I have done monoblogue since 2005, and maybe you’re aware that before monoblogue I did a predecessor site for a few months called ttown’s right wing conspiracy. I’ve also been featured as a contributor or regular writer on a number of other internet sites, done the occasional radio interview, and gotten myself in papers around the country a time or two. But in all that, I knew nothing about the publishing business.

Last fall, knowing the 2012 elections were approaching, I decided to become a lot more serious about transforming this manuscript from a file in my computer to something people can use as a political guide to needed change in America. Secondary to that, of course, was the concept of actually making a little money from my talents – after all, sponsors here have been few and far between given all the media competition I have.

So after Christmas I began pitching this book idea to agents. But there was a huge problem, and it really had nothing to do with the few rejections I received. As I studied the publishing business, I found out that the path for taking my book from the stage it was in to something you can hold in your hands via that traditional route took many months – and remember, I wanted to time this to the 2012 elections. Putting my volume out in 2013 or even 2014 wasn’t going to have nearly the desired impact.

Instead, the more I learned about internet publishing, the more it made sense for both time’s sake and monetarily. In fact, the process I used took me a few hours over the weekend after I finished a final rewrite last week. My goal was to have this done by the end of July; in truth my physical book was ready for order a couple days ago and the e-book yesterday but like any good CD or video game promoter I decided to use Tuesday as an “official” release day.

Now the question is: will So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy sell? Technically I break even after a ridiculously small number of books since my budget in creating this was extremely limited by economic circumstance. (Because of that, I kept a fairly low price point: $7.99 for a printed book and $4.99 for a Kindle e-book.) But I have a goal of selling 50,000 copies between e-book and hardcover – why not? I understand the average book sells around 100 copies, or so I’m told, but if every one of my social media friends bought one I’d be well on my way, and if they promoted the book I could advance even faster. I’m happy to do radio, print interviews, even television if that’s what it takes, and I know I have some friends in the media who can arrange just that along with the all-important word-of-mouth if you think it’s that good. Besides, if you look at the PJ Media post I linked to, that same writer sold 50,000 books in a six-month period. Even if I fall short, though, the overall message I preach spreads far beyond this small venue.

But there’s also the effect your support of this venture can have on my chosen avocation of writing. As if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoy creating content but what I don’t enjoy is steady income. If enough people purchase this book and put my name out there, it creates opportunities for me to use my God-given talent in new and exciting venues like syndication or other more regular national venues. (Of course, they can come here too, for lower Alexa rankings can also bring advertising to this site.)

I didn’t know it at the time, but perhaps the last seven-plus years have placed me at the cusp of success. And even if this book doesn’t make the best-seller lists, a reasonable number of sales would mean a little bit of financial security for me and the opportunity to invest those profits into making an even better sophomore effort. (This book was literally DIY, from the cover to working on the HTML to attempt to make the Kindle version a little better.) Having done this writing process once, now I know where things can be improved.

At this point, the success of SWMBF relies on two things: how I promote the book and how readers react. Luckily, there’s not a large investment involved on your part – essentially it’s the price of a latte for a read which should be completed in a few hours (the print version is 166 pages.)

In doing over 3,000 blog posts, a year’s worth of syndicated columns, many months of stories for the Patriot Post, and numerous items in other venues, the challenge for me has rarely been figuring out what to say, but generally how to sell the argument I’m making in a manner which makes the reader react by looking for the next piece I write. Content is always king, but good content makes the kingdom. Today I embark on a new Crusade, and it’s up to you to help make it a success.

As always, I thank you from the bottom from my heart for your support.

A statement of Christian support

July 30, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Patriot Post, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A statement of Christian support 

I saw this in my e-mail today and I’m now indirectly a part of it in two respects.

The Patriot Post has opened up a petition to show support for Chick-fil-A and over 6,000 have signed up. That’s all well and good, and I added my name to the list.

But the other interesting part is the “read more” afterward. Once I read the first sentence I said to myself, “that looks familiar.” Indeed, it was part of their Digest last week, and the article in question just so happens to be one of my contributions (although slightly edited from the original as the PP editor added the part about Louis Farrakhan and tweaked some wording here and there. He also changed the title, but that’s okay.)

It’s one of those jobs I do each week that doesn’t get noticed because I don’t get a byline there; however, that’s really not the point. I truly enjoy being part of a team of a couple dozen from around the country who work on that publication every week. But I thought you folks here might be interested to know that little tidbit and connection.

Now sign the petition and perhaps I’ll see you on Wednesday at Chick-fil-A.

The end of a bad O’Malley month

Updated below, at end of post.

Before everyone goes on vacation and tunes out until Labor Day, Martin O’Malley’s worst Presidential campaign nightmare fired yet another salvo at the good ship S.S. O’Malley 2016. The 18,000-strong Change Maryland group found more interesting data to back up a new claim that 6,500 businesses have pulled up stakes and left the Free State in the 2007-2010 time period.

And I like this Change Maryland release because they added the context I’ve had to provide with their numbers over the last month. Someone has been doing his homework!

Here you go:

Change Maryland announced today that nearly 6,500 small businesses vanished or left the state since 2007 – more evidence of a sharp decline in the productive components of the economy.  As with other reports Change Maryland has produced, this publicly available data comes from government sources, namely the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Governor O’Malley says repeatedly the most important priority is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  “If we are to hold the Governor accountable to the standard he set, then by every objective measure he has failed miserably.”

This latest Change Maryland report draws on census bureau economic research that quantifies the number of firms from one to 99 employees during 2007 to 2010, the latest year for which numbers are available.  Confirming earlier Change Maryland findings, government data shows the state’s ability to support business, produce jobs and maintain its tax base is eroding. This report comes on the heels of Maryland leading the region in job loss this year and in out-migration of tax payers from 2007 to 2010.

Since 2007, in addition to losing 6,494 small businesses, Maryland has lost 31,000 residents of tax-paying households and 40,000 jobs. “The pattern here is unmistakable,” said Hogan. “In record numbers, taxpayers, jobs and small businesses are fleeing state government’s big-spending, over-taxed, over-regulated, anti-jobs agenda.”

Maryland’s loss of small businesses is statistically tied with Delaware as the worst in the region, as a percentage of such firms that existed in 2007.  Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia saw relatively smaller declines in a period of economic activity marked by pre-recession, recession and feeble recovery.   On a percentage basis of firms lost, Delaware lost 4.72%, Maryland 4.71%, West Virginia 4.51%, Virginia 3.66%, and Pennsylvania 2.64%, Washington D.C., on the other hand, experienced a 2.59% gain in small businesses.

That also seems to echo my findings regarding the most recent report done by Change Maryland in relation to the number of overall jobs and overall capital lost in each state over the time period.

So it’s obvious that an argument can be made that Martin O’Malley’s job creation policies aren’t working. Furthermore, because we happen to be so close to Washington D.C. we can gather that their modest successes come at the expense of the rest of the country – hey, pencil-pushers have to eat, shop for groceries, get haircuts, and conduct all the other economic activities of life, too. It’s just that their elite lives high off the hog while the rest of us struggle with the burdens of supersized government. Therein lies the true 1% vs. 99% argument.

Yet there are a couple legitimate questions asked by those who ponder Maryland politics. One is why the effort to hammer a politician who has nowhere else to go politically in Maryland politics? Unless he wants to return to office in 2018 after sitting out his mandated one term away, Martin O’Malley isn’t going to run again on a statewide basis unless he decides either he wants to be a United States Senator – and there has been a gut feeling from some who think he’s lining himself up to be appointed to the unexpired term of Barbara Mikulski should she decide to retire early – or, he’ll be on the Maryland primary ballot for President in 2016. While his record as Governor is a legitimate campaign issue in that case, there’s a statewide vote for many offices in between now and then.

The second is why only pick on O’Malley? Certainly he has more discretion than most state executives in the country, but Martin O’Malley has never voted on a tax or fee increase. That task has been left to the Maryland General Assembly, and because there’s a wide enough Democratic majority there to pass anything O’Malley wants – even without the need for some of the center-left members of the dominant party who come from more conservative areas of the state to participate – perhaps the blame needs to be shifted away from the governor’s office. However, my guess is that there is a risk of alienating the portion of Change Maryland which is registered Democratic and may happen to agree with some of their party philosophy.

But there is one thing to be said about the Change Maryland group. At the GOP convention in late April, they celebrated attaining the 12,000 member mark (although the cake originally reflected a much higher number.)

Three months later, thanks to some outstanding marketing and usage of free media, that number is 50 percent higher. At this pace of exponential growth, come 2014 they might well be at 120,000.

Yet there is context to be had here, too. In 2010 the upstart conservative Brian Murphy picked up just under 1/4 of the GOP primary vote in losing to Bob Ehrlich. But his actual vote total was 67,364. Furthermore, even Michael James, my local GOP candidate for State Senator who lost a close race to Jim Mathias, received just under 23,000 votes in a single State Senate district. When you look at things that way 18,000 is nice but there’s a long way to go to become a powerful movement.

In my heart of hearts, I think Larry Hogan has an eye on Government House in January, 2015, and he’s laying out some of the parameters of his campaign via the Change Maryland vehicle. There’s nothing wrong with that, just as there’s no problem with David Craig getting cozy with the conservative blogosphere or Blaine Young looking to meet local conservative leaders at a Ocean City meet-and-greet next month during MACO. (I just received that note.) And certainly there’s no shortage of schadenfreude in watching O’Malley flail about trying to combat the slings and arrows launched by Change Maryland.

In the end, though, the key to really changing Maryland will be in supporting good, conservative candidates at all levels. Unfortunately, the other side is smart as well and they know that some of these ticking time bombs will go off at the county level, particularly in counties otherwise ably run by the GOP. Once we get everyone pulling in the same direction, it’s only then my adopted home state can deliver on its promise.

Update: Jim Pettit of Change Maryland responds:

Governor O’Malley is pursuing the Presidency – the last thing we want to see is a continuation of the same irresponsible fiscal policies pursued on the state level that would only cause further damage to our entire nation in the years ahead.

In the meantime, Change Maryland is focused on stopping more bad things from happening within our state, and we’re too busy leading the fight against the anti-jobs agenda of the incumbent governor to worry about who the next governor might be in 2015.

Odds and ends number 54

Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.

Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:

I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.

Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:

Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.

This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.

Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.

One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.

The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.

Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.

Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:

The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.

Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.

And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:

A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.

Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.

Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:

THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

(snip)

I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.

For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.

And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)

Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.

If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.

The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!

So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.

Nationalizing a campaign

July 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Nationalizing a campaign 

It’s only baby steps, but Libertarian Congressional hopeful Muir Boda is hoping for a little bit of exposure tomorrow evening when he appears on the internet’s Freedom Broadcasting Network. The online broadcaster will slot Boda on the “Ground Wars” program at 7 p.m.

Of course, it’s not likely to entice nearly as many viewers as the typical 30-second commercial during the local newscast – the typical weapon of an average Congressional campaign – but it’s doubtful that Muir, who has just $150 cash on hand for his low-budget campaign, will come anywhere close to being able to afford a campaign commercial. He’ll be hard-pressed to get much radio time at this pace. On the other hand, Democratic challenger Wendy Rosen had just over $30,000 cash on hand (and over $80,000 in debt) during the same reporting period while Andy Harris is sitting on a war chest of over $700,000 on hand. Harris definitely has economy of scale on his side.

Yet the prospect of exposure in any form – particularly if it’s free – is the lifeblood of any low-budget campaign. And Boda needs to increase his visibility if he wants any chance to represent his viewpoint in a formal debate; however, at this stage I’m not aware of any debate plans for the First Congressional District. Hopefully Andy Harris will agree to a series of several throughout the district.

But any show which has a host billing himself as “The Minister of Truth” might be interesting to check out. So if you want to find out more about the Salisbury resident who’s running for Congress, you should check the program either live or via FBN’s YouTube channel after the fact.

Gambling on our fiscal future

July 28, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Gambling on our fiscal future 

It appears the Maryland General Assembly will be working this summer after all, as Governor O’Malley announced there will be a Special Session beginning Thursday, August 9. A few observations:

First of all, beginning the Special Session on a Thursday probably means they’ll try and wrap things up in two days. It’s doubtful the General Assembly will want to be working over the weekend and it’s probable that the session has the single-minded goal of getting authorization for a sixth casino in Prince George’s County and offering table games at existing facilities before voters. The rumors I’ve been hearing make it sound as though the change from a 67% tax rate may be dead for now – but don’t be surprised if that issue is revisited in the regular session next year.

But the question is what people like us get in the deal. I understand the proponents are making all sorts of claims that counties will see a bounty of cash flow into their coffers, but any and all of the financial components are subject to change at the whim of the General Assembly. Since the Eastern Shore only has nine House votes (seven of which are minority Republicans) and three Senate votes (2 of the 3 are GOP), it’s more than likely that any sweetheart deals will be made to entice General Assembly members from Baltimore City and Montgomery County to vote for the plan at the expense of other parts of the state. That claim of $4.9 million for Wicomico County may end up being 4.9 thousand by the time all is said, done, and horse traded.

(Also worthy of note regarding the Eastern Shore delegation: the only three who voted for the bill in 2007 were Democrat Delegate Norm Conway and two Republicans: Senator Rich Colburn and the late Delegate Page Elmore. As it stands now, Senator Jim Mathias – who was a Delegate then – may be a vote against in the Senate, leaving Conway and Colburn as the lone gambling supporters of the Eastern Shore delegation.)

Oh, and speaking of horses: I thought the intention of the original gambling bill was to prop up local racetracks by allowing them to be slot machine locations. Yet I believe Ocean Downs is the only racetrack which doubles as a slot location – the other sites are standalone sites with no racing. Nor would it shock me to see at least some part of a prospective tax cut for casino operators come out of the 9.5% the equine industry is guaranteed in Maryland. The 48.5% for education will be the last thing they touch.

We all have to concede that, compared with the rosy predictions of $1.36 billion dollars in revenue by FY2013 – the year we are in now – slot machines have been an utter failure in Maryland. The reasons for this are legion:

  • Not all of the expected locations are up and running yet – locations in Baltimore City and Allegany County (Rocky Gap) won’t be open until 2013 and 2014, respectively. The Maryland Live! casino in Anne Arundel County just opened this year.
  • Because other states weren’t shackled by the poorly thought-out system of needing voter approval to make technical changes, they have already put table games in place, making them more attractive to gamblers.
  • Entertainment options are limited at the Ocean Downs casino by state law. This puts them at some disadvantage to nearby Delaware locations in Harrington and Dover which permit live music.
  • Finally, a poor economy has limited people’s “fun money.” On a personal level, I used to go to Harrington maybe once or twice a year with the bowling prize money I received at season’s end or other “mad money” I came across. But that’s no longer possible when there are more bills to pay and less income being made; certainly I’m not the Lone Ranger in that particular situation.

So don’t look for gambling to be a cure-all, and take any predictions of revenue from the state with a significant grain of salt. It’s clear that those in charge of Maryland didn’t think things through when they sold us the bill of goods known as Question 2 four years ago, and now that potential big-money campaign contributors and Big Labor are beckoning to build a casino in Prince George’s County just outside Washington, D.C. (talk about regressive taxation there) it’s suddenly enough of an emergency to call our legislature in.

I know Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin was not amused:

The real crisis in Maryland is not whether there should be a sixth casino location, but rather the trend of recent job losses. The state lost 11,000 jobs in June and has witnessed 4 straight months of job declines.  Gaming expansion won’t create jobs for at least another year, and then at most 3,000 jobs.  Marylanders need help today.

Meanwhile, this has been the ‘Summer of Union Handouts’ with teachers’ unions getting their own special session in May and now the trade unions getting their own special session in August.  Curiously left out are the close to 2,000 union steelworkers laid-off last month at the Sparrows Point plant. The state is bleeding jobs at a rate of tens of thousands on a monthly basis, and the best the Governor O’Malley can muster is, ‘If you give me another casino, I can get you 3,000 jobs in a few years.’  How is that relief?

The Governor should know that economic development is more than just bio-tech and casinos.  Instead of a special session for a single casino, we should be taking this time to develop policies benefiting all of Maryland’s working families – not just those with powerful unions.

Five years ago, Governor O’Malley called a Special Session which dealt not just with gambling but also raised taxes and spent big money on providing coverage to a small fraction of those Maryland residents who didn’t have health insurance. All this was supposed to solve our state’s structural deficit once and for all.

But a half-decade later, buffeted by damaging economic winds created in no small part by Democrats just like those who run Maryland’s government with an iron fist, we still struggle with financial hardship as a state – unfortunately, these troubles also affect the federal and local governments as well as many millions of Americans who by no means are better off than they were four years ago.

In short, there are two key problems with Martin O’Malley’s Democratic approach to state finances: rich people don’t stay to be hosed by higher taxes and broke people don’t gamble. Other than that, things are just going swimmingly.

Friday night videos – episode 75

July 27, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Friday night videos – episode 75 

There’s no real theme to this week’s episode, so let’s get down to it.

I believe I featured another song from the now-defunct group Deep Sea Research awhile back, but here they jam to the Beatles classic ‘Come Together.’

This bluesy number is an original from the band 7 Days Wasted, recorded a couple years ago. It’s a little dark but the music is still good.

This video has an interesting story attached. I found it on the Order 6D-6 page, but it’s actually an older song done by a band in which two of their members formerly played called Multiple Personalities. They recruited a drummer from another band they used to play in and remade the song. I thought it was a good song to include, and it’s too bad the original band was derailed by one’s struggle with “seriously abusing his favorite drugs.”

I featured this up-and-coming band a couple weeks past, but this is a different song from Red Angel.

Red Angel opened last night for the Charm City Devils, a Baltimore-based band which has received attention and airplay for a remake of ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’ so perhaps this band is going places.

Finally, I know it’s been hot outside but this event is right around the corner. I recorded a few videos last fall at Punkin Chunkin and so did whoever recorded this from the Mari Hill Band.

But autumn isn’t here yet, so keep rockin’ the summer!

Troopathon blog results are in – sort of

July 27, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Troopathon blog results are in – sort of 

Just over two weeks ago I helped promote the 5th annual Troopathon, which eventually exceeded its $250,000 support goal and languishes barely short of a revised $400,000 milepost with just over $390,000 collected so far.

But there was also a blogger’s contest held as part of that event, and I wondered how my team, the Hot Air Steamers, did. As you can see by the medal now prominent in my sidebar we finished in second place to the Connecticut-based Greyhawks team, which have now won the competition three years in a row. (No shame in that.) I believe the missing link to our five-person team may have been the former site No More Sheeples, which seems to have gone inactive – others among us were Hot Air (of course), Maggie’s Notebook, and The Lonely Conservative.

In third place came a team called the Anti-Jihadists, which boasts sites like Creeping Sharia (which I linked to), Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, and several others.

One piece of information I have asked for but haven’t received are the totals from each team, although through a little digging I found out Rush Limbaugh chipped in $150,000 by himself. (Put the guy on our team next time!)

Also from what I’ve been able to figure out, this year’s contest was a little shorter than last year’s so blog totals may have been less than impressive – for example, the Greyhawks raised $19,000 last year (out of about $30,000 total) as the winners but the contest went for over a month before the actual event. This year’s rendition didn’t begin until around the end of June, so we had two weeks to collect. Whatever the totals, though, every little bit helped.

And I’m still pleased to add this medal to my site as a year-round reminder that Troopathon will be there to support our soldiers for as long as they stay in harm’s way.

Shorebird of the Week – July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – July 26, 2012 

The photos above show the two sides of Wynston Sawyer, a player who’s been useful to the Shorebirds this season as he alternates from behind the dish and over at first base. In fact Wynston’s split time almost equally between the two, ranking second on the team with both his 27 games caught and 31 at first base.

Meanwhile, Sawyer has become somewhat of an offensive threat over the last month. Hitting just .169 at the league’s All-Star break, his .330 clip since has raised his batting mark to a more respectable ,234 average. While he’s not been a stellar hitter in the professional ranks so far – Wynston’s current mark is three points higher than his career average (and peak, having hit the same .231 in both the Gulf Coast League and with Aberdeen) coming into the season – the 2010 8th round pick out of Scripps Ranch High School in California has shown an improving on-base percentage and better eye at the plate, with a nice ratio of 31 walks to 40 strikeouts in 2012.

While he was drafted to be a catcher, it seemed for a time that the Orioles were more and more interested in seeing how Sawyer does at first base. One drawback of Wynston’s so far is his lack of ability to throw would-be base stealers out, only nabbing 7 of the 50 who have tried this year after a season in Aberdeen where he only threw out 6 of 58. So the 20-year-old may be making a transition at this level to increase his worth to the team as a whole.

But trading away Gabriel Lino left a catching void in A-ball that Sawyer is attempting to fill. If the Orioles would like to keep Wynston as a backstop it may not hurt him to repeat at Delmarva in 2013 in order to build experience and a rapport with the pitching staff. It’s likely as well that Wynston will see additional time behind the plate for the rest of this year, so he gets the chance to learn and grow both as a hitter and receiver.

Hypocrisy at its finest

July 26, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Hypocrisy at its finest 

You can pull the yellow flag out of your back pocket and fire it in my direction because I’m about to be assessed a 15-yard penalty for piling on. But it will be worth it.

As many of you already know, five plaintiffs, who are all connected to the state Democratic party in some manner, along with the Maryland Democratic Party itself filed a complaint yesterday against the State Board of Elections. The Maryland Democrats are eviscerated by Richard CrossBrian Griffiths and Jim Jamitis (who steals a little bit of my thunder) as well.

Jamitis brings up a topic I was thinking about, too: the same party who haughtily vows through this court case that it’s “committed to insuring confidence in (the) petition process” is dead-set against insuring confidence in the voting process itself by fighting tooth and nail against photo voter identification, even when the state gives it out for free.

Yet there is something strange about the plaintiffs’ contention. Their assertion is that a certain number of petition signatures are invalid because they were signed off a form created by MDPetitions.com which had the voter’s information already printed out – it wasn’t in handwritten form, they argue, and that makes the signature invalid.

This evening I did a little research. I went to my wallet, rifled through it a little bit around the moths which have gathered there because after the high taxes these same Democrats have enacted there’s nothing left in it but the moths’ remains, and found a voter registration card. It’s a card which bears my signature, along with my pre-printed name and address, among other vital information. And it seems to me, if memory serves, that every time I go to vote I sign my name next to the pre-printed information on the registration sheet.

So, Maryland Democrats, are you telling me my vote is invalid because I signed these pre-printed forms? I understand you probably don’t like the fact that I use a little common sense and vote for those who possess same – which naturally disqualifies about 95 percent or more of your party – but the last time I checked, my vote counted for something. It seemed to help elect several of the now-majority Republicans in local offices around Maryland.

I am hoping that a court of competent jurisdiction looks at this complaint, laughs, and places it in File 13. If Joseph Sandler is a party to any lawsuit we can bet it’s not in the best interests of the voters of Maryland since he also tried to get the in-state tuition for illegal aliens referendum tossed out, too. But because the number of signatures was close to the line and Maryland Democrats can’t stand the idea that someone might question their gerrymandering, they’re going to this well once again. They’ve learned from their President that if you can’t beat ’em, get ’em thrown off the ballot by whatever means necessary.

So the next time Maryland Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to suppress voting, just remind them that they’ve challenged two of the three ballot issues petitioned to referendum in an effort to prevent voters from having their say and possibly overturning these laws. (The only reason they didn’t try and knock out the third was the overwhelming support it received, gathering nearly three times the required signatures.) If you’re so confident of victory over “a declining party who has abandoned all hopes of winning elections” (forgetting again that the GOP holds more local offices than they do) then you should have nothing to fear, right?

The Maryland gambling pitch

With the question of a possible Special Session to address gaming hanging over our collective heads, I think it’s time to share something I received in my snail mail.

This was addressed to me as a member of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and was penned by Vance Ayres, who is the Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Washington DC Building Trades Council. The letter reads as follows:

Dear Michael,

We’re the Maryland Building Trades, representing skilled trades throughout the state. We support a new destination gaming site in Maryland for one simple reason: it will put 8,400 people to work – the largest new union jobs program in the country.

But why are we writing to you, a leader in Wicomico County? Because new destination gaming is important to Wicomico County. The new destination gaming is estimated to yield at least $223 million in gaming taxes and millions more in state and local income and sales tax.

By law, the gaming taxes are distributed through the Education Trust Fund. In a stabilized fiscal year, Wicomico County’s annual share will be $4,890,000. And in times of budget crisis, the gaming taxes make sure the State meets its existing commitments to Wicomico County without cutting services.

If the legislature doesn’t act now, Marylanders will lose the chance to vote on competitive gaming until 2014. Our state will not get table games until 2015, and no destination gaming until 2017 or 2018.

Maryland can’t wait for new jobs. Our schools can’t wait for new revenue. A 3 year delay would cost the state nearly $1 billion. This includes lost gaming taxes and state and local taxes. It also includes the $120 million the State wastes on government-owned slot machines, paying twice the going rate.

A 3 year delay would cost Wicomico County $14,670,000 in stable fiscal years, and costs the state its funding source for this amount in unstable years. Either way, delay is bad for the State, bad for Wicomico County, and bad for our public schools. Delay helps no one except our existing operators. We need to put the interests of Maryland public schools ahead of the interests of Maryland Live.

Maryland gaming needs to become competitive now. According to a study produced by Union Gaming Analytics LLC, we annually send $620-$830 million of Maryland tax dollars to West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania to support their schools and help keep their taxes low. These states hope Maryland continues with its infighting.

Enclosed is a recent column in the Baltimore Sun by Martin Knott, a prominent Maryland business leader and chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, describing why the Maryland legislature needs to act now.

Marylanders want the legislature to act now. A recent poll showed that 84 percent of Marylanders want the right to vote on this issue this fall.

Please add your voice to the effort to put Maryland taxpayers and Maryland public schools first. We need to act now.

Sincerely,

Vance Ayres
Executive Secretary/Treasurer
Washington DC Building Trades Council
(Representing over 25,000 Construction Workers and their families)

Oh, so NOW Big Labor wants some help from Republicans? Should have thought of that a couple years ago.

Well, actually all of this should have been thought of about 6-8 years ago when the General Assembly tried and tried to get video slots passed under Governor Bob Ehrlich. But Democrats didn’t want to give him a victory to run on in 2006. Instead, they waited until Martin O’Malley was inaugurated but legalized slots in perhaps the most convoluted, ill-thought way possible: as I pointed out at the time, the inherent weakness in the approach voters approved in 2008 was that technical changes like adding a sixth location or table games could only be made within the narrow window of a statewide election.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the fact that the General Assembly – controlled by the Democrats unions love to support – botched up both the preferred budget process AND changing the slot machine rules in the frenetic final hours before sine die.

But all this is forgotten as the unions promise big money for Wicomico County if we support this changing of the law to benefit one entity at the expense of another – while the unions get their cut, since I presume only union contractors would be able to bid on the construction project based on what’s said in this letter about a “union jobs program.” (Talk about starting out on the wrong foot with me.) And there’s no lack of irony that Martin O’Malley is finally supporting a tax cut – but only for a very, very select few well-connected friends of his. What whining do we hear about lost revenue now?

Yet when I go through the letter I have no shortage of questions.

First of all, who came up with the $223 million revenue number from “destination gaming?” Does it account for the loss of revenue from other casinos? I’ve heard scuttlebutt that Ocean Downs is losing $2.5 million a year, so how is opening another Maryland facility featuring table games going to help them? Would Ocean Downs and the others already in operation be able to put in table games right away, or would they have to wait until this sixth casino opens? (I have never been inside Ocean Downs so I have no idea if their building can handle table games to begin with.)

Nor do I buy the contention that Wicomico County will get nearly $5 million a year from this for education, or anything else. Another weakness of the current gaming law is that the share of 48.5% to education would almost certainly decrease if the tax cut to casino owners is passed. As I understand it, at present the house’s cut is 33% while 48.5% goes to education, 9.5% to local horse racing purses and facilities (the original reason they wanted slots, to “save the horse racing industry”), 5.5% to local impact grants, 2% to the Maryland Lottery for costs, and 1.5% to the Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Businesses Account. So who gets cut if the rate goes to 40% for casinos? What about 45% or 50%?

Another item to ponder: why would it take so long to build a facility? If you’ll notice, the time line for destination gaming with a 2014 passage is 2017 or 2018 – so even if this goes through I would have to presume no new Prince George’s facility is finished until 2015 or 2016. A lot can change in three years, but in my (admittedly limited) experience with casino gambling I seem to recall at least one Detroit casino (Greektown) had a temporary facility to get up and running before building a more grandiose palace. Why isn’t this planned for the PG casino?

And I found this an interesting tidbit: the same Union Gaming Analytics the writer relies on for his information came to this conclusion in a recent Las Vegas Sun story by Steve Green about the firm:

And in the United States outside of Las Vegas, (Union Gaming Analyst Bill) Lerner expects gaming revenue to grow in the “very low single digits” as the U.S. casino expansion story frequently involves cannibalization of existing business as opposed to growing markets. (Emphasis mine.)

So we may steal a little bit of business back from West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, but I suspect the new Prince George’s casino will take the most from existing Maryland facilities. Yep, that’s just brilliant because then those operators will want their own sweetheart deals and the state will have to give in.

Here’s what we should do. If we are going to have a Special Session related to gaming, I want them to put before the voters a Constitutional amendment proposed to voters that would work something along the line of rescinding the 2008 Constitutional change, effective April 30, 2013. That would give the General Assembly 90 days to work out a new gaming law that would allow the state the flexibility it needs to adapt to changing conditions via the legislature. If they can’t do that and want to argue like spoiled children, I frankly don’t care if the casinos shut down on May 1.

I can tell you right now that any changes to the state Constitution that give one entity a better deal than the others or don’t address this absolutely asinine weakness in state law that makes it difficult for casino operators to invest in improving their facilities are pretty much dead on arrival with me. Just like many other things this Democratic-controlled General Assembly has done since I moved here in 2004, they have made a complete muckery of gambling in Maryland.

It’s time for the adults to take over.

More depressing Maryland employment news

The bad month for Governor Martin O’Malley continues, with his new nemesis Change Maryland at the forefront once again. They did the research and determined that Maryland’s anemic employment gains were, in fact, no gains at all over the first six months of 2012 – as it turned out the Free State lost more jobs than any other state. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the watchdog group indicates around 10,300 jobs were lost by Maryland during this time frame; indeed, that’s more than any other state.

And the news gets worse if you expand the period of study backward – only Pennsylvania has lost more jobs in this region than Maryland, and it’s a larger state.

So far Governor Martin O’Malley has been mum on this data – as opposed to previous releases by the group, where an O’Malley mouthpiece tried his best at obfuscation – but Change Maryland head Larry Hogan seems to be burnishing his gubernatorial credentials by pointing these dismal employment numbers out, stating in the accompanying release:

Governor O’Malley says repeatedly that Maryland has fared better than other states during the recession. He should be talking about our state’s performance relative to others in this region, not compared to Michigan or Nevada.  Once again he is cherry picking data in an attempt to fool people.

As someone who has lost his job during the time period in question, I think Hogan may be on to something when he talks about the frequent tax increases and lack of spending discipline being an issue in the state.

Apparently Nancy Jacobs does too, as the State Senator and Second District Congressional challenger talked about job losses in her region during her opponent’s recent Congressional tenure:

News of layoffs has been especially bad in Congressional District 2 where I am the Republican nominee for Congress. On Friday two more Baltimore County companies announced layoffs.  At Siemens in Dundalk, 38 jobs are being cut.  Bank of America in Hunt Valley reports it will cut 55 employees in Hunt Valley. Eastern Baltimore County was especially hard it by the loss of 2000 jobs at RG Steel in Sparrows Point Plant earlier this month.  We must ask what Dutch Ruppersberger what is he doing in Washington to address this issue so critical to his constituents!

Well, the truth of the matter is that doing something in Washington is the wrong approach – the better question to me is what Nancy Jacobs will undo in Washington. One who uses the slogan “Vote Jobs – Vote Jacobs” may be well-served to show what she can do. Luckily she does have a record:

Maryland Business for Responsive Government gives me a 100 percent ranking when it comes to my votes that improve business and create jobs.

But I wanted to get back to that raw data. Thanks to Jim Pettit, who forwarded me the data, I looked at all the states which lost jobs – here’s the list, in alphabetical order:

  • Kansas lost 7,800 jobs.
  • Maine lost 4,300 jobs.
  • Maryland lost 10,300 jobs.
  • Mississippi lost 4,100 jobs.
  • Missouri lost 7,700 jobs.
  • Nevada lost 400 jobs.
  • New Hampshire lost 3,700 jobs.
  • New Mexico lost 4,400 jobs.
  • Rhode Island lost 800 jobs.
  • Tennessee lost 4,200 jobs.
  • West Virginia lost 6,800 jobs.
  • Wisconsin lost 2,100 jobs.

So it’s true that in raw numbers Maryland performed the worst. But there is a proviso which Martin O’Malley may be able to hang his hat on just a little bit. These are job losses expressed as a percentage of the workforce for these states:

  • Kansas, 0.58%
  • Maine, 0.72%
  • Maryland, 0.40%
  • Mississippi, 0.38%
  • Missouri, 0.29%
  • Nevada, 0.04%
  • New Hampshire, 0.59%
  • New Mexico, 0.55%
  • Rhode Island, 0.17%
  • Tennessee, 0.16%
  • West Virginia, 0.89%
  • Wisconsin, 0.08%

Measured this way there are five states which did worse than Maryland: Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia. So now we’re #46 instead of #51…woohoo!

But the other chart Change Maryland bases its assertions on compares Maryland to a peer group of surrounding states and Washington D.C. and tabulates the total employment figures from January, 2007 through last month. This time I will do both the total jobs gained or lost and percentage, along with peak and trough months:

  • Maryland, a net 39,900 jobs lost (-1.53%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Virginia, a net 32,100 jobs lost (-0.85%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Delaware, a net 20,000 jobs lost (-4.55%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Pennsylvania, a net 58,800 jobs lost (-1.02%) – peak April 2008, trough February 2010.
  • West Virginia, a net 600 jobs gained (+0.08%) – peak September 2008, trough February 2010.
  • District of Columbia, a net 46,200 jobs gained (+6.69%) – peak April 2012, trough June 2007.

Out of these states, only Delaware has fared worse in terms of a percentage of jobs lost. It’s also very telling that early 2008 was peak employment for most areas – except Washington, D.C. And while the others hit bottom in February 2010, the District – while in a bit of a lull – was still well above its pre-Obama low point.

So maybe the problem is in Washington, because these jobs are the fool’s gold of the economy – pencil pushers who add no real value.

And while the Change Maryland group is securing sensational headlines a little bit beyond the true scope of the revelations, the news is still quite bad for Martin O’Malley. As he tours the country on his perceived 2016 Presidential run, MOM’s failing to notice the vast majority of states are creating jobs despite his party’s best efforts. How long this can go on may depend on who is elected this fall.

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