The Sobhani story

If you are old enough to remember the 1992 election, you may recall that the usual two-player Presidential game had a party-crasher by the name of Ross Perot. Eventually after a few campaign fits and starts Perot got 19% of the national Presidential vote and allowed Bill Clinton to win with just 43 percent (incumbent George H.W. Bush received 38 percent.) Some say that the eventual result would not have changed even without Perot, and perhaps my little piece of anecdotal evidence bears that out – I voted Perot but had he not been there I would have held my nose and voted for Bush. On the other hand, I also talked my spouse at the time out of voting for Clinton and into Perot. (Or so she said.) Still, there’s a part of me which believes Bush may have hung on to beat Clinton if not for Ross Perot and the Reform Party. (Which, by the way, is trying to make a comeback in Maryland.)

So after writing on Friday about the recent Gonzales Maryland Poll (which posted yesterday) I saw a couple items on independent U.S. Senate candidate Rob Sobhani. This in particular piqued my interest.

 

Perhaps Mr. Sobhani has a unique sense of humor I don’t understand given his Iranian heritage and loyalty to it, or Dan Bongino took him out of context. But then there was another item I spied on my Facebook page and alluded to in my previous link that led me to do a little research on the political donations of one Rob Sobhani. I’ll get to that shortly.

Worthy of note in this context is that Sobhani has run for the Republican nomination for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat on two previous occasions – 1992, when he finished 5th out of a crowded 15-person field behind eventual GOP nominee Alan Keyes, and 2000, where he was runner-up to Paul Rappaport in an 8-way race.

Yet in his first FEC report on June 30, Sobhani recorded some typical expenditures. The timeline is as follows:

  • On February 5, the campaign paid Sullivan and Associates for legal services. They were paid again in May.
  • The Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies was paid $21,000 on March 10.
  • Presumably the polls were agreeable, since Sobhani paid a total of $142,171 to both Savanna Communications and Arno Political Consultants for petition services from April through June.
  • In addition he began a marketing campaign prominently featured on this website, at a cost of $1,800.
  • Finally, he hired Igoe and Associates as a consultant on June 15.

With the possible exceptions of Sullivan and Associates and hy.ly, the firms Sobhani used are fairly reliable Republican backers. But that doesn’t add up with his pattern of personal political donations.

I went to Opensecrets.com and pulled up a lengthy file of Sobhani’s political giving over the last 22 years. During a 15-year stretch from 1991 to 2006, Sobhani donated a total of $9,400 to a group of candidates which were almost exclusively Republican, with the one exception running as an independent. He also gave a total of $9,340 to the state and national Republican parties. His last donation to a Republican was to Michael Steele in 2006, who ironically ran for the very Senate seat Sobhani is trying for now.

But after a five-year hiatus, Sobhani started giving again – to Democrats. First was Milad Pooran, who was an also-ran for the Sixth District nomination won by John Delaney. Pooran was endorsed by a number of leftists including Howard Dean and Keith Ellison, the lone Islamic member of Congress. Just before the June 30 deadline, Sobhani doubled down and donated $250 to Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, who represents the Memphis area. Most notably, Cohen sponsored a amendment reducing infrastructure funding in Afghanistan.

Perhaps it’s a way to burnish his independent credentials, but this seems quite curious for a guy who used to be a Republican to have gone so far to the left, at least in his political giving.

But rather than speculate on what his motives were, I wrote an e-mail to Rob and asked him a few questions point-blank:

  • Since you have run for the Senate before in 1992 and 2000, what made you decide to run as an independent? Was it a case of not having confidence in the MDGOP banner or did the party move in a direction you were uncomfortable with?
  • I noticed your last two political donations were to Democrats after a decade and a half of almost solid GOP giving? What was your rationale in doing so, given you have a message which is somewhat conservative?

I received Rob’s reply yesterday, which I am presenting in its entirety:

Thanks for your interest in my campaign. I am pleased by the support I have received so far and attribute it to the fact that my message resonates with many people in our state who are tired of politics as usual.

With regard to my decision to become an independent, I have lost my faith in both parties to fairly represent people’s needs today. Our economy is in trouble, and I see few solutions offered either by Republicans or Democrats. That is why I am trying something different. I think a lot of people share my thinking on this, let’s see as the campaign continues.

I have personally supported Republicans and Democrats in the past in cases where I believed the individual offered something important in the respective races. We should all be able to declare our independence in this state. Only by creating more jobs and getting our economy going again will we restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children. At the end of the day, that is our duty, and it is more important than any party ideology.

I’m sorry Rob feels that way about the Republican Party, as I see it as the most viable vehicle to represent what the people truly want and need to have to prosper – freedom and liberty. And while he’s correct in assessing the fact our economy is in the dumper, the question of whether what he is proposing as a cure will work still needs to be explained a little more to me. Brian Griffiths at Red Maryland makes an interesting case that Sobhani should run for a different office in a post which could otherwise do well as a hit piece:

…to me, the role that Sobhani is suggesting he fill as a U.S. Senator is generally filled by a Governor. Because it is the Governor who is more directly responsible for creating economic development within the state. Furthermore, I sure as heck don’t want a U.S. Senator who thinks that his role is to go to Washington and send the bacon home to Maryland, no matter where the money is coming from.

But the statement  Sobhani makes about adding to races is more telling, and perhaps explains well why he’s gone from staunch support of Republicans to backing Democrats. I’m not sure what Steve Cohen adds to his race since he’s in a D+23 district anyway, but Pooran shares Sobhani’s Iranian heritage.

Yet in order to have a chance to do as Rob says and “restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children” it seems to me there should be a set of guiding principles involved. Rob oversimplifies this by saying on his campaign site that:

The parties are both locked into narrow ideological agendas that prevent them from talking to one another or working together for meaningful solutions. As an Independent, I’m not beholden to either political party. I hope to bring people of goodwill from both parties together.

One man’s “ideological agenda” is another’s principles, and among Republicans we should hold these truths to be self-evident and we should sell out our core beliefs to no one. NO ONE. There really is no middle ground between freedom and tyranny.

And don’t we have a President who promised to be “post-partisan?” That lasted about as long as it took for a Republican to show some backbone and be greeted by the President saying “I won.” Compromise, rather than fealty to the principles which made our nation strong, has placed us where we are now.

There is one other observation for me to make, and if Rob chooses to hold his cards close to the vest on this point I suppose I can understand. But it’s another question which should be asked.

Over the last few years in the Senate, there have been two independents: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. While the are ostensibly unaffiliated, in reality both have caucused with the Democrats as Sanders is an avowed Socialist while Lieberman was once a Democratic vice-presidential nominee and won his seat in 2006 despite losing in the Democratic primary and re-entering the race as an independent.

So let’s say Sobhani defies the odds and pulls the upset. Will he caucus with the Republicans because that’s his traditional political home and the side from which he seems to be pulling more support, or will he caucus with the Democrats based on the fact his Senior Senator is in that caucus? Or will he wait and see other results so he can gravitate to the winning side? Imagine the scenario of Mitt Romney winning the White House but the Democrats controlling the Senate by a 50-49 margin – will he sell his position to the highest bidder like just another business deal?

At some point he’s going to have to choose.

It’s a shame, though, that it appears Dan Bongino doesn’t want to include Rob Sobhani in the debates (at least that’s how the AP story depicts it.) Let Rob’s voice be heard, and let him answer some tough questions. I’m sure I would have some more.

Ben Cardin’s been in office for 46 years, and Dan Bongino has been on the campaign trail for 16 months. If money can buy a Senate seat, I suppose we will find out from a guy who’s barely been at it for six months and only officially announced four weeks ago.

Update: Mark Newgent at Red Maryland has unearthed the pitch sheet Sobhani used to gather signatures. I didn’t know that Rob was “pro-choice and supports gay rights,” did you? I’ll concede that, indeed, these issues are less important than fixing the economy (although Sobhani’s plan is dubious in itself – after all, wasn’t Solyndra a sort of public-private partnership?) but America is also better-served by those who believe in upholding traditional morals.

Poll results disappointing to MD conservatives

The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)

First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:

  • President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
  • U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
  • Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
  • Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
  • Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
  • President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
  • Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
  • Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
  • Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable

Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.

One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.

Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.

On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.

Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.

Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.

It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.

There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.

Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.

You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.

Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.

Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.

Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.

I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.

But polls make news, and this poll certainly garnered a lot of attention across the state. The question is whether we can make it a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.

Sons of Liberty punctuate Wicomico MSOP meeting

In front of about 50 diehard lovers of freedom who decided the fate of their country was more important than a Ravens game – which meant they had their priorities in order – the Wicomico chapter of the Maryland Society of Patriots met Thursday night at Mister Paul’s Legacy Restaurant.

I’m sort of glad they modified the choices at the end. Anyway, Dr. Greg Belcher, the leader of the WMSOP, opened the meeting by bringing up the subject of an upcoming petition drive which had copies on each table, including mine. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but I’ll bring you up to speed in a moment.

Senate Bill 236, which passed in the 2012 regular session, is thought of as an extension of the PlanMaryland and UN Agenda 21 movement to revoke property rights. In fact, Belcher intoned that “our property rights future is at stake.” All 24 Maryland jurisdictions, including Wicomico County, are supposed to have the prescribed four-tier plan in place by December 31 of this year.

Next with remarks was local activist Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland, who reminded us that there are two more online poll watcher training seminars coming up: October 1-2 and 24-25. While this training isn’t required to be a poll watcher, it’s helpful to know what can and can’t be done, said Cathy.

Keim briefly went over the seven statewide issues on the ballot this November, with a particular emphasis on the latter four. “Martin O’Malley will look pretty silly (running for President in 2016) if we stop him” in 2012, added Keim.

She mostly reserved comment on Question 6, though, to the next speaker: Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland.

Broadus actually began his presentation by speaking briefly about Question 5, the redistricting issue. He quoted former Baltimore County GOP head Tony Campbell, who commented that “all we have to do is show people the map and it’s a winning argument.”

As for the gay marriage issue and other referendum questions, Broadus emphasized the importance of reaching out to the local minority population. For example, in majority-minority Prince George’s County local leaders there support both Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) and Question 6 because they are considered civil rights issues, and oppose Question 5 for the same reason. On the other hand, they are against Question 7 (expanding casino gambling) because they see it as benefiting the so-called “1 percent,” said Broadus.

Gay marriage is on the ballot, not just in Maryland, but three other states: Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, Robert reminded us. “The goal (of proponents) is to change our society,” he added.

Broadus also conceded that some were for Question 6 because they had gay friends or family, but asked whether the relationship with these friends or relatives was more important than their relationship with God. And while secularists “are attacking on all fronts,” Broadus called this “our Roe v. Wade moment” and admonished people not to trust the polls on this issue.

In response to a comment about secular rather than faith-based arguments about Question 6, Broadus believed this was an effort to neutralize gender in society, even though God created man and woman differently. “Marriage is not a right,” concluded the longtime marriage protector.

Finally, it was time for our main speakers, the Sons of Liberty. If you can’t read the background slide, here it is below.

It’s sort of a long name for their ministry, but Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan have taken their show on the road to hundreds of high schools throughout the country. What we were presented is only about a quarter of what they do in a normal high school stop, said Dean.

In his presentation, Bradlee Dean bemoaned a nation which had seen a “decline since the Supreme Court said no to God” back in 1962. What we are now seeing is “the fruit of a nation which turns its back on God.”

Bradlee continued by saying the Catholic Church is “right on the money” in fighting President Obama and his contraception regulations. He asked, “Why are (leftists) always attacking God? Because they want to be God.” Dean showed a number of different quotes from the earliest leaders of our country acknowledging the divine Providence shown by our Creator, as opposed to the secular humanist attitude of today’s leaders.

That general attitude was due in no small part from our mainstream media. Just read the quote on the wall behind Dean.

It was determined that controlling 25 newspapers would do the trick, and this was back in 1917! Now we have a cabal of alphabet networks working in conjunction with the largest newspapers to promote a overtly secular agenda. “You’re being lied to. End of story,” said Dean. “The media works for a corrupt administration.” Even Fox News didn’t escape Bradlee’s blunt assessment, since they decide what they want to report to you as well.

At this point Dean stepped aside for a moment, allowing “The Other Guy” Jake McMillan to present a short question-and-answer section admonishing us to think about what we read and say, with a little audience participation.

A sample question: What do they call the raised lettering which enables the deaf to read? Most people would reflexively say “Braille” but if you pay attention you’ll know the true answer is “deaf people can already read, they just can’t hear.” It was part of a broader point that “most of the liberals count on ignorance of the issues,” said Jake.

Returning to the microphone, Bradlee rattled off a number of observations about the media and Hollywood. One slide referred to a warning sign he saw in an AMC theater in Kansas a few years back when the Mel Gibson movie “The Passion of the Christ” was showing. While the sign correctly noted the movie was in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles, and had violent content enough to earn an R rating, curiously there were no other warning signs for the other PG-13 and R rated movies in the theater. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the indoctrination,” said Bradlee. “If I entertain you, I’m controlling you.”

Dean then turned to a distinction not often found in the media, which commonly refers to our nation as a “democracy.” (As have presidents since Ronald Reagan, Bradlee noted wistfully.) Our nation is a republic, continued Bradlee, ruled by law and principle rather than by what the public desires. Dean quoted several early Americans who pointed out that democracies expire from within to become tyrannies. And having visited hundreds of public schools, Dean observed that they commonly are surrounded by fences, covered by security cameras, and patrolled by armed law enforcement officers. “They’re getting kids ready for a police state” in public schools, he warned.

Continuing on to a subject near and dear to several there, Bradlee went on to describe the fight about gay marriage as one “about upending your Constitution.” It’s being used as a “political battering ram” to take us further away from our roots as a nation. “You’re dealing with totalitarianism,” Dean believed.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Bradlee wanted to stress as well his thoughts on those who have perished in defending those rights endowed by our Creator, the over 400,000 who died and the millions who live on while missing their friends and family lost in battle. “Who’s going to stand up for the veterans?” he asked.

Overall, the message was simple yet elegant: “If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any rights.”

Afterward, Bradlee and Jake stuck around for over a half-hour to answer questions, sell their various wares, including CDs, DVDs, and books, and pose for pictures like the one below.

From left to right you have Bradlee Dean of Sons of Liberty, Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland, Jake McMillan of Sons of Liberty, and Dr. Greg Belcher of the Wicomico Maryland Society of Patriots. It’s also worth mentioning that a number of Republican Central Committee members were in attendance, along with the head of the Worcester County TEA Party and MSOP head Sam Hale.

And while there was no media there besides this reporter and Julie Brewington, who’s mostly pulled away from her Right Coast Conservative blog (but was videotaping the proceedings nonetheless), we did have two write-in candidates for office.

On the left is Mike Calpino, who’s running in the First District Congressional race as the write-in not endorsed by either political party, and on the right is Worcester County resident Ed Tinus, who is resurrecting his U.S. Senate campaign after finishing last out of nine Democratic candidates in their primary with 1,064 votes, or 0.3%.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting because I’d not heard of the Sons of Liberty or Bradlee Dean’s Christian rap-rock band Junkyard Prophet before last week when I first promoted this meeting. In doing a little research on the group, the prevailing opinion on them was that they were typical bigoted Christian haters – yet I found nothing overly controversial about their viewpoints. I will grant they did not speak much specifically about gay marriage or Question 6, but their opinions on the subject are likely shared by millions in this state and across the nation. Having seen the trend of a nation falling away from a Christian God, they obviously fret that allowing same-sex marriage may open the door to an even further slouch towards Gomorrah, to borrow a term made famous by Robert Bork. I think it’s a legitimate concern, others may disagree.

And if the idea of public school is to teach children critical thinking then I can’t understand what the big deal is to have them come to a school for a few hours and speak to the kids there. But the impression I get is that Sons of Liberty faces a lot of static in putting together these presentations simply because they don’t have a politically correct viewpoint, even if the opinions they present are based in historical fact.

The duo is in the midst of a four-day swing through Maryland and northern Virginia, with future stops in several other states. Dean admitted it was hard on him to be away from his five children, but the fight to preserve his country and its God-given freedoms was worth it. Having heard the presentation, I tend to agree.

Layoffs in state resume disturbing trend

September 27, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items · 1 Comment 

An identical article with photo is published at Examiner.com. Normally I split the text but there was no good breaking point in this post.

While we haven’t returned to the mass layoffs of a decade ago, it appears the trend in Maryland is going back in the wrong direction according to statistics compiled by the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

Federal law dictates states keep a running log of what they term Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN for short. So far in 2012 these job losses are approaching a three-year high with still a quarter to go. By way of comparison, I compiled through WARN statistics (which are available through the state back to calendar year 2000) the total number of jobs lost via these mass layoffs each year since:

  • 2000: 7,573
  • 2001: 10,041
  • 2002: 8,352
  • 2003: 11,123
  • 2004: 5,120
  • 2005: 7,445
  • 2006: 4,847
  • 2007: 4,586
  • 2008: 4,384
  • 2009: 6,170
  • 2010: 5,675
  • 2011: 5,611
  • 2012 (through September 13): 6,134

In short, we may suffer our worst such year in nearly a decade if the pace continues over the remainder of the year. Right now the two biggest layoffs – accounting for almost half this year’s total – are the Unilever plant in Hagerstown and the RG Steel plant at Sparrows Point.

Over the years, steelmaking and other manufacturing jobs have steadily left the state while retailers have contributed their share to the toll. Key losses over the years have come from US Airways, the shutdown of chain retailers like Montgomery Ward in 2001, Ames in 2002, and Super Fresh last year, WorldCom in 2002, Black & Decker and Bethlehem Steel in 2003, Baltimore’s GM plant in 2005, and Severstal in 2010. Sparrows Point in particular has been hard hit by losses.

And looming in the near-term are prospects of sequester-related job losses from Maryland-based companies, since we have 2.5 times the national 2.2% average of federal workers as a share of the overall workforce. It’s quite possible we could match or exceed the all-time record by year’s end, even if the layoffs are only temporary.

But the question isn’t so much why these layoffs and closures are happening, since this is common in an economy such as ours – after all, some of the worst years have come in periods where the overall economy was humming right along. The question is what can be done about it.

We have heard on many occasions that Maryland is a job creation pit – the group Change Maryland has picked up thousands of Facebook followers and made Larry Hogan a person in political demand simply by pointing this out. Unfortunately, we are saddled with our failed Annapolis leadership until 2014.

Thus it’s going to be up to localities to be smart about job creation, particularly ones which have been hardest hit by the exodus in jobs. Salisbury is no stranger to the WARN list; we lost a Super Fresh last year but many more recall the demise of Crown Cork and Seal, the Dresser plant, or United Stationers.

But we’ve also seen some job creation in these very locations: Crown is now an indoor sports facility, for example. Another instance of a shuttered facility getting new life is the old Reddy Ice plant, now home of Evolution Brewery. The brewers wanted the site because it has a well and access to clean, pure water – the better to make beer by. Both have found a niche in a market they can take advantage of despite the headwinds created by the state.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to get the state out of the way. If, as some speculate, the economy suddenly blossoms once again because Mitt Romney wins the election and brings back a Republican-led Congress, we need to make sure Maryland gets in on the fun.

Odds and ends number 59

You know them, you love them…bloggy bits of goodness I expound upon which run from a sentence to a few paragraphs. Here’s my latest batch from a chock-full mailbox all but neglected over the weekend.

Actually, the first item doesn’t come from my mailbox but was shared with me on my Facebook page by Jim Rutledge, who urged me to read and share this piece by Diana West about how we’ll never win if we kowtow to Islamic radicals.

West writes about the saga of Marine Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley, Jr., who was killed in a “green-on-blue” attack last month. Chillingly, Buckley predicted, “one day they are going turn around and turn those weapons on us.” And so they did.

Of course, that leads to the obvious question of why we remain in Afghanistan, which has no clear-cut answer. At this point, it truly makes no difference to the most radical Islamist whether we stay or go as we’re the Great Satan just the same. Right offhand, I have no idea what the body count is on their side, but I’m sure it could be a lot more if we didn’t pull our punches. Once we bombed Tora Bora back to the Stone Age to get Osama bin Laden, but it was a more precise Seal Team Six which sent bin Laden to those 72 virgins, with Obama trying to heist the credit. Certainly there are those Afghans who love the accolades they receive from their comrades when an American is cut down as well.

All in all, the Patton rule still applies: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” Just substitute “religion” for “country” on their part.

Another old saw from the Left is that not throwing money at education produces inferior results. But that theory is debunked by a study recently released by State Budget Solutions. If the liberals’  theory was correct, then states which spent the most per pupil would have the best results – but the numbers suggest otherwise. In announcing the results, SBS noted:

From 2009 to 2011 the national average for state educational spending as a percentage of total spending dropped from 30 percent in 2009 to 29.3 percent in 2011. The top state spenders across all three years were Texas, Vermont and Arkansas, all spending at least 4 percent more than the national average. Michigan made the top five in 2010 and 2011. Virginia earned the #4 and #5 position in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

The states that spent the least as a percentage of total spending during 2009-2011 were Alaska, which came in last all three years, Hawaii and Tennessee. New York and Massachusetts also made the bottom five in 2010 and 2011.

For states that spent the most, only Vermont saw significant results from 2009 to 2011.  In fact, four out of the five states spending the most on education failed to produce correspondingly high graduation rates or ACT scores. Arkansas remained in the top five states in spending for all three years, yet Arkansas’ average ACT scores consistently fell below the national average, and continue to decline annually. In 2010 and 2011, Texas ranked first in the nation in spending, 36.9 percent each year, but fell below the national average in graduation and ACT scores.

One can have whatever educational Taj Mahal the taxpayers willingly – or begrudgingly – pay for, and teachers who receive the highest pay around, but if they can’t teach then all the money is essentially wasted. Otherwise, why would bright homeschooled children be the academic leaders of this country?

At this time in the election cycle, endorsements are always news. Recently the Conservative Victory PAC added two new Republican hopefuls to a growing stable of CVPAC-backed candidates as Second District Congressional hopeful Nancy Jacobs and Third District candidate Eric Knowles got the CVPAC blessing.

On Jacobs the group wrote:

CVPAC supports Ms. Jacobs’s education reform agenda, including expansion of Charter Schools in failing school districts, means-tested tax credits for parents with children in religious schools and other private schools, and tax credits for Maryland businesses that invest in schools or hire graduates from local schools.

CVPAC Treasurer Ruth Melson had this to say about Knowles:

Let me tell you why Eric Knowles must be your next United States Congressman from Maryland District 3.  Eric knows about defending the United States Constitution against foreign enemies and he will defend it at home the same way; he is a US Air Force veteran.   He knows about our terrible economic plight; he works as a bartender talking to regular folks every day.  In the United States Congress, he will always represent the interest of Marylanders like you and me.  He is not an ivory-tower politician building castles in the air; he is pragmatic.  Government, he says, must stay within its constitutionally enumerated powers; government must be rolled back to what we can afford.

Along with U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, the Conservative Victory PAC has endorsed four of Maryland’s six Republican Congressional challengers: Ken Timmerman, Faith Loudon, Jacobs, and Knowles. I suppose they have a few weeks to add Fifth District challenger Tony O’Donnell and Seventh District aspirant Frank Mirabile to the list.

Bongino, meanwhile, keeps adding to his national profile by getting key endorsements of his own; most recently Lt. Col. Allen West added his vocal support:

The differences cannot be any clearer in the race for United States Senate. Ben Cardin has been an elected official for 45 years and you need to question ‘Is Maryland better off than it was in 1967?’ It is time the people need to elect someone who has some real experience, and that is why I am endorsing Dan Bongino for U.S. Senator for Maryland.

We need someone who has walked a police beat and not someone who all he knows how to do is walk into a chamber and vote aye and nay all day long!

West is a conservative darling who some believed would have been a great VP pick.

On the other hand, “establishment” Republicans may have been enamored with an endorsement closer to home – former Governor Bob Ehrlich:

Dan has the unmatched integrity and unique depth of experience necessary to defeat an entrenched incumbent like Senator Cardin. His background in law enforcement and federal investigations, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, afford not only a broad overview of the political arena but also personal expertise in job creation, fiscal responsibility, and community involvement.

We cannot continue down the same non-productive road we’ve traveled for the last 45 years. It’s time we elect someone new – someone who can relate to the needs of the average Maryland family. Dan’s message resonates strongly with both Democrats and Republicans alike, and he is the right person at the right time to represent Maryland and shake things up in Washington.

Gee, Bob, that sounds a little bit like your 2010 primary opponent I voted for. While it’s nice to have the endorsement, honestly I’m not sure the Ehrlich name carries the cache it formerly did among rank-and-file Republicans, let alone those who call the TEA Party home. They were more enthused by the Allen West statement, I’m sure.

Speaking of those who have spanked Ehrlich electorally, Martin O’Malley is once again getting beclowned by Larry Hogan and Change Maryland as they point out Maryland’s unemployment rate is rising as the national percentage drops:

Maryland’s unemployment rate inched up to 7.1%, marking months of consecutive upticks since January’s rate of 6.5%,  in the latest state employment picture released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The preliminary August numbers show a slight gain in employment due to July numbers that were revised downward by 1,600 jobs.  In August, Maryland payrolls increased by 1,400 over July.

The slight change in employment numbers, however, is not enough to lift Maryland out of the doldrums when it comes to competing with neighboring states.

“We are lagging in job growth in the region and are simply not competing with our neighbors,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “This year’s performance on job growth is abysmal as it has been since 2007.”

On a percentage basis of jobs lost, Maryland’s decline of 1.4% since January of 2007 is the second-worst in the region after Delaware.

And Change Maryland had even more fun at O’Malley’s expense, reminding its audience that each and every Republican governor berated by DGA head O’Malley scored higher on job creation than he did:

In recent remarks in Iowa, O’Malley said, “We are the party that grows our economy; they are the party that wrecked our economy.’ This false statement is borne out today in the latest August employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show Maryland’s loss of nearly 7,000 jobs this year is worse than Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Jersey and Maine. In some cases it is much worse.  For example, under Gov. John Kasich, Ohio has created 68,300 jobs this year; Florida Gov. Rick Scott, 50,500 jobs; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 26,200 jobs. So far this year under Gov. Rick Perry, the Lone Star state has created 140,000 more jobs than Maryland, which some have dubbed the “Fee State” as opposed to the official “Free State.”

“Martin O’Malley has no credibility whatsoever talking about jobs,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  “What he can talk about, but chooses not to, are the 24 taxes and fees he has raised since taking office which remove $2.4 billion annually from the pockets of struggling Marylanders.”

I know Jim Pettit doesn’t necessarily write these releases to be laugh-out-loud funny, but when you consider the material he has to work with, you have to laugh to avoid crying – particularly if you still live in Maryland. As I’ve put myself on the record saying, take away the nation’s capital and Maryland is Michigan without all the lakes – or the jobs. (By the way, even that state is creating jobs much faster than Maryland.)

A surefire way to curtail job creation, however, is to overregulate land use to a point where no growth is possible. Whether consciously or not, the effect of new state rules may be the eventual death knell to the Eastern Shore’s economy.

There is an upcoming “Growth Offset Policy Meeting” Thursday morning to discuss these proposals, dryly described as follows:

The meeting will include a presentation by staff from Maryland Department of the Environment about the draft Growth Offset policy and the proposed timeframe for acceptance and implementation of the policy. Following the presentation, the remainder of the meeting is dedicated for a question and answer period. Participants are invited to ask questions and express concerns to staff from Maryland Department of the Environment, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Planning.

The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology is organizing this event and would like to thank the Town Creek Foundaiton (sic) for their generous support which allows the Center this opportunity.

You can register here; it’s no surprise that plenty of seats are still available. I’m sure the Radical Green in this area will take time off their public-sector, taxpayer-funded jobs to try and convince these people that every acre in Wicomico County not already developed needs to return to its pristine, pre-settlement state.

If we were to take a path, I say join the one being blazed by Cecil County and say “to hell with the maps.” If Rick Pollitt wants to do something useful for a change, this is something to consider when you think about how similar Cecil County is in population to Wicomico.

Finally, turning to the national race: there’s a constituency group out there which is always assumed to be a solidly Democratic bloc and that’s the Jewish vote. But according to this ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition, voters are turning away:

Perhaps borne out by this ad, a survey by the American Jewish Council of 254 registered Jewish voters in Florida showed only 69% would vote for Obama. It’s noteworthy the survey was conducted prior to the 9-11-12 Islamic attacks on our embassies in several Middle Eastern countries, most notably Libya. On the other hand, they didn’t ask about the respondents’ 2008 vote so in that respect the survey has limited value – we have no basis of comparison to truly determine a trend.

But another number from the AJC survey serves as a way to tie this post together: 62% of those Jewish voters surveyed either strongly or moderately support U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear program. 74% of them would support Israel doing the same.

It all comes back to wars and rumors of wars, doesn’t it?

Upon further review…

September 25, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Upon further review… 

You can tell I was beat last night when I wrote my previous post – driving for the better part of 10 hours will do that to a body.

But there was a key element I forgot to bring up about the 1,100 mile overall trip I took with Kim and her daughter to see my daughter become a wife. I saw a lot of farm fields, cows, and even a few horses and buggies riding through Ohio’s Amish country. One thing I didn’t see, though, was a whole lot of Obama or Romney signs or stickers in the two states which are considered the “battleground” states of my trip – Ohio and Pennsylvania.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some element of politics at play, and perhaps the fact I did the vast majority of the driving along interstate highways may have had something to do with the dearth of political propaganda. This may have been particularly true in Pennsylvania, where the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70 simply served as a conduit for my passage. But it seemed the only place where I saw Romney and Obama battle it out was in Maryland, and that was a one-sided contest in Mitt Romney’s favor. Most of these signs were along U.S. 50 on the Eastern Shore.

Yet even driving through Ohio it seemed like there was much more interest in Josh Mandel’s U.S. Senate campaign than in the presidential sweepstakes. I saw a number of his signs dotting the landscape of rural northeastern and central Ohio. Similarly, there were quite a few Dan Bongino signs in Maryland with far fewer calling for Ben Cardin’s re-election.

Obviously these anecdotal results are skewed by the small, relatively conservative enclaves I drove through – perhaps driving through Montgomery or Prince George’s counties or through suburban Cleveland one is regularly greeted by signs professing undying support for Democratic candidates. That may mean a little more as these roads are somewhat more heavily traveled than the byways through Amish country in Ohio or U.S. 50 on the Shore. (On the other hand, a pocket of rural Obama support can be found just across the state line in Virginia through some of the hamlets along U.S. 13. The small Obama yard signs are in front of houses ranging from decently kept to barely structurally sound shacks, while the larger Romney, Scott Rigell, and George Allen signs are usually next to farm fields.)

But there is a value in yard signs as well. When I dabbled in precinct organization, I always wanted to have more yard signs on the block than the other guy did. If I couldn’t do that, I wanted at least one because it presented the fact that not everyone was willing to follow the commonly accepted norm that Democrats were entitled to rule my birthplace by fiat. Now while I rarely won the overall war, I think I did pretty well in my own precinct – not much of a consolation prize, but one nonetheless.

Yet that’s how political battles are won – one precinct at a time. Moreover, areas where one is strong can be used to provide more help to weaker areas. That’s why it burns me – and many others – up when resources which can be used to pick up the parts of (and races in) Maryland which serve as chinks in the armor of the majority party here are instead diverted to other states. While the other side is off trying to tip the scales someplace else, we can be effective in a rear guard action and plant our flag in a place they wrongly believed was safe.

Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up on November 7 realizing we have not only preserved a Constitutional republic by ousting a President thoroughly detrimental to America’s interests but removed a Senator who hasn’t held an honest job in four-and-a-half decades and picked up a couple House seats from right out under the nose of the Democratic establishment? I believe it’s quite doable, so let’s get to work!

The return

September 25, 2012 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on The return 

After setting up four posts for the weekend and a way to check comments from my phone, my weekend away is over. If you’ve seen my Facebook page, you’ll know I was in Ohio for my daughter’s wedding – she is now a happy newlywed enjoying her honeymoon and we made it home yesterday evening, tired but pleased with the experience. I really didn’t get into the political over the weekend aside from commenting on the asinine reserved parking for fuel-efficient vehicle signs I found in Maryland and Pennsylvania and seeing one of the buses for the “Obama’s Failing Agenda Tour” heading to an upcoming stop (I saw it near Youngstown, Ohio – it must be getting ready for stops in Ohio and Indiana this week.)

But there was a lot happening behind the scenes, which will probably end up as an odds and ends post later this week – perhaps tonight.

In a non-political event, I also officially got another inductee into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame as Dylan Bundy made his debut. He’s the first player to be a SotW and make it to The Show in the same season.

So I’m glad you stuck through the weekend, as readership was fairly typical. Now it’s time to knock your socks off again, for I am back.

Bloggers come to aid of World War II and Korean War vet

September 24, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry · Comments Off on Bloggers come to aid of World War II and Korean War vet 

This story could either end in tragedy or a final triumph for an 84-year-old Army engineer who is facing eviction from his home and can’t get a whole lot of help from Freddie Mac and other lenders.

I don’t have a lot to add to what has been good coverage by Guardian of Valor and the Riverfront Times, or even the tip I received from The Vail Spot. But it is heartwarming to see that, as of this writing, the couple and their disabled daughter have been the beneficiary of well over $4,000 in contributions from common folks who cared about a stranger’s plight.

And it’s interesting to see what gets Freddie Mac to jump and ask “how high”:

“The banks really don’t respond to homeowners themselves, but they do respond to bad publicity,”  (homeowner advocate Zach) Chasnoff said.

So here’s how it works: one blogger takes up a cause, others see it and join in, and soon a good deed is performed. It looks like the Scotts will be able to save their home for at least a little longer. This is even true when the blogger who alerted me himself has suffered through a financial strain – despite his own setbacks, he’s willing to work and set things right for others.

It also points out the fact that a non-governmental safety net is possible – notice that Freddie Mac wasn’t even returning calls and bought the house at its own auction (presumably it’s a fairly well-kept home, judging by the picture.) Until his cerebral hemorrhage in 2007, now-disabled veteran Bob Scott owned a furniture store. Must have been one of the one percent, right?

We don’t need the government to perform charity and redistribute wealth, as they did to bail out these banks. People can do just fine if left to their devices.

 

WMSOP hosts meeting on ballot questions

On this coming Thursday the Wicomico Society of Patriots will reconvene for a meeting to discuss Maryland’s ballot questions; in particular Questions 4, 5, 6, and 7.

But instead of the usual local speaker, a special guest will address these topics from his unique perspective.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Legacy Restaurant, 1801 N. Salisbury Boulevard in Salisbury. Guest speaker will be Bradlee Dean; here is a link to his website The Sons of Liberty.

As WSOP stresses:

Come learn about the issues so that you can share the information with friends and relatives. As we draw closer to the election, more people will begin to think about what they need to do. We can be there to help. Be the GO TO PERSON for information on the ballot questions. There will be seven statewide questions and four Wicomico County ballot questions. This is a long ballot and some of the questions are poorly worded, so we need to be prepared to explain the issues.

Bradlee Dean is described as a “firebrand minister, heavy metal drummer, and talk show host.” His appearance is mainly aimed at Question 6, which is the same-sex marriage question, but certainly there will be speakers to discuss all four of these important statewide issues: in-state tuition for illegal aliens (Question 4), Congressional redistricting (Question 5), same-sex marriage (Question 6), and expansion of gambling to include a sixth casino and table games (Question 7).

About the Sons of Liberty:

They are educating and equipping America with the knowledge of what our nation was truly founded upon – “The Bible is the Rock upon which our republic rests.”

The Sons of Liberty not only talk about the issues at hand, but lead by example with the ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International. (Emphasis in original.)

Interestingly, there may be a second guest speaker as Bradlee’s fellow Son of Liberty Jake McMillan is listed on one flyer but not the other. Both are coming from Minnesota to do a whirlwind tour of the region:

  • September 26: Barefoot Bernie’s, Hagerstown, MD (in conjunction with the Washington County Republican Club)
  • September 27: Legacy Restaurant, Salisbury, MD
  • September 28: Big Vanilla Athletic Club, Pasadena, MD
  • September 29 (morning): Millard Cooper Park, Sykesville, MD
  • September 29 (evening): Marco Polo Restaurant, Vienna, VA

Dean may be best known for his radio show and involvement with the Christian band Junkyard Prophet, a band which would be best described as a mix of rap and heavy metal. Now that would make the meeting interesting – and perhaps a bit uncomfortable – for those attending.

Weekend of local rock volume 49

September 22, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 49 

This comes to you from the friendly confines of Ocean City, Maryland. If you couldn’t guess, it was OC Bike Week at Pickles Pub.

But I wasn’t there to celebrate the biker culture; instead I came out to one of my favorite charity events.

Yes, I am a tata lover. I admit it. But it was for a good cause, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. Several people gave their time and effort to make this possible, including those who manned (womanned?) this table.

(See the front bag on the left side? I dropped most of my arm’s length of raffle tickets into the bag and won that prize. Third year in a row I’ve won something.)

Lovely Melissa was selling the 50/50 tickets.

I didn’t get a picture of Iris, who was manning her own camera for the best tattoo contest, but I did get a good picture of the ringleader of the event – who happens to be a fine singer and breast cancer survivor to boot. Michele Hogsett is the singer from Semiblind and also is a DJ who goes by the nom de plume DJ Siren, for obvious reasons.

She started the Save the Breast Fest three years ago and has gone through many trials and tribulations to make the event as successful as it is.

A lot of people were having a good time throughout the evening.

I do have one complaint of sorts, though. Jesse James Dupree, the lead singer of Jackyl, is now a whiskey maker. He had a promotional appearance next door at 8th Street Liquors (Pickles Pub and 8th Street Liquors are actually attached.)

It would have been nice if he’d popped over to say hello or at least donated a couple bottles of his product to the cause as a late raffle item. By several accounts he was quite interested in autographing the tatas. (Even if I had taken pictures, this is a family-friendly website.)

All right, that’s enough preliminaries. You can follow along with this handy band lineup.

As one may expect from this type of event, it was loaded with female-fronted bands. Lauren Glick and the Moodswingers batted leadoff.

I missed their first couple songs, but I did find out Lauren’s a great singer who can handle a little country or classic rock.

They yielded the stage to an up-and-coming band from Delaware called Elwood.

One of the younger groups playing the event, they mixed a couple bluesy originals in with their cover tunes. I thought they were the best band in the show.

Returning to the female-fronted pattern, Lipstick Molly came next.

The quintet played mostly rockers, but tossed in a little gunpowder and lead to liven things up for the modern country crowd.

The host band came next.

While Michele and Jim Hogsett have kept the band together for over six years, it seems like they have a different drummer and bassist every time I see them now. I was interested to hear they’ve gone back to their more “traditional” playlist, such as backing up ‘Black Magic Woman’ with ‘Magic Man.’

The second picture of Semiblind was taken during Jim’s solo on ‘Seven Nation Army,’ one which was so blisteringly hot you could fry eggs with it.

The composition and framing on this photo qualifies as my dumb luck shot of the night, and perhaps year.

Along with Semiblind, the only other band to play all four Save the Breast Fest events is Witches Brew.

I have to say that Susan Witchey (yes, that’s her name) personifies the biker chick, which makes her a natural for this show.

They also took care of the night’s first, long-neglected ‘social!’

Raise those glasses, ladies and gentlemen! And take some beads while you’re there – Susan really enjoyed passing them out between songs. I kind of wish they’d gotten to the last song in their written set, though – haven’t heard much Quiet Riot in awhile.

The final act eschewed cover songs, though. I liked that.

But I have a little trouble classifying Perception. Their artistic flair suggests their music would have a psychedelic strain, as you can see by the pictures of the guitar case and amplifier.

But when you actually hear them play, the very spare arrangements have more of a garage band feel. With these guys you can tell it’s three musicians as opposed to a band like Rush or even ZZ Top, where three musicians sound like four or five. They’re not heavy like Motorhead, either – these guys come with much more of an alternative sound and a “screw everything” attitude.

I have to wonder, though – I’m not a musician so I won’t hold myself out as an expert. But it seemed like on some of the middle songs they were either in a minor chord I don’t hear often or the guitar was a little out of tune. It was sort of strangely unpleasant.

Still, they put together some good songs which have gotten play on ‘Local Produce’ which was why I battled exhaustion from a long workday to stay around until 1 a.m. to hear them.

And the real good news is that the event raised almost $1,000 for the DBCC, which will go to help area women (and a few men) who are afflicted with breast cancer. All six bands should be commended, along with the local businesses which have supported this cause.

Upon further consideration…

September 21, 2012 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Upon further consideration… 

After stewing on this for a few days, I’ve come to a conclusion: Jim Messina, Campaign Manager for Obama For Against America, is a total douchebag.

In reaction to the Romney statements surreptitiously taped and taken out of full context by Mother Jones magazine, Messina said the following:

Today we learned that Mitt Romney said this about Obama supporters to fellow millionaires at a closed-door fundraiser:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income taxes …

My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The man who spoke these words — who demonstrates such disgust and disdain for half of our fellow Americans — is the other side’s choice for president of the United States. He wants to lead our country.

If we don’t come through for President Obama right now, this will be the guy making big decisions that affect us and our families every single day. (All emphasis in original.)

First of all, Romney was absolutely right. Sadly, we have an element of society (who will likely vote for Obama if they vote at all) who believes they’re entitled to every single morsel of government goodies because there are people who have things they want and they don’t. That selfish attitude lies in stark contrast to the attitude of many Romney supporters who are happy to be charitable but would prefer to make their own choices about who they donate to.

So we have remarks that the other 53 percent of us would likely listen to and nod our head in agreement with (not to mention some portion of the 47 percent who still have some semblance of pride.) Thing is, if the economy hadn’t gone in the tank a half-decade ago we may be looking at only 40 percent of the population being in the class Romney speaks of rather than 47 percent. That would be a huge electoral difference, although on the other hand if the economy were good Barack Obama would have had no chance of winning in 2008.

But the other question is why this video is important right now. Since it was apparently taped in the spring, it’s possible some turncoat – a double agent of sorts (remember, this was a fundraiser that attendees had to pay $50,000 a head for) – came and taped Romney’s remarks. At this point it was pretty obvious that Romney would be the GOP nominee so anything he said would be fair game. In a regular campaign, this tape would likely be the October surprise, but events in the Middle East have forced the Obama campaign and their allies in the press to go to the well a little early as yet another diversion. They couldn’t let the press narrative of Middle East protests sparked by an obscure filmmaker’s video fall apart as more evidence of an organized attack on the Libyan embassy leaked out, so this video becomes the new narrative: “Romney is out of touch and uncaring.”

Even if Romney is correct and Obama gets 47 percent of the vote, the good news is that leaves 53% of the vote for Mitt Romney. Depending on which states fall into each category, we can even allow Gary Johnson 3 percent and give Romney 50 percent and 270 or more electoral votes. Works for me.

Then maybe we can work on paring back that 47 percent on the government dole by growing the economy the right way, through job creation in the private sector and not “independence cards” from the public one. Funny how Jim Messina isn’t taking credit for all those new food stamp recipients.

Who really gets the Maryland casino jobs?

One of the selling points proponents of Question 7 have tried to stress is job creation, claiming that 12,000 positions in the areas of constructing the new facility, working inside, and tourism in general would open up once the issue is passed.

But a serious question has been raised on the construction job aspect: who will get them? It’s a question posited on a mailer I obtained yesterday.

If you’ll notice in the first box on the back side (the second page of the .pdf file), there’s a question as to who can actually take these jobs. Quoting from the mailer:

Given that developers will operate under a ‘Project Labor Agreement’ that limits who can be employed during construction, most able-bodied Maryland workers will never even have a shot at getting a job there.

In other words, non-union contractors need not apply. Is it any wonder it was the building trades union who sent me a letter to convince me to support the measure passing the Special Session? (They dropped a lot of money on that effort, according to the Baltimore Sun.) The most cynical among us might do the math: more union jobs = more union dues = more money into Democrats’ coffers.

And then we have the promise of permanent jobs. Certainly there will be jobs to be had at a new facility, as it will host its share of service workers to maintain the video slots, run the table games, and serve food and drinks. Yet there’s a legitimate concern about jobs being lost in other nearby gaming venues such as Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County. The opening of Maryland Live! has already prompted the management of the Hollywood Casino in Perryville to ask for the removal of 400 slots so their facility doesn’t look too empty and unused.

While the National Harbor facility may draw some business away from the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia and perhaps entice a few gamblers up from Virginia and out of Washington, D.C., the net effect on Maryland’s existing facilities is likely to be detrimental as the overall gaming participation growth is only predicted at 1 to 2 percent. Adding more Maryland facilities will shrink the pie for existing casinos more than it would add to the market, and as business declines elsewhere facilities like Maryland Live!, the Perryville Hollywood Casino, and Ocean Downs will have no choice but to shed jobs.

And let’s talk money. Oddly enough, arriving in my mailbox yesterday was another mailer which pointed out an obvious flaw covered in several other venues: money spent by gamblers in the hope of garnering a better education for our crumb-crunchers is really only replacing what’s already taken out of the general fund. So the net effect of Maryland’s education system may well be zero.

Yet the Diamondback piece also has some interesting quotes from Comptroller Peter Franchot, who chastises his fellow Democrats for hopping aboard the gambling train:

It’s a sad exercise to watch Democrats approve gambling, which everyone knows is a regressive tax. [Gaming] is a predatory industry.

It’s also likely to be another failed effort in a state which tried and failed to enact punitive taxes on millionaires, who simply laughed and moved to a state with lower taxes. Unfortunately, poor people – who are already stuck with underperforming schools which won’t see any true benefit from the money they’re wishing away – don’t readily have as many options aside from not gambling at all. And who’s going to pass up the allure of easy money?

If only they could get more benefit from the money being spent on passing or killing Question 7.

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