Odds and ends number 62

While this is a Halloween day edition, hopefully you consider this a treat and Sandy hasn’t played any trick on my power which extends past today. (It didn’t.)

Did you know that the media has succeeded in demonizing the TEA Party to a point where it has the most negative connotation among political phrases? This according to Rasmussen, who claims a full 44% have been brainwashed into believing that being a TEA Party candidate is detrimental.

I take it as a badge of honor myself. Now if you’re considered liberal or moderate, that’s not good in my eyes.

Nor is this good – assuming it’s true, of course. I rarely take what this guy says at face value:

We’ve out-registered Republicans in every battleground state for the past THREE months.

Right now, we’ve got a total of more than 14,000,000 registered Democrats in battleground states like Florida and Nevada — that means we have a 2,400,000-person lead over Republicans where it matters the most.

And when it comes to voting early in battleground states, we’re in the lead in important states like Iowa and Ohio — and ahead in ballot requests in Nevada.

In Ohio, all public polling shows that the President has a double-digit lead among those who have voted. And nearly two-thirds of all voter registrations in the state in 2012 were in counties that President Obama won in 2008.

In Iowa, we lead in vote-by-mail ballots cast, in-person early voting, total voting, and total ballots requested. We also lead by a wider margin than we did at this point in 2008 in both ballots requested and cast. (All emphasis in original.)

Of course, that’s all subjective: registering voters doesn’t always translate to votes. This Politico story by Adrian Gray points out that Democrat turnout in Ohio’s early voting is down 220,000 compared to 2008 while the GOP is up 30,000. If that’s true, not all of these voters Obama is registering are going into his column. One could even speculate that Obama wants these early votes because people are changing their minds late and moving to Romney.

Meanwhile, one group is helpfully reminding non-citizens that for them, voting is illegal and could carry a severe penalty. Some will call it voter suppression and intimidation, but the law is the law. As Help Save Maryland notes:

While a few Maryland jurisdictions allow non-citizens to vote in their local elections, in general, non-citizens who vote in Maryland federal and state elections may be subject to fines, imprisonment and/or deportation.  Even registering to vote, or encouraging other non-citizens to register to vote, is a serious crime in Maryland, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

The problem has been made worse by Maryland’s past history of giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. And organizations, such as CASA de Maryland, which provide services to illegal aliens, have posted notices in Spanish outside their facilities about helping people register to vote.

Another reason English should be our official language.

Someone else who is working against the grain assessed his two opponents succinctly after a recent debate:

(In this radio debate) both Senator Cardin and Rob Sobhani reaffirmed their commitments to a ‘government first’ economic recovery plan. While Senator Cardin believes this can be accomplished through increased taxes and increased government spending, Mr. Sobhani continues to campaign disingenuously by attempting to sway Marylanders for their votes with pie in the sky campaign promises that the Washington Post is calling ‘half-baked’. This is what we have come to expect from typical Washington insiders.

I am the only candidate making an ironclad promise to the citizens of our great state not to raise your taxes and to get the government out of your way, allowing our economy to return to growth and prosperity.

And the message seems to be working for Dan Bongino, as he continues to outraise his opponents combined. It’s unfortunate that their local debate was a casualty of Hurricane Sandy because I wanted to ask Sobhani about the concept of privatizing profit while socializing risk – if he can get $5.5 billion in investment, why not do it now?

A message that press guru Jim Pettit (the spokesperson for Change Maryland) has gotten out to a wider audience was recently featured on National Review Online. He writes about the Genuine Progress Indicator that Martin O’Malley is trying to foist on Maryland in lieu of actual job creation and true economic advancement. I spoke about it more on this post.

It’s telling to me that as O’Malley’s national profile increases, so does the reach of Change Maryland and, by extension, Pettit and Larry Hogan. Being a thorn in O’Malley’s side is obviously a popular gig.

So hopefully you’re in the process of recovering from Sandy if it affected you. Sorry I had to put up some seriously scary items on Halloween, but we could face an even scarier future one week from now if the current regime remains in place.

Political incorrectness redux

He caused a sensation when he appeared the first time, but “Smoking Man” is back.

Actually, the message is one which makes sense given the theme. But my thoughts on this aren’t about the theme, but why the smoker as a messenger is such a big deal. It also relates to another issue I think is important.

Think about it: smokers comprise a minority of the population – about 1 in 5 according to most generally accepted estimates. Yet their behavior is discouraged in nearly all public places and their right to conduct this activity in their own private space is coming more and more into question. Last year, for the second time in two years, Maryland legislators introduced a bill to ban smoking in private automobiles if children are present.

But smokers grin and bear the consequences of their actions as they huddle outside public places to get their fix, put their health at risk from a wide variety of diseases – at least according to medical research – and pay steep taxes of several dollars per pack in order to satisfy their nicotine craving. Moreover, thousands of state tax dollars are spent in an effort to shame smokers into giving up their habit, which is hypocritical at best when the state makes millions of dollars from smokers alone. (No one pays a specific tax on sugary pop, Big Macs or Cheetos – well, at least not yet.)

On the other hand, look at what we are doing to cater to an even tinier minority of the population – studies like this recent one have established this segment as somewhere between 3% and 5%. Among this minority, there are a subset who partake in much riskier behavior which can lead to health problems down the road as well.

Yet many of their activists are claiming this as a civil rights issue comparable to the struggles the black population went through a half-century ago. Of course, it was obvious in most cases who was being discriminated against, just as it is fairly obvious who among us smokes. (Many just have that tobacco smell which hangs on their clothes and belongings.) It’s not always as obvious who’s in this other tiny minority, but they seem to have an oversized voice when it comes to the cultural and political arenas. And while the percentage of smokers long-term is declining, the percentage of those who self-identify as LGBT is increasing as we teach their certain brand of “tolerance” and “acceptance” in schools and media.

Most of us don’t hound the LGBT population back into the closet, and I’m not advocating such an action. But there is something wrong with this overall picture. Just look at the history of smoking bans: first we banned smoking on airplanes, then we segregated smokers into smaller and smaller areas in other public venues (“smoking or non-smoking?”) before eliminating most entirely, and now we’re trying to encroach these prohibitions into private spaces. It’s been a breakdown in the right of someone to enjoy a substance which is still legal.

Similarly, the legalization of same-sex marriage begins a further breakdown of the family unit. Since biologically speaking it takes a male and female to create offspring, there is no way a committed same-sex couple can have children naturally. There either has to be a surrogate mother or a sperm donor involved, and that person shouldn’t forfeit their rights just for the convenience of a same-sex couple.

And then there is the probable next step: plural marriage and polyamory. A Brazilian trio (one man, two women) recently made headlines when their civil union was announced. At this point it remains a civil union but Brazilian law allows for the conversion of a civil union to a marriage with a judge’s approval, according to the Telegraph article. At some point we here in America will further break down the traditional family and remove those guideposts which have served us well for centuries.

As we have seen with the jihad against smokers, the assault against tradition and values may accelerate once the step is taken and voters in some state approve same-sex marriage. When we give an inch, the next mile is placed in jeopardy.

Curious: MSEA fails to endorse Question 7

October 30, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Education, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Curious: MSEA fails to endorse Question 7 

According to this story by Matt Connolly in the Washington Examiner, the Maryland State Education Association – the state’s largest teacher’s union – opted not to endorse Question 7. This has to be a severe blow to the hopes of supporters who are basing much of their argument on the assertion that a new casino and table games would benefit Maryland schools to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

But the MSEA could not get the slim majority required to endorse the bill, instead remaining officially neutral on Question 7. This failure reflects the skepticism of many rank-and-file members who have heard the argument before that lottery money would be a surefire ticket to increased school funding.

While various local units have endorsed the measure – many of them in areas benefiting from either an existing or proposed casino – the lack of support from the 70,000-strong teachers’ union continues a bad week which also saw the release of a poll showing Question 7 heading for defeat by a projected margin of 15 points.

That perception of politicians not being able to keep their promises is perhaps the strongest argument opponents have in their bid to defeat Question 7, but there’s also the controversy over the entire Special Session made necessary because the two sides failed in a last-minute push to resolve the gambling issue (or even pass a budget to their liking) in the regular session last April. That disastrous ending led to both the “doomsday” and gambling Special Sessions and may have sown the seeds of mistrust for anything sponsored by this edition of the Maryland General Assembly.

Unfortunately, while we can defeat Question 7, we are pretty much stuck with the cast of misfits and miscreants we call the Maryland General Assembly until 2014. Of course they will probably come back with a second attempt at building the National Harbor facility, legalizing table games, and allowing 24-hour operation on the next general election ballot in 2014, but perhaps the better thing to consider would be the repeal of Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution. But that won’t happen because common sense is as rare as the MSEA looking past a projected pot of state money.

Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie?

October 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie? 

I received two e-mails on Thursday that I think activists should know about. Both came under the banner of “Maryland for Romney” but from two different people. The first I excerpt from came from David Ferguson of the state party:

In order to make sure that Mitt Romney becomes the 45th President of the United States, we need to win key swing states like our next-door neighbor, Virginia.

So, please join us for a trip to the Northern Virginia suburb of Sterling. The bus will depart Greenbelt (Century 21 Real Estate, 6401 Golden Triangle) at 8am, travel to Virginia (Sterling Victory Office, 21430 Cedar Drive Sterling, VA 20164) and return that same evening at 7pm.

And the second came from the desk of National Committeeman Louis Pope:

Victory is within site (sic) for the Romney-Ryan team on November 6th, and we all must pitch in to get over the finish line and win this election!

That’s why I’m inviting you to join our team in traveling to Ohio this weekend. Polls today have shown the race there tied at 48%, and putting boots on the group will give us that critical edge to overcome the Obama agenda. Ohio is one of a small number of remaining swing states that will determine if we welcome Mitt Romney as our 45th President or if Barack Obama retains the keys to the White House for another term.

For details on our Friday (October 26th) evening departure from Frederick, plus overnight accommodations in Independence, OH, please RSVP athttp://www.mdgop.org/mitt-romney.

Okay, I get the fact that Maryland is probably not going to be Romney country – although I suspect it won’t be nearly the bloodbath John McCain suffered here. I can see a single-digit margin in the race if all breaks correctly.

But the other thing I see is a number of winnable downticket races perhaps being ignored because we’re sending our best and brightest out of state, including a lot of party regulars. Is that really the way to attract and reward those grassroots supporters who may have come on board because they’re most interested in a local candidate like Nancy Jacobs, Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, Tony O’Donnell, Frank Mirabile, or Ken Timmerman, or even the statewide race of Dan Bongino?

I’ll grant that the Ferguson note concluded with this statement:

If you can’t make it to Virginia, the MDGOP StrikeForce will be holding a Super Saturday in Montgomery County (18540 Office Park Drive in Montgomery Village).

These Super Saturday events have worked to promote a number of candidates in various high-density areas of the state (there were none on the Eastern Shore) but it seems like the top billing has gone to events where Maryland volunteers are sent to Virginia or Pennsylvania. Of course, this begs the question: who remains to change hearts and minds here in the Free State?

Yet if you think of things in a political cycle, as I sometimes tend to do, the Maryland GOP has failed in achieving its key objectives. Obviously we were at a very low point in 2008 when we were trounced due to a subpar candidate at the very top of the ticket whose opponent had enough coattails to drag in an extra Congressman from a district which should vote Republican every day and twice on Sundays.

But in 2010 we gained back that seat and picked up a net win of four seats in the General Assembly (losing two in the Senate but gaining six in the House) almost despite ourselves – many of our biggest victories came at the county or municipal levels. Unfortunately, the state party has done little to cultivate those grassroots supporters who may now want to see a local candidate prevail. Instead, they seem to be pressing hard for helping Mitt Romney win other states and risking defeat in a few winnable races here in Maryland.

Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses, I believe the time has come for new leadership in the state party. We had a promising start on that with the election of Nicolee Ambrose as National Committeewoman, but perhaps the time has come for a new group of executives to push the party in a different direction. We don’t seem to have a lot of discipline as some key people have defected on issues like the U.S. Senate race or the three questions we in the grassroots worked hard to get on the ballot. Candidates – good candidates – which have essentially fallen into our lap have seen their efforts wasted or simply bypassed the state party to attempt to push their efforts forward.

I understand the deck is somewhat stacked against us by a perceived 2:1 registration disadvantage. But we use that as a crutch rather than as a wedge. I believe we can peel 1 out of 5 Democrats away who are really conservative and should be registered Republican; further I also feel that perhaps 2/3 of those unaffiliated are closet Republicans. Instead of a 2-to-1 state (actually 56-29 in registration) by my thinking we are politically a 50-50 state. Just do the math:

  • Begin with 56 D, 29 R, 15 unaffiliated.
  • Take 2/3 of unaffiliated and put them in the R column: 61 D, 39 R.
  • Now peel the 1 in 5 Democrats off: 50 R, 50 D.

That’s how we have won elections in the past; the trick is to get people to register (and vote) the way they feel. It’s a process of education and work, and there are areas where we will lag behind in the process because the voter rolls are much more heavily liberal and Democrat. But in the words of Dan Bongino we “cede no ground.”

There will be lessons to learn from the 2012 election, but I’m just hoping they’re not too bitter for Maryland Republicans who let a couple close state races slip away by not minding the store.

Poll: DREAM Act, gay marriage too close to call

Matthew Newman at Old Line Elephant has posted the results of a Baltimore Sun/Opinion Works poll which showed three of the four main ballot questions in Maryland within the margin of error. According to Newman, Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) is leading 47% for and 45% against, Question 5 (redistricting) has 36% for and 33% against, Question 6 (gay marriage) is 46% for and 47% against, and Question 7 is failing by a 39-54 margin. So it’s all going to depend on turnout.

Newman also notes that the three previously polled questions (4, 5, and 7) have all trended in the right direction, especially Question 6. It was up 10 points a month ago but now trails.

But the accompanying Sun story shows the amount of misinformation still out there. For example, one Question 6 supporter said “the key to her decision to vote yes on Question 6 is ‘the fact that religious personnel are not required to marry people if it is against their beliefs.'” That’s not true, as Section 3 (a) of the law states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization, association, or society, may not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request for the services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges is related to:

(1) the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of a marriage that is in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs; or

(2) the promotion of marriage through any social or religious programs or services, in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs, unless State or federal funds are received for that specific program or service. (Emphasis mine.)

So regardless of their feelings, the moment a church or religious organization takes a dime of government money they are placed into a position similar to those of religious organizations who don’t want to pay for coverage of birth control.

The Sun also finds a voter misinformed on Question 4:

“…in recent weeks she has moved from undecided to supporting the measure. What she’s learned about the eligibility requirements for in-state tuition has convinced her the program would not be a giveaway to immigrants.

‘It seems like they have to jump through a number of hoops. I’m beginning to lean toward it,’ she said. ‘You have to prove you’ve been contributing toward the system and to me that’s important.‘ (Emphasis mine.)

In truth, the student or family only has to file a return – for all we know, they could squeeze thousands more dollars out of the system by getting money back. So that’s two misinformed voters who potentially are voting the wrong way.

Yet the trends are encouraging, because not only do the voters have the chance to kill off several bad laws but also send a message to the General Assembly that they’ve gone too far in changing the state of Maryland.

Early voting could be extended

October 28, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Early voting could be extended 

Updated at bottom, but as predicted early voting was extended through Friday, November 2.

Due to the possible effects of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Martin O’Malley has issued this statement:

Governor Martin O’Malley (Friday) issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency with respect to Hurricane Sandy.  Depending on how the storm develops, Hurricane Sandy may have an impact on early voting, which is scheduled to take place between Saturday, October 27 and Thursday, November 1.

The Election Law provides that “[i]n the event of a state of emergency, declared by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of law, that interferes with the electoral process, the emergency proclamation may:  (1) provide for the postponement, until a specific date, of the election in part or all of the State; (2) specify alternate voting locations; or (3) specify alternate voting systems.”  Md. Code Ann., Election Law Article, Sec. 8-103(a).

The Governor’s Office and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency are actively monitoring weather developments in order to determine whether changes to the early voting schedule may be necessary to protect public safety.  In the meantime, the State Board of Elections, the local boards, and all early voting locations should continue their preparations for early voting and ensure that all voting sites remain open and that all election staff report for duty.

As the storm stands at the moment (I’m writing this late Saturday night) the biggest impacts could come Monday into Tuesday, although deteriorating conditions may force a shortening of Sunday hours as well. My best guess is that whatever days are scrubbed will be added onto the back end, so losing Monday and Tuesday will likely mean early voting is extended into Friday and Saturday of this coming week.

Locally this may not matter as much since the Civic Center is also a polling place on Election Day (it just happens to be mine, so I know this.) But there may be other venues where interceding events place an extra financial strain on local boards of election which didn’t anticipate a change in schedule at this late date. It may also affect turnout slightly as two of the slower days of early voting are traded for two days with the potential for more activity, with an extra weekend day. Still, perhaps 80 to 90 percent of the in-person votes will be cast on Election Day itself.

Yet judging by this picture from Saturday interest in this election in general is high (h/t Jackie Wellfonder):

Early voting at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, October 27, 2012. Photo by Jackie Wellfonder.

I don’t suspect the lines will be as long on Sunday and may not be present at all Monday and perhaps Tuesday. But there are a lot of people who want to vote; let’s hope they choose wisely.

Meanwhile, there are two other local events which could be jeopardized by Hurricane Sandy: a townhall meeting Andy Harris scheduled for Monday evening in Fruitland and the U.S. Senate debate on Tuesday afternoon at Salisbury University. If I still have power I will strive to keep readers abreast of developments in both.

Update, Sunday 1 p.m.: Judging by these two Facebook pictures, early voting has heavy turnout again today. No word yet on whether voting is postponed for tomorrow and Tuesday.

Update, Sunday 2 p.m.: The Harris townhall slated for tomorrow has been scrubbed due to weather, according to the Congressman’s Facebook page. Same goes for early voting Monday, per an announcement from Governor Martin O’Malley.

Update 3, Sunday 5 p.m.: The PACE debate at Salisbury University involving the U.S. Senate candidates is another casualty of the weather.

Her first time

In response to that asinine pro-Obama commercial…

Speaking as a guy – albeit one who is very happy in his relationship – this girl is way more attractive than that semi-obscure actress who mouthed out the original.

Still, it would be interesting to know just how many women about my age pulled the lever their first time for Ronald Reagan. And can you tell that our side is going to pick on that commercial for another week or so? I particularly liked the  line about voting with her “lady smarts” rather than her lady parts.

The spot only had 271 views when I watched it but I bet it’s viral by the end of the weekend.

Dirty tricks on Question 7? (updated)

October 26, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Dirty tricks on Question 7? (updated) 

A source forwarded these pictures to me. While I cannot ascertain the accuracy of the allegations because the forwarded photos aren’t of the best quality, the message seems to be that someone in Montgomery County is playing dirty pool with Question 7 signs.

A truck collecting anti-Question 7 signs

It’s harder to tell because of the photo resolution, but allegedly other “No on 7” signs which remained along that same road had pro-Question 7 signs placed immediately in front of them.

Double signage.

Obviously someone feels that the close poll results justify the means necessary to take and/or cover signs. The more interesting one is the truck full of brush and “no on 7” signs.

It’s not as bad as this vandalism from Worcester County, but nonetheless it’s troubling that one side is taking it upon itself to hide the truth.

Romney signs vandalized in Worcester County.

There are millions of dollars at stake in the Question 7 election, not to mention the nine-figure sum spent by both sides combined in the race. So it’s not a shock that some people take it too far, but it is disappointing.

Update: I received a pro-Question 7 mailing yesterday which prominently featured former GOP party chairs Michael Steele and Audrey Scott under the Republican elephant and banner headline “Republican Leaders Support Question 7.” Obviously this mailing was targeted to Republicans because I received one.

But the real truth is that the state party took no official stand on the issue, although our county party officially stands against Question 7. There’s nothing new about Audrey Scott and I being on opposite sides of an issue, but I previously commented on a letter sent to me from the pair a few weeks ago. Perhaps the fact Audrey’s son is working for the Question 7 advocates had something to do with her stance?

Calling the questions

Because early voting begins tomorrow, I feel it’s necessary to talk about how Maryland voters should vote on the statewide issues they’ll face in the election. A total of seven questions are on the statewide ballot – four of them referred by action of the General Assembly and three of them via referendum. This is the first time since 1992 that state voters will have the option to overturn previously passed measures from the Maryland General Assembly and potentially break a forty-year string of honoring the General Assembly’s will.

I’m going to go down the questions in order, but Questions 1 and 2 are essentially similar – they just affect different jurisdictions.

Question 1 reads as follows:

Requires judges of the Orphans’ Court for Prince George’s County to be admitted to practice law in this State and to be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar.

Substitute the word “Baltimore” for “Prince George’s” and you have Question 2.

Apparently the idea has spread that only an attorney and member of the Maryland Bar can understand the law as it relates to probate law. Now my understanding is that current Orphans’ Court judges who aren’t members of the Bar need to have certain decisions reviewed by a licensed attorney, but this process doesn’t seem to be an issue in most jurisdictions. The people of Prince George’s and Baltimore counties are already free to elect a standing member of the Maryland Bar if they feel the person is qualified to take on the task of Orphans’ Court Judge, but in not making that a requirement it allows people who are in other related occupations or even just those with simple common sense to hold these positions.

Further, while the ballot issues only affect Baltimore and Prince George’s counties now, it’s only a matter of time before the legal lobby gets this to be a statewide prohibition. That would artificially limit the pool of qualified applicants in many smaller counties in the same respect that only a small number are allowed to be State’s Attorney. It prevents turnover in the position, even if someone who may do a better job but lacks a legal qualification comes along.

Rather than set this further precedent (which started in the 2010 election with Baltimore City) I recommend a vote AGAINST both Questions 1 and 2.

Question 3 was also referred by the General Assembly:

Changes the point at which an elected official charged with certain crimes is automatically suspended or removed from office. Under existing law, an elected official who is convicted or pleads no contest is suspended and is removed only when the conviction becomes final. Under the amended law, an elected official is suspended when found guilty and is removed when the conviction becomes final or when the elected official pleads guilty or no contest.

To be quite honest, this ballot language is confusing to me. As I think I read it, basically an elected official who pleads guilty or no contest also forfeits his office. But an honorable public servant wouldn’t get into the situation in the first place.

I don’t see the need to change existing law and on my ballot I’m going to vote against it. But insofar as recommendations go I will remain neutral.

Question 4 is the first of three brought to the ballot via referendum back in 2011.

Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

First of all, the opening sentence is wrong – they are not “undocumented immigrants,” they are “illegal aliens.”

And the argument that these families have to pay taxes is a red herring – they only have to file. Chances are they’re going to get a refund from claiming the child credit so in that instance they are a net taker of government largess.

This bill is also disingenuous in the fact that these illegal aliens will pay in-state tuition rates but for official enrollment counts will be deemed out-of-state students. So why are they entitled to pay in-state tuition again?

Aside from the last sentence, which according to Delegate Pat McDonough was the original intent of the bill until hijacked by illegal immigration advocates like CASA de Maryland, this ballot issue is a trainwreck for hard-working and legal Maryland residents.

Don’t fall for the sob stories presented by supporters – I urge a vote AGAINST Question 4.

Question 5 was also made necessary via petition, although it had the slimmest measure of success and made the signature threshold with fewer than 60,000 valid signatures (slightly over 55,000 were required.) It is also perhaps the most poorly-worded item on the ballot.

Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

I don’t know who dreamed up this description, but they left out the obvious word: “gerrymandered.”

It’s worth noting that Maryland Republicans created a map which was very elegant in its simplicity and only carved up a handful of counties in a relatively sensible manner. Of course, that was ignored by the Democrats who drew up our current abortion of a map, with districts resembling Rorschach ink blots. Their main objective was to set up State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola with his own Congressional seat but that plan was foiled by John Delaney.

Of course, there are those who prefer the current lines because they see a slight partisan advantage for themselves and, indeed, we run the risk of an even worse map should the current lines be tossed out. But I’ll take my chances. Vote AGAINST Question 5.

Next up is the petition which secured the most signatures – over 200,000 at last count as thousands continued to pour in months after the official deadline. Here is Question 6 in legalese:

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

The other day I posted a video which explains well the overall argument against same-sex marriage, but one other point I’ve heard refutes the religious exemption fig leaf: that only applies until some clergy member creates the precedent of marrying a same-sex couple. Once precedent is established, there’s less legal recourse for recalcitrant clergy to refuse to perform ceremonies, much like those religious organizations which provide health insurance for their employees are being forced to cover birth control and abortions via federal edict. Those portions of the law would be the first to be struck down in any liberal court of law, and Maryland has enough of those to make it a slam dunk.

Honestly I don’t care who sleeps with who, but marriage should remain as being between a man and a woman – it’s for the children. Vote AGAINST Question 6.

Finally, we come to Question 7, which has been – by far – the one generating the most media attention thanks to nearly nine figures of spending by various casino interests. In all honesty, it’s a battle between gaming concerns Penn National and MGM for the hearts and minds of Maryland voters. Penn National has casinos in Charles Town, West Virginia and Perryville, Maryland which would be hurt by the competition a new casino would provide while MGM finally got a sweetheart deal from the state it could accept since they chose not to bid on any of the five original casinos provided by state voters in 2008.

Question 7 reads:

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George’s County?

I’ve already talked about this issue at length so I see no need to reinvent the wheel, whether it’s roulette or otherwise. Vote AGAINST Question 7.

Because of my inclination to disfavor Question 3, it will be an easy trip down the ballot for me – no, no, no, and so forth. But on the Wicomico County Questions A through D, all deserve support as they were carefully thought out by a Charter Review Committee whose judgement I trust. These are outlined on page 2 of our sample proof ballot here.

Of the four, perhaps the weakest link is Question C because of the removal of the residency requirement. But while a 2/3 majority doesn’t seem like a lot, having a seven-person County Council translates to a 5-2 majority. I’d be a little more hesitant with a nine-person County Council and 6-3 requirement but that’s not in the cards anytime soon.

The others are good ideas, particularly Question A. Having experienced the Council replacement process I would have liked an additional 15 days to make a better-informed decision.

So now you know how this voter will fill out his ballot, and I suggest you do the same.


Bongino holds local fundraisers

Since well over 90% of his money comes from individuals – as opposed to self-financing or special interest PACs like his main opponents use – U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino was on the lower Eastern Shore tonight collecting money for his campaign. Between three separate events in Worcester and Wicomico counties, over 200 people came to meet and greet the Republican nominee.

The local meeting was held at our county headquarters, and I have a hint for you: if you want a Bongino (or Romney) sign you may want to get them now.

Besides, as the fans say, the Republican ticket is “our only hope for change.”

I must say, though, those who hoped for a good dinner weren’t disappointed. Notice I didn’t take a picture of the desserts for fear of inducing a sugar coma by osmosis.

Dan arrived a short time after the 6:30 start to the event, and set out to meet and greet all those in attendance. Here he speaks with Wicomico County Romney campaign chair Bonnie Luna.

I have seen and heard Dan speak on a number of occasions, but each time I get something different out of it. For example, I knew the part of the story about his leaving the Secret Service to pursue this race, but I didn’t realize it had come after a transfer to the Baltimore office, where he said he got time to “sit and think.” He moved to action because “I couldn’t sit at a desk and watch the degradation.”

I also knew from seeing the most recent financial statements that Dan had outraised his two main opponents combined by about $100,000, momentum which included this “incredible” day on the Shore. But I didn’t know another $250,000 had rolled in since. If the Maryland GOP is as dead as people say, asked Dan, then why did we outraise them?

I recalled Dan talking before about how Maryland was both “saveable” and “worth saving” and that Reagan and Bush 41 carried the state. And the part about two paths forward which don’t intersect was not foreign, either. But his words about the Democratic Party were interesting: while he was disappointed back in 1996 that Clinton won re-election, it didn’t mean the country would collapse. Bill Clinton was first and foremost a politician so he knew he had to “dial it back” after the Republican takeover of Congress, said Dan.

I’ve heard Dan talk a lot about Ben Cardin’s record. But the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy – whose legacy Cardin seems to want to claim and a man Dan’s mother adored – “that party has died,” said Bongino. Further, he remarked that when Republicans win there’s generally not a penalty to their side, but when Democrats of today win we all pay a penalty in lost freedom and prosperity. “You’ll always spend your money better than the government,” said Dan. In many areas of everyday life, but particularly education, liberals have “forfeited (our) kids’ futures away,” he added.

And what of Maryland? Dan has talked at length about not ceding ground, but it runs deeper than just a Senate race. He had some choice remarks about the state’s “septic” bill, which he claimed wasn’t about septic systems but about usurping private property rights. Yet those who leave the state and give up don’t make a point because someone will always come along and take their place – chances are the new arrivals may be more willing to cede their liberties to those in power. “The fight is here,” Dan concluded.

Obviously the conservative message resonated well with most who attended – a number which included far too few local elected officials, in my opinion – but they weren’t really there to be convinced. They were there to give, by check, credit card, or even participate in the hat auction which raised a nice three-figure sum. I gave my modest donation that a struggling writer can afford, too. (And thanks to Delegate Charles Otto, who did attend.)

But there’s a lot more which needs to be done. While there’s one candidate who can buy himself commercial time out the wazoo and another who can count on the Astroturf ground game of union thugs and others who haven’t found their way off the government dependence plantation, Dan Bongino is counting most of all on average people who just want to make a difference. His regional coordinator (and my fellow blogger) Jackie Wellfonder is one such person who tonight shared her story of a political awakening and volunteering to join the Bongino campaign early on, but thousands more who participate in some way, shape, or form exist around the state. Here’s your chance to join them.

In my political lifetime, I have seen candidates who trailed by 17 points a week before the election come back to win. There are signs that the one hopeful using his fortune to carpetbomb the state airwaves with 30-second ads in his upstart campaign is losing traction once people find out just how much he panders to the audience he thinks is listening at the time. And of course, Dan’s other opponent, the incumbent (and very long-in-the-tooth) Senator, is just going through the motions and enjoying the fight between the two perceived lower-tier candidates. He smugly feels it’s in the bag because that’s what conventional wisdom assures him is the case.

Yet for those who are principled, those who feel the government’s role is to simply get out of the way and not feel like it has to be the solution for everything or pick out a certain small number of goals to attain while other, perhaps more important needs go unfulfilled, they are the Marylanders from whom Dan Bongino is seeking a vote. They may not realize it quite yet, but for millions in this adopted home state of mine a vote in their self-interest is a vote for Dan Bongino.

I’m not ceding any ground, so you shouldn’t either. Conservatives have too often been counted out, only to pull out a shocker on Election Day. With a nationalized campaign, Dan is one who can pull the upset – so let’s get out and make it happen.

An honor to be nominated (again)

October 24, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off on An honor to be nominated (again) 

After a one-year hiatus, my favorite category of the Maryland Outstanding Blog Awards (affectionately known as the Mobbies) is back. monoblogue is one of ten nominees (so far) for Best Political Blog; I’ve also been nominated in the Best News Blog category where I join eight other hopefuls.

This isn’t a new experience for me, as I’ve been nominated twice before in the three-year history of the awards, sponsored by the Baltimore Sun. Since it’s more or less a popularity contest once voting begins and many of the contenders are more local to Baltimore, I figure making the top tier is a pretty good showing for this little ole Eastern Shore blog. (In looking the results up, I have at least finished closer to top than bottom in my previous two tries.)

But maybe I have a couple advantages this time, since my readership and social media reach have grown quite a bit in the last two years. It would be nice to win, but I’m keeping my expectations low since the competition is very good in both categories and there are several who I can say are worthy of victory.

However, I have another personal stake in this as I nominated Jackie Wellfonder’s Raging Against the Rhetoric blog as the Best New Blog. She has a tougher row to hoe because there are 20 nominees so far; obviously she works at the same disadvantages I do insofar as living in the hinterlands. But if there’s someone who can pull this off, I’m confident she can.

Nominations close tomorrow, and voting begins October 29. As I recall, a person can vote once per day.


Sobhani closes in on $5 million mark

Nice work if you can get it.

Financial reports can be interesting reading, and it was interesting to find out that just 23 people have donated to Rob Sobhani’s upstart U.S. Senate campaign. 22 of them contributed a total of $27,595, an unknown number of others have chipped in $3,025, and Sobhani has dropped $4.61 million. Yes, you read that right: $4.61 million. All told, Sobhani has almost outspent all 23 of the other candidates who have ran for the Senate seat this cycle combined.

However, without Sobhani that distinction would fall to Ben Cardin as he’s spent $3.62 million himself. Dan Bongino is a distant third with just over $916,000 in spending. For comparison’s sake, those who ran for Maryland’s other Senate seat in 2010 spent just over $5.5 million in aggregate, with incumbent Barbara Mikulski accounting for just shy of $4 million and Republican Eric Wargotz spending just over $1.2 million. It appears that both the Democrat and Republican in this race are on track to spend in roughly that ratio.

Interesting as well is that just 8 of those 22 Sobhani contributors live in Maryland, with one being former Sixth District Democratic Congressional candidate Milad Pooran. Most of them also have what could be best described as ethnic names, and there is an expenditure from Sobhani’s report to a website called Iranian.com for advertising. Obviously there’s no law which prohibits those of a particular ethnicity from participating in politics, but I think this reflects statements he made in previous campaigns regarding his thoughts on being Iranian-American as opposed to a different, more common ethnicity.

Sobhani’s campaign yesterday released an internal poll which showed him at 20 percent support. (While Rob calls that a surge, it’s worthy of note that the number is little changed from the Maryland Poll last month while a recent Washington Post poll had him at just 14 percent.) But let’s say he gets that 20 percent and the total number of votes matches the 2004 election (the last Maryland U.S. Senate election in a Presidential year.) The 2004 turnout was 2,321,931 votes, which means 20% of that total is 464,386 votes. It also means that Rob may well spend over $10 per vote. That’s Presidential election territory, but Rob is running in just one state.

Of course, this third-person candidacy is possibly the greatest news Ben Cardin ever received because he can draw the same 54% he received last time and still win by 25 points because Sobhani draws far more votes from the Republican than he does the Democrat – it’s nearly a 60-40 ratio according to the Maryland Poll, which was conducted before Bongino got on the airwaves.

Starting tomorrow, though, Rob Sobhani will get his wish and be allowed to participate in three remaining debates: a radio debate on WOLB-AM in Baltimore tomorrow morning, a debate in front of a live audience here in Salisbury on October 30, and a televised debate on October 31 in Washington, D.C. Perhaps Rob can flesh out his platform, which so far has been rather sketchy.

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