Weekend of local rock volume 51

November 30, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 51 

Now that the hurricane season and the election are both bad memories, I can finally get to this post I’ve been meaning to work on for over a month. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do a WLR post on the Autumn Wine Festival because the musical selections truly aren’t “rock” but some of the bands were relatively close and I’m not going to play favorites. In fact, going back through my archives this is a first. So here goes with the handy entertainment schedule which will tell you in what order I present the pictures to you.

By looking at this, you’ll notice that the Backfin Banjo Band is first up.

It’s worth noting that these guys begin playing before the event actually opens, so those in line are able to hear them play their mix of standards in old-fashioned jazz and ragtime. They’ve played the AWF a number of times (as have at least one other band in the lineup) so obviously the management is familiar with the band and likes to keep them around. (Interestingly enough, they’re also playing our WCRC Christmas Party on Sunday evening.)

Next up were The Larks.

The musicians in this group are quite well known locally, both collectively as the Larks and in a host of other projects. I’m most familiar with Pete Bozick as a member of the Permilla Project. So they had a lot of influences and it showed in their set, which I enjoyed from my seat out among the vendors.

Another group which mixed in a number of different styles enjoyable were the Bullbuckers.

They even brought their own swag, which was great self-promotion on the AWF’s bigger day.

The Saturday afternoon affair wrapped up with Anything Goes, which lived up to its name by having a playlist featuring interesting takes on a number of songs.

Some had enough wine to put on their dancing shoes.

But the large crowd enjoyed the classic hits Anything Goes strung together.

There were only three bands Sunday, since the proceedings began 90 minutes later. First up was another jazz trio familiar to area listeners, Dark Gold Jazz.

People were already relaxing to their sound, as the chairs were filled from time to time.

Those of us who also attended the Good Beer Festival got a rerun of sorts because Interesting Monsters played at both. And yes, the bagpipes were put to use.

Finally, the event closed with a traditional finishing band, On The Edge.

It seems to me that this band has closed the AWF more often than not in the six or seven years I’ve participated in the proceedings as a vendor. They played their usual menu of Motown-influenced rock and soul, but it was interesting to see people dancing with Obama or Romney signs. I used this photo in my original post for another reason but there were dueling political signs on the dance floor as well.

Now if you want to go see local rock before next year, tomorrow is the annual 12 Bands of Christmas show at the Pour House in Ocean City, beginning at 2 p.m. and running for 12 hours. Unfortunately, it’s fairly doubtful I’ll make it since I have this previous commitment called the Fall Convention and Lord knows what time we’ll finish arguing in Howard County.

Thus, this edition of Weekend of Local Rock will have to suffice for awhile.

Just 500 supporters may be enough

November 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Just 500 supporters may be enough 

On the eve of the state Republican convention, it appears that Charles Lollar is making the GOP 2014 gubernatorial race at least a trio and perhaps a foursome. If this is the extent of his goal in making a decision, I think it will be one easily met:

Charles Lollar is the right man to be our next Governor.  With your help, we can make this happen. Join the Draft Lollar Team today or visit our Facebook page for all the events occurring around Maryland.  Please make sure you “like” the page, as well.  Our goal is to be at 500 “likes” by Christmas 2012.  Let’s create an environment for a truly successful campaign for the highest office in Maryland!

Our first mission is to have Ambassadors for the Draft Lollar Campaign at the MD GOP’s Fall Convention. This year’s convention will be held at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center, in Ellicott City, Maryland, on November 30th and December 1st. This will be the first time we as a team will be seen promoting Charles Lollar as a potential Gubernatorial Candidate for the 2014 Election.

Now I’ve seen commentary questioning the idea of a candidate encouraging a draft effort, but I can’t say that this is a bad thing. It creates buzz and the opportunity for free media, which are two things I generally find interesting on the surface. Sometimes I dig and find substance behind the sizzle and sometimes the substance is lacking; in this case I believe there’s plenty of matter to discuss. Personally I think Charles will jump into the race and here’s why.

With the success of Change Maryland at attracting followers (25,000 and counting) it’s likely state Republicans will allow Charles to blow by the number prescribed – I would say a good marketing strategy would place Lollar’s support in the 2,000 to 3,000 range. Larry Hogan’s group is far and away the social media leader; by comparison the Facebook page for fellow Republicans David Craig and Blaine Young have 1,534 and 127 “likes” respectively. (Lollar’s nascent “draft” page is at 152 “likes” as of this writing.) Charles also has the advantage of a little bit of statewide name recognition, although his southern Maryland base isn’t really the center of population.

I can also tell you that at least two of these contenders will be pressing the flesh this weekend at the convention since David Craig’s infamous e-mail invitation was to a hospitality suite there, while Blaine Young used old-fashioned snail mail to convey his message. (Young’s message, while perhaps a little clunky on sentence structure, did have all the words spelled correctly and in place.) It wouldn’t surprise me to see Larry Hogan or Lollar there, either.

You know, for a party that everyone writes off, people sure do look for support from us. While I’ve met all these candidates (Lollar, Craig, Hogan, and Young) in person somewhere along the line, it will be good to take a fresh look at their qualifications and see how much substance they have. It’s not too early to back a 2014 candidate who makes a good impression and is right on the issues.

Proofreading required

November 28, 2012 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics · 2 Comments 

The life of a writer can sometimes be hard: long days searching for just the right words, inspirations which keep you from sleeping at night, and deadlines approaching a lot faster than the time becomes available with the everyday chores we all must do.

But one task which a competent writer has to do is proofread his work. Now I’m fussier than most because I will come back into posts I’ve already put to bed if I reread them and see something amiss. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible with e-mail and today I got one with a definite sin of omission because it told me:

… I hope see you there.

Now I know that may seem very picayune, but when the e-mail is a campaign e-mail from one of those running for statewide office, I think I should demand a lot more attention to detail. This is particularly true when one of this candidate’s staffers can be placed in the “loose lips sink ships” category. (Perhaps he wrote the e-mail without looking as well.)

While I’ve not worked for a political campaign, I understand what deadlines mean and there’s times I rush to get things completed, too. But I make time to proofread, and thirty extra seconds looking at this announcement would have saved a lot of embarrassment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a minute and proofread this before I get it out by my self-imposed midnight deadline. And I’ll have you know I changed three words and added these last three sentences to help get my point across. (Note to political campaigns: I work at a fair rate.)

With that, I can now rest.

A sobering look at economic development

November 27, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on A sobering look at economic development 

Yesterday that thorn buried deep in Martin O’Malley’s side known as Change Maryland put out an eight-page report lambasting the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development as a “politically-driven marketing agency (and) not a job-creating organization.” While the report was critical, it also outlined a number of ideas for improving the agency and returning its focus to economic development, not just to be another propaganda tool for Martin O’Malley.

Step one is getting the DBED to put out useful information and guidance for local economic development units. Change Maryland head Larry Hogan remarked that:

There is no reason that Democrats, Republicans and Independents can’t work together on the shared goals of increasing employment.  First we need to get on the same page and provide basic economic information in one place so we can see where we are going and how to get there.

While the Change Maryland study makes many key points, one mistake that they make – and perhaps it’s something which can be rectified in subsequent reports – is falling into the trap of assuming the DBED can be a one-size-fits-all repository for economic development. Whether formally or informally, local governments also have ideas about how they can best take advantage of their assets – thus, this particular facet of government is where the One Maryland O’Malley idea truly falls on its face. Industry drivers like natural scenic features and convenient modes of transport aren’t equally distributed across the state – the Port of Baltimore ain’t nothing to look at and Ocean City isn’t the easiest place to ship items from. Reverse these factors, though, and you find where the state can take advantage of particular job creators by listening to local input.

One point which may not be amplified enough in this study is buried on page 5:

The Maryland Made Easy website lists the results of regulatory reform under a “latest progress,” section which contains this entry from March 26: “Making It Easier to do Business in Maryland. Governor O’Malley submits more thatn (sic) 130 regulations to be revised, streamlined or repealed.” Unknown are which regulations were submitted, to whom they were submitted or their status.

Unfortunately, the report is marred by my not being able to find this specific link. However, I found this post with over 350 suggestions – some way too broad and certain to be ignored on a philosophical basis, but others rather helpful. Yet there is no follow-up to the governor’s Executive Order to streamline regulations in either case.

On the other hand, in studying what laws were passed by the General Assembly over the last several years I can ascertain that the 350 suggestions and 130 regulations were more than trumped by all the restrictions, taxes, fees, and mandates on businesses and local governments which were passed and signed into law. Any agency created to promote a state to employers would be playing at a huge disadvantage given the attitude of the current government of Maryland. As I’ve said on many occasions, the only reason we’re not an economic basket case like Nevada, California, or Rhode Island (all of which “boast” topline unemployment rates over 10 percent) is our proximity to the national seat of government.

Another great point made in the Change Maryland report is that, once again, Virginia skunked us in attracting new commercial occupancy:

The objective of the Office of Business Development is to develop and maintain a pipeline of businesses undertaking facility location decisions, i.e. where to locate warehouses, distribution hubs, corporate headquarters or office space.

In 2013 it is estimated that this office will be involved in 35 such location decisions. Of that, it is unknown how many of these facilities DBED ultimately plans to land in Maryland. On the other hand, Virginia’s comparable new and expanded facility announcements in 2011 was 273 according to Site Selection Magazine.

Alas, this is somewhat of an apples-to-oranges comparison but if Virginia had that many, Maryland (as a state somewhat smaller) still should have cracked triple figures. Surely it didn’t.

There’s little doubt that Maryland could bring a lot more to the table if it had leadership which was willing to work with the business community instead of using it as a piggy bank every chance it gets. While the report talked about economic development, it doesn’t speak to the economic atrophy caused by increased taxation – case in point: how many jobs have been lost thanks to Maryland increasing its alcohol tax to 9 percent and the resulting flat sales, compared to increases in other neighboring states? It may only be a few dozen jobs statewide, but those remain opportunities removed for someone trying to feed a family. “We’re not hiring” is a sad refrain throughout the state.

Economic development isn’t simple, but it’s not rocket science either. In particular, counties know what assets they have and what incentives they can afford to use in attracting and retaining jobs. But until the state gets its act together, we’ll continue to spin our wheels and while we may have success despite ourselves, the knowledge that we can do so much more will keep those who love our state and know how to fix the problem up at night.

Who can deliver a message?

November 26, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Who can deliver a message? 

Now that I’ve posed the question about whether a pro-liberty message can play in Maryland, the logical follow-up is who will be able to deliver it?

Of course, the most obvious answer is the Maryland Republican Party. Many activists question its ability to pack a political punch given their lack of success over the last hundred years, yet on the other hand there is no paucity of groups out there trying to wield influence within the party.

At the risk of creating a long and boring list, here are just some of the groups and individuals trying to become players within and surrounding the MDGOP:

  • Obviously, the current party leadership.
  • Elected officials who carry the GOP banner at the state level.
  • Various county Central Committees, some more than others.
  • The Maryland Young Republicans.
  • Hundreds of sub-groups which fall under the category of local Republican clubs, such as the Wicomico County Republican Club.
  • Americans for Prosperity – Maryland.
  • Campaign for Liberty and its various local branches.
  • Change Maryland.
  • Conservative Victory PAC.
  • Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland.
  • Help Save Maryland.
  • Maryland Center-Right Coalition.
  • Maryland Conservative Action Network.
  • Maryland Liberty PAC.
  • Maryland Right to Life.
  • Maryland Society of Patriots (plus its local chapters).
  • New Day Maryland.
  • Protect Marriage Maryland.

And that’s just a small sampling of groups I’m aware of. Some exert more toward their goals than others, and obviously some work exclusively on their pet issues. At times these groups manage to row in opposite directions, leaving a void the other side exploits.

It’s interesting that the port side has its coalitions which don’t always get along well – for example, the argument over the Keystone XL pipeline pitted Radical Green against Big Labor. In the end, though, both of those groups pretty much stayed with the leftist side even as Big Labor didn’t get what it wanted. (There were other areas in which they did, which makes a difference.) Yet they didn’t take their ball and go home when the chips were down, unlike, say, those who supported a certain Republican candidate in the primary.

Of course, conservatism can’t make the same guarantees liberals do because to the Left keeping a promise is as easy as slicing off a little piece of the government pie for those groups which clamor the loudest at the particular time. Even though the conservative aim is generally one of smaller, more limited government, there are some groups within the list I described above which would like more government in certain areas. These most generally are the advocates for social issues, such as abortion foes who want a Right to Life Amendment in the Constitution.

Those who push for social conservatism, though, are usually the targets of the circular firing squad for which Republicans are famous. “If it weren’t for those hayseed Bible-thumpers who want to end abortion we would win elections,” cry those in the Republican establishment; meanwhile, they forget that those voters provided a huge portion of the overall vote. That perception is amplified in the mainstream media which tarred and feathered Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock over comments they made about rape, as if this duo actually supported the raping of women. But it sure played well into the whole false “War on Women” narrative the other side got away with, didn’t it?

If we want to deliver the true narrative that enhanced freedom leads to greater personal and societal prosperity, we have to find messengers to do so. That leads to a conundrum because, remember, the Republican Party is chock full of disparate groups and many of them like the Bush 43 idea of “compassionate” big-government conservatism. But the record of third parties is less than abysmal and once the GOP became entrenched in the two-party system they, along with the Democrats, rewrote the rules in order to keep the spoils for themselves. Generally it’s that factor, not necessarily the lack of popularity of their respective platforms, which keeps groups like the Constitution, Libertarian, or even Green parties from ever getting more than a tiny percentage of the vote. Naturally it’s also the job of those in the major parties to state the case that a third-party vote is a wasted one. On that point I reluctantly have to agree.

While I have friends and relatives who are dyed-in-the-wool Libertarians, the political reality we face is that we exist in a two-party system. My goal in both joining the GOP as an activist member and (later) writing this website was, as I’ve said before, pushing this country in the RIGHT direction. I may not like every candidate we nominate, and there have been a few occasions where I felt I had to skip the office on the ballot or vote for someone like Ross Perot (which I did.) But the vast majority of the time I figure that advancing the ball, even a little, is better than losing more ground. Sometimes I’m disappointed because there’s not even the smallest smidgen of progress in the next term but generally I can comfort myself with knowing at least the trend isn’t going the other way. I may not have liked Bob Ehrlich or Mitt Romney much, but they were certainly better than Martin O’Malley or Barack Obama.

But that still doesn’t solve the problem of finding a good group of messengers to spread the gospel of how limited government benefits us all in Maryland – in that respect we have a whole lot of work to do. Hopefully in the next few months the conservative movement will get a chance to do some vetting of the leaders who will bring us success in future elections. I look forward to the challenge.

Is a conservative, pro-liberty message viable in Maryland?

The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.

In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.

  • President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
  • U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)

Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.

So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:

  • The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
  • Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.

You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)

So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.

While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)

Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.

Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.

Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.

Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.

But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.

Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.

Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.

In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.

Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!

Lollar’s second draft

November 24, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Lollar’s second draft 

Those of you who have been following Maryland politics for awhile may recall that in 2010, before Bob Ehrlich finally made up his mind whether to give it another go and even prior to the upstart Brian Murphy upsetting the state GOP apple cart, there was another likable, passionate young politician who was being drafted to run for governor.

Former Charles County Republican head Charles Lollar was tripped up by a residency issue, falling just short of the five-year timeline decreed by state law based on his voter registration date. But prior to that he had made the rounds, attracting notice on RedState and appearing at the summertime Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield. Lollar also gained fame when former GOP chair Jim Pelura asked him to head a “Maryland GOP Anti-Tax Plan Commission” in 2008.

But after Lollar withdrew from the governor’s race, he turned his sights on the difficult task of unseating entrenched Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer. He got 35% of the vote, but a few months later landed on his feet by being named head of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

It was on the “New Day Maryland” advocacy group’s website, though, that Lollar wrote he would make a decision soon:

As some of you may know by I now I have been asked to consider a run for governor in 2014. In fact, there has been a “Draft” campaign started along with a FACEBOOK site advertising such. May I say that this has humbled me to say the least and I am honored to have such friends and patriots that think so highly of me and my family.

In the upcoming months, I will be spending a tremendous amount of time considering this endeavor as I want to ensure this the right direction for me and my family. Additionally, I am meeting with business leaders throughout the state of Maryland discussing my solutions for the economic struggles of our great state to include our rising unemployment as I outlined in the “RedPrint” for Maryland that can be found on my site www.newdaymd.com.

I humbly ask each and every one of you to pray with me considering this all impressing matter. Whether you are within or without the borders of Maryland, I will need your support and prayers if in fact my family and I continue down this road. Please feel free to go on the “Draft Charles Lollar for Governor” Face Book and leave a message, I guarantee you it will encourage those who have authored this Draft as well as myself.

You all have my commitment that after considerable contemplation and prayer I will let you all know of my decision by the first of the New Year.

So what would a Lollar candidacy bring to the table?

Obviously, he’s a minority Republican, but any advantage from that with those voters would be negated if one leaked Garin-Hart-Yang internal Democratic poll from September is correct and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is the Democrats’ frontrunner. Furthermore, Michael Steele (among many others) proved that blacks vote for ideology before race. Yet Lollar has a compelling message which still needs to be put out in the hopes of changing hearts and minds in both that specific community and (more importantly) the state at large. Truly, prosperity and freedom aren’t (and shouldn’t be) limited by the color of one’s skin – those of us on our side take that to heart.

A second effect, though, is one of splitting the TEA Party vote a little further. Certainly the tough-talking fiscal conservative Blaine Young is a leading candidate among conservatives, but TEA Parties will have another choice if Lollar jumps in. Of course, the “establishment” Republicans also have a conundrum when they consider the choice of David Craig vs. Larry Hogan, both of whom are more known quantities in GOP circles. Hogan may also negate what advantage Lollar has in southern Maryland based on the fact his father represented the area in Congress for a few years back in the 1970s.

Lollar would also have to play catch-up in fundraising, but Lollar’s media-friendly approach could catch on nationally like Dan Bongino’s did. (Of course, if Rob Sobhani decides to run for governor all bets are off.)

Depending on the audience he seeks, though, Lollar may want to embrace (or have to live down) a statement he made in this BET profile on minority convention delegates. Of course, context is key and it’s doubtful the “not overly impressed with either party” part of the interview came without plenty of context, knowing Charles.

If I were a betting man, I’d place my money on Charles getting into the race – it’s not like he wasn’t interested before. The only thing which may hold him back would be lack of support from his family and I’m certainly not in the position to speculate on how they would feel about such a decision. From what Lollar says, we’ll know soon enough anyway.

Black Friday puts consumers in the red

November 23, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Wal-Mart · Comments Off on Black Friday puts consumers in the red 

Personally I don’t participate in the Black Friday madness, which this year continued a trend of working backwards into the Thursday of Thanksgiving. Some finished their dinner leftovers and hustled over to retailers like Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us which opened late Thursday evening to cater to those who didn’t want to get up at oh-dark-hundred to seize the best bargains. (I think KMart actually had some Thursday morning doorbusters as well.)

According to retail researchers, though, sales aren’t expected to increase as much as they did last year over the 2010 season nor will as many people participate in the Black Friday weekend shopping spree (although it may not necessarily mean those people wouldn’t have shopped Thursday night.) Still, I doubt America will anytime soon turn its back on the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.

I’ve often said that the idea of having “stuff” for its own sake isn’t all that appealing to me, so perhaps I’m not the best arbiter of what would be a successful holiday season. Obviously these large retailers are pinning their hopes for sizable profit for the year on the last 33 days before Christmas, and if the promise of some off-brand big-screen TV for an unheard of price is enough to bring people in to buy the additional more regularly-priced items for which retailers use the loss leaders as a draw, then I guess P.T. Barnum is still right.

On the other hand, there is also a growing movement that tells us we need to eschew the big box stores and shop local on Saturday. Obviously they’re not going to have the gadgets and gizmos the behemoths of the business world can acquire at some low price from a Chinese distributor, but they have more unique wares that could fulfill the wishes of some of those hard-to-shop-for people on the list. There has to be a balance somewhere.

We are in a day and age where everyone is in debt, from the federal government to those whose equity in their homes is long gone thanks to the crashing real estate market. Considering that much of what is being bought this weekend will be all but functionally obsolete in the next few years, perhaps this is a good time to step back and reevaluate what Christmas is all about. If it’s about giving, maybe consider what you give and where you get it from.

Trust me, I am all about capitalism, efficiency in markets, and all that jazz. But over the years I’ve watched the commercialism of the season become more crass and those who partake in the buying frenzy act with less class. It kind of puts people out of the Christmas spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

November 22, 2012 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving 2012 

If this looks similar to what I wrote last year, you’re right! But why mess with good sentiment, I always say.

As always I’d like to take a little time on this holiday which values family and the things we hold dear to wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

In my case it will be spent with both friends and family, although technically I haven’t married into my significant other’s family. I don’t suspect that will be the case for all that many more years, and it will give me something more to be thankful for when the day arrives.

For those who travel, it looks like the weather in these parts will be conducive for doing so. I have about two hours of driving between the two stops I’m scheduled for, but luckily these are both pretty much off the beaten path so traffic shouldn’t be an issue.

So I hope all of you who take the time – whether daily, weekly, or even a first-timer – to read my site have a great holiday. Even though times have been somewhat rough over the last several years, I’m thankful for what I have and look forward to spending time with people I hold dear (while watching my Lions beat up on those Texans, making them wish they’d seceded from the NFL.)

After today, we’ll be into the hustle and bustle of trying to find the right Christmas gift and making New Year’s plans, so it’ll be six weeks of overdrive for our schedule and overindulgence for our bodies. So take the time today and relax. Work will be back before you know it – heck, I have to work Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Liberty caucus (and others) set to party

November 21, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Liberty caucus (and others) set to party 

I think I alluded to this last week but the gathering of the Maryland Liberty Caucus should make for an interesting party next week at Turf Valley.

One would also have to assume that a number of others who are considering statewide campaigns – at least at the top of the ticket – would also be having hospitality suites as well. Obviously Larry Hogan is no stranger to having events at the convention, nor is David Craig. And with Blaine Young making his presence known both in Crisfield and in Ocean City it’s not going to be a shock to see him around, either.

Yet the interesting thing will be to see how many outside groups will be trying to win influence in the Maryland GOP. Obviously the Liberty Caucus is working from the conservative right, so what will the establishment do to counter?

Consider that Howard County is the home base of National Committeeman Louis Pope, who is credited with whipping the votes necessary to pass new rules in the GOP which would help the establishment choice in future campaigns. (These were written under the assumption that Mitt Romney would be the incumbent President, but could be used in supporting yet another so-called “mainstream” candidate.) It would be my guess that he will have a large presence in his home county.

Or folks could attend a Friday evening workshop on precinct organization and targeted voter contacts, which will run before the “official” opening of the hospitality suites at 8 p.m.

I’ve also found out that those who don’t have to sleep one off will have Congressman Andy Harris as the breakfast speaker. Not sure who the lunch speaker(s) will be, but supposedly “they should be very good!” I guess I’ll have to wait to see who “they” are but I always get lunch anyway.

Regardless, it will be good to get together and commiserate with some like-minded people for a change. As far as I know, there are no burning issues on the agenda since Alex Mooney hasn’t resigned yet. There may be a little bit of a row at the convention itself regarding a no-confidence vote in party leadership but there’s not enough upset people for that to go anywhere at this late date.

If things are to change for 2014, it may end up being best to work outside the normal channels until the movement is large enough to overwhelm.

A question of nullification

Recently secession has been all the rage in the news, as all 50 states have at least began the process of petitioning on the White House website to have them address the matter. Texas is leading the way with over 100,000 signatures.

But perhaps a more realistic (and less bloody, given the last secession led to a war between the states) alternative is the concept of nullification, where states refuse to follow laws they consider unconstitutional. The principle is an extension of the Tenth Amendment, which grants “(t)he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Obviously this idea is most popularized by the lack of willingness of some states to comport with Obamacare, but the question can be asked: do counties as part of states have those same nullification rights? Thanks to a strong TEA Party and pro-liberty movement, Cecil County is the Texas of Maryland, and one group is calling on the county to toss down the gauntlet on the so-called “septic bill” SB236.

The county’s Campaign for Liberty group puts it thus, as part of an “open letter” to the Cecil County Commissioners:

As we fight in Maryland to oppose S.B. 236 and O’Malley’s Plan Maryland we can learn a lesson from the fight over Obamacare.

Much like Obamacare, S.B. 236 was a radical leftist law that was rammed through the legislature.

After Obamacare passage, many conservatives felt like the battle was over, however, a number of states are now blocking implementation and using nullification to stop Obamacare in its tracks.

Our counties in Maryland need to take a page out of the states’ playbook by blocking implementation of S.B. 236.

S.B. 236 is an equivalent to Obamacare in Maryland.  If S.B. 236 is allowed to stay on the books it will go down as the greatest taking of private property rights in Maryland history.

Cecil County Campaign for Liberty is urging you vote against submitting Tier Map 10 (or any other Tier Map for that matter) to the State of Maryland as required by S.B. 236.

County Commissioner Robert Hodge spoke at a recent Cecil County C4L meeting and asked us to support the submission of Tier Map 10.

He explained that Map 10 included no private property in the most restrictive Tier 4 designation.

While we applaud every effort to protect private property rights, after careful consideration, we believe that objective is best served by non-compliance.

Meanwhile, the concept of selling development rights is also being challenged by a Howard County farmer who wants out of his contract as well.

For many years, since the nation’s founding as a matter of fact, the concept of taxation of private property had been the main flaw in the age-old doctrine that a man’s home is his castle – after all, your property isn’t truly yours when you pay an annual rent to the government in the form of a property tax. On the flip side, zoning codes came into being and more and more restrictions were placed on what could be done with one’s property. Most of these were modest changes which made some logical sense, but in the last couple decades we’ve seen more of a naked power grab by government at all levels. The transferable development rights under debate in Howard County were one thing, but the idea that a government edict can render your property all but worthless by curtailing its development simply because no wastewater system is nearby smacks of overly dictatorial control. But that’s the aim behind Senate Bill 236: if you’re in a Tier 4 area, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to develop your land as you see fit.

Maryland has always been a trendsetter in the area of “preserving” land through several approaches: buying development rights, placing restrictive land-use policies in ever-expanding coastal areas via stormwater regulations, or simply purchasing land outright through Program Open Space. Obviously that’s a last resort because the state won’t pay property taxes on land it owns, but they collect tax revenue on most privately-owned land whether it can be developed or not.

To hear them tell it, the key reason Maryland is so restrictive is the fact Chesapeake Bay divides the state, and I’ve joked before that if you wrote a bill to legalize murder but named it the “Chesapeake Bay Murder Legalization Act of 2012” you just might get it to pass. In all states, “it’s for the children” works as a political slogan but you can add “it’s for the Bay” as a Maryland alternative. Put the wrong people in charge of government and this sloganeering bastardizing the name of a perfectly fine estuary becomes an almost inexorable power grab.

Rural development is the scapegoat for the water quality trouble in Chesapeake Bay, with the septic system considered to be public enemy number one to the Annapolis environmentalists. (Because we all know those urban sewage treatment plants always work perfectly and never, ever leak.) That’s why SB236 passed with almost unanimous support from urban areas and opposition from the parts of Maryland far away from the I-95 corridor.

Yet the environmentalists who continually blame farmers and those who wish to live far away from the city for the Bay’s filthiness seem to forget that Chesapeake Bay’s water doesn’t just magically appear in Maryland. There is a river which feeds the bay, and it’s worth noting that our allies in the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition aren’t forgetting that fact. A six-page letter from the legal firm Funk & Bolton outlines some of the study behind these assertions, contending that spending billions of dollars local governments don’t have to address only a small portion of the problem is a fool’s errand at best.

So what happens if Cecil County doesn’t send in a map for approval? The law as written basically tells them they can’t approve anything beyond a “minor” subdivision unless it is on a public sewer system. Of course, subdividing the county into tiers would place large areas off limits anyhow so in all honesty there’s not a big difference either way.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely we’ll see this law repealed anytime soon and no court in Maryland has the balls to tell Martin O’Malley and his environmentalist wacko allies to go pound sand. The only way that might happen is for an aggrieved party, such as a farmer stuck in a Tier 4 area who wants to develop his land, to take the state to court. But that farmer would need some deep pockets to fight the state and if he can’t do as he wishes with his property it’s not likely the financial wherewithal is there to fight.

As Maryland counties go, Cecil County is perhaps the closest match to Wicomico County. Yet it strikes me as odd that they have a TEA Party movement which is much farther along than ours, even though our County Council is a supermajority Republican one like theirs is. The key difference is that they just elected a Republican county executive, who will begin her new job next year. We’ll see how that affects our friends up the Shore, but I suspect they’ll be better positioned to take advantage if our state swings to the GOP in two years.

No stopping the education

November 19, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on No stopping the education 

I noted yesterday that Dan Bongino was being mentioned as a possible 2014 candidate, but what I didn’t know at the time was that he was going to pen a piece at RedState showing off his economic chops. Yeah, Ben Cardin could write that – perhaps in his dreams and with about seventeen staffers helping him out, maybe.

Of course, what Dan writes makes good economic sense, which is probably why he lost the election in a state which doesn’t seem to reward cogent thought, instead favoring raw emotion. (Why else would Maryland voters believe that in-state tuition for illegal aliens and gay marriage are good things? They were equated with “rights” being extended to those who would otherwise be “victims” in our society.) Oddly enough, Dan occasionally mentioned his “Cheerios for dinner” upbringing but the fact that he brought himself up by his bootstraps and worked hard to attain his station in life didn’t have the same emotional appeal.

Yet Dan gives away the game early on:

It is disturbing to watch a growing number of politicians, who fully understand the consequences of detrimental tax policy, begin to cower to those who perpetually yearn for more of your money.

Isn’t that the Democratic ideal? The more who “perpetually yearn for more of your money” the easier it is for them to win elections. One could easily make the assumption that Mitt Romney truly knew what he was talking about when he said 47% would probably not vote for him. He was just off by a little over 3 percent and lost to the candidate considered the “food stamp President” because more Americans than ever are using them.

Obviously Maryland isn’t quite the basket case some other states are because they happen to be closest to the seat of the federal government – although inner-city Baltimore has plenty of desperately poor people who are certainly also reliable Democratic votes. But with that dependence of another sort on government revenue, it’s not easy to use conservative logic in the state. Here we have to whack them upside the head with a proverbial 2×4 in order to get the message across, and still too many are, as Dan puts it, “immune to logic.”

This point has been brought up a lot, but we can be the best teachers and local leaders. They may not have heard of RedState or even Dan Bongino – I saw his campaign volunteer on Election Day have to patiently explain who he was to a number of people, even after Dan had campaigned for 18 months. But they (hopefully) know us, and we have about two years to state the conservative case ourselves. Dan did a nice job of helping us with one part of the education.

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