Odds and ends number 63

Maybe sometime I’ll do one of these without the obligatory reference to Dan Bongino (who, even in this post-election hangover is being promoted as a 2014 candidate for governor) but for now I’m content to continue trading on a popular name among conservatives in the state. Call this edition of my occasional digest of quick little takes on news items a version of Murphy’s law – not the familiar old adage, but applicable if you recall that 2010 gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy was one of Dan’s initial backers. Maybe those of us who supported Murphy realized the guy knew what he was talking about?

Anyway, there was an item I wanted to quote stemming from the immediate reaction to the Great Wipeout of 2012, and it came from Delegate Justin Ready:

In particular, whether we won or lost, I have come to believe that our party and the conservative movement must make some adjustments in the way we communicate with certain voters – particularly those who do not follow the political give-and-take year-round. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh each have around 20 million listeners, but there are more than twice that number of voters that don’t get their information from talk radio.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that voters did not know or care about some of the things we all cared about.

Let me be clear – we should absolutely not retreat from our principles of limited government, lower taxes, and respect for life.  But we do need to find a better way to present those values in a way that cuts through the soundbite wars and the demonizing we see from the national media.  Even FOX News is not much of an ally in getting a clear, coherent message across. It’s something that every Republican elected official and activist must take seriously. (All emphasis in original.)

Well, that’s the goal I’ve had for going on seven years. I’d love to have 20 million readers for my website, too. (Selling a million copies of my book would be a definite plus as well.)

Yet there’s an underlying theme to election coverage which otherwise has the depth of a cookie sheet: the horserace aspect of polling. Certainly I like to use polling as an occasional newsmaker, but we have made the names Rasmussen, Gallup, and Zogby almost as famous as Obama and Romney. But how many people could have stated where (or if) Romney stood for “limited government, lower taxes, and respect for life?” Perhaps aside from the Hannity/Limbaugh axis, most people saw Romney as the one taking away their government check, slashing taxes on just the wealthy, and perpetuating the so-called “war on women.” It was a perception popularized by the dominant media and not countered enough in a world where neighbors don’t talk to neighbors anymore.

We’ll soon see what’s said in the state party echo chamber at the end of this month. But I’m curious to know if the cake will have the correct number, since Change Maryland has grown to 25,000 members. You may recall back in April they celebrated 12,000 with the infamous cake, so this time at Turf Valley they have twice as much to party about.

In the release celebrating the milestone, Change Maryland notes:

The only way to bring about real change in Maryland is to build a coalition of Republicans, Independents, and fiscally conservative and moderate Democrats. That is exactly what Change Maryland has been doing so effectively. It unites people of all parties to work together to bring reform, fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis.

The group now has more than twice as many Facebook followers than the Maryland Democratic and Republican parties combined and more than all the potential statewide candidates added together.

I haven’t asked Larry Hogan this question, but since I know many among his group are fans it’s worth pondering why Change Maryland didn’t take a leadership role in the state’s Congressional races? While the results don’t initially appear to be all that close, would their involvement have moved the needle even a little bit?

In 2010, a simple averaging of the eight Congressional candidates’ share of the vote gives a figure of 35.46%. This time around, we declined to 33.35%. Granted, thanks to redistricting and the turnout of a presidential election vs. a gubernatorial election this is something of an apples vs. oranges comparison but the trend is in the wrong direction. It’s worth noting that the GOP share went up in four districts: the First, where the largest percentage of the state’s Republicans were packed, the Fourth and Seventh, which are majority-minority districts in which Democrats could afford to dilute their vote somewhat, and the Eighth, which along with the First gained a lot of former Sixth District voters which were drawn out of that formerly Republican district. Yet there still wasn’t enough there to unseat the Democratic incumbent.

If Change Maryland is the home of this grand coalition, one would think taking a little more of a leadership role would start tipping some of these districts. Obviously we’ll have the same issue in 2014, with the added complication of a gerrymandered state map as well.

Yet while the conservative cause is licking its wounds, there is a parting on the left as well. Maryland Juice blogger David Moon sent out an e-mail on behalf of the Demand Progress group demanding President Obama not replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department with former Congressman Howard Berman. Why?

…Internet freedom activist group Demand Progress is rallying its members to oppose Berman’s potential appointment: Berman was a leading supporter and architect of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act — which was decried and defeated because of its Internet censorship implications — and would have great influence over global Internet policy if named Secretary of State.


According to Demand Progress executive director David Segal, “It’s outrageous that Berman’s name is even being floated for Secretary of State, where he’d play a key role in developing global Internet policy.  He’s made a career of shilling for Hollywood, and Hollywood’s been leading the charge for Internet censorship here at home and abroad — backing SOPA, compelling the government to block access to scores of sites, and even having website owners extradited for posting links to Hollywood movies.  It’s clear that other Internet freedom groups and tens of thousands of Internet users would mobilize to oppose his appointment.”

Of course, this group is looking at the problem as one of not being able to see the latest Hollywood movie for free – ironic when Hollywood supplied millions for the Obama campaign – but my perspective is one of maintaining Internet freedom and access for all usages and viewpoints, even ones which aren’t politically correct. However, Demand Progress stops with the civil libertarian side of the equation and doesn’t stop to consider the equally chilling effect internet taxation would have on the World Wide Web. We all know it’s a cash cow that progressives just haven’t quite figured out how to milk for their purposes yet – but that’s not going to stop them from trying.

Speaking of cash cows, now that Obama’s re-elected we’re going to hear more and more about the adoption of a carbon tax. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing under the Freedom of Information Act to have over 7,000 e-mails released regarding behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to make a carbon tax palatable to conservative opposition.

While there’s some aspect of a fishing expedition here, the time it would take to search the e-mail database for the word “carbon” and place the files on disk is rather negligible. But the impact of knowing how the current and future regime is attempting to place their thumb on the scale is significant. The only carbon tax I would support is when the FairTax is paid as part of a purchase of carbon or carbon-based products, and only after the income tax is repealed.

The group also put out a five-minute treatise on economics:

The short film is based on a 1958 essay by Leonard Reed and outlines the complexities of creating a simple product. Imagine this process multiplied to create complex machinery like your car or this laptop I write on, replicated countless times a day. Certainly not all of us manufacture things, but a pencil is also a metaphor for and tool of creativity. Now I create on a laptop, but all that represents is a pencil and eraser in a more technologically advanced form. Imagine if this process came to a halt – would we stop advancing as a global society as well? Just like our certain extinction if the sun ever ceased shining, I suspect our progress would terminate as well.

I think I’ve created enough to bring this treatise to an end, so I’m going to focus my talents on another job and place a wrap on this one. Hope you enjoyed reading.

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