The wrong direction

June 30, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics, Radical Green · Comments Off on The wrong direction 

If it’s not bad enough that Maryland drivers will be suffering from the first of what now promises to be annual hikes in the state’s gasoline tax, due to a combination of adding gasoline to the palette of items subject to the state’s sales tax and eventual indexing of the existing gasoline tax to inflation, a pending federal bill may allow the addition of natural gas-based ethanol as an allowed blending agent, joining the corn-based ethanol that’s currently allowed to comprise up to 10% of most available gasoline.

H.R. 1959, the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013, was introduced as an effort to provide other options for attaining the renewable fuel standard already codified into law. But a coalition of groups, led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, recently wrote a letter to Congress urging the bill be defeated, citing the idea that renewable fuel standards should be scrapped, not enhanced:

The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose H.R. 1959, the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013. The bill would allow ethanol derived from natural gas to count toward the mandatory blending targets established by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the EPA’s implementing regulations.

We commend Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) and his co-sponsors for seeking to break the corn lobby’s legal monopoly on a significant and growing share of the U.S. motor fuel market. However, the solution is not to make the RFS more inclusive, so that more special interests profit at consumer expense, but to dismantle the program.

The other eleven groups signing with CEI represent a broad spectrum of conservative and free market entities: 60 Plus, American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, American Energy Alliance, Club for Growth, Commonwealth Foundation, Freedom Action, FreedomWorks, Frontiers of Freedom, Let Freedom Ring, and the National Taxpayers Union.

On balance, the groups are correct in wishing the ethanol mandate be eliminated. Even with the abundant supplies of natural gas which weren’t in play just a few short years ago when the original RFS was cast in place, there is no need to supplement the fuel we use in our vehicles; in fact, eliminating the mandate would probably make those who own watercraft or items with small gasoline engines ecstatic since they’ll no longer have to search for ethanol-free fuel to maintain their equipment.

The EPA’s push toward allowing E15 fuel stems from the increasing amount of ethanol required to satisfy these artificially-induced mandates for usage running into a “blend wall” where it becomes physically impossible to limit the amount of ethanol in a gallon of fuel to just 10 percent and comply with the law. Writers of the RFS miscalculated the future demand for fuel, which is increasing more slowly than predicted due to a number of factors: more fuel-efficient cars and a sputtering economy most prominent among them.

Interestingly enough, Rep. Olson is also in favor of eliminating the mandates, but he obviously feels that’s politically impossible at this time:

The RFS’ singular focus on corn ethanol translates into higher food costs for working families, as well as higher feed costs for livestock producers. To be clear, my primary goal will always be the full repeal of the market distorting RFS. However, until then, we can take care of immediate problems by providing greater participation and competition under the program. Expanding the sources for ethanol will only benefit all Americans. I’m pleased this measure enjoys bipartisan and widespread support.

But this bill promises to align two key constituencies which aren’t always in the same room. It’s a point made by CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis:

Enacting this bill would align the natural gas lobby with the corn lobby. Their common interest would be to increase the overall RFS blending target beyond 36 billion gallons, mandate the sale of E20 or even higher ethanol blends, and relax environmental criteria so that corn- and gas-based ethanol can fill the void created by non-existent advanced biofuels.

All this would do is create yet another group of hogs lining up at the federal cronyism trough, trying to grow their business at the expense of competition despite having an inferior product. You may not remember the gasoline price shock of 2008, but one outgrowth of it that I noted at the time was a video campaign dubbed Nozzlerage and the formation of a group called Citizens for Energy Freedom, a subgroup of another entity called the Center for Security Policy (CSP). Their solution was to give ethanol a permanent market by mandating cars sold in the United States be flexfuel vehicles. As I said back then:

Regardless of how little it supposedly costs to convert cars to flexfuel, the truth is that the option has been available for some time and the market has proven it to be a slow seller. Thus, the soon-to-be-created CSP subgroup (Citizens for Energy Freedom – ed.) is looking to lobby for the bill’s passage and force automakers into another mandate, just like CAFE standards, air bags, catalytic converters, and many other features that were foisted upon automakers by big government. Certainly the idea has some merit but by placing the initial meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, it’s a safe bet that ethanol created from corn will take center stage and we’ve already seen the impact ethanol mandates and subsidies have had on our food prices.

Taking food out of our mouths and dumping it into our gas tanks has always been a bad idea, particularly when there is a cost-effective and inedible solution already in place. CEI and its allies make a sound point, but it will be up to someone in Congress to introduce the bill to eliminate RFS mandates. Of course, we need a President who would sign such a common sense bill and right now common sense is in short supply around the Oval Office and probably will be until at least January, 2017.

If you can’t beat ’em…

June 29, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on If you can’t beat ’em… 

On Tuesday I received an e-mail which I found had no shortage of irony, something which made an otherwise boilerplate press release worth the post.

It was a release about how Maryland horsemen are reaping the benefits from Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County – purses are up and preferences are given to Maryland-bred horses, including enhanced purses when seven or more such horses compete in a race with at least eight participants. To be honest I don’t follow horse racing so that meant nothing to me.

Instead, the money quote (literally) was this otherwise throwaway line:

Rosecroft’s owner has submitted a proposal for the Prince George’s gaming license. The proposal includes a $700 million total investment that includes a hotel and first class integrated gaming and racing facility. Maryland’s Video Lottery Facility Location Commission is expected to make a decision on the award of the license sometime in late 2013.

Surely you should remember that Penn National Gaming, the entity which owns Rosemont, was just scant months ago throwing everything but the kitchen sink into an effort to defeat Question 7, the ballot initiative allowing the Prince George’s facility to be constructed. Their worry was a facility there would cut into the profits from a casino they operate in Charles Town, West Virginia. Amazing how principles go out the window when money is at stake.

It’s obvious I’m still on Penn National’s mailing list from the time when Question 7 was on the ballot, particularly since I was also against the ballot question but for different reasons. (I still contend Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution should be stricken so the General Assembly can change these parameters without the need for a popular vote.) If it weren’t for the sheer hypocrisy of Penn National possibly getting the facility they were dead-set against I would have just deleted the release.

I really have nothing against gambling; although I’ve never set foot in a Maryland casino I have enjoyed casino wagering in Delaware, Michigan, Ontario, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas. My contention is strictly one of the Maryland General Assembly not doing its job.

But it seems very fishy to me that an entity can turn on a dime like that – it would almost be like the case where the Susan G. Komen Foundation reversed course regarding donations to Planned Parenthood twice in a short span of time. There won’t be that kind of backlash in this case, but we now see where the priorities for Penn National Gaming lie. It’s all about the Benjamins, isn’t it?

Two Marylanders discuss state economy

Two critics had differing takes on the state economy this week. One of them is running for governor while the other continues to expand its grassroots effort as some question whether its leader will throw his hat into that ring.

The latter critic, Larry Hogan of Change Maryland, noted with disbelief that Maryland lost 5,700 jobs in May:

Every month in Maryland is like Groundhog’s Day – over and over again we hear this administration talk about jobs, yet more times than not, Maryland families wake up to learn once again our state has lost jobs. Career politicians think that if they say something enough times, it will eventually become true. And while the O’Malley / Brown administration likes to talk about jobs, the cold harsh reality is that 5,700 hard working Marylanders lost their job last month.

The time for results is long overdue and the O’Malley / Brown administration has no more excuses left. They have been at the helm of our state’s economy for seven years, there is no one else to blame for these job losses. The need for real change in Maryland has never been more clear.

While O’Malley / Brown claimed 4,600 jobs were created in Maryland during May in the aftermath of the “Bush Recession” – never mind the six years of prosperity which occurred before O’Malley’s party became Congressional obstructionists – Change Maryland actually links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data which shows the number of unemployed rose from 205,100 to 210,800 in May, a number which increased unemployment by 0.2 percent.

Perhaps that’s why Change Maryland has become a social media juggernaut, eclipsing by far the social media presence of Maryland’s current statewide candidates and their affiliated parties.

Meanwhile, announced gubernatorial hopeful Ron George blasted O’Malley / Brown for Maryland’s poor grade in a national report on manufacturing climate, a grade which has remained subpar throughout O’Malley’s tenure. Said Delegate George:

This is why manufacturing jobs are a big part of (my) “Economic Development And Maryland Jobs Plan”. I see Baltimore and small towns on the Eastern Shore, Western and Southern Maryland hurting because the democratic leadership does not understand how to create jobs and true economic growth. I will bring manufacturing jobs back to Maryland.

While his general outline is fairly sketchy, I believe we should strive to create more manufacturing jobs. Yet there is one aspect of a business climate generally overlooked.

On Monday travelers will be forced to shoulder a greater burden of the cost of transportation as increased tolls on Maryland bridges (including the Bay Bridge) and highways take effect on the very same day the gasoline tax is increased. Ostensibly these increases are to fund maintenance on what we already have as well as supposedly provide the seed money to build new commuter rail lines in Baltimore and in the Washington suburbs. Perhaps that would be fantastic for the 1 out of 12 Maryland workers which actually use mass transit and may jump that number all the way to 1 in 10 or maybe the stratospheric heights of 1 in 9. But that leaves the rest of us.

Building commuter rail probably won’t clear enough cars off the highways to appreciably improve the ability for trucks to traverse Maryland’s roadways. Aside from State Senator E.J. Pipkin – who has several times introduced legislation to this effect – no one is seriously thinking about the real infrastructure improvement of a midpoint crossing of Chesapeake Bay, one which would make Eastern Shore goods more accessible to Virginia and points west and encourage tourism from an area now mired with the prospect of hours of travel for going a comparatively short distance as the crow flies.

Nor are they considering upgrading the U.S. 13 corridor through Delmarva to provide an alternate north-south route from Wilmington and points north to Norfolk and regions south. Another options benefiting the state would be to finish the abandoned I-97 route to Richmond. Either of these would require regional cooperation, but neither seem to be a priority for a governor who would rather move a few people between menial jobs than move lots of goods and tourists around the region in a timely manner.

We have the willing and reasonably skilled labor force ready to work. Now we need a government which thinks long-term about real possibilities, not pie-in-the-sky schemes and imaginary boogeymen like global warming.

Troopathon 6 broadcast

June 27, 2013 · Posted in Live Blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Troopathon 6 broadcast 


Video streaming by Ustream

Hopefully this works: it’s seat of the pants blogging at its finest since I had to modify the embed code to suit.

Update: At the end of their live broadcast (11 p.m. Eastern time) they had raised $321,041. It’s short of their $400,000 goal but there is probably some counting to do as well. As I recall, though, they are in better shape than they were last year as far as reaching their goal.

Shorebird of the Week – June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – June 27, 2013 

It’s quite likely that having a connection within the Orioles’ organization helped get him drafted, as his father is Buck Showalter’s right-hand man with Baltimore as their bench coach. But it’s still up to Steel Russell to play well enough to keep his job and this year seems to be an indication he may be able to advance.

Brought up off the Aberdeen preseason roster for catching depth in May, Russell has split time with Chase Weems over the last few games after regular catcher Wynston Sawyer came up injured. But the spot duty seemed to agree with Russell as he started the season 17-for-49 at the plate. So while Steel has been scuffling a little of late, he still tops Shorebird receivers with a .269 average based on 18-for-67 in 20 games.

Steel, who was drafted in the 32nd round by the Orioles last year out of Midland Junior College in Texas, is a 22-year-old Pennsylvania native who obviously has been around baseball all his life. His father John is now a coach with the Orioles but played for a decade with the Phillies, Braves, and Rangers as well as managing the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons (2008-10.) So the bloodline is there.

But it was a little bit of a surprise to see Russell get a season-finale cup of coffee for the Shorebirds last year (going 1-for-3 at West Virginia) based on a poor batting line in the Gulf Coast League: .180/0/11/.447 OPS with that low-minor team. But he did and has settled into his 2013 role well enough to get the majority of the starts (granted, it’s 4 vs. 3) since the All-Star break.

If Russell can break out of his recent 1-for-18 skid and stabilize his average about where it is, there’s always the possibility he won’t be known more as the coach’s son than as a player in his own right. The Orioles drafted a lot of catching depth this time around because it was perceived they were shallow at the position, so continuing to work hard could be Russell’s ticket to future success.

Troopathon 6 is today!

June 27, 2013 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Troopathon 6 is today! 

Update: I have an embed code so I’m going to try and see how it works. Look for it at 4:00 after a special matinee Shorebird of the Week announcement at 10:30 this morning.

I’ll be away for a good part of the day with my outside job, but I’ll be anxious to get back and see how this 8-hour internet broadcast goes.

In its sixth year, the Troopathon combines guests from the worlds of Hollywood and politics to try and entertain and inform those watching, meanwhile raising money which goes to creating care packages for our troops in harm’s way overseas. This year’s guest roster includes such familiar names as Gary Sinise, Gene Simmons, Vice-President Dick Cheney (as well as his daughter Liz), Texas Governor Rick Perry and his state’s junior Senator Ted Cruz, former Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West, Ambassador John Bolton, and radio talkers Mark Levin, Herman Cain, Dennis Miller, and Dana Loesch, just to name a few.

They will also be giving away an AR-15 rifle (see their site for details) and attempt to raise as much as they can for this purpose. Last year they set an original goal of $250,000 but exceeded it and ended up around $400,000 when all was said and done.

Now there are several ways you can donate but perhaps the easiest is to just click on the “Please Donate” yellow button on my site under the Troopathon banner. Not only do you help the overall cause, you also help our team, the Hot Air Steamers. As I write this we are leading the race for most contributions, but the three-time defending champion Greyhawks are making a fast and furious charge. I’d like to finish first this year.

Troopathon 6 begins at 4 p.m. here in the Eastern Time Zone (1:00 where broadcast, from the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.) If possible I will try and live stream it here (since I had issues with it last year) but you can always go to the Troopathon site to watch it.

WCRC meeting – June 2013

We hadn’t met in two months, but probably received enough information to make up for the difference in Monday night’s meeting.

After the usual preliminaries, we stopped for a special presentation. Two deserving students outshined a solid pool of applicants and were honored with the Wicomico County Republican Club scholarship. Both Joseph Pitsenbarger and Emma Miller hail from Parkside High School.

Once we presented the scholarships, the meeting was opened up to featured speaker Dr. Mark Edney. The local urologist and member of the American Urological Association’s Health Policy Council and Legislative Affairs Committee knows his stuff about Obamacare, and his nearly hour-long presentation was jammed full of facts to back up his thought that “Obamacare is a liberal-made disaster.”

His activism on the subject started with an op-ed on the Ryan/Romney plan prior to the 2012 election. But as more people questioned that plan with the talking points of Obamacare, Edney looked a little deeper to find, as one example, that half of all health care dollars are spent by the federal government, and spending on health care comprises 24 percent of the federal budget as well as 25 percent of Maryland’s state budget.

But that’s not really why we have the most expensive health care in the world, Edney continued. Much of that expense comes because we have the most technologically advanced system. Still, about 85 percent of Americans are covered under the existing system and the Democrats “have upset the apple cart” for them, said Mark.

Yet what Obamacare tries to do is make sure that all Americans have health insurance; meanwhile, it also creates a subsidy that affects even those in the middle class, up to 4 times the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, the CBO figures that Obamacare will only address about half – 25 million – of the 49 million uninsured in the country, down from 33 million estimated just two years ago. And the real challenge, said Edney, will be getting 2.7 million 18-to-35 year olds, predominantly male, to willingly pay a lot more for insurance to subsidize the aging population which uses most of the services rather than pay a tax penalty which is a fraction of the cost. The Affordable Care Act, Edney predicted, will be “the slow death of private insurance as we know it.”

Another problem on the horizon, added Mark, will be a shortage of suppliers. While the state is trying to expand the role of nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and pharmacists into those roles normally reserved for doctors, they’re not a substitute.

Instead of Obamacare, which diagnoses the problem correctly but fails to cure it, the better solution lies in free market reforms to the system, in particular introducing the aspect of competition. Edney pointed to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug programs as “excellent examples of competition.” He also suggested raising the Medicare age to 67, noting that most of those who would fall into that 65-67 age bracket continue to work anyway or would be eligible for Medicaid based on income.

Edney also discussed how this could affect us on a local level. While consolidation of providers has occurred up the Eastern Shore with the merger of Chester River Health and Shore Health, at this time our area still has cutthroat competition between several players: the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Atlantic General in Berlin, McCready Memorial Hospital in Crisfield, and perhaps even Nanticoke Health Services in Sussex County, Delaware may need to combine their efforts or be swallowed up by even larger entities. He predicted some movement on this front within five to seven years.

After that extremely informative presentation, of which I barely scratched the surface, we still had to go through our business.

In her President’s Report, Jackie Wellfonder mentioned a number of upcoming events, noting the 2014 primary was exactly one year away. But on a closer timeframe, the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake will be July 17, the Pathfinders event in Worcester County will be July 20, and the rescheduled Agenda 21 meeting with the Republican Women of Wicomico will now be August 1.

She stole the thunder from Dave Parker’s Central Committee report, as he mentioned many of the same events in passing – adding that we will have our usual joint Tawes presence with Worcester and Somerset counties – but Parker came up with the quote of the night regarding this administration: “Everything Obama touches turns to mush…if it ain’t broke, don’t Barack it,”

Joe Ollinger has steadily been working on the upcoming WCRC Crab Feast September 7, assembling a small roster of volunteers and getting the tickets printed and available. They will be $1 more than last year, but $26 for all-you-care-to-eat crabs is still a good deal.

That seemed to be the extent of what people wanted to discuss insofar as business was concerned. But July’s meeting may be more productive in that regard. Meanwhile, it appears that our August meeting may feature another candidate for governor as Charles Lollar is penciled in as our speaker that night, so July may be a sweet spot for finalizing some loose ends before we start going wall-to-wall with campaigning candidates.

The life of a blogger

June 24, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Mainstream media · 1 Comment 

This came in my e-mail the other day and I found it both amusing and enlightening.

Hi Michael,

My name is (redacted) and I am a marketing associate at (a marketing firm). Congrats on being named one of The Fix’s top state political blogs!

We are offering our smart polling widget for your website that comes with free basic analytics. Every week we will send you a report of topline and summary data to create more detailed audience profiles and build a stronger online community.

I was wondering if you had time to talk next Tuesday? I would love to run through our product and how it would be tailored for you.

Thanks,

(redacted)

(Emphasis mine.)

As a matter of fact, I really don’t have time to talk next Tuesday because I’m hustling to make a living. Blogging is great practice for my second career but I have to pursue career number three because it actually pays me. (Career number one went by the wayside thanks to the demise of the local building industry.)

And you can tell I don’t pay attention to the Washington Post, because I had no idea I was on that list. But I am since I was placed on their “extended edition” in March – thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s an honor! My erstwhile associates at Red Maryland have bragged on this for a couple years, so now I can too.

Meanwhile, there’s the aspect of pop-up polls. I don’t know about you, but I ignore them and don’t really want them cluttering up my site. Not sure how annoying pop-ups will build my audience; I choose to do that with good content.

I also get these appeals on a semi-regular basis; this one came last week:

I am looking to do one-way link building with desgin (sic) and technology sites. We thought you might be interested in this since your site (monoblogue.us) is in this category.

One way links are like this: SITE A -> monoblogue.us -> SITE B

I will link to monoblogue.us from my PR6 SITE A and you link to my SITE B from monoblogue.us in return. As your monoblogue.us is PR4, a link from a PR6 site will improve your pagerank as well as search engine ranking a lot. And both of our sites are in similar category, this brings extra value to both of our audience.

I had some great partners in United States|us and I hope you could be part of this program.

If you are interested or have any questions, please reply to this message for details.

Here is your reply, for the whole world to see.

I do links for one of four reasons: they are paying advertisers like the ones in my far-right sidebar, worthwhile causes like Troopathon, or they are in a story to either advance the narrative by bringing the source of the information to light or by adding context. I link to my own work a lot of the time, but will often link to other blogs or news sources when I use their information to make my arguments. Lastly, I keep a broad list of sites I link to as a show of support for their journalism, something I have done pretty much since day one.

I have been told by those who know a little something about SEO that I am a “natural” PR4; in other words, I didn’t use SEO tricks to build up my rank but its relevance has come over time as people read it and link to my site as a source of information. Just picking random national links off my site, I found American Thinker is a PR5, Legal Insurrection is a PR6, Right Turn (part of the Washington Post) is a PR7, and Twitchy is a PR7. As for state and local peers – such as the ones listed along with me on the WaPo list – Maryland Juice is a PR5, Maryland Reporter is a PR5, and Center Maryland is a PR4. In one year, my cohort Jackie Wellfonder has built up her Raging Against the Rhetoric site to a PR4 as well. (All of these are also linked in my sidebar.)

So without really trying, each of those sources got to their ranking naturally, not by artificially linking back and forth to sites specifically created just to pump up SEO status in a never-ending cycle of linkage, but not adding to the information available to readers.

At some point, the wheat becomes separated from the chaff. I know Google occasionally changes its algorithm in an attempt to clean out these junk SEO sites and attempt to put legitimate sites at the top of the search engines. But I don’t worry about that, since my audience has generally been built up by word of mouth and social media. The extent of my advertising is business cards I occasionally print at home.

Now if you want to consider this a “bleg,” well, I’m always looking for new advertisers (with recently trimmed rates) and don’t mind checks in the mail or deposits to my PayPal account. But I really wanted to get that off my chest because this isn’t as easy as it looks and there are always people out there who want to take advantage of me and try to screw up my formula for success.

I’ve earned everything I’ve achieved here, and the plan is to keep earning it as long as I feasibly can.

Disgruntled by the Dew Tour

June 23, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Sports, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Disgruntled by the Dew Tour 

Back in the spring I told you that, like the crocuses, the picketers from Carpenters Local 2012 were out protesting a property owner who made the decision to eschew union labor for a less pricey alternative.

Well, on Friday as I was driving into Ocean City, I saw the same crew out again for a different reason. (Sorry, no picture. I was too far back in traffic to get a clean shot.) With the Dew Tour in town, the laborers were unhappy that the event used non-union labor to construct the arena used by the athletes. Instead of casting “shame” on the property owner, though, the group casts aspersions on the Dew Tour, NBC (the network televising the events), and Comcast, which owns NBC.

This is an interesting case because the idea here was to build something for temporary use, and obviously cost was an object since NBC is trying to recoup its expenses paid to the Dew Tour for the rights to broadcast it. So they weren’t looking for the Taj Mahal here, just something which would look good on television. Not being a student in set design, I have no idea if those who build the sets for the broadcast networks are unionized; I would presume they are simply based on the locales in which most soundstages are located. Obviously Ocean City isn’t typically a hotbed of television production.

So it’s obvious that at least a trio of workers for Seaford-based United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 2012 had nothing better to do than stand at the main corner coming into Ocean City – the point where you exit the U.S. 50 bridge and either proceed straight toward the Boardwalk or right into the Inlet – and watch both the cars coming in and the bikini-clad women walking by.

And they probably made prevailing wage for it.

2013 Delmarva Chicken Festival in pictures and text

Since I tagged along with my fiance, who was working at the event, I decided to check out the festival which perhaps typifies best what our area is about: the 64th Delmarva Chicken Festival.

Held in Snow Hill, Maryland for just the second time, the festival featured several of its usual fan favorites, like this distinctive mainstay.

Billed as the world’s largest frying pan, this ten-foot behemoth is brought out each year to fry for another group of poultry-hungry diners.

Others who may prefer their birds chargrilled can get their wish too.

Hundreds of people were taking advantage at lunchtime yesterday when I was there.

Also on that end of Byrd Park (a very appropriate place for a Chicken Festival, in my opinion) was the stage for a new favorite, the Mountaire Chickin Pickin’ competition.

Having seen this competition last year, I can assure you it’s on the messy side. However, it is neater than the professional eating competition Kim and I saw in April.

And no celebration of poultry would be complete without the chance to see those who will be on your dinner table in a few weeks at various stages of life. The little fuzzballs in the bottom two pictures are child favorites.

The kids also get their own games, called the Chicken Capers. I think the object of the contest in the bottom picture was to carry an egg on a spoon across an obstacle course.

The kids were also featured as part of the entertainment this year. This is the Worcester County Children’s Theater performing as USO performers during World War II. The older gentlemen in the background doing musical accompaniment are known as the WW2nes, and the show featured its own child version of Bob Hope.

It was a nice little show for the several dozen who sat there and enjoyed it. This was part of a broadly appealing entertainment package.

I have much more on one entertainer in particular for a future Weekend of Local Rock post.

One thing about this festival, as opposed to the ones I’ve attended in Salisbury, is that the entire town of Snow Hill seems to have backed the event quite well. Up and down Market Street were these eggs mounted on utility poles to denote sponsors.

I saw this on my way downtown to see another facet of these gatherings – a large car show. These guys probably take the craft of restoring cars about as seriously as poultry farmers tend to their flocks.

One of the first I saw down there was my instant favorite.

Let’s face it: in this area of the country, Mustangs and (particularly) Camaros are a dime a dozen. You might even see your share of Firebirds and, less occasionally, a Barracuda. But I think this is only the first or second AMC Javelin I’ve seen, and it reminded me of my hometown.

Being from a city which makes Jeeps, back in the days when Jeep was part of AMC the muscle car of choice for those workers was the Javelin – and why not when you get a hefty discount? So they are far more common there, but here? Let’s just say someone from Virginia made my day.

The Chicken Festival also gave other businesses a chance to get their name out. One has to ask, though, what NASA has to do with the poultry industry. They are a large local employer thanks to Wallops Island, but still this was a little strange. (Then again, one could argue the health care provider my fiance works for is not poultry related, either. But NASA is a little out there.)

Snow Hill can use every job it can get, though. Coming back from the car show downtown I noticed a set of eyesores lined one part of the street by the park.

This was one of three adjacent houses in a similar state of disrepair – but it could be an opportunity for an investor with an eye for value and a cooperative local government who sees the potential of these parcels based on the location.

Looks to me like a replat would leave enough space for a half-dozen condos spaced around the alleyway. Then again, perhaps the reason this hasn’t been done are the onerous environmental laws in this state. Anyone who comes up with laws regarding fertilizer usage just may be a little too far to the side of Radical Green.

Yet I would agree with the contention that farmers are the true environmentalists. From new fuel-efficient equipment…

…to vegetative buffers…

…to new approaches to dealing with age-old problems, farmers are in step with true environmentalism as opposed to power grabs in the name of “sustainable” development.

This last product is one example. I never thought about bird mortality, but not every chick makes it to adulthood. Those who don’t survive have to be taken care of somehow, and composting wasn’t doing the job – instead, the decaying flesh attracted flies and rodents. What sits next to this gentleman is a freezer especially for these birds, to be kept until the surviving birds are sent to market. Then the company disposes of the product and cleans the freezer. Yes, this “mortality management” system has a high four-figure startup cost, but is billed as a labor saver.

Someone came up with this product idea, and I doubt it was the government.

So as the boats cruised down an idyllic Pocomoke River, the 64th Delmarva Chicken Festival approached its close yesterday evening.

I close with this photo just because I liked it. You don’t get this shot at the Centre of Salisbury – but you could at the upcoming Worcester County Fair held in the same park August 9-11, or any other time the park is open.

Since the last three Delmarva Chicken Festivals have been in Millsboro, Delaware, Salisbury, and now Snow Hill, I suspect the next one will be somewhere on the mid-Shore. Regardless of its actual location, those who support the local poultry industry will do their best to make it a success.

No opposition desired

June 22, 2013 · Posted in Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on No opposition desired 

It seems like I’ve heard this story before, but now an incident involving Congressman Chris Van Hollen and his recently-redistricted constituency in Carroll County has drawn the attention of law enforcement there.

Van Hollen has scheduled a public townhall meeting at Carroll County Community College (CCCC) for this coming Monday, a fact not lost on Michelle Jefferson of We the People – Carroll County, a nonpartisan local group which states as its purpose:

WTP exists to inform and educate anyone who has a desire to hear and learn about the political goings on in a nonpartisan approach. Every political party is represented in WTP – we believe we are Americans first and foremost and there’s no sunshine between the two major parties.

Locally, however, they’re known for being a group sympathetic to the TEA Party. So when Jefferson said about the CCCC townhall meeting, “I say we give him a WTP welcome to the neighborhood. Bet (Rep. Van Hollen) can’t find Westminster with his GPS,” the sarcastic tone was taken to be a threat by Carroll County Democratic Central Committee member Don West.

Bear in mind that this is a public meeting. Yet, as reported at Frontline State, the threats perceived by West have led to a peace order being slapped on Jefferson, of which a copy can be viewed at FLS. In it, West affirms that he “contend(s) that the respondent has engaged in a malicious course of conduct in which the respondent approached or pursued you with the intent to place you in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death?” as a stalker. All this over Jefferson calling West “a weenie & a jackass.” and pointing out that he had previously tried to secure a peace order against her – this was his second try, according to the complaint. It’s worth noting the same document lists Jefferson as being 5′-5″ and 120 pounds, so I don’t see her as an imposing physical presence to Don West, who I have never met so I can’t ascertain his size. Chances are, though, he’s larger than Jefferson.

But Michael, you may argue, she’s inciting a mob to riot at the event!

Please tell me where a TEA Party has gotten out of hand and trashed the venue at which it was held or committed physical violence to someone there. And even if you find an isolated incident I’m not privy to, won’t there be security at the Van Hollen townhall meeting? Certainly the words may be a little bit heated, but if anything one would think those who oppose Van Hollen would be on their best behavior given the knowledge of this so-called threat and the penchant of anyone in the media to assume the TEA Party is a bunch of troublemakers. (This, of course, assumes Van Hollen goes through with the meeting given the political climate created by his Democratic supporter, who believes the TEA Party has “violent tendencies.”)

In the meantime, answering the peace order will cost Jefferson part of her day at work and may serve to exempt Jefferson from the Van Hollen townhall meeting, because attending could be a violation of the order – one could reasonably expect West will be there as a Van Hollen backer. However, he is also an elected official so one would have to question the legal standard used by the court commissioner, Michele L. Keys.

I found the reaction from Sixth District Congessional candidate Dan Bongino interesting, given his background in the Secret Service. In a release, Bongino stated in part:

After a 2012 campaign marred by vehicle and property vandalism and a more recent, brazen display of government intimidation by the IRS, the Democrats are at it again. Now they are attempting to use law enforcement to intimidate and silence one of my former volunteers and a female Conservative activist in Carroll County, Maryland.

As a former law enforcement officer and a Secret Service agent with specific expertise in evaluating political threats, the Maryland Democratic Party should be embarrassed by this shameful attempt at intimidation and the corresponding waste of law enforcement resources. I am calling on the Maryland Democratic Party to issue a public apology to the Carroll County law enforcement officials involved and Mrs. Jefferson, immediately.

Apparently Dan knows Jefferson and didn’t perceive her as a threat; then again, she’s not likely to ask tough questions about Dan’s political views.

But the question of whether this so-called threat as a political weapon remains; on the other hand, it could serve as a call to arms for our side. The newly-christened Citizen Action Network (still MDCAN, but with a new “C”) added:

If you wish to show your support for WTP and demonstrate your displeasure with the Democrat party’s continued harassment of tea party activist groups, you can attend the public “meet and greet” with Congressman Van Hollen.

Given the recent IRS revelations alluded to by Bongino, the real threat may be coming from liberal Democrats. Whether it’s finding a court commissioner easily convinced by flimsy and circumstantial evidence or additional IRS scrutiny for TEA Party groups, our freedom could be at stake. But I would encourage people in every Congressional district to attend town hall meetings, regardless of whether they agree with the Congressman’s politics or not. It’s a very basic step toward an informed public, and should be taken advantage of when the opportunity is presented.

A tax cutter, by George

June 21, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A tax cutter, by George 

Like most members of hthe Republican Party, Ron George states the case that he stands for fiscal conservatism. The photo to the left is him beaming after signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a document put out as a vow between the candidate and the taxpayer, through Americans for Tax Reform.

But does Ron follow through in other areas of fiscal responsibility? Since Ron is a member of the General Assembly, the answer seems to be yes. He’s not voted for an O’Malley budget since 2007, when just 5 Republicans dared to vote against it.

Yet the reaction to the news on Ron’s Facebook page was very skeptical, so Ron elaborated:

I am serious about this. I know where the waste is. We have a shrinking tax base. We can create a more competitive tax rate, increase jobs, and grow the economy. I will cut taxes in a way that does this and I will show where the waste is by having independent audits of every department, agency, Medicaid disbursements, welfare disbursements, and health disbursements.

Of course, left unsaid is what happens if the audits come back clean, But it’s also worth pointing out that Maryland spends about 10 percent more per capita than the national average, so just getting back to the mean would have eliminated the need for any of the O’Malley/Brown tax increases. This makes sense because our state is fairly close to being 1/50 of the population, so it would be a microcosm of the nation’s “average” state.

There is one other area I’d love a little direction on, though. Ron’s seventh promise is (intentionally?) vague, but it’s worth expanding on in my view:

I promise to work towards energy independence to ensure Maryland will keep energy sources in-state and not be dependent on unstable governments half-way around the world.

Does this mean finally getting around to taking advantage of the Marcellus Shale under the western part of the state? How about joining Virginia and other Atlantic coastal states in a call to restart oil exploration off the coast? I’d appreciate some specifics on that, too.

Maybe the energy industry needs its own pledge to sign.

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