Is it truly ‘My Maryland’?

July 31, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Senator Watch, Watchdog Wire · Comments Off on Is it truly ‘My Maryland’? 

Billing itself as “Democracy’s First Online Town Hall”, the website MyMaryland.net recently went live with backing from the Sunlight Foundation, a group which advocates for governmental transparency.

The website is a pilot project where users can sign up and learn about and contact their elected officials. So I decided to make myself a guinea pig and sign up.

From the homepage, I selected “Join” and was taken to a landing page where they asked the basics: e-mail, password (for your use), name, and postal code. They also needed date of birth, why I wasn’t sure – perhaps it matches voter registration information.

After that, I was advised to check my email for a link. Sure enough, a few seconds later I had my e-mail and clicked the link.

(continued at Watchdog Wire…)

A chance to speak out

August is the time when official Washington shuts down, the tourists take over, and those who represent us return to their respective districts. Many use the opportunity to host townhall meetings in an effort to hear from and interact with his or her constituents.

But I’m fairly willing to bet that, aside from the possible exception of Andy Harris, you won’t hear a much more conservative voice conducting a townhall meeting than former Senator Jim DeMint, and you won’t have to travel to South Carolina or the fetid swamp of Washington, D.C. to attend. As part of Heritage Action and their proactive fight against Obamacare, the former Senator will be appearing in Joe Biden’s old stomping grounds of Wilmington, Delaware.

Seeing that the Eastern Shore isn’t all that far from Wilmington, this may be a good time investment for those of us interested in how some activists are combating Obamacare.

I suspect the number of former Senators will outnumber the number of current Delaware Senators at the meeting. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney counter-program with their own meetings that night, just to try and divide and conquer the Delaware opposition, such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots.

Too bad there’s a lot of First State residents who agree with DeMint and Heritage Action.

The Bartlett influence

July 29, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The Bartlett influence 

Vogt and Otis

The photo on the left would seem to be a fairly normal stock shot of two people standing in front of a political logo. But its significance is that of tying one generation of Republican office holder with a new generation of GOP office seeker.

Perhaps the name Bud Otis has no meaning to most of you reading this, but those in the know out in the Sixth Congressional District are aware that Bud was a longtime Chief of Staff for former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, splitting with the former Congressman late in his tenure over, among other things, the idea of Bud running to replace Roscoe.

But as the electoral cycle turns to 2014, it’s interesting to note that Otis is already behind a candidate, and it’s not the apparent odds-on favorite in Dan Bongino. Instead, this photo and an accompanying release I’ll quote below came from the campaign of fellow Republican hopeful David Vogt, who’s trying to recover from one of the political missteps to be expected from a neophyte candidate. Those remarks don’t seem to have an effect on the former Bartlett staffer.

David Vogt, Republican candidate for Congress in the 6th District, is happy to announce that Bud Otis, who served as Chief of Staff to former 6th District Representative Roscoe Bartlett, has joined his campaign. Otis served the citizens of the 6th District in Bartlett’s Congressional office from 2001 until 2011. Otis fully endorses Vogt and will serve as Senior Campaign Advisor to Vogt.

In some respects, this will play into the hand of Bongino as his typical modus operandi is to portray himself as a political outsider, so having one of his primary opponents endorsed by the chief of staff of a former officeholder would just be the work of yet another Washington insider. While David tries to portray himself as an outsider, too, perhaps Otis’s influence will convince Vogt to junk his plea for a $500,000 spending limit on the 2014 campaign. That’s the sign of a weak candidate who is afraid he won’t get his message out, particularly against a fairly proven fundraiser in Dan Bongino and a multimillionaire incumbent in John Delaney.

Yet there is something to be said for political experience, and Vogt indeed lives in the Sixth District, unlike his two major opponents. It also means that any influence from the former incumbent will be behind the scenes, as Otis was thought to be a viable candidate leading into 2012 before Roscoe axed him. Still, Bud sat out that race, and remember: Bartlett was respected in western Maryland, which is the home base for a significant portion of Sixth District Republicans, so having Bud as a political adviser shouldn’t hurt.

Fun with spam, part 3

July 28, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry · Comments Off on Fun with spam, part 3 

It’s time to comment on more idiocy from people who have something to sell. Let’s begin with this gem:

I work In business development with Newsmax Media, in Boca Raton, FL. I just wanted to drop you a line and say I am a big fan of your site, and I am interested in a digital partnership with Monoblogue

The goal of this campaign is to place a 300×300 box on Heavy for pay.

Newsmax can generate a substantial amount of passive revenue by adding a small, but valuable bit of content that your readers will enjoy.

We currently have over 700 publishing partners, You can see examples of our “newsfeed” on (redacted)

By adding the newsfeed, you are generating a tremendous amount of guaranteed revenue, you are increasing run time, you will be engaging your readers longer, and most importantly, you will not be cluttering your page with ads. We value your sites readership and will provide world class health/finance/world/ political news for them to enjoy.

The newsfeed is a non-performance based model, unlike Outbrain and Taboola which are perforce based or ppc products, we will guarantee you a fixed monthly fee every month for hosing the newsfeed. It doesn’t matter if the newsfeed gets 1 click or 1,000,000 you will receive your fee.

As far as compensation, I would be happy to review your traffic , and discuss the revenue Newsmax can generate for your site. We pay a $.50, CPM, because this is an editorial based module, we pass less than banner or display ads.

When a reader does click on a newsfeed story, a new window will populate, helping increase your sites run time.

During the test period we track clicks/impressions, our long term goal is to come to a 12 month agreement.

Please let me know what you think, all feedback is welcome. Please let me know what I have to do, in order to satisfy your needs.

Thank you so much for your time and efforts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Kevin Mallon

Admittedly, this guy is apparently a living, breathing human being. But I think I need to make a little more than a couple dollars a week since that’s what 50 cents CPM would translate to. In fact, for most sites it would be pocket change, although at one time Newsmax was getting 3.8 million pageviews a month – that would be $1,900 in revenue based on their own calculations – and they’re a PR7 site with a top 300 Alexa rating in the U.S. I don’t read it all that often, but Lord, do I hope this guy doesn’t do their actual writing.

But if you think that offer is funny (or insulting), the skewering this guy gave them was priceless.

Even so, I actually made this guy’s e-mail look a lot better than it was – it came double-spaced but still riddled with the errors you see there. As I often say, proofreading is your friend. I’ll grant you probably sent this out to 200 blogs at a time (hence, the way the field took the word “monoblogue” with an additional space) but there’s no excuse for some of these errors.

So, Kevin, my friend, if you are out there and you REALLY are a fan of my site, you would see that I have a menu item up top called “Ads.” In it, you would see that an advertisement such as the one you seek is $100 per year. My public school math tells me that’s $8.33 per month, or revenue in your case from 16,666 impressions. If you “value my site’s readership” you should be falling all over yourself to pay that premium to advertise on one of America’s best state-based political sites (not my words, it’s in the Washington Post.) I’m not just some schmuck out there.

Oh, and for the rest of you: feel free to clutter my page with ads.

Apparently I’ve also become popular with Mike Thomas, the “Success of a Salesman” pitcher from last time. He reminds me of that bit from Animal House with the hapless fraternity pledge being whacked with a paddle: “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Well, here you go:

My name is Mike and I am hoping you can show your support for fair trade by mentioning this fair trade directory. I had done some searches about fair trade and found this page of yours where you talked about it:

monoblogue.us/2013/05/09/shorebird-of-the-week-may-9-2013/

I was hoping that you wouldn’t mind just adding a link to the words fair trade in here to the directory:

(redacted)

Maybe there is a better fit page or you would like to add something to your blog. If you would like, we could write an original post on any topic related to fair trade for you.

Also, if you would like to be added to the directory you need to become a member and contact us to add your company. To do so you will need to first link to the directory and than we will add your company. That is all it takes to get more traffic to your site coming from this directory.

Let me know which option you would like to take and I really do appreciate your time in helping to show your support for fair trade. If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

I about busted a gut laughing at the idea of getting “fair trade” from a Shorebird of the Week post. Upon reading the piece in question I figured it out:

There’s no doubt Branden Kline would like to go to Baltimore and ply his baseball trade as a member of the Orioles, but his next step would be to go home. (Emphasis mine.)

Talk about a deep search! Of course, now that I have mentioned those key words in this post, Mike will be writing me back in a few weeks and pestering me about adding his content to this post. No thanks; shoot, you’re not even dangling the princely sum of 50 cents per CPM like old Newsmax Kevin above.

I probably don’t get a player to be named later in the trade, either. Then again, I may be negotiating from weakness as evidenced by yet another SEO guru wishing to help:

Dear Sir,

– Your site has been affected by Google Penguin due to over optimized with poor quality links. There is more than thousands of anchor text links found in poor quality directories and bookmarks sites.

– As per coding error validation, there are errors in coding found. This creates big problems in the path of search engines crawlers when they visit and navigate through your website.

-Your site has Alt-tag missing. You need to optimize the images from search engine’s point of views.

– Keyword stuffing: There are over use of keywords in your site which is all spamming.

-All your pages haven’t been indexed. Only a few pages have been indexed. It shows Google has banned some of your web pages.

Above mentioned are some of the most important issues which need to be taken care of, if rectified, these issues can rank your website on the top of search engines like Google and you can easily dominate the market.

If you are interested, we can help you to recover and improve your site.

Oh yes, I’m sure I can easily dominate the market. But I don’t feel like dealing with the “more than thousands of links” and “errors in coding.” Really?

Listen, I just write. I don’t write to please a Google Penguin master, and I don’t have a lot of time for “Tania Delmar” with an address of website (dot) marketing (dot) sales (at) (common e-mail provider) – who, by the way must suffer from multiple personality disorder because he/she has a Skype handle with “Tony” in it as well. Maybe he/she is related to marie felipe from last week.

But it’s interesting to me if Google indeed banned some of my web pages; after all, I am a conservative so I suppose I can wear this with a badge of honor.

Perhaps this is the start of a new business idea, though: I can take the vast sum of money Newsmax is promising me and open a new website, hiring Mike Thomas to wrote all the content, and getting Tania/Tony/Sybil to optimize it for SEO. That’s the ticket, problems solved!

I’l just sit back, collect a cut off the top and laugh at the dog chasing its own virtual tail.

The right sort of action

I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, but it’s a Saturday evening and I think the time is right for visual aids.

Their philosophy is simple, but so, so ignored.

It’s a tenet of limited government that the government which is necessary is best enacted at a point closest to the people. The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution seemed to intuitively know this, which is why Congress only had a limited number of functions (as intended), the Bill of Rights spelled out what Barack Obama considers “negative liberties” – in other words, the government cannot do actions like limit the press, expression of religion, petitioning of redress of grievances, and so forth – yet it wasn’t intended to be a catch-all, so the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were added.

(Indeed, there are those who argue the Articles of Confederation was even better at limiting the federal government, but it would have been nearly impossible to get 50 states to agree on anything – not that there would have been 50 states because many states claimed far more territory to their west.)

An example of how government overreaches can be found in our state’s infamous “rain tax.” Once the federal government decreed our state had to pay a share of Chesapeake Bay cleanup – although it’s not necessarily a share proportionate to our fouling of the Bay, as those who advocate the cleanup of sediment trapped behind the Conowingo Dam may attest because that sediment comes from states upstream – the state, in turn, decided the local governments had to collect a certain amount in what are called Watershed Implementation Plans, or WIPs. (Wicomico’s county cost is estimated to be over $900 million over 12 years, while neighboring Somerset County, which is the state’s poorest jurisdiction, has about the same bill but concedes there is no way they can handle this with existing resources on a county budget of under $40 million annually. In some respects, the “rain tax” may be a handout from richer to poorer jurisdictions.)

Perhaps it may have taken federal action to goad states into compliance, but there are many cases in government, from highway safety to education, where Uncle Sam looks over the local shoulder and threatens to withhold funds for non-compliance with certain dictates and standards. And as the short video notes, every dollar which goes to Washington is returned many pennies short because the federal bureaucracy has to be paid their thirty pieces of silver as well. Some states are donor states and some states are considered recipients, but there was no real need to send the money to Washington for functions the federal government need not be doing. That was the point of Federalism in Action as well as a toolkit they recently made available for download.

It’s my preference to deal with my local government here in Salisbury for most matters. But too often they tell me their hands are tied by the faceless bureaucrats in Annapolis whose only thought about Salisbury and the Eastern Shore in general is how quickly they can traverse it in order to reach the beach. Yet those at the state level will often tell us they’re at the mercy of Uncle Sam, and it’s true that federal handouts comprise a growing percentage of our bloated state budget.

Fortunately, we can reverse a lot of this process over the next three years – if we choose our representation wisely, and keep the pressure on and frequently question those who seem to be on our side now. Maybe one day our children will be blessed by a government which knows its place, and they’ll be able to breathe free.

The permanent disruption

July 26, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Radical Green · 2 Comments 

This evening I depart from the maelstrom which is Maryland politics to bring you: reality. It’s the sort of reality that smacks you upside the head like a 2×4, except that there’s not a whole lot of demand for those right now – in case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been a whole lot of building going on over the last half-dozen years or so.

That’s a reason this post by Lee Dodson at The Brenner Brief caught my eye, as it asks a vital question: can the construction business survive? And when the opening line is…

The construction business didn’t just collapse, it disappeared.

…there was nothing I could do but sadly agree.

It’s been nearly nine years, but the reason I moved to Maryland in the first place was to take a job at a growing local architectural firm. For 22 years I worked in that business, first as a draftsman with a firm which literally did all its drawings with ink on mylar (anyone remember that?), then moving on to learning AutoCAD beginning with version 11, then taking my architectural exam – for which I grandfathered in because I only had a four year degree but enough work experience to qualify – and finally moving up to project management for small projects and eventual LEED certification a year before I was furloughed. In total, I worked for six different firms, not counting a little moonlighting I did now and then for a home builder.

To make a long story short, the demise of the construction industry locally put me (and, over a period of about 18 months, 16 others, give or take one or two who worked for my firm at various times while I was employed there) out of a job. Most found work in other places, but I decided to stay here and try something different because I like the area and didn’t wish to move yet again. A firm which had nearly 20 employees at its peak is now down to just a couple. Obviously I can’t speak for other firms, and there’s perhaps a few which have opened up during my long interregnum from the business, but I believe I would be safe in saying that, if you added up all those positions held at local architectural, engineering, and design firms seven years ago, less than half remain. And the reason is simple; not much is being built and what is getting done tends to be awarded to firms across the bridge.

So I have had the humbling experience of being downsized as a middle-aged guy out of a profession where I toiled for most of my adult life. But it’s even worse for long-term prospects, as Dodson notes:

The extinction of an entire class of tradespeople is the most dangerous situation. But those in the business who can bring younger people along will play a vital part in the recovery and restore a once vibrant building economy only if there is a will to liberate that class to thrive.

If you don’t do something for a long while, you lose your innate knowledge of the craft. Those who were expert tradesmen but lost their jobs wouldn’t be quite the experts if and when they were rehired. While someone like me wouldn’t forget completely how to do AutoCAD or know how to interpret the building code so a set of drawings could be sent out for permit, the industry has changed enough in a half-decade to present a steep learning curve once the industry recovers.

Unfortunately, the construction industry also suffers from a couple other factors which will affect its long-term local viability. The massive influx of foreign laborers, many of whom are here illegally, is driving wages down and placing craftsmanship in peril for those jobs being built.

Perhaps more ominous, though, is the additional red tape being placed on the construction industry on a number of fronts, but most particularly in the areas of “green” design and compliance with overly restrictive environmental and zoning codes. It’s difficult enough to establish this area as a market with its below average income, but when developers have to jump through a multitude of hoops to try and make their enterprise a profitable one, they may be inclined to try their luck somewhere else. I’m convinced that a large-scale development like Ocean Pines, which was built over 40 years ago, wouldn’t be possible today because the environmentalists would fight it tooth and nail in court or lobby to have the zoning codes written in such a way to prevent it.

It may be another decade before the building industry catches up to the over-saturation of units built in the last ten years or so, as the housing market collapsed here just as it did in many other resort areas. Those who figured on this area to be their second home suddenly had to worry about keeping the roof of their first house over their heads, and many couldn’t. Couple that with the continuing War on Rural Maryland perpetrated by those who think they know better in Annapolis and it’s clear that we may not have yet reached the bottom. Hopefully that’s not the case, but as seen from my perspective the jobs are nowhere to be found in this locality.

Shorebird of the Week – July 25, 2013

July 25, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – July 25, 2013 

As part of a team which looks like it may finally break out of the offensive doldrums which have plagued its second-half effort – picking up 48 hits against a solid Savannah pitching staff which boasts the South Atlantic League’s second-best ERA – Roderick Bernadina led the charge with nine hits in 17 at-bats, raising his average 21 points from an anemic .219 entering the series to .240 afterward – a perfect 60 hits in 250 at-bats.

At the tail end of last year, a point where all three of the regular 2013 outfielders were already being penciled into the lineup by former manager Ryan Minor, Roderick was one of two (Greg Lorenzo being the other) who was hitting on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, we start the statistic rolls over with a new season and Bernadina’s .298/2/12/.765 OPS line was wiped away. And while he got off to a decent beginning to 2013, hitting .255 in April, he found himself sitting at the Mendoza line near the end of May. (Worth pointing out, though, is that Roderick was out for a couple weeks that month due to a hamstring injury.)

Something intriguing about Bernadina’s numbers is his reliance on our friendly confines. While Perdue Stadium isn’t known as a hitter’s park, Roderick hits .295 here compared to .182 on the road. Over the years it’s been the opposite for many players who come through here, and it’s noteworthy that the Savannah series was held here. So the question will be whether the hot hand prevails and builds up his road average as the Shorebirds begin a trip to Hagerstown and West Virginia tonight or if those less-familiar parks again take their toll. (Between the two parks, Roderick is 1-for-8 this season. He missed the initial trip to Hagerstown with the hamstring strain.)

Now the 20-year-old from Curacao (who turns 21 next month) still has time to develop, and there’s a baseball pedigree in his family as cousin Roger Bernadina plays for the Washington Nationals. He also has a potential for perhaps another 150 at-bats this year, and a good finish can put him in the .270 range for the season.

But this year has been a regression of sorts to the numbers Bernadina had at the lower levels of the Orioles’ system, where he hit .242 and .239 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. And given his brief experience with Frederick last season (1-for-13 in four games) it may take a strong finish and further average increase of 25 to 30 points to push him out of “organization guy” status into that of “prospect.” Then again, cousin Roger spent three seasons in the SAL with Savannah (2003-05) but quickly progressed to The Show in the period between the ages of 22 to 24 – can Roderick follow a similar trajectory? We’ll see.

 

Radio days volume 19

It was a whirlwind week for me in terms of radio appearances. First I was invited to do a segment on “Watchdog Wire Radio” which aired on Friday night regarding my recent release of the monoblogue Accountability Project. I was thrilled to give my baby a little more exposure, as I think it should be required reading for all Marylanders considering going to the polls.

So on Tuesday morning I was invited to record my segment, which we finally got to do Thursday night. (“Watchdog Wire Radio” is apparently one of at least two shows taped beforehand for later broadcast.)

Oddly enough, by that point I had already done an interview with Brian Griffiths, who conducted a number of interviews at the Tawes event. Mine was one of a number that happened to air on the Red Maryland Network’s Saturday “Election Focus” hour, joining the likes of gubernatorial candidates David Craig and Ron George, among others. I believe mine was the first one Brian did, since he was using me to check his levels and such. No biggie, someone has to do it.

So allow me to discuss the actual shows, “Watchdog Wire” first. The thing which sticks out at me about doing “Watchdog Wire Radio” is that I need to either sit closer to my computer or play around with the recording volume a little bit. Mark does his interviews via Skype, and while I’ve worked with it before I’d always done it on my desktop computer. It’s a little different on my laptop, which has a built-in camera and microphone (although I didn’t need the camera.) So maybe I need to lean into it.

As for the content, I was pretty pleased with how it went initially, although I think I bogged down a little bit talking about the accolades and admonishments. It shocked me, though, that I had the entire first half of the 50-minute show. Obviously host Mark Newgent came prepared with a lot of questions for me, but I didn’t think I had that lengthy of a segment. This is particularly true when I was one of four pieces.

There were a couple of things I could have kicked myself for. One is that I didn’t explain the point system and the reason 25 votes is easy math – each correct vote is four points. I also have deductions of 1 to 6 points for absences, not voting while present, and changing a vote to incorrect (which is possible in the House, as is the half-credit I give for switching to the correct side.)

The second is not being able to navigate through it as quickly as I should have. I knew exactly the bill I was referring to for Delegate Norman, but couldn’t locate the title. Obviously there’s much more to the mAP than just the votes and accolades, as I try to give a reason why I would or wouldn’t support a bill. We also didn’t get into the committee votes, which I suppose is just as well because you should always leave an audience wanting more.

Well, they got more on Saturday night, right off the bat. The first ten minutes or so of “Election Focus” was my interview at Tawes. This made sense because, as I noted above, I was first out of the chute. Given the roster of guests I don’t mind being an opening act.

Once I got used to Brian Griffiths’ rapid-fire delivery and got into the flow of things, I think I did all right (except for not recalling Laura Neuman’s name.) Listening to the rest of the interviews, I noticed Brian is that way with most of them. On the other hand, you can tell I’m from the Midwest because I speak more slowly.

And because I was sort of the “home team” for this effort – and they knew I’d done several recaps of Tawes – I enjoyed giving the lowdown on the local scene around the lower Eastern Shore. Perhaps I was a little tongue-tied speaking about the second bananas on the Republican ticket, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on around here.

Overall, “Election Focus” seems to be an interesting show for Marylanders to get to hear from a number of candidates from top to bottom on the ballot. (It will be better when it’s not “300 degrees,” apparently.) With about 48 weeks or so until the primary, there’s a lot of airtime to fill. I was happy to do my little part.

WCRC meeting – July 2013

For the first of two consecutive months (at least), a gubernatorial candidate graced our Wicomico County Republican Club’s presence – and he brought his running mate along. It meant the attendance was much better than usual, as over 40 crammed into a Salisbury Chamber of Commerce meeting room to hear both David Craig and running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

So after a brief opening to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and introduce a number of distinguished visitors from near and far, David and Jeannie were introduced by campaign manager Paul Ellington. We sort of pressed him into that service, but Paul remarked that this election reminded him of two others he was intimately involved in: 1994 and 2002. He also made the point that “when you get to be governor, it’s nice to have a friendly legislature.”

That idea would return in Craig’s remarks, but he first noted that Maryland “has done good things” for ten generations of his family, dating from the late 17th century. Unfortunately, the state governmental monopoly seems to be all about maintaining itself and not about what David called the “forgotten Marylanders” from rural and suburban areas. For them, the last General Assembly session was “one of the most challenging.”

And while Craig was out to “give people a choice in 2014,” he told those assembled that he wouldn’t refuse $4,000 checks, but he would rather each person out there bring 40 voters apiece. Republican turnout in 2002 when Bob Ehrlich won, said Craig, was great – 68% – but speaking as a teacher, “that would have been a failing grade.”

After telling the group this was his 21st election – because Havre de Grace had balloting every two years – he introduced running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who as David mentioned was the first Eastern Shore resident on a major statewide ticket in two decades. Of course, she really needed no introduction to us as many of those present were represented by her in the General Assembly.

Jeannie talked about cutting her political teeth as a political science major at Salisbury University and being involved in student government there, also bringing up the fact later that she strives to preach political involvement to area youth groups such as Girls State, which is annually held at SU.

Haddaway-Riccio also spoke about working in the House of Delegates, “fighting until we barely had an ounce of energy left” against some of the bills presented by the present governor and Democratic leadership. The implementation of that “leftist agenda” has led to “degradation,” Jeannie added.

Once both had spoken and David added a quip about needing a couple good Senators – looking at Delegate Mike McDermott, who was in attendance and has been gerrymandered into sharing a single-member House district with another delegate – Craig opened up the floor to questions.

Topmost on the mind of those attending was the idea of an open GOP primary, as the idea has reemerged as a discussion topic over the last few days. Craig was noncommittal on the concept, stating he would be satisfied with letting the state party make its decision this fall. There are “a lot of frustrated Democrats” who may welcome the idea, though, added David.

Craig was then asked what functions he would assign to Haddaway-Riccio. While he chided Democrats for “picking for an election.” David said of Jeannie, “she should be at the table all of the time,” meaning ready to take the reins if needed. He praised Haddaway-Riccio for her practical experience, common sense, and knowledge of rural Maryland.

Asked about business, Craig intended to hold quarterly business roundtables. Because it affected local businesses in advance of consumers, we knew about the recession back in 2008, said Craig, and Harford County made budgetary decisions in a proactive fashion based on that knowledge.

When queried about social issues, particularly being pro-life, Craig related that he didn’t push the issue with his children, but was pleased that they turned out as pro-life as they did. David also pointed out that he voted in a pro-life fashion during his time in the General Assembly. But he would rather have 5 million Marylanders decide than 188 in the General Assembly. Jeannie echoed the overall stance, adding for her part she was “conservative, Christian, pro-life.”

Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.”

An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. But then he asked, “why don’t we have 60 Senators?”

On the other hand, when it comes to local government David vowed to be mindful of county interests. When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?”

“We created local government for a reason,” continued David, revealing there were now more planning and zoning mandates on his county now than there are public safety ones. That same philosophy guided David on education, where he made the case “money should follow the child” and that teachers should be allowed to teach to something other than a test. David cautioned against expecting sweeping changes right away, though, noting the state Board of Education is appointed in five-year terms.

Lastly, a concern on the mind of one observer was how David would run in traditional Democratic strongholds like Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. “It’s all about reaching out to the people,” said David. He also noted that he’d beaten four Democratic incumbents over the years, but over time a couple became among his strongest supporters because “I didn’t get petty” and advised would-be candidates to “be the person you are.”

After Craig finally finished speaking, we returned to our normal order of business, with one exception: we sang “Happy Birthday” to the man we call “Mr. Republican” locally: Blan Harcum turned 90 years young.  In turn, the June meeting minutes were read and approved, treasurer’s report was given, and WCRC president Jackie Wellfonder reminded us of upcoming municipal elections in Annapolis and Frederick which could use our help if interested and the August 1 joint meeting with the Republican Women of Wicomico on Agenda 21, featuring Grant Helvey.

In his Central Committee report, our David – county Chair Dave Parker – stated that “Tawes was fun” but we had business to attend to now: the question of opening the primary would come down to Central Committee members so those interested should express such to these local representatives. “Give us grief” if you don’t like our position, said Parker; however he added, “I remain to be convinced” on the merits.

After decrying the “truly disgusting” media treatment of the Trayvon Martin case, Dave shifted gears and cajoled those attending that we are still looking for candidates for next year. Some incumbents have alerted us to their intentions, but others have not.

Finally, we heard from a number of those attending on various pieces of business: Joe Ollinger reminded us that Crab Feast tickets are now on sale (in fact, I have some to sell if you want one) for the September 7 event.

County Councilman Joe Holloway rose to counter a report made by a local media outlet about fee increases for local restaurants, stating they were included in the County Executive’s budget (see “Health Department” on pages 20- 21 here.) County Council approved them as part of the overall budget. (Seems like $150 shouldn’t make or break a local eatery, though.)

Finally, Delegate Mike McDermott declared that Craig/Haddaway-Riccio was “a great ticket” and hinted at his own announcement in August. “We’ll take that Senate seat from Jim Mathias,” McDermott promised.

Speaking of local eateries, it should also be mentioned that the pre-meeting happy hour – this time at Evo – was our most successful, with several tables of Republicans enjoying the camaraderie. Our next happy hour may or may not be there, but we already have the second in what could become a monthly series of gubernatorial hopefuls joining us during our regular meeting as Charles Lollar drops by on August 26.

Scathing words

It’s not often that I blockquote an entire piece, but a recent “Politics and Pets” editorial from former Maryland GOP Chair Jim Pelura is worth the space, as I see it. I did a slight amount of editing, adding the bullet points and the link.

I recently read an article by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times that attempts to psychoanalyze the Republican Party.

Much to my dismay, his general conclusion is that the Party will continue to lose credibility as long as there is a significant Conservative wing expressing ideas and attempting to thwart the far-left agenda of the Obama administration, the Democrat Party, Democrats in Congress and those Republicans that adhere to the notion that moderation is the way to victory.

To quote one of the Republican sources in this article describing Conservatives…”Their rigidity is killing them. It’s either holy purity, or you are anathema. Too many ideologues have come in. You don’t win by what they are doing.”

Excuse me, but, ideological candidates have won in the House and Senate and our moderate candidates continue to lose the White House.

Republicans who claim to stand for clearly stated Republican ideals like fiscal responsibility, faith in the private sector, small government and standing up for the individual and our Constitution, and then act and vote in a manner contrary to those ideals are, in my opinion, the main reason for the public’s lack of trust in and erosion of the Republican brand.

This problem is not unique to national Republicans as we see many examples of this problem involving Republican elected officials in Maryland.

A few examples:

  • A Republican candidate for Lt. Governor who, as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, sent a letter to the Speaker imploring him not to pass any bond (pork) bills while submitting several pork bills for her district.
  • A Republican gubernatorial candidate that criticizes the current Democrat Governor for raising taxes while raising taxes in his own county as County Executive.
  • A Republican member of a County Council that introduces legislation that significantly restricts our 2nd Amendment rights.
  • A past Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and the Republican Minority Leader in the Maryland General Assembly sending strong letters of support for the extremely liberal ideologue Tom Perez to be appointed to a position in the Obama administration.
  • A Republican candidate for County Executive urging the sitting administration to block implementation of a “rain tax” that he voted for while in the Maryland General Assembly.
  • A current Republican County Council raised taxes, grew government, implemented a fiscally irresponsible “rain tax” yet talks the Conservative message.
  • A current Republican County Executive getting praise for vetoing a “rain tax” bill in her county but supports the concept and did not object to the new bill that the Council sent to her.

No need to burden you with more examples, you get my point.

The Democrat party is completely ideological and no one complains, but an ideological Republican Party, in their opinion, cannot win.

How wrong they are. In reality, for every liberal vote a moderate Republican may gain, they will lose many more Republican votes.

Voter apathy is at an all-time high and I suggest that it is because the leftist agenda of the Democrat Party is out of step with main-stream Americans and the loss of credibility of the Republican Party due to its confusing, non-principled and hypocritical message from its elected members.

Ideology, principle and acting on those ideals when elected is what is needed in our Republican Party.

God Bless America with God’s blessings on those who guard it.

By reading between the lines, I could figure out each of those Pelura was referring to.

But I also took the time to read the original editorial, and the problem I see is that most of those who were quoted or solicited for their opinions come from the very class which is threatened by a conservative resurgence in the Republican Party. Many of the “Establishment” Republicans were represented: Bob Dole, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and other inside-the-Beltway types fretted about losing four of the last six Presidential elections and not following through on cherished “ruling class” priorities like amnesty, which they consider “immigration reform.” Some blame the rise of talk radio, others the “Southern Strategy” which made the “solid South” solidly GOP, and still others panned the TEA Party.

All this proves is that there is a serious disconnect between the Republicans who inhabit that mysterious land called Washington, D.C. and make their living through one or another of the thousands of Republican-leaning advocacy groups which thrive on their access and the folks like me who have been loyally casting their ballot for the GOP for most of their adult lives but are disheartened that Republicans seem to have turned their back on conservative principles in the interest of seeking bipartisan “solutions” like amnesty or, conversely, wishing to “improve” Obamacare rather than simply defunding it.

Unfortunately, Pelura points out many of these same problems plague the GOP in our state. And while he seems to be picking on a number of Anne Arundel County politicians, he’s saved some venom for the Craig/Haddaway ticket while sparing others like Ron George or Charles Lollar. They tend to be the more conservative in the field.

Now I will grant that in Maryland the center looks far to the right to most political observers, and I would have categorized Bob Ehrlich as a centrist Republican. Some obviously argue that’s the only type which can win statewide, and based on the Ehrlich victory they could be correct. I know Martin O’Malley tried to paint Ehrlich as uncaring in 2006, really trying to tie him to the then-unpopular George W. Bush. Hard to otherwise explain why Bob Ehrlich lost despite a positive approval rating.

Yet it will have been 12 years since a non-Ehrlich ran for the state’s top job; that is, unless Michael Steele jumps into the race and grabs the nomination. And I know the political game fairly well: run right (or left) for the nomination, then tack to the center for the general – at least that’s the conventional wisdom. Then again, conventional wisdom suggested Mitt Romney was a perfect nominee for 2012.

The job of whoever wins the Republican nomination next year will be a simple one: define your narrative before it gets defined for you by the opposition. Those of us in the alternative media can help – because we’ll be the only ones hoisting that flag – but it will also take quite a bit of money. I don’t think the party is quite on the scrap heap yet, but 2014 is looking to be more and more of a last stand for this once free state.

Success at the top will also take a full undercard. We can’t skip races this year, and we have to work as a team around a few common pocketbook issues. While I’m certainly pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, I realize issues like those play much better in Trappe than Takoma Park. Put it this way: we know the word “invest” is code for raising taxes and spending more but we also know the other side has equated abortion with a sacrament and having a gun with being a lunatic, out hunting down innocent black youths like Trayvon Martin. Democrats still get away with saying it.

Conversely, though, there is such a thing as a Goldwater effect. Early on it was obvious that he would lose in 1964, but the unabashed conservative message  Barry Goldwater presented (with help from Ronald Reagan) sowed the seeds for future success. You may live in a 10:1 Democrat district, but the effort you put in against the incumbent means he or she has to work to keep the district and not be able to help others. That’s important, as is the education you can provide there.

Still, I appreciate Jim’s efforts to keep us on the straight and narrow. As Maryland Republicans, we have allowed ourselves to be defined by failure when we should be pointing out the myriad failures of the other side in the very act of governing. Change Maryland is a group working to reset that perception, but the overall theme needs to be that it’s time for the adults in the room to take charge of Maryland and get the state working for all of us.

50,000 strong – but where does it go?

July 21, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on 50,000 strong – but where does it go? 

Last week, in another story sort of buried in the runup to the Tawes event, the fine folks at Change Maryland hit the 50,000 “like” mark on Facebook. (Today it appears they have surpassed 51,000.) It bears recalling that in the spring of 2012 they were just at 12,000 – although I noted at the time their cake was much more optimistic. Perhaps by the spring convention of 2014 that extra zero will come in handy.

It seems the rule of thumb is that their membership grew in year two at a rate twice as fast as it did in Change Maryland’s first year – if this continues they would be in the 115,000 range by this time next year. But is that too optimistic of a goal?

The bread and butter of Change Maryland has been its strident opposition of Martin O’Malley’s numerous tax hikes and pointing out his incompetence at job creation, especially when compared to peer states. But having covered many of those revenue enhancements now – and knowing 2014 is an election year for his anointed successor, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown – the process of raising taxes may come to a halt. Bear in mind as well that most of O’Malley’s increases are now occurring automatically like clockwork; for example, the sales tax charged on gasoline increases in July during both 2014 and 2015.

A second item affecting Hogan’s organization is a change in personnel. Jim Pettit, who worked with Change Maryland during its run to 50,000, recently joined the campaign of gubernatorial candidate David Craig. Perhaps this is a good time for a transition, knowing that much of the issue advocacy occurs during and immediately after the General Assembly session, but I don’t discount the experience Pettit brought to the table. He’s been replaced by Matt Proud, who has plenty of political experience for a youngster and may bring some youthful enthusiasm to the effort, but will still need a little time to transition into the task.

But what does having 50,000 Facebook followers really mean? Change Maryland explains:

(Change Maryland) has built a dominating presence on social media with more people engaged online than the Maryland Democratic Party, the Maryland Republican Party and all of the potential statewide candidates of either party, added together. Change Maryland’s Facebook page has a total weekly reach of over 341,153 people. No other citizen group in the state has ever accomplished what Change Maryland has, in just over two years.

So they are influencing over 300,000 people of all political stripes with a fiscally conservative message. But will founder Larry Hogan upset the apple cart by making his own bid for Governor? Hogan was coy at Tawes, being quoted in an AP story as noting:

I just think it’s very, very early to be here in the hot, dog days of July the year before the election to be out campaigning. At some point, we might have to take a serious look at it. I don’t think we would do that for quite some time, though.

The way I interpret that is the question of whether Michael Steele jumps into the race later on. None of the others on the GOP side could reasonably be interpreted as Bob Ehrlich loyalists in the way Hogan or Steele would be.

In some respects Hogan is faced with a similar question Newt Gingrich faced in 2008: fresh off the formation of American Solutions, Newt had to decide whether to jump into the presidential race or continue to grow his group. He eventually decided to take a pass on the 2008 race, choosing to maintain his American Solutions leadership role. Conversely, once Newt decided to enter the 2012 presidential race his group withered on the vine.

If Change Maryland becomes interpreted as a campaign entity for Larry Hogan’s gubernatorial bid, its influence would wane. But if Hogan becomes a kingmaker of sorts, using his organization to promote candidates with a fiscally responsible track record in the same manner Sarah Palin lends her hand to certain conservative hopefuls on a national scale (such as Dan Bongino) he could retain his following and influence the 2014 election up and down the line.

There’s no question Maryland needs a change from the liberal philosophy dragging the state down, and Hogan’s group is succeeding in getting out the message. The next step is motivating these disciples to action, and we won’t know the success of that mission until November of 2014.

The declaration of (courting) independents

It doesn’t seem like this issue will ever die.

You might recall that after our Maryland GOP Spring Convention earlier this year I posted a piece critiquing the thoughts of Don Murphy, a former Delegate and longtime party activist who has been fighting a crusade for many years to open up the Republican primary to unaffiliated voters, perhaps with the idea of welcoming them to the party eventually. His reasoning seemed sound: a number of like-minded Northeastern states open their primaries because they have a plurality of unaffiliated voters.

But the MDGOP appears to be interested in revisiting the process, as Erin Cox writes in the Baltimore Sun, and it may set us up for yet another contentious convention this fall in Annapolis. And while Brian Griffiths uses the evidence of past election results in his post on Red Maryland today, I honestly believe that’s a little bit of a red herring argument.

In Maryland today, the registration numbers lay out as follows (from the June report):

  • Democrats: 2,073,619 (55.6%)
  • Republicans: 959,120 (25.7%)
  • minor parties – Libertarian, Green, Americans Elect, and other unrecognized: 59,644 (1.6%)
  • unaffiliated: 636,716 (17.1%)

Four years ago at the same point in the cycle, the percentages weren’t a lot different. There are now 300,000 more voters in Maryland, but numerically they line up similarly:

  • Democrats: 1,942,336 (56.9%)
  • Republicans: 909,848 (26.7%)
  • minor parties and other unrecognized: 80,034 (2.3%)
  • unaffiliated: 478,817 (14.0%)

A number of the unaffiliated are likely former Independents, which is no longer a separate category.

And I’m sure some fret that eventually the unaffiliated will catch up to the Republicans – a 3% gain every four years coupled with a 1% loss in Republicans would put that date sometime early next decade. My contention, however, is that there are a significant proportion of Democrats who are so because their primary is the only race they can vote on.

But opening up the GOP primary to unaffiliated voters isn’t going to be enough of a draw for voters who have no local Republican candidates on the ballot for whom to vote. For example, in Prince George’s County’s 2010 primary – perhaps the most unbalanced in the state – once you departed the federal and statewide races there were exactly zero contested GOP races at the legislative level and just two local races (both for Central Committee seats) where the GOP had more contenders than winners. I admire the Prince George’s GOP for their efforts (my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen hails from there) but what would help them more than anything are candidates willing to stand up and hoist the GOP banner. Allowing unaffiliated voters into the GOP primary wouldn’t change the game.

Now I’m sure those who favor the idea will argue I used the most extreme example. Yet even if every single voter not connected with the Democratic Party decided to become a Republican, AND we could attract the 10 percent or so of Democrats statewide who are affiliated that way because their daddy was a Democrat but vote straight-ticket Republican – we’re still a minority. Barely, but still looking at a deficit and up against the hardcore elements of a power-drunk party.

Personally, though, I think the idea seems to come up when the Republicans are threatening to run conservative candidates for office. When I was living in Ohio, their Republican Party always seemed to anoint the most moderate candidate and overtly try and eliminate any more conservative primary competition for that person. And what did we get? Sixteen years of ruining the Republican brand with tax-and-spend governors, particularly Bob Taft. (Unfortunately, John Kasich isn’t doing much better now that he’s been spooked by the unions.)

Here in Maryland, the talk of opening up the primary died down when Bob Ehrlich won and through the three cycles where he was the all-but-endorsed choice of the Maryland GOP apparatus there was no chatter about adding unaffiliated voters to the mix. But now that we have a more spirited competition between several good candidates, the powers-that-be are presumably trying to make sure the most moderate, “electable” candidate prevails. As a conservative, pro-liberty Marylander who would like to see a governor tell the Democrats it’s his way or the highway, I would like a leader and not someone who sticks his finger up to see which way the wind is blowing. Mitt Romney and John McCain were supposed to be “electable” in a way that Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, et. al. were not.

If unaffiliated voters want to vote in a primary, it’s very easy to change your registration to Republican. Get good candidates worth voting for and they will come.

Update: A non-scientific poll by Jackie Wellfonder at Raging Against the Rhetoric found that support was perfectly mixed: 44% for, 44% against, and 12% undecided out of 75 who responded.

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