Weekend of local rock volume 60

May 31, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 60 

In lieu of a review this week, my WLR feature is hitting the big six-oh with some scenes from last weekend’s Concert for a Random Soldier, which occurred at American Legion Post 28 in Oak Orchard, Delaware (close by Long Neck.) This is one of a handful of local fundraising concerts that have become a tradition, with another I generally frequent being (Save the) Breastfest in September during Bike Week.

There were actually eight bands and four acoustic acts on the CFARS bill, with the latter reserved for set changes. We arrived later than planned, so we missed exactly half – these were mainly the oldies acts (Oh Boy, 33 1/3, The Runner-Ups, and The Funsters) and two acoustic ones (The Volcanoes and Bryan Scar.) In fact, we arrived just as the Mari Hill Band was closing up shop.

Since there was no acoustic act slotted after Mari Hill, I wandered around a bit. Earlier in the day there was a car show, but by the time I got photos this old guy was pretty much all that was left.

As a little bit of history, the CFARS was set up in memory of Chad Clifton, a Delaware native who was killed in Iraq in 2005. A foundation was set up in his name, with this particular event benefiting an organization called Guitars for Vets.

In keeping with the veteran theme, the Veterans United Outreach of Delaware had a trailer full of information as needed.

After all that, the hard rock of Factor was ready to hit the stage. They definitely appealed more to the Iraq and Afghanistan set than the Vietnam-era veterans.

Unlike the other groups, they slammed out a diet of originals with the exception of a song Chad often requested from them, “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones. Their version was a little more amped-up, though.

So it seemed a little jarring to hear the acoustic duo called Dog and Butterfly, playing a variety of lighter classics. Jim and Michele Hogsett have honed this act for several years as a side project to the former Semiblind.

They played while Judy Sings The Blues set up. And Judy was exactly as advertised.

If you don’t believe me, here’s their set list.

The day’s final acoustic act was Captain Mike and Joe Garvilla, who had fun with some easily-adapted songs like “Jack and Diane.”

I noted earlier that Jim and Michele Hogsett were in “the former Semiblind.” Over the winter they decided to change the name to Something Grey.

It was many of the same staples that Semiblind did so well, except for some issues which affected their sound – the bass kept cutting out. I happened to see their set list afterward as well – the stage area was littered with them.

I was pleased to hear them bring back “Sweet Emotion,” which was one they had on the shelf for awhile. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d heard “Her Strut,” which shows how they massage their songlist as time goes on.

So as the sun set on a beautiful night and the crowd went home, we looked back on a gorgeous day.

Next year (May 24, 2015) will be the 10th annual event, and it seems like they’ve found a good formula for success – good enough that they ran out of chicken to grill because so many came. If I can make it, I’ll be there and so should you.

The problem with Lollar

There are a lot of people who are sticking a fork into Charles Lollar’s gubernatorial campaign. Some have been doing it for several months, while others are more recent converts. Assuming the latter piece by Jackie Wellfonder is true – and there’s no real reason to believe that it’s not – it’ll be interesting to know who will pay for Lollar’s pre-debate event tomorrow.

But there is something I want to bring up regarding how Charles has conducted his campaign; not in a financial sense but the target audience. There have been several occasions where I’ve heard Lollar talk about the locations he’s campaigned, and they’re not Republican strongholds. Places like Baltimore City or Prince George’s County, where the minority populations rarely hear a GOP viewpoint because they’re areas written off by the strategists. Yet we often hear that on certain issues, particularly school choice, the minority audience is very receptive to the GOP viewpoint – unfortunately for Republicans they tend to reflexively vote Democrat.

There are many who feel that Lollar has wasted his time in such areas, but I think he’s provided a good service to the party as a whole. Certainly he’s probably not in a position to secure the GOP nomination because he’s not going to reach many voters with a positive message when all the news about him seems to be bad, but it behooves us to act in such a manner to keep him on the team if he loses. I have no idea how well David Craig, Larry Hogan, or Ron George get along with Charles, but hopefully it’s well enough to both to allow him to remain unified with the eventual primary winner and keep the Lollar supporters on the Republican team in an election where all hands are needed on deck. Unfortunately, I keep hearing that if one particular candidate wins, a fair number will stay home or leave the gubernatorial ballot blank in November. Remember, it’s very likely that our nominee will be elected by plurality based on polling results.

When the smoke clears on June 24, there will be three losers and just one winner when it comes to the nomination. Everyone believes they have a path to victory, but in reality it’s probably a two-man race at this point. As always, the trick with contested primaries is to make sure the losers stay unified with the winners. If the supporters of the losing Democrats want to take their ball and go home, that’s up to them, but I want to win as many elections as possible in Maryland for the conservative team.

So Charles should be commended for his work taking the message to places where it’s not normally heard. Win or lose, I hope he keeps on doing so.

Shorebird of the Week – May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 29, 2014 

I’m sure Shorebird fans are pleased that my prediction that Trey Mancini would skip a level and advance to Frederick coming off a season where he was named the Topps NY-Penn League Player of the Year did not come to pass. Instead, Mancini is hitting a cool .310/0/23/.736 OPS for Delmarva.

Now those stats don’t match the .328/3/35/.832 OPS he had for Aberdeen in his first taste of professional ball out of Notre Dame, but after a homestand where Trey went 13-for-32 (.406) with three doubles and six knocked in, Mancini may be on his way to matching those numbers. But a lot was expected from the eighth-round Oriole pick last year, and since he just turned 22 during spring training Trey is on a good track. Mancini is also something of an oddity, a warm-weather product (Florida native) who went north to play his collegiate ball.

Going forward, though, Mancini may need to develop a little versatility seeing that he’s a couple levels behind another hard-hitting Oriole first baseman prospect in Christian Walker, not to mention Chris Davis holding down the fort in Baltimore. At the very worst he may need to see a little time in left field, where his arm strength (or lack thereof, being a regular first baseman) wouldn’t be a liability.

It usually takes a season or two of professional ball for power hitters to find their way, and Trey reportedly is a highlight reel buring batting practice. (I also found where he won the Big East Conference home run derby in 2012.) So the lack of home runs may be the outlier among his stats, and once that power comes to the fore Mancini will make for a formidable presence in the Shorebird lineup.

Boda picks up another endorsement

See, it’s not just me. And even though he won’t have a vote, District 37B Delegate candidate Johnny Mautz weighed in with his endorsement of Wicomico County Council at-large hopeful Muir Boda.

I am proud to announce my full support and endorsement of Muir Boda for the Wicomico County Council. Muir is a close family friend and someone I believe will be an exceptional leader on the County Council.

Muir’s focus on reducing crime, strengthening the local school system, reviving the local economy, defending the revenue cap, and protecting property rights, show his local knowledge and passion for issues most relevant to Wicomico County.

Also, his family is intertwined with the history of the Eastern Shore. He knows and will respect our heritage and he will do what he can to help working men, women and small businesses in Wicomico County.

I am proud to call Muir a friend. I am looking forward to working with him on issues affecting Wicomico County and I encourage Wicomico County voters to cast a vote for Muir Boda for Wicomico County Council.

The Mautz backing is really no surprise given that Boda endorsed Mautz back in April, noting that he was a “close family friend.” But it wouldn’t hurt to have that tie-in because Johnny looks like the strongest candidate in the 37B field among those outside Wicomico County – state regulations stipulate that in a district such as 37B, only one can serve from a particular county. In short, only one of the two running from Wicomico County can advance to November so a candidate from either Dorchester or Talbot County will win the other slot. There’s also the possibility Wicomico could be shut out in the 37B race.

But what Boda needs most now is monetary assistance. While none of the candidates have a lot of money in the bank at the moment, this is a campaign where a lot can be raised and spent in the last four weeks before the election. On payday I’m writing a check to Muir, and you should too.

Hogan’s million

I wasn’t surprised to see a splashy press release last night from the Larry Hogan campaign talking about their fundraising prowess. At this point it appears he has the most money of any Republican candidate, with $389,206.92 cash on hand and $275,000 in matching funds on the way. In fact, the release states that:

The grassroots gubernatorial campaign of Anne Arundel business executive Larry Hogan continued to surge according to his latest campaign finance report. For the year, Hogan has collected $1.1 million and ends the filing period with $390,000 in cash on hand. Because Hogan declared his candidacy in late January, his campaign’s fundraising figures cover just the past six weeks. The figures reported by the other candidates for the state’s highest office began on January 9, a five and half month period.

Hogan said, “Our grassroots campaign to change Maryland continues to gain traction and unite voters who are fed up with one-party rule, runaway spending, massive tax hikes and incompetent leadership.

“While career politicians focus on winning over Annapolis elites, Boyd and I have been travelling throughout Maryland to win the support of each and every voter who is tired of politics as usual. We are humbled by the outpouring of support from average Marylanders; clearly our message of change is resonating, our election strategy is sound, and we’ll have the resources to win the GOP primary and go the distance in the general election.

The question I have with this statement is just how “grassroots” is a campaign where roughly half of the funding comes from one Larry Hogan?

According to the preliminary report I found last night on the BOE website, Hogan has loaned his campaign $500,000 – $50,000 increments apiece on February 3 and February 12, $150,000 on May 6, and $250,000 on May 19, the day before reports were due. If you consider all the in-kind contributions from Hogan and donations from Hogan-related LLC entities, the total from Larry’s pocket creeps closer to $600,000.

In essence, the difference between the other campaigns and Larry’s is that he has the bankroll to fall back upon while the others don’t. Unfortunately, as we found out with Eric Wargotz in 2010 and E.J. Pipkin in 2004, spending your way to the nomination isn’t a pathway to overall success – obviously that’s why Hogan opted for the public financing route. But his won’t be the only one to qualify for public financing, as one other campaign should reach the threshold in early June.

So we have something of an irony here – Larry Hogan is spending his own dollars to leverage a fund which was supposed to make politics accessible for a concerned middle-class citizen by leveling the playing field between them and the moneyed interests. By spending $500,000 of his own money he’s getting others to fork over $250,000 to get $2.6 million. If this doesn’t make a mockery of the idea, I don’t know what does. Maybe he should have ran for Comptroller instead, because with that magic we could eliminate all the new taxes and some old ones, too.

We’ll be hearing the name Larry Hogan a lot over the next four weeks. Now if we could only get a better idea of why we should vote for him – having a Washington Post endorsement which talks about a “conciliatory tone and reluctance to declare war on the Democratic establishment” doesn’t exactly scream bold colors over pale pastels. Even the Post concedes that “(g)iven the time (Hogan)’s had to plan his run, his campaign is glaringly short on policy specifics, and his views on education, health care and the environment are gauzy at best.” Welcome to my complaint – I like the message of changing Maryland, but cautiously recall the last time someone ran on a “hope and change” platform. Too many people bought the pig in a poke and regretted it later.

Perhaps Hogan can change my mind in Saturday’s debate, and there’s no question he’s still preferable to any of the Democrats out there because the state can’t afford yet another lost four to eight years trying to perfect the unperfectable socialist paradise. But there are a lot of questions about both his platform and how his campaign has evolved, and it’s preferable that he answer the questions rather than have them be October surprises.

Running out of time

May 27, 2014 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Running out of time 

From the tone of the e-mail I received today, it appears that the petition drive to bring the “bathroom bill” to referendum is struggling to receive support.

With one week left to gather signatures for the 1st turn-in, we need more petitions. If we receive just a few more in the mail this week, that will not be enough. We are asking for help from everyone reading this email. Your own signature is not enough for this petition drive to succeed.

Would you be willing to ask your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to sign the petition?

Over the next 5 days, we need thousands of signatures to meet the deadline. If you do not want for your daughters and granddaughters to have to be concerned about the risk of having a pedophile or sex-offender freely using the women’s restroom, I sincerely hope that you will act now. If we do not act now, the safety and privacy of our families will be at risk when this law goes into effect, October 1st.

Whether consciously or not, the backers of the bill may have found a route to success. People are so busy assisting other campaigns that they don’t seem to have a lot of time to help out with this petition. And to be quite honest, the experience of 2012 and losing on three different ballot measures is probably souring people on the whole referendum process. Why go through the whole petition process only to lose?

Moreover, it’s guaranteed that opponents are going to be painted with the “homophobic bigot” brush regardless of their legitimate concerns about privacy. Unfortunately, not every facility has a “family” restroom or locker room where the tiny percentage of Maryland residents who are dealing with these gender selection issues can be themselves. Most places only have men’s and women’s restrooms because that how all but a tiny portion are made.

Along a political line, there may also be a thought in the back of the mind of some Republican statewide candidates that anything with the potential to turn out Democratic voters should be avoided – again this goes back to the 2012 experience. Everything from the electorate to the ballot language for some of the provisions seemed to be stacked against conservatives in that election and there’s no reason to assume there won’t be headwinds this time out.

Yet regardless of the prospect for success in November, the message that failure to achieve the proper number of signatures would send is one that the General Assembly can bully the people of Maryland into whatever progressive wet dream they desire. If you prefer to keep the women’s restroom limited to women, make sure to sign the petition and get it back by Thursday – there has to be about 19,000 valid signatures collected by May 31 to advance to the full requirement of about 56,000 signatures by June 30. Once the primary is over, people can go pedal to the metal to finish the job in the last week but they have to make this May 31 deadline first.

The no-show

May 27, 2014 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on The no-show 

Slings and arrows go to the frontrunner in almost any race, but in this case they pit one group of Democrats against another who is seemingly coasting on his family name. I got this from Delegate Kathleen Dumais; a “letter to the editor” which was sent from the law firm for whom she is Senior Counsel. It reads as follows:

As members of the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate, we must comment on the recent articles about Jon Cardin’s missed votes.

We have been trying to wrap our heads around his unacceptable attendance record and want to say clearly and unequivocally: under no circumstances should a member of the legislature selectively decide to skip 75% of his or her committee votes.

The significant work of the legislature is done in committee. Hearings on bills are held, debate takes place, negotiation over language occurs and amendments are adopted before the bills move forward. This process is the key element of our daily work during the legislative session.

As legislators we must be held to a higher standard because we work for the public. Choosing when to show up for work is not an option. We have a contract with the voters of our state to put them first. Our constituents have to show up to work 100% of the time. So do we.

Jon’s comment that he cleared his absences with his Committee Chair and that he never would have skipped a committee voting session if he thought his absence would have made a difference in the outcome on an important issue completely misses the point. The fact is his absence during the critical decision-making process that takes place during committee voting sessions means he also missed the crucial action that precedes the final committee votes and brings into question his preparedness on the House Floor itself since he was operating without full information.

We are deeply disappointed by Jon’s cavalier attitude toward his job and the suggestion that what we do in Annapolis in our committee is not important.

Contrast this behavior with that of another candidate for Attorney General, Senator Brian Frosh. Frosh did not miss a single vote in 2014 in the Judicial Proceedings Committee, which he has brilliantly led for the past 12 years. He did what we did. Brian Frosh showed up and did his work.

People are going to have a choice on June 24th. Our choice is to vote for and support the candidate that deserves a promotion, not the one that decided to take a pass this year.

We are proud to support our colleague, Brian Frosh for Attorney General. He has the skills and experience to lead and he will be a partner we can count on. (Link added.)

The Democratic race for Attorney General is quite interesting as all three aspirants are leaving seats in the General Assembly to vie for the job. Delegate Cardin obviously has the name recognition, so the backers of Senator Frosh are making a point about Cardin’s “cavalier attitude” – dare I say it’s one of entitlement? (For the record, the other Democratic officeseeker is Delegate Aisha Braveboy, with the winner facing Republican Jeffrey Pritzker in November.) Polling on the race is scarce, but Cardin led a February poll by a nine-point margin over Braveboy, with Frosh a distant third and Delegate Bill Frick (who eventually chose not to run) bringing up the rear. Much of that margin had to be simple name recognition.

But forget ducking a debate, as some on the Republican side have been accused of doing – Cardin is simply not doing what he was elected to do. One has to ask if Jon Cardin will even run for re-election for Attorney General or try to talk his uncle into retiring from the United States Senate – after all, succeeding his uncle was how Ben got his first political office so it must be an acceptable family practice.

Yet there is another lesson to be learned here. Read the description of committee work painted by Dumais again:

The significant work of the legislature is done in committee. Hearings on bills are held, debate takes place, negotiation over language occurs and amendments are adopted before the bills move forward. This process is the key element of our daily work during the legislative session.

In doing research for my monoblogue Accountability Project, I read through a lot of legislation. If a bill passes through committee as “favorable with amendment” it is generally amended by Democrats – sometimes good, but usually bad. On the other hand, most Republican amendments have to be made from the floor and voted on there; normally they die a painful 35- to 45-vote death. (Senate floor amendments die with 10 to 15 votes.) Case in point: the pro-life amendments I discussed the other day.

Yet there were a couple of really egregious bills where I noted the difference in the Senate committee was one vote – usually there are 11 on a Senate committee and at least one bad measure – an increase in the scope of prevailing wage – passed 6-5. (Prohibitions on smoking with a minor in the car and the use of tanning devices by minors only failed on 6-5 votes as well.) As a rule, bills which pass committee become law so the committee level is extremely important.

Perhaps Cardin’s vote would not have mattered, since it’s rare to see a House committee vote decided by a single tally. But one has to ask whether the politically ambitious nephew of our current Senator is going to pay attention to his job if he becomes Attorney General, or just use it as a resume enhancement for higher office.

A Memorial Day perspective 2014

May 26, 2014 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on A Memorial Day perspective 2014 

Normally on Memorial Day I recount the events of our county’s Memorial Day service, which is generally a rather brief ceremony of about a half-hour that I regularly attend. In it, current and retired living members of the military pay homage to those 190 men and women from Wicomico County killed on the field of battle since World War I.

But this evening, as the sun sets on another Memorial Day weekend, I would like to look forward. This is intended in no way whatsoever to dismiss the memory of those who sacrificed. Yet on Memorial Day 2015 some among us will once again wring our hands and fret that the majority of the populace treats Memorial Day as just an excuse to kick off summer with a three-day weekend.

For the better part of a century, Memorial Day was generally assigned the date of May 30. Whichever day of the week it fell on, people paused to remember the fallen – and at the time it was changed by an act of Congress in 1968 (taking effect in 1971) we were in the midst of a war in which many thousands of Americans were killed. Perhaps it’s a change in attitude as the memories of massive worldwide conflict perish with the last generation that fought in a major two-front war, but in the years since war has seemed to become that event which occupies the news cycle for a period of days when major incidents occur then fades back into the noise of everyday life.

It pains me to see the memory of those who perished be reduced to what amounts to a three-day party by many of those who may well be consigned to a life of slavery without the efforts of those who fought and died.

And don’t get me wrong – while some may argue I’m not in a position to speak because I didn’t serve in the military, being fortunate enough to come of age in a time of relative peace and prosperity under Ronald Reagan, I still feel my opinion is valid as a citizen of a great nation in danger of losing its moorings. If we can deal with the fact that Independence Day remains on July 4 and Veterans Day is always November 11, I think Memorial Day should return to May 30 regardless of the day of the week it falls on. That beloved three-day weekend would have still been in effect this year as the 30th falls on a Friday, but I think the purpose of the day has been diluted because it’s always placed on a Monday. There’s no doubt those in the tourism industry and retailers who think the three-day weekend jumpstarts summer sales will scream bloody murder, but they can make do.

So as you prepare for the shortened work week, think about what returning to a specific day may mean for the aspects of patriotism, love of country, and appreciation of sacrifice.

AC Week in review: May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry · Comments Off on AC Week in review: May 25, 2014 

AC logo.As you likely recall from previous posts, recently I announced my newest client, American Certified, and earlier this month I joined three other bloggers to kick off the blog portion of the e-commerce site. My subsite is called The Sausage Grinder, and in that space I focus on issues of importance to making things in America; specifically, the areas of trade, energy, and regulation.

And while I had discussed the possibility of cross-posting between my site and TSG, I think it may work out better – since I strive to do three to four posts a week for the American Certified site – to debut a weekly feature where I summarize and link to my posts on their site. You’ll find the subject matter and style are different enough to where it almost seems like it’s not my writing. In truth, I model these posts on those I submit twice weekly to the Patriot Post, with a different “sweet spot” of about 300-400 words.

In my debut, I pondered the effect of new power plant regulations on the coal industry. There’s something else I’ll share about that one shortly.

Next, I tackled energy issues and political involvement as part of a Kentucky visit by National Association of Manufacturers President/CEO Jay Timmons. I didn’t note this in the story, but NAM endorsed Mitch McConnell during the visit and he indeed emerged victorious against primary challenger Matt Bevin.

The final two I’ll highlight could have served as a couplet, for I discussed the GOP thawing toward a higher minimum wage and the fact that wages for STEM workers aren’t increasing rapidly because we have a glut of them in this country, despite calls by some to allow more foreign STEM workers in.

If you read about the new power plant regulations, you’ll notice I alluded to a previous article I wrote. When I sent in pieces to populate the blog in the week or so before launch, I was assuming they would all find their way onto the site, but it looks like some didn’t. If they’re not going to be used, I may seed them in with this week’s regular posts as supplemental material – why let good writing go to waste? The pieces are more or less evergreen.

But since having the context is good, here is the post about the rally, titled “Ohio rally first of several condemning steel dumping.”

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In advance of a Commerce Department ruling expected in July on whether South Korea is illegally dumping a product known as Oil Country Tubular Goods, or OCTG, the first of several rallies organized by the advocacy group Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) occurred last week in Lorain, Ohio. The U.S. Steel Lorain Tubular site was selected to be first as its products compete directly with those Korean imports.

Sen. Sherrod Bown (D – Ohio) claimed that imports comprised half of the American OCTG market, with South Korea being a major culprit. In its own report, the AAM suggests that “(t)hese conditions make it impossible for domestic mills to take advantage of strong demand resulting from drilling in shale gas fields.”

But a local news report noted all was not bad news, as another Lorain steel plant unveiled that same day a $110 million electric arc furnace which promises to create 450 jobs. The Republic Steel facility got a sendoff from Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and several Republic Steel officials, who pointed out the new furnace adds 1 million tons of capacity for the plant and could add $1 billion in economic activity to the state and local area.

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Finally, by all means you should check out the other bloggers (Ed Braxton, George Pitsakis, and Kim Pezza) as well. They touch on a number of different subjects and give the site a more well-rounded perspective.

monoblogue music: “Moanin’ at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project” by Tomas Doncker Band

May 24, 2014 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Moanin’ at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project” by Tomas Doncker Band 

The forthcoming release will be out July 8.

You’ve seen the name Tomas Doncker in this space before, as his band has served as backup musicians for True Groove Records labelmates Marla Mase and Lael Summer, whose releases I’ve previously reviewed. But this time Doncker serves as the frontman for a project a couple years in the making that’s near and dear to his heart – a tribute to the late bluesman (and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame member) Howlin’ Wolf.

But while Doncker puts his stamp on seven of Howlin’ Wolf’s classics, mainly released between 1958 and 1962, he also adds a couple originals in the same vein. Blind Melon Morpheus (Missed the Train) is the harmonica-solo introduction to Shook Down, and if you didn’t know they were originals you may have thought they were outtakes from the master himself, with a dash of additional organ and background harmony on the latter. The compilation also features both a more traditional offering of Moanin’ at Midnight and what Doncker calls the “Ras Jah Ames Dubmix” with more echo and sampling to close the set.

Fans of bluesy rock probably know the songs as many have been covered by various artists over the years, with perhaps the best known being Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart’s rendition of I Ain’t Superstitious. Doncker’s version is far more upbeat than the Beck/Stewart version, honed to a toe-tapping tempo and featuring a heavy emphasis on the harmonica. And when it’s vowed in the spoken word portion of Smokestack Lightning that “I’m gonna show you how to play the blues,” Doncker delivers – although I think it’s expressed even better in his rendition of Back Door Man, with a great guitar coda.

This isn’t to say the lesser-known songs don’t have highlights. With just a hint of keyboards, the guitar-driven Evil is a great introduction to the set, which transitions well to the slower and more traditional Killing Floor. But I thought the best (if not necessarily truest) rendition on the album was that of Spoonful, which mixes great harmonies and a sizzling solo that make you want another one.

Howlin’ Wolf packed a lot of music into a relatively short recording career – he was in his late forties when his first solo record came out, and he only lived to the age of 65. But he lived at a pivotal time in musical history, and his impact is well remembered by Doncker in his tribute. If you don’t believe me, listen for yourself and pick up the album when it comes out July 8.

A thin case of semantics

I haven’t weighed in much on the Senate District 4 primary race between incumbent David Brinkley and challenger Delegate Michael Hough except to point out that Hough’s score on the monoblogue Accountability Project has been significantly better over the last four years as part of my summary within.

But the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is reaching back 18 years to reinforce its belief that David Brinkley is pro-abortion, as they dredged out a procedural vote on a 1996 bill which would have banned partial-birth abortion in the state. It was a bill which failed in committee, so its sponsor tried to bring it back as a substitute bill and Brinkley voted against consideration, as did a handful of other Republicans whose names I recognize from that long-ago session.

I also noticed another name among the opponents, and that was Addie Eckardt. I don’t think she’s pro-choice in the least, but it’s interesting that the Senate version of that 1996 bill was co-sponsored by Richard Colburn.

Now I can better understand the logic of equating a vote for a budget which happens to have abortion funding as a tiny proportion of the whole, or not advocating more for the advancement of the PCUCPA bill – which didn’t even get a committee vote – than using this particular vote to paint a candidate with that broad of a brush. I know my opinions on some subjects are different now than they were in 1996, in particular the so-called War on Drugs and term limits, so this is an overreach in criticism as I see it. What Brinkley didn’t vote for in 1996 isn’t as relevant as what no one got to vote for in 2014.

Something that was voted on in 2014, in both the Senate and the House, was an amendment to remove taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Needless to say, neither version passed as the House amendment from Delegate Susan Aumann failed 84-48 and the Senate version lost 29-16. The sponsor of the Senate version? David Brinkley. This is based on information from Maryland Right to Life, which did a three-vote scorecard covering both the Brinkley and Aumann amendments as well as an amendment from Delegate Tony O’Donnell to limit taxpayer funding of third-trimester abortions. Delegate Hough went 2-for-2, as did most other Republicans in the House (Delegate Robert Costa didn’t vote on the O’Donnell amendment and Delegate Bill Frank missed both votes), while all but one Republican voted for the Brinkley amendment – Senator Allan Kittleman was the lone no vote. (If only the GOP were as united on several other issues, but I digress.) They also pointed out the failure of PCUCPA to get a vote.

This is what I mean by seriously reaching. It’s pretty likely that a Republican will be pro-life to one extent or another; on the other hand pro-life Democrats are few and far between. Of course, the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance could pick almost any of those standard-issue Democrats as the “Pro-Abort Legislator of the Year;” my choices would be the committee chairs who wouldn’t even give PCUCPA a vote.

Some may say I’m the pot calling the kettle black given my criticism of certain Republicans in various races. My beef is generally in one of two categories: issue obfuscation or pandering to a particular audience. Thus I have a preference for candidates who spell out a platform which is bold. Say what you will about Heather Mizeur’s views on the issues, but at least she makes no bones about being way out on the last strands of that left-wing feather and clearly states her reasoning.

But there is a point where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. The pro-life movement could do far worse than have David Brinkley re-elected, so maybe the MPLA should train its fire where it will do more good. Check out the pro-abortion votes from Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, for example – wins there from Carl Anderton, Jr. and Mike McDermott, respectively, will do far more good for the pro-life community than this internecine squabble.

Shorebird of the Week – May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 22, 2014 

Jimmy Yacabonis pitching on Opening Night.

Streaks are made to be broken, and somewhere along the line the 15-inning scoreless streak Jimmy Yacabonis has put up to open his Shorebird career will come to an end. In the meantime, however, he’s proving to be a reliable closer for a resurgent Shorebird staff which has been the strength of the team for most of the season.

Jimmy, who came to the Orioles organization through St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, leads the South Atlantic League with 10 saves to date. The 22-year-old New Jersey native had somewhat of a prospect status coming in, as he was drafted in the 13th round last year and pitched for Aberdeen rather than down in the Gulf Coast League, the usual fate of players coming from smaller colleges. While he only picked up four saves for the IronBirds, Jimmy closed out in 12 of his 18 appearances and allowed just 15 hits in 29 2/3 innings last year. Even with a high walk rate – 14 free passes in 29 2/3 innings – his WHIP was an outstanding 0.98, and that’s probably the basis for his achieving closer status with Delmarva this year.

If there’s any flaw with Jimmy’s game, it is the base on balls. Batters are only hitting a puny .122 against Yacabonis this year (and just .149 last year) so his pitches are apparently difficult to square up. Unfortunately, too many fall outside the strike zone so 10 walks already in 15 innings may be a concern going forward as he reaches higher levels with more discerning hitters. Out of 14 appearances, only three are “clean” in terms of facing the minimum number of hitters (in other words, a 1-2-3 inning.) Of course, Oriole fans of yore may remember a sloppy but effective enough reliever by the name of Don Stanhouse, but unlike “Full Pack” Jimmy is on the right side of walks vs. strikeouts.

Yacabonis is getting enough outs to achieve the saves, and that’s what counts.

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