monoblogue music: “Big Man” by Idiot Grins

October 31, 2015 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Big Man” by Idiot Grins 

The name of the band alone should be worth something.

But the record itself takes a tack that may be one of the most intriguing of any collection I’ve heard in a long time. It starts out as a throwback to those old stacks of wax your parents may have accumulated – those big, brassy mixtures of soul and R&B that regularly found the top of the charts before disco took a sledgehammer to that scene and rap then came along to douse it with gasoline and watch that m.f. burn.

Now the one thing I can quibble over as a matter of personal preference is that the song titles often have no reference to the lyrics. But whether it’s the harmonies of How To Get To (Baltimore), the peppiness of Stack This, or some nice slow-dancers in Big Man, All Alone, or One Reason, the initial eight songs are a refreshing homage to that bygone era. If it were just an eight-song EP and you liked that retro brand of music, you would be pleased with the result.

But then comes Paso Robles, Ovaltang, and Sour Man. After you figure out these guys have the chops to do that old-fashioned soul music, they throw in the curveball on those last three tracks of borrowing liberally from the country music of that era. As I listened, it was an amazing transformation as they slowly worked the R&B elements back in. To turn a phrase, I was sitting there with an idiot grin on my face trying to figure out for the life of me how that combo came up and how they pulled it off.

I also must say that the lyrics were thoughtful at times. Two good examples were the questioning of God, asking for “one reason you put me here” (from One Reason) or the lament of “you made a sour old man/from a boy once sweet” from Sour Man. Overall, there are some challenging topics brought into the music, although when I saw the first song referred to Baltimore I was expecting something other than what I got – and that’s good. No sense getting the reviewer mad on track 1.

So let me revise and extend my earlier remarks based on the last two paragraphs. If you like something that’s rather unique and varied, you’ll probably like this album. It certainly surprised me. As for the combination, Idiot Grins guitarist and album producer Randy Strauss explained, “Soul and country come from the same place – the heart.”

I can’t give you the whole thing to listen to, but I can give you the single Poppy Piss. (Don’t ask me on the name.) It may be just one, but surely you can hunt them down on social media and beg for more.

monoblogue music: “Go By Myself” by Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders

October 31, 2015 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Go By Myself” by Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders 

I guess I’m becoming an old hand at this because I’m now doing subsequent releases from artists I’ve previously reviewed. Last year I took a look at Australian country-rocker Billy Roberts and his band, and was impressed enough that “The Last of the Originals” made it into my top five for the year.

However, I cautioned in that review that Roberts needed to work on his vocal range because he sings in a monotone fashion, and this album only has a few points of modest improvement. Perhaps the best examples of writing to suit his voice come on Who Do You Think You Are and the title track, where he moans about going by himself “from a world gone wrong/from a love gone bad.”

Yet if you listen strictly to the music, it could be argued that Roberts is stepping back a bit from the country side of country-rock and going in an edgier direction. Menacing guitar has always made me enjoy a song more, and that is used to good effect on the opening song Beat Down and Broken. While you may hear quite a bit about the subject in that genre, Driving doesn’t come across as a country song, either. From The Ashes is the best example of a country rocker.

If there is one aspect where Roberts stays within his classic country influences, though, it’s in the heartbreak and desolation he writes about. Be warned: this isn’t an upbeat album. The resignation of Forget About Me, lamenting about missing Kayla, singing about Hard Times, the snarly mood of Seen It All Before – it all comes to a somber climax on Goodbye Old Friend, which closes the set.

One song that got me, though, was Gone To The Dogs, because it’s about Detroit – and to a large extent he’s right. I could make a political case why, but that’s for other posts. (If you’re one of those who come here strictly for music reviews, understand that most of my other content is political and I grew up an hour south of Motown, so that song had a particular appeal.)

There are artists who have scored big even without vocals that could win “The Voice,” and it’s because they write songs catering to their strengths. There are also those who lead the band and don’t sing, hiring a vocalist and concentrating on writing great music. Knowing this was a second effort, I was a little disappointed that the move forward was so modest because the vocals actually regressed a bit in my mind. I liked “The Last Of the Originals” a lot in 2014, but this latest release is a step or two back.

As always, I invite you to judge for yourself. Maybe this album won’t make my top five this year, but musically I like the direction Billy Roberts is taking – here’s hoping next time he puts it all together.

Pulling the plug

October 30, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Mainstream media, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Pulling the plug 

Apparently the GOP has had enough.

I didn’t watch the CNBC debacle the other night, but the political tongues are still wagging about it and RNC Chair Reince Priebus took the drastic action of pulling the remaining GOP debate slated for an NBC network off the air. To many the question is: what took you so long?

It’s long been thought that the news networks (with the exception of Fox News) are less than honest brokers when it comes to the GOP, yet our side dutifully went to them hat in hand to televise a share of the debates. As the story goes, the RNC was already suspicious of NBC. (since they own and operate the notoriously left-wing MSNBC) so they insisted the NBC debate be put on CNBC and stick to economic topics. As we now know, that did not happen.

Certainly Priebus was feeling the heat from the campaigns, some of which were slated to meet this weekend to discuss changes they’d like to see. (One of them was Bobby Jindal’s campaign, whose spokesperson Gail Gitcho called the top-ten debate criteria “delusional.” And she’s right, since polling at the early stage of a campaign is all name recognition.)

The suggestion they’re making sounds vaguely familiar to me: two prime-time debates each night, with the field for each randomly selected. That would have given everyone a shot to improve themselves, particularly in the first debate or two. It worked for Carly Fiorina, but as the debates go on, being outside the top ten becomes a self-perpetuating state, while being in the top ten doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate is doing well. Jeb Bush has better, really cool things to do, you know.

One thing which needs to be done in these debates is get some better questions. We don’t need “gotcha” questions, but substantive ones. Why not a robust debate on entitlements or birthright citizenship? There are several subjects where Republicans have legitimate differences, so let them go at it and even question each other – no time limit, and the moderator just keeps a little order.

Think about this, too: why don’t the Democrats ever do a debate on Fox News? I looked it up and over the last three contested cycles (2016, 2008, 2004) Fox News has shared a feed on ONE Democratic debate, out of about 40 or so. Ask yourself why they don’t try and expand their base and present their ideas to cable’s largest news audience, and maybe the idea of the mainstream media being characterized as a Democratic SuperPAC makes more sense.

It’s too bad I can’t moderate the debate, or at least ask the questions. If you want to discuss middle-class concerns – as these journalists, some of whom make millions of dollars a year, purport to do – get some questions from average folks about real issues they face. (No, fantasy football is not a real issue.)

I decided to do my own research before I made my decision, and I’m glad I did. When debates became more about entertainment than enlightenment, that’s where they lost this voter.

More urban renewal needed

October 29, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items · Comments Off on More urban renewal needed 

This story came on my radar yesterday, but while I was sitting at home tonight it came to my thinking how our landscape will be affected. Apparently Walgreens and Rite Aid are merging, which means the local landscape that changed when Rite Aid bought Eckerd a few years back will change again.

In my old job I had to visit all of the Rite Aids from Salisbury and U.S. 13 east to Ocean City and from Lewes, Delaware to Exmore, Virginia – 21 in all, including a couple that were built or significantly remodeled during the couple years I stopped by on a monthly basis. In some of these towns and locations the Rite Aid stores moved into former Eckerd locations, leaving the old building just down the road as a vacant reminder. Two in particular, the former Rite Aids on Civic Avenue in Salisbury and in Seaford, have sat empty for about eight years since the two chains merged in 2007.

Now we have the same potential with Walgreens. In the local area they have five stores: two in Salisbury and one apiece in Ocean Pines, Delmar, Delaware, and Laurel, Delaware. Of the two Salisbury Walgreens stores, one sits a block away from a competing Rite Aid while the other is about a mile down Mt. Hermon Road from its respective Rite Aid (which was an Eckerd) – the long-shuttered former Rite Aid I noted earlier sits about halfway between them.

The Walgreens in Ocean Pines is a stone’s throw away from the Rite Aid that was just renovated earlier this year, while the competing Delmar locations sit catty-corner at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Line Road – Walgreens in Delaware and Rite Aid in Maryland. It’s hard to imagine two locations in the small town of Laurel co-existing, either.

Simply put, these communities will soon have a vacant building on their hands. Whether it’s brand new like Ocean Pines would invariably be or an older facility, in many of these cases these are freestanding buildings which few seem to have a use for – hence, the long-term vacancies.

The modern pharmacy isn’t just the place where you get prescriptions filled anymore. Most of the Rite Aids I serviced had a modest grocery section included as well as cleaning supplies, toys, and a plethora of HBA products to complement the pills of all sorts. For these box stores, then, we need out of the box thinking. It wouldn’t surprise me if we got a deal on one for a 2016 Republican headquarters, since we seem to inhabit empty storefronts every two years. The South Salisbury location would be good for traffic, as we’ve been in that area a couple times before.

Yet it’s another sign of the times, and while I can’t say I’m surprised it’s sad to think of all those adversely affected by the store closings soon to come. I know some good Rite Aid folks who may be a little nervous now.

Campaign finance, Salisbury style

October 28, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2015 - Salisbury, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off on Campaign finance, Salisbury style 

With just a week to go before the election, we finally learned who was giving and receiving the most money of the dozen-plus candidates running for office in the city of Salisbury. (Thanks to the Salisbury Independent for sharing the city’s information in their summary.)

After reading through the various reports, one thing is clear: Jake Day is great at raising money. Despite the fact we learned weeks ago he would be unopposed, contributors have still dropped nearly $25,000 in his campaign coffers. (As I recall, there are options to wind down a campaign account once the cycle is through, so Day may have the opportunity to select from a number of willing groups and share the wealth.)

Last time around in the former District 1, Shanie Shields outraised and outspent her two opponents, one of which was the current office seeker April Jackson. The same is holding true this time, as Shields holds a roughly 3-to-1 fundraising advantage over her two opponents combined. Newcomer Sarah Halcott is the third person in the race.

The advantage is even more pronounced in District 2, with Muir Boda miles ahead of his three opponents. Before I go on, I will disclose that I am a recipient of advertising money from Boda, but two things jumped out at me from his opposition.

First, Keyvan Aarabi only lists $200 in contributions but nearly $900 in spending, so the question is whether they failed to report candidate loans. (Perhaps they made that oversight.) But that’s better than not reporting at all, which Marvin Ames failed to do. The third aspirant, Justin Gregoli, reported his activity did not meet the threshold for itemizing.

In District 3, where two incumbents are battling it out, Jack Heath has raised money while Tim Spies is funding his own efforts, vowing to return contributions. Compared to Heath, newcomer Kevin Lindsay barely registers, having raised just $370 for his bid.

After I disclose that District 4’s Roger Mazzullo is also an advertiser, let me point out that he is by far the most successful political newcomer when it comes to fundraising, raising $3,450 so far compared to outgoing Mayor Jim Ireton’s $870. (In an effort to portray himself as the little guy, Ireton is limiting contributions to $20 – of course, he has the advantage of name recognition that Mazzullo has to spend money to build.)

Finally, since Laura Mitchell is unopposed in District 5 she filed the report stating she had raised and spent less than $600. Given that District 5 voters have no choices on the ballot I would be surprised if more than 100 show up. Turnout in city elections is already abysmal, so 200 to 250 votes in any district may be plenty.

(A total of 2,775 voters participated in the 2013 election, which was citywide and had all contested races. With the lack of a mayor’s race and no contest in one district, I think we’ll be hard-pressed to see 2,000 votes total. Hope they surprise me.)

As we enter the home stretch, we will see what the candidates do to maximize their positions. If money equals votes, City Council could be very receptive to the pro-business side of Jake Day’s agenda.

Grassroots appeal?

October 27, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Grassroots appeal? 

Lost in all the bluster of the Donald Trump phenomenon is the fact he doesn’t really have much of a grassroots organization, at least until now. But in my e-mailbox is the first indication that’s about to change.

The Trump movement that swept the nation and changed Republican politics forever has finally arrived in Maryland. Supporters of Donald J. Trump announced today a grassroots campaign to organize neighborhood outreach and meetings in every Congressional District in Maryland.

Marking their calendar for the CNBC-hosted Republican debate scheduled for October 28 (8 pm), the Maryland For Trump campaign is asking Trump supporters to join debate-watch parties across the state and rally for their candidate.

Pointing to a recent statement by Breitbart, Maryland political activist Ruth Melson noted: “The most important reason that Donald Trump should be the Republican nominee is that America needs a course correction!

Ms. Melson further noted: “Maryland is of little consequence in Republican politics.  We are now rallying for Trump because he can win Maryland in November 2016.  Trump is the only Republican who can win the General Election.”  (Emphasis in original.)

That’s interesting because Trump trails both Hillary and Bernie Sanders in the RCP average – on the other hand, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson lead Clinton in hypothetical matchups, albeit some of the polling is three months old. Nationally, though, Carson has edged ahead of Trump among GOP voters.

Both Carson and Trump have wide swaths of somewhat disorganized supporters who seem to exist in their own vacuums for the most part. Because they have won elected office, others like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz have their own support organizations left over from previous runs – in their cases, the votes were cast in one state but the campaigns were nationwide. Most of the others in the race have similar networks, some cultivated from previous presidential runs.

Yet aside from his immigration stance and his slogan, supporters might be hard-pressed to come up with what Donald Trump stands for. Certainly he’s the most polarizing figure in the race, with a significant percentage stating they wouldn’t vote for Trump under any circumstances. That grassroots is arguably just as devoted as the Trumpets are.

I know it’s anecdotal evidence, but in dealing with over 300 people who came to our booth during the recent festivals I found a good number of Trump supporters but also a batch who would have filled an “anyone but Trump” jar. This was either because they thought he was an a–hole or because they regarded the whole thing as a sideshow.

With just a few months left before the primary, the Trump campaign may be getting the hint they have to cater to actual voters on the ground. Celebrity can get a lot of people to a rally, but those with a casual interest want to know what is in it for them. Trump dishes out what he thinks is red meat, but to me it’s all sizzle and no steak with no ground game.

WCRC meeting – October 2015

October 26, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2015 - Salisbury, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – October 2015 

After a delay of a month caused by a trial that resulted in a conviction, we got to hear from Matt Maciarello tonight as our featured speaker. So we did the usual Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and roster of distinguished guests before received the treasurer’s report.

Matt went over the two key issues we’re having – juvenile crime and the opioid epidemic. Most of his time was spent talking about the latter, although he noted specific information on overdoses was hard to come by due to HIPAA restrictions. It was possible to deduce this information from other factors, though.

Noting that “you can’t arrest your way out of the problem,”  Maciarello pointed out that the county had what he described as an “opioid reduction officer,” who was tasked with, among other things, figuring out what other states were doing. One example Matt used was the TROSA program in North Carolina, where rehabbing addicts were both treated and taught one of five trades.

Closer to home Matt wanted to see a 24-hour call center established so those in need could be connected to resources like available treatment beds. He also wanted to differentiate the legal approach to those who sold heroin for profit as opposed to those who sold it to feed their habits, although the idea was to get both off the streets. He also advocated for better coordination of treatment, explaining that support shouldn’t end when a patient leaves the center. Many people need methadone treatment for months or even years afterward, he added.

Yet there was a compassionate side to the approach. Matt believed we needed to “take away the shame from opioid addiction” because it’s touched a lot of lives and people shouldn’t be discouraged from getting help. Many times the problem began with over-prescription of legal drugs or kids accessing their parents’ medication, Eventually this can lead to heroin addiction, which is dangerous because of how the drug is “cut” with other compounds.

Juveniles were also a concern for Maciarello, who noted we have “a critical mass of anti-social teens.”  Matt seemed a little frustrated with the current juvenile system, which he had “broad philosophical issues” with. A different path he spent some time encouraging was that of mentoring, for which there is a critical need based on a lengthy waiting list of youth looking for one. Even an hour a week can make a difference, said Matt! and he encouraged the club to be a leader in that regard. We were pleased to learn County Executive Bob Culver was on board with this idea, as Culver revealed some employee policy changes to accommodate the need were in the works.

Opioids accounted for about 70 percent of the crime problem, but overall Matt’s goal was “to set the model for the state” on reversing the problem.

All that was a tough act for City Council candidate Roger Mazzullo to follow, so he stuck more to his pro-business agenda. He wanted to work with the new mayor on bringing jobs and industry to the city through incentives; however, he also mentioned the desire to address youth crime through more activities for the youth. As a neophyte politician, Roger was “impressed” with the cooperation between law enforcement and the community; in turn, Maciarello praised Mazzullo for being the one candidate to meet with him and raise “thoughtful questions.”

One thing I asked, based on the marketing experience he touted, was what strengths he could use to sell Salisbury. He emphasized the rural feel of the area, but the subject somehow came atound to specific stores like Harris Teeter or Redner’s, specifically to fill the old Giant/Super Fresh location near the north Walmart. (Personally I think Redner’s would be the better fit there but I could envision either.) And you can count Mazzullo among those who want a Cracker Barrel. Still, he added “I believe in local (business),” adding he was less than impressed with his opponent’s business record as mayor.

After all that, the reports were fairly anti-climactic. On behalf of the Central Committee, Mark McIver reminded us the Lincoln Day Dinner was in less than two weeks, and we were looking for silent auction items. Thus, we secured a one-hour tennis lesson courtesy of Delegate Mary Beth Carozza (who as I recall played collegiately) and a surfing lesson from Matt Maciarello. Delegate Carl Anderton didn’t have a lesson to give, but a guided tour of the State House was a good substitute.

Alison Pulcher spoke on behalf of HERO Day, which will also occur on November 7. The main events are a 5k run and dog walk, but other events and speakers would also liven up the festivities.

I gave a brief synopsis of the fall festivals, taking the time to thank my volunteers, and also reminded the group we will need to establish a Nominations Committee by next month to select possible officers for next year. Finally, Joe Ollingrr asked if we could resume getting registration reports from the Board of Elections.

Truly, it was one of our more informative meetings of the year. The next one is slated for November 23, the Monday before Thanksgiving. It will be the final WCRC meeting of 2015.

Weekend of local rock volume 66

October 25, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 66 

(As opposed to Order 6-D6, a long-defunct local group I really liked.)

I’m not going to stretch the definition of local too much with this much more brief look back at the Autumn Wine Festival, but it will do a lot of bending to the rock part. Here’s the six-band lineup over the two days.

We  got things underway with alex&shiloh, who perhaps were the most conventIona’ acoustic group there insofar as style and playlist. I think they have done the bar stage at the Good Beer Festival, which is a handy measuring stick for that sort of thing. You’ll have to deal with the sun-splashed photos – the stage faces more or less northwest so the sun is behind it most of the day.

They yielded to the familiar local strains of Randy Lee Ashcraft. He’s been around long enough to become a legend around these parts by being not quite country but not so much rock, either. Just good listening, I guess.

Last up on a pleasant Saturday was Front Page News, which cranked out a number of familiar tunes.

They had the biggest crowd of the weekend.

Sunday started with its perennial opening act, the Backfin Banjo Band. They always start out with standards and take requests.

Instead of playing the middle on Saturday as they did last year, Such Fools played their unique style on Sunday.

We wrapped things up with the danceable On The Edge, and we needed something to dance to just to stay warm as the temperature struggled to get above 50 and we endured a couple brief showers while they were up.

Originally I thought the Sunday lineup was exactly the same as last year, but upon further review I found Such Fools switched days. Still, out of six bands three were holdovers from 2014. In fact, it seems like the turnover for the event is shrinking, and the last non-local act they took a chance with was Tim Reynolds and TR3 two years ago. Certainly I’m the first to support local music, but variety is the spice of life and the AWF used to bring in some interesting acts – onetime Bad Company touring bassist Paul Cullen played here a few years back, as I recall.

By design the Autumn Wine Festival features many of the same Maryland-based vineyards year after year. But does it have to keep the same bands, too?

monoblogue music: “Inky Ovine” by Jas Patrick

October 24, 2015 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Inky Ovine” by Jas Patrick 

I have no idea who or what “Inky Ovine” is, but whatever its inspiration was to musician Jas Patrick I want to see more of it.

There are only six songs on this EP, which is sort of a shame. But the first three are 15 minutes and 29 seconds of a musical ride that takes you from the sassy blues mashed up with a heaping helping of Southern rock that is Harpy to the more melodic power pop of Party Line (Classified) before letting you off with the reggae-flavored title track – yes, there is a song called Inky Ovine.

But take about five minutes and tell me Harpy doesn’t go down smooth like fine whiskey. The video, by the way, is also Patrick’s creation. (It’s more than a little strange, though.)

On the homeward side of the EP you have the sweet ballad Little Bug before the collection takes another musical turn into the effects-driven Didn’t Ask – a rare rock song where a pedal steel guitar feels in place. The cool thing about the song is the changeover in its second half, which reminded me of the technique often used on the early albums of prog-rockers Yes.

Perhaps the song with the broadest appeal, though, may be the closing track Snow Day. It’s the finale of the 6-song collection, but the good news is that Patrick is working out eight more for an LP release at an unspecified time.

As the story is told, Patrick was so disappointed in his last EP (“Tributaries,” released in 2012) due to the lack of studio time he could afford that he scrimped, saved, and finally outfitted his own home studio before turning to the actual music-making. Patrick plays everything on this EP except the bass and pedal steel guitar, which makes me curious about what he does for a band while touring.

And speaking of touring, Patrick is on the road quite often in the Midwest and South. In looking up his schedule, I noticed he has an upcoming show in Eaton, Ohio. While it’s been 30 years since I’ve been to the seat of Preble County – it was usually the last town I went through on my way to college down U.S. 127, and seemed to be a respectable little place – I have to say that if this guy can play in Eaton he can definitely play in Salisbury and I would look forward to it.

Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself and enjoy.

Weekend of local rock volume 65

October 23, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 65 

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, and what once was a monthly (or sometimes weekly) feature is down to two or three a year. As a guy I know would say, that’s a shame.

I also know it’s unusual to have WLR on a weekday, but this weekend I’m going to take a break from politics and do an all-music weekend – WLR today and Sunday sandwiching a music review tomorrow. Next week you may get the treat of two because I have a backlog of music to review. Besides a somewhat humdrum municipal election, it’s a quiet political time right now.

I’m starting with an event that’s become somewhat of a musical dynamo thanks to its two-stage setup, the Good Beer Festival. It featured twelve acts, with the bar stage primarily hosting acoustic acts while the main stage had full bands.

Bear in mind I also work the event so I don’t get to hear every song. Some of these are more detailed than others, but I always like to lead with the schedule to help keep track.

So I begin with the acoustic stylings of Phil Portier, who opened up on the bar stage. I will say I knew the Joe Jackson song he opened with so I could insert the “where?” at the proper place.

On the other end as Phil wrapped up was Paper To Planes, an acoustic duo hailing all the way from Kansas City.

I believe Don Adler was playing the GBF for the second or third time. But I didn’t get to see him play the unusual instrument at his feet.

Sam Birchfield was the first group where I noticed the merch table.

The Coteries at the bar stage also had merch. The New Jersey-based trio was disappointed they didn’t get to enjoy more of the event because of New Jersey traffic. They have several shows set up, which you’ll see if you look closely.

Wrapping up things on Saturday were local favorites Uprizing.

Having a local group to close in the prime slot was a little unusual. Previously they had reserved it for an up-and-coming band touring the region. I’m not sure if this will be a trend, but I liked the old approach better.

Whiskeybelly got Sunday started with an acoustic/electric combo – and a couple broken strings, which they laughed about.

On the other side, the GBF went country with the local group Haleytown – population 5. (The sign is a neat touch.)

Chris Diller set CDs and stickers at each table, and hoped people would fill the guitar case.

It always intrigues me how a guy can play so many instruments at once – needless to say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

On the main stage was the group I thought stole the show, Sub-Radio Standard. It was the group I would have expected to close out Saturday.

Ken Wenzel was the headliner, if you will, of the bar stage. He played songs off the CD.

The Will Overman Band did their country best to wrap things up. I wish I had slipped around backstage to get a photo of “Big Red” – a 1970 Chevy Suburban they tour in.

So I was a little loose with the definition of “rock” in this one. Next year may be the year to just put the rock bands on Saturday and the country stuff on Sunday, since it seems to be getting about equal billing now.

On Sunday I look at the music from the Autumn Wine Festival.

Another betrayal of the loyal base

October 22, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016 - President, Cathy Keim, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Another betrayal of the loyal base 

By Cathy Keim

On Friday, October 23, 2015, the House is set to vote on H.R. 3762, a reconciliation bill that repeals parts of Obamacare and stops federal funding of Planned Parenthood for one year. This sounds pretty good since most of the base wants to stop Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. So, why is this a poison pill once again?

According to Lifenews:

H.R. 3762 is a special once-a-year measure called the “reconciliation bill.” Unlike almost every other kind of bill, the “reconciliation bill” cannot be filibustered in the U.S. Senate — so it can pass with only 51 votes, rather than 60 (of 100 senators). Republicans currently hold a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, 54-46.

But before the bill can be considered by the Senate, it first must pass the House on October 23.

The bill contains two major sections:

* The bill would block, for one year, most federal payments to Planned Parenthood. At least 89% of federal funding of Planned Parenthood would be blocked by this bill.

* The bill would repeal a number of major components of the Obamacare health law, including two of the major provisions that will lead to rationing of lifesaving care — the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” and the “excess benefits tax.”

My first concern is that the defunding of Planned Parenthood is being added onto this bill to placate the base that was angered by Speaker Boehner pushing through a clean CR instead of fighting for defunding Planned Parenthood then. As he has done too many times before, the Speaker gave the President what he wanted without a fight. Apparently no hill is worth fighting for including a hill of tiny babies’ broken bodies being sold for profit.

In a déjà vu moment, the base was promised that the defund movement would get their moment by using the reconciliation process instead of attaching it to the CR. This bait and switch tactic has been used frequently to get something past the base.

I could have even perhaps been pacified except that now the House attaches the defund provision to a bill that only partially repeals Obamacare. We have been promised for years that our leaders would repeal Obamacare: not parts of it, but the whole sorry mess. The strongest argument for standing strong for repealing the entire Obamacare fiasco is that if it is divided into parts and the worst parts are repealed, then the others may be left to fester. It is best to root out all of the beast at one time.

Senators Mike Lee (R. Utah), Ted Cruz (R. Texas), and Marco Rubio (R. Florida) issued a joint statement today:

On Friday the House of Representatives is set to vote on a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of Obamacare. This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk. If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill. With millions of Americans now getting health premium increase notices in the mail, we owe our constituents nothing less.

Why am I bothering to even care about any of this when we all know that the President will veto the bill when it reaches his desk and we do not have the votes to override the veto?

The two reasons that stand out are to make the President, Congressmen, and Senators go on record with their position on both issues and to prepare for the real vote to repeal Obamacare once a new president is in office.

The original Obamacare Bill was foisted upon us by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with the reconciliation process, so it is only fitting that Obamacare should be repealed using the same reconciliation process. All we need is a president that won’t veto the bill.

This current effort only repeals part of Obamacare. I join with Cruz, Lee, and Rubio in demanding that our representatives make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. This is an excellent time to make an issue of it since we are all getting our new quotes on insurance. Multiple exchanges are shuttering their doors because they are losing so much money. A lot of us are facing 40% increases this year on our premiums on top of increases last year and the year before. And don’t forget that the benefits are not as good as our previous coverage, even though we are paying more.

So, by all means, use this opportunity to force the Democrats to own Obamacare. Why is the House only trying to repeal part of it? This should be a trial run for the real effort under the new President. Please, please show us some leadership and some effort. Make the case to the American people that none of this has turned out as promised. Showcase the fiascos of increased premiums, decreased coverage, broken exchanges, lack of portability, and push a bill through. Then stand strong in front of the American people and explain how the Democrats are forcing this mess upon us once again. Finally promise that you will use the same process after a new President is elected to repeal it. Line up the candidates and have them promise to sign the bill as soon as it reaches their desk. Put them on record that they will repeal Obamacare the minute that you can get the bill to them.

The base would stand up and cheer. They would be motivated to turn out in droves. The base would feel like somebody was listening to them. Instead, we have the House pushing through a partial repeal and it looks increasingly likely that we will be getting Paul Ryan as the new Speaker. Did I mention that the base feels betrayed?

We were all delighted when Mark Meadows (R-NC) made the courageous motion to replace Speaker Boehner. There seemed to be real momentum to coalesce around Daniel Webster (R-FL) so that he could reprise his role as a leader as he had done in the Florida state government, but then the rug was pulled out from under our feet and Paul Ryan is now proclaimed as the man to save us. Andy Harris has thrown his support to Ryan. Please prove me wrong, but I am expecting this to turn out poorly.

One would hope that Andy would not support Ryan unless Ryan gave up his demand that the motion to Vacate the Chair be removed, but I could not verify that it had been as of tonight.

The base is watching.

Joe says no

October 21, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016 - President, Delaware politics, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Joe says no 

I haven’t gotten around to fixing the widget yet, but now I can scratch the name of Joe Biden off the possibilities for President in 2016. In a Rose Garden speech, Biden vowed, “while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent.” Given his penchant for malapropisms, it may be a blessing for the Republicans if Biden keeps talking.

Look, John (McCain)’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.

That may be my favorite, but there are a lot of them.

Yet Biden, despite not being an official candidate, was drawing around 1 of 6 primary voters and they have to go someplace. (Surely Joe was a shoo-in in the all-important Delaware primary.) It’s not enough to close the gap between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but I imagine the bulk of Biden voters were most interested in him because he seemed like the logical successor to Barack Obama, as opposed to a woman whose claim to fame was being married to a President last elected nearly two decades ago.

In a realistic sense, though, Biden was the last obstacle to Hillary seizing the nomination. While we on the Right like to believe the Democrats are to the left of Stalin, in reality they have their moderates and centrists, too. Hillary can afford to let Sanders run to her left because that wing isn’t a majority of Democrats. Hillary also has an advantage because most states are using the primary system to determine the nominee, and those that caucus tend to be more moderate states out west.

Moreover, the cynics among us believe Hillary will skate by on whatever legal issues she has regarding Benghazi and her e-mail server. Every day she walks as a free woman reduces the chance Hillary will be campaigning from a cell. That and Bernie Sanders crumpling over from a coronary are all that Martin O’Malley (he of the 0.5% polling average) has to hope for.

So Joe Biden’s political career seems to be entering its final chapter, where he’ll be remembered as a longtime Senator, plagiarizing two-time Presidential candidate (remember, he began the 2008 campaign as one of Obama’s opponents), and two-term vice-president.

Silver-tongued would not be one of those attributes, though.

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