Odds and ends number 81

It’s Leap Day, so why not use the occasion to put up the odds and ends cluttering up the mailbox? After sifting through the stuff I thought might be useful but is now pretty much irrelevant, I’ve still come up with a post’s worth of things that take a sentence to a couple paragraphs to deal with.

As you may know, here in Maryland we have passed the halfway point of the “90 days of terror” I call the General Assembly session. While several of the items I cite aren’t on the agenda, I think you can file them under the “bright idea” category, as in “don’t give them any bright ideas.”

While the first idea (one of many Daily Signal items that caught my eye) isn’t really on the table in the state, locally they are kicking around the thought of assisting local students who want to attend Wor-Wic Community College. But Louisiana’s program is breaking the state, so it may be a cautionary tale for the county.

Look, you begin with one college campus and recent high school graduates but then the folks at Salisbury University will want in, then there will be a clamor to include other groups and schools. With any government program, mission creep is a concern and this is no exception. It’s a natural lead-in to an excellent piece by James Bovard at Mises Daily (for this the hat tip goes to my friends at Americans for Limited Government.) Once we set the precedent of free tuition, will the county ever get off the hook?

“(Politicians) realize that addicting citizens to government handouts is the easiest way to breed mass docility and stretch their power,” writes Bovard, and he is absolutely correct. Why do you think I advocate so much for starving the beast? It’s the only way out of this mess we have created.

But as the Daily Signal adds in another great piece, Republicans who want limited government find it a tough sell in minority communities despite the evidence that shoveling money into the welfare system isn’t helping. Perhaps this is because conservatives are losing the battle for debunking the lies being sold to the minorities and youth, despite Dan Bongino’s best efforts to change the narrative at the Conservative Review.

Then again, when you have the dissent-free atmosphere of college campuses these days (again from the Daily Signal), it’s easier to see why the “skulls full of mush” remain in their state.

Something that is on the docket in Maryland once again is a “death with dignity” bill. But my final piece from the Daily Signal points out that if you took Oregon’s assisted suicide rate and extrapolated the numbers nationwide, 10,529 people annually would take their own lives. By comparison, in 2013 just over 33,000 people died as a result of vehicle accidents and roughly the same number perished in firearm-related deaths. But the majority of those firearm deaths were suicides, with 11,208 being homicides. (Table 18 way back in this government report.)

So what we would be doing is likely reducing the firearm death figure by a little bit, but increasing the suicide rate by giving it less of a stigma. I’m not sure I agree with this because in this day and age it’s easy for the greedy grandkids to convince their rich grandma she is bound any day to catch Alzheimer’s and struggle on for years afterward. Why not save us, uh, we mean yourself the trouble, they would ask.

I wanted to bring up one more seeming juxtaposition in Maryland politics before I switch gears. A couple weeks back there was a candidates’ debate for the Republicans seeking the U.S. Senate seat (way too) long held by Barbara Mikulski. I believe there were five candidates present of the fourteen who filed, but the most notable absentee was Delegate Kathy Szeliga. As she noted, there was a Maryland GOP event held that same night. Under the heading of “An Amazing Event!” she wrote:

Thursday night, I was able to attend an event with three great governors… Bob Ehrlich, Charlie Baker (Mass. GOP Gov.), and Larry Hogan even stopped by! These men know how to win and govern in blue states.

We will win our U.S. Senate campaign the same way – by being authentic and showing voters that we truly care about our state and nation. Our ideas work and empower people over big government.

It’s interesting she points this out since we didn’t get to hear her ideas in the debate. On the other hand, fellow candidate Richard Douglas chided Szeliga indirectly by stating:

I am delighted to be participating in the Goucher College Republican candidate’s debate for the U.S. Senate on February 18, 2016. Only a serious family emergency could keep me away. Over many weeks, College Republicans and some of Maryland’s most devoted grassroots Republican activists have devoted enormous effort to this useful event. I warmly commend them for this effort, and from the beginning, my participation was never in doubt. Service in the armed forces and with two U.S. Senate committees teaches a vital lesson: people come first. I took that lesson to heart in Iraq, on a Navy submarine, and in the U.S. Senate as it reacted to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will never make party or President higher priorities than the people of Maryland.

As you recall, there were a series of questions I sent out to 12 of the 14 candidates (two had bad e-mail addresses so their mail bounced.) I mention this because I received Douglas’s answers yesterday as the second response to come in – haven’t heard from Szeliga yet.

Finally, if there were a third person I would like to add to monoblogue (at least on a weekly basis) it’s this lady. Each time I read Marita Noon’s posts on the political aspects of energy I nod my head in agreement, and this one was no exception – it even ties in to the lunacy on college campuses these days because this is what some of these crackpots do after college. I give you the movement to “keep it in the ground”:

“Keep it in the ground” is the new face of environmental activism. If those who understand the role energy plays in America and our freedoms don’t engage, don’t attend meetings and send statements, and don’t vote, the policy makers have almost no choice but to think these vocal few represent the many.

For example, there’s the case of Sandoval County, New Mexico, which has potential to be a wealthier county but can’t even give permission to drill an exploratory well without angst:

In the past few years, when oil prices were higher, Encana and WPX drilled some 200 wells in the same geology, 70 of them in Sandoval County. Not one single instance of any interference, damage, or invasion of fresh water aquifers has occurred. For that matter, over the past 50 years of production in Sandoval County, even with technology and safety standards that were not as advanced or rigorous as todays, there has not been one instance of aquifer harm.

(snip)

One “small drilling well” outside of a community on the edge of Albuquerque that could create jobs and help the local and state economy could be blocked because of a few dozen agitators who could cause the county to “keep it in the ground.”

When I read this it makes me think of the short-sightedness of several regional governmental bodies that have expressed their opposition to the simple act of seismic surveying of the waters off the coast, citing harm to marine life. (This didn’t seem to be a problem in 2013 when it was done to place wind turbines, though.)

I suppose they would rather wreak havoc on the migratory bird population with wind turbines, but I think both oil platforms and wind turbines can co-exist – an “all of the above” strategy if you will. It’s just that one will prove to be a boondoggle without subsidies and one won’t.

So as we wrap up this Leap Day, here’s hoping Donald Trump is the first to take a flying leap – to where I don’t care.

When the reports are greatly exaggerated

February 28, 2016 · Posted in Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on When the reports are greatly exaggerated 

If you recall a recent odds and ends post where I mentioned that the Election Integrity Maryland group was preparing to wind up its affairs, you can scratch that. The good news is that a group of people stepped forward to carry on their work so by the middle of March they should be back in full operation.

There’s a reason this group is so important: they have made it their task to clean up the state’s voter rolls. More specifically, they are looking for compliance with federal laws that say states are supposed to keep their lists up to date to lessen the possibility of voter fraud. There have been the horror stories about ineligible voters being given ballots, multiple registrations at particular addresses that aren’t even residential, and similar fraudulent schemes developed by the former ACORN group and other similar community organizations. Even if these reports are exaggerated, just one vote that’s cast illegally is enough to cancel out your legitimate one.

I agree that voting is a right and not a privilege, but there are limitations to the rights here in this nation: one must be 18 as of Election Day, not be a felon* or convicted of buying or selling votes, and must be a citizen of United States. In the past our nation had blanket prohibitions on voting based on race and on gender, but we revised our Constitution to rectify these situations. However, it is still the choice of individuals whether they want to exercise their right to vote or even to be registered – although the state of Maryland is trying to install an “opt-out” system of registration based on your trips to the MVA rather than the “opt-in” system we currently employ.

Yet shouldn’t that right come with a set of responsibilities as well, such as to inform yourself about your choices and be aware of when and where you can vote. People joke about voting in certain precincts on the Wednesday following Election Day, but to fall for that ruse proves you may not have been deserving to vote anyway.

So I’m hoping the reformed EIM has a little bit more clout and can cause people to shame local jurisdictions that won’t get with the program of shaving off bloated voter registration rolls. Everyone’s vote should count.

(* in Maryland, you don’t even have to complete your sentence to have your franchise restored, despite the fact Governor Hogan properly vetoed the bill last year. Democrats in the General Assembly overrode the veto, even getting one person to vote twice.)

The milestone

February 27, 2016 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on The milestone 

This has been the political winter of my discontent.

You likely know I’m not a fan of The Donald, but this post isn’t going to be about him per se. The sheer divisiveness of Donald Trump’s campaign, however, is not only relevant to some of the things I’m going to say but also serves as a good analogy to a lot of what I have been seeing and hearing about other, more peripheral political issues.

Over the course of doing monoblogue I have liked to take stock on my anniversaries (December 1 each year) and when I reach milestone posts, of which this is one (post 4,500.) Some may say I do too much navel-gazing but it should be pointed out that the original intent of blogging was to be a public diary of sorts – in fact, the political blog RedState is simply a collection of the diaries various contributors put up. Normally it’s those given front page access who have their voices heard, but they also have the right to promote others as they see fit. Besides, Saturday is usually my slowest day reader-wise so this is as good as time as any to share some of these thoughts, one of which led off this piece.

While the original intent of all these websites was to promote a diversity of thought, it seems that there are lines in the sand being drawn that could alter the political landscape for years to come. Perhaps this is simply a repeat of the era when each city of any size may have had its Democratic newspaper and Republican newspaper, but anymore it seems like we have “Trumpbart,” “RubioState,” and so forth. (Maybe it’s my personal bias, but I haven’t seen a really pro-Cruz national site – let alone Kasich or Carson.) The folks at National Review don’t like Trump, the Trump backers counter that both Cruz and Rubio aren’t “natural born citizens,” and everyone has staked out territory from which to fight this conservative un-civil war.

We’re even seeing this extend to the state level in politics and the blogosphere. One such battle is ongoing between Ryan Miner (who blogs at A Miner Detail and does his own radio show) and the folks at Red Maryland (who pretty much do the same.) It would probably not be a good idea to put Ryan and Brian Griffiths in a room together right now, and to me there’s no reason to stoop down to the eighth-grade level because they back different candidates in a Congressional race. That’s not to say this is anything new, because when I first began there was a lot of bad blood between local bloggers in Salisbury that I had to work around since I was lumped in with them.

Perhaps it’s my nature, or maybe – just maybe – I’ve learned a couple things along the way, but over the years I have tried to write in such a way that I don’t lose any sleep by regretting what I said. My measuring stick for political candidates is mainly issue-based, so my dislike for Donald Trump is because I find him far short of being conservative enough for my tastes. The attitude he exhibits is just rancid butter on the moldy bagel that is Donald Trump.

But let’s talk about the future. I’m going to pick on Red Maryland for a moment, but there are any number of websites out there which qualify. It’s unfortunate that A Miner Detail is down as I write this (for what reason I don’t know) but they did a parody piece recently on clickbait articles. Yet if you go to the RM site (as I just did to check this) you get a pop-up ad for Windows drivers (probably malware) in the corner with each page and an annoying pop-up ad when you click on an article. To be fair, this is true with a number of “news” sites with the Washington Times coming to mind as another prime offender.

But if the guys who do Red Maryland, the Washington Times, and 100 other national conservative sites are making money with the plethora of pop-up ads and clickbait, and can sleep at night satisfied that they are doing their part to advance their cause, well, more power to them. It’s not for me, in fact, I just decided to pull the Newsmax and content.ad pop-ups off my site because they’re now pretty much populated with clickbait. I still have the Amazon account and will keep TrackBill because they are selling goods and services for which I am compensated on a commission basis.

Lately I’ve also noticed that RM is doing “sponsored” Facebook ads, which can be a somewhat expensive means of getting out the word. But I decided to join them with a very modest (as modest as I can get) boosting of my book review post that I did recently. It will run through Monday. It’s just an experiment to see if it affects traffic in any meaningful way.

But I think an alternative is possible. For several years I have written for the Patriot Post, which does not do advertising – yet I still get a modest stipend each month. (Modest to the point where I would love to have about 15 other such clients and just write for those all week. The commute would be a lot better – bed to my chair.) About three or four times a year they have a campaign to solicit funds from their readers, with the key one being around the holidays, yet they succeed in raising over $300,000 annually to support their operations.

Yet the example I have been following over the last few weeks is Erick Erickson’s new site, The Resurgent. They will accept advertising but it is limited to one sponsor a week that pays $5,000 for the privilege. So you have a very clean site with a minimum of advertising, and this is the sort of model I would like to see promoted.

Granted, it’s taken Erick about a decade to build his name up to a point where he can command that sort of coin, but if you went and followed my link ask yourself: isn’t that a lot better than pop-up ads and clickbait? Today is the day I declare monoblogue a clickbait-free zone.

The way I see it, my job isn’t to provide controversy or sensationalize the Maryland political world. My job is to educate and enlighten citizens, hopefully to sway their political beliefs in a more conservative direction. While I have other features such as my Shorebird of the Week or music reviews, those exist because I want to broaden my audience and also not burn out on political posts. To me, content is king but it has to be well-written – or at least as well-written as my talent and interest allow.

So that is my milestone. There are times I wonder just how long I’ll be doing this, but I suppose as long as I’m satisfied with the effort I’ll keep plugging away.

Christie embraces Trump for president

February 26, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Christie embraces Trump for president 

It wasn’t the relatively immediate endorsement you sometimes get when a candidate drops out of a race, but nonetheless Chris Christie became the first Presidential dropout to officially endorse Donald Trump. On the surface it seems like a logical pairing, made moreso by the fact the families have known each other for years. And with the conventional wisdom about Thursday night’s debate being that Donald Trump was bloodied by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, what better time to bring in someone who has been known for getting under Rubio’s skin?

More interesting on a local level, though, is the fact Larry Hogan hasn’t endorsed Trump by extension. You may recall that Hogan endorsed Christie fairly early on in the campaign, both as a friend and probably as appreciation for Christie’s support for Hogan’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign. But Hogan was mum when pressed about the issue, and it may be better that way because Larry doesn’t seem like the type who would endorse Trump – if anyone I would imagine him backing John Kasich or Marco Rubio. The problem with that is Kasich may not be in the race for much more than a week or two, leaving the race without a governor in a political year where 8 of the 17 who originally ran had executive experience as the head of a state.

In the poll of former candidates, though, Rubio still leads.

So allow me once again to update my tier map:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie (Donald Trump), John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Rubio)

I should add that former candidate Rick Perry, who dropped out in the midst of my dossier series, endorsed Ted Cruz a few weeks back. Rumors are strong that Mike Huckabee may also back Trump since his daughter now works for Trump’s campaign.

Also of note: local Delegate Mary Beth Carozza is on the Kasich for Maryland team. Before you scratch your head, remember that Mary Beth has experience with the Ohio governor while he was with Congress – she was a staffer for the Ohio delegation at the time.

Programming notes

While many of my friends are watching the Republican presidential debate this evening, I’m trying to create a small-scale one of my own.

Years ago, longtime readers may recall I did a series called “Ten Questions.” One of its early iterations was asking Senate candidates to answer a list of questions I sent them, and at the end I created a mock debate with the answers. (This was back in 2006, and back then I was much more bipartisan.)

I don’t know if I will do the same thing this time, but I indeed sent out 10 questions to the fourteen Republicans who are on the ballot in the primary. The reason I’m not sure about my goal for the content is because I found out some people are very long-winded and they don’t necessarily write well. So I may end up summarizing what remarks I get. Another thing I recall about my first effort was that participation was spotty at best. I could never figure out passing up free publicity, but I’m sure these folks are just bombarded with surveys and requests so some fall through the cracks.

Since I sent out the e-mail last night, I have received one response, along with an auto-response and two bounces. Out of fourteen candidates, thirteen had e-mail addresses on file with the Board of Elections and I used twelve of them. The thirteenth one came from this candidate’s website since I believed the address on file had a typo. Candidate number 14 did not have an e-mail address but I tracked this person down from Facebook and sent it as a private message.

It’s also unfortunate that the two candidates whose e-mail bounced are two of those with no website. It’s their loss.

To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind in the Senate or Congressional races yet, which is why I started this exercise – in both races there are good candidates. (Obviously my Congressman can run on his record, too.) I don’t think I will need to do this for my Congressional race since I know the aspirants much better.

As for other upcoming posts, I will have a quite lengthy odds and ends post this weekend. There must be thirty pieces of mail in my box with something that piqued my interest, yet with basketball season wrapping up I haven’t had a lot of time to read and catch up. I need a good day of writing to serve as therapy, since the touch of OCD I have desires that all my mailboxes be empty. (Yes, it has happened before, and quite recently. The oldest item in any of my inboxes is from January 28, and that’s from TurboTax reminding me to do my taxes. Maybe by April.)

Of course, over the next few days I have to check for would-be Senators sending me stuff. It’s just one vote for me, but I do get a few readers a day who might be interested as well.

Maybe I’ll even put up a poll. One thing I saw yesterday: the Sun talked about how the Edwards-Van Hollen race on the Democratic side was even, but mentioned the pollster didn’t do Republican candidates. That’s a sad state of affairs, even in Maryland.

So the GOP has to get its word out, and I’m kinda sorta doing it for free. Seems like a good deal to me.

Missing in action?

February 24, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Missing in action? 

Each day now I receive an e-mail of news clips from Allison Meyers, who is with the Hogan for Governor campaign. I don’t read every one but I peruse a number of them and one of the items the other day was from Calvert County regarding four legislators out of 26 statewide who are being honored by the American Conservative Union at the upcoming CPAC event.

Needless to say, I had to check the list to see who was on it. Unfortunately, none of our local legislators made this list of 26 – they are among the 38 Republicans who did not make the cut of an 80 percent rating. (And you thought I was the only one who rated legislators based on voting record?)

Just to save you some of the agate type, here are the scores our local delegation received, in rank order:

  • Christopher Adams (R – House 37B) 78%
  • Charles Otto (R – House 38A) 78%
  • Johnny Mautz (R – House 37B) 72%
  • Carl Anderton (R – House 38B) 67%
  • Mary Beth Carozza (R – House 38C) 67%
  • Addie Eckardt (R – Senate 37) 50%
  • Jim Mathias (D – Senate 38) 43%
  • Sheree Sample-Hughes (D – House 37A) 33%

Eckardt was the lowest Republican in the entire General Assembly, while Mathias was tied as the top Democrat in the Senate for the second year in a row. [I also found 2014 ratings. Last year Mike McDermott would have received an Award for Conservative Excellence (90% or better) while Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio was due an Award for Conservative Achievement (80%-89%).]

In looking at the ACU list, many of the bills also found their way into the monoblogue Accountability Project; however, my list is a little more broad since I took 22 floor votes and include the budget. But if my memory is correct the ACU and I saw eye to eye on every bill they scored so I would have had a perfect 100. (The only one to do so.)

Normally when Republicans fall down my list it’s for one (or more) of three reasons:

  1. They vote for bloated spending bills. I haven’t liked a budget yet since I began the mAP, so voting in its favor always works against them. I’m leaning against this year’s budget only because I think 5% growth is excessive.
  2. Civil libertarian laws. Two key examples this past year were marijuana and civil forfeiture. I’m for stopping crime but if someone can brew their own beer they should also be able to grow their own marijuana. Regulate it like alcohol. Meanwhile, government greed is leading them to police for profit rather than safety.
  3. Environmental bills. They get too cozy with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other backers of Radical Green. Let the regulations in place have a chance to work before dreaming up new stuff.

So I was a little disappointed to see none of the local legislators make the list, although had they had two more bills to score Adams and Otto may have made the 80 percent threshold. But it is tough to score well in any such rating system so hopefully we will see better in the 2016 edition.

WCRC meeting – February 2016

This time we meant it. After having a last-minute meeting called last month, a little planning made this month’s meeting go a long way. It got off to an unusual beginning as the Jaycees meeting in the next room joined us for the Pledge of Allegiance before we went solo on the Lord’s Prayer. (Usually we do this in reverse – as a former WCRC president once said, God before country. I think that it was the late George Ossman who introduced that tradition.)

The meeting was jam-packed with information because we had two speakers. It was suggested to us that we have Anthony Gutierrez from the Board of Elections in to go over the new paper-ballot voting machines we will be using, so he led off the evening with a pair of short videos explaining how they will work. For early voting there will be one ADA unit (which is slightly enhanced for those who are physically impaired but can be used by anyone) and two optical scanner units. Filling out a paper ballot is like filling out the standardized tests you had in school except you fill the circle in with an ink pen.

There were a few other election notes he passed along, including the fact that over 10,000 Wicomico voters will not be participating in April’s primary because they are unaffiliated. (This is out of about 58,000 total.) Gutierrez noted as well that the last Presidential primary with no incumbent (2008) had 48.9% for a February primary, but he predicted April’s turnout would be more like 35-40%. There will be five separate races on the ballot, he added: President, U.S. Senate, Congressional representative, and delegates/alternate delegates to the national convention. Voters will be sent their specimen ballots the Monday before early voting begins.

Mark McIver of the Central Committee asked whether more election judges were needed, and Gutierrez said they were fine for the primary. But he encouraged those interested to apply anyway for November and to be backups in case they have a need in April. Compensation for the day is $250.

Another question about same-day registration came up, and Anthony replied that it would be effective only for early voting. Some voters who had MVA information in the system would be “precleared,” he added.

I asked if the new machines would result in delays, but Gutierrez noted from the experience he had with observing these machines in other elections that the process was actually faster. They would use the primary to make adjustments for the larger turnout in November, he added.

Once Gutierrez wrapped up, our other featured speaker began. Having served as the co-chair of the Redistricting Reform Commission (RRC), Walter Olson came to speak about Maryland’s gerrymandering and the commission set up to suggest improved voting districts. Legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting body was introduced earlier this session, with hearings next week in both the House and Senate.

“I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around.” Those weren’t the words of Walter Olson; it’s a quote from the most recent State of the Union speech Barack Obama delivered. He also made the point in Illinois during a recent appearance there, said Olson. Moreover, 70 percent of Maryland residents would prefer an independent commission, which is fitting: since North Carolina’s gerrymandering (considered the worst in the country) was struck down in court, the new number one worst was the great state of Maryland.

With the recalcitrant Democrats being placed in an uncomfortable position of being against both their president and the voting public – as Olson pointed out, “they’re not happy with what we’re doing” – their only response was to complain that five hearings around the state weren’t enough. And “did we ever get an earful” at the hearings, said Walter. Districts were created not to fairly represent, but “to reward and punish” legislators. Olson handed out a chart that clearly showed how the system was exploited: all but 6 Republicans represent districts with larger-than-average population, while Democrats represent all but one of the smallest 25 districts. (The one Republican who represents a small district won election in 2014 over an incumbent Democrat.) Needless to say, Mike Miller and Michael Busch are “not enthusiastic” about this proposed change, even though it’s been debated off and on over the last half-century.

The RRC was an 11-member commission, with seven selected by Governor Hogan (3 from each party, plus one unaffiliated) and two from both the House and Senate, one from each party. Their report of suggestions were based mainly on those adopted by California, with some tweaking to fit our Constitution. The report was adopted by a 9-2 vote, and you can imagine which party had the two and where they came from to serve on the RRC. The legislation introduced on Hogan’s behalf has “most of” the recommendations, Olson added.

What the RRC asked for was stronger criteria for population, with just a 1% variation. Districts had to comply with the Voting Rights Act, of course, but also needed to be congruent, contiguous, and compact. No more “blood splatters at a crime scene,” as Olson described Maryland’s Third Congressional District.

The redistricting body itself was intriguing to me. Applicants would be screened to make sure they weren’t connected to the process as members of the legislature, their families, etc. After that, they would be placed into groups representing each of the two principal parties and unaffiliated/minor party voters, those who hadn’t switched registration recently. Out of 10 applicants in each pool (Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated) selected based on these criteria, three of them would be randomly chosen to serve on the body, with the chair chosen out of the three unaffiliated members.

But the cool part was that anyone could submit a map. Olson said that Pennsylvania’s map, which replaced a gerrymandered original done by the legislature, was done by a piano tuner who submitted a map which best complied with the requirements.

In the question-and-answer period, Olson stressed that the redistricting body would do both Congressional and state legislative districts. But it likely wouldn’t be pressed into service until after the next census because it was unlikely the system in place now would be overturned unless it was found to be a Voting Rights Act violation. A suit by Judicial Watch regarding Maryland’s gerrymandering was “somewhat of a long shot” to succeed, assessed Olson.

Walter also was careful to add that, while he works at the Cato Institute, the Institute is not involved with this. He was doing this as a private citizen.

Finally, we got to club business. The treasurer’s report was given by Muir Boda, who has stepped in to become treasurer since the previous officeholder had to resign to take a job across the Bay. We are working out kinks in the accounts since they were based on her e-mail.

Mark McIver reported for the Central Committee. After a moment of silence for Blan Harcum, we learned his funeral will be Saturday, March 5 at Holloway Funeral Home, with visitation the evening before. He also related that he testified for the elected school board bill, which has now passed the full Senate (with a clean sweep 47-0 vote, by the way.)

Julie Brewington, speaking on behalf of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign as its Lower Shore coordinator, announced she had county chairs in each of her counties and was seeking sign locations along U.S. 50.

I made a motion to clean up some business so we could have our officer elections, and all five officers were nominated and elected by acclamation. I’m going to use Julie Brewington’s photo here. (She posted it on social media last night, so she gets the credit.)

From left to right, it’s Treasurer Muir Boda, First Vice-President Dave Snyder, President Shawn Jester, Second Vice-President Shawn Bradley, and Secretary Michael Swartz. (Me on the far right – whooda thunk it?)

We found out from Jackie Wellfonder that the Ehrlich book-signing was rescheduled for Friday, March 11 and relocated to the lobby of the City Center building, adjacent to Roadie Joe’s. She was hoping to coordinate with the College Republican event that has to be similarly rescheduled, but the date didn’t work with SU.

Woody Willing reminded us the WCRC Scholarship was still available, but the deadline was fast approaching (March 1.) Graduating seniors from any Wicomico County school (public, private, or homeschooled) are eligible provided they complete the application process. I asked if the application could be put online.

Willing also asked if we could make our annual YMCA donation, which was met with the club’s approval.

Julie Brewington returned to announce the Republican Women of Wicomico would next meet March 2, with Mitzi Perdue as the speaker.

Joe Ollinger and John Palmer gave us some news about the Wicomico Board of Education, which was getting deeper into its superintendent search. They should be close to selecting the next time we meet, said Ollinger. Various focus groups comprised of about 75 people total were considering the applicants, added Palmer. John also said we were “on track” to getting Board of Education meetings on PAC14.

Nate Sansom updated us on the Teenage Republicans, which would have their first meeting March 4 at the Centre of Salisbury library branch. This led to Patty Miller being asked to fill us in on the SU College Republicans, which are having a fundraiser at the Greene Turtle March 21 and are “working on some big things.”

Matt Maciarello updated us briefly on legislation he was interested in, adding the Eastern Shore delegation is “working so hard” on these items. Included in his assessment was the bomb threat prosecution bill sponsored by Mary Beth Carozza as well as a bill dealing with sex offenders.

As you can tell, it was a meeting full of information that we somehow crammed into about 90 minutes. Our next gathering will be March 28, with U.S. Senate candidate Dave Wallace the first statewide candidate to stop by one of our meetings since 2013.

Exploiting the weakest link

February 22, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Exploiting the weakest link 

By Cathy Keim

Michael and I have both written about the Planned Parenthood (PP) undercover videos that showed that PP was selling baby body parts for profit. At first it seemed that the sheer horror of the videos might spur our politicians to defund PP, but that soon fizzled when Democrats blocked it. The Republicans punted since nothing is worth the risk of shutting down our government, not even the dehumanizing practice of selling baby parts.

Instead, David Daleiden and another pro-life activist, Sandra Merritt, who were posing as buyers of fetal tissue in the undercover investigative videos, were indicted by a Texas grand jury for this spurious offense:

(O)ne felony related to tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to buying human tissue. The felony charge was in reference to the use of a fake ID. If convicted, Daleiden faces 20 years in prison while Planned Parenthood officials face no legal consequences for their actions.

So how can Daleiden be charged for pretending to buy fetal tissue, but Planned Parenthood is not charged when they clearly admit on the videos that not only do they sell fetal tissue, but that they alter the abortion procedures to obtain more valuable baby parts?

Pro-life groups, led by Senior Vice President of Operation Rescue Cheryl Sullenger, are asking that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate because:

“There is now a pattern in Houston of District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office covering up abortion-related crimes,” she told LifeNews.

“In 2013, another Anderson-controlled grand jury failed to indict Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen, who was accused by three of his former employees of murdering babies born alive during shoddy late-term abortions by twisting their heads or slashing their throats. Photographic evidence provided to me showed injuries to large aborted babies that was consistent with those claims. Operation Rescue has good reason to believe that evidence was never presented to that grand jury,” Sullenger explained.

In addition, Lauren Reeder, a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, has been identified as “a non-compensated ‘Director’ on the 990 Tax Form for 2014 filed by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” according to Steven Ertelt, writing at LifeNews.com.

While it has not been verified whether Reeder participated in the case, it still shows a potential bias in the department.

Finally, it was revealed that attorney Chip Lewis, who represented Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen before the grand jury, donated more than $25,000 to District Attorney Anderson’s re-election campaign.

I will certainly be keeping an eye on this investigation and perhaps the voters in Harris County, Texas, might want to consider voting out Anderson the next time they have a chance.

But what can we do in the meantime? I am glad you asked because I received this email today from Eric Scheidler, one of the organizers of Protest PP, which explains the “weak link” in the abortion industry.

Among the hundreds of hours of undercover footage that David Daleidan and his team released last summer, there was one bit of footage that didn’t get the publicity it deserved. At a National Abortion Federation conference in 2013, abortion provider Renee Chelian was caught on tape discussing the problem of disposing of aborted babies’ bodies. Chelian told the story of how her abortion facility was thrown into disarray when she lost her contract with a medical waste company. She tried everything to dispose of the remains of the babies she was killing, including duping a pet crematory to burn them up. At one point she had 5 months worth of fetal remains in rented freezers! Her takeaway? “We are all one incinerator away, or one incinerator company away from being closed.”

Created Equal, a pro-life group, noticed this weak link and decided to set up #ProjectWeakLink aimed at targeting the waste removal companies that are hired by Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation. The project is starting with Stericycle, the major medical waste service provider for PP. You can go here and sign the petition asking Stericycle to stop working with PP.

Created Equal is also asking that you contact Stericycle CEO Charles Alutto and tell them to stop disposing of medical waste for Planned Parenthood. You can reach Alutto at 847-607-2004 or calutto@stericycle.com.

I had a phone call from a young lady at Created Equal and she also requested that if anyone is near a Planned Parenthood facility and they see a medical waste truck on site, to please take a picture of the truck and send it to Created Equal along with the date and location as they are trying to find out who else is servicing Planned Parenthood facilities.

The culture of death is unrelenting its attack on life, but we can take positive action to resist. Pray for David Daleiden, Sandra Merritt, and their lawyers as they prepare their defense against these charges. Take part in #ProjectWeakLink, and pray that hearts will be changed and lives saved as abortion is exposed for the great evil that it is.

And then there were five…

February 21, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on And then there were five… 

Indeed, “the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have spoken.” As Jeb Bush uttered those words, the end of his Presidential campaign was just moments away.

If you had asked this time last year who the Republican nominee would be, many would have predicted Jeb Bush. But his campaign never really caught fire, starting from his announcement being blown off the front pages by the entry of Donald Trump the very next day to wooden debate performances to simply sharing the family name. After not exceeding his 11% share of the vote in New Hampshire in South Carolina despite a little help from Sen. Lindsey Graham, it looks like Jeb! saw the writing on the wall.

The question, of course, is where his future voters will go. Perhaps the closest remaining campaign is that of John Kasich, but even if you take all of Jeb’s votes and give them to Kasich he still doesn’t make it into the top three nationally. However, if they go to Marco Rubio he passes Ted Cruz for second place behind Donald Trump, and remember: Trump has won two states but with vote totals in the low-to-mid 30s. If Trump’s negatives are as high as polled, he may not exceed 40% in any state.

Yet for those who believe the time for consolidation is now, Ben Carson is going to soldier on. Communications director Joe Ross pointed out that “Carson received as many delegates in South Carolina as all other candidates but the winner.” Problem was: that number was zero. Carson trails the remaining field with just three delegates he won in Iowa (Bush actually had four that he earned in Iowa and New Hampshire.)

After Nevada votes on Tuesday to assign 30 delegates – a race Trump is expected to win, but only on a proportional scale – a staggering 661 delegates will be up for grabs on Super Tuesday. While there are some caveats, the delegates will be awarded proportionately so Trump’s early lead could vanish if he loses in some states (or he could place himself in a position of being a couple hundred ahead with about 1/3 of the delegates awarded.)

So allow me once again to update my tier map:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Rubio)

Whadda you know? One from each now. That’s a sad state of affairs.

What is The Donald’s attraction?

February 20, 2016 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2016 - President, Cathy Keim, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on What is The Donald’s attraction? 

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Since I had my say on Trump yesterday Cathy decided to follow up.

I think that a lot of people are missing a primary reason many voters are flocking to Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. They’re concerned about immigration, but not just illegal immigration as in Mexicans and Central Americans flooding our southern border. They also seek answers on legal immigration.

Our country has been bringing in immigrants legally in huge numbers from primarily Muslim countries for years. There are 57 Muslim states in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but every time there is a clash and Muslims “need” to be resettled, they are directed not to another OIC country where they could be expected to fit in more easily, but to the West, and by the largest numbers to America.

I have written on the Refugee Resettlement program and its problems, highlighted most recently by the Syrian refugee issues, but that is only one of the vast array of immigration vehicles that our government has been using to flood our country with Muslim immigrants. There are student visas, work visas, tourist visas and the lottery system.

The USA does not have an exit visa tracking system. Once the immigrants arrive, even if it is supposedly only for a ninety-day tourist visit or as a student, no one ever checks to see if they leave!

According to this Breitbart summary of a report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS):

Overall, the report notes, immigrants made up 13.3 percent of the population in the U.S. in 2014, the highest percentage in more than a century. CIS compared that level to immigrants’ 6.2 percent share of the population in 1980. The Census Bureau projects that the immigrant share of the population will reach its highest level in history in 2023, at 14.8 percent and continue to increase through 2060 if current admissions levels continue.

(snip)

As of 2010, the countries of origin with the highest percentage increase in the number of immigrants in the U.S. were Saudi Arabia, which saw an increase of 93 percent. Bangladeshi immigrants increased 37 percent, Iraqi increased 36 percent, Egypt was up 25 percent and Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia all increased by 24 percent.

The immigrant population is over 42.4 million people out of about 322 million Americans according to best estimates. People are seeing this in their local communities and their schools. Americans are not xenophobic or racists, but they are concerned about the changing landscape around them. The social costs of bringing in so many people so rapidly are staggering.

Many of these immigrants are from Third World countries and are not equipped to function in a modern society. The stress that this causes for the immigrant families and for the community where they live is enormous. Instead of honestly looking at the problems associated with the rapid rate of immigration without time or effort to assimilate them, the elites just label anyone who questions the influx as racist.

Further, most of the immigrants are from countries that have big government and would be heavily inclined to vote for more of the same. This fact makes them an attractive demographic for the Democrats who are building their bloc of “safe” votes while preening publicly as the “nice people” who are concerned for the downtrodden.

The Republicans are no less guilty in keeping the numbers up as they bring in cheap labor, but they are less insightful as they are undermining their own voting base. They are not called the Stupid Party for nothing.

So where does Donald Trump come in?

For all his shrill rhetoric, I have no idea whether Donald Trump will actually do anything about legal or illegal immigration because I have no confidence that anybody can be sure what he will do if elected. He is not running on principles, but on his fame as a celebrity. However, he is the only candidate to bring up the immigration issue initially. If he had not done so, then it would not have been the topic of discussion that it has been.

Trump has addressed directly the problem of Muslim immigration:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.

I believe that this is the primary reason that many of his supporters are going to stick with him no matter how many reckless or crude statements he makes. If you understand the concept of civilizational jihad by hijra, then you just may decide the Donald is worth taking a risk on since he is the only one that is willing to touch the problem.

Monica Crowley writes:

Hijra is a core part of jihad going back to the Prophet Muhammad that involves Islamic conquest through migration. The objective is to overwhelm non-Muslim territories with Muslim populations until they achieve domination through sheer numbers. No weapons necessary — until they gain enough control.

She continues regarding the flood of people arriving in Europe:

Let’s be clear: Some of them may be fleeing war and persecution, but most are not. In fact, only about 10 percent of the new arrivals are from Syria; the other 90 percent are from elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Pakistan and Indonesia who are using the European Union’s open doors-open borders policy to reach the West for social welfare and the longer-term goal of spreading Islam.

The USA has been bringing in floods of people from Muslim countries with no thought to the practice of hijra. Instead of restricting Muslim immigration after 9/11, we have opened the floodgates.

Many thoughtful people see this as cultural suicide and they are willing to risk the Donald to stop this from happening. I acknowledge that this is not the only reason people are supporting Trump, but it is the reason why some exceedingly thoughtful, intelligent people are choosing him.

Next time you speak to a politician about immigration do not let them get away with the meme: Illegal immigration bad/legal immigration good. This is a cheap and easy way to dodge the difficult issues that face our country. Our leaders need to get serious about the problems that are before us and are growing larger with each new immigrant that arrives, whether Muslim or not. If they are not coming here because they want to share in the ideas that made us Americans, then perhaps they should not come.

If immigrants want to come for civilizational jihad or for our generous welfare benefits, then why should we allow that? America is a great country because of the ideas that it was founded upon: Liberty and freedom as God-given rights. We cannot continue to be America if we do not embrace these principles. A desire for big government benefits or for sharia law are not consistent with our Constitution.

Alas, that is why we are in trouble, not just with a potential Trump presidency, but also because half of our population is considering a full-blown socialist candidate in Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton due to their desire for big government.

But that will have to be dealt with in another post.

Mounting frustration in some quarters

Last night I wrote a lengthy piece for the Patriot Post that served as a preview for tomorrow’s South Carolina primary but also speculated a little bit about what could happen if Donald Trump was the GOP nominee. (Go on and read it, I’ll wait.)

All set? Let’s look at a couple things here.

First of all, just on a personal level, I’m getting about as tired of Donald Trump as I am of Barack Obama – and Obama’s been in office seven-plus years, plus a year or so of campaigning beforehand. Let’s consider the arguable point that Trump is conservative on immigration – you do know he has what’s considered a “touchback” policy for illegal aliens, right? As Mark Thiessen wrote last September:

So if you get past Trump’s bluster, the plan he is proposing is so liberal that it earned the support of the New York Times and the opposition of National Review.

The reason is simple: Trump’s plan is in fact a form of amnesty — you just have to leave the country briefly to get it.

So when Trump says of illegal immigrants “they all have to go,” don’t forget that under his plan almost all would be able to immediately return.

That must be the “big, beautiful door” in Trump’s Mexican Maginot Line. (Look back in history to see how the original fared.) I think I’m just worn out on how Trump can talk out of both sides of his mouth, so one truly has to ask if that’s the best the Republicans have to offer?

On the other hand, a few weeks back I assisted four voters in switching their party registration to Republican, presumably to vote for Trump. One later said she would switch back to Democrat after the primary, but also said “I vote for the best man for the job.” (If so, she should have been Republican all along. But I digress.)

Trump seems to be expanding the Republican base, though. Turnout for the Iowa Republican caucus smashed the old record, and also exceeded expectations in New Hampshire. South Carolina is expected to follow suit. So it appears Trump may be expanding the tent for the Republican Party – but what kind of platform will this GOP have? Writing at The Resurgent, Bill Blankschaen compares Trump’s campaign to a WWE pay-per-view event, and I don’t think Bill is too far off. I will grant Trump doesn’t have a record of political accomplishments because he’s never held public office, but there are few issues where he has expressed a conservative direction. Ronald Reagan he’s not.

When I send my articles in to Nate, my Patriot Post editor, I often have a sentence or two I add just as a personal sentiment about what I wrote. On this one I said:

I tell you, I wasn’t a big Mitt Romney fan and I had to pinch my nose really tight to vote for John McCain. (Really, I voted for Sarah Palin and a timely demise from McCain.) But if Trump wins, you may not be able to find a clothespin tight enough for my nose.

With unfavorable ratings north of 50 percent for The Donald, I would guess I’m not the only one who feels this way. So I think it’s time for some of the pretenders to step aside and put their weight behind someone to be the anti-Trump and keep the Republican Party as the conservative vehicle. It may not run well and definitely needs a tuneup, but in the political arena the GOP is all we have to win with.

Another step toward an elected Wicomico Board of Education

February 18, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Another step toward an elected Wicomico Board of Education 

With a unanimous 11-0 vote the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee passed SB145, the bill enabling us to vote on whether we will have a fully elected, hybrid, or appointed Board of Education here in Wicomico County.

Yet the bill didn’t quite pass unscathed. There was a minor committee amendment but it could have some impact at the ballot box come November. In the revised language, the first ballot question would now read:

Question 1: “For the current system, a Board of Education with Seven Members Appointed by the Governor”;

The underline in this case denotes language that was added. I suspect that could goose the total for that question a little bit; of course, if people really don’t like the current system they’ll now know what not to vote for so I suppose this is a double-edged sword.

Remaining amendments eliminated a redundancy in the law and extended the period to make appointments as needed from 30 to 60 days after a vacancy. All in all, though, the bill made it through the process reasonably well.

It’s also worth pointing out that the House version of the bill, sponsored jointly by the Wicomico County delegation, was introduced as HB1352. While it’s slated to have a hearing March 15, that slot could be filled by the House hearing of the Senate bill after it passes. Interestingly, the House bill is not considered a crossfile of the Senate bill because it was introduced with language similar to the Senate’s amended version regarding the ballot question. (It may be the House committee that makes the change and conforms with the Senate version or allows one body to recede since the difference is minor.)

It’s an encouraging beginning, but there is still a long way to go.

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