Disrupting the obesity narrative

A book by Mike SchatzkiThis is my latest piece for PJ Media, a book review.

For starters, the full title of Mike Schatzki’s The Great Fat Fraud is almost as long as the book. The paperback version of this volume only weighs in (pun intended) at 197 pages, and the conversational tone author Schatzki adapts makes this a book easily read in an afternoon, as I did.

I’ll be up front with you: if you’re a born skeptic who has extra pounds around the middle — a description which fits me to a “T,” unlike those pairs of size 40 pants which mock me from the back of my closet — this book provides the perfect excuse for you to not worry about dieting or strenuous exercise. Next to quitting smoking, losing weight is the most popular New Year’s resolution, so it seems an appropriate time to peruse this book and its message.

(continued at PJ Media…)

Maryland’s role

I was doing a quick bit of research just to see something I was interested in.

Most of you know that Maryland’s presidential primary is April 3rd. It’s key because we are among the states participating in the first set of “winner-take-all” contests – the other primaries before us are supposed to allocate delegates proportionately.

I like the system because it doesn’t automatically mean the winner of the first two or three primaries will be the nominee, since that person can’t get a large lead on the field. But after March that all changes.

Presumably Mitt Romney would be the winner here in Maryland, but that’s not set in stone. It’s also important to note that we share our date with two other states and the District of Columbia – one of them being Texas, where it would be a shock to see anyone but Rick Perry win. The other state in the mix is Wisconsin, and at the moment they’re not really focused on presidential politics because there’s a nasty recall campaign ongoing.

Also worthy of note is the fact that in the previous two weeks there are only two primary elections, one in Illinois and one in Louisiana – and neither occur the Tuesday before ours. The upshot is that we may actually have some campaigning about these parts, and that could in turn help the Republican Party here in the state.

A little food for thought.

A heart-to-heart talk with the electorate

Back when we began this process a year or so ago, here’s how I would have preferred to see the political landscape after the 2012 election, in order of best-case scenario to worst-case:

  1. A strong conservative President (in my case, the initial choice was Herman Cain) is elected and has enough coattails to increase the GOP advantage in the House and win 13 additional seats in the Senate (a 60-seat majority.)
  2. Same as #1, but with a simple GOP Senate majority.
  3. The Republicans take the House and Senate, but with a more moderate GOP standardbearer like Mitt Romney.
  4. A moderate Republican like Romney wins the presidency, but doesn’t pull enough Senate seats to place it in Republican control.
  5. The status quo from 2010-12 remains: House is Republican, Democrats keep the Senate, and Barack Obama is re-elected.
  6. Somehow the Democrats regain the House, keep the Senate, and Barack Obama is re-elected – a repeat of the situation from 2008-10.

Well, unless we have a candidate who comes from a brokered convention or someone like Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum pleasantly surprises me – or Ron Paul allows someone sane like John Bolton to enact our foreign policy – it looks like I’m down to my third-choice scenario at best.

Continue reading “A heart-to-heart talk with the electorate”

Bait and switch

That Governor of ours, he is a slick one.

After hearing from Martin O’Malley for several months before the General Assembly session that we should have a increase in the gasoline tax, the flush tax, or a host of other tax and fee increases, Governor O’Malley instead chimed in his support for the second sales tax increase of his tenure. Certainly we’re no stranger to sales tax increases as the tax on alcohol went up 50 percent last summer, from 6 cents per dollar to 9 cents. It’s almost like he floated the other ideas as trial balloons in order to make the “added flexibility” of a sales tax more palatable.

“I think we should remember that no one in our state lost their house, lost their job, or lost a business because of an additional penny on the sales tax,” O’Malley whined in speaking with reporters. Maybe he should come to Salisbury and ask local business owners about the effects of the sales tax when compared to tax-free Delaware. His assertion may be technically correct, but certainly we’ve seen many lost opportunities with the differential between what we can charge and what can be charged in Delaware.

Continue reading “Bait and switch”

Blog poll finals set (and other good news)

Yes, this isn’t a serious, weighty topic, but those of you who are interested will be lapping this up.

For the third year in a row I’ve done a ‘best local blog’ competition for fun and as a way to get a few additional readers during a generally slow news period. Sometimes I get a lot of votes and sometimes just a few make the decision.

Anyway, the winners of my three semi-finals have been determined and will advance to the finals with a winner to be announced on Monday – obviously if you follow the final poll it will be self-evident. But here’s how the three semi-finals went.

My first one was somewhat of a surprise, but not really:

  1. afterthegoldrush (#5 seed) – 53 votes (71.6%)
  2. Delmarva Shorebirds Blog (#9 seed) – 20 votes (27.0%)
  3. Delmar DustPan (#1 seed) – 1 vote (1.4%)

It was a surprise that my #1 seed – which had 367 votes in the first round – only got one vote in the semi-final. But I think I know why it did, because it had a particular website as its opposition. I figured afterthegoldrush would do well, though, since it’s won the first two editions of my contest in 2010 and 2011. And Delmarva Shorebirds Blog was only a #9 seed because it was a wild card – in reality it had the fourth-highest vote total in the first round.

Semifinal #2 was fairly disappointing with the lack of participation. I think it’s because that was conducted over last weekend, when a lot of people were not paying attention because the NFL playoffs were on and the weather was nice:

  1. Chesapeake Journal (#7 seed) – 7 votes (63.6%)
  2. Right Coast Conservative (#2 seed) – 4 votes (36.4%)
  3. Random Thoughts of a Citymouse (#6 seed) – no votes

Honestly, I thought Right Coast Conservative would mop up the competition because it had a first-round vote total far higher than the others. Instead the St. Michael’s-based website moves on to the finals.

The last semifinal was, at least, a little interesting. And it featured yet another (mild) upset:

  1. Delmarva Progressive (#4 seed) – 10 votes (58.8%)
  2. The Other Salisbury News (#8 seed) – 4 votes (23.5%)
  3. Sussex County Angel (#3 seed) – 3 votes (17.7%)

It’s intriguing to me that a left-wing blog won on my right-leaning website, but stranger things have happened.

So on we go to the finals, which will be put up shortly and, because I’ve found weekend polls don’t work so well, will get a few extra days for more opportunities to vote.

Now, the other good news: monoblogue has yet another local sponsor. I’d like to thank local attorney Charles Jannace for jumping on board, and encourage more to do the same. As my readership grows, you may find blog advertising to be an affordable yet effective tool in bringing in business. And only a few spots are left because I’m limiting the number of ads sold here. (Less clutter that way.)

So patronize all my local sponsors and tell others they can help too. As you can see, my rates are very affordable.

The votes are finally cast, and the filings nigh

And it’s about time. It will be interesting to see as the evening wears on whether any of the candidates who are currently in will exit the field after today’s New Hampshire primary.

But closer to home, we found out that both parties are now represented in all eight Congressional districts, so no incumbent gets a free ride in November. Andy Harris filed today to retain his First District seat, while Republican Charles Shepherd of Gaithersburg filed to run in the Fourth Congressional District to fill out the puzzle. As of now, here’s the breakdown of how many are in each Congressional primary:

  • First District: 1 Republican, 2 Democrats
  • Second District: 4 Republicans, 1 Democrat
  • Third District: 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats
  • Fourth District: 1 Republican, 3 Democrats
  • Fifth District: 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats
  • Sixth District: 7 Republicans, 4 Democrats
  • Seventh District: 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 1 unaffiliated (who is automatically advanced to the General Election in November)
  • Eighth District: 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, and 1 Green Party (also automatically on November’s ballot if nominated by the Green Party.)
  • U.S. Senate: 10 Republicans, 9 Democrats

At this point, with a day and a half to go, the only two incumbents to not have primary opposition are Andy Harris in the First District and Dutch Ruppersberger in the Second.

Another interesting item is the number of General Assembly members now running:

  • State Senator Nancy Jacobs is running for the Second District Congressional seat.
  • Delegate Tony O’Donnell seeks the Fifth District Congressional seat.
  • The Sixth District race is a no-holds-barred firefight with representatives from both General Assembly chambers: Delegate Kathy Afzali jumped in today to join Senators Rob Garagiola and David Brinkley.
  • The U.S. Senate race now officially features State Senator C. Anthony Muse, who also filed today.

We also have yet to hear from Delegate Pat McDonough, who made overtures to both the Second District Congressional and U.S. Senate races over the past year. But there’s still this afternoon and all day tomorrow; however, it’s more likely any member of the General Assembly won’t wait until the last minute because the 2012 session commences tomorrow as well. Former Senator and current Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney hasn’t filed as of this writing, either.

I’ll update this post as events warrant in both New Hampshire and Maryland.

Update #1: As of late this evening, this is how the Maryland Republican Presidential primary ballot will shape up:

  • Newt Gingrich
  • Jon Huntsman
  • Fred Karger
  • Ron Paul
  • Rick Perry
  • Buddy Roemer
  • Mitt Romney
  • Rick Santorum

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is the lone Democrat on the ballot. All 9 are shown as having filed today.

And by the way, Eric Wargotz IS running – to be a delegate to the national Republican convention from the First District. He has not added his name to the list for U.S. Senate, however.

With just under 50% of the vote in, Mitt Romney was long since called as the winner in New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, he’s strongest in the two counties (Hillsborough and Rockingham) which are closest to the Boston area. Ron Paul is second, but runs closest to Romney in Cheshire County in the southwest corner of the state and Coos County, which is pretty much the northern third of the state.

Update #2: According to the Washington Post, Alex Mooney is taking a pass on the Sixth District race and endorsing Roscoe Bartlett.

So here’s my questions: one, will he again assume the leadership mantle of the Maryland Republican Party? (Hey, I’m just glad I don’t have to go to a special convention just to pick a new chair.)

Second, and more importantly, what’s he going to do with the $100,000 or so he raised? Can he give it to the MDGOP? I know state candidates have the ability to do so when they close out their campaigns, but I don’t know about federal law.

Early to rise

As the calendar turns to 2012 and the political calendar becomes focused on the presidential primary, over the weekend we had our first prospective 2013 Salisbury City candidate announce the possibility he would run.

That’s right – Adam Roop announced in January, 2012 for an election to be held in April, 2013. Roop made his statement before perhaps a dozen supporters according to a Daily Times story by Jennifer Shutt. The story presumes he will be running for mayor, but Roop made no firm commitment to a particular office. Bear in mind, however, that based on where Roop resides he would either have to challenge Jim Ireton to become the new mayor or District 2 Council member Debbie Campbell, whose term also expires in 2013. Neither Ireton nor Campbell have confirmed their desire for another term at this time.

As a point of comparison, I did a little research and found that Ireton announced his mayoral bid in November 2008, just five months before the election. In that 2009 race, Jim won a four-person primary over then-City Council Vice-President Gary Comegys, former City Council member Bob Caldwell, and 2005 candidate Mike Della Penna before again defeating Comegys in the general election. Out of that field, Comegys declined to run for re-election in 2011 due to illness, Caldwell was elected to County Council in 2010 before his death in October 2011, and Della Penna has finished well out of the money in both previous runs. In short, the time is indeed ripe for new contenders in the political arena.

But will announcing so early create a problem? There’s no question Adam Roop has a little bit of name recognition based on his real estate ventures, but he’s not nearly as well known for his community involvement – it’s a shortcoming he addressed in his statements. And if elected, Roop would be the youngest mayor Salisbury’s had in some time as he won’t turn 30 until June of 2013. By comparison, Jim Ireton will be 43 years of age by the 2013 election – still, that’s younger than any member of Salisbury’s City Council, where the current roster ranges in age from 46 to 62.

In my observation, Roop may have been better served by getting involved more in the community first before making an announcement. Certainly there is some lead time required in plotting a political campaign against an incumbent officeseeker but running for office is far more than putting together an attractive logo and hosting a gathering for would-be supporters. Yes, it’s good to know that one of those who may be running for re-election in 2013 will not go unopposed, but there’s such a thing as looking too eager to serve.

The Maryland Model (part three)

This will be the final part of a three-part series; in case you’re getting caught up here are parts one and two.

In truth, though, this part won’t be based strictly on the Maryland Model. It’s actually going to be a critique of a presentation I ran across, one which is presumably some sort of PowerPoint presentation translated to Scribed for the purposes of disseminating. Called Become a Force Multiplier: 5 Simple Tasks for American Activists, it addresses many of the issues we will face in 2012 with a particular focus on Big Labor’s aspect. (Not surprisingly, since it’s done by LaborUnionReport.com.) More importantly, they note that:

Several of the tactics and action models described herein have been adapted from models used by unions and other Left-wing groups. In other words, the Left is already using these models, you need to as well.

Fight fire with fire, as it is said.

Continue reading “The Maryland Model (part three)”

A second look before he leaps?

Well, we can’t count Eric Wargotz out can we?

In a move which both piques interest and certainly cheers a certain segment of the Maryland Republican Party, the aforenentioned 2010 GOP Senate candidate is reportedly taking a “second look” at the race, according to the Baltimore Sun and other blog reports. As examples, David Moon at Maryland Juice has the port side view on this while Richard Cross, who briefly worked with the 2010 Wargotz effort, also weighs in at Cross Purposes.

Obviously, this could be much ado about nothing. For one thing, there are only four days before the filing deadline, and while Eric likely has a portion of his team in place and certainly hasn’t closed out his campaign accounts from 2010 he’s already facing a field with some established frontrunners and an uphill battle to secure the same proportion of the primary vote he received two years ago.

But it appears Eric’s logic regarding a primary battle is sound to a certain extent – obviously Ben Cardin has a serious opponent. Yet on the other hand, it appears the Maryland Democratic Party is going all in for Cardin despite their own bylaws prohibiting the practice. While our state is perceived as a safely Democratic state, anything is possible and Democrats have to protect the seats they have in the Senate, bylaws be damned.

And there’s always the “testing the waters” theory: perhaps this trial balloon has been launched to see what sort of buzz is generated by the possibility of a late Wargotz entry. Obviously it’s enough to make me write something during an NFL playoff game, and perhaps there is a chance that disillusioned minority Democrats here in Maryland – who will surely turn out to vote for Barack Obama – make that vote and then cast a ballot for the Republican to punish Ben Cardin for running against one of their own. But I only see that as adding 2 to 5 percent to the total of the eventual GOP nominee, and whoever runs needs to make up the 10-point deficit Michael Steele had in the 2006 race.

Certainly Eric is free to toss his hat into the ring, as I always think the more primary choices I have the better. But no one is going to hand him the GOP nomination and many of the factors which led him to initially skip the 2012 contest will remain in place regardless of how the Democratic race goes. My thinking at the moment is that C. Anthony Muse has a steep climb in order to beat Ben Cardin, even without the state and national Democrats putting their thumbs on the scale. Sometimes the first gut instinct is the best one.

Selling minority voters down the river

There’s an interesting dynamic shaping up in the U.S. Senate race on the Democratic side. It seems the message being presented to minority voters is one of “we want your votes for our side every other November, but in this case we want you to vote for the white guy – we know what’s best for you.”

Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland pointed out that the Maryland Democratic Party tweeted their support of Senator Ben Cardin through this video featuring Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, despite the fact that State Senator C. Anthony Muse is also in the race (as are a host of other, mostly perennial candidates.) Obviously they don’t have something like Rule 11 in the Maryland Democratic Party. (Actually, according to Brian, yes they do.)

So where are the catcalls for Baker as an “Uncle Tom” or “Oreo”? He’s supporting the white guy over a qualified black candidate from his own county who’s biggest claim to fame of late was objecting to the Congressional redistricting map because it didn’t do enough for minorities.

Continue reading “Selling minority voters down the river”

Nasty infighting in the Second

So State Senator Nancy Jacobs followed through on what she said she would do and announced this week she would run for the Second Congressional District seat currently held by Dutch Ruppersberger, a politician who she claims “left for Washington (and) became Washington.” Indeed, she has some interesting endorsements already.

But there’s one Republican who’s less than thrilled. According to an article in the Towson Patch, Jacobs is being called a “puppet candidate” by Delegate Pat McDonough. Pat claims that Jacobs is only running at the behest of First District Congressman Andy Harris, saying, “(Jacobs is) a puppet for Harris.”

While McDonough is also making news by spearheading the campaign to overturn the Maryland DREAM Act, last summer he had floated the idea of seeking the Second Congressional District seat himself, even hosting a fundraiser with 2010 Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. Just a few weeks later, he turned on a dime and flirted with the idea of instead running for the U.S. Senate. In this case, McDonough speaks like a fellow Congressional candidate, but I daresay he’s not making any friends among area Republicans by eschewing a pair of races then disparaging one of the hopefuls he has to work with in the Maryland General Assembly. Obviously we’ll know for sure next week if Pat will follow through on one of his original 2012 plans or stay with the DREAM Act fight.

But even if Delegate McDonough is right and Harris does have something to do with Nancy’s entry into the race, that’s a good job of candidate recruitment more Republicans should be following. Who has Pat McDonough brought into the fold?

Just like in the Sixth Congressional District, I don’t have a dog in this fight. But Nancy does introduce herself to new voters reasonably well:

Last year Nancy scored an impressive 92 on the monoblogue Accountability Project, earning the distinction of being a Legislative All-Star for the first time. She has a lifetime (since 2007) rating of 77, which puts her about in the middle of the GOP Senate pack. Ironically, McDonough has a lifetime rating of 78 and was a Legislative All-Star in 2009, meaning they’re fairly similar in political style.

But it’s clear which one has the bull in the china shop mentality.

Bachmann’s turn is over (but Perry’s isn’t after all)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The monoblogue kiss of death has claimed another victim, Michele Bachmann.

After gamely trying to convince herself and others the fight wasn’t over last night, apparently she slept on it and “decided to stand aside” this morning. This was the statement on her website:

I will be forever grateful to Iowa and its people for launching us on this path with our victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. While I will not be continuing in this race, my faith in the Lord God Almighty, this country, in our republic, has been strengthened. As I have traveled around Iowa, and the country, I have seen the very best in America, our people. And I will always believe in the greatness of them and the greatness of our God.

And, of course, I am deeply grateful to our entire campaign team, here in Iowa, in South Carolina and everywhere. I have no regrets. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with integrity and that we made an important contribution.

Thank you, God Bless you.

At this time, she hasn’t made an endorsement but presumably her decision was hastened in part by the necessity to begin her campaign to retain her Congressional seat – a campaign which has already drawn her GOP opposition and perhaps may place her in another Congressional district, as the DFL (their version of the Democratic Party) redistricting plan does. She also remains as the titular head of the TEA Party Caucus.

So the old adage that there are only three tickets out of Iowa may yet prove almost true, as the list of contenders gets whittled down to six: Newt Gingrich (4th in Iowa), Jon Huntsman (7th, but did not campaign there), Ron Paul (3rd in Iowa), Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. (The latter two essentially tied for first.) Fifth-place finisher Rick Perry was going to “reassess” his campaign, but perhaps Bachmann’s decision allowed him to stay in the hunt.

This hasn’t been much of a campaign for conservatives. Many would have liked to see Sarah Palin run, while others pined for a TEA Party favorite like Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Other names tossed around were Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West of Florida, and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, all reliably conservative.

But many conservatives coalesced around the lesser-known Herman Cain until a series of unfounded allegations of marital misconduct and sexual harassment knocked him out of the race. Others have been in the Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann camps early on and stayed during the frequent ups and downs.

Now we have fewer but certainly not better choices: Mitt Romney will forever have the albatross of ushering in the precursor to Obamacare in Massachusetts and has the perception of being the “establishment” choice in an era of anti-establishmentism. (Come on, he’s been endorsed by John McCain – how much more of a milquetoast, reach across the aisle pander can one get?) Likewise, Newt Gingrich is the consummate Beltway insider who never really left Washington once he left the House.

Rick Santorum is the darling of the social conservative group – and that’s an integral part of our cause. But Rick won’t be the fiscal conservative we need and hasn’t always shown fealty to the cause of limited government – one can ask Pat Toomey about that. (Yet for everything Santorum has said he seems to have a manner of parsing his words later. I call it saying what he thinks will get him elected.)

Jon Huntsman started out turning his back to the TEA Party movement and his idea that anthropogenic climate change is real is a disqualifier. And then there’s Ron Paul. If being President didn’t involve a lick of foreign affairs he would be my guy, but the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

And while Perry is back in, will this post-Iowa misstep work the same as John McCain’s late suspension of 2008 campaign efforts in order to address the economic crisis? After that he never recovered in the polls.

That’s all folks. That’s what we now have to choose from, unless there’s somehow a brokered convention and some white knight rides in to save us from ourselves. Certainly any of the above would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office, but I somehow get the gnawing feeling that we’re leaving a huge missed opportunity here.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, either, and to undo nearly 100 years of damage to the Republic will take more than four. The trick is just getting started on the task.