2020 federal dossier: Immigration

This is the sixth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, immigration is worth 11 points.

In perhaps the most extreme category so far, this subject has been the main focus of one of my Republican candidates, yet basically ignored by another. This study in contrasts should make for an interesting file within the dossier.

Over the last sixty years we have gradually opened up the spigots on immigration after a comparative freeze during the middle of the twentieth century – a time we were preoccupied by war and economic depression. But reforms in 1965 and 1986 have created a ping-pong ball of sorts as we bounce between the interests of Democrats (as well as their GOP-backing Chamber of Commerce allies) who want more free and unfettered immigration against the border hawks who want to secure the borders and limit the influx, whether as a pause or more permanently – returning closer to a stance we had after our large wave of immigration in the early 1900s when we became very selective about who got in.

So what do the Republicans running here in Delaware think? (Eventually they’ll be joined by the rest on the ballot.) Again, the order is randomized but it worked out well in this case.

Matthew Morris (House)

Having a relatively sparse website and focusing most on other issues like prison reform and the opioid crisis, I really haven’t seen where Matthew stands on immigration. Like any of the candidates, he is certainly welcome to let me know privately or publicly by leaving a comment here.

Lee Murphy (House)

What Matthew has to contend with is an interesting hodgepodge of ideas made on Lee’s issues page, where he states, “Congress has shirked their responsibility to find a permanent solution to our nation’s Border Crisis. I will support Customs and Border Patrol and ICE in their efforts to protect our sovereignty. I will support legislation that addresses the visa, permanent resident, and citizenship issues of those who wish to pledge allegiance to our nation legally. We must stop politicizing this national crisis.”

As I noted up top, Congress has “shirked their responsibility” because the issue has been a ping-pong ball for a half-century. Supporting Customs, Border Patrol, and ICE is nice (and necessary) but the second part of the statement leads me to believe Lee is in the “pathway to citizenship” camp that would reward those who came illegally at the expense of those who came the correct way as well as encourage more illegal border crossings – while the southern border has the reputation for being the conduit for illegal immigrants, in reality the larger proportion are those who overstay their visas. In either case, a path to citizenship should begin by them returning home.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Honestly I could write half the night on Lauren and immigration. Sometimes I think she does.

Ask yourself, though: how many candidates for office in Delaware take a field trip to the Mexican border? She has. So to say this is her primary issue would be to sound like Captain Obvious.

Some of her ideas: a full 10-year moratorium on immigration, meaning we net zero immigrants (so immigants equal emigrants – although that number of emigrants will supposedly be pretty high if Trump wins again), ending DACA and commencing the deportation of DACA recipients, ending chain migration and birthright citizenship, and placing more restrictions on work visas. The result, she claims, would be that, “Delawareans and the rest of America will see a rise in wages, and American college students will compete in the labor market without being put at a massive disadvantage. This plan relies on the basic principles of supply and demand, and common sense. Beltway elites seem to understand neither.”

Obviously this is a harder line than most in Congress would take, so I imagine progress on her agenda would be slow and may take multiple election cycles as the Senate only changes partially each time. But then again, perhaps it’s time someone drags things in that direction.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Perhaps knowing his competition, Jim has this as his immigration platform: “We are a nation of immigrants. As Americans we all benefit from each other’s skills and culture resulting in today’s America, the greatest country in the world. That is why our borders are flooded with foreign nationals. However, to protect our culture, our citizens and our way of life, we have immigration laws. These laws are designed to protect our country and our citizen’s health, welfare and businesses. The law must be enforced! Controlling our borders, supporting the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is imperative. The United States is a sovereign country and must not allow open borders.”

The problem with this statement is that I don’t see the “fierce resistance” to amnesty that Lauren seems to have. Perhaps it’s a break for James that the Wuhan flu and BLM strife has pushed immigration aside as a key issue, but there are still many millions who would like to see a more America-centered resolution than what we’re being presented with here. It’s very pale pastels compared to Witzke’s bright colors.

Again, I’m looking at a rather sparse subpart to the dossier next as we consider foreign policy. Despite the fact our actual military operations may be winding down, we have a lot of adversaries to contend with and I want to know how they prefer to deal with them.

2020 federal dossier: Energy and Taxation

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, energy is worth 7 points and taxation is worth 10 points.

In returning to my dossier series after a week away, I have run into a couple of my problem children. Seeing that the candidates don’t seem to be as concerned about these issues as I am and wishing to kick start this process back up, I opted to combine the two categories into one post. I’ll begin with energy, which was supposed to be one of last week’s topics but it turns out that no one really gets into the subject. (If a candidate does, it’s either not on their site or it’s part of a much longer-form interview.)

So I asked the questions directly of the candidates: in the case of energy I wanted to know their takes on renewables, offshore drilling, and ethanol subsidies. To date I have received responses from the House contenders but not the Senate ones. I’ll again go in random order, but some will be very short.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I have not received a response to any of my questions from the DeMartino campaign, which is unfortunate because much of what he speaks to about issues ranges between boilerplate and platitudes. Must be the lawyer in him, but for me it’s frustrating.

Matthew Morris (House)

While I’m sure he’s not going to fully embrace the Green New Deal, in his (rather lengthy) response to my query, he noted that, “When it comes to renewable energy, I am most liberal in my views. The planet is a living organism and we are but small parasites.” Making the case that he could reach across party lines, Morris believed he could, “create an alliance in the preservation of our planet and renewable energy.”

The other departure from GOP orthodoxy came in his opposition to energy exploration, calling offshore drilling and expanded fracking, “unnecessary at this point, especially if we have the resources to end it.” Of course, the problem with that approach is that we need more resources to replace those which become less economically viable. I’m not sure I understand the logic, but then again Morris argues that, “the only reason people have bought into the ideology is because they’ve been manipulated by big oil.”

As we all know, I prefer my energy cheap and reliable. If Big Oil can give me that I’m perfectly happy with it. The planet is pretty resilient.

Lee Murphy (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan should he win the primary, but I believe he’s trying to appease the middle with the campaign’s response, “(T)rust us when we tell you that Lee Murphy is the most evolved Republican in the state with his desire for a clean environment through incentives, not regulations and imposed costs. He wants all of us to be able to drink from the rivers in Delaware, which will take a while, even with Lee’s kind of leadership.”

In and of itself, that’s interesting. But I wonder if he’s tilting himself too far in the balance between energy and environment, similarly to Morris. I also noticed Lee’s campaign doesn’t actually address energy issues as presented, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that the “information” he has will also address energy in some manner.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Although Lauren has been active on social media, this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. However, I seem to have a more open line of communication with her campaign so I may well yet have an answer. I have my hunch how it may play out, but I will hold the prediction in abeyance for now.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received so far has come from Matthew Morris, who noted, “Trump’s tax cuts have their pros and cons. I have an absolute understanding the working middle class will always get the brunt of the taxation because they’re the majority by a landslide.” (He also added later his desire to legalize marijuana, which would presumably be used as a small revenue source as well.)

The bulge in the middle is true when it comes to the present situation, but the recent passing of Herman Cain reminds us there are other revenue ideas out there besides Mary Jane. Cain was most famous for the 9-9-9 plan, which was a combination where the income tax rate for all payers, the business tax rate, and a national sales tax would all be 9%. Presumably the belief was that the lower income tax rate would put more take-home money in paychecks, the lower business tax rate would improve profitability and encourage investment, and any resulting shortfall to the federal treasury would be made up by the new sales tax, which would add $9 to an item costing $100. (This is a similar idea to the FairTax, which has long been a consumption-based tax proposal.) Cain’s hybrid system would have limited the dependence of the government on income tax and spread the burden more equally as opposed to the steeply progressive and complicated tax system we have now.

So I would love to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here.

With the exception of one quarter, I have no shortage of information on the next topic, which will be immigration.

2020 federal dossier: Trade and Job Creation

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, trade and job creation is worth 9 points.

According to the Caesar Rodney Institute, which defines itself as a “Delaware non-profit committed to protecting individual liberty,” the state’s economic status is in a long-term decline, so this category is important for our federal legislators to keep in mind. They obviously have input on our trade policy and hopefully are in tune with the idea that government can create the conditions which enhance opportunity. (Aside from limited jobs in creating and maintaining federal infrastructure, the government seldom creates jobs with actual value like, say, an oil derrick worker, a guy on the line at Jeep, or an architect who works with the private sector.)

Once again I’m doing this in a random order, with Republicans first in line and, once the primary is over, those representing other parties on the Delaware ballot.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Out of all she has said on the subject (and there is a lot!) there are two lines which I think best sum up her philosophy:

“Get me to Washington to ensure we rebuild American industrial might and promote FAIR trade! Let’s Make America Great Again and put America and her workers first!”

“I commit to supporting our unions, their right to collective bargaining, and incentivizing companies to hire American.”

Let’s look at these one at a time. I believe in free trade, but to make trade truly free we have to get it to be fair first. To do that, we need to have sensible tariffs until an overall balance is reached. While that may smack of protectionism, the idea is that we use the time to build up our competitiveness, not coast and make Trabants. Where we need the cattle prod is to insure improvement – if companies want to be part of the American rebirth, they must work quickly to be competitive.

Where I definitely part with Lauren is her blind support of organized labor. I believe in the right to work because it’s proven to be a job creator (companies prefer to locate in right-to-work states and jurisdictions) and it makes the union sell itself to the employees – they have to give a good reason and return on investment to workers who can forgo membership in an open shop. There are unions in right-to-work states so some must succeed in convincing employees and employers that they are fair bargaining agents.

I think a national right-to-work law would be a good thing, but it is an overreach on state’s rights. By the same token, there should be no federal prohibition on the right for states to mandate open shops.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I think James embodies a very sensible approach with his statement:

“I will work to create an environment that promotes free enterprise and not hinder growth with excessive and stifling regulations that add to the cost of doing business. Regulations must be streamlined so business can run their business and not continually file government licenses, documents and reports. I will continually discuss with the Governor and State Legislators their needs to promote business growth and expansion within Delaware from technology and infrastructure to development of Port Wilmington as a vibrant and safe port facility.  I will ensure farmers are provided the latest and greatest agriculture enhancements to maximize their output and returns.”

Philosophically it’s very close to the mark; now all we need is more specifics on various items. My only nitpick may be that streamlining regulations (and improving broadband, which he has also brought up) is as much incumbent on the state as it is the federal government, since that rising tide of eliminating regulation on a federal level would lift all the boats, not just ours.

Matthew Morris (House)

In reading through Matthew’s philosophy, it sounds a little bit like Lauren’s – he blames outsourcing for many of our problems. “I’m proposing that these big corporations, they’re going to have to pay a tax if they’re going to outsource their jobs to these foreign companies,” said Morris on social media. “I can’t stress it enough. We need to put America first.” He also vows to bring aquaculture, farming, and manufacturing back to Delaware. (I can vouch for the fact farming never left Slower Lower. Just sit in my living room and watch the traffic go by on my rural road. Or just watch the soybeans and corn grow and the irrigation system circle around. Or walk outside when the wind is the wrong direction and say “smells like Delaware.”)

Anyway, this is something I don’t think people who blame outsourcing think about: why do foreign manufacturers make cars here? Because we have a mature and prosperous market. We can’t just say in a blanket fashion that all outsourcing is bad because foreign companies outsource here, too – indeed, we should try to reclaim what we lost to China, but there are incentives we can present to encourage that may work more effectively than threats to browbeat.

Lee Murphy (House)

Lee doesn’t stray too far from conventional wisdom here, calling for an end to unnecessary regulations and more tax cuts. Pretty standard stuff. He does make the point that, “(i)nstead of passing minimum wage legislation, I will work tirelessly to bring real jobs back to Delaware.” The problem is that he’s left things really open-ended, although I suspect if prodded he can expand farther on these points. If he realizes that the true minimum wage is zero because it’s a job that was never created, then we may be on to something.

I’m going to gather a little more information, so the next part may be circling back to energy issues or pressing forward to my next intended part, taxation. Whichever one comes first, it will probably arrive around midweek.

Odds and ends number 97

You know, I figured just as soon as I put old number 96 to bed that my e-mail box would fill up with interesting tidbits, so it wouldn’t be nearly as long before I got to number 97. So let’s see what I have here.

A look at theology

People tend to think of Erick Erickson as just a radio personality and pundit, but it’s not as well known that he’s studied divinity. So when he talks about religion it makes my ears perk up, and this recent column of his was one of those times.

Christians need to be preaching Jesus, not Christianity. We need to preach about the end and the return and the world made new. It is fantastical and supernatural and unbelievable for so many. But it is real and right and true and will give the hopeless hope.

Erick Erickson, “Groaning for Justice: The Theology of What is Happening”, June 25, 2020

It sounds a lot like my church. But it’s worth remembering that on one side is the world and on the other side is God, expressed in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I have a simplistic perspective about it all, but then again I came to the game later in life than a lot of other people so my flaws were more apparent.

I believe that when Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through him that He was absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the world better but there should always be that end goal in mind, too.

Is there any reason for college?

This may seem strange to say as an alumnus of Miami University, but insofar as career preparation I learned as much in a year of work as I did in securing my four-year degree. (However, I did manage to consume many “Gobblers” and adult beverages from various eating and drinking establishments around Oxford, Ohio, and I got to go see Division I sports for free. So there was that.)

By the same token, Victor Davis Hanson has toiled in the academic field for decades – yet he delivers a scathing critique of college life and educational achievement in 2020, 34 years after I walked away from Millett Hall with my diploma case in hand.

31 years later I was witness to a similar scene but under wildly different circumstances, as my wife received her bachelor’s degree from a nationally-recognized college after taking online courses tailored to the working world. For these folks, their campus was the Washington, D.C. area and beyond, and hundreds of them were in what was then the Verizon Center for their big day. They received their degrees after enduring a lifestyle of trying to juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities with their academics as opposed to being cloistered on a campus and shuttling between academic halls, student centers, and their dorms. That was my world in the mid-1980s as a snot-nosed kid from a small Ohio town.

Yet many kids still do the same thing I did four decades ago, and the problem with that approach is that it’s rapidly becoming an information silo. Kids learn a lot about things of little importance in real life then wonder why it bites them in the ass. I remember pounding the pavement for a job right out of college then finally taking something outside my field to tide me over – turns out I was there less than a month before I got the break I needed; then again I was in an avocation where there was demand in the real world so it finally needed my supply.

And my alma mater wonders why I ignore their pleas for alumni donations.

More from smart people

How this guy ever got to be governor of his state – and then re-elected – often mystifies me. IMHO he was really too smart for the job, and the same went for being President. I think Bobby Jindal could have been the next Calvin Coolidge, a President who exhibited admirable restraint of his powers and led the government to do the same.

Recently he penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner where he focused on some items he saw as long-term trends accelerated by the onset of the Wuhan flu. This one was the one that piqued my interest the most:

De-densification: Elevators, mass transit, and air-conditioned spaces, all critical components of urban living, will be rendered safe again one day. Yet, the nation’s most successful cities were already victims of their own success, with the rising cost of living pushing working families to the suburbs and exurbs. Workers are going to demand more flexible work arrangements and less time wasted commuting. Remote work and virtual meetings will allow many office workers to be productive in the exurbs and in the country. Wealthy families will join them with getaway homes, and companies will require less-dense and smaller offices. Smaller communities near urban centers will benefit and become more economically viable for their permanent residents. The economic efficiencies that have driven urbanization will still continue to be compelling, and first-tier cities especially will reinvent themselves and continue to attract immigrants and new businesses.

“How the COVID-19 pandemic will change us”, Bobby Jindal, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2020.

The initial push to the suburbs in the postwar era was fueled by the surge of new families looking for room to grow, coupled with the inexpensive cost of gasoline and car maintenance and expansion of highway construction allowing commuters to bypass mass transit. Suddenly small towns that were once on the outskirts of metro areas and surrounded by cornfields became the loose center of dozens of subdivisions looped together by beltway interstates surrounding the city core. My parents did this in spades, bypassing suburbia altogether to buy five rural acres for three active boys to play ball on and dealing with a half-hour or more commute.

Being in the design world, I’ve seen the push for a new urbanism. For example, in nearby Salisbury their mayor Jake Day has pushed for a new style of downtown revitalization, attempting to bring in mixed-use development accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Surface parking on city-owned lots downtown is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as lots are sold to developers.

Fortunately for Day, Salisbury is still a small enough city that it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and others which have seen their urban core rot away from a toxic combination of crime, poverty, and lack of opportunity. It could yet go that way, or it could become a destination precisely because it’s been small enough to escape these issues – the sort of small town Jindal envisions succeeding thanks to the remote technology we now have.

But these urban escapees have another close-by alternative which is also retiree-friendly – if we don’t screw it up.

Picking too many losers

The state of Delaware lags the field in state-level GDP growth these days, one survey placing the First State last in the nation.

Perhaps a reason for this, argues the group A Better Delaware, is that our state government is terrible at determining winners and losers. As it has often turned out, the well-connected are the winners and taxpayers are the losers, and the group goes through some examples in this recent piece.

As I see it, job creation is about filling needs. An entrepreneur sees a market void and figures out a way to fill it, then once that venture is a go he or she may find the work is too much for one person to handle. Suddenly they’re signing the front of a paycheck, and the measure of a business-friendly state is just how easily that employer can get to that point without feeling violated from the anal rape of a corrupt system installed to grease the palms of a thousand bureaucrats. Somehow Delaware seems to believe that making life easier for those who promise scores of jobs without figuring out the market void is a good thing to do. I tend to like my strategy better.

The library

I was recently introduced to an interesting website in a unique way: one of its employees requested to purchase a paper copy of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. So I autographed it and sent it to Tennessee for his enjoyment. (By the way, I have several more available.)

So while Ammo.com sells – as you may guess – many different varieties of ammunition, they also feature what’s called the Resistance Library: a collection of articles on many and varied topics. (Actually, the whole site is worth exploring.) The post my newfound friend was dying to share with me, though, was on “Policing for Profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a popular concept with the “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” crowd; the same ones who shout “blue lives matter!” (And they do, but so does the law.) In reading this lengthy, well-written treatise on the subject I found out that Delaware is a state which is one of the worst in that regard.

And civil asset forfeiture laws are difficult to change because there are two large lobbies already stacked against these efforts: law enforcement and local government. Imagine what $200,000 seized could do for a local government’s bottom line when they may spend $2 million on a police department annually. Never mind it’s not their property and they have only suspicion that it was gathered illegally. It’s like crack cocaine to an addict: wrongly or not, they can’t pass it up. We need to send our state to a proverbial NA meeting next year when the General Assembly reconvenes.

More bad advice

I like to end on a light-hearted note when I can, and what better way than to poke fun at those who tell me how to run this place?

Hello monoblogue.us team:

As you know because of Global pandemic, the world has shut down and a big question mark on sustainability of business.

We are connecting the business owner to create a high standard for their business website and marketing strategy. To start this, we recommend to upgrade the website to more customer friendly.

If you have same idea in your mind, Let’s discuss about redesign of your website in economic cost.

A really badly written e-mail.

I can’t decide whether this came from China, India, or some other third-world country where English is taught as a second language. (In this case, maybe third.)

Fortunately, I didn’t shut down during the pandemic. Now I won’t say that I was terribly productive during the time span, but the college degree I alluded to way above led me to a job deemed “essential” so I have been working my usual full-time hours. Even so, I sustain into my fifteenth year of this site. (I even outlasted Red Maryland.)

My site is not really a business site, but I do have a marketing strategy: write good sh*t. It’s even customer-friendly because I kept out the offending letter.

And, in case this guy missed it, I redesigned my website a couple years ago, finally retiring old “Black Lucas” after nearly a decade of service. I still miss that theme sometimes but I like the back end that goes with the current “Twenty Sixteen” theme much better.

So I think I have flogged the dead horse of my inbox enough for one visit. I didn’t even get to the silliness that’s the Delaware governor’s race, but maybe I’ll hold onto that for a standalone post after all.

Programming note

Once we clear the filing deadline this coming Tuesday I’m going to add my Delaware political sidebar with all the primary and general election candidates and then the following Monday or Tuesday release the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition. The delay is because I have to determine whether the legislators involved get a free ride in November or not.

Because the Delaware session was truncated this year, I decided to simply amend the 2019 edition to use four votes this year and drop the least impactful four votes from last year to maintain 25 separate votes. You’ll see what I mean when I put it up later this month.

DelGov: Shea withdraws, throws backing to Murray

The race for Delaware governor got a little less crowded today as GOP aspirant Neil Shea, “with a heavy heart,” announced he was leaving. In a social media post, Shea stated:

It is with a heavy heart and due to unforeseen circumstances, I have to withdraw from my campaign for the Governor. This has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life and watching so many people get involved gives me faith in our future for Delaware. Now is the time for more young people to step up and get involved in politics to preserve their destinies down the road. The division that has grown between friends, neighbors and families needs to be corrected in a way that we can spread some message of joy. Remember, tough times don’t last – but tough people do. Thank you all for your support, God bless you.

Neil Shea, July 1, 2020

In a later response to comments, Shea said of fellow contestant Julianne Murray, “Very very bright and has a great plan.”

Back in May Shea was the first to officially file as a Republican challenger to incumbent governor John Carney, who has drawn fire from the business community about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Delaware is one of the slower states to emerge from the self-imposed shutdown, a state of emergency first declared by Carney back in March and extended on a monthly basis since. Since then, in order of filing, the GOP race has drawn businessman David Bosco of Greenwood, state Senator Bryant Richardson of Seaford, and attorney Julianne Murray, also of Seaford. Recently state Senator Colin Bonini of Camden-Wyoming announced his entry, but he has yet to file with less than two weeks remaining before the July 14 deadline.

Shea’s departure changes the race in two ways: he was the only Republican candidate in the race from vote-rich New Castle County, and it leaves two non-politicians in the race against two current officeholders. Neil was also part of a trio of Millennials making their first bid for public office in a statewide race; along with U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke and U.S. House hopeful Matthew Morris, this year’s GOP race has drawn new, younger faces.

Arguably, Shea was the leader in gaining name recognition besides Senator Bonini. He was definitely a contender for the nomination, with a platform stressing the reopening of the state after the Wuhan flu peaked. Hopefully he will remain as a voice in the campaign.

With four entries remaining, it’s the most crowded Delaware GOP gubernatorial primary in years, if not ever. We’ll see if any others shake out before the primary.

Odds and ends number 96

It’s been nearly a year since I did one of these, but let me assure you that I’m not digging up a lot of chestnuts from my e-mail bag. There are just a few things which have piqued my interest lately and deserve a mention, whether it be a few sentences to a handful of paragraphs. It’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget how to do it after enough times.

Miss #FliptheFirst almost flips the race

I thought for a bit that, after the winding down of Red Maryland, I might have to step into the breach temporarily with popcorn in hand to witness the glory of having the candidate who won the First District Congressional primary despite withdrawing try to convince the twelve Democrat Central Committees involved to pick the only other candidate who lives in the district – but who finished a distant third – over the second-place finisher.

Alas, the late-arriving mail-in votes vaulted Mia Mason to a narrow victory over Allison Galbraith in the First District Democrat primary. Early on, it appeared the Allison may have won the race despite announcing her withdrawal six weeks ago for personal reasons. Had she not dropped out, it’s clear Allison may have won her primary on a scale comparing with Andy Harris’s 82-18 win in the GOP primary against challenger Jorge Delgado.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that Republicans who say how tired they are of Andy Harris don’t turn out in droves to the primary? Andy has never received less than 75% of the GOP vote since taking office in 2010, although he’s had at least one challenger in each primary election since 2014. I guess you can call it a silent majority.)

Mia is going to have a very reluctant supporter in Allison. On her campaign social media page Galbraith charged that, “Mia, she’s just playing pick a district and hasn’t been filing any of her FEC reports properly. She also called the state party and told blatant lies about me saying I had somehow ‘intimidated’ or ‘pressured’ her by offering her a job because she happens to be good at field. Her ethics, less commendable.”

If it were a more fairly-drawn district I would keep out the popcorn, but to know that Mason could have ran in her own district and has few ties to the Eastern Shore means the local Democrats will have a harder time backing her.

Good reads on energy

I’m going back to the B.C. era (before coronavirus) on this, but over the last few months the folks who write the Energy Tomorrow blog have also linked to some other good pieces which found their way to media.

For example, the good news about natural gas gets very little play as we try and force-feed solar and wind power on the energy market. “It would be hard to find anything NOT to like about this great American success story,” writes Stephen Moore, “(Now we have) energy independence, reliable and inexhaustible supply, low prices, reduced power of the Middle East, Russia, and other OPEC nations, and cleaner air than at any time in at least a century.” But the environmentalists whine because natural gas is “a hurdle” in their zero-carbon goal, which is unattainable until that day we figure out how to make the wind blow constantly at just the right speed and sun shine 24 hours a day – in other words, the twelfth of never.

Yet they talk about a fracking ban on the Left, and despite the fact Joe Biden hasn’t publicly stated he’s for a ban that will change if he wins the election. He’s already promised a de facto ban by pledging he would be, “Requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.” By making compliance expensive and cumbersome it would create the same effect as a ban: imagine you liked ice cream enough to produce it, but the government told you that you had to make sure the cow farts didn’t reach the atmosphere with expensive equipment attached to their behinds to collect their “residue.” That cost has to come from somewhere and reducing profit makes for a lot less incentive to stay in business. (And it’s not like the energy industry doesn’t want to improve its record since methane sent into the atmosphere is methane we can’t use for profitable purposes.) So, yeah, it would cripple our economy and this study documents how much. (Bear in mind it, too, was conducted B.C.)

A voice of reason on Biden

Last summer I did a radio interview with Kansas-based host Andy Hooser, who bills himself as the “Voice of Reason.” Since he has an Ohio connection and is a pretty good self-promoter, I’ve kept following his efforts as he went from terrestrial show to podcast to a bid for a syndicated national show.

But the reason I bring him up now is his long summary of the Joe Biden campaign as it begins in this brave “new normal” world. It’s a rather in-depth opinion from a different kind of pundit and he made a number of good points.

Denied access

In the past I have often voted for Libertarian Party candidates when their views meshed with mine moreso than the ones of the RINO on the ballot. Yet thanks to the reigning D vs. R duopoly, oftentimes the Libertarians and other minor parties – including the Constitution Party, which I’ll get to in a minute – have to waste valuable resources maintaining a ballot position whereas the majors don’t.

Back in March, the two leading minor parties in Maryland realized they would have an issue with petitioning their way onto the ballot thanks to the Wuhan flu; despite being allowed to collect electronic signatures they sued the state last month.

Maryland’s petition law is daunting, and it shouldn’t really be necessary: as of the last report which listed the Greens and Libertarians (january 2019), the LP had over 22,000 registered voters with their party and the Greens 9,262. One would think those should be automatic signatures with their registration, meaning that only the Greens would have to collect 738 signatures from non-party members to qualify. Delaware has a much simpler and fairer system of ballot access based on voter registration numbers, requiring just 1/10 of 1 percent of voters to be listed. (At present there are six ballot-eligible parties in Delaware, the largest besides the two major parties being the Independent Party of Delaware, or IPOD.) Here the Libertarians are in like flint; however, the Green Party is actually about 20 short at the moment. (Besides Rs, Ds, Ls, and IPOD, the other two eligible are the American Delta Party and Nonpartisan.)

Blankenship is their man

Since I voted for and registered with the Constitution Party, I should let you know they selected Don Blankenship as their Presidential nominee. Unfortunately, the problem with smaller parties is that they often pick out self-serving people as their nominee and I get that impression with him. Rather than the issue-based platforms of most political candidates, I see a lot of filler on Blankenship’s website. I don’t know if he really believes the Constitution Party platform or just sees the party as a way to serve his vanity run. But then I wasn’t a delegate to their convention last month and that’s where he was selected.

So, since I’m looking for the best person regardless of party, later this summer I will have to resurrect my issue-based search for the best candidate. I’m not sure this Don is my guy, either. This is especially true when compared to the common sense the CP’s last nominee espoused in response to the coronavirus.

Advice worth taking

Speaking of Presidential candidates and advice, my last Republican choice has written a smart op-ed about the pitfalls of businesses becoming too “woke” and alienating millions of consumers. It’s a shame this Bobby Jindal piece ran before the whole George Floyd episode because we’re seeing that on steroids right now.

Now I know conservative groups have wanted to boycott this or that for the last generation, but that really doesn’t work as a focused campaign. It’s the business side that Jindal appeals to, concluding, “businesses threaten to undermine the very conservative coalition that stands between them and ruinous policies on the Left.” I really don’t want those “ruinous policies,” thank you.

Programming notes

It’s taken a long time and quite a few turns, but I’m going to make an effort to finally finish my Indivisible series as my next or second-to-next post. I need to put it to bed.

In the meantime, I’m adding a personal page to this website. I’ve often referred to my faith in these posts and on social media, but never really detailed how I got there. This new page will serve as my testimony and if it brings even just one reader to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it’s worth placing.

Delaware, the Charlie Brown of states

John Carney is stunning in that blue dress, is he not?

Originally, the current state of emergency the First State is laboring under was supposed to expire on April 15, but days before that deadline was to occur Delaware Governor John Carney extended its provisions to May 15.

Yet despite the fact our state is “flattening the curve” and exhibits a trend of declining cases, this state of emergency and its onerous job-killing restrictions have yet again been extended through May 31. Lucy is yet again pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, meaning businesses that depend on a Memorial Day weekend surge to kick off their profitable summer season are now being starved yet again of their revenue source; meanwhile neighboring Maryland is cautiously reopening its beach areas. (This despite unseasonably cool weather in the region this weekend; something for which the extended forecast promises a makeup next weekend with highs here on the interior of slower lower Delaware passing the 80 degree mark.)

One extreme example of short-sightedness comes from the idea that farmer’s markets are “non-essential” in Delaware, so they can’t open until the state of emergency is lifted. Unfortunately, farmers need an outlet for some of their crops – perennials like asparagus and strawberries are early-season staples but they will rot in the field without outlets to sell them. Since the restaurant business is way down, farmers now face the question of whether to plant at all. If they don’t, then expect shortages and higher prices later this fall.

And while it’s more of a formality since the presumptive nominees have already been decided, the second postponement of the Delaware presidential primary until July 7 was completely unnecessary. Because the results are a fait accompli, voting could have been done safely with the addition of social distancing and personal protection on their initially rescheduled June 2 date. Instead, this push toward mail-in balloting seems to be the excuse to try to adopt it for November when much more is at stake: while Delaware is most likely a shoo-in for Joe Biden thanks to his longtime connection to the state, the governor’s chair, office of lieutenant governor, and control of the state legislature still hang in the balance. (The delay also affects a slew of local elections, including school boards which were pushed back to July 21.)

The next month or two is going to tell a tale in this country. We have states where personal responsibility is paramount, such as the otherwise generally ignored state of South Dakota where restrictions were very light, and we have states like Michigan and New York where governors seem to be drunk with power and, in the case of Michigan, ignore their legislative branch. Sadly, here in Delaware we have a governor run amok but no real opposition party to call him out on it. In fact, at this point in time there is no announced Republican candidate to oppose John Carney this November. (At the moment, the only contender is Libertarian John Machurek.)

That might be fine with the sheeple and Karens who continually complain about the out-of-state license plates on cars heading to the beach and want to keep the state closed, but there are those of us who echo Samuel Adams: “It does not take a majority to prevail . . . but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” We are definitely irate given the current state of affairs, but my question is just how tired the TEA Party movement has become. Maybe it needs a second wind.

So I’m going to close with a throwback Sunday. For the course of a few years I did a series of posts called Friday Night Videos. It began as a way of sharing political videos but eventually evolved into an outlet for local music, including some of the video I took for doing photos and posts for another longstanding series of mine called Weekend of Local Rock. (I still have a Youtube channel.)

But aside from the items I uploaded, one of my all-time favorite Friday Night videos on the music side came from a talented and patriotic New York-based singer named Ava Aston. If you have read this blog for awhile, you’ve seen this video before but I thought over the last week or so it was time to bring it back.

It was time to bring this song back…for the people.

(This is the original 2009 version – a few years later Ava did a remix but I like the original a little better.)

I realize we are in a pandemic, but shutting down should have been the last resort, not the first option. Let’s get things back to normal prudently, but quickly. And don’t believe Lucy when she puts down that football.

The rearview mirror

This was one of the copies I initially received from the publisher. If it’s copy 1 like I think it is then I believe it’s still in a box someplace from our move. It was the markup I used for the reading last June and the reference copy I kept for doing radio gigs.

I placed this photo on my social media page a year ago today. It was the first book out of the box of copies of my book that I kept for hand sales and promotions. So let me tell you about being an author and what a long, strange trip it’s been since that book came out 366 days ago.

When I put the book out after 2 1/2 years of writing it, I felt reasonably good about its prospects. I thought it was rather topical as it came out a decade after the initial TEA Party protests, and the peer reviews I had on it were positive. And the initial sales were actually encouraging after I did my first radio gig on it a couple days afterward (it was actually 52 weeks ago today, the same day Joe Biden made his formal announcement.) I had a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters, but of course I had no idea what sort of sales to expect.

Well, it’s disappointing to say that I’ve sold 26 copies through Amazon. However, I can at least say that’s more than my previous book has sold in almost eight years (a total of 18 copies.) But that doesn’t count the copies I have hand-sold in person, most of which I autographed as well. Somewhere in our house (or maybe out in the shed, who knows?) I have about 8-10 copies of my first book, which came from an original stock of 20 or 25. This time, though, I started with 25 and bought another 10, leaving me about a dozen remaining. Their disposition is an interesting story.

Out of the original stock of 25, I numbered each book from 1 to 25. I kept number 1 as my copy, tithed 2 through 4 to charity (still have those), and sent most of 5 through 10 to those who contributed to the writing. (I still have one because I’ve never been able to get a contributor’s home address even in several attempts to ask.) Out of 11 through 25 I have just a few remaining – many of them were sold at my reading back in June.

Among the second batch were a few I sent to various radio personalities who requested them. As I recall all but one of those eventually resulted in an interview, and that adds to the story.

Believe it or not, I’m way more comfortable with writing than I am with public speaking, even though I took a class in college to conquer that fear. (Shocker, huh?) I’m sure that comes through over the phone, but I also figured it was a job I had to do in order to try and spread the word given my marketing budget, which was basically zero. (I did find out it costs $3.27 to send my book anywhere from California to across town, not that I had to do the latter.)

So I spoke to various people everywhere from California to Delaware, for anywhere from seven minutes or so to a whole hour. It was a “virtual book tour” which took me from my adopted hometown to my real hometown, and from where I went to school to places I’ve never visited (or, frankly, heard of) before. There were small towns and big cities on the docket, but the last stop was a national one on an internet radio station called Southern Sense Radio. I did find out from doing sixteen or so shows that the longer I knew I had, the better the conversation flowed.

While all this was happening, I went through a move (hence, why I can’t find the spare copies) and went on vacation twice. Could I have been more diligent at marketing? Perhaps, but I also work full-time. (You may gather I’m that diligent at unpacking. But I told my wife we have the rest of our lives.)

A few months after the release, I decided it would be a good idea to follow up on the loose ends I had to leave untied to finish the book by last April. Thus was born the quarterly State of the TEA Party updates, the last of which I did a couple weeks ago – a little early but necessary to be topical. It’s been a concept that’s evolved a little bit and probably will some more before it’s through.

It’s been a tremendous and tumultuous year since I put out this book. It’s interesting to ponder how the release of the book would have gone over had it come out this year, but it’s still out there if you want to read it for the history. I think I’ll go onto Amazon tonight and give you a little incentive by cutting the price. (Hey, I have reached triple digits in royalties, at least.)

As for the next book? Honestly, I can’t say for sure whether I have another one in me. Over the years I have kicked around a couple concepts, and I got as far as a couple chapters on the Indivisible movement. (I still owe you one last part on that story – maybe in the next couple weeks.)

If anything, I have the most desire to write a sequel update to my first book, So We May Breathe Free. Once upon a time I had thought about writing a tome on the struggle between Big Oil and the green energy movement – something more on my radar when I had Marita Noon (now Marita Tedder) as a columnist, but not so much now. (I still keep a few tabs on energy, but to turn a phrase I don’t have as much energy as I used to.)

The other idea I’ve had from time to time is a project I call 600 Words. It’s been over a decade now, but once upon a time I toiled as an (unpaid) columnist for an outfit called Liberty Features Syndicate. (The title refers to their optimum column length.) Most of the time these once- or twice-weekly pieces ended up on the website of a group called Americans for Limited Government, but once in awhile I would find out some small-town newspaper also ran my column. I think it would be an interesting idea to follow up on what happened to the subject of the columns, as history may or may not have been kind to them, and maybe it would have the autobiographical element of perhaps one of the most uncertain times of my life. Between 600 Words and the sequel to So We May Breathe Free, 600 Words is definitely more the vanity project.

I guess that’s the life of a part-time author who’s become a (very) part-time blogger too. If you have pity on me and want to buy the book – or if you like a good read on history (yeah, that’s the ticket!) the link to Rise and Fall remains above the fold on my front page. Let’s see if I can beat my year one sales in year two.

Patriots Day version 2.0?

This has become the season of discontent.

Weary of restrictions spawned by a virus we imported from a nation which has generally meant us harm – one which has continually underperformed extreme expectations insofar as hospitalizations and deaths are concerned – Americans are beginning to bristle at their restrictions as a federally-imposed April 30 restoration date approaches.

While it’s the proper method Constitutionally, states which have clamped down on their populace based on the Wuhan flu’s effect on certain urban areas now exist cheek-by-jowl with states using a more laissez-faire approach. Yet as the pressure mounts to restore liberty, governors in several states have adopted a more regional approach: the three West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington are planning a more concerted (and more restrictive) reopening, as are governors in seven northeastern states including mine in Delaware – the other states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Of that group, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was the last to join and is the first Republican.

Chances are these ten states will exhibit a slothful, “go-slow” approach designed (at least to the public) to enhance safety. In political terms, some cynics would counter that the slow movement is designed to tank the economy further, extending any possible recovery beyond the November elections. (It’s interesting to note that, of the ten governors involved, only two are on the ballot this year – Jay Inslee in Washington state and John Carney here in Delaware. But both are considered safe Democrat seats nonetheless. I’m not even aware if the GOP has a contender here in Delaware.) On the other side, a handful of non-allied states have never provided more than just limited restrictions and Texas is leading an effort to quickly start things back up from a restrictive state.

At noon today in Annapolis, Marylanders were scheduled to hold a protest imploring Governor Larry Hogan (aka “Lockdown Larry”) to move quickly in bringing Maryland back. The morning’s rain should have cleared out in time, so we will see what develops out of this protest – I expect maybe a couple hundred people will show up. (There are two separate protests planned thus far in Delaware – one on Wednesday and one on May 1.)

But what concerns me are the people I see on social media who have traded their liberty for a security the government can’t assure regardless of whether we have masks on, close all the so-called non-essential businesses, or practice social distancing. (If I never hear that phrase again after this is over, it will be too soon.) When the governor puts cops on the side of the road to pull over cars with out-of-state license plates, they’re the ones who say “go for it, we want more!” I wouldn’t be surprised if those who advocate for this are secure in their jobs – after all, those who aren’t working have the most time to protest.

The other day my friend Bob Densic asked me if this could be the resurrection of the TEA Party movement. After I pondered it a moment, this is what I said:

“You know, that thought DID cross my mind. There are two big differences though. First off, you’re going to have a more “purist” group, although we will see just how well they know the Constitution when it comes to federalism and rule of law. One key thing to watch is the reaction to these compacts between (mostly Democrat) governors, one of which involves us here in Delaware.

The other aspect that I would like to see is the absence of hypocrisy. You would have TP people complain about the stimulus but then turn around and warn, ‘don’t touch my Social Security (and/or Medicare),’ not realizing it was a large component of the problem! This one isn’t so much financial – an argument can be made that the stimulus is, in part, repayment per the Takings Clause since the government shut down – but is more rights-based, sort of like the civil rights movement.”

If it takes a virus to remind us of our rights, so be it. (I’m also heartened by the uptick in Bible reading since this all began.) But it’s time to turn talk into action as we commemorate the first Patriots Day on Sunday.

A business state of emergency

It’s amazing in a way to think that we’ve only gone a week and change since the NBA suspended its season in an effort to stifle the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Since then we have endured a week of drastic bad news the likes of which we haven’t seen since 9/11 and perhaps longer. What was shaping up to be a pleasant spring routine has now been destroyed, along with the hopes and dreams of anyone who wanted to participate in the NCAA basketball tournament, their senior proms, and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, among countless other annual and special events.

On Tuesday night we resumed our bowling season under different rules, splitting the league squads into two shifts to keep the number in the bowling alley below 50. Unfortunately, that change was short-lived as Governor Carney expanded his previous State of Emergency order the next day to demand the closing of bowling alleys, among other businesses.

While I get the necessity of the closings to “flatten the curve” my problem is the open-endedness of such an order. While there is CDC guidance suggesting this will last about eight weeks, the reality is that many people and businesses can’t survive an eight-week shutdown, at least not without some sort of mitigation. I love how the private sector has moved into action in a lot of cases.

Now let me make a confession: I was sort of stuck as to how to continue this post, at least until I got a comment to Wednesday’s Patriot Post commentary that I shared by Mark Alexander. This response is from a person I’ve known for awhile who is well over on the other side of the political fence, and is quoted verbatim:

Jesus christ ppl are losing jobs, dying, mass hysteria, and hoarding of vital medical supplies. I am working as so many other low paid workers in constant contact with people of high and low risk of severe illness. This is not political. The facts are this we are not prepared and a clown is running the circus. I dont want people to lose their homes, jobs, lives. Or leader need to put their big girl panties on and do what’s right for the millions of Americans and not ask first what party or income bracket they belong in.

Reaction to social media post

This whole situation has been a balancing act I wouldn’t wish on anyone because you have two bad choices: go about normal life, leave the disease essentially unchecked, and overwhelm our health system, OR, shut down everything and place people out of work. President Trump has advised for the latter course but has left enforcement up to state and local officials. To me that’s the proper way to address this because they are more familiar with conditions on the ground, and besides: you can’t completely shut everything down because people have to eat.

And I have to ask: how do you prepare for something like this, a once-in-a-century disease? If we had somehow stocked up on respirators, medicine, and so forth ten years ago, say, as part of the stimulus, wouldn’t someone have complained that we were spending money to store supplies that might have deteriorated to the point of being useless by now anyway? It’s one thing to fill an oil reserve but quite another to stock up on testing kits for a disease that doesn’t exist at the time. Leaders can be prescient but I don’t think they’re often psychic.

So I will grant that we weren’t prepared, but then again that’s the nature of a crisis. We can only prepare ourselves so much for any particular risk so we go with what we know about risks we have experienced at the expense of other ones. (Cases in point: terrorist attacks begat the PATRIOT Act and Department of Homeland Security, both of which have survived nearly two decades now, and school shootings have necessitated upgrades to school buildings which do not necessarily improve the educational process.) After this Chinese virus has run its course we will probably go overboard with products and procedures that will be infringements on our wallets and liberty. (If it brings pharmaceutical manufacturing back from China, though, that would be a benefit.)

On the other hand, I don’t think we have a clown running the circus. A President Hillary Clinton would have dictated a more bureaucratic and more politically correct solution – in my opinion it would have paralleled Italy’s and sadly, that’s been a disaster for the Italian people who are sharing their misery with a huge Chinese national contingent within their nation. The experts have agreed that clamping down on travel from China when President Trump did may have saved thousands from getting the virus and overwhelming the American health care system. And, unfortunately, I don’t think slow Joe Biden would have fared any better than Hillary had this crisis occurred next year after his election. To a greater extent than we are already saddled with, the folks in a Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden administration would have seen this as a crisis they could have used to permanently secure more federal government power.

(That’s not to say those under Trump are immune – I’m somewhat leery of how we will address the financial end by setting a precedent of government payments. One can argue, however, that this direct payment would be compensation for the taking of one’s livelihood since many places of business were forced to close. Perhaps a complementary way to address this, though, would be to bolster state unemployment accounts.)

So thanks to my friend for giving me the inspiration to revise and extend these remarks – I started this on Wednesday but hadn’t felt the need to return to it until that response.

Putting the world on hold

They tell us it’s “flattening the curve.”

However, there are a huge number of economic impacts we will need to go through now that the Wuhan coronavirus escaped its Chinese captivity and has gone global. Let’s just look at one arena of economics for example. (And yes, the pun was intended.)

On Wednesday, just after I put up my previous post, it was announced that the NBA season was “suspended” until further notice. This quickly extended to the NHL and MLB, with the NCAA topping all of them and completely cancelling ALL winter and spring championship events. (In other words, it’s not just March Madness: the College World Series, normally held in late May into June, is off, too.)

I already feel horrible for those seniors who may have been going to The Dance for the first and only time in their college careers, but one also has to consider those people whose livelihood depends in part on these events. It’s two dates that the workers at the Mercedes-Benz arena in Atlanta will now be off, not to mention the host facilities of the other regionals that are held over two nights at various venues. (In the early rounds, this can be a full shift from noon to 9 or 10 at night.) Even worse is the fate of those who work at NBA or NHL host arenas, as their facilities are often used 5 nights a week or more thanks to sports, concerts, and other large gatherings. The same goes for spring training venues, which are used nearly every day during this time of year thanks to teams sharing fields and split-squad games. Now these facilities are closed to the public and these employees are out of work.

Generally these workers are the folks who were barely scraping by, so this pandemic is going to make it more difficult for them to pay their bills. (One exception: those who work for Ilitch Holdings, which owns Little Caesars along with the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, among other entertainment properties. They are going to compensate part-timers for games and events they miss thanks to the cancellations, which included the NCAA hockey Frozen Four.)

So there are a number of events which will be lost and never made up; lost opportunities for commerce. Granted, public health is important but my gut feeling is that we’ve overreacted to this epidemic insofar as governmental entities are concerned. It’s one thing for a privately-run league to suspend operations for several weeks, but government declaring a state of emergency and forcing the cancellation of events slated to hold more than a few dozen people may be a little beyond the pale. These things should be decided by organizers, not dictated. Believe it or not – and despite the hoarders who think they need two cases of toilet paper – we have a little common sense left in this world.

I also believe we needed an end date to this state of emergency, or at least a date certain to re-evaluate the situation. Declare a state of emergency through March 31, with an interim deadline of perhaps March 28 to determine further course of action. (The professional baseball world at least knows two weeks’ worth of games will be cancelled, so that alternate planning can take place.) Much of the reason the stock market and oil futures have tanked over the last month is the uncertainty of the situation. Now we can’t predict a virus, but I think we can at least give a firm date for attempting to return to normal.

As I see it, leaving stuff open-ended gives potential for additional mischief from the “never let a crisis go to waste” crowd. We’re already staring a recession dead in the face (unless pent-up demand rescues us in 2020 Q2) and, being an election year, we know what that means. As always, the government has to do something to insure its re-election as opposed to following the Constitution or adhering to limited-government principles that would suggest a more hands-off approach.

We’ve already seen what a media-enhanced panic looks like by checking out the store shelves, so it’s time for vigilance and, once this is over, preparation for the next time. Trust me, it WILL happen again.

Is it hype or reality?

If I were to categorize my state of health, I would argue that it’s relatively good. Yes, I weigh more than I should but the blood work always seems to come back fine. It’s a blessing that I’m glad to have considering how many others suffer.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been reminded what suffering is thanks to the spread of the coronavirus, or, more appropriately, Wuhan virus. It took a few weeks to learn what virulent effects it was having on the people around the Chinese city of Wuhan, but as it spreads around the world we hear fears of a pandemic on the scale of the Spanish flu a century ago, where millions in a war-ravaged global population perished. (Reports suggest its effects casualty-wise were worse than the First World War, which was coming to an end just as the influenza was beginning to spread.)

Because of that fear, we are treated to breathless accounts of rapidly dwindling supplies of surgical masks, disinfectant, and toilet paper. The Dow Jones and other markets have plunged, major events cancelled, entire countries are being placed into lockdown over the Wuhan virus, and even our church has played into this paranoia as shaking hands has been discouraged at the greeting time built into the service.

If you know me well enough, you know I’m something of a born skeptic about certain things, and Wuhan virus is quickly falling into that category. There are just too many reasons to believe that there’s much more sizzle than steak when it comes to our seemingly biannual dread disease that’s going to wipe us all out. (If we survived SARS, which is more easily spread, we can handle Wuhan virus.)

Now the conspiracy buffs among us could speculate that the whole thing is a Chinese plot to try and crash our economy, paving the way for a President more to their liking than Donald Trump, who has been a difficult adversary when it comes to trade. It is interesting to note, though, how the federal reaction once thought to be too strict is now being portrayed as an albatross around Trump’s neck worse than Hurricane Katrina was for President George W. Bush. And as I noted above, the media has been complicit in stoking up fear.

After the topic came up for discussion at our small group tonight, I had another thought on the way home. Now it’s nothing completely out of the ordinary for schools to close because of the flu, as it happens from time to time when a school finds a significant percentage of its kids are sick. But the measures being taken such as cancelling in-person classes in favor of online lessons for the foreseeable future or keeping workers at home, as well as the talk of scrubbing pro sports games (as of about 30 minutes after I posted this, it’s no longer talk) or, more likely, holding them in closed stadiums – go beyond the pale into uncharted territory.

What this all reminds me of was the time period immediately after 9/11, and we have some eerie parallels. You may recall that both MLB and the NFL postponed an entire week’s worth of games (which, by the way, was how we got November baseball for the first time. I remember seeing the “Welcome to November Baseball” sign at old Yankee Stadium as the October 31 World Series Game 4 dragged past midnight into November.) But it’s also worth pointing out schools remained closed for several days after the terrorist attack, and life wasn’t really something close to normal for weeks – or months, in the case of the New York and D.C. regions. (Or so I presume since I was still in Ohio back then.)

And it could be much the same type of situation here, except the impacts are in different areas, such as the global supply chain, financial markets, and perhaps oil industry – has the sudden, unexpected drop in demand from a moribund China led to a schism in the market as Russia and Saudi Arabia could not agree to supply cuts to re-establish $60 a barrel oil? Tonight I even saw the “r” word being mentioned in the same story that noted the latest decline in the Dow Jones makes it official: the post-Great Recession bull market is officially over after 11 years. Stocks have fallen 20 percent off their peak of just a few weeks ago.

Long story short: Wuhan virus is a reality and chances are it will spread to a point where some areas are hard hit, just like any flu season. But there’s a lot more hype on this one because there’s a larger agenda being held by some people. Right now the news deserves a little larger grain of salt.