Mt. Hermon Plow Days 2021 in pictures and text

It felt good to be out of the rain. No, actually, to shorten up the song lyric, it felt good to be out.

In thinking about doing this post, I got to pondering how long it had been since I’d done a “pictures and text” post – turns out it’s been over two years. These were once staples of my site, but frequency decreased as I became less active politically. It was understandable about the last year since most events (including the proposed 2020 rendition of Plow Days) were scrubbed, but I can’t figure out what happened to 2019. I guess a lot of it was consumed by our house hunting and move, plus a couple family vacations along the way.

Anyway, the nice thing about using the newer version of WordPress is the more intuitive captioning feature so you can truly have pictures and text.

A little about this event: it was the fourteenth annual rendition, although I’m not sure if last year’s scrubbed event was deemed the thirteenth annual or not. While I don’t believe it’s an official ministry of the Salisbury Baptist Temple, many of those involved locally are also active in that church. As they describe it, “We invite you to take a step back in time and learn how country people lived a century ago when rural America had no electricity and very few tractors.”

As far as my history with Mt. Hermon Plow Days goes, I think this is the third or fourth one I’ve attended and what I recall about the previous events was that it generally seemed cold and windy. Perhaps it was the extra week in April – Plow Days’ traditional date is the first Saturday in April but this year that fell on Easter weekend – but as you’ll see, the weather was warm and sunny. I got a little bit of sun to be sure.

I decided to place these in the order I took them.

This was the midway when we arrived around 11:30. As you can see, there were quite a few people who were already in shirt sleeves checking out the wares of about ten or twelve vendors selling everything from jelly to cookware to pottery. There was also a petting zoo along here, which I will return to shortly.
These were some of the implements old-time farmers used behind their horses. Each had a little sign with its name and particular use.
We’ve seen this stagecoach a lot during the summer because they keep it at Salisbury Baptist Temple and use it as part of their “Summer Fun” weekly camps. The sign in the background reads “A Day in the Life of a Plower’s Wife” and there were exhibits regarding that as well.
Visitors also got to try their hand at plowing a row behind the horses. It was also a chance for kids to see the horses up close, which they enjoyed. I’m sure it’s a tough and bumpy ride.
Not only were there horses there, but also mules (hey, they can pull a plow, too.) They took their turns pulling, although I think this guy was there more for showing the kids.
Lucky kids got to ride in the rumble seat of this old beauty. It wasn’t quite a century old (the front plate said 1930 as I recall) but close enough. Seemed to run pretty well, although I didn’t get to see if it came under its own power or on a trailer.
The leader of the band, so to speak, is Oren Perdue. The founder of Salisbury Baptist Temple, Pastor Perdue is still active with this event (as well as with his church and the Summer Fun camp, although he’s handed those day-to-day reins to others.) I think I’ve featured the good Pastor a couple times in my coverage of the Wicomico County Fair, where we’ve played hooky from our church to attend his annual service there.
A closer view of how the professionals do it. Not sure which of the seven teams featuring 11 different drivers this was, but they came to this event from as far away as North Carolina. It was actually a down year for participation – because the event was pushed back a week from normal, a few teams didn’t come out. Normally we have teams from five or six states.
This was part of the “Plower’s Wife” exhibit I referred to. There were also three tents on the other side of the steps, but I didn’t like how that photo came out so you just get this one.
I don’t think they were selling autographs, but it was nice that people had an opportunity to ask questions and generally make these visitors feel welcome. Many of them have made it to most of the renditions of Mt. Hermon Plow Days, which has become an April tradition for them. Also, I believe the vehicle in the lower right of the shot belonged to one of the local TV stations so they were out covering the event, too.
This is my “awwwww” factor shot. Not many kids can resist the opportunity to pet these kids. (Nor can my wife!) Just wash your hands and make sure to sanitize after stopping by the petting zoo along the midway.
Actually, it was a good idea to wash your hands anyway because there was food there – not just these three food trucks, but also a tent selling oyster sandwiches (that closed early due to high demand), a former short bus selling slushies, and a booth with kettle korn. My wife waited in line 40 minutes while I took a few of the photos above and grabbed a shady picnic table spot. Next year they might need a couple more trucks!
The last photo is of the midway from the other side – I believe the line to the left was at the souvenir shirt booth. As you can see, the kids had plenty to do besides the animals.

A couple things I missed in my trip around: one was the band, which was a five-piece string group called (what else) the Mt. Olivet String Band. They were just finishing up by the time I walked over there, so I caught them breaking down and that’s not a good picture. I also missed the introduction of dignitaries (generally Wicomico County local politicians and a couple media personalities) who were there. I saw the politicians enough in the last ten years, so I didn’t get up from eating lunch to grab photos. (I did cross paths with Sheriff Mike Lewis enough to say a quick “hi” as he rushed by.)

And we didn’t stay long enough to check out the horse-powered treadmill shelling corn.

If they can guarantee the same weather for next year, we may swing by again. Just teasing – I’m sure we will stop by if our schedule allows. Plow Days is a nice introduction to spring and I’m glad it came back without the wokescolds complaining about how few out of the 1,500 to 2,000 I’m guessing were there yesterday for at least part of the time were wearing face diapers.

It was great to feel back to normal for a day.

Who should do the rebuilding?

The word of the month seems to be “infrastructure.” Everyone seems to think we need the federal government to put up billions and trillions of dollars of money we don’t have to do stuff we probably don’t really need, such as “clean energy.” (Regular old not quite as clean energy already created millions of jobs, some of which the current administration is hellbent on losing.)

One group which has laid the guilt trip on thick is one you may expect: the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I wasn’t sure if this was a pitch for their cause or for fundraising (not that they need any since I’m sure most of their funding comes from union dues and affiliated industry groups.)

Did you see the news out of Florida?

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate near Tampa Bay this weekend because a leak had sprung at a wastewater reservoir. It threatened to unleash hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water, potentially causing a “catastrophic flood.”

Imagine having to evacuate your home because of a potential flood of toxic water.

While the exact cause of the leak is not yet known, the failure of critical infrastructure like this is, sadly, not a surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave U.S. wastewater systems a “D+” grade, and the situation in Florida is just another example of the real-life consequences of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Nearly 200 people died earlier this year in Texas when the state’s power grid failed during winter storms. Hundreds of thousands of people in Jackson, Mississippi were left without clean drinking water for weeks after storms wreaked havoc on the city’s water infrastructure.

It shouldn’t be like this – and it doesn’t have to be like this.

“Deadly Power Outages. A Potential ‘Catastrophic Flood.’ No Drinking Water. Enough is enough!” E-mail from AAM, April 6, 2021. (Emphasis in original.)

You’re right, it doesn’t have to be like this. But it certainly doesn’t need to be a top-down solution with funding doled out to the favored and connected, either.

After reading a little bit about the issue in Florida, it appears the state is going to pay for the cleanup – out of federal money they received from the stimulus program. (So the state is really not paying for it.) Of course, the owner of the facility in question is bankrupt so they couldn’t deal with it even if they were found liable for the breach in the reservoir liner.

And then you have the Texas situation, which was one where the utilities cut a corner, figuring they would never have to put up with such a storm – until they did. It’s one of those cases where the state will probably chase some good money after bad, doing what the utilities probably should have done to little effect since they likely won’t have another bad winter storm like that for decades. It’s probably the same thing in Jackson, Mississippi, except I’m sure local ratepayers have been funding the needed repairs for decades. It just sounds like they didn’t get the needed repairs, which makes me wonder just what they spent the money on.

And so on and so forth. Look, we have a need for infrastructure improvements, but the problem is that very little of this Biden proposal actually goes to infrastructure. If you want more infrastructure funding, it’s not about who supplies the coin so much as it is about spending it efficiently. If you want more bang for the infrastructure buck, there are a couple quick ways of doing so: eliminate the layers of environmental review which get used as a delaying tactic by the NIMBYs of the world, and repeal the Davis-Bacon wage rates so that contractors aren’t chained to sky-high labor costs. That’s just two quick ways of getting more repair and less red tape.

Sadly, we’ll get the stuff we don’t need and the bill to boot.

Odds and ends number 103

The e-mail box is filling up fast these days, so after just a month I felt the need to relieve some of that pressure, as it were. Plus I just felt like writing something over the weekend (how’s that for honesty?)

As I have said probably 100 times or so in the past, these are dollops of bloggy goodness which aren’t promoted to a post but deserve some sort of mention, whether a few sentences or a handful of paragraphs.

The protectionist racket

I’ve referred to this man and group many times in the past, but the Alliance for American Manufacturing and their president Scott Paul are nothing if not consistent. After the February job numbers came out, Paul had this to say:

It’s good to see factory job growth resume after January’s slump, but the pace must pick up. At this rate, recovering all the manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic will take more than two years.

That’s why it is so important for Congress and the Biden administration to speedily complete the short-term COVID-19 rescue package, and then shift to work on a sustained, robust public investment in infrastructure, clean energy, and innovation.

One thing to point out here: January goods imports were the highest on record. Made in America procurement efforts and the rebuilding of domestic supply chains couldn’t come at a better time.

Alliance for American Manufacturing press release, March 5, 2021.

I always appreciate their perspective; Lord knows their hearts are in the right place. But what has always concerned me about the AAM’s steadfast support of protectionism is what I call the Trabant effect, named after the East German car that vanished once the Berlin Wall came down and former denizens of that communist regime could buy other cars that were thirty years more advanced.

I believe we have better workers than China could ever have, although it’s worth noting that China didn’t start eating our lunch until they adopted a hybrid mix of totalitarian government with just enough capitalism to keep people from starving. There are certainly some in the wealthy category in China, but they aren’t self-made – they have to have some connection to the ruling party in order to succeed.

Even without taxpayer “investment” in infrastructure we have enough of a market to create massive wealth, if the government would just get out of the way. That’s where I often part with the AAM, which is an extension of several steelworker unions.

Illustrating absurdity

We all know that Joe Biden has made a mockery of a situation that President Trump was quickly gaining control of: border security and illegal immigration. But when you see things in graphic form, as the Heritage Foundation has put together, the changes are brought into perspective.

It’s sad that, out of 22 policy areas the Heritage Foundation has identified, that Biden and his cronies have made changes to all but two, taking us in the wrong direction. Once upon a time America was supposed to have 11 million illegal immigrants, but I would posit that number is twice that now and may be triple or quadruple that by the time Biden is through.

The problem with strategists

I’ve liked Bobby Jindal for a long time, but I think he has a poor choice in writing partners sometimes.

Perhaps I should have had a clue when the piece appeared in Newsweek, which isn’t exactly a conservative publication, but he and a “Republican strategist” by the name of Alex Castellanos opined there on “Separating Trump from Trumpism.” I had not heard of the latter previously, so when it was noted in the bio that he had worked on four different Presidential campaigns, I was curious to know which four – turns out he was busy for awhile since the list was Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Jeb! Bush. So we’re basically talking a classic #NeverTrump personality here along with a guy whose behind was kicked by The Donald in the 2016 campaign.

I sort of gleaned the direction they were heading when they warned, “Unless the GOP creates an alternative version of Trumpism, without Trump, he’ll be back.” However, there is a little wheat among the chaff here:

Republicans must jettison Trump’s demeanor, but pick up where Trump’s policies left off. They should fight the concentration of political and economic power that has benefitted technology and financial giants, gather allies to force China to compete economically on a level playing field and reshape the government’s spending, immigration, trade and tax policies to benefit the working class. They can show how an open economy, bottom-up growth and limited government can empower and enrich working-class Americans more than any old, top-down, artificial program. These policies will benefit working-class and all Americans willing to invest their labor and talents towards living even bigger American dreams.

Bobby Jindal and Alex Castellanos, “Separating Trump from Trumpism is Key to the GOP’s Future,” Newsweek, March 1, 2021.

There was a lot about Trumpism that I liked, including the unvarnished patriotism, the willingness to be pro-life, and the complete honesty in dealing with the elites and media. Those of us in the heartland didn’t like either of those groups, but we weren’t seeing any push back from the GOP despite its goading by the TEA Party, among others. It almost makes you wonder who wanted him out more – the Democrats or the elites who still count themselves Republicans in the same vein as Dole, the Bushes, and Mitt Romney.

Stick to writing your own stuff, Bobby – that is, if you want to keep the little bit of relevancy you have. You have the lanes figured out correctly, although in this case I hope you eventually choose the right path.

Although, on second thought, since you’re now pushing for a huge federal infrastructure bill like Joe Biden is, maybe it’s too late.

Placating Woke-O Haram

To Erick Erickson, there is a new religion:

Secularism is, in fact, a religion.  It has sacraments like support for abortion rights.  It has tithing in which secular adherents give money to various political and social causes.  It has liturgies in the new speak of wokeness.  It has theological tracts and church services as rally and protest and Episcopal mass.  It has even spurred the rise of terrorist zealots and the new censorious social justice warriors I have taken to calling Woke-O Haram.

Erick Erickson, “Secular Indulgences,” March 11, 2021.

The initial comparison Erickson makes is the Catholic Church at the time of Martin Luther, which is somewhat appropriate. But the indulgences once sold to pay for St. Peter’s Basilica are now being extorted from businesses in a perverse form of wealth redistribution from industrialized nations to those on the other end of the scale – that is, whatever’s left after those in charge of the redistribution take their cut.

And the funny thing about this whole climate change enigma is that there is no control mechanism. We cannot predict with certainty how the weather will be a month out, so who can believe that doing whatever job-killing, income-robbing scheme Radical Green dreams up will make a significant dent? And when it falls short of predictions – as it always does – then the problem will be that we didn’t do enough, not that the whole idea we could have an effect was bullshit from the start.

It’s like the cynical philosophy I’ve come to embrace in my adult life: government is not in the business of solving problems, for if the solutions they came up with worked, there wouldn’t be a need for them. For government, job preservation is the true Job One. Believers in Radical Green are the same way, so they come up with wilder schemes and excuses to justify their beliefs.

The national impact races

Had I thought more about the post I did on the Laurel school board election, I would have quoted an e-mail I received from iVoter Guide:

Many of the problems that threaten our nation today can be traced to years of misplaced priorities in our public schools. Our children are not learning how to become citizens who appreciate, defend, and cultivate the values and principles our nation was founded upon. This responsibility and power rests with our school boards—positions largely overlooked by the general public, but captured by Leftist organizations and special interest groups who have exercised their influence over our children for far too long.

The good news is, with relatively few votes compared to higher office elections, the trajectory of our school boards and the nation can start to change when principled candidates are elected. This is why iVoterGuide is launching a trial program to equip Christian and conservative voters to engage in these high-impact elections. (Link in original.)

Debbie Wuthnow, “From the Classroom to Congress: Your Schools Matter,” iVoterGuide e-mail, March 4, 2021.

In this case, they are doing a test run of 20 Texas school districts to see how well their voter information program translates to that level. Yet, bringing it back to my school district as an example, it’s hard to find much on these races because the participants (particularly the incumbents) know the race is more on name recognition and who you know rather than on particular issues the schools are dealing with. Most of what information I found the last time I went through this a year ago came from a lengthy profile on the race in the Laurel Star newspaper.

Common sense and sunshine in Delaware?

I suspect he’s lining himself up for bigger things down the road, and he’s not even my representative, but State Rep. Bryan Shupe has a good idea.

HCR10 would require the Delaware General Assembly to stream and videotape proceedings, to include committee meetings. That’s important because those meetings are where the sausage is ground – legislation is generally massaged at the committee level and the horsetrading to get things passed should be a matter of public record.

The fact that the bill has a “modest” amount of co-sponsors, however, tells me the state’s legislative body would rather keep things behind closed doors. (In reality, the bill has five Senate sponsors and co-sponsors along with 11 from the House. Among the group, three are Democrats and the rest Republican.)

I get that the behavior may change because legislators may play more to the camera, but subsequent elections can correct that problem. We should have more transparency in the First State, not less.

One final Palm Sunday item

My original story for this last slot was Delaware-related, but I decided to promote it to a full piece. Instead, as our church was retold today, Jesus had a tough week beginning on the first Palm Sunday.

As it turned out, Erick Erickson wrote on the subject today, so I’ll close with him.

Today is Palm Sunday, the day in which Christians remember Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem. He entered as a king with people laying palm branches before him. Given the population of the day, it is very, very likely that many who hailed him as a king on Palm Sunday were yelling “crucify him” on Good Friday.

(…)

The moral laws of Christianity are not the laws you follow to get eternal life. They are the moral laws you follow out of love for Christ as you feel him transforming you. As you become more Christ like through the regeneration he sparks in you, you want to be more like Christ. You become more Christlike over time, but you know if you fail you are forgiven. If you fall short, you have grace. Your sin fights back against the regeneration but the regeneration continues.

Two thousand years ago today, Christ Jesus entered Jerusalem a conquering king. But he promised no revolution of strength. He said the strong would be weak and the weak would be strong. He upended the secular paradigms and, for that, the world killed him.

Erick Erickson, “Hail the King. Kill Him.” March 28, 2021.

You may have had a bad week at some point, but just bear in mind that our Lord made flesh knew how his week would end yet still went through with it. This is a good piece because it’s yet another reminder that God has this.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

Odds and ends number 102

I’m bringing back those chunks of blogging goodness that take anywhere from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs.

A surplus? Give it back!

It’s been a tough year for state governments around the nation, and Delaware was no exception. But there was a surprise when the First State beancounters came up with the numbers at the end of the year – we had a $347 million surplus thanks to record real estate transfer taxes and very successful IPOs.

Of course, just because we have an extra $347 million doesn’t mean the state won’t have plans for the money that don’t involve returning it to the hard-working taxpayers of Delaware. But I also noticed this nugget: “At one time, far more people came into Delaware to work, but it’s been closer to 50-50 recently, officials said Monday. And many of those who leave Delaware, but are now working at home, have higher paying jobs than those coming from out of state to work in Delaware.” I’m one of those 65,000 who leave Delaware to work, which was the reverse of where we were before we moved when my wife was one of the 65,000 who came into Delaware to work. Neither of us have a typical “work from home” job (although mine is a more likely candidate – not counting the side hustles I actually do from the comfort of my rocking chair) so the gig economy hasn’t hit us yet.

If they are taxing us too much, give it back. If they’re not taxing us enough; well, we don’t need everything the state spends its money on.

A little help from their friends

We had some issues in Texas a couple weeks back, and in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the left-leaners at the Alliance for American Manufacturing are now demanding a “Made in America” infrastructure bill. As Texas resident Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch wrote at the group’s behest:

It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.

These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.

“TAKE ACTION: What Happened in Texas Could Happen Anywhere”, Alliance for American Manufacturing, February 18, 2021

In fact, in the e-mail, Brotherton-Bunch actually says, “The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.”

Suppose, however, that the federal infrastructure bill did away with Davis-Bacon laws that add labor costs to the project unnecessarily. Sure, the leftist groups that back prevailing wage will tell you that the increased wage brings an increase in productivity, but to me that claim is rather dubious. Surely the reason the AAM really wants the infrastructure bill is to prop up their union backers – just like the push for an overall $15 minimum wage most benefits Big Labor in general and the SEIU in particular – moreover, if it goes to things the federal government may want that may not be what the locality needs.

Infrastructure in most cases should be more of a state priority. We’ve spent enough federal money for three lifetimes in mine, but those in power now want to put drunken sailors to shame. I guess the AAM just wants their cut.

The hopeful tone didn’t age well

Just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Bobby Jindal – the two-term governor of Louisiana and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (the one I endorsed initially) placed an op-ed at the Fox News site that sounded conciliatory toward the incoming administration, pointing out areas of common ground between the perceived moderate Biden and populist Republicans that backed Trump. In part, this was because President Trump…

…modified the traditional conservative argument that the problem was government was doing too much for too many — and instead argued it was not doing enough for the right people.

Trump expanded the definition of the deserving poor to include everyday working families whose wages had stagnated for years. Democrats have long used similar arguments to enact universal social welfare programs. President Obama cited the plight of working Americans to include both Medicaid expansion for the poor and exchange subsidies under ObamaCare for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

And Trump tapped into working-class anxiety by promising to pursue policies, like tighter immigration controls, tariffs, farm aid, and renegotiated trade deals, that would protect their jobs and incomes from unfair foreign competition.

Trump further promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefited his base supporters, while railing against a corrupt Washington establishment that conspired to enrich the coastal elites and expand wasteful redistribution programs for favored liberal constituencies.

But Trump seemed more interested in adding spending he liked — such as military spending, his border wall, his long-promised infrastructure bill, and direct pandemic assistance — than in eliminating spending he did not like.

“Bobby Jindal: Biden may find support for some proposals among populist Republicans in Congress,” FoxNews.com, January 17, 2021.

This big-government populism was the philosophy candidates like Lauren Witzke ran on last year.

I would agree with Jindal except for the fact that Democrats inside the Beltway seldom backed Trump’s initiatives despite the fact that a significant number of rank-and-file Democrats in the Rust Belt and other areas of flyover country eschewed the 2016 Democrat standardbearer Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump.

However, it should be said that the trajectory of history pre-pandemic was favoring Trump’s contention we could grow our way out of a deficit, as the annual shortages were coming down until trillions of dollars of stimulus and transfer payments were supposedly made necessary thanks to the “15 days to stop the spread” that are now closing in on a year in many places. Had Trump not been denied a second term he may have been proven correct.

But it was disappointing to read this from a man who was a successful budget-cutter in his home state, making the tough choices to save taxpayer dollars. And as an aside, one of those “common ground” issues Jindal cited was infrastructure.

First it was RGGI, now it’s TCI

It’s been percolating under the surface for quite awhile now, but when you start talking about a potential gas tax increase, people begin to listen.

It wasn’t enough to address so-called manmade climate change by developing a way for public utilities to transfer protection money to state governments (also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or as the subtitle suggests, RGGI) – nope, they decided to attack the internal combustion engine in the same way. As Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort explained at Delaware Online back in December 2020:

As Delaware faces a significant drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) can offer needed funding for communities along Routes 13 and 40 and other pollution burdened areas across Delaware, including Route 9, Northeast Wilmington, Belvedere Newport and Sussex County. TCI is a collaboration between eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., who have been working to develop a regional cap and invest program that would significantly cut tailpipe pollution while building a fair and just zero-emission transportation system.

“Building a transportation and climate initiative that works for Delaware,” Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort, Delaware Online, December 17, 2020.

Never mind I put the lie to the tax revenue claim a few paragraphs ago, but the duo are only following what was laid out a couple years earlier as goals for the TCI:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. This proposed program, when combined with existing programs and complementary policies, will be designed to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions and provide net economic and social benefits for participating states.

“Transportation and Climate Initiative Statement,” December 18, 2018.

Welcome to wealth transfer program part two, where rural folks and those who drive for business or pleasure will be transferring their wealth and freedom into more government largesse that will go to boondoggles they pick because the public won’t. In an Open Letter on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a number of groups advocating the rightsizing of government in these affected states and beyond called TCI “the wrong idea at the wrong time.” And in case you haven’t noticed, gas that was around $2.19 a gallon back in November has gone up 50 cents a gallon since – granted, some of that is normal (it seems like gas prices annually peak in the late spring) but the recent 20 cent surge blamed on Texas refineries being kicked offline thanks to the massive snowstorm there will take its sweet time to work itself out. Yet to someone who drives a 20 MPG truck 20,000 miles a year such as a rural worker, that per-gallon increase works out to $500 a year they can’t spend on food, clothing, or other necessities. A 27-cent gas tax increase such as the one the Caesar Rodney Institute has worried could be proposed for Delaware would cost that Sussex County worker $270 a year on top of the 50-cent increase.

Something on a favored flag

I suppose that since I wrote a book with it on the cover, one would consider my flag of choice the Gadsden flag. That yellow-and-black symbol of our colonial days became the icon of the TEA Party, and it got a little bit of its due recently thanks to my Ammo.com friend Sam Jacobs pushing an article on it.

Every so often I see a Gadsden flag adorning a pole under an American flag or see a Virginia Gadsden license plate – surprised those haven’t been banned from the state yet. (I just checked and they are still available, shockingly enough. But I doubt there’s any in the D.C. suburbs.) It’s comforting to know there are still people like me out there.

And since I now have an open space on the front of my car because Delaware only requires one license plate, maybe I can find a Gadsden plate to increase my old car’s value. (15 years old, almost 200,000 miles that would have been a lot of gas tax for greedy governments around the nation.)

Programming note

I have one more item in my e-mail box that will graduate to a full-length article, I believe. Be advised, though: writing may be a little sparse for a bit as I seem to be the snake that swallowed the goat and that big lump of various side hustles is making its way through my workload these days.

And speaking of the TEA Party, I believe I noted that I deactivated my old Rise and Fall website a couple months back. I think the Facebook page for it will be next to go. Last year I abandoned a book project that became a series of posts here on the Indivisible movement, and I started on another idea I had for an e-book before pulling the plug because I didn’t like how I thought I had to frame it – too unworkable. To be honest, right now is not the time in my life for a book.

So I guess I will stay in this little forum for now.

A waste of energy (and money)

I’ve been mulling this post over long enough to have it almost lose relevance because the initial subject matter became law a week or so ago. (Then it got pushed back once again with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.) Originally I was going to post about Delaware’s Senate Bill 33, an ill-considered measure that both extends and expands the renewable energy portfolio that Delaware (among many other non-thinking states) is saddled with. Now we are supposed to have 40% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

How it really works, however, is that the state’s utilities fork over money to the state (via a market-style entity) in lieu of attaining the percentage required. For example, I’m a customer of the Delaware Electric Co-op, which has a shade over 100,000 customers in the state. In recent years they have created a solar farm that now services up to 1,000 homes – but that’s still way short of the required 2.25% amount for the current regulations, let alone the future. I had the good news of a proposed 3% rate cut come with my bill last month, but I can see the state taking that away thanks to their waste of a bill.

(When you talk to an environmentalist wacko, remember these pertinent questions: what exactly is the optimum, average climate? And who’s to say we’re not on a trend toward it regardless of the folly of believing mankind can do a thing about changing that direction?)

What put this back first and foremost on my mind, though, was the situation in Texas. The Lone Star State has been walloped by a “once-in-a-century” winter storm this past weekend, leaving piles of snow and temperatures well below freezing all the way to the Mexican border. Their problem in this case is that the Texas electrical grid (which is pretty much self-contained) depends heavily on wind, solar, and natural gas for its power. Unfortunately, the wind turbines are frozen in place, the solar panels are under a foot of snow, and the natural gas isn’t moving through the pipeline system at the necessary quantity to make up the shortfall from the lack of wind power in particular. You could say it was the perfect storm.

(It’s interesting how the proponents of wind power try to shift the blame. Not to say it’s all wind’s fault, but they will probably be the last to recover.)

Of course, here in Delaware we are more accustomed to stormy weather in all seasons thanks to occasional snow storms, nor’easters, and tropical storms that come throughout the year. So unlike Texas, which bakes during their hot, steamy summers (great for solar, so-so for wind) and normally has temperate winters where wind energy can make a small dent, Delaware isn’t perfectly suited for either type of renewable. Yet the powers that be seem to be determined to waste acres of valuable farmland to create solar fields and wish to pollute the viewshed off our beaches with wind turbines that will need to be replaced in just a few decades. Again I note that once upon a time, windmills were what the farmers depended on – only to drop them like a bad habit once rural electrification became available. It was cost-effective and (most of all) more reliable.

We seem to have a backwards state here. Things which can be dependable sources of energy, such as natural gas or oil which may be available in commercially viable amounts offshore – well, we can’t even do the seismic testing to find out if there’s any there. But to site wind turbines – yeah, go right ahead even though it may be millions of dollars spent to power a few thousand homes.

Let’s face facts: if it weren’t for ill-advised carveouts like a “renewable energy portfolio” we wouldn’t be wasting our time dealing with solar or wind power. We could be conducting research into nuclear power and methods to make it more accessible, or exploring for new natural gas deposits. After all, we have to use those to back up the unreliable renewables that make running an electrical grid more unpredictable than it needs to be.

Instead of a Senate Bill 33, the smart play for Delaware would be to scrap those mandates entirely. But the Left can’t stand losing that sort of money or power, regardless of how much of a setback these restrictions provide to hard-working families trying to improve their lot.

A new local grift?

Among the many reasons I have never run for higher office is that I don’t much like begging for money. (Says the guy who has a “Donate” button on his website – but notice it’s not near the top.)

But one thing I have found in common about a number of failed politicians is their propensity to try and keep their name in the limelight by creating their own political action committee, often with a name which defines its purpose. Such is the case with the perpetual campaign of 2020 U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware Lauren Witzke, who has recently announced the formation of the Hold The Line PAC.

Shouting in ALL CAPS, “Join us as we hold the line to help elect conservatives and defeat the establishment! No compromise!” Lauren’s site currently has a few rotating news stories but its primary page asks for donations, stating:

Hold the Line PAC exists to stop Democrats from making advances in Red states and imposing their radical agenda on conservative Americans.

Focusing on key issues like immigration, the Second Amendment, abortion, and religious liberty, Hold the Line PAC is the voice for Americans who want to keep their traditional values, and not be crushed under the tyrannical boot of “progressivism.”

As the left becomes more radical in its pursuit to bring communism to America, Hold the Line PAC is here to ensure that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution remains the law of the land.

We will NOT sit idly by and let the radical communist Democrats abolish the electoral college, the Second Amendment, and cancel half of the country. Instead, we will fight to preserve the America that we know and love for future generations.

Donate page, Hold the Line PAC

This all sounds really good, but the reality of PACs tends to be far different: most of the revenue accrues to the pockets of various consultants and vendors connected to the PAC, with only a small portion going to assist candidates. We saw this for several years with the TEA Party, as “scam PACs” parted gullible people with their money – funding that, if donated directly to candidates, could have made the difference between victory and defeat. (Note: writing a book on the subject really helps with finding links for later use, and self-promotion never hurt anyone.)

In Lauren’s case, though, having a PAC tied to her is a direct and logical extension of something I was pleased that she did as an underdog candidate: nationalize her race. In fact, out of the 600-plus individual contributions to her campaign itemized in her FEC report, only about 30 percent came from Delaware. And that number was somewhat consistent as the campaign wore on; however, out of the last 100 contributions I counted only 21 coming from people listed as being from the First State. While she came nowhere near the war chest amassed by incumbent Chris Coons and all his PAC money, she still raised nearly a half-million dollars through (mostly) individual donations. Of course, a good deal of it went to various political vendors and consultants.

And that’s the weakness of the PAC approach, because they will also have their vendors and consultants that get their cut before the candidates ever do. Much like Lauren’s political philosophy – which didn’t seem to mind big government as long as the money was spent in the proper fashion – a PAC just adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to what should be a simple transaction. I didn’t need a PAC to make the two donations I made during the last cycle; I did one through the candidate’s website and the other via a check to the candidate. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve even donated to a PAC, although someone who wanted to find little ole me on the various state and federal campaign finance websites may find the truth is that I did – heck, I don’t know with all the (small-dollar) contributions I’ve made over the years.

I suspect that when we look back at this in 2023, we will find that Hold The Line PAC raised a few thousand dollars and spent most of it chasing money via the website and consultant fees. What little they give to candidates will be a drop in the bucket.

I think there are times and races where a PAC would be super useful, but it’s up to Lauren to prove my instincts wrong on this one.

*Postscript: It should be noted that only about half of Lauren’s intake was reported, which means the other half was likely smaller donations that fell under the reporting threshold and I believe those were more likely to have come from Delaware. I don’t want people to get the idea she had no financial support in this state.

Pumping for dumping

To be clear up front: I’m no expert on the stock market. Once upon a time I used to buy stock shares (directly where possible) with the investment strategy of buying shares of companies with low P/E ratios that sold high-dividend stocks. So I owned quite a few different utility stocks, since they often fit that description, and would take the dividends as additional shares. I still own a very modest portfolio in the successor company to that which I used to accomplish these trades, although it’s locked away in a money market fund that I haven’t touched in probably a decade. While I doubt I could buy dinner for my wife and I with the total, I keep the accounts grandfathered there in the hope that someday I may invest in these again.

But the whole Gamestop debacle got me to thinking about a long-ago series of posts (this being the first) that I did when capitalism fascinated me enough to do the series of posts.

In brief, the backstory behind the occasional “pumpin and dumpin” series was the junk faxes my onetime and present employer would get – somehow we got onto a list where, a few times a week, we would be regaled by news of the next big stock they claimed was about to break. So I got curious and collected a sampling just to see how they really did and, in most of the cases, the only break they made was downward. (It really got bad four years later when I last revisited the subject.) I got a lot of great comments out of the series, which occurred back about this time the website was at its peak readership as a non-lucrative side hustle of mine.

Since then, however, the office fax machine has been retired and I really don’t get that sort of e-mail anymore. People have moved on to another grift, I suppose, and in the case of Gamestop it was interesting because the tables were turned on the relatives of these companies that used to make their money speculating on those folks P.T. Barnum claimed were born every minute.

Some hedge fund (or group of hedge funds) is apparently out billions of dollars, or will be as long as they can’t stave off their margin call. Betting that Gamestop stock may further plummet to a buck or two a share, they are now desperately hurting because a group of allied renegade traders have instead pumped that baby up to $300 or more a share. That may be an awesome windfall for the investor who got it for 11 bucks a share two years ago (and watched it eventually slide to under $3) but it’s now becoming a parlor game that has nothing to do with the long-term prospects of the company, which (as the name suggests) makes its money by selling video games and consoles, mostly in brick-and-mortar locations. (In a previous life I serviced several of their stores on a regular basis, so I have something of a familiarity with their business.) I couldn’t even fathom what the P/E ratio is for them right now, but if I were a Gamestop employee I would be frightened out of my wits because they are playing with my livelihood.

Certainly the company has a tremendous market capitalization at the moment, but it’s a mirage that they will have to deal with long-term. It’s also concerning when you consider that these hedge funds were essentially betting on the company drifting into insolvency – in case you haven’t heard, the retail sector isn’t doing so hot right now.

I suppose what bothers me most about this whole situation is the rooting for failure aspect – moreso for the hedge funds that were betting on Gamestop’s demise. (After all, isn’t this shorting approach similar to how George Soros became a billionaire?) And while the Reddit group orchestrating the surge in Gamestop stock has the noble idea of punishing the hedge fund, they’re not going to stop the game from going on – in fact, they may eventually find they’ve infringed more on the free market thanks to Uncle Sam covering the big boys’ bets by being restrictive on the ability of like-minded groups to manipulate share prices. (It’s okay when their chosen ones do it, though. For them, the stock market is an investment where they will capitalize on their profits and socialize their losses, while for the rest of us it’s more of a gamble like buying a Mega Millions ticket.)

Finally, it brings me to troubling questions: is the Dow really worth 30,000? How much of that is real value and how much is rampant speculation?

I recall back a half-dozen years ago, when I was barely getting back on my feet after a long interregnum of non-career jobs, that the relative success of the stock market was hailed as the sign the overall economy was strong. (Never mind millions of people were still out of work and had given up looking.) The ones who were prospering, though, were the shysters who arranged for some people to get “disability” because they couldn’t find a job at their advanced age. In other words, the perceived value of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ was a mirage that was covered by increasing debt and someone was going to be left holding the bag.

In that respect, I can see the point of view of the hedge funds because they also see the same thing I do. But I hate rooting against the success of businesses built upon the sweat and toil of someone who worked long hours to make their dream a reality. It was their quest to succeed and draw investors which led them to sell shares in their companies. Granted, for every Tesla or Apple there are thousands of companies who were the (witting or unwitting) subjects of being pumped and dumped like the beneficiaries of those long-ago junk faxes. Alas, dreams, sweat, and toil don’t always lead to success if the product doesn’t sell. (As an author, I know how that goes all too well.)

It’s highly likely for the best that I never became a day trader like a former co-worker of mine was. (I suspect that’s why he was a relatively brief co-worker, since the firm wasn’t paying him to watch a stock ticker.) The whole Gamestop affair has convinced me even more that the system has become perverted and rigged in favor of those who have friends in the right places. Yet, without a good alternative method of saving for retirement besides the old 401.k (since few have pensions anymore and we all know Social Security is a Ponzi scheme) I guess we are forced to grin and bear it.

I’m so ready for real financial reform, but I suppose that has to get in line behind rightsizing government and we all know where that lies on the list of priorities. Maybe these Gamestop traders can work on that next?

Update: Thomas Gallatin, my cohort at The Patriot Post, weighs in with a similar take to mine. Great minds?

The folly of pursuing ‘equity’

This is another of those posts that began as an odd or end, but thanks to subsequent events was promoted to become a full post.

A few weeks back I received my annual pitch from the American Institute of Architects to rejoin their august body. Bear in mind I was an AIA member for about a decade beginning when I received my architecture license in the mid-1990s until about a year or so after I moved down here. Unfortunately, the usefulness of the AIA Chesapeake Bay chapter was much less than that of AIA Toledo, so I allowed my membership to lapse.

Moreover, as the needs of the architecture business have remained relatively steady over the 35 years (!) since I embarked on my life’s journey in the profession, the AIA has departed significantly from those needs into the weeds of political correctness. One line in their pitch multifold postcard, under the heading of “Champion architects & the profession” summed this up well:

Government advocacy, a campaign to fight climate change and inequities in the built environment, and public awareness efforts influence meaningful change and create a better business landscape for architects.

AIA mailing.

The only government advocacy we need is to give us a decent statute of repose. (Delaware has one of the better ones at 6 years, while Maryland lags behind with 10.) I’d also be happy if they eliminated the unnecessary demands for continuing education, which was something the AIA advocated for when I was active in the group. Brick, stone, steel, and wood don’t change much, and any architect worth his salt should know the building codes pretty well despite the fact they update every three years. (I see CE as a money-making racket, just like the intern development program that’s now in place. That was the reason I took my exam when I did.)

So forget about climate change, since we can’t do a damn thing about it. What we can do is advocate for energy-efficient buildings but let’s allow the market to decide what is best. And my (admittedly limited) research into the term “inequities in the built environment” seems to indicate a preference for the concepts of so-called “smart growth” where everyone is to be packed like sardines into the urban core. Maybe some of us prefer and enjoy living in rural areas.

Finally, if you want to make things easier and more profitable for the architectural profession, can you advocate for fewer regulations and hoops to jump through? There are certain jurisdictions we deal with that seem to have cornered the market on red tape for picayune reasons. It’s almost like they demand their tribute before you get their seal of approval, and clients aren’t always willing to pay for our time and trouble.

Speaking of so-called climate change and hoops to jump through, I would love to have someone explain to me why Delaware is trying to extend these stupid wealth transfers from utilities to state coffers better known as renewable energy portfolio standards? In this session SB33 is already through the Senate, where it passed on a 13-8 vote that was almost partisan in nature (Senator Ennis crossed over to vote with the GOP, giving him an early lead on the Top Blue Dog Award next year when I do the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware.)

If natural gas is cutting our emissions in such a way that we are exceeding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – even though we were properly out of it for a brief period until that fool Joe Biden painted “sucker” back on our collective forehead – then why are we even bothering with wind and solar power that is, on its face, unavailable at all hours of the day and times of the year? (For example, it’s a sunny day as I write this, but the sun angle isn’t optimal. And I haven’t even discussed the environmental issues when these components reach the end of their lifespan.) If anything, it may be a good time to do a little bit of exploration in Delaware to see if we have gas or oil deposits under our sandbar. It’s not likely the Marcellus Shale comes this far east, but somewhere along the line I thought I saw there was a minor shale field under the Eastern Shore and southern Delaware.

I like to live in a rural area and I like my electricity to be relatively inexpensive. So we really don’t need to have these so-called improvements that basically accrue to the state’s coffers and not ours come into our collective lives.

And now that I’ve done this post I can place my AIA solicitation where it properly belongs – in the circular file.

Becoming the loyal opposition

As the days of the Trump administration dwindle down to a precious few and the world is attempting to hoist him up on the petard of (so-called) insurrection, it’s clear that there are over 70 million Americans who are angry with the situation.

But let’s dispense with a few things first: the claims that Trump will return for another term after he declares martial law then drains the Swamp with thousands of arrests – ain’t gonna happen. Even if he uses the military, the size and scope of the necessary operation is such that SOMEONE would have leaked it out by now.

And it’s not just that: Trump doesn’t figure in the line of succession, even if you arrested Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi. It’s the same logic that said Hillary would be president if Trump was impeached and convicted. There’s just no Constitutional precedent for this – even in the midst of a civil war we held a Presidential election in 1864. We’ll never know, but would Abraham Lincoln have ceded power in March of 1865 had he lost?

There were originally going to be three main points to this post, but two of them have been taken care of in a different fashion. I liked Erick Erickson’s take on all the fake news that I alluded to above, so I encourage you to read it via The Patriot Post. My other writing home is also where the second part of this discourse ended up, regarding the fate of the Republican Party going forward. One key point:

Donald Trump was the candidate whose boldness on hot-button issues such as immigration and tax reform brought back those who became disillusioned when the Tea Party devolved to just another group of inside-the-Beltway grifters, and the Republican establishment cooled the fiery spirits of those the Tea Party helped to place in Congress.

“The Road Ahead for the GOP,” The Patriot Post, January 15, 2021

This was one of the longest pieces I’ve ever written for them because it’s a subject I am passionate about.

But in the wake of the purloined Presidential election and the catastrophe at the Capitol, people are probably shrugging their shoulders and resigning themselves to the end of our Republic, keeping their anger and passion inside to eat at them. Now I don’t have the overall surefire way to make you feel better, but perhaps it’s time to revisit what happened the last time we were in this situation.

Granted, the political landscape in 2021 is not really the same chessboard we were looking at in the dark winter of 2009. Back then we didn’t have the pervasiveness of social media to squelch the voices of conservatives nor did we have the upstream economic swimming made necessary by the ongoing CCP virus. (Of course, that will improve soon as Democrat governors finally decide that maybe, just maybe, they need to open up their state economies.) And that’s okay because perhaps this time we need to shift the focus to a smaller stage rather than try and play in a arena we’re not as familiar with. Complaining about federal spending and what would become Obamacare only delayed the inevitable twelve years ago because Tip O’Neill was right: all politics is local.

To that end, there is a trinity of issues which can be positively influenced at the local level in the near term, and in my opinion these are places the passion for Donald Trump can be well applied (or at least I think he would approve.) In at least one respect – the one I’m going to begin with – it’s not even necessarily political.

Support local small businesses.

This can be a lot easier said than done, particularly if you live in a rural area like I do. I have to admit we get a LOT of Amazon and Walmart boxes delivered to us, and the UPS truck is a regular sight around this area. On the flip side, though, we have a lot of small businesses that we can support in our town, particularly the restaurants. (I have my local favorite, and you should too. Patronize them often and leave good tips.)

The thing that is holding back businesses the most are the pandemic-inspired restrictions. I’m sure my local pizzeria would love to be able to open up all their seating despite their solid carry-out business. Initial mandates that favored big-box retailers as “essential” when their smaller counterparts – which often sold the same merchandise – were shut down led to the loss of millions of jobs and the perceived need to send out stimulus checks that are simply the gateway drug to the cherished regressive dream of a universal basic income. (Or, as Dire Straits once sang, Money for Nothing. I suppose it’s good the government hasn’t tried the chicks for free yet, because I could only imagine that disaster.)

I think if you asked the business owner who had to shut down whether they’d prefer the check or the business, 99% would be back in business. Seeing that the ice is beginning to break with some of these Democrats, perhaps it’s time to apply more pressure to Governor Carnage to end this so-called emergency and let businesses try to pick up the pieces.

Action items:

  • Patronize local, small businesses wherever possible.
  • Pressure local legislators and officials to advocate for the opening up of your state’s businesses as applicable. (Obviously people reading this from certain states can skip this part.)
  • If a business decides to go against a state’s forced closing mandate – don’t be a Karen, be a customer.
  • And it’s not just businesses: having open schools and resuming their activities would be a great help to employment as well. It brings me to my next part.

Reforming our schools.

One thing I loved about the Trump administration was the fresh perspective he brought to the Department of Education with Betsy DeVos. Unfortunately, her tenure was cut a bit short because she bought the media narrative about the January 6 protest, but her time at the DoE was the next best thing to it not being there.

Sadly, under Harris/Biden there will likely be some other NEA-approved hack running that show and undoing all the good DeVos did, so we need to do what we can to re-establish local control of our public schools as much as possible and push the envelope where required. If that can’t be done, then it’s time to support the alternatives such as homeschooling or non-public schools.

Of course, the best way to guide public schools is to become a member of their school board, but not everyone has that sort of time commitment nor do they want to go through the anal exam known as an election. (Furthermore, in the case of my local school district, reform would be slow: they elect one member of the five-member body every year, meaning it would take at least three years to install a like-thinking majority.) But it is a good idea to know about your local school board and see who the friendlies to the cause are. (If they have a BLM banner, it’s not too likely they’re conservative.) The ideal here is to revamp curriculum to bring it back to classical education as opposed to indoctrination, encouraging a variety of viewpoints and critical thinking. Public school students don’t have to be mindless robots; after all, I’m a case in point since I went to public school and a public university. I think I turned out okay.

On a state level, there are two priorities and this means you have to make some enemies in the teachers’ union: school choice and (corollary to that) money following the child. It’s your child and the state should be doing its level best to assist you in training up the child in the way he should go.

Action items:

  • Demand schools open up fully. The lack of in-person learning and activities has cost students a year of development.
  • Research your local school board and its candidates, even if you don’t have kids there. They are taking a lot of your tax money so you should be aware how it’s spent.
  • Advocate with your state legislators for school choice and money following the child.

And now for the biggie, the one which should be job one among all right-thinking Americans:

Restoring free and fair elections.

I’m going to begin with a quote. You may be surprised at the source.

Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. The list includes the 2000 presidential election, in which problems with absentee ballots in Florida were a little-noticed footnote to other issues.

In the last presidential election, 35.5 million voters requested absentee ballots, but only 27.9 million absentee votes were counted, according to a study by Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He calculated that 3.9 million ballots requested by voters never reached them; that another 2.9 million ballots received by voters did not make it back to election officials; and that election officials rejected 800,000 ballots. That suggests an overall failure rate of as much as 21 percent.

“Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Balloting Rises,” Adam Liptak, New York Times, October 6, 2012.

It’s funny because that story concludes, “You could steal some absentee ballots or stuff a ballot box or bribe an election administrator or fiddle with an electronic voting machine,” (Yale law professor Heather Gerken) said. That explains, she said, “why all the evidence of stolen elections involves absentee ballots and the like.”

It didn’t get any better in 2020, as hastily-passed (or decreed) election law led to the chaotic scenes we saw played out in several big-city vote counting venues. Combine that with the molasses-like pace of mail sent through the USPS – I received a Christmas card sent by a friend in Kansas December 18 on January 4 – and we got an election result that millions are skeptical about.

I know there are some who swear these practices are on the up and up, but this is the question we should be asking these officials: If you support election practices we can’t trust, how can you be a public servant we can trust?

At a minimum, we should be demanding that changes made for the 2020 election should be scrapped entirely. This was no way to run an election, and it will always be fishy how Donald Trump (and a host of other Republicans) led in their election in certain states until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before suddenly being overtaken in a barrage of votes for Democrats. I will give kudos to the election officials here in Delaware who demanded all mail-in ballots be delivered by 8 p.m. on election night because the counting was pretty much done by the late local news.

I don’t care if you call it the TEA Party again – with the acronym now standing for Trump’s Election Avengers – but here are the action items, as the beginning of a list of demands for real election reform:

  1. The voter rolls should be purged of inactive voters (no voting in the last four years) and those who use fake addresses such as P.O. boxes. Big-city election boards should be made to use some of their ill-gotten largess to investigate these places.
  2. Absentee balloting should no longer be shall-issue. There has to be a legitimate excuse, although advanced age should remain a legitimate excuse. Deadline for absentee ballot return is Election Day, no postmark exceptions.
  3. Ballot-harvesting should be outlawed or curtailed to leave only family members allowed to return a limited number of ballots.
  4. Early voting should be eliminated, or at the very least cut back to the weekend just prior to the election.
  5. There should be more election observers, and not just Democrat and Republican. We should add two independent or minor party voters who are also allowed to observe and object.

This isn’t to say that we should ignore the excesses of the Harris/Biden administration and speak out when necessary. But in making these more easily attainable changes at the local level, we make it more difficult to enact change on a national scale.

If we want to make the necessary changes, we have to borrow the “think globally, act locally” mantra from the environmentalist wackos for a bit and ride out the next four years as the real shadow government. It’s only through us that a government for and by the people not perish from the earth.

Odds and ends number 101

And the next hundred begins…

As always, it’s a compilation of items requiring somewhere between a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. Think of it as bite-sized dollops of blogging goodness that serve to clean out my e-mail box.

On evidence and faith

While he can be maddening politically, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s treatises on religion. He made a brilliant argument regarding evidence and faith that I wanted to share.

It also bolsters a point about the origins of our nation, and the philosophy of those who founded it. We are several generations removed from the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, et. al. but we have enough empirical evidence and writings of theirs to believe that a) they existed, and b) they had a particular political philosophy in mind when they created our nation. It’s something that should be easy to interpret by any jurist willing to read and understand their words, as opposed to making things up as they go along.

Yet, as Erick points out in a subsequent post, it’s worth remembering that God’s got this.

The success of China

It’s not often that I discuss year-old information in a new light, but here’s a case where new info has made the story evergreen thanks to the discovery of a relationship between Rep. Eric Swalwell and a Chinese national, Fang “Christine” Fang. I certainly can’t argue with the premise of the author.

A recurring minor theme within this enterprise is the desire to bring more manufacturing and production back to America because, simply put, we couldn’t trust a nation-state which points missiles at us. Unfortunately, big business and big media love the potential of 1.4 billion up-and-coming customers more than the markets that made them successful. Now we may be saddled with a president who is essentially in Beijing’s pocket, which may be the death knell for American world dominance – and when it’s us against the world, we can only put up a fight for so long before we are worn down, sort of like the Axis powers in World War II or the Confederates against the Union in our War Between the States. Whether Donald Trump was the summer of 1942 for the former or the march to Gettysburg for the latter remains to be seen.

What I can tell you is that it seems China is indeed getting their money’s worth from our elites.

Thoughts on redistricting, and so forth

One rear-guard action available to Republicans at the state level is redistricting. While I personally want districts that are compact and contiguous, this can be achieved while reducing the Democrats’ oversized influence in certain states and regions. In 2020, the GOP gained control of a plurality when it came to drawing House districts.

On a corollary subject, J. Christian Adams makes a case that the election fraud wasn’t in the counting but the fists on the scale produced by scads of dark money “assisting” certain big-city boards of election in encouraging the vote to get out. His theory also “explains how the GOP was so successful everywhere… except at the top of the ticket.  A flood of blue votes gushing out of deep blue urban areas has a statewide effect only for statewide candidates. It doesn’t affect legislative races outside of the cities.”

He also opines, “In case you still don’t follow: Hundreds of millions of private charitable dollars flowed into key urban county election offices in battleground states. The same private philanthropic largess did not reach red counties. Urban counties were able to revolutionize government election offices into Joe Biden turnout machines.” Even if Trump received 20 percent of the black vote instead of 10 percent, the fact that 100,000 more blacks voted may have made him a loser. (Emphasis mine.)

But by not backing Trump, Sam Faddis believes the Republicans are heading the way of the Whigs. To the extent that Trump’s base represents a mixture of the TEA Party and populist elements in the country, this is true. But having to lean on Trumpism to achieve the conservative goal of limiting government is a precarious perch indeed.

A lack of juice

It’s a little bit maddening, this headlong rush by car makers to embrace electric car technology when the infrastructure to support it is slow in coming: unless you want to invest in a personal charging station, how useful is an electric car for a cross-country jaunt?

So I thought it was a bit funny when Elon Musk (you know, the guy who owns Tesla) said there wasn’t enough electrical capacity right now for a world full of electric cars. But when Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda chimed in, that caught people’s attention.

As I have said for many moons, there are two problems with the bulk of our “renewable” energy: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. And guess what they have to use for backup plants? Yep, natural gas, often extracted by that eeeeeeeevil practice of fracking. (Well, except in Maryland and other states stupid enough to throw away economic potential.)

We have plenty of oil and a robust infrastructure to get it where it needs to go – in my case it’s usually the RoFo I pass on the way to/from work, but in a pinch there’s another station a couple miles away in Sharptown. A few minutes to fill up and I’m good to go for another 300 miles or more.

On the other hand, I have to charge my cell phone a few hours overnight to keep it viable for the next day, day after day. And I want a car like that? No thanks.

A unique New Year’s resolution

Self-serving as it may be, my friends at Ammo.com had a good idea for a New Year’s resolution: start a gun club. As they say:

There’s never a bad time to start a gun club, but there are maybe better times than others. With an emerging global medical police state, the spectre of the most anti-Second Amendment administration in history hanging over the United States, and recurring left-wing riots, now is perhaps the ideal time to start thinking less in terms of gun rights exercised individually and more in terms of collective preparation.

“How to Build a Gun Club: A Guide to Organizing and Starting Your Own Local Gun Club”, Sam Jacobs, Ammo.com.

I will say, though: around here I think they make you jump through a lot of hoops. I recently worked on drawings for a gun club as part of my “real” job and it seemed like there were a lot of unnecessary roadblocks put in place for a building that was existing in a rural, out-of-the-way location. My thinking was that was simply because it was a gun club.

If you can’t build one, though, you can still join one. I had some fun the last time I stopped by a local gun range back in August, and it wasn’t just the hot and cold running politicians during Delaware’s primary season.

Maybe my resolution should be to better work on my Second Amendment rights.

The other resolution will be to keep collecting stuff for the 102nd rendition of odds and ends, coming sometime in the future if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

The “odds and ends” concept is almost as old as monoblogue itself – my first one, actually called “Odds and year ends,” came back on December 26, 2005. monoblogue was all of 25 days old then, a babe in the woods of the World Wide Web. (It was post #20 on this website; this one will be #5,137.) In re-reading that one after all these years, I found it was a very Maryland-centric post. And what makes it perfectly fitting is that my plan was to make this a Delaware-centric post since I had used most of my other stuff pre-election and held the items for the First State back.

So as has always been the rule, we have things I handle in a couple sentences to a few paragraphs – a series of mini-posts, if you will.

A taxpayer money waste

Did you know the state of Delaware is suing energy companies claiming “Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have
known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

(…)

“Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible.”

If you really want to bother reading all 218 pages of the lawsuit be my guest, but the upshot is best described by the Caesar Rodney Institute’s David T. Stevenson, who wrote, “The suit is likely to meet the same fate as a similar lawsuit in New York that simply wasted taxpayer money.” CRI’s Stevenson instead compares the supposed future effects of so-called manmade climate change to the tangible effects of fossil fuels on societal development.

It’s true Delaware is a low-lying state, but it’s also true that sea levels have been rising for several decades, long before the first SUV was sold or widget factory was built. But to demand both compensatory and punitive damages from a host of energy companies – which would cut into their R & D budget and increase consumer costs – is in and of itself a waste of valuable energy and time. If it ever comes to the jury trial they demand, I pray that we get 12 sober-minded people who laugh this suit right out of court.

Robbing the livelihood

It’s been a bone of contention for many: what was originally billed as a state of emergency to “flatten the curve” has now almost become a way of life as our ongoing state of emergency in Delaware was quietly extended yet again on the Friday before Halloween (and the election.)

I did a little bit of traveling around the bottom part of the state this weekend and noticed some of the missing businesses. After a summer tourist season ruined by our reaction to the CCP virus, it may indeed be the winter of our discontent and there’s no better place to spend it than Delaware, right Governor Carney?

Since the Delaware General Assembly will be returning with an even stronger Democrat majority in the Senate, it’s to be expected that employer mandates will be among the items discussed. But as A Better Delaware observes, that can be very counterproductive to businesses already struggling to survive:

The cost of the health care provided to the employee does not result in more productivity or value of that employee at their firm. By adding this cost, it is more likely that incomes will be lowered in order for the total value of the employee to remain the same, even with additional costly mandates. Sometimes, the cost of these mandates results in layoffs so that the company can afford to provide them to the remaining employees.

“Employer mandates: mandating job and income loss,” A Better Delaware, October 2, 2020.

Instead, what they suggest is a private-sector solution: “either establish insurance plans that would cover short-term disability or paid family leave plans or allowing lower-income hourly workers to choose if they would want to convert overtime pay to paid leave.” The flexibility allowed by this would be beneficial, particularly as some may wish to enhance their allotted vacation time in this manner. I made an agreement like that last year with my employer to trade overtime for vacation hours I used later on to extend my year-end holiday by a couple days.

Time for public input

As I noted above, the state’s state of emergency was extended yet again by Governor Carney. But the folks at CRI believe this shouldn’t just be his call.

Instead, they believe what’s necessary is a three-day emergency session of the General Assembly, focused on the following:

  • Debate and negotiate a time limit for Executive Emergency Power, such as two or three months after which Legislative approval is needed for any extension.
  • Debate and negotiate specific metrics for re-opening the economy and return to in-person school classes based upon hospitalizations, not cases.

A state of emergency is not meant to be a perpetual grant of power, although politicians of all stripes have been known to abuse the declaration for things that aren’t immediate impediments to public safety, such as the opioid crisis. It’s important, but not to the level of a state of emergency. We flattened the curve and have learned a lot about the CCP virus, and in a cynical way it did its job because otherwise Donald Trump cruises to re-election and China continues to have a worthy adversary instead of a pocketed leader.

(ahem) It’s time for economy to get back to work so we can deal with all the abuse it might be about to take from the incoming Harris/Biden regime.

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

This was another item considered by the CRI folks over the last few weeks, and their data bears out my armchair observations as someone who’s lived close by the border for 16 years. Since we don’t collect sales tax, strictly speaking this puts Delaware’s border-area retailers at an advantage. (Technically, residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, et. al. are supposed to remit the sales tax they would have paid in-state after buying in Delaware but I’ve yet to meet one who does.)

But if you assume that Delaware takes in $2.89 billion from the retail industry, a 3% sales tax would give the state $86.7 million. However, when you compare that to the possible retail jobs and revenue lost by eliminating the state’s “tax-free” status, the net would be much smaller and could become a negative – a negative that increases the closer the state comes to matching its neighbors’ sales tax rates, which range from 6% in Maryland to 6.6% in New Jersey. (By comparison, these rates are among the lowest in the nation, so perhaps Delaware is a tempering factor for those states, too.)

Retail is a tough enough business, though. Why make it harder for those in the First State?

And last…it’s that time of year

Every year it seems I have a post about items made in the USA. Our fine friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing continue to chug along with their list, and they’ve been looking for suggestions over the last month or so. The list usually comes out just in time for Black Friday, although this year may be different. (There’s still time to squeeze in a last-minute idea, I’ll bet.)

Admittedly, sometimes it’s a bit of a reach as last year‘s Delaware item was RAPA scrapple, but previous years they’ve featured Delaware self-employed crafters for baby-related items and unglazed clay bakeware, giving those small businesses a hand. I’d be very curious to see what they come up with this year.

And I’ll be very curious to see what I come up with for items for the next odds and ends, which begins the second hundred if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.