The state of the TEA Party: winter 2020

This update is going to be a little bit different than the first ones from last summer and fall. Most of the immediate loose ends left untied by the publication of my book have now been tied up so it’s time to shift focus.

I got to thinking the other day about where the TEA Party was during the 2012 Presidential campaign, which was the first one it faced as a political entity. At this point in the 2012 campaign the TEA Party – which, in real time, was just before Christmas of 2011 because the Iowa caucuses were held on January 3 of that year – was still weighing its choices between a slew of TEA Party-approved contenders like Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum or holding their nose to get behind the favored and more centrist and establishment Mitt Romney, who eventually won the GOP nomination – much to the chagrin of many TEA Party believers. (One of those who also flirted with the idea of running during the 2012 campaign before bowing out just weeks later: Donald Trump. It would be four years later that his campaign ignited a second firestorm among TEA Party adherents.)

Fast forward to 2020 and flip the coin over to the other side of the political spectrum and you see the dilemma of the far left Democrats: do they stick with the infighting between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, switch over to the unproven Pete Buttigieg, or hold their nose for the known commodity of Joe Biden as the best chance to defeat Donald Trump? In short, at what point do you abandon principle for practicality and work for an election in the hope that maybe you won’t lose any more political ground with a more moderate candidate? That seemed to be the fate of TEA Party people in 2012, and perhaps they learned pragmatism from their first two major elections: the Doug Hoffman New York Congressional race in 2009 and Scott Brown’s first Senate run in the winter of 2009-10.

I’m thinking that may be a question I will ask later this summer, but here’s the idea for this feature going forward.

If it’s not apparent to you after all these years of writing, the TEA Party as envisioned was a political movement right up my alley; hence, I’m pretty passionate about it. Why else would I spent over 2 1/2 years writing a book to help document its history and effects? (Hint: it ain’t the money.)

After a decade-plus of existence, we can now see what impact the TEA Party has had on the political scene, but there’s a portion of me that feels it needs continued study on how to maintain and increase its relevance and make it more effective in implementing its principles. The question arises, though: what are its principles, and how have they changed over time?

So, every three months, my hope is to distill what those who are most involved in the TEA Party as its Founding Fathers (and Mothers) and other longtime leaders have to say about the topics I’m introducing here – not just as a blog post but in more of a newsletter style. (My model in this is a familiar one to me: The Patriot Post, for whom I write weekly.) Not only would it promote academic-style study, but it would also be a legacy project for those involved – we have lost several of the early leaders already, and it’s a movement we need more than ever.

To that end I’ve already determined a number of topic questions that will carry us through the remainder of 2020.

April: The TEA Party got its start as a movement claiming we were “Taxed Enough Already.” We have found that the tax cuts we received from President Trump in 2017 have indeed bolstered the economy and put more money in our pockets, and that’s great – but we still run trillion-dollar deficits just as we did in the heart of the Great Recession. How can we sell a message of spending reduction to the masses like we pressed for tax cuts? And, corollary to that, how do we defend ourselves from the charge of hypocrisy given we got the tax cuts we wanted but still find ourselves deep in red ink?

July: As noted earlier, the primary elections don’t always give us the candidate we want. For many of us, Donald Trump was an example; however, the way he has governed has been a pleasant surprise. What are some of the “red line” issues that are non-negotiable to you, or, put another way, are there instances where you can’t abide by the rule made popular by Ronald Reagan, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.” Or is just moving the ball enough after primary voters have spoken?

October: For good or bad, Donald Trump has been our President for the last three=plus years. On the off chance that he is defeated in November, however, where does the TEA Party begin with its resistance to the far-left agenda sure to be enacted by the Democrats’ nominee? Or, if Trump wins – and doesn’t have to worry about re-election ever again – what issues do you want him to exhaust his political capital on in his second term?

I believe these are compelling questions worth asking, and hopefully I will have a plethora of answers from those most passionate about the TEA Party movement.

As far as a timeline, ideally April would be the last State of the TEA Party blog post exclusively at this venue. I would love to have a functional site for this proposed digest (as well as a nice little mailing list) by this summer, but that is going to depend on how much assistance I receive. At this point the help is more in the area of expertise than finance, since the goal is simply to promote this information in a venue that is inherently not looking to support or oppose particular candidates but to be a clearinghouse to discuss ideas and correctly write the TEA Party’s history and overarching goals.

By its very nature, 2020 should be a year of vision. Let’s bring the state of the TEA Party into a much clearer and more broadly understood focus.

The new direction

Back in the last decade (a few days ago) I alluded to the fact I would talk about a new direction for this site, which actually extends to other aspects of my writing career. So here goes.

Last summer I did my famous (or infamous, depending on perspective) reading of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party at Pemberton Coffeehouse. As the last part of that reading I read a tease from the next project I was working on, a book about the Indivisible movement. Its basic premise was to use the statement that it was using the rules of the road laid out by the TEA Party as their own. I figured that I was a pretty good expert on how the TEA Party operates so who better to write a book grading the upstarts on their efforts?

Unfortunately, this is where I ran into a problem. I really have no passion for Indivisible; in fact, I still get their stuff and read it, alternately wanting to laugh hysterically and shake my head in disbelief that supposedly intelligent people believe some of this crap. Their being stuck on “orange man bad” makes them rather dull to consider, and there’s nowhere near the tension and conflict when the media has its back – or, really, more or less ignores them by comparison to the TEA Party. In short, there just wasn’t the desire to write 200 pages on the subject.

And then we have the whole book marketing thing. To be honest, as I noted in my latest edition of radio days, I really need a long format radio gig to feel comfortable and those are hard to come across. And even with all that, the books haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves – not for a lack of trying. I did sixteen different radio shows but what I didn’t tell you is that I contacted somewhere close to 200 in order to make that happen. There were probably eight to ten more gigs which fell through for various reasons, and by this point the book is far enough in the rearview mirror that its relevance has diminished somewhat. (For example, it’s silent on the whole impeachment saga that’s consumed political news during the latter half of 2019.) There’s a point where you can’t market old news.

I love the act of writing, but I don’t get nearly as much thrill from the acts of selling even though that’s what creates the market for the writing. It seems to me that finding someone to market books properly yet affordably is almost as unlikely as finding the winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. I know I have people who believe in and enjoy my work, but I can’t make them give me reviews or market my book for me. I can say that I’ve written two books but I can’t say I was significantly better at marketing the second effort – which involved a lot more work than the first one – than I was with the first one seven years ago.

However, having said that, I think there is a market for my writing – it may be a small niche, but it exists nonetheless. Moreover, I’m very partial to short-form writing (such as blog posts, but also my contributions to The Patriot Post and before that PJ Media, Examiner.com, and my days as a struggling syndicated columnist) so why not bring those strengths into play? Plus I retain this venue as a good base of operations. (Eventually the Rise and Fall site will go away. I would like to have a writer site to market my writing, although there’s nothing which says I couldn’t just do it here. Something for me to think and pray about.)

Thus, I have a few writing goals in mind for this year. Some are relatively easy to achieve while others are more ambitious. There is also a longer-term political goal which will hopefully be kicked off by actions I take this year, but I won’t get into that just yet.

I begin with the fate of the Indivisible book. To date I have put about 4,000 words to paper, most of which went into the introduction while I also covered a little bit about the personalities and finance. Making this an 80,000 word book would definitely be a stretch, particularly since I had intended to complete it for this November – and, like I said, my heart wasn’t in it.

However, I also have a saying – don’t let good writing go to waste. I think what can be done with this beginning of a draft would be to serialize it into a four- or five-part series after I round it out a little bit, maybe adding a couple thousand words to make the points. It may be a good thing to start up around the time of Super Tuesday since Indivisible will be actively trying to manipulate the Democrats’ nomination process, similarly to how the TEA Party tried to influence the 2012 GOP nomination.

In the interim, I want to continue a series I’ve done on a quarterly basis since last summer: the State of the TEA Party. My next installment will come later this month, but by the summer I really want to take the concept in a new, exciting direction.

My vision for the State of the TEA Party is to eventually create a quarterly journal from it – whether print, online, or both – one which creates an academic-style look at the movement for a limited, Constitutional government that the TEA Party supposedly espoused at its creation. Obviously this entails more input from other people, and that’s where some of the contacts I had in the writing of Rise and Fall as well as the gravitas of writing a strongly-researched book could help bring that to a reality. I’d love to bring more perspective from those who directly assisted me with Rise and Fall as well as others in the TEA Party who have guided it over the last decade-plus. This could also help me with a non-writing goal I spoke about in the final chapter of Rise and Fall. (Go buy the book and you’ll see what I mean.)

Long story short: I may be done as a book author – although the Lord may have other plans, and some have suggested I write a book on the Shorebirds – but I’m a long way from throwing in the towel as a writer. It’s just that, given some of the various side hustles I have – not to mention my “real” full-time job – writing a little at a time and not trying to rush through a book I’m not passionate about is the move I think is best for me and my overarching agenda.

2019: a monoblogue year in review

2019 was an interesting year, to say the least.

It began with a pizza lunch that was better than the “day of action”, but I found more comfort in catching up with some of the best artists I had reviewed for monoblogue music – a feature that finally saw its first (and alas only) local record review and other quick hits. January continued with my amazement at how quickly our safe harbor from Presidential politics had receded, meaning it was time for a widget. It was also time for some odds and ends from the holiday season, too.

In this busy month, I revised and expanded remarks I had published in The Patriot Post about our coming Constitutional crisis and reminded folks once again it was School Choice Week. But the best time I had was cranking up a new hot stove via a three part series on my fantasy baseball team comprised of Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame members.

I began February by considering the abortion question, and after the frivolity of odds and ends and so-called expert advice on running a blog, I noted the first casualty of the 2020 Democrat presidential race. We also endured our latest state of emergency and I remembered the rant that sparked the TEA Party. (Something I’m rather fond of.)

In March I reached a long-cherished milestone, my 5,000th post. In the days before that, I illustrated why $15 an hour is the wrong fight and talked about the “Jeremiah 29” conservatives. I also detailed how I got to hang out with the real pros of my avocation and with my Congressman at a local town hall meeting. But I also had fun with my version of March Madness, and checked out the newest ballpark feature before speculating who we would watch from it. Early in April I checked how I did, but it was a slow month (aside from another dose of odds and ends) because I finally released The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and began its radio tour.

My March Madness featuring the Democrat candidates wasn’t enough, so I created a second, three part helping in May. I also detailed how one of those top seeds was losing the middle class and had his delusion of support.

Speaking of delusions, another was Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan considering a Presidential run against Donald Trump. He couldn’t pull the trigger on it, as we found out in June, but in the shadow of Memorial Day I took an opportunity to promote an event for those who may have pulled a trigger in defense of our nation.

Many months after the field came into being, I detailed the initial effort of the 25th player in the Democrats’ madness, although the DNC was now beginning to do its level best to cull it through debate qualifications. There were still more odds and ends, but I had more fun making the second stop on my radio tour and attending the Downtown Salisbury Festival – allowing me to renew a long-dormant series for the first and only time in 2019.

In July I began a new project in earnest – and had still more odds and ends to go through – but most of the month was spent discussing my book’s radio tour as I covered my experiences with TEN different stations. Combine all that with some upheaval going on in my world, and it’s no wonder I could only discuss who was in and out of the Democrats’ second debates. There were two more parts of the radio tour discussed in August, with the first instance becoming more of a philosophy discussion thanks to an old friend. Again, it was a slow month as President Trump got a new challenger and we once again dealt with a mass shooting tragedy.

A very slow September brought my annual 9/11 message, a new ranking of Democratic contenders, and a subtle but very important change to this website. My focus changed thanks to a move about seven miles to the north. I was starting over from my little corner, as I detailed in October, and one of my first moves in that direction was in the realm of accountability. So what was the first election I began to cover? Naturally it was Salisbury’s.

More on that in a moment, but the month finally brought my delayed announcement of the Shorebird of the Year and my picks and pans for Delmarva’s team – a team perhaps placed at risk by prospective changes to the minor league baseball system on a scale unseen in nearly 60 years.

During the month I also debuted a feature originally begun on my book site in July, a quarterly look at the state of the TEA Party. It had little impact on November‘s election in Salisbury, which (as I guessed) sadly featured blowouts in all its races and more or less kept a leftist status quo. But at least people showed up, unlike the election in nearby Delmar.

But the TEA Party could muster up its remaining forces and go to work sounding the alarm on a proposed regional gas tax scheme that reminds me a lot of the RGGI boondoggle. And while I did the usual Thanksgiving message, the month closed out with another reminder on how to buy American.

December opened as usual with two big guns: my anniversary commemoration and the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame induction for the three-player Class of 2019. But I also revealed that a lot of people keep telling me how to blog as well as the state of play for the Democrats at that moment. (How they connect: I don’t think either of those groups have a clue.)

While I wished readers a Merry Christmas, the final weeks brought a burst of activity: the swan song of monoblogue music with one last review and the last top 5 list and a wrapup of my 2019 Rise and Fall radio tour closed the books on 2019, and not a moment too soon.

I remarked a year ago on site readership and how it had declined over the last several years as I reverted to part-time blogger status. This year the numbers fell a little more, down to 6,268 visits with a couple days to go. (This compares to 10,435 last year.) But then again this wasn’t an election year and my readership indeed rebounds for those occasions, so I’m not too worried. It’s still better to properly inform 6,000 readers than put up crap for a few times that many.

So my vision for 2020 (see what I did there?) is, for one, to cover the Delaware elections as best I can. I don’t see this as a state in play for Trump – particularly if creepy Joe Biden is the nominee from the Democrats – but it could be interesting to see what happens downballot. The GOP’s biggest handicap, as I see it, isn’t Donald Trump but a state party that doesn’t seem to mind losing. The beatings seem to be continuing until morale improves.

The second part of this vision is too lengthy to explain here, as it’s a multi-pronged approach to advancing the ideals I espouse here on a somewhat regular basis. In the first few days of the new year I will explain further; suffice to say it’s something of a different direction for me but also one with some familiar elements to it.

That, my friends, is called a tease. But isn’t that unrealized potential of a new year lurking around the corner always like that?

Radio days volume 27

This turned out to be the conclusion of my Rise and Fall radio tour, with two stops in November. However, the less said about the first one, the better. I have to apologize to the fine folks of Burlington, Iowa and KCPS-AM 1150 because I was just not on my game for various reasons. Had I known the situation in advance I would have rescheduled. But what’s done is done, and life goes on. At least it was just a short segment.

Four weeks later, I had a whole hour thanks to my long-standing effort to get on a program called Southern Sense Radio. I first contacted host Annie Ubelis back in July, figuring I would probably not be on until after my August hiatus, and I was right. But that gave Annie time to read through the book and made it a much better conversation. I even had an interesting lead-in, she being President Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White.

So if you go to the 63-minute mark here, you’ll hear Annie and I have a wide-ranging discussion of where the TEA Party went. We really covered a lot of topics, but the bigger discussion wasn’t necessarily so much a blow-by-blow review of the book as it was a conference call about the differing philosophies required in using the TEA Party to create change in radically different states: it’s far easier in ruby-red South Carolina where she’s from than it is in our deep-blue bastions of Delaware and Maryland. Certainly the book gave me standing to discuss these issues, and she had a couple legitimate disagreements with me on various topics.

But as I listened to the replay in writing this, I noticed I really began getting cranked up about 10 minutes in. One thing I have to realize in doing radio is that it’s not quite like casual conversation – I’m very good at stepping on her lines because I start thinking I need to say something to her point. Maybe that makes for better radio, though. I have to admit, however, that even after doing all these stops on the phone I have a hard time getting to a comfort level with talking like this, regardless of host, so the longer segment I have, the better I seem to do. I would say my best three stops on this tour (in no particular order) were Annie’s, the hour I did for The Ross Report back in July, and the hour I spent doing Political Vibe later that month.

So I suppose this may be the last Radio Days episode I do for awhile, as I have stopped seeking new radio gigs to support my book. And as a bit of foreshadowing, after the new year dawns I’m going to share a little about the direction I’m thinking of taking in the realm of political writing. Stay tuned.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2019

On previous Christmas Eves I have quoted Scripture for this occasion, most recently Luke 2:8-20. But this year I think we need a thought at large.

I know there is a small fraction of my readership that recently celebrated Impeachmas, while most others rue the day our nation became so divided. As has often been the case, today (Christmas Eve) I did the shopping for my wife and Kassie, although this year was easy because they wanted a new smart TV. (Too bad most of what it shows is dumb, but that’s a subject for another post.)

But as I milled among the crowds at a local big-box electronic retailer I noticed most people were focused on the task at hand, which would be completing that shopping list. You may not know it if you were too glued to social media, but there are a world of people out there who interact with others, saying “Merry Christmas” and generally spreading holiday cheer.

Since evening has fallen as I write this message, many of you are in church for a Christmas Eve service. Others will see this once they arrive at their destination to spend the holiday with family, or maybe they are already there opening presents. (Once we got past the little kid and Santa stage, that was our family tradition. In our case this year, because Kim’s daughter works early Christmas morning we did our presents this afternoon.)

But I wonder how many hardy people are out re-enacting the true reason for the season, portraying the various Biblical characters in a live Nativity scene. Here in Delaware Nativity scenes have created a little bit of controversy from people who just don’t get it, and spurred the (I guess) equal but opposite reaction. But as divided as they were, everyone seems to have gotten along. Bad news for Satan, good on the rest of us.

So nearly two solid months of Christmas hype (maybe closer to four in the retail world, but two in Hallmark time) is finally coming to a climax tomorrow – unless you do the Orthodox Christmas which is twelve days. (In Michael time, Christmas starts about the time our church cantata ends a couple Sundays before Christmas.) In any case, come early January all the decorations get put away for another winter. Let’s just pray the good tidings and memories stick around well beyond then.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

Telling me what to do again

It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these posts, but at a relatively slow time for serious news it’s a good time to break stuff like this out. Somehow it seems appropriate for Friday the 13th.

In my e-mail box I keep a stack of messages from various entities which often write me with an assumed name and tell me how to run my website. One of my favorite pitches is the one which tells me how lacking my SEO is – I love the effort to sound hip with the jargon on this one:

Dear monoblogue,

My experts were analyzing your website and found that your website is not handling recent updates from search engines.

Also your traffic flow is poor from last couple of months due to some of the reasons. You might know about recent Google UPDATES like Phantom 3.0, Panda 4.2, and Penguin 4.0.

Google has completely dropped all authorship functionality from the search results and web master tools. So be careful on it and take the help of a SEO company to fix it.

Obnoxious e-mail from “Alex Morgan”, whose e-mail address had a completely different name

Or maybe I just need “immediate improvement.”

(And yes, this is verbatim too.)

Hi Monoblogue.Us,

I have a complete analysis report ready with me which shows your website needs immediate improvement. Your business need to have a concrete SEO strategy in place if you want to succeed in online marketing.

We can deliver you the exact solution you are looking for your website.

We will be targeting search engine and Social networks to get you maximum visibility. Our experts will maintain good impression through our online reputation management services. Also you will get Regular updates on website to make it look fresh and error free.

Give consent, my technical team will prepare a comprehensive call to action plan to reach your target audience.

We will be looking forward to your response.

One of my annoying e-mails, from “Steve Morgan”

Here’s my response: I really love ESL pitches. The only immediate improvement I need is to have a little more time for blogging, but aside from that I would stack my body of work up against anyone’s.

And since I don’t lose any sleep over what I write, I don’t see a need for “online reputation management.” So there you go.

Speaking of ESL, try this one:

Dear monoblogue Owner,

Hope you are doing well!

We came to know that you are concerned with bringing new customers from your target market and beat your competitors to boost your business. If you are interested, we can help you to identify the gray areas and best possible solutions.

I’m confident enough to get your website on #1 Page of Google with all round improvement in your brand value and sales.

Please revert back to know more about our services.

I look forward to hearing from you.

An e-mail from “David Wilson.” Yeah, right.

Perhaps it’s from a very British-influenced nation, but carrying on…

I also get a lot of people who are interested in advertising on my site, but not in the way I would prefer. It’s often a pitch of,”Can you please write to us if you can publish an article with a link to our website or any other form to link our website and how much it will cost.”

Or, if I was so inclined, I could have someone else write it. “One of our clients has shown interest in being featured on (your site) in a guest post. We have a great team of writers and we can provide the article, or if you prefer, you can also write it and feature our client.”

How about if I just write what I like instead of selling my blog’s soul? I’m sorry to disappoint the struggling writer in some craphole country who’s not getting the quarter for the thousand-word post which would otherwise be placed in this space, but this is my modest, humble little home and I like knowing I built it.

Finally, here’s the key question:

I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how long have you been blogging for?

Sophie Naylor, Team Leader and Biscuit Consumer, bloggersconnected.com

Yes, she asked. Does my site not say it’s been around since 2005? At least her site looks somewhat legit, although I’m not one who would like to be paid in euros.

Once upon a time I thought I could make a living at this, but I’ve found there are many more people who would like to relieve me of my meager subsistence through get-rich-quick schemes for the gullible than people who would legitimately enjoy what I write and rattle my tip jar. (It still happens once in a great while, though.) But there’s still hope writing may supplement my retirement, and it did occur to me the other day that the paying job I’ve held longest in my life is that of writing for The Patriot Post.

So I suppose I’m doing something right, despite the naysayers. At least their e-mails give me a smile and inspiration.

A stone of years: monoblogue turns 14

Izzy Stradlin of Guns n’ Roses once sang, “You don’t get back 14 years in just one day,” and that’s probably true for a blog post, too. (Good song on a pretty good record, “Use Your Illusion II” – although I liked Illusion I a little better. Can you believe that double album will be 30 years old in 2021?)

But as I contemplate what a long, strange trip it’s been, it’s also apparent that so much has changed: not just the presentation as arranged by the blog theme (which is still the Twenty Sixteen theme I adopted about a year ago) but what’s placed on the site. I just used to put up SO much political stuff like press releases and analysis of races, but now I do more lengthy and meaty diatribes about the world as it is and how it should be.

So I have come pretty much full circle: now monoblogue is actually more like how it was when I first started, before I got a little too proud and before I bought into the theory that the only way to build an audience was by posting ultra-frequently. I thought I could be somebody just based on building the popularity of this website, but that task was something I tried and failed to do since it was a singular effort put together by a guy who rarely had two nickels to rub together let alone a promotions budget. So my content creation had to suffer, and eventually I just got sick of curating that crap.

Unfortunately, as I sit here I still get the feeling that I placed myself into a couple too many boxes. However, I remain a believer in the philosophy that politics should be the part-time profession of caring Americans, so on this blog you’ll always find the political somewhere: 2019 wasn’t an election year except at a local level but it has featured the runup to the 2020 balloting. It’s something I’ve had my take on every so often as it develops.

I’ve also retained my passion about the Shorebirds, and one thing I really loved doing the research on was my fantasy baseball team. With 2020 coming up, I can have the fun of working on that with a few new players and a slimmed-down roster (you’ll see what I mean.) Come spring I may be forced to revamp a little bit about Shorebird of the Month because of the changes at Perdue Stadium making it tougher to get my photos, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

But this website will soon undergo one somewhat significant change. Just as writing something every day began to become a chore I almost dreaded doing, the same goes for monoblogue music. Since the end of September I’ve had one review in my queue to do but I just don’t feel like it. For awhile I was living with the excuse that I had bad internet service (moving out into the country comes with that disadvantage to be sure) but I’ve since rectified that and don’t have to live off my phone’s hotspot. Sometime in December I will finally put up that review – my first since July – and select one final top 5 before I put monoblogue music mostly to bed except maybe for some follow-up reviews on previous top 5 bands (and I make no promises on that.) The reviews had a pretty good five-plus year run but like a lot of series in the past I just got tired of the concept. (I’m not tired of Weekend of Local Rock, either, but then again I never put my photos from Casting Crowns up. I think six weeks is past its expiration date.)

To be perfectly honest, I’d also like to get rid of some of the previous notions about my website. One transition I’m planning to make in the coming weeks is changing my Rise and Fall site to an author-based site for promotion of all my works, past, present, and future. And since this website is one of those works, has spawned 5,000-plus posts, was the germ of inspiration for my first book (So We May Breathe Free, 2012), and led to several other of my writing jobs, it’s an important piece going forward that demands the best content. These music reviews weren’t making the cut.

And in order to put a better foot forward, I’m also working slowly on something I promised last year – it’s made a lot easier thanks to a trove of photo disks I found over the summer. I’ve done about ten posts so far and once I work on Shorebird of the Week posts (which generally only needed one photo) the backlog of about 200 posts where photos were lost will quickly begin to dwindle. That is a good thing and it’s brought back a lot of memories.

So I’m not getting back 14 years in just one day, but I don’t have to: the good memories are already right here. Now I’m ready to start year number 15.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

It’s that time of year again. Unlike most of the rest of the world these days, I keep the holidays in order and don’t think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. So today I’m going to count my blessings.

First and foremost is being married to my wife. Even though this didn’t happen until comparatively late in life, everything occurs in the Lord’s time. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to meet her when we were both far younger – perhaps it would have saved us both a lot of heartache. But then again we may not have been attracted to each other for whatever reason, so – as I said – things occur in the Lord’s time, not mine. And since it was a package deal I got to watch her daughter grow up and become a pretty good adult.

The second big blessing is a home of our own, one which placed us in the First State for the first time. It’s not brand new and it’s not fancy, but it’s the first time I’ve lived in a house that wasn’t standing when Jimmy Carter was president. (I suppose the apartment I lived in for two years wasn’t either, but that was an apartment.)

Another blessing that’s come over the last year or so is the extended family of our church small group. My family is spread out from Ohio to Missouri to Florida, so I don’t often see them. These folks are the surrogates who keep me grounded.

I have also had the blessing of finishing and marketing my book, The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. Now I’m not going to lie to you and claim it’s been a best seller (although there’s still time) but I have received the opportunity to speak to audiences in 13 different states, not counting podcasts and the like. Tomorrow I wrap up the radio tour with an internet radio show, which I suppose covers the other 37 states, right?

So when we gather around the table this evening (generally Kim’s family eats around supper time as opposed to my growing up with dinner during the Lions game) and say the blessing, I have a lot for which to be thankful. Hopefully you can say the same.

Oh, and one more thing to be thankful about: having those of you who still care enough to stop by my little corner of the internet. It’s not the largest number ever but each one is one more than I would have had without the website. On Sunday I’ll do that navel-gazing since it will be 14 years of monoblogue.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

No children left

While this may seem to be a dire title for a blog post, it comes with a simple explanation: since the age of legal adulthood in America is 18 and eighteen years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, there is no child alive who was around on that day. Henceforth, the only way a child will experience the event is through their parents or via history books.

This passage of time, however, is but a blip in the timeline of how long we have been at odds with radical Islam. (I hesitate to say “war” because this conflict has rarely played out in a military manner.) From the early 19th century battles with the Barbary states (then-kingdoms of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis – now the nation-states west of Egypt along the north African coast) we’ve often conflicted with Islamic states over the post-World War 2 period. (We even conflicted with them during the war, as several Islamic leaders backed the Axis powers.) Some examples:

  • our soft coup in Iran in 1953 – with Great Britain’s help we overthrew a prime minister who had nationalized the oil companies
  • our subsequent backing of the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi – an alliance which lasted until the cancer-ridden ruler was exiled in 1979 (he died a year later)
  • the taking of hostages at our embassy in Teheran, which lasted over a year until their release as Ronald Reagan took office
  • the suicide bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, where 241 Marines perished in October, 1983 – just six months after a similar attack at the American Embassy in Lebanon killed over sixty
  • Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-91, to rebuff Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait
  • and, finally, the various military operations since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, et. al. as part of the War on Terror

I’ve often referred to this battle as the Long War because it was expected to last for decades. Aside for the Iranian coup all of these events have occurred during my lifetime; however, with the exception of a few months in 1990-91 during the runup to Desert Storm (which, as a military operation, lasted just a few weeks – and only a few days as a ground war) we were never on a war footing until 9/11 occurred. Since then we’ve been on a perpetual state of war, as undeclared as it might be. 9/11 is the annual reminder that we have enemies in the world.

Yet we have reached the point now where an entire generation has come of age under that war footing, with no real resolution or end in sight. There are many who compellingly argue we should pull out of Afghanistan like we’ve withdrawn from Iraq and Syria; others plead their case for staying the course. That’s not as much of an issue for me as the loss of civil liberties we’ve endured over the last 18 years under the guise of fighting this war on terror.

I may be accused of having a 9/10 mentality, but perhaps the best way of dealing with radical Islam comes in a covert fashion rather than an overt fashion. Don’t make the rest of us suffer because at that point the terrorists win.

Finally, a programming note: Because of my impending move and despite our loss in the playoffs, I’m pushing back my August/September Shorebird of the Month to September 19. Shorebird of the Year will be September 26 and picks and pans comes October 3.

A subtle but important change

I don’t know how many of you have ever noticed my tagline that’s been up pretty much since this website came online back in 2005, but it’s the part that said some variant of “news and views from Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” Well, today’s post is one of the last from the Eastern Shore as my wife and I have finally bought a home in the First State. (So I’ve changed it.)

With the change comes a change in emphasis. I’ve always had kind of a state-based focus, but after a little bit of study and being in office it became apparent that the Eastern Shore is indeed the shithouse of Maryland politics. For the most part, our needs are ignored by the state of Maryland simply because there’s not enough voters on the Shore to make a big difference. We on the Shore lay some claim to 12 out of 141 members of the Maryland General Assembly and 4 of 47 Senators in the Maryland Senate, which means that our desires are pretty much subordinated by any one of a half-dozen or so individual counties on the other side of the Bay.

And even when we have a governor who belongs to the same political party as the plurality of the Eastern Shore – where five of the nine counties lean Republican and the other four have registration numbers within striking distance – the desires of this region rarely pass muster. At best, they are watered down; at worst, things we oppose become law without Larry Hogan’s signature or a veto – even when a veto assures current law remains in force for another eight to nine months before the next year’s session and the inevitable override. It’s shameful that longheld local GOP priorities often get short shrift in Annapolis, and it’s doubtful that any change back to the Democrats will help. (For example, don’t be fooled by the moderate facade Peter Franchot’s assuming for his nascent gubernatorial run; he told me all I needed to know with his statement about Alabama.)

On the other hand, while Sussex County is but about 1/4 of Delaware’s population, it’s the fastest-growing county of the three in Delaware. And if I really had the desire to get down in the weeds of local and state politics moreso than my monoblogue Accountability Project and the occasional foray into interesting issues such as the right-to-work battle that ended early last year, I have an election coming up where all 41 members of the Delaware General Assembly, half their 21-member Senate, and Governor John Carney are all on the ballot for election.

It’s also worth remembering why I began the Delaware edition of my Accountability Project – since I was working for a decent-sized homebuilder at the time and I noticed that well over half its clientele was coming from other nearby states (including Maryland) I realized that keeping Delaware attractive was good for business and affected my paycheck. Of course, now the situation is reversed somewhat since I work here in Maryland, but that business sinks or swims more on other factors where ineffective government doesn’t affect it quite as much. And, frankly, I need a new horizon anyway. (Even more frankly, from what I’ve seen about the Delaware Republican Party it makes Maryland’s look professional – and that’s a very low bar to set. I think I’ll register with the Constitution Party.)

So I’m departing the Maryland political scene for the most part, a move begun by my resignation from the Central Committee three years ago and hastened by our house search. It’s time for someone else to take the reins, or those reins can lay on the ground and be trampled into the mud. I guess that depends on just who cares.

Radio days volume 26

I had one last show to do before I went on a hiatus for a few weeks thanks to some family time and other obligations. So on Friday I stepped into the ring of a show called “Ringside Politics” with host Jeff Crouere on WGSO-AM in New Orleans. (They podcast the whole show, I come in about the 3:02 mark.)

It’s actually a gig I’d been seeking for awhile, but there were a few roadblocks placed in the way: I let them get through a hurricane, sent him a copy of the book to review, and finally got him to agree to a spot on the last day I was going to do shows before I took the time away. It’s interesting because I think years ago I was on Jeff’s mailing list but somehow we lost touch.

Anyway, the one issue I had initially was originally I was slated to be on at 9:00 a.m. his time. A few days beforehand, Jeff contacted me and asked if we could push it back a half hour, which was no problem with me.

But when it came to the appointed time, my phone was silent. So I went online and checked the station only to find he was talking to another caller. After going “hmmmmm…” I texted him to ask if I was bumped; a half-hour later I got a call from the station asking if I was ready to come on.

Thus, I was a little unprepared because I was also working on a project for work that had grabbed my attention again, but once I got back in the flow I thought I did okay. The biggest issue I had was where I rolled into a break before I was informed we were coming up on it; otherwise, I would have wrapped things up better. But it was a nice overview of the TEA Party and the frustrations that we had to endure.

I probably should have held my tongue on Bobby Jindal, though. It was really intended as a passing remark, but Jeff took it and ran with it. Live and learn.

So now I’m on a radio hiatus for a little while, for reasons I will further explain in a few weeks. There are two to three outlets which are still interested in speaking to me once the fall comes so we’ll see how pursuing them goes.

Radio days volume 25

This was a special one, for several reasons.

First of all, it was a return of sorts to my hometown, on the very station which defined its local conservative radio, WSPD.

Secondly, I had some invaluable help in arranging this one since my friend Bob Densic was the intermediary between myself and their morning host, Fred LeFebvre. Bob put the wheel in motion and I grabbed on for dear life. It was definitely not the longest segment I’ve ever done, but it was the one which most reminded me of my old days doing spots live on the radio here, back when WICO-AM was at 1320 and a talk station. Perhaps it was a little detrimental because Fred and I talked over each other several times, but it was fun for me.

And a third reason was the comment from Bob afterward:

You hit on a point that was a major dividing line with our area Tea Party groups.  After the second Obama election we regrouped to discuss what went wrong.  We had so much success with the 2010 election.  Many of our group wanted to redouble our election efforts…. Focusing on finding and promoting candidates.  Myself (Back to Basics) and the leaders of a few other groups wanted to shift focus to educational and outreach programs…. Trying to win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.

Many Founders warned that our republic could only survive if the people were moral and well educated.  I wonder if those from many, many years ago who took our education away from the churches truly had this long term plan in mind.  Now we have a system with millions of “useful lemmings” eager to do the bidding of “the system” without truly knowing the overall goals.

We will not win this battle in the halls of Congress, in the State Houses or even our local city hall and school board. We win this battle over the backyard fence, at the water cooler and the dinner table.

God bless you brother!

E-mail from Bob Densic, 8/2/19.

As I went through doing the book, the parallel realization I had with how the TEA Party elected Donald Trump was about how corporate the larger groups trading on the TEA Party name became. Obviously the TEA Party Express was about political candidates from the start, while TEA Party Patriots tried to keep a neutral facade for a few years, but there were countless organizations who would pass their collection plates to the people who made up the TEA Party, including the “scam PACs” I devote a couple pages to in the book. (Look in the chapter “The TEA Party Is Dead.”)

If you check back to the early, early days of the modern conservative movement, you’ll notice that most of its movers and shakers were also thinkers: William F. Buckley was a good example of this. Certainly National Review was created as a means to change hearts and minds, as it was not a moneymaker according to Buckley. Yet the TEA Party tried a different approach: to change the political players by constant fundraising, which only served to disillusion the rank-and-file when nothing really changed (except the bank balances of those who were running the scams.)

Thus, having said what he did and knowing his background, I pressed Bob on another subject I brought up in my book: the belief that governing was really the hard part for the TEA Party. (This is very lightly edited for a few typos and misspellings.)

Let me separate that into two parts. First, the act of governing with conservative principles is not a challenge.  It does take twisting the norm on its head a bit.  Rather than focus on what “special request” or project someone may ask for, I try to look at a larger perspective of what challenges are rooted in our government that prevent the project or issue being quickly or efficiently solved. It’s a bit like being the 7-Up of politicians…. I am the “un-candidate”.  What can I info to make this work.

The second part involves working within the bureaucracy.  Government by design, or at least Legislative action is to be slow, deliberative and transparent.  It is very frustrating on both extremes to have to go through committees and multiple readings on certain issues, yet to see readings waived and emergency clauses attached to others.

The larger frustration is dealing with entrenched concepts of how government is to work.  We are a very blue-collar, multi-year all town.  “This is how we do this” is the most repeated phrase in all our municipal buildings.  There is a lack of acceptance of economics impact of decisions.  Our area has the highest property tax rate in the county along with some of the highest income tax rates.  Yet the answer for every department is new equipment, new manpower, new money.  The deep state exists at the local level.  Lifetime bureaucrats will do everything (or nothing through a pocket veto) to keep the status quo.  In our town as with many others it is more about who you know rather than what you know.

One major plus of being an elected official, it has provided a larger soapbox to teach from.  As I get the chance to talk about “the why” of my votes or actions, people get to hear a new perspective.  Too often my past educational efforts through Back to Basics ended up as preaching to the choir.  As a councilman I talk with people who would never take a Saturday morning or week night to learn about the Constitution.  A bit like Paul, I can preach to my Roman captors.

Bob is actually a very good example of being accountable, as he regularly engages with his public on social media to explain the governmental process. But he points out yet another reason hearts and minds have to be changed in the proper manner before political fortunes improve: notice the emphasis on “it’s always been done this way” and political fiefdoms. (Fred brought up the same point: if you have certain last names in Toledo, you will most likely be a Democrat and almost become a shoo-in for elected office no matter the qualifications – or lack thereof. I’m sure they are on third-generation elected officials in the same family, just like here in Maryland: Ben Cardin got his first political seat when his uncle with the same name left it – now it belongs to Cardin’s nephew Jon Cardin. )

So this edition of radio days was more than just a radio show, but the process of keeping a kinship going. However, I do have another gig coming up on August 16 in the great state of Louisiana once again.