Third Friday September 2015 in pictures and text

Tonight I had a choice: expand once again on a topic I wrote about for today’s Patriot Post or go to Third Friday and see the sights. Our military prowess is important, but this one was more fun.

Hundreds of people agreed with me. The first photo was taken looking west from Division Street while the second was from within the Plaza. They were taken perhaps 20 minutes apart.

I hadn’t taken ten steps into the Plaza when I saw City Council member Laura Mitchell and husband Miguel heading out. Seems like Third Friday is the place for people I know. But I wasn’t really expecting this guy, who’s about 30 miles from being “downy o’shun.”

Yes, that’s former Delegate Don Murphy hanging out with current Delegate Carl Anderton and Jackie Wellfonder, at whose behest I took the photo.

But there were two people looking for votes at tables. One was mayoral candidate Jake Day, who has no one on the ballot against him, and the other was Muir Boda.

He had a well-stocked table, but then Muir’s been a Third Friday fan for a long time.

One element which contributes to its success is the music. This month The Larks were playing on the Plaza.

That photo came out pretty well for being taken in the twilight. The earlier sunset made the event finish after dark.

And as it was winding down, it was plain to see that a block of Division Street was one giant sidewalk chalk canvas. They probably had 200 boxes scattered around Third Friday; fortunately, there’s not much chance of rain although there is a 100% chance of traffic rolling over the colorful street.

Tonight was the second-to-last outdoor Third Friday of the year, although there will be outdoor events associated with it from time to time over the winter months. Throughout this year, it seems the crowds have been excellent and the city is trying to expand on the success with First Saturday and the trolley between Salisbury University and downtown which runs on weekend nights.

With all that is going on this weekend around the region, Third Friday seems to be holding its own. Salisbury’s had its share of bad news over the last decade, but this golden goose continues to produce each warm-weather month.

9/11: The varsity team is back

September 11, 2015 · Posted in National politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off 

Instead of a post here to commemorate 9/11, I was asked by the Patriot Post to write a piece on it, tying in the intelligence burnishing that’s been in the news lately. (Just as a little blowing of my horn I have an original piece there most Fridays, today being one.)

But there was one thought I had, a reference which was edited to be shorter. So I will expand on it briefly here.

As time passes away from the 9/11 attack, we tend to forget that those who best recall the horrific day as working adults are becoming less and less a part of the prevailing culture. The fall of the World Trade Center occurred just before my 37th birthday; in a week I turn 51. On the other side, those entering college this year were toddlers at the time and may nor recall the shock we felt as adults.

My point is that the passage of time and world events change our perspective. I see the world quite a bit differently now just before my 51st birthday than I did at 36. Part of that comes from the school of hard knocks, but the passage of 14 years changes almost everything.

Most of my readers can’t do this from actual experience because they weren’t around, so imagine the world of December 7, 1955 – fourteen years after Pearl Harbor. Our nation fought (and won) one world war but we existed in an uneasy truce from a more recent fight at the time over in Korea. There was also the “Cold War” going on between the United States and Soviet Union, with rumors rampant of Communist enemies at the highest levels of government.

In many respects, the unfinished business of confronting radical Islam is similar to what we faced with the Soviet Union. It took nearly 50 years to eradicate the old Soviet Union and free Eastern Europe, but the Russian bear now shows signs of coming out of hibernation. We may have that same timeline with radical Islam, but the kids of today exist in a world where everything is relative. America is often portrayed as the bad guy, and to a certain group of people we are to blame for the problems of the world.

If there’s anything different about the post-9/11 era compared to that of a generation ago, it’s the perception that America isn’t always right. Even if the cause is just, too many assign ulterior motives to our actions and this confusion is why we can’t all get on the same page. It will take a leader to restore our faith in the idea of America before we can get serious about winning the Long War.

Back in the game

August 28, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

After some technical difficulties with my server and then the internals of my site, I am back up – and not a moment too soon. I’m going to try and get a record review in for tomorrow and Cathy Keim has some wisdom to share this weekend as well.

So don’t fret for me, I’m fine and hopefully monoblogue will stay that way too.

Judging the revamped Wicomico County Fair

August 17, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

For many years the Wicomico County Republicans have been proud participants in the Wicomico County Farm and Home Show. But after last year’s sparsely-attended rendition, it was decided a change was needed.

In reading last year’s feature, the comment was made that they needed more people to help out. Enter the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, who had the rights to the old Delmarva Chicken Festival, and the re-christened Wicomico County Fair was reborn in its 79th year. So how did it go?

There was still a lot of tradition there…

…but they kept what was good about the old event and added a lot more.

One of those holdovers drew a lot of spectators on Saturday evening, as they kept the Cowboy Mounted Shooting event.

The idea is to shoot the balloons off the cones in as quickly as possible. On a horse. I suppose it’s a little easier on us humans than to run through the sand ourselves and do it, and a better spectator sport.

As I said last year, though, it would be interesting to get a more full-fledged competition. Maybe next year.

But there was a lot which was new and improved. One thing dragged out of mothballs was the giant frying pan made famous at the Chicken Festival.

I’m sure this sponsor has been there all along, but the chicken tie-in was surely encouraging for them.

The fair also included a “beer garden” for the first time, although it was more of a standard food court. Ice cream was among the favorites, and you couldn’t miss the rhythmic sound of this motor they used for churning.

This area, however, also presented a opportunity to vastly expand the musical entertainment as a number of local bands played the fair. The Barren Creek Band was among those that played Friday evening.

On Saturday night Red No Blue was the opener for Petting Hendrix. They were wrapping up as I was leaving.

Another area that was a noticeable draw was the variety of kids’ activities. Those kids who exhibit goats, sheep, or cattle need to have a little playtime, too. It was more than my cell phone could get in one shot.

Truth be told, given the nice weather and the additional interest, those exhibitors who used to be inside but were outside this time around – such as the National Aquarium and Maryland Right to Life – likely had more traffic than the Republican Club had inside the exhibit hall.

One thing I didn’t get a picture of was their display, but the club did. It’s not a state election year so we didn’t have a lot to stack up.

I thought this sign belonged there, though.

Since both of them are Republicans, we could lay claim to it but it was actually the county’s sign that was placed across from us.

Finally, speaking of judging, there seemed to be more entries this year in the photography contest. I entered a handful of photos but no ribbons for me this time. Maybe next year.

But if I were to give out ribbons for most improved local event, I think the Wicomico County Fair would be a recipient. I’m glad there was some new life breathed into this venerable event and hope its 80th edition next year will be even bigger and better.

A pair of Easton events

Our friends on the mid-Shore will get to be a hotbed of conservative political activity next week.

First off, on Thursday evening the fine folks of Heritage Action will host a training session on “How to be an Effective Activist Through Social Media.” It will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Easton so you should be back home well before the witching hour.

The topics will include:

Online Training: Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube
Twitter Training: Build and deploy a Twitter Army
Legislative Training: Learn how to use the Heritage Action Dashboard to Hold Congress Accountable

All they ask is that you register at this site, show up a little early (they prefer 5:00), and bring their iPad or smart phone. A hankering for Chik-fil-A wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. And say hi to Melody Clarke for me, since she alerted me to this.

Then comes Saturday. Because Easton has a centrally-located Planned Parenthood facility, it will be the Eastern Shore site of “one of over 150 events coast-coast on August 22, in cooperation with a coalition of more than 40 pro-life groups.” This according to the organizers of the local event. I spoke to the folks with the Maryland Pro-Life group at the Wicomico County Fair tonight and they were anxious to be at the protest. (It should be noted that Planned Parenthood is closed on Saturdays. With any luck they will soon be closed more permanently.)

Dubbed the Easton #PPSellsBabyParts Protest, it will run from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 22 at the Easton Planned Parenthood location, 8579 Commerce Drive #102 in Easton. As my notice says:

We may never have a better opportunity to strip Planned Parenthood of their massive $500 million taxpayer subsidy and expose the truth about this corrupt organization.

They may claim “doctored video” and “we provide needed health services” but the fact Planned Parenthood had to hire a Democrat hired gun PR firm means we have them on the ropes – even the PR firm is ashamed to admit it. Pressure from caring Americans can finish this fight.

I can’t make the Thursday event but I will strive for the Saturday one. It will be interesting to see who covers it.

Who screwed who?

August 9, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Over the last four years, Dan Bongino has evolved from an obscure Secret Service agent to political candidate to pundit. Along the way, he’s taken the core beliefs he was instilled with and managed to broadcast them to wider and wider audiences through his unique combination of eloquence, entrepreneurship, and hard work.

But I have some reason to question his latest piece on Conservative Review regarding the Millennial Generation. While Dan, who just turned 40 late last year, is less removed from the Millennials, I have the advantage of having a daughter who came in right around the dawn of what is considered that generation as she was born in 1983. So I’ve had a front-row seat to a good deal of her upbringing and education.

Dan devotes a significant portion of his piece to the new book by Mark Levin, Plunder and Deceit.

It is a must-read for young Americans who are looking to escape the Democratic Party’s deceptive, focus group tested talking points and looking to find the truth.  Additionally, the book is a must-read for Americans of all ages who want to understand, and be able to explain to open-minded young Americans, the danger we are in if we fail to correct our course.

In this age of political correctness that seems to enslave those of the Millennial Generation, my question is whether these youths have an open mind to listen and look for the truth, rather than exist in a cocoon of dependence. It’s a failure of my generation that just assumed that our kids would be taught the same values and morals that we were when we sent them off to our public schools. (I was taught in both a public school and university, but we send Kim’s daughter to a Christian school. She figured things out in time, but the powers that be do not like that style of independence.) Looking back, though, we really weren’t taught proper values and morals from our folks, either. (Needless to say, the schools didn’t do it, either.) But my generation really screwed the pooch, didn’t we?

If you learn an entitlement mentality and get a prize just for participating in any event at a young age, the necessary lessons that you can’t always get what you want and won’t always finish first aren’t taught. When I played Little League, we kept score and oftentimes I was on the losing side. But that made the game where we ended our long losing streak that much sweeter.

My older daughter started out in T-ball and we didn’t keep score so we didn’t bruise the self-esteem of these 1st and 2nd graders. But I know the kids did – they knew who won and lost.

Yet over time, in a society where we were supposedly trying to allow kids to have fun, we were regimenting more and more of their activity whether competitive or not. It saddens me to drive by an empty baseball diamond knowing that when I was eight or nine years old I spent my days over at Heatherdowns Park playing pitcher’s hand, right field automatic out, four-on-four pickup games – unsupervised, with no sunscreen or batting helmets and a regular baseball as opposed to the slightly softer ball they use for T-ball now. More often than not, we had the do-over when there was an argument.

Kids now are treated either like miniature adults or hovered over by anxious parents who have garnered a name for themselves: helicopter parents. Many of these are the Millennials who can’t bear the thought of little Aiden playing cops and robbers with a finger gun or Mia wishing to have Barbie dolls like Grandma had; instead, we have to have politically approved, unisex playthings for “play dates.” My play dates were from June to September at the park or at various friends’ houses, and after school the rest of the year. But we knew to ask the mom at the house we were at when it was 5:00 because that was time to go home for supper, or we were shooed out the door so they could eat their family dinner.

I’ve gone a long way afield to make a simple point: in the modern day, the Democratic party is like the kid who ran for class president on a platform of no homework, a longer recess, and ice cream sandwiches with our lunch. What kid wouldn’t vote for that?

Those of us who are of a certain age soon realized that such a fantasy platform came to a screeching halt when the adults who were in charge told us “no.” Now the adults will try to accommodate the requests, since little Aiden and Mia can’t be wrong and the teachers need to see things their way.

In an age where childhood can legally be extended to the age of 26 – based on the age when a parent’s health care plan has to cover a youth – the perpetual adolescent will always seek the handout. I pray more people will seek the truth that life isn’t always fair, there is right and wrong, and things are worth working for, but the fact that we even needed a column like this from Bongino is evidence that I need to redouble my efforts.

2016 dossier: Social issues

I don’t think I even had this down as a concern four or eight years ago, but as I get older and grow in my faith these things become more important to me. So I will devote a valuable eight points to these issues, which I would loosely define as abortion, preservation of traditional marriage as in only between a man and woman, and religious freedom issues such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Ideally, abortion would only be legal in very rare circumstances, marriage would return to being between one man and one woman with same-sex couples allowed civil unions to grant them a similar legal status to marriage (but not co-opting the term), and those who have religious conscience would be allowed to follow their faith directive. I understand that this might open a can of worms insofar as the traditions of certain religions, particularly Islam, so it should be understood that America was based and founded on Judeo-Christian principles and our laws and customs tend to follow those. I see nothing wrong with that course.

When a candidate believes “2016 will be the religious liberty election” and scorns fellow Republicans about running from the fight to “rearrange their sock drawers,”  there’s a pretty good chance he will rate highly, and Ted Cruz does. I’m also not worried about his abortion stance if leftist ninnies are screaming about it, for example, questioning the fact January 22 is a day of infamy among pro-lifers. Cruz also turns around the tired leftist “war on women” meme, calling unfettered abortion the “real war on women.

If you add in his call for civil disobedience when it comes to same-sex marriage and consider his overall record, I think we have a winner.

Total score for Cruz – 8.0 of 8.

Very close behind Cruz is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, whose state is considered the most pro-life in the country. Just like Cruz, his stance on abortion drives the Leftist ninnies batty, as they seem to forget their idea was to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare. Two out of three ain’t bad. He’s called out the inside-the-Beltway crowd for their cowardice as well.

As the governor of a state that had its definition of marriage between a man and a woman overturned by the Supreme Court, he was reluctant to follow the directive, waiting for the court with jurisdiction over the state to actually overturn the will of the people before relenting. Now he wants a change in the Constitution.

A recent action, though, would seem to bolster the argument against the religious freedom executive order he signed. But as usual, the media got it wrong: Westboro protesters were free to demonstrate, but Jindal simply ordered a strict enforcement of state laws which already prohibit disrupting funerals.

Total score for Jindal – 7.9 of 8.

Coming in just behind Cruz and Jindal is Mike Huckabee. Mike has no problem defending life; in fact, he responded to an obvious “gotcha” question about deploying the FBI or federal troops to stop abortion by curtly saying, “we’ll see when I become President.” The Left had a field day with it, as one would expect.  Huckabee also decried the “manufactured crisis” regarding Indiana’s original religious freedom law and vowed to use executive authority to prevent it.

Huckabee also blasted the Obergefell ruling, calling it an “out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.” You would figure a man with Huckabee’s background would do well here and indeed he does, with just the slightest hint of apprehension from me about how far he would take executive power. He’s also far more vague on his website than he is in the press.

Total score for Huckabee – 7.8 of 8.

Much of what I needed to know about the plans of Rick Santorum when it came to social issues came in this neat little statement. I also knew from his last run he was pro-life, yet he complains about the media treatment he gets. Well, when most of the media is left-wing it’s what you need to expect.

So I have no problem with the issue standards – which are very much like those who come in ahead of him – just the whining.

Total score for Santorum – 7.6 of 8.

After reading up on Rick Perry, I decided to give him a score that is about halfway between Bobby Jindal, who could argue with Perry’s claim about being the most pro-life governor (and has the laws to back it up), and Ben Carson, because both Perry and Carson have misspoke on gay marriage. A defender of state’s rights, Rick defended the Indiana religious freedom law, signed one for his own state, and decried the Obergefell decision because it usurped 10th Amendment authority.

Unlike the others above him, though, I don’t see Rick using the bully pulpit as much on these issues.

Total score for Perry – 7.0 of 8.

Overall, I think Marco Rubio will be fine on social issues – he’s pro-life, has a compelling story to tell, and seems to have the right idea on the Obergefell ruling. Several others wish to fight this at the state level, too. He’s also good on religious freedom. I also like how he’s given space on his campaign site to these issues, although his unusual layout makes it hard to find.

He doesn’t seem to get as much credit on these as others in front of him. In that respect he’s like Rick Perry but doesn’t have the advantage of being able to pass laws. In the Senate Rubio is more well-known for immigration than social issues, and that holds him back a little in both categories.

Total score for Rubio – 6.4 of 8.

Ben Carson makes no bones about it: he is “unabashedly and entirely pro-life.” Obviously his perspective as a physician helps there, and much of his appeal comes from those who make social issues paramount. He also supports religious freedom legislation like Indiana’s original RFRA law, which supposedly allowed discrimination against same-sex couples so they “clarified” it.

The problems have come when he tripped over his tongue on being gay, and conceded the Supreme Court made gay marriage “the law of the land” (although he personally favors civil unions in lieu of same-sex nuptials, which is my stance as well.) His comments and subsequent walking back of them hurt him a little bit here as well, but overall this is by far his strongest category to date.

Total score for Carson – 6.0 of 8.

Trying to straddle a line between libertarianism and faith can be difficult, and it puts Rand Paul a little below the top tier of candidates on this issue. He’s admirably pro-life and gets it for the most part on religious freedom, although he was slow to defend the Indiana law that should have been just what he wanted: key social and moral issues left up to the states. But as long as taxation and child-rearing legalities are dependent on marriage, you can’t simply take government out of it as it stands currently. On the other hand, sound thinking in other areas can work toward that goal, which is why I don’t deduct as much on Rand as I do for others who simply wash their hands of the issue (see below.)

Total score for Paul – 5.5 of 8.

During his tenure as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was placed in the unique position of defending the life of Terri Schiavo, who was the unwitting subject of a legal tug-of-war between her estranged husband and the remainder of her family. Ultimately he lost that fight, but overall Jeb has a relatively sound pro-life record.

Where I begin to differ with Jeb is his “evolving” (read: retreating from the truth) on marriage, particularly true in his choice of advisers. At one time he decried the idea of homosexuals having “special legal protection,” but now is fine with letting states decide and not amending the Constitution to declare marriage as the union of one man and one woman. He also backed away a little on Indiana’s RFRA law after the outcry from the gay lobby. His brother retreated from a conservative stance more and more as he went on as President, and I fear Jeb may start from an even worse position despite his assertion that his faith will guide him. At this juncture he’s only slightly better than average.

Total score for Bush – 4.5 of 8.

John Kasich has a very sound pro-life record and approach, which I applaud even if the lefties don’t.

But I see him shrinking from the fight in other important areas, telling the Republicans “it’s time to move on” from traditional marriage and stating Ohio doesn’t need a religious freedom law despite the fact he backed the federal one as a Congressman in 1993. Just wait, governor, you will. As he backs away from those positions, it makes me wonder if he has the fortitude to remain on the side of the unborn. If you value working across the aisle I wonder about that.

Total score for Kasich – 4.5 of 8.

Scott Walker joins this crowd in the middle with much the same resume as Kasich – a staunch record for life that includes a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act he signed days before his announcement, but ambivalent opposition to same-sex marriage (perhaps due to family concerns) and a lack of desire to enact a religious freedom law in Wisconsin.

So he gets the same score as Kasich and Jeb Bush, who is cut from a similar cloth.

Total score for Walker – 4.5 of 8.

Carly Fiorina is very good on the pro-life front, noting on the trail that her mother-in-law was advised to abort the man who would become her husband. On that front she’s also unafraid to call out liberals for their hypocrisy. She’s also on the right side when it comes to religious freedom.

But, in the same breath, she’s going the wrong way on gay marriage, and the lefties (who would back Hillary anyway) are happy about it. I’m also disappointed she doesn’t make any statement on these issues on her campaign page, although it is short on a lot of specifics in the first place. And even though she is misled about the crux of the gay marriage issue, at least she will disagree without being disagreeable.

Total score for Fiorina – 4.2 of 8.

Maybe Chris Christie came late to the party, but as governor of New Jersey he touts his pro-life record. It’s relatively close to the mainstream, with the usual “rape, incest, and life of the mother” exceptions. But he’s not fought hard on same-sex marriage, meekly allowing his state’s supreme court to enact it and telling us that, while he didn’t agree with it, same-sex marriage was now “the law of the land” as Ben Carson did. He also would not support county clerks following their conscience, which tells me he’s no big advocate for religious freedom. He supported Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on a personal basis, but was backing the changed law.

Total score for Christie – 4.0 of 8.

I decided, after a little bit of thought, that while Lindsey Graham is earnest in his pro-life beliefs and deserves a lot of credit for trying to enact a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - anyone who says in one breath they are for traditional marriage and religious freedom but in the next advises us to wave the white (or maybe it should be rainbow) flag and “move forward” because there’s little chance at success. Instead, he pledges to fight on religious liberty.

But if he’s willing to throw in the towel there, when will he stand and fight? As I kept reading and considering, he kept sliding down my list.

Total score for Graham – 4.0 of 8.

I’m probably being a little unfair to Jim Gilmore since he just got into the race, so he hasn’t made a priority of staking out positions on all the issues. However, in looking back mainly to his abortive 2008 campaign, I found he has an eight-week window where abortion is okay. And while he was against same-sex marriage and civil unions back in 2007, so was Barack Obama. One thing that troubles me is this 2013 interview where he seems to be cautioning Republicans to stay away from social issues. That, though, is the conservative base and they need to be fired up in order to get to the ballot box.

Total score for Gilmore – 2.0 of 8.

While he leads in the polls for now, Donald Trump is near the bottom of my list. The only thing that saves him from the bottom is his relatively recent pro-life conversion. And even though he vows to be the “greatest representative for Christians” if elected he doesn’t seem comfortable with the evangelicals and was hesitant to state his opposition to gay marriage. There are far better alternatives as far as social issues go.

Total score for Trump – 1.6 of 8.

It’s no surprise George Pataki is at the bottom of my list given he is pro-”choice.” Yet he doubled down on bad decisions by blasting the Indiana religious freedom law, and is fine with same-sex marriage being the law of some of the land, saying let the states decide. Basically that takes us back to a pre-Obergefell status and it’s easier to fight at that level, so I guess I can give him a little something for that.

Total score for Pataki – 0.5 of 8.

I need to catch Kasich and Gilmore up on previous issues (education, Second Amendment, and energy for Gilmore) so once I do that I will move on to the next category, trade and job creation.

39th annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

Bereano’s Corner was in roughly the same location, but there was a lot of strangeness about this year’s event.

Our tent was in a new location. Some liked the idea of being along the marina, but the traffic walking by wasn’t as brisk as we had when we were in the middle, next to Bereano.

It did have a great space for signage that many took advantage of.

Being on the grass, we also had our share of bloodsucking biting flies. Speaking of bloodsuckers, the Democrats were less than thrilled with their location as well. Normally they have been the corner tent in this line.

But they did have the keg, not that I had anything from it. They also had an interesting table within.

While I am part of working America I’m not a member of this AFL-CIO affiliated organization, so it’s no surprise to find them in the Democrats’ tent. There were a handful of folks walking around with their red shirts on, but Big Labor didn’t have the presence here they did during the O’Malley years. Maybe they are laying low until next year.

There were quite a few businesses there, although it was a different mix than I recall from previous years.

Some enterprising youth took the occasion to be their own business people. Those in orange were “runners” and on their shirts it read they were working for tips.

Hopefully they made more money than those who annually charge $10 or $20 for parking in their yard. I don’t think business was as brisk for them because attendance seemed off from last year.

Government and public entities were well-represented, too. Interesting how the environmentalists are cozy with the economic development group.

I think the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore was next to the Democrats, but Salisbury University was really trying to make a splash.

While there were a lot of differences in this year’s rendition of Tawes, some things never change. Lobbyist Bruce Bereano always has the biggest tent.

Another constant is a ton of good food, particularly of the fried variety. This was my spread.

Not a salad in sight – in my dietary defense, I skipped breakfast. But it was all very good, aside from a little lack of fileting on one of the sandwiches. It was a trifle bony.

(No, I don’t like crabs – so don’t ask.)

This event also draws media like the food on the ground draws seagulls. Here’s Delegate Carl Anderton being interviewed by local television.

Both local Salisbury stations were there doing live shots and interviews.

And while the faces may change, the political aspect never does. You have the newcomers trying to make a good first impression, like U.S. Senate hopeful Chrys Kefalas and his millennial posse.

By the way, I had to look up that Kefalas is 35 because he appears a decade younger.

You have old hands looking for new positions, like Congressional candidate Mike Smigiel (in the center). He had a batch of “I Like Mike” buttons.

County Councilman Larry Dodd is on the right, and I apologize for not recalling the gentleman on the left’s name.

And then there were established officeholders like my 2015 monoblogue Accountability Project Legislator of the Year, State Senator Justin Ready. He’s talking to Jackie Wellfonder, who probably has some sort of social media record for photos with the most officeholders and general friends of hers.

I think I’ve already seen her picture with our Lieutenant Governor, Boyd Rutherford. He’s the distinguished-looking guy in the center.

One final difference was the weather. While it was relatively comfortable, with a gentle breeze, the clouds rolled in toward the end.

I left about 20 minutes before the scheduled 4:00 close, and by the time I got to my car about 1/2 mile away it was raining lightly. Before I got out of Crisfield it let loose and poured, so those who stayed to the bitter end either got under a tent or looked like drowned rats (or both.)

It was a fitting end to an event which was good, but perhaps a little off kilter. In fact, I was discussing the future of this gathering with someone who compared it to the Salisbury Festival – a venerable event that didn’t change and eventually withered away. Since the cost went up this year (to $45 a ticket) we’ll see how it affects the plans for next year.

As for me, I’d like the center location back.

2016 dossier: Education

As I promised awhile back, now that my monoblogue Accountability Project is out of the way I can begin to focus on the 2016 presidential race. With the exception of governors John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, it looks like we have the initial field in place for the start of what should be a memorable campaign – if only for the sheer number of people seeking to clean up the mess Barack Obama has made.

As I have done before, I break my method of choosing a candidate to support down by issues, which I rank in importance as part of a 100-point scale. Education ranks at the bottom of my ten top issues, thus a perfect score in this category is five points.

So what would be the ideal course of action for our next President? There are a number of answers I’ve written about previously, but to boil it down to a few items:

  • The first step would be to eliminate Common Core as a federal incentive. It would be the icebreaker to a philosophy of restoring educational control to the states, with the eventual goal of maximizing local control.
  • This President should then do what Ronald Reagan promised to do but could not: abort the federal Department of Education.
  • He (or she) should then become the leading voice for real educational reform in two areas: maximizing school choice and establishing the standard that money follows the child.
  • The President should also be an advocate for alternate career paths such as vocational education and apprenticeships as well as ending the stranglehold the federal government has on financing college education.

For this exercise I am going to rank the fourteen current candidates from best to worst, assigning them a point value from zero to five.

Rand Paul would abolish Common Core – although since it’s actually owned by a private corporation he can’t exactly do that.

He also believes strongly in local control, quipping that “I don’t think you’ll notice” if the Department of Education were gone, and adding that local boards of education shouldn’t have to fight Washington over curriculum. But where he shines is his statement that money should follow the child.

As you’ll see below, some put qualifiers on their advocacy of that concept. “Let the taxes Americans pay for education follow every student to the school of his or her family’s choice,” he wrote in the Washington Times. That, friends, is the correct answer.

Total score for Paul – 4.4 of 5.

Ted Cruz has many of the same good ideas Paul does, vowing to end Common Core and scrap the Department of Education. He also proposed legislation designed to enhance school choice for children on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. While I haven’t heard or seen Cruz speak much to the other areas on my docket, I am giving him a little bit extra because he has shown a willingness to lead on issues.

The only faults I find with his Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act is that it only benefits lower-income children. If every child has a right to a quality education, every child should benefit, as Paul points out.

Some may ask why I feel that way, since wealthier students can likely afford private schools. However, the chances are good that they invest more in the system through paying higher property taxes, so they should be given the same opportunity. Remember, money is only following the child to the extent a state would support him or her, so any overage would be borne by the parents.

Total score for Cruz – 4.2 of 5.

Bobby Jindal was for Common Core for awhile, but now notes the more parents and teachers deal with it the more they dislike it - he also thinks it will “strip away state’s rights.”

Yet he’s definitely hurt in my process because, while he argues that federal control should revert back to the states, he only wants to return the Department of Education “to its original intended purpose.” There was no intended purpose for the Department of Education except to suck up to the teachers’ unions for backing Jimmy Carter. They just wanted a Cabinet-level department.

Bobby’s only reason for scoring as high as he does is that he has done the most to create a situation in Louisiana where money indeed follows the child regardless of school type – a roster which includes online schools. In doing so, he has also shown the true feelings of teachers’ unions, who claimed Jindal’s reforms “would destabilize the state’s public education system and reduce teachers’ job security. They also claimed parents are not mentally equipped to choose a good education for their children.” (Emphasis mine.)

Once he realizes that the federal government is infested with bureaucrats who think the same way, Jindal could do a lot of good.

Total score for Jindal – 4.0 of 5.

It dawned on me that the reason Rick Perry doesn’t speak out as forcefully against Common Core is that his state never adopted it. He also wasn’t as forceful about dismantling the Department of Education, although it was part of the gaffe that ended his 2012 campaign.

Yet the reason, Perry claims, why his state did not do any federal programs was that Texas had established higher standards. He had also called upon colleges in his state to create degree programs which could cost no more than $10,000, which several Texas universities have achieved. It’s a initiative Perry claims has spread to Florida and California.

Of course, the question isn’t whether these state initiatives can be done at the federal level but whether Rick can stand by as President and allow the laggards to fail. He seems to understand, though, that education is a local issue.

Total score for Perry – 3.8 of 5.

The one thing that sticks out about Lindsey Graham is his support for homeschooled kids, for whom he vows “you have no better friend. He also expresses his opposition to Common Core as a tool of coercion, which is good but maybe not quite as good as those above him.

However, he has previously worked to eliminate the Department of Education and supported tax measures aimed at assisting young educators with their student loans. It’s not a idea I could wholeheartedly back because I dislike pandering via tax code, but it will be interesting to see how Graham’s campaign develops on this front and hear some of his other thoughts.

Total score for Graham – 3.4 of 5.

Mike Huckabee was once for Common Core, believing it needed a “rebrand,” but now is against it saying “We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.” Whether that means some sort of standards just for public schools or not, his thinking has changed dramatically. But it could be better late than never, unlike Jeb Bush.

Mike is an advocate of school choice, claiming he was the first governor to place a homeschooling parent on his state board of education, and also noted that he increased teacher pay. He also thinks the federal Department of Education has “flunked” and needs to be “expelled.”

While he says the right things, I just don’t trust him to be a forceful advocate for sound educational policy. I just sense that Big Education will roll over him.

Total score for Huckabee – 2.8 of 5.

While he is new to the race, Chris Christie has a 15-point reform agenda which he believes “can and should be a model for reform for the nation.” It covers a number of subjects: teacher tenure and pay, school choice, charter schools, college affordability and accountability, and ideas for higher education.

Unfortunately, what it doesn’t tell me is what he would do to eliminate federal involvement; in fact, as this is written it sound to me like he would simply make New Jersey’s initiatives nationwide. Other states should succeed (or fail) on their own merits, but I would encourage them to adopt ideas like “stackable credentials,” apprenticeships, and credit for prior experience.

Total score for Christie – 2.6 of 5.

More than any other candidate, Marco Rubio talks about the federal role in college financing. But he also talks about alternatives such as vocational education and believes parents need to be empowered through the enhanced choice of educational scholarships that they can use anywhere. Local control also extends to curriculum, and Rubio suggested that the Department of Education may be eliminated.

But if the federal government is going to have a role in college financial aid, it’s likely that no federal agency will be eliminated. Rubio seems to be on a populist rather than conservative path, with the major difference being Uncle Sam’s role in financing school. Why should they have any role in something the private sector could easily do?

Total score for Rubio – 2.5 of 5.

Scott Walker has a mixed record on the important subject of Common Core. He will say he’s against it, but hasn’t gone out of his way to eliminate it in Wisconsin. And while his state has gone farther than most to install a measure of school choice, there are a number of restrictions and only certain families qualify, so it’s not always a case of money following the child.

Like Huckabee and Graham above him, Walker is a strong backer of homeschooling. He also has shown the teachers’ unions he’s the boss, but has been silent on what he would do with the Department of Education and doesn’t speak a great deal about local control. This puts him more squarely in the middle of the pack.

Total score for Walker – 2.5 of 5.

I don’t know if Rick Santorum intentionally stole the tagline of “common sense not Cfommon Core” from Mike Huckabee or vice-versa. But that’s about all he talks about, aside from a nod to local control which he doesn’t really come out and embrace.

One thing that I would expect Rick to talk more about is vocational education, considering he has supported the rebirth of manufacturing. But nothing has been said, at least that I’ve found.

Total score for Santorum – 2.4 of 5.

George Pataki was the governor of New York for 11 years, so a large portion of his agenda is an extension of his record there. So while he says that “Common Core should go” and that education should be local, he would not rid us of the Department of Education, but retain it in a “very limited role.”

The idea of tax credits that could apply in either a public or private system has a little bit of merit, though, and that’s what pushes him ahead of other contenders – that is, assuming he could use his office as a bully pulpit to get states to adopt this.

Total score for Pataki – 2.2 of 5.

In his educational platformBen Carson talks mainly about local control and that Common Core must be “overturned,” which is good. School choice is also a subject he has touched on.

But aside from the platitudes and buzzwords, I really don’t see a lot of depth in what Carson has to say. And, like Pataki, there’s one thing which definitely detracts from his overall score – he will not eliminate the Department of Education. While I don’t agree the Department should be an arbiter of speech, I really don’t agree that any government agency will accept a reduction in its role – it simply must be uprooted.

Short of some major pronouncements of policy regarding issues others above have touched on, this is not a strong category for Ben.

Total score for Carson – 2.0 of 5.

In several ways, Jeb Bush is like Rick Perry and others above. His state has been a leader in school choice, he advocates for digital schools conducted online (think of a high school version of the University of Phoenix, to use a familiar example) and he favors school choice.

But the issue I have is that he would prefer a top-down approach, and while he argues Common Core should not be construed as a federal creation of standards (which is true to an extent, as a private entity created and licenses it) he still encourages the federal government to have a role in education, to provide “carrots and sticks.” Those carrots and sticks should be created by the market, not the federal government.

Total score for Bush – 1.8 of 5.

For all I know, Donald Trump could be good on education – perhaps he could make it into one giant for-profit enterprise and eliminate the government altogether. But I doubt it.

And aside from thinking Common Core will “kill Bush” (he is against it, though) and believing education should be local, there’s not much on the Donald’s educational platform. I hate the lack of specifics, and if he was to run based solely on educational philosophy I would fire him.

Total score for Trump – 1.0 of 5.

Aside from a number of vague statements about school vouchers, the size of federal impact, and the thought that Common Core limits parents’ options, Carly Fiorina really hasn’t put together much of an educational platform. And some question her change of tune from her Senate run four years ago.

When others have an agenda that is well spelled out, the lack of specifics from Fiorina sticks out like a sore thumb.

Total score for Fiorina – 0.5 of 5.

Postscript 9/26: After hearing her “answers” on education, I have decided she should score 1.5 more points in the category, bringing her to 2 points.

Next up will be a category with considerably less nuance and a value of six points – the Second Amendment. And as a programming note, I think I will leave this up through Sunday night and otherwise leave the site dark for Independence Day.

And it begins…

July 1, 2015 · Posted in National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

I didn’t figure it would take too long.

Once the floodgates had been opened, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would try and push the envelope.

The next frontier will be that of “consenting adults.” Just wait until the first person citing his religion wants to marry a preteen under the age of consent. It will be discrimination to not allow this person his wish, after all it is love and “love wins,” does it not?

Methinks that the Supreme Court has left us a legacy of banana peels and jagged cliffs.

I still marvel at the lightning speed by which we went from one state court decreeing that marriage licenses should be given to same-sex couples (in a split 4-3 decision) to having it become the law of the land in all 50 states in less than a dozen years. Aside from fighting an actual war with bullets and fatalities, it’s rare to see such a pace of change.

And where once the concept wasn’t polled, now about 3 in 5 Americans are supportive of same-sex “marriage.” That simply means 3 in 5 are victims of the constant propaganda, although maybe I should be encouraged that 2 in 5 still apparently believe in the word of God.

But then I’m just a “hater” because I believe marriage remains between one man and one woman. We Christians are funny that way, I suppose.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

June 21, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off 

First of all, happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including mine I spoke to earlier this afternoon.

For the last month I have been operating under a handicap; one which is now (mostly) resolved. My formerly trusty laptop ran into a number of issues which required professional intervention and there was a point where I was afraid I had lost all my monoblogue Accountability Project work. Fortunately, I got everything back and hope to get the mAP released this week; perhaps as soon as Tuesday.

It also means I can move forward on my next project – issue-based dossiers on the GOP presidential hopefuls. I’ve determined which platform planks are the most important on my docket so over the next few weeks I’ll share how I make my decision on who to back for 2016.

So consider this fair warning. It’s been a hectic week with a lot on my plate but now I’m thinking I’m ready to start looking forward to 2016 – not only in a Presidential sense but also the contested primary for First District Congress and the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barb Mikulski. Summer is usually a slack time for the political but the year before a presidential election can be an exception.

Oh, and look for more from my cohort Cathy Keim this week as well.

Increased popularity. Decreased sunshine.

That, in a nutshell, was the story of my Third Friday.

I got home from work, changed my clothes, and walked out to my car. Felt a sprinkle, pulled out my phone, looked at the radar picture and saw this tiny orange, yellow, and green blob arriving.

Man, did it pour when I got downtown. I walked through a river to get there as people were scrambling to get their treasures under cover. So by the time I arrived it was pretty much cleared out.

At that point I decided to find my Delegate’s new office. It’s a modest little room above Roadie Joe’s downtown, but he had some good folks in there for its grand opening: County Councilmen Larry Dodd and Marc Kilmer stopped by as did Salisbury City Council candidate Muir Boda, who made it official today as he filed. I didn’t get a very good picture of the Carl Anderton district office, but my friends Jackie Wellfonder and Julie Brewington did. Find them on social media.

A few of those aforementioned folks were downstairs grabbing dinner as Dark Gold Jazz was playing. So I sat in with them: the dinner eaters, not the band. (Although I own a guitar, I can’t play an instrument to save my life.)

They did about the longest version of “Hey Joe” I’ve ever heard. I don’t drink all that fast but I swear I drank half my beer during the song. Luckily, I like the tune so it worked.

But as people drifted off to other locales like Headquarters Live, I took a few minutes to stroll the Plaza.

The sky was still rather turbulent as I left.

It’s funny because Kim was in Ocean City this evening with the kids (daughter and friend) and it looked nice and sunny there from the video I saw. Welcome to Delmarva, huh? From what I heard, though, 3F was rather packed before the rains came.

So it wasn’t exactly the Third Friday I planned but it was nice to catch up with some old friends nonetheless.

Editor’s note: Read more

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