Leaving the resistance: a case study

This article was actually going to be about one piece of information I received, but then I got another which I can tie in. I do that every now and then.

The TEA Party movement, depending on how you determine its beginning, is somewhere between five and seven years old now. Thousands upon thousands of activists have participated in it, but in reality conditions have generally become worse in terms of its main fiscal goals.

It’s a well-documented lack of success, and perhaps that lack of reward is frustrating those who want real positive change. Take this piece I received an e-mail the other day from an area TEA Party group lamenting the writer’s Independence Day plans.

This year for the July 4th Holiday I spent it doing laundry or something mundane like that. No family gathering, no special commemoration or meditation on my part to mark this critically important day. I cannot let this happen again.

When I think of the miracle of the founding of this nation and the sacrifice made by millions to preserve it I am ashamed that it passed like another day, a long weekend. I’m sure most of you reading this didn’t abuse this important day to the extent that I did – hopefully. I serve in a position of leadership in this organization; I know better. God forgive me but God help me to do better not just next year but every day from this point on.

This organization didn’t participate in (a local) event due to lack of interest from the membership. We didn’t walk in the July 4th Parade, also due to lack of interest. The Summer BBQ will most likely be pushed out again due to lack of interest. These are perhaps less important than what we do daily to mark the miracle that is this precious nation BUT they are outward expressions of our commitment to each other, to this nation, to our God in front of others. If we don’t stand up in front of an unschooled community every chance we have, how can we hope to shift this paradigm?

I know we are all tired, exhausted, hardly able to pay our bills and take care of our families. Perhaps we are in our senior years and feel that we have paid a hefty price already. Many of us are weary from trying to inform a willingly uninformed public, legislature, clergy, education system, healthcare system, etc. I get it; I’m part of that tired and huddled mass.

If you go back on my website you’ll find numerous references to TEA Party gatherings, local meetings of an Americans for Prosperity chapter, or the Wicomico Society of Patriots – these are all groups which flourished for a brief time but then died due to lack of interest, leadership issues, or both. Some of those organizers have moved into the mainstream of politics, but many others found that activism too difficult to keep up when their family’s financial survival was at stake.

But then we have the diehards, among them the purists who will accept no compromise. That’s one lament of Sara Marie Brenner, a conservative activist who announced on her Brenner Brief website yesterday that she was taking a hiatus from her news aggregation website and radio show.

I bring this up as I’ve interviewed her for my now-dormant TQT feature as well as talked about a venture she launched late last year. While I definitely haven’t agreed with her on everything and incurred her wrath by pointing out the lack of viability of her many past and present enterprises in the new media world, I think she makes some very good points in her lengthy piece.

For one, I nearly laughed out loud when she wrote about the Ohio PAC where $7,000 or the $7,400 raised went to the leader’s own company knowing that the Maryland Liberty PAC has a similar history – the majority ($14,826.03) of the nearly $26,000 MDLPAC spent last year went to Stable Revolution Consulting. It’s one thing to collect money for a cause, but the same people who question the Larry Hogan connection with Change Maryland may want to ask about that arrangement as well.

As a whole it seems that some in the TEA Party movement can’t be happy unless they either amass power and wealth for themselves – making them little better than the big-government flunkies they decry – or refuse to compromise on one particular issue, forgetting that they may need their conservative opponent for some other pressing issue tomorrow. Brenner brings up two hot-button items of interest – Common Core and Glenn Beck’s charity effort to assist the unaccompanied minors streaming over our southern border from Central America. On these I only agree with her 50% but as I said she makes other good points.

I don’t blame Sara Marie for backing away from the fray; that’s her decision just as it was to get involved in the first place – and I wish her nothing but the best in her ventures as she follows her other passions. But we have to remember that the other side wins when we stop fighting.

It was a more hopeful tone from the other side of the TEA Party:

I hope that we will always remember that no matter what the political ideology, we must find commonalities if we are going to make any progress. I hope that we make a concerted effort to reach out in peace to at least one person over the summer that we have heretofore had disagreements. We know that the truth is on our side as long as we deliver it in peace and love.

Now if anyone would have sour grapes and wish to take their ball and go home, it might be me given recent election results. Believe it or not, though, after nearly two decades in the political game I am still learning and listening, so losing an election won’t crush or define me – it just means I retire with a .500 record. But I’m still going to participate because it’s important, if not necessarily lucrative.

The trick is getting new people into the fray to replace those who can’t go on for whatever reason. Because I have a talent for writing – or so I’ve been told – I have soldiered on with this website for going on nine years. It may not be the most useful or unique contribution, but it’s what I have.

So those who have departed will be missed. However, they are always invited back once they recharge and reload because we can always use the help.

Cleveland rocks!

To me, it was good news from the RNC: the 2016 GOP convention is slated for Cleveland. For those of us on the East Coast, it’s a city within driving distance and in my case I would have a ready-made place to stay because part of my family lives there. The “mistake on the lake” could achieve the daily double as well, since the Democrats also have their eye on Cleveland for their convention – if so, it will be the first time in 44 years both parties have held their convention in the same city, with Miami being the site of both 1972 conventions. Cleveland last hosted a national convention in 1936, when Republicans picked Alf Landon to face Franklin Roosevelt. (They also hosted the 1924 GOP convention, which nominated President Calvin Coolidge for a full term.)

But to me it’s a milestone of a city going through the pains of revitalization, A few weeks ago, on my Sausage Grinder blog, I wrote a piece reviewing a study done in Cleveland about how the city is attracting more and more young workers. Frustrated by high real estate prices on the coasts and finding good jobs in the “eds and meds” fields, Cleveland is becoming a destination of choice around the region. Yes, that Cleveland.

If the GOP wants to send a message about their vision for America, they should focus on the process Cleveland is using for its rebirth. The city is a laboratory to study mistakes made and methods which work, as it serves as a microcosm of sorts for the country at large. Built up in an era when brains and brawn were needed in equal supply to create the goods which helped a young America prosper and witness to an exodus to both its suburbs and more favorable regions which all but killed the city, Cleveland can still be a survivor. As I wrote in my piece, Cleveland is a place “where manufacturing is in the blood.” I think making things in America again is the key to a national renaissance.

Certainly Dallas and Kansas City, Cleveland’s two main opponents in the fight to be convention host, have their own stories to tell. But there’s a political factor to consider: Texas and Missouri have been fairly safe Republican territory over the last several elections, but Ohio has gone with the winning Presidential candidate a remarkable 13 elections in a row – so any Republican advantage there can be vital. On a state level, the GOP has been dominant for much of the last quarter-century, albeit with less-than-conservative politicians occupying the governor’s chair – George Voinovich, Bob Taft, and John Kasich have left a lot to be desired insofar as the conservative movement is concerned. But if Kasich secures re-election this year, he will be the fourth two-term Republican governor in a row stretching back to the days of James Rhodes, who served four non-consecutive terms beginning in 1963.

So if I’m blessed enough to get an opportunity to cover the proceedings – or even be a delegate or alternate – I think it would be fun to give the perspective of a transplanted Ohioan. It’s something I can scratch off my bucket list in fairly familiar surroundings.

Independence of thought

July 4, 2014 · Posted in Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

As is often the case at holidays, I spend a few minutes several days ahead figuring out a message to fill my space while I do other things – in this case spend time with my daughter and son-in-law without getting too wet given the pessimistic forecast.

Of late I’ve been writing a lot about a different kind of dependence – the dependence on a party structure to attain political goals. When I fell short in my bid to stay on the Wicomico GOP Central Committee, I noted that there were some liberating qualities which could come out because I was no longer as tied to the fate of the GOP.

Don’t get me wrong: as a vehicle for conservative, limited-government change, its principles are difficult to beat. The problem is how little effort Republicans at the highest levels expend in putting those ideals into practice. Oh, sure, they’ll give the excuse that they are only 1/2 of 1/3 of the government but they have the power of the purse. They just back down when they have the chance to use it because there are personal goals which are more important, like re-election – principles be damned.

No wonder no one trusts Congress.

About two years ago I finished a book which has a passage that describes my political aspirations perfectly.

I noted earlier that I was not born to be a politician because my skill set isn’t the same as, say, a Sarah Palin, a Bill Clinton, or even a Herman Cain. Sometimes it’s disheartening to realize this because I think I have a lot of good ideas.

But it can be liberating as well. Since I’m not a legislator or seeking an executive-type post, I don’t have to deliver a lot of hollow promises. In fact, my political philosophy may turn some people off because I’m the sort who doesn’t believe that government in and of itself should enrich people nor do I think it’s a proper vehicle for wealth transfer. Unfortunately, it’s been noted that “a democracy…can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury.” Since I’m opposed to that concept, there’s no way in hell I could be truthful about my beliefs and ever reach a high enough office to put these plans into action – at least not in the present-day political climate. And while that sort of double-talk and obfuscation is associated with those on the Left, I have no plans to switch parties and become a Democrat. I imagine that move would be the ultimate in reverse psychology.

The key phrase there is “present-day political climate.” There’s nothing that says we have to follow the same conventional wisdom.

At the highest levels of government, there is no Left or Right – only power. It would take a massive wave election unlike any we’ve seen to sweep all of that away; in essence, the entirety of the population which doesn’t believe the government or world owes them a living would have to be motivated enough to participate while the disinterested ones who are dependent stay home. And trust me, they would come out in force if they had to. So my goal is, as Walter E. Williams would say, “push back the frontiers of ignorance,” so that the rolls of the uninformed who don’t mind their dependence shrink.

It’s sad to think that many are chained to the government in ways we never thought about. But as long as we can think for ourselves, there is a chance things can turn around. That’s the message I want to impart on Independence Day 2014.

A Troopathon update

July 2, 2014 · Posted in National politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off 

troopathon2014_banner_160x240Just before heading into the Independence Day holiday, I wanted to update you on the status of Troopathon 7.

When I last left you on the subject, they were looking to reach a goal of $300,000. At the end of the telecast they finished about $1,600 short of the goal, but subsequent offerings enticed them to raise the goal to $350,000. As of this writing, they are at $317,950.

One thing I have not been able to track down is how much this site raised in the overall bloggers’ competition. I know that Wayne Dupree won (and received the AR-15 they were giving away) but I don’t have my own number. I will tell you that one of my readers donated to my PayPal account with the intention of using that as a donation, so I purchased another care pack on her behalf (made sure the note said so as well.) If, between her donation and my personal purchase, that was all I accomplished I would be a little disappointed in my readership but secure in the knowledge I made a little bit of difference.

It will be interesting to see in which direction Troopathon goes next year, since plans have been made to withdraw most of our remaining armed forces from Afghanistan. Unless we suddenly decide to slug it out with the ISIS terrorists in Iraq, 2015 will bring perhaps the smallest number of Americans in combat this century, since Barack Obama is hellbent on wrapping up the Long War whether victory is in hand or not. Of course, it won’t mean those few who remain won’t appreciate the efforts provided by Move America Forward, but I think it’s a question I think is worth asking. So I will and if the response is worthwhile it can be featured here.

Update: I raised $50 out of the total bloggers’ pool of $600, good for fourth-best. I think as a group we did better last year, but every little bit helps. It’s sort of sad that a number of bloggers who agreed to participate didn’t even help for themselves.

AC Week in review: June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

I knew this would be a slow week for me because of the election, so I only had a couple posts for American Certified this week. But they were important because they were on a subject near and dear to manufacturers’ hearts – financing.

First, though, I want to point out something my AC colleague Ed Braxton put together on high tax rates and how they affect us on a global scale. Ed points out that many of our competitors across the globe have relented on corporate taxation, a practice which encourages multinational corporations to park their profits elsewhere.

As I promised a week ago, my two-part series on the Ex-Im Bank’s fate was put up over the last week. I decided to devote part one to what its proponents have to say, with the opponents’ case discussed in part two. Personally, I’m not convinced that we need to reauthorize the institution, particularly in an era where government is already trying to get its tentacles into myriad areas of financing.

One product already made in America, and probably getting its financing from private sources, is the Clif bar. These energy bars got a glowing review from my AC cohort George Pitsakis in his latest piece. However, I have one bone to pick with George – he notes how the company has gone green but I’m wondering how much was on their own and how much incentive was dangled in front of them. If they can make a superior American-made product in a competitive marketplace, though, more power to them.

I’ve already put a couple items in the pipeline for next week and will work on more in the next few days.

Snapshots of an election

To be honest, I took these photos on Tuesday intending to add them to my coverage – then promptly forgot and posted it anyway. But it doesn’t hurt to have a second look back before moving forward. There’s really not going to be a lot of fresh news until after the Independence Day holiday anyway, plus it also proves the adage that every picture tells a story.

So I’m going to lead with this one I also posted to Facebook.

It’s interesting to see this pile of Anthony Brown signs, which as I recall were pretty much all of the Brown signs I saw. Now one person suggested that they were originally set within the 100′ limit then relocated against the tree, which is possible – but I doubt it. Instead, my thought was someone left the pile of signs earlier that day or the previous night intending to have the first volunteer at the site place them in the morning – sort of like someone decided to have a insurance exchange website intending to have the thing actually work and not waste millions of dollars.

If you don’t get the small details, the large stuff bites you in the ass.

Speaking of signage, I did not count how many signs were out there on the grounds of the Civic Center, but I would suggest the ratio was perilously close to one for every other voter. Interest seemed to be quite low.

I took that picture about 5:00 after I arrived about 4:30. (This was an election day I had to work – I couldn’t alter my schedule enough to avoid it.) There were literally three people working the polls when I got there – M.J. Caldwell’s wife Pam, a lady representing Circuit Court appointee Jimmy Sarbanes, and Jim Jester, who was doing double duty with an Andy Harris shirt and Mike McDermott sign. This is one of the busier polling places in the county, and only three people were there.

If I saw 100 people vote in the time I was there, it was a lot.

Speaking of M.J. Caldwell, the Republican voters of this county need an education. I would expect about 60-65% of Democrats to blindly support someone named Sarbanes, but 43% of Republicans? Really? Someone selected not on qualifications, but on name recognition by a political hack governor we can’t stand? Get real. That has to turn around in November.

Even the news coverage was lackadaisical. Channel 47 did a live remote, but they never came out to talk with us. They probably showed the pictures of an all-but-empty polling place to an audience which can be charitably described as second-best in the market.

In terms of poll workers, it did pick up after a time. Jackie Wellfonder came along to work this poll.

Turned out the face-to-face didn’t do either of us much good because we got about the same amount of votes, and that wasn’t enough.

Josh Hastings was unopposed in his primary, so all he had to do was await the winner on the GOP side.

His opponent will be Larry Dodd, who had someone there eventually but he wasn’t the social type.

Having worked polls a few times here, I know that after about 7:00 it’s pretty well done for the night. So there were a gaggle of people with Hastings who got to talking down the way on the Democratic side, and a few of us for the GOP. It’s not like we had voters to convince, as maybe 20 stopped by during the last hour.

At the very end, Carl Anderton dropped by to retrieve his signs as did Jim Mathias. They had a nice conversation, although I didn’t get a picture. I was even bipartisan and helped Jim pick up some of the Democrats’ signs.

I was in a group which went on to The Cellar Door to check on the returns, but it wasn’t really a good night for most of us as you now know.

There were a couple things I learned, though. First and foremost is that Facebook is worthless as a campaign aid unless you want to pay through the nose. Social media isn’t really social anymore; it’s become commercialized like everything else. I had 60 likes for my Facebook page, which isn’t much but it at least gives me insight on how my posts did. (By comparison, Jackie Wellfonder also had a similar page and got 100 likes – but about 60 fewer votes.)

I placed a total of 41 posts on the page, although there was one I shared multiple times. My total reach was 2,718 – it’s about 66 per post. Ironically, my best post insofar as Facebook is concerned is the last one I think of as my concession speech, which reached 298 people. A little late, don’t you think? But if you figure a good number of those 66 per post see my stuff time after time, it’s not all that efficient for the investment.

I didn’t have thousands of dollars laying around to get my Facebook page up to 100,000 likes as Change Maryland did, and we only know about the last 30,000 or so because the campaign paid for those – Change Maryland was close to 70,000 when Hogan made it official. So who knows how much he paid for that promotion? More than I had in my pocket.

Anyway, social media isn’t really the way to go. But what is?

The second thing I found out is that the public seems to be unmotivated to find out what people really stand for. In race after race, I saw that those who spelled out their platform in the most complete manner lost to those who were a mystery to voters but had name recognition. It also didn’t necessarily matter how hard you worked – if John Cannon or Matt Holloway went door-to-door I didn’t hear about it, but Muir Boda did and got 18% of the vote to show for it. Tyler Harwood went door-to-door with Greg Belcher (in the same group which at times featured Carl Anderton, Marc Kilmer, and Boda) and finished dead last for Central Committee (Greg was 8th.) Hard work wasn’t its own reward, and no good deed went unpunished – or so it seemed. (Nope, Marc corrected me – it was just his lit, not him.)

In short, I’m not sure I did my job very well on a local level. If I have a mission to educate voters, it looks like I have to work a little harder on it – and so I shall. I suppose the one thing about being a lame duck is that I have no election to worry about anymore, so I can speak my mind perhaps a little moreso than political correctness may dictate.

One source of relief is that I have a smaller range of people to keep up with for November. I think we could have done somewhat better coming out of this primary, but at least now I know whose feet I’ll have to keep to the fire and who I should be able to count on with a minimum of supervision.

Today is the day

June 25, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · 5 Comments 

Well, I didn’t win my election. But there’s another place I can be a winner with your help.

There are a number of bloggers competing for prizes in a contest sponsored by Troopathon 7, which goes online tonight. (Later this afternoon I will set up a live feed as I have done before.) Sorry, no live feed. I got home much later than I thought.

I found out last night that this humble blog is in fifth place overall, neck-and-neck with Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, and I’m not all that far out of the lead. So if you want to help out me and a good cause, donate through the box on the right-hand side of the page (it accrues to my score.) With some help I can win this thing.

The final appeal

Tomorrow the vast majority of those who will participate in our primary process this year will go out and vote. While early voting did bring a few to the polls, about 70 to 75 percent of the overall vote is cast on election day, based on previous results. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m on the ballot tomorrow as I run for one more term on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.

Perhaps some of the others who are running have spelled out their agenda for the next four years, and we on the Central Committee have a lot to do in the next 4 1/2 months – our terms do not end until after the polls close November 4. I’ll be busy trying to find volunteers for the Farm and Home Show, Good Beer Festival, and Autumn Wine Festival. All these events are important for voter outreach and I have served as a coordinator on all these the last several years, along with being the Secretary this term.

But a couple weeks ago, before early voting began, I wrote a piece on my campaign’s social media page outlining my goals for the next Central Committee should I be fortunate enough to be re-elected.

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Now we’ve begun the actual voting process, the culmination of a campaign which began for me when I filed back in February. I could only imagine how it is to toil for 18 months or more to win a regional or statewide office, and several candidates have gone that long in their quest. The beginning of the end of my quest for a third (and final) term on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee opened last Thursday morning at the Civic Center when the polls opened.

Bear in mind that, win or lose, my current term doesn’t end until the polls close on November 4, 2014. We all have a single-minded goal to win as many elections as we can for local Republicans, particularly in races where we can unseat longtime Democrats like Rick Pollitt, Norm Conway and Jim Mathias. With that said, while I’m pleased with a lot of what I’ve done over the last eight years, I have some unfinished business I’d like to attend to over the next four.

First and foremost, candidate recruitment has to step up. We have a good team in place right now, but there are some holes we need to fill around the county, and a particular focus for the next four years is finding people willing to participate at the community level in towns like Salisbury, Delmar, Fruitland, and the others around the county. These local elections are stepping stones for eventual candidates, but they’re also the place where prospective campaign managers and treasurers can learn the ropes as well. This even extends to recruiting for other appointed posts such as zoning boards and similar local openings which can use a dose of conservatism. I would like to see a well-connected member of our group be the point person for knowing which openings can be filled and looking for the right people to apply.

A second focus is the quest for an elected school board in Wicomico County. Obviously we can go a long way toward that goal by making a couple changes in our elected officials this year, since Rick Pollitt and Norm Conway have been the roadblocks in place over the last four years. If not, we have to aggressively pursue other avenues such as a petition drive. We believe the county should join much of the rest of Maryland in pursuing that course; personally I think we could model it on our existing County Council districts.

Lastly, there should be better organization at the precinct level. Now that we’ll have an idea of just where precinct lines will be, the next step is to seek out and find local leaders who can work at the grassroots level. It’s a role which can evolve, but as an example when I led a precinct over a decade ago I printed and distributed a quarterly newsletter to my GOP constituents alerting them to candidates and issues we as a party were promoting. Some of us are already developing databases which can be of assistance in this regard.

Don’t forget you can vote for up to nine of us. I can work with any of the other twelve on the ballot, but the key for me is making it into the top nine once again. In 2010 I made it by just 30 votes and I wouldn’t be surprised if things are that close again.

You can make the difference. Ask yourself: what other candidates have spelled out their agenda to such a degree? Only a few of us bothered to fill out the League of Women Voters questionnaire, but I’ve not been shy about saying exactly where I stood on the issues.

So this is my case. I’m asking for and would appreciate your support between now and June 24.

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I was also one of the few Central Committee candidates to fill out a survey from the state’s League of Women Voters. Bear in mind I had to stay under 400 characters, so it was a tough editing job.

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1. Qualifications: How do your qualifications and experience prepare you for the duties of this office?

I have already served on the Central Committee for eight years, currently acting as the Secretary. It’s the culmination of nearly two decades of political involvement both here in Maryland and in my native Ohio. I also serve as the Secretary of the Wicomico County Republican Club, and have been entrusted with a leadership position there for the last several years.

2. Priorities: What should be the priorities of the party?

As a local Central Committee, our most important job is recruiting and supporting Republican candidates for elective office. But a key secondary duty is registering new voters as we try to make this a Republican county. Our candidates should stand for limited government which exists at the level closest to the people, so that local matters are handled here in Wicomico County and not Annapolis.

3. Filling Vacancies: If the Central Committee is called upon to choose a candidate to fill a vacancy in the General Assembly or other office, what would be your criteria for selecting the replacement?

In my time on the Central Committee, we’ve had to replace Page Elmore in the House of Delegates and Bob Caldwell on Wicomico County Council. While the rules are different in each case – particularly in Elmore’s case, where he passed away during a contested primary – the aim is to find a good, conservative candidate who will best represent the people as well as hold the seat in the next election.

4. Open Primary: Would you support opening the party’s primary to voters who have not chosen a party affiliation on their voter registration?

I do not support an open primary. While there are compelling arguments for an open primary, I believe that the closed primary represents an incentive for interested voters to choose a party. Unless the primary is opened up for both Democrats and Republicans so that unaffiliated voters have that choice, the GOP should maintain its closed primary system.

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In closing, I should remind voters that many of those who are or seek to be on the Central Committee will be in attendance at the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting tonight. We’ll be meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building, 144 E. Main Street in downtown Salisbury. The social time begins at 6:30 and meeting at 7.

Several members also attend a pre-event Happy Hour at the Cellar Door Tavern, which is located at 111 Camden Street. That begins around 5-ish and runs until around 6:30 – we’re informal like that.

And despite the fact it’s elsewhere on the page, let me note: For items which pertain to my campaign Michael Swartz for Republican Central Committee – Authority: Kimberley Corkran, Treasurer, Michael Swartz, Candidate.

There. Now I’m covered. So if you want to cover the common-sense conservatism space on the Central Committee, I would appreciate your vote tomorrow.

A Memorial Day perspective 2014

May 26, 2014 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off 

Normally on Memorial Day I recount the events of our county’s Memorial Day service, which is generally a rather brief ceremony of about a half-hour that I regularly attend. In it, current and retired living members of the military pay homage to those 190 men and women from Wicomico County killed on the field of battle since World War I.

But this evening, as the sun sets on another Memorial Day weekend, I would like to look forward. This is intended in no way whatsoever to dismiss the memory of those who sacrificed. Yet on Memorial Day 2015 some among us will once again wring our hands and fret that the majority of the populace treats Memorial Day as just an excuse to kick off summer with a three-day weekend.

For the better part of a century, Memorial Day was generally assigned the date of May 30. Whichever day of the week it fell on, people paused to remember the fallen – and at the time it was changed by an act of Congress in 1968 (taking effect in 1971) we were in the midst of a war in which many thousands of Americans were killed. Perhaps it’s a change in attitude as the memories of massive worldwide conflict perish with the last generation that fought in a major two-front war, but in the years since war has seemed to become that event which occupies the news cycle for a period of days when major incidents occur then fades back into the noise of everyday life.

It pains me to see the memory of those who perished be reduced to what amounts to a three-day party by many of those who may well be consigned to a life of slavery without the efforts of those who fought and died.

And don’t get me wrong – while some may argue I’m not in a position to speak because I didn’t serve in the military, being fortunate enough to come of age in a time of relative peace and prosperity under Ronald Reagan, I still feel my opinion is valid as a citizen of a great nation in danger of losing its moorings. If we can deal with the fact that Independence Day remains on July 4 and Veterans Day is always November 11, I think Memorial Day should return to May 30 regardless of the day of the week it falls on. That beloved three-day weekend would have still been in effect this year as the 30th falls on a Friday, but I think the purpose of the day has been diluted because it’s always placed on a Monday. There’s no doubt those in the tourism industry and retailers who think the three-day weekend jumpstarts summer sales will scream bloody murder, but they can make do.

So as you prepare for the shortened work week, think about what returning to a specific day may mean for the aspects of patriotism, love of country, and appreciation of sacrifice.

American entrepreneurship (or is it entrepreneurshop?)

Regular readers know I’ve talked regularly about business and industry, particularly with an eye toward restoring manufacturing to our American shores. At one time our nation was the undisputed leader in the world when it came to making things, but now China is poised to overtake us as the world’s largest economy because we buy millions and millions of their exported items. This didn’t happen overnight, and the recovery won’t be a quick one, either. Still, there have been a number of websites and other retail endeavors which specialize in American-made products; however, a new regional player in the field is emerging and there’s a good reason I believe this is important.

Philadelphia, Pa. – On May 15th, americancertified.com will open its doors, finally making it easy to find the best American made products. American Certified (AC) provides motivated consumers with the information they need when it comes time to vote with their wallets.

In recent years, a trend has emerged; consumers have shown a preference toward “buying American.” A survey of one thousand statistically selected Americans conducted by AC shows nearly 80 percent of Americans prefer buying American products, with over half of respondents willing to go “out of their way” to buy American, while nearly 40 percent responded that they are willing to spend more to purchase an equivalent American product.

Serial entrepreneur and inventor, Marvin Weinberger, is launching American Certified to increase consumer awareness while encouraging the resurgence in American manufacturing.

“We started American Certified because we love this country and want to help producers connect with customers who share their unique interests and values,” said Weinberger. “This is good for business, good for the consumer and good for America.”

This press release came out last week, and American Certified will be featuring e-commerce through Amazon, with the added benefit of a directory of “makers” expected to eventually exceed 100,000:

In addition to the e-commerce store, American Certified is building a first of its kind directory of more than 100,000 “makers” (including farmers and manufacturers). The directory membership is free and open to all; participation in the AC store is not required.

Completing the voluntary, but comprehensive, certification provides makers with an official seal certifying the American content of their products. In addition, makers can specify other attributes about their business, including characteristics as varied as whether woman owned, a veteran employer or recognized for green practices. The directory will empower customers to make informed purchases, while at the same time providing qualified companies with a new channel to directly reach shoppers interested in purchasing their goods.

Perhaps you’re beginning to wonder just why I’m featuring this business. I’m hoping one day they’ll be a paying advertiser on this site, but my current interest is much simpler:

Finally, American Certified will feature news and blogs depicting thorough analysis and trends related to the most recent happenings in American manufacturing and consumption. Members of the press and AC shoppers can sign up for a free weekly news summary, reporting on the Buy American movement from all sides, without bias.

I’m pleased to announce I will be one of those writers, running a section I’m calling the Sausage Grinder. It will deal with how trade law and regulations are affecting the prospects of making things in America. (The name was inspired by the Otto von Bismarck quote: “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”)

It may seem like an unusual combination, but in order to create a movement there has to be progress made on several fronts and apparently the fine folks at American Certified believed I’d be a good fit. I look forward to building this additional audience.

So this week I’ll begin putting together content for the site, as I already have a few story ideas to begin. On occasion I will be crossposting between this site and the Sausage Grinder, but if you have an interest in American jobs I would suggest bookmarking the site when it goes live May 15.

Ingenuity, made in America. By the way, “entrepreneurshop” was how I originally mistyped the title and I liked the Freudian slip enough to add it in.

Easter break

April 20, 2014 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off 

As I have done from time to time on Christmas Day (in years I just didn’t leave the site dark) I’ve also decided to take a break from politics on Easter and present to you something much more important and lasting.

After all, He is risen! Back to those matters political tomorrow.

And now for something completely different…

March 14, 2014 · Posted in Local Music, Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

Every so often something comes along which puts me at the intersection of doing something I enjoy because I find it interesting, being able to write about it, and making a little bit of money. Tomorrow will be the first of what I hope are many of these features.

If you’ve been reading here since about 2006 or so, you’ll have noticed I’ve done an occasional feature I call “Weekend of local rock.” I also had a Friday tradition called “Friday Night Videos” that I did for a couple years as well, and toward the end of the that series I abandoned the original premise of news videos and went to an all-music format. It seemed more appropriate for enjoyment over the weekend.

Thus. tomorrow I’m debuting a new regular feature. I haven’t thought of a catchier title than “monoblogue music”, so I’ll go with it. But in my occasional forays into attempting to find new writing clients, I came across an entrepreneur who was looking for people with a critical ear and existing media outlet to help promote his stable of musical artists by reviewing their work. So I contacted this gentleman and we have come to an agreement, the first installment of which will be up tomorrow afternoon. I like it because I get to listen to some different music than the formulaic crap which seems to plague the airwaves, from up-and-coming artists who may be enticed to come to this region. I’m sure he likes the fact I have a sub-200k world Alexa rank, but I think this can work to broaden my audience for the political end of my site as well. So it could be a win-win.

In speaking with this gentleman, it was made clear that my reviews didn’t have to be positive, which is fine. But I asked him to steer those artists my way who are either based on the East Coast or tour through the area. (The latter covers tomorrow’s first feature, as they are Australian-based but plan a U.S. tour later this year – on their previous tour they mainly played along the West Coast but I suspect this will be their breakout year and they will come this way.)

So while this may seem to be an unusual step – particularly for a political blog in an election year – bear in mind that I’ve always branched out into other realms because to write about politics on a daily basis would eventually burn me out. I look forward to what I hope will be a productive relationship on both ends, and one you the reader will enjoy.

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