Odds and ends number 112

It’s time for what seems to have become a monthly or so airing of those chunks of bloggy goodness I create out of the whole cloth of my e-mail box. Say that three times fast.

As always, these snippets run between a couple sentences and a few paragraphs depending on how much I can write about them, which is why at times things get “promoted” like my last article. Anyway…

An upcoming day of action

If you live in Delaware and are into the Article V convention idea, then June 7 is the day for you. Convention of States Action president Mark Meckler – yep, the guy of Tea Party Patriots fame and a familiar name to readers of Rise and Fall – is scheduled to lead a rally on the east steps of Leg Hall in Dover. But it won’t be a stand around and cheer event as those attending will fan out and try to convince legislators that we as a state should back an Article V convention. (This is why the event is on a Tuesday.)

One of the tasks given is to “deliver an information packet (provided) to your own legislators.” However, I suspect that my legislators would already be on board considering both properly voted against a 2016 blanket recission of existing convention calls (HCR60 in that session.) Hopefully someone can say hello to Bryant and Tim for me in that case.

There’s also some interesting reading on that front from CoS, as writer Jakob Fay addresses a critique of anti-CoS talking points and adds some insight of his own.

The bill to nowhere

Speaking of our esteemed legislature, it’s up to the Republicans to save us from a sneaky tax hike. Thanks to a lawsuit brought by the usual left-wing suspects who believe our public schools aren’t enough of a money sinkhole, the three counties in Delaware now have to reassess every single piece of property.

(The plaintiff in the lawsuit was a group called “Delawareans for Educational Opportunity” described in the suit as “parents of low income students, English language learners, children with disabilities in kindergarten through grade three, and other parents with students attending high poverty schools.” Since I doubt those parents had the coin to sue the state, it’s really that eeeeeeevil “dark money” the Left claims to hate behind it.)

To address this unapproved school tax hike, Rep. Mike Smith introduced a bill that insures “that school districts collect the same total revenue after reassessment as they did the previous year.” Yeah, when pigs fly. It’s a great idea, but we know that bill goes nowhere past committee because, to Democrats, too much money for schools is never enough. But ask for school choice and you get crickets.

As they always say, elections matter. Do better this year, Delaware.

Where are the jobs?

It’s always fun to see the conventional wisdom buckle under good old-fashioned analysis, and fortunately there’s somebody who’s paid to go through this data so I can share it.

One selling point of offshore wind was its job creation aspect, but a recent analysis by the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy put the lie to that. As David Stevenson concludes, “(study author) Wood Mackenzie is generally reliable, but this study misses by a country mile and is misleading elected officials and the public.”

It’s always been a pipe dream that we would somehow create thousands of jobs building, erecting, and maintaining wind turbines that only last about 20-30 years. Supposedly wind is free and renewable energy, but the millions of dollars needed to collect and harness it has to come from somewhere as does the natural gas backup plant required when the wind doesn’t blow for a spell, as happened off Europe last year.

There’s a reason I occasionally remind people that, once they received access to reliable electricity, farmers stopped using their windmills to create power.

Indivisible is so pissed over abortion

And this was an e-mail I got on Mother’s Day, no less – from a mother!

As you can imagine, the regressives at Indivisible are in a way over losing their cherished right to abort their babies practically at will. There are a couple lines worth mentioning and responding to.

The right-wing is trying to impose their narrow, cruel, patriarchal, white nationalist vision of the world on all of us. They want to force us into obeying their rules and living our lives bound by their twisted worldview. 

We deserve the right to make our own healthcare decisions. We deserve full control over our own bodies. We deserve full control over our own lives. 

Leah Greenburg, “Overturning Roe v Wade is deeply unpopular,” May 8, 2022.

Sorry, Leah, having a baby is not a “healthcare decision.” You ceded control of your body when you decided to have intercourse, so if the result of that is a human being with unique DNA then the burden is on you to carry it to term. At that point you concede “full control over our own lives” because there is another life inside you, full stop. (The irony here is that Leah and her Indivisible co-founder husband, Ezra Levin, have often put a photo of their young child at the end of their monthly newsletters.)

The second point is this:

This is a huge coup for the worst people in our country. But if you’re watching closely, you may have noticed that for a party on the verge of achieving one of its greatest goals, Republican elected officials don’t seem very happy. In fact, they don’t seem to want to talk about this at all. Instead, they’re talking about the circumstances of the leak. They seem to think if they can kick up enough of a fuss about how this came to light, everyone will forget about what the light reveals.

Ibid.

Of course the conservatives are talking about the leak because it’s unprecedented. We’re supposed to have trust in our institutions and leaking this decision was made for one reason and one reason only: to try and change someone’s mind, or, failing that, perhaps eliminate the problem. (Why do you think there’s additional security around the SCOTUS these days? This is why I thought the decision should just be released as is.)

Imagine if someone connected with a right-leaning justice had leaked the Obergefell decision taking away the states’ rights to recognize (or not to recognize) same-sex “marriage”? Wouldn’t the Left have demanded the ruling be made official immediately so that some gun-toting Deplorable didn’t coerce a justice into switching his or her vote to the right side? The Obama administration would have had Homeland Security and every other alphabet agency dropping all they were doing and turning over rocks to find the leaker so they could be punished.

So spare me the crying on both counts. Make Dobbs law and return abortion to the states so we can have our own crack at it. Speaking of that…

How to protect women (and babies)

I just became aware of this via Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, a friend of this website and a two-time (and final) Maryland Legislator of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

In its infinitesimal wisdom, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill this spring allowing, among other things, non-physicians to do abortions (the Abortion Care Access Act), so there’s a group attempting to petition this to referendum this fall.

It’s an uphill battle to be sure – securing 25,000 signatures by May 31 and the rest of the 75,000 needed by June 30 – but if anyone knows how to do it, that would be Neil Parrott. I encourage my Maryland friends to participate.

Additional abortion insight

If you’re not reading the Substack of AND Magazine, you probably should be. I probably have eight or ten articles I could include here, including tomes on debit cards for illegal aliens and how those children are being forced to work, taking weapons away from our troops to send to Ukraine, Wuhan flu lockdowns in China, and so much more. In fact, it’s such good stuff I decided to pay for a month and see what else I can get. (What I receive for free is quite good.)

But since I’m talking about it: earlier this month, in what was basically three consecutive posts, Sam Faddis laid out part of the Left’s plan regarding abortion:

Once upon a time, the Democratic Party seemed to believe in the Democratic process. It focused on organizing and turning out the vote. No more. That party is dead.

It has been replaced by something that looks a lot like Marxist revolutionary movements throughout history. It has no use for the popular vote. It believes in the power of the state and when necessary, the use of mob violence to intimidate its foes. It is getting ready to unleash its thugs into the streets again in response to the anticipated reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

While Joe conjures up the specter of a right-wing, white supremacist, trans and gay-hating wave of domestic extremism, the radical domestic movement of which he is a part is already mobilizing and taking to the streets. If the Supreme Court exercises its authority, overturns Roe v. Wade, and returns the question of abortion to the legislatures where it properly belongs our cities will burn.

Sam Faddis, “They Don’t Just Want To Kill Babies – They Want To Kill The Republic,” AND Magazine, May 5, 2022. All emphasis in original.

And when the first pro-abortion protestor is cut down by police it will be George Floyd all over again. You don’t put up fences for peaceful protest.

Let’s go on, shall we?

A group calling itself ‘Ruth Sent Us’ is calling for its followers to invade the homes of those Supreme Court justices it has identified as being likely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade

(…)

If you try to sign up to participate in a Ruth Sent Us event you are redirected to the site for an organization called Strike for Choice. This group is organizing similar actions all across the country targeting businesses and corporations that it does not believe have been sufficiently vocal in standing up for “reproductive freedom.

Strike for Choice operates under the umbrella organization Vigil for Democracy, which is actually organizing a whole series of “strikes” each one of which focuses on a different point in a far left agenda. Vigil for Democracy expresses a radical agenda explicitly directed at supporters of Donald Trump and members of the MAGA movement. Earlier this year it organized a series of “strikes” outside U.S. Attorney’s offices demanding that Republican lawmakers present in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 be arrested and tried for treason. In the old Soviet Union they called those show trials.

Sam Faddis, “Here Come The Foot Soldiers Of The Revolution,” AND Magazine, May 6, 2022. All emphasis in original.

These are the “thugs” that are being unleashed on the streets, as Faddis wrote. Several years ago I participated in a pro-life protest up in Easton and we just stood on a sidewalk on a day the Planned Parenthood branch there was closed, yet we had a police officer watching our truly non-violent protest. Obviously not everyone follows those rules.

Finally, Faddis concludes in his last piece:

What we are seeing is not protest. What we are seeing is not the work of disconnected local groups of concerned citizens. What we are seeing is an ongoing revolution with the intent of destroying the existing social, political and economic order. It exploded into view in the runup to the 2020 election and was aided and abetted by a new media which told us to ignore the obvious import of what we were seeing.

The target now is religion in America. Churches, synagogues, and mosques will burn. God himself is under attack.

Sam Faddis, “God Is Under Attack – The Mob Comes For Religion,” AND Magazine, May 9, 2022. All emphasis in original.

It so happens our church is currently participating in a fundraiser for a local pregnancy center. While Salisbury is fairly far away from the big city, it’s not unthinkable that their facility could be doxxed and vandalized because they promote alternatives to abortion. It tells me something when women are advised to avoid “pregnancy centers” by abortion advocates because when they visit such a place they may actually come to the realization that either they can get the support required to raise their child or can give the child to a loving adoptive family, like the adopted child of one of my relatives and his wife.

Finding my way onto mailing lists

When I used to blog on a daily basis back in the day, I was on a TON of mailing lists. (In essence, I used to try and write a single-subject odds and ends piece daily. That got to be too much with a family and full-time job.)

Once in awhile I still see the results of that time as new things slide into my e-mail. So it was with a group called People for Liberty. Now I have somewhat libertarian roots but maybe my guardrails have drawn a bit closer as I’ve gotten older and more into my faith.

But in reading about Bitcoin 2022, a National Liberty Day of Service, or a medical marijuana event called Chronic Palooza, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how libertarianism as I see it seems to work.

In my mind, political thought is linear. You could imagine it being a highway, with one direction taking you through the villages of liberalism, socialism, and communism on the way to totalitarianism where one group controls everything and somewhere there is one person who controls that cadre. In the other direction you have the towns of conservatism and libertarianism, with the road leading to anarchy as every person has the ultimate in liberty. However, the nature of people dictates the Darwinian principle that only the strong survive, thus, somewhere there is one person who would reign supreme.

In other words, that line forms a circle where you end up in one place regardless of the road you take. Where I want to be is on the opposite end of that diameter where there’s an equal share of liberty and responsibility. In my mind, this is where faith tempers liberty to the extent required to place us on the opposite side.

I think I’m going to leave a very intense issue of odds and ends on that note. I was going to toss in some Rick Weiland for comic relief, but I’ve had enough of the loony left for now.

The separation of church and state

Initially this was going to be part of an upcoming “odds and ends” piece, but the longer I thought about it, the more I felt it needed the promotion. So here you are.

Erick Erickson is the only person I pay for a Substack subscription, and it’s because he writes well about the interection of political conservatism and religion, seeing that he has a background in both. Now I don’t always agree with him, but in a couple pieces lately he’s made good points I felt were worth sharing and expanding on. The odds and ends regarding Delaware and other things can wait a day or two. After all, it IS my sandbox here.

In the first instance, Erick ponders the question whether you can be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time. I’m going to assume for the sake of the argument that we are not talking about a Joe Biden who is a Christian for show but governs in a manner that’s not too Biblical, in my estimation. Then again, that could just be my bias showing, so let’s get to Erick’s money paragraphs here:

If I, formerly elected Republican Erick Erickson who has never and will never vote for any candidate who is pro-abortion and once filibustered a resolution to make Barack Obama an honorary member of my city council before advancing legislation to privatize the local police force when it tried to unionize, were to sit in a church and have the pastor tell me to vote Republican, I’d have to leave the church. I know some people go to church for political rallies. I go for Jesus. For a pastor in a pulpit to tell me I must choose one group of sinners over another because the sins of the Democrats are so much more at war with Christian culture than the sins of the Republicans, the pastor would still be telling me to choose a sinner instead of Jesus. Preach the gospel.

But preach the gospel in such a way that convicts the congregation of their sins. Preach Christ in such a way that there is a clear alternative to the world. Preach on the sins and do not shy away from them. I suspect if a preacher does this, he will be pulling people out of allegiances to sin and allegiances to politicians who are hostile to the things of God without turning them off over partisanship.

Erick Erickson, “The Partisan Church Divide,” Erick Erickson’s Confessions of a Political Junkie, May 2, 2022.

It’s granted that those in my little church in Salisbury, Maryland tend to vote Republican simply because the Democrats seldom put up a candidate in state and national elections who is appealing to them. Yet if I were to check into their political registration I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a lot of them remain Democrats because either that’s how their family always voted or because they believed in the role of government being a hand up. On the latter point, I believe generations of handing up have made people dependent on the god of government and not the God whose Son was Jesus Christ. People who have rendered unto Caesar no longer seem to render unto Christ what is His, yet many of those who follow Christ serve their fellow man through volunteering, freely giving of their time and treasure.

But Erick concludes with his Most Important Point:

I fear for the Republican Party when my Christian brothers and sisters who allied with the GOP over abortion or sexual ethics get so focused on the sins of the other party that they, in allyship, are not as bold in calling out the sins inside our own tent. We will become just like the Democrats over time — a party without God convinced we carry His banner to deliver a false heaven of idolatry to this earth of idol worshippers.

Ibid.

This is a part where I struggle to some extent – not that I see Republicans as perfect by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I’m no longer in their party – but there’s such a wealth of material on the other side it’s like shooting fish in a barrel and I sometimes get to looking at it as taking the gains where I can get them. For example, Donald Trump was far from a perfect man but he advanced the cause when it needed to be promoted. Because absolute power corrupts absolutely, we can spend hours heatedly pointing out the foibles of politicians of all stripes while forgetting we only control the life of one person – the self.

I thought the timing of this was interesting when only a week before Erick had written about the Right suffering from “a persecution complex.” On that front, it brings up an interesting point.

Over the last few months, our small group from church has spent its time watching an episode of The Chosen each week. For those unfamiliar with The Chosen, it’s a crowdsourced episodic program available online or on several non-network outlets through Angel Studios – it’s even watchable through an app on your phone. (Another project of Angel Studios is called Dry Bar Comedy, which gives you an idea of their worldview.)

The Chosen follows the adult life of Jesus Christ, the main story beginning at the point where he begins performing miracles and gathering disciples. But a constant on the program is the heavyhanded spectacle of the Roman Empire, which seems to look at the Jews overall as something of a barely tolerated nuisance and sees Jesus as someone who is not only anethema to the “official” Roman multitheistic religion but also one who upsets the apple cart of having subjects to the Emperor (at that time, Tiberius) and his state-level leaders, such as King Herod Antipas. I have no idea if the series will lead there, but surely the subject of persecution will arise if they explore the time of the apostle Paul, who spent the first years of his adult life as Saul, one of those persecutors. “I am Jesus who thou persecutest, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” said Jesus in Acts 9.

In this nation of ours we spend a lot of time kicking against the pricks, as we fight tooth and nail over the right to kill our babies, keep God out of our schools but allow groomers promoting transgenderism to teach classes, and generally otherwise excuse behavior that would have been frowned upon in the generation of my parents. (I’m thinking in a Proverbs 22:6 manner here.) Yet I continue to pray for revival despite all that, and I’m sure Erick does too.

As I said, I don’t always agree with him but more than most I think he gets it. These are just two good examples.

Spilling the beans

Editor’s note: I actually wrote this on Saturday and debated putting it up for Mother’s Day, but chose not to. So you get it a couple days after.

What seemed like a quiet week in the leadup to Mother’s Day was suddenly roiled last Monday by the leak of a draft ruling revealing the Supreme Court was planning on repealing its badly considered Roe v. Wade decision from 49 years ago. Obviously the mainstream media, which should be focusing on who had the audacity to violate the Court’s trust and prematurely release what is obviously a controversial decision, is now fanning the flames of protest as aggreived supporters of abortion scream about “muh rIGht to PriVaCy!”

It’s become apparent that some radical spilled the beans in a desperate attempt to head off the decision, probably hoping that what appeared to be a 5-4 ruling would be nullified by a “change of heart” by one of the nine jurists. The early money was on a clerk in Sonia Sotomayor’s office, but I heard an interesting theory the other day that it was someone connected to recently-appointed justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is likely in the process of being brought up to speed regarding the Court’s procedures.

(I say 5-4 because, despite the so-called 6-3 “conservative” lean of the Court, the draft decision was not written by John Roberts. Usually the Chief Justice writes the majority opinion.)

Regardless of who decided to breach the Court’s trust, that person has stirred up a tempest comparable to the January 6 aftermath, leading many to fear for the safety of the conservative justices – who are now the subject of protests at their homes – and a call to release the decision as is.

I think that’s the way they should go, for several reasons. First of all, I do not put it past the deep state Left to attempt to assassinate one of the majority of five, which would set up a 4-4 tie, thus affirming the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that the Mississippi law this case is deciding is unconstitutional (and by extension that Roe v. Wade is constitutional.) Or, if it were learned that Roberts allowed Alito to write the majority opinion that he would join in, that would perhaps lead to the “solution” of putting KBJ – who has already been confirmed to replace Stephen Breyer – in to replace this hypothetical slain SCOTUS jurist to rule on the case she hadn’t heard because “abortion on demand must be saved!” (It sounds crazy, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has already thought about this.)

Needless to say, the usual caterwauling about court packing and breaking the filibuster to codify baby murder into federal law started almost immediately – almost as if someone was tipped off about what was going down so they could get that Astroturf opposition underway.

To me, though, overturning Roe v. Wade places the question where it belongs: at the state level. Unless they quickly traveled from somewhere out west or the Bible Belt South, it’s highly likely those aggrieved women who were already protesting at the Supreme Court last week will still have their cherished “right” to murder babies in the womb because their states (including both Delaware, passed in 2017, and Maryland, which rejected an effort to repeal a 1991 law expanding access to abortions in 1992) have short-sightedly dictated it be so. Not only that, there are certain entities who are already lining up to pay for women to travel to states that allow abortion to do so. (As an example, those who hail Elon Musk as a hero for purchasing Twitter may not like his company’s promise to do this.)

I will grant I didn’t always feel this way. If I lived in Maryland back in 1992 I probably would have been fine with rejecting the repeal proposal because back then I believed the lies the pro-choice side regularly puts out, particularly the bits about “unviable fetal mass” and “clump of cells.” It took a little bit of thought and realization that life had to begin somewhere, and there was a reason people have baby showers and gender reveal parties besides being a way to score free stuff off of other people: there was a life which had been created and the parents were eagerly anticipating it. And despite the fact I became more libertarian as I grew older, I departed from their orthodoxy that the right to choice of the mother trumps the right to life of the child, regardless of whether it could survive outside the womb or not. (Hence, I’m much more likely to support a pro-life Libertarian candidate than a pro-abortion one. That’s a party with a robust debate on the subject.)

As for the tired argument that pro-abortionists make about bringing a child into a poor family or abusive situation, or bringing a severely handicapped child into the world, I would counter that there is always someone out there who can give the child the proper care and loving home it deserves. There’s a reason states have safe haven laws. Moreover, the argument is always paired up with the charge that those who are against abortion on demand also don’t support government-paid health care, child care, and so forth. Your point? Those are the type of laws that should also be decided at a state or even local level – of course, the problem there is that states and localities don’t print money and have to balance their budgets – thus, they demand Uncle Sugar in D.C. pick up the tab.

I know I have people who disagree with me on this question, but the bottom line is: if their mother had made the “choice” to abort them, they probably wouldn’t be here to bitch about it. So they should thank God that their mom did not, and do what they can to make sure other babies have that same opportunity. We now see over the last 49 years what the false vow of “safe, legal, and rare” has led to.

Running for office: knowing the office

This is the second of two parts; the first part is here.

Once you know you’re ready to seek office and have the family’s blessing, the next step is knowing what you’re getting into insofar as the duties of the office you seek are concerned.

Qualifications

As I briefly alluded to in the previous post, there are certain offices which require a specialization that limits the available pool of people who are qualified. For example, a county attorney would have to be a member in good standing of the state’s legal bar or a county engineer would have to be a registered engineer in the state. In a small county or other locality that could limit the potential pool of those who can seek the office to a few dozen or fewer. By that same token, party offices which are on the ballot would require the aspirant to be a member of that political party.

Most offices, though, have relatively few qualifications aside from age or legal standing, and in those cases where cities or counties have home rule and qualifications aren’t included in state law, those are usually found within the locality’s charter or constitution. However, these basic qualifications don’t include a list of duties which are also required (or requested) for participation: everything from regular public meetings and work sessions of a local council to the office hours required for someone like a clerk of courts. In the case of specialized positions, a careful reading of the law is good but having a friendly supporter who knows the office (perhaps having served there or in a similar position) is an even better asset.

To be or not to be in a party?

Once that question is answered, the next regards party affiliation. There are some offices (mainly municipal) which have elections deemed to be non-partisan, while county, state, and federal offices are almost always sought via partisan primaries. While there is no ironclad requirement to have a party affiliation to run for those offices, the rules – unfair as they may be – make it much simpler to run as a member of either the Republican or Democratic parties. There are myriad regulations which will apply in different states, so this general guidance comes with the caveat emptor that there are always exceptions to the rule.

As I noted above, more often than not municipal elections are non-partisan; thus your voter registration will not come into play insofar as appearing on the ballot. (In some cases, though, parties will send out a list of their endorsed candidates to registered voters as well as hand them out at the polling place.) But it’s a funny thing about municipal elections: there are many, many cases where they are begging for candidates to the point where the remaining legislative body might be required to appoint a town councilman because no one ran for the post in an election. If you’re lucky enough to be the sole applicant for such a position, congratulations and enjoy your term in office.

In the more likely case there will be a contested election, local rules will dictate the requirements for a primary, which (if necessary) is normally held several weeks before the general election and winnows the field down as required. There are also filing deadlines and campaign finance rules to be aware of, which will be more generally outlined a little later.

Learning the ropes

But since most of those who are interested in public office seek a legislative position such as a school board or county council seat, or to become a member of a larger body such as a state House or Senate, one of the best things to do in preparation for the task ahead is to learn the position. At a basic level, this is fairly simple: for example, many local city council meetings are broadcast online or via their public access channel so you can see how the meetings are conducted. (The agenda should be made available as well.) In addition, a good guide to that sort of parliamentary procedure is a book called Robert’s Rules of Order, which is widely available. Most legislative bodies use that as a basic procedural manual, adapting to local customs as necessary. Work sessions and other non-public meetings, though, may be conducted in a less formal manner to permit greater discussion and presentation.

However, the more difficult task may be learning about the legal liabilities and exemptions public officials in a particular state or locality are entitled to. There are laws against malfeasance and misfeasance in office that are put there to guard against people using the public trust to enrich themselves or to conspire with others for those ends; however, there are also exemptions from certain types of liability based on being a public official.

One of the best ways to find out about all these things is to ask those who have been in office about them. Of course, there is some circumspection required in that your political opponent who is already in the office won’t be readily volunteering information about the job, but there are others who would be on your side to ask, too. Having served in the office, they would know the ins and outs of the task as well as how to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to keep things legal.

Asking of experts and knowing the laws are even more important if the position you seek is an executive one – not just being a mayor or governor, but also for positions like clerk of the court or a commissioner of agriculture. In these cases, there are oftentimes staffing issues to be dealt with, especially if you’re faced with a decision whether to maintain the employees who may have been part of the problem with how your opponent ran things or be the new broom that sweeps clean and perhaps has to reinvent the wheel until they’re up to speed. Sometimes the office full of political loyalists is the obstacle that needs to be eliminated to better serve the public.

The platform

For executive positions, it helps to have a platform you want to implement, something which should be simple in principle (perhaps three to four main points) but have ideas and talking points to back them up. Let’s say you wanted to run for mayor because you feel city services are lacking for the taxes you’re paying. (And who doesn’t?) In that case your platform may be one of providing more efficient city services while holding the line on taxes, and that’s a start. The next logical step would be to determine what you would do with the surplus: perhaps you would rebate taxpayers through lower taxes, increase the frequency of trash pickup, or you may want to acquire land for a new park. In other words, a good platform should have a short-term item or two as well as a vision for the longer term. Bear in mind, however, that your executive vision can only go as far as the legislative branch will allow because, in most cases, they approve the budget. This is where the selling of your platform to voters comes in handy because the legislative branch has the most important votes in terms of running in office as opposed to for office.

If you are a government skeptic like me, you generally believe that there’s healthy pruning to be made among all its branches. Unfortunately, not everyone is of that same mindset and indeed there are many worthy tasks a local or state government should take upon themselves to do. It’s why the slash-and-burn approach to government isn’t popular or proper, and why there’s always a spoonful of sugar required for people to take the required medicine.

And just as there’s a role for government to play, there’s a role for knowing the legal rules around running a campaign. This is why you need some helpers.

Depending on the office, the first volunteer you may need is a campaign treasurer. That person tracks the money going in and going out, which is a vital part of the process. In small campaigns like those where a treasurer is needed, that person could be your spouse or significant other, a co-worker, or a trusted friend, but in more major campaigns it’s most helpful to have an experienced hand at your side because there are significant legal and financial ramifications for that person selected as campaign treasurer if deadlines are missed or improper reporting or foul play is discovered. You’ll find that having a good treasurer is like gold, and oftentimes the same person is used by a candidate as long as he or she is in office because then there’s no need to reinvent the wheel of learning the ins and outs of campaign finance.

In my opinion, after a treasurer says yes there are two other volunteer positions that need to be filled right away. The first is the person for coordinating the scheduling, which is extremely important: even in local races there’s a need for having someone who tracks the places the candidate needs to be to gather support such as forums, festivals, and fairs, leads organization of door-to-door and/or phone bank efforts on the candidate’s behalf, and can be the contact person and gatekeeper for the campaign.

A close second, particularly in this day and age, is the social media and website coordinator. (On a local level it may be possible for one person to wear both hats, but once you get beyond the municipal level it’s really two tasks.) Again, in my humble opinion, early on that person needs to impress upon the campaign treasurer that money should be spent on a good-quality, professionally-produced website and not something that looks like an off-the-shelf DIY job. If the funds aren’t there, the next best thing would be a well-run, frequently-updated social media site (in fact, the candidate can secure the domain name that redirects there until a more formal website can be secured) – on the other hand, good social media may be all that’s necessary for small local races and it’s still vital for any race, whether local, state, or national.

There is one other piece of advice I want to give before I move on, and this is an important one in larger campaigns: be prepared to “smile and dial.” As I said in part one, something I never liked to do was ask people for anything and money is at the bottom of the list of things I would like to ask for. Unless you have the means to self-fund your campaign, though, it requires you to ask for money and in-kind donations, such as a venue to conduct your fundraiser.

**********

This is about as far as I got with the subject, and aside from just writing the last five paragraphs about the volunteers it was the start of what I thought could be a nice pamphlet-sized e-book guide with more expert advice.

So I need two things: input on whether this is something viable for me to pursue, and, if so, more help from experts in the world of organizing campaigns. Most of those folks are a bit busy right now, but there will be a slack time sometime we may be able to talk.

I just get so frustrated when people who I think would be excellent candidates fail because they have no idea what they are getting into – maybe they found out too late that the economics weren’t viable or the family really wasn’t that supportive once the other side began giving out grief.

But there are still ways for them to help the cause: just look at me. Yes, I’ve been on the ballot before and won – and I have lost, too. Losing hurt, and I took it personally. However, in my case, the way I had served in the previous time made me indispensible to the cause so they found a way to keep me onboard until a vacancy occurred and I could be reappointed. And a few of them still miss me as I’m no longer around, but I’m in the next phase of life now.

If I had asked myself these questions earlier on, would I have become involved? Probably. But the learning experience about the process (and my individual abilities and talents) also led me to know that I have my place in the fight as a journalist, advocate, and observer, not as an elected official. Perhaps someone who reads this, though, may have the aptitude needed to advance the cause of Constitutional government as an educator and public official, and that’s why I wrote this brief series and put it out there as a possibility for revised and extended remarks. Let’s hope I can find some of those folks.

Running for office: what you should know

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series I spoke about Saturday: the beginnings of a tome about how to run for office. Let me know what you think about the progress so far.

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Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

We may think elections are corrupt, particularly in the wake of the controversial 2020 balloting. Yet on the day after that fateful election, thousands of people woke up determined to change things, and the way they decided to make the corrections was to run for office.

There’s only one big problem with that: while running for office seems relatively easy – hey, I just fill out a little paperwork and get my name on the ballot, right? – the hard truth is that there is a process involved. This guide was intended to make the complex understandable and break the daunting task of electoral success down into easier steps, with the goal of winning elective office so you can more easily work to make needed changes.

It should be noted up front, however, that I’m writing this from the perspective of a conservative Christian who is most interested in getting like-minded people into local and state offices. While this guide could, in theory, be used as a how-to book for running for President, be advised that there were over 1,100 people who ran for that office in 2020 and you heard about only two or three of them who had national party backing, tons of press coverage, and millions upon millions of dollars to work with. If you already have all these qualifications I don’t believe you will need anything costing less than what your high-dollar consultant would charge for a nanosecond of his time.

As for the rest of you who wish to be service-minded citizen legislators and have no desire to make politics your sole purpose in life, read on, but bear this in mind: your desire to be a public servant doesn’t necessarily need to be only on the elective front. The world also needs volunteers to serve on the various boards, agencies, and other entities which affect people’s lives in the community. Oftentimes those who secure these unpaid positions, such as members of the zoning committee, library board, or other community service posts, parlay their experiences there into elective office by making those connections and friendships that ease the transition into elective politics. That’s a little bit of free advice for you (and also a good start to knowing yourself and knowing how to campaign, as you will find out.)

Another option is to make yourself indispensable to someone seeking office themselves. As you will eventually read, campaigns need volunteers. Sometimes those volunteers become paid staff and, every so often, become the successor candidate in his or her own right once the officeholder moves up or moves on. It’s certainly a good way to learn the ropes and can be a lot of fun if you’re working with the right candidate and the right people.

Since there’s so much to know about the process, I broke it into five “knows,” some of which I’ll delve into in this post and the next one, with others that may come as future writings of mine:

  • Know yourself. This is the necessary first step before anything else can be accomplished.
  • Know the office. Not just the procedures for being elected to it, but the duties and powers that are implicit in the position for which you are running.
  • Know the rules. Most of this will have to do with party politics and campaign finance, but there are other coordination issues which can trip up first-time candidates as well.
  • Know how to campaign – time and money. A successful campaign requires good time management skills since you can only be in one place at a time. It also requires enough funding to make building name recognition more successful in the places where you can’t be.
  • Know how to win. When you are successful, do so with grace and humility. Be a leader and an example for others to follow.

Remember first that you don’t have to do this all by yourself; in fact, in most places you can’t go it alone because you need assistants just to be legally able to run.

My goal in writing this is to help create a crop of citizens who will devote a period of time in their life to bettering their community through the public service of political office.

Know yourself: Are you up for the challenge?

Since it’s most likely you’ve made the effort in reading this with the goal of running for and winning office, the first thing you should consider is what you want to accomplish by being there. You should really have a clear set of goals or governmental philosophy in mind, particularly if you’re running for an executive office. There you will certainly run into those whose desires are the opposite of yours: for example, you may be all in favor of reasonable growth and development in your area but others you’ll be working with may want all new development to come to a screeching halt – so it helps to be an eloquent spokesperson for your point of view. It’s also a good time to decide whether you will run under a party banner or not, although generally municipal races are non-partisan. (In most states, though, anyone who has access to voter registration records can likely find out your affiliation and voting pattern.) Regarding those party procedures, we’ll get to that a little bit later.

The next thing to weigh on that balance is your personality type. If you’re an introvert who doesn’t like to deal with people, this would not be the career (or even term or two in office) for you. Obviously you’ll have to put yourself out before the public on the campaign trail in order to earn their trust and their vote, and that’s not an easy thing to do for a person who likes to keep their private lives to themselves – and that’s even if you don’t have skeletons in your closet, a point I will get to shortly. Temperament is also key: voters don’t tend to look kindly on people who are known for flying off the handle and being verbally abusive. As you read on, you’ll find that secrets are hard to keep when you seek to become a public official.

Moreover, once you get into office the main thing constituents will expect for you is some sort of service and to remain active in the community. As their representative in an elected body or head of government, your personal “to-do” list becomes subordinate to the needs and desires of those who won’t necessarily choose those times convenient to you to express their opinions and requests. Elective office is certainly different than a 9-to-5, 40 hour per week job.

And speaking of job, another factor on your personal scale would be your financial situation. While we often hear of politicians who get fabulously wealthy after attaining high office, I’m hoping those of you reading this are in it for the right reasons and not as a get-rich-eventually scheme.

However, it’s a fact that most people who work for a living would probably have to take a pay cut to take a job as an elected official – oftentimes, it’s a full-time job that pays like a part-time one. For example, the job of County Executive of a county near my home – a county of 100,000 people which has a city of 35,000 as its seat and is a regional hub for a metro area twice that size – will have an annual salary of $107,000, beginning with the next term. (As a private-sector comparison, that salary is about what the average construction manager would expect to make.) In the brief history of the position, the county has elected two executives, one being a longtime government employee and the other a self-employed businessman. Someone with the type of experience required may see the salary as insufficient for their needs, and the same holds true for representative positions. On the other hand, offices where this may be less of a problem are more specialized positions such as county attorney, sheriff, engineer, or insurance commissioner. Those positions may pay more commensurate to the required education and experience.

Rehashing your past

Next on the consideration list is a sad fact of life: the advent of social media and easily accessible public records means it’s more likely any misstatements or mistakes in your past will be dredged up. Any off-color joke you passed along because you thought it was funny, fight you had with a neighbor where the police were called, nasty divorce, or history of drug use (as in “I did not inhale”) will surely find its way into a campaign, sooner or later. Whether it’s a disqualifying factor really depends on the offense, the voter, and the position being sought.

In 2020, there were two Republican candidates in my state of Delaware who ran for federal office despite serious mistakes they had made in their lives that landed them in prison. While Matthew Morris could not overcome this and other factors in losing his U.S. House primary, U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke made opioid addiction a key part of her platform. Once incarcerated as an addict and convicted drug runner, Lauren got herself clean, served her sentence, and later ran a religious-based organization focusing on teens who were disadvantaged. More importantly for this narrative, she was up front about the issues she had, choosing not to try and hide them. While she was unsuccessful running against an incumbent in a heavily Democrat state, she brought issues to the forefront which may have been ignored with a more conventional candidate.

As I see it, to be a public servant honesty is the best policy. There are always people who envy you, covet what you have, and don’t want you to succeed. Like crabs pulling the one which is managing to escape back into the cage, their job seems to be that of preventing others to be successful.

Getting buy-in

Once you have convinced yourself that you’re emotionally able to run for and succeed in office, and you verify your financial situation is such that you can handle the job with or without sacrifices, the next important step is securing the blessing of your family. Without them in your corner, you may gain office but lose everything you love – and that’s no way to live.

It’s obviously easier for a single person to run for office, but many of those who have the most desirable traits for officeholders are also the ones who have settled down in life and begun a family. If that’s your situation, then getting the buy-in from the wife and kids is the logical next step. They have to be made aware of the proverbial anal exam your life will undergo and prepare themselves for it – even the most popular person in town has a few enemies with an axe to grind and those in the political opposition who don’t mind playing dirty to keep the other side down. This is particularly an issue when a candidate has school-age children; truthfully family concerns are the biggest hurdle against “normal” people running for office. It may not be the main thing for an aspirant for a local position, but once you get into the realm of state legislator and higher office, security of loved ones becomes a little bit of a concern.

Finally – and this is somewhat related to the personality aspects I began this post with – one running for office needs to ask whether he or she can complete the sale to a voter. In the end, elections are about you convincing the majority of the electorate that you are the proper person to address their concerns, provide constituent service when required, and remain a vital part of the community despite having other duties. No candidate is going to get 100 percent of the vote in a contested election, but the idea is to have the most votes of anyone running in cases where there’s no Electoral College to contend with.

In the next part, we’ll look at knowing the office.

The problem with being just opposition

Over the last few days I’ve gotten very frustrated with the system, so rather than get mad I think I’m going to not let good writing go to waste. More on that in a few paragraphs, but allow me the license to tell you a few reasons why I’m in such a way these days.

Here in my Laurel School District, we have an election for the one seat available on the school board this year. The two candidates are a lady who’s seeking her third term on the board and a gentleman who I’m guessing is a political newcomer, and very possibly may have ideas that can shake up the status quo his opponent would presumably maintain considering she’s the president of the board and seeking yet another five years running our public schools.

The interesting thing, though, is that Linda Hitchens, the lady in question, has run unopposed her first two times through in 2012 and 2017; thus, there was no actual election those years. So one would think that she would be easier to contend with because she’s never run a real campaign to keep her seat – once the filing deadline in her previous two tries passed with no opponent, the seat was hers by acclamation. However, she’s amassed the campaign money to pepper the district with signs in front of houses on the east end of the district near where she lives (and by the dentist office I went to Friday – no cavities!) There’s not much on my more rural end of the district, though.

So it’s very frustrating to me that, as a first-time candidate who has no name recognition in the district, that Joe Kelley – insofar as a search of the dreadfully inefficient Delaware state campaign finance website has shown – doesn’t even have a campaign finance account set up.

(As an aside, I can’t figure out why Delaware’s campaign finance system is so difficult while Maryland’s is very straightforward, when they use the same platform.)

Even more so, when Joe has the free opportunity to expound on his platform thanks to the Delaware Independent website, he doesn’t respond. Is he going to do the same to the Laurel Star newspaper if they come calling? I may not like the status quo – and you can’t get much more status quo than the board president – but if I’m not presented with a good alternative why should I even bother to vote? At that point, just having the votes of the people with signs is massive overkill for Hitchens, since I bet I saw 5o of them in driving around.

And then we have the case of one Christopher Hill, who is supposedly running for Congress as a Republican in the same primary as perennial candidate Lee Murphy. The only reason I knew this, though, was because I stumbled across Hill’s FEC filing on their website doing research for my election sidebar, which led me to find his own campaign website that I link to. But even the state Republican Party refers to him as “Chris Hall.” (Maybe they’ll change it after they read this.)

This came to mind because of a bizarre incident. A couple weeks back I received a text that went like this: “Hi Mike, Christopher Hill here. If you have a chance, give me a call about the race. (phone number.)”

This came on a late Sunday afternoon; in fact, I was at a Shorebirds game. So I couldn’t get back to him that evening; as it turned out it took a few days. But once I got back to Christopher via text I realized it was probably a case of mistaken identity since he said, “all I need is Smith’s cell number,” which I don’t know. So he apologized. (Then again, I should ask how he got my cell number.)

But if you look at Hill’s efforts thus far, you find a off-the-shelf Wix website he occasionally updates but no social media. If he thinks he’s going to beat Lee Murphy (let alone knock off LBR in November) with a campaign run from a website, well, life doesn’t work that way. Perhaps Hill believes he can make the rounds of various festivals and fairs this summer, such as the Delaware State Fair, but the groundwork should have been laid several months ago.

Now I don’t want to sound overly critical, but I believe there are a number of people who get into politics rashly. For example, right now at the top of Hill’s website in something like 72-point font is “Day 1: Drafting an article of impeachment against Biden for allowing the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to be invaded by illegal aliens.” A lot of people may agree – and, let me tell you, it’s more than those three states thanks to Joe Biden’s overnight air shuttle service – but that accounts for one day. And did he have to make this into a rant at the front of your campaign website? Is this a blog or a campaign he’s running?

In the case of Joe Kelley and our local school board, he filed for the job first but had to know that Linda would be running again. Did he plan for that likely occurrence?

Obviously, there are cases where circumstances get in the way of a campaign but there are too many times where I see people with good ideas about government crushed down by a system stacked against them. But then again, there are rules out there that all sides have to contend with so the playing field becomes more level. Somewhere in the past, all those people in the system were once neophyte candidates themselves but they figured out how to get into the clique. And that leads me to the idea of good writing not going to waste.

This was sort of a rash decision somewhat in the vein of running for office, but then again I’ve been there and done that several times in Ohio and Maryland. And if I cared to right here, I could tell you in several paragraphs about the exhaustive differences between those two situations which led me to essentially the same party office, but on a varying scale.

Long story short: after the 2020 election I hatched an idea that for awhile was going to be another book, and could yet end up being so after all once I blow the dust off of it.

I had set up five “how-to” main points, and had written out in draft form an introduction and lead-ins to a couple of these chapters. The reason I stopped was because I was in a quardry whether to write it straight up, or make it sort of a narrative that followed Joe Sixpack on his race to become mayor of his town – or did that sound too hokey? But the burning passion faded as other things took precedence so I haven’t worked on this project since the tail end of 2020.

Honestly I don’t know if this project will ever become a book, but in seeing how some of these nascent local campaigns are going I think it’s time to share what little expertise and observation I have and put up some of these ideas as blog posts. If I get enough of a positive reaction and more expert input – which was also part of the plan, but I hate asking for anything – maybe I can go forward with the project after all. (It’s not just 5:00 somewhere, there’s also an election somewhere.) Perhaps you can think of the next two to three blog posts as a lengthy book proposal, but over the next few days I’ll do some editing and drop these on you as a series of posts and see what reaction I get.

There was a reason I started writing all that back at the end of 2020, and I have to remember that everything occurs in the Lord’s time, doesn’t it?

Update 4/24: I did find a questionnaire Kelley filled out, from the League of Women Voters, so now I have a little bit of an idea where he stands. Most of my point still remains, though.

Things aren’t always what they seem

I haven’t been paying nearly as much attention to Maryland politics the last few years but every so often I find something rather intriguing. In this case, it’s not too many miles away in Dorchester County.

I saw that over the weekend their county Republicans had their Lincoln Day Dinner. Initially I learned this thanks to a social media post by a locally noted political sign critic but then it went further when I noticed a promoted post on that same social media outlet that led to this blog post.

Apparently we are still far enough away from the primary that Republicans are coming to the Eastern Shore to solicit votes, and in this case the Dorchester LDD featured the two leading contenders for their gubernatorial nomination: Delegate Daniel Cox and onetime Delegate and Hogan administration official Kelly Schulz. In this particular retelling of events it was obvious that the writer was heavily favoring the Cox campaign, which is fine. What’s most interesting, though, is that the contact address for the Shore Times blog where the article came from is the exact same one used by Marc Schifanelli for his school board campaign in Queen Anne’s County. Of course, students of Maryland politics know that Marc’s wife Gordana is Cox’s running mate. So we’re not exactly being stealth here, and I will give credit for pointing that out in due time.

On the other side of the equation – and not being too stealth themselves – is The Duckpin, a site which seems to spend its time tearing down Cox, who they swear up and down isn’t much of a threat on par with the other two no-names in the race. Yet somehow Dan lives rent-free in their heads as they keep writing about him instead of promoting their endorsed choice in Schulz. (Apparently Brian Griffiths wanted to write about more than politics, so Red Maryland was put to bed and The Duckpin was born. He finally figured out what I knew over 16 years ago.)

Anyway, I was reading a piece on the race that made the claim about the link and indeed it’s true. So give the man his credit. But what’s the big deal?

Here’s the problem with being a Republican and running for governor in Maryland: you have to survive a GOP primary.

In 2010, Larry Hogan deferred to Bob Ehrlich, who then proceeded to lose even worse to Martin O’Malley than he did the first time. You may recall there was this phenomenon going around the country back then called the TEA Party…well, they liked this heretofore unknown businessman named Brian Murphy in the gubernatorial primary and enough of them tuned out the overly moderate Ehrlich once Murphy was dispatched back to anonymity to doom Bob to defeat in the general.

In 2014, there was an open seat and the Democrats decided to promote their bland, personality-free LG Anthony Brown to governor. Larry Hogan had spent the four years building up a grassroots group called Change Maryland and he parlayed that into securing the nomination then winning in November – thanks to a lot of the people who abandoned Ehrlich because he wasn’t conservative enough for them. This despite the fact Hogan’s website was about content-free and you couldn’t nail down what he was actually for, just what he was against based on Change Maryland.

Fooled you once… the next time in 2o18 Hogan only won because the Democrats went extreme left with their choice for governor; otherwise, the election was a disaster for Republicans on the order of 2006. (Had he run in 2018 instead of this cycle, we would be commenting on the prospects of Governor Franchot’s re-election. Or perhaps Governor Delaney’s.)

So here’s the problem with Kelly Schulz. In looking her up in the archives of the monoblogue Accountability Project, I had forgotten that she was relatively conservative by my standards – not enough to be a consistent Legislative All-Star (she was just one time in eight years I covered her) but she had an 85 average and that’s very good for a Maryland politician. (With an average that high, I would be hailing her as a savior in Delaware.)

But what I didn’t see when she went into the Executive Branch was a great deal of conservative innovation. It’s good that her “proudest accomplishment (at DLLR) was guiding Maryland’s youth apprenticeship program,” but I would have rather seen efforts to wrest the state from the grip of its unions by edging it toward right-to-work status or taking a hacksaw to regulations like Donald Trump did at a federal level. And the question I have: is this the record of a conservative?

Member, Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019; Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission, 2019; Small Business Resources and Data Collection Work Group, 2019; Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, 2019-20; P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland, 2019-21. Board of Directors, Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture, 2019-22; Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Aviation Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Bainbridge Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Coast Smart Council, 2019-22; Correctional Education Council, 2019-22; Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays, 2019-22; Maryland Cybersecurity Council, 2019-22; Interagency Disabilities Board, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Commission, 2019-22; Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund Authority, 2019-22; Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, 2019-22; Interagency Food Desert Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Green Purchasing Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, 2019-22; State Highway Access Valuation Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, 2019-22; Maryland Manufacturing Advisory Board, 2019-22; Council on Open Data, 2019-22; Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force, 2019-22; Maryland Port Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Public-Private Partnership Marketing Corporation, 2019- (chair, 2019). Executive Board, Regional Additive Manufacturing Partnership of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, 2019-22; Renewable Fuels Incentive Board, 2019-22; Rural Maryland Council, 2019-22; Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Technology Development Corporation, 2019-22. Board of Regents, University System of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Workforce Development Board, 2019-22; Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019-22.

Member, COVID-19 Small Business Task Force, Baltimore City, 2020; Task Force on the Economic Future of Western Maryland, 2020-22; Maryland Food System Resiliency Council, 2021-22; Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission, 2021-22; Maryland Semiquincentennial Commission, 2021-22; Work Group to Study the Transformation of Manufacturing in Maryland’s Emerging Digital Economy, 2021-22.

Maryland Manual online, accessed March 22, 2022.

Granted, I’m sure most of these are ex officio positions she gathered as the Secretary, but no one said she had to accept a position on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities or the Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council. Her acceptance to me equates with support.

That’s not to say I’m the biggest fan of Daniel Cox, who has styled himself as something of a Trump fanboy. But if you drive around on the back roads of Dorchester County that I frequent on a regular basis on the way to my in-laws’ house, you see a lot of Trump paraphrenalia and a lot of Cox for Governor signs. (Not many people go through Eldorado or Rhodesdale, but I do.) It’s a slice of the electorate that probably won’t turn out for someone endorsed by Larry Hogan because they can’t stand what he’s become. While many were pushed over the edge by the bad blood between Larry Hogan and Donald Trump, they were placed at the precipice like I was after our side was quickly sold out by Hogan to the environmentalists who saddled farmers with onerous phosphorus regulations and later saw Larry kill a golden opportunity for economic growth with an ill-advised fracking ban. So Hogan’s support is electoral poison in those quarters.

Certainly there will be those who say that their staying home and not backing Kelly Schulz will ensure Democratic victory in November. But then again, the same prediction of GOP doom holds true if Cox wins so why not stand up for what you believe?

And people wonder why some of us are so fed up with the system?

Ode, revisited

Everyone has a different way to grieve. I found it was cathartic to write about my brother LJ when he passed eleven years ago, so perhaps my jumbled thoughts will be best served by remembering my dad Joe here in this forum.

There are a number of personality (and other) traits I inherited from my father. I have my whole slew of dad-isms, such as “whadda ya think this is? Giveaway day?” He and I shared the same svelte figure (probably because he gave me his Pepsi habit), enjoyment of bowling and Polack food, and ambition to be a homebody. Dad was not one to take a whole week’s vacation, as he was ready to head home after four days max. I feel the same way: the only saving grace on the Florida trip was that we broke it into several stops, my mom and dad being second-to-last for 2 1/2 days.

Growing up, my mom and dad would be up at 5:30 in the morning so he could go to work fixing all that went wrong with the machinery at a concrete block plant. (Mom made breakfast for him, then after he left she had to help LJ and I get ready for the bus at 7:10, with Tom coming a little later until he got to middle school.) The next time we saw Dad, he was grubby and ready for dinner at 5:00. After dinner it was time to watch TV for a couple hours before he went to bed, although in the summer that was the time he would go out and cut the grass – all five acres of it, with a little lawn tractor. So this was a three or four evening a week chore, which my dad didn’t mind too much since he was alone with a good cigar to smoke.

(By the way: one thing I did NOT get from my dad was his mechanical aptitude. That stopped at my late brother LJ. Why do you think I work at my end of the building business?)

But the dad I grew up with wasn’t the dad I last saw back in October – dementia made sure of that. Once or twice in the couple days we spent there we got glimpses of what my dad was, like when he sat in for a game of cards and the memory of how to play that game came back to him, but much of the time he was a cantankerous old man trapped in his wheelchair, reduced to living out his days rolling between the house and his post out in the shade of the carport where he went out to get his “smoke.” He needed help to go to the bathroom, which I’m sure embarrassed him to no end. My dad was always a bit fussy but had an off-kilter sense of humor – imagine losing the humor part and that was my dad the last time I saw him. One of those bathroom trips was the one and only time I ever heard a cuss word from him in my life – and trust me, the three of us boys gave him a lot of opportunities.

So pardon me if I’d rather remember the family provider and role model for being the man I am. He was married to my mom for over 61 years, and she’s devastated by the loss, even though we knew it was coming. When we said goodbye to my dad in October, I knew it was really goodbye for us. But my mom was there until the bitter end, when home hospice care finally came in on his last day or so. And typical of my dad he wanted no fuss about his passing, as he requested to my mom that no service be held.

If there’s one blessing in my life (besides my wife) it’s the fact my parents lived to a ripe old age – ironically my paternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was seven, so longevity wasn’t on my dad’s side. He was the last of six Swartz children to survive, beating my Uncle Ronnie by about a year. (I know my Uncle Butch went first when I was a teenager, but I forget the order that my aunts Lucy, Rita, and Jane went in.) Making it to the age of 86 is pretty good for the family.

Despite the fact he never touched a computer, that’s where I’m going to remember my dad, Joseph Swartz. He lived a good life.

Book review: Rigged – How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections, by Mollie Hemingway

The latest bestseller from Mollie
Hemingway found its way to me.

Unlike my last book review, I decided to use some of those Amazon dollars I had accrued over the years from various exploits on something useful and informative. Mollie Hemingway’s newest contribution to the discourse scores on both counts, and although I didn’t find a whole lot of new information to me in her book it’s a great one-stop shop in determining how the 2020 election (and, by some extension, the Trump presidency) careened off the rails.

Notice I say I didn’t find a whole lot of new information, and the reason I said that is because I keep an ear to the ground with news from a number of sources I trust to give me the straight skinny. On that count Hemingway is with me as I counted over 1,200 footnotes, and even though many are repeats of the same information source I can’t fault the amount of research on this one.

Mollie takes her time laying out the case, working her way through a number of events that began even before the moment that Donald Trump took office. By the way, I have to ask: have you ever noticed that an election won by a Republican is seldom considered legitimate in the eyes of the Left? Ever since Watergate, there’s almost always been some sort of scandal associated with a GOP victory – accusations of Ronald Reagan sending George H.W. Bush over on an SR-71 spy plane to delay the release of the Iranian hostages until after the 1980 election, the whole Bush v. Gore controversy in 2000, the Diebold scandal in Ohio from 2004, and Russia Russia Russia in 2016. (We got a break for a few years when Reagan was re-elected in enough of a landslide to preclude those questions and Bush followed on his coattails.) Hemingway begins her book talking about the Russia issue but settles in with a look at how election laws were changed in 2020 thanks to the Wuhan flu.

One thing I really liked about Rigged was the setup and layout, as each separate argument group gets its own chapter that’s well-covered. Because of that, it’s not perfectly sequential, but it hits on all the keynotes a reader needs to understand to figure out why the 2020 election went so terribly wrong for Trump. We find out early on, for example, that Democrats were terrified about a second Trump term because the economy was so strong, but got the stroke of luck they needed when COVID-19 (a.k.a. the CCP virus) struck in late 2019 and began to truly affect our nation in the spring of 2020. At the end of the 2020 State of the Union address, with the nation at maximum, triumphant Trump, and where the second chapter comes to an end, Hemingway wrote:

Trump’s opponents would need a miracle to stop him. He was at the peak of his powers and was leading the country to new heights. But Democrats would soon get their lucky break when news of a novel coronavirus reached American shores. It was a crisis they wouldn’t let go to waste.

“Rigged”, p. 60.

Mollie details how things went spiraling downward from there: the rapid spread of COVID and the summer of rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s untimely death put Trump on the defensive, and as the economy tanked thanks to overly restrictive CCP virus mandates it suddenly became virtuous in the eyes of the media to run a campaign from a basement like Joe Biden’s was. She adds in full chapters describing the bizarre influence of “fake news” and, more importantly, the withholding of vital information from the voting public during the Hunter Biden influence scandal. Perhaps the “10 percent for the big guy” was the allotted share from “the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization” Biden had – no, wait, that voter fraud organization was bought and paid for by “Zuck bucks,” to which Hemingway also devotes a chapter.

The part where I learned the most was the latter part of the book, which briefly detailed briefly Democrat efforts to clear the field for Joe Biden in certain states – in particular, their shameful effort in Wisconsin to not only successfully kick the Green Party off the ballot, but denying write-in candidate Kanye West a spot because he was fourteen seconds late in having his paperwork accepted – the building was locked due to COVID restrictions and a circuit court ruled against West. (Under normal circumstances, his campaign’s paperwork would have easily made the deadline.) As Hemingway points out, no such efforts were made against the Libertarian Party, whose voters tend to be more right-leaning – and whose Presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, received more votes in Wisconsin than Biden’s victory margin there. (Not to say the Republicans aren’t guilty of that at times, too – just ask the Ohio Libertarian Party.)

Overall, Mollie does a fantastic job detailing the voting issues in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. And if that weren’t enough, we are exposed to the folly that was Donald Trump’s post-election campaign for justice – already a long shot thanks to a system corrupted by the Democrats, Hemingway blamed Rudy Giuliani for many of the legal team’s problems.

Giuliani appeared more interested in creating a public relations spectacle than mounting a credible legal challenge. As his questionable legal strategy faltered, many of the big law firms that had signed onto the Trump campaign’s legal effort didn’t quit so much as quietly back away.

“Rigged”, p. 293.

If one were to consider Donald Trump’s biggest mistakes, number one would have been giving Anthony Fauci the time of day. But arguably a close second was entrusting his legal challenge to the 2020 election to Rudy Giuliani, who seemed to be simply the ringmaster of a circus that also included grifters like Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, whose kraken we still await. I don’t think she meant the Seattle hockey team, did she?

As Hemingway writes to conclude the book, in its final chapter, “Consent of the Losers”:

A growing number of Americans are outraged by the way the left seizes and deploys power. They are sick of the lies, manipulation, and distortion that a corrupt ruling class spins on a regular basis. Those courageous citizens, not the decaying establishment, will determine the fate of our nation. Their efforts will ensure that we pass on our beloved republic to future generations.

In the fights to come, those men and women will have the best weapon – truth – on their side. The only question is whether their leaders will have the courage to use it.

“Rigged”, p. 332.

Like I’m sure she did, I got that bile and anger in the back of my throat simply from retyping the sentence for the quote. It’s not so much that I was a Trump fan, but just the way the history we know of shook out showed that there are people who almost literally take the childhood taunt, “who died and made you king?” as a challenge. They don’t need no stinking laws passed by a legislature to seize power; they’ll just executive order it and dare a court to stop them – too often the courts don’t. (And yes, I’m looking at you, Governor Carnage.)

Rigged is not going to make you happier, unless you’re a power-hungry narcissist. I just hope it adds some steel to the spines because come November we may need it. This one was well worth the investment and read.

Book review: Sheriff Mike Lewis – Constitutional. Uncanceled. by Haven Simmons

This book came out last month, and it’s an intriguing one.
Cover image via Amazon.

One would think I don’t read books anymore, and to be honest I had no idea it had been over a half-decade since I reviewed one here on monoblogue. However, I believed this would be an interesting tome with which to renew the tradition, given the local connection of both subject and author, a retired communication professor from Salisbury University.

Moreover, I thought I could shine a unique light on the book as both a published author myself – someone who knows what it’s like to put together a book requiring hours of research and attempting to make it palatable to a reader who wishes to know more about the subject – and as a former constituent and eventual supporter of the title subject. There were quite a few names familiar to me dropped within the book; as one would imagine that drove a lot of my interest in reading a volume that my wife actually purchased for her enjoyment. (It’s why I’m waiting a week or so to put out this review so as not to give her any spoilers.)

Mike Lewis, however, was not just my sheriff when I lived in Wicomico County before crossing over to Delaware two-plus years ago. Arguably the national platform for drug interdiction and Second Amendment support he’s created via his frequent media appearances make Lewis the third-most recognizable figure of his generation with a Salisbury-area background, trailing only Terminator series actress Linda Hamilton and longtime Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel.

Furthermore, not only are Lewis and I almost perfect contemporaries in age and upbringing as we were both born in the same year and have at least some (in my case) amount of rural background, there’s always been that political aspect surrounding him – once he became a household word in Wicomico during his first campaign in 2006, swamping a four-person GOP primary field with 59.7% of the vote then winning handily that November, Mike got to a point where supporters would have jumped at the chance to help elect him to any higher office he wanted. One interesting tidbit I found in SMLCU is that he once promised his wife he would only serve two terms as Sheriff, but instead filed for a fifth last year. Should he be re-elected in 2022, though, he would match his immediate predecessor, the late Sheriff Hunter Nelms, with five electoral victories. Coming back for a sixth term in 2026 would give Lewis the opportunity to serve even longer than Nelms’s 22 years on the job. (An old-school conservative Democrat, Hunter was appointed in 1984 to finish an unexpired term and served through the 2006 election, where he opted not to seek another term.)

In an epilogue describing his book, Simmons recounts the three themes he was attempting to address: first, Lewis’s ambitions and accomplishments, second, those things that the policing profession entails, and lastly, “the big picture of government and the greater society that places law enforcement in a crucial, albeit vulnerable and often underappreciated position.” Out of the three, the book scores well on the first and last parts, but becomes a bit of a drag on the second portion, much of which comes out as a laundry list of offenses that takes up the book’s second, lengthy chapter – 66 pages out of a book that’s 177 pages, excluding epilogue, acknowledgements, end notes, and photos. (That extra material brings the book to 221 pages overall.)

The problem with that second chapter is that dozens of arrests are detailed, including one I really didn’t need a reminder of – the embarrassing Julie Brewington DUI incident from 2018. (I served with Brewington, a TEA Party leader in Wicomico, for my final two years on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.) This list could have been honed down to perhaps a couple dozen of the biggest ones, and the final part of the chapter that mainly deals with incidents in the local schools and at Salisbury University should have been a standalone chapter, particularly as the book then transitions into the seminal case that has occurred under Lewis’s watch: the Sarah Foxwell murder case from Christmas 2009. (One departure from the book: while Lewis talks about tying yellow ribbons to mailboxes to denote yards that had been searched by property owners, I distinctly recall they were asking for red shirts or rags because I remember tying one of my old red shirts to a wagon wheel we kept at the end of the driveway where we then lived in the Foxwell search area so they knew we had checked our property. Perhaps – surprisingly – Mike’s memory is less clear than mine on that one, or maybe it was an either/or situation since most houses don’t have yellow ribbon on hand.)

However, once that slog of a second chapter is complete, the book moves along at a nice pace through the time period and events that made Lewis a household name among county sheriffs nationwide, among them the Foxwell case, assisting at the Baltimore riots in 2015 and becoming an impromptu spokesman for the police gathered there, and Mike’s advocacy for the Second Amendment. We also get a glimpse of then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign stop in nearby Berlin and the fact that Lewis initially backed Marco Rubio in the race thanks to a previous encounter with him on a drug interdiction fact-finding mission to South America.

SMLCU also gets its share of ink from a couple local politicians, most notably former Wicomico State’s Attorney turned Circuit Court Judge Matt Maciarello and State Senator Mary Beth Carozza, who gushed that, “Mike Lewis was and is the real deal when it comes to defining a top cop – a leader through and through, who day in and day out, leads by example.” While Wicomico County has strong leadership in that regard, it should be pointed out that there was a modest write-in campaign against him in 2018 that netted perhaps 7% of the vote – most likely from malcontents in the local “defund the police” crowd who don’t like Lewis’s aggressive stance toward crimefighting. I have news for them: it’s clear from this book that he doesn’t like them, either.

Unfortunately, all books have a cutoff date for production and printing, so one loose end that would have been worth following up and asking more about was the effort by Lewis to declare Wicomico County a Second Amendment preservation county last year. It ends with a vow to reintroduce the legislation this year, but the question is whether the county would take up something like that in an election year. There were a lot of disappointed people when Lewis backed away from the bill, which many believe is necessary as a counterweight to the overbearing government in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. The book quotes former Delegate Don Dwyer as claiming, “The role of the sheriff is to be an interposer between the law and the citizen.” Added Dwyer, “Sheriffs do have the power to nullify or ignore a law if it is unconstitutional.” Pointed out several times in the book is the fact the sheriff (as opposed to a police chief) is an elected official, thus the public trust is placed upon the officeholder with the accountability of election always in the background.

In sum, a tidier book may have gotten the point across with more brevity, but overall this is an interesting look at a law enforcement officer who has perhaps gone out of his way to have an outsized influence on people both inside and outside his chosen profession. I recall when Mike was first running that I worried about his outside interests:

Lewis is a wonderful teacher. I sat in last month’s WCRC meeting and was fascinated by Mike’s presentation. I’m not a cop but I learned a lot about traffic stops and drug interdiction from just 20 or 30 minutes listening to him speak. Had Hunter Nelms decided to run for another term, I’m certain Mike Lewis would be starting a second career traveling the country and even internationally as a teacher and expert on drug interdiction. It almost seems like a waste having him as a county sheriff when he could do a great job and touch many more people with a career path like he was contemplating.

For Wicomico County Sheriff,” August 20, 2006.

As it turns out, he was more of a multitasker than I gave him credit for – since I endorsed his chief Republican opponent for the primary before backing Lewis in the general – and the book overcomes its flaws to make most of those points.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I am (indirectly) quoted in this book as “a blogger.” Simmons quoted a blog post I did in 2013 at the Second Amendment townhall meeting held by Lewis, which is also credited in the end notes. I guess, thanks to this review, Haven now gets unsolicited advice for a second edition of this book should one come about.

The bite of inflation

Let’s begin 2022 by talking about an issue that has bullied its way into our national consciousness in the past year, inflation. All of us are paying more for various items, but in my case it’s measured with a quirky but useful yardstick.

I have a Friday lunch routine that began a couple years ago. In my “real” job I work four nine-hour days Monday to Thursday and have a four-hour Friday, meaning my weekend generally begins at lunchtime on Friday. So to start my weekend I go to Chick-Fil-A and order the same thing each week: a spicy deluxe meal with a side salad in lieu of the fries and a diet Dr. Pepper. (In and of itself, that’s a routine because it’s about the only time I drink Dr. Pepper. The one thing I don’t like about Chick-Fil-A is that they pour Coke products and I’m a Pepsi guy from way back.)

Because I always get the same thing, I know exactly how much it will cost before they ring it up. Thus, I was surprised a few weeks back when the number increased for the second time this year – sure enough, a look at my old bank statements confirmed this. Back in April that combo set me back $8.93, and over the summer it went up to $9.29, which was the number I was expecting. Instead, they told me it was $9.89!

Doing some hasty public school math with my phone’s calculator, the first increase was 4.03% while the second was 6.46%. Combined, in the space of about six or seven months, the price for my meal went up 10.75% – that’s pretty steep, because I don’t recall my income going up 10.75%. (I did get a raise in 2021, but not that much.)

Of course, there are costs involved, and the restaurant wants to stay profitable. So the increase has to be passed along to the consumer somehow, and since CFA hasn’t been cutting corners on the food they’re forced to charge more for it.

First and foremost, the smiling lady behind the Chick-Fil-A counter almost certainly has a higher wage now than she did when the year began, as do all her behind-the-scenes helpers. More importantly, the cost of the raw materials have gone up as chicken isn’t so cheap anymore, nor is produce or bread for the bun. It costs more to power all the food service equipment required to bring my sandwich and salad to my waiting hands.

But our nation got used to inflation that ran maybe 1-2%, meaning we might see just a modest increase every year. Now that we have so much funny money floating about, however, we got saddled with two significant hikes in six months. (And yes, I realize all this started with the last president. But he only did one stimmy, in reaction to the forced shutdown of “non-essential” businesses and complete revision of the service model for restaurants like CFA. In and of itself that was a gross overreaction, but I digress…)

Obviously I’m diving into the anecdotal here, but as a busy family we eat out a lot: usually three to four times a week for dinner. So we are attuned to the steady rise in prices that’s seemingly accelerated since the CCP virus began to take its toll on the restaurant industry and its players almost two years ago. It doesn’t matter if they’re chains like Chick-Fil-A or Texas Roadhouse or local restaurants such as Laurel Pizzeria, Pizza King, or La Tolteca in Salisbury – every time we go there it seems some of the prices have gone up a quarter here and 50 cents there. We get that costs are going up and food service is a brutal business model right now, but there has to be an end somewhere.

Perhaps if we stop with this artificial stimulation of the economy where valueless dollars are printed, we can eventually get back to that nice, predictable, and steady 1-2% annual increase (and bring back the period of not so long ago where wage increases were faster than inflation.) Otherwise, my over/under on my Friday lunchtime meal by the end of this new year is $11.50. Any takers?

We can make a partial course correction in 10 months. Hopefully some inspiring candidates for said change will step forth in the interim here in Delaware.

2021: a monoblogue year in review

As two weeks to stop the spread drags ever closer to two years, it’s time once again to review where I’ve been during the year.

My first post in January had perhaps the best first line of a year and perhaps the worst prediction. I began by saying, “From all appearances, January 6 may be a momentous day in our nation’s history, and grassroots supporters of Donald Trump will either be elated or despondent at day’s end.” But then I made the prediction, “Given that the 6th (a Wednesday) is a regular workday for D.C. and everyone else, I wouldn’t expect a major six-figure crowd there as there was for previous pro-Trump rallies.” Okay then. Upon further review, though, I still think it’s true that “if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians.” In that month I also had a rare guest opinion regarding Kamala Harris and shared my thoughts on becoming the loyal opposition.

What a way to begin the year, huh? I also started the second hundred of odds and ends, threw shade on my erstwhile professional organization, looked at the Gamestop stock phenomenon and asked what is truth?

It may have come out in February, when I reviewed my pleasing predictions. I also had to inform you of a new local grift as well as deal with another waste of energy and – believe it or not – more odds and ends. But the month gave those of us on the Right the sads because we lost our truth detector, a legend who finally repaid the talent he had been loaned.

I began my March by pondering the prospect of Trump fatigue, talking about some misdirection, then getting into local impact races. I then took a first look at how our state stacks up political district-wise before concluding with (you guessed it) even more odds and ends.

There was more of a Delaware focus in April as I looked at the changing of the guard in state political advocacy groups and attended one of the newbies’ local meetings, which had a heavy Second Amendment influence thanks to its location. That came in handy for a supportive 2A solution my member of Congress would never adopt, even though she should.

Then again, if Delmarva were a state she would possibly have company in Congress. I reprised a post I did in 2017 based on this cycle’s results and found we were still a purple region. Yet I found time to discuss infrastructure, too, and got myself back into practice for both the resumption of the Shorebirds season and a pictures and text post for the first time in over two years, well before the CCP virus hit us!

I began May with treatises on government dependence and fear before turning my attention to competing endorsements and disappointing results of the state’s school board elections. To make it a trifecta, our state also advanced a terrible idea – but what else is new? One thing new was a radio host with a radical thought I expanded on.

Part of my June docket had to do with the aforementioned radio host, who got some competition that ended an era in talk radio. But I brought back two things in the month: the odds and ends you breathlessly waited two months for and the Shorebirds of the Month I very, very impatiently longed to do for nearly two years.

But we also had to deal with it being pride month and with the avalanche of fake facts, for which I passed along some advice. I also talked about really fixing our Senate and announced someone wanted to fix the House – or at least represent us better – yet again, for the third straight election.

July began with a whimper and not a bang thanks to the Delaware General Assembly closing up shop a bit early, but I still did an accounting on them for this session. I also had some ideas to build up the state’s manufacturing base that led, of course, to more odds and ends. Yet after I discussed how not to be an aspiring writer, I foreshadowed an August post by discussing an upcoming event on Critical Race Theory, which eventually led off our eighth month.

It was a mellow sort of month as I looked at true lies from the opposition, dealt with a #TBT-style correction, and discussed growth in a post-growth town. I even got to do a brief rebuttal to a TEA Party critic because I put up one of my favorite post titles about beggars and hangers-on, too.

A long-neglected division of my site got a two-part update in September, but that wasn’t all. I took an updated look at the new 9/11 two decades later then, in the wake of California governor Gavin Newsom, I fantasized about the idea of a John Carney recall. And while I shockingly did more odds and ends, I had fun looking at my carbon offset and began wrapping up my Shorebirds coverage by detailing the final day and announcing my Shorebird of the Year at month’s end.

Former Trump administration official and Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson visited a local church to begin October, where we heard he was a pretty good brain surgeon, too. (A brain surgeon starting a new political organization, that is.) And once I got through my picks and pans as a Shorebird fan, I opined about a visit to the land of another potential Oval Office candidate, Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Once we returned home, there were rumblings of a pending electoral bloodbath in 2022 that had the far-left opposition worried. And before I closed the month with another edition of odds and ends I talked a lot about Patriots for Delaware, promoting and covering their Unify Delaware Festival and preliminary report on the 2020 election and voter integrity in the state. I even got one more post in November out of them thanks to the long-awaited return of Weekend of local rock.

Earlier in the month, though, we had a bellwether offyear election with (mostly) pleasing results, but the election in Delmar, Maryland was a broom that swept clean. I also began a look at redistricting I would follow on after my Thanksgiving message and Black Friday tradition.

As always, December began with my anniversary post, a sweet sixteen celebration this year. It was once again quickly followed by another tradition: the induction of a new class into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. I then pivoted quickly into a pair of thought pieces spurred by comments by the chair of the Delaware Libertarian Party before embarking on a three part series on the state’s legislative redistricting. Then I did one last odds and ends for the year before turning my scattered sights to the Pandora’s box of China, criticism of our Congressperson from her left (not much room there), a look at renewable energy, and the annual Christmas message.

That’s where I left it for another year. After a few days away I’m ready to start 2022 strong.