Today marks the 3,615th post in the (now) eight year lifespan of this website.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m heavily into milestones because to me they best represent certain points in life. For example, I usually mention the fact I’m on a post number with a multiple of 500 as it should be sometime in 2014 when I make it to 4,000. By the same token, almost every December 1st since this site’s first anniversary in 2006 I’ve written a piece about where this enterprise has been and where it is going. Today won’t be an exception.
One would have figured this to be a down year for monoblogue because it wasn’t an election year in 2013, but the signs point to my readership actually increasing slightly. For most of 2013 the readership line on my Google Analytics stayed 10% to 30% ahead of 2012′s numbers, aside from a barely slower summer this year. Unfortunately my Analytics was down for about a month last fall; however, I determined from looking at my StatCounter reports that naturally my October 2012 numbers were 58% higher than 2013′s but those figures from November of last year vs. November of this year will likely be nearly identical once I get the summary later this week. So I would expect October 2014 to be a banner month, and the state probably did me a favor readership-wise by pushing the primary to June, which is generally one of my slower months. It won’t be next year.
I chalk that increase up to being a better promoter of my work, although I think being named one of the country’s best state-based political blogs by the Washington Post didn’t hurt, either.
When I wrote this summary last year, I had two writing goals in mind for 2013. One was to finally make it to CPAC, and even though it was just for one day I indeed attended the venerable event held outside Washington, D.C. It allowed me to meet a number of my cohorts from around the country, which was a plus. Certainly it would have been more helpful in that regard if I could have made it to the Blogger’s Bash, but when you are an hourly employee and work comes on someone else’s time schedule sacrifices sometimes have to be made.
One way I was hoping to escape that economic necessity was by working on my second book; alas, I made very little progress on that front. Maybe I haven’t sold myself on the idea I’ve chosen, which I think is unique but requires more dedication than I’ve given it. Perhaps I’ll find a little more time in 2014 but honestly I’m not holding my breath with my current situation.
Yet I think there is a way I can provide a useful service. Not everyone agrees with my methods, and others pout about how they believe I judge moral equivalence, but those who exist behind the scenes and don’t seek to grab the headlines or attention are perhaps the most loyal members of my fan base. If my numbers went up (or at least held serve) between an election year and a non-election year, that seems to indicate I have a fair idea of what I’m doing and have some talent. Never mind I’ve also outlasted dozens and dozens of Maryland political sites – go back to this list and ask yourself where the others went.
So the question becomes one of how I improve the situation to make myself more useful to the pro-liberty movement? I know readers have helped a little here and there by rattling the tip jar or buying my book – for some reason, November has been by far my best sales month of the year – and I certainly appreciate the support. But while monoblogue serves me as a great base to practice my craft, this enterprise isn’t nearly enough financially – and that’s all right. Unless people are going to start throwing a couple grand a month at me to advertise here, I really don’t think that by itself monoblogue is going to be my financial savior. It’s a hobby which takes on the average an hour or two of my day and it makes a small profit, so I’m okay with that.
But in reading a lot of the GOP candidate websites, I have to say that their writing style and conveyance of message leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve talked to insiders who complain about the same thing, and actually alerted one of the gubernatorial candidates about a glaring error in his platform, which has since been fixed. Yet when reading the websites on the other side, I don’t often see these problems – the message may be counter-productive to the state as a whole, but it’s presented in a readable way. So maybe I can be of service? I mean, I won’t work for free, but I don’t think I’ll be all that expensive and proofreading is really your friend. Just let me know.
As for the site itself, I think it’s in a pretty good place. It may need some freshening up in spots and those improvements will come as needed. On the front I just discussed I have a couple advertising leads from candidates, but I’d love some good ads for products and services which will appeal to a potentially large Maryland-centric audience. (I can think of a couple businesses which could use exposure throughout the state, but are locally centered around Salisbury. They would be great clients if they want to take the leap.)
One feature I think will become a jewel is the one I started recently called GO Friday. (The GO stands for “guest opinion.”) It’s off to somewhat of a slow start but there’s true potential for growth there. GO Friday was intended to give voice to up-and-coming bloggers trying to build their own audiences out of my reader base, but it’s open to anyone with a good opinion. It also gives me a breather to work on other avenues, such as the aforementioned potential writing tasks.
And don’t think I’m abandoning some of my other features like Shorebird of the Week or Weekend of local rock. I think there’s still plenty of mileage left in both, although the latter hasn’t been as prominent lately.
When I started this enterprise, I said from the beginning it wouldn’t be totally political because then I’d get burned out. There are days I’ve struggled to keep pace with my personal goal of daily updates (and I missed one this year because of an internet outage) but with that rare exception it’s been one goal I’ve accomplished. Fortunately I’m not prone to writer’s block and have something I want to say so the combination works well.
Anyway, this is where monoblogue is at as it begins its ninth year. Hope you enjoy the ride as long as I do.
If this looks similar to what I wrote the last couple years, you’re right! But why mess with good sentiment, I always say.
As always I’d like to take a little time on this holiday which values family and the things we hold dear to wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.
In my case it will be spent with both friends and family, although technically I haven’t married into my significant other’s family (we are engaged, though, so that’s a start.) Once that occurs it will give me something more for which to be thankful.
For those who travel, it looks like the weather in these parts will be conducive for doing so, if a little cold and windy – looks like we escaped the snow and ice, though. I have about two hours of driving between the two stops for which I’m scheduled, but luckily both are both pretty much off the beaten path so traffic shouldn’t be an issue.
So I hope all of you who take the time – whether daily, weekly, or even a first-timer – to read my site have a great holiday. Even though times have been somewhat rough over the last several years, I’m thankful for what I have and look forward to spending time with people I hold dear. If my Lions can run roughshod over the Packers and actually win a Thanksgiving Day game for the first time in ten years, so much the better.
After today, we’ll be into the hustle and bustle of trying to find the right Christmas gift and making New Year’s plans, so it’ll be five weeks of overdrive for our schedule and overindulgence for our bodies. So take the time today and relax. Work will be back before you know it.
Oh, and if anyone tries to spout off Obamacare talking points at the family table, keep in mind that cranberry sauce stains – so aim carefully. Or just throw the drumstick at them, then alert them to reality.
Happy Thanksgiving, all. And for my Jewish friends, a Happy Hanukkah! Today is the first full day of that celebration, and I heard this is a once-in-a-lifetime coincidence.
I think I plugged this once or twice early on, but as I wrote on the subject a couple weeks back I figured I had no shot of winning a Mobbie Award for Best Political Blog or Best News Blog simply because it’s more or less a popularity contest. I have good readership, but not necessarily within the Baltimore Sun‘s primary readership area.
So now that I lowered expectations enough, I found out last night I finished 10th of 14 in Best News Blog (won by Baltimore Brew) and 8th of 18 in the Best Politics Blog (Maryland Reporter came out on top.) Although I cracked the top 5 last year in the latter category, over the years I have generally ended with about the same overall placement I came in this year. Mine was the top finisher outside the I-95 corridor, though, so I’ll take it.
At least I beat out Governor O’Malley.
There were a couple winners in other categories for whom I cast a few votes, most notably Chesapeake Journal in the Lifestyle Blog category and The City That Breeds in Best Humor Account.
But I would like to thank all those who nominated me and took the time to cast a ballot or two my way. I’d be curious, though, to know how this would have turned out if you could have voted for more than one in a category.
In the meantime, I hope those who attended the bash enjoyed the free food. While they were partying I was getting stronger signals that a particular rumor may be true – we’ll know for sure soon enough. Once I find out, you can bet I’ll be analyzing the effects of the change as the days pass. It’s what I do.
When you think about it, the number of people represented by the Red Maryland poll is generally about 1/10 of 1 percent of the potential Republican electorate in the state. So why do I see e-mails and Facebook messages from the three candidates encouraging me to vote in their poll?
Well, before I answer that question, let me state that as a blogger I understand the reason behind the poll. Truth be told, it’s not necessarily to provide an accurate barometer of the race – it’s to bring eyes and ears to the Red Maryland blog and network, respectively. It’s the reason I’ve done polls, and often I see a bump in the numbers if I put up an interesting horserace. It might even attract a little notice for me outside the blogosphere.
But Lord knows none of us have the scratch to come up with a scientific method of gauging the true snapshot of the electorate – not that it can’t get blown out of the water by potential events anyway – so we do the next best thing. If they have 500 or 600 responses to their poll, well, that means 500 or 600 people read their website over the period in question. (Obviously some read the site without responding to the poll, so in reality they have hundreds more who stop by during the week they have it up.) Same goes for the radio show where the results are revealed. I may be a dumb country hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, but I can figure out that much about marketing.
So let’s take this e-mail Ron George sent out as one example:
The November Red Maryland Poll is open for the next two days, so please cast your vote for Ron George for Governor. With your help, Ron came in 1st place in the October Poll, and we look forward to winning back to back months.
Not to be outdone, David Craig mentioned via Facebook:
Maryland deserves a leadership team with vast experience and a real record of accomplishments. Please take a moment to show your support for that team by voting for “David Craig” in this month’s Red Maryland Poll.
I haven’t seen anything from Charles Lollar yet, but he and the Red Maryland crew probably aren’t the best of pals right now anyway. Last month he came in just south of “undecided” but he had otherwise polled relatively well there. (Along with “undecided” all three polled in a narrow range between 20 and 30 percent.)
Of course, these aren’t scientific polls so we have no clue how these candidates would do with a “real” electorate. I guess the real value of the poll – as I have said on occasions before, which holds true in this case as well – lies in the poll providing a gauge of passionate supporters. So, at least in October, Ron George had the largest number of passionate supporters, although no one was really short on them overall. Insofar as that polling has shown, it’s been a solid three-way race throughout.
Winning an internet poll may not give you a boost in the real polls but it provides some good press for the winning campaign, so there is that.
Now, speaking of polls, for the fourth time in five years I’ve found myself nominated for a Mobbie Award. (Actually, two.)
I harbor no illusions of winning an award, seeing that it’s essentially a popularity contest and my website is probably not nearly as well-read as some of the others nominated. Let’s face it: a blog discussing Ravens football is going to cream mine in readership and probably voting as well. Even among the nominees in the News Blog and Political Blog categories, I’m sure other contenders have higher traffic (although I enjoyed a somewhat better than average week last week, with nice consistency. Thanks, folks.)
Knowing that, I don’t figure on winning the Reader’s Choice Award. But I don’t want to finish last, either. So if you feel inclined to do so, I would appreciate the support. If you can’t bring yourself to support me, vote for Raging Against the Rhetoric (Jackie Wellfonder’s site) because I nominated her in the political category.
Someone might get the perception I have a halfway-decent website if I happen to win, and who knows? It may attract a couple dozen advertisers and other major sponsors. You can beat the rush, though, and get in on the ground floor – just go here for details.
There’s really not a lot of political news today – aside from the fact that Charles Lollar debuted his revamped website, which will probably draw criticism from some quarters because he did it on Halloween – so I thought I’d check in with an observation about the day.
First I have to give you some background: I am 49 years old, so my prime Halloween time was about four decades ago. At the time I lived in a more or less middle-class portion of Toledo, but when I was 11 we moved to a rural area so I think the year I was 10 was the last time I went trick-or-treating. It seemed to me that just about every house on the street participated, so my brothers and I really only needed to go up and down our block (probably 15-20 houses each side) to get our fill of candy; if not we could easily catch up on the next street over.
Now allow me to fast-forward a couple decades to when my daughter was around 10 years old, which would have been the early 1990s. Again, at the time we lived in Toledo although I would say the neighborhood we lived in at the time was more toward working-class than middle-class. Perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the houses participated, and with fewer per block we normally went down Atlantic (our street) for its three blocks and National (the street behind us) to loop back.
Yet there were already other key differences. Gone were the occasional popcorn ball or apple we would get as a kids. Instead, we received practically everything in wrapped form and we had to come home and inspect it. A few years earlier they began the whole procedure of x-raying the bag of candy because people were paranoid about razors, needles, or other foreign objects inserted into the candy. (I’d always heard that legend, even as a kid, but I don’t recall an actual case.)
During those years I volunteered to sit at home and pass out the candy, I noticed that the average age of the trick-or-treaters had gone up significantly. Of course my memory is fuzzy about childhood, but it seemed like I was pretty much average when the last year I went trick-or-treating was the year I turned 10. But when passing out candy as an adult, I think the average age was 11 or 12, with way too many high school kids for my liking. Shouldn’t Halloween be for the little ones?
Of course, nowadays Halloween is an event, with decorations, gatherings, and merchandising beginning before Labor Day. We also have actual government-sponsored festivities billed as a “safe alternative” to soliciting candy from strangers. Does it bother you that the subliminal message is that it’s up to the government to provide regimented activities to keep your kids safe?
We were happy to get out, get the bag of candy, and watch Charlie Brown – now it’s almost like a monthlong buildup to a week of activity. In a lot of ways, the hype surrounding Halloween is more and more like the buildup to Christmas, with candy replacing toys and games as the premium kids expect. (The commercial where the family schemes with their smartphones to avoid the dentist giving out floss reminds me of that attitude.) At least with Christmas, though, you have the benefit of family and time off from school and work – maybe the pagans will demand that next for Halloween.
But now that the candy’s been passed out, the “safe” activities sponsored by your friendly neighborhood governmental unit are done for the year, and the sugar buzz begins to die down, one thing is certain: the commercial blitz we used to call “Merry Christmas” will begin tomorrow. Retailers have a lot of work to do because Thanksgiving (remember that holiday, the one we’re supposed to count our blessings? thought not) falls late on the calendar this year, and there’s only four short weeks between the two holidays.
So I hope you enjoyed your Halloween if you chose to go all out and celebrate it. Me, I just did my job as it was just another Thursday. Maybe that’s the way it should be for adults, at least those who don’t have kids under 12.
Maybe this will put me in a better spirit? Anyone else remember these guys?
I guess they’re still around, although I doubt with nearly as much hair.
I think I’ve trod down this road before, but a post Sunday by DaTechGuy (aka Peter Ingemi) brought the name Jimmie Bise back out. And the points he made echo the points I made when I wrote my piece in early 2012 and the thoughts Bise had back in 2009. So I wouldn’t call this a tragedy – because Bise is still very much alive – but more like a case of lessons not being learned.
Yesterday I wrote at length about a piece in the Baltimore Sun which was repeated by a fairly liberal blogger who happened to be a statehouse reporter for decades. I don’t know who else, if anyone, wrote about this report but considering the paucity of Maryland-based conservative outlets it’s pretty likely I was the only one. (I checked a few and indeed I seemed to be the only one paying attention; then again, it fit in with my interests.)
And when I say paucity of conservative outlets I think it’s safe to say that our combined efforts – and by “our” I’m including the dozen or so regularly updated conservative sites in Maryland, including this one – might reach an audience perhaps 1/10 of what the Sun draws for its print edition daily (about 170,000 readers). Note that doesn’t count their online services, which probably draw another 100,000 or so per diem.
So what if some conservative bought the Baltimore Sun? This isn’t completely far-fetched, since there was some interest in the Sun‘s parent company from the Koch brothers, but the likelihood of the owners selling to overt conservatives is slim.
That leaves the internet, which is the venue of choice for most of those whom we want to reach anyway.
It’s helpful for this exercise to remember that a person is only allowed to donate a maximum of $10,000 to Maryland candidates this election cycle, with $4,000 the maximum to a particular candidate. If you figure even $1,000 per person donated to the ten most conservative members of the General Assembly (or conservative challengers) that’s going to give you 10 members of the body out of 188, assuming they were all elected – and in the state’s current political climate that’s one hell of a crapshoot. If you want to build a conservative movement in Maryland, you have to do better and begin with spreading the message among the populace.
I know Bise talked about running a national news agency on $500,000 a year, but if you took even half that money and spread it around the twelve or so top conservative sites in the state we could build a tremendous online following. We could work day after day pounding home the proper message, pointing out the frequent hypocrisy of the liberal state regime, and figuring out new ways to reach the desired audience. It would be an investment repaid eventually in better opportunities for all who live and work in Maryland.
As it stands, we in the conservative blogosphere along with a handful of talk radio hosts around the state probably feel like the 300 Spartans desperately fighting our own Battle of Thermopylae against the hordes who would tax and spend Maryland into oblivion, driving away the productive and leaving only the parasites who feed off the government and those producers unlucky enough to be still stuck here.
And it’s not just Maryland, either. Most of the northeastern part of the country, the West Coast, and pockets of the Midwest suffer the same problems our state endures. Certainly there’s a conservative movement crying out for help in those areas, with the thought that changing hearts and minds make winning elections down the road much easier.
People tell me that we may as well give up on Maryland, but I cede no ground. It doesn’t take a majority to “get it” to instill change, just a majority of those who vote. If we don’t have the conservatives in Maryland ready to not just dash to the polls the moment they’re open but also grab their like-minded friends and neighbors to do the same, we’ll be in for yet another four-year cycle of misery. And contrary to popular belief, our misery doesn’t love company – our special brand of misery drives company away.
We can do much, much better, with a little help. (Why not rattle my tip jar? My annual server fee is coming due soon.)
I’ll charitably call it a race run on a sloppy track, but let’s just say the weather conditions kept most but the diehards away from this year’s Good Beer Festival – despite the welcoming sign from my favorite brewery.
Once I get to the upcoming Weekend of Local Rock feature you’ll better see what I mean, but for the most part Saturday’s proceedings were endured in a steady light drizzle. It’s unfortunate because there were some neat new features this weekend, like the Local Beer Garden.
Several local breweries secured a small corner for their pouring stations or a place to enjoy the product.
Another corner had a unique feature which many enjoyed and employed.
Me? I was just doing what I was told (for once.)
(Yes, I can be a smartass at times. But if you can’t have a little fun in life, why bother?)
Aside from the chalkboard, I took those shots before the event even began Saturday. Meanwhile, the volunteer pourers were receiving their final instructions.
It was only when I walked over to the ribbon cutting that the sprinkles began, literally minutes before the GBF was opened.
Among those participating were Wicomico Recreation Chairman Allen Brown (holding microphone), who actually wielded the scissors, and fellow Commission member April Jackson to his left. Elected officials flanking Brown in the background from left to right were County Council members Bob Culver, Gail Bartkovich, and Stevie Prettyman, with Delegate Addie Eckradt at the far right. Aside from a brief walkaround, though, I don’t think the elected officials stuck around.
At least I had the little sampling glass they gave out. The slips of paper served two purposes: a sticker for the event you could wear and a ballot for the Taster’s Choice Awards.
It wasn’t a complete surprise that local favorite Evolution Craft Brewing Company was knocked out of its three-time defending Taster’s Choice champion perch by the Tall Tales Brewing Company – after all, Tall Tales was the lead event sponsor. But newcomer Fin City Brewing Company from Ocean City finished third. All this was announced just before closing on Sunday.
So you could tell Saturday’s rain had its effect on the crowd. This shot was taken about 1:30, looking down the food court.
Did I say food? Yes, they had plenty of food to go with the beer, for the most part conveniently lined up along the fence line. I had some good pulled pork sliders, North Carolina style.
Yet a strange thing happened: by 4:30 there were a LOT of hungry folks despite the persistent mist. I wondered where they all came from!
As it turns out – and I was floored by this – they had 1,700 at Saturday’s event. No, it’s nowhere near record territory but for the conditions of the day I was impressed.
The crowd – and a week’s worth of rainy conditions – was already beginning to take a toll on the grassy meadow the GBF is held on.
So when I arrived Sunday morning, and found a nice puddle had collected on the roof of our tent, it was no surprise to find some no-go zones. The tape was removed before the event formally opened.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Sunday crowd (as opposed to the Saturday gathering) is that it’s somewhat smaller and many of them partake in the other amusements scattered about the grounds. Always popular on Sunday is this tent with the big screen televisions.
Others played cornhole, although this group had a different idea of the rules.
Luckily, I think she missed – didn’t need an Orlando Brown incident at the GBF.
Meanwhile, this little game can be maddeningly addictive. I keep coming thisclose to hooking it.
Sunday also brought the home brewers out, with their own contest and enclave.
I don’t recall who won, but it was with a fruit-based home brew. It’s worth pointing out that, in the spirit of the Halloween season, a number of breweries had pumpkin-based beer. There was also one concoction featuring Old Bay I didn’t try and the 16 Mile Killer Tiller Brown Ale, which I did. That stuff BURNED all the way down. I’ll stick with the Blues’ Golden Ale (which, sadly, wasn’t on tap there), thanks.
It’s also a more intimate gathering. My guess is that attendance was about 1,000. You’ll notice in my 1:30 shot that it’s cloudy but the rain held off all day.
I know I’ve discussed the more humorous signage at the Autumn Wine Festival and Pork in the Park, and the brewers are beginning to catch up.
And if you wanted to flaunt your drunken humor I’m sure these guys had the shirt for you.
But perhaps most emblematic of the rollicking, fun-loving spirit of the Good Beer Festival were these young ladies who happened to be next door to us. (No, not the guys in the kilts.)
Where else could you do this?
The Salisbury Roller Girls aren’t a new group and they’re regulars at Third Friday. But I found out that they have Old Bay as one sponsor and they were using the arm wrestling as a fundraiser along with shirt sales and such. It takes money to get the rinks, hire the refs, and travel around the region playing teams like the New Jersey Hellrazors or Black Rose Rotten Cherries.
So why was our humble group of Republicans there? Because the Democrats weren’t!
Among my Sunday volunteers was County Council candidate Muir Boda, who’s in the center between Greg Belcher and Shawn Jester.
Shawn is also in this shot with District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who stopped by with the signs and magnets you see in the above picture. And remember that name of Shawn Jester; I think you’ll be reading it in the future here.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my volunteers: not just Shawn, Muir, and Greg, but Phil, Bob, and Bunky as well. It made for an enjoyable weekend – and wasn’t that the point? Giving out literature, meeting Republicans who urged us to keep up the fight, and recruiting new potential Wicomico County Republican Club members is great, but the idea is to be in the community and enjoy being there.
We will see you next weekend at the Autumn Wine Festival, but you’ll be able to relive the bands which played as an installment of Weekend of Local Rock over the weekend.
Boy was I out of the loop. I was working hard this week at my outside job so I missed local events like the Charles Lollar appearances here in town – in that case, his Eastern Shore coordinator and fellow blogger Julie Brewington was Johnny-on-the-spot for coverage. The same held true for national events like the Ted Cruz filibuster and subsequent Senate vote. I didn’t listen to talk radio this week, either – pretty much for me it was work, look at the pile of e-mail I have, try to get some kind of post up here and do the work required from another writing client (besides you, my readers), shrug my shoulders, and take my aching body to bed for another day’s toil the next day.
In the last few weeks, my outside job took me to the back of a number of local grocery stores, most of the local outposts of a nationwide pharmacy chain and discount store, and a few various sundry other places. In particular, the jobs where I would spend several hours at one location assembling a large display gave me an opportunity to listen in on how people think and what they talk about. And let me tell you this – those with whom I most closely involve myself in the political world live in one hell of an echo chamber. Perhaps it’s the unwritten rule about not discussing politics or religion at work – although it was written in a store I visited today – but I really never hear talk about current events in my travels, aside from how the football games are going on Sunday. (Yes, I have worked a few Sundays of late, which tells you the hours I’m keeping.) It’s mostly internal gossip if anything.
All that traveling around I do also takes me to several small communities on a weekly or biweekly basis, so I notice changes there as well. Many of the smaller towns to which I travel have their share of vacant buildings, but once in awhile I see signs of progress like the newly-opened restaurant in one small town I frequent or the small spec commercial/industrial building on a main highway that’s been sitting vacant for a couple years finally getting finished out for a tenant. It makes the failures I see a little, like the little store which gamely tried to survive but only lasted the summer easier to take.
I think we tend to forget, when we get caught up in political arguments on Facebook or scramble to update our blogs with the latest moves in the gubernatorial chase, that our little world is pretty small compared to life in general. We can get totally immersed in it, but seeing as I make most of my living outside that realm I suppose I may be more grounded than most. Yes, it’s making it that much more difficult to get to writing book number two, but I guess I’d like to sell more of book number one anyway.
All this time working, driving between stops, and otherwise trying to keep everything together has got me to pondering the future of this site. No, it’s not going away; instead I think I have a couple ideas for improvement but I’ll keep them under my hat for now. In the meantime, I have a crapload of e-mail to get to and it’s been a long week. There’s a couple posts I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile and I think you’ll enjoy them once I get back to squared away. I’ll just be happy to get my evenings back again.
Twelve years ago, timed to the moment this post will come out in the morning, our nation was changed forever. And while we debate the merits of intervention in yet another far-off country, it’s worth repeating that this American won’t forgive or forget.
But as I wrote a year ago at this time:
With the exception of the very first year I had this website, I have chosen to write a tribute of sorts on 9-11. I’ve told you about my experience (twice), reflected on how it affected the presidency of George W. Bush, the “different and lacking resolve” of Barack Obama, and how we need to stay strong. I even reviewed a 9/11 book recently.
So it’s somewhat hard to lay out new ground to cover. But I still feel the somber occasion of 9/11 is important enough to devote a post to…
…Few who experienced the day would want to live through it again, but I think it’s vital to dredge up the unpleasantness because the fight is far from over.
When I wrote this, however, I had no inkling of the events which would transpire later that evening in Benghazi, Libya. That rendition of 9/11, in any other administration, would have spelled imminent doom with an election less than two months away. But somehow our President (who shall not be named today) got away with murder, at least in the metaphorical sense. So I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a bid by Watchdog Wire for the usage of the hashtag #BenghaziWatch today.
Yet one has to wonder how much more Americans will take. It’s not hard to recall the images surrounding the seminal event of our lives: four planes hijacked and turned into missiles, destroying two of our most prominent structures and badly damaging another, the grounding of our private airline fleet and subsequent birth of Department of Homeland Security, the ruin and rebuild of our financial nerve center, and so forth. Not much can halt professional sports, but 9/11 did: a week’s worth of baseball and NFL games were postponed by the events along the East Coast.
It’s not a perfect analogy by any means, but there was a period in our nation’s history, spanning perhaps thirty to forty years, where we lived in dread knowing a situation wouldn’t be solved without the high likelihood of bloodshed. Even in the days of our nation’s founding, the question of slavery was a vexing issue which was kicked down the road through a series of compromises until no more middle ground could be had and the two sides fought a war to determine whether states could choose their destiny or not.
Similarly, radical Islam seems incompatible with the ideals of a Constitutional republic such as ours. In some respects, what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq was a compromise because, frankly, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/01 there would have been few Americans who objected to turning the Middle East into an uninhabitable sea of glass. We certainly possess the capability to do so, although it obviously would risk a far larger Armageddon. Yet the question which we will have to ponder is whether compromise is possible, or if 9/11 turns out to be the first battle in a latter-day Hundred Years’ War.
Their side has no problem waiting, so how long can we be vigilant in response?
Some of you who have stuck with this website through thick and thin know I also moonlight on the side for a website called the Patriot Post. Each week my editor Nate sends me a story idea (or two or three) which I turn into one of the articles in the week’s Digest, which used to come out every Friday.
But one recent change now means the Digest comes out three times a week as it added elements formerly found in what were known as the Brief and the Chronicle, which came out Monday and Wednesday, respectively. So today’s edition was the Monday Digest.
The other change which was made was to their website, which now allows each individual article to be looked up rather than having to go through the whole thing to find my piece. (It’s not like I don’t know what I wrote, although at times it’s edited judiciously due to events which may have happened after I sent in my draft.) So it’s with pleasure I can now steer you to the piece I wrote for Friday’s Digest, but was bumped to today thanks to all that went on in Syria. (It wasn’t necessarily time sensitive.)
So for those who have asked what I do for that newsletter, on occasion I just might share with you some of my better posts. But I would also encourage you to read the rest of it because there’s 30 or so people like me who do the job of putting it all together, with no advertising and only the support of freewill donations which mainly go to pay their full time staff and keep their lights on. (All that is probably cheaper in Tennessee, where the Patriot Post is based.)
And because I tend to write on the same subject a number of times over a long period – Nate and I have sort of a running joke about how often I’ve written something about the Chevy Volt, for example – having the individual article links available will eventually make my job there easier, as I’m sure it will for the other writers as well. I know I’ll be taking advantage of it as I can.
And now for something completely different…
I’m rarely linked by Len Lazarick and the Maryland Reporter website, but I can’t help but think that some of the impetus behind this piece he wrote came from something I penned just the other day. Certainly I’m not crying plagiarism, I just thought the timing was pretty good as he had an opportunity to make a point along the same lines as mine. Great minds think alike?
But Len probably noticed as well that, having been to several events where Charles has spoken, I can testify that he has a compelling manner that plays well with an audience. David Craig is a nice guy but I almost see him as the Mitt Romney of the race – and we all know how Mitt fared once he got out of his primary.
There’s also some other questions turning in my mind about the top-ticket race, and over the next few days I’ll see how I can answer them. Be looking.
I’ll get into it in much more detail tomorrow evening, but tonight Charles Lollar came to speak to a crowded room at our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. Within that room were a number of people who had most recently been at each other’s throats, including a long string of Tweets between two of the parties the other night.
A few counties over we have the spectacle of shifting votes, would-be aspirants dropping out, otherwise reasonably conservative candidates (based on voting record) being called not conservative enough. People are questioning the process, but shouldn’t we be questioning some of the players?
Now I’m not going to sit here and claim to be either the sharpest knife in the drawer or the conservative male answer to Dr. Joyce Brothers – who recently passed away, but was a television staple of my youth as a popular psychologist. (Surely this reference dates me, but I don’t care. Using Oprah as an example didn’t have the connotation I wanted.) But it seems to me, speaking as just a dumb hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, that there are a number of people who seem to be letting personal political interests get ahead of the conservative movement as a whole. Certainly I have my preferences in such things as the District 36 Senate seat race, but I’m not going to sit here and smear the others – perhaps the closest I come is questioning Audrey Scott’s bonafides for the position based on my observations of her past actions. But would she be better than a Democrat in the seat? Certainly. But I guarantee that someone will question my loyalty because no one is pure enough for them.
I get e-mail from the Campaign for Liberty folks and I follow the Cecil County Patriots online. But you wouldn’t think they agreed on probably half or better of the issues the way they carry on against each other. Listen, I don’t get along personally with all of my Central Committee cohorts in the respect that we hang out together at social gatherings. Some cliques have me on the A list and some have me standing out in the cold. But we all have a common goal, and that’s electing Republicans – mine might be more on the libertarian side than ones some others would prefer, but I’d rather make minimal progress with a moderate than be thrown for a loss by a Democrat.
So the situation I alluded to above may not be resolved for some time. Certainly I’ve always been a fan of Charles Lollar, so that was easy to sit through tonight. Even the David Craig county coordinator was on her best behavior. Because of that, I’m hoping the local Lollar crew will both attend the meeting and extend the same courtesy when Ron George comes next month. I’m sure they will.
It certainly would beat the question I had to answer when I was asked what a certain group of bloggers was thinking when they said whatever was said to offend the questioner. For obvious reasons I’m sensitive to that, although perhaps not as much as the club president who actually works with those guys on a regular basis. Who and what doesn’t matter so much as the question being asked in the first place.
You know, I get that politics is a blood sport for some. There are days I’d love to just sit and talk baseball all day, but I suspect I would move the conversation in a political direction after a while because it’s become my comfort zone. Yet while I don’t always like the hours or the nature of the work, having an outside job to occupy my mind several hours a day has the advantage of keeping me grounded and attuned to the real world. (Doesn’t always help my output here, though.)
So when I saw the gathering of people brought together by an overall cause – and this is not to single out Charles Lollar, because many of the same folks came to see David Craig last month and Dr. Mark Edney the month before, and will extend that courtesy to Ron George – it sort of surprises me that we can go astray over what, to 99% of the people out there, would be considered trivial things. Sometimes we have to take a step back and let life play out.
Most counties have a traditional county fair, but ours does it a little differently as they bill it the Farm and Home Show. But it’s on the 77th annual rendition, and as always they promised a whale of a time.
Actually, this 70′ long whale replica came from the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Not to be outdone in the aquatic wars, the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center brought out their Fishmobile.
Somewhat more on the exotic side were these alpacas, which are raised locally for their wool. They are not camera-shy, either.
Yet while all three had their patrons, the WFHS still had its bread and butter of more mainstream, rural attractions, like this mechanical bull.
This was accompanied by a somewhat obnoxious huckster who probably made his money off the photos he was selling for $5 a pop. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.
But much more work went into the exhibits which were spread throughout the Farm and Home Show’s exhibit hall and show areas outside. Whether it was produce…
…dozens of youth and adult participants competed for the elusive blue ribbons and best of show designations. And it wasn’t just in those categories – photography holds a special place in my heart as well.
You likely can’t see it on the left, but one of my fiance Kim’s pictures is there with a blue ribbon on it, denoting it won its subcategory. On the right is one of her daughter’s photos, with not just a blue ribbon for subcategory but a purple one denoting “Best of Show” out of the entire junior division.
I also happen to know the woman who swept the adult “Best of Show” divisions, and it was no surprise Francie Davis won those because she’s won at the Delaware State Fair before. I’ve seen her work there and she’s quite good.
Yet there were other competitions held at the Farm and Home Show. Over the course of Saturday afternoon the antique tractor pull pitted man and machine against weight and mean old Mr. Gravity.
If you liked smoky and noisy, that was the event for you. And the kids even got to join in the fun – with pedal power, of course.
This big kid likes to see cars which were around when he was a little one – yes, I am a sucker for a car show.
This old Ford Fairlane was fascinating with its retractable hardtop. Not sure I’d be a big fan of what would then be a trunkless car, which is probably why the concept never caught on.
But I do like the more exotic models – not necessarily the 1950s-era Bentley someone brought, but this old Nash Rambler.
I’m of an age where I remember a dashboard full of doodads like this one.
And there’s other interesting detail as well. How did we survive with these bumpers?
I’d be curious to know where this was in Millsboro. This dealership has probably been out of existence for forty years or more, but lives on with the nameplate.
There were also people hawking their wares. One of the more interesting people I ran across was E. Dee Monnen, who is an author and one-time president of our Wicomico County Republican Club. So what does she mainly write on? Old-time baseball.
As I found out, her interest in the sport came from her grandfather. He was a contemporary of the legendary Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson and was, in fact, his first mound opponent, she claimed.
Of course, I was there to handle the Republican table at the event. Muir Boda took my pic there, with longtime volunteer Bob Miller on the far left (a rarity.)
Apparently, though, I missed out on many of the politicians who dropped in. While I saw County Council members Joe Holloway and Bob Culver in my rounds today, apparently Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Delegate candidate Mary Beth Carozza, and Delegate Charles Otto were supporters of the auction they held Friday night and Delegate Ron George dropped by yesterday to say hello and drop off some “Ron George for Governor” yard signs (which, by the way, are in my possession at the moment.)
I also saw this worst-kept secret made official.
Looks like Jim Mathias has a fight on his hands.
But as another Wicomico Farm and Home Show went into the books, one has to ponder if it’s going the way of these tractors: old and functional, but symbols of another time passed by.
I saw quite a few kids there, but many more gray hairs. If the WFHS is to survive, I think it needs to find some more items to cater to a younger crowd. It’s most likely the Wicomico GOP will remain there as supporters, but they truly need to figure out a way to increase attendance. There’s no admission fee so no one really counts the patrons, but if there were 500 people on the grounds at any one time (including workers and help) I would be surprised.
Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach. If antique tractors and cars can be made into works of art, so can this event.
Update: Speaking of antique tractors, I wanted to point out one more thing and it actually works into the theme with which I concluded.
I don’t know the woman personally, but being in the farming environment I’m sure Katie Howard has earned every one of her gray hairs. Yet that didn’t stop her from getting off the sidelines and trying her first “hook” as a tractor puller.
She didn’t win her class, but she pulled it a respectable distance – more than some of the others pulled. A little more speed and she would have done even better; of course, that knowledge comes from experience and she could be better next time around.
It’s that combination of experience and willingness to try something new which often leads to success, and it’s a lesson for the WHFS to learn for the 78th rendition next year.