2020 federal dossier: Immigration

This is the sixth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, immigration is worth 11 points.

In perhaps the most extreme category so far, this subject has been the main focus of one of my Republican candidates, yet basically ignored by another. This study in contrasts should make for an interesting file within the dossier.

Over the last sixty years we have gradually opened up the spigots on immigration after a comparative freeze during the middle of the twentieth century – a time we were preoccupied by war and economic depression. But reforms in 1965 and 1986 have created a ping-pong ball of sorts as we bounce between the interests of Democrats (as well as their GOP-backing Chamber of Commerce allies) who want more free and unfettered immigration against the border hawks who want to secure the borders and limit the influx, whether as a pause or more permanently – returning closer to a stance we had after our large wave of immigration in the early 1900s when we became very selective about who got in.

So what do the Republicans running here in Delaware think? (Eventually they’ll be joined by the rest on the ballot.) Again, the order is randomized but it worked out well in this case.

Matthew Morris (House)

Having a relatively sparse website and focusing most on other issues like prison reform and the opioid crisis, I really haven’t seen where Matthew stands on immigration. Like any of the candidates, he is certainly welcome to let me know privately or publicly by leaving a comment here.

Lee Murphy (House)

What Matthew has to contend with is an interesting hodgepodge of ideas made on Lee’s issues page, where he states, “Congress has shirked their responsibility to find a permanent solution to our nation’s Border Crisis. I will support Customs and Border Patrol and ICE in their efforts to protect our sovereignty. I will support legislation that addresses the visa, permanent resident, and citizenship issues of those who wish to pledge allegiance to our nation legally. We must stop politicizing this national crisis.”

As I noted up top, Congress has “shirked their responsibility” because the issue has been a ping-pong ball for a half-century. Supporting Customs, Border Patrol, and ICE is nice (and necessary) but the second part of the statement leads me to believe Lee is in the “pathway to citizenship” camp that would reward those who came illegally at the expense of those who came the correct way as well as encourage more illegal border crossings – while the southern border has the reputation for being the conduit for illegal immigrants, in reality the larger proportion are those who overstay their visas. In either case, a path to citizenship should begin by them returning home.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Honestly I could write half the night on Lauren and immigration. Sometimes I think she does.

Ask yourself, though: how many candidates for office in Delaware take a field trip to the Mexican border? She has. So to say this is her primary issue would be to sound like Captain Obvious.

Some of her ideas: a full 10-year moratorium on immigration, meaning we net zero immigrants (so immigants equal emigrants – although that number of emigrants will supposedly be pretty high if Trump wins again), ending DACA and commencing the deportation of DACA recipients, ending chain migration and birthright citizenship, and placing more restrictions on work visas. The result, she claims, would be that, “Delawareans and the rest of America will see a rise in wages, and American college students will compete in the labor market without being put at a massive disadvantage. This plan relies on the basic principles of supply and demand, and common sense. Beltway elites seem to understand neither.”

Obviously this is a harder line than most in Congress would take, so I imagine progress on her agenda would be slow and may take multiple election cycles as the Senate only changes partially each time. But then again, perhaps it’s time someone drags things in that direction.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Perhaps knowing his competition, Jim has this as his immigration platform: “We are a nation of immigrants. As Americans we all benefit from each other’s skills and culture resulting in today’s America, the greatest country in the world. That is why our borders are flooded with foreign nationals. However, to protect our culture, our citizens and our way of life, we have immigration laws. These laws are designed to protect our country and our citizen’s health, welfare and businesses. The law must be enforced! Controlling our borders, supporting the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is imperative. The United States is a sovereign country and must not allow open borders.”

The problem with this statement is that I don’t see the “fierce resistance” to amnesty that Lauren seems to have. Perhaps it’s a break for James that the Wuhan flu and BLM strife has pushed immigration aside as a key issue, but there are still many millions who would like to see a more America-centered resolution than what we’re being presented with here. It’s very pale pastels compared to Witzke’s bright colors.

Again, I’m looking at a rather sparse subpart to the dossier next as we consider foreign policy. Despite the fact our actual military operations may be winding down, we have a lot of adversaries to contend with and I want to know how they prefer to deal with them.

2020 federal dossier: Energy and Taxation

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, energy is worth 7 points and taxation is worth 10 points.

In returning to my dossier series after a week away, I have run into a couple of my problem children. Seeing that the candidates don’t seem to be as concerned about these issues as I am and wishing to kick start this process back up, I opted to combine the two categories into one post. I’ll begin with energy, which was supposed to be one of last week’s topics but it turns out that no one really gets into the subject. (If a candidate does, it’s either not on their site or it’s part of a much longer-form interview.)

So I asked the questions directly of the candidates: in the case of energy I wanted to know their takes on renewables, offshore drilling, and ethanol subsidies. To date I have received responses from the House contenders but not the Senate ones. I’ll again go in random order, but some will be very short.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I have not received a response to any of my questions from the DeMartino campaign, which is unfortunate because much of what he speaks to about issues ranges between boilerplate and platitudes. Must be the lawyer in him, but for me it’s frustrating.

Matthew Morris (House)

While I’m sure he’s not going to fully embrace the Green New Deal, in his (rather lengthy) response to my query, he noted that, “When it comes to renewable energy, I am most liberal in my views. The planet is a living organism and we are but small parasites.” Making the case that he could reach across party lines, Morris believed he could, “create an alliance in the preservation of our planet and renewable energy.”

The other departure from GOP orthodoxy came in his opposition to energy exploration, calling offshore drilling and expanded fracking, “unnecessary at this point, especially if we have the resources to end it.” Of course, the problem with that approach is that we need more resources to replace those which become less economically viable. I’m not sure I understand the logic, but then again Morris argues that, “the only reason people have bought into the ideology is because they’ve been manipulated by big oil.”

As we all know, I prefer my energy cheap and reliable. If Big Oil can give me that I’m perfectly happy with it. The planet is pretty resilient.

Lee Murphy (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan should he win the primary, but I believe he’s trying to appease the middle with the campaign’s response, “(T)rust us when we tell you that Lee Murphy is the most evolved Republican in the state with his desire for a clean environment through incentives, not regulations and imposed costs. He wants all of us to be able to drink from the rivers in Delaware, which will take a while, even with Lee’s kind of leadership.”

In and of itself, that’s interesting. But I wonder if he’s tilting himself too far in the balance between energy and environment, similarly to Morris. I also noticed Lee’s campaign doesn’t actually address energy issues as presented, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that the “information” he has will also address energy in some manner.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Although Lauren has been active on social media, this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. However, I seem to have a more open line of communication with her campaign so I may well yet have an answer. I have my hunch how it may play out, but I will hold the prediction in abeyance for now.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received so far has come from Matthew Morris, who noted, “Trump’s tax cuts have their pros and cons. I have an absolute understanding the working middle class will always get the brunt of the taxation because they’re the majority by a landslide.” (He also added later his desire to legalize marijuana, which would presumably be used as a small revenue source as well.)

The bulge in the middle is true when it comes to the present situation, but the recent passing of Herman Cain reminds us there are other revenue ideas out there besides Mary Jane. Cain was most famous for the 9-9-9 plan, which was a combination where the income tax rate for all payers, the business tax rate, and a national sales tax would all be 9%. Presumably the belief was that the lower income tax rate would put more take-home money in paychecks, the lower business tax rate would improve profitability and encourage investment, and any resulting shortfall to the federal treasury would be made up by the new sales tax, which would add $9 to an item costing $100. (This is a similar idea to the FairTax, which has long been a consumption-based tax proposal.) Cain’s hybrid system would have limited the dependence of the government on income tax and spread the burden more equally as opposed to the steeply progressive and complicated tax system we have now.

So I would love to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here.

With the exception of one quarter, I have no shortage of information on the next topic, which will be immigration.

2020 federal dossier: Trade and Job Creation

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, trade and job creation is worth 9 points.

According to the Caesar Rodney Institute, which defines itself as a “Delaware non-profit committed to protecting individual liberty,” the state’s economic status is in a long-term decline, so this category is important for our federal legislators to keep in mind. They obviously have input on our trade policy and hopefully are in tune with the idea that government can create the conditions which enhance opportunity. (Aside from limited jobs in creating and maintaining federal infrastructure, the government seldom creates jobs with actual value like, say, an oil derrick worker, a guy on the line at Jeep, or an architect who works with the private sector.)

Once again I’m doing this in a random order, with Republicans first in line and, once the primary is over, those representing other parties on the Delaware ballot.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Out of all she has said on the subject (and there is a lot!) there are two lines which I think best sum up her philosophy:

“Get me to Washington to ensure we rebuild American industrial might and promote FAIR trade! Let’s Make America Great Again and put America and her workers first!”

“I commit to supporting our unions, their right to collective bargaining, and incentivizing companies to hire American.”

Let’s look at these one at a time. I believe in free trade, but to make trade truly free we have to get it to be fair first. To do that, we need to have sensible tariffs until an overall balance is reached. While that may smack of protectionism, the idea is that we use the time to build up our competitiveness, not coast and make Trabants. Where we need the cattle prod is to insure improvement – if companies want to be part of the American rebirth, they must work quickly to be competitive.

Where I definitely part with Lauren is her blind support of organized labor. I believe in the right to work because it’s proven to be a job creator (companies prefer to locate in right-to-work states and jurisdictions) and it makes the union sell itself to the employees – they have to give a good reason and return on investment to workers who can forgo membership in an open shop. There are unions in right-to-work states so some must succeed in convincing employees and employers that they are fair bargaining agents.

I think a national right-to-work law would be a good thing, but it is an overreach on state’s rights. By the same token, there should be no federal prohibition on the right for states to mandate open shops.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I think James embodies a very sensible approach with his statement:

“I will work to create an environment that promotes free enterprise and not hinder growth with excessive and stifling regulations that add to the cost of doing business. Regulations must be streamlined so business can run their business and not continually file government licenses, documents and reports. I will continually discuss with the Governor and State Legislators their needs to promote business growth and expansion within Delaware from technology and infrastructure to development of Port Wilmington as a vibrant and safe port facility.  I will ensure farmers are provided the latest and greatest agriculture enhancements to maximize their output and returns.”

Philosophically it’s very close to the mark; now all we need is more specifics on various items. My only nitpick may be that streamlining regulations (and improving broadband, which he has also brought up) is as much incumbent on the state as it is the federal government, since that rising tide of eliminating regulation on a federal level would lift all the boats, not just ours.

Matthew Morris (House)

In reading through Matthew’s philosophy, it sounds a little bit like Lauren’s – he blames outsourcing for many of our problems. “I’m proposing that these big corporations, they’re going to have to pay a tax if they’re going to outsource their jobs to these foreign companies,” said Morris on social media. “I can’t stress it enough. We need to put America first.” He also vows to bring aquaculture, farming, and manufacturing back to Delaware. (I can vouch for the fact farming never left Slower Lower. Just sit in my living room and watch the traffic go by on my rural road. Or just watch the soybeans and corn grow and the irrigation system circle around. Or walk outside when the wind is the wrong direction and say “smells like Delaware.”)

Anyway, this is something I don’t think people who blame outsourcing think about: why do foreign manufacturers make cars here? Because we have a mature and prosperous market. We can’t just say in a blanket fashion that all outsourcing is bad because foreign companies outsource here, too – indeed, we should try to reclaim what we lost to China, but there are incentives we can present to encourage that may work more effectively than threats to browbeat.

Lee Murphy (House)

Lee doesn’t stray too far from conventional wisdom here, calling for an end to unnecessary regulations and more tax cuts. Pretty standard stuff. He does make the point that, “(i)nstead of passing minimum wage legislation, I will work tirelessly to bring real jobs back to Delaware.” The problem is that he’s left things really open-ended, although I suspect if prodded he can expand farther on these points. If he realizes that the true minimum wage is zero because it’s a job that was never created, then we may be on to something.

I’m going to gather a little more information, so the next part may be circling back to energy issues or pressing forward to my next intended part, taxation. Whichever one comes first, it will probably arrive around midweek.

2020 federal dossier: Social Issues

This is the third part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, social issues are worth 8 points.

In days past, I used to consider two aspects when it came to social issues: abortion and gay “marriage.” Unfortunately, the former is still with us and the latter is supposedly “settled law.” (I look at both Roe v. Wade and the Obergefell decision as “settled” in the same vein as the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Ferguson were.) So this became more of an abortion question, although one candidate in this field in particular has a deep concern about other issues regarding families.

This was such a rich vein of information that I didn’t need to ask the candidates anything. All the information is gleaned from their websites and social media. Once again, I am presenting this in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

To be perfectly honest, given the trajectory of his campaign and his opponent, this was more of a response to her in as innocent of platitudes as possible than a real stance on social issues. DeMartino states, “The foundation of a strong civilized society is the family. A strong family unit will reduce the ever-growing request for government services. I will propose and support appropriate legislation that will strengthen families financially and incentivize multi-generational households. We must respect, protect and care for our seniors, our youth and the unborn.  Our children require care, guidance and direction from parents not from government agencies.”

He is right in the sense that the family is a foundation, but what I don’t see is the specifics as to how he would help. To some, the idea of strengthening families financially can mean a tax handout when the better solution to me would be to restore the conditions where Mom could stay home with the kids and not be forced to work for the family to survive financially. This would also allow kids to get the “care, guidance, and direction” DeMartino desires.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

This is one of Lauren’s bread-and-butter issues, to a point where she has said way more on the subject than I can summarize in a few paragraphs. Maybe the best way to put it is her saying, “the American Family has been put on the back burner. It has been sacrificed to turn every American into an economic unit, who lives not to serve his or her family or God, but to serve his or her employer and the false idol of GDP…Lauren will pass legislation to further incentivize marriage and child-bearing, thus increasing American birthrates and rebuilding our culture to center it around the American Family.”

So let’s look at this idea. Lauren has noted the example of Hungary, which has created its own incentives for marriage and childbearing with some success. I think it’s a noble idea, but there are two issues I have with it: first of all, it’s not a legitimate function of government at any level to dictate child-bearing (witness the outcry over the years about China’s one-child policy, which led to millions of abortions) nor should the incentives be based on an income tax – more on that in a future edition of the dossier.

It’s been argued that we can’t legislate morality. Witzke also backs a Constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, which would be the extent of federal involvement I might favor. Until such an amendment is passed – and I’m not holding my breath on that one – abortion should be a state issue.

Lee Murphy (House)

Murphy states right up front, “I am pro-life.” And then he tells me what he is not: “Democrats are advocating for late-term abortion. They are okay with ending a baby’s life at seven, eight and nine months of pregnancy, or even after a child is born. I strongly disagree.”

The slower go comes from this statement, “We should instead provide support to mothers and their families facing hardship, and ensure they have the resources necessary to choose life.” This, to me, puts the federal government in a role in which they don’t really belong. I can buy this a little bit more if he were running for state office – which Lee has a few times over his long, uphill political career – but this is another case where money = strings and I don’t support those.

Matthew Morris (House)

Matthew has engaged with folks on social media regarding this subject, and he has a considerably different take. While Matthew argues he is pro-life, he hides his pro-choice view behind a fig leaf, claiming, “I believe as a man, I do not have a say on this issue.” If you are a defender of life, indeed you do. Perhaps part of that comes from his sexuality, noting “As a gay man, I don’t want people telling me what I can and can not do with my body. It’s just a really touchy subject.”

The trouble I have with that philosophy in the case of abortion is that (in the vast, vast majority of cases) the choice was already made, and another life was created. I believe “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are phrased that way for a reason: you can’t pursue happiness without liberty, and you can’t have liberty without life. So a woman isn’t just choosing her liberty, but also denying the liberty of the baby inside her. If she doesn’t feel she can take care of the child, there are alternatives readily available that would maintain the child’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with a willing set of parents.

This take is made even more different when he calls for, “Nuclear families, proper resources for implementing pro-social behavioral learning, and funding for community centers to be able to ensure the children growing up in fatherless homes are taken care of as well.” (He grew up in such a home.) Again, this is a more appropriate state-level “ask” than a federal one.

The next portion of this deep dive will look at the topics of trade and job creation.

2020 dossier series

As a service to readers, I am pinning this post to the top of my website through Election Day. If you would like to check out the candidates, I have also moved that sidebar closer to the top of the site, too. (Don’t forget that below that is this year’s monoblogue Accountability Project, covering the Delaware General Assembly.) I link to each part as I complete them and they are published:

Delaware federal offices

Delaware Governor/LG

  • Agriculture and Environment
  • Transportation
  • Social Issues
  • Law Enforcement/Judicial
  • Education
  • Second Amendment
  • Job Creation
  • Taxation
  • Role of Government
  • Intangibles

New content (including portions of these dossiers) begins below.

2020 federal dossier: Second Amendment

This is the second part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, the Second Amendment is worth 6 points. This evening I will place a post at the top with a link to each part of the 2020 dossier series as I place them.

We can almost recite this from memory: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But what are we defining as infringements, and how do Delaware’s candidates look at the issue?

To a person, they will tell you they support the Second Amendment but what do they really mean? Hopefully I will bring a little bit of clarity to this with my post. As I did with education, I’m beginning with the four GOP candidates then working the others on the ballot in after the primary.

Each of them available to me via social media was asked: Since we all want “common sense gun laws,” what would you change about federal gun laws to make them “common sense?” Again, this will be presented in a random order.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Witzke is very expressive about 2A rights, and has a photo on her social media posing with what I’m assuming is an AR-15 or similar weapon. Moreover, she thunders, “The Second Amendment is not up for negotiation. It’s not a bargaining chip to be used by lawmakers to cut deals.” She also correctly states that thanks to the Second Amendment, “our citizenry has the tools to defend itself against rogue tyrants or an overbearing government.”

Unlike her cohorts, she has a strict pledge that she “will vote against every measure that seeks to restrict the Second Amendment, and will pass legislation to take back Americans’ gun rights that have already been usurped by feckless lawmakers of the past.” The second part is really the phrase that pays, although right now she probably doesn’t have enough help to play along in the Senate.

Matthew Morris (House)

Interestingly enough, Morris is the only one of the four Republicans without a specific Second Amendment area on his website. So when I asked him his thoughts, he stated that, “When it comes to 2A you should be able to carry across state lines with no problem. A thorough and rigorous background (check) should be conducted for a federal carry permit.”

Of course, that begs the followup question about whether these same checks should be in place for purchasing weapons; however, I can see merit in the idea of a federal carry permit. Unfortunately, states don’t treat concealed carry permits like they treat driver’s licenses, which are valid wherever you go in the country.

James DeMartino (Senate)

DeMartino has pledged to put up “fierce resistance” to those who would surrender our Second Amendment rights, “like Senator Chris Coons.” Now I know the guy is a former Marine but I don’t know just how fierce the resistance is to moms demanding action. That’s the million-dollar question.

Lee Murphy (House)

Murphy agrees with the platitudes previously expressed regarding protection of the Second Amendment. But he also adds an interesting wrinkle in that, “we should address the root causes of violence and crime in our communities.” I’m not sure if there’s not a troubling implication here that the guns are part of the problem.

A gun is an inanimate tool until someone loads it, picks it up, points it at someone, and fires. All these steps must be followed for criminal gun violence. I think the old adage that “an armed society is a polite society” comes into play here since the vast majority of gun owners have probably never fired their weapon outside of a range and those who have were likely hunting.

I don’t think any of these fine folks will be the same sort of gun grabber that seems to incessantly populate the Democrat side of the aisle. What I’m still seeking clarity on, though, is how well they will fight to regain what we’ve already lost.

My next part was supposed to consider energy issues, which are something not every candidate features on their website or social media. Because of that, I’ll wait a bit to do that part and instead focus on something our candidates are not shy about: social issues.

2020 federal dossier: Education

This is the first part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, education is worth 5 points.

Today I’m comparing and contrasting the four GOP hopefuls for federal office from Delaware on the subject of education. How do they conform to what really needs to occur to improve the educational system? (After the primary, I will supplement this post with the remaining candidates.)

To do the research, I went through each candidate’s website and social media. They were also all asked the following question (with minor variations):

Pretend it’s 2026, you’re running for re-election, and they have followed your prescriptions for the American educational system to a T. How does the system compare to the way it is now, and how did you get them there?

Out of the four Republican federal candidates, I received answers back from three, Matthew Morris, Lauren Witzke, and Lee Murphy. The same question has been asked to the Libertarian and IPOD candidates who are active on social media with campaign sites; but I won’t use their answers until later. (I can basically guess what the platform of the Democrats will be and I don’t like it, so I won’t bother with them.)

The following is a summary of their published platforms, their social media comments, and their direct answers. So as not to advantage one over another, candidates will be presented in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

James portrays himself as “a proponent of home schooling, private and charter schools,” adding that, “The best education is determined and implemented at the local level.” These are admirable goals.

But the problem I begin to run into is when he talks about reducing bureaucracy, improving educational requirements, and teacher support. As a Senator, I’m not sure how he can do this but what I am afraid of is that he will simply call to increase federal aid, which invariably comes with strings attached for everything. Adding these strings in the past has led to the increased bureaucracy.

And shouldn’t teacher support and educational requirements be more of a local and state issue? If I’m to take him at face value – and at the moment I have little choice because this is all he’s said on the subject – then I don’t see him as much improvement over the status quo, let alone moving in the direction we need to go.

Lee Murphy (House)

One thing I found out in asking Lee about his educational stance is that he used to be a teacher, and he “loved it.” So there is that perspective, even if he may be a few years removed.

But he would work to eliminate the federal Department of Education and work to help states like Delaware adopt vouchers and school choice. However, he cautioned that, “You cannot dismantle the entire education and start over, tempting as that is. But Lee is nothing if not realistic. He would do away with Common Core tomorrow, and would empower teachers to do what they do best, and that is to teach!” (I’m presuming that his campaign manager wrote the note, which explains the third person reference.) I think he has a realistic approach, but an aggressive one at the same time.

Matthew Morris (House)

Conversely, in looking at what Matthew wants, there’s not a lot to suggest improvement to the status quo. He wants to “work with educators” and “decrease class sizes” but that’s not a federal job. And what bothers me most is his saying he’s in favor of “providing solid legislation to provide our schools with the proper funding to adequately provide our children with resources to improve their education.” So he’ll throw federal money at the problems.

In directly answering my question, Matthew said that, “our children have received exceptional education.” I disagree.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Lauren’s position is one I love philosophically, but I’m not so sure the practical solution is at hand. She doesn’t believe in platitudes, telling me the public school system “has become an overwhelmed institution that has forsaken classical education and become indoctrination.” Additionally, she calls for the conservative side to “stand firm, and re-engage at all educational levels and areas to stop this radical deconstruction of our nation’s history to suit their draconian narratives.”

Her promise, as expressed in her answer to my question, is to “make it easier for parents to homeschool their children and support charter and private schools.” But then I go back to my criticism of her opponent and note that the federal money comes with strings on everything. Without the assurance that she would go the extra step and truly work to bring things to a local level I can’t completely embrace her ideas. But out of the GOP Senate field she is head and shoulders the better in her approach.

She even scored better when she stated “funding should follow the child” in a more recent post.

As I said, this is just the beginning. The next part will look at a cherished right: the Second Amendment.

Announcing: the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project

For the third time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location or through this direct link.

Last October I did an interim edition for this session, but because of the truncated 2020 portion it was adapted to a full-session edition with just 4 new votes. I dropped four votes from the 2019 portion to maintain my even 25 votes, with scores revised accordingly. (This actually helped a fair number of legislators.)

And if you were sharp-eyed over the weekend, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” yesterday by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. The nanny state and Trump Derangement Syndrome were out in full force this session, certainly driven in large part by a number of new faces elected in 2018 in both bodies.

The pandemic has radically changed our lives, but aside from a few knee-jerk bills we will probably rue later, the DGA continued our fair state’s march to the left. Unfortunately, no one took my advice last year and became primary opponents to the RINOs who occupy many of the GOP seats in Delaware, nor are most of these legislators going anywhere.

Consider that, out of the 52 seats available this time (10 Senators are in the middle of their four-year term), there are 31 held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans of all stripes. Out of that group, only two legislators are not seeking another term – notably, Senator Harris McDowell is retiring after 44 years. That brings us down to 50 seeking to retain office (29 Democrats, 21 Republicans.)

On this year’s mAP I have a series of columns that show whether legislators have primary and/or general election opponents. I’m ashamed to tell you that, out of 50 remaining DGA members, 27 of them have no opposition on the ballot at all (11 Republican, 16 Democrat.) Take the remaining 23 and subtract 3 Democrats who only have primary opposition (no Republican opponent), and you’ll see there are only 20 seats in the DGA which could flip between parties.

Currently the DGA is 25-16 Democrat in the House and 12-9 Democrat in the Senate. As it stands right now, barring a miraculous write-in campaign, the House is already 17-9 Democrat and the Senate 9-6 Democrat, so the Democrats only need to win 6 of the remaining 21 elections to maintain control. Thanks to mail-in voting they can cheat their way to that, no sweat.

Moreover, look at who actually drew primary opponents. Eight legislators have one thing in common: all Democrats. Not a single Republican drew a primary opponent. Are you telling me that the GOP rank-and-file is satisfied with the pathetic, milquetoast opposition their legislators provide? Meanwhile, the Democrats who were primaried tend to either be first-term legislators or, more likely, the old guard who is being targeted by younger progressives. The Democrats are very successful at replacing centrists with radicals, but the Republicans just drift leftward to go with the flow.

It’s time for conservatives to put their money where their mouth is. 2022 is an off-year election but every seat is up due to redistricting. That will be the time to step up. And yes, I know the Democrats will be drawing the districts to present themselves the best advantage possible but that can be overcome. We need to right this ship of state because I’m sure you’ll see in two years when I revisit the mAP that things are even worse.

Bringing it into focus

Tonight I finally finished my political widget for 2020 with the races I intend to highlight. Nationally I have the Presidential race, of course, with those who will be on the ballot in Delaware. [I have spotted the Green Party this one; however, I may have to change Howie Hawkins to a write-in if they indeed don’t make the ballot – they were right on the bubble last I saw.)

The biggest amount of work I had was the Senate race, although the Governor’s race was a surprisingly close second. In both instances, not everyone has a website as some simply get by with a social media page – and are lucky to get 1% of the vote.

Indeed, we will have the largest GOP primary field for governor in the state’s relatively brief history of primaries – the most I found in my limited research was three, and this time we have a half-dozen thanks to Scott Walker’s late entry. He is one of two of those perennial candidates, the type I’m familiar with from Maryland thanks to their comparatively lax threshold for getting on a party ballot. It’s not quite “alive and breathing” but it’s not that far off, either. Walker and David Graham are serial candidates, although neither has always run as a Republican.

With businessman Neil Shea formally withdrawing on Thursday, the two outsiders are attorney Julianne Murray and business owner David Bosco, who was actually the first one of the remaining six to formally file after Shea got the ball rolling in late May. Add in the two sitting State Senators able to run from cover this time around (Colin Bonini and Bryant Richardson) and it’s a race where any of them would kill for 40% because that is likely sufficient. (In six-way Democrat primaries four years ago, Lisa Blunt Rochester won with 43% to 25% for her nearest competitor and Bethany Hall-Long prevailed with 29% to 22% for second place. So first to 40 almost definitely wins and 35 may be enough.) Right now Bonini would probably be the favorite simply based on name ID but he’s also lost statewide twice so one of the new faces may be a surprise winner.

By the same token, the Democrat primary is also worth watching because John Carney has a primary challenger from his left (just like U.S. Senator Chris Coons does.) There’s little doubt Carney will win, but a showing of 25-30% from the challenger would mean Carney’s support would be soft among progressives or could be construed as a protest vote against his draconian rule during the pandemic. I think the latter would be more true if the Democrat turnout was much lighter than the GOP’s or Carney’s race was significantly undervoted compared to the other statewide races. (This also applies to the Coons race.)

The U.S. Senate and House races are rather “meh” compared to the battle for governor. There are only two contenders on the Republican side for both House and Senate, and they both pit multi-time losers against fresh faces which have their own baggage. It’s actually possible that both members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation would have jail time on their resumes, although both claim to have been humbled by the experience. Both these races are older men against younger candidates roughly half their age – one a photogenic woman and the other a Log Cabin Republican.

Aside from that, the statewide ballot will be rather light in September. Primary voters will see a race for Insurance Commissioner on the Democrat side, but that’s it. On a local level, there is only one race for a Delaware General Assembly seat from Sussex County and that’s not decided until November. Out of ten possible contests, only one will be elected by other than acclamation.

Now that my field is pretty much locked in, my weekend project is to put the final bow on this session’s monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition and begin working on a dossier series similar to those I’ve done in previous years. For those new to the website, the idea for the dossiers is to take topics of my choosing that I deem most important and take a deep dive into the candidate’s stance on them. (This includes asking them directly.) Each topic is assigned a point value and each candidate is given points based on how closely they fit my ideal, with the winner getting my endorsement. (They don’t get my primary vote because I’m still in the Constitution Party.)

To begin the series, I’m going to lay out one ground rule: the first round through the topics will focus solely on the GOP candidates. I don’t have to worry about the IPOD or Libertarians until after the primary and the Democrats won’t score well with me anyway, so there’s no need for me to score Carney vs. Williams or Coons vs. Scarane. Doesn’t matter which of them win because they’re Lenin to me.

Here are the proposed topics for the 2020 races. If you were here in 2016, these will sound familiar for the federal races:

Federal races: Education, Second Amendment, Energy, Social Issues, Trade and Job Creation, Taxation, Immigration, Foreign Policy, Entitlements, Role of Government, and Intangibles. (Intangibles is sort of a catch-all of other stuff.)

Governor: Agriculture/Environment, Transportation, Social Issues, Law Enforcement/Judicial, Education, Second Amendment, Job Creation, Taxation, Role of Government, Intangibles. Notice the order shifts around somewhat at the state level.

Once I get the mAP up next week, I’ll begin posting my dossier series. It’s going to be a busy couple months here at monoblogue.

Odds and ends number 97

You know, I figured just as soon as I put old number 96 to bed that my e-mail box would fill up with interesting tidbits, so it wouldn’t be nearly as long before I got to number 97. So let’s see what I have here.

A look at theology

People tend to think of Erick Erickson as just a radio personality and pundit, but it’s not as well known that he’s studied divinity. So when he talks about religion it makes my ears perk up, and this recent column of his was one of those times.

Christians need to be preaching Jesus, not Christianity. We need to preach about the end and the return and the world made new. It is fantastical and supernatural and unbelievable for so many. But it is real and right and true and will give the hopeless hope.

Erick Erickson, “Groaning for Justice: The Theology of What is Happening”, June 25, 2020

It sounds a lot like my church. But it’s worth remembering that on one side is the world and on the other side is God, expressed in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I have a simplistic perspective about it all, but then again I came to the game later in life than a lot of other people so my flaws were more apparent.

I believe that when Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through him that He was absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the world better but there should always be that end goal in mind, too.

Is there any reason for college?

This may seem strange to say as an alumnus of Miami University, but insofar as career preparation I learned as much in a year of work as I did in securing my four-year degree. (However, I did manage to consume many “Gobblers” and adult beverages from various eating and drinking establishments around Oxford, Ohio, and I got to go see Division I sports for free. So there was that.)

By the same token, Victor Davis Hanson has toiled in the academic field for decades – yet he delivers a scathing critique of college life and educational achievement in 2020, 34 years after I walked away from Millett Hall with my diploma case in hand.

31 years later I was witness to a similar scene but under wildly different circumstances, as my wife received her bachelor’s degree from a nationally-recognized college after taking online courses tailored to the working world. For these folks, their campus was the Washington, D.C. area and beyond, and hundreds of them were in what was then the Verizon Center for their big day. They received their degrees after enduring a lifestyle of trying to juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities with their academics as opposed to being cloistered on a campus and shuttling between academic halls, student centers, and their dorms. That was my world in the mid-1980s as a snot-nosed kid from a small Ohio town.

Yet many kids still do the same thing I did four decades ago, and the problem with that approach is that it’s rapidly becoming an information silo. Kids learn a lot about things of little importance in real life then wonder why it bites them in the ass. I remember pounding the pavement for a job right out of college then finally taking something outside my field to tide me over – turns out I was there less than a month before I got the break I needed; then again I was in an avocation where there was demand in the real world so it finally needed my supply.

And my alma mater wonders why I ignore their pleas for alumni donations.

More from smart people

How this guy ever got to be governor of his state – and then re-elected – often mystifies me. IMHO he was really too smart for the job, and the same went for being President. I think Bobby Jindal could have been the next Calvin Coolidge, a President who exhibited admirable restraint of his powers and led the government to do the same.

Recently he penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner where he focused on some items he saw as long-term trends accelerated by the onset of the Wuhan flu. This one was the one that piqued my interest the most:

De-densification: Elevators, mass transit, and air-conditioned spaces, all critical components of urban living, will be rendered safe again one day. Yet, the nation’s most successful cities were already victims of their own success, with the rising cost of living pushing working families to the suburbs and exurbs. Workers are going to demand more flexible work arrangements and less time wasted commuting. Remote work and virtual meetings will allow many office workers to be productive in the exurbs and in the country. Wealthy families will join them with getaway homes, and companies will require less-dense and smaller offices. Smaller communities near urban centers will benefit and become more economically viable for their permanent residents. The economic efficiencies that have driven urbanization will still continue to be compelling, and first-tier cities especially will reinvent themselves and continue to attract immigrants and new businesses.

“How the COVID-19 pandemic will change us”, Bobby Jindal, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2020.

The initial push to the suburbs in the postwar era was fueled by the surge of new families looking for room to grow, coupled with the inexpensive cost of gasoline and car maintenance and expansion of highway construction allowing commuters to bypass mass transit. Suddenly small towns that were once on the outskirts of metro areas and surrounded by cornfields became the loose center of dozens of subdivisions looped together by beltway interstates surrounding the city core. My parents did this in spades, bypassing suburbia altogether to buy five rural acres for three active boys to play ball on and dealing with a half-hour or more commute.

Being in the design world, I’ve seen the push for a new urbanism. For example, in nearby Salisbury their mayor Jake Day has pushed for a new style of downtown revitalization, attempting to bring in mixed-use development accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Surface parking on city-owned lots downtown is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as lots are sold to developers.

Fortunately for Day, Salisbury is still a small enough city that it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and others which have seen their urban core rot away from a toxic combination of crime, poverty, and lack of opportunity. It could yet go that way, or it could become a destination precisely because it’s been small enough to escape these issues – the sort of small town Jindal envisions succeeding thanks to the remote technology we now have.

But these urban escapees have another close-by alternative which is also retiree-friendly – if we don’t screw it up.

Picking too many losers

The state of Delaware lags the field in state-level GDP growth these days, one survey placing the First State last in the nation.

Perhaps a reason for this, argues the group A Better Delaware, is that our state government is terrible at determining winners and losers. As it has often turned out, the well-connected are the winners and taxpayers are the losers, and the group goes through some examples in this recent piece.

As I see it, job creation is about filling needs. An entrepreneur sees a market void and figures out a way to fill it, then once that venture is a go he or she may find the work is too much for one person to handle. Suddenly they’re signing the front of a paycheck, and the measure of a business-friendly state is just how easily that employer can get to that point without feeling violated from the anal rape of a corrupt system installed to grease the palms of a thousand bureaucrats. Somehow Delaware seems to believe that making life easier for those who promise scores of jobs without figuring out the market void is a good thing to do. I tend to like my strategy better.

The library

I was recently introduced to an interesting website in a unique way: one of its employees requested to purchase a paper copy of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. So I autographed it and sent it to Tennessee for his enjoyment. (By the way, I have several more available.)

So while Ammo.com sells – as you may guess – many different varieties of ammunition, they also feature what’s called the Resistance Library: a collection of articles on many and varied topics. (Actually, the whole site is worth exploring.) The post my newfound friend was dying to share with me, though, was on “Policing for Profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a popular concept with the “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” crowd; the same ones who shout “blue lives matter!” (And they do, but so does the law.) In reading this lengthy, well-written treatise on the subject I found out that Delaware is a state which is one of the worst in that regard.

And civil asset forfeiture laws are difficult to change because there are two large lobbies already stacked against these efforts: law enforcement and local government. Imagine what $200,000 seized could do for a local government’s bottom line when they may spend $2 million on a police department annually. Never mind it’s not their property and they have only suspicion that it was gathered illegally. It’s like crack cocaine to an addict: wrongly or not, they can’t pass it up. We need to send our state to a proverbial NA meeting next year when the General Assembly reconvenes.

More bad advice

I like to end on a light-hearted note when I can, and what better way than to poke fun at those who tell me how to run this place?

Hello monoblogue.us team:

As you know because of Global pandemic, the world has shut down and a big question mark on sustainability of business.

We are connecting the business owner to create a high standard for their business website and marketing strategy. To start this, we recommend to upgrade the website to more customer friendly.

If you have same idea in your mind, Let’s discuss about redesign of your website in economic cost.

A really badly written e-mail.

I can’t decide whether this came from China, India, or some other third-world country where English is taught as a second language. (In this case, maybe third.)

Fortunately, I didn’t shut down during the pandemic. Now I won’t say that I was terribly productive during the time span, but the college degree I alluded to way above led me to a job deemed “essential” so I have been working my usual full-time hours. Even so, I sustain into my fifteenth year of this site. (I even outlasted Red Maryland.)

My site is not really a business site, but I do have a marketing strategy: write good sh*t. It’s even customer-friendly because I kept out the offending letter.

And, in case this guy missed it, I redesigned my website a couple years ago, finally retiring old “Black Lucas” after nearly a decade of service. I still miss that theme sometimes but I like the back end that goes with the current “Twenty Sixteen” theme much better.

So I think I have flogged the dead horse of my inbox enough for one visit. I didn’t even get to the silliness that’s the Delaware governor’s race, but maybe I’ll hold onto that for a standalone post after all.

Programming note

Once we clear the filing deadline this coming Tuesday I’m going to add my Delaware political sidebar with all the primary and general election candidates and then the following Monday or Tuesday release the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition. The delay is because I have to determine whether the legislators involved get a free ride in November or not.

Because the Delaware session was truncated this year, I decided to simply amend the 2019 edition to use four votes this year and drop the least impactful four votes from last year to maintain 25 separate votes. You’ll see what I mean when I put it up later this month.

DelGov: Shea withdraws, throws backing to Murray

The race for Delaware governor got a little less crowded today as GOP aspirant Neil Shea, “with a heavy heart,” announced he was leaving. In a social media post, Shea stated:

It is with a heavy heart and due to unforeseen circumstances, I have to withdraw from my campaign for the Governor. This has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life and watching so many people get involved gives me faith in our future for Delaware. Now is the time for more young people to step up and get involved in politics to preserve their destinies down the road. The division that has grown between friends, neighbors and families needs to be corrected in a way that we can spread some message of joy. Remember, tough times don’t last – but tough people do. Thank you all for your support, God bless you.

Neil Shea, July 1, 2020

In a later response to comments, Shea said of fellow contestant Julianne Murray, “Very very bright and has a great plan.”

Back in May Shea was the first to officially file as a Republican challenger to incumbent governor John Carney, who has drawn fire from the business community about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Delaware is one of the slower states to emerge from the self-imposed shutdown, a state of emergency first declared by Carney back in March and extended on a monthly basis since. Since then, in order of filing, the GOP race has drawn businessman David Bosco of Greenwood, state Senator Bryant Richardson of Seaford, and attorney Julianne Murray, also of Seaford. Recently state Senator Colin Bonini of Camden-Wyoming announced his entry, but he has yet to file with less than two weeks remaining before the July 14 deadline.

Shea’s departure changes the race in two ways: he was the only Republican candidate in the race from vote-rich New Castle County, and it leaves two non-politicians in the race against two current officeholders. Neil was also part of a trio of Millennials making their first bid for public office in a statewide race; along with U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke and U.S. House hopeful Matthew Morris, this year’s GOP race has drawn new, younger faces.

Arguably, Shea was the leader in gaining name recognition besides Senator Bonini. He was definitely a contender for the nomination, with a platform stressing the reopening of the state after the Wuhan flu peaked. Hopefully he will remain as a voice in the campaign.

With four entries remaining, it’s the most crowded Delaware GOP gubernatorial primary in years, if not ever. We’ll see if any others shake out before the primary.

Dealing with the District

Recently Congressional Democrats used their majority to pass a bill that has zero chance of becoming law this year. That happens all the time in Congress, but in this case the proposed law would be a direct violation of the Constitution.

In Article I, Section 8, one of the duties of Congress was enumerated thus:

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 8

This is how we got the District of Columbia, which was ceded initially by Maryland and Virginia to overlook the Potomac River. In the mid-1800s Virginia received its portion back, most of which is now Arlington City and County. (Needless to say, it also holds Arlington National Cemetery as well as the Pentagon.)

Because it is a district and not a state, the people who live there do not have voting representation in Congress. (For many years, however, they have had a Delegate who can sit on committees; their current Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is the chair of a subcommittee.)

Over the years, there have been calls to give the District statehood. There are generally led by Democrats who know that the District would be the first majority-minority state and would be a reliable one liberal vote in the House and (more importantly) two Democrat votes in the Senate. (It’s the same reason they want Puerto Rico as a state even though it really has little in common with the rest of the nation.) Back in the early 1980s they even tried to change the Constitution, but that went nowhere.

This most recent push came with this argument by the Astroturf folks at Indivisible:

A historically-Black city, D.C.’s lack of statehood is a remnant of Reconstruction when racist white politicians sought to prevent the District’s majority-Black residents from gaining political power. GOP Senators are echoing this history even now, and have made it clear that this bill will die in the Senate. A popular GOP talking point is that D.C. statehood is unconstitutional, but we know their opposition is politically and racially motivated…

It makes sense that (President) Trump and the GOP wouldn’t want to risk more opposition in the Senate — a disenfranchised D.C. is easier to control and manipulate. Unlike anywhere else in the country, Congress approves D.C.’s budget and can even override local laws passed by D.C. residents and its actual elected local officials. That includes denying D.C. the right to spend its own local funds on reproductive health care for low-income people, denying the District’s efforts to legalize marijuana, forcing a failing public school voucher program onto residents, and attempting to overturn D.C.’s Death with Dignity law.

“D.C. Statehood is a commitment to racial justice”, Indivisible, June 23, 2020.

So go back and read the Constitution: Congress is to “exercise exclusive Legislation” over the area. That means it has the right to deny the District spending funds on abortion, keep pot illegal, or sustaining school choice to benefit low-income residents.

Being from this part of the world, I see a lot of cars from the District and many of them sport license plates with the tagline “Taxation Without Representation.” Well, that may be true but, because of the Constitution, making them a state is not an answer. (Don’t you love how the progressives call the Constitution a “talking point?” And, by the way, for much of the last century the District was NOT majority black, nor is it today. However, it is majority people of color, including Asians and Hispanics.) The real answer already has precedent from over 150 years ago, before the Civil War: allow Maryland to retrocede most of the remaining portion of the District.

If you leave out the White House, Capitol, Mall, and various government buildings to be the newly downsized District of Columbia – definitely less than ten miles square – this provides the remaining residents with representation not unlike that which they have now. At 705,746 new residents this change would swell Maryland to a population of nearly 7 million, allowing it to leapfrog Indiana in population rank and most likely pick up one seat in the House, bringing it to nine. Essentially, by population, the former District (which could be an entity much like Baltimore City in Maryland’s governmental structure) would pretty much be its own Congressional district.

It would also be a return to precedent in that, for the first 80 years or so of its creation, most of the portion of the District in question WAS considered part of Maryland for voting purposes.

In terms of Maryland state politics, the influx of voters would most likely – if the state remained at 47 Senators and 141 Delegates – mean the District would be represented by five or six State Senators and 16 to 17 Delegates, who would all almost certainly be Democrats. Would it be the end of the GOP in Maryland? Well, seeing what has passed for the last two spineless GOP governors in the state, there’s not much of a loss there. In reality, the re-slicing of the pie might make the net Maryland General Assembly loss be around 12 to 14 House Republicans and 4 or 5 from the Senate. Not quite Hawaii numbers (where the legislature there is 24-1 Democrat in the Senate and 46-5 Democrat in the House), but close.

So I’m sure my former Maryland friends would hate me for suggesting this idea, but if you’re a conservative in Maryland you’ve been screwed for the last 40 or more years anyway. Come here to Delaware and even out our population, where conservatives would have a fighting chance with enough Maryland refugees.

But it’s a sacrifice Maryland should make, because the District of Columbia should never become a state.