Catching up

I’m back from our honeymoon, and if you are plugged into social media as a friend of mine you’ve probably seen a few of our wedding photos. It didn’t exactly go as planned, but in the end I got what I wanted so now we can go boldly forward as a couple joined in the eyes of God (and the state.)

I want to again thank Cathy Keim for providing the content while I was away, but I should have let her know she was also free to moderate comments while I was gone. So last night I moderated a number of interesting responses to her post on Friday regarding the hidden perk Democrats are enjoying with regard to the Electoral College. Reader “kohler” wrote a series of posts that made several claims about the National Popular Vote movement, some of which I’ll address as you read on:

  • The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

This is true to a great extent; however, that in and of itself is no reason to change the system. The Electoral College itself was formed so that smaller, rural states had some influence in the Presidential selection process – even back in Colonial days it was true that the population of states like Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island were dwarfed by Virginia and Pennsylvania. There has never been a level playing field, but in the days of favorite son candidates it’s no wonder Virginia had many early Presidents and Delaware has had none.

  • One-sixth of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities, and they voted 63% Democratic in 2004. One-sixth lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and rural America voted 60% Republican. The remaining four-sixths live in the suburbs, which divide almost exactly equally.

It’s worth pointing out that a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) extends well beyond the city limits, and MSAs comprise more than the top 100 cities as they include counties of over 100,000 people not included in a larger MSA. (For example, Salisbury is its own MSA which includes not just Wicomico County but Somerset and Worcester counties in Maryland and Sussex County, Delaware.)

So covering the one-sixth that doesn’t live in an MSA is much more difficult from a media standpoint, although having the internet makes it somewhat easier.

Yet being in our little Republican-leaning MSA doesn’t mean we aren’t swamped at the ballot box by those in the I-95 corridor whether inside the Beltway, in Baltimore, or in Wilmington. Moreover, by cherry-picking the 2004 election (where George W. Bush was re-elected with a slim outright majority) they conveniently ignore the much higher Democratic percentages in 2008 and 2012, which would defeat their argument that rural and urban are balanced.

  • Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states, like Maryland, that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

Do you honestly believe this? As stated above, over 80 percent of the nation lives within a MSA. And using the top 100 cities as a population example is deceiving because in many cases those who live within the city limits are a minority within their county. Here in Maryland, Baltimore City is smaller than Baltimore County (not to mention the other surrounding counties) and the District of Columbia is dwarfed by just Montgomery and Prince George’s counties here in Maryland, not to mention Virginia’s contribution to the Capital region.

Instead of battleground states – which in truth tend to be those with fairly equal rural and urban populations, not dominated by one city – under NPV would-be Presidential candidates would focus strictly on the largest population centers. Those in “flyover country” would continue to be ignored.

  • The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

These are the states which have enacted NPV: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Notice anything in common among these states?

The NPV movement has advanced the furthest among states with the heaviest concentrations of Democrats, with many of these states featuring one or two dominant urban areas which reign at the expense of their rural denizens. These eleven are among 19 states which have gone Democratic in each of the last six Presidential elections, the others being Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

  • An election for President based on the nationwide popular vote would eliminate the Democrat’s advantage arising from the uneven distribution of non-citizens.

Instead it would just ramp up the total number of votes because it’s all but certain at least a few of these non-citizens have been placed on the voting rolls - I’m sure it was all an accident, of course. And why do I suspect the NPV compact would be ignored if we ever had a situation where the Democrat lost the national popular vote but was in a position to win the Electoral College vote based on how these individual states voted? There is NO WAY Maryland would allow a Republican President to win if the Democrat won the vote here, so if you thought the Bush vs. Gore controversy in 2000 was bad just wait for all the court cases that will come up in a situation like that.

It also should be noted that there is a bill in the General Assembly to repeal the state’s participation in the NPV compact (HB53) but don’t expect much from it: every year since 2009, Delegate Tony O’Donnell has introduced it only to see it lose on a strict party-line vote in the Ways and Means Committee. Shamefully, since 2011 he’s had no co-sponsors for the bill, either.

But I think there’s a better idea out there, and we have a young man locally who is making such a proposal. In the coming months I’ll go into the subject with more detail but suffice to say it’s an idea that may make all the states battleground states while maintaining the Electoral College and giving all citizens more of a voice in the Presidential election process. I’ll leave it at that for now but in the meantime I think it’s time to scrap the NPV movement because the last I checked we were still a republic as long as we could keep it.

And keep it we must.

Using humor to make your case

February 7, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comment 

By Cathy Keim

“Laughter is an instant vacation.”

Milton Berle

In my previous post on propaganda, Stella Morabito stated that good comedy and satire are two of the more important remedies to debunk propaganda. Evan Sayet, a conservative comedian and author, was the next speaker and he explained how to use humor to win the discussion.

This is not an easy topic for me because I am the person that always mangles the punch line of the joke. Evan refused to let anybody off the hook with that excuse. He said that you can learn to use humor so get to work. A professional like himself has to have new material constantly, but for our purposes old jokes are fine. Sayet added that we should treat it like a job and to keep a file of jokes – if you hear a good joke, put it in your file.

Conservatives are serious people that want to transmit serious ideas so they do not think that humor is appropriate because it will undermine the subject. Evan counters that humor is just another way of delivering information and one that can be very memorable.

Those on the right are also often portrayed as dour, inhuman Nazi types. The fastest way to break that stereotype is to make people laugh, and it can allow you to advance your narrative. For example, this joke from the Cold War era (an old joke) illustrates the scarcity of goods in the Communist countries, but it is done with a smile.

An old man was standing outside a grocery store in East Germany with an empty shopping bag. He couldn’t remember if he had already done his shopping!

Evan contends that modern liberals’ mental development is halted at age five when they enter kindergarten. From then on they are rewarded for conforming, so they never mature. They possess knowledge but reject it, and think that everything you “think” is a reflection of your bigotry. Discriminating thought is a bad word to them, so use humor to advance your narrative in a memorable way.

Every speaker must know their audience, so you must choose your message to suit it. Here Evan gave an example from when he was doing a tour entertaining troops along the Pacific Rim. He was the headline comedian, but there was a young lady before his act who did not adjust hers to fit her audience. She was speaking to troops who were either coming out of the fighting or heading into the fighting.

She would close her segment with several minutes detailing her fight with cancer, so Evan said that he used that to start his act. He would open by saying, “It is very brave of Debbie to share about her battle with cancer. I am a cancer survivor also.” At this point the crowd would flinch since she had not been funny and now the headliner was not being funny, until he delivered the punch line. “I married a woman born in July.”

Evan has a plan to retake America, one he calls Adopt-a-Democrat. Each conservative needs to find one Democrat so that they can tell them truth gradually. Say your Adopt-a-Democrat friend complains about prices: You respond with yes; the Obama economy is terrible. Remember to smile and act happy, and don’t drag others down. You don’t have to win every argument, just treat them like children and use teachable moments.

For instance, here is a teachable moment and a joke that I stole – so feel free to steal it from me. If somebody laments that the national debt just hit the $19 trillion mark, you can say:

“I love to go to Washington – if only to be near my money.”

Bob Hope

The liberals own the media, but we own the truth. Conservatives must articulate our ideas in a memorable, pleasant way. Evan wears a circular white lapel pin with a single black dot in the center. When people ask what it stands for, he replies: “Remember when Obama said you could keep your health insurance, period? That is the period!”

He addressed microaggressions as conditioned emotional responses because the liberals are surrounded by one world view. If they are exposed to other views they are distressed. I must admit that at this point I wondered if humor could break through to a poor dear that is so overcome with trauma by being exposed to an alternate view that they must flee to a safe space.

This is political correctness being used to control people to the point that they cannot even function. The poor dears are separated from one another by their fear of expressing their feelings and their anger is cultivated to turn them against anyone who challenges their accepted dogma.

Evan encourages us to take the time to learn to use humor. It is work, but it is our best method to be able to persuade a liberal to hear our point of view.

As Bob Hope once said, “You can always tell when a man’s well-informed. His views are pretty much like yours.”

A hidden perk

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Cathy will be delivering the content this weekend while I take a little personal time off. By the way, Sunday will be her first anniversary as a co-author.

I received a “Help Save Maryland” newsletter from Brad Botwin the other day. I read through it and one comment about the illegal immigrant population caught my eye. Most people that worry about voter integrity are concerned that illegal immigrants are voting in our elections. But what if the illegal immigrant population decides the next presidential election without even casting individual votes?

Let’s go back to a quick review of the Electoral College. The Electoral College was put into place to keep the more heavily populated areas in the country from dominating the more rural areas.

Each state receives their number of electoral votes based on their representation in Congress; thus, every state receives two electoral votes for their two Senators. The remainder of their electoral votes are determined by the number of Congressmen they have, which means the minimum number of electoral votes that a state receives is three: two for its Senators and at least one for its Congressman. Being a small state, our neighbors to the north in Delaware only have one at-large Congressman so they get three votes.

Additionally, the District of Columbia is guaranteed the same number as the least populous state (Wyoming in the 2010 census) so the District gets three electoral votes, too.

Every state has two Senators for 100 electoral votes and the District of Columbia receives three electoral votes, so the remaining 435 electoral votes are based on Congressional seats. Every ten years after the census, the Congressional seats are apportioned according to population; however, this is not based on legal population or citizens’ population. The census counts everybody.

So illegal immigrants are counted in the census and their population is then used to apportion Congressional seats. Those Congressional seats each come with one Electoral College vote.

The 435 Congressional districts plus 100 Senators plus three for DC equals the 538 total electoral votes which will decide our next President. The winner will need a majority, or 270 Electoral College votes.

Because of the way the census is conducted, the states with larger numbers of illegal immigrants gain extra seats in Congress at the expense of the states with fewer illegal immigrants. If you were to remove the illegal immigrants from the census and only count citizens, then states like California would lose congressional seats and those seats would be reapportioned to other states. Paul Goldman and Mark J. Rozell noted this last year in Politico:

This math gives strongly Democratic states an unfair edge in the Electoral College. Using citizen-only population statistics, American University scholar Leonard Steinhorn projects California would lose five House seats and therefore five electoral votes. New York and Washington would lose one seat, and thus one electoral vote apiece. These three states, which have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats over the latest six presidential elections, would lose seven electoral votes altogether. The GOP’s path to victory, by contrast, depends on states that would lose a mere three electoral votes in total. Republican stronghold Texas would lose two House seats and therefore two electoral votes. Florida, which Republicans must win to reclaim the presidency, loses one seat and thus one electoral vote.

But that leaves the electoral math only half done. The 10 House seats taken away from these states would then need to be reallocated to states with relatively small numbers of noncitizens. The following ten states, the bulk of which lean Republican, would likely gain one House seat and thus one additional electoral vote: Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Once all the accounting is done, the authors state that the GOP would gain a net four electoral votes if the illegal immigrants were not counted in the census. Remember that Al Gore lost the presidency in 2000 by only three electoral votes despite having the most votes.

The Politico article goes on to consider whether getting rid of the Electoral College is the remedy for this problem, although that could not be done before the election this year. Perhaps a better solution would be to not have millions of illegal immigrants residing in the USA.

The fact that we do have millions of illegal immigrants here points to the fact that our government has chosen to allow this for reasons which they decline to reveal to the American citizen. We can deduce that cheap labor is one of the obvious reasons. Another could be that there is always a push to legalize them and then they would be added onto the voting rolls and mostly on the Democrat side. Even if they never achieve citizenship, their children which are born here are citizens and they have also been shown to predominately lean Democrat.

You might say that the Electoral College advantage is just one more built in perk to a corrupted immigration system that favors the Democrat Party.

A trio of events

Before I step aside for a few days, there are some things I’ve been meaning to push. I’ll do these in chronological order of occurrence.

I had wondered when the First District challenger would have an event in Salisbury, but he has the uncharacteristic bad luck of picking the weekend I’m away (this Saturday) to do a combination townhall and fundraiser at two popular downtown venues. So I will just pass this on without additional comment, except for noting that the Roadie Joe’s event is $40 (or $30 if you’re wearing camo or hunter orange.)

Another would-be challenger is bringing one of the last stops on his three-day announcement tour to Salisbury University next Wednesday. SU is the penultimate stop on the tour for U.S. Senate candidate Dave Wallace, who will stop at Holloway Hall next Wednesday, February 10th, around 4 p.m. (His day will wrap up in Easton before returning the vehicle to the Western Shore.)

As his campaign’s advance person pointed out:

If you have owned or operated a business on the Eastern Shore, you know how hard it has been to work with all the new laws, regulations, fees and taxes. When did Senator Barbara Mikulski, our Democrat US Senator for 30 years, decide to work with Safran Labinal, one of Wicomico County’s largest companies, with more than 650 workers?  When they announced they were moving to Denton, Texas – a bit too late, don’t you think?  Have you wondered why Perdue AgriBusiness is planning to build their corporate offices in Delmar, DE? Could it be that Delaware is more business friendly?

Wallace will be the second candidate to announce in Salisbury, as Kathy Szeliga made a swing through town in November.

Finally, I took advantage of a rare weekday off to attend yesterday’s Republican Women of Wicomico monthly meeting. (Yes, there were three guys there, including speaker Muir Boda.) But they wanted me to pass along word of their Paint Night fundraiser on Thursday, February 11 at Brew River. It goes from 6 to 8 p.m. and the cost is $40. Men are invited and encouraged to both attend the fundraiser and be associate members of the group, said RWOW president Julie Brewington. (Associate membership is only $15, if I recall correctly, and they run a pretty good meeting.)

This should fill the political calendar pretty well.

So who will be the “none at all?”

To be quite honest I didn’t see the withdrawal of Rand Paul to be quite this soon, but the other day I noted in passing that Paul was among the bottom-feeders in both New Hampshire and South Carolina so once he performed poorly in Iowa there was really no need to move forward. His idea of trying to get 10,000 Iowa college students to caucus for him failed to the extent that he had a total of just 8,481 votes, drawing just 4.5% of the vote for a fifth-place finish (and one delegate.) And considering New Hampshire is the ground zero for the Free State Project – a group of libertarians who have vowed to move there to further their political activity in the state they determined was most conducive to their interests – you would have thought Paul, the most libertarian-leaning of the GOP candidates, would poll better than the measly 2 to 5 percent he was receiving in New Hampshire.  But he wasn’t, and his high-water mark there last summer was only in the 6% range.

(By the way, speaking of the Free State Project, they announced this morning that they have met their goal of 20,000 who pledge to move to the state, triggering a five-year clock for those who pledged to relocate. We’ll see how that does in the next half-decade.)

Meanwhile, Paul has a Democratic challenger for his Senate seat so he was surely getting pressure to abandon what was seeming to be a more and more futile quest for the Oval Office to protect a Republican Senate seat. (In the hopes his Presidential campaign would catch fire, Paul also managed to get Kentucky to have a Republican caucus in order to avoid having an issue with being on the ballot for two different offices, which is against state law.) His situation was different than the other Senators who are running (or have run): Ted Cruz isn’t up until 2018, Lindsey Graham was safe until 2020, and Marco Rubio declined re-election to the Senate to pursue his Presidential bid. (Among the names mentioned to replace Rubio was former Marylander Dan Bongino, who now lives in Florida.)

Yet there is a small but sufficient portion of the GOP that had as its motto, “Paul or none at all.” There was no other candidate they liked, so it remains to be seen how many will hold their nose and vote for the eventual GOP nominee, how many will migrate to the Libertarian candidate (odds are it will be former Republican aspirant Gary Johnson, who dropped out of the 2012 GOP field and became the Libertarian nominee later that year), and how many will just stay home. If the latter two numbers are too great, it obviously affects the Republicans’ hopes of getting back in the White House, but if the last number is high that could make Republican prospects of holding the Senate more unlikely as well.

Truth be told, I really liked Rand Paul as a candidate although I had a few reservations about his foreign policy. (On the domestic front he was nearly unbeatable.) Perhaps this is a good time for a reminder of my own level of support for these guys and how the field has shaken out since the process started last summer. Back at the end of September when I made my initial endorsement, the 17-person field had already lost Rick Perry and Scott Walker. Based on my level of support, this is how the race has elapsed:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki, Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham
  • Top tier (and these guys were miles ahead of the rest): Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal

Walker was being a disappointment and was trending toward the third or fourth tier, on the other hand Perry may have landed in my top five.

As you can see, I’m perilously close to holding my nose because the only one of my top five remaining is Ted Cruz. Yet those who support Paul don’t tend to like Cruz because they’re occasionally been rivals in the Senate and Cruz also has ties (both through his wife and financially) to Goldman Sachs - a bank libertarians love to hate. There are also those who question the whole “natural born citizen” aspect of Cruz’s (and Marco Rubio’s) candidacy, although that charge has been led mostly by supporters of Donald Trump.

Sadly, I suspect there really is a great number of Rand Paul supporters who will be the “none at all” contingent when it comes to November. When you have to pin your hopes on the equal disillusionment of Bernie Sanders supporters (who are bound to be hosed by the Clinton machine) it is worth wondering about the direction of this republic.

Update: As I was writing this, word came out that Rick Santorum is also suspending his campaign. Scratch another off the list.

So long to MOM and Huck

The lack of results in the Iowa caucuses have seen two candidates for President exit the race.

On the Democratic side, the rest of America found out what Marylanders already knew: in a race of any significance without Bob Ehrlich to beat up on, Martin O’Malley is a terrible candidate. Now the audition for being a running mate begins for O’Malley, who never had traction in the polls – the question is just who does he audition to?

So the good people of Iowa did the job Marylanders wouldn’t do and eliminated O’Malley from contention, just in time for him to strap the guitar back on for “O’Malley’s March” or whatever he calls that band.

Oddly enough, maybe bass player Mike Huckabee can call MOM up for a jam session since he no longer has a race to run either. While Huckabee had a great campaign in 2008, his “sell by” date obviously passed and the religious Right decided Ted Cruz and Ben Carson were more their style.

I said a few days ago that the bottom five in Iowa as polled were Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Huckabee, and John Kasich. The polls pegged them as the also-rans correctly, but I didn’t count Jim Gilmore, who “won” bigtime by getting 12 votes in a state he didn’t campaign in. As of the time I’m writing this, Rick Santorum is staying in by placing his hopes on South Carolina while Fiorina will doggedly continue in New Hampshire – a state where Christie and Kasich are expected to do far better than they did in Iowa.

So we will re-convene in New Hampshire next Tuesday and see how the field reacts. The question is whether Cruz or Marco Rubio can dent Donald Trump’s lead there now that we know The Donald is no longer invincible.

Helpful aid to democracy, or invitation to fraud?

I was alerted to a bill that was pre-filed regarding automatic voter registration for Marylanders, only to find that there are actually three up for consideration this year.

SB11, introduced by Senator Roger Manno of Montgomery County, and SB19, introduced by Senator Victor Ramirez of Prince George’s County, were both requested for pre-filing over the summer. While neither has been withdrawn, it appears that the two have joined forces with SB350 and gained 18 other co-sponsors from the liberal Democratic wing of the Maryland Senate.

Currently someone who wishes to register to vote has a number of options: most can do so online, although there is the route of doing so at the state MVA. However, this is an opt-in system and apparently it’s not good enough for those backing this bill as they want it to become an “opt-out” system where would-be voters would have 21 days to notify the state board that they do not want to be registered. Obviously these Democrats are counting on people to ignore the notice and be added to the voter rolls.

Those who favor “good government” and honest elections have their concerns about “opt-out” registration, but even more troubling is a proposal in Montgomery County to allow non-citizens and 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local school board elections. As it was passed by the county’s delegation, this proposed amendment to the Maryland Constitution will soon be introduced as legislation. The Maryland Voter Alliance has urged concerned citizens to help defeat this measure, stating that:

MC 25-16 must not be allowed to pass, as it will continue to muddy the rolls and flood the already-plagued system with additional ineligible individuals, particularly non-citizens and underage voters, which both are violations of state and federal law.

Of course, the proponents will protest that it’s only for local school board elections, but this is the camel’s nose under the tent for expanding the practice. Just imagine the uproar if we in the city of Salisbury passed a voter ID bill for city elections – you can bet your bottom dollar it would be taken to court by someone like the ACLU and groups from all over the country would become involved in our local issue. (Not that such a common-sense bill would pass our City Council or be supported by our mayor.)

Voting is a right, and I would love it if 100% of the population took the time to become informed on the issues and candidates and took the elections seriously. (If they did, I contend there wouldn’t be anyone left of center elected in the country.) But millions who are registered choose not to participate, and millions more have their reasons for not registering. If we get universal registration, what’s to stop the party in power from allocating the ballots of some of these voters who may not even be aware they are registered, casting votes in their name because they - and only they – know what’s good for them?

Yet if that doesn’t arrest the long-term decline in overall participation – a percentage that would only get worse with universal registration – the next step will be compulsory voting, with legal penalties for not participating. In other words, welcome to North Korea. I wonder who would win then? It sure wouldn’t be the supporters of limited government.

I suspect that these two pieces of legislation will be approved by the General Assembly, and it will be incumbent upon Governor Hogan to veto them. We have heard the discussion about this year being the session that lays the groundwork for the Democrats’ strategy to get “their” governor’s seat back in 2018, and one of these tactics was to make Hogan veto bills that Democrats can demagogue with certain voters. This would be one of them; however, he should still veto these bills.

The box we could be stuck in

After re-reading last night’s post, I think the time has come to explore a couple “what-if” scenarios. But first let’s consider the scene that is being set over the next couple weeks.

First, the prospect of severe winter weather may dampen turnout at the Iowa caucuses. The conventional wisdom is that this will hurt the Trump campaign the most and help Ted Cruz pad his margin of victory. Yet this assumption is based on the theories that Trump doesn’t have a significant “ground game” in Iowa; moreover, many of his supporters would be first-time caucus goers who could be intimidated by the lengthy process. The most recent samples of likely voters keep Trump in the 30-33% range (with Ted Cruz second at 23-27%) but if Trump turnout is soft Cruz can pull off the win.

However, if the polls stay valid in Iowa then Trump can win the first three contests as he holds 31% of the New Hampshire vote and 36% in South Carolina. It’s a demolition derby among the rest, but presumably half of the field will be gone by the time voters finish with South Carolina. The bottom five in Iowa are Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, and John Kasich, but in New Hampshire it’s Santorum, Huckabee, Rand Paul, Fiorina, and Ben Carson. Bottom-feeders in South Carolina are Santorum, Fiorina, Paul, Kasich, and Huckabee. Yet deducting just the three common names in the bottom five (Santorum, Huckabee, and Fiorina) only frees up 5.6% in Iowa, 4.9% in New Hampshire, and 4% in South Carolina, leading us into Super Tuesday (also known as the “SEC primary” since it’s mainly Southern states) on March 1. All these primaries are proportional, but come the middle of March we will begin to see the “winner-take-all” states come into play.

Bottom line: the longer some of these bottom-tier candidates hang on, the better chance we may see a candidate get the entire delegation with only 30 or 40 percent of the vote. It’s a scenario that favors a polarizing candidate like Donald Trump.

And if Trump gets the nomination, the Republicans will have quite the dilemma. Now I realize a number of people reading this are going to say the GOP deserves what they are getting, and to a great extent they are right. A little courage and leadership among more of our elected officials in Washington would have gone a long way in not upsetting the base voters who now support The Donald because they see him as a man of action, particularly on immigration and trade. These were both subjects the GOP chose to punt on, not wanting to risk alienating their most important constituency: the ruling class in Washington, D.C. So Donald Trump is a Frankenstein of the Republicans’ creation, they argue.

However, millions of Republicans may argue that Donald Trump would be the guy whose principles (or lack thereof) do not reflect the party’s brand to such an extent that they may decide to stay home from voting. And even if they begrudgingly hold their nose and select Trump, their dearth of enthusiasm will show up in a lack of willingness to take a yard sign, make phone calls, or otherwise do the little things that help a campaign win. While this situation is not good for the top of the ticket, it could spell the end of the GOP-controlled Senate we worked hard to gain in 2010 and 2014 – the former TEA Party wave is coming up for re-election in a Presidential year where turnout is higher. Despite their failings as a Senate, losing GOP control of it would be an unmitigated disaster for those who support liberty and limited government.

In 1992 I made the mistake of getting so mad at a Republican president for not sticking to his word that I voted for Ross Perot. Surely many of the millions who breathed life into the Reform Party for a time regretted it when Bill Clinton enacted his liberal agenda. (As proof: that coalition came back with a vengeance two years later in 1994 when Republicans took the House for the first time in four decades.)

But I may have a different reason for not voting for the GOP nominee in 2016. I have always deferred to the voters as far as their wisdom goes, and hopefully many thousands come to their senses before April 26 in Maryland. However, if they don’t, I have to admit that Trump is not the automatic selection that Dole, Bush 43, McCain, and Romney were despite the fact I supported none of them when I had a choice in the primary.

This may sound a little like hyperbole but I think a conservative direction beginning with this election is the only shot we have for survival as a nation – otherwise, we just tumble into the abyss Europe seems to be tottering into, just a decade or so behind them. I don’t like being a pessimist, but in doing this read option I see opposing defenders closing in all around me if I can’t make it to the daylight and open field of conservative governance. (A clunky football metaphor, but appropriate.)

Those who can’t stomach the thought of President Trump now hope against hope the game may soon be up; this elaborate ruse to attract attention eventually turns out to be reality TV fodder. But these people have said for the better part of a year that the bloom would soon be off the rose, yet we sit here days away from the Iowa caucuses and this political chameleon Donald J. Trump is leading the field both in the initial primary states and nationwide.

Perhaps the scariest thought to me, though, is that I’m used to Presidential candidates running right in the primary and tacking toward the center for the general election. Since Donald Trump is already left-of-center on a number of issues, do you seriously think he will move rightward after the convention? We will be stuck with the same situation we faced with President Bush: for his more liberal “compassionate conservative” ideas, Republicans had to bite the bullet and support them anyway because who crosses the titular head of the party?

It may come down to where President Trump = President Hillary = President Sanders. The philosophies may be closer than you think.

The problem with The Donald

Most of the news cycle of the last three days or so has been about the Iowa Republican debate, but the conversation centered about who was not there. I don’t recall nearly as much ink about Rand Paul missing the previous debate because he finished just outside the cutoff for the prime-time affair and refused to be an opening act. Last night, those opening act players were Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum – the latter two then went to Donald Trump’s event set up to compete with the Fox news debate. (At least Gilmore was promoted to actually making a debate, so that’s progress for him.)

But this piece isn’t about the debate, but about something my friend Rick Manning wrote at NetRightDaily. In some respects it makes the same case I have been making about Trump all along.

A dealmaker by definition cuts deals, and Trump has by his own admission cut deals that used the government to serve his interests quite profitably. A dealmaker doesn’t stand on principle; instead, a dealmaker looks for common ground.

If the past seven years have taught me anything, it is that the Democrats are unrelenting in their pursuit of bigger, more expansive government, and the GOP consistently looks for common ground that is only partially disastrous, calling that a bipartisan win.

When Trump says he would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a government-paid healthcare system, I believe him, and that makes me very uneasy.

Not because of the policy difference, but rather because what the policy difference reveals. It reveals a man who accepts big government and would expand it if the right deal were on the table. It reveals that a Trump presidency may be completely unmoored from the constitutional, limited government perspective that has traditionally driven Republican candidates.

In my study of the issues there are a number of areas, such as entitlements, ethanol, and even his tax plan, where Trump is far from a limited-government conservative. I will grant that my idea of limiting government in the case of entitlements and ethanol would be to sunset the programs and subsidies entirely over time, but part of that is not recalling just where in the Constitution it specified that the federal government had a role in retirement, supplying medical care, or propping up the fortunes of grain farmers. As far as the tax plan goes, whenever I see the idea of cutting rates at the low end and “paying” for it with reducing deductions for the top earners I know that the trust fund babies will find new loopholes in short order, leaving the government short and those business people who see accounting as a necessary evil (after all, they have a business to run and not beans to count) getting the shaft. You all know I would prefer a consumption-based system.

So when it comes to the “art of the deal” who do you think Trump will compromise with? Certainly the Republicans have nothing of interest to him since he is “representing” that party in the White House, so his dealing and compromise will be with the Democrats who we already know will bite the arm off anyone reaching across the aisle. The middle ground between the left-of-center (on most domestic issues except for immigration) Trump and the foaming-at-the-mouth statist Democrats promises to be right about where Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would govern anyway. In the case of Trump Republicanism, there truly is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.

A lack of interest?

There are still a few days to the primary, but I’m using the occasion of Greg Holmes’s entry to the Republican U.S. Senate race and check how the field is shaping up. (And if you say “who?” you’re not alone – Holmes was one of the also-rans in 2014′s Fourth Congressional District primary.)

Having done this political thing for a few years, I know that there are usually 10 or so Republicans who run for U.S. Senate in any given cycle. My first election here was 2006, the year Michael Steele was the overwhelming choice of the state party (and accordingly won 87 percent of the vote.) Despite that, there were 10 people on the GOP primary ballot, nine of whom split the other 13 percent of the vote. (With an open seat, that was a scrum on the Democratic side – they had 18 running.)

As of this writing, though, we are only at eight running on the GOP side and Holmes would be nine – so we should be in the ballpark for an average election. On the other hand, the open seat on the Democratic side isn’t bringing out nearly as many – just nine have signed up for the Democrats, with at least four being the perennial candidates who rarely get more than 1% of the vote.

Of those nine Republicans, most have some sort of electoral history: Holmes and John Graziani both ran for the same Congressional seat in 2014, while Dave Wallace was the Republican nominee against Democrat Chris Van Hollen that same year. Richard Douglas was a Senate candidate in 2012 and Richard Shawver was in 2006, but Kathy Szeliga is the only one who’s won a legislative position as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly. It appears Chrys Kefalas, Lynn Richardson, and Anthony Seda are first-time candidates.

So while Szeliga probably has the greatest name recognition, followed by Douglas, it is a relatively wide open race. If someone were to do favorability numbers on the GOP side right now, I doubt any one of the candidates would be over 20% favorable, with the vast majority saying “never heard of them.” I myself didn’t know many of these people were in the race until I looked tonight.

Meanwhile, in looking at our First District, it’s still a four-person race on the GOP side where incumbent Andy Harris is joined by 2014 challenger Jonathan Goff, first-time candidate Sean Jackson, and former Delegate Mike Smigiel. Jim Ireton hasn’t filed yet, so Joe Werner (who ran for the seat in 2008) is the only candidate so far on the Democratic side.

I think there will be between one and three more in each of the aforementioned races by the time Wednesday’s filing deadline expires. But I am sort of surprised that we’re not seeing as many candidates up and down the ballot this year.

Ireton makes a splash

 

Photo credit: Ireton for Congress via Twitter

A comparatively modest gathering stood by Salisbury City Councilman (and former mayor) Jim Ireton as he embarked on his quest to unseat current Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s First Congressional District. And his opening salvo naturally was critical of the incumbent:

I’m here (in Crisfield) today because the 1st District needs a Congressman who won’t just say no and vote no. In just 6 years in Washington, Andy Harris has done nothing for the people of the 1st District.

Crisfield, the southernmost city in Maryland, was chosen by Ireton because it was hit hard in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, with Ireton contending it has not recovered. Jim chastised the incumbent because “he voted against $9.7 billion in hurricane relief.”

So I did a little research. It turns out the $9.7 billion bill Harris voted against was a measure to extend the borrowing authority for FEMA. Harris later voted against the overall supplemental appropriations bill but supported a substitute which would have offset $17 billion in approved aid by making other cuts (making it budget-neutral.) He ended up voting for a different appropriations bill that improved the original but did not clear the Senate. You may recall many were concerned about the budgetary impact in that era of sequestration.

Ireton went on about how Harris doesn’t support farmers and voted multiple times to repeal Obamacare before stepping boldly into Jim Crow territory.

He wants to return us to the days of insurance companies legally discriminating against Americans. Just like landlords in the 1950s could tell a black family no, and do so legally, Andy Harris wants to give insurance companies the legal right to say no to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

I think Jim forgets that insurance companies are like any other business as they need to be profitable to survive. Then again, that can be expected of a mayor who enacted the “rain tax” in Salisbury and decided landlords shouldn’t charge what he considered excessive rent.

And in the department of “it takes two to tango”:

From here on, it’s going to get ugly – Andy Harris will make sure of that. He will attack me as a person, and attack the issues you care about. He will issue dire warnings about taxes, even though I have a record of cutting fees as the mayor of Salisbury. He will issue dire warnings about crime, even though Salisbury’s Part I Violent Crimes dropped every year I was in office, and dropped almost 50% over my 6 years as mayor. He will try and scare farmers, even though the Wicomico River is now healthier than it’s been in decades due to the work of the city while I was in office.  And I can only imagine what he will make up to say about me personally. (Emphasis mine.)

I noted back in October when the rent stabilization program was bounced out of City Council that Ireton is in a catbird seat of sorts. During the next 9 1/2 months, assuming he wins the primary – and he is the prohibitive favorite given the field – Ireton can take credit for all of the city’s successes by saying that he initiated them as mayor, yet any failures will see Jake Day thrust in front of the nearest Shore Transit vehicle. I figured that Jim was simply using the office to cool his heels for a later political run, but my error was in assuming that he’d have the decency to at least wait until the results became official before jumping into his next campaign, not spill the beans on election night. (Had he upset just 33 of his prospective voters enough to make them change their minds. he would have had a lot more time to run.)

Harris now has a challenge from both the Democrat and Republican sides, with both being uncommonly well-known entities. It’s the first time he’s had elected officials against him since he took office in 2011. And it already is ugly with push polls and charges of not doing his job, so we’re already on the glide path to a nasty campaign.

A tale of due diligence (with a lack of cooperation)

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

I have never met Ann Miller in person, but I have exchanged emails with her and I have read her columns in the Baltimore County Republican Examiner. She has always been cordial when I have requested information from her about educational issues.

Ann is a parent who has given a huge amount of time and effort to fighting Common Core and PARCC. Even with that being known, Governor Hogan appointed her to the Baltimore County Board of Education and she was sworn in last month for a three-year term. Before she could even be sworn in, there were complaints that she was too narrow minded to be on the school board and appeals to Governor Hogan to reconsider Miller’s appointment. While Miller has one child remaining in public schools, she also has one in a private school and homeschools a third.

It is to Governor Hogan’s credit that he did not rescind his appointment under pressure. Anyone who is a fan of board members actually doing due diligence in fulfilling their duties will be impressed with Ann. Although she did not become an official member until this past December, she has been requesting information about the budget and the inner workings of the Baltimore County schools for months since her appointment. (Miller was appointed several months before her term actually began.)

A key issue she faces right away is that Dr. Dallas Dance, the superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools, is up for a four-year contract renewal. Miller wanted to review his term carefully before agreeing Dance should serve for another four years, so she compiled a list of performance-related items for her review and requested them from the Baltimore County Public Schools. And her wait began.

Since BCPS has not responded to her requests for information, she has now asked for the information under the Maryland Public Information Act. Here is the link to see her letter and what information she is requesting. The Sun has also placed its spin on it, noting that Miller would not agree to an interview unless they published her full letter – the Sun refused.

This battle is of interest to every taxpayer and parent in Maryland. Should the school system be accountable to its board and its taxpayers by allowing oversight of the huge sums of money that are spent annually? Where is the transparency that our politicians speak of so glowingly? More importantly: why is a board member, who is appointed to a position of public trust and accountability, having to file a Maryland Public Information Act request to gain access to the budget and information pertaining to the superintendent’s performance?

Would that more of our school board members would rock the boat and demand information rather than just renewing contracts and letting the machine roll along.

You will want to keep an eye on Ann Miller and the BCPS because I suspect that we will be seeing more articles in the Baltimore Sun about her. She is angering all the right people.

Michael’s observations: I have met Ann Miller years ago, and besides our common background as Examiners, I have come to realize she is very passionate about her children and their education. It seems to me that many of these same sort of complaints were levied when John Palmer, who is a stickler for fiscal accountability, was appointed to Wicomico County’s Board of Education. Ironically, our county finds itself in a similar position except we will be appointing a new superintendent as Dr. John Fredericksen is stepping down.

It may look like an exhaustive list that Miller is requesting; however, the district has been aware of it for several months so there really is no excuse. What are they trying to hide?

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    Maryland Primary Election will be April 26, 2016.

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