What is truth?

Originally I was going to have this post as part of an odds and ends post, but as I collected items and ideas I decided it needed to stand alone, as did a couple of the other pieces initially deemed an odd or end. I just need to write some longer pieces anyway and devote a little more space to them.

As you probably know, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s commentary when he combines religion and politics. A recent piece is a case in point.

Over the last several years, great harm has been done to the truth by President Trump, but also by a media that made everything about him and by partisans on both sides. It is not a one way street. It is the collapse of post-modern America into tribalism where all sides are more interested in narratives than facts or truth.

That collapse of truth has allowed conspiracists to fester and created a dangerous time for the church as both pastor and congregants leave the truth of Christ for the lies of the world. Gnosticism is on the rise wherein people believe if you read certain websites or listen to certain voices, you can get an insight into the world and a deeper knowledge of its surrounding than others. This is where Q comes from — a gnostic heresy whose adherents believe they have the inside scoop or a deeper knowledge. Churches need to focus on the Word and the gospel, not politics. Pastors who think Donald Trump will be President after tomorrow need to repent and probably need to leave their pulpits. Congregants who think this need to repent and leave politics and the news and spend time in the Word.

“Some Things Some of You Need to Hear,” Erick Erickson, January 20, 2021.

I have listened to a few of these preachers because their sermons were shared by various people I knew, and to a man they were certain that Donald Trump would somehow remain as President, with the congregation lapping these proclamations up. And while I believed there was a slim possibility the states would revisit their Electoral College results and toss out the fraudulent mail-in ballots, I also knew that opportunity withered away and dried out as the days of December dwindled and the Kraken remained bottled up. I still don’t believe Joe Biden won in a legitimate fashion, but unfortunately there’s no way to conclusively prove that since a lot of the evidence was destroyed.

But more importantly to this post, I believe Erickson has described the Qanon phenomenon to a T. On its surface, given our longstanding mistrust of politicians and the press, the whole preteen human trafficking angle they’ve pushed upon is somewhat believable. Every so often we hear about children freed from a human trafficking ring (here’s one case in point) and that feeds the narrative given our previous conditioning to believe all politicians on the opposing side are corrupt. Throw in the whole Jeffrey Epstein case and it fuels the fire.

When I first heard about Qanon, the story was it was a select few patriots in government who opposed the Deep State that came to Donald Trump as their chosen candidate to clean up the mess, so they engineered his election in 2016. (Which begs the question: why not 2012 when he considered running? Did they have someone else in mind at the time?) Speaking in cryptic riddles and open-ended questions, Qanon became a cottage industry for a select few pundits who purported to have their inside information for a rapt audience who thought they were smarter than the rest of us, I guess. To be quite honest, it was right on the edge of belief, like something that sounded crazy but that I couldn’t put past the powers that be.

But then the Qanon folks got sort of greedy. One story I heard was that this effort traced back to the days of JFK, which led me to ask myself just how this could have been kept from the public for a half-century until Donald Trump came along. Heck, Watergate got out and so did Monica’s blue dress so I don’t think a secret like that would be safe that long inside the Beltway. More importantly, though, everything they predicted never came to pass. We were supposed to have the Insurrection Act, followed by media blackouts, martial law, and mass arrests on a global scale, leading to the revelation of the “true” election results and Donald Trump sworn in for a second term. Guess what? None of that occurred – well, except for the media blackout, which I suppose falls into the blind squirrel category. (I’m sure the real hardcore Qanon believers blame Donald Trump for the cold feet when all this was supposed to occur.)

Yet millions of people believed it, including a lot of men of the cloth. That’s the part that bothers me, too, when you think about it. Let’s review what Erickson said:

Pastors who think Donald Trump will be President after tomorrow need to repent and probably need to leave their pulpits. Congregants who think this need to repent and leave politics and the news and spend time in the Word.

“Some Things Some of You Need to Hear,” Erick Erickson, January 20, 2021.

I will grant that there are some questions regarding religious freedom under Joe Biden. (Someone just happened to write on that for The Patriot Post, oddly enough.) But come tomorrow their church will still be open, congregants will still be coming in, and certain pastors will have some ‘splainin to do.

Donald Trump was (and may well be again in 2025) a very good president – I’d rank him second behind Reagan in my lifetime. But he should have never become a cult leader.

Reviewing the stand

After all that went down Wednesday afternoon, I needed a few days to clear my head from the information overload. (The odds and ends post that came up Thursday was actually written last weekend.)

What blew me away initially was the number of people attending – some accounts stated there were a million people there. Could be true, might not. Let’s say for the sake of my next few paragraphs there were a half-million.

I also want to preface those paragraphs by referencing a memory. Back in November 2009 I went to a Capitol Hill rally dubbed the “Emergency House Call” and as part of that I (and hundreds of others) traipsed through the various House office buildings – many of them visiting my representative at the time, the “blue dog” Democrat Frank Kratovil. But we didn’t visit inside the Capitol. (I’ve actually been in that building once, but as one of those “smelly tourists” Harry Reid used to complain about. It was back in the summer of 2009, as it turned out – that was a big year in my political activism.)

That “Emergency House Call” was probably the closest I’ve come to something like what some of the people did on Wednesday (minus the property damage, of course.) Yet let’s say 5,000 people ransacked the Capitol building – first of all, there were over 50 arrests (and counting, that I’m aware of) so even that subset of 1% of all protestors had its own violent subset of less than 2 percent.

(As an aside, I can’t deny that Richard Barrett, the grandfatherly protestor photographed sitting with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, reminds me of a old-aged Calvin. Maybe Hobbes was somewhere off camera.)

I certainly don’t want to say that these 0.2% of protestors were in the right, and certainly it seems that the most hardcore Trump backers have learned their lessons from the black bloc protestors that ran wild this summer. (Then again, the Capitol is still standing.) And while there are people who swear that Antifa was all over the violent part, the bios of those arrested seem to indicate otherwise. They represented the white supremacist side of incidents like the one we had in Charlottesville a few years ago.

I’m all for letting the long arm of the law deal with them; unfortunately it’s going to cost many of those people who were arrested their careers, even if they weren’t in the white supremacist category. (In particular, the legislator from West Virginia that resigned after livestreaming himself there.) It also cost Ashli Babbitt and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick their lives. (I don’t know if the other three who died in the overall protest died inside the Capitol or not.)

And it turned out to be for naught – in fact, any traction the cause may have received was reversed by the riot.

In the aftermath, it would seem that the era of Trump is going to be remembered for this and the pandemic as opposed to the strong economy and significant efforts at world peace it achieved with the Abraham Accords, and that’s a shame. Then again, that’s what a somewhat volatile New York personality and 90-plus percent negative coverage by the media will get you, I suppose.

Yet what worries me even more is the overreaction by Democrats and Big Tech. Impeachment with less than two weeks left in his term? Yeah, I get that impeachment and conviction would preclude Trump from running in 2024 but the Democrats have already figured out ways to rig the election so why worry? After all, the reason we got Trump in the first place was because the media could use him to gather eyeballs and he was going to be the candidate that would take the entire GOP down with him when Hillary was crowned empress in 2016. The media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) were happy to promote Donald Trump then because they thought he was the weakest GOP link. Guess again.

On the other hand, I have to admit the social media giants have the perfect right to yank whoever they want from their platform. It doesn’t mean they should on some trumped-up charge of encouraging an insurrection – people, if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians. Let’s just say their standard of enforcing terms of service seem a little arbitrary and capricious and leave it at that.

Finally, the wars and rumors of wars are getting intense. Has the Insurrection Act been implemented? How about that Executive Order? Anything out of the mainstream is now being micro-analyzed as evidence the Deep State is either beginning its takeover or being dismantled by the heroic Donald Trump, depending on who you talk to.

We still have 10 days until Donald Trump’s term comes to an end. Why do I believe it’s going to be a bumpy ride? Aside from that, I’m still not quite sure what to think about the events of the last two-plus months (yes, it has been that long since the election.) I guess I will just prepare as best I can for the worst and pray for the best.

Odds and ends number 101

And the next hundred begins…

As always, it’s a compilation of items requiring somewhere between a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. Think of it as bite-sized dollops of blogging goodness that serve to clean out my e-mail box.

On evidence and faith

While he can be maddening politically, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s treatises on religion. He made a brilliant argument regarding evidence and faith that I wanted to share.

It also bolsters a point about the origins of our nation, and the philosophy of those who founded it. We are several generations removed from the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, et. al. but we have enough empirical evidence and writings of theirs to believe that a) they existed, and b) they had a particular political philosophy in mind when they created our nation. It’s something that should be easy to interpret by any jurist willing to read and understand their words, as opposed to making things up as they go along.

Yet, as Erick points out in a subsequent post, it’s worth remembering that God’s got this.

The success of China

It’s not often that I discuss year-old information in a new light, but here’s a case where new info has made the story evergreen thanks to the discovery of a relationship between Rep. Eric Swalwell and a Chinese national, Fang “Christine” Fang. I certainly can’t argue with the premise of the author.

A recurring minor theme within this enterprise is the desire to bring more manufacturing and production back to America because, simply put, we couldn’t trust a nation-state which points missiles at us. Unfortunately, big business and big media love the potential of 1.4 billion up-and-coming customers more than the markets that made them successful. Now we may be saddled with a president who is essentially in Beijing’s pocket, which may be the death knell for American world dominance – and when it’s us against the world, we can only put up a fight for so long before we are worn down, sort of like the Axis powers in World War II or the Confederates against the Union in our War Between the States. Whether Donald Trump was the summer of 1942 for the former or the march to Gettysburg for the latter remains to be seen.

What I can tell you is that it seems China is indeed getting their money’s worth from our elites.

Thoughts on redistricting, and so forth

One rear-guard action available to Republicans at the state level is redistricting. While I personally want districts that are compact and contiguous, this can be achieved while reducing the Democrats’ oversized influence in certain states and regions. In 2020, the GOP gained control of a plurality when it came to drawing House districts.

On a corollary subject, J. Christian Adams makes a case that the election fraud wasn’t in the counting but the fists on the scale produced by scads of dark money “assisting” certain big-city boards of election in encouraging the vote to get out. His theory also “explains how the GOP was so successful everywhere… except at the top of the ticket.  A flood of blue votes gushing out of deep blue urban areas has a statewide effect only for statewide candidates. It doesn’t affect legislative races outside of the cities.”

He also opines, “In case you still don’t follow: Hundreds of millions of private charitable dollars flowed into key urban county election offices in battleground states. The same private philanthropic largess did not reach red counties. Urban counties were able to revolutionize government election offices into Joe Biden turnout machines.” Even if Trump received 20 percent of the black vote instead of 10 percent, the fact that 100,000 more blacks voted may have made him a loser. (Emphasis mine.)

But by not backing Trump, Sam Faddis believes the Republicans are heading the way of the Whigs. To the extent that Trump’s base represents a mixture of the TEA Party and populist elements in the country, this is true. But having to lean on Trumpism to achieve the conservative goal of limiting government is a precarious perch indeed.

A lack of juice

It’s a little bit maddening, this headlong rush by car makers to embrace electric car technology when the infrastructure to support it is slow in coming: unless you want to invest in a personal charging station, how useful is an electric car for a cross-country jaunt?

So I thought it was a bit funny when Elon Musk (you know, the guy who owns Tesla) said there wasn’t enough electrical capacity right now for a world full of electric cars. But when Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda chimed in, that caught people’s attention.

As I have said for many moons, there are two problems with the bulk of our “renewable” energy: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. And guess what they have to use for backup plants? Yep, natural gas, often extracted by that eeeeeeeevil practice of fracking. (Well, except in Maryland and other states stupid enough to throw away economic potential.)

We have plenty of oil and a robust infrastructure to get it where it needs to go – in my case it’s usually the RoFo I pass on the way to/from work, but in a pinch there’s another station a couple miles away in Sharptown. A few minutes to fill up and I’m good to go for another 300 miles or more.

On the other hand, I have to charge my cell phone a few hours overnight to keep it viable for the next day, day after day. And I want a car like that? No thanks.

A unique New Year’s resolution

Self-serving as it may be, my friends at Ammo.com had a good idea for a New Year’s resolution: start a gun club. As they say:

There’s never a bad time to start a gun club, but there are maybe better times than others. With an emerging global medical police state, the spectre of the most anti-Second Amendment administration in history hanging over the United States, and recurring left-wing riots, now is perhaps the ideal time to start thinking less in terms of gun rights exercised individually and more in terms of collective preparation.

“How to Build a Gun Club: A Guide to Organizing and Starting Your Own Local Gun Club”, Sam Jacobs, Ammo.com.

I will say, though: around here I think they make you jump through a lot of hoops. I recently worked on drawings for a gun club as part of my “real” job and it seemed like there were a lot of unnecessary roadblocks put in place for a building that was existing in a rural, out-of-the-way location. My thinking was that was simply because it was a gun club.

If you can’t build one, though, you can still join one. I had some fun the last time I stopped by a local gun range back in August, and it wasn’t just the hot and cold running politicians during Delaware’s primary season.

Maybe my resolution should be to better work on my Second Amendment rights.

The other resolution will be to keep collecting stuff for the 102nd rendition of odds and ends, coming sometime in the future if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

The frightening possibility: meet Kamala Harris, President of the United States Senate

Editor’s note: It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done one of these but since I trust this man implicitly on the subject I thought it was worth publication. Think of it as GO (guest opinion) Friday, the special Monday edition.

Guest opinion by Richard Douglas

Meet Kamala Harris: President of the United States Senate.

Republican members of Congress considering options in the face of an apparently-fraudulent Biden/Harris election victory ought to keep in mind another inevitable consequence of a Biden/Harris Administration: Kamala Harris as President of the United States Senate.

If former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris are inaugurated on January 20th, don’t be surprised to see Vice President Harris standing at the Senate door on January 21st demanding the presiding officer’s gavel. She would have a perfect right to it under Art I, Section 3, clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate ….”

The Senate’s Standing Rules are in accord, and were written on the apparent assumption that the Vice President would actually preside in the Senate more often than not: “In the absence of the Vice President, the Senate shall choose a President pro tempore …. (Rule I (1.) Appointment of a Senator to the Chair). In fact, to this day a Vice President’s Office is set aside just off the Senate floor.

During the first George W. Bush term (2001-2005), for two years the U.S. Senate was split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Vice President Dick Cheney was seen often in the Senate to break ties, the only circumstance where the Vice President may actually cast a Senate vote. But the limit on voting is no obstacle to taking the Senate presiding officer’s chair and gavel at will. Why haven’t Vice Presidents asserted the right to do this?

Several possible reasons occurred to me, based upon five years’ experience as a senior Senate lawyer, living and breathing Senate procedure.

First, it would not surprise me to learn that during the Gore and Biden vice presidencies, the Senate Democratic Caucus may not have wanted their former colleagues in the presiding officer’s chair. Neither Gore nor Biden ever served in the Senate Democratic leadership in spite of nearly a half century of Senate experience between them. Food for thought.

What else might account for the absence of our Vice Presidents from the Senate President’s chair? As I learned as treaty lawyer for the late Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina (who knew Senate procedure very well), many Senators — perhaps most — don’t understand the Senate’s Standing Rules or their own constitutional prerogatives. Exhibits A and B for the latter proposition are the Paris and Iran deals, which thoroughly trampled Senate treaty practice.

Perhaps Senators also fail to grasp the potential impact and authority of a Presiding Officer armed with a good grasp of Senate Rules and parliamentary procedure. No surprise there.

Finally, a basic lack of imagination could account for the fact that no Vice President in my memory (starting with Lyndon Johnson) has ever taken hold of the Senate presiding officer’s gavel and seriously used it. But there are good lawyers in Biden circles who know the rules, and they won’t miss a trick. It seems to me that Kamala Harris would not fail to perceive the opportunity to dominate daily work in the Senate almost at will from the presiding officer’s chair.

What would it mean to have Kamala Harris as President of the Senate? Choreographed points of order from the Democratic Senate caucus? Strategic Senate recesses to allow Biden recess appointments? Erection of insuperable parliamentary roadblocks to Republican initiatives to confound the Biden-Harris White House? The list of possibilities is long. If I were Kamala Harris, I would be looking for a retired Senate parliamentarian now to teach me the finer points of Senate procedure.

Would Kamala Harris gain anything by taking the Senate gavel frequently when the Senate is in session? If she is inaugurated, it will be her right and privilege to do so. And why wouldn’t she? For someone with presidential ambitions, it is hard to imagine a more bully pulpit, outside the Oval Office, than the Senate President’s chair, whence every word and deed is beamed out to the world by C-SPAN and other media.

In general, contested points of order, parliamentary procedure, and the Senate Rules can be waived by unanimous consent or put to a vote. Consequently, a Kamala Harris Senate presidency might not matter so much if the GOP had a strong majority in the Senate and could prevent unanimous consent or GOP defections on every point of order or parliamentary dispute. Except that the GOP doesn’t have a strong Senate majority, and can’t keep its own members from defecting. What’s more, the fluid U.S. Senate run-off in Georgia makes the Senate vote count even harder to nail down at this point.

What is easier to predict, however, is that even if the Republicans hang on to a Senate majority, Congress could come to work on January 21st with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Kamala Harris as President of the Senate. This is a genuine possibility which will quickly ripen into a reality if Congress fails to reverse what appears to have been an election victory procured by fraud.

Kamala Harris as President of the Senate. Does Congress care?

Richard Douglas is a former Senate staffer for Sen. Jesse Helms and ran twice (alas, unsuccessfully) for a U.S. Senate seat from Maryland.

The stand

From all appearances, January 6 may be a momentous day in our nation’s history, and grassroots supporters of Donald Trump will either be elated or despondent at day’s end.

In the social media I’ve been reading, I’m seeing posts about busloads of our local supporters heading into Washington, D.C. to gather and rally for Trump someplace. For example:

Trump says: “Be there, will be wild!”

President Trump is in the fight of his lifetime – he is fighting for our Republic. We need to join him on January 6th in D.C.

I’m happy to report that we (9/12 Delaware Patriots) have arranged for a bus from DE to DC. It will leave from Dover very early morning on the 6th of January, 5:00 AM.

“POTUS Needs us NOW!!!! – Update” e-mail, December 30, 2020.

Given that the 6th (a Wednesday) is a regular workday for D.C. and everyone else, I wouldn’t expect a major six-figure crowd there as there was for previous pro-Trump rallies.

This crowd of supporters is perhaps believing that their presence will steel the spines of Republicans who seemingly have developed into invertebrates over the last two months as this clearly fraudulent – given the sworn affidavits of hundreds who were participants – sham of an election comes closer to making Joe Biden the Commander-in-Thief. Most in the GOP have not spoken out forcefully on the matter, some are conceding the race to Biden even in the face of significant evidence his allies cheated, and many seem to be forgetting about the rule of law.

And that’s where the part about despondency comes in. America deserves a leader that’s elected with legitimate votes, but the problem is that the 2020 election was flawed from the get-go. I know that and you know that: the question is whether those who are in control of the situation (namely: Vice-President Mike Pence and Republican members of Congress) have the stones to address the problem correctly. I don’t think they do, and they will find some excuse to once again weasel out of their oath to uphold the Constitution because they’re afraid of bad press and major rioting. They’ll say that we can address the issue in 2022 and 2024, but do you honestly think those elections will be conducted on the up-and-up after this one was botched?

By then we may also know the score in Georgia, although those who won will likely not be sworn in prior to the Electoral College proceedings. (Advice to rural Georgia: make Fulton County report first.) If Pence and company have the guts to do this correctly, though, they won’t matter quite as much because the VP breaks the 50-50 tie.

In any case, let all this be a lesson that absolute power – even the pursuit of it – corrupts absolutely. This situation could and should have been avoided months ago by holding fast to initial election laws.

Odds and ends number 99

This will be the pre-election edition of odds and ends. I have so much stuff in my e-mail that’s interesting and intriguing that I’ll end up doing two parts, with the less time-sensitive stuff coming later this week or maybe next, depending on my mood.

As always, these are items I can deal with in a span of words covering anywhere from a couple sentences to three or four paragraphs, give or take.

The media is not your friend

I get a lot of items that pick on the media, but none have said so more succinctly than The American Spectator‘s editor Melissa McKenzie. This wasn’t from a featured article, but an e-mail summary:

Whether Trump wins or loses, THEY’VE ALREADY LOST. Their industry is over. Their ideological hegemony is done. They are relics of a bygone era. The worst part is that they’ve done it to themselves. They’ve torched their credibility and manage to cover nothing of importance. 

(…)

The insanity you’re seeing from the mainstream media is terror. They hate Donald Trump, but without him, they’re over. They’ve boxed themselves into a corner.

So while marveling about the MSM’s nuttiness, keep in mind that it’s not really about Trump. It’s about them. They’re experiencing existential dread. They’re right to be afraid.

“Trump: The End is NOT Nigh,” Melissa McKenzie, October 5, 2020.

To take the point further, Erick Erickson compared two styles of new media, pointing out the difference between Left and Right:

The difference is that the conservative sites are frequently just running pre-written PR pieces. The Acronym sites actually have reporters and editors, running as partisan news operations. They are actively digging dirt and churning stories to damage the GOP. Their efforts are not to facilitate truth, but to advance a leftwing narrative.

(…)

As an aside, conservatives need to take note on this. In the past, conservatives tried to do something similar to what Acronym is doing. Unfortunately, the donor structure on the right largely exists to make a profit and see a financial return on investment. Progressive donors want to affect change and see their return on investment based on narrative shaping and advancement of an agenda.

“A Tale of Two Stories With Common Facts,” Erick Erickson, October 19, 2020.

Back in the day I used to be one of those conservatives who knocked themselves out doing news reporting and commentary. Over the years I have worked with a bunch of news aggregators; here’s a list gleaned from my blog categories: Examiner.com, Conservative Weekly, Red County, Watchdog Wire, and Liberty Features Syndicate. Except for the pittance I made off the Examiner, these weren’t paying gigs because of what Erickson noted – these entities had to make a profit and could not with paid contributors. (The Examiner got less and less lucrative over time, too.)

But there is a market out there that’s being filled with videos and podcasts, and someone somewhere is making money for nothing, as Dire Straits would sing. That’s where people are going for news, and it’s driving the gatekeepers crazy.

The realms of money and mail in politics

Did you know that over 40 percent of Democrat donors are unemployed? That’s what a September story in PJ Media claimed. It was even more pronounced in 2020, as the number edged up over 50 percent.

I think there’s something wrong with the system when it’s being gamed in that way. But that’s nothing to how vote-by-mail seems to be manipulated: here’s a list of recent vote-by-mail disasters compiled by the fine folks at the Capital Research Center.

Then again, if you asked Rebecca Mansour and James P. Pinkerton at Breitbart, this is all part of a seven-part scheme to promote vote-by-mail “chaos.” Add in accusations of ballot harvesting, and, if the Russians’ goal was to sow distrust in our electoral system then the Left is helping them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

All I know is that I’m going to go express my preferences on Tuesday, and hopefully the state and national voters agree. Let’s just say I won’t be supporting the ones who are the target of these allegations.

The coming unrest

As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, I keep tabs on the Indivisible movement. While they have reached the late TEA Party stage of constantly begging for money, they also have their little schemes and one they recently hatched is called “Protect the Results.” (Why do I suspect the only results they are interested in protecting are the ones where they are winning?)

They claim that they “created a coalition of more than 100 organizations that are committed to protecting our democracy if Trump and his desperate Republican allies throw our country into a manufactured constitutional crisis.” If it takes until January to find the needed votes for Joe Biden Kamala Harris, they are willing to wait.

At the time I initially heard from them, they were up to 240 events nationwide (now it’s 471) but the one I’m most interested in is slated for Ocean City on November 4. (There are none in Delaware or elsewhere on the Eastern Shore.) Of course, the location is not released but we know the sponsor: “Join Indivisible Worcester MD to wave signs to honor the valid results of the 2020 election, ensure that every vote is counted, and show up to demand the peaceful transition of power. We’ll have some signs but not enough for everyone, so bring signs if you can.”

There are only so many outdoor locations in the Ocean City area where a crowd of a couple dozen would be noticed at this time of year, so be looking and if you see them ask them if they’ll accept a Trump victory.

One problem I have with Trump

There are a lot of things I’ve liked about Donald Trump, as I detailed yesterday. But one bone I have to pick with him is his energy policy – while he isn’t going to ban fracking like Joe Biden, he’s leaving a lot of chips on the table and one of those was his recent extension of an energy exploration ban in the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic until 2032. We just finally got to energy independence, so why leave these potential assets to wither?

As API’s Mark Green opines:

Most concerning is the abrupt about-face for U.S. energy policy embodied in the president’s executive order. Suddenly shelving the vast oil and natural gas potential of the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic, which would be critically important to the nation’s strategic energy needs, is a 180-degree shift from the U.S. “energy dominance” theme heard so often from the administration the past few years.

Mark Green, “The Administration’s Misstep On Eastern Gulf, South Atlantic Offshore Policy,” Energy Tomorrow, September 14, 2020.

We don’t know how much oil is down there, but without seismic testing and exploratory drilling, we won’t know if they are going to find dry holes or millions of barrels we can use. We should make the attempt to find out – not just in those areas but farther north where it can perhaps create jobs unlike the wind turbines no one but the moneyed interests want.

Misdirection

Charles “Sam” Faddis is a veteran intelligence operations officer, so I think he has a pretty informed opinion when he writes:

The Iranians have already begun sending spoof emails to potential voters seeking to sow dissension. The Russians may soon follow suit. Americans need to be on guard.

(…)

The same FBI that wants us to believe that Iranian spam is a serious threat to our democracy is the same FBI that has been sitting on Hunter Biden’s laptop for ten months. That laptop is filled with evidence of what appears to be a worldwide operation by the Biden family to cash in on Joe Biden’s position as Vice-President and then as former Vice-President. It is also filled with evidence to suggest very strongly that Joe Biden – the Democratic Party candidate for President – looks like he may be bought and paid for by Beijing.

Charles Faddis, “Are The Chinese One Step Away From Putting Their Man In The White House While The FBI Worries About Iranian Spam Mail?” AND Magazine, October 22, 2020.

It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Hunter Biden child porn angle has drawn the most attention in this scandal. Hunter Biden isn’t on the ballot, but Joe Biden is and anything that ties him into this sordid tale is more important to know than the drug habit and other details of his son’s tawdry life.

Sunday evening reading (on Monday)

Erick Erickson is back on here, and this time he says he’s gonna make you mad. But I didn’t get mad because I just remember God is in control.

You’ve got two old geezers who act like they’re fighting over the last chicken wing at an all you can eat buffet early bird special who the American public has concluded are the best we can do in a nation of over 350 million people and that is a damning indictment on the whole nation. Part of me thinks your excitement and enthusiasm for your particular candidate is just to cover the shame of these two candidates being the best we could do.

(…)

PS — while you were out on your boat parade or car parade or in your socially distanced circle of jerks bragging that your side was all masked up unlike the other side, you weren’t phone banking, you weren’t knocking on doors, and you weren’t getting out the vote in the closest presidential election in our lifetime. Now you can get off my lawn.

Erick Erickson, “Gonna Make You Mad This Morning,” October 30, 2020.

What’s really funny is that I just read a Facebook post from a self-styled Maryland political expert (and #NeverTrump) who complained the exact same thing about the 4,000 to 5,000 cars that participated in a mobile Trump rally along the Beltway.

Of course, that implied these people were going to help out in the campaign. There are a lot of people who do political volunteering, but 95% of those drivers in that parade weren’t political volunteers and never will be. It’s like a mobile yard sign – if not, why would it be a big deal when President Trump draws 60,000 to a rally and Joe Biden has half a hundred? The CCP virus is just an excuse – Trump backers are passionate, and they will show up at the polls. Just make sure you bring a friend or two.

What’s at stake in Delaware?

If you are a recipient of e-mail from A Better Delaware, you’re already aware of this, but they came up with an outline of their priorities.

There are ideas to return the estate tax, and increase the top rate for income taxes – which are already rather high to begin with. They will also create issues for small business, many of which have owners who file as individuals and not businesses.

They point out that proposed regulations and mandates on businesses will result in job cuts. These mandates include paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage.

The government transparency that was already an issue before the CCP virus has been enhanced by the suspension of FOIA compliance and lack of input into the budget process, including how to spend our (surprising) budget surplus. It was never explained how some businesses were deemed essential while others withered on the vine.

Corruption in the state – it’s not just shady land deals, but a legislature that routinely ignores its own rules.

Certificate-of-need laws the federal government scrapped end up restricting our access to health care.

I’m going to talk a lot more about Delaware in the post-election edition, but this is enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll make a few wild guesses and we will see if 2020’s election is just as bad as the rest of the year.

Never say never…

Life is really funny sometimes. Back in 2016 when I took the exit ramp I was a convicted man, but somehow that road has led me in a strange direction. No, I’m not quite back on that highway but I think I can see it from here.

It didn’t take me all that long to begin shedding the “never” part of a certain term. Taking a hacksaw to regulations was very endearing, and getting a much-needed tax cut was certainly a push in the right direction. But it all began with that deep breath of optimism that came about in the latter days of 2016; the feeling that something better was indeed going to finally come along after years of waiting. And as if a sign from above, I was restored to what I once was: after eight long, disheartening years of being forced out of a good job due to misfortunes and dire economic circumstances, Providence allowed me to get a foot in the door, and a few months later make my full-time return. I wasn’t quite the classic prodigal son, but I almost broke down and wept on the day of my return to full-time work there. Certainly I had been humbled by the previous eight years.

In my lines of work and various side hustles, I depend greatly on a good economy. Over the last four years we have taken the low gear of the last administration – what was then proclaimed as a “new normal” – and turbocharged it so that the new new normal lent itself better to prosperity. And even when we were suddenly thrown into reverse by the CCP virus, allowing the states to govern their response has gotten many of us back on track – particularly those fortunate enough to live in states with traditionally Republican governors. (Our friends in Maryland don’t have one of those. He can vote for whom he wants, but I’m not applauding the stance anymore because it seems now to me more out of spite than anything else. At least in 2016 I voted for a legit write-in.)

But perhaps the biggest factor in steering my response was the absolutely unfair media shake we have seen for our current president. I think back to 2012 and Mitt Romney, and ponder whether we would be electing his replacement if the media had been as curious about scandal back then as they have over the last four years. Imagine if something like Benghazi had happened under the current administration: blaming it on a video would not fly with a persistently questioning and curious media. Having the sandbags placed by constant and phony investigation arguably cost the Republicans the House in 2018; fortunately, they didn’t lose the Senate, which brings up another point.

In the last four years, we have now seen 1/3 of the Supreme Court turn over as well as hundreds of new circuit and district judges installed. While the imprint of these new appointees is still somewhat faint, over time we will begin to see their effect on the judiciary system if the trend is allowed to continue. Jurists who understand the plain meaning of the Constitution as well as the vision of those who wrote it are a significant line of defense against damaging revisions to our government and rescinding of our God-given rights. Perhaps they can also be the impetus to bringing about correction in a positive direction for a change.

To be sure, I don’t agree with the current occupant of the Oval Office on everything, and for that reason I also pondered a couple alternatives. It turns out Tom Hoefling, who I considered last time, is a write-in for Delaware*, but the reason I didn’t vote for him in 2016 was his slight but significant misunderstanding of the role of government. (Sadly, even though I don’t really care for the Constitution Party’s nominee Don Blankenship, feeling that he is a grifter of sorts, his campaign didn’t even bother to become a write-in candidate in Delaware. That’s a post for after the election.)

On the other hand, I was very compelled with Jo Jorgensen’s run as the Libertarian candidate. But when you think about it, there are a number of areas Jorgensen is advocating where the current administration is already moving in that direction, particularly in foreign policy. And when you further think about it, the current system wouldn’t lend itself to policy success for a Jorgensen administration because neither Republicans nor Democrats would have much incentive to assist her. It could be the long-term solution to this is to remove party affiliation from the ballot, but that will not occur without a vast public mandate.

Finally, it occurred to me the other day that 2020 is the first time I have ever blogged about a Republican president seeking re-election. I hadn’t began blogging yet when George W. Bush began his re-election run in 2004; in fact, I hadn’t even moved here. When I arrived in October of that year it was too late to register in Maryland so I voted absentee in Ohio. Obviously the next campaign in 2008 gave us Barack Obama and we kept him for 2012, so the return of the Republicans meant 2020 would be their first crack at re-election in 16 years.

Back in 2016 I gave three options for the election results:

I guess the way I look at it there are three possibilities here: either Trump is going to lose to Hillary, he will beat Hillary and govern exactly as I predict he will, or he will be a great President and I will have assessed him incorrectly. Truly I wouldn’t mind being wrong for the sake of this great nation, but I have no evidence to believe I will be.

“Taking the exit ramp,” August 1, 2016

With the evidence of the last four years, I’m going to do something I rarely have to do: admit I was wrong. It’s precisely why you should never say never, because I painted myself into a #NeverTrump corner and have to get my feet dirty to get out. But I really don’t mind.

Given the record and the horrible alternatives, the time has come to return to my political home for an election. America, we need to re-elect Donald Trump.

*There are over twenty write-in candidates for President recognized by Delaware, but just three have vice-presidential picks listed. So those were the three I looked up, including Hoefling.

The notorious RBG replacement process

I’m going to step away from the Delaware election for an evening and let you know what I think about all this.

We knew it had to happen someday – after all, during the spring there were the rumors floating around that she had already died – but last Friday Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set off to meet her Maker at the age of 87. There’s no question she lived a long life full of accomplishment, but the one thing she apparently failed at was her gamble that she would outlive the term of a Republican president. Thus, the sky fell in on the Left just in time for a glorious late-summer weekend.

I’m not even sure the body had assumed room temperature before the “Biden Rule” caterwauling began. “You can’t select a nominee before the election!” they sputtered. “It would violate Justice Ginsburg’s final wish!” Obviously this hearsay superseded her previous on-the-record statement that a president’s term is four years, not three years and nine months.

Even if not, however, the Constitution dictates that the President in office select a nominee, a person who is appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. And this is where the comparisons to the 2016 replacement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia fall apart. For the Senate did give advice that year to President Obama – you can send anyone you want who shares your judicial temperament, but we will not consent. To turn a phrase, “we won.” Merrick Garland may have been a moderately left-wing judge compared to others nominated by Obama, but the Senate was not looking for moderate and they held the cards.

So now we have all sorts of vows from the Left should Trump nominate a conservative on his way out the door – they’ll be stacking the Supreme Court, adding the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states, ending the filibuster and the Electoral College – and that’s just for starters. (And this doesn’t count the implied threat of more civil unrest Democrats have made.)

It’s that threat I want to address. Let’s say Kamala Harris wins the election. (And yes, I know Joe Biden is on the ballot but the over/under for his time in office with me is six months.) Knowing that President Trump and Mitch McConnell worked exceptionally hard over the last four years trying to overcome eight years of highly political Obama judicial appointees – with enough success that they got to select 1/3 of the Supreme Court and enough appellate judges to tip the balance in some districts to the conservative side – is it outside the realm of possibility that the organizers of the rioting may become leaders of assassination teams bent on picking off Trump appointees to open judicial seats that they believe our impeached but not convicted 45th President “stole?”

I don’t come to this conclusion lightly. In his column today, The Patriot Post‘s Mark Alexander quoted AOC, who said, “We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized. And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire.” To me, those “unprecedented ways” sound like a serious violent intent.

I am certain these judges already have extra protection, but an attack over the summer on the family of a federal judge pointed out the risks. And while the story writer bent over backwards to blame President Trump and “right-wing news” for these threats, it’s not right-wingers who are rioting, disrupting restaurant goers at dinner, or murdering Trump supporters. It’s not a long step to go from “defund the police” to “overturn the judicial system.”

And even if all elements of the RBG story remained the same except for the date being January 21, 2021 I believe the Left would have reacted the same way, screaming that RBG’s legacy was such that no conservative judge could follow her despite the fact Trump was re-elected with a GOP Senate majority still in place. The TDS is strong with these people and like spoiled children they don’t react well when they are told “no.” Add to that the lack of respect for life and you have the ingredients for what I’m describing.

You know, I really hate to think the worst of people but in my 56 years on this planet those suspicions have come to pass more than I would have liked. So I fervently pray I’m wrong but figure it’s an eventuality for which we may need to prepare.

Odds and ends number 98

I promised this a few weeks ago, but here it is in all its glory or whatever. As always, it’s little items which interest me and take up a few sentences.

So what does my e-mail have for me to share? In a monent I will look, but first allow me to reintroduce you to a classic concept.

Sunday evening reading

Many years ago, back in the days even before Salisbury had its blog wars – or had monoblogue – there was a website called Duvafiles. Its purveyor was a local attorney by the name of Bill Duvall, who has since passed away.

Aside from the sometimes-hilarious skewering of various local political figures and other prominent citizens, one of his regular features was indeed called Sunday evening reading – generally a short list of links Bill found interesting or useful.

In this case, there are many times I bookmark Erick Erickson because of how he intersects religion and politics. Unfortunately, having moved to Substack I can’t just link to his pieces but he does keep a limited free archive. (I’m just not quite willing to pull the trigger on $70 a year.)

Another frequent writer whose work sometimes gets buried behind a paywall is former Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal. He’s not really being mentioned as a 2024 contender but with commentary like this, I think he should be.

I’ve known Michigan-based writer Jen Kuznicki online for several years, but I didn’t know she had a more primary gig as a bartender. It gave her an up-close and personal view of a serious effect from the pandemic.

So since today is Sunday, I happened to see it as a perfect time to bring back the old concept. I think I have replicated it a time or two over the years, so it’s back again like the McRib.

Backing the blue

Another blast from my past came onto my radar screen recently. I’ve known Melody Clarke for several years, dating back to her previous moniker Melody Scalley and her unfortunately unsuccessful runs for office on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She may have a sweeter gig now as a Regional Coordinator of the Heritage Foundation.

Melody alerted me to a new Heritage initiative called the Police Pledge, which simply states that the signatory will “pledge to oppose any bill, resolution, or movement to ‘Defund the Police.'” Most notable among local signers thus far is Congressman Andy Harris, but there are two notables in Delaware as well: my District 21 state Senator (and candidate for Governor) Bryant Richardson, who signed it in his Senate capacity, and District 32 House challenger Cheryl Precourt from Kent County. Both are Republicans, although that’s no shock since all current federal officeholders who have signed are also members of the GOP. Nearly 80,000 private citizens have also signed, insuring the Heritage Foundation maintains a healthy e-mail list.

By comparison, it’s interesting to know just what the Left considers “defunding the police.” According to the Indivisible group, it’s where funding intended for police is diverted to “crisis intervention specialists, social workers, behavioral and mental health experts, food assistance and clean water, housing assistance, (and) school budgets.” But don’t we already pay for a welfare state?

By the way, that group of leftists had its “week of action” recently and touted “over 300 events across 37 states.” There was only one event in Delaware, so I guess they must figure they have this state sewn up. Got to work on that.

On the energy front

I already knew wind power was less reliable, more inconvenient, and more expensive, so this piece just reinforces what I already knew. On the other hand, API’s Mark Green describes some of the issues with getting necessary infrastructure in place.

While Delaware seems to be in decent shape with its natural gas supply pipelines, there is still the matter of trying to get an extended route to supply Maryland’s Eastern Shore constructed. As is often the case, short-sighted “progressives” are against real progress but cheer on pie-in-the-sky boondoggles that do nothing but drive up electric bills and ruin viewsheds.

Party over principle?

It’s an argument that dogged the TEA Party – do you work within the existing two-party system or try an alternative? Unfortunately, the Republican Party did not bend to the right nearly as readily as the Democrats have kowtowed to the radical left-wing flank of its numbers over the last two years, which is one reason why we have the predicament we are in now.

But radio host Andy Hooser, a.k.a. the “Voice of Reason”, begs to reignite an argument that seemed to fade away when the TEA Party morphed into the backing for Donald Trump. He writes:

(After the GOP nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney) I considered leaving the Republican party and going independent or Libertarian. I wanted my conservative voice to be accepted, not shunned in a party that is supposed to advocate for the views and ideas I have…not for me to conform to the party…

I then began my radio career by joining the broadcasting school, and interning for one of the great radio legends Mike Rosen of 850 KOA in Denver, CO. During my tenure with Mike, I had heard him advocate for the “Party over Person” argument, explaining third parties do nothing more than ruin any chance of getting someone close to your ideology…but help elect the person farthest from your views.

It hit home with me.

“The Voice of Reason” newsletter, August 2020

But we tried all this, and it didn’t work. I am living proof: is the Maryland Republican Party any more conservative now then when I began with them in 2006? No, they are even more spineless and have an impotent titular head to boot.

We actually now have an opportunity to open things up on both sides as the Democrats are eating their own and Republicans are trying to be more like Trump. There are openings for the progressives, centrists, and conservatives if they can just figure out a way to break up the R-and-D duopoly that saddles us with too many “lesser of two evils” elections. In Delaware I have six ballot-qualified parties to choose from, and while the system could use a little more work it’s an improvement from what Maryland and many other states are saddled with, like the Maryland Libertarians finally getting ballot access after a grueling ordeal.

“I want to thank everyone who helped petition to get back on the ballot, especially under such circumstances where the state of Maryland insisted we had to collect signatures while making it illegal or very difficult to petition in public for much of 2020,” said Maryland LP chair Bob Johnston in a release. But they are only there through 2022 unless they get 1% of the vote for Governor or 1% of the state’s registered voters. (That works out to about 40,000.)

Meanwhile, Delaware Libertarians break their 0.1% of RV hurdle with ease. I just wish they would focus more on candidate recruitment.

Getting to follow up

I didn’t realize that it had been over 18 months since I wrote a piece for The Patriot Post on civil asset forfeiture, but it proved to be a handy precursor to a lengthier treatise on the subject from Robert Stilson of the Capital Research Center on that very topic.

We still need to work on the principle that gains considered ill-gotten by the standard of suspicion are ripe for the taking. Believe it or not, there are legitimate reasons for individuals to carry large sums of cash and it’s none of the government’s business why they do so unless they want to press criminal charges and prove illegal intent in court. It’s not intended to be a slush fund for local law enforcement.

The long march to the left

One other noteworthy item from the CRC is this profile of the Walmart Foundation. Apparently Sam Walton had little use for charity or politics, but his heirs have gone completely overboard from the port side.

I don’t mind companies giving to charity, but it seems to me that many of today’s corporate conglomerates are operating under the “last to be eaten by the alligator” principle. How about just starving the alligator instead?

Uniquely Delaware

When I first moved to this area in 2004, one thing I quickly noticed was the all-number Delaware license plates. (Meanwhile, my Maryland plate was one of the first to have the old 1AA A11 pattern they used for about eight years before adopting the current 1AA1111 pattern.) Being a small state, Delaware is one of the last holdouts that has such numeric tags. (Many do have a standard prefix, though, as I note below.)

Now my car has a regular old random six-digit number beginning way up in the 9’s as its plate, but if I had a lot of coin I could buy the rights to have a number as low as 4 on my car. (I have to be elected governor, lieutenant governor, or secretary of state to get 1, 2, or 3 respectively. But I have seen #4. On the other hand, I also know someone who has a plate in the 9998xx series. Wonder if there’s a market for high number plates, too?)

The plate PC8 (PC, or “passenger carrier,” is a prefix often found on SUVs) just sold for $175,000. This creates an interesting question for me: do you insure the car or the license plate?

Speaking of Delaware, I wonder how this turned out? If for no other reason, the added traffic snarl of our prospective President having a beach house here is a good reason to keep Donald Trump in office.

And last…

Since I got this done in time, tomorrow night I will try my hand at pre-primary wild guesses and analysis for the Delaware primary. We’ll see if my expertise gained over often winning the (ladies and) gentlemen’s bet over Maryland primary and general election results among my fellow Central Committee members transfers across state lines.

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.

This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.

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, particularly when you add everyone else.

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 those running here in Delaware think?  I am going by party beginning with the Republicans for House and Senate, respectively, then proceeding through the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware candidates, and finally the incumbent Democrats Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons for House and Senate, respectively.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

There 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.

In finding his 2018 campaign website among the internet archives, I found my suspicions were correct, to wit:

“Immigrants should be encouraged to come to the United States based on merit and a willingness to be assimilated into our culture.” This was the basic reason most immigrants came here 100 years ago, yet despite the latter many who couldn’t prove their worth were turned away.

But in looking at Lee c. 2018 this was the kicker:”Illegal immigrants who have lived in our country for years and who have been working or serving in the military should pay the penalty for breaking the law, as would any U.S. citizen. After paying the penalty, illegal immigrants should, if they meet all the requirements, be offered a pathway to citizenship. This will help ensure that families of illegal immigrants can stay together, protecting the innocent. The children of illegal immigrants who are born in America should, as U.S. citizens, retains all their rights as citizens per the Constitution.”

That’s a loophole which needs to be closed, pronto. 2 points out of 11.

Lauren Witzke (R) (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. 10 points out of 11.

David Rogers (L) (House)

“I don’t know if we need to go back to an open borders policy,” he writes, “but we should ease immigration restrictions especially for those coming here to work.” I can see that to a point, but the problem is that people don’t just come to work and they don’t always go home. 2 points out of 11.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

You’ll notice she was creeping up on the leader Witzke, so having nothing in this category is a huge unforced error. No points.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

She’s also not taking advantage of recent gains. No points.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

He likes the idea of strong immigration reform and believes DACA is a “good program.” I don’t. But I like the idea of strong immigration reform, just not in a sense of making it easier. 1 point out of 11.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Her issue-free campaign continues apace. No points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

On the other hand, we can count on Chris to get it wrong. “Chris is a leading voice for comprehensive immigration reform, and he has been outspoken against President Trump’s cruel policies, his nationalist, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and his proposal to build a wall along the southern border.  Chris has also been a champion for DREAMers, and he has fought Republican efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”

Being restrictive on immigration is not “cruel,” border security is paramount, and DREAMers should go to the line for citizenship after returning to the country they came from. 0 points out of 11.

Standings:

House: Murphy 22.5, CSP 10.5, Rogers 6, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Witzke 29.5, Frost 15.5, Turley 6.5, Coons 1.

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.

This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.

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. As always, I am going by party beginning with the Republicans for House and Senate, respectively, then proceeding through the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware candidates, and finally the incumbent Democrats Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons for House and Senate, respectively.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan in due course, 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. 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. 2.5 points out of 7.

Lauren Witzke (R) (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. No points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

I haven’t come across anything from Rogers on the subject. No points.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

The same goes for his Libertarian partner, which is a shame. No points.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This sort of scares me: “Reach a sustainable equilibrium between the environment, energy and the economy that best suits the people and our planet.” The planet is far more resilient than the people, don’cha know?

She also advocates for, “free and clean energy programs that don’t damage our environment.” Given the order presented, I think her priorities aren’t in line with mine. 1 point out of 7.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Turley wants to, “Work to achieve an effective mix of energy including renewables and drive effective policies to protect our environment.” He also would have supported extension of tax breaks for renewables, which I don’t support. 1 point out of 7.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Given this topic so far, it may be best that she says nothing. No points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

It goes from bad to worse. “Chris is a leading voice in the effort to pass legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, one of the most effective and practical solutions we have available to address the dangerous warming of our planet.” It’s called a tax and it’s the last thing our economy needs. And as I always ask: do you know exactly what our optimum climate is?

You don’t, do you? So how can you say, “Climate change is an existential threat that must be taken seriously. That’s why I’ve fought to increase renewable energy, cut carbon emissions, opposed offshore drilling, and created the first bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.” You fought wrong, and this is about the third category in a row in which I wish I could give you negative points. Needless to say, 0 points out of 7.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation, which is worth 10 points.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received at the time I did this originally was from one of those who didn’t survive the primary, Matt Morris. Among his answers was taxing legalized marijuana.

And 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 wanted to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here. Fortunately I was able to scrounge up a little bit in the interim from some participants; still, these categories were like pulling teeth.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Murphy has the stock Republican answer of passing middle-class and business tax cuts. It’s not much but better than nothing. 3 points out of 10.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Again this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. I’m surprised. No points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Rogers conceded he would work to reduce taxes if elected, which again is better than nothing. 2 points out of 10.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

It took awhile but I got my wish on her addressing this one: “Restructure the tax code.  And by restructure I mean throw it in the dust bin.  What started out as a relatively simple (if unconstitutional) system, has grown in tiny increments to a leviathan that no one (not even IRS Agents) can know or understand.  It has been built over more than 100 years as reactions to emergent issues, and then outdated policies have stayed long after their reason for being ended.  Much like suicide, it is filled with permanent solutions to temporary problems.  And worse, it has created the largest and most intrusive bureaucracy in history.  Imagine how much money would be saved without the 75,000 people employed by the IRS.  Yes, we will still need to have tax collecting office, but it could be greatly reduced by reducing the minutiae of the (70,000?) page tax code.  I use the question mark, because Business Insider in 2013 stated the number as 73,000, and even PolitiFact admits that the code is so huge that no one really knows how long it is.” It’s not clear how she would replace it, but acknowledging the issue is half the battle. 4 points out of 10.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Besides more tax cuts, Purcell also noted, “I support the Fair Tax Act but would set limits on the amount of consumption tax that states can enforce.” That’s actually a pretty good answer, and if we can get her onboard repealing the Sixteenth Amendment we may be rolling. 6.5 points out of 10.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Again, I have struck out with one of the lesser-known candidates. A pity. No points.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Again, given this topic so far, it may be best that she says nothing. She did not vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 0 points out of 10.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

Can this guy get any more annoying? Wait, don’t answer that, let him explain:

“He has opposed Trump’s unfunded tax breaks for the wealthy.”

I seem to recall I got a pretty nice break out of it, too, and believe me: I’m not wealthy. As the old song goes, “I’m a man of means by no means.”

And there’s more:

“And Chris has been taking on the tough issues, like ending childhood poverty with a bill to dramatically expand the Child Tax Credit — which Vox calls ‘the single most important bill of the 116th Congress for the country’s poorest residents.’ I call it simple wealth transfer because it would allow someone to take more in money from the government than they paid in taxes. It’s essentially another form of welfare. 0 points out of 10.

Standings:

House: Murphy 20.5, CSP 10.5, Rogers 4, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Witzke 19.5, Frost 15.5, Turley 5.5, Coons 1.

Boy were those two dogs of topics. Fortunately I have no shortage of information on the next topic, which will be immigration.

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.