This William Warren cartoon seems to sum it up, doesn’t it? Between Benghazi, the IRS TEA Party targeting, the AP phones being tapped, the FOIA preferences at the EPA, questions on campaign finance in both 2008 and 2012, the Enroll America protection racket – the list can go on and on and on if you revert back to earlier activities like Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, or the handling of the Deepwater Horizon accident. And I’m not counting what goes on in Maryland, like the inmates taking over the prisons or having a governor who’s more concerned about presidential prospects than running the state. I suppose if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac then that must be why Democrats are pro-abortion; otherwise they would have a dozen or so children running around, by nearly as many mothers.
Now I’m certain the minuscule number of progressives and leftists who dare to read here would beg to differ and can probably point out all the scandals, conflicts of interest, and foibles of the Bush years, but really, guys, come on – what happened to the most transparent administration ever? I suppose in a perverse sort of way finding out about all these scandals is a type of transparency – too bad we were stonewalled every step of the way in finding out.
But are the American people and their notoriously short attention spans in danger of scandal fatigue in May of 2013, 18 months before the midterm elections? Sometimes the pre-emptive strike is the best thing in the long run, and there’s little chance of the rabidly partisan Democrats in the Senate turning on their leader and convicting him in the unlikely event we ever get to an impeachment trial. Moreover, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as a fall-on-the-sword kind of guy, so don’t bet on him resigning to save the country the agony of an impeachment trial like Richard Nixon did. Democrats know well what sort of electoral fate may await – the Republicans who placed country over party were “rewarded” by losing 48 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the 1974 elections, which were held just three months after Nixon left in disgrace.
Meanwhile, focusing on the scandals of the past will blind us to the issues of the present. Even if the GOP gains control of the Senate in 2014 – a likely possibility even without scandals as the sixth year of a presidency is traditionally unkind to the president’s party – the nation will simply revert back to the inverse of the situation we had back in 2007-2008, where a Republican president was crippled by a Democratic Congressional majority in both houses. Much of the damage was done in the two years the Democrats held absolute control of government, as the massive entitlement program dubbed Obamacare came into being and Barack Obama’s re-election means at least some of it will be in place by 2014. Once established, we haven’t killed an entitlement program yet. And there’s still the aspect of governing by executive order: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”
Perhaps the one silver lining in all of this is the emergence of the new media as a force for uncovering these and other issues with the government in Washington. No longer do we have a small group of periodicals, newspapers, and television networks determining what is news and what remains on the cutting room floor. Certainly, there is a huge majority of the American public still in an celebrity gossip-induced slumber, but slowly people are beginning to see the light and it only takes an irate, tireless minority to effect real change.
In the meantime, though, there is plenty to write about for those obsessed with Obama scandals. That really is a shame because it makes it more difficult to argue with the other side on why their ideas are such a failure – I can hear it now: “Well, if you Republicans wouldn’t have made the Obama years such a partisan witch hunt he may have succeeded with his good ideas.”
But I suppose it comes back to the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely, doesn’t it? Do you see why the nation’s founders wanted a limited government yet?
Remember last year when the Obama campaign came up with the idea for “Julia”, a fictional woman who was supposed to represent how Obama made life better for women everywhere? (You know, that phony, made-up ‘War on Women’ and all that.) I wrote about this about a year ago.
Well, one year later the good folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute came up with the idea of “Julius”, a black worker affected by Big Labor and its policies and politics. It’s well worth the three minutes of your time to watch. I’ll wait.
While the account is fictional, the problems being caused by these policies are not. Yet the liberals never seem to learn – they seem to think that just one more increase in the minimum wage will do the trick, or one more revenue hike will lead to the proper “investments” of taxpayer money. And the golden goose will never stop a-layin’.
All these ideas, though, defy logic.
For example, the idea of paying just minimum wage is that of giving someone who doesn’t have a high skill level and is not all that valuable to the employer the amount which has to be given by an artificially-created law which has no relation to the actual market. If someone’s labor is worth $7.25 an hour to the company and no more, well, then that person will be a minimum wage hire. But if the minimum wage is $10 an hour – and they’ve tried to do this in Maryland on a couple of occasions – there’s no reason to hire someone who’s still only worth $7 or $8 an hour to the compamy because it would be unprofitable in the long run. That’s the point made in the video. (One thing not mentioned is that the reason unions push for minimum wage increases is because many labor contracts are pegged to maintaining a salary point a certain percentage or dollar figure above the minimum, which means automatic but unearned and non-negotiated wage increases for their workers if the minimum wage goes up.)
But if there were no minimum wage, all it would mean is that the labor market would find its level. Arguably, this is one problem which is blamed on illegal immigration and the penchant to work on a cash or “under the table” basis – they could be happy with $5 an hour if taxes aren’t taken out and there’s no need for a Social Security number.
Taken to its opposite extreme, what if there were a maximum wage and no one could work for more than, say, $20 an hour? What incentive would anyone have to succeed knowing they could only reach a certain level, and what enjoyable parts of life would we have to do without given the artificial limit of $800 a week for 40 hours of labor? That’s only $41,600 a year before taxes. To me, having a minimum wage is just as unrealistic as having a maximum one – and don’t get me started on the idiocy presented by the so-called “living wage.”
Without a minimum wage, would employers try to take advantage and pay, say, $5 an hour? (Ironically, that was my hourly wage on my first job in 1986 – one Lincoln per hour.) Some would, but in time these low-level employers would find that the labor pool willing to take that kind of wage would leave a lot to be desired, so they would have to increase their offerings to find better workers. On the other hand, in places where labor is in high demand, like the oil-rich portions of North Dakota, even workers at menial jobs get double-digit hourly pay. (Incidentally, North Dakota is a right-to-work state.) Once the employment market levels out there, that boom will slow down and wages will come back to a particular supportable level for both employers and employees, with those who work in the oil fields remaining on the top of the wage totem pole because their work is more valuable to their employer than a guy flipping burgers at the local fast food joint, as it should be.
But there is one entity which will never settle for the minimum wage, and that’s government. Living in a state which seems to be the leader in one category above all else – tax and fee increases – it always seems as though Big Labor is right behind them every time the state wants a little more out of our pockets. Perhaps this is more understandable in the case of increasing the gas tax, as those unions involved in construction moaned and complained that we hadn’t increased the tax in over two decades. (To which I replied: so?) Supposedly, the additional jobs created by building new infrastructure – even as frivolous as new light rail mass transit lines will eventually be – will assist in jump-starting the state economy.
Again, however, this is a case of gaming the market and not allowing it to seek its own level. Granted, to use the example above, we do need to improve our roads and transportation infrastructure but there were other methods of doing so and more productive ways to spend the money. Nor does this count the other tax increases we have endured over the last half-decade on income and sales taxes, additional fees, and various other methods of vacuuming our hard-earned dollars out of our greedy little fingers and into the deserving coffers of the state for “investment.” Instead of each of the six million or so Marylanders making their own decisions on where to spend, they get part of their check confiscated from them so the state can transfer wealth from flush to impoverished, taking a decent-sized cut for themselves in the process and producing nothing. Julius is the one left poorer for it.
In the video, Julius reaches what’s supposed to be his golden years without a pension because his company was driven to bankruptcy by the union he didn’t belong to. Unfortunately, the creation of promises over a generation – without the actual funding to back them up – are poised to harm both union and non-union retirees alike. Public pension funds nationwide on the aggregate have a funding gap between assets and promised benefits estimated at around $1,000,000,000,000. (That’s one trillion dollars, or about 3/10 of our annual federal budget.) While that pales next to the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, this is still a vast sum which in all likelihood won’t be made whole without rampant inflation or a significant devaluation of the dollar.
Perhaps it’s a good plan for those under 50 to plan on a retirement – if leaving a job is even a possibility in that distant of a future – without either Social Security or Medicare because neither can survive in their present form. Simply put, they aren’t taking in as much as they are putting out. A half-century or more of promises and IOUs was never addressed because people thought the good times would last and last while the bill never arrived. That simply defies common sense, and here’s your invoice.
We don’t know what happened to “Julius” but I’m sure a lot of people can guess the rest – he dies a pauper, having done things the way he was told to do and getting no reward for it because other special interests figured out how to prime the political pump and have the system rigged in their favor. This all can be changed, but it will take a long-term concerted effort and there will be some bitter, bitter medicine to swallow in the interregnum.
As the son of a former union worker whose plant was a casualty of the recession of the early 1990s and a mom who worked for over 20 years to help support the family, I can understand just where this was coming from. My mom might not agree, but I hope she has a happy Mother’s Day nonetheless.
Recently Change Maryland had to do a mea culpa, because they found out they were incorrect.
Just weeks after putting out the word about Martin O’Malley and his 37 tax increases since taking office, the good-government advocacy group had to let people know they were just a little bit off – in the wrong way:
Previously, Change Maryland released a report that updated tax and fee increases following the 2013 session, which brought the total to 37 increases that remove $3.1 billion annually over and above the existing tax burden. These latest reports adds new fees for gun purchases, enacted in 2013, and two newly-discovered measures buried in omnibus legislation and not subject to normal legislative procedures.
So now we are up to a nice, round 40 tax and fee increases under the O’Malley regime. Aren’t we special?
Since I began with Change Maryland, I may as well continue with what their leader, Larry Hogan, had to say:
Nobody expected the total impact to be this staggering, not even me. Struggling Maryland families and small businesses simply cannot afford another four years of an O’Malley-Brown tax and spend binge.
Hogan continued by lamenting the ongoing nature of the problem:
This is not just an argument about big government. It’s about a government that is on auto-pilot to grow exponentially, beyond anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes and that comes directly at the expense of the private sector economy that we desperately need to diversify our employment base.
Undoubtedly, the question for the O’Malley/Brown team – and they are a team, since our lieutenant governor is the favored choice of Martin O’Malley – is whether Anthony Brown will try and run up the score some more. Would triple digits be possible over a 16-year reign of the O’Malley/Brown team? In a speech in Chestertown, Hogan used the occasion to blast the heir apparent, who’s announced his intention to snag the state’s top spot next year, from the stump.
(Side note: the odds are against Brown, as on three occasions since the office of lieutenant governor was re-created in 1970 the officeholder failed to win the office him/herself. Blair Lee III lost the 1978 Democratic primary, as did Melvin Steinberg in 1994. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won her nomination, but lost to Republican Bob Ehrlich in 2002.)
Yet the more Hogan chooses to point out the foibles of the O’Malley/Brown team, the less of a chance there is he will enter the race himself. In a lot of ways, Larry has chosen to be this state’s version of Sarah Palin as he could potentially be a kingmaker as the leader of a bipartisan group closing in on 40,000 followers. If each can influence five voters, you have yourself a GOP primary winner in a year where it appears we will have two or three relatively strong candidates.
And then there’s always O’Malley’s own legacy and his dreams of running for President in 2016. Certainly he would find it a feather in his cap to get his LG elected as successor and cement his legacy. Being the media whore he is, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Martin O’Malley take the tack suggested in this piece by Pete “DaTechGuy” Ingemi as MOM has to overcome the legacy of one Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I can see a certain Maryland governor doing this,” indeed.
It’s interesting that last night I pointed out in passing North Dakota’s success in bringing their per-capita income to the cusp of the top five in the nation when even more encouraging news recently came out for them. This update is from the Energy Tomorrow blog in a post by Mark Green:
The U.S. Geological Survey has new estimates for oil and natural gas in the Williston Basin shale area that simply blows the doors off previous estimates:
- 3.65 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil for the Bakken Formation.
- 3.73 billion barrels for the Three Forks Formation.
- The total, 7.38 billion barrels, is a two-fold increase over USGS’ 2008 estimate, which included only the Bakken Formation because Three Forks wasn’t thought to be productive.
If you’re wondering where the Williston Basin is, perhaps this USGS map will help. Note that this formation is different than the Marcellus Shale formation which encompasses the western end of Maryland. But consider that North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and while it’s not necessarily glamorous tasks requiring a master’s degree or specialized training, there is a lot of work available out on the plains.
But the principle outlined later in the piece by Green remains true regardless of the conditions:
The dramatic increases in these oil and natural gas estimates are a credit to industry initiative and the application of ideas and technology – in non-federal areas where oil and natural gas development is supported and encouraged. These reserves underscore the game-changing nature of unconventional oil and natural gas – again, thanks to hydraulic fracturing – that could support the creation of 3.5 million jobs and more than $5.1 trillion in industry cumulative capital spending by 2035, according to an IHS Global study.
Obviously the small portion of our state which happens to lie within the Marcellus Shale region would only see a fraction of that benefit. But what about offshore oil? We don’t know because no one is being allowed to do the necessary leg work to drill and find out. There could be an energy windfall off Ocean City which has nothing to do with thirty-story high wind turbines but we can’t say. Indeed, we could have no viable oil deposits there, either.
But factor in that just five years ago no one thought the Three Forks Formation was commercially viable for oil, and now there’s the potential for 3.7 billion barrels. (Granted, our daily consumption is about 20 million barrels of oil per day so by itself the field isn’t huge, about six months’ worth. Yet you can add that to all our other potential, not to mention the near-certainty that technology can eventually enhance our findings.)
Because I favor the expansion of an energy type which has been proven to be efficient and relatively cheap in comparison to other modes, some have called me a shill for the oil industry. Sorry, I don’t work for them – although if they can use a writer, I certainly would entertain the offer. I just happen to know that an economy which is growing the right way needs to expand their usage of energy so mankind has to expend less and allows us more time and effort to devote to improving our lot in life.
As I said yesterday, the part of the state which tends to vote against its own best interests is the part which, in this case, is sending useful idiots who believe the garbage about the “dangers” of fracking to Annapolis. No, the process is not risk-free, but no endeavor worth doing is. We’ve placed ourselves with New York as two states falling far behind the curve on energy exploration, but 2014 provides us the chance to correct that mistake.
Just because I didn’t feature them as prominently as I had last year didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in what Delegate Mike McDermott had to say about the recently-concluded General Assembly session. Granted, once the gauntlet was thrown away last November by an electorate more interested in glitz and glamour than seriously pondering our state’s future we figured the path was clear for Martin O’Malley to create his legacy for 2016. And if you think Democrats in Maryland don’t have those sorts of dreams of reflected glory from electing the first President from Maryland in the state’s long history, think again. Sure, there are a few who are allowed to stray from the party line in the interest of political self-preservation, but when the chips are down they will come through.
This was particularly true when it came to the idea of making the state as hostile as possible to small businesses, as McDermott points out:
Our Corporate Tax rates remain the highest in the region and our layers of government process insure that we continue to be slow to respond and costly for business start ups.
McDermott uses the obvious examples of offshore wind, the submission of our state to the effects of Obamacare, the increased gasoline tax, and the adoption of last year’s “rain tax” as examples of how our state is lagging further and further behind our neighbors. Yet aside from the outrage we exhibit in our little corner of the state, we seem to be having little if any impact on the direction Annapolis is taking.
Unfortunately for us, the majority Democrats – and some of the more centrist, “go along to get along” Republicans – are a reflection of the areas in which they live; areas which seem to be succeeding despite themselves thanks to the heavy influence of Washington, D.C. on our state. In the city of my birth, Toledo, we had a saying that if Detroit sneezed we would catch the cold because we were so overly dependent on one industry for our economic livelihood – even moreso than the Motor City. Here in Maryland the I-95 corridor, as I call it, plays the same role Detroit did for Toledo by calling its tune. My contention is we would be in the same dire straits as a state like Rhode Island or Nevada if it weren’t for having thousands of workers on the federal payroll living within our borders.
Indeed, Maryland is a state where government checks aren’t just for the poorest among us but also feed a growing number of well-to-do families. Consider the fact that Maryland has been a state in the top 5 of per-capita income for all but one year since 1990 – in 2008 we were 6th. States which have outranked us have generally done so on the strength of the New York or Boston metro areas and a lack of poorer rural regions. (Note that Washington, D.C. would be far and away #1 if it were ranked, though.) It’s also worth pondering, though, that a state is now close on Maryland’s heels and threatening its position in the top five – thanks to the strength of a booming energy industry, North Dakota has surged upward 21 spots in just five years.
Yet rural Maryland lags well behind their I-95 corridor counterparts. There are areas of our state which fare just as poorly as those states in the Deep South do, and they don’t receive the economic benefits of having federal government employees on every block. Unfortunately, the policies which discourage private investment in the state hurt rural areas more than urban ones, for there are some businesses with enough economies of scale – and desire to be closer to those high-income families in Montgomery and Howard counties – which can either grin and bear the increased costs or can otherwise pass them along to end users.
And while the idea of job creation was one of the issues in the recent election here in Salisbury, the reality is that we will have to succeed here despite the state’s best efforts to stymie our development in favor of agricultural preservation. It doesn’t matter to those in Annapolis and across the bay because they already have theirs, so if it’s to their advantage to keep us as a rural backwater which has to be kept in line every so often when it gets uppity, so be it. They’ll just punish us a little more until we learn our place again.
So what is the solution? Obviously we need to convince Maryland voters to stop voting against their best interests and instead promote the benefits of limited government and liberty. Granted, there are many thousands of Maryland voters who won’t get that hint because a limited government also would limit their government-backed paycheck but as I have said before the world needs ditchdiggers too. Enhance private industry and the best and brightest will find work – if we play our cards right, it could happen here in Maryland.
It’s not really the season for a political calendar quite yet, but there are two upcoming events I thought important enough to devote a little space to.
For all the caterwauling about MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson’s March trip to South Carolina – part of which was intended as a conduit to secure speakers for Lincoln Day dinners and the like – well, he may have struck gold with an upcoming event at Bowie State University, or it may have been sheer coincidence. Regardless of the reason, Bowie State’s Students for Liberty president Eugene Craig III excitedly let me know that:
(We have) secured U.S. Senator Tim Scott as our major keynote speaker for this semester… The event will start at 6:30 p.m. (on Tuesday, May 7th), and will be in the Martin Luther King Building Auditorium.
I think this is a prime opportunity for our party to make major inroads in the African American community. We have a unique situation where for the first time in at least a decade an elected Republican is addressing the university, and it just so happens that he is a Black American addressing the old HBCU in Maryland.
It seems pretty sad that it has been a decade since an elected Republican has addressed these students, and I would really love to know how many Democrats have been there in the interim. Nevertheless, this is quite a coup for the group, as I’m sure many groups would love to hear Senator Scott relate his compelling story of growing up poor and building his life for himself. For a few weeks Scott was in the unique position of being the only black Senator until Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick countered by selecting Mo Cowan as a caretaker Senator until the conclusion of the special election for John Kerry’s unexpired term, as Cowan declined to participate in that balloting.
Closer to home, another member of Congress will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser in Ocean City on Monday, May 13. Rep. Andy Harris gets the benefit of the $100 per person event, but the reason I found this noteworthy was that one of the event sponsors is Dr. Mark Edney – coincidentally the featured speaker at the Wicomico County Republican Club June meeting. Of course, Andy could use a good show of support from local movers and shakers willing to continue backing our Congressman.
After missing the event last year because I was out of town, I got to return to the Salisbury Festival this year for one occurrence. (Unless the date of the MDGOP convention is changed for next year I’ll miss the SF again in 2014.)
I had to be there early to help set up our space, so I happened onto the annual firemen’s awards. It’s always neat to see Old Glory raised up this way.
Once the firemen were finished, the color guard paraded to the intersection by which I was standing.
Having helped to set up our place (after the mixup we had was resolved) I first wandered the Plaza looking around.
A staple of the Salisbury Festival is its emphasis on artistic forms of all sorts. A number of craftsmen and artisans had set up shop hoping to make a little money from their efforts. But it was slow going on the far end.
This is the same locale where just a week and a day before Third Friday had set up shop outdoors for the first time this year.
Art of all sorts was on display, with an emphasis on the youngest attendees.
Many of them were hard at work chalking the Plaza at its entrance.
There were also performers on the Plaza, trying to instill us with culture.
Talented as they were, for me they were no match to the appeal of Detroit iron.
For those of you under around the age of 35 – notice something missing in this picture?
Look in the trunk.
Yes, the Corvair was a rear-engine vehicle which was rather popular back in the day until Ralph Nader killed it. It certainly wasn’t all that expensive.
It’s also fun to see what restorers go through. This was an unusual display for a car show.
But from this shell may come something which looks a lot like this.
For all I know, these cars could have been on the line at the same time – both are 1968 Pontiac Firebirds.
Yet I’m now of an age when the cars of my childhood are joined as “classics” by the cars of my formative years. Believe it or not, this car is nearly 30 years old – but I drove a similar model in my drivers’ ed class.
And I wasn’t the only one walking down Memory Lane, er, Main Street.
Now something I skipped in my little narrative was the block or so between the Plaza and the car show. That was fraught with fun and frivolity as well.
I talked about this group awhile back, and the local chapter of Move to Amend was out adding to the minor amount of political goings-on.
I had an interesting discussion with the guy, but obviously our end goals are different: he wants to erode the power of corporations in government by stifling their rights to contribute money (which, to me equates with their right to free speech.) I’d rather just limit corporations’ power and influence by limiting the size and scope of government. Of course, this guy made the classic mistake of assuming I wanted no government.
Speaking of people who make classic mistakes, the Democrats were mixed in with a group of private interests. I thought they should have been next to Move to Amend.
One piece of advice I gave to my Democratic friends: Tootsie Rolls and warm, sunny days do not go well together.
But they were right across from one of the two City of Salisbury setups, where my Council member Laura Mitchell was sitting. I should have asked if she was going to sit on the other side of the street, too.
But I was getting hungry and decided to check out the food court. I was also wondering where my fiance was.
You know, it really helps to turn your phone off silent when you are done with the event you turned it off at. Turns out she (and her daughter and friend) were down by the river, where I took this shot.
It was empty at the time, but this lot on the other side from downtown is where the Salisbury Festival hosts many of its evening activities. Later on Saturday there would be an international beer festival.
I almost took a photo of the rockfish I had for lunch, but I decided not to share.
Now when you have kids in tow your priorities change a little bit. Normally I would pretty much ignore the carnival portion of the SF, but that doesn’t happen with two teenagers.
A few rides, a basketball and couple (live, in a plastic bag) goldfish later, they were happy and Kim and I went our separate ways as I relieved a relieved Jackie. The Plaza was abuzz with activity by then.
Meanwhile, we soldiered on in our modest little space. The biggest problem, as it turned out, was having our tent banner paired up with a small table. We made it work.
The final photo is of two presidents: Ellen Bethel of Republican Women of Wicomico and Jackie Wellfonder of the Wicomico County Republican Club.
It was nice to see our downtown alive and vibrant for a day, at least. Come Monday after 5 it will be back to its sleepy self, save for a couple pockets of activity.
In the spirit of unity and exploring ideas in the wake of a bitter and contentious campaign for state party Chairman, I want to respond and share my thoughts on a letter handed to me at the convention by party activist and onetime Delegate Don Murphy. I’m not going to reprint the whole letter, which runs a page and a half, single spaced, but I will go through some key points Don makes.
In his diatribe, Murphy has a long preamble which makes the key statement:
It is time to stop defending the status quo, which only serves to keep us in our state of irrelevance. Things could not be worse, so clearly, the risk is worth the reward.
The first point Murphy brings to the fore is the idea of an open primary:
In the near future, (unaffiliated) voters will represent a plurality, and then a majority of the electorate. At some point between now and then, they will demand and receive participation rights in our primaries, or rightfully, call for an end to taxpayer funded nominating elections. The MDGOP should be prepared for this eventuality, and we should embrace it.
His argument goes on to state that several northeastern states, which have high percentages of unaffiliated voters, have elected either Republican governors, Senators, or a majority of state legislators.
Yet the question to me isn’t one of strictly electing Republicans. Indeed, that part of the country has elected a share of Republicans over the years – but do the names Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chafee ring a bell? They were nominally Republican but eventually became Democrats because they were so liberal. I don’t think the northeastern states are a good example to follow given that reasoning. In essence, the way I look at it is that all an open primary does is dilute the vote in a more moderate direction so that we would end up with liberal, milquetoast Tweedledum on the GOP side and liberal, milquetoast Tweedledee for the Democrats.
But Don then throws a wrench into the process:
Opening the primary to unaffiliated voters doesn’t mean we should lose control of the nomination process. It is time for the Party to endorse candidates in the primary. After all, how can we recruit better candidates if we do not support them through the nomination?
Of all the people for Don to hand this to, you would think he would know how much I absolutely hate, loathe, and despise the idea of pre-primary endorsements, such as Rule 11. Did I mention I can’t stand the thought of its invocation?
He must have kept me in mind:
This should not be a closed process like we experienced with the Rule 11 waivers, but an expanded convention or caucus process, similar to the Virginia model, which is opened to nearly 10,000 convention delegates all elected by the voters within their districts.
I guess the question which comes to my mind then is: why have a primary at all? If we’re so much smarter than the voters, why don’t we just fill out the Republican side of the ballot all the way up and down the line? All a would-be candidate would have to do is figure out a way to appease the 10,000 party activists in a state race and for local races it would perhaps just be the nine Central Committee members.
Now I liked what Collins Bailey had to say about opening our convention to the public and trying to make it a more broad-based event even though it would entail conducting some sensitive party business inside a fishbowl. But while I don’t always agree with who the state as a whole selects as a candidate, I think the idea of maximizing Republican participation in the electoral process to the fullest extent possible makes the most sense.
But there is one final main point Don makes, and it’s one I think has by far the most merit of his three main proposals.
…while voting is our Constitutional right and duty, ballot access under the GOP banner is not. Dozens of state parties require signatures to gain access to the nominating ballot and/or fairly high filing fees. Neither of these hurdles keep anyone off the ballot, but they serve to separate the serious candidates from the perennial candidates. These state parties believe their registered voters have the right and a reason to determine ballot access. More importantly, requiring candidates to gather signatures, only serves to make them credible and electable in the long run…
Granted, we had a candidate who petitioned his way onto the ballot in 2012 by spending oodles of his own money to get the signatures. But get them he did.
I’m actually familiar with the process, both on the level of having to go out and get a minimum of five valid signatures to run for Central Committee in my home state of Ohio as well as trudging out in the freezing January cold to do the same thing for a state House candidate. (Obviously his signature threshold was significantly higher, perhaps 500 signatures.) Maryland’s process is indeed incredibly easy as it only involves a filing fee.
And while I am all for having contested primaries and the like, I think this is a pretty good idea. Most states have a reasonable threshold of ballot access signatures, with a statewide candidate generally required to collect from either every county or every Congressional district. The volunteers and assistance needed to secure ballot access via petition can oftentimes be the beginnings of the campaign staff needed to run a good grassroots campaign.
Murphy goes on to make two other minor suggestions, asking that Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the RNC National Convention be elected on the same line (instead of separately as they are now) and to require photo voter ID in the Republican primary – “The MDGOP should lead by example.”
After discussing Murphy’s ideas, I would like to add one of my own, something which I think would encourage participation. In fact, I would gladly trade the idea of having to collect petition signatures for being let out of the requirements spelled out below.
Being on the Central Committee isn’t quite a thankless job, but it’s relatively close. Yet we have to have a treasurer and file campaign finance data for an UNPAID position. Who came up with that brilliant idea and why?
Now I understand that all I have to do is fill out a form called an Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures (or ALCE for short) on an annual basis to keep the Board of Election wolves at bay. But I still think having to have a campaign finance entity for a job which pays me nothing is nothing short of ridiculous.
There are a number of other thoughts I’ve had on the state and local parties in the week since the convention was hurriedly brought to an end. But I think the back channels between Chair and onlooker may be a better venue for those.
Our illustrious president and his political front group, Organizing
Against America For Action, are now trying to poke fun at climate change “deniers” in Congress. A video released earlier this week by the campaign suggests Republicans don’t know what they are talking about, claiming the overwhelming consensus of science is that climate change is real.
(Of course, this is put together by a party which has a member who worries about Guam tipping over, so take from it what you will.)
Seriously, there are two key problems with the assumption that Obama’s minions are making. First and foremost is the premise that mankind has anything to do with the climate whatsoever. Yes, we can affect weather in a limited way by seeding clouds and there is a proven effect of heavily populated and paved areas being slightly warmer than the surrounding countryside, but in the overall scheme of things changes in the sun would have vastly more effects than mankind would, regardless of how many SUVs there are. After all, there have been periods in earth’s history far warmer than today’s climate, as well as times much cooler.
Corollary to that point, the records of weather patterns go back less than 150 years, with fairly accurate and detailed observations only available for perhaps the last 50 or so. Simply put, we have very little to go on in terms of worldwide measurements to know how weather is behaving in comparison to how it was a hundred years ago. Superstorm Sandy may have had its match and more 500 years ago, but we have no way of knowing this.
And who is to say that our climate is the optimum one? Having a more temperate climate in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere wouldn’t be a bad thing because it opens much more land mass to agriculture.
Moreover, when the theory of anthropogenic climate change is something only modeled on computers – models which don’t account for all the possible data – how can a theory become proven fact? Given the right amount of inputs of selected data, a model could probably be made where global temperature decreases several degrees. On a planetary scale, man does not mean a hill of beans.
As has been the case for the last 30 years or so, the specter of climate chaos (formerly known as global warming, and, when that didn’t work, global climate change) is being used to force us into a lifestyle we may not have willingly endured otherwise. This push by OFA supposedly is to embarrass Republicans who are wise to the idea that “a crisis is too good to waste” and creating a crisis where none exists is a surefire method to assume more control.
This is really going to be about two separate items with a common theme, sort of a compact version of my old “odds and ends” series.
In the first case, Patrick McGrady of the Maryland Liberty PAC was excited about getting “one of our own” elected as First Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party.
We told you we were going to rock the Maryland Republican Party back to its roots and this past weekend we did just that!
Not only are we building successful coalitions with Central Committee members but today I am proud to announce to you that the liberty movement is now represented in MDGOP state leadership.
On the convention floor this Saturday, grassroots conservatives and freedom fighters joined forces to elect Collins Bailey as (First) Vice Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
It bears pointing out, however, that the group wasn’t all that far from electing Bailey as the Chair, since Diana Waterman only won on the second ballot with 56% of the vote.
McGrady added, though, that the group had advanced a long way:
Last fall we successfully launched the Maryland Liberty Caucus and now this spring our Liberty forces picked up a top state Party leadership position.
As I pointed out in my look at the state convention buildup from last Friday night, the Maryland Liberty PAC had a very successful hospitality suite in which one of the featured speakers was Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, a passionate pro-liberty elected official who has toured the state (including this local appearance) promoting a variety of ways to fight encroachments on liberty by Annapolis, Washington, and beyond.
I knew about Richard’s latest effort a few weeks back, but I wanted to hold off on mentioning it until it was finally ready to be formally rolled out. But UpholdMyOath.com was promoted at the convention and its key addition to the political landscape is ready for adoption. The “Draft Resolution of Non-Compliance” is designed for counties whose residents believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution – which, after all, is considered the supreme law of the land – trumps any unconstitutional efforts by the state to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms.
So these are some of the developments on the pro-liberty front in the state of Maryland, and it just bolsters the case we are advancing, not to mention that I’m driving the loony Left crazy. (At the risk of giving this guy some actual traffic, you really should read that link and get ready to laugh.) If we can bring the pro-liberty movement into the GOP fold, it will give us an impetus to bring the middle our way.
After all, who could be against liberty?
With new leadership in Jackie Wellfonder, the Wicomico County Republican Club re-established its routine – for one month, since we normally skip a May meeting due to its usual coincidence with Memorial Day as its fourth Monday – and had a very full agenda for its return from a March meeting truncated by an outside event.
But before the meeting began we embarked on something new, as several members and one local politician gathered down the street at Roadie Joe’s for a pre-event happy hour. This was an idea discussed by the club’s newly-installed executive committee at a meeting we had before being sworn in, and we hope to make it a tradition. While it was a modest success, it also gave me a chance to go over the agenda with our new president. Having to defer a meeting made for more business which needed to be conducted.
Leading off the meeting with Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, we soon learned we had a surprise guest who was in town. After I had read the minutes of the last two meetings, I suggested we amend the agenda to defer the Treasurer’s Report, but Congressman Andy Harris interjected, “no, hopefully your treasury is doing better than ours.” So we indeed heard the report before allowing Andy to speak.
It was “a good month to be a Republican,” Andy argued. We now had a distinct advantage on two separate issues: individual rights, as expressed with the loss of the gun bill in the Senate, and fiscal responsibility based on competing budgetary plans.
To Andy, the failure of the gun bill may be “where the President begins to lose his second term.” He couldn’t even keep his Democrats on board, Harris added, and the tactic of creating a 60-vote threshold (in order to prohibit popular pro-gun amendments from consideration) obviously backfired. Meanwhile, Obama “puts the brakes on the economy,” making him more unpopular.
And on the fiscal side, Harris pointed out that neither the President’s nor the Senate’s budget proposals ever balance. While it takes a decade for the House plan to reach equilibrium, Harris voted in favor of an alternative which would have accelerated the timetable to four years, a plan which failed. Yet Andy warned, “until we get true reform on entitlements, we won’t balance.”
Moreover, the cuts would have to come from the spending side. “There is no way a tax increase comes through the House,” said Harris.
Andy also touched on a number of other subjects during his unscheduled remarks, alluding to what should be revealed as an interesting exchange between him and Eric Holder during an Appropriations Committee hearing, talking about what could be a common-sense incremental change to ethanol regulations, and assessing Hillary Clinton’s chances at the 2016 Democratic nomination.
We also found out a little bit more on the ammunition situation, to which manufacturers labor under contracts with the government specifying they must supply indefinite quantities to the government at indefinite times, up to a certain amount, with the federal government dictating the terms. Yet there are millions of rounds of ammunition stockpiled by the government already, and Harris is looking into a way of curtailing the stockpiles in order to make more available to the general public.
Further, Harris deemed the situation in Boston as a “setback” for both the anti-Second Amendment crowd and immigration reform.
Upon the conclusion of Andy’s remarks, it was time to hear from our original scheduled speaker, Delegate Charles Otto.
Charles didn’t have a lot of good news in his brief remarks on the recently-completed Maryland General Assembly session, noting that we passed a $37 billion budget with $1.1 billion more in state debt in addition to a lot of other ill-considered legislation.
But the subsequent discussion brought out a number of questions, such as why the governor hadn’t signed the gun bill yet? Otto noted that the governor has signing ceremonies for bills, generally in May, and the bill will be signed then.
We also found out that a $900,000 earmark for the relocation of Delmarva Public Radio mysteriously appeared in the final budget, despite the fact no bill was introduced for it during the session.
Joe Holloway chimed in about a bill which passed allowing the county to decouple its personal property tax rate from its real property tax rate. (Normally the personal property tax rate had been set at 2 1/2 times the real property tax rate.) Holloway described this bill as a possible end run around the county’s revenue cap. It should be pointed out, though, that last year’s Senate Bill 848 effectively ended Wicomico’s 2 percent limit on property tax increases.
Dave Parker gave a Central Committee report which noted that our Pathfinders seminar “apparently went well,” however, it was plagued by a somewhat small turnout. He also briefly recapped the election of Diana Waterman as Chair, noting our county was evenly split between supporters of Waterman and Collins Bailey, with a vote for Greg Kline thrown in. Two great candidates ended up as officers, though, said Parker.
He also alerted those present that the foes of this year’s Senate Bill 281 are eschewing the referendum process to fight the bill in court, determining their belief that Constitutional rights should be left to a ballot. If it does pass muster in the courts, though, he is working with other counties to propose a nullification resolution.
Our next Central Committee meeting will be May 6, Parker concluded.
In other WCRC business, we also learned we would present our annual scholarship to the winners at our June meeting.
Jackie Wellfonder briefly went over some of her ideas for her term, which actually began at the March meeting cut short by the gun bill townhall meeting. With the happy hour being one proposal, she outlined desires for an additional fundraiser to supplement our Crab Feast and making upgrades to our website and social media presence.
Ann Suthowski took a moment to update us on voter registration efforts, including a Super Saturday we will hold in September – for which she’s looking for nearly 40 volunteers – and speak on behalf on gubernatorial candidate David Craig, for whom she is the “county point person.” He will be doing a three-day tour of the state in June, with our stop being June 4.
I took a few minutes to speak on candidate recruitment and its importance, passing out a list of all the offices contested next year and those who are incumbents. But we also need volunteers to help run these campaigns and to act as treasurers, I added. Next to the candidate himself, the treasurer is the most important person because of our state’s campaign finance laws.
My message was simple: I wanted to make sure every space on that paper had at least one Republican candidate. No longer can we concede offices to the other side because they’ve been there so long, because those are the Democrats who can help their fellows get elected.
While it wasn’t in my remarks last night, I should point out that most of those who have already filed for office at this early stage are Democrats. On the eastern edge of Wicomico County there is a new state legislative district, District 38C, and there’s already a Democrat in the running for what should probably be a reasonably Republican seat. Norm “Five Dollar” Conway no longer has the late Bennett Bozman to help him get votes in Worcester County, so they gave him a much more urban District 38B which mainly covers Delmar, most of Salisbury except the northwest part of the city, and Fruitland. It’s worth noting his district now includes most of the Salisbury University community, which explains the tremendous amount of pork suddenly delivered their way from the state. Amazing how libraries so quickly become a priority item.
That turned out to be the extent of our business, so we adjourned until June 24. Our next meeting will feature a few words from our scholarship winners, with the featured speaker being Dr. Mark Edney, a local surgeon who will be discussing Obamacare.
As I have done in the past, part 1 will deal with my observations on Friday night and part 2 will deal with Saturday’s events.
When I finally arrived in Timonium, a good 45 minutes or so after beginning the stop-and-go battle with I-695 traffic that made me thankful I toil in the Salisbury environs, I knew I was at the right place almost immediately.
But not 15 seconds after I grabbed my bags and headed over to check in, I was greeted by these fine folks doing an old-fashioned sign wave.
So the battle was somewhat joined. And the Bailey forces weren’t deterred by the rain which began just after I arrived – they just moved inside, to the spacious Crowne Plaza lobby.
In the meantime, the people putting Blaine Young’s party together were in the middle of their setup, which included this “can’t miss” signage.
Having checked in and after immediately running into old friends in the lobby, I went to my room to freshen up and prepare for the Executive Committee meeting. I was told the Baltimore County suite would be opening first, so I was hoping to grab a bite to eat and say hello to those I knew therein.
But they weren’t quite open yet, and by the time I got back they were closing (more on that later.)
However, there was another suite with plenty of food available, perhaps the best selection. This was the Draft Charles Lollar suite, and although I didn’t get to say hello to the man himself, I will show that he had a nice spread of giveaway items, including several pocket Constitutions.
Alas, I did not get to add this bad boy to my collection. Instead, I retained the useless collection of losing raffle tickets I have paid for over the years.
On my way down to the Executive Committee meeting, I happened by the setting up of the Maryland Liberty PAC suite. As they did last fall, they had a lot of books for sale. Not sure about the flags, though.
They also were on the Bailey bandwagon, showing their support.
To me, it didn’t seem like there were nearly as many vendor tables as there were at past events. There was one with bundles and bundles of the red convention tote bags, but the only other one I noticed was the Stratgeic Victory Consulting table sitting there all forlorn.
One piece of advice for the nice ladies who run SVC – you need fresher peanuts.
We may need a fresher approach to the Executive Committee meeting, which began several minutes late.
It began well enough: Chair Diana Waterman asked for a moment of silence for the Boston bombing victims. But her report didn’t shed a lot of new light, as she recalled the “wonderful event” of the Reagan gala back in February and noted her predecessor resigned, “moving on to other endeavors.”
Looking at current events, Diana noted our Red, White, and Blue Dinner will be held June 20 with Paul Ryan as featured speaker, and proclaimed the Pathfinders program was “going strong.”
Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman report, spoke about efforts on both the state and national levels to engage voters and train volunteers. On the state level, the Super Saturday program would return in an effort to register new voters. Saturday morning, she continued, would give activists an opportunity to learn about the new voter registration rules in the state.
On the national front, Nicolee spoke briefly about “another incremental step” in reworking the RNC rules but conceded “there is much to be done.”
Diana Waterman chimed in during Nicolee’s remarks regarding the voter registration efforts to point out that we were working on data services for our counties.
In his National Committeewoman report, Louis Pope gushed that he was “excited about our prospects…(after this weekend) we will go back to unity.” He spoke about the recent RNC meeting in Hollywood, joking that “we decided to invade their territory.” Included among those who addressed the event, Louis continued, were Michael Reagan, Dick Chaney, and Allen West. The party also discussed outreach with Asian and Hispanic leaders as well as CPAC speaker Mia Love. “Republicans need to get into their sphere,” warned Pope. The party was embracing ideas for change, but also was in the process of “internal soul-searching.”
Louis also talked briefly about the RNC rules, noting it was “pretty cool” that people were reading them. He also commented on being named to the leadership of the party’s Northeast region, an area where “Republican prospects are certainly improving.”
The main thrust of Brian Griffiths’ YR report was to stress how we should “put our best foot forward” in two key municipal races: Annapolis and Frederick. He was “really excited” about prospects in Frederick, where a number of young Republicans are seeking alderman posts.
Fiona Moodie, representing the College Republicans, made the case for giving her body and the Young Republicans a vote on the Executive Committee. Those adjunct organizations would join the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, who already have their vote.
Amidst the various county reports, one point which was brought up was the concept of regional gatherings or conventions similar to the one Montgomery County has. Obviously the smaller counties could team up to have enough of a critical mass to make them worthwhile.
On my way back from the Executive Committee meeting, which went into a quick closed session to discuss the budget, I stopped to check out David Craig’s room.
Surprisingly to me, there was plenty of room to move around.
By contrast, I walked next door to the Maryland Liberty PAC room and found a large group of passionate activists.
Arguably, it was the most lively of any hospitality suite although I will concede I didn’t stop by all of them.
At the time I walked in, Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild was speaking on the idea of nullification.
“I don’t think Martin O’Malley wants a dozen counties not following his orders,” Rothschild exclaimed. He is working on a blueprint ordinance for counties to resist the gun ordinance.
Outside of the Liberty PAC gathering, gubernatorial hopeful Blaine Young was wooing supporters with a fancy setup.
(Yes, the photo is dark. Not much light in there.)
For a second, though, I thought I ended up on the set of “The Bachelor.”
As it turns out, these roses were for the women who came in. As an added touch, each table was named after a leading female activist in the party. This one I know very well.
Yes, that would be my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen of Prince George’s County. We didn’t have much mischief cooked up for this rendition of the convention, but you never know what’s in the future…
My immediate future at that point was comprised of a lot of choices.
Even though I wasn’t supporting his bid for state Chair, I decided to pay a visit to Greg Kline’s combined suites, since those non-credentialed members of the new media were welcome there.
They were doing an episode of Red Maryland Radio (or Purple Elephant Politics, or both) as I came by.
As it turned out, I got a little guest role when Jimmy Braswell asked me a question about this post on Greg Kline. I spoke my piece, he spoke his, and we basically agreed to disagree. I also found out my fellow Central Committee member Joe Collins is a radio natural.
But because I was having so many other interesting conversations there, I never made it to a number of suites. Granted, there were extenuating circumstances, such as the fact Baltimore County was packing up theirs as I arrived – apparently at the behest of the hotel.
You see, I was actually pretty surprised to find that several hospitality suites were along the same corridor as my room. Since the hotel hadn’t hosted an event such as ours, they apparently had a number of noise complaints – as one consequence, the Red Maryland radio crew had to turn off their speakers.
Anyway, I never made it back to the MoCo, Bongino, or Diana Waterman suites to see how their action was. But I did see Dan since he was a Red Maryland guest after I was.
And the Red Maryland crew had a special surprise for Jackie Wellfonder as the dubbed her the Maryland Blogger of the Year. (Jackie thought they were going to give it to me, I knew she would get it for her hard work.) As I tweeted:
WTG @princy_lyn: selected Maryland blogger of the year. The student has graduated.
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) April 20, 2013
After several hours of conversation and a couple adult beverages, I realized it was well after 1:00 in the morning, so it was time to put myself (and this part) to bed. Part 2 will be tomorrow morning.