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 Obviously this hearsay superseded her previous on-the-record statement that a president’s term is four years, not three years and nine months.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: Intangibles

This is the final part of a ten-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, intangibles are only worth 5 points – unlike other parts, however, these points can be subtractive as well. Intangibles are items like issues that I don’t cover, their websites, how they are running their campaign, and so forth.

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

As has been the case in each of my revised parts, I’m working through the Republicans for House and Senate first, followed by the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and incumbent Democrats last.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Like his primary opponent, Lee keeps opioid abuse at the forefront of his campaign. Aside from that, though, he keeps things rather close to the vest: it’s telling that I had to dig out some nuggets of information.

After a decent start, the lines of communication between the Murphy campaign and me have become a bit strained. I think we work at cross purposes.

One thing Lee has going for him is that he has run a statewide campaign. But the strike against him is that he’s not run a successful statewide campaign and the person he lost in said statewide campaign to is generally the butt of political jokes for his colorful personality and party-jumping skills. Obviously Lee has lost some races in hopeless situations, but this one was like fumbling at the five-yard line on the way to the winning touchdown.

He has picked up the pace to an extent after winning the primary, however. The question is whether his Democrat opponent’s mile-wide support is more than an inch deep. He needs to ask what his opponent has done for Delaware as opposed to what she’s done to Delaware. I am adding two points of five to his score.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Lauren is not shy about expressing her opinion. Perhaps that’s not quite the standard temperament for the Senate, but it seems to work for Ted Cruz. It has gotten her into a little bit of trouble lately as well.

Out of a lot of interesting statements to consider in this category, I’m picking out two.

“So far the righteous anger and frustration conservatives have felt over the years, has only been channeled to only result in tax cuts and deregulation rulings in favor of the socially progressive billionaire class – A billionaire class that looks down upon and views anyone on Main Street America, the American worker, or any social conservative (for that matter) with contempt.”

She is correct to a point; however, I believe the tax cuts and deregulation have improved the lot for all of us. Billionaires are in a better position to prosper, but bear in mind that they have written many of the regulations in order to tamp down potential competition. So deregulation defeats their purpose.

Secondly:

“I reject Bernie’s socialist ideology. But I understand why my generation seems to embrace it. Crippling student loan debt, unaffordable healthcare, unemployment, addiction, low wages, and in-achievable home ownership for the younger generation has become a stagnant norm.

When a socialist candidate provides solutions to their current problems, we’d be fools to believe they won’t embrace it. We have a serious battle ahead of us against a radical socialist takeover.”

What we need to do is properly educate Millennials that what the Bernie/Biden brigade is promising is fool’s gold, the value of which will indebt their grandchildren’s grandchildren to a one-world tyranny where they will be cogs in the machine unless blessed by birth to be in the ruling class. The rest will suffer the serfdom of the Dark Ages.

It’s where I depart from Lauren’s big-government philosophy, because regardless of the intentions of big government, in the end it only succeeds in reducing our liberty.

However, there are two things Lauren is doing very well in this campaign: nationalizing her race (which is a must in an uphill battle like this) and engaging voters at a far more frenetic pace than either her primary opponent or the Democrat incumbent. (However, he will simply bombard the airwaves with 30 second commercials about “orange man bad” and call it engagement. That’s the advantage of a seven-figure war chest Lauren doesn’t have.) And while I don’t agree with her embrace of Big Labor, that overture does make an inroads into her opponent’s core constituency.

I endorsed Lauren in the GOP primary, but in the general election she’s presented a contrast not just to her Democrat opponent but to the other two ballot-eligible opponents as well – and it’s not always favorable to her. Initially I was adding a full five points to her score based on how she has run her primary campaign but now I think she only merits three additional points out of five.

David Rogers (L) (House)

The biggest intangible I can find for Rogers is his belief that we should end qualified immunity for the police as well as the War on Drugs. Both of these seem like knee-jerk reactions to current events, although the latter platform plank has been a longtime libertarian staple in some form or another. (To some extent, I agree with it.)

But to the extent that I have had to dig out information about his campaign, it is a problem. I realize that the minor parties don’t have money to speak of, but with ballot access already assured (unlike the situation in other states) the Libertarians should be selecting candidates who are more willing to spread their word. On this token, they fall short of their IPoD competition. I’m deducting three points of five from his score.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

One intriguing idea that arguably could have made it into the role of government category is that of prohibiting Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C. for more than sixty days a year. “Those asses want to bribe our legislators?” she writes. “They are going to have to fly to every effing district and meet them in a one-to-one basis. That oughta cool their jets.”

Nadine doesn’t mince words about the VA (a “corrupt, mismanaged” institution) either.

But her big win is stating, “We are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Big Government feeds on these rights, and spits on the very citizens it is supposed to serve,” adding, ”Politicians in general cannot have a serious effect on the economy – only negative consequences.” That to me is a message to Lauren Witzke as well as Chris Coons.

For the resources she has, Nadine has run a fairly decent campaign. I’m giving her four points out of five.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This is the sort of rhetoric which tells you CSP is not a politician, “(There has been a) disinformation campaign launched to separate and divide Americans. I think there should be warning labels on FAKE news and fabricated stories. Stiff penalties for crisis actors creating productions that don’t exist and whose intentions are to stir race wars.” It sounds way off on the right, but some of her positions are well left of center.

Out of all the candidates, I posit that she is running the most unconventional race by far. Of course, the problem she has is the same as most other minor-party hopefuls: no name recognition. She may have better face recognition based on her signs, but there aren’t photos on the ballot. All things considered, as hard as she is working on social media I will leave her score the same.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

I alluded to his wish to be a moderating influence in my last part. So while I don’t have the rhetoric I get from other corners of the Senate race, I don’t see him as one who would make needed change either. And his campaign is about as low-key as one can get, which is not conducive to winning or making a difference. I’m deducting one point of five.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

She is running the ultimate “play it safe” campaign and resting on her supposed laurels. Sadly, that may be good enough because too many voters are uninformed and I can only push back the frontiers of ignorance a little bit at the moment. I can also take off the full five points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

We’ve already see him whine about Amy Coney Barrett, which reminds me of his campaign that states, “Chris… works hard to protect our federal courts. He has earned a reputation as a tough, detailed questioner when pressing President Trump’s judicial nominees about their positions on key issues like race discrimination, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality. He has also been crucial in blocking some of President Trump’s least qualified and most dangerous nominees from lifetime appointments to the federal bench.” The only position that matters is how they interpret the Constitution – do they believe it is supposed to be interpreted as written or just made up from what they think it should be?

And when he says, “Protecting the civil rights of every American is one of Chris’ top priorities,” I wonder if some Americans are less protected than others. The same goes for my right to votes, as “Chris is leading efforts to protect the right to vote for all Americans and to ensure that exercising your right to vote is safe, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It was safe until you started pushing the vote-by-mail scam where someone’s vote out of whole cloth cancels out my legally won ballot which I’m going to show up to cast because I can.

We have three people on the ballot who would be way better Senators than Chris Coons. I deduct all five points.

Originally I did my endorsement at this point for the GOP primary, but I think I will hold off for two reasons. One is more punch to the post as I will do the governor’s race at the same time, but the other is because I have two rather close races. Take a look at my standings:

Standings:

House: Murphy 33.5, CSP 24, Rogers 13.5, LBR (-1.5).

Senate: Frost 45.5, Witzke 43.5, Turley 7.5, Coons (-3).

There are categories for each of my top two which were left blank so I want to maximize the opportunity for score improvement. I anticipate making a mid-October endorsement, in time for most mail-in ballots to be sent.

2020 federal dossier: Role of Government

This is the ninth part of a ten-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, role of government is the largest slice of the pie, worth 14 points. 

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

In this instance, I’m providing an overview of how I see the candidate serving as a member of the House or Senate. As has been the case in each of my revised parts, I’m working through the Republicans for House and Senate first, followed by the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and incumbent Democrats last.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Lee is a very lucky guy. I don’t see him as a doctrinaire conservative; fortunately, in getting through the primary, running right down the center stripe made Lee look like the second coming of Ronald Reagan and that was good enough for Delaware Republicans. But then again…

One thing I did prior to writing this part was to look up where Lee stood on issues two years ago when he had a primary against a guy who had run as a Democrat two years prior and nailed illegal signs to trees, and lost. (I like that the internet is forever and he recycled the “gomurph” website. Because of this, I’ve supplemented some previous parts of this over the weekend.) I think he’s shifted a little bit to the left between 2018 and 2020.

As a Congressman, Lee would likely be one of those who we would like for about half his votes and wonder what he was thinking with the other half, particularly with the environmental issues. If he’s fortunate enough to prevail, he almost seems to me like a short-timer who would maybe get through a term or two, not passing anything that would be memorable for how it brought government to heel as it needs to be. In reading his platform and interacting with his campaign, Lee doesn’t come across as the stout conservative we need but more as the Republican whose most agreeable vote every two years may well be for Speaker of the House. 5 points out of 14.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Compared to her primary opponent and his questionable overtures toward limited government in citing the Constitution, we know where Lauren Witzke stands. She fits squarely into the mold of the “big-government conservative” and that strain of populism needs to be eyed suspiciously and kept in check wherever possible.

Those who inhabit Lauren’s corner of the political world are unapologetic about using government to achieve their ends, which to them justifies the means. If the size of the welfare program doesn’t change but the focus shifts to rewarding a different type of behavior, such as having kids in wedlock instead of out of wedlock, it’s considered a success.

This has always been an argument I fail to comprehend: a politician like Lauren believes the government is spending the money regardless of whether it achieves the goals of social conservatives, isolationists, and other strains of populist or not, so we are better off in spending it our way. Of course, the third option they don’t consider is that of bringing government closer to the people by letting states decide how they want to address issues (and spending less in the meantime.) Given their long-term decline in population, perhaps states in the Rust Belt would be very amenable to the style of family-friendly incentives Lauren is proposing at a federal level – something a place like Texas or Florida may not wish to embrace. But one size fits all to Uncle Sam, amirite?

I get that Lauren’s electoral strategy is to nationalize the race by tying herself to Donald Trump and advocating for his no-holds-barred approach to government. It’s just how Trump picked up the union blue-collar vote nationally and how Lauren hopes to spring the upset by attracting the union Democrats who help run New Castle County. It might just work, but is this what America needs in the long run? 4 points out of 14.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Because information on him has been so scarce and hard to come up with, it’s hard to get a good picture of Rogers and his run. My impression of the Libertarian Party has been that there is a left-libertarian side and a right-libertarian side, and Rogers seems to be more toward the left based on what I have found him to say. If he were to win, I believe he would exhibit the worst aspects of the Libertarian Party, the part which seems to forget that this experiment in liberty was meant for a population with a mature morality, not one seeing liberty as a license to avoid responsibility. 3 points out of 14.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

The one thing that intrigues me about Nadine is that she is a pro-life libertarian, which to me represents the right-libertarian side of the coin I alluded to with Rogers above. I don’t think I would agree with her on every issue, but out of all the Senate candidates I believe she has the best idea of the role of government. I can’t give her a lot of points because I don’t have all her answers, but I think my score is appropriate. 8.5 points out of 14.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Purcell is perhaps the most intriguing candidate in the race, and I suppose if you believe it’s an asset that she can’t be pinned down in terms of political philosophy then she would be a winner. I see everything from Qanon citations to ideas which are well left of center in her social media, so she is a definite wild card. I think she would be somewhat to the moderate left side, but if she would caucus with the GOP and be the dogged investigator she holds herself out to be, that would be beneficial. Then again, there’s always room for such a talent in journalism. 7 points out of 14.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Mark is trying to portray himself as a moderate who would work with the best ideas from both sides. My problem with that, of course, is twofold: the Left has no ideas that don’t involve additional federal government control and those who inhabit the middle of the road get run over. I also think that the idea of him benefitting his line of work – which is renewable energy – would be counterproductive to our goal of a thriving economy. So he doesn’t score well in this category. 2 points out of 14.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

The fact she has dropped her issues page for her 2020 run and has continually touted the fact she is the first minority female Congressional representative in Delaware history tells me that she is coasting on name recognition.

Yet the person who’s supposed to be representing all of Delaware regularly speaks to issues that divide us, working harder for certain races, genders, and privileged groups than others. Perhaps she’s a good person, but I believe we can do a lot better because she’s not representing the best interests of this state. 0 points out of 14.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

In one way, I think Chris seems to get his traditional role as Senator. His calling in political life seems to be that of getting the federal government to cover up for the mistakes the governance of his home state makes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to get the disconnect between the failure of the state government and the needed reform of the federal government, which can’t happen because “orange man bad.” On issue after issue, he fails the productive people of Delaware – however, the small bit he does in fulfilling his role gives him the meager score I will grant him. 1 point out of 14.

Standings:

House: Murphy 31.5, CSP 24, Rogers 16.5, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Frost 41.5, Witzke 40.5, Turley 8.5, Coons 2.

With that, I have nearly reached the end of my look at these candidates. It’s comprehensive to be sure, but there are other things which have slipped through the cracks that I consider as part of my final piece: the intangibles.

2020 federal dossier: Entitlements

This is the eighth 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, entitlements are worth 13 points. And in case you are wondering, I don’t get along with the “it’s our money that we’re only getting back” crowd – to me, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are entitlements. Here’s where I will see what the candidates have to say.

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

It’s become an annual rite of sorts – it seems like every year we hear the news that Social Security and Medicare are projected to take in less than they give out years sooner than projected. We’re assured they’re not going to go bankrupt but there may come a point where they won’t be able to meet the promised benefits. (That always seems to be just about the time I am eligible to collect.)

The fix is relatively simple, they say: ratchet up the retirement age, begin means testing, or place more income inside the reach of the Social Security tax (which caps someplace in the low six figures.) On the other hand, we have a President who earnestly believed a booming economy would solve the problem. All I know is that something will be done in the next few years because doing nothing will be its own action, with consequences.

I’m going to foreshadow my thoughts on the next part regarding the role of government here by stating some unpopular opinions.

The problem with the federal approach isn’t the end goal, but the approach. As I see it, there is an implication that we need a federal solution to a problem they created when in fact health insurance is one of those commodities best handled at a state level. The needs of Florida and its high retiree population are vastly different than a state like Maryland which trends younger.

It should have been a priority in the previous Congress to rip out Obamacare by the roots, but instead our side fumbled it away. I’ve heard the argument that most of the program was rendered moot by Congress removing the tax penalty (putting it outside the boundaries of NFIB v. Sebelius) but nothing would have sent the message more clearly than a straight repeal. We also kicked the other entitlement cans down the road thanks to a lack of emphasis on a fix from the top.

Seeing how gutless Congress is on these subjects, and having a long memory of the reception a modest proposal on Social Security received (remember George W. Bush wishing to privatize a fraction of it?) it’s frankly disappointing to see no new ideas from the field. Again foreshadowing, I’m not sure the GOP portion of the Congressional field wishes to rightsize government. It’s more the approach of making government perhaps run more efficiently but not trying to restore a more Constitutional approach.

Since I originally wrote this, much of the field has checked in on the subject. We remain in the same batting order.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

“The government needs to get out of the health insurance business once and for all. Competition should drive the market for health insurance, not mandates from the federal government. I believe that individuals are best equipped to make health insurance decisions for their families.”

I like that, so far. But there’s more.

“The citizens of this country should be offered a competitive choice for health insurance plans. I support legislation allowing families to buy health insurance across state lines. It would drive down the cost of health insurance, making it more affordable and more accessible. If you live in Delaware and a better plan is available in Nebraska, you should be able to buy it.”

That’s been a standard GOP line for awhile, but there’s a lot of merit to it – and it’s a start to what needs to be a lengthy adult discussion. 4 points out of 13.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

This is one subject Lauren has not updated us on, but we still have time. No points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

And he starts out so well: “Too often the government tries to help people out only to end up creating a cycle of dependency.”

Then the wheels come off and Rogers goes against the grain of his party, stating, “There are too many restrictions on if people can have money and how they have to spend it.  This ends up making the government very paternal in nature, and it also leads to a massive bureaucracy.  We should eliminate all social welfare programs and replace them with a universal basic income.  We should treat all people as if they are adults and if they need assistance we give it to them.”

I thought the idea of libertarianism was to enhance the individual. A UBI program simply becomes wealth redistribution from those who wish to work to those who don’t. Thus, he gets 0 points out of 13.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

It’s brief but golden: “Public health belongs to the states, CDC can only provide guidance. No provision in the Constitution for government to run public health.” Bingo! There’s no provision there for Social Security or any other entitlements – spare me the tired “general welfare” tripe. 10 points out of 13.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This is like a sketchbook of ideas:

“Reach the goal of affording everyone in America equal healthcare at reasonable prices. Restoring funds stolen from social security.” Not sure how you can get back what was spent long ago, though.

“Reducing the price of healthcare and medication costs so that all Americans can receive affordable healthcare.” It’s a good idea, but it’s missing some steps from point A to point B.

“Establish a SPECIAL INVESTIGATION TASK FORCE to ensure transparency and efficiency of the spending of our nation’s tax dollars… I have 32 years banking experience which I can use to conduct audits. This should reveal much waste and funds can be redirected towards American healthcare programs.” I don’t think the powers that be want that – they benefit from the waste.

“I would also expand on home healthcare programs as they appear to be more effective than nursing homes. Both patients and healthcare providers enjoy a happier environment.” It seems to me the private sector can take the lead on this. The mixed bag gets her 3 points out of 13.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Mark wants to: “Provide affordable health care and affordable prescription drug prices for all. Provide a solid safety net for those who cannot afford health care benefits. Provide a platform for sustainable social programs. No need for Medicare for All, however.

Provide, provide, provide. You basically created Medicare for All without the fancy name. 0 points out of 13.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

From 2016, she charges, “Most Republicans in Washington want to gamble with our seniors’ wellbeing by privatizing Social Security and cutting Medicare, I’m running for Congress to ensure that doesn’t happen.” Too bad because the Republicans have the right approach.

But it gets worse. “Protecting and strengthening Obamacare is vital to the interests of our state. The Affordable Care Act has brought the number of uninsured down to historic lows, taking the burden off the backs of taxpayers and helped stabilize sky rocketing insurance rates. The law is not nearly perfect, but it is already a huge step forward.” Demonstrably wrong.

“Tens of thousands of Delawareans have insurance now, but we still have to do more to bring costs down. Republicans in Washington propose we do this by taking away insurance from millions of people. This is not the way to improve our system.” The way to improve our system is to add a little personal responsibility and competition, neither of which you’ve encouraged.

No wonder you don’t do an issues page. 0 points out of 13.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

“Chris believes that access to quality, affordable health care is a right, not a privilege, and in the midst of a global pandemic he’s fighting harder than ever to make this a reality for all of us.”

Health care is not a right. I am not entitled to have you pay for my health care.

“Chris has pushed back time and again on President Trump and congressional Republicans who want to put Americans’ health care back in the hands of insurance companies.” So instead he would give it to some unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat. We can change insurance companies. 0 points out of 13.

Standings:

House: Murphy 26.5, CSP 17, Rogers 13.5, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Witzke 36.5, Frost 33, Turley 6.5, Coons 1.

I’m going to share my thoughts on the candidates and how they seem to perceive the role of government in my next, penultimate part.

2020 federal dossier: Foreign Policy

This is the seventh 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, foreign policy is worth 12 points.

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

Foreign policy ties in well with the previous categories of immigration and trade, but to me the subject is more than that. As long as we have troops in harm’s way, support of the military will be a key aspect of our desired policy as well as a stance that considers our interests first, not the vague wishes of some global organization. I’d like us to be a nation which treats its friends like royalty and isn’t afraid to spit in the eye of our enemies.

It’s perhaps not surprising that I have only received the most meaningful input from our Senatorial candidates since they have the most to do with foreign policy in terms of approving treaties and such. However, the House is important as well because they are supposed to have the power of the purse.

So let’s start on this road. As usual 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)

I have gone through most of what I have seen from Lee and haven’t found a comment on the issue. I’m sure he has opinions to share, though. No points.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Lauren is advocating for a very isolationist foreign policy, to wit: “Our military will be strengthened but used strictly for the defense of our nation at home. She will not support meddling in the affairs of foreign nations, and rejects regime change abroad. Foreign aid will be ended except in the events of natural disasters, and funds will be re-diverted towards Family Restoration efforts and American infrastructure.” Another way she puts it: ending the “forever wars.”

However, there is a contradiction there to something else she’s noted on social media: “Christianity is increasingly under attack in the United States and Europe. When I’m in the U.S. Senate, these attacks will not be taken lightly!” In the case of Europe, isn’t that meddling in their affairs?

Look, I’m actually for defunding the UN (and not our police departments, as she’s also written) but either you’re hands off or you’re the world’s policeman. Our foreign policy over the last 80 years or so has tended toward the latter thanks to our involvement in “entangling alliances” like NATO and others.

I give Lauren mad credit for one thing, though: she knows who the enemy is in more ways than one: “If Chris Coons and his Democrat allies weren’t busy crafting their fake ‘Russian Collusion’ narratives, our lawmakers could have focused on the real national threat from China, which has cost us not only the lives of 80,000 (at the time she wrote it, now closer to double that) Americans but untold trillions of dollars in economic damage.” 7 points out of 12.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Rogers holds the common libertarian view of isolationism, believing it was wrong for both George W. Bush to invade Iraq and Barack Obama to topple the Gaddafi regime in Libya. “I believe in having a military that is strong enough for self defense,” he adds, “but I do not believe in continuing our imperialistic military doctrine.” I think that is a sound approach. 7.5 points out of 12.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

Echoing the libertarian approach, she noted on social media about meddling in other countries, “It comes back to bite us in the ass.” We’re spending a fortune to be the world’s police force, she says, but would consider intervening if invited in. 7.5 points out of 12.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Believes we should foster world peace by embracing our diversity. Now that sounds bad, but at least she lives it as her social media has friends around the globe. I don’t agree with the approach but at least she’s not a hypocrite. 3.5 points out of 12.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Is quiet on the subject, at least as far as I know. No points.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

The campaign of issue avoidance continues. No points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

It’s probably best he doesn’t include this on his issues page. No points.

Standings:

House: Murphy 22.5, CSP 14, Rogers 13.5, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Witzke 36.5, Frost 23, Turley 6.5, Coons 1.

We are closing in on the final three categories in this federal sweepstakes. The next one I have is entitlements. Sure, the people want Social Security and Medicare fixed but have these fine folks spoken out about it?

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)

I wish she would address this topic as Libertarians tend to be the best on this subject. No points.

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.

2020 federal dossier: Trade and Job Creation

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

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

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

Once again, I 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)

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

In looking at Lee’s previous campaign, I gleaned a lot more information about places he may go. Two years ago he advocated for Delaware to become a motion picture center, noting, “Having been in the motion picture industry for the past 30 years, and having lived and worked in New York and Louisiana, I have seen how, through innovative political leadership, these states have attracted the motion picture industry – and the dozens of related industries that support it – creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in added revenue. This, in turn, creates priceless exposure for their respective states. Why can’t we do the same here?”

Lee also opined in his 2018 campaign that, “Delaware once had a competitive advantage in the banking and payment systems industries. I believe a focused effort on training in coding, artificial intelligence, and database management, coordinated through the University of Delaware, Delaware State and the other fine institutions of higher learning throughout our state, could capitalize on the dynamic fintech and blockchain segments which are here to stay!” Perhaps he needs to bring back these old chestnuts and add them to the conversation. 5.5 points out of 9.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

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

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

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

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

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

I think a national right-to-work law would be a good thing, but it is an overreach on state’s rights. By the same token, there should be no federal prohibition on the right for states to mandate open shops. 4 points out of 9.

David Rogers (L) (House)

I’m quite disappointed I can’t find anything he’s said on this vital topic. No points.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

It’s a very succinct way of saying it, but Nadine recently noted that regulations are “permanent solutions to temporary problems.” In her eyes, the best thing Congress can do is go through U.S. Code and cut things out. Sounds like a solid start. 5 points out of 9.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

I’m sure she has something to say about this considering she’s a small business person herself as an Uber driver. I’ll give her 1 point of 9 for that.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Turley, who is also a businessman, couches many of his remarks on the government response to the pandemic, which he called “a good idea in theory, but poorly run.” And while he favors deregulation and is a “strong believer” in Made in America, he also isn’t opposed to government helping his chosen industry out at the expense of others, which hurts him a little bit here. 3.5 points out of 9.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

She has heavy union support, which is not necessarily a help to job creation. In her previous campaign, she argued for tax credits for hiring but negated any help that would provide by demanding a higher minimum wage and the Obama-era overtime rules. Yet she also was an advocate for vocational training, meaning she has a more mixed bag than most Democrats. The only problem is that these are issues which mainly could (and probably should) be handled at the state level. 2 points out of 9.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

As he says, “Chris also has a long record of protecting the rights and pensions of organized labor, advancing trade policies that support American workers, and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

A champion of American jobs that build a strong, thriving middle class, Chris strongly supports raising the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers and unions, and requiring equal pay for equal work.”

It sounds great until you think about treating the biggest slacker at work the same way you reward the guy who puts in 110 percent every day. This may be the biggest problem I have with organized labor, as someone I love dearly told me long ago, “unions are for the lazy man.” And Chris has Big Labor so far up his behind that no one knows where they stop and he begins. That little bit of protectionism isn’t enough to mask very serious flaws in the approach. 1 point of 9.

Standings:

House: Murphy 15, LBR 3.5, CSP 3, Rogers 2.

Senate: Witzke 19.5, Frost 15.5, Turley 4.5, Coons 1.

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

2020 federal dossier: Social Issues

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

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

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

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

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

The slower go comes from this statement, “We should instead provide support to mothers and their families facing hardship, and ensure they have the resources necessary to choose life.” This, to me, puts the federal government in a role in which they don’t really belong. I can buy this a little bit more if he were running for state office – which Lee has a few times over his long, uphill political career – but this is another case where money = strings and I don’t support those. 3 points out of 8.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

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

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

It’s been argued that we can’t legislate morality. Witzke also backs a Constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, which would be the extent of federal involvement I might favor. Until such an amendment is passed – and I’m not holding my breath on that one – abortion should be a state issue. 5 points out of 8.

David Rogers (L) (House)

If I were to assume his stance from being a member of the Libertarian Party, I would likely not agree with it. But I can’t say that based on my next candidate. I can skip giving him a score, though. No points.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

I’m going to quote her verbatim from a social media exchange:

“Now, do you approve of the government paying for that choice? And what about the individual liberty of the unborn child? Does that person not have rights?

You know when is a good time to make a choice? Before sex.

I think it should be the person’s responsibility not to get knocked up if they aren’t prepared to deal with those consequences…

I also believe that the abortion issue belongs to the states. Why should nine people in Washington, D.C. decide what the people of Texas, Minnesota, and California should consider acceptable?”

The beautiful thing about this is that Nadine thinks almost exactly like I do on the subject, but she’s a woman so she doesn’t get the stinkeye some man like me would get if he said it. I’d love to know where she stands on same-sex marriage, but for now this is an outstanding answer from a person representing a group notorious for promoting the liberty of the woman over the life of the unborn, a position exactly backwards. 6.5 points out of 8.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Again, a little surprised she has not expounded on this. But there’s still time and I think she visits the site. No points.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

I am less surprised that Turley has said nothing. No points.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Here’s what you need to know:

“EMILY’s List has been working to elect pro-choice Democratic women at all levels of government for 35 years. I’m grateful for their support as they continue to be the largest resource for women running for public office.

I am proud to stand with Planned Parenthood and remain supportive of their efforts to advocate for and provide equitable healthcare to the women of our state.” You mean equitable baby murdering? 0 points out of 8.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

Again, all you need to know:

“Chris is a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, and he believes that decisions about a woman’s health – including pregnancy – should be left to her and her doctor. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chris has successfully fought Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, gut the Title X family planning program, and take away women’s rights in Delaware and across the country.”

There ain’t one damn right taken away if Roe v. Wade were overturned. In fact, rights would be restored. Get this man out of office. 0 points out of 8.

Standings:

House: Murphy 9.5, CSP 2, Rogers 2, LBR 1.5.

Senate: Witzke 15.5, Frost 10.5, Turley 1, Coons 0.

The next portion of this deep dive will look at the topics of trade and job creation. People actually respond to this subject.

2020 federal dossier: Second Amendment

This is the second part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, the Second Amendment is worth 6 points.

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

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

To a person, they will tell you they support the Second Amendment but what do they really mean? Hopefully I will bring a little bit of clarity to this with my post. As I did with education, the following is a summary of their published platforms, their social media comments, and their direct answers. In this case 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.

With the exception of the incumbents who have a voting record to compare, each of them available to me via social media was asked: Since we all want “common sense gun laws,” what would you change about federal gun laws to make them “common sense?” The best answers would get all six points available to them.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

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

A gun is an inanimate tool until someone loads it, picks it up, points it at someone, and fires. All these steps must be followed for criminal gun violence. I think the old adage that “an armed society is a polite society” comes into play here since the vast majority of gun owners have probably never fired their weapon outside of a range and those who have were likely hunting. 2.5 points out of 6.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

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

Unlike her cohorts, she has a strict pledge that she “will vote against every measure that seeks to restrict the Second Amendment, and will pass legislation to take back Americans’ gun rights that have already been usurped by feckless lawmakers of the past.” The second part is really the phrase that pays, although right now she probably doesn’t have enough help to play along in the Senate. A full 6 points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Rogers makes a point that crime is higher and criminals more aggressive in nations where gun ownership is forbidden, such as Great Britain. That’s a good reason to protect our rights, but it’s not the full reason. 2 points out of 6.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

Sadly, she has not yet addressed the subject on social media or when asked. No points.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

The same holds true for CSP, which is really surprising to me given the length with which she has elaborated other positions. No points.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Like his IPoD cohort, Turley has not discussed the issue in a venue where I have discerned his position. No points.

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

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Despite her lack of an issues page, I only had to go back to 2016 to find this nugget:

“We need to figure out long-term solutions to this problem by putting much tougher restrictions on who can own a gun and what those guns can do…

But, right now, we need to quickly close loopholes that allow criminals to get their hands on guns with ease, increase background checks on everyone who wants to purchase a gun and institute a cooling off period so no one can purchase a gun without being vetted thoroughly.”

Really, no, we don’t. 0 points out of 6.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

He’s just as bad as LBR as he touts his endorsements by the usual cast of gun grabbers and stating he’s “not afraid to stand up to the NRA.” How about standing up for the Constitution like you’re supposed to? You took an oath to defend it, remember?

Anyone who refers to guns as “weapons of war” is automatically disqualified. 0 points out of 6.

Standings:

House: Murphy 6.5, CSP 2, Rogers 2, LBR 1.5.

Senate: Witzke 10.5, Frost 4, Turley 1, Coons 0.

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

2020 federal dossier: Education

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

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

Today I’m comparing and contrasting the hopefuls for federal office from Delaware on the subject of education. How do they conform to what really needs to occur to improve the educational system?

To do the research, I went through each candidate’s website and social media. I also asked a specific education-related question of the non-incumbents I could reach via social media.

The following is a summary of their published platforms, their social media comments, and their direct answers. In this case 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.

I also give the point totals out of the five point system.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

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

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

It goes reasonably well with something he wrote for his 2018 run, which was, “We ought to support our teachers and allow them to do what they do best, which is to motivate, inspire and teach our children, instead of robotically teaching our children how to take standardized tests, like Common Core.” So he hasn’t wavered on that principle. 4 points out of 5.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

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

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

She even scored better when she stated “funding should follow the child” in a more recent post. 4.5 points out of 5.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Unfortunately, the limited amount of information I could find on Rogers did not include an educational platform. However, I know he has children so he may have an interest in it. No points.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

Calling education “the most powerful weapon in our anti-poverty arsenal,” Frost would insure that dollars go to education and not “social justice agendas that statistics show to be ineffective.” She would advocate for a focus on reading, writing, math, and (especially) history.

Pointing out the “one size fits all” system we have diminishes the talents of the gifted while minimizing opportunities for special needs kids, Frost believes that, “The free market would produce educational institutions to encourage the gifted, while providing opportunities for educational needs of those with special needs. I would like to see all children able to choose opportunities tailored to their needs and gifts.”

She believes the federal government should have no control over education but concedes they will for the foreseeable future. Still, the Department of Education should be “minimized.” 4 points out of 5.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Catherine advocates for us to “Strive towards innovation, higher academic standards and reducing the cost of education.” She also has some interesting beliefs about how children are being brainwashed with MKULTRA techniques, which I guess requires much further explanation. “We have to figure out how to unprogram the kids,” she adds, “So much damage has been done.”

She has a pair of very interesting ideas, though. CSP believes that schools should be realigned so they teach subjects in sections, with students having to master the section with no regard to grade or age. I suppose if it takes someone to age 25 to master long division, so be it. She compares it to advancing through belts in karate – which, by the way, was the subject of an afterschool program she began in the 1990s. “I developed afterschool programs where we picked children up from school, gave them a snack, they completed their homework, we checked homework, then they went to karate and parents picked them up at 6:30 with their homework completed,” she wrote. “All students went to straight A’s.”

There are interesting ideas here but these aren’t necessarily the limited government we need – although she says the karate idea does not have to be a government program. 2 points out of 5.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Mark believes we should bring education down to the local and state levels, but fails to run anywhere with details on just how that would be done. 1 point out of 5.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

LBR does not have an issues page on her 2020 site and her social media is skimpy on details. However, the internet is forever so I found the platform she ran on in 2016 to be first elected.

At the time, she set a “national goal of debt-free college” and called for “concentrating on a comprehensive education plan that improves K-12 education, ensures college is affordable, and helps those who do not go to college connect with workforce training and education that does not leave them behind.” To me, that is more of a state concern than a federal one.

One point where I would nod my head in agreement insofar as philosophy, though, is “I believe that we need to increase vocational training options. Programs that are closely tied with local employers so that participating students have a clear path to gainful employment should be expanded in Delaware’s secondary schools, technical colleges, and community colleges.” So do that at a state level. It’s a misunderstanding of role of government to believe otherwise. 1.5 points out of 5.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

There are a lot of subjects Coons expounds on among his issues, but surprisingly education is not one. Getting an “A” from the NEA, though, is enough to get an “F” from me. No points out of 5.

Standings:

House: Murphy 4, CSP 2, LBR 1.5, Rogers 0.

Senate: Witzke 4.5, Frost 4, Turley 1, Coons 0.

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