The separation of church and state

Initially this was going to be part of an upcoming “odds and ends” piece, but the longer I thought about it, the more I felt it needed the promotion. So here you are.

Erick Erickson is the only person I pay for a Substack subscription, and it’s because he writes well about the interection of political conservatism and religion, seeing that he has a background in both. Now I don’t always agree with him, but in a couple pieces lately he’s made good points I felt were worth sharing and expanding on. The odds and ends regarding Delaware and other things can wait a day or two. After all, it IS my sandbox here.

In the first instance, Erick ponders the question whether you can be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time. I’m going to assume for the sake of the argument that we are not talking about a Joe Biden who is a Christian for show but governs in a manner that’s not too Biblical, in my estimation. Then again, that could just be my bias showing, so let’s get to Erick’s money paragraphs here:

If I, formerly elected Republican Erick Erickson who has never and will never vote for any candidate who is pro-abortion and once filibustered a resolution to make Barack Obama an honorary member of my city council before advancing legislation to privatize the local police force when it tried to unionize, were to sit in a church and have the pastor tell me to vote Republican, I’d have to leave the church. I know some people go to church for political rallies. I go for Jesus. For a pastor in a pulpit to tell me I must choose one group of sinners over another because the sins of the Democrats are so much more at war with Christian culture than the sins of the Republicans, the pastor would still be telling me to choose a sinner instead of Jesus. Preach the gospel.

But preach the gospel in such a way that convicts the congregation of their sins. Preach Christ in such a way that there is a clear alternative to the world. Preach on the sins and do not shy away from them. I suspect if a preacher does this, he will be pulling people out of allegiances to sin and allegiances to politicians who are hostile to the things of God without turning them off over partisanship.

Erick Erickson, “The Partisan Church Divide,” Erick Erickson’s Confessions of a Political Junkie, May 2, 2022.

It’s granted that those in my little church in Salisbury, Maryland tend to vote Republican simply because the Democrats seldom put up a candidate in state and national elections who is appealing to them. Yet if I were to check into their political registration I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a lot of them remain Democrats because either that’s how their family always voted or because they believed in the role of government being a hand up. On the latter point, I believe generations of handing up have made people dependent on the god of government and not the God whose Son was Jesus Christ. People who have rendered unto Caesar no longer seem to render unto Christ what is His, yet many of those who follow Christ serve their fellow man through volunteering, freely giving of their time and treasure.

But Erick concludes with his Most Important Point:

I fear for the Republican Party when my Christian brothers and sisters who allied with the GOP over abortion or sexual ethics get so focused on the sins of the other party that they, in allyship, are not as bold in calling out the sins inside our own tent. We will become just like the Democrats over time — a party without God convinced we carry His banner to deliver a false heaven of idolatry to this earth of idol worshippers.

Ibid.

This is a part where I struggle to some extent – not that I see Republicans as perfect by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I’m no longer in their party – but there’s such a wealth of material on the other side it’s like shooting fish in a barrel and I sometimes get to looking at it as taking the gains where I can get them. For example, Donald Trump was far from a perfect man but he advanced the cause when it needed to be promoted. Because absolute power corrupts absolutely, we can spend hours heatedly pointing out the foibles of politicians of all stripes while forgetting we only control the life of one person – the self.

I thought the timing of this was interesting when only a week before Erick had written about the Right suffering from “a persecution complex.” On that front, it brings up an interesting point.

Over the last few months, our small group from church has spent its time watching an episode of The Chosen each week. For those unfamiliar with The Chosen, it’s a crowdsourced episodic program available online or on several non-network outlets through Angel Studios – it’s even watchable through an app on your phone. (Another project of Angel Studios is called Dry Bar Comedy, which gives you an idea of their worldview.)

The Chosen follows the adult life of Jesus Christ, the main story beginning at the point where he begins performing miracles and gathering disciples. But a constant on the program is the heavyhanded spectacle of the Roman Empire, which seems to look at the Jews overall as something of a barely tolerated nuisance and sees Jesus as someone who is not only anethema to the “official” Roman multitheistic religion but also one who upsets the apple cart of having subjects to the Emperor (at that time, Tiberius) and his state-level leaders, such as King Herod Antipas. I have no idea if the series will lead there, but surely the subject of persecution will arise if they explore the time of the apostle Paul, who spent the first years of his adult life as Saul, one of those persecutors. “I am Jesus who thou persecutest, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” said Jesus in Acts 9.

In this nation of ours we spend a lot of time kicking against the pricks, as we fight tooth and nail over the right to kill our babies, keep God out of our schools but allow groomers promoting transgenderism to teach classes, and generally otherwise excuse behavior that would have been frowned upon in the generation of my parents. (I’m thinking in a Proverbs 22:6 manner here.) Yet I continue to pray for revival despite all that, and I’m sure Erick does too.

As I said, I don’t always agree with him but more than most I think he gets it. These are just two good examples.

Incremental progress?

So the much-ballyhooed 2022 school board elections are over, and the winners will soon get to place their stamp on their respective districts for the next four years (in most cases.) More to the point of this post, though, it was about this time last year that I wrote the following:

It was a great idea for Patriots for Delaware to take that first step (of endorsing school board candidates), and now they have some inkling what to expect. Hopefully come May of next year, they will be celebrating some initial victories on the road back to sanity for the state of Delaware.

“Disheartening numbers,” May 13, 2021.

As it turned out, the Patriots for Delaware did get a couple victories – but also a couple stinging rebuffs as well.

This cycle was interesting in that the state GOP also got involved by noting which school board candidates were registered Republicans, so to me you had three groups of hopefuls worth watching:

  • Those candidates endorsed by Patriots for Delaware – a total of 11.
  • Those candidates listed as Republican. In contested elections, there were also a total of 11, but there wasn’t as much overlap as one might think.
  • Incumbent candidates. Here in Sussex County there was only one in the five contested school board elections. By my count statewide there were nine, which is surprising given the number of seats available.

While the P4D batted a collective .000 in contested elections last year (their one winner won by acclamation) they improved to 2-for-11 this year by winning contests in Delmar and Milford. However, at the same time they lost two incumbent endorsed candidates in the Colonial and Capital school districts as they were among those seeking re-election who fell short. Basically they lost a little ground in terms of directly endorsed candidates as the winners won in smaller districts.

The Republicans, on the other hand, did a shade better in going 3-for-11, with the caveat that three of their losses came in seeking the same seat in the Smyrna district. (Perhaps they did a good job of splitting the vote for the incumbent, who won.) Out of their two incumbent GOP stalwarts running, the one who had the P4D endorsement lost (Leo Magee in the Colonial district) while the other one who wasn’t so endorsed won (Linda Hitchens, here in Laurel.)

The incumbents were the story to me. Particularly in Sussex County, there were a number of incumbents who chose not to run again – Hitchens was the only one in the five contested Sussex elections. Out of nine incumbents who ran around the state, though, five of them lost at the ballot box, so there was a lot of change made in that respect. Two of the five holdovers who lost, as I noted, got the Patriots for Delaware endorsement so that may have been a step backward, but one of the Republicans knocked off an incumbent in Smyrna so their representation stayed fairly even. (Along with Hitchens, another Republican retained her seat in the Woodbridge district over a P4D-endorsed candidate.)

So where do we go from here?

The one thing that stuck out at me about this race locally was the deluge of signs purchased for (or by) Linda Hitchens. I mean, I tip my hat for making the expenditure because it helped her win, but that expense may have been overkill and now she’s stuck with a garage full of signs for four years. But it led me to learn a little something about Delaware’s campaign finance laws:

Notwithstanding § 8003 of this title, or any other provision of this chapter, a candidate for election to a school board or to any other public office that pays less than $1,000 per year is not required to form a candidate committee if the candidate signs under penalty of perjury a statement, in a form prepared by the Commissioner, certifying that the candidate does not intend or expect that the candidate’s campaign will receive or spend, from the date of the first contribution or expenditure on behalf of the candidate’s election until the end of the year in which the election for the office is held, more than $5,000. If, notwithstanding the execution of the statement, the candidate’s campaign nevertheless receives more than $5,000 in contributions or expends more than $5,000, including any contributions or expenditures by the candidate, before the end of the year in which the election for the office is held, the candidate shall, within 7 days after the receipt or expenditure in excess of $5,000, notify the Commissioner and cause to be filed all reports that would otherwise have been required under this chapter.

Title 15, section 8004, Delaware Code Online.

Basically the candidate signs a form similar to what I called an ALCE when I ran in Maryland, so they don’t have to publicly account for their spending in a small-dollar election. That’s why I don’t find campaign finance information on most school board candidates.

It makes me wonder if conservative groups like Patriots for Delaware should endorse with cash rather than Facebook posts. A $500 donation, good list of supporters – that list of e-mail addresses and social media friends has to be good for something – and a couple volunteers in any school district can litter the place with yard signs that bring name recognition. Moreover, if there’s more name recognition it may be our supporters that fill in the gap between what little turnout there is (in Laurel it was 2.4%, with the biggest downstate total Milford’s 7.84%) and even 10% turnout, which would swamp all the elections. To use Laurel as an example, if they could have brought turnout up to 10 percent strictly with supporters of Joe Kelley, they would have won that race by over 700 votes! Even getting it to 5% turnout with his supporters would have won it.

To use another example, in Seaford, getting out just 1% more turnout with supporters of P4D-endorsed George Del Farno would have taken it for him, as Seaford lagged with abysmal 2% turnout.

Based on the last couple years I had an over/under of 400 votes for Laurel, but for the second straight year we fell short. (In the last three years we have gone from 582 votes in 2020, mostly in person, to 358 last year and just 283 this year. So my wife and I were almost 1% of the electorate, as I talked her into voting. As a reasonably local comparable, Woodbridge went from 282 in 2020 to 722 last year back down to 436 this year. I guess some races are more interesting than others.) Still, it’s worth noting that it’s not just our side trying to ratchet up turnout – supposedly the Democrats were doing their own GOTV drive for school board elections, but I’m not sure that has as much impact down here.

Obviously there’s going to be a lot of emphasis on the legislative races this fall, since everyone in the Delaware General Assembly is on the ballot this year. But the lesson we can learn from the school board race is that our side needs to figure out a way to cut through the noise and turn out voters.

The trouble with populism

Anyone who has read here over the last 16 years or so can guess that, most of the time, I vote for the Republican candidate in a electoral race. But there have been exceptions over the years, especially when I have a Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate I like better, and 2020 was one of them.

When I endorsed for Delaware’s U.S. Senate race 18 months ago, I noted:

(Lauren Witzke) would be an almost automatic choice except for two places I vehemently disagree with her: one being the idea of incentivizing marriage and family through government policy (as opposed to that of merely not penalizing it) and the other being her stance against right-to-work as some sort of appeal to Big Labor voters – never mind that jobs tend to accrue to right-to-work states when all other conditions are substantially equal. Those are two big strikes against her, and her reaction to RBG’s death was very nearly strike three – somehow she managed to foul it off and stay alive.

“For Delaware 2020,” monoblogue, October 25, 2020.

Thanks to the Libertarians running a right-leaning candidate I voted for Nadine Frost instead, and it turned out I didn’t cost Lauren the race by doing so; in fact, she trailed all four other GOP statewide candidates and I don’t think it was because Chris Coons is all that popular.

The allusion to RBG upon her passing was really controversial, but in looking that gem up I found this quote from Witzke:

“Well the truth of the matter is that the Delaware GOP keeps losing and they think they can beat the liberals by becoming more liberal and that’s not gonna be the case, this is war.”

Roman Battaglia, Delaware Public Media, “GOP Senate candidate retains party backing, despite condemnation of social media posts,” September 21, 2020. Quoting Lauren Witzke.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Witzke hasn’t thrown her hat into the House race (since there’s no Senate race this year) because then how do you explain “becoming more liberal” with this social media complaint?

In full support of Student Loan Forgiveness:

Having crippling student loan debt makes it as difficult as possible for young people to buy a home, get married, and have children. An entire generation has become a slave to debt, signing their lives away at 18-not knowing that the US Government would import the third world to compete with them and push wages down in the workforce.

If the GOP was really the “party of the working-class” they would get behind this and get this done, in addition to seizing college endowments to prevent it from happening again.

Lauren Witzke, Social media post, April 28, 2022.

Never mind she got slaughtered in the comments, I have to say my piece too.

There’s a difference between conservatism and populism. One big worry I had about a Trump presidency early on was that the GOP would be pushed in a more populist direction, but he generally managed to straddle the line well and didn’t let his populist side out too much.

But in Trump’s term, he made two moves toward canceling student loans: in September 2019, before the CCP virus struck us, he signed an executive order that canceled student loan debt for permanently disabled veterans, which he estimated would save veterans “hundreds of millions” of dollars. And of course, during the pandemic Trump began the process of pausing student loan payments and interest that Joe Biden has continued, saving an estimated $90 billion for borrowers.

A pause of payments and interest, though, is a lot different than wiping out their student loan debt. And it wouldn’t necessarily help the working class, according to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Bear in mind that graduate degree holders – who don’t tend to be working-class – hold 56% of the outstanding student loan debt, so they would benefit the most from forgiveness.

It was a long, long time ago but I was one of those who took out student loans to go to college and I remember handing Sallie Mae about $120 or so a month beginning six months after graduation. I’m not going to say it was easy or that I always paid them on time, because student loans are a little like medical bills: hard to collect because you’re not taking away the ER visit for the flu, the knee replacement, or the bachelor’s degree if the payments are late like you can for a car or a house. But, over the span of fifteen years and a couple forbearances and refinances, I got my student loans paid off. Even as liberal as we considered Bill Clinton to be back in that era of my student loans, the idea of forgiving them for the masses was not seriously considered.

Aside from the giant issue with seizing college endowments – don’t you love it when government confiscates private property? – there are three huge problems with what Witzke and much of the other regressive community is backing.

First off, I’m still looking for the place where it says our federal government should have a role in education like this. One thing that disappointed me in the otherwise relatively stellar Reagan legacy is that he couldn’t convince the public to warn Congress that the Department of Education was really unnecessary, and maybe they need to think about defunding it if they wanted to stay in Congress. Reagan was a “Great Communicator,” but not so much a lobbyist for creating a public outcry for ridding us of an unnecessary Cabinet post. More recently I was hoping Betsy DeVos would help that process along, but, alas, Donald Trump couldn’t compete with the votes purchased with Zuckbucks and…well, you know what happened. Then again, you read what Trump did with student loans in the grafs above so I don’t believe he was really down with the struggle, either.

Secondly, it further erodes the idea of commitment. We already have issues with the concept when it comes to marriage and relationships in a culture where celebrities seem to be having a contest as to who can have the highest number of marriages and divorces and the most kids out of wedlock, with our society either cheering them on (as in “you do you”) or just turning a blind eye. This is how our culture has devolved since the era of our grandparents; an era which Witzke seems to want to restore – she uses the policies of the nation of Hungary as an example* – but this time through generous government subsidies that our ancestors didn’t need and, out of pride, would have likely refused anyway. Having the government step in and say, “yeah, we’ll pay off the student loans you took out for your womyn’s studies degree” just feeds the entitlement society we’ve become. Student loans, then, go from a hand up to just another handout.

Finally, on the college front, the biggest part of the reason those ivory towers have become so fat and happy financially these days – with those endowments that Witzke covets for government seizure in the millions or even billions of dollars – is that they have raised tuition and fees with impunity knowing that the government makes student loans widely available for any warm body they accept. Students don’t even have to get a degree, but the college gets paid for spouting off whatever the woke flavor of the day is and now the taxpayers will be footing the bill. If it were the colleges having to come up with the coin for the failures of their students, you better believe they would be more prudent and careful with who they let in and what is taught, don’cha think? It may make ditchdiggers out of all those “diversity, equity, and inclusion” department hires but the world needs honest labor, too.

There’s been a political cartoon turned meme making the rounds for awhile that makes the point more succinctly than I did, but I’ll go with a paraphrase: You took out a student loan, pay it back. I didn’t say it was easy or without sacrifice, but honor a commitment for once.

(*) I will give Lauren credit in that she writes well in an Ann Coulter vein. But I still disagree with her on this student loan thing.

Odds and ends number 111

Here you are…more of those nuggets of bloggy goodness that take up anywhere from a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. They’re things that weren’t enough to merit a full post but plenty worth writing about anyway. It’s one of my longest ongoing series for a reason. So read on…

The election in question

If it was worth my writing about, it’s worth giving the results. On Saturday the city of Seaford agreed with me that the incumbents were worth retaining in an overwhelming fashion: Mayor David Genshaw won by a margin of 412 votes to 189 for challenger Pat A. Jones and City Council member Matt MacCoy won with an even 400 votes against challenger Stacie Spicer’s 199. In terms of percentages, Genshaw had 68.55% and MacCoy had 66.78%, which to me seem like a hearty mandate to keep on the trajectory they’ve established. Congratulations to both and hopefully this is the start of a year of victories for common sense in Delaware.

A little runaway

Another cause I’ve championed recently is the idea of an Article V convention, more popularly known as a convention of states. But I briefly had a pause when I read this paragraph in a story about federal involvement in Alabama’s state affairs:

That is, unless We the People join with the states to call a Convention of States. A Convention of States is called under Article V of the Constitution and has the power to propose constitutional amendments that limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government. 

What does this mean in plain English? Basically, amendments can be written that get the feds out of virtually every area of state policy. Healthcare, education, energy, the environment, and agriculture would be among the host of issues that could be left to exclusively state control.

“Article V Patriot,” “White House says they’re going to start targeting state lawmakers working to protect children from transgender surgeries, radical sexual ideology,” Convention of States Action, April 8, 2022. Emphasis in original.

Perhaps the biggest fear that opponents of an Article V convention have is the idea of a “runaway convention” where the people who ostensibly meet to write amendments that “limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government” instead decide to do away with the Bill of Rights. While amendments can be written to get the federal government off the backs of the states, it follows that their role could be abolished, too.

I suppose the fact that 38 states have to ratify any amendment gives us a little bit of protection in that regard, as there would probably be 13 states that hold on to restraints on federal power. Unfortunately, there are probably as many that would oppose any conservative amendments out of spite and that’s the other area where work is needed.

I just didn’t think that particular analogy is a good “sell” for the CoS.

Thirty-eight with an asterisk*

Speaking of Constitutional amendments I got an e-mail from my old liberal pal Rick Weiland, who has branched out from his lack of success in South Dakota to a similar lack of grifting aptitude on a nationwide basis. A few weeks back he claimed it was time to enact the Equal Rights Amendment because it had passed in 38 states.

In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and also the last state needed to meet all constitutional requirements to allow it to finally become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ERA will add protections to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens, regardless of gender, nationwide.

We’re 4 months into 2022 and the ERA has not been published by the Archivist. The Archivist has an administrative duty to publish the amendment and thus officially add it to the Constitution, but refuses to overrule a Trump administration roadblock to do it.

Rick Weiland, “It’s time for the Equal Rights Amendment,” April 7, 2022. Emphasis in original.

That “Trump administration roadblock” is the logical result of five states since rescinding their ratification, either by outright legislation or by its not being ratified prior to a Congressionally-imposed deadline in 1982. Meanwhile, ERA advocates claim they have the numbers but need Congress to render inoperative both the deadline and the recissions, pointing to the length of time it took to pass the 27th Amendment – first proposed as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, it wasn’t ratified until 1992. (However, Congress put no time limit on that one.) Their roadblock is the Republicans in the Senate, who have threatened to filibuster the Senate resolution (the House passed its version with a narrow majority.)

As I’ve stated from almost the beginning of this website, instead of an ERA this would be a better amendment:

Congress shall make no law that codifies discrimination for or against any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This Amendment shall also be construed to include a prohibition on Congress enacting additional criminal code or punishment solely based on these factors.

Pretty cut and dried, isn’t it? No mealy-mouthed “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” It’s “Congress shall make no law.” Let’s get that equal rights amendment done.

Creating more informed voters

Four years ago I was a Maryland panelist for iVoter Guide, which was a fun experience and pretty natural for me because I liked doing the research.

Well, they’ve been on the hunt for more volunteers and I reckon that their time to deal with Delaware and Maryland is coming, now that we’ve finally reached the oft-delayed filing deadline in Maryland. (Delaware’s filing deadline isn’t until July but they only have one federal race, for Congress. So they’re probably not in need of much help.)

Now, it’s possible you might be needed in another state, but it’s still an interesting process that anyone from concerned citizens to political junkies can find a part in. So why not do your part? (I think I will, hopefully in Delaware but I may be interested in other states like Ohio and Michigan, since that’s the area in and around the 419 I grew up in.) It’s much easier than creating a website from scratch.

A holiday from a boondoggle

As I wrote this over the weekend, Maryland drivers were swarming gas pumps in the state to beat the end of a gas tax holiday that expired at the stroke of midnight on Easter Sunday. But David T. Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute proposes an even better holiday: the state of Delaware enacting a “tax-free carbon holiday.”

As Stevenson explains, the state of Delaware – like several other liberal-run hellholes in the Northeast – joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2009. Some state have rescinded their memberships since, but the remainder soak their local utilities by demanding a fee for each ton of carbon produced, with the state deciding what to do with the proceeds.

In Delaware’s case, 65% of the RGGI proceeds go to a non-profit that’s supposed to divvy out grants for energy efficiency projects, but instead has been hoarding cash to the tune of an estimated $16 to $17 million last year, bring its total up to nearly $100 million, according to Stevenson. The other 35% is designated for the state’s Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC), which administers programs assisting low-income consumers with the energy bills and weatherizing their dwellings. (In other words, wealth transfer.) Stevenson claims DNREC is sitting on its own cash surplus of $20 to $25 million.

We just saw the passage of a bill that uses a portion of the federally-fueled state surplus to give a $300 check to any Delaware resident who paid taxes in 2020. (That still doesn’t make up for what Uncle Sam raped us for, but regardless…) Perhaps the state can allow for an appropriate credit to any electric ratepayer in the state to soak up this surplus, which is basically money they paid as part of their utility bills anyway. Stevenson concludes that, “We note that New Hampshire returns RGGI revenue to electric customers, and Connecticut sends all RGGI revenue to its General Fund.” I like that first idea, and it can be the prelude to winding down our participation in this long-standing mistake.

The perpetual emergency

While AND Magazine has put up a lot of great content since I last produced odds and ends – including a look at upcoming election fraud, the issue with transgender men demanding to be placed in women’s prisons, and the situation on the ground in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in full control – I’m choosing just one to discuss, the perpetual emergency.

The CCP virus caused a lot of disruption in our lives, but none greater than the loss of our liberty. As author Sam Faddis notes in his opening:

At the heart of the debate over COVID-19 restrictions is the distinction between rights and privileges. For most of human history some supreme authority, – a king, a sultan, a class of aristocrats – has presumed to grant to the common people certain privileges. By definition, as privileges, they can be granted, and they can be taken away.

The American concept of liberty is built on something fundamentally different. We do not enjoy privileges. We have rights. They are enshrined in the Constitution, but they are given to us by our Creator. We do not have the right to free speech, because some ‘body of humans’ granted it to us. We were born with it, and it cannot be taken away.

For two years now powerful interests in this country have attempted to change this. They have used all the power at their discretion to convert our rights into privileges that can be taken away whenever the powers that be decide some “emergency” requires it.

The real danger therein is obvious. Once you have enshrined the principle that an “emergency” justifies the revocation of God-given rights, it requires only the declaration of an “emergency” to do it again. And again.

Sam Faddis, “There Will Always Be An Emergency – The Assault On Our Liberties Has Just Begun,” AND Magazine, March 20, 2022.

In this case, Faddis continues on to talk about how rising fuel prices are the new “emergency.” Instead of the state cutting us a check, though, he details some of the ideas the International Energy Agency – a NGO with no ties to our government – would have enforced on our nation: reduced speed limits, mandatory work from home three days a week, car-free Sundays, cutting prices on mass transit, alternate-day car access to big cities…and the list goes on.

You’ll notice two things about this: one, our government is already thinking about ways to mandate this somehow, and two, they’re not discussing the most obvious solution, which would be to increase the supply of fuel to meet demand. In an effort to save face, the Biden regime restarted oil leases on federal lands, but at a greatly reduced and limited clip compared to the previous administration, where $2 a gallon gas was not uncommon.

But liberty lost is not easily regained, even if you elect the right people. Speaking of that:

An opponent to Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney may be the most hated politician in Wyoming (and perhaps much of the rest of the nation.) Polling is as sparse as people in America’s least-populated state, but a story from last summer in The Federalist suggested she has very little support in the state anymore.

Yet there may be a problem here, and I’m sure there are a few in the Cheney camp (which is essentially the national GOP establishment) who aren’t helping to create it by encouraging additional stalking horses to water down and spread out opposition in the Republican primary August 16. It’s possible Liz Cheney could win a huge primary with just 30% of the vote, so where would those 70% of Republicans and conservative independents turn?

Well, it turns out that the Constitution Party has a ballot spot in Wyoming and they have already selected their candidate, an erstwhile Republican by the name of Marissa Selvig. “I am beyond excited that it is official, and I am even more excited for the voters of Wyoming to have a real, constitutional choice in this race,” Selvig said in a party release. “It is long past time our elected officials honor their Oath to ‘uphold and defend’ the Constitution with integrity and honesty. That is exactly what I intend to do when I am elected in November.”

Now I’m not going to claim I know what’s best for Wyoming, but on a broad scale her platform is both well-written and common-sense. If it comes down to a four-way race between a Democrat, Libertarian, Cheney, and Selvig (those four parties were on the 2020 ballot) it will be interesting to see how Marissa does. Even if Cheney loses the primary, though, it’s possible the sheen has come off the GOP in The Equality State.

And yes, just to answer any naysayers about my Seaford endorsements, Marissa is a woman I would vote for.

A better offer

We all know that Elon Musk has offered to purchase Twitter and take it private, but given the “poison pill” resistance put up by Twitter’s current major stockholders perhaps there’s another way to introduce Musk to the world of social media – and it would cost Musk far less.

Andrew Torba, CEO of Gab, wrote this as part of an open offer to Musk:

We built our own servers, our own email services, our own payment processor, and so much more not because we wanted to, but because we had no choice if we were going to continue to exist.

What we are missing at the moment is an ISP. I fear that the next big leap of censorship is at the ISP level, with ISP’s blocking access to Gab.com. You solve that problem with Starlink. Together we can build infrastructure for a free speech internet.

I am willing to offer you a Board seat along with equity in the company in exchange for you selling your Twitter position and investing $2B into Gab. My offer is my best and final offer.

Andrew Torba, “Gab.com’s Offer To Elon Musk,” April 14, 2022.

For that matter, I could have the same issue with my ISP. Even though I’ve had the same server company for the sixteen-plus years I’ve had monoblogue, they are on at least the third owner I’m aware of and who knows how tolerant they will remain. Obviously I don’t have the coin for my own infrastructure, and I suppose that since this a hobby/obsession for me that’s the way it will stay.

But a few grand would be nice for my own server…heck, I’ll even do Starlink even though the state is finally contracting to bring me more reliable broadband.

The Delaware Way, explained once again

I could almost put this in the category of “duh” but since Rep. Bryan Shupe is one of those who tries not to let partisanship cloud his worldview, I’ll refrain.

But he brings up something that does belong in the category of elections matter: if you are a Republican in the Delaware General Assembly, your bill has a less than 50-50 chance of even getting a hearing in committee.

In the House Administration Committee during the 150th General Assembly, 67% of the bill submitted to this committed were heard. Of the bills submitted by the majority party, 86% of them were heard by the committee. Of the bills submitted by the minority party, only 38% of them were heard by the committee. In other words, 62% of bills submitted by the minority party were never heard in committee.

During the 151st Committee, which will end on June (30th), 2022, 66% of the bill submitted to the committee so far has been heard. Of the bills submitted by the majority party, so far 78% of them have been heard by the committee. Of the bills submitted by the minority party, so far only 42% of them have been heard by the committee. In other words, 58% of bills submitted by the minority party have not been heard in committee so far.

There seems to be a correlation between what party submits the bill and if the bill will be heard in this committee. 

Rep. Bryan Shupe, “Politics overriding House rules,” March 31, 2022.

There would be a bit of research involved, but it’s worth noting that the online records of the Delaware General Assembly date back to the 140th session (1998-2000.) The accusation here is damning enough, but the compare and contrast would be even better – back then the parties were more congenial with one another, with part of the reason being that the House was Republican-controlled through 2008 while the State Senate has been controlled by Democrats for at least 30 years, per Ballotpedia. It would be eye-opening to see how prior performance, particular in the era of GOP control of the House, compares to that of today.

Programming note

It’s that time of year again: the Shorebird of the Month will return for another year.

I’ve traditionally done it the first Thursday of the month, but on months where Thursday falls on the 1st or 2nd I wait until the next one. So gazing at my calendar, and bearing in mind how the best-laid plans go, these are the projected SotM dates: May 5, June 9, July 7, August 4, and September 15. The September date is so late because we have ten games currently scheduled in September – if they don’t play at least ten I will combine August and September numbers and only pick one set for the month-plus, but I won’t know that until the regular season ends September 11. Shorebird of the Year will follow a week later and picks and pans the week after that.

Aside from that, I’ll start collecting items that interest me now for the next edition of odds and ends.

Can things really be changed with a Convention of States?

It’s a funny thing: when I last broached this subject I noted that the momentum toward a Convention of States had stalled out as no state had passed a call for an Article V Constitutional convention in nearly three years. Apparently, though, getting past the CCP virus has popped the cork on the movement because in the nearly three months since I last wrote on the subject the CoS effort has gained the support of Wisconsin, Nebraska, West Virginia, and most recently South Carolina, bringing the total to 19. They’ve also come closer to melting away opposition in Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota and there was even testimony on a CoS bill in Maryland – yes, Maryland.

Granted, the Maryland bill didn’t get beyond the hearing stage – and it will probably never get beyond that unless there is a sea change in their General Assembly beginning this fall – but the fact that nearly half of their Republican delegation co-sponsored the measure is encouraging, especially since the 2021 version only had a sole sponsor. (What is not encouraging is the lack of interest from the lower Eastern Shore delegation, from which only Delegates Johnny Mautz and Charles Otto were co-sponsors. That leaves Delegates Chris Adams, Carl Anderton, and Wayne Hartman along with both lower Shore Senators, Addie Eckardt and Mary Beth Carozza out of the picture. It goes without saying that Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes wouldn’t be a backer; after all, she just voted for allowing easier access to baby murder.) On the other hand, a Democrat-sponsored Article V resolution to protect “voting rights” was not introduced this session after failing to advance in a two-year run in the MGA from 2020 to 2021.

Shamefully, Delaware is one of those states where a CoS resolution hasn’t been introduced in recent years (more on that in a bit.)

One thing the CoS has been circulating of late is an endorsement of sorts from radio host Glenn Beck, who basically told his audience that, “a convention of states is the best thing we can do” to rein in government. Beck explained that the process would not be open to making other changes in the Constitution besides those which are spelled out, which is why the Democrats in Maryland had to create their own proposal rather than just jumping on board the Republican Article V resolution figuring they could take it over.

I noted back in January why I’ve begun to feel this is the better solution to our longstanding issues with government, but let me give you another analogy: if you are related to an alcoholic, do you just let them continue down their self-destructive path or do you get together with caring friends and family to do an intervention? Government will not fix itself because there are too many in it for themselves and their little fiefdoms of power, so someone else has to come along to starve that beast.

I’ve been in politics long enough to see what normally happens with “reformers” when they are first elected to office. They promise the moon but once they get there the excuses begin and the reform becomes going along to get along. The people the TEA Party sent to Congress in 2010 first said they couldn’t do anything because they only had half of Congress. In 2014, once they got a Senate majority, they bemoaned the fact that Obama was still in office, and promised action once a Republican was elected President.

In 2016, we got the ultimate reformer in Donald Trump and what did Congress do? Well, maybe it’s better to to say what they didn’t do: after six years of promising to repeal Obamacare, when they had the opportunity they didn’t do a thing – not even the damned “repeal and replace.” We got a temporary tax cut that the Democrats are already trying to dismantle, and government is bigger than ever because, as fast as President Trump was undoing regulation, the Biden regime is working triple-time to replace it, and then some. For having the barest of Congressional majorities, the Democrats are doing more to pursue their regressive agenda than those who promised the TEA Party the swamp would be drained ever did.

We could elect 60 new conservative House members this fall and somehow get to a filibuster-proof Republican majority in the Senate, while overcoming the Democrats’ best effort to swipe the election in 2024 with Trump, DeSantis, or whoever but there would still be excuses. Perhaps an external intervention is in order here?

Obviously there is risk in “imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms for office for its officials and members of Congress.” Balancing the budget may mean significant new taxes, the Swamp can figure out workarounds on limits to power and jurisdiction, and term limits don’t apply to entrenched bureaucrats that are much of the problem. But if we can get the momentum in putting together a Constitutional convention, perhaps we can work at the problem in a new manner. If the regressives are against it, claiming, “The constitutional convention idea is a special interest-funded, anti-democratic endeavor that will almost certainly strip power from the American people, while leaving our cherished constitutional rights up for grabs,” then maybe it’s not such a bad idea. That’s pretty much how they play, isn’t it?

In looking up the author of that op-ed, Claire Snyder-Hall, I found out she is the executive director for Common Cause Delaware, a self-described “nonpartisan citizens lobby, dedicated to fostering open, honest and accountable government at every level.” You would think they would be for a more limited government because there’s less incentive to be secretive, dishonest, and unaccountable when the honey pot is smaller, but no. One of their “accomplishments” is that they:

…was also the primary organization responsible for stopping the dangerous legislation to call for a Constitutional Convention in 2016.

(…)

Recent Activities

May 2016

Vote on House Concurrent Resolution 60 – Rescinding the Article V Call for a Constitutional Convention. 

Delaware rescinded all calls for a Constitutional Convention. House and Senate leaders joined with Common Cause Delaware to pass HCR 60 and stopped Delaware from going down a dangerous path. Common Cause made a difference by educating and opposing the convening of a Constitutional Convention.

Common Cause website, “About Us” and “Our History.” Accessed April 12, 2022.

If you recall from January, that HCR60 vote was one featured on that year’s monoblogue Accountability Project. A vote against HCR60 was a proper vote. But the first part of that blockquote was why I changed the paragraph above: it turns out there was legislation introduced in 2015 to join the call for convention, which unfortunately was stricken in 2016. I’d love to have any of the Senators involved (Dave Lawson, who was the sponsor, Gerald Hocker, or Colin Bonini) explain why it was stricken. (I presume it means the same as withdrawn, which is a term I’m more familiar with because Maryland uses it.) I wish there was some sort of voting record on it as there was with HCR60, but maybe we can get some insight from the trio.

So there is precedent in this state, and maybe this idea is something we can keep in our back pocket for this fall’s campaign. It’s time to get the First State to be on this list with nineteen or more of its brethren. What do we have to lose?

A quick leg up for Palin

It didn’t even take a day for the Congressional candidacy of Alaska’s “mama grizzly” Sarah Palin to gain a key backer: our 45th President.

Wonderful patriot Sarah Palin of Alaska just announced that she is running for Congress, and that means there will be a true America First fighter on the ballot to replace the late and legendary Congressman Don Young. Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big. Now, it’s my turn! Sarah has been a champion for Alaska values, Alaska energy, Alaska jobs, and the great people of Alaska. She was one of the most popular Governors because she stood up to corruption in both State Government and the Fake News Media. Sarah lifted the McCain presidential campaign out of the dumps despite the fact that she had to endure some very evil, stupid, and jealous people within the campaign itself. They were out to destroy her, but she didn’t let that happen. Sarah Palin is tough and smart and will never back down, and I am proud to give her my Complete and Total Endorsement, and encourage all Republicans to unite behind this wonderful person and her campaign to put America First!

Donald Trump, “Endorsement of Sarah Palin,” April 3, 2022.

It’s a campaign that brings back my own memories of a time when the TEA Party was looking for a leader but found out that the media was going to absolutely hound anyone who promoted a conservative platform. While much of the enthusiasm and support of the 2008 McCain campaign was because of Palin, she indeed had to put up with “very evil, stupid, and jealous” people inside and outside her campaign. (The selection of Palin was once described as a “Hail Mary” but McCain was also rumored to be considering Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running mate. That would have been throwing from the tailgate party outside the stadium.)

There are something like 40 or 50 candidates already lined up to try and win the seat, which is interesting in that it will be a very short gig for the winner. I presume most of these candidates are also trying to be placed on the November ballot to run for the position on a longer basis. (The late Rep. Don Young, who was the lone Alaska representative, served for nearly a half-century and was ironically first elected in a special election himself: Mark Begich won the 1972 Congressional race over Young despite dying in a plane crash a few weeks before the election, but Young won the special election to succeed him.)

Given her name ID in Alaska, it’s likely Palin will vault to the front of the field. But Alaska has ranked-choice voting, meaning Palin could get the largest plurality of the votes yet lose to someone who had more second-choice votes.

One of the biggest “what ifs” in modern politics is what would have happened with Palin had she not been hounded out of office by lawfare after her loss as part of the McCain ticket. Should Palin have completed her term in office and been re-elected in 2010, as the most recent vice-Presidential pick she would have been the GOP favorite to oppose Barack Obama in 2012, and she would have done so with massive TEA Party support. The Beltway liberals couldn’t have had that – it may have been a Donald Trump-style win for Palin as the working-class voters came from out of the woodwork to shock Obama and the Democrats.

Palin’s no spring chicken anymore – I know because her and I are just a few months apart in age – but if you go by Don Young standards she still has three decades to serve. Even if she wins, though, I don’t see Presidential aspirations in her immediate future: it’s exceedingly difficult to get much traction in that kind of race from a House seat where you are one in 535, even if you were Speaker like Newt Gingrich was. On the other hand, Alaska’s next Senate race after this year isn’t until 2026, and it’s easier to be nominated for the White House from the Senate – plus she would have had four years in the House to learn the ropes in Washington. Would Palin 2028 or Palin 2032 be a possibility? She would still only be in her sixties, much younger than a Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Perhaps we’ll see if the Mama Grizzly still has a little bit of mojo – but she has to win this election first.

Mt. Hermon Plow Days 2022 in pictures and text

Not bad for a repeat.

You may recall that the 2021 version was the icebreaker to what became a long series of return events after the Wuhan flu unnecessarily wiped out a year of our lives. This year marks the return to normalcy for the event, with one exception: the wind was once again not a factor. While we didn’t have the shirtsleeve weather that we were blessed with last year (a week later than normal because of when Easter fell) the weather was still superb for early spring on Delmarva, with sunny skies complementing temperatures in the low 50s.

Because a lot about the event is constant year-to-year, I was going to have a goal of sticking close to the number of photos from last year, but like a late April Fool’s joke I blew through that number. However, I did cull a few from my initial pass at it and kept it under 20. As always the captions help add to the thousand words.

We’re going to start this tale by telling you its location. Since Plow Days began it’s always been at this little produce farm out Mount Hermon Road. It’s about as unpretentious a location as you’ll find: anywhere that flips its calendar from 15 to 16 with a touch of marker or paint doesn’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to putting on airs. It’s perfect for Plow Days.

I heard a little of the story behind the Adkins farm: turns out the creator of Plow Days grew up as a neighbor of this farm’s patriarch, Milbourne Adkins – who also grew up to be a pastor of a nearby church. So when Oren Perdue was looking for a venue, they struck a deal: get some of the Adkins ground ready for the season in return for an opportunity for sharing the Perdue ministry and providing a day of real horsepower and wholesome family-friendly entertainment.

It’s a larger than life rendition of Pastor Oren Perdue, the founder of the Salisbury Baptist Temple. This photo graces the space next to the sign-up table for their Summer Fun camp, which for over 30 years has been held in and around SBT. Kim’s daughter is an “alumnus” of the camp she attended regularly for several years growing up.

Pastor Perdue continued, noting his parents bought the farm he grew up on for $41 an acre – this was back in the Depression era, of course. Many years later, with his mother in ill health, it sold for many times that. He claimed that a bumper crop of cucumbers in its first year paid off the land, but wistfully noted it’s a lot tougher on farmers today. (If I may add my take on his story – which I don’t doubt for a second – the farms of today are in the hundreds or even thousands of acres and grow a multitude of crops. I live in the midst of one.)

Here’s the real Oren Perdue, still going strong in his later years. While he retired as pastor of Salisbury Baptist Temple a few years back and more recently turned over the reins of the Summer Fun camp to his longtime trusted assistant, he still helps out with both as he can. And he puts on this event each spring.

This event, then, is a reminder of a time that the much younger Perdue wasn’t all that far removed from. One thing I missed in my photo essay from last year was the corn shelling, but not this time. I have another omission made right this year, but I’m saving it for later.

If you didn’t know what this horse was up to by the angle of my photo, I’ll show you the result. As Pastor Perdue said, sometimes the horse is a bit reluctant to go up there but once he’s there he does fine. The way I see it, that’s just an uphill treadmill for modern-day walkers, right? Just happens to be horse-powered.
Somebody’s going to eat this all-natural corn when it’s ground into cornmeal. If nothing else, the local birds and wildlife will have a field day. Something tells me, though, that they were a little more careful gathering the corn in the old days.

As I wrote up above, part of the deal was getting the back 40 for the Adkins farm plowed. This team did a nice job in an environment that’s not as rural as it once was.

Try as I might to capture an idyllic rural scene, that storage facility just down the road wasn’t going to cooperate, or go anywhere.

While Pastor Perdue’s ministry and musings are a valuable part of the proceedings, Plow Days also gives the young ones an introduction to rural history and farm animals they may not normally see up close.

Honestly I’m not sure if this team was done for the day or awaiting its shift, but these pairs were a popular item. The ten teams for the event came from Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina.
Wagon rides were also a hit with kids and adults alike, creating some of the longest lines around at the peak of the day. I believe this event was added back after being absent last year.
The kids loved the kids. Yes, I had to go there – after all, you need something to keep our young ones off the phones (or at least use them simply for taking pictures.)
I wonder how the conversations went after, “Dad, what’s that little building there for?” I suspect the answers were met with either high-pitched giggles or a sigh of “eeeeeewwwwww!” (That may have also occurred if one of the horses left some road apples about.) Thank goodness there were more modern facilities available, although it’s fair to note the concept here hasn’t really changed. Anyway, enough with the bathroom humor.

The event kept its usual attractions of good food and local craftspeople hawking their wares on a well-traveled midway.

I think there were more food vendors than last year, so hungry people had a good choice of fare.
This is one end of the midway. The rock climbing wall made a return trip, keeping the kids captivated. And for whatever reason, this year’s predominant color of Plow Days swag was red.
At the other end of the midway was our friend Brent Zockoll and his pottery. He’s began to create a little specialty of pottery featuring horsehair; needless to say, it’s a big hit among this crowd.
Brent Zockoll (in the green cap, with the dirty hands) was a main attraction as he threw clay today. Nothing like combining business and pleasure on a lovely spring day.

It’s worth giving you a little insight on Brent since he’s become something of a success story. Nine years ago Brent left his sales job to pursue his passion of creating pottery, and after a few fits and starts (including a fire that heavily damaged his garage/studio) he’s made a go of the business – an endeavor he also uses to spread the Gospel.

As for my other omission made right: the other thing I missed getting a picture of last year was the entertainment. Once again it was the Mt. Olivet String Band, but this time I can show you what they look like.

The Mt. Olivet String Band in all its glory, putting a bluegrass spin on Americana favorites. You probably know the guy on the right by his soothing voice if not his face: it’s Charles Paparella, better known as the “Travels with Charlie” guy on the local news.

Although it seemingly contradicts the Book of Ecclesiastes, I have to tell you there were a few new things under the sun this year. (Perhaps they were only new to me.)

One thing was the sharp antique pickup truck below, which complemented the little maroon car I pictured last year. (I almost included a picture of its rumble seat, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.) But there’s a story behind that truck, too.

It’s a nice old Ford truck from D. Lombardo and Sons that presumably (from its Maryland plate) dates back to 1925. That’s Mrs. Lombardo standing at right, supporting her husband’s campaign.

It occurred to me as we were on our way (we had to run another errand before we went to Plow Days) that I would likely find hot and cold running politicians there, since it’s an election year in Wicomico County. The Lombardo in question is Darren Lombardo, and he’s running for the county school board. In talking to him I realized he is worth checking out because he has a philosophy regarding school choice I tend to agree with. I’ll stop short of a formal endorsement because I don’t know about his opponents, but as I said, worth checking out if you’re one of my Wicomico readers.

Normally if we go anywhere like this, people know my wife because she works in the medical field so they’re often her patients or former coworkers. But in any event featuring political types, the tables are turned because people notice me and this was the case here. (It was either that or my Detroit Lions hoodie.) I ran into Joe Holloway, David Snyder, Linda Luffman, Addie Eckardt, Jamie Dykes, and Larry Dodd there, and there were others, too – I heard John Cannon and John Psota being introduced and Dodd was walking with Dutch Schwemlein, a newcomer seeking an at-large County Council seat that I was introduced to. Linda was looking to meet up with another newcomer, A.J. Angello – who is the primary opponent for Joe Holloway.

(The scorecard: Holloway, Dodd, and Cannon are current Wicomico County Council members looking to keep their jobs, Snyder is seeking the open County Council District 2 seat, Luffman is looking to be re-elected to the county’s Republican Central Committee, Eckardt is running to retain her State Senate seat, Dykes is the incumbent State’s Attorney, and Psota is the incumbent appointed County Executive who was granted the job after Bob Culver died in office in the summer of 2020, after the 2020 filing deadline.) I got a little bit of a lowdown on what’s up with the county election, particularly the slates, from Linda, while Snyder informed me of a strange technicality that made him withdraw his candidacy for the seat when it opened up a couple years ago due to Marc Kilmer’s resignation. (I may expound on that in the future.)

Quick aside: in jogging my memory of who I ran into by looking at the candidate list for Wicomico County I saw there were 14 candidates for the Republican Central Committee this year, so far. Damn, that’s a popular unpaid and pretty much thankless job.

But back to Plow Days: the true test of these people will be how many come back next year – not to be introduced to the crowd like the politicians are, but to support it. I think Plow Days is the type of event that’s worth backing as it deftly combines history, ministry, and an awareness of what makes a rural area so unique.

It’s an attitude I can sum up with one final photo.

The banner wasn’t for sale, it was placed as a message and invitation. We need more of that in 2022 America.

Like Oren Perdue noted on this fine afternoon, farming doesn’t seem to be an avocation that’s drawing young people. I came from a place where the blue FFA jackets were still a common sight 40 years ago, but here and now people aren’t as interested in keeping that vital lifestyle going. And having just lost my dad recently, it makes me realize I don’t know how much longer the stalwarts of Plow Days – who are close to his age – have on this earth, so we need to keep this slice of history and an occupation that ranks among those preserving the lifeblood of our nation alive as long as possible.

Delaware primary fight averted

Because it’s rare that statewide Democrats with a realistic chance of winning step on each other’s toes, usually primary fights in the First State (and, to be honest, most other Democrat-controlled states) are reserved for either open seats on the Democrat side or Republican challengers jockeying for position on the November ballot.

I had heard this previously from a campaign insider, but when word also came from the state GOP that they were scrubbing an event planned for next Friday I took it as enough evidence that, indeed, AG candidate (and former judge and state representative) Chuck Welch was withdrawing his name from consideration. Initially I only had the word from the two disparate sources, and I had already started this post on Sunday, but today his campaign put out a statement that confirmed he was withdrawing.

I have withdrawn from the race due to a health issue. I am a longtime diabetic and have recently had trouble controlling the condition. Anyone with diabetes knows how important it is to keep the condition under control… After consultation with my doctor and family, I have decided to leave the campaign trail to focus on my health.

Prepared statement from former AG candidate Chuck Welch, March 29, 2022.

We should be praying for the health of Chuck Welch, and thankful he was able to serve Delaware for so long with his condition. I have a good friend who is diabetic so I can vouch for his statement.

In the meantime, barring a sudden entrance into the race of some Republican with both the funding and name ID to counter her, it appears that Julianne Murray will be the Republican candidate for Delaware’s Attorney General position, presumably challenging incumbent Kathy Jennings for the post. Murray is fresh off an interesting fundraiser with what I consider a local connection, as one of the speakers there was Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who traveled up to New Castle County to speak on her behalf along with Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona. (It’s the same duo who spoke at a Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner a year or two ago.)

While we are still several months away from the filing deadline here in the First State, it appears this primary campaign at the state level may be as exciting as watching paint dry. You may recall in 2018 there were several primary fights on the Democrat side – joined by the GOP in contesting nominations for the Federal offices – but now that Democrats hold the three positions under consideration this year (Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer) it’s not likely anyone will challenge for two of them. There may be a challenger for Auditor, though, given the ethical and legal issues which Democrat incumbent Kathy McGuiness has to address should she choose to run for re-election. And with only one federal race on the ballot, no one has made a significant move to deny 2018 and 2020 GOP House candidate Lee Murphy another shot at Lisa Blunt Rochester, despite some who would rather see someone else take a turn at the wheel.

With school board races also tamer than expected, 2022 may not be the contentious election season we thought it might save for a few Democratic Delaware General Assembly incumbents who have a primary challenge. But it’s still early.

Things aren’t always what they seem

I haven’t been paying nearly as much attention to Maryland politics the last few years but every so often I find something rather intriguing. In this case, it’s not too many miles away in Dorchester County.

I saw that over the weekend their county Republicans had their Lincoln Day Dinner. Initially I learned this thanks to a social media post by a locally noted political sign critic but then it went further when I noticed a promoted post on that same social media outlet that led to this blog post.

Apparently we are still far enough away from the primary that Republicans are coming to the Eastern Shore to solicit votes, and in this case the Dorchester LDD featured the two leading contenders for their gubernatorial nomination: Delegate Daniel Cox and onetime Delegate and Hogan administration official Kelly Schulz. In this particular retelling of events it was obvious that the writer was heavily favoring the Cox campaign, which is fine. What’s most interesting, though, is that the contact address for the Shore Times blog where the article came from is the exact same one used by Marc Schifanelli for his school board campaign in Queen Anne’s County. Of course, students of Maryland politics know that Marc’s wife Gordana is Cox’s running mate. So we’re not exactly being stealth here, and I will give credit for pointing that out in due time.

On the other side of the equation – and not being too stealth themselves – is The Duckpin, a site which seems to spend its time tearing down Cox, who they swear up and down isn’t much of a threat on par with the other two no-names in the race. Yet somehow Dan lives rent-free in their heads as they keep writing about him instead of promoting their endorsed choice in Schulz. (Apparently Brian Griffiths wanted to write about more than politics, so Red Maryland was put to bed and The Duckpin was born. He finally figured out what I knew over 16 years ago.)

Anyway, I was reading a piece on the race that made the claim about the link and indeed it’s true. So give the man his credit. But what’s the big deal?

Here’s the problem with being a Republican and running for governor in Maryland: you have to survive a GOP primary.

In 2010, Larry Hogan deferred to Bob Ehrlich, who then proceeded to lose even worse to Martin O’Malley than he did the first time. You may recall there was this phenomenon going around the country back then called the TEA Party…well, they liked this heretofore unknown businessman named Brian Murphy in the gubernatorial primary and enough of them tuned out the overly moderate Ehrlich once Murphy was dispatched back to anonymity to doom Bob to defeat in the general.

In 2014, there was an open seat and the Democrats decided to promote their bland, personality-free LG Anthony Brown to governor. Larry Hogan had spent the four years building up a grassroots group called Change Maryland and he parlayed that into securing the nomination then winning in November – thanks to a lot of the people who abandoned Ehrlich because he wasn’t conservative enough for them. This despite the fact Hogan’s website was about content-free and you couldn’t nail down what he was actually for, just what he was against based on Change Maryland.

Fooled you once… the next time in 2o18 Hogan only won because the Democrats went extreme left with their choice for governor; otherwise, the election was a disaster for Republicans on the order of 2006. (Had he run in 2018 instead of this cycle, we would be commenting on the prospects of Governor Franchot’s re-election. Or perhaps Governor Delaney’s.)

So here’s the problem with Kelly Schulz. In looking her up in the archives of the monoblogue Accountability Project, I had forgotten that she was relatively conservative by my standards – not enough to be a consistent Legislative All-Star (she was just one time in eight years I covered her) but she had an 85 average and that’s very good for a Maryland politician. (With an average that high, I would be hailing her as a savior in Delaware.)

But what I didn’t see when she went into the Executive Branch was a great deal of conservative innovation. It’s good that her “proudest accomplishment (at DLLR) was guiding Maryland’s youth apprenticeship program,” but I would have rather seen efforts to wrest the state from the grip of its unions by edging it toward right-to-work status or taking a hacksaw to regulations like Donald Trump did at a federal level. And the question I have: is this the record of a conservative?

Member, Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019; Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission, 2019; Small Business Resources and Data Collection Work Group, 2019; Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, 2019-20; P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland, 2019-21. Board of Directors, Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture, 2019-22; Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Aviation Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Bainbridge Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Coast Smart Council, 2019-22; Correctional Education Council, 2019-22; Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays, 2019-22; Maryland Cybersecurity Council, 2019-22; Interagency Disabilities Board, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Commission, 2019-22; Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund Authority, 2019-22; Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, 2019-22; Interagency Food Desert Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Green Purchasing Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, 2019-22; State Highway Access Valuation Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, 2019-22; Maryland Manufacturing Advisory Board, 2019-22; Council on Open Data, 2019-22; Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force, 2019-22; Maryland Port Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Public-Private Partnership Marketing Corporation, 2019- (chair, 2019). Executive Board, Regional Additive Manufacturing Partnership of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, 2019-22; Renewable Fuels Incentive Board, 2019-22; Rural Maryland Council, 2019-22; Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Technology Development Corporation, 2019-22. Board of Regents, University System of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Workforce Development Board, 2019-22; Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019-22.

Member, COVID-19 Small Business Task Force, Baltimore City, 2020; Task Force on the Economic Future of Western Maryland, 2020-22; Maryland Food System Resiliency Council, 2021-22; Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission, 2021-22; Maryland Semiquincentennial Commission, 2021-22; Work Group to Study the Transformation of Manufacturing in Maryland’s Emerging Digital Economy, 2021-22.

Maryland Manual online, accessed March 22, 2022.

Granted, I’m sure most of these are ex officio positions she gathered as the Secretary, but no one said she had to accept a position on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities or the Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council. Her acceptance to me equates with support.

That’s not to say I’m the biggest fan of Daniel Cox, who has styled himself as something of a Trump fanboy. But if you drive around on the back roads of Dorchester County that I frequent on a regular basis on the way to my in-laws’ house, you see a lot of Trump paraphrenalia and a lot of Cox for Governor signs. (Not many people go through Eldorado or Rhodesdale, but I do.) It’s a slice of the electorate that probably won’t turn out for someone endorsed by Larry Hogan because they can’t stand what he’s become. While many were pushed over the edge by the bad blood between Larry Hogan and Donald Trump, they were placed at the precipice like I was after our side was quickly sold out by Hogan to the environmentalists who saddled farmers with onerous phosphorus regulations and later saw Larry kill a golden opportunity for economic growth with an ill-advised fracking ban. So Hogan’s support is electoral poison in those quarters.

Certainly there will be those who say that their staying home and not backing Kelly Schulz will ensure Democratic victory in November. But then again, the same prediction of GOP doom holds true if Cox wins so why not stand up for what you believe?

And people wonder why some of us are so fed up with the system?

Odds and ends number 110

Yes, the mailboxes need pruning again. As I noted in my previous post, sometimes I will promote posts that deserve a full retelling, but that’s not to say these dribs and drabs of bloggy goodness aren’t important – just not quite deserving of a full post.

Time for a victory garden, and more

A few weeks back I discussed the return of a local blogger who can now be found on Substack. Another resource that can be found there is AND Magazine, which was its own website but has moved on to a two-tier subscription-based approach. (I get the free stuff, and that’s plenty. But if you’re really into it, they have “exclusive content” for paying subscribers, too.)

I like the resource since it has more of a foreign policy interest than most conservative news sources – for example, who else talks about the alliance between Iran and China? – so my interest was piqued more than usual with two recent posts.

The first dealt with a shortage we haven’t heard much discussion about: what happens if we don’t have fertilizer?

Global fertilizer prices have tripled under Biden. That doesn’t just mean that food costs will rise. It means in many places farmers will not be able to afford to buy fertilizer. They will grow crops without fertilizing them. The yield from those crops will be a fraction of what they would be if they were fertilized.

Sam Faddis, “Time For A Victory Garden – Joe Broke The Economy Too,” AND Magazine, March 9, 2022.

Maybe it’s just something I’ve noticed this year, but it seems to me that more farmers here in Delaware are using our abundant natural resource of chicken manure. I have a saying I bust out in the late winter and early spring, “Smells like Delaware.” It’s the odor of chicken poop, but the farmers obviously love it.

But that brings up a point that Maryland farmers are regulated in how much they can use because they have to closely monitor phosphorous levels in the soil thanks to Larry Hogan starting out well but caving to the environmentalist wackos at the start of his first term. (However, in re-reading these 2015 posts, maybe Maryland farmers got a reprieve this year, just at the right time. But I doubt it since we’re talking seven years ago and the prospects for relief seldom last that long.) I don’t see those familiar mounds on Maryland farms and I wonder how they will be affected.

Anyway, perhaps the chicken industry is saving us again. But the other article notes that we may not be salvagable with regard to rare earths. As Faddis noted last week:

If you don’t have rare earth minerals, you don’t have a “green” economy. Your new Tesla does not go very far without a battery in it, and that battery can’t be made without rare earth minerals.

The reserves of rare earth minerals are scattered all over the world. Forty percent of those reserves are in China. China’s control over rare earth minerals is much greater than that figure would suggest, however. Over 70% of the actual rare earth mineral production is in China. China’s control over the actual processing of rare earth minerals is even greater than that. Fully 90% of all rare earth minerals are actually processed in China.

Sam Faddis, “If You Liked Being Dependent On Middle East Oil You Will Love Being Owned By China,” AND Magazine, March 11, 2022.

Knowing our luck, Delaware is sitting on top of a mountain of rare earth materials but the people in charge will say, “oh, you can’t dig them up.” That’s how it seems to work for oil. But don’t you think we should spend some of this government largesse seeing what we do have?

Updating my party

Since I haven’t seen fit to change my voter registration – even though I already have one interesting contested Republican race in Delaware – news from the Constitution Party still interests me.

One piece is from the state of Wyoming, where the Republicans may not be the only ones with primary fun. There are rumblings that two candidates may seek the CP ballot slot for Congress, and even though one is a former Republican who left that race and perhaps sees this as an easier way to be on the ballot, that’s how the party grows.

The other details their national convention, which will be held in, of all places, Erie, Pennsylvania. Nothing against Erie, a town which I have passed by a couple times on I-90 and which houses the AA affiliate of my Detroit Tigers, but I guess you can tell the new party chair is from Pennsylvania. And it’s at a local “freedom loving” church, which I’m sure will set off the local “separation of church and state” mafia. Which leads to my next question: when is the Delaware CP convention? Job one for them is to get some of these other conservative parties to join us so we get ballot access, too.

Speaking of churches, here is something from iVoterGuide which may be of interest. In 2025, with a Republican president and Congress, it will be high time to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

Energy boondoggles, followed up

You know how I feel about the Green Raw Deal, so when I get news from the Caesar Rodney Institute that highlights some of the foibles of our government’s headlong rush to environmental insanity I’m going to share it.

One part noted, “The Biden Administration has created a new federal agency to spend infrastructure funds for full battery electric vehicle charging stations. The Joint Office of Energy & Transportation will spend $2.5 billion in federal funds to place EV chargers in poor neighborhoods.”

It made me wonder where my closest charger is, and according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center I would have to travel to Galestown, Maryland. If you have ever been to Galestown you know it’s a speck on the map, but it has a town hall and someone had the brilliant idea to put a charger there. Wonder if the mayor (or the town) got an electric car so someone uses the thing?

The other talks about PJM, which is a major electric grid operator. They seem to have a problem: “The nation’s largest electric grid operator, PJM Interconnection, is so clogged with requests from energy developers that want to connect to its regional transmission network in the eastern United States that it is planning a two-year pause on reviewing more than 1,200 energy projects, most of them solar power.”

Solar power plays havoc with an electricity grid because it’s simply not reliable. Imagine a humid summer day in Delaware: most of your solar panels are getting sunshine and adding to the grid, but then some of those pop-up thunderstorms pop up and suddenly there’s no sun in that area. What does a grid operator do to meet the demand but go to the backup natural gas system that has to be kept around for redundancy’s sake? Just skip the middleman.

And then you have this absurdity from our governor, as if new cars weren’t already expensive enough. “The (new) regulations mandate that a certain percentage of the vehicles delivered for sale in a state are (zero-emission) vehicles. Manufacturers receive credits for each delivered vehicle based on the type of vehicle, range and other factors. Each year, manufacturers must meet a ZEV credit amount that is based on average annual sales. In states already in the program, the automobile industry has successfully met the required percentage.

This sounds a lot like the RGGI scam that Delaware utility ratepayers are already saddled with. If they don’t sell enough of these cars, the manufacturers have to pay the state of Delaware. Problem is, we don’t want them because I have no desire to pay a couple grand for upgrading my home electrical system or shuffle off to Galestown to charge my car for x number of minutes to go anywhere.

A new link and leader

I wasn’t really intending to be so CRI-heavy on this one, but the name I saw rang a bell.

If you remember on Friday I discussed the Delaware school board races. One of those who ran upstate in the crazy election of 2021 was a lady by the name of Dr. Tanya Hettler, who lost her bid for a seat in the Brandywine school district way up in the northeast corner of the state, almost completely geographically opposite from where I live.

So she didn’t run this year, but she has a new gig:

I have spent the last three years writing for my blog “Deep Thoughts with Dr. Tanya,” focusing on counseling, family, and parenting issues. Over the last year, I have increased my focus on education issues due to running for the local school board. Through this experience, my eyes have been further opened to the many needs in education in Delaware, and I have been writing to inform our citizens of these problems and their potential solutions.

I am very excited to join the team at the CRI…as the director of the Center for Education Excellence and continue my work.

Dr. Tanya Hettler, March 1, 2022.

I just permalinked to her blog the other day since it seems like she has her head screwed on straight. (Interestingly enough, she’s also involved in the Convention of States movement I recently began to follow.) But as CRI describes her job, “As director, Dr. Hettler will lead policy research efforts for an important and much-needed overhaul of Delaware’s K-12 public education system that has consistently failed students over the past 15 years.”

Lady, let me give you a clue on what’s needed: it’s called “money follows the child.” They don’t need an overhaul of the system as much as they just need to start back over and let parents decide what to do with that education money. It may be enough to convince a faithful working mom to homeschool or give a boost to Christian schools that take Proverbs 22:6 seriously.

Once again, the e-mail box is cleaned out and now I can get on to other fun stuff.

It’s not “Let’s Go Brandon” anymore?

Leave it to the Astroturf group to demand top-down, executive level solutions.

I haven’t commented on our friends at Indivisible for awhile because, quite frankly, everything they touched in this Congressional session turned to crap thanks to the bipartisan overtures of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. We didn’t have to endure Bilk Back Better or the election theft act because Indivisible couldn’t convince a majority of Senators to do away with their filibuster rules – although Lord knows they tried (and probably spent seven figures or so of dark money in the process.)

But, it is said, where there is a will there is a way and the group that prides itself on grassroots action is demanding top down with a new initiative called, “Let’s Go Joe!” As they describe it, the new idea is “to cheer on President Biden and encourage him to take action on the issues that will most impact everyday Americans.” Unfortunately, by that I don’t think they mean putting a permanent curb on the “Green New Deal” or getting a handle on government spending, even though those would help.

I suppose I will allow them to describe this further:

We’re going to use all the tools in Indivisible’s playbook to encourage Biden to take action. That means public events. It means behind-the-scenes lobbying. It means tweets at the White House. It means digital ads. It even means (you guessed it) calls to members of Congress. We’ll be asking President Biden to do something very simple — use the power that the American people invested in him to take action on some of the top issues of our day: things like student debt, lowering prescription drug prices, climate change and more. 

“New Program: Let’s Go Joe!” – Indivisible e-mail, February 16, 2022.

(As you can tell, I held on to this awhile. This post was promoted from an upcoming odds and ends post.)

As has been the case all along, one asset of the Indivisible movement that was often missing from the TEA Party (because the TEA Party was truly grassroots at its heart) was an explanation of the marching orders, and this is no exception. Based on the scripts they’re pushing on their shiny new Let’s Go Joe website, their first two pet issues are declaring a climate emergency and wiping out student debt.

Needless to say, Brandon doesn’t need a whole lot of help to do this if he was so inclined. But while Indivisible is shouting in one ear, the Democratic Party brass is whispering in the other and showing him polls that the party is going to get shellacked in November unless gas prices come down and inflation is reined in. And no, the solution is not going hat in hand to the Saudis, the Venezuelans, or the Russians because what we’re experiencing now is a preview of life under the Green Raw Deal.

Moreover, while he may gain a few votes among the Millennial crowd for cancelling student debt, the Democrats already have made sufficient inroads among that group so it would be a case of diminishing returns compared to the number of Gen X, Generation Jones, and Boomer voters who would be pissed off that they had to work their way through college or paid the full freight while little Austin, the barely-employed social science major who has plenty of money to maintain his man bun and nose ring because he’s still hanging in his parents’ basement, got his $80,000 in debt paid off with the stroke of someone else’s pen. (Myself included: it took me fifteen years and a couple refinances but I paid my student debt.)

Right now the group that based itself on the TEA Party is seeing how we on the conservative side felt after we had a weak Republican candidate not necessarily of our choosing lose in a Presidential election that a Reaganesque candidate would have won easily. In essence, five years after their Astroturf founding, Indivisible is working in the much the same situation the TEA Party was in 2014, five years after its formation: a majority (albeit much more slim) in the House and a working minority in the Senate. While Indivisible ostensibly backs Joe Biden, you know that in their heart of hearts they really wish they could have cheated Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders into the job. (If it weren’t for a far more compliant press, Indivisible wouldn’t even have the one thing the TEA Party couldn’t get until a few years later, the Oval Office.)

But it’s not a bad idea to put a bug in the ear of our elected representatives that we really don’t want what Indivisible’s Astroturf is pushing. Here in Delaware it may not do a lot of good directly, but they should know this state isn’t as squarely behind their adopted occupant of the Oval Office as one may believe.

A more surgical approach

Remember how much hype we had over school board elections last fall?

It appears Delaware was at the crest of that wave last spring when school boards around the state had three- or even four-person elections for the handful of seats which were available. Despite all the hullabaloo nationally over school elections, though, things have calmed down in Delaware this time around: of the sixteen districts with elections this time, just two (Red Clay and Smyrna) have a four-person race, while four (Colonial, Lake Forest, Milford, and Smyrna again) have three-way contests. (The larger of the two Smyrna races is for the last two years of an unexpired term.)

On the other hand, there are only five walkover races where an election won’t be necessary: the folks in Brandywine, Cape Henlopen, Christina, and portions of Indian River and Milford had only enough candidates file to match the number of available seats.

Here in Sussex County, we can eliminate most of our friends on the coastal side of the county from the excitement since Cape Henlopen and Indian River have no contested races. We’ll begin with Milford, where incumbent Scott L. Fitzgerald got the free pass but three people are running for an open seat. It appears all three seeking the at-large spot are first-time candidates, so the board will welcome the winner between Matthew Bucher, Samuel Millman, or Jalyn Powell. (Since part of the Milford district is in Kent County, the winner may not hail from Sussex.)

Now I’ll shift across to Woodbridge, which is also a shared district with Kent County and one which will also feature an open seat. This time only two newcomers are seeking it as voters will select from either Corey Grammer or Rita Hovermale.

Rolling down the Delmarva Central tracks, we’ll stop in Seaford where the three-year hiatus between school board elections will come to an end this year with George W. Del Farno taking on Marcus Wright in May. Both are making their first runs, too. (So far all but one of the incumbents have taken a pass on another term.)

Because I like to save the best for last, I’m going to first skip down to Delmar and look at that two-person race pitting Dawn Adkins Litchford against Lauren Hudson. Again, two first-time candidates because the incumbent is leaving.

So that leaves my district, Laurel. We started out with a four-person race last year that featured three newcomers and a former member who lost in 2020. One of the three neophytes dropped out, but in the end the former member won by just seven votes in a three-way race.

Unlike almost all of the other Sussex races, we have the incumbent running for another term – and this is the only contest. Linda Hitchens is the incumbent facing challenger Joe Kelley, and one thing I have noticed about Hitchens is that her cycle hasn’t had an election dating back to at least 2007 – there was no election in 2012 or 2017, meaning she’s been elected at least once via acclamation. (I’m betting she’s at least a two-termer – I know someone who could correct me if I’m wrong.)

Thus, our little district is going to be the test case as to whether those who decided to wrap things up in the face of an anti-incumbent mood were right or whether Laurel’s happy with keeping Linda around.