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.

Again, instead of a randomized order I will begin with the two House contenders then do the Senate. At the end of each I will make my endorsements for the Republican nomination.

Matthew Morris (House)

A significant part of Matthew’s campaign has to do with prison reform, which is obviously something he’s familiar with since he served time a few years ago. It also goes with opioid abuse, which is a hot topic among all the GOP contenders this time around. These tip the scales a little bit on the intangibles, but not nearly as much as the idea of legalizing marijuana.

The other key point in his favor is his willingness to engage with people, including this blogger. He’s been pretty good about answering questions, even if I’m generally in disagreement.

There are a few negatives about his campaign; however, I think they can be chalked up to a steep learning curve in a statewide race. His first two volunteers should have been a web designer and a scheduler/manager; instead, I think Matt’s trying to do it all himself and that’s hard for a local race – let alone statewide. At a time when the GOP could use local candidates, he opted for a federal run – although given the field it may not have seemed a bad choice at the time.

Overall, on issues I care about I think Matthew would only be marginally better than the incumbent on some and a decent improvement on others. But when you consider the level of retail politics he’s used to and the fact most of the state representatives in his area are unopposed in the general, perhaps he had a better shot trying to unseat his state representative than a sitting member of Congress.

Lee Murphy (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.

This is a race where a prominent Republican could have made a difference, but instead everyone and their brother decided to try for Governor. We’re left with a rather weak field, but of the two Republican candidates presented Lee Murphy is the better choice.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I found this to be an interesting approach, which is the lone intangible I noted for James: “Since 2010, our party has been divided. I will mend the divide and unite our party in November. The choice is clear, integrity over deceit.”

“In Delaware we need balance and cooperation from both sides and listen to the people. The silent majority must be heard. As candidate for U.S. Senate, I’m listening.”

This brings out several reactions.

First of all, to note that the party has been divided since 2010 is a direct indictment of the TEA Party (which is the real silent majority these days) and it shows that the takeover wasn’t quite completed in Delaware. In part, this stems from the DEGOP making pre-primary endorsements – let the voters make up their own mind and the division goes away.

And then we have the “integrity over deceit” comment. Who did the deception, and what proof does DeMartino have? Those are weighty words to toss around.

Then we have the cooperation from both sides bromide, which means we cave and they get what they want because they don’t stop while those on our side try and live our lives. That is garbage. The key is to convince those who nominally support the other side to do what’s best for all of us (that being increased liberty), not what’s best for maintaining the power of those people who are using the working stiffs as pawns.

James talks a good game, but he’s run such a low-energy campaign targeted to the hardcore party faithful that if he manages to win the primary there’s zero enthusiasm for him and Chris Coons walks right over him. I seldom hear of a DeMartino appearance to meet voters or get an update on social media: over the first two weeks of August Jim has updated his social media six times and made one campaign appearance. Compare that to his opponent who has that many updates and more each day.

Maybe the “party over everything” crowd is okay with that but average Republicans aren’t, hence DeMartino’s past results where he trailed the party standardbearers.

He’s also the one candidate who has not responded to my repeated questions on issues, so it has to be asked how that will translate to constituent service. I may be a rather unique constituent, but I am a Delaware resident nonetheless.

In short, he lost points on intangibles with me.

Lauren Witzke (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.

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.

So based on her attractive positions regarding education, 2A issues, and immigration, I can overlook the shortcomings on other issues because, quite frankly, I don’t see anything from pale pastels from her opponent and this is an election where bold colors are needed. For Republicans, Lauren Witzke is my recommended choice.

Now I’m going to clear my docket with an odds and ends post before resuming the dossier series with the governor’s race.

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. 

In this instance, I’m providing an overview of how I see the candidate serving as a member of the House or Senate. Instead of a randomized order I will begin with the two House contenders then do the Senate.

Matthew Morris (House)

Out of the four Republicans being considered to represent Delaware I would place Morris farthest to the left, perhaps even a little left of center. One thing I found admirable, though, is his devotion to be a representative.

“By holding town hall meetings across the state of Delaware, I will be able to hear the wants and needs of my constituents.  I will dedicate time to chair in person town hall meetings to speak to the constituents of the State of Delaware to ensure your voices are being heard.”

This comes from his experience organizing town hall meetings around his home region; however, I’d be really interested to see how his reception in the Laurel area where I live would be, as it’s very rural and conservative. So I’m not sure he could be truly representative of our views, and the question is more whether he could be persuasive enough to bring people to his side from the right. You see, when he talks about Millennials’ “abilities to think outside of the box, and reach across party lines to discuss true resolution” I think of how many times Republicans have reached across the aisle only to be beaten to a pulp with the bloody stump the Democrats ripped off. (If it truly worked both ways, we would still have somewhat limited government, and we don’t.)

The problem for Republicans trying to run in that lane is that liberal voters seldom vote for anything but the real thing. Know your opponent: she is a black Democrat who can get by with pretending to be centrist because she gets the cover of being a little short of Squad-left. But she’s very good at playing up the first woman to represent Delaware angle for all its worth.

Lee Murphy (House)

Lee is a very lucky guy. I don’t see him as a doctrinaire conservative; fortunately, in comparison to his opponent, running right down the center stripe can make Lee look like the second coming of Ronald Reagan and that may be 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.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Here’s what I read:

“The two original documents, Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution both based upon God given certain inalienable rights to every and all individuals, establish the American system of government. Our government exists to protect our God given rights. I am a firm believer and supporter in our Constitution’s fundamental principles of limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

Okay, so far so excellent. But then I cued up the tire screech of a car coming to a sudden stop:

“Our rights: freedom of speech, religion, the right to bear arms and the right of the people to be secure are not subject to interpretation by public opinion but rather by the Supreme Court.”

Wait, what…? (sighs) Not that old Marbury v. Madison trick again. You’re telling me inalienable rights endowed by our Creator are subject to the whims of nine people, some of whom believe the Constitution is as relevant and useful as the type of toilet paper they use? Ummm, no, these rights are non-negotiable. So I didn’t care as much about the next statement because I wasn’t quite sure he meant it:

“I will support the nomination of judges that interpret the constitution as written and intended by our founding fathers. The federal government exists to protect our rights as American citizens…It is time the federal government returns to a limited government relinquishing control of everyday life back to ‘We the People.'”

Yet I read through the dossier I’ve started on James and identified at least a half-dozen instances where he’s advocating for more government. My concern is that he would drift leftward like most Republicans do, and the fact he’s made more overtures toward the party faithful (the old “party over everything” crowd) than the rank-and-file Republicans leaves me concerned.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

Compared to DeMartino 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?

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.

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.

Unfortunately, this is a subject that is indeed treated like a third rail in that no one wants to touch it, despite the fact all have been asked for their thoughts on the subjects. Perhaps because he’s eligible for these programs, the only lengthy response so far among the Republicans is from James DeMartino, and he focuses mostly on Obamacare, which has also become an entitlement (although that’s in a large degree due to its significant reliance on Medicaid to insure the working poor.)

“As a nation we require a robust healthcare system; doctors, nurses, medical facilities, equipment and pharmaceuticals that are truly affordable to individuals and small business,” writes the DeMartino campaign. “Small businesses have struggled due to the cost of insurance and individuals have suffered financially due to exorbitant premiums and deductibles. We need insurance companies to provide effective coverage and competitive pricing. Government bureaucracy cannot control healthcare, medical decisions must be made by medical professionals. Individuals and their doctors should be in control of their own care.  Individuals should be able to select the coverage they need and know what they are paying for with itemized bills.”

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 DeMartino approach isn’t the end goal, but the approach. As I see it, there is an implication by James 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.

After I posted this originally I found Lee Murphy‘s 2018 website in the internet archives, so I think I can add this pearl of wisdom to the discussion:

“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.

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. I have three parts remaining before I reveal how the Republican candidates have scored so far.

It ties in well with the previous categories of immigration and trade, but to me foreign policy 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, and it works out that my two “America First” candidates go first.

Matthew Morris (House)

At the tail end of his issues page, Matthew thunders, “We have to put an end to Globalist interests that are taking away from the American Dream, and that starts with putting AMERICA FIRST.” I just wish I knew what he meant: does he agree in lockstep with my next aspirant?

Yet he has a softer side too, noting the other day his willingness to extend foreign aid to victims of disaster like the luckless people who were affected by the Beirut explosion.

Lauren Witzke (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.”

Lee Murphy (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.

James DeMartino (Senate)

In looking at DeMartino’s approach, I get the impression it’s “steady as she goes.”

I think he edges more toward the “world’s policeman” side, though. While he begins by saying, “We must continually maintain the strongest, best equipped and trained military in the world,” he then notes, “As a country, we must provide world leadership to protect human rights worldwide and reduce the horrific occurrence of human trafficking.”

It seems to me dealing with human trafficking is a job for law enforcement, a place where international cooperation would do us good. But is that enough of a priority that it gets mentioned so prominently?

He adds, “We must support our allies around the world and continue to strengthen our bonds of freedom, democracy and humanity with Israel.” I can agree with that one.

I also believe I heard James extolling his military and legal background as being advantageous for dealing with treaties, which indeed is a Senate job in the rare case they get one to address. So there is that, too.

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.

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.

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 the Republicans running here in Delaware think? (Eventually they’ll be joined by the rest on the ballot.) Again, the order is randomized but it worked out well in this case.

Matthew Morris (House)

Having a relatively sparse website and focusing most on other issues like prison reform and the opioid crisis, I really haven’t seen where Matthew stands on immigration. Like any of the candidates, he is certainly welcome to let me know privately or publicly by leaving a comment here.

Lee Murphy (House)

What Matthew has to contend with 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.

Lauren Witzke (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.

James DeMartino (Senate)

Perhaps knowing his competition, Jim has this as his immigration platform: “We are a nation of immigrants. As Americans we all benefit from each other’s skills and culture resulting in today’s America, the greatest country in the world. That is why our borders are flooded with foreign nationals. However, to protect our culture, our citizens and our way of life, we have immigration laws. These laws are designed to protect our country and our citizen’s health, welfare and businesses. The law must be enforced! Controlling our borders, supporting the Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is imperative. The United States is a sovereign country and must not allow open borders.”

The problem with this statement is that I don’t see the “fierce resistance” to amnesty that Lauren seems to have. Perhaps it’s a break for James that the Wuhan flu and BLM strife has pushed immigration aside as a key issue, but there are still many millions who would like to see a more America-centered resolution than what we’re being presented with here. It’s very pale pastels compared to Witzke’s bright colors.

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.

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. To date I have received responses from the House contenders but not the Senate ones. I’ll again go in random order, but some will be very short.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I have not received a response to any of my questions from the DeMartino campaign, which is unfortunate because much of what he speaks to about issues ranges between boilerplate and platitudes. Must be the lawyer in him, but for me it’s frustrating.

Matthew Morris (House)

While I’m sure he’s not going to fully embrace the Green New Deal, in his (rather lengthy) response to my query, he noted that, “When it comes to renewable energy, I am most liberal in my views. The planet is a living organism and we are but small parasites.” Making the case that he could reach across party lines, Morris believed he could, “create an alliance in the preservation of our planet and renewable energy.”

The other departure from GOP orthodoxy came in his opposition to energy exploration, calling offshore drilling and expanded fracking, “unnecessary at this point, especially if we have the resources to end it.” Of course, the problem with that approach is that we need more resources to replace those which become less economically viable. I’m not sure I understand the logic, but then again Morris argues that, “the only reason people have bought into the ideology is because they’ve been manipulated by big oil.”

As we all know, I prefer my energy cheap and reliable. If Big Oil can give me that I’m perfectly happy with it. The planet is pretty resilient.

Lee Murphy (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan should he win the primary, 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, similarly to Morris. 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.

Lauren Witzke (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.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received so far has come from Matthew Morris, who noted, “Trump’s tax cuts have their pros and cons. I have an absolute understanding the working middle class will always get the brunt of the taxation because they’re the majority by a landslide.” (He also added later his desire to legalize marijuana, which would presumably be used as a small revenue source as well.)

The bulge in the middle is true when it comes to the present situation, but 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 would love to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here.

With the exception of one quarter, 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.

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’m doing this in a random order, with Republicans first in line and, once the primary is over, those representing other parties on the Delaware ballot.

Lauren Witzke (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.

James DeMartino (Senate)

I think James embodies a very sensible approach with his statement:

“I will work to create an environment that promotes free enterprise and not hinder growth with excessive and stifling regulations that add to the cost of doing business. Regulations must be streamlined so business can run their business and not continually file government licenses, documents and reports. I will continually discuss with the Governor and State Legislators their needs to promote business growth and expansion within Delaware from technology and infrastructure to development of Port Wilmington as a vibrant and safe port facility.  I will ensure farmers are provided the latest and greatest agriculture enhancements to maximize their output and returns.”

Philosophically it’s very close to the mark; now all we need is more specifics on various items. My only nitpick may be that streamlining regulations (and improving broadband, which he has also brought up) is as much incumbent on the state as it is the federal government, since that rising tide of eliminating regulation on a federal level would lift all the boats, not just ours.

Matthew Morris (House)

In reading through Matthew’s philosophy, it sounds a little bit like Lauren’s – he blames outsourcing for many of our problems. “I’m proposing that these big corporations, they’re going to have to pay a tax if they’re going to outsource their jobs to these foreign companies,” said Morris on social media. “I can’t stress it enough. We need to put America first.” He also vows to bring aquaculture, farming, and manufacturing back to Delaware. (I can vouch for the fact farming never left Slower Lower. Just sit in my living room and watch the traffic go by on my rural road. Or just watch the soybeans and corn grow and the irrigation system circle around. Or walk outside when the wind is the wrong direction and say “smells like Delaware.”)

Anyway, this is something I don’t think people who blame outsourcing think about: why do foreign manufacturers make cars here? Because we have a mature and prosperous market. We can’t just say in a blanket fashion that all outsourcing is bad because foreign companies outsource here, too – indeed, we should try to reclaim what we lost to China, but there are incentives we can present to encourage that may work more effectively than threats to browbeat.

Lee Murphy (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.

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.

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 presenting this in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

To be perfectly honest, given the trajectory of his campaign and his opponent, this was more of a response to her in as innocent of platitudes as possible than a real stance on social issues. DeMartino states, “The foundation of a strong civilized society is the family. A strong family unit will reduce the ever-growing request for government services. I will propose and support appropriate legislation that will strengthen families financially and incentivize multi-generational households. We must respect, protect and care for our seniors, our youth and the unborn.  Our children require care, guidance and direction from parents not from government agencies.”

He is right in the sense that the family is a foundation, but what I don’t see is the specifics as to how he would help. To some, the idea of strengthening families financially can mean a tax handout when the better solution to me would be to restore the conditions where Mom could stay home with the kids and not be forced to work for the family to survive financially. This would also allow kids to get the “care, guidance, and direction” DeMartino desires.

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.

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.

Matthew Morris (House)

Matthew has engaged with folks on social media regarding this subject, and he has a considerably different take. While Matthew argues he is pro-life, he hides his pro-choice view behind a fig leaf, claiming, “I believe as a man, I do not have a say on this issue.” If you are a defender of life, indeed you do. Perhaps part of that comes from his sexuality, noting “As a gay man, I don’t want people telling me what I can and can not do with my body. It’s just a really touchy subject.”

The trouble I have with that philosophy in the case of abortion is that (in the vast, vast majority of cases) the choice was already made, and another life was created. I believe “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are phrased that way for a reason: you can’t pursue happiness without liberty, and you can’t have liberty without life. So a woman isn’t just choosing her liberty, but also denying the liberty of the baby inside her. If she doesn’t feel she can take care of the child, there are alternatives readily available that would maintain the child’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with a willing set of parents.

This take is made even more different when he calls for, “Nuclear families, proper resources for implementing pro-social behavioral learning, and funding for community centers to be able to ensure the children growing up in fatherless homes are taken care of as well.” (He grew up in such a home.) Again, this is a more appropriate state-level “ask” than a federal one.

The next portion of this deep dive will look at the topics of trade and job creation.

2020 dossier series

As a service to readers, I am pinning this post to the top of my website through Election Day. If you would like to check out the candidates, I have also moved that sidebar closer to the top of the site, too. (Don’t forget that below that is this year’s monoblogue Accountability Project, covering the Delaware General Assembly.) I link to each part as I complete them and they are published:

Delaware federal offices

Delaware Governor

  • Agriculture and Environment
  • Transportation
  • Social Issues
  • Law Enforcement/Judicial
  • Education
  • Second Amendment
  • Job Creation
  • Taxation
  • Role of Government
  • Intangibles

New content (including portions of these dossiers) begins below.

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 evening I will place a post at the top with a link to each part of the 2020 dossier series as I place them.

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, I’m beginning with the four GOP candidates then working the others on the ballot in after the primary.

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?” Again, this will be presented in a random order.

Lauren Witzke (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.

Matthew Morris (House)

Interestingly enough, Morris is the only one of the four Republicans without a specific Second Amendment area on his website. So when I asked him his thoughts, he stated that, “When it comes to 2A you should be able to carry across state lines with no problem. A thorough and rigorous background (check) should be conducted for a federal carry permit.”

Of course, that begs the followup question about whether these same checks should be in place for purchasing weapons; however, I can see merit in the idea of a federal carry permit. Unfortunately, states don’t treat concealed carry permits like they treat driver’s licenses, which are valid wherever you go in the country.

James DeMartino (Senate)

DeMartino has pledged to put up “fierce resistance” to those who would surrender our Second Amendment rights, “like Senator Chris Coons.” Now I know the guy is a former Marine but I don’t know just how fierce the resistance is to moms demanding action. That’s the million-dollar question.

Lee Murphy (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.

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.

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.

Today I’m comparing and contrasting the four GOP 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? (After the primary, I will supplement this post with the remaining candidates.)

To do the research, I went through each candidate’s website and social media. They were also all asked the following question (with minor variations):

Pretend it’s 2026, you’re running for re-election, and they have followed your prescriptions for the American educational system to a T. How does the system compare to the way it is now, and how did you get them there?

Out of the four Republican federal candidates, I received answers back from three, Matthew Morris, Lauren Witzke, and Lee Murphy. The same question has been asked to the Libertarian and IPOD candidates who are active on social media with campaign sites; but I won’t use their answers until later. (I can basically guess what the platform of the Democrats will be and I don’t like it, so I won’t bother with them.)

The following is a summary of their published platforms, their social media comments, and their direct answers. So as not to advantage one over another, candidates will be presented in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

James portrays himself as “a proponent of home schooling, private and charter schools,” adding that, “The best education is determined and implemented at the local level.” These are admirable goals.

But the problem I begin to run into is when he talks about reducing bureaucracy, improving educational requirements, and teacher support. As a Senator, I’m not sure how he can do this but what I am afraid of is that he will simply call to increase federal aid, which invariably comes with strings attached for everything. Adding these strings in the past has led to the increased bureaucracy.

And shouldn’t teacher support and educational requirements be more of a local and state issue? If I’m to take him at face value – and at the moment I have little choice because this is all he’s said on the subject – then I don’t see him as much improvement over the status quo, let alone moving in the direction we need to go.

Lee Murphy (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.

Matthew Morris (House)

Conversely, in looking at what Matthew wants, there’s not a lot to suggest improvement to the status quo. He wants to “work with educators” and “decrease class sizes” but that’s not a federal job. And what bothers me most is his saying he’s in favor of “providing solid legislation to provide our schools with the proper funding to adequately provide our children with resources to improve their education.” So he’ll throw federal money at the problems.

In directly answering my question, Matthew said that, “our children have received exceptional education.” I disagree.

Lauren Witzke (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.

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

Odds and ends number 97

You know, I figured just as soon as I put old number 96 to bed that my e-mail box would fill up with interesting tidbits, so it wouldn’t be nearly as long before I got to number 97. So let’s see what I have here.

A look at theology

People tend to think of Erick Erickson as just a radio personality and pundit, but it’s not as well known that he’s studied divinity. So when he talks about religion it makes my ears perk up, and this recent column of his was one of those times.

Christians need to be preaching Jesus, not Christianity. We need to preach about the end and the return and the world made new. It is fantastical and supernatural and unbelievable for so many. But it is real and right and true and will give the hopeless hope.

Erick Erickson, “Groaning for Justice: The Theology of What is Happening”, June 25, 2020

It sounds a lot like my church. But it’s worth remembering that on one side is the world and on the other side is God, expressed in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I have a simplistic perspective about it all, but then again I came to the game later in life than a lot of other people so my flaws were more apparent.

I believe that when Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through him that He was absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the world better but there should always be that end goal in mind, too.

Is there any reason for college?

This may seem strange to say as an alumnus of Miami University, but insofar as career preparation I learned as much in a year of work as I did in securing my four-year degree. (However, I did manage to consume many “Gobblers” and adult beverages from various eating and drinking establishments around Oxford, Ohio, and I got to go see Division I sports for free. So there was that.)

By the same token, Victor Davis Hanson has toiled in the academic field for decades – yet he delivers a scathing critique of college life and educational achievement in 2020, 34 years after I walked away from Millett Hall with my diploma case in hand.

31 years later I was witness to a similar scene but under wildly different circumstances, as my wife received her bachelor’s degree from a nationally-recognized college after taking online courses tailored to the working world. For these folks, their campus was the Washington, D.C. area and beyond, and hundreds of them were in what was then the Verizon Center for their big day. They received their degrees after enduring a lifestyle of trying to juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities with their academics as opposed to being cloistered on a campus and shuttling between academic halls, student centers, and their dorms. That was my world in the mid-1980s as a snot-nosed kid from a small Ohio town.

Yet many kids still do the same thing I did four decades ago, and the problem with that approach is that it’s rapidly becoming an information silo. Kids learn a lot about things of little importance in real life then wonder why it bites them in the ass. I remember pounding the pavement for a job right out of college then finally taking something outside my field to tide me over – turns out I was there less than a month before I got the break I needed; then again I was in an avocation where there was demand in the real world so it finally needed my supply.

And my alma mater wonders why I ignore their pleas for alumni donations.

More from smart people

How this guy ever got to be governor of his state – and then re-elected – often mystifies me. IMHO he was really too smart for the job, and the same went for being President. I think Bobby Jindal could have been the next Calvin Coolidge, a President who exhibited admirable restraint of his powers and led the government to do the same.

Recently he penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner where he focused on some items he saw as long-term trends accelerated by the onset of the Wuhan flu. This one was the one that piqued my interest the most:

De-densification: Elevators, mass transit, and air-conditioned spaces, all critical components of urban living, will be rendered safe again one day. Yet, the nation’s most successful cities were already victims of their own success, with the rising cost of living pushing working families to the suburbs and exurbs. Workers are going to demand more flexible work arrangements and less time wasted commuting. Remote work and virtual meetings will allow many office workers to be productive in the exurbs and in the country. Wealthy families will join them with getaway homes, and companies will require less-dense and smaller offices. Smaller communities near urban centers will benefit and become more economically viable for their permanent residents. The economic efficiencies that have driven urbanization will still continue to be compelling, and first-tier cities especially will reinvent themselves and continue to attract immigrants and new businesses.

“How the COVID-19 pandemic will change us”, Bobby Jindal, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2020.

The initial push to the suburbs in the postwar era was fueled by the surge of new families looking for room to grow, coupled with the inexpensive cost of gasoline and car maintenance and expansion of highway construction allowing commuters to bypass mass transit. Suddenly small towns that were once on the outskirts of metro areas and surrounded by cornfields became the loose center of dozens of subdivisions looped together by beltway interstates surrounding the city core. My parents did this in spades, bypassing suburbia altogether to buy five rural acres for three active boys to play ball on and dealing with a half-hour or more commute.

Being in the design world, I’ve seen the push for a new urbanism. For example, in nearby Salisbury their mayor Jake Day has pushed for a new style of downtown revitalization, attempting to bring in mixed-use development accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Surface parking on city-owned lots downtown is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as lots are sold to developers.

Fortunately for Day, Salisbury is still a small enough city that it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and others which have seen their urban core rot away from a toxic combination of crime, poverty, and lack of opportunity. It could yet go that way, or it could become a destination precisely because it’s been small enough to escape these issues – the sort of small town Jindal envisions succeeding thanks to the remote technology we now have.

But these urban escapees have another close-by alternative which is also retiree-friendly – if we don’t screw it up.

Picking too many losers

The state of Delaware lags the field in state-level GDP growth these days, one survey placing the First State last in the nation.

Perhaps a reason for this, argues the group A Better Delaware, is that our state government is terrible at determining winners and losers. As it has often turned out, the well-connected are the winners and taxpayers are the losers, and the group goes through some examples in this recent piece.

As I see it, job creation is about filling needs. An entrepreneur sees a market void and figures out a way to fill it, then once that venture is a go he or she may find the work is too much for one person to handle. Suddenly they’re signing the front of a paycheck, and the measure of a business-friendly state is just how easily that employer can get to that point without feeling violated from the anal rape of a corrupt system installed to grease the palms of a thousand bureaucrats. Somehow Delaware seems to believe that making life easier for those who promise scores of jobs without figuring out the market void is a good thing to do. I tend to like my strategy better.

The library

I was recently introduced to an interesting website in a unique way: one of its employees requested to purchase a paper copy of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. So I autographed it and sent it to Tennessee for his enjoyment. (By the way, I have several more available.)

So while Ammo.com sells – as you may guess – many different varieties of ammunition, they also feature what’s called the Resistance Library: a collection of articles on many and varied topics. (Actually, the whole site is worth exploring.) The post my newfound friend was dying to share with me, though, was on “Policing for Profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a popular concept with the “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” crowd; the same ones who shout “blue lives matter!” (And they do, but so does the law.) In reading this lengthy, well-written treatise on the subject I found out that Delaware is a state which is one of the worst in that regard.

And civil asset forfeiture laws are difficult to change because there are two large lobbies already stacked against these efforts: law enforcement and local government. Imagine what $200,000 seized could do for a local government’s bottom line when they may spend $2 million on a police department annually. Never mind it’s not their property and they have only suspicion that it was gathered illegally. It’s like crack cocaine to an addict: wrongly or not, they can’t pass it up. We need to send our state to a proverbial NA meeting next year when the General Assembly reconvenes.

More bad advice

I like to end on a light-hearted note when I can, and what better way than to poke fun at those who tell me how to run this place?

Hello monoblogue.us team:

As you know because of Global pandemic, the world has shut down and a big question mark on sustainability of business.

We are connecting the business owner to create a high standard for their business website and marketing strategy. To start this, we recommend to upgrade the website to more customer friendly.

If you have same idea in your mind, Let’s discuss about redesign of your website in economic cost.

A really badly written e-mail.

I can’t decide whether this came from China, India, or some other third-world country where English is taught as a second language. (In this case, maybe third.)

Fortunately, I didn’t shut down during the pandemic. Now I won’t say that I was terribly productive during the time span, but the college degree I alluded to way above led me to a job deemed “essential” so I have been working my usual full-time hours. Even so, I sustain into my fifteenth year of this site. (I even outlasted Red Maryland.)

My site is not really a business site, but I do have a marketing strategy: write good sh*t. It’s even customer-friendly because I kept out the offending letter.

And, in case this guy missed it, I redesigned my website a couple years ago, finally retiring old “Black Lucas” after nearly a decade of service. I still miss that theme sometimes but I like the back end that goes with the current “Twenty Sixteen” theme much better.

So I think I have flogged the dead horse of my inbox enough for one visit. I didn’t even get to the silliness that’s the Delaware governor’s race, but maybe I’ll hold onto that for a standalone post after all.

Programming note

Once we clear the filing deadline this coming Tuesday I’m going to add my Delaware political sidebar with all the primary and general election candidates and then the following Monday or Tuesday release the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition. The delay is because I have to determine whether the legislators involved get a free ride in November or not.

Because the Delaware session was truncated this year, I decided to simply amend the 2019 edition to use four votes this year and drop the least impactful four votes from last year to maintain 25 separate votes. You’ll see what I mean when I put it up later this month.