Easter musings

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Rather than leave the site all but dark for Easter as I did last year, I’m going to back up what I wrote on Good Friday with Cathy’s thoughts on the week that was in the religious realm.

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This has been a tumultuous week with hysteria over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana and Arkansas, the tenth anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, and always in the background the ongoing holocaust of abortions.

Terri Schiavo, a profoundly brain damaged woman, was starved and dehydrated to death by court order despite her family pleading to be allowed to take care of her. They were not even allowed to moisten her lips as she died a prolonged and painful death that would be deemed inappropriate for the vilest convicted felon.

Her husband decided, and the courts backed him up, that Terri would not want to live in her condition, so she was forced to die by starvation and dehydration. Here were two opposing points of view embodied in the husband and Terri’s family. He could not tolerate allowing her to live and they could not tolerate forcing her to die. After a lengthy court battle, a judge decided that she must die. Nothing that the family could do could stop that order. Police guarded her to make sure that they did not touch a drop of water to her parched lips.

That is where the new tolerance takes you.

When there are two strongly held convictions, traditional understanding is that tolerance will allow each to go his own way. This is not how tolerance works anymore.

The tolerant position in the Terri Schiavo case would lean towards do no harm. She had a loving family that wanted to care for her. The husband had moved on with his life including a new girlfriend and children. Let the poor woman live.

Do not be taken in by the use of tolerance by the social progressives. It is a code word that means they will get the social agenda that they want over the protest of anyone and everything that is traditional, sacred, or reasonable.

Just as Terri Schiavo had to die because the social progressive movement had deemed that a brain damaged person was not a “real” person, so they have decided that religious freedom must die because it stands in the way of their continued restructuring of our society.

The Terri Schiavo episode was a watershed in our culture turning towards a culture of death. The ongoing abortion holocaust is another example as are the Death with Dignity bills that are popping up all over the country.

We are being pushed inexorably towards a total refutation of our Judeo-Christian heritage. The holdouts are the Christians that still believe that God’s truth is more important than the progressive gospel of man’s perfectibility leading to Utopia here on earth. The dream of Utopia, heaven on earth, is a popular, recurring theme that always leads to mass mayhem, death, and fascism. People are individuals that do not like to be told how to think and what to do. The only way to ensure conformity of the masses is to coerce compliance by fear and force.

The governors of Indiana and Arkansas (Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson, respectively) that just caved on the RFRA bills did not understand what hit them. Why they did not see it coming, I do not know. Certainly there was warning when Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona faltered last year.

Perhaps now we finally have the attention of our fearful leaders. The progressives that have been pushing to destroy the fabric of our society are serious. They will not be stopped by Republican leaders caving a little here or there. Giving ground only fuels their lust to win. That is why I keep begging our leaders to consider their principles carefully and then to stand on them.

This RFRA fight is not about gay marriage or equality for gays. That is just a temporary way station on the path to the total destruction of traditional (religious) values. It started years ago with no-fault divorce weakening marriage. Contraceptives allowed the separation of child rearing from marriage, thus further weakening marriage, as it became just a form of personal fulfillment rather than the vehicle to rear children in a loving home with two parents to guide them.

The push for release from sexual restrictions brought on cohabitation, single parents, and eventually homosexual marriage.

Homosexual marriage was always a side note though. The vast majority of the gay population does not want to avail themselves of marriage. Their goal is the complete equality of the homosexual lifestyle and that is not premised on a monogamous relationship.

The end game is becoming clearer now. It is not really anything to do with the homosexual movement per se. It is about the total release of any and all sexual restrictions on any person. To reach that goal, all the traditional foundations of a society have to be weakened and eventually removed. This will leave a people that will need the government for everything.

The only groups standing in the way are the religious believers. Thus they must be denigrated, reviled, and berated until they either fall into line or are so cut off from society that they cannot have a voice. Their views will be deemed so bigoted and hateful, that nobody will even consider anything they say. Who bothers to listen to a bigot?

We are very close to achieving that reality. Any person or group that steps out of the politically correct storyline is decried as beyond the pale.

Religious freedom or freedom of conscience means being able to say what your convictions are and to live by them. It doesn’t mean that you will be popular, but you can come into the public square and speak your mind.

Today just try saying that you do not believe in climate change – there are calls to cut funding to states whose governors refuse to agree that climate change is real.

Today just try saying that marriage is between a man and a woman. You may lose your job as CEO of a major company like Brendan Eich did at Mozilla.

If a governor or a CEO cannot state their conscience, then how is the normal citizen to stand in the public square and be allowed to speak?

Remember, the issue on display this week may not matter to you, but if you don’t allow your neighbor to speak his mind today, will you be allowed to speak yours tomorrow on the issue you care about?

The new tolerance means that you must say what the cultural elites and media order you to say. As long as you dance to their music all will be well, just don’t step out of line.

monoblogue music: “Revolt” (single) by The Unravelling

April 4, 2015 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comment 

After a hiatus of nearly three years thanks to cancer surgery and recovery for lead vocalist Steve Moore, the Canadian industrial/metal duo The Unravelling is returning April 25 with new material, a single called Revolt.

Honestly I hadn’t heard of the group – which features Moore and his musical partner Gus de Beauville – until now, but perhaps I should have. Their 2012 debut “13 Arcane Hymns” was good listening if you enjoy modern metal with an industrial edge – think of groups like Tool or Nine Inch Nails and you’d get the idea. In that release they straddled the tightrope between metal and industrial in fine fashion.

But on Revolt, which would seemingly be the lead single to a progressing and as-yet-untitled forthcoming album due later in 2015, the duo veers in a more industrial direction. That could be a reflection of how their music is created, but I don’t see the upside to making music that is less appealing than the previous release. It made a little more sense to me when considered in the context of “13 Arcane Hymns” – I listened to Revolt first, then checked out the 2012 album – but still I don’t think the end result was worth the wait.

However, I will grant a caveat in what I say: perhaps this is a generational thing. To me, music is made by actual instruments so the thought of sitting at a computer composing tunes is a little foreign to me. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy some of the songs in that genre but overall a lot of it goes by me like background noise or elevator music. With all the different genres of music I listen to for reviewing purposes, I’ve come to appreciate instrumentation more and more.

Yet having said that I still think it will be interesting to see what other music The Unravelling comes up with – early indications are that the lyrics on several of the other songs will be more meaningful and challenging than those presented with Revolt (one example: Acid milk conjurer/The guided son/Self help/Change your life/Halo gun) so their sophomore effort may still avoid that dreaded jinx.

A lot of pizza and a lot of support

As of this writing an otherwise nondescript pizzeria in a typical Midwestern small town has $842,347 in a GoFundMe account.

I’ve never been to Walkerton, Indiana, but the small (population 2,248) community straddling U.S. 6 in the northern part of the state probably isn’t too different from the towns I spent my formative years nearby in neighboring Ohio. Before this week, no one had ever heard of the restaurant or the town but now it’s Ground Zero for a culture war sweeping the nation and pitting a very tiny but exceptionally vocal minority against a much larger group that’s been turning the other cheek for far too long.

The events leading up to the sudden fame and fortune of Memories Pizza are well-documented: owner Crystal O’Connor admitted her religious beliefs would prevent her from catering a same-sex wedding. Never mind the business hasn’t been asked to do so (and probably would not be), that admission coupled with the passage of Indiana’s original version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enough to become a “gotcha” moment for the ambitious news department of a station whose personnel are otherwise toiling in the #96 media market in the country – success for them would be advancement to a station in Indianapolis or even Chicago.

Yet the question has sprung to mind several times as I’ve heard the events playing out: why doesn’t the Christian community fight back and demand the RFRA protect our interests?

Some would sneer that Christians are the majority and therefore undeserving of protection. As it has turned out from previous cases, a state having the RFRA on the books was still ineffective in stopping the loss of their businesses when their owners refused service to gay weddings, citing their religious beliefs. Because of this track record, I again ask: what’s the big deal then? In almost every case, those who seek service have several other options and it seems to me that business owners should have the right to say, “no, thank you.” That’s what a series of Muslim bakers did in this video.

So what would be the problem if church-going people who believe the Bible is the Word of God and should be followed stood up to the gay lobby and those who bend over backward to accommodate it unquestioningly in the name of “tolerance?” In my estimation, tolerance should work both ways.

Just look at the economic power of the churchgoing. On the Sundays we’re in church, I’m generally sitting amid 75 to 100 people. Other churches in town are somewhat larger; most are probably smaller. But let’s say Salisbury’s church attendance is slightly better than the national average, which ranges between 36 to 39 percent nationally according to recent polls. 40 percent is an easy number to work with, and that means out of a population of about 30,000 in Salisbury churchgoers have the economic might of 12,000 people.

Arkansas has been working on passing its own version of the RFRA, but Walmart (which is headquartered in the state) has been encouraging a veto. What if 12,000 people in Salisbury decided to pass on Walmart and do their shopping elsewhere? I’m sure Target, KMart, Sears, and Kohl’s would welcome the extra business.

Erick Erickson of RedState has popularized a saying over the last couple years on the subject, “you will be made to care.” Christians aren’t generally going around looking to stir up trouble, but we’ve spent the last fifty years or so retreating from the culture and watching deviancy be defined downward. At some point there has to be a stand for values; oftentimes it occurs on a generational level as the offspring rebel against the excesses of the parents.

At $15 per pizza, the money grossed by the GoFundMe account set up for Memories Pizza would be equivalent to them selling over 56,000 pizzas. Being a small town pie maker, it’s doubtful they make over 75 pizzas a night so this is perhaps two years’ worth of business for them. Of course, I can almost guarantee that people will be coming after their newfound windfall in some way, shape, manner, or form – probably demanding they donate it to a same-sex marriage advocacy group under threat of lawsuits for imagined pain, suffering, or fraud.

Personally, though, I hope that after they tithe an appropriate amount to their church, they use the money for their business – perhaps opening a second store or investing in new equipment to bolster their menu. Maybe they can start a bakery.

Who might be the Shorebirds? 2015 edition

April 2, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · 1 Comment 

Last season the Delmarva Shorebirds rode a crop of talented prospects like Hunter Harvey, Mike Yastrzemski, Drew Dosch, and Chance Sisco to their first winning half-season in six years with a 38-31 first-half mark. Some of those players departed for Frederick after the break but overall Delmarva had its best record since 2008, finishing just below .500 at 66-73.

The 2014 Shorebirds had good pitching prospects like Harvey, Jon Keller, and the now-departed Steven Brault (sent to Pittsburgh in the Travis Snider deal) but its hallmark was an offense that set a team record for overall batting, led by Chance Sisco who became the team’s first-ever SAL batting champion. Except for Brault, it’s all but certain these players will be advancing to Frederick and beyond this season.

So who will be taking their place?

You may recall I tried this exercise last year and out of 25 I only got 15 correct – in part because I did it a few weeks earlier in the middle of spring training. (A handful came along later in the season as opposed to opening day.) This time I’m compiling the list closer to the end so I would imagine most of these guys will be the ones coming north with the team. [It's also worth pointing out I predicted that "(i)t doesn’t appear the Shorebirds will be an offensive juggernaut, but their pitching should be very good. We may see a lot of 3-2, 2-1 style games at the ballyard." So much for that theory.]

Undaunted, here’s my thoughts on the roster, with pitchers first, then catchers, infielders, and outfielders in alphabetical order. I’m thinking we may have a 13-man pitching staff with 12 position players.

Pitchers (13):

  • Augey Bill, lhp - Augey was one of those guys I predicted would make the leap from Aberdeen last year but did not. Yes, he is a very low round pick (39th) and probably isn’t considered a great prospect. But there is always a place for a lefthander and his 6′-9″ stature and outstanding walk/strikeout ratio (27 strikeouts to 6 walks in 33 innings last season puts Augey in what could be called a “sink or swim” category considering the fact he just turned 24, which is old for the SAL. He could be a useful bullpen piece.
  • Tanner Chleborad, rhp – Tanner is a 16th round pick from last season and was mainly a starter for Aberdeen. He went 2-3 with a nice 2.78 ERA in 32 1/3 innings, but had a high WHIP of 1.51 because he gave up over a hit an inning. He isn’t a strikeout pitcher, either, with just 15 Ks, so he probably works to the back end of the rotation.
  • Stefan Crichton, rhp – Stefan’s numbers weren’t all that elegant (2-5, 4.47 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP) but he’s another pitcher who seemingly would rather pitch to contact than walk a batter since he only allowed seven free passes in 44 1/3 innings. He led the IronBirds in appearances in 20 and was second behind the traded Stephen Tarpley in innings pitched. Crichton may get the last starting job or be the first guy out of the bullpen.
  • Dariel Delgado, rhp – The Cuban native was one of the late-season pickups for the Shorebirds, coming up in July to take the place of Jon Keller in the bullpen and eventually making five August starts where he pitched rather well. Overall Delgado was 0-3 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, and it’s likely the 21 year old will be in the middle of the rotation.
  • Keegan Ghidotti, rhp – Ghidotti is probably the 13th pitcher on the staff. He was a 38th round pick who only pitched 19 1/3 innings for the GCL Orioles last year – but he had 5 saves and a 1.40 ERA. He allowed eight walks but only nine hits, so the 0.88 WHIP is quite good.
  • Brian Gonzalez, lhp - The Orioles’ initial pick in last season’s draft (in the 3rd round), it’s been figured all off-season that Gonzalez would probably be our opening day starter. Although he was pedestrian in two Aberdeen starts (5 runs and 10 hits in 9 innings, both losses) he pitched to a 1.34 ERA and 0.92 WHIP overall between eight starts the Gulf Coast League and the two with Aberdeen. It’s most likely that Brian will be kept on a pretty short innings leash, so he may make a number of three- and four-inning starts in the early stages of the season. He definitely cuts an imposing figure at 6′-3″ and 230 pounds, surprising for a 19 year old.
  • Kevin Grendell, lhp – After spending two seasons in the Gulf Coast League and one offseason in Australian baseball, Grendell may be the guy who comes in to back up some of the other pitchers with a couple innings of long relief. He was 2-3, 3.79 in the GCL last year with a 1.35 WHIP but struck out 39 in 35 2/3 innings at the GCL level. He was a relatively high draft pick out of high school (11th round) so the Orioles probably have some significant expectations from him.
  • Ivan Hernandez, rhp – While four saves may not seem like much, it was enough to lead the Aberdeen squad last season. Hernandez did a good enough job as their closer to merit a late-season promotion to Frederick, but I think he will start this year’s season with Delmarva. Ivan, a Venezuelan native who began his Orioles career in the Dominican Summer League in 2010, pitched to a 1-2, 3.81 mark between the two teams last season with a 1.34 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He is a converted starter but I would guess he’ll be our closer to begin the campaign.
  • David Hess, rhp - A 5th round pick last year, Hess made it to Delmarva for two late-season starts, allowing 3 runs and 7 hits in 8 innings here. More importantly, he struck out 12 SAL batters without walking any. This was after going 2-1, 3.20 with a 1.18 WHIP in Aberdeen and averaging over a strikeout per inning through the season. I think he’s the #2 starter behind Gonzalez, making a great left-right combo against opponents.
  • John Means, lhp - Means pitched 37 innings last season as a starter for Aberdeen and was the O’s 11th round pick in the 2014 draft. Now 1-4 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.19 WHIP for the campaign (all but 2 innings with the IronBirds) may not seem that much better than average, but a 36-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 39 innings may grab some attention. I see him as the #3 starter for Delmarva, meaning we can go left-right-left against opponents.
  • Nik Nowattnick, rhp - Another holdover from 2014 and a local product (Colonel Richardson High School), Nik has parlayed his free agent status into a nice job as a reliever: overall he was 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.40 WHIP last year, including his seven appearances with the Shorebirds. He’ll be an addition to the bullpen as one of those middle-inning guys.
  • Max Schuh, lhp – The numbers for Aberdeen weren’t all that great (2-0, 5.25 in 12 innings, with 12 strikeouts and 4 walks) but the Orioles like to move early-round college pitchers quickly and Max qualifies. Likely to go in the bullpen, but I could see them stretching him out as a middle reliever.
  • Austin Urban, rhp – More effective as a reliever than a starter for the Shorebirds last season, this may be his last shot. The Orioles claimed him from the Cubs after Chicago let him go without throwing a regular-season pitch for them, but in order to succeed he will need to cut down on his walks. In a full season here, Austin was 3-4, 4.01 with a 1.6 WHIP and 32 walks to 38 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. He’ll be another guy who backs the starters.

It appears to me the starting rotation would be Gonzalez, Hess, Means, Delgado, Chleborad, and Crichton, with Hernandez as the primary closer and Bill and Ghidotti also being late-inning guys. The others will be the first out of the bullpen in the fourth through sixth innings, providing two to four innings as needed.

For position players, (R) is for right-handed hitters, (L) for lefties, and switch-hitters with (S). I’ll begin with the catchers.

Catchers (2):

  • Jonah Heim (S) – His bat may not be ready for the SAL (just .143 in 70 at-bats for Aberdeen last season) but Heim’s defense draws rave reviews from the Orioles’ brass and he’s one of the few Delmarva players who’s been on the big league spring training travel team, even as a late-inning replacement. Heim may bat ninth in his starts, but the 19 year old will likely bump an older player off the Delmarva roster.
  • Alex Murphy (R) – Another of the young crop of catchers the Orioles selected in the initial rounds of the 2013 draft – a group which includes 2014 Shorebirds Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns, as well as the aforementioned Heim – Murphy has the better bat of the pair, with a .271/3/26 /.698 OPS slash line, mostly for Aberdeen. He was 3-for-15 in a brief Delmarva stint last season when Chance Sisco went down.

If Delmarva opts to carry three catchers (the third would most likely be Tanner Murphy, who played here briefly last year) we could have a similar scenario to 2014 where either Sisco or Wynns caught and the other served as DH. I’m assuming two catchers, which we had most of last season.

Infielders (6):

  • Austin Anderson (L) – While Anderson served primarily as Aberdeen’s third baseman in 2014, the 9th round pick from last year may move over to shortstop for Delmarva to accommodate the highly-touted third baseman Jomar Reyes. Anderson hit well with the IronBirds, putting up a .307/1/19/.758 slash line in 2014.
  • Federico Castagnini (R) – The Italian-born Castagnini spent the first half of 2014 with the Shorebirds, hitting .234/0/5/.576 with the club as a starting second baseman. Sent to Aberdeen at mid-season, he developed into more of a utility player with time split mainly between second base and third base, with a little shortstop thrown in. In a pinch he can also play the outfield.
  • Ronarsy Ledesma (R) – If it comes down to five infielders, Ledesma may make the cut over Castagnini because he has the versatility to be the emergency catcher (he caught ten games in the Dominican Summer League in 2010-11.) Primarily a second baseman last season, Ledesma played three games at third for the Shorebirds and went 4-for-13 to end a season where he hit .289/7/28/.824 OPS overall, mostly in the Gulf Coast League.
  • Derek Peterson (R) – A free agent signee last season, Peterson hit .283/0/18/.758 OPS last year for the GCL Orioles (this includes the 0-for-2 he posted in two late-season Aberdeen games.) He played mostly first base in the GCL, but filled in as needed at shortstop and third base.
  • Jomar Reyes (R) – He’s barely 18 years old, but the experts believe Reyes will be Delmarva’s starting third baseman this year. They have good reason to do so, since he handled the Gulf Coast League to the tune of .285/4/29/.758 OPS. Notably, the Dominican-born Reyes did not need a stint in the Dominican Summer League, instead coming directly to the States to play. First base may be in his future, but for now he will play at the hot corner.
  • Hector Veloz (R) – A second bite of the Delmarva apple may be in Hector’s future, although it’s more likely he’ll play at first than at third as he did for the Shorebirds. Hector only hit .160 here in 25 games but improved to a .236/7/26/.709 mark with Aberdeen, finishing second on the team with those seven home runs.

Outfielders (4):

  • Jay Gonzalez (L) – Drafted for the third time in 2014, the Orioles secured this speedy center fielder in the 10th round. A .259/0/10/.640 OPS slash line isn’t that great, but Jay led Aberdeen with 14 steals so it’s likely he’ll move up to full-season ball this year.
  • Oswill Lartiguez (R) – We saw him go 2-for-10 in four late-season games last season, but overall Oswill hit .251/0/11/.618 OPS as primarily a right fielder for Aberdeen. The Venezuelan product is entering his sixth pro season at the age of 22.
  • T.J. Olesczuk (R) – Probably the fourth outfielder, Olesczuk was the last man drafted by the O’s last year. But he did well in the Gulf Coast League, hitting .265/0/12/.659 OPS in 34 games.
  • Riley Palmer (L) – Palmer is another low-round pick who did well at Aberdeen, splitting time between first base and right field. His bat was solid as well as he put up a slash line of .273/5/21/.752 OPS in 59 games. If he makes the team as the first baseman, it may bump Peterson or Veloz off the team and give someone like Conor Bierfeldt another chance.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this team. I don’t think they will have the offense last year’s group did, but there is the potential for firepower throughout the lineup. A lot will depend on how the young players adapt – if Reyes and Brian Gonzalez are breakout stars they could carry this club to success.

Now let’s look at a potential batting order:

  1. Jay Gonzalez, cf (L)
  2. Derek Peterson, 1b (R)
  3. Jomar Reyes, 3b (R)
  4. Ronarsy Ledesma, 2b (R)
  5. Riley Palmer, rf (L)
  6. Alex Murphy, dh (R)
  7. Austin Anderson, ss (L)
  8. Oswill Lartiguez, lf (R)
  9. Jonah Heim, c (S)

We will see how I do come Tuesday when the Shorebirds play their annual exhibition game against Salisbury University. Most of those players who make the trip north will comprise the opening day roster.

Next week will also mark the beginning of season number 10 of Shorebird of the Week. It’s hard to believe I have made it this far with the feature, but this may also be the season my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame reaches twenty players. And who knows which of these guys could be in the SotWHoF Class of 2017, 2018, or beyond?

All this fun begins next week. Are you ready for some baseball? I know I am!

Update 4-3: Well, you can scratch two of my prospective players. Augey Bill did not swim and Fernando Castagnini indeed was the casualty among the infielders as both were released. The pair were among eight men out, a group that also included former 2013 SotWs Creede Simpson and my Shorebird of the Year that season Lucas Herbst.

If they want to stay with a lefthander, my guess would be that they add Elias Pinales to the roster – he’s a 22-year-old who briefly made it to Aberdeen last season but mostly pitched in the Gulf Coast League. As for the spare infielder, one intriguing possibility is Logan Uxa, He spent one season in the Cincinnati Reds organization with some success but was released in June of last season by Cincinnati. The first baseman was signed by the Orioles in January.

Creating a class of economic refugees

By Cathy Keim

Remember the thousands of children that mobbed our borders last year? They are not in the news now, but our government has not forgotten them. In fact, in an effort to mitigate the dangers that they face as they travel by train from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala through Mexico to our southern border, our benevolent government implemented a program that began last December called the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program (CAM).

On Tuesday I listened in on a conference call hosted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS). They pointed out that CAM falls under the US Refugee Program, which brings 70,000 refugees into the USA each year. Some 4,000 of those are from Central America. If CAM exceeds the allotment, they will be able to increase the numbers up to 2,000 additional persons without any problem.

The goal of this program is family reunification without the child having to take a dangerous trip. Instead of coming by bus or train, they would now be flown to the USA once the parent’s application is approved.

The entire process is at no cost to the family. That means that the American taxpayer is footing the bill for this program in its entirety.

To start the process, the parent who is in the USA must be at least 18 years old, and be here legally in one of six categories:

  • Permanent Resident Status, or
  • Temporary Protected Status, or
  • Parolee, or
  • Deferred Action
  • Deferred Enforced Departure, or
  • Withholding of Removal

They can start the application at any of the 180 refugee resettlement offices conveniently located around the country. They must put money up front for DNA testing, but they will be reimbursed after the child proves to be their child. (There is one exception to this, as I’ll note later.)

(A personal observation: the DNA testing is probably due to the Somali debacle. They found that thousands of Somali “relatives” were not genetically related at all once they started DNA testing!)

Once the application is ready, then the child will be interviewed in Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador (only these three countries are in the program.) The child must be under 21, unmarried, and residing in one of the three countries listed. The child’s parent may be included if the parent is married to the parent residing in the USA. Additionally, if the unmarried child has a child, that child can also be included in the process. Got that?

You could be paying for the spouse and grandchildren to come to the USA in addition to the child.

Specially trained USCIS agents who will determine whether the child qualifies for refugee status will interview the child. If the child does not qualify as a refugee, then they can be processed as a parolee. However, a parolee can only stay for two years, and then they must leave or reapply for parole status.

The refugee status is much preferred as it confers benefits on the child immediately upon entering the USA, such as airport reception, food allowance, help with enrolling in programs such as health care and school – and they can apply for citizenship in five years.

This program is staggering to the imagination. Most people think of refugees as people driven from their homes by war. This scenario seems to be more along the lines of parents that voluntarily leave their children and possibly their spouse behind so that they can seek economic improvement in the USA. Instead of either returning home once they have the financial means to do so or bringing their family to join them once they can legally do so, these parents are helplessly waiting until the refugee contractor fills out the paperwork. Then in about 9 to 12 months their children will be delivered to them by an airplane that was booked by the government who will hand them over to the grateful parent with financial benefits included.

Once this information was disseminated the conference call was opened up to questions. Most of the attendees were representing state agencies or refugee resettlement organizations. Their recurrent theme was that we need more money to implement this program. Other questions included: will the children be safe in their homeland while they wait the months that are needed to verify the applications, will the children be safe once they arrive in the USA (is the receiving parent’s home checked for possible child molesters, etc.) and can exceptions be made in case the child or spouse does not meet the generous requirements.

The USCIS spokesperson and the Department of State spokesperson were both very encouraging on all fronts. Each child’s situation will be decided on a case-by-case basis. They want to open this application process up to the broadest pool possible.

Remember that DNA testing? One caller was worried about a parent being shocked to find out that the child that they believed to be theirs did not have their DNA. That result probably would be distressing to the cuckolded parent. The spokesperson was unperturbed. This would be handled on a case-by-case basis and things might still work out for the child.

One lady wanted to know about the child interview process. What exactly would be asked and what answers were expected? This seemed to be begging for information to feed to the parents to be sure that the child would pass the interview.

Every person except one seemed to be all on board with the rush to implement and expand this program in any way possible.

One caller did ask about the costs associated with the program. What were the projected costs? How was the money budgeted? The spokesperson was unable to offer any information at all because this was a new program, so they just didn’t know! Under probing, he still declined to say that any projections had been made. The caller then asked if the children would be flown on chartered or commercial flights. No answer to that either.

They expect the process to take 9 to 12 months and they only started it four months ago, so that bridge is still off in the distance.

If you are shocked by this information, then you need to go to Ann Corcoran’s fine Refugee Resettlement Watch blog and get up to speed on refugee issues. The CAM program is upsetting, but wait until you hear what the government is doing with Muslim refugees all across our country.

Splitting the difference

A couple weeks back I alerted you to an issue brought to the fore by Delegate Christopher Adams, a situation which would leave a large number of Medicare patients with long drives to a pharmacy as opposed to perhaps being able to use a more convenient hometown outlet.

While the deadline has come as of today, Adams has introduced and advanced a bill, HB1290, that would halve the distance prescribed by the state. Recall that:

According to a source in the know, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sets the criteria for considering a patient to be “covered” and it depends on their location, stating,”as long as pharmacies are within 10 miles in urban, 20 miles in suburban and 30 miles of patients in rural communities the standards for access to care are met.”

HB1290 would simply cut those distances in half, meaning no one in the state would have to travel more than 15 miles to a covered pharmacy.

Oddly enough, HB1290 is the second-to-last introduced House bill, with the final one (HB1291) also dealing with the subject and introduced by Democratic Delegate Eric Bromwell. His bill would ensure that “an enrollee may elect to receive pharmacy services at a site in the pharmacy provider network of any managed care organization.” Bromwell’s bill was introduced four days after the Adams bill, perhaps as an effort for House Democrats to secure some credit for solving the problem. (Bromwell is on the committee that will deal with both HB1290 and HB1291.)

In a release today, Adams noted that:

This bill originates from a very real problem on the Eastern Shore where pharmaceutical services are not readily available. And under the existing 30 mile rule, it would have made existing pharmaceutical services beyond the reach of many senior citizens. This is just another example of the unintended consequences of the State of Maryland’s early embracement of Obamacare. HB1290 is a reasoned response that will make pharmaceutical services more accessible to senior citizens on the Eastern Shore, as well as save hundreds of pharmacies from going out of business throughout Maryland.

Adams also quotes local pharmacy owner Jeff Sherr:

I am encouraged that small businesses like ours will continue to be able to serve our patients. This bill addresses not only issues with access to care, it is also a protection for businesses that serve our rural Eastern Shore communities and employ our local citizens.

The fact that Adams’s bill got a quick hearing (on tap for tomorrow) is an encouraging sign that the General Assembly may address this problem before it goes home in a couple weeks. While it’s hard for late introduction bills to make it through the process, it has been done before – the gas tax we were saddled with in 2013 was a similar late introduction.

When it comes to services in rural areas, it’s often up to small providers to handle the diminished volume of business that may come from a little community like Snow Hill, Crisfield, or Hurlock. While some may have a larger chain, for the most part they depend on family-owned outlets that may not have the lowest price but are far more convenient.

We’re always told family-owned small businesses are the backbone of the community, so if we can lend them a little support with a common-sense law it should be encouraged. Hopefully Adams will have the legislation to his credit once the session is over.

Are the devoutly religious the new persecuted group?

By Cathy Keim

To those of us old enough to remember 1993 like it was yesterday, all of the hysteria over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) seems a bit overplayed. That was the year that Congress passed the federal RFRA with a unanimous vote in the House and a 97 to 3 majority in the Senate. President Bill Clinton happily signed the bill with not a protest or complaint.

For those of you that were not around then, the bill came about because Native American Indians were having trouble protecting their sacred grounds from intrusions such as roads and also were getting into trouble for using peyote in their religious ceremonies and then testing positive for drugs at their place of employment.

Many groups across a broad spectrum from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Association of Evangelicals united behind this law. And hold on to your hats: then-Congressman Chuck Schumer of New York introduced it into the House!

So, if we have a federal law protecting us from being substantially burdened from our free exercise of religion, then why do 19 states have their own RFRA? In 1997 the Supreme Court ruled that the federal RFRA could not be applied at the state level, so some states enacted their own RFRA to cover issues at the state level. These state laws are essentially the same as the federal law.

How did 19 states pass their RFRA laws without any protest, but suddenly when Arizona passed an amendment to their existing law in 2014 there was such a ruckus that the governor vetoed it? In an action foreshadowing the NCAA threat to remove their basketball tournaments from Indiana, the NFL threatened to move the Super Bowl XLIX from Arizona if the law stood.

The thing that changed in the intervening 22 years was that gay marriage went from not even being on the horizon to an accomplished fact in many states. An example of how incredibly fast this sea change occurred is right here in Maryland. The gay marriage law was defeated in 2011 by a close vote mainly because black lawmakers from Prince George’s County and Baltimore declined to accept the argument that homosexuals were being discriminated against in the same way that blacks had had their civil rights denied.

In February 2012, the bill passed by a narrow margin. In response, petitions were circulated and signatures obtained to place this bill before the voters on the November elections as a referendum for its repeal. This is where it got very interesting. On May 9, 2012, President Obama publicly stated that he was for gay marriage. Once he changed his position, the opposition to gay marriage in the black community decreased markedly and Maryland became the first state to pass gay marriage by a popular vote with 52.4% voting to maintain the state law permitting it.

The change in the last 22 years was one-sided. The conservative Christian voters and the orthodox churches did not change their position. They are still standing squarely on their Christian beliefs as stated in the Bible, which they believe is the infallible Word of God.

The liberal churches and politicians are the ones that shifted. Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic, decided that he favored gay marriage. The Catholic Church did not budge. For the first time in history, sexual orientation has become the most important defining factor in our society.

Christians have been the acceptable group to ridicule; in fact, the only politically correct group that can be ridiculed for some years now. Christians that actually believe the orthodox tenets of their faith are considered to be bigots, rubes, stupid, and pathetic.

Homosexuals are defined only by their sexual orientation. Think about it: it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female, black or white, old or young, beautiful or ugly, intelligent or stupid – the only characteristic that counts is their sexual orientation. No other group wants to be so rigidly defined by only one characteristic.

Once that one characteristic is made known, all other people are to acknowledge that being gay is the best choice, not only for the homosexual, but for everyone. They are not equal; they are more equal.

My preference is that I would know somebody by their many attributes, not just one. I don’t know of heterosexuals that make this the defining factor of their existence. We are all sexual beings to one degree or another, but it is not the highest or most important part of our being.

Since homosexuals insist that this is the most important piece of their identity, they leave the rest of us little room to go our merry way. Despite most people not wanting to engage on the issue, we are forced to declare where we stand.

For orthodox Christians, there can be only one position. The Bible declares in both the Old and the New Testament that homosexuality is wrong. I know that this is hurtful to our friends and relatives that are gay, but the Bible leaves no room to wiggle. Trust me, I do not know any Christians that are gleeful about the difficulty that this truth brings to anyone that is struggling with their sexual identity.

So now we are at the point of the RFRA laws. The gay agenda and the orthodox Christian beliefs are on a collision course that cannot be avoided. Indeed, it would seem that the gay agenda is devised with this end in mind. No other course of action is acceptable except that everyone agree that the homosexual lifestyle is equal to the heterosexual lifestyle.

This is why we are seeing so many religious freedom lawsuits across the land. When orthodox Christians are pushed to choose between their religious beliefs and the law of the land, they will choose their religious beliefs, even if it means losing their business as several have.

These cases are not as simple as have been reported in the media. For instance, the florist in Washington state, sold flowers to the gay man on a regular basis, ostensibly a nonreligious transaction. What she refused to do was to use her God-given artistic talents to create special floral arrangements for his marriage to another man, which her conscience could not allow.

The wedding photographer in New Mexico refused to use her God-given artistic talents to create photos for a gay wedding that would have required her to be an integral part of the ceremony. These people were unable to violate their conscience by participating in a ceremony that their religious convictions and all of history said was wrong.

So, whose beliefs are more important: the gay couple that wants to force people to participate in their wedding – a religious event – or the people that respectfully decline and refer the gay couple to another business?

How it is answered will determine whether our country is still a land of religious freedom as outlined in our First Amendment.

In Indiana there is an overwhelming flood of coercion from many companies that say they will not do business in Indiana if the governor does not veto the law. This is another case where the conservative politicians need to stand their ground. Once they have chosen their position based on their principles, then they should stand no matter the pressure that is exerted.

The presidential candidates had better be looking at this issue and deciding where their principles lead them because this question will be tossed at them. In fact, it would be helpful if they would intervene now and let everyone know where they stand. Rather than cowering before the media, let the conservative politicians play offense and stand for their principles and support Governor Pence.

RFRA: what’s the big deal?

Much has been made about the state of Indiana passing its version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, making it the 19th state to have such protection. According to this Washington Post blog post by Juliet Eilperin, Indiana already had an RFRA-style mandate from the courts, but took the additional step of codifying it into statute. Indiana Governor Mike Pence took to the Wall Street Journal to explain that:

As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it. Indiana’s new law contains no reference to sexual orientation. It simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993.

It’s worth pointing out that Illinois has a similar law, one passed with the support of some obscure state senator named Barack Obama.

But what I would like to know is why it’s been cast as a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians. This narrative is an extension of various cases where devoutly religious business owners have been sued by same-sex couples who wished to use their services but were refused on account of the business owner’s religious views. To me, common sense and courtesy would dictate that the couple simply take their business elsewhere, but in these cases the aggrieved parties tried to make examples of the business owners (and generally succeeded in wiping them out of business.)

Ask yourself: would the same result have occurred had a homosexual male refused to print something a devout Christian sought related to Romans 1:27, which in the KJV Bible reads, “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” It’s unlikely such a request would even be made, but somehow I think the results in this case would be in favor of the business owner.

We could also create a number of parallel examples which ignore sexual orientation, though. Eilperin quotes extensively University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, who makes the case that:

“These state RFRAs were enacted in response to Supreme Court decisions that had nothing to do with gay rights or same-sex marriage,” explained University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock in an e-mail. “And the state court decisions interpreting their state constitutions arose in all sorts of contexts, mostly far removed from  gay rights or same-sex marriage. There were cases about Amish buggies, hunting moose for native Alaskan funeral rituals, an attempt to take a church building by eminent domain, landmark laws that prohibited churches from modifying their buildings – all sorts of diverse conflicts between religious practice and pervasive regulation.”

Seems to me this only developed a sexual orientation angle because there’s an agenda to “normalize” homosexual relationships, expressed best in the ongoing to equate same-sex “marriage” (which I consider a civil union) with the real thing, between a man and a woman. Of course, the state of Maryland recognizes these same-sex unions so in the eyes of the law of this state they are equal.

So I hear all these threats to boycott or punish the state of Indiana, and the threats seem to be working as some want to “clarify” the law. Does that mean that one group will be given special protection? I thought the idea was equality under the law, but we see what the real goal is.

One truth of modern life is that discrimination exists, generally on a small scale: I may discriminate against McDonalds in favor of Burger King because I don’t like the service I receive at the golden arches or think I don’t get value for the money. In its most basic terms I discriminate every day, making my choices based on a number of factors, so I suppose if the aforementioned McDonalds had a gay manager I might be in trouble.

But John McCormick of the Weekly Standard makes a good point:

Indiana’s RFRA does not grant a license to discriminate. First of all, the state of Indiana, like 28 other states, has never prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation at public accommodations. Even without such laws in most states, discrimination doesn’t commonly occur because the United States is a nation that is tolerant of gay people and intolerant of bigots. Mean-spirited actions by a business owner anywhere in the country would almost certainly be met with a major backlash. (Emphasis mine.)

The fact is 99.9% of businesses don’t give a rat’s rear end about gay, straight, white, black, male, female as long as the money is legal tender and the checks don’t bounce. RFRA simply dictates the terms when the exceptions prove the rule.

Informally making it formal?

When you stop laughing, hear me out.

It’s only been two months since he left office, but I think we can all agree our somewhat esteemed former governor is all but an official announcement away from throwing his hat into the 2016 Presidential ring. And when you consider that Hillary Clinton is continually being tarred by scandal after scandal (Benghazi and her e-mail questions) and blunder after blunder (the Russian “reset” button and discussing the “fun deficit”), Martin O’Malley almost looks sane. Come on, what else do you have on the Democratic side – the gaffe-prone Joe Biden? “Fauxcahonotas” Elizabeth Warren? One-term Senator Jim Webb of Virginia is the one who has the exploratory committee going, but the far left considers him a “Reagan Democrat” who they can’t support.

So when you see the above photo on the O’Malley Facebook page (which is where I got it) you have to ask if the “taking on powerful and wealthy special interests” message is meant for Hillary? After all, look how much the Clintons’ foundation has raked in over the years. And his message today about the presidency “not (being) some crown to be passed between two families,” would resonate with a lot of people who believed the propaganda about how disastrous the George W. Bush tenure was and are already tired of the constant turmoil surrounding the Clinton family.

Perhaps Delegate Herb McMillan put this best, noting, “Raising taxes on the poor and middle classes 83 times isn’t the same as taking on powerful wealthy special interests.” But it’s more than that.

Obviously the laughter among many who read this website comes from knowing how rapidly O’Malley would genuflect to particular special interests when it suited his purposes. Environmentalists got a lot of goodies during MOM’s reign: California rules on emissions, punitive restrictions on development in rural areas (via the “tier maps”), an ill-advised and job-killing moratorium on fracking, and of course the “rain tax.” Illegal immigrants, too, had a friend in O’Malley, but productive taxpayers – not so much. He also decided to work on legalizing gay marriage only after his electoral coast was clear in the state – if he had tried to run for re-election on the issue he would have lost the black vote in 2010. (Remember, that was before Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.)

Say what you will about Martin O’Malley, but he is the lone Democrat openly considering the race who has executive experience – on the other hand, there are a number of GOP candidates who can boast the same thing: in alphabetical order there’s Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker. Depending on who the GOP puts up, the “experience” tag could apply to the Democrat. We’re not saying the experience would be a good one, but it is what it is.

Don’t be too shocked if the O’Malley’s March national tour makes a lot of stops in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s his way of pandering to the special interests he cherishes the most, and if people are fooled by this sudden bout of populism it’s their own fault. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Update: At Front Line State Jim Jamitis echoes these sentiments, with a great headline to boot.

monoblogue music: “A Haze Of Grays And Blue” by Heather Powell

March 28, 2015 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off 

If you recall last week’s review, I mentioned Heather Powell did a remake of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax for “Fully Re-Covered.” It’s not featured on this set of ten original tunes, but her version of the ’80s hit would fit well into her newest album, which came out last month.

If you are looking for a performer who squarely inhabits the adult contemporary mode, you needn’t go much farther than Heather Powell. Her most recent release reflects well on her background as a theater major at the College of William and Mary. While that’s nothing particularly unusual, the fact she also was in ROTC and served overseas in the Army’s Medical Services Corp before becoming the commander of their inaugural theater company makes her more unique than most. (Thus, in the military her theater WAS the theater.)

Simply put, she’s at home on the stage, as this video of Awaken shows.

“Haze” is Heather’s second album, following a 2012 release “Believe It To Life.” Now as part of the True Groove family, she’s the beneficiary of their instrumental and production talent – so how did it translate on this effort?

From the opening notes of the upbeat first track, Unexpected, she sets an expectation that this will be an album with a touch of the romantic. In particular, Unexpected is a song which could cross over into a more mainstream rock format thanks to a nice bit of guitar work. While it’s only a 3 1/2 minute song, it seems quite a bit longer – in this case, that is a good thing. Wishing is another song which could be considered among the most radio-friendly.

As I noted above, having a stable of studio artists (and being in the New York market in general) means that almost any musical element is at a performer’s beck and call. True Groove uses several of these talents, and in the case of Heather’s album it’s nice to have the background vocals of Kevin Jenkins available for the wistful ballad Remember The Love, the horn section employed on Awaken, or the string section on the last song See Me.

However, I found the string section a little too cloying on Falling, which weakens the song somewhat. It also sounded to me that Heather’s vocals were just a little below par on Black And White Thinking, as it seemed to me she strained to reach the high notes.  Along with a somewhat forgettable song called Blue Light, they are the weakest efforts on the ten-song compilation. These aren’t bad, but they could be better.

Toward the end of the CD are two better songs: Distance, which lends a touch of jazz and has a nice slow fade, and the reminiscent Unstoppable, where Heather thinks back to her youth and wonders, “when did I lose my spark?” It’s a little strange because she doesn’t seem old, and certainly has the resume to make one believe she’s a ball of energy.

“A Haze Of Grays And Blue” exudes the type of vibe one would expect to feel on a romantic evening with a glass of wine and willing partner. Maybe it’s because that, for some reason, I could easily imagine Heather playing at our Autumn Wine Festival – I suppose that’s because it’s the type of music I could envision that crowd getting into.

While it’s by no means a perfect album, the nice thing about it is that you can listen for yourself and be the judge.

The noisy, tiny minority wins again

March 27, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

It’s concession time in Annapolis: for another year, the will of Wicomico County voters will be thwarted by a group refusing to accept that the answer to the elected school board question should be decided by the voters, not a small group who’s worried that their power base may be threatened.

Today I received a press release from my Delegate, Carl Anderton, admitting the bill is defeated for the session. In it, Anderton noted that:

This delay affords us the opportunity to have an inclusive year-long dialogue about the issue. It will give everyone more time to weigh in and reassure anyone with concerns that next year’s bill is reflective of community input.

Yet if the “dialogue” is in the tone and tenor of the testimony offered by Jim Ireton, there’s no use in conducting the discussion. In fact, he said at the hearing, “I think the discussion should end now.” After all, according to Jim, an elected school board would “debilitate our public schools.”

And if there are public hearing with a number of proponents speaking, I’m sure Ireton would echo his charge about a “sparsely attended public hearing” attended by only proponents. It’s the “small band of supporters” who also gerrymandered the county, placed us under a “crippling revenue cap” and “refuses to be responsible.” These are all quotes from his testimony before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. (He comes on at the 4:00 mark.)

Here is the dirty little secret Carl will eventually learn – there is no amount of dialogue which will satisfy them. For whatever reason, the appointed status quo satisfies their desire to have a malleable board that has generally been selected with the approval of the teachers’ union. Since the Democrats have occupied the governor’s office for much of the last forty years, the appointments were made with that interest group in mind. The only accountability was to the sponsors who backed them, and as long as a couple of those “yes-men” were from a minority group, all was peachy keen in their world.

To them, an elected school board is scary because accountability may be introduced. Again, consider what Ireton thought about the voters of the county which chose to install a revenue cap and would prefer an elected school board.

They are scared. But we’ll give them the public hearings, and for that I better damn well see Jim Mathias as a co-sponsor. I honestly think his not sponsoring the bill is what prevented it from going forward.

As the old Brooklyn Dodgers fans used to say, “wait ’til next year.” No more excuses.

Ted Cruz: a palette of bold colors

By Cathy Keim

I finally had the time today to watch the entire Ted Cruz speech at Liberty University on March 23, 2015, where he announced that he is running for president. It seems certain that he has locked up the conservative right position. I don’t see that he left room for anybody to get past him, nor am I sure that there is anybody who would try. He is going to run a campaign that many conservatives have been calling for: A conservative running unapologetically as a conservative.

His campaign, if he continues on this course – and I see no reason he would budge since he has been saying the same thing since he arrived in Washington – will put to the test the notion that a true conservative can win the presidency. John McCain and Mitt Romney never even tried to run as all out conservatives.

Sarah Palin was the closest to an all out conservative in those two cycles and she was hampered by being the vice presidential candidate, so she had to march to John McCain’s orders. Many folks believe that he would have lost by an even greater margin if he had not had her on the ticket.

Since Mitt Romney chose a moderate GOP insider, Paul Ryan, as his vice president and got even fewer votes than John McCain, there may be reason to believe that theory.

We can expect that all the dirt that was thrown at Sarah Palin will be turned onto Ted Cruz. One twist is that the liberal media and politicians will not be able to use his alma mater since Ted Cruz has the credentials from Princeton and Harvard Law to stand up to any of the jabs. He also has the debating skills and the spine to resist the onslaught.

He will have the same fight that Palin has had that is even worse than being attacked by the opposing party – the GOP will viciously savage him. The mainstream GOP has already shown their disdain for Senator Cruz as they have not backed him in any of his efforts to fight for the Constitution, against Obamacare, and against executive overreach.

In an article for the Boston Herald, Jennifer C. Braceras points out that Ted Cruz is the mirror image of Obama, standing for exactly opposite positions, but with eerily similar backgrounds. She even addresses the birther problem:

Indeed, similarities extend even to bizarre “birther” claims that neither men are “natural born citizens” qualified to be president.

Cruz — whose father fled Castro’s Cuba — was born in Canada. Obama was born in Hawaii, although some on the right question whether he was actually born in Kenya (his father’s birthplace). The question of birthplace is, of course, irrelevant — both men were born to American mothers, thereby granting them U.S. citizenship at birth and making them “natural born citizens” for purposes of the Constitution.

While she does not see the birther issue as a problem, she does postulate that the electorate will not stand for another brilliant Harvard law grad after eight years of our current one.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Ted Cruz. I supported his 2012 run for Senate because I remember him from law school as a brilliant, intellectually curious, and hard-working conservative whose political views closely tracked my own.

So somebody who says they like his views and finds him brilliant concludes by saying that he doesn’t have a chance because of the Harvard arrogance tag. With friends like this, you don’t need enemies.

The mirror image comparison to President Obama is interesting, but fails to address a key difference. President Obama does not like America and Senator Ted Cruz does. What a sea change that simple distinction makes.

Furthermore, I have observed that people of principle who work hard in their field of endeavor because of their firmly held principles, are frequently savaged by their peers because they recognize that this individual is different than they are. The principled approach to life encourages accusations of arrogance because of the assurance with which principled people conduct their lives. Once their mind is made up on the course of action, they will pursue their goal even if it is not popular. This can seem like arrogance to people who cannot understand what they are seeing since they run their lives not on principle, but on public approbation.

Jeb Bush is gearing up for a run and he has already made clear that he will not be courting the conservative branch of the GOP. He is for amnesty, Common Core, and his energy policies are wrong. The biggest hurdle may be the burden of bearing the Bush name. Many citizens are not interested in a family dynasty ruling over them.

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, has been making a lot of news with the possibility of running. He has been an effective governor in a blue state and has taken on the unions and won. He is certainly a candidate to watch. As a counterpoint to Ted Cruz’s Ivy League background, Walker attended Marquette University, but never graduated. Some people will see that as a negative, but just as many may see it as a plus after observing what so many Ivy League alumni serving as politicians, media people, and government leaders have done to our country.

Ben Carson is contemplating a run, but after the gay mafia firestorm he caused by offering an opinion on whether one is born gay, many wrote him off.

There are many others considering a run. Time will tell how many actually jump in the ring.

It would behoove the conservatives to make their decision as quickly as possible, throw their weight behind one candidate, and once the decision is made to stand firm. The onslaught from both the Democrats and the GOP insiders will be brutal. Nothing is to be gained by attacking the conservative candidate for every perceived misstep. Instead, once the choice is made, the conservatives need to close ranks and fight hard for the battle will be vicious. Every conservative candidate will be questioned over and over about gay and transgender issues, abortion, evolution, climate change, and religious freedom. They need to have their principles inform their position and then stand. Do not walk anything back once they say it and the conservative base needs to have their back.

This can all be done with a smile. It may be war, but engage in the battle with a smile because we are in to win. Our determination is based on the premise that we believe in what we are fighting for: no less than the soul of America.

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