Post-election thoughts

So it seemed pretty brutal for the Republicans Tuesday night as they lost the two governor’s races that were available to them, including the one Chris Christie was vacating in New Jersey. There, incoming Governor-elect Philip Murphy gained a modest total of three seats in his 120-seat legislature, although it was already tilted heavily toward his party anyway. Going from 54-26 and 24-16 to 56-24 and 25-15 probably isn’t going to make a lot of difference in the scheme of things there as much as the change at the top.

On the other hand, the party at the top won’t change in Virginia as Democrat Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will succeed his “boss” over the last four years, fellow Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe. The big sensation there was the Democrats’ pickup of 16 seats in their House of Delegates to suddenly turn an overwhelming 66-34 disadvantage to a 50-50 tie. The Virginia results have been trumpeted (pun intended) around the country as a repudiation of the President and the Republicans by a gleeful partisan media.

But if you take a look at the lay of the land, the results are less surprising than you may think. Consider, first of all, the geography of these 16 districts. Ten of these districts lie close to the Washington region, bordering the sea of blue on this map – so they read the WaPo, never liked Donald Trump to begin with, and for them it was open season on Republicans beginning November 9, 2016. Three of the other ones are in the suburbs of Richmond, two are within the Tidewater region, and one seeming outlier is along the West Virginia border. Yet that district along the border of one of Trump’s strongest states wasn’t the lone district of the sixteen that flipped which supported Trump in 2016 – that distinction went to the 85th District in Virginia Beach.

To become Republican districts in the first place, they obviously had to elect Republicans at the legislative level two years ago (when the GOP actually lost one seat to go from 67-33 to 66-34.) But a year before that 10 of the 16 supported Ed Gillespie in his run for the U.S. Senate against Mark Warner (the six that did not were all in northern Virginia.) Similarly, the districts split evenly between supporting Republican Ken Cuccinelli and McAuliffe in 2013, with the northern Virginia districts that threw out the Republicans this time around mostly favoring McAuliffe.

The election results of the last two years are beginning to prove that Virginia is becoming another, slightly larger Maryland – wide swaths of rural Republicans who get killed at the ballot box by government-addled junkies in cities which depend too much on it. Setting aside the vast number of Virginians that call the Potomac Valley home, it’s worth remembering that the Tidewater area is the largest concentration of cities but Richmond is also a significant urban area, too, and it’s the state capital.

So let’s shift our focus onto Maryland. There were two Republican mayors the state party was dearly hoping would win on Tuesday, but instead both were shellacked pretty handily. Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides couldn’t recreate his 59-vote escape act of 2013 nor could Randy McClement win a third term in Frederick – and neither could even sniff 40% of the vote. But then neither municipality is Republican-friendly territory as both their city councils are dominated by Democrats, so the success of both men was something of an outlier.

The knee-jerk reactions have been predictable. Establishment Republicans blame the unpopular Donald Trump for dragging down these candidates while the devout Trump backers say it’s the fault of a Congress that’s not enacting Trump’s agenda quickly enough. But you didn’t come here for knee-jerk reaction, do you?

Again, let’s look at where most of these voters in question reside. The Virginia voters who tossed out Republicans are by and large suburban voters. The Maryland voters who threw out these two mayors are in Annapolis and Frederick, which are suburban settings. (I would argue Annapolis has more in common with a suburb than a city, despite the fact it’s our state capital, because of its proximity to Baltimore and Washington.)

Above all, suburban people are conformist and they are the targets of the dominant media and the educational system – neither of which has been glowing in their praise for Donald Trump or any of his policies. Given that information and candidates who can make and break promises just like Republicans have done (except theirs for “free stuff” sound better) you get what we had Tuesday night.

So let me hit you with a platform from a suburban candidate and see how you like it. I slightly edited it to remove identifying information for the moment.

Simply put, these address issues that hold our city back. They all are also interconnected to the success not only of our city, but of our citizen. Why do I say that? Because we too often measure success by the health of the city’s checkbook. I believe we best measure the health of the city by the health of our fellow citizens checkbook. (Among other factors.)

LOWER TAXES: We are tied with only a few surrounding cities for the highest income tax rate. If the additional .25% rate passes, we will have the highest income tax rate in the area. This is among the highest concerns of people looking to move to a new area. It also is a strong factor in businesses looking for a new location. Simply put in order to grow at a rate needed to provide for the future, we CANNOT continue sabotaging our development efforts by being an expensive place to live or to work.

SAFE, AFFORDABLE WATER: Everyone I talked to on my campaign expressed great concern over water rates. Water is the life blood of a community. Same as above, how can we be a draw to new families and businesses when our water rates cripple the budgets of those we wish to welcome to (our city.) I will call for Performance Audits of (the local water suppliers) on my first council meeting if elected. We also must push for multiple sources of water, with a regional approach. We can not let one community hold others hostage for water.

PRIORITIZE SPENDING: Priority based budgeting is what every family and every business implements. Most government agencies do not. Lets bring in the experts at Priority Based Budgeting. Let’s stop playing the game of putting vital services such as police, fire and roads on the ballot. Those departments should be the first funded from the General Fund. This also applies to projects. Roundabouts are a luxury unless at a new intersection. Fix our roads FIRST! This also applies to developing proper maintenance plans and funding them first. It is always cheaper to care for equipment, buildings and roads than to let them fall into disrepair.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: We cannot do this alone. If we try to succeed as (our city) alone, we will fail. The (regional) area is rich in so many key economic development factors: location, skilled labor, research, transportation resources and good, strong families. We hold ourselves back by other factors though. High taxes. Regulations. Expensive water. We also need to broaden our reach to different industries. We need to recognize we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket. (Our city) lived and died with (a defunct local business) many years ago. It took some effort to start to recover from the losses of our largest employer. Now we have a very heavy concentration on retail. While all growth is good, we are sliding back towards putting all our eggs in one basket again – except this time it is a retail basket which is far more subject to economic recessions. Our labor force is incredibly diverse. We need good paying jobs that provide a career to match.

I believe we can all work together on these four points. We can turn from trying to tax our way to prosperity and instead focus on growing our way to not only a prosperous (city), but prosperous families!

Now, let me ask you – is that a scary platform? Maybe to those who are invested in government as the solution, but the key here is the recognition of the role of government. And it was good enough to win. It’s the platform of an old friend of mine, Bob Densic, who this time won a seat on the Rossford (Ohio) City Council (his third try.) Bob and I are political soulmates, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he likes trying to put his ideas into practice.

Perhaps a key to Bob’s success is the fact that his city has non-partisan municipal elections. In a year like this one, I would submit to you that the issue was with the Republican brand and not the philosophy. Because the Democrats and media (but I repeat myself) have so successfully tied Donald Trump with the mainstream Republican Party (despite the fact Trump claimed to have identified more as a Democrat as recently as a decade ago) and have worked their hardest to drive his popularity down with negative coverage, the results from Tuesday are what you would expect. Democrats were motivated to come out, the people who believed the media hype about Trump being so bad were motivated to come out, and Republicans were discouraged.

So it may get worse for Republicans before it gets better. But my advice to the GOP, not that I expect them to take it: forget trying to work with Democrats and put up a conservative gameplan. No pale pastels for us.

Odds and ends number 84

After resurrecting one long-dormant series over the weekend, today we make it two. It hasn’t quite been a year since I did an ‘odds and ends” and there’s not a year’s worth of stuff, but the creative juices are flowing anyway.

Let’s begin with some good news from our national pastime. If you recall, back in July the Shorebirds made headlines for playing the longest game in their 21-season history, spreading out the drama against the Lexington Legends over two days thanks to a storm that broke over the stadium after 20 innings were in the books. It took just one inning the next evening to settle Delmarva’s 7-6 defeat, but the contest was the Fans’ Choice for a MiLBY Award. It had (ironically enough) 21% of the vote among 10 contenders. (Alas, the actual MiLBY went to some other game.)

The other sad part about that story, besides the folks at the Minor League Baseball site misidentifying us as Frederick: it turned out that one inning of baseball would be all that was played that evening as another heavy storm blew through just at scheduled game time. (I remember it well because I was at work.)

The Shorebirds were also a MiLBY bridesmaid in the blooper department with their September “goose delay.

And while Astros-Dodgers didn’t have the same cachet as the Cubs finally breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat last season, the 28 million viewers of Game 7 completed a World Series where it again kicked the NFL’s ass (as it should, since football season doesn’t start until the World Series is over anyway.) And with the erosion of the NFL’s appeal thanks to the anthem protests and – frankly – rather boring games where fundamentals are ignored, the window of NFL dominance may be closing.

Speaking of things that are dominant, a few weeks back I detailed the effort to bring the sanity of right-to-work to Sussex County, Delaware. An update from the Daily Signal detailed some of Big Labor’s reaction when it came up again. And again I respond – having the choice to join the union is better than not having the job at all.

Delaware was also the subject of one of a series of pieces that ran over the summer and fall from my friends at Energy Tomorrow. They cleverly chose a theme for each of the 50 states and the First State’s July piece was on “the beach life in Delaware.” Now what I found most interesting was just how little energy they produce compared to how much they consume, given they have no coal mines and little prospect of fracking or offshore drilling. And I was surprised how little tourism contributes to their state economy given the beach traffic in the summer.

Maryland’s, which came out last month, is quite different, as it has a companion piece about prosthetics. It obviously made sense with Johns Hopkins in the state, but what struck me was the quote included from Governor Larry Hogan. He’s the guy who betrayed the energy industry by needlessly banning fracking in the state. Unfortunately, Larry seems to suffer from the perception that energy companies are solely interested in profit when the industry knows they have to be good neighbors and environmentally responsible, too.

That’s quite all right: he doesn’t need those 22,729 votes in Allegany and Garrett counties when he can have a million liberals around the state say, “oh, Hogan banned fracking” and vote for Ben Jealous or Rushern Baker anyway.

Regularly I receive updates from the good folks at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, which tends to look at state politics in a conservative manner. But I can’t say this particular case is totally conservative or for limited government:

If Maryland lawmakers want to get serious about combating climate change and reducing pollution, they can simply tax the emission of carbon and other pollutants, thereby encouraging lower emissions and greater efficiency. No one likes a new tax, but it is a much cheaper and more effective way to cut pollution and fight climate change than a byzantine policy like the renewables mandate. Besides, revenue from a carbon tax could be used to reduce other taxes and fund other environmental initiatives. Problem is, though a carbon tax would be good for the environment and human health, it wouldn’t funnel money to politicians’ friends in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street.

Maryland’s renewables standard isn’t about the environment and human health; it’s about money.

The last two sentences are the absolute truth, but the remainder of the excerpt is a case of “be careful what you wish for.” If the state indeed enacted a carbon tax, businesses and residents would waste no time fleeing the state for greener (pun intended) pastures. You can bet your bottom dollar that a carbon tax would be enacted on top of, not in place of, all the other taxes and fees we have.

Now it’s time for a pop quiz. Can you guess who said this?

Soon, our states will be redrawing their Congressional and state legislative district lines. It’s called redistricting, and it will take place in 2021, after the next Census takes place. That may seem far off, but the time to get started on this issue is now.

This is our best chance to eliminate the partisan gerrymandering that has blocked progress on so many of the issues we all care about. Simply put, redistricting has the potential to be a major turning point for our democracy. But we need to be prepared.

Maybe if I give you the next line you’ll have the answer.

That’s where the National Democratic Redistricting Committee comes in. Led by Eric Holder, my former Attorney General, they’re the strategic hub for Democratic activity leading up to redistricting. In partnership with groups like OFA, the NDRC is building the infrastructure Democrats need to ensure a fair outcome.

Our former President is now involved in this fight for a “fair” outcome – “fair” being defined as gerrymandered like Maryland is, I suppose.

To be honest, we won’t ever have truly fair districts until the concept of “majority-minority” districts is eliminated and districts are drawn by a computer program that strictly pays attention to population and boundaries such as county, city, or township lines or even major highways. With the GIS mapping we have now it’s possible to peg population exactly by address.

And if you figure that most people with common interests tend to gather together anyway – particularly in an economic sense – simply paying attention to geography and creating “compact and contiguous” districts should ensure fair representation. To me it’s just as wrong to have an Ohio Ninth Congressional District (where I used to live) that runs like a shoestring along the southern shore of Lake Erie and was created so as to put incumbent Democratic Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur in the same district – Kaptur won that primary – as it is to have a Maryland Third Congressional District that looks like a pterodactyl. When I was growing up, the Ninth basically covered the city of Toledo and its suburbs where we then lived but as the city lost population they had to take territory from the Fifth District that surrounded it at the time. After the 1980 census they decided to follow us and take the eastern half of Fulton County, west of Toledo – much to my chagrin, since my first election was the one Kaptur beat a one-term Republican. (She’s been there that long.) Since then, the Ninth has been pulled dramatically eastward along the lakeshore to the outskirts of Cleveland, connected at one point by a bridge.

Finally, I guess I can go to what one might call the “light-hearted stack of stuff.” Again from MPPI, when it came to the Washington Metro and how to pay for it, this was a tax proposal I could really get behind. I’m just shocked that it would make $200 million a year.

On that scary note we’ll see how long it takes before I get to the next rendition of odds and ends.

Tax cuts and jobs?

November 5, 2017 · Posted in Business and industry, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Tax cuts and jobs? 

Since I said this yesterday:

I guess I better use the space for something besides music reviews, analysis of baseball trades, and other non-political items.

As many of you who know my site probably also know, the House put forth its initial proposal for what is being called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (President Trump would have preferred the Cuts Cuts Cuts Act himself, though.) So most of the argument and commentary seems to be on whether this does enough for individual taxpayers – naturally, Democrats revert to their age-old “tax cuts for the rich” saw while some Republicans fret about losing particular deductions.

But I want to address two things in this post. First, I want to try and step into the shoes of a small business owner because part of the bill title is “that three-letter word, J-O-B-S” (with apologies to Joe Biden) and they are the ones who create most of them – including the ones I have now.

I’m not going to get into actual dollars and cents here because this is more of a philosophical argument. Each year business owners hand a share of their revenues off to various branches of government for a host of reasons, but the one item that perhaps draws the most blood, sweat, and tears is that federal tax return they (or, more likely, their accountants) fill out each year. Thus, the idea of both lowering rates and making things simpler works positively in two ways: a little more money to invest in the business for new hires, capital improvements, or expansion (people in my line of work perk up their ears at the latter) and a little more time to enjoy life or improve the business plan. They may not need to give that accountant quite so much, but, alas, there are winners and losers in life. (However, the day we find out H&R Block is lobbying against a tax reform proposal is the day we’ll know we have the right formula.)

The common perception from the Left is that every business owner is a fat cat member of the 1% who pays his employees less than minimum wage, skimps on benefits, and hoards his profits to spend on his fancy car and yacht – Ebenezer Scrooge personified. I don’t know about you but I haven’t met one like that yet, although I will note my previous employer went out and got a BMW i8 complete with vanity plate (and installed the charger in our parking lot) thanks to a series of very successful businesses. But that came after years of long days and lots of hard work, so I wasn’t going to complain because he had aptitude, drive, and a range of talents I didn’t.

By the same token, it’s not unknown for my current employer to be at the office or meeting clients late into the evenings or on the weekends – I know because I used to work in there at those times myself (on top of my full-time job) in order to seize the opportunity I was presented to get back into his firm. Ambitious people laugh at a 40-hour work week, and the overriding question that is being answered to an extent by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is whether they should be rewarded for those efforts or forced to hand over the excess to government to redistribute to the less ambitious.

After all, hopefully there comes a point in the life of a business where the boss can’t do it all himself (or herself.) Adding people, though, brings a whole new world of complexity to the tasks so the rewards should be maximized and risks minimized in order to encourage even more hiring when business dictates. If the government takes a pinch less maybe the additional economic activity will make up for it in time.

This brings me to my second point: whose money is it anyway?

Consider the average dollar, which is representative of an intrinsic value. There’s an old joke where someone leaves a $100 bill on a hotel counter while he inspects a room and it quickly makes the rounds paying off various debts up and down the street before the customer decides the room isn’t satisfactory and takes back the Benjamin, which seconds before had paid off the last debt owed to the hotel clerk. Everyone had a value assigned to the cash although the overall transaction was a wash.

When a worker makes a dollar, it’s a tradeoff: even at minimum wage, it’s about eight minutes of his labor in return for a dollar’s wage. In a successful business, the employee performed more in the way of value to the company than the pay but the rate of pay was still acceptable to the employee. (On top of that you have benefits, but for the purpose of this argument I’ll concentrate on pay.) My full time employer bills me out at a rate that is supposed to cover the wage, benefits, and overhead so in return I have work to do. My writing employer gives me an assignment on Thursday night and expects a turnover for the following morning. As long as this is done profitably for both parties, everything is cool – the problems occur when labor costs begin to outweigh value added. (For an example, consider why you are faced with a kiosk instead of a live person in some fast food restaurants – human order takers didn’t add a lot of value if they were inaccurate, grouchy, not feeling well, or disorganized, especially at the $15 an hour for which they were pining.)

Now think about a dollar spent in taxes, where the tradeoff is completely different. There are a number of vital services these taxes pay for, especially at a local level where the business receives its public safety protection, maintenance for the roads, portions of the utility infrastructure, and various other items which vary based on the jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the higher up the taxation food chain you go, the more likely you’ll find these tax dollars aren’t creating value. Oftentimes these entities will act as a pass-through, returning tax dollars to the state or local jurisdiction after keeping a cut for themselves and necessitating the employment of a grant writer on a local level. It’s making a pencil-pusher rich, but that’s not really adding to society like a guy out working on an oil rig, writing computer code, or burning the midnight oil trying to figure out how to please her engineering client. Even worse, that dollar may be paying the bureaucrat who’s writing the rule that will do the business in at the behest of a lobbyist bought and paid for by some special interest.

By keeping dollars in the more productive and efficient private sector, not only does lowering taxes help increase GDP but it also provides the incentive for people to work harder. I’ve often cited Atlas Shrugged as one of my favorite books, not because it’s a feelgood story but because I see it as an absolute indicator of where our nation could be headed under the government we’ve put in place. If working harder has no reward, then why do it?

We have a long way to go before we see tax reform, if it even comes about at all because Republicans in Congress aren’t completely sold on the package. (I thought the GOP was supposed to be the party that supported lower taxes – didn’t you?) But the argument shouldn’t be who wins and loses financially – it should be about whether we believe it’s our money we’re getting for our labor or if we feel we just get to use that which is benevolently granted to us by government.

Weekend of local rock volume 71

November 4, 2017 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 2 Comments 

To tell you how long I have been out of circulation regarding the local music scene, consider this is my first WLR post in over a year. Sometimes things in life change, and honestly I haven’t been in the same frame of mind in the last few years as I was when I built up a lot of this series.

But Kim and I had an invite we decided to take and as it developed I decided a post was in order. The band in question was a band I’ve seen 3/4 of on several different occasions, the most recent at the last (to date, anyway) Concert for a Random Soldier held in 2016. (That event wasn’t held in 2017 due to a venue issue – otherwise I would have done a WLR sooner.)

So here we were, traveling an hour to hang with a batch of Kim’s co-workers and friends at this nice place.

I’ll add more commentary about the venue at the end, but let me first introduce you to a band you probably already know if you’re from the area, Nothin’ But Trouble.

There are many, many hundreds of bands around the country who toil on a nightly basis playing other peoples’ songs. But the ones who stick out in your mind are the ones that play things you may not hear every day and play them well – or, they play a song you don’t know too much about and make it entertaining. The point where I decided to make this a post was the latter.

In the seldom-played depths of my CD collection is the second release from BulletBoys, called “Freakshow.” (That was the follow-up to the self-titled debut with Smooth Up In Ya.) On it is a song called Talk To Your Daughter which, as I rapidly figured out from the fact these guys were playing it, wasn’t written by them. (It was written in the 1950s by blues guitarist J.B. Lenoir.) There are literally thousands of songs out there like this a band could adopt as their own, and NBT took a few for themselves. Hey, if George Thorogood can do it…actually, there was someone there last night with a GT shirt on.

Then when they sang one of my favorite opening lyric lines in rock: “I pulled into Nazareth/I was feelin’ ’bout a half past dead” (a song from The Band called The Weight) I figured this would be an enjoyable evening. A late dinner turned into most of their three-hour scheduled gig with no break and songs like Crossroads (with a slow-tempo open), Folsom Prison Blues interlaced with Man Of Constant Sorrow, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Pride And Joy, and so forth. No doubt: these weren’t paint-by-numbers renditions.

So count me in as a fan. And Kim said afterward “I wondered if you would like that type of music.” Well, since rock and metal are predominantly blues-based, of course I would. They’ve been stealing the chords and progressions for a half-century or more.

I don’t know if this belongs to the venue or the band, but the sound was well-done. It was audible but you could talk at your table without screaming, and we were basically 40 feet from the stage. They had a series of ceiling-mounted acoustic dampeners which helped because the place is pretty much hard-surfaced otherwise.

The other selling point to Bethany Blues?

As I pointed out on social media, any place that has 16 Mile Blues Golden Ale on tap is a winner in my book. The food was good, too.

So who knows? Maybe I won’t go a year until my next installment – although, in the interest of full disclosure, my recent phone issues negated a planned post on bands at the Good Beer Festival last month.

DLGWGTW: October 31, 2017

n the spirit of “don’t let good writing go to waste,” this is a roundup of some of my recent social media comments. I’m one of those people who likes to take my free education to a number of left-leaning social media sites, so my readers may not see this. 

Tonight it’s a special Tuesday night edition to cover for my dereliction over the last month. Most of this will come from a long back-and-forth I had with potential Democratic nominee from the First District Allison Galbraith. The initial post I responded to had a meme of a little girl holding a fish with the caption “Here is a heartwarming picture of a little girl saving a fish from drowning.” Galbraith added “GOP’s approach to preventing abortion is like this little girl’s approach to saving fish.”

But I didn’t respond to the initial post. My addition came after someone said “The fact abortion is used as a form of birth control is a disgrace,” and Galbraith went on a screed about Trump taking her birth control away. So I pick up from there.

Realistically, how many employers do you think this will affect? Unless you are working for a religiously-affiliated entity such as a church or Christian school the chances are all will remain as is.

It’s just fewer grounds for a lawsuit.

Allison went off and sneeringly began her reply “Last time I checked, only treading on a few peoples’ rights and wellbeing didn’t make it okay.” before going on a reverse slippery slope argument. Thus, I countered:

Actually, it does impact me in higher insurance rates for the additional mandates. Besides, there is nothing that says an employer can’t offer the coverage as part of their plan, and if it’s that important to a prospective employee they will vote with their feet to find a company which will cover it. Do you think people need the government to hold their hand when they make a choice of where to work?

As for the concept of this being a “right” let me remind you that health care is not a right. However, the Declaration of Independence reminds us life is pre-eminent among our inalienable rights and life begins at conception.

One mistake I made was not adding “I believe” before saying life begins at conception because she pointed out that’s not in the Declaration. But, she added, I needed to do something real to prevent abortions and not support the systematic oppression of women, whatever that means.

Regarding abortion, there are really only two measuring points to determine life: birth or conception. If you support abortion only, say, to the point of viability (about 20-22 weeks I think) that’s a copout. The fetus in the womb was just as alive before that. Theoretically, since you seem to be pro-abortion, then you should be just fine with it right up to the moment of birth. So are you?

And if the SCOTUS is infallible, explain to me how black people were property and “separate but equal” was justifiably the law of the land, since the Supreme Court said they were, too. At some point a future court may properly come to the conclusion there is no “right to privacy” in the Constitution. (Similarly, the plain meaning of “life” was surely assumed by the writers of the Declaration of Independence as meaning beginning at conception – however, I see your point as I made that a bit of a run-on sentence in my previous reply.)

If you believe not allowing abortions is infringing on the “systemic oppression of women” then you give your gender a lot less credit than they deserve.

And since I support the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center with a modest monthly donation (that will increase this coming year) I am trying to do my part to reduce abortion.

Ooooooooh, that got her mad, as she sputtered that nobody is pro-abortion and I’m crapping all over the Constitutional rights of women and 40 years of case law. Seriously, read the screed. Oh, and I had to be careful with my Constitutional rights because it protects my “precious guns.”

Time to get this back on the rails, I thought.

First of all, you didn’t answer my main question – but I sort of expected that. Then you went into a litany of male-bashing which I really didn’t expect but perhaps should have.

We both know not all pregnancies are planned because birth control doesn’t always work (except for abstinence.) But I think there’s a solution you’re missing: turning away from a culture that promotes mistreatment of women, cheap and casual sex, and not taking responsibility for your actions. Unfortunately, the last half-century of misguided policy has led in no small way to the problems we have now – look at the proportion of unwed mothers now as compared to the year I was born, 1964. I always thought the idea was that with rights come responsibilities, but how much responsibility is needed when both partners know that if they don’t get married after baby comes there’s a better chance they qualify for “free” stuff from the government? (That’s assuming Dad sticks around, which is a major change in gender relations over the years. In days of old the girl’s family – perhaps aided by a shotgun – made the boy honest.)

Long story short, we have been addressing most of what you speak of by throwing money or regulation at it. Maybe what’s “stupid and cruel” is trying the same thing and expecting different results. But I’m just a man and I don’t get it, even though I’ve raised one child not my own from the age of 3 (she’s about your age) and helped to raise another by a different dad in her teen years. (I have no biological kids.)

“I’d be careful where you go with your Constitutionality arguments since it is also what protects your precious guns.”

I didn’t really expect the slice of condescending I got in the second part, either. Let’s just say “my precious guns” are part of the reason you’re able to run for election in this fine republic of ours. As I see it, the Constitution should be interpreted in the manner in which its authors intended it to be, and “right to privacy” to allow for abortions wasn’t on there. (To the point on guns, “shall not be infringed” has a plain meaning, too.)

As I see it your argument has descended into the overly emotional, which seems to be the place your party likes to inhabit. (I also get a batch of your prospective Congressional cohorts in my feed and the sole purpose of their updates seems to be that of bashing Republicans and riling up their base. At least Andy puts up useful stuff once in awhile.)

To circle back to my main point: the rules put in place basically address the issues that were central to the Hobby Lobby case. Note that conscience-based objections were intended to remain, even under Obamacare. 

Instead of reading the screeds about how women are now going to be barefoot and pregnant because thousands of companies will drop coverage for contraception, here are the actual proposed rules for the straight scoop.

Then she took it personally. Now I have met Allison one time in my life, and the brief discussion was amiable but not in-depth. In our back-and-forth about various subjects via social media it seems to me she had a very bad relationship or encounter, which is a shame. Just in my opinion she seems to be a reasonable person otherwise, just trying to be a single working mom. I have a little bit of history with that, since each woman I’ve married was one – so I have more expertise than most men in dealing with their struggles because they became my struggles too.

So I decided to reassess.

I thought it was a pretty simple question I started with: at what point in the pregnancy do you think abortion should be made illegal, or is there one?

So I have sat here and read what I have written just to see what’s triggered this response. First of all, if you read the statement put out by the Trump administration you’ll note that many more women are affected by having particular insurance plans than would be affected by the new rules on contraception. And they always have the choice to seek new employment if they don’t like the health coverage, just as millions do each year because of that and many other reasons, like more pay, better opportunity for advancement, closer commute, and so on.

Yet you never really addressed the idea I brought up of how our culture affects the debate on this issue. Instead I was told I’m not qualified to comment unless I walk a mile in your shoes.

“I don’t receive subsidies. I worked hard for everything I have and have been through a hell of a lot to get it. When I speak on this subject, I know what I’m talking about. Yes I was angry, and legitimately so.”

Nor was I implying you didn’t work for what you have; however, there are thousands upon thousands over the years who haven’t had those scruples. Anger doesn’t really do me much good, but if anything I’m angry that people take the path of least resistance when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, to the detriment of their children who could have been in a loving home.

“But it does not make any of what I said less truthful, and your complete unwillingness to do much as even consider what I was saying is one of the many problems women face every day.”

To be perfectly honest, I have a harder time doing so when your original assertion, “GOPs approach to preventing abortion is like this little girl’s approach to saving fish” is complete hyperbole. But I responded the best way I knew how.

Again, I contend: no one is speaking about banning birth control pills, few employers will stop covering them, and even so over-the-counter costs are nominal. (My co-pay for asthma medication is almost as much.) Now I understand there is a medical need for the Pill with select women who have issues with their menstrual cycles, so it’s not just about birth control.

But I will not apologize for being pro-life on the grounds that the right to life of the unborn trumps the personal liberty of the mother and/or father. You may feel free to disagree, but I have stated my case at some length.

And if I didn’t wade into one controversy I made it into another, closer to home. A couple weeks ago Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis was critical of a demonstration at the Baltimore Ravens game against Chicago and someone captured the screenshot of his social media remarks that were later taken down.

I guess the question I have is: who took the screenshot? Finding out the source would go a long way toward determining their motives.

Also, I think this comment from Jamaad Gould deserves a little more scrutiny:

“There’s no way people of color can trust someone that says ‘one of their own’ rather than ‘one of our own.'” 

I’ll grant you I was not an English major and have a public school education, but if the subject of the sentence is the “hundreds of black men” who were (predominantly) shot by other “people of color” (as Gould would say) then the use of the phrase “one of their own” would be correct because Lewis doesn’t fit the description. To use a different example, if I was in someone else’s house and used a towel, I wouldn’t be using one of “our” towels, I would be using one of “theirs.”

And then we have Mary Ashanti, who said:

“She says focusing on the post is wasting energy better spent on finding a new sheriff when Lewis is up for re-election.”

You may be wasting more energy looking for someone to run against Lewis, since he ran unopposed the last two times and won with 62% of the vote the first time he ran. I suspect the vast majority in this county are pretty happy with the Sheriff they have.

The only problem with the statement is people didn’t realize the 62% was when he had opposition. It will be interesting to see if he has any this time.

So that covers the last month. Last couple weeks I’ve been a bit more silent, but as always that is subject to change.

2017 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner in pictures and text

October 30, 2017 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Inside the Beltway, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on 2017 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner in pictures and text 

This time around it will be fewer pictures and more text. It’s not like I haven’t done this for many years at the same venue. But you may recall I took a hiatus from party politics for awhile, meaning this was the first such event I’d attended in two years.

So I was greeted with mainly open arms, although many people thought I had already moved to Delaware. (Not quite yet.) Regardless, the feel of the event was such that I felt right at home – the only difference was that we were supposed to begin an hour earlier to accommodate our speaker. As it turned out, we got underway about 45 minutes late (or 15 minutes early by our “normal” schedule), so I who was there at 5:00 for a 6:00 dinner had plenty of time to commiserate and hear the band play.

One of the new folks I got to meet was the lone statewide candidate to attend. She is definitely having fun on the campaign trail.

Angie Phukan (a.k.a. “MsComptroller”) is, as the tagline would suggest, running for the GOP nomination for Comptroller. To date she’s the only candidate to file against incumbent Democrat Peter Franchot, who likewise has filed. She hails from Ocean City, so she’s a statewide candidate in our backyard.

I had actually conversed online with her a few weeks back when she was trying to figure out her yard signs. I suggested simpler is better, and assured her last night she need not worry about separate signs for primary and general elections. “Your job right now is to build name recognition,” I told her.

Of course, most of our local contingent of folks were there as well. One I want to point out is Mary Beth Carozza, Delegate from District 38C. Here she’s between County Council member from District 5 Joe Holloway and his wife Faye. (Holloway is once again my Councilman since we moved.)

The reason Carozza is important to the story is she’s making a “special announcement” next month in Ocean City.

The speculation is rampant this will make formal what’s been rumored for awhile: notice how much Jim Mathias is on social media these days? If Mary Beth indeed decides to try for the promotion, she would join Democrat-turned-Republican Ed Tinus in the race, although Tinus could then decide to seek the open Delegate seat.

As always, we began with a visit from our 16th President and the event’s namesake.

I had some fun with the photo since it demanded an oldtime look. As he always does, Lincoln waxed eloquent with tales from his life, this time focusing on the time he was a young man who studied voraciously to tackle new opportunities that came his way, such as surveying or winning his first elective office at the age of 25. (Oddly enough, the Whigs of the day had to contend with voters who were ineligible because they didn’t live in the district or weren’t yet citizens.) Observing today’s political landscape, he noted that there seemed to be no survey plan to drain the swamp.

As I was driving around to find a parking spot before the event, I spied a well-dressed man who seemed like he was looking for the door to get in. I thought it was David Bossie and it turned out I was right. He may be our Republican National Committeeman and entrenched as a confidant for President Trump, but he was still baffled by the setup of Salisbury University’s Guerrieri Hall.

But when it was Bossie’s turn to speak, there was no confusion. First of all, he asked how many in the room thought a year ago that Donald Trump would win. When a fair number went up, he said “Liars,” adding “I didn’t raise my hand.”

“I’ll tell the President that he had a room full of people who knew he would win,” added Bossie. He only figured it out as he was feeding information to the soon-to-be President on Election Night.

David had met Trump several years earlier through a mutual friend who believed Trump would be willing to lend the use of his golf course for a charity event Bossie was organizing. The main reason for Bossie’s interest in that cause was his then-six month old son, who had several medical issues that piqued his interest in fighting against Obamacare in the belief it would damage our medical system that was aiding his son.

Bossie’s role in the campaign and eventual transition was “a humbling experience,” although for a time it greatly diminished when Paul Manafort was hired. Manafort “froze him out,” so when Trump “thankfully…(got) rid of Manafort” Bossie helped lead the comeback from a low point after the GOP convention.

So the day after Trump shocked the world, they realized there was no formal transition plan. In part, that was superstition from Trump, an avid sportsman who had the belief – like many athletes who compete regularly do – that considering the transition would be a departure from routine and would jinx his campaign. Shortly after the victory, though, David was selected as the Deputy Executive Director of the transition.

While this was going on, Bossie remained at the helm of Citizens United, which he described as “focused on the President’s agenda like a laser beam.” The problem with enacting it, continued David, was that our government was “dysfunctional and out of touch.” Since the House and Senate were elected on the same issues as Trump was, their reluctance to cooperate was an affront to President Trump. “He’s a pissed off dude, isn’t he?” said Bossie about the President. “Get something done and the temperature goes down,” he added, referring to the Senate and relations between them and Trump. If they do, there’s a “good opportunity to pick up Senate seats…really good math for us.” Bossie mentioned races in Ohio and Missouri as strong possibilities for pickups and welcomed the changes in Arizona and Tennessee with the retirements of Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, respectively.

(Interesting to note: the mentions of Flake, Corker, and John McCain drew boos and hisses from some in the crowd.)

We needed, though, to put aside the things of a year ago. Remember, “if Hillary Clinton wins, the nation as we know it is over,” said Bossie. But since Trump won, things have taken shape with our economy: the Dow is “out of its mind” and as far as regulations go, Trump promised to eliminate two for every new one. “Do you know how many he’s done?” Bossie asked, and someone in the crowd you may know well said, “Sixteen.”

“Who said sixteen?” he asked. “Showoff.” Indeed, the Trump administration is mowing down regulations at a frenetic pace.

But the economy is missing one thing: a “robust” tax reform package; one that Bossie described as “generational.”

“Shame on us if we don’t get it done,” Bossie said, and the sooner the better: if enacted by year’s end and made retroactive for 2017, the boost in the economy will kick in around next summer and make the 2018 election a pocketbook balloting. If done in the spring, the effects won’t be nearly as great, argued David.

While Bossie apologized in advance for not being able to stay too late, he did answer a few questions.

The first one required him to put on his National Committeeman hat, as he was asked “what can we do on the Eastern Shore?”

Our focus, said David, should be first on winning the needed five State Senate seats to sustain Governor Hogan’s vetoes. Of course, that also meant we had to turn out for Hogan as we did last time so he could defeat the “worst group of Democrats” in the country.

He was less optimistic when asked about what we could do about Ben Cardin. “There’s lost causes, then there’s lost causes,” said Bossie. That may be news to Sam Faddis, who is the only Republican with an FEC account in that race so far. (No one has formally filed, save three Democrats not named Cardin who are hoping the incumbent retires or keels over.)

Someone else asked whether GOP money was going to Donald Trump. Their investment is “behind the scenes” right now, assured Bossie, although Trump already has a 2020 re-election account as well. The RNC is “stockpiling” money with a large advantage in fundraising over the Democrats at the moment.

Turning to foreign affairs, a question was asked about our relationship with China.

Trump was focusing on the Chinese president, David said. “No one wants war,” and by dealing with China – which is the main trading partner of North Korea – Trump is dealing with an entity that could “suffocate” North Korea if they chose. It’s a combination of tough talk and diplomacy, he added.

Finally, it was asked about the governors not supporting Trump. Bossie argued that their agenda was better off with Republican governors whether they agreed with President Trump on everything or not. And even though our governor didn’t support the Trump bid, it was “vital” he be re-elected anyway, concluded Bossie.

With that, he was off to see his family before an early morning gig on Fox News, so the conclusion of the event was the introduction of a number of elected officials, club officers, and 2018 candidates, along with the drawing of raffles from both the Wicomico County Republican Club and the College Republicans. As it turned out both grand prizes were donated back to their respective organizations, so the WCRC can once again give away a $1,000 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card and the College Republicans netted $280. Wicomico County GOP Chair Mark McIver also announced that there were 130 people in attendance, making this a successful event that grossed better than $8,000.

Just like in the beginning, there are people who stay around and gab the night away. In this case, it’s Delegate Charles Otto (left) with Joe Schanno of the Department of Natural Resources (center) and Dwight Patel (right), who annually makes the trip from Montgomery County to show his support. We finally cleared out about 9:30, although there was an impromptu afterparty offsite some chose to enjoy.

It was nice to be remembered, and as I had pointed out to me by County Councilman Marc Kilmer, now that I’m a “free agent” I can pick and choose my events. Trust me, I’m still on the mailing lists.

But writing this was like riding a bicycle – you don’t forget how to do it even after awhile away. It was fun.

DLGWGTW: October 29, 2017

October 29, 2017 · Posted in Business and industry, Culture and Politics, Don't Let Good Writing Go To Waste, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Senator Watch · Comments Off on DLGWGTW: October 29, 2017 

In the spirit of “don’t let good writing go to waste,” this is a roundup of some of my recent social media comments. I’m one of those people who likes to take my free education to a number of left-leaning social media sites, so my readers may not see this.

This week I’m splitting this feature in half, with one half tonight and the other half on Tuesday night after I stamp my thoughts on the Wicomico Lincoln Day Dinner tomorrow.

Regarding a letter to the Daily Times chastising Andy Harris’s health care votes:

If the writer is a member of “Regressive Maryland” (as I like to call them) it’s doubtful she has ever voted for Harris anyway. So she’ll be disappointed again when Andy gets his 60% or more of the vote in our nicely gerrymandered Republican district.

In a nutshell, instead of encouraging people to be insured by perhaps making the premiums fully deductible or allowing standard, basic policies to be sold nationwide, the government decided to make it mandatory to have insurance. And guess what? If you are forced to be in a market, what do you think the prices will do?

The federal government needs to be out of health insurance – stat.

I have a lot of fun writing responses to the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer when he gets his inane commentaries up – like this one in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.

I’ll out myself as a so-called “right winger” (I prefer the term Constitutional, liberty-minded conservative myself) but here’s a pro tip: arguing in ALL CAPS isn’t getting the job done.

The reason Steny’s stayed in office so long is the way his district is gerrymandered to include a large chunk of PG County. That saved his bacon early on and subsequent redistricting (as well as the growth of Charles County as a bedroom suburb of PG County) keep him there. There was once a proposal to split the Eastern Shore up and put the lower half in his district, but I’m sure he wanted no part of that. We don’t think he makes a whole lot of sense.

Now, as for a time to debate gun control: the left-wing malcontents couldn’t even wait for the full accounting of dead and wounded (or all the facts surrounding this incident) until they were screaming about gun control. But what if he had driven a truck into the crowd, or planted a shrapnel bomb? Would you be caterwauling for truck control or nail control?

Simply put, a gun is a tool and its usual job is protecting the bearer. Sometimes it’s used for the wrong purpose, as it was this time. So in my view the discussion shouldn’t be about guns, but about God. What drives a man to violate the basic commandment of “thou shalt not kill” because he has a hatred for a group? Well over 90% of people who own guns have at least the basic understanding of their power and also have the sense to know right from wrong – you know, that whole “thou shalt not kill” thing?

One rumor has it that this assailant was a member of several anti-Trump online groups. I see more vitriol about our current President (a guy I didn’t vote for) than I have about the last two combined. Last time I checked, no one from that evil right wing pulled out an arsenal and tried to mow down Obama supporters in numbers like this guy did – and I’m sure it could have been done 100 or more times.

So how about we debate self-control and leave guns out of it? I can sit and stare at the whole arsenal this guy had all day, but since I would have no intention under any normal circumstance to pick it up there’s no harm done.

Or how about the Avoidable Care Act? I responded to one commenter who threw shade on the idea of selling insurance across state lines as a Republican “panacea”:

You make a fair assessment, but there is one area you’re discounting. At the time the study was done, the federal mandates of Obamacare were already being put into place, so states weren’t going to be terribly innovative about what they did. In order for something like this to work there has to be a minimum of federal regulation as well – the less, the better.

Remember, the concept of Obamacare came about at a state level and I think that is where the solutions lie. Here in Maryland we will likely always be a nanny state, so a company that wants to sell here would have to enact policies that match up to our laws. On the other hand, a state like Texas could be more lenient. Yet if someone could create the most bare-bones policy possible with a robust physician network and a la carte features (like I wouldn’t need maternity coverage but may want more enhanced mental health coverage because this government drives me crazy) they may pick up enough of a risk pool around the country to make insurance affordable. Then it would be up to consumers to demand their states give them more choice by relaxing their regulations.

Yet there could be advantages to even allowing policies to be sold across state lines – people are price-conscious. I live maybe two miles from the Delaware border so if there was a policy available there which had a network that extended here into Salisbury (very possible because we have the largest regional hospital) it would be to my advantage to do so – it’s the same reason you see all the stores that sell furniture and other portable big ticket items clustered just across the line in tax-free Delaware, and the largest Royal Farms chainwide cigarette seller being the store out in the middle of nowhere but literally 50 yards into Virginia and its 30 cent per pack tax (compared to $2 in Maryland) right on a main highway.

I agree selling across state lines isn’t a complete panacea, but it would be a useful tool in the toolbox.

Then after another comment complained about Trump opening the door for the insurance industry, Big Pharma, and doctors to raise rates I set her straight, too.

If the first word of (the writer)’s initial statement had been “Obama” that would have been solid gold truth. When people are forced to buy a product and lobbyists write the regulations, what incentive is there to “bend the cost curve”? Think of how much you pay a month for auto insurance because the state forces you to have it – the only saving grace is that they set comparatively few regulations on policies so there is competition to help give people a bit of a break.

I don’t spare our junior Senator when he plays the class envy card, either:

It seems to me cutting the brackets from 7 to 3 and eliminating a batch of deductions few people take IS simplifying the tax code. But of course any GOP plan is “tax cuts for the wealthy” to you. News flash: they pay the largest share of taxes.

Personally I think the FairTax is the best way to go but that doesn’t allow for nearly as much government modification of behavior.

After someone whined that cuts should be spread in a “more equitable manner” I added:

When you pay the most, you get the most benefit. Let’s get more numbers and throw away the class envy card, as I have.

Later on I added as a status:

Three facts for future reference when responding to Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Steny Hoyer, Allison Galbraith, etc. Per the Tax Foundation:

The share of income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose to 20.6 percent in 2014. Their share of federal individual income taxes also rose, to 39.5 percent.

In 2014, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.3 percent of all individual income taxes while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.7 percent.

The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39.5 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (29.1 percent).

So when they talk about “tax cuts for the wealthy” and “not paying their fair share,” well, here are the actual numbers. If you want “Atlas Shrugged” just keep raising tax rates on productive people.

You know, I can see why some of our representatives run out of patience with people. One example at a Michigan townhall meeting was made into a story by the real Faux News, the Shareblue website. So I said my piece:

Gee, were the eight people in the back who were clapping and cheering the question offended? Out of a crowd of what looked like 75 to 80 people you all could muster 10? Pretty sad.

Now instead of picking up the video halfway through like your share did, I watched the whole thing. Walberg answered the question respectfully only to be shouted down near the end because a select few didn’t like the answer.

Did he handle it well? Could have been better, but I’m not as worried about him as I am the mental state of some of those commenting here. And you may want to ask yourself regarding North Korea: who enabled them to get nukes in the first place?

For that I was accused of being an idiot who voted for him. Try again.

Sorry, I don’t live in Michigan (although I grew up close by his district – Tecumseh is maybe a half-hour from Toledo.) But yes, I have my own Congressman nowadays who’s pretty good – it’s the two lame Senators I’m stuck with that are the problems.

But again to my point: who enabled North Korea to get nukes in the first place?

You know, they never answered my question.

Okay, let me wrap up this one with something lighter. We all have opinions on baseball uniforms, so this was mine in response to a poorly written piece that I’d be ashamed to put my name on.

I don’t know which was worse…the writing, editing, or fact she could have picked another dozen as good and definitely some straight-up bad ones…Padres in brown and gold first come to mind on the bad side. On the other hand I actually liked the Seattle Pilots jersey given the style at the time. Better than what the Mariners first wore.

And maybe it’s a product of growing up in the 1970s but I was more impressed when teams actually went to the colored jerseys than when they simply swapped out the road gray for light blue. It didn’t work well for the Cardinals, Twins, Rangers, or Phillies, but a little better for the Brewers, Cubs, Blue Jays (I liked the split-letter font too) and Royals. It was so-so for the Expos and Mariners.

I will say that the Astros rainbow jerseys spawned a couple imitators from local high schools in my area, so someone liked them.

And yes, as a Tigers fan there is no beating the Olde English D as a classic.

True dat. Look for the next installment on Tuesday and I’ll pretty much be caught up.

monoblogue music: “World Gone Mad” by Kris Heaton Band

October 28, 2017 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “World Gone Mad” by Kris Heaton Band 

Kris Heaton has been around the world and back again, sporting the voice to prove it. Over the summer he put out this appealing album, at least if you like your music on the power-pop end of the musical world.

And a world gone mad is a theme of the bookend songs of the album, at least. Take the opener Who Let The Bullets Fly and the title track, which lament the state of the world, as does the penultimate track Way of the World. So what would he do about it? Listen to the last song, Better World, which exploits the old “if I were king for a day” theme.

But the eight songs in the middle generally come across as having a pop base with a variety of influences, mainly the synth rock that had its heyday in the late ’70s and early ’80s along with the power ballads that “graced” the end of the decade of Reagan and Rubik’s cubes. Particularly reminiscent of that time is the song I Want You, which is the heaviest and hardest of the lot, although the dabbling in a reggae-style sound that started in that era continues here with the track The Moment.

You can understand the sound of the record even more when you learn of Kris’s previous collaborations and incarnations. Originally a member of the band Control Group (a five-piece band not to be confused with a more recent trio out of New York called The Control Group), Kris played with them for nearly a decade before taking time off to raise his family. After that hiatus, Heaton apparently felt called back to the studio and has since put out a series of albums over the last eleven years, of which this is his seventh – and fifth after dropping the “Blues” from the Kris Heaton Blues Band name in 2009. (Heaton actually has a better voice for blues than rock, in my opinion. The description I read later on of “whiskey-soaked” seems most appropriate.)

A longtime collaboration with The Brandenberg State Symphony Orchestra continues on this album on the track Something New, although the group doesn’t get front cover credit as it did on 2016’s Heaton release called “Stand Up,” A previous one which perked up my ears, so to speak, was The Smithereens lead singer Pat Dinizio, who helped out on Heaton’s 2012 album “Law of the Jungle.” There’s some of that pop-alternative feel to this one as well.

There are two members credited for this album: Heaton and “long time bandmate” Ace Foster, who handles percussion, as well as a few guests not necessarily credited, such as the female vocalist on Better World. So these two, as well as another guitarist they keep for live performances, play a variety of shows and benefit performances around Connecticut, where Heaton calls home. (One staple is a regular event the KHB headlines called Hopefest, which had its twelfth incarnation earlier this year.)

Overall, I liked this one for the most part, although it would be interesting to hear these with a different singer. And here’s a little of the social commentary, which fortunately doesn’t clutter up the whole album regardless of how you feel on the issues.

Otherwise, I encourage you to do as I always tell you: listen for yourself – but be advised Spotify will sneak some ads in on you. That can be rectified by just buying the record if you really like it.

My week without a phone

October 20, 2017 · Posted in Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

I revisited my inner Luddite this week, although not necessarily by choice.

On Monday night I was looking at social media when my phone decided to reboot out of the blue. I thought it strange but after a few minutes of letting the phone sit there with its brand logo staring at me, I figured something was amiss – so I did the old pull out and replace the battery trick and got functionality back for maybe a minute before it rebooted again.

So after a little bit of searching on the internet I discovered what could be the problem and the suggested remedy, which I tried to no avail. The only other step would be a factory reset, which was distressing because I had hundreds of photos on there which weren’t backed up yet and I didn’t want to wipe the phone clean. I also found there were programs to possibly restore the files, if so for a not-so-nominal fee.

The next day I went on my lunch break to my local carrier, who gave me the bad news: in so many words, my phone is f’ed. And as a middle-class employed type whose money was a bit tight, a new phone would have to wait until payday today. So not only did I not have my primary means of communication for three days (we don’t use a land line) but I also lost my alarm clock, camera, and link to social media when I’m away from home. Thus, over the last few mornings I’ve woken up to my wife’s phone alarm, couldn’t take any photos, and have been a virtual stranger to social media. To be honest, though, the worst parts were not having the alarm clock and a way to text my spouse. And this experience revealed some key lessons.

First off, the weather this time of year doesn’t really change much from the night before, so checking it a couple-three times a day wasn’t necessary. And it’s easy to fall into the trap: you have a moment from work, and you check your social media. Without that, it seemed I was just a little more productive this week: got a small commercial kitchen project out and today I got most of the owner comments for a house taken care of, with maybe a couple hours’ work on Monday to go. (I have to raise the roof, which takes time.)

To me, it wasn’t quite a mini-vacation (since I still had social media available to me on my laptop at home) but it got me to thinking. We went out to eat twice over the week (three times if you count the snacks we had at small group at church on Wednesday) and because I was sans phone, I had to try and engage in actual conversation. Someplace awhile back I read a news item which made the claim that people are spending more time eating out: the average restaurant visit has expanded from a little over an hour to beyond an hour and a half. The culprit: people reading their social media as they sit at the eatery. This, in turn, cuts into business because tables turn over fewer times a night as five parties turn into four, but they’re not spending the time lingering over dessert.

(By the way, another drawback to not having a phone: at church I use a Bible app so I don’t carry a physical copy of the Good Book with me, It’s easier to go from, say, Romans to Leviticus on a phone in a few clicks than flipping through hundreds of pages.)

Anyway, if you were trying to get a hold of me this week I wasn’t ignoring you, I was just down incognito for a little bit. I got the new phone tonight, and I’m seeing how much of my stuff stuck to the Google cloud so tomorrow I should be somewhat good to go.

But the break wasn’t so bad either.

monoblogue music: “Further!!” by Revolushn

October 14, 2017 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Further!!” by Revolushn 

It’s a good thing I listen to the music first before I read the profile, because I would have judged this record differently based on the stage names and political persuasion of the participants in this San Francisco-based band.

What I actually listened to, though, was a band that really would have been at home in the 1970s. Take for example the opening track Dinosaurs, which begins like a acid trip, gets heavy, and ends on that same acid trip note. Listening about halfway through to the progression of chords I was transported back to that great album rock of a bygone era when people who weren’t into disco were treated to heavier stuff like Deep Purple or Blue Oyster Cult. The River also has that same vibe.

On the next track, Wierd Little Mind (not sure if the misspelling is intentional, but that’s how it’s listed) I began to wonder: how did they find so many strange notes and chords yet make the song go together in a halfway-coherent fashion? Things get a little more conventional on Man Who Knew Everything, but that transitions into the the dreamy You Will Go. It’s almost like rock on Quaaludes. It gets even a little more strange (and brassy) with Dog Gets High.

Again reverting back to reality, you get All Is As It Should Be before the hypnotic title track kicks in. The album wraps with a neat if slightly overmodulated song called Time + Travel = Time. This is definitely one you should listen for yourself before you judge. Or you can start by watching this:

So this is the band that doesn’t do things the conventional way. It makes for a bit of a challenging listen, but doggone it I enjoyed most of the songs, the first two in particular. In my mind’s eye I was taken back to my room in the early 80’s listening to my boom box on low to the deep cuts the local rock station would play at night. The music had that sort of feel to it.

But I didn’t think those bands were this strange. Revolushn is one of those bands that is strange, or perhaps one may call it unique. Either way, it’s worth a spin.

Taking matters into their own hands

October 11, 2017 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delaware politics, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off on Taking matters into their own hands 

So here I am, just thumbing through my e-mail for the day, and I find this on the Daily Signal website.

I would quibble enough to say that Delaware isn’t really part of the Northeast – particularly Sussex County, although many who have arrived there in recent years hail from the states commonly considered the Northeast – but the prospect of a right-to-work law in the heart of Delmarva could be enough to get a second look from prospective employers.

Councilman Rob Arlett introduced the proposed ordinance on Tuesday, according to the Daily Signal report, and it would need the support of two other Sussex County Council members to pass. (All five are Republicans, although not necessarily conservative ones.) The matter will be up for public discussion, per the article by investigative reporter Kevin Mooney, at the next Sussex County Council meeting on October 24. (As an aside, it should also be noted that Arlett was the state chair for the Donald Trump campaign so perhaps he has some of Trump’s business acumen.)

The article also details an interview with Seaford Mayor David Genshaw, who pointed out, “Right to work is a tool we need to compete for jobs. If you compare right-to-work states with non-right-to-work states, you can see where this could mean big gains for Delaware.”

I have a little bit of knowledge about the way Sussex County’s economy works as an erstwhile employee of one of their leading homebuilders. The eastern half of the county, basically from U.S. 113 to the beach but mainly close to Coastal Highway (Delaware Route 1) is booming with new developments, primarily homes that are purchased by retirees from nearby states who sell their $500,000 houses there and buy a $350,000 house in Delaware with the proceeds. On the other hand, the western half of the county languishes and Seaford may be the poster child for those doldrums as it’s littered with older housing stock and vacant storefronts throughout the city. While the population has increased by about 25% over the last 25 years (from 5,700 to the latest estimate of around 7,700) its growth is well off the pace of Sussex County as a whole, which has nearly doubled in that timespan.

So adopting right-to-work isn’t really going to affect the beachfront areas where the jobs are primarily retail, health care, or other service positions. But in those areas along the U.S. 13 corridor (in order from the Maryland line: Delmar, Laurel, Seaford, and Bridgeville) that have some infrastructure in place for new manufacturing facilities, this could be the economic shot in the arm they need to tip the scales their way.

Of course, I’m sure the union apologists will say that all right-to-work does is drive down wages. (Delaware’s minimum wage is currently $8.25 an hour, with legislation pending to eventually raise it to $10.25 an hour by October, 2020.) But the best argument to counter that is to simply remind this person that a person with no job makes $0 an hour, and anything that can bring jobs in will be beneficial to Sussex County. (The rest of Delaware would be unaffected.)

And you can bet your bottom dollar that, if this passes, Big Labor and their leftist allies will go running to the Delaware-based Clinton appointee who sits on the Third Circuit for a restraining order. While Mooney’s story notes a similar law has passed muster in the Sixth Circuit – which heard the case of a Kentucky county passing similar legislation – it’s much more of a crapshoot in the Third because most of its judges were appointed by Democrats and they tend to be more receptive to what passes for logic from the standpoint of Big Labor.

But there ought to be a little bit of interest in the fate of this bill in Annapolis and Salisbury. While Maryland is doing its best to attract new industry, they are still a closed shop state and large manufacturers have tended to prefer locating in right-to-work states. Should Sussex County succeed in its quest it’s incumbent on the state government to respond in kind by allowing the Eastern Shore to be a right-to-work area. (Perhaps our home rule would allow us in Wicomico County to do this, but I tend to doubt that’s the case in Maryland law.)

This is a story that could be huge for local economic development, so it’s a head-scratcher that a Google search for news on “Delaware right to work” didn’t find anything aside from the story linked above. I guess they would rather find other controversy to discuss for the umpteenth time. So maybe my local friends have heard it here first.

The way things ought to be

October 10, 2017 · Posted in Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

With apologies to Rush Limbaugh, of course…

Is it just me, or has civility gone the way of chivalry? I don’t think people can simply agree to disagree anymore, and this is particularly the case over the last year. People who backed the lady in the race won’t even talk to the folks who backed the guy who fired everyone – of course, those supporters had a hissy fit with backers of other people in the contest who aligned better with their political beliefs and would never vote for that firing guy.

But then the lady backers complained that the others had that attitude for the previous eight years, beginning with the time they got all riled up with those tax day rallies organized simply because their president was a different race. But no, charged those supporting the guy who fired everyone, you started it by wishing that President before him was dead because he started so many wars. Before that, we all pretty much laughed at the exploits of the lady in the race’s husband because somehow things were going smoothly. Now we couldn’t really laugh at the guy before him because he was so daggone serious about us reading his lips before he betrayed us and did what he said he wouldn’t do.

Come to think of it, the last President everyone liked was Ronald Reagan. I liked him too; in fact he’s the first one I voted for. This was back in the days when we didn’t have social media, smartphones, or even a whole lot of cordless phones. So do you know what we had to do? We had to talk, either over the telephone or (even better) face to face. We actually did fun stuff like go bowling, play board games, cruise aimlessly around town in our parents’ Oldsmobiles (although we fretted that gas was a buck a gallon), and hang out or watch movies at the suburban mall (or even a drive-in, which we were fortunate enough to still have), making sure to stop in the closest drug store and buy…the large size candy.

I’m going to make a suggestion here that you may feel free to put in the hopper, laugh at, or just plain ignore. Now Lord knows I like social media (and the occasional blog post) because I write more ably than I can talk, at least in front of a lot of people. But I don’t seem to have those problems in front of my church family or the small group we have on Wednesday nights. And on Sunday evenings, I know our teenaged daughter is in a safe place because she’s in the church youth group.

You may disagree, and I wouldn’t want to be accused of pushing my religion on anyone despite the fact salvation is free for the taking. But there’s a whole lot more civility and chivalry in a church than I find anywhere else in life where people just want to argue. Granted, the group is a little more homogeneous than your average pack of people in a crowd, but I’m sure I can ask questions on a variety of topics and receive a bushel of different answers. Their one thing in common: faith in our Lord.

It would not bother me a bit if this nation entered a period of religious revival – after all, we’ve tried just about everything else under the sun and found ourselves not only wanting but increasingly angry and bitter at our lot. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so after the better part of thirty years spent on pursuits that have loosened the ties that once bound us I think our nation is about certifiable.

It’s time to come home, America.

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