As it turned out we didn’t have a speaker for tonight’s meeting so the agenda was on the light side. Still, there was plenty of discussion at our gathering.
We did the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance as we always do, but in between we had a silent moment of prayer for Governor Hogan. I had not heard the news about his cancer diagnosis, so I was quite shocked. It was definitely a somber way to begin the meeting.
With no speaker, we jumped to Julie Brewington’s Central Committee report. She recounted our appointments to the Board of Elections and Board of Education and revealed we were in the process of working on a fundraising event. We were also seeking a mayoral candidate for Salisbury as the filing deadline approaches in August.
Representing Somerset County’s GOP was Matthew Adams, who came up to sell tickets to the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Readers of mine know all about this annual event, which this year has increased its ticket price to $45. Between the state party and our two counties, we have half of one of the large tents for a total of 120 tickets. Adams expressed his interest in having Andy Harris make an appearance, but we were at the mercy of the House voting schedule for that one. Harris may be able to do a morning event, though. (I would assume that Harris’s primary opponent, Michael Smigiel, already has Tawes on his calendar just as Harris was able to do when Frank Kratovil held the seat.)
We also got the pleasure of meeting Patty Miller, who is the incoming president of the Salisbury University College Republicans. Their big task this year, said Miller, was to recruit new members. When asked about the atmosphere on campus Miller admitted that it was hard to overcome the liberal bias of the faculty, but it helped that many students came from rural areas. Adams noted that a good percentage of SU students come from Somerset County and was hoping to use them to gain inroads into UMES.
Some good news came from Muir Boda, who announced the beer license for the Crab Feast on September 12 should be secured this week. The issue was our non-profit status, which was resolved by (of all people) the IRS. Boda was working with Josh Hastings of the Democratic Club, who have the same issue with their event, so there is bpiartisan cooperation around here. He also announced he had filed for City Council last week.
Another upcoming event is the Wicomico County Fair in August, and we were in the process of getting our space there. Dave Snyder asked about voter registration and we encouraged him to do so.
Our most recent appointees to the Board of Education were then asked to speak, as their first meetinnd wg will occur tomorrow morning. And while the reaction to John Palmer’s appointment was “righteously fearful,” according to Julie Brewington, Joe Ollinger struck a more optimistic tone – although he admitted “public education is a tough job.” But it’s not a money issue, he added.
Some of his ideas for change were efforts to instill more discipline in the schools while encouraging more respect for the public school teachers. But he also wished to move as much responsibility as possible to the local board, hoping the state would cede some power.
One other item on the club’s agenda is a new officer. Since Joe Collins took a position on the Board of Elections, he can’t serve as an officer for the WCRC. Dave Snyder volunteered to be nominated but we would like to have other candidates step up, too.
Marc Kilmer filled us in on the public hearing process for an elected school board. Five hearings will be held beginning in September – wonder where they got that idea? It was also suggested that we hold a straw poll at the Wicomico County Fair to gauge support.
Marc also was lauded by Joe Ollinger for how he explained how he came u with his votes, and it was incumbent upon us to demand that same forthrightness from the others on County Council.
Shawn Jester passed along word from Delegate Carl Anderton that his district office was now open. We also learned from Cathy Keim that we would be using the optical scanner machines beginning in 2016. Of course, that brings a headache because the machines and paper ballots have to be kept in a conditioned space the county doesn’t have yet, so they will have to lease or build one.
Next month we will have two speakers. It’s no surprise that our old friend Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is coming to address us, but having Jake Day speak is definitely different. He sought us out, though, and we’ll give him the forum on July 27.
First of all, happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including mine I spoke to earlier this afternoon.
For the last month I have been operating under a handicap; one which is now (mostly) resolved. My formerly trusty laptop ran into a number of issues which required professional intervention and there was a point where I was afraid I had lost all my monoblogue Accountability Project work. Fortunately, I got everything back and hope to get the mAP released this week; perhaps as soon as Tuesday.
It also means I can move forward on my next project – issue-based dossiers on the GOP presidential hopefuls. I’ve determined which platform planks are the most important on my docket so over the next few weeks I’ll share how I make my decision on who to back for 2016.
So consider this fair warning. It’s been a hectic week with a lot on my plate but now I’m thinking I’m ready to start looking forward to 2016 – not only in a Presidential sense but also the contested primary for First District Congress and the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barb Mikulski. Summer is usually a slack time for the political but the year before a presidential election can be an exception.
Oh, and look for more from my cohort Cathy Keim this week as well.
Yesterday I posted on Third Friday, a monthly event that’s become so successful that it spawned a similar spin-off called First Saturday and may have pushed downtown redevelopment over the hump. Similarly, there are some new businesses and apartments going up on the northern edge of the city along U.S. 13, and even the venerable Centre of Salisbury – venerable as a 27-year-old mall can be, I suppose – has the promise of something Salisbury has longed for, a Cracker Barrel restaurant. It’s slated to be built in the parking lot outside the abandoned J.C. Penney store. (Shoot, I was happy when Buffalo Wild Wings finally made it here from Ohio.)
But there is one prime area that has all the ingredients needed for success – plenty of traffic, good visibility, and reliable city utilities. Yet it sits vacant and unused because its plans for development came along at a bad time.
Several years ago, before my unplanned exile from the building industry, I helped draw up a proposed project which would have established a third attraction for Salisbury. Obviously we know the Centre of Salisbury was a retail destination point and at the time the downtown area was being discussed as something which, as it turns out, it is in the process of becoming – a place where visual and performing arts serves as the draw, along with a handful of local eateries.
But the plot of land just south of Perdue Stadium had its own node, with a guaranteed gathering of anywhere from 500 hardy, weather-tested souls to overflow crowds of over 8,000 people 60 to 65 times a year during the spring and summer. Add in the thousands of travelers driving by and there was the potential for a destination of its own; close enough to the beach to be a viable alternative for budget-concious travelers looking for something with a slower pace, yet with the attractions to enjoy a summer evening without the need for driving around.
As originally envisioned, the development had several key elements for success: office space for workday usage, restaurants for both travelers and those seeking a place to have a business or casual lunch, and lodging for those who wanted to have an anchor point to explore the area yet not have to deal with beach crowds. Its misfortune was beginning the development process at a time when we were entering the Great Recession of 2007-whenever. (Some may argue the area is still in one based on employment numbers.)
One other proposal envisioned for the site was the construction of a new Civic Center on the opposite side of the Perdue Stadium parking lot. Besides the obvious plentiful parking available, a new Civic Center would have the advantages of making beer sales at events possible (a deed restriction for the property of the current Wicomico Youth and Civic Center prohibits alcohol sales as a condition of having it donated to the county for its use) and could be configured for more seating than the current arena to attract larger acts.
Any action on that, however, is several years to a decade away. Yet the county is putting money into 20-year-old Perdue Stadium and the owners of the Delmarva Shorebirds are committing themselves to another two decades as the station’s prime tenant. In short, the main attractions aren’t going anywhere.
Yet this valuable land sits as a part of Salisbury time and economics seemingly forgot.
I understand the emphasis our city fathers have placed on revitalizing downtown and trying to make it a close-by gathering place for both young professionals and Salisbury University students. With a transit system already in place to ferry students from campus to downtown several nights a week and grand plans to spruce up the Business Route 13 corridor from SU to the east edge of downtown, city visionaries and elected officials have it covered. Meanwhile, the part of town encompassing the Centre of Salisbury up toward Delmar seems to be doing just fine although admittedly some of that retail may be getting long in the tooth and due for upgrades. The closing of J.C. Penney was just another pockmark on a facility which may need its own transformation in the next decade lest it suffer the fate of the old Salisbury Mall it replaced.
But that rebirth can be set on the back burner for now. Downtown development may be the place where the cool kids go, but there are other assets Salisbury can put in play with the proper foresight and investment. Imagine what could be there now if things had proceeded a decade ago, and work to make it a reality in the next few years. The infrastructure is already there thanks to the aborted previous plans, so let’s get this diamond in the rough to shine.
That, in a nutshell, was the story of my Third Friday.
I got home from work, changed my clothes, and walked out to my car. Felt a sprinkle, pulled out my phone, looked at the radar picture and saw this tiny orange, yellow, and green blob arriving.
Man, did it pour when I got downtown. I walked through a river to get there as people were scrambling to get their treasures under cover. So by the time I arrived it was pretty much cleared out.
At that point I decided to find my Delegate’s new office. It’s a modest little room above Roadie Joe’s downtown, but he had some good folks in there for its grand opening: County Councilmen Larry Dodd and Marc Kilmer stopped by as did Salisbury City Council candidate Muir Boda, who made it official today as he filed. I didn’t get a very good picture of the Carl Anderton district office, but my friends Jackie Wellfonder and Julie Brewington did. Find them on social media.
A few of those aforementioned folks were downstairs grabbing dinner as Dark Gold Jazz was playing. So I sat in with them: the dinner eaters, not the band. (Although I own a guitar, I can’t play an instrument to save my life.)
They did about the longest version of “Hey Joe” I’ve ever heard. I don’t drink all that fast but I swear I drank half my beer during the song. Luckily, I like the tune so it worked.
But as people drifted off to other locales like Headquarters Live, I took a few minutes to stroll the Plaza.
The sky was still rather turbulent as I left.
It’s funny because Kim was in Ocean City this evening with the kids (daughter and friend) and it looked nice and sunny there from the video I saw. Welcome to Delmarva, huh? From what I heard, though, 3F was rather packed before the rains came.
So it wasn’t exactly the Third Friday I planned but it was nice to catch up with some old friends nonetheless.
Editor’s note: Read more
As I’ve often pointed out in this feature, the relievers who immediately back up the starters from the 5th or 6th inning on are also an important part of the staff. Oftentimes they are the starters in waiting and get their own rotation of sorts; one which may have a slightly shorter cycle than every fifth or sixth day.
So while he has made just one spot start this season (as part of an April doubleheader) Stefan Crichton has proved to be one of our most effective relievers. Until his last outing against Kannapolis Monday night, Stefan had driven his ERA below 2, and if there ever was a time for a letdown inning having an 11-2 lead might be that time. When it’s his turn Crichton generally keeps the Shorebirds in the game or holds the lead, as he has two multi-inning saves to his credit this season.
Stefan is one of those who is slowly rising through the system. While he went to a well-regarded program at Texas Christian, Crichton wasn’t selected by the Orioles until round 23 of the 2013 draft and began his career with a stint in the Gulf Coast League. Last year he remained in short-season ball with Aberdeen, so this year was Crichton’s first taste of spring baseball since college. It also lags him as a slightly older player than league average, although he’s only celebrated five actual birthdays (Stefan has the distinction of a February 29 birthday.)
For the season, Crichton’s record is only 1-2 with a 2.72 ERA. However, he has a very solid 1.13 WHIP and that’s mainly because he rarely walks a batter – just 7 this year in 39 2/3 innings and only 17 in 107 professional frames. Last year at Aberdeen he had a 40/7 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings, so while the strikeouts are harder to come by at this level he’s also cut down on hits allowed from 56 last season to just 38 so far this go-round. Allowing less than one hit per inning is a good way to cut the WHIP and ERA, and he’s done both from his 2014 season with the IronBirds.
As we reach the halfway point of the season, I would expect Stefan to have a chance at promotion but could also see him leading what’s become a depleted staff due to a rash of injuries. While he has pitched as many as six innings in a game in his career, the Shorebirds don’t seem to be stretching him out to be a starter as he was in his professional debut season. Crichton seems to have found his niche and there’s not much reason to change him now.
Book review: The Long War and Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War! by Donna H. Hearne
Reviewed by Cathy Keim
I was out weeding my flowerbeds this afternoon, which is very therapeutic. You feel like you can bring order to chaos with a little sweat and elbow grease. The satisfaction is temporary though as you know those weeds will be back quickly, especially after a good rain.
This brought to mind the book that I just finished, The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War!, by Donna H. Hearne. The current struggle against Common Core is just the newest battle in a continuous onslaught from the progressive educational community to capture our children’s hearts and minds. Valiant parents and teachers have fought against Progressive Education in the 1930s, Secular Humanist Education in the 1950s, and Outcome Based Education in the 1990s. “All of these strategies are based on the premise of “progressive experts,” instead of mom, dad and the teacher, setting common standards for all children. And since these secular, utopian standards drive the curriculum and assessments, local control of education cease to be a reality.” (Hearne 3)
Like the weeds in my flowerbeds, these bad ideas just keep popping up. Even now several states are rebranding Common Core because of the fierce resistance from parents. But just because the name changes, it doesn’t mean that the standards have changed.
Donna Hearne is well equipped to take up the challenge of documenting the twists and turns of our academic wars in America. According to her Amazon biography, Hearne “is executive director of The Constitutional Coalition and has a degree in elementary education from Washington University, St. Louis. She is a writer, a radio talk show host for thirty-plus years, and currently serves on a local school board. From 1981-1991, she worked in the U.S. Department of Education. Appointed by President Reagan, she served on several policy-making boards, with an appointment in 1988 to America 2000, the forerunner of Goals 2000 as her last appointment.”
I attended the 26th Educational Conference hosted by the Constitutional Coalition back in January of this year. Donna mentioned her book then as she was just sending it to the publisher. Her goal in writing this book was to equip parents to understand the history of the war that they are now a part of and how to protect their children while fighting to wrench control of their schools back from the federal government.
This book is a compact 141 pages including appendices and endnotes. The goal was to make a Reader’s Digest type condensed book that would point the reader to the facts, equip them with information for further research if they desired, but to be a fast-paced quick read for busy people.
Donna was successful in this endeavor. The book is so tightly woven that it is hard to pull a quote without wanting to just keep going. It is difficult to condense it any further.
She introduces you to the big players like Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist, who coined the phrase “the long march through culture” (Hearne 4), as well as John Dewey who reportedly said, “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists – children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent” (Hearne 3), and our current high priest of teacher education, Bill Ayers.
She presents the Frankfurt School, a Communist think tank officially called the Institute for Social Research that was started in Germany in 1922 by George Lukacs, a Hungarian aristocrat turned communist. The Frankfurt school moved to the USA in the 1930s and 1940s where John Dewey’s sponsorship gave them access to Teacher’s College at Columbia University, the premier teaching institution in the USA. From there its graduates filled more that 60% of all teaching and educational and administrative posts in the country.
Here are a few of the goals of the Frankfurt School: “creation of racism offenses…teaching of sex and homosexuality to children…huge immigration to destroy identity…encouraging the breakdown of the family” (Hearne 40). These bullet points sound just like what we see happening all around us.
Donna addresses the problems with the science standards and the literature/history standards. “The traditional/classical liberal arts education laid down foundational truths and built sequentially, logically, and contextually on those foundations, ultimately creating an ever-widening knowledge base upon which any vocation or pursuit of life could draw upon and transition into.” (Hearne 98)
The current concept tosses out the old and teaches fractured thinking where the student is exposed to lots of information without any context. Since they cannot organize the random facts in any meaningful fashion, their brains become cluttered with irrelevant facts and the brain does not develop in an orderly way.
The examples will drive the claims home to you. If you think that you do not have to worry about Common Core because you homeschool your child or send them to private school, think again. There will be no escape for any student that wants to continue on to college because the entrance exams will be the choke point. Your student will not be able to pass if they do not conform to the standards.
Do not despair! There is a whole chapter called Solutions to help you take your knowledge and make a difference. The first Appendix has questions and answers about Common Core. This appendix is invaluable for the clear, succinct answers that you can use when talking to friends and politicians about Common Core.
Donna Hearne really did a great job of putting together a fast paced, highly readable book about an extremely important topic. If you care about fighting Common Core, this is the book to get you started.
When I talk to people about the big issues of the day, many are discouraged and feel helpless. Take heart from the weeds in your garden. They will always be there, but you are not helpless. Go pull some weeds, beat back the jungle, and see how much better you feel. Now do the same with the neverending battle over the educational system. Get educated and then do one thing with your newfound knowledge. Taking charge of your life and resisting the educational behemoth will change your attitude. You can make a difference.
As if last year’s election results weren’t enough evidence that the Maryland Republican Party is leading a charmed life, look what happens when you schedule your largest fundraiser of the year with Donald Trump as your guest speaker: he decides to announce a presidential run just days before his scheduled appearance. It goes without saying that the media attention and kudos Baltimore County received from having fellow candidate Senator Rand Paul will also accrue to the state party. If the party draws a full house, I’m sure someone will try and take the credit for being smart enough to grab Trump as a speaker.
Yet there are also the possibilities that the room won’t be all that packed, Trump will deliver a horrific stump speech, or one of his hairs will slide out of place. Nor is it unprecedented to have a presidential aspirant at the event – Newt Gingrich was on the campaign trail when he keynoted the 2011 event. Maybe “the Donald” will actually start putting together an issues page for his campaign website based on what he reveals to the Maryland GOP next week, and hopefully we don’t find out he’s all sizzle and no steak when it comes to politics.
But the nice thing about all these happy coincidences is that Maryland may actually matter in the presidential sweepstakes. It’s not likely the field will be more than two to four by the time our primary rolls around on April 26, but we do have proximity to the major media markets. And while the attention is certainly on the early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s a good time for campaigns to get their volunteers in order.
The question, though, is what Trump’s somewhat unexpected entry (after talking about running for several previous election cycles then backing away) means for the rest of the field.
Obviously we have the celebrity aspect to consider. Besides a bank account ample enough to self-fund a presidential run which could cost the winner $1 billion, the thing Trump brings to the race is instant name recognition – love him or hate him, one does not have to be a policy wonk to know the name. Political junkies like me know who John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham are, but the average guy on the street is only aware of two presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton and (maybe) Jeb Bush. With Trump the GOP has star power, enough that few are talking about Jeb Bush’s formal entry into the fray yesterday.
That’s also important given the “top ten” debate rules in place for this cycle on the GOP side. While I had a better idea of multiple debates with randomly-selected groups of 5 to 7 apiece, there are now 12 formal entrants with Bobby Jindal slated to make it official next week and fellow governors Chris Christie and John Kasich still making noises about climbing into this free-for-all. Based on simple name recognition Trump should make that top ten easily and he better know how to deal with being on television.
The debate rule may be the key in culling the field before the summer is out. Those who are already starved for attention because they have no poll traction will probably see their campaigns wither on the vine because they can’t get into the debates.
And if Donald Trump alienates enough people, all his money won’t be able to buy him a spot. That will be the reason to watch his campaign as it unfolds, beginning next week with the Maryland GOP.
I don’t think I have ever heard of someone making their intentions known for a local office three years before the filing deadline, but today I received word from 2014 gubernatorial candidate Ron George that he’s running again…for Maryland Senate.
But in a way this move makes sense. Let’s hear what he had to say in a release today:
(George) was drawn out of the district during redistricting after receiving more votes than either Speaker Michael Busch or Senator John Astle. He was in the process of moving closer to his Main Street business when he was approached by former constituents and elected officials who urged him to run.
Mr. George says, “I intend to build on my record of strong constituent service, fiscal responsibility, and constructive solutions to the problems of the district and state. I look forward to bringing fiscal conservative-solution oriented government to the State Senate.”
As for the early start, George said, “I know the district and its citizens well, but I want to knock on every door and hear from each person. The early start will also help in meeting our fundraising goals.”
Fair enough. I’m sure some Republicans were disappointed that they did not oust Senator John Astle from his seat, as Don Quinn lost by fewer than 1,200 votes out of nearly 44,000 cast. It’s a winnable seat, and George correctly noted he outpolled both Astle and Speaker Busch in 2010 as the leading vote-getter in that former configuration of District 30.
This move may also tend to push people out of the Senate race; however, the current District 30 already has two Republican delegates (Herb McMillan in District 30A and Seth Howard in District 30B. It also has Speaker Busch, who actually had fewer votes than McMillan but still finished comfortably in second place.
It also gives George an opportunity to dust off some of his old campaign rhetoric that didn’t play as well with a conservative statewide electorate:
While serving in the General Assembly, Mr. George was nicknamed the Green Elephant for solutions for the environment that did not raise taxes or hurt farmers, watermen, local businesses, or residents along the bay. These solutions included energy net metering and wind energy that supplemented the grid and other energy sources while lowering energy bills.
That tends to play better in Anne Arundel County than on places like the lower Eastern Shore.
So our friends in the Anne Arundel County GOP have one less seat to worry about as far as finding a fairly strong candidate goes. While a lot can happen in three years, it should make for an interesting race should this come to pass.
There have been occasions in the recent past where I wrote about state efforts to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, or PCUCPA for short. Needless to say, the concept is one that’s dead on arrival in a Democratic-controlled General Assembly here in Maryland, and that’s been PCUCPA’s fate in its various incarnations over the last several years.
But its fate is far different in states where the unborn are valued as people having a right to life as guaranteed in our Declaration of Independence. As Casey Mattox notes at RedState, there are fourteen states which have their own version of the law, although the enforcement of three have been halted for various (and likely dubious) legal reasons. Better still, a PCUCPA passed the House last month (with opposition mainly provided by liberal Democrats) and awaits action in the Senate.
Obviously the road to passage will become a lot more difficult in the Senate; my suspicion is that the PCUCPA will be filibustered to death because all but one or two of the 45 Democrats there will vote against cloture. It may not even get to 55 votes given the tendency of a couple Republicans to be squishy on pro-life issues. And even if the five Democrats necessary to gain cloture see the light and vote that way – assuming all 55 Republicans get on board, of course – the hurdle would get a lot taller once Barack Obama vetoes the bill, as he certainly would.
However, the bill is also useful in the sense that it may encourage other states without the law – but where most of the Congressional delegation voted for PCUCPA – to try and enact their own versions of it. To me, this is where the battle is properly fought. I may not like the fact that Maryland is a far-left loony bin of a state, but if those people who live there wish to foul their own nest with immoral laws it’s just going to make me have to work a little harder to change hearts and minds. As a citizen therein, I have just as much claim to moral superiority as any of them do. While it may seem counter-intuitive, I don’t believe in Constitutional amendments banning abortion or establishing marriage as between one man and one woman at this time – however, I reserve the right to change my mind on this in the future. Once upon a time I was against term limits, too.
Yet even if you don’t believe life begins at conception, the action of taking the life of a fetus barely a week away from viability (the earliest known premature baby to survive gestated in less than 22 weeks) and proven through research to be capable of feeling pain should be obvious. At this point in the process it should be obvious to the woman carrying the child that she is pregnant.
On the other hand, I have no doubt that those who are militantly pro-abortion are all for abortion up to and including the trip through the birth canal. (In extreme cases, the right doesn’t even stop at birth.) This is the “choice” some would have us believe is a viable option.
The other reason PCUCPA won’t get through Congress is the reason Mattox touched upon – the Left is very afraid that taking a case against PCUCPA would result in the Supreme Court revisiting Roe v. Wade and vacating their previously ill-considered decision – no more ersatz “right to privacy” and restoration of the states’ rights to choose their own path. As slowly as the wheels of justice turn, it may be a case heard under the next administration so it will be interesting to see if any SCOTUS changes play out during the 2016 campaign.
I think it was the wail of the organ a couple bars into his new single, but if this is the musical direction newly-minted solo artist Jared Deck is planning to take, he may be in for a long career as a purveyor of a distinctive rockabilly sound that’s as wide open as the prairies surrounding his Oklahoma home.
I really wish I had a larger bit of context than the single “17 Miles,” but as it stands Jared is following up his affiliation with the self-described “cowpunk” band Green Corn Revival. (The red, white, and blue guitar made famous by the late country singer Buck Owens is a great touch, too.) Once GCR ran its course, Jared decided to strike off in a solo direction and this anthemic single is the first result.
And while this isn’t part of a larger project at the moment Deck is promising new work, stating on the GCR website:
I am writing more than ever, but closer to the roots on which I was musically raised. It’s an exciting turn that I hope you’ll follow.
Take a listen and see if you agree. Now the question becomes one of how to market the sound.
If you believe that the new wave of country artists have come closer and closer together, to the point where you have no idea if you’re listening to Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, or any of those others who fall perilously toward painting a country tune by the numbers with the requisite homages to drunkenness, chasing women, and tearing up the back roads in their old pickup trucks, you may be searching for something different yet familiar. This song could fit your fancy.
Similarly, if you are looking for something where the singer isn’t screaming and the bass isn’t set to a pulsating level – but still want a tune that can kick you in the pants – this isn’t a bad choice either.
Jared straddles well a line that used to exist between country and rock, before the former borrowed liberally enough from the latter’s elements to the point where artists like Kid Rock, Bon Jovi, and Steven Tyler flirt with the country genre while Zac Brown performs a song with rocker Chris Cornell that gets regular airplay on modern rock radio. “17 Miles” is a long distance from those generic efforts, instead carving out a sound that’s attractive because it’s off the beaten, well-worn path.
Let’s put it this way. I would love to see two things: first, an entire album from Deck to see if it would indeed land among my top picks for the year, and second, a tour which comes this way. We have a market and a venue that I think could be fertile ground for him, even without the tumbleweed.
With the problem of new media in the form of the RedState Gathering being held on the same weekend – and drawing the attention of most of the Republican candidates – the plug was pulled on the Iowa Straw Poll for this year.
While it was a bellweather event, the ISP was not a very good forecaster, even of the Iowa caucuses held just a few short months later. Out of six events from 1979-2011, the summer winner only went on to win the Iowa caucuses half the time and whiffed in both 2007 and 2011. Only in 1999, when George W. Bush won, was the winner the man who went on to be president. Not a really good track record.
But the poll did have some effects on the field – ask Tim Pawlenty about his 2012 campaign which ended shortly after his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann won the last event in 2011. Then again, that was just about the peak of Bachmann’s campaign, which ended immediately after the 2012 Iowa caucuses. In fact, the leftist publication Mother Jones mockingly thanked Bachmann for killing the Straw Poll.
While straw polls can be useful, their function of being a prediction of eventual support for candidates was superseded by both regular polling and social media. Want to know who the hot candidate is? Just check out the number of Facebook likes for their campaign. For example, Rand Paul recently eclipsed the 2-million mark in “likes” and Ben Carson is north of 1.5 million, whereas a candidate like Lindsey Graham isn’t even to 114,000 yet. (By comparison, Hillary Clinton has about 885,000 and our old buddy Martin O’Malley 70,855.) It took me five minutes to find that information and, unlike the Iowa Straw Poll, I didn’t have to pay for dinner nor go to Iowa to participate.
So this year it looks like we will have to wait until later this fall to start eliminating candidates. I have already started with my research, though, and over the coming weeks I’ll share what I’m finding as I make my own decision on who to back for 2016.
The last of the triumvirate of Shorebird SAL All-Stars to be a Shorebird of the Week, it’s not that I planned on waiting to include Steve Wilkerson, but he was sidelined by an injury the last couple weeks and one of my “rules” is that a player needs to be on the active roster.
But since coming off the disabled list after a 2 1/2 week stay, Steve is 2-for-5, increasing an already stellar average to .313 (although earlier in May he was up to a .323 mark.) It’s been a complete turnaround from his initial pro season, where Wilkerson stumbled to a .190/2/15/.519 OPS slash line with Aberdeen last year.
However, the Georgia native by way of Clemson University seems to have figured things out over the winter as he’s brought his OPS up from that anemic .519 mark to a solid .820, well above average. (An “average” OPS, which is the sum of on-base percentage and slugging percentage, is around .700 or so.) Bumping the batting average up over 100 points is a good way to help that statistic out, but he’s also drawn 21 walks in just 33 games, compared to 14 last season in 60 contests. That increase in on-base percentage is powering his game and has led him to be selected as an SAL All-Star.
Wilkerson, who turned 23 in January, is another Shorebird player who spurned a draft offer out of high school, turning down the Red Sox to go to Clemson as a 15th round pick in 2010. Four years later, he came out as an 8th round selection of the Orioles, so there are some pretty big expectations from Steve. It also may explain why he got another chance despite a subpar initial season where a lower-round pick may not have.
Unlike a number of other infielders in the Orioles system, Wilkerson has primarily played second base during his tenure, occasionally filling in at shortstop. His fielding has also improved over last season, making him a prime candidate for promotion before the end of the year. Having played only 33 games, though, the powers that be may decide he needs to string together several weeks of action before the decision is made.
If Steve keeps his average around the .300 mark, though, his performance will make the choice to promote quite easy.