The end of a week

The other night I wrote on Facebook that I was physically and mentally spent, and I meant it – the combination of a grueling work week at my outside job and the climax of the 2012 campaign was all I could handle and then some. I still don’t feel caught up and it’s been four days since balloting ended.

But I did get to see a story in the Washington Times about Maryland being a lonely state for Republicans. I don’t know how many years in the wilderness we have to go, but I am tired of the Fall Convention immediately after an election being like a wake.

What really took the cake, though, was a comment I received on Election Day post, haranguing the conservative movement for believing the re-election of Barack Obama was about free stuff. Well, what else could it be? Oh wait, perhaps it was that whole “war on women” bullshit mixed in as well, with a healthy dose of class warfare for good measure. As she (at least I think it’s a she) notes,

Did you lose every swing state because people in those states “want stuff”, setting aside the fact that people in the red states absolutely “get stuff” in higher percentages from the federal government than people in blue states? It is this patronizing attitude that will bring down the Republican Party – you cannot possibly fathom that people who voted for the other guy might have other motivations than “they want stuff.”

I’d love to see the proof of her assertion, but I’d also love to know what motivated the other side besides the items I brought up. It certainly wasn’t Obama’s economic or job creation record.

Yet it’s worthy of note that about 10 million fewer people believed the Obama story this time; sadly, about 3 million believed Mitt Romney less than they did John McCain. To me that’s the most worrisome part. I voted for Romney even though he was far from my first choice in the primary; those who were behind him from the start generally felt that he was the most “electable.” Obviously for the second time in a row they were wrong because Mitt Romney isn’t taking the oath of office come January. We’re stuck with another four years of this nightmarish regime, which will likely be detrimental on steroids given that Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again and has more “flexibility.”

Obviously the only perfect candidate in my eyes would be me, and I’m not running for president. You’ll be lucky if I run for Central Committee again the way things are going.

In this country, though, we have to face the fact that our current path is unsustainable. The problem is anyone with that message won’t be elected (ask Ron Paul followers.) The time for a band-aid approach is long past, but here we are treating the skin blemish of jacking up taxes on the so-called wealthy when there’s a gaping financial wound of entitlement spending which won’t be addressed.

If you had that motivation and still voted for the other guy, I’m not sure I or anyone else can talk you back from that state of delusion. Recovering from that generally takes a proverbial smack upside the head by a 2×4 – just don’t be surprised when that day comes.

Election Day 2012 in pictures and text

To be honest, the picture part of this will be pretty lean. But here’s one of all the signage lined up along Glen Avenue:

Signage along Glen Avenue.

This Election Day was a little unusual because I had to work – in previous years I was able to use a vacation day but my outside job is extremely busy this time of year. So I didn’t get to my assigned polling place (which happens to also be my voting location) until about 2:30.

As I noted on Facebook, the Obama representative was already there.

Obama's empty chair in full force.

It is worth noting that in the time I was there I had only a few campaigners keep me company: one from the Bongino campaign who was there throughout, one volunteer representing the Maryland Marriage Alliance who was there about 3/4 of the time (and had also been there in the morning), a Democratic operative who was there for perhaps a couple hours, and at the tail end this guy:

Libertarian candidate Muir Boda.

Truthfully, by the time Muir got there I’m not sure it did much good, nor did about half of the 130 or so palm cards I had regarding the ballot questions. But he did get almost 4% of the vote, in line with previous LP candidates here.

One thing I noticed about this polling place – perhaps as opposed to the Delmarva Evangelistic Church where I had worked a couple times before and perhaps due to early voting – was that business just died after 6 p.m. or so. Once the rush of people coming from work subsided, we had little to do but talk among ourselves.

According to the state Board of Elections, just about 32,000 people came to vote on Election Day in Wicomico County after around 6,400 took advantage of early voting. So only about 1 in 6 voters decided to vote early here, but I think part of that was the crowd who used to come after 6 previously.

One thing I have heard in the post-election discussion, though, is how bad the turnout was nationwide compared to 2008.  Barack Obama lost about 10 million votes overall while Mitt Romney failed to meet John McCain’s total by a couple million votes. Give or take, about 12 million people sat this one out and the question is why. But that’s one for another day and perhaps another analyst.

What I knew, though, was when I arrived at Republican headquarters to watch the votes be counted I could tell the mood wasn’t joyous. It simply didn’t have the sound of a victory celebration, and most likely it’s because so many of us were sure and assured that Mitt Romney would pick up about 52% of the vote. Instead, it seems like Rasmussen, the group out in Colorado whose economic math forecast a Romney victory, and even the Redskin Rule were all wrong.

Instead, the evening was a disaster for conservatives in Maryland and elsewhere:

  • Despite the thought that Romney could outperform John McCain, the final totals once again reflected a 62-37 landslide for Obama. Instead of losing by 25.4% Romney lost by 25.1%, meaning that we’ll catch up by the 2264 election.
  • The good news: Ben Cardin only got 55% again. Unfortunately he won by 28 points over Dan Bongino. But even with upstart candidate Rob Sobhani taking away more votes from Dan than Ben, it’s likely the final margin would have been comparable to the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Barb Mikulski and Eric Wargotz had Sobhani saved his millions.
  • All the time and effort getting signatures to place various ballot issues on the docket seems to have gone for naught as all three of those efforts passed. The closest ballot issue was Question 6 but the destruction of traditional marriage still passed with 51.9% of the vote.
  • Far from taking advantage of the Democrats having to defend 23 of 33 Senate seats up for grabs, the GOP lost 2 seats in the chamber and now sit at a 45-55 disadvantage. While poorly considered remarks by Republicans Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana were played up in the media, they somehow failed to notice the holes in the record of Elizabeth Warren (a.k.a. “Fauxcahontas”) of Massachusetts, who won.
  • Black conservatives took a hit as well: Allen West is trailing his Democratic opponent pending absentee ballots and Mia Love lost narrowly in Utah. While the House stays in GOP hands, the margin will decrease slightly so Obama had some minor coattails.

So what do we do? Well, on that I have to ponder some more. I just know I left the GOP party once Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were called because those were the linchpins of Romney’s strategy. And it will forever be debated locally whether the Maryland GOP’s insistence on helping elsewhere may have hurt the cause of local officials, but given the large margins of defeat it likely would have made no difference.

I’ve said before that Election Day is my Super Bowl and right now I have an idea of how those who were on the wrong side of the blowouts common during the 1980s and 1990s felt in the days afterward. I have a low opinion of many in my adopted home state who eschew logic and rational thought for free stuff and feelgood policies which will be detrimental in the long run.

But there is always hope and another election coming around the corner. The work has already started for that one.

An Election Day reminder

While we’ve always been led to believe everything about our voting process is on the up-and-up, there are occasions where the deck may be stacked in favor of a certain candidate or issue, or someone associated with them takes matters into their own hands. Last week I added a piece to the Patriot Post about an incident in Racine, Wisconsin, for example.

Those who volunteered their time to help True the Vote and their partner organizations (like Election Integrity Maryland) have one final Election Day message: be aware and alert.

If you want to make a difference on November 6th, True the Vote has a job for you,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “Election integrity captured the American conscience with a rough cell phone video of New Black Panthers intimidating voters in Pennsylvania in 2008. Intimidation and electioneering is illegal inside and outside of polls. You have the power to be America’s eyes and ears.”

Concerned citizens are encouraged to report any incidents outside of polling locations with True the Vote’s official Election Integrity Hotline. Citizens may submit incidents over the phone by dialing 855-444-6100. Descriptions and photos should be directed to True the Vote will verify credible reports and submit those appropriate local authorities.

True the Vote produced a brief training video explaining best practices and procedures encouraging citizens to film any wrongdoing, available on YouTube.

I’m not crazy about the way the video was put together, but the point remains the same.

I have to disagree with one aspect of the law which pertains in Maryland, though: if there is some sort of issue inside the polling place, I think it would be advantageous to make a record of it. Obviously if nothing is amiss there’s no need to be walking around with the cel phone doing your own impersonation of James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, but have it at the ready just in case something is worth noting. (Bear in mind also that Maryland is a two-party state, so you can’t record someone else without their consent. In those cases, you may want to make sure you have witnesses to verify what you’ve stated, such as poll watchers.) So good judgment is key; hopefully there’s no issues to deal with anyway.

Yet some years ago I was witness to an incident where a City Council candidate in my hometown brought a number of coffee mugs bearing his name to the poll workers. The only two who objected were the Republicans (who also happened to be my neighbors.) But it has to be asked how many other polling places he visited in the district where no one objected? That’s why we all need to be vigilant.

I’ll see you at the polls. I’m not sure which one just yet, but rest assured I will find a way to do my campaigning. For me, today is the Super Bowl and I’m ready to claim victory tonight!

After all the shouting

We’re just about through the last weekend of the 2012 campaign, and hopefully by late Tuesday night we will have a good idea of where the country will be heading over the next four years (or perhaps four decades, should the incumbent win.) Of course that’s assuming we have no protracted recounts such as we endured 12 years ago – the prospect of two such occurrences in a lifetime boggles the mind.

Yet regardless of what happens Tuesday life will go on, and the sun will come up Wednesday. I’ll still have my work to do as will most of the rest of us who don’t toil for candidates.

I’ve always been about thinking two to three steps ahead where possible, which is why I’m writing this postmortem of sorts on the Sunday before the election. (It’s also why I wrote my book and eschewed the normal publishing process to get it to market prior to the campaign season hitting high gear. Did it cost me some sales? Perhaps, but readers can remedy that situation easily enough as I link to the sales sites from monoblogue.)

Just in the next three months there are a lot of political stories still to be written, from the local to the national. Here in my adopted hometown of Salisbury, the mayoral race will take center stage. No one has formally declared for the office yet, but it’s highly likely we’ll have at least two (and possibly three) candidates: incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton will go for a second term, realtor Adam Roop made it known almost a year ago he was seeking some unspecified office – his two choices are a City Council district seat or mayor – and recent transplant and blogger Joe Albero has made his own overtures. At least he’s invested in the shirts:

That will probably begin to play out in the next couple weeks.

After that we begin the holiday season, which may be politicized to a certain extent as well. My thought is that if Barack Obama wins, the early predictions of a modest year-over-year growth will hold true or end up slightly lower than imagined. I seem to recall last year started out like gangbusters on Black Friday but tailed off once those big sales came to an end. On the other hand, a Mitt Romney win may open up the purse strings and result in an increase twice of what was predicted. I think seeing him win with a GOP Congress will boost consumer confidence overnight as they figure the long national nightmare is over.

Once the holidays are over, it’s then time for both the 113th Congress to get started and, more importantly for local matters, the “90 days of terror” better known as the Maryland General Assembly session to begin. In the next few weeks I will finally wrap up my annual monoblogue Accountability Project for 2012 in order to hold our General Assembly members accountable for all the good and bad votes they made in the three 2012 sessions. With so much written about in 2012 on my part, I had to put that project on the back burner for most of the fall.

At the same time, state races for 2014 will begin to take shape. Unlike the last three gubernatorial elections we do not have the prospect of a candidate named Ehrlich in the race, which leaves the field wide open. While the three who have made overtures toward running on the GOP side have already made their presence known, only one (Blaine Young) has formally announced and the conventional wisdom (such that there is for Maryland GOP politics) labels him as the longest shot of the three most-rumored candidates, the other two being early 2010 candidate Larry Hogan and outgoing Harford County Executive David Craig.

But there are also down-ticket statewide races to consider as well, and there’s a decent chance that both Attorney General and Comptroller may become open seats as Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot, respectively, consider a race for Governor. (While there are three hopefuls so far for governor on the GOP side, there may be at least five on the Democratic side: Gansler, Franchot, current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Delegate Heather Mizeur.)

The GOP bench is a little shorter for the downticket positions at this time, but I believe William Campbell is willing to reprise his 2010 Comptroller run and wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Shalleck doesn’t make sure he’s on the ballot this time for Attorney General. Another intriguing name for the AG position would be 2010 U.S. Senate candidate (and attorney) Jim Rutledge, who obviously has the advantage of having already run statewide. On the other side, I’m hearing that State Senator Brian Frosh (who generally serves as a dictatorial Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is one name in the mix for AG, but another intriguing one is former First District Congressman Frank Kratovil, who is now a judge in Queen Anne’s County.

So the beat will go on after this year’s election is over. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve had some great readership numbers over the last few weeks, but the last couple weeks in particular have blown me away. The trick, though, will be maintaining the audience through a period where fewer discuss politics and more concentrate on friends and family during the holiday season. I won’t be so presumptuous to believe that my humble little site should be uppermost on everyone’s mind, but I hope to roll into year number 8 of monoblogue in grand style.

Dirty tricks on Question 7? (updated)

A source forwarded these pictures to me. While I cannot ascertain the accuracy of the allegations because the forwarded photos aren’t of the best quality, the message seems to be that someone in Montgomery County is playing dirty pool with Question 7 signs.

A truck collecting anti-Question 7 signs

It’s harder to tell because of the photo resolution, but allegedly other “No on 7” signs which remained along that same road had pro-Question 7 signs placed immediately in front of them.

Double signage.

Obviously someone feels that the close poll results justify the means necessary to take and/or cover signs. The more interesting one is the truck full of brush and “no on 7” signs.

It’s not as bad as this vandalism from Worcester County, but nonetheless it’s troubling that one side is taking it upon itself to hide the truth.

Romney signs vandalized in Worcester County.

There are millions of dollars at stake in the Question 7 election, not to mention the nine-figure sum spent by both sides combined in the race. So it’s not a shock that some people take it too far, but it is disappointing.

Update: I received a pro-Question 7 mailing yesterday which prominently featured former GOP party chairs Michael Steele and Audrey Scott under the Republican elephant and banner headline “Republican Leaders Support Question 7.” Obviously this mailing was targeted to Republicans because I received one.

But the real truth is that the state party took no official stand on the issue, although our county party officially stands against Question 7. There’s nothing new about Audrey Scott and I being on opposite sides of an issue, but I previously commented on a letter sent to me from the pair a few weeks ago. Perhaps the fact Audrey’s son is working for the Question 7 advocates had something to do with her stance?

Calling the questions

Because early voting begins tomorrow, I feel it’s necessary to talk about how Maryland voters should vote on the statewide issues they’ll face in the election. A total of seven questions are on the statewide ballot – four of them referred by action of the General Assembly and three of them via referendum. This is the first time since 1992 that state voters will have the option to overturn previously passed measures from the Maryland General Assembly and potentially break a forty-year string of honoring the General Assembly’s will.

I’m going to go down the questions in order, but Questions 1 and 2 are essentially similar – they just affect different jurisdictions.

Question 1 reads as follows:

Requires judges of the Orphans’ Court for Prince George’s County to be admitted to practice law in this State and to be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar.

Substitute the word “Baltimore” for “Prince George’s” and you have Question 2.

Apparently the idea has spread that only an attorney and member of the Maryland Bar can understand the law as it relates to probate law. Now my understanding is that current Orphans’ Court judges who aren’t members of the Bar need to have certain decisions reviewed by a licensed attorney, but this process doesn’t seem to be an issue in most jurisdictions. The people of Prince George’s and Baltimore counties are already free to elect a standing member of the Maryland Bar if they feel the person is qualified to take on the task of Orphans’ Court Judge, but in not making that a requirement it allows people who are in other related occupations or even just those with simple common sense to hold these positions.

Further, while the ballot issues only affect Baltimore and Prince George’s counties now, it’s only a matter of time before the legal lobby gets this to be a statewide prohibition. That would artificially limit the pool of qualified applicants in many smaller counties in the same respect that only a small number are allowed to be State’s Attorney. It prevents turnover in the position, even if someone who may do a better job but lacks a legal qualification comes along.

Rather than set this further precedent (which started in the 2010 election with Baltimore City) I recommend a vote AGAINST both Questions 1 and 2.

Question 3 was also referred by the General Assembly:

Changes the point at which an elected official charged with certain crimes is automatically suspended or removed from office. Under existing law, an elected official who is convicted or pleads no contest is suspended and is removed only when the conviction becomes final. Under the amended law, an elected official is suspended when found guilty and is removed when the conviction becomes final or when the elected official pleads guilty or no contest.

To be quite honest, this ballot language is confusing to me. As I think I read it, basically an elected official who pleads guilty or no contest also forfeits his office. But an honorable public servant wouldn’t get into the situation in the first place.

I don’t see the need to change existing law and on my ballot I’m going to vote against it. But insofar as recommendations go I will remain neutral.

Question 4 is the first of three brought to the ballot via referendum back in 2011.

Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

First of all, the opening sentence is wrong – they are not “undocumented immigrants,” they are “illegal aliens.”

And the argument that these families have to pay taxes is a red herring – they only have to file. Chances are they’re going to get a refund from claiming the child credit so in that instance they are a net taker of government largess.

This bill is also disingenuous in the fact that these illegal aliens will pay in-state tuition rates but for official enrollment counts will be deemed out-of-state students. So why are they entitled to pay in-state tuition again?

Aside from the last sentence, which according to Delegate Pat McDonough was the original intent of the bill until hijacked by illegal immigration advocates like CASA de Maryland, this ballot issue is a trainwreck for hard-working and legal Maryland residents.

Don’t fall for the sob stories presented by supporters – I urge a vote AGAINST Question 4.

Question 5 was also made necessary via petition, although it had the slimmest measure of success and made the signature threshold with fewer than 60,000 valid signatures (slightly over 55,000 were required.) It is also perhaps the most poorly-worded item on the ballot.

Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

I don’t know who dreamed up this description, but they left out the obvious word: “gerrymandered.”

It’s worth noting that Maryland Republicans created a map which was very elegant in its simplicity and only carved up a handful of counties in a relatively sensible manner. Of course, that was ignored by the Democrats who drew up our current abortion of a map, with districts resembling Rorschach ink blots. Their main objective was to set up State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola with his own Congressional seat but that plan was foiled by John Delaney.

Of course, there are those who prefer the current lines because they see a slight partisan advantage for themselves and, indeed, we run the risk of an even worse map should the current lines be tossed out. But I’ll take my chances. Vote AGAINST Question 5.

Next up is the petition which secured the most signatures – over 200,000 at last count as thousands continued to pour in months after the official deadline. Here is Question 6 in legalese:

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

The other day I posted a video which explains well the overall argument against same-sex marriage, but one other point I’ve heard refutes the religious exemption fig leaf: that only applies until some clergy member creates the precedent of marrying a same-sex couple. Once precedent is established, there’s less legal recourse for recalcitrant clergy to refuse to perform ceremonies, much like those religious organizations which provide health insurance for their employees are being forced to cover birth control and abortions via federal edict. Those portions of the law would be the first to be struck down in any liberal court of law, and Maryland has enough of those to make it a slam dunk.

Honestly I don’t care who sleeps with who, but marriage should remain as being between a man and a woman – it’s for the children. Vote AGAINST Question 6.

Finally, we come to Question 7, which has been – by far – the one generating the most media attention thanks to nearly nine figures of spending by various casino interests. In all honesty, it’s a battle between gaming concerns Penn National and MGM for the hearts and minds of Maryland voters. Penn National has casinos in Charles Town, West Virginia and Perryville, Maryland which would be hurt by the competition a new casino would provide while MGM finally got a sweetheart deal from the state it could accept since they chose not to bid on any of the five original casinos provided by state voters in 2008.

Question 7 reads:

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George’s County?

I’ve already talked about this issue at length so I see no need to reinvent the wheel, whether it’s roulette or otherwise. Vote AGAINST Question 7.

Because of my inclination to disfavor Question 3, it will be an easy trip down the ballot for me – no, no, no, and so forth. But on the Wicomico County Questions A through D, all deserve support as they were carefully thought out by a Charter Review Committee whose judgement I trust. These are outlined on page 2 of our sample proof ballot here.

Of the four, perhaps the weakest link is Question C because of the removal of the residency requirement. But while a 2/3 majority doesn’t seem like a lot, having a seven-person County Council translates to a 5-2 majority. I’d be a little more hesitant with a nine-person County Council and 6-3 requirement but that’s not in the cards anytime soon.

The others are good ideas, particularly Question A. Having experienced the Council replacement process I would have liked an additional 15 days to make a better-informed decision.

So now you know how this voter will fill out his ballot, and I suggest you do the same.


A volunteer effort

Those of us who are political junkies have likely done a sign wave someplace where you gather a few supporters and simply stand in a high-traffic area excitedly promoting your candidate. Normally we do these in front of our headquarters or along U.S. 50 to catch weekend traffic bound for Ocean City.

But this one would be hard to top – 2 1/2 miles along Rockville Pike in Montgomery County, Maryland. Yes, it’s considered a liberal hotbed but in the words of the subject of this excitement, “we concede no ground.”

Campaigns can be interesting things; the stuff lifelong friendships are made of. But one has to ponder how people who have their best interests at heart couldn’t vote for a candidate with a good background of public service as a law enforcement officer and Secret Service agent; a guy whose stance on the issues is a great match for the state in which he lives and who has backers who care enough to get out on a Saturday, spread out along this busy thoroughfare, and express their support.

Ben Cardin can count on his special interest money and perhaps union thugs bused in for the day and given a box lunch to be his Astroturf support base. Rob Sobhani is simply trying to buy votes with 30-second commercials promoting his independence when it sounds like the only thing he’s independent from is a consistent set of principles. Maybe he could hire those few political mercenaries who would sell themselves out to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately, passion and grassroots support don’t always translate into votes, and far too few know who Dan Bongino is at this late hour. But the only way to get that name recognition is to put it out there as much as we can and hope for the best. We have a candidate who qualifies.

Good Beer Festival 2012 in pictures and text

While I’ve heard conflicting tales about attendance – I had heard 2,900 people came on Saturday while this news report claimed 4,000 – somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 people attended last weekend’s Good Beer Festival at Pemberton Park.

You can judge attendance for yourself, as I took several crowd shots over the weekend. The first group are from Saturday and were taken at 1:30 and 2:30 on Saturday. (Bear in mind the festival opened at 12:30.)

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I knew it would be a good day when I saw the lengthy line outside the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Allen Brown of Wicomico Parks and Recreation, the sponsor of the event, was holding the scissors. He was flanked by (left to right) Wicomico County Administrator Wayne Strasburg, State Senator Jim Mathias, and County Council members Stevie Prettyman, Sheree Sample-Hughes, Matt Holloway, Gail Bartkovich, and Bob Culver. Yet I noticed none of them stuck around very long, at least those I recognized.

Obviously the idea of the Good Beer Festival is to sample the brews of many different vendors, with my personal favorite being the 16 Mile brewery from Delaware.

Others, however, favored the hometown Evolution Brewery or national brands like Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, or Sierra Nevada. In all there were over 70 breweries represented.

But there was more to do than drink beer. There were games to play, like cornhole or the difficult contest shown below.

That’s my hand, by the way. Needless to say, I don’t have a knack for hooking that ring on the target.

On Sunday, the tent holding the big-screen TVs was crowded as the Ravens and Cowboys did battle.

You could even slow down and take a tour of the Pemberton house with guides in period costume like this woman.

Needless to say, there was also music – but I’m saving that for a future post.

There were also special one-day events. Saturday’s chili cookoff was a big draw, particularly considering the fall-like temperatures.

That same space was used on Sunday for a home brewer competition, which included this up-and-coming brewer from Delmar. That went better with the more summerlike weather featured on Sunday, with a high in the mid-70s.

I also ran across vendors which sold varied wares, mainly catering to a beer-drinking crowd like this apparel seller.

But this year there was a little something different. I spoke to the people working at this tent Sunday morning as I was getting reset and they said they were quite busy Saturday. No count on how many didn’t pass the test, though.

They probably didn’t have as much business Sunday, though. It was a far less crowded day, as the next series of photos taken at 2:00, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30 attest.

One benefit of the smaller Sunday crowd: a chance for some to bring out their furry friends like this little guy.

So why was I there the whole time? It’s because I coordinate the presence of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and help staff the tent. It looked a little spartan this year to begin with considering there are only three candidates running, and the absolute raid on our Romney items Saturday left me without much to give out Sunday (when I took the tent photo.)

I know my blogging friend Jackie Wellfonder also posted her thoughts on the event, but I wanted to add my two cents in as well.

We had a location which was sort of out of the way. The photo of the Pemberton house was taken from in front of my tent, so you can tell we were off to the side of the main traffic flow where I took my crowd pictures. Nevertheless, enough people found us over the weekend that we ran out of Romney signs and Romney/Harris signs. (Maybe Dan Bongino needs some Romney/Bongino signs since people were happy to have the Romney/Harris combos even if they wanted just Mitt.)

I spoke to people from Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York, Maine, and even Ohio while sitting in our little tent. While they assessed his chances of success differently, they all wanted to end this four-year national economic nightmare. Even shunted off to the side, we reached a lot of potential voters the Democrats may have missed because they weren’t there. Maybe they feel the wine (or is it whine?) crowd will be more to their liking because they will be present this coming weekend, as will we – I got my package in the mail today.

But as the sun set on Sunday – a pretty sunset at that – we found that the Good Beer Festival seems to have established itself as more or less equal to its older cousin, the Autumn Wine Festival; an event which will celebrate its tenth year at Pemberton this coming weekend. The GBF has grown quite a bit in the three years of its existence, and may soon have the pleasant problem of selecting from more local and national breweries than it has space to accommodate.

One conversation I struck up regarded the merits of the Good Beer Festival vs. Pork in the Park. While I still think Pork in the Park is the better festival overall, the GBF is closing in on a strong second place. And at a strategic time in the election calendar, it’s a resource candidates can use to establish themselves with a unique demographic. Shrewd Republicans who want to get a jump start on 2014 would be wise to make time next October and come see us. We’ll be there.

While I’m at the Autumn Wine Festival, you can review the bands which played this weekend as I’ll devote a new Weekend of Local Rock post to the twelve performers playing the GBF.

Is your Congressman protected?

Fresh off the latest fundraising scalp claimed by Barack Obama, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute has publicized a report called “America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Campaign Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections? Among its key findings are a number of disturbing facts about the President’s online contribution reporting, including these which should give advocates of good government pause: Purchased By An Obama Bundler In Shanghai, China With Questionable Business Ties to State-Run Chinese Enterprises: In 2008, was purchased by an Obama fundraiser living in Shanghai, China, whose business is heavily dependent on relationships with Chinese state-run television and other state-owned entities.

68% Of Traffic To Anonymously Registered Is Foreign: According to industry leading web analytics site Markosweb, an anonymously registered redirect site ( features 68 % foreign traffic. Starting in December 2011, the site was linked to a specific donation page on the official campaign website for ten months. The page loaded a tracking number, 634930, into a space on the website labeled “who encouraged you to make this donation.” That tracking number is embedded in the source code for and is associated with the Obama Victory Fund. In early September 2012, the page began redirecting to the standard Obama Victory Fund donation page.

So as not to pick on Barack Obama, the group also found fault with Marco Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign and also nearly half of the Congressional campaigns which accept credit card donations. Among Maryland’s nine members of Congress running this cycle, Dutch Ruppersberger (2nd District), Donna Edwards (4th District), Steny Hoyer (5th District), and Elijah Cummings (7th District) do not use this protection.

But another problem GAI noticed was the lack of accountability in federal campaigns, where amounts under $200 need not be reported unless a campaign was audited; moreover, amounts under $50 aren’t even recorded. (This is why fundraising appeals from both sides often use tiny amounts, like $3 or $5. If Barack Obama can get a million people to enter a celebrity contest, that’s $3-$5 million he collects but doesn’t have to account for. And if it’s not accounted for, the money could come from anywhere.)

It’s worth pondering that Barack Obama gets a much more significant portion of his funding from small donations than Mitt Romney does. Certainly the vast percentage of those contributions are on the up-and-up, but what if even 20% of the $600 million Obama has collected in small donations came from foreign or fraudulent sources? Erick Erickson of RedState did just that as a test, and the Obama campaign failed.

Obviously this group, led by Hoover Institution Research Fellow and author Peter Schweizer, would tend to skew toward a conservative, good-government point of view, but they bring up a lot of valid points. They dug up several examples of Obama donations being promoted and encouraged on foreign websites in their report, which runs over 100 pages.

This story is attracting notice in a lot of conservative corners (like this piece at, which could provide another plate for the mainstream media ignorance court jesters to keep spinning.

Illegal alien Question 4 debated at Salisbury University

On Wednesday night, sliced in among the debate spin on the local news, you may have seen a few sound bites spliced out of the debate held by PACE at Salisbury University. The topic: in-state tuition for illegal aliens – and yes, “illegal aliens” is the correct legal term.

Moderator Fran Kane of PACE was flanked by four participants, two taking the side for Question 4 and two against. Both sides had a Delegate and an expert, with the pro-Question 4 side featuring Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez of Montgomery County and Kim Propeack of illegal alien advocates CASA de Maryland. The pair against Question 4 were Delegate Pat McDonough of Baltimore County and Bob Dane of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

McDonough drew the opening statement for his side, making the case the debate is about another dream: the American dream. While Pat stated he was “firmly and vigorously pro-immigration,” he stated the case based on two principles: the rule of law and economic justice. Regarding the latter, “you will hear a lot of emotional and compassionate arguments” in favor of the law, but warned “you cannot govern a great nation on emotionalism.”

Bob Dane explained the purpose of FAIR, making the brash statement that “we don’t give a damn about business and their addiction to cheap immigrant labor.” The question before us, though, was one of whether to respect the rule of law or bend it to allow lawbreaking. “Being an illegal alien in Maryland is a pretty good proposition,” said Dane.

Speaking for the pro-illegal side, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez called the ballot language (which was projected on a screen beside the participants) a “wonderful summary,” claiming “there’s a lot of misinformation out there.” The bill is similar to one vetoed by then-Governor Ehrlich in 2003, Gutierrez continued, and the law applies to those here “through no fault of their own” who graduated from a Maryland high school and enrolled in community college. Moreover, those taking advantage had to have parents who filed their taxes (she started to say “paid” but caught herself) and promised to apply for permanent residency afterward.

Propeack added that the out-of-state tuition was three times the expense, which had to be paid entirely out of pocket because illegals were ineligible for aid. “We can talk about the rule of law,” Propeack countered, “but this law is broken.” Kim went on to emphasize the “diversity of support” the law had; everyone from CASA de Maryland (a “worker justice organization,” as she described it) to the unions which supported the Maryland DREAM Act “without exception.” Even 25 high schools around the state filled with what Kim referred to as “DREAMers” were supporting the ballot issue as well as a row seated within the audience.

At this point, the questions solicited from the audience were asked. It was a little muddled because Kane chose to combine a lot of specific questions into ones which were more broad.

The first question was actually covered in an opening statement, as it asked about financial aid. Gutierrez repeated that illegals weren’t eligible for aid, while Propeack added that those in Guatemala don’t have an in-state option like a Maryland college.

On the other hand, McDonough posited that the discount, which adds up to about $40,000 per student, “doesn’t come out of thin air.” The illegals displaced American students, and if 1,000 students took advantage it would cost the state $40 million per year.

This actually segued well with the next question about economic impact, where Dane asserted if we pass the DREAM Act, it’s only a matter of time before we end up in the same boat as California. It’s an “incentive for more illegal immigration,” Dane said.

Delegate Gutierrez countered that “education is our best investment” and that these students would have an opportunity to become professionals. The illegal population pays $52 million in taxes annually, added Propeack.

When asked about the Obama amnesty, Gutierrez called it an “incredible benefit.” 1.7 million can take advantage of the executive order, with 30,000 of those in Maryland. But there was no legal obligation to become a citizen, countered Dane. Instead, the DREAM Act excuses parents from their responsibility and “one amnesty benefit fuels another round of illegal immigration,” said the FAIR representative.

McDonough also remarked on the subject, reminding the audience that there was no pathway to citizenship yet established for these students.

Propeack responded by saying the impact in California, a state where the DREAM Act is already in effect, has been “very, very small.”

“This is not an immigration bill, it is an education bill,” she added.

In that same vein, answering the next question, Kim asserted that the community colleges could accommodate the students; in fact, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges is the bill’s “strongest supporter.”

Yet Dane claimed that 10 years of illegal immigration in Maryland had seen $32 billion sent away to the various homelands claimed by these workers. And with 30,000 potential students affected by the bill, Dane called it a “falsity that (community colleges) are open enrollment schools.” If they are underfunded it affects access. Moreover, “there has to be a higher principle,” said Bob.

Someone asked why it was important to be a citizen. McDonough said “the most important thing to an American is citizenship.” His fellow Delegate Gutierrez made the more emotional appeal – an immigrant herself, she told us “I would not be here as a citizen under the current laws…now we’ve closed the door.” Propeack made the statement that the law had “nothing to do with status, but the value of education.”

Finally, they were asked whether the state law would violate federal law. Propeack said the issue has been litigated and doesn’t violate federal law. But Dane disagreed, calling the Obama executive order “illegitimate, unconstitutional, and a breach of the separation of powers…the most corrupt use of a social policy.” We allow more immigration than any other country, Dane added. McDonough restated his belief that America needs to reform our immigration policy.

There was a question I had regarding how the veterans were added to the bill. Pat McDonough said that portion was actually introduced as a standalone bill, with the measure then “filled with feelgood stuff that doesn’t really matter.” That’s what I figured.

Each participant made a closing statement.

“The law will win or lose, depending on how you vote,” said Bob Dane. “The glue that holds us together…is the law.” Bob went on to say that “Maryland is heading in the wrong direction,” and concluded “the DREAM Act is an amnesty benefit…parents should not be absolved of lawbreaking.”

“You can’t be like the President and circumvent the law,” said Delegate McDonough. “There are a lot of emotional arguments…you must look at the facts” and not the “Pinocchio language” of the bill. “This is not a Disneyland for illegal aliens,” said Pat.

Delegate Gutierrez repeated her claim that “this bill does not violate any laws.” It showed the pendulum was swinging away from a “strong anti-immigrant climate.” Fairness and tolerance was “intrinsic” in the bill, said Gutierrez.

In her final remarks, Propeack quoted the president of the University of Maryland who stated “the American dream belongs to all of us, or none of us.”

The participants posed for a picture afterward. No, we did not have President Obama.

As predicted by McDonough, the side in favor of Question 4 mainly stuck to an emotional appeal, forgetting that these students will cost taxpayers real money the state doesn’t have. It’s true that we need to reform immigration laws, but this is not the direction immigration law should do as it rewards lawbreakers while putting those who did things the correct way at a disadvantage.

I thought this table of literature for support was interesting as well.

I tried to get a photo of the red bumper stickers up close, but my attempts wouldn’t come out. The reason these were fascinating was the authority line, telling me the stickers were paid for out of Delegate Gutierrez’s campaign funds.

Of course, the next question which will be considered at Salisbury University also depends greatly on emotional appeal for passage.

That forum promises to bring a full house, one likely filled with every local LGBT activist that can show up.

Thoughts on a debate

I attended two debates tonight; well, I shouldn’t say “attended” for the latter because I wasn’t at the University of Denver.

As for the earlier of the two on the Maryland DREAM Act, I’m going to hold on that until later today. But I did want to talk about watching the Presidential debate tonight in the company of about 30 other Republicans at our local headquarters.

The group watching the debate at Wicomico County's Republican headquarters.

We were a rather comfortable group.

And it was a group which wasn’t overly loud or boisterous during the debate. Sure, they clapped a little at the appropriate times but no one did their best Joe Wilson impersonation and shouted “You lie!” at Obama, although he told a couple whoppers here and there.

Generally the feeling was that Romney won the debate, of course, but no one I spoke with thought it was an overwhelming victory. My feeling is that certainly it will be spun as at best a draw in the media, but the king of the teleprompter showed once again how he can verbally stumble around in search of a coherent sentence to say.

While I liked the format, I wasn’t always impressed with Jim Lehrer’s moderation. He could have run a tighter ship, although I suppose the way it turned out both candidates had their say. They covered most of the main points.

But I get the sense that Mitt Romney ran a little more to the center and I’m not sure he doesn’t run the risk of losing a little bit of his base by doing so. Granted, not many truly believed Mitt Romney was a rock-ribbed conservative but he sure didn’t embellish those points tonight either. It means we are going to need a very conservative Congress to work him in the right direction, particularly if he’s going to sit down with Democrats when he wins on November 6.

It’s worth noting that a lot of the Obamaphiles in the media aren’t very pleased tonight. I can understand why.

Upon further consideration…

After stewing on this for a few days, I’ve come to a conclusion: Jim Messina, Campaign Manager for Obama For Against America, is a total douchebag.

In reaction to the Romney statements surreptitiously taped and taken out of full context by Mother Jones magazine, Messina said the following:

Today we learned that Mitt Romney said this about Obama supporters to fellow millionaires at a closed-door fundraiser:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income taxes …

My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The man who spoke these words — who demonstrates such disgust and disdain for half of our fellow Americans — is the other side’s choice for president of the United States. He wants to lead our country.

If we don’t come through for President Obama right now, this will be the guy making big decisions that affect us and our families every single day. (All emphasis in original.)

First of all, Romney was absolutely right. Sadly, we have an element of society (who will likely vote for Obama if they vote at all) who believes they’re entitled to every single morsel of government goodies because there are people who have things they want and they don’t. That selfish attitude lies in stark contrast to the attitude of many Romney supporters who are happy to be charitable but would prefer to make their own choices about who they donate to.

So we have remarks that the other 53 percent of us would likely listen to and nod our head in agreement with (not to mention some portion of the 47 percent who still have some semblance of pride.) Thing is, if the economy hadn’t gone in the tank a half-decade ago we may be looking at only 40 percent of the population being in the class Romney speaks of rather than 47 percent. That would be a huge electoral difference, although on the other hand if the economy were good Barack Obama would have had no chance of winning in 2008.

But the other question is why this video is important right now. Since it was apparently taped in the spring, it’s possible some turncoat – a double agent of sorts (remember, this was a fundraiser that attendees had to pay $50,000 a head for) – came and taped Romney’s remarks. At this point it was pretty obvious that Romney would be the GOP nominee so anything he said would be fair game. In a regular campaign, this tape would likely be the October surprise, but events in the Middle East have forced the Obama campaign and their allies in the press to go to the well a little early as yet another diversion. They couldn’t let the press narrative of Middle East protests sparked by an obscure filmmaker’s video fall apart as more evidence of an organized attack on the Libyan embassy leaked out, so this video becomes the new narrative: “Romney is out of touch and uncaring.”

Even if Romney is correct and Obama gets 47 percent of the vote, the good news is that leaves 53% of the vote for Mitt Romney. Depending on which states fall into each category, we can even allow Gary Johnson 3 percent and give Romney 50 percent and 270 or more electoral votes. Works for me.

Then maybe we can work on paring back that 47 percent on the government dole by growing the economy the right way, through job creation in the private sector and not “independence cards” from the public one. Funny how Jim Messina isn’t taking credit for all those new food stamp recipients.