When the reports are greatly exaggerated

February 28, 2016 · Posted in Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on When the reports are greatly exaggerated 

If you recall a recent odds and ends post where I mentioned that the Election Integrity Maryland group was preparing to wind up its affairs, you can scratch that. The good news is that a group of people stepped forward to carry on their work so by the middle of March they should be back in full operation.

There’s a reason this group is so important: they have made it their task to clean up the state’s voter rolls. More specifically, they are looking for compliance with federal laws that say states are supposed to keep their lists up to date to lessen the possibility of voter fraud. There have been the horror stories about ineligible voters being given ballots, multiple registrations at particular addresses that aren’t even residential, and similar fraudulent schemes developed by the former ACORN group and other similar community organizations. Even if these reports are exaggerated, just one vote that’s cast illegally is enough to cancel out your legitimate one.

I agree that voting is a right and not a privilege, but there are limitations to the rights here in this nation: one must be 18 as of Election Day, not be a felon* or convicted of buying or selling votes, and must be a citizen of United States. In the past our nation had blanket prohibitions on voting based on race and on gender, but we revised our Constitution to rectify these situations. However, it is still the choice of individuals whether they want to exercise their right to vote or even to be registered – although the state of Maryland is trying to install an “opt-out” system of registration based on your trips to the MVA rather than the “opt-in” system we currently employ.

Yet shouldn’t that right come with a set of responsibilities as well, such as to inform yourself about your choices and be aware of when and where you can vote. People joke about voting in certain precincts on the Wednesday following Election Day, but to fall for that ruse proves you may not have been deserving to vote anyway.

So I’m hoping the reformed EIM has a little bit more clout and can cause people to shame local jurisdictions that won’t get with the program of shaving off bloated voter registration rolls. Everyone’s vote should count.

(* in Maryland, you don’t even have to complete your sentence to have your franchise restored, despite the fact Governor Hogan properly vetoed the bill last year. Democrats in the General Assembly overrode the veto, even getting one person to vote twice.)

Odds and ends number 80

For awhile I wasn’t sure I would ever make it to the 80th edition of this longtime monoblogue series but I have finally arrived with more tidbits that require only a few dozen words to deal with.

Since this category has the item I’ve been sitting on the longest, I’m going to talk energy first. Some of my readers in the northern part of the state may yet have a little bit of remaining snow from the recent blizzard, snow that may be supplemented by a new blast today. But the fine folks at Energy Tomorrow worry about a regulatory blizzard, and with good reason: Barack Obama has already killed the coal industry, states are suing for relief from the EPA,  and a proposed $10 a barrel oil tax may further hinder the domestic oil industry already straining under a price war with OPEC. So much for that $550 annual raise we received, as Rick Manning notes in the latter story I link – for the rest of us, that’s like a 25-cent per hour raise without the increased taxation that normally comes with a pay increase. Yet that quarter would be lost to taxation under the Obama scheme.

It’s interesting as well that the Iowa caucus results favored Ted Cruz over Donald Trump despite their competing stances on ethanol, as Marita Noon wrote, but Cruz’s Iowa win also emboldened others to speak more freely about rescinding the ban.

Speaking of Cruz and Iowa, over the last week we’ve heard more about third-place Iowa finisher Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, as Erick Erickson predicted we would. It’s obvious to me that the media is trying to pick a Republican candidate for us, so they have been pushing either Donald Trump (who is far from conservative on many issues) or Marco Rubio (who has been squishy on immigration and perhaps can be rolled more easily on the subject again.) Or, as Dan Bongino writes, it could be the left’s divide-and-conquer strategy at work once again.

It seems to me that today’s New Hampshire primary should bring the race down to about five participants on the GOP side. The herd will almost certainly be culled of Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Jim Gilmore based on results, polling, and financial situation, and that would cut it down to six. The loser between Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich should whittle the field to five in time for South Carolina and we will begin to see if Donald Trump’s ceiling is really about 25 percent.

Trump’s popularity has been defined by a hardline approach to border security, but once again I turn to Rick Manning who asks what Trump would do about Obamacare, He also shrewdly invokes Bobby Jindal’s name, since the policy wonk had a conservative approach:

Jindal understood that the Obamacare system has put down some roots, and tearing it out was not going to be an easy task that could be glibly done with the wave of a wand or a pronouncement from a podium. He understood that whatever health care system replaced Obamacare would set the tone for whether or not the federal government continued its expansion in scope and power. He understood that what we do about Obamacare is likely to be one of the most important domestic policy decisions that any president will make. So, he laid out his vision for what health care should look like in America. (Link added.)

Yet on another domestic issue New Hampshire’s neighbor Maine is making some serious steps in cleaning up their food stamp rolls. It’s a little scary to think that the Millennials and Generation X decided keeping the “free” stuff wasn’t worth actually getting a job (or taking alternate steps to improve themselves or their community.) Perhaps it is fortunate that these are childless adults.

Turning to our own state, Maryland Right to Life was kind enough to inform me that a rebadged “death with dignity” assisted suicide bill was introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate (HB404 and SB418, respectively.) The 2015 rendition never received a committee vote, but it also had a late hearing – this year the setup is a little bit more advantageous to committee passage and the number of sponsors (all Democrats) has increased. They thought they had enough votes to get it out of committee last year, and chances are they are correct.

I have postulated on previous occasions that this General Assembly session is the opportunity to plant the seeds of distrust Democrats desperately need to get back that which they consider theirs in 2018 – the Maryland governor’s chair. It will likely be a close, party-line vote but I suspect this bill will pass in order to make Governor Hogan either veto it (which, of course, will allow the press to make him look less than compassionate to cancer sufferers such as he was) or sign it into law – a course for which he will accrue absolutely zero credit from Democrats for reaching across the aisle but will alienate the pro-life community that is a vital part of the GOP.

Try as they might, the Democrats could not bait Hogan into addressing social issues during his 2014 campaign but that doesn’t mean they will stop trying.

On a much more somber note insofar as good government is concerned, the advocacy group Election Integrity Maryland announced they were winding up their affairs at the end of this month. As EIM president Cathy Kelleher stated:

The difficulty of maintaining a small non profit was a full time job and the responsibility fell on the same few individuals for far too long.

We can proudly say that in our 4+ years of operations, we made a difference in the way citizens view the record maintenance of the State Board of Elections and had an impact in the legislative process.

The problem EIM had was twofold: first, a lack of citizens interested enough to address the issues our state has with keeping voter rolls not just up to date, but insuring they are limited to citizens who are eligible to vote; and secondly just an overwhelming task considering there are over 3 million voters registered in Maryland. And for some of the counties that are more populous, the powers that be didn’t much mind having inaccurate voter rolls that may have had a few ineligible voters among them just in case they needed a few extra on election night.

And it’s that prospect of fraud which is among the reasons not to adopt National Popular Vote, as Natalie Johnson notes at the Daily Signal. It’s a good counter to an argument presented in the comments to one of Cathy Keim’s recent posts. After the angst of Bush vs. Gore in 2000, could you imagine the need for a national recount with states hanging in the balance?

I think the system can be improved, but there’s a time and place for that proposal and it’s not here yet. There’s also a time and a place to wrap up odds and ends, and we have arrived.

Turning the Tides 2013 in pictures and text (part 2)

I covered the events of Saturday morning in part 1, so if you enjoyed the “lunch break” I pick up the events with one of the most popular conservative politicians in Maryland.

Yes, on the far right of the picture is Dan Bongino. He was the star attraction of a panel discussion called “Changing the Ground Game in Maryland.” Moderated by Kari Snyder, the other participants were 2012 Congressional candidate and author Ken Timmerman and Delegate Neil Parrott.

As he stated in his interview here, Bongino had some definite criticism of the MDGOP’s efforts and suggestions for improvements. For example, “if you’re not registering voters at the gun shows in Maryland in the next two months, you should be arrested for political malpractice.”

Obviously Dan harped on the voter registration aspect – “they’re kicking our butts” – and how badly we were trounced there, although not to the extent he did in our conversation. But he also spent a lot of his time on the concept of message vs. marketing, rhetorically asking “do you know what the most dangerous branch of government is right now? The media!” Dan also restated the point that “(Barack Obama) ran on our message.”

“We’ve never had a message problem,” continued Dan. “We’ve always had a marketing problem.”

Meanwhile, the effects of economic neglect are apparent in Baltimore. “Baltimore City is in a catastrophic economy. There is no economy in Baltimore City,” added Bongino.

Another facet lost in this recent campaign was the school choice issue. He called on us to “isolate and humiliate every one of our opponents” who don’t support the issue. “It is the civil rights issue of our day,” Dan stressed. Yet he had the awareness to realize “we’re in the echo chamber now…action matters.”

After Bongino received a standing ovation both at the introduction and the close, Ken Timmerman had the unenviable task of following Dan. He chose to focus on his race with Chris Van Hollen, noting that opposition research is very important. Van Hollen “did not know what hit him” when portions of his record were released, so much so that he stopped doing joint appearances.

Other observations made by Timmerman were somewhat obvious to us: first, “Democrats will not vote Democrat lite,” and second, “the media is not our friend….don’t let them get away with anything.” (The easily ascertained evidence of that was the camera crews showing up for the protest outside.)

Ken also spoke on the role of the Maryland (and national) GOP, stating that “They didn’t give me any assistance to speak of.” It would have been helpful to get good, reliable voter data, for example. Timmerman also warned that “it’s easy to introduce malicious software into these electronic voting machines.” The technology simply isn’t secure.

Timmerman also made the statement that “we have to start with trench warfare” in the Maryland General Assembly and “hit their core beliefs.” Ken then went through a list of proposed bills, many of which I noted to myself have been tried. “It doesn’t matter if they fail,” he went on to say, because “we force them to engage.” It provided a nice transition to Neil Parrott’s remarks.

However, Neil began by rehashing the previous ballot initiative campaign, saying “we won by getting (them) on the ballot.” He went over the several steps to get a referendum on the ballot: approval of the ballot language by the Board of Elections, gathering of signatures, the inevitable defense in court, and finally the writing of the language by the Secretary of State – often that can require another trip to the judicial system to clean up misleading statements, like 2012’s Question 5 on gerrymandering which alluded to the Constitution, making it sound like the ballot issue had that imprimatur.

The one thing missing was any sort of campaigning. One obvious problem was a lack of funding; for example on Question 4 we were outspent $1.7 million to $60,000. All that money allowed the proponents of Question 4 to successfully shift the narrative from one of illegality to one of “fairness.” “We need to reinvent MDPetitions.com,” Parrott explained.

One other well-taken point by Parrott was that Question 7 “sucked the oxygen out of the room.” More money was spent on that than the 2010 governor’s race.

Activists were well-aware of most of these facts, though. The next session turned our focus to energy issues.

Moderator Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty was joined on this panel by journalist Mark Newgent, blogger of Junkscience.com Steve Milloy, and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a source which regularly appears on this page.

Newgent opened by making a salient point: despite the push by the O’Malley administration and the adoption of ill-advised renewable portfolio standard goals, the 1.6% of electricity provided by renewable sources at the turn of the century was now a punier 1.3% as of 2010. Mark also explained that the purchase of a “renewable energy credit” was a purchase of “absolutely nothing,” but it was a fine excuse for crony capitalism. Sometimes it even had a negative effect, like a (now-expired) federal tax credit for the usage of the “black liquor” by-product of the wood pulping process; one which produces more carbon dioxide than burning coal or natural gas because they mix black liquor with diesel fuel to burn it.

Newgent followed the money to the Town Creek Foundation, an Easton-based environmental organization. “We’re up against some stiff competition,’ he added.

“This is the game that’s going on,” Mark concluded.

Milloy derided the concept of global warming as an excuse to advance policy. “They don’t want to know anything about science,” he opined. But the small number of people on our side concerned with environmental issues had to deal with a swarm of so-called experts on the Left. “Their fondest dream is to saddle the country with some sort of climate legislation that enables them to have control of the economy,” said Steve. “Climate is the best scam they’ve ever worked.”

One statement I enjoyed was Milloy’s call to rip your ‘Save the Bay’ plates off your car. The point was that there’s nothing we can do about carbon dioxide emissions, or to fix the Bay, so save your $20.

CEI’s Ebell bluntly assessed that “the (energy) myths are winning; in particular, they’re winning in states like Maryland.” But there was some good news: unlike other states, there was very little potential for vastly more expensive wind or solar power here in Maryland. Other states had much more ambitious schedules for renewable standards; for example, California’s goal is 33 percent renewables by 2020. As a result, “they’ve already driven out most of the manufacturing in their state,” said Ebell.

“This is the level of intelligence you’re dealing with…you should be shocked, but you should also be really angry,” he added.

But the problem with any renewable source of power, explained Myron, was that they weren’t terribly reliable. Wind costs more because you also had to build a natural gas plant for the 3/4 of the time the wind didn’t blow, particularly in the summer when demand was higher but winds were generally calmer.

Even on the oil front, Myron noted that the 3% of the proven reserves it’s claimed we have is a number so low simply because we can’t explore many other areas which could potentially have large reserves, such as the North Slope of Alaska.

Speaking of energy, my friend Jackie Wellfonder happened to return with some goodies about this time.

These were handed out at the CC4MD table, an organization for which Jackie serves as treasurer. She must have sensed that I like my chocolate.

As opposed to me not being cheated out of some goodies, the next group was dubbed “The Cheated Generation.”

Blogger and radio host Jimmie Bise was the moderator for this group, which included Gabby Hoffman of the Leadership Institute, Baltimore Area Young Republican president Trae Lewis, Brandon Cooper, a campaign coordinator for Dan Bongino, and businessman Brian Meshkin.

Bise opened his segment a little differently, urging people to turn on their cellphones and spread the word on social media using the #TTT13 hashtag for Twitter. (I did, quite a bit.) He added that entitlements are shifting the cost burden from older Americans to the youth, from a group which can’t afford this because, among other things, there’s $1 trillion in college debt.

Cooper opened up the remarks by remarking on a handout he passed around, one which explained the economic realities younger people face. These mainly stem from student loans, which hamper the average student to the tune of $23,300. “Government spent $500 million on student loans in 1978; $115.6 billion in 2012,” the handout revealed. Brandon went on to add that, because the federal government was now the sole distributor of student loans, there were no more price control incentives.

Brian Meshkin chastised the government’s tendency from our kids to pay for “selfish excesses.” As the only elected Republican in Howard County (a member of the school board) he told us that “education was a huge, huge winning issue.”

“No child should be held back by the street they live on,” said Meshkin to raucous applause.

There was more cheering as Gabby Hoffman revealed her story as the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants, parents who were now seeing “too many parallels” to the situation they grew up under in the former Soviet Union. And she saved severe criticism for Sandra Fluke, who she called a “repugnant human being…no young woman should look up to that trash.” Obviously it followed that Hoffman also believed that giving up on social conservatism was “a completely BS move.”

But her message overall was blunt: if you don’t learn from communism’s failures, we will have it in America. We have to scare young people with the truth, Hoffman concluded.

Trae Lewis began by giving us some bad news: if Martin O’Malley is the Democratic nominee in 2016, we are likely spotting him 215 electoral votes. (Actually, we are doing so regardless of the nominee.) The reason: “he’s hitting us where we ain’t,” meaning the urban centers of America. “The American city is the epitome of what liberal leadership will do for this country,” warned Lewis, and there’s no reason not to harp on wedge issues like school choice.

“You can’t turn a tide from the middle of the ocean,” Trae pointed out, “you have to start at the shore and work your way out.”

That wrapped up the “cheated youth” segment, but there were several other “cheated” groups. With so many speakers and panels and only a one-day timeframe, there were bound to be some issues which received less coverage so we had what was called the “coalition round-up.” This had representatives of groups focusing on immigration, election integrity, the General Assembly, school choice, pro-life issues, and the Second Amendment.

While much of his ground was covered by previous presenters, Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland repeated the fact that 90,000 more people in Maryland voted against Question 4 than voted for Mitt Romney. And there was an economic benefit even in failure: not only did they delay the implementation of the bill by over a year – saving Maryland taxpayers thousands – over $1 million was pumped in from out of state to pass Question 4.

Cathy Kelleher of Election Integrity Maryland gave a short history of the group, which was inspired to begin after activist Anita MonCrief appeared at the first Turning the Tides conference in 2011. It “started with four people at a kitchen table,” but after pointing out thousands of voter roll irregularities over the last year EIM could claim the success of removing 15,000 1,500 dead people from Maryland voter rolls. (Thanks to Cathy for pointing out my overexuberant typo.)

On the flip side of the electoral process was the legislative process, and Elizabeth Meyers introduced her Maryland Legislative Watch group to the audience. This group of volunteers (of which I’m one) reviews every bill introduced to the General Assembly to determine if it’s an anti-liberty bill.

While activist and writer Doug Mainwaring wasn’t affiliated with a particular pro-traditional marriage group, he worked closely with them in an effort to defeat Question 6. And when asked how an openly gay man can possibly be against same-sex marriage, he quipped “You’re an adult. You have children. How can you possibly be a liberal?” Needless to say, Doug brought down the house with that remark.

But Doug was concerned that Republicans and conservatives “are crumbling on this issue.” Some examples were National Review, the Washington Times, and Newt Gingrich.

David Spielman, the outreach coordinator for National School Choice Week, told us he was “giddy” about all the school choice talk at this forum. But the problem we had was deeper than just one issue, for Spielman assessed that “Obama was talking to everyone; we were talking to ourselves…we were outmatched, we were beaten.”

School choice will take outreach, he continued, but so far over 3500 events had been held over the period School Choice Week had been celebrated. (The 2013 edition begins January 27, but there are no events on Delmarva.)

Jack Ames of Defend Life, who was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the pro-life message he said was free for the asking, but with the promise it would be worn in public regularly, claimed that most people are philosophically pro-life, they’re just not actively pro-life. Still, “we’re literally killing God’s creation.” The Defend Life organization, he went on to say, works in three main areas: a lecture tour with several speakers which is available for groups, a magazine, and the “Face the Truth” tours, which feature photos of aborted fetuses. He urged pro-life activists to “be fearless” and do what we can to embarrass Martin O’Malley. (Isn’t he Catholic? Wonder how he reconciles his pro-abortion stance in his church?)

Finally, decorated Vietnam veteran and retired NRA attorney Jim Warner gave a roundup of the Second Amendment. He also gave us some sage advice: the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a gun. Finally, we should “tell the Marxists to go to hell!,” Warner shouted.

The “words of encouragement” to wrap up this long day were delivered by 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge, who took the stage to the chant of “A-G, A-G!” Many (myself included) would like to see Rutledge make a run for Attorney General in 2014.

Rutledge pointed out that “a storm…cannot be avoided. We’re getting ready to learn some very profound, painful lessons. And that lesson is this: unlimited, centralized power cannot coexist with liberty.” Jim blasted the concept of machine politics, one which Maryland had lived under “for far too long.” Baltimore City was “a great example” of this; a philosophy where Jim postulated that the machine asks “what you’ve done to serve the machine?”

On the other hand, liberty asks what your rulers have done for you, Jim thundered in his distinctive, appealing style. Yet too many in Washington, D.C. are “uncomfortable promoting liberty.” To that he strongly asserted, “Washington, D.C. cannot fix Washington, D.C.”

Meanwhile, Maryland is no better: “We’re on our own in this state,” said Jim.

There’s no doubt that Rutledge was a good choice to motivate the crowd and renew their spirit. It’s too bad he’s not utilized by the Republican party here in Maryland, but his may be a case of alienating the wrong insiders.

Finally, the day was done. Well, there was a Happy Hour sponsored by the Conservative Action Network, Conservative Victory PAC, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women. I was also cheered to see some of the Maryland GOP leadership dropped by, as First Vice Chair Diana Waterman and National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose were present for at least part of an event where the party wasn’t always shown in the best light.

But the question is one of continuing the effort beyond the walls of the Doubletree Hotel. There were perhaps 300 of us who attended the event, but, for example, in 2010 1,044,961 voters were foolish enough to re-elect Martin O’Malley. On the other hand, only 67,364 Republicans voted for the more conservative Brian Murphy in the primary election and just 74,404 voted for the aforementioned Rutledge in his Senate bid. Indeed, we have a problem with our message insofar as not enough people are making the educated, real world proven choice of conservatism.

Yet if 300 people can both reach one voter a month and, in turn, convince that voter to reach one other voter a month, the force multiplier will get us to the 1.2 million votes we will need in 2014. But we have to step beyond preaching to the choir and get in the faces of the opposition. Stop being afraid.

Several people at the conference, both speakers and in general conversation, suggested reading and studying how the Democrats succeeded in several areas, with the closest parallel being the state of Colorado. Obviously they had the weaker message, but the better techniques of making people believe in voting against their interests. So it’s our job to remind Maryland voters that the government which is large enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take it away – don’t say we didn’t warn you when the excrement hits the fan.

Turning the Tides 2013 in pictures and text (part 1)

Yesterday was a good day at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.

Somehow I had managed to miss the first two renditions of Turning the Tides, but when this year’s date was announced I pounced on making my way into the event this year. Part of this was the opportunity to network with over 200 of the state’s finest conservative minds, but part of it was a guest list dotted with nationally recognized speakers.

Unlike the many GOP conventions I had attended in the same building, there were no hospitality suites on Friday night. Turning The Tides was a one-day affair, which started with a breakfast I unfortunately missed. But I was set up on bloggers’ row next to a variety of state and local bloggers (including my “biggest fan” Jackie Wellfonder,) which gave me the opportunity to live-Tweet the event throughout.

The Tweets didn’t take long to build up steam once we dispensed with the preliminaries and heard from our first guest speaker, the exceptionally quotable Pamela Geller. Most people know Geller from her website Atlas Shrugs, which briefly covered TTT here, but she has been a tireless leader in the ongoing battle against radical Islam. (If you follow the link you can also see the extent of the crowd in the conference.)

Pamela praised the conference attendees, who she termed “smeared, defamed, and marginalized for standing in defense of freedom” by the “enemedia.” Her key point was defending the freedom of speech, without which “peaceful men have no alternative but to turn to violence.”

“Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it,” she continued, “Withdraw your sanction.” She also called Delegate Nic Kipke, who ignored a boycott call by the pro-Islamic group CAIR, a “rare bird in today’s environment (because) truth is the new hate speech, and just telling the truth is an extreme act.”

She went on to explain how she purchased ad space on the New York subway in response to anti-Israel ads, but was rebuffed because “the word ‘savage’ was demeaning. So I had to sue…and I won on all points. Freedom of speech protects all ideas.” Ten of her ads were destroyed within an hour, which she termed “a physical manifestation of this war on free speech.”

She also detailed her battle against the Ground Zero mosque, telling us the images of 9-11 have been “embargoed” because they offend Islamic sensitivities. “You defeated that mosque (when) everyone was against you.”

Yet there is a “sea change” occurring in attitude, she said, citing how comments used to be highly stacked against her, but now run strongly in her favor.

“No war has ever been won on defense,” she continued. She begged us to use our “spheres of influence” to fight this fight. “Silence is sanction.” We have to contest acceptance of Shari’a, since Mohammed “ain’t my prophet.”

Geller finished by taking a number of great questions on anti-Shari’a legislation, a nuclear-armed Iran, and the “cultural war” of politics which will include the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.

The next speaker, author Diana West, touched on the Current TV sale in her opening remarks as well, as well as the foreign ownership of Fox News. But her remarks centered on her choice in foreign policy, of which she remarked “I’m debuting it here” – with one option to follow the “neoconservative” foreign policy based on universal values. “This has been a disaster.” The other side was a more libertarian-style idea: “I subscribe to ‘coming home America,'” said West, but they suffer the same flaw in that negotiations with Islamic nations “worse than fruitless (and) dangerous to our liberty.”

It begins with love of country, said West, and we would keep the allies with the closest philosophical views. But it would require one radical change: “It would…require leaving the United Nations.” (That was perhaps her best applause line, which she said did far better here than the “blank stares” she gets at the Washington Times.)

It would also be designed with the interests of the American people in mind. “We should fight for the American people.” Instead, we’ve begun to negotiate with terrorists, defend Shari’a-based regimes, and tell our military to look askance at “absolute outrages against American beliefs and sensibilities” in Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.

“And why? Why – nobody’s answered this – why did the Obama administration lie for two weeks that lawfully-protected free speech in America caused the Benghazi attacks?,” asked West. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions?”

The key question, said West, was whether we were fighting abroad to protect liberty at home. “American interests have been blown to smithereens” by leadership, Diana asserted. Our borders are “essentially open” while National Guard troops protect Afghan citizens. Moreover, this is a contradiction to American values because 3/4 of Hispanics want bigger government while just 2/5 of the population at large feels the same.

West outlined a number of changes she would make, from a secretive foreign policy without much Congressional oversight over “a President run amok.”

“I have not seen terrible damage from Wikileaks,” she continued. “I have seen much corruption and lies on the part of our public officials.”

“I don’t believe that’s the way a republic functions. That needs to change,” said Diana. The war of our next generation is not the one we’re fighting, but a war against Shari’a. “Liberty is imperiled right here in our back yard,” said West, who also called the Islamization of Europe “the great uncovered story of our time.”

Our first group discussion panel, moderated by writer and columnist Marta Mossburg, featured a solid bank of speakers: Frederick County Commission president (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young, writer and author Stanley Kurtz, and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.

Young started out in a jovial manner, joking about the Geller controversy and about once being a Democrat: “Well, everybody can be misinformed, ill-advised, and brainwashed.” But he turned more serious about his assigned topic, telling those gathered “I’m a very pro-property rights person, always have been…property rights is where I’m at.”

Stemming from the very first attack on property rights, zoning, which began in the 1920s and has been accepted in most places – Young pointed out Garrett County is an unzoned exception – Blaine turned to the state as it stands and told us “we’ve never seen an attack like this on the state level,” referring to PlanMaryland. “This is a tool, to slow down the rural areas for growth.”

But Young’s most brilliant point was equating things done “for the Bay” with laws passed “for the children.” As I Tweeted:

 

Indeed, I have mentioned this a number of times over the years – here’s one. Great minds think alike?

Stanley Kurtz quickly asserted that “President Obama is not a fan of the suburbs.” As a community organizer, those who mentored Obama had the main goal was to abolish them because they were drawing away tax money rightfully belonging to the cities. To that end, Obama “has been a huge supporter” of that movement. “Barack Obama wants to redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities,” said Stanley. He identified the philosophy as the “regional equity movement.”

But among the federal programs imposed on the state, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is perhaps the one affecting Maryland the most. “Nobody pays attention to the Sustainable Communities Initiative,” despite the fact Baltimore was a “regional planning grant” recipient. It’s a program where the federal government pays for regional planning, such as PlanMaryland but on a smaller scale. The goal, though, is to make the receipt of federal aid contingent on adopting these plans, much like schools which accept federal money do so with stipulations placed on them.

And while everyone has heard of Agenda 21, not so many are familiar with the workings of the Smart Growth movement, concluded Kurtz. “Conservatives are missing where the real threat is coming from,” warned Kurtz, “We haven’t studied the home-grown (regional equity) movements.”

But Rothschild was the most strident speaker. “The question of the War on Rural Maryland begs a bigger question: why does this happen?” Richard went on to postulate that it happens “because we let them.”

“Those people that disrespect the Bible and the Constitution are invariably the ones who know the least about either of them,” said Rothschild. “We (conservatives) are abdicating our responsibilities at all levels of government to do what needs to be done.”

“Being a Constitutionalist requires practice,” opined Richard. Elected officials need to ask themselves not just ‘what would Jesus do,’ but a second question: what would Jefferson do?

Elected officials aren’t trained to uphold their oath of office and the Constitution. “We’re not thinking the right way.” As an example, he stood alone in his county in an effort to nullify SB236. A further test was when he went to the recent Maryland Association of Counties meeting and asked six random county officials about what they would do if an order was passed down to confiscate guns in their county.

“Three of them said they don’t know, and the other three said they would resign from office,” Richard charged. “Not one said they would nullify, interpose, or engage their locally elected sheriff to defend their citizens’ Constitutional rights.” That was the fundamental problem.

Richard even spoke on comments he made regarding the SB236 Tier IV opt-out provision proposed right here in Wicomico County. (The original post is on the Conduit Street blog.) “They do this because we let them…we are tolerating the intolerable.”

“I don’t negotiate one-sided contracts…we shouldn’t even engage,” Richard opined, “Constitutional rights are non-negotiable.” Rothschild vowed to work with the Institute on the Constitution to put together a training course on how to uphold their oath of office.

“(Liberal groups are) going to spend a fortune to try to defeat like Blaine and people like me during the next election because they hate us,” Richard concluded to a raucous standing ovation. And he’s right.

The final session of the morning discussed the “War on Jobs,” with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and Delegate Nic Kipke, who was introduced as a member of the Maryland Health Reform Coordinating Council. Fitton focused on illegal immigration while Kipke naturally looked at Obamacare. “Nic knows more about Obamacare than the legislators who voted for it in 2010,” noted moderator Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland.

Fitton described his work with Help Save Maryland and other legal groups interested in upholding the idea that workplaces should have workers here legally. But that fight began with Montgomery County Community College giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “They thought they could get away with it,” noted Fitton. A nice thing about Maryland law, he continued, was that it has a provision allowing citizens standing to sue the government to prevent illegal expenditures of funds.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to illegal aliens who can’t work, stated Tom, “Maryland is a magnet for illegal immigration, and the impact on jobs is obvious.” Most affected were the construction trades where the majority of contractors, who are law-abiding, are “competing against crooks.”

“It’s a racket” to keep certain politicians in office, Fitton charged. And speaking of Maryland politics specifically, Tom also alleged there was corruption behind the passage of the ballot initiatives. “(O’Malley) was using his office to promote the approval of the referenda,”

Tom also had kudos for Delegate Neil Parrott, who he’d worked with on the ballot issues, calling him an important figure in Maryland democracy. “We’ve been proud to stand with him,” Fitton beamed.

The lesson here, Fitton said, was that the illegal immigration issue is not automatically a turnoff to Hispanics. He cited polling data which said, in the most recent election, 40% of Hispanics “agreed with the idea of an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration.” It was 13 points more than Romney received among Hispanics at large. “This is a majority issue for us,” Fitton claimed.

“We’re really in a battle for our lives in a lot of ways,” Kipke opened. “It used to be we were in a battle for our rights, but we’re also in a battle for our way of life.”

He went through a couple examples of the “trainwreck” of Obamacare, one being the fact that the age breakdowns – lumping everyone from age 21 to 60 in a group – will create a spike in rates making insurance unaffordable to young people. (One estimate pegs the additional cost as anywhere from $280 to $400 a month.) “It’s almost designed to fail,” said Kipke.

The second problem is that the exchanges will essentially all offer the same programs – health insurance has to be approved by and purchased from the state – generally these are the “richest packages available.” At this time, Maryland is one of just eight states with an exchange in place. “If Obama is successful, health insurance will be purchased through the state, and it will be the state design,” Kipke said.

The Delegate urged us to use him and Delegate Parrott as a conduit to the General Assembly. “If you have access to technology, you should see the stuff that goes on. Bring a camera, we’ll tell you where to stand and we’ll put you up in front of the next Delegate who embraces socialism. We’d love to get that on video.”

That brought us to the lunch break. While most of us grabbed a quick bite to eat, there was a lot going on both inside and outside the lobby.

On the inside, a total of fifteen groups had information tables and other items set up. Here are a few of those:

In order, these were Accuracy in Media, Defend Life, Maryland Republican Network, and Election Integrity Maryland. Other groups in attendance were the Franklin Center (sponsor of Bloggers’ Row), the Red Maryland Network – which did a live broadcast from the lobby – Institute on the Constitution, Americans for Fair Taxation, Montgomery County Republicans, Stop Agenda 21, Help Save Maryland, the Leadership Institute, Maryland Legislative Watch, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and Conservative Victory PAC.

There were also merchants, with event T-shirts and Breitbart design shirts on sale.

We also had a chance to meet some of the speakers and purchase their books.

From left to right, represented were Stanley Kurtz, Diana West,  Pamela Geller (crouched), and Tom Fitton. Dun Scott (husband of organizer Cathy Trauernicht) is standing in the center; thanks to Ann Corcoran for the correction.

As I noted, there was also action outside the building. The CAIR protest of Pamela Geller finally showed up two hours after she finished speaking. (Photo by and courtesy of Jackie Wellfonder.)

Yet the ten protesters got media attention. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the TV stations would have showed up.

So that’s where we stood as lunch concluded. In part 2 I’ll cover the four intriguing seminars which occurred afterward and the closing remarks by Jim Rutledge.

An Election Day reminder

November 6, 2012 · Posted in Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on 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 freeandfair@truethevote.org. 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!

Election watchdog: Cummings remarks “shameful defamation”

November 1, 2012 · Posted in Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Election watchdog: Cummings remarks “shameful defamation” 

In what has become an escalating war of words between a longtime Democratic Congressman and a good-government advocacy group, True The Vote (TTV) on Monday accused Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings of “defamation per se” based on remarks Cummings made on MSNBC; a presentation where he accused TTV of “illegal activities” and having “very strong evidence” TTV was coordinating efforts with the Republican Party. Cummings did not elaborate on his accusations or evidence in his brief segment, though.

Cummings’ witch hunt began last month when he wrote to TTV head Catherine Engelbrecht demanding an accounting of voter registration actions the group has embarked upon in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and here in Maryland. In response, Engelbrecht offered to meet with Cummings to explain the actions but apparently was rebuffed – instead, Cummings chose to go on MSNBC with his wild, unverified claims. That television appearance led to the newest communication with Cummings from TTV attorney Brock Akers demanding a retraction of his MSNBC comments.

It’s interesting that Cummings, who according to his mouthpiece is “extensively involved in the presidential re-election efforts…and for Senator Cardin” had time to make up these accusations. But he doesn’t have time to meet with TTV – or, for that matter, debate GOP opponent Frank Mirabile either. Yet Cummings is trying to engage TTV with the sort of intimidation tactics that the voter integrity group is fighting against. His missive demanded a large amount of information at a time when TTV is most busy with training poll watchers and working to clear voter rolls of those who don’t belong there. Far from being an inconvenience, the idea behind having voters who were challenged on the rolls provide the proof they should be there is more like something which should be standard procedure – each time I’ve moved I’ve made sure to update my voter registration in a timely manner, so why can’t other people?

While those of us who are citizens of this great land have the right to vote (provided we are of age and not restricted by felony or other similar prohibition) we also have the right to not have our voice drowned out by fraudsters who exercise these rights but shouldn’t. The Democratic nominee for Congress here resigned her nomination for the crime of voting twice (once each in Maryland and Florida) while others who shouldn’t get to vote once because they’re not citizens are handed voter registration cards when they receive their driver’s license.

Yet using Maryland as an example, Election Integrity Maryland has simply looked for duplicate or non-existent addresses and those who they have verified have died. Just that cursory check has provided over 9,000 names which have been flagged. They’re also training additional eyes and ears at the ballot box, which obviously Cummings is afraid of.

But why? The answer to that may be self-evident.

WCRC meeting – October 2012

October 22, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – October 2012 

Serving as a warmup to the final televised campaign debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, those who attended the October meeting of the Wicomico County Republican Club were treated to spirited debate of our own.

But first we attended to the usual club business by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and welcoming those distinguished guests in attendance. I read the minutes compiled by Dave Parker (thanks to him for filling in last month while I was away) and we got our treasurer’s report as well.

Our featured speaker was County Council at-large member Matt Holloway, who mainly focused on the ongoing battle between state and county interests over SB236, the so-called “septic bill.” Matt said that the majority on County Council “views it as a downzoning effort by the state.” It’s a battle we have already fought out locally, so apparently environmentalists have appealed to a higher power to get their way in Wicomico County and other rural areas around the state. “It’s our intention to fight this as much as we can,” said Matt.

As Matt explained it, there would possibly be two tiered zoning maps: one the state suggests and one we come up with locally. He stressed the importance of attending a public meeting to show support for the county’s map, which will almost certainly be the less restrictive of the two. (The county’s map is not finished yet, said Matt in response to an audience question.)

More scary, of course, was the cost of implementing the provisions of PlanMaryland and the Watershed Improvement Plan, a sum Matt pegged at $1.2 billion over a decade. It may as well be $100 billion to a small county like ours, said Matt.

Yet there was hope, as the county is discussing joining a lawsuit by several rural counties against the state. (I’ll discuss this more in a post later this week.)

Matt also briefly went over the county’s charter amendments which will serve as Questions A, B, C, and D on the ballot. Respectively they address the length of time by which a vacancy on Council must be filled (lengthening it to 45 days), reducing the number of voters needed to petition items to referendum, making sure the County Attorney has at least 5 years’ experience, and mandating public budget hearings. I think it took me longer to type that then he spent, since a number of us were already familiar with the Charter Review Committee’s work.

In taking questions, one struck me as prudent because it regarded how much county land could “perc,” or be drainable. It brought up a discussion about how government could really throw a wrench into the works by holding up those permits, with the example given of a piece of property which once had a house (which was demolished via controlled burn) that someone wants to build on but haven’t been able to do so for two years as they await the perc permit.

There was also a question as to how the local delegation voted, and since this will be one bill on the upcoming monoblogue Accountability Project you’ll find that points will go to the five local Republicans (Colburn, Eckardt, Haddaway-Riccio, McDermott, and Otto) as well as Democrat Jim Mathias for properly voting “no,” while Delegates Cane and Conway get diddly-squat for voting in favor of this ill-considered bill.

Dave Parker gave a Central Committee report detailing the good results of a recent appeal for funds, the upcoming Central Committee meeting on November 5, and the fact early voting begins Saturday. He also shared his thoughts on some of the statewide ballot issues, with fellow Central Committee member Blan Harcum pointing out the pro-Question 7 letter penned by former State chairs Michael Steele and Audrey Scott. It was apparent that, unlike the Central Committee, the club was split on the issue.

Joe Holloway piggybacked on Dave’s report by claiming the three key issues the General Assembly will look at next year are restrictions on wells (similar to those for septic systems), an increase in the gas tax, and perhaps the adoption of a mileage tax.

Bonnie Luna brought up an event I haven’t featured quite yet: a townhall meeting with Congressman Andy Harris at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 29th at the Black Diamond Lodge in Fruitland. She noted that there may be a busload of radical green environmentalist wackos (she referred to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but I’ll embellish with the truth) attending the event as well as Democratic write-in candidate John LaFerla.

She also pleaded with us to do more volunteering as the final push begins: working at headquarters and manning the phones were at the top of her list.

Jackie Wellfonder spoke on behalf of Dan Bongino’s U.S. Senate campaign, talking about the upcoming meet and greet fundraiser at Wicomico County headquarters on Thursday evening and the U.S. Senate debate next Tuesday afternoon at Salisbury University. They are also looking for volunteers to do some canvassing.

Woody Willing gave a Board of Elections report which has led me to do a minor correction on my August post. It was a question of semantics as I pointed out over 900 voters were purged from the rolls; they were actually only shifted from active to inactive status. But I think he (and/or the state board) are confusing my report with other posts I’ve done regarding the statewide efforts of Election Integrity Maryland.

Next up was the first really serious debate we’ve had in many moons. In the September meeting I missed, the subject of media advertising for this election came up and an understanding was reached to allocate a sum of money to be used after exploring several options. Several members believed we should go ahead with this plan, but others held the opinion the money would be better spent in 2014. Those in favor of waiting barely won in a rare split decision.

And the feisty crowd wasn’t finished, as we debated the merits of having a band at our Christmas Party on December 2nd at the Legacy Restaurant. Many cried that spending money on a band and not on advertising seemed foolish, but others contended we would draw more people with the band. Those who wanted the music won another close vote.

After all that discussion, we finally found something worth agreeing on: sometime next week there will be a “2016: Obama’s America” viewing event at our headquarters. The date hasn’t been selected yet.

I gave a review of the two recent festivals, pointing out we possibly reached 10,000 voters and reminded all of them Wicomico County has a strong Republican Party. The Democrats weren’t at both events (just one) and missed an opportunity.

This was our last meeting at the county headquarters, and the next meeting will be the final meeting of 2012. It will be November 26 at the normal venue, the Chamber of Commerce building downtown. I won’t miss trying to balance my notebook on a chair.

Odds and ends number 61

I actually meant to do this post over the weekend, but real life intervened. I’m hoping the expanded version of items which are really too short to merit a full post but worth a couple paragraphs is more chock full of interesting because of it.

I stand with Dan. Do you?There is one item on my agenda that’s time-sensitive, so I’m going to fold it into an overall brief update on Dan Bongino’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Tomorrow (October 18) the Bongino campaign is doing a unique moneybomb event:

During our “Now or Never” event, you will be able to make donations designated specifically to get Dan’s campaign advertisements on radio, television and the Internet. These ads are a crucial part of our get-out-the-vote efforts and you will have the unique opportunity to choose the media outlet on which you wish to see the ads run. (Emphasis in original.)

So if you donate you get to choose. (I vote for advertising on this website. Is that an option?)

Unlike some others in the race, Dan’s campaign has been the closest to the grassroots and certainly has worn through the shoe leather. Regardless of the perception about where Dan stands in the polls, I think the voters’ brief flirtation with Rob Sobhani is coming to a close as they find out there’s not a lot of substance behind the sizzle.

I didn’t note this at the time, but since the Benghazi massacre is still in the news it’s noteworthy that Dan is among the chorus who thinks heads should roll:

I take no comfort in this, but Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice must resign in light of the Benghazi tragedy. It was a tragic failure in leadership.

He went on to decry the “current administration’s position that politics takes priority over security for our men and women in the foreign service.” Given the fact that Hillary Clinton now insists on taking full responsibility, it indeed behooves her to resign her post.

I’ve also found out that Dan will be in the area twice over the next couple weeks. On Thursday, October 25 he will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser here in Salisbury at the local GOP headquarters, tentatively scheduled from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., and on Tuesday, October 30 the PACE group at Salisbury University is hosting a U.S. Senate debate in their Great Hall at 3 p.m. That’s sort of an unusual time to have an event such as that, but it is what it is.

And apparently Dan has had his fill of complaints from Sobhani about Rob’s debate exclusion. This comes from Dan’s Facebook page:

Regarding the debates schedule, there is no effort to keep the candidate out of the debates. His campaign is fabricating stories in an attempt to distract from his confusing platform… Any forum he was not included in was due to the fact that he was not invited by the host.

I’ve spoken to the campaign about this issue and any assertion that Dan doesn’t want Rob Sobhani in the debates is completely false.

Speaking of debates, this is one which just might be crazy enough to actually work.

Created by the TEA Party Express group, this is the debate where the moderators are conservative. Of course, none of the nominees or incumbents will actually participate – but in this era of YouTube and 24-hour media coverage, video is a wonderful thing. Honestly, it’s simply going to serve as a reminder of where candidates have said they stand on key issues ignored in the other debates.

The presidential debate for the rest of us.

But I don’t think these guys are going to play it as comedy, like taking single words and catchphrases carefully spliced together like a shock jock might. Given some of the names already announced as participating in the event, it may come down to being just as informative as the real thing – and in many cases, Barack Obama actually will get to have his teleprompter.

This event will occur next Tuesday night, October 23, at 9 p.m.

Following up on a post I did a few days ago on Protect Marriage Maryland endorsements, the group has added Fourth District Congressional candidate Faith Loudon to its preferred candidates. No real surprise there, and if it chips a few percentage points off an otherwise monolithic black vote for Donna Edwards, so much the better. Hopefully they’ll also vote against Question 6 as well.

Meanwhile, those who support Question 7 may have stepped into some hot water with this ad.

Now LaVar Arrington can do as he pleases, but FedEx is none too happy about their logo being prominently featured as part of the spot. Spokeswoman Maury Donahue said her company will review the ad, but they have no involvement in the issue.

But it appears the Washington Redskins do have a role, according to a Capital Gazette article questioning a $450,000 payment to the team just days before the ad was taped. It also gave Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat and Question 7 opponent, an opening to remark on the team’s involvement:

As a ‘Skins fan, the Comptroller respectfully encourages them to focus on the important tasks at hand, such as protecting RG III, shoring up their kicking game and making sorely-needed improvements to one of the league’s lowest-ranked defenses.

I’d be more interested in what the NFL has to say considering their stance on gambling, and that’s likely why they had to choose a player who’s no longer active. Much as Arrington hates losing, he may well end up on the short end of the score November 6.

Unlike Questions 4, 6, and 7, which have seen a healthy amount of media coverage, Question 5 on redistricting has been the red-headed stepchild of the quartet. But State Senator E. J. Pipkin is trying to change that a little bit:

It’s just a little bit longer than a 30-second ad, which makes me wonder how many will see this video. But this makes a lot of sense considering the Maryland Democrats who put this together definitely flunked the “compact and contiguous” requirement.

But let’s not flunk the idea of protecting the vote. Election Integrity Maryland is holding one final poll watcher training session:

Election Integrity Maryland is offering its last Poll Watcher Training session before the election, on Wednesday, October 24 – Thursday, October 25.  This comprehensive, 1-1/2 hour course is taught via webinar from the comfort of your home computer from 7:30 – 8:15 each evening.

Registration is required.  The cost is $15, which includes a spiral bound Training Guide mailed to each participant.

Signup is here. Now I prefer to work outside the polling place in an attempt to change hearts and minds, but you can provide a valuable service to your fellow citizens in this way as well.

We know that the other side is ready to go (h/t Don Stifler):

Somewhere in Baltimore City, this sign and the occupants of this dwelling are lurking. We can fight back.

I’ll definitely occupy my vote this year, and you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be for that failure named Barack Obama.

Finally, another requirement the Democrats in charge of Annapolis seem to be flunking is honesty in economic reporting. Instead of giving us the real news – which has been generally bad – they’re resorting to obfuscation. Jim Pettit at Change Maryland sent this along to me last week:

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently hosted an Annapolis summit for advocates of what is called a “Genuine Progress Indicator.”  The national forum received scant media attention and the issue itself has largely been under the radar of most mainstream media outlets.

The impetus behind the Genuine Progress Indicator, or GPI movement, is to supplant traditional federal government statistics with new and arbitrary criteria that deducts what other government bureaucrats deem as environmental and social costs that accrue from prosperity.

(Read the rest here. They also have a helpful fact sheet.)

Maryland is one of two states which have enacted a form of this method of statistical legerdemain, as Vermont signed this into law earlier this year.

Obviously Larry Hogan and Change Maryland delight in being a thorn in Martin O’Malley’s side, but the real question is why this is even being considered in the first place. To me, it comes from the same line of thinking which believes rural development should be shelved in favor of promoting “greenways” and packing people into urban centers so they can “improve” our “quality of life.”

But regardless of every statistic which can be measured, there is no way government can insure happiness. To use a baseball analogy, even if a pitcher absolutely owns a hitter to the tune of the batter being 0-for-20 against him that’s no guarantee the next at-bat won’t produce a home run. The radical Left can disparage capitalism all they want, and I’ll admit it sometimes doesn’t work very well. But these mistakes can be easily rectified by the market, and there’s no need for government to intercede. GPI is just an excuse for a greater attempt to control outcomes, with the folly of believing in equality of outcome uppermost in their minds.

It all goes back to that old saw about lies, damned lies, and statistics. When it’s in someone’s vested interest to cook the books we all know what sort of trouble can ensue. But I don’t need numbers to see that people are hurting, and it’s not from capitalism but instead from the lack thereof.

Odds and ends number 60

More dollops of blogworthy goodness, neatly bundled up in short, paragraph-or-three packages. I put them together and you raptly absorb them. It seems to be a good formula.

If you believe it’s time to ditch Dutch, you may want to know your contributions are paying for this. Here’s 30 seconds from State Senator and GOP hopeful Nancy Jacobs:

Now this is a good message, but oh! the cheesy video effects. It sort of reminds me of the Eric Wargotz “Political Insidersaurus” commercial, which had a message muddled by production. Sometimes people try too hard to be funny, but that shot of Dutch peeking around the Capitol dome might have the same effect clowns do on certain people who find them creepy.

A longer form of communication comes from a filmmaker who somehow got in touch with me to promote his upcoming documentary. It may not be “2016: Obama’s America” but Agustin Blazquez is an expert on communism, having left Castro’s Cuba as a young man nearly 50 years ago.

This movie came out October 4.

Perhaps it’s hard to read, but the gist of the film is that it exposes “Obama and his supporting network of organizations that helped him win the Presidency…and the connections with George Soros and the Communist Party U.S.A.”

I’m not going to speak to the merits of the film because I haven’t seen it. But this is a good opportunity to relate something I’ve encountered in my personal experience – the ones who seem to be most concerned about America’s slide leftward are those who have experienced Communist oppression firsthand, risking life and limb in many cases to escape to America. And they have no desire to go back.

One more video in that vein is the most recent web ad from First District Libertarian candidate Muir Boda.

One may debate whether we have a purpose for being in Afghanistan and Iraq, although in both cases we are in the slow process of withdrawing. But Boda goes farther and talks about rescinding foreign aid entirely, and that changes the terms of the debate dramatically. We can also include the idea of withdrawing from the United Nations in there.

It’s unfortunate that Andy Harris has chosen to skip the debates this time around because, in the wake of the Chris Stevens murder in Benghazi (“Obama lied, Chris Stevens died”: new foreign policy slogan) the time has come for a robust debate about how we treat both foreign relations and our dealings with Islamic extremists such as the ones who attacked our compound there.

Meanwhile, we also have to worry about our own border security in the wake of the killing of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie last week. The Center for Immigration Studies rushed out their assessment of the situation, which bolsters an argument that we need to mind our own borders. They add:

Nicholas Ivie’s name is now added to the large and growing list of individuals killed on both sides of the border as a result of failed and corrupt policies.

We need border security, but perhaps it’s time to be more libertarian and consider the impact of our War on Drugs. I can’t promise it would eliminate the Mexican cartels, and honestly their battles with a corrupt Mexican government may end up as a civil war on our doorstep. But one also has to consider what the crackdown does to American youth as well.

You’ll note I panned Andy Harris for his apparent refusal to debate a couple paragraphs ago. That works for both sides, and especially so in the wake of Barack Obama’s recent debacle.

Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer claims people know where he stands, but he’s obviously afraid to defend his views onstage and challenger Tony O’Donnell takes exception to that:

Regardless of where we stand on the issues, this election is not about where we both have been, it is about where we are going.  The citizens of our district reserve the right to witness the passion I encompass when I know our rights are in jeopardy.  Representative Steny Hoyer has lost this spark and is merely a smoldering ember underneath the smokescreen of his 45 years as an elected official in Maryland.  It’s time to blow the smoke away and ignite a new fire.

My campaign has invited Representative Hoyer to debate in front of the citizens in each county and once on television.  In addition, The Chris Plante Show attempted to arrange an on-air debate.  Also, citizens throughout the District have called for a debate.  Yet Representative Hoyer rebuffed all requests.

That’s because Hoyer knows he has some built-in advantages: the power of incumbency along with the franking privilege, a willing and compliant press, and lots of money in the bank to create 30 second commercials. In a debate he can’t control the narrative, and that’s a position of a politician who knows he’s not as popular as he may let on.

I would expect that attitude of arrogance mixed with fear from Steny Hoyer, who’s long past his sell-by date, but I hoped Andy Harris would be better than that.

In Hoyer’s case, this ad from Americans from Prosperity should be beamed into his office. It’s simple but powerful in its message.

Time to try something different indeed. I received a number of reactions to the latest unemployment report, including ones from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Lt. Col. (and Congressman) Allen West which flat-out accused the Obama administration of making it up. That’s okay, the Democrats lie on Medicare too.

Even Andy Harris responded, noting that:

I agree with what Vice President Joe Biden recently said when he stated that the middle class was “buried” over the past four years.

That is why the House voted to stop President Obama’s tax hike proposal on small business owners and the middle class, which would destroy over 700,000 jobs. We need the President and the Senate to work with House Republicans instead of continuing to promote job-destroying policies that the American people can no longer afford.

Even before the unemployment figures came out, though, the Republican Study Committee hammered President Obama and the Democrats for incomes which had fallen faster during this so-called recovery than during the preceding recession, particularly at a time where gasoline prices are skyrocketing.

The jobless recovery even extends to Wicomico County. As local researcher Johnnie Miller writes in an e-mail I obtained:

Wicomico has 132 fewer workers this year as compared to the same period last year – (08/12 vs. 08/11).  Even though the unemployment rate has declined in Wicomico from 8.8% to 8.2% – the real indicator points to the fact that those receiving unemployment checks have now exhausted their benefits and still not found jobs.

More alarmingly, somehow the county lost 1,613 workers from their labor force between July and August. 190 of them simply disappeared off the unemployment rolls as well, allowing the county’s unemployment rate to drop to 8.2%.

If this is recovery, I’d hate to see a depression. I could only imagine what the county’s U-6 unemployment rate would be.

I suppose there’s the possibility that these employment rolls may have been kept up like voter rolls are – perhaps they forgot to remove a few deceased workers. After all, the deceased really can vote in Maryland, according to the watchdog group Election Integrity Maryland:

While just scratching the surface of voter roll research, having looked at 35,000 voter registration records so far in Maryland, EIM has discovered 1,566 names of deceased still on the voter rolls.  Of these names, apparently two voted and three registered to vote after their deaths.

Talk about a serious case of rigor mortis.  But there are about 3.5 million registered voters in Maryland so if you extrapolate the numbers in a statewide race that’s 200 voters who would have been discovered, not the mention the potential for 156,600 zombie voters. It’s long past time to cull the voter rolls AND enact photo voter ID.

But let’s go back to the economy for a little bit, since those dead voters seem to be among those supporting a Governor who seems to be killing Maryland’s prospects for economic recovery in the next decade.

After Governor O’Malley appeared on CNBC yesterday, his nemesis Change Maryland immediately found significant fault with his remarks. Larry Hogan, Chairman of the group, delivered the real story:

We are very familiar with Martin O’Malley putting out falsehoods about his own record when it comes to Maryland’s economic performance. Maryland is a laggard in economic performance in our region, so he compares us to states like Michigan and Nevada.  The difference in those hard-hit states is that there top elected officials are dealing with structural problems in their economies while our Governor enjoys seeing himself on TV and making partisan attacks.

Martin O’Malley does seem to suck up a lot of airtime these days. I’ll bet a debate with him and Larry Hogan would be fun to watch in much the same manner some watch NASCAR rooting for the 14-car pileups. We all know the engineer of that train wreck would be Martin O’Malley, so the trick would be seeing if Larry Hogan could keep a straight face during all that. I’m sure I couldn’t.

What I can do, though, is leave you on that note as my e-mailbox is in much better shape. I do have some Question 7 and SB236/PlanMaryland/Agenda 21 items to discuss, but those merit their own posts. Three score odds and ends are in the books.

Sons of Liberty punctuate Wicomico MSOP meeting

In front of about 50 diehard lovers of freedom who decided the fate of their country was more important than a Ravens game – which meant they had their priorities in order – the Wicomico chapter of the Maryland Society of Patriots met Thursday night at Mister Paul’s Legacy Restaurant.

I’m sort of glad they modified the choices at the end. Anyway, Dr. Greg Belcher, the leader of the WMSOP, opened the meeting by bringing up the subject of an upcoming petition drive which had copies on each table, including mine. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but I’ll bring you up to speed in a moment.

Senate Bill 236, which passed in the 2012 regular session, is thought of as an extension of the PlanMaryland and UN Agenda 21 movement to revoke property rights. In fact, Belcher intoned that “our property rights future is at stake.” All 24 Maryland jurisdictions, including Wicomico County, are supposed to have the prescribed four-tier plan in place by December 31 of this year.

Next with remarks was local activist Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland, who reminded us that there are two more online poll watcher training seminars coming up: October 1-2 and 24-25. While this training isn’t required to be a poll watcher, it’s helpful to know what can and can’t be done, said Cathy.

Keim briefly went over the seven statewide issues on the ballot this November, with a particular emphasis on the latter four. “Martin O’Malley will look pretty silly (running for President in 2016) if we stop him” in 2012, added Keim.

She mostly reserved comment on Question 6, though, to the next speaker: Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland.

Broadus actually began his presentation by speaking briefly about Question 5, the redistricting issue. He quoted former Baltimore County GOP head Tony Campbell, who commented that “all we have to do is show people the map and it’s a winning argument.”

As for the gay marriage issue and other referendum questions, Broadus emphasized the importance of reaching out to the local minority population. For example, in majority-minority Prince George’s County local leaders there support both Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) and Question 6 because they are considered civil rights issues, and oppose Question 5 for the same reason. On the other hand, they are against Question 7 (expanding casino gambling) because they see it as benefiting the so-called “1 percent,” said Broadus.

Gay marriage is on the ballot, not just in Maryland, but three other states: Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, Robert reminded us. “The goal (of proponents) is to change our society,” he added.

Broadus also conceded that some were for Question 6 because they had gay friends or family, but asked whether the relationship with these friends or relatives was more important than their relationship with God. And while secularists “are attacking on all fronts,” Broadus called this “our Roe v. Wade moment” and admonished people not to trust the polls on this issue.

In response to a comment about secular rather than faith-based arguments about Question 6, Broadus believed this was an effort to neutralize gender in society, even though God created man and woman differently. “Marriage is not a right,” concluded the longtime marriage protector.

Finally, it was time for our main speakers, the Sons of Liberty. If you can’t read the background slide, here it is below.

It’s sort of a long name for their ministry, but Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan have taken their show on the road to hundreds of high schools throughout the country. What we were presented is only about a quarter of what they do in a normal high school stop, said Dean.

In his presentation, Bradlee Dean bemoaned a nation which had seen a “decline since the Supreme Court said no to God” back in 1962. What we are now seeing is “the fruit of a nation which turns its back on God.”

Bradlee continued by saying the Catholic Church is “right on the money” in fighting President Obama and his contraception regulations. He asked, “Why are (leftists) always attacking God? Because they want to be God.” Dean showed a number of different quotes from the earliest leaders of our country acknowledging the divine Providence shown by our Creator, as opposed to the secular humanist attitude of today’s leaders.

That general attitude was due in no small part from our mainstream media. Just read the quote on the wall behind Dean.

It was determined that controlling 25 newspapers would do the trick, and this was back in 1917! Now we have a cabal of alphabet networks working in conjunction with the largest newspapers to promote a overtly secular agenda. “You’re being lied to. End of story,” said Dean. “The media works for a corrupt administration.” Even Fox News didn’t escape Bradlee’s blunt assessment, since they decide what they want to report to you as well.

At this point Dean stepped aside for a moment, allowing “The Other Guy” Jake McMillan to present a short question-and-answer section admonishing us to think about what we read and say, with a little audience participation.

A sample question: What do they call the raised lettering which enables the deaf to read? Most people would reflexively say “Braille” but if you pay attention you’ll know the true answer is “deaf people can already read, they just can’t hear.” It was part of a broader point that “most of the liberals count on ignorance of the issues,” said Jake.

Returning to the microphone, Bradlee rattled off a number of observations about the media and Hollywood. One slide referred to a warning sign he saw in an AMC theater in Kansas a few years back when the Mel Gibson movie “The Passion of the Christ” was showing. While the sign correctly noted the movie was in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles, and had violent content enough to earn an R rating, curiously there were no other warning signs for the other PG-13 and R rated movies in the theater. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the indoctrination,” said Bradlee. “If I entertain you, I’m controlling you.”

Dean then turned to a distinction not often found in the media, which commonly refers to our nation as a “democracy.” (As have presidents since Ronald Reagan, Bradlee noted wistfully.) Our nation is a republic, continued Bradlee, ruled by law and principle rather than by what the public desires. Dean quoted several early Americans who pointed out that democracies expire from within to become tyrannies. And having visited hundreds of public schools, Dean observed that they commonly are surrounded by fences, covered by security cameras, and patrolled by armed law enforcement officers. “They’re getting kids ready for a police state” in public schools, he warned.

Continuing on to a subject near and dear to several there, Bradlee went on to describe the fight about gay marriage as one “about upending your Constitution.” It’s being used as a “political battering ram” to take us further away from our roots as a nation. “You’re dealing with totalitarianism,” Dean believed.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Bradlee wanted to stress as well his thoughts on those who have perished in defending those rights endowed by our Creator, the over 400,000 who died and the millions who live on while missing their friends and family lost in battle. “Who’s going to stand up for the veterans?” he asked.

Overall, the message was simple yet elegant: “If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any rights.”

Afterward, Bradlee and Jake stuck around for over a half-hour to answer questions, sell their various wares, including CDs, DVDs, and books, and pose for pictures like the one below.

From left to right you have Bradlee Dean of Sons of Liberty, Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland, Jake McMillan of Sons of Liberty, and Dr. Greg Belcher of the Wicomico Maryland Society of Patriots. It’s also worth mentioning that a number of Republican Central Committee members were in attendance, along with the head of the Worcester County TEA Party and MSOP head Sam Hale.

And while there was no media there besides this reporter and Julie Brewington, who’s mostly pulled away from her Right Coast Conservative blog (but was videotaping the proceedings nonetheless), we did have two write-in candidates for office.

On the left is Mike Calpino, who’s running in the First District Congressional race as the write-in not endorsed by either political party, and on the right is Worcester County resident Ed Tinus, who is resurrecting his U.S. Senate campaign after finishing last out of nine Democratic candidates in their primary with 1,064 votes, or 0.3%.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting because I’d not heard of the Sons of Liberty or Bradlee Dean’s Christian rap-rock band Junkyard Prophet before last week when I first promoted this meeting. In doing a little research on the group, the prevailing opinion on them was that they were typical bigoted Christian haters – yet I found nothing overly controversial about their viewpoints. I will grant they did not speak much specifically about gay marriage or Question 6, but their opinions on the subject are likely shared by millions in this state and across the nation. Having seen the trend of a nation falling away from a Christian God, they obviously fret that allowing same-sex marriage may open the door to an even further slouch towards Gomorrah, to borrow a term made famous by Robert Bork. I think it’s a legitimate concern, others may disagree.

And if the idea of public school is to teach children critical thinking then I can’t understand what the big deal is to have them come to a school for a few hours and speak to the kids there. But the impression I get is that Sons of Liberty faces a lot of static in putting together these presentations simply because they don’t have a politically correct viewpoint, even if the opinions they present are based in historical fact.

The duo is in the midst of a four-day swing through Maryland and northern Virginia, with future stops in several other states. Dean admitted it was hard on him to be away from his five children, but the fight to preserve his country and its God-given freedoms was worth it. Having heard the presentation, I tend to agree.

WCRC meeting – August 2012

August 27, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – August 2012 

It was a more crowded room than usual this month, telling me the excitement is palpable for this November’s election. The additional crowd was treated to a pretty thorough presentation on the county’s redistricting process by Redistricting Committee Chair Joe Collins, with additional insight provided by County Council member Gail Bartkovich.

Of course, we did the usual preliminaries: the Lord’s Prayer, reading of the minutes, and introduction of distringuished guests as well as a quite involved Treasurer’s Report thanks to expenditures for the Crab Feast.

But when Collins introduced his subject, he noted that his previous outsider’s perspective was changed by becoming part of the process and trying to “herd cats.” The cats in question were the seven members of the Redistricting Committee, each recommended by an individual County Council member. It’s worthy of noting that, as Bartkovich explained, two Republicans selected Democratic members – one to make sure a member of their Central Committee was on the panel and another who selected a Democratic woman at the eleventh hour so there would be a female representative. (Presumably the one minority member was picked by the lone minority member of County Council, their only Democrat.) So what could have by rights been a 6-1 GOP majority was voluntarily made more bipartisan. (Hear that, Martin O’Malley?)

Collins pointed out the state’s process had “plenty of bad ideas” so the county’s goals were simple: districts which were compact and contiguous, with roughly equal population and minimizing movement from one district to another.

But the “compact” proved difficult to achieve with the mandate of having a minority district, Joe said. The goals of contiguous and equal in population were done quite well, with the deviations running at less than 100 people off the desired number for any district – compare that to the allowable of 5 percent, which in Wicomico County equals about 1,000 people more or less than an even five-way split. They were “just about as equal as we could get them,” said Joe. But it was hard not to shuffle people around between districts because, as Joe explained, the minority population had migrated somewhat and what was a majority-minority district when drawn in 2000 was no longer so. This map makes District 1 almost 60% minority.

(It’s also worth noting that the 2000 map drawn by a Democratic County Council had the two most Democratic districts as the smallest two and the most pronounced Republican district as the largest. This map is much more even-handed.)

Bartkovich filled us in a little bit on the process, telling those assembled that maps were sent to each municipality and each firehouse for public inspection. There were “very few comments,” she said, which in my opinion means the committee did a good job. (I wholeheartedly endorse this map.)

The one big complaint about this map came from the Board of Elections, which saw the number of precincts rise from 38 to 52. In part, though, the state is also at fault because of how they gerrymandered the county with its legislative districts. In contrast, the county’s redistricting committee tried to use natural and significant man-made boundaries to the fullest extent possible – case in point: the eastern half of the county is almost perfectly divided into two districts by U.S. 50.

Bartkovich announced it was likely the County Council would preserve this map, but with a “little tweaking.” Most of the changes sought were in the minority district, but others were more procedural: there are precincts with fewer than ten voters under this plan, so small portions may change for that sake. “Your committee did an excellent job,” Bartkovich told Collins. (I’m holding them to that, by the way.)

Turning to the Central Committee, Dave Parker related a number of upcoming events: a convention watch party at GOP headquarters on August 30 (to watch Mitt Romney accept his nomination), sign waving on August 31, the Addie Eckardt fundraiser I briefly detailed yesterday on September 9, Andy Harris’s Bull Roast on September 22, the state party’s Oktoberfest on October 19, and of course the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival, where we will have a presence.

Cynthia Williams made the not-so-shocking announcement that the GOP headquarters was out of most Romney items except a lone t-shirt and some buttons. The same is true for Dan Bongino items, which Shawn Jester said they “can’t keep on the shelves.” (One reason for this I’ll share in an upcoming post.)

We received some good news from Woody Willing, who told us the local Board of Elections had done its job and purged unqualified voters from the voter rolls – most had come back as not living at the listed address. Over 900 voters were taken off from the most recent purge moved from active to the inactive list – now if other counties would do their job, Election Integrity Maryland wouldn’t have to nag them about it. Woody also had a minor victory to report on the scholarship front, as the WCRC scholarship will be listed by the Board of Education for this coming school year.

Speaking of EIM, Cathy Keim restated the group has online poll watcher training available and also announced that certain counties are crying out for Republican election judges – for example, Prince George’s County needs over 400. Locally, though, Keim announced “I have the utmost confidence in our election board.”

I duly noted (and was backed up by many others) that attendance at the Farm and Home Show was poor. Unfortunately, I also found out the awards were well-attended – but we had already pulled up stakes. That was my fault; I took the blame.

Bob Miller assessed that we “got through (the Crab Feast) okay” but he was ready to hand it over to a younger man. We indeed found someone who will take up the reins for next year.

Cynthia Williams, who is helping out with the Lower Shore headquarters, noted the hours of operation (10 to 8 weekdays, 10 to 4 Saturday) and added there are “lots of spaces on the signup boards.”

The annual Christmas Party will be December 2 at 5 p.m., announced Ann Suthowski. One change, though, will be the location as we move to Mister Paul’s Legacy for the event.

And while it wasn’t part of the agenda, there was a lot of talk about the “2016: Obama’s America” movie, which one observer called “a very unsettling movie…I can’t find fault with it.” Several in the crowd had already seen it, but it was recommended that the others make tracks to check it out.

Our next meeting is going to be unique as we leave the familiar confines of the Chamber of Commerce building to hold it at our Lower Shore headquarters on South Salisbury Boulevard. It will still be on the fourth Monday (September 24) at the same time.

Odds and ends number 56

I have a veritable catch-all of little feature items best handled in a paragraph or two, so I’ll get cracking!

First of all is an important update from the state Board of Elections with the ballot language for the seven statewide issues as well as a number of local questions (including four from Wicomico County.)

At first read, it doesn’t appear there’s any effort to deceive people into voting in a counter-intuitive manner (e.g. voting for an issue to repeal a particular law.) It appears that those who want to repeal certain laws would indeed vote against them at the ballot box.

I am a little concerned about the way Question 6 is worded, though. Here’s how the same-sex marriage bill is presented:

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.

Of the seven questions the state presents to voters, this is the longest. Actually, if you removed the first clause it’s not a bad law but the part about gay and lesbian couples is a non-starter, which is probably why that language was added – people will say, oh, okay, the churches don’t have to participate. But that’s not the point, and the additional language obfuscates it.

I also wonder why the term “same-sex” wasn’t used. With the possible exception of Question 3, it’s just going to be down-the-line “against” for me. But on a local level, I’m all for two of the proposed changes – not quite sure about the last two questions quite yet.

I’m very disappointed, though, that the term limits proposal for the County Executive did not make it through County Council. Apparently several Republicans don’t have the spine to return the county to a citizen-based power structure, ensuring no individual would run the county for more than eight years. I guess we will have to primary them, won’t we?

Of course, last night the County Council heard testimony about the county’s redistricting plan for a work session today. I happen to think the plan put in place by the Redistricting Committee is quite sound and well thought out because it uses a number of significant natural and man-made boundaries (like U.S. 50) to define districts as well as making change easier in the future.

But scuttlebutt I’m hearing is that a second plan is in the works; one which will be more favorable to certain incumbents on County Council. While it’s true that about 1/4 of the county’s population is displaced by the Redistricting Committee’s plan, the goal is to establish more permanent district boundaries which won’t change as much in future years. One thing I like about the Redistricting Committee’s plan is how it keeps most of the communities together – obviously Salisbury has to be divided into at least two districts based on population and this map puts the heart of the city into either District 1 (the majority-minority district) or District 4. (Since I began work on this post last night, I have learned there is a second plan, drawn up by a county employee. While I haven’t seen it, my impression is that it’s closer to the old map.)

Speaking of elections, this tidbit came to me from Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland. It’s “even better than being a poll watcher” and it goes right to the heart of the problem.

I asked Anthony Gutierrez, our local BOE head, if you have to be registered in the county that you serve as an election judge.  He said no.  As long as you are a Maryland registered voter, you can be an election judge in any county that hires you.  He also stated that Baltimore has a terrible time recruiting enough Republican and non-partisan election judges.  The goal is to have one chief judge from each major party at each polling place.  If they cannot do that, then they try to get a non-partisan judge.  If they can’t do that……then it just has to be two of the same party!  This holds for regular judges also.

Being an election judge is even better than being a poll watcher as you are actually running the election. Please bring this up to the GOP that they need to be filling these positions in Baltimore and PG County and maybe other counties.  I know that this is a regular problem, so the GOP should already be aware of it, but it never hurts to get people working on a solution sooner rather than later.

In Wicomico County we only have about 38 precincts, so presumably they only need 38 election judges from each party.  But if you’re armed with the poll watcher training and are an election judge in a “problem” county it’s indeed possible to give the Democrats fits by insisting the letter of the law be followed.

Apparently they’re not going to follow the letter of the law in Tampa during the Republican convention. If you believe the Accuracy in Media group and writer Tina Trent, agitators funded by radical left-wingers including George Soros are plotting to disrupt the proceedings – of course, they’ll get plenty of press coverage if they succeed. Meanwhile, during the next week there are going to be protests in Charlotte at the Democrats’ shindig (some by unions bitterly disappointed the convention is being held in a right-to-work state) but you won’t hear a peep.

The President’s campaign also has the laughable idea that seeing five years of Mitt Romney’s tax returns are enough. This is part of a missive from Obama For Against America’s Jim Messina:

Friday morning, I sent a letter to Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, asking that Romney release just five years of tax returns. And I made a commitment that, if he does, this campaign would not demand more.

You should add your name. Here’s why:

Right now, our opponent is proposing a $2,000 tax increase on middle-class families with kids in order to pay for tax breaks for millionaires like him.

He’s asking Americans to put him in charge of their taxes, while refusing to come clean about his own.

This isn’t going away because voters deserve better, and everyone but the Romney campaign seems to recognize that.

(snip)

Romney’s refusal to release his returns is raising more questions than he’s been willing to answer.

According to the one full year of returns he has released, Romney paid 13.9% in taxes on his income. Thursday, he said he went back and looked, and has never paid less than 13% over the last ten years.

Now we’re asking him to put his money where his mouth is.

It is absolutely relevant for us to ask how much a presidential candidate paid in taxes, if he sheltered his money or tried to get out of paying taxes at all, why he started — and continues to own — a corporation offshore in Bermuda, why he keeps his finances offshore in the Cayman Islands, and why he opened a Swiss bank account.

(snip)

This issue isn’t going away, and for good reason. Tell Romney to follow 30 years of precedent and release his tax returns.

Next thing you know, they’ll be asking for ten years’ worth. Meanwhile, we don’t have any of Obama’s college records, never mind the whole birth certificate thing. Of course, anyone can Photoshop any sort of “fake but accurate” documents they want, but that’s not the point, either.

I truly don’t give a damn whether Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account or money in the Cayman Islands. It’s his money and he can do as he pleases with it. And paying almost 14% of his taxes on his income? Just ask an average American who scores a big tax refund check, complete with earned income credit, what rate he or she paid and I’ll bet the answer may surprise you. Sorry, Jim Messina, that class warfare card is no good here.

That’s Obama’s America. And to that effect a movie will be shown locally beginning Friday – showtimes are here, and the trailer is below.

I may have to go see this one, and I am not a movie buff.

I’m going to close with a little encouragement from a fellow blogger – Marianne (aka Zilla of the Resistance) has been through a lot with her late stage Lyme Disease. Well, not only has she found improvement with some of her most painful symptoms of late, she’s also received some cheering news from the Mitt Romney camp as he’s making what Marianne terms a “bold stand” against those medical professionals skeptical of some possible treatments for the disease. (Maryland is one area affected more heavily than most.) Perhaps there’s light at the end of the tunnel for her, and it’s not an oncoming train.

The light at the end of this post is also here, but it’s only the next post down. I encourage you to keep reading.

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