Primary colors

I came across this nugget and it got me to pondering. One would think we don’t have this issue in Maryland with just one Republican Congressman who was supported by the group, but read on.

For a bit of context, let me refer you to another Congressional scorecard put out by the Club for Growth. In it, our Congressman Andy Harris received a respectable (but not outstanding) score of 86 percent. He easily outdistanced the other state Republican, now-former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, but finished outside the top 10 percent of Congress and didn’t crack the top 50. That’s a departure from his 2011 score of 95 percent and 22nd place ranking.

Yet there’s probably not a lot of danger that we’ll see Andy Harris’s face plastered on this site, called Primary My Congressman! This is another Club For Growth project, complete with the picture of the rhino (for RINO) in the heading. Their reasoning for the site:

Many of these RINOs represent districts that are heavily Republican where it would be difficult for the right Republican candidate to lose. In fact, the nonpartisan Cook Report, a political handicapper, found that in 2012, 190 Congressional districts were considered “Strongly Republican,” meaning that they were not even competitive in the general election. In 96 Congressional districts, 2012 Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney received more than 60% of the vote. Romney received more than 55% of the vote in 159 districts!

On the flip side, according to the 2012 pro-free market, limited government Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard, only 39 members of Congress have lifetime scores of 90% or above on their voting records relating to economic freedom and pro-growth policy.

This means that in districts that are heavily Republican, there are literally dozens of missed opportunities to elect real fiscal conservatives to Congress — not more “moderates” who will compromise with Democrats to just increase spending and grow government a little bit slower than usual.

While I see the Club for Growth’s point, it bears mentioning that the aforementioned Harris had to overcome a bloody and bitter primary in 2008, not to mention the stiff headwind presented by the combination of an uninspiring Republican Presidential candidate, a Democrat with a populist message, and a vanquished primary opponent who turned traitor and endorsed the Democrat – yet Harris only lost by less than 3,000 votes in an election where the Libertarian garnered over 8,000. The 2010 primary was much less eventful and the final tally much more reflective of the actual composition of the First District.

In defeating any or all of these targeted Republicans, the conservative has to be aware that, in many cases, the party establishment won’t be happy about the unwelcome guest. Being on a Central Committee, I can understand the notion of trying to avoid divisive primary fights due to the common misconception it would harm them in the general election. One can point to the Andy Harris example in 2008 as a case study in the effect of a contested primary, but bear in mind that had Republicans electorally stayed home and not followed the advice of the turncoat Wayne Gilchrest Harris may still have pulled it out. Having a fairly serious primary opponent in 2010 didn’t hurt Harris; meanwhile, Frank Kratovil had both the power of incumbency and no primary opponent, so in the eyes of conventional wisdom Kratovil should have had an advantage.

But if you want to help the conservative movement in a different way, why not turn the Club for Growth’s advice on its head?

If you are a conservative in what may be considered a hopelessly Democratic Congressional district, why not turn the tables on the establishment liberal and primary them as a Democrat? Obviously the chances of winning in this quest are quite remote, but there are several good things which can happen:

  1. As a conservative Democrat, you can spread that pro-liberty message to an audience which generally hears the word “Republican” and tunes out.
  2. If enough people begin to question the incumbent plantation liberal, he or she has to start paying attention to the district rather than being able to assist other Democrats in their election.
  3. And of course, if a conservative Democrat happens to win, they have two choices: either switch parties to their more natural home or be an absolute thorn in the side of the Democratic leadership in Washington. I don’t have nearly the problem with DINOs as I do with RINOs.

I’m sure there are some TEA Party types who are Democrats, but may not be active ones. Obviously we have made inroads in the local Republican Party but it may be time to do some more stealth movement into the Democratic side. (Arguably, there were at least three Democrats on the 2010 Wicomico County primary ballot who could pass for Republicans – none of them won, but unfortunately two ran for the same seat.)

The local test case for this may be Wicomico’s Council District 1. I’d love to see a good conservative Republican run for this post, but I would love it even more if a conservative minority Democrat ran for the office as well. I’m sure there are a lot of voters there who look solely at the party label at the ballot box, but if presented a choice would agree with pro-liberty principles – especially when it comes to education and the economy.

While it may be heresy to say this as a member of the Republican Central Committee, I will admit there are some conservatives who simply won’t join the Republican Party as a matter of principle. There have been possible matchups in the past where I would have voted for the Democrat over a more moderate Republican, but the conservative Democrats didn’t get out of the primary. I encourage them to keep trying, though, because I would rather have a choice between two conservatives in whom I have confidence to lead the pro-liberty movement than my usual option of either voting for a speed bump on the highway to tyranny or slamming down the hammer on the road to serfdom.

MDGOP to Democrats: return “dirty contributions”

January 6, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off 

Well, this is an interesting case indeed.

It seems that a Catonsville developer flouted campaign contribution laws by soliciting associates of his to make “straw donations” on his behalf to a Democratic Baltimore County Council member. Multiple reports relate that Stephen Whalen is on the hook for over $50,000 in fines for these transgressions.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe in campaign contribution limits so the Whalen conviction was a witch hunt of sorts. Yet there is a side to the story which should be exposed and that’s the sheer number of candidates and slates that Whalen and his companies made nearly $200,000 in contributions to over the last several years. Most of us who follow the law know that the limit for a state election cycle is $4,000 in donations to a particular candidate and $10,000 in total for the cycle.

David Ferguson of the MDGOP sent me a list of those who benefited from the largess, and it reads like a who’s who of Baltimore-area Democratic politics (with a couple exceptions.) Let’s start from the top, shall we?

  • Democratic National Committee
  • National Association Industrial & Office Parks PAC
  • President Barack Obama
  • Former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (7th District)
  • Former Congressman Frank Kratovil (1st District)
  • Governor Martin O’Malley
  • Comptroller Peter Franchot
  • State Senator Delores Kelly
  • State Senator Edward Kasemeyer
  • House Speaker Delegate Michael Busch
  • Delegate Emmitt Burns
  • Delegate Adrienne Jones
  • Delegate Stephen DeBoy
  • Delegate James Malone
  • Delegate Stephen Lafferty
  • Delegate Peter Hammen
  • 23rd District Slate
  • District 12A Slate
  • Howard County Executive Ken Ulman
  • Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
  • Former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith
  • Baltimore County Council member Vicki Almond
  • Baltimore County Council member Kenneth Oliver
  • Baltimore County Council member Cathy Bevins

It’s not the whole list, as there were a few primary losers in the bunch. There were also five Republicans named, with Bob Ehrlich and Baltimore County Council members David Marks and Todd Huff the three winners among the group. (Marks has returned his contributions from Whalen.)

Ferguson condemned the Democrats who have been recipients of over 95% of Whalen’s generosity. In a statement, the MDGOP’s Executive Director says:

Those who have received contributions from Stephen Whalen should follow the lead of Baltimore County Councilman David Marks and return his dirty contributions. Whalen gave over 96% of his contributions to Democrats and it is unacceptable for nearly $200,000 to be floating through the Democrat Party’s coffers from an individual convicted of political corruption.

Stephen Whalen’s conviction is another consequence of Maryland being a political monopoly for Democrats and their cronies. Unfortunately, this culture of corruption is standard operating procedure for crooked politicians and donors like Stephen Whalen looking to pay-for-play. For six years, Martin O’Malley and his allies have willfully embraced the lack of ethics in their government.

There’s no doubt that money may have been the lubricant for Whalen to grease the skids on getting his developments built: his company’s website states they specialize in medical office space around the outskirts of Baltimore.

(I find it somewhat ironic, then, that he supports many of the same Democrats who have voted to curtail growth in rural and suburban areas. Perhaps there’s more infrastructure in areas Whalen is interested in.)

So once again the state’s majority party is caught with its hand in the cookie jar, but do they condemn this violation of the law? No, they’d rather take potshots at Andy Harris for voting against a pork-laden hurricane relief bill. Their silence on the transgression is deafening and speaks volumes about the corruption they’re happy to put up with for political gain.

After all the shouting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For U.S. Senate

I was actually going to wait until the Sunday before the primary to do this, but realized with early voting I probably should put this out at a time when I can maximize the effect.

When the filing deadline came and went in January, we ended up with ten people on the ballot seeking to challenge incumbent Senator Ben Cardin on the Republican side. (There are also eight Democratic challengers who, with the exception of State Senator C. Anthony Muse, will be lucky to see 20 percent of the vote as a collection.)

But if you look at the ten on our side as a group, you can start to pick out those who have a legitimate chance pretty early. Some have been on the ballot before, but have never come close to grabbing the brass ring. You know, one would think guys like Corrogan Vaughn or John Kimble might get the hint at some point but they soldier on nonetheless, appearing on ballot after ballot every two years for some office. This is Vaughn’s fourth Senate try (counting an abortive 2010 run) and Kimble’s third, although he’s been on a ballot every two years for some federal office since 1996. Another 2012 candidate, Joseph Alexander, ran in the 2010 Senate primary and finished a distant third with 5.9% of the vote.

Others have been in local races and lost. Rick Hoover ran twice for the Third District Congressional nod in 2004 and 2006 and didn’t distinguish himself enough to not be an also-ran. William Capps took on an incumbent State Senator and lost in 2010, while Robert Broadus had the unenviable task of attempting to win as a Republican in the Fourth Congressional District. While Broadus only gathered 16% of the vote, it was a better showing than the Republican winner had in 2008 against Edwards. But even Broadus lost in the 2008 primary – he was unopposed in 2010.

There are four others who are making their first run for statewide office, with Brian Vaeth and David Jones the lesser-known duo of the group. I haven’t heard anything from Vaeth, but David Jones is a candidate who, with some polish and a more appropriate race for a single dad to get into (on the scale of a countywide or House of Delegates district contest) could have a future in the political arena. He had a message which was trying to come out, but a statewide campaign presents an awfully steep learning curve.

Out of the eight I have cited so far, the battle for third place shapes up between Broadus, based on his performance in a difficult district and the ready-made issue he has with his position as head of Protect Marriage Maryland, Alexander (simply based on 2010 results), and Jones (as a hard worker who’s quite likable.) One of the others might surprise me, but these are the guys who seem to me as the aspirants for Miss Congeniality.

Yet the race is really coming down to two men. Each brings something unique to the table.

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A twist in the Sixth

February 16, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Kratovil Watch, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off 

There are two reasons I like the Maryland Juice website: one, because I like to keep tabs on what the opposition is doing, and two, I like the way it is written. Unlike certain recent commentators on this site, the author is willing to stand up for what he believes using his real name. I rarely agree with him, but I can respect his opinion.

David Moon related an interesting development on the Democratic side in the Sixth Congressional District race yesterday: it seems that Democratic candidate John Delaney is being raked over the coals for making a $2,400 contribution in 2010 to Congressman Andy Harris. (Yes, you read that right.)

But before you begin thinking, “hey, a Democrat with a little common sense,” there are a few caveats in play here.

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Harris draws first challenger

November 25, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

There won’t be a Kratovil-Harris round 3, but the First District race won’t be a walkover, either.

Instead, a Baltimore County business owner and “arts advocate” has entered the race for the First District seat Andy Harris won in 2010. It appears Wendy Rosen’s main planks will be a “Buy American” push and a claim to “GOP values.”

But Wendy is having a tough go of it so far. While it’s a young campaign, the fact that she has only 44 likes on her campaign’s Facebook page and, more telling, a total of $550 donated so far (on a $100,000 goal) may suggest that her struggle will be quite the uphill battle.

Obviously there’s not a lot to go on since Wendy is in the Congressional arena for the first time. And while her business ownership would be an asset insofar as appealing to moderate voters goes, she can’t lay claim to the “Eastern Shore values” mantle Frank Kratovil rode to success in 2008 – in fact, she may not survive a primary challenge if a politician well-known on this side of the Bay jumps into the race. There has been the rumor floating around that Jim Mathias may take a shot at it because it’s the middle of the state’s four-year cycle; of course that hasn’t been uttered as much lately because the new First District lines make the district lean quite a bit more Republican.

It would appear that Wendy’s best chance would be to have no primary opponents so she can concentrate on the November, 2012 race. But that’s probably not going to happen as the last 10 election cycles have only seen two races where a Democratic nominee was unopposed from the First District: 2010, where Kratovil was the incumbent, and 2002. Including those two races, an average of 3.4 aspirants have sought the Democratic nod.

And the other wild card is having new territory added to the district, as it now stretches farther westward than in previous years. Unfortunately for Democrats, that new area is pretty solidly Republican – yet it’s possible a Democratic candidate could emerge from those new areas.

Obviously I’ll keep an eye on developments in this race – and anything can happen over the next 11 months – but for the time being it appears Andy Harris doesn’t have a lot to worry about.

1 vs. 100

Well, okay, it’s not quite on the scale of the game show but one has to snicker at the thought of covering a protest in front of Andy Harris’s office that draws 20 people. Shoot, the TEA Party got more than that to go to former Congressman Frank Kratovil’s office, brought a noose, and still couldn’t get any local media attention besides local bloggers like me. Never mind that we’d get 300 or 400 for a nice local gathering, whether in the bright sunshine or pouring rain.

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Let the gerrymander begin

Why am I not surprised that the three members of the state’s redistricting panel who could be bothered to show up for a meeting on the lower Eastern Shore looked so disinterested? Maybe it’s because they knew there was already something in the can?

According to Len Lazarick and the Maryland Reporter, the Congressional map could look like that described in this article today. Certainly the Democrats who managed to pack GOP voters into two Congressional districts last time around have outdone themselves this time by making the First Congressional District roughly an R+20 district, give or take. That’s great news for Andy Harris, whose district actually remains relatively similar except for losing the small portion of Anne Arundel County he represents but gaining the northern parts of Baltimore and Harford counties now in the Sixth Congressional District. Maybe the Democrats figure that, by running Frank Kratovil again and lying some more about Andy’s record, they can still pull the upset like they did in 2008 in an R+15 district.

On the other hand, Roscoe Bartlett’s Sixth District would be nearly sliced off at the western line of Frederick County, instead taking the predicted southern turn through extreme southern Frederick County to encompass a large portion of what is now the Eighth Congressional District in Montgomery County. Other current Sixth District voters in Frederick County would flip over to the Eighth District; meanwhile, much of Carroll County would be added to an L-shaped Seventh Congressional District which ends up in the heart of Baltimore City. Yep, those voters have SO much in common. The eastern edge of the Sixth District switches over to the First.

And poor Anne Arundel County would again be divided between four Congressional Districts: the Second Congressional District which hopscotches around the Baltimore suburbs, the Third Congressional District which veers around in a convoluted sort of “Z” shape around much of the rest of Baltimore, the Fourth Congressional District shared with Prince George’s County, and the Fifth Congressional District which stretches southward to the Potomac River. Nope, no effort to gain political advantage and protect incumbents there.

Once again, should this map or something similar be adopted, Maryland will be the laughingstock of good government advocates and further enshrine themselves into a Gerrymandering Hall of Shame. Simply put, the three districts which involve Baltimore City are a complete joke when it seems to me their interests would be better served by having one Congressman to call their own rather than sharing with the rural expanses of Carroll County or various points in the suburbs.

And the sad thing is that this committee obviously didn’t listen to legitimate concerns expressed by members of both parties who said they should better respect geographic lines. Local Democrats will obviously be crushed to see their wishes of a “balanced” First District tossed out the window – of course they’d get over it if the changes meant the Democrats had a 7-1 Congressional edge in a state they should rightfully (by voter registration numbers) enjoy only a 5-3 margin.

Nope, it’s all about power, particularly in the jigsaw puzzle they create in the middle of the state. So how do we get standing in court to fight this?

35th Annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

As the old saying goes, there are two sides to (almost) every story, and the annual event in Crisfield provides plenty of comparisons.

Take the location for example – a marina filled with boats valued in the tens of thousands of dollars hard by low-income housing. Denizens of the immediate neighborhood look forward to the Clam Bake as it provides an opportunity to sell parking spots to people who don’t wish to walk as far to the event.

In short, they create their own economic development. But bringing 3,500 visitors to Crisfield is an economic boost to the area.

While the event has a reputation as a political stop, there is a business element there too. Some companies look to get or keep their name out in the area.

Others use it as a reward to their customers, hosting elaborate parties within the party.

But the crowd was noticeably smaller than last year’s. Yes, this is not an election year but even the number of businesses which took tent space seemed smaller. How often do you see this?

Maybe it’s something about Area 51? But this is a shot I took around 1:30 or so at the peak of the festivities.

Compare that crowd to this still shot from last year.

Even the mugs weren’t being snatched up as quickly.

As you’ll notice in the panoramic picture, there are two main areas where crowds gather. On one side are the smaller tents set up for businesses and groups. But many people sit in the pavilion and enjoy musical entertainment.

I can’t say I’m a fan of country or bluegrass, but a number of people sat under the pavilion to listen.

I know, I know – you readers are saying, “Michael, you have a political website. What’s the political dirt?” Well, there are two sides to that as well.

One guy who seems to straddle that line is Bruce Bereano, who annually has among the largest tents and his own “corner.” However, with a revised setup this year he was more in the middle.

In a nice touch, Bereano has honored a local leader for the last couple years.

If you don’t believe he works to both sides of the aisle, consider that the following two signs were close together on his tent.

Could this be the gubernatorial matchup for 2014? Peter Franchot could obviously be entrenched as Comptroller for as long as he wants to be but my feeling is he wants something more. Meanwhile, David Craig is term-limited as Harford County Executive but obviously has a run for something in mind three years hence. My guess would be that “something” is a long-term stay in Government House.

A matchup which will occur sooner is a statewide battle for the U.S. Senate seat held by Ben Cardin. Presumably he was a little busy today, but a number of volunteers were sporting his colors and registering voters as they stood in the food lines.

Arriving a little later was a man who’s aiming to be his Republican rival, Dan Bongino. Here he’s talking to Bill Harris of Cecil County.

I also spied Eric Wargotz there with his wife. But he wasn’t openly campaigning at this time.

Like Senator Cardin, Congressman Andy Harris was likely a little busy today but had volunteers and signs with a sharply pointed message about. Eventually a lot of folks were wearing yellow Harris shirts.

By gosh, I think Andy is right. But there was someone quite familiar to him there.

Allow me to pose a question. Why would you spend $200 on tickets and a half tank of gas to come down and eat crabs one can probably get just as readily in Queen Anne’s County? Perhaps it’s a case of best two out of three? For all his talk about time with the family I don’t think, given the power and prestige of a seat in Congress, he can let it go just to be a cheerleader for Ben Cardin.

And there were a few cheerleaders for our state’s junior Senator.

Yet the Democrats had a modest, unassuming presence compared to the GOP.

That’s not to say both parties weren’t represented, to be sure. Here’s two of our best freshman Delegates, Charles Otto and Justin Ready.

They weren’t the only freshmen Republicans there, as I saw Michael Hough, Kathy Szeliga, and of course my Delegate Mike McDermott at the event.

Meanwhile, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt was reaching across the aisle, greeting old friends in the Somerset County Republican tent.

On the other hand, Norm Conway was holed up around the Democrats’ base.

Even the unaffiliated were there. Yes, last I checked Laura Mitchell of Salisbury City Council doesn’t state a party affiliation. I did catch up to her just outside the Democratic tent, though.

Nor was national politics forgotten. Kevin Waterman (who some may know for the Questing for Atlantis website) came supporting his choice for President, Gary Johnson.

Republican politics must run in that family – his mother Diana (who I cut off in the photo) is First Vice-Chair of the Maryland GOP.

Needless to say, the media was there as well. WBOC-TV was on location shooting footage, and I saw print reporters and fellow bloggers about, too.

But I’m curious if anyone else will report on this tidbit.

Notice the flag placed in the corner of the Democrats’ tent? It’s the Wicomico County flag.

Now I’m not convinced that the official imprimatur of our fair county should be in that tent – granted, Democrats have a plurality of voters here but Republicans hold more elected seats in county government. If it’s an endorsement of Democratic principles (such as they are) for our county, consider me as a conscientious objector.

So while the turnout was smaller than in years past, it was still a good event for the Crisfield community. And the rain, which I noticed on my drive back, stayed away.

Look for an interesting cast of characters for next year’s event, which should fall after the 2012 primary on July 18, 2012.

‘Civil Rights Day’ and the state of civility

January 17, 2011 · Posted in National politics, Politics · Comments Off 

First of all, the reason I titled this post as I did is that I think this holiday should be known as ‘Civil Rights Day.’ It rarely falls on the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and given the government’s love of three-day weekends perhaps a name change is in order. For example, we rarely celebrate Washington’s Birthday on its actual date and to most it’s truncated into President’s Day.

While today Dr. King is being eulogized once again in a number of ways, perhaps this is a good time to reflect on the discourse of the civil rights era; a decade which roughly spanned from the mid-1950′s to the mid-1960′s. I was born at the very tail end of the decade, so I won’t claim that I marched in Selma or anything like that. From what I understand about the time, though, there was some seriously heated political rhetoric and on a few occasions this boiled over into violence.

Obviously we’ve come a long way since then, with the election of Barack Obama supposedly the trigger for a ‘post-racial’ society. Yet TEA Partiers like myself are tarred with the moniker of ‘racist’ by simply questioning the wisdom of Obama’s policies and plans. By extension, yes, we are questioning the content of Obama’s character but we are accused of basing our opposition on the amount of pigment in Obama’s skin.

To give another example, ask a black Republican how many times he or she is called an “Oreo” or an “Uncle Tom.”

All this call for ‘civility’ comes in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many others in Tuscon, a shooting where six victims died. It also comes after lefties got their weekend exercise jumping to conclusions about how shooter Jared Loughner simply had to be a TEA Party regular who got his marching orders from Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and obeyed the target symbols on the internet for Giffords’ Congressional district. Yet once evidence came out that he was a political agnostic who was, if anything, left of center – ::: sound of crickets chirping ::: .

Assuming most of you have read this blog a few times, it’s likely you know that I reside well right of center on the political scale, and had I lived in Arizona’s Eighth District I’d likely have voted for her Republican opponent in November. (In fact, Gabrielle Giffords won this election in a similar fashion to that which Frank Kratovil won our district in 2008 – via plurality, with a Libertarian candidate taking 3.9% of the Eighth District vote.)

It’s also known that I covered the July 2009 event here in Salisbury where Frank Kratovil was hung in effigy. Certainly I believe in First Amendment rights, as one might suspect I would being a member of the ‘pajamas media.’ But as I said at the time:

Let me say straight away that I wouldn’t have recommended the noose and effigy of Frank Kratovil. The “no Kratovil in 2010″ (sign) would have been effective enough.

But don’t forget that the local lefties decided to intrude upon an AFP event just a few months ago, with the intent being to disrupt the proceedings and embarass the eventual winning candidate. Admittedly, a chicken suit is less threatening than a noose but neither rise to the level of actual bloodshed.

The point is that my criticism of Kratovil would have likely been similar to that of Giffords had I lived in her district, and I wouldn’t have been shy in sharing it. But I would have been just as horrified about Loughner’s actions.

(In fact, I have a separate article I submitted to Pajamas Media about another effect the Giffords shooting may have on political discourse, with a somewhat different angle than I present here. It may be on there as soon as tomorrow.)

Some say that the political tone we are saddled with these days, with its superheated rhetoric, can be toned down on both sides. But had Martin Luther King, Jr. been assassinated in 2011 instead of 1968, we likely still would have had the scattered rioting which occurred in the wake of his death. Emotional reactions to the death of popular leaders seldom change but are manifested in different ways.

Like it or not, part of the price of living in a free society as we do is having to put up with these arguments. Normally they are settled by the ballot, though, and it’s telling that it took someone with a mental illness to settle their differences with a bullet. Fortunately, our society still prefers the former solution despite the best efforts of some to argue otherwise.

The end of Americans for Prosperity?

Well, at least one observer thinks the TEA Party will be awful mad about a recent statement by the group’s president.

Writing at the Green Hell Blog (h/t Blue Ridge Forum), Steve Milloy posits that a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rep. Fred Upton, incoming head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Americans for Prosperity head Tim Phillips charts a course toward capitulation to the Democrats and Obama Administration through a “sensible bipartisan compromise” on delaying the EPA regulations until the courts can determine their fate.

Obviously each individual chapter of AFP need not follow the dictates of the group’s president, but at a time where the group has been criticized locally (by a onetime AFP head) and around the state for being too co-opted by “establishment” Republicans who wanted to take advantage of the TEA Party and its energy, this is probably not the way for the organization to go.

Conservatives and TEA Partiers were already upset that it was Upton’s turn to be head of that committee, preferring instead that Rep. Joe Barton reassume the job he lost when Republicans were ousted from the majority in 2006. He would have needed a waiver of a six-year term limit on the chairmanship, but argued that his term effectively was wasted for four of those years by being simply the ranking member.

The problem with “sensible bipartisan compromise” is that one man’s ‘sensible’ is another man’s ‘surrender’ and it seems to me we have the mandate on our side. (Never mind that one side also has the tendency to lie through its teeth when it comes to cutting spending or the size of government. Their idea of government cuts? How about the ‘peace dividend’ and other ways of gutting the military?)

Furthermore, we’ve just come out of a ‘lame duck’ Congressional session where bipartisan compromise in the Senate gave us gays serving openly in the military, a bad nuclear treaty, another round of unemployment benefit extensions, and restoration of the death tax in exchange for a puny two-year extension of current income tax rates. Perhaps some of these shortcomings can be addressed in the upcoming 112th Congress (which will, among other things, replace our local ’Blue Dog’ Democrat Frank Kratovil with conservative Andy Harris) but if this piece by Upton reflects the tenor of House leadership toward Democrats the TEA Party will be sorely disappointed.

At risk is a group which already has a serious strike against it by being, as they state on their website, ”a section 501(c)(4) organization under the Internal Revenue Code… AFP can advocate for and against specific legislation at the state and federal levels.” But they can’t advocate for or against particular candidates, which becomes a problem in the cases where a conservative squares off against an “establishment” party member in the primary. While other TEA Party organizations scored successes in that area (like electing Marco Rubio in Florida) AFP had to remain silent and watch as other TEA Party conservatives like Joe Miller in Alaska or Sharron Angle in Nevada lost close races, in part because of the reluctance of ‘establishment’ Republicans to back the upstarts.

On a more local scale, imagine if AFP could have openly backed Michael James for a Maryland Senate seat or Joe Ollinger for County Executive. It could have made the difference, particularly in the Senate race where Democrat Jim Mathias all but portrayed himself as Ronald Reagan reincarnated.

Locally, the AFP chapter has waned since one co-founder left after her ill-fated run for office and the other, ironically enough, vacated to take an elected position in the local Republican Party. The former has shifted her involvement into the Wicomico Society of Patriots, an offshoot of the state group.

And she’ll be the one who might be saying “I told you so.”

Obviously, unless they decide to seek office and win, the amount of fealty an officeholder has to someone’s set of principles will almost never be 100 percent. (Witness the results of the ongoing monoblogue Accountability Project, which will return next summer.) But in the political arena, where making law is akin to making sausage, compromising the broad set of principles most in the TEA Party stand for should be a last resort and not an opening parlay. That’s a gambit which will never pay off in dividends for freedom-loving Americans like those in the TEA Party and may lead to a damaging third-party effort come 2012.

The Battle for America 2010: Democrats push Libertarian in MD-1 with phony mailings

November 1, 2010 · Posted in Pajamas Media · Comments Off 

Democrats and dirty tricks go hand in hand, even in deep blue Maryland.

Showing their desperation to pump up the flagging candidacy of freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil in an R + 13 district, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has sent out a series of mailers over the last week to conservative members of the district asking if Libertarian candidate Dr. Richard Davis, a dentist from Hurlock, is “too conservative?”

It’s obvious that Beltway Democrats recall how the First District was only carried by Kratovil in 2008 by 2,852 votes over Republican Dr. Andy Harris, with Libertarian Davis picking up 8,873 votes – or 2.5% of the total. All three are on the ballot again so it’s obvious this effort is to use the Libertarian alternative to peel away conservative support for Harris and make Davis again become the spoiler in the race.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

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