As a means of getting back into things political after my weekend away, I found this chart – compiled by newly reinstalled Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley – quite instructive. It’s meant to be an ongoing narrative of the legal fight against 2013′s SB281, better known as the O’Malley gun law. (Some also refer to it as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, but the only people who will be made safer by it are the criminals.)
As you can see, the good guys have been shut out so far, and to be perfectly honest I think that as long as this stays in Judge Catherine C. Blake’s courtroom the side of right will continue to be denied. Perhaps we’d have a better shot at the appellate level; unfortunately, the Fourth District Court of Appeals based out of Richmond is littered with Obama appointees, as 6 of the 15 jurists were appointed by our current chief executive. Conversely, just three judges remain from those appointed by George W. Bush; out of the other six there are four Clinton appointees and one holdover each from George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – so the odds for a positive outcome aren’t exactly stacked in our favor. This despite the fact that Senate Bill 281 clearly infringes on our right to bear arms.
So it comes back to the decision on whether we should have put more effort into the referendum to stop SB281. Sadly, that ship sailed long ago and while I understand the track record for ballot issues on the conservative side isn’t very good, it should have been noted that the ballot issues which passed did so in a year where turnout was higher than would be the case in a gubernatorial election and no one named Obama will be on the ballot. In short, the electorate should trend more conservative in 2014.
Thus, it will be left to us to inflict the punishment as best we can on the party which sponsored and created the draconian measures. While seven Senate and seventeen House Democrats voted against the bill, they were mainly from districts deemed vulnerable by Democratic leadership so I’m betting they were given a pass to vote as if their jobs depended on it. Why have the faux conservatives when you can have the real thing?
If the right governor and enough members of the General Assembly are elected, the first bill out of the chute in 2015 might just be the one entitled “Firearm Safety Act of 2013 – Repeal.” That has a nice ring to it.
Ironically, another referendum effort gone awry is now winding its way into court as well. This came from MDPetitions.com last week:
If someone asked you whether or not you supported the US Constitution, would you say yes or no? Of course you would say yes! Hopefully, most Americans would say yes to that basic question.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in November 2012. The Maryland government pulled a “bait and switch” trick on Maryland voters. An overwhelming majority of Marylanders voted to uphold the requirements of the US Constitution, not realizing that they were voting on a redistricting map that has made Maryland the laughing stock of the country. See here for references to quotes about how bad our districts are, even Comedy Central poked fun at our “ugly” districts.
How can people vote on the redistricting map, when they had no idea that that was what they were voting on? The hard-won voice of the people was snuffed out through trickery. That’s not right, and MDPetitions.com has been working hard for you to RESTORE YOUR RIGHT TO A FAIR REFERENDUM.
The illegal ballot language deprived Maryland voters of a fair opportunity to approve or reject the law/map, and therefore, justifies a re-vote on Maryland Question 5. MDPetitions.com and Judicial Watch believe that a re-vote on Question 5 with language that actually describes the situation is the only accurate and truthful way to govern our state.(Emphasis in original.)
I hate to say it, but it was MDPetitions’ decision to forgo a referendum on SB281 that got us into this gun law mess. The redistricting would have been more appropriate for a court case, but instead we got it to the ballot (barely) and the voters supported the redistricting – in part because of the language and the fact the map wasn’t shown on the ballot. All that a 2014 revote would do now is confuse the issue, although there is the chance we could elect a GOP governor who could draw things in a more logical manner.
On the whole, though, we really shouldn’t have to rely on the legal system to safeguard us.
If you are old enough to remember the 1992 election, you may recall that the usual two-player Presidential game had a party-crasher by the name of Ross Perot. Eventually after a few campaign fits and starts Perot got 19% of the national Presidential vote and allowed Bill Clinton to win with just 43 percent (incumbent George H.W. Bush received 38 percent.) Some say that the eventual result would not have changed even without Perot, and perhaps my little piece of anecdotal evidence bears that out – I voted Perot but had he not been there I would have held my nose and voted for Bush. On the other hand, I also talked my spouse at the time out of voting for Clinton and into Perot. (Or so she said.) Still, there’s a part of me which believes Bush may have hung on to beat Clinton if not for Ross Perot and the Reform Party. (Which, by the way, is trying to make a comeback in Maryland.)
So after writing on Friday about the recent Gonzales Maryland Poll (which posted yesterday) I saw a couple items on independent U.S. Senate candidate Rob Sobhani. This in particular piqued my interest.
“I hit the jackpot, I could have bought another house” Rob Sobhani today on why he decided today to run for the US Senate.
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) September 29, 2012
Perhaps Mr. Sobhani has a unique sense of humor I don’t understand given his Iranian heritage and loyalty to it, or Dan Bongino took him out of context. But then there was another item I spied on my Facebook page and alluded to in my previous link that led me to do a little research on the political donations of one Rob Sobhani. I’ll get to that shortly.
Worthy of note in this context is that Sobhani has run for the Republican nomination for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat on two previous occasions – 1992, when he finished 5th out of a crowded 15-person field behind eventual GOP nominee Alan Keyes, and 2000, where he was runner-up to Paul Rappaport in an 8-way race.
Yet in his first FEC report on June 30, Sobhani recorded some typical expenditures. The timeline is as follows:
- On February 5, the campaign paid Sullivan and Associates for legal services. They were paid again in May.
- The Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies was paid $21,000 on March 10.
- Presumably the polls were agreeable, since Sobhani paid a total of $142,171 to both Savanna Communications and Arno Political Consultants for petition services from April through June.
- In addition he began a marketing campaign prominently featured on this website, at a cost of $1,800.
- Finally, he hired Igoe and Associates as a consultant on June 15.
With the possible exceptions of Sullivan and Associates and hy.ly, the firms Sobhani used are fairly reliable Republican backers. But that doesn’t add up with his pattern of personal political donations.
I went to Opensecrets.com and pulled up a lengthy file of Sobhani’s political giving over the last 22 years. During a 15-year stretch from 1991 to 2006, Sobhani donated a total of $9,400 to a group of candidates which were almost exclusively Republican, with the one exception running as an independent. He also gave a total of $9,340 to the state and national Republican parties. His last donation to a Republican was to Michael Steele in 2006, who ironically ran for the very Senate seat Sobhani is trying for now.
But after a five-year hiatus, Sobhani started giving again – to Democrats. First was Milad Pooran, who was an also-ran for the Sixth District nomination won by John Delaney. Pooran was endorsed by a number of leftists including Howard Dean and Keith Ellison, the lone Islamic member of Congress. Just before the June 30 deadline, Sobhani doubled down and donated $250 to Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, who represents the Memphis area. Most notably, Cohen sponsored a amendment reducing infrastructure funding in Afghanistan.
Perhaps it’s a way to burnish his independent credentials, but this seems quite curious for a guy who used to be a Republican to have gone so far to the left, at least in his political giving.
But rather than speculate on what his motives were, I wrote an e-mail to Rob and asked him a few questions point-blank:
- Since you have run for the Senate before in 1992 and 2000, what made you decide to run as an independent? Was it a case of not having confidence in the MDGOP banner or did the party move in a direction you were uncomfortable with?
- I noticed your last two political donations were to Democrats after a decade and a half of almost solid GOP giving? What was your rationale in doing so, given you have a message which is somewhat conservative?
I received Rob’s reply yesterday, which I am presenting in its entirety:
Thanks for your interest in my campaign. I am pleased by the support I have received so far and attribute it to the fact that my message resonates with many people in our state who are tired of politics as usual.
With regard to my decision to become an independent, I have lost my faith in both parties to fairly represent people’s needs today. Our economy is in trouble, and I see few solutions offered either by Republicans or Democrats. That is why I am trying something different. I think a lot of people share my thinking on this, let’s see as the campaign continues.
I have personally supported Republicans and Democrats in the past in cases where I believed the individual offered something important in the respective races. We should all be able to declare our independence in this state. Only by creating more jobs and getting our economy going again will we restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children. At the end of the day, that is our duty, and it is more important than any party ideology.
I’m sorry Rob feels that way about the Republican Party, as I see it as the most viable vehicle to represent what the people truly want and need to have to prosper – freedom and liberty. And while he’s correct in assessing the fact our economy is in the dumper, the question of whether what he is proposing as a cure will work still needs to be explained a little more to me. Brian Griffiths at Red Maryland makes an interesting case that Sobhani should run for a different office in a post which could otherwise do well as a hit piece:
…to me, the role that Sobhani is suggesting he fill as a U.S. Senator is generally filled by a Governor. Because it is the Governor who is more directly responsible for creating economic development within the state. Furthermore, I sure as heck don’t want a U.S. Senator who thinks that his role is to go to Washington and send the bacon home to Maryland, no matter where the money is coming from.
But the statement Sobhani makes about adding to races is more telling, and perhaps explains well why he’s gone from staunch support of Republicans to backing Democrats. I’m not sure what Steve Cohen adds to his race since he’s in a D+23 district anyway, but Pooran shares Sobhani’s Iranian heritage.
Yet in order to have a chance to do as Rob says and “restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children” it seems to me there should be a set of guiding principles involved. Rob oversimplifies this by saying on his campaign site that:
The parties are both locked into narrow ideological agendas that prevent them from talking to one another or working together for meaningful solutions. As an Independent, I’m not beholden to either political party. I hope to bring people of goodwill from both parties together.
One man’s “ideological agenda” is another’s principles, and among Republicans we should hold these truths to be self-evident and we should sell out our core beliefs to no one. NO ONE. There really is no middle ground between freedom and tyranny.
And don’t we have a President who promised to be “post-partisan?” That lasted about as long as it took for a Republican to show some backbone and be greeted by the President saying “I won.” Compromise, rather than fealty to the principles which made our nation strong, has placed us where we are now.
There is one other observation for me to make, and if Rob chooses to hold his cards close to the vest on this point I suppose I can understand. But it’s another question which should be asked.
Over the last few years in the Senate, there have been two independents: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. While the are ostensibly unaffiliated, in reality both have caucused with the Democrats as Sanders is an avowed Socialist while Lieberman was once a Democratic vice-presidential nominee and won his seat in 2006 despite losing in the Democratic primary and re-entering the race as an independent.
So let’s say Sobhani defies the odds and pulls the upset. Will he caucus with the Republicans because that’s his traditional political home and the side from which he seems to be pulling more support, or will he caucus with the Democrats based on the fact his Senior Senator is in that caucus? Or will he wait and see other results so he can gravitate to the winning side? Imagine the scenario of Mitt Romney winning the White House but the Democrats controlling the Senate by a 50-49 margin – will he sell his position to the highest bidder like just another business deal?
At some point he’s going to have to choose.
It’s a shame, though, that it appears Dan Bongino doesn’t want to include Rob Sobhani in the debates (at least that’s how the AP story depicts it.) Let Rob’s voice be heard, and let him answer some tough questions. I’m sure I would have some more.
Ben Cardin’s been in office for 46 years, and Dan Bongino has been on the campaign trail for 16 months. If money can buy a Senate seat, I suppose we will find out from a guy who’s barely been at it for six months and only officially announced four weeks ago.
Update: Mark Newgent at Red Maryland has unearthed the pitch sheet Sobhani used to gather signatures. I didn’t know that Rob was ”pro-choice and supports gay rights,” did you? I’ll concede that, indeed, these issues are less important than fixing the economy (although Sobhani’s plan is dubious in itself – after all, wasn’t Solyndra a sort of public-private partnership?) but America is also better-served by those who believe in upholding traditional morals.
The other day I received a note from one Charles Faddis, who shared this announcement:
An affiliate of the Reform Party of the United States has been formally established in the State of Maryland. The Maryland Reform Party is now engaged in party building activities and focused on obtaining full ballot access. The Party also plans to begin to field candidates in local, state and federal elections.
The Reform Party of the United States is opposed to the partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, which is preventing us from finding real solutions to the critical problems facing our nation. It stands for limited government, reduced spending, high ethical standards, term limits, an end to ruinous nation building exercises abroad and the revision or nullification of one-sided “free trade” agreements, which have sent our jobs overseas and gutted our manufacturing base.
For those of you who are Millennials or have simply forgotten, the Reform Party entered the spotlight with the meteoric candidacy of billionaire H. Ross Perot in 1992. At one point in that campaign, Perot was polling ahead of both Bill Clinton and then-President George H.W. Bush. While an aborted withdrawal ended his realistic chance of winning, Perot still picked up 19 percent of the vote, including mine. I couldn’t vote for Clinton and didn’t like the direction Bush 41 took us; I read his lips.
Without Perot, who also ran for President in 1996 but failed to crack double-digits in the overall vote, the Reform Party struggled on for a time, in Maryland as they did nationally. While they have never had an official candidate for governor here in Maryland, the Reform Party had Pat Buchanan on the 2000 Presidential ballot (he finished fourth, behind Gore, Bush, and Libertarian Harry Browne) and had party registrants as late as 2003.
And when you look at the party platform, there is a libertarian streak to it. The only noticeable differences (and ones which might make it more appealing to disenchanted Republicans) are the term limits, seemingly isolationist foreign policy, and trade.
But given the hurdle that the Green Party and Libertarians only just cleared – the 10,000 valid signatures needed to be granted ballot space as a minor party in Maryland – the chances of them being on the ballot for 2014 are somewhat slim. They could certainly run candidates as unaffiliated with the Reform Party’s backing, but they would have no party listed and would have to petition their way onto the ballot, which can be done. (Rob Sobhani is a candidate for U.S. Senate who qualified via petition for this year’s election.)
We’ll see how the efforts to re-form the Reform Party go, but it will be a group competing with Libertarians and Republicans for the interests of the TEA Party voter set.
If you’ve been reading here awhile, you probably know I was one of the most vocal opponents of the adoption of Rule 11 in favor of both Andy Harris and Bob Ehrlich two years ago. (If you have not been reading, this is what I’m talking about.) Last year, my like-minded friend Heather Olsen and I came tantalizingly and agonizingly close to making the Maryland GOP seek permission from the rank-and-file before adopting the rule in the future.
Well, the Republican National Committee has done it again, ramrodding through another rule change which is seemingly designed to enrich the powerful at the expense of the grassroots. This is one take on how Rule 16 was adopted:
Others who have chimed in say “these kinds of stunts are not acceptable and should not just be ignored” and “the establishment stole the GOP.” The new rules are a reaction to the “insurgent” Ron Paul, some say. (Boy, do I know how that goes.)
The scenario I fear, though, runs as follows.
Mitt Romney wins election in 2012 but is a centrist disappointment to those liberty-minded Republicans who re-elected a House majority and took back the Senate for the GOP, yet become dismayed by the backsliding in those bodies. Despite GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, Obamacare isn’t fully repealed, spending is still too high, and there’s little movement in getting government out of the way. Things are better economically, but the country still isn’t running on all cylinders and Democrats are planning an aggressive midterm campaign to build upon the lies and smears against the TEA Party (and, by extension, Republicans) recited by minority liberals and parroted by a compliant old-line media.
Because of that, President Romney’s approval rating is less than 50 percent, with Democrats obviously united against him but Republicans also not giving him great marks. They expected more movement on key issues I outlined above, and the honeymoon was short-lived thanks to the perception created by the media.
So Mitt Romney goes into his re-election campaign with the outcome in some serious doubt because rank-and-file Republicans are clamoring for a rightward direction that Romney and the establishment aren’t providing. Yet Rule 16 would make the 2016 nomination process a coronation rather than a discussion of ideas necessary for the party to advance the causes of liberty and limited government they claim to stand behind.
There is a silver lining, though. Another rule passed by the body in Tampa allows for changes in the rules to be passed by a 3/4 majority of the RNC body rather than remaining static through the four years between conventions. And while many considered that to be another way the establishment regains control of the party they feel slipping away to liberty-minded TEA Party members like myself, I can also see this as giving us the slimmest chance to succeed in revoking this disastrous rule before 2016.
Obviously the first step is getting a solid, monolithic bloc of 1/4 who will resist any changes to the rules to further favor incumbent, establishment candidates and encourage robust debate from all factions of the GOP. But there has to be a further push to get the rule rescinded before the 2016 nomination process begins.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear my statement is not to necessarily say we need to challenge an incumbent President Romney – although a primary battle wouldn’t bother me because I like to have options. In fairness, though, I have to point out that on the recent occasions where an unpopular incumbent faced a challenger from within his own party (Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford in 1976, Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980, Pat Buchanan vs. George H.W. Bush in 1992) all ended up losing their re-election bid. On the other hand, incumbents who received a free ride (Ronald Reagan ’84, Bill Clinton ’96, George W. Bush ’04) won their second terms. In the modern era, we are fighting an uphill battle because Barack Obama didn’t receive a primary challenger and beating him in 2012 would overturn decades of history.
Returning to point, in Maryland we have three votes of the 168 total Republican National Committee members. Obviously two of the three weren’t making a big deal out of this change because I didn’t hear the names Louis Pope or Alex Mooney standing up against the new rules. I will say, though, it’s possible they could be on the pro-liberty side if enough people see this as an issue, nor do I know how the Maryland delegation voted because it was a voice vote and not a roll call, as it should have been given the closeness of the vote.
Instead, I believe this is a job for Nicolee Ambrose to take on, since she wasn’t officially part of this process – her term as National Committeewoman only began when the gavel came down on the Tampa convention. I’m convinced those who worked for her election are not going to be pleased if she doesn’t make a stand for the activists who elected her in a bitterly-fought contest. Going with the establishment flow and ignoring the grassroots who actually help the most with winning elections is the kind of move I would have expected from an Audrey Scott, but I hope for a better direction from Nicolee.
I’ve already talked to a few members of our Central Committee, and they are as upset about this as I am. While we know electing Republicans is job one, I suspect this is going to stick in our craw after the election. Don’t be surprised if our Fall Convention becomes a little more interesting once all the state’s Republicans gather together to discuss this issue along with the election results.
Every day more and more Americans are convinced the government doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart. Despite the chance to elect new leaders every other year, it seems to us that nothing really ever changes and the nation sinks deeper and deeper into the morass created when the rule of man supersedes the rule of law.
But all is not lost. My friends at the Patriot Post are trying a new tactic to reverse the decline, and it’s called the Breach of Oath Project. As they state:
To enforce our Constitution’s limits on the central government, we believe a formal legal action is necessary. This action, if successful, would require that all members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, first and foremost, abide by their oaths “to support and defend” our Constitution, under penalty of law, and thus, comport with its enumerated “few and defined powers” (Madison) of the federal government. The current scope of federal activities provides abundant evidence that many members of those three co-equal branches have long since abandoned their oaths, and, at present, there is no recourse for prosecution to enforce compliance.
So far, over 68,000 citizens (who may or may not run afoul of the Attackwatch.com website) have signed on in an effort to establish legal standing – failing that, the Breach of Oath goal is 500,000 signatures in order to codify this into law.
I’m considering expanding the point for a PJM post, but perhaps one point is worth pondering as we celebrate the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth today.
Just compare this to what you recall from any centennial celebration of the following Presidents:
- The 100-year anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s birth was in 1982 (he died in office in 1945.)
- For Harry Truman, it would have been 1984 (he passed away in 1972.)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower would have turned 100 in 1990 (he died in 1969.)
- The centennial of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s birth was just three years ago, in 2008. He succumbed in 1973, and I vaguely remember that when I was a kid. Oddly enough his was the last Presidential death for over two decades, until his successor Richard Nixon died.
And have you heard about any big plans for any of these men who served?
- The centennial of the birth of both Richard Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford comes in 2013. Nixon died in 1994, while Ford is our longest-lived President – he was 93 when he died in 2006.
- Both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush would turn 100 in 2024 – just 13 years from now.
- A similar pairing occurs when George W. Bush and Bill Clinton would both turn 100 in 2046.
My suspicion is that the next Presidential centennial to draw heavy interest will be John F. Kennedy’s in 2017. I imagine the media will push to have his celebration rival Reagan’s, with the additional factor of his ‘martyrdom’ due to assassination.
On the other hand, not all that many of us will be around when the 100-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s 1961 birth rolls around – I’ll be 96 when that happens!
Anyway, if I can inspire myself to fill in the blanks and make a decent post of it you may see this information again. If not, enjoy the Super Bowl. My pick: Green Bay 27, Pittsburgh 24. It’ll be one of those games where the Steelers keep trying to catch up but can never get over the hump – the Packers will win it on a late field goal.
Over the last couple decades America has settled into an uneasy truce with itself, as presidents of both parties propose new ideas and promise a new way of doing business but eventually lose their popular mandate.
Prior to President Obama, the poster child for this phenomenon was George H.W. Bush. The elder Bush frittered away an 89 percent approval rating just after the liberation of Kuwait from the clutches of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In less than two years his political fortunes declined to such a degree that he drew less than 40 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, yielding office to President Clinton.
In time, Clinton’s leadership was questioned so much that his party lost the majority in the House of Representatives two years after his election. After Clinton left office, George W. Bush managed re-election but spent his entire bank of political capital and popularity chasing Osama bin Laden around the Middle East while engaging in a little nation building along the way.
All these case studies reflect a simple fact: America sours quickly to new leadership if things progress in the same old way.
In President Obama’s case, pundits like to point out that his approval numbers are relatively in line with Ronald Reagan’s during the early days of his tenure. As in the present day, the first part of Reagan’s term was marked with a poor economy and high unemployment – before last October, the last time unemployment reached double digits was during a correspondent period in Reagan’s presidency.
Yet history shows that once Reagan’s economic prescription of lowering tax rates took hold his popularity surged, with the best evidence being an absolute electoral slaughter of the hapless Walter Mondale. On the other hand, President Obama’s policy accomplishments to date range in public perception from skepticism whether the stimulus has actually worked to outright hostility about the passage of Obamacare and progress in cleaning up the oil from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
Perhaps more than any other president in recent memory, though, President Obama suffers from being thin-skinned. While he may say from time to time that “the buck stops here” it’s usually lost in a litany of finger-pointing and blame shifting, with a favorite target being opposition Republicans. (Having advisers who proclaim we should never let a crisis go to waste or that we should put our boot on the throat of particular businesses isn’t much of a help either.)
People who followed President Obama’s cult of personality during his campaign and remain loyal to him make up a larger and larger portion of those who approve of his performance. Others who questioned his qualifications or didn’t like those policies he ran on make up a continually growing segment of the opposition, leaving less and less room for ambivalence. America may be fortunate that there’s not an issue like slavery to divide up the union.
To be a good leader, the key qualification is to go in a direction which people would eventually like to be led, convincing them to leave the safety of inertia. Of course, the leader is the one who gets the slings and arrows but shrugs them off in pursuit of a cause greater than self. One problem our President has is selling the idea that he’s not the one with the most to gain from the direction he’s attempting to take us. The American people keep attempting to put on the brakes and turn things around but the only way to get this leader to listen is to outpoll his followers at the ballot box.
Michael Swartz used to practice architecture but now is a Maryland-based freelance writer and blogger whose work can be found in a number of outlets, including Liberty Features Syndicate. This piece debuted June 18.