Odds and ends number 83

Subtitled, the post-election edition.

I have a number of items I collected over the last few weeks that I figured I would end up getting to after the election. Well, the election is over so now I can clean out the e-mail box with this handy feature.

Despite Donald Trump’s stated defense of Planned Parenthood (coupled with his vow to defund it) and shaky position on abortion, the head of the pro-life group Created Equal was pleased with the election results and their efforts in securing them.

“Now, we must hold our new president-elect accountable for his promises to defund Planned Parenthood, pass a 20-week ban, and nominate a Constitutionalist to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Created Equal’s Mark Harrington.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will be a battle since Congress controls the purse strings and a Republican majority couldn’t get the job done in this edition of Congress. And as a reminder: they are funded through September 30, 2017 – the end of the federal fiscal year. Passing a 20-week ban and getting a pro-life SCOTUS justice will also be difficult with 48 Democrat Senators, although eight of them may want to keep in mind that Trump won their state and they are up for re-election two years hence. (In 2018 Democrats face the same minefield Republicans did this time: 23 of 33 Senate seats at stake are held by Democrats, along with two “independents” who caucus with the Democrats.) But I suspect the pro-life side will be disappointed with a President Trump; however, I never thought he would be President either so he may shock us all.

Another group angling for a payoff is my old friends at the American Alliance for Manufacturing, who are begging:

President-elect Trump and Congress must come together on much needed investment that will put Americans to work building and repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Stronger trade enforcement to address China’s massive overcapacity and a crackdown on countries trying to circumvent U.S. trade laws can boost manufacturing jobs.

Factory workers were more than a prop in this election. Now’s the time to deliver for them.

The signs are there that Trump may be their kind of President: we know he’s more hawkish on trade, and he’s planning on making it possible for up to $1 trillion in private-sector infrastructure investment over the next decade. But it takes two (or more) to tango on trade, so progress on that front may be slow. And the union-backed AAM may not be happy with the infrastructure plan if it doesn’t feature union-friendly rules and prevailing wage regulations. (Maybe this is a good time to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act? I doubt Congress has the guts to.)

But if you thought AAM wanted a tougher stance on trade, this diatribe came from Kevin Kearns, head of the U.S. Business & Industry Council:

Trump’s antagonists (on trade) are Wall Street institutions, multinational corporations, major business organizations, academic economists, editorial boards, business journalists, opinion writers, bloggers, and the generally knowledge-free mainstream media. All are opposed to Trump because they are wedded to a false, outdated “free trade” dogma, which has decimated the working and middle classes.

On Capitol Hill, a minority of Democrats and majority of Republicans are partial to the same free-trade theories. Speaker Paul Ryan admitted as much in his remarks on the election victory, noting that Trump alone had recognized the dire plight of average Americans.

I found it interesting that the LifeZette site has as its editor-in-chief Trump ally (and radio talk show host) Laura Ingraham. But this was the real payoff of the Kearns piece for me:

Trump must impose a Value-Added Tax of 18-20 percent applicable at the border to all imports. Over 150 of our trading partners use such taxes to make American exports pricier in their home markets. We should reciprocate.

So anything we import becomes 18 to 20 percent more expensive? Yeah, that will end well.

Another item in the election hopper was some attempted reform from another guy who I’ve oftentimes cited on my website, Rick Weiland. A “trifecta of reform” his group successfully put on the South Dakota ballot went 1-for-3 the other night. Measures for redistricting reform and non-partisan elections failed, but South Dakota voters narrowly passed a sweeping campaign finance reform package the state’s Attorney General said “may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.”

Personally, I would have been fine with the two that failed in a broad sense – as a Maryland resident, I know all about partisan gerrymandering and would be interested to see how non-partisan elections pan out. (The duopoly would have a fit, I’m sure.) But this campaign finance reform was a bad idea from the get-go, and it tips the Democrats’ hand on how they would attack the Citizens United decision. One controversial facet of this new law would be a $9 per registered voter annual appropriation to pay for this public financing - such a law in Maryland would be a required annual $35 million appropriation from our General Fund. (The fund Larry Hogan used in his successful 2014 campaign was built with voluntary donations via a checkoff on income tax forms; a checkoff that was dormant for several years but was restored last year.)

And instead of “democracy credits” as this amendment proposed, a better idea would be one I believe Ohio still uses: a tax deduction of up to $50 for political donations. But I’m sure soon a South Dakota court (and maybe beyond) will be ruling on this one.

I also received some free post-election advice from the creators of iVoterGuide, which is an offshoot of a small Christian group called the Heritage Alliance (not to be confused with the Heritage Foundation.)

Pray specifically for the appointment of Godly people as our newly elected President selects his Cabinet and closest advisors.  Pray that the Administration, Senate and House will work together to honor life and liberty as set out in our constitution by our founding fathers.  Pray for ALL elected officials to humble themselves and seek God’s will for our nation.  We need to repent, individually and as a nation, and turn from policies contrary to God’s word.

Pray for unity and peace.  Our country is deeply divided. Christians must truly start loving our neighbors as ourselves so that there can be a spiritual awakening.  Now is not a time to gloat but to turn our hearts continually toward God so we can be examples of His love and work toward reconciliation and unity.  Pray for all nations, as a new stage is being set both nationally and internationally.

I think I can handle that. Oddly enough, this was also a subject of our Bible study prayer group Wednesday – maybe one or more of them is on this e-mail list, too. As for iVoterGuide, what they need is a larger state-level base as Maryland and Delaware aren’t among the handful of states they cover (it’s mostly federal.)

As iVoterGuide‘s executive director Debbie Wuthnow concludes, “we ask you pray about how God wants you to be involved in retaining the freedoms He has so graciously granted us.” I suspect I’m going in the right direction here but one never knows what doors open up.

I was originally going to add some energy-related items to this mix, but I think I will hold them until later this week for a reason which will become apparent. There’s one other subset of items I’m going to have fun with tomorrow – I would consider them odds but not ends. And so it goes.

Not too late for change

It was 2009, and Americans were still captivated by a shiny and new (or articulate, bright, and clean, if you prefer) President. Yet deep in the nether lands of liberalism there were people already thinking about how to maximize the political gains they could make. In November of that year I wrote about a scheme dubbed the “10-0 project” where Maryland Democrats would gerrymander their way to having all eight Congressional seats by pairing up the few Republican strongholds in the state with large Democratic enclaves, such as wrapping the First District into Baltimore City. The person who developed that plan bragged how it split the McCain voters out so that no district had more than 40 percent McCain support.

While the redistricting plan developed after the 2010 census wasn’t quite that extreme, there were still some of the shenanigans of rerouting the Sixth District toward Washington, D.C. to pave the way for that district to turn Democrat (canceling out the GOP strongholds west of Frederick) and dissecting other heavily GOP areas in Carroll and Anne Arundel counties into multiple districts. They also made the First District a nearly impenetrable Republican fortress, an R+13 district in a state which is nominally D+26.

But while we are past the halfway mark to the 2020 census, there are still those out there who believe the state’s Congressional lines were drawn for partisan advantage rather than true representation. Last week a number of plaintiffs – one from each Congressional district – utilizing the assistance of Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit alleging the current setup “harms all Maryland voters, regardless of their party preferences or how they would vote in a particular election, by giving State legislators the power to make choices regarding the State’s congressional delegation that only the voters should make.”

As relief, the suit seeks to have the current districts tossed out and a new district plan drawn which better conforms to the Polsby-Popper compactness test. As it stands currently, Maryland has the worst score of any state, but the plaintiffs allege (through a map they created) that significant improvements can be made. (Unfortunately their map is somewhat confusing because the district numbers assigned on it are quite different than the ones in use now. As an aside, if this map were adopted we would likely be placed in the equivalent of the Fifth Congressional District while both Andy Harris and GOP challenger Michael Smigiel would land in what’s basically our Second Congressional District shifted more to the north and east.) Regardless, the plan appears to keep more counties and areas together rather than the Rorschach test we have now.

While Judicial Watch has stepped in, though, it’s obvious that the battle will be an uphill one. As the suit notes, this is not the first time there has been an objection to the Congressional redistricting plan, and the current scheme was maintained through a misleading referendum in 2012. Thus, the chances for success aren’t very good.

But this should come with a parallel effort to change the system once and for all by putting it into the hands of an independent commission comprised of citizens from each district or even each county. As an example of this, Wicomico County had a commission to redraw County Council districts and its end product had few complaints regarding compactness or gerrymandering. (The most unusually-shaped district here is the one mandated to be majority-minority.) Let them come up with the maps away from the General Assembly and have our legislature give them a simple up-or-down vote. The same goes for state legislative districts, which also should become exclusively single-member districts – no more jungle elections where the top two or three get in.

In our case, unless it sees significant growth, the Eastern Shore will likely always have to share its Congressman with someone else. But that someone else should be close and accessible neighbors – surely the folks in Carroll County are nice people but they really don’t belong in our Congressional district. If we have to take some of Harford and Baltimore counties to make up the population that’s understandable.

Maybe in the next Census I’ll draw a real map that shows the way it should be done. But if Judicial Watch somehow gets its way I can always move that timetable a little closer.

A radical proposal (or two)

I got to thinking the other day – yes, I know that can be a dangerous thing – about the 2014 electoral map for Maryland and an intriguing possibility.

Since State Senator E.J. Pipkin resigned a few months back, a sidebar to the story of his succession – as well as that of selecting a replacement for former Delegate Steve Hershey, who was elevated to replace Pipkin – is the fact that Caroline County is the lone county in the state without resident representation. However, with the gerrymandering done by the O’Malley administration to protect Democrats and punish opponents, it’s now possible the 2015 session could dawn with four – yes, four – counties unrepresented in that body based on the 2012 lines. Three of those four would be on the Eastern Shore, and would be a combination of two mid-Shore counties and Worcester County, with the fourth being Garrett County at the state’s far western end.

Granted, that scenario is highly unlikely and there is probably a better chance all 23 counties and Baltimore City will have at least one resident member of the General Assembly. But what if I had an idea which could eliminate that potential problem while bolstering the hands of the counties representing themselves in Annapolis?

The current composition of the Maryland Senate dates from 1972, a change which occurred in response to a 1964 Supreme Court decision holding that Maryland’s system of electing Senators from each county violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, Marylanders had directly elected their state Senators long before the Seventeenth Amendment was passed in 1913. Over time, with these changes, the Senate has become just another extension of the House of Delegates, just with only a third of the membership.

So my question is: why not go back to the future and restore our national founders’ intent at the same time?

What if Maryland adopted a system where each county and Baltimore City were allotted two Senators, but those Senators weren’t selected directly by the voters? Instead, these Senators would be picked by the legislative body of each county or Baltimore City, which would give the state 48 Senators instead of 47. Any tie would be broken by the lieutenant governor similar to the way our national vice-president does now for the United States Senate.

Naturally the Democrats would scream bloody murder because it would eliminate their advantage in the state Senate; based on current county government and assuming each selects two members of their own party the Senate would be Republican-controlled. But that would also encourage more voting on local elections and isn’t that what Democrats want? It’s probably a better way to boost turnout than the dismal failure of “early and often” voting, which was supposed to cure the so-called ailment of poor participation.

If someone would argue to me that my proposal violates “one man, one vote” then they should stand behind the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. How is it fair that I’m one of 2,942,241 people (poorly) represented by Ben Cardin or Barbara Mikulski while 283,206 people in Wyoming are far more capably represented by John Barasso or Mike Enzi? We have counties in Maryland more populous than Wyoming.

No one questions the function or Constitutionality of the U.S. Senate as a body, knowing it was part of a compromise between larger and smaller states in the era of our founding. It’s why we have a bicameral legislature which all states save one copied as a model. (Before you ask, Nebraska is the holdout.) What I’ve done is restored the intent of those who conceived the nation as a Constitutional republic with several balances of power.

But I’m not through yet. If the Senate idea doesn’t grab you, another thought I had was to rework the House of Delegates to assure each county has a representative by creating seats for a ratio of one per 20,000 residents. (This essentially equals the population of Maryland’s least-populated county, Kent County. Their county could be one single House district.) In future years, the divisor could reflect the population of the county with the least population.

The corollary to this proposal is setting up a system of districts which do not overlap county lines, meaning counties would subdivide themselves to attain one seat per every 20,000 of population, give or take. For my home county of Wicomico, this would translate into five districts and – very conveniently as it turns out – we already have five ready-drawn County Council districts which we could use for legislative districts. Obviously, other counties would have anywhere from 1 to 50 seats in the newly expanded House of Delegates. Even better, because the counties would have the self-contained districts, who better to draw them? They know best which communities have commonality.

Obviously in smaller counties, the task of drawing 2 or 3 districts would be relatively simple and straightforward. It may be a little more difficult in a municipality like Baltimore or a highly-populated area like Montgomery County, but certainly they could come up with tightly-drawn, contiguous districts.

And if you think a body of around 300 seats is unwieldy, consider the state of New Hampshire has 400 members in their lower house. Certainly there would be changes necessary in the physical plant because the number of Delegates and their attendant staff would be far larger, but on the whole this would restore more power to the people and restrict the edicts from on high in Annapolis.

Tonight I was listening to Jackie Wellfonder launch into a brief discussion of whether the Maryland Republican Party should adopt open primaries, an idea she’s leaning toward adopting – on the other hand, I think it’s nuts. In my estimation, though, these sorts of proposals are nothing more than tinkering around the edges – these ideas I’ve dropped onto the table like a load of bricks represent real change. I think they should be discussed as sincere proposals to truly make this a more Free State by restoring the balance of power between the people, their local government, and the state government in Annapolis.

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.

Over the line

The latest figures are in, and the redistricting petition has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

It didn’t appear they received a whole lot of help from the Eastern Shore, however. Here’s the totals for the nine counties so far, although they probably won’t change much as the final couple thousand signers are validated:

  • Cecil – 500
  • Queen Anne’s – 430
  • Worcester – 255
  • Talbot – 251
  • Kent – 215
  • Wicomico – 143
  • Dorchester – 128
  • Caroline – 125
  • Somerset – 20

By my quick addition that’s 2,067 signatures delivered from an area which is about 1/10 of the state’s population. So we weren’t exactly proportional here.

I think part of the reason we trailed behind the rest of the state is the fact the Eastern Shore will almost certainly stay as the most significant geographic part of the First District. But had one proposed map been adopted, a rendition which actually split the lower end of the Eastern Shore south of Salisbury off and placed it into the Fifth Congressional District with southern Maryland, I believe we would have contributed thousands more signatures. Counties most affected (Anne Arundel and Baltimore) combined for about 2/5 of the total signatures, with another third coming from counties which were (or still are) in the Sixth Congressional District. With the radical changes caused by gerrymandering, that’s understandable.

Of course, we can count on the Maryland Democrat Party to try and thwart the will of the people. Upon the announcement that enough signatures were turned in to give the referendum a chance to make it to the ballot, they sniveled that the petition drive was only a “desperate partisan power grab.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Anyway, here’s their money quote from ten days ago:

Pending the State Board of Elections’ determination that the validated petition signatures satisfy constitutional requirements, the Maryland Democratic Party will weigh all options to protect the integrity of the referendum process and ensure that every petition was completed and collected in line with Maryland laws and regulations.

This from the party who wanted to have all circulator signatures notarized in an effort to disenfranchise petition signers, yet wails that any attempt at sensible photo voter identification requirements at the polls represents “voter suppression.” Yeah, they’re hypocrites. But most thinking people knew that, and they know their message is “see you in court.”

So today was a good day as perhaps yet another reason for good, conservative Marylanders to cast their ballot this November took shape. Resounding votes against in-state tuition for illegal aliens, gay marriage, and overly partisan gerrymandering which paid no attention to preserving the integrity of political subdivisions might convince the party in power that, hey, we need to listen to the voice of reason once in awhile.  (Victories for Dan Bongino and 5 or 6 Congressional nominees might also pound home a message too. Listening to Democrats and the state’s primary media outlets – but I repeat myself – spin that one would be a riot.)

But just remember we have to win these fights to set ourselves up for more success in 2014.

Redistricting petition: the end is in sight

I don’t like to stack posts on top of each other, so I’ll keep this short: as of this Tuesday evening, the Board of Elections has certified that 53,566 of the 60,266 signatures counted so far by the BOE on the referendum petition for Congressional districts are valid, leaving 5,456 to be counted. Of those, 2,170 or more need to be acceptable for the referendum to qualify. While the rejection rate has been higher on this petition than on the other two MDPetitions.com has sponsored over the last two years, it still should come out in the range of 58,000 valid signatures and that would be enough to place the referendum on the ballot.

Of course, it’s likely the validity of many signatures will be challenged by those same Democrats who came up with one of the most gerrymandered schemes in the country, one designed to shortchange both Republicans and minorities while protecting their incumbents. If the petition is beaten back, it will be up to the GOP to make the point to affected communities that the Maryland Democratic Party is the sole reason that they are being hosed.

Updates will follow.

Odds and ends number 51

Once again, my occasional look at those items I find are worth a paragraph but maybe not a full post.

I’m going to start with some reaction to the recent comments by Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis regarding the ongoing redistricting petition. This comes from Radamese Cabrera of the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC, a group which opposed the current gerrymandering because they felt minorities were underrepresented.

While he discusses the lack of logic in splitting large counties and Baltimore City into multiple Congressional districts, I think the most interesting allegations come here:

The Fannie Lou Hamer PAC firmly believes that the majority Black jurisdictions of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County and the majority-minority county of Montgomery were drawn to protect and elect White Male Democratic representatives.  I believe that Congessman Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Ruppersburger and Congressman John Sarbanes are afraid to represent a White voting majority Congressional District.  These individuals could only win in a White plurality districts.

In plain simple language, this means they need a District with a Black population with at least 25%.  It will be interesting to see if John Delaney (D) can beat Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the 6th Congressional District when the this District is very conservative and has a large White plurality vote.

To quote Governor Howard Dean in the 2004 Presidential Campaign, “Why are White Democrats afraid to campaign and win elections in jurisdictions that are 90% + White?”  Ms. Lewis, the question that needs to be raised in 2012 is; Why are White Democratic elected officials at the Federal, State, and County levels afraid of campaigning in majority White Districts?

The question not asked here is the more obvious one: why do minorities consistently vote for Democrats? If you look at economic results since the days of the Great Society one would have to conclude through a preponderance of the evidence that monolithically voting for the Democrats has provided a disservice to the black community. Voting 75-25 in favor of Democrats instead of 90-10 or 95-5 might just get someone at 33 West Street to really pay attention to your needs. After all, white people split their votes so both sides try to earn our trust.

The next item I wanted to talk about probably has no hope in hell of succeeding in Maryland, at least until 2014. But Bob Williams of State Budget Solutions has written a piece on how to deal with government employee unions. It’s timely in the wake of Wisconsin’s success.

Besides unions in states which aren’t ‘right-to-work’ states (Maryland is not one) I can’t think of any other entity where money is taken from a person involuntarily and used for a political purpose the worker may not approve of. If some state official went around and told employees they had to donate to his or her re-election fund or be fired, the official would be run out of town on a rail once that was found out. But unions do this and no one bats an eye – of course, when that power is taken away (and Williams provides examples of this) Big Labor finds itself in big financial trouble.

Unfortunately, Maryland finds itself going in the other direction – for example, child care workers are now forced to either join the union or pay a “service fee” to them. And guess where they go? To the union’s “Committee on Political Education” (read: contributions to toady Democrats.)

Speaking of unions, I wanted to follow up on something I wrote on Examiner about three weeks ago. I noticed a few days later the picketers had gone across the street to picket Walmart, at least for one day. (I suspect Wendy’s may have taken exception to the group of three people drawing attention to their restaurant.) But a friend I spoke with who works at Walmart contended the picket wasn’t about the Salisbury store but rather one being built in Denton, Maryland – presumably by non-union labor. Regardless, I don’t think it’s going to hurt Walmart’s business and people are going to be happy to finally have them in Caroline County rather than drive to Easton, Seaford, or Dover.

Troopathon 2012 logo

And now about the image you see on the left. I’ve spoken about this event a few times in the past, and while we seem to be winding down in our foreign military involvement it’s a sure bet that we won’t be retreating to Fortress America anytime soon.

So this year Move America Forward selected Thursday, July 12 as its date. It seems like this is a little later on the calendar than it has been in the past, so maybe they’re looking to take advantage of the patriotic fervor that comes in the wake of Independence Day. (Or, more likely, it works better with the calendar of proposed guests and hosts – a list which will surely be announced on the Troopathon website once it’s restarted over the next few weeks.)

The Move America Forward group also promises a revamped theme:

For Troopathon 2012, we’re taking the gloves off and giving Troopathon a much more raw, gritty theme than you have seen in the past. No more fancy stuff, just raw in-your-face and fervent support for our troops in Afghanistan! (Emphasis in original.)

Perhaps that’s a necessary change because, after raising $1.3 million in the first rendition back in 2008, their results have petered out to around $500,000 last year – a nice total, but short of their $700,000 goal. And while that may not matter so much simply because there are far fewer soldiers afield than there were in 2008, the lack of support also sends a subliminal message to both our troops and our jihadist enemies.

The final note will be a programming note: as I let my monoblogue Facebook fans know on Friday, I will have an interview with U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino up at 8:00 tonight. If you want some of the inside scoop on this site, become a Facebook fan of mine!

First obstacle overcome for redistricting vote

June 1, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off 

It was closer than organizers would like, but the effort to bring Congressional redistricting to referendum will move on after turning in 25,000 signatures to the state Board of Elections Thursday. That eclipsed the 18,579 needed and saved the Maryland Republican Party from a bitter and public defeat. Now they have 30 more days to collect another 37,157 valid signatures to place Maryland’s newly-drawn Congressional districts on the November ballot.

While there are elements within the Maryland GOP which prefer the new districts, the party as a whole is backing the effort to erase the lines that party Chair Alex Mooney called a “direct attack by power-hungry Democrats in Annapolis” in a message to supporters. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino echoed that sentiment, calling the map”absolutely ridiculous” because his home county of Anne Arundel has been shredded into four different Congressional districts.

(continued at Examiner.com…)

Redistricting petition could fall short

May 26, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off 

While I wrote yesterday on the optimism of same-sex marriage opponents regarding their drive to bring that bill to referendum, the same cannot be said of those who would like a reconsideration of our Congressional districts. Going into the final weekend of signature gathering before a May 31 deadline to collect 1/3 of the signatures eventually needed, the campaign explicitly states “we don’t yet have the signatures we need in hand.”

Unlike the same-sex marriage proposal, which arouses the ire of religious groups and others who support traditional marriage, redistricting doesn’t seem to have much of a passionate base in opposition. In an era where shockingly few even know who represents them in Congress and others are resigned to politics as usual, it could be too much to ask to get the “Marymandering” to the ballot this November.

(continued at Examiner.com…)

The McDermott notes: week 1

As last year’s General Assembly session wore on, I found that freshman Delegate Mike McDermott’s weekly field notes were a very perceptive and comprehensive look at what was going on in Annapolis. So this year I’m making the executive decision to feature his notes (and my commentary on same) on a weekly basis, generally Sunday evenings.

McDermott is the one Delegate I voted for, although in future elections I won’t have that opportunity to re-elect him as Delegate unless I move to Somerset or southern Worcester county – the Democrats’ redistricting gerrymandering changed what was a two-delegate district based primarily in Worcester County, with the eastern half of Wicomico County added to create the requisite population, into two separate single-member districts with the existing District 38B truncated to be a district mostly based in the eastern portions of Salisbury along with Delmar and Fruitland. A new District 38C made up of eastern Wicomico and northern Worcester counties was then created, splitting Worcester County in two for the first time in recent memory. Oddly enough, we already have one prospective candidate there, but either Delegate McDermott or current District 38A Delegate Charles Otto of Somerset County – both freshman Republicans – will have to move up (to the Maryland Senate) or move out.

Now that you have a little bit of background on the man, I’ll go through what he had to say.

Mike begins by describing Wednesday’s opening session and the remarks by Governor O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch. I probably find it even more insulting than he does when it’s said that the state is better when it has the views from the right and the left in government – perhaps I’d be less insulted if that wasn’t so hypocritical on its face. If they really wanted views from the right, all the legislative districts would have been single-member districts done in a strictly geographical fashion – no little peninsulas to place one favored Delegate in a “friendly” district or districts which could pass for inkblots to make sure mainly minority voters get a district for themselves. I prefer the best, most conservative candidate no matter what color he or she is.

As for Thursday’s remarks, I found them interesting as well. Obviously the General Assembly gets into some seriously mundane issues, but I am surprised no one is clamoring for the inmates to get free calls because to do otherwise would be ‘unfair.’

Regarding a meeting by the Eastern Shore delegation with Secretary of Planning Richard Hall, McDermott related his opinion that:

It was quite clear that we are at polar ends of the specter (sic) with the O’Malley administration when it comes to PlanMaryland, but the concerns expressed were bi-partisan in nature. Maryland has operated for decades with a State Department of Planning  that has worked to provide guidance to local government. This plan will turn that “guidance” into direct oversight.

Not only that, PlanMaryland places the state in a position to usurp local authority by withholding necessary funding if development doesn’t meet their (somewhat arbitrary) standards of ‘sustainability.’ Obviously if a county or municipality wants to “go it alone” that may be feasible for now, but I’m sure eventually the state will tie other funding, like the stipends they send for educational funding, to compliance. While it’s claimed the state has had the authority to enact a PlanMaryland since 1974, there was no reason to go around the legislative branch to come up with a plan that’s a key offensive of the War on Rural Maryland.

I’ll be interested to see what becomes of McDermott’s compensation bill, but I suspect Governor O’Malley will tell that committee head to lock it away in a desk drawer someplace until about the middle of April.

I look forward to receiving this weekly update from Delegate McDermott, but what I don’t look forward to is the assault on our wallets and our liberty sure to come from this body as the months wear on and the items enacted during the “90 Days of Terror” become law.

We might have to get that referendum pen ready.

 

Lower Shore gerrymandering in Friday night document dump

Late this evening, the Maryland Department of Planning released their versions (House of Delegates and Senate) of the redistricting map for the General Assembly. For the purpose of this post, though, I’m going to concentrate on Districts 37 and 38.

The new District 37 is a lot like the old one, as they maintained a majority-minority district in 37A which snakes along the U.S. 50 corridor between Salisbury and Cambridge, with a arm of the district heading up toward Hurlock in Dorchester County. But District 37B now makes nearly an entire crescent around the single-member district and swallows up much of the Wicomico County territory formerly in District 38A. Geographically it’s a huge district that takes in all of Talbot County, the southern end of Caroline County, most of Dorchester County and the southern and western ends of Wicomico County, plus a small area near Sharptown. In essence, it moved a little bit southward and eastward.

As for District 38, well, I got part of my wish as it will now be comprised of three single-Delegate seats. The 38A portion, though, now takes in all of Somerset County and the southern half of Worcester County, with a spike running along the U.S. 113 corridor into the Berlin area. I predicted this would happen because it would force two incumbent Republicans (Charles Otto and Mike McDermott) into the same district. Looks like we have our 2014 District 38 Senate candidate now.

District 38B maintains only a sliver of the Wicomico County portion of the existing district, and looks tailor-made for another run by Norm Conway. To me it looks like the western boundary hardly changed so it’s now primarily a Salisbury/Delmar/Fruitland district, as it did move a little bit southward to take in that former 38A territory. The eastern side of Wicomico County and the northern half of Worcester County (except Berlin) now become part of the new District 38C.

So who does this benefit? Obviously the new District 37 will probably keep the incumbents in office, or at least decrease the chance for a non-minority to win the 37A seat. Rich Colburn picked up a decently Republican chunk of Wicomico County but lost quite a bit of Caroline County to District 36. So that is probably a wash. But District 38 was built simply to eliminate one Republican from the area, and the extension of District 38A into Berlin may have been on the behalf of Berlin mayor Gee Williams, who tried for the seat before. Perhaps it’s a more lopsidedly Republican seat, but now it gets only one Delegate.

And I’m stuck with Norm Conway, since I’ll be in the new and smaller District 38B. Unless Mike McDermott moves closer to me, he won’t be my Delegate anymore in a practical sense. But that’s okay – it just means I can give old Five Dollar more flak if he decides to run again, which I hope he doesn’t. Given the fact the district maintained its irregular shape at the western end, my guess is that he will and they eliminated the rural parts of his district to help his cause.

Finally, I’m disappointed with the MDP’s map since it wouldn’t allow me to figure out the new districts close-up – that is unless my laptop isn’t up to the task. So forgive me my wild guesses as to where the districts lie, but before that site failed me I did verify my home is in 38B. Not by a whole lot, though.

Update: This example may illustrate how cut up our area is. Along the first two miles of Mount Hermon Road you can have houses in four different districts. At the far west end of the road and up to Civic Avenue it’s the border between the extreme eastern fringe of District 37A on the north side and 38B on the south side. Then about a mile or so it’s in entirely in 38B, until the road passes under U.S. 13. Then it’s solely in District 38C for a short distance until it crosses a creek just west of Hobbs Road, when the highway becomes the border between 38C on one side and District 37B on the other. Finally, just past Walston Switch Road, the road becomes part of 38C. To use east side landmarks, the airport is in 37B, Perdue Stadium is in 38C, WinterPlace Park is in 38B, and the established part of the Aydelotte neighborhood is on the edge of 37A.

MDGOP 2011 Fall Convention in pictures and text

At the risk of a slow-loading post, there are 30 photos on this one. But I took a lot more, and you know every picture tells a story with me. And this is the story of the Maryland GOP Fall Convention, brought to you by…

I’ll begin with Friday night, the usual social time for the convention. Even though I’d never been to the Sheraton in Annapolis, once I saw these I knew I was in the right place.

(Of course, I took that snapshot yesterday morning.)

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