Odds and ends number 54

Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.

Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:

I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.

Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:

Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.

This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.

Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.

One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.

The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.

Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.

Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:

The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.

Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.

And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:

A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.

Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.

Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:

THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

(snip)

I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.

For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.

And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)

Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.

If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.

The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!

So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.

Storming the establishment

Well, it’s been at best a difficult week for the so-called Republican Party establishment. Not only is there much wailing and gnashing of teeth at Christine O’Donnell’s Delaware victory, but one local blogger has taken her time to blast the local establishment as well. I’ll get to her in a minute.

Even before the polls were closed in Delaware, though, there were those who bemoaned the lost opportunity in Delaware since Mike Castle was defeated in his bid to become the caretaker Senator from the First State. Normally I like Hans Bader and his writing, but I have to disagree with his whinefest on this one. Most tellingly he writes:

People who think the country is conservative beneath the surface — or even firmly “center-right” — are living in a bubble, just like the Obama supporters were deluding themselves when they came to the conclusion that the country had become staunchly liberal just because Obama won in 2008 based on the bad economy.

The problem with Bader’s theory is that conservatism is the leading ideological identifier, according to polling data. Yet there always seems to be this tug-of-war between various factions of what can be termed “mainstream” Republicans like Bader who accept that having the party label is more important than principle, against those in the Tea Party Express Bader slams because they remain ideologically purer to conservative principles.

Bader is correct in saying the Obama supporters were deluding themselves, but that’s simply because the country is more right than left – unfortunately those on the right were let down when a centrist candidate was nominated. It was a selection process based to a large extent by primary voters in open primary states and the mainstream media cheerleaders who backed John McCain until the moment he picked the much more conservative Governor Sarah Palin. Ironically, that was the point where McCain peaked and briefly led in the polls.

As events play out, the race may not matter for control of the Senate anyway and there’s no guarantee Christine O’Donnell won’t pull off the shocker in November as she did last week. Before the beginning of September and the Tea Party Express getting involved, no one gave O’Donnell a shot at making it this far nor was the Senate even deemed in play earlier this year – most pundits saw the possibilities as perhaps a 52-48 or 53-47 Democratic edge. But in the eyes of many conservatives, 50-50 with Biden being the tiebreaking vote is better than 51-49 but always having to worry whether Castle would sell out. Such a scenario would likely prove the Democrats who demanded equality in a similar situation under President Bush a decade ago as complete hypocrites now when they deny the GOP that same parity.

Yet the Tea Party vs. establishment battle roils closer to home as well.

Obviously one could consider Julie Brewington’s diatribe against the state Americans for Prosperity chapter and the local Republican Party a serious case of sour grapes since she finished last in a four-person field. She describes herself as “too trusting” of certain people who “used me,” especially when she bucked the trend and supported the more conservative candidate for Governor, Brian Murphy (as did I.) Except for myself and another current member of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, she takes aim at party leadership and some of my fellow local bloggers as well. At least one time in the past I advised Julie to grow a little thicker skin, but in this case she makes some very valid points.

There has always been that undercurrent of conservatism locally, and the GOP has been the beneficiary of it for nearly a quarter-century. The last time a Democratic candidate for Governor or President carried Wicomico County was in 1986, and William Donald Schaefer could neither be described as a very liberal Democrat nor did he have much opposition from an extremely weak GOP candidate. Oftentimes we get the benefit from a pocket of Democrats who are simply DINOs and vote mostly Republican tickets on Election Day. This year the good climate for the GOP was manifested by the number of candidates under our banner for local seats, including the Central Committee.

Yet those voters we depend on to carry us despite our disadvantage in registrations are the same ones being alienated by the games being played by establishment Republicans. Trying to tilt the playing field to benefit certain candidates shouldn’t be the job of the state party, and all candidates should be treated with respect. I know there are some who don’t like our current leadership (that line doesn’t start with Julie) but now we’ll enter a new era with a few new players – the leader of the local AFP chapter, a longtime county activist, and the person behind “Conservatives for Maryland.” (I have to scratch my head at the Ehrlich backing by that group though; then again, when the lead local person for Bob runs the group I guess you get a few compromises.) Of the seven who were elected in 2006, it appears just four of us will survive to begin this term.

Yet there will be a particular dynamic to our group which has the potential to discourage the Tea Party from further involvement. Enough of the old guard and (perhaps) tea party skeptics remain that the struggle for leadership may be real and damaging. Obviously this group will back the Republicans who survived the 2010 primary (and it’s a very potent group) but once the state reorganization begins it’s anyone’s guess which way we will go. I doubt that on that front we will be as united as some may desire – I sense there will be profound differences among us.

Having said that, though, we need people like Julie Brewington to keep us honest. What we don’t need, though, is to have all of our dirty laundry aired in public. Sunlight is a great disinfectant but it also makes certain things fade over time, and we need to keep those new political recruits we’ve gained in the conservative movement within the Tea Party in the bold colors they represent. We tried the pale pastels over the last decade and see where they got us.

While the Tea Party exists without a strong inside leader, those within the Republican Party need to take the elephant by the tusks and work on reforming the state party so it better reflects the conservatism of its members.

But we also need to be teachers and present alternatives to the statism we see in Annapolis and Washington. The ‘party of no’ can work for now but we need to become the party of limited-government alternatives once we secure leadership positions. If someone like Mike Castle was going to simply present a slower drift toward statism,  it’s best he lost and the job of Delaware Republicans should be to teach the voters that having an advocate for limiting government is in their best interest.

It should be our job as well.