A different sort of accountability

The other day I received a reminder that Heritage Action had updated its Congressional scorecard. And for those who believe that our Congressman Andy Harris isn’t as conservative as he makes himself out to be, it should be noted that his 90% rating puts him in the top 20 on Congress overall, or the 95th percentile if you will.  It’s a score that Harris currently shares with some of the more libertarian heroes of Congress, such as Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, as well as Presidential candidate Marco Rubio. (Ted Cruz was among the top 3 at 100%, along with Mike Lee and Ken Buck of Colorado.)

But one weakness I’m finding with the Heritage Action scorecard is just what issues they consider important – there’s no easy way to determine what bills and votes they deemed important enough to include. Certainly I trust the Heritage Foundation to be a conservative watchdog as they have been for many years, but it would be nice to have their scorecard reflect what the scores are based upon.

On the other hand, I present no such problem with my monoblogue Accountability Project because I explain just why I vote as I would. (By and large, it’s opposition to the lunacy Democrats put out on an annual basis, although I am also far more of a budget hawk than most as well.) In this year’s roster of legislation, there were anywhere from five to fifty-odd votes per bill on my side in the House and two to twenty per bill in the Senate. None of those I sided with this year became law, unlike last year where I won a couple.

If you follow monoblogue on social media (and you should) you’ll notice I’m making steady progress on this year’s edition, which I am slating to release June 6. Actually, what pushes this into June is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Back when Martin O’Malley was governor, I never had to worry about vetoed bills and pretty much everything that was placed in front of him by the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly was signed in short order. But with Larry Hogan in office, I have to pay attention to what’s called the “date of presentment.” This tripped me up last year in discussing the post-session because I thought Hogan had 30 days after session to sign/veto bills, not realizing there was a date of presentment involved. (O’Malley always seemed to sign things as quickly as possible.) This year the date of presentment was May 1 (20 days after session) so the drop-dead date for a Hogan veto is May 31, or 30 days after presentment.

Where this affects me is what I call the “disposition” of each bill. Not only do I tally the votes, but I make sure readers know the fate of each bill. It was easy (if depressing) when MOM was in office because I could simply write something along the lines of “Governor O’Malley signed this bill May 5.” Now I have bills that are allowed to become law without Hogan’s signature and actual vetoes to deal with, so it makes me wait until the coast is clear June 1 to figure out final disposition. Hence, I have to wait to put it out. In truth, the compiling is easier than ever because I’ve done it so long and can fill out the spreadsheet I use rather quickly.

So you are two weeks away from getting your hands on this hot little item, which so far has been a great horse race as I compile votes and find multiple members still have a chance at a perfect score. Now if we could only get that number of perfect scorers up to 188, or at least a good working majority in each chamber, this state may be getting somewhere.

Out of order

It’s become almost as much a Christmas tradition as hanging stockings or decorating the tree – our national government gets another stopgap spending measure in lieu of a regular budget in order to avoid a Christmas government shutdown. We’ve done this practically every year since Barack Obama became President, and this year is no exception.

You can read any number of opinions about how bad this deal will be, such as this one from my friend Rick Manning at Americans for Limited Government or the fine folks at Heritage Action. It’s not a done deal yet, for the vote is expected to come tomorrow, but there will be a lot of pressure to vote this out and beat it out of town before Christmas. We already have the tax package that was a series of tradeoffs.

Yet I want to focus on one representative, and he happens to be ours. You may recall Andy Harris voted on an equally controversial bill last year that he explained away, as well as the same thing earlier in 2014. There’s obviously some who also still hold a grudge against him for voting for John Boehner to stay on as Speaker of the House. Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall him saying something along the lines that this year’s budget process should be smooth because we could do it in regular order. So much for that.

If anything deserves explanation, the reason all this couldn’t be done in regular order would be the first thing on my mind. In November 2014 we gave Republicans a majority in Congress – they have the “power of the purse” that was the excuse as to why things couldn’t get done in the previous four years. No longer did we have only 1/2 of 1/3 of the government. So why is this still a problem?

As I see it, if Congress does its job and passes a budget that does what conservatives want to do such as defund Obamacare, rein in the regulators, and make other prudent spending cuts, the onus is on Barack Obama to sign it or deal with the consequences of a government shutdown. It’s on him. After all, if people are still blaming George W. Bush for a government shutdown 4 1/2 years after leaving office, it must be the president’s fault.

So I think tomorrow we will see another long social media post from Andy Harris explaining away another vote for bloated government. We already have the narrative that these were the cards dealt by John Boehner to Paul Ryan and next year things will be different.

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before. I’ll believe it when I see it.

A pair of Easton events

Our friends on the mid-Shore will get to be a hotbed of conservative political activity next week.

First off, on Thursday evening the fine folks of Heritage Action will host a training session on “How to be an Effective Activist Through Social Media.” It will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Easton so you should be back home well before the witching hour.

The topics will include:

Online Training: Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube
Twitter Training: Build and deploy a Twitter Army
Legislative Training: Learn how to use the Heritage Action Dashboard to Hold Congress Accountable

All they ask is that you register at this site, show up a little early (they prefer 5:00), and bring their iPad or smart phone. A hankering for Chik-fil-A wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. And say hi to Melody Clarke for me, since she alerted me to this.

Then comes Saturday. Because Easton has a centrally-located Planned Parenthood facility, it will be the Eastern Shore site of “one of over 150 events coast-coast on August 22, in cooperation with a coalition of more than 40 pro-life groups.” This according to the organizers of the local event. I spoke to the folks with the Maryland Pro-Life group at the Wicomico County Fair tonight and they were anxious to be at the protest. (It should be noted that Planned Parenthood is closed on Saturdays. With any luck they will soon be closed more permanently.)

Dubbed the Easton #PPSellsBabyParts Protest, it will run from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 22 at the Easton Planned Parenthood location, 8579 Commerce Drive #102 in Easton. As my notice says:

We may never have a better opportunity to strip Planned Parenthood of their massive $500 million taxpayer subsidy and expose the truth about this corrupt organization.

They may claim “doctored video” and “we provide needed health services” but the fact Planned Parenthood had to hire a Democrat hired gun PR firm means we have them on the ropes – even the PR firm is ashamed to admit it. Pressure from caring Americans can finish this fight.

I can’t make the Thursday event but I will strive for the Saturday one. It will be interesting to see who covers it.

Harris: no more Ex-Im Bank

It’s been a topic of discussion on this website for about a year, but those who believe the Export-Import Bank of the United States is simply a hotbed for crony capitalism and a classic example of government picking winners and losers restored a supporter in Andy Harris.

From our friends at Heritage Action:

Over the past month, momentum has grown for allowing the Export-Import Bank to expire.  It is now clear the bank will not be reauthorized by June 30th.  Additionally, conservatives leaders and caucuses will fight any efforts to revive the bank, which is a slush fund for the government to pick favorites and give taxpayer dollars to a handful of well-connected special interests. Last month, the 170-member Republican Study Committee joined the 40-member House Freedom Caucus in official opposition to the bank.  They are joined by the House Majority Leader, Majority Whip and eight prominent chairmen.  What’s more, Senator Mike Lee made clear conservatives will (use the) procedural tools available to ensure a reauthorization effort is not on autopilot and will entail a lot of floor time.

Indeed, Harris is on the Heritage Action list. But his opposition is nothing new as he voted against Ex-Im’s last reauthorization in 2012. That was a rather lonely position as Andy was one of only 93 members (all Republicans) to say no to Ex-Im.

But that’s not to say that Ex-Im is dead by any means. Giving it new life could be one of those items attached to a “must-pass” bill, as Kathleen Miller at Bloomberg notes:

In the House, Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he won’t let the bank’s reauthorization be attached to a measure that would speed consideration of trade agreements.

“Ex-Im Bank will not be included in any of these trade deals,” Ryan, who opposes the bank, said last week. “We are not doing that.”

That leaves supporters searching for must-pass legislation to carry the reauthorization, something that Ex-Im opponents would be reluctant to vote against even if it means extending the bank’s charter.

Or the reauthorization may be used as a wedge issue by factions in either party to extract concessions. Like any government program, Ex-Im has had its demise predicted before only to survive unscathed, like a cockroach after nuclear holocaust.

I’ll believe it’s dead when I see its lifeless corpse.

By the way, I reached out to Harris’s primary opponent, former Delegate Mike Smigiel, but he did not reply to my inquiry.

An old friend tries again

Melody Scalley is running again for the Virginia House of Delegates. A longtime supporter and fan of this site is once again trying to parlay her talents and activism into a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Thanks to what has become a cascading series of political openings, the 100th District House seat has been vacated by former Delegate Lynwood Lewis. Lewis squeaked by Republican Wayne Coleman by just 11 votes to fill the vacant 6th District Senate seat, an opening created when former Senator Ralph Northam, a fellow Democrat, ascended to the Lieutenant Governor’s position in the November election. For residents of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, this will be their third election in four months, as the 100th District encompasses the entirety of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, with a handful of precincts in the Norfolk area. Accomack County makes up 45% of the district’s voting population, with the other of the two Eastern Shore counties, Northampton, making up 18%.

In what’s known as a “firehouse primary,” Democrats selected their nominee yesterday. Willie Randall is a former Northampton County supervisor, and he will face either Scalley or Rob Bloxom, Jr. as both seek the GOP nod. Bloxom’s father, Robert Bloxom, Sr., represented the district for a quarter-century before Lewis became Delegate in 2004.

Scalley was the last Republican to vie for the seat in 2009. Lewis won the 2013 election over independent John Smith, Jr. with 71% of the vote, and was unopposed in 2011. In 2009, Scalley got 35% of the vote against Lewis, who had also been unopposed in 2005 and 2007.

Since her 2009 run, Scalley has remained politically active, both as host of a weekly local radio program and, more recently, as a regional coordinator for Heritage Action covering Virginia and North Carolina. Previously she worked as part of Americans for Prosperity and as Congressman Scott Rigell’s Eastern Shore campaign organizer.

She’s working up to the Republican version of the “firehouse primary” which will be held at Nandua High School in Onley on Saturday, February 8 at 2:30 p.m. Voters are encouraged to arrive early as registration begins at 1:30. In speaking with her last week, she encouraged supporters to do what she calls “virtual door knocking” by sharing her campaign’s Facebook page and make phone calls on her behalf. It’s a far more compressed schedule than a normal campaign, as the special election for the seat will occur on Tuesday, February 25.

Scalley is basing her campaign on “common sense, conservative values” and adds that:

 We need someone who has a proven record of working for limited government and concern for the working people who earn the money — not the profligate spenders in state government who don’t seem to understand where money comes from.

On Saturday we will find out if Melody’s appeal is successful, or if people will vote for a familiar name. Unlike the Senate race, where control of the body hung in the balance thanks to two January special elections, the winner will join a House of Delegates solidly under GOP control as a common-sense counterweight to the liberal lunacy sure to come from the McAuliffe administration.

Sending a message

A confluence of factors gives certain residents of the Eastern Shore an additional opportunity to make their feelings known on issues near and dear to conservative hearts everywhere.

Let me preface this by mentioning something from an e-mail I received from Heritage Action:

On January 29th, the House Republican Conference will begin its annual retreat to discuss its legislative agenda: their plans for piecemeal (immigration) reform will undoubtedly be the subject of much debate. All Sentinels are encouraged to contact their Members of Congress in advance of this strategy session to remind them to oppose all piecemeal amnesty bills.

Well, consider this my contact. But I also had an idea, based loosely on those who have been decorating overpasses with various political messages.

My friends in Dorchester County probably already know this, but the annual retreat Heritage Action alludes to is being held at the Hyatt resort in Cambridge. The setting is no stranger to political gatherings; on a few occasions the Democrats have used the facility and it also was the location of the first GOP state convention I ever attended (as a guest) in 2006. It also bears retelling the story about the first time I ever came here, to interview for the job which brought me to the Eastern Shore in 2004. I knew I’d like the area because it was like home: flat, dotted with little towns, and conservative – at least based on all the Bush/Cheney signs I saw up and down U.S. 50.

But there are no overpasses to decorate once U.S. 50 and U.S. 301 part ways in Queen Anne’s County. So perhaps in the next few days those who have message boards, yard signs from old campaigns, or other ways to convey opinion may want to place a sign along U.S. 50 between the Bay Bridge and Cambridge. (An alternative can be along the roads between the Dorchester airport and the Hyatt in case they fly over, but I suspect most will drive the couple hours.) Imagine seeing mile after mile of a “No Amnesty” message – think they may get the hint?

Obviously the GOP wants to spend time in its own enclave: presumably the entire resort is rented for this purpose, thus for the most part closing it to the public. But they can’t control the entire 80 miles or so that they have to traverse, and the message can be broadcast to ignore us at your peril.

Harris continues with high AFP marks

It should come as no surprise that a grassroots group which has over the years strongly backed our Congressman, Andy Harris, would give him high marks for his overall voting pattern. But Americans for Prosperity and their Federal Affairs Manager Chrissy Hanson wanted to make sure I got the word.

Now that the first year of the 113th Congress has come to an end, it seems like a good time to look back and take notice of how our Representatives and Senators voted. Americans for Prosperity ranks members of Congress based on their votes in favor of economic freedom, and thus, a better, brighter, more prosperous future.

Interestingly enough, though, while Andy’s 2013 score was solid, his rating for 2014 probably went down yesterday when he voted for the omibus spending bill which funds a large part of the government for the remainder of this fiscal year, through September 30. It did on the continuing Heritage Action scorecard, where Harris only rates an 83% score. In either case, though, Harris has tended to land on the edge of the top 50 rated members of Congress, both House and Senate.

In this day and age of instant gratification and accountability, it’s notable that many organizations take the time to track these Congressional votes and rate representatives. But these can be deceptive as well – for example, Harris actually has a worse rating than Sen. Marco Rubio (who’s best known for working with Democrats in trying to reform immigration into an amnesty program) and is only a few points ahead of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s been painted as an ineffective leader of the resistance and faces a strong primary challenge from Matt Bevin – so much so that McConnell has an attack website against his Republican opponent.

The point is that any scoring system can make for a flawed look at a politico, because sometimes actions are more important than votes and not every issue is of equal importance. To use Rubio as an example, he may be voting the correct way on economic issues but most have still not forgiven him for working with the pro-amnesty portion of the party on immigration.

In general I’m satisfied with how Andy Harris votes – when he served in the Maryland Senate he was one of only two legislators who have ever achieved a perfect monoblogue Accountability Project score of 100 in a particular session. I’m a very difficult taskmaster. So it goes without saying I was an early Harris Congressional supporter and remain so, given the lack of credible and better opposition in our district, at least until 2022. (This is because he set a 12-year term limit on himself.)

If I could wave a magic wand and get hundreds more members of Congress like Andy Harris, I’d take it in a second. We would be so much better off, regardless of the scores he’s assigned.

A chance to speak out

August is the time when official Washington shuts down, the tourists take over, and those who represent us return to their respective districts. Many use the opportunity to host townhall meetings in an effort to hear from and interact with his or her constituents.

But I’m fairly willing to bet that, aside from the possible exception of Andy Harris, you won’t hear a much more conservative voice conducting a townhall meeting than former Senator Jim DeMint, and you won’t have to travel to South Carolina or the fetid swamp of Washington, D.C. to attend. As part of Heritage Action and their proactive fight against Obamacare, the former Senator will be appearing in Joe Biden’s old stomping grounds of Wilmington, Delaware.

Seeing that the Eastern Shore isn’t all that far from Wilmington, this may be a good time investment for those of us interested in how some activists are combating Obamacare.

I suspect the number of former Senators will outnumber the number of current Delaware Senators at the meeting. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney counter-program with their own meetings that night, just to try and divide and conquer the Delaware opposition, such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots.

Too bad there’s a lot of First State residents who agree with DeMint and Heritage Action.

Odds and ends number 73

As I often do, here’s a collection of little items which grow to become one BIG item. And I have a LOT of them – so read fast.

For example, I learned the other day that Richard Rothschild, who spoke so passionately about private property rights (and the Constitution in general) will be back in our area Saturday, March 2nd as the speaker for Dorchester County’s Lincoln Day Dinner. That’s being held at the Elks Lodge outside Cambridge beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets, which are just $30, are available through the county party.

While Rothschild is the featured speaker, you shouldn’t miss some of the others scheduled to grace the podium, particularly gubernatorial candidates Charles Lollar and Blaine Young as well as Congressman Andy Harris. For a small county like Dorchester, that’s quite a lineup!

The controversy over the Septic Bill is far from the only item liberty-minded Marylanders have to worry about. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been bombarded with notices over a number of issues.

For example, after what State Senator E.J. Pipkin termed as a “structural failure” regarding hearing testimony on Senate Bill 281 (the gun-grabber bill) he offered an amendment to the Senate rules to handle these cases. However, I could not find a follow-up to that bill.

What I could find, though, was Pipkin’s statement that the state was making citizens into criminals, stating “The penalties embedded within the Governor’s Gun Control bill are extreme; they would criminalize paperwork errors in ways that destroy careers, lives, and families.” And he’s absolutely correct.

“This bill does not address the issue of gun violence in Maryland. The real issue is illegal firearms in Maryland, something the Governor’s bill does not target,” Pipkin concluded.

But guns aren’t the only problem. Unfortunately, we are one step closer to an offshore wind boondoggle in Maryland despite the best efforts of those who deal in the realm of reality to stop it. One bastion of sanity in Maryland is Change Maryland, whose Chair Larry Hogan expressed the following regarding offshore wind:

It seems Martin O’Malley’s priority is to make electricity and gas more expensive. He is pushing an increase in the gas tax and pushing a wind energy policy that is not cost effective and guarantees that electricity will be more expensive for rate payers.

At the close of the last session, the governor ignored the budgeting process which resulted in a train wreck.  Instead he was out on the steps of the capital, leading wind energy activists in chant that said ‘all we re saying is give wind a chance.’

There are no assurances that this offshore wind proposal will not devolve into crony-capitalism that reward friends of the governor and political donors.

Actually, Hogan slightly misses the point because true capitalism would occur when the market continues to shun the expense and non-reliability of offshore wind. I guarantee that if this project goes through it will cost those of us who use electricity in Maryland a LOT more than $1.50 a month – subsidies can always change, just like tax rates on casinos.

The aforementioned Pipkin also weighed in on offshore wind:

This legislation may represent a shift in how private business is done in and regulated by the state.

This bill requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to weigh new criteria in approving private development contracts to build off-shore wind turbines.  The Commission will now consider prevailing wage and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) participation as criteria in its contract award.

This could set new precedent. In the future, we could see every business now regulated by a state agency subject to prevailing wage and MBE requirements.

You think? Our Big Labor-friendly governor stops at nothing – nothing – to grease the skids for his union cronies. And surely this will extend to whatever road work is performed once the gas tax is increased by O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats. Wait, did I say road work? Hogan and Change Maryland question that assumption, too:

Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan backed transportation reform which has emerged as a key issue this legislative session after several years of being relegated to the back burner.  Specifically, key members of the Maryland House of Delegates are advocating guiding principles to ensure much-needed investments are made in infrastructure and fundamental reforms made to transportation policy.

“Previous attempts to improve our transportation network in Maryland have been an abject failure. Our top elected officials are saying roads and bridges are crumbling, but what they won’t tell you is they are the ones who caused the problem in the first place,” said Hogan.  “Another myth that is being foisted upon us is that there is an urgent need to raise the gasoline tax, and that is simply not true.”

Hogan joins Del. Susan Krebs and other House members in instilling common-sense policy solutions to making transportation policy.  These include protecting the transportation trust fund with a constitutional amendment, realigning infrastructure investments to reflect how Marylanders actually travel and restoring funds for transportation. (Emphasis mine.)

I highlighted the above phrase as a way to say, “bingo!” That, folks, is the problem in a nutshell.

This is a state which jacked up the tolls on the Bay Bridge to create a cash cow for other projects which don’t pay their own way, like the Inter-County Connector outside Washington. O’Malley’s gas tax is really intended to build rail lines most of us will never ride rather than build projects we could use, like perhaps a limited-access Easton bypass for U.S. 50, widening Maryland Route 90 into Ocean City, or building an interchange at the dangerous U.S. 113 – Maryland Route 12 intersection in Worcester County.

The gas tax proposal has led to acrimony in Annapolis, as Delegate Kathy Szeliga points out:

(Senate President Mike) Miller called House Republicans who oppose his gas tax proposal, “Neanderthals,” and “obstructionists.” In response to his comments, Delegate Szeliga tweeted, “Yabba-dabba-do, Mr. Miller,” further commenting that she hopes to obstruct and stop this massive 70% increase in the gas tax and government expansion. In response to Senator Miller’s jabs at Republicans, Delegate Herb McMillan added, “Even a caveman can see that it’s stupid to raise gas taxes when there’s no guarantee they’ll be used for roads.”

Kidding aside, you can call me a “total obstructionist” as well, Senator Miller. On the road to serfdom someone has to stand in the way, and I’m one of those someones.

Notice that I haven’t even talked about the federal government yet. One sure sign of a new year, though, is the ubiquitous Congressional scorecard. Two organizations which have released theirs recently are Americans for Prosperity and Heritage Action for America.

Not surprisingly, Harris scored a 95% grade from AFP, leading the Maryland delegation – former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett had the second highest grade at 91%. As for the rest, well, their COMBINED score was 50 percent. Heritage Action, however, graded Andy more harshly with an 81% grade (Bartlett scored 67%.) Once again, the remainder of Maryland’s delegation scored anywhere from a lackluster 17% to a pathetic 4 percent.

We’re also talking about immigration reform more these days. I happen to lean somewhat on the hawkish side, so I believe these reports from the Center for Immigration Studies are worth discussing. In one, former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia looks at what happened the last time we went down this road insofar as collecting back taxes from illegal aliens – a key part of the compromise provision – was handled after the 1986 reform.

The second CIS report looks at recommendations the bipartisan Jordan Commission made in 1997, after the 1986 immigration amnesty program failed. This middle ground made five recommendations:

  • Integrate the immigrants now in the United States more thoroughly;
  • Reduce the total number of legal immigrants to about 550,000 a year;
  • Rationalize the nonimmigrant visa programs and regulate them;
  • Enforce the immigration law vigorously with no further amnesties; and
  • Re-organize the management of the immigration processes within the government.

That seems like a pretty good starting point to work from, particularly the first recommendation.

Another study worth reading is this one from Competitive Enterprise Institute called “The Wages of Sin Taxes.” In it, author Chris Snowden takes an unflinching look at who really pays for these tolls. As CEI states in their summary:

Most remarkably, Snowdon, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, demonstrates that financial burden supposedly placed on society through the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, high-calorie foods, has little basis in reality. The myth that these “sinners” cost the rest of us money is perpetuated in large part because “government has no incentive to tell the public that these groups are being exploited, and the affected industries dare not advertise the savings that come from lives being cut short by excessive use of their products.”  This type of tax is actually a regressive “stealth tax” that allows lawmakers to take money from their constituents with the lowest incomes without the pushback an upfront tax would provoke.

I would put that in the category of “duh.”  Ask yourself: how much state-sanctioned money and effort do you see given by government to prevent drinking, smoking, and gambling? Yet they rake their cut off the top in each of these three vices, which are only legal because government and society have compromised on these issues.

On the other hand, those who grow or smoke marijuana or do other illegal drugs are considered criminals and tossed in jail or fined. The same is true with prostitutes in most locales. If there were tax money to be made, though, and societal mores shifted ever-so-slightly toward a more libertarian viewpoint with regards to these self-inflicted actions, they would be legal – but you’d certainly still see the public service announcements about “just say no” or the dangers of selling one’s body. (Oddly enough, I doubt we buy time around the world to warn about the dangers of illegally immigrating to the United States. Why do you think that is?)

And I don’t think items like this upcoming movie will help the libertarian cause – not because of the message per se, but the poor quality of the animation. It reminds me of those cheesy Xtranormal movies people make, sorry to say.

I also have a couple items – as I get closer to wrapping this up – that I think are worth reading. Paul Jacobs is on Townhall giving our state a little tough love regarding the drive to tighten petition rules (in a state where it’s already very difficult to succeed) while Mike Shedlock is there making a point I’ve made for several years – my daughter’s generation is being hosed.

While he’s a little bit older than the Millennial Generation, I think Dan Bongino can relate. This video is now going viral on Youtube, in part thanks to the Blaze.

Finally, I think it’s worth alerting my readers that this may be the last edition of odds and ends for awhile. No, I’m not going anywhere but in the interest of bringing more readership I’m in the process of exploring the concept of a quicker posting tempo which may or may not feature shorter posts.

I’ve always felt the ideal post was somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words, but these odds and ends posts can run 2,000 words or more. Maybe it’s better for both readers and this writer to space things out and perhaps devote 200-300 words to an item rather than wait and collect a bunch of items which could get stale after a week or two. I can’t always control the length of my Ten Question Tuesday posts or ones where I report on an event, but I can work with items like these and see what’s truly worth writing about.

As the political world and internet evolve, I think the time is right to change up the mix and tempo here just a little bit. Certainly I won’t get to a point where I’m simply rehashing press releases but I think it’s a better use of my time to shorten the average post I write.

So there you have it: another post which weighs in at 2,000 words, exactly.

Odds and ends number 71

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the better part of my audience is going to be tuned into the game because the hometown Ravens are playing, I thought it a good time to clean out my e-mail box and join the celebration. (As a Lions and Browns fan, I’m watching for the commercials. Maybe someday I can have a rooting interest.)

Last week those of us in Maryland were subjected to the State of the State address by Governor O’Malley. In the footnoted version, it’s 14 pages of bilge and big government. The “official” Republican response by Delegate Andrew Serafini (the last 15 minutes here) seemed awfully tepid, so you knew others might have both barrels blazing.

Enter Change Maryland head Larry Hogan, who skewered O’Malley’s speech with a rhetorical spit:

Governor O’Malley’s slogan used to be ‘believe’ but that speech was pure make believe. The Governor continues to misuse facts to portray a false narrative of his administration’s legacy. Only Martin O’Malley could actually call a 30 percent increase in spending and a budget he has increased by $9 billion as making government smaller…The governor said he cut $8.3 billion but that’s just not true. He has increased spending every single year since he has been governor, a total of more than $9 billion. So his math is off by more than $17 billion.

He talked of making tough choices, but after 24 consecutive tax and fee hikes, the only tough choice he has to make is what can we possibly tax next?

Governor O’Malley said we have the worst traffic congestion in the nation. On this we agree. But he failed to tell you that he is the reason we are in this predicament because he diverted funds from the transportation trust fund to pay for other things, and then of what was left in the transportation budget, he only allocated a tiny amount to roads.

He talked about what he inherited. I was a cabinet secretary in the previous administration, and I can tell you that when we turned the keys over to the O’Malley administration, we had a billion dollar cash surplus in the bank, and the state was in the best fiscal shape it had been in decades.

Just six years later and by any objective measure, by any objective group, the state is in far worse shape than ever before. Businesses, jobs and taxpayers are fleeing our state in record numbers. We have fallen behind all the states in our region and most states across the country in nearly every economic indicator.

But Larry saved the best for last:

Unfortunately he checked out of this job some time ago, and is focused on his next one. His entire focus is about his national political aspirations and not about the needs of average hard-working Marylanders who continue to struggle.

I guess he means O’Malley’s future job as a consultant? Sure, he may run for the 2016 Presidential nomination and maybe try again four years later. But Maryland’s getting tired of his one-trick act.

While Hogan may or may not be running for governor, we know David Craig is. His reaction, in part:

Today Governor O’Malley offered a narrative about better choices in his State of the State Address. I share the Governor’s passion for better choices and a better Maryland. The Governor’s choices; however, have resulted in a higher tax burden for Maryland families and businesses, increased regulation, and a myriad of unfunded mandates passed on to local governments.

I would like to offer an alternative vision. We need to strive for the “Best Maryland”. The Best Maryland begins by government allowing individuals and business to lead in partnership with the State. We need to continue to improve our state, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.

We need to make pragmatic choices that balance our priorities and encourage private-sector growth and investment. The “Best Maryland” begins with an approach where our state is not dominated by one set of ideas and one set of leaders.

Is there really anything to that statement? Honestly, who wrote that?

At least with Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga, you have the scripted banter of a rebuttal. It’s worth pointing out that the wind turbines would be in the Atlantic Ocean, not Chesapeake Bay.

But the reaction to one portion of the State of the State address will be seen this coming Wednesday as Second Amendment supporters gather in Annapolis to protest the gun grabbing bill sponsored by Martin O’Malley. Those coming from the lower Eastern Shore to protest have an additional travel option. From the Wicomico Society of Patriots:

Things are heating up in Annapolis with two important hearings occurring on February 6th.  The gun hearing will be held before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00 p.m. and Mike McDermott’s repeal (HB106) of the 2012 septic bill hearing will be held before the Environmental Matters Committee (House of Delegates) at 1:00 p.m.

If you would like to attend to testify on either of these issues or to protest, then you can drive up yourself or you can sign up to ride on a bus with other patriots.

Bus Option #1:  Worcester Tea Party and Stop Agenda 21 are sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis on Feb. 6th.  The bus will leave WOC Park & Ride at 7:30am and Boscov’s in Salisbury at 8:15 am.  Call 410 251 3585 or 410 430 7282 to reserve your seat.  Also, you can email:  www.worcestercountyteaparty.com  or stopagenda21maryland.org for more information.  Cost is $10.

Bus Option #2:  Jamie Wink at Wink’s Gun Shop in Princess Anne is also sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis.  Please call Jamie at 443 783 3993 for more information about this bus trip.  Cost is $20.

I think Jamie Wink would be a great monoblogue advertiser, how about you?

One important note about the proceedings:

If you are testifying: Please arrive as early as possible to sign in, the committee will take sign ins until about noon. You will be given 3 minutes to speak.

If you are submitting written testimony you must bring a copy for each of the Senators who sit on the committee (11 copies) and submit them to Committee staff before noon so they can make sure all of the Senators have the materials on their desks.

There are various parking garages in Annapolis, or you can park at the Naval Academy Stadium and ride the Annapolis Shuttle/Trolley to Lawyers Mall – The Senate Building is right across the Street.

Be prepared to spend the whole day here, whether you testify or not, what is important is that we are there in numbers to stand in opposition. We need thousands of gun owners.

They have all night. However, a little organization may be in order as those who rode the bus (and may have to return by a set time) should speak first. Also be aware that the committee chairs (Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh) are probably going to be more of a stickler for rules and time limits from the pro-liberty side than from those wanting gun restrictions and more oppressive government.

More on SB281 from the National Association for Gun Rights:

Senate Bill 281 drastically broadens the definition of an assault weapon and constitutes one of the most outrageous assault weapon bans proposed in the country.

This bill classifies 15 different types of semi-automatic pistols as “assault weapons” as well as certain types of shotguns and rifles.

This means that if Senate Bill 281 passes these guns will be illegal to purchase or bring into the State of Maryland.

This 38-page bill also bans high-capacity magazines limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

If this bill becomes law, it criminalizes all citizens owning newly banned weapons unless they immediately register their guns with the State of Maryland.

Gun owners who don’t register their “banned” weapons would face up to 3 years in jail or a $5,000 dollar fine under O’Malley’s Gun Grab Bill.

Current law governing carry permits in Maryland makes it almost impossible to carry, yet this bill will make it even harder by requiring a new 16-hour handgun training course.

To purchase or rent a handgun, citizens will now have to pay roughly $400 dollars in fees, background checks, training courses, and finger-printing.

How many criminals will this make out of otherwise law-abiding citizens? Registration can be the first step toward confiscation.

I can almost guarantee you that a vote on SB281 (whether a floor vote or committee vote) will be part of the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project.

But let’s not forget the federal level. I received this note from Heritage Action for America, which alerted me that they are “…looking to build a movement of conservative activists in these areas to hold Congress accountable.” I think I have enough readers all across the Shore who can fit the bill.

These readers (and many others) owe it to themselves to consider a piece by Bradlee Dean at The Brenner Brief. You probably remember Bradlee from his visit last October to the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting, but in this case he’s speaking more about the idea of obedience to the state rather than to God, and how to reconcile the two.

Finally, the question on everyone’s mind: who will win the big game, the Ravens or 49ers? For the Move America Forward group and their troop care package competition, it’s a razor-thin margin after the 49ers jumped out to an early lead. We’ll see if the real Super Bowl follows the same pattern.

My prediction: Ravens, 30-28. Not that I much like it, but Baltimore’s shown a history of winning games they had no business winning – just ask Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, and New England (arguably Dallas, too.) A little karma the other way and they may have been 8-8.

But at the end I’m going to say what I have said for many years, beginning with ex-wife #1:

Me: Well, the Super Bowl is over, so you know what that means…

Spousal unit: What?

Me: (in a rising voice): Only seven days until PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!! (Nine for Orioles fans.)

Bring on the baseball season, baby. My Tigers have some unfinished business to take care of. (Sorry, Orioles. Your time will come.)