By Cathy Keim
So whatever you wish that others would do unto you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12 (ESV)
The horrific Facebook video of four people, two males and two females, torturing a mentally challenged man has led to a vigorous debate of whether the media reported the event correctly, whether it should be classified a hate crime, why did it take so long for the police to acknowledge that it was a hate crime, etc. etc.
Sarah Palin cut through all the nonsense in her excellent Breitbart piece where she stated:
My extended family discussed the tragedy last night. We concluded we do not care about arguing the legalities involved in categorizing this as a “hate crime” or not a “hate crime.” Obviously it is a hateful, hate-filled crime centering on politics and race. Proof is on tape. Debating the merits of categorizing the disgusting racist and political taunts vomited up by thugs during their brutal beating of a helpless young man is, to us, a media distraction. I leave it to others to focus on that.
We need to step back from the racial aspect of this crime and take the bigger picture. The torturers were abusing a mentally challenged man. This is like kicking a puppy. It is so obviously wrong that it is sickening to even think about. We don’t need to discuss whether it is a black puppy or a white puppy. You just don’t kick a puppy.
It is wrong to kidnap, torture, and abuse anybody, but the case is made startlingly clear when a person with no capacity to fight back is the target. How did the perpetrators become so detached from their own humanity that they could laugh as they tortured their victim? Why didn’t anyone call the police as they were watching the live broadcast of the event?
This event needs to call our nation to some serious soul-searching. The breakdown of our society is becoming harder to ignore. Chicago is teetering on the edge of societal collapse with its murder rate soaring, as are many other major cities. Our nation has lived off the religious heritage of our forefathers for many years, but we are at the end of those benefits. One can live on the faded memories only so long.
The collective ethos of our nation has frayed to the point that our young people have no understanding of what we were. The educational system is not teaching them their heritage and the popular culture has no concept of it. Families are broken so that the final opportunity for transmitting the story of our nation from one generation to the next is lost.
It is a good thing that most people were shocked and disgusted by the event. Sadly, we are becoming immune to the brutal scenes around us due to constant exposure.
John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and our second president, said, ”Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We are seeing the social covenant of our nation being ripped to shreds by the differing application of laws and expected behavior. The elites are above the laws and those designated poor and minorities are not held to the law. Only the middle class is still required to abide by the cultural norms, respect the laws, and pay the taxes.
Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote a spot-on piece explaining how California is bifurcated between the cultural elites on the coast and the rural inland areas. The elites live a protected existence buffered by their wealth, while the middle class struggles to meet the increasingly stringent regulations pushed by the elites. The final blow is that while the middle class is held to the letter of the law, the illegal immigrants are exempt:
On my rural street are two residences not far apart. In one, shacks dot the lot. There are dozens of port-a-potties, wrecked cars, and unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs - all untouched by the huge tentacles of the state’s regulatory octopus.
Nearby, another owner is being regulated to death, as he tries to rebuild a small burned house: His well, after 30 years, is suddenly discovered by the state to be in violation, under a new regulation governing the allowed distance between his well and his leach line; so he drills another costly well. Then his neighbor’s agricultural well is suddenly discovered by the state regulators to be too close as well, so he breaks up sections of his expensive new leach line. After a new septic system was built by a licensed contractor and a new well was drilled by a licensed well-driller, he has after a year - $40,000 poorer - still not been permitted to even start to rebuild his 900-square-foot house.
The middle class in America is not just made up of white people. The beauty of America is that the middle class consists of citizens of every race, religion, and gender. This is the strength of America and one of the unique qualities that sets America apart. Anyone can achieve middle-class status through hard work and following the rules - at least that was the belief about how it worked.
The full-on attack against moral values, religious beliefs, patriotism, civic duty, and even masculine and feminine virtues, have left the middle class exhausted and demoralized. If they don’t pay their parking ticket, they can be hauled into court and fined. They don’t want the hassle, they don’t want to miss work, they don’t want to be embarrassed publicly, so middle-class Americans pay their parking tickets and more importantly to the politicians, they pay their taxes. On the other hand, the urban poor living off their welfare payments don’t worry about parking tickets or kidnapping, attempted murder, or raising their children to know the Golden Rule.
Illegal immigrants drive without a license, drive drunk, commit rape, and care not about the consequences. One recent example came from Kansas, where it was reported that an illegal immigrant from Mexico now accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus had been deported ten times and voluntarily removed nine other times since 2003. So in the lifespan of his alleged victim, this man has gone on a merry-go-round of coming and going across the border 19 times. It is nice to know that this man has been charged with a felony for rape, but your average citizen would like to know why was he asked to leave 19 times and was still back in our country to commit rape?
One of the valid purposes for government to exist is to provide security for its citizens. The elite can afford to pay for walls around their mansions, private security guards, and private schools for their children. They are completely immune from the ill effects that the middle class must endure due to the reckless immigration policies and the uneven enforcement of our laws.
Sadly, the lack of law enforcement leads to even more violence and mayhem in our cities. David French reports in National Review that:
When a culture breaks, it falls to the police to keep order. When they pull back, people die. That’s the lesson of Chicago. On January 1, 60 Minutes ran an extended piece, Crisis in Chicago, that’s must viewing for those who believe black lives matter. An entire police department is in full retreat. The numbers don’t lie:
As killings rose, police activity fell. In August of 2015, cops stopped and questioned 49,257 people. A year later those stops dropped to 8,859, down 80 percent. At the same time arrests were off by a third, from just over 10,000 to 6,900.
As further evidence, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (in a now ongoing “Homicide Watch” online series) that “2016 closes with at least 780 homicides in Chicago, and three more reported on first day of new year. That was the highest total in more than 20 years.”
John Adams was correct when he stated that our country will only work when its citizens are a moral people.
I will posit that America still has a large percentage of its citizens that are a moral people capable of self-government. However, we have reached a breaking point where the hypocrisy of our governing elite has pushed middle America to vote in a game-changing president. Donald Trump correctly assessed that middle America was ready for a president who would champion their cause. His first big breakthrough issue was to stop illegal immigration. Law-abiding middle Americans want everybody to live by the same laws: no more sanctuary cities, no more ignoring illegal immigrants and the employers that break the laws the hire them.
Furthermore, middle Americans would appreciate an end to the assault on our values. The Planned Parenthood video tapes clearly showed that PP employees were harvesting baby parts for profit. Transgender bathrooms were not an issue until they were foisted upon us by the same parties that insisted gay marriage was needed. How are we to raise the next generation of citizens to understand how to live, when they see babies sold for profit, masculine and feminine virtues ridiculed, traditional families denigrated, and every perversion celebrated?
We do not need to settle everything by whether it is a black/white issue, a male/female issue, or a minority/majority issue. Instead, we need to practice the Golden Rule by treating our neighbor as we would want to be treated. We need for our laws to be enforced equally.
America was never meant to be ruled by tribalism. We are the nation that rose above tribalism to become the place where everybody could achieve the middle-class dream no matter what side of the track they started on.
It is my hope that middle Americans have voted in a game-changing opportunity to remember who we are. If we miss this chance, there may not be another.
Last week the Center for Immigration Studies came out with a claim that the number of those living in our country who speak a foreign language at home has tripled since 1980, now numbering almost 65 million. We also fret about the terrorism risk from those who would claim to be refugees or simply sneak across our border. In short, immigration is the hot-button issue that propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination – unfortunately, he’s since radically backpedaled on the issue to the advocacy of “touchback amnesty” that will likely lose its “touchback” provisions.
So the question is: are we a nation of laws or not? Illegal to me is illegal, not “undocumented.” So here’s my stance in five bullet points or less:
- We are told that you can’t deport 11 million illegals. But you can create the conditions where they will leave on their own through stricter law enforcement.
- We need border security. If the “virtual wall” doesn’t work, then we need to build a physical barrier.
- There also needs to be a reform of the visa system. A large and growing part of the illegal immigration problem is visa overstays, so it’s time to crack down.
- An end to “birthright citizenship.”
- While testing for religious beliefs is illegal and quite impractical – since certain religions permit lying to advance them - one has to ask why we accept immigrants and grant visas to those from countries who are our enemies.
As always, if you want to back up and review this series on earning my vote from the start feel free to. But here is where my contenders stand on the immigration issue, for eleven points.
Castle: “I believe that immigration in all its forms should be stopped until we can vet immigrants properly and our borders are under control. We can’t be allowing people with terrorist ties, or who are carrying dangerous communicable diseases, to enter our country unchecked. But once we have regained control of our borders and the flow of immigrants, we can admit as many as we choose, in a controlled and lawful manner.
I do not favor asylum for those here illegally nor do I favor a path to citizenship. Welfare or entitlement programs, if you choose to call them that, should be strictly for American citizens. I have said that I would not deport wholesale but I would not hesitate individually if the need arose.”
Should not take in refugees, “I’m all for secure borders.”
Hedges: “We would deploy sufficient resources to stop all illegal traffic in people and drugs across America’s land and sea borders. We would not provide driver’s licenses, educational subsidies, or welfare benefits to illegal aliens, except that the medical conditions of gravely ill illegals would be stabilized before they are deported. We strongly oppose granting citizenship to ‘anchor babies’ born to illegal alien mothers.” (party platform)
Hoefling: We demand the immediate securing and continuous vigilant maintenance of our sovereign territory and borders. We oppose any private or governmental action that rewards illegal entry into the United States in any way, and demand speedy and full enforcement of our laws concerning all such activities. (party platform)
Johnson: Practical Reform. No Walls. Incentivize Assimilation.
Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson knows the complex issues associated with immigration reform first hand. Solving immigration problems is not as easy as building a wall or simply offering amnesty.
We should appreciate and respect the diversity of immigrants that come to the United States to be productive members of society. But we also need to recognize that everyone who comes here is not so well-intentioned.
Gary Johnson and Bill Weld don’t want to build an expensive and useless wall. The only thing a big wall will do is increase the size of the ladders, the depth of the tunnels, and the width of the divisions between us.
Candidates who say they want to militarize the border, build fences, and impose punitive measures on good people, ground their position in popular rhetoric, not practical solutions.
Governors Johnson and Weld believe that, instead of appealing to emotions and demonizing immigrants, we should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.
Making it simpler and more efficient to enter the United States legally will provide greater security than a wall by allowing law enforcement to focus on those who threaten our country, not those who want to be a part of it. (campaign website)
McMullin: The story of America is the story of immigration. Evan McMullin’s family left Ireland in the 1600s to seek a better life in the New World. Part of his mother’s family fled Poland because of the Nazi menace.
The country we love was built by immigrants. Yet while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. We must preserve our sovereignty, our security, and the rule of law.
We also need a president who will enforce the law instead of forcing through an illegal amnesty by executive order. Nor should “sanctuary cities” be able to refuse cooperation with the federal enforcement efforts.
The path to reform begins with securing our borders. Once they are secured, there should be a process of earned legalization for the illegal immigrants who are already here. There is simply no efficient way to deport 11 million individuals; doing so would break apart families and likely cost $100 billion. Furthermore, legalization is not amnesty.
While addressing illegal immigration, it is vital to remember that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths. Immigrants and their children have a long record of hard work, starting businesses, and creating jobs. Still, we need to reform the legal immigration system so that it prioritizes American interests and security, including the protection of workers from low-wage, low-skill competition.
There should be a robust debate about immigration, but there should be no place for the kind of hateful and divisive rhetoric frequently on display in this campaign.
To secure the border, we need more manpower, better technology, and—in some places—walls. First, the government should hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. Second, the government should invest in advanced sensing and surveillance technologies, including cameras. Finally, there are several hundred miles of the southern border where walls are being built and must be completed. However, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
The incentive that attracts illegal immigrants to the United States is the opportunity to work. To reduce that incentive, employers should be required to use the eVerify system, which was designed to help them determine if job applicants are in the country legally. “Sanctuary cities” must follow the law as well, or face the cut off of federal funding.
Above all, the president must obey the law. President Obama’s executive amnesties in 2012 and 2014 sought to place more than five million illegal immigrants beyond the reach of law enforcement. This year, however, a federal judge struck down the amnesties and the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue.
A president who respects the Constitution knows that only Congress can make the law; executive amnesties violate this principle.
Deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is simply not practical. It would likely cost more than $100 billion and force the federal government to act in an intrusive manner that would violate the privacy of both citizens and legal residents. Deportation would also break up families, hurting children who are not responsible for their parents’ actions. Criminals, however, would still be subject to deportation.
The first step toward earning legal status is for all those who are here illegally to come forward and register themselves. Next they would pay an application fee and a fine, undergo a background check, and demonstrate competence in English. If they do those things, they would get a temporary work and residence permit, but would not be eligible for welfare or entitlement programs. If they obey the law and pay their taxes for several years, they could apply for permanent residency.
This is not amnesty; amnesty is when lawbreakers get something for nothing. Evan’s approach requires every illegal immigrant to earn the right to stay here.
Our country’s immigration policy should serve its economic interests. The best and brightest from all over the world want to live and work in America, yet the current immigration system mistakenly prioritizes the reunification of extended families.
Immigrants founded forty percent of the American companies in the Fortune 500. They also founded one half of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups. In other words, they help create high-quality jobs for all Americans.
The effect of current policy, which focuses on family reunification, is to encourage the arrival of those with less education, fewer skills, and little savings. This creates competition for American workers who don’t have the advantage of a college education and already face the greatest challenges in today’s high-tech economy.
Another problem is the misuse of programs, such as the H-1B visa, that are designed to attract the best and brightest. Instead, companies may use these programs to find cheaper replacements for skilled American workers. We need to make sure that all our immigration programs are being used in good faith.
The way that we deal with immigration will have a profound impact on our identity as Americans. We must be careful to preserve our nation’s unity and commitment to fairness. At the same time, our debates and our policies should reflect the civility and tolerance that helped forge a nation out of immigrants from every nation on earth. By replacing divisive rhetoric with genuine action to secure the border, we can work towards immigration reform that makes America safer, fairer, and more prosperous. (campaign website)
I like the idea Darrell Castle has regarding an immigration pause, but there is a legitimate argument that stopping immigration entirely will just convince people to try other methods. such as overstaying their visas or sneaking across the border until they are secure. One question is whether he would use the military to do so, risking violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Generally his is a solid approach, though. 7 points.
The approach from Jim Hedges (or at least his party) is very good, although as I study the candidate I question if he would follow through. It does provide necessary disincentives, although it doesn’t have an exit strategy. 7.5 points.
Secure the border and enforce the laws. The America’s Party approach from Tom Hoefling is beautiful in its simplicity, although it leaves some gaps as to detail. 7 points.
Gary Johnson criticizes the approach of his opponents as impractical, but what he comes up with is impotent for solving the issue. As I noted above, more Americans than ever speak a foreign language at home so the assimilation approach does not seem to be working. Those who come here legally and wish to assimilate aren’t the problem because they follow the rule of law, and to provide for those who do not follow the rules is a slap to those who do. No points.
Similarly, Evan McMullin argues “legalization is not amnesty” but paying a fine isn’t much of a punishment. He has some good thoughts in a number of areas, but I do not believe in amnesty such as he proposes. I may consider the immigrant who goes back and does things the right way after a significant period of time (measured in multiple years) has elapsed, but what McMullin proposes will simply be a magnet for more illegal immigration. 3 points.
I’m more inclined to hear arguments on both sides of foreign policy, which is my next topic.
It predates my writing career, but back during the 2004 Presidential campaign much hay was made over Democrat John Kerry’s attempts to be on both sides of various issues, including voting for something before he was against it. If you ask me, though, Kerry was by no means alone in terms of trying to cover all the bases and be all things to all people – the truth is that the further you go in politics, the more likely it is you will run across situations where your current action may well contradict something you did 10 years ago.
People are allowed to change their minds on issues, and I can use myself as an example: for a time I held the orthodox libertarian view that term limits artificially restrict voter choice and should be eliminated. While that makes a lot of sense on a philosophical level, in practice voter choices are more limited by the amount of money that naturally accrues to incumbents and by rules about ballot access that tend to favor the two major parties, enabling them to get their message out more effectively (and in turn more likely to succeed.) In keeping with the idea espoused by our Founding Fathers that representatives were only supposed to stand for election and do that public service for a term or two before returning to private life, I now feel that making it more difficult for people to make a career out of elected politics through term limits would bring us closer to the original intention. (Nor should we forget that only the House was supposed to be elected by the people directly - Senators were appointed through the respective state legislatures until the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913.*) There is a compelling argument to be made, though, which contends that if term limits were adopted then control of the government would be placed in the hands of the unelected bureaucrats that write the rules and regulations. But I also believe that if elected officials are relieved of the constant fundraising to stay in office they may come up with more bold ideas and real solutions to problems – not lip-service intended to keep government bureaucrats in place perpetually.
I could probably spend a couple thousand words pursuing that digression, but my real intention in putting pixels to screen today was to discuss the immigration “flip-flop” of Donald Trump in relation to other issues. I put the phrase in quotes because to me it was already baked into his campaign, and those who truly believed he would be a hardliner on immigration were being played for suckers. Early on I knew about the “big, beautiful door” and “touchback” amnesty so what was one of his strongest points when I analyzed all of the GOP Presidential hopefuls almost a year ago became more and more watered down as time went on.
The difference to me between a “flip-flop” and a legitimate change of heart, though, comes down to whether the words remain consistent and are followed by appropriate actions. Obviously as a challenger in a political campaign Donald Trump doesn’t have a record of votes to compare nor has he had to address the myriad issues that someone in political office is confronted with on a daily basis. As a case in point for the latter: a week or so ago I put up a Facebook post asking why utility trucks such as those operated by Delmarva Power have to go through truck scales (as I had observed that day) with my thought being: what if they were going to repair a major power outage? I can almost guarantee you that no other constituent had that thought in mind in the year or two my local Delegates have been in office, but to me the question was worth asking for the reason stated.
Let me use Trump as an example in two areas: immigration and abortion. As I see it, the recent statements from Trump on the prospect of amnesty represent a flip-flop of a rhetorical kind, although some may consider it the usual running to the center a Republican candidate is supposed to do after he or she runs right for the primary. It’s more magnified for Trump, however, because of the ferocity of his initial statements such as ”(Mexico is) sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” In the weeks immediately after Trump’s announcement, the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant who had been repeatedly deported yet kept returning into the United States buttressed Trump’s point. So the rhetoric remained hardline, thus, there is a certain element of Trump’s support base that probably feels completely sold out but will revert to reassuring themselves “he’s not Hillary” rather than admit buyer’s remorse from being sold a bill of goods.
It should be noted this Trump pivot, which may or may not bolster his standing among Hispanic voters, also comes at a time when he is also making a parallel push for black voters on a more legitimate question: what have the Democrats done for you lately – or for that matter since the Great Society era and civil rights struggles a half-century ago? Obviously he’s not going to the Obama/Clinton position of just letting any immigrant in, but this more recent concession is quite a different tone than the initial Trump ”build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” stance. Those who wanted a “pause” to immigration are surely disgusted with the turn of events over the last week or so, but there are enough Trump skeptics out there who can say nativists were warned regarding Trump and immigration.
Yet on abortion I think Donald Trump had a more legitimate change of heart toward being pro-life, a move he claims came from a personal experience. Of course, those who are farther along on the pro-life spectrum still question Trump’s bonafides based on his support for Planned Parenthood, but that is not the be-all and end-all of the movement – Planned Parenthood is more of a symptom of the disease than the disease itself. Certainly Donald Trump is not one who has led a monogamous lifestyle – and only God knows if any of his trysts have led to pregnancies eventually terminated - but small victories are still small victories nonetheless. Over the course of the campaign Trump has not shifted a great deal on the issue, with the horserace watchers more focused on the aspect of which evangelical leaders are backing Trump despite his faults and which ones are simply sitting this election out or voting for a more strictly values-based candidate, either on the ballot or as a write-in, as I may.
But there remains a trust issue with Trump that makes writing pieces like this necessary. (Not being able to trust Hillary Clinton any farther than they could throw her was already factored in for millions of voters, simply based on the litany of scandal and questionable decisions she’s made over a quarter-century.) I’ve argued before that 2016 is the election of the flawed individual, but perhaps character doesn’t count in America anymore. While the Clintons, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama have major character flaws, only Kerry lost the popular vote on Election Day – and conspiracy theorists still blame Diebold for that 2004 loss. So perhaps Republicans now believe that “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and selected their own person of questionable character just to pick up that long-desired W on Election Day.
And if you discount character, you quickly understand why there are people who walk among us that would say or do whatever is necessary, flipping and flopping on their beliefs and values, to get what they want – anything from the modest “15 minutes of fame” to the most powerful political office in the country. Upon that realization, it’s just a short step to pondering about the fate of this very republic we live in. America will survive, but with the leadership we seem to be attracting who will want to live there?
Women and men of values, character, and principle, please make yourself known. Your nation needs you, now more than ever.
*Ironically, Delaware and Maryland did not ratify the 17th Amendment until 2010 and 2012, respectively. In Maryland, only eight members of the House of Delegates properly voted against ratification – and one of the eight switched his vote to be against it only after it passed.
It’s not all that likely people know that the woman who is probably Salisbury’s most famous widow – Mitzi Perdue – had such an interest in politics. We got to hear about that and her support for Donald Trump during our meeting Monday night.
Once we dispensed of the introductory business, we turned the meeting over to her and Perdue spoke for more than a half-hour on a number of topics – or as she called them, “things on my mind.” She was very pleased to see several younger people in the group, pointing them out as “VIPs” among us.
But after recommending the new Dinesh D’Souza movie “Hillary’s America,” saying “you’ll love it,” Mitzi revealed that she had been for Donald Trump “a long time.” She related a story that many were familiar with: the renovation of the Wollman Rink in New York City. It was a project the city had tried and failed to do for several years before Trump convinced the city of New York to give him a $3 million budget and six months to get the job done. Not only did he do so, but he made a profit. “I want somebody who is really competent,” said Perdue, “and cuts through the red tape.” It went along with her belief in smaller government and lower taxes.
Yet while Mitzi had a longstanding interest in politics, telling us “politics attracts me,” she could never take the step into running for office. It was so “incredibly tempting” though that she decided to enroll in campaign school. But there she learned that a candidate’s primary job was to deny their opponent’s identity, and she could not run under that condition. Perdue lamented the fact that campaigns aren’t about honesty or truth, pointing out the 65,000 negative ads run against Trump. As “a writer by trade,” Perdue thought “the amount of distortion was staggering.” She added her belief that Trump was “a product of where he came from,” as he grew up in Queens.
In addition, Mitzi related her opinion that in this election we are “up against an extinction-level threat.” While she asked the response of several in the room about their most important issues – and got solid answers such as illegal immigration, radical Islam, the economy, and so forth, she considered our national debt as the biggest threat. Citing a book by Reinhart and Rogoff called This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Perdue contended that when debt becomes too great, it brings about the end of nations. Because Donald Trump “understands balance sheets,” Mitzi believed he could best address the issue. “I want a businessman who knows how to say ‘no’,” she explained.
But when Perdue was asked about illegal immigration, she noted the research that shows all the new jobs this century accrued to immigrants, which led to stagnant wages. “Labor is a commodity,” said Perdue, who also noted that, while immigrants are paying $13 billion a year in taxes, they are using $100 billion in services. “I love that (Trump) is for our citizens,” she said, adding that’s in part because ”we don’t protect our borders.” A border wall is “very doable” with modern technology, she added. As an further benefit, it would slow the drug trade. “My hatred of drugs is unending,” Perdue explained.
Her next campaign task was going to be difficult, though: she was seeking a position she had contemplated as a national coordinator of volunteers. This person would evaluate the skills and aptitudes of those who wanted to work for the Trump campaign and give them appropriate tasks. Since Mike Pence had a slightly different strategy, Mitzi thought the job may not pan out.
A final question dealt with coordination between the campaigns of Trump and Maryland’s U.S. Senate hopeful Kathy Szeliga, but it morphed into a discussion about credibility since President Bush had used up a lot of his during his term of office. “Trump is cut from a different cloth,” said Perdue. As for the coordination (in particular signage) that may be up to the state and local parties.
It was an interesting talk, more or less aimed at people not sold on Trump – that would be me. Perhaps I will address this at a later date.
As for the meeting, I was pressed into service to give the Central Committee report. So I updated the club on the Board of Education, an upcoming local fundraiser for Kathy Szeliga to be held on August 20, and progress in planning the Lincoln Day Dinner.
Delegate Carl Anderton gave us an update, assessing that “everything is going great,” and that his immediate agenda would be that of trying to get local priorities funded in next year’s budget as he meets with the budget secretary.
Other issues Anderton found important were the impact of the Maryland Department of the Environment and of Obamacare, particularly the “numerous issues” constituents were having if their Obamacare plans lapsed due to non-payment. If it was a choice between that and cable, “stretch the cable bill,” said Anderton. Overall, he believed “the Lower Shore delegation is busting their humps” for us.
Speaking on the Department of Natural Resources, Joe Schanno pointed out two upcoming issues would be Sunday hunting and controlling the deer population because our area was seeing more frequent car vs. deer accidents.
We learned that we would have a GOP headquarters in the same location the Trump headquarters occupied, with the opening in late August – perhaps coordinated with 3rd Friday. Speaking of that event, Shawn Bradley stressed the need for volunteers at the GOP table there.
We “may need more volunteers” for the Crab Feast September 10, added Jim Jester. The club also authorized a package for sponsorships, which will shortly be available along with tickets to the event.
Regarding our two local womens’ Republican groups, Michelle Bradley reminded us the Greater Wicomico Republican Women would next meet August 11 at Adams Taphouse, with Delegate Christopher Adams being the featured speaker. For their part, the Republican Women of Wicomico will come off their summer break with a Brew River lunch meeting on September 7 with county Chair Mark McIver speaking, then have their Constitution Day gathering on the 17th of September, said Ellen Bethel.
Nate Sansom gave us a rundown on the local Teenage Republicans, who will get back together in August and plot out their strategy to work with both the Trump and Szeliga campaigns.
We also heard from Don Murphy, who came to thank the Central Committee for its support in sending him to the convention as a delegate. He noted that he “had never seen as much contention and dissention” at any other convention he had attended as he had seen during the Rules Committee fight. And while he was one of maybe 7 or 8 from Maryland who voted against the rules, he was one of those who did so as a Trump backer. “What Ted Cruz did was wrong,” added Murphy.
Yet as contentious as the GOP gathering was, Murphy believed it was “not even close” to what the Democrats were experiencing. “Hillary is our common enemy,” Don concluded.
So it was a very interesting meeting. The next one is slated for August 22 with a speaker to be determined.
Since I finished part 1 last week, we’ve had a lot of developments in the race: Trump picked outgoing Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate (or did he actually make the selection?) and came up with an awful logo (that lasted one day) to celebrate. Meanwhile, the RNC apparently succeeded in binding their delegates to this dog of a ticket. (My question: how did our Maryland Rules Committee members vote? I believe Nicolee Ambrose, who has fought in that committee before, voted the proper way and against the RNC/Trump minions. Yes, they are shamefully now one and the same.)
Update: Indeed, both Maryland members voted properly, and Nicolee Ambrose is urging members to reject the Majority Rules Report.
So the question may be moot, but I’m going to press on for the record so I can point back at this and say “I told you so.” Not that it will do a whole lot of good, of course, but maybe people will listen to reason in the future. It’s worth a try.
Just as a refresher, the five issues I have left over are taxation, immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, and role of government.
Trump came up with a decent taxation plan during the campaign – maybe not all that I would want, but an improvement. But he later admitted that all of it was up for negotiation, so let me clarify: the rates will not go down for many taxpayers, but the increases that made the package “revenue neutral” in his words will remain. Those on the low end of the scale may get the “I win!” form but the rest of us in the middle will lose, again.
I’m tempted to save immigration for last because that was the first important issue for Trump and the one that propelled him from celebrity sideshow to true contender. Americans, indeed, want something done about the influx of foreigners and a large part of that is building a wall at the border. But it’s not my most important issue and I still run this blog, so it goes in order.
The first crack in the Trump immigration façade for me was the idea of building a “big, beautiful door” in the wall to promote legal immigration. Then I found out Donald was an advocate of what’s called “touchback” immigration, which is a fancy way of saying he’ll give amnesty. And I can see it already: in a “grand deal” to get the wall built, Trump will eliminate the “touchback” part – because it’s oh so hard for these immigrants to be uprooted and return to their homeland – for the promise that a wall will get built. News flash: we were promised this in 2006, but the Democrats (along with a few squishy Republicans) reneged on the deal. We see how Congress acts, and regardless of what Trump may say this is not a promise he would keep. Bank on it.
I know Trump did a sort of catch-all address on foreign policy some months back, but his criticism of the Iraq war (and accusations about soldiers therein) gives me pause. That’s not to say we are always right, but there is a little bit of hindsight he’s taking advantage of here. If Iraq were a thriving nation and American bulwark in the Middle East such as Israel is, I seriously doubt Trump would say word one about it being a bad idea. That’s the sort of person I take him to be.
It’s very possible to lump both entitlements and the role of government into one statement, reportedly made by Trump in New Hampshire back in 2015 and relayed by Andrew Kirell at Mediaite:
The Affordable Care Act, “which is a disaster,” he said, “has to be repealed and replaced.” That line drew applause.
“Whether it is we are going to cut Social Security, because that’s what they are saying,” he continued. “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.”
So will it be fair when the train goes off the tracks and millions of younger Americans are left with nothing? Trump is 70 years old, so (as if he really needed it) if Social Security runs out in 2030 he’ll likely be dead anyway. But I will be 66 years old and hoping to retire at some point, although thanks to the Ponzi scheme of Social Security all that money my employers and I grudgingly gave to the government over forty-plus years will long since be pissed away. And the more I deal with the “Affordable” Care Act, the less affordable I find it. The repeal is fine, but the replace should be with the old system we liked, not some new government intrusion.
In sum, it became apparent to me early on that despite his appeal as an outsider, Donald Trump is far from an advocate of limiting government. If he should win in November, conservative Republicans will likely be in the same precarious position they were often placed in by George W. Bush: it’s difficult to go against a president in your own party even if he goes against party principles.
The Republican Party I signed onto back in 1982 when I first registered to vote in Fulton Township, Ohio was ably represented by Ronald Reagan at the time: strong defense, lower taxes for all Americans, and a moral clarity of purpose that included the concept of American exceptionalism. Yet Reagan also intended to limit government; unfortunately he wasn’t as successful in that aspect because he always worked with a Democrat-controlled House (and usually Senate.) I often wish that Reagan could have worked with the early Gingrich-led House and a conservative Senate – we may have beat back a half-century of New Deal and Great Society policies to provide a great deal for all Americans who wished to pursue the opportunities provided to them.
I don’t know how we got Donald Trump as our nominee, although I suspect the early open primaries (and $2 billion in free media) may have helped. Democrats may have put together their own successful “Operation Chaos” to give Republicans the weakest possible contender. (And if you think that’s a recent concept, I have a confession to make: in my first Presidential primary in 1984 I requested a Democrat ballot so I could vote for Jesse Jackson, who I perceived as the Democrat least likely to beat Ronald Reagan in the general election. Not that I needed to worry.) It’s worth noting that the defeat of “Free the Delegates” also resulted in the defeat of some measures designed to reduce the impact of open primaries.
Alas, the GOP may be stuck with Trump as the nominee. So my message for the national Republican Party from here on out is simple: you broke it, you bought it. The mess is on you and I’m washing my hands of it.
Programming note: Over the next four days – in addition to her regular Tuesday column – I will run a special four-part series sent to me by Marita Noon, but originally written by John Manfreda, who normally writes on the energy sector like Marita does. She ”spent most of the day (last Thursday) updating it, reworking it, and cleaning it up,” so I decided to run it as the four parts intended during the Republican convention.
I intend it as a cautionary tale, so conservatives aren’t fooled by a smooth-talking charlatan ever again. Don’t worry, I have a couple things I’m working on too so I may pop in this week from time to time if I feel so inclined. But I trust Marita and this seems quite relevant and enjoyable, so look for it over the next four afternoons…probably set them to run at noontime (how appropriate, right?)
Today I went Somerset County way to check out two events, one I had planned for awhile and one I had not until yesterday morning.
So at 9:00 this morning I found myself in a restaurant called Peaky’s eating breakfast with a man who wants to be Maryland’s next Senator.
Richard Douglas alerted me to his visit a couple days ago as we have kept in occasional touch since his last run in 2012; a primary that he lost to Dan Bongino. (Douglas still believes Bongino “ran a terrific race,” but Douglas won eleven counties as well.)
In fact, in his remarks Douglas revealed that his second try for the Senate came out of “watching this Iran trainwreck,” an agreement he called “on par with the Munich Agreement” between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain in 1938. Douglas remarked that Iran wasn’t the Westernized nation they try to portray but instead their people ”want to kill Americans and British.” A Senate that approves an agreement with such a nation will tolerate anything, Richard added, noting the Senate is “such (that) it will not heal itself.”
With a significant part of his career being spent in the Senate, Douglas had knowledge of how the game worked, often picking up the volume which contains the Senate rules to make a point. He categorized his era in the Senate as being one with Republicans who had more backbone, such as his old boss Senator Jesse Helms. Regarding his time there, Douglas termed that the one of the “best moments” in the Senate was the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed in 2002. Passed as a bipartisan measure, Douglas wistfully noted that the Democrats were “back on the attack” a year later. Douglas also played up his experience with the Justice Department under President Bush as well as his service in the Navy during the Cold War.
Another of Richard’s passionate subjects is Cuba, as he predicted the island nation will open up – just not under the Castro regime. He also predicted that Barack Obama would make some lame duck pardons of several American criminals seeking refuge in Cuba, particularly cop-killer Joanne Chesimard. But opening up Cuba now in the way Obama has is already costing Americans their jobs, as Douglas cited an Alabama company which will move some operations there. “The Senate let it happen,” said Douglas.
In Richard’s opinion, a good Senator needed three things: discernment, a knowledge of procedure, and backbone. “If you’re missing backbone, the other two don’t matter,” said Richard. He continued the point by saying he was willing to deny unanimous consent if he judged a bill or amendment would be bad for Maryland or for the nation at large. “Alarm bells go off” when that happens, said Douglas, and leadership doesn’t like it. Senators “hate to vote,” said Douglas, because they’re put on the record.
Unfortunately, the Senate he’s trying to enter is one that enacted the Obama agenda instead of stopping it as promised. “They’re afraid of looking obstructionist,” said Douglas, “Instead, they look weak.” He would “take issues hostage” because it only takes one Senator to stop the train and start the bargaining.
Most of what Douglas said in his remarks dealt with procedure and foreign policy, but he made sure to mention that there are thousands of voters who don’t care about that because they are struggling economically. It’s “a problem on par with national security,” said Richard, and he stressed that he wanted to work with Governor Hogan to create an economic environment more like that of South Carolina, Georgia, or Texas. In visiting minority neighborhoods, Douglas revealed that “lots of African-American voters” were ready to vote Republican, in part due to Donald Trump. But Douglas called both Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards “eminently beatable.”
There were a number of questions laid out for Douglas, with one being just how far he would take the withholding of unanimous consent when it could cost the state on another bill. That aspect was “part of the calculus,” said Richard, but he vowed to “help when I can and resist when I must.”
Regarding illegal immigration, Douglas said the current laws were fine, just not being enforced. One area of concern for Richard was work permits, and he vowed to “put American workers first again,” trying to tilt the playing field back in our favor. Related to that was the refugee issue, on which Douglas pointed out America was once the “loudest voice” for refugees until Obama destroyed our credibility.
One thing that Douglas noted with regard to the Second Amendment was that Maryland has a “gap” in their state constitution. (He was referring to Article 28: “That a well regulated Militia is the proper and natural defence of a free Government.” It does not give Marylanders the right to bear arms.) But he thought firearms should be in the hands of law-abiding citizens and they shouldn’t face hurdles such as the fee prescribed by the state to secure a handgun permit.
To sum up, while Douglas believes “a weak Senate is bad for America” and has insider knowledge, he does not consider himself an insider. His insider knowledge would be used “for the good of the state.”
I should also note that the Somerset County Republicans have a monthly straw poll and this month Ted Cruz emerged the big winner with 14 votes of 22 cast. John Kasich received 6 and Donald Trump just 2. (More on him in a few paragraphs.) If I read their chart correctly, Cruz and Trump were tied last month but now fortunes have shifted dramatically. (As a caveat, the sample fluctuates each month, I’m sure. For example, they had me as an “extra” Cruz vote this month.)
As a housekeeping note and favor to those who may wish to enjoy breakfast with the Somerset County club (it was quite good), they voted to not have their meeting May 14 because it conflicts with the state GOP convention and several Central Committee members would be absent.
Those absent people must have also planned to show up at the event I was set on attending in the first place. Not a single Somerset County voter came out to Congressional challenger Michael Smigiel’s townhall meeting held at the library in Princess Anne. As a concerned voter who honestly hasn’t made up my mind in the race, it was great to have a 40-minute or so conversation with Mike, but as a blogger it was not very good because carrying on a conversation keeps you from taking notes and I didn’t bring a recorder. So I won’t be chock full of quotes here, and you can take the lack of attendance as you will – of all the counties in the First District, Somerset has the second-smallest number of Republicans. (Kent County, the second leg of Smigiel’s town hall tour today and the last of Smigiel’s planned twelve county stops overall, is the smallest by about 300 voters – both are shy of 5,000. But Smigiel comes from neighboring Cecil County.)
I was given two new pieces of literature today. While both make their good points about Smigiel, the message on the palm card is that “Harris Sold Us Out,” with the flyer adding “Harris Promised All The Right Things And Did All The Wrong Things.” Obviously those with long memories may recall that Harris ran a similar campaign against Wayne Gilchrest to secure the GOP Congressional nomination in 2008, and Smigiel uses some of that literature on his flyer. When I asked him whether he was basing his campaign on one vote Harris took (the CRomnibus bill of 2014) he replied it was more like eight.
A couple other contentions I made regarded Harris’s role in building the party as well as his seniority in Congress. It’s no secret that several local candidates were recipients of Harris money – you can call it buying support, but I would argue that the Congressman was out to build a conservative farm team in this part of the state. Smigiel countered that Harris was also the recipient of money from Exelon, which led to a Harris vote allowing the federal government the authority to override Maryland’s demand for a water quality permit for the Conowingo Dam. Mike also intoned that Somerset residents were unhappy with Harris for a vote against Hurricane Sandy cleanup funds, which is the linchpin for Jim Ireton’s Democratic campaign.
And I didn’t even bring up the Harris votes for Speaker with the former Delegate.
Overall, I felt bad for Mike that no one else showed up. Compare this with his stop in Salisbury that Cathy Keim covered for me while I was away, which had a fair number of people.
The question for all of us regarding this race is simple: Andy Harris is not a perfect Congressman, but then it’s possible no one would be. Is Mike Smigiel running a campaign to convince voters he would be a better alternative? I really didn’t get an answer to that question within our conversation, but it will come as a judgment call for me based on something Richard Douglas said: who has the better backbone to stand up for the people and do what’s right, not just for the First District, but America as a whole?
Someone who’s not convinced me he will do what’s right for America has nevertheless secured a headquarters here.
Yes, the Trump headquarters is at 229 East Main Street here in Salisbury, the former location of a print shop. They’ll be here for less than a month, as I’m told they have the space for a 30-day period. So the question is just what they will be doing in the building and how many people will stop by (it’s not on the beaten path and downtown parking can be a challenge during the day, when you have to feed a meter.) I suspect there may be some volunteers making phone calls from there and perhaps staging a later appearance from The Donald himself locally. That would be a hoot.
But I’ll stick with the choice of the Somerset County Republicans – #TrusTED Cruz.
Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to get a reading on who I would like to be my Senator from the great state of Maryland. (Spoiler alert: Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen ain’t going to cut it.) It’s been a process of trying to get questions answered, checking websites, and watching some of the debates in order to figure out who the best candidate for me would be.
There are 14 Republicans running for the Senate seat, a number which is unusually high. (In previous cycles, it was closer to 10 candidates.) Of course, with that many candidates in a statewide race it becomes apparent early on who has the most legitimate shot at winning. Granted, this has been helped somewhat by media perception, such as which hopefuls are invited to debates, but realistically only about half of those 14 candidates have any real shot – the rest are just ballot filler. In fact, when I asked the questions of candidates only 12 of the 14 had good e-mails, and two of those 12 have no website insofar as I can tell. (Another has a website with just a front page and no functionality). Sadly, the pair without websites are two of those who answered my questions – but the larger question is how you can beat someone who has $3.6 million in the bank like Chris Van Hollen does? You need money to get your message out.
By the time you separate the wheat from the chaff you get about a half-dozen somewhat serious candidates, with a couple on a lower tier that are running campaigns more suited to a Congressional level. Greg Holmes is one, with another being Anthony Seda, who has pointed out he’s not accepting contributions. Noble, but suicidal in the real world of politics. Let me repeat: you need money to get your message out.
So in my estimation, the race comes down to five: Richard Douglas, Joe Hooe, Chrys Kefalas, Kathy Szeliga, and Dave Wallace. In the last debate I watched there were only three participants as Hooe and Wallace were not invited. Another debate featured all but Wallace, while the Goucher College debate had Holmes, Hooe, and Wallace along with Douglas and Kefalas (Szeliga skipped this debate for a Maryland GOP event.)
So here is how I would categorize the contenders, in alphabetical order.
Richard Douglas is the only one of the five to have run a statewide campaign before, but I’m not seeing that pointed out as an advantage. He also has the benefit of experience working in the Senate, but in this topsy-turvy electoral year he’s forced to run more as an outsider because that’s the political mood. His campaign to me has been an intriguing concoction of a hawkish foreign policy combined with a populist economic outlook. He’s one of only two of the five who has answered my list of questions, and as one would expect I found his answers to be strongest on foreign policy, immigration, and to some extent the role of government. (I also know Richard has religious freedom bona fides.)
In 2012 when Richard ran for Senate and lost to Dan Bongino, I noted he would have been my 1A candidate after Bongino, who I endorsed. I would have been as comfortable with him winning as the eventual nominee, and at this point he’s done nothing to change that assessment given this field. Still, he speaks the language of an insider and that may hurt him.
Joe Hooe has made his key issue that of immigration, advocating for a paid guest worker program he claims will raise $80 billion. He claims it will make taxpayers out of illegal aliens, but my question is whether we could track such a program when we have no clue how many people are in the country illegally because they crossed the border and how many are illegal because they overstayed their visa. And if they refuse to pay to work, how will we enforce this new fee? If they are here illegally, then I doubt they’re suddenly going to have a “come to Jesus” moment and decide to follow a law that will cost them $1,000.
One thing I do like about Hooe is his advocacy for apprenticeship programs, but to me that is more of a state concern than a federal concern. Perhaps it’s the aspect of having to be elected by the people (which was not the original intent of the Founding Fathers) but I think all of these candidates conflate the roles of the federal and state governments to some degree. Education is one of many areas where there should be no government role.
Chrys Kefalas has a background that I think would serve him well, particularly since he’s involved with the manufacturing field. He does well on trade and job creation, but my question is whether he would be anything different than what we have now concerning the social issues leg of the Reaganesque three-legged conservative stool. Surely he (and some others) argue that Maryland has settled on its position regarding social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, but that doesn’t mean we should stop working toward Judeo-Christian values where life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one woman. It’s not quite enough to keep me from voting for Chrys on a general election ballot but many thousands of voters realize a two-legged stool doesn’t work.
Maryland Republicans run into trouble when they try to out-liberal the Democrats on certain issues: if you’re a voter who’s going to vote based on the belief that the unborn is just a blob of tissue and no harm comes to society when anyone can marry anyone else they want – and why stop at one, right? – it’s not likely they’re going to be conservative everywhere else. Meanwhile, you just dispirit the percentage of GOP voters who have that passion for Judeo-Christian values. “I’m only voting for President,” they’ll say. It can be argued that Larry Hogan’s victory was an example of putting social issues on the back burner, but aside from Hogan getting the benefit of a depressed liberal Democrat turnout in 2014, ignoring social issues doesn’t play as well on a national race.
Kathy Szeliga is the “establishment” candidate trying desperately to portray herself as an everyday outsider. With the vast majority of Maryland’s General Assembly Republicans favoring her – mainly because she’s served as a Delegate for six years – she also has received the most attention and support in the race. Using my monoblogue Accountability Project as a guide, her lifetime score of 83 would put her in the upper third of those who have served with her over the years, although her score was more mediocre in 2015 (a 72 rating.) She’s also served as one of the faces of General Assembly Republicans - witness this video, one of a string she has done with fellow Delegate Susan Aumann:
Having said all that, there are two main things that disturb me about Szeliga’s campaign. For one, she has no “issues” page on her website, and I always subscribe to the theory that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. (The same is true for Kefalas.) However, she is reasonably good about answering questions and participating in debates.
But on that point you can tell she is a professional politician. Most of Kathy’s answers seem to be empty platitudes about her life and experiences being a mom, business owner, etc. rather than substantive discussions of the issue at hand. (On the other hand, Richard Douglas has a tendency to talk over the level of the average voter.) Not to be patronizing, but I suspect someone is telling Kathy women voters who would normally be afraid to vote Republican need to be addressed in a non-threatening way – never mind the Democrat who survives the primary will try and paint Szeliga (or any of the others, including the more socially moderate Kefalas) as a stereotypical Republican anyhow.
Dave Wallace, out of the five candidates, seems to be the most conservative. Having read a lengthy treatise of his, most of what he has to say makes sense on a policy level and for that reason I’m leaning his way at this point.
Yet having said that, we also know that Dave lost to a likely opponent by 22 points in a district which is, admittedly based on registration, a D+23 district as it currently stands. In that respect, though, it’s not as bad as the state at large (which is D+32.) We have seen this movie before: Dan Bongino lost by 30 in a 3-way race in 2012, Eric Wargotz by 26 in 2010, Michael Steele by 10 in 2006, E.J. Pipkin by 31 points in 2004, and so forth. I really don’t want a 30-point loss again; unfortunately, too many Maryland voters are stubborn like a mule in voting against their self-interest. (If they “got it,” the most conservative candidate would always win.)
Dave seems like a nice guy and a policy wonk, which I like. But the question is whether he can be a bulldog and attack the Democratic candidate for the failure of the last seven years.
This may not necessarily apply to Dave, although I’m using his space, but I don’t like talk about bipartisanship from any Republican hopeful because Democrats at a national level will nearly always take the hand you reach out to them with, twist your arm off, and proceed to beat you with it. Anyone remember “read my lips?” One of the reasons the bulk of Republicans are fed up with the political system is the lack of intestinal fortitude they see from the politicians they sent to Washington with the message “it’s always been done this way” is not cutting it anymore.
When the TEA Party wave in 2010 put the GOP back in charge of the House, the excuse was “we only control one half of one-third of the government.” Indeed, a do-nothing Senate was a problem. But when the do-nothing Senate was flipped to Republican control in 2014, we still heard excuses about why we couldn’t get anything done. If you want a reason for the rise of Donald Trump, you don’t need to look much further. (Never mind Trump’s not conservative and the bulk of his policy statements have the depth of a cookie sheet. He talks tough.)
If I were to rank my choices in this horserace at the moment, it would go Wallace and Douglas fairly close going into the final turn, with Kefalas a neck ahead of Szeliga for third on the outside and Hooe bringing up the rear. (The rest are chewing hay in the infield.) As it stands now, I will make my endorsement the second Sunday before the primary (April 17.)
In the coming days I will rank the three contenders for the First District Congressional seat. [Yes, there are four Republicans on the ballot but Jonathan Goff is such a strong Trump supporter that he is disqualified. (#NeverTrump strikes again.)] That race is a little different because the incumbent is a Republican so the question becomes whether we want a more straight-ahead conservative or someone who has the reputation of being more liberty-minded? I’ll do some research and hear from one of the three candidates in person in the coming days to help me decide.
Update: Want more? Here you go.
It was double-barreled action at last night’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, perhaps appropriate because one of the speakers was Second Amendment advocate and Congressional hopeful Mike Smigiel. He was joined by a fellow challenger seeking the open United States Senate seat from Maryland, Dave Wallace.
Because we had out-of-town speakers, we quickly went through the usual business of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introducing the elected officials and distinguished guests among us. I noted the February minutes were online, and treasurer-elect Muir Boda gave us a financial update.
Because Wallace was the first to arrive, he spoke first.
As an opening statement, Wallace vowed to represent all of Maryland “for the first time in 30 years.” He pointed out that “we’ve been going (in) the wrong direction,” so it was time to “alter our course until you get it just right.” Instead of the government’s favored cure of increasing taxes and regulations, Wallace advocated for what he termed a “maximum wage” that government can’t supply.
Wallace spoke at length about the Reagan years in his remarks, adding that he knew a number of his associates and opining in response to a question that we “needed a Jack Kemp model” for a Senator. He contrasted himself with prospective opponent Chris Van Hollen, who Wallace challenged for Congress in 2014, calling Van Hollen the “superfailure” of the supercommittee that, among other things, cut the defense budget. Echoing Reagan on the topic, Dave noted he believed in peace through strength.
Yet one topic Wallace expounded more at length on was a subject where I think Reagan erred, immigration. Dave stated his belief that the situation at the border now contributed to the drug problem; moreover, Wallace stated that up to 15% of the Syrian refugees were embedded by ISIS, and added that on his website was a petition calling on Congress to confront the refugee problem. If immigration wasn’t dealt with, said Wallace, we’ll end up with an America where we won’t want to raise our kids – this was a problem of culture and values.
On topics brought up by the audience, Wallace established his limited-government argument with a call to reduce the federal involvement in education, vowing to eliminate the Department of Education and saying “Common Core has got to go.” He thought that it’s not the role of the federal government to enforce the rules of education, but rightfully was that of the states. Additionally, rather than the “apple” that represents the preferred politicians of the teachers’ unions, Wallace believed candidates on the conservative side should use a school bus as their logo.
Shifting gears to the oversight responsibility of Congress, Wallace chided the body for not doing that job. He called for the heads of all 180 welfare programs to be brought before Congress to justify their programs’ existence.
Wallace concluded that Maryland needs someone in the Senate who will partner with Larry Hogan, and rather than the supply-side economics associated with Reagan conservatism Wallace envisioned a model based on production and ability to work that would lift our economy.
Later, when the conversation turned to a bill regarding forced unionization in Maryland, Dave added that he supported a federal right-to-work bill and would sponsor it in the next Congress. Dave believed that in right-to-work states, “unions were more concerned and responsive.”
The winner of an award for “upholding the Constitution,” Mike Smigiel spent 12 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, including the creation of the TEA Party Caucus. In his last four, Smigiel remarked, he shared office space and a desk in the chamber with local Delegate Mike McDermott, with whom he made “a pretty strong team.”
Yet the reason Smigiel sought the Congressional seat was his disgust with the voting record of the incumbent. Calling it a vote for funding Obamacare, executive amnesty, and abortion, Mike blasted the Republican leadership and Andy Harris for supporting the CRomnibus bill in 2014. He remarked that Democrats don’t settle or think they can’t accomplish their goals, but Republicans in Congress give up their principles far too easily.
Other bills that Smigiel hammered Harris about were an in-state tuition for illegal immigrants bill both voted on in the Maryland General Assembly as well as a bill regarding country of origin labeling – Harris backed a bill that allowed companies to not label for country of origin, about which Smigiel asked if you wouldn’t like to know if your chicken you thought was locally produced was instead imported from China.
(While the bill seems to be anti-consumer, it is worth noting that it is a response to a WTO complaint from Canada.)
Other Harris measures that angered Smigiel was a bill which he alleged became part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and Harris’s support of a bill opposed by state regulators who want Exelon Energy to meet certain conditions before their permit to operate the Conowingo Dam is renewed for over 40 years.
On the other hand, during the eight years of the O’Malley administration Mike sued them three times for actions he considered unconstitutional. In one case regarding a $1.5 billion budget item, the state court ruled against him quickly but took five years to render their formal opinion because the “question is too political.” When it comes to matters such as these, “you stand on principle and you fight,” said Smigiel.
Those principles are embodied in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, copies of which Smigiel passed out before he began speaking. But Congress was seeing its authority usurped by “a potentate President,” added Mike, who said he would be the guy to shout out “you lie!” His principle was that of “the Constitution first, always.” We needed to have the government run in accordance with the Constitution; to that end, Smigiel advocated for single-subject bills that would make legislating easier to understand.
I asked him a question which addressed a tactic the presumptive Democratic nominee for the seat, Jim Ireton, was using of painting Harris as a do-nothing Congressman. Smigiel reminded us that he had worked across the aisle with Heather Mizeur on a pre-natal care bill that got mothers care they needed while saving thousands of abortions, as well as decriminalization of marijuana legislation.
That ended the speaking portion of the program, although both Wallace and Smigiel stuck around to talk with the voters once we finished our business.
In his Central Committee report, Mark McIver announced we were still seeking applicants for the Board of Education seats opening up later this summer. He also distributed a proof copy of a mailing to be sent out to unaffiliated and certain Democrat voters reminding them that they can still change their voter registration until April 5th. The mailing is a joint effort between the Central Committee and Republican Club.
Updating us on the Ted Cruz campaign, Julie Brewington assessed that “things are going pretty well.” They are looking for volunteers to make phone calls as well as some local sign locations. Dave Wallace chimed in to say he was also looking for the same thing locally. He had brought a few yard signs and shirts as well.
(Unfortunately, the ones on the bottom left didn’t end up in the garbage. #NeverTrump.)
Shelli Neal, who was speaking for Jackie Wellfonder on behalf of Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga, announced they would be knocking on doors soon.
In club news, Woody Willing announced our scholarship winners had been selected and would be introduced next month. Jim Jester told us that he would be coordinating this year’s Crab Feast, for which we needed to nail down the date and location.
Finally. John Palmer from the Board of Education revealed that Dr. Donna Hanlon would be the new Wicomico County superintendent of schools. and one of her first challenges would be redistricting.
So the candidates said their piece, the audience got their questions in, and we will roll along up to next month’s meeting on April 25 with a speaker to be determined. Chances are this will be our legislative wrapup meeting.
By Cathy Keim
Editor’s note: This piece began life as a comment to the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog which eventually became a post there. Cathy has taken this opportunity to revise and extend her remarks, adding it to her occasional series on immigration.
The (slightly reworked) title comes from Refugee Resettlement Watch‘s Ann Corcoran.
When I talk to people about the hit that American citizens are taking by companies hiring immigrants, both legal and illegal, they always come back with the statement that the American citizens do not want to work, have a poor work ethic, are not dependable, etc. My guess is that this might well be the case because we have paid people to not work, making it an option with no stigma attached.
In the past, it was terrible to be on welfare or unemployment. Remember the movie “Cinderella Man”? The lead character, heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock, returned to the government office and paid back the welfare money when he could finally earn enough money to feed his family. That was during the Great Depression less than one hundred years ago.
My fear is that the government has done such a good job of destroying the working class family by introducing welfare which required that the man not be in the household that we now have a deeply embedded culture of single parent families, drifting children, and no concept of a work ethic. The result is employers using the lack of work ethic as an excuse to not hire Americans, but to go for hard-working foreigners.
Remember that the employers have tax benefits involved in hiring foreigners. Also, the foreigners cannot argue with the employer because if they lose their job, then they must go home if they are here on the H-1B or H-2B visas. If they are illegal, they have no recourse. This makes for a diligent, compliant workforce.
The employer doesn’t have to pay higher wages, so the taxpayer picks up the additional social costs due to low-paying jobs. The schools have to educate in many languages, the hospital ER takes care of the sick, and subsidized housing is swamped. The costs of absorbing huge numbers of foreign workers are not small.
When a school system has to hire scores of ESL teachers to handle the influx of non-English speaking children, the taxpayer is paying for that. When the hospital has to hire translators to be able to understand their patients, then the citizen absorbs that cost. When the city zoning codes are overwhelmed with twenty or more unrelated people living in a house, then the neighborhood suffers. When remittances are sent back to the homeland to the tune of millions of dollars, then our economy suffers.
When Mexico and other countries send us their poorest, they remove the pressure to improve their own society by exporting their problems to us.
In addition to all of these problems, the local community suffers the double hit of paying unemployment/welfare to their own citizens and all the social costs associated with reducing people to a dependent class.
The employer pockets the extra earnings gained by paying lower wages and collecting tax benefits. In the case of hiring refugees, the employer gets to feel good about himself for helping people fleeing oppression. Perhaps some of our employers should try to feel good about helping fellow Americans have a job that will enable them to break out of the cycle of dependence.
We can thank our elites in DC for the many bad decisions that have led to this disaster that has taken several generations to reach its current epic proportions. A final blow is that the lack of worth that comes with being a non-working dependent class leads to additional social problems.
My hypothesis is that the current heroin epidemic that the government is trying to stem can be linked back to the broken family and jobless lifestyle of our formerly working-class citizens. I know that heroin is ravaging children from all classes, but it is particularly bad on the people that have no hope and see no way out.
Being hungry is a powerful motivator to work. Our Pilgrim forefathers tried to use the community approach when they first arrived in the New World. They almost starved. Once they switched to each family having their own land and raising their own crops, they were much more successful.
I realize that the switch to using our own citizens to work instead of being unemployed would be a painful transition for the employers and the employed. The government would have to remove itself from the process and let people in the local community work this out.
The minimum wage laws forced upon us by the government reduce the entry-level jobs that teenagers once used to learn how to work. In fact, we are going to lose more fast food entry-level jobs as the industry moves to automated ordering to bypass the minimum wage laws.
The H-2B visa workers have reduced the summer jobs for our teens. Something as simple as starting school after Labor Day weekend could enable more teens to fill the summer job needs of the tourist industry.
We have sedentary teens that could use some lawn work to build muscle and slim down. Instead, we import foreigners to cut grass.
The short-term benefits are obviously working as we increase our visa limits and bring in more refugees, despite not being able to vet them for safety issues. But what are the long term issues?
We should be preaching the joys of independence, not depending on the government to support us. We should be encouraging our youth to work hard rather than think that college is going to provide a cushy job. That expensive degree is more likely to be a weight around their neck due to the loans they took out than to help them have access to a good job.
The need for limited government intervention is never more obvious than in our current skewed employment numbers. Crony capitalism is not free enterprise. The UN choosing refugees for us and big business depending on cheap labor that is essentially a new form of indentured servitude is not what America needs.
The easy fix of importing cheap labor may seem like a good idea, but the price we are paying as a nation is not cheap and not easy. It is time for a moratorium on immigration across the board while we sort out these issues.
A fascinating study from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) came across my e-mail the other day.
We all know there has been a massive influx of immigrants (both legal and illegal) in recent decades, but the numbers CIS reports are astounding: approximately 61 million immigrants and their young American-born children now live in the United States. Of that group, 45 million are legal immigrants and their children.
CIS took the data set back to 1970 to find that the share of immigrants and their children in this country has increased from 13 million to 61 million in that timeframe. As a percentage of population, this group has surged from 6.6% to 18.9%, although you may notice CIS concedes there may be an undercount in the number of immigrants.
While CIS has valid reasoning to exclude more recent census counts (because they did not ask about place of birth), 1970 is also a good demarcation line because it came shortly after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 went into effect. Prior to that, immigration had been limited for four decades so the 1970 census was the nadir for immigrants’ share of the population.
A key cultural difference, however, seems to permeate the most recent wave of immigration. My ancestors came over in the late 19th century, along with millions of others, in order to better their lives with the opportunities America provided for them. But they also chose to be part of a “melting pot” where, if the initial immigrants didn’t assimilate, their children were eager to conform with American culture.
Now we have more of what is described as a “salad bowl” mentality where we are supposed to honor whatever culture comes along - good, bad, or indifferent. This more recent wave of immigrants, at least anecdotally, is content to live as they did in the old country and raise their children as foreigners. Granted, American culture still has its pull but as time goes on we seem to be losing that which makes us exceptional.
CIS asks a number of valid questions:
While the national debate has focused on illegal immigration, the enormous impact of immigration is largely the result of those brought in legally. These numbers raise profound questions that are seldom asked: What number of immigrants can be assimilated? What is the absorption capacity of our nation’s schools, health care system, infrastructure, and, perhaps most importantly, its labor market? What is the impact on the environment and quality of life from significantly increasing the nation’s population size and density? With some 45 million legal immigrants and their young children already here, should we continue to admit a million new legal permanent immigrants every year?
It’s a series of questions that can’t just be answered with a wall, whether Mexico pays for it or not. Border security can be part of the solution, but 40% to 50% of the illegal immigrants had permission to be here initially – they chose to overstay their visas. That’s a challenge a wall won’t address.
My cohort Cathy Keim proposed a pause on immigration last year, which would address some of the problem. Although her point was more with bringing a halt to Syrian refugees and accepting student visas from particular nations, hopefully the mess that is the current system will be among the first things addressed by a new administration.
America is, as always, a welcoming nation. But it’s up to those who come here not to wear out their welcome by insisting that things be just like where they came from – otherwise, what was the point in coming here?
By Cathy Keim
Editor’s note: Since I had my say on Trump yesterday Cathy decided to follow up.
I think that a lot of people are missing a primary reason many voters are flocking to Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. They’re concerned about immigration, but not just illegal immigration as in Mexicans and Central Americans flooding our southern border. They also seek answers on legal immigration.
Our country has been bringing in immigrants legally in huge numbers from primarily Muslim countries for years. There are 57 Muslim states in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but every time there is a clash and Muslims “need” to be resettled, they are directed not to another OIC country where they could be expected to fit in more easily, but to the West, and by the largest numbers to America.
I have written on the Refugee Resettlement program and its problems, highlighted most recently by the Syrian refugee issues, but that is only one of the vast array of immigration vehicles that our government has been using to flood our country with Muslim immigrants. There are student visas, work visas, tourist visas and the lottery system.
The USA does not have an exit visa tracking system. Once the immigrants arrive, even if it is supposedly only for a ninety-day tourist visit or as a student, no one ever checks to see if they leave!
According to this Breitbart summary of a report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS):
Overall, the report notes, immigrants made up 13.3 percent of the population in the U.S. in 2014, the highest percentage in more than a century. CIS compared that level to immigrants’ 6.2 percent share of the population in 1980. The Census Bureau projects that the immigrant share of the population will reach its highest level in history in 2023, at 14.8 percent and continue to increase through 2060 if current admissions levels continue.
As of 2010, the countries of origin with the highest percentage increase in the number of immigrants in the U.S. were Saudi Arabia, which saw an increase of 93 percent. Bangladeshi immigrants increased 37 percent, Iraqi increased 36 percent, Egypt was up 25 percent and Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia all increased by 24 percent.
The immigrant population is over 42.4 million people out of about 322 million Americans according to best estimates. People are seeing this in their local communities and their schools. Americans are not xenophobic or racists, but they are concerned about the changing landscape around them. The social costs of bringing in so many people so rapidly are staggering.
Many of these immigrants are from Third World countries and are not equipped to function in a modern society. The stress that this causes for the immigrant families and for the community where they live is enormous. Instead of honestly looking at the problems associated with the rapid rate of immigration without time or effort to assimilate them, the elites just label anyone who questions the influx as racist.
Further, most of the immigrants are from countries that have big government and would be heavily inclined to vote for more of the same. This fact makes them an attractive demographic for the Democrats who are building their bloc of “safe” votes while preening publicly as the “nice people” who are concerned for the downtrodden.
The Republicans are no less guilty in keeping the numbers up as they bring in cheap labor, but they are less insightful as they are undermining their own voting base. They are not called the Stupid Party for nothing.
So where does Donald Trump come in?
For all his shrill rhetoric, I have no idea whether Donald Trump will actually do anything about legal or illegal immigration because I have no confidence that anybody can be sure what he will do if elected. He is not running on principles, but on his fame as a celebrity. However, he is the only candidate to bring up the immigration issue initially. If he had not done so, then it would not have been the topic of discussion that it has been.
Trump has addressed directly the problem of Muslim immigration:
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.
I believe that this is the primary reason that many of his supporters are going to stick with him no matter how many reckless or crude statements he makes. If you understand the concept of civilizational jihad by hijra, then you just may decide the Donald is worth taking a risk on since he is the only one that is willing to touch the problem.
Monica Crowley writes:
Hijra is a core part of jihad going back to the Prophet Muhammad that involves Islamic conquest through migration. The objective is to overwhelm non-Muslim territories with Muslim populations until they achieve domination through sheer numbers. No weapons necessary — until they gain enough control.
She continues regarding the flood of people arriving in Europe:
Let’s be clear: Some of them may be fleeing war and persecution, but most are not. In fact, only about 10 percent of the new arrivals are from Syria; the other 90 percent are from elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Pakistan and Indonesia who are using the European Union’s open doors-open borders policy to reach the West for social welfare and the longer-term goal of spreading Islam.
The USA has been bringing in floods of people from Muslim countries with no thought to the practice of hijra. Instead of restricting Muslim immigration after 9/11, we have opened the floodgates.
Many thoughtful people see this as cultural suicide and they are willing to risk the Donald to stop this from happening. I acknowledge that this is not the only reason people are supporting Trump, but it is the reason why some exceedingly thoughtful, intelligent people are choosing him.
Next time you speak to a politician about immigration do not let them get away with the meme: Illegal immigration bad/legal immigration good. This is a cheap and easy way to dodge the difficult issues that face our country. Our leaders need to get serious about the problems that are before us and are growing larger with each new immigrant that arrives, whether Muslim or not. If they are not coming here because they want to share in the ideas that made us Americans, then perhaps they should not come.
If immigrants want to come for civilizational jihad or for our generous welfare benefits, then why should we allow that? America is a great country because of the ideas that it was founded upon: Liberty and freedom as God-given rights. We cannot continue to be America if we do not embrace these principles. A desire for big government benefits or for sharia law are not consistent with our Constitution.
Alas, that is why we are in trouble, not just with a potential Trump presidency, but also because half of our population is considering a full-blown socialist candidate in Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton due to their desire for big government.
But that will have to be dealt with in another post.
Last night I wrote a lengthy piece for the Patriot Post that served as a preview for tomorrow’s South Carolina primary but also speculated a little bit about what could happen if Donald Trump was the GOP nominee. (Go on and read it, I’ll wait.)
All set? Let’s look at a couple things here.
First of all, just on a personal level, I’m getting about as tired of Donald Trump as I am of Barack Obama – and Obama’s been in office seven-plus years, plus a year or so of campaigning beforehand. Let’s consider the arguable point that Trump is conservative on immigration – you do know he has what’s considered a “touchback” policy for illegal aliens, right? As Mark Thiessen wrote last September:
So if you get past Trump’s bluster, the plan he is proposing is so liberal that it earned the support of the New York Times and the opposition of National Review.
The reason is simple: Trump’s plan is in fact a form of amnesty — you just have to leave the country briefly to get it.
So when Trump says of illegal immigrants “they all have to go,” don’t forget that under his plan almost all would be able to immediately return.
That must be the “big, beautiful door” in Trump’s Mexican Maginot Line. (Look back in history to see how the original fared.) I think I’m just worn out on how Trump can talk out of both sides of his mouth, so one truly has to ask if that’s the best the Republicans have to offer?
On the other hand, a few weeks back I assisted four voters in switching their party registration to Republican, presumably to vote for Trump. One later said she would switch back to Democrat after the primary, but also said “I vote for the best man for the job.” (If so, she should have been Republican all along. But I digress.)
Trump seems to be expanding the Republican base, though. Turnout for the Iowa Republican caucus smashed the old record, and also exceeded expectations in New Hampshire. South Carolina is expected to follow suit. So it appears Trump may be expanding the tent for the Republican Party – but what kind of platform will this GOP have? Writing at The Resurgent, Bill Blankschaen compares Trump’s campaign to a WWE pay-per-view event, and I don’t think Bill is too far off. I will grant Trump doesn’t have a record of political accomplishments because he’s never held public office, but there are few issues where he has expressed a conservative direction. Ronald Reagan he’s not.
When I send my articles in to Nate, my Patriot Post editor, I often have a sentence or two I add just as a personal sentiment about what I wrote. On this one I said:
I tell you, I wasn’t a big Mitt Romney fan and I had to pinch my nose really tight to vote for John McCain. (Really, I voted for Sarah Palin and a timely demise from McCain.) But if Trump wins, you may not be able to find a clothespin tight enough for my nose.
With unfavorable ratings north of 50 percent for The Donald, I would guess I’m not the only one who feels this way. So I think it’s time for some of the pretenders to step aside and put their weight behind someone to be the anti-Trump and keep the Republican Party as the conservative vehicle. It may not run well and definitely needs a tuneup, but in the political arena the GOP is all we have to win with.