WCRC meeting – February 2016

This time we meant it. After having a last-minute meeting called last month, a little planning made this month’s meeting go a long way. It got off to an unusual beginning as the Jaycees meeting in the next room joined us for the Pledge of Allegiance before we went solo on the Lord’s Prayer. (Usually we do this in reverse – as a former WCRC president once said, God before country. I think that it was the late George Ossman who introduced that tradition.)

The meeting was jam-packed with information because we had two speakers. It was suggested to us that we have Anthony Gutierrez from the Board of Elections in to go over the new paper-ballot voting machines we will be using, so he led off the evening with a pair of short videos explaining how they will work. For early voting there will be one ADA unit (which is slightly enhanced for those who are physically impaired but can be used by anyone) and two optical scanner units. Filling out a paper ballot is like filling out the standardized tests you had in school except you fill the circle in with an ink pen.

There were a few other election notes he passed along, including the fact that over 10,000 Wicomico voters will not be participating in April’s primary because they are unaffiliated. (This is out of about 58,000 total.) Gutierrez noted as well that the last Presidential primary with no incumbent (2008) had 48.9% for a February primary, but he predicted April’s turnout would be more like 35-40%. There will be five separate races on the ballot, he added: President, U.S. Senate, Congressional representative, and delegates/alternate delegates to the national convention. Voters will be sent their specimen ballots the Monday before early voting begins.

Mark McIver of the Central Committee asked whether more election judges were needed, and Gutierrez said they were fine for the primary. But he encouraged those interested to apply anyway for November and to be backups in case they have a need in April. Compensation for the day is $250.

Another question about same-day registration came up, and Anthony replied that it would be effective only for early voting. Some voters who had MVA information in the system would be “precleared,” he added.

I asked if the new machines would result in delays, but Gutierrez noted from the experience he had with observing these machines in other elections that the process was actually faster. They would use the primary to make adjustments for the larger turnout in November, he added.

Once Gutierrez wrapped up, our other featured speaker began. Having served as the co-chair of the Redistricting Reform Commission (RRC), Walter Olson came to speak about Maryland’s gerrymandering and the commission set up to suggest improved voting districts. Legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting body was introduced earlier this session, with hearings next week in both the House and Senate.

“I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around.” Those weren’t the words of Walter Olson; it’s a quote from the most recent State of the Union speech Barack Obama delivered. He also made the point in Illinois during a recent appearance there, said Olson. Moreover, 70 percent of Maryland residents would prefer an independent commission, which is fitting: since North Carolina’s gerrymandering (considered the worst in the country) was struck down in court, the new number one worst was the great state of Maryland.

With the recalcitrant Democrats being placed in an uncomfortable position of being against both their president and the voting public – as Olson pointed out, “they’re not happy with what we’re doing” – their only response was to complain that five hearings around the state weren’t enough. And “did we ever get an earful” at the hearings, said Walter. Districts were created not to fairly represent, but “to reward and punish” legislators. Olson handed out a chart that clearly showed how the system was exploited: all but 6 Republicans represent districts with larger-than-average population, while Democrats represent all but one of the smallest 25 districts. (The one Republican who represents a small district won election in 2014 over an incumbent Democrat.) Needless to say, Mike Miller and Michael Busch are “not enthusiastic” about this proposed change, even though it’s been debated off and on over the last half-century.

The RRC was an 11-member commission, with seven selected by Governor Hogan (3 from each party, plus one unaffiliated) and two from both the House and Senate, one from each party. Their report of suggestions were based mainly on those adopted by California, with some tweaking to fit our Constitution. The report was adopted by a 9-2 vote, and you can imagine which party had the two and where they came from to serve on the RRC. The legislation introduced on Hogan’s behalf has “most of” the recommendations, Olson added.

What the RRC asked for was stronger criteria for population, with just a 1% variation. Districts had to comply with the Voting Rights Act, of course, but also needed to be congruent, contiguous, and compact. No more “blood splatters at a crime scene,” as Olson described Maryland’s Third Congressional District.

The redistricting body itself was intriguing to me. Applicants would be screened to make sure they weren’t connected to the process as members of the legislature, their families, etc. After that, they would be placed into groups representing each of the two principal parties and unaffiliated/minor party voters, those who hadn’t switched registration recently. Out of 10 applicants in each pool (Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated) selected based on these criteria, three of them would be randomly chosen to serve on the body, with the chair chosen out of the three unaffiliated members.

But the cool part was that anyone could submit a map. Olson said that Pennsylvania’s map, which replaced a gerrymandered original done by the legislature, was done by a piano tuner who submitted a map which best complied with the requirements.

In the question-and-answer period, Olson stressed that the redistricting body would do both Congressional and state legislative districts. But it likely wouldn’t be pressed into service until after the next census because it was unlikely the system in place now would be overturned unless it was found to be a Voting Rights Act violation. A suit by Judicial Watch regarding Maryland’s gerrymandering was “somewhat of a long shot” to succeed, assessed Olson.

Walter also was careful to add that, while he works at the Cato Institute, the Institute is not involved with this. He was doing this as a private citizen.

Finally, we got to club business. The treasurer’s report was given by Muir Boda, who has stepped in to become treasurer since the previous officeholder had to resign to take a job across the Bay. We are working out kinks in the accounts since they were based on her e-mail.

Mark McIver reported for the Central Committee. After a moment of silence for Blan Harcum, we learned his funeral will be Saturday, March 5 at Holloway Funeral Home, with visitation the evening before. He also related that he testified for the elected school board bill, which has now passed the full Senate (with a clean sweep 47-0 vote, by the way.)

Julie Brewington, speaking on behalf of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign as its Lower Shore coordinator, announced she had county chairs in each of her counties and was seeking sign locations along U.S. 50.

I made a motion to clean up some business so we could have our officer elections, and all five officers were nominated and elected by acclamation. I’m going to use Julie Brewington’s photo here. (She posted it on social media last night, so she gets the credit.)

From left to right, it’s Treasurer Muir Boda, First Vice-President Dave Snyder, President Shawn Jester, Second Vice-President Shawn Bradley, and Secretary Michael Swartz. (Me on the far right – whooda thunk it?)

We found out from Jackie Wellfonder that the Ehrlich book-signing was rescheduled for Friday, March 11 and relocated to the lobby of the City Center building, adjacent to Roadie Joe’s. She was hoping to coordinate with the College Republican event that has to be similarly rescheduled, but the date didn’t work with SU.

Woody Willing reminded us the WCRC Scholarship was still available, but the deadline was fast approaching (March 1.) Graduating seniors from any Wicomico County school (public, private, or homeschooled) are eligible provided they complete the application process. I asked if the application could be put online.

Willing also asked if we could make our annual YMCA donation, which was met with the club’s approval.

Julie Brewington returned to announce the Republican Women of Wicomico would next meet March 2, with Mitzi Perdue as the speaker.

Joe Ollinger and John Palmer gave us some news about the Wicomico Board of Education, which was getting deeper into its superintendent search. They should be close to selecting the next time we meet, said Ollinger. Various focus groups comprised of about 75 people total were considering the applicants, added Palmer. John also said we were “on track” to getting Board of Education meetings on PAC14.

Nate Sansom updated us on the Teenage Republicans, which would have their first meeting March 4 at the Centre of Salisbury library branch. This led to Patty Miller being asked to fill us in on the SU College Republicans, which are having a fundraiser at the Greene Turtle March 21 and are “working on some big things.”

Matt Maciarello updated us briefly on legislation he was interested in, adding the Eastern Shore delegation is “working so hard” on these items. Included in his assessment was the bomb threat prosecution bill sponsored by Mary Beth Carozza as well as a bill dealing with sex offenders.

As you can tell, it was a meeting full of information that we somehow crammed into about 90 minutes. Our next gathering will be March 28, with U.S. Senate candidate Dave Wallace the first statewide candidate to stop by one of our meetings since 2013.

Odds and ends number 75

It’s been almost three years since this was a regular feature on my site, but it appears I may have to bring this back to deal with all the stuff that I receive and deem to be somewhat newsworthy – just not enough to devote an entire post to. Ideally I can use it to clean out an e-mail box that gets too full of stuff that otherwise sits for awhile. As always, we’ll see how it goes but it’s been long enough that I had to go look up where I was in the series.

If you recall when I discussed the state convention last week, Maryland National Committeeman Louis Pope was pleased with the national GOP’s fiscal situation and it was also announced that the state party was finally out of debt. So it’s interesting to find out our national Democratic counterparts are doing what they do best: spending money they don’t have. Even with Martin O’Malley still in the race, they can’t just raise taxes to cover the difference.

It’s doubtful that Hillary’s campaign will be hurt, but Democrats are also salivating over retaking the Senate as the seats won by the GOP in the first TEA Party wave of 2010 come up for re-election in a Presidential year. That’s where a shortfall could come into play.

Speaking of the state convention, the sponsor of the amendment which actually stripped the voting rights of three auxiliary organizations now questions his own standing in introducing the amendment in the first place. It’s the ultimate in do-overs, but we have to ask whether he would have been as honest had the proposal passed.

Now Tony Campbell wants a special convention to right what was made wrong.

In discussing this with a former Chair, one thing that I learned is that seldom does an individual vote matter on the Executive Committee – there is rarely a time when a vote is close enough to make a difference. The only instance he could think of where a vote was close like that was the vote of no confidence in former Chair Jim Pelura back in 2009. That was still a relatively lopsided vote, 20 to 10, but the county chairs only voted 14 to 10. It was the six leadership and auxiliary votes that padded the margin.

(It’s also a rare time of late that I cite the balky and ad-bloated Red Maryland site, but you’ll notice the reason for the exception.)

So I think we should deal with this in due course. Perhaps we can do like we do for government “shutdowns” and give the auxiliary organizations their votes later as back votes once we rectify the situation, as I know we will.

Staying with the Maryland GOP, a few days back I received a list of 61 Republican leaders throughout the state who are backing Delegate Kathy Szeliga in her U.S. Senate bid. As you may expect, there are a lot of General Assembly members on the list: locally it includes Delegates Christopher Adams, Carl Anderton, Mary Beth Carozza, and Charles Otto as well as Senator Addie Eckardt and County Executive Bob Culver. 42 of 50 Republican Delegates and 13 of 14 GOP Senators are on the list. (George Edwards of western Maryland is the recalcitrant Senator.)

But I noticed one name among the local delegation was missing: it looks like Delegate Johnny Mautz has kept his powder dry for the moment. I can’t figure out if he just didn’t want to sign or if he’s backing someone else – with his Congressional staffer connections, he would be a logical backer of Richard Douglas. Just grist for the mill.

I haven’t even started to make my mind up on the race, but I will say Kathy has a long way to go to get my support – if only because her campaign website is still bare-bones a couple weeks after she jumped into the fray. That’s the type of lack of attention to detail that can sink a campaign.

Ethanol hasn’t been in the news much lately, but I thought it was worth pointing out that one of my favorite energy writers, Marita Noon, recently detailed how Ben Carson has moved to the right side of the issue. API’s Linda Rozett adds her two cents as well, making the case that dairy subsidies didn’t work out well so neither are ethanol carveouts creating the desired effects. Look, when we have plenty of oil there’s no real need to use food for fuel, despite what the corn growers who are enjoying the artificial price support may say.

Of course, people like me who believe food shouldn’t be used as fuel tend to fall into the category of climate change “deniers.” The folks at Organizing Against America For Action are excited about events in Paris. (Not the Friday the 13th ones, although this could be just as detrimental to millions.) In an e-mail exhorting supporters to “call out” skeptics, they say:

Remember when getting an elected official to even mention carbon pollution or climate change was a big deal? We’ve come a long way.

Today, the momentum for action has never been greater. Climate change denial in America is at an all-time low, and hundreds of companies have come out to support rules on power plant pollution. As if that wasn’t enough, religious leaders like Pope Francis are insisting that there is a moral obligation to address climate change.

In just two weeks, more than 160 nations, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s carbon pollution, are joining together for an international conference to tackle climate change, while we still can.

I dare them to call me out. YOU ARE A FRAUD. We’ve been holding steady on global temperature since the turn of the millennium, and if anything the indications are we are getting colder, not warmer. Throttling back the economies of the developed world will only weaken the rest of the planet.

Yet there are people talking common sense:

Climate change deniers are trying to spoil this big moment by undermining America’s commitment to act on climate change.

Some senators, like James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell, are going out of their way to undermine American commitments. Senator Inhofe, famous for bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor as proof that climate change doesn’t exist, has committed to crash the talks and be a “one-man truth squad,” telling the international negotiators how little he believes in climate science.

Senator Inhofe isn’t alone. Back at home, climate change deniers in both chambers of Congress are working to overturn the carbon pollution standards for power plants.

Good. I hope they succeed in overturning the job-killing restrictions. Just call me the Republican uncle, except I can do more than recite talking points.

Killing – not of jobs, but of fellow public housing residents – may not be out of the realm of the 6,000 drug convicts the Obama administration is releasing, and thanks to Judicial Watch we also know that they will be welcomed into public housing. I will grant that probably 99% of them will be more or less model citizens, but that still leaves a few dozen miscreants to cause trouble. I think Judicial Watch has reason to be concerned, as do those residents who get them as neighbors. Perhaps the same sort of notice granted when sex offenders move nearby is in order, at least to start. Call it a probationary period.

Finally, let’s end on a happier note. I wrote about a similar event last year, but over the weekend we were encouraged to participate in the Made in the USA Christmas Challenge by the Patriot Voices advocacy group. While most of the electronics we use are made overseas, it is possible to purchase gifts made in America. (One familiar group has some suggestions.)

It’s worth noting, though – as of this writing, just 116 have signed up at Patriot Voices. That’s not very many patriots, so hopefully more people than that are conscious of the advantages of supporting our businesses.

So there you have it – you are more informed and I have a clean inbox. I love it when a plan comes together.

Not too late for change

June 28, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Inside the Beltway, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Not too late for change 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The legal fight against guns

October 6, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The legal fight against guns 

As a means of getting back into things political after my weekend away, I found this chart – compiled by newly reinstalled Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley – quite instructive. It’s meant to be an ongoing narrative of the legal fight against 2013’s SB281, better known as the O’Malley gun law. (Some also refer to it as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, but the only people who will be made safer by it are the criminals.)

As you can see, the good guys have been shut out so far, and to be perfectly honest I think that as long as this stays in Judge Catherine C. Blake’s courtroom the side of right will continue to be denied. Perhaps we’d have a better shot at the appellate level; unfortunately, the Fourth District Court of Appeals based out of Richmond is littered with Obama appointees, as 6 of the 15 jurists were appointed by our current chief executive. Conversely, just three judges remain from those appointed by George W. Bush; out of the other six there are four Clinton appointees and one holdover each from George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – so the odds for a positive outcome aren’t exactly stacked in our favor. This despite the fact that Senate Bill 281 clearly infringes on our right to bear arms.

So it comes back to the decision on whether we should have put more effort into the referendum to stop SB281. Sadly, that ship sailed long ago and while I understand the track record for ballot issues on the conservative side isn’t very good, it should have been noted that the ballot issues which passed did so in a year where turnout was higher than would be the case in a gubernatorial election and no one named Obama will be on the ballot. In short, the electorate should trend more conservative in 2014.

Thus, it will be left to us to inflict the punishment as best we can on the party which sponsored and created the draconian measures. While seven Senate and seventeen House Democrats voted against the bill, they were mainly from districts deemed vulnerable by Democratic leadership so I’m betting they were given a pass to vote as if their jobs depended on it. Why have the faux conservatives when you can have the real thing?

If the right governor and enough members of the General Assembly are elected, the first bill out of the chute in 2015 might just be the one entitled “Firearm Safety Act of 2013 – Repeal.” That has a nice ring to it.

Ironically, another referendum effort gone awry is now winding its way into court as well. This came from MDPetitions.com last week:

If someone asked you whether or not you supported the US Constitution, would you say yes or no?  Of course you would say yes!  Hopefully, most Americans would say yes to that basic question.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in November 2012.  The Maryland government pulled a “bait and switch” trick on Maryland voters.  An overwhelming majority of Marylanders voted to uphold the requirements of the US Constitution, not realizing that they were voting on a redistricting map that has made Maryland the laughing stock of the country.  See here for references to quotes about how bad our districts are, even Comedy Central poked fun at our “ugly” districts.

How can people vote on the redistricting map, when they had no idea that that was what they were voting on?  The hard-won voice of the people was snuffed out through trickery.  That’s not right, and MDPetitions.com has been working hard for you to RESTORE YOUR RIGHT TO A FAIR REFERENDUM.

(snip)

The illegal ballot language deprived Maryland voters of a fair opportunity to approve or reject the law/map, and therefore, justifies a re-vote on Maryland Question 5.  MDPetitions.com and Judicial Watch believe that a re-vote on Question 5 with language that actually describes the situation is the only accurate and truthful way to govern our state.(Emphasis in original.)

I hate to say it, but it was MDPetitions’ decision to forgo a referendum on SB281 that got us into this gun law mess. The redistricting would have been more appropriate for a court case, but instead we got it to the ballot (barely) and the voters supported the redistricting – in part because of the language and the fact the map wasn’t shown on the ballot. All that a 2014 revote would do now is confuse the issue, although there is the chance we could elect a GOP governor who could draw things in a more logical manner.

On the whole, though, we really shouldn’t have to rely on the legal system to safeguard us.

Ten Question Tuesday: February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten Question Tuesday: February 19, 2013 

This week I had the opportunity to speak to Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, about a number of topics affecting both Maryland and the nation at large. We also spoke a little bit about Tom’s book, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government during our conversation.

**********

monoblogue: The reason I wanted to talk to you – and I briefly got to talk to you at Turning the Tides, and got a copy of your book – what interested me in talking to you was your statement that you work as much in Maryland as you do any other state, based on all the petition drives and other political items we have – at the conference you talked about illegal immigration. Given that you’ve already been involved in our petition process, and knowing that the illegal immigration issue is off the table but that there will be more petitions on issues such as gun control – do you think you’ll be getting more involved in Maryland politics as time goes on?

Fitton: Well, some of these issues are off the table. Illegal immigration continues to be a debate on the law that was passed and upheld via referendum, (but) whether it’s legal or Constitutional I think is a question which could be further litigated. The Left in Maryland is upset with the use of the initiative process to challenge the legislation – some of which was very radical – that came out of the Maryland legislature and was signed by the Governor. They’re seeking to restrict the ability of Marylanders to have a say in their laws through this referendum process.

Obviously, with gun control most publicly on the agenda, that’s something the Left – if gun control is to be passed, there’s going to be heightened interest by the Left in restricting people’s ability to challenge and have a say on that law, or those gun restrictions.

monoblogue: Do you find Maryland is more of a “problem child” state than any other, or is it that it just so happens that it’s our turn in the cycle and maybe this time next year Illinois will be a problem, or New York, or what have you?

Fitton: Maryland doesn’t have any vibrant opposition; it’s a one-party state. That results in legislation and policies which aren’t as smart… in states where you have the vigorous back-and-forth between parties and philosophies, you get policies and legislation that is more commonsense and down the middle of the road. But Maryland seems to be a laboratory for the far left and, as a result, you get policies that are way out there, not only in terms of being bad policy, but even being good law in terms of being valid under the law.

monoblogue: So you’ll be more busy in our state than, say, an Alabama or Oklahoma – states that tend to be more conservative.

Fitton: Well, we are busy. In Maryland we’ve been extremely active, there’s been a lot of bad policy. I don’t want to attribute it to a political party, but certainly liberals are implementing their policies and the rule of law seems to be a secondary consideration in some of their implementations.

monoblogue: Yes, as you said at the conference, “bad policy is usually corrupt,” and Maryland does seem to take the cake – having lived here for several years I know this. You can also extrapolate that on a national level – you wrote The Corruption Chronicles, and that’s 350 pages of Obama’s misdeeds in just three years. (laughs) I don’t know if you’re going to write a second book on the second term, or do you think you have the point made already?

Fitton: Well, the book only touched the surface. We talked about the Clinton years’ corruption, corruption during the Bush years, and obviously the current crisis. This President represents a challenge to those of us who value Constitutional government and the rule of law; a challenge that we haven’t seen in recent memory.

monoblogue: True; like I said, you could write a second book for the second term – that’s not a problem. But I do want to point out that…

Fitton: Well, we could write a second book for the first term.

monoblogue: (laughs) That’s true.

Fitton: The government has grown by about a third, but oversight has actually decreased – Congress used to have five – well, you see this quoted in the book – five thousand oversight hearings a year, more or less, and now it’s down to about three thousand. So our government has increased by a third, but the oversight, at least Congressional oversight, has decreased by an even greater amount. Our government is really truly out of control in the sense that it’s not accountable to Congress and, frankly, if not for independent watchdogs like Judicial Watch and independent, enterprising media, you wonder what would be going on in Washington but for our activities given the lawlessness of so much of what the government’s doing.

monoblogue: Right. And I know from previously knowing a little bit about Judicial Watch (that) you guys are equal-opportunity; if a conservative President does something that you feel is unwise, you’re going to be on them, too. There were a few things you opposed President Bush on, so it’s not – you’re considered a conservative organization, but it’s very much a good-government organization.

Fitton: That’s right. And given the size of government, it’s always hard for it to be good. President Bush was, unfortunately, too much on the side of secrecy and lack of accountability. President Obama was elected, initially, in part as a reaction to that. And there’s good reason President Obama is always talking about transparency, because he understands the American people demanded it of their government. What we found is that his promises of transparency, his promotion of it, is completely at odds with actual policies.

monoblogue: Exactly, but that’s true of a lot of other things.

Fitton: That is true, but when it comes to issues of ethics, transparency, and accountability in government this administration presents challenges to us that we haven’t historically seen before, at least in recent times.

monoblogue: They don’t seem to be letting crises go to waste, that’s for sure. If you look at the problem as a whole, you oversee a large group that is obviously a watchdog, but maybe the better question – and something that could have been covered a little bit better in our brief time listening to you – is what can we do as a citizen about pointing out these things and getting the word out and helping to maybe rein in some of the excesses of government?

Fitton: Well, there are several things – obviously number one, if I can be provincial, is to support Judicial Watch. Secondly, you write letters to the editor to your media and elsewhere and alert your friends and family to these issues, about the importance of government accountability, transparency, and combating corruption, and you pressure Congress to do their job to oversee government activities and to make sure that they, themselves, in Congress are behaving appropriately, too. We see so many Congressional ethics scandals where the ethical transgressions are whisked away with a slap of the wrist – that’s got to end.

Whether you’re Democrat or Republican you care about these transparency and corruption issues; it’s most important that Democrats go after Democrat corruption or Republicans after Republican corruption, because, obviously, Republicans and Democrats have an interest in going after corruption in the other guy’s party, but they don’t look at the speck in their own eyes. It’s up to everyday Americans who are members of these parties and who have influence to say we’ve got to make sure we don’t have any corruption on our side of the table. We have to take partisanship out of policing corruption.

monoblogue: That sounds like a good plan, because many people I know, mostly Republicans but a few Democrats, they’re as interested in good government as I am. Yes, we disagree on the extent of government, but they would like to see clean government that’s efficient, does what it says it’s going to do, and is transparent. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the higher people are in power, the more they want to obfuscate.

Fitton: I agree, and we need the expectation – we have to have the understanding that we’re just not going to tolerate this anymore. Zero tolerance – I hate that phrase…

monoblogue: I do too.

Fitton: …but we have to have a much lower level of toleration for corruption in public office.

monoblogue: So, unfortunately, it seems like you have a neverending job taking care of the mess in both Annapolis and Washington. (laughs) And other state capitals, too.

Fitton: Well, it’s a – oversight and making sure our systems of government run well and are free of corruption certainly is an obligation to anyone who wants to be part of a society that purports to govern itself.  I think it’s an obligation, and government has to be managed by its citizens, and be held accountable all the time. So we can never cease the vigilance; it’s the price of citizenship in some ways – citizenship properly understood in areas of making sure the government’s held to account if you really, truly believe in self-government.

monoblogue: We have to be as watchful as you are, is basically what you’re saying.

Fitton: Everyone needs to ask questions, demand accountability, demand information, and demand transparency. I think it comes with the territory for a republican form of government, with a small “r.”

monoblogue: Yes, with a small “r.” But I appreciate this, and it sounds like a good place to stop.

Fitton: Well, thanks Michael. I appreciate your interest in our work, and thanks for promoting it.

monoblogue: I appreciate the time.

**********

While I have a guest in mind for next week, the arrangements haven’t been finalized. Stay tuned.

  • I haven't. Have you?
  • 2018 Election

    Election Day is November 6 for all of us. However, Delaware still has to get through its primary on September 6.

    Maryland

    Governor

    Larry Hogan (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Shawn Quinn (Libertarian) – Facebook

    Ben Jealous (D) – Facebook Twitter

    Ian Schlakman (Green) Facebook Twitter

     

    U.S. Senate

    Tony Campbell (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Arvin Vohra (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    Neal Simon (Unaffiliated) – Facebook Twitter

    Ben Cardin (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

     

    U.S. Congress -1st District

    Andy Harris (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Jenica Martin (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    Jesse Colvin (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    State Senate – District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R – incumbent) – Facebook

    Holly Wright (D) – Facebook

     

    Delegate – District 37A

    Frank Cooke (R) – Facebook

    Sheree Sample-Hughes (D – incumbent) – Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 37B (elect 2)

    Chris Adams (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Johnny Mautz (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Dan O’Hare (D) – Facebook

     

    State Senate – District 38

    Mary Beth Carozza (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Jim Mathias (D – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38A

    Charles Otto (R – incumbent)

    Kirkland Hall, Sr. (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38C

    Wayne Hartman (R) – Facebook

     

    Delaware

     

    U.S. Senate

     

    Republican:

    Rob ArlettFacebook Twitter

    Roque de la FuenteFacebook Twitter

    Gene Truono, Jr. –  Facebook

     

    Libertarian (no primary, advances to General):

    Nadine Frost – Facebook

     

    Democrat:

    Tom Carper (incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Kerri Evelyn HarrisFacebook Twitter

     

    Green (no primary, advances to General):

    Demitri Theodoropoulos

     

     

    Congress (at-large):

     

    Republican:

    Lee MurphyFacebook Twitter

    Scott Walker

     

    Democrat (no primary, advances to General):

    Lisa Blunt Rochester (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

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    In the interest of being fair and balanced, I provide this service to readers. But before you click on the picture below, just remember their message:

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