The milestone

February 27, 2016 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on The milestone 

This has been the political winter of my discontent.

You likely know I’m not a fan of The Donald, but this post isn’t going to be about him per se. The sheer divisiveness of Donald Trump’s campaign, however, is not only relevant to some of the things I’m going to say but also serves as a good analogy to a lot of what I have been seeing and hearing about other, more peripheral political issues.

Over the course of doing monoblogue I have liked to take stock on my anniversaries (December 1 each year) and when I reach milestone posts, of which this is one (post 4,500.) Some may say I do too much navel-gazing but it should be pointed out that the original intent of blogging was to be a public diary of sorts – in fact, the political blog RedState is simply a collection of the diaries various contributors put up. Normally it’s those given front page access who have their voices heard, but they also have the right to promote others as they see fit. Besides, Saturday is usually my slowest day reader-wise so this is as good as time as any to share some of these thoughts, one of which led off this piece.

While the original intent of all these websites was to promote a diversity of thought, it seems that there are lines in the sand being drawn that could alter the political landscape for years to come. Perhaps this is simply a repeat of the era when each city of any size may have had its Democratic newspaper and Republican newspaper, but anymore it seems like we have “Trumpbart,” “RubioState,” and so forth. (Maybe it’s my personal bias, but I haven’t seen a really pro-Cruz national site – let alone Kasich or Carson.) The folks at National Review don’t like Trump, the Trump backers counter that both Cruz and Rubio aren’t “natural born citizens,” and everyone has staked out territory from which to fight this conservative un-civil war.

We’re even seeing this extend to the state level in politics and the blogosphere. One such battle is ongoing between Ryan Miner (who blogs at A Miner Detail and does his own radio show) and the folks at Red Maryland (who pretty much do the same.) It would probably not be a good idea to put Ryan and Brian Griffiths in a room together right now, and to me there’s no reason to stoop down to the eighth-grade level because they back different candidates in a Congressional race. That’s not to say this is anything new, because when I first began there was a lot of bad blood between local bloggers in Salisbury that I had to work around since I was lumped in with them.

Perhaps it’s my nature, or maybe – just maybe – I’ve learned a couple things along the way, but over the years I have tried to write in such a way that I don’t lose any sleep by regretting what I said. My measuring stick for political candidates is mainly issue-based, so my dislike for Donald Trump is because I find him far short of being conservative enough for my tastes. The attitude he exhibits is just rancid butter on the moldy bagel that is Donald Trump.

But let’s talk about the future. I’m going to pick on Red Maryland for a moment, but there are any number of websites out there which qualify. It’s unfortunate that A Miner Detail is down as I write this (for what reason I don’t know) but they did a parody piece recently on clickbait articles. Yet if you go to the RM site (as I just did to check this) you get a pop-up ad for Windows drivers (probably malware) in the corner with each page and an annoying pop-up ad when you click on an article. To be fair, this is true with a number of “news” sites with the Washington Times coming to mind as another prime offender.

But if the guys who do Red Maryland, the Washington Times, and 100 other national conservative sites are making money with the plethora of pop-up ads and clickbait, and can sleep at night satisfied that they are doing their part to advance their cause, well, more power to them. It’s not for me, in fact, I just decided to pull the Newsmax and content.ad pop-ups off my site because they’re now pretty much populated with clickbait. I still have the Amazon account and will keep TrackBill because they are selling goods and services for which I am compensated on a commission basis.

Lately I’ve also noticed that RM is doing “sponsored” Facebook ads, which can be a somewhat expensive means of getting out the word. But I decided to join them with a very modest (as modest as I can get) boosting of my book review post that I did recently. It will run through Monday. It’s just an experiment to see if it affects traffic in any meaningful way.

But I think an alternative is possible. For several years I have written for the Patriot Post, which does not do advertising – yet I still get a modest stipend each month. (Modest to the point where I would love to have about 15 other such clients and just write for those all week. The commute would be a lot better – bed to my chair.) About three or four times a year they have a campaign to solicit funds from their readers, with the key one being around the holidays, yet they succeed in raising over $300,000 annually to support their operations.

Yet the example I have been following over the last few weeks is Erick Erickson’s new site, The Resurgent. They will accept advertising but it is limited to one sponsor a week that pays $5,000 for the privilege. So you have a very clean site with a minimum of advertising, and this is the sort of model I would like to see promoted.

Granted, it’s taken Erick about a decade to build his name up to a point where he can command that sort of coin, but if you went and followed my link ask yourself: isn’t that a lot better than pop-up ads and clickbait? Today is the day I declare monoblogue a clickbait-free zone.

The way I see it, my job isn’t to provide controversy or sensationalize the Maryland political world. My job is to educate and enlighten citizens, hopefully to sway their political beliefs in a more conservative direction. While I have other features such as my Shorebird of the Week or music reviews, those exist because I want to broaden my audience and also not burn out on political posts. To me, content is king but it has to be well-written – or at least as well-written as my talent and interest allow.

So that is my milestone. There are times I wonder just how long I’ll be doing this, but I suppose as long as I’m satisfied with the effort I’ll keep plugging away.

A little friendly advice

January 7, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on A little friendly advice 

The folks at Red Maryland must be so successful that they have put out the bat-signal that they want more helpers. Billing it as the Citizen News Project, they are looking for contributors representing all of Maryland’s counties to provide reports on “hot topics of government and policy” in their respective counties. Flush off their success at picking the right gubernatorial horse and joining the Liberty Alliance (which is nice, aside from the annoying popup tabs I now regularly get to ignore when visiting their family of sites) they want to spread the wealth as it were. At least that’s the impression I get.

But seriously, despite my differences with them over the years (hence my status as an erstwhile RM contributor) this could be a good idea. Having said that, though, I think they may be going about it the wrong way.

I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now, in perhaps a dozen different outlets I can think of off the top of my head – two blogs of my own and several others on a scale from local to national as a contributor. Bloggers tend to go through an initial stage where they write on a regular and frequent basis – it’s a stage that runs from a few weeks to maybe a few months. Almost invariably, though, there comes a point where a blogger feels like they are beating their head against a wall or the effort is no longer worth the reward. Often they burn out on the task of writing and leave the blog go for days, weeks, or simply never get back to it. Millions of blogs are considered dead sites as they stopped updating – my original site would be one.

But while having a website of one’s own is daunting to a degree, joining an established site with a reader base already in place is an attractive option for some. It’s a model which has been tried to some extent by everyone from the Huffington Post to Examiner.com to RedState, with various incentives put in place. Red Maryland is apparently trying that same model.

I also believe that content is king and a good site has plenty of it. Red Maryland does relatively well in this respect as it averages a post or two per day; just a little bit more output than I do – although a significant percentage of the posts are simple promotions for their upcoming radio shows and events. Obviously they want to create more content, which is an admirable idea with the benefit (they hope) of increasing their site’s readership and cross-promotional opportunities.

Looking at this from the perspective of a guy who has more than just this site to maintain, in the case of my overall body of work the most important content is done for this site unless there is sufficient incentive to make someone else’s venue worthwhile – in other words, if I’m being paid a reasonable amount for my effort then it becomes a more pressing priority. In my case, that’s why content may be lacking at certain times because I have clients who pay me for my work – this space, not always so much.

On the other hand, if I’m a contributor who is working simply for credit or for a pittance I may ask myself why I’m placing my work where it may not be promoted well or in a place where I may not be allowed to use it for myself on my own site. In some cases I have managed to blend the two, but in general if I’m doing content I want to be able to use it for myself since I have a site to fill, too. Work smarter, not harder and all that.

So where am I going with this?

It may not be true of every county, but I suspect there are a number of people who already do the work Red Maryland seeks to have on sites of their own. I think that’s where they need to look first – do a little research and find out what counties already have alternative, regularly-updated news sites and see if there’s a match between the vision and coverage of those sites and what Red Maryland has in mind. If it’s a match they can then work out a content-sharing agreement perhaps similar to the former arrangement between RM and the Baltimore Sun.

Otherwise – and I admit I could be reading their appeal wrong – they are just looking for people to write for them occasionally and hoping these contributors don’t mind giving away content for free in the vain hope they’ll be discovered as part of the Red Maryland network.

Maryland has a lot of good writers, and RM‘s Mark Newgent should know because he was the editor of the now-defunct Watchdog Wire – Maryland. If that’s the model Red Maryland is looking to replicate, there’s a reason why Watchdog Wire is no more and it has nothing to do with the editor – just the lack of incentive.

So if you’re thinking about being a Red Maryland contributor, my advice to you is to go into it with eyes open and ask a lot of questions.

Thoughts on the Rascovar column

July 31, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Thoughts on the Rascovar column 

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about a anti-Republican screed reprinted on the Maryland Reporter website, so I’ve decided to add my two cents.

I have plenty of respect for Len Lazarick and his fellow writers at Maryland Reporter. While conservatives read his site, though, I don’t necessarily consider it a liberal or conservative news outlet, aside from the fact they link to a variety of news sources from around the state. Most of them are left-leaning but they’ve also linked to a few conservative bloggers in the search for political news. Thus, its content is generally either a daily news aggregation roundup or more in-depth reporting by its contributors. And I’m cool with that.

Having said that, it really doesn’t bother me that Maryland Reporter uses the columns penned by Barry Rascovar, who I’m told has been covering Maryland politics since, oh, about the Mesozoic Age. If Len Lazarick thinks it’s a good way to get eyeballs, well, have at it. So I don’t agree with those who urge people to boycott the Maryland Reporter site (although I don’t see evidence that Dan Bongino specifically asked for a boycott as Lazarick alluded to) based on the “outrageous and slanderous” column, as MDGOP Chair Diana Waterman described it.

One bad column does not a bad website make. The best approach is to ignore Rascovar just like people seem to be ignoring his home website, Political Maryland, where he wrote a companion piece yesterday. (It has an Alexa rank of 5,069,099 which leads me to think he gets his readership from the 224 subscribers and that’s about it. I’ll add to your total, so you’re welcome.)

Many of you probably know I wrote columns for a time for a small syndicate called Liberty Features, so I have an idea of how to work in the format. You have 600 words to grab the reader’s attention and make your point, and it can either be done with a dash of humor or a serious discussion of issues. If Rascovar were any more shrill with his column it would have broken glass, and I’ve read much better from him.

Now let’s talk about the situation at the border. I thought the idea of a border was to have a secure perimeter with only certain checkpoints to allow people in or out. Obviously in this day and age of air traffic our borders extend to international airports and harbors but for the most part people who cross do so by land. It gives those in charge of our security an opportunity to check if the person seeking entrance has permission and wishes to do so for a valid reason.

What bothers me about this situation is that it seems to be encouraged by our current administration, which couldn’t get amnesty by legal means so they’re trying an end run around the law by abusing the designation of “refugee.” It’s the complicit assistance of their host nations and Mexico that’s also troublesome – once Mexico was upset enough about the drain of their best and brightest to call for their return but now it seems too many nations to our south depend on remittances from those who have made it here, legally or not.

Back in 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderon stated:

I am from Michoacan, and in Michoacan we have 4 million people – 2 million of those Michoacanos are in the States. We want them to come back, we want them to find jobs here in Mexico. We miss them. These are our best people. They are bold people – they’re young, they’re strong, they’re talented, they have overcome tremendous adversity – who are working so they can come back to their country someday.

Seven years later, it seems now that the United States is a dumping ground for youth, a group for whom the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras can’t attract the investment to create jobs. They would rather depend on the chances their “children” – many of whom are teenagers – can stay in this country and either find menial work or receive some sort of government aid, enough to send back to their families who will eventually be allowed to follow this generation. The only “someday” they’re waiting for is the day they can re-create their squalor here, on the backs of taxpayers.

The problem is that we simply can’t afford it. The best thing for these children is to send them back home with a message for their leaders to reform their systems and build their own economies.

The uninvited

For the last two CPACs, Bretbart News has hosted a gathering called “The Uninvited”, a meeting where those who speak to subjects taboo to the main conference meet. In 2013, they met in a side conference area well away from many of the main events and this year they left the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center entirely, choosing the nearby Westin Hotel instead.

I bring this up not because I want to extend CPAC coverage, but it was the immediate thought I had after reading a piece by Jeff Quinton last night about a Larry Hogan-sponsored Maryland blogger gathering. Indeed, when asked by Quinton a few days ago I said I hadn’t heard about such a meeting so presumably I wasn’t invited – not that 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis generally works for me anyway.

But I thought a little compare and contrast was in order, perhaps to help make Quinton’s overall point.

About 2 1/2 years ago, well before he officially announced but at a time when the wheels for a 2014 run were already in motion, David Craig gathered a number of prominent bloggers at the time (including a couple of the Red Maryland guys) for an informal Friday evening meeting in Annapolis.

But it didn’t stop there. Craig also made sure I was aware of the announcement tour stop in Salisbury and his staff arranged for me to have some time for an interview before they left. Insofar as I know, David has been fair to most of the bloggers – no complaints.

And while I haven’t had similar face time with either Ron George or Charles Lollar, Ron has taken care to call me or provide comment for my site on several occasions. I’ve also heard from members of Lollar’s staff regarding things going on in the new media world. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to Larry Hogan, but then I don’t initiate the conversation either. There was a point where I was trying to get him for the most recent Ten Questions series of interviews I did last year, but we couldn’t get a time coordinated and I eventually abandoned the effort.

Now I’m presuming the Hogan event would be patterned on the initial Craig soiree, and since there were about 10 or 11 total people there perhaps only six to eight bloggers were invited – figure four from Red Maryland, Jackie Wellfonder, and perhaps the folks from the Sun and Post and pretty soon you have a crowded table. But if a candidate really wanted to do it right, he or she would have 3 or 4 similar events around the state.

Then again, what do I know? In the scheme of things I’m just a blogger whose main complaint about the Hogan campaign isn’t lack of access but lack of detail, as in his plans for governance should he be fortunate enough to win. Maybe I’m just one voter but I have a lot of pet issues, so that’s why I want to know.

So I hope my cohorts have a good time this afternoon. I won’t be there, particularly since I’ll probably still be hard at work doing my outside job in the real world. But I’m sure I’ll hear about it from someone.

Sound advice for me and my fellows

As many of you know, I write regularly for the Patriot Post. As such, I’ve been a longtime subscriber to their various releases and today editor Mark Alexander wrote a piece called “The GOP’s Fratricidal Threat to Liberty.” And while I disagree with his premise to some degree – because he seems to blame the TEA Party movement for recent failures moreso than the “Establishment” pushback, something I would reverse – the overall point about unity is a good one, and it got me to thinking about how things are going in Maryland.

Back in November I was crucified for a particular post, but in light of recent events I want to quote from what I said then:

Now you can trust me when I tell you this “erstwhile contributor” to Red Maryland has had many differences with them over the years. But I have to say that they are an important piece of Republican politics in this state, for better or worse. I would have more respect for those running the Lollar campaign if they pointed out the differences between their guy and the other Republicans running than I do with their spending time worrying about what a group of bloggers thinks. If you disagree with Kline’s assessment (of your campaign), prove him wrong and step up your game.

Indeed, I think the Lollar campaign has stepped up. But more to my point, there are some who are taking a victory lap over the eviction of Red Maryland from the pages of the Baltimore Sun. It’s well worth noting a particular timeline of events: I wrote my piece on November 6, the Red Maryland – Baltimore Sun partnership came out November 20 (on the eve of the MDGOP Fall Convention), and their endorsement of Larry Hogan was made official December 12. So the endorsement was made after the Sun hired them.

Also worth mentioning is this part of Red Maryland‘s rationale on choosing Hogan:

No doubt there will be, in some circles, the gnashing of teeth over our endorsement, much like there was for our 2010 endorsement of Bob Ehrlich. However, we will continue to ascribe to the Buckley Rule and support the most viable right candidate who can win. (Emphasis in original.)

Gnashing of teeth – check. But there’s another issue at play here, and it has nothing to do with who is on what payroll.

There are only a handful of conservative political blogs in Maryland; perhaps no more than a dozen really cover the state well on a regular basis. As I said back in November, I have had many differences with Red Maryland and probably will lock horns with them on a number of future occasions. There’s no doubt we see the limits and overall merit of the Buckley Rule differently.

But I do agree with the need for the Eleventh Commandment. There has to be a change in philosophy among all of us – instead of trying to be the “tallest midget in the room” (as a Red Maryland stalwart is fond of saying) by needlessly savaging political and online opponents, we should be the ones who support each other in the overall uphill climb. On the whole, we’ve lost a valuable platform because of mistakes made by those who tried to be that tallest midget, ones for which they were called out. Hopefully a lesson is learned out of all this; and I don’t doubt Red Maryland will still have a part to play going forward. Just remember, folks: perception is reality.

As I see in my perception, each and every one of us who toil in this field can complain all we want and write 24/7/365 about the mess that is Maryland politics, but if we don’t strive to educate and motivate our readers into supporting good conservative candidates from around the state we’ve done nothing but waste our time. (Okay, a few of us may be paid for advertising, consulting, and other favors, but that’s peanuts.)

I may not necessarily agree with Red Maryland or Jackie Wellfonder about their belief that Larry Hogan is the best candidate for governor, but if he wins on June 24 it’s our job to help him win on November 4. I can tell you from experience that it’s a rare ballot indeed where a Democrat is more conservative than a Republican, and looking at the top of the Maryland ticket this year won’t be one of those rarities. Trust me, it’s not like I’ve never had to put my ego aside because my choice in the primary lost. But I sucked it up, buttercup, because I understood what was at stake.

To me, the end game is to elect conservatives, and if we elect GOP moderates we either convince them they should become more conservative or find a better primary opponent for the next go-round. As Alexander said, we will still agree with them on 80 percent or more of the issues.

To finish, let me quote Alexander but add just a couple words:

The internecine warfare in the (Maryland) GOP (blogosphere) may be good for cornering constituents and emptying their wallets, but it is most assuredly and demonstrably NOT good for advancing Liberty.

If I have a legitimate beef with a candidate – and there’s at least one I’ve been disappointed in so far – I’m reserving the right to say so. But the events of the last couple weeks should remind us all we have a ton of work to do and these misadventures are too much of an ill-timed idle diversion.

A tale of several reports

It’s interesting how the blogosphere works.

At 3:19 p.m. yesterday I received the e-mail about Richard Douglas deciding not to run for Attorney General, presumably at the same time several others got it because we were all “providing coverage of his potential run during the exploratory phase,” as the e-mail said. I say I received it, but I actually didn’t read it until maybe 3:45 or so because I was out when it hit my e-mail box.

As it turned out, there were six media sources which received the e-mail, although it went to a total of eight people excluding the common practice of self-addressing to make sure the e-mail went out. (Three of them represented Red Maryland, although Brian Griffiths wrote their coverage.)

Now I’m not sure who had it out first between Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun, The Quinton Report and Red Maryland, but the latter two outlets more or less reprised the press release in full with a line or two of comment. Dresser’s piece was even more brief, and shows why he’s a professional – assuming he got the e-mail at about the same time the rest of us did, it was written in a matter of minutes. As a summary it was well done. All three did the quick and dirty thing, getting the news out to their readers.

Jackie Wellfonder and I took a little longer to write our coverage, but both of us added more summary to the news release, which she printed in full and I excerpted from. Jackie brought out the idea of a task force, which I will speak to shortly. For my part, I was hoping to be first out with the news (I wasn’t) but I also wanted to add some opinion and context, which I did. As it turns out I wasn’t at my outside job so I had my piece set to go about 4:30 yesterday.

The other person who received the e-mail has chosen thus far not to write on it. So there’s my compare and contrast of the coverage, for what it’s worth. I thought the situation made for an interesting case study.

Now here’s some more context and information. In looking at the election calendar, we all know the filing deadline is February 25, so any candidate for Attorney General (or other office) has to have his or her affairs in order by then. But it’s not the actual “drop-dead” date for the Maryland GOP.

If you remember the 2010 election – the one where Republicans ended up with no AG candidate – there was a controversy which came to a head two years later when Audrey Scott, who was the Chair of the Maryland GOP during the 2010 election, made an unsuccessful bid for National Committeewoman. Jim Shalleck, who had volunteered to place his name on the ballot for the AG post, claimed in a letter sent out during Scott’s 2012 NCW campaign that his would-be candidacy was scuttled because of inaction by the state party. At the time, state parties had a full fifteen days to fill any ballot vacancies which occurred during the filing period – here in Wicomico County, that’s how current State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello made it onto the 2010 ballot because no Republican filed for the office during the prescribed time frame. Fortunately, it worked out for us as a local party and for the county as a whole. On a state level, we failed.

This year, however, the time frame is much shorter as the “drop-dead” date is Monday, March 3. (Note to state Executive Committee: pencil in a Saturday, March 1 meeting now for a task force or however you wish to handle this.) I have no idea if Shalleck is still willing to run, since he seems to have the qualifications to do so if not the fire in the belly, but this is actually a pretty good shot for a Republican because there’s no incumbent, a four-way primary on the other side, and perhaps a wave year for the GOP. That confluence of factors rarely comes along in the downballot races where there are no term limits – before Doug Gansler won the office in 2006, his immediate predecessor Joe Curran served 20 years.

Many of those who came before Curran served until a judgeship came open, which is how the last Republican AG got into office – his elected Democratic predecessor moved to the Maryland Court of Appeals and Edward D.E. Rollins of Cecil County was appointed to the post in 1952 by the last Republican governor to win re-election, Theodore McKeldin. It’s been 96 years since a Republican won the AG job via election, and that streak’s not in jeopardy until someone steps up on the Republican side.

Real firepower

I think I’ve trod down this road before, but a post Sunday by DaTechGuy (aka Peter Ingemi) brought the name Jimmie Bise back out. And the points he made echo the points I made when I wrote my piece in early 2012 and the thoughts Bise had back in 2009. So I wouldn’t call this a tragedy – because Bise is still very much alive – but more like a case of lessons not being learned.

Yesterday I wrote at length about a piece in the Baltimore Sun which was repeated by a fairly liberal blogger who happened to be a statehouse reporter for decades. I don’t know who else, if anyone, wrote about this report but considering the paucity of Maryland-based conservative outlets it’s pretty likely I was the only one. (I checked a few and indeed I seemed to be the only one paying attention; then again, it fit in with my interests.)

And when I say paucity of conservative outlets I think it’s safe to say that our combined efforts – and by “our” I’m including the dozen or so regularly updated conservative sites in Maryland, including this one – might reach an audience perhaps 1/10 of what the Sun draws for its print edition daily (about 170,000 readers). Note that doesn’t count their online services, which probably draw another 100,000 or so per diem.

So what if some conservative bought the Baltimore Sun? This isn’t completely far-fetched, since there was some interest in the Sun‘s parent company from the Koch brothers, but the likelihood of the owners selling to overt conservatives is slim.

That leaves the internet, which is the venue of choice for most of those whom we want to reach anyway.

It’s helpful for this exercise to remember that a person is only allowed to donate a maximum of $10,000 to Maryland candidates this election cycle, with $4,000 the maximum to a particular candidate. If you figure even $1,000 per person donated to the ten most conservative members of the General Assembly (or conservative challengers) that’s going to give you 10 members of the body out of 188, assuming they were all elected – and in the state’s current political climate that’s one hell of a crapshoot. If you want to build a conservative movement in Maryland, you have to do better and begin with spreading the message among the populace.

I know Bise talked about running a national news agency on $500,000 a year, but if you took even half that money and spread it around the twelve or so top conservative sites in the state we could build a tremendous online following. We could work day after day pounding home the proper message, pointing out the frequent hypocrisy of the liberal state regime, and figuring out new ways to reach the desired audience. It would be an investment repaid eventually in better opportunities for all who live and work in Maryland.

As it stands, we in the conservative blogosphere along with a handful of talk radio hosts around the state probably feel like the 300 Spartans desperately fighting our own Battle of Thermopylae against the hordes who would tax and spend Maryland into oblivion, driving away the productive and leaving only the parasites who feed off the government and those producers unlucky enough to be still stuck here.

And it’s not just Maryland, either. Most of the northeastern part of the country, the West Coast, and pockets of the Midwest suffer the same problems our state endures. Certainly there’s a conservative movement crying out for help in those areas, with the thought that changing hearts and minds make winning elections down the road much easier.

People tell me that we may as well give up on Maryland, but I cede no ground. It doesn’t take a majority to “get it” to instill change, just a majority of those who vote. If we don’t have the conservatives in Maryland ready to not just dash to the polls the moment they’re open but also grab their like-minded friends and neighbors to do the same, we’ll be in for yet another four-year cycle of misery. And contrary to popular belief, our misery doesn’t love company – our special brand of misery drives company away.

We can do much, much better, with a little help. (Why not rattle my tip jar? My annual server fee is coming due soon.)

The return

While I was helping the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and my friends Jim and Michele Hogsett by attending and supporting their (Save the) BreastFest fundraiser last night in Ocean City (more on that in a future installment), Friday the 13th also marked the quiet return of a local voice in the blogosphere. I’m pleased to see that Right Coast Conservative is back, or as they say, “baaaaaaaaack!” (Generally it’s one contributor but she has a number of guest posts, so I refer to it as a collective.)

Julie has been more active locally in the last few weeks, so it’s not a complete surprise she’s returned. Few can walk away after that bite of the apple, and she still has the passion:

My intent is to focus primarily on Maryland politics and local news. However, if something strikes my fancy, I may just go off the reservation now and again. I won’t be twerking or anything, but I may not always stay on task.

Her first piece is on a new candidate for Wicomico County Council, Marc Kilmer. If you’ve read my website for awhile you may have seen Marc leaves the occasional comment and once in awhile I will use his op-eds as a starting point for my thoughts. If you could find someone more qualified for the job than someone who looks at public policy for a living, well, good luck. I also have it on good authority that another quality young candidate will be formally announcing next week.

Quietly our fair county is in the process of turning over a new leaf of leadership to a younger generation, and that process will likely accelerate now that three longtime members of County Council are leaving – between Council members Sheree Sample-Hughes, Gail Bartkovich, and Stevie Prettyman the Council loses a combined 36 years of experience; there is the potential that we could see a turnover comparable to the 2006 election where none of the four Democratic incumbents at that time chose to seek re-election, (That was the year the county shifted from a commission-style system where County Council served as the executive body to having an elected County Executive.) After the 2006 election Bartkovich and Prettyman were the only holdovers from the previous Council because the other person who sought re-election lost in the primary.

But I digress from my main point: it’s good to gain another voice on local political affairs. Having seen the contentious times which marked the infancy and adolescence of local blogging, here’s hoping the discourse stays on a more mature level. Welcome back to the Right Coast Conservative!

The life of a blogger

June 24, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Mainstream media · 1 Comment 

This came in my e-mail the other day and I found it both amusing and enlightening.

Hi Michael,

My name is (redacted) and I am a marketing associate at (a marketing firm). Congrats on being named one of The Fix’s top state political blogs!

We are offering our smart polling widget for your website that comes with free basic analytics. Every week we will send you a report of topline and summary data to create more detailed audience profiles and build a stronger online community.

I was wondering if you had time to talk next Tuesday? I would love to run through our product and how it would be tailored for you.

Thanks,

(redacted)

(Emphasis mine.)

As a matter of fact, I really don’t have time to talk next Tuesday because I’m hustling to make a living. Blogging is great practice for my second career but I have to pursue career number three because it actually pays me. (Career number one went by the wayside thanks to the demise of the local building industry.)

And you can tell I don’t pay attention to the Washington Post, because I had no idea I was on that list. But I am since I was placed on their “extended edition” in March – thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s an honor! My erstwhile associates at Red Maryland have bragged on this for a couple years, so now I can too.

Meanwhile, there’s the aspect of pop-up polls. I don’t know about you, but I ignore them and don’t really want them cluttering up my site. Not sure how annoying pop-ups will build my audience; I choose to do that with good content.

I also get these appeals on a semi-regular basis; this one came last week:

I am looking to do one-way link building with desgin (sic) and technology sites. We thought you might be interested in this since your site (monoblogue.us) is in this category.

One way links are like this: SITE A -> monoblogue.us -> SITE B

I will link to monoblogue.us from my PR6 SITE A and you link to my SITE B from monoblogue.us in return. As your monoblogue.us is PR4, a link from a PR6 site will improve your pagerank as well as search engine ranking a lot. And both of our sites are in similar category, this brings extra value to both of our audience.

I had some great partners in United States|us and I hope you could be part of this program.

If you are interested or have any questions, please reply to this message for details.

Here is your reply, for the whole world to see.

I do links for one of four reasons: they are paying advertisers like the ones in my far-right sidebar, worthwhile causes like Troopathon, or they are in a story to either advance the narrative by bringing the source of the information to light or by adding context. I link to my own work a lot of the time, but will often link to other blogs or news sources when I use their information to make my arguments. Lastly, I keep a broad list of sites I link to as a show of support for their journalism, something I have done pretty much since day one.

I have been told by those who know a little something about SEO that I am a “natural” PR4; in other words, I didn’t use SEO tricks to build up my rank but its relevance has come over time as people read it and link to my site as a source of information. Just picking random national links off my site, I found American Thinker is a PR5, Legal Insurrection is a PR6, Right Turn (part of the Washington Post) is a PR7, and Twitchy is a PR7. As for state and local peers – such as the ones listed along with me on the WaPo list – Maryland Juice is a PR5, Maryland Reporter is a PR5, and Center Maryland is a PR4. In one year, my cohort Jackie Wellfonder has built up her Raging Against the Rhetoric site to a PR4 as well. (All of these are also linked in my sidebar.)

So without really trying, each of those sources got to their ranking naturally, not by artificially linking back and forth to sites specifically created just to pump up SEO status in a never-ending cycle of linkage, but not adding to the information available to readers.

At some point, the wheat becomes separated from the chaff. I know Google occasionally changes its algorithm in an attempt to clean out these junk SEO sites and attempt to put legitimate sites at the top of the search engines. But I don’t worry about that, since my audience has generally been built up by word of mouth and social media. The extent of my advertising is business cards I occasionally print at home.

Now if you want to consider this a “bleg,” well, I’m always looking for new advertisers (with recently trimmed rates) and don’t mind checks in the mail or deposits to my PayPal account. But I really wanted to get that off my chest because this isn’t as easy as it looks and there are always people out there who want to take advantage of me and try to screw up my formula for success.

I’ve earned everything I’ve achieved here, and the plan is to keep earning it as long as I feasibly can.

What happened to the conservative blogosphere?

That’s the title of a recent post by Eric Odom of Liberty News, who’s pondering the question after studying the decline of conservative blogs since he last did a survey in 2009.

Well, in one respect Eric is correct when he notes:

Truthfully, blogging takes a lot of work. Time is required and a lot of it if you want readers. Especially now that an active social media presence is needed to drive growth and personal influence.

He’s exactly right on that one, as I would estimate I spend between 15 and 20 hours a week working on this site. That’s not necessarily just doing the writing, but promotion, attending events I cover, and reading other news sites to pick up ideas and trends. I’ve been blessed with a mind which rarely encounters writer’s block, but as a tradeoff readers may notice I veer onto non-political avenues once in awhile. (The best case in point is my Delmarva Shorebirds coverage, mostly during the summer. Local music also finds its way here.)

Yet if I were to survey the many thousands of bloggers who have left the field since 2009, my wager is that a significant number of them have simply traded in their blogs for other communication venues, particularly Twitter. WordPress is pretty easy for me to work with, but it’s no match for Tweeting to those who used to simply link to another post and perhaps add a line or two of commentary. 140 characters is about the length of a good-sized sentence like the example you’re reading, and for many it’s enough to express a thought. If they need a little more space, there’s always a Facebook page. It’s far easier to be the master of a Facebook page or a Twitter account than the servant of a blog site where new content is demanded regularly.

There’s also the idea of having to build and keep an audience, which is difficult because it requires that same consistent approach. I once read that the key to blogging success is to write 2500 words a day, which is generally more than I put in. My output is usually about half that, although my Ten Question Tuesday segments so far have exceeded that 2500-word figure. Of course, I didn’t have to be creative for those aside from coming up with the questions and tenor of the conversation. To be able to write creatively at such a pace it would also be to have my sole source of income and thus far that’s not been a doable option.

It occurred to me that I had my own (partial) list of blogs from back around that time, as the also now-defunct BlogNetNews used to “rank” conservative websites in Maryland. This was the list I had from 2008 as I compiled my own ranking of these sites – out of those twenty I believe this site, Red Maryland, and The Hedgehog Report are the only ones still posting on a regular basis.

Yet while there are few blogs which have managed to hang around in the last half-decade, it doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy, newer contenders – as well as some which weren’t in the BlogNetNews network but have stood the test of time. For example, Blue Ridge Forum began in 2006 and The Vail Spot in 2007. But even after this artificial point, several good sites have sprung up: according to the archives I could find A Conservative Lesbian, The FreeStater Blog, and Anthropocon were created in 2009, while 2010 brought the Potomac TEA Party Report, Cross Purposes, and Old Line Elephant. Even 2012 brought my friend Jackie Wellfonder’s Raging Against the Rhetoric, which proved some out there still feel blogging is a viable option, especially in the wake of Andrew Breitbart’s death. (All these blogs and more are linked on the sidebar.)

I think there was a time when the blogging craze was just that – a craze. Many people got into it, and most found out it wasn’t as easy to build an audience as they thought. But those who have stuck around and found their own niche have turned the internet into a viable alternative news source, so I think Eric’s fears are somewhat unfounded.

Having said that, though, more eyes and ears wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Looking at new friends

December 29, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Looking at new friends 

Last night I did something I’ve been doing quite often over the last few months – adding conservative links to my website.

Now I have no idea just how many blogs link to mine (Alexa says 158, but those could be article links and not just static links like I’m referring to) but I thought it would be interesting to compare what I have links to now vs. what I did 18 months ago. I actually wanted to do a year-to-year but couldn’t find a cached snapshot from last January. It’s close enough for government work, and, come on, it’s the Saturday of the last week of the year. You know as well as I do that the news cycle ain’t exactly peaking at the moment, and today I’m actually working on an exciting new project for 2013.

Anyway, in July 2011 I linked to blogs in the following categories:

  • Commentary and News (24)
  • Delaware (12)
  • Eastern Shore (28)
  • Free State Bloggers (24)
  • Friends of monoblogue (7)

By my public school math, that’s 95 blogs. In the 18 months since, I’ve changed the categories a little but there’s a big difference in the totals:

  • Daily News and Commentary (35)
  • Delaware (9)
  • Eastern Shore (13)
  • Maryland (26)
  • Other Great Blogs (23)

I’ve only gained a net of 11 blogs in that time, but the precipitous drop in Delmarva blogs I link to (from 40 to 22) has been made up for in a national sense, with representatives from across the country now on my “other great blogs” list. For the longest time it seemed like Delmarva had more blogs than the average area but I think the boom has passed. Now it’s difficult to find good blogs which deal with the area in a strictly political sense. (Some may argue that it’s difficult to find good blogs on Delmarva, period.) The days of BlogNetNews and their ranking system are long gone and practically forgotten, as are a lot of the sites once listed there.

I really wasn’t looking to make this a discussion of the Delmarva blogging scene, but we pretty much know who is serious about writing these things now, don’t we?

Meanwhile, there are others who have branched out into doing radio shows and other activities which don’t involve as much writing. That’s all well and good for them, but I suppose I have a face for radio and a voice for print. Being a radio show guest is fine and something I enjoy doing on a far-too-infrequent basis, but I’m not convinced I could commit to a radio show and frankly don’t have the desire to make the time. Several of these new blogging friends of mine are radio show hosts, though, so if you care to give them a listen I encourage you to do so. I found a lot of them through this useful Facebook page.

It’s worth noting that one of my biggest fans branched out into her own website and now writes commentary for a larger website; meanwhile, I now seem to have a financial patron who has hit my tip jar four times this year, plus other monetary support from friends and advertisers.  So maybe I have more influence than ever. As always, I’m grateful for the assistance and feel blessed to have such passionate fans as well as those who have bought my book.

Yet if I’m missing a link feel free to let me know. The only parameters I have are that it’s updated regularly and isn’t simply a link generator. Other than that, I’ll figure out the category and it will be good to go.

An honor to be nominated (again)

October 24, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off on An honor to be nominated (again) 

After a one-year hiatus, my favorite category of the Maryland Outstanding Blog Awards (affectionately known as the Mobbies) is back. monoblogue is one of ten nominees (so far) for Best Political Blog; I’ve also been nominated in the Best News Blog category where I join eight other hopefuls.

This isn’t a new experience for me, as I’ve been nominated twice before in the three-year history of the awards, sponsored by the Baltimore Sun. Since it’s more or less a popularity contest once voting begins and many of the contenders are more local to Baltimore, I figure making the top tier is a pretty good showing for this little ole Eastern Shore blog. (In looking the results up, I have at least finished closer to top than bottom in my previous two tries.)

But maybe I have a couple advantages this time, since my readership and social media reach have grown quite a bit in the last two years. It would be nice to win, but I’m keeping my expectations low since the competition is very good in both categories and there are several who I can say are worthy of victory.

However, I have another personal stake in this as I nominated Jackie Wellfonder’s Raging Against the Rhetoric blog as the Best New Blog. She has a tougher row to hoe because there are 20 nominees so far; obviously she works at the same disadvantages I do insofar as living in the hinterlands. But if there’s someone who can pull this off, I’m confident she can.

Nominations close tomorrow, and voting begins October 29. As I recall, a person can vote once per day.

 

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  • 2018 Election

    Election Day is November 6 for all of us. With the Maryland primary by us and a shorter widget, I’ll add the Delaware statewide federal offices (Congress and U.S. Senate) to the mix once their July 10 filing deadline is passed. Their primary is 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

    Ben Cardin (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Arvin Vohra (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    There are three independent candidates currently listed as seeking nomination via petition: Steve Gladstone, Michael Puskar, and Neal Simon. All have to have the requisite number of signatures in to the state BoE by August 6.

     

    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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