Pulling the plug

October 30, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Mainstream media, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Pulling the plug 

Apparently the GOP has had enough.

I didn’t watch the CNBC debacle the other night, but the political tongues are still wagging about it and RNC Chair Reince Priebus took the drastic action of pulling the remaining GOP debate slated for an NBC network off the air. To many the question is: what took you so long?

It’s long been thought that the news networks (with the exception of Fox News) are less than honest brokers when it comes to the GOP, yet our side dutifully went to them hat in hand to televise a share of the debates. As the story goes, the RNC was already suspicious of NBC. (since they own and operate the notoriously left-wing MSNBC) so they insisted the NBC debate be put on CNBC and stick to economic topics. As we now know, that did not happen.

Certainly Priebus was feeling the heat from the campaigns, some of which were slated to meet this weekend to discuss changes they’d like to see. (One of them was Bobby Jindal’s campaign, whose spokesperson Gail Gitcho called the top-ten debate criteria “delusional.” And she’s right, since polling at the early stage of a campaign is all name recognition.)

The suggestion they’re making sounds vaguely familiar to me: two prime-time debates each night, with the field for each randomly selected. That would have given everyone a shot to improve themselves, particularly in the first debate or two. It worked for Carly Fiorina, but as the debates go on, being outside the top ten becomes a self-perpetuating state, while being in the top ten doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate is doing well. Jeb Bush has better, really cool things to do, you know.

One thing which needs to be done in these debates is get some better questions. We don’t need “gotcha” questions, but substantive ones. Why not a robust debate on entitlements or birthright citizenship? There are several subjects where Republicans have legitimate differences, so let them go at it and even question each other – no time limit, and the moderator just keeps a little order.

Think about this, too: why don’t the Democrats ever do a debate on Fox News? I looked it up and over the last three contested cycles (2016, 2008, 2004) Fox News has shared a feed on ONE Democratic debate, out of about 40 or so. Ask yourself why they don’t try and expand their base and present their ideas to cable’s largest news audience, and maybe the idea of the mainstream media being characterized as a Democratic SuperPAC makes more sense.

It’s too bad I can’t moderate the debate, or at least ask the questions. If you want to discuss middle-class concerns – as these journalists, some of whom make millions of dollars a year, purport to do – get some questions from average folks about real issues they face. (No, fantasy football is not a real issue.)

I decided to do my own research before I made my decision, and I’m glad I did. When debates became more about entertainment than enlightenment, that’s where they lost this voter.

Mainstream media showing bias again?

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Last night, as I was finishing my article on yesterday’s rally in Easton, I received an e-mail from Cathy with this piece, which she called “How the Media Distorts a Pro-Life Rally.”

Read on and I will have more thoughts at the end.

Yesterday 128 protesters gathered at the Planned Parenthood facility in Easton, Maryland, from 9 to 11 a.m., while thousands of protesters gathered in front of about 300 PP facilities across the nation. According to the Planned Parenthood website, they have about 700 facilities total. So what, you say.

That information that I just wrote took a few seconds to obtain online, but the WBOC reporter that covered the protest in Easton managed to get the first sentence of her article incorrect.

Pro-life protests happened in front of all Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide Saturday afternoon calling for federal defunding of the nonprofit.

Notice that it states that protests happened in front of all PP clinics on Saturday afternoon. According to my math, 300 protests do not cover 700 facilities, nor is 9 to 11 a.m. an afternoon event.

After reading the first sentence, I knew that we were not going to get unbiased coverage for our event and I was correct.

Next comes a quote from “authority,” the interim president and CEO of Maryland’s Planned Parenthood, Dr. Amina Chaudhry:

Planned Parenthood’s medical providers and staff are the best in the country. We have the highest professional standards, and we take swift action if we are ever aware of an instance where those standards aren’t being met.

There is no evidence to back the claims; in fact, the whole protest was over the videos which showed evidence of quite the opposite nature. But her assertions are allowed to stand and are followed by a quote from a protester whose profession and qualifications are not noted.

But protestors including David Smith of Parsonsburg, are convinced Planned Parenthood is practicing body and organ harvesting, without actually having seen said videos.

“There are several videos out there and I have not seen them, but we really believe from what I understand that once anyone sees those videos, they’re just so horrific,” said Smith.

The reporter took her time and asked many protestors for statements until she found the perfect one from a protester who had not actually seen the videos. It was disingenuous of her to troll about for that quote when there were numerous protestors that could have addressed the videos.

In fact, although I introduced myself to her and was clearly in charge of the event, she did not ask me a single question.

Next the reporter returns to her “authority” for an attack on the “right wing extremists.”

Chaudhry further explained in a statement that the attacks on the nonprofit are steered by right-wing extremist agendas.

“Extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood’s mission and services are making outrageous and completely false claims. They are engaged in a fraud, and other claims they’ve made have been discredited and disproven.

The group behind these videos has close ties with organizations and individuals who have been linked to the firebombing of abortion clinics and threats to the physical safety of doctors who provide abortion. The real agenda of these baseless attacks has become totally clear: to ban abortion and limit women’s access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. The vast majority of the public rejects this extreme political agenda and rejects the fraudulent campaign behind it.”

In a few sentences, the group of peaceful citizens who came to stand up for the right of the unborn baby to live rather than be killed in the womb and sold for profit was turned into extremists that support firebombing abortion clinics and threatening doctors.

If you take the time to watch the videos, which I have, you will see doctors casually talking about altering the abortion procedure so that they can acquire better fetal tissues to sell for profit. Changing an operation in order to get fetal hearts, lungs, livers, etc. undamaged is illegal in itself.

Who is the extremist here? The peaceful protestor who wants the baby to be able to live or the doctor who is cheerfully describing how they destroy the baby in the most profitable way? Another doctor describes turning the baby into the breech presentation so that they can deliver the fetus without crushing its skull. It is better for selling to have the whole baby undamaged, except that the baby is dead, of course.

The reporter does admit that this protest is unprecedented in scope. Never have so many protestors joined in so many places simultaneously, but she quickly recovers with a closing statement that:

(A) number of state agency officials in Georgia, Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota and Florida have investigated Planned Parenthood clinics there and have not found any evidence of illegal activity.

There are about 700 PP facilities in the country. It is entirely plausible that not every facility is involved in the baby parts for profit scheme. The fact that some clinics have not been proven guilty, does not prove all of them innocent.

How biased these reporters are! All protestors are linked to firebombing clinics, but not all PP facilities are linked to selling baby parts.

It has been my experience, that whenever I have had the misfortune to be interviewed or take part in an activity where reporters cover the event, the coverage is almost always inaccurate, incorrect, and often completely biased.

That was certainly the case for today’s coverage of the #ProtestPP rally in Easton yesterday. It’s not just yesterday, though – CNS News has tracked the coverage devoted to the scandal so far, and, shall we say, it is lacking.

Here is a link to a Washington Post piece on the #ProtestPP events that shows a more evenhanded approach.

Compare the two and see for yourself the difference. Our local WBOC report should be filed under opinion pieces.

Editor’s note redux: The Post piece wasn’t perfect either but was better.

But when are we going to drop the pretext that mainstream reporters are unbiased, yet folks like us who write for the “pajamas media” are unworthy of trust because we have a slant? I will cheerfully admit I see things through the lens of a conservative.

I was asked by Cathy to come along to document the event and take photos (it doesn’t hurt that I am pro-life myself, though.) I think I could have done a better job in some respects, but I believe I did what journalists are supposed to do – create an account of what really happened there. It’s why I took the time to video and upload the statements of both Andy Harris and Mike Smigiel.

It reminded me of how the initial TEA Party rallies were covered. If those who create the “news” don’t agree with your narrative it’s dropped down the memory hole.

I think the better approach for WBOC would have been to place the opposing view at the end, sort of like the State of the Union does.

I also think we should all thank Cathy for her efforts. But like they said during the rally, this is not a one-day thing – so there’s time for the media to get it right.

Predicting the spin cycle

September 23, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2014, Mainstream media, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Predicting the spin cycle 

I’m back in the swing of news, and this gem from DaTechGuy hit home because it’s so, so predictable. The stories he cites are the ones which can be used to prop up Barack Obama’s approval numbers or distract from what’s really going on – in the grand scheme of things, is the NFL scandal really that important or newsworthy? It’s pretty sad when actions on the field take a distant back seat to actions which happened months ago far off the gridiron.

But how long have we known the mainstream media is in the tank for liberals? I mean, Dan Bongino’s supporters have stated chapter and verse that at least one major newspaper in his district ignores him, and it plays right into the outsider image Dan is trying to cultivate in this election. Chances are that same paper will endorse opponent John Delaney, as most local newspapers tend to endorse incumbents over challengers unless the incumbent is a Republican and even less likely when the Republican is a TEA Party adherent.

I’ve seen this over and over again over the last twenty to thirty years I’ve studied the media. And notice how that cadre of news dinosaurs tut-tuts at any challenger to its dominance, whether it was conservative talk radio a generation ago or the rise of the internet media in the opening years of this century? I may not have the circulation of a Baltimore Sun or even a Salisbury Daily Times, but the potential is always there for something I say to be cast before a huge state, national, or even global audience. Their lack of a monopoly on news is what frightens the other side.

So it’s quite predictable that their coverage dictates what is considered news to the masses, but at the same time people aren’t being informed as well about important issues of the day. In my youth I would read the local paper cover-to-cover, and it would be maybe 32 pages – a 12-page section of national and state news with the last 2 pages being editorial content, a 16-page second section with local news, 4 pages or so of sports, a few pages of classified ads, and the comics, and a 4-page “Peach Section” with the features, a smidgen of entertainment news, and the TV listings. It seems now the lines between all of this have been blurred, with entertainment and sports news hitting the front pages and editorials being placed willy-nilly as part of the news.

In short, the avalanche and overload of information we’re fed on a 24/7/365 basis may be allowing the most important stuff to slip by unnoticed, and that’s a shame.

Missing in action again

It’s almost becoming a running joke now.

Larry Hogan can crow as he wishes about raising $450,000 in the initial months of his campaign (although a significant portion was his own money, as I’ll document later this week) and make hay about being on both TV and radio in most parts of the state, but the reputation he’s building as a guy who avoids debates and tough questions is getting harder to shake.

Let’s begin with the television ads. As I speculated when I first wrote about it, it was indeed a cable buy, but now it’s spread across most of the state:

Two days after his campaign reported raising more than $450,000 in its first filing period, gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan significantly expanded his TV and radio advertising campaign.  His first 30-second ad entitled “Dedicated” which began running in 11 Maryland counties on April 3 is now airing on cable networks in a total of 19 counties.

The presser mentions radio, and I can vouch that the Hogan campaign is on our local talk station since I heard the ad Thursday. It’s a fairly good spot, but using the live audience feed on what Larry had to say in his stump speech was a little distracting because of the applause lines used. He also mentioned last Saturday when I spoke to him before our Lincoln Day Dinner that he had done another interview that day with WGMD-FM out of Georgetown, Delaware – a station popular in the Ocean City/Ocean Pines area. This is one area Hogan has used to advantage – one-on-one interviews where he can take his time to answer questions and steer the conversation back to his main campaign topics. When the questions depart from those areas, in at least one well-known instance Hogan’s called them “crazy.

In the release, Hogan is quoted as saying:

Through our one-on-one meetings with voters in their homes, places of work and communities and now with statewide advertising, Boyd and I are bringing our message of fiscal restraint and common sense reform to Marylanders who simply can’t afford another four years of single party rule and  incompetence by Annapolis elites.

Yet that message can’t seem to stand the scrutiny of direct questioning with other candidates present. On May 9 the Maryland Public Policy Institute is hosting a GOP gubernatorial debate and just three of the four candidates are participating. I’ll give you three guesses as to who declined, first two don’t count. You would think Larry can change pre-scheduled events with a month’s advance notice when he had a late change to his official announcement due to a predicted snowstorm (which indeed occurred.) So the excuse that “we have a lot of scheduling conflicts” won’t wash if he misses the May 31 debate scheduled for here in Salisbury.

Another candidate who developed the reputation of missing events early in the campaign has cleaned up his act to a large extent, and the party he’s promoting at the upcoming state convention in Bethesda promises to be a tightly-packed gathering if the guest list is accurate. Emceed by WMAL radio’s Larry O’Connor, the sponsor list includes “Ben Carson, Jr, Jimmy Kemp, Henry Marraffa, Richard Rothschild, Armstrong Williams and many others.” Most readers know who Ben Carson, Sr. is but this event features his son. Similarly, Jimmy Kemp is the son of onetime GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp (1996) and, like his dad, a former pro football quarterback. Marraffa and Rothschild are local elected officials, but Armstrong Williams is best known as a syndicated columnist. So it’s an eclectic group of conservatives who will be featured at Lollar’s soiree, and perhaps Lollar will get a Carson endorsement after all.

Hogan first Republican gubernatorial hopeful to buy television time

While David Craig got the jump on Larry Hogan for radio campaign ads, the Change Maryland founder has struck back with a 30-second TV ad called ‘Dedicated’:

I found it a very good ad, simple as an introduction to the candidate and his main campaign philosophy. Perhaps my only knock on it would be the fact it was shot in black and white, a technique usually reserved for the target of negative ads. The usage of black and white in an introductory commercial, therefore, seems a little stark.

While promising an “aggressive media effort” Hogan stated about the introduction:

Just two months ago I announced my candidacy, and since that time we have focused on building a campaign that will compete head-to-head with the Democratic nominee. The incredible outpouring of support from Marylanders we have received enables us to begin our TV and radio campaign earlier than we ever anticipated. This next phase of our campaign will help take our message of fiscal restraint and common sense government to every corner of the state.

Naturally, there is a lack of specifics about exactly where the ad is being placed, although John Wagner of the Washington Post notes it’s in the “Baltimore market.” Whether it’s a cable buy or over-the-air I cannot ascertain.

But with the two leading contenders on the air, it means Ron George and Charles Lollar will have to scramble to raise the money required for their own ad buys. George will be able to restart his campaign, which has been stuck in low gear because of the General Assembly session that wraps up its work tomorrow night; meanwhile, Lollar and running mate Ken Timmerman recently wrapped up their “Economic Recovery Tour” which bypassed an area much in need of an economic recovery – the Eastern Shore. (Lollar is slated to appear at our Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night, though.)

At this point neither George nor Lollar seem to have the kind of juice which can buy media advertising, although we should have a better idea of the financial picture of all the candidates in the coming weeks.

Update: I’m told Fox News is one of the outlets for the Hogan spot, so presumably it’s a cable buy.

Spreading the message

March 21, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Spreading the message 

A couple weeks ago I noted that David Craig was first on the radio with advertising buys in the Baltimore market. Apparently the ad buys have now gone pretty much statewide, but with a focus on rural areas like the Eastern Shore and western Maryland.

To me, it’s surprising that more candidates haven’t done the same, well, unless they don’t have the money. Since most of them are taking public financing (except for Charles Lollar) they’re probably still amassing the seed money required for the matching funds – we will know more in coming weeks when campaign finance reports come out.

From what I recall about looking into this for our party and GOTV messages, radio done right can go a long way and be cost-effective, although some would argue that television time on certain cable networks is also a good way to go. But I daresay that Craig is probably paying half of what he was paying in Baltimore down here, and in the case of WCBM’s programming, could be on many of the same shows since they do the familiar Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin lineup from noon to 9 p.m. If you want to reach likely conservative voters, it’s probably the place to start.

That outlet may be the only one available to Republican candidates come June. Something tells me that Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler will be filling the airwaves with 30-second TV spots so conservatives may not want to watch the television news beginning about Memorial Day unless you want to see back-to-back televised debates via the 30-second spot. This will be particularly true in the Baltimore and Washington markets, although they will probably have some TV spots on the stations in Salisbury and Hagerstown, too. With radio you may hear a couple statewide candidates in one commercial segment, then hear the others plus a local one or two at the next one.

But Craig seems to have the lead in media three months out from the primary. Elections may not be won at this point, but they can be lost and not being able to spread the message is generally crippling to a statewide campaign.

Ducking the real question

December 21, 2013 · Posted in Mainstream media · 1 Comment 

For a television show which drew 11.8 million viewers for its season four premiere over the summer, ‘Duck Dynasty’ has become the topic du jour on everyone’s lips. (Just as a comparison, the broadcast network show ‘NCIS’ drew about 19 million viewers the week of December 9.)

Before I continue, let me say I am not a regular viewer of the show; however, I have seen enough bits and pieces from having a 13-year-old devout follower of the series in the household to be familiar with the premise of the show, not to mention the four guys who look like stand-ins for a ZZ Top video. (Which makes sense, since the ZZ Top song ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ is the show’s theme song.) Moreover, doing my outside job has made me aware that anything with the ‘Duck Dynasty” logo and/or the Robertson family – and I mean anything – is available at most local stores, particularly Walmarts. There’s no need to discount it like you might the remnants of a failed blockbuster movie or television series because the stuff has been flying off the shelves. (By the way, it should be pointed out this accrues to the benefit of the A&E Network.)

So what’s amazing to me about this story is the reaction from a small portion of the interview, taken out of the context of the whole. But then again, in reading the piece, you feel like writer Drew Magary is holding himself one step away from openly laughing about how much of a bunch of Bible-thumping hicks this whole Robertson clan is, like Drew’s really the smartest guy in the room and how did he ever get stuck with this assignment? I’ll put up with them for now, the attitude screams, but wait until I get back to New York or Washington (or wherever Drew’s from) and start writing this one, complete with plenty of NSFW language! The target audience of GQ – which is pehaps the older brothers of the now-infamous “pajama boy” – will simply see this as yet another reinforcement of how life in flyover country is something to be ignored, not emulated.

Honestly, I think people were caught off guard by the swift reaction from the LGBT community to the money quote from the story. There’s no doubt in my mind the most radical among them were already bothered by the show’s popularity because of its message of morality and lack of so-called “diversity” – it doesn’t fit in with the usual politically correct pap which most network shows have become as they preach tolerance of all but a Biblical worldview. Come on, these guys say grace before they eat. Fearing this prospect of a boycott by a small but vocal minority, the A&E network suspended Phil from the show.

Yet if you read farther into the interview, you’ll find this fate wasn’t totally unexpected:

“Let’s face it,” (Phil Robertson) says. “Three, four, five years, we’re out of here. You know what I’m saying? It’s a TV show. This thing ain’t gonna last forever. No way.”

At this point, they are three months away from the 2-year mark (the show premiered in March 2012) but the overnight success of the show is probably at the crest of its wave – before too long, some other pop culture phenomenon will take over the public consciousness and ‘Duck Dynasty’ will be a footnote. An extremely well-marketed footnote, but a footnote nonetheless. It will certainly eliminate the talk about Phil’s son Willie Robertson running for Congress.

Still, there is the question of how much backlash the radical LGBT crowd will receive from all this. Regardless of how crassly Phil Robertson put it, the truth is for most men women are far more desirable as partners. That’s the reality. Try as the LGBT radicals might to redefine marriage and family, there’s no substitute for biology and if guys want to carry on the family name, so to speak, they need a woman to help them out somehow. One might consider that God’s plan. Certainly it would be preferred that the guys hang on to their desire until they find the right woman, get married, and settle down, but that’s really going to take a sea change in societal mores on the order of a Great Awakening to occur – so start small like the Robertsons seem to be doing. Every little bit helps.

Those who complain about lack of tolerance might want to consider they’re traveling on a two-way street. Erick Erickson wrote a good piece on RedState yesterday about the tendency of those offended to wish to “punish and destroy” opponents rather than exhibit the tolerance they demand.

For those who were determined to drive ‘Duck Dynasty’ off the air, it’s obvious the idea of ‘live and let live’ is beyond their limited worldview.

A push from the left

It’s not often I agree with the Baltimore Sun, and for good reason: their editorial stance is almost completely at odds with the best interests of the state.

So when I found out about a blog post by former Gazette political columnist Barry Rascovar chastising David Craig as being an “environment-killer” – based primarily on the information related by the Sun article by Michael Dresser – I had two reactions.

First, one has to note that Rascovar has 42 years in the political game; in other words, he had covered Annapolis since 1971. With the exception of Bob Ehrlich, one-term Republican U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall and liberal Republican U.S. Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias, Maryland has been primarily a one-party state the entire time he’s covered politics. Naturally he seems to operate under the assumption it always will be; on the other hand my aim is to break that vicious cycle of governing against our own best interests by pointing out the hypocrisy and lunacy of the liberal stranglehold on the state. So I have to question the grizzled veteran on this one, particularly since he’s an ardent supporter of the “rain tax.”

This leads to my second reaction: why do they care what Craig does anyway? We know they’ll support the Democrat in the race. Here’s what Dresser accused Craig of:

Among other things, Craig wants to scale back Maryland’s role in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, give the state’s business department a greater voice in environmental and health regulations, and impose limits on how long low-income people can collect food stamps and other benefits — even if it means refusing federal money.

May I ask what’s wrong with that?

For one thing, our cleanup plans do not seem to account for the potential impact of cleaning up the sediment behind the Conowingo Dam, which leaches out pollutants after bouts of severe weather. And guess who’s primarily responsible for placing it there? (Hint: it’s not Maryland, and certainly not the ten counties collecting the “rain tax.”) I have said for several years that the best thing we can do going forward is take a breather from further regulations so we can see if what’s in place now is really working. Let the states upriver suffer for their part in this and quit blaming development and chicken farmers.

And let’s be bluntly honest here: do the MDE and Chesapeake Bay Foundation really want the Bay clean? If it ever became so, neither group would have a real reason for existence anymore, and as we all know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They know they have the whip hand over business and development in this state just as long as they keep giving out Cs and Ds on Bay cleanliness.

This goes hand-in-hand with the second point about “giv(ing) the business department a greater voice in environmental and health regulations.” Maybe the better way of putting it is to actually listen to what they have to say, since Martin O’Malley ignores their pleas. In this day and age, it’s doubtful any business wants to get caught making the same kind of mess government makes when their sewage treatment plants fail.

Moreover, Rascovar berates Craig for wanting to eliminate the state’s Critical Areas Law. So here’s my question: if a person can have a septic system as close as 100 feet from a well and have it be deemed safe to drink, what gives the state the right to regulate development 1,000 feet from tidal waters? The state should indeed junk the Critical Areas law, leaving it up to individual counties to replace it if desired. Seems like a good compromise to me as it brings power closer to the people. It also allows an uber-liberal county like Montgomery County to crank that Critical Areas restriction up to a mile; hell, just put the whole county under it. They don’t need jobs or development, but we here on the Shore could use some.

Barry also panics at the thought of the state refusing federal money, recoiling in horror at the prospect of placing a time limit on how long people can live on the dole. But wasn’t that already federal law? I realize that people can have a sweet deal living off the taxpayers, with Maryland being one of the more lucrative destinations, but shouldn’t they do something productive instead?

Besides, Barry may not be considering the long strings attached when we cash that check from Uncle Sam. I’d rather see how independent we can be, thanks.

In the end, though, the trick is how we sell these common-sense ideas to a population which, among other things, considers Rascover a learned expert. Certainly he’s covered Annapolis for about 35 more years than I have, with mine being a much more indirect basis to boot, but since when does that tenure grant expertise on the issues? He sounds like a liberal who can fit right in with those already ruining the state. Sadly, in the words of one observer:

I guess to a liberal columnist acting like a jerk to state troopers and being conservative are in the same category.

This is in reference to the foibles of Doug Gansler in the Rascovar piece, reminding us that Doug is a typical Maryland liberal who seems to believe laws and regulations are only for the unwashed masses. Ones he doesn’t agree with can be ignored. To be fair, much of the article is about Gansler’s issues, but only in the respect in which it may damage his campaign. No one really cares, since Brown is just another pea in the same pod.

I suppose the problem comes down to this line:

None of what Craig proposes is realistic. A heavily Democratic legislature wouldn’t tolerate the notions he is advancing. He’s seriously harmed his electability.

Well, there’s an easy solution: get rid of the deadwood Democrats who are impeding true progress in this state. Imagine how much better this state would be if it followed conservative principles with a Republican-led legislature.

There was a saying popular in the era in which I grew up, about a decade and a half into Rascovar’s career: question authority. I think it was probably about that time that he grew comfortable with his status in the state and decided the status quo was all right with him. Well, it’s not all right with me nor should it be with thinking Marylanders.

We definitely need a change. If David Craig wants to run to the right, it’s not “pandering to the TEA Party,” it’s exhibiting the common sense sorely lacking in this state.

37th annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

As is often the case, it was exceedingly hot, quite humid, and a sprinkle of rain fell on the Somers Cove Marina. But thousands braved all that for crabs, clams, and hot and cold running politicians. This is my story.

On any other summer Wednesday afternoon, one can stand near the Somers Cove Marina and see that sight. But yesterday it looked more like this.

The brand new Craig/Haddaway signs were in evidence, as were a handful of shirts.

However, the pair in question didn’t show up until the event was somewhat underway. Their entrance was rather understated compared to some others, as I’ll show later. I caught them just as they entered the gate.

Fellow GOP contender Delegate Ron George had long been set up by then, with his own tent.

He may have had the best giveaway item as well – ice cold bottles of water stashed in a cooler behind the palm cards and brochures.

Ron proved himself to be a man of many hats. Okay, at least just a woven straw one.

A more modest presence was shown by draft candidate Charles Lollar, who brought his wife Rosha along. Here they pose with Wicomico County Republican Club president Jackie Wellfonder.

Later I caught Charles chatting with host Delegate Charles Otto (left, in hat), who represents Somerset County in the House of Delegates.

Another would-be Delegate making her Tawes debut as a candidate was Mary Beth Carozza, who’s seeking the District 38C seat. She had a few assistants in tow as well as an attractive sign.

She was one of many local Republicans and activists who were well-represented in their tent.

We even had the infamous “pin the tax” sign. Too bad we didn’t have it out where more could see it, but it would have been soaked by the misters thoughtfully added by the Somerset County folks. Did I say it was hot?

Observing all this was state Republican Party Chair Diana Waterman, who indeed was carrying a bottle of water.

Also making a presence was Larry Hogan (right), whose Change Maryland group now boasts a 50,000-strong Facebook following. He was making no indication of a possible political run today, but it’s intriguing that he took the time and came down to Tawes.

Hogan has made the point that his group is not restricted to Republicans; a significant portion are independents and Democrats. And the latter group was well-represented at Tawes, too.

Front-runner and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown was also casually late, but had a gaggle of young supporters trailing him. He’s sort of obscured in the center of the photo.

Brown’s first stop upon entering the gate?

There were more modest presences from Attorney General (and gubernatorial hopeful) Doug Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot, who considered the race for the top spot but opted to seek re-election. (My photo of Gansler didn’t come out well.)

One other Democratic gubernatorial hopeful whose presence surprised me was Heather Mizeur, pictured here with Salisbury City Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.

Her formal announcement must have been a brief affair, as she and a small band of supporters made the trek down to Crisfield. Mizeur told me it was about her tenth time attending – obviously first as a statewide hopeful.

Also carrying the Democratic banner was the State Senator from District 38, Jim Mathias. He had a decent-sized group of supporters who must have been busy putting up a half-dozen 4×8 signs along Maryland Route 413 leading into Crisfield.

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton (right) was sporting a “‘bury” sticker to represent his town.

I found Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt enjoying his lunch early on.

Pollitt explained that it’s easier to eat on the pavilion side because he would be greeted by more people in the party’s tent. Makes sense to me – same reason I eat a little at a time.

In fact, a large percentage of those enjoying the food were well away from the political. They were being entertained by the DJs on the left of the photo.

A number of other businesses were represented at Tawes as well, although to me the number seemed down from previous years.

Still, lobbyist Bruce Bereano had his corner. Bruce Bereano ALWAYS has his corner, and it’s always full of Annapolis politicians from both sides of the aisle.

It also always has this nice touch and tribute to the late Somerset County Delegate Page Elmore.

And of course, there was the media. Tawes was crawling with them.

In WBOC’s case, not only did they have the remote truck and the flyover by Chopper 16, the ‘Outdoors Delmarva’ crew was there too. Also covering the event was competitor WMDT-TV channel 47, WBAL radio, and reporters from the Salisbury Daily Times and Baltimore Sun, among others I probably missed.

That doesn’t count the alternative media. The Red Maryland crew was interviewing a number of Republicans – here it was Ron George’s head fundraiser Hillary Pennington of Stratgic Victory Consulting.

Brian was also kind enough to query me, so we’ll see if mine made the cut this evening.

Eventually the crowd began to trickle out and another year’s Tawes event was in the books. There was actually a light shower as I was leaving, which didn’t bother me in the least. A lot of fellowship and fun was had by all.

The vibe of the event promises to be different next year. An earlier primary now means that the Tawes event will occur once the major party nominees are known, so it’s uncertain how much time and expense they will invest in the gathering.

One other note of interest: while I did see Blaine Young there this year, the presence he had was minimal. This leads me to believe he may be stepping aside from the gubernatorial race to concentrate on a local run; otherwise he would have had a tent space as he did last year.

Speculation aside, the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce put on another wonderful event – kudos to the volunteers who make the event one the late Governor can indeed be proud of.

Why I’m choosing Collins Bailey

In February, Alex Mooney confirmed what some had suspected all along: he would be leaving the Chair position of the Maryland Republican Party to pursue other political opportunities. As the party bylaws state, the First Vice-Chair took over the duties of running the state party and that First Vice-Chair was Diana Waterman.

I have been directly involved in the state party since 2006, and this isn’t the first time we’ve been through this rodeo. In 2009 embattled Chair Jim Pelura resigned – however, just before the Fall Convention that year First Vice-Chair Chris Cavey announced he would not seek the job full-time for the remaining year on Pelura’s term and the MDGOP instead overwhelmingly elected Audrey Scott.

(The original version of this post incorrectly stated Chris Cavey served on an interim basis as Chair; he reminded me – see comment – that was not so. Unlike this year with Alex Mooney, Jim Pelura served the entire sixty days between the announcement of his resignation and the selection of Audrey Scott at the Fall 2009 convention. Error on the blogger, if you’re scoring at home.)

And in looking at this more recent race, we’re actually dealing with many of the same issues we dealt with back in 2009. In reading through what each of the three candidates has to say about the race, it seemed like three main themes came up: fundraising, communication, and goals for the 2014 election. Specific to each candidate, this is what I took away from their ideas.

Diana Waterman looks to mine some of the former donors who may have stopped or just donated to national candidates. She also promises personal meetings with donors and wants to assist counties in developing their own fundraising strategies for 2014. It’s a sound conservative approach but doesn’t really depart from the plan we have now or the top-down thinking. I know in our county we have ideas for fundraising but we’re never sure what sort of follow-through or assistance we can expect from the state party, if any. At times, it may not even be needed.

On the other hand, while Greg Kline hasn’t yet firmed up his specific plan, his overall goal is to set electoral goals as a product to sell while expanding the pie of potential donors. I like the concept of “1914” but because this plan is still in the process of creation, we lose more valuable time getting it together.

The things which appeal to me with Collins Bailey regarding fundraising are the specificity of his goals – $800,000 by the 2014 election is actually rather attainable – and the idea of expanding the pool of donors through online fundraising. I was actually considering the next point as a separate post, but I think I’ll bring this example into my writing here.

The other day I got one of my frequent e-mails from Organizing Against America For Action, which detailed that they had raised money from 109,582 supporters with an average donation of $44 apiece. While $5 million is modest for a national organization with millions of e-mail addresses on file, imagine how many people it would take to raise, say, $240,000 for the party at $40 apiece over the internet. We would be 30% of the way toward our November 2014 goal with a minimum of effort and the assistance of just 6,000 Republicans.

Do you know what the total internet fundraising was for the party from January 2011 to September 2012? $31,352. That’s it. We can do a LOT better – in my estimation we are vastly underutilizing the internet. Advantage Bailey.

Second is communication, which is a hot topic of mine. Needless to say, with the decision already made by Diana Waterman regarding the RNC Rules Committee controversy, I don’t have a lot of confidence she will work to improve communication. Note that I’m not talking about the means of communication but the content of communication. Just like in the arena of fundraising, the MDGOP hasn’t taken advantage of social media and new technology and Diana is part of the team which seemingly sat on its hands.

Meanwhile, Greg Kline gets it partially right in terms of utilizing the new media – and why not? He’s a member of it, as am I. The party should be keeping us in the loop because Lord knows they’re not getting a fair shake from the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post anytime soon; meanwhile, Martin O’Malley and Democrats have their narratives set for them.

But Collins Bailey goes a little beyond that to embrace what he calls an “integrated web presence,” utilizing the social media side of the equation for messaging, fundraising, and outreach. And I believe Collins would also be amenable to following the best aspects of the Kline plan, as Greg would probably lean on advice from Collins. To me, this second area is a wash between Kline and Bailey, as both of them seem to “get it” moreso than Diana does based on her brief track record.

Finally, we have the 2014 goals. Diana Waterman’s goals are relatively modest, though, as she’s looking toward 2020 to achieve her plan. There are two basic problems I see with that deadline: one is that 2020 is not a state election year (and would feature an incumbent President running for re-election as we had in 2012) and the second is that we will have missed the opportunity to reset Congressional and legislative districts for more fairness in the next decade. The time to set that up will be 2018, yet she’s happy to have just a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Kline’s “1914 Plan” is simple: get that 19-seat minority next year to stop bad legislation or sustain vetoes if we should elect a Republican governor. Greg also preaches the importance of filling out the ballot, wishing to recruit a Republican candidate for every contest on the ballot. Yet what are the long-term goals?

Again, Bailey goes a lot further. And damn it, we should have no less of a goal than turning this state Republican as soon as possible. Did the Democrats sulk and moan that all was lost when they lost Government House in 2002 and saw George W. Bush win nationally in 2004? No – they obfuscated, attacked, and played to win, which is what they indeed accomplished in 2006 and 2008. While we as a state and nation are the worse for it, just remember the stated goal of Maryland Democrats was to “bury (Republicans) upside-down, and it will be ten years before they crawl out again.” Well, I’d like to advance that timetable by a couple years and chuck some of the most useless politicians the nation has ever seen – those Democrats who rule our state with an iron fist – down into a hole of their own making. They’ve taxed us, regulated us, worked to take away our guns, gave us the gateway drug to societal breakdown with same-sex marriage, and made the state a magnet for illegal immigrants. That’s a pretty deep hole they’ve dug and we need to give them a push and grab the shovel to fill it in.

What’s quite funny, though, is that Collins is probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If he doesn’t win, Bailey is happy to work with whoever does. So allow me to share something with you.

Last Wednesday, our four Lower Shore counties held a quad-county meeting as we always do prior to a convention. Collins spoke first, presented his ideas and answered a few questions; meanwhile, Joe Crawford was passing out his literature to those attending. Fairly typical.

Next up was Brian Griffiths, representing Greg Kline, who came by himself. As he began to speak, he started passing around Greg’s literature when Collins interrupted him. Brian gave him a piece when Collins said, “no, give me half,” and proceeded to pass it around the opposite table. To me, that’s the difference between a leader and a statesman, and it’s little gestures like that which convey to me the intent of Collins Bailey to be a rock-solid steward of the Maryland GOP.

That’s not to take anything away from Greg Kline, for whom I have deep respect as someone who has helped blaze a trail for Maryland’s new media. The one key concern I had on his behalf may not come to pass; if it does now I think we know how to deal with it. If Greg’s fortunate enough to win, I’m happy to work with him in carrying out the “1914” Plan, particularly since I have a sneaking hunch I live in one of those targeted districts.

If Diana Waterman wins, I hope she can work with whoever is elected as the new First Vice-Chair and – once those of us who care get her aligned in the right direction insofar as listening to the grassroots rather than those who seem to treat the MDGOP as a place to wield their microscopic bit of power – work with her on improving our chances in 2014 and not some far-off election cycle.

Originally I was planning on listening to the Dorchester County candidate forum tonight before I made up my mind. But with the voluminous information made available through the internet and social media on the candidates, it occurred to me that there’s already the tools out there for most to do their homework.

But it was that gesture in Fruitland, reinforced by the candid assessment and glowing endorsement of Gary Rumsey of St. Mary’s County, which tipped the scales. I decided that, even though I now have a stake in the race, those who know me also probably believe I’ll still be a fair arbiter of what’s said later tonight in Cambridge. That post will probably be the last thing I write before heading off to Timonium since I’m sure I will pre-write something unrelated to the convention for Saturday.

You know, it’s sort of funny. Originally I thought Collins was some sort of stalking horse for Diana Waterman but now chances are better and better he may walk off with the whole shooting match.

It’s time to put the bickering and acrimony behind us, and I think the best healer will be Collins Bailey. He doesn’t care about credit, just that the job is done right – and we have a LOT of work to do. He deserves your vote Saturday.

A question of reputation

In the parlor game which we in Maryland call the race for the Republican party chairman’s seat, a fair amount of hay has been made  – even a couple years ago, when the event actually happened and way before Alex Mooney even considered resigning and handing over the hot potato to her – about interim Chair Diana Waterman deciding to name a black cow “Oprah.” Admittedly, that’s not the brightest move but to me that’s not necessarily going to disqualify Waterman – certainly I feel it’s much less damning than Diana’s complete mishandling of the whole RNC Rules Committee situation and its associated miscommunication.

But there is another question of perception in the race which needs to be answered to by challenger Greg Kline. Obviously his supporters are going to think it’s no big deal and his detractors may point to this and call it grounds for immediate disqualification. I bring this up to be fair warning on where I think it could lead and as what I think is a valid point to be made in the race.

If you listen to Red Maryland radio you will hear that one of the sponsors is Kline, who is a practicing attorney as well as one of several Red Maryland show hosts. But Greg’s bread and butter may be an avocation which turns off the soccer moms among us, for he promotes himself as a specialist in defending those accused of drunk driving. The website he promotes on the canned Red Maryland spot is simply called Anne Arundel DUI. Even though it was last updated about the time Diana Waterman was picking out names for a little black calf, the site gives somewhat generic legal advice (and a fair bit of self-promotion) for the person who’s had one too many.

There’s no question that those accused deserve professional representation in a court of law, and obviously drunk driving is a serious offense which has led to thousands of needless tragedies and could land those accused in deep legal hot water. But what perception would the press assign to a party which elects a drunk driving attorney as its chair – even though it’s not the majority of his work, according to this site.

Yet even as he’s running Kline makes no secret about his specialty:

Mr. Kline has extensive experience representing DUI/DWI defendants and is the author of the Anne Arundel DUI blog, which is full of helpful information for anyone facing a alcohol related driving charge.

So by the same token that naming a black cow “Oprah” disqualifies Diana Waterman, does the fact Greg Kline occasionally represents the reprobates among us who abuse the freedom we still have to drink alcohol take him out of contention?

(Just to be fair, Collins Bailey is a self-described lumber broker and owner of a lumber company. But surely some 2×4 he sold failed and caused an injury to someone.)

Indeed, we may be descending to the trivial in this race as the camps try to outdo each other in promoting their candidate at the expense of the others. But I’m figuring that a press which does its level best to dig up the absolute worst things about Republicans and promote their self-inflicted wounds – even if the facts don’t jibe with the presumed narrative – is going to store that little tidbit away as well as the whole “Oprah” affair and anything they can find out by snooping around Collins Bailey.

When we as Maryland conservatives, pro-liberty freedom fighters, TEA Party denizens, or whatever label we’re currently using to describe ourselves figure out that we’re not going to get a fair shake in the media and begin to use our own methods to fight back, that’s the time we begin to succeed. After all, we’ve known for decades that “politics ain’t beanbag” so we need to fight with the facts we know are on our side.

Remember, perception is reality.

Ten Question Tuesday: February 12, 2013

February 12, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Bloggers and blogging, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten Question Tuesday: February 12, 2013 

Today’s guest is a rising star in the new media, in part because she’s an entrepreneur who’s not afraid to get involved. And while I have not met her in person, I wanted to get her insight on the new media and her part in it.

I first heard of The Brenner Brief around the time my friend Jackie Wellfonder became one of her contributors, a point just after Sara Marie greatly expanded and relaunched her website as a new entry into the media wars. Given her goal is “working to render the mainstream media useless,” I believe she’s well on her way to doing just that.

**********

monoblogue: I wanted to introduce my readers to you as an example of how to grow a conservative media outlet, as I learned of you through a good friend of mine who happens to be a Brenner Brief contributor, Jackie Wellfonder. So let me ask you first: what inspired you to create The Brenner Brief? Was it based on any particular model, or did you come up with a new idea all your own?

Brenner: I come from an entrepreneurial background, so I’m always creating new things – especially when they deal with my passion for politics. TheBrennerBrief.com (TBB) is a right-of-center, conservative news and opinion platform. However, we do it in a way that it can be attractive for moderates to read, as well. In my opinion, unless we expand the conservative base – not by thumping people over the head, but by slowly convincing them that the conservative principles are best for this nation – we will not win future elections. TBB is meant to be a place where conservatives and right-leaning moderates can get their news, read opinion and hopefully come to believe what we do.

monoblogue: Another thing I’ve noticed is that you are both creating your own intertwined entities (PolitiGal Network, The Brenner Brief, etc.) and running them across multiple platforms (the website, radio show, membership drives, in-person events, and so forth.) Obviously you want all of them to succeed, but which venue do you think has the highest ceiling?

Brenner: TBB is accessible to everyone, so that one will always have more followers and readers, I believe. We had 800,000 web site hits in January and thousands of people listen to the radio show each week. However, PolitiGal Network (PGN) has nearly 20,000 members, and there we are geared toward working with women on messaging, education, support, campaign assistance, and networking. They are two very different entities.

monoblogue: On the idea of contributors: I have written for a number of sites as one over my time on the internet – some have succeeded and grown (PJ Media, for one) while many others have withered and died due to lack of interest from either (or both) organizers and/or contributors. How will you motivate contributors to keep on going?

Brenner: We do our best to work as a team, and really make sure that all of the contributors are a part of something exciting. We share site stats with contributors, we highlight different contributors on the radio show, and we are always coming up with new ideas as a group and discussing those options together. For example, several of us will be attending CPAC this year with media passes to cover the events and speakers. For some of the contributors, this is their first time having such an opportunity, and they’ll be doing it with TBB. It’s really just about implementing basic team motivation concepts.

monoblogue: And because most contributors have other interests, will the day come when you branch out into professional writers doing the bulk of the work with a few others added in?

Brenner: We launched TBB with its current format on Nov. 26, 2012. After another month or two, we will begin branching out to gain revenue sources. However, right now, we’re just focusing on content, the contributors, and getting our system perfected.

monoblogue: I’d also like to know your thoughts on where “white knight” financial supporters can play a role for the conservative alternative media. I ask this because a number of those on our side has always held the suspicion that far-left power brokers, particularly George Soros, are financially backing left-wing bloggers.

Brenner: Venture capitalists have the ability to support whomever they wish – left or right. Soros has built an enormous web of businesses and outlets to serve his interests, more so than any conservative. We don’t think of taking over the world, because we believe in freedom and liberty – not tyranny. So, the concept is foreign to our intrinsic core beliefs. However, I do believe that there has to be a separation in the media between the source of the money and the reporting; otherwise, the reporting will be swayed from what the “white knight” wants to have covered.

monoblogue: Let’s look at another topic. You are an elected official (a city council member) and, as such, you could be considered as being in the “belly of the beast.” Where do you see that perspective as being most useful for the conservative political cause? And do you have any higher political ambitions? I think of Sarah Palin’s example when I ask this, and obviously creating a network like you’re seeking to can be of great assistance down the road if you take that route.

Brenner: My husband is a State Representative in Ohio and we met in politics. I have been working on campaigns, running campaigns, and especially focusing on new media and communications in politics since college. I have learned more about government and the inner workings of government since 2009 (when I was elected) than during any other similar length of time in my life. I’ve also learned how to go up against the government giant, and win. For example, in 2010, our city placed on the ballot a measure that would have doubled our city income tax. The way it was structured, those who lived and worked in the city would have seen their taxes double, hurting the city’s businesses owned by residents. All others would not pay any more in taxes, including the other six members on city council (only I would have paid more in income taxes of the seven of us). Despite the city’s “educational” materials and the committee formed by those supporting the increase, we formed our own committee and defeated the measure with approximately 71% voting against. The polling originally showed that only 49% were against, so we moved 22% of the voters over the course of only a few months with simple, targeted messaging. While I do not know what my personal elected future may bring, my interest-area is helping conservatives with new media, political communication, running for office and strategically defeating the left. We are doing this both through TBB and PGN, just in different ways.

monoblogue: Finally, if you would, alert my readers on how to get involved with your organizations and listening to your show. Do you have any other words of encouragement for those who would like to get off the sidelines?

Brenner: The TBB site is TheBrennerBrief.com, and simply click on “Radio Show” in the menu for all of the show information. If you miss it live, we have iTunes podcasts and the show is on Stitcher Stream, as well as an online archive link. Our twitter handle is @TheBrennerBrief and we are on Facebook at facebook.com/TheBrennerBrief.

PGN is PolitiGalNetwork.com, and if you contact us through the site to let us know how we can assist you, someone will connect with you. We especially are looking for people who are interested in being a leader in their state or city, and you can contact us through the web site. Our twitter handle is @PolitiGalUSA and we are on Facebook at facebook.com/PolitiGalUSA.

My personal twitter handle is @saramarietweets, and I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/saramariebrenner and Tea Party Community at teapartycommunity.com/saramariebrenner.

If someone is wondering how to get involved, usually the most frequent comment I hear is that the individual contacted their local Republican party and never heard back. The party can sometimes be skeptical of new people coming into the fold, rather than encouraging their involvement and welcoming them with open arms. While that’s unfortunate, you don’t have to rely on your party to get involved. Anyone who would like to email me directly may do so at TheBrennerBrief.com/contact, and I will be happy to help you get involved in either one of our organizations, or guide you to the right place. You can also search meetup.com for events and groups in your area.

The first step to getting off the sidelines is to simply get off the sidelines! Sometimes, people just need a little bit of direction and encouragement, and we are happy to provide that. Our nation depends on it.

**********

I appreciate Sara Marie taking the time out of her schedule to do this interview, and look forward to seeing how her ventures develop over the coming months.

In the meantime, my guest for next week will be Tom Fitton, author of The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government, and President of Judicial Watch. We discussed a lot things about Maryland, the nation, and what you can do to help bring accountability.

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