Thoughts on Ted Cruz and his endorsement of Donald Trump

September 25, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Let’s start off with my initial emotions on this announcement: disappointment, then resignation. I think this adequately captures both sides of the equation going forward, so allow me to elaborate.

I consider myself a limited-government conservative, or perhaps better described as a conservative with libertarian tendencies in a number of respects and areas. I often write about the idea of “rightsizing” the federal government down to a point where it does the minimum required of it in the Constitution, and this worldview affected my perception of the 2016 Presidential field. Ted Cruz was not my overall first choice out of the group, but of those remaining when Maryland’s day in the sun came back in late April he was – by miles - the best remaining choice in terms of my stated desire to reform the federal government in a Constitutional manner.

On the other hand, I had already heard and seen enough from Donald Trump to know that he wasn’t going to significantly improve the situation inside the Beltway. He had already backtracked and capitulated on enough campaign issues for me to see that he wasn’t going to be trustworthy enough to be the GOP standard-bearer. Although we went for a period of about 2 1/2 months before the Republican National Convention with the idea that there still were chances to derail the Trump train, the national Republican party (and Trump zealots) did their best to make sure that the “victory” Trump won (dubious at best, thanks to the number of open primaries) with just a plurality of the Republican vote would stand. In the end, many supporters of Ted Cruz as well as John Kasich were browbeaten into acceptance – the rest became the significant number of #NeverTrump folks out there, of which I was one. I would not accept Trump as the nominee, and my conscience would not allow me to work within an organization that promoted someone of dubious value to the conservative movement.

So when Ted Cruz stood at the podium of the convention and exhorted everyone to vote their conscience, I considered it a highlight of an otherwise pathetic coronation of The Donald as Republican nominee. My confidence in Trump upholding the planks of the GOP platform was about the same as the confidence that he could go a week without being on the media for saying something asinine – in both cases, about zero. The fact that the Trump people booed Ted Cruz off the stage was proof that they weren’t principled enough to stand before conservatives to defend their candidate when his bona fides were questioned.

Obviously I was not thrilled to see Cruz fall off the #NeverTrump wagon after all that transpired between Trump and “lyin’ Ted” during the primaries. (Of course, that assumes he was really ever on it.) But as Christians we pray to have our trespasses forgiven as we would those who trespass against us, and from the tenor of Cruz’s comments in his statement I think he has forgiven Donald Trump for what he said during the campaign as simple competitive rhetoric.

And Cruz has a number of political calculations he has to account for, too. After November the election season turns to the 2018 cycle, and Cruz is part of it as the junior Senator from Texas. Certainly there are already people in Texas politics smarting from the very fact that Cruz upset the establishment choice of former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary there four years ago, but former Gov. Rick Perry is one of those rumored to be considering a 2018 run for Cruz’s seat. Opponents cite the alienation of Trump voters as just another factor against Cruz, since there’s also the perceived blame for the 2013 government slowdown and the reputation for being a boat-rocking troublemaker that Cruz carries. (It should be noted that all that baggage was supposed to sink Cruz’s presidential campaign early on, but he outlasted most of the rest of the field that was supposedly more palatable to the electorate.)

For all his issues, it’s clear that for Ted Cruz to have a political future he had to modify his stance on Trump, and that was made more convenient by the unqualified Democratic candidate and the pledge he took to support the Republican. Over the next four years he is more useful in the Senate than martyred by his own rhetoric.

So let’s say Trump loses, Cruz retains his Senate seat, and the Clinton/Kaine team continues the damage done by Obama/Biden. The question is whether people will be as passionate about Cruz in 2020 or if they will consider him damaged goods? Assuming Trump loses and doesn’t wish to try again at the age of 73, the early favorite in 2020 has to be Mike Pence – just as the first rights of refusal went to Sarah Palin in 2012 and Paul Ryan this year. But there will certainly be a crop of those who didn’t grasp the brass ring this year looking to seize the nomination: I would strongly suspect that group includes Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal. All of them (except Kasich, who briefly ran in 2000) were first-time candidates – the political world seems to be that of just two strikes and being out, which eliminates guys like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee as old news. All but Kasich also seek the votes of strong conservatives, with Kasich being more of a moderate.

At this point I would still like to see Bobby Jindal make a 2020 run, as there’s little chance one of the 2016 crop knocks him off as the king of my hill. But someone new could strike my fancy or there could be a significant moderation in Jindal’s political views. Still, I would welcome Ted Cruz to the fray with open arms, knowing he had to do those things he may not have liked in order to keep his position of leadership in the conservative movement.

As for me, I remain #NeverTrump whether it’s politically damaging or not. Since politics is not my job I have little to lose but a lot to gain as I work to convince people of the benefits of limited government and support those inside politics who advocate it with actions, not words.

A different sort of accountability

May 22, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The noble ninety-eight

If you want to talk about an absolute scrum, look no further than the list of candidates for Delegate and Alternate Delegate to be presented to us at next Saturday’s Maryland Republican Party Spring Convention. Between the two races there are a total of 98 people vying for the 22 positions that will be available for Central Committee members and/or proxies to vote upon.

A lot of them are well-known names: 16 are current state or federal elected officials – Andy Harris is one of those trying for a spot – in addition, all of the party officers are on the ballot as well as a host of other elected officials, candidates, and familiar faces such as Anne Arundel County Executive (and former Delegate) Steve Schuh, two-time Comptroller candidate William Campbell, unsuccessful Congressional aspirants Faith Loudon and former Delegate Mike Smigiel, and even the onetime First Lady of Maryland Kendel Ehrlich. But there are several dozen activists and people who ran for the positions in the primary but failed to be successful. The insurgent campaign of Donald Trump vaulted a lot of unfamiliar names to the Cleveland convention because many of Maryland’s elected officials backed other candidates.

With so many in the race it’s only natural to see slates formed. Here’s one from the “Conservative Club” of Maryland:

I have no idea who runs the Conservative Club, where their meetings are, and whether I owe them any dues, but I can tell you a little about their slate:

  • I have previously endorsed their top two candidates for National Committeewoman and National Committeeman.
  • Six of their ten At-Large Delegates previously ran as Cruz delegates or alternates: Boone, Brewington, Loudon, McConkey, Pycha, and Rey. Two of the others were Rubio delegates (Cluster, Patel) and the other two did not run. Bossie is a natural pick as he’s trying to be National Committeeman.
  • Three of their At-Large Alternate Delegates previously ran as Cruz alternates: Alzona, Lathrop, and Trotta. O’Keefe was a Rubio delegate, while the others either did not run or were unaffiliated.

So this seems to be a combination of Cruz and Rubio supporters under the conservative banner. Fair enough, although I can question Patel’s conservative bonafides when I see a photo like this:

Silent majority of what? It’s not a majority of Republicans in the country, since Trump still has only a plurality. And to me, backing someone who’s not going to advance many conservative principles is not worthy of being in a Conservative Club. So I think I’ll skip that name on the ballot.

Obviously there are not any Trump delegates from April running in this election since the voters of Maryland blindly sent them to Cleveland. But out of the field who ran for the seats in April there are a number who are trying again, and it will be interesting to see how they fare in round 2. In my case, I’m looking to send as many Cruz delegates as possible to hopefully bring some sanity to the Maryland delegation – however, it is likely there will be a Trump slate as well and that group is to be avoided. I may have to bring my own list and check names off as I figure out their allegiances.

One other aspect of the race that fascinates me is the sheer volume of people and ballots that need to be created. When I ran in 2008 for a at-large post, there were only about 25 of us and I think the voting and tallying took about 45 minutes. One problem is that our voting system is a somewhat proportional one based on the county you represent and its relative voting strength – as I recall, the bulk of the modest amount of support I received came from Eastern Shore counties and their votes weren’t much in the scheme of things. It’s better now, but thanks to variances in the voting strength and number of members on a Central Committee, a member from Anne Arundel County has about four times the power as a Montgomery County member – or, for that matter, my vote from Wicomico County. Because their strength is diluted so much by having 48 members (the maximum allowed by law) each of the nine of us on the Wicomico County Central Committee are roughly at par with each member of Montgomery County’s CC – they just have a lot more bodies. Anne Arundel only has 13 members, so they each have a lot of say.

Long story short, I’m told they will have an electronic system in place for this so I hope it goes smoothly. I would like to be home before church on Sunday.

It’s just another aspect of what could be the most contentious convention in the ten years I have attended them.

The road forward

Well, we are on from Wisconsin and Ted Cruz’s smashing victory over John Kasich and some other guy, you know, the orange-toned one with the bad hair and little hands.

Yet those who back Donald Trump point to states like New York and Pennsylvania as just the tonic to make Trump the comeback kid. You may have to take them with a grain of salt two to three weeks out, but polls suggest Trump should win his home state handily, perhaps finally cracking the elusive 50% barrier. They are obviously hoping New York gives them momentum to spring into the Northeast primary the next week, in which Maryland and Delaware are included. (The other states: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Pennsylvania is currently polling with Trump ahead, but by a smaller margin than New York.)

The interesting factor in all of these races is John Kasich. The Ohio governor soldiers on with his 20 to 25 percent of the vote in the polls, but based on current RNC rules and delegate math has no shot whatsoever to win the nomination. His one-in-a-million shot is a hopelessly deadlocked convention much like the 1924 Democratic Convention that went to 103 ballots before selecting John W. Davis, who would go on to be routed by President Calvin Coolidge.

So the question for Kasich supporters becomes one of picking your poison. Although Kasich polls reasonably well in many of the remaining states, in no state does he have the lead. Those Kasich supporters who can stomach Donald Trump as the nominee will likely stick with their guy, since the general effect of a Kasich vote is to assist Trump and his normal 35 to 45 percent plurality. On the other hand, Kasich backers who are #NeverTrump would be much better off shifting their allegiance to Ted Cruz – in fact, Kasich underperformed his polling in Wisconsin by about five points, leading me to believe that about 1/4 to 1/3 of Kasich backers saw the writing on the wall and many shifted to Cruz, who outperformed as he often has. (Meanwhile, Trump was right there at 35 percent, which is around his average throughout the primary season.)

It’s been about a month since Maryland was polled on their preference, so long in fact that Marco Rubio was still in the race and polling fourth. Back then Donald Trump was at his usual 35% share (actually 34%) with Ted Cruz at 25% and John Kasich at 18%. It bears pointing out that at roughly the same juncture before the Wisconsin election a statewide poll had Trump leading by 10 over Rubio, 30-20, with Cruz a point back at 19 and Kasich at 8 with Ben Carson. In about 5 1/2 weeks after that, Carson and Rubio withdrew, Cruz gained 30 points while Kasich gained just 6 percentage points and Trump only 5. I wouldn’t expect the same results in Maryland, frankly, but I don’t think the state will be a runaway for Trump, either.

Yet while the state of Maryland divvies out its delegates mainly by whoever wins the Congressional district, making eight different races very important, the final 14 delegates go to the statewide winner. If you get a 4-4 split in Congressional districts – very possible in a close race – it’s the difference between winning the delegate count 26-12 or losing it by the same.

Thus, it may be a long night come April 26.

Some Maryland GOP inside baseball that could lead to an interesting race

We’re still six weeks away from the Maryland Republican Party Spring Convention, to be held May 14 in Annapolis, and much of the interest in the event will be driven by the selection of eleven at-large Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the national convention in Cleveland. Since Maryland’s primary will be completed, not only will we know which aspirants advanced from each of the state’s eight Congressional districts, but we will also have a clearer picture of whether a first-ballot victory is still mathematically possible for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. By then, just 375 delegates will remain to be determined (from primaries in Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota) with the lion’s share awarded by the June 7 primaries.

Yet those who become Delegate at the state primary will be bound to vote for the statewide winner. Polling has been scarce in Maryland for the GOP, as the last major poll came out a month ago and included Marco Rubio and his 14% of the vote. At that point, Trump led Cruz 34-25, with Kasich at 18. Following the trend, Maryland may be a state where Trump wins with only about 40% of the vote but Cruz picks off a Congressional district or two to gain a few delegates. But The Donald will get the lion’s share as it stands now, meaning some of the alternate delegates could come into play. (If I’m a Cruz backer I’m refusing to vote for Trump.)

So a lot of the interest will come from that demolition derby of a race, which normally draws 20 to 25 names for each. (In 2008, I was one of about 23 who ran and I was second or third from the bottom. Name recognition goes a long, long way in the race.)

But at the Spring Convention we will also be selecting our next National Committeeman and National Committeewoman, who will take office after the November election and help to select the next RNC Chair in January 2017. As a Central Committee member, I have already received a handful of appeals on the races where both incumbents, Louis Pope for the men and Nicolee Ambrose for the women, are running again. Several weeks ago I got the letter from Nicolee that she was running, and I’m unaware of any challengers. Aside from her letter announcing her bid for re-election, my mailboxes have been empty on the race – and that may be a good thing, since Nicolee has been out front with her party-building efforts. Here in Salisbury I’m sure Muir Boda would be in agreement that she deserves support for another term.

On the other hand, today I got my third letter from one of the party’s old guard beseeching me to vote for Louis Pope, who has also sent me a letter asking for support. Apparently he will have an opponent come May 14 so I suspect my mailbox will be full of these appeals from names I know.

Back in 2012 we had that same kind of race for National Committeewoman, with the exception that it was an open seat as incumbent NCW Joyce Terhes decided to retire. The party leadership and “establishment” was backing Audrey Scott, who had ridden in to “rescue” a bankrupt Maryland GOP as Chair in 2009 after former Chair Jim Pelura resigned. Ambrose appealed to a different sector of the party, and the clash between the two came down to a close, emotional vote at the Spring 2012 convention. (Worth noting: Pope was re-elected handily at that same convention over Anne Arundel County Republican Scott Shaffer.) Incumbency seems to have its advantages, but I haven’t received the same outpouring of support from party regulars for Ambrose.

Our representatives on the RNC are just a small part of a 168-member body (three from each state and certain territories) but they also represent us in regional matters as well. Over the last term, Ambrose has taken charge of grassroots organization and GOTV efforts while Pope has portrayed himself as a fundraising expert. Granted, the state GOP (which includes Chair Diana Waterman) has been successful insofar as electing Governor Hogan and increasing the number of Republican elected officials, but perhaps not so much on moving the needle on key issues. (Just as an aside, Waterman’s term will come to an end this fall, meaning we will have a Chair election then. A few years ago we adopted two-year terms for the Chair to match the national Republican Party.) With the national mood registering against establishment candidates of all parties, one has to ask how far the “throw the bums out” mentality will go when it comes to state party affairs.

It should be a fun convention; that is, if fun is defined by being on pins and needles the whole time like I was four years ago when I strongly backed Ambrose. We’ll see what the next few weeks brings.

Some thoughts on tomorrow’s election

For Maryland’s election six weeks hence to have any national significance, it’s very likely that Donald Trump would have to lose Ohio and at least one other state. We’re now getting to the point where more delegates have been awarded than remain at stake, with the RCP count now showing we’ve just passed the halfway point. Tomorrow a total of 367 delegates are at stake in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands, with all but North Carolina “winner-take-all” states. With four candidates in the running, it’s possible over 300 delegates can be attained by getting just 30% of the vote (if all five WTA states fell the same way with slim victories for the winner.) Donald Trump is doing a little better than 30% in four of the five states, with John Kasich leading in his home state of Ohio.

After this week the race will get something of a breather. Next week the remaining contenders will do battle for Arizona, Utah, and American Samoa, then we skip to Wisconsin on April 5. New York will have its week on April 19, and then its our turn on April 26 (along with Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.) At this point, even if Trump won everything he could not clinch the requisite number of delegates before Maryland votes. (Let’s hope he doesn’t ever get to that point.)

It’s been sort of lost in the maelstrom surrounding the cancellation of Trump’s Chicago rally, but there were two other endorsements in the race recently. I can’t say I was surprised by Ben Carson’s selection of Donald Trump since the bridge between him and Ted Cruz was burned back in Iowa, but I was surprised by Carly Fiorina backing Cruz. She never impressed me as that conservative when I was doing my dossiers.

Now I can update the tier map. I suspect after tomorrow it will be down to three and possibly two remaining.

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie (Donald Trump), John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina (Ted Cruz)
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson (Donald Trump)
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Rubio)

The endorsement poll stands at Marco Rubio 3, Ted Cruz 2, and Donald Trump 2. John Kasich has none.

I should take a few moments to update you on where I stand with my Senatorial questions. So far I have heard back from five of the fourteen, with three responses (Richard Douglas, Mark McNicholas, and Dave Wallace.) Each of the three has put together thoughtful responses.

But I also have just a few weeks to decide, so I am going to look at other sources as well. These won’t get the dossier treatment, but it’s likely that someone who responds will get my vote and endorsement, just so you know.

Both parties are fractured, but on energy, each is unified

Commentary by Marita Noon

There is no shortage of news stories touting the splits within each party.

The Democrat divide is, as NBC News sees it, between dreamers and doers—with the International Business Times (IBT) calling it: “a civil war over the party’s ideological future.” The Boston Globe declares that the “party fissures” represent “a national party torn between Clinton’s promised steady hand and Sanders’ more progressive goals.”

The Republican reality is, according to IBT, a battle between moderates and conservatives. The party is being “shattered” by the fighting between the establishment and the outsiders. The New Yorker said the days following the Detroit debate have “been the week of open civil war within the Republican Party.” Former standard-bearer, Mitt Romney, laid the foundation for a floor fight at the party’s Cleveland convention. Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal, states: “The top of the party and the bottom have split.” She describes the party’s front runner this way: “He is a divider of the Republican Party and yet an enlarger of the tent.”

Candidates from both sides of the aisle claim to be unifiers. But when it comes to energy issues, each party is already unified—though each is totally different.

Generally speaking, the Democrats want more government involvement—more government-led investment and federal regulation. In contrast, Republicans want the free market—consumer choice—not government to determine the winners and losers.

The next president will have a significant impact on how America produces, uses, and distributes energy.

In response to frequent questions from talk show hosts regarding the candidates’ energy plans, now that the field has winnowed, I set out to write a review. However, my research revealed that a candidate-by-candidate analysis would be repetitive. Instead, I’ll lay out the distinctive direction each party would drive energy policy and highlight the minor differences within the candidates.

First, one must look at climate change, as, despite repeated failed predictions, it has been the driver of energy policy for the past decade.

The Democrat candidates believe that climate change is a crisis caused by the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, both Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton opposed the Keystone pipeline and lifting the oil export ban. Each supports restricting drilling on federal lands and federal hydraulic fracturing regulations to supersede the states’ policies. At Sunday’s CNN Debate, both opposed fracking—though Sanders was more direct about it. Sanders and Clinton favor increased Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to encourage the use of renewable energy sources.

They would continue the policies, such as the Clean Power Plan, advocated by President Obama—with Sanders being more progressive than Clinton. He wants to institute a tax on carbon emissions, ban all drilling on federal lands, and has sponsored the “keep it in the ground” bill. She would “phase out” hydraulic fracturing on public lands, end tax credits for fossil fuels and increase government fees and royalties. Both support tax credits for renewable energy.

In the transition away from fossil fuel use, Clinton would utilize nuclear power, while Sanders would put a moratorium on nuclear plant license renewals. She supports hydropower.

Over all, the Democrats approach can be summed up as anti-conventional fuels—resulting in higher costs for consumers.

USNews states: “Clinton and Sanders also have expressed frustration with their political colleagues who deny the link between fossil fuel combustion and climate change.”

The four remaining Republican candidates have slightly differing views on climate change—though, unlike their “political colleagues,” none bases his energy policies exclusively on it.

Donald Trump is the biggest opponent of climate change having called the man-made crisis view a “hoax” and tweeting that the Chinese started the global warming ruse “in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” In his book, Crippled America, Trump opens his chapter on energy with a tirade on climate change in which, talking about historic “violent climate changes” and “ice ages,” he acknowledges that the climate does change, but concludes: “I just don’t happen to believe they are man-made.”

Senator Ted Cruz is next. He’s stated: “If you’re a big-government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudo-scientific theory … because it can never, ever, ever be disproven.” He, too, supports the view that global warming is a natural phenomenon rather than man-made.

Senator Marco Rubio believes the climate is changing. He’s said: “The climate’s always changing—that’s not the fundamental question. The fundamental question is whether man-made activity is what’s contributing most to it. I know people said there’s a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I’ve actually seen reasonable debate on that principle.” He’s added: “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”

Governor John Kasich’s views cut “against the grain in the Republican Party” in that he believes climate change is a problem—though he doesn’t support curbing the use of fossil fuels. His state, Ohio, is rich with coal, oil, and natural gas and he believes low-cost reliable energy is “the backbone of America’s economy.” The Hill quotes him as saying: “I believe there is something to [climate change], but to be unilaterally doing everything here while China and India are belching and putting us in a noncompetitive position isn’t good.”

Regardless of their specific views, none of the Republican candidates sees climate change as an “existential crisis,” as Clinton called it on Kimmel Live—and their energy policies reflect that.

All four agree the Keystone pipeline should be built, are critical of the EPA’s aggressive regulations (instead, they support the regulation of energy production at the state and local level), and want to spur economic growth by increasing American energy production and reducing our reliance on foreign sources.

Though Kasich signed legislation freezing Ohio’s law requiring increasing use of renewables, Kasich is the most supportive of them saying: “I believe in wind and solar, there are big subsidies on it but that’s okay.”  He also acknowledged that mandating 20-25 percent renewables by a set date is “impossible” and will “throw people out of work.” Cruz and Rubio have voted against production tax credits for wind and solar and against setting a national renewable energy standard. In Iowa, Cruz stood up to the ethanol lobby (he’s repeatedly called for an end to the ethanol mandate), while Trump pandered to it. Rubio and Kasich would allow the ethanol mandate to sunset. In his book, Trump states that the big push to develop “so-called green energy” is “another big mistake” that is “being driven by the wrong motivation.” He calls renewables: “an expensive way of making the tree huggers feel good about themselves.” In contrast, he’s promised to “revive Kentucky’s coal industry.”

Overall, the Republicans views can be summed up as embracing the positive potential of America’s energy abundance—resulting in lower energy costs.

If you believe that effective, efficient, economic energy is the lifeblood of the American economy, you know how to vote in November. The contrast is obvious.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Time for a Cruz/Rubio unity ticket

As I write this, the votes are being tallied on Super Tuesday. While Donald Trump is grabbing the headlines (and the largest share of the delegates) by finishing first so far in all but three or possibly four states, it’s worth stating that in all but two of those states the combined vote totals of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio exceed Trump’s. It’s likely Donald Trump has the most passionate supporters – I can vouch for it on my Facebook feed – but the question is that of whether he has reached his ceiling. Polling has indicated that in a two-person race both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio would prevail in a head-to-head matchup with Trump.

So the time is now for one of them to get out, and based on the results of tonight it’s Marco Rubio who should be voted off the island. Now I know that Rubio backers will argue that states where he projects well have still not voted yet, and Marco will get on the winning board tonight in Minnesota. But Cruz has three wins under his belt and has generally outperformed Rubio overall. There’s no clear second place winner, but Cruz seems to have the advantage and we need to break up this logjam if there’s any hope of saving the Republican Party from the absolute disaster a Donald Trump nomination would present.

Over the last few days I’ve heard a lot of people say the GOP has had it coming – their inaction and lack of principled opposition to the Obama agenda has placed the rank-and-file voter in a position where they demand a tough-talking outsider to roll into Washington and unclog the sewer. I get it, but Donald Trump ain’t Roto-Rooter.

Instead, he would just replace one dictatorial regime with another while presenting another classic problem for the Republican Party – how do conservatives oppose the President who is the titular head of your party? When Trump puts forth the wall with the “big, beautiful door” that lets the illegal immigrants we have stay here and encourages thousands more, what conservative can oppose him? And if he doesn’t get his way with Congress rewriting libel laws to suit his fancy, do you honestly think The Donald wouldn’t write executive orders so he can sue his press opponents into oblivion? The First Amendment seems strictly optional to him, unless you favor him in a “yuge” way.

The longer three of the other four non-Trump candidates linger, the more possible it is for Donald Trump to win the nomination without polling over 50 percent in any one state. Unfortunately, this primary season has been an argument that we need to change the system but that won’t happen until 2020 at the earliest, and by then it may be too late to save the Republic. 12 straight years of ultra-liberal rule did a lot of damage to us during the Depression, and we’re in a far more weakened condition this time around.

The milestone

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

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.

Christie embraces Trump for president

February 26, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

It wasn’t the relatively immediate endorsement you sometimes get when a candidate drops out of a race, but nonetheless Chris Christie became the first Presidential dropout to officially endorse Donald Trump. On the surface it seems like a logical pairing, made moreso by the fact the families have known each other for years. And with the conventional wisdom about Thursday night’s debate being that Donald Trump was bloodied by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, what better time to bring in someone who has been known for getting under Rubio’s skin?

More interesting on a local level, though, is the fact Larry Hogan hasn’t endorsed Trump by extension. You may recall that Hogan endorsed Christie fairly early on in the campaign, both as a friend and probably as appreciation for Christie’s support for Hogan’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign. But Hogan was mum when pressed about the issue, and it may be better that way because Larry doesn’t seem like the type who would endorse Trump – if anyone I would imagine him backing John Kasich or Marco Rubio. The problem with that is Kasich may not be in the race for much more than a week or two, leaving the race without a governor in a political year where 8 of the 17 who originally ran had executive experience as the head of a state.

In the poll of former candidates, though, Rubio still leads.

So allow me once again to update my tier map:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie (Donald Trump), John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Rubio)

I should add that former candidate Rick Perry, who dropped out in the midst of my dossier series, endorsed Ted Cruz a few weeks back. Rumors are strong that Mike Huckabee may also back Trump since his daughter now works for Trump’s campaign.

Also of note: local Delegate Mary Beth Carozza is on the Kasich for Maryland team. Before you scratch your head, remember that Mary Beth has experience with the Ohio governor while he was with Congress – she was a staffer for the Ohio delegation at the time.

Draft our daughters: political correctness strikes again

February 12, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

By Cathy Keim

Our elitist politicians show once again why so many Americans are rejecting their cries to “follow me.” At the New Hampshire debate last Saturday night, three Republican candidates for president, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and (the now withdrawn) Chris Christie, happily jumped into the PC-constructed world of equality for women by declaring they would support making it mandatory for women to register for the draft.

The other candidates were not asked to respond to that question and only Ted Cruz came out with a statement addressing it after the fact. From Politico:

“I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’” Cruz said Sunday, speaking at a town hall here. “Listen, we have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.”

No one under sixty years of age has been subjected to the draft, as it has not been used since 1973, so the politicians have the comfort of not having the result of their imprudent statements coming home to haunt them too soon. But do we really want our daughters being forced to register for the draft?

Our mad dash for equality has pushed us over the edge. Our military has been badgered into opening combat roles to women because a few women feel they are being denied their opportunity for advancement in the military. Yet when they have tried to find women that can perform equally with men, the experiment has failed miserably.

Political correctness is staring reality in the face and PC is winning. Just as Bruce Jenner is not a woman, no matter how much makeup or surgery he may submit to, neither are women warriors in the mold of men. While some individual women may outperform some individual men in feats of physical prowess, as a general rule men are far stronger and bigger than women across the board.

PC has made it difficult for people to state the obvious. A man is immediately called a misogynist and a female is condemned to “a special place in hell” for not supporting women. But we must not be deterred from speaking the truth in the face of these lies – remember that the lies only work if we self-censor and refuse to speak the truth from fear of being labeled with the slur of the day.

We must return to some fundamental truths to be able to decide what must be done about our military and draft policies. The feminist movement has been trying for decades to make men and women equal. However, their criteria are incorrect because they are trying to make us equal as in being identical. While we are all created equal before God in that we are created in His image, we are not the same.

Men and women have different roles to play as evidenced by the fact that only women bear children. The current emphasis on transgender identities is just the latest attack on identity and roles in society. I will agree that there are instances where it can work for the man to stay at home with the children and the woman to be the breadwinner – that is their privilege to decide how they will live their lives. However, for the government to decide for every woman in America that she will register for the draft with the implicit possibility that she might be forced to join the military and serve in combat is a whole different category.

In the past women were excluded from registering with the Selective Service because they were excluded from serving in combat roles. That restriction, though, came to an end back in December, 2015:

In a historic transformation of the American military, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said on Thursday that the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women.

“There will be no exceptions,” Mr. Carter said at a news conference. He added, “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

This is the result of the Obama administration’s order to integrate the military within three years. The obvious next step will be to insist that women sign up for the draft – hence the question at the presidential debate.

These Republican candidates that are vying to lead the party missed an opportunity to clearly state why the policy to enforce gender neutrality in the military is wrong. They caved to the pressure to appeal to women voters by saying they believed in equality, but they should have pointed out that equality doesn’t mean being exactly the same.

If men and women were the same we would not have male and female competitions in sports. When money speaks, as in the world of professional football, baseball, and basketball, the fake equality falls away and men are hired by how fast they can run, how far they can throw, and how hard they can hit. Women are not hired because they cannot produce the same results. (Editor: Note that the one major professional sports league for women, the WNBA, has their brief season during the off-season for the NBA rather than competing directly.)

Now ask yourself why we are putting women in combat in trucks where they cannot lift the tires to change them, where they cannot carry a fellow soldier to safety if needed, and where the need to carry a 100-pound backpack could slow them down and endanger everybody?

The fact that women have stayed behind while the men went to war has never meant that women are weaker. Indeed, they have shouldered the responsibilities of maintaining the home front, raising the children, and praying for their loved ones on the battle field. They have dealt with losing husbands, fathers, and sons. They have coped with the adjustments from their injured loved ones returning from war.

The difference in roles doesn’t mean that women are weak and men are strong, but means that women and men have their strengths in different areas. We have been forced to swallow “fairness and equality” for so long that we are unable to see what is obvious.

The politicians that want to lead us should be bold enough to state the obvious rather than falling all over themselves to be politically correct.

Christie and Carly call it a campaign

February 10, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

After disappointing results in the New Hampshire primary coupled with humiliation in Iowa, today marked the end of the Presidential campaign road for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as well as onetime HP exec Carly Fiorina.

At one time a few years ago, Christie was considered one of the top contenders for an eventual GOP nomination. Elected in the wake of the Obama victory in 2009, his brash style and willingness to take on the Democratic union-based machine in New Jersey got him mentioned for a 2012 run, but he passed up the opportunity. Looking back, perhaps he should have struck when the iron was hot – his embrace of Barack Obama days before the 2012 election in the wake of Hurricane Sandy angered conservatives who saw that as a factor in Obama’s re-election. Then came the “Bridgegate” scandal, and after that Christie never got back the mojo he had in his early days as governor. Now Christie’s free to finish out his term, but Maryland Republicans should thank him for his support of our governor, Larry Hogan. (Hogan was one of those who endorsed and campaigned for Christie in his 2016 bid.)

In his exit remarks, Christie revealed how proud he was of his campaign:

I ran for president with the message that the government needs to once again work for the people, not the people work for the government. And while running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed – that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation. That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that’s ok. I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win and what that means is you never know what will happen. That is both the magic and the mystery of politics – you never quite know when which is going to happen, even when you think you do. And so today, I leave the race without an ounce of regret.

Fiorina put on a brave face last night, setting up events for the upcoming Nevada caucuses, but after her August peak where she did well enough in the opening “kiddle table” debate to get promoted to the main stage she fell out of favor far enough to miss last Saturday’s debate entirely – the only candidate of the main contenders to do so.

But on her Facebook page Fiorina announced she was taking on a new chapter:

This campaign was always about citizenship – taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

As a “former presidential candidate,” this experience will likely add another zero to Fiorina’s speaking fees.

Since both candidates seemed to tend more to the center of the political spectrum, it would not surprise me to see them eventually back Marco Rubio. In fact, among those who have expressed a preference since withdrawing Rubio has secured three endorsements (Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum) while Ted Cruz snagged fellow Texan Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham is backing Jeb Bush. Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker haven’t endorsed anyone yet.

Update: I forgot my updated preference list, which includes endorsements:

  • Bottom tier: George Pataki (Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
  • Fourth tier: Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
  • Third tier: Rick Santorum (Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
  • Second tier: Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham (Jeb Bush)
  • Top tier (and these guys were miles ahead of the rest): Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal (Marco Rubio)

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