A Van Hollen rant

March 22, 2017 · Posted in Culture and Politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

On social media I have somehow found myself receiving a number of missives from our recently-elected (but not by me) Senator Chris Van Hollen. The other day he posted a link to a New York Times story about Trump budget cuts, and frankly I had to let him and his mindless minions have it, both barrels.

I notice not one of them has responded! Since I don’t think all that many people I know see Van Hollen’s leftist propaganda, these thoughts must have stunned those minions into silence.

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It’s interesting to me that the media didn’t go out and find “struggling Americans” during the last administration. (They could have interviewed me, since I was in the building industry and was laid off from it for several years – so I found my own work.)

But here’s my real point: these people who are whining about the Trump budget – which is still going to be deficit spending, although maybe not as much as we would have had – need to look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are so worried about government cuts. How did you manage to put yourselves in a position of dependence?

The way I look at it, the federal government has a limited number of core functions that are spelled out in the Constitution. That is what they are supposed to do, and nothing more. (The rest goes to the states, or the people – refer to the Tenth Amendment.) But over the years our nation has found that it’s good to be on the gravy train and politicians like Chris Van Hollen will pander to them over and over with posts like this. As long as they can buy votes with federal largesse, who cares whether our grandkids will have to pay the bill?

Well, I do. Let’s make a deal, Senator: you figure out a way to allow me to get back everything I put into the Ponzi scheme of Social Security and black hole of Medicaid over the last thirty years I’ve worked and I will figure out how to get through my golden years using that little nest egg without you parceling it out monthly. I can figure out a budget, unlike you guys and your continuing resolutions.

And if you say that the money I put into Social Security and Medicare is being set aside so I can use it later, well, perhaps my late brother could have used some of what he put in before he passed away with no wife or kids at the age of 47. Just give me a lump sum and let me walk away. Even President Trump isn’t saying that – in fact, he campaigned saying neither needed to be touched – but I think it’s necessary to deal with the bill we’re giving our kids.

Trump’s cuts are pocket change to where the federal government needs to be. And, just so you all know, I didn’t vote for him and I certainly wouldn’t have voted for Hillary even if you put a gun to my head. I chose a far better candidate, one who had he somehow won would have caught a tremendous amount of flack for doing what he said he would from everyone who has figured out a way to become dependent on Uncle Sugar.

So, Senator, if you and your supporters were looking for an “attaboy” for finding a story about Americans struggling under Trump, the only one I would have is for the young Tracy Spaulding:

“People get laid off every day. I’ll make it one way or another.”

I have been laid off four times in my life, and guess what? I made it one way or another. You all can survive a few government cuts, and you might just find it liberating. And to ask the government workers whose jobs are on the chopping block who read this: didn’t they say just a few years ago that unemployment was a great thing because there was all that extra free time you could enjoy?

Why yes they did.

Lucky for you people in the private sector are hiring.

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Callous? Perhaps. A little over the top? I don’t think so. And by the way, the Medicaid was a typo since I think it was mentioned in the story. Later I correctly stated Medicare.

I have grown weary of all the strife over the last 4 1/2 months since Donald Trump was elected, even though I wasn’t one who voted for him. Certainly I have my policy differences with him, although to be honest these are far fewer than the number I had with our last President. But I have to give Trump credit for following through on some of those things he promised, even as the Republican Congress goes seriously wobbly regarding all they pledged. (Case in point: I don’t recall anyone really talking about the “replace” with the “repeal” until Donald Trump came along. Just repeal it with an effective date of this time next year and states will have time to do what they wish to do in the interim.)

Once upon a time I used to put some of my best comments elsewhere into posts, as I believe in not letting good writing go to waste. This may be a feature to resurrect in the near future, but this one wasn’t going to wait for an editorial decision.

You know, I think I was blessed with a decent amount of intelligence – maybe not Mensa-grade, but I did all right in public school. I don’t think I’m that much smarter than the average bear, though, and maybe that’s why I can’t figure out how everyone can’t see what has been going on for the last thirty years – although I know some who would argue the timespan is far longer. We have put ourselves at the mercy of a lot of people and entities that, when push comes to shove, are going to think about themselves first and the rest of us not at all. Perhaps it’s always been like this, with some people destined to be the lords and kings and most destined to be the vassals and serfs. But as long as their chains rest lightly I suppose most of these people who wish for more and more government aren’t going to mind a little less freedom.

It wasn’t much more than a century ago that there were still places in continental America where you could live in an informally organized territory, and maybe there is still a real-life Galt’s Gulch here in America. But our people now seem to want America to be the land of the free stuff, and we need to remind them often that things don’t work that way.

With that my work is done here, at least for tonight.

A good message, but who will see it?

Do you trust your government? Ron George doesn’t.

It’s an interesting commercial, although given the cuts and canned applause it’s obvious the spot was done in a studio.

But look at the message it conveys. We all know the government rarely deserves our trust in this day and age, and Maryland is a prime example. The waste and fraud run rampant in this state, and decades of one-party rule encourages the spigot to remain full-on. We all know this.

So it was interesting that the question was teed up for him in such a way. The commercial is a “genuine fake” in the sense that it wasn’t recorded at the original debate at which Ron uttered those words, but restating it in the better setting is somewhat creative. Unlike the Larry Hogan radio commercial where I found the message is somewhat cluttered by the crowd noise (because it was recorded live) this works rather effectively.

Of course, the question is who will get to see it? Needless to say, I’m giving Ron a little bit of earned media from this but I’ll bet I’m one of the few bloggers who will because others are backing other candidates. With only a modest amount in the bank and no prospect for public financing, the buy will probably be a limited, cable-only buy – if there’s any commercial space left available between the plethora of state and local candidates who may be in their own primary battles around the major media markets.

Now there is a little bit of good news – in my opinion, the audio from the ad can work as a radio ad as well, with a little bit of work and addition of a spoken authority line. It’s a money-saving measure and by all accounts Ron desperately needs to get the most bang for his bucks.

Halfway there

May 20, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

I was talking the other day about how some candidates were doing better financially than others, but Ron George is halfway to joining the air wars – here’s his TV debut:

They crammed a lot into thirty seconds; in fact, to me they almost talk too fast to understand it all. And while there’s a lot of time (and some expense) to get a thirty-second spot in, the harder part will be getting the money together to spread it out. Given that there will be a Democratic primary sucking up a great share of the airtime, the better bet may be hitting the cable networks in certain markets. At least that’s how I interpret this:

With every contribution of $250 or more, we can get this video in front of tens of thousands of voters across Maryland. Please also forward this email to all your family, friends and colleagues to let them know that Ron is the strong conservative candidate who can win in Maryland in 2014. Thanks again for your incredible support, and please join me in Building a New Maryland.

That may be 5-10 spots depending on location and particular venue. Granted, those spots may only reach a few hundred to couple thousand people, but hitting Fox News or Fox Business isn’t a bad play to get in front of a conservative audience.

I would expect Ron to at least get a limited run of spots, leaving Charles Lollar as the only GOP gubernatorial hopeful without major media thus far. Time is a-wastin’ for these guys.

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.

Craig 2014 announcement tour reaches Salisbury

It wasn’t exactly by Pony Express, but the third of three days of current Harford County Executive David Craig traveling the state and making his 2014 plans official began this morning in Salisbury at the Government Office Building. His announcement drew about 40 onlookers and various members of the media, as you’ll soon see.

Following Monday stops in Havre de Grace, Dundalk, and Hagerstown, and an itinerary yesterday which included Silver Spring, Prince Frederick, and Annapolis, the final day was opened with some pleasant weather and welcoming remarks by Wicomico County Councilman Joe Holloway.

Holloway’s welcome served as a means to introduce many of the local elected officials who were there to back this Republican effort; a group which included Central Committee members from Worcester, Somerset, and Wicomico counties as well as his fellow County Council members Bob Culver and Gail Bartkovich, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello, and Delegates Addie Eckardt and Charles Otto.

Holloway then introduced Gail Bartkovich, who had the honor of introducing our esteemed guest.

Gail opened up her warm welcome by noting that our state government seems to think that problems are solved in just two ways: taxes and spending. “Annapolis has forgotten that Maryland government works for us,” said Bartkovich. “We deserve a choice.”

Gail went on to point out that David is unique as a man who has headed up both the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties as mayor of Havre de Grace and Harford County Executive, respectively. She touted a number of fiscal accomplishments David has achieved as county executive, including leadership in agricultural preservation and a “buy local” campaign. Obviously in a rural county like Wicomico this was seen as appealing.

But the key points Gail wanted to bring up were Craig’s experience as a county leader and the idea David could be a credible alternative to the current policies in Annapolis which I feel only seem to enrich those who are connected. In that, she accomplished her goal and set the stage for the man who would be governor.

The audience seemed quite receptive to his message as well.

In his 16-minute statement, Craig touched on a number of key points.

Coming from a long line of Marylanders, Craig praised the state he grew up in. “I’ve been blessed to grow up in Maryland, to live here, to raise a family here, to have a career here, and to live with my grandparents and – now – our grandchildren,” he beamed.

Comparing his hometown to Salisbury and other small towns in Maryland, Craig reiterated his “faith” in the state, noting, “we can get off the mat, we don’t have to be counted out and don’t have to give in.” But our leaders were focused on the next election, not the next generation, said David.

“When they focus on their political power for too long, we see our faith starting to erode,” warned Craig. He then blasted the incumbent, stating that “politicians…seem to be more concerned about being rockstars and celebrities and (with the) headlines than they are about doing what they’re supposed to do.”

All the while, Maryland is being “outflanked” by its neighboring states. Yet, in the areas adjacent to our surrounding states, said Craig, “we are the forgotten Marylanders.” Government isn’t working for us, he continued – the “political monopoly” in Annapolis is working for itself.

David turned to the taxing legacy of Martin O’Malley, pointing out that the 40 tax increases enacted by the O’Malley/Brown administration have cost working Maryland families $3.1 billion. Yet he warned, “if we don’t offer an opportunity or a choice in 2014, by 2018 that number will be $20 billion.”

If government continues to act as it pleases, added Craig, we will continue the trend which has seen 6,500 small businesses leave the state – second worst on the East Coast – and 31,000 taxpayers who fled the state for more tax-friendly confines like Florida. As an aside, David added “it would have been better to get rid of the death tax than the death penalty,” a line which drew applause from those present.

Turning to education, David reminded the audience which had been fed the line about Maryland’s top-ranked education system that the assessment had come from a trade publication. “That has no connection with student achievement,” said David. “It’s all about how much money you spend in education, not about how well the children do and what happens with them afterward.”

Craig was also critical of the state’s transportation plans, chastising the waste and conflicts of interest in awarding contracts, along with “falsely” balancing the state budget with $1 billion from the Transportation Trust Fund.

David asked about how we “lost our balance” between the environment and agriculture, steering away from sound science principles and instead “looking at what the headlines will be” in the quest for a cleaner environment. Eventually this imbalance will force succeeding generations to leave the state.

“This is what an unbalanced government looks like,” added Craig. He then extolled his achievements in 32 years in government, including setting a financial plan for his successor as mayor of Havre de Grace which has enabled the lowering of the city’s tax rate seven years in a row. (If only Salisbury could say the same.)

But his biggest selling point may have been lost, buried in a paragraph of other remarks. “We have more jobs in Harford County now than we did before the recession started,” said David.

“I’m just a regular Maryland guy,” he continued. “I refuse to accept we are going to continue to be a one-party state…we need to give people a true choice.” And with a track record of confounding the naysayers, Craig was confident in victory. “I’m not going to be counted out,” concluded David.

He then talked to his supporters before turning his attention to the media.

There was a good bit of local media there, with a camera crew and reporter from WMDT-TV patiently watching the affair before getting their interview in, while next in line was Jennifer Shutt of the Daily Times.

As I noted in my post from early this morning, newly-minted District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza was also there and introduced herself to the would-be governor. I also received a little insight about her campaign as I was awaiting my chance to speak with David.

That interview I had with David Craig will be published next Tuesday as I polish off the TQT series for a day. I was the only local blogger there so you’ll get his insight on some local issues.

Yet David didn’t just jump on the bus and leave after finishing with me. Instead he investigated another local business.

Today was the final day of the Craig announcement tour, which came just as fellow Republican Ron George will formally kick off his 2014 gubernatorial campaign this evening in Annapolis and rumblings from former Lieutenant Governor and RNC Chairman Michael Steele about throwing his hat into the ring later this year. (Sounds like a former governor I know, feeling entitled to win without a campaign.)

But Craig seems to have established his place as the man to beat thus far, and it’s certain that he’ll see a lot of Salisbury in the coming months as he seeks the nomination.

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.

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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.

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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.

Friday night videos episode 25

Bringing back the FNV franchise again after a week off, so let’s see what the extra week has given me to work with.

Lots of video on the health care debacle, as you might expect. Pollster Scott Rasmussen talks to the Washington News-Observer on the upcoming midterm elections and about how unpopular Obamacare really is:

It wasn’t too popular among this group either. My blogger friend Bob McCarty (who lives in that area) covered the counter-protest to President Obama’s health care show in St. Charles, Missouri.

If I didn’t put this on when it first came out, I sure missed out. This edition of FNV will be graced by the common sense of Rep. Mike Pence, perhaps my favorite member of Congress.

But the Democrats do reveal the facts about their health care bill.

Speaking of leading Democrats, in a couple weeks we’re going to see the third edition of the TEA Party Express, which begins in Searchlight, Nevada (Harry Reid’s hometown.) Mark Williams of TPX3 wanted to have a conversation with MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan but you can see how the left expresses “Anger in America.”

And if you’re interested in saddling up and heading out west, they have an interesting lineup to start their tour – wonder how many will be there for the other stops?

Let’s finish the political end of FNV with something humorous. We can laugh about this now that this half of the globe is actually warming (with a corresponding cooling on the other side – funny how that works, huh?)

Now the fun part. This comes from one of my favorite regional bands and was recorded live at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia (unfortunately, not by me.) Hailing from Smyrna, Delaware, this is 13:1.

If you go to their website, crank out ‘No Goodbyes.’ (Feel free to do so with their other songs if you wish, too.)

With that, we put another FNV in the books. That was fun.

Art imitating life – or vice versa?

February 21, 2010 · Posted in Liberty Features Syndicate · 8 Comments 

When a company devotes millions of dollars to the production and airing of a Super Bowl ad, they are at the mercy of several factors – one of those being an exciting game if you happen to have a spot airing in the fourth quarter.

We all know that the game itself came down to a late interception returned for a touchdown to secure the New Orleans Saints’ victory; fortunately for Audi this occurred after their commercial aired. For all the pregame talk about the pro-life ad sponsored by Focus on the Family and featuring the mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, the “green police” commercial sponsored by Audi may have the most lasting impact.

The ad opens with an innocuous transaction at a grocery store where the cashier cheerfully asks, “Will that be paper or plastic?” When the hapless customer answers “plastic” he’s rudely greeted by an officer from the “green police” who advises the customer, “you picked the wrong day to mess with the ecosystem, plastic boy!” From there, numerous people run afoul of the law for having batteries in the trash, throwing away an orange rind (a “compost infraction”), possession of incandescent light bulbs and plastic water bottles, and having the temperature of their hot tub too high. The only escapee is the one driving the sponsor’s diesel-powered car at the “eco checkpoint.” Even the classic rock band Cheap Trick redid their 1970’s song “Dream Police” into “Green Police” for the spot.

Great humor works because it has an element of truth in it, and this commercial reflects a number of moves already made by government. Indeed, traditional incandescent light bulbs will be going away after next year due to government edict and several regions of the globe ban the use of plastic grocery bags. Nanny staters constantly proclaim society needs to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

So far, though, America hasn’t gotten to the point where we have the government snooping through our garbage for contraband non-recyclable material or uniformed officers breaking into our backyards to check the temperature of the hot tub. But the spot is believable because we now can’t dismiss the possibility given the cap and trade legislation slowly seeping its way through Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency’s willingness to take advantage of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling allowing them to regulate carbon dioxide to promulgate new restrictions on commerce and daily life, all in the name of combating so-called manmade climate change.

It’s this climate fear that Audi plays to with their ad, on both sides. For those who believe they should do more to save the planet, the car is sold as an eco-friendly mode of transportation. On the other hand, those who are skeptical about our impact on the climate but believe the way of the future may well be reflected in the commercial might be persuaded to buy one simply to be left alone.

Obviously Audi is attempting to sell cars with this Super Bowl ad just as other sponsors pushed online services, beer, or snack food. While the vast majority of these ads were written and produced to be humorous in some sly way or another, the Audi spot will have a longer-lasting impact for its product because this humor made the consumer think.

Many found it funny only because it stretched what we believe into something of a tall tale. It’s when the tall tale becomes reality that the spot loses its humor, and in the coming decade we may see the Audi ad as prophetic of how society evolved.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

My latest LFS column to be released cleared on February 12.

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