The loan repaid

Rush Limbaugh always confided that he had “talent on loan from God.” This morning the bill came due.

We can’t say that his passing was unexpected, given Limbaugh’s announcement in early 2020 that he had stage 4 lung cancer. At the time I wrote that it would be a dicey proposition for him to make it to the election, let alone his 70th birthday. In fact, he made both and even made it into his eighth decade by about a month.

For the most part, I wrote my history with Rush and how he affected my political life upon his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. But there was one thing I left out of that narrative, which was another retelling of my chance to speak to El Rushbo.

October 5, 2007 was an Open Line Friday, which meant I could listen to the entire show because I worked (and do once again) half-day Fridays at work. So I had the motive, means, and opportunity to ask him a question about how his reading habits had changed in creating his “stack of stuff.” Back in the day, he talked about reading several newspapers but once the internet and blogs came to be, he was using that medium to prepare his stack. In truth, I was looking for good sites to link to but he also graciously allowed me the opportunity to plug this little old site.

And what did I get? A Rushalanche that knocked out my server for a bit. Over the years, I have kept the transcript of that call as a private page but today I’ll open it up in case you want to read my attempt at making the host look good. I was shocked that I got through and was the call out of the 1:30 Eastern break.

One big difference between the world of 2007 and the present day, however, is the ubiquitous social media we have now. So once I was informed by my boss – who was listening to the show as he usually does in his office – that Rush had passed, I took a few minutes to peruse social media to see what other thoughts there were. Luckily I don’t have a lot of liberal friends and for the most part they have kept it restrained.

I also read that the future plans for Limbaugh’s show are to have guest hosts, but they would be there as facilitators of the countless hours of content Rush prepared for his wing at the Museum of Broadcasting, so that much of the talking would be done by Rush – basically a long-term “best of” broadcast but tuned to the breaking news of the day where possible. When you figure that he had thirty-plus years of 15 hours a week on the air, that’s over 20,000 hours of radio classified as the “grooveyard of forgotten favorites.”

Regardless of how much longer Rush’s show can and will be carried by the 600-plus stations that comprised the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, the fact that he pioneered the nationalization of conservative political talk radio and made the 12-to-3 time slot required radio listening means he won’t soon be forgotten. Surely there will be efforts made to diminish his impact or insult his memory in the most vile of ways, but when you have “talent on loan from God” the end results will remain in place for awhile.

Rest in peace, Rush. My prayers for comfort and lasting good memories are with your family and vast circle of friends.

Pleasing predictions: the update

I actually have a weightier subject in mind for my next post, but I also have plenty going on surrounding my other side hustles so I decided to act on this one first.

Way back in December we learned that Delmarva would remain as an affiliate of the Orioles, becoming the low non-complex team on their totem pole. A few days later I noted a couple possible scenarios for the newly-revamped SAL as either two six-team divisions or three four-team pods. Turns out the powers that be in Major League Baseball who are now running the minor league show opted for the latter arrangement, exactly as I selected them.

What they sadly did not do (at least for the moment) was retain the South Atlantic League name, instead putting us in the generically-named Low A East. Hopefully they decide to maintain the longtime moniker since the league will now better reflect that geography.

The next step, of course, will be getting a schedule of 132 games – because of the CCP virus, the Shorebirds will not begin their season until May. This, of course, means that the back end of the season will be extended, perhaps into early October. (As part of that, however, I thought I read that there would be no playoffs – so, of course in that case Delmarva will be loaded this season.) They are also looking to minimize travel so I would expect a heavy intra-division schedule – my thought is that the Shorebirds will probably do two eight-game trips into each of the other divisions (i.e. Augusta/Columbia, Myrtle Beach/Charleston, Fayetteville/Kannapolis, Down East/Carolina) while we would be paired up with Fredericksburg for the returns.

If this is indeed the case, we could play the South and Central teams eight times each (four home/four away) for a total of 64 games. Of the remaining 68 games, they may decide that we see Lynchburg and Salem 20 times apiece (10 home, 10 away) and Fredericksburg 28 times (14 and 14) to minimize travel. It would remind some longtime fans (I’m looking at you, Karl) of the 2008 season, when high fuel prices dictated a steady diet of Hagerstown, Lakewood, and Lake County for about half of our 70 scheduled home games. (At least Fredericksburg is something of a natural rival as the Nationals affiliate, while most of the others are good geographic pairings. The North Carolina teams could almost play a round robin as they are quite close together comparatively.)

Of course I will miss the natural rivals we gained over the years as Hagerstown was dropped entirely from the MiLB lineup and Lakewood became Jersey Shore and moved up a level to high-A, playing (among others) the Aberdeen Ironbirds. But change isn’t unusual at this level: in the 16 years since I began attending Shorebird games, the SAL lost two teams to the Midwest League, had two teams move to new locations, a couple change names, and eight affiliation changes. The league has seldom stayed constant for more than a year or two.

The constant I’m looking for right now, though, is my behind constantly in a seat at the ballpark. Just let me know when to be there.

2020: a monoblogue year in review

I was very tempted not to do this – because who really wants to relive 2020 – but for posterity’s sake decided to go with it. In truth, this may be one of the shorter reviews I’ll ever do.

At the dawn of the year in January I wanted to take my writing in a new direction while examining the state of the TEA Party. That dearth of posts was made up for somewhat in February as I took a hard look at our political duopoly and played a second season of fantasy baseball. (Will there be a third? Stay tuned.) I suppose it was prophetic for this year that I was looking for the reset button, but not for the obvious reason.

It seems like forever ago, but remember when we heard that Rush Limbaugh had advanced-stage lung cancer and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union? (It’s more famous now for Nancy Pelosi’s speech treatment.) It was a rush to condemn, and I discussed it twice. Meanwhile, that long series on the Democrat contenders I began in March 2019 finally came to an end with the not-so-elite eight only for me to begin a new series on splitting the opposition – a look at the Indivisible movement, which continued in March with a look at its founders.

In that pre-pandemic era, I was surprised by some turns in the Democrat presidential race (looking back, the biggest shock was yet to come!) But what really got me was the hype vs. the reality regarding the CCP virus and how the world was placed on hold and eventually became a business state of emergency. Suddenly the state of the TEA Party didn’t seem as important.

After some server issues knocked me offline for a time in April, I returned to talk about a clash of the titans in my erstwhile political home, the Maryland GOP. The other clash I got into was the beginning of the anti-lockdown movement – remember 15 days to slow the spread? Some people actually took them at their word.

It was also the first anniversary of Rise and Fall, so I commemorated the event with a look in the rearview mirror.

The merry month of May brought the final installment of one of Maryland’s few remaining conservative blogging outlets, so I had my thoughts about my former cohorts at Red Maryland. But I also had some fun rebutting a request to talk about the National Popular Vote movement. (We now see why it’s so ill-thought out.)

That month the Delaware political scene began to fire up, first with Governor Carnage pulling the football out from First State businesses then my look at the statewide Delaware political races: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I ended the month by detailing my weekend to remember.

June began with a long-neglected category of odds and ends, and continued with the conclusion of the long-neglected series on splitting the opposition. It also touched on the controversy regarding the Talbot Boys statue in Easton, which is still standing despite opposition.

Also still standing is the District of Columbia, which some want to make into a state despite the Constitutional mandate that it be a district. But who cares about the Constitution when it gets in the way of political power?

I do care about the Constitution Party, but it got some troubling news during that month, while the Delaware GOP field for governor expanded to five. Just as July began, though, one of the top contenders withdrew and endorsed another.

The sad news to begin the month was the season that never was, and I commemorated Independence Day with an encore performance of a post from 2016. I also came back with a fresh helping of odds and ends.

Our Delaware political races finally came into shape, with the added benefit of the now semi-annual monoblogue Accountability Project.

But most of the subsequent three months was devoted to perhaps my most devoted long-term project: a dossier series covering statewide candidates in both federal and state races. Thanks to that, I didn’t write on another topic until September when I finally discussed a day for adulting. I also made it three editions of odds and ends for the year.

Since it was time for the Delaware primary, I also got to make my fearless forecasts and found they were prescient picks. A few days later, the nation was stunned by the need for the notorious RBG replacement.

It was me that needed the replacement when October began. My trusty old laptop finally quit so I had to get a new one, which explained my absence. Later that month, I endorsed my choices for Delaware and asked if my former home in Wicomico County would lose its Republican County Council majority in a special election.

We had the election in November. The first thing I did was to admit I should never say never. I did even more odds and ends, including a milestone. Predictions were made and results were analyzed. And we also found out that people are leaving certain networks and social media outlets because they find them too biased against their point of view.

Oddly enough, I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post (part of the reason being we were away) but I considered once again the fate of the Constitution Party and defined some rights as the month wore on. It all led to December, which as is traditional led off with my anniversary post and the induction of the newest class of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

The month actually had a lot of news about the Delmarva nine, as their fate in the revamped world of minor league baseball was revealed. It allowed me to make some pleasing non-political predictions.

I still found out that the Delaware General Assembly wasn’t waiting to come up with bad ideas and the Constitution Party wasn’t waiting to come up with excuses for their lack of performance in November.

Wrap it up with my annual Christmas post, and that’s how my year went. It went really slow and really quickly all at the same time.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2020

Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor for this bastard of a year: I write remotely (socially distant) from the readers.

Maybe this is a question for those who are north of 80 years of age, but was Christmas during wartime like this? I sometimes feel like this is the style of holiday we may have commemorated circa 1942, a point where the shock and novelty of volunteering after Pearl Harbor wore off and people whose hometowns lost their native sons in the Second World War were commemorating an otherwise solemn holiday. Instead of a war against imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, though, we’re fighting this time against a Chinese germ that’s fighting dirty with increased overdoses and suicides taking quite a toll on our youth.

Regardless, we must press on, and our biggest asset in that regard is the One who sent His son to be our sacrifice, that Savior whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow. In a time where the highway signs are telling us to stay home, they don’t quite get the message right. My simple prayer this Christmas is that my readers come home, returning to a life with its priorities in order: God and family first, “stuff” somewhere toward the end.

I don’t recall where I got the suggestion from, but back around Thanksgiving I saw an item where it was suggested that beginning December 1, people read a chapter of the Book of Luke each night. This story of Jesus would culminate on Christmas Eve since there are 24 chapters, beginning with the angels visiting Mary to tell her she would be the virgin mother and concluding with His resurrection after the Crucifixion. Yes, I’m giving you a really late start for a lengthy read in one evening but it’s definitely doable, and illustrates well why we celebrate.

So tomorrow my site will be dark. Over the weekend I may come up with something, but for this moment: Merry Christmas.

Hard to believe: monoblogue turns 15

I’m definitely into the moody teenage stage now.

Pretty much every year on December 1st I do a retrospective of where monoblogue has been and where it might just go in the next year. While I actually began this a few days in advance because our family’s plans included a trip away, the fact remains that 2020 and the CCP virus definitely affected my initial plans. (Well, that and a few technical hiccups and the need for a new laptop.)

So I really haven’t made it into some of the internal plans I had regarding creating my author site, and updating photos and such on old posts…truth be told, I sort of forgot about it with everything else going on. (We had these local and national political races, don’cha know?) Maybe this coming year, if I can find the time – you never know when you may need that author site. 🙂

One thing I can say about 2020 is that what seemed like a so-so year for readership has really caught fire in the last three months. Turns out that year-to-date I am already at my best year since 2016, which was when I stopped doing daily posts. And this came to pass right about the time I was doing my dossier series, which is probably the most lengthy-term, multi-part project I’ve ever done on this site insofar as focusing on one subject. It was sort of a blessing in disguise that I did not have Shorebird of the Month to deal with; however, that’s not to say I didn’t miss doing them!

In looking up my post output, though, that dossier series made a serious dent in my numbers. Once upon a time I came close to a post a day, but so far this year it’s only about a post and a half a week – granted, I essentially did my dossier series two to three times but all that counted as one post since I simply updated. Since I don’t see a similar series until 2024 because there’s neither a governor’s race nor a scheduled Senate race, I think posting in 2021 will get back to its 2 to 3 times a week, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. It depends as always on how inspired I am.

One thing that inspired me recently is rereading some of what I wrote the last time our nation was in this particular pickle of shifting from Republican to Democrat, the early part of 2009. In truth, perhaps I should freshen up the three lessons I provided because I think they still mostly ring true. There is definitely the potential for TEA Party 3.0 if we can do it right this time and kick out the grifters and con artists.

While this website has always been about what interested me, longtime readers know about my fondness for thinkers like Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, and Victor Davis Hanson. They’re the type whose understanding of history makes their commentary timeless and evergreen. In doing a post a day I sort of got away from that, but at this slower pace I’d like to believe I can provide this service to readers who wish to be missionaries for the secular cause of Constitutional thought. (In part, that’s because it paves the way for the more traditional role of missionary as one who brings the Good News of Jesus Christ.)

So I suppose I am off and running on year number 16 – the website domain was renewed and it’s still with the same server company (or, actually, its successor since they’ve changed hands a couple of times.) As long as the Good Lord gives me life and the ability to convert my thoughts into these blog posts I’ll be here, standing athwart of what seems to be a trend in history to backslide toward tyranny. It’s still a lot of fun for me, so why stop now?

The exodus

There’s little question this election season will rank among the most divisive in our history. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between the populists and conservatives who backed Donald Trump and the liberals and bohemians who either supported or held their noses to vote for Joe Biden have qualified this as perhaps the most bitter balloting since 1860 – and we all know what happened after that one.

I would also submit to you that the amount of yellow journalism in this election was comparable to those long-ago races where partisan newspapers were unafraid to make up or amplify rumors about the opponents of their favored candidates. After all, we went through three-plus years of a trumped-up (pun intended) media-driven impeachment while those same organs basically ignored a potential blackmail scandal affecting Joe Biden and his son Hunter that erupted just three weeks before the election. Maybe they “learned” their lesson from the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal that came to a crescendo just days before the election in 2016 and perhaps cost her an election that the media assured us was in the bag for her.

The biggest differences, however, between the modern day campaign and those elections of long ago are the speed of communication and lifestyle. In Lincoln’s day, the telegraph was in its early stages of development and news more often came from local newspapers. It may have taken a week for some to find out who won the election, and that’s if they purchased a copy of the local newspaper. While the newspaper industry of 1860 may have pitted rival against rival because they preferred different papers that backed opposing politicians, the news didn’t dominate the lives of common folk who were more interested in working for their survival as farmers or laborers or headed a household full of children to raise. It was truly the 1% who had enough leisure time to debate the political.

Now we have 24/7 cable news, but more importantly we have social media as a means of information and communication – and the reason we have social media is because we have evolved our lifestyles to a point where even those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder have time to follow the news or at least keep up with the culture. No longer are religion and politics taboo subjects for discussion; in fact, having no political opinion makes you the outlier. Either you’re on the red team or the blue team these days. (By not voting or voting third party, in the eye of the beholder you are the opposition.)

So if you’ll pardon the long introduction, my point is that, over the last month or so, we have seen a breakup that follows the political in the arena of social media, one which has accelerated since the election and grown to include the modern-day equivalent of the local newspaper.

I had never heard of Parler before this summer, but back in June there was an early move toward the social network based on issues with Twitter, for which Parler is considered the closest cousin. I jumped onto Parler on June 22, but to be honest I use it much the same way I use Facebook except I don’t post as much. (Part of this was that I never cared for Twitter.) Since the runup to the election with its constant reminders to go vote and the so-called “fact checking” exceedingly applied to conservative viewpoints – while liberals are unquestionably taken at face value – the growth of Parler has been exponential.

Joining Parler on the growth list are a couple of news channels. All summer there were rumblings among the conservative set that “fair and balanced” Fox News was no longer as fair or balanced. These rumblings grew louder with Chris Wallace’s hard-hitting interview of President Trump in July and his widely panned mishandling of moderator duties during the first Presidential debate. Strike three, however, was Fox News’s willingness on election night to call Arizona quickly for Joe Biden while slow-walking calls on states Trump eventually won handily, such as Florida.

Since the election, thousands of Trump supporters have vowed to stop watching Fox (even if it’s only the programming outside popular shows they still have featuring Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity) and they’re flocking to upstarts One America News and NewsMax TV, which have featured a more pro-Trump viewpoint. (It’s not that much of an achievement, considering the 90-plus percent negative coverage Trump receives from the legacy media.)

The problem for Fox News, of course, is a little like the issue faced by the anti-Trump Republicans in the Lincoln Project. Now that they are useless to the Democrats because the election is over, they’re going to find they have no friends on either side. The Republicans now see them as disloyal and the Democrats will simply call them useful idiots who outlived their usefulness. I don’t expect any mass exodus from CNN or MSNBC to a more “woke” Fox News. Why go for the imitation when you have the real thing?

The $64,000 question then is whether these splits become permanent or not. There are many skeptics who laugh at those leaving Facebook and Twitter, saying either that they will be back after their tantrum is up or that they won’t be missed anyway because they’re uninformed hicks. (I see that out of a lot of #NeverTrumps that I know.) And while there are many thousands who vow to dump Fox News, we haven’t seen the ratings for OANN or NewsMax TV to know if this is a new habit.

One thing that worries me about this trend is the potential for slipping into an information silo, although it certainly could be argued that those who rely solely on the traditional media outlets (as the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter do) are already trapped in one that reflects a left-wing, pro-Democrat viewpoint. Too many people are letting those outlets do their thinking for them, and it’s to the detriment of our republic that they cede that right.

As for me, I’ll try and do a little more on Parler and perhaps join MeWe, but for the immediate future I’ll also stay on Facebook until my friends and family abandon it. I also have a couple pages I curate there so there’s that factor, too. Guess I will be living in two worlds for the time being.

Overdue like a library book

Did you all miss me while I was gone the last couple weeks?

I realized I missed a deadline, but I have a good excuse besides the CCP virus or the dog eating my homework: my venerable old laptop of almost five years decided it was time to develop a sporadic issue with the power supply (at least that’s my best guess on the situation.) When I tried to use it one day it was dead as a brick, and after a couple tries with my good friend Elbert attempting to bring it back to life and keep it going to no avail (after fixing the issue of a couple weeks ago), it was clear that Houston had a problem. So I decided it was time to break down and buy a new one, which is almost identical to the old one aside from having silver keys with black letters rather than the inverse. (I’m sure the processor is better and so forth too.)

So I have a little catching up to do, in particular my endorsements for the Delaware races. Having the time away gave my a bit of time to consider my choices further and perhaps come up with compelling explanations as to why you should vote for them. Once I finish this post that’s what I’m going to begin working on, but I thought I owed you an explanation as to the long break.

The absence

You may have noticed I haven’t updated my blog or my dossier in awhile. Well, I have a very good explanation for that: my trusty old laptop needed to be fixed. The jack that accepts the charger cord went bad so I couldn’t charge the battery up. As always, these things occur at the most inopportune time but a good friend of mine could fix the issue and I got this old HP back tonight.

So I’ll be pretty busy this weekend trying to update the governor’s race dossiers with the idea of doing endorsements in the next couple weeks. I also have another piece or two to work on that are unrelated to Delaware elections so that will liven things up a bit.

Thus, this three-week hiatus from posting has come to an end – and not a moment too soon.

A day for adulting

In most of the years since I began writing my words here I have done a post commemorating 9/11 in some fashion. I’m sure my grandparents’ generation felt the same way when Pearl Harbor Day came around seeing that it occurred when they were in their adult years. (I know my mom’s mom and dad were in their late 20s, but I don’t recall when my dad’s parents were born – I think at the time they were in their late 30s since they both died fairly young, before I was far along in school.)

This year I’m reflecting more on the aftermath, once the initial shock of watching the World Trade Center collapse and realizing that the death toll would be in the thousands from the attack wore off. After we finally slept on what had occurred that fateful day, we were truly united states. There was a new respect for first responders and righteous anger at those who perpetrated the attack – it really didn’t matter if you were well left or well right on the political spectrum.

Oh! how the circumstances have changed in 19 years. If 9/11 were to happen tomorrow, the left would be wanting to hang Donald Trump for treason while the right would declare it open season on terrorists, defined as those who were insufficiently loyal to America. Because we were just a few months into the first term of George W. Bush, we didn’t have the specter of an upcoming national election, although this did affect some primaries going on across the country – including Toledo, where I lived at the time.

Be that as it may, in 19 years we have gone from united to divided, sort of like being in our own respective Twin Tower. In that regard we may be ripe for another terrorist attack although the measures put in place after 9/11 have done a good job with homeland security. Add in the pandemic and our issues are much more broad-based. All this is why I saw adulting as a logical extension of my remarks on the occasion last year.

Finally, over the last few months I’ve found myself in prayer more often and one thing I pray for is a revival in this land. If a terrorist attack could unite us for just a few weeks imagine what turning ourselves over to our Lord can do.

9/11 is always a good time for reflection, so perhaps this is something worth a devotion.

A weekend to remember, 2020 edition

This has been one of the more unique Memorial Day weekends in recent years and likely will remain so for some time to come.

Traditionally I paid my respects by attending the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony at the Civic Center but this year that was postponed until further notice thanks to the pandemic. To be honest, though, I was hoping there was some memorial service a little closer to our new home in Sharptown or Laurel anyway.

Instead, we got the day off but, aside from a church service which touched on the subject with patriotic hymns and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, it’s been more like a normal weekend. So this is my way of personally reflecting.

The fact that I am here after my dad’s two-year hitch in the military as a pre-Vietnam Army draftee (he was in at about the same time Elvis Presley was, if that gives you an idea) means that he survived his military service. Insofar as I know, I have no ancestors who were killed in battle unless we go back to my grandfather’s generation and no one’s ever spoken about that.

Surely, however, there are families on the other end of the spectrum who may have the misfortune of losing family members each generation thanks to a desire to serve. Whether those family members died making the ultimate sacrifice and saving others despite knowing their demise was impending or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the pain for the surviving family is just as great.

It can be annoying for some to see the constant reminders in some media quarters that we should be grateful that others sacrificed so we could grill our burgers or stand in line waiting to get into Home Depot. But in this time where military casualties are the “dog bites man” story due to the winding down of our foreign military excursions, we can’t forget that there have been other times when our nation was in a hot war not necessarily of our choosing, whether via direct attack or the threat to our freedom-loving allies around the globe. It’s happened before and for all we know it may happen again, although I pray not.

Moreso, however, I pray that the sacrifice of so many is not in vain and that we restore and preserve our shining city on a hill in acknowledgement of their loss and for His glory. God Bless America.

Programming note: my series on Delaware political races resumes tomorrow.

The rearview mirror

This was one of the copies I initially received from the publisher. If it’s copy 1 like I think it is then I believe it’s still in a box someplace from our move. It was the markup I used for the reading last June and the reference copy I kept for doing radio gigs.

I placed this photo on my social media page a year ago today. It was the first book out of the box of copies of my book that I kept for hand sales and promotions. So let me tell you about being an author and what a long, strange trip it’s been since that book came out 366 days ago.

When I put the book out after 2 1/2 years of writing it, I felt reasonably good about its prospects. I thought it was rather topical as it came out a decade after the initial TEA Party protests, and the peer reviews I had on it were positive. And the initial sales were actually encouraging after I did my first radio gig on it a couple days afterward (it was actually 52 weeks ago today, the same day Joe Biden made his formal announcement.) I had a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters, but of course I had no idea what sort of sales to expect.

Well, it’s disappointing to say that I’ve sold 26 copies through Amazon. However, I can at least say that’s more than my previous book has sold in almost eight years (a total of 18 copies.) But that doesn’t count the copies I have hand-sold in person, most of which I autographed as well. Somewhere in our house (or maybe out in the shed, who knows?) I have about 8-10 copies of my first book, which came from an original stock of 20 or 25. This time, though, I started with 25 and bought another 10, leaving me about a dozen remaining. Their disposition is an interesting story.

Out of the original stock of 25, I numbered each book from 1 to 25. I kept number 1 as my copy, tithed 2 through 4 to charity (still have those), and sent most of 5 through 10 to those who contributed to the writing. (I still have one because I’ve never been able to get a contributor’s home address even in several attempts to ask.) Out of 11 through 25 I have just a few remaining – many of them were sold at my reading back in June.

Among the second batch were a few I sent to various radio personalities who requested them. As I recall all but one of those eventually resulted in an interview, and that adds to the story.

Believe it or not, I’m way more comfortable with writing than I am with public speaking, even though I took a class in college to conquer that fear. (Shocker, huh?) I’m sure that comes through over the phone, but I also figured it was a job I had to do in order to try and spread the word given my marketing budget, which was basically zero. (I did find out it costs $3.27 to send my book anywhere from California to across town, not that I had to do the latter.)

So I spoke to various people everywhere from California to Delaware, for anywhere from seven minutes or so to a whole hour. It was a “virtual book tour” which took me from my adopted hometown to my real hometown, and from where I went to school to places I’ve never visited (or, frankly, heard of) before. There were small towns and big cities on the docket, but the last stop was a national one on an internet radio station called Southern Sense Radio. I did find out from doing sixteen or so shows that the longer I knew I had, the better the conversation flowed.

While all this was happening, I went through a move (hence, why I can’t find the spare copies) and went on vacation twice. Could I have been more diligent at marketing? Perhaps, but I also work full-time. (You may gather I’m that diligent at unpacking. But I told my wife we have the rest of our lives.)

A few months after the release, I decided it would be a good idea to follow up on the loose ends I had to leave untied to finish the book by last April. Thus was born the quarterly State of the TEA Party updates, the last of which I did a couple weeks ago – a little early but necessary to be topical. It’s been a concept that’s evolved a little bit and probably will some more before it’s through.

It’s been a tremendous and tumultuous year since I put out this book. It’s interesting to ponder how the release of the book would have gone over had it come out this year, but it’s still out there if you want to read it for the history. I think I’ll go onto Amazon tonight and give you a little incentive by cutting the price. (Hey, I have reached triple digits in royalties, at least.)

As for the next book? Honestly, I can’t say for sure whether I have another one in me. Over the years I have kicked around a couple concepts, and I got as far as a couple chapters on the Indivisible movement. (I still owe you one last part on that story – maybe in the next couple weeks.)

If anything, I have the most desire to write a sequel update to my first book, So We May Breathe Free. Once upon a time I had thought about writing a tome on the struggle between Big Oil and the green energy movement – something more on my radar when I had Marita Noon (now Marita Tedder) as a columnist, but not so much now. (I still keep a few tabs on energy, but to turn a phrase I don’t have as much energy as I used to.)

The other idea I’ve had from time to time is a project I call 600 Words. It’s been over a decade now, but once upon a time I toiled as an (unpaid) columnist for an outfit called Liberty Features Syndicate. (The title refers to their optimum column length.) Most of the time these once- or twice-weekly pieces ended up on the website of a group called Americans for Limited Government, but once in awhile I would find out some small-town newspaper also ran my column. I think it would be an interesting idea to follow up on what happened to the subject of the columns, as history may or may not have been kind to them, and maybe it would have the autobiographical element of perhaps one of the most uncertain times of my life. Between 600 Words and the sequel to So We May Breathe Free, 600 Words is definitely more the vanity project.

I guess that’s the life of a part-time author who’s become a (very) part-time blogger too. If you have pity on me and want to buy the book – or if you like a good read on history (yeah, that’s the ticket!) the link to Rise and Fall remains above the fold on my front page. Let’s see if I can beat my year one sales in year two.

Where’s the reset button?

It’s fascinating to me how sometimes the most random things inspire me to write. First of all, it has to be a topic which is interesting to me and secondly there has to well up in me a feeling that I would have something relevant to add to the conversation. So I was sitting with laptop in lap the other night and saw two articles – a John Mauldin article posted by my friend Bob Densic and a Forbes piece by Carol Frazier – back-to-back on my social media and thought it a sign. So go ahead and read them, I’ll wait patiently for your return.

Sobering enough? I thought they were. They paint a much different picture than the good tidings promoted by the current administration, but they aren’t as pessimistic as one may think aside from the means of solution to the perceived problem.

The paragraphs that finally inspired this piece came from Jack Kelly’s Forbes post:

Ironically, the younger generations may be in for a windfall in the future. As their Baby Boomer parents pass away, they stand to receive a large inheritance. It could be the largest wealth transfer in American history. 

The catch is that if the market goes down appreciably or crashes, like in the 2008 financial crisis, the parents will sell their stocks at fire-sale prices and there won’t be much left over for their children. If all of the Boomers start selling their homes when they retire—which they are now doing in large numbers—to downsize their lifestyles, housing prices may collapse. This will also lessen the amount of money that could be transferred over to their kids. 

“Why Young Voters Are Embracing Bernie Sanders And Democratic Socialism,” Jack Kelly, Forbes, February 5, 2020.

From the sounds of these articles, the problem seems to be that those who are struggling are having issues with several different expenditures, number one being student loans but also the costs of rent and health insurance. So when Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, et. al. go out and pledge to wave a magic wand and eliminate two of those three expenses by forgiving student loans and “Medicare for All,” well, that’s an appeal which sounds mighty good to those who wrestle with these things each month.

I’m no Boomer, but I did live through a time when I was relatively fresh out of college, newly married with a five-year-old daughter by another father, and wished to pursue the American Dream of home ownership. The year was 1990, just 30 years ago. Of course, we didn’t have a large nest egg for a down payment but there were programs out these to assist those in our situation.

However, the bank told us no. They took one look at our credit and said, “work on paying this stuff off and come back in a year.” So we did. It meant we had to be more diligent with our finances but we pulled it off and a year later we bought our first house – which was a better one than the place we were denied.

Having said that, let me tell you about that house: it was nothing fancy to look at. The biggest criteria we had was to live in the high school district we believed would give our then-second grader the best possible educational outcome. So we were willing to settle for a three-bedroom, one-bath home on a 25′ x 120′ lot that was built in 1925, in a nice neighborhood of similar houses. We made it into the desired school district by five blocks.

It’s worth adding that, at the time, I was also paying off student loans. However, the rules for student loans were different back then, as were the rules for being a success: it was widely understood that success could be achieved in modest, incremental steps. The large house in the suburbs wasn’t out of play, but it was assumed to be your step to take after establishing equity in a starter house. You stepped your way up through newer and newer second-hand cars or bought the low-priced base model Ford or Chevy before you got to the car you really wanted out of the showroom. And while life for me has taken its share of unexpected twists and turns, the Michael at age 55 isn’t really all that far away from what the Michael at age 25 expected him to be – it’s just that the cast of characters has expanded and the stage has changed. Overall, I don’t have a ton of bells and whistles and I’m quite cool with that.

So consider this perspective of expectations as you read on with my analysis, and let’s go back to the blockquote. While my parents aren’t Boomers (they are part of the Silent Generation as they both are in their eighties as of next month) they do have a house and someday it will be passed on to my surviving brother and I (my other brother passed away nearly a decade ago.) Whether he decides it’s a fine place for him and his wife to relocate to (and buys me out) or if we just sell it and split the proceeds, yes, it may be a nice nest egg. Now I can’t speak for him, but as long as the house isn’t underwater (figuratively and/or literally) my wife and I will do just fine.

Naturally I realize not everyone is as fortunate as I am with regard to that potential windfall, but it’s worth pointing out that my parents weren’t (and still aren’t) bells and whistles types either. We had the modest two-bedroom, one-bath house until I was seven and it got to the point the second bedroom was just too small for kids nine, seven, and three to share. Yes, there were two cars in the driveway but oftentimes at least one of them was second-hand, and the rare family vacation was often a week at a rented cottage on one of Michigan’s many inland lakes. But we had food on the table and a roof over our head, culminating in their dream of a house on enough land to placate the ball-playing needs of three growing boys – five acres was plenty enough.

That’s how I was taught, and while I didn’t take those Depression-era lessons completely to heart, I remembered enough to be prudent at times when the chips were down as I made my way in life.

So let me return to Kelly for a moment:

A combination of crushing student loan debt, low-wage jobs and escalating home and rental costs has a huge impact on Millennials and Gen-Zers. If a person does not feel financially secure nor confident about their future, it’s natural to hold off making big commitments, such as getting married, purchasing their first home and having children. These things were once taken for granted by older generations. Now, it’s a hard-to-reach and nearly impossible dream for many people. 

“Why Young Voters Are Embracing Bernie Sanders And Democratic Socialism,” Jack Kelly, Forbes, February 5, 2020.

I think Kelly definitely overstates the “taken for granted” because older generations were taught that achieving those milestones took hard work, patience, and sacrifice.

No one is putting a gun to your head to take out student loans in order to afford college. There are several alternatives:

  • Begin your college career at a more affordable state school or community college
  • Attend part-time and work full-time
  • Embark on a career that doesn’t require a college degree, such as a trade
  • Join the armed forces and eventually attend on the GI Bill

Yes, this is a sacrifice in some respects – but perhaps it’s better to sacrifice now when the stakes are low than chain yourself to decades of debt.

When it comes to the other two aspects Kelly cites, getting married and having children, we’ve often found that the younger generation does this in the wrong order by having the kids first. Now while I remind you I keep a (pretty much) family-friendly, PG-rated shop here, I have to bend the rules for a moment for a reminder:

  • Guys: think with the head on your shoulders, not the one between your legs.
  • Ladies: you have the ultimate say in the matter, and I’m not talking about abortion as birth control. If you don’t want to have a child yet, then keep those legs together.
  • I don’t care what brand of condom you use, if you’re on the Pill, or whatever method you may think will cheat the inevitable. It’s gonna fail. Remember, when it comes to birth control, only abstinence works 100 percent of the time it’s tried.

And let’s talk about high rent and health insurance costs. Has it ever occurred to our little snowflakes that perhaps part of the problem with high rent is the overhead a landlord has to deal with: taxes, upkeep, perhaps his own mortgage? A landlord also has to build in a little bit of cost for the possibility someone skips on their rent or trashes the place before they go. Yet if you can get something that may not be the newest thing in the hot development but otherwise fits your needs, that’s a little extra to save for a down payment.

Regarding health insurance, let’s just say that thanks to health insurance being mandated, there are a lot of greedy little tongues trying to lap up that manna from heaven called taxpayer money. Some of it comes from Medicare and Medicaid, and some of it comes from subsidies. Plus don’t forget that some medical payments come from dollars you weren’t taxed on. The system hasn’t been a free market in decades, which makes it way more expensive than it would be in a simple fee-for-service world. Indeed our system is broken but Medicare for All isn’t the fix for it.

I’m well past 1500 words of advice here, so I suppose it’s time to cut to the chase: the appeal of socialism is the desire to have reward without responsibility. Working to build up savings isn’t fun, and there is no shortage of people who will tell you that’s old-fashioned and the debt isn’t really that bad. Waiting for marriage to consummate a relationship is a sure ticket to being socially outcast in this day and age, but perhaps in thirty years you’ll find out your marriage is a strong one because you built it on the ground of waiting until you had the emotional part down to begin with the physical part. Now that you have a rock-solid family unit that was raised properly you can look back and laugh about it.

Perhaps I am the worst person ever to give all this advice, but in five and a half decades on this rock I’ve kind of figured out that maybe our parents and the values and morals instilled into them by previous generations were (by and large) right.

The path to socialism is the path to an epic fail. Don’t doubt me. If we’re dumb enough to set foot that way, I fear for this land I love.