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.

A rush to condemn

Like millions of other Americans, I was stunned by the news that Rush Limbaugh has been stricken with advanced-stage lung cancer, as he revealed on his show last week. I was just as stunned to learn that Limbaugh was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom as part of the State of the Union address by President Trump. (In part this is because I never watch the SotU show – I would rather just save myself the 90 minutes and read the transcript. Same goes for State of the State, county, city, etc.)

First, though, I should tell you how I was introduced to the Maharushie, and how he helped make me the political person I am today.

Back in 1993, when I changed jobs and joined a small (but rapidly growing, which is important to this part of the story) architectural firm, I met my friend Bob Densic. As it turned out, the company I worked for was growing so quickly it had to sublet a small office from another business in the building we inhabited, where four of the firm’s employees worked – no phone, and we had to be fairly quiet to not interfere with the very occasional consultations of the social workers from whom the space was subletted.

Bob was the leader of this group, and as such I quickly learned that the four of us in what he called the “Rebeldome” – in part because it was on the south side of the building, and in part from the inhabitants – were in the building’s “Rush Room.” (At this time, Limbaugh’s show was also increasing in popularity such that restaurants, coffee shops, and similar outlets had what they called “Rush Rooms” where patrons could listen in. This was before the era of widespread cell phones and way before podcasts.)

So from 12 to 3 each day, I got a dose of a “relentless pursuit of the truth” and it didn’t take me long to get hooked! I didn’t stay too long at this firm, particularly since Bob left a few months after I was hired. At my next stop I was deprived of my Rush fix (this was a company that piped in Muzak, believe it or not) so, like the nicotine addicts who stepped outside at lunchtime and the scheduled breaks, I would often be in my car with the radio on to catch the first half-hour. By the time my career had moved into my Hobbs+Black phase (the last firm I worked for in Toledo, when they had an office there) I had a good system down – headphones to listen to CDs in the morning and late afternoon, but Rush was on my old clock radio – with the volume respectfully turned down somewhat low – from 12 to 3. Years later, when I reached the career detour the good Lord gave me to take, all that windshield time between Lewes and Exmore was perfect for listening to the EIB Network.

And I think that having that exposure to political ideas through Rush inspired me to join the Young Republicans in the mid-1990s. From there I became a precinct chair and eventually a member of Wicomico County’s Republican Central Committee. More importantly for this venue, Rush was the inspiration for the name, as I wrote in 2005 on the original “about” page – the first page I ever wrote for this website, even before it went live. (I reached back into the internet archives for this one, in case you’ve never seen the earliest rendition of my site.)

Although I haven’t been nearly as faithful a listener to El Rushbo as I once was – I was repelled by what seemed to me his slobbering embrace of Donald Trump as the 2016 campaign unfolded, particularly when the field was chock-full of solid conservatives like Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, et. al. – every so often when the opportunity arises I still check in to see what he has to say. I have to admit he was on to something with Donald Trump.

I know a little bit about cancer from being married to an oncology nurse, enough to know that stage 4 lung cancer can be deadly serious. We all have our time to go, but for Rush making it to the November election, let alone his 70th birthday next January, is now quite the dicey proposition. (I noticed in the photos and videos from the ceremony that he now looks a lot older than 69, at least to me. It seems to me like he’s aged two decades in the last five years, even with the beard.) Granted, he’s been blessed to be in a financial position to be able to procure the most advanced treatments from the world’s best doctors, but his days as a radio icon are of a much smaller number than we believed he had before last week. (After all, longtime radio commentator Paul Harvey broadcast regularly until he was nearly 90.)

Yet the fact that Rush is in his final days was the source of glee to many on the Left. Needless to say, their TDS, combined with the surprise presentation of the Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union – Limbaugh states he was aware he would receive the award, but thought it would be in a more subdued ceremony later this month – brought out some of their most toxic venom on social media. It was shameful, but at the same time pitiful.

Look, you will not find me as the member of any major Democrat politician’s fan club. Following them on Facebook is about as close as I get. But, like politics used to stop at the water’s edge, the same goes for personal vendettas. Would I be pleased if Nancy Pelosi resigned tomorrow? Of course. But I would not be the one celebrating if she were diagnosed with cancer and given months or weeks to live, or collapsed suddenly from a coronary and died. That’s just not cool. It’s like the vultures on our side who pine for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to pass away so another Supreme Court seat becomes available; that really bothers me. I’d rather she enjoy a few years of retirement.

At some point, everyone of every political persuasion goes to meet our Maker. I’ll miss Rush when he’s permanently departed from being behind the golden EIB microphone, even if I didn’t always agree with him. So why can’t we remember we’re all human and we’ve supposed to love thy neighbor as thyself? It’s a struggle to keep our schadenfreude to a minimum when someone on the Left passes away, but we really should try to lead by example.

The new direction

Back in the last decade (a few days ago) I alluded to the fact I would talk about a new direction for this site, which actually extends to other aspects of my writing career. So here goes.

Last summer I did my famous (or infamous, depending on perspective) reading of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party at Pemberton Coffeehouse. As the last part of that reading I read a tease from the next project I was working on, a book about the Indivisible movement. Its basic premise was to use the statement that it was using the rules of the road laid out by the TEA Party as their own. I figured that I was a pretty good expert on how the TEA Party operates so who better to write a book grading the upstarts on their efforts?

Unfortunately, this is where I ran into a problem. I really have no passion for Indivisible; in fact, I still get their stuff and read it, alternately wanting to laugh hysterically and shake my head in disbelief that supposedly intelligent people believe some of this crap. Their being stuck on “orange man bad” makes them rather dull to consider, and there’s nowhere near the tension and conflict when the media has its back – or, really, more or less ignores them by comparison to the TEA Party. In short, there just wasn’t the desire to write 200 pages on the subject.

And then we have the whole book marketing thing. To be honest, as I noted in my latest edition of radio days, I really need a long format radio gig to feel comfortable and those are hard to come across. And even with all that, the books haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves – not for a lack of trying. I did sixteen different radio shows but what I didn’t tell you is that I contacted somewhere close to 200 in order to make that happen. There were probably eight to ten more gigs which fell through for various reasons, and by this point the book is far enough in the rearview mirror that its relevance has diminished somewhat. (For example, it’s silent on the whole impeachment saga that’s consumed political news during the latter half of 2019.) There’s a point where you can’t market old news.

I love the act of writing, but I don’t get nearly as much thrill from the acts of selling even though that’s what creates the market for the writing. It seems to me that finding someone to market books properly yet affordably is almost as unlikely as finding the winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. I know I have people who believe in and enjoy my work, but I can’t make them give me reviews or market my book for me. I can say that I’ve written two books but I can’t say I was significantly better at marketing the second effort – which involved a lot more work than the first one – than I was with the first one seven years ago.

However, having said that, I think there is a market for my writing – it may be a small niche, but it exists nonetheless. Moreover, I’m very partial to short-form writing (such as blog posts, but also my contributions to The Patriot Post and before that PJ Media, Examiner.com, and my days as a struggling syndicated columnist) so why not bring those strengths into play? Plus I retain this venue as a good base of operations. (Eventually the Rise and Fall site will go away. I would like to have a writer site to market my writing, although there’s nothing which says I couldn’t just do it here. Something for me to think and pray about.)

Thus, I have a few writing goals in mind for this year. Some are relatively easy to achieve while others are more ambitious. There is also a longer-term political goal which will hopefully be kicked off by actions I take this year, but I won’t get into that just yet.

I begin with the fate of the Indivisible book. To date I have put about 4,000 words to paper, most of which went into the introduction while I also covered a little bit about the personalities and finance. Making this an 80,000 word book would definitely be a stretch, particularly since I had intended to complete it for this November – and, like I said, my heart wasn’t in it.

However, I also have a saying – don’t let good writing go to waste. I think what can be done with this beginning of a draft would be to serialize it into a four- or five-part series after I round it out a little bit, maybe adding a couple thousand words to make the points. It may be a good thing to start up around the time of Super Tuesday since Indivisible will be actively trying to manipulate the Democrats’ nomination process, similarly to how the TEA Party tried to influence the 2012 GOP nomination.

In the interim, I want to continue a series I’ve done on a quarterly basis since last summer: the State of the TEA Party. My next installment will come later this month, but by the summer I really want to take the concept in a new, exciting direction.

My vision for the State of the TEA Party is to eventually create a quarterly journal from it – whether print, online, or both – one which creates an academic-style look at the movement for a limited, Constitutional government that the TEA Party supposedly espoused at its creation. Obviously this entails more input from other people, and that’s where some of the contacts I had in the writing of Rise and Fall as well as the gravitas of writing a strongly-researched book could help bring that to a reality. I’d love to bring more perspective from those who directly assisted me with Rise and Fall as well as others in the TEA Party who have guided it over the last decade-plus. This could also help me with a non-writing goal I spoke about in the final chapter of Rise and Fall. (Go buy the book and you’ll see what I mean.)

Long story short: I may be done as a book author – although the Lord may have other plans, and some have suggested I write a book on the Shorebirds – but I’m a long way from throwing in the towel as a writer. It’s just that, given some of the various side hustles I have – not to mention my “real” full-time job – writing a little at a time and not trying to rush through a book I’m not passionate about is the move I think is best for me and my overarching agenda.

2019: a monoblogue year in review

2019 was an interesting year, to say the least.

It began with a pizza lunch that was better than the “day of action”, but I found more comfort in catching up with some of the best artists I had reviewed for monoblogue music – a feature that finally saw its first (and alas only) local record review and other quick hits. January continued with my amazement at how quickly our safe harbor from Presidential politics had receded, meaning it was time for a widget. It was also time for some odds and ends from the holiday season, too.

In this busy month, I revised and expanded remarks I had published in The Patriot Post about our coming Constitutional crisis and reminded folks once again it was School Choice Week. But the best time I had was cranking up a new hot stove via a three part series on my fantasy baseball team comprised of Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame members.

I began February by considering the abortion question, and after the frivolity of odds and ends and so-called expert advice on running a blog, I noted the first casualty of the 2020 Democrat presidential race. We also endured our latest state of emergency and I remembered the rant that sparked the TEA Party. (Something I’m rather fond of.)

In March I reached a long-cherished milestone, my 5,000th post. In the days before that, I illustrated why $15 an hour is the wrong fight and talked about the “Jeremiah 29” conservatives. I also detailed how I got to hang out with the real pros of my avocation and with my Congressman at a local town hall meeting. But I also had fun with my version of March Madness, and checked out the newest ballpark feature before speculating who we would watch from it. Early in April I checked how I did, but it was a slow month (aside from another dose of odds and ends) because I finally released The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and began its radio tour.

My March Madness featuring the Democrat candidates wasn’t enough, so I created a second, three part helping in May. I also detailed how one of those top seeds was losing the middle class and had his delusion of support.

Speaking of delusions, another was Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan considering a Presidential run against Donald Trump. He couldn’t pull the trigger on it, as we found out in June, but in the shadow of Memorial Day I took an opportunity to promote an event for those who may have pulled a trigger in defense of our nation.

Many months after the field came into being, I detailed the initial effort of the 25th player in the Democrats’ madness, although the DNC was now beginning to do its level best to cull it through debate qualifications. There were still more odds and ends, but I had more fun making the second stop on my radio tour and attending the Downtown Salisbury Festival – allowing me to renew a long-dormant series for the first and only time in 2019.

In July I began a new project in earnest – and had still more odds and ends to go through – but most of the month was spent discussing my book’s radio tour as I covered my experiences with TEN different stations. Combine all that with some upheaval going on in my world, and it’s no wonder I could only discuss who was in and out of the Democrats’ second debates. There were two more parts of the radio tour discussed in August, with the first instance becoming more of a philosophy discussion thanks to an old friend. Again, it was a slow month as President Trump got a new challenger and we once again dealt with a mass shooting tragedy.

A very slow September brought my annual 9/11 message, a new ranking of Democratic contenders, and a subtle but very important change to this website. My focus changed thanks to a move about seven miles to the north. I was starting over from my little corner, as I detailed in October, and one of my first moves in that direction was in the realm of accountability. So what was the first election I began to cover? Naturally it was Salisbury’s.

More on that in a moment, but the month finally brought my delayed announcement of the Shorebird of the Year and my picks and pans for Delmarva’s team – a team perhaps placed at risk by prospective changes to the minor league baseball system on a scale unseen in nearly 60 years.

During the month I also debuted a feature originally begun on my book site in July, a quarterly look at the state of the TEA Party. It had little impact on November‘s election in Salisbury, which (as I guessed) sadly featured blowouts in all its races and more or less kept a leftist status quo. But at least people showed up, unlike the election in nearby Delmar.

But the TEA Party could muster up its remaining forces and go to work sounding the alarm on a proposed regional gas tax scheme that reminds me a lot of the RGGI boondoggle. And while I did the usual Thanksgiving message, the month closed out with another reminder on how to buy American.

December opened as usual with two big guns: my anniversary commemoration and the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame induction for the three-player Class of 2019. But I also revealed that a lot of people keep telling me how to blog as well as the state of play for the Democrats at that moment. (How they connect: I don’t think either of those groups have a clue.)

While I wished readers a Merry Christmas, the final weeks brought a burst of activity: the swan song of monoblogue music with one last review and the last top 5 list and a wrapup of my 2019 Rise and Fall radio tour closed the books on 2019, and not a moment too soon.

I remarked a year ago on site readership and how it had declined over the last several years as I reverted to part-time blogger status. This year the numbers fell a little more, down to 6,268 visits with a couple days to go. (This compares to 10,435 last year.) But then again this wasn’t an election year and my readership indeed rebounds for those occasions, so I’m not too worried. It’s still better to properly inform 6,000 readers than put up crap for a few times that many.

So my vision for 2020 (see what I did there?) is, for one, to cover the Delaware elections as best I can. I don’t see this as a state in play for Trump – particularly if creepy Joe Biden is the nominee from the Democrats – but it could be interesting to see what happens downballot. The GOP’s biggest handicap, as I see it, isn’t Donald Trump but a state party that doesn’t seem to mind losing. The beatings seem to be continuing until morale improves.

The second part of this vision is too lengthy to explain here, as it’s a multi-pronged approach to advancing the ideals I espouse here on a somewhat regular basis. In the first few days of the new year I will explain further; suffice to say it’s something of a different direction for me but also one with some familiar elements to it.

That, my friends, is called a tease. But isn’t that unrealized potential of a new year lurking around the corner always like that?

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2019

On previous Christmas Eves I have quoted Scripture for this occasion, most recently Luke 2:8-20. But this year I think we need a thought at large.

I know there is a small fraction of my readership that recently celebrated Impeachmas, while most others rue the day our nation became so divided. As has often been the case, today (Christmas Eve) I did the shopping for my wife and Kassie, although this year was easy because they wanted a new smart TV. (Too bad most of what it shows is dumb, but that’s a subject for another post.)

But as I milled among the crowds at a local big-box electronic retailer I noticed most people were focused on the task at hand, which would be completing that shopping list. You may not know it if you were too glued to social media, but there are a world of people out there who interact with others, saying “Merry Christmas” and generally spreading holiday cheer.

Since evening has fallen as I write this message, many of you are in church for a Christmas Eve service. Others will see this once they arrive at their destination to spend the holiday with family, or maybe they are already there opening presents. (Once we got past the little kid and Santa stage, that was our family tradition. In our case this year, because Kim’s daughter works early Christmas morning we did our presents this afternoon.)

But I wonder how many hardy people are out re-enacting the true reason for the season, portraying the various Biblical characters in a live Nativity scene. Here in Delaware Nativity scenes have created a little bit of controversy from people who just don’t get it, and spurred the (I guess) equal but opposite reaction. But as divided as they were, everyone seems to have gotten along. Bad news for Satan, good on the rest of us.

So nearly two solid months of Christmas hype (maybe closer to four in the retail world, but two in Hallmark time) is finally coming to a climax tomorrow – unless you do the Orthodox Christmas which is twelve days. (In Michael time, Christmas starts about the time our church cantata ends a couple Sundays before Christmas.) In any case, come early January all the decorations get put away for another winter. Let’s just pray the good tidings and memories stick around well beyond then.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

Telling me what to do again

It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these posts, but at a relatively slow time for serious news it’s a good time to break stuff like this out. Somehow it seems appropriate for Friday the 13th.

In my e-mail box I keep a stack of messages from various entities which often write me with an assumed name and tell me how to run my website. One of my favorite pitches is the one which tells me how lacking my SEO is – I love the effort to sound hip with the jargon on this one:

Dear monoblogue,

My experts were analyzing your website and found that your website is not handling recent updates from search engines.

Also your traffic flow is poor from last couple of months due to some of the reasons. You might know about recent Google UPDATES like Phantom 3.0, Panda 4.2, and Penguin 4.0.

Google has completely dropped all authorship functionality from the search results and web master tools. So be careful on it and take the help of a SEO company to fix it.

Obnoxious e-mail from “Alex Morgan”, whose e-mail address had a completely different name

Or maybe I just need “immediate improvement.”

(And yes, this is verbatim too.)

Hi Monoblogue.Us,

I have a complete analysis report ready with me which shows your website needs immediate improvement. Your business need to have a concrete SEO strategy in place if you want to succeed in online marketing.

We can deliver you the exact solution you are looking for your website.

We will be targeting search engine and Social networks to get you maximum visibility. Our experts will maintain good impression through our online reputation management services. Also you will get Regular updates on website to make it look fresh and error free.

Give consent, my technical team will prepare a comprehensive call to action plan to reach your target audience.

We will be looking forward to your response.

One of my annoying e-mails, from “Steve Morgan”

Here’s my response: I really love ESL pitches. The only immediate improvement I need is to have a little more time for blogging, but aside from that I would stack my body of work up against anyone’s.

And since I don’t lose any sleep over what I write, I don’t see a need for “online reputation management.” So there you go.

Speaking of ESL, try this one:

Dear monoblogue Owner,

Hope you are doing well!

We came to know that you are concerned with bringing new customers from your target market and beat your competitors to boost your business. If you are interested, we can help you to identify the gray areas and best possible solutions.

I’m confident enough to get your website on #1 Page of Google with all round improvement in your brand value and sales.

Please revert back to know more about our services.

I look forward to hearing from you.

An e-mail from “David Wilson.” Yeah, right.

Perhaps it’s from a very British-influenced nation, but carrying on…

I also get a lot of people who are interested in advertising on my site, but not in the way I would prefer. It’s often a pitch of,”Can you please write to us if you can publish an article with a link to our website or any other form to link our website and how much it will cost.”

Or, if I was so inclined, I could have someone else write it. “One of our clients has shown interest in being featured on (your site) in a guest post. We have a great team of writers and we can provide the article, or if you prefer, you can also write it and feature our client.”

How about if I just write what I like instead of selling my blog’s soul? I’m sorry to disappoint the struggling writer in some craphole country who’s not getting the quarter for the thousand-word post which would otherwise be placed in this space, but this is my modest, humble little home and I like knowing I built it.

Finally, here’s the key question:

I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how long have you been blogging for?

Sophie Naylor, Team Leader and Biscuit Consumer, bloggersconnected.com

Yes, she asked. Does my site not say it’s been around since 2005? At least her site looks somewhat legit, although I’m not one who would like to be paid in euros.

Once upon a time I thought I could make a living at this, but I’ve found there are many more people who would like to relieve me of my meager subsistence through get-rich-quick schemes for the gullible than people who would legitimately enjoy what I write and rattle my tip jar. (It still happens once in a great while, though.) But there’s still hope writing may supplement my retirement, and it did occur to me the other day that the paying job I’ve held longest in my life is that of writing for The Patriot Post.

So I suppose I’m doing something right, despite the naysayers. At least their e-mails give me a smile and inspiration.

A stone of years: monoblogue turns 14

Izzy Stradlin of Guns n’ Roses once sang, “You don’t get back 14 years in just one day,” and that’s probably true for a blog post, too. (Good song on a pretty good record, “Use Your Illusion II” – although I liked Illusion I a little better. Can you believe that double album will be 30 years old in 2021?)

But as I contemplate what a long, strange trip it’s been, it’s also apparent that so much has changed: not just the presentation as arranged by the blog theme (which is still the Twenty Sixteen theme I adopted about a year ago) but what’s placed on the site. I just used to put up SO much political stuff like press releases and analysis of races, but now I do more lengthy and meaty diatribes about the world as it is and how it should be.

So I have come pretty much full circle: now monoblogue is actually more like how it was when I first started, before I got a little too proud and before I bought into the theory that the only way to build an audience was by posting ultra-frequently. I thought I could be somebody just based on building the popularity of this website, but that task was something I tried and failed to do since it was a singular effort put together by a guy who rarely had two nickels to rub together let alone a promotions budget. So my content creation had to suffer, and eventually I just got sick of curating that crap.

Unfortunately, as I sit here I still get the feeling that I placed myself into a couple too many boxes. However, I remain a believer in the philosophy that politics should be the part-time profession of caring Americans, so on this blog you’ll always find the political somewhere: 2019 wasn’t an election year except at a local level but it has featured the runup to the 2020 balloting. It’s something I’ve had my take on every so often as it develops.

I’ve also retained my passion about the Shorebirds, and one thing I really loved doing the research on was my fantasy baseball team. With 2020 coming up, I can have the fun of working on that with a few new players and a slimmed-down roster (you’ll see what I mean.) Come spring I may be forced to revamp a little bit about Shorebird of the Month because of the changes at Perdue Stadium making it tougher to get my photos, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

But this website will soon undergo one somewhat significant change. Just as writing something every day began to become a chore I almost dreaded doing, the same goes for monoblogue music. Since the end of September I’ve had one review in my queue to do but I just don’t feel like it. For awhile I was living with the excuse that I had bad internet service (moving out into the country comes with that disadvantage to be sure) but I’ve since rectified that and don’t have to live off my phone’s hotspot. Sometime in December I will finally put up that review – my first since July – and select one final top 5 before I put monoblogue music mostly to bed except maybe for some follow-up reviews on previous top 5 bands (and I make no promises on that.) The reviews had a pretty good five-plus year run but like a lot of series in the past I just got tired of the concept. (I’m not tired of Weekend of Local Rock, either, but then again I never put my photos from Casting Crowns up. I think six weeks is past its expiration date.)

To be perfectly honest, I’d also like to get rid of some of the previous notions about my website. One transition I’m planning to make in the coming weeks is changing my Rise and Fall site to an author-based site for promotion of all my works, past, present, and future. And since this website is one of those works, has spawned 5,000-plus posts, was the germ of inspiration for my first book (So We May Breathe Free, 2012), and led to several other of my writing jobs, it’s an important piece going forward that demands the best content. These music reviews weren’t making the cut.

And in order to put a better foot forward, I’m also working slowly on something I promised last year – it’s made a lot easier thanks to a trove of photo disks I found over the summer. I’ve done about ten posts so far and once I work on Shorebird of the Week posts (which generally only needed one photo) the backlog of about 200 posts where photos were lost will quickly begin to dwindle. That is a good thing and it’s brought back a lot of memories.

So I’m not getting back 14 years in just one day, but I don’t have to: the good memories are already right here. Now I’m ready to start year number 15.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

It’s that time of year again. Unlike most of the rest of the world these days, I keep the holidays in order and don’t think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. So today I’m going to count my blessings.

First and foremost is being married to my wife. Even though this didn’t happen until comparatively late in life, everything occurs in the Lord’s time. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to meet her when we were both far younger – perhaps it would have saved us both a lot of heartache. But then again we may not have been attracted to each other for whatever reason, so – as I said – things occur in the Lord’s time, not mine. And since it was a package deal I got to watch her daughter grow up and become a pretty good adult.

The second big blessing is a home of our own, one which placed us in the First State for the first time. It’s not brand new and it’s not fancy, but it’s the first time I’ve lived in a house that wasn’t standing when Jimmy Carter was president. (I suppose the apartment I lived in for two years wasn’t either, but that was an apartment.)

Another blessing that’s come over the last year or so is the extended family of our church small group. My family is spread out from Ohio to Missouri to Florida, so I don’t often see them. These folks are the surrogates who keep me grounded.

I have also had the blessing of finishing and marketing my book, The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. Now I’m not going to lie to you and claim it’s been a best seller (although there’s still time) but I have received the opportunity to speak to audiences in 13 different states, not counting podcasts and the like. Tomorrow I wrap up the radio tour with an internet radio show, which I suppose covers the other 37 states, right?

So when we gather around the table this evening (generally Kim’s family eats around supper time as opposed to my growing up with dinner during the Lions game) and say the blessing, I have a lot for which to be thankful. Hopefully you can say the same.

Oh, and one more thing to be thankful about: having those of you who still care enough to stop by my little corner of the internet. It’s not the largest number ever but each one is one more than I would have had without the website. On Sunday I’ll do that navel-gazing since it will be 14 years of monoblogue.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Picks and pans from a Shorebird fan, 2019 edition

After long years of waiting, we finally got our concourse. Of all the picks, I have to say that is the best! It gives fans a new perspective and kids who want to shag home run balls a place to go.

Now that it’s here, the time has come to increase its potential. How about a couple mobile food carts or even just specialty vendors who walk that part of the stadium on large crowd nights? Maybe someday they can expand it in the left-field corner enough for a seating area and/or (even better) a mini-stage to bring back Thursday postgame concerts.

But while the new concourse is nice, I think most of the significant increase in attendance – the Shorebirds drew 218,704 (3,265 per game), which is over 17,000 more in just two more dates compared to 2018 and their best number since 2012 – comes from having a winning team. We can’t do much about that from a fan standpoint, although next year’s Shorebirds will inherit from a fairly talented pool below them in the organization, but we can suggest some areas for improvement and praise that which is good.

The good picks begins at the top, with the league’s executive of the year being Shorebird GM Chris Bitters. Give the man a raise! Fan-friendly but hesitant to take the spotlight, Chris has shepherded the franchise through a lengthy series of physical plant improvements which need to extend to one more aspect of the facilities: the back-of-the-house functions like restrooms, offices, and food service. All of those could use a little bit of freshening up and now is a good time to make that investment. This would give them the opportunity for CCTV in the restrooms so fans don’t miss the action.

There are also a couple other things which need to be freshened up, though. After two seasons the frog shuffle and video racing are getting a bit long in the tooth, so it might be time for the sponsors to consider some new stuff. More importantly, though, it may be time to freshen up the food offerings. I thought I heard this was the last year of their contract so maybe we can bring in someone else who’s better. I’m not expecting fine dining here, but I think we can do better than what we’ve had over the last few seasons.

The one big pan I would have is the new netting, simply because it eliminates one feature I enjoy about games, taking player pictures. It’s either that or moving way down the left field line, which sort of defeats the purpose unless I spend a few hundred dollars on a serious telephoto lens. I’m not that serious about it.

The other problem with this is that it allows fans to pay less attention to the game than they already do – which is how some number of people got hurt before the netting was extended. My seat isn’t the most risky, but over fifteen seasons I have been buzzed by a line drive (and snatched one out of the air with a nice grab), hit by an errant bunt and gotten a nice welt on the elbow from a flying bat, so even though I pay pretty close attention I still get the safety aspect. I ended up securing three foul balls that bounced or rolled to me this season, which is a high for me. But that seemed like too much of a tradeoff.

I went over a lot of stuff at the end of last season which still holds true, but thank goodness they found a better site for the new Sheriff’s office.

So I want to spend a little time going over a different sort of pick. Remember back in March when I predicted the Shorebirds’ opening day roster? This is how I did on those picks.

On starting pitchers, of the six I predicted all six spent time with the Shorebirds this year. However, Matthew Hammonds was primarily a reliever and Blaine Knight was here a very brief time before his promotion. And they didn’t piggyback Grayson Rodriguez as much as I thought they would. (6 of 6)

As for the relief corps, five of the seven made it here although none stayed all season. We saw just a little bit of Ryan Conroy (two appearances) but more of Nick Gruener (retired at mid-season), Tyler Joyner and Zach Matson (both promoted to Frederick), and Ryan Wilson (who came up and stayed a starter.) Kevin Magee spent his second season in Aberdeen and Victor Romero barely pitched due to injury – just a handful of GCL rehab appearances from Frederick’s roster. (11 of 13)

Both my catchers missed significant time – Alfredo Gonzalez spent the whole season on Frederick’s IL (or perhaps was placed there as coaching prep) while Cody Roberts missed half the season with a legitimate injury suffered in the very first game of the campaign but salvaged some games with Delmarva. (12 of 15)

Out of six infielders, three spent most of the season with Delmarva – Seamus Curran at first, Adam Hall at shortstop, and Alexis Torres at second. However, I underestimated both J.C. Escarra and Willy Yahn, who both began the season with Frederick – Yahn eventually ended it with the Bowie Baysox. On the flip side, Zach McLeod went the other way: back from Aberdeen to the GCL and perhaps out of a job as he was pedestrian there. He was probably my biggest miss. (15 of 21)

Finally, my four outfielders, all of whom spent time here. Nick Horvath was the only full-season player, though, as the other three (Jaylen Ferguson, Robert Neustrom, and Robbie Thorburn) played a combined total of 118 games here – just five more than Horvath on his own.

So I got 19 of 25. Can’t say that’s half bad for minor league baseball.